Monday, January 16, 2017

 

There is None So Blind...

I hate to keep picking on Dahlia Lithwick at Slate, but she keeps writing stupid stuff (but wholly observant of, or rather subservient to, Democrat memes) so I have no choice in the matter.

Let's review actual history. In June 1992, current VP Joe Biden, then a Delaware Senator, said: “It would be our pragmatic conclusion that once the political season is underway, and it is, action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over." That's the Biden rule--a supreme court vacancy during the last year of a President's term must be delayed until the election is over. There are sites out there denying this happened but my source is the New York Times.

In November 2013, Harry Reid then Senate Majority Leader, ended filibusters of presidential nominees. It was specifically about blocking President Obama's nomination of a judge to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals; but the parliamentary vote to end filibusters (when Republicans considered this, it was called the Nuclear Option) was 52-48 with every Republican voting against the rule change. This is the Reid rule. I don't think anyone has tried to rewrite history about this. Not yet.

Ms. Lithwick clearly knows this history but her story, here, fails to mentions it, not even once. Not that big a surprise.

She is pushing the semi-delusional meme that the Democrats in the Senate have some ability to block President-Elect Trump's nominees, particularly his replacement of Justice Scalia, who died about a year ago. Here we go.

Last week, after nearly 300 days of Senate obstruction, Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court expired. President-elect Donald Trump says he plans to seat a new justice, who will be avowedly pro-life, by April. He plans to name that person within two weeks of his inauguration. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer recently explained on MSNBC that Democrats in the Senate plan to block any Trump nominee who isn’t in the mainstream. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has responded by warning, evidently without irony, that Americans will not tolerate such obstruction.


The obstruction, as she calls it, of course because it's the Republicans who did it, was merely implementing the Biden rule. We'll get to the irony of her position.

There is no rule or tradition that the minority party gets to obstruct the current president's nomination for the Supreme Court in the first days of a new administration. But Ms. Lithwick seems solidly behind just such unprincipled obstruction. You can just about hear her exhortations for Senator Schumer to block any nomination by any means necessary. Especially the yucky nominees.

But the rest of the piece is an abridged interview with an expert in negotiations. I'm not that interested in his answers; they are what you would expect from Slate, but let's look at the questions. She asks:

One of the things you have thought about is the relationship between cooperation and confrontation in negotiations. I think the concern Democrats have raised with me during the transition lies in the tension between those values: President Obama and the Democratic leadership are interested in an orderly transition of power and in good governance. Their opponents seem bent simply on seizing and deploying power. Is Democratic leadership just, well, doing it wrong?


Despite talking a good game of orderly transition of power in the first meeting between the incoming and outgoing presidents, Obama and the Democrats have dug in their heels in an unseemly combination of disbelief and disassociation. There's a little bit of tantrum-pouty poor losers too. They are talking about obstructing the nominations for cabinet posts. They are talking about blocking any Supreme Court nominee they don't approve of (not that the nominee is unqualified to be an appellate judge, just he or she rules the wrong way, according to the Democrats). But this planning means, of course, that the Democrats are planning to do just what Dahlia complains bitterly of when the Republicans employed the Biden rule last year. It's just when the Republicans do what the Democrats did first, the Republicans are only bent on seizing and deploying power, while the Democrats were little angels. Stevie Wonder could see this is hypocrisy of the highest order. The irony is that she doesn't see it at all. She later asks:


So did Schumer disadvantage himself by suggesting that Senate Democrats would, for instance, only obstruct the far-right nominees? That’s a “softer” position than, say, John McCain’s “no Clinton nominees for all four years” posture during the election. How do we recognize when norms of good faith have expired and that collaboration is pointless?


The people on the far right politically are the American Founding Fathers. Not the worst people to associate with (unless you are judging them from the extreme left, as Ms. Lithwick no doubt is). I would think that we have recognized when norms of good faith have expired and that collaboration is pointless. It's when the Democrats make up a new rule that destroys the good will of the Senate and makes it ever more partisan, like with the Biden rule and the Reid rule. That test won't cover all situations, but it is a good rule of thumb.

Should Senate Democrats bargain as though this moment is frozen in time or as if whatever tools they use now will come back to haunt them in future? I am thinking specifically about the use of the filibuster.


Little late to be worrying that Harry Reid's seizing power and upsetting centuries of Senate precedent, (for a few of Obama's nominations) is coming back to haunt the Democrats, now that they are in minority status, don't you think?

But the takeaway here is the hopeful sense on Ms. Lithwick's part that the Democrats can do anything to stop any of the nominations. Short of assassination, there is nothing the Democrats can now do to block them, and you only have yourselves, your Democrat leaders of the past, like Harry Reid and Joe Biden, to thank for this utter inability. Your futile belief that President-Elect Trump won't get all or at least almost all of his nominees approved in very quick order, is about to meet the wall of reality. Karma is one tough cookie.

Delusion for Dahlia and the Democrats, I say.

As Duncan Sheik sang decades ago, I know what you're doing, I see it all too clear.

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

 

The Near Uselessness of Empathy

Empathy sucks. Sympathy is what we all should have for people who have had a rough go of it. Let me give you an example.

Somebody feels really sick and then vomits.

If I feel sympathy, I try to comfort the sick individual. I offer to get him or her water or take him or her to the doctor, if necessary. I am very attentive and try to make things better.

If I feel empathy, I vomit too.

How's that help anybody?

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This is Rich

Here is Dahlia Lithwick, who was born in Canada in 1968, calling us Republicans racists for no reason. Yeah, this is just what we need, a lily-white Lefty from the Great White North who never lived a second under the Democrat manufactured and maintained Jim Crow abomination in the Deep South telling us about racism in America. I've forgotten more about the tail end of the Jim Crow period (1961 through 1965) than Ms. Lithwick will ever know. And what I know compared to Senator Jeff Sessions' knowledge here is pretty much a minnow compared to a whale. But let's look anyway at the stupider things she says (and they are numerous).

Sessions assured Graham that being called a racist was “painful,” and almost all of his witnesses in the two panels that testified Wednesday told stories of Sessions as a mentor, boss, colleague, and friend, someone who supported black colleagues and never whispered a racist sentiment. It’s an incredibly sweet and distillate version of political qualifications—the notion that if someone can work, consume Dairy Queen Blizzards, manage others, and never explode in a torrent of racial abuse, he is a civil rights warrior. These stories are entirely beside the point.
As Jamelle Bouie argues, what’s in a man’s heart is immaterial if, as attorney general, he is blind to the systemic and often unconscious bias that infects the lives of women and minorities he is meant to protect with the apparatus of our civil rights laws. And yet Sessions voted against hate crime legislation because, as he put it in 2009, “I’m not sure women or people with different sexual orientations face that kind of discrimination. I just don’t see it.”


OK, fellow Stanford graduate, racism is maintaining invidious discrimination based on a malignant animus against a whole race. A systemic and often unconscious bias against women, if any exists, would not be racism but misogyny. Try to stick to the subject. There is no good word for the hatred of homosexuals, etc. but it's clearly not racism. Sessions has explained his opposition to the stupid hate crime legislation and it is, as usual with him, rational and persuasive to the open minded.

But let's get back to the systemic and often unconscious bias against minorities (again, not exactly racism unless the minority is a race). Is Lithwick saying all Americans have this bias (I only have a Masters in English but I think that's what 'systemic' connotes)? So if I know that things have gotten so much better than they were in the early 60's because I've lived it, seen it as well as read about it, so that I don't agree there is any systemic bias against minorities, am I a racist like Senator Sessions allegedly is? What if I'm right, and race relations had improved from the end of the century of Jim Crow evil so that actual racism is now clearly taboo in our American society? Am I still a racist for disagreeing with Ms. Lithwick and Mr. Bouie? Even if I'm right and they are wrong?

He doesn’t see the impact his 86 out of 87 votes against abortion and other women’s health protections would have on women...


Not racism. (Is abortion "women's health protection"? What if the embryo is a female, as it too often is? Is that female embryo's health protected by an abortion? Seems like Ms. Lithwick went full Democrat meme there without really thinking it through). Moving on.

He doesn’t see...how his vote against taking the language of religious tests out of immigration law would hurt Muslims.


Not racism. Again.

Sessions doesn’t see racial disparity at all, which is, as his character witnesses each concluded, what makes the Democrats’ claims of racism especially corrosive. Of course, not seeing that racism exists is its own sort of blindness. To be determinedly race-blind on principle isn’t racism. But it sure isn’t neutral, especially at the helm of the Justice Department.

So the Democrats call Senator Sessions racist and the people who know him best say he is not in any way a racist and you defend the Democrats' slander by saying he's blind to racism, which you then say isn't racism. Did you miss all the classes teaching logic the philosophy department provided at Stanford? Certainly seems so. It gets worse.

I'll skip the idiocy about retiring the discrimination against Southern States in the Voting Right Act of 1965. Black voter participation in the Deep South has never been higher than in the last three presidential elections. If the racist whites (is it still all whites, Dahlia, even you?) are trying to suppress the black voter down there, they are doing a miserable job of it. I think it's easier to believe that there is no such effort. I'm aware blacks came out in force all over the country to vote for President Obama.

Republicans on the committee believe in the kind of racism that leaves you bloodied and pepper sprayed on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, but not in the sort that asks you to produce a voter ID in 2016, or closes every DMV where you might procure one.


We Republicans believe exactly that for the following reasons: The Democrats' crimes against the black and white advocates for equal civil rights near Selma in 1965 are a historical fact and the alleged "racism" inherent in asking all voters for identification does not actually exist. I think Ms. Lithwick might benefit from seeing this short, documentary.

[Republicans] reject the old-timey racism and still dispute the existence of the subtle, sometimes unconscious, and often systemic bias built into every brick of the prison industrial complex, and every word of our sentencing laws and felon-disenfranchisement statutes.


What? Do the sentencing laws, and statutes about losing civil rights due to felony convictions only apply to one race in America and not to any others? I just checked and these statutes apply equally to all Americans because applying to only one race would violate the 14th Amendment, passed overwhelmingly by Republicans and opposed overwhelmingly by Democrats. The fact that blacks commit more crimes per capita in America than any other racial group is not the result of there being prisons, sentencing laws, or laws regarding lost rights for a felony conviction. I don't know what is causing it, but it's not the laws. All in all, the imaginary systemic racism Ms. Lithwick and her ilk claim exists is so very subtle that it can only be detected by the most sensitive among us, which are the Lefties, of course.

Jeff Sessions will be the next attorney general, and conversations about race and racism will become ever more difficult, especially in public spaces.


You're not having much difficulty talking about it in print at Slate right now (you're just having trouble making any sense). What about Senator Sessions' becoming the Attorney General will make conversations about race and racism more difficult? This is as moronic, baseless statement. But here's the big finish, such as it is.

[Corey Booker*, attention whore] proved that one’s friends and colleagues and co-senators can testify that you have a good heart and a hearty love of Dairy Queen, and still fail to understand that this has almost nothing to do with the architecture of racial injustice our laws must attempt to dismantle.


What "architecture of racial injustice"? The prisons, sentencing laws etc. you wrote stupidly about above?

I think, and I believe this is sound analysis, that racism nowadays affects individuals and not organizations. It is a personal decision to hate or discriminate against or feel, unjustly, superior to a whole race. Of course there are people who think that way, but very, very few of them are Republicans. The Democrats continue to try to expiate the sins of their collective past by pretending the Republicans are now (and probably always were) the bad guys about race in America, and by inventing new forms of racism which don't actually exist.

In order to be able to live with their evil past, the Democrats now say: See, it wasn't just the bad old days when the Democrats exclusively owned slaves and exclusively were members of the Klan and exclusively created laws that created discrimination against blacks; there is just as much racism now as back then and the Republicans are the torch carriers of this racism now that they have magically switched racial animi and animae with the Democrats.

Ms. Lithwick is a fervent practitioner of this sort of delusion.

The takeaway from this terrible opinion piece is that the Left thinks the Right is racist, not because the Right has an invidious racial animus against blacks (they overwhelmingly don't) but because the Right doesn't think like the Left does.


*I met Cory Booker at Stanford about 16 years ago and talked to him for a couple of minutes after he gave a speech. He was a good guy and fun to talk to. But the times change and we change with them.

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Monday, January 09, 2017

 

Meryl Streep

I didn't listen to the speech Meryl Streep gave at the Golden Globes. I didn't watch the presentation show. Who cares about the Golden Globes at all? But on the subject of alienating the viewing audience, I have something to say.

I disagree with the President-elect that Ms. Streep is an overrated actress. She is a very accomplished actress and it's rare someone like her is still getting roles at her advanced age (4 years older than I). Hollywood generally abandons lead women actors after a certain age, like 35. But lately in her career, like since The Hours in 2002, 15 years ago, her movies haven't been that good and they certainly haven't made any appreciable money for the studio/producers.

Generally a movie gets back 55% of the box office. There are sales of DVDs and money for showing a movie on TV; so there is a stream of income even after the movie leaves the theaters. But the budget of the movie generally doesn't include the money spent on advertising the movie. So you really have to double the budget in box office revenue in order to start making a dime. How's that been going?

I didn't research all her movies, just the ones it was possible I would see. Movies like Into the Woods had no chance and are not on the list.

Movie                           Popularity(Rotten Tomatoes)   Budget      Total Box Office (Box Office Mojo)
Ricki & the Flash                   43%                                 $18 Mil       $ 26,822,000

August, Osage County           65%                                 $37 Mil       $ 37,778,000

Lions For Lambs                    47% (27% critics)           $35 Mil       $ 15,002,000

Rendition                                62% (47% critics)           $27.5 Mil    $ 9,736,000

A Prairie Home Companion   59%                                $10 Mil       $ 20,342,000

The Hours                               84%                                $25 Mil       $ 41,675,000

So probably not the smartest career move to tell the huge number of people in America who love football (as I do) and MMA (which I don't) that you think their choice of entertainment sucks. I'm willing to bet the producer/studio executives who were thinking about using her in a movie yet to be made are not that happy with her spoken from the bubble political musings.

But how brave of her to voice her problems with soon to be President Trump! How unpopular her speech must have been with the other Hollywood types and the audience.*

*sarcasm (in case you're too literal)


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The Current Stupidest Commercial

There is a Colgate commercial showing now on TV which does not promote the product (toothpaste) but warns against wasting water.

I am as anti-waste as there is. I am, for example, constantly turning off the lights my office mates have left on, even though the commercial landlord is paying for the electricity.

But the premise of the commercial is stupid on two levels.


First, when water runs down the drain it is not destroyed. We're not turning the water into its component gasses. It's still water. It's water that has flowed through the sewer but it's still water and we'll run it though the water treatment plants and dump it into the nearest river, for us it's the Platte River, where it will eventually flow to the sea (Gulf of Mexico). But along the way it will be useful. It's not gone.

Second, the people the commercial tells us don't have adequate sources of water (less than 10 liters per month, it says) are not going to get a shipment of the American water we've saved by turning off the taps while we brush. Whether we run the tap while we brush our teeth or not (and I do not) the thirsty people around the globe will still not have enough water.

It bugs me that Colgate is trying to make me feel guilty by their crudely manipulative virtue display. Turn off the tap while you brush because it's a good idea to use only what is actually helpful to you. Don't turn if off because people in regions of the world you'll never see haven't provided for their communal water needs sufficiently.

And don't think your wise use of water will help them in the slightest. It won't.

Finally, according to my bill, two and three quarters gallons (10 liters) costs $.007, not even a penny.

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Sunday, January 01, 2017

 

Democrat Slogans

Say what you will about the intellectual ugliness of most posts at Slate, at least Lefties feel safe enough there to say what they really feel. And it is ugly. Take this for example. Money quote:


After Trump’s election, it is more or less impossible to believe that we are making meaningful progress. White liberals who woke up horrified on Nov. 9 weren’t horrified because the world had suddenly changed—we were horrified because the scales had finally fallen from our eyes, and we could at least see our unjust, racist, sexist country for what it is.
I'm no expert at politics, but I continue to think that the election slogan "Vote for us you unjust racist women haters" is not going to be very effective. So keep it up, L.V. Anderson and all of your ilk. You're doing great. Truth to Power! Hate the haters! Power to the people!


Maybe in 8 years there will be another thousand Democrats no longer in elected office.

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Missouri River Type Thoughts

Usually New Year's Day is just another day for me, but for some reason today I'm feeling like the guy in the Anthony Newley song*:


It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new year for us,
And I'm feeling good.




*Slightly paraphrased.




Newely with second wife Joan Collins in the 60s. Lucky bastard.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

 

The Limits of International Law Regarding War

The civilized nations have generally agreed that waging an aggressive war, a war of conquest or genocide, is an international crime. Likewise, we agree that defending one's nation against such a war, that is, waging a defensive war, is not a crime. Some of the conventions have gone on to declare that those waging an aggressive war can never legally obtain new land from the country attacked. OK.

But we have never been able to agree what to do about land gained by a country while waging a defensive war.

Let's look at examples from last century.

The Nazis waged a war of conquest against Poland beginning on September 1, 1939. The Nazis also waged a war for lebensraum against the USSR beginning on June 22, 1941. (Big mistake that). Poland is an easy legal case. They get back all the land the Nazis took and more than that, they get part of East Prussia as a sort of restitution.

The USSR also got part of East Prussia, but they also got more, namely, all the land they liberated from the Nazis with the exception of Austria.

I'm OK with Germany losing land to countries it invaded which countries fought back and eventually won. I'm not OK with the USSR keeping control of the sovereign nations they liberated from Nazi occupation. Obviously, you're punishing the countries invaded by Germany for losing to Germany, not punishing Germany, by allowing the Soviets to remain occupying the countries until there was no USSR any longer. This is so obvious that even as dense a fool as John Kerry could probably grasp it.

So what about Israel?

The Jews helped the Allied powers in WWI against the Ottoman Empire which was allied with the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires, which three were the bad guys. The bad guys lost land and the entities who helped defeat the bad empires were rewarded. The English and a few French troops occupied the middle east after the war but the diplomats of England and France also tried to establish actual sovereign nations out of the former provinces of the Ottoman Empire (just as they created European countries out of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire). The Jews didn't get a lot right then, other than a League of Nations Mandate, but they were busy returning to the homeland the Romans had turned them out of 1800 years earlier, buying up land, and generally sprucing up the place. That's the notorious evil of Zionism. One clear example of a people getting land for helping defeat the Turks was the establishment in 1946 of the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan from the Emirate of Transjordan established in 1921. We'll just call it Jordan now.

During WWII, the Arabs in the middle east, (apparently not the Hashemites, but certainly the Mufti of Jerusalem) threw in with the Nazis. There were Arabs serving in one or more of the three Muslim Waffen SS divisions during the war. The Nazis lost and the Arabs suffered a loss of land for supporting the Nazis.

Part of that loss was the founding of a Jewish state in the British Mandate of Palestine, as it is commonly called after the League of Nations disbanded in utter failure. That took place on May 14, 1948. Immediately, five Arab armies invaded Israel intent on destroying the new country and driving the Jews into the sea. I'm going to call this an aggressive war. The Arabs, to nearly everyone's amazement, lost. But Egypt seized the Gaza strip and Jordan seized the West Bank.

Now according to international law, neither Egypt nor Jordan could legally keep these territories which were prizes from those nations' aggressive war. Moving on.

Another aggressive war by some of the same nations waging the '48 war started June 5, 1967 and again Israel won and took over all of Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank. They also took the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula. They gave the Sinai back to Egypt after a peace treaty. Never give up the Golan!

So, what does Israel have to do with land it acquired fighting a righteous defensive war? Nobody knows. In this particular case, Gaza and the West Bank were illegally occupied by countries who took them in an aggressive war and then lost them in a subsequent aggressive war. But the question, who is the rightful owner of these lands, has no clear answer.

People who tell you that Israel's occupation of the West Bank and of the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem is illegal don't know what they're talking about or are straight up anti-Semites.

In response to Israel's refusal to be wiped off the face of the earth, most Arab nations expelled most of the Jews living within those nations, creating what I call Judenrein territory, which is a Nazi concept. Although some Arabs were kicked off their land in Israel in '48, most left of their own accord confident that the five armies would soon destroy Israel and the Arabs could return to a Judenrein area.

Israel did not kick out all the Arabs living in its UN mandated territory, that is, it did not create an Araberrein territory out of Israel. 20% of Israeli citizens now are of Arab descent and they have full rights and participate fully in the state (except they are not required to serve in the Israeli Defense Force). The Arabs in the West Bank are not Israeli citizens. God alone knows what nation they are citizens of because Palestine is not now and has never been a country.

For some reason I can't understand except to throw my hands up and say anti-Semitism, bitter mental midgets like John Kerry and our current President seem to think that no Israelis can live in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem or on the West Bank. They throw in with the Nazi concept of Judenrein territory. Who wants to be on the side of the Nazis? You can make your own decision about what Israel should do here but I hope it is an informed decision and not merely aping the lefty meme that Israel is bad whatever it does. It's not.

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

 

Neither Schadenfreude Nor Irony*

Here is a headline from the editorial board of USA Today: North Carolina's Republican Sore Losers: Our View.


Republican sore losers.


Beam, mote, eye, perception.


*Non-Alanis Type

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Monday, December 19, 2016

 

Update on the Mood of the Nation

In the week before the November 8, 2016 presidential election, the website Real Clear Politics had the wrong track/right track Direction of the Country poll average for the nation at 62.3 wrong and 31.1 right. That means the wrong track responses were plus 31.2. Today the right is 31.9 (little changed) but the wrong track is way down to 56.7. That means wrong track is plus 24.8.

That's a swing of 8.6 points to the good in just under 7 weeks, a 27.6% healthy change in America's political despair. Each week after the election, on average, Americans have gotten 1.23% more confident in the direction of the country.

I don't think the Russians can take the blame for that change.

You have to give the bulk of it to the President-elect.

Oh, the Electoral College gave Trump 304 votes (two faithless electors in Texas) and so far Clinton has 221 (I think) with the giant 55 votes from California just coming in recently. She's so far had 4 faithless electors in Washington state voting for Colin Powell and Faith Spotted Eagle. So the most she'll get is 228.

304 to 228.

Not a land slide but not very close either.

UPDATE: One elector in Hawaii voted for Bernie Sanders not Hillary 304 to 227 officially.

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