Monday, May 31, 2010

I Despair...

I should have seen this one coming.

Some outfit called "Balanced Education for Everyone", BEE for short, just presented to the Mesa County (Colorado) School Board a petition calling for a stop to "the teaching of global warming" in local schools. And this time they mean business.

Now BEE is a campaign launched by the Independent Women's Forum (IWF), which advocates: "...for parents to take control of their children's education, especially when it comes to alarmist global warming indoctrination." IWF by the way is the association of ultra, ultra conservative women who long for the days when real men could drag them by the hair back to a cave where they could get down to some serious servitude.

Oh my. Apparently the folks over at Balanced Ed have adopted the if-you-can't-lick-em-join-em strategy as plan B. If those nutty teachers persist in teaching all this global warming dreck, at least they ought to balance it out with some of BEE's dreck.

So lickity split they whip together a whole anti-global warming course, with study guides and everything. You can find the course, "Not Evil, Just Wrong", (based on a movie by the same name) at BEE's website. The course was written by one Lene Johansen, whose principal qualification appears to be that she hates Al Gore. Other than that, she "attended graduate school at The Missouri School of Journalism (no mention if she ever graduated) and "has a passion for science, economics and international development.".

Its kind of hard to really make sense of "Not Evil, Just Wrong", the course I mean, not the movie. In a nutshell, it looks like students will learn that a) polar bears aren't affected by climate change, b) climate scientists are lying to us and c) "renewable energy" is for sissies. For academic validation, the course was reviewed by a veritable constellation of, er, "experts", those being a professor of political science, two PhD's in medical entomology, and the highly impartial Patrick Michaels.

And it all makes a bizarre kind of sense. Especially if you watch the movie, which by all accounts goes beyond actual science and into the more reliable realm of political ideology.

Let's just say they put a little too much "sand in the cement" when the poured Ms Johansen's foundation and leave it at that.

BEE's petition, signed by 600 Mesa County Citizens was presented to the School Board by Rose Pugliese, who is billed as "a local lawyer and failed Republican candidate for the board of education...". During the meeting, a counter petition, signed by 700 citizens was also presented. Which helps explain why Rose lost.

On a serious note, BEE's probably going to lose this round. But one wonders, what if it won? Probably the most damaging result would be loss of respect for our institutions of science - by our kids no less, who would be little more than proxies in a fatuous game of politics.

Listen Steve, if you want to decide how to teach math to kids, you get a bunch of qualified mathematicians together and ask them what kids should learn. Then you get some qualified math teachers together and they will decide when and how this material should be delivered. Pretty simple I think.

But apparently you can't do this with some academic disciplines. Like climatology for example, the study of which, according to bubble heads like Lene Johansen and Rose Pugliese, turns a person into a lying, left wing activist.

Right down the road from Mesa are Colorado University and Colorado State. Colorado University maintains the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, which features available lesson plans for courses on atmospheric science and climate change for grades 3 through 12, put together by a staff of 60 qualified researchers and educators - and well over a hundred supporting staff. And by the way, the lesson plan for grade 9-12 has a segment titled "What effect does climate change have on wildlife?", which details, among other things, the effect of climate change on polar bears.

Mesa County kids would be taught that these people at Colorado University and the academic courses they have designed are all a pack of liars and lies.

Colorado State maintains CIRA - "The Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere" along with the NOAA. Take a moment to look through the faculty profiles at the CSU Department of Atmospheric Science. Its pretty amazing. I selected one at random: Takamitsu Ito is "only" an assistant professor, who earned his PhD in climate physics from MIT in 2005. His research interest is physical oceanography and he earned a "Postdoctoral Research Fellowship - Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and the Ocean program on Climate Change - 2004 - University of Washington". This is not to mention his list of other academic awards and lengthy list of peer reviewed papers.

Mesa County kids would be taught that Dr. Takamitsu Ito and all his fellow professors at Colorado State - people that is, who spent their lives studying and succeeding in the field of climatology, are all a bunch of liars. According that is, to journalism student Lene Johansen, whose "passion for science" apparently has no effect on her dislike of scientists. Maybe that's why she didn't become one.

Let's close this before I get too upset. I don't know what (conservative writer) John Derbyshire thinks of global warming. But in a lovey commentary on an unrelated subject, he said some things which I think are particularly appropriate here:

"Western civilization has many glories. There are the legacies of the ancients, in literature and thought. There are the late-medieval cathedrals, those huge miracles of stone, statuary, and spiritual devotion. There is painting, music, the orderly cityscapes of Renaissance Italy, the peaceful, self-governed townships of old New England and the Frontier, the steel marvels of the early industrial revolution, our parliaments and courts of law, our great universities with their spirit of restless inquiry...

And there is science, perhaps the greatest of all our achievements...

Our scientific theories are the crowning adornments of our civilization, towering monuments of intellectual effort, built from untold millions of hours of observation, measurement, classification, discussion, and deliberation...

And yes: When our greatest achievements are blamed for our greatest moral failures, that is a blood libel against Western civilization itself...

... Stand up for your civilization, man! and all its glories. The barbarians are at the gate, as they always have been. Come man the defenses with us, leaving the liars and fools to their lies and folly."


Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Cautionary Tale


Did you ever come across a news article which, like exquisite poetry, says a million things with only a few words?

I just did. And what the article says between the lines is a near sublime precis of political hypocrisy. I urge you to read "9th District candidate, majority leader deny bank's claims in loan dispute", then allow for a moment of silent meditation before I begin...

OK... ready now? Here goes.

Georgia state representative Tom Graves and state Senate majority leader Chip Rogers apparently went together and bought The Oglethorpe Inn - a "$129-a-week motel" in Calhoun, Georgia. In this connection, they formed an LLC corporation, "Tich Hospitality" and applied for a 2.2 million dollar loan. But the loan originator, The Bartow County Bank, required both Graves and Rogers to sign as individual guarantors. As you know, this is common practice in banking. And as you also know, this makes both of them separately liable for the loan repayment.

Well, now it looks like this little venture didn't quite pan out. The inn keeper, one John Edens, reports that the Oglethorpe Inn today is known as the "Methamphetamine 6 ... because of the drug addicts he says live there...". He goes on to say, "Chip and Tom made a bad decision to buy the building to begin with. This is an aging property. They thought it was better than it really was.”

Too bad. This I assume is the darker side of the entrepreneurial spirit. Yet in the grand tradition of personal accountability we expect from our elected leaders, Graves and Rogers are, er, trying to wiggle off the hook. You know I guess that's not really news anymore. Two well connected legislators go in halfsies on a pretty stupid investment, then try to weasel out with a bunch of cockamamie excuses. We could leave it at that - but let's see if there's a little more mirth and merriment in store for us underneath this rock.

For his part, Chip Rogers says, " ...he is not responsible for the debt because he is no longer involved with Tich Hospitality. Which doesn't matter in any case, because, " ...another company called Durrant Demarco now owns Tich Hospitality and the Oglethorpe Inn."

Huh? How'd that happen Chip? He explains, " "I am no longer a part of the corporation," Rogers said Thursday. "It is owned by somebody else. They still own the property. Of course, they have the liability and everything.”

John Edens goes on to confirm Chip's side of the story. He says, " ...he signed a contract with Rogers and Graves in November to transfer ownership of Tich Hospitality and the Oglethorpe Inn to his company, Durrant Demarco. Edens said he did not ask for a copy of the contract because he trusts Rogers."

Mighty trusting of Mr. Edens, don't you think? First, he takes over responsibility for a 2.2 million dollar loan for a business he himself says is a bad investment, then doesn't even ask for a copy of the contract. I wonder if he will ask for copies of the papers his relatives are drawing up to have him committed?

Now I think The Bartow County Bank could probably care less about the contract John Edens says he signed. After all, remember that Tom and Chip signed as personal guarantors. As a matter of fact, John Edens can take his imaginary contract and go pound sand for all they care. They just want their money back, which is sort of their depositor's money, which means it mostly belongs to the upstanding citizens (and voters) of Bartow County. Next cockamamie excuse please...

Before we get to Tom Graves, let's walk a little further down the street with John Edens. According to him, its mostly the bank's problem. He says, "I have called them about 10 times, maybe 15. I would love to make the loan current. They won’t even talk to me...". Now what do you think he was calling to tell them? Was it something like, "Hey, I'll be down there in about 20 minutes with the past due loan payments.", and they just refused to answer the phone? Earth to John Edens: the bank doesn't give a flying matzo ball if the Sultan of Dubai makes the payments. Wrap your head around this: They get their money - they don't sue Tom and Chip. Its as simple as that. Now over to you Tom...

Tom told the bank he can't make the loan payments because he's "insolvent". The bank's not buying that one either. As a matter of fact, the bank claims in its suit that Tom Graves only got to be insolvent because he transferred two of his properties into a trust fund. Tom's attorney clarifies: "Any transfers that were made by Mr. Graves were done completely within the confines of the law, consistent with estate planning and with no intent to defraud anyone at any time." He adds that "the properties Graves transferred were not used as collateral for the loan, (in any case).".

So the ka-ka just keeps getting deeper. Here we have Tom Graves - nice looking guy - married with three kids - thirtysomething... The dude's on the hook for a 2.2 million dollar loan, then suddenly wakes up and one day and decides to do a little estate planning. So he transfers his property out of his name, which by an incredible coincidence protects it from bank seizure.

Uh huh. But the whole thing's irrelevant anyway because the properties "were not used as collateral"?

Newsflash: when you sign a loan for 2.2 million, your assets, unless specifically exempted by the loan agreement, are collateral. When was the last time you filled out an application for a real estate loan of, oh, say a paltry couple of hundred thou, you weren't required to list all your assets? Do you think banks ask for this kind of disclosure because they want something to read in bed? And another cockamamie excuse goes down for the count.

Last but not least on the list of hair brained excuses is Tom and Chip's so called "counter claim". " In court papers, they allege the bank improperly declared the loan in default after reneging on a promise to refinance it at more favorable terms. The bank, Graves and Rogers said, failed to live up to a promise to convert it to an interest-only loan with a 2.5 percent interest rate." This of course is the same loan Chip says he doesn't owe and Tom says he can't pay anyway, no matter what the terms.

When I read this whopper I almost expected to turn around and see Rod Serling standing there, accompanied by that creepy intro music for the Twilight Zone. For Pete's sake, why on Earth would The Bartow County Bank re-finance a valid commercial loan to an interest only loan (and at a drop dead rate of two and a half points at that), for two guys - one of whom claims he doesn't owe it and the other who says he can't pay it? And what possible difference could it make if the bank ever even made such a ridiculous offer? "Boys, it sez right here on the contract you signed that you owe us 2.2 million plus interest. We thought we would try to make it easier on you, but now we've changed our minds. Pay up."

Sound harsh? You decide for yourself, but last time I checked, there aren't any laws on the books for letting you wiggle off the hook just because a bank demands you live up to the contract you signed originally.

Now I think we have enough material here to stop laughing and start thinking.

First off, 2.2 million bucks might be chump change to a man of your unlimited resources Steve, but to me its a Mount Everest of dough. And if for some reason The Bartow County Bank gets stuck holding the bag, its coming right out of their depositor's hides - which means ordinary schmoes like you and me. Which makes it all the more hysterical when you realize guys like Tom and Chip are always belly aching about government bank bail-outs - while at the same time doing the very thing which puts a local bank in the condition of needing one.

I mention the size of the loan because these guys aren't talking about just skipping out on the monthly grocery tab at the Piggly Wiggly. In some ways I feel for them. They made a bad investment and now not just them, but their families as well are in trouble financially. Lord knows I've been there before, and spent many a sleepless night worrying about how I would provide for my wife and kids. But that's not the point, is it?

Tom Graves and Chip Rogers have both been involved in the Tea Party Movement. You might just say the fundamental ideal behind this movement is to get government out of our lives and allow us the liberty to succeed or fail on our own.

Well, maybe the "or fail" part was deleted when Tom and Chip got the memo. You see Steve, liberty doesn't really mean much if all it requires of us is to reap the reward when we succeed - but not pay the penalty when we fail. And you and I both know that a two million plus loan doesn't just disappear like the prime rib at the Golden Corral on Sunday afternoon.

Backed into the same corner, Steve Green would sell everything he owns, including the shirt off his back, to pay off that loan. I'd like to think I would do the same. Now compare that with what we'll have to call "The Tom Graves Approach". Sure, he's a nice guy who probably doesn't deserve the kind of financial ruin he's headed for. But the true character of a man is measured by how he reacts to failure. Faced with the option of selling off his assets to pay down the loan he himself promised to repay, he chooses instead the shabby gimmick of hiding them in a trust. Would you have done that?

If there's anything noble in what the Tea Party Movement stands for, it has to be the acceptance of personal responsibility for the consequences of our actions. Is it too much to ask that we should expect the same thing from those we elect to govern us?


Friday, May 21, 2010



Sorry, I meant to comment on your last post but got side tracked by a wave of intense revulsion for camera hogs.

I've got a question for you about what you said which (I think) is going to require both of us to put on our thinking caps and see if we can get beyond philosophy and into practical solutions. I'll admit in advance I don't have an answer to this. Here's the deal:

The FDIC, an arm of the Federal Government insures bank deposits. A bank takes those deposits and invests them in risky ventures. Those investments go south and the bank then becomes insolvent. The Fed moves in, sells the bank assets and makes up the difference, in the form of deposit insurance payments, to the bank's depositors. What's wrong with this picture?

As you know, the FDIC was established during the Great Depression to restore depositor confidence and mitigate the effect of runs on banks, which were all too common at the time. Things have changed a little since then, but only in terms of scale. We now have fewer banks, but larger ones. And all of them, no matter what their size, have access to FDIC insurance, so long as they follow the rules.

Which brings up a crucial question. By guaranteeing bank deposits and not restricting risk, is the Federal Government in essence not just insuring against the loss by depositors, but also losses by the banks themselves?

In other words, is government saying, "Here, go over to the roulette wheel. If you win, you keep the money. If you lose, we'll cover your loses."

And how much sense does that make? So, think this through. I am absolutely certain you, Steve Green, would not keep your money in a bank which was not FDIC insured. Neither would I. In fact I doubt any bank could attract the first depositor without it. But here's the rub: exactly how much should the Federal Government have to say in regulating bank investments when it is in fact agreeing to cover the banks losses if they fail?

Should we do away with the FDIC - and (potentially) leave depositors high and dry? You seem to favor in your post the value of personal responsibility. How far are you willing to go with that?




I was watching a basketball game the other day and at half time the court side announcers came on for a little recap and commentary on the first half action. As I watched, I couldn't help but be distracted by this total moron with a ridiculous grin behind them who kept leaning over towards the camera and doing, over and over, the Florida Gator Chomp.

Now I like the Gators and I don't mind their Chomp. But to have some mindless boob performing it incessantly in the background while I am trying to pay attention is a bit thick. And that got me to thinking.

Decent, mentally balanced people like you and me, when unexpectedly confronted by a live TV camera, might wave briefly and say Hi Mom, but then bolt back immediately to the pleasant obscurity from which we emerged. However we apparently co-exist with a different breed. These are the morally torpid, intellectually challenged, unhinged individuals who are constantly jostling and jockeying for position in the background of a live broadcast, just to keep their oafish mugs in front of the camera for up to the last possible second.

They wave like skid row bums in violent fits of delirium tremens, their faces bisected by mindless, buck toothed grins. Often their tongues hang out, slobbering like a bizarre chorus line of Notre Dame Hunchbacks. They harangue us interminably with inchoate gibberish. They are crude, boorish urchins, and no one among them ever seems to realize it was not by chance fate saw fit to deny them careers in broadcasting. Afterwards, they call their friends and tell them to tune in to the 11:00 news, because they were "on" TV. What feckless, inconsiderate idiots they are! Not satisfied to annoy the faceless multitude with their jimjams, they then compel their friends to be disgusted by the replay.

I think this all started a long time ago with The Today Show. You may remember they had a camera pointing outside the plate glass windows of the studio at street level. It all began innocently enough. Now and then a guy would stand outside holding a little sign which read "Cyuahoga Falls" or some such. But it wasn't long before the rabid baboons got wind of it and wham! ...pretty soon every slack jawed dough head with a home made clown suit or tu tu was squirming and corkscrewing through the crowd to get his or her ugly mug in front of the camera. In time, for most of us viewers the only thing they added to the show was the comfort of knowing we were not them.

At some point, one of these knuckleheads decided to kick it up a couple of notches and "Rainbow Man" was born. I'm sure you will remember this jerk. He was the guy with the multi colored Afro whose whole career involved figuring out where the cameras would be at sporting events and then getting his stupid face in front of them. Why? Who knows? He said he wanted to be "famous". Not much insight there I'm afraid. What's the point of being famous when all you did to get there was to annoy people? Ron Popeil did the same thing but at least he had a motive - which was to sell the world's worst ever fishing rod. What was Rainbow Man's payoff? Zippo ...except I do think I remember once or twice a few fans sitting next to him got fed up with his antics and beat the crap out of him. Now don't tell me you aren't at least a little happy to know that.

And speaking of beatings, "Fan Man" was the brain dead super-nitwit who pretty much brought gratuitous camera mugging to a historic milestone. He's the dude who tried paragliding into the ring during Riddick Bowe and Evander Hollyfield's 1993 title fight at Caesar's Palace. News accounts of the stunt related how he got hung up in some overhead lights and fell to the top ropes of the ring, whereupon he was dragged away by enraged fans and security people who then proceeded to thrash him mercilessly. For good measure, when Fan Man woke up in the hospital later the cops slapped him with a warrant for illegal flying and trespass. I'd like to believe Bowe and Hollyfield got a few punches in.

Come to think of it Steve, maybe we're missing out on something here. Hey! The Braves are in town against the Pirates next Friday. You wear the wig and hang on while I steer the glider...



Smith vs. Keynes (again)

It can be argued - and I won't disagree (too much) - that capitalism without some reasonable legal restraints, would eventually devolve to a point where the most common activity would be the buying and selling of (sometimes willing) slaves. And while I am a capitalist at heart, I recognize that moderation is all things is better than a society surrounded by unbridled chaos. I just prefer a system which allows individuals to enjoy the freedom to achieve and succeed to the extent of their drive and ability with minimal intrusion by government. We lost that a long time ago. It is sorely missed.

The truly self-sufficient doesn't need 'protection' from the mistakes he *might* make. Just keep the playing field level and make sure the appropriate information if disclosed accurately and in a timely manner. BTW - Those whose day-to-day existence is provided from the efforts of others should not be in charge of holding the reins.

All that said... I am concerned (again) that our well-meaning bureaucrats are marching down the wrong road (again) with these so-called 'financial reforms' trying to sneak in the backdoor. There seems to be a complete lack of understanding that the chase for immediate (and unsustainable) profits in the derivatives market was a key component to the meltdown (maybe THE key). The *extreme* all-blinders-on pursuit to capture the high returns promised by the derivatives drove the financial community into a feeding frenzy. This frenzy continued unabated until common sense and all rational thought had been cast aside. Too much focus is being made on the results of that process instead of the Real Causes. And, yes, both the private and public sector must jointly share the blame for their excesses. To lay the blame (and new regulations) at the feet of the private sector alone is a mistake. The explosion of the derivative market was driven - and arguably caused - by government intervention in the marketplace, predominately for social engineering (which is *not* a legitimate purpose of government, IMHO).

My point: Any 'reform' legislation that does NOT apply a critical examination and *increased* accountability on the bureaucracy (e.g. Freddie and Fannie) is doomed to failure in the long run. At this point, I see our benevolent pseudo-masters in Washington gleefully assuming a stance not unlike the man selling lots in Hell: eventually, he'll be so successful, it won't be long before everyone will be going there.

* sigh*

- Steve

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Careful What You Wish For


If we are in for a historic pendulum shift this November, I'm pretty sure Rand Paul is going to be smack in the center of it. Man, if I had set out to create a libertarian blue blood from whole cloth and came up with a guy like this, no one would believe it. But here's a case where Reality not only sees Fiction, but raises the bet. Shoot Steve, this dude is not only the son of the most prominent, in your face libertarian to come down the pike in many years, but is even named after the gal with the biggest statue in the Libertarian Hall of Hero's. Throw in a successful career in private practice, community involvement, Christian background, a stable family and not a single molecule tainted by past political activism, and pretty much all the guy has to do to get elected is show up with a pulse.

I'm not kidding Steve. This guy is the Real Deal, The Original Formula, Smooth as the Fuzz on a Baby's Behind and comes At An Affordable Price - Accept No Substitutes! I wouldn't even be surprised if Rand's opponent decides to vote for Rand instead of himself. Five midgets from Malawi have a better chance of beating the Dream Team than Democrats have of stopping this juggernaut.

Anywho, as you might expect, I like Rand Paul's politics about as much as Rikki-Tikki-Tavi liked Nagaina. But in all of this I do see a silver lining - and you know what? - its a pretty lining at that. Let me explain.

You may recall back during the Republican presidential debates in South Carolina in May of '07, Ron Paul dropped a huge bomb on the audience. Concerning 9/11, he said:

"Have you ever read about the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we've been over there. We've been bombing Iraq for 10 years..."

The conservative crowd literally went nuts. Rudy Giuliani got up on his pulpit and demanded an apology - which by most accounts won him the debate - and Ron Paul's nascent campaign slowly began to ease into a death spiral. Next day, the Hannity's, Malkin's and Limbaugh's were outraged, and began to describe Paul as some sort of dope smoking peace-nik. Still later, in June at another debate in Washington, Ron Paul pretty much summed things up:

"We in the past have always declared war in the defense of our liberties or go to aid of somebody," he said. "But now we have accepted the principle of preemptive war - we have rejected the Just War theory of Christianity. We have to come to our senses about this issue of war and preemption and go back to traditions and our constitution and defend our liberties and defend our rights..."

Fast forward to now and take a gander at The Cato Institute's list of ten steps to cut Federal spending by 10%. Its pretty impressive. These steps cut a whopping 380 billion from the Federal budget - pretty much by eliminating a host of subsidies and social programs. Now Steve, 380 bil ain't exactly chump change, and my gut tells me Rand Paul would probably agree with most, if not all of these steps. However there's one category which is stunningly absent from this list.

Once you add up everything we spend on National Defense, the total comes to around a trillion dollars. Now I'll lay even money that if you took the time to break this number down, we spend at least half of this - if not more - not to defend ourselves, but to be the World's Policeman.

I'm absolutely certain Ron Paul would would add an 11th step to this list by drastically reducing the U.S. Military's overseas footprint and reining in defense spending by at least half a trillion dollars. Sound crazy? I hardly think so. Go back and read what Ayn Rand, the very person Ron Paul named his son after, and see what she had to say about our participation in World Wars I and II, not to mention Viet Nam. She sums it up in "The Roots of War":

“Observe the link between statism and militarism in the intellectual history of the 19th and 20th centuries. Just as the destruction of capitalism and the rise of the totalitarian state were not caused by business or labor or any economic interests, but by the dominant statist ideology of the intellectuals – so the resurgence of the doctrine of military conquest and armed crusades for political ‘ideals’ were the product of the same intellectuals’ belief that ‘the good’ is to be achieved by force.”

Let's cut to the chase. Ron Paul adheres to the time worn libertarian ideal of non-interventionism which has been completely abandoned in the vapid stew of modern day, neocon ideology. But Liberals are hardly above reproach on this issue. What we have in government today is the ultimate Mexican standoff. The first guy in government who dares to suggest rational cuts in military spending - and a return to the pre-WWII ideal of non-interventionism - is going to get tarred and feathered as a yellow bellied pacifist.

And as for Rand Paul? Steve, I don't think this apple fell far from the tree. Imagine a virtually bullet proof man like this, riding into Washington on a ground swell of public distrust of government... The mind reels. This to me is probably the only kind of man who could take a shot at military spending without getting his head blown off in the process. And who knows where that might lead?

Will he do it?

We'll see.



Wednesday, May 19, 2010

How will D.C. react to an Anti-Incumbent groundswell?

If Tuesday's primaries (05/18/2010) were any indication, all those incumbents coming up for re-election in November better think twice about being established in what was once termed 'a safe seat'. And that goes double for establishment-backed opposition candidates in *either* party.

Unless I miss my guess, there's going to be a shortage of Torches and Pitchforks at the local Home Depot this fall... [snicker]

On the whole, I think this is a Good Thing. The (possible) expense of losing some 'experienced' politicians in positions of power is more than offset by the long-term benefit of reminding those folks exactly who is supposed to be working for who... We'll see if it lasts (I hope so).

- Steve

Monday, May 17, 2010

Immigration Reform (off the top of my head)

My initial thoughts is for a 3-step process to be followed (which *must* be done in this order, and complete one before starting the next). Caveat: I haven't studied the various minute details for booby-traps. I'm sure they are there.

1. Secure the border. Really.
- We cannot expect to address the myriad of immigration issues until we stop the traffic flow. This will not be cheap or easy, but it must be done. To do otherwise is like looking for who has the best deal on new kitchen appliances while your house is burning to the ground. No, it won't be easy. Whatever it takes - up to and including armed response using deadly force (sorry, but that's the way it is) - Whatever it takes. And the entire border, not just that one to the south: *all* of them. Purpose: security for the citizens of this country.

2. Fix the immigration process itself.
- Establish monthly or yearly limits if deemed necessary. Or not. Require background checks or passing a language comprehension test or whatever. But make the process reasonable and as FAST / painless as humanly possible. Then, (re)establish appropriate organizations in various countries to handle it (isn't that a function of our embassy anyway?) Purpose: to reduce or eliminate reasons to bypass the system.

3. When an 'illegal' is found, they go back to square one... Immediately.
- Grab them, deport them back to their country of origin, and make them go through the (new, better, faster) process. Protect any property they may have acquired while they are gone, if necessary. No free rides, no special treatment, no advantages for those who may already here illegally, regardless of the details... To do otherwise rewards flaunting the law and is a disadvantage to those who have already accepted the idea they must follow the rules. Do it out of respect for the law, if for no other reason. If we are to present ourselves as a country of equals, spreading MORE 'equality' around is always a good idea. Purpose: All applicants must go through the process just like everyone else.

Any country is justified in taking whatever steps are necessary to protect, and defend its borders. It is a legitimate purpose for government: and if it can't do that, why trust it with anything else? Further, the good ol' U. S. of A. was founded upon - among other things - a principle called 'equal under the law'. There can be no justification for 'some are more equal than others' (see Orwell). Period. Otherwise, you shatter the very foundation which makes this country the destination for the world...

Yes, I realize this an overly simplified task list. There are certain to be difficulties in implementation. They are certainly easier to say than to do; but that doesn't diminish their critical nature or their importance or the high priority they deserve. There are a lot of complicating details and 'special situations'; but these are the high-level objectives . There are a bunch of subsequent tasks and challenges too - but those, be definition, are less important details (most of which will be bureaucratic in nature).

But, when I look at the problem as a whole, I see a fairly straight-forward sequence of events that must occur: Step 1, then step 2, then step 3. Simple.

What am I missing?

- Steve

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Well I'm Impressed...


Yahoo News reports this morning that the National Evangelical Association:

"is seeking to rally support for comprehensive immigration reform. The campaign begins with a full-page ad Thursday in Roll Call, a Washington newspaper that covers Congress."

More from the article:

"The association, which includes members from 40 evangelical denominations, reached consensus on the issue of immigration reform in 2009 — almost two years after President George W. Bush's failed attempts to reform immigration — by focusing on the biblical material that supports immigration. (The group took no official stand on the issue during the last congressional debate.) The group's 2009 resolution on immigration includes several paragraphs citing scriptural authority..."

From the 2009 resolution:

"The United States of America is a country founded by immigrants, and its history has been characterized by waves of immigrants from different parts of the world. Immigrants will continue to be an essential part of who we are as a country. Our response to immigration must include an understanding of this immigrant history and an awareness of the positive impact of multiple cultures on national life over the last 250 years...

"Building upon biblical revelation concerning the migration of people and the values of justice and compassion championed in For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility, we urge: (a few excerpts...)

"...That the government establish more functional legal mechanisms for the annual entry of a reasonable number of immigrant workers and families.

"...That the government recognize the central importance of the family in society by reconsidering the number and categories of visas available for family reunification, by dedicating more resources to reducing the backlog of cases in process, and by reevaluating the impact of deportation on families.

"...That the government establish a sound, equitable process toward earned legal status for currently undocumented immigrants, (!) who desire to embrace the responsibilities and privileges that accompany citizenship." (my emphasis)

Now I'll have to admit this whole thing just floors me. At first I simply assumed that the real evangelical heavy hitters would not have signed on to the resolution. But no, one of the signatories is none other than the ultra conservative Richard Land - head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Since I've had occasion to disagree with Mr. Land's views on more than one occasion, I headed over to the ERLC to see if I could find out what's going on.

Well naturally, as usual I found Mr. Land's views to follow a rather Gumby-like contortion of logic. But amazingly, he says this:

"Proper reform should consist of a program that provides an earned pathway that requires an illegal immigrant who desires to remain legally in the U.S. to undergo a criminal background check, pay a fine, agree to pay back taxes, learn to speak, write, and read English and get in line behind those who are legally migrating into this country in order to apply for permanent residence after a probationary period of years. They must also acknowledge and pledge allegiance to America’s governmental structure, the duties of citizenship and our core values as embodied in the Declaration of Independence. People who fail background checks or who refuse to comply with this generous opportunity to earn legal status, should be deported immediately.

This is not amnesty." (my emphasis - again)

Well no, no it is. He's dressed the whole thing up with a lot of stern language, but at the end of the day, what he's saying is that millions of illegal immigrants should have the right, by law, not only stay in this country but to become citizens. And all it really amounts to is amnesty obscured by a little gobbledigook.

Just to set the record straight... Sure, I believe every nation has the right to secure borders. But on the other hand I've always believed the vast majority of immigrants who got here illegally should be given a fair chance to become citizens. Most of them didn't come here to sell drugs or start gangs. What they came here for is the chance to better their lives and pursue the American Dream, just like the rest of us who were so blessed to have been born here.

Steve, this is big. The whole idea of amnesty is a huge flash point in American politics. And I don't think I'm being biased to observe that, despite the laudable efforts by G.W. Bush to introduce rational immigration reform, conservatives have generally been against it. To me, this new push by the National Evangelical Association represents the start of a huge paradigm shift.

What are your thoughts?


Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Little Housekeeping


What strikes me as bizarre about your last couple of posts is that you, a man of such finely nuanced sensibilities and imposing intellect, should write them. They are so far below your usual standards that I fear your faculties have been taken over by some low calibre mind worm, ala "The Puppet Masters."

Whatever. In any case I take umbrage regarding your next to the last rant. Since vacuity in the MSM is as common as tree bark, I didn't feel required to second your opinion on that, and decided instead to focus on a rather less well substantiated comment (I quote):

"Worse, the media has uncritically swallowed - and doesn't hesitate to crow about it! - that the administration is *correct* in believing... that the way to eliminate the threat posed by insane death-worshiping religious fanatics hell-bent waging nuclear jihad is to appeal to their rationality."

Now if the administration is actually appealing to the rationality of insane, death-worshiping fanatics, I'm sure this will come as a welcome relief to the militants in North Waziristan, who we are currently appealing to by blasting them with virtually hundreds of predator drones. But since that really isn't the case, I felt obliged to point out that "negotiating with Islamic terrorists" is neocon speak for "negotiating with Islamic moderates", since, at least in the myopic world view of the neocon, all Muslims are terrorists.

Your last rant was a genuine puzzler. What Charles Blow was saying in his article was that the Tea Party Movement is attracting racists and that it doesn't want them. But do a little research on this yourself. Storm Front, the notorious white supremacist organization, has 14 pages on its website of comments by members regarding their participation in Tea Party rallies.

Now just because some whacked out white supremacists see an opportunity in The Tea Party movement to spread their disgusting filth, doesn't mean that racism is a structural component of the Tea Party. And that's the conclusion you have drawn from his article which I'm sure is bothering you most. The name for it is "guilt by association", and it doesn't look any better to me when you use it than when (as you assert) Charles Blow does.

To be more specific, you yourself define who liberals are and then proceed to attack that definition. Overall, I gather you believe they are intellectual snobs and pacifists. I suppose some of them are, but this classification is about as helpful as me saying that all conservatives are ignorant buffoons and war mongers.

The answers to the complex and vexing issues of the day are almost less important than that we pursue them together as Americans. This kind of volatile and cartoonish rhetoric is exactly what prevents us from doing that.


Monday, May 10, 2010

What are they thinking?

Start here: (

Allow me to summarize the NYT (and MSM) approach to 'understanding' the Tea Party movement. I'll present this is simple terms so even they can understand...

Leftist sees Tea Party rally... Listen to speeches... Recognize content of speech is exactly oppose typical Leftist positions... Work self into a 'how-dare-they' lather... Demonize Tea Party participants... Assign claim of 'racism' as proof political content is incorrect... Rinse... Repeat.

Seriously - OK, no, not really - watching many of the Left try to deal with an opposing viewpoint is like watching a 3 year old struggle with a jigsaw puzzle labeled "For Ages 14 and UP". Of course, the 3 year old thinks he’s grown up and mature enough to do the puzzle, but after hours of frustration, he ends up throwing the box of pieces at the wall in anger and screams “RACISTS!” Am I over-simplifying? Really? Try this annoyingly *long* article from the NYT Book Review section, here: (

I quote (from Mark Lilla):

"Many Americans, a vocal and varied segment of the public at large, have now convinced themselves that educated elites—politicians, bureaucrats, reporters, but also doctors, scientists, even schoolteachers—are controlling our lives. And they want them to stop. They say they are tired of being told what counts as news or what they should think about global warming; tired of being told what their children should be taught, how much of their paychecks they get to keep, whether to insure themselves, which medicines they can have, where they can build their homes, which guns they can buy, when they have to wear seatbelts and helmets, whether they can talk on the phone while driving, which foods they can eat, how much soda they can drink…"

It's pretty clear from tone and content that Mr. Lilla is of the opinion that Americans should *not* be allowed to decide these things for themselves. After all, the Great Unwashed just don't understand that their social betters are much more competent than they could ever hope to be decide what is in EVERYONE'S best interest... He continues:

"A new strain of populism is metastasizing before our eyes, nourished by the same libertarian impulses that have unsettled American society for half a century now. Anarchistic like the Sixties, selfish like the Eighties, contradicting neither, it is estranged, aimless, and as juvenile as our new century. It appeals to petulant individuals convinced that they can do everything themselves if they are only left alone, and that others are conspiring to keep them from doing just that...Welcome to the politics of the libertarian mob."

I must cringe and roll my eyes at his Cancer scare reference ("metastasizing") as if that somehow lends support to his point (it doesn't). The bulk of his smarter-than-you diatribe actually shows his own ineptness in political thought: for example, he doesn't understand that 'libertarian' and 'mob' are mutually exclusive terms... But I must also admit I can understand Mr. Lilla's frustration. He is having to acknowledge the Left has spent considerable time, resources and effort to 'capture' various political tools (e.g., the court system) - he called it a "long march through the institutions" - for the express purpose of accomplishing their goals and desires through fiat. He is struggling to understand how the Left is supposed to utilize those same institutions if they aren't allowed to tell everyone else what to do. Good Heavens, is my entire world view being repudiated by the rest of the country? The horror!

Allow me to provide a little insight (again, I'll keep it simple, so Mark Lilla and the rest of the intelligentsia can understand it):

1. (a) Federal spending and (b) Expansion of government under eight years with George W. Bush as president (and with both parties periodically in charge of Congress) was *BAD*.

2. Under President Obama, it’s still *BAD* and getting substantially *WORSE*.

3. Libertarianism is *NOT* the enemy. BTW, neither are Conservatives or Liberals... It's certain policies - occasionally promoted by Democrats and/or Republicans - which *ARE* the enemy.

4. The Tea Party movement is not inherently racist. Stop trying to 'disprove' the validity of a political argument by attacking individuals with which you disagree on a personal level. It's not only petty and shallow, it demonstrates a desire to resort to schoolhouse bullying and nah-nah-nah, instead of using a genuine, intellectual discussion.

5. Saying something over and over again does *NOT* make it TRUE... so "Move On".

There. that wasn't too hard... Or would you just like another cookie?

- Steve

Thursday, May 6, 2010

You misunderstood my rant

I was not specifically ranting against either party. I was ranting against the media for NOT DOING THEIR JOB.

Yes, both parties have made mistakes and done stupid things. Bush made errors. Obama has made errors. How are we supposed to find out about them? Media. Yes, both parties have good men periodically in power who are out of their depth at being able to handle the job (Jimmy Carter comes to mind, obviously). Both sides want the country to move ahead, and - to paraphrase JFK - they have distinctly different ideas about HOW to do that. Both positions are worthy of respect and serious consideration, whether you end up agreeing with them or not.

BTW, Bush is not the president right now and hasn't been for over a year. At what point does the current situation become Obama's? My point: the MSM continues to blame Bush when they aren't giving serious criticism to what the current administration is doing. The MEDIA *should* be exploring all options and challenging the current administration - whoever they are - to Get The Job Done. No free passes, and don't focus (praise) on issues and techniques you personally agree with. For liberty and Freedom's sake, we *need* an independent media poking and prodding the government constantly. They should be watchdogs All The Time - not just when it's convenient or when they don't like a particular party/politician.

Short form: I am sick and tired of the MSM following it's own ideology (which just happens to agree with the current administration). Sure, there is a right-wing side screaming out there (talk radio, pundits, Fox News, etc.), but they are clearly in the minority - there are far more trumpeting the glory of the current administration. There's way too much division and political posturing at the corporate level (both sides). I want the Fourth Estate as a whole to be as middle-of-the-road as possible, at least with respect to doing reporting.

For Heaven's sake: just treat *all* administrations with the same level of vitriol they did during the Bush years. After all, that's their JOB.

- Steve

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Steve Steve Steve Steve Steve... down boy!

I'll have to agree deficit spending has gone off the tracks, over the ditch, through the weeds, past the cliff and down to the canyon floor with Wile E. Coyote.

But you make it sound like this is a Democratic Party problem, which makes it a Barak Obama problem. Now hold on just a 'gol durn minute there partner...

You say:

"Worse, the media has uncritically swallowed - and doesn't hesitate to crow about it! - that the administration is *correct* in believing the solution to excessive debt is to borrow more money. *AND* that the deficit can be cut by drastically increasing spending and enacting a vast new government entitlement."

Doggonit Steve, where were you when the Bush administration pushed through Congress one of the largest new entitlement programs ever - that being the Medicare Prescription Drug benefit? You remember that one, don't you? It was the bill which Republicans in Congress strong armed a few hold outs in their own party to pass, the cost estimate for which the administration knew before hand was a couple of hundred billion dollars short. And by the way, what did you do with the $600.00 "stimulus check" the federal government sent you (and just about every other taxpayer) in 2008? Send it back? And for that matter, exactly when did you and Rip Van Winkle wake up after the national debt went from 5 trillion to 10 trillion during the Bush years? And what about TARP? That program was put together and GM got a chunk before Obama's U-Haul ever rolled up to the White House. Geez a'mighty!

Do you think for just one microsecond the right wing media bubbleheads would have called George W. Bush a "socialist" for doing precisely the same things they are accusing Barak Obama of doing today?

Since when is it "pacifism" to wake up and realize that we are fighting a war on two battlefields? One battlefield is of bombs and bullets and the other is of ideas. Steve, no army is powerful enough to defeat an idea. This country has at its disposal the most powerful armed forces the world has ever known. We spend more on arms than the rest of the world combined - which by the way contributes roughly a trillion dollars annually to that federal debt you are so fond of. But with all of our magnificent weapons, we are helpless against one determined fanatic.

If we are ever going to win this war, we have to figure out how we can open a dialogue with moderates in the Moslem world. Having soundly lost in the last election, conservatives are framing this kind of diplomacy as negotiating with terrorists. No. What we are trying to do is build support in Asia and the Middle East for a rational alternative to jihad and it isn't going to be easy.

For Pete's sake Steve, our armed forces are pursuing a major offensive against the Taliban in Afghanistan at this very moment and our own commanders are publicly declaring that this battle is less about territory than it is about winning the "hearts and minds" of the Afghans. Are you prepared to call our own commanders on the battlefield "pacifists" for having the nerve to say this?

(Calm down Chris...)

OK. What we have here is a simple exercise in negative framing. Liberal pundits did it to Bush and Conservative pundits are doing it to Obama. Now I don't mind telling you I didn't care for George Bush as a president. In fact I thought he made some horrible decisions. But I never once believed he was anything less than a decent man trying his level best to handle the situation when 9/11 was dropped in his lap.

For my money, Barak Obama is also a decent man trying to handle an epic recession at the same time terrorism is on the rise - both foreign and domestic. Not everyone is going to agree with his approach. But if we are ever going to face these crisis together as a nation, we need to stop listening to these ignorant, cartoonish buffoons - on both sides - who are doing little more than reducing civil, informed discourse to the mindless level of the playground.

Steve, what makes this nation the most glorious expression of liberty in history is exactly what makes us vulnerable to cowards like Mohamed Atta, Faisal Shahzad, Nadal Hasan, and yes, Tim McVeigh. These people are loathesome, contemptible excuses for human beings. By all means, let's track them down and string them up. But never let it be said that we feared them so much that we handed them the larger victory of dividing us.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Useless Media

I'm extremely annoyed at how the media - which we rely upon to monitor the actions/in-actions of the government, both to keep them accountable and in check - is becoming @#$% useless. Where are the Hard Questions? Where is the needed distrust of public authority? Why is it OK and anything-goes *only* when you personally agree with the current political leadership?

Mayor Bloomberg told CBS's Katie Couric that the suspect behind the bombing attempt could be a domestic terrorist angry at the government who acted alone. "If I had to guess 25 cents, this would be exactly that. Homegrown, or maybe a mentally deranged person, or somebody with a political agenda that doesn't like the health care bill or something. It could be anything... There is no evidence here of a conspiracy, there is no evidence that it's tied into anything else. It looks like an amateurish job done by at least one person." How could he *know* at that early point in the investigation there was no conspiracy? And if "it could be anything", why isn't AN ACT OF TERRORISM a legitimate possibility? Has he been asleep for the last decade?

And then there's Geraldo's diatribe on Sunday night... You would have thought the would-be Times Square bomber was either the illegitimate son of Timothy McVeigh or the spawn of an evangelical minister, both overdosed on steroids who got lost downtown looking for an abortion clinic. Geraldo was practically foaming at the mouth, longing for those good old days when the only true enemy was some evil Klu Kluxer waving his hangman’s noose.

Well, surprise, surprise, Gomer: it wasn’t.

For that matter, if it wasn't for some alert private citizens and some smart, fast research by NYPD (and others) this free-lance jihadist would be long gone. In the meantime, Bloomberg and the rest would still be looking under rocks for a connection to 'those unstable and dangerous tea-party bigots'. (And if the cellphone connection research which lead to the arrest had happened under Bush, that same adoring media would have screaming from the rooftops about the use of "excessive police-state actions.")

Worse, the media has uncritically swallowed - and doesn't hesitate to crow about it! - that the administration is *correct* in believing the solution to excessive debt is to borrow more money. *AND* that the deficit can be cut by drastically increasing spending and enacting a vast new government entitlement. *AND* that the way to eliminate the threat posed by insane death-worshiping religious fanatics hell-bent waging nuclear jihad is to appeal to their rationality.


That such a group - who no doubt consider themselves as the cream of the intellectual crop - are somehow mentally stunted to the extent they accept such contradictions without question is never going to ask tough questions. I am disturbingly concerned that the now-inevitable next successful terrorist attack on U.S. soil - no matter how devastating it may be - will be summarily dismissed as the result of the excesses of the Bush administration’s foreign and domestic policies which did nothing by create hordes of new enemies for America. This will lead to a new round of Presidential apologizing, boot-licking, appeasement for our international diplomatic 'efforts'.

Open your eyes, people. See the world as it IS, not as how you wish it to be:

The universal reaction of the Leftist to the disastrous failures of their policies is always to demand more of their policies. That’s why the Left will never give up on its two most cherished ideas, socialism and pacifism, no matter how horrifically such ideas have failed every time they’ve been tried. They believe that THIS TIME, they'll work. And, when it doesn't work (again), they will childishly claim it is due to the failure of the opposition to properly support these unproven and proven-to-fail policies... "YOU can make it work, if you only wanted to! I *want* it, and it's up to YOU to provide for my every need and want, and I WANT IT TO WORK!"

We have turned over the power and force of government to a bunch of selfish children.

Obviously, I'm in a bad mood today...I'm going to crawl back in my hole now.

- Steve