Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Weird Headline for Obama

Here's the headline:

Obama aligns foreign policy with GOP

Wow. Does this mean that Barack has changed his mind and now supports the war in Iraq?

Nope. That's not the GOP AP writer Devlin Barrett is talking about. From the article:

Sen. Barack Obama said Friday he would return the country to the more "traditional" foreign policy efforts of past presidents, such as George H.W. Bush, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.

At a town hall event at a local high school gymnasium, Obama praised George H.W. Bush — father of the president — for the way he handled the Persian Gulf War: with a large coalition and carefully defined objectives.

OK, now it makes sense. He agrees with the pre-9/11 GOP position. 9/11 didn't really happen, or to be more accurate, it happened, but it didn't really change anything. We should still be reactive to terrorists rather than proactive. We should only act when the majority of the world agrees with our actions.

I'll say one thing for Obama, he is accomplishing what I once thought was impossible; he's making it easier for me to pull the lever for McCain.

Posted by Rich
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Larry the Cable Guy’s Secret Sex Tape

OK, not really, but the truth is even worse.

Here's a clip of Dan Whitney, the man who would become Larry, before he decided to mock all things redneck for fun and profit.

I feel like I just told my kids there's no Santa Claus.

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Time to Step Out of Character

For no particular reason, other than I like the song, and it's something I promised myself I'd do one day.

I now present the vocal stylings of yours truly.

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Knox County Commission Strategery

While Michael reacts with stunned disbelief and outrage to the story that 4 Knox County Commissioners, including two of the newly appointed ones, admit to having private discussions about public business, I'm not surprised at all.

While the trial was going on, I talked to a couple of the commissioners, and even though the actual law in question only prohibits private deliberation and decisions.I heard more than once that if they lost, they said would feel prohibited from having any discussions in private. At the time, I felt that was something of a childish attitude to take, but it turns out that there may be something less than childish going on.

In the story I linked, County Law Director John Owings is quoted as saying that
"The court has really gone beyond deliberation." The law prohibits private "deliberation" by members of the same body, but Owings said, "This body is enjoined from discussing any topic or any matter that may come up in the future."

A quick reading of the actual decision shows that once again, Mr. Owings gets it wrong.

In accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. §8-44-106(c) the Knox County Commission and its members are permanently enjoined from further violation of Tenn. Code Ann. §8-44-101, et. seq.. More precisely the Knox County Commission and its members are enjoined from engaging in any chance meetings, informal assemblages or electronic communications consisting of, or between, two or more members of the Knox County Commission for purposes of deciding or deliberating public business in circumvention of the spirit or requirements of the Open Meetings Act.

The Chancellor's decision enjoined them from violating the law, nothing more. So why does Mr. Owings act like Fansler placed an impossible burden on the County Commission? Let's dig a bit deeper into the decision.

Generally, inquiries by individuals to a public entity as to when the entity would meet to act upon a particular matter do not constitute a violation. Southern Valley Grain Dealers Assoc. v. Board Of County Commissioners, 257 N.W.2d 425 (N. Dak. 1977). An individual member of a public body would not violate the law by communicating items to be added to the agenda to the person in charge of assembling the agenda and sending copies to other members. Schwing, supra, §6.86.
However, when the discussion regarding the time and place of the meeting or the agenda to be established, goes beyond such purely procedural issues, then the Open Meetings Act may be violated. It is substantive issues that are covered by the Open Meetings Act. Once the discussion goes beyond the purely procedural matters of when to conduct the meeting and delves into a discussion of the merits of substantive issues then the requirements of the act are invoked.

In other words, according to the decision, Commissioners DeFreese and Pinkston were not in violation of the Open Meetings Act or the injunction when they discussed the appropriate time for a meeting.

So why is Owings acting like they were?

Anybody remember when you were kid, and your parents had a rule you didn't like, so you followed it to the letter, using no common sense at all, just to drive them nuts, and get the rule lifted?

Yeah, me too.

It may be that some folks on the County Commission believe they can achieve the same thing with the Open Meetings Act.

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, March 20, 2008

The American Dream is Not Dead; It Just Speaks Spanish Now

Paraphrasing Mark Twain, reports of the death of The American Dream™ are greatly exaggerated.

Despite the doom and gloom we're hearing on the nightly news (and isn't it odd how it's always the other guy's doom and gloom?) there are still plenty of people, a vast majority of people, who are still doing ok.

Some, even better than ok.

My oldest daughter is engaged to a young man who came here from Mexico with nothing but the shirt on his back, and through a strange set of circumstance too long and embarrassing to go into here, he soon didn't even have that. Broke, homeless, a non English speaker, and here illegally, lacking even shirt sleeves to roll up, he went to work.

He took whatever jobs he could get, saved his money, and worked his butt off. Two, three jobs at a time, he worked his way across the country until he arrived in Alabama, where he joined others of his family. He continued to work hard, clocking in a total of 65-75 hour weeks, all the time saving money. Eventually, he bought a truck. Then he bought a mobile home and instead of moving in, he stayed in a cramped double wide with his family and rented out the mobile home. He traded in his truck for a nicer one. Then he bought another mobile home, and moved into it with my daughter.

All of this time, he worked his tail end off, trying to build something he couldn't have had back in Mexico, a solid life.

And because he worked hard, and smart, and had the support of his family around him, he is succeeding. Just don't call him "lucky." Luck had nothing to do with it. Endless hours of hard work coupled with initiative, patience, common sense, and iron self control brought his to where he is.

Every time I hear somebody complaining about how it is impossible to get ahead in this country, that "the man" is keeping them down, that "the rich" are taking everything away from everybody else, what I really hear is the crying of a spoiled baby who never got over mommy taking the tit away and wanting the gov't to replace it. The American Dream was never about having success delivered to you without effort. It was never about a guarantee of success. It wasn't even about that house with a white picket fence and two cars in the garage.

The American Dream was always about the opportunity to improve your life through your own efforts. And friends and neighbors, we can only appreciate something if we've had to work for it. If it's a gift, it has no value. To put it in terms the young folks can understand, when Paula tells you that you did great on American Idol, it means almost nothing. She tells everyone that. But if Simon tells you that you're a star, buddy, you believe it. Why? Because you had to earn it. Simon doesn't care about your "feelings." He's not worried about your self esteem. All he cares about is whether you knock his socks off with your performance.

His praise has value because you have to earn it.

The value of achievement is the bedrock of the American Dream. And it is that sense of value that is under constant attack, cheapened and dissolved by every federal giveaway program instituted over the last 5 decades. Those of us raised under the pervasive nanny state that is Washington DC no longer value achievement as highly because most of us have never had to work for it. We've had it handed to us, either by the gov't, or by our parents. And we want more. Now it's universal health care that we want. We want the federal givernment (no, that's not a typo) to take care of us, instead of being willing and able to take care of ourselves.

That's why so many American's are failing to live the dream. That's why so many say the dream is dead. It's not because it's no longer possible; it's because most of us have forgotten that it takes hard work to achieve it. How many of us think that we could do what this young man has done? How many of us think that we could move to a foreign land, carrying nothing but the clothes on our back, and work our way up to prosperity? How many of us are willing to work long hard hours day after day, denying our impulsive purchases in order to save for the future?

It's not 'the man' or 'the wealthy' that are keeping us down.

It's ourselves and the choices we make.

Work hard; make good choices; exercise self discipline, and act with initiative.

Just ask Gustavo. Or his brothers.

Posted by Rich
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The Company You Keep

Barack "Don't use my middle name" Obama has a problem and it goes much deeper than his middle name.

He doesn't want people using his middle name because of its negative connotations, yet look at the people he surrounds himself with. His spiritual father, a man who Obama himself says has become a part of his family, spouts some of the most hateful rhetoric I've heard; "God D--n America!" He's accused the US government of creating the AIDS virus as a genocidal weapon. He's referred to Zionism as white racism.

And Barack stands by him.

Oh sure, in his speech the other day, he repudiated what Wright said, but he still stood by the man himself. I'd believe that Obama was sincere in his repudiation, except...

Ms. Obama espoused some similar sentiments, didn't she? She claimed she'd never been proud of America until her husband began his run for the White House, presumably because of lingering racism.

Here's the thing. The more we know about the people around Sen. Obama, the harder it is to dismiss the idea that maybe, just maybe, he quietly holds feelings and ideas similar to those the people he chooses to have around him espouse openly.

Birds of a feather, don'tcha know.

So Obama's problems are not on account of his middle name; his problems are coming from the actions of the people he chose to be part of his life.

Incidentally, charges of white oppression coming from a couple who made just under a million dollars in 2006, who both graduated from Ivy League colleges, who both hold law degrees from Harvard, and who both hold or have held positions in government, is just a bit hard to swallow.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Chasm Grows Ever Deeper

katie notes that there is now a bracket group for liberal Tennessee bloggers up at yahoo. The following is my response:

w/ apologies to Tom Hanks
Politics! In Basketball? There's no politics in basketball. There's no politics in basketball!

Running separate brackets for liberals and conservatives would be like holding separate Blogfests for liberals and...oh wait.

Carry on.

So, in the latest, and almost certainly futile attempt to bridge the deep divide between left and right, I announce the next BlogFest. We will be festing on Saturday, April 5th, starting at 6PM at a location to be named later.

One that allows children.

And childish behavior.

So Barry can come and stay this time.

I'm thinking maybe at Borders by West Town.

Any other ideas?

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Mrs Spitzer, Take a Bow

I was listening to Knoxville's best early morning political talk show, the Marc and Kim & Frank Show on Star 102.1 on my way into work this morning, and Marc and Teersa Smith were talking about how uncool it was for Governor Eliot Spitzer to drag his wife out onto the podium with him to try and present an image of unity and forgiveness. They thought it was tacky, and reeked of manipulation, and one of hem mentioned that it was clear that he valued his political career over his family life. Local blogger Cathy echoed their thoughts, saying
Do you think making the person you have deceived and hurt the most stand beside you for press conferences makes people think you should be forgiven?

I'm sorry but I have to take issue with all of these fine people. As near as I can tell, Silda Spitzer is unmarked, unbruised, and unshackled. Nobody made her stand there next to her husband. She chose to be there for her own reasons. Here's a question for the ladies in the audience. If your husband cheated on you with a prostitute and got caught, could anything make you stand by him in front of all those cameras?

Yep,that's what I thought. So why are you so quick to believe that Mrs Spitzer is being forced to stand by Eliot?

She, and other political wives before her (cf Hillary Clinton) stand by their wayward men for their own good reasons. I'll leave those reasons alone for now, but I'm betting they are based in no small part on the qualities that brought them together in the first place.

Incidentally, for the good folks who can't understand why Spitzer would want to mess with a prostitute when he has a very attractive wife, you're missing the whole point of prostitution. Men aren't paying the women for the sex; they are paying them to go away afterward.

Posted by Rich
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Monday, March 10, 2008

Elliot Makes a Mess; Hillary Cleans It Up.  Why Does This Sound So Familiar?

(Alternate Post Title: Elliot's Mess: The High Price of Not Being Untouchable.)

At last, we're finally getting to see Hillary demonstrate the skills she learned during 8 years as co-president.

Ok, back to the subject at hand.

$5500 an hour?

I'm in the wrong business. I want to print up a T-Shirt that says "GW Bush (or Bill Clinton; I'm not picky) screwed me for eight years and all I got was $600!"

As a libertarian, I use the same position with prostitutes (pardon the pun) as pro-choice folks do with abortion: I want to see laws passed that make it safe, legal, and rare.

As a small government supporter I wondered how Spitzer could afford $5500 an hour. But, according to his wife, even at those rates, he probably only needed $2.93.

Including the tip.

200705152005.jpg According to Fresh Intelligence, Hillary has already scrubbed her website of all references to Spitzer's endorsement of her presidential aspirations. Based on this link, dated the day after she received his endorsement, that claim is not entirely accurate, although it is certainly true that Hillary's endorsement page is conspicuously lacking a reference to Spitzer's endorsement from May 14, pictures here.

All silliness aside, it will be interesting to see if the same folks who screamed to the high heavens about Larry Craig's hypocrisy will scream just as loudly over Elliot Spitzer.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

And You Thought Your Vote Counted!

Let's talk about Superdelegates for a moment.

Primaries and caucuses, the place where you, the voter, get to show your preference for the next candidate for the presidency, are only part of the candidate selection process. In order to win the nomination, the Democrat candidate must win a total of 2025 delegates. Superdelegates are folks who get to go and vote at the convention without being elected by the ordinary voter, and the Democrats have 721 of the little buggers.

Think about that for a second. 35.6% of the delegates needed to get the party nomination are answerable not to the people, but only to themselves.

Or the folks who paid good money to get them their superdelegate status.

35.6% That means there's 1 of them for every two delegates elected by the people. So in a way, if you're a Democrat, you only get 2/3's of a vote.

Why, that's positively unAmerican, diluting the people's voice like that. It's a good thing that the Republican Party doesn't stand for that kind of nonsense. They only give 463 delegates, or 36.8% of the total needed, the power to vote as they please, instead of according to the people's wishes.

Wait, that's about the same as the Democrats. You mean to tell me that the Republican Party is every bit as corrupt and incompetent as the Democrats?

Say it ain't so!

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

It’s Official

Small government libertarians who believe in a strong defense have no candidate to vote for. I get to choose between voting for the big government tax raising strong on defense candidate or the big government tax raising weak on defense candidate.

Some choice, eh?

Posted by Rich
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Sunday, March 02, 2008

We Want to Encourage Protest, as Long as It Causes No Inconvenience.

Kids paid for lunch with pennies to protest the short lunch period. In return, the school administrators gave the students 2 days detention for causing a disturbance and disrespecting the cafeteria staff.

Apparently, the cafeteria workers felt disrespected by having to count pennies.

Allow me to show them true disrespect, so in the future, they may know the difference.

"Ladies, had you stayed in school and gotten an education, your self respect might not be so fragile."

Ok, that is disrespect.

As I see it, the kids conducted a legal transaction using legal currency, and for that, they are getting punished.

Yes, it inconvenienced the cafeteria workers, and the other students who didn't have time to eat, but then again, wasn't the point of the protest to point out how short the lunch periods were? Just how effective is a protest that doesn't inconvenience anyone? If you create a protest that can be ignored, it will be ignored. The whole point of a protest is to draw attention to a problem and the kids certainly did that.

And had they broken school rules during that protest, then they should be punished. But they broke no rules.

This is a pretty clear case of a school administration getting caught by surprise and lashing out at the kids responsible for embarrassing him.

Had it been my child, and the school had tried to discipline them for paying in pennies, I'd have been in the office the next morning, paying every one of the school fees in pennies and demanding a receipt.

Incidentally, here's the funniest line in the whole story:

Each student brought in 200 pennies. Multiply that by 29 you get close to 5,800 pennies.

Only close?

Apparently basic competency in math is not required at UC Santa Barbara or the Columbia University Masters Program for Journalism.

Posted by Rich
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