Free Markets, Free People

Culture

Happy Independence Day–apparently it’s punch a Republican day too

I’m always amused when the left gets a little frustrated.  Somewhere in the “dance” that takes place with the give and take they often let their mask slip and let the inner beast out.

Many times its just a result of not getting their way.  For instance, New Jersey.  Known for its hardball politics, when the Democratic President of the Senate didn’t get consulted by the governor concerning the budget after claiming to have worked with Governor Christie on the parts of the budget together (obviously expecting political payback for doing so) the Governor apparently held to principle and using the power vested in him by the NJ Constitution used the line item veto to further “prune” the state budget.  Obviously his pruning took out some of the funding for programs that Sen. Sweeney felt he’d saved by cooperating previously.  Since that wasn’t the case, Sweeney lost his cool, went personal and launched a full ad hominem attack.

Senate President Stephen Sweeney went to bed furious Thursday night after reviewing the governor’s line-item veto of the state budget.

He woke up Friday morning even angrier.

"This is all about him being a bully and a punk," he said in an interview Friday.

"I wanted to punch him in his head."

I’ve always been of the opinion that the punk is the one who ends up attacking like that, suggesting violence, etc.  Now obviously you can argue that the politics of the past gave Sweeney the impression that cooperation would yield compromise.  Give a little on his side, get a little for his side.  But the belief that he’d get that was just that – a belief.  Obviously Christie felt he’d been clear about what his goals were and how he planned on accomplishing them.  Sweeney just as obviously thought he’d gotten around that by early cooperation. 

We often hear it said of Barack Obama that he is doing exactly what he said he’d do and we shouldn’t be surprised.  Apparently that argument is void in New Jersey.  Senate President Sweeney expects the old way of doing things – you know the way that has them in deep financial trouble – to prevail over the new way, i.e. a principled approach to running government and paying off the debt.  Obviously the guy who is doing what he said he’d do doesn’t agree with Sweeney. 

What a punch in the head, huh?

The other example is sort of just the mask slipping all by itself.  A self-inflicted wound so to speak  -and many times it’s on Twitter *cough*Wienergate*cough*.  For instance the Communications Director for the Wisconsin Democratic Party supposedly celebrating, one assumes, the “birthday” of Medicare.

Now there are a number of ways one could do that in 142 characters.   And an abundance of them would be perfectly acceptable, show one’s support for the program (if one supports it) and relay why the person writing the Tweet supports said program.  That’s if you’re not an idiot.   And that’s exactly what Graeme Zielinski comes across as in his Tweet:

 

a-july-4-message-from-dems

 

Nice to see Democrats in such fine form in the “civility” department.  Perhaps now we can see a cessation of all the hypocritical and condescending lectures from them about the need for civility in politics, huh?

Nah.

Happy 4th.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Chicago lawyer amazingly claims Boeing’s move to South will net workers with "poor skills"

Honest to goodness, if this doesn’t blow your mind, I don’t know what will.

Yet the Boeing case has a scarier aspect missed by conservatives: Why is Boeing, one of our few real global champions in beefing up exports, moving work on the Dreamliner from a high-skill work force ($28 an hour on average) to a much lower-wage work force ($14 an hour starting wage)? Nothing could be a bigger threat to the economic security of this country.

We should be aghast that Boeing is sending a big fat market signal that it wants a less-skilled, lower-quality work force. This country is in a debt crisis because we buy abroad much more than we sell. Alas, because of this trade deficit, foreign creditors have the country in their clutches. That’s not because of our labor costs—in that respect, we can undersell most of our high-wage, unionized rivals like Germany. It’s because we have too many poorly educated and low-skilled workers that are simply unable to compete.

We depend on Boeing to out-compete Airbus, its European rival. But when major firms move South, it is usually a harbinger of quality decline.

Wow … really?  So all those F-35s being built in Ft. Worth, and all those C-130s and F-22 Raptors being built in Marietta, GA, not to mention the myriad of car manufacturing plants, specialty steel plants, hi-tech industries, etc. all have seen ‘quality declines’ because they’re located in the South?

Good grief, my guess is this guy hasn’t been out of Chicago since 1970?  You’ve got to love the correlation he tries to draw between “high-skill” and $28 bucks an hour with “low-skill” and $14 bucks an hour.  Yeah, that works, doesn’t it?   It’s a bit like saying a guy who opens and closes a blast furnace door at $28 bucks an hour is a “high-skilled” worker.   Doesn’t correlate at all does it?  But that was an actual wage for an actual job at a steel plant before it went out of business because it was uncompetitive, thanks to unions, years ago.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the guy writing this is a labor union lawyer and he thinks everyone who reads the Wall Street Journal is an idiot.

Here’s his one and only example of why he thinks he’s got this all figured out.  As he says, he “represented the workers” in the first plant.  He’s speaking of Outboard Marine Corp:

In the 1990s the company went from the high wage union North to the low wage South and was bankrupt by 2000. There are reasons workers in the North get $28 an hour while down in the South they get $14 or even $10. Adam Smith could explain it: "productivity," "skill level," "quality."

Of course the reason it went bankrupt might have absolutely nothing to do with any of that.  It might be because the corporation was uncompetitive well before the move and the move was a last ditch effort to save itself.  But we don’t know, and this yahoo decides it is “productivity”, “skill level” and “quality” which were the problem.  Of course BMW’s plant in SC doesn’t suffer from any of those problems does it?  In fact one of the reasons the Germans are making their cars there is because of the productivity they achieve there.  Same with all the car plants across the south to include those opened fairly recently by Honda, Kia, Hyundai, BMW, and Mercedes – in Tuscaloosa, Alabama for heaven sake.  The reason they’re in the South is they get more “productivity”, “skill” and “quality” for the wage than they do in the North.

But to admit that would be to admit that perhaps the problem is unions, not Southerners.

However, our clueless lawyer isn’t done:

Here is yet another American firm seeking to ruin its reputation for quality. Why? To save $14 an hour! Seriously: Is that going to help sell the Dreamliner? In terms of the finished product, the labor cost is minuscule: $14 in hourly wage, at most. It’s incredible that conservatives claim such small differences in labor cost would be life or death to Boeing. It’s not labor cost but labor skill that is life or death to the survival of Boeing, never mind pilots and passengers.

If the history of runaway shops proves anything, it’s that many go "South" in more than one sense of the word. If that sounds unfair to the South, it is union busting that has inflicted the real unfairness in the region: income inequality and inferior schools.

Yessiree – those airplanes they’ve been building in Marietta GA and Ft. Worth TX have just been falling out of the sky because of all that income inequality and those inferior schools.  What, no “redneck”, “hillbilly” or “barely in shoes” included?  No NASCAR jokes?  Remarks about family trees that don’t fork? Dueling banjoes?  He missed his chance, didn’t he? 

Of course the reason Boeing is opening a plant in SC has nothing to do with wages per se.  His point is correct as far as it goes.  The plant is opening so Boeing and its customers aren’t held hostage to the work stoppages that are normal fare in the union plant in Washington.  And it is hard to blame them for doing that, isn’t it?

Of course pig-headed ignorance about an area like this simply has to be seen to be believed and he proves himself as the poster boy for that.  If abject and unqualified ignorance is bliss, this is one happy, happy labor lawyer.

Wow … 2011 and you find something like this in the Wall Street Journal.  Who said their editors don’t have a wicked sense of humor?

Give ‘em enough rope …

[HT: J.E. Dyer]

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Just not good enough for their neighborhood (update–progress)

John Gonsalves, who runs one of the most awesome charities I know of, Homes for Our Troops, has a problem.  And its one that will make your blood boil.

Gonsalves and his folks build specially built homes for disabled war veterans who have special needs.  Such as SFC Sean Gittens.

Army SFC Sean Gittens was left paralyzed and unable to speak or communicate as a result of a battle related traumatic brain injury. Deployed for the third time in his career, SFC Gittens suffered multiple concussive traumas throughout his year-long deployment to Iraq from April 2007-April 2008. Upon returning home, suffering from headaches and other head-injury related symptoms, SFC Gittens suffered an aneurism in his brain and a subsequent stroke which left him with paralyzed and non-communicative. Treated at multiple hospitals, both military and civilian, SFC Gittens now receives care from trained medical personnel in his home.

Homes for Our Troops identified a place for the home they wanted to build SFC Gittens and his family and went to work getting buying the property and getting the necessary approvals.

Building on the 2700 square foot home was to begin this Friday. Homes for Our Troops purchased the land in December and preparations for building the home have been ongoing over the past month. These homes are a reflection of the gratitude of the community and are given mortgage free to the veterans once complete.

Homes for Our Troops received building permits for the project and has been working closely with the Knob Hill Board of Directors, making multiple changes to the plans for the home as requested. The written approval came from Knob Hill BOD President Rick Trump on June 2nd.

Everything is cool, no?

No.

Late last week, a lawyer for the HOA served the contractors on site with a cease and desist letter to stop the preparation of the build site. Facing strong opposition from the Property Owners Association, the Knob Hill Board of Directors and the Property Owners Association met again on June 20th, just four days before the planned kickoff of the home build. Homes for Our Troops was then notified that the house plans do not meet the Knob Hill standards and the original approval was thus rescinded. Homes for Our Troops has now been told that it must begin anew the entire approval process and that the house needs to be at least 3400 square feet and multi-level to even be considered.

"Shockingly, it appears that the Knob Hill community has decided it does not want to welcome SFC Gittens and his family, as we were previously told," said Homes for Our Troops Founder John Gonsalves. "Despite our working closely with the Knob Hill Property Owners Association over the past four months, we find ourselves in an untenable situation. We cannot afford to add 700 square feet to the house, particularly under our special adaptive plans. And our experience in building over 100 homes dictates that severely injured veterans need a specially adapted single level home. Frankly, this late action begun by the Knob Hill Property Owners means we must suspend working on the home. The Knob Hill Property Owners Association has now assured that SFC Gittens and his family will not be able to have the home they so desperately need. We have done everything in our power to try to resolve this situation, but it appears that the community is not willing to accept this home, and SFC Gittens and his family into the community."

According to Gonsalves, the Knob Hill neighborhood covenants state that the minimum size for a house in the subdivision is 2,700 sq ft (see Fox News clip).  He also points out that there are many 2,700 square foot homes in that subdivision.  And, as you might imagine, given that’s the minimum size the covenants allow, that is the size of the proposed Gittens home.   In other words, the Knob Hill Property Owners Association (Evans, GA) are not following their own covenants.  Gonsalves was told the home was “too small” and “didn’t fit in” to the surrounding neighborhood (with some homes as large as 5,000 sq. ft).

I’m sympathetic to property owners rights 99% of the time.  But this is that 1% where I’m totally against them.  And that’s because they’re attempting to void their own covenants and not abide by them. Remember, these are their PUBLISHED covenants.  These are the minimum standards they AGREED too when they built their homes in that subdivision.  It is the document they’d certainly use to legally enforce the standards therein if it was necessary.  But now they simply want to ignore the document and impose arbitrary new standards that simply don’t exist other than in their demands.

I think the Knob Hill Property Owners Association needs to rethink this entire thing, don’t you?  If you’d like to share your opinion concerning their denial of a disabled vet’s opportunity to live in a home that meets all the standards of their covenants you may want to drop them a line.

Please be polite and respectful, but feel free to make your feelings clear about their actions.  Also remember that, per Homes for Our Troops, not all the people living in that subdivision agree with the board’s decision.  The email address for the board is -  bod@knobhill.org

This is not how America should treat its disabled vets.

UPDATE: Just in (1:20 pm).

The president of the Knob Hill Property Owner’s Association says plans are moving forward for the construction of a home for Sgt. First Class Sean Gittens.

The homeowners association and Homes For Our Troops have been talking. A list of items Knob Hill requires is being provided to Homes For Our Troops.

Both organizations said they hope to make a joint announcement on Monday, June 27, in regards to moving forward with the plans.

Keep the pressure on, but please, be polite and respectful.

[HT: upinak]

 

~McQ

Twitter: McQandO

The democratization of publishing

I love stories like this because the demonstrate the momentous changes that have been introduced by technology which has democratized publishing and not just opened the gates to everyone, but flat torn the gates down:

John Locke, 60, who publishes and promotes his own work, enjoys sales figures close to such literary luminaries as Stieg Larsson, James Patterson and Michael Connelly.

But unlike these heavyweights of the writing world, he has achieved it without the help of an agent or publicist – and with virtually no marketing budget.

Instead the DIY novelist has relied on word of mouth and a growing army of fans of his crime and western novellas that he has built up online thanks to a website and twitter account.

His remarkable achievement is being hailed as a milestone of the internet age and the beginning of a revolution in the way that books are sold.

His achievement is doubly impressive because of the way he accomplished this:

He saw that many successful authors were charging almost $10 (£6) for a book and decided that he would undercut them – selling his own efforts for 99 cents (60 pence).

"I’ve been in commission sales all my life, and when I learned Kindle and the other e-book platforms offered a royalty of 35 per cent on books priced at 99 cents, I couldn’t believe it," he said.

"To most people, 35 cents doesn’t sound like much. To me, it seemed like a license to print money.

"With the most famous authors in the world charging $9.95 for e-books, I saw an opportunity to compete, and so I put them in the position of having to prove their books were 10 times better than mine.

"Figuring that was a battle I could win, I decided right then and there to become the bestselling author in the world, a buck at a time."

Or, he figured that the opportunity of self-publishing allowed him the freedom to decide how much to charge and take advantage of the royalty being paid a lower price.  Obviously you have to have something worth selling, but he’s figured out that formula as well – what most of us would consider “pulp fiction” with mass appeal:

His books – which centre around characters such as Donovan Creed, a former CIA assassin "with a weakness for easy women" and Emmett Love, a former gunslinger – are unlikely to trouble the Booker Prize judges.

But nevertheless they are immensely popular among the new e-Book fraternity, selling a copy every seven seconds and making him only the eighth author in history to sell a million copies on Amazon’s Kindle – a milestone he passed this week.

Phenomenal.  Kudos to Locke … John Locke, that is.   Great name.

The gate no longer exists and that has to make publishers as nervous as the news media is anymore.  Anyone can publish just about anything and, unlike before, the market gets to decide what is or isn’t worth the money and reward – directly – those who manage to give it what it wants.

What’s not to like (our own Martin McPhillips may be able to give us a little insight into this phenomenon – and it will give him a chance to plug his book)?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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US in worse shape than Greece

I’m not sure how many times we or our politicians have to hear this, but to this point, it hasn’t made the impression it should:

Much of the public focus is on the nation’s public debt, which is $14.3 trillion. But that doesn’t include money guaranteed for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, which comes to close to $50 trillion, according to government figures.

The government also is on the hook for other debts such as the programs related to the bailout of the financial system following the crisis of 2008 and 2009, government figures show.

Taken together, Gross puts the total at "nearly $100 trillion," that while perhaps a bit on the high side, places the country in a highly unenviable fiscal position that he said won’t find a solution overnight.

Bill Gross runs Pimco, a based in Newport Beach, Calif., manages more than $1.2 trillion in assets and runs the largest bond fund in the world.  Gross went on to say:

"To think that we can reduce that within the space of a year or two is not a realistic assumption," Gross said in a live interview. "That’s much more than Greece, that’s much more than almost any other developed country. We’ve got a problem and we have to get after it quickly."

[…]

"We’ve always wondered who will buy Treasuries" after the Federal Reserve purchases the last of its $600 billion to end the second leg of its quantitative easing program later this month, Gross said. "It’s certainly not Pimco and it’s probably not the bond funds of the world."

Now whether you realize it or not, that’s a good share of the bond market saying, "yeah, you know, not interested". That’s scary. And with China recently unloading some of its US debt notes, it’s not a happy picture for the US, fiscally. As Gross points out, in overall financial condition, we’re worse off than the basket case of Europe – Greece.

We have been getting these warning for literally decades.  We’ve done absolutely nothing substantial to mitigate them.  In fact, we added more to the pile (Medicare D and ObamaCare).   We’re going to crash.   It is time for a huge reality check, gut check or whatever you want to call it.  But like the shopping addicted, we have got to cut up the credit cards, cut spending to the bone, get government out of areas it has no business and take as much power of the purse away from the Fed as we can.  

This is beyond absurd.  And the time to address it is now (if it’s not already too late).

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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“Fearmongering” has become a competitive enterprise

A year or so ago I wrote an post asking “Are we needlessly scaring ourselves to death”?  My feeling was that we do indeed needlessly scare ourselves to death by not putting threats into perspective.  Used in the post were statistics about terrorist attacks via airlines and the likelihood of actually being a victim of terrorism in such a situation.  As you might imagine, given the number of passengers, flights and miles traveled, the risk per se is statistically miniscule.  But that doesn’t keep the population at large from being “scared” of the threat or condoning limits on liberty to hopefully prevent even that tiny percent of successful attacks.

That brings me to a larger point.  The evolution of  “scaremongering”.  Frank Furedi hits on the issue I’ve observed over the years since technology and the internet have given communication a rocket boost that we apparently haven’t quite adapted too.  Scaremongering has become a competitive growth industry:

[T]he massive growth of fearmongering campaigns and crusades over the past quarter of a century has been unprecedented. Fear-fuelled grandstanding becomes most extravagant in relation to the very big catastrophic hazards that apparently threaten the survival of the planet itself. The list of potential planetary disasters is growing all the time. International terrorism, climate change, influenza-type pandemic, the AIDS epidemic, overpopulation, obesity, disastrous technological accidents – these are only some of the many mega-hazards that are said to confront humanity today.

Scaremongering also has a powerful impact in the arena of individual health. Health scares targeting women and children in particular have become a flourishing enterprise in recent years. Health scares are often linked to anxieties about food or the alleged side effects of drugs, pollution and new technologies. Personal security is another important area for fearmongering. Anxieties about crime, immigration and anti-social behaviour are regularly promoted by law-and-order groups. The environment, of course, is now treated as a potentially huge problem in it own right. Anything that has an impact on nature is said to store up big disasters for the future.

With so much to fear, it’s not surprising that there is now an intense level of competition to grab the attention of the public. Scaremongering has become a highly competitive enterprise; contemporary public debate often takes the form of countering one hysterical plea with another.

He’s right.  And the result is a confused public and a debate that spirals out of control with little of substance being offered in the way of constructive dialog and argument.  It is instead replaced by competing attempts to scare the public to one side or the other.  We see it everyday in the so-called political debate.  In many cases as debate about any issue is reduced to scaremongering.  And while many of us may understand that, there are even more that don’t. 

Complex issues are reduced to tag lines and sound bites.  “Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan will kill old people”.  Bumper-sticker scaremongering which opponents to such a plan consider successful if it goes viral and becomes the conventional wisdom.  And those who throw things out like that know, for the most part, that the average American isn’t going to take the time or make the effort to research the plan and attempt to understand it.  He who gets the first meme to go viral out there wins, even if it is blatant nonsense.

And the Democrats or left aren’t the only side which does that (although I’m of the opinion that it is something the left does more than the right based on my observations).   Looking at many of the social con arguments on the right examples can be found that point to the fact that they’re not at all averse to a little scaremongering to advance their agendas.

The result, however, is ironic.  In an era in which unprecedented information on just about any subject or issue are available to just about everyone, we find narratives and memes created by scaremongering to still be accepted at face value by majorities of people.   And that sort of success – scaremongering – breeds imitation.  If it works for side A, side B certainly isn’t going to eschew it.

Consequently, as Furedi points out, scaremongering has become highly a competitive enterprise of claim and counter-claim.

The problem, of course, is the fact that there are things we should be very concerned about, but we have difficulty breaking them out of the clutter of issues being fearmongered.   We also have a tendency to dismiss legitimate claims out of hand, if they sound like fearmongering, because so many of the hyped up issues turn out to be so much nonsense.

Information and perspective are two very important tools in the war against scaremongering.  In my estimation, the battle against the scaremongering alarmists of AGW is a case study in how such scaremongering should be countered.

But there are so many things these days, as Furedi points out, that are being given that treatment that it is not only exasperating but somewhat depressing.   We can’t make rational decision based in irrational and over-hyped issues, but we do it all the time.   Look at what Germany just did with its nuclear power based on the experience of a island nation hit by a tsunami.  That’s likely to happen there, right?  Pure fear expertly exploited.

Fearmongering is something which has to be guarded against and fought.  One of the best ways to do so is obviously through offering facts and perspective instead of a counter claim based in fear.  Unfortunately, for the most part, it seems the sides prefer fear to facts, and that does us all a huge disservice and can be potentially – and I say this advisedly so as not to be branded a “fearmonger” – catastrophic if the wrong policies are implemented as a result.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Why America is different

Richard Cohen wrote a nasty little piece the other day in which he essentially declared American exceptionalism a myth.  There is no such thing, according to Mr. Cohen.  We’re all really a bunch of dummies living in a dysfunctional society, because, you know, we were mean to the American Indians once upon a time and we had slaves, or something.  Oh, and too much religion.

Michael Moore, on the other hand, finds us to be just a bunch of hypocrites and blathers on about how killing Osama (even though Moore is obviously pleased he’s dead) was a forfeiture of our principles (something Ron Paul apparently agrees with Moore about).

"The Nazis killed tens of MILLIONS. They got a trial. Why? Because we’re not like them. We’re Americans. We roll different."

As I’ll explain later, Moore hasn’t a clue of what he’s talking about  – nor does Cohen. 

Interestingly, Moore makes this point when talking about the killing:

I know a number of Navy SEALs. In fact (and this is something I don’t like to talk about publicly, for all the obvious reasons), I hire only ex-SEALs and ex-Special Forces guys to handle my own security (I’ll let you pause a moment to appreciate that irony). These SEALs are trained to follow orders. I don’t know what their orders were that night in Abbottabad, but it certainly looks like a job (and this is backed up in a piece in the Atlantic) where they were told to not bring bin Laden back alive. The SEALs are pros at what they do and they instantly took out every adult male (every potential threat) within a few minutes – but they also took care to not harm a single one of the nine children who were present. Pretty amazing. This wasn’t some Rambo-style operation where they just went in guns blazing, spraying bullets. They acted swiftly and with expert precision. I’m telling you, these guys are so smart and so lethal, they could take you out with a piece of dental floss. (And in fact, one of my ex-SEAL guys showed me how to do that one night. Whoa.)

The raid, despite Moore’s blathering and Cohen’s nonsense actually points out why Americans are exceptional.  Here’s what CBS News had to say about the details of the raid:

The SEALs first saw bin Laden when he came out on the third floor landing. They fired, but missed. He retreated to his bedroom, and the first SEAL through the door grabbed bin Laden’s daughters and pulled them aside.

When the second SEAL entered, bin Laden’s wife rushed forward at him — or perhaps was pushed by bin Laden. The SEAL shoved her aside and shot bin Laden in the chest. A third seal shot him in the head.

Read that very carefully.  Very slowly.

“The first SEAL through the door” did what?

Risked his life to protect the daughters of a mass murderer we’re at war with plotting to kill even more Americans in the future.

And the second SEAL?  He didn’t spray and pray, he shoved aside a woman, saving her life, and went precisely after the target. 

I don’t dispute Moore’s point about what the SEALs were told to do.  I concluded that immediately (and I talk about that on our latest podcast).  Had they been told to capture him, he’d right now be cooling his heels in an “undisclosed location” and not enjoying his vacation at all.

Moore thinks we let our principles down when we killed him.  I can only say that comes from a very warped idea of what our principles are.  Justice isn’t a process – it is a result.

Moore puts this out there as an example of what we should have done:

Hideki Tojo killed my uncle and millions of Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos and a hundred thousand other Americans. He was the head of Japan, the Emperor’s henchman, the man who was the architect of Pearl Harbor. When the American soldiers went to arrest him, he tried to commit suicide by shooting himself in the chest. The soldiers immediately worked on stopping his bleeding and rushed him to an army hospital where he was saved by our army doctors. He then had his day in court. It was a powerful exercise for the world to see. And on December 23, 1948, after he was found guilty, we hanged him.

When he was captured, did anyone say “justice has been served?”  Nope, that happened when, after his show trial (anyone – was Tojo going to be exonerated or left to live?) -actually, a military tribunal -, he was hanged.

Then and only then was the the term “justice has been served” used.  Moore concludes:

A killer of millions was forced to stand trial. A killer of 4,000 (counting the African embassies and USS Cole bombings) got double-tapped in his pajamas. Assuming it was possible to take him alive, I think his victims, the future, and the restoration of the American Way deserved better. That’s all I’m saying.

The resulting justice was the same – both died.  However, here is the key point: One after a show trial and AFTER a war had ended (same with Nuremberg), the other at the hands of his enemies DURING a war which he started and was still fighting.  If you can’t figure out the difference in those situations, then you’re not the sharpest knife in the drawer.  That’s the part Moore and his ilk always forget.

As for American exceptionalism – well you saw a small example of it in the raid demonstrated by that first SEAL in the room.  Our armed forces demonstrate that exceptionalism daily as they fight the Taliban and terrorists.  It comes from the culture in which they were raised.

I’m reminded of the story Oliver North likes to tell about the young Navy Corpsman in the battle of Baghdad:

 

 

By God, if that’s not "exceptionalism" I don’t know what the hell is.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Resetting history–the real history of the politics of race in the US

I’ve been an adamant myth buster all my life when it comes to the history of race and racism in our country trying, for years, to clarify which party it was that was on the side of racism and oppression.  If one just takes the time to research it, it is there for all to find. Instead, we ended up with a myth.

It appalls me that for years the myth of the right’s racism has gained such purchase in “conventional wisdom” and particularly among American blacks. The belief that it was the Republicans who were against civil rights legislation and were the roadblock to full equality for our black citizens, when in fact it was the Democrats, seems almost accepted as fact now.  But I lived and grew up in the South during that time. I know better.

The good news is this video helps to begin the process of dispelling the myth.  Pay close attention because it gives you the ground truth of the matter – something, unfortunately, that is very rare these days when it comes to this subject:

 

 

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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The hidden premise–what’s missing in this parody meant to shame us?

It’s there for all to see if they will.  While the parody is clever as it can be, one huge and salient fact is missing and thus makes it all a giant FAIL!

Obi-Wan Kenobi, the mastermind of some of the most devastating attacks on the Galactic Empire and the most hunted man in the galaxy, was killed in a firefight with Imperial forces near Alderaan, Darth Vader announced on Sunday.

Hint: At what were Obi-Wan’s “most devastating attacks” aimed?  And OBL’s?

More false moral equivalency.

Aside: I thought Dick Cheney was Darth Vader?  My how times change, no?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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May the Sphere Bunny bring you many, many Spring Spheres

Why is it that schools, the supposed bastions of education and purported citadels of tolerance and intelligence are so blasted uneducated, stupid and intolerant?

Latest example?  A teenager in Seattle, doing community service work, does a project to hand out to younger children in class.  The results?  Just fascinating in a bizarre and idiotic sort of way:

"At the end of the week I had an idea to fill little plastic eggs with treats and jelly beans and other candy, but I was kind of unsure how the teacher would feel about that," Jessica said.

She was concerned how the teacher might react to the eggs after of a meeting earlier in the week where she learned about "their abstract behavior rules."

"I went to the teacher to get her approval and she wanted to ask the administration to see if it was okay," Jessica explained. "She said that I could do it as long as I called this treat ‘spring spheres.’ I couldn’t call them Easter eggs."

Rather than question the decision, Jessica opted to "roll with it." But the third graders had other ideas.

"When I took them out of the bag, the teacher said, ‘Oh look, spring spheres’ and all the kids were like ‘Wow, Easter eggs.’ So they knew," Jessica said.

Never mind that a “sphere” is perfectly round, not an ovoid shape.  It has to do with the unbelievable nonsense that allowing something that has been a traditional American practice and celebration since the founding of the country has to be made secular because A) it will somehow be construed as the school establishing religion or B) it will offend someone or C) all of the above.

It doesn’t establish anything in terms of religion and if it offends someone, tough.  The argument could be made that celebrations of Spring favor Wiccans or Druids or something.  And how about those who are offended when teachers make up  stupid and obviously incorrect descriptions for Easter eggs like “spring spheres”?

This is the same school district that declared Thanksgiving to be racist and a time for mourning instead.  The district  has also defined racism in unique and toxic ways.  For instance:

Racism:
The systematic subordination of members of targeted racial groups who have relatively little social power in the United States (Blacks, Latino/as, Native Americans, and Asians), by the members of the agent racial group who have relatively more social power (Whites). The subordination is supported by the actions of individuals, cultural norms and values, and the institutional structures and practices of society.

Notice the only group listed who can possibly be racist according to their definition.

And it gets even better.  

Cultural Racism:
Those aspects of society that overtly and covertly attribute value and normality to white people and Whiteness, and devalue, stereotype, and label people of color as “other”, different, less than, or render them invisible. Examples of these norms include defining white skin tones as nude or flesh colored, having a future time orientation, emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology, defining one form of English as standard, and identifying only Whites as great writers or composers.

Got that?  “Future time orientation”, i.e. planning ahead, is racist.  Apparently only whites do it.  And individualism?  Racist.  And the school district also made it clear they had no desire "to hold onto unsuccessful concepts such as [a] . . . colorblind mentality."

Calling MLK Jr., because as I remember him, a colorblind society was his fondest hope.

The Supreme Court of the United States literally mocked the district’s racial nonsense in a ruling it issued.

Interestingly, the justices highlighted the bizarre claims about race made by the Seattle schools, which cast doubt on whether allowing schools to use race will promote racial harmony rather than racial balkanization.

For example, the Chief Justice’s opinion points out that “Seattle’s web site formerly described ‘emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology’ as a form of ‘cultural racism,’ and currently states that the district has no intention ‘to hold onto unsuccessful concepts such as [a] . . . colorblind mentality.”

Justice Thomas pointed to those claims, and other bizarre claims on Seattle’s web site, in rejecting the dissent’s argument that “local school boards should be entrusted to make decisions on the basis of race.”

Now they’re into “Spring Spheres”.

Wouldn’t you just love for your child to have to grow up attending school in a district that makes race (and now religion) as toxic as that? 

So enlightened.  /sarc

~McQ

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