Friday factoids (and Open Thread)

Victorian posy of pansiesI have lots of intelligent thoughts swirling in my head.  The problem is that they haven’t settled down and become coherent.  Mostly, I’m focused on an upcoming outing with my mother.

My mother is an inveterate shopper.  At almost 91, shopping isn’t just the main pleasure in her life, it’s her only pleasure.  Sometimes I take her (which is truly a test of my love because I hate shopping); sometimes a friend takes her; and sometimes (actually, weekly) she boards the bus at her managed care facility for an outing to her favorite store.

Her most recent solo outing, however, left her distraught.  I got a confused tale about lost receipts, switched-out clothing, purse-snatching sales clerks (although she still has her purse and everything in it), kissing sales ladies, and a general feeling that “something is wrong there.”  I’m sure something is wrong, but I’m not sure whether this mainstream, reputable store is having a management failure or if my mother’s mental capacity has suddenly diminished.  I suspect the latter, but am open to the former — so I’m taking Mom to the store today to see what’s going on.

Meanwhile, there’s interesting stuff out there.

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By now, I’m sure all of you have heard that Dinesh D’Souza was indicted for alleged campaign funding malfeasance to the tune of $20,000.  A couple of comments:  To the extent his lawyer is talking about innocent mistakes, my reading is that D’Souza almost certainly committed the act as charged.  And to the extent that a John Edwards’ friend did the same, and was only charged with a misdemeanor, the over-the-top attack on D’Souza is political revenge.  Check here for Maetenloch’s list of a long line of Mafia-style policing from the Obama administration against conservatives and here, at Gateway Pundit, for Chuck Schumer’s explicit call-out to the IRS to attack conservative groups (but not Organizing for America, of course, Obama’s political arm).

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Zombie has a shocking (no Casablanca-style irony here when I use that word) report about San Francisco’s decision to continue paying a pension to a former city employee convicted on felony charges for storing and sharing the most vile kind of child pornography.  In addition to the images on his computer, the official included excited comments on the photographs giving his enthusiastic support to violence inflicted on children as young as infants and toddlers.  He reserved special approval for situations involving black adults abusing children or black children being abused.  According to the City, his acts didn’t constitute “moral turpitude.”  To which one can only say, “Huh”?

As for a reason behind the Progressive City’s continued support for the felon, it might have something to do with the fact that he’s a gay rights advocate who spearheaded nationwide recognition for “domestic partnerships” and, ironically enough, campaigned vigorously against alleged discrimination against blacks at sex clubs.  In other words, despite his crimes, he’s still politically untouchable.

My comments should not be construed as a swipe at “domestic partnership” laws, which I think are a much better idea than gay marriage, a notion that risks a devastating clash with First Amendment religious rights.  Instead, they’re meant to attack a Progressive world view that forgives any sin provided that the person committing the sin has the right political credentials.  (Roman Polanski comes to mind as another example of this attitude.)

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How about, instead of talking about blacks as the sexual playthings of a disgusting human being, we talk about them as fully realized human beings who do what the rest of us do, which is making political and social choices based upon their life experiences?  If that’s how you view people of other races, religions, cultures, sexual orientations, etc., please read Lloyd Marcus’s article about his upbringing and journey to conservativism, all of which took place inside a home with a hard-working father, and some of which took place in a sparkly new housing project that swiftly devolved into a Hobbesian nightmare.

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If you ever get into an argument with a Leftist about anything — not just about politics, but about anything — you’ll notice one inevitable hallmark of their arguing style.  It’s always personal.  For example, a Leftist will say “That new HBO show Looking is really good.”  You’ll respond “I didn’t like it much.”  A non-Leftist might say, “Oh, that’s too bad.”  Or he might ask, “Why not?”  Or he could say, “But it’s a really good look at the ordinary life of ordinary gays, and is worth watching for that reason.”  But that’s not what a Leftist will say.  He’ll say, “You’re homophobic.”  Or he’ll say, “That’s because you’re too stupid/narrow minded/unreasonable/backwards to appreciate good television.”  It’s never about the show; it’s always about you.

Thomas Sowell has noticed this habit too, a habit that isn’t about the personal being political, but goes beyond that:  Everything is personal when a Leftist is involved — and you’re always the wrong or damaged or stupid or prejudiced or all-around evil person.  After looking at the roots of this practice and giving examples in both 20th and 21st century politics, Sowell, who is a humanist, offers a possible explanation:

The vision of the Left is not just a vision of the world. For many, it is also a vision of themselves — a very flattering vision of people trying to save the planet, rescue the exploited, create “social justice,” and otherwise be on the side of the angels. This is an exalting vision that few are ready to give up, or to risk on a roll of the dice, which is what submitting it to the test of factual evidence amounts to. Maybe that is why there are so many fact-free arguments on the left, whether on gun control, minimum wages, or innumerable other issues — and why they react so viscerally to those who challenge their vision.

I’m not a humanist.  My possible explanation is that Leftism is attractive to deeply insecure people who don’t have a solid sense of their own worth and values.  They latch onto a political ideology that spells out expressly what’s right and wrong, and that gives them permission to function as their own God-heads, casting nonbelievers into eternal damnation.  In other words, it’s a political ideology of, by, and for malignant narcissists.

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Speaking of Looking, a half-hour long HBO dramedy that looks at young gays in San Francisco, it turns out that audiences didn’t want to look.  We actually turned it off in the first 30 seconds of the first episode, when a character sneaked into the bushes to meet another man who attacked his zipper and headed (literally) for his crotch.  This is always going to be the problem with the gay lifestyle.  Even people who are not homophobic and believe that they are entitled to full civil rights really don’t want to know too much about the sexual excesses in which so many gay young men engage.

And while we’re on the subject of salacious productions, enjoy this video (which is extremely good satire, but is not safe for work).

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I don’t think the college bubble is going to burst in time to spare me the cost of sending my two upper-middle-class suburban kids to college.  But it will burst.  Two articles mark the way to bubble collapse.  The first, in The Atlantic, focuses on kids with big debts and no job prospects.  The second, in Forbes, gives voice to one person who thinks he made a smart decision to skip college.  I know that, in my neck of the words, more and more parents are encouraging those of their children who aren’t that academically oriented to look into working for a year or two before going to college or to get their first two years done at the local community college.

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At IBD, both Michael Ramirez and Andrew Malcolm examine Obama’s latest position in the war on terror:  trash-talking al Qaeda.  Neither is impressed.  Richard Baehr has a few compelling and pertinent thoughts on the subject too.

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Also at IBD, an editorial saying that the California drought is not a product of all-encompassing climate change, just as the Polar Vortex isn’t.  It’s happened repeatedly before, and it will happen repeatedly again.  Both are parts of earth’s ever-changing and completely natural cycle.  I hate the drought, but I’m not railing at evil corporate conglomerates.  And in any event, if I want to rail at evil conglomerates who pollute our world, I should yell at the Americans and Europeans who ship their dirty factories to China and at the Chinese fascist government that lets them.  (I’ve decided that China is no longer communist, since it has shifted to a market-based economy.  Instead, it’s now fascist, since the government continues to control the people and the ostensibly privately-owned marketplace.)

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It’s great to be the messiah.  Even as you drive the US economy into the ditch, you and your family enjoy the high life — and charge it to the demoralized, broke American people.  When Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette did that, they lost their heads.  Obama and Co., however, get away with it without even having a dent put on their halos.

A Facebook post that explains why Ryan’s pension cuts to the military were so craven

American military cemetery LuxembourgA friend tipped me off to a Facebook post that’s gone viral.  Practically within minutes of learning that, while Congress was doing nothing to stem the millions of dollars heading to illegal aliens, it would cut veterans’ benefits, Chuck Wooten, Chief Master Sargeant, USAF (ret.), got a fundraising letter from Paul Ryan.  Wooten took to Facebook to explain precisely why he wouldn’t be contributing any money to Ryan any time soon:

FB Friends,
I’m still mulling this Paul Ryan budget deal that stole money from every military retiree (past, present and future). This morning, upon opening my email, I noticed I had a letter from Congressman Paul Ryan…and it was begging me for an “emergency end of the year donation.” It only proves what we already know. The folks in Washington are indeed clueless. Instead of hitting the delete button, I decided to call Congressman Ryan out on his audacity and lack of self-awareness. I sent the following to him. I’m also posting it on the FB USAF Chiefs page as an open letter to the Congressman. If you’re a retiree, I will tell you we may have lost the battle, but not the war. If you’re inclined and find it worthy, let’s flood social media with this letter and see if we can get some traction. Thanks.

To Congressman Paul Ryan
Today at 8:19 AM
Congressman Ryan,

Please note that this request by you for a cash donation from me is extremely unfortunate and very ill-timed. You see sir, I am one of the military retirees your “bipartisan” budget just impacted. You and every Republican (both in the House and Senate that voted to pass this travesty betrayed and broke trust with me and everyone like me. You may not know us by name, but we’re the people, Congressman, who answered our Nation’s call, some of us at a very early age to willingly serve YOU and others LIKE YOU so you could safely attend college and pursue your personal ambitions without fear of harm.

You might also want to note that for at least 20 years, my brothers-in-arms answered that call of duty EVERY SINGLE DAY, without fail, without complaint, without enough money to sustain our loved ones we had to leave behind while we DID OUR JOB in every corner of the Earth. And for that service, we were given absolute assurance our so-called retirement benefits would be protected by law. The very law you shattered in your zeal to impress your Democratic cohorts in your back room deal–with the enemy. Yes, I said it. The liberal Democrats are an enemy to the American people and our Nation. Your lack of judgement and eagerness to compromise on the backs of us who protected you is sickening. Congressman, you and every Republican that voted for injuring military retirees have engaged in a complicit, sordid affair with the Democrats who’s objective has always been to dismantle the military. By climbing into their bed on this issue, you have confirmed you are absolutely no better than they and have proven it with your vote.

Congressman Ryan, the audacity which you display is noteworthy, but to unceremoniously snatch earned money from a small group that has added so much more value than the paltry $6B you looked to “save” (which is all smoke and mirrors and you know it), is reprehensible and insulting.

We have, despite the hardships, meager salaries and harsh conditions, have performed with honor and excellence…in silence, which is something most members of Congress have no idea about doing. Our job approval was, is and always be better than yours. We knew our mission and we got it done, then handed it off to a new generation in better shape than we found it.

Your ability to look us in the eye, take money from us (apparently there was ZERO, other source of waste within the federal government that you could have recovered this money from…right, got it), while simultaneously holding your hand out to beg (with passion) for our cash is stunning. Your actions have proven you do not have the tremendous intellect you’ve sold the American people on. I say, with all seriousness, Congressman, what you lack in intellect and spinal rigidity, you make up for in cajones.

I hope you and your cowardly, Republican “colleagues” hear a message from me loud and clear. You will NEVER receive another cent of financial support from me. Further, if you happen to be at a Capitol Hill dinner or at a K Street cocktail party with RNC Chair Reince Priebus, Rep. Ron Barber, Sen. Jeff Flake or Sen. John McCain, I would be honored if you communicate with them that I am launching an effort to ensure NONE of you traitorous “representatives of the people” ever receive another vote from a military retiree. Remove me from your contact lists.

Chuck Wooten,
Chief Master Sergeant, USAF (Ret)

That pretty much says it all. While I’m no fan of the overly generous pensions too many public employees get for doing jobs that the rest of us perform in the private sector without all the whoops, hollers, and excessive rewards, the military is sui generis. Our troops hold a unique position in which they promise to fight, bleed, and die on our behalf. Thankfully, most of them aren’t called upon to make these ultimate (or potentially ultimate) sacrifices, but the fact that their job description requires them to make such a promise means that they deserve something more upon retirement than the average white collar desk jockey gets.

A military man’s take on a budget that stiffs vets while enriching illegal aliens

Marines dismounting from an amphibious assault vehicleThe new budget cuts pensions for vets, including those who were wounded while serving this country, while continuing unchecked the flow of money to illegal aliens.  We’re not shocked, because we’ve learned that, no matter how low our government goes, give it a day and it can go even lower.  The absence of shock, though, doesn’t insulate us from anger and disappointment.  I got the following from a friend who serves and I think it pretty much says everything that needs to be said on the subject:

So I signed a contract with the govt outlining what exactly I would get in exchange for my lifetime of service. Now the govt gets to change the deal yet I am expected to continue to hold up my end of the bargain.

The same government who is complaining about military “entitlements” eating us alive has no issue extending unemployment benefits at the drop of a hat. They also feel someone who has chosen a life of dropping fries and flipping burgers deserves a “living wage.”

Illegal immigrants crossing into USIn the end, those who have chosen a life of service and actually have contributed to society get a pay cut while the leeches and those with their hand out contributing nothing get a reward.

Also, John McCain is a dick. I would expect more support from a POW. This is the height of hypocrisy considering his political career is based on his military service, specifically time spent as a POW.

This entire issue smacks of disloyalty and is particularly galling to those of us who have spent a lifetime of loyal and faithful service.