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


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.

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.

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.

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.