Sunday, March 30, 2008

Bash the Rich and Excuse the Poor

That's pretty much the argument Anthony McCarthy makes at Echidne of the Snakes.

According to McCarthy, the problem is that rich people just don't get punished harshly enough for legal behavior.

It’s rather remarkable how successful the cover up of the crimes of the rich has been, considering that everyone knows it. In polite society the agreement is that it is one of those things that isn’t mentioned. Part of the cover up is achieved by our vaunted government of laws simply making many of the favorite methods of theft invented on behalf of the wealthy un-illegal. If someone can explain to me how most of the forms of “new financial instruments” are different from the kinds of things that con men on the sidewalk can get jailed for, it would be most interesting. That is the form, the major distinction between sidewalk shell game hustlers and blue chip hustlers is that the swells are the world class swindlers. Theft by the rich is and just about always has been legal. None of this is news, though. Not because it couldn’t be but because in just about every case nowadays among most of the English Speaking Peoples the “news” in on the scam.

It's the typical "rich people don't get punished like poor people" argument. Unfortunately, McCarthy doesn't explain how making various financial instruments illegal makes life easier for poor people. No, like a lot of leftists at Echidne's site, Anthony just blathers on about the unfairness of drug prosecutions between the rich and poor, or how rich people can afford better lawyers. In other words, he whines, he cries, but he sheds little light into how he thinks these situations can or should be improved.

For example, he quotes this article, then quickly glosses over the point. The argument made in the article is that poverty persists because the numerous manifestations of poverty (malnutrition, inadequate housing, lack of education, high crime rates, etc.) discourage any attempts to change. In and of itself, this is an interesting argument, but Anthony doesn't even touch it. Instead, he focuses on this quote:
In the community of people dedicated to analyzing poverty, one of the sharpest debates is over why some poor people act in ways that ensure their continued indigence. Compared with the middle class or the wealthy, the poor are disproportionately likely to drop out of school, to have children while in their teens, to abuse drugs, to commit crimes, to not save when extra money comes their way, to not work.

To an economist, this is irrational behavior. It might make sense for a wealthy person to quit his job, or to eschew education or develop a costly drug habit. But a poor person, having little money, would seem to have the strongest incentive to subscribe to the Puritan work ethic, since each dollar earned would be worth more to him than to someone higher on the income scale.

Anthony then bemoans the fact that rich people have more money and better resources to support drug habits. But drug use is only one of the issues of poverty. The biggest predictors of poverty are education, sexual behavior, and work habits. People who do not finish high school, have children before marriage, and who change jobs frequently (or don't have jobs) are much more likely to be poor than people who finish high school, delay having children, and stay at a job more than six months. I suppose it's much more satisfying for liberals like Anthony to complain about "the rich" than to actually try to figure out how to end poverty.

Democrat Implosion?

I wouldn't want anyone to think I want the Democrats to win in November, but, frankly, I think handing Al Gore the nomination because he's seen as a uniter, not a divider would be both insulting and permanently damaging to the Democratic Party. Are these people crazy?

Well, I don't think they are that crazy, but the 100 Years War for the nomination between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama highlights the flaw in their nomination process; namely, dividing your delegates into too many parts is more likely to fracture your party rather than unite it. Democrats would be loathe to agree with anything Rush Limbaugh says, but he is correct when he says that the votes of Democrats don't matter; only the votes of superdelegates matter in this race.

The hand wringing among Democrats has begun (see this Democratic Daily piece for an example), and I can't blame those on the Left for their anxiety and nervousness.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

How Not to Support Moderate Islam

GetReligion has a nice critique of this Newsweek edit--er, article which ostensibly tells about intolerant Christians and tolerant Muslims. The problem is, the article does more to bolster the theory of Muslim extremism than that Christians are intolerant. I can't do a better job, so head to GetReligion for the story.

What it does note, however, is how many journalists put on their blinders where Christianity and Islam are concerned. So desperate to portray Islam as inclusive and peace-loving, reporters downplay the numerous frequent violent episodes triggered by Muslim intolerance for difference, free expression, or individualism. Equally, journalists desire to portray Christians as Inquisition-and-Crusade-causing, blood-thirsty hypocrites that they turn the mildest expressions of difference as violent or intolerant. Such excesses do little to bolster the MSM's flagging reputation as bastions of truth and objectivity.

Don't Question Their Patriotism: Hollywood and the War in Iraq

I wouldn't say Hollywood is stupid...wait, yes, I would. Hollywood is stupid to continue to produce anti-American crap like Stop-Loss because (a) Americans won't buy it and (b) they lose any credibility when they try to tell us how patriotic they are.

Via Memeorandum,Nikki Finke says,

I'm told #7 Stop-Loss opened to only $1.6 million Friday from just 1,291 plays and should eke out $4+M. Although the drama from MTV Films was the best-reviewed movie opening this weekend, Paramount wasn't expecting much because no Iraq war-themed movie has yet to perform at the box office. "It's not looking good," a studio source told me before the weekend. "No one wants to see Iraq war movies. No matter what we put out there in terms of great cast or trailers, people were completely turned off. It's a function of the marketplace not being ready to address this conflict in a dramatic way because the war itself is something that's unresolved yet. It's a shame because it's a good movie that's just ahead of its time."

Emphasis mine.

What is wrong with these people? Americans don't want to see anti-American movies, not because the war is on-going, but because they dislike films that bash our country relentlessly. As DRJ at Patterico's Pontifications points out, Hollywood needs to realistically judge its markets and stop cramming this sort of thing down our throats. We don't want to see it.

And as Jaime Sneider of the Weekly Standard says, Hollywood produced plenty of box office hits during World War II. They just weren't America-bashing films. But remember: don't question their patriotism!

Stupidity on the Right

It's not often I criticize the Right, but here it comes. When a Senate candidate legally changes his name to Pro-Life, I draw the line.

A Senate candidate has legally changed his name to Pro-Life and will appear on the ballot that way this year, state election officials say.

As Marvin Pro-Life Richardson, the organic strawberry farmer from Letha, 30 miles northwest of Boise, was denied the use of his middle name when he ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2006 because the state's policy bars the use of slogans on the ballot.

Now, though, officials in the Idaho secretary of state's office say they have no choice because Pro-Life is his full and only name. He says he will run for the highest state office on the ballot every two years for the rest of his life, advocating murder charges for doctors who perform abortions and for women who obtain the procedure.

"I think it's just and I think it's proper to have Pro-Life on the ballot," he told the Idaho Press-Tribune of Nampa. "If I save one baby's life, it's worth it."

I'm not advocating taking away this man's right to change his name, but being a nut doesn't help the pro-life movement.

PC and the Burger

Perhaps Quickie Burger wasn't the best name choice for burger joint owners near the University of Michigan campus. But it wasn't the name that got them into trouble. It was their logo.

The Stonewall Democrats, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender caucus of the University's College Democrats chapter, has taken offense with the restaurant's logo and recently began circulating a petition to sway the owners to change the logo.

LSA senior Kolby Roberts, a member of the Stonewall Democrats who has led the effort, said he finds the logo's message inappropriate and offensive.

"I have a problem that you take a women riding a hamburger and you put it next to the word 'quickie,' " he said. "It just seems like it's not putting a good message out there for the objectification of women."

Maybe I'm missing something here. Is a woman riding a hamburger particularly sexy? If so, I can think of a million new ad campaigns for McDonald's, Wendy's, and Whataburger. And what about Hooters? Maybe they don't have those in Michigan.

Perhaps we should all breathe a sigh of relief that all sexism has been vanquished and we are left protesting stupid things like a cowgirl riding a hamburger.

The Out of Control Sex Offender Panic

It's hard to write anything in favor of sex offenders, but when talking to children in a public place leads to arrest or giving someone a hug leads to six months in prison, even the most ardent protector of children has to say our society has gone insane.

I believe in protecting children from predators. Real predators. The kind who want to molest children or harm them in other ways. But hugging people, talking to children, and even teenagers engaged in consentual sex can be branded sex offenders and forced to register yearly with the state and barred from working or living in certain places. In short, if a man holds a child's hand, that man can be accused of sexually abusing the child, even if there's no evidence of this.

This is to say nothing about false abuse claims by wayward, angry teenagers or overzealous teachers or other officials. Let's face it: if you are a teacher, minister, or other child care professional, you are required by law to report suspected abuse. The problem isn't so much the professionals; the problem is the law.

Laws in most states lump everything--including hugs, horseplay, regular family affection and consentual sex--into the same sexual abuse category. Why? Because it's much easier to ensure real sexual offenders get caught if the net is cast very wide. Unfortunately, it catches a lot of people that we wouldn't typically consider sexual offenders.

I'm not in favor of loosening laws in such a way as to allow actual molesters to go free, but it seems to me that calling hugs sexual abuse is far from reasonable. Our national hysteria over child sexual abuse isn't so much catching predators as punishing the unsuspecting.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Sure, They Issue a Correction, But the Headline Stays the Same

Blogs are known for their political bias, but journalistic sloppiness, while common is unacceptable. Take this example from Think Progress, which accused John McCain of plagiarizing a 1996 speech by Rear Admiral Timothy Ziemer.

As Amanda Carpenter at points out, Think Progress isn't any more unbiased than Media Matters. Both are leftwing shills. Think Progress is "an arm of the leftwing Center for American Progress," and, as such, doesn't particularly care if it gets facts straight.

That's why, when Think Progress was informed by the John McCain campaign that it was, in fact, Ziemer who plagiarized a a 1995 speech by John McCain, the story still remained up with the same headline at Think Progress.

Journalistic integrity? Not by a long shot.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Did Bigot Wright Hurt Obama?

No, according to this Wall Street Journal poll.

The latest survey has the Democratic rivals in a dead heat, each with 45% support from registered Democratic voters. That is a slight improvement for Sen. Obama, though a statistically insignificant one, from the last Journal/NBC poll, two weeks ago, which had Sen. Clinton leading among Democratic voters, 47% to 43%.

While Sen. Clinton still leads among white Democrats, her edge shrank to eight points (49% to 41%) from 12 points in early March (51% to 39%). That seems to refute widespread speculation -- and fears among Sen. Obama's backers -- that he would lose white support for his bid to be the nation's first African-American president over the controversy surrounding his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. of Chicago.

But, as Ed Morrissey of Hot Air points out, the Wright flap may not have affected Democrats--who were polled about the controversy--but the poll says nothing about what independents and Republicans who might have been trending Democrat say.

In other words, among the fellate Obama crowd, whether their candidate sat in the pews absorbing bigotted speech for 20 years is irrelevant. I'm not sure if independents will feel the same way when given choices. As Larry Kudlow has said recently, this election is shaping up into a classic Left-vs.-Right battle. We'll see which approach the American electorate prefers.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Does This Matter?

That Barack and Michelle Obama gave a little over $77,000 to charity in 2005 when they earned over $1 million?

I don't know if it does or not. The Obamas were quite stingy with their largesse when they were struggling to get by on a quarter of a mil. And, seemingly, they've given more money as Obama's presidential prospects have become clearer. Perhaps I'm just cynical.

Byron York at National Review points out something different that the tax returns reveal.

Something else that strikes me about the returns is their relation to Michelle Obama's tales of her and her husband's struggle. When I saw Mrs. Obama at an appearance in Zanesville, Ohio last month, she was telling a group of low-income women — the median household income in the county in which Zanesville is located was $37,192 in 2004, well below the state and national medians — about how hard it can be to keep things together. Her talk often touched on money. "I know we're spending — I added it up for the first time — we spend between the two kids, on extracurriculars outside the classroom, we're spending about $10,000 a year on piano and dance and sports supplements and so on and so forth," she told the women of her own household expenses. "And summer programs. That's the other huge cost. Barack is saying, 'Whyyyyyy are we spending that?' And I'm saying, 'Do you know what summer camp costs?'"

The women nodded in agreement, although the Obamas were spending what amounted to nearly a third of a Zanesville resident's annual income on piano and dance lessons. Nevertheless, Michelle Obama portrayed herself and her husband as going through a lot of the same struggles as the women and their families. She conceded that she was doing fine financially, but only after Barack Obama hit it big with his books.

But that's not exactly true, Michelle. Most people would live quite comfortably on a quarter of a million dollars, as I pointed out here. Even with their student loans, the Obamas did quite well. Complaining about $10,000 for extracurricular activities probably won't resonate well with average Americans.

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Founders' Quote for Those Who Hate Christians

"If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if
without it?"

-- Benjamin Franklin

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

Of course, Easter isn't really about chocolate bunnies and Easter eggs.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever should believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.--John 3:16.

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.--2 Corinthians 5:21

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.--Philippians 2:8

It's a time to embrace the enormity of our unworthiness and the glory of God's gift to mankind.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Concise Moonbat Stereotype of the Right

From Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon:

Remember that the major motivating factor for many war supporters, especially those left, is this sense that they aren’t real men and someone is going to discover this any day now. So they have to wave guns, wear camouflage, rail against the feminists rejecting their manly property claims over uterine real estate through abortion, and of course support any and every war that comes along to prove that they’re real men.

I like this stereotype of war supporters because it not only marginalizes female war supporters--I dunno, are women trying to prove they're real men, as well?--but because it includes all the other contemptible traits of conservatives that drive moonbats moonbatty. Gun ownership--the horror! Wearing camouflage--it's like a secret hand signal! Supporting life--OMG! They just want women barefoot & preggers! Supporting America--get the smelling salts!

I needed a good funny like this. It's always great watching fruitless Amanda Marcotte shriek like the jealous spinster she must be. I say that because it's the most logical conclusion to explain why she's so obsessed with the reproductive habits of other people. I mean, if it's all a "choice," why does she care that a man includes the fact that he's a family man in a lawsuit? I don't believe for a moment that Amanda is as braindead as she often appears to be. Surely even she knows that plaintiffs in lawsuits bring in various information that they think helps support their claims. In this case, a librarian at Ohio State University is suing the school because he was accused of sexual harassment for recommending the book The Marketing of Evil by David Kupelian for a freshman reading list.
Scott Savage, who said he resigned because of personal and professional attacks on his character, asks for his job back and for OSU to be forced to change its sexual-harassment policies.

OSU is "an aggressive proponent of the homosexual lifestyle by virtue of its practices and policies," Savage says in the lawsuit, filed in federal court because he says his civil rights were violated.

"OSU is therefore a naturally hostile environment to the expression of traditional Christian beliefs and morality."

It seems to me that if a plaintiff is accusing a defendant of being hostile to "expressions of traditional Christian beliefs" that the plaintiff would provide background information about himself. In that context, stating that he "is a devout Christian, married for 18 years and the father of eight" doesn't seem crazy to me. But I suppose if you are anti-children, you have to take your hatred where it can go.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bad News for Jeromy Brown

According to this Rasmussen poll, bigot Jeremiah Wright has done some damage to Barack Obama, although it's difficult to tell how long-lasting.

The good news for Obama is that his numbers have stopped falling since his speech on Tuesday. The bad news is that they haven’t bounced back.

In the week before the media frenzy over Wright, Obama and McCain were essentially tied in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll. Less than a week later, and two days after Obama’s speech, McCain had opened a seven-point lead over Obama. Significantly, by Thursday’s polling, McCain had pulled slightly ahead of Obama among unaffiliated voters. McCain also enjoys unified support from Republican voters while Obama only attracts 65% of Democratic votes at this time.

Obama’s favorable ratings have also fallen below the 50% mark since the world learned of his former Pastor. This can be seen as part of a larger trend that began shortly after Obama’s victories in the Wisconsin Primaries. At that time, just before Hillary Clinton began raising questions about her competitor, Obama was viewed favorably by 56% of voters nationwide. That had slipped to 52% just before Pastor Wright’s views became big news and to 47% just before Obama’s speech. Two days after the speech, Obama’s favorables remain at 48%.

My crystal ball is pretty foggy these days, but these poll numbers tell me a couple of things. First, like Shelby Steele noted, some of Obama's appeal has been in what characeristics people project onto him. That is, how much they identify with him, his views and opinions, his experiences and so on. As we learn more about Obama's behavior, his scant legislative record, his associations (such as Wright), that picture of Obama is changing and becoming less a reflection of what supporters what to see in Obama and more of who Obama actually is. This isn't to say that many supporters won't or don't like who Obama is; it's simply saying that he's an untried commodity and the general dissatisfaction with government among the electorate makes him more attractive that way.

The second thing that these numbers don't tell us is how long-lasting the bigot Wright's speeches will have on Obama's popularity. Already, there's this FOX poll, which says that a majority of people don't believe that Obama agrees with Wright's views. This is the argument Jeromy Brown has tried to make: it's ok to hang out with a bigot for 20 years as long as you don't march in the streets with him. I don't believe that for a minute. I'd like to see a press conference where reporters asked Obama if he thinks the government invented AIDS to get rid of black people or if Obama agrees with other batshit crazy statements by Wright on Israel (link courtesy of Common Sense Political Thought).

Jeromy accused me of wanting to "tar him with an angry black man talking crazy shit that we’ve all heard angry black folks talk before, and getting white people to be afraid." But the fact is, Obama chose to listen to this for 20 years. There's no evidence--other than his speech the other day--that he didn't agree with Wright. And I'm not just talking about publicly denouncing and embarrassing Wright. I don't tolerate bigots, but I can understand that others don't have my intestinal fortitude. I'm still looking for the witnesses who will tell us about Obama shaking his head and telling them that he disagreed with some scintilla of Wright's blather.

This is why I don't buy the argument that Obama didn't ever, ever agree with Wright's hyperbole. A better argument, IMO, would be to ask what effect that agreement would have on Obama's presidency. Perhaps it would have none; perhaps it would have a lot. It certainly goes against the "unity" talk.

Regardless, November is a long time away, and there will be more. Oh, wait. There already is.

What happened to that articulate guy who wanted to unite all of us? Psst. This ain't the way to do it, even if Melissa McEwan has decided that we're all racists. Maybe that's the sort of unity Obama is going for.

March Madness...I Got the Fever!

Dan Wetzel has this terrific column on the NCAA tournament and how March Madness will cost companies millions of dollars in lost productivity as workers try to sneak a peak at their favorite schools.

I confess that the first two days of the NCAA tournament are my favorite sports events, even more than the Super Bowl or the World Series. I love the fact that obscure schools get television time along with the powerhouses and for a couple of days, those schools need to be reckoned with.

The beauty is in the diversity of the participants. The schools come in all shapes and sizes, from 30 different states and the District of Columbia. This year’s field includes giant public schools and little private ones; bastions of liberalism and conservative, religious institutions. They come from small towns (Rock Hill, Starkville, Emmitsburg) and giant cities (Los Angeles, Washington, Miami).

It’s a tournament where there is a team from Manhattan, Kan., but not Manhattan, N.Y. – the Little Apple one upping the Big Apple. Where terms such as Hoyas, Tar Heels and Hoosiers make sense and it’s great to be a Boilermaker, a Sooner or a Cardinal.

Because of America’s obsession with underdogs and upsets, it is the time of year we gladly become Delta Devils and Toreros; when you can be a South Alabama fan even if you thought all of Alabama was south.

This is where atheists cheer for Oral Roberts, where everyone loves the Drake (or hates the Drake, if they screw up your office pool) and you might cheer for Kent State, even if you have no idea who Kent is or when exactly we named a state after him. It’s an event so bizarre that a place such as Kansas, generally congenial, friendly, harmless Kansas, is to be feared.

I must confess that, this year, I have a vested interest in that David-vs.-Goliath analogy. My alma mater, the University of Texas at Arlington, is making its first appearance in the tournament. Proud? You bet!

Of course, as Wetzel points out, the tournament isn't just about the amusing spectacle of Portland State beating Kansas. It's also about the gambling.
What the NCAA never wants to admit is that much of the tournament’s popularity is due to gambling and not just in legal Las Vegas sports books that are overloaded this weekend. It’s the office pools that serve as a great equalizer when Maria from human resources gets the better of all those CSTV junkies because her dominant state flower formula magically predicts the 12-over-5 upsets.

We illegally wager the GNP of a small country on this tournament. But no one ever seems to do anything about it, probably because at this very moment inside the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, home of the FBI itself, a bracket is getting passed around.

And if Belmont gets up on Duke or Austin Peay puts a scare into Texas you can bet there will be muffled cheers from their federal cubicles just like in every other office.

When I worked at the paper, we had 2 different pools. There was the sophisticated pool, where wannabe experts picked their brackets and winners were determined by some mathematical computation using skills most reporters claim not to have.

Then there was the other pool, which was $1 a pick, and everybody drew names from a hat. The randomness of your pick, and the fact that people like me had the same chance as the sports reporters who covered the teams, was the greatest appeal to me.

Because the truth is, I never watch college basketball except during the tournament. Like a lot of sports that I would call "amusing," I only watch the "important" events. Wimbledon. The Kentucky Derby. The Super Bowl. That sort of stuff.

None of that will stop me from cheering for my Mavericks tomorrow, though. Mine might be the cheers or groans one hears from the cubicle.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama's Appeal

Shelby Steele has, yet again, another excellent analysis, this time of Barack Obama's appeal.

But whatever her (Geraldine Ferraro's) motives, she was right: "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position." Barack Obama is, of course, a very talented politician with a first-rate political organization at his back. But it does not detract from his merit to say that his race is also a large part of his prominence. And it is undeniable that something extremely powerful in the body politic, a force quite apart from the man himself, has pulled Obama forward. This force is about race and nothing else...

How to turn one's blackness to advantage?

The answer is that one "bargains." Bargaining is a mask that blacks can wear in the American mainstream, one that enables them to put whites at their ease. This mask diffuses the anxiety that goes along with being white in a multiracial society. Bargainers make the subliminal promise to whites not to shame them with America's history of racism, on the condition that they will not hold the bargainer's race against him. And whites love this bargain -- and feel affection for the bargainer -- because it gives them racial innocence in a society where whites live under constant threat of being stigmatized as racist. So the bargainer presents himself as an opportunity for whites to experience racial innocence.

This is how Mr. Obama has turned his blackness into his great political advantage, and also into a kind of personal charisma. Bargainers are conduits of white innocence, and they are as popular as the need for white innocence is strong. Mr. Obama's extraordinary dash to the forefront of American politics is less a measure of the man than of the hunger in white America for racial innocence.

Jeromy Brown would never admit the truth in Steele's statement, but there's no doubt that Obama's appeal lies in what white liberals--and it is white liberals to whom he aims his appeal--think supporting him says about them. Indeed, there can be little else that explain it because, as Steele points out, his policies are hardly distinguishable from Hillary Clinton's. The fact is, Obama makes white liberals feel good about supporting him. They think supporting him says that they have overcome their racist tendencies (because, by virtue of being born white, they must be racist).

And similiarly, this makes it more difficult to attack Obama because his supporters will play the race card at any possible challenge. Witness Jeromy Brown's response at Common Sense Political Thought to my post on Obama, Jeremiah Wright, and black liberation theology:
And do you think Barack Obama holds Wright’s views towards white people? Are you afraid Barack Obama is a secret Black Panther? Do you think he will usher in some new era of racism towards white people? Is there any scrap of evidence for any of that besides Obama’s church attendance? Do you think there’s the slightest tiniest chance that Obama understands when blacks vent their feelings the same way he understands when whites vent theirs…much like he said in his speech?

The underlying assumption of Brown's comment is that anyone pointing out the obvious racism of Obama's spiritual mentor must be fearful of black power (fear of a black man) and unwilling to accept their own racist views that they don't like Obama...because he's black.

I dislike Obama because I think his radical and liberal policies are bad for the country. And, yes, I think if you sit in the pews listening to a racist minister for 20 years, you probably accept many, if not all, of his views. Obama himself tried to equate his grandmother--a woman he didn't choose to be related to--with his minister--a man that he embraced willingly as an adult.

As Jules Crittenden said, it's hard to tell if Obama's speech was more condescending to white people or black people. And worse,
large parts of America and the press apparently don’t have a problem with someone occupying the White House who not only has a platform that ranges from warmed-over socialism to dangerously naive foreign policy views and lacks much in the way of meaningful professional preparation for the job, but on top of that, has a spiritual counselor who is a raving anti-American bigot. None of which points are actually about race. They are about qualifications and judgment.

Obama lacks judgment as demonstrated by his choice of spiritual mentors, as well as various silly foreign policy statements he has made. He lacks understanding and wisdom and experience.

Which isn't going to persuade Obamamaniacs. After all, Bitter Scribe's answer to criticism of Obama is to point out religious leaders on the right who have said horrible things! *gasp* They will continue apologizing for black racism and excuse Obama's ties to it in ways that would be completely unacceptable from white candidates. There is a double standard here, you see.

The Race Card Is Played...At Last!

The media are making quite a lot of Barak Obama's entry into the real world of politics. No, I'm not talking about the sloppy, wet kisses the press has thrown at Obama for months. I'm talking about the actual scrutiny this man who wants to be president may be getting because his mentor, Jeremiah Wright is a bigot.

I guess Obama believes the cooing of people like Jeromy Brown, who want to fellate the presidential candidate. How else to explain his ridiculous attempts to dismiss questions about the role Wright has played in shaping Obama's opinions and positions through 20 years at his church? Yesterday, we were even faced with the spectacle of moonbats using Clintonian techniques to try to dismiss criticism of Obama's choice of churches. I mean, please. Does it truly matter if Obama attended the July 22 meeting or not? Wright spewed his hatred of white people week after week. This isn't something Wright saved up for when Obama was strategically missing from the pews.

Now we have Obama giving his Mitt Romney religion speech, and liberals seem to think it will put the whole thing to rest. Gosh, Obama wants to transcend race! He doesn't care about race! He makes white liberals feel all squiggly inside, and that's not guilt!

I can honestly say I don't care that Obama is black. Like most white Americans born after 1960, I grew up in desegregated schools and have lived with and been friends with many black people over the years. Does that mean I don't think racism exists in America? Nope. I know there are people who hate other people for being black, but I also recognize that the reverse is true and that there's no justification for that, either. You can argue all you want about lunch counters, drinking fountains, and housing, but the bottom line is that until we accept that racism has existed but we don't condone it these days, we'll never get past it. And, by the way, some people will never get past it, which is the poison Rev. Wright was preaching and Barak Obama was lapping up week after week in his church.

Don't tell me that Obama didn't like blaming someone else for his failures (however few they may have been) or those of people he cared for. It's much easier to blame some institutionalized racism or sexism for failures or difficulties than to accept responsibility. Both Barak and Michelle Obama have had the opportunity to attend institutions that would have laughed at my application. Did race play a part in that? Probably, but I think having terrific grades and better accomplishments played a bigger role.

But what do I know? I'm just a white woman who, according to Rev. Wright, have never seen discrimination.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Thank God for Men

I must say I agree with this Brad Paisley video:

Friday, March 14, 2008

Why Obama Loves Earmarks

They are helpful to his wife and major contributors.

OK, so the Obamessiah has taken gifts from indicted businessman Tony Rezko and now we know Obama doesn't mind using the power of a senator to help his wife and contributors. Sounds like Obama really is a Chicago politician.

Pass the popcorn, please.

Democratic Chickens Come Home to Roost

It's been amusing watching the fallout from Geraldine Ferraro's truth-telling about race and sex within the Democratic party.

Ferraro, as you might recall, said, "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any colour) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."

Democrats swooned, clutched their pearls, fanned themselves with their tiny lace fans and used the smelling salts because one of their own--the first female vice presidential candidate!--dared to point out that the wizard was only a little man behind a curtain.

Ferraro is right, and it is precisely because she is right that the Democrats are so angry. If a Republican had said what Ferraro said, he/she would be branded a racist, and now the Democrats have taken out the long knives on Ferraro, including Keith Olbermann blustering against her.

Barak Obama owes his place in this presidential race to the fact that this country is still paying pennace for slavery, and Obama is "black enough" and "not too black" to be able to attract both minority and white voters who are anxious to make history and show they aren't racists by voting for a black candidate. There, I said it.

This isn't to say that there aren't people who favor Obama because they like his policies (such as they know them). There are those. But there's also more than a few Americans caught up in the historical significance of Obama's campaign. He is the first truly viable black candidate for president we've had, and with that status, he's been given a free, or close to free, ride on the issues. That's what Ferraro was saying.

What Ferraro didn't say is that Hillary Clinton isn't just a woman presidential candidate. She's a Clinton, which means she has all the baggage that goes with eight years of "it depends on what the meaning of is is." Feminists are furious that Hillary isn't getting the same free pass Obama has gotten, which is why they have complained vociferously for months that Hillary has been asked tougher question, gotten more of them, and has received greater scrutiny than her opponent.

From a Republican standpoint, watching the Democrats eat each other is terrific. This hullabaloo is the result of their own long-standing policy of being more concerned about immutable characteristics like race and sex than about philosophies, policies, and ability. The perfect storm--who expected Democrats to have a woman and a black person both running for president at the same time?--has shown the worst traits of identity politics and given the best example to date why individual behavior should be the standard. Of course, that's a thoroughly Republican idea.

A Question About Universal Healthcare

I had to go to the doctor yesterday. Actually, I've needed to go for a while--it's nothing major--but the situation with my father distracted me from my own health concerns. It just didn't seem terribly important under the circumstances.

My doctor asked me the usual doctorly questions about my problem: how long, does it hurt, here are the options. Then he asked me the biggie: why had I waited so long to take care of this problem?

For the most part, I've been coping just fine with my father's death. But there was something about having to tell my physician that made me break down. My doctor then went on to ask me more questions about my condition and interspersed these with questions about my care for my father. Was my mother alive? No. Did I have siblings? Yes. Did they live close? No. And so on.

Finally, at the end of the visit, we discussed treatments, then the doctor looked at me and smiled and said, "Sometimes, the gods look down on us and smile." Then he made a big "X" on my chart and wrote "no charge" at the top.

I was stunned. I have no insurance, largely because it is overpriced for contractors and my husband isn't eligible. In other words, we are among those uninsured Americans who have chosen not to get insurance because of its various prohibitive properties (including ineligibility). My doctor knew this and took pity on me, given current circumstances. His kindness saved me $70 for the office visit, plus about $110 in X-ray costs.

Here's my question: how compassionate are doctors under universal healthcare, where patients aren't paying for their care? I've never seen a doctor wave fees when a patient has insurance, yet, I know for a fact that doctors regularly wave their fees for private pay patients. It's just another way doctors--those big, bad, greedy doctors--show compassion and concern for their patients. How do doctors who are overworked and underpaid in universal healthcare systems (and I've been a patient in some) show that sort of sympathy?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The "Consenting Adults" Defense and Why It Doesn't Work

Remember when Bill Clinton was impeached and Democrats told us it was just "private behavior by consenting adults," which meant that lying about it to the court was acceptable?

Remember when Larry Craig was toe-tapping in the men's room and liberals suddenly didn't worry about "private behavior by consenting adults" anymore?

Now, evidently, some liberals are back to whining about "private behavior by consenting adults" again when it comes to New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's link to a prostitution ring.

Here's Jane Hamsher whining at Firedoglake:

What is a USA doing prosecuting a prostitution case? This isn't normally what the feds spend their time with.

Here's sock puppeteer Glenn Greenwald's defense--although he says he's not defending Spitzer--of Spitzer.

According to ABC News, it wasn't the sex; it was the bribery that makes the case. Think Jane will back down? Me either.

Monday, March 10, 2008

It's So Hard to Make it on Half a Mill

Poor Michelle Obama. She works so hard. She has that terrific husband, the senator, the one who wants to be president. She has two kids, and those kids are what we used to call "high maintenance." What else would you call it when Mrs. Obama says things like this:

"We spend between the two kids, on extracurriculars outside the classroom, we're spending about $10,000 a year on piano and dance and sports supplements. And summer programs...Do you know what summer camp costs?"

As Don Surber points out, no, I don't. But I did send my oldest daughter to Girl Scout camp a couple of times and we had to sell 350 boxes of cookies to do it. I guess that doesn't hold a candle to the Obamas problems.

Like John Edwards used to say, there are two Americas: the one inhabited by the Edwardses and the Obamas and the one inhabited by the rest of us. I'm not poor by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm pretty sure we don't spend $10,000 on piano and dance lessons and sports stuff.
Dance lessons: N/A (we haven't done them yet).

Piano lessons: N/A (we don't own a piano)

Sports: $300 per year, if both kids play fall and spring

That comes to $300 per year for those supplementals. And even if we sent the kids to church camp (which we plan to this year), the total spent on "enrichment" would be less than $2,000 for two kids. Maybe we just don't have the right supplementals.

Children Lie...Who Knew?

This New York Magazine article discusses why children lie and where they learn it. Guess what? They learn to lie from their parents.

The most disturbing reason children lie is that parents teach them to. According to (Dr. Victoria) Talwar, they learn it from us. “We don’t explicitly tell them to lie, but they see us do it. They see us tell the telemarketer, ‘I’m just a guest here.’ They see us boast and lie to smooth social relationships.”

The examples used are common: lying about a unliked gift to make a relative feel better or so something unpleasant is not said. We even praise when children lie well under those circumstances. But those situations set the standard for children, and they notice our inconsistencies.

By the time these children are teenagers, the lying may become almost reflexive. Teenagers may see lying to their parents and the secretiveness involved as a way of exerting their independence. And, despite what permissive parents may think, setting no boundaries doesn't produce more honest children.
(Dr. Nancy) Darling found that permissive parents don’t actually learn more about their children’s lives. “Kids who go wild and get in trouble mostly have parents who don’t set rules or standards. Their parents are loving and accepting no matter what the kids do. But the kids take the lack of rules as a sign their parents don’t care—that their parent doesn’t really want this job of being the parent.”

Pushing a teen into rebellion by having too many rules was a sort of statistical myth. “That actually doesn’t happen,” remarks Darling. She found that most rules-heavy parents don’t actually enforce them. “It’s too much work,” says Darling. “It’s a lot harder to enforce three rules than to set twenty rules.”

A few parents managed to live up to the stereotype of the oppressive parent, with lots of psychological intrusion, but those teens weren’t rebelling. They were obedient. And depressed.

“Ironically, the type of parents who are actually most consistent in enforcing rules are the same parents who are most warm and have the most conversations with their kids,” Darling observes. They’ve set a few rules over certain key spheres of influence, and they’ve explained why the rules are there. They expect the child to obey them. Over life’s other spheres, they supported the child’s autonomy, allowing them freedom to make their own decisions.

The kids of these parents lied the least. Rather than hiding twelve areas from their parents, they might be hiding as few as five.

As Wendy McElroy of points out, all of this calls into question a fundamental assumption of the legal system: kids don't lie. Clearly, the research establishes that just the opposite is true. Children do lie, lie often, and aren't disturbed by their own lying. They are taught to lie from an early stage through modeling and reward and learn that they can frequently have the things they want if they lie effectively enough. It is one of the important facets of parental alienation syndrome, where children become actively involved in disassociating from one parent.

In the legal system, children always are considered to be telling the truth unless there is concrete proof otherwise. Their motives for their statements are never questioned and children--even 17-year-olds--typically are not placed on the witness stand for cross-examination. At best, most judges will take a child into chambers and question him or her in private. But most parents know that such circumstances are just as likely to produce the same or more lies as get to the truth.

I'm not sure what the answer to this problem is. It is obviously still in a child's best interest to believe him or her, particularly young children. But it seems to me that as children become of an age where they are allowed an active voice in legal proceedings (12 in most states), that those same children should be required to testify in court and the defense allowed to cross examine them. It is one of the rare cases where the defendant is not allowed to question his or her accuser.

The New Soccer Moms...

are ecomoms.

She’s not just a little bit green - after all, we’re all a little bit green in the age of the recycling bin. She’s Green with a capital G, as in knowing-your-carbon-footprint green. And whether she’s hobnobbing with celebrity Ecomoms like Laurie David, Sheryl Crow or Robin Wright Penn, hosting an Ecomom party or simply topping up the compost pile before Pilates class, she’s the new new-mom and her concerns about toxins in the home, organic produce and low-impact living have come to dominate the pages of parenting and lifestyle magazines.

I'd noticed this trend in blogs, parenting magazines, and even on the morning talk shows. Ecomoms are everywhere and they are telling you how you should live.

I'm not against conservation or using healthier products. I don't want my family drinking water tainted with poisons and medications, either. But many green products are ugly, inefficient, and too expensive. As I've discovered since trying to switch to more organic foods, it's almost impossible to feed a family of four or five easily. And maybe that's the ecomoms' point.

Many environmentalists are blunt about it: don't have kids. You're selfish if you do. And if you actually think having children is a blessing, you'll be called idiots or worse.

It's difficult to reconcile the underlying philosophy of environmental practices (have fewer people) with the free market philosophies of those exploiting environmental concerns. Which is why I don't pay too much attention to these trends.

Parody of an Obama Speech

Found this parody in a Larry Elder column:

Thank you very much. It’s great to be here... Change is never easy. Change is hard. Some change is harder than others. And easy change is never as easy as hard change, if only because hard change is hard. Changing the easy to the hard is harder than changing the hard to the easy. But if, ladies and gentlemen, you are looking for easy change done the hard way, then that hard change will not be easy, if only because change is hard, and harder change is much harder when it is hard than when it is easy. This is especially the case if you use the same way of changing results that ultimately result in change done the hard way. And that is why I am proposing hard change with a different approach that could ensure a different change than we’ve had in the past with the same approach only with different results with easy change than the hard change that we’ve had when change was, in fact, easy. Thank you very much.

'Nuff said.

The Power of God

I don't usually discuss religion in a philosophical way here for a couple of reasons. First, religious people get it and already have plenty of religious things to read and non-religious people don't get it and don't want to read those things. The second is that it is often awkward for me to talk about these things in a less than abstract way because God is so personal to me. Call it the hiding-in-my-closet-to-pray-to-God thing.

I also understand that religious people see God's hand moving through their daily lives, while non-religious people typically just see coincidences. I've never believed in coincidences, largely because of my father's remarkable life which would have included far too many. For example, I doubt there are few men who served in three wars in three war zones without being in direct combat. Or few men could survive an accident, as my father did about a dozen years ago, in which his vehicle was literally ping-ponged between two 18-wheelers. But my father walked away from that accident.

I don't think it was a coincidence that Dad went to England on his second tour in 1955 and met a cute English girl that he had a difficult time talking to without a little alcohol to fortify him. Or that he managed to be married for 38 years to that same cute girl.

When my mother died 12 years ago, I was devastated. I was as close to my mother as a daughter can be, not just because I loved her, but because we liked so many of the same things: needlework, crafts, mysteries, movies, Scrabble, board games, puzzles, and more. Like most parents, my mother had developed the knack over the years of listening to her children's ramblings without comment or judgment, which had drawn us closer to her and made us more willing to talk to her about everything in our lives, even those things we might otherwise hide. I told her the minutiae of my life and she seemed to enjoy my stories as much as I enjoyed telling her.

My father, OTOH, wasn't like that. We had bickered and butted heads since my adolescence, and I generally didn't talk to him much. Just as I doted on my mother, it is sad to say I avoided my father because our exchanges were so unpleasant. Looking back, I realize that perhaps the reason those exchanges were that way is because I didn't talk to him otherwise and it probably hurt him a great deal.

My mother died after an all-too-brief bout of lung cancer (42 days), and our grief was severe and long-lasting. I remember wondering why on earth God had done that to us? We all loved Mom so much! She was so important to all of us. How could a loving God take this pillar of our life so soon?

Through the years, I came up with a variety of theological explanations for it: "if Mom was in pain and ready to go, God wasn't going to keep her here against her own wishes." Or "her work here was done and it was time." But the last few days, I've been given a different insight into her death. Perhaps God did what He did for a number of reasons, but I have to think that one factor in our interwoven fabric of lives was so that I would have the time to focus and re-establish a relationship with my father.

For the last 12 years, I've gone to see my father about twice a week, usually on Sundays and Wednesdays. Sometimes, particularly in the last few years, it's been a lot more often than that. Over time, our visits became richer and more meaningful. I would never try to tell anyone that I told my father the minutiae of my day--that's what my husband is for!--but we learned how to communicate without fighting and to appreciate our differences. We also discovered (or, at least, I discovered) how similar to Dad I've actually always been. My stubbornness, independence, and outspokenness are all admirable qualities from my father. And his quick-witted debate skills helped me develop my own over time. God knew that I needed solo time with Dad to get to know and appreciate him in a way I wouldn't have done under other circumstances.

A second experience of God's power--as opposed to "coincidence"--happened last night at Dad's viewing.

I think I'm a morbid person because, in some ways, I enjoy funerals. It's not that I like people dying, but in discussing the person who is gone, you learn such fascinating and funny things about them and about the many people who touched their lives. There's great comfort in these ceremonies to me.

For instance, last night, my oldest friend came. I've known this boy--er, man, since I was three and he was 18 months old. We grew up together, but, sadly, I hadn't seen him in more than 20 years. Yet somehow, a newspaper obituary spoke to him and caused him to come. We had a wonderful time visiting and catching up, and he gave my siblings and me insights into our father that we never knew.

A longtime friend from grade school and her mother also came. These were people I'd only seen at my mother's funeral, yet they found us again in a time of grief and shared their stories and anecdotes. Finding out what people have done over time, as well as reminiscing, is a terrific solace.

My closest friend also came with her mother. Unlike the other two friends, she hadn't known my father except through my stories, but her presence and comfort eased the pain as well.

There were other people as well: my minister and his wife, the chaplain from hospice, relatives of relatives. I found myself in awe of the number of lives touched by my father either directly or indirectly. And I realized yet again that there are no coincidences; everything, even the most heart-wrenching, has its own purpose.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Dewey Hatfield Memorial Denny's Breakfast

The two eggs & more breakfast with grits and dry white toast.

Oddly, my siblings and I all ended up eating at Denny's yesterday, even though we weren't all together (yet).

My father loved Denny's. I used to take him to Denny's at least twice a week once he didn't drive anymore. He nearly always ordered that same meal. With a cup of coffee. And a refill. Which would take him forever to finish--and he had to finish it--regardless of how well or badly behaved my children were and how insane they were driving me.

I laugh at memories of him blandly sipping his coffee, watching me reprimand my brood or chase after them in the restaurant.

"Dad, you ready to go yet?" I'd ask.

"I still have a little bit of coffee," he'd always answer, pointing at the two sips still left in the cup. There was hardly a swallow left, but it would take him 20 minutes to finish it.

Sometimes, I'd pay the bill and take my kids out to the car where they could wrestle, argue, make car noises with their mouths, or play without disturbing anyone else. Later, I learned to crochet and would sit across from Dad crocheting while he finished his coffee. Either way, I knew nothing would hurry him because Dad refused to be hurried.

Maybe I'll have to have a cup of coffee the next time I go in. And I'll take my time with it.

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Passing of a Great Man

My father died last night.

That's a hard thing to write and looks strange when I typed it. The journalist in me wrote that in the terse style we are taught in Reporting I classes. There, you are told not to use a lot of flowery language like "passing away," "passing on," or any of the other euphemisms most people say when they talk about dying. "A person dies," my teacher said. "There's no better or easier way to say it." Perhaps that's why I've always eschewed the platitudes about death. I just say somebody died.

Like most children, I would tell you my dad was a great guy. But he really was. Strong, responsible, loving, funny, fascinating. Those are all words to describe this man.

Dad was born in a coal mining camp in West Virginia in 1926. His 81 years spanned virtually all the great inventions and innovations of the 20th Century. When he was born, horses were still common in the Appalachian Mountains and doctors were scarce. Dad's only brother died as an infant because of this lack of medical support, but he and his five sisters survived.

Life in the hills was harsh, but Dad always talked about it lovingly. Food was scarce; Dad told stories of hunting squirrels and possums so there would be meat for the family. How much meat does the average squirrel give to a family of eight, anyway?

My aunts frequently told us of the tricks my father pulled on them. He, like my grandfather, enjoyed a good practical joke and this trait would follow him throughout his life. He teased his sisters mercilessly as every brother is obliged to do, and they, in turn, got him in trouble for it. It seems sibling rivalry never changed much.

In 1944, when the U.S. decided to enter World War II, the government needed soldiers and it wasn't terribly picky about the conditions of those soldiers when they joined up. That's the only explanation I have for the fact that my father, malnourished and weighing just 119 pounds at 5'10", was a good recruit. But, in truth, Dad was a good recruit. Disciplined and intelligent, he was a great soldier, and like so many of his generation, the U.S. Army gave him the opportunity to escape poverty and degradation.

I've spoken before about the blessed life my father lead in the military. He was in three wars, yet was never in direct combat. Twice in World War II, he was scheduled to go to the front lines--first in Belgium, then in Okinawa. The day before he was to begin his dangerous duties in Belgium, the war ended. He and other soldiers were then put on a ship headed for Japan, but on the way, the Enola Gay dropped her atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima and the war in the Pacific ended, as well. Later, Dad served in Japan during the Korean War and was in Thailand during Vietnam for two tours. Life in the military was dangerous, but I believe God was watching out for my father.

After World War II, Dad went back to West Virginia and worked in the coal mines along side my grandfather (yes, I'm a coal miner's daughter). He also spent time following Bill Monroe up and down the mountains. Dad was a lifelong bluegrass fan and we grew up hearing all Bill Monroe's songs on Sunday afternoons.

Perhaps it was Bill Monroe that made my dad learn to play guitar and mandolin, but regardless of the reason, he played for us regularly throughout my childhood.

Dad joined the Air Force in 1950, and travelled the world with the military. For a West Virginia hillbilly, Dad saw places many of us only dream about. From France to Belgium, Germany, Japan and England, military life agreed with my father. Over the last few days, I've thought about all the stories my father told us about his adventures on three continents...and then I thought of all the things he didn't tell us. Everyone has stories they never tell their children. I wonder what his were?

My father met my mother in England in 1955. They dated and married two years later and started their life together, having three children and a wonderful time. In the 38 years my parents were married, they loved and made memories that lasted the rest of my father's life. I can honestly say he loved my mother dearly all his life, and knowing they are together again makes my grief more bearable.

Many people will tell you their fathers were great men, but I know my father was. He exemplified all the best qualities we associate with manhood: strength, courage, discipline, love, tenacity, and humor (not that humor is only a male thing). After leaving the military, my father took an assortment of jobs to give his family the best life could offer. He wound up working as a feed line operator for animal feed mills in the area and spent the majority of his post-military life in that endeavor. Bud Kennedy once told me to never be embarrassed about what my father did for a living because it afforded me the privilege of college and a better life. I appreciated those words then (I was a know-it-all college kid at the time), and those words are even more true to me today. My father's hard work and willingness to put his family first gave my siblings and I the opportunities of better, easier lives which included college (and doctoral work for me). He was proud of the fact two of his three children graduated from college, even though he never quite knew what to make of his youngest child, the one who still chases butterflies. He will be missed in ways I can't begin to describe.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Obama, Marriage, and the Bible

Listening to Hugh Hewitt's show tonight, I heard about Barak Obama's rather warped reading of the New Testament.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) told a crowd at Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio, Sunday that he believes the Sermon on the Mount justifies his support for legal recognition of same-sex unions. He also told the crowd that his position in favor of legalized abortion does not make him "less Christian."

"I don't think it [a same-sex union] should be called marriage, but I think that it is a legal right that they should have that is recognized by the state," said Obama. "If people find that controversial then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans."

The Sermon on the Mount discussed same sex marriage? Wow, I must have missed that passage. And calling Romans 1 "an obscure passage" is a bit like calling Paul "just one of the apostles."

For the record, Paul's Letter to the Romans isn't just a letter. It is the place where the clearest case for Christianity--and the inclusion of Gentiles--is laid out anywhere in the New Testament. For Gentiles, Romans is the book, their book. Paul explains in detail why God's love and grace are not just for Jews but for the rest of us as well. But before explaining the glory of God's grace, Paul talks about the sinful nature of man. That gets us to the "obscure passage in Romans" that Obama artlessly discussed.
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.--
Romans 1:18-32

It's hardly an obscure passage, and basically every person can fit into one or another of those sins. But what of the Sermon on the Mount? What on earth was Obama pointing to? "Judge not lest ye be judged"? Perhaps. But even that passage doesn't mean what post-modern non-Christians want it to mean. In fact, we are expected to make judgments, such as between good and evil (James 4:11-12). That's not a very liberal view of humanity at all, and it makes one wonder why Obama willingly stepped into this quagmire at all.

I'm surprised Obama even discussed the same sex marriage vs. civil union thing at all. Homosexual supporters can't be happy with his view point and coming out for civil unions doesn't win him any points from more conservative voters anyway. And showing such a lack of understanding of the Bible can't help him with religious voters. What was the point?

Michelle Malkin has a nice analysis of this event.

In the Next Republican Evil Plot, I Plan to Vote for Hillary Tomorrow!

Just to keep the Democrat campaign cycle interesting. Bahaha!

The Wall Street Journal OpEd today had an interesting piece on the difference between Ohio and Texas.

Let's start with the fact that Texas's growth puts the lie to the myth that free trade costs American jobs. Anti-Nafta rhetoric doesn't play well in El Paso, San Antonio and Houston, which have become gateway cities for commerce with Latin America and have flourished since the North American Free Trade Agreement passed Congress in 1993. Mr. Obama's claim of one million lost jobs due to trade deals is laughable in Texas, the state most affected by Nafta. Texas has gained 36,000 manufacturing jobs since 2004 and has ranked as the nation's top exporting state for six years in a row. Its $168 billion of exports in 2007 translate into tens of thousands of jobs.

Ohio, Indiana and Michigan are losing auto jobs, but many of these "runaway plants" are not fleeing to China, Mexico or India. They've moved to more business-friendly U.S. states, including Texas. GM recently announced plans for a new plant to build hybrid cars. Guess where? Near Dallas. In 2006 the Lone Star State exported $5.5 billion of cars and trucks to Mexico and $2.4 billion worth to Canada.

I've pointed out here and elsewhere how Texas' economy has been booming, even when the rest of the country hasn't done so well (it was one of the arguments I used against raising the minimum wage, since you couldn't find a $5.15 job here). The reasons aren't hard to find:
Ohio now ranks 47th out of 50 in economic competitiveness, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council. Ohio politicians deplore plant closings even as they impose the third highest corporate income tax in the country (10.5%) and the sixth highest personal income tax (8.87%). A common joke is that Ohio lays out the red carpet for companies -- when they leave the state. By contrast, Texas has no income tax, a huge competitive advantage.

Ohio's most crippling handicap may be that its politicians -- and thus its employers -- are still in the grip of such industrial unions as the United Auto Workers. Ohio is a "closed shop" state, which means workers can be forced to join a union whether they wish to or not. Many companies -- especially foreign-owned -- say they will not even consider such locations for new sites. States with "right to work" laws that make union organizing more difficult had twice the job growth of Ohio and other forced union states from 1995-2005, according to the National Institute for Labor Relations.

On the other hand, Texas is a right to work state and has been adding jobs by the tens of thousands. Nearly 1,000 new plants have been built in Texas since 2005, from the likes of Microsoft, Samsung and Fujitsu. Foreign-owned companies supplied the state with 345,000 jobs. No wonder Texans don't fear global competition the way some Presidential candidates do.

NAFTA isn't Ohio's problem. Ohio's problem is high taxation and business-unfriendly policies. Texas welcomes businesses and employees. That's why its economy hasn't suffered like those in the Rust Belt.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Framing the Debate

Everyone knows that more than a few arguments have been won because one side frames the debate in such a way as to preclude the other side's arguments. Most notably, this happens with abortion (pro-life vs. pro-choice) and gay rights (civil rights or special rights).

But over the last 20 years or so, immigration has also become one of those issues. Framed one way, illegal aliens are lawbreakers who artificially keep prices low and flood the country with criminals at worst and more people seeking taxpayer-subsidized benefits at best. Framed a different way, the undocumented immigrant is a hard worker willing to do work Americans won't do for an acceptable wage who might be fleeing poverty and/or governmental oppression.

It's funny the way a debate can be so altered by such framing that it is impossible to go back to a previous way of thought without being subjected to a variety of ad hominem attacks. For example, question the basis for declaring gay marriage a civil right and you will be called a homophobe and a bigot. Or, as illustrated in the passing of William F. Buckley, Jr.--where his early views on racism in the South were quoted nearly as often as his various extraordinary accomplishments for conservatism--academically discuss a hot button issue and you will answer for that forever.

I've noticed over the last few years that framing the debate in a liberal way has worked particularly well for them with regards to gay rights and to illegal immigration. How else to explain the silly song Illegal Alien being branded one of the worst songs ever?

I remember when "illegal alien" was the polite term. But that was before the illegal alien activists reframed the debate.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

AG Mukasey Tells Congress to Shove It

I'm happy the new Attorney General Mike Mukasey has the guts to tell Nancy Pelosi he won't be enforcing her contempt citations against Josh Bolten and Harriet Myers.

Saying no crime was committed, Mukasey rejected a request by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to refer the citations to a federal grand jury investigation of current White House chief of staff Josh Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers.

"The Department has determined that the non-compliance by Mr. Bolten and Ms. Miers with the Judiciary Committee subpoenas did not constitute a crime, and therefore the Department will not bring the congressional contempt citations before a grand jury or take any other action to prosecute Mr. Bolten or Ms. Miers," Mukasey said in a letter to Pelosi.

Via Patterico's Pontifications and Hot Air.

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air says Congress could file a lawsuit to compell the A.G. to prosecute, but that would put the judiciary in the middle of a sibling fight that's been brewing between the executive and legislative branches for a long time. That's a position the Supreme Court is not anxious to claim.
In this case, though, the House has been itching for a fight. The White House has offered to meet the committee members partway, but they have insisted on demanding that the Bush administration give up its claim on executive privilege instead — which no one ever believed they would do. Mukasey found that Bush’s use of executive privilege meets legal requirements.

Now the courts will have to make a decision that will make one branch or another very unhappy, and for a very long time — all over terminations that were obviously in the purview of the executive, and after a fishing expedition that produced nothing more than an incompetent AG. Thankfully, we have a much more talented replacement at the helm.

This is yet another ridiculous case of Democrats wanting headlines versus doing anything substantive. It's clearly part of the executive's privilege to hire or fire the attorneys in question. For any reason. That's what "serving at the pleasure of the president" means, after all.

Hillary Runs Great McCain Ad

The fracas caused by Hillary Clinton's "red phone" ad really does more to support John McCain than help Clinton.

As (I think) Ed Morrisey pointed out (sorry, don't have a link), if you knock off the last five seconds of the ad, it's a perfect endorsement of McCain. After all, his strong support for the military and his grasp of foreign policy are his best assets (I also support him because the judges he will nominate will be far better than anything Clinton or Obamarama will come up with).

Amusingly, Obama tries to answer the call about his inexperience by saying Clinton and McCain gave the "wrong answer" on the war. As opposed to his "principled" anti-war stance. Which would have encouraged more terrorism at home. Yep, that's principled, all right.