Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
May 7, 2010 - April 30, 2010

Friday, May 07, 2010

Leaks and things...

Who's getting hosed here?

CONTINUING DECLINING AND FALLING AND DISGRACING YOURSELF. Some provocations are as narrow and intense as a pinhole in a copper pipe. But the spray can take in a lot of territory. Here's an example from NRO's Andrew McCarthy:

Disgraceful Leaking

As I explained in this post last evening, there seems to have been no good reason to file the arrest complaint against Faisal Shahzad publicly, and to have done so in a way that showed he was cooperating. All that does is alert co-conspirators that they've been compromised and should think about fleeing and destroying evidence.

It turns out that I didn't know the half of it. This comes from an NPR report (and thanks to Greg McNeal for bringing it to my attention):

[W]hat hasn’t been apparent until now is how news coverage of this story fundamentally changed the investigation. Law enforcement officials usually say they can't talk to reporters about an ongoing investigation, but there were leaks in this case from the beginning — partly because of the dynamic between two powerful law enforcement forces in New York City....

Details about the Times Square investigation were all over the local newspapers, even as authorities were still trying to puzzle out who was responsible. Any element of surprise that law enforcement might have had was evaporating. To be fair, law enforcement was partly to blame. In many cases, it was the source of the information and leaks. But there seemed to be an extra level of frustration about the leaks in this case. As one law enforcement official told NPR, "Our operational plans were being driven by the media, instead of the other way around. And that's not good."

He said they watched in horror as news organizations started talking about the fact that the vehicle identification number on the Nissan Pathfinder used in the botched bombing had been taken off the windshield. Then another report said that wouldn't matter, as authorities could find the VIN on other parts of the car. A short time later, the fact that they had found the number was reported. The coverage was providing a lot of clues about the direction the case was going.

On Monday afternoon, basically a day-and-a-half after the attack, a news organization reported that law enforcement officials were looking for an American citizen of Pakistani descent from Shelton, Conn. (NPR also had the information but didn't report it out of concern that it would affect the investigation before Shahzad's arrest.) Shahzad mentioned that news report after he was in police custody, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the case. He told the arresting officers that the moment he read it was the moment he knew it was only a matter of time before authorities would close in on him. He also assumed from the report that he was under surveillance. That's an important detail, because surveillance is only effective if people don't know they are being watched. "It was like watching an episode of 24 in real time," a law enforcement official said. The only problem was that Shahzad was able to watch it, too.

Then it got worse: Reporters started showing up at Shahzad's house in Shelton, waiting for the arrest to happen. Shahzad was actually up the road at a ramshackle apartment he had rented in Bridgeport. That's where officers were watching him — but apparently that also was leaked. A TV reporter showed up there and waited.

For the arresting officers, there was another wrinkle. They knew from running Shahzad's name through databases that he had purchased a gun in March. If the suspect was following the media reports, he knew the noose was tightening and might try to shoot his way out. They had to fundamentally change how they were going to approach the house to prepare for that possibility. But Shahzad surprised them by leaving the apartment. He went to a local supermarket and they lost track of him. NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly told NPR on Wednesday that they lost him for about three hours. When they finally caught up with Shahzad just before midnight Monday on a plane bound for Dubai, he smiled at the officers and said, "I've been expecting you. Are you NYPD or FBI?" 

Tipping off reporters so they can show up at a police stake-out of an armed terrorist's home? Mind-boggling.

Given that somehow nobody died in the Times Square fiasco, it's impossible to miss a certain comic element in the behavior of the press (excepting NPR, which behaved properly and should be lauded for same). But my own first thought was of an SNL skit during Desert Storm. I couldn't locate the video but here's a transcript:

[ open on press conference discussing the Gulf War ]

Defense Secretary Richard Cheney: And so, to sum up, while this war is by no means over, it is certainly fair to say that we have inflicted heavy damage on the Iraqi war machine, and every day brings victory for the coalition that much colser. Now I'm going to hand the floor over to Lieutenant Colonel Pierson, who will field your questions.

Lt. Col. William Pierson: Thank you [Secretary] Cheney. I'm happy to take any questions you might have with the understanding that there are certain sensitive areas that I'm just not going to get into. Particularly, information that might be useful to the enemy. Yes?

Reporter #1: What date are we going to start the ground attack?

Lt. Col. William Pierson: Well, as I mentioned a moment ago, there are certain sensitive areas which we are just not going to go into, and that is certainly one of them. Yes?

Reporter #2: Sir, knowing what you know, where would you say our forces are most vulnerable to attack, and how could the Iraqis best exploit those weaknesses?

Lt. Col. William Pierson: Well, again, this falls into the area of information that might be useful to the enemy, and I just can't divulge it right now.

Reporter #3: Sir! Which method of hiding SCUD missiles is working best for the Iraqis?

Lt. Col. William Pierson: Now, this again is a good example of information that could help the enemy, and I just can't answer that.

Reporter #4: I have a two-part question. Are we planning an amphibious invasion of Kuwait, and if so, where exactly will that be?

Defense Secretary Richard Cheney: Excuse me. If I could interrupt here, I just want to underscore what Colonel Pierson said at the start of Q&A. There are two general categories of questions that we are simply not going to be able to address. On, those that would give our enemy advance warning of our actions, and two, those that would identify any points of weakness or vulnerabilities to the Iraqi forces. So let's reopen the floor to questions.

Reporter #5: I understand that there are passwords that our troops use on the front lines. Could you give us some examples of those?

Lt. Col. William Pierson: No, that is something I really cannot comment on.

Reporter #6: Yeah! Are we planning an amphibious invasion of Kuwait? And if so, where?

Lt. Col. William Pierson: I believe that question was asked and if you recall, I already answered it, or said I could not answer.

Reporter #7: Sir, what would be the one piece of information that would be most dangerous for the Iraqis to know?

Lt. Col. William Pierson: No can answer! I have time for two more questions. Yeah?

Reporter #8: Yes, Farud Hashami, Baghdad Times. Where are your troops, and can I go there and count them?

Lt. Col. William Pierson: Nope! Last question.

Reporter #9: Is there anything that you can tell us that would lower the morale of our fighting men?

Lt. Col. William Pierson: No. Really, the only thing we're at liberty to say at this time is, "Live, from New York, it's Saturday Night!

Probably the only time SNL ever weighed in on the side of Dick Cheney. Maybe that's why the video is unavailable. But the question of where the press stands on matters that can directly affect the safety or peril of American citizens is no laughing matter. The skit highlighted what we can call the 'new ethics' of MSM journalism. Meaning their incredibly arrogant pose of neutrality as they occupy a cushy platform protected by American law, American arms, and American capitalism.

There is, in fact, a pretty repulsive underside of the SNL skit. Here's a glimpse from November 2001:

ABC News President David Westin caused a stir two weeks ago at Columbia University when he was asked whether he thought the Pentagon was a legitimate military target. Westin replied, "I actually don't have an opinion on that, and it's important I not have an opinion on that as I sit here in my capacity right now. As a journalist, I feel strongly that's something that I should not be taking a position on."

Later, he was forced to apologize, and did, but we've learned that the apologies of the powerful are usually insincere and loaded with qualifications intended to demonstrate that they're not sorry, just inconvenienced or at risk in terms of their personal careers.

Here's a deeper look (courtesy of Winds of Change, June 2009) at the journalism world of today. As might be expected, it's emblematic of hypocrisy, moral relativism, and what one can only term institutional narcissism:

[A] courageous NY Times reporter [David Rohde] was kidnapped at the Pakistan/Afghanistan border last fall, was held hostage by the Taliban, and recently - with amazing pluck and luck - escaped into the welcome arms of some nearby US soldiers.

Now that's a great story; not only an amazing drama in the kidnapping, and adventure in captivity, and now one with the happiest of endings.

But we weren't told it until the story was over. Joe Strupp in E & P, explains that all of the professional US media kept a lid on the story...

Do a NY Times search for "kidnapped Afghanistan" and you'll find this January 2008 story about an American woman and her driver who'd just been kidnapped, this September 2008 story about an Afghan official who was kidnapped in Pakistan, a November 2008 story about a French aid worker who was kidnapped in Kabul.

Now that doesn't mean they cover every kidnapping -- just that they cover some.

And that's not to mention the national security stories they happily and proudly ran (the Swift program, a perfectly legal program for tracking international financial transactions which they uncovered, among others).

I've got two massive problems with this.

The first, and obvious one, is covered in the Fallows piece I cite above, after Mike Wallace has explained [in response to a hypothetical question] that he'd stand by and roll tape as a guerilla force ambushed and wiped out an American patrol, because -- in his exact words:

Didn't Jennings have some higher duty, either patriotic or human, to do something other than just roll film as soldiers from his own country were being shot? "No," Wallace said flatly and immediately. "You don't have a higher duty. No. No. You're a reporter!"

A member of the US military responded:

A few minutes later Ogletree turned to George M. Connell, a Marine colonel in full uniform, jaw muscles flexing in anger, with stress on each word, Connell looked at the TV stars and said, "I feel utter . . . contempt. " Two days after this hypothetical episode... Jennings or Wallace might be back with the American forces -- and could be wounded by stray fire, as combat journalists often had been before. The instant that happened, he said, they wouldn't be "just journalists" any more. Then they [the marines] would drag them back, rather than leaving them to bleed to death on the battlefield. "We'll do it!" Connell said. "And that is what makes me so contemptuous of them. Marines will die going to get ... a couple of journalists." The last few words dripped with disgust.

And I can imagine how, when Rohde saw the uniforms of the US troops and knew that meant he was now safe, his heart must have lifted. And what's wrong with that, of course, is that he wants -- as Col. Connell suggests -- to be able to claim sanctuary from his countrymen. Now I don't know Rohde's work, and I'm not going to claim that he's remotely where Wallace claimed to be while sitting in the comfort of a videotaped seminar. But his institution is. And that's a problem to me. Because it was US soldiers who gave Rohde sanctuary, not some mercenary force fighting in the name of the NY Times or international journalism.

The other problem is, if anything, more serious. And it is the simple fact that we are increasingly living in a society that plays by Ottoman rules; meaning that what the rules are depend -- of course -- on who you are. That's not something we will survive for long, and simply put, it needs to be exposed and stamped out anywhere we see it.

Well, I see it here, in the Times Square argle-bargle. We got lucky. If the bomb had been real, a lot of people would have died. As it happened, the bomb was a marginally dangerous photo-op. That doesn't mean the investigation should become a Broadway comedy.

Spanish subtitles are our belated tribute to cinqo de mayo. With onions.

Back then, of course, they knew journalists were opportunistic scum you'd never invite into your home. Maybe it's time we remembered that. And maybe that's why the MSM hates it when anyone talks about remembering. Narcissists always want to be in charge of the present, which means making sure there really isn't any past in which they can be held accountable. Good luck with that. Assholes.

Thursday, May 06, 2010


Loose Ends

WEIRDNESS. I'm not trying to incite conspiracy theories with this. It's just that there are a couple of things going on right now I don't understand at all.

The first is being kicked around at NRO this morning. Here's the best summary of the riddle:

[T]he thing I can't wrap my head around is not the firecracker detonators (which the guy who sold them to Shahzad said "wouldn't damage a watermelon"); or the propane tanks with the unopened valves (safety features on propane tanks made within the last decade or so won't allow the flow of gas unless a receptacle is physically connected to them). No, what really gets me is the two clocks and wire leads attached to. . . absolutely nothing.

If we're operating under the assumption that the firecrackers were supposed to ignite the propane gas (not) leaking into the truck, which was in turn supposed to burn the gasoline and ignite the fertilizer, then there is absolutely no place in the circuit for a couple of digital alarm clocks with some Radio Shack wires hooked up (?) to them. Even if the bomb were rigged to a timing device, it would need an explosive detonator that could respond to an electrical signal (off the top of my head, a model rocket engine or something). This device had no such element.

No amount of stupid accounts for this, if you ask me. It's the kind of thing that only a few too many action movies and a big disconnect from reality can explain.

Does this mean that Shahzad was living in a fantasy world? Does it mean that — to use some psycho-babble — this wasn't terrorism so much as a "terroristic gesture"? Does it mean he wanted to get caught? (When he was arrested on the Emirates flight, Shahzad reportedly told authorities "I was expecting you. Are you NYPD or FBI?"). Or was he a sincere, true-blue jihadist who was just incompetent, perhaps the best the Tehrik-e-Taliban — harried on the ground by the Pakistani army and from above by the drones — could come up with?

It doesn't make sense. On the one hand he's supposed to be a trained terrorist in an international jihadi network. On the other hand he's planted a bomb that wasn't so much dysfunctional as a prop designed to look like a bomb. Feel free to explain it to me.

Here's the second item that has me scratching my head. It was forwarded to me by Lloyd Pye, who has no more idea what it means than I do. Obviously it has no provenance whatever. But it sure is curious. A pair of commenters on the oil rig explosion in the gulf:

There is something fishy with this disaster. Long ago I worked in oil refining. Safety devices are everywhere and yet on this rig none were set off. This rig is massive so whatever blew it had to be something other than oil. The fire is on the deck. The flotation legs don't burn. So the fire would have burned out leaving a floating wreck. So how did it blow up?

[Am] I missing something?

This just doesn’t make sense, if the well was just cased and cemented that would leave the well totally isolated from the down hole formation fluids. It might be possible that they did not control down hole pressure and some oil (and more importantly gas) was circulated up ahead of the cement slurry, but even that would give all sorts of obvious signs that would have set off alarms. There are panic buttons in several places on the platform that would have automatically shut in the well on the seabed, but none of them had been activated. The oil and gas was 18,000 feet deep, it does not blow out instantaneously. The well would have to displace thousands of gallons of fluid in the wellbore first.

So a highly unlikely and sudden explosion occurs on a state of the art drilling rig, on the eve of Earth Day, just a few weeks after an announcement of increased offshore drilling.

I think that the investigation of this disaster should also include a background check of everyone involved just to be prudent.

I don't know anything about this subject. If you do, let me know.


HIGHWAYS IN HELL. I've been there several times. Kind, hospitable people and a city that's a fascinating mix of old south and brand new entrepreneurial, uh, things made of concrete and amusement park accessories. It's wonderful and touching and awful all at the same time. Someone took me to a nightclub in the old part of town, and it was the first time I realized just how well those country rednecks can play. It's not screeching. It's music and when you're there with them it's the best and most vital music you've ever heard. Nothing beats that slide guitar when you're three feet away from it and feeling the smile. And, yeah, I've been in jazz clubs in Chicago, too, but virtuosity is virtuosity, whether it's wearing sunglasses and fedoras or snakeskin boots and cowboy hats.

It's all underwater now. Here's Michelle Malkin's roundup of problems and ways to chip in.

Do what you can. They may not be begging for our help, but they need it.

Why I 'Suspicion' the Obvious

Consciousness. And what it's NOT.

UNINTENDED OBVIOUSNESS. I hate fisking conservatives and deep-down political allies. But sometimes it's necessary. I have to fisk this post, which is hard to do because I don't want to and he uses every format trick from italics to boldface to bolster his arguments. I need to highlight certain parts of his post and differentiate my added fisking text. Here's how I'll do it. When I highlight his text, I'll jump up the font size. When it's me commenting, I'll go old school: Courier type. Fair enough? He read the conversation between me and Doc Zero about the obvious. He's pretty sure the Doc holds all the cards.

Arguing Against Attitudes

Arguments about arguments are being dissected in an Interesting debate between Instapunk, who submits this provocative list of things he believes to be obvious.  I wish, because it's a good list and I find nothing there with which I disagree.  The premise however, I can't abide.  I only wish they were that obvious.  They ARE that obvious.

Doc Zero weighs in on item the first: "Corporate taxes are paid by individual taxpayers".  His argument is not that this isn't true but that it isn't obvious.  
a snippet:’s important to realize the average voter just doesn’t think about politics or economics in precise terms.  Those who don’t study these matters as professionals, or enthusiasts, find them repellent and dull.  However, they don’t want to come off as uninformed in polite conversation, especially when elections draw near.  They construct a set of attitudes, instead of concrete arguments. 
And MY argument, made in response to DocZero's somewhat fey take is that it really is obvious. To wit (what I said in my UPDATE after reading the DOc's piece):

A company posts a profit for the year and pays taxes on that profit. They still have money left over after they pay their taxes, which is called net profit after taxes. The income out of which they paid their taxes came from sales of their products to consumers like you. Who paid their taxes? Consumers like you. Does that make sense? Or am I getting into Occam trouble again? uh, I don't think so. If corporate income taxes suddenly went away, what would happen to their prices, do you think? Someone in their market would seize the opportunity of lowering prices to increase demand and market share. Others would have to follow suit. How markets work. Who was paying their taxes before the income tax went away? Three guesses and the first two don't count.

DocZero, 1,000 words. Me, 136 words. Some simple truths are indeed simple.

From here the essay evolves into an argument about how and what to argue, which counters Instapunk's introductory assertion that belaboring basic concepts is not the best use of conservative's intellectual firepower.

Instapunk's introductory assertion was this: "I was persuaded by Doctor Zero's argument that there is merit in applying advanced firepower to prove the obvious." Huh? The exact opposite of what is being averred here. This will show its relevance later.

I side with Doc on that point, although I have a quibble with another point where he says:

Too many essential truths have become “obvious” enough to turn invisible, because nobody thinks about them any longer.

What I think he is saying here is that essential truths are so prevalent they are taken for granted.  I believe they have been taken for granted for so long that they are no longer either prevalent or obvious.  I also believe that too many essential truths have been, are being, sacrificed on the alters of political correctness under the guise of pseudo compassion, though I did not make that point in my comments there.

Speaking of which... my comment:

Not sure I would agree with Instapunks list as being all that obvious.Now if he were to quantify his assertion that the list "should" be obvious to "those who think" we might get somewhere.   If they were so obvious would we be in this mess?

If I reference this point in my opening paragraph, does it not suggest that I'm thinking about what this fellow is thinking about? Here's what I said in Paragraph One: "But I ask, in all humility, how many obvious things do we have to prove and is it possible, in the end, to prove them to people who no longer reason, read, or ruminate?" What is he saying that I haven't already said?

It seems so much of what was assumed to be obvious, that free enterprize and success based on merit is a morally superior economic system for example, no longer gets the institutional reinforcement it once enjoyed, and has been replaced by the counter argument.  Commenters here tend to substantiate that observation in mentioning the gaps in their public education.   Doc Zero's dedication to repopularizing first principles helps fill that gap and I applaud and share it.  The filling of those gaps is the role being filled by the alternative media and it is having a positive affect.  Notice I didn't say it was pretty, quite the contrary.

The success of the left came from a heretofore prolonged monopolistic control of the narrative.  Corporate taxes, aren't on the average voters radar precisely because the left has successfully posited, incorrectly, that corporate taxes do not affect the average consumer. (How they can justify taxing corporations to kingdom come while trying to limit their freedom of expression via political donations is one of myriad left/liberal incoherencies that somehow remain largely unchallenged in the public debate. But that is a whole different issue)  To me, because I think, the incoherency is obvious with a capital O.   

The debate therefore, should not be about getting liberals to think, as that labyrinth of aforementioned incoherencies has metastasized into a groupthink impenetrable by logic.  So I agree attempts at said penetration are indeed a waste of time and effort. 

I'm pretty sure I said THIS in my initial post: "People on the left do not think. They pose, they preen, they presume, they polemicize, they piss on their putative enemies, but they do not ponder anything of import anymore. Since the last new progressive idea occurred to them a long human lifetime ago, they are, as a procreative power, suffering peripatetically from an enlarged pseudo-populist prostate gland. Their peeing is urgent, precise as a petunia watering can, and it pulverizes their peace of mind by keeping their little pee-pees problematic all night. Not to mention impotent. Like every pompous popinjay at the Puffington Post."

That said, a strong consistent effort should be aimed at self proclaimed moderates, focusing primarily at getting them to think, period.   The effort spent there, I believe, would be much more fruitful than preaching to the hopelessly nonconvertible.  That effort will facilitate an open debate where truth and logic are allowed as opposed to the fringy lib/left screed where those elements, though never really explained, are foregone conclusions.  Instapunk's final "obviousness" captures it perfectly.  

So why didn't you understand it?

I've tried reasoning with a liberal.  I've tried reasoning with a brick wall.  The latter makes more sense every time.  You are on the right track Doc, no pun intended, arguing to assuage an attitude is very different than arguing against a set of attitudes.   The open re-examination of first principles, debateable on their own merits, has been an untapped product in the marketplace of ideas for far too long.  I'm not sure Al Gore was counting on this when he invented the internets, but bless his carbon trading billionaire heart for accidently providing the forum.

"Arguing to assuage an attitude is very different than arguing against a set of attitudes." What does that even mean? Nothing. None of this post means anything. The writer can't read. He doesn't understand what he presumes to analyze. He misunderstood my essay from its first sentence. I wrote a post about this not long ago. The syndrome is called "the purely prudential use of language":

...using words not because he knows what he means by them, but because he knows how they are ordinarily used, and does with them what he has heard other people do with them before. He strings them together in suitable sequences, maneuvers them aptly enough, produces with them pretty well the effects he intends, yet meanwhile he may have not much more inkling of what he is really (or should be) doing with them than a telephone girl need have of the inner wiring of the switchboard she operates so deftly.

It's the reason why laboring the obvious no longer works. People who are assumed to understand logic and rhetoric do not. They're just faking it. Their hearts may be in the right place, but they're idiots with big vocabularies and gnat-like attention spans.

Keep up the good work.


Sorry I had to do this. But I had to.

At heart InstaPunk is a nice guy. Well, no, not really.

So often, they make it impossible not to.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Valley Girl News

Isn't she a cutie? I feel sooooo bad for her. And she has
a much better figure than NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

MORE OBVIOUS. This one's about liberal media bias. I'll repeat what I said:

Lefty bias in the media is so prevalent that all its proofs have become too boring and repetitive to make, rendering them invisible, because tiresomely the same, in the public debate. One inevitably becomes more tiresome in the making of the argument than even the obvious evidence is.

Yeah. Boring. Fact is, you could go to work every day and ask yourself, "How would the MSM handle this story if the president were Bush?" and the answer would blow the top off your head. Every day. In the same way, you could measure every utterance of the Obama administration against NRO's Jim Geraghty, who said, "Every Obama statement comes with an expiration date" and NEVER be proven wrong. Not. Ever.

Which should be QED. So what do you do? You just laugh. You try to be entertaining, as if recognition were proof. It isn't, of course. This is the ULTIMATE definition of too obvious to be provable.

But it's still possible to be entertaining. And so I will be. Here's an excerpt from the MSNBC valley girl's bio.

Brewer, in the spring of 2005, served briefly as a news reader on the "Imus in the Morning" radio show, which was syndicated nationally. Her tenure was brief; she became embroiled in a public feud with Don Imus after the New York Post published a gossip item in which she was allegedly overheard disparaging the radio personality. Imus replied, on air, with his own disparaging remarks directed at Brewer. She later appeared as the news reader on Verdict with Dan Abrams before its cancellation in 2008...

She graduated from S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She holds a bachelor of science degree in broadcast journalism.

Brewer has been criticized live on air by New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg for being "absurd," "dishonest," "fundamentally dishonest," "irresponsible," and for lacking "integrity" for her handling of interviews.

Have to admit, I never heard that a journalism degree could be a "Bachelor of Science." I guess we all have to listen, huh? Nice looking girl, though. Too bad she swallows her consonants. Makes her sound, uh, clueless.

And here's noted Canadian dimwit Donald Sutherland.

Are the programmers at MSNBC nuts? They give us refreshing afternoons with Chris and Ed, put us to bed with the clarifying sensibilities of Rachel and Keith and then, idiotically, wake us up with Mr. Small Mouth [Joe Scarborough].

Who is this idiot? Why is he there? He can't even listen. He doesn't conduct a decent conversation. He runs over everyone else's words with a landslide of diarrhea. I saw him on Friday, stomping around the stage like a posturing rooster, calling Paul Krugman a political hack. Paul Krugman's a political hack? Surely they put make-up on Mr. Small Mouth. Doesn't he look in the mirror? That's where he'd see what a political hack looks like.

For god's sake, MSNBC, get rid of him, he's beneath you.

Beneath MSNBC? Is that even possible? And slamming Joe Scarborough? Who's not even a conservative anymore but an MSNBC shill? Kewl. That's actually funny. (Something to remember. Actors are not intellects. They're throbbing emotional veins. Otherwise, they'd be writers.)

And here's Glenn Beck recounting his experience with Joe Klein at the Time 100 dinner.

But. lest we forget, liberal bias in the MSM has to remain unproven and unprovable.

P.S. Just to nail down that last sentence, be sure to read every word of this.

Anyshell Playoff Update

Da-dum, da-dum. Detroit need the bigger boat.

THE HOCKEY CONTINUE. Hello again! Are you watch the anyshell playoffs? I hope so, because we are having the most exciting time in the hockey right now. I can not believe! I still do not have TV in my apartment, but I find a bar of the sport down the road and make friends there. Except they like to watch the any-A baseketball and get anger when I speak about change a channel to the anyshell, but they let me watch on fuzzy TV in the corner next to bathroom.

First I need make l'apologie to the people in the Shark of San Jose. It look like maybe they do not chocke right now like I think. They come back to beat the Colorados and now must only win on the Detroits once more to kill them. A very good job.

The Punks ask me to make comment on the decision of the any-A Phoenix Suns to wear a jersey for their playoff that say "Los Lobos." This is to show that they have many anger about a new law in the Phoenix that makes the Mexican move to New York City, I think. Well in Canada we like to let everybody come, and it is always work fine with no problem. Mostly. So I think the anyshell should make a statement, too. Maybe not about the Mexican since Scott Gomez is only Mexican ever in history of the hockey (even to watch a game, I think). Instead I think the hockey can be use to show a light on the troubles of the discrimination that happen to us French Canadians. So I have an idea that the Washington Caps can change their jersey to say Les Miserables.

Maybe you do not hear, but the Caps have make the history by being the first #1 playoff team ever to have lead of 3 game to 1 on a #8 playoff team but still have a chocke of the throat and lose anyway. And they are lose to my Montreal Canadiens, or the Habs as they are call, even though nobody knows why about that. In the heart I am always have the love of my Quebec Nordiques, but the team is steal by the Colorado, so instead I cheer for the Habs.

My Nordiques! Sacré-cœur, I forget never!

The Phlyers also play the Bear of Boston, but they get in some trouble. I think it is because some of their player get the idea of the playoff beard backward and grow the playoff mullet instead. That brings a bad luck.

Uh-oh, I hear the knocking at the door again. If I am not deport back to Canada or put in jail, I will come back next time. Until then, please remember about calling the Dish Networks about me so I can get money for my loan and maybe bail, too.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Body Counts

The shoes of the Auschwitz dead. Harvesting confiscated property is a rational act.

PROVING THE OBVIOUS. Commenter Lake asked:

[O]ne clear truth for any student of history is, as you say, "In its whole history, religion has killed fewer people than the rationalist political philosophers of the 19th and 20th centuries. Tell you anything?"

I have made this argument dozens of times in conversations with my bumper-sticker-philosophy wielding colleagues, and some students, all intent on destroying religion in favor of wonderfully rational Science. What I would love to hear is *you* (both or either of you) let loose on it... the facts speak for themselves, but I think the fact of how turned-around the argument has become is telling of our times and the state of the modern mind.

This, sadly, is a product of our education system, both at the university and my level. This is why this is my mission. But I digress. If you want to expand on any of these, I would love for you to start there.

This one, sorry to say at the outset, can't be proven. But it can be argued very effectively. The problem is not so much the numbers, which are numerous and highly debatable in many respects, but the layer upon layer of assumptions litigators of (so-called) fact bring to the table without ever acknowledging.

The best place to start is therefore with the kind of logic that indicts religion as a pernicious influence in human affairs. Oh. Wait. Let's look at this table, called "The Twenty (or so) Worst Things People Have Done to Each Other," before we get started:

Rank Death Toll Cause Centuries
1 55 million Second World War 20C
2 40 million Mao Zedong (mostly famine) 20C
3 40 million Mongol Conquests 13C
4 36 million An Lushan Revolt 8C
5 25 million Fall of the Ming Dynasty 17C
6 20 million Taiping Rebellion 19C
7 20 million Annihilation of the American Indians 15C-19C
8 20 million Iosif Stalin 20C
9 19 million Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C
10 18 million Atlantic Slave Trade 15C-19C
11 17 million Timur Lenk 14C-15C
12 17 million British India (mostly famine) 19C
13 15 million First World War 20C
14 9 million Russian Civil War 20C
15 8 million Fall of Rome 3C-5C
16 8 million Congo Free State 19C-20C
17 7 million Thirty Years War 17C
18 5 million Russia's Time of Troubles 16C-17C
19 4 million Napoleonic Wars 19C
20 3 million Chinese Civil War 20C
21 3 million French Wars of Religion 16C

I concede right up front that all these numbers are estimates, and disputed estimates at that, depending on how any individual scholar wants the numbers to look in service to his theory of history, whatever that is. At least two of the entries that don't seem to be religious in nature clearly are: the Mideast Slave Trade was an Islamic phenomenon; and the Thirty Years War was all about the Holy Roman Empire. The French Wars of Religion speak for themselves. Still, it doesn't take a genius to add up the numbers associated with Marxist-inspired states in the east and the 'national socialism' state model of Germany and arrive at a figure of 127 million casualties of rational utopian thinking in the twentieth century. (And that's not counting WWI's 10-65 million dead {if you count the flu too}, which more than a few people lay at Nietzsche's feet). All the other totals pale in comparison.

Against this, the rationalist argument has to be more or less this: the human race has always believed in a god or gods, at least until the 19th century arrived with its liberating skepticism, and men have always waged war against one another, usually under the banners or totems of their preferred gods. Therefore, all wars, genocides, pogroms, and other acts of incivility prior to the 20th century can be ascribed to the evils of religion, and we're better off without it.

The problem is, this is demonstrably poppycock. Only a fool would claim that the Napoleonic Wars had any religious basis. Napoleon was the proto-Hitler of Europe. Ditto the Mongols and the sackers of Christian Rome. Only a deliberate manipulator of fact would claim that the supposed "Native American Genocide" was caused by religion. The overwhelming majority of Native American deaths associated with European settlement of the New World were caused by diseases Europeans carried without knowing it. What no one ever asks: Why didn't Native American diseases kill Europeans? Answer: Civilization bestows its own kind of immunity. Was the Plague that ravaged European populations in the 14th through 16th centuries a 'genocide'? No. It was the unfortunate by-product of trade among civilized nations. Anybody want to claim that's part of the religion body count? I doubt it.

The truth is that religion, and specifically Christianity more than any other religion, has been a mitigating factor against death, a net positive for humankind. It was Christianity and its empowerment of individuals that produced Isaac Newton, Leonardo da Vinci, and ultimately Louis Pasteur and Watson and Crick. Science keeps acting as if it were some kind of Goddess Athena, self-born from the head of a digital Zeus. It isn't. Science was spawned, in fact, by Christianity. Yes, the Church may have suppressed Galileo and it killed as many as 3,600 (!) people in the Inquisition, but its record is far superior to that of Islam, which may, in a moment of atypical clarity, have given the world algebra but went on to ossify its peoples in a permanent state of devout semi-consciousness. It was left to Newton to give the world calculus and the Jew Einstein quantum physics and relativity theory. Who's ahead on points here?

Which raises another issue that is absolutely and completely germane to the current surge in atheist evangelism. Am I the only one who's noticed that the anti-religious rage of Richard Dawkins and even Christopher Hitchens is focused primarily on Christianity? Which is not a parochial debating point on my part but a sign of logical weakness on theirs. They inveigh fervently against religion, as if belief in a Supreme Being of any kind is ipso facto proof of mental weakness and assorted other (moral?) turpitudes. It never seems to occur to them that religion is not the monolith depicted in "2001: A Space Odyssey." There can be good religions. And there can be bad religions. How does hating the whole concept of God further the advancement of refined philosophical thought?

It doesn't. Christianity is not, and never really has been, the bad guy. It's the light that has -- very slowly to be sure -- illuminated the sacred identity of individual human beings the world over. Islam, on the other hand, is a darkness that covers vast regions of the earth like a storm cloud promising lightning, ravishing winds, and the kinds of sandstorms that strip women, children, and families to the bone. They are both religions. What if one of them is right and one of them is wrong? Has anyone ever heard Dawkins allow that possibility? No. Because he has his own religion in mind. It's called Dawkins. Which Christianity has been in the business of warning us against for its whole history. No wonder he hates it.

Back to math. This time I'll let you all do the arithmetic. I'll give you the sites and you can work your calculators and offer up 'the truth.' I'll simply frame your research with a few observations. Population figures don't start to take off until Christianity and its support for science kicks in. If you're alive and pushing social security age today, thank Christianity, not Dawkins. His evolution story begins 50,000 years ago and lasts till 8,000 BC with an infant mortality rate approaching 50 percent. What freed us from that? Civilization, Which was catalyzed and galvanized by, uh, religion.

Remember when you look at the ancient past that the religion which may have inspired human sacrifices and tribal wars was NOT a religion of ideas but of tribal identities and Gaia-esque affiliations with nature. Which bear an eerie resemblance to what the scientistic enviro-rationalists are spouting today. Wars, murder, and massacres motivated principally by religious ideas do not even begin until the late Roman era. And the totals attributable to those incidents don't even begin to approach the casualties associated with the usual human suspects: greed, territorial ambitions, monarchical ego, and barbarian cultures devoted entirely to war and conquest.

A few final notes. What libs never want to acknowledge is that there may have been some religious wars worth fighting (which the Dawkins and Hitchens of the world would never fight today, secular pragmatists that they are). The American Civil War killed 650,000 men. Would it have been better to forego the grapeshot, amputations, and burned-out cities rather than free the slaves because they were also the children of a Christian god. Or are we simply in the business of counting up numbers? Or, given that the United States carried no cross on its flag, is the American Civil War not a religious war at all but a typical human brouhaha? And if not ALL wars are religious wars, the rationalists have a lot to explain about the twentieth century: Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot, Castro, and (lately) Hugo Chavez. Whom we love. Just because.


All the people who have ever lived on earth (Note the 50 percent infant mortality rate that prevailed for 50,000 years.)

War casualties throughout human history.

Primitive War. (You know. Before civilization. As high as 50 percent casualties.)

Death Tolls of Humanity. (Lots of good stuff here. Details. Categories. Insights. Numbers galore. And doubts. Dig, dig, dig...)

Gotta say. In the grand scheme of things, Christianity looks good. Huguenots and Carolingians, and even Merovingians, aside. Proof? Maybe not. But truth? Maybe so.

God and Dogs

No comment.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Seat belts, child seats, etc

A 1959 Triumph TR-3 with state-of-the-art child seats

FOLLOWUP TO "FEDERAL SAFETY MAGIC." Just a point of clarification in response to part of Lake's comment:

I think about this issue every day now, from both sides, as a father with young kids. My father taught me to drive *well*, and I'm big on individual responsibility. Still, I'd never drive without a seat belt anymore...

I have always been a believer in seat belts, including shoulder belts. Everyone should wear them, always, as I insisted to my stepdaughter when she was getting her driver's license. They're called "passive" safety devices, which is a misnomer. They're passive as opposed to airbags in the event of a crash, but they're an active part of being a skilled driver. Why? They hold you in the optimum seat position behind the wheel and in relation to the other controls -- the clutch, the brake, the accelerator, the gearshift -- no matter how extreme the motion forces affecting the vehicle. Yes, the lives of racecar drivers are protected by their five-point belts in crashes, but it's equally the case that no driver could win a race without them. I started buckling up religiously as soon as I began aspiring to drive well at speed.

I cited the "interlock" controversy because it demonstrates the native human resistance to being told what to do within the boundaries of one's own personal property. My best friend in those days, who was able to afford a new car when I was not, told the dealer to disengage the interlock device before he took delivery or he wouldn't take delivery, then fastened his seat belt before he ever put the car in gear, every time. He also cherished the luxury of starting the car first, allowing the engine to warm up while he selected the right cassette or radio station, positioned his cigars for easy access, and secured his coffee cup in its (then) aftermarket holder before locking himself into the driver's seat. There's always that pre-launch moment:

Some of us just like to do it with the motor running already. It's, you know, satisfying. But seat belts are indispensable.

I feel much the same way about motorcycle helmets, even though they don't help you ride better because you just can't see as well with them on. But crashing is a more likely outcome on a two-wheeled vehicle. You don't see anyone racing motorcycles of any kind -- from dirtbikes to grand prix machines -- without a helmet. Under most circumstances, I wouldn't feel comfortable without one, although there are specific times and places when a pair of sunglasses really is sufficient in my personal risk-reward calculations. I detest the argument that helmets must be required by law because your body and its potential medical expenses are everyone else's business.

Individual responsibility also means that you're responsible for your own risk-reward assessments, including the ones you make on behalf of your children. Today, my father would probably be jailed for this opinion piece he posted at IP, circa June 1960 (which has been in the archives for a long time but is no longer listed there for some reason):

The new fad of station wagons is simply bad business and a wrong example. It's also damaging to fathers. It does them no good at all to begin perceiving themselves as chauffeurs for small, ignorant persons who have no appreciation of shifting through the gears, cornering, calculating precise apexes on twisty roads, heel-toeing, and the other finer points of driving. Children learn best by watching, not by nattering, and they learn nothing when they are insulated by mere capaciousness from the experience of piloting a high-powered motor vehicle to something approaching the limit of its capability.

In short, I believe it's imperative that more modern-day fathers of young children acquire the smallest, most powerful sports cars they can afford and accustom their children to the discipline of driving as skillfully as possible. I hasten to say that it would be wrong to buy sports cars lacking in child seats -- such as Jaguars and Austin Healey Sprites -- but a good parent can always make the sacrifice of purchasing an Austin Healey 3000 or a Triumph TR-3 instead. Both of them come equipped, standard, with excellent child seats located just behind the driver and front passenger seats. Their superb designs allow just sufficient room for two children under the age of twelve to sit quite comfortably with their knees slightly apart behind the front seats, and at a slight elevation over the front seats that permits close observation of the actions involved in driving...

I know that my seven-year-old son has paid such close attention on motor trips that he already thinks he knows how to drive. When we make the weekend jaunt to the general store, he basks in his special spot in the front passenger seat and urges me to "hit the redline" in third gear, which I'm usually happy to do because the TR-3 sings like an angel in third gear. Then I shift into fourth and we sometimes hit a hundred, which we've both agreed never to share with his mother.

I wouldn't trade those moments for anything because he taught me something about what it means to fly. Which too many of you will never know in the pure form only a child can experience. I understand and respect your caution. And I also regret some part of life not lived. But that's just me and I would never impose that view on another.

In the interest of fairness, I'm also reproducing Lake's video in support of seat belts.

I understand the sentiment. Believe me, I do. Can't help it, though, if I find it a little nanny-maternal-goddess culture creepy.

But, as I said, that's just me.

P.S. Antidote:

Don't want anybody embracing my
driving arms from behind at this point.


Too Obvious to be Provable?
C'mon, Doc. A challenge.

THINKING ABOUT THINGS IS A TWO-EDGED SWORD. Okay. I was persuaded by Doctor Zero's argument that there is merit in applying advanced firepower to prove the obvious. But I ask, in all humility, how many obvious things do we have to prove and is it possible, in the end, to prove them to people who no longer reason, read, or ruminate?

So I'm posing a challenge to the Doc and to my own readers. What follows is a series of obvious truths (er, propositions). Tell me which ones you'd like to see me and/or the Doc try to prove and why. Because you think we can, because you think we can't, or because you'd just enjoy watching us twist ourselves into semantic pretzels trying. You're also encouraged to add to the list. You're allowed, as always, to comment on the idea of this post itself.

Herewith a list of Obvious Propositions:

Corporate taxes are paid by individual taxpayers.

Rich capitalists do not take their riches from others. They create them. In the history of markets, their rising tide really does lift all boats. While their ebbing tide sinks all boats.

Profiling of various kinds is about seeking the people most likely to be breaking the law or planning harm; the argument should be about what constitutes an accurate profile, not whether it should be done. Opposing ALL profiling is a kind of death wish.

Lefty bias in the media is so prevalent that all its proofs have become too boring and repetitive to make, rendering them invisible, because tiresomely the same, in the public debate. One inevitably becomes more tiresome in the making of the argument than even the obvious evidence is.

Socialism suffocates individuals. Marxism kills them. Communism annihilates them, By the tens of millions.

In its whole history, religion has killed fewer people than the rationalist political philosophers of the 19th and 20th centuries. Tell you anything?

Governments are always more inefficient and expensive than free enterprise. They succeed only when they can treat people like cannon fodder. Which they invariably do whenever they're in charge.

Governments do not care about people. Governments are made of politicians. Who care about maintaining and expanding their own wealth, power, and privilege. Period.

The greatest human injustices are always perpetrated by bureaucracies.

The founders did not see belief in God as a danger to freedom. They saw government as that. They separated government from religion so that governments could not make themselves into a religion and thereby eliminate freedom entirely.

Human language is the font of human consciousness. Political correctness is the destruction of language's ability to make fine distinctions because all distinctions offend somebody, usually the party that doesn't want to have to prove itself in equal competition. It therefore constitutes a reduction of consciousness, individuality, perception, reasoning, and good judgment.

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. So what does continuously expanding government power do?

Morality is not relative, nor can its gradations be eliminated by a process of rough equivalencies or carefully crafted metaphorical slippery slopes. There's such a thing as right and such a thing as wrong. It's possible to be more defensibly right than wrong without equating your worst errors with the unconscionable crimes of your most despicably vicious foe.

What you subsidize (give resources to), you get more of. What you starve (withhold resources from) you get less of. When you bail out failure and levy more taxes on success, what's going to happen?

The health care market is not and has not been a free market since the federal government passed Medicare and Medicaid. Costs have risen precipitously and uncontrollably since then because of government involvement more than any other factor. So MORE government involvement is obviously going to control and reduce costs in future. Right?

The utopia promised by the left is always a dystopia of some kind. One that leaves most of us with less freedom and prosperity and the smart ones who thought of it with more power over us. How do they reoncile that with their adamant egalitarianism?

Life begins at conception. That's the Occam's Razor answer they're so fond of in their constant judgments of racism, sexism, and ethnic prejudice of various kinds. Any other answer is NOT the simplest and easiest answer. What did Occam have against fetuses?

People on the left do not think. They pose, they preen, they presume, they polemicize, they piss on their putative enemies, but they do not ponder anything of import anymore. Since the last new progressive idea occurred to them a long human lifetime ago, they are, as a procreative power, suffering peripatetically from an enlarged pseudo-populist prostate gland. Their peeing is urgent, precise as a petunia watering can, and it pulverizes their peace of mind by keeping their little pee-pees problematic all night. Not to mention impotent. Like every pompous popinjay at the Puffington Post.

Preliminary, is it? Then flesh it out. (I apologize for any question marks. They're all rhetorical. Because the answers are, uh, obvious.)

By the way, everyone, it's not enough that the Doc or I have seemed to prove any of these propositions by inference or en passant in prior posts. The challenge is to prove them particularly, as obvious propositions. Just so you know.

UPDATE. Why none of this is academic:

Government is our friend, right? Wrong. Now prove it. Logically and mathematically. See the problem?

Some people can see it. Some people can't. Can Doctor Zero save the day? I doubt it. I could, of course, but I'm pretty busy with other stuff. Movies, TV, sports, bobbleheads, bunnies, and hummingbirds.

You can quit after 03:00

Too bad for you. Maybe you should have put the bunny back in the box before things got to this state.

When I was younger anyway. I always had a
thing about the bunny staying put in the box.
Back before I was
Johnny Dodge in Punk City.

Something to think about anyway.

UPDATE 2. Doctor Zero plans to respond. To the first obvious proposition. Stay tuned. This could take a while.

UPDATE 3. Now the doc has posted on the first proposition ("Corporate taxes are paid by individual taxpayers.") Fine essay, which is par for him, but he's a mite too philosophical for me on this one. I'm thinking in terms of basic arithmetic. Try this:

A company posts a profit for the year and pays taxes on that profit. They still have money left over after they pay their taxes, which is called net profit after taxes. The income out of which they paid their taxes came from sales of their products to consumers like you. Who paid their taxes? Consumers like you. Does that make sense? Or am I getting into Occam trouble again? uh, I don't think so. If corporate income taxes suddenly went away, what would happen to their prices, do you think? Someone in their market would seize the opportunity of lowering prices to increase demand and market share. Others would have to follow suit. How markets work. Who was paying their taxes before the income tax went away? Three guesses and the first two don't count.

If you can't follow my logic, let me know. I've been called a simpleton before.

NOT Puck Punk:

Flyers-Bruins Game 2

Excitement reigned after the Flyers won the "Interview" competition.

APOLOGIES TO PP. I can't pretend to be that much of a hockey fan. I watch because the missus likes it. But I admit I was genuinely impressed by the Canadiens-Penguins game and the Red Wings-Sharks game last night. Very high speed, very hard hitting, very exciting action. Very suspenseful in fact.

Which is why I agreed to watch tonight's Bruins-Flyers game. Which was educational. The first time I could ever follow the action and understand all the rules of the game. It was so slow and calm that I found it kind of entrancing, although I'm not sure either team really wants to play the Sharks or the Penguins if it comes to that. Not that the Bruins and Flyers aren't really talented. They are. Of course. But they're not quite as, uh, fast as the other teams I've seen in the playoffs. Or as hard hitting. Or as, well, fast or hard hitting. If you know what I mean.

I think there was some action at some point. The Flyers' Sasha Cohen executed a very smooth if glacial charge at Bruins goalie Nancy Kerrigan, who winced and turned away when the puck approached. But the Bruins came right back with veteran Dorothy Hamill easing downwind a few hours later to score against Flyers goalie Tonya Harding, who was promptly ejected from the game for not liking it or something. I don't think they called it a power play. But it was like that. Only much much slower.

Then things got really intense. Oksana Baul got into it with Michelle Kwan, and they were just beautiful the way they glided back and forth, almost kissing, until Peggy Fleming eventually discovered a puck in her gym bag and threatened to upset everything by wanting to go home and have some ice cream. Which is when Bruin forward Johnny Weir took complete charge of the game and penalized everybody for having the wrong mascara. At the end only Janet Lynn was left to heave the puck into an empty net she had in her purse. The exertion sent her to Mass General. But the Bruin fans were so thrilled they had to go lie down for a while.

I'm not saying I didn't enjoy it. It was a great game. Really. But I'm thinking it doesn't matter much whether the Bruins or the Flyers win this series. From what I've seen of the other teams, slow, tender, and not much at knowing what a puck is isn't going to win the Stanley Cup.

But. As I said, I'm not much of an expert at hockey. Maybe Puck Punk will return to explain it all. Still. That Sasha Cohen sure is pretty. She looks almost exactly like that Penguin fellow who won the gold medal. What's his name? Sidney Cohen? Something like that. Couple of fine looking chicks. Twins, you think? But Sidney skates faster and hits harder. Maybe because he has a penis. Unlike the Bruins and the Flyers.

Best I can do. Until Puck Punk returns.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Season of Embarrassment

OLD QUESTIONS HEATING UP. No, I'm not talking about the car bomb in Times Square or the DOJ/DOD defiance of the congressional subpoena in re the Fort Hood shootings. These may yet add to the heat in the White House kitchen, but at a time when the President is increasingly unveiling his nasty ad-hominem streak, he can ill afford humiliating embarrassments to his office and person. And it looks like three of these are simmering under the surface and may further damage his faltering messianic image.

Exhibit I. The New York Times (!) is concerned about the possibility that the oil spill in the gulf could turn into another Louisiana swamp:

A White House as politically attuned as this one should have been conscious of two obvious historical lessons. One was the Exxon Valdez, where a late and lame response by both industry and the federal government all but destroyed one of the country’s richest fishing grounds and ended up costing billions of dollars. The other was President George W. Bush’s hapless response to Hurricane Katrina.

Now we have another disaster in more or less the same neck of the woods, and it takes the administration more than a week to really get moving.

The timetable is damning. The blowout occurred on April 20. In short order, fire broke out on the rig, taking 11 lives, the rig collapsed and oil began leaking at a rate of 40,000 gallons a day. BP tried but failed to plug the well. Even so, BP appears to have remained confident that it could handle the situation with private resources (as did the administration) until Wednesday night, when, at a hastily called news conference, the Coast Guard quintupled its estimate of the leak to 5,000 barrels, or more than 200,000 gallons a day.

Only then did the administration move into high gear.

But the spill is already hitting the gulf shore, and the time lost up front -- as with Katrina -- cannot be made up in hindsight. Ed Morrissey and others have been quick to point out the contrast between Obama engaging in a battle of barbs with Jay Leno at the White House Correspondents Dinner and the Louisiana coast bracing for another ecological and economic cataclysm. Obama kidded while the Gulf died, anyone?

Exhibit 2.  Hotair is featuring this book cover right now:

It's due out this week. Based on the title alone, there's no chance it won't rocket to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. Based on the promised content, it will likely stay there for a long time. According to the authors:

The Manchurian President... reveals Obama’s associations with the Nation of Islam, Black Liberation Theology and black political extremists, with extensive new information on the subjects.

Also detailed are Obama’s deep ties to ACORN, which are much more extensive than previously documented elsewhere. The book additionally describes how a socialist-led, ACORN-affiliated union helped facilitate Obama’s political career and now exerts major influence in the White House.

The Manchurian President contains potentially explosive information not only about President Obama but also concerning other officials in the White House, including top czars and senior advisers Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod.

The book has a huge national audience of those who have been frustrated for well over two years now by the near total suppression of Obama's college records and early political associations. Enquiring minds desperately want to know.

Speaking of which...

Exhibit 3. The National Enquirer is reporting on its ongoing investigation of a rumored sexual affair between the president and a campaign aide named Vera Baker.

UPDATED: Reports out of Washington, DC:  PRESIDENT OBAMA in a shocking cheating scandal after being caught in a Washington, DC Hotel with a former campaign aide.

A confidential investigation has learned that Obama first became close to gorgeous 35 year-old VERA BAKER in 2004 when she worked tirelessly to get him elected to the US Senate, raising millions in campaign contributions

Now, the investigators are searching for a hotel surveillance videotape.

While Baker has insisted in the past that "nothing happened" between them, reports reveal that top anti-Obama operatives are offering more than $1 million to witnesses to reveal what they know about the alleged hush-hush affair.

Among those being offered money is a limo driver who says in 2004 that he took Vera to a secret hotel rendezvous in where Obama was staying.

An ENQUIRER reporter has confirmed the limo driver's account of the secret 2004 rendezvous and has also learned that on-site hotel surveillance video camera footage could provide indisputable evidence to the investigation.
The MSM will try to ignore this, obviously, and the scoffers can scoff all they want, but the fact is, the Enquirer has developed a solid and very well known track record in the sordid realm of sexual shenanigans by politicians. It was this tabloid which forced the seamiest details of the Lewinsky scandal into the public eye, and even the concerted efforts of the MSM failed to save John Edwards from the truth of his misadventures with Rielle Hunter.

Another point. Does anyone think the public won't be interested to know more about a potential sexual liaison between the One and this one?

I can already hear the cable news "democratic strategists" rehearsing their old mantra, "Everyone lies about sex, and it's nobody's business." Except that for the president, the recent 'men behaving badly' meme exemplified by Tiger Woods and Jesse James has come at a bad time. Do you think he can blow it off without suffering another major blow to his image?

We'll see. Men who presume to be gods tend to get knocked off their pedestals, usually pretty rudely.

Just saying.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Why Do People Hate the Jews?

Dirty little rats...

REAL FRIENDSHIP. I asked my closest Jewish friend to share the experience of anti-semitism. He usually blows it off. No big deal. But I said, "No. Really." He said, "Forget it." I said, "No, really." He said, "Fuck you." And I said, "Please." Here's what he gave me:

It has been said that the history of Jewish holidays can be summed up this way: "They wanted to kill us; we won. Let's eat." Why has anti-Semitism been so pervasive in so many countries, in so many time periods and for so many reasons? (One begins to wonder. Perhaps there is something wrong with the Jews and Judaism? After all, there is an old Yiddish saying -- "If one person calls you a donkey, ignore him; if two people call you a donkey, buy a saddle.")

Between the years 250 bc and 1948 AD - a period of 1,700 years - Jews have experienced more than eighty expulsions from various countries in Europe - -an average of nearly one expulsion every 21 years. Jews were expelled from England, France, Austria, Germany, Lithuania, Spain, Portugal, Bohemia, Moravia and seventy-one other countries.Historians have classified six explanations as to why people hate the Jews: Economic -- "We hate Jews because they possess too much wealth and power."

Chosen People -- "We hate Jews because they arrogantly claim that they are the chosen people."
Scapegoat -- "Jews are a convenient group to single out and blame for our troubles."
Deicide -- "We hate Jews because they killed Jesus."

Outsiders, -- "We hate Jews because they are different than us." (The dislike of the unlike.)
Racial Theory -- "We hate Jews because they are an inferior race."

As we examine the explanations, we must ask -- Are they the causes for anti-Semitism or excuses for Anti-Semitism? The difference? If one takes away the cause, then anti-Semitism should no longer exist. If one can show a contradiction to the explanation, it demonstrates that the "cause" is not a reason, it is just an excuse. Let's look at some contradictions:Economic -- The Jews of 17th- 20th century Poland and Russia were dirt poor, had no influence and yet they were hated.

Chosen People -- a) In the late 19th century, the Jews of Germany denied "Chosenness." And then they worked on assimilation. Yet, the holocaust started there. b) Christians and Moslems profess to being the "Chosen people," yet, the world and the anti-Semites tolerate them.

Scapegoat -- Any group must already be hated to be an effective scapegoat. The Scapegoat Theory does not then cause anti-Semitism. Rather, anti-Semitism is what makes the Jews a convenient scapegoat target. Hitler's ranting and ravings would not be taken seriously if he said, "It's the bicycle riders and the midgets who are destroying our society."

Deicide -- a) the Christian Bible says the Romans killed Jesus, though Jews are mentioned as accomplices (claims that Jews killed Jesus came several hundred years later). How come the accomplices are persecuted and there isn't an anti-Roman movement through history? b) Jesus himself said, "Forgive them [i.e., the Jews], for they know not what they do." The Second Vatican Council in 1963 officially exonerated the Jews as the killers of Jesus. Neither statement of Christian belief lessened anti-Semitism.

Outsiders -- With the Enlightenment in the late 18th century, many Jews rushed to assimilate. Anti-Semitism should have stopped. Instead, for example, with the Nazis came the cry, in essence: "We hate you, not because you're different, but because you're trying to become like us! We cannot allow you to infect the Aryan race with your inferior genes."

Racial Theory -- The overriding problem with this theory is that it is self-contradictory: Jews are not a race. Anyone can become a Jew -- and members of every race, creed and color in the world have done so at one time or another.

Every other hated group is hated for a relatively defined reason. We Jews, however, are hated in paradoxes: Jews are hated for being a lazy and inferior race -- but also for dominating the economy and taking over the world. We are hated for stubbornly maintaining our separateness -- and, when we do assimilate -- for posing a threat to racial purity through intermarriages. We are seen as pacifists and as warmongers; as capitalist exploiters and as revolutionary communists; possessed of a Chosen-People mentality, as well as of an inferiority complex. It seems we just can't win. Now we know what are NOT the reasons for anti-Semitism.

Now it's my turn. Jews aren't loyal to their host nations. They're smarter in class. They go to law school and medical school, and they still buy Merceds Benzes.


My problem with them. And my friend's, too, if he'd admit it. Which he does when I ask in a humble voice. He's mad, too. He doesn't think Jews should own Mercedes Benzes. He hates the German motherfuckers who build them. Like I do. Yes, he'll drive one to impress a client in a business deal, but at heart he feels like a man reciting Yeats to an Ulsterman.

But he's not comfortable with my idea, either: The Jewish-Celtic Kill the Arabs League. Dot com. I can't convince him it make sense. Irish and Scots have nearly as much tribal history as the Jews do. And we've killed nearly a hundred times as many people in our experience. In fact, there's nothing we like more than killing people, notably English, Nordic, and German people.

Sigh. Jews continue to be reasonable. Why the world keeps taking advantage of them. As a Scot, and an American, I can't begin to understand it. Whn I'm pissed off, I go for the throat, invariably, unhesitatingiy, and always effectively. Ask Brizoni.

Here's what I know. If you or your opinions cause the Jews in Israel to die, I promise I'll kill you. Even if you're a Jew. Don't forget it. Not because I'm a Jew. Because I'm a bloody fucking asshole take-no-prisoners Scot.

Now my Jewish friend can take credit for what I said. We have a deal. He makes the profit and I take my cut. Jews are smart. Scots are relentless.

Relentless. Remember that. As opposed to him. Who is, uh, final.

I'd never say a good word about him. Or he me. Tribes. The only thing we have in common other than friendship. They dance around with shawls while pretending to give us a hard time about skirts.

And if you or anyone else comes for the Jews on behalf of the Palestinians, I promise I'll kill you all to the last man, woman, and child.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Federal Safety Magic

Can you believe it? Magic is, uh, deception.

RELEVANCE. Scientists in particular are quick to tell us there's no such thing as magic, and professional magicians are fond of telling us the same thing: what appears to be magic is only an illusion accomplished by 'misdirection,' the ability of an illusionist to make you look at what the right hand is doing while the left is operating in secret. The intent, of course, is to fool your perceptions, so that you see only what the illusionist wants you to see, which makes him godlike and you a willing thrall.

But in this context, the word 'illusion' is really a stand-in for 'trick,' which is fine in show business but not so fine when it pertains to matters of life and death in the real world. That's the nature of the game being played with the new healthcare bill, and it's encouraging that so many people sense it viscerally even if they can't pin down exactly how the necessary misdirection is being implemented. The good news is that we can  pin down a parallel misdirection in another area that pertains directly to real world life and death. So, as I talk about automotive issues in the remainder of this post, think healthcare. Precisely the same mechanisms are involved.

When it comes to cars, the federal government has been in the business of 'magical' solutions for about 35 years now. It started with Carter (!), who rammed Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards through congress. Yes, the government gets to require technological advancements (and consumer compromises) by simply legislating they must occur. All in the public interest (look at my right hand) while the actual result was the (don't look at my left hand) Chevy Vega and the Ford Pinto. Both abominations with good fuel economy ratings. The Vega was an unreliable, rust-doomed lemon and the Pinto was a deathtrap.

Thank you, federal government. The main point of which is that the federal government has been interfering in the automotive industry for close to two generations while it declined and gradually, in partnership with government, put itself out of business.

There's a big break in my personal history of the public versus the government in American automotive history. I grew up as a South Jersey motorhead with a bias toward sports cars as opposed to Detroit iron, and I was therefore a devotee of a magazine called Car and Driver, which played a leading role in exposing the fraud behind the charges of unintended acceleration levelled against Audi in the early eighties and was, when I suddenly transplanted myself to Dayton, Ohio, leading the charge against airbags -- because they weren't safe. Car and Driver in those days ascribed to a philosophy that automotive safety was best achieved by skilled drivers and nimble, good handling cars. Their position on Audi's supposed unintended acceleration problem was that there is no such thing as a car which can't be stopped by its brakes. Their position on airbags was that they deployed at the exact moment when a good driver should be engaged in maximum accident avoidance maneuvers. uh, you know. Something about individual responsibility and the value of skill and knowledge over government regulation.

Of course, as a motorhead in the midwest, I wound up being a consultant for General Motors. I also learned that drivers in the midwest don't drive. They steer. When I lived in Dayton, I was shocked by two things. First, that weather reports for the Miami Valley were always accurate, unlike the mercurial experiences of the Delaware Valley that continually confound weathermen in Philadelphia. When Dayton's toupeed weathermen said it was going to rain, it rained for days. Which makes life predictable. And, second, that automobile accidents in the midwest are incredibly, overwhelmingly, one car accidents. People suddenly lose control of their vehicles on interstates because they've never learned anything about driving close to other cars and trucks in traffic. Any kind of closeness is too much for them. They don't know where their fenders and bumpers are. Because their cars aren't anything but appliances that are somehow supposed to protect them from all harm. I remember a young Dayton lady who thought she was a hotshot balls-to-the-wall driver in Ohio but suddenly stopped dead in the middle of a South Philadelphia street and pronounced herself unable to continue.

Well, I returned after a few years, as east-coasters always do, to my home country. I picked up a copy of Car and Driver and discovered that they had become devout exponents of airbags. WTF.  Now they were judging cars by how many airbags they had. In the interim, I had actually visited in my consultant role an airbag manufacturer in Salt Lake City, whose engineers made it clear to me just how delicate the technology was. It was an explosive device a few inches from the driver. Nothing to be trifled with.

Yet we have been trifling with it for decades now, all in the name of safety. Even before I went to Dayton, I'd been through the first safety misdirection of the government, which had to do with a technology called "interlock," an early attempt to save us from our own stupidity:

By the mid-1970s, auto manufacturers modified the system so that a warning buzzer would sound for several seconds before turning off (with the warning light), regardless of whether the car was started. However, if the driver was buckled up, the light would appear, but with no buzzer. New cars sold in the United States in 1974 and the first part of the 1975 model year were sold with a special "ignition interlock", whereby the driver could not start the car until the seat belt was fastened; however, this system was short-lived.

Short-lived because people figured out they could either get the system dismantled at obliging dealerships or defeat it for nothing by permanently fastening seatbelts under their butts. If you didn't mind a buckle lodged permanently under your ass, you had no problem.

Back in the old days, Car and Driver thought "interlock" was pretty funny. They were libertarian rapscallions who thought driving was the best thing in life. That's why I was so disturbed to discover that they had become so pro-airbag. A generational thing? Kids coming along who no longer understood the danger the government posed? But I don't think it's that, really. I think they're so intoxicated with advancing technology that they just, er, forget that not everyone who's out there driving is a twenty-something balls-to-the-wall type who knows the risks he is taking and wants a last-gasp defense against the worst possible road decision. They're still enthusiasts. Which is why they probably don't know this:


Short adult drivers, especially women, have been severely and fatally injured by the explosive force of a driver’s airbag… even in low to moderate speed crashes. Because of their short stature, from perhaps 4’10’’ to around 5’4”, shorter drivers need to adjust their seat virtually to its full forward position. This places their chest and head in close proximity to the steering wheel. And in the center hub of that steering wheel is the stored airbag, ready to explosively inflate in a frontal impact. The explosive inflation can move the unfolding airbag toward you at 120 to 200 miles per hour, and generate a force of 2,000 pounds.

Some of the initial accident case examples concerned shorter women drivers, sitting very close to the steering wheel, who were fatally injured when the explosive force of the airbag fractured their ribs, which punctured and tore their aorta. The crashes were moderate in nature, and the airbag was the needless cause of death in what would have easily been a survivable collision. Some of the women were shorter, older, and more frail… making them more susceptible to the airbag inflation forces breaking their ribs, tearing their aorta, and causing fatal injuries.


How could such a prominent safety technology as airbags been compromised, leading to needless deaths and injuries ? Airbags are not a new development, despite the general public perception that airbags are a technology of the ‘90’s. In fact, the development of airbags goes back to the ‘50’s and ‘60’s, when the earliest dynamic: sled tests and car crash tests by GM and Ford showed their great promise to reduce traumatic injuries in collision accidents. There was anticipation in the early-‘70’s that airbags would soon be installed. NHTSA had initiated rule-making, and the car companies in the U.S., Europe, and Japan were all developing airbag systems for their vehicles. But top officials from Ford and GM and Chrysler went to the White House in 1971, and urged President Nixon to delay the then-pending auto safety standards, including the requirement for airbags. The game plan was to delay, delay, delay. A delay that lasted almost 20 years.

Thus, the pending 1970’s requirement for airbags was politically shelved, and languished in limbo into the mid-1980’s. There was nothing preventing car companies from installing airbags on their own. After a Supreme Court decision in 1983 forced NHTSA to re-examine their latest cancellation, the rulemaking process began again. NHTSA and DOT responded with a 1984 plan to link mandatory buckle-up laws to a decision about requiring airbags.

But without waiting for a NHTSA mandate, Mercedes introduced airbags in some models in 1984, and Ford offered a driver airbag option in the 1985 Tempo. Then in 1988, Chrysler began to promote airbags as a standard feature in most of their cars. This was a stunning turn-around by Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca, who had railed against airbags for years… including his criticisms made in 1971 in the Oval Office to President Richard Nixon, who was thus encouraged to cancel an impending airbags regulation to be phased in during the mid-1970’s.

No, I'm not saying the government wants to kill small, short, old women. I'm saying they are killing small, short, old women. In the name of SAFETY. And in the name of increased control of our private decisions. Why have all parents become chauffeurs of their own children, who sit in the back of the car like the "Little Emperors" of China? Because airbags kill people, especially children, who now have to be trussed up like little sacks of potatoes whenever we transport them somewhere. Freedom. Get them used to being trussed up at the earliest possible age because trussed up is their inevitable fate in the new normal.

So, I have to admit, I gave Car and Driver the benefit of another look on the matter of Toyota's unintended acceleration problem. By golly, here's what I found:

Our tests were conducted at highway speeds, as the incident with the Lexus ES350 happened on an expressway, and in the lowest possible gear, as that's the worst-case scenario. Here is how to deal with a runaway car:

Hit the Brakes

Certainly the most natural reaction to a stuck-throttle emergency is to stomp on the brake pedal, possibly with both feet. And despite dramatic horsepower increases since C/D’s 1987 unintended-acceleration test of an Audi 5000, brakes by and large can still overpower and rein in an engine roaring under full throttle. With the Camry’s throttle pinned while going 70 mph, the brakes easily overcame all 268 horsepower straining against them and stopped the car in 190 feet—that’s a foot shorter than the performance of a Ford Taurus without any gas-pedal problems and just 16 feet longer than with the Camry’s throttle closed. From 100 mph, the stopping-distance differential was 88 feet—noticeable to be sure, but the car still slowed enthusiastically enough to impart a feeling of confidence. We also tried one go-for-broke run at 120 mph, and, even then, the car quickly decelerated to about 10 mph before the brakes got excessively hot and the car refused to decelerate any further. So even in the most extreme case, it should be possible to get a car’s speed down to a point where a resulting accident should be a low-speed and relatively minor event.

The old defiance and technological arrogance are gone, but the conclusion is still the same. Brakes stop cars. Hmmm.

Yet here's what the NHTSA has just released:

All new cars would have to be equipped with "black boxes" that record performance data and federal safety regulators would be granted the authority to order immediate recalls under newly proposed auto-safety legislation being considered by Congress.

The draft of a bill was released Thursday by one of the House committees investigating Toyota's massive recalls for unintended acceleration in its vehicles. Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House commerce committee, and Sen. John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chair of the Senate commerce committee, have said they intend to collaborate on automobile safety legislation this year.

The draft contains a wide array of provisions. Some require new safety features, such as the black boxes -- called event data recorders -- and brake override systems that allow a driver to stop a car even when the throttle is stuck open.

Other elements of the bill give the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration more power to crack down on automakers that break the rules.

"Our initial thoughts on this are that Congress have given us a legislative vehicle that has come fully loaded with all the options," said Gloria Bergquist, a vice president at Auto Alliance, the industry trade association. "We are going to look at each one of these and ask: Where are we going to get the safety enhancements?"

Love the black boxes concept. Our cars can report on us continuously to keep us safe, so that the feds can intervene when we screw up by trying to drive ourselves.

MEANWHILE. Gosh, the government loves us, don't they? Except that cap-and-trade and new CAFE regulations are designed to force us into smaller and smaller cars with higher and higher fuel mileage because they love "the planet" a little bit more than they do us.

Which means, in the end, that they're asking us to make ourselves more vulnerable to other traffic on the road. If you look at this Brit road test of the diminutive, highly efficient "Smart Car," you won't get the bottom line until the final 20 seconds of the video. Go ahead. Watch it. It takes 5 full minutes of reassurance to get to the very un-reassuring bottom line that the car might survive but the passengers won't.

Worse, collisions on the highway tend not to be with concrete walls that are no higher than the hood of the offending car. They tend to be with taller obstacles like tractor trailers and buses. Which cause things like, uh, decapitations. Especially when great big vehicles are contending for the same space on the road as very small vehicles, which tend to be invisible to drivers of llimos, trucks, and SUVs. (Don't tell me you've never bluffed or muscled or IGNORED a smaller car out of the way in your minivan. You do it without even thinking. The way you do motorcycles. And I've been there, Charlie.)

Pretty much, they don't give crap about the common man. It's a good bet that government officials will still be able to buy the fantastically athletic BMWs. Audis, Mercedes, and Cadillacs that will survive the death of capitalism, free choice, and prosperity because they can avoid accidents rather than survive them. Cadillacs are likely to be the first to go. As the government strives to keep them in business as a source of employment, GM luxocars are likely to begin resembling the automotive products of that other great government controlled economy, China. Which means they'll look like and act like this (because we can't diss the need for full employment...)

Which, I guess, is why I can still give houseroom to this kind of protest. (aside from the fact that I know the man in the box pictured.) He doesn't, can't, remember when driving was fun and a manifestation of American freedom like no other. I have to feel for his naive feeling that it might be something like freedom. It was.

Lotus 7. An open-wheeled, 1200 pound sports car anyone could buy.

And here's a hint from the days when you were still allowed to love cars because you could pilot them as if you were directing your own life.

But nobody's directing his own automotive life anymore. You're just a rolling suspect. Are you protecting your kids from the airbags we force you to buy? Is your carbon footprint bigger than what Al Gore or Harrison Ford would approve of?  So you actually love screaming down the back roads under your own control?

Then what do you expect us to do with you when you are no longer contributing to our vision of society? You carbon pig you.

They SAY they care about us with the right hand. With the left hand, they do everything they can to put us in a drab, uniform tissue box. I just wish the "man in the box" had had some experience of the joy they're taking away before he ever got to feel it. I guess that's what martyrs are really made of. Not the ones who know what they've lost but the ones who know it only secondhand. God bless you, Peter.

Now think about your healthcare. With the government at the wheel. Are they going to save you from all pain and suffering? Sure. It's called magic.

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