Wednesday, March 31, 2010

News from the Past - March 31, 1930

Haven't done one of these in a while. I'm forced to bring you a cautionary tale from The Bradford Era, the only paper in M'Kean County recieving the unrivaled news service of the Associated press. Don't kow if that is still true - anyway this particular Bradford is in Pennsylvania.
Attending Too Many
Church Services Brings
Three Youths to Jail

Ann Arbor, Mich., March 30. Attending tco many church services brought Clarence Hapgood, 20, Toledo, Robert Powell, 21, Portsmouth, O., and Roy C. Martin, Detroit, to jail today. At the place of first attendance, the German Lutheran church, three overcoats were missed. Police were notified with a description of the suspects.

A few minutes later, a patrolman noticed three youths answering the description, entering the Presbyterian church, all three without overcoats. He waited and in five minutes the trio came out each equipped with a good coat. Search of their room disclosed ten overcoats.
Just for the record - attending church didn't send these coat-stealers to jail. Stealing coats did.

Is Obama Evil?

Maybe but Michael Medved says there's not much point in trying to convince the American people of that, in his latest article.
Based on human nature and political history, the answer to that question ought to be obvious: Americans have often felt that our leaders make mistakes or pursue destructive policies but we have rarely (if ever) believed that they did it deliberately to damage the country. In the last 80 years, Herbert Hoover, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush all got voted out of office by an angry electorate but a majority of the public never embraced the idea that these floundering presidents were actually bad guys.
He really lays in to the Republican Base, purely on practical grounds.
The same Harris Poll that showed a majority of GOP’ers think Obama is a Muslim also suggested that a full 24% of Republicans believe he “may be the Antichrist.” Why would independent, moderate or undecided voters ever want to associate themselves with such people?
He's not wrong, from a tactical sense at least. But of course I hope that Republican Party fails to heed his advice; since as dissappointing as Obama has been, he's still far better than any Republican would be.

I'm wonedering what Medved's readers at Townhall thought of his prescription.
We don't need another John McCain disaster from you Rockeffeler republcans. Take your arrogant, condescending,losing, wishy washy strategies and get lost.

Who cares whether Obama is wrong or evil. He is dangerous and is destroying America.

There can be no denying the reams od evidence and facts pointing to Obama's psychopath narcissism. You can point to Hitler's successes in building the autobahn, rebuilding German industry, or reuniting German-speakers in the Sudetenland, but that does not negate teh fact that Hitler was a psychopath narcissist, and a very popular one at that.

He [Obama ] is leading us down a road traveled by the U.S.S.R. and China and it leads to impoverishment for all Americans.

What he [Obama] is, is The Great Deceiver, the Great Divider, The Great Depressor for a destructive leftist agenda. I guess that would also make him The Great Destroyer.
Yeah Medved isn't exactly winning them over - in fairness there are other posts who totally agree with Medved though.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pretending to Understand

Dennis Prager's latest article takes on the age old question of why are people liberals in a fairly standard ways. Liberalism/Leftism is a religion - we are converts.
Leftism, though secular, must be understood as a religion (which is why I have begun capitalizing it). The Leftist value system's hold on its adherents is as strong as the hold Christianity, Judaism and Islam have on their adherents.
It's not new to Prager - many have proposed this theory. What's interesting about it are the implications of it.

First of all, Prager suggests fairly strongly that our Leftist religious concerns are irrational and therefore not worth dealing with. There is a gulf between world views that seems unbridgable.

But the implication is - since he clearly points to right wing Christians and Jews as being motiviated by their faith, that both sides are equally irrational? But that is presumably not Prager's intent.

He also trots out the old canard that Leftist Jews and Christians are keen on seeing Israel destroyed. Kind of sad that; a child could see that one can want to see a better situation for the Palestinians without wanting to see Israel destroyed.

At the end of the day, Prager isn't interested in understanding liberals or leftists or in helping his readers understand them. Quite the contrary; he is putting up barriers to ensure that his followers don't grapple with liberalism or leftism in any real way.

Why I Like Paul O’Brien

I mean, what do these intergalactic ambassadors say when they get home? "Ah, Z'Krj. Did you read out the prepared speech, explain our position thoughtfully, and phone back for instructions before responding to any new development on behalf of our entire planet?" "No, great leader. I got rather carried away and signed our planet up to invade another world because everyone else was shouting very loudly." "You useless asshole, Z'Krj."
Paul O’Brien, back in the day.

Also check out House to Astonish - where he blogs about comics and also has a podcast with Al Kennedy. They should podcast continuously, but they apparently have jobs, so that isn't possible.

Doing this because townhall isn't working for me just yet.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Bring on the Night

I've been sick so haven't been posting much. Feeling better. Sort of.

Of course there's always something to bring me down. Like 37 people dead in Moscow Subway bombings.

And the knowledge that this will immediately and inexorably lead to articles by conservatoids calling Obama weak and suggesting we need to torture more and possibly invade other countries that are a threat.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

More Intemperete Language

This is from Dennis Prager's latest article.
Acknowledge that we are in a non-violent civil war.

I write the words "civil war" with an ache in my heart. But we are in one.

Thank God this civil war is non-violent. But the fact is that the left and the rest of the country share almost no values. The American value system and the leftist value system are irreconcilable. If the left wins, America's values lose. If American values prevail, the left loses.
Again, Obama and Congressional Democrats cut out the Public Option, cut out letting citizens sign up for medicare and didn't even make a real attempt at universal healthcare or single payer. They caved into the right again and again and again. And in return? Civil War.

Makes you wonder if maybe Obama should have fought for a stronger bill. Still a stronger bill might not have passed; so maybe this was the best we could get. But it is discouraging to find a watered down, weak bill such as this described as essentially socialist.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Intemperate Language

You don't expect temperate language out of Austin Hill anyway, but his latest article takes the proverbial cake.
If a frontal assault on the foundational principals and values of American life can qualify as being “at war” - then yes, Barack Obama is in combat with our country.
Nice. That'a even a step further than the treason comments we saw during the Iraq war. Or effectively pro-terrorist.

Unfortunately his evidence will largely convince only those who already agree with him.
The stunning, “we’ll-stop-at-nothing” fight to take-over the healthcare industry and the medical profession has put Obama-styled cronyism on full display – and therein lies the greatest assault on America.
Stop at nothing? Correct me if I'm wrong, but if he were really stopping at nothing wouldn't we have a public option? Instead the Obama administration chose to fight the left wint of his supporters with far more vigor than he expended on beating back conservative watering down of his plan.

The result? A somewhat weak bill that that conservatoids are still complaining about in terms that make you think Karl Marx wrote it.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sean Hannity's Scam

This is an interesting story from conservative bloggist Debbie Schlussel. Sean Hannity has been giving Freedom Concerts for the last few years - shows where his fans can come, see him, Charlie Daniels, and a half dozen other performers, the proceeds of which are supposed to do to scholarships for the children of deceased soldiers. Sounds like a nice noble cause to me.

Except it turns out that the charity gives less than 25% of the money they take in to charity. The rest goes to expenses, which in the case of Hannity and his family and friends are somewhat extensive. Shlussel quotes a conservative writer who describes them.
Of course, as the guy tells it, there’d be a lot more money every concert to go to the cause if Hannity didn’t demand–and get–use of a Gulfstream 5 plane to fly him and his family/entourage to the concerts; a “fleet” (that’s the word the guy used) of either Cadillac or Lincoln SUVs for him and his family/entourage; and several suites at really expensive hotels for him and his family/entourage. The promoter apparently values Hannity’s star demands at well over $200,000 per event.
Shlussel throws around a figure that 75% of the intake for a legitimate charity needs to go to the kids. I suspect that is after expenses, because otherwise it makes little sense. The larger point is whether or not Hannity is doing what needs to be done to keep expenses down, in order to send more money to the kids. And it kind of sounds like the answer is no. .

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Deception by Omission

Jacki Gingrich Cushman's latest article takes on the current attempt to get healthcare passed by the House. She takes Pelosi to task for suggesting this "deemed to pass" method which owuld allow the bill to pass without an actual vote.
This process of voting on the amendments and deeming the bill passed would allow House members to return home and say, "I didn't vote for the Senate bill." They could pass a lie-detector test with flying colors. The statement would be truth, but not necessarily truthful.
It's interesting that Cushman takes this tack, as her own article isn't necessarily an accurate representation. While she doesn't specifically say what problems the House has with the Senate bill, she certainly implies that they are opposing the Health Care Reform bill for being too liberal or too socialist. In fact the House doesn't want to pass the Senate bill because they feel it is considerably weaker and less conservative than their own bill.

But I suppose that would change Cushman's narrative considerably.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The World of Libraries

There's an article over at Salon about libraries - kind of noodly but interesting enough.

I worked in Libraries in high school and again in college - it's very tiresome work but not too bad. I got in big trouble once for locking the friends of the library room up and leaving a soda inside. Yeah, I was kind of a rebel.

Friends of the library were not very friendly to those of us who worked for the library -but they did book sales and fund raisers to help the library buy new books. And they had special room in the basement of the library where they kept their junk books - and we pages would be sent down there from time to time. One time I took a soda with me and then locked the key inside. All the other keys had gone home for the night so I was boned.

Also someone donated a book on how to effectively stage and shoot soft core porn. Nice hardcover book, with, as I recall, a special page on the uses of the trampoline. That book didn't stick around for very long.

What did stick around was national geographic. Hole crap did national geographic stick around. I don't know what it is about that magazine - people feel guilty throwing it out or something. So they take it to donate to the library and it's always like "Thanks - we are working on our seventh complete set of this magazine, but we can always use an eighth."

My college experience was a bit more pedestrian - I mostly remeber the head pages not really giving a damn, which was nice since I didn't give a damn either.

Libraries are good, but I can understand why they need to change with the times.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Comments Closed

On Friday Night, Sen. Harry Rieds daughter and wife were involved in a serious accident. The daughter sustained minor injuries; the wife a broken back and neck. Dan Riehl, Conservative Blogger, has called on Reid to euthanize his wife.
Come on, Harry - do your civic duty. The nation's broke and counting on you guy. Pull the plug and get back to work. And don't bill us for a full day today, either. This is no time to be sloughing off. Air freight her home, you can bury her during recess on your own time and dime. Or are you going to bill us for that, too?
He also has this comment at the top of his inhumanely cruel political post.
Comments closed. I don't have time to mind the idiots and Lefty trolls who need to spew filth of no consequnce. yawn.
Filth of no consequence, eh. I'm guessing that Riehl is an expert on that.


Allen Hunt's latest article is on the role that faith should play in our national politics, using the race between John McCain and J.D. Hayworth as his touchstone.
Both McCain and Hayworth reduce faith and debase it. McCain reduces it to a relic socked away in the recesses of a memory. A lifeless, fossilized relic not to be examined or even given much credence. Hayworth reduces faith to a predictable, mathematical equation. Stake out five clear positions and call yourself “a good Christian.” In these reductions, we discover problems not just with John McCain and J.D. Hayworth, but also with America's inability to discern the proper role faith should play in one's life and in our public life together.
It's an interesting article, albeit one that uses the unfortunate metaphor of worms in the underwear. Basically he says that neither Hayworth or McCain give him actual insight into how faith has influenced their lives. McCain because he says nothing; Hayworth because what he says is simply a checklist. He's not wrong on this point. That said, Hayworth is following his approach because it's clear that significant number of Conservative Christians want to hear it formulated that way, and, more to the point, want to believe that McCain is a bad Christian because he fails to follow this articulation (and because of his middle of the road stances on a number of issues, in fairness.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Praising a Townhall Article

Usually I am into tearing down articles from Conservatoid website, But today let's praise an article, "The Crumbling Pillars of the Culture War," by Michael Gerson. I don't necessarily agree with everything in the article; but the basic argument is interesting and worth considering.

Basically Gerson traces how both the Pro-Life movement and the Gay Rights movement have progressed and become more mainstream.
But so far the gay rights movement has succeeded for many of the same reasons that the pro-life movement (to a lesser extent) has succeeded. Both have taken sometimes abstract, theoretical arguments and humanized them. Both have moved away from extreme-sounding moralism (or anti-moralism) and placed their cause in the context of civil rights progress. Whatever your view on the application of these arguments, this is the way social movements advance in America.
It's an interesting article, and worth considering.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Why are there liberals?

This is the question Frank Turek dares to ask in his latest article. Given that liberals know they are wrong on all the issues why do they continue being liberals?

And yes, that really is the premise - we liberals know we are wrong but we keep on being liberals. We know that socialized medicine doesn't work, yet we push for healthcare reform. We know that tax cuts produce more revenue, yet we push for tax increases on the wealthy. We know that government relief hurts the poor, but we push for it anyway. We know that terrorists can't be negotiated with but we want to negotiate anyway.

Put that way, we liberals are pretty nasty aren't we? Of course, Turek does resort to distoring liberalism to prove his point. Liberals don't favor negotiating with terrorists, we favor negotiating with nation states to help eliminate terrorists. In other cases, he claims that we know things we don't actually know. For example, I don't know that tax cuts always generate more revenue - logically it seems like that can't be true (or at a 0% tax rate we'd have infinite revenue?

Still, if you grant the premise that we liberals are willfully wrong for just a moment, his explanation is pretty nasty. We liberals are in rebellion - a childish rebellion against our fellow citizens and against the founding principles of this nation.
If liberals really cared, they would abandon their false and failed ideas, and acknowledge what history and common sense tell us—liberalism hurts everyone but those in government.
It's not that uncommon an explanation - at the core we liberals are bastards. Most conservatives believe that of liberals and liberals increasingly believe that of conservatives. Pretty harmful to our national discourse I should think - why bother talking to bastards who want to ruin the country?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Slavery and the Founding Fathers

Usually conservatives aren't keen on remembering that many of our founding fathers were slave owners. But Tony Blankley is a more positive fellow, and, in his latest article, argues that slave-owning actually helped our founding fathers.
He [Edmund Burke] recognized that it wasn't despite being slaveholders that American Colonists felt so powerfully about liberty. Rather, being in the midst of the obvious evils of slavery, those men who were free more fully appreciated their freedom. "Those who are free are by far the most proud and jealous of rank and privilege," Burke argued. Or, as Jedediah Purdy (from whose historically rich and ingenious book "A Tolerable Anarchy" I have abstracted these observations) put it: "Slavery made masters uniquely sensitive to any invasion of their independence."
It's a tricky argument isn't it? Slaveowners were very sensitive to losing their freedom because they were so dependent on removing the freedom of others. This transformed the denier of freedom into the champion of freedom. Somehow.

I suppose the parallel to today would the corporations - corporations do control our lives to an increasing extent - and yet they are champions of freedom, simply by being aware of how precarious freedom is. Which is why they work hard to protect their own freedom - freedom to pollute, freedom to treat their workers poorly, freedom to foist unsafe products on consumers, freedom to buy votes as they see fit. One might argue that these "freedoms" impinge on the freedoms of other American citizens. But like in the time of our founding, without this impingement, these champions of liberty would not realize how very valuable freedom is.

Or something like that.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Dirhams rather than Dollars

Dennis Prager's latest article is about how American Democrats don't care about bankrupting the nation because they want to redistribute wealth more than they want to help people. It must be very comforting to know your political enemies are such blackguards. He then notes how Obama is ruining America through the medium of foriegn nations not being keen on the dollar.
As for the dollar, I can bear personal testimony to the decline of the dollar's prestige. I am writing this column in Morocco. In Casablanca, my wife and I and another couple hired a Moroccan driver for the day. And when it came time to pay, the man refused to accept dollars; he wanted to be paid in either Euros or Moroccan dirhams. Yes, dirhams rather than dollars.
I suppose it doesn't occur to Prager that if the takes dollars he's got to convert the prices to dollars, take the dollars, then get them converted back into dirhams.

But if America had real prestige, of course, the driver would be happy to go to all this trouble. Because real prestige means that other nation's drivers are happy to put up with inconviences just for the chance to touch a dollar. Prager should try to pay for a New York cab ride with anything but a dollar and see what happens.

But presumably this ties back to American exceptionalism; while other nations should be grateful to take our dollars, it's just silly to assume that America, the bestest nation on all the earth, would take their micky mouse money.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Who is Reponsible for your Health and Happiness?

Kevin McCullough's latest article is warmed over tripe on the theme of personal responsibility. He claims, as conservatoids often do, that liberals want the state to take care of individuals while conservatives want individuals to take care of themselves.
If you wish to see an enjoyable evening with friends become quite animated, then overly hostile, and end in exacting bitterness, ask those in attendance to choose between the following.

As an individual citizen, is it more American to believe that you have a personal responsibility to be personally accountable for your actions, and those of your family? Or is it more American to believe that you should wait for the giant collective to take care of you?
Of course this presupposes two situations.

One a state of nature where individuals are completely responsible for their own actions and live or die on their own merits.

Two a state of collectivism where the individuals needs are the responsibility of the nanny state.

There's quite a bit of a gap between those two. The state of nature, which McCullough apparently supports is, inevitably, one in which the strong control the weak and their is little to no recourse. You may believe I'm exaggerating, but consider how much of the right wing's program is involved in ensuring that citizens have no way to protect themselves from corporations.

I can't speak for all liberals, but I want a society that allows each citizen the space to find his or her own success - governments job isn't to coddle and take care of citizens. It's to protect them from those societal forces like crime and corporations, that would prevent them from seeking life, liberty, and happiness.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Reality vs. The Dictionary

Douglas MacKinnons latest article utilizes a nice technique; he uses a cold dictionary definition without reference to additional meanings of the word or the emotional resonance of the word. In this case he selects a very broad definition of socialist and asks why we can't call Obama a socialist. He then takes a very broad, value nuetral definition of the word ideologue and asks why we can't call Obama an ideaologue.

He even basically implies that Obama is dumb or disingenuous for not accepting those labels.

It's the socialist label he's really interested in pasting on Obama. I'm sure it will stick with his readership despite the many and constant concessions President Obama has made to both big business and the right. I rather wish Obama would just accept the socialist mantle and start fighting; but I doubt he will.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


I haven't read much that piqued my interest over the last few days - so I will point you to this blog post at Comic Book Resources about Political Commentary in comic books. It's pretty interesting.

Monday, March 01, 2010

The Tyranny of False Choices

Joseph C. Phillips latest article starts out ok, despite it's aggressive title, "Saving the Soul of the Religious Left." He takes liberals to task for suggesting any failure on the part of the Religious Right is evidence of hypocrisy; fair enough. Sometimes it clearly is, but sometimes it is just human weakness.

The bulk of his article argues however, that Liberal Christians believe in the state more than they believe in God. He ends with this challenge.
And here ultimately is the greatest question the religious left must be prepared to answer. Do we walk by faith in the administrative state? Or do we believe in mans capacity to change his life through the grace and mercy of God?
It's a false choice (as referenced by the title of this post). One can both serve God and believe in the spiritual improvement of ones fellow man while also working to make a society that works. Some might feel a calling more in one direction or the other, but there is no conflict between the two. Consider, for a moment, the abolition movement. There were plenty of religious abolitionists who looked at America in the first half of the 19th century and worked to improve it (by fighting slavery). They didn't see a conflict between their religious devotion and their desire to create a more just America. And I don't either.