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Archive for April, 2011

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Whenever possible (and even when not), racism is the answer.

At least that what the Presstitutes and avid supporters of the President (but I repeat myself) have decided to tell us in the wake of the very serious President’s release of his long form birth certificate, before he tackled the very serious issue of flying to Chicago for a taping of Oprah and an arduous day of serious fund-raising.

Before we go further, I have to disclose something.  I’ve followed a few of the birth certificate lawsuits with great interest.  The Berg case caught my interest and I read the pleadings as they were posted with greater interest.  I wanted to know how the court was going to rule, even if I wasn’t sure exactly why the FEC was named in the suit, since as near as I could tell, their purpose is not to vet the candidates bona fides, but is instead to watch the money trail and blow the whistle on campaign finance violations.  As time wore on, I tried to figure out why it was that someone who wanted the job, and would require the confidence of the people he sought to lead would work so hard and spend so much money to keep something private if there was no “there” there.  The well-heeled counsel from Perkins Coie do not come cheap.  And since other “facts” of his past, reported in his own memoirs, appeared to raise questions…niggling little things like trips to Pokeestaan and being adopted by an Indonesian national, and trivialities like that.  And as long as his academic record seems to be the new standard for some to rally round, I was somewhat fascinated to find that despite being on law review during his time at Harvard Law School, he apparently never authored a law review article.  As a graduate of two law schools myself, I wondered (and STILL wonder) how it is that he accomplished that particular feat.

But as the weeks stretched into years, and the dismissals in the various venues piled up, I found it difficult to care.  Unlike some of my friends, I didn’t believe that it was an issue that truly mattered any more.  I never believed that this was some sort of conspiracy dating back to his birth wherever that event took place.  It didn’t have to be.  After we had passed a certain threshold, even if it was proven that he was intelligible, I had no reason to believe that every act and executive order he affixed his signature to would be suddenly null and void, thus freeing us from the disasters he had set loose upon the country.  You can’t unring a bell, unscramble eggs, or unspend billions of dollars.  This doesn’t mean that my curiosity about spending the money fighting the requests in venue after venue, or his academic career was put to rest.  As lawyer, I’d never counsel someone to fight the lawsuits the way that he did, at the cost it ran up when the whole thing could be made to go away with simply presenting the long form to the Court…at least not without a letter to the client stating very plainly “While I love taking your money to do this, you could defeat this and all future claims by just presenting the damn thing, right?” sitting in my file with their signature acknowledging that they received it from me.  No, while my curiosity remains, I came to regard this entire episode as one more example of the contempt he has for the American people.  And now that the inevitable post-mortems have commenced, the consensus of the hand-wringing concerned members of the press and his adoring supporters have returned to the tired, predictable, and baseless conclusion that just happens to coincide with yet another election in which he plans to participate.  Yes, these big brains have once again settled on their favorite conclusion:  this was an issue because the people who cared were racists!!!11!!!

Let’s start first with the adoring fans.  From my friend Rutherford Lawson, the only sort-of-sane, and occasionally honest lefty I know:

But there is a sad downside to this capitulation. The most powerful man in the world today was reduced to saying essentially, “Yes Massa, I really is an American. I gots the papers to prove it.” Not since the dark days of the 19th century where blacks had to identify themselves as free or slave has a man’s identity been so disgustingly challenged. There is no doubt that our incredibly sheltered citizenry who can’t identify other countries on a map had an adjustment to make with a President with such an exotic background. And let’s be honest. Obama, at least from one side of his family, is a first generation American. That is NEW for our country. However, his background makes him a black American.

Of course the Press, not to be done in its role as the President’s biggest supporter, rushed to make sure that we all knew that the question only existed to begin with because those asking it were racists:

So what’s fueling the dogged questioning of Obama’s origins? Many critics of the birther movement say its core tenets–and its stubborn resistance to evidence disproving those beliefs–can be traced to racial hostilities. The fundamental birtherist conviction, these critics say, is that an African-American can’t have legitimately won the presidency–and that his elevation to power therefore has to be the result of an elaborate subterfuge.

“There is a real deep-seated and vicious racism at work here in terms of trying to de-legitimate the president,” Peniel Joseph, a professor of history at Tufts University, told The Ticket.

“This is more than just a conspiracy,” Peniel added. “I think this is fundamentally connected to white supremacism in this country.”

Of course.  And as a white male who has ancestry in this country dating back to well before it was a country, I cannot tell you how put out I am to learn that white supremacism is so incredibly powerful, and yet I was never given an invitation to join this mighty cabal that is so powerful that it could ask questions that were asked of other Presidents in the past, but somehow glossed over by a criminally uncurious press corps in the last Presidential election cycle, and have it considered, even momentarily, as anything other than racism.

And of course, the Press wants us to believe that racism drove this issue because “the experts” have told us that this is so.

Meanwhile, an eye-opening recent study from the University of Delaware appears to confirm that race-minded detractors of Obama view him as “less American”–as Dan Vergano writes for USA Today.

The study, which surveyed blacks and whites on their opinions of Obama compared to Vice President Joe Biden, found that whites classified as “higher prejudice-predicted Whites” viewed Obama as “less American”–a view that, in turn, resulted in lower evaluations of the president’s performance.

“Finally, many in the media have speculated that current criticisms of Obama are a result of his race, rather than his agenda. We believe that the current results are an empirical demonstration that this is sadly the case,” the study concluded in its analysis. “As the United States approaches important decisions regarding issues such as economic reform, health care, and overseas military interventions, the intrusion of racial attitudes in the evaluation of political leaders’ performance is ironically inconsistent with what many believe to be ‘American.’ “

I really can’t think of any other way to put it.  Obama is not a polarizing figure because he’s black.  Before Colin Powell frittered away a fair amount of respect among the American people by supporting Obama, he was someone who some well-connected figures in the GOP had occasionally brought up in discussions about possible Presidential candidates.  Hell, some conservatives considered to be “out there” by more mainstream conservative perspectives supported a bid by Alan Keyes for the Oval Office.  The Rev. Jesse Jackson has run for the Democratic nomination more than once.  It isn’t the color of skin that matters.  A black president was a statistical inevitability. 

No, Obama is a polarizing figure because he supports radical points of view, and has on several occasions shown a fair amount of contempt for some of the American people.  From his support for Unions, or the philosophy that Americans don’t pay enough for gasoline, or the belief that the Constitution is a fundamentally flawed document, or his promises to destroy the coal industry, or his openly derisive remarks about the voters in Pennsylvania bitterly clinging to their guns and their religion, he is the anthesis of the “uniter” that he claimed he wanted to be.

I don’t need to be a racist to be critical of the President.  And my curiosity about all the things we don’t know about him doesn’t have to be motivated by racism either.  We used to know a whole lot more about the people who sought the office.  It was part of the “getting to know you” dance that candidates used to have with the voters.  Yet, in comparison to other candidates, we knew so little about this one.  A young man with what appeared to be an unremarkable career, punctuated by leaps up the ladder of elective office, and a record that demonstrated little other than an unwaivering commitment to abortion.  A man who a slobbering press made out to be “smarter than Spock” and “like a God”, and yet had no record to support it shy of his attendance at a prestigious law school and little else.  A man who appeared articulate, as long as a machine told him what to say, and a blithering idiot when it wasn’t available.   No, if there are questions that people still harbor about this President, the fault lies with him, and with the press, who decided that it was more important to sell his hope for change than it was to sell his resume and history.  For him to chastise the American people for still caring about this instead of being “serious”, rather than actually working to gain their trust and their confidence reveals more about him and his character than I think he really wanted to.

It really isn’t us, Barry.  Its you, and this ridiculous pose of entitlement that you adopt.  It was offensive in the last election cycle, when you acted as if you really didn’t want us to know any more than what you wanted to tell us about you, and it has only gotten more grating in the years since.  The good news is that now you have a record that you have to run on.  The shibboleth of racism isn’t going to have the same degree of shutuppery that it carried in times past.  And quit lecturing us about the seriousness of things.  We don’t get to hop on Air Force One whenever we want to go on a friend’s television show before a grueling day pressing the flesh with campaign donors; we work for a living.

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I saw this and decided that I needed to share.

Priceless.

They were FAR too kind.  

UPDATE:  Part II…It gets better.  This “supervisor” is going to be FAMOUS! 

h/t The Blog Prof

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Easter is one of those times when Christians everywhere pause and ponder the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.  I consider myself included among them, but when studying last week, I was struck by how different some passages in Luke seemed to me now as opposed to how they had been in the past.

We’ve been doing an interesting study, and the focus last week was on the two instances in the Bible where Jesus cried.  The second was the one I found striking.  It was during his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  Luke’s is the only gospel that recounts his crying, and yet I find the description compelling.

37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, 38 saying: 
      “‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!’[a]
      Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”
40But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.” 
41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

Luke 19:37-44, NKJV

I am moved by the idea of being recognized and not recognized at the same time, and understanding that it was entirely due to the expectations of the people who were celebrating his arrival in Jerusalem.  Reading of the cries of “Hosanna!” and knowing that they were asking him to deliver them not from sin that they could never atone for, but from conquerors who had overpowered the Maccabees who ruled a generation earlier under the palms like the ones the crowds now waived, I cannot even imagine the weight that Christ must have felt, knowing that because the people of Jerusalem were so fixated on physical deliverance that they failed to understand that he offered them something so much greater.  He came to free their souls, and all they could see was their political bondage.

And the greatest tragedy is that people still are confused, and still look for physical deliverance, rather than seeking sustenance for their spirit.  Only now, they frequently try to fill that emptiness within with everything but what will fill that emptiness.

I feel sorry for this woman.  Not because she placed her hopes on a man promising it with no intention of ever delivering, but because the fact she believed it in the first place leads me to believe that she will never understand.  Not that I can blame her.  The indoctrination that is public education fails so many, who can look around them at all the evidence necessary to show that government is not the answer, and yet still cling to the belief that government will be their deliverer that will save them from their cares and their woes.

It is a perception not aided in the slightest by moments like this, either:

Or this:

No, I am NOT comparing Obama to Christ.  The only comparison to be made is that they both walked the earth as men. 

What I would argue is that so many people have projected their desires for deliverance from the physical on to him, that it has allowed him to assume a divinity as he preaches a doctrine that says “I know your life isn’t fair, but if we make government bigger, and allow it to do more, if we change from a system of negative liberties that limit what government can do, then we can deliver you from your cares and your troubles.  Charity is too important to be left to the individual; government must become an active participant to make sure that the needy are taken care of.  And some people must sacrifice more than others to this method of distribution, because fairness can only be achieved through equality of result.”

I could grit my teeth and live with it, if he wasn’t so inclined to assume the fact of his divinity, and be so very jealous of that of other lessor beings.

America has real problems.  Among them is an empty spirit that too many keep trying to feed with a trust in man alone (We will put science in its rightful place), and that we will find the answer that satisfies, but it will require us to try something different, which is actually still the same (We are the ones we have been waiting for)… in short, we are no better off than Jerusalem on that day.  We seek to remedy the problems of our world through collective action, and by compulsion,when the real answers, the ones that will bring peace depend neither on the good will and compulsion of others to make our individual lives better.  And too many are willing to treat those who promise it as if they are something they aren’t.

It was a great gift that was freely given to us.  The fact that too many of us can’t even grasp the concept, let alone accept it, says something unsavory about us.  The fact some among us conflate this gift with salvation of the body is insulting.  We can’t stop this belief, but we can address the ignorance that drives it…and let the truth tend to itself.

Just something to consider this Good Friday.

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…it is still inevitable.

You can run, but it will still catch you.

At least the old guy had the right perspective about it.

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Last night, I finally watched a movie that I have been anticipating for a while.  And I’m still trying to process it. 

I wanted to like this movie.  I really did.  I thought that a film about a decorated Royal Marine in retirement who gets fed up with the crime and filth plaguing his home would be impressive.  Kind of like the juggernaut of violence that he played in 1971′s ode to violence, Get Carter.  But that wasn’t what I got.

The movie started slow.  We get a crawling introduction to Harry, now an old age pensioner living in ugly housing blocks.  He is struggling with the fact that his wife is institutionalized, suffering from a nameless malady…dementia, Altzhiemers…take your pick.  The parts of the days not spent in silence at her bedside, watching her stare off into space, are spent playing chess with an old friend, Leonard, at the local pub.

Leonard cannot conceal his contempt with crime and decay that surrounds him.  He points out the openly conducted drug trade to his friend Harry, over a game of chess, horrifying Harry, because it might call attention to them.  Leonard’s anger grows as the local gangs do what they can to terrorize him.  Leonard cannot understand why Harry, a decorated veteran of the Northern Ireland campaigns, does nothing to even express dismay at what goes on around them.  When pressed, Harry explained that when he met his wife, he knew he could never again be the man that he had been.

Two tragedies, one on the heels of the other, shatter Harry’s world, and after getting bad news from the Police, Harry surveils the predators living among his neighborhood.  And then gets to work. 

As the story unfolds, you get glimmers of the man that the mild-mannered Harry has suppressed, perhaps for decades.  An interrogation scene offers a glimpse of the cold-blooded brutality that was necessary to be the Queen’s Man in Belfast and come home alive.  But this hardness is still restrained, kept in check.  While his age and ailments prevent him from unrolling the blanket of revenge all in one night, Harry does, inevitably, prevail.  And by a quirk of fate, a major police raid, and an incredulous constabulary, Harry is not pursued by the law for his extermination of the trash poisoning his neighborhood.

One of the few moments in the film that worked for me was when he was confronted about the violence going on around him, and how he must be used to it from his time in Northern Ireland.  Harry’s response was the same as the one in my head, namely, that at least those people were fighting for something, whereas the youths in his neighborhood did it for entertainment.

I wanted to like this movie.  I really did.  But the presentation was unnecessarily slow, even for a British production, and I found it impossible to believe that a man who had witnessed and participated in the horrors that he did would be able to lock that all away for the love of a woman alone.  The payoffs, when they came, had no emotion, no slaking of vengeance.  It was justice, and more than many of them deserved, but it was too restrained.  Ultimately, Harry’s violence was no more than what was required to balance the accounts, but ultimately it left me cold.

As I thought about it over breakfast, it occurred to me that this was the British version of Gran Torino.  But where Gran Torino’s main character sacrifices himself to give his neighbor and friend a chance to find his own life without living under the heel of the crime and decay that surrounds him, Harry’s act was revenge that gave his community some breathing room and a chance to come outside during the day.  The cultural differences between we and our cousins remain well-defined.

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Last fall’s elections were a vote for principle the likes of which haven’t been witnessed in this country for decades.  The much maligned Tea Party activists sent a message and a whole bunch of new congressmen and women to Washington with a clearly defined mandate to reduce the size and scope of government.  The budget negotiations that were undertaken to do the unfinished work of the last Congress were an opportunity to accomplish just that.  And while token gains were made, cutting a few days of the Federal Government’s level of spending since January 1, the people we sent to Congress, and their leader decided that even the largely symbolic victory of another 61 Billion in cuts (as opposed to 900 odd Billion spent up to March 1) and ending borrowed government money to the real Murder Inc., Planned Parenthood, was just too difficult a deal to fight for.

To say that I’m disappointed to see that the House Republicans have all the backbone of a jellyfish is an understatement.  They capitulated when presented with some of the most childish behavior I have had the misfortune to witness.  As a parent, the best analogy I can think of is that the kids demanded their way, and not only do I have to pay the bills to keep the lights on, the roof over our head, the taxes, and the food bill, but they also demanded that we buy a brand new car and give the keys to them.  Oh, and every meal is a desert or junk food now.

While I would normally take comfort in the idea that they can be replaced, the fact is that they will likely have run the credit card up so damn high that every dollar we earn will be paying the debt, and it just won’t matter.

Fellas, if you couldn’t make a stand on this, how in the hell do you think you will ever pass a budget that cuts $6 Trillion?  Mr. Ryan needs to send a gift of thirty pieces of silver to the Speaker…if he can afford such a lavish expenditure.

The consent of the governed is dependent first and foremost on trust.  If I can’t trust you to stick with your principles when you complete someone else’s unfinished work, I sure as hell can’t trust you to fight the big fights.  I hope there was something you got out of the deal that was worth it, because your capitulation on something so small virtually guarantees your failure when its time to do the real work.

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…ask yourself what the Democratically controlled Congress was doing last year.

San Fran Nan needs to shut up and be thankful that her negligence and incompetence has thus far escaped the notice of the general public.  (Thank you legacy media!)

Not that she alone deserves the blame. 

I would call the to the attention of the Empty Suit in the Oval Office when he’s angry about missing this weekend’s tee time.

The President clearly understands he has a bully pulpit.  He just uses it to bully the wrong people. 

I already knew what a ‘failed state’ looked like.  I didn’t need to live in one.

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“I shouldn’t have to oversee a process where Congress deals with last-year’s budget when we only have six months left.”

No, Mr. President.  This Congress shouldn’t have to deal with trying to limit this fiscal year’s spending because the Congress that made Spendulous and the Great HealthCare Takeover priorities wasn’t interested in doing its job and passing a budget for FY 2011.

Really, how hard would it have been to have been a leader then?  We know that Nancy likes the good booze.  We know that Harry likes it when someone actually listens to him.  You could have invited her to the Oval Office for some drinks and conversation…with Harry.  (I’d need some drinks,too.)

We cannot be rid of this man fast enough.

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The Senator, Dropping Nuggets of Wisdom At the Latest Presser

Well, if you’re Lindsey Graham,  the undies go next, and you make sure everyone gets a really good look.

After being rightfully skewered for his suggestion that Americans shouldn’t be able to burn Qurans because that will make the heathens rage and burn stuff and kill people (completely ignoring that they need almost no provocation to rage and burn stuff and kill people), Lindsey spoke to Robert Costa at the National Review, and demonstrated that he <i>still</i> doesn’t get it.

General Petraeus sent a statement out to all news organizations yesterday, urging our government to [condemn] Koran burning. Free speech probably allows that, but I don’t like that.

No, Lindsey.  It doesn’t “probably allow it“.  It unquestionably allows it.  That’s the whole point of the words “Congress shall make no law…”.  As for not liking it, you might get used to it. 

I don’t like that public education has completely failed entire generations in this country to the degree that “critical thinking” has been reduced to repeating whatever someone else with an agenda has told them, so they will push it, even in the complete and utter inability to voice a logical and coherent explanation for doing so. 

I don’t like the fact entire portions of our history or no longer taught, or are reduced to a footnote, and that many of the people who set the grand plan for this republic to paper, and helped to advance it, are reduced to footnotes, or slandered and maligned by people whose primary agenda has been to find new and innovative ways to make what is yours theirs.

When General Petraeus wants us to say something because our troops are at risk, I’m glad to help. I don’t believe that killing someone is an appropriate reaction to burning the Koran, the Bible, or anything else, like I said Sunday; but those who believe that free speech allows you to burn the flag, I disagree. Those who want free speech to allow you to go to a funeral and picket a family, and giving more misery to their lives than they have already suffered, I disagree. And if I could do something about behavior that puts our troops at risk, I would. But in this case, you probably can’t. It’s not about the Koran; it’s about putting our troops at risk. And I think all of us owe the troops the support we’re capable of giving.

So why restrict freedom as a means to avoid an “inappropriate response” to the exercise of it?  Why not draw that line in the sand, and defend it?  We used to consider piracy to be an inappropriate response to passing through certain waters, and therefore we dealt with it.  And you know what?  It reduced the number of pirates willing to attack our ships.  And Senator, with all due respect, those soldiers, even the General, have taken an oath to defend Constitution, and by extension, the freedoms it guarantees.  These troops are already in war zones.  Every day there is dangerous.  I take umbrage at the notion that there is a moral obligation to refrain from exercising a freedom that the troops have sworn to defend so that they won’t face violence from people who stage astonishingly bloody and “inappropriate” expressions of outrage at little or no provocation to begin with. 

Frankly, if Karzai was willing to gin up this controversy to inflame people so willing to kill others who had nothing to do with the “offense” in the first place, then maybe the time has come for him to run that little corner of paradise without anyone to help keep the very real extremists who oppose him at bay.  Maybe its time to let a people so eager and enthusiastic to be backwards to be backwards, and enjoy the spiritual enlightenment that comes from beating women for the crime of being raped, living without sanitation, antibiotics, education, and decent nutrition.  Maybe its time to let the world pass them by as they apply a 4th century brain to 21st century life, or what passes for it a few miles outside of Kabul, Tekrit, or Tehran.  But you sure as hell do not reward bloody tantrums by capitulation or surrender of the very rights that make us who we are.

 Nobody said anything to me when I said that you can’t burn the flag. People say that is free speech, but I don’t agree. What I was saying is, if I could hold people accountable, I would. But I know that we can’t. I just don’t like the idea of free speech being used as a reason to put our troops at risk. They’ve got enough problems already. I really believe that responsibility ought to be part of free speech. You can’t yell “fire” in a theater. There are a lot of things that you can’t do under the guise of free speech. I just hate it when somebody here, some crazy person, acts in a way that puts our troops in jeopardy. I really feel the need to condemn that. To me, that is not a responsible use of free speech. 

——————————————————————————————————————-

If not a particular act, I would like to be able to push back against things that put our troops in harm’s way, at home and abroad. But there is no way to regulate all of the speech that you are talking about. I am not suggesting that we have a constitutional amendment to ban Koran burning, or Bible burning, or anything else. I am suggesting that I wish that we could make people accountable.

And now we get to the real nub of the matter.  Responsibility and accountability.

It is great irony having someone who is part of a body that has done more to erode responsibility and accountability in exchange for dependency and the power and authority that it accords lamenting a lack of responsibility and accountability for what people do with freedom.  Having a government that has done so much to infantilize people, to encourage irresponsibility, to attack the moral checks on baser impulses, and to marginalize the sources of those moral checks that people and societyimposed without the assistance or participation of government really is a lot.  After decades of this we find ourselves in a place where the people who have sworn to protect the freedoms guaranteed to us constantly behave as if we are not to be trusted with them.  Whether its supporting this ludicrous idea that we must curtail the exercise of freedom here at home so that people elsewhere in the world do not act badly, or that because someone would act badly here at home because that freedom made it possible, those who serve us appear possessed of the idea that only they can determine what freedoms we should be allowed at all, because some among us chose to exercise them without responsibility or accountability.

Living with freedom is difficult.  It’s work.  And it should be.  There is a reason why Benjamin Franklin told a citizen inquiring what the result of the Constitutional Convention was “A republic, if you can keep it.”  If the Senator wants more responsibility and accountability for what we do with freedom, I suggest he start at work, and apply his efforts to ending laws, regulations, and programs that take responsibility and accountability away from the individual and entities. 

And read the Constituion every day, until he can fully grok what it is that he is there to preserve and defend.

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