Tuesday, June 30, 2015

 

Thought of the Day

The same people who told us 30 years ago that “marriage is just a stupid piece of paper” now insist that it’s a “human right.”

The same people who told us that “a flag is just a meaningless piece of material” now want certain flags banned and others raised — or else.

The same people who say you can’t change who you want to f*ck tell us you CAN change the bits you f*ck them with.

The same people who said “Hey, if you don’t like it, change the channel” now run #StopRush and try to ban Ann Coulter et al from campuses.

The same people who used to tell us to “lighten up” and “learn to take a joke” now fire people who make them.

LITERALLY the same people.

If we’re “crazy,” they made us that way.

Kathy Shaidle

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A Primer on Flags of the Confederacy

Let's start with history:

This is the first official flag of the Confederacy. It is called the stars and bars. There were actually four variants of this as states joined in. This is the fourth version. These were the Confederate flag from 1861 to 1863.



This is the second official flag of the Confederacy. It is called the stainless banner. It has the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia in the upper left corner of a white flag. Looked a lot like a white flag of surrender. This was the Confederate flag from 1863 to 1865.
This is the final official flag of the Confederacy. It's called the blood-stained banner because of the added red stripe, and it was the flag for the final month of the War.

I've identified the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia, already. This is the battle flag of the Army of Tennessee. It's a rectangle not a square. There are a lot more battle flags and state flags involved with the Confederacy but none that matter to us now.

All of these were made by and for Democrats. Democrats were the slave owners in the South. Democrats were the political leaders who traitorously withdrew from the Union and fired the first shots of a war they could not win. Then, after the loss and too brief an occupation, Democrats used the battle flag of the Army of Tennessee as the flag of the KKK, the terrorist wing of the Democratic party in order to impose a new form of slavery on African Americans in the South through Jim Crow laws and institutional racism.

So the last flag above, called the Confederate flag or the stars and bars by the historically ignorant, is the Democrat party's flag of shame--racism, treachery and terror.

The Republican Party on the other hand, never used any of these flags at all. The Republicans, after winning the war to end slavery, passed the 13th Amendment (with every Republican in the House and Senate voting for it and only 19 of 74 Northern Democrats voting for it combined), passed the 14th Amendment and 15th Amendments (with every voting Republican voting for them both and no Democrat voting for either), passed the Civil Rights Acts of 1866, 1871, 1875, 1957,1960 and 1964 over Democrat opposition.

And in the mid 20th Century, Democrats and the race obsessed Dixiecrats started flying their flag of shame more an more,and two Democrat governors, Fritz Hollings and George Wallace oversaw the flying of the flag of the Army of Tennessee over their respective state capitals.

Now let's turn to the states' flags.


This is Georgia's 6th state flag since 1865. The state used to incorporate the battle flag but lately it's the same as the stars and bars with part of the state seal in the middle of the circle of stars. Very clever of the Georgians not to incorporate the Democrat's racist symbol but still tip the hat to the state's heritage.



Here's Mississippi's. Uh ho, that's not going to last, thanks to the Democrats' perfidy.



Here is Alabama's. Is the St. Andrew's cross enough to get this flag banned or changed?



This is Florida's. How about this St. Andrew's cross's symbolism?



This is Scotland's flag. Anyone advocating the banning or changing Alabama's or Florida's is going to have to explain why this one is OK. (Other than because of actual history, that is).

Some people see the battle flag of the Army in Tennessee in Arkansas's and in Tennessee's state flag but I think they're crazy and even crazier to see it in North Carolina's state flag.

OK. So now that you know a more complete history, please tell me why the battle flag of the Army of Tennessee is now a Republican problem?

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Friday, June 26, 2015

 

The Slippery Slope Tilts a Few Degrees Down

My only arguments against finding in the 14th Amendment a right to same sex marriage was a slippery slope one. I know those are weak. I didn't think same sex marriage would in itself do any damage to society. The problems lay in the Court finding another right that does not actually exist and by replacing the thousands of years old definition of marriage (male and female pair bonding for procreation) with you can marry anyone you love for equality, you paved the way for marriages that would do damage to our society. I used examples like marrying an 8 year old or marrying multiple spouses. If the only criterion for a right to marry is "you love that person (or, I guess, thing)" then people will have no arguments against allowing that next wave, awful marriage at least no argument other than the ones that failed to stop gay marriage by judicial fiat. (I have absolutely no problem with democratic voting on the subject, majority rules). And those next round of rights to marry could well do damage to our society


So, within hours of the ruling Politico Mag had a long article that polygamy (and polyandry no doubt) should be next to be made legal. Coverage here.


Sucks to be so prescient.


There was one laugh. At one site a very droll commenter said that the internet was slow today because so many blogs who had made fun of the slippery slope argument regarding polygamy were deleting those posts.


Sucks to be blind to unintended consequences too.

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

 

A Conceit About Holocausts

Regarding die Endlösung der Judenfrage, there was an ideas man (Adolf Hitler), an architect (Reinhard Heydrich) and a contractor (Adolf Eichmann). I am unable to talk about the non-participating enablers, despite my moderate knowledge of WWII history. But the first two made the answer to the Jewish Question, which was decided at the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1941, (about the time the Germans began to lose the war), murder on an industrial scale. The result was 6,000,000 dead European Jews. We Americans call that the Holocaust. But just as the Great War, (1914-1918), became World War One when there was a second World War, so too will the 1941-1945 Holocaust be later known as the First Holocaust when there is a nuclear one which kills 4 to 5 million Jews in Israel, all in the foreseeable future.


So who will be the father of the second Holocaust? Certainly it will be the Iranian leader who gives the order to fire the nuclear tipped missiles, but are there other? History will tell.


What about enablers? Certainly there are those. I nominate as the chief enabler Barack Hussein Obama, who has done all he could to help the Iranians get the bomb all the while pretending to be working to prevent just that.


Show me I'm wrong.

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There is None so Blind...

E.J. Dionne is sort of an idiot. He can see the general picture and sometimes even the detail, but he rarely has any relevant insight from his hit or miss perceptions. Take this recent piece, for example. I'll ignore the moronic title and go right to the article. He starts off fairly well.


Advocates of a saner approach to guns need a new strategy. We cannot go on like this, wringing our hands in frustration after every tragedy involving firearms. We said "Enough" after Sandy Hook. We thought the moment for action had come. Yet nothing happened. We are saying "Enough" after Charleston. But this time, we don't even expect anything to happen.


There is no saner approach to firearms than the independent clause of the Second Amendment. But he's right that the chance of further, unconstitutional statutory intrusion into the second amendment, (a constitutional right which actually exists in writing in the Constitution), because of yet another gun murder/tragedy is virtually nil. That's because we rational people realize banning something with a law does not do away with it (think cocaine or heroin) and there already are sufficient laws against murder. Then E.J. begins to let out his inner moron.



Lest anyone doubt that gun-control measures can work, a study released earlier this month by the Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins University found that a 1995 Connecticut law requiring a permit or license contingent on passing a background check was associated with a 40 percent drop in gun homicides. (Emphasis added).


Notice the weasel word: Associated, not caused. This is a worthless, tendentious study. Gun murders and other gun crimes in every state on average declined more than 40% since 1995, whether there were new gun control laws passed in a particular state or not. I'm still doubting that laws about mere ownership of guns will work with criminals where murder laws don't. E.J. then lets us into his circle of wise friends.


My friend Guy Molyneux, a progressive pollster, laid out how it could happen. "We need to build a social movement devoted to the simple proposition that owning handguns makes us less safe, not more," he told me. "The evidence is overwhelming that having a gun in your home increases the risks of suicide, domestic violence and fatal accidents, and yet the number one reason given for gun purchases is 'personal safety.' We need a public health campaign on the dangers of gun ownership, similar to the successful efforts against smoking and drunk driving."


I think having a gun gives you a fighting chance against a bigger, stronger attacker or an attacker  of any size with a gun. The number of fatal accidents with guns per year in America is about 600. Accidental death caused merely by falling down are 25,000 per year, about 42 times more lethal; and deaths from accidental poisonings are about 39,000 per year, about 65 times more lethal. But E.J. stumbles onto a truth the gun grabbers like to ignore.



The facts were on the side of those who battled the tobacco companies, and they are just as compelling here. When we talk about guns, we don't focus enough on the reality, reported in the 2015 Annual Review of Public Health, that nearly two-thirds of the deaths from firearms violence are suicides. Yes, people can try to kill themselves with pills, but there's no coming back from a gunshot to the head. Those in the throes of depression who have a gun nearby are more likely to act on their darkest impulses.



Most gun deaths in America are suicides, that is, caused by the victim after a conscious choice to end the victim's own life. I'm not sure about no coming back from a gunshot to the head. Perhaps E.J. could consult with former Representative Gabrielle Giffords. She's about 2/3rds the way back. And it's odd about suicides, age and gender. Young women who try rarely succeed in killing themselves. Older men rarely fail. Very few women use a gun. Men use guns for suicide most of the time. Is E.J. anti-choice about life? If he is, how totally unprogressive.


Nor do we talk enough about accidental deaths when children get their hands on guns, or what happens when a domestic argument escalates and a firearm is readily available. The message is plain and simple: Households that voluntarily say no to guns are safer.
We talk about child gun deaths, both homicide and accidental, all the time. Each accidental death is a tragedy. There are about 100 accidental gun deaths each year here of people under 18. Twenty times that drown (not just children) each year. In a population of 320,000,000, I'm not sure preventing child accidental gun deaths is the most pressing place to focus our resources. The NRA spends a lot of time and money teaching gun safety. They must be the good guys then. Associated with those NRA efforts, it turns out, is the fact that most people lock up their guns if they have children around, which is why there are so few such deaths in a country where well over a hundred fifty million own guns. And, yes, a household that voluntarily disarms is safer, unless some criminal enters the household. Then I'd say the household is less safe.




The big finish is Through the Looking Glass logic.


"Those of us who want to live, shop, go to school and worship in gun-free spaces also have rights," Molyneux says. "In what way is 'freedom' advanced by telling the owner of a bar or restaurant they cannot ban handguns in their own place of business, as many states now do? Today, it is the NRA that is the enemy of freedom, by seeking to impose its values on everyone else."
There is no such right not to have anyone with a gun anywhere near you. There is a right to carry a gun for protection. And, no, the NRA is preventing the government from intruding on the Second Amendment rights of the customers of the bar or restaurant.


The nation could ring out with the new slogans of liberty: "Not in my house." "Not in our school." "Not in my bar." "Not in our church." We'd be defending one of our most sacred rights: The right not to bear arms.


If you don't want to keep or bear a firearm, don't get one. That's a pretty easy solution, even for a moron. If you want your bar or church to put up a sign that says 'no guns on the premises' or 'this is a gun free zone' then by all means only go to a bar or a church that has such a sign. Did the church in Charleston have such a sign? Was it a gun free zone? But if you want your immediate public surroundings to be actually gun free, you're going to have to get the criminals to co-operate.


Good luck with that.


Grade school children think more profoundly than E.J. and Guy on this subject.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

 

Movie Rant -- The Railway Man

I've never been a fan of making a movie out of a book or play. Is there an insufficient number of original scripts out there so that we cannot avoid that? Who would sculpt a version of the Mona Lisa? And part of my problem is that 99 times out of a hundred, the book or play is better. Hollywood usually finds a way to, if not ruin the book, at least sap a good book's power and beauty. Which brings me to The Railway Man.




First of all, this is a pretty good movie. It certainly made me cry at the end, not in sadness but in a subset of joy, agape would be the mot juste. But there were a few things that struck me as off and I bought and read the book of the same name, a war memoir by Eric Lomax who was abused by the Japanese as a prisoner of war after the appallingly bad defense of Singapore ended in a mass surrender of Commonwealth troops, the worst defeat ever suffered by the English, and, man, have they suffered some defeats in the past millennium or so. The two things that bothered be were: The faux importance of water boarding (as the Japanese deployed it) to Lt. Lomax's deserved PTSD; and, The first meeting of Lomax and the Japanese translator he hated years after the war ended.




As I suspected, the beating Lomax took (fatal to two of the other officers beaten in the same barbaric episode, as described in the book) was far, far worse than the water "cure" which Lomax barely remembered. And far, far worse than either of these was his time in enforced isolation and near starvation in a prison for war criminals in Singapore. But of course the waterboarding in the movie was the worst that Lomax faced and the editing made it the absolute nadir of his lengthy torture by the Japanese. Gee, no political bias there.




Also, in the movie, Lomax "ambushes" the translator he wants revenge on and subjects him to some fear and few seconds of taking Lomax's place in the tiny cages. But in the book, the meeting is anything but menacing.




I know that the book version, the things that really happened, are not easily made into the stuff of tense, interesting drama. You have to punch up the reality a little for the moviegoers, as the movie makers would probably say. But I couldn't disagree more. Showing me what really took place, particularly if you could do it with montage, with clever editing (and not with helpful but unrealistic expositive dialogue), would be the height of movie making. And having to lie about the extent of  the actual suffering, either by punching it up or leaving it out, defeats the power the torture scenes have and skews the whole point of retelling the Lomax war history. That power comes from the reality, because it is shocking and brutal and debilitating to watch. And the power of the torture makes the ending so much more powerful because it is literally unforgivable but forgiveness wins out nonetheless. Why throw in a false, cheap shot against the CIA?




I blame the writers. In fact, one of them, the one who merely punched up the original version, is a producer who has done or helped in several pretty good films. And the real writer has done some interesting things, if not wholly successful, usually staring Steve Coogan. I believe they decided to bend the facts to fit their modern liberal world view and took the movie down a few pegs from greatness with their propagandist mucking about with the truth.


I have watched actress Nicole Kidman and actor Colin Firth "grow up" in the movies from their first roles as high school students (where they were both great); Flirting for Kidman and Another Country for Firth. Firth has done slightly better (and unfortunately has aged better as well). I really like Dead Calm, The Others, Cold Mountain and To Die For for Kidman. But I like more with Firth: Love Actually, A Single Man, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Valmont, Conspiracy and Circle of Friends. Neither is at the tip top of their acting prowess here but both are first rate so it's difficult to fault them for the movie's dullness. Besides, Directors (and to a lesser degree Producers) make films. Actors are sheep.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

 

First, Short Impressions of the New True Detective

1) The music in the second season opening kinda sucks.


2) The fact that there really is a proposed fast railway from nowhere in particular to nowhere at all in the center of California is delicious.


3) Has there ever been four more desperately miserable people depicted in modern media than the lead guys and gal here?


4) It's difficult to imagine that this season will span years and years like the really good McConaughey/Harrelson first season did and I don't know if that will be a good thing or not.


5) I believe everyone who really liked the first season is really bummed by this first episode of season two.

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Saturday, June 13, 2015

 

The Party of the Smoking Gun

Despite my use of the image in the title, I have never actually seen a smoking gun in real life. The first reason is that nearly everyone uses smokeless powder cartridges now and the powder in the cartridge is truly smokeless. For a second reason, very few people fire enough rounds to heat the barrel to a point where it causes the lubricating oil on the outside surface of the weapon to vaporize. I've seen it on films a few times. But the image comes from a different time when firing a weapon actually caused smoke and if the gun was smoking after discharge, the firing of the weapon was seconds ago. It is the near Platonic ideal of proof of guilt nowadays even though the guns, like most Americans, no longer smoke.


Here is the rather dim liberal Markos Moulitsas (Kos) asserting that there is no voter fraud in America.


If Republicans truly believed they were the national majority, they would fight for expanded voting rights and opportunities. Instead, they have engaged in a persistent nationwide effort to limit the franchise and size of the voting pool. 
Yeah, we're trying to limit the size of the voting pool to those who have a constitutional right to vote (and only to those). Racists! Know Nothings!


But here is the money quote which allows Kos to say the existence of any voter fraud is a lie:



A constitutional law professor at Loyola University in Los Angeles last year found since 2000 in both primary and general elections just 31 incidents of alleged voter fraud — out of over 1 billion votes cast. Even fewer were actually prosecuted. A News21 investigation found just 10 cases of voter impersonation since 2000, and only 159 guilty verdicts in cases involving ineligible voters (like felons or noncitizens illegally voting). 


So few people were caught doing it, goes the lefty reasoning here, that it must not be happening at all. I won't even bother with criticizing the sources he cites. I'm sure the unnamed con law professor at Loyola has his thumb firmly on the pulse of the fight to prevent illegal voting and News21, well, who could imagine that that world famous organization wouldn't get it right?


But the real problem with the lefty logic here, if I can use that word, is that we keep voting secret. There is no publication of who voted and what that person voted for. That makes detecting illegal voting, very, very difficult. So the fact that we don't catch a lot of people doing is not a very good reason to state that no one is doing it.


The idea that we don't receive the radio and TV signals from intelligent alien civilizations, so there must not be any, uses the same sort of logic. The physical facts, that distance attenuates such signals to the point of being undetectable by our technology and that any alien civilization is many light years away, don't matter. Nor does the speculative notion that there is a short time in an advanced, technological civilization between the beginning of strong signals from radio, TV, phone, etc. transmissions (for us it was 1901) and the evolution in that civilization to a interconnection system based primarily on fiberoptic cables, with limited broadcast signal distance and strength, which would necessarily make any signal from Earth undetectable at even close range to even an advanced technology. Alternate explanations for the lack of any detectable signal (or numerous arrest for voter fraud) are ignored as inconvenient when this logic is employed.


Just so does the Clinton political machine, vying for leadership of the Democrat party and the nation, use the "no smoking gun equals no wrongdoing" logic to defend its lengthy record of wrong doing.


I'm not knowledgeable enough about what Kos knows to call him a liar for writing the stupid stuff he did about voter fraud. I'll just continue to think he's rather dumb.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2015

 

Long Range Weather Forecast

I'll begin my second decade of blogging with some predictions. Here in Colorado, we'll have plenty of water this Summer. After a very wet late Spring, the snow pack is well over 100%.

There is a quite good El Nino forming up in the equatorial Pacific so rainfall this Fall and Winter should be better and perhaps good in the whole of California and western Nevada and the Sierra Madre snow pack should be about 70% of normal by the first day of Spring, 2016.

Now if only the political leadership in California would realize the bleeding obvious that southern California sometimes has multi-year droughts. The leaders of the past, who actually had foresight, realized this and built water storage systems to tide the inhabitants over when the droughts happened. But the last, large water storage project was finished in the 70s when California had about 20 Million people and now it has over 40 Million people.

Thank God the once and current leadership (all Democrats including twice governor Brown (the Lesser)) put a stop to those horrible water storage projects. Otherwise, who knows what ecological damage would have been done during the latest drought.



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