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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Thursday, June 30, 2011

REPUBLICAN PARADES?

"Republican adults celebrate Fourth of July more intensively"

This just came up on the Ace of Spades HQ. Harvard did a study and found out something about the 4th of July. No, they didn't just figure out it is in commemoration of the American Revolution. They figured out its no good for Democrats.

Paul Bedard writes at US News&World Report:
The three key findings of those attending July 4th celebrations:
  • When done before the age of 18, it increases the likelihood of a youth identifying as a Republican by at least 2 percent.
  • It raises the likelihood that parade watchers will vote for a Republican candidate by 4 percent.
  • It boosts the likelihood a reveler will vote by about 1 percent and increases the chances they'll make a political contribution by 3 percent.
What's more, the impact isn't fleeting. "Surprisingly, the estimates show that the impact on political preferences is permanent, with no evidence of the effects depreciating as individuals become older,"said the Harvard report.
In other words: according to this study, the more openly and freely patriotic the event, the more it helps Republicans. It helps people be more likely to vote for a Republican, it helps people become more involved in politics and voting, and it helps form their later understanding of life and political values.

Assuming this study is valid - and I tend to give counterintiutive studies greater weight than those that confirm the study maker's bias - this says quite a bit about American politics.

Harvard Kennedy School Assistant Professor David Yanagizawa-Drott and Bocconi University Assistant Professor Andreas Madestam (wow, those names) try to paint this as the GOP being more successful at aligning themselves with patriotism. But even if that's all this shows, it still doesn't reflect well on Democrats or their voters.

First off, most of the "aligning themselves with patriotism" that Republicans have done has been just basic patriotic work like having flag pins and red white and blue bunting, something the local DNC office in town utterly lacks. By contrast, Democrats have consistently questioned, criticized, and found fault with the nation and its actions. It isn't that the US deserves no question or criticism, its that when that ends up being your hallmark, by contrast the other guys look a whole lot more patriotic.

Second, this looks more like one party aligns better with what people want and remember America as being. And whether that's true or not, it says volumes about what the Democratic Party acts like. Because over the years, those initial images and experiences will be supplanted and shaped by what you see and learn about the parties. Apparently what people are learning and experiencing is not contradicting what they thought early on.

Personally I don't see the Republican Party as any more "American" than the Democratic party. But I can definitely see why people would consider one the more openly patriotic and more tied to small town American values than the other.

Third, what does it say about Democratic Party voters when they want to vote for the candidates that don't remind them of patriotism and small town Americana?

Now, what would this study be like if it was done on gay pride parades?

A BILLION COINS

"All the perplexities, confusion and distress in America arise, not from defects in their Constitution or Confederation, not from want of honor or virtue, so much as from the downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and circulation."
-John Adams

The US Government keeps trying to promote the dollar coin. Worldwide, coins for the basic denomination of money are in use most places, such as one-pound coins in England, one-Euro coins around continental Europe (for now at least) and so on. They've been trying for years without much success.

Their biggest debacle was the Susan B Anthony dollar, released with huge amounts of promotion and pomp, probably because almost nobody knew who she was before the coin was stamped. The big problem with that one was its size: it was almost exactly the same size and weight as a quarter. Sure, it had an angular stamp rather than circular on the face (the edges were still circular) and it looked different, but it was so similar to the quarter that vending machines had a hard time telling them apart. So did consumers, and they didn't care for it.

So the US Treasury tried several other tactics. My favorite was the Sacajawea gold dollar, which was plated with gold. That looked great, was the right size, and had a special weight. It felt and looked valuable. I used to keep one in my wallet as an emergency buck, something just in case. I still see them around and would rather spend them than paper money.

One of the reasons these coins don't take off is that Americans are just not used to coins being worth much. its been a quarter century since you could buy anything useful with coins, and people just aren't used to using them much. Coins take up more space than bills, and most folks aren't used to carrying them around.

I should make a qualifier here. People who live in states with a sales tax or who have to use toll roads carry coins around, but they don't carry them around to spend. You keep money in your car for the toll bridge, you keep a mountain of silver around because of that annoying sales tax that keeps giving you more change than you expected, but most folks don't carry a pouch filled with coins.

Stores have a problem with the dollar coins as well. Here's a cash register drawer:


See those coin slots? There's five. The four main ones are filled with change, but the fifth is used to store rolls of coins in case you need to break out more. Either you carry extra rolls of coins, which is what everyone is used to, or you carry dollar coins in that last slot, which nobody is used to, and which slows things down when you run out (call the manager, get some out of the safe, etc).

This is the same reason that the $2 bill only took off at the ponies; there's nowhere to put one, most big stores put 50s in that last slot and small ones put checks in there. Sure, people can adapt easy enough (small stores put big bills under the drawer, if they take any), but its not something folks are used to.

The latest effort by the mint is a presidents series, dollar coins with different presidents on them. These are also gold, so I'd probably like them, but the problem is I've never seen one. In fact, few people have. The US Treasury Department has a billion of the things stored in a warehouse somewhere (not Fort Knox). Since 2007 the federal government has required the creation of these coins, but since most stores don't care for them, most people don't want them, and most machines aren't ready for them, they don't get into circulation very well.

So they go on shelves. Which really is a shame because I love the idea, I wish we had more coins, and I do carry a coin purse around. Its not a very good one, but its the only one I have. I like coins, they feel valuable, they look good, and they make me think of olden days and pieces of eight. They're treasure. Banknotes are just paper (well cloth, but you know what I mean).

Yet I rarely use money to buy things these days, even though I like the coins. I use a piece of plastic or a number. Its just more convenient. I use coins to buy little stuff, but anything over a couple bucks out comes the card. I don't have to carry money with that debit card, just the plastic.

And maybe that has a lot to do with it too; its like adding a new fancy buggy whip as Henry Ford rolls Model Ts off the assembly line. Maybe they are great, but who needs them these days?

OF TWO FACES

"let me be absolutely clear."

President Obama said that congress should skip their vacation if they can't get the budget passed. He condemned congress for being lazy and not doing its job, and claims that Republicans are the main problem since they won't just give in and agree to tax increases instead of cuts.

I don't have a problem with congress doing without vacations if they can't do their most basic constitutional duty and present a budget like they are legally required to every year. I even think they should immediately and publicly announce that they're cutting their own salaries, benefits, and staff to start off with, showing genuine desire to deal with the debt.

But really, President Obama? Telling others they need to vacation less and work harder? Seriously? I've heard of throwing rocks in glass houses, but this guy is packing a minigun.

Then he called tax hikes the "sacred cow" of Republicans, condemning them for not wanting to raise taxes in bad economic times. This is just hilarious, given that the entire budget is apparently a sacred cow to the Democrats, who want to cut nothing and just raise taxes. Nothing.

Even the AARP in one of their patented "scare the seniors" ads mentioned several ridiculous spending programs and called for them to be cut instead of doing anything whatsoever with Medicare (cut, reform, doesn't matter, just don't touch it, is their position - if you're a Republican). But to the Democrats in Washington? Nothing can be touched.

And he's telling Republicans to drop their sacred cow? Dude, you have a buffalo herd of them. Couldn't you cull a few?

Ooh it doesn't stop there. President Obama called six times for corporate tax breaks used to buy jets to be cut, telling the Republicans they're awful for not doing so in his speech yesterday. Except... the "stimulus" package that he and the Democrats in congress told everyone over and over was absolutely necessary to ram through instantly, without reading, to save the country from unemployment as high as eight percent ... that stimulus package was the bill that gave these businesses the tax cut Obama is referring to.

Uh... if its such a great idea to get rid of, why did you put it into law to begin with? Not a single Republican voted for that piece of trash. I agree, cut it, but why are you yelling about that when it was your idea to begin with?

Look, people will put up with a lot from politicians. They'll accept that you're basically crooked, they will tolerate you being a scumbag, they will even accept you being partisan and pointlessly hostile to someone because they're from another party.

But one thing they won't really put up with is bald faced hypocrisy. Lack of integrity really grates people's nerves, like a rasp on an exposed spinal cord.

Leadership isn't doing one or two things in 2 years then yelling at others to do something. Its getting in front, helping and showing them how, working side by side with them to get it done. Simply throwing a budget so lousy that nobody voted for it is not enough. Roll up your sleeves, put down the mashie, and get to work with something other than your jaw.

And who is it that is trying to stop Obama from being clear, that he has to keep appealing that they don't keep him from it?

PEASALL

"He's a suitor!"

One of my favorite movies of all time is O Brother Where Art Thou, the Coen brothers remake of the Odyssey in which three escaped convicts discover a treasure in music. And the soundtrack (which was a huge best seller) also was a treasure, something I listen to quite often. Its packed with old time gospel, blues, and bluegrass numbers that are charming, sad, and wonderful.

There was a concert that was put on before the movie came out, featuring all the acts that were in the soundtrack called Down From the Mountain which was terrific too - you can watch it on Youtube or if you have Netflix its available for streaming. In that concert were the Peasall Sisters.

These cuties played the daughters of George Clooney's character and they were in the concert, too. They had grown up a little bit (the oldest really shot up) and you can tell the oldest (Sarah) is just terrified to be on stage while the two younger don't much care, they just are trying to sing. The other two are Hannah and Leah and they could sing pretty well for tykes.

They did the song "In The Highways," which apparently was written for the movie, both in the film (in the background during a political rally) and in the concert. They're adorable, but that was 10 years ago and they've grown up some. They have a disc out I want to buy as soon as I can called Home To You which includes the old song Logtown, which is sad and beautiful:



I love this old time stuff for three reasons. One, its part of my heritage and background, as an American I love the things from my past because it helps remind me of who I am now and how we all got here. Like a Dutchman who loves things about the Netherlands or a Black man who thinks about his grandfather's heritage in Africa, Americans justly ought to enjoy their history and heritage.

Two, the music is so genuine. Unlike Pop Culture which is primarily focused on excitement, emotion, and sales, Folk Culture is focused on genuine production by regular people as part of a society. Bluegrass is just folks, its the songs about life and hard and good times, honest and real. They sing about sadness and death and loss with clarity and openness, unashamed to talk about their future and where they will be one day. The music has a reality to it that no other music does, although the Blues and Country comes close.

And three, the music is unashamedly, straight forward Christian. There's no attempt to force faith on anyone, theres, nothing deliberate, their Christianity is just part of life. It is presumed, and expressed not at some breathless emotional and self-focused level like modern "Contemporary Christian Music" but at a basic, personal level. This is just how they are and its such a part of them that it comes out in their work, not to reach some goal, but just as part of the music and life.

And that's both refreshing and comforting in these days of hostile, fundamentalist atheism and so much pressure toward secularism and contempt toward faith.

The Peasall Sisters are all Christians and they have a gentle, honest faith that comes out in all their music. They have wonderful, clear young voices that blend in beautiful harmony, and the simple accompaniment is subdued enough to just give them some music to sing by rather than a performance. I can't recommend this disc enough. Lots of their stuff is available to listen to on Youtube.

PICTURE OF THE DAY


That little guy has no idea how much it would hurt if dad let go, it doesn't even occur to him.

Quote of the Day

"I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them."
-John Wayne, The Shootist

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A BIT OF REST

I did a bit too much yesterday and in the process tore my back up some, so light blogging today. Still, I got those little ground cover plants I bought put in, and they should grow in nicely over the years.

Supposedly you can walk on these and it won't upset them too much, and they seem pretty hardy and love the sun, so I hope they really take where I planted them.

NEVERMIND...

"Yet here these same champions of international law have lost their voices, and their outrage, when it comes to making what should be the easiest of judgments"

Emily
Gilad Shalit is an Israeli soldier who was captured by palestinian terrorists and has been held in captivity five years. His capture through a tunnel dug under the Gaza strip* led to closing these tunnels and eventually a brief war between Israel and the palestinian settlements that spread into Lebanon when that country assisted them and helped harbor rocket attacks.

Shalit is still being held captive, and the human rights groups around the world are taking swift and decisive action to commemorate this fifth anniversary. They are writing letters. That's got Hamas quaking in its boots. Here's what Amnesty International says:

Marking five years since the capture of Gilad Shalit, Israeli, palestinian and international human rights organizations state:

Hamas must immediately end inhumane and illegal treatment of Gilad Shalit.

Staff Sergeant Gilad Shalit has been in captivity for five years. Those holding him have refused to allow him to communicate with his family, nor have they provided information on his well-being and the conditions in which he is being held. The organizations stress that this conduct is inhumane and a violation of international humanitarian law.

Hamas authorities in Gaza must immediately end the cruel and inhuman treatment of Gilad Shalit. Until he is released, they must enable him to communicate with his family and should grant him access to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Note what's missing here. No condemnation of Hamas, no demand for his release, no comment on the methods by which Hamas goes about its business. Just a demand they not be mean to him and let the Red Cross check him out.

Ed Driscoll can't figure this response out, nor the way the left so often tends to shrug at radical oppression in the Middle East. The very same things that they claim some rhetoric and activity might lead to in the west, they have little to no comment about when it actually does happen in Islamic nations. As Ed puts it "What it is about the Middle East that causes self-styled “Progressives” to suddenly mumble, 'Nevermind,' ala Emily Litella?"

Emily Litella for you who are too young to remember was one of Gilda Radner's characters on the original Saturday Night Live crew who would come on their fake news segment and launch into an angry diatribe that was utterly mistaken and bizarre, and when corrected would say "nevermind!" It was SNL's first quotable tagline. Like most of Radner's bits it was kind of funny, once, but somehow endures.

It isn't just the middle east, of course. There's no huge feminist uprising against female "circumcision" in Africa, there's no huge feminist uprising against selective abortion and killing girl babies in India and China. There's no big gay movement to get more rights for homosexuals in Russia. But the pattern is most obvious when it comes to Muslims.

I think there's three reasons why the left acts this way when confronted by the evils of non-western countries. This is about the activist, loud, and cause-joining left, not the basic left-leaning guy sitting on the porch with lemonade.

ACT LOCAL
The first is the most obvious and the one they'll always say first: they can't change Iran, but they can change, say, Idaho. These guys can't really get Kim Jong Il to stop murdering people for refusing to sing his praises, but they can stop Newt Gingrich from saying President Obama is the "Food Stamp President" no matter how accurate it is.

Besides its scary to anger groups that will threaten to kill you and go into a rioting, burning, and looting tantrum when annoyed. You cans protest Sarah Palin for being female without being leftist in complete safety, but you'll get disappeared if you go to Iran and complain about how female protesters are being systematically raped in prison.

But this point is not completely honest because when the left's outrage machine gets really built up they can influence non-western nations such as South Africa's apartheid system in the 1980s, but mostly its about fixing problems in the west. Which brings us to number two...

WHO CARES ABOUT TONGA
These movements aren't really working so much for their adopted cause as they are to change the west. What I mean is this: when gay activists or environmentalists or feminists throw a fit over something, they aren't so much interested in their stated cause as they are in the West dealing with this stated cause.

If Iran changes its policy, fine, but that doesn't really help their status or feeling of satisfaction as much as getting America or England to change something. Who cares if Tonga stops something the left dislikes, they're tiny and meaningless (to the activist, not Tongans), but getting a western country to change something or even pay attention shows real power and status.

So when the left fought against Apartheid, they were genuinely concerned about the system of racial oppression in that nation, but they were more concerned with how they could make the west look bad for not doing anything about it, particularly Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. This was a chance to smear these conservative leaders as racists and supporters of an evil regime, even though it predated their births and had been a problem long before the left started making so much noise about it.

In addition, the goal here is not so much precisely what these groups are fighting for so much as a rebuilding of western culture and structures to more closely align with a leftist worldview, which brings us to number three...

The left's worldview is based upon certain concepts and presuppositions which conflict at times, but follow a hierarchy. That's a lot of jargon, but what it means is this: leftists have an unwritten, unexamined list of what's more important than other things in the back of their minds which controls how they respond to any situation. They aren't unique in this, everyone does, but the left's is a bit more arbitrary and contradictory than most.

Muslims are now considered an other, a protected, oppressed minority with a Just Complaint© against the west for cruel down-keeping by the man. Muslims have replaced Jews as the dusky group with a legitimate complaint of oppression over the centuries, and its a much more comfortable fit for the left. Muslims are opposed to America, while Israel was a friend. Muslims reject Christianity and Judaism, so they stand shoulder to shoulder with the left's opposition to the Judeo-Christian heritage of the US.

And when the left looks at the world, it is in terms not of right and wrong, but of oppressor and oppressed. They see anyone who is opposed to the White Male European Christian Empire® (WMECE) as an oppressed other, an outsider who by definition of not being the WMECE member as being a victim of it. Because there are no other categories to this sort of leftist: you're either oppressed or the oppressor. And if you have power or are in the majority you are the oppressor by definition, without exception, always, no matter what you do or who you are.

So Muslims, being non-WMECE and even better an enemy of the west, are now an ally, a put-upon minority who should be defended. Anyone who is critical of the Muslim is part of the oppressor and an Islamophobe. Anyone who the Muslim opposes is one of the bad guys.

So for the left to condemn these guys would be to betray the basic system of hierarchy: if they do wrong, well its forgivable because they were forced to it by the oppressive west, and they would stop if only we would treat them better, and they just need education, which George Bush tried to keep from them with bombs. So they might condemn forcing women to wear a shapeless bag and have no rights, but it will always be qualified, limited, and in subdued tones.

Besides, if you complain about the obvious and what everyone else condemns, you won't get face time on CNN or inches in the New York Times.

SO...
So the left has their agenda, it just isn't necessarily what it appears to be. And if that agenda becomes self-destructively contradictory, well you shove the confusing parts behind attacks on anyone who brings it up, name-calling, paper-machet puppets, drum circles, and chants.

And when the Islamic world says that a woman can be condemned to death as a filthy, seductive whore who lost her virginity to a rape gang, well its time to point at how evil Christians are for wanting people to not kill babies, and isn't Sarah Palin stupid?

*Incidentally, yeah, that's the same area the philistines lived in in the Old Testament; Goliath and all.

PICTURE OF THE DAY


And the little girl is thinking... "I'm surrounded by idiots."

Quote of the Day

"Fortunately we have help from the media”
-Michelle Obama

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

DOUGLAS MEMORIES

"Here's Mike!"

I grew up in the 70s, starting high school in 1983. I realize that makes me older than most of my readers (at least according to most blog demographics), but time does that and you'll all be here some day soon.

I remember the Mike Douglas Show, I used to watch it once in a while, along with the Merv Griffin Show. And by "once in a while" I mean I watched it once a season, maybe. We didn't see a lot of TV when I grew up, we were too busy running around playing outside, drawing, building things with Lego, etc.

Mike Douglas always struck me as an old guy trying to be young and hip. Looking back now I realize he was sort of hip for the times, but he was that odd cool that the 70s produced when the establishment was shifting and a lot of older icons put on young-looking clothes and tried to fit in. It never really seemed to work for me, but the show was on for 21 years, until its end in 1982.

Mike Douglas was the voice of Prince Charming in the Disney Cinderella cartoon. Most of his career was lounge singing although he did a stint with the Kay Kyser orchestra. His hipster credentials not very strong, but the show was actually more interesting than I thought as a kid.

For instance, he had Frank Zappa on the show. In fact, he had a lot of really interesting, great acts like ELO, James Brown, Ray Charles, Bo Diddley, and the Rolling Stones. Douglas didn't have a set cohost, he had a different person each week, such as Minnie Pearl, Don Rickles, Jimmy Dean, Martha Rae, and so on. Most were singers, others were fellow Vegas-style acts, but it was a long rotation of different people (I recall seeing Rickles on one show).

Tiger Woods at age 2 was on the show showing off his golf swing for Bob Hope and Jimmy Stewart.



Harrison Ford (and the other Star Wars cast promoting the new movie in 1977), Red Foxx, Moe Howard, Alfred Hitchcock, Roy Clark, Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King jr and many others were on the show. The acts also included the people I most remember, the recycled 70s B level semi talents like Marcel Marceau, Lola Falana, Connie Francis, Charlie Callas and so on. I swear these guys survived only by moving from one talk show to the next with little actual work.

Some of the guests and acts were the zenith of cool at the time, like John Lennon and Yoko Ono, but today are awkwardly 70s or just so obscure you don't understand it, such as Professor Backwards or Marylin McCoo.

It is interesting to look back though, and see what things were more like than I recall. I never sat through a whole show, it always would go to a song by Liberace or a conversation between Jerry Vale and Joey Hetherton and I would go outside and play. When Mike would sing some crooner ballad to start out the show that was usually enough to switch channels or leave.


RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT

"The nearly 400 cameras in Chicago, for example, generated more than $64 million in 2009, the last year for which complete figures were available."

When it comes to traffic cameras, Leslie Blakey, executive director of the nonprofit Campaign to Stop Red Light Running, says there are two camps; civil libertarians who dislike machines handing out tickets, and people who want to break the law and don't like to get tickets.

I'm more in the civil libertarian camp, as I think the cameras are not very helpful when it comes to actual traffic safety, but are clearly intended just to raise revenue for the city and state. However, there are apparently a lot of judges who fall into one of these two camps.

In Los Angeles, the cameras are losing money rather than making it, according to Alex Johnson at NBC:
The city gets only a third of the revenue generated by camera citations, many of which go unpaid anyway because judges refuse to enforce them, the city controller's office reported last year. It found in an audit that if you add it all up, operating the cameras has cost $1 million to $1.5 million a year more than they've generated in fines, even as "the program has not been able to document conclusively an increase in public safety."
Now, there have been several studies that suggest lives are saved and safety is increased by having traffic cameras up, but they aren't very strong studies, and some show that the cameras can actually decrease safety by making people more likely to stomp on the brakes or react poorly when they see one.

Part of the problem with these studies is that overall traffic deaths and problems have decreased, largely because of the changes in car safety features and design over the years. So putting up a camera may have had nothing to do with how much less lethal traffic became. Another problem is that the data isn't very complete.
How incomplete? In a city like Chicago, the institute had to include data from all 2,900 signalized intersections — fewer than 200 of which, or less than 7 percent — actually had cameras throughout the study period.
As Johnson says, the study may still be accurate, but there's not much scientific basis for concluding that.

In general, I suspect most people who oppose traffic cameras do so because they don't want to get tickets. And that means that at least some of them want to break the law and not get caught - if not most. The arguments usually run along the lines of how people make mistakes and you have to give them a break, but I've seen how people drive in Los Angeles and they aren't making temporary mistakes. They drive like lunatics. Everyone apparently thinks those ads with a car sliding sideways on a wet surface are examples of proper driving, they think they're the Stig in the Fast and the Furious and they are superior drivers who'll never have problems.

So they opposition to these cameras is more the typical Libertarian "I don't like this because it stops me from doing what I want" opposition than any small "l" lover of liberty opposition on principle. I do think most people are disturbed by the law being enforced by machines, but on a visceral level rather than philosophical. And that's why I am largely ambivalent about traffic cameras: I recognize that a lot of my opposition is discomfort with big brother machines.

What is not mentioned in the NBC report is the fraud involved in these cameras. One of the favorite tricks is to shorten yellow light times to nail more people running a red, and at least sometimes these cameras have been proven to not calculate speed correctly. And that's what pushes me over the edge.

My perspective on this is more theoretical than most, since I don't have a car and I don't drive. I have driven in the past (and run a red light before by accident) but its been a long time ago.

The fact that these are almost entirely installed to generate revenue, often rigged to trick drivers with the lights, and unreliable makes me dislike the entire system. And I suspect that more than a few judges in Los Angeles share this perspective, if they aren't just speeders who'd rather not get caught.

PICTURE OF THE DAY

Night and Day

Quote of the Day

"By engaging in simplistic and sometimes misleading environmental narratives -- by exaggerating the stakes and brushing over the inconvenient facts that stand in the way of foregone conclusions -- we do our field, and our subjects, a disservice."
-journalist Hannah Nordhaus

Monday, June 27, 2011

THE AGENDA

"The only thing all your past failures have in common is you."

New York State Assembly has passed a homosexual "marriage" bill for the state. This is one of few times the homosexual advocacy groups have been successful at actually getting a vote to go their way rather than forcing it on people through an activist judge or three.

Something truly symptomatic of this vote was State Senator Roy McDonald who used profanity to defend his flip flop on the issue, and said:
You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn't black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing. You might not like that. You might be very cynical about that. Well, *!% it, I don't care what you think. I'm trying to do the right thing.
Now, Democrats love this kind of guy because it supposedly shows he's "evolved" and "grew" to agree with them, and tries to portray himself as being beyond the whole democrat/Republican divide by... acting like a Democrat. But look more closely at what he's saying here. His first sentence says it all:

You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn't black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing.

Uh, didn't you just say you "evolve" beyond good and bad, black and white? That's like saying "Eventually you get to the point you don't care about Yankees vs Red Sox, and that's why I'm supporting the Red Sox." He just argued that he's taking this position because he believes it to be the right thing to do, right after saying he's evolved past right vs wrong.

And that's too common in this debate. People aren't moving away from rigid, ideological position to a loving, more flexible one. They're moving from one rigid ideological position to a different rigid, ideological position. They haven't swapped away from religious and inflexible dogma, they're just picking an alternative one that is more socially popular at the moment.

Because supporting homosexual "marriage" doesn't demonstrate a lack of convictions or moral ambiguity, it is always presented as the more moral choice, the better way, the more kind and loving, the right position to hold. People who disagree may be portrayed as religious zealots and inflexible extremists, but they're depicted as being sinful without using that term. If you oppose homosexual "marriage" then you're a bigot, you want to prevent people from having their rights, you are hateful. Those are moral judgments by someone holding an alternative and opposition moral position, not amoral judgments by someone who doesn't care about morality.

Ace at the HQ wrote a long and powerful piece over the weekend about trust, the flow of events, and the obvious pattern of control that homosexual activists are engaged in.
That has been the game all along. It is a cunning game, designed, as it is, to boil the frog slowly so that he never jumps out of the pot.

But like most cunning strategems, it is entirely dishonest, and always has been so.

Do the ends justify the means? For those convinced this is a sacred right unfairly denied to gays, I suppose it must seem that the ends justify the means. Certainly the stratagem employed belies such a belief.

But dishonesty remains dishonesty, which I think most still consider a rather bad thing even in this rapidly-"evolving" world where apparently only One Single Thing Really Matters.

It becomes harder and harder to believe anything gay marriage proponents claim about their future agenda when every past claim about their next moves has been false (and false from the moment of utterance).
The fact is, these people are deliberate and systematic in their efforts to step by step change society to fit their whims. This isn't new, it has long been used by an outside group. Commenter Diver noted:
Charles Porterfield Krauth, a 19th century theologian, said heresy always proceeds in three stages:

-weakness/asking for toleration
-growing strength/asking for for equal rights
-institutional control/suppression of orthodoxy.
That's the pattern followed over and over by anyone who wants to take over a culture. You start out just asking for people to not be so mean and end up being mean, all too often. The only time the final stage does not happen is when you make a deliberate, conscious, and continuous effort to fight for liberty instead of dominance. It is the story of every revolution, which is why almost all of them end in misery.

Ace's main point is that, having won, the next step is to eliminate any religious objections (and marriages) that deny homosexual "marriage." They swear that's not the goal but its obvious from the start that's what will take place, and what, then, happens to religious freedom in America? Another commenter noted this:
"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison, and his successor will die a martyr."
-Francis Cardinal George, 2010.
Is that really so unthinkable with the path of modern culture? I think he's being excessively pessimistic, but there are many on the left who'd celebrate such an outcome.

Why, though, do homosexuals and activists want to push this so hard? Twenty years ago, gay groups mocked marriage as an institution, despised the idea of gay marriage, and the general culture thought it was ridiculous. In ten years, suddenly it became a pressing, desperate human rights struggle, a fight for liberty and social justice.

This has never, ever been about marriage. Almost no homosexuals ever "marry" even in places where its considered legal, and few even care or want such a thing. Homosexuality has from the very first instance of human activity been about pleasure and sexual gratification, not relationship. Marriage doesn't bring either one of those things - in fact it can lessen both.

No, what this is about and has always been about is two separate concepts working side by side.

First, there's the effort to demolish every traditional and Judeo-Christian influence and tattered remains of foundation in western society. Some do this on purpose, some do it without understanding what or why they do it, but that is the goal: remove that influence and build a new society free of these old, judgmental, tyrannical constructs in favor of new judgmental, tyrannical constructs.

But the second is the more prevalent and the most common one from homosexuals. Basically it goes like this: being gay makes you feel like a weird outsider and feel guilty because you desire what everyone around you thinks is repulsive at the very least. In order to fix these feelings of estrangement and guilt, some gays are loudly demanding everyone stop saying they're weird, normalize their behavior - no matter how strange - in society, and shun anyone who dares disagree with this agenda.

There's a scene in BlackAdder II (episode "Bells") that illustrates this well and, appropriately enough, deals with Edmund being concerned that he's turning gay. He goes to visit a Wise Old Woman to find out a solution and here's how it goes:
WOMAN: Very well then. Three other paths are open to you. Three cunning plans to cure thy ailment.
EDMUND: Oh good.
WOMAN: The first is simple. Kill Bob!
EDMUND: Never.
WOMAN: Then try the second. Kill your self!
EDMUND: No. And the third?
WOMAN: The third is to ensure that no one else ever knows.
EDMUND: Ha, that sounds more like it. How?
WOMAN: Kill everybody in the whole world. Ah, ha, ha ...
The homosexual agenda is an attempt to fix what's inside by making everyone else act differently. Change everybody in the whole world! and you'll feel better. Except what's inside is what causes these feelings, not everyone else around you. They aren't going to change no matter how accepting the world acts and how the structure of the planet is altered.

And that's what this law in New York State is about. The thing is, how far does this law go? What would prevent two female room mates from getting married, or two brothers? If they want the tax and legal benefits, why not? What is the philosophical and legal argument to prevent this?

You cannot argue incest and breeding, because two men or two women are not going to have children. If you argue that it must be about love, then you've introduced an alien and unprecedented concept into the legal definition and exercise of marriage, something never before even hinted at. If you argue that they are only doing so because of the legal benefits... that's the entire argument of homosexual marriage to begin with.

All you're left with is the argument of societal building blocks, of the core of culture and the future of a people. And that's the entire argument against homosexual "marriage." The idea of a married couple being the very foundation of culture and society is the fundamental argument against homosexual "marriage" let alone open and accepted behavior.

The fact that a married couple creates stability, a continuing influence on a culture, and is the foundation for passing on traditions, patterns, and shared morés of a culture is the basis for the secular argument against homosexual "marriage." The fact that homosexual marriage cannot produce children, only borrow them from others, makes this an even more pressing and significant issue.

And since the left - particularly the activist left such as people pressing this issue - are utterly opposed to the concept of passing on culture's traditions and values, they cannot argue against roommate weddings, or even weddings of sister and brothers, since nothing compels them to breed.

This isn't a slippery slope argument, it is an inevitable consequence argument, and every legal decision since the dawn of law requires analysis to see what will likely result and come next from the decision. If you argue that ruling that its okay for Bob to shoot Bill, then you have to consider what the consequences of that decision is, how people are likely to use and abuse it, and what the legal consequences of that decision will be. You cannot simply dismiss that fact by yelling "slippery slope" like you're in an Oprah show and she passed you the mic.

And this doesn't even touch on other issues like age differences and species differences, or multiple marriages.

Ultimately, this push for homosexual "marriage" will win, and spread by legal mandate and the "full faith and credit" act to every state in the union. There's simply nothing anyone can do to stop it at this point, because culture has been rammed to this point and the legal system is designed in such a way as to be taken advantage of in this manner.

The problem is, the people who "win" this victory today won't be around to see the damage it does generations into the future, and even if they were, they'd deny it could possibly have been their fault anyway.

TEACHING WITH WORLDVIEWS

"We need a hero, couragous sacrificing people, setting examples for all of us. Everybody loves a hero, people line up for 'em, cheer for them, scream their names, and years later tell how they stood in the rain for hours just to get a glimpse of the one who told them to HOLD ON a second longer. I believe theres a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble. And finally gets us to die with pride. Even though sometimes we have to be steady and give up the thing we want most, even our dreams. "
-May Parker, Spider-Man 2

On Friday I wrote a bit about worldviews, popular culture, and why it is that despite having such fine thinkers and think tanks, conservatism has such little impact on government and culture. Eric wrote in the comments that he's seen some efforts to bring conservatism to popular entertainment and its been awful, which is often true. Even when it isn't lousy, its often just sub par, boring, or poorly done.

Movies like An American Carol push conservative ideology (and engage in a bit of wish fulfillment with a Michael Moore character being humiliated and instructed in the truth) but were just not very good. The problem is that they were ideologically conservative rather than conservative in worldview.

Here's what I mean. A few years back, The Telegraph put out a list of what they thought were the top 10 conservative movies of the last decade and a few years before that, National Review put out their list of top 25 conservative films. These lists were not movies that were overtly conservative, but rather movies that presumed certain conservative ideas to be true in their story and dialogue.

Instead of teaching or lecturing conservatism (or Libertarianism, ala Ayn Rand), these movies just tell a story, and tell it well. They simply are well made films that just happen to believe and presume certain basic things instead of others that the left do.

Consider some of the choices, such as Groundhog Day. This movie has a message, but the message is a natural and reasonable result of the circumstances. A selfish, pompous jerk learns to care about others and appreciate small town life through a bizarre time loop in which he lives the same day over and over. Yes his girlfriend is a super leftist softy, but the overall themes are that neighbors, caring about others, doing right, and simple joys of life are superior to money, power, fame, and focusing on yourself.

You just don't really notice that message so much because the film is so entertaining, funny, and interesting to watch.

Master and Commander: Far Side of the World is a powerful, epic film with amazing acting, effects, design, settings and story. You're so pulled in by the tale of friendship and one man's apparently mad fixation on destroying an enemy that you don't notice that the friendship is a demonstration of giving up what you want to do what is right and an examination of duty above self interest. These are themes that everyone, everywhere need to be reminded of, but today's movies are almost always the opposite. Which brings me to another example...

I love the first two Sam Raimi Spider-man movies because of their incredibly powerful conservative message of self denial. Peter Parker wants to follow his own dream and marry the girl he loves, but he finds out through his experiences that doing what is right and showing responsibility trumps personal desires. Yet these movies handle these themes in such a way that they aren't preached, they are just presumed and demonstrated through a natural, reasonable sequence of events and reactions. Spider-man isn't a hero because he has spider powers, he's a hero that happens to have spider-powers.

These movies demonstrate principles that reject the norm in popular entertainment. Instead of glorying in the self and pleasure, instead of telling people to follow their dream and be themselves, they tell people that they are responsible to more than just their own id, and that they must do what is right, even when it costs you.

Movies like Blast From the Past do an excellent job of contrasting modern sensibilities with those of long ago, while movies such as Ghostbusters show the woes of government drones and the truth of life on campus versus life in the real world. The Dark Knight showed that doign right will often earn you animosity, and that people will pressure you to give up and give in but you must not.

A film that is simply preaching or about ideology ends up unlikable and pedantic rather than entertaining. You cannot change people by "preaching at them," (in the modern use of the term, not proper, real preaching), you can only change someone's worldview by forcing them to confront what they've not considered before and demonstrating a better way through example.

As I said last week:
Worldviews are philosophical in origin, but usually created by culture and stories, by emotion and experience than thought. Worldviews are the mental patterns by which we understand the world around us, but they are rarely examined and understood, we don't tend to think through why we hold the presuppositions and presumptions that we do.

So our worldviews tend to be more formed by what reaches us subconsciously and surrounds us more than what makes sense or how we've been taught unless we were raised specifically to shape our understanding of the world (in religions, for example). For most people, that's through entertainment and popular culture: music, television, movies, etc.
Entertainment can and must be used, along with all other methods and media, to reach people with a better way and with the truth. That means making films and songs and television shows and writing books and so on with a worldview that challenges what they presume in an entertaining, consistent way.

One more illustration, this time in reverse. The anti-war film A Bridge Too Far showed the horrors of war and how things can go terribly wrong. The final scenes of the movie are of a dutch household so overflowing with wounded young soldiers that they're lying out in the yard moaning and bleeding alone, helpless.

The final images you're left with are the waste and terrors of war, how it can be so very awful. Instead of glory, these men met agony, death, and mutilation. Instead of excitement and adventure, they found terror. They trusted their commanding officers, who let them down in such a ghastly way that in the end, Market Garden delivered over 15,000 allied casualties in one 9-day battle. That's more than three times as many as died in Iraq over six years.

A Bridge Too Far showed heroism and failure, struggles to do right, great acting, great storytelling, great sets, great effects, and an overall wonderful movie that people still enjoy today, almost 35 years later. The movie didn't set out to show war is evil, only to show how this battle worked out and you walked away realizing how horrible war could be.

Compare that with, say, Redacted, or Lions for Lambs, or In The Green Zone, or any number of leftist anti-Bush films cranked out from 2004-2008. These movies set out to show that President Bush was an awful person and that the Iraq war and rebuilding was not just a mistake but an evil conspiracy to enrich certain people at the expense of young lives.

They sucked, and made less than a million dollars between them all, despite costing tens of millions to make. They were not entertaining stories, they were tracts, they were the worst sort of sermon, pounding you with the message which nobody wanted to believe to begin with, and few walked away convinced or even leaning toward their intended conclusion.

The reason they didn't work is the same reason overtly conservative movies don't work and why 90% or more of "Contemporary Christian" music sucks. Because its about the message and being part of a specific ideological group rather than being a quality artistic effort that just happens to also have Christian themes or conservative themes or leftist themes.

There have been some really well made, really leftist movies out there. Platoon was a great movie with a hard left, anti-war, anti-conservative theme. Well made, well acted, well shot, well written, and hard leftist. It worked because the movie was from a leftist worldview with leftist presumptions telling a story rather than the other way around.

And that's what it will take to reach out to popular culture: well made efforts with a good worldview that happens to be in and behind them rather than didactic sermons meant to hammer people into shape.

DON'T STAY HOME WITH THE BLUES

Mamma been laid off
Pappa been laid off
My brother's been laid off
For more than two years now
Ooh can't get a job
Billy can't get a job
Ooh they gotta listen to the blues

Sade
Sade put out the song "Feel No Pain" in 1992 on the album Love Deluxe. She delivers it in her classic torch singer blues style and its a great song, like all of the album. Come to think of it I cannot remember a single Sade song I haven't liked.

Whether this was intended to be a timeless song about the hardships that come in life or specifically about England's or America's economic problems at that time I do not know but it surely fits today better than in 1992.

The chorus, such as it is, is an appeal for these people to get help; is this meant religiously, as a prayer, or an appeal for people to help their neighbors, or is it a request for greater government assistance because they cannot make it on their own?

Help them to strive
Help them to move on
Help them to have some future
Help them to live long
Help them to live life
Help them to smile
Don't let them stay home and listen to the blues

Again, that's not clear, which is part of what makes it such a good song. She doesn't try to make a political statement here, she's just making music. Everyone needs help sometimes, I'm not so conservative that I believe every single person in every single circumstance should always stand on their own.

I even believe that the government has a role in helping people in need, although I believe almost all of that help should come in the form of getting out of the way so individual citizens can help themselves as much as possible. My version of government assistance is to punish fraud and evil and to give as much freedom to business and society as possible. When big brother isn't taking up so much space, individual people can move more freely.

Pappa been laid off
Mamma been laid off
Billy can't get a job
For too long too long
Don't let them lose
We gotta give them a chance
It's gonna come back on everyone
If you don't make them dance
Don't let them stay home and listen to the blues

Unemployment benefits have recently been extended for 99 weeks total now, with more people out looking for work than at any time in American history. Granted, there are more people in America than at any previous time as well, but that doesn't change the basic fact: there are more people facing the pain this song describes than ever before in the nation.

Jobs Crater
As Ben Tracy notes at CBS:
About 6.2 million Americans, 45.1 percent of all unemployed workers in this country, have been jobless for more than six months - at its highest since the Great Depression.
Whether or not the White House can cook the numbers to make it look like we're seeing growth in this country, there aren't jobs out there for far too many people.

There's nothing sacred (why why why)
breathing hatred
We have to face it (why why why)
No one can take it
And feel no pain

And when you go through that kind of difficulty - particularly if you have a family or people to support - it can be very hard not to become bitter, to curse God, and to turn on others. The pain eats you inside, the difficulty seems insurmountable, and for men particularly it feels emasculating. A job is all men have left in modern culture to show they can protect, provide, and demonstrate their strength.

When that goes away, what's left?

Mamma been laid off
Pappa been laid off
My brother's been laid off
For more than two years now
Ooh can't get a job
Billy can't get a job
Ooh they gotta listen to the blues

Help them to strive
Help them to move on
Help them to have some future
Help them to live long
Help them to live life
Help them to smile
Don't let them stay home and listen to the blues

Some less optimistic pundits are suggesting this may be the new normal, 5-8% official unemployment numbers. But a nation cannot survive having 10-15% of its population perpetually out of work as the actual, full numbers would demonstrate. Not only does that create a significant burden on the system, it means that businesses and tax bases are perpetually depressed.

One day we're gonna wake up
And the ghetto's all around
All over my friend
Have you ever seen a man break down?

That means the whole country slouches into the ghetto, slowly, over time. Like Detroit whose decline was so awful since the 1960s, an entire nation would see that kind of collapse. Not just things being less easy and wealthy, but things regressing in terms of technology, infrastructure, security, and sanitary conditions. Like the collapse of the Roman empire, a nation that loses its taxes and business will slide back in time to less advanced, less sophisticated times.

Do you know how that feels
To walk the streets with your head held high
Why, why, why
Oh Lord, have mercy
Did you ever see a man break down

There's nothing sacred
Breathing hatred
We have to face it
No one can take it (how can they take that much)
And feel no pain

Ooh did you ever see a man break down

This isn't something we can ignore or figure will eventually just get better. The core reasons for this collapse have to be addressed for our sakes and our future, the children we see today. When President Bush was running for election the big cry was that the youth of that time would be the first in American history to not see their lives better than their parents.

Well guess what: that might really happen unless things change now. And the only way that can happen is to reverse the incredibly destructive policies and hard left shift that the Obama administration and the Democrats in office are imposing on the country.

This happens every time the left gets power in the US. The public recoils in horror at what they've done and hard left governments don't get power again for decades, but then a new generation says "aw, lets try it, they sound so compassionate!" and we get this kind of thing again. I'd like to think "never again" would be the cry, but with the popular media and academia dominated by the left, Orwell's 1984 has got nothing on the rewriting that goes on to hide what really happened and why.


Sade, "Feel No Pain."

PICTURE OF THE DAY

Strategic Emergency

Quotes of the day

“Dissent is the highest form of Patriotism”
“Blind faith in bad leadership is not patriotism”
“Since when has it been part of American patriotism to keep our mouths shut?”
–Hillary Clinton 2006

“Whose side are you on?”
-Hillary Clinton in 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011

THINKING AND NOT DOING

"So conservatives, stop trying to be Karl Rove and be Steven Spielberg for a change. If that’s too hard, try being Steven Soderbergh or even Steve Guttenberg."

Mr Smith
Conservatives are great at making committees. We're pretty organized and orderly, we tend to be business connected. So we form these groups and talk and think, especially think tanks like The Heritage Foundation and so on. They put out papers, study, analyze, and discuss matters. They think.

That's great as far as it goes, it gives ammunition to fight the left, it proves the problems the left are causing and shows how to fix them, and so on. These Think Tanks have their place. Andrew Leigh at Big Government points out their limitations, though:
Mike Flynn recently wrote a cri de coeur on Big Government asking why conservatives have failed to move back the needle on government spending despite the profusion of conservative think tanks, foundations, policy shops, grass-roots organizations, and sundry other pointy-headed groups, mostly based in Washington, DC (although every state now has their equivalents, usually in the state capital.)
He's right, as far as he goes, when he says the reason these fail to make much of a difference is that they don't address popular culture. He points out that while Conservatives are great at ideas and thinking, they rarely connect with the hearts of the public, and rarely even try. Its not that these concepts can't reach the heart, but that conservatives aren't very good at making the attempt:
...if you don’t believe concepts like freedom, patriotism, family, personal responsibility, property rights, and the struggle against tyranny can be portrayed with heart and passion, then maybe you should stick to writing policy papers.
This is a common distinction of left and right though: left tends to be more emotional and subjective in its analysis of the world (its "worldview") while the right tends to be more rational and objective.

That doesn't make one side right and the other wrong, but it does make one side tend to appeal more to emotions and heart and the other mind and thoughts. And it means that the left has easily dominated entertainment and popular culture for so long their viewpoint has become conventional wisdom and entrenched as the west's worldview.

Worldviews are philosophical in origin, but usually created by culture and stories, by emotion and experience than thought. Worldviews are the mental patterns by which we understand the world around us, but they are rarely examined and understood, we don't tend to think through why we hold the presuppositions and presumptions that we do.

So our worldviews tend to be more formed by what reaches us subconsciously and surrounds us more than what makes sense or how we've been taught unless we were raised specifically to shape our understanding of the world (in religions, for example). For most people, that's through entertainment and popular culture: music, television, movies, etc.

So when Andrew Leigh calls for conservatives to put out pop culture materials, he's got a point: this is how most people form their worldviews, and we have to challenge the presumptions and conventional wisdom around us. There's a big picture of Jimmy Stewart in Mr Smith Goes to Washington accompanying the article. Leigh doesn't mention it specifically, but it is a part of the national consciousness on how we view politics and culture.

In that movie the heroic and innocent Mr Smith goes up against the evil corporations, trying to get a government funding scheme to buy land for a boy's organization which a hydroelectric company desires. Why the land should go to a boy's organization rather than a private power company is not explained, nor why no other land can go to the boys, whereas a dam is pretty well limited to where it can be. The power company is shown to be corrupt and cronyist with politicians, manipulating everyone with money and power, while Mr Smith is alone and populist, with support from home and shines with goodness.

The idea of the federal government buying land for boys is portrayed as absolute good while building a dam is shown as horribly evil. The scheme Smith comes up with is for the boys to pay for the land eventually with fundraisers, but they could do that before they get the land, and as a result not require unconstitutional funding by the federal government at the expense of taxpayers. Meanwhile the dam is an entirely private deal, building a power plant to let people run movie theaters such as the ones that showed Mr Smith Goes to Washington.

That doesn't make the movie bad, it makes the movie one more drip into the ocean of popular culture shaping worldview, and we ought to at least be aware of it. And its hardly the first, or the only example of this kind of shaping.

Hollywood and the rest of popular culture has been pushing these themes for ages: business is bad, government expansion and intervention is good. John Wayne did dozens of quick westerns in the 30s in which he played a white-hatted federal agent who'd come into town and solve all the problems for the people as if westerners were not in fact self-sufficient and independent, and needed the government to fix things. Wayne probably disagreed with the worldview of these films but probably saw them as harmless and they were steady work.

This continuous, almost unchallenged stream of popular culture shaped by left leaning ideas has gotten more and more prevalent until now its rare to see anything that even dares question these ideas, and usually they are watered down as fast as possible to avoid being too un-PC (NCIS, 24, etc).

Andrew Leigh is putting together another group of artists to try to get good entertainment put out that also happens to have a more conservative worldview. Not tracts and preaching, but good stories and action that don't hammer you with leftist presumptions like government will save us, Republicans and businessmen are always evil, Christians are always perverts or lunatics, and so on.

That's a good effort and frankly its bizarre anyone has to put out a conscious effort to get wealthier conservatives to try to support such a concept. But you and I can do this at home too. What are your kids watching and listening to? Do you even talk it over with them? Do you question what you're told personally? Do you listen to the lyrics of the songs you love and wonder if they're even logical or do they push a certain viewpoint you wouldn't usually support?

Are you watching shows that promote leftist values and worldviews and ignoring that part because they are funny? Maybe its time to stop. Maybe its time to not support, fund, and pay people to propagandize and push a false worldview. Not through boycotts but just personal choice. I don't mean "I'll never watch another George Clooney movie!" but "that film presents conservative viewpoints as evil without even trying to give a different perspective."

Like they say, it starts at home, and the easiest way to fight that worldview that the popular culture feeds us is to make a deliberate, conscious effort to examine what we presume and inform what we presuppose. Instead of being spoon fed your culture, choose what's best and do the same for your kids. And hey, if you have money or talent, use those to promote what's right.

ANTEA MOVEMENTS

"The schism in the Coffee Party is so bad, they split up into two different booths at Denny’s."
-Jim Treacher

CPUSA meeting
When the Tea Party movement spontaneously formed out of grass roots frustration and anger at the continual overreach and arrogance of government which got exponentially worse under the Democrats, the left was at first contemptuous. The movement meant nothing, it wasn't worth covering, who cares, its just a couple old people.

Then they got insulting: its all racists, they're old and stupid, they're afraid of change, and we should call them a disgusting homosexual term, even on national TV. Finally, the legacy media realized this was too big to ignore and not going away, so some coverage started, but the coverage was scant, argumentative, and tried to focus on the negative as much as possible.

Ultimately, the Tea Party was seen to be a genuine, dangerous political force when in November of 2010, Democrats were slapped around in a shocking manner, far more than the usual off-election woes for the sitting president.

The left, once they started to realize the Tea Party was significant, tried to start up opposing groups. The Coffee Party, the No Labels group, Crash the Tea Party, the Brownbaggers, The Other 95%, A New Way Forward, the One Nation Movement... on and on it went. Now, disgraced communist and truther Van Jones is trying to set up the American Dream Movement, an ironic name from someone who hates the country as much as he does. It wasn't enough for the Coffee Party USA to share its initials with the Communist Party USA, now there's an open communist forming another version.

None of them amounted to anything. They had a lot of publicity and write ups in big media outlets like the Washington Post and New York Times, but were just meaningless blips. I live in one of the most leftist states in the union and they weren't more than a few white dudes in a coffee shop here, and only met once or twice each.

At Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds mocks the new attempt by Jones, but a reader had the best reaction:
Liberals have their own Tea Party. Witness the events in Madison, Wisc. and other state capitals earlier this year. Liberals were able to gather significant numbers of passionate protesters in a short period of time. Public sector unions are the liberal Tea Party.

The problem for liberals is that they need to extend their appeal beyond that narrow base. The Tea Party’s success is driven by the fact that it has gathered people with diverse viewpoints and united them on the single issue of government spending and taxes. As long as the battle lines are public sector unions vs. everyone else, liberals will continue to lose the debate.
And that's the big difference, the Tea Party is just folks who have had enough, regular people so outraged and frustrated with decades of contempt from the government and misuse of their money, compounded by horrible economic times, that they rose up in an unprecedented manner.

If the Arab Spring movement has any western equivalents, its the Tea Party: regular people connected by social media rising up for liberty.

On the other hand, the left's version is not just old and entrenched, not just funded by big special interests and top-down managed, but connected heavily to government and power. In essence this is a battle between the regular citizens of the US and the government sector. The citizens are tired of being the host for an increasingly aggressive parasite that demands more and more money while requiring greater control over their lives.

Its hard to see why on earth anyone, anywhere, would be against the Tea Party movement unless they're part of the problem and benefit from this system. But its easy to see why these other movements keep dying out. There's no passion or energy to fuel them, and an attempt to get ordinary citizens to struggle against themselves and for the parasite is not exactly going to inspire a lot of membership.

Its just sad to see so many on the left not get this, and think the worst of the Tea Party.

WORD AROUND THE NET

"Because you can’t spell unethical with out UN"

Spyker AutoSanity prevailed in the Netherlands, and Geert Wilders has been found not guilty of hate speech for honestly portraying radical Islam. Well, mostly prevailed, since the people that cost the country so much time and money even having the trial in the first place are still in power and aren't being billed for the expenses.

Something every insurance company has ever done is ration its coverage. They can't afford to cover everything for everybody, so they have to say "no" sometimes. The advantage of having a free market system is that chances are if you have a real problem, you can find an insurer that will cover you - it will just cost you. If the government takes over all the system and refuses to cover you, you're out of options.

That's why when people talk about "death panels" and "rationing" in the context of socialized medicine, its a problem. And when Cass Sunstein, President Obama's head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs says this:
Rather than ensuring that everyone get the best care possible, Sunstein wrote that government should rely instead on the "value of a statistical life year" (VSLY), which would likely result in significantly lower benefit calculations for elderly people and significantly higher benefits for children.

Government would assign a dollar value to your life in terms of what it's worth, and if you exceeded that limit, well, too bad. Britain's National Health Service has a similar measure of cost-effectiveness called the "quality adjusted life year" to see if your life is worth saving.

In the paper, Sunstein said, "I urge that the government should indeed focus on statistical life years rather than statistical lives. A program that saves young people produces more welfare than one that saves old people." He added that under the VSLY approach, "Older
people are treated worse for one reason, they are older. This is not an injustice."
... it makes people nervous about what they have in mind.

The United Nations sometimes seems like it was founded to hammer on Israel. Its Council on Human Rights (CHR) consistently and continuously attacks Israel while ignoring other countries.
Israel demanded Friday a UN vote and called on members to vote against a Human Rights Council agenda for the next five years, which will keep Israel as the only permanent state to be targeted out of 192 member-states.
...
The US, Canada, and Palau are the only countries that joined Israel in objecting to the agenda, which passed with an automatic approval of 154 states.
That's right, a council with Cuba, Saudi Arabia, China, and until a few months ago Libya voted to keep Israel as a continual target of condemnation. What a shock. The UN already had to dismantle the CHR's predecessor, the Human Rights Commission was disbanded for being basically worthless, dominated by human rights violators, and attacking Israel, so it was rebuilt... and does exactly the same thing. As William Jacobson says, defund, dismantle. Ship the UN somewhere they fit in better, like Germany.

Oregon's state government has decided to increase water standards, as I wrote about last week. The water standards were perfectly safe in the state already (far beyond the safe level, in fact) but without a vote or legislation, the regulatory agencies of the state just decided to increase the standards to ten times the federal levels. Republicans in the legislature decided that perhaps this should have been put to a vote, and offered legislation that would require the Senate to approve regulatory changes, but the bill was shot down by the Democrat Majority.

Named "the race" and clearly a Hispanic supremacist group with ties to Reconquista radicals, La Raza is also tied to some Mexican prison gangs. That's no deterrant to President Obama, though, who plans on speaking at the yearly La Raza national conference. Imagine a group of whites claiming to be working to help white people in America exclusively, called "The Race" or "The People." Now imagine what would happen if any president went to speak at their conference.

Texas has been busy. They tried passing legislation that would make it illegal for airport security workers to engage in certain search procedures (which are basically groping passengers), but they backed down when the Obama administration stamped its foot. They passed legislation making it legal to create and sell incandescent bulbs in the state, and most recfently, the state senate committee sent a bill to the legislature outlawing "sanctuary cities." Technically these cities are already breaking federal immigration laws, but since the feds won't do anything about it, apparently Texas has decided it will.

Arizona passed a law a while back that prohibits education in its state school system which
  1. Promote overthrowing the U.S. government;
  2. Promote resentment towards a race or class of people;
  3. Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic race; and
  4. Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.
Recently, the state superintendent finds that Tuscon's Unified School District's Ethnic Studies program (particularly its Mexican Studies portion) violated this law. Apparently they were pushing Mexican superiority, although the story does not say exactly, although another story says that some charge that the schools promote racial resentment. TUSD has 60 days to prove they are in compliance or lose $15 million in funding. Why they're offering ethnic studies to begin with is my question.

Gerrymandering is being discussed a lot lately, as the US starts redistricting in response to the 2010 census. Usually the complaint is that the people making districts are doing it too much - they are creating ridiculous, confusing districts based on political advantage rather than proportional representation. However, the Delaware Black Caucus has a different approach: they are angry that the Democratic Party majority of the state legislature isn't gerrymandering enough.

Unable to get the DREAM Act to pass in congress, the Obama administration is trying its favorite ploy: just implement it by regulation. Neil Munro at the Daily Caller reports:
The new rules were quietly announced Friday with a new memo from top officials at the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. The “prosecutorial discretion” memo says officials need not enforce immigration laws if illegal immigrants are enrolled in an education center or if their relatives have volunteered for the US military.

“They’re pushing the [immigration] agents to be even more lax, to go further in not enforcing the law,” said Kris Kobach, Kansas’ secretary of state.
...
“We think it is an excellent step,” said Laura Vasquez, at the Hispanic-advocacy group, La Raza...
Why President Obama even bothers with trying to get legislation passed to begin with I can't figure out.

California's thermostats and electrical grid tracks how you use your power instead of just how much you use it. President Obama likes the "smart grid" idea, but most people who aren't pleased with government intrusion oppose it. Now someone has been arrested protesting the installation of these Big Brother devices, and hopefully more resistance will build.

White House energy secretary Chu promised that by the end of spring the White House would have (more) solar panels and a solar powered hot water heater on the roof. Its summer and they still aren't up. Its likely they'd interfere with security and communications, but the plan is still in place. This kind of thing sort of calls into question the consistency of the Obama administration's demands everyone else move to this sort of energy production.

Meanwhile, GM's Volt plant was supposedly going to be this big demonstration of alternate energy. They put solar arrays on the roof and bought wind power. The solar panels cost 3 million to install and save... fifteen thousand a year on energy costs. As Seton Motley notes at Big Government, that will take just two hundred years - assuming no replacements and the flow of power is uninterrupted by heavy clouds.

When you've lost the whackos in your group, you know you've gone too far. Mark Lynard threw a pie in the face of Bjorn Lomborg for questioning some alarmist science, but even he has had enough of the IPCC's shoddy and questionable reports. This time the IPCC claimed that 80% of the world's energy could be produced by alternate sources like wind and solar which have proved insufficient for even 1%. According to Andrew Orlowsky at The Register:
Mark Lynas called foul, saying the reliance on such a tainted and obvious source of propaganda damaged the cause of activists.

"The IPCC must urgently review its policies for hiring lead authors – and I would have thought that not only should biased ‘grey literature’ be rejected, but campaigners from NGOs should not be allowed to join the lead author group and thereby review their own work.

"There is even a commercial conflict of interest here given that the renewables industry stands to be the main beneficiary of any change in government policies based on the IPCC report’s conclusions. Had it been an oil industry intervention which led the IPCC to a particular conclusion, Greenpeace et al would have course have been screaming blue murder," wrote Lynas.
Lynas then noted if calling for consistency and good science made you a denier, then he was a denier. Welcome to the club, now go apologize to Lomborg.
Maryland's public school system is now requiring all students to take indoctrination courses on climate alarmism before they can graduate. And people wonder why so many parents are home schooling these days.

Antony Wiener was pushed out of congress for sexting girls and sending pictures of his namesake out while being married. I have no problem with someone showing that poor judgment and the inability to keep a simple promise from being tossed out of power, but what about Charles Schumer? His latest stunt is to use his power to force the patent office to review a patent claim by someone because his banking buddies aren't happy with it.

It turns out this guy named Claudio Ballard came up with a great system to help process digital checks, and patented it. Banks want to use this process, but don't want to pay Ballard's company, so they keep violating the patent and getting sued and they're tired of it. So they tapped their buddy Schumer to fix things, and he's working on it. Cronyism: what capitalism becomes when the government works for big business.

Jon Stewart is under a lot of pressure lately. First he went berserk on Fox claiming that he wasn't biased and besides he was a comedian and anyone who thinks CNN is biased is insane. Then he got in trouble with blacks for doing an Amos 'n' Andy voice impression supposedly as GOP presidential candidate Cain, and then he had to (sort of) apologize for calling Fox Viewers "most consistently misinformed media viewers" when even left leaning sites like PolitiFact said that was false.

Here's what Stewart based his attack on Fox viewers on, a study which found (courtesy Ace of Spades HQ):
  • 91 percent believe the stimulus legislation lost jobs
  • 72 percent believe the health reform law will increase the deficit
  • 72 percent believe the economy is getting worse
  • 60 percent believe climate change is not occurring
See, that's opinion, not fact. You might disagree with these conclusions, but that doesn't make them misinformed, just of a different opinion. But since they're all leftist talking points,

The clown nose is off Stewart and his pose as a moderate humorist just having fun with politics is getting less and less plausible even to people who don't follow politics much. Maybe he can get back to just being funny, which he was before 2001, instead of trying to manipulate opinion which he's been doing for about ten years.

Meanwhile Keith Olbermann restarted his "Countdown" show, on Al Gore's struggling Current TV channel. Your cable provider almost certainly carries this station but almost nobody watches it. They spent a fortune on hiring and setting up the show, which had as its first guest... Michael Moore. Yeah. That tells you pretty much all you need to know, apparently MSNBC was holding Keith back, believe it or not. Ace giggles at the racial diversity on Olbermann's staff, too.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the "stimulus" package contributed to almost doubling the national debt. According to the Democrats it absolutely had to be passed as soon as possible or unemployment could get as high as 8%. These days 8% would be a relief.

When the US Government took over General Motors in the most blatant socialism the country has ever seen, they looked at ways to cut costs. What they did was to cut pensions, a continuous sore point for business and government everywhere. Except they only cut non-union pensions, which made up a tiny part of the business' expenses.

Saab ran out of money, it can't pay its employees. Heavily subsidized by the Swedish government, the car and airplane maker never had a huge market share, and usually had very expensive vehicles. They made some good cars but never could get much business and the future of Saab is not seen as possible by most after repeatedly staving off collapse with foreign investments. Spyker, the badge that Saab took over, has restarted and has made some interesting cars but whether they can survive or not is another question entirely. I just have to question how big a market there is for yet another really expensive high end car these days.

Five Russian nuclear technicians died in a plane crash recently. They were all working on Iran's nuclear power plants, and while no official investigation of foul play is ongoing, you have to wonder about Mossad's involvement. I doubt the world is much poorer for their demise.

John McCain got a lot of heat for suggesting that the Arizona wildfires were caused by illegal immigrants. McCain is a cantankerous, unlikable moderate Republican but in this case it appears he's right - and it only made sense. According to the Cochise County Sheriff:
"The bottom line is, there was nobody in the park [who] would've been there legally," Dever said. "There were no vehicles, no nothing. It's a high-intensity drug trafficking and human smuggling area. We have scouts that hang out there all the time. They light signal fires, they light warming fires because it gets cold at night … There is nothing to indicate that there was any other cause. And the highest probability -- not possibility -- is that this is how this fire started."
True, it could have been drug smugglers, but there's a fine line between them and illegals crossing the border. Don't expect any apologies or retractions to be coming.

Nobody talks much about the Misery Index, created under the Carter administration. Back then the press was so eager to report bad news they overcame their natural bias toward the left and talked about how awful things were. After Reagan won the presidency a huge landslide victory over President Carter, the press became more circumspect: if only we'd kept our mouths shut. Still, every once in a while the index pops up, and recently it did at CNBC:
...misery, as measured in the unofficial Misery Index that simply totals the unemployment and inflation rates, is at a 28-year high, reflective of how weak the economic recovery has been and how far there is to go.

The index, first compiled during the soaring inflation days of the 1970s by economist Arthur Okun, is registering a nausea-inducing 12.7—9.1 percent for unemployment and 3.6 percent for annualized inflation—a number not seen since 1983. The index has been above 10 since November 2009 and had been under double-digits from June 1993 through May 2008.
Jeff Cox might be in trouble from the left, now.

The Crow was Brandon Lee's final movie, and it showed off what a talent he would be. The movie was a success and is still well-liked, but Alex Tse is going to remake it. Why? Well it might make money, I guess. Bradley Cooper has been picked to take over the main character Brandon Lee played. You may have seen Bradley Cooper as a pretty boy in A-Team, Hangover, and Valentine's Day. He seems like an odd casting choice.

And finally Minot, North Dakota is facing rising flood waters. There's been a lot of flooding this year, especially in the middle America states.

And that's the Word Around the Net for June 24, 2011. Go enjoy summer.