Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Deep Mystery Solved

"They are trying to see that the first president who looks like me fails."

I didn't realize that Obama has boobs and a vagina.

Of course, it does explain that pitiful throw in St. Louis.

All future posts concerning President Obama will feature this picture:

Because it looks so much like him.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Moral Bankruptcy on Display

Ted Kennedy is dead, and liberals everywhere are rushing to praise this "Lion of the Left" and it's making me sick to my stomach.

How skewed do your priorities have to be to praise Ted Kennedy for living a life of privilege and power even after what we all know he did? To refresh your memory, after partying late into the night, a young Ted Kennedy along with passenger Mary Jo Kopechne, drove his car off a pier on Chappaquiddick Island.

While Mary fought to escape the car, Teddy swam away.
While her air grew foul, Teddy consulted with friends and family on how best to "manage" the situation.
While she drowned in misery, Teddy swam across the sound to try and set up an alibi, pretending he'd never been on the island that night.
While her body was trapped in the car all night, Teddy was in his hotel room.

It wasn't until after her body was found that Teddy finally reported the accident. The diver who found her body testified that had Kennedy reported the accident immediately, there was a good chance he could have rescued Miss Kopechne. The inquest determined that Kennedy was negligent and that his negligence was responsible for her death. However, the grand jury was not allowed to hear the results of the inquest, only the DA's summary report, which did not include the inquest's conclusions, and Kennedy never faced manslaughter charges.

Political power and his family name kept Ted Kennedy from paying for the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, and the gaping moral blind spot that seems epidemic among liberals allowed him to continue to work as a Senator in Washington right up until he died yesterday.

And now those same folks are talking about what a great guy Kennedy was, how he supported all the right causes, and always seemed to have his facts in order.

It's too bad he didn't show that same moral clarity and command of the facts the night of July 18, 1969.

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Political Thought in a Nutshell

Modern liberals claim to value the individual above all, yet they subordinate the rights of the individual to the needs of the state at every opportunity. This is called insanity.

Conservatives, on the other hand, value conformity to established norms, yet fight to protect the freedoms of the individual against the encroachment of the state. This is also insanity.

Socialists, like all tyrants, claim to know what is best for you and will do whatever it takes, even kill you, so you can live happily ever after.

Libertarians just want to be left alone with their booze, drugs, guns, and hookers. They aren't real good at governing, but they do throw good parties.

Posted by Rich
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Refuting a Tired Talking Point

The next time some liberal spouts the whole "Obama inherited these problems from the previous administration" garbage, remind the nitwit that:

1) Obama was part of the previous administration for four freaking years. Ask the mental midget to point to any Bush economic initiative or spending bill that Obama opposed. And by "opposed" I mean actually voted against, not just talked about.
2) The Democrats owned the House and the Senate for the final two years. You know the period when everything started collapsing?
3) When Republicans tried to draw attention to the coming real estate collapse, and the deadly instability of Freddie and Fannie policies, they were shouted down and called racists by the very people now trying to blame them for the collapse.
4) Then ask this simple question: "When driving through a minefield, should the driver be facing forward to find the safest path, or looking in the rearview mirror?"

The bottom line is that Obama and his pals didn't inherit this mess; they were right there in the thick of it, causing it.

If you're incapable of handling this particular set of facts, then maybe you ought to trade in your political analyst's hat for a game more suited to your level of intellect. How about "Chutes and Ladders?"

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Simple Method for Determining Whether It’s a Right or a Privilege

Every time I listen to Democrats talk about a "right" to health care, I think of the master swordsman Inigo Montoya who said,
"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

It's apparent that Democrats have no understanding of the word, as they use it to mean whatever issue they happen to support.

Abortion? That's a right.
Forming a Union? That's a right.
Going to school? That's a right.
Silencing those who offend you? That's a right.

Yeah, Dems are real big on the inalienable nature of rights, well, until you get to some that they find a bit too icky.

Like the right to bear arms.
The right to disagree with them.
The right to worship God publicly. Unless your god is allah, in which case, they are ok with it.

Most importantly, in the world of a Democrat, their rights always trump yours.

Their right to feel "comfortable" in public trumps your right to defend yourself.
Their right to indoctrinate your children in their social paradigm trumps your right to raise your children according to your beliefs.
Their right to engineer society trumps your right to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
The rights of the group always trump the rights of the individual, unless that individual is part of a specially protected class.

Or a member of the elite. Right, Senator?

All of this leads to the inescapable conclusion that the left just doesn't know what a right really is. It's not too surprising really, since whether by design or incompetence, we aren't taught a much about what a right is in government schools. Oh, they're really good at telling us about what rights we're given by the government, a statement which instantly demonstrates a total lack of understanding about the nature of rights, but as for the definition or origin of those rights, well, they get a bit vague.

"A right is something that you are given by the government."
"A right is a contract between you and society; as long as you follow society's rules, you can expect society to honor those rights."
"A right is something that can't be taken away from you."
"A right is something you are born with, inherent in your very nature."

That last one is hitting close to the mark, but ultimately fails to really explain anything. I was born with two eyes; that doesn't mean I have a right to see 20/20.

So, how do you define a right? What is it?

Let's try this definition for starters:
A right is an expectation of freedom of action.

It's a bit clunky, but it captures the essence of what I'm talking about. When we talk about having a right to do something, we're saying that we expect that we have the freedom to take action. For example:

"I have a right to my opinion," means that I expect to form and hold an opinion without suffering a negative consequence.
"I have a right to walk in the park," means that I expect to be able to walk through the park without suffering a negative consequence.

So it works, but it doesn't really go far enough. Why do I have that expectation of no negative consequences? Why do I have the expectation of any freedom of action?

As an ethicist, I could claim that "rights" are a useful fiction, used to bolster the dubious proposition that human life has some special value that must be preserved. Similarly, as a political scientist, I could claim that "rights" represent a social contract between society (the group) and the individual and represent nothing more than the degrees of freedom of action the individual refuses to surrender in order to maintain his place in the group. In these two definitions, rights are not absolute, but vary based on cultural priorities. That's a little bit too murky for me; if human rights depend on cultural biases and social contracts, then they really aren't rights as we usually think of them. Instead they are privileges granted to the weak individual by the powerful group. The nature of a right is that it is founded in the individual, not the group. It is a recognition of the inherent autonomy and freedom of the individual. At its heart, a right is nothing more than the self-recognition that the individual ultimately has more worth than the social group it inhabits.

And now we're getting somewhere. A right is the expression of an individual's recognition of his ultimate worth through an expectation of freedom of action.

"I am a being with value to myself, therefore, I expect that I can hold an opinion without fear of negative consequences."

That works. Sure it's a cumbersome definition, but if you think about it, a right is a very complex thing to define. It requires some depth and detail to nail it down.

Now, we often speak about how one person's rights end when they infringe on another person's rights, a saying that indicates an intuitive grasp of the definition we've just derived. But let's look at it a little bit closer, in light of our definition and see just why that statement is true. If my actions restrict the actions of another, then I have violated his rights. Unless we choose to assume that some individuals have more value than others, I have no way to justify my actions. Put generally, if a right is an expression and recognition of the value of an individual, it follows that any action which impinges on the freedom of actions of another individual cannot be a right. So, it seems clear that I have no right to take an action which restricts or impedes another person's rights, unless we have an agreement in place to voluntarily accept restrictions on our rights to foster a group or community.

Do you see the difference between the earlier definitions and this one? In the political science definition, the group held the power to determine the restrictions of rights, in effect destroying the autonomy of the individuals comprising the group. Using the correct definition, the individuals retain their rights, voluntarily restricting the expression of those rights. This difference is crucial to understanding the difference between the progressive, authoritarian approach to government and the conservative libertarian approach.

Let's look at health care for example. Liberals love to claim that access to quality health care is a right, but is it really? In order for everyone to have access to health care, somebody has to provide it. That means that a "right" to health care is going to restrict another individual's rights by forcing them to provide the health care, either by doing the work, or paying for it. By our definition of right, this is an impossibility. Remember, nobody has the right to restrict another individual's rights, except through common agreement. The use of force or coercion to extract that agreement is in itself a violation of their rights.

Obviously, health care cannot be a right, since it imposes a burden upon others who may not be willing to accept that burden. Now this doesn't mean that the group cannot impose that duty as a cost of membership in the group, but that makes health care a privilege of membership, not a right. And that privilege comes with the responsibility to pay the cost associated with it. In a perfect world, it should also come with the ability to opt out of the group if you are not willing to bear the burden or accept the benefit of the privilege, but that is problematic in the real world.

Looked at in this light, we see that a lot of the "rights" claimed by folks on both sides of the aisle are not really rights at all. They are privileges afforded by living in a wealthy, technologically advanced society. Education, housing, food, health care, social security, all of these are privileges, not rights, as each imposes burdens on other individuals with or without their consent.

So the next time you hear somebody spouting off about the "right" to this or that, just ask one simple question. Does it place a burden or restriction on another individual? If the answer is "Yes" then it isn't a right.

It really is that simple.

Posted by Rich
Politics • (1) CommentsPermalink

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Only Difference Between Market Driven Health Care and Government Provided Healthcare

In a market based system, you can buy as much healthcare as you can afford. In a government run model, you get what they give you.


Put another way, in a market system, your access to healthcare is dependent solely on your ability to earn money and the relative priority you set on it. In a government system, your healthcare is dependent solely on who you know in the bureau and your status in the Party. Ask any former resident of the Soviet Union. Better still, ask a Democrat congresscritter why he thinks Congress should be exempted from the plan.

If you support the Health care plan as proposed in the House, even knowing that Congress has made sure that they are exempt from it's requirements and restrictions, even knowing that the President himself has said that he would go outside the plan for care for his family, then you are stupid.

Yes, I mean stupid. Not ignorant, misinformed, or mistaken.


In effect, you are saying that you will allow your representative to bind you to a healthcare system that is inferior to the one he enjoys simply because of his status as an elected representative. You are saying that you are willing to cede control of a large portion of your life to an unelected Washington bureaucrat who faces no accountability for his decisions and is not subject to the same requirements and restrictions he can enforce on you.

There's no other word that fits but stupid.

Yeah, I know, this isn't the way to convince anyone, but let's be honest. If you know that Congress voted down an amendment to place them and their families under this plan, and you still support the plan, then there's really nothing that would convince you to change your mind, right? So why should I bother? You've renounced your status as a citizen and accepted status as a ward of the state, surrendering your autonomy for second tier care, and you're happy with it.

And don't bother trying to tell me how wonderful the care is in Europe and Canada and Cuba; if it was going to be so good, the President and Congress would not exempt themselves from it.

I'm sure government run health care will operate every bit as effectively and efficiently as the various stimulus packages: TARP 1, TARP 2, the auto company bailouts, Cash for Clunkers, etc. To be honest, that is setting the bar fairly low, isn't it?

Posted by Rich
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Health Care Reform Collapse?

You know things are looking bad for the reform package when even the President compares government health care to th Post Office.

Posted by Rich
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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Misdirection by a Master

While Nancy Pelosi complained that folks opposing President Obama's Health Care plan are bringing swastikas to town hall meetings to intimidate Democratic congressmen:

  • Labor union thugs from the SEIUbeat up a conservative black man at a town hall meeting on Thursday

  • More union thugs assault a woman at the same meeting.

  • On Friday, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius told SEIU members to "keep doing what you're doing."

  • A Miami businessman is assaulted while attending a town hall meeting and police threaten him with arrest.

  • The White House encouraged supporters to inform on dissenters

  • The President of the United States talked about silencing conservatives

  • The President's adviser on Medical ethics says that people who don't contribute to society aren't worthy of health care.

I'm not surprised that Nancy is seeing swastikas; she's surrounded by them every day. My only surprise is that she's not snapping off a "Heil" every time she sees one.

Posted by Rich
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Monday, August 03, 2009

Happy Days are Here Again!

The song was recorded in 1929 one month after Black Tuesday, when the stock market, overheated by excessive speculation, collapsed spectacularly. A few months after the collapse, the economy seemed to be righting itself. The stock market had recovered much of it's losses, and businesses were slowly expanding. Unfortunately, the American people were rattled and had no faith in the economy. Despite massive intervention by the federal government, or rather, because of it, consumers lost confidence in the economy, and held on to their money, or used it to pay down debt, rather than spend it on goods. The economy floated along for a few months, then tanked hard in 1931-32.

Does any of this sound familiar?

According to the AP, tax receipts in the US have fallen lower and faster than at any time other than during the Great Depression. To see such dramatic increases, you have to go back to, you guessed it, 1931-32. For this year, personal income tax receipts have fallen 21.9% over the same time period last year. Corporate income tax receipts have fallen 56.9%. Overall, total tax receipts have fallen 17.9%

There's a couple of very important things we need to look at here.

First of all, let's pretend that your boss has just told you that he's cutting your salary by 18%. he goes on to tell you that you'll probably take another pay cut next year, hopefully no more than 7 or 8% or so. You go home to your wife who tells you that she wants to redecorate the house and add on a new home theater to watch NASCAR. Is now really the best time to spend a lot of money you aren't going to have? President Obama does. He's expanding spending faster then the receipts are dropping. Economically, this is like leaning into a punch instead of ducking.

Second, did you notice that total tax collection track with personal income tax collections much more closely than they do with corporate? There's a reason for that. Individual and joint taxes far exceed corporate taxes. What this mean to you and me is that every time President Obama says that he's going to pay for a program by taxing businesses, he's lying through his teeth failing to calibrate his words properly. There's not enough money in corporate taxes to cover his spending plans and he knows it. He will have to come after you, the middle class American taxpayer, whether directly or indirectly, because you are the motherlode of taxable wealth. If all you need is a few billion dollars, tax the millionaires. But when you need trillions, tax the middle class. That's where the real money is.

So yes, the happy days of 1932 are here again indeed and they look to be about as happy as they were the first time around. Except this time, we've traded in Shirley Temple for Paris Hilton.

Posted by Rich
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Texting While Driving May Become a Federal Offense

Proving that there is no detail of your life too small to escape the federal government, Chuck Shumer wants to create a federal ban on texting while driving by penalizing states 25% of their federal highway budgets if they do not pass a texting ban. Ironically, the money that Chucky plans on witholding from the states came from the states in the first place.

Obviously, texting while driving is stupid. Equally obviously, it is a state issue, not a federal one, which is why Sen. Shumer, bless his black corrupt heart, is pulling a little fiscal blackmail to make it happen.

By the way, remember the whole bit in Obama's cap and trade program, the part where he promised to give all of the excess money collected back to the people to try and offset the "skyrocketing" energy bills? How much do you want to bet that in order to qualify for that rebate, you'll have to meet certain criteria laid out by Democrat like Chuck Shumer?

When a thug comes to you and demands that you give him money or bad things will happen to you, it's called extortion. When the federal government does it, it's called Hope and Change.

Posted by Rich
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What Will Obama Do?

Q: Iran has the materials and technical skill to build a nuclear weapon in less than a year. What will Obama do?

A: Apologize to Iran
B: Create a new federal program to prepare for nuclear holocaust
C: Continue to work on Cap and Trade and Healthcare. A man must keep his priorities in order
D: Invite Ayatollah Khamenei and Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House for a beer and a photo-op
E: Wait for his teleprompter to tell him what to do

This is what happens when you elect an unqualified candidate; you get an unqualified disaster.

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Every Dog Has His Day

The singing naked cowboy from Times Square is running for mayor of New York City, proving that sooner or later, every clown runs for political office. The scary thing is that in Minnesota, they actually stand a good chance of winning!

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Simple Question

If the healthcare system proposed by Democrats in Congress is so good, why are they exempting themselves from it while forcing it on the rest of us?

Posted by Rich
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Monday, July 06, 2009

Showing McCain What a REAL Maverick Looks Like

Sarah Palin resigned as governor of Alaska, turning the reins over to her lieutenant over the next few weeks. Democrat and Republican pundits condemned her with equal enthusiasm and vigor, the Democrats because that's what they do, tear people down, and the Republicans because they know the truth.

When the McCain team selected Palin as running mate, they thought they were getting a pretty face and a political stunt worthy of several points in the election. They also thought they were getting a candidate who could shore up McCain's major weakness among Republicans who were still actually conservative. As far as that goes, they were right, but they got a whole lot more. They got a strong minded, independent, truly conservative candidate who won the governor's job not just by beating the Democrat, but by beating the entrenched Republican candidate in the primary. Gov. Palin is not the type to sit by and look pretty and spout soundbites; she had strong views, and stronger opinions, and most importantly, strong support among the voters. I may have pulled the lever for McCain but I was voting for Palin, and I know I'm not the only one.

With the election over, Palin threatened the dinosaurs in the Republican Party almost as much as she threatened the Democrats. So, acting out of their own self interest, they worked to trash her before she could expose them. I've never heard of any political party that turned on one of their own candidates so openly and viciously. And did we ever hear John McCain stand to defend her? Or Michael Steele? What did they have to say when David Letterman made his obscene "jokes?" They said nothing substantive, and there is a simple explanation for their silence. All the lies, the leaks, and the rumors, many attributed to members of John McCain's staff, were sourced and designed to do one thing, to damage her credibility so that the only way she could run would be within the bounds of the Republican Party.

In short, they tried to put a leash on the Barracuda.

They failed.

My prediction is that Sarah Palin will spend the next 18 months raising money and campaigning for solidly conservative Congressmen and Senators. She may work with Republican candidates but I'm betting that she won't be working with the RNC. At the same time, she'll be lining up support for a Presidential campaign in 2012. After the 2010 Congressional elections, she'll evaluate her successes and decide whether a run in 2012 is realistic or not. If not, she'll continue to work to elect more true conservative members of Congress. Regardless, whether she moves in 2012 or 2016, she will announce the formation of a new political party, and those that she helped elect will immediately join her new party. One of Ross Perot's major flaws, other than the fact that he was bug nuts crazy, was that even if elected, he wouldn't have had any support in the Congress. By campaigning for and supporting hand picked candidates, Palin can minimize that problem.

Even if she doesn't form an independent party, you can bet that the candidates she backs will be small government conservatives, and that won't go down well with the Socialist-lite RINOs running the Republican Party.

If nothing else, this should be very entertaining.

Posted by Rich
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Friday, July 03, 2009

Used Car Salesmen Get a Little More Respect

Just last week, I was getting lectured by Thomas Nephew about how the Washington Post wasn't really in bed with the Obama Administration; it just looked that way because the WaPo sucked up to whoever was in power.

Yeah, right.

Show me where the WaPo sold access to "the powerful few" White House officials during the Bush Administration.

The scariest/saddest part of this whole thing isn't that the Washington Post tried to profit off their access to the White House, but that they thought they could do so openly and nobody would care.

I guess we've finally found a class of human with lower ethics than paid lobbyists: newspaper editors and publishers.

Posted by Rich
Politics • (3) CommentsPermalink

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