Ah, the irony of the good marriage gone bad

As you may recall, after I saw the movie Julie and Julia, I wrote a very scathing post about the movie, arguing that it contained completely unnecessary attacks on Republicans.  Long-time blog friend Earl left a thoughtful comment arguing that the movie was redeemed, completely, through its presentation of marriage:

What I LOVED about Julie and Julia, and the reason I’m telling all my friends and relatives to go and see it, was the positive portrayal of marriage…..loving, imperfect, “real”…..especially Julie’s. The “modern”characters each act badly at times, but they realize it and make amends and get back together and do better. They’re truly committed in a way that young people need to see…and self-centered as Julie is (and she REALLY is – but I act a bit like that [ignoring 'most everything in my focus on the immediate] when things get tough at work, so I was cutting her some slack), she “gets it” pretty quickly, and she deletes a mention of the fight from her blog, and really does reach out to her husband when he shows up. “Please be back” just hit me in the solar plexus — she didn’t have to say that, but it communicated everything!

While very much respecting Earl’s viewpoint (and wishing more movies met his standards), I argued that the modern Julie character was so awful the movie made the marriage look more like a martyrdom than a partnership.  This was separate from the fact that Julia Child’s marriage apparently was a true match of adoring equals:

However, I also find that it’s a woman’s movie in that, with the modern Julie character, it says that you can be utterly self-centered and demanding, as long as you cry prettily and express remorse when the chips are down. That Julia’s husband would love her makes sense. Although I found the shrieks and whoops irritating, her lust for life was clearly an attraction. With the Julie character, I just didn’t get it — and maybe that’s because I’m a gal and saw only another in a series of neurotic women. I’m good friends with a lot of neurotic women — heck, I am a neurotic woman — and there’s a fine line between charming and unlovable.

Perhaps because I’m such an aficionado of women’s romance novels, it turns out that my read was probably a more accurate one, if not of the movie, than of the real situation in the real Julie Powell’s life.  You see, Julie has written another book about what happened after fame, and it’s ugly, at least as applies to her and her attitude towards marriage, fidelity and her husband:

But now, in Ms. Powell’s “Cleaving,” two years have passed, and things have changed. Despite her phenomenal literary success, her 10-year marriage to Eric is falling apart. She is having a sado-masochistic affair with “D,” an old flame, whom she ends up stalking. Oh, and she has decided to become a butcher’s apprentice.

[snip]

Ms. Powell juxtaposes the details of her butchering with her obsession with the dreaded “D.” She loves being bruised and roughed up by him. It makes her feel “fierce, strong—emancipated.” How could this be so? “The first time he slapped me across the face, after all, I was bound in trusses I’d given him.” Readers may find such passages disturbing, as they are no doubt meant to be, not least because they echo earlier scenes of humans lethally dominating animals.

The author shows a certain sadistic streak of her own in the way she treats Eric. A tiny detail says it all. Did she really have to write that, when “D,” in one of their trysts, unzips Ms. Powell’s black high-heeled boots, he finds that she is wearing what she calls “stupid argyle socks,” adding “Eric’s socks, actually”?

I continue to applaud Earl’s belief that marriage is neither a sleaze-fest nor a relationship of impossible perfection, both of which are normative for Hollywood movies.  I wish that Hollywood would portray the ordinary tensions of truly loving matches.  And while it might have touched upon that in Julie and Julia, there’s no doubt that the real Julie’s narcissism made such a relationship impossible to sustain.

The incoherence emanating from the White House *UPDATE*

One of the best things George Bush did during his presidency was to appoint the late, great Tony Snow as his press secretary.  Snow was a dream press secretary, straight out of central casting:  handsome, intelligent, erudite, informed, charming and witty.  Even the savagely anti-Bush press appeared to enjoy his statements and, once he was up there at the podium, they had a much harder time attacking George Bush’s policy initiatives.

Barack Obama, who is making a presidential career out of being the un-Bush, has also done a 180 when it comes to his press secretary.  Robert Gibbs is the Bizarro World version of Snow.  In place of Snow’s many virtues, Gibbs is visually unappealing, which would be meaningless if it wasn’t accompanied by an uninformed boorishness that permeates his every utterance.  The White House press has been giving him a pass because he’s the front person for their idol, but any objective listener would have to conclude that the man is a fool — or, which might be even worse, he plays a fool in order to obfuscate entirely what his employer is doing.

Gibbs’ primary problem (or, if you incline to the obfuscatory theory, his primary virtue) is that he is unintelligible.  Today, he gave a perfect example of a ten cent man using three dollar words (emphasis mine):

TAPPER:  When more troops are sent into a country, inevitably it results in more casualties, when the military presence and fighting is increased. Is the president going to — is that going to be part of the president’s message tomorrow, to prepare the American people for the fact that, while an exit strategy exists, the next year or two is going to be perhaps bloodier than even the last six months?

GIBBS:  Well, I — and we’ve discussed this before. I think the amount of sacrifice that we’ve seen from the men and women that we have there already is something that I know the president is assured by each and every day. I think — you know, he signs letters of condolence.  He meets with the families of those that have been killed.  Obviously, the trip to Dover is something that I doubt you ever truly forget.  I think the president will reiterate the importance of why we’re there, but also, by all means, very early on, acknowledge the tremendous cost and sacrifice to our men and women in uniform.  I don’t think there’s any doubt that we are all in awe of — of the commitment from our military and our civilian side in order to get this right.

What in the world does the above mean?  The question is whether the president is going to prepare the American people for the fact that, with more troops, there’s more fighting; and with more fighting, we can anticipate more casualties.  It’s a good question, because we saw precisely that result with the Iraq Surge.  At the time, the press  immediately fell into a hysterical dizzy about body counts, until it became obvious to them, and to the rest of the world, that, on the battle field as on the surgery table, a quick cauterization sees some significant initial trauma, but then completely stops the flow of blood.  A smart president would help the American people understand this fact, so that they could support this mini-surge without panic.

Given the sensible question, Gibbs could easily have returned with a sensible answer. Instead, Gibbs tells us that Obama is “assured” by those troops who have already fought, been wounded and died on Afghani soil.  Hey!  He’s even written condolence letters.  This talk isn’t merely non-responsive, it’s nonsense.  What does the fact that the president finds American deaths “assuring,” and that he signs off on letters, have to do with the pragmatic issue of preparing Americans for the short-term hits and long-term benefits of a Surge?

Only after spewing the crude and painful nonsense does Gibbs make a stab at actually answering the question and, typically, he answers it wrong.  Instead, of making the point I made, which is that the military is willing to make a short term sacrifice to assure a long-term benefit, Gibbs waffled on about how troops are going to die — and how the White House really, really appreciates the fact that they’re going to make this sacrifice to “get this right.”  It’s unclear whether the “this” that the troops are supposed to die for in order to “get [it] right” is America’s national security, or Obama’s political stability.

Gibbs’ response is appalling at every level.  It’s stupid, unintelligible, insensitive, and strategically and politically wide of the mark.

Gibbs doesn’t improve when Tapper asks about long-term political goals in Afghanistan.  First, Gibbs has no idea what the issue is:

TAPPER:  And just in terms of defining our terms, where does making sure that we have a stable Afghan partner and — and nation- building begin?  What’s the line? Is it just — is it just a question of our responsibility, U.S. responsibility being training Afghan troops?  It’s just — that’s the safe and secure part, the safe and stable partner part? Because we’ve heard a lot about what the U.S. intends to do, and I know you don’t want to get ahead of the president’s speech, but just in terms — if you could define the terms a little for us.

GIBBS:  Well, I — I guess I would more ask you to — I don’t — I’m unclear as to what continuum you’re putting.  Are you asking me to — to put them on a certain…

I’ll concede that Tapper got a bit wordy there, but the question is clear: He’s asking Gibbs to explain how the Surge will assure a stable Afghanistan.  If Gibbs was at all intelligent, he’d seize the question and spout a party line:  “The president anticipates that there will be X number of months of harder fighting until the situation on the ground is stabilized.  Even as the Surge goes forward, however, we will be working with the Karzai government….”  Simple.  Anyone can do it, even someone who actually has no idea what the facts on the ground are.  Gibbs, however, struggles visibly to figure out what the heck the question means.

When Tapper clarifies, Gibbs goes from bad to worse, lapsing eventually into complete incoherency:

TAPPER:  Well, the president has said about the new strategy that it’s important that we have a secure, stable ally in the Afghan…

(CROSSTALK)

GIBBS:  Right. Well, and a partner that is — and a partner that understands, as the president directly told President Karzai in a telephone call in the Oval Office, that it is time to turn — it’s time for a new chapter in our relationship as it relates to corruption and improved governance in order to address the security situation not just through training and security force needs, but also — look, it’s hard for a civilian — it’s hard for civilians to go in and improve areas — it’s impossible — that aren’t secure.  So I would say this is all part of what has to be a partnership. And I think anybody would tell you that — that — and I’ve said this, and I think, quite frankly, you’ve seen this from Democrats and Republicans in Congress — without partners that are willing to do stuff in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, no number of American troops can solve all of those problems unless or until those steps are taken inside both of those countries where we see a change in the security situation.

Again, what in the world does Gibbs mean?  There’s not a single declarative sentence in there.  Let me translate what he said in simple English, so that you can see that he didn’t say anything:

Tapper question:  How will the Surge work to stabilize the Afghani political scene?

Gibb-erish answer:  A partner works with you.  Karzai is the man Obama talks to.  Obama talked to Karzai on the phone.  He actually called him from the Oval Office.  He said that Karzai needs to work on the corruption and governance thing, so that civilians can go places.  (Bookworm here:  It’s unclear whether Obama wants Karzai to do away with corruption or simply do it better.  If it was any president other than Obama, I’d assume the former.  Given our President’s background in Chicago politics and community organizing, though, I really am not prepared to assume what Gibb meant with this babble.)  We need a partner.  Everyone agrees we need a partner.  Even troops aren’t partners.  So, we need a partner.

Let me distill Gibbs’ puerile utterances even further.  Tapper asked how the Surge will link to the Afghani political scene, whether in the short or long term.  Gibb-erish responded by saying “we need a partner.”  Objection, your honor.  Nonresponsive.

During the campaign, Obama, holding tightly to his teleprompter and prepared speeches, seduced the audience with dreamy platitudes about the intangibles of hope and change, and with concrete lies about his actual political agenda.  Now that the campaign is over, Obama has no deal with real issues and real problems.  He’s had to fire Hopey and Changey, two dwarfs who have no place in actual governance, especially when the governance is trying hard to drag the country to a bankrupt Left.  In their place, if Obama had demonstrated any of the smarts his acolytes attribute to him, he would have delegated the job of communications to a smart guy like Doc.  Instead, he went for Dopey, with the obvious results.  As for me, this whole thing is making me Grumpy.

UPDATE:  In the first item in Monday’s Best of the Web Today, James Taranto suggests that Gibbs’ incoherence may originate with the boss.

A literary take on scientific corruption

The whole sordid story of the corruption of science at one of the world’s premier institutions that has been pushing the man-made global warming theory sounded vaguely familiar to me, but I couldn’t figure out why.  It was only last night that I finally realized that the debate perfectly parallels a major plot point in, of all things, a mystery.  But not just any mystery.  The book is Dorothy Sayers’ Gaudy Night, published in 1936.  Sayers was no hack novelist.  Instead, she was the highly intelligent product of a pre-WWI Oxford women’s education.  She was imbued in the classical concepts of literature, philosophy, history and science.  When she set out to write her acclaimed Peter Wimsey murder mysteries, she brought these sensibilities to the mystery novel.

Gaudy Night is the most autobiographical of her novels.  The main protagonist isn’t Peter Wimsey at all, but his great love, Harriet Vane, a prickly, brilliant mystery writer.  The book begins with Harriet having returned to Oxford to attend her college’s “gaudy,” which is a cross between a class reunion and something inexplicably British.  While there, a poison pen writer strikes.  When Harriet returns to London, the poison pen writer continues to send anonymous missives to people at the women’s college, and eventually escalates to vandalism and physical violence.  The staff at Harriet’s college is anxious to keep the matter private, since they are concerned that their college, a fairly new institution at the time, might have its reputation irreparably damaged if others learned that a female student or, worse, a female professor was behind the letters and violence.  With discretion as the byword, the administration invites Harriet, rather than the police, to investigate the matter.  Harriet, in turn, eventually invites Peter Wimsey.

Because the book is set at Oxford University, and because it is clear that someone working in the college — as opposed to a young student — is the culprit, the book is much taken up with the private and public loyalties of the various faculty members.  In other words, it asks over and over what their obligations are to the institution and to themselves and their families.  Without exception, in the Oxford tradition of the time, which was derived from the monastic tradition, the teachers were unmarried.  Staff members, such as the school secretary, could be married.

In the scene that reminded me so strongly of the sordid events at East Anglia, Harriet has invited Wimsey to join her at a faculty dinner.  The participants there are various teachers and administrators, ranging from the misanthropic history professor, Miss Hillyard; to the aggressively objective science teacher, Miss Edwards; to the very politically correct Misses Shaw and Stevens; to the disciplined, academically passionate history professor, Miss DeVine; to Miss Lydgate, the sweet, but academically ferocious English professor.  That’s the mise en scène, and this is what Sayers has to write (redacted to remove stuff specific to the mystery).  All emphasis is mine:

“Of course,” said Miss Hillyard, in a hard, sarcastic voice, “if you think private loyalties should come before loyalty to one’s job . . .”

[snip]

“Of course, I don’t say that one should be disloyal to ones job for private reasons,” said Miss Lydgate.  “But surely if one takes on personal responsibilities, one owes a duty in that direction.  If ones job interferes with them, perhaps one should give up the job.”

[snip, which picks up with Wimsey speaking]

“How about the artist of genius who has to choose between letting his family starve and painting pot-boilers to keep them?”

“He’s no business to have a wife and family,” said Miss Hillyard.

“Poor devil!  Then he has the further interesting choice between repressions and immorality.  Mrs. Goodwin, I gather, would object to the repressions and some people might object to the immorality.”

“That doesn’t matter,” said Miss Pyke.  “You have hypothesized a wife and family.  Well — he could stop painting.  That, if he really is a genius, would be a loss to the world.  But he mustn’t paint bad pictures — that would be really immoral.

“Why?” asked Miss Edwards.  “What do a few bad pictures matter, more or less?”

“Of course they matter,” said Miss Shaw.  She knew a good deal about painting.  “A bad picture by a good painter is a betrayal of truth — his own truth.”

“That’s only a relative kind of truth,” objected Miss Edwards.

[As matters digress, Harriet steers the conversation back on topic]

“If you can’t agree about painters, make it someone else.  Make it a scientist.”

“I’ve no objection to scientific pot-boilers,” said Miss Edwards.  “I mean, a popular book isn’t necessarily unscientific.”

So long,” said Wimsey, “as it doesn’t falsify the facts.  But it might be a different kind of thing.  To take a concrete instance — somebody wrote a novel called The Search

[snip]

“I never read the book,” said the Warden.

“Oh, I did,” said the Dean.  “It’s about a man who starts out to be a scientist and gets on very well till, just as he’s going to be appointed to an important executive post, he finds he’s made a careless error in a scientific paper.  He didn’t check his assistant’s results or something.  Somebody finds out, and he doesn’t get the job.  So he decides he doesn’t really care about science after all.”

“Obvious not,” said Miss Edwards.  “He only cared about the post.”

[snip]

“The point about it,” said Wimsey, “is what an elderly scientist says to him.  He tells him:  The only ethical principle which has made science possible is that the truth shall be told all the time.  If we do not penalize false statements made in error, we open up the way for false statements by intention.  And a false statement of fact, made deliberately, is the most serious crime a scientist can commit.’ Words to the effect.  I may not be quoting quite correctly.”

“Well, that’s true, of course.  Nothing could possibly excuse deliberate falsification.”

“There’s no sense in deliberate falsification, anyhow,” said the Bursar.  “What could anybody gain by it?”

It has been done,” said Miss Hillyard, “frequentlyTo get the better of an argument.  Or out of ambition.”

“Ambition to be what?” cried Miss Lydgate.  “What satisfaction could one possibly get out of a reputation one knew one didn’t deserve?  It would be horrible.”

To answer Miss Lydgate’s question, one can apparently get quite a lot out of a reputation one knows one doesn’t deserve.  Al Gore, no scientist himself, although he plays one on TV, has made hundreds of millions of dollars.  That’s just greed, though, which is almost understandable.

What is infinitely more awful than mere greed and ignorance is the fact that so many scientists have pursued the man-made global warming scheme as a way to destroy the entire capitalist, post-industrial infrastructure of the Western world.  Armed with the fanatic belief that humans are irredemably evil, and that Westerners are particularly evil, they have used man-made global warming as a method to de-fuel us.

Without our energy, we have no factories, we have no transportation, we have no light, we have no heat.  We are reduced to pre-industrial essentials of subsistence farming in a world lit only by fire.  With this grand ideological goal, who cares about a single individual’s scientific reputation.  It is enough to have the power to remake the world in a Marxist image.

I think it is worth repeating to ourselves, again and again, Sayers words about the absolute necessity for pure science:  “The only ethical principle which has made science possible is that the truth shall be told all the time.  If we do not penalize false statements made in error, we open up the way for false statements by intention.  And a false statement of fact, made deliberately, is the most serious crime a scientist can commit.

Two excellent articles to start your morning

I realize that, with readers all over the world, speaking about “morning” is a bit silly, but I can only function according to the rules of my own time zone.  I’m up, but so are the kids, and the “getting ready for school” drill is in full swing.  It’s definitely morning for me, and will be for another hour. Fortunately, friends emailed me two fascinating articles for those of you who are already well into your day and have the luxury of a bit of reading time right now.

The first is an American Spectator article by Patrick O’Hannigan, in which he focuses on the direct line between Obama’s background as a community organizer and his failures as a president.  I always enjoy Patrick’s writing, but I have to say that I think this is one of his best, filled with truly deep thoughts, carried along on a river of elegant writing.

The second article, which intelligence analyst extraordinaire Steve Schippert recommended to me, is a very worrying analysis of the situation in Pakistan.  You won’t feel better after reading this article, but you’ll definitely feel more informed.  It goes without saying that our community organizer in chief hasn’t yet figured out a way to deal with this situation.  (And I very much doubt that his upcoming Afghanistan speech will change that fact.)

I promised you two, but I’ll give you three:  Is it any surprise that the UN is completely ignoring, not only the fact that a major CRU committed fraud, but the even more significant fact that this same group felt compelled to commit fraud?  You don’t commit fraud when the truth is on your side.  You commit it when you have to sell people on a lie or, at the very least, when you don’t believe in what you’re selling.

Results from the Thanksgiving edition of the Watcher’s Council

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor too much Thanksgiving turkey deterred the Watcher’s Council members from their responsibilities.  On Thursday, they dutifully dragged themselves away from the bounty on their tables and cast their votes.  The winners are:

Council Submissions

Non-Council Submissions

Also, here is an important message from the Watcher (or the acting Watcher right now, JoshuaPundit):

We currently have a seat open for a qualified blogger on the Council up for grabs. If you’re interested, you may apply here…or e-mail me at rmill2k@msn.com for details.

And remember, If you want to see your blog piece listed on the Watcher’s Council page our generous offer of link whorage remains open. Here’s how you take advantage of it:

  • Simply make a post linking to this week’s Council winners
  • Send me an e-mail with the subject line ‘link whorage’ at rmill2k@msn.com. Include a link to that post and a link to the piece you want to showcase on next week’s Watcher’s Council page
  • The resulting fame, glory and increased traffic are yours for the taking.
  • Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home. *UPDATED*

    My in-laws are wonderful people, and they always make us so welcome when we visit there.  Nevertheless, I’m a homebody, and the part of a trip I always love best is the homecoming.  I’m home now, doing laundry, unpacking, feeding people, etc., and am pretty darn happy.

    Blogging will resume tomorrow.  Until it does, though, I want to tell you about something new — and something I’m very excited to be a part of.  Lucianne has launched a new site called Blogs Lucianne Loves.  There, a crew of bloggers can post links and short summaries of their favorite posts for the day.  I think you will find this to be a delightful resource, with constantly updated posts containing news of the minute, as well as musings on many of today’s big topics.  Be sure to check it out.

    Also, I want to recommend to you two articles.  The first is from the Anchoress, who has been thinking long and hard about that bizarre story regarding gate crashers at a White House bash.  She believes that there is a whole lot more there than meets the eye.

    The other is from AJ Strata, who argues convincingly that there really hasn’t been any warming of late.  On that subject, you should know that I spoke this weekend with an extremely reputable scientist who has seen the hard data on the ocean levels.  It turns out that thousands of measurements using the most sophisticated tools prove that the oceans are rising — at the rate of 3 mm per year.  That means that, contrary to Gore’s dire predictions of world-wide rising waters causing a second Flood of Biblical proportions, the average rise is 1 inch per decade.

    UPDATE:  And Melissa Clouthier has word that the man who massacred four police officers in Washington state was on the streets because, almost ten years ago, in the face of great protest, then-Governor Mike Huckabee pardoned him.  This should end any hopes Huckabee has for higher office, and I think that’s a good thing.  Huckabee may be a social conservative, but he’s a big-government, fiscal liberal, and he would crowd the candidate marketplace in the wrong way if he had a chance in 2012.

    UPDATE II:  I realized after I wrote the above that it sounded awful that my first comment about the murdered officers had to do with political calculations.  The thing is that I learned about the officers when I was away from my blog, but learned about Huckabee when I was sitting at my computer.  That’s why I wrote about Huckabee.  I do want to say here that I was horrified and deeply saddened to learn about the shooting.  My thoughts and best wishes go to the officer’s families, friends and colleagues.

    Exercising my Second Amendment rights

    Twenty years ago, if you had offered me the opportunity to fire a gun, I would have recoiled in absolute horror and read you the riot act.  I can still recite my standard factoids from memory, although I’m too lazy now to string them together into a coherent narrative:

    Guns are dangerous.  They kill people.  America is the most violent country in the world and it has the most guns.  Look at England and Sweden.  They have far fewer murders per capita than America does (although I have to add here, in 2009, that when I was making this argument England did not have gun laws as stringent as it does now, and it even then had a very violent knife culture).  Most gun crimes occur in a moment of passion because there is a gun in the home and someone grabs it.  Children can’t stay away from guns and will invariably kill each other or themselves if they stumble across one.  And the Second Amendment is all about militias, and individuals who have guns aren’t forming formal militias, they just want guns to kill people and innocent animals.

    I think I got everything there from the old standard riff.

    As with everything else in the last decade, my views about guns have changed substantially.  I understand now that, even if all of the above facts are true, the bigger issues surrounding the right to bear arms transcend — and offset — those concerns.  The biggest principle is that the right to bear arms is the hallmark of a free society.  It is no coincidence that, as my pro-gun brother-in-law always said, one of the first things the Nazis did when they came into power was legislate against private gun ownership.  Even though they understood that a rag tag band of citizens is probably of little immediate effect against a well-trained, well-supplied standing army, they also understood that armed, enraged citizens can engage in guerilla warfare that is sufficient to hold off even a formal military — especially if the military is comprised of troops who share the values of the armed citizenry.

    I also know now that, even if the government isn’t my enemy, it may not be at my side when the chips are down.  This won’t be from a lack of will, but from a lack of ability.  Hurricane Katrina vividly illustrated that, with the best will in the world, when all systems break down, law enforcement cannot be at your side and you are on your own.  In New Orleans, those communities that could boast that they were protected by Smith & Wesson were left alone by marauding bands of looters.  The same will hold true if, God forbid, there is another major terrorist attack against the United States, paralyzing government, and its ability to protect us both from terrorists and from fellow-citizens taking advantage of the anarchy that can occur in the wake of a major terrorist attack.

    I’ve also figured out over the years that similarly situated societies that have outlawed guns have much higher gun crime than those that haven’t.  Look at Texas and California for a nice side-by-side comparison of gun policies.  The former is much more gun friendly, but traditionally has had a lower per capita crime rate than California. And we all know that, when cities such as London or Washington, D.C., enacted complete gun bans, violent crime sky-rocketed.  These comparisons seem to lend complete credence to the saying that, “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”

    It’s an interesting question, though, whether banning guns really is a direct cause of the subsequent increase in crime.  Another one of my brothers-in-law, who is pro-gun, does not believe that there is a direct cause-and-effect relationship between crime and outlawing guns. He points out that, in Los Angeles, most of the gun crime involves gangs.  In those cases, both sides are armed.  The combatents are young men who are not at all deterred by the fact that the house or car they are targeting contains equally well-armed combatents.  In the tribal cultures they’ve created in the ghettoes, warfare is normative, and the other side’s weapons are not a deterrent.  This means that, for these young men, it is irrelevant whether a homeowner has arms.  They’ll break in anyway.  And they’ll shoot regardless.  Gun control or not, these guys shoot to kill.

    Thinking about it, I believe my brother-in-law has a poi nt. Gun control laws alone are probably not the direct cause of an increase in crime.  But how about this:  Is it possible that the same democratic societies that voluntarily enact gun control laws (as opposed to totalitarian dictatorships that disarm their citizenry for power purposes) are societies that have already broken down at other levels?  When you look at cities or that have outlawed or severely limited access to guns, they are also cities or states that have embraced welfare, that are hostile to self-reliance and traditional Judeo-Christian morality, that are “soft on crime,” that oppose capital punishment, that have high rates of out-of-wedlock pregnancies, and that generally have fallen into moral disrepair.  Outlawing guns is part of a package deal of social decay — and social decay invariably brings with it rising crime rates.  In other words, gun rights are the canary in the coal mine, giving one a fairly good reading of a society’s level of freedom and morality, without actually having a direct causative effect on either one of those things.

    All of which brings me back to the start of this post.  I mentioned that, in the old days, I would have reacted in horror to an offer to fire a gun.  On Thursday, however, when yet another brother-in-law (I seem to have a lot of them) offered to take me to a firing range to try out his revolver (357 Magnum) and his rifle (I have no idea what kind), I jumped at the chance.  Yesterday morning, therefore, saw me at the Angeles Shooting Range, just outside of L.A.

    I have to admit to being quite intimidated.  I’ve never been next to a gun in my life (except for museum pieces, and those were behind glass), and suddenly I find myself surrounded by dozens and dozens of people armed to the teeth.  Even with hearing protecting, my ears were ringing.  I was instantly impressed, though, by how well-organized the shooting range was, and how respectful the customers were of the rules — which makes sense, since the rules were so obviously for everyone’s benefit.

    My bro-in-law first had me fire the revolver.  I did exactly what he said:  After carefully loading the gun, I got into a balanced stance, held the gun in both hands. extended my arms, and looked down the sites to aim the gun.  My hands were shaking, but I took a deep breath, held it for a second, and fired.  I was surprised by the kick.  When I’m working on the bag at the dojo, and I punch it, the push-back I get from the bag is pretty much equivalent to the energy of the punch.  With the gun, though, a teeny movement of my finger caused the gun to rear up in my hands.  It was disconcerting, because it seemed to defy physics.  (And yes, I know that every time I get into a car, I defy physics, but that’s such an integral part of life I no longer think about it.)  Most magical of all, though, was the fact that a hole appeared in the piece of paper that was hanging some thirty or so feet away.  I ended up firing about 21 shots, and all of them hit the paper.  Here’s the result of my first ever attempt to fire a gun:

    photo(2)

    (My brother-in-law, by the way, hit the bulls eye on his target.)

    After using up all the revolver ammo we bought, my brother-in-law and I headed over to the rifle range.  This was much more difficult for me.  The weapon felt awkward (which the revolver didn’t), I kept being worried that I’d manage to break my jaw with the recoil, and I couldn’t see the target very well.  Or rather, I could see the target but, because I couldn’t see whether I hit the target, I wasn’t able to correct my form from one shot to the next.  Here are the results of my first outing with a rifle:

    photo(3)

    It’s a bad photo, so it doesn’t show that I hit the paper in the white area several times,but it still gives a pretty good idea of the difficulties I had with the rifle.  Still, I don’t regret firing it, and would certainly do so again.

    As my long-time readers know, I’ve been talking since Hurricane Katrina about learning how to shoot.  Somehow, though, I couldn’t seem to get myself going, no doubt due to some lingering liberal procrastination, coupled with the fear of going alone to do something entirely different.  Now, though, thanks to my bro-in-law’s help, I’ve taken that first step, and will try again, with pleasure.  I enjoyed the experience a great deal.  Ialso came away with a much greater respect for the gun, both as a weapon, and as a source of sportsmanlike pleasure.

    Fight fiercely, Military, fight, fight fight!

    In the “better late than never” category, I discovered a few days ago that my local conservative radio station, KSFO, maintains a rolling archive of all the shows they’ve aired over the preceding seven days.  This means that, finally, I can listen to Rush, whose radio show normally comes along at the world’s most inconvenient time for me.  Today, while I took the dog for her morning walk, I plugged into my iPhone and listened to Hour 2 of Rush’s November 24 show.  The focus during the part I heard was the fact that the four Navy SEALS who brought in one of the Fallujah murders are being court-martialed for giving the guy a fat lip in the field of battle, when he resisted capture.  This prosecution, of course, will encourage the armed forces either to avoid capturing anyone or to kill all captures so that the prisoners can’t later cry “rape” (or the battlefield equivalent).

    That’s the obvious stuff, though, and you all know it.  What interested me on Rush’s show was the call from an ex-SEAL with close ties in that community.  This caller claimed that scuttlebutt has it that this whole prosecution is payback for the fact that, when the SEALS rescued the captain off of Somalia a few months ago, they ended up using more force than the administration authorized.  This wasn’t surprising, because the administration essentially authorized no force at all, which pretty much defeats the whole purpose of a military engagement, whether overt or covert.  By going after these four SEALS now, the powers that be in the administration are making it clear that the concept of a military is fine with the administration, as long as it doesn’t actually do anything.

    I could waffle on about this sad state of affairs, but I know you guys are all ahead of me on it.  I will say, though, that this practically and morally bereft attitude is not surprising coming from this Ivy League administration.  Back in the late 1950s/early 1950s, Tom Lehrer, himself an Ivy League product and professor, took a look at Harvard’s elite sensibilities, and wrote the perfect fight song:  “Fight fiercely, Harvard!”  Tell me if he wasn’t prescient in that our entire effete, Leftist administration now wants to fight war the same way:

    Fight fiercely, Harvard, fight, fight, fight
    Demonstrate to them our skill
    Albeit they possess the might
    Nonetheless we have the will
    How we shall celebrate our victory
    We shall invite the whole team up for tea, how jolly
    Hurl that spheroid down the field
    And fight, fight, fight

    Fight fiercely, Harvard, Fight, fight, fight
    Impress them with our prowess, do
    Oh, fellows, do not let the Crimson down
    Be of stout heart and true
    Come on, chaps, fight for Harvard’s glorious name
    Won’t it be peachy if we win the game, oh, goody
    Let’s try not to injure them
    But fight, fight, fight – Let’s not be rough, though
    Fight, fight, fight – And do fight fiercely
    Fight, fight, fight

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    I think it says something about the American character that the quintessential American holiday is one that sees us gathering with family and friends to give things for the many blessings in our lives.  I know that I certainly have a lot to be thankful for.  In my personal life, I’m blessed with a loving family, good friends (including all the wonderful friends I’ve met through my blog), a comfortable home, good health, more than enough food, and activities I enjoy.

    On a larger scale, although I find the political scene depressing, good things are happening there too.  Conservatives have been shaken from their complacency and are making changes.  Andrew Brietbart and two 20 somethings have practically destroyed ACORN, a handful of hackers exposed the great sham of man-made global warming, the activists on the Nobel Prize Committee finally made people realize that the award is a joke, and our President and our Congress, who could have proceeded slowly and with great stealth, were so overcome by hubris that they may finally have overplayed the Leftist hand.

    In the political world, we still have many, many travails facing us.  Overplayed hand or not, the Democrats can inflict massive amounts of damage both at home and abroad.  The fact remains, though, that we, as Americans, are finally understanding what’s happening.  And just as normally complacent conservatives are on the move, I do believe that the even more complacent apolitical American middle will rise up and reassert those core values that still live in the American soul.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

    pilgrims

    On the road again

    I’m going to be in travel mode all day today, as we head off to spend Thanksgiving with the in-laws.  (And one of the first things for which I give thanks every year is just how much I like my in-laws.  Imagine how grim the annual holiday would be if I didn’t.)

    This trip means blogging will be spotty, at best.  Please use this as an open thread.

    Also, if you want some good stuff to read, I can highly recommend this week’s Watcher’s Council nominations:

    Council Submissions

    Non-Council Submissions

    Weird day — very weird day — and one that has left me with questions

    This has definitely not been a bad day.  It’s ranged from irritating, to neutral, to quite good — but none of it has included time at the computer.  I’m now heading off for the post-school carpool circuit, after which I treat myself to the pleasure of a neighborhood mom’s night out.  So, let me leave you with some questions I’ve been wondering about.

    On Thursday, in a weird way, should we be thankful for Obama and the Democrats, because their hubris has seen them rip off the lovey-dovey mask of “we want to help you” liberalism to reveal the savage socialism, and personal corruption, hiding behind it?  Alternatively, do you think that Americans are seeing the truth too late to make a helpful difference?  Another alternative question, of course, is whether you think the average American has yet seen the truth?

    Do you think the hacked emails exposing the fraud powering significant segments of the man-made global warming debate will change the debate, or do you think that, between the juggernaut of political and business momentum, not to mention true believers in the media, the information will vanish from the public view?

    Do you think there will be a mistrial in the KSM trial?  I currently think the defense attorneys will do anything to avoid a mistrial.  I think they’re lusting after a full trial during which they can try the U.S. for waterboarding.  One of my conservative friends thinks exactly the same.

    Do you think that, if the KSM trial goes forward, and if KSM mounts his defense by attacking American foreign policy and waterboarding, the lumpen mass of hitherto apolitical Americans will became galvanized by the trial?  And, if so, will they be more hostile to the past Bush administration or to the current Obama administration?

    Do you think Joe Lieberman can derail the health care plan?  Alternative question:  do you think the Democrats in the Senate can force through some sort of a health care bill before the end of 2009?

    I would love to hear your opinion on these issues.  As you can tell, they all concern things about which I blog, and that obviously interest and concern me.  Your input matters.

    Global warming a hoax from start to finish?

    I think we’re all agreed that global warming alarmists have used fraud, blackmail, and blackballing to advance their global warming agenda.  The liberal media, if it acknowledges these tactics, is saying that they were simply over aggressive, but that the underlying facts remain true.  AJ Strata, however, begs to differ.  In a heavily scientific post (i.e., facts, not just specious conclusions), he argues that there is no global warming at all, easily explaining the need for fraud, blackmail and blackballing.  See what you think, here.

    Some liberals admit the $1.8 trillion health care takeover will not provide universal insurance

    Liberals are very gung-ho for a health care bill that will see the government take over 1/6 of the American economy, that will dramatically raise taxes, that will (if all goes according to plan) destroy private sector insurance, that will force Americans to “buy” insurance or pay a penalty, that will force all Americans to fund abortions whether they believe abortions are murder or not,* that will not exclude illegal immigrants, and that will cost an estimated $1.8 trillion dollars over the next decade.  The justification for this economically back-breaking, totalitarian approach to health care is that the care will be universal.  Everyone in America will finally, at long last, be covered.  Except that they won’t.

    You see, even liberals are admitting that this draconian, unbelievably expensive, revolutionary step towards socialism and away from the liberty that has long characterized America will not accomplish its stated goal, or at least it won’t at any time in the near future:

    Health experts say it would be great if national health reform legislation would render San Francisco’s groundbreaking health program unnecessary – but they don’t see that happening anytime soon.

    None of the bills under consideration in Congress promises to cover everyone living in the United States, leaving some people without coverage. Those include new immigrants who can’t afford coverage but are not yet eligible for public programs, low-income people who wouldn’t qualify for subsidies, and illegal immigrants.

    These are among the groups of people who have health coverage under Healthy San Francisco.

    [snip]

    With Healthy San Francisco, which began in July 2007, San Francisco became the first city in the country to guarantee basic health services for its uninsured residents. Eligibility is not based on immigration, employment or health status.

    Now covering some 43,000 San Franciscans, it is paid for by a combination of state and city money, patient co-payments and fees from employers who don’t provide health insurance for their workers.

    [snip]

    The proposals in the House and Senate include expansions to the Medicaid program, particularly for low-income childless adults who currently don’t qualify for Medicaid.

    But “depending on which proposal gets passed, there are still going to be a significant number of people who won’t be insured,” said Jean Fraser, former chief executive officer of the San Francisco Health Plan who is now in charge of the San Mateo County Health System.

    Even if a federal law requires people to have health care, illegal immigrants won’t be included and some people will choose not to purchase it or won’t be able to afford coverage.

    These include people who may find it cheaper to pay a fee or fine than buy health insurance, said Lucien Wulsin Jr., director of the Insure the Uninsured Project in Santa Monica. He added that some may seek and receive hardship waivers, exempting them from the mandate.

    Read the rest here.

    In other words, no matter which $1.8 trillion plan is passed, and no matter how much our taxes are raised, and no matter how many working Americans are forced at gunpoint to buy a product they don’t want, there still won’t be universal insurance.  Even worse, if I read the above correctly, the Progressives in San Francisco are planning on making sure that gainfully employed San Francisco residents get stuck with a treble socialized medicine burden:  they will have to pay for it at the federal, state and local level.  Which leaves one wondering how many gainfully employed San Francisco residents will still exist in the hear future.

    ____________________________

    *I have to add here that my understanding is that the House bill removed the abortion funding provision, while the Senate bill has it prominantly displayed.  I believe that, if both houses of Congress finally pass a health care bill, abortion will be included, either directly or indirectly.

    In SF Bay Area, stimulous creates 7 jobs at a cost of $16,142,857 per job — sort of

    The Chronicle was always first in line for the Obama slobber fest, but the bloom is apparently wearing off of that well-drooled upon rose too.  Today, the Chron has a front page story vigorously attack the myriad accounting errors on the administration’s boastful website about its economic chops:

    Nine months after President Obama promised that his $789 billion stimulus package would be the most transparent spending bill in history, much of the information available to the public for the Bay Area and the rest of the nation is incomplete or inaccurate.

    The White House’s Recovery Act Web site – www.recovery.gov – shows that $660 million has been awarded to Bay Area transportation projects to create 997 jobs, which amounts to a staggering $661,986 per job.

    Last week, the site showed that California Congressional Districts 00 and 99 received millions of dollars in stimulus funding even though neither district exists.

    The Bay Area’s total also included $1.8 million to purchase buses in Duluth, Minn., which the federal Web site pinpointed with a dot just below San Leandro, and $4.8 million for road work in Laredo – which is in Texas.

    [snip]

    A month ago, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger traveled to the White House and stood beside Vice President Joe Biden as Biden proclaimed that the stimulus had created 110,000 jobs in the state.

    But it would take hundreds of clicks on the interactive map to verify the claim, and even then there is no accounting for the quality or duration of the jobs.

    [snip]

    However, a $65 million BART “tunnel hardening” project and a $48 million grant to the Santa Clara County Transportation Authority have so far created only seven jobs. State officials said that is probably because the money has been awarded but not yet spent.

    Overall, the White House claims the stimulus is creating far more jobs than it had expected. The initial estimate was that 396,000 jobs would be created in California. The White House says 110,000 jobs have already been created although only a fraction of the stimulus dollars have yet to reach the state.

    Job numbers are squishy, and there is disagreement over what should count. The White House counts not only new jobs but also those that might otherwise have been lost. They also include short-term employment in their totals.

    Read the rest here.

    Apropos the highlighted language above, I’m no math whiz, but I’m calculating that this means the American taxpayers are on the hook for $16,142,857 per job over the last nine months.

    I’m not a fool, and I’m not being intentionally naive here.  I appreciate that, as the article itself says, the jobs may yet be created because the projects are still theoretical, not real.  I’m also willing to concede that the projects may be good ones, and that people currently employed may have stayed employed as a result of the project awards.  Nevertheless, the fact remains that Obama promised us that his stimulous would immediately save and create jobs.  The key was immediate relief, not long-term relief.  And yet here we are with $113 million promised — meaning $113 million ear marked in the public coffers and needing to be paid for by taxes — AND NO JOBS.

    This is a perfect paradigm of the problem with government works programs.  They are too slow.  Had Obama taken a leaf out of Bush’s 2001 tax refund plan, and instantly gotten money into the hands of American citizens, people would quickly have created jobs.  The market is enormously responsive; the government is not.  All we get are higher taxes, more government control — AND NO JOBS.

    Use Thanksgiving week to let your Senators know what you think about health care

    A message from William Kristol, one that I’ve already put into effect as to my own Senators (much good it will do, of course, as they’re Feinstein and Boxer):

    I gather Rasmussen will report today that its latest survey shows support for the Congressional health reform legislation falling to a new low — 38 percent favor, 56 percent oppose. The lowest support level prior to now has been 41 percent.

    The polling data will have an effect. But it needs to be supplemented by citizen activism. Senators are especially responsive to their constituents in their home states. Senators are home this week for Thanksgiving break. If you live in Nebraska, Louisiana, Arkansas, or Connecticut — but also Florida, Maine, Colorado, and elsewhere (quiet nervousness by Senators can have an effect along with public opposition) — or if you have friends, relatives, and colleagues in those states, you and they might want to weigh in on this tax-and-spend-and-Medicare-cutting monstrosity.

    In my letter to my Senators, I focused on the fiscal issues, which I think are a more useful sales pitch for ultra liberal Senators than anything else. (And I’m not the only one thinking that; h/t Sweetness & Light.)  They don’t care about quality medical care, they don’t care about socialized medicine, they desperately want abortion to be fully paid for — but they do know that their party can be destroyed quickly if they destroy the American economy. And while they may not care about the American economy either, they care about the Democratic party’s long-term prospects.

    Steve Martin has a Tim Geithner premonition back in 1977

    Yes, it is old news now that Tim Geithner and a whole lot of other Obama officials forgot to pay their taxes.  Nevertheless, when I heard this monologue that Steve Martin did on Saturday Night Live back in 1977, I just had to include it here.  It’s perfect:

    You . . . can be a millionaire . . . and never pay taxes! You can be a millionaire . . . and never pay taxes! You say.. “Steve.. how can I be a millionaire . . . and never pay taxes?” First . . . get a million dollars. Now . . . you say, “Steve.. what do I say to the tax man when he comes to my door and says, ‘You . . . have never paid taxes’?” Two simple words. Two simple words in the English language: “I forgot!” How many times do we let ourselves get into terrible situations because we don’t say “I forgot”? Let’s say you’re on trial for armed robbery. You say to the judge, “I forgot armed robbery was illegal.” Let’s suppose he says back to you, “You have committed a foul crime. you have stolen hundreds and thousands of dollars from people at random, and you say, ‘I forgot’?” Two simple words: Excuuuuuse me!!”

    Considering that most of our current administration officials are my age, give or take a few years, and therefore came of age during Martin’s comedic ascendency in the 1970s, I suspect they learned their lessons well.

    The New York Times suddenly discovers the virtue of discretion

    From The Weekly Standard:

    With the release of hundreds of emails by scientists advocates of global warming showing obvious and entirely inappropriate collusion by the authors — including attempts to suppress dissent, to punish journals that publish peer-reviewed studies casting doubt on global warming, and to manipulate data to bolster their own arguments — even the New York Times is forced to concede that “the documents will undoubtedly raise questions about the quality of research on some specific questions and the actions of some scientists.” But apparently the paper’s environmental blog, Dot Earth, is taking a pass on publishing any of the documents and emails that are now circulating. Andrew Revkin, the author of that blog, writes,

    The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won’t be posted here.

    This is the position of the New York Times when given the chance to publish sensitive information that might hinder the liberal agenda. Of course, when the choice is between publishing classified information that might endanger the lives of U.S. troops in the field or intelligence programs vital to national security, that information is published without hesitation by the nation’s paper of record. But in this case — the documents were “never intended for the public eye,” so the New York Times will take a pass. I guess that policy wasn’t in place when Neil Sheehan was working at the paper.

    (Read the rest here.)

    My thoughts exactly.

    Being a contrarian and NOT buying (or being) green *UPDATED*

    Am I the only one who has had it up to here and more with the relentless imperative that I buy green?  I have this incredible urge to pollute and waste.  I do not like being bullied, and I am being bullied.

    When I’m at the store, surrounded by all the little soldiers staggering under the weight of their reusable bags, I ask for paper and plastic.  After all, you never know which of those bags might rip.  The irony is that, if the store told me that its costs would be lower if I brought my own bags, and that it would then pass that savings on to me, I might be inclined for my own economic benefit to bring in reusable bags.  The green thing, however, sends me careening in the other direction.

    When I’m at Whole Foods, which requires a PhD in garbage just to figure out which bin is meant for your particular piece of garbage (paper, plastic, compost, compost with paper, petroleum based, etc.) I throw everything into the lone generic “trash” bin.  No more sorting for me, baby!

    I just got invited to one of those neighborhood parties where a friend hosts someone intent on selling goods.  In this case, the goods are handbags.  I might have been interested (handbags, after all, are useful), if the invitation hadn’t stressed that everything was recycled, recyclable, sustainable, organic, and had received Al Gore’s personal seal of approval.  (I made the last one up, but everything else was right there on the invitation.)  I said no.  I’m planning on going to Target tomorrow and buying something cheap, big and PLASTIC.

    This is entirely separate from the fact that I have long believed that the whole climate change thing is a giant hoax, meant to destroy the American economy and elevate Al Gore’s (and his friend’s) wealth and status.  The fact that it turns out the climate change people haven’t believe in it either, and have been using fraud, blackmail, bullying, and lies to perpetrate and perpetuate the hoax is just proof of what was already obvious to me, given the identity of those who scream about the whole human created global warming scam.

    My green hostility is also separate from the huge element, not of class warfare, but of wealth warfare here.  It is no coincidence that some of the most hysterical greenies (Gore, Tom Friedman, the whole Hollywood crowd) also live the most lavish, ostentatious, un-green life-styles.  These nouveau riche nothings want to make sure that the rest of us don’t get too close in terms of lifestyle and purchasing power.  If we do, there’s nothing else to distinguish these otherwise indistinguishable human beings from the rest of us peons.

    As I said, though, my rant today is separate from socialism, class warfare and Al Gore-fare.  Instead, it relates solely to my innate resistance to panic and pushiness.  Don’t start screaming fire in my crowded theater and then try to heard me to an exit that’s just going to lead me off a cliff.

    So pardon me while I go run some water, turn on some lights, throw some plastic bags and bottles into the garbage can, and run an unnecessary errand in my gas guzzling van.  I feel the need to make a stand.

    As Kermit lamented in the era before environmentalism became a moral imperative and apocalyptic movement, “It’s not that easy being green.”

    UPDATE:  I should probably add here that, like most of my readers, I’m not normally a wasteful person (aside from the occasional anti-green temper tantrum).  My conservation efforts, though, come about, not because of green bullying, because I like to conserve my wealth and because I hate to fund Wahabbi-ism.

    UPDATE II:  I’m going to clarify my prior update, because I want it to be clear that I’m not advocating profligate use of resources or rampant pollution.  There’s nothing wrong with conservatives being environmentally aware, whether because they’re cheap, or because they hate waste, or because they believe that humans are stewards for the earth, or because they hate funding Saudis, or for any number of reasons.  Those who know me know that I’m frugal to the point of being a cheapskate, and that I live a very low impact life for a middle class suburban person.

    I’m just sick to death, however, of the apocalyptic moralizing and bullying, and the frenetic, hysterical tone that characterizes the discourse about respecting the earth’s resources.  As you can imagine, all of those negative influences reach a high pitch on a routine basis in Marin and, on those days when the din is too loud, I go and commit acts of waste as a form of civil disobedience.

    Let not your heart be troubled by today’s Senate vote

    Bryon York puts it in perspective:

    The extraordinary thing about the dramatic events surrounding the health care bill in the Senate is that there is any drama in it at all. Lawmakers are simply voting to begin debate on their version of health care reform. Just begin debate — not end it, and not move on to a final vote.

    If Democrats, with a 60-vote majority in the Senate, were not able to begin debate on the top Democratic policy priority in a generation — well, that would be a devastating turn of events, both for the party and for President Obama. And yet just starting debate has proved difficult, and only today did the 60th Democratic vote fall in place in favor of beginning the process.

    I asked a high-ranking Republican Senate source whether it was really that hard to get the Democratic votes together. Could it have been a media-fed story, with reporters looking to inject some unwarranted drama into the proceedings? No, I was told. “It really was that hard for them to get to 60 just to proceed,” the source said. “Very telling.”

    And judging by the statements of four moderate Democrats — Lieberman, Lincoln, Landrieu, and Nelson — it will be far, far harder when the process comes to the really important vote, the one that would bring debate to a close debate and move on to an up-or-down vote on the Democrats’ health care plan. Today all four of those Democrats publicly threatened to side with Republicans and kill the bill before it can move to a final vote, unless their concerns are met.

    Read the rest here.