This is a partisan free zone dedicated to the destruction of the partisan instinct in our countrymen.
I reserve judgment on the Tea Party movement, but it is a cautious reserve. There seemed to be two wings. I am attracted to the wing that is dedicated to a capitalistic system of success and failure, consistent rule of law, limited government and local control, and against insane crazy spending. I am not attracted to the God and birthers side, the side that which feels threatened by gays who want to marry or serve the country without going through a charade.
I have frequently goofed on my liberal friends who thought that once Obama was elected that the end of the Republican Party was in sight. Not surprising to me, the Republicans have managed to convince themselves that recent electoral successes means they are guaranteed to taking over congress in 2010. I can’t say what that election will bring, but, I can say that already I see signs that the partisan elements, the angry and the distorted, the “we are always right about everything and everyone knows it” crowd is going to blow it, at least to some degree. The conservative PAC, C-PAC, held a convention this weekend. Like the Tea Partiers, they went from serious speaker to clowns.
As always, I enjoyed listening to Newt Gingrich (who I would probably never vote for – too partisan) as he is a human idea machine. I particularly liked his 2 + 2 = 4 idea for t-shirts and the like, and I hope people do start wearing them (if only I had an entrepreneurial bone in my body, I’d make my own and sell them on the beach in Hawaii). The idea stems from Camus’ The Plague and Orwell’s 1984, both of which wrote about government convincing or insisting that 2 + 2 does not equal 4.
The problem is, Mr. Gingrich, people often don’t want to believe basic arithmetic, whether in buying securities they don’t understand or houses for sub prime rates or birthers or anti-evolutionists (yes, I know it’s a theory, but it’s a good theory). They are convinced of their irrational ideas because they want to believe them. As simple as that. I’ve quoted more than once the Amazing Randi from his icon-busting book which demolishes the whole Nostrodamus myth, that it didn’t matter what he wrote because people will believe in Nostrodamus because it’s more fun for them to do so.
Getting back from my diversion, some Tea Partiers recognize that for them to be on the ballot likely means Democratic victory in some jurisdictions. In fact, there is no doubt that in Nevada, the Tea Party candidate is pulling votes from the Republican candidate and Senator Harry Reid is actually catching up. A Tea Partier is hardly an independent. In fact, Tea Partying in some aspects is just the institutionalization of the conservative wing of the Republican Party – so conservative, they have felt it necessary to distance themselves from their own party. But, we will see. Ralph Nader cost Al Gore the presidency. Someone at a Tea party rally should say that every time if they are smart.
The established rule is that independents can’t win the presidency in America. They haven’t yet. Ross Perot had a shot. John McCain might have been the first independent president in 2000 in my opinion had he gone that route (alas). I despair that a successful independent candidate is not possible until a sufficient number of people understand that the Democrats and the Republicans are the problem, as they so dominate Congress through archaic rules, that any member must be grouped together (“caucus with”) with at least one party or the other. Only the majority leader guided by a leadership committee decides what comes to the floor. I’m not sure how I would replace that, but I have some ideas. Another time.
I will tell you this. I am coming closer and closer to not voting for anyone with a D or R before their name on the ballot this year although I doubt I’ll be voting for a tea-partier, Liberal, Conservative or similar parties either.
WHAT’S ALL THE FUSS ABOUT THE FILIBUSTER?
The party in power always hates the filibuster because it keeps them from exercising their majority will. They hate it with every fiber of their being until they are the minority party, and, then the magical thing happens which partisans somehow don’t see as hypocrisy – the majority and minority switch positions. The one that hated it loves it and the one that loved it hates t.
They senate could get rid of the filibuster easily, if they would just agree to do it in 2016, when we don’t know what party will win and there is no incumbent. If they refused to get rid of it completely they might consider getting rid of it with respect to presidential appointments. However, they don’t really need to do that either. They could have a rule that presidential appointments are automatically confirmed if not voted on within 60 days.
Filibusters don’t really mean that you need 60 votes to pass anything. It means you need 60 votes to end debate. Debate in congress is antiquated and meaningless. Nerds like me watch C-Span, but that is a very small group. Usually the senators and congress persons are speaking to an empty or near empty room. They never convince each other on controversial votes (Ben Franklin said that it was futile to try and convince people of anything in public discourse). The other day I heard Mayor Ed Koch, a former congressman, explain that when you were called in for a vote, you just looked for someone who was involved in the legislation on your side and ask him how to vote. No one reads anything.
It is not 1804 anyway. If congresspersons want to communicate with each other or the public, then they can blog, communicate through other websites, go on tv or radio or write an op-ed. They don’t need to speak to an empty room. They could still have a congressional record, which, thanks to the fact that you can always amend and revise remarks for days, and put anything written in the record on unanimous consent, is also meaningless.
I DECLARE WAR, BUT FIRST, LUNCH
I liked this paragraph from a post by Linda Chavez on February 20th:
“Now, I am all for going after terrorists and killing them, if we can, before they hit us. But it is sheer hypocrisy to say that we have the right to kill a terror suspect, even a U.S. citizen, so long as we do it thousands of miles away; but if we happen to capture someone red-handed -- or should I say red-underweared, in the case of would-be bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab? -- we have to read them their Miranda rights or at least make sure they're not handled too roughly.”
It really is hypocritical. Wouldn’t you say that the warrior/terrorist/jihadist who comes to your homeland out of uniform and kills civilians deserves less protection than the innocent civilian who is bombed into dust due to a mistake?
That has, in fact, always been the rule. Spies and commandos were regularly just hung, and were lucky if they even got a military trial. John Adams wrote that any nation can take as prisoner any “subject” of a country we were at war with and hold them for the duration. Some refuse to substitute NGOs for country, but, if you don’t, you leave us defenseless. They are the only ones who will fight with us openly any more.
Civilian trials for foreign commandos, spies or terrorists who we catch are a mistake. Most of the country recognizes that. I don’t care if civilian trials have a better success rate than military tribunals. It is not really comparing apples and apples because many of the military tribunals they speak of are really just to decide if the people involved are enemy combatants. We don’t want them to have positive findings if it isn’t true.
The terrorists aren’t citizens. That doesn’t mean they have no rights. But, when they are non-uniformed foreigners who are caught red handed trying to blow up a plane – that means they have almost no rights. To give them constitutional rights other than basic due process (the right to know what they are charged with and a meaningful opportunity to defend themselves) and protection against torture is a mistake. This is akin to the modern premise that you can’t fight a war to win to anymore. It would be great if the human race was ready to eradicate war, but its not.
We are not likely going to be invaded by an army any time soon. Attacks against America are going to be made in the most effective way – by terrorist attacks against civilians for the most part, and by spies and commandos, and the weakening of our system from the inside. While I do not want us to just sweep up anyone we want for no reason, generally speaking prisoners of war should be treated like prisoners of war instead of suspects, particularly when they are caught with a bomb in their underwear.
Speaking of Afghanistan (weren’t we? At some point I’m sure we were) yesterday I watched a hearing on C-Span on Afghanistan. When it was over a man stood up and loudly kept repeating - we are at war and people are dying and only FIVE of you thought this was important enough to show up (I’m paraphrasing, of course). I hate it when people do that – what’s the point? Everyone present just cringes and walks away. And remember, the few congress members hearing him were the ones who actually showed up for the hearing. But, of course, he is right. No one cares much.
THANK GOODNESS THEY HAVE FINALLY REPEALED THOSE PESKY LAWS OF THERMODYNAMICS
The other day a highly educated person asked me what I thought about the new free energy machine some major distributors are marketing. The product was showcased on 60 Minutes. He suggested I look into it. I told him I don’t need to but had already made up my mind. Although it supposedly requires no energy to produce energy, for some reason the offices the company runs from uses natural gas to supplement their contraption. Hmmm? And, it can be hooked up to a solar panel? Now, why would it need that? Some engineers who watched 60 Minutes have written on blogs that it is just a fuel cell, like all other fuel cells. Fuel cells, of course, require fuel.
Einstein said that the only physical laws he was sure would not be overturned were the classical laws of thermodynamics, which rule out perpetual motion machines. Which is also why I will spend no more time on this. There are no free lunches, and no free energy machines.
BIG BROTHER REALLY IS WATCHING
Big Brother isn’t just coming; he’s here. In Britain activity on all roads are now recorded and at least temporarily stored. A number of other European countries follow suite. Many people don’t like this. I don’t. But, it is inevitable. Technology will make it available, and fear will make it necessary. We have a lot of technology. A lot of fear too.
How long before we have this in America? Don't blink. Those who believe there are serial killers on every corner ready to eat their children will demand it.
WE GET IT GOVERNOR – YOU DON’T LIKE GAYS
Got an email recently concerning Virginia Gov. McConnell issuing a new executive order on discrimination, protecting the very same groups as did his predecessor, except he yanked out of it protection for those discriminated against for reasons of sexual orientation. It’s why I could not vote for McConnell although I thought him the superior candidate in most other ways to Creigh Deeds. Here’s the troublesome paragraph:
“This order is in furtherance of the stated policy enacted by the General Assembly, and specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, (sexual orientation) age, political affiliation, or against otherwise qualified persons with disabilities. . . .”
If you are a private person, generally speaking you should get to discriminate in your private life (not discussing the ’64 civil rights acts here – but I do believe that the provisions preventing private discrimination in places of business was good for America even if I severely question the constitutionality of it - that's for another day). But, this is the State administration which the executive order effects, not the private sector we are talking about.
So, now, in Virginia, and some other states, they can apparently discriminate against someone who has once had a same sex partner, but not against someone who is a member of the American Nazi Party. I wonder. Suppose you are a man and have a good male friend you travel with or even live with. Is discrimination allowed on the suspicion of homosexuality, or do they have to have pictures. So, Hitler and Richard Simmons both apply for a state job and both are turned down. Hitler because he's a Nazi and Simmons because of his shorts and his lifestyle. Only Hitler has a law suit. Somehow that doesn't work for me.
BECAUSE WE CAN DO BETTER – OH, SHUT UP
What reason did most Republicans in congress have for voting against the job bill. Yes, they were prevented for offering amendments. Yes, the Democrats said they'd listen to them and didn't. But, my ears are closed to Republicans who did the same thing when they were in power just as they will be shut against the Democrats when they are whining some day about their fate.
The ideas in the jobs bill are not only non-partisan, if anything, they are Republican or conservative in nature. Tax credit and incentives for hiring the unemployed and keeping workers on is not your basic liberal philosophy. I haven’t heard policy reasons against it from Republicans, just whining that Republicans wanted more. The R’s are squandering their Scott Brown bounce.
LIBERALS SAY UNCLE ON GLOBAL WARNING!
Just kidding, but isn’t it about time they say – okay, we shouldn’t cost the economy billions of dollars on something which is at best unproven and at worst a scientific hoax. Phil Jones, the dean of global warming experts who is the basis for much of the global warming philosophy has now admitted that the globe hasn’t warmed for at least 15 years and claims he doesn’t have data anymore to back up his hockey stick graph showing that the climate is going to warm increasingly fast very soon.
Don’t have the data? He claims it’s because he is a mess. So, basically then, he must not have shared it with any other scientists so they could verify it? Hmm. Ever hear of email? Hmmm.
You know, there is going to come a sad day for liberals when they have to say to Rush Limbaugh and others like him – okay, maybe it was a hoax.
The sudden rush to argue – it’s not global warming – its climate change is not going to fly either. There is a real theory backed by data or there isn’t. If the temperature is staying stagnant or is even cooling – where is the evidence of change?
Besides, the climate does change. Always has, always will. We already know that. In fact, Professor Jones even acknowledged it might have been warmer in medieval times. Isn’t that one of the reasons that evolution happens?
Moreover, the so called climate is really an average, or series of averages. The fact that it snowed the hell out of the Eastern U.S. this winter is no more proof against global warming than the fact that the northern. U.S. has been rather warm.
I stick to my position. I don’t know if there is going to be substantial global climate change in the near future or not. I am not even convinced we are capable of amassing the data whch might tell us a global temperature. Right now there is no real good evidence of it or that man is somehow contributing to it. And that means, we shouldn't be revising our economy to confront a probably imaginary problem. Let China lead. They need to clean their rivers and their air first before we listen to them.
You would think that Professor Jones’ admissions would hit the liberal sector hard, but it hasn’t. The media and politicians just ignore it and continue to talk about global warming or climate change as if it were an established fact.
ON THE OTHER HANDS, WHAT WON’T CONSERVATIVES JUST ACCEPT
Why can’t conservatives admit the administration is doing a good job in Afghanistan? Are they afraid if they admit ANYTHING Obama does is right, they will lose the next ten elections? Of course, they do, because as never tire of telling you, partisanship makes everyone just a little bit crazy.
We have a plan in Afghanistan. We are executing it. By we, of course, I mean the military. Often I am against announcing our plans, but it appears that announcing the attack on Marja resulted in many tribal leaders signing up with the government side once they were convinced it will be take and hold. The military success in Afghanistan and also in Pakistan has to be approved by conservatives unless they want to claim they are now anti-military. That, of course, would not surprise me at all. Today’s conservative champions of the armed forces, intelligence agency and police used to refer to the FBI as “jack booted thugs” during the Clinton years and suggested that Clinton was a war criminal because Serbia was bombed. I have already heard similar refrains from conservative friends now – if a liberal is in charge – you can’t trust any one under their control anymore – so they claim. And what will they do with much of the highest military leadership wanting to end don’t ask, don’t tell? Disown them?
Somehow I’m pretty sure the prediction I’ve heard from some conservatives that all of the homosexuals in the military will be murdered, isn’t going to come true.
Bob Barr used to really irritate me when he was front and center in the war against Bill Clinton. But now that he is out of congress and has emphasized his libertarian principles, I like him a lot more. I especially liked his comment on a panel at the CPAC conference when he said “Waterboarding is torture, plain and simple.” He got a lot of cheers too. I have never understood the argunment of those who say it is not. How can making someone think they are drowning in order to elicit information from them not torture. We all seemed to think it was torture when Iranian troops put guns to the heads of hostages, even though they didn’t shoot. We all seem to think it is torture to sit through an hour long meeting run by someone from the human resources department. Of course, it’s torture.
I wonder if Mr. Barr will run for president again. Let me help him out by suggesting that he doesn’t. He doesn’t have the career or the popularity or the personality for it. But, some politicians are slow learners.
Which, by the way means, we are getting close to the time when I start making predictions for the 2012 campaigns and elections. Give me until the end of the year though, and I will lay out for you the winners and losers with penetrating accuracy usually only known to zen archers and Olympic curlers.
AND SPEAKING OF THE OLYMPICS
Best event - I loved the short track skating which keeps me on the edge of my seat. How they manage not to constantly plow into each other amazes me, particularly in the relays. Apollo Ohno is not the best, but he is the most exciting. The biathlon is pretty cool too. Ski, shoot, ski, shoot. It's like a James Bond movie. Best moment - Shaun White's last "just for fun" run on the half pipe. He is the Michael Jordan of the sport. The last move he did on the run seemed as impossible as when Jordan or Julius Erving would just float in the air and then twist again when everyone else was being affected by gravity. Best looking - tough call, but I'd say American skiier Julia Mancuso. Feel free to disagree.
- I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .