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Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Review: Top Ten Protectors of Liberty

The year started out with high hopes for everyone who loves liberty and despises oppression. It will end pretty much as last year ended -- oppression is more prevalent than freedom, and individual liberty seems to be disappearing fast.

With that, the Reality-Based Libertarianism Top Ten Protectors of Liberty:

1. Zanaib Ahmed, Bahrain: After following her story via Twitter I was one of the first Americans to interview her (An Interview With A Bahraini Revolutionary - March 6, 2011). Members of her family have been imprisoned, she herself has been thrown in prison, yet she stands against the brutal Bahraini regime.

Zanaib Ahmed, Bahrain

2. Asma Darwish, Bahrain: I posted several stories about Asma in the spring. She has fought to have the story of her brother's detention brought to light, in spite of the danger to herself and her family. That two young women are fighting heroically for liberty in a society that does not view women as equals is extraordinary.

Asma Darwish, Bahrain
3. Mohammed Nabbous, Libya:  Mohammed started an underground Internet news station in Libya at the start of the revolution there and was killed by government forces on March 19. He was instrumental in bringing the Libyan revolution to the attention of the world long before the major news organizations became interested.

Mohammed Nabbous, Libya
4. Naama Margolis, Israel: She is eight years-old and all she understands right now is that she does not want to go to school because of the religious men who taunt her and spit at her because her mother does not view religion exactly the same as they do. (Naama Margolis, December 27, 2011) But we can hope that her story will be an inspiration to others who reject oppression in the name of religion of nationalism.
Naama Margolis, Israel
5. Unidentified Greek Motorcycle Policeman, Athens: As Greek society and government fell apart because they had spent themselves into oblivion, Greek citizens took to the streets to violently complain about having to take responsibility for destroying their own country. This unidentified police officer was hit with a Molotov Cocktail while riding his motorbike. After removing his burning helmet he was hit again with another gasoline bomb. He is a hero because he put his life on the line to protect his country and its people from themselves.

6. Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar: In some form of detention since her democratic victory in 1991 that the ruling junta later nullified, Suu Kyi is a symbol of liberty against oppression in the mould of Nelson Mandela.
Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar
7. Marisol Valles Garcia, Mexico: Twenty year-old, single mother, Marisol Valles Garcia was the only person to step up and take the job of police chief in her small northern Mexico town of Praxedis G. Guerrero. She has since fled, possibly to the United States after the threats to her life (and to her son's) became overwhelming. The story of her leaving her post was reported by ABC News as "Female Mexican Police Chief Fired." The bias of the reporting is curious. The next time you light up or take a hit of something, understand that you are equally responsible for the death threats to a 20 year-old woman and her 2 year-old son.

Marisol Valles Garcia, Mexico

8. Maria Corina Machado, Venezuela: Opposition candidate to Hugo Chavez, Machado was shot at during a speech at a softball stadium in November. Her bravery in the face of the depraved regime of Hugo Chavez has gotten very little, if any, coverage in the United States.

Maria Corina Machado, Venezuela

9. Vaclav Havel, Czech Republic: Along with Lech Walesa, Havel helped bring the Soviet Union to its knees. The playwright, poet, dissident and politician passed away December 18.

Vaclav Havel, Czech Republic
10. Reserved for the first American to step up and put their reputation and life on the line for freedom. Sadly, it doesn't seem Americans are particularly interested anymore.

I did not set out to populate the list almost exclusively with women but that is how it turned out. I'm not sure if this says anything about gender and freedom in the modern age, but I think it might.

I assembled this list looking at individual protectors of liberty, but we should all remain mindful of our servicemen and women who sacrified their time, health or lives to the cause of freedom, whether we were in political agreement with those efforts or not.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 Review: Top Ten Scariest People In America

As we approach the end of the year I'll carry on my tradition of reviewing the year via easy-to-read lists. Other people do this, but I didn't steal the idea from them.

Today, it's the Top Ten Scariest People In America:
  1. Barack Obama: Not because he is inept which is scary, but we've had inept presidents before, in fact we've had them as recently as 2007. He's scary because he is a divider and a manipulator. He divides to hide his ineptitude and the wedge he is driving between people of differing political ideologies is proving to be extremely destructive.
  2. Joe Biden: He's Number 2 and he is an utter buffoon.
  3. Rush Limbaugh: Not because he is a narrow-minded bloviator (he is), but because he is a divider and a manipulator. He divides in the name of advertising dollars and the wedge he is driving between people of differing political ideologies is proving to be extremely destructive.
  4. Sean Hannity: He is intolerant of people outside of his comfort zone and he has a nationwide radio network to spew his intolerance to other intolerant people, all in the name of advertising dollars.
  5. NBC: Fear-mongers in the extreme with a hard-Left political ideology, each and every broadcaster on NBC and its associated networks has long forgotten the journalistic principle of neutrality and fairness. That they hold so much sway over such a large segment of the population is scary.
  6. Ron Paul: A relic of the paleo-Libertarian Party that lowered itself to every freak Right Wing faction in the country, Ron Paul is now bringing Libertarianism to the national stage, which is really scary to pragmatic and level-headed libertarians who simply don't buy into his narrow-minded views of the world. He's scary because he could single-handedly send the Libertarian movement back to the mid-1980's when all the hippies and punks were kicked out in favor of racists and extremists and John Birch-types. We've been fighting against that era of stupidity for 25 years and some of us would like to get past it all now.
  7. Occupy Wall Street: Nah, they're not scary, and they're not even relevant, but those three simple words help with Google hits like you would not believe, and well, there is the fact that these folks will be running the old age home my kids are going to stick me in.
  8. John Boehner: The Michael Scott of politics. 'Nuff said.
  9. SEIU: All labor union leadership is a threat to the private sector just because of their history of corruption and worker manipulation, but the SEIU, as a public-sector union, has far too much influence over the government and its operations. They have become a shadow state that no one is comfortable talking about.
  10. People Who Need Public Assistance To Help Them Quit Smoking: The City of New York proudly advertises public assistance for people trying to quit smoking. Just freaking quit smoking for crying out loud. Why do you have to rely on government aid to help you save your own life? Their utter patheticness far outweighs any sense of fear I get from an over-reaching government.

"Today We're Celebrating Mainly Christmas, But All Holidays Of Course," Or, Occupy Nashville Is Just A Mirror Of Christmas At Your House

I just love the quote in the title. The girl who tried to be sincere but just ended up sounding dumb and confused could not be a better representative of the 99% if we had sent her to a re-education camp. Her mind is so polluted with political correctness she can't even let Christmas just be Christmas. Watch the video, it'll help cure your post-holiday blues.

In a gift that just keeps on giving, two erudite and serious Occupy Nashville protesters got into a bit of a tiff on Christmas Day. According to one Occupier, she's never been to a family gathering that didn't include some sort of argument, so it was really no big deal. Maybe that's why she's chosen to live in a park.

The story originally aired on Nashville's CBS affiliate News Channel 5, which promptly pulled the story and cut links to it after the report started going viral.

Anyway, these folks are fine representatives of the 99%, and to paraphrase, the rest of us of course too. These are the folks Barack Obama ran for President for and Nancy Pelosi said were the Democrat's version of the Tea Party. I can't wait until they all leave the park for jobs in the Statehouse.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Eight year-old Naama Margolis Is A Threat to Ultra-Orthodox Men in Beit Shemesh As She Immodestly Walks to School

The link below will bring you to a sub-titled report from Israel's Channel 2 News and a report they aired last week about the ultra-Orthodox community of Beit Shemesh and an eight -year-old girl who is taunted and spit on because of her "immodest dress."

8 year-old Naama Margolis is spit on and called
"slut" because of her immodest dress.
Religious intolerance is as equal a threat to freedom as state intolerance is, and freedom-loving people need to be aware of threats to freedom, however insidious -- and faraway they may be.

I have often written about the persecution of women and girls in ultra-conservative Islamist societies. This is the first extensive video report I have seen of ultra-Orthodox Jewish persecution of women and girls although I was aware of it. There is a great deal of difference between cultural norms and traditions that are accepted by all who participate and the purposeful coercion of people to live as the intolerant majority would have them live.

The video is long, and the subtitles sometimes get out of synch, but it is compelling and important for citizens of a country that is embroiled in the political and theological struggles of a region half a world away.

Click to watch: 972 Mag translation of Israel Channel 2 report on eight year-old Naama Margolis and the ultra-Orthodox community of Beit Shemesh.

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Liberal Primer: How Not To Write Hate Mail

Dear Anonymous,

I always enjoy reading your hatemail because it is a great indicator that I have made my point. Yesterday's post about Obama's latest 2012 campaign video (Barack Obama's Campaign Video for College Students, Or, If My Kid Comes Home From College and Annoys Me With This Crap I'm Not Paying Next Semester's Tuition - December 22, 2011) obviously made you feel very sad and frustrated, but in the long run, that's a good thing. I am writing you this letter out of my desire to help you become less cliched and stereotypical. As a service to you I've decided to give you pointers on writing hatemail so you can get your points across, assuming you actually have a point.

To remind you, this is what you wrote:
This was so poorly written, I cant even understand your point. And quite frankly, you used quite frankly 3 times in your blog. I'm not pro Obama, but I like to read well written blog posts. If you are going to make your case, make some sense first. Layoff the Fox News while you are at it. It's dumbing you down. - Anonymous
I'll go sentence by sentence, take notes:
  1. The word "can't" is a contraction for "can not." If you are going to critique someone for writing poorly, you should probably not write poorly while doing so.
  2. Although it is sometimes accepted, sentences starting with the word "And" should be avoided. There is always a better option.
  3. Quite frankly, when you point out my redundant use of the phrase "quite frankly" you should put "quite frankly" in quotes. It quite frankly also helps to take the time to understand that the redundant use of the phrase "quite frankly" was done as a literary device to point out exasperation. Quite frankly, I am sorry you were not able to grasp that.
  4. "I'm not pro Obama..." Based on how upset you are about a post taking Obama's campaign to task, I think you are. You need to do a little introspection, or stop trying to lie about your political proclivities either out of embarrassment or because of a lame attempt to pull the wool over my eyes.
  5. "but I like to read well written blog posts." Well, then, you've come to the right place, as long as you are intelligent enough to understand subtlety and satire. Based on your writing ability, you should think of me as your god and learn about words and how they work together.
  6. Also, "pro Obama" and "well written" should be hyphenated to ensure the reader knows those two words go together. Don't make me take out my red pencil.
  7. I like when you tell me that I should attempt to make sense first before I make my case. Read the post again. I am hitting people like you over the head with a mallet, so I'm surprised you didn't get the gist of what I wrote. I know lots of smart people who are actually not pro-Obama who stopped watching Fox News for a few moments and really enjoyed this piece.
  8. In this last sentence you give yourself away. Because I am obviously taking President Obama to task you assume I watch Fox News. I bet you dislike millionaires and billionaires too. You probably think all the problems in the world stem from evil bankers. This makes you a cliche, and an ignorant one at that. I could be like you and tell you to watch MSNBC, but you're probably too busy getting your news from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to watch Morning Joe. Come at me with legitimate points instead of tired old cliches you barely understand but think sound good because they come from cool guys you adore. With a little effort on your part maybe you too will have a future outside of the basement in your mom's house.
Lastly, you sign off as "Anonymous." How many times have I told you people that I won't publish your comments if you don't have the cajones to put your name behind them? It's right over there ---> in the rules and regulations for crying out loud.

So here's what I learned about you from your angry defense of the guy you are not defending:
  1. If you truly were not "pro-Obama" (note proper use of hyphen) and just thought this Blog sucked you would have moved on. So therefore, you either have a very sad and pathetic life which gives you the time to critique little Blogs like mine, or you are pro-Obama and I really hit a nerve.
  2. You are under 25, or you smoked so much pot when you were younger your grasp of difficult and foreign concepts has been severely limited.
  3. If you are male, you very likely wear your hair in a faux-hawk, even though you don't realize that people over five years-old with faux-hawks are laughed at when they go to the Mall. You also probably think the rest of society wants to see your underwear so you wear your pants down at some 1996-cliche level to prove how tough and hip you are.
  4. If you are female, you are most likely orange from too much inside tanning. You speak with an affectation called 'vocal fry' (think Britney Spears on Xanax) and wear gold-lame low-top Chucks.
  5. Regardless of sex, you are unsure of what you actually think politically, hence the fear of using your actual given name, unless your parents were embarrassed by you and named you 'Anonymous' so they didn't have to take the blame for all the dumb things they knew you were going to do.
  6. You are an intellectual eunuch.
  7. You probably went to college, or are still in college, so you are excused for not knowing too much about how the actual world you will someday struggle in.
  8. You are one of the people in the video and you are trying to rationalize your embarrassment at being a member of a Cult of Personality.
  9. You are my 12th Grade English teacher who never liked me in the first place and who was really resentful when she was forced to give me an 'A' because of my brilliance even though her hatred for me made her drool on her lesson planner.
Here's the type of hatemail I usually get:

You #^&$*%(#^  @$&*(%) I hope you #$&^%  get hit by a bus. You ignorant #*&%$#. - Anonymous

So in spite of the your obvious language-center deficiencies, you did prove you are somewhat more intellectual than the average angry person who vehemently denies being pro-Obama while they make asses of themselves defending him.

Besides all of the fun at I am having at your anonymous expense, I thank you for reading and I hope you'll keep reading so that someday you can look back at this time in your life and say to yourself, Gosh I was so silly and immature until I started reading Jack's blog. Now, thanks to him, I have a fuller understanding of the world around me, and, by golly, I've even started to develop a sense of humor, which looking back, I understand was the first thing Liberalism stole from me.

Your friend,

Note at the Bottom: I get lots of hatemail from Anonymous, and they all sound the same, which leads me to the following possible conclusions: All of my hatemail comes from one person who is obsessed with me, or all liberal haters are embarrassed by their opinions and are unable to process any individual thoughts, so they simply write what they are told to write by Keith Olbermann and Eric Boehlert.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Barack Obama Campaign Video For College Students, Or, If My Kid Comes Home From College And Annoys Me With This Crap I'm Not Paying Next Semester's Tuition

Barack Obama's latest campaign video stars young minority males and young women of all races re-educating their families by pointing out how horrible old people are because most of us (anyone over 22 anyway) understand what a complete and unmitigated disaster Barack Obama is as a president.

Listen up old people! If your snotty twenty-something comes homes and starts preaching about Obama, make him or her sit at the kid's table, because that's where they belong -- politically speaking. Or you could call your local branch of Hare Krishna and ask them to take your kid because the Krishna's would be a more productive cult for your kid to join than the Democrat Party. (Dig the 1970s reference!)

Watch for yourself, but if you're old like me, don't send me nasty messages because your blood pressure spiked and your heartburn kicked in. I don't want to hear it, even if I could.

Obama failed with class warfare because quite frankly most people would like to raise their standard of living rather than be dragged down to the lowest common denominator just to make things fair.

Obama failed by playing the race card, because quite frankly, he's such an embarrassment that if he was an actual-grew-up-in-my-same-family-brother-and-not-just-my-brother-by-cultural-reference I would be embarrassed as hell and I would ask my mom to kick his lame ass out of the house in case I was planning on bringing some of my friends over to play xBox. But then again, I am old and out-of-touch so I'm still playing pong on my Atari.

Now Obama is going after young people who quite frankly are usually not immune to political silliness, unless of course you're me and you voted for Reagan when you were twenty. But, seriously, in Obama's America, young people are the last resort of a failing statesman, so listen you kids, stay the hell of my lawn and take away grandma's voter registration card while you're at it.

How long before Obama has Bo go after the canine vote? Because I have two dogs who are absolute socialists and who wouldn't be able to chase a cat without looking for a MilkBone first.

Hat tip to Chris Bedford at the Daily Caller for bringing this to the attention of old people everywhere.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Libertarian Manifesto: The Socialist View of Liberty and Libertarianism, Part I

I received an interesting opinion piece a few days ago written by George Monbiot and published in the Guardian. The piece claims that "right wing libertarians have turned 'freedom' into an excuse for greed and exploitation." I love this kind of stuff. After glancing through his bio, I determined that Mr. Monbiot is the kind of person the world desperately needs: he's driven, sincere and he's angry about everything, especially anything the private sector might have had something to do with. People like Mr. Monbiot help drive the discussion, and however much I disagree with him, his opinion helps define the differences between statism and individual freedom.

As an interesting sidenote, I got the piece from a friend who is so far from me on the political spectrum as to be practically standing right next to me on my left. Monbiots' piece is long and my responses will necessarily be long as well. The difference between the perception of libertarians by people with a statist agenda and the true ideas of liberty are far too important to gloss over, so I'll break the discussion up into three parts.

Monbiot begins:
"This bastardised libertarianism makes "freedom" an instrument of oppression. It's the disguise used by those who wish to exploit without restraint, denying the need for the state to protect the 99%."
This is actually sad to anyone who believes in individual freedom. Mr. Monbiot's world-view is that  people are pathetic and will be exploited and oppressed unless bureaucrats come to their defense. He believes everyone needs the state to protect them, but he fails to realize that states and statists are the most egregious oppressors of man in the history of mankind.
"Freedom: who could object? Yet this word is now used to justify a thousand forms of exploitation. Throughout the rightwing press and blogosphere, among thinktanks and governments, the word excuses every assault on the lives of the poor, every form of inequality and intrusion to which the 1% subject us. How did libertarianism, once a noble impulse, become synonymous with injustice?"
This is purely subjection with no corroborating facts, but it sounds really sincere and well thought out, so who can argue with it? I would have preferred to actually read actual examples of how the "rightwing press" "blogosphere" and "thinktanks" have oppressed the so-called 99%. Mr. Monbiot is taking theory and falsely applying it to reality as he sees it, which is specious at best and horribly manipulative at worst. The theory of libertarianism when brought to its extreme is in fact anarchy, but modern libertarians eschew anarchy (total liberty) for a philosophy that understands some form of state is necessary, for the good of the whole. This is where people like Mr. Monbiot get lost because they are too busy dividing people by race, or percentage, or some other theoretical divider, to the point of forgetting the smallest minority - the individual.
"In the name of freedom – freedom from regulation – the banks were permitted to wreck the economy. In the name of freedom, taxes for the super-rich are cut. In the name of freedom, companies lobby to drop the minimum wage and raise working hours. In the same cause, US insurers lobby Congress to thwart effective public healthcare; the government rips up our planning laws; big business trashes the biosphere. This is the freedom of the powerful to exploit the weak, the rich to exploit the poor.
I don't know much about the banking system in the UK so I won't comment on it. I will point out that government rules and regulations on the banking industry will be shown by history to be the main causative factors in the banking implosion in this country. I will also point out that the very same candidate who ran for president by excoriating the "banks" is now the president who sidles up to the "banks" at $38,000 a plate fundraisers. He is also the same president who is blocking at least 20,000 construction jobs to appease environmentalists who contribute heavily to him as well. While I'm at it, I'll also point out that just like I am not fully versed on the UK banking system, it is a foolish thing for someone who is not well-versed on the US healthcare system to use our current healthcare upheaval to prove his point. US insurers were lobbied by Congress and sweetheart deals were cut left and right to instantiate a healthcare overhaul that will likely never be fully implemented because of Constitutional issues and the way the state (federal government) jammed it down the throats of a populace that was in the majority opposed to it. Monbiot's definition of "effective healthcare" is antithetical to the free-market system that for 250 years made America a shining beacon of prosperity, innovation and freedom. Our country is different than yours Mr. Monbiot, and its irresponsible to infer otherwise.

As far as "big-business" trashing "the biosphere," this is really just demegoguery at its worst. I suggest Mr. Monbiot travel through China or the former Soviet Union to see how the "biosphere" was trashed long before big business was allowed to play. And government's ripping up "our planning laws?" Whose planning laws, the fringe environmentalist movement that has no other agenda but to stop progress in its tracks? These are just words strung together to get the unthinking riled up. The basis in fact is wanting to say the least.
"Rightwing libertarianism recognises few legitimate constraints on the power to act, regardless of the impact on the lives of others. In the UK it is forcefully promoted by groups like the TaxPayers' Alliance, the Adam Smith Institute, the Institute of Economic Affairs, and Policy Exchange. Their concept of freedom looks to me like nothing but a justification for greed."
I have enough trouble keeping up with all the loony movements in my own country to comment on groups in another country, but I will ask if Mr. Monbiot has ever read Adam Smith. If one truly understood libertarianism one would never use the phrase "rightwing libertarianism." There is no such thing. There is libertarianism, which promotes the freedom of the individual to prosper and pursue the maximization of their potential, and there is the stale Left / Right divisions that have clogged political thought since the French Revolution.
"So why have we been been so slow to challenge this concept of liberty? I believe that one of the reasons is as follows. The great political conflict of our age – between neocons and the millionaires and corporations they support on one side, and social justice campaigners and environmentalists on the other – has been mischaracterised as a clash between negative and positive freedoms. These freedoms were most clearly defined by Isaiah Berlin in his essay of 1958, Two Concepts of Liberty. It is a work of beauty: reading it is like listening to a gloriously crafted piece of music. I will try not to mangle it too badly.
Mr. Monbiot divulges his prejudices in the second sentence of this paragraph by painting all successful people with a broadstroke brush, surmising that wealth and success is only attained by exploiting the poor, or in the silly parlance of 2011, "the 99%." He also admits that he is firmly opposed to private enterprise by claiming all corporations are evil. The rhetoric is tired and lacking in thought, but Mr. Monbiot believes everything comes from the state, so he is at least consistent. The "millionaires and corporations are bad" philosophy gets far too much prominence from people who don't bother to understand the role the state has in oppressing freedom and liberty. It should be noted that Berlin's essay comes from the same point of view. They are confusing anarchy with libertarianism as they remove individualism and replace it with statism. History has shown this model is a failure.

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. When a state has absolute authority over its people, its people will not be free -- they will be oppressed. What might be helpful to one individual may be harmful to another and the power of the state becomes corrupted when it is given control over the choice.

Libertarian Manifesto: The Socialist View of Libertarianism, Part II

This is a continuation of the examination of George Monbiot's December 21 opinion piece in the Guardian.

Monbiot continues:
"Put briefly and crudely, negative freedom is the freedom to be or to act without interference from other people. Positive freedom is freedom from inhibition: it's the power gained by transcending social or psychological constraints. Berlin explained how positive freedom had been abused by tyrannies, particularly by the Soviet Union. It portrayed its brutal governance as the empowerment of the people, who could achieve a higher freedom by subordinating themselves to a collective single will."
The only issue I will take with this paragraph has to do with the possibly unintended implications in the use of the words "positive" and "negative" as subjective definitions of freedom, but my beef here is with Isaiah Berlin, not Monbiot.
"Rightwing libertarians claim that greens and social justice campaigners are closet communists trying to resurrect Soviet conceptions of positive freedom. In reality, the battle mostly consists of a clash between negative freedoms."
Again, the use of the term "rightwing libertarian" is incorrect and my guess is it is being used here to demagogue to his audience. The parsing of freedom into 'positive' and 'negative' is troubling to me, but it is an accepted terminology in spite of the implications. The green movement, certainly in America, is a movement away from private enterprise toward statism and so therefore, libertarians and the dreaded Right Wing, have a healthy fear of greens. One only needs to look at the loss of freedom -- economic and personal -- Americans have been subjected to since Richard Nixon gave us the EPA. Social justice campaigners would be well advised to separate themselves from the green movement as the two are not mutually exclusive. Lest anyone think otherwise, even us people who believe in personal freedom believe in social justice. We just don't think the bureaucrat is the answer to social injustices. In fact, it's quite the opposite, I firmly believe the cause of most social injustice is the state.
"As Berlin noted: "No man's activity is so completely private as never to obstruct the lives of others in any way. "Freedom for the pike is death for the minnow." So, he argued, some people's freedom must sometimes be curtailed "to secure the freedom of others". In other words, your freedom to swing your fist ends where my nose begins. The negative freedom not to have our noses punched is the freedom that green and social justice campaigns, exemplified by the Occupy movement, exist to defend.
This is a bit confused here. Humans are not fish, and although I get the metaphor, it's a bit simplistic and it plays only to those who refuse to think about their own place in the world. While no one will argue with the fact that my rights end where your's begin, the Occupy movement has proven that it is not interested in protecting personal rights, but that it is rather more interested in dismantling private enterprise. I also don't believe the green movement is interested in individual liberty and progress. History has proven the green movement is indeed closely tied to statism and the dissolution of the private sector. Certainly a social campaign to protect the rights of those who require protection is something to be lauded, but when the campaign becomes the domain of the state, the state necessarily has to choose winners and losers and that is an affront to personal liberty.
"Berlin also shows that freedom can intrude on other values, such as justice, equality or human happiness. 'If the liberty of myself or my class or nation depends on the misery of a number of other human beings, the system which promotes this is unjust and immoral.' It follows that the state should impose legal restraints on freedoms that interfere with other people's freedoms – or on freedoms which conflict with justice and humanity."
As an academic statement, Berlin's words cannot be disputed, but in the laboratory of the real world the problem theorists like Berlin and Monbiot have is they disregard the constant and certain growth of the state. They naively believe the state will be good-hearted to all it is charged with ruling without taking into consideration that the people who run the state will invariably be the same people Berlin and Monbiot are afraid of giving 'negative' freedom to in the first place. This oversight of reality is dangerous. How can those who prefer statism honestly believe that a government made up of people who (as they believe) cannot handle freedom will be able to handle power over other people. It simply is doesn't make sense.
"These conflicts of negative freedom were summarised in one of the greatest poems of the 19th century, which could be seen as the founding document of British environmentalism. In The Fallen Elm, John Clare describes the felling of the tree he loved, presumably by his landlord, that grew beside his home. 'Self-interest saw thee stand in freedoms ways / So thy old shadow must a tyrant be. / Thou'st heard the knave, abusing those in power, / Bawl freedom loud and then oppress the free.' The landlord was exercising his freedom to cut the tree down. In doing so, he was intruding on Clare's freedom to delight in the tree, whose existence enhanced his life. The landlord justifies this destruction by characterising the tree as an impediment to freedom – his freedom, which he conflates with the general liberty of humankind. Without the involvement of the state (which today might take the form of a tree preservation order) the powerful man could trample the pleasures of the powerless man. But rightwing libertarians do not recognise this conflict. They speak, like Clare's landlord, as if the same freedom affects everybody in the same way. They assert their freedom to pollute, exploit, even – among the gun nuts – to kill, as if these were fundamental human rights. They characterise any attempt to restrain them as tyranny. They refuse to see that there is a clash between the freedom of the pike and the freedom of the minnow."
In the preceding paragraph, Monbiot uses 'landlord' and 'powerless man' to describe a person who owns property and someone who doesn't own the piece of property in question, and who we are left to assume does not own any property. What Monbiot is actually saying is that personal, or private, property is bad because someone might not like the way a person uses it. This is the ultimate in statism, which is commonly referred to as communism. His simplistic statement that "rightwing libertarians ... assert their freedom to pollute, exploit, even -- among the gun nuts -- to kill" would be laughable if it weren't for the fact that this kind of demagoguery is being bought whole cloth by an entire population of disenchanted people. The very same people who do not realize that it is the state that is propagating their disenchantment, not the guy who owns the land the tree is on. As far as the "gun nut" bit goes, I'll just leave that an argument between divergent cultures for another day.

I would also like to know why Mr. Monbiot believes the rights of the man who didn't own the land the tree resided on should trump the rights of the man who did.

There is a bigger problem here that saddens those of us who believe in the individual. Mr. Monbiot calls anyone who has not found their own personal path to prosperity a "minnow." What an incredible insult. An incredible insult that unfortunately gets misunderstood by the very same people he is referring to.

More than any property owner, evil banker, or corporate shill, making people believe they are helpless minnows is the greatest attack on freedom I can imagine.

Libertarian Manifesto: The Socialist View of Libertarianism, Part III

In part two, Monbiot used a poem by 19th Century English poet John Clare to define his view of the struggle between the haves and the have-nots as it pertains to his view of freedom.

Minbiot continues:
"Clare then compares the felling of the tree with further intrusions on his liberty. 'Such was thy ruin, music-making elm; / The right of freedom was to injure thine: / As thou wert served, so would they overwhelm / In freedom's name the little that is mine.'"
What Clare (and Monbiot) don't mention is, why was the tree felled? Was it taken down to make room for a new home or factory? Was it diseased? Did it present a danger to the property owner's home, and therefore his and his family's life and limb? Was it turned into a piano to make the music that Monbiot so eloquently compares Clare's poem to? Was this a dispute between neighbors that 150 years later will contribute to upending the private sector as we know it?

If life were as simple as a poem, we'd all be poets.
"Last week, on an Internet radio channel called The Fifth Column, I debated climate change with Claire Fox of the Institute of Ideas, one of the rightwing libertarian groups that rose from the ashes of the Revolutionary Communist party. Fox is a feared interrogator on the BBC show The Moral Maze. Yet when I asked her a simple question – "do you accept that some people's freedoms intrude upon other people's freedoms?" – I saw an ideology shatter like a windscreen."
Well, actually, no you didn't. What you did see was one person who was unable to articulate her beliefs, and who therefore should be considered accordingly. Also, I don't know what the "Revolutionary Communist Party" is, but I can pretty much guarantee its members don't have a good grasp on libertarianism. Therefore, to use one person's ideological failing in an indictment of an entire political belief is specious and self-serving. By the way, only an anarchist would refuse to accept that some people's freedoms intrude upon others. Libertarians, right wing or otherwise, understand this and incorporate it into their philosophical struggle.
"I used the example of a Romanian lead-smelting plant I had visited in 2000, whose freedom to pollute is shortening the lives of its neighbours. Surely the plant should be regulated in order to enhance the negative freedoms – freedom from pollution, freedom from poisoning – of its neighbours? She tried several times to answer it, but nothing coherent emerged which would not send her crashing through the mirror of her philosophy."
Romania is a former Soviet-bloc country, and anyone who is even vaguely familiar with the environmental and human abuses of the Soviet Union should understand that this is a poor example to use in a debate about libertarianism. As a refresher, the Soviet Union was communist and more to the point, statist, which is exactly what Mr. Monbiot would have us believe is the only thing that can save us from ourselves.

In his example, I would ask why the local citizenry does not have the ability to regulate the plant. Is it because the larger national government restricts it from doing so? Why would a national government do such a thing at the expense of its own people if people require the state to protect them in the first place?

Seriously, if you are going to tout your defeat of a so-called libertarian as a way of promoting your own beliefs and debating skills, you'd have more credibility if you debated someone with even a modicum of ability and knowledge.
"Modern libertarianism is the disguise adopted by those who wish to exploit without restraint. It pretends that only the state intrudes on our liberties. It ignores the role of banks, corporations and the rich in making us less free. It denies the need for the state to curb them in order to protect the freedoms of weaker people. This bastardised, one-eyed philosophy is a con trick, whose promoters attempt to wrongfoot justice by pitching it against liberty. By this means they have turned "freedom" into an instrument of oppression."
Monbiot's issues with the individual's ability to navigate life on his own notwithstanding, I would counter his conclusion this way:

The state is not the answer. Man's own desire to protect himself and provide for himself and his family is the answer. Are there morons among us? Is there evil among men? Yes to both. Is giving power to individuals who are masquerading as a government entity the solution to the problems of reality? I say, look at history with an open mind, free of agenda, and the answer will be plain to see.

Libertarianism is not currently evolved to the point where it is a panacea for all of mankind's ills, but it is light years ahead of statism and modern day liberalism.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Belmar Man Attacks Homeless Person, Proves Why True Liberty Is Still An Illusion

Yesterday a story broke in the New Jersey area about twenty year-old Belmar resident Taylor Giresi and his unidentified seventeen year-old accomplice / videographer who taunted and beat a local homeless man and then posted the video of their exploits on YouTube. Click here to watch the video and read the story from New12 New Jersey.

Giresi repeatedly attacks and taunts the man who is obviously not capable of protecting himself. Watching the video is difficult so be prepared -- but watch it.

To me it also elicits the sad realization that true liberty can never be achieved as long as there are morons like Giresi and his little friend infecting the peace. The victim was no threat to me, my family or the liberty of society in general. That much cannot be said about the Batman-hoodie-wearing Giresi and his Boy Wonder sidekick.

As much as the inevitable police state resulting from Statism is a threat, clowns like these two men  require regular peace-loving citizens to depend on the police to protect them. The choice is forced on us by the idiots among us -- police state or the full-on anarchy of an armed vigilante citizenry.

To me, a society filled with twenty-year old immigrants who are busting their humps washing dishes and mowing lawns is far more desirable than a society that produces and coddles young men like Giresi and his buddy-with-the-court-protected-identity. This statement flies in the face of a lot of hard-core conservatives and neo-cons who think I am advocating illegal immigration. I'm not. I am advocating as easy a road to freedom and liberty for those who contribute to society as possible and as hard as that is to believe, that is completely consistent with the Libertarian point-of-view.

A country that refuses to wean bored, affluent and ignorant young men who prey on helpless people for fun while it frets over an influx of hard-working young men more than willing to take the place of the former is doomed to failure.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Special Holiday Message To Everyone, Or, Just Because You Have A Video Camera Doesn't Mean You're Obliged To Screw Your Kids Up

With the Holiday Season upon us I felt obligated to speak up about a subject that will have serious consequences for our society in about twenty years. Listen to me parents, you did stupid stuff when you were a kid, but luckily your mom and dad didn't have the technology to embarrass you in front of anyone other than Aunt Sally and Uncle Irv, and even that got boring after a while.

But now, you can embarrass your kids in front of the whole wide world.

Let's look at the first instance of getting famous on the back of a child's private and precious moment.

This video was posted December 26, 2008 and has received 91,417 hits. That means the video was viewed 91,417 times and unless these people come from an extremely large family, I'd have to guess the bulk of those hits were by strangers.

Was it necessary for these parents to publicly humiliate their daughters?

Sure they're excited, but how thrilled are they going to be in high school when every kid they go to school with has access to their private Christmas morning joy? Let's check back with them in five years.

Here's Ollie's first roller coaster ride:

This video has received 219,752 hits since it was posted on July 24, 2009.

Why do Ollie's parents think that Ollie wants the world to see him shrieking in terror on a roller coaster?

Why are Ollie's parents more concerned with getting a good shot of Ollie humiliating himself instead of comforting him?

Go Ollie! Entertain us!

I picked my nose after dancing at a family party when I was four and my family applauded my "Pick Your Nose Step." To this day I am scarred by that to the point of having never even considered dance as a career path. Imagine if my parents had videotaped it and posted it for the world to see.

In fact, sometimes Today's Mom is so anxious to be an Internet sensation she's willing to help her kids trash her house with flour so she can get on TV and get people to love and pay attention to her:

So parents, if you catch your kid sexting her BFF when she's thirteen, don't look around at society for someone to blame, because you crossed the line between private family interaction and public displays of intimacy years ago.

If your kid comes home and tells you he's being bullied, maybe before you call your Congressman to ask him what he's going to do about the big bullying problem in America, maybe, just maybe, that video you posted of your kid right smack in the middle of his emotional development got in the wrong hands.

Your kids are cute. Okay, what else you got? Let your kids live a nice quiet life filled with love and emotional support and don't saddle them with your complete unhappiness over your dull and boring life by letting the rest of the world watch them grow up.

Seriously, just because you can make your children's personal lives public doesn't mean you should.

Note at the Bottom to the Folks Who Own These Videos: These videos were found through public searches on YouTube, so if you didn't want me to make snide remarks about them and your family, you should have kept them private.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Even In the Occupy Wall Street Nation, Money Is Still A Way To Keep Score

"Money is just a means of keeping score."

I like this quote. It's brash. It's arrogant. It's true. It makes it plain and simple that there are winners and losers in life.

The problem is we have been shielding kids for decades from the harsh truth about winning and losing, and now they only understand that keeping score is unfair.

Our parks, ports and media are being occupied by people who were told as kids that keeping score was evil and that winning and losing doesn't matter. What matters is that everyone has a good time and enjoys themselves as long as no one is left feeling bad about anything.

Jeremy has been taught since he could walk that he is awesome. Even though Jeremy probably could have used a metaphorical swift kick in the ass from time-to-time, his parents and teachers made sure Jeremy's self-esteem was always as high as it could be. He was told he could be whatever he wanted, including a guy with a Master's Degree in Middle Eighteenth Century Baltic Art. Unfortunately, Jeremy is now saddled with debt from getting an education he can't use to support himself and boy is he pissed off at the rest of us. His self-esteem is still quite high though.

He was taught all of this non-sense to help bolster a political ideology.

This is a cruel thing to do to a human being. Jeremy has been left without the necessary coping skills for adulthood so he whines about the unfairness of a world he is unprepared for. He is unable to look at himself as an individual who is owed nothing more than the right to exist peacefully, so he looks for someone to blame for his own failures. This is why Liberalism is such a threat to the quality of individual life. Shielding people from reality because reality is ugly does not stop reality from being real. 

You can whine all you want, but money is indeed a way to keep score and the sooner you accept that fact, the happier your life will be.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Congress Decides Not to Tell You How to Light Your House

I was going to buy all of my family and friends incandescent lightbulbs for Christmas this year. I also planned to get heavily involved in the forthcoming incandescent lightbulb black market. In fact, my retirement was hinging on becoming a black market incandescent lightbulb tycoon.

This was because Congress passed an energy efficiency law in 2007 that would have effectively outlawed regular old incandescent light bulbs as of January 1, 2012. Nobody paid too much attention to this attempt by the Federal Government to sit next to you while you did your knitting, probably because Congress was incredibly embarrassed at having passed such a moronic law in the first place. By the way, George W. Bush was president in 2007 so all of you mainstream GOPers need to stop with the conservative indignation right now.
Back when America wasn't filled with stupid busybodies who
had nothing better to do than to mess things up, smart people
invented stuff that made our lives better, not worse.
The brilliant thing about the incandescent light bulb ban is that we would have had to use compact flourescent lightbulbs in our homes because they are more efficient and they make people who love birds and trees happy. Except they contain mercury so special precautions have to be taken when you break one. They also can't be used in enclosed spaces or with timers, and they have to be disposed of like old paint and car batteries. If you happen to dispose of your compact flourescent at a facility that incinerates garbage, we will all die from airborne mercury vapors.

Other than that, they're an excellent replacement for a technology that has served us pretty well for over a hundred years. We will be able to completely stop using coal-fired power in our homes! Well, actually that's a lie but you get the point. Green energy is the future, and if you are against green energy you probably root for cancer and aim for little girls walking their puppy dogs on the sidewalk while you drive your '74 lime-green Plymouth to the Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Compact flourescent bulbs are better for the earth so...wait, no they're not.

Compact flourescent bulbs are way worse than incandescent bulbs but since Subaru-driving, granola-munching, tweed-wearing egghead types are worried about the earth, we should use them. But since we don't want to use them because they suck, the eggheads asked the government to step in and protect us from ourselves. Seriously, in 1900 the earth was a lot cooler than it is now, and it's all because of lightbulbs. If you don't agree with that logic you probably pray, shoot guns and fly Old Glory from your front porch. You might be a good American, but you are a bad Citizen of Earth.

Congress shouldn't be applauded for doing the right thing and allowing us to light our homes as we see fit, but we should give them the same credit for fixing this insane legislation that we give our teenager for not wearing the same socks 12 days in a row. Okay, your feet don't stink so bad, but we really need to talk about why girls think you're gross. 

Let me weigh the benefits against the two products for myself. Let me decide which product is better for my family and my environment. Let me choose between an expensive product that will save me money over the long-term and an inexpensive product that I know is safe and slightly more expensive to use.

I'll take care of my business, which will free you Congresspersons up to do more important things like fix the tax code and cut into the deficit.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Time Magazine Person of the Year

I used to read Time magazine, back when it was actually a news magazine and not an opinion piece that mocks everything outside of its little liberal comfort-zone in every issue.

I was on a quick flight to Nashville over the weekend, so I picked up a copy to do some time-killing..

Two things struck me:
  1. Time thinks its readers are stupid and therefore needs to patronize them by talking down to them
  2. The line between objective journalism and editorializing has been so completely blurred that every piece, whether presented as news or opinion, is warped by the ideology of the editorial staff
I was going to go into a story-by-story dissection of the liberal myopia and misinformation I found, but quite frankly, I wasted enough time (pun unintentional) with this National Enquirer-for-the-Misinformed already.

Maybe when Leopoldo Galtieri was taunting Margaret Thatcher Time was relevant, but between the timelag inherent with magazines and the utter naivete of its politics, its simply not a relevant contributor to the national discussion anymore. Which is why its editors drive their political agenda as hard as they do - they're pandering preaching to the choir in a desperate attempt to stay alive.

Which brings us to the "Person of the Year" issue.

The editors at Time magazine would like you to believe that the protesters in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Bahrain are no different than the lugubrious funk-addled malcontents occupying your local park. In case you aren't paying attention to anything -- they're different.

The Occupy malcontents are more closely related to the violent thugs in Greece who are upset that their personal souvlaki-flavored fatted calf has been eaten down past the gristle to the point where nothing is left for the citizens of Greece to munch on.

Sure there are a lot of people protesting things. Some are protesting because their police-state-of-residence arrests them in the middle of the night for no reason and occasionally just shoots them because they can.

Others protest because they want something from the rest of us because they have traded their individuality away to the state in return for the fantasy of three squares and a stress-free life.

There is a difference and we should make sure we understand what it is.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sports Illustrated and Melissa Segura Prove Why They Should Stick to Bats and Balls and Leave Civics to the Less Politically Prejudiced

I read Sports Illustrated because I like sports. I don't read it to learn about civics or politics. An article in the November 28, 2011 issue entitled Sport In America: In My Tribe reminded me why.

The premise of the article was a group slap on the back to all of the magazine's staff writers disguised as a re-telling of their favorite sports stories. It was okay, a little bombastic and self-serving, but that's how sports writers are sometimes.

Everything was cruising along nicely until I got to staff writer Melissa Segura's attempt to mix race, soccer and the inherent evilness of America. Here's what the article, and Segura, had to say about how superior Ms. Segura's political views are:
"To staff writer Melissa Segura, soccer in the U.S. had always been the sport of the suburban upper crust, with its pricey youth travel teams, shiny Umbros and halftime oranges cut by mothers who didn't have to work to make ends meet (or by their help)."
This statement helps us to understand Melissa Segura's prejudices against her fellow citizens. I don't know where Ms. Segura grew up, but I do know from reading her work that she grew up disliking and resenting a lot of people. Ms. Segura should realize that most moms in America cutting cut up oranges for their kids are struggling to get by and raise their kids to the best of their abilities, just like pretty much everyone else. The inference of course, is that soccer is a white, middle-class sport, and that those white people are living on Easy Street and their Hispanic maids do all the hard work -- like cutting up oranges for Dakota and Jeremy.
"But a month before the 2010 World Cup, Segura toured the predominantly Hispanic trailer parks of Nacogdoches, Texas, where Clint Dempsey, the most inventive player in U.S. soccer history, grew up learning his moves from Latin American players who lived in those double-wides."
"It is not lost on Segura that in the same week she reported Dempsey's story, she also wrote about professional sports leagues' response to Arizona's controversial immigration bill, which targeted the same people Dempsey credited as his soccer influences."
What is lost on Segura and the editors of Sports Illustrated (published - not surprisingly by Time, Inc. which only has one political view) is that the Arizona law is based on current Federal law -- and was put in place to protect the citizens of Arizona -- regardless of race -- from lawlessness.

The article then goes on to say that Segura watched a U.S. World Cup match and "saw her country reflected like never before," as she described the multi-national faces of the men comprising the team. That this was a surprise to Segura illustrates how out-of-touch she is with the daily lives of the American people. It also shows clearly the journalistic prejudice of Segura and her magazine. Because of their politics, Segura and her editors view America as a monolithic Right Wing white mass of hatred, which is silly, naive and insulting to those of us who actually live here.
"[players] placing their hands over their hearts during The Star-Spangled Banner even as the Obama Administration announced plans to use drones along the southern border that the relatives of U.S. players Jose Torres and Herculez Gomez had crossed."
What Ms. Segura implies then is that laws are of no consequence. We don't know if the relatives of the players mentioned came over legally or illegally, but that distinction doesn't seem to matter to Ms. Segura. What matters to her is that there are people in this country who demand that immigrants follow the laws of their country, and that is insulting to Ms. Segura and her magazine. In Ms. Segura's world, we should not protect our borders or enforce our laws because a good soccer player might not get a shot, or, so I surmise, a person of the ethnic background she approves might not be able to move here. Her naive and poorly informed opinions wouldn't be an issue if it weren't for the fact that she had the power of a major magazine -- a willing supplicant to her prejudices against her country -- at her beck and call.
"While politicians in Washington argued, 23 men from backgrounds as diverse as the country they represented showed what an inclusive America could be."
Laws about immigration, or the fact that it is people like Ms. Segura who view people first through the lense of race long before viewing their hearts and actions, notwithstanding.
"'It was sports prefiguring politics,' Segura says. 'The team never addressed issues of immigration or inclusion; it simply played the game -- together -- with regard not to abilities..."
She's talking about athletes, so why does that surprise Ms. Segura? It doesn't surprise her one bit, but it does give her a launching point to explain her politics to her readers while she remains cloaked in the false clothing of a journalist. I was personally insulted that I paid for a magazine that was merely a forum for Segura to spout her distaste for the people in America who think respecting the rule of law is a good thing.
"...the way Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson demonstrated decades earlier how much better we can be when we see America's differences as a bounty instead of a burden."
What she says here is correct, except her comparison is specious, and she obviously has no understanding of the country she lives -- and earns quite a nice living -- in. She attempts to compare true heroes and pioneers like Robinson and Owens with people who may or may not have come here legally. That is an incredible insult to Owens and Robinson and men and women who fought alongside them for equality. Owens and Robinson were natural born citizens fighting for their rights in a nation that was blind and deaf to the wrongs it was committing. Ms. Segura would have you believe her cause is a parallel to their struggle when it is in fact the struggle of people to do whatever they want, anywhere they want with little or no regard to the rule of law. That is not racism Ms. Segura, and you need to drop your personal prejudices and put some effort into understanding the world outside of your tiny little sphere of experience.

In conclusion, I wonder if Melissa Segura thinks her magazine's objectification of women is okay, or does she just pick and choose who is wrong strictly based on her own political misconceptions?

Melissa Segura bio.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Libertarian Manifesto: Why I Am A Libertarian

While working on a piece today about why I am a Libertarian, I came across this article by Steve Horwitz that concisely sums up why -- at heart -- we are all libertarians, whether we realize it or not. This piece should be required reading.

Pausing to Note the Continued Upward Climb of Humanity by Steven Horwitz.
"With a new study out today that provides evidence that those who approach their lives with a spirit of gratitude (when it's deserved of course) to others score higher across a whole number of measures of well-being, it's worth taking a moment for some "social gratitude."
In a world of pepper-spraying cops, genital-groping TSA agents, and a debt-to-GDP ratio that's topped 100 percent, it's sometimes hard to find the good, but despite the ankle weights the state keeps attaching to us, humanity keeps running, moving ever upward.

In the long view, life expectancy continues to rise as do literacy rates. Slavery is in long-run retreat and illegal in every country, and despite the apparent desire of US politicians of both parties to declare war on every small country in the mid-east, deaths from war continue to fall and violence in general continues its decline. Every day the news is full of new secular miracles, from 3-D printers that can produce the head for Jeff Dunham's new dummy to medical procedures that save lives that would have been lost even as recently as a few years ago. The average American household continues to be able to afford fantastic toys that the rich of a generation ago could not have imagined, and poor Americans today are more likely to own basic necessities (not to mention "toys") than was the average American household a generation ago.

And perhaps most important: a diminishing percentage of humanity lives on less than $1 per day, and global income inequality is falling as well.

Even as freedom retreats in some quarters, the freedoms we have left continue to improve the lot of humanity in ways our ancestors could only dream of. The sad part is that we continue to weight and shackle ourselves in ways that are slowing that progress from what it could have been. We do so because too many are too skeptical about the benefits of freedom and those with power (or who want it) are all too willing to take advantage of that skepticism to serve their own interests, both political and corporate(Ed. Note: Emphasis added)

As we pause to recognize all we are grateful for today, let's also re-commit ourselves to the task at hand, which is to understand the degree to which free people under the right institutions can maximize the degree of social cooperation, peace, and prosperity made possible by the progressive extension of the division of labor and exchange. And let's further re-commit ourselves to taking what we've learned and spreading it to the four corners of the Earth so that the cornucopia so many enjoy in the West can be the reality not just for every American, but for all of humanity." - Steven Horwitz, November 24, 2011
I try to bring as much new material to the discussion as I can, but when someone puts the beauty of libertarianism as simply and eloquently as Mr. Horwitz did, there's no reason to pretend to be able to do it any better.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pardon Me, Is That A Good Source of Potassium In Your Pocket Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

I had a hard time figuring out what to write about today.
  • Eric Holder is making a fool out of himself trying to further the Fast and Furious coverup
  • Darryl Issa is giving me hope that America's goose is not cooked by grilling Eric Holder
  • America's Formerly Most-Creepiest Governor Jon Corzine is trying to convice us that not knowing where $1.2 billion of other people's money is isn't really a big deal
  • President Obama said in his news conference that the Keystone Pipeline will create jobs, but not as many as extending the payroll tax cuts or extending unemployment insurance (call me what you will, but I heard that one with me very own ears)
Eh, just boring same-old-same-old in the era of the downfall of America. I mean, sometimes I bore the both of us. I was really feeling uninspired.

Then, God His Very Self shot me with a lightning bolt of cosmic inspiration and led me to a story, making me read it until I was reminded why I waste thousands of hours a year writing this blog.

An un-named Muslim cleric from Europe issued a dikat prohibiting women from eating or touching bananas, cucumbers, carrots or zucchini. Speaking to the Egyptian religious publication el-Senousa News, the cleric explained that if women liked these otherwise phallic and unholy foods they should have a third party cut them up for them in another room. He suggested a male relative like a father, or a brother, or maybe their husbands as long as things didn't get out of hand. Okay, I added that last bit. The cleric did not go into the creepy ramifications of asking your dad or uncle to slice you up a zucchini. I wish he had.

This cleric, who is unusually sexually repressed even by the standards of most extremely repressed religious fanatics, also warned women against holding these food items in public places like supermarkets because the act of holding them would be "harmful" to the women. The last thing this guy wants is women holding dinner ingredients and thinking about dessert.

At first I thought, wow, these Muslim clerics really have way too much time on their hands.

But then I thought about it, and now I don't think the cleric went far enough in his efforts to suppress women in the name of religion. I also think this good man of God should have forbidden women from the following:
  1. Riding on airplanes  
  2. Ordering cheesy breadsticks at Pizza Hut
  3. Going to baseball games because of multiple temptations
  4. Polka parties because of the invariable bratwurst infestation, plus, that music is salacious
  5. Using writing utensils - especially those giant ones you get at the museum sometimes
  6. Owning daschunds
  7. Sending nutlogs and fruitcakes to their friends as holiday gifts
  8. Being Facebook friends with Anthony Weiner
  9. Calling the Fire Department
  10. Watching 'Hunt For Red October'
In other news about lack of self-control, Majlis al-Ifta al-Aala, Saudi Arabia's highest Islamic council recently announced they had concluded that if women were allowed to drive there would "be no more virgins" in the country in ten years. My first thought was that they thought the women would all crash into something, but they were obviously deeper thinkers than me because they attributed the national loss of virgins to the "surge in prostitution, pornography, homosexuality and divorce" that would inevitably result in having chicks behind the wheel. This was something I hadn't contemplated before whilst stuck in traffic behind a woman applying her mascara.

Not to be outdone, Saudi Arabia's Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (honestly, I did not make that up), decreed that some women's eyes were far too alluring for regular pious men to withstand looking at, so those women with extra "tempting" eyes needed to cover them up as well, along with all the other stuff men find so interesting to look at.

Ladies, remember this the next time some religious lunatic shoots up an Army base in the name of Jihad and your President calls it an "incident of workplace violence."

God pointed me to Pamela Geller's 'Atlas Shrugged' blog for information on this story.

Note at the Bottom: I would just like to say to anyone issuing a fatwah against me that I completely agree with everything I learned from my research about fruits and vegetables and how women are obviously not capable of thinking of men when they make a salad or banana split. And if you could find a way to ban broccoli - for men and women - I would be most obliged. Also, if you are planning on blowing up my car or kidnapping me, could you wait until after Christmas?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Remembering Pearl Harbor

This video contains recently surfaced color film of the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Some of the video is graphic and I in no way mean to be disrespectful by posting it. I do however believe that one does not do justice to the lives that were lost by "remembering" a sanitized and edited version of the events. We either remember in detail, or we forget in fog.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ohio Third Grader Removed By State Officials Because of His Weight

Last month, authorities in Ohio removed a nine year-old third grader from his home because of his weight. Last year the mother took the boy to a local hospital to seek a cure for his sleep apnea and that's when authorities became aware of his weight. According to social workers on the case, they worked with the family for about a year before making the decision to remove the child from his mother's care, after he had successfully lost a few pounds but gained them back.

The child weighed over 200 pounds.

He is now in foster care.

Much discussion took place about the rights of parents versus the rights of the state, but then the story faded away.

I don't claim to have knowledge sufficient to make a judgement in this case but I am curious about a few things:
  1. What are the qualifications of the social workers who made the decision to remove the boy from his home?
  2. What are their backgrounds and personal histories? Have they comported themselves in their lives in such a way that gives them the gravitas to make such important decisions about the lives of others?
  3. What is the history of the foster family that is now taking care of him? Are they better people than the child's own mother, and who exactly made that judgement?
  4. Is the State going to remain responsible for the boy's potential pyschiatric needs as well as those of the mother? Years later, when the unseen psychological damage this is may be causing the boy comes to light, will the social workers on the case be interested in helping him, or will they claim he is of age so he is not their responsibility?
  5. What emotional support is the state providing the mother?
  6. Does the boy have a predisposition to obesity? If so, is it genetic?
  7. Is the state right to intervene on a child's behalf because of potential health problems in the future?
I'm afraid too often we ask the wrong questions.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Wayne Hills HS Update, Or, Anger Management Should Be Added to the Core Curriculum

The acting commissioner for the New Jersey State Board of Education has upheld an administrative law judge's ruling that the nine suspended Wayne Hills HS players should sit out today's championship game against Old Tappan HS.

Alot of people, including attorneys, students and parents, are of the opinion that this rush to judgment is a result of the Penn State scandal, but I contend the opposite: The nine players would have played in spite of their alleged involvement in a criminal offense (assault) if people weren't paying attention to the pervasive mentality in scholastic athletics that football programs are to be protected regardless of the ethical costs to the institution.

In other news, responses are running 48 - 0 against my opinion, mostly because I a) don't know the facts, or b) am a @#$@%:_)  @@$%^&*. Based on the language and the appalling grammar, I am guessing that 100% of the responses are from angry high school students who need to worry more about their English grades and less about football.

Although not cited in the previous post, all the information contained in that post were taken from the following sources: New York Daily News, New York Times, Newark Star-Ledger, WABC and WNYW.  

Friday, December 2, 2011

Penn State Vs. Wayne Hills High School: Winners On the Field, Unethical Losers Off the Field

At a house party in Wayne, NJ, on October 29, two teenagers were beaten in an altercation which left one of the teenagers lying unconscious in the middle of the road. The beaten teens were football players from Wayne Valley High School and the perpetrators were identified as football players from Wayne Hills High School. Showing an amazing amount of cowardice, the young men who did the beating have not stepped forward to claim responsibility for their acts, and have decided to let other innocent students take the fall with them.

One for all. All for one. We play as a team. We assault people as a team.

Nine student athletes from Wayne Hills High School were subsequently suspended from taking part in football activities by the Board of Education, and a judge has upheld those suspensions. As of this writing, another appeal is waiting to be heard which would allow the suspended players to play in a State Championship game tomorrow (Saturday, December 3). The students who were left beaten in the road have not filed an appeal regarding the beating they took at the hands of the Wayne Hills HS football players.

It's all about the Big Game.

At a Board of Education meeting on November 17, Wayne Hills football coach Chris Olsen gave an "impassioned plea" to let his suspended players play.

It's all about the Big Game. Football is important. Scholarships are important. The beaten kids didn't die or anything.

Many people in the football hierarchy at Wayne Hills HS claim that the kids who were suspended will have their identities released by default because they won't be at the Big Game, and this will ruin their lives.

This is the biggest load of crap I have ever heard. If Coach Olsen, or anyone at Wayne Hills HS, is so concerned about protecting the identities of his minor players, then he should just forfeit the game and protect the kids himself. Oh wait, forfeit the Big Game? No way, football dynasties never forfeit the Big Game. Or Coach Olsen could use his position as a leader of young men to convince the perpetrators to step forward and face the consequences of their actions. Word has it the students who actually did the beating are Coach Olsen's best players, and how can you win the Big Game if your best players aren't suited up? But to people like the football hierarchy at Wayne Hills HS morality has nothing to do with winning football championships.
Coach Chris Olsen (standing) and players from his Wayne Hills HS
football team attend a Board of Education meeting last month to
appeal for reinstatement of nine players who were charged with
aggravated assault and later suspended from the team.
 Photo: New York Daily News

On November 18, a pep rally was held at Wayne Hill HS. Members of the Junior class wore tee-shirts with the words "the police." During the rally the football team shouted "F*** the police" at the Juniors. Faculty eventually stopped the chanting, but now we all have a good idea what kind of young men are formed in Coach Olsen's program.

The kids have lawyered up because they want to play in the Big Game and they want college scouts to be able to see them play so they can get scholarships and maybe even be in the NFL someday. Their coaches and parents have been coddling them and making them feel special since Pop Warner, and no beaten up kid from a cross-town rival high school is going to make all that effort go for naught. The claim is that a criminal record might hurt their son's chances of getting a scholarship. The kids who were beaten will likely not get a chance to strut their football prowess in any Big Games in the near future, and their sholarship chances are unknown.

Darren DelSardo, the attorney for one of the minors involved said his client is innocent and that his client is "already having stomach pains, throwing up." DelSardo didn't mention whether he thought it was wrong or not that the perpetrators of the assault have not manned-up and taken responsibility for their actions. He also didn't mention how the assaulted kids were doing, but then again, that's not his job.

The suit filed on behalf of the suspended students contained the following bit of sage legality: "...the students were denied due process in the administration's decision" to suspend the players because the "alleged criminal actions were separate from school functions." Which pretty much means that what these kids do outside of school is of no consequence as long as they're ready for the Big Game.

It's all about the Big Game. Raising young men to become good citizens is not the issue.

Attorney's for the students who didn't get beaten and left unconscious on the side of the road also maintain that at least two of the suspended students weren't even there. In this case the Football Code of Ethics prevents the kids who are guilty from protecting the innocent kids by stepping forward, while the innocent kids keep their big mouths shut to protect the guilty. I wonder if that was their own choice or if someone convinced them to keep quiet? No matter how you look at it, this is a code of false morality.

If you were up in arms because former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky raped little boys in the showers at Penn State, but you think the kids at Wayne Hills HS should play in the Big Game tomorrow, your situational ethics need adjusting.

In one case a sick individual committed heinous crimes to satisfy his own perverted needs and an entire football hierarchy hid the truth to protect the program. In the other case a few sick individuals beat rival football players senseless and an entire football hierarchy is fighting to sweep the assaults under the carpet to protect the program.

Rah rah sis boom bah, hit 'em again, harder, harder.