December 23, 2012

I've Got Rocks In My Head

Or on my brain, rather. I'm not surprised that this graphic came from The Rachel Maddow Fan Page.
This one is pretty easily dispensed with, I think.

Why wouldn't it be a solution? Think about it for a second. If all those other responsible, law-abiding children on the playground had rocks to begin with, would the child in question still throw the rock? I think not. It's actually a pretty good solution. Sure we could threaten the naughty child with detention if he/she goes through with it, but then that poor other student still gets a rock upside the head. If we ban all rocks on the playground, then only children who don't obey the rules will have rocks...and not be afraid to use them. This seems much more preventative.

The Graphic That Broke The Camel's Back

Assuming I'm the camel, that is. I've been seeing a lot of friends and colleagues posting graphics on facebook lately that try to make some political point. I'm always disappointed because they are always posted by people I respect, and who are--most of the time--fairly intelligent people...and the posts are always horrible. They're often illogical, biased, and usually fall apart under the slightest scrutiny.

I've decided to cover some of them here. I don't usually respond to them on facebook, primarily because I work in a place where most people are on one side of the political aisle, and I'm usually on the other. Therefore, I don't advertise my politics most of the time. That said, while most of the ones I choose to cover will likely be from the left, because most of my graphic-posting facebook friends seem to be from that side, if I see an egregious one from the right, I have no problem covering it here.

I thought I'd start with this one, for no other reason than it was the one that finally made me say "enough!" It's in response to the NRA's suggestion that schools employ armed security in the wake of the incident at the Sandy Hook School in Connecticut.





My initial thought was "wait...didn't President Clinton provide funding for placing police officers in schools in the wake of Columbine?" (Hint: he did.) I only bring that up because the two friends who posted it were both Clinton supporters. But apart from noting the hypocrisy, I thought I'd examine it closer, to see if maybe there was a valid argument there.

Clearly, the insinuation is that an armed presence in a school would not prevent a mass killing there, since it was unable to prevent these. And that's pretty much the only point it's making.

All three of these statements are true. There is no arguing that. The problem arises when you look further into the circumstances behind each statement.

Columbine had an armed guard:
Deputy Neil Gardner was the deputy in question here, and most days he would eat his lunch in the cafeteria with the children, but on that day, in a stroke of bad luck, he was eating his lunch in his patrol car when the custodian radioed him to go to the back lot, where a female student had been shot. By the time he got there, the shooting was well underway, but even so, he engaged one of the killers for a few minutes, which may have given a few more students time to escape. Regardless, though, he was not inside the school, which really negates the implication made in the posting.

Virginia Tech had their own police dept.:
Again, true, but hardly comparable given the size of the campus (over 30,000 students on 2,600 acres) in relation to the size of a typical elementary, middle, or high school. Of course they'd have their own police dept. It's only slightly less populous than Virginia's most populous town, Blackburn. That's not the only context that makes the statement deceptive, though. The VA Tech shooting was odd in that two students were killed initially in one building, and then the shooter cleaned up, and two and a half hours later, chained himself inside another dorm across campus, where he killed 30 other people. The police were having a meeting about the first shootings, which they thought were a "domestic dispute," when the second set happened. "By the time officers arrived, the shooting had stopped and the gunman had killed himself, the chief said." This situation is really more akin to the problem of police response time in cities and towns, which would seem to me to be more supportive of the push to allow law-abiding citizens to carry guns to protect themselves. Virginia Tech was a gun-free zone, as were all three places referenced here, as well as the Aurora Theater in Colorado.

Ft. Hood was a military base:
One might forgive this one, because any normal person might assume that "hey, it's a military base! There are guns everywhere!" I won't bother making the tired joke about what happens when you "assume" something. As it turns out, Ft. Hood was--as I mentioned--a gun-free zone. Yes, they have weapons on the base, but "soldiers at Fort Hood don't carry weapons unless they are doing training exercises." Even the shooter's own weapons were not military issue. So for the third time, it turns out an armed presence was not in the actual building(s) where these horrific events took place, which completely belies the one and only point being made in the graphic.

I'm not above having a debate about how to make our schools safer, and whether or not we should have an armed presence in our schools*, but if we're going to have that debate, let's make sure it's not one based on intellectually dishonest information.

*I'm not quite sure where I stand on this issue. I find it a little sad that we would even have to consider placing armed guards in our schools, but on the other hand, there are two pieces of information that I keep thinking about. The first is that almost without exception, these kinds of killing take place in gun-free zones, where the killers are certain they won't be confronted with any opposing firepower until the police eventually show up, which can--literally--be a matter of life or death for some. The second is that anytime we have something of value, or something that we want to protect, what do we do? How do we protect banks? Armored cars (besides the armor, of course)? Even our government buildings, including the White House? We protect them with an armed presence. How can we not even consider protecting one of our most valuable resources--our children--that way? 

December 11, 2012

An Honest Question

In Lansing, Michigan, union members gathered to protest that state's adoption of "right-to-work" laws, which essentially means workers do not have to join a union and pay union dues to work. Unsurprisingly, violence erupted. Steven Crowder, a conservative blogger/comedian/etc. was questioning some of the workers about their views, as you can see in the video below. Some time later, union members began tearing down a tent belong to the group Americans for Prosperity. Crowder confronted them and asked them to stop, and at some point (the video is a little unclear) was attacked.


You see the union member in the video asked why he's against "right-to-work." He responds:

"...it's the freedom to freeload. They can suck all of the parasitical(?) benefits and our wages that unions have negotiated and they get it for free!"

So here's my question, to my left-leaning, union-supporting friends like that fellow:

How on earth is it that you can condemn those who don't want to join a union as "freeloaders," and support a president who reinforces freeloading by nearly half of the country when it comes to, say, Obamacare or any number of other entitlement programs?

Try this: "They can suck all of the health insurance benefits that our taxes have paid for and they get it for free!" Is the reasoning any different here?

Even liberal Mother Jones points out the dangers of "free riders":
 "Right-to-work allows those nonmembers to receive union representation without paying for it—unions deride those folks 'free-riders.' The result of right-to-work laws is that unions see their treasuries diminish and membership take a hit."

But "free riders" in national entitlement programs, who get representation without paying taxes?  Apparently that won't diminish our national treasury or lower the membership in the working class. Or so the left keeps saying.
 
I also noted that several liberal commentators used the word "fair," as in "if workers don't join a union, they should still have to pay equivalent fees, so that it's fair for all workers." It's funny how that word "fair" takes on a completely different meaning when those same commentators talk about taxation

I wish they would make up their minds.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I myself belong to a union. I think they've done some good for the workers, but in the main I resent them because I think they spent far too much time (and far too many resources) as an arm of the Democratic Party. Honestly, the workers have taken a back seat in terms of importance.

October 22, 2012

He LOOKS The Same, But...

Watching Obama talk about the last four years during this last debate, I find myself thinking: "it's too bad that guy wasn't president." It's almost like I was in an alternate universe.

This, of course, also made it knee-slappingly hysterical when Obama accused Romney of revising history. Ultimately, I thought both of them scored some points, but Obama occasionally seemed petulant and too focused on attacking Romney. Romney, for his part passed up--I thought--a number of opportunities to score a knockdown.

It was pretty close to a draw, which means Romney wins. The incumbent should always have a foreign-policy advantage. Here, Obama didn't seem to. The challenger needs to seem "presidential" enough to warrant the vote. I think Romney accomplished that.

Also, the way Obama was occasionally staring at Romney? It seemed like he was trying to make Romney's head explode with just the power of his mind. That kinda creeped me out.

September 26, 2012

This Is What Makes Me Weep

What's wrong with this picture?

"Hey, did you see that one of our ambassadors, along with three other diplomats, was murdered in Libya?"
"Huh....nope. Didn't see that. That's a shame."

"Hey, did you see that last play of the Packers-Seahawks game?"
"JESUS CHRIST, WHAT A TRAVESTY THAT WAS!! SOMEBODY OUGHT TO FIRE THOSE GODDAMN REFS AND THEN DRIVE OVER TO THAT ASSHAT GOODELL'S HOUSE AND BURN THE THING TO THE GROUND!! THAT WAS FUCKIN' BULLSHIT!!"

July 30, 2012

"Well, I Didnt WANT To Say That."

I wish that some of the writers out there would learn the difference between the terms "said" and "meant." For example, Greg Sargent, over at The Washington Post, who just posted an op-ed titled "Why Romney Keeps Attacking Things Obama Didn't Say." It's one thing to argue that Obama's "you didn't build that" quote means this or that, in which case you'd have to admit that if it means anything other than what the Romney camp is implying it means, then the Great Orator...well, screwed up. He could have said, for example, "you didn't build that on your own." Three simple words. Problem solved. What you can't do, however, is argue that's not what he said. He did. Period.

This is also not a situation in which the words have somehow changed. For example, Romney's quote "I like being able to fire people," an endorsement of accountability in private enterprise over lack of accountability in government, somehow (gee, I wonder how) became "I like firing people," as though he took glee in the actual deed. (Go ahead, Google "Romney I like firing people" and see how many people changed the wording.)Here, the words are actually changed, thereby distorting the meaning.

In Obama's case, as I said, you'd have an argument if he had said "you didn't build that on your own," and they cut out the last three words. But he didn't, and they didn't. And can we dispense with the bullshit idea that his "that" somehow referred to the "bridges and roads"? That doesn't even make grammatical sense. You'd have to say "those" because of the plural antecedent.

 So go ahead and argue what the words mean if you want, but what team Obama still hasn't addressed is who else deserves the credit for that business. I've pointed out before that he "borrowed" this idea from Elizabeth Warren, who was much more artful (and specific):

There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did. 

The thing she doesn't define, though, is "the rest of us," just as Obama doesn't say who the "someone else" is. The truth is that if you're going to talk about things built by the government, "the rest of us" must be "taxpayers," which means she's ultimately implying that about half the country is not really responsible for the country. It also--ironically--means that the people she's proposing raising the taxes on because they weren't responsible for building roads, etc., are the very same people whose taxes are responsible for...building roads, etc.

Just take government out of the equation altogether. If instead of having those business owners pay taxes to the government, which then used that money for various programs, the businesspeople used their own money directly for those same programs, would anybody question if they were dependent on someone else? It's like arguing that people who donate to charities should acknowledge that they're not solely responsible for those donations--the charity and the charity recipients also deserve some credit. The former because they collected and dispersed the money, and the latter because...well, because they're also people, I guess. The problem is, you could still have charitable donations without charities or recipients, but without the donors, the other two are sunk. And I think, ultimately, that's what's so disappointing (and revealing) to so many people about what Obama said/meant: he gets it backwards. What he ought to be doing instead of reminding taxpayers that they wouldn't succeed without government, is acknowledging that government wouldn't exist without taxpayers.

UPDATE: It's an interesting illustration of bias, I think when you look at the fact that over at Politicfact, Team Romney's claim that Obama said "You didn't build that" (which he did)? "False!" The claim that Romney likes firing people (which is not what he said)? Ehhhh..."mostly false."

Fourth Time Gutsy!

Hey, remember when President Obama suggested that Mitt Romney wouldn't have made that "gutsy call" to kill Osama Bin Laden? Of course you do--he even put out an ad about it

It starts out by saying "The Commander-in-Chief gets one chance to make the right decision." As it turns out, according to The Daily Caller, that's not always true. In a book by Richard Miniter, it's claimed that

At the urging of Valerie Jarrett, President Barack Obama canceled the operation to kill Osama bin Laden on three separate occasions before finally approving the May 2, 2011 Navy SEAL mission.

Apparently, this Commander-in-Chief gets four chances to make the right decision.

July 26, 2012

Makeup!!

Thanks to Milton Berle for the title.


I've been thinking about changing the look a little, so bear with me as I try out a few different templates. Let me know what you think!

Reason vs Force

There are few things in this world more deadly than a marine and his weapon. (Except maybe botulism...look at the blog title, people!) This particular marine makes a succinct, matter-of-fact argument about why private ownership of guns is important. I'm reprinting it here in its entirety, just in case the original page ever goes down, but here's the original link.

"The Gun Is Civilization"

By Maj. L. Caudill USMC (Ret)


Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and
force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that's it.

In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact
through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.

When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use
reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force.

The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on
equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gang banger, and a single guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.

There are plenty of people who consider the gun as the source of bad
force equations. These are the people who think that we'd be more civilized if all guns were removed from society. But, a firearm makes it easier for an armed mugger to do his job. That, of course, is only true if the mugger's potential victims are mostly disarmed either by choice or by legislative fiat - it has no validity when most of a mugger's potential marks are armed.

People who argue for the banning of arms ask for automatic rule by the
young, the strong, and the many, and that's the exact opposite of a civilized society. A mugger, even an armed one, can only make a successful living in a society where the state has granted him a force monopoly.

Then there's the argument that the gun makes confrontations lethal that
otherwise would only result in injury. This argument is fallacious in several ways. Without guns involved, confrontations are won by the physically superior party inflicting overwhelming injury on the loser.

People who think that fists, bats, sticks, or stones don't constitute
lethal force, watch too much TV, where people take beatings and come out of it with a bloody lip at worst. The fact that the gun makes
lethal force easier, works solely in favor of the weaker defender, not the stronger attacker. If both are armed, the field is level.

The gun is the only weapon that's as lethal in the hands of an
octogenarian as it is in the hands of a weight lifter. It simply would not work as well as a force equalizer if it wasn't both lethal and easily employable.

When I carry a gun, I don't do so because I am looking for a fight, but
because I'm looking to be left alone. The gun at my side means that I cannot be forced, only persuaded. I don't carry it because I'm afraid, but because it enables me to be unafraid. It doesn't limit the actions of those who would interact with me through reason, only the actions of those who would do so by force. It removes force from the equation. And that's why carrying a gun is a civilized act !!

By Maj. L. Caudill USMC (Ret.)


So the greatest civilization is one where all citizens are equally armed and can only be persuaded, never forced !!



Remember freedom is not free.

Semper Fi

It's All Greek To Me

So one of the Greek athletes, a triple jumper by the name of Voula Papachristou, was kicked of her country's olympic team for a tweet that many found offensive.
Her offending message – which was referring to reports of mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus in her home country – read: ‘With so many Africans in Greece, at least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat home made food!’
Here's the thing--it's not really funny, and it does deal with racial issues (I guess, anyway. She doesn't really specify Black Africans, and I don't know the racial makeup of Greece, but maybe there's some other racial thing here that I'm not getting. Anybody know?), but I'm not sure it rises to the level of sending her home.

I'm a believer in free speech, and while what she said was stupid, if countries start sending home Olympians for stupid, assholish behavior, it's going to be a really short competition.

One last point--there won't be a moment of silence to mark the murder of the '72 Israeli athletes on this anniversary. This, in my view, is a much more offensive act that a young athlete's mindless tweet.

July 24, 2012

Movin' On Up

To that deluxe apartment in the sky. RIP to a wonderful actor, who made one of the grouchiest men on television loveable--Sherman Hemsley.

The Rings...My Precious!

Yet another chink in the AGW armor?


For something on which the science is supposed to be settled, there seems to be a lot of "unsettling" information coming to light--the Argo data, satellite temperature readings, the rise of challengers to the IPCC, and now this.

July 23, 2012

What About A Little "Un-Foolish" Consistency?

Right now, I'm a pro-choice guy. But I'm consistent with that view. If you want to take drugs? Go ahead. Thins the herd, I say. You want to jump off a building? I wish you wouldn't, but I sure don't want hard-working rescue people risking their lives trying to stop you. You want to own a gun? That's your right, I say. But I'm not sure everyone else (especially that group I'm going to discuss in a minute) is all that consistent.

Take those people now arguing for stricter gun laws, or--at the extreme--for getting rid of them altogether. I could certainly understand how reasonable people could disagree over this issue. As I said to someone recently, "I think we all agree on our goal--the reduction of violence. We just disagree on how to accomplish it." But what I don't quite get is the inconsistency when it comes to the reasoning of said people. Specifically: I am not going to listen to your argument about how we should get rid of guns because too many lives are lost until you show that same concern about the subject of abortion. Period. You can argue that we don't have a Constitutional right to them, or some such, but don't try to mask your argument in concern for human life, unless you're going to extend that concern to all human life.

Try reading this:

"We should get rid of guns. They exist for no other reason than to kill human beings. Thousands die from guns every year. How many deaths are enough? People have all sorts of arguments about why people should be able to have guns, but do any of them overcome the taking of even one life?"

Now go back through it and replace "guns" with "abortion."

The logic doesn't change much, does it? And for the most part, the change is seamless. The one difference, I guess, is that you'd have to change "thousands die" to "over a million die." Why did I choose to compare these two? As I said, I'm a pro-choice guy. But across the board. However, it should come as no surprise to you that the same people who are pushing so hard for stricter gun control are the same ones who staunchly defend the right to have an abortion. And that, I can't understand. As I pointed out, a lot of the thinking is the same. For example, isn't one of the reasons for supporting legalized abortion that it prevents the dangers of illegal ones, which will happen anyway? And isn't that the same argument made for keeping guns legal--that criminals are going to get them anyway?

I just want some consistency, people.

So, This Means I Can Pay Next Year's Tax Bill In Cheers?

ThinkProgress tries to make a comparison between President Obama claiming business owners aren't responsible for those businesses, and Mitt Romney making a speech to the 2002 Winter Olympians.

Obama:
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.


Romney:
You Olympians, however, know you didn’t get here solely on your own power. For most of you, loving parents, sisters or brothers, encouraged your hopes, coaches guided, communities built venues in order to organize competitions. All Olympians stand on the shoulders of those who lifted them. We’ve already cheered the Olympians, let’s also cheer the parents, coaches, and communities.

The comparison between Mitt Romney's speech to Olympians, and President Obama's speech would be a completely valid one...if Romney was asking those Olympians to give up the gold from their medals.

She Haas Me At @ihaas

Okay, I'll admit it--I'm completely smitten with Ingrid Haas. You might know her from the cross-country ATT commercial (see below), which is now my favorite commercial...although I generally hate them, so being my favorite isn't all that hard, I guess. Anyway, she has a new, improved look on her website, so check it out. But beware--those dimples are like black holes. You may never leave.


You can also follow her on Twitter at @ihass (which accounts for my tortured movie reference of a headline).

July 22, 2012

Let's (Not) Go To The Videotape...

Democratic stalkers. Wow. Did they learn nothing from the Giffords' incident? This crosses a line. If I were one of those Democrats up for re-election this year, I would get my ass in front of the cameras as fast as I could to denounce this type of thing.

Also, good for you, Whoopi:
Even ultraliberal talk-show host Whoopi Goldberg said she thinks her side of the aisle has gone too far. “I only think that’s valid if you yourself, Democratic people, are showing your houses and your families,” Miss Goldberg said on ABC’s “The View” on Monday. “Families are off-limits. Showing where somebody lives is off-limits. What the hell is wrong with y’all?”

I should also point out that Roll Call lists 7 Democrats among the top 10 richest members of Congress. Given that, and that nearly 50% of Congress happen to be millionaires, is this really a tactic the Democrats want to go with?

July 21, 2012

Farleigh-Dickinson Poll Finds Dems Less Informed Than Republicans

 I've been wanting to write a post about the recent Farleigh-Dickinson poll, but haven't gotten around to it until now. I distrust polls in general, because when you start breaking them down, there's almost always some kind of bias inherent in them. The one in question is no exception. (Otherwise, why would I bother, right?) It proffers the claim that people who watch only Fox news are less informed than people who watch no news at all.

Well, they don't come right out and say that, but as you can imagine, that's what most of the liberal media and bloggers latched onto. For example, here's the headline at The Huffington Post:

And this one from The Nation:

It’s Official: Watching Fox Makes You Stupider
Of course, I have to point out that The Nation's headline is just factually incorrect. Even if the poll does find Fox News viewers to be least informed, a) being informed and intelligence are two different things, and b) correlation is not causation, and the poll shows no causation. Anyway, you get the idea. Most on the left were drooling over this. But maybe not so much by the time I'm finished...


There are a couple of problems I saw right off the bat. The sample is pretty small to represent the entire nation (1,185), and it does have a MOE of +/- 3%. I would also venture that most people would admit that among the cable news networks, Fox leans right and MSNBC leans left. Yet they include self-described Democrats who watch Fox and Republicans who watch MSNBC, with no indication of why those people were watching a channel they—at least on the surface—are opposed to ideologically. I think that’s important if you’re going to look at whether or not they’ve “learned” from watching. For example, if someone is watching for a news “watchdog” group, they’re watching for incidents of bias, not necessarily watching to glean information.  Should those numbers be included with these statistics? For example, on both international and domestic questions, conservatives watching Fox news scored better than "no news."

But more importantly, if you’re going to accept this as a valid examination of knowledge of current events, you’re going to also have to accept a few of the numbers that they buried. For example:
  1. There are eight questions (nine if you count the a & b parts of K6). On all but two of them (K1, K3, K4, K5, K6B, K7, and K8), a higher percentage of Democrats than Republicans answered that they “don’t know” the answer. On the other two (K2 and K6A), it was a tie.
  2. A higher percentage of Democrats than Republicans got 0 domestic questions correct, and got 0 international questions correct.
  3. A higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats (52%-45%) got 4 or more questions correct.
  4. Finally, on every single question, a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats chose the correct answer (unless I missed one myself, but you can easily follow the link and check me).
Given that a higher percentage of Democrats "don’t know" the answers to these questions, a higher percentage of Republicans got at least half of the questions correct, and—when looking at individual questions—a higher percentage of Republicans got the correct answer on every question, if one argues that this poll is an accurate representation of knowledge of current events, doesn’t one also have to then accept that when looking at their respective groups, Republicans are better informed about current events than Democrats? What other choice is there? If the numbers are valid in one case, they must be valid in the other.

Obviously, I’m being a little facetious about this (hence my own biased headline), but that’s the problems with this type of poll: people can twist the numbers into whatever conclusion they want them to reflect. At least until someone else comes through and twists them another way. You might say, those who live by the statistics die by the statistics. Or maybe better said, those who live by the statistics must live by ALL the statistics.

The More, The Maher-ier

I've noticed that after four years, my number one page in terms of hits is still the one asking when did Bill Maher become such an asshole? Apparently he really pisses people off. Although I can't speak for the masses, I can tell you why he pisses me off. It's not just that he's gotten much less funny and much more bitter over the years. It's not that much of the time he's just flat-out wrong with the "facts" he spews. It's that when he does shoot his mouth off, most of the time without any kind of support, he's so damn smug about it. And since he's usually doing it in a monologue, there really isn't anyone there to challenge him. So he has all the righteous condescension of the gold medalist in a one-person race. But hey, I support his First Amendment right to lie his ass off, but I also support my First Amendment right to call him a giant douchenozzle.

Anyway, here's a couple of other people taking him to task, and doing it much more eloquently than I.

To Answer Bill Maher's Question of What Has Obama Done to Make Conservatives Angry.

Tea Party Understands Economics Better Than Obama or Bill Maher. (This one's a must read.)


July 19, 2012

Un-Truth Team?

Here's a little re-cut I made of Obama's latest ad. Everything in here was in the original, which can be found here.

video

Maher-Ginalizing The Left

Apparently, this is what passes for insightful commentary on the left these days:

Maher pontificates in that smug, condescending manner of his, and hopes, I guess, that people won't call him on his bullshit. (I suppose if you do so on your own show, with a friendly audience and guests, that's probably true.)

Unfortunately for Bill, the reality isn't "simple." The problem is that taxes have already been signed into law; they just haven't taken effect yet. Here are 21 of them. You'll notice that two that have already kicked in--taxes on tanning and smoking--are clearly behaviors only practiced by the super-wealthy. (Actually, if these taxes remain, you'll probably be able to read that sentence without the slightest hint of the sarcasm with which I wrote it.)

We can argue all day long about whether those are worthwhile taxes or not, but the fact is that they exist. Maher trying to distract you with a silly hat doesn't change that.

I suppose he could argue that those taxes don't count because he's talking about what taxes did, not what they're going to do. To that, I would remind him that paying a woman for sex afterwards instead of beforehand doesn't make her any less of a hooker.

And finally, I have to admit that I don't know just when he said this. It may have been before Obamacare (which contains most of the taxes) was passed. If that's the case, I'm sure he corrected his statement once it was passed, right?

P.S.: The cost isn't exactly improving, either, as this image from The Washington Times makes clear.

Aw, Nuts! Part Two!

The (Cheap) Shot Heard Round The World

Despite my thinking I was done talking about this one, looks like it's not going away:

"Obama has hitched his wagon to an alien ideology touted by a tainted candidate who might be too liberal even for Massachusetts.

I don’t think this is going away. It is a theme handed to Romney on a silver platter, a silver platter built, of course, on roads the rest of us paid for.

It is a game changer. And we have Elizabeth Warren to thank for it."
If you take a cheap shot at those who have built, and continue to build, our nation, you've gotta expect to take some heat for it. After all, you work for us, and insubordination is a fire-able offense.

Aw, Nuts!

This is, I believe, the very definition of "adding insult to injury."

"Man shoots his own genitals, goes to jail"

Okay, So I Was Wrong About The "Last Words" Part Of The Last Post...

But this--from Jon Lovitz--was too good to pass up:

My First--And Last--Words On The "Nobody Does It Alone" Speech (Probably)

I'm not sure what to make of Obama's speech, in which he downplays the importance of the business entrepreneur in...well, in creating the business. It's a little like downplaying the chef in creating the meal--sure, the owner provided the space, but without the chef, you've just got a room full of hungry people.

Two things that I think stood out were the fact that he more or less cribbed it from Elizabeth Warren, and that he was off the teleprompter when he did so. The former makes him seem a little (a lot?) unoriginal, and the latter makes him seem a little reckless. At least it wasn't one of his "go-fuck-yourself-San-Diego-Anchorman" gaffes, like the time he introduced people twice because the teleprompter told him to.


The big problem I have, though, is with his logic. Follow along with me, won't you?

1) Obama cites roads and bridges, created by government, as being partly responsible for the success of businesses. The logic here is that those two structures facilitated the acts of your going to work, transporting supplies and merchandise, etc., and resulted in the success of your company.

2) Each year around 40,000 people die in auto accidents on America's roadways. A few more commit suicide by jumping from a bridge. (About 20 a year just from The Golden Gate Bridge alone.)

3) Those roads and bridges certainly facilitated those deaths, at least as much as they facilitated those businesses Obama was talking about.

4) By Obama's logic, since government was responsible for those roads and bridges, and those roads and bridges were partly responsible for those deaths, then the government is partly responsible for those deaths!

And there are a number of other horrible things we could attribute to the government, using Obama's standard. The serial killer who picks up his victims by the side of the government-built road, and then transports them elsewhere? Government helped do that. What about mass shootings, such as Columbine? Those government-built public schools brought all those targets together in one place, under little security. According to Obama, Klebold and Harris didn't do that themselves.

Now, obviously, I don't believe the government was responsible for those events. I only bring them up to illustrate my point. My conclusion is ridiculous, but I hope you'll see by comparison that the president's is equally so. And you can't simply separate the two by claiming that the bad events don't count. If they count for the good, they must count for the bad.

One other thing I have to point out: the government doesn't actually have any of its own money. You know where it gets it from? Taxes. You know who pays taxes? Wealthy entrepreneurs. Well, not all of them, but the top 20% (average income of $273,000), pay about 67% of total federal income taxes. So while Obama implies that "government" built those roads and bridges? It's really the financially successful entrepreneurs who built them.

So be sure to thank those people come November. You know how.

Location, Location, Location


So...what you're saying is that Bain is kinda like Bill Ayers' house and Reverend Wright's church?

July 14, 2012

Wait, Have You Ever Actually SEEN "Star Trek"?

My sister just sent me a link to Gail Collins' newest op-ed column in the New York Times. I have to hand it to her--in a short amount of space, Collins manages to get most of the Democratic talking points in, and even manages to make a (somewhat tortured and unfunny) "Star Trek" joke. The main thrust of the column is that it is very confusing that somehow Romney was in charge of Bain Capital, but at the same time, not responsible for its results. I find this somewhat funny, because I would have thought Democrats would have no trouble understanding this, since President Obama has been in charge of the country for nearly four years, and yet he seems to take no responsibility for the results of that period.

The other main thing I noticed was that Collins pointed out that maybe Romney should release 10 years of tax returns, and that that would satisfy the Democrats. She's probably right, because look how satisfied they were when Obama released his school records, his health records, and the documents that could shed light on who was responsible for the deadly Fast & Furious gunwalking scandal...oh, wait.

July 10, 2012

It's Very Simple, Really...

I'm getting a little tired of the "it's all political showmanship" argument regarding the Fast & Furious scandal. Do Republicans benefit from the hearings? Absolutely. But that's an effect of the program, not a cause. The Republicans didn't make the administration hand out guns like they were lollipops. The Republicans didn't decide not to track them. It's not the Republicans fault that the guns were used to kill hundreds of people. Holder and the administration are in this mess because they put themselves there with bad decisions. The fact the the GOP benefits from that is besides the point.

And if someone wants to argue that the whole thing "isn't a big deal," ask them one simple question:

If this were any other group, would you still argue that?

That is, if we were to find out that some American corporation somewhere sold guns to foreign drug dealers, and that those guns were later responsible for the deaths of several hundred foreign nationals as well as a U.S. Border Patrol agent, shouldn't we pursue any and all avenues to find out who was responsible for those guns getting into foreign hands, and make sure he or she receives just punishment? Because you can bet your ass if it were to happen that way, the same people who are now saying "move along, nothing to see here" would be trumpeting this to the rooftops as a national tragedy and calling for tougher gun laws.

The hypocrisy is even more glaring if you take a more personal view. If I get liquored up one night, and the next morning they find the DNA of 300 dead Mexicans and a dead Border Patrol agent in the grill of my car, and the DA happens to disagree with me politically, it's not a political witch hunt when he prosecutes me; he's simply doing his job.

June 30, 2012

Sloppy Secondscare?

I'm not a fan of Romney's, as those who know me personally will attest. I do think he's the lesser of two evils, though, so I'm about to defend him. I've noticed one of the new Democratic talking points after the Obamacare decision is that Romney is a poor person to carry the message against Obamacare since he created Romneycare in Massachusetts. I feel just the opposite--I think he's one of the best people to do so. Who better to point out the flaws in Obamacare than the person who has experienced them firsthand? For example, if you're a football player heading into the Super Bowl, who would you expect to get he best advice from--a player who's never been, or one who has, even if that trip wasn't a successful one?

If I were writing up the GOP talking points, that's how I would try to shape that message, anyway. Point out the differences in the two, and point out that your candidate is not only qualified, but uniquely qualified to elaborate on Obamacare's pitfalls.

Enrico Palazzo! Enrico Palazzo!

Chief Justice Roberts--I'm not buying that he's an evil genius and that somehow this is actually a win for Republicans (and non-republicans like me who are strongly against Obamacare). I think it's a huge loss. I think it's a horrendous decision, one that may speed up the bankrupting of our country, and I'm not sure what was going through his mind. He may have succeeded in putting restraints on the Commerce Clause, but as others have pointed out, what difference does that make if he gave them the power to do essentially the same thing through levying taxes? Others have speculated that he may have been trying to preserve the image of the Court. Again, I don't think so, but if that's the case, then I'm even more dismayed. The Court's job is to interpret law, not to worry about politics or their image. It's the reason that they have life terms, so as not to be swayed by those things.

Roberts said he was going to be like an umpire, calling balls and strikes, but I feel like what he did was to see a ball coming and change the strike zone, in order to "legitimately" call it a strike.

BTW: anybody know the film reference in the title?

June 29, 2012

Que Suri, Suri

So Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are getting divorced, which is strange because they seemed like the most dedicated couple in the compound. Even after the restraints and electrodes were removed.

It was Holmes who filed the papers. Must be she wants to focus on her movie career and walking around untethered.

June 28, 2012

It's All In How You Write It

This headline just in:

Racist Democrats Don't Care About Dead Hispanics, Walk Out On Attempt To Bring Those Responsible To Justice.

Over 100 Democrats walked out today as Congress attempted to bring contempt charges against Eric Holder, a man who has been withholding documents that could show just who is responsible for providing weapons responsible for the death of over 200 Mexicans, as well as that of a U.S. Border Agent. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had this to say about her choice not to pursue justice for the dead: "I thought it was so wrong that there was no question to take the opportunity to vote no."

In a letter released urging others to join them, those who participated in the walkout called the series of votes "appalling."

Now, clearly, I'm being facetious here, but does anybody think that we wouldn't be reading mainstream media headlines and stories exactly like this one if this administration had been a Republican one? Yes, I'm talking to you, MSNBC.

June 22, 2012

Also, Stay Out Of My Yard

So some communities (in this specific case, Middleborough, MA) are talking about fining people for swearing. To those communities, I say "go fuck yourself."

Seriously, though. This worries me. First of all, you have the question of what constitutes "profanity." You must have a list of forbidden words, otherwise, you're leaving it in the hands of law enforcement to decide, which I think is a dangerous precedent. In other words, if an officer doesn't like what you're saying, even if it's not creating a danger, you could be ticketed. If you do create a list of profane words, that seems to be in direct violation of the First Amendment, does it not? Not to mention that you then run into the problem of worrying about determining intent. Is a dog walker yelling "cut that shit out" to his dog the same as him saying "excuse me while I pick this shit up"?

There is no right to not be offended. In fact, in any truly free society, you are almost guaranteed to be offended at some point. That's just how it works. It is unfortunate that some people can't control their mouths, and curse publicly. But that's all it is--unfortunate. It's not illegal, nor should it be. I will say, though, that I would get behind this law if the "quality of life" aspect was applied universally. For example, go ahead and ticket those who swear in public and detract from my quality of life. But you know who else you have to ticket? The parents of those brats who scream at the top of their lungs in public. Now, I'm not talking about infants. They can't help it. I'm talking about the 5-11 year-olds who scream like they're being murdered when a) they can't have something they want, b) they're playing, or c) any other time. That's affecting MY "quality of life." I'd much rather listen to (and be less offended by, frankly) someone working up a good cussing, especially if he knows what he's doing, than some snot-nose who is just creating noise pollution. These parents ought to be held responsible. Yeah, fine, you've learned to tune your kids out. But why should I have to?

And if the kids who live in your neighborhood are anything like the kids who live in mine, the revenue generated could possibly single-handedly save the economy.

N.B.

Actually, the more I've thought about it, the more violators I've come up with:
  1. People who keep the bass in their cars so loud you can hear it through the walls in your house as they drive by,  because, apparently, they like their music so much they just can't help but share.
  2. Motorcycle drivers who feel the need to rev their engines, even though they're not actually in a race of any kind. Dude, you've got 50 feet to the stop sign on a 30 mph, residential street. This is not the time to be compensating for your small penis.
  3. People who use their outdoor voice for...well, for pretty much everything. This seems to happen most often in places like Wal-Mart, and it's always the most idiotic people. You never see some nuclear physicist doing this. "THE HEISENBERG UNCERTAINTY PRINCIPLE STATES THAT A SUBATOMIC PARTICLE'S POSITION AND MOMENTUM CANNOT BE MEASURED SIMULTANEOUSLY WITH A HIGH DEGREE OF ACCURACY!" Then, at least, I might learn something.

Feel free to add more to the list..

June 20, 2012

A Shameless Request

My friend Angela is in the running to be one of Maxim magazine's "hometown hotties." Now Angela certainly is a hottie, but she's also a great person, and I'd love to see her win this one. All you have to do to help her out is to click on the link below and then click "vote for me." You can vote every day until the contest is over. Go Angela!!

Vote for Angela, the hottest of the hometown hotties!


June 13, 2012

Yes We Can (And Still Have 130 Characters Left)!

From the L.A. Times:
President Obama said last week that the Republican message could fit on a bumper sticker. On Tuesday, he brought that classic political dig into the 21st century.

“You can pretty much put their campaign on a tweet and have some characters to spare,” Obama told a group of donors at a fundraiser in Maryland.

Ha ha! What an excellent burn! Everyone knows you can't get elected by using messages of as little as 21 characters or even 10 characters!

March 17, 2012

Just To Be Fair...

I don't want to sound like I'm slamming actors in general (see post below). To be fair, I want to point to George Clooney. Now, I first have to say that I disagree with him, politically, on just about everything. But I do respect him. By all accounts, he is polite and respectful to those with whom he disagrees, and he seems--to me, at least--to be a fairly nice guy. But what really impresses me about him is that he puts his Clooney where his mouth is. If you haven't heard by now, Clooney was arrested today outside the Sudanese embassy while protesting the atrocities perpetrated by the Sudanese government upon its own people (something Mr. Clooney and I agree on). It's one thing to narrate a video, or donate a portion of your wealth to a political candidate or SuperPAC, but it's another to sit yourself down, get arrested and booked to draw attention to the problem. That's not to say that he (or any of us) couldn't get even more involved, but it's more than most do.

UPDATE: According to the article linked to above, Clooney has himself traveled to the region. Good for him. I should have read all the way through before writing the post. Oops.

Blessed Are The Starchmakers!

I've always thought Tom Hanks was a fairly decent guy, and played his political cards close to the vest. However, I recently saw some clips from the new Obama campaign video, and I was literally speechless as I heard Hanks narrate:

"Not since the days of Franklin Roosevelt had so much fallen on the shoulders of one president."

WHAT?!

Yes, that's right--no president in the last 65 years has had to deal with any significant hardships. Unless, of course, you count Truman having to decide whether or not to destroy two Japanese cities to end World War II. Oh, and the Korean War. I guess we can also dismiss JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis. That's the one that brought us within a couple of miles of World War III, in case you were confusing it with some other Cuban Missile Crisis. And pshaw to LBJ and Nixon, who only had to deal with Vietnam abroad and the Civil Rights Movement at home. Carter had a fairly shitty economy and an arguably worse oil situation. (Anyone remember those gas lines?) Reagan? Two words: Cold War. George H.W. had the invasion of Kuwait, and George W. certainly didn't have anything falling on his shoulders, and certainly didn't have it happen on September 11, 2001. But other than that, I guess Hanks is probably right. Once you disregard nearly every president since FDR, he's spot on. (And I want it noted for the record that I resisted the obvious Clinton-Lewinsky joke regarding so much falling on his shoulders.)

A little farther on in the video, I caught this little gem:

"And when he faced his country, who looked to him for answers, he would not dwell in blame, or dreamy idealism."

Again, I say...wait for it....

WHAT?!

That's pretty much all he fucking did! I mean, his campaign slogan was "HOPE and CHANGE," for God's sake! You know, "change" from that shitty situation he kept blaming his predecessor for, and "hope" as in that dreamy idealism he's supposedly not dwelling in. I suppose they had to use an actor to narrate as actors might be the only ones who can say lines like these without actually laughing out loud.

Still, someone needs to tell Tom Hanks that just because he says something in his earnest-y actor's voice, doesn't make it mean shit. I mean, he's not Morgan Freeman. That man could start a new religion by reading his laundry instructions. "It's important to make sure to put plenty of starch on the shirts...."* Next thing you know, people are running around carving "Blessed are the Starchmakers" onto stone tablets, and smiting those wearing wrinkly shirts.

* It's important to read this in Morgan Freeman's voice.

February 10, 2012

That's Low, George. Solo.

George Lucas has come forward to set the record straight for all those of you who were wondering--Greedo shot first. Of course some of us weren't wondering. I was one of the many who saw it in the theater when it fist came out. Lucas can talk about his intentions until the Death Star flotsam reaches the outer ridges of that galaxy far, far away, but what was there on the screen was large as life and pretty damn clear. Han shot first. Greedo didn't shoot at all.

Now I don't know why Lucas continues to fuck with his films. Honestly, I don't. If I had to make a guess, I'd say it was something psychological, some form of OCD. Or maybe it's just because he can. Whatever the reason, it doesn't matter. I'd even argue that Lucas' "intentions" don't matter. I've heard people argue that they're his movies, so what he says goes. But that's not entirely true, in my opinion. When an artist creates art, he can tweak it and fix it and reinterpret it as much as he wants privately, but once he puts it out there, it belongs--at least in part--to the public. If Leonardo was alive today, we wouldn't let him and his paintbrush back into the Louvre because he suddenly realized the Mona Lisa should have had bigger tits.

Authorial intent certainly means something, but it doesn't mean everything. If I write a short story, and you get something out of it besides what I intended you to, then good for you. It doesn't mean you're wrong, and it doesn't mean I've failed in writing my story. Lucas claims we shouldn't see Han as a "cold-blooded killer," but that just shows how distant he's become from these characters, because I'm betting that no one ever saw Han as that. After all, Greedo had his pistol pointed at Han, and had just told him that he was going to enjoy killing him! That's not cold-blooded; that's self-defense. Or look at it this way--if we see that scene as Han being "cold-blooded," what are we to make of Han swooping in out of nowhere during the final battle to destroy the TIE fighter that never fired a shot at him? Isn't that the equivalent of shooting someone in the back? Now, of course he was defending his friend, so we don't fault him, just like we don't fault him when he shot Greedo. First.

One last thought: even if you believe that Lucas has the right to "clarify" his original intentions for the character, it still doesn't change things. Lucas apparently forgot that he had a script. That's the thing about having stuff written down--it makes it pretty easy to see what those original intentions were. This is from the script:

GREEDO: Going somewhere, Solo?

HAN: Yes, Greedo. As a matter of fact, I was just going to see your boss. Tell Jabba that I've got his money.

Han sits down and the alien sits across from him holding the gun on him.

GREEDO: It's too late. You should have paid him when you had the chance. Jabba's put a price on your head, so large that every bounty hunter in the galaxy will be looking for you. I'm lucky I found you first.

HAN: Yeah, but this time I got the money.

GREEDO: If you give it to me, I might forget I found you.

HAN: I don't have it with me. Tell Jabba...

GREEDO: Jabba's through with you. He has no time for smugglers who drop their shipments at the first sign of an Imperial cruiser.

HAN: Even I get boarded sometimes. Do you think I had a choice?

Han Solo slowly reaches for his gun under the table.

GREEDO: You can tell that to Jabba. He may only take your ship.

HAN: Over my dead body.

GREEDO: That's the idea. I've been looking forward to killing you for a long time.

HAN: Yes, I'll bet you have.

Suddenly the slimy alien disappears in a blinding flash of light. Han pulls his smoking gun from beneath the table as the other patron look on in bemused amazement. Han gets up and starts out of the cantina, flipping the bartender some coins as he leaves.

HAN: Sorry about the mess.

See the part where Greedo shoots? Neither do I.

February 04, 2012

A Good Way To Solveig Your Problem

As you guys know, I occasionally will deal with techie stuff here. Usually, it's how to fix something, but today I have a software review and a recommendation.

For a while now, I was using the SolveigMM AVI Trimmer + MKV to edit my various video files. It's a great program, and to top it off, it's freeware! That alone is enough to make me recommend their products. It's a very fast (and lossless) way to trim unwanted scenes from your AVI or MKV files.

I recently, however, got a chance to try the full version of their paid program, the SolveigMM Video Splitter, and as much as I like the freebie, I'll never go back to it.

To begin with, the Splitter works with more formats than AVI/MKV, so you can easily edit those pesky WMVs or MP4s, among others. (The full list of compatible files can be found at the above link.) That gives me more options when editing recordings made with my TV tuner card, which have to be converted from the WTV format.

In addition, with the splitter, you have a number of options when saving your edited segments. You can save individual segments, save all selected segments as one file, or use the built-in batch processor to edit now, process later. There's also an included video joiner that can join separate segments, assuming that the two files have the same characteristics.

The best thing about the program, though, is that for certain formats (not AVI, sadly) you can edit with frame accuracy. That is, instead of having to cut the segment at a K-frame (key frame), which could leave you with extra frames in your segment, you can actually cut a segment at an individual frame. Okay, let me just say that although that probably sounded like I knew what I was talking about, I'm not quite sure I did. I DO know, however, that it works, and works well.

The GUI itself is fairly user friendly, and if you've used any kind of editing software, you should have no problem figuring it out. the program window is resizeable, and you can preview your file as you work. There's even an optional "storyboard" function, which will show frames of the file to aid in finding that exact spot you need. My second complaint (the first being the lack of frame accuracy with AVIs) is that, while the storyboard is a great feature, the images are too small. I'm on a 22" monitor, and have a little trouble making them out. I hope that a resizeable storyboard is something they'll consider adding in the future because I'd much rather give up a little preview window size for an increased storyboard.

One other thing I should mention is the support. The response time to my inquiry was a quick two days (and that, I'm assuming, would have been shorter if not for the weekend), and they even sent a follow up email. There is also a user forum, and from what I could tell, it was visited regularly by the administrators. 

I just can't stress how fast and easy using this program is. I managed to trim the commercials out of an hour-long program in a matter of minutes. (I recommend learning and using the key commands, as I've found them to be a lot faster overall.) I joined together two consecutive episodes of a show with no problem,as well. (Take that, cliffhangers!) The two minor issues I have with the program are simply that--minor. Ultimately, the SolveigMM Video Splitter is well worth the money if you do any kind of video editing.

Solveig also makes a number of other video-related programs, and if you go to their website, you can find descriptions, comparisons, screenshots, and some very clear "how-to" pages, to help you do exactly what you want to do. Very impressive.

UPDATE: While double-checking my info on the Solveig website, I saw that it looks like you can also re-index WMV files, as well. I haven't tried that yet, but if that's an available option, consider my thumbs up even higher.

January 30, 2012

The Ratings Aren't As "Firm" As We'd Like

You mean NBC came in eighth place with a series based on a twenty-year-old novel (that was mediocre to begin with)?? Well, color me surprised!

January 28, 2012

Goodbye, Charlie

So after five years, "Chuck" has come to a close. It's been one of my favorite shows over those five years, and yes, I even own all available seasons on DVD. As sad as I am that it's over, I'm very happy that--unlike so many shows these days--they got to bring it to a proper conclusion. And what a conclusion. I never really realized just how much these characters had gotten inside me. Yes, it's a light-hearted action-comedy, but at its core it was a love story, and that's what made it so much fun to watch. I kept watching the clock, worried about how much time was left, and thinking that I didn't want these characters to go away. I think that's the best compliment I can pay to the cast. They all did an amazing job, and I'm looking forward to their next respective projects.

So Chuck, Sarah, Casey, Morgan, Ellie, Awesome, and all the rest, thanks for a great five years. We'll miss you.

January 12, 2012

Somewhere, Tom Selleck is Laughing

Rosie O'Donnell and her kids killed a hammerhead shark on a fishing vacation.  More than one, if the story is correct, as they say "hammerhead sharks."

So, apparently it's okay to kill an endangered animal, as long as you do it slowly with a sharp, barbed hook, and not with a gun.