Sunday morning open thread and book post

Today wasn’t a bad day (at all), but it was a very, very tiring day.  I meant to post this afternoon, but I simply dropped in my tracks when I got home.  If I get a break from family tomorrow, I’ll be back in business.  Until then, here’s a post that’s both an Open Thread and an opportunity for you to tell me what you’re reading.

To start the book theme off, I’m reading Frank: The Voice.  It’s well written, but Frank Sinatra is a difficult personality and it’s actually hard to read more than a chapter or so at a sitting.  It doesn’t help that, try as I will, I simply don’t “get” Sinatra.  I adore music from his era, but I don’t adore him.

Watcher’s Council results for 4/29/11

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t flattered by this week’s results:

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

Totalitarian revolutions always end up eating their own *UPDATED*

One of the hallmarks of the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the Nazi Revolution (because, although the ballot was used in 1932, it was a revolution), the Hussein Iraq takeover (which was also a form of revolution), and other totalitarian takeovers is that the paranoid leadership style inherent in totalitarianism invariably means that the revolution starts to eat its own.  At a certain point, the person or cabal that scrabbles to power starts fearing the people who created that leadership position, and sets out to destroy them.

Sadie alerted me to the fact that the Obama Administration, which has worked a sea change in government, is beginning to turn against the journalists that put it there.  The story I’m thinking of today is that of Carla Marinucci, a San Francisco Chronicle political reporter.  Both she and the newspaper have been in Obama’s corner from the beginning, and are consistently hostile to (and often, at least through omission) dishonest about Obama’s opponents, both at high political levels and at the grass roots level.

Mere sycophancy, however, isn’t good enough for the new regime.  Keeping in mind the dictum that “I made you and I can break you,” the regime is doing a bit of purging:

The hip, transparent and social media-loving Obama administration is showing its analog roots. And maybe even some hypocrisy highlights.

White House officials have banished one of the best political reporters in the country from the approved pool of journalists covering presidential visits to the Bay Area for using now-standard multimedia tools to gather the news.

The Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci – who, like many contemporary reporters, has a phone with video capabilities on her at all times – pulled out a small video camera last week and shot some protesters interrupting an Obama fundraiser at the St. Regis Hotel.

She was part of a “print pool” – a limited number of journalists at an event who represent their bigger hoard colleagues – which White House press officials still refer to quaintly as “pen and pad” reporting.

But that’s a pretty Flintstones concept of journalism for an administration that presents itself as the Jetsons. Video is every bit a part of any journalist’s tool kit these days as a functioning pen that doesn’t leak through your pocket.

[snip]

The President and his staffers deftly used social media like Twitter and Facebook in his election campaign and continue to extol the virtues and value. Except, apparently, when it comes to the press.

So what’s up with the White House? We can’t say because neither Press Secretary Jay Carney nor anyone from his staff would speak on the record.

Other sources confirmed that Carla was vanquished, including Chronicle editor Ward Bushee, who said he was “informed that Carla was removed as a pool reporter.” Which shouldn’t be a secret in any case because it’s a fact that affects the newsgathering of our largest regional paper (and sfgate)and how local citizens get their information.

What’s worse: more than a few journalists familiar with this story are aware of some implied threats from the White House of additional and wider punishment if Carla’s spanking became public. Really? That’s a heavy hand usually reserved for places other than the land of the free.

The folks at the Chronicle are very surprised.  I’m not.  I saw this coming a long time ago and suspect (although I’m too lazy to check right now) that I blogged on precisely this same point at some time in the past.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

UPDATE:  Check out Ed Driscoll’s much more complete post on the subject.

The Bookworm Turns : A Secret Conservative in Liberal Land,
available in e-format for $4.99 at Amazon or Smashwords.

Watcher’s Council submissions this week

As always, good stuff:

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Is it a forgery? *UPDATED*

Gateway Pundit has amassed a fair amount of evidence that the birth certificate is a manipulated document.

If the information Gateway Pundit has collected is correct, it seems to be a peculiarly inartfully done forgery.  Within minutes of looking at the document, people familiar with pdfs and Photoshop and illustrator programs were able to unmask various layers that would not exist in a straight scan, but that would exist in a document that had data added, deleted or moved around.

Which leads to the big question:  Why?  Why would Obama do a cheesy forgery?

Thomas Lifson thinks, and I agree, that this is another Obama head fake.  He’ll let people froth themselves into a frenzy, and then produce an actual hard copy that comports in all particulars with this manipulated pdf.  No one will remember that he produced a forged (or manipulated) document in the first instance.  Instead, the media will play up the fact that Obama’s opponents are racist, paranoid loonies, as evidenced by the fact that they doubted a document that was, in fact, the real deal.

I want to address here jj’s point that the birth certificate, fake or not, shows conclusively that Obama, even though born in the U.S., was not a citizen insofar as the Constitution demanded.  The reason was that, at the time Obama was born, his father’s alien status and his mother’s immaturity meant he did not rank as “natural born citizen.”  Technically speaking, jj is absolutely right.  But there isn’t a snowball’s chance in Hell that any court, let alone the Supreme Court, is going to let a legal technicality stand in the way of the fact that a purportedly true long form birth certificate shows that the man was born on American soil.  I’m therefore not going to let myself get emotionally invested in that argument, correct though it may be.

UPDATE:  I Own The World weighs in on the crude document manipulation involved.  Again, it’s the crudity more than the forgery that’s interesting.  It’s impossible to believe that the Obama crew cannot do better.  That they didn’t is deliberate.  We’re being played, although sometimes one has to play out a hand regardless of a known set-up.

(Please note that, per I Own The World, which refers, without a link, to NRO, some of the anomalies can be explained by running the original PDF through an optical character recognition mode.  That explanation, however, does not explain all anomalies, which just deepens the mystery.)

UPDATE II:  Fascinating video:

Honest to God, I feel as if I’m being gaslighted, but I don’t know by whom (Obama or the Birthers).  I’m disinclined to trust the Obama crowd but, if the Birthers really are monomaniacs, I’m scared to be sucked into their delusion.

The two things, though, that we know with certainty are that Obama lies often and is a lousy, lousy president.

Free speech, in all its glorious ugliness

Barry Rubin sounds a tocsin at Pajamas Media about the way in which political correctness is slowly but steadily eroding free speech in America, leaving us to speech norms more commonly seen in repressive Middle Eastern countries.  As he explains, there’s a reason “the authors of the American Constitution forbade limits on freedom of speech:  because once you start creating off-limit areas the worst thing that happens is the empowerment of people who have a self-interest in setting and misusing these limits. They can administer these no-go zones by declaring anything they don’t like to be a hate crime.”

Since our Founders were brilliant enough to enact the First Amendment, which prevents the Left from using official channels to shut down opponent’s speech, the Left has latched onto social norms as a way of stifling political discourse:

What is needed is a foolproof tactic, one to which there is no institutionalized opposition so that even your enemies must bow their heads in shame and knees in homage when called names.

So how has the Middle Eastern approach revolutionized Western discourse? What slogans are potent enough to shut people up instantly?

Racism! Homophobia! Islamophobia! And to a lesser extent, perhaps, Sexism! The minute you are accused of racism you are finished. There’s no effective response.

[snip]

Thus, freedom of speech, rational discussion, and opposition are trumped by “higher values.” The most basic and long-held principles are quickly jettisoned in fear. Newspapers accept censorship, intellectuals embrace telling lies, and women’s rights groups cheer the suppression of women’s rights in Muslim societies. Those who have spent years fantasizing how they would have been heroic resistance fighters against dictatorship fold, trembling, in the face of a single letter of complaint.

I urge you to read Barry’s entire article.  Then, when you’re done, check out Zombie’s illustrated post about a most unusual Easter celebration in San Francisco.  (And before you get your hackles up in the wrong direction, read the whole thing).  SERIOUS CONTENT WARNING.  DO NOT READ ZOMBIE’S POST IN THE PRESENCE OF CHILDREN.  THINK CAREFULLY ABOUT OPENING IT AT THE WORKPLACE, TOO.

I agree with Zombie’s attitude, by the way.  The behavior you see is deeply offensive to some (indeed, I would that it’s deeply offensive to most decent, moral and honorable people), but that’s what happens in a pluralist society that values speech, no matter how ugly, over censorship.

Both freedom of religion and freedom of speech involve the freedom to ridicule religion and speech.  We can handle ugly.  What we cannot handle is the end of free and open political and social debate.  Once we give in to that, the great American experiment is definitively over.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

The Bookworm Turns : A Secret Conservative in Liberal Land,
available in e-format for $4.99 at Amazon or Smashwords.

The fraudulent health care metric underlying Obama Care

ObamaCare represents an effort to bring America in line with European and other socialized health care systems.  The sales pitch is now, and has always been, that “studies” show that the other, socialized, systems are “better” than the American system.  The crown jewel of these “studies” is a 2000 World Health Organization analysis ranking systems.  Intuitively, I knew it was wrong.  I’ve lived in a socialized medicine country and I have family and friends who also live under such systems.  The systems offer the bare minimum to everyone.  They fiddle with their infant mortality statistics.  If people have the money, they come to America for treatment.

In the recent edition of Commentary Magazine, Scott Atlas actually looks at that World Health Organization study and discovers precisely why these horrible systems got such high rankings:  WHO’s people weren’t interested in medical outcomes, they were only interested in the number of people who had access to something very loosely called “medical care.”  You have to read the article, which is now available for free.  If you read nothing else today, this week or even this year, read this article — and then send it to everyone you know, twice.

The Birth Certificate — a totally innocuous document

The birth certificate is completely innocuous.  Best guess:  Obama was playing conservatives, trying to make them sound like nutjobs.

Trump is now going after the college transcripts.  Are they going to show a straight A student?

UPDATE:  Andrea Shea King argues that the birth certificate is irrelevant, because the real issue is now, and always has been, Obama’s father’s nationality at the time of his birth.  Since his Dad was African and his mother a minor, this still means Obama is not a U.S. citizen.  That is technically correct, but I suspect it won’t fly with most American people.  To them, the bottom line is that he was born in the U.S.A.  The technicalities of a father’s nationality, which is more of an interpretative thing than a constitutional one (because, remember, the early presidents all had British born parents) means that the issue is now dead in the water.

In any event, with the Court’s having shut the door on the “minor mother/non-American father” issue a long time ago, there is, simply, nowhere to go with this one.

Harvard Magazine and the Left’s Andrew Sullivan love affair

Speaking of Harvard, I just got a gander at Harvard Magazine, which has a smugly grinning Andrew Sullivan on the cover, as the exemplar of “The New Media.”  I thought the article would be about bloggers generally, but the table of contents tells me I’m wrong:  “World’s Best Blogger?” it asks.  It then explains that the article is about “Andrew Sullivan, fiscal conservative [huh?] and social liberal, navigates the changing media landscape.”  Turn to the article itself, and the caption says:  “World’s Best Blogger?  Andrew Sullivan’s views are predictable in only one way:  always stimulating.”

To give you an inkling of the level of research that goes into this type of sycophancy — sycophancy that’s mailed on a regular basis to all Harvard grads — get a load of this exchange between one reader of the article (which is on the internet) and the article’s author, Jesse Kornbluth.  First, the reader comment:

Andrew Sullivan didn’t engage in partisan speculation (or, for that matter, ascribe partisan blame) after the Tuscon shootings?? Really??

What world are you living in??

Perhaps it is the same one Sullivan is living in, there one where he still believes that Sarah Palin faked her pregnancy.

The guy is one step short of wearing tin foil on his head. If that’s your criteria for world’s best blogger, then you’ve made a very good choice. Just ask yourself this question: If Andrew Sullivan were as “relentless” in asking Barack Obama for HIS birth certificate, would you still consider him the blogger of the year?

Yeah, didn’t think so. (nor should you; but I guess it’s OK, because his utter lunacy is directed at someone you both mutually hate).

Second, Jesse Kornbluth’s polite, but utterly clueless, reply:

As the author of the piece, I could respond better to these charges if you’d cite some specifics. Namely: could you provide a link to Sullivan’s Tuscon coverage in which he points a finger at a group or person who directed the shooter? And, in regard to Governor Palin, could you provide a link to a passage in the Dish where Sullivan makes the claim that she’s not Trig’s mother? Many thanks. JK

In about one second, any doofus can summon up myriad posts Sullivan did about Palin and Trig, or can find conservative comments castigating him for his lunatic monomania.  Here are a bazillion such links.  The same holds true for Sullivan’s hysterical screeds about Tucson.  But someone who wrote an entire article about Sullivan for the glossy Harvard Magazine was not only unable to find evidence of his quixotic little obsessions in the first place, but also was either unable to do so (or couldn’t be bothered to do so) in the second instance, when someone brought those facts to his attention.  You’d think that a Harvard grad (Class of ’68) could do better than that.

Andrew Sullivan is a bright guy.  He’s also one of the people I credit with helping me cross the Rubicon from political Left to political Right.  I was a New Republic subscriber for years.  When he took over as editor, his editorials were so ludicrous and hysterical, I started getting jaundiced with the magazine and ended up being open to new influences.  (Same holds true for Paul Krugman, whose anti-Bush hysteria leeched out any credibility from his writings, again sending me looking for more intelligence in political and economic commentary.)  I have reason, therefore, to be grateful to Sullivan.  But to laud the guy as a great thinker — he’s simply not.  And for someone to write a whole laudatory article about the man without being aware of one of his overriding political passions (that his, his obsession with the identity of Trig’s birth mother) or of his ill-informed, partisan, post-Tucson rants, reveals lazy thinking, lazy research and lazy writing — which, sadly, is about all I expect from a lot of Harvard’s brand nowadays.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

The Bookworm Turns : A Secret Conservative in Liberal Land,
available in e-format for $4.99 at Amazon or Smashwords.

Attending Harvard Law doesn’t make Obama a genius

Regular readers know that I have fussed for years about Obama’s much vaunted intelligence.  I’ve agreed that he has a feral, manipulative intelligence, but I’ve challenged the whole brilliant scholar thing.

It’s not just the missing grades (which one assumes are missing because they’re embarrassing).  It’s also the horrible way he expresses himself when he’s off of the teleprompter, the wooden writing when he doesn’t have Bill Ayers at his back, and the repeated gaffes when he reveals that he does not have a well-furnished mind.  Who can forget his repeated references to “corpse” men, his throwaway remark about the Austrian language in Austria (“uh, that would be German, Sir”) and his recent comment that LBJ’s home state, Texas has been historically Republican.  The man is an ignoramus.

I was never impressed by the whole Harvard shtick.  First of all, with all due respect to the many brilliant, competent, delightful Harvard Law grads out there, my experience here on the West Coast with Harvard Law grads hasn’t been so good.

The “more than few but less than many” Harvard grads with whom I’ve worked or against whom I’ve litigated have been — sorry! — unimpressive specimens.  They’ve certainly had the arrogance one would expect from someone graduating from a premier law school, but they lacked the concrete skills:  poor work ethics, small fund of legal knowledge and bad writing were only the beginning.  The ones I got to know were also just peculiar human beings, with more than their share of foibles (personality disorders, alcoholism and drug use topped the lists).

Incidentally, all of the Harvard grads I knew were white.  They weren’t at Harvard because of affirmative action.  How they got in, I don’t know, because, with their emergence into the legal world, Harvard was sending to the Left Coast some poor representatives of Harvard’s vaunted wonderfulness.  After more than twenty-years in the field, I’d always prefer to have at my back someone from a solid second tier school (Baylor, Hastings, Santa Clara, etc.) than an Ivy League grad.

My practical experiences with Harvard grads didn’t surprise me.  When I attended a premier public, not private, law school at roughly the same time Obama was gracing Harvard’s halls, many lawyers who worked at huge, well-paying, reputable firms told me that they hired Ivy League grads for the cachet, not because they were any good.

The lawyers’ complaints were always the same:  the Ivy Leagues had done away with reliable grading, either because of massive grade inflation or because they’d switched to a pass/fail system.  This meant that all the Ivy League (plus the Boalt) graduates they interviewed presented themselves as top-of-the-class brilliant people.  From the lawyers’ perspective, though, hiring one of them was like buying a pig in a poke.  One assumed they were smart because they got into the cachet school in the first place, but it was fatal to assume that they had the knowledge, skills or attitude necessary to become a good lawyer.  If you were lucky, you hired someone wonderful; if you weren’t, you could still boast that your firm was a draw to Ivy League lawyers.

Now that Obama’s past is no longer untouchable, people are revisiting his law school experience.  As Ace shows, even absent actual grades, one can figure out a lot of things about Obama’s law school performance.

Using a variety of sources, Ace explains that, when Obama attended Harvard, neither grades nor Law Review were done anonymously.  At my law school, our tests didn’t have our names, just random numbers, so the professors graded based solely on the test.  Law Review admission was based upon those same blind grades or upon an essay that was submitted anonymously.  Again, no favoritism based upon anything but the work’s quality.

At Harvard, the professors’ implicit social goals aimed at advancing people of color or the Law Review’s explicit set-aside of spaces for blacks meant, sadly, that the blacks just didn’t have to be as good as the whites.  And unless one is driven, why be better than the bare minimum?  As for the magna designation beside his degree, it turns out that about half the Harvard class was magna.  Garrison Keillor must have been thinking of Harvard when he spoke of a place in which “all of the children are above average.”

Based on available evidence, Ace puts Obama’s IQ at 116.  It’s above average, but not by much.  Unlike me (a little boast here), Mensa he’s not.  Genius, he’s not.  Brilliant, he’s not.

Being a Mensa qualifier, being a genius or even being brilliant doesn’t necessarily mean being a good president.  I know a lot of people who are too smart for their own good, and who get lost in trees without ever realizing, as a less intellectually convoluted person might, that those trees are part of a forest.  With Obama, however, we, the American people, were sold a bill of goods.  Our watch dog Fourth estate promised us that Obama was the most brilliant American since Einstein (and yes, I know that Einstein wasn’t American, but I wonder if our boy genius in the White House knows that).  This is untrue.  As Obama daily reveals, he’s just your ordinary above-average guy who knows how to run a con.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

The Bookworm Turns : A Secret Conservative in Liberal Land,
available in e-format for $4.99 at Amazon or Smashwords.

Respecting my biorhythms — and other rhythms too

I don’t know why, but inspiration used to strike me in the morning, right after I’d done my daily rounds of newspapers and blog sites.  Now, though, that information seems to need to percolate for a while, and inspiration strikes in the afternoon or early evenings.  I’m sorry for that change, but my brain is resistant to any attempt to force a.m. creativity.

On a completely different note, but following on a point I made in an earlier blog post about my liking for “transformative fiction,” I have finally discovered Dancing With The Stars.  Yes, I know it’s been around for years, but I tend to be pretty disconnected from television, which is my husband’s domain.

Thanks to Hulu, though, I’ve slowly been working my way through Season 5, which happens to be the first season available.  Aside from liking ballroom dancing (I did grow up transfixed by old musicals, after all); and aside from thinking that the professional dancers, both male and female, are just gorgeous to watch; and aside from thinking that the studio band does a really good job with the music, all things considered, what I really love to see is reasonably well-known people dropped in a totally strange environment — and surviving.

Yes, old dogs can learn new tricks.  Yes, people can take the risk of appearing foolish in front of tens, hundreds, thousands or millions, and then end up not looking foolish at all.  Yes, we all have some inner grace and joie de vivre that can be teased out of us.  This show is the antidote to my mid-life crisis which was, as you recall, the sense that my youthful dreams are all over, and that this is it.  Apparently, at least when it comes to ballroom dancing (or, in my case, that still elusive martial arts black belt), this is not yet it.

By the way, if your biorhythm is telling you that this is the perfect time and place for an Open Thread, go for it.

Trying to figure out why I like the military

You all know that I like the American military.  It really doesn’t make sense, given that I’m a petite woman raised in a pretty darn Left -wing Jewish environment in San Francisco during the 1960s and 1970s (i.e., the Vietnam and post-Vietnam era).   My daughter made me realize, however, that my interest in and admiration for our military isn’t anything new.

Although she’s still far too young fro college, my daughter is starting to think about.  She therefore asked me, “Where did you want to go to college, Mommy?”  (She knows that, tho’ I attended Berkeley for economic reasons, I truly and deeply hated the place.)  I thought a minute and realized that, of all the college materials I reviewed when I was in high school, the only one that really called to me was . . . are you ready for this? . . . West Point.

I thought West Point sounded wonderful.  It looked lovely, and so well-ordered.  I liked the sense of purpose and the deep discipline.  I realized quickly, though, that I didn’t have what it takes.  I’m extremely small and extremely nearsighted, which made the physical requirements intimidating, if not impossible.  Add to that a public-school bred inability to do math and science, and the clingy personality of a child raised by one concentration camp survivor and one Nazi refugee/”RAF in North Africa combat” survivor, and you’ve got someone who wouldn’t have lasted one day (or, at least, didn’t think she would, which came out to the same result in the end).

Running against upbringing and type, though, I always thought that the military was a good thing, especially for young men.  We live in an increasingly feminized culture.  Part of this is simply due to industrialization and technology. You don’t have to run around with a gun and spear, outracing animals and other hunters, to feed your family.  Men, like women, sit and drive most of the time in our modern world.  However, we also live in a feminized culture in that, as I’ve said before, male virtues are consistently regarded as vices.  Boys are forced to be less physical, to be more emotional, and to view themselves as dangerous predators.  The positive spin of being strong, manly, and living to protect the small and weak is gone.  It’s all “boys are bad” stuff around here.

I’ve already bored you with stories of the young men I know who have found themselves in the military.  Adrift in a world that makes the wrong demands on them, and castigates their vices instead of encouraging their virtues, the military is a place where they can be men in the best possible sense of the world.  As someone who loves reading about transformative experiences (whether in fact or fiction), learning about young men who have been all that they could be is deeply satisfying to me.  (I actually call “transformative” fiction “getting it right” books, or movies.  Pride and Prejudice is one example, as two headstrong people figure it out.  Groundhog Day is another example, as a jerk becomes a mensch.)

If you want an example of someone who didn’t have to get it wrong before he got it right, read this 2009 article, about a young man whose commitment to the Marines transcended injuries and prosthetics.  (Believe it or not, this entire post, which I wrote from the heart, was a lead-in to this old article, which really amazed me.)

As always, if you want to support the military, considering joining the Navy League, “a non-profit organization dedicated to educating our citizens about the importance of sea power to U.S. national security and supporting the men and women of the sea services and their families.”  My feeling is that the more the American public knows about the American military, the more they will like, respect and support it, as I do.

Yes, a 3 inch lizard can collapse the Texas oil industry.

There’s a new bad guy in town in West Texas.  He’s called the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard.  He’s actually kind of cute, as lizards go.  He’s about three inches long, a nice tan color, and has a vaguely Winston Churchill-esque expression.  He seems harmless enough, but he comes packing a huge, powerful weapon:  the federal government.

It turns out that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is contemplating putting this little lizard on the endangered species list, not because he’s being hunted, but because his habitat might be threatened.  And what is his habitat:  Oil country.  Not just oil, but cattle and other agriculture too.  If the government goes forward with this plan, everything in little lizard’s neighborhood comes to a grinding halt:

“We are very concerned about the Fish and Wildlife Service listing,” said Ben Shepperd, president of the PBPA, noting the service also has proposed listing the Lesser Prairie Chicken next year. “The wolf at the door is the lizard; we’re concerned listing it would shut down drilling activity for a minimum of two years and as many as five years while the service determines what habitat is needed for the lizard. That means no drilling, no seismic surveys, no roads built, no electric lines.”

The move would impact activity in Andrews, Crane, Gaines, Ward and Winkler counties in Texas and Chaves, Eddy, Lea and Roosevelt counties in New Mexico.

Not only would the move impact oil and gas operations but agriculture, Shepperd noted, shutting down agricultural activities like grazing and farming — “anything that disturbs the habitat.” While the industry is perfectly willing to undertake conservation measures to protect the lizard’s habitat, he said, naming it an endangered species “would shut down activity and be devastating not only to Permian Basin economies but to the national economy. We are the one bright spot month after month; in our economic turnaround, the main driver is the oil and gas industry.”

As seems to be the case with these government fiats, the government is going off half-cocked:

The concern is, he said, that the Fish and Wildlife Service lacks enough data to conclude that the tiny lizard is endangered and is basing its action on flawed methodology. “They didn’t spend enough time looking for them or the right technique to find them,” he said.

In New Mexico, where the lizard can be found on both private and public lands, Shepperd said a number of companies have entered into voluntary agreements to help conserve the lizard’s habitat, mitigate threats to the lizard and remediate any damage while continuing to operate. He said he wants the same to happen in Texas. The association favors such joint agreements between the federal government and landowners to protect the lizard’s habitat while allowing drilling operations to continue responsibly.

When I ran this story by Don Quixote, he found it interesting, but suggested that it couldn’t happen, because the level of public outrage about shutting down drilling would make the decision suicidal.  I disagree.  Exhibit A is the spotted owl, up in northwestern logging country.  The logging community made a huge uproar, but the spotted owl won.  By 2000, thousands of acres of land that formerly provided wood to Americans and jobs to Oregonians were put out of play.  Much of the land was private property, so there was some serious government taking involved too.  The Clinton government survived.  Oregon continued to vote Democrat.

Exhibit B is the delta smelt, the protection of which has decimated large parts of California’s Central Valley.  The Central Valley used to be America’s bread basket.  If you drove down I-5 from the North Bay to L.A., once you got past the Altamont Pass and before you reached the grapevine, it was farm land and grazing land all the way.  Now, large parts of it look exactly like the Oklahoma dust bowl, circa 1930.  Both the Bush and the Obama government have survived this assault on America’s food supply.  California Democrats, comfortably sequestered in ultra urban Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, didn’t blink as the state’s agriculture infrastructure started to be destroyed.  Food prices have gone up, but they’ve stayed within tolerable levels.

Obama has already positioned himself with a narrative for rising oil prices, and it’s not the fact that he’s shut down Gulf oil drilling, or that he’s refusing to allow new drilling or even investigation into potential future drilling.  Instead, the prices are being driven by evil “speculators.”  Well, he’s right about the speculators.  If I had any market sechel (Yiddish for “smarts”), I’d be one too.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that, with the Middle East roiling with violent upheavals, and with the federal government trying to make drilling illegal, oil prices are going to go up and up and up.  The speculators are simply able to take advantage of the fact that, if demand remains roughly the same, but supplies diminish, prices go up.  Even a socialist president cannot change that reality.

As for the outrage –Americans are all out of outraged.  The Obama administration has attacked America’s economy and security and functionality at every single level.  As my teen says, “Whoa!  Too Much Information.”  Why contemplate the most recent administrative agency attack on America’s way of life, when you can watch American Idol or Oprah or whatever happens to be on ESPN?  As long as the economic and social fabric in your area looks as if it’s holding together, ignore the frays around the edges and the random holes in the middle.

I like animals.  I do not believe that humans can abuse and destroy them at will.  As I often say, we are stewards of this earth and of all its bounty.  But if we wish to survive, Mother Nature (or God, take your pick) mandates that, in any given environment, animals compete for resources.  Sometimes, one animal overdoes the competition, destroying other animals in the region.  Sometimes this is a disaster, as was the case with the protein deficit that led to Mayan cannibalism.  Sometimes, it doesn’t matter at all.  I’m sorry to say that, but it’s true.  The world ecosystem has survived without the wooly mammoth or the dodo.  The answer is balance.

The problem, always, is that government is a sledge hammer, when a ball peen would do.  It’s draconian power makes any situation unbalanced.  The oil men in New Mexico have worked with the Fish and Wildlife Department, and the oil men in Texas will too.  There is the potential for balance there, but that balance is not met by shutting down a whole region.

One can only hope that the Fish & Wildlife Service is playing a game of chicken in West Texas, hoping to bully the oil men into more accommodations than they’re currently willing to make.  But it was no game of chicken in Oregon nor in Central California, so I’ll be convinced that this is a negotiating tactic only when both sides reach an agreement.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

The Bookworm Turns : A Secret Conservative in Liberal Land,
available in e-format for $4.99 at Amazon or Smashwords.

Today, you can wade in my deepest thoughts without getting your ankles wet

My brain today is a clear, shallow pond, perhaps with a few fluttery goldfish drifting by (think Fantasia).  I’m trying have deep thoughts, but they’re eluding me.  I think the problem is that I spent chunks of my weekend alternately reviewing documents and trying to bulldoze my son into doing his 6th grade science project, with a little laundry thrown in on the side.  Between the one and the other, my brain got deleted.

I’m taking steps to remedy the problem.  In 30 minutes, I leave to have lunch with Don Quixote, which is always a scintillating and revitalizing experience.  If that doesn’t get some synapses firing, there may be no hope for me.

Until then — Yes, it’s Open Thread time.  Have at it, since I’m sure all of you are showing much more brain wave activity than I am.  Also, feel free to chime in with interesting book suggestions.  I always enjoy those.

Trending Right

One of the ways you stay ahead of the game in the blogosphere is by being creative and innovative.  John Hawkins (Right Wing News) and Doug Ross (Director Blue) got together and came up with an idea:  a website that scans tweets by conservatives and, every hour, finds and posts the most tweeted articles.  The new site is called Trending Right and is, I suspect, a coming force to be reckoned with.