Friday, November 21, 2014

Thank you, Ed Gillespie!

Thank you, Ed Gillespie, you win the prize which I have been saving for the person who brings up what my father always brings up whenever we get on the health care topic.

My plan begins by addressing an anachronistic aspect of the tax code that’s rooted in World War II wage and price controls. Those who get health insurance through their employer get a tax break, but those who purchase it on their own generally do not.

Most people don't know that this whole practice of paying for employees insurance came about as the result of employers not being allowed to pay people above a certain amount. No, we're not making this up.

The Emergency Stabilization Act was passed in October 1942, which placed wages and agricultural prices under control. There were immediate wage restrictions, and in order to attract labor, the employers offered a range of such fringe benefits as pensions, medical insurance, paid holidays, and vacations. Because the foregoing were not paid out in cash, they did not violate the wage ceiling. Controlling output proved easier than controlling wages.

And I can't say I dislike the tax credit numbers. My family would save $7,500.00 per year which would bring us down to pre-Obamacare premiums. Imagine that. Back to Eddie G., the man of the moment:

Obviously, enacting legislation along these lines will require a Republican president. That will be more likely if over the next two years the Republican majorities in Congress pave the intellectual way through hearings and committee reports for a positive Obamacare alternative that the Republican presidential nominee can take to the electorate.

Yes. Let's hope.

The proper Republican response to Obama's executive action on immigration

Even prior to yesterday's announcement by President Obama of the executive actions he will be authorizing with respect to illegal immigration there were a number of responses being bandied about. Impeach him; no, a porridge that's way too hot. Embargo his nominees: this one has a lot of traction, but is still on its face a tit-for-tat action. Pass funding bills piecemeal, each with a rider killing the amnesty attached; same tit-for-tat action. Workable, but it carries the same risk as the other of attaching the perfume of petulant Obama action to those involved.

No, when a dumb-ass charges you wildly, you aid him in his quest, stepping aside slightly, taking a grip useful to you both on him, and helpfully accelerating his skull into the wall behind you. As Pat Buchanan points out rather obviously,

But with this amnesty Obama takes custody of and responsibility for the entire illegal population. He is the patron saint of illegal aliens. And for what they do, he will be held accountable, as was Jimmy Carter for the Marielitos Castro sent and Carter welcomed.

Thus, the proper Republican response - Republicans which now control both houses of Congress - is this: well, alrighty then! Handled!

But-but-but...what about our "broken immigration system"? Oh, that. Sure.
The moment a new President is elected who understands and embraces the legislative process involving both the legislative and executive branches of government, one who understands what "faithfully execute" given law means, why, absolutely. We'll take another look at taking up immigration legislation then.

Until then, though, for the remainder of Obama's term, immigration is now and will continue to be "Obama's broken immigration system". Illegal immigrants who wanted more won't get it: sorry, see Obama. Communities whose resources may be more heavily consumed more openly now: sorry, see Obama.

Frankly, it's hard to see how Obama's actions of yesterday will change the actual status quo very much anyway, for anyone involved. Instead, in exchange for shooting a cynical wad pandering to, let's face it, mostly Hispanics, Obama has become the new prime mover of the entire issue. His only options remaining now are, or should be, to be left to live with what he has wrought or, if he's really stupid, for him to escalate further.

There's too much else to do on tax and regulatory reform for Republicans to spend any more time mired in Obama's Alinsky games, especially now that he has graciously assumed unilateral ownership of the issue.

Be generous, Republicans, be kind. Allow President Obama free and unfettered flight into the wall behind you.

What did ever happen to Bowe Bergdahl?

Richard Benedetto asks the question. Then he explains why we don't know: modern journalism sucks. Excerpt:

There was a time not so long ago when news editors kept what was known as a “tickler” file.  In it were reminders of certain issues, stories or personalities that needed to be updated and re-examined. In those days, Bergdahl’s name would have been high on the list.  With him out of the news since July, an editor might have said to a reporter, “Let’s find out what Bergdahl’s been doing down there in Texas for the past four months. What is his job? What does he do all day?  How do his fellow soldiers treat him?  Does he have friends?  Does he date?  Does he get any leave? Has he been home to visit his parents?”

The American public, and not just conservatives, would jump at a chance to read a story like that.
How does a reporter go about getting that story?  It’s not easy, but it is doable. It takes time, patience and a lot of shoe leather trying to find people who will talk and provide the information. That kind of reporting seems to be in dwindling supply in this New Media era where talking heads, bloggers and social media tweeters take precedence over the work of on-the-ground reporters. And the American public is all the poorer for it.

What did ever happen to Bowe Bergdahl?

There has got to be more to this story. The guy is a troublemaker and a coward by all accounts, and if he takes after his father, he's n weirdo as well. So why has he gotten such special treatment? My theory is that it has something to do with the fact that he and his father, Robert Bergdahl, are basically weak-willed numbskulls who are allowing themselves to be used as pawns by Islamists. Read this and tell me if you come to a different conclusion.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

What you be H8ing on?

Here's someone who got away with a hate (H8) speech on his/her vanity license plate. H8WNTR. But I'm not sure what he/she hates actually. Is it the penny stock WNTR or the Indianapolis Radio Station? There's also this guy who uses those letters as a Twitter handle, for some reason. But what this person actually hates remains a complete mystery to me.

I'm guessing it was the penny stock. Those things are risky, I'm telling you. Any other theories?

Man, I am not enjoying this cold weather.

Berkeley students dislike Israel, don't mind ISIS

Amazing but not surprising.

Ami Horowitz: I have always thought that there was no connection between intellect and wisdom. To put this theory to the test, I headed out to the University of California, Berkeley.

Students at Berkeley clearly have a lot of intellect; it is one of the most prestigious and selective universities in the country. But do they have wisdom? I went to the bucolic campus armed with a flag that represents the greatest evil known today, ISIS. If these are our best and brightest then we should all be afraid, very afraid.

The shocking video above unfortunately proves once and for all that there is in fact no connection between intellect and wisdom.

"I'm not the Emporer of the United States."

President Obama presents the case against the forthcoming unilateral amnesty declaration.

"We're also a nation of laws; that's part of our tradition."


Hat tip, Commentary.

Catching up with Caspar and Lonnie

In which we discover that Lonnie has the power of exorcism. You really need to read the whole thing, but here's an excerpt which I was going to comment on:

"Well, I think it started because old Pastor Moses didn't like that you started casting demons out of people. Besides preaching, you had the gift of exorcism. You were a demon buster. I remember one time especially. There came a young lady who had been dabbling in witchcraft for years. She had invited seven different spirits to inhabit her. At first they probably gave her clairvoyant abilities that astounded her friends. Demons always offer something to entice a human. It is not until later they started controlling and tormenting her, as demons always come to do. They always hate the people they inhabit. But somehow or another she came to the church one night. You don't recall it, Lonnie? When you told them to come out of her, at first they caused a big commotion. Exorcisms can be messy affairs and shocking to watch happen. But they finally popped out of her and couldn't reenter. They were ever so angry that they were forced to leave the poor woman. She was set free from their grip. Then they looked up at the ceiling and saw me clinging there, looking down at them. They were shocked to see that a gargoyle was guarding the place. I gave them a big raspberry, and they fled the scene."

This reminds me of a funny story told by a newly-ordained Oratorian priest. He was having dinner with a group of my friends circa 1997. Because we were all YUCIs (Young Urban Catholic Intellectuals) he was regaling us with funny Catholic stories. That is, stories about funny Catholics.

One was about a woman who always came up to him after he celebrated daily Mass to perform the important service of telling him what was wrong with the church architecture, or what was wrong with him, or how spiritual she herself was. One time she told him she had an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He decided to have the following conversation with her at that point.

"Did you spit at the apparition?" the priest inquired.

"Excuse me?" replied the spiritual lady, no doubt shocked that the young priest would suggest such a blasphemous act, not to mention being oblivious to the impressiveness of her revelation.

"I asked you if you had spit at the apparition. You see, if it truly was an apparition of Our Lady, spitting would not have harmed it. Whereas if the apparition were actually demonic in nature — as is sometimes the case — your spit would banish it immediately. That's why St. John told the early Christians to test the spirits. If it happens again, spit at it. You won't offend Our Lady; she'll know why you are doing it."

This exchange had the two intended effects. The primary effect was, of course, the instructing of the ignorant, one of the spiritual works of mercy. The other effect was that the woman never bothered him after Mass ever again.

No doubt this parting of two people with different spiritual offerings was a blessing for the Church. This is often the case, as in the story of the parting of Paul and Barnabas in Acts chapter 15. Father continued to celebrate Mass for the spiritual lady every day, and the spiritual lady no doubt begged Our Lord and every saint she knew like crazy for this priest's conversion. That's called a win-win. It's a big Church, and we all help each other get to Heaven.

Some Germaican Reggae For Ya

Hilarious. Lyrics.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Juan Williams Inadvertantly Predicted the Attacks on Bill Cosby

Juan Williams wrote this on August 19, 2014, ten days after the Michael Brown incident:

Ten years ago Bill Cosby gave a speech that fits today's racial troubles in Ferguson, Mo. "People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of poundcake," the now 77-year-old black comedian said at an NAACP event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision. "And then we all run out and we're outraged—'The cops shouldn't have shot him!' What the hell was he doing with the poundcake in his hand?"

The 18-year-old shot and killed on Aug. 9 by Ferguson police was not caught with poundcake. Michael Brown had shoplifted cigars from a convenience store. On Aug. 15, the police released a video of the theft and the 6-foot-4-inch, nearly 300-pound teen violently shoving, shaking and threatening the store clerk.

Mr. Cosby is not the only black person to ask about the troubling excuses that so many civil-rights leaders are making for criminal behavior. In 1993, Jesse Jackson told organizers in Chicago: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved."

Am I crazy to wonder if the impending Ferguson riots and the narrative that the left wants to promote has to do with a number of women suddenly remembering that Bill Cosby raped them?

This is how crazy people on the left, like Amanda Hess, see Bill Cosby.

Cosby’s modern activism takes the form of a conservatism that discounts rap and blames black men for their subjugation. If we see Cosby’s sexual-assault allegations as a relic of the past, it’s partly because we also see Cosby that way.

Now I know you're thinking "Well, Bill Cosby's is not really a conservative." Right, and I'll add that if he really was, he would have been character-assassinated long before now. But my theory is that the time is ripe for the left to destroy him before his now-canceled Netflix special gave him any more press spots where he could continue to contradict the established Ferguson narrative even more than he already has.

By the way, I'm not saying Cosby is innocent at all. But the timing of these revelations tell you everything you need to know about their objective. This media fire-storm has all the markings of a concerted effort to squelch free speech from someone known to make unpopular comments about the problems in the black community.

Localism Remains Laughable

I could call localism "loco" to take advantage of the alliterative effect, but I think it's more important to highlight the hilarity of its constructs. The latest essay we have from Gracy Olmstead in TAC once again proves the total irrelevance and complete lack of self-awareness of the localist movement.

You have to look at the title first, "Wendell Berry’s cure for partisanship", and ask yourself why we are suddenly hearing about partisanship in a negative way. Is it because a certain party won a bunch of election races? I'm not sure that partisanship is as bad as some people, i.e., the losers, make it out to be. At any rate partisanship is as American as apple pie, and that shouldn't be forgotten.

What is “localism”? It’s a vision of civic involvement and community that, at root, is summed up in one phrase: “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” As Katherine Dalton, a senior editor for the Front Porch Republic (FPR), puts it: “Our love of country is a very little, very local thing. You can’t love something or someone without knowing it well.”

I think we all agree with the second statement. Loving America doesn't mean loving 50 states in equal measure. I know more about Ohio and Pennsylvania than I do about Tennessee, so I love those states more. But her first statement, "Our love of country is a very little, very local thing," is one of those remarks that leaves me scratching my head as to the exact meaning. Certainly one can love America by taking care of the little plot of America which you own and treating with respect the Americans you run into each day. But perhaps more certainly, one can learn to love the Founding Fathers and the nation they framed through reading history and study even if one has never known them personally nor had the opportunity to visit Philadelphia or any one the other great American landmarks. They made your plot possible, after all.

I think these people suffer from a lack of "both/and" thinking, being rather stuck in the world of "either/or". Perhaps they are reacting to elite operatives in Washington who are the other side of that coin and dismiss them as "those people in flyover country." So their brand of politics is an over-reaction based on wounded pride. One gets the feeling that when they see, for example, a picture of an abortion protester holding a sign and shouting in Washington during the January march they cannot imagine that person visiting a sick person or attending a townhall meeting. But in my experience they are the same people more often than not.

“Knowledge of a place is multi-generational, passed down through families and communities,” says Jeff Polet, editor-in-chief of FPR and a professor at Hope College in Michigan. “In destroying regional community, we are asked to love a body”—that is, a country—“that has grown cold.” Simple things like cultivating relationships with local businesses are important politically, Mitchell says: good politics grow out of “civic friendships,” common affections that supersede rancorous partisanship. These foster a “political context” that is healthier and fuller than the “red-meat politics” we see on television.

Here's my main problem with the argument. The "red-meat politics" affects everyone in the country. You aren't going to be able to avoid the effects of Obamacare simply because you prefer local politics to national. Or name any of the other big, hot-button issues in the news: cap and trade, amnesty, how tough the US decides to fight terrorism, what policies the Federal Reserve enacts, etc. All of these things affect everyone in their communities wherever they are across the fruited plain.

Wendell Berry is an example of the way localists defy party structures and schismatic divides: he’s an outspoken environmentalist who often lambasts capitalists for their ruthless treatment of land and resources, yet he also upholds traditional family values and principles of conservation that are decidedly conservative.

Wait... what? Wendell Berry "upholds traditional family values"? I don't think so. Besides, it is pretty ridiculous to suggest that he angers people on the left. I will believe that when I see the evidence.

Rather than dealing in abstractions and global efforts, localism is about concrete realities and particular circumstances. [Wendell] Berry himself rarely leaves Kentucky: he’s grounded himself so fully in his farm and local community he doesn’t like to leave. His example answers the question of just what localism ought to be.

"[H]e’s grounded himself so fully in his farm and local community he doesn't like to leave." But it would be wrong to think that has always been the case. Wendell Berry is 80 years old so, and that enough to explain why he isn't traveling like he used to, except to ironically deliver lectures at prestigious national conferences as Ms. Olmstead mentions. Berry was quite the globe-trotter in his early days before settling down; this has always struck me as funny and ironic as I mention in that post.

This article is mischaracterizes Wendell Berry's true nature as being some sort of enigmatic non-partisan genius when he is actually a left-leaning environmentalist scold who made his money from a tobacco plantation. This article also makes dubious assertions about the political priorities of normal Americans in an attempt to portray one part of national politics as more important than the other parts. The use of the boogieman of partisanship right after the Republican sweep of a nationalized midterm election tips the ideological hand of this particular "Front Porcher", Gracy Olmstead. If this is the best she can do to attract people to the localist cause, I can describe it using the language of my kids: epic fail.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Senator Rand Paul Responds to Attacks in Israel

From his Senatorial website.

Nov 18, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sen. Rand Paul today issued the following statement in response to the brutal attack that took place in a Jerusalem synagogue, resulting in the death of three Americans:

"I am deeply saddened and alarmed by the attacks that took place early this morning in Israel. These men of faith were cruelly murdered as they were worshiping in their synagogue in Har Nof. I vow to Stand with Israel and I will continue to do all I can to protect Americans at home and abroad. This is a horrific act of violence that should be universally condemned. We must demand that Palestinian leaders stop the incitement, which they have committed in word and in deed. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Israel," Sen. Paul said.

Good. No crap about "calling on both sides" that we are used to hearing.

A Ghost in the Family

The ISSUU site has a new embed feature which I am using here so everyone can read the classic short story A Ghost in the Family by Rod Dreher.

I think this story can serve as a qualification which explains this comment from the other day. In it, Dreher claims to "revel in news about religion" to explain away his relentless Catholic-bashing noticed by commenter Chip. I would suggest that this statement needs to be qualified. It may not be true that Dreher only revels in bad news about the Catholic Church, but it is certainly true that he only revels in some news about religion. Other religious news which might be interesting to most religious people is entirely boring to Dreher and thus ignored. For example, I would have figured he'd have been all over this Eastern Clergy Can Marry Now story like white on rice, but he hasn't posted on it that I can see.

Here's the entire comment:

Chip says:
November 14, 2014 at 3:09 pm

Rod, am I wrong, or do you revel in bad news about the Catholic Church? I would say about 1 post a day is on that topic. Are you having a hard time letting go?

[NFR: You are wrong, and thin-skinned to boot. I revel in news about religion. The fast-changing religion demographics in Latin America is a huge story with global implications. Neither one is my church, so I don't have a dog in that fight. But the fact that you don't want to hear the news doesn't mean the news isn't there. Blaming the messenger is not a good strategy for dealing with reality. -- RD]

Chip's observation is the one we have made over and over again. The revelry is reserved for tales of paranormal activity or narratives which reinforce his own prejudices. In other words, the religious news stories which he likes best are ones which aim to stimulate the curiosity and not edify the soul.

Pope Francis on the Complementarity of Man and Woman

Here is the whole speech. Excerpt:

It is fitting that you have gathered here in this international colloquium to explore the complementarity of man and woman. This complementarity is a root of marriage and family. For the family grounded in marriage is the first school where we learn to appreciate our own and others' gifts, and where we begin to acquire the arts of cooperative living. For most of us, the family provides the principal place where we can aspire to greatness as we strive to realize our full capacity for virtue and charity. At the same time, as we know, families give rise to tensions: between egoism and altruism, reason and passion, immediate desires and long-range goals. But families also provide frameworks for resolving such tensions. This is important. When we speak of complementarity between man and woman in this context, let us not confuse that term with the simplistic idea that all the roles and relations of the two sexes are fixed in a single, static pattern. Complementarity will take many forms as each man and woman brings his or her distinctive contributions to their marriage and to the formation of their children -- his or her personal richness, personal charisma. Complementarity becomes a great wealth. It is not just a good thing but it is also beautiful.

We know that today marriage and the family are in crisis. We now live in a culture of the temporary, in which more and more people are simply giving up on marriage as a public commitment. This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom, but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.

Ferguson Protest Leader Has Car Stolen During “F*ck the Police” Rally

Too, too funny.

Elizabeth Vega is one of the Ferguson protest leaders. She protested at sports venues and attempted a banner drop. She co-led the St Louis Symphony interruption, was arrested at the pumpkin smashing, yelled at the St Louis Post Dispatch protest, and helped block traffic with her freakshow in Clayton yesterday.

While yelling “F*ck the Police!” apparently her car got stolen.
Do you think she’ll file a police report requesting they help her now?

Her tweets expressing anger that Nixon called a state of emergency in part due to the rising crime and criminal elements associated with the protests are interspersed with others decrying the car theft.

No justice? Well at least you get poetic justice.

It was probably a white person who did this. I mean, most of the pictures on the Grand Theft Auto game are of white people.

A question for all you math whizzes out there

My question is this: what race or racial mix will the next first black President of the United States be? I mean, OK, the first first black President was 100% white. (Yes, you are reading these sentences correctly.) Then the second first black President, Barack Obama, is actually not black but bi-racial, we are reminded.

So is the next first black President going to be 100% black or three quarters black? Or maybe some other mix entirely? Or maybe Indian? I'm of the mind that he or she will be 3/4 black, then we'll go 7/8, then 15/16, etc. and we will never get a 100% pure black man or woman as the President. What is this opinion based on? That's a good question, and I'll see if I can maybe come up with something, or maybe I'll ask some guy wearing a white sheet over his head.

Some people might be depressed when they realize that we might never get a prezzie with a perfect soul brother pedigree. But it's not really a big deal because no one is 100% white either. All us white folk have been mixed in with the descendants of Adam and Eve who were black. And that's a good thing, since the alternative is to be the evil creation of a crazy black Frankenstein named Yakub by using selective breeding and magnets.

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Will the Obama coalition vote for "a boring old white democrat"?

Noemie Emery cracks me up. Here's a great paragraph from a recent article or hers:

Obama’s declining share of the youth vote in 2012 already suggested that disillusionment had succeeded hope and change. Taking 2008 as the benchmark may have been a mistake, as it’s not every year Democrats come up with a hip, young, biracial messiah who hasn’t had time yet to screw up the country. Obama lost 3 million votes and several percentage points in his re-election. And the question of whether the Obama coalition will turn out for a boring old white Democrat is sure to be the operative one of 2016.

But wait, there's more:

There will also be a disconnect between the younger, browner and hipper Obama coalition and the candidates the Democrats will offer up — old, white, and dull. Beneath Obama are Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, both in their 70s. The Golden State is represented by Dianne Feinstein, 80, Barbara Boxer, 73, and Jerry Brown, who was a new face when elected the first time in 1974.

Well, we've known for some time that the democrats at the top really don't like people of color very much.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sheer brilliance, really

In the first and only comment so far to a post promoting Rod Dreher's forthcoming Dante book he offers us this insightful and useful NFR:

[NFR: Thanks James. I'm writing the book with the idea that most people who buy it will neither be familiar with Dante, nor will read Dante when they finish my book. If I've been completely successful, they *will* go out to buy the Commedia when they're done with my book, but I want it to be a book that can stand on its own. -- RD]

What an absolutely stunning coincidence!

It just so happens that I myself am in the process of writing a book about how the intricate processes in the hearts of stars caused me to look up at the night sky as a boy and wonder.

I'm writing the book with the idea that most people who buy it will neither be familiar with the intricate processes in the hearts of stars, nor will they read anything further about the actual intricate processes in the hearts of stars when they finish my book. That way, the number of people likely to call BS on what I have to say in passing about the intricate processes in the hearts of stars will be minimal and easy enough to dismiss with a few well-placed rhetorical flourishes. And, of course, the less about the intricate processes in the hearts of stars, the more room for about me.

In other words, I want it to be a book that can stand on its own, not dependent in the slightest about anything I may or may not actually know about the intricate processes in the hearts of stars, processes whose only value anyway was to inspire wonder in me as a small boy.

As you may have noticed, "the intricate processes in the hearts of stars" is what's known as a "hook", from the apocryphal use of long stick with a curved end used to yank credulous, gaping rubes inside a tent at a carnival in order to most efficiently separate them from their hard-earned money.

I had thought of using scantily clad, large-bosomed women as my hook instead, but I believe that's been done and I wanted to cut through the clutter, so I chose the intricate processes in the hearts of stars instead.

Maybe next time I'll use Dante.