Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

Thursday, August 31, 2006

I Met a Celebrity!

I was coming back from Chattanooga and I decided to stop off in West Knoxville at Coal Creek Armory to look at getting neat stuff for my Ruger 10/22. I want to make it look like it's really nasty and scary, instead of a harmless little plinker.

Anyway, when I went in, I talked to a couple of the people there, including the famous Tam herself. We talked for a few minutes about people we both knew from shooting and blogging. (It's amazing how often the two activities are linked, a fact which would be vaguely alarming if I weren't a part of it.) But it wasn't until after I left the store that I realized that I knew her from somewhere else.

The memory was kind of hazy, and I couldn't really be positive if it was her or not, because I was understandably excited at the time, but I'm pretty sure I lost my virginity to her a few years back.

Posted by Rich
Personal • (2) Comments • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

A Reality Check Bounces

I've been looking through the comments that try to define liberalism and conservatism, and I noticed something very interesting.

When many libs talk about conservatives, they say things like:
  • Conservatives are for torture
  • Conservatives repress civil rights
  • Conservatives are against minority rights
  • Conservatives are against women's rights
  • Conservatives are against religious freedom
  • Conservatives favor security over liberty

All of which is kind of strange when you think about it, because conservatives are supporting a war to remove a regime which featured each and every one of the above, while liberals were and are for the most part against it.

There appears to be a fundamental disconnect here.

Posted by Rich
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Defining Political Ideologies:  Follow Up

I'm still working on getting definitions from a liberal and a conservative. On the liberal side, R. Neal and egalia both politely declined to participate (although R. Neal did post the Webster's definitions over at Uncle's place in the comments section), and on the conservative side, Bill Hobbs didn't respond to my email at all. I've got more invitations out, but if I don't get a response soon, I'll go ahead and give my definitions. While we wait, feel free to leave your own definitions.

Try to stay away from lists of positions on topics. I'm not looking for where you stand on the issues, but why you stand there. What are the common threads that compel you to stand where you do?

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

It wasn’t Just the Levees that Failed.

Now I'm going to take some heat for pointing this out, but can you think of any other instance in American history where so many people were so totally helpless? We've had massive storms and flooding before. The Mississippi floods several years back springs to mind. And every few years we get massive blizzards that isolate folks in the northern states for days, even weeks. The Northridge and Loma Prieta earthquakes in California caused incredible amounts of damage and disrupted infrastructure for months.

And in none of these cases did we see the helplessness on the part of the citizens and incompetence on the part of the local government that we saw in New Orleans. So, why the difference?

I have a theory.

It's the corrosive nature of the entitlement mentality. When you expect your government to take care of your every need, you slowly lose all initiative. You stop trying to do for yourself because it's easier to let somebody else do it for you. And if that somebody else falls apart, as happened during and after Katrina, you're totally helpless.

I know, I know, I'm blaming the victims, how could I be so hard hearted and cruel, don't I have any compassion at all?

Yes, I do. But I know that if I lived in New Orleans, and there was a mud filled derelict car in my yard left over from a hurricane that went through a year ago, I'd find a way to move it. And I'd probably help out my neighbors with the cars in their yards. Instead of waiting for the city government to come up with a plan to move thousands of cars, I'd take care of the ones around me. That's how things get done, by people taking care of themselves.

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Racism or Realism?  You Make the Call!

MowTShirt.jpgMy daughter is mad at me because I find this T-Shirt directly on point as a satirical comment on the current immigration mess. My daughter believes that the shirt is racist.

Before we answer that question, let me ask another one. If the image was of a white man over the Mexican flag, would that be racist?

The answer is obviously "yes". It would imply that Mexicans are a subject race, good only for manual labor. It implies ownership, and would be extremely offensive.

But the image here is of Vincente Fox, Mexico's President, and that makes a huge difference.

Here's the thing; it's beyond argument that the primary factor leading to Mexican poverty is governmental corruption, incompetence, and mismanagement. It's also beyond argument that the Mexican government is acting to facilitate illegal immigration into America. They've published multiple guides for their citizens that not only give tips to those crossing on how to avoid border guards and patrols, but how to avoid immigration agents once in the country while obtaining benefits both legally and illegally. The Yucatan government published a guide almost 100 pages long, giving detailed advice on how to cross, where to cross, how to avoid INS while in the US, how to get a driver's license and obtain services. In short, it is a detailed guide on how to be an illegal immigrant. The Mexican government has also established community groups in the US to advocate for increased benefits for illegal aliens, such as in-state tuition for illegals at US universities.

So, given that the Mexican government would rather outsource its problems by sending thousands of illegals across our borders every year rather than take the steps needed to grow an economy at home, I think the T-shirt is perfectly appropriate. It skewers Vincente Fox, showing him to be just as arrogant as Marie "Let them eat cake" Antoinette.

Now, what do y'all think? Is it racism, or satire?

Posted by Rich
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Monday, August 28, 2006

The Emmy Brouhaha

So, did anybody actually watch the Emmy's Sunday night?

Neither did I.

But I did hear this morning about all the people who were offended that the show opened with a parody plane crash tied to the TV show Lost. Apparently some folks in Kentucky felt it was in bad taste since they had a plane crash that killed 49 people that very morning.

You know, they have a point. It is kind of offensive. So I started thinking about all the other potentially offensive things we should remove from TV.

  • People die in car crashed every day, and seeing one on TV would certainly hurt the surviving family members, so let's remove all car crashes and chases from every movie and TV show. And commercial for that matter.
  • No more detective shows featuring murder and rape.
  • No more CSI shows either.
  • No more hospital shows, which might offend those who have been in a hospital
  • No more competitive sports, because the violence might offend the pacifists, and the fact that somebody loses might offend all the losers in the viewing audience.
  • No more Jerry Springer (Not necessarily a bad thing.)
  • No more Oprah (Ditto)
  • No more beer commercials, because they might offend the non drinkers, and besides, they prominently feature pretty women, and that's a big no-no.
  • Feminine hygiene product ads will be allowed because nobody could be offended talking about extra heavy menstrual flows during dinner, right?
  • No religious programming at all.
  • No more sitcoms, unless every joke is targeted at Southern, white, conservative, Christian males, because they deserve it.
  • No more reality shows. No, I'm serious on this one. No more. For the love of all that's holy, no more!
  • No home shopping shows, which might offend the poor.
  • No more makeover shows, that might offend the poor and ugly.

So, after we've cleansed television of all the offensive content, what are we left with?

Sunday morning political talk shows and ads for feminine hygiene products, AKA douche ads and douche bags.

Killer lineup, eh?

And if I haven't offended enough folks yet, let's go further. To all of you people who were offended by the opening of the Emmy's, do you really think anybody who lost a family member on that flight was actually watching?

"Uncle Fred is dead; I don't know how I can go on. Oh look! The Emmy's are on!"


Or do you think that maybe somehow, over the course of a 10 hour day, they managed to forget all about the crash until they saw the opening of the Emmy's?

Again, please!

I have the deepest sympathy for those who lost somebody in that crash. I have the deepest contempt for those who are trying to use that tragedy to manufacture outrage and headlines.

Posted by Rich
Humor2 • (1) Comments • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Hurricane Forecast for 2007

From NOA Weather Agency:

Emergency Dispatch to all wre services.

There will be 47 named storms next season consisting of 38 hurricanes, 12 of which will be Catagory 5. All 47 storms will take direct aim at New Orleans.

This forecast will be revised as necessary to conform with reality, but for now, we just want to scare the pants off everybody.

Posted by Rich
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Paleolibertarianism: Part 1.  Defined

Since I challenged liberals to define liberalism and conservatives to define conservatism, it's my job to set the stage by defining my beliefs. Now I don't expect the rest of you to go into this much detail, but I want to show the steps I took along the way, and why I think that what I'm calling Paleolibertarianism is the founding ideology of America, and why I think we need to get back to it. At this point, I don't know how many parts there will be; the research is ongoing. Feel free to comment here, or link and discuss at your place. But since this is a work in progress, I probably won't be able to answer any of your critiques right away.

My personal political philosophy can be summed up in a couple of short statements, but their foundations and implications stretch a lot further than is immediately obvious.
  1. The role of the government is to protect us from each other, not ourselves. That's the difference between being a citizen and a subject.
  2. The government will be assigned specific, limited, tasks to carry out its role. Those tasks cannot be expanded by the government, only by the citizens.
  3. The power of the government to carry out its assigned tasks is strictly limited to that which is ceded by its citizens.

I call this Paleolibertarianism because it emphasizes the liberty of the citizens over the power of the State, and because I believe that this was the philosophy embraced by the Founders.

So, that's the defined part. Easy enough, right? But how about the justification? Well, that might take a bit more time. But it should be interesting.

If we look at America like any other organization, say a business, or a charitable organization, and we wanted to know what the organization was all about, we would need to see two different documents. The first is a statement of purpose, a mission statement, or a statement of organizing principles. This document lays out the founding principles of the organization, and lets us know what it is intending to do and why. The second document would be the operating procedures of the organization. This document let's us know how the organization plans to achieve its mission statement. Any effective, healthy organization will have both of these items, and they will dovetail neatly. An organization that operates in accordance with its Operating Principles is on the right track to achieving its Mission Statement, unless of course the Operating Principles do not promote the Mission, through error of analysis or implementation. On the other hand, an organization that abandons its Operating Principles will not operate consistently to achieve its Mission Statement, except accidentally. An organization that abandons its Mission Statement will no longer have any reason to maintain its operating principles, and will begin to stray from them, and eventually fail.

For America, the Declaration of Independence is our Mission Statement. It tells us what we plan to do and why it's the right thing to do. The Constitution is our Manual of Standard Operating Principles. It tells us how we are going to carry out the Mission Statement. It is the contract where we give the government the power to do the jobs we told it to do, and in return, the government promises to fulfill those functions and no others!

That second part hasn't worked out so well, has it?

Now, from the above discussion, it should be clear that any attempt to derive an American political ideology must begin with the Mission Statement and the Operating Principles, so what are they, and what do they have to tell us? We'll discuss that in the next section.

Posted by Rich
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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Two Things You Never Thought You’d See Together

"Professional Bull Riding" and "Chihuahua Challenge"

Posted by Rich
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Just a Reminder

  • UNIFIL forces have not been augmented in Lebanon to any meaningful degree.
  • The Lebanese Army does not have control of Southern Lebanon.
  • Hezbollah has not, nor are they planning to disarm.
  • Syria has worked to block deployment of the Lebanese Army into Southern Lebanon.
  • Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev are still "guests" of Hezbollah, somewhere in Lebanon.

In short, neither Lebanon nor Hezbollah has managed to keep any of the provisions of the cease fire.

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Defining Political Ideologies:  A Cop Out

Not gonna do it.

Wouldn't be prudent.

At this juncture.

But I've got a really good excuse, and an even better idea.

Here's the thing. Howie asked me to define liberalism and conservatism. I thought that would be a good idea for a post, and told him I would do it. However, the more I wrote, the uneasier I felt, and I couldn't figure out why.

I stopped writing, and started thinking, something I usually avoid at all costs because it tends to make my writing dull and lifeless. Why did I feelbad writing about my definition of liberalism?

Eventually it hit me; I'm not the right person to define liberalism, at least its modern incarnation, because I see it as a fundamentally flawed ideology. At it's heart, liberalism is based on the idea that we are owed a certain standard of living based solely on the fact that we have a pulse. Science tells us that this simply is not so, that life has no money back guarantees of safety, security, or prosperity.

I see modern liberalism as an attempt to deny that basic truth.

So how could I do justice to a definition of it?

I'm also gong to beg off of defining conservatism, for similar reasons. Modern conservatism, at least as defined by the Republican Party, has strayed from its roots just as far as modern liberalism has. Just as an example, can anybody claim that the Republican party represents small government anymore?

So here is what I intend to do.

First, I'm opening up the comments section to all of you to post your definitions of liberal and conservative. Tell me and howie how you would define the terms. In your oomments, please identify how you describe yourself.

Second, I'm going to invite two bloggers, one conservative and one liberal, to define their ideologies, and I'll post their definitions here in a future post. I'm going to let a true conservative and a true liberal to speak for themselves, rather than attempt to speak for them.

Finally, I'm going to define my own political ideology, which tends towards libertarianism, without some of the lunacy spouted by the "big L" libertarians.

Through this approach, I think howie will get a much better set of working definitions, and we all might learn a little something about the folks on the other side.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Democratic Party Is So Moving to the Left!

This is a copy of my reply to R. Neal over at Michael's place. Mike linked my post here, and Randy responded that the Dems were not either moving to the left and it was all a Rovian plot. I responded as follows, but the KNS website filtered out the links to the quotes. So here it is again, links intact.

OK, first a correction. I am not predicting a Republican victory in 2008; all I am saying is that if the Reps win, based on a more centrist strategy, then that would indicate a moderate majority, and end the idea that we are deeply divided. A Dem win would indicate the opposite, that a moderate majority does not exist.

Now, on to Randy's argument.

Are you seriously trying to suggest that the Democratic Party is not shifting to the left? (By the way, follow the link, read the post, and you won't have to assume anything. I spell it out.) You are truly a lone voice crying out in the wilderness if that is what you are saying.

I cannot predict how a message of contrast and confrontation will affect the unaffiliated moderates in the electorate but I think the Democrats must at least try it. The strategy of blurring differences has not worked for us in this partisan era and we need to try something new.

Atrios explaining why the Democratic Party must move to the left, and why he believes moderates will move with it.
The politics side has to do with a a Democratic party in which all the leading Democrats are forever running against their own party. Triangulation can work for one man, but when every leading Democrat is constantly falling all over themselves (yes, this is exaggeration) to distance themselves from Those Damn Dirty Democrats, you have a party which is without foundation and where capitulation is confused with bipartisanship.

Atrios again, offering his opinion of a centrist presidential ticket ie McCain Lieberman
One really has to wonder about the people who keep advocating a "unity" presidential ticket. Aside from the generally absurd notions of what a supermajority supported political center really is, it's an obscenely authoritarian elitist notion.

Josh Marshall, explaining why he is less moderate these days
In any case, this is all a way of saying that in this all-or-nothing crisis the country has been passing through, I think it's made sense to line up with those who say, No. I guess I'm one of those partisanized moderates Kevin Drum has spoken of (not sure that's precisely the phrase he used.)'s Eli Pariser, on why moderation is no longer a good idea:
Originally employed as a survival strategy by a Democratic president in the wake of 1994's Republican revolution, the policy of seizing the political middle ground no longer makes sense...

There are more, many more, but you get the point. The perception that the Democratic Party is moving to the left is not some deception born of Karl Rove; it is the successful result of an intentional effort by members of the Party dissatisfied with Clintonian triangulation.

It might even work.

I'm kind of curious though. Why would Randy, along with many other Democrats, resist admitting what is obviously happening within their party, even when it is something they desperately hoped for? I can remember how SKB used to rant on his old blog about how moderate Democrats were the bane of a truly progressive party, and his opinions would be amplified by many of his usual commenters. Heck, just ask some of our own RTB members who are moderately liberal what kind of reception they used to get from SKB. Some of them were cussed worse than I was.

So why the pretense that there's nothing going on here, move along, nothing to see? Could it be that some are still afraid that honest open liberalism is a recipe for defeat at the polls?

Posted by Rich
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So the left tells me that George Allen is a certifiable idiot, but has a complete grasp of North African racial slurs.

What a pile of kaka.

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Text of the Resolution

Here's the complete text of the resolution, from the BBC.

I've read elsewhere that this thing is DOA, but now that I've read it, I realize it was stillborn.

It explicitly calls for Hezbollah to disarm, and also includes language that requires the only those authorized by the Lebanese government may remain armed.

I'm not sure how they got that included, but that means that Saniora is being given one chance, and one chance only to clean house. If he doesn't get the job done, then by the terms of this resolution, the UN will have recognized that Hezbollah is the true government of Lebanon. The next time a rocket flies, it will be coming from a recognized agent of the Lebanese government, and not a "state within a state"

In that event, there will be nothing left to hold back Israel.

Posted by Rich
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Mostly Moderate or Bitterly Bifurcated? (Or Deeply Divided, if you don’t like them fancy words.)

We may soon find out which it is.

After the last 3 election cycles, pundits have disagreed about what the results mean. Some say the close elections indicate that the nation is struggling with a deep divide, Red State vs Blue State. They point to the increasingly harsh political rhetoric, the lack of co-operation between the parties in the House and Senate, and the increasing number of strictly party line votes in those bodies.

Other take a different view, claiming that, rather than a deep ideological division, the narrow elections signal that most Americans are politically moderate. People in this camp point to the actual voting results that show the country in shades of purple, rather than Red and Blue, and to the bi-partisan support for things like the education bill, the Patriot Act and its renewal, and Campaign Finance Reform.

So who is right? Well, we just may get an answer in 2008. So far anyway, the fringe on both sides of the political fence are screaming that the world is doomed unless their party stops toying with moderates, and elects strongly partisan candidates. The difference is that Democrats appear to be listening to their moonbats, while the Republicans are largely ignoring their wingnuts.

For example, the fringe netroots are taking credit for costing Joe Lieberman the Democratic nomination for the Senate. And if you listen to them, they plan on carrying out a purge, to rid the Democratic Party of any moderate voices. The Democratic Party is undergoing a makeover, to become the party of Dean, Sharpton, and Moore.

On the other side of the aisle, look who the Republicans are touting as their candidates. McCain and Giuliani appear to be the front runners, and very few people, with the exception of the aforementioned moonbats, would call either of those gentleman extremely conservative. In fact, much of the conservative blogosphere are complaining that the candidates aren't true conservatives at all.

So we have a situation where one party, heeding the call of its extreme wing, is moving further away from the political center, while the other is ignoring the calls from its base, and cleaving to the center. So, if the country as a whole is moderate, we should see another Republican presidency in 2008. If the country is deeply divided, we'll have a Democrat for a president.

An early predictor will be Lieberman's independent candidacy. If he wins in Nov, watch for the Dems to do some very hasty repackaging.

Posted by Rich
Politics • (2) Comments • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

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