Wednesday, March 22, 2017

We Gotta Cut Government....But We Can't Cut THAT!

Our local news featured a story yesterday that warned that the proposed "America First" budget of Trump would lead to the end of three Amtrak runs through Indiana, including two lines that go through the nearby station of Waterloo, Indiana.

My first thought was that if those lines close up it would suck for the Amish both here and in Northern Indiana (LaGrange/Shipshewana) as they use Amtrak from that station to provide cheap long-distance transport to places like Missouri and Pennsylvania.

My second thought that was thinking like that is exactly what got us $20,000,000,000,000 in debt in the first place. Pretty much every spending line in the Federal budget has a constituency. If you cut spending anywhere, it will impact somebody.

The "any cut to spending = the apocalypse" mindset is sort of like what we used to call NIMBY, which stood for Not In My Back Yard. In other words, we like power plants and factories, we just don't want them built near us because they are dirty and unsightly and often not very healthy. Now the equivalent is "We need to cut spending but only spending that doesn't impact me" and that doesn't work any better than NIMBY did.

If we don't get out of this mindset, we are doomed to insolvency. In fact even if we do get out of this mindset, it might already be too late. With 2/3 of the Federal "budget" taken up by non-discretionary spending, the path to righting this ship is going to mean a lot of shared sacrifice. There was once a time when that idea didn't frighten/anger Americans but those days are mostly over. We have moved from "The Greatest Generation" to "Ask not what your country can do for you.." to "Me first" to "I should have everything I desire and someone else should pay for it".

The American experiment has failed and the collapse is inevitable and coming soon.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Me On The Internet

Pardon the one obscenity but the rest is awfully funny but also very true.

Vandalism Is Now A Daring Act. What Media Bias?

A group of loony left vandals caused a bunch of damage at a Trump golf course, all in the name of justice or something. The Washington Post describes them as "environmental activists" in the story, Video shows environmental activists defacing popular Trump golf course.
A group of environmental activists pulled off an elaborate act of vandalism at one of President Trump’s premier golf courses early Sunday morning.
The group — which labels itself an “anonymous environmental activist collective” — snuck into Trump National Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., and carved a message into the green with six-foot-tall letters that said: “NO MORE TIGERS. NO MORE WOODS.”
Weird, I would think criminals or vandals would be a more appropriate description of these people. I wonder what the WaPo would have said if Hillary had won and "activists" defaced her property? I am guessing that the word "activist" wouldn't be used. Setting aside for a moment the inane message, which I guess was supposed to be clever but I am pretty sure that there were never any tigers there to begin with, and the irony of tearing up the environment to protest damage to the environment. I wanted to make another point. Here is a screen shot of the WaPo (Democracy Dies In Darkness!) story. Notice the bottom line underlined in red (click the pic to enlarge):

Huh. What exactly was changed to "more accurately reflect the nature of the actions"? Well according to the comments from last night and this tweet, the WaPo story originally described criminal trespass and vandalism in a less nuanced way.

A daring act of defiance? How noble to sneak onto a golf course and deface private property! How noble of the WaPo to change it to "more accurately reflect the nature of the actions" but the real sentiment is expressed in the original description. I am trying to track down a screenshot of the pre-"more accurate" headline. To the WaPo and other mass media organs, the pretense of journalism has been thrown out the window a long time ago and now they are simply mouthpieces for the American far left. At least now they are open and honest about it.

According to these environmental activists cowardly criminals and vandals, what they did was "justified" because golf courses are a crime or something:
The group consisted of four people, who accessed the course by scaling a fence and “walking down a steep hill laced with cacti,” the group member told The Post. “Tearing up the golf course felt justified in many ways,” the member said. “Repurposing what was once a beautiful stretch of land into a playground for the privileged is an environmental crime in its own right.”
Ah yes. Remember "environmental activists" wrecking golf courses when their beloved Comrade Obama played 333 rounds of golf on golf courses that had "repurposed" "what was once a beautiful stretch of land into a playground for the privileged"? You don't? Come to think of it, I don't either. I guess when the "privileged" person on the playground is Barack Obama, it is OK. 

This incident is the latest act of criminal behavior that leftists feel is justified because they don't like the outcome of an election. It is only a matter of time before someone gets killed by these lunatics and we are already on the edge of serious violence in this country, all being perpetrated for now on one side but you can be sure that at some point the violent behavior will be reciprocated and then who knows what will happen. When it does happen, and I think it will sooner rather than later, "media" outlets like the Washington Post and others will bear some measure of responsibility for their inflammatory rhetoric that excuses, if not outright justifies, criminal behavior in the place of civilized discourse.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

That Terrible Corporation Did Something Because It Is PROFITABLE?! Off With Their Heads!

I should know better but still it keeps happening. I posted a comment on a story about Wendy's introducing automated kiosks for customers to place their orders, an obvious replacement for the entry level order takers we are used to at fast food joints. It seems like an overdue move, I am quite confident that I can punch in my order more efficiently using a touch screen than I can explain to a clerk what I am looking for. Obviously there will still need to be entry level unskilled workers to prepare the food, clean up and hand out the meals but it should shift the labor around a bit and reduce the number of people needed to efficiently handle the task of fast food restaurants. Needless to say I got some replies including one which warranted further response. Here it is, the name is blacked out to protect the innocence of the author of this incoherent, disjointed grammatical trainwreck.

My reply back to this gentleman and scholar was, essentially, duh, almost all of what corporations do they do for profit. That is kind of the point but we live in an era where corporations, created to maximize shareholder value via profit, are considered to be doing something wrong if they do something to increase profits and the very concept of profit itself is seen as something dirty. So here is a little economics pro-tip for ya.

If you get groceries at the store, live in a house or apartment, wear clothes, drive a car, own a TV, access the internet, use a cell phone, or really anything else you can thank profit. People don't build houses for the fun of it, other than some kooks who like that sort of thing and Habitat for Humanity. Grocery stores are not non-profit organizations, they buy food in bulk and sell it to you at a profit. That is how they exist and pay for the building itself and grocery clerks and check out lanes and refrigeration. Apple doesn't make iPhones as a public service, they profit from making iPhones and they profit handsomely.

The profits companies make pay the salaries of almost everyone. Oh yeah, well I work the government or a non-profit, my salary is untainted by the filthy lucre of profit! Where do you think non-profits get their money? What about the government? Profit is one of the engines that drives our entire economy. If you have a 401k, the gains you get are most likely attributable to profits. If you have a job, that is because of profit as well. Offering a product or service for more than what it costs to create that product or service is how virtually our entire private sector functions.

But some companies have too much profit! How exactly does one define that? A company you have no connection to might be "too profitable" but one you work for that provides you profit sharing or that you invest in really can't be too profitable, right?

Profit is not evil. Being "not-for-profit" is not morally superior to being "for-profit". Profit is simply getting more for economic output than you put into it. It is adding value. It is what drives our economy and what makes our economic system and created our enviable standard of living. It is the difference between a subsistence existence and one with luxury and comfort.

Just remember before you complain about profits. If you are reading this post, you are only doing so thanks to profits.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

NPR's Pet "Conservative" Doesn't Understand Supply And Demand

David Brooks is what NPR and establishment media types on the coasts think a conservative should be, namely someone who doesn't actually hold to any conservative values and exists mostly to be a polite but mild skeptic of what his liberal betters are saying. When you look at people like David Brooks and George Will, coastal cocktail party "conservatives" and then compare them to people like Steve Bannon, it is pretty clear that if anyone to the right of George H.W. Bush was listening to them, they aren't anymore. The rank and file of conservatives are sick to death of being hectored and scolded by white wine sipping elites telling them what to think and how to vote. That was on full display with the interview at CPAC with Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon. Priebus represented the old guard, genteel Republican establishment and Bannon the populist, nationalist viewpoint that elected Trump, a viewpoint that I think is way stronger than anyone imagines and is probably quietly getting stronger all the time. The media might be fixated on little protests of professional perpetually aggrieved deviants and social justice warriors but the rest of America is probably a lot more OK with what Trump is doing than the media thinks. After all, if you based the election strictly on what the experts were saying on election day, Hillary Clinton would be President and First Dude Bill would be in charge of White House intern vetting. But just as the insufferable smirk slowly disappeared into shock and then anger on the face of Rachel Maddow, I am pretty certain that the real political climate is much different than what media thinks or tries to convince us of.

Anyway, Brooks posted an essay at the New York Times (All the leftist slanted news that's fit to print!) in which he repeated the pro-unlimited immigration and turn-a-blind-eye-to-illegals nonsense that we hear all the time, that we just gotta have lots of immigrants, legal or otherwise, because no one else will do the hard work. His essay is titled The National Death Wish and it is about the dumbest thing you will ever read.

A few weeks ago, Tom Cotton and David Perdue, Republican senators from Arkansas and Georgia, introduced an immigration bill that would cut the number of legal immigrants to this country each year in half, from about a million to about 500,000. 

In a press conference, Cotton offered a rationale for his bill. “There’s no denying this generation-long surge in low-skilled immigration has hurt blue-collar wages,” he said. If we can reduce the number of low-skill immigrants coming into the country, that will reduce the pool of labor, put upward pressure on wages and bring more Americans back into the labor force. 

It seems like a plausible argument. That is, until you actually get out in the real world.

Irony alert! Has David Brooks ever been "out in the real world"? Or perhaps he thinks that his vantage point living in the cosmopolitan cities of America gives him a crucial insight into the "real world". You see, in the real world it is insane to bring in 1,000,000 immigrants every year to fill jobs when we already have millions of Americans who choose not to work, tens of millions on government assistance and millions more doing service economy jobs that are disappearing as places like J.C. Penney slowly collapse and close stores. He argues that America is like a river, not a lake, and that we just need to "go with the flow". The problem is, continuing his metaphor, that our waterways are already full of fish. He continues:

Nationwide, there are now about 200,000 unfilled construction jobs, according to the National Association of Home Builders. If America were as simple as a lake, builders would just raise wages, incomes would rise and the problem would be over.

But that hasn’t happened. Builders have gone recruiting in high schools and elsewhere, looking for people willing to learn building skills, but they’re not having much luck.

Construction is hard, many families demean physical labor and construction is highly cyclical. Hundreds of thousands of people lost construction jobs during the financial crisis and don’t want to come back. They want steadier work even at a lower salary.

Employers have apparently decided raising wages won’t work. Adjusting for inflation, wages are roughly where they were, at about $27 an hour on average in a place like Colorado. Instead, employers have had to cut back on output. One builder told Reuters that he could take on 10 percent more projects per year if he could find the crews.

What exactly are the "steadier" jobs he is talking about? Meaningless retail jobs or jobs pushing paper around a desk? For someone without technical skills of some sort and without the obligatory 4 year degree, the job market is absolutely brutal for most workers so a lot of them are just not working at all. But, but construction is hard! Heaven forbid we do work that is hard! Construction absolutely is cyclical but if you think it is impossible to make a living doing construction, let me drive you around the area where we live and you can see the brand new brick homes and $20,000 horses that the Amish own, paid for by cyclical, seasonal construction jobs. 

But people don't wanna do hard jobs, they are demeaning! Who is to blame for that mindset? Maybe people like David Brooks and his buddies at the Times who have been denigrating blue collar work and insisting that anyone who doesn't go to college is pond scum. Instead of calling Betsy DeVos a Nazi, maybe we should really start to reevaluate the "education" system and ask whether the output is what we really need, especially given the obscene amounts of money we spend on public schools and universities. I am willing to bet that if people were given the choice between working at a "hard" job and having no money, they would choose the "hard" job 99 times out of 100. But if you give a lot of people the choice between a "hard" job and "free" money via welfare, guess which one they will choose?

Brooks then takes a quick excursion to the land where everyone gets a unicorn and rivers flow with chocolate.

A comprehensive study of non-European Union immigrants into Denmark between 1991 and 2008 found that immigrants did not push down wages, but rather freed natives to do more pleasant work. 
The way to help working families is not to cut immigration. It’s to help everybody flow to the job he or she wants to take.

Again, what is this "more pleasant work"? Being a clerk at Wal-Mart? What sort of fantasy world does he live in where all of these awesome, pleasant jobs are just sitting around waiting for someone to choose them? Praytell David, where does one go to apply for these pleasant, business cycle proof jobs? I also am a little confused about "flowing to the job" I want to take. I seem to recall that I had to take jobs that were available, to work hard and gain experience, and then to actively seek out positions to get jobs I want. Brooks makes it sound like you can just float along and the flow will take you right to the job you "want to take". How about the jobs you take because you need to or even have to? We can't all write flowery prose from New York about the realities of the "real world", the vast majority of us who actually live in the real world have to work for a living, and no David, passively allowing E.J. Dionne to rant his leftist propaganda for five minutes on a Friday isn't really work.

Finally we come to his closing argument and this is even more infuriating than the rest of the essay because it exposes something rather ugly in his mindset and the mindset of a lot of our "elites". Brooks pondered:

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why so many Republicans prefer a dying white America to a place like, say, Houston.

Paging Bill "Let's Replace Whites With Mexicans" Kristol. I am sure David Brooks really doesn't understand but then again he lives in New York. I am also sure he has no idea and probably doesn't care in the slightest that to people like me that sounds an awful like a complete dismissal of my family and my culture. Brooks is a Jew, although apparently not an observant one. I wonder what he would say to a statement that suggested that replacing the Jews in Israel with a multicultural cornucopia was preferable to clinging to a "dying Jewish Israel"? When you use language that appears to commoditize and summarily dismiss as irredeemable an entire race of people, especially when the people in question are in the majority of this nation and are, if we can be completely honest and painfully politically incorrect, the same race of people who built this nation and made it a country that people from around the world want to come to, it suggests a complete lack of empathy and the sort of thinking that led to David Brooks being so grumpy on PBS the evening of the election.

We are not just widgets. an interchangeable set of economic units that can be swapped out for some other units to keep the coffers of global corporations full. Not White people and not anyone for that matter. If Brooks thinks we can engage in a wholesale replacement of the historically dominant race and culture of America and end up with something that is equivalent, he is sorely mistaken.

David Brooks only sees two possible futures. Either a dying White America or a multicultural utopia. There are no other paths. Demographic destiny is fixed and our economic future demands the sacrifice of "white America". The death of White America is inevitable and if you read between the lines it is not all that lamentable. I reject that. We have spent decades and trillions of dollars trying to right past racial injustices, many real but many not and as the years pass the balance of real versus perceived injustices is shifting quickly. Now the people who founded this nation, created a Republic that is the envy of the world, tamed the vast North American wilderness, defeated both Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, invented so much of what we take for granted in modern life, who feed the world, those people are in some distress and David Brooks and Bill Kristol and others (like Jennifer Rubin who thinks we should essentially force Whites to move from the Midwest and into the idyllic urban centers, like Chicago and Baltimore and New Orleans, to be re-educated on how "diversity" is our real strength), seem to think that they should be cast aside in favor of "new" Americans who get to inherit what the prior Americans built.

I am sure the garbage being sold by Brooks, Kristol and Rubin get approving nods from people in Boston and New York and L.A.. For the Americans who dwell in the distasteful Midwest and West, for Americans who live outside of the big cities in the South and the West, it feels a lot like ingratitude and suspiciously like being spit on. Maybe instead of dismissing us to the dustbin of history, we can find ways to remove barriers for White people to learn skills, start businesses and farms and raise families? I fear that Hillbilly Elegy, which was a great book and a sober warning, is misinterpreted by a lot of elites who read it like they read the 50 Shades books. Hillbilly Elegy seems like a book that could be the equivalent of poverty porn for cosmopolitan elites, a book that reinforces the stereotypes that they hold about the "deplorables" in fly-over country who "cling to the guns and religion" in-between smacking around their girlfriends and cooking meth.

That brings me to the alt-right, a shadowy group lots of people love to reference and very few people know anything about. If I hear one more liberal ignoramus telling me how much they know about the alt-right and explaining that Breitbart is the main media source for them or that Milo is the epitome of the alt-right, I am going to puke. A lot of more mainstream conservatives are terrified of the alt-right. Rod Dreher at the American Conservative recently suggested (based on an anonymous email allegedly from a high school student) that the alt-right is infiltrating Christian schools. The Executive Director of the American Conservative Union which puts on the recent CPAC conference took the time to denounce the alt-right at CPAC and alt-right poster boy Richard Spencer was stripped of his CPAC credentials, which ironically enough gave him yet another opportunity to be interviewed by the media and gain exposure. Hillary Clinton invoked the alt-right bogeyman and my buddy David Brooks suggested that they were controlling Trump behind the scenes back in August.

Do you want to know why the alt-right is gaining so much traction and why people like Richard Spencer get so much press? It is not because deep down so many Whites are racists, which is what the media and the political Left and apparently a lot of "conservatives" would like you believe. It is not even that most or many Whites agree in substance with the alt-right on very much. The reason is that virtually no one on the political right except the alt-right is willing to talk about issues of race without constant apologizing, stammering and virtue signaling. You might not like what they are saying and in fact you may hate it with a passion but when "conservatism" is mostly stammering and staring at your polished wingtip shoes, the reality is that most conservatives have ceded the entire discussion of race from the Right to the alt-right. Many regular White Americans on the right, and even many who are fairly apolitical, and who don't get invited to cocktail parties in Manhattan are sick of being told "Well Whites have had a good run but your time is over. Just go back to your meth lab in the trailer park and wait to die, the sooner the better so we can replace you with a foreigner who is willing to work hard.". They are sick of being blamed for every ill and they are especially sick of being told they enjoy "White privilege" when they are working two jobs and still struggling to make the mortgage payment. When they look for some sort of perspective from the mainline GOP, they find that the average establishment Republican is far more concerned about being thought insufficiently dedicated to diversity than they are about Islamic terrorism, abortion or a $20 trillion national debt.

The Democratic National Committee just elected their new chairman, Tom Perez, the Hispanic former Secretary of Labor who defeated Muslim congressman Keith Ellison but then appointed Ellison as his deputy. Ellison was formerly associated with the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam and wrote in law school in favor of a separate black state, to be formed from southern states. As an aside, a racially based separate state is one of the key goals of the alt-right and that is something with some real support in the black community. Ironic, no? With the selection of a Latino chairman and a black Muslim deputy chair, the Democrats made clear that they are still sold on running based on identity politics. Cosmopolitan Republicans like Bill Kristol and "conservatives" like David Brooks advocate the wholesale jettisoning of Whites or their semi-forced relocation. To paraphrase the saying, any port in a storm, when no one else seems to care about your interests, you go with the one that does no matter how much you dislike them.

That wasn't really where I meant to go with this post and the whole thing is pretty angry but then again so am I. I have a lot more to say on this subject but I probably stepped on enough toes, violated enough shibboleths and earned enough disapproving harrumphs for one day.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

How The Media Manipulates The "News"

I pretty much always regret turning on NPR, even for a few moments, and this morning was no different. I popped into the middle of an interview where Matt Schlapp of the American Conservative Union was being interviewed by NPR's Rachel Martin.

You can read the transcript of the interview here or listen to it. I copied the critical session of this overtly hostile interview.

MARTIN: Steve Bannon is speaking at CPAC today. He's the president's top adviser who ran Breitbart News, which he proclaimed to be a platform for the so-called alt-right. Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence went to a Jewish cemetery in Missouri this week to signal his support after that cemetery was vandalized. And then pens went on to say there's no place in America for hatred or acts of prejudice or violence or anti-Semitism. Is this the party of Mike Pence or Steve Bannon? 

SCHLAPP: It's the party of both. And I know Steve Bannon well. And I think Steve Bannon and Mike Pence, you couldn't find a difference in how they approach these topics. The fact is, is that oftentimes...

Did you catch what she did there?

Notice the manipulation of the conversation. Steve Bannon worked for Breitbart. He one time made an off-hand comment about Breitbart being a "platform for the alt-right" and in spite of the absolute lack of alt-right material or alt-right writers at Breitbart, the media will not let it go. Whatever else you say about Breitbart, it is not an "alt-right" platform. The alt-right has plenty of platforms already. The writers for Breitbart are not alt-right, people who are alt-right are usually pretty open about it. But Martin's question is worded in such a way to make people create the following association: Steve Bannon = Breitbart, Breitbart = Alt-Right, Steve Bannon works for Trump so therefore Trump = Alt-Right. That is patent nonsense but the manipulation is still there.

Then the connection is made somehow between a Jewish cemetery being vandalized and the alt-right even though no such connection exists. According to the Washington Post (emphasis mine):

Police are investigating the incident. Detective Lt. Fredrick Lemons II told the St. Louis Post Dispatch, “There’s nothing to indicate it was any type of hate crime.

Let me repeat that. According to the police there is nothing to indicate that it was any type of hate crime, at least as of now. That doesn't stop NPR's Martin from suggesting that it was. If you think she wasn't, why the comparison between Mike Pence speaking out against anti-Semitism versus Steve Bannon allegedly being a mouthpiece for the alt-right? You can't miss this. She is essentially saying that Steve Bannon is different from Mike Pence because Mike Pence spoke out against anti-Semitism which implies that Steve Bannon is OK with it. She is trying to force Schlapp to either reject Pence or to implicate Bannon as an anti-Semite. If you read further in the interview, Schlapp wasn't having it but he also ended up being cut off by Martin in mid-thought.

As an aside, if you are looking for "anti-Semitic" comments you are better served looking at college campuses or Muslims than at the CPAC conference where most speakers are completely solid on supporting Israel.

My broader point is this. This is not a random set of questions, this question was obviously intended by Martin before the interview started. Rachel Martin clearly was planning on trying to creating the linkage between Bannon and anti-Semitism even though it just as clearly is not there. The point of this interview, in my opinion, was not to hear from Matt Schlapp but to reinforce in the minds of NPR listeners what they already have had pounded into their heads, that Trump has ushered in a new era of hate crimes (most of which have been shown to be hoaxes, at least the well publicized ones). NPR and it's listeners are not interested in the substance of the CPAC talks, they just want someone to tell them what they want to hear, that Trump is a racist, that Bannon is secretly in charge of the White House and that he is an agent of the alt-right, a loose knit movement that I am confident Rachel Martin and NPR's audience knows next to nothing about.

Pay attention people. The "news" is being used to manipulate you in an effort to secure a Trump loss in 2020. It isn't subtle or covert anymore. It is right there if you bother to pay attention. If you don't want to be manipulated by people who don't share your interests, you had better start thinking for yourself.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What Did You Expect?

President Trump is constantly squabbling with the media and various nobodies over just about anything, any perceived slight, any hint of resistance to his agenda. His family members are under attack for ridiculous reasons and people who never shopped at Nordstrom in the first place are threatening a boycott. Trump's National Security advisor resigned after all of a month because he lied about discussing a lifting of sanctions with a Russian official. There is violence in the streets over anyone who dares even express a slight agreement with Trump, almost exclusively from the political Left. It seems pretty obvious that the White House is in a constant state of chaos and that chaos has spread all over the place. Never in my memory has a President or any other public figure sucked all of the air out the room like Trump. It seems like every news story is about Trump or has some connection to him.

Well. What did you expect?

Remember if you will that at one time the Republicans had something like a dozen serious candidates for President, some very solid contenders. Thanks to decades of broken promises and business as usual policies that grew the government and crushed the middle and working class, people revolted and nominated a populist, nationalist egomaniacal reality TV star and businessman. On the other side the Left offered up the most corrupt person imaginable, literally a terrible person who really epitomizes all that is wrong with politics in America coupled with a screechy voice and a general aura of being someone you instinctively dislike. Is it any wonder that we are where we are?

Trump is not a random event, he is the culmination of decades of mismanagement on one hand and the dumbing down and coarsening of our culture on the other hand. He is, in short, precisely the sort of President we deserve and in many ways is precisely the sort of President we need. Not because he Tweets random stuff at 3 AM but because he is such a cataclysmic shock to a staid system where Republicans talked about cutting the size of government, defending the rights of the unborn and protecting the American people and ended up doing none of those things while no doubt laughing behind closed doors with their faux enemy Democrats who kept power by lying to working class Whites, minorities and women.

We went into the election with two of the worst possible people in the country to lead us and ended up with Trump, who might do some good stuff like his court nominations and his enforcement of border integrity and immigration laws, but most of that will be overshadowed by a typhoon of goofiness and some genuinely bad decisions. I like a lot of what Trump is doing and I love how insanely upset liberals are about it and the way their true (violent and intolerant) colors are showing but I am still frustrated by his lack of focus and his pettiness but that comes with the package.

It isn't news to point out that Trump is the source of chaos in what promises to be the craziest Administration in history. It's what we should have expected and it is precisely what we are getting. So you might want to pace yourself and ration your outrage because it is going to be a wild and very, very long four years.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A Quick Note On The On-Going "But Hillary Won The Popular Vote!" Nonsense

I still occasionally see people referring to the fact that Donald Trump did not win the meaningless "popular vote" as if that somehow de-legitimizes his Presidency. As I have said before this is nonsense and as I am sure it will come up when Neil Gorsuch is being questioned as part of his confirmation process by political stooges like Chuck "Crocodile Tears" Schumer. I wanted to make a quick point about the bigger picture of the American electorate and their preferences as expressed in the votes they cast.

In the 2016 Presidential election, there were basically six candidates who received significant support (more than 200,000 votes). Obviously two were Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton but there were four others, most notably Libertarian Gary Johnson, as well as Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Constitution Party candidate Darrell Castle and independent Evan McMullin. Since we live in a binary political system you can divide the candidates into Left-leaning and Right-leaning. Clinton and Stein fall into the Left-leaning category, with Stein far more Left than Clinton. Trump, Johnson, McMullin and Castle would fall into the Right-leaning category, with all three minor candidates far to the Right of Trump. It may not be as obvious if you don't know much about Libertarianism beyond Gary Johnson and his awful running mate Bill Weld but the Libertarian Party platform is far to the right of the GOP platform. For example, on health care the LP favors a completely privatized system:

2.10 Health Care 

We favor a free-market health care system. We recognize the freedom of individuals to determine the level of health insurance they want (if any), the level of health care they want, the care providers they want, the medicines and treatments they will use and all other aspects of their medical care, including end-of-life decisions. People should be free to purchase health insurance across state lines.

That is way beyond what even Trump and most GOP leaders would propose.

So if you take the total votes for all six candidates who drew over 200,000 votes and break them out into "Right" and "Left" this is what you get:


Hillary Clinton  65,853,625

Jill "Recount" Stein  1,457,222

Total: 67,310,847


Donald Trump  62,985,105

Gary Johnson  4,489,233

Darrel Castle  203,039

Evan McMullin  728,860

Total: 68,406,237

If you look at it this way, more people voted for a Right-leaning candidate than voted for a Left-leaning candidate. Setting aside the fact that Hillary's entire "popular vote" margin is attributable to California where Trump barely campaigned and even adding in the 100,000 or so votes that Bernie "Three Home Socialist" Sanders got, and the Right-leaning candidates received almost one million more votes than the Left-leaning candidates.

As I said, the popular vote is meaningless in our system. If it were not Trump would have spent more time and money on California and New York and Hillary would have spent more time in Texas. What I am simply pointing out is that as a whole the voting population was very closely split and in fact, in spite of the spin from the leftist media, more people voted for individual freedom and smaller government than voted for the opposite.

So if you think that Trump not winning the "popular vote" means he has less of a mandate, just keep in mind two facts. First, more people voted for a Right candidate than a Left candidate and second that the American people also elected a majority Right House and Senate as well as substantial Republican legislative majorities and governorship's across the nation. In our closely divided nation that is as close to an iron-clad mandate as you are going to get.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Is It Time To Once Again Dissolve The Political Bands That Connect Us?

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

- The Declaration of Independence

The United States is at our most fundamental level a union of free people who have banded together for our common good. That has been the central truth that has held us together. It was allegedly one of the prime motivators for the North to go to war with the South to preserve the Union. Whichever state we lived, whether we were in New England or the Deep South or the Midwest or the Pacific West, we were united by being Americans. We lived different lives, went to different churches or none at all, some called it pop and others soda but when push came to shove we were united as one people.

I am seriously questioning if that union can survive and if it should survive.

Ours is a nation of well over 300,000,000 people. With each passing day it becomes clear to me that we lack even a basic unity across most of the most critical ideas that should unite our people. What is America? Why do we exist? What is our obligation to the nation and to each other?

It can be argued that we have always had conflicts. Protestant vs. Catholic, Northern/Western Europe vs Southern/Eastern Europe. agrarian vs. urban. All very true but it still seems to me that as a child we still held to certain core beliefs about the value of work, the cherishing of our nation and our admittedly tarnished history, our common faith in having faith in the first place, our love of country even if we didn't always agree about what we loved about her.

When I was younger, growing up in the late 70's and the 80's, there was obviously racial turmoil and economic uncertainty but nothing on the level we have today. We were still Americans whereas today we are more and more splintered into exclusionary and usually hostile identity groups constantly at war with one another. Let me be even more blunt than usual and ask some pointed and discomforting questions.

What in common do I have with a black man in inner city Baltimore or a Hispanic woman in L.A.? What does my family have in common with a Muslim family in Dearborn, Michigan? What does my wife, a stay at home mom who homeschools a very large family on a small farm in the country, have in common with a childless "career" single women in her 40's who lives in San Francisco and works in an office downtown?

Well, we are all Americans, right? By virtue of citizenship yes, but even that concept is rapidly falling apart. The idea that many people are here in violation of the laws of this land to some people is not only not a problem but a great boon for our quest for "diversity". For many other people, like the more than 60,000,000 who voted to elect Donald Trump, it absolutely is a problem. For many or most of the people mentioned above that voted for Trump, America is a beacon of freedom and a unique nation in the world, that for her faults and mistakes past (slavery, the Indians, Japanese internment camps) and present (abortion above all) is still the Tom Brady of the world, the greatest nation of all time. For many of the people in the preceding paragraph America is not that at all. They look to foreign nations with envy for their social welfare states and "free" healthcare, they emphasize our faults both real and imagined, they see the once dominate European based culture of America as oppressive and welcome seeing it diminished and replaced. I am not saying that they hate America but they seem to hate more about it than they love and they also seem to despise many of the people who share citizenship with.

The feeling is largely mutual. In the heartland we speak with disdain about those who live on the coasts and in the big cities. If something is going on in the city you can bet it is bad for the rest of us. Having New York or San Francisco values is the same as being a communist. Many of us suspect or assume that cities are full of  combination of rich liberals and criminals.

When you look at the county by county electoral map you see in stark relief what we all instinctively know. There are two "Americas", one populated by people in big cities and on university campuses and the other populated by the people not in those places, covering a much larger swatch of land but a correspondingly less densely populated territory.

I don't like what people in D.C. or L.A. like and they don't like what I like. We are not entertained by the same things, we don't read the same books, we don't believe the same way, we don't define America in an even remotely similar fashion, we disagree on the role of the government in our lives. To me and to many others places like Los Angeles are as much a foreign mission field as Bangladesh.

Some 68 million Americans (including here most Libertarian voters who accounted for 4.4 million votes as well as voters for conservative independents Evan McMullin and Darrel Castle of the Constitution party) voted for Trump or Johnson and presumably voted for smaller government, less regulation, limited immigration and stricter border controls, "originalist" jurists like Neil Gorsuch to fill Supreme Court and other vacancies, judges we assume would rule to permit laws that restrict abortion. Another 67 million (including here all of Green Party Jill Stein's voters) voted for more government, more regulation, less restriction on immigration, more "activist" judges, an expanded social safety net and the continuance and even expansion of abortion on demand. We are pretty evenly split in this nation.

These are not subtle nuances. The differences between what people on either side want versus the other are gaping chasms. That gap is not simply a difference of opinion or even a vigorous disagreement. It often devolves into hate and not just the garden variety online sort. Today it all too often manifests as street violence and thuggery dressed up as "protest". Perhaps I am overly partisan here but the violence is almost entirely one-sided. Throughout the campaign we were warned about the potential violence and the incipient hate crimes that Trump and his followers would cause but it wasn't Trumpistas who were spitting on people and attacking them at Trump campaign events. The gang of cowardly thugs chasing a lone guy down in a parking garage to hit him and rip his pants off weren't wearing "Make America Great Again" hats but you can bet if that guy had pulled a pistol and defended himself against a dozen or more punks attacking him, the news would have been all over it. It wasn't Trump supporters who made people falsify claims of hate crimes that they actually committed on their own. It wasn't a Trump supporter who burned a black church and sprayed it with pro-Trump graffiti, it was actually a member of that church but even as obvious as it was to many of us that it was a hoax from the very beginning, that didn't stop the media from reporting it as clear proof that all Trump supporters were violent "racists" in order to sway the election (musta been da Russkies!). Those weren't Trump supporters sucker punching alt-right leader Richard Spencer while he was peaceably being interviewed or setting a woman's hair on fire at the "Women's March" for being the wrong kind of woman or pepper spraying a woman or beating a man unconscious and burning their own campus at Berkeley. It isn't Trump supporters publicly fantasizing about the assassination of the duly elected President of the United States or calling for a military coup. In a non-physically violent but still ridiculous overreaction it mostly is not Trump supporters who cut off family and break friendships because of their support for one political candidate over another.

The attacks keep escalating and someone is going to get killed. Either a "protester" will get carried away and kill someone by hitting them in the head or someone being attacked by one of these gangs of criminals will pull a gun and defend themselves but someone is going to get seriously injured or killed and then who knows what will happen. People are not content to be cowed into hiding at home while their country burns down around them anymore and if they don't feel the police will protect them while they peaceably make their voices heard, what other option do they have but to protest while armed? We are in a time when a lot of people, even supposedly "mainstream" voices, are advocating political violence or at least tacitly approving of it by laughing about it. For millions of Americans it is completely unacceptable to hold a contrary political view and those that do hold that view should be shouted at, shamed, threatened and even attacked until they relent or at least until they agree to go quietly into political seclusion.

When street violence is commonplace and common ground is virtually non-existent, when people literally hate one another and friendships and family bonds are broken over political disagreements, when people don't even agree on even the most basic level about what it means to be a united people or that there should even be a sense of people-ness, can a people remain united? Should they remain united?

Before the election many Texans were talking secession and it was scoffed at by liberals who assumed that of course Hillary Clinton would win. Who wouldn't want a thoroughly corrupt and completely untrustworthy person to be President? Now that the election is (supposed to be) over, California is making a lot of noise about not sending tax money to the Feds and there is even some serious talk of Calexit, or secession of California from the union entirely. As for me I would be happy to see them leave, at least the coastal urban corridor from San Diego through L.A. to San Francisco.

I have been of the opinion for a while, an opinion that I see echoed more and more often, that this nation is on a trajectory that is going to lead to massive upheaval. The catalyst might be political or it might be economic, such as a general default on U.S. debt obligations or it might be over something as simple as a major disruption in our food supply, which would be far easier than you might think. What I am talking about is widespread violence, the sort where the police are overwhelmed and the National Guard gets involved. There are violent extremists all across the political spectrum, some already in action on the Left, but others ready to jump in on the Right.

The other option is to dissolve the bands that unite us, to recognize and admit that a nation the size of ours with the number of people we have is just too unwieldy to be one people that can live peaceably together. Many people in this country in places like the area we live feel like their lives are out of their own control. Decisions on my behalf are made for me without my permission by people who have never met me, never been to my town and probably never been to my state other than to drive across it as fast as they can. How can it be otherwise? We long ago ceded control of virtually every aspect of our lives to bureaucrats and politicians who have absolutely no connection to us. To be under the control, in virtually every aspect of our lives, of people who do not and indeed cannot have my best interest first and foremost is a recipe for resentment and division and the greater the distance, the greater the disconnect. On the other side the resentment over the Electoral College giving voice to people in Indiana and Arkansas which counteracts the big states like California was just infuriating to many Clinton supporters.

More specifically, can we truly dwell together as one people when so many people believe that abortion is a societal good and indeed a sacred necessity, and that think that government should control as much of the economic activity between people as possible when a similarly sized group of people believe just the opposite? Can we be "The United States" when the inhabitants of some states have a radically different idea of what "America" is than the inhabitants of other states? I am kind of rambling on with these random question but the point I am trying to make is this, we are not functionally in union with one another to any real extent and I fear that the end result of our progressively worsening relationship with one another is going to be violent.

My proposal is pretty simple but it is also incredibly complex. We should have a serious conversation about a political division of the United States into smaller, more manageable sovereign nations. I am not sure what that looks like in practice. Four countries, a Southern States of America, a Western States of America, a Northeastern States of America and a Northern States of America (the current Midwest)? How would trade and commerce and the free movement of people work? What would we do about the military, who gets the nukes and the aircraft carriers?

Obviously there is a lot to think about but if we cannot find common ground as a people and if violence continues to spiral, is there any other choice? An amiable separation would certainly be better than a violent civil war. The United States has stood for more than 200 years, surviving a terrible civil war once. I don't think we could survive another.

If the United States are no longer united in any meaningful way, what is to be gained by pretending otherwise?

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Nation Without Meaningful Borders Is No Longer A Nation

The brilliant and now sort of retired Thomas Sowell wrote something powerful in 2012 about immigration in his piece The Immigration Ploy. Here are his concluding paragraphs:

Ultimately, it does not matter what immigration policy this country has, if it cannot control its own borders. Whoever wants to come, and who has the chutzpah, will come. And the fact that they come across the Mexican border does not mean that they are all Mexicans. They can just as easily be terrorists from the Middle East.

Only after the border is controlled can any immigration policy matter be seriously considered, and options weighed through the normal Constitutional process of Congressional hearings, debate and legislation, rather than by Presidential short-cuts.

Not only is border control fundamental, what is also fundamental is the principle that immigration policy does not exist to accommodate foreigners but to protect Americans — and the American culture that has made this the world's richest, freest and most powerful nation for more than a century.

No nation can absorb unlimited numbers of people from another culture without jeopardizing its own culture. In the 19th and early 20th century, America could absorb millions of immigrants who came here to become Americans. But the situation is entirely different today, when group separatism, resentment and polarization are being promoted by both the education system and politicians.

I agree with most of what Sowell wrote in 2012 and I can agree with it because I am not a politician and I am not looking for anyone to vote for me. I agree with Sowell as a Christian because as I have pointed out in other posts and as I continue to affirm there is not a single answer on immigration that is the only "Christian" position and there is nothing in the New Testament that prescribes that a secular nation enact a certain immigration policy or that Christians are morally obligated to support a particular policy on immigration as it applies to a secular nation. 

A lot of well meaning but I believe misguided people, including many of my fellow Christians, are caught up in the political shenanigans of the day. This is how it works. President Trump does something completely expected based on his personality and what he pretty clearly said during the campaign. Democrats shed crocodile tears, express faux outrage and vow to fight him with every last breath in their bodies. People choose sides. The reality is that nothing really changes. Replace Trump with Obama and Democrats with Republicans and the same thing happens in reverse. Meanwhile no one sees the bigger game being played behind the scenes. Some Christians who consider themselves "progressive" rail against Trump's plans and most without much serious consideration. Others Christians who consider themselves "conservative" support Trump's plans because anything progressives want is something they should oppose. There are some people who have thought these questions through on both sides but their voices don't get as much attention as someone who wails and gnashes their teeth over the INJUSTICE OF IT ALL or who screams THEY ARE ALL TERRORISTS on social media. 

The hysteria over immigration and/or refugees is a perfect example of this. I don't think for a second that it is ultimately about "compassion" nor is it about "national security". Whenever you look at any issue like this you have to look past the rhetoric and examine the Big Question: "Who is benefiting from this policy?" because nothing happens in D.C. unless someone is gaining power and/or money from it. Politicians on both sides are in power and want to stay in power. To do that they need money and they need votes. Are there leaders on the Religious Right who secretly were giddy about the institution of "gay marriage" nationwide because it gave them a new tool to whip up the masses and increase fundraising? I am confident that the answer is yes. Are there people on the Left who were secretly super excited about Trump's immigration pause and who can't wait to hear who Trump is nominating for the Supreme Court tonight? Also absolutely yes. The ACLU pulled in over $20,000,000 following Trump's executive order on immigration and you can bet the fundraising emails following the announcement of his nominee for the Supreme Court are ready to go, just awaiting a name. I guarantee that Trump winning has hurt fundraising for the NRA.

Our political system is a numbers game. Some of that game includes money of course but a lot of it includes people in raw numbers. You need a certain number of people to vote a certain way to win elections. Having clearly written off as irredeemable (i.e. "deplorable") the White middle and working class, the American Left is focused on the super wealthy; the government, cultural and academic elites; and the very poor, especially minorities to carry elections. That didn't work in 2016 obviously but the demographic trends are headed in their favor. It might seem callous to see people as little more than playing pieces on a game board but that is the reality of the game being played in Washington, D.C.. The Right sees the opposite. Without completely revamping and thus destroying their political platform, conservatives will need an increasing percentage of the shrinking White vote to win elections. It wouldn't take many votes to shift the results in places like Michigan and Florida from Trump in 2020 to a Democrat. It also wouldn't take many votes to ensure a second term for Trump. Believe me, people are already doing these calculations and have been since the day after Election Day.

Back to the Sowell quote and the title of my piece. Let me be even less politically correct than I normally am, which might seem impossible. The immigration and refugee debate is a debate over the future of America. Will America continue to be what it has been for all of her history, a predominantly White, European nation that welcomes immigrants from around the world in limited numbers or will it be a nation that has no dominate race and culture? We get skittish when we talk like that because we like to pretend that America is and always has been a melting pot but the reality is that the melting pot has almost always meant British and Irish and Germans and Polish and Italians. 

What you think about America is a reflection of what you think about European culture, whether you like what America traditionally has been or you loathe what America historically has been. If you think America is a nation that is notable for being racist, imperialistic, patriarchal (if you think that is a bad thing) and xenophobic then of course you would favor replacing the dominant European culture with a culture that lacks a dominant, unifying culture in favor of "multiculturalism" and you are willing to accept the consequences of that shift, assuming you recognize that there are consequences. On the other hand if you think that for the most part America has been a beacon of freedom and liberty to the world, the envy of other people, even in spite of our myriad flaws and failures, then you have to recognize at some level that this is because of a particular culture that emphasized certain values and encouraged certain traits and practices. In doing so you will have to come to grips with the reality that those advantages are inextricably linked to having a dominant culture and therefore that the culture in question is better than the alternatives and is therefore worth preserving and being protected from being relegated to a historical footnote. 

Do you see how uncomfortable that is? As uncomfortable as it makes people to read it and even at some level makes me to write it, it simply is reality. It is uncomfortable because many people in power don't want us talking about these issues and to instead focus on little brushfires. In the era of the "Greatest Generation", from say the 1930's to the 1950's, America was as overwhelmingly White as it has ever been, even more so than in the earliest days of the Republic, nearly 90% White. As of 2010 the non-Hispanic White population is down to 63% of the population and plummeting. By most estimates Whites will cease to be a majority in the next few decades unless something drastic happens although we will still be the largest "minority". You can look at the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 to see why this happened along with plunging White birth rates and massive illegal "immigration". Whether you think this is a good thing or a terrible thing, the reality is that that America in 2050 is going to be a hugely different country than America in 1950. Our economy will be different, our place in the world will be different and our culture will be very different. It cannot but be this way and one of the major reasons this will happen is immigration, legal and illegal. 

You might base your opinion about immigration and refugees on compassion or on national security but you really need to think about the bigger picture because the people who are actually making these policies certainly are. It might make you uncomfortable, and perhaps it should, but each of us needs to give some thought to the question of the future of America. Do you think we should jettison our flawed European culture and embrace a multiculturalist future or do you think that we should preserve that European culture? I am not saying your answer is necessarily wrong either way, although I clearly have a strong preference, but at least you owe it to yourself and we as a people owe it to each other to have an actual honest conversation about this topic. 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Why Do We Spend $5.5 Billion Per Year To Defend A Nation With The 3rd Highest GDP In The World?

Breaking news! Japan surrenders!

In 1945.

This is 2017.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. spends $5,500,000,000 per year to maintain our presence in Japan (not to mention South Korea and any number of other nations):
Q: How many troops does the U.S. have in Japan and Korea? 
A: Approximately 54,000 military personnel, 42,000 dependents, and 800 civil-service employees work at 85 facilities in Japan, according to U.S. Forces, Japan spokesman John Severns. In addition, the bases employ 25,500 Japanese nationals who work as clerks, firefighters, doctors and the like. There are about 28,500 U.S. troops in South Korea. 
Q: How much does the U.S. presence in Japan cost the U.S. each year? 
A: Including personnel costs, the U.S. is set to spend roughly $5.5 billion on its Japan presence in the year beginning Oct. 1, 2016, according to President Barack Obama’s budget proposal released in February.
You might be wondering why the U.S. has 54,000 military personnel at 85 different facilities in Japan when Japan, as I mentioned in the title, has the third largest gross domestic product in the world, ahead of Germany, the U.K, France, Russia, etc. Only the U.S. and China are bigger in terms of GDP. Well, according to the article, we are required to provide defense for Japan, based on the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan. In theory it requires both Japan and the U.S. to defend each other but in practice that means the U.S. gets to use stations in Japan and maintains forces in the Pacific to defend Japan. This treaty is from 1960, 15 years after World War II ended and Japan was nowhere near the economic power it is today.

It is a pretty sweet deal for Japan. We spend billions of our own money to defend them and we employ tends of thousands of Japanese.
Q: What benefit does Japan get from the alliance?
A: The big financial benefit for Japan isn't having to pay the full cost of its own defense. Japan spends about ¥5 trillion ($45 billion) annually on defense, or about 1% of its gross domestic product. U.S. annual defense spending of $580 billion is about 3.5% of gross domestic product. Isao Mutoh and Yasuhiro Takeda, professors at National Defense Academy of Japan, have estimated that Japan would have to spend an additional ¥4.2 trillion to procure vessels, aircraft carriers and other new weapons to maintain the same level of defense without the alliance.
So instead, we in the U.S. spend hundreds of billions per year on the military, money we largely are borrowing to fund said military. Again, great for Japan. Why buy and man and maintain your own aircraft carrier fleet when the U.S. will go into debt to do it for you? I understand the concern of Japan's neighbors given that whole World War II thing but come on, does anyone see Japan as an imperial threat today?

Don't even get me started on South Korea, with the world's 11th largest GDP, having 28,000 U.S. troops stationed there to hold back the commie hordes of half-starved North Korea. Thanks to a standing army of 650,000, millions of reservists and a mandatory conscription law, the U.S. presence is a tiny fraction of their defense forces and besides we have 54,000 troops nearby in Japan, carrier groups and other ships prowling the oceans and enough bombers to decimate North Korea in short order, there really is little threat to South Korea and besides which it isn't our job to provide a costly permanent presence in the Korean peninsula half a century after the shooting stopped.

Then there is Germany and the rest of Europe. The Middle East. South America, Africa. On and on. The U.S. military has a presence everywhere and this week sent 3,000 troops into Poland in what can only be described as a direct provocation out of political petulance from President Narcissus Obama.

The U.S. cannot be expected and certainly cannot afford to maintain a permanent military presence all over the world indefinitely. Japan is a largely peaceful country with a huge GDP and is on friendly footing with America. We don't need 85 facilities and over 50,000 personnel to keep an eye on a once-enemy that we vanquished over 70 years ago.

If we want to defend America and preserve the national security of the United States, we must reduce our foreign military entanglements and commitments. Going into debt to protect nations that can afford to defend themselves is not conservative, it is not patriotic and it is not smart.

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Lion Of American History. Really.

So in his mad dash to do as much irritating, meaningless and outright harmful stuff possible before he leaves office, yesterday soon-but-not-soon-enough-to-be-former-President Obama awarded Vice-President "Gropin' Joe" Biden with the highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom with distinction.
President Obama awarded outgoing Vice President Biden the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Thursday afternoon. Calling the former longtime Delaware senator "the best vice president America's ever had" and a "lion of American history," Obama gave his White House partner the surprise award in an emotional ceremony, initially billed as a farewell. After extolling the job that Biden has done, Obama ended it with the unexpected news that he was giving the vice president the nation's highest civilian honor, with distinction — a designation most recently given to President Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II and Gen. Colin Powell.

So what exactly has Vice-President Biden done to deserve this honor and win accolades as the "best vice president America's ever had"?
Obama has frequently said that picking Biden, his former primary rival, as his running mate in 2008 was one of the best decisions he ever made. Before accepting the nomination, Biden had spent more than three decades in the Senate, amassing a large portfolio and body of work, including stints as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee. The president said, laughing, that the people of Delaware sent Biden to the Senate as soon as they could, electing him to the Senate at the age of 29 (he turned the constitutionally required age of 30 before he was sworn in).
So his claim to fame is that he has been a politician his entire life. That is his service. I guess that is something but is he really deserving of the very highest honor we can give to a civilian, given that he has been the Vice-President of the United States? Isn't that honor enough? What exactly did he accomplish as Vice-President besides mugging for the camera and pawing women? His most notable achievement was nodding in agreement. That is fine, it is sort of what a VP is supposed to do but is that and 30 years of bad legislation in the Senate since he was barely old enough to be in the Senate deserving of an award? Obama can give whatever award he wants since he is still President for another week. I guess it makes sense to give Biden the highest honor in the land for a civilian since Obama was given the Nobel Peace Prize for just getting elected (and has been bombing the crap out of the rest of the world ever since. "Peace" Prize indeed.)

A lion of history. Seriously. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Fake News

I watched Trump's press conference yesterday and have to admit it was equal parts disturbing and hilarious. His rambling intro, the lawyer reading prepared remarks from the paper for an eternity, his endless "terrific, great, beautiful" references. All vintage Trump. The next four years are going to be something to behold.

What everyone is talking about though was his rather rancorous exchange with Jim Acosta of CNN. Acosta tried to ask a question right after the organization he represents ran a risible story about Trump knowing full well that the story lacked credence and every other news outlet except the revolting BuzzFeed passed on the story. The story itself might be true, unlikely, might be partly true, less so but still unlikely, completely untrue, pretty likely, or one giant troll, very likely. That isn't the point so much as it is that CNN ran this story without due diligence and proof. It was clearly political rather than journalistic and Trump was right to shut down someone representing a "news" organization that is clearly OK with publishing unverified nonsense. Why should he stand there and take questions from a group that is openly hostile to him, not in a sense of the press holding politician's feet to the fire but rather in a personal and partisan enmity? As a reminder, the First Amendment guarantees a free press. It does not guarantee the right of any particular member of said press to ask and have answered a question by anyone else. If Trump takes steps to curtail the freedom of the press, or of free speech or free association or the right to freedom of religious exercise or the right to keep and bear arms, etc., I will be right there at the front of the line to call him out on it. But CNN doesn't get special treatment just because they have the word "News" in their organizational name.

Which brings me to a broader point. In response to Trump shutting down Acosta and doing so with the clever reversal of the entire fake news narrative which is now about as credible to the average American as "climate change", the recently out of the closet to the surprise of no one Fox News anchor "Shep" Smith threw a fit:
“[C]NN’s exclusive reporting on the Russian matter was separate and distinctly different from the document dump executed by an online news property,” Smith said. “Though we at Fox News cannot confirm CNN’s report, it is our observation that its correspondents followed journalistic standards and that neither they nor any other journalists should be subjected to belittling or delegitimizing by the President-elect of the United States.”
I grant you that Trump's tone was kind of ugly and a little nasty but then again he isn't a politician so if you spit in his face you can expect a kick in the crotch in return. In some ways it is kind of a refreshing break from the faux courtesy that so many in Washington put on when you know they hate each other.

What is interesting about Smith's statement is that he doesn't condemn someone being belittled, he specifically objects to journalists being belittled. Smith appears to buy into the notion so common in New York and D.C. that those who claim to be journalists are a special priestly caste who are above reproach by the little people. Nothing irritates "journalists", and that apparently includes people who read news off a teleprompter, quite like not getting the deference they think they deserve. This relatively small cabal of "journalists" get to decide the terms under which the President has to interact with them, what news is worthy of being published (All the news that's fit to print.....according to us), who is or is not a journalist, and more insidiously what news is promoted and which is not based on clearly partisan standards and intent.

Far too many journalists think of themselves as above the rest of the nation, the arbiters of truth. We saw this on display the other night with the ridiculous speech from Meryl Streep declaring Hollywood and the press as the only people who can be trusted to "safeguard the truth". If actors and actresses would go back to just being entertainers and if journalists would go back to reporting actual news and letting people decide what to think for themselves, we would be better off but there doesn't appear to be any danger of that happening anytime soon. For now and the foreseeable future reporters and other journalists will continue to see themselves as a special clerical class in America and at the same time will continue to see their influence and their audience shrink because Americans no longer rely on journalists nor do we trust them. We pretty much laugh at them now and nothing infuriates the self-important elites in New York and D.C. when the peasants stop bowing to them and start laughing at them.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Brief Overview Of The Dumb Stuff Meryl Streep Said

Ah Meryl Streep. We all desperately needed to hear you declare yourself and your buddies in Hollywood the high priests of Truth for all America. Here is a brief list of the dumb stuff she said in her Golden Globe award speech.

1. You and all of us in this room really belong to the most vilified segments in American society right now. Think about it: Hollywood, foreigners and the press.

Right. She is unimaginably wealthy and powerful and influential, lives in the nicest places and eats the finest food and wears the most fashionable clothing. She is getting some meaningless award at a meaningless award show where people just like her fawn over how awesome they are and pontificate on political issues they are clueless about and millions of people breathlessly watch them do it, talk endlessly about they wore and react to their every word as if these "stars" gave a single moments thought to any of us. Yes, you poor thing Meryl, you are so terribly vilified. What most people wouldn't give to be persecuted like you. Of course she clearly hasn't thought for so much as a second about "why" so many Americans "vilify" the press and entertainment industry because after all we are just the peasants who should keep our mouths shut, vote for who celebrities tell them to vote for and pay exorbitant amounts of money to watch these people pretend to be other people.

2. But who are we, and what is Hollywood anyway?.. America
>...So Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners. And if we kick them all out you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.

This warrants a two part response.

a) Ah, here we have the common deceit that sees every person who is from another country being the same as every other person from another country, often exhibited by dumb statements like "America is a nation of immigrants", which is true but has nothing to do with people sneaking into this country in violation of our laws and working here in violation of our laws, something they know they are doing against our laws and they do anyway. As near as I can tell, for all of his generally dumb statements, I am pretty sure that Trump has yet to threaten to "kick out" people who are in this country legally. I assume that even though she is a celebrity, Streep knows the difference and is intentionally obfuscating here to advance a political agenda. On the other hand she might just be that dumb.

b) The arrogance of someone who works in an industry that puts out trash week after week and yet calls it art sneering at the clearly implied savagery and un-artistic sports of football and MMA (which not coincidentally are male dominated sports) is breathtaking. I don't watch football much anymore and never was interested in MMA but let's look at some of the top grossing movies put out by these "artists" in 2016 (and ignore such intellectual and artistic gems as 'Office Christmas Party')

1. Finding Dory: A money grabbing sequel of an animated film about a fish that gets lost.
2. Rogue One: Another sequel/prequel/sequel/I can't keep it straight. It was supposed to be decent but it still is mostly another money machine piggybacking off of a movie franchise started when I was a little kid.
3. Captain America: Civil War: See above about sequels squeezing money out of franchises, this one based on a comic book.
4. The Secret Life of Pets: Another animated movie, i.e. Sunday morning cartoons on steroids.
5. The Jungle Book: Hey, another remake of a children's book! Starting to see a pattern here?
6. Deadpool: Another comic book based movie although this one scores points for being super funny and a break from other comic book movies by being rated R but at the end of the day it is mostly a couple of hours of vulgar jokes, extreme violence, endless swearing and some random sex scenes. Entertaining as all get out but "art"? Please.

Rounding out the top 10: Zootopia, yet another animated kids film. Batman vs Superman which was so awful I couldn't get through more than half of it. Suicide Squad, yet another comic book movie and it was likewise awful and one of those movies that would have been better off if it had just played the trailers on a loop for two hours. Doctor Strange, another comic book movie. I haven't seen it but it was supposed to be decent.

You get the point. The "arts" apparently means sequels, squeezing money out of movie franchises and making endless animated films and comic book based movies. What would we do without "the arts" indeed? I mean wow, how can you compare Mixed Martial Arts which features stylized violence with artistic films like Deadpool and Suicide Squad which in contrast feature stylized violence?

As I have said a million times, one used to be recognized as an artist because one created art, now something is considered art because someone declares themselves an artist. What a pompous boob Ms. Streep is.

3. Speaking of Trump while not using his name she said "Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back."

As others have pointed out, this is the same Meryl Streep who applauded Roman Polanski, a man at that time in his 40's who drugged and raped a 13 year old girl (and had a sexual relationship around the same time with then teen-aged Natassja Kinski, and it is probably a safe bet he used his power as a director to molest any number of other teens). Also no mention of a disabled white kid tortured and abused by blacks in Chicago. I guess her concern over the powerful and the powerless are restricted by political expediency.

4. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose.

Ah, she must be talking about lawyers suing and trying to ruin mom and pop bakeries and florists for taking a principled stand. Wait, she wasn't? Maybe she was talking about Obama threatening school districts by taking away Federal funds that come from these school districts via taxes in the first place if they don't allow boys to use girls locker rooms and bathrooms? Not that either? Well then I am not sure what she is talking about.

5. O.K., this brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call him on the carpet for every outrage.

Once I stop laughing about the "principled press" part I will continue....OK, I am better now. Notice that she specifically calls on the "press" to call "him" on the carpet for every outrage. Did she call on the press to do this before Obama took office? Would she have called on the press to hold "her" accountable if Hillary had won? What about various liberal politicians? Nope. To Meryl the press is principled when it is openly partisan and hostile toward soon to be President Trump because that is what the press is for, to act as an attack dog with what little trust and prestige they have left. Which brings us to....

6. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in the Constitution.

It is truly amazing to see the Left suddenly falling in love with limited government, checks and balances and the Constitution itself. She even seemed to praise our founders, a uniformly white male group that normally would be reviled. Of course to Ms. Streep and others on the Left, the Constitution consists of the freedom of press and speech and then skips ahead to the right of women and blacks to vote. You never see them praising the freedom of religious expression, except maybe for Muslims, or the freedom of association and certainly not the right to keep and bear arms.

Then the most arrogant statement yet, which is quite an achievement after a litany of pompous rhetoric.

7. So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists, because we’re gonna need them going forward, and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.

Yes, when anyone thinks about safeguarding the truth, the first place they think of is Hollywood where people make a living by pretending to be someone else, where movies take "artistic license" to revise historical events to make them more interesting and politically correct and where the truth is more narrowly defined and partisan than you would find among the most staunch fundamentalist, KJV-Only Baptist churches. The hubris of these people is amazing. She and her ilk really think that they have a corner on knowing what truth is and that the "American people", i.e. people in L.A. and New York, want and depend on them to guard it. No, what we want from Hollywood are entertaining movies. That is it. That is all we want. We don't want political nonsense from football players and we don't want it from actors and actresses. You are in the entertainment business so maybe try entertaining people instead of lecturing them. We got enough of that from the soon to be former President over the last 8 years.

You might wonder why I spent the time to peck this rant out on my keyboard if I don't care what Meryl Streep or anyone else in Hollywood thinks. First because it was just a really unintentionally funny speech, so full of misplaced pride, that it amuses me to point it out. Second because far too many people think celebrities somehow know more than the rest of us about topics like politics or economics or faith. People cheer on celebrities (and sports figures and politicians) as if those people care about the little people in this country at all, which by and large they don't. People get all weepy when a famous actor or singer dies as if they lost someone close to them and many people give them an automatic pass into Heaven because they made a movie or sang a song they liked but those same famous people don't care if you die apart from losing a potential ticket buyer. They just don't care. They don't want to be near you, that is why they live in rich, liberal enclaves. They don't care about your opinion or your struggles. They just like to play make-believe for a living and for you to pay them to do it so they can be rich enough to afford to live nowhere near you.

I am heartened to see that a lot of people, even a lot I wouldn't have expected, called Streep out for her nonsense but there are still a lot of people who think she was right on the money and even called her courageous for saying something everyone expected her to say and that no one would argue with. That isn't courageous or bold or edgy. It is preaching to the choir, it is shouting to an echo chamber, it is being exactly what they accuse us of, living in a bubble.

Who could have guessed that the most amusing performance by an actor in 2017 would come from someone who thought she was being serious and noble and thoughtful at an awards show?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

762 murders in one year, Chicago clearly needs more Federal money for summer jobs!

So in what promises to be a common theme for the next four years, President-elect Trump is threatening to insert himself into another local issue. In this case Trump is telling Chicago that if it can't get the murder problem under control, Trump will. As usual there are no specifics about how this would happen. Send in the National Guard? This is one of the problems with a Twitter run Presidency, it often means tiny little bursts of whatever Trump has on his mind at any given moment although that is still preferable to Obama and his endless lectures and finger wagging at the American people in-between tax-payer funded rounds of golf. I have never in my life seen someone dominate the news cycle like this before he is even sworn in as President.

The days of principled Federalism from the GOP are temporarily over and the days of opposition to Federalism from the Democrats is likewise temporarily over.

What was both ironic and infuriating from the Rahm Emanuel administration was their response (emphasis mine):

A spokesman for Emanuel released a statement Sunday, obtained by The Chicago Tribune, that alluded to the December meeting, but did not directly address Trump’s call for possible federal intervention.

“As the president-elect knows from his conversation with the mayor, we agree the federal government has a strong role to play in public safety by funding summer jobs and prevention programming for at-risk youth, by holding the criminals who break our gun laws accountable for their crimes, by passing meaningful gun laws, and by building on the partnerships our police have with federal law enforcement,” the statement from Adam Collins said. “We are heartened he is taking this issue seriously and look forward to working with the new administration on these important efforts.”

Ah, that must be it. People are shooting each other in Chicago year round, especially over Thanksgiving and Christmas, due to a lack of summer jobs. I am quite certain that the thugs in Chicago sit around on weekends and think to themselves "Man, I wish I had a summer job. But I don't so I guess I will shoot that dude over there for disrespecting me.". Only someone who lives in a leftist bubble and also who no doubt lives in a nice, well police patrolled neighborhood where he is in no danger from these shootings could argue that Chicago needs more "meaningful" gun control laws and funds for summer jobs.

What Chicago really needs is some moral leadership, not blame shifting, that tells young men to stop shooting each other over slights and tells young women to stop having kids out of wedlock with these same men and perpetuating the cycle of poverty. I am sure Chicago is like most places with lots of openings for entry level jobs for people who want to show up to work but right now there is little incentive for these young men to take those jobs. What Chicago lacks is not sufficient Federal funds or even more gun control laws, what Chicago lacks is moral leadership. Until that gets fixed we can keep throwing money at a problem and keep getting the same results.