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Adventure is worthwhile - Aesop
Thursday, April 30, 2009
David Souter is apparently retiring from the Supreme Court. We are about to really see just who Barack Obama is.
I’m sure this will get plenty hysterical in the next few months—especially now that the Dems have the votes to cram through a radical if the want to. But I’m cautiously optimistic we’ll get someone reasonable. It’s not like there’s a whole lot of space to the left of Souter.
Stewart Bombs Out
Generally, I like Jon Stewart and the Daily Show. But last night, he said something so dumb, my jaw dropped. It’s about five minutes into this clip.
He says that Harry Truman was a war criminal for dropping the A-bomb on Japan. According to Stewart, we should have dropped one off the shore of Japan to demonstrate it.
Just to explain my bias: I am loathe to apply retroactive judgement to historical decisions. I force myself to remember that hindsight is 20/20 and that people usually don’t make bad decisions because they’re evil or stupid. They often don’t have complete information. In this case, let’s punt for the moment on the wisdom of the A-bomb. Truman had no way of knowing about long-term radiological effects. The devastation did not seem particularly worse than what fire-bombing had inflicted on Tokyo. We were in a brutal war that had dragged out for four years. Truman knew an invading army would face thousands of kamikaze planes and millions of armed civilians. It’s possible to argue that Truman did the wrong thing. But it’s not possible to say it was an indefensible decision. And war criminal? Truman didn’t vaporize two cities because he hated Japanese people. He did it because he thought it would end the war. And, while there’s controversy aplenty, there are solid reasons to believe that the bombing did end the war.
Moreover, Stewart is also specifically ignorant about the situation. Jon, we only had two bombs. Would Japan have surrendered after an offshore test? Are you willing to expend half your nuclear arsenal trying out that theory? There’s very good reason to doubt they would have surrendered even after Hiroshima.
People are praising Stewart for the interview in general, but I wasn’t terribly impressed—I’m usually not when he tries to play serious pundit. He muddles the arguments against torture and can’t really respond to much of what Cliff May is saying. I tuned out before I could hear if Stewart pointed out that MacArthur was insistent on humane treatment of Japanese prisoners—even after the horrors of Bataan.
Stewart is a funny guy and a good talk show host. He’s good at satire and getting in the occasional good point. But put him in a serious debate and he’s out of his element, Donnie.
Mental health break. Sort of.
It’s like they climbed into my brain and made a song about what they found there.
I’ve always played the fool around here
I had high hopes of silver and gold;
I got your cure right here
I turn this up as loud as it goes
I got your cure right here
I’m in a field of landmines
I got your cure right here
Captain Trips Reax
While Michelle Bachman is being her usual lunatic self (see Hal’s post below) the “Saner” Republicans are jumping on the Fortress America bandwagon:
Now this is just pure grandstanding, with perhaps more than a hint of immigrant bashing in the bargain. I doubt that Maverick would be saying the same thing if he were in office-as Obama noted, closing the borders now would be like closing the barn doors after the horses had been let out. The WHO seems to have the right response:
Now we come to Joe Biden, who, oddly, also makes sense in a general kind of way:
He’s not wrong here-if you can find another way to travel that puts you at less risk, or travel less, why not be better safe than sorry? Both of the responses from WHO and the nornally gaffe-prone Veep make more sense than close-the-borders hysteria.
Michele, My Dumb Belle
I know I tend to oscillate on the issue of “purging” the GOP. But that’s because I’m still thinking through where we need to go now that conservatism is in ruins as a political force. Can we rebuild a big tent with the Religious Right and the big-government neocons? Or is it time to smash everything to the ground and rebuild from scratch?
Up until recently, I favored the latter. This was especially true because the “purges” were aimed at “RINOs” like John McCain—one of the few real conservatives in the Senate. The big-government Religious Right didn’t want me and I didn’t want them.
But the game has changed over the last few months. The Obama presidency—or more precisely, the unfettered Democratic Congress—is turning out worse than I’d thought. For the moment, I’ll take votes against $17 trillion in debt from anyone. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to punch when someone defends Bush’s record or unfairly attacks Obama or says something stupid (as you’ll see below). But in purely practical terms, we need votes—even from the shitheads.
(I’ve been turning against “purges” for another reason. I’ve realized that the biggest problem with the GOP over the last eight years had not been RINOs or the Religious Right, but leadership. Reagan was able to get a conservative agenda through a mostly Democratic Congress. He did this by controlling his own party and compromising with the Democrats without surrendering his principles. Gingrich and Clinton were able to control spending with the same Congress that later went off the fiscal rails. They did this through compromise and through Gingrich controlling his own party. A well-lead GOP could effectively oppose Obama’s worst policies, even with that asshole Arlen Specter as their 41st vote. In the end, most politicians will follow any agenda as long as they can get re-elected. The exact same Congress that went on a Bush-lead spending binge could have reigned in spending just as effectively. But their leaders were uninterested, even after the 2006 thumping. I’m still not convinced that their opposition to Obama is anything but pig-headed partisanship. But, at this stage, I’ll take what I can get.)
On the other hand ...
There are the occasional GOPers that I wouldn’t mind seeing on the next rocket to Pluto. It’s not they are RINOs or that I’d rather have Democrats in their place. It’s that any time they open their mouth, I want to hide under a table. Rick Santorum was one. Taking his place is House Court Jester and hand-picked crony of James Dobson, Michele Bachmann. When not trying to figure out who is anti-American and who isn’t, she’s saying the dumbest things imaginable. Here she is, telling us the global warming is fake because CO2 is natural.
Um, Michele? Arsenic is natural too. So is sulphur dioxide, sulphuric acid, hydrochloric acid and blowfish poison. In fact, water is about as natural as you can get, but thousands of people still drown in it. There are many argument against global warming (and many more against liberal solutions to it), but “God made CO2” isn’t one of them.
Then there’s her latest and greatest—blaming Democrats for swine flu. Because, you see, the last time Swine flu broke out was in 1976 when that famous Democrat—Gerald Fucking Ford—was President. And since Obama is now President ... well, something.
I don’t want her purged from the GOP. As repugnant as she is, we need her votes on certain issues. But could someone please just stuff her into a closet and only let her out when we need a vote on something? Every time she speaks, I can feel the GOP losing support in other states.
And will the residents of Minnesota please replace her in the next primary with someone less insane? You fucking owe us, Minnesotans. You’ve just about inflicted Al Franken on us. You could easily find someone in her district with the same voting record and only 20% of the insanity.
Update: Today seems to be “Bash a Bachmann” day on the internet. She was also denouncing FDR for the “Hoot-Smalley” tarriff act. The real pain the ass? She’s actually right. Harding (not Coolidge) did respond successfully to a much sharper recession by rolling back government. And Hoover’s (not FDR’s) Smoot-Hawley act was one of the most economically disastrous moves in American history. But that salient point will be ignored by her mangling of history, reality and the English language.
No Debt Left Behind
Here’s the thing—most of what’s in the “Bill Of Rights” I have no problem with. Companies shouldn’t change interest rates with little notice and they should let someone set a hard limit on their card. I get angry when a company offers a 0% interest rate for six months and only lets you know in the micetype that they can change that at any time.
The difference is that I don’t want the Feds mandating this behavior. If for no other reason than the credit card companies will find some other way to make money. Or worse, people who have a sudden need for credit—because of medical emergencies or job loss or whatever—will borrow money from worse sources.
We’re seeing something similar with the bans on payday loans—the practice of borrowing small amounts of money against the lendee’s next paycheck. Payday loans are impossible to make on any reasonable interest rate. Even a $15 charge on a $100 paycheck loan is going to add up to 390% annual interest. I hate payday loans with a passion and do think the industry needs regulation as well as limits on what people can borrow for. But banning them can lead to worse options, such as loan sharks, pawn shops, late fees on credit cards or utilities, foreclosures, crime, etc. And in some places, they already are.
What are these limitations on credit cards going to lead to? Does anyone care? Or do they simply believe in their own divine ability to make the universe better by passing laws?
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
behind every blade of grass
In the run up to the election, many gun owners feeling that Obama would win, started purchasing firearms and ammunition in large quantities. We are now three months into Obamas first term, you got any idea how much has been bought my law abiding Americans? from AMMOLAND
THAT is a SHIT load of arms, im happy to report that im one of those that helped it reach that level.
Ill let the empty brass fall where it may on this.
however, Id say that Obama has most certainly helped on industry in this nation, just by getting elected.
Posting from yours truly will be a bit sporadic for the next two weeks thanks to some computer issues. On the menu today, immigration, and how it relates to the swine flu.
We’ve had our first death from the swine flu already. A seperate post about that whole can of worms would be very much justified. I am more interested in the immigration angle. Being a more libertarian site than many others in the conservative blogosphere, I am curious as to where our readership falls on the immigration issue generally. Does a potential pandemic change anyone’s minds as Malkin seems to hope?
For me, there are really three key questions at the heart of the debate overall.
1. What do you think about current legal immigration levels?
What’s your take?
1. Way too low. I think we should be taking in a lot more immigrants and the restrictions and red-tape barring legal immigration should be greatly relaxed. For its size the U.S. is way underpopulated.
Posted by The Contrarian on 04/29/09 at 06:15 PM in Polls and Surveys • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Republican Party Suicide Watch
At the risk of sounding like I’m quibbling (sorry, Jim) the meltdown of the GOP is continuing apace.
It should be noted that Huntsman has an 80% plus approval rating in his home state, which is not exactly a bastion of liberalism (outside of perhaps Salt Lake City). He’s the kind of Republican who could represent the Party’s future, if it still has one. But he is not opposed to civil unions, so of course he’s out. As Larison notes about another “Pure” Republican:
It’s this strange definition of winning which is driving the Republican party further and further from the mainstream-like those Japanese soldiers who refused to surrender after WW2, they cling to the belief that because they held out on “Principal” that somehow they’re morally victorious even though their ranks are dropping like flies with each passing day. As such, satire is now becoming reality:
Yeah, they’re “Winning,” all right. And the rest of us who used to consider ourselves Republicans can only shake our heads and watch the spectacle of a massive train wreck in action.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
So don’t $*#@%ing do it!
Shepard Smith explores the nuances of the ethical questions underlying the torture debate:
Posted by Aaron - Free Will on 04/28/09 at 10:15 PM in The Press Machine • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
The government and a health care fund now own a car company
You know...I realize that I should try to analyze this and have something to add, but every time I try, my brain just screams “WHAT THE FUCK?” WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK?”
WHAT. THE. FUCKING. FUCK? How is this even remotely acceptable to anyone except people who love gigantic, socialistic government and, of course, the union that is sucking the last drops of blood out of the industry.
It’s not even the UAW proper. It’s the fucking health care fund, THAT’S how out-of-control union health care costs are with regards to American car companies.
Why is everyone not extraordinarily angry about this? Are we reduced to quibbling about Arlen fucking Specter while this shit goes on right in front of our noses? I’m as guilty as anyone, but maybe it’s high time we checked ourselves. Stop buying into the media bullshit where stories get released as cover for what is really happening. This is big, and we should be angry.
So are you?
Posted by JimK on 04/28/09 at 08:35 PM in Decline of Western Civilization Health Care Politics • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Check Out The Stem Cells On Her
I think we now see why the Democrats were so insistent on stem cell research:
Now, I will grant that this is the British press, so it might not technically be true. But it would be ironic if stem cell research—which, of course, was only held back by the evil religious nutbag George Bush—produced bigger breasts as its first scientific breakthrough.
As amusing as the story is, there’s a problematic undercurrent. Put aside the moral question of stem cell research and concentrate on the politics. Once Bush restricted stem cell research, the left responded by embracing it, insisting that it had to be funded because, as far as I could tell, Michael J. Fox said so. They were not content to simply let scientific organizations decide whether stem cells were good or bad. They insisted it had to be funded. California devoted $3 billion to this specific endeavor. Fox, and others, targeted politicians for election or unelection based on their stance on stem cells.
But you can’t force the universe to do your bidding. Just because you want stem cell research to cure Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, doesn’t mean it will do so.
Now it’s still early. It’s possible that stem cells will produce some incredible breakthrough on Alzheimer’s. When Sal 11000 Beta was born, we preserved some of her cord blood just in case the stem cells within become useful one day. But whether stem cells research continues should be based on the scientific merit, not a mindless reverse politicization of the Bush policy.
Politicizing science your way is still politicization. As much credit as Obama is getting for much-ballyhooed speeches about funding and freeing science, he’s shown an ample ability to let politics affect science. Shutting down Yucca Mountain, pouring even more money into ethanol and mandating alternative energy is not liberating science; it’s chaining it in a different direction. And the results are likely to be even less satisfying than stem-cell boobs.
Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/28/09 at 06:48 PM in Science and Technology • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
For a guy who supposedly wasn’t all that important to begin with, Arlan Specter’s defection is generating quite a bit of reaction. Jonathan Chait compares today’s climate with the way things were during Clinton’s first term:
In other words, Obama seems to be doing to the Republicans what Reagan did to the Democrats-marginalizing them to the point of near irrelevancy (although they certainly haven’t needed help from him in that area). Speaking of which, Jim DeMint’s reaction seems to be indictive of their current mood:
Well, congratulations, Jim, because the way things are going you guys won’t even have those 30 seats within a few years. As Sullivan notes:
It’s a serious question, as the Republicans now seem to be what the Democrats were in the Fifties and early Seventies-a combination of provincial regionalism and fringe party politics. If Obama’s liberalism seems more acceptable and therefore more mainstream, it’s partly because the Republicans have made it so through their own self-destructive behavior.
Specter’s defection may not seem to mean a whole lot on the surface. After all, as Hal noted, he was old, he wanted to survive, so he jumped ship. But what about the future? Who will be able to run as a moderate Republican without the support of the party’s increasingly shrinking and radical base? Specter was right about one thing-it used to be a “Big Tent” party. Now it’s more like a sleeping bag.
A Quarter of A Penny For Your Thoughts
An illustration of Obama’s “spending cuts”:
I post this video not just because it nicely illustrated the paltry “cuts” Obama is enacting but because it illustrates the real budget problem—mandatory spending. Without changes to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, we simply can not get the budget under control. Obama’s plan is, from what I can tell, to control health care costs by massively increasing the federal healthcare commitment. Yeah. That’ll work.
Specter of the None
Arlen Specter is leaving the GOP. A few scattered thoughts.
First, I hope the people who blasted Specter for his stimulus vote are happy with the 60-seat Democratic majority. I’m sure Limbaugh and various bloggers will be saying “good riddance”. I understand that; I didn’t like the stimulus vote either. But while Specter is on the left side of the GOP, his vote could have held back some of the stupider ideas of the Obama Administration (card check, for example). I don’t know that he’ll vote against his new party out of principle.
This is the problem with wanting a “purge” of “moderate” members of the GOP. Eventually, there’s going to be no one left. GOP membership in polls is already down into the low 20’s. When you purge the left wing of the party, you have no chance of winning left-leaning states.
Second, this is a disaster for the GOP’s hopes of holding onto PA. Thanks to party affiliation changes and Specter’s name recognition, he is almost certain to win re-election. But Specter is also a 78-year-old cancer survivor. There is a chance he will not live out his term and 2016 will see a younger incumbent Democrat defending the seat.
Third, this has nothing to do with any principles Specter may or may not have. This is the same naked political calculation that led Lieberman to become an “independent”. It is highly likely that Specter would have lost the Republican primary—he says as much himself when he notes that 200,000 Pennsylvanians have switched parties recently. There’s no second chances in PA and he failed to get an open primary passed. He wants to stay in the Senate. And since the GOP threw him under a bus, he might as well return the favor.
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