Sunday, August 31, 2008

Michael Moore and Don Fowler Express Hope That the Hurricane Kills People In New Orleans

Yes, that is what their comments boil down to. First Michael Moore, and now Don Fowler, former DNC chair, have said that God's hand is at work in sending another hurricane to New Orleans. Apparently both think drowned African-Americans is a good thing if it results in the GOP looking bad. Seriously, that is what these comments amount to. Michael Moore is that kind of an idiotic ideologue who would have people killed to get his way, like all Marxists have once they got power, but Fowler is just an idiot, having apparently not paid attention to what happened with Moore a few days ago for saying the same thing. Let me tell both of them: God is not on the side of anyone who thinking this way. Such thoughts are despicable.

We're getting a clear light into the souls of these people. Please pay attention.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gorki Aguila Fined

It seems the thugs running Cuba only decided to fine Gorki Aguila $28 -- a month-and-a-half's wages in Cuba. Why go after a singer-songwriter? Well, his lyrics could get someone thinking, and in a dictatorship, the last thing they want is free thought, because free thought leads to free action. The thugs in charge of Cuba couldn't have that. I'm guessing international attention has revised the sentence, but requiring a month and a half worth of wages is no small thing. (I will leave aside for a moment the fact that $28 is such a huge amount of money, which should tell you something about communism right there.) I received a comment in my last posting on Aguila that sounds like it could have been written by some Cuban propagandist. Technically, whether from the Cuban government or not, it was propaganda. The lies about the kind of government it has, and the laughable recommendation that Aguila run for office make it worth reading. I'm no fan of the Cuban embargo, as I believe it has only worked to keep those thugs in charge, but at the same time, one does have to keep high tech stuff away from those who would harm the U.S. Still, that does not require quite the embargo we have imposed. Still, the sooner the communist thugs are gone in Cuba, the better off the world will be.

Keep fighting for what is good and right and true Gorki!

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum . . .

It's too easy to make fun of Barack Obama giving his speech in front of faux Greco-Roman architecture. "Does he think he's a Greek god?" " . . . a Roman Emperor?" etc. But let's make fun of him for substantial reasons.

Through most of the acceptance speech, I was rolling my eyes at the substanceless claptrap that was, yet again, coming out of his mouth. Then, much to my surprise, for the first time, he actually said something. And I agreed with maybe 2/3 of his ideas. Which means one of two things: 1) he purposefully avoided specifics, because the specifics he gave would have never gotten him the nomination (you can't agree with me 2/3 of the time and win the DNC nomination), or 2) he lied about most of the 2/3. I personally don't believe for a minute that the Senator with the most Leftist record in the Senate was telling the truth about what he wants to do. The strategic move to the middle to try to get elected was completed last night.

Obama said that "government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves." And nothing else, I would add. Which means, little at all. But what does Obama think it is? "protect us from harm [vague, but good so far] and provide every child a decent education [all the home schoolers disagree with this, of course]; keep our water clean [I'll give him this one -- if he's talking about property rights enforcement] and our toys safe [the consumer actually does this best, so he's wrong here]; invest in new schools [would be much better if privatized] and new roads [for practical reasons, I'll give him this one] and science and technology [private industry and university grants can do this quite well without government -- all nonmilitary technology was developed by the private sector, not the government]." Quite a mixed back of things that we really cannot do reasonably well, and things which government has little to no business being involved in.

Obama: "That's the promise of America -- the idea that we are responsible for ourselves [I don't believe he believes this for a minute], but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper {someone should tell his brother in Kenya that -- hey, Obama, charity begins at home!]."

Obama: "I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America." I believe the first part, not the last part. He things private industry is the problem, not the solution, and that therefore all corporations need to have more taxes levied. I wish I believed all of it.

"I'll eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and the start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow." This is a demonstration of Obama's ignorance [of course, this IS the guy who thinks cars still need tune-ups]. Capital gains taxes are paid on stocks, bonds, and property that have gone up in value. It has nothing to do with small businesses and start-ups. At all. Unless it's someone buying property, of course. Or a brokerage. On the other hand, everyone who owns stocks or land -- I own a house and I have a small portfolio, though I'm far from rich (I'm middle class even by Obama's definition) -- do have to pay capital gains taxes. I'm not a small business (which don't own stock anyway), so I guess I and the other 100 million Americans who do own stock, property, etc. will probably face higher taxes.

"I will, listen now, cut taxes -- cut taxes -- for 95 percent of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class." I wish that were true. But what about the other 5%? And what if the economy gets better? The implication is that when it's no longer "an economy like this," that this no longer applies.

"And for the sake of our economy, our security and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as president: In 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East." And I have some magic beans to sell you. Government can do nothing of the sort. Never has, never will. That's not what governments are designed to do. They are especially not well-equipped to change the laws of nature.

Obama did say, "drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution." Nobody ever said it was anything but a stop-gap. MIght as well get what you got, though.

This angered the greens in the party: "I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power." We can safely harness nuclear power. We just need to stop the government from preventing the production of new plants. The Left want to emulate France in all things except one: they get 80% of their electricity from nuclear power. Also, he won't tap anything, as that is done by private companies. ANd coal is pretty clean already. When was the last time you heard about acid rain?

"I'll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America. I'll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars." If the American people want it, the auto companies won't need government to help them retool -- they will do it all on their own. In fact, they are. And these cars are becoming cheaper, too, so Obama's already way behind the curve on this. Rhetorical claptrap is all it is.

THere was of course more talk about throwing more money at education, even though there is no correlation between spending and outcome. "I'll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries and give them more support. And in exchange, I'll ask for higher standards and more accountability." Really? I don't believe it. The teachers' unions won't allow it. I have a Ph.D. in the Humanities, but I can't teach without certification. That's nonsense. I don't need additional certification -- I have a Ph.D. Naturally, teachers don't want to compete with me, so their unions had laws passed to prevent me from competing. Naturally, the unions would like to have higher salaries, but the unions are practically useless here, or else they would have higher salaries and better benefits. My wife had the worst health insurance she ever had when working for Dallas ISD. This is insurance provided by government (keep that in mind when Obama talks about universal health care). And the TEA absolutely will not stand for "higher standards and more accountability." And if there is one thing you can count on, it's that a Democrat will be beholden to the unions.

"If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums." How? By magic? Force? Threat? That's all government has. YOu may get lower premiums, but you will also get less coverage and care. Of course, he knows this, and that's why he wants to do it. Why? So he can justify true socialized medicine.

"And as someone who watched my mother argue with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying of cancer, I will make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most." Anecdotes always override facts in peoples' minds. Unfortunately. You never hear about the vast majority of people for whom the insurance company came through and covered them, of the insurance that covered an experimental procedure, of the continuing coverage when jobs were changed. All of this happened with my mother when she was dying with cancer. Now that my anecdote cancels out Obama's anecdote, can we please deal with truth and facts? I am so tired of hearing the stories of the one person in America who is having this or that problem, and using that unique situation used as justification for ruining lives, systems, and the economy as a whole.

"Now is the time to change our bankruptcy laws, so that your pensions are protected ahead of CEO bonuses; and the time to protect Social Security for future generations." On the last one, he already pooh-poohed the only real solution: privatization. It's either privatization, where everyone will get to retire rich, or keep it in the government, where it is used to loan money to the government at a low interest rate and requires ever-higher taxes.

"And now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day's work, because I want my daughters to have the exact same opportunities as your sons." They do, by any reasonable yardstick. The differences in pay stem from the choices men and women make. Consider doctor pay. Women make less than men, but men are more likely to go into a specialization (which pays more) and into private practice, while women are more likely to go into things like pediatrics or being a family doctor and are more likely to work for nonprofit hospitals. There's nothing wrong with any of these choices, but the choices many women doctors make result in lower wages. A nonprofit hospital simply cannot pay as much as a for-profit hospital. There is no insidious plot by men to keep women down. It's time that the paranoid rhetoric stopped.

"I will also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less -- because we cannot meet 21st century challenges with a 20th century bureaucracy." Please do. Shrink government any way you can. Better, how about you propose a "sunset law" that makes everything just go away unless directly voted on again every ten years or so.

I'm not sure he will get good in foreign affairs simply because I don't think he understands how many people think. He doesn't believe that someone can in fact be ill-intentioned. He doesn't believe that religion really matters in people's lives. He doesn't take real threats seriously. I do fear he'll be far more like Chamberlain than Roosevelt when it comes to foreign policy. And I fear he'll be more like Roosevelt when it comes to economic policy (Roosevelt's rhetoric still has people fooled into thinking his policies helped rather than hurt the economy, as all objective studies show). I've been back and forth on the abortion issue over the years, but Obama believes in out and out infanticide. On social issues he and I might agree somewhat on gay rights, but probably on little else.

Finally, economist Arnold Kling gives a great list of things no politician will ever be able to accomplish. In other words, any politician promising to accomplish anything in these areas that is beneficial is lying to you.

Next week I get to pick apart the Republicans. Should be fun.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Putin Comes Out For Obama

Looks like Putin just showed his hand regarding the US Presidential race when he accused the US government of pushing the Georgia conflict to influence the US election. Who could he be accusing the US government (read: the White House, i.e. George Bush) of trying to get into the White House? McCain, of course. Seems like Putin would rather have Obama there. Now why would that thug Putin prefer to have Obama over McCain? Hmm . . .

Harry Reid, Snake Oil Salesman

If you didn't sleep through Harry Reid's speech at the DNC convention, you got a glimpse into what it is the Democrats want for this country.

While I heard repeatedly last night that the DNC wanted to go boldly into the future, while others were stuck in the past, Reid went on to laud the energy policy of Nixon, Ford, and Carter. He assumed many in his audience were too young, I suppose, to remember that those policies caused a huge jump in gas prices, accompanied with long gas lines and shortages, all of which contributed to the enrichment of the OPEC nations. Of course, we are getting this from the man who has been in charge of Congress during the time when oil and gas prices have doubled.

You should also beware of anyone using terms like "hard solutions and common sacrifice" and asking Americans to "share common burdens." Someone using those terms understands that the "solutions" he has in mind are going to cause a great deal of harm. He criticized Bush for telling people to go on living life as they lived it after 9-11. It seems Reid would have preferred it if Americans' lives had been worse off afterwards. He is the one who is asking us to sacrifice ourselves to "the common good," which everyone knows is code for socialist government. He is the one asking us to burden ourselves. This is not necessary in a free country with a free market. Here's a glimpse of honesty here in the leader of the Left telling us that he wants us to all be more miserable.

I do love the irony in Reid's snake oil salesman analogy, telling us to ask first if a policy "first does no harm," and if it is "safe and effective." Certainly if we used those criteria when it comes to policy, I doubt we could justify more than 5% of what has ever been passed into law in this country. I think you'd be hard pressed to find much that Reid and his Democrats want to do that would pass these tests. One could take something as simple as seatbelt laws, which have caused more accidents to occur, while the number of auto accidents have remained steady -- resulting in a drop in the death rate per accidents, which is commonly touted as evidence the laws work. This is a law that does not meet either criteria, and certainly not the second. Also, any policy that requires that you take money from people through taxation does not meet the first criteria, as stealing money from people always does them harm, no matter how much money they may have. The DNC should really drop this line, because if people do get to thinking about these ideas too hard, the DNC will have a hard time getting votes ever again.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Free Gorki Aguila!

Cuba, that Mecca of Michael Moore, the place where all things Good and Wonderful happen on earth, has arrested a punk rocker for "social dangerousness." What will get you arrested for social dangerousness? Well, speaking out against the government, for one, which is what this musician is going to be going to prison for. Other forms of "social dangerousness," defined as 'behavior contrary to "communist morality"": public drunkenness, unemployment, skipping work, drug addiction, and "anti-social behavior." This is what the Left has historically had in store for its people. The Terror was invented by the first Leftists in the world -- the French Revolutionaries -- and every Leftist government has followed suit ever since.

If you liked the last two years, vote for Obama

I'm not one to recommend anything to McCain -- so let's say it's for anyone out there who is running for President (Bob Barr). The Democrats keep saying that McCain will be more of the same, that "if you liked the past 8 years, you will love McCain." The answer to that is: the economy was going great up until 2 years ago. Now what happened 2 years ago? Oh, that's right, the Democrats took both houses of Congress. Since then, the economy has slipped and oil prices have skyrocketed, causing gas prices to double in those two years. "If you liked the last two years, vote for Obama."

Leftist Doublespeak and Race-Bating at DNC Convention

Mark Warner said it, then Hillary Clinton repeated it. It was either a lie or a demonstration of their ignorance of how the economy works. "We borrow money from China to buy oil from countries who don't like us (read: Arab countries)." No we don't. That's about as inaccurate a statement as you can make. A lie, if they know it's inaccurate (how can they not?) -- a demonstration of incredible ignorance if they don't. The government, to borrow money, sells bonds. The Chinese government has bought up many U.S. government bonds. Now. to the limited extent that some of that money is used to fuel government-owned vehicles, and those vehicles are run on petroleum-derived fuel bought from private companies who have bought their oil from Arab countries, then one could argue that they were partially right. But we all know that that's not what they meant. They meant to imply a direct transfer. The government doesn't buy oil from foreign countries, except to supply the strategic oil reserve, which is very little of the oil bought by anyone in this country; private companies buy the oil, and they do it with the money they make selling petroleum products like gasoline. In the end, their claim that we borrow money from China to buy oil from Arabs is an example of scare-mongering by the Democrats. And it was more than a little racist.

Another huge lie told by Clinton was that we are "giving" windfall profits to the oil companies, as though it were the government who was contributing money to make sure the oil companies are making huge profits. As I've already noted before, they don't actually make huge profits, as a percentage of sales -- they just sell so much volume that the dollar amount in profits is huge. But you get an insight into the Democrats' way of thinking here: if the government didn't take it away, then they gave it to you. That's pretty perverse. That would be like a murderer killing one of your children, then saying he rescued the other one he didn't murder. Typical Leftist doublespeak.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hillary Clinton's Convention Speech

Hillary Clinton's speech at the convention was quite interesting. She spent more than the first half of it explaining why she should be President, then argued that a Democrat -- any Democrat -- should win the election. Barack Obama's name stood in for the generic Democrat, but she said nothing specific to him. In fact, all specifics were focused on her -- and Obama was relegated to "oh yeah, and he'll do that too." Could it be that she was making a subtle last-ditch argument to the superdelegates? There for a while I thought Bill looked really worried. It was also painfully obvious that there for a while Hillary was begging her supporters to please support Obama. She should have done that without it seeming to be so obvious. I also suspect that she could have done it too -- but she has plausible deniability if worse comes to worse (and we can only hope that that's the case, as the last thing we need is that neo-Marxist Obama in the White House).

''I think I have a much higher I.Q. than you do.''

How is that for arrogance? Leftist arrogance will be on full display with Biden running for VP with Obama as President. Of course, Biden WAS talking to a reporter, so one could simply take that as an completely accurate statement. Still, one should probably not be bragging about one's IQ when one graduates 76th in a class of 85, even if it is at Syracuse. Not that grades are necessarily any indication of IQ, but that is typically only true when looking at undergrad grades and not at graduate school -- or law school -- grades. By then you got all your goofing around out of you, the classes you considered "boring" are now gone, and you are focusing. In any case, such a comment is at best tacky. I have a much higher IQ than a lot of people, but I don't go around saying that. Besides, it's not an argument -- it's designed to shut people up.

Obamas' Insubstantial Rhetoric Continues

The insubstantial BS from the Obama campaign continues with Michelle Obama's speech at the DNC convention. She said that he wants, "to end the war in Iraq responsibly, to build an economy that lifts every family, to make sure health care is available for every American, and to make sure every child in this nation has a world class education all the way from preschool to college. That's what Barack Obama will do as president of the United States of America." And how will he do that? "He'll achieve these goals the same way he always has -- by bringing us together and reminding us how much we share and how alike we really are." That's no answer. That's feel-good claptrap designed to avoid answering the question (in this case, the question raised by Michelle Obama herself). Of course Obama is all about not answering questions . . . consider the BS answer he gave Pastor Warren when asked when live begins: "That's above my pay grade." Whatever. He has an answer to that, and he's going to make decisions based on that answer. He was a coward not to answer the question. Is that who we want as President? A coward?

Michelle ends her piece talking about Barack driving her and their newborn daughter home, and how we need to elect Barack Obama President in honor of her "daughters' future." I hate to tell her this, but I have a daughter too, and I have become equally radicalized with her birth -- to fight against the ideas of people like Barack Obama, Ted Kennedy, and Joe Biden. I actually want a better life for her, and that can only be achieved in a free country, meaning in a country with a free market economy with as little government interference in our lives as possible. If you have seen what Denver looks like now -- a police state -- then you have an idea of what I am fighting against. And if Obama ever says anything substantial you can pin him down on, you'll have an even better idea of what I'm fighting against. There are no less compatible ideas than Barack Obama's to bridge the gap between is and ought. But only if you believe what happened in the 20th century in that little strip of land between East Germany and the Pacific Ocean.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Let's Get Rid of Humor . . . For the Children

Seems like you can't even make a joke anymore, not even one designed to be intended as a compliment. P.C. has run amuck for sure when it shows up in rural Kentucky. Some people need to know how to take a joke.

Let me recommend this humorless woman avoid watching Aristphanes' plays -- especially the one where a man dresses up two girls as pigs to sell them. I'm guessing she wouldn't find that scene funny at all.

Excellence Is NOT Incompatible With "Community, Family, Well-Being"

Now here's political correctness run amuck: a 9 year old boy has been banned from playing baseball because he's too good of a pitcher. Apparently excellence is incompatible with "community, family, well-being, nurturing," according to Peter Noble, the Liga Juvenil De Baseball De New Haven league's attorney. The boy made their team win "too much," so the league asked the coach to replace the boy. Apparently excellence is not an appropriate to have in the league because "It's an extended family and it’s been disrupted.” Excellence disrupts? Of course it does. Is that a reason to get rid of it, to discourage it? This boy should be encouraged, praised, help up for his abilities. Instead, we have people whining about how good he is. Instead of trying to get rid of this boy, the other coaches and parents should be working to make the boys on the other teams better ball players. Here is an opportunity to use excellence to create more excellence, and instead everyone wants to take the easy, wimpy, pathetic way out. The parents, the league, and the coaches should all be ashamed of themselves.

Fidel Castro Supports Unsportsmanlike Conduct

If you want to know what kind of thug Fidel Castro is and has always been, consider the fact that he defended the crybaby he sent to the Olympics, who kicked the referee in the face. Well, one can't expect someone who murdered those who disagreed with him to believe in good sportsmanship. In response to Castro's comments, the Olympic committee should ban Cuba from the entire Olympics in 2012. If a country's leadership defends unsportsmanlike conduct (which is the nice term for what happened), then that country should not be allowed to compete in the following Olympics.

But I suppose all you Castro supporters out there will find some way to defend this.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Chinese Roads

A few images of Chinese roads:

Recently Barack Obama said, “everybody's watching what's going on in Beijing right now and the Olympics. Think about the amount of money that China has spent on infrastructure. Their ports, their train systems, their airports are all vastly superior to us now, which means if you're a corporation deciding where to do business, you're starting to think, Beijing looks like a pretty good option.”

Certainly China is growing. And of course, you have to have a good infrastructure if you're going to grow. Also, the Chinese government was determined to show the world all the good things it was -- and fake the rest if necessary. Perhaps Obama never heard of the Soviet Potemkin villages. After all, it's clear that what he learned about Marxism is the sanitized version -- you know, the version where the only reason Marxism never worked is because the right people didn't try it. Is Beijing a Potemkin village? To the extent that it is a facade put up to distract people from the way much of the rest of non-urban China is, it is.

I'm guessing Obama didn't look to closely at how they achieved the incredible infrastructure of Beijing in such a few short years -- or perhaps he did. Perhaps borderline forced labor is what he approves of. With the tax increases he would like to impose on us all, the effect would be the same.

I am impressed by how far toward free markets China has moved. They need to continue that move if they wish to sustain economic growth. Where's Obama's praise for that? If we're going to emulate China, shouldn't it be in moving more and more toward having a free market economy?

Please note the people and countries Obama praises. There is a disturbing pattern there.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Biden VP Pick

So Joe Biden is Obama's VP pick. Here is a good site detailing Biden's voting record. At the bottom is a chart that shows Biden to be a populist-leaning liberal, though he does seem to be lightly less Marxist than Obama. But don't worry, Obama will bring him along, I'm sure. Notwithstanding the fact that Biden's politics and his Catholicism are in almost diametric opposition -- according to the Catholic church, anyway. And not just on things like abortion, but also on economic issues. Socialism in general, and Marxism in particular, are anti-Catholic. If we believe what the popes have said for over 100 years, anyway.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Obama's Lack of Generosity

The following is The Obama's income, taxes paid, and, amount given to charity, as reported here:

Christians are supposed to tithe 10%. Even in his most generous years -- the ones leading into Senatorial election -- he doesn't come close to the minimum required. What this says is that Barack Obama could care less about helping anyone at all. He wants to take your money and be generous with it. But please don't ask him to give his own money. Oh no! Couldn't do that!

In the meantime, my wife and I take in something closer to what the Obamas paid in taxes in 2003, and have still managed to give away almost twice as much as the Obamas did that year -- more any other year between 2000-2004. We start with 10%, and give more beyond that. Recently I had to give up spending the day with my brother and his son because I had to wait all day for the Salvation Army to pick up some things (the third trip they've made to our house this year). All of this isn't to toot my own horn, but just to point out that here I am, talking about things like personal responsibility and how people can make it without government assistance, etc., and I give far more actual things and money, let alone percentage of income, than the Obamas, with Barack going on and on about how we need to be concerned with "the least of these," and how we need to give more to the government so the government can give more. How is it that people who are so generous with other people's money are rarely generous with their own?

I'm no fan of John McCain, but he gave a whopping 28.6% in 2006 and 27.3% in 2007 to charity.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Family, Rituals, and Anarchy

In the first chapter of the Bhagavadgita, Arjuna observes that, "In the annihilation of the family, its time-honored rites are destroyed; and when these rites perish, lawlessness overpowers the entire family."

This got me to thinking about family structures in general, and the destruction of families in particular.

Certainly there are many ways one can structure a family. In the West we have settled in on the "nuclear family" of husband, wife, and children, but traditionally, there have been families with many wives, with extended family living under the same roof, etc. The nuclear family has the benefit of being highly mobile, which is beneficial in a rapidly changing, highly mobile society like the U.S. If both the husband and wife work, it's hard enough to make the decision to move -- if a man is married to ten women, and they all have jobs, that decision is going to become nearly impossible. Why move just because one of you got a better job? The same argument could be used if your household consists of a husband and wife, their children, and their children's children. More people in the household certainly makes for a more psycho-socially healthy atmosphere, but it really narrows your economic options.

The idea of family rites, or rituals, also made me think about what happens when two people get married. I certainly had certain family rites and rituals I was raised with, and which I have taken into my own family. The same is true of my wife. When we decided to get married, we talked about what rites and rituals we wanted to have (naturally, we didn't say, "Hey, honey, let's talk about what rites and rituals our family should have," though that was what we were doing). We talked about how we wanted to raise children, what kind of lifestyle we wanted, etc. In marrying each other, we brought together the rites and rituals we were raised with, used some, rejected others, came to compromises, and even added some we weren't raised with at all. Neither of us were raised going to the opera or ballet or to museums (though I probably went to a few more museums than she did, neither of us had ever gone to the opera or ballet growing up), but these activities are certainly a part of our lives now, and will become a part of our children's lives.

The bringing together of different family rites and rituals is what really drives cultural changes, and is what almost certainly drove the evolution of different cultures throughout the world as families migrated across the face of the earth. My wife one day wondered why it is that most of the novels, plays and poetry in my library were written by men, and why it was that historically men were the storytellers. Where were the women? I asked her: who do you think came up with all the fairy tales and other stories told to children? The Grimm brothers only collected the stories -- it was women who came up with the stories and told them to their children, passing them from generation to generation. Over time, the stories were changed, developed, made more complex, simplified, etc. until written down. Many of our stories are based on folk and fairy tales, and it's likely both men and women contributed to their telling and development. For whatever reason, men tend to dissociate things from the family more than women do, so that is the likely reason why literature written for others (outside the family) have tended to be written by men. I would guess that this is because prehistoric women gathered food with family, but men hunted with men from other families. This tension between staying close to family and seeking help outside the family is likely what drove the creation of larger tribes, etc. until we get to the much larger cooperative-competitive international communities we now see.

Unfortunately, there are ideologies that do not like competition, and so seek to destroy families to eliminate that kind of loyalty, believing that if you are loyal to your family, you will be less loyal to the state. This is why socialists in the U.S. have developed a welfare state which could not have been better designed to prevent the creation of families. All the incentives to avoid marriage, yet have children, are there. Those who have bought into this system now live in communityless communities, unable to make a move to save themselves, waiting for others to rescue them from everything, but not trusting anyone. The families having been destroyed, the rites and rituals have also been destroyed, meaning the very thing which holds families together has been destroyed, keeping families from forming or from remaining together. There is no community without families, so whatever the mass of people living together in one spot, but which have no family structures at their base, could possibly be, it is not a community. How can you have a community where nobody trusts anybody else? Where you don't really know anyone else? No, these are not communities, and "community organizers" are a waste of time and effort -- true communities are self-organizing anyway, and don't need anybody coming in to organize anything. If you need a community organizer, there's nothing to organize. Anarchy prevails.

It's amazing the roads a single line can send you down, isn't it?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hitler's Playbook?

After invading another country, claiming it was doing so to protect its own ethnic group, the same country is now threatening to invade Poland . . . Haven't we seen this set of historical events before? And are we really contemplating electing Chamberlain President in light of all this?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

DNC Convention Could Be a Riot

With Obama slipping more and more in the polls, and with Hillary Clinton "considering" putting her name up for nomination, and with about half of the Democratic Representatives saying they are planning on voting for Hillary as superdelegates . . . Could Hillary be looking for an upset at the convention? And if she succeeded at doing something like that, what do you think would happen in this country?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Good Riddance to Musharraf

Despite the rhetoric -- from him as well as the U.S. -- Musharraf was never an ally in the war on al Qaida. Worse, he pretended to be, and stood in the way. A false friend is far worse than an open enemy. We should be glad to be rid of him, as whoever replaces him is much more likely to be open about their opposition to the U.S. -- or offer true support. Finally, he won't be around to undermine our war against al Qaida anymore. If Bush was ever actually fooled by Musharraf, he was a fool indeed.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Anthropology and Melina II

I have already written about Melina and her plush snake, but there are some additions to make on this issue. I have also bought Melina a rubber dimetradon, which she has used immediately -- with no prompting from either her mother or me -- to "attack" people's bellies, making the dimetradon bite everyone. I also bought her a plush tarantula, which she grabs and attacks people with, thrusting it at people and laughing as she does so (again, she was never shown to do this -- it was done on her own). She understands that the snake, the lizard, and the spider are scary creatures, and she uses them to attack people with. I've even watched her attack one of her baby dolls with the spider toy. She does not use any other toy to attack anyone with, with one exception: her cat toy. With the cat, she has a mixed form of playing. She will hug it and kiss it and make it meow, but she will also sometimes use it to attack people with. This is perhaps not surprising considering the fact that the cat is a mammal, so she (and we) feel close to it, but at the same time, cats eat primates, so it also makes sense that primates evolved to be wary of cats. Snakes, lizards, and spiders are all unambiguously scary. But with her dolls, she carries them and takes care of them -- recently, my wife caught her trying to give one of her dolls something to drink from her sippy cup. It's amazing the behaviors and understandings of the world we have which are innate.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Excellence of Tyson Gay

Just now I saw Tyson Gay fail to make it through one of the semifinals. WHen asked by the interviewer if it was because he wasn't at 100% due to his injured hamstring, Tyson Gay responded that he was in fact at 100%, and that he took full responsibility for not having run the race he could have and should have run. He said that despite the fact that it is known to everyone that he's not in fact at 100%. With seemingly everyone in this society looking to find any excuse for their shortcomings, it was marvelous to see this young man take responsibility even when he was not in fact responsible for the outcome. Can we please clone him? We need more people like him in this society. We'd be much better off. What a fantastic demonstration of character. To take responsibility that way is the paragon of virtue.

Some Thoughts on Plato's Phaedrus

I have been mulling over the possibility that Plato's "Phaedrus" is a philosophical satyr play of and paralleling Euripides' "Hippolytus." It does seem to have structural similarities, at least. Take for example "Phaedrus." It begins with a discussion of eros (love) in the first half of the dialogue, then shifts to a discussion of rhetoric. In "Hippolytus," Phaedra is going on and on about her love for Hippolytus then, after she kills herself, writing a suicide letter in which she lies about Hippolytus, his father accuses him, as he tries to defend himself, of engaging in mere rhetoric. Of course, so has Phaedra, only hers, while convincing, was a lie while Hippolytus's is not convincing. Further, we have the issue of writing vs. speaking in each work. One cannot question Phaedra about her letter, because she's not around to be questioned. Thus, one cannot tell if she is lying or not. This is the problem Plato is talking about in discussion issues of truth when it comes to writing in "Phaedrus." Throw in the fact the Hippolytus was a famous horse trainer, and Plato's discussion of the wild vs. the well-trained horse as elements of the soul, and the parallels seem to keep arising. This might also explain Plato's choice of Phaedrus as the person of choice for the dialogue, as Phaedrus is the masculine of Phaedra.

Why do I consider "Phaedrus" to be a kind of satyr play? Well, I would argue that in many ways "Phaedrus" is making fun of "Hippolytus" in structure. Also, there are some pretty funny and outrageous parts in "Phaedrus." It does seem to have the same feel about it as does the (unfortunately) only satyr play we have in its entirety, Euripides' "Cyclops."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Buchanan: Communist Russia Bad, Fascist Russia Good

During the Cold War, Patrick Buchanan was no friend of communist Russia. But now that Russia is acting like Nazi Germany in their lead-up to WWII, Buchanan is actually defending Russia. Not surprising, as Buchanan has repeatedly defended much of what Nazi Germany did, and most recently has gone so far as to attack Churchill's defiance of the Nazis. Odd, though, that for a short time Buchanan and Obama agreed with each other about who was to blame in the conflict between Russia and George -- but at least Obama changed his mind once he talked to the Georgian President. Of course, Obama changes his mind so much, one wonders what his opinion on the matter would be if he talked to Putin. Every time Obama hears something different, he changes his mind. That's not a good sign. That's a sign of someone who can be easily manipulated.

If you really want to know why Buchanan -- and, initially, Obama -- came out against Saakashvilli, consider this quote by him: "The [Georgian] government is going to help you in the best way possible, by doing nothing for you, by getting out of your way. Well, I exaggerate, but you understand. Of course we will provide you with infrastructure and help by getting rid of corruption, but you have all succeeded by your own initiative and enterprise, so you should congratulate yourselves."

This ideology is one vehemently opposed by both Buchanan and Obama. Make no doubt about that. Obama only said what he thought to be politically expedient -- in fact, he is in far more agreement with Putin's ideology than Saakashvilli's.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Problem With Schools: Corruption

My wife worked at a poor school in Dallas ISD, and what she observed there makes me come to the conclusion that the problem with poorer schools is the presence of rampant corruption. More money is spent per student in poor, underperforming schools than is spent in districts that do much better. Why is that? It's because of what nobody wants to talk about: corruption. The AC and the heat were often out in my wife's school, and people would come and look at things and do nothing. No doubt they were getting paid just as much to look and do nothing as others were paid in better-performing schools to actually fix those things. Who can teach under those conditions? Also, teacher authority is completely undermined by everyone. The student and parents have more authority than the teacher. Nobody believes anything the teacher says -- it is assumed that the teacher is lying, not the student, if it comes down to a confrontation between the two. Administration treats teachers terribly. This is further exacerbated by the fact that there's no discipline, and without discipline, learning will not occur. (It is no mistake that "discipline" and "disciple" -- pupil -- are derived from the same word.) Schools need to tell parents to shut up and let the teachers teach, that they either need to help their child learn, or get out of the way. Any parent who utters the words, "My child would never . . ." should be banished from the school grounds for the rest of the year.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Russia vs. Georgia

When the Soviet Union seized control over Georgia, it began moving Russians into Georgia -- as it did with every other country it took over to make a part of the USSR. Now South Ossetia, historically part of Georgia, but now full of Russians, due to the actions of the USSR, is trying to break away from Georgia. So Georgia responded militarily. This was an action against rebels within their own country. In response, Russia invaded. Now some might express sympathy with the Russians for wanting to protect Russians, but this was the same logic used by the Nazis to invade Czechoslovakia and Russia -- that they were protecting Germans and trying to bring them into Germany proper. It should concern us that Russia is beginning to act like Germany in the lead-up to WWII. It should concern us equally that Russia would show such contempt for a world tradition of not engaging in hostilities during the Olympics. This Russia may be more dangerous to the world (even if not anywhere near more dangerous to its own people) than the USSR was.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Thought on Interdisciplinarity in Light of the Olympics Gymnastics

The Chinese have a tradition of acrobatics, and the Russians have a tradition of ballet; both countries use their respective traditions as foundations for their gymnastics -- which is why their gymnastics teams are always so good. The American team, being typical Americans, are specialists in gymnastics. Thus, they are technically good, but quite often lack the flair needed to push a performance over the top. Specialization is great, and is a necessary aspect of a growing economy, but there comes a point when and where specialization-only reaches a brick wall. We see this in a lot of postmodern American and European art and literature, which is all about art and literature (since the artists and writers are specialists, they don't know anything else, and thus can't write about anything else). We see it in a lot of our attempts to solve complex problems with single disciplines, which is perhaps why we don't solve a lot of complex problems (we have the simple ones, like building cars, computers, and airplanes down pat). But we are not yet open to interdisciplinary approaches to much of anything. It perhaps does not help that interdisciplinary approaches are associated with Interdisciplinary Studies, which have been used as places where people who should not have even been allowed through the doors of a university can go when they fail out of underwater basket weaving, meaning nobody respects interdisciplinary studies, or interdisciplinary approaches. Which is a real shame, because interdisciplinarity is in fact difficult, and interdisciplinary studies should reflect that difficulty. In the meantime, other countries that are open to interdisciplinary approaches are going to take that advantage and use it. ONly if the U.S. continues to attract people from other countries will we remain ahead in the world.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

A Climate of Bad Writing

So apparently evil white people disproportionately pollute the planet, and minorities disproportionately are affected. This, according to J. Andrew Hoerner and Nia Robinson. The insidious evilness of white people is truly astounding. At least, if you believe these two racist Marxists.

But you know, plenty of people are attacking their ridiculous article in general terms. Let me show how absurd it is from a purely English composition point of view. Let's take the first paragraph.

"Everywhere we turn, the issues and impacts of climate change confront us. One of the most serious environmental threats facing the world today, climate change has moved from the minds of scientists and offices of environmentalists to the mainstream. Though the media is dominated by images of polar bears, melting glaciers, flooded lands, and arid desserts, there is a human face to this story as well."

Let's begin with the first sentence. If we accept philosopher Donald Davidson's claim in "Truth and Predication" that truth is to be found in the predicate of the sentence, then we can see that the first sentence says nothing at all, since many other subjects can be interchanged with it (since the predicate is in fact predicating nothing). Examples:

"Everywhere we turn, the issues and impacts of welfare confront us."
"Everywhere we turn, the issues and impacts of illegal immigration confront us."
"Everywhere we turn, the issues and impacts of racists like Hoerner and Robinson confront us."

Take your favorite issue, plug it into the subject slot (the true subject is in the prepositional phrase "of ---"), and the sentence is just as meaningful. Meaning, it has no meaning. So the entire work starts off with a meaningless statement. So far, so good.

In the second sentence we have the term "climate change." This is a meaningless term. The climate has always changed, throughout world history. It will always change. The implication is that if humans weren't around, then the climate would never change, which is false. There is an implied world view in the term "climate change" that does not match reality. Truth must map well onto reality. So we have seen that the first sentence is meaningless, and the second sentence is implicitly untrue.

The last sentence of the first paragraph is equally nonsensical: "Though the media is dominated by images of polar bears, melting glaciers, flooded lands, and arid desserts, there is a human face to this story as well." I'm not ignorant of the picture of the polar bears they are referring to, but it's not explicit. It could in fact mean any picture of a polar bear in the media. Recent pictures of melting glaciers should perhaps give us pause, but I am pretty sure that floods and deserts have been with us for a long, long time. The implication is that all the floods and deserts came about due to climate change, which is false. So the nouns of the predicate of this sentence go from "uncertain reference" to "true implication" to "false implication" and "false implication." Which makes the entire final sentence false in its implications -- not to mention very sloppy. For example, aside from the examples I gave, they wrote "dessert" for "desert," though I do suppose "arid desserts" could be blamed on climate change if we suddenly saw a rash of dry deserts due to our having less access to milk and vegetable oils due to climate change.

It's a rather embarrassing beginning to an article, and it demonstrates the poverty of thinking skills of the authors. Writing demonstrates thinking clarity and skill. They have demonstrated immediately to the reader that they are neither clear nor skilled in their writing or thinking.

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Breck Girl Confesses All

John Edwards, not satisfied with using his wife's terminal illness to try to boost his unsuccessful Presidential campaign within this past year, just revealed what everyone knew, but the MSM refused to even try to investigate: he's been having an affair. My wife a year ago said he was the kind of man who would, seeing as he's the kind of person who can't imagine how lucky you must be to be with a man like him (in contradisctinction, men and women who don't cheat all can't believe how lucky they are). Of course, only John Edwards can't believe how great John Edwards is. He should be ashamed of himself, but you can't be ashamed when you're shameless.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Paris Hilton for President?

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

Everybody else has it, so why not me? I do think it's funny that Paris Hilton was able to articulate a more coherent energy policy than Obama has been able to do. Apparently so do some Republican Congressmen, who should thank Paris Hilton for drawing some attention to their protest of Nancy Pelosi ignoring their calls for a vote on energy policy. The media has been completely ignoring them for days. Their incredible partisanship is getting incredibly disgusting. If the Democrats were holding a protest against a Republican-controlled Congress, the MSM would be covering it 24-7. This level of partisanship by the MSM is shameless.

But I seem to have gotten a bit off topic. With Paris Hilton articulating such a good energy policy, is it possible that Hilton and not Obama is the celebrity with the most substance? Not surprising, considering I have observed previously that Obama's speeches are almost entirely free of content. More so, Hilton is showing that she's more forward-thinking than Nancy Pelosi, who keeps bringing up the argument that it would take 10 years to get any oil which, even if true, is irrelevant. If gasoline prices doubled in the 2 years since she took over control of Congress, think of what it will be in 10 years without our adding any oil to the world supply. Her argument amounts to: since it won't help immediately, it won't help at all, ever. SOmeone who is that short-sighted has no business being in charge of anything. Paris Hilton WOULD make a better Speaker than Pelosi. Sadly, I just realized that's not quite the compliment to Paris Hilton I meant it to be.

To be honest, I've always appreciated Paris Hilton in an Andy Warhol kind of way, and I must say that this video only improves my opinion of her. This was exactly the right way to respond to the use of her image by the McCain campaign. Gotta love it.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Economics Does Not Lie

As Guy Sorman observes, Economics Does Not Lie. As economics has truly become a science, it has concluded that the free market -- a naturally-occurring system -- is the best economic system. To me this is much like an ecologist observing that the naturally-occurring ecosystem works best to keep organisms on earth alive, but sadly too many people don't understand this fact.

Walter Williams Book Review

Walter Williams reviews Edgar K. Browning's new book "Stealing from Each Other: How the Welfare State Robs Americans of Money and Spirit". In the review he shows that government transfers of money cost the economy 25% of GDP -- in other words, we should have an $18 trillion, not a $14 trillion, economy. The bottom 10% makes up to $10,500 in the U.S. If we assume everyone's income goes up 25% (meaning the rich get richer in absolute terms), then that $10,500 goes up to $13,125. I suspect it would go up more than that, simply because the disincentives to working welfare provides -- and which keep the bottom 10% with this little money -- would be gone. A full-time job at $6.25 a year makes you $12,500 a year before taxes (which you would get back at the end of the year anyway). And if everyone had to work, because they weren't getting welfare, that would eliminate the voluntary unemployed (the unvoluntary unemployed don't typically remain unemployed for long), thus making for a smaller supply of available workers, which would drive up wages. All of which is prevented by transfer payments.

In other words, crime contributes to keeping people in poverty. It doesn't matter if the thieves are gangs or government.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Innumeracy and the Cost of Gas

I heard someone complaining today on a talk show about the high profits of the oil companies, and the host, of course, pointed out that the oil companies make less than 10% in profit (right at 10% for Exxon), and that they pay more in taxes than they make in profit. The called kept going on and on about the amount of money, ignoring -- or ignorant -- of the difference between amount and percentage. Let me demonstrate.

If Exxon brought in $400 billion, but only 10% of that is profit, they would have a $40 billion profit. People seem to be focused on the last number, the mere amount. But let's look at it this way:

If we assume that all the money brought in is from gasoline sales (which it's not), and Exxon eliminated its profit entirely, then gas at $4 a gallon would only go down by $0.40, meaning gas would still be $3.60. Let's be honest, that's not a big difference. A far, far higher percentage of our gas price is in fact from both gas and corporate taxes (since Exxon and every other oil company passes down the cost of taxes to the consumer). Further, why would Exxon continue to be in business if it couldn't bring in a profit? They are providing a vital service to people, and only reap a small percentage profit from it. How much better off is your life because you have cars rather than horses as transportation. Do you consider that a mere 10% improvement in life?

Monday, August 04, 2008

Windfall Profit Tax on the American Consumer

I really don't have to say much more than is already said here on Obama's idea of a "windfall profit tax" on the oil companies. I willsay a few things, though. If the idea is to tax profits above 10%, then the proposal is completely empty, since that was the profit rate for Exxon, the most profitable US oil company. That means the government wouldn't take a dime from Exxon (which they shouldn't, anyway), but would be telling the American people that they are now really sticking it to the oil companies. How cynically manipulative can you be?

The next thing to note is something I've said in a previous discussion on the Fair Tax, which is that companies don't pay taxes. If the government were to raise taxes on the oil companies, the oil companies would raise prices to make up for the lost money -- thus eating up the entirety of the $1000 per person Obama is promising.

It looks like Obama's ideas are as empty as his rhetoric.

Emergent Orders and Top-Down Structures

Welfare states like the U.S. are the opposite of spontaneous order -- a spontaneous order is a bottom-up process. The welfare state is a top-down imposed process. This is something which works well in creating incredibly simple objects from incredibly simple materials -- like cars and computers -- but it is a disaster when it is applied to complex, self-organizing emergent systems like humans and the spontaneous orders we create, like free market economies, science, cultures, and democratic governments.

We make mistakes when we apply one model to another without really thinking it through. Socialism was an attempt as "scientific economy" because the spontaneous order of science worked so well to create new knowledge. More recently, the Left have accepted the equality necessary for the spontaneous-order government of democracy to work as a good model for the economy as well. It's not. Votes and money do different things, convey different information, and have different outcomes. Votes work best in government; money works best in economies. Another mistake is thinking that complex systems are the same as emergent orders. As a result, you can get people thinking that what is applicable to a company is applicable to government. Again, it's not. Part of the problem too comes about from the fact that too often we do not understand how complexity comes about. For example, companies are not small planned economies. They are self-organizing systems. Over time they become more and more ordered, forming departments in order to keep information more local and contained, so that people can deal with them more easily. Complex systems all give the appearance of having been designed, but none of them truly are. Companies which are truly centrally planned and controlled collapse under the necessary weight of ignorance of the person at the top. I"m the President of The Emerson Institute for Freedom and Culture, Inc., and planning isn't something that is even possible. Which reminds me of an old saying, "When men make plans, God laughs." The more we learn about complex systems, emergence, bottom-up self-organization, and spontaneous orders, the more that saying makes sense.

A communist state definitely does not fit the definition of a bottom-up self-organizing system. It is top-down by any stretch of the imagination. But companies all start small and slowly self-organize into larger and larger companies. In communist countries, the bureaucracy is imposed form the top, but in a company, the company bureaucracy emerges over time. A company more closely resembles the evolution of animals from single-celled organisms to complex organisms with central nervous systems. Further, it may appear that a complex organism is controlled from the top, by the central nervous system, but that isn't true, either. No company was ever designed, but emerged out of a hodgepodge of good and bad decisions, good and bad fortune, good and bad people working for (and being fired from) the company over time. In the end a large corporation only appears in the most superficial way to a communist country -- but the way it is run, and the way it evolved and organized make all the difference in the world. Most people neither realize nor understand that, and so think that government can be run like a company. It can't. It's a different kind of entity altogether. A self-organized government wouldn't look at all like a company, as it has different goals and different forms of information creating it ( money for corporations, votes for democracy -- though each have partially infected the other, which creates problems). Believing a company is a top-down organization due to its structure and complexity is analogous to believing in creationism because you can't imagine or understand how complex organisms could have evolved.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

RIP Alexander Solzhenitsyn

"It is we who shall die — art shall remain. And shall we comprehend, even on the day of our destruction, all its facets and all its possibilities?"

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, 1970 Nobel Prize lecture.

Today Alexander Solzhenitsyn died at 89. While one could criticize his lack of understanding the connection between Leftism and the gulag, about which he wrote so knowingly and passionately, one certainly cannot criticize his literary brilliance nor his unwavering courage. The loss of a great artist is always a great loss for the world.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Gifts of Obama

After hearing recently that Barack Obama and his wife don't give Christmas or birthday presents to their daughters, I decided to look into it. Now, while Obama is quoted as saying they do this because they “want to teach some limits,” it turns out things aren't quite as dire as they seem. For example, instead of birthday presents, they throw big birthday slumber parties. I'm guessing his 7 and 10 year old daughters aren't complaining about that. And on Christmas the two girls do get presents -- they are all just labeled as being "from Santa Claus." Again, this works well for daughters who are 7 and 10. However, it also sends the message that it is the material goods which are important, and not who gives you the gifts. This I suppose is not too surprising, since Obama's political ideology is so clearly rooted in dialectical materialism. Materialists think that the only things which are important are material things, that economic considerations are the only considerations. So Barack Obama and his wife don't think it's important that their daughters get the presents from them, that their daughters understand that they give those Christmas gifts to them out of love -- they think the only thing that is important is that their daughters get those things. They are separating the giver from the gift -- something I suppose one should expect from a Leftist, since that is a precise definition of their social-economic policies. As far as the daughters are concerned, of course, they will learn one day that there is no Santa Claus, that their parents really were the ones giving the gifts. But still, there is something subtly dehumanizing in the Obamas' attitude toward gift-giving.

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Spoiled Children of Capitalism

Jonah Goldberg has an excellent article on why those who have benefited most from capitalism are those who hate it most. He correctly points out, as I have before, that it is not poverty which needs to be explained, but wealth. More, he hints at the fact that socialists are the ones who are deeply materialistic, not capitalists. It is socialists who think that everything involves materialism and only materialism. Thus, when resource-rich African countries are poor, Western exploitation is blamed -- even if no one can actually find examples of such exploitation. The real problems: lack of rule of law, lack of property rights protections, etc. But these are ignored. Why? Liberal guilt. Ironically, such liberal guilt results in more poverty and suffering, while if those same liberals would use their money and education to open up businesses, poverty could in fact be eliminated.