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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

CROWDER'S CANDY REDISTRIBUTION

"Is that a costume?  You didn't build that!"

Stephen Crowder is lots of fun and his videos are pretty clever, and I knkow this is all over the place, but I want to help it reach more people.


Redistribution isn't fair.  "I worked hard for this candy!"  "Its wrong to take my candy, that's stealing!"
Notice: the kids getting the candy thought this was a terrific idea.

REFORMATION DAY

"Here I stand, I can do no more"
-Martin Luther

Today is the day that Martin Luther, almost 500 years ago, hammered his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenburg church.  This wasn't an odd thing to do, it was sort of the public bulletin board and was used to announce debates or statements people had.  Martin Luther didn't have anything magical or special in mind, he just was posting a series of complaints about the actions and policy of the Roman Catholic Church.
From that, partly thanks to the new Guttenberg press, the Protestant Reformation erupted across Europe, forcing the Roman Catholic church to reform its self (eliminating some of the worst things Luther complained about) and shattering the entire system of one church rule, and eventually forming the modern concept of nation states as a result of the upheavals, in the Treaty of Westphalia.
In fact, as moments in history go, there are few more incredibly momentous than Luther's trick with the door.  The entire western world changed on that day, although nobody knew it at the time.  Greater liberty and academic freedom resulted, an explosion of commerce, education, science, art, exploration, and more all resulted from that single catalyst, that one event that launched a world-changing movement.
The Protestant Reformation is downplayed pretty heavily by most historians, largely because of its heavy theological content, but it was an immensely critical event in western history that resulted in what we now understand and enjoy as civilization.
And we are now abandoning, in the name of comfort.  But back in 1517, the world changed from a little thing by a little German monk.
And yeah, there's another holiday today too, based around a Roman Catholic absorption of Samhain turned into a religious holiday and now just a masquerade.

OF COWS AND ECONOMIC LIBERTY

"Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it."
Milton Friedman

For a long time now in America, the legislative and executive branch have been steadily chipping away at our liberties from the edges by bills and rules both at the national and state level.  This process, as the founding fathers warned continually, was inevitable without constant, strident effort to restrain government.
Yet it is the judicial department which has done a great deal of damage too, usually without notice or remark.  Typically they so by confirming encroachment on liberty by the other two branches. The most classic examples lately come from the federal government with Citizens United and the ACA "Obamacare" upheld by the Supreme Court.
Unfortunately, the default position of almost all courts in the land is to support, defend, and uphold what the government does.  It has been this way for a long time, and saw its most clear establishment in the years of FDR where the courts after initial constitutional concerns buckled under and started to rubber stamp socialist schemes we're still burdened with.
An examination of how this works showed up on Instapundit, by Elizabeth Price Foley.  She writes about a case in Arizona where a milk producer called Sarah Farms is suing over a regulatory change:
The Supreme Court is being asked to review a very interesting case coming out of Arizona, in which a milk producer, Sarah Farms, is challenging the constitutionality of a federal law, the Milk Regulation Equity Act of 2005, which required them to abide by a minimum price for milk (they were previously exempted from this federal minimum milk price because they were “producer-handlers” who bottled and distributed their own milk).  There is evidence that the 2005 federal law was passed at the behest of large, competing milk producers, who wanted to subject Sarah Farms to federal minimum pricing.  The owners of Sarah Farms assert that the federal law represents an unreasonable (and hence, unconstituitonal) interference with their business.
Why is there a minimum price for milk?  Well it has to do with a scheme to protect farms - a lot of these came up in the early 20th century under a string of Republican governments who established a lot of subsidies and regulations at the federal level.  In this case, Mrs Foley argues that the price was set up to help big time dairy operations.
Like most cronyism, this system would be a powerful business concern or group of businesses are using federal law and regulation to undercut competition.  If everyone has to charge at least a certain amount for milk, that means no small organization can produce milk cheaply and put it on the market under a certain level.  Cronyism isn't simply about getting rich, its often more about crushing potential competition and problematic smaller businesses - big corporations can eat losses and costs better than little ones who often are barely making money as it is.
However, I don't know what the big time dairies would argue on this topic, so I reserve judgement whether this is actually cronyism or not.  In principle I'm opposed to the government setting minimum or maximum prices in any setting.  Stay out and let the market handle it is almost always the best approach over the long term.  But I'd need to know more before making any confident statement on the issue.
What I do want to note, however, is the next bit Mrs Foley writes:
Under today’s jurisprudence,  lawsuits alleging infringement of  economic rights are presumed constitutional, and the citizen must prove that there is no rational basis for the law.  As a result, laws that regulate the economy are rarely overturned.
In other words, the courts do not presume that liberty is foremost and businesses should be as free as possible.  Their starting point is that the government is probably right and businesses have to prove otherwise.  Its like the theoretical system for criminal law: you are presumed innocent and the state has to prove guilt.  Except in this case, its in reverse: the state is presumed right and you have to prove otherwise.
That the courts have gotten to this point at all demonstrates the corrosive effect governments have on liberty.  Tiny inch by inch they infiltrate and seep into the system until they've established such a foothold they've turned liberty on its head.  I doubt courts started out presuming the government was right, but over time ruling by ruling and precedent by precedent, they ended up reaching that point, and now its very difficult to reverse.
The left would have you think the US Supreme Court is packed with radical right wing freaks who gave Bush the presidency and are lusting to ban fun, but the truth is the court rules against liberty nearly as often as it does for it.  This is essentially the same composition if ideas on a court that ruled governments can seize property to give to businesses in the name of economic development.  The same court that ruled that governments have absolutely no power under the constitution to consider any sexual act illegal.  The same court that ruled on Citizens United and the ACA as I noted above.  So I just don't trust the Supreme Court to rule in the name of liberty and a free economy whatsoever.  Not only would it mean a reversal of decades of accrued legal presumption, but it would be a major shift in the direction of economic law for the United States.
And if there's one thing Chief Justice Roberts has proven, its that he's terrified of being considered radical or criticized by the legal community - he wants his legacy to be glowing and saintlike, not controversial and troubled.  And he's willing to have people outside the bulk of the legal profession be upset and argue as long as the guys who write his history like him.
So I don't have any confidence whatsoever that the Supreme Court will rule that telling an industry it can't charge under a certain amount is in any way a violation of liberty, the constitution, or good practice even when it plainly is.

PICTURE OF THE DAY


Another wonder from around the world, from China again. This mountainous area is formed of red limestone with brilliant colors in layers, called "Danxia Landform" after Danxia Mountain, a very striking example.

Quote of the Day

"The duty of a true patriot is to protect his country from its government."
-Thomas Paine

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

CRUDITY AT THE TOP

"My first time voting was amazing. It was this line in the sand. Before I was a girl, now I was a woman. I went to the polling station, I pulled back the curtain, I voted for Barack Obama."

There's a topic about politics right now I'd really like to write about, but I can't on this blog because it would almost require me to post videos and quotes that I'd either have to censor until it looked like a cartoon sailor swearing or post directly and violate one of my personal rules about the blog's content.
I am not really sure how to go about it, but basically the topic is this: The Democrats, in particular the Obama reelection effort, are continually using the most crass, crude, and low of tone to try to reach out to young voters and seem fresh.  The use of swear words - from the president himself, even - sexual themes, and shock value tone has become petty strong lately.
  • The vice president asked a man at his son's funeral about the size of his son's testicles.
  • The president referred to Romney's speeches in terms of bovine excrement.
  • A video put out by the Obama reelection team compared voting for Obama with having sex for the first time, based on a Russian ad for Putin (and, apparently that was based on an Australian ad).
  • Michael Moore put out an ad filled with older people swearing continually about physical attacks on Mitt Romney.
It actually goes on and on, with example after example of crudity and the kind of humor and approach a Middle Schooler would take.  Literally.  I can't forget when my 8th grade social studies teachers tried to put on a debate in which they had one class take the side of the Spartans and one class the Greeks and have a debate about which was better.
I learned a lot in my study, but what happened with the debate was that 8th grade boys were in charge, so it ended up a giggling match over the use of the word "fag" and homosexual behavior in both communities and the entire debate fell to pieces.
And that's what this whole campaign reminds me of.  Not only do these ads and comments often not make a lot of sense, but they feel like they were put together by children, nasty children.  The entire tone of the president's campaign has a nasty feel to it, like someone you wouldn't want around your kids.
There's a lot wrong with this, but it reminds me most of advertisers who run bizarre, shocking, or uncomfortable ads not to get their product sold so much as to go "viral" and get mentioned a lot and passed around online.  The idea is that an ad shows only once and tends to get ignored on TV but  viral videos and images get passed around and looked at voluntarily, so you get better exposure - and a higher profile as an ad company.
Does that sell more product?  I don't know.  But it appears the Obama campaign is following the same principle: TV ads get skipped, nobody is buying bumper stickers and yard signs much these days, and people don't care for the calls or block them.  But if you can get Obama to go viral its a win!
The problem is, viral videos are watched and laughed at because they're ridiculous and fun, and I am not convinced that necessarily translates into purchases.  Just because you have fun watching Chester Cheetah or whatever doesn't mean you then want to go buy Cheetos.  We know for certain that the "Breakfast with the King" creepy ads didn't help Burger King's sales at all, but they were hugely popular and won lots of awards.
And what's worse is that in an attempt to go viral, the ads are scraping the bottom of the barrel, they're the lowest appeal, the kind of thing drunk, fat, and stupid frat boys guffaw over like the latest Jack Black or Will Farrell movie.  These efforts are an appeal to undignified, immature, and slightly sleazy people, directed at people who think a girl moussing her hair with semen (There's Something About Mary) is the funniest thing ever.
Its the sort of approach to life that mocks any propriety, believes the word "appropriate" is wicked and intolerant, that reaches for the lowest common denominator, and believes immaturity and childish giggles at sex are the best we can hope for.
There's just no dignity in this approach, no honor, and no gravity.  A president who engages in this kind of thing can't be taken seriously.  Vladimir Putin's continual faux macho posing with his shirt off holding a deer someone shot for him or President Obama with a baseball bat by the resolute desk is the same kind of idea, its a man who wants to be liked and considered cool, not respected and considered capable.
It reflects a cartoonish, childish view of the world, and worse of the American people, a president who truly seems to believe that comparing voting for him is like a girl losing her virginity, and its hilarious and edgy to riff on that.
Small wonder President Obama didn't even consider giving Bill Maher back his million dollars despite his outrageously crude and disgusting statements about Republican women.  He was probably giggling and nodding along.  We already knew the president had a sophomoric tendency to flip people off "accidentally" when he thinks he's won but this has gone too open and above board.
I know most of the left's defense of this is just knee-jerk, after all it wasn't that long ago they were shocked shocked by Vice President Cheney growling at Patrick Leahy to "F--- off,"  all in vapors that a man a heartbeat from the presidency would consider using such language!  Much fluttering of fans and fainting was involved then.  Now they giggle and thumbs up as the president calls Mitt Romney a "bullsh**er."  Why?  Because its their dude and now its cool!
But at the same time it does betray a certain loss of elegance, dignity, respectability, and reverence for the office an public interaction.  You can hear swearing regularly on the streets, yelling out loud without shame or restraint.  Ad campaigns use profanity bleeped out to be funny (Frank's Red Hot).  You can hardly hear a sentence from most movies without at least one swear word, and its become standard to think that unless people swear constantly they aren't "real" or "genuine."
I'm just shocked that such an approach is even being considered, let alone engaged in so openly and gleefully.  Its as if the drunken frat boy with his hand on the cardboard breast of a Hillary Clinton cutout in the infamous 2008 picture has taken over the White House.
Gone are Hope and Change and soaring, idealistic rhetoric and concepts, and in its place we have giggling middle schoolers flipping off the teacher and looking at porn on their smart phone.  And this man wants your vote?
If women want to be truly mature, if you really want to be less a girl and more a woman, you move away from guys like that.

SANDY DISASTER

History shows again and again
How nature points out the folly of man.
-Blue Öyster Cult, "Godzilla"

Hurricane Sandy, downgraded to a tropical storm, has hit America's Northeastern coast and its causing significant damage. Drudge report ran a shot of Manhattan completely blacked out at night from a power outage, and the flooding is expected to last days as the storm surge washes over low lying cities and the rainfall overwhelms local streams and rivers. 
New York City saw a storm surge of 13 feet, well over the low docks and onto the streets, washing cars, dumpsters and debris across the city and severely damaging lower level apartments and stores.  The subways were flooded heavily in many parts of the city, and may take weeks to clear out.  Sludge and salt water has done severe damage to the city's subway systems and both Brooklyn and Manhattan are without public transportation for the time being.
Trees are down all over the Northeast, windows shattered, rooftops torn apart, old masonry weakened from water damage, transformers exploded blacking out neighborhoods, and hospitals lost power both from the main grid and backup generators, forcing evacuations.  As old buildings were worn by the water, some of them began to fall to pieces, entire facades collapsing into the flooded streets.
Casualties so far have been remarkably low, with only six known of in New York City, but from Virginia to Maine, power outages have spread and that is dangerous in the cold of autumn.  Over a foot of snow fell overnight in the mountains, and flooding is expected as far inland as Nashville as the enormous storm spreads across the eastern coast of America.
Landmarks, sand bars, and the coast has changed.  Some islands have disappeared, others have been created, and the storm's fury has altered land long familiar to residents.  At IziSmile they have a gallery of stores emptied out by people preparing for the storm, and it appears folks weren't being very discriminating in their preparations. 
Now, the cleanup and repairs begin, and the people living in these areas need all the help they can get.  Donations to the World Renew organization (formerly known as CRWRC) are always safe and trustworthy, and there are some others who focus more on helping people in need than enriching their leadership and helping activist causes.

PICTURE OF THE DAY


Another wonder of the world, this time man-made again in the Ukraine. There are a lot of these kind of corridors, but this one is along a train track.  Over time it was formed by the vegetation growing as closely as possible to a wood train that would pass through daily.  There are some sections of train tracks like this in Oregon as well.

Quote of the Day

"Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it."
-George Bernard Shaw

Monday, October 29, 2012

BLOODY OBAMA

"After my election I have more flexibility"

You know, as bad as stuff like Iran-Contra and Watergate were, at least they didn't have a bodycount.  President Obama's scandals keep ending up bloody and murderous, from his early days with the Illinois Senate fighting to starve babies born to botched abortions to Fast & Furious with its beheaded and mutilated bodies to the raped and murdered consulate staff in Libya.  
Its one thing to gin up false charges and fire off the White House Travel office, or to sneak missile tech to China for under the table donations through Buddhist monasteries, but these scandals are almost unbelievable.
And it all seems to stem from a president who believes that anything he does, for any cause, must be right and acceptable - and a press that will protect him at all costs.  The pattern was established with the illegal foreign contributions in 2008, after all winning the White House justified the lawbreaking.  It continued through a consistent and repeated use of agencies and presidential orders to bypass congress and apply policy unconstitutionally, and its found the worst expression with dead people around the world.
This isn't just a president who does a bad job, has bad policy, and surrounds himself with radical ideologues who do a poor job.  He's got blood on his hands and apparently no conscience whatsoever.  And nobody, nobody can or will stop him unless we do in November.
I know this probably reads like some of the more hysterical diatribes against President Bush but look at the facts; all the radical, crazy things that the left accused president Bush of doing, President Obama is actually implementing but instead of having a hostile press fighting him, he's got a fawning press protecting him.  And on top of all that, there are stacks of dead Americans.
This man must not be rewarded with another term in office.  Especially not a lame duck term, a term where he need not concern himself with reelection. Yes, the increasingly crass, low class, and sleazy language and advertising of the campaign is disgusting, but when a president's active policies end up with death and blood like this, that's cause for at the very least removal from office.

DOLLYMOPS, TODAY

“...it was well known that, were I to go, I would probably take half the station with me.”
-Jimmy Saville

Dollymop is a victorian term for an underage prostitute.  Forced into the work by men and women in deep poverty, the virgin girl was viewed as a special treat to some loathsome Victorian era men, following an old pattern established millennia before Queen Victoria was even born.  As I wrote about a few years ago, some men at the time claimed that sleeping with a virgin would get rid of a social disease.
As late as the 1970s underage girls were considered sexual prey, especially by rock and roll stars who'd bed young teen groupies and fans and write songs about it such as "Sick Again" by Led Zeppelin, "Good morning little schoolgirl" by Rod Stewart and others, "Stray Cat Blues" by the Rolling Stones, and "Jailbait" by many bands.  This trend goes back to the beginnings of Rock and Roll with Elvis Presley meeting and bedding Priscilla when she was 14, and Chuck Berry being busted trying to transport an underage girl across state lines.
Today, movies like Pretty Baby don't get made any more and the whole sexy little girl popular culture trend has died away but its showing signs of coming back. The sexualization of younger and younger girls in clothes, language, behavior, and cultural attitudes is all around us, much to the dismay of parents and usually younger girls.
But all of that presumes some sense of agreement, a sort of consent between the girl and the older man even if she's not really prepared to make that sort of decision.  At least she thinks she's agreeing with the liason in these cases.
Not so much in the Jimmy Saville situation.  Jimmy Saville was a beloved TV icon in England, a star for the BBC who was a fixture on shows such as Top of the Pops and was well known for his charitable work, especially for hospitals.  Saville was one of those guys everyone respected and admired and when he died, it was discovered he wasn't all they thought.
In fact, it appears that Saville was a horrific monster.  Neil Tweedie and Tom Rowley at the Telegraph write:
The number of people alleging sexual abuse at the hands of Jimmy Savile from the 1960s to the 1980s now stands at some 300. The vast majority were children at the time, young teenagers, girls and boys, groped, fondled and raped. History is being hastily rewritten. A year on, and the pop pomp of that funeral in Savile’s native Leeds appears worse than a bad joke, a travesty. The DJ who flaunted his friendship with the Royal family, who gave marital advice to Charles and Diana, who spent Christmas at Chequers with Margaret Thatcher, who posed for a photograph with Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, was, in all probability, one of Britain’s most prolific paedophiles. He was a man who could barely contain his perverse sexual appetites, even to the extent of assaulting a young woman on the terrace of the House of Commons in full view of MPs. He proudly related such exploits in his 1974 autobiography, yet managed to escape retribution until his death in October last year at the age of 84.
Saville in particular liked a hospital ward for brain damaged girls.  He bragged about having a bedroom there, and was given free rein in the place to do whatever he chose because of all the charity money he'd pull in with appearances.  He molested girl after girl helpless in hospital beds, and there are even reports he'd supply other people with girls - even government officials.
There were accusations, the police even became involved in a sexual assault case at the BBC.  People saw him and would bring it up, but nothing was done.  Not only were victims very reluctant to speak up, but the man was so beloved and powerful in entertainment, had such powerful friends - including, likely, authorities who didn't want him giving evidence against them - that he'd just be released without a problem.  People were very reluctant to accuse the man of anything because they knew it was the end of their job.
Its almost certain that the BBC leadership knew of Saville's exploits, since he barely tried to hide them.  After a while he seemed to realize nothing was going to be done to him.  The police got repeated reports of problems, but no case was ever built.  The officials at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire, the Broadmoor secure psychiatric hospital in Berkshire, and Haut de la Garenne, a girls school in Surrey had to know what was happening but did nothing to stop him.
Saville was warned by police in the 1980s to stay away from girls, and like Michael Jackson the accusations swirled around him but he managed to stay above it all and was loved anyway.  The BBC, not interested in having a star besmirched with these sort of rumors, just didn't bother reporting any of it.
Unlike Michael Jackson, though, it appears that Saville isn't being treated as a deceased icon, a saint beloved by millions and sanctified by dying.  Jackson, whose recording career basically died in the 90s, suddenly became super popular and loved by the media again after death, washing away all the sordid and disturbing accusations of child molestation and evidence of something very odd at the very least going on in his life.
Saville's awful past came to light only because of an ITV investigative report, and was forced to light by the channel - a BBC competitor.  Now it appears the man's reputation and past is destroyed and he won't be treated the same way as Jackson.
But the truth is, the lust for young girls has never really gone away.  Something not mentioned much in these reports is the ages of the boys and girls, but it appears they were under 18, yet teenagers.  And that kind of predator has always been among us.  What changes is the social acceptance of such behavior.  Sometimes it is winked at, such as the teenaged groupies, and sometimes it is just part of the culture, such as more ancient times.  We seem to be heading into another one of those times that preying on underage girls are shrugged at, maybe even to the point of being accepted.

PICTURE OF THE DAY


China has a lot of the world's wonders, being such a big place. The Stone Forest, or Shinan, is a series of limestone formations and caves that covers 720 acres.  Also there is the Strange Wind Cave, where from August to November, strong winds lasting two to three minutes sweep out of the cave every 30 minutes.

Quote of the Day

"To sit back hoping that someday, someway, someone will make things right is to go on feeding the crocodile, hoping he will eat you last--but eat you he will."
-Ronald Reagan

Friday, October 26, 2012

WORD AROUND THE NET

"…ah, but there’s no inflation. Everything is fine, everything is good. Just go to work, watch the half hour of the local evening news, and pretend like nothing’s wrong."

Jim Engel is an old school comic and cartoon writer and artist, a guy who's worked on just about every comic character you know and does a lot of cartoony stuff including some efforts with Ralph Bakshi.  Engel brings up something that has concerned me since Bill Clinton's saxophone playing and MTV appearance:
Regardless of party affiliation, I don't think U. S. Presidents or even candidates should go on late night talk shows, The View, SNL or any other shows of that type. Maybe I'm getting old, but I think it's beneath the dignity of the office.
Look, if you think the president of the United States is just one more celebrity this is no big deal.  But if you think he's the leader of the free world with the toughest job on earth representing the most powerful nation on earth with 300 million citizens, there's a problem here.  Its a question of dignity, maturity, and the image of America.  Do we have a celebrity in chief or the president?  The party affiliation is irrelevant in this problem, its bad for any candidate or president to do this.
President Obama appeared on Leno recently, and in that appearance he both said he struggles with math (maybe that's why he couldn't recall the size of the debt while on Letterman) and complained that banks are "in it to make money" so they have to be regulated.  Well, yes, they're a business, they aren't a non profit, they exist to make money.  And?
Portland Oregon is so infamously leftist a show on cable TV mocks their radicalism, and here's one bit of evidence.  A home with a Romney/Ryan sign was ordered by the City of Portland and the neighborhood association to take it down, but the huge Obama sign on a nearby house was left uncriticized.  Why?  Because although the office that handles this is supposedly neutral, they respond to complaints instead of looking for violations, so while tolerant folks will let an election sign go, angry bitter folks won't and phone in complaints.
Reverend Wright became so toxic when his rhetoric about Israel, white people, and America were brought to light that President Obama abandoned his mentor and long time friend who helped him get a start in politics and performed the marriage ceremony between Barack and Michelle.  Now, the San Francisco chronicle published an article about a phone conference between Obama and Wright about how to get black people out to the vote.  You can tell how damaging Wright is to the Obama campaign by how they immediately demanded the story be retracted and denied everything.
Modern cars all seem to look the same to me, like a sort of cross between a computer mouse and a shoe.  Unfortunately due to regulations and gas mileage concerns there's a certain shape and style that best cuts through the air that designers tend toward, so we lose those beautiful old cars.  Ford motor company is making a stab toward more beauty though, by bringing back some of their classic old car bodies for kit and restoration work.  The 1940 "deuce coup" and several mustang bodies are among the options, and I hope they do more retro designs like the Thunderbird or some of the recent Chrysler models.
According to writer Ed Klein, documents show that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton requested more security for the consulate in Benghazi Libya which was attacked in September.  The ambassador and his staff were raped and murdered in an attack by radical Muslim terrorists, but Klein claims that President Obama refused the increased security.  While handy for the Clinton legacy and political machine, I'm skeptical, to put it mildly.  Hillary Clinton is not going around acting like someone who did the right thing and got blocked by the president at all, she's gleefully going along with the president's lines, including the lie about a Youtube video causing a spontaneous protest to get violent and pull out mortars brought along for fireworks, or something.
Like all government agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must file a report every six months detailing what regulations they have planned.  Since every single new regulation they propose meets heavy opposition and complaint, apparently the EPA has just decided to not publish an agenda and has simply refused to comply with that law for all of this year.  If Romney wins the presidency he'll have his hands full with that agency alone.
Hurricane Sandra (no relation to Ms Fluke) is a deadly storm, having claimed at least 11 lives in Cuba according to their news agency (which probably means a lot more but they aren't interested in reporting how badly the country's infrastructure and buildings hold up to storms).  The storm is raging up toward America and some fear it will interfere heavily with the election on the east coast.
Pat Moran (son of Representative Jim Moran (D-VA)) was revealed in geurilla video footage explaining how to help show how to defraud the election with fake voters.  He's under investigation now and has since quit the job as field director for his dad's reelection campaign.  In the video he explains how once you've got these fake votes you can count on the ACLU and other left leaning legal organizations to leap to your aid if the votes are challenged, a fact that J. Christian Adams highlights in a recent PJ Media piece.  He notes that even if these organizations are working in good faith, the voter fraud machine counts on them and these legal groups don't seem to have a lot of discernment or concern about the validity of these cases.
Lap dances are not art, according to New York courts.  A strip club in Albany New York filed a suit arguing that their work qualified under a state law exempting "dramatic or musical arts performances" meant to promote culture from taxation.  The courts ruled that this was not promoting anything culturally beneficial.
Surprising few, Al Gore's Current TV has poor ratings and is up for sale.  Apparently a dull, stiff, old politician doesn't really understand what's fun and interesting to young people well enough to build an entire TV network around.  The only real question is why on earth he got so many investors and cable networks to support the idea in the first place?
Previously on Word Around the Net, I've written about President Obama's illegal foreign contributions in the 2008 election.  He repeatedly, massively, and successfully violated campaign finance laws and because he won knew there would be no consequences.  Who's going to investigate him, Eric Holder?  Now, its being done again for the 2012 election and the press again is amazingly disinterested in the story.  Even if Romney wins the presidency I just don't' see any consequences.  The lesson here, kiddies, is that if you're a Democrat: cheat, and don't even be shy about it.  Nothing bad will happen to you.
Keith Olbermann used to have the hottest show on MSNBC (which is like being the most famous person in Scio, Oregon) and boasted about how hot he was with the girls.  Now after doing a poor job, getting lousy ratings, and being continuously annoying with his bosses to the point of being fired at several networks, he's out looking for work again at the few left that he hasn't burned his bridges at.  Meanwhile, as Ed Driscoll at Instapundit points out, Glenn Beck's solo effort is doing very well and he's worth almost $100,000,000.  But Beck is called crazy and weird and out of touch....
Universities have long claimed that they don't have quotas and don't change their standards to get extra minorities into the system, but people have long suspected those claims to be false.  Recently two studies have given those suspicions evidence and facts to back them up.  The University of Oklahoma is targeted by one study, showing they do lower standards for minority applicants, and the University of Los Angeles in California (UCLA) is shown to be doing the same thing, despite stonewalling any research.
Walter William has a column out this week about topics you cannot bring up because of the reaction you'll get.  He focuses on slavery, noting that even if you're a black guy you cannot bring up any potential benefits that slavery might have accrued for later generations (such as living in America instead of the Sudan or other African nations).  His explanation?   "There are certain topics or arguments that one should not bring up in the presence of children or those with little understanding."  All too often I find that to be the case online.  Certain topics you just have to avoid because people lack the maturity and objectivity to discuss them rationally.  Rape is one of them, apparently, just ask Akin.
Algebra is kind of tough to work out because it doesn't deal so much with tangible objects and concepts as it does theoretical ones.  You can add up 2 oranges plus 2 oranges and get 4 oranges with your hands and eyes.  You can't add up 1A+1B as easily (1 apple plus 1 orange works, but the answer looks the same as the question: one of each, duh).  Because of this, it has long been understood that it takes a more developed mind shaped by years of education and thought to begin to tackle the concept, but there's been a push lately to get algebra into lower grades.  Mary McConnell at Deseret News is concerned that the only way this can be done successfully is to dumb algebra down, ruining its benefits and that's happening just to get minority kids to pass algebra for statistical purposes, not educational.
Louisiana State University (LSU) has a cheering section for its football team called the "Painted Posse."  Consisting of young guys who paint themselves in team colors and are very enthusiastic, they're a fairly well known part of the crowd at the school.  And they're Christian, so part of the paint they use includes a cross.  But LSU found this symbol so offensive that they airbrushed it out in pictures of the squad sent out in an email to students.  The posse is not upset, just confused, but they don't care much... but you do have to wonder what's going on at the school to make them take this kind of step.
Oregon jumped on the "green tech" bandwagon along with many other states in 2009, the height of the global warming hysteria.  Plans to blanket the state with recharging stations and create a network for the huge surge of electric cars certain to explode into popularity were set up and hundreds of millions spent to make it happen.  To this end, Portland and the state of Oregon spent $6,800,000 to get ReVolt Technologies to build super batteries for electric cars.  Their claims were amazing and as it turns out, they were false and they're filing for bankruptcy now.  Richard Reade at the Oregonian writes about several such companies that were backed by the state and are collapsing.
Another fake hate crime?  Apparently so, as a woman from Louisiana claimed three klan members in hoodies set her on fire and scrawled racial slurs on her car, but the evidence points to her doing to herself.
Stringy floppy, remember that name?  It was one of the alternates to discs as storage technology that came up in the 80s, but never went anywhere really.  They were very similar to tapes, but with faster search and recovery times.  The old TRS-80 used cassette tapes to store and retrieve extra data, and it took forever to load in a big game.  Now it seems the tape may be making a comeback.
Fuji Film and IBM have created a prototype cassette measuring 4x4x1 inches that can hold up to 35 terabytes of information, or about 8,750,000 songs. The data is stored on a strip of magnetic tape made from particles of barium ferrite.
Its not quite the same as your John Hughes film soundtrack mix tape, but its a wierd throwback to the old reel-to-reel systems from the 70s.
Michael "Piltdown" Mann, tired of being pointed out as a lying, manipulative hoaxer by bloggers, has filed to sue various people for questioning him.  Primarily the lawsuit is directed at National Review Online, but there's something he should consider.  In baseball, the best revenge for being beaned is to score a run.  If you don't like how people mock your scientific endeavors produce good science and prove them wrong, don't take them to court.
Brain death is a tricky diagnosis, and most doctors recognize this.  Its not as clear as some people make it out to be, as one story from Denmark shows.  A woman was declared brain dead and disconnected from machines.  She didn't die, and instead has recovered from her illness.  She's awake and going through physical therapy.  This is hardly the first case of this happening in northern European hospitals.  Denmark, Norway, Holland, Sweden and so on have socialized medicine and as a result are low on funds and often quality of treatment and always are looking for ways to empty out beds of people they deem unlikely to recover.
Expect more stories like this to crop up.  In North Carolina early voters discovered that when they picked Mitt Romney for president, the system would highlight... Barack Obama.  It took several tries for the system to properly register their vote.  Always check very carefully before you finalize a vote.  This isn't the result of some trickery or hacking, its just the problem with electronic voting and glitches in usually poorly-tested systems.  Old fashioned paper ballots at least wouldn't have this particular problem.
Officials in Florida have gotten a flood of reports that white Republicans are getting letters challenging their citizenship.  The letters say in essence that they aren't eligible to vote and should not go voting or they'll be breaking the law.  This is just flat out voter fraud trying to disenfranchise voters... something Democrats claim the GOP is doing all the time.
Energy drinks are just a really, really bad idea and the worst part is that they are popular with the very people who least need extra energy: young people.  As I wrote in the past, they've been linked to deaths due to the excessive caffeine and sugar, and yet another death has been linked to an energy drink called Monster.  Don't drink this crud okay?  And don't let your kids drink it.
Whether this is due to playing favorites or a genuinely well-earned contract, it just looks bad and ought to be avoided.  Vice President Joe Biden's brother got a $100,000,000 federal contract to build homes in Iraq and he has no background in construction.  This may not be illegal but it is a really bad idea and ought to be avoided.
This is another reason why a book is better than an e-book.  Amazon.com didn't like a customer, so they deleted all his books on the guy's kindle.  They accused him of having an account directly related to another which abused their policies, and simply wiped his book clean.  Even if the guy was violating copyright law... he's violating the law and should be dealt with that way, not by taking away product.  That's like Pepsi stealing into your house and taking all your cola away because you use the cans to smoke pot.
Apparently arch leftist and failed presidential candidate George McGovern changed over time and began to reject the leftist economic ideas he used to hold as he learned more about business and reality.  Its easy to hold all these unrealities about how business and economies work in theory when you've never actually had to deal with the real thing.
Cops have it tough, but when one goes bad, they tend to be really bad and have to be dealt with swiftly and without remorse.  The problem is the police unions are like any other and make it extremely difficult to fire a bad cop.  Plus, police rules often put the fate of a cop's future in the hands of fellow cops, and given the (entirely reasonable) "us vs them" mentality of the police, they tend not to punish each other much.
President Obama's administration has become more or less infamous for intimidation, mistreatment of, and even refusal to cooperate with the press to a degree they'd never put up with in a Republican.  Ed Driscoll rounds up several examples of this at Instapundit recently, including "accidentally" locking a reporter in a closet.
Six scientists in Italy were convicted of manslaughter for failing to give adequate warning of a quake that killed 300 in L'Aquila in 2009.  The scientific community in Italy has responded with outrage, shock and a commitment to never give any warning or advice whatsoever to the government if their advice is going to be used as grounds for negligence and manslaughter.  This is idiotic and outrageous to the point of fury.
Alas, Paul Krugman.  He was once a respected economist whose books on the subject were standard in college courses.  He won a Nobel prize in economics, and was highly regarded by the community.  Today, well things have changed.  Now the economic community treats him like a drunken family member they all ignore and pretend didn't say anything.  His contradictory and absurd pronouncements in the New York Times and his bizarre love of China has led him to be an outcast with fellow economists.
Caterpillar, biggest heavy machinery company in America, is predicting a major slowdown in sales for the next quarter in 2013, signaling a serious problem with the economy.  Its indicators like this that tell me we're not seeing growth this or next quarter even if the official numbers claim it.
Sajjad Hussain was accused of blasphemy against Muhammad in a private conversation in Pakistan.  The trial acquitted him of the act, and he was set free.  Later, he was shot dead anyway.
Iowa has a 'civil rights' commission just like Canada does, and they are even worse according to a recent report.  Jason Clayworth writes at the De Moines Register:
At least 27 Iowa landlords were allowed to make donations to the Iowa Civil Rights Commission in lieu of legal action for illegally discriminating against housing applicants, records obtained by The Des Moines Register show.

The deals, made by the Civil Rights Commission from 2006 through February 2011, helped landlords avoid charges after they were found to have illegally discriminated for reasons such as race, disability or family status.
In other words: we have found you guilty of discrimination, but you can pay a "donation" to us to avoid prosecution.  They were shaking down people using civil rights rulings to make money.
Feel like your dollar isn't going as far these days?  Benny Johnson explains why at The Blaze with 21 everyday items whose price has gone up over the last four years.  Its not just gas, it also includes these items:
Beer +25%
Eggs +73%
Coffee +90%
Peanut Butter +40%
Milk +26%
Bread +39% 
Oh, but inflation is up by just under 4% according to the official numbers... which conveniently ignore gas, energy prices, and food.
Finally, here's this ad satire mocking Chevy and GM for their bailouts.  Chevy is trying really hard to sell its truck and car line as the choice of badasses and tough guys all around who get hot chicks to gaze admiringly at them.  The ad points out how pathetic the company was whining to the government to save them from awful business choices and idiotic contracts while boasting about how tough they are (some language warning).
And that's the Word Around the Net for October 26, 2012.

BEHIND THE SCENES AT WORK

"Remember: this isn't about what seems fair to you, but what seems the best business decision for the employer."

Economic principles apply in all sorts of life settings, more than just buying and selling.  For example, when you look for a job, you're facing supply and demand pressures.  When unemployment is very low, businesses are struggling to fill the positions they have and are forced to take what they can get.  When unemployment is very high, there are plenty of candidates for each position, and businesses get really picky.
This can be especially frustrating for a jobless person, because it means that you get passed over for other people who have experience, the looks, the gender, etc that the business is looking for.  As a business, it only makes sense to take the best possible candidate you can get.
There's an article up from Reader's Digest at Yahoo news that gives some secrets to hiring that you generally aren't told by employers.  Most of these tips are for serious careers, not a fry cook job at the local greasy spoon, but some apply universally.  For example:
1. Once you're unemployed more than six months, you're considered pretty much unemployable. We assume that other people have already passed you over, so we don't want anything to do with you.
This is an unfortunate fact.  The longer you go, the more unhirable you look: why didn't anyone else want you?  If your time off was for a reasonable excuse, such as "I was pregnant and raised my kid a few years" or "I was lost at sea and was 18 months in rehab" that tends to help.  But if you just haven't been able to find work for a while, it hurts your chances.  Its like being a single person for years at a time, potential mates often will wonder what's wrong with you that you couldn't find someone.
Another secret is this one:
When it comes to getting a job, who you know really does matter. No matter how nice your résumé is or how great your experience may be, it's all about connections.
This is something your high school guidance counselor won't tell you, but its very true.  A corollary to that law is that big companies and government organizations tend to hire from within. They'll post the job as normal, but usually hire someone who moves from a different department or another office.  Why?  Because they know the people involved, are tried and reliable in the business, and the paperwork is easier.
Other secrets are a bit less reasonable, but all too real.  If you are bald it doesn't hurt you these days as much as it used to - people started shaving their heads more after Michael Jordan did it.  But if you're fat, yes, it will hurt you.  Employers see that as a sign of sloth and possibly health problems, and frankly a lot of businesses are filled with people fixated on personal appearance, sexiness, and time spent at the gym, so they are snobs.
Another thing that hurts you is age.  The older you are, the less easy to train, the more out of touch, and the less relatable you'll seem to employers.  Most of the people running HR departments and hiring are in their 20s and 30s, and they think someone who is 40 is ancient and nearly dead.  The HR guys in this article suggest not putting the date you graduated on your application or resume.
If you have young kids, that's going to hurt you too.  This is a bit more understandable from the perspective of the business, but its illegal to ask about.  An HR woman relates:
"One woman kept a picture of two really cute children on her desk even though she didn't have children [hoping job candidates would ask about them]. Another guy used to walk people out to their car to see whether they had car seats."
Why does it matter?  Because if you have infants and toddlers around not only will you be more fixated on them than your job, but there's an extremely high probability that you'll be missing work to deal with their problems.  Even if its just long phone calls and distraction at your desk, that's reduced productivity that they would be getting from someone who didn't have kids.  Being unable to find sitters, health emergencies and so on all mean you're more likely to have to take time off work or spend time frantically finding someone to help out instead of working.  From the perspective of the business, that's not a very good hire.
And as I've written about in the past, your internet follies will come to haunt you today.  Posting stuff on facebook that is shocking, insulting, or even potentially criminal (here's a pic of me smoking some killer ganja!) will be found by potential employer.  Posting "I'm glad I left that job, my boss was a jerk so I left a bag of dog crap on his desk!" will get you no jobs in the future.  Having an email address, as the article notes, that is immature, insulting, or depicts you as a wild party animal will hurt you as well (kinkyboots101@hotmail.com or johnnylikestodrink@gmail.com, the article gives as an example).  If you want a serious job and to be treated as an adult, you have to act like one.  Looking for work is hard enough without acting like an idiot.
As for the stuff about resumes, its not bad advice (especially the "avoid color" part), but that's been written about a lot already.  If you're not trying for a job at the local theater or art design shop, keep your resume as simple, professional, easy to read, and clear as possible.  Keep it under 3 pages because the HR guys are dull and lazy as any other worker on average.  Use buzzwords, especially from the job announcement, to help catch the eye of your average middle management drone.
Overall though, the only real way to get work from my experience in the past is persistence, just keep hitting the streets and working at it like at least a part-time job.  Focus not on results, but on how well you're doing your end, which is to attract an employer.  If you focus on results, all you'll get is depressed and miserable.  You will eventually find work, but its going to take a lot of effort on your part.  Just be aware that any job is better than holding out for the perfect job.

PICTURE OF THE DAY


Another wonder of the world from Gullfoss, Iceland.  This place looks very, very cold.

Quote of the Day

"You are not superior just because you see the world in an odious light."
-Vicomte de Chateaubriand

Thursday, October 25, 2012

BAN THE OBSERVERS?

“The threat of criminal sanctions against [international] observers is unacceptable.”
-Janez Lenarčič

Ever since Al Gore failed to steal the presidential election in 2000, the world has viewed US election sanctity and validity with some skepticism.  The fit he threw so publicly, and especially the thoughtless, loud accusations by the left, gave people the impression that the US was little more than some corrupt third world nation where the vote was worthless.
Even to this day, the US elections are widely viewed as probably corrupt and problematic, and sadly the cries of voter fraud, disenfranchisement, and voter intimidation that fly around every national election only build that perspective.
By this point, both sides are guilty of making the US look bad, because the arguments here are never private; they get broadcast around the world.  US news is world news.  But it was the Democrats in 2000 who threw the biggest pile of stink and as a result from then on, world "election observers" such as the UN have come to the USA to oversee things and make sure there are no problems.
Now, to me that's a pretty big insult and it makes me sad inside.  The United States used to be a shining beacon of liberty, the place everyone looked toward and dreamed of being part of.  It still is to a large degree, but that beacon is less shiny and more tawdry these days.
Now we have arguments from people like Senator Connie Mack (yes, he's the great-grandson of the great baseball manager) that the UN elections observers ought to be prohibited from coming to the United States.  Connie Mack argues:
“The very idea that the United Nations – the world body dedicated to diminishing America’s role in the world — would be allowed, if not encouraged, to install foreigners sympathetic to the likes of Castro, Chavez, Ahmadinejad and Putin to oversee our elections is nothing short of disgusting.
“For years the United Nations has aggressively worked against the best interests of our country and many of our allies. The UN’s actions and intentions toward the United States have been nothing short of reprehensible.
“Every American should be outraged by this news. The United States must defund the United Nations. The United Nations should be kicked off of American soil once and for all. And the American people should demand that the United Nations be stopped from ‘monitoring’ American elections. The only ones who should ever oversee American elections are Americans.
Now, I'm fine with the principle of dumping the UN off American soil and defunding the joint.  Its about useless for the hundreds of reasons I've pointed out on this blog to the point of probably annoying readers in the past.
But I think we should welcome the observers.  Yes, the come from an essentially hostile and corrupt organization.  Yes, they're representing blatant vote defrauding dictators and scumbags.  And yes, the UN is only bringing observers to the US to humiliate the nation, impose their power, and even to try to influence the election.
That's fine, it doesn't matter.  The UN is toothless and pointless, so their attempts to assert power are comical, not problematic.  Their hostility and corruption is well known, so it doesn't matter what they say.  But refusing to let them in is a bad idea, because it gives the impression we don't want our elections being observed.
And I'm of the opinion that the democratic process has to be protected as much as humanly possible, so that means we should never oppose any valid attempts to protect it.  The UN will not show up to influence votes or intimidate voters, even if they'd really rather the US voted a certain way.  They will genuinely send observers to try to make sure there aren't any shenanigans.  Its happened two previous presidential elections and hey!  They've found no shenanigans. 
Remember in 2008 when Micahel Moore ran around to different polling places with cameras trying to make a movie about voter intimidation, trickery, and disenfranchisement?  He found nothing and folded up shop.  Partly that's because the guy he was backing won, but mostly its because there wasn't any content to make a movie over, at least not the kind he wanted.
Like Voter ID, I think opposition to this smacks more of wanting to control the outcome than any real defense of voting.  Yes, its annoying to have the UN butt in on America's actions, but its a free country and they're free to show up and take a look.  A lot of these nations have never seen a free election so it might be educational.
So when Texas vows to arrest anyone from the UN who shows up to monitor elections, I don't care for that.  Treat them like guests, let them look around, do what you do openly and properly, show them a good time and then show them the door.
That's what the good guys - and the guys in charge - do.  Anything else makes us look small and suspicious.

COMMON KNOWLEDGE: IRAQ SIXTEEN

"Cowardice asks the question - 'is it safe?'
Expediency asks the question - 'is it politic?'
Vanity asks the question - 'is it popular?'
But conscience asks the question - 'is it right?'  And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right."
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Mission Accomplished bannerThere are an enormous number of myths about the War on Terror and specifically the invasion of Iraq which are simply repeated and circulated without question or thought.  Most of them arose during the invasion its self, primarily from speculation by news sources and Democratic Party talking heads trying to undermine the popularity of the president and the war effort.
An unfortunate aspect of human psychology is that if enough people repeat something forcefully enough, long enough, even strong willed folks begin to doubt themselves.  Can all those people be wrong and me right?  Can it really be false if all these authoritative sources keep saying it?  Who am I to march against the crowd, they all say it is so, is it not arrogant of me to disagree?
So the Big Lie, as it has been called in the past, grows and takes hold.  Not because of evidence, logic, or truth, but because it becomes common knowledge, something everyone says and assents to without most having any idea about its validity.  In time, even the people who know it to be untrue - or at least reasonably doubtful - begin to believe it.
And worse, because that untruth becomes a new factoid, it then becomes a baseline for other untruths to be built off of.  Eventually a whole structure of lies and misconceptions becomes established, and people rely on that to gain and hold power.  Questioning or undermining one part of that throws doubt on all of it, threatening their power and income, so they fight back, hard.  It becomes less about the facts than about personal survival and achievement.  Instead of arguing for the truth, the debate becomes personal, and nasty.
Blogger would deny me the bandwidth and memory to contain all of the lies, arguments and clarifications that would be required to do an exhaustive detonation of all these myths.  Entire books have been written about many of them, trying to clear up the mythology.  Wikipedia for a decade has been a battleground on the issue, with attempts to clear things up and attempts to muddy the waters and maintain the myths.
All I'll do here is a quick series of clarifications, taking each myth and trying to straighten them out fast and with minimum information for the sake of clarity, space, and ease of reading.  Each deserves significantly more length, but by this time people are so sick of the arguments its just not worth it.  Please bear with me, though.  The entire body of misconceptions around the Iraq invasion is one of the greatest myths of our times.
Myth 1: The Rush to War.  The fact that this even exists proves the insanity of the entire debate.  A rush to war is when someone pushes and pushes to get into the conflict as fast as possible, taking weeks or days at most.  A rush to war is what happened when President Obama over a golf trip decided to attack and bomb Libya.  President Bush first mentioned the problem with Iraq's terrorist ties in the State of the Union address on January 29, 2002.  From that point on, the administration began building a case to invade Iraq to deal with many outstanding issues (see below).  The actual invasion took place after bringing the case to the American people, the US congress, NATO, and the United Nations repeatedly and the first troops attacked finally in March 20, 2003.  Now, perhaps 10 months is a rush to you, but that's longer than a pregnancy, and its no rush to me.  There was no "rush to war."  If anything, the effort took too long.
Myth 2: Daddy's War.  Critics have claimed, among other things, that Bush only wanted to invade Iraq because he was mad at them for trying to assassinate his father, and considered it unfinished business.  Bush was portrayed as a petulant child, trying to get the bad man who hurt daddy.  However, the case for the invasion of Iraq was laid out for month after month, and the attempted assassination of former President Bush the elder was never brought up.  The assassination attempt was certainly cause for some action which the Clinton administration never took, but it wasn't used as a pretext for war, except by critics.
Myth 3: Iraq and 9/11. Critics also claimed that Bush lied, saying that Iraq was tied to 9/11.  They said that Bush claimed Iraq was behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks, so we had to invade there, too.  The fact is, that never happened.  President Bush never said any such thing, he never implied it.  None of his administration ever made such a claim.  All they said was that global terrorism was out of hand and resulted in things like the 9/11 attack in 2001, and that Iraq was a major hotbed of terrorism that had to be dealt with to stop these sorts of attacks.  The closest thing anyone can find to such a statement is this by President Bush:
“Oh, indeed there is a tie between Iraq and what happened on 9/11. It's not that Saddam Hussein was somehow himself and his regime involved in 9/11, but, if you think about what caused 9/11, it is the rise of ideologies of hatred that lead people to drive airplanes into buildings in New York.”
President Bush also noted “We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the 11 September attacks.”  The 9/11 commission said that there were no direct ties, but that there were shadowy background connections, and in a NPR report during the Clinton administration, a man claiming to have been a terrorist trainer outlined a training camp near Baghdad which was used to train terrorists on taking over airplanes using only knives which is highly suggestive (and the CIA has photography of the training camp).  However, the intelligence and data we have indicates no direct connection between the Iraqi government and the 9/11 plot beyond a probable presence at some meetings discussing the possible action.
Myth 4: No Terror.  Another claim is that Iraq had no ties to terrorism, that it was an evil place, but the evil was entirely contained and internal.  The problem with this claim is that the facts all are against it.  It is known for a fact that Saddam Hussein personally paid families of palestinian suicide bombers checks to blow up Israelis.  It is known that the country harbored several terrorist fugitives and major wanted terrorist individuals.  It is known that there were terrorist training camps in Iraq as noted above.  Iraq was indeed a hotbed of terrorist activity, training, protection, and funding.  Related to this is the myth that Iraq had no ties to al`Qaeda, which is utterly false, as even the 9/11 commission noted.
Myth 5: All a sinister plot. Other claims include that the whole Iraq invasion was planned out by an evil cabal of men including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz back in 1998 at a think tank called the Project for the New American Century.  1998, you'll recall, was when President Clinton launched a series of airstrikes on Iraq and congress passed a resolution making regime change in Iraq official US policy: a lot of think tanks were working on how to bring that about and presenting them to the president.  In the 2000 election, both Al Gore and George W Bush spoke repeatedly and openly about the need to remove Saddam Hussein from power.  The only disagreement was on how to bring this about, not whether it should be done.  9/11 solidified that argument in most peoples' minds.
Myth 6: War over WMD.  We only supported the invasion because the Bush administration claimed there were WMD in Iraq, cried the Democrats, most of Europe, and various people on the left.  The fact is, WMD were only a small part of the reasons behind the invasion.  There were 14 reasons that President Bush laid out to the American people and the UN:
  1. To prevent the proliferation of WMD
  2. To bring about regime change as American policy required
  3. To prosecute the war on terror
  4. Because of over a decade of violations of the UN's resolutions
  5. Because of Saddam Hussein's tyranny and human rights violations
  6. Because of genocide against various ethnic groups in Iraq
  7. Because weapons inspections were being blocked and delayed
  8. To free the Iraqui people
  9. Because Iraq has ties to al`Qaeda
  10. Because Iraq continues to be an imminent threat to the region
  11. To disarm the nation's enormous military (3rd largest on the planet at the time)
  12. To deal with the continual violations of cease fire agreements in 1991
  13. To preserve peace around the world
  14. To bring democracy to the region and help transform it
Only one of those was about WMD.  The only reason it came up so much is because it was questioned and argued so much, because the evidence was doubted and attacked.  Nobody questioned that Iraq had WMD at least in the past because they used the weapons both against Iran and their own people.  The United Nations cataloged and identified stockpiles after Desert Storm.  But the WMD was just one reason.
Myth 7: Illegal War.  The strangest part of this one is that many of the people who claimed it were the ones who voted for it to take place to begin with.  The War Powers Act was fulfilled when congress passed a resolution giving the president the goahead to use military force to fight terrorism.  The UN passed a resolution requiring Iraq to comply with inspections and previous UN resolutions and the deadline passed without that happening.  Even if the UN's complaints about the US acting without their direct command was valid, it is irrelevant to US law, which supercedes all outside laws in the country.  If you want to know what an illegal war looks like, again, turn to President Obama's attack on Libya without bothering with the UN or congress whatsoever.
Myth 8: Unilateral Cowboys.  This myth claims that President Bush acted alone, he ignored allies, didn't build a coalition like his father, didn't create a multinational force, and attacked Iraq like some rash, bloodthirsty cowboy.  The problem with this is that its all a flat out lie.  The Coalition of the Willing included several dozen countries, multiple appeals to the United Nations, and troops on the ground from several different nations.  Unilateral is when you decide to bomb the heck out of Libya on your own and do it without bothering to consult congress or the UN.  Mind you I don't necessarily think that's a bad approach, I just want to point out the facts.
Myth 9: Mission Accomplished.  The Mission Accomplished banner drove the left berserk.  It wasn't accomplished!  We didn't leave until a decade later!  Look at all the fighting!  AIIIIIEIIEEIEIEEEE!!!!  The problem is that the banner wasn't for President Bush, it was for the military.  The banner was put up to celebrate the historically shocking swift defeat of the Iraqi military and the stunning defeat of the Iraqi government in a matter of days.  The Iraq war was won in 2003 as I pointed out in a previous post on this subject; the rebuilding and pacification of insurgents and dealing with foreign terrorists took longer.
Myth 10: Missing WMD. There was no WMD!  It was all a lie!  This of course depends heavily on Myth 6, the lie that all the invasion was about is WMD.  However, its also false to say that we found nothing.  Unfortunately, statements by President Bush and a misunderstanding of the Dulfer Report have contributed to this myth and its frustrating (one of the things that most annoyed me about President Bush the younger is that he'd back off of some truth too easily to mollify critics and extend a hand of cooperation to people who'd slap it aside and spit on him).  The truth is, WMD were found in Iraq, just not the huge stockpiles we know that the nation had.  In all the screaming about this, not once could I ever get such a person to respond to where they thought those weapons had gone.  Even Wikileaks released classified informationv showing that WMD had been found, quite a bit, actually.  A lot of it was decayed and old, but it was still there, and the resolutions required Iraq to show and destroy it all.  Its a lie to say we didn't find any.
Myth 11: Civilian Casualties.  Due to hysterical lies by the Lancet magazine and several other outlets, incredibly inflated civilian casualty numbers have been thrown around.  They're outrageously high, partly due to bad methodology, partly due to a willingness to treat terrorists as civilians, and partly due to just flat out partisan hatred of President Bush and Prime Minister Blair.  I and others have repeatedly torn this idiotic myth to tatters, and in fact you don't actually hear it come up very often.  Its just tough to watch movies or read fiction from the time period because it comes up again and again without question.  Too many civilians died in the war and rebuilding, largely because of the cowardly and pathetic wretches we fought against who'd hide among the civilian population and use them as human shields.  However, the coalition military worked harder than any army in the history of mankind to prevent and reduce casualties, so they were incredibly low for such a long, deadly operation.
Myth 12: Military Casualties.  Although you don't hear much about this under a Democrat president, the left used to cry about "grim milestones" and military casualties, angrily gritting their teeth that the military would not let the press film coffins being flown into the country.  The truth is, again, military casualties (on the good guys side at least) were unbelievably low.  As I wrote about during the worst of the death rates, the rate of death for soldiers was actually lower than the rate of civilian deaths during peace time, and unbelievably low for a military operation.
Myth 13: The Quagmire/Duration.  This myth relies on the argument that we were at war from 2003 until 2011.  That's an amazingly long time, longer than even Europe was involved in WW2 (roughly 1939 to 1944).  The problem is that as I noted above, the waronly took a few weeks, but the rebuilding process took longer.  As rebuilding efforts went, it was fairly short, but the continual attacks on Iraq by Iranian and Syrian terrorists sent in to destabilize the country and prevent democracy from arising in the region (especially non-Muslim democracy) extended and complicated that effort.  And, because there was no shocking obliteration of the nation and "war weariness" in the population where they just get tired of fighting and want it over, the speed of the conquest actually worked against our rebuilding efforts.  Eventually the weariness of the "insurgency" and terrorism set in, and a shift in focus from firebase missions to presence in the population under the "surge" made a rapid and dramatic difference in the country.  It just took a while.
Myth 14: The Sanctions were working.  This is one that UN-philes bring up a lot.  Diplomacy was working!  We could have done it without guns!  Give peas a chance!  The problem is that the sanctions were working... for Saddam Hussein.  Not only was he able to continue building up his military through nations who didn't' care about the sanctions such as France, Russia, and China, but through the Oil for Food program he was able to bribe the UN and figures around the world to let him have anything he wanted.  Hussein wasn't suffering a bit, but he had an excuse to blame for his peoples' misery.  And further, support for the sanctions was waning, and arguments for just lifting them were starting to build up.  It is likely they'd have mostly ended in a year or two anyway.
Myth 15: The Iraqis were better off under Hussein.  Michael Moore loves this one, and his images of kids flying kites and happy shiny people under Saddam Hussein compared to horror and misery without him was a major part of his excrable Fahrenheit 9/11 faux documentary.  But its wrong on so many levels that it is difficult to express in human language.  Just in terms of infrastructure the country was rapidly far better off than before the war, and all those children imprisoned and tortured to control the parents were freed.  The nation is much better off now without a horrific, murderous dictator and his sadistic family.
Myth 16: The War for Oil.  You don't see this one much any more, but it was loud and continuous during the war, and once in a while some loon will fire it off again, so I wanted to tack it on.  It is abundantly obvious without any shred of rational or factual refutation that the US did not invade Iraq for cheap oil.  Most of the oil contracts went to other nations, principally China.  Now, personally I would have liked the war cost to have been paid off in cheap oil contracts, but those were negotiated away as part of the deal to forgive Saddam Hussein's billions of dollars in loans so Iraq could start clean as a new nation.
And that's enough for now.  Well, almost.
One more myth for free: Iraq was not about nation building.  It simply was not, and I keep reading right-leaning pundits criticize President Bush for nation building.  I'm sorry but that's absolutely false.  I know where it comes from, and I sympathize to a point, but its wrong.
Nation building is when you attack a nation in order to fix it, as in Somalia or the former Yugoslavia republics.  Its when you take over a nation simply to remove its government and install a new one.  In Iraq we invaded an enemy to destroy its military and end the terrorist threat, finishing up a war started in 1991.  Then we rebuild the demolished nation as the US has been doing for almost a century now.
Its a subtle difference, but an important one.  We fix what we break in the US - or at least we used to.  We can't afford it any longer, and probably there's no will in the country to do it any more, especially as the people we helped rebuild tend to turn on us and spit afterward.
And that's the sad truth of the matter: Iraq did end up a miserable failure in one sense - the effort to democratize the region failed because all the efforts to follow up on the idea and the will to stand strong and oppose tyranny faded with the election of President Obama.  So the chain reaction and the liberty that President Bush and others envisioned for the region took place... and ended up as Muslim dictatorships.
Would they have been so anyway?  We'll never know now.
*This is part of the Common Knowledge series: things we know that ain't so.