Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Moral Authority vs Justice

What is the importance of U.S. moral authority or reputation outside our boarders? Wouldn't it be the same for the country as for the individual? As humans, we rely on our relationships with others to ease the struggles of life. On the world stage, countries protect their existence similarly.

What reputation do we want as individuals and nations? Of course, we want that which allows us to work cooperatively with others without being victimized. It's no better to be thought the doormat than the bully. We don't want others to ban against us because of our tyranny; neither do we want to invite attack because of perceived weakness.

It is with this balance I approach this story of a Mexican national who was executed in Texas this morning. Consider this excerpt from the story.

"It's important to recall this is a case not just about one Mexican national on death row in Texas," one of his lawyers, Sandra Babcock, said after watching him die. "It's also about ordinary Americans who count on the protection of the consulate when they travel abroad to strange lands. It's about the reputation of the United States as a nation that adheres to the rule of law."

What reputation has the U.S. created in this case, and what reputation does Babcock have in mind? Were we the bully? Should we have been the doormat? I'd say we were neither.

The defendant, Jose Medellin, moved to the U.S. when he was three, and was raised in Houston. One hardly can claim he was "[traveling] abroad to [a] strange [land]". Furthermore, the criminality of gang-rape and murder, of minors no less, shouldn't strike any one as an unsuspected quirk of local law the hapless traveler could not have anticipated.

Medellin lived his life in the U.S., and was tried the same as U.S. citizens. Indeed, the intervention of the Mexican Consolate would have been an extra protection. Certainly, that protection is just in many cases. In Medellin's case, it seems like a technicality and a Hail Mary Pass.

What effect has the Medellin case had on our reputation and therefore the treatment of U.S. citizens in the world? We neither railroaded a foreigner, nor abandoned justice. We were neither the bully, nor the doormat.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Congress Knows Best? Cell Phone Ban

No surprise here, Congress is exercising its power over our personal behavior. Not any power granted them by our constitution, mind you, but that power which we allow them by not standing up for what's right.

You may agree with them regarding the cell phone ban, but your crazy if you think banning cell phone use will prevent people from annoying you on planes. All the people who've annoyed me on planes were intent on conversing not on their phones, but with me. Gazing at an open, nearly finished novel has not deterred them. Listening to music on head phones has not deterred them. Closed eyes and my head on a pillow has not deterred them.

Like many laws of this kind, the in-flight cell phone ban one will fail in its objective while punishing the innocent. In the close and terribly uncomfortable confines of airplanes, we will still be annoyed by annoying people, and polite cell phone use will still be banned.

Of course, as always, people will excuse this blatant overreach of power with the tired old rationale: Well, we don't need to use our phones in flight. Think that's true? Imagine you're away from home, and a loved one has been rushed to the hospital. You'll not be able to send or receive calls in flight to check on them.

Or better yet, remember 9-11-01 and the passengers of flight 93, who used their cell phones to speak their last words to their loved ones. Also, because of cell phones, they learned of the other attacks that morning. As we know, without this information they believed they simply were being hijacked. Because of what they learned on cell phone calls, those heroic Americans subverted their hijackers ultimate plan to crash them into hundreds more innocent people.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Are we in deep trouble?

I know we all feel the same way about this election and probably we are all feeling blue about the future of conservatism. So, in order that we may commiserate, I share this from the Claremont Review:

Alas, it all comes to an end. Buckley wrote on December 31, 2005, "I regretfully conclude that ‘Notes & Asides' can't continue as a regular feature of National Review. The reason is: We aren't getting enough letters that qualify as ‘N&A' material—inquisitive, zany, confused, annoyed, piquant." Maybe they all grew up. Maybe it was the end of the conservative movement. There is much grousing these days about its loss of direction. Without Communism and, some say, without pre-Reagan levels of taxation to outrage and galvanize the Right, it wanders, confused, in search of its mission, or a mission. Or a leader.

Weird that I come across this at the end of the school year when I am naturally susceptible to its melancholy ... don't we all miss Buckley?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

You Don't Need the Olympics

The problem with the Left "helping" always is in the way they go about it.

It's because their methods for problem-solving don't derive from a value system that includes respect for the individual. Instead, they consistently operate from a utilitarian, "end justify the means" sort of approach.

There couldn't be a better example than the call for Olympic boycotts.

It means well. One can pat oneself on the back for being so politically aware and compassionate. Sending a message to the Chinese government justifies robbing the athletes of their Olympic dreams.

It takes from few to benefit many. Olympic athletes, like the wealthy "fat cats" are an elite few. The oppressed are many. It's a very simple utilitarian equation.

It takes from those who have, and gives to those who have not. World class athletic competition is a luxury, just like guns, wealth, and home schooling.

It's been done before; it didn't accomplish anything. The Left loves big end-justifies-the-means-projects, but the end results, if not glorious as intended, are beside the point. After all, doing something is always better than doing nothing, isn't it?.

What about the athletes, one might ask? What about their years of hard work and sacrifice toward their Olympic goals? The Left doesn't care about them anymore than they care about people who worked hard to become rich. The Left doesn't care about you either except to the extent you either are the source or the loyal recipient of their enforced charity. You are the means to an end, an object. You're feelings are irrelevant. Your very identity, like like that on an Olympic athlete, belongs to the glorious and benevolent bureaucracy.

Obama's Bitter Mistake-- My Two Cents

Lest any think I failed to notice Obama stepping in it big time, here's my two cents. I have a couple of points to add that I haven't heard elsewhere.

First, let us review the quote: “So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations,” he concluded.

Besides the obvious, and very insulting implications of that statement consider these:
1. Turning to church is equated with turning to guns, and protectionism, and bigotry (when he says "antipathy", he means bigotry). It' s just one of a few ugly choices one could make when one has been cheated out of their entitlements.

2. This is how Obama sees the world, with government as the answer to our woes and the center of our world. If you're getting what you need from the government, there's no need for religion. Maybe that's why the Left has so much animosity towards Christianity. They see it as a competitor for the hearts and minds of the downtrodden.

3. This is probably Obamas relationship with religion. That would explain 20 years of attending a church where sermons are political rants. It's common for Leftists to accuse everybody else of doing what they do, thinking how they think.

So, elect Obama. He'll create a government that provides you with the happiness you seek. You won't want guns, you'll stop hating immigrants, and you'll get to sleep in on Sundays.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Everybody's got Something Good to Say

I love this line from one of my favorite PJ Harvey songs, "Good Fortune": "Everybody's got something good to say". Even Barack Obama, with whom I usually disagree, has something good to say.

Obama is at least a socialist, if not worse. That doesn't mean I never agree with him. When he talks about parental responsibility, he is right on the money.

He's also right when he says that words matter.

However, actions speak louder than words, and there's a conflict between Obama's words and policies.

You can talk to a lapcat all day about personal responsibility, and they'll agree with you. But all you've accomplished, then, is to lead the lapcat to water (please pardon the mixed metaphor).

Next, you got to get it to actually drink. That will never happen, and here's why. Nobody will let them get thirsty, least of all the democrats with their entitlement policies.

Obama's words say "put away the video games". His actions, his policies say, "Don't worry, be happy".

Dean on McCain--Who Cares?

Why would anyone care what Howard Dean has to say about McCain? (Link here)

They are political opponents. Are news consumers so ignorant they would be surprised that a political agent would have something negative to say about their opponent?

And hello, Howie, do you think this factor has escaped any one's attention? We can tune in still to SNL reruns lampooning Reagan's age.

Furthermore, McCain's "old fashioned values" are appealing to conservatives. By mentioning them, you risk strengthening McCain's support among the base.

The only people who should be concerned about his old fashioned ways are those disenfranchised Democrats who have decided to vote (out of spite?) in the general election against Hillary if she beats Barack, or Barack if he beats Hillary.

One thing I know about Democrats is that they can overlook a lot of sins once they've made a choice. And their hatred for their opponent can be quite consuming.

If a Democrat has decided that Hillary or Barack is their opponent, I don't think they'll be terribly concerned about McCain's views on birth control and sex-ed. After all, they already know he supports the war in Iraq, and surely they know he is pro-life. Wouldn't that bother them more? (By the way, condoms and birth control pills are cheap, and sex-ed is a matter for the states.)

Also, who's buying Dean's claim that the Democrats are above identity politics, and therefore will not be mentioning McCain's age? First of all, isn't that what he just did? Second, isn't this historic race between the first woman and first Black presidential candidates largely about identity?

The airing of Dean's comment reminds me of ads for Pro-wrestling matches. Trash talk between opponents is neither new nor newsworthy.

The kind of People We're Bailing Out

Before you read this post, read this article.

I have been calling the subprime borrowers "lapcats". I intended it as an insult.

News of the aftermath of their stupidity informs me they are much worse. A lot of these folks are outright vermin. They're worse than vermin. They are at best brainless, at worst evil.

I believe you can judge an individual by how they treat the most vulnerable in their care. Well, I think a dog tied to a tree is pretty vulnerable. How about pets left in a garage with no one to check on them?

If a real estate agent ever walked into one of the foreclosed homes and found abandoned children tied to trees and locked in garages, then could America muster some communal outrage? These people should be facing criminal charges; are they?

I know the difference between pets and human kids; nevertheless, there is no excuse for leaving a pet defenseless, with rescue uncertain at best.

The article gives these human animals the undeserved kindness of describing their situations as sudden. Did it come as a big surprise to them that they weren't making their payments? How long did it take them to figure out they were living beyond their means?

Personal responsibility, and maturity of intellect are not merely superlative character traits, they are moral imperatives. They are what prevent us from harming others. That kind of growth,the ability and will to be good, cannot be bought with tax payer dollars. In fact, perpetual immaturity will result.

Neither will bail outs purchase purchase safety for any one. The ignorant and selfish will continue their destructive sprees until they're held accountable.

You don't always get what you want, but you always get what you choose.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Higher Standard for Iraq Than American Lapcats

Nobody likes to be used.

Especially to the tune of 4,000 lives and trillions of dollars.

But is it fair to treat Iraq as if that's what's going on?

Demoralized, divided, and disenfranchised as they have been in the aftermath of Saddam's rein, should Iraqis just get over it, and work it out?

I'd say that's a far more rigorous standard than that to which we hold Americans.

We can't even be expected to avoid buying things we can't afford. We can't be expected to study and behave at our govnt schools. We can't be expected to avoid unwanted pregnancy or addictive drugs.

But Iraqis are expected to forget 24 years of complete demoralization and brutalization under Saddam Hussein's regime. They're expected to overcome their fears and distrust and just work together for a better tomorrow.

I think this an interesting concept. Previously, the anti-war left stipulated the Iraqi loss of life as an excuse for withdrawal of US troops. Now that violence is decreased, that stability is a viable dream, America wants to send them a bill, or abandon them to the chaos that will ensue.

Is it any wonder that Iraqi leaders have difficulty cooperating? How can they be fully invested in a united Iraq when at any time America may abandon them to the mercy of their opponents?

Have you ever been in a committee meeting where every body agreed with you until it was time to pitch your ideas/grievances to administration? I have. People immediately fall into their own self interest when the safety net is withdrawn.

Why would any one hold war-torn Iraq to a higher standard than privileged American lap cats? Because Iraqis can't vote for our next president.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Mortgage Lapcats

The potential mortgage bailout lapcats comprise six percent of mortgage holders. That means we're having a national come apart over a minute portion of Americans who probably don't deserve our sympathy.

By the way, their lapse in judgment will be charged not only to the 94 percent who are making their mortgage payments, but also to the folks who didn't get a mortgage because they couldn't afford it.

The federal govnt never asks you if you can afford to subsidize some one else's problems. Worse, it taxes you based on the money you have made, not the money you have. If you did well last year, but are in dire straights now, tough.

Support the Fair Tax.

Hillary's pot/kettle thing

"Obama can't win," she said. You can safely bet that in her mind she is thinking "I can't win." It seems that although Liberals have many different policy ideas, this is one of those things that they always do. It is basically transference and is another example of their immature mental state. They always charge their enemies with their own crimes and loudly so. "Republicans have a culture of corruption" Meanwhile, if you actually watch the news, their party is overwhelmingly more corrupt. Of course, you have to actually do research to find out when a politician caught in scandal is a democrat, but when you do you become a conservative.

Every single personal friend who is a Liberal is guilty of this without exception. That is astounding and is not true of my conservative friends. Weird, huh? I guess this comes from a lack of introspection which is common among children.

Anyway, knowing this problem allows me to say that this comment probably has much less if anything to do with race. Hillary and Hillaryites know that she can't win, say Obabma can't win, then people try to figure out why they have said such a thing and come up with this rationalized "race" reason.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Mortgage Lap Cats?

Who are the people the government is trying to save from losing their homes in the mortgage "crisis"?

Normally, when there is a question of govnt intervention to rescue individuals from their sorry lives, said individuals are spotlighted in the media. This way, the rest of us can see how those victims of circumstance (or victims of evil fatcats?) are just like us, and that their plight could well befall us all, so therefore we should sympathize and hand over our tax dollars.

Why no images of noble, simple, hard-working folk who had no choice but to mortgage up to their eyeballs and accept adjustable rates to boot?

This "mortgage crisis" topic has been in the news for a long time, and I want to know just exactly who the govnt is trying bail out. Not names, but circumstances. If these people were defrauded, for instance, why no law suits?

The free market is not a perfect place. In the free market, people suffer for their "mistakes". When they do, the rest of us (are supposed to) learn not to make the same mistakes. What lesson will American borrowers and lenders take from the current govnt interventions? Do you really have to ask?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

What is Greed?

Who wants to apprehend and keep massive wealth?

Corporate fat cats.

Lottery Players.

Hollywood stars and hopefuls. Also top athletes, musicians, and the like.

Most everybody.

Not everybody who has massive wealth has earned it. Interestingly, the only ones incurring condemnation from the masses are those who apprehend wealth through the market, the folks most likely to have earned it.

When a truck-stop waitress wins $250 million in a lottery, folks are inclined to say "Good for her".
If a rich man's son goes to college, earns an advanced degree, and eventually becomes a highly paid CEO, people call him greedy. Even those who rise from poverty usually are lumped in with those who dared be born into affluence.

My theory is that a large percentage of Americans stopped developing intellectually after high school. They're still stuck in their teen drama, desperately desiring admittance to the "in crowd" while simultaneously scorning it, declaring unfair all that doesn't go their way.

The same thing happens to domestic house pets. Those who live life over a safety net get stuck in adolescence.

Americans who scorn fat cats are the government's lap cats.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Prayer for Progressives

A prayer for Progressives:

God grant them the serenity to accept that individuals will not be changed just because you pass a law,
the courage to refrain from restricting freedom just because they can,
and the wisdom to know that capitalism, like life, always finds a way.

See Daily Press , Local news: "Students turn a profit from candy sales", March 20, 2008

Monday, March 24, 2008

Bravo to David Mamet

Bravo to David Mamet on this excellent post. (Sorry, if the link doesn't work.) The title of the piece is "David Mamet: Why I am no longer a 'Brain-Dead' Liberal" in The Village Voice.

Also, reading the comment thread, I'm reminded of mistakes I frequently hear from both Liberals and professional Liberal pundits. These are my favorites.
1. confusing everything Republicans do as coming from conservative principles
2. confusing everything any given Conservative does as coming from conservative principles
3. believing that Religious right is synonymous with conservatism
4. confusing Liberalism with liberalism
5. believing that wealthy people are uniquely or exceptionally self interested
6. believing Republicans/conservatives are uniquely or exceptionally hypocritical
7. believing Liberal politicians are selfless leaders who would never abuse excessive power that Liberals seek to bestow upon them
8. believing government can save us from ourselves
9. believing Liberals/Progressives and Religious Right operate from very different principles
10. Confusing compassion with condescension

Moral Authority--In the Eye of the Beholder?

Liberals have clamored since 2003 that the U.S.A. lost its moral authority in the world when we invaded Iraq.
Conservatives know that you do what you think is right, even when others condemn you for it.
Nancy Pelosi is getting a taste. Will she lose sleep over China's criticism?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Stuff I Love

Stuff White People Like
I love this site.
Especially this post about The Poor
I got a great laugh out of the comment thread on this post about NPO's. The more self-righteous the target, the more bitter and humorless the commenter. I especially like comment 36: this guy makes $11K/year in San Francisco. I wonder if he ever considered that he could live in Tennessee, get a $22K/year job at a for-profit company, donate $11K to a charity of his choice, and still have $11K/year left to live on in Tennessee where the cost of living is a lot lower? But then how could he get his mad props for being so progressive? (Unless it turns out the comment is ironic, but who can tell?)

Sheep and Wolves

From the Iliad:" . . . Hector faced Achilles. He cried out to him, 'If I kill you I will give back your body to your friends and do you do the same to me.' But Achilles answered, 'Madman. There are no covenants between sheep and wolves, nor between you and me." (from Hamilton's Mythology)

Reading this passage reminds me of a current dilemma facing Americans. What is our legal relationship with the rest of the world?

Certainly, there are covenants that govern the interactions among nations. What obligation exists between parties who are committed to a covenant and those who are not? If a nation does not enter a treaty, or breaks one, how can it claim the benefits of said treaty? What if the party in question is not a nation at all?

In the end, doesn't it break down to "sheep and wolves"?

Through his rage, Achilles sees all as sheep beneath him. Who are we? Who are our enemies?

In the war between the West and Radical Islamic Terrorists, one party targets school girls, beheads civilians, stores ammo under the beds of its own children, and sends mentally disabled "martyrs" where the able minded are increasingly unwilling to go.