Category Archives: Politics

Rest in Peace, Andrew Breitbart

This morning greeted us with tragic news of Andrew Breitbart’s passing. He was 43. He went where so few of us didn’t even have the courage to think of going, and I admire his work.

I am never wont towards fandom towards anyone in the political sphere. It didn’t matter if it was Speaker Boehner or a think tank fellow I was sharing a cigarette with. They’re all people to me.

I remember when I met him at Rightonline on the rooftop of Brit’s Pub. He arrived quietly without calling attention to himself. He sat on the edge of the gathered mass of people. I was introduced by a friend to him, first by my name and then with my alias. He smiled and said “I’ve heard of you.”

I didn’t get a picture with him. In fact, I almost never get pictures with famous people. But I remember that cool night Minneapolis, where Andrew Breitbart was just hanging out amongst people I called my friends. He had sat back and was taking it all in, in between conversations with the steady stream of people who wanted to say “hi.” It was like he drew strength from the people around him.

And now he’s gone. And we draw strength from his passing in the days to come.

More thoughts from: Ben Domench, Jeff Goldstein, and Brandon Morse.

What in the world is happening to Rick Perry?

The Legend Of Rick Perry, prior to his announcing the candidacy, was polling over Mitt Romney. His supporters—we—were waiting with bated breath for him to join the primary, sweep away the sideshows, show he is Not Mitt Romney, and win the election next year.

Then, all the True Conservatives turned on him on matters of principle and competence, all the while trotting out Bachmann and Cain like they were better than Perry and Romney combined, and, to make a long story short, we’re going to be stuck with Romney.

How in the world did this happen? Perry’s debate gaffes are easily explicable. As governor of Texas, he’s had an amazing record in limiting the scope of the government. The problem is that he hasn’t been forced to justify his policies as if they were bad policies. I look at his gaffetastic debates and I see a man who finds it difficult to explain the obvious. We all know that the obvious is the hardest to explain.

This is why Perry has had such a tough time at the debates, and answering to questions about how he needle-raped little girls with Liquid Whore (a brilliant Ace of Spades -ism, perhaps the most brilliant one), or the TX educational initiative for the children of illegal aliens, or the license to hunt destructive wild boars from helicopters. To him, it is all obvious, which will make a Perry presidency, should it happen, very difficult. I still want him to win. I just wish more people did.

It’s time for Occupy Wall Street to get disbanded

For the most part, I have chosen to ignore Occupy Wall Street and similar events elsewhere on the blog while I took my damned glorious time to form an opinion. I had also focused more on We Are The 99 Percent, and have in the past tweeted responses to the postings especially for the most pathetic ones, and the ones who don’t quite follow the trend of that dismal blog.

I have spent some time following accounts of what’s going on in Zucotti Park and especially in Oakland, CA. Brady Cremeens has the definitive laundry list of why the entire Occupy movement, not just the one in NY, has lost its moral standing.

They’ve occupied “Wall Street” for over 45 days and in the time since, we have seen this “community” lose its sense of order. It started off as thefts; and the irony was so delicious when we read about an Occupier’s “$5000 mac laptop” getting stolen. For a bunch of folks who don’t believe in the property rights of those wealthier than them, they sure do complain when their property rights get violated. When I read about how the “food committee” started separating the “professional homeless” from the rest of the occupiers and recommended they go to a local charity, the irony and hypocrisy levels of the movement reached immeasurable heights.

But neither irony nor hypocrisy are enough to invalidate this movement, nor the petty thefts, nor the sympathy of the Communist Part of the USA nor that of American Nazi Party. None of those, from a purely legal standpoint, have any weight as to why Michael Bloomberg and the NYPD have the obligation to do their jobs and disband this “organization” and its occupation once and for all.

Reports of multiple instances of rapes—not just sexual harassment—and even child abuse have started to come out. Occupiers in DC accosted a Conservative conference, preventing people from leaving a building. Occupy Oakland has marauding bands of goons shutting businesses and ports down/ We’re hearing of Occupiers fearing for their own safety from each other. Instead of turning in these offenders to the police, we hear “official” statements from Occupiers about how they have “dealt with” the issue “internally.” Zucotti Park is now, officially, a haven for rapists.  Those participating in the occupation are guilty of complicity in the violation of their own women and children.

Morally, this was an eventuality. Despite all the allusions to appealing to peoples’ better natures, the entire Occupy Wall Street movement was a protest grounded in the envy of success. As a matter of criminality and public safety, this is to be expected of any movement that involves camping out in protest for an extended period of time, but those who say so miss one very important point: those who already are aware of that eventuality won’t even dream of doing what OWS is doing.

How ironic, that increased coverage of this event—meant to attract coverage—will be its downfall. Once OWS becomes a political liability for the Left, it will be time for Bloomberg, other mayors in other cities and their respective police departments, to crack down. In the meantime, the rapists will always find a tent to hide in.

The Bother from the Other: Oct 26, 2011

While we’re on the topic of class warfare…

My friend, David Jones makes an excellent point about voters’ myopia when approving of programs with unintended and unforeseen consequences. Make sure you read the comments, wherein a rant and rail against AARP’s terrible and just the way marketers sell to the elderly. A teaser: “Not that anyone should be telling them what to do, but what happened to ads where gramps is talking to his grandson about such things like The War, or just growing up in harder times? What if the sunset of one’s life were not—as Madison Avenue is selling—about catching up on the better aspects of a second childhood, but to impart as one best could, the lessons of a life long lived?”

Via Ken Brown, a Democrat in Ohio was voted out of office and he was suffering so terribly in the polls that the DSCC pulled financial support. What does he do? He sues the Susan B. Anthony List for contributing to his loss of livelihood. Now, this case should’ve been laughed out of court, but the circuit judge let it through. I wonder who Obama will sue when he finally gets voted out.

Kevin Holtsberry on student debt as a symptom of economic illiteracy: in which he asks, and answers: “But I want to ask a higher level question: is universal college education really the universal good we make it out to be and is subsidization by the federal government really good policy? I would answer a no to both of those.”

Cf., with this Rutgers “economic historian” who sets out to prove his conclusion—consumer debt and government spending are they keys to economic growth—by sampling only the past hundred years of economic activity. To his credit, some Liberals think that history started when Obama won office; he chose a hundred years ago. Never mind that the Medicis, who invented banking and investment as we know it, lived roughly six hundred years ago.

Aaron Gardner, a friend and fellow before-day-one Perry supporter, with an appeal to reason:

I understand that people were disappointed with Gov. Perry’s debut in the debates. I can also understand people having a difference of opinion on issues like In-State tuition rates and, to a degree, mandatory vaccinations for cancer causing STDs.

What I can’t understand is the desire of some to allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good, maybe even the great. I doubt anyone could honestly make a case for any other candidate having a more conservative record of governance, a greater depth of experience, or a better record of winning elections, than Gov. Perry.

If only this Republican primary has been a matter of reason (not necessarily reasonability but rationality). Also consider Melissa Clouthier’s warning to anyone who’s having way too much fun with the Republican debates: they don’t exist to serve Republicans.

As I posted on Google plus: Everyone likes to talk about how you never know how good you’ve got things until you get a taste of the bad, but man oh man oh man. You never know how bad things are for you until you get a taste of how much better things could be.

The Bother from the Other: Oct 25, 2011

I had a very productive weekend, one which included: yard work, basement cleanup, gym, personal time with family and friends, design work and consulting work. So: no Bother yesterday and today’s rather slimmer.

Politics

Blake Gober on the GOP field. His money is on Romney. Mine is on Perry. Either are acceptable to me. However, I’d like to see the rest stick around until after Iowa and New Hampshire and Florida before anyone drops out.

On the social contract:

Our friend, moronette Dagny, said last week, “The social contract exists so that everyone doesn’t have to squat in the dust holding a spear to protect his woman and his meat all day every day. It does not exist so that the government can take your spear, your meat, and your woman because it knows better what to do with them.”

Design

I have been fascinated by this series of posts on the history of Arial from Paul Shaw. He’s been trying (hard) to trace its history and the intent with which it was created.

Reading that has led me to Nick Shinn’s indictment of Helvetica, and the entire modernist, humanist, completely outdated family of sans serif typefaces. (PDF)

Prayers and Petitions
Elizabeth Scalia’s son’s fiancee is having a CAT scan. Details are scant, but may they find what ails her, and may she recover from it fully.

Deepest of condolences to Sarah Smith, for the passing of her dear friend John Corckran, who passed away at the tender age of 35.

The Bother from the Other: Oct 21, 2011

Muammar el-Qaddafi is dead. Judging by the two videos shown yesterday, he was found alive by Libyan rebels and in a later video, shown dead with a bullet hole in his temple. I have little patience for those calling this an illegal execution, and judging the rebels as lawless barbarians who have to respect for due process. I disagree.

There comes a point in a nation’s history when, under the heavy weight of an oppressor such as Gaddhafi—especially one as Gaddhafi, who ruled for forty-two years—the “rule of law” is the rule of the victorious rebels. This is not an excuse for further hunting and killing of  Gaddhafi loyalists; they will have to be brought to justice in an orderly manner once the new Libyan government (which has been formed, might I remind everyone) officially takes power.

Or not, and the elements of anarchy will turn on them an impose something worse the Gaddhafi. We don’t just know right now. But we will, soon enough.

While the Monday Morning Quarterbacking from everyone and their mother was annoying, the level of crazy goes to new heights with this praise of Gaddhafi as some national hero who freed his country from the yoke of some central bank or the other. Or something.

~~oOo~~

Niall Ferguson on the geniuses we’ll never know. It’s a lot about Steve Jobs, but it’s a lot more about how America is a great incubator for talent. This is the land of opportunity after all, which we should contrast to those who protest the fact that there are unequal outcomes in this nation. Forget the income-equality gap (a concept which makes me sick); let’s start with the opportunity-outcome intellectual gap and make it wider, enough to let people know that the concepts are distinct. (Link credit: Ken Gardner on Twitter.)

Contrast Ferguson’s article about the plentiful opportunities of the USA with this young man. He’s eighteen years old, can’t afford the third year of his forty-thousand dollars per year bachelor of arts in sociology. He is one of the 99%. And he does it in style, what with his Abercrombie And Fitch v-neck shirt. But that’s, as we tend to say when we’re running out of words, the thing with these people. The sheer lack of self-awareness, the total obliviousness to irony and hypocrisy, are just annoying. The young man is rather fetching. Most of the submissions on that tumblr account have resorted to prostitution. He should be glad he’s not there yet.

Maybe he should read Sarah Bowman’s advice: occupy a job. Or he should listen to @kimberlyhaney (proud mother that she is) describe her son on Twitter thusly: “My 18 y/o works 30 hours a week, goes to school full time & buys his own clothes & gas. Buys his own books, owns his car. He wears Polo, because he shops at the outlet malls & asks for nice clothes for birthdays & Christmas. He also buys silver.” Scandalous bastard that I am, did respond by telling her to vet whoever the lucky lady he decides to bring home. He is a prime target for gold-digging women, and even the young ones have sharp hooks that sink deep.

All this talk of the American Dream reminds me of a different time in my life. I had a dream once. I could’ve been, if everything happened according to plan, a Ph.D. in a biology field. I could’ve written tons of academic papers, or done corporate research for a biotech firm, or I could’ve chosen a more Spartan lifestyle in marine biology. But I was dealt a different hand due to some unfortunate circumstances back in 2001. I could’ve despaired and wallowed in self pity, but thankfully my mother taught me well and taught me right. I learned to design websites instead. I wouldn’t be who I am today if not for the events that brought me here and by God I swear, I am very happy to have different dreams and different goals now.

Finally, let’s remember the dreams that were snuffed before they could even begin. Melissa Clouthier on “choice:” “The majority of women say that parents, boyfriends, and worst of all, husbands forced the woman to abort the baby. The trauma is devastating and long lasting.” I would never know the horror of having to make this choice, and heaven help me on the day I pressure a woman into aborting a baby.

Prayers and Petitions

Deepest of condolences to Fingers Malloy on the passing of his mother. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him at CPAC and Right Online this year and he is an upstanding gentleman.

May the victims of Gaddhafi’s long reign finally rest in peace.

The Bother from the Other: Oct 20, 2011

My friend Tommy posted on Facebook with a reminder about barking up the wrong tree:

While I oppose Occupy Wall Street 100%, I think “I am the 53%” is a political loser and messaging at its worst. We need to look at who the 47% are. Some of those people simply don’t make enough enough money to have federal tax liability. While I think everyone should pay something in the way of federal taxes, this sends a bad message as it appears to vilify those who don’t make enough, while leaving out they still may pay state, local, sales, Social Security, and property taxes. Also, some of these people still have taxes taken out their check, they just get it back – after the govt uses it as an interest free loan. I think if we wish to call out President Obama for his pathetic use of class warfare, we should be careful we don’t head down that same road.

Occupy events across the nation are resembling the Arab Spring in embarassing ways: sexual harrassment and assault. The other day we were treated to the reports of Nan Terrie and her $5500 laptop, whose value she overestimated, as she has her self worth. I’ve tried my damned hardest to not comment on the Occupy Movement until I could get a handle on the very nature of the effort, but I give up. Not on commentary, but on figuring them out. They can’t be.

Megan McArdle on Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan: says more about her assessment of the candidate than the plan itself, which, as most policy wonks have agreed on is dead in the water, politically and economically.

Ace of Spades on Herman Cain’s foreign policy know-nothingness. And here’s the sad thing about all this Herman Cain bashing (on this first edition of my new daily edition, no less!): I think he’s a great guy, someone who means well and has ideas that would fix the ills of this country. He’s no Ike Eisenhower, and the critique that he’s never held elected office is an important one. The Presidency is not the same as being a CEO: Congress says “no” more often than a Board of Directors does. I would support a candidate who understands the inherent roadblocks built into our system of government as set in place by the Founding Fathers.

Miscellany:

William Newton on the role of art in how we Catholics worship: This should shine a light for anyone who considers us idolaters; though if you’re going to hold that opinion about Catholics, then a reasoned explanation would hardly move you anwyay.

Bad Catholic (a young man of a mere 18 years) on the cure for pornography: It involves the use of actually more naked women, but by expressing beauty and truth. He quotes John Paul II: “the problem with pornography is not that it shows too much of the person, but that it shows far too little.”

Only 3% of Ford buyers choose “trend [colors],” like ochre or pink. They’re not trends; they’re freaks. (Side note: Joe Clark is one of my favorite authors; he’s Canadian and is wont to fix the spelling of material he quotes to fit his country’s orthography. Turnabout is fair play.)

Passive-aggressive “Help Wanted” note. We should look on Tumblr to see if the former employee has posted her “We are the 99% note.”

Prayers and petitions:

Elisha Krauss, former Sean Hannity radio show producer, has a friend named David who was in a parachuting accident. He’s conscious and is able to answer questions, but is in need of spinal surgery. May the Lord guide his surgeons’ hands and may he recover as much as God wills it.

Safe travels to Ryan Gilbert, who is on a road trip from Enid, OK to San Diego, CA. He’s in his hometown of Ogden, UT right now and will get back on the road after the weekend. I have had the pleasure of meeting him in my recent trip to OKC. May his tires stay inflated the rest of the way.

Deepest of condolences to John Brodigan on the passing of his father.

The Undefeated: a review

I saw a rough cut of The Undefeated, the much-discussed “Palin documentary,” at RightOnline last month. I skipped the first part—I was socializing!—with the montage of insults. When I walked into the screening they were already talking about her early days in the Alaska state government.

If you’ve read Going Rogue, you would already know most of the facts presented in the show. If you get your news from the “Lamestream Media,” you would hear the facts presented with what you would think is “spin.” If you get your news from The Daily Show, you probably won’t be interested in seeing this movie anyway, and you would probably have a fixed, firm belief about Mrs. Palin and this movie probably won’t do it for you (unless you want to do a “Daily Show Viewer goes to the zoo” feature, then I hate to burst your bubble but that’s been done by The Atlantic).

What I like about the film: it’s a fair treatment of Mrs. Palin’s record in the Alaska state government, in that it cuts through the negative spin added by the media’s coverage of her time back then. She’s been spun as a vindictive, spitful betch—it’s “bitch,” but you just have to inflect and pronounce it a certain way to empasize the frivolty of those saying so—who uses bipartisan methods to “get back” at her “enemies.” Or maybe she was just doing her job and doing what she believed she was elected for. You know? Because that’s what government officials do. (Heck, consider our president now, who continues to believe he has a mandate despite the results of the 2010 elections, which in his mind doesn’t even seem to be a signal for him to change course.) It skips over a lot of details that we’d consider “recent memory,” such as the 2008 election.

The participation of Andrew Breitbart, Tammy Bruce, Mark Levin and Sonnie Johnson added a very passionate, spirited presentation in addition to the voice over narration.

What I dislike about the film: man, is the pacing languid. A viewer’s time on film is currency, and this one spends it like Obama does our money. I have heard that the theatrical release has addressed this isssue, so I won’t beat it up for that.

The tone of correcting the record in the first two thirds of the film gives way to a  bit of “woe is me” in the final acts. This was unncessary. This was the documentarian’s chance to end on a high note; and the title may be The Undefeated but the wrapup made me feel just a little beaten down.

The participation of Andrew Breitbart, Tammy Bruce, Mark Levin and Sonnie Johnson had one drawback. With the exception of Sonnie Johnson, whose testimonial style was relaxed and steadfast, the other three seemed a little too wound up for camera. I understand that this is serious business and that yes, we should be wound up with the way the media has treated Palin, but, the problem with having people do this on screen for you is that you no longer feel the need to.

In the film, A Time To Kill, Matthew McConaughey’s character definitely won his defense case by placing the jurors in the shoes of Samuel L. Jackson’s character. It roused the attention of everyone in the courtroom in what was considered a hopeless case. Without the lawyer preaching to the jury how they should feel and decide, he gave them every reason to decide in his client’s favor, and they did.

It’s an odd, odd cinematic paradox: if the characters you are watching are already feeling an emotion on your behalf, you no longer feel emotions for them or whoever it is you’re supposed to feel for.

Takeaways: this isn’t “propaganda” so much as it is “my side of the story.” It will correct the record for viewers who think they know about Palin, but for those who believe they already know everything there is to know, well. There’s no shaking that.

Finally, while I support the filmmaker’s commercial efforts, if they want this message out to as many people as possible, they need to be far more lax with copyright enforcement. I don’t know if any segments have been leaked yet, much less the whole movie, but Conservative treatment of the media has to be through disintermediation and circumvention. Perhaps after a while, maybe the documentarian himself should release this in 10-minute segments, for free, on YouTube. Maybe 30-minute chunks on Vimeo. Maybe seed this film across multiple torrent trackers. I don’t know. I know it’s sold out in Texas, but what about everywhere else, where there aren’t that many supporters but perhaps enough open minds to make a difference?

And lastly, The Undefeated should serve as a warning to all Conservatives. We can not let the media dictate the narrative. Many players bungled her rollout, even she herself. But we know better now. I am not a fan of cultish defenses of a candidate, but neither do I believe that we should merely let the media present “facts” about someone, unchallenged.

Collected thoughts

Quick bites on today’s highlights:

Today was Atlantis’s last launch. I never got over the Columbia space shuttle disaster so I stopped watching. I tried a few times. I would hold my breath, waiting for it to just explode and of course they wouldn’t. So I stopped, because I still couldn’t get the idea out of my minds. Columbia was a reminder of just how helpless we are over many things beyond our control. I’m glad Atlantis left safe. I wish a safe return for them. And what a sad, sad day it’s been for America.

Betty Ford, widow of former president Gerald Ford, has died. She’s contributed much to help a lot of people with addiction problems, and her name will always be held in high regard. I have a tendency for the grim and morose, and so I wonder: what could Nancy Reagan, who recently had her birthday, or Maggie Thatcher, could be thinking? Have they made peace with their mortality? It is my fear that I will grow old and watch all my contemporaries die before I do, or that I wouldn’t even be ready to pass away when I do.

Paul Ryan paid $350 for a bottle of wine. With his own money, and apparently so that he could avoid the ethical issue of having drank a glass of the wine with dinner. He paid his share of the check and tipped the waiter $80, too. The Liberal site, Talking Points Memo, is trying to make this an issue and is failing miserably. Joshua Green of The Atlantic, is also trying to rally his Jacobin cohort. This is such a pathetic symptom of the Left’s lack of ideas.

First, they attack him on grounds of hypocrisy. How dare he enjoy luxury when he demands austerity of the government? Is this even a point worth arguing against? I feel dumb trying to even parse this line of emoting. I suppose they want us to “practice what we preach,” which means to these anti-intellectual demagogues they would never rest until anyone who pushes austerity for the government would live in personal poverty.

The absurdity is that because our President believes in a big-spending government, he spends plenty of our taxpayer money with these regal events, these galas and private concerts, a vacation in Spain for his wife, and numerous counts of golf. But he is living true to himself, you see. He is acting according to principle, which makes this good. What a twisted, messed up concept of “good” these people have.

Our jobs numbers are terrible. Which is not a surprise to anyone familiar with this President’s mistaken choice of economic ideology. I can’t say he’s stupid and naive; he certainly is smart enough to have gone through college and write something. I can’t say he’s malevolently undermining the country; I am not one of those people. I think he’s read from a different set of books, one that unfortunately teaches the wrongest of wrong lessons. But, oh well.

Michele Bachmann’s irresponsible duplicity

Let’s preface this with a few qualifiers: should Michele Bachmann win the nomination for president, I will actively campaign for her, volunteer for her and in fact spend less time shouting at Obama supporters online and turn my support into action. I will not countenance Obama’s reelection. However, this is primary season, and there’s something Michele Bachmann needs to answer for before I could even think of being as supportive of her as I have before.

It’s not about her ideology: if anything, her strong commitment to fiscal responsibility is one of the things that tuned me in to her. However, she does this…thing. And it’s this thing that has annoyed the hell out of me since this morning and I just can’t seem to let it go. Here’s how it happens:

  1. Boehner has a bill (spending, social, whatever) and consults with her as the leader of the Tea Party Caucus for ideas that would have her lend their support.
  2. Her demands are of the nature that would make the bill unpalatable to the Left—no problem there—but would make the bill impossible to get past Harry Reid.
  3. Boehner then goes elsewhere for support, even courting whatever few moderate Democrats are left. Well, now that there’s also a large Republican majority in the House, he doesn’t even need to consult those. He consults the more moderate wing of his own party.
  4. The House passes the bill. Michele Bachmann votes against it “for not going far enough.”
  5. The bill dies in the Senate, because Harry Reid is Majority Leader and won’t let whatever bill hit the floor.
  6. (Also note that whatever originates in the House will face Obama’s veto pen, anyway.)

Hooray divided government! Seriously. If we captured the Senate—thanks Christine O’Donnell and all her enablers, and thanks Sharron Angle for giving us yet another six years of Harry Reid—we would have a better chance at having a showdown with Obama over whatever legislation we would throw on his lap. We would pass Obamacare repeal every week and tire him out and turn it into a show. No. Unfortunately, our dreams of a truly Divided Government are going nowhere, because we aren’t passing the bills that we can manoeuvre Democrat senators in Conservative states to vote for (despite their ideology, as a matter of personal preservation). The House has passed quite a bit that hasn’t even made it to the floor of the Senate.

This story thus far is no surprise to anyone. Here’s where  I got floored: Michele Bachmann later goes and demagogues the issue against Republican Congressional leaders on talk radio and cable news. She doesn’t spend as much time demonizing Harry Reid’s tactics; she doesn’t spend as much time saying that The People have spoken in 2010 and that the Senate needs to get a clue even though we don’t have a majority; she doesn’t spend as much time as she should be doing telling Dear President that he needs to get a clue from the 2010 election and have a showdown. None of that!

She sits back, and whines. Then, she becomes the center of attention for movement Conservative “leaders” who then threaten to primary rather effective Establishment Republican Leaders with their cartoonish candidates who would lose in the general. Because, let’s scorch the Earth and go down in flames, better to die pure than live flawed.

I swear: I am not calling for moderation, but her demagoguery towards the Republican leadership is irresponsible. They are not the enemy here. If she spent as much time attacking the right targets, focusing on Blue Dog—hate the term—Senators and not so much her should-be allies, you wouldn’t be reading this. But this is what she does, and this may be a politically beneficial move for her in the House, but she is running for the President Of The United States, not the President of The Tea Party, not the President of The Republican Party. We have a President in office right now who already governs with spite and vindictiveness. If she can let this go, she would make a good President. If not, all I can say for her is at least she’s not Obama.

New York passes same-sex marriage

Congratulations and credit where they are due: the state legislature has passed same-sex marriage without dictates of the court. All hail procedure and the legislative process. Hooray.

I can’t stand the gloating from the more activiste homosexualists. I’ve had to turn away from all the smug. There is, however, concern for the religious freedoms of those Churches—Islam, Orthodox Judaism, many sects of Christianity—who consider homosexuality a sin. Let’s not discuss whether it’s a sin or not, or if homosexuality is separate from gay sex and that merely the latter is the sinful act. Not tonight.

Let’s talk about this sinking feeling of dread. I dread that the Churches would be on the receiving end of State action in response to their continuing disapproval of homosexuality, First Amendment be damned. I dread that, if the First Amendment is upheld, that picketing and public shaming would do what the State is legally bound against doing.

Oh, the smug. They weren’t kidding about it in South Park. I hate, hate, hate seeing otherwise reasonable people call The Faithful bigots for finding homosexuality sinful. It’s Faith, and yes, while you might believe that all morality is the purview of reason, it really isn’t. Faith can seem so irrational at times, but it is what it is, and the best way to combat misconceptions is to have a respectful dialogue with those willing to listen.

Consider: some of these so-called bigots might not be so keen to speak sharply on the matter if they personally know a gay. Maybe this friendship becomes a reminder that we are all sinners. But is not within the limits of human dignity for a gay to humiliate a Faithful because of his moral stance. Tonight, I tweeted this series:

Friends: always remember that the moral objections of the faithful on this matter is NOT bigotry; you might disagree but their judgment has no bearing or sway on your rights, unless you are a member of their Church, which in that case u settle this inside, within that House. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT make the mistake of trying to shame the faithful out of their beliefs. It will backfire spectacularly. The main argument for SSM is the common dignity of gays & straights alike. Treat the faithful w/dignity. You say you believe in love. Show it.

To conclude: if you want to keep the Holy Books out of the Constitution, keep the Constitution from being used to rewrite the Holy Books.

I wish my kind words and concern could reassure my Faithful friends that what they worry about will not come to pass; that I will be alongside them should a legal assault on their religious freedom would happen. I wish I can accept the assurances of my Liberal friends without worry. I know they mean well, but among their allies is a cohort that would take things too far, just as in any movement.

I’m happy that same-sex marriage has passed in New York in the way that it did. I hope this settles the issue for homosexualist activists.

The deficit: obvious solutions, impossible politics

It’s like a boogeyman, a looming shadow above us, and the harsh realities of the deficit don’t always translate to daily life. However, the deficit affects interest rates which affect business which affects hiring. We know this, so I’m not going to argue against this. It took a while for the concept to sink in, but it did, for me. We know the deficit is bad.

Here’s the rock and the hard place: we aren’t making enough money to support not just discretionary spending—which includes military spending—and entitlements, not to mention the interest on the debt which we have to repay, or else our credit rating goes out the window and our money becomes worthless. If you don’t see a vicious cycle here, you probably believe in unicorns and faeries too.

What’s worse is the kind of discussion in Washington and how to go about this problem. Short story: Democrats won’t talk about cutting entitlements, which econ pundits call “mandatory spending.” Republicans—except for Paul Ryan—equate “broadening the tax base” with “raising taxes,” dragging the quality of the discourse to moronic levels.

There are two conflicting ideas here, which you have to keep in mind and try to reconcile. Concept 1: We are spending too much. So much so that if discretionary spending were cut to zero, we will still be crushed by our entitlement obligations. Concept 2: Hauser’s Law states that as a matter of outcome, total tax receipts have come out to a historical average of 19% of GDP. Which means, that no matter how you tweak the marginal tax rate, no matter what credits you add or remove, no matter what kind of tax policy you have, this is the percent of GDP collected. (Basically, if you tweak the marginal tax rate, “something” in “the economy” reacts and you get 19% of GDP, even as you try to rake in more hard dollars.)

The only way to increase gross receipts is to increase GDP. But how can you increase GDP when the deficit crisis basically creates a climate of fear for business, a climate that makes it difficult to hire people? The budget cutters believe that if you cut from the budget the right items, the government removes its competitive presence against the private sector in that market and you offset the loss in production generated by the government with production generated by the private sector. This is not just an “in theory” way of thinking. It’s been demonstrated.

However, cutting discretionary spending is not enough; we need to have a mature discussion on what to do with entitlement spending. No politician except for Paul Ryan is willing to have this discussion., and he’s taken flack from the Left with lies about how he wants to cut benefits for current receipients today.

Lastly, another item that Only Paul Ryan Has The Courage To Discuss, is this so-called “broadening the tax base,” or, as the President likes to call it, “spending in the tax code.” Over fifty percent of people do not, on net, pay taxes. They pay sales taxes, but not income taxes (on net). I say “on net,” because they pay taxes during withholding, but due to a slew of credits, they get everything back.

This untapped tax base is so large and so fragile and so populous that neither Republicans nor Democrats seriously discuss having them pay their “fair share.” I hate that term, but many of these people are voters, and they’ve elected leaders in Congress and the President and have given them the consent to govern and spend as they believe is right for the country. They have a fair share in this spending, because they are a party to this politics whether they want to admit it or not.

So: we know the solution. We have no political will or acumen to make it happen. And this is the biggest problem.

On the matter of Jose Antonio Vargas, illegal immigrant

Read his autobiographical account on the NYT. Read everything, before you continue with my commentary. There are nuances that are distinct and important to remember. Once you’re done, read on through for my comments.

On a personal level, I am furious at Mr. Vargas’ mother. I am angry, because the worst stereotype a Filipino has to live with in the United States is that we find ways around The Rules, and in fact ignore The Rules such that we have a reputation for being cheats. It’s not just on the matter of illegal immigration either; there’s the matter of building permits, quarterly tax filing, sales tax collection. Name it: the stereotype of the Filipino businessman is that he will maximize what he can before he has to leave the country and live a comfortable life in the Philippines with all the dollars he’s earned.

His story of alienation and fear, his life of constantly looking over his shoulder, is fairly typical. What we need to remember is that throughout many points of his life, he’s had the opportunity to “get legal.” (Based on best practices and what’s in the current Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), he after ten years of residence he could’ve gotten gone through the section 245(i) process, paid his back taxes, paid a fine, and gotten legal.)

Unlike many other Filipino illegals—we call them “TNT”, tago nang tago (those who keep on hiding)—Mr. Vargas considers himself American, and would love to stay here, unlike those who have no path to legality. Those without an out work as hard as they can, save as much as they can, and then leave when getting caught becomes a distinct possibility, never to return. Thankfully, there is a legal process that allows him to do this. It carries a risk; a denial in the 245(i) process will funnel him to removal proceedings and his battle will be of a different nature.

I am torn on this, because Vargas entered illegally by way of his mother and grandparents’ machinations. However, when he became aware of this, he has become complicit in the crime. In this, he is just as deserving of legal status as any other border-jumper.

Mr. Vargas’ confession on the pages of the NYT muddle the debate because he is just one of many kinds of “illegal alien.” The proper term, legally, is an “out of status” person, and immigration law is a thorny path. Foreign students can lose status by going below their required credits per semester; someone on a tourist visa de facto loses status once he accepts gainful employment. This is not a matter of being caught, but one of Following The Rules, and yet some aliens can lose status just by turning 21 (Akhtar vs. Burzynski).

Yes, Virginia, there are people who fall out of status out of no fault of their own, and amnesty lobbyists need to focus on them instead of making every criminal, Transgressor Of The Rules, out of status person a cause célèbre with a sob story to tell.

We all have sob stories. Want to know what’s mine? My sister moved to the US after marrying a naturalized Filipino American citizen. After three years, my mom went here. After six years of me living in the Philippines, finishing high school (commuting 2 hours each way by bus and jeepney) and finishing college (living in a townhouse with a domestic and roommates), I went here. I was away from my family for a very long time. I had lonely Christmases and I didn’t have my mom to talk to when I needed her. It’s not as tough a sob story as Mr. Vargas’ but it’s mine. And my sob story doesn’t matter.

I wish, I wish the best for Mr. Vargas. I wish he succeeds in his 245(i) attempt. I wish he didn’t make a cause celebre out of himself, especially since his case is still pending. The timing of this article is offensive. He should’ve waited until he had won, or lost, his case. He will face the consequences of this choice, just as he now faces the consequences of his previous choices.

Welcome to the legal world, Mr. Vargas. It’s so very nice to see you play by the same rules we’ve been playing.

A “glitterbomb” isn’t funny, ironic, or harmless. It’s a threat.

This weekend at Right Online, Michele Bachmann was “glittered” by gay rights activists. Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty got a similar treatment before, too. As a result, Bachmann canceled any further media appearances at the event (more than a few wanted to interview). Some considered this to be an overreaction. I do not. On Saturday night I went to the GOProud happy hour at the hotel bar in the event, and some of those invited were a few attendees of Netroots Nation. There I explained to one why a glitterbomb isn’t a good thing.

At its heart, a glitterbomb is a proxy for whatever object that, when flung at a person, would lead to charges of assault, or worse. It’s a projectile, one that replaces spit—assault with a bodily fluid, anyone?—or something else. It’s a replacement for pies, which also leads to charges of assault. But no matter how E.B. Lang may describe it, it isn’t as harmless or light hearted as she claims. A pie attack foreshadowed Pim Fortuyn’s assassination.

What these assailants know and won’t admit in public is that flinging objects at someone, even as innocuous as glitter, is degrading to the flingee. It’s an act of humiliation, one that’s been used to great effect using other materials (pie, water, spittle, blood, name it). When you degrade someone like that in public, it becomes a sign that the victim is fair game for even more dangerous material.

What these assailants know and won’t admit in public is the power of the third participant* in causing a cascade of activity. When glitterbombing someone gets “cool” and “hip” enough, someone, somewhere, is going to get carried away. If you think the sentiments behind glitterbombing Bachmann and others are funny and lighthearted, remember that when they think no one is looking, these are the same people who call Bachmann, Palin, others, the wost possible epithets. (I’m trying to find a link tweeted out yesterday about how someone wanted to shoot Michele Bachmann in the face for being so stupid. On their tumblr blog.) Glitterbombing is a refusal to engage your opponent in an exchange of ideas, even if the only goal is to publicly prove that their ideas are wrong, hateful and bigoted. It’s something you do because you know and accept that this person you’re glittering is someone you hate, but feel is undeserving of the time to discuss anything with them.

Maybe I’m overreacting, but I think people you disagree with deserve more than having stuff flung at them. At the GOProud happy hour, I spoke to Pam Spaulding, Ian Finkenbinder, and a few other folks from the gay left. They were total sweethearts and we had an exchange of ideas that you’d never see happen on a blog, or on Twitter. Naturally there are issues we agree and disagree on. We also share common ground. It was just another human and humane interaction. This is how it’s done; not dehumanizing them by throwing stuff at them.

(* – The “power of the third participant” can best be seen in this video from the Sasquatch festival. One person out of norm is weird, the second is dismissed as his friend, and a third participant causes the cascade.)

Rightonline general session recaps: Friday and Saturday

Friday

(It may be odd to have an opening session in the middle of the day, with breakout sessions in the morning, but when one remembers that there are people flying in from all over on Friday who couldn’t take off on Thursday because hello, we Conservatives work, then, yes.)

I missed the first few comments; I saw Erik Telford from Americans for Prosperity introduce the Mayor of Minneapolis, who made notorious waves yesterday in greeting Netroots Nation because we at Rightonline were “to be tolerated.” Mr. Mayor was quick and emphasized commercial support for Minneapolis business and thanked us for our money despite our principles.

Ann McIlhenny took the stage and introduced herself as a “recovering European.” Hers was a passionate speech, one where she lists all the many issues Republicans and Conservatives compromise on when they really shouldn’t: energy, drilling for oil offshore and on. And while Conservatives may be obsessed with what happens in the bedroom, Liberals obsess over every other room in your house, and then some.

John Hinderaker talked about the deficit, and his early roots as a low-traffic blog, and how it is now one of the more significant blogs out there. One recurring theme in this conference is the reassurance that the Internet is a huge place, and that there’s much room for everyone to make a name for themselves and make a difference.

Marsha Blackburn closed Friday’s general session with a warning on the dangers of growing government. One of her main causes is what she calls “net neutrality,” and one of my main issues is that the phrase has changed meaning depending on who you’re discussing it with. It really does depend on the regulations that the FCC is pushing and the debate is a challenging one to have.

Saturday

The speakers today all had words for encouragement to the attendees. Right Online is, at its heart, a conference for Conservative activists, and while the breakout sessions are great to learn something, the big name speakers at the general sessions are great for inspiration. Michelle Malkin placed great emphasis on the president’s rule by executive fiat, citing crushing regulations that increase costs for business. (Sidebar: Bush2 may have exercised the executive’s powers to a great extent, but our president today has turned it into an art)

A surprise video address from Glenn Beck ended abruptly due to a bad video file.

Erick Erickson came with unscripted comments. He reminded us that while the founding principles and ideas of our country are important, it is more important to engage people on practical terms.

Other speakers included Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit, Jason Lewis, Guy Benson of Townhall, and SE Cupp, and they all struck the theme of being able to make a difference no matter how insignificant one is at the time one starts.

Rightonline session recap: intro to activism, by Patricia Simpson

Patricia Simpson of the Leadership Institute presented an introduction to activism. She asked the audience the definition of “activism,” and it was centered around the organizational aspect: making things happen.

The common thread of her suggestions—engaging Liberals, attending townhalls even if your representative is of the opposition party—centers on the fact that activism is not a risk-free activity. Political activity, even in this country requires taking risks—perhaps not as large as those in countries where the citizenry is actively oppressed—especially in personal relationships, and even in employment.

Another good point she made was there are different personality types in volunteering for a campaign: there are quiet types, passive types, people types, and even nutters, and that everyone can be put to good use in a way that benefits the campaign and still keep morale up for the volunteer. It’s basically management 101, putting people with the right capabilities in the right roles.

A quick primer on Bin Laden detractors

It’s all Bin Laden, all the time here at One Fine Jay. He’s the topic of the week, I guess.

Let’s take a look at the groups of people who aren’t too happy that Bin Laden is dead. We can categorize them by the following points they would make:

  • The raid on Bin Laden is a “murder.” (Note that I have used a similar term—assassination—to refer to the events in Abbotabbad, and I believe it’s a poor choice of words.
  • The raid on Bin Laden is a perpetuation of the endless war on terror.
  • Bin Laden was unarmed, so this was a murder.
  • Bin Laden deserved a fair trial.
  • Pakistan is sovereign territory and we shouldn’t have gone in there to kill him
  • Dick Cheney is a war criminal for using EIT
  • DevGru has committed war crimes and need to be extradited for trial in the ICC.

There are, of course, factual counterarguments against any of these assertions. Except, the people who says these are already fixed in their ways and it’s just a huge drain on time and mental resources to try to argue them out of these positions. They’re wrong, but who would want to be faced with proof that their strict deontologies have to be tempered with a little bit of consequentialism?

Bin Laden, waterboarding, and morals

I won’t be debating the efficacy of waterboarding and its role in finding Bin Laden. Reports have come out that it has, and the hypothesis is impossible to test.

Let us look, instead, at how the Bin Laden raid makes us reveal to the world our own personal biases and moral foundations. This is important, you see, because some people wouldn’t be worth discussing with depending on how they define certain things.

First: if you think that “waterboarding” and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” constitute “torture,” it’ll be very hard to break past this definition. It’s like the public standards of decency test when it comes to pornography. The definition as stated by UN Convention Against Torture is subject to interpretation: it becomes a question of severity.

So, you would have some people who consider waterboarding to be an acceptable means of discomfort, because it doesn’t cause lasting physical damage, cf. the Spanish Inquisition. We’re not talking about iron maidens here, right Then there are some people who find any kind of discomfort or suffering to be unacceptable, and so the discussion becomes not a question of what to do with an enemy combatant in order to gather information, but whether it’s even acceptable to try to do so.

If an enemy combatant is asked for information and refuses to do so, what do you do? This kind of question has been asked in a number of TV series, Criminal Minds being one example where EIT doesn’t work. Of course it doesn’t, because we wouldn’t want to give anyone any ideas, no?

Second: definition of torture not notwithstanding, this really becomes a matter of the Moral Cost of Civilization, a concept that I sorely wanted to write about during the height of the Wikileaks diplomatic cables fiasco. The sad, sad truth is that States and their Governments will act in a manner that acts in its self interest and hopefully this interest reflects the interests of its Citizenry.

We rendition enemy combatants to nations friendly to torture—not just EIT—because our jurisdictional philosophy isn’t universal. Does it lead to results? We may never fully know. Is this a moral blight upon us? Assuming that it is, what are we going to do about it?

Do we, as a people, relinquish these actions completely, such that we draw the line at merely asking a captured combatant for his cooperation and giving up upon his refusal? There are people who think so and I’m not sure I want them in charge, nor do I want their standards. At the same time, I don’t want anyone who would think that EIT is in itself completely acceptable; that it is a standard to use, misuse and abuse against those we label as enemy combatants.

If asked whether EIT is “acceptable,” I’m afraid I don’t have a clear answer. What I do want, though, is a government that keeps the privelege to do so and yet accepts the heavy moral burden it takes on if it does. Because while it hurts to be a part of a society that embraces these techniques, the hope is that our children won’t have to.

Marking Osama Bin Laden’s death

Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say. A few points:

It’s too easy to think, as a politically active Conservative, that this is bad for the Republican Party because this is a victory for our current President. I’d rather not fall into the trap of zero-sum virtue; besides, while Liberal commentators would never acknowledge Bush’s role in laying the foundation for this, Obama’s choices and actions will have vindicated his predecessor’s policies. Let’s not forget that we can congratulate our President and not want him for re-election in 2012 anyway.

On the matter of the apparent vulgarity of the celebrations last night, perhaps the best response is from Aaron Brazell (emphasis mine):

We all mourned in our own ways on September 11, 2001 and that was expected. We all now have an opportunity for closure and that process cannot be dictated. People are wounded and scarred. This news is a reminder of that day 10 years ago and, like me, many are now re-living it. However one gets the necessary closure at this time, let it be done and get out of peoples way.

— Aaron Brazell: Osama, Closure

It may seem tasteless to remind everyone that 9/11 is not the only act of warfare Bin Laden has committed against us; in fact his ties to 9/11 aren’t as solid compared to Khalid Sheik Mohammed’s. Bin Laden may never have stood a chance at a fair trial in this country, especially since he’s issued plenty of broadcasts taking responsibility for his actions.

This is the dirty part of warfare: 9/11 has basically changed the rules. Stateless agents acting as terrorists can no longer be merely considered criminals, but as—I hate the term—“enemy combatants.” A nation can now declare war on groups of individuals, especially since a group has declared war against an entire nation. So assassinating Bin Laden on sovereign Pakistani territory is a little bit of a state action against a stateless individual. It’s messy, but it’s what we’ve got.

In a perfect world, private mercenaries acting as stateless agents could’ve committed this assassination on Pakistani soil. Following the same rules of warfare 9/11 has written for us,  the Pakistani government really could only declare war on them. But the world isn’t perfect, and Bin Laden has confessed to his guilt so many times for other crimes that have cost lives that is it really so bad for someone to say that his life is forfeit?

And what of Pakistan? Bin Laden’s conspicuously low-tech compound couldn’t have existed without State assistance. Innuendo is not evidence , so if there is one thing Pakistan should be held accountable for is their reaction to our presence there. Their planes tried to find our helicopters. This is a foreign relations challenge, one that needs to be dealt with by reminding Pakistan that we know they are not exactly our friends. Their government can claim they’ve killed more Al-Qaeda operatives than any of our allies, but this is not impossible math. They can kill as many AQ operatives who are considered useless, but they can pal around with the biggest names in terrorism. This is duplicity and hypocrisy, plain and simple, and the Pakistani government will have to answer for this.

Lastly: let us use this event to reflect on the  moral depths Bin Laden has brought our nation to. I have been a civil libertarian for over a decade; even in my most left-wing days I believed in the importance of civil rights. I have defended Bush and Obama’s policies in the name of national defense, but not without a heavy heart. Radley Balko has a list of sins done in our name and these are matters of fact. Yes, the initial intelligence was a product of enhanced interrogation and rendition. But let us never forget that we will have to roll back some of these things, not to regain the innocence that Bin Laden and friends have taken from us, but to make sure that future generations will never forget that these measures were necessary but nonetheless extreme, that this is not the “new normal,” and that such actions in the name of our safety should never be embraced in a cavalier fashion.