Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Spy stuff - Michael Barone

Here's a column from Michael Barone (the best political analyst in the country today) about the spy "scandal". The more you read about this, the more clear it becomes that this is a non-issue, and all the carping is really just more political "gotcha games" from Washington, DC.

Hat tip - Real Clear Politics.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

More spy stuff AKA DC Gotcha Games

Well, it is Christmas morning, and I'm heading out across the winter plains of southern Illinois to visit my family. But that doesn't mean I can't do a little net surfing before I leave.

Check out this analysis of the spy "scandal" at justoneminute.

As Mickey Kaus says, another spy scandal and Bush's approval ratings will be at 60%. LOL.

Another hat tip to the Instapundit.

Editor: Does this guy Reynolds ever sleep?

UP: No, actually he is an android. That's why he does all that high-tech shilling over at his site, he has a vested interest in nano-tech and stuff.

Editor: Really? I didn't know that.

UP: It's the only explanation I can think of that explains his prolific number of posts. He's like Data on ST:TNG, except he has normal Caucasian skin coloring.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

No Knock Entry - Bad Policy

Clayton Cramer relates a story about police trying to enter a home without a warrant here. (Hat tip Instapundit.) Surprisingly enough, this wasn't a drug raid but rather a weapons issue. Unlike the Cory Maye case, among many others, no one was hurt.

The more laws there are on the books, the more law enforcement you will need. It never ceases to amaze me how cavalierly many, if not most, of my fellow Americans call for more and more laws. We used to call our policemen "peace officers", but nowadays they are called "law enforcement officers". A few generations ago, the idea was to let everyone do as they pleased so long as they didn't bother other folks (i.e, violate others rights via violence or theft). Those days are long gone, as many of the laws passed over the last few generations are laws that criminalize the potential for (perceived) bad behaviors, but the behaviors aren't really criminal in of themselves. Because many of the "crimes" we now have don't violate another citizens rights, they go "unreported". Thus the need for "law enforcement officers" to go out and find out who those miscreants are and "enforce" the law on them.

What do I mean by those few sentences above? A couple of examples may help explain what I mean.

Strict gun control laws presume that the gun owner may do something bad with his gun. Can't have that, so make owning the gun illegal or difficult to do so legally. So the crime is no longer using a gun immorally, but merely possession of the gun itself. The law turns otherwise law abiding citizens into criminals with the stroke of a pen. And of course, the laws do nothing to actually stop criminals from committing crimes, it just adds another charge if they are caught after the fact.

The same rationale is used to justify drug prohibition. Some small percentage of drug users will face some dark days due to their abuse of some drugs. Can't have that, so just make possessing the drug a crime. However, of the million or so drug arrests each year, only a fraction of those arrested are real addicts with real drug problems. And rehab is what they need, not jail. The vast majority of those arrested are ordinary folks who use drugs the same way others do alcohol or are trying to make a quick buck in the lucrative, prohibition-spawned black market. Again, the law turns otherwise law abiding citizens into criminals with the stroke of a pen.

With laws that criminalize ordinary human behavior, whether its a weakness for intoxicating substances or the desire to be able to defend one's hearth and home, is it any wonder that there is so much cynicism, anger, and hate in this country?

No political home

It's been an interesting year for me politically. I've been a Republican since 1980, the year I first really starting paying attention to politics, replacing my 1976 vote for Carter with my 1980 vote for Reagan. Since that time, I've occasionally voted for a Democrat in local or state elections, but never for any federal office.

Over the last 25 years, I've felt pretty much at home there. But for most of that time, I've had some major disagreements with the majority of Republicans with regards to the "social" issues. Not all of them, to be sure. But mostly with the ones concerning vices laws. I came to believe that the libertarian view toward these laws was the correct view.

So, for the past 20 years I've reconciled my libertarianism with the authoritarianism of the social conservatives in the Republican party. In the last few years, however, that's become more difficult.

What happened?

As I wrote above, the first split happened long ago over the Republican's support of drug prohibition. Being both a casual drinker and recreational marijuana smoker in the 1980's, the hypocrisy of the drug laws stood out like Mt. Everest. So that was my first real split with the orthodoxy of the Right. But I stayed put for other reasons.

It remained that way until just the last 3-4 years, when I started perusing the political forum sites of the Right. Some of the things I've read at these sites posted by "grass roots" Republicans showed me that some Republicans can be just as reactionary as anything on the Left. I'm not saying all Republicans are hateful, but judging from some of the things I read on the net, some minority truly are.

A few other things have happened over the last couple of years that's caused me to distance myself from the Republicans on the social issues. Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. The Lawrence v Texas case. Many Republicans were upset with the SC's ruling that struck down the state law that criminalized homosexual intercourse, and thus counted it as a loss in the "culture wars". I think of the decision as a victory for personal freedom, regardless of how I feel about the morality of homosexual behavior.
  2. Abortion. While I've always believed that most abortions are immoral, I was never an ardent pro-lifer and I respected the arguments coming from the abortion rights side of the issue. I was finally moved to the pro-choice side by, ironically enough, something I read at National Review's online site last year. One of their regulars was wondering what the punishments for abortion would be if it were to be made illegal in the future. The response from another regular was 2-3 years imprisonment plus fines for the abortionists, with no punishment for the woman getting the abortion if she testified for the state. No word on what the punishment should be if she didn't testify for the state. All these years I've heard the pro-life folks call abortion murder, but the punishments proposed are not those for murder. This told me that even ardent pro-life people don't really think abortion is murder, just wrong.
  3. Birth control. Ironically enough, again it was something I read in National Review (dead trees edition) that once again pointed out the authoritarian leanings of the Right. Earlier this year, there was an article in the magazine re-visiting the Griswold decision from 1962. That court case overturned a Connecticut state law that banned the sale of contraceptives. As I was reading the article, not only was the author critical of the court's reasoning, he went on to make the case that there was nothing wrong with any state passing those type of laws. I couldn't believe my eyes.
  4. The 2005 elections. Don't get me wrong, I voted for Bush and I'm glad he won. Unfortunately, the social conservatives mis-read the results, and now they feel more empowered than ever politically. Not a good thing, from my point of view.
  5. The utter nonsense of this whole "War on Christmas" controversy. I just can't see how Christianity and its mission is served by picking political battles that INVOLVE religion. Politics is bad enough without bringing religion into it. Nobody wins here.
  6. The War on Drugs. For past twenty years or so I've been an opponent. But while pondering this issue this past year, I realized that this policy is not only wrong logically, but that it is wrong morally and therefore unjust. People argue about the issue like we do about taxes, in the abstract. But while taxes threaten my wallet to one degree or another, they don't put me in jail. But drug prohibition puts people in jail when they aren't deserving of imprisonment. Sadly, too many politicians, Democrat and Republican, find it all too easy to jail or fine any minority (behavioral in this case) if it will help their chances to win office.

In summary, I've come to realize that many Republicans are much more authoritarian than I'd noticed. I'm not sure how I missed it.

What we have in America today are two statist parties. They both crave power, they just have slightly different agendas for the use of that power.

For many years, I thought all the moral preening done in politics came from the Left. But over the last few years, I've seen that it comes from the Right too. I'm repulsed by it from both sides. So for the first time in many years, I really don't feel at home in the Republican party, and it is because of its social conservative faction. I'm not one, and never will be.

I guess I truly am a centrist. I find some things I like and much I dislike in the policies of both parties. If the Democrats would ever get their act together on taxes, national security, and the size and scope of government....

Well, one can dream, can't he?

22 Congressmen Hate Christmas?

More news from the front in the "War on Christmas". Here's a laughable piece from the laughable Newsmax.com site.

It seems this whole "War on Christmas" brouhaha has caught the attention of some Congress critters (surprise), so one member of Congress introduced a resolution"protecting the symbols and traditions of Christmas" . It passed overwhelmingly (surprise, again), with only 22 "No" votes against it.

Note the headline of the piece, "22 Congressmen Hate Christmas". But does a "No" vote on a resolution of this sort really mean that the person casting the vote "hates" Christmas?

There might be several reasons one might cast a "No" vote here, and none of them would mean that the person hated Christmas. Perhaps they think the resolution is frivolous. Perhaps they think Congress has better things to do with its time. Perhaps they see the resolution as pure political pandering. Perhaps they think this type of resolution is dangerously close to "endorsing" a particular religion and therefore a bad idea.

Perhaps they are like me and "All of the above" would suffice as valid reasons to cast a "No" vote here.

I'm a Christian, and I would have voted "No". In our free country, I believe the Lord can take care of himself and his people without some meaningless Congressional resolution. However, I guess that would make me a lousy politician.

Update: This story was posted yesterday (again) at freerepublic.com here.

I guess I really am a centrist, in that I took hits from both sides. I pasted an excerpt from what publised above. Here was the first response made about my comments by another poster:

Perhaps, and far more likely than any of those, is that they are God-hating and Christmas-hating liberals. How many pro-lifers among the 22? How many supporters of actual marriage vs. lavender make-believe?
When another poster thought my criticisms of this vote was a blanket condemnation of the Bush administration, he posted this to me:

Fabricate an issue, any issue, local talk radio morons jump on it because it fills time between commercials and, what da' you know, it becomes a national farce worthy of Dr. What his name's, minions in the House abandoning real congressional issues to worry whether the aged greeter at Walmart says Merry Christmas instead of: ''did you know that Walmart screws me out of my meal breaks and makes me work overtime off the clock?'' Hey, with these clowns the King-in-Chief and the Vice-King, in the exercise of their Divine Right to do as they damn well please and to hell with the law, must be rationalized irrespective of how silly the attempt at justification may be.

Ain't life under this adminsitration's fist great???
I wrote this in response:

It's not the administration that bothers me on this issue. It's the fact that many conservatives are merging their politics and religion, and using Christmas as a front in a political battle. It's unseemly to me. As someone posted on another thread, many Christians seem to walking around with a bunch of chips on their shoulders, just hoping and waiting for someone to knock it off. Sad, really.
I guess he didn't like my take on this, so he wrote this back to me:

Stuff it !!!!
So I managed to get criticisms of my thoughts from both the Left and the Right. And these are just some of the highlights. LOL

Merrry Christmas.

Fairy Tales

I imagine that almost everyone has heard the fable about "The Boy who Cried Wolf". It's the story of a shepherd boy who kept raising false alarms about a wolf threatening the sheep he was watching. He thought it was funny to make all the adults come running when there was no threat. As the story goes, finally a wolf did arrive to threaten the sheep, but when he cried for help, no one came. He'd raised so many false alarms in the past that he'd lost his credibility.

It seems that some folks never learned the moral of this story.

Glenn Reynolds links to this story in The Boston Globe about a college student that claimed he was visited by agents from the Dept. of Homeland security after checking out Chairman Mao's "Little Red Book" from the library. As it turns out, the story was completely false.

Why did the student lie? Who knows. My guess is he's politically Left on the scale and he thinks America is now under the thumb of BusHitler. This was his way of calling attention to what he thinks about the current administration in DC.

Sadly, this student is not alone. Over the past few years, there's been several stories about individuals (students and professors) defacing their own dorm rooms and cars with racial epitaphs, claiming they were the victims of racism. These turned out to be hoaxes. I guess if you can't find a fire, you just have to start one yourself.

It would serve us all well if we take to heart the story of the boy and the wolves that weren't there.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

As a neutral observer in the "War on Christmas", I wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and joyous holiday season. Left or Right; believer, atheist, or anything in between; my best wishes to all of you. Sincerely.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Everyone should read Mark Steyn

Here's another gem, this one about Iran, from the prolific Mark Steyn. His insights are usually spot on, and, man, this guy can really turn a phrase.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Spielberg's Munich

Here's a very interesting article over at the American Thinker site by Kate Wright discussing the new movie Munich by director Steven Spielberg (hat tip Powerline).

The film is about the murders of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic games in Munich and the Israeli government's decision to track down and assassinate the perpetrators. Click here to read it.

More on the spying "scandal"

Click here to see an editorial from Judge Richard A. Posner about domestic intelligence issues in today's Washington Post. A lot to ponder from the honorable judge.

Key excerpt in the opinion of yours truly:

These programs are criticized as grave threats to civil liberties. They are not. Their significance is in flagging the existence of gaps in our defenses against terrorism. The Defense Department is rushing to fill those gaps, though there may be better ways.

The collection, mainly through electronic means, of vast amounts of personal data is said to invade privacy. But machine collection and processing of data cannot, as such, invade privacy. Because of their volume, the data are first sifted by computers, which search for names, addresses, phone numbers, etc., that may have intelligence value. This initial sifting, far from invading privacy (a computer is not a sentient being), keeps most private data from being read by any intelligence officer.

Folks, getting back to first principles here, but one of the main reasons for any government to exist is to protect its citizens from enemies. This data mining is just the government doing its job in these perilous times.

Contrary to popular belief, this has been going on for decades. Most of the caterwauling coming from around the nation is being done by those that see their political fortunes rising if they can sink the Bush administration on this. As always, I'm shocked, SHOCKED, I say, that they would do such a thing.

Update: As mentioned in my last paragraph, this stuff is nothing new. Radio talker Neal Boortz writes about it here.

Statistics in the news-be wary

This morning, I was perusing a thread on freerepublic.com where a poster made the claim that 2 out of 3 women are molested or raped by the time they reach the age of 18. Several other posters challenged this claim, but she wouldn't budge. The poster making the claim stated that she heard the stat on a talk show broadcast over a Christian radio station, so it must be true.

Anytime I hear some sort of statistic that doesn't sound true, I'm reminded of the sage words that radio talker Dennis Prager has said time and time again on his program. To paraphrase Dennis, everyone has an agenda, unfortunately, the truth isn't always a part of the agenda.

Some of you may recall a series of TV ads from a few years ago making the claim that 1 out of 10 Americans were starving. The first time I saw the ad, my male bovine fecal matter meter pegged in the red zone at total BS. As it turns out, my BS meter was correct. A reporter investigated the claims made by this organization. It turns out that this organization asked people taking their survey if they ever went to bed hungry. And guess what, 10% of the respondents answered in the affirmative. Do I have to point out that going to bed hungry on occasion is not the same as starving?

Obviously, truth wasn't part of the agenda here. Raising funds was the agenda, the truth be damned.

Another example I recall was a radio ad from the early 1990's claiming that over 500,000 children go missing each year in America. Again, my BS meter zipped to the red zone. And again, it turns out that my BS meter was correct. The truth is that there are over 500,000 missing persons REPORTS filed each year for missing children. The children were missing in the sense that mom and dad didn't know the whereabouts of their child for a short period of time. For the vast majority of these reports, the children don't stay missing. The actual number of children that stay missing is only a few thousand each year (and most of these are non-custodial parent kidnappings). Of course, when a child does meet some sort of foul play, it is terrible, but the actual numbers are a far cry from over half a million.

In this case, it was a business selling child safety guides to parents. Selling kits was the agenda, the truth be damned. To it's credit, the company did change its ads and clarified the 500,000 number in later ads.

Given these two examples, what are we to make of the claim that 2 out of 3 women are molested or raped before they are 18 years old? It seems likely to me that the definitions of molestation and rape being used by the researchers here are very broad. It could be that the researchers included consensual acts like necking at the movies as molestation. Perhaps boys bumping into a girl's breasts in a crowded school hallway is considered molestation for this report. As for rape, this report probably considered a girl's regret for having consensual sex as rape, as it is not uncommon for a woman to regret sexual activity afterwards when they don't have strong feelings for their sex partner. They regret having sex afterwards, and blame the man for this. Regret becomes rape.

So the 2 of 3 number may be "true" by these (likely) broad definitions, but not true by a narrower definition of rape (forced, non-consensual sex) and molestation (non-consensual, inappropriate touching). I'll see if I can find out more, and update this post if I do.

The moral of the story? Everyone has an agenda, but the truth may not be part of the agenda, as Dennis says. And, sadly, sometimes that's the case even when it involves Christians and Christian radio stations.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


The NIMBY's of ANWR --

1. Is a new FPS game for the XBox 360?
2. Is a new children's book series written by Madonna?
3. Describes people who don't want oil drilling in a remote, isolated portion of Alaska?

If you chose 3. you win the prize, which is continued free access to this blog.

For those that don't know it, NIMBY stands for "Not in my back yard". Only in this case, we have people that don't want drilling in a state and a location within in that state where 99.9999999% of us will never ever never go visit. Perhaps we need a new acronym for the folks that oppose drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR). Let's see, NIMANWR just doesn't roll off the tongue, does it?

Well, George Will has some things rolling off his tongue, er, PC about the ANWR drilling and it showed up in the Washington Post the other day. Read it here and wonder why such a "no-brainer" as drilling in the ANWR has yet to happen.

I blame GWB.

(Hat tip vodkapundit.com)

Hello, Occifer.

Hello, Occifer. What's the problem? - Hiccup-

Came across this article by Max Borders via tcsdaily about the problems with using blood alcohol standards in policing our roads. Readers might want to take a peek.

Part of the problem with analyzing and talking about these type of issues is the moral issues that many attach to these things. People that have a moral aversion to drinking bring a certain amout of bigotry to this issue.

For example, if I'm in my car at 11:00 PM on a Friday and I'm hit by another car, and neither me or the driver of the other vehicle have been drinking, it's just an ordinary accident.

Take the same time and situation and say the other driver had had a few beers, and instead of it being an ordinary accident, I become the victim of a "drunk driver". A whole new dimension is added here because this other fellow quaffed a beaker or two of brew a while earlier. Now, assuming the other driver drank enough beers to substantially impair his driving, it would be correct to say that I was a victim of a drunk driver. However, what if the beers consumed that evening didn't impair the other driver? How should he be treated before the law?

It's certainly true that very high levels of blood alcohol content certainly impair one's ability to operate a vehicle safely. But for the vast majority of weekend revelers, they don't reach those high levels of BAC.

I always like to do the math on these types of things. Are there drinking related accidents somewhere every weekend? Sure there are. But how many people are out and about on Fridays and Saturdays making merry with alcohol? How many millions of miles do these revelers drive every weekend? Across the nation, millions, perhaps tens of millions of people are out at bars, night clubs, parties, fraternal organizations, sports venues, etc., making merry with alcohol. And you know what? About 99.9999999% of them make it home that evening and live to make merry another day.

If alcohol consumption makes drivers impaired, you'd think we'd have thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of accidents each weekend. But we don't.

Part of the issue here is that people don't understand risks and risk analysis in these type of things. For example (pulling numbers from thin air here for example purposes only), let's say that anytime I get in my car and pull onto the street, the odds of me having an accident on that trip are 2000 to 1 against me having an accident. That doesn't mean that I will have an accident when trip 2000 rolls around, just that the odds of me having an accident are very low for EVERY trip.

Now, let's say that I've had a few glasses of wine before pulling out on the street. My odds of having an accident have increased, but the question is by how much have the odds worsened. If I've only had a couple of glasses, the odds of me having an accident might be 1950 to 1 against me having an accident. Have the odds worsened? The answer is likely "yes", but not by much. Now, if I've finished off 2 bottles of wine before entering the street, the odds of me having a problem on the road will likely be a lot worse, say 400 to 1 that I will not have an accident. Have the odds worsened? Yes? But the odds are still in my favor, but not nearly as much.

For too many people, the fact that some drinkers do have accidents means that all drinkers will have accidents sooner or later. But that's not the case. I might drink 2 bottles of wine on a thousand separate occassions, then drive afterwords and never get in an accident. In other words, odds are just that, odds. It doesn't mean a particular outcome will happen.

Another example, flipping a coin. The odds are 50:50, right? Yet you may do 1,000 flips and record 600 heads and 400 tails. Does that mean the odds are 60:40? No, the odds are always 50:50 for each flip of the coin. You might do another 1,000 flips, and the total for the 2,000 flips might be 975 heads and 1,025 tails, but the odds for each INDIVIDUAL flip are still 50:50, heads or tails.

Now, getting back to DUI's. As Radley Balko notes on his blog, most serious accidents involving DUI's show that the drunk driver has a BAC of 0.14 or higher. Does that mean that every driver with a BAC of .14 or higher will have an accident? No, it only means they are more likely to have an accident as compared to those drivers that have a BAC lower than 0.14.

I guess my point is this. A tragedy is still a tragedy, whether the driver that caused the tragedy is at 0.14 BAC, 0.12 BAC, 0.06 BAC, or 0.0 BAC. The aversion some of us have to alcohol colors our assessement of these things. You combine that with a misundstanding of odds and risk and all you get is just another example of moralizing, and not analysis.

This is type of thinking is very similar to the thinking people have that support drug prohibitions. They reason that because some users DO become addicts, it is inevitable that ALL users will become addicts, therefore no one should use drugs and prohibition is warranted. That's just not the case folks.

The Wire Taps

Once again, the usually reliable Wall Street Journal gets it right in their editorial over the surveillance of international calls of terrorist suspects. You can read it here.

Here's a one interesting excerpt from the editorial:

The mere Constitution aside, the evidence is also abundant that the Administration was scrupulous in limiting the FISA exceptions. They applied only to calls involving al Qaeda suspects or those with terrorist ties. Far from being "secret," key Members of Congress were informed about them at least 12 times, President Bush said yesterday. The two district court judges who have presided over the FISA court since 9/11 also knew about them.

They close with this:

The NSA wiretap uproar is one of those episodes, alas far too common, that make us wonder if Washington is still a serious place. Too many in the media and on Capitol Hill have forgotten that terrorism in the age of WMD poses an existential threat to our free society. We're glad Mr. Bush and his team are forcefully defending their entirely legal and necessary authority to wiretap enemies seeking to kill innocent Americans.


Monday, December 19, 2005

The Grinch and the "War on Christmas"

I was channel surfing Friday night and came across the last half or so of the animated Christmas classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Watching it, I couldn't help but think about our current Christmas controversies and the so-called "War on Christmas".

As most are familiar with the story, I won't go into the whole thing except the very ending. In the story, after the Grinch has stolen all the presents, decorations, and food from Whoville, he expects the citizens of Whoville to be miserable on Christmas Day. But, on the follwoing morning, when he hears them rejoicing anyway, he learns that Christmas is in the heart and that the presents, decorations, and feasting are only symbols of the joy, not the joy itself.

Many Christians are upset about some of the things that have happened regarding religion and Christmas in the public square over the last few decades. Perhaps these folks should take another look at this timeless story and review their political priorities.

I have a few questions:
  • Is it really that important to you that there be a creche on government property during Christmas time?
  • If a creche isn't there, how does that affect you or your church's Christmas celebrations?
  • Is politcal strength the same as spiritual strength?
  • How do these political battles over Christmas serve Christ and his message of salvation and redemption?
I posted a couple of other musings on all this here and here. When the government says its citizens can't celebrate Christmas in their own homes and churches, then we have a problem. Until then, keep your powder dry.

Friday, December 16, 2005

King Kong - RACIST!!!!

You know, sometimes a banana is just a banana. And sometimes a story about a giant ape is just a story about a giant ape, and not a metaphor about white supremacy and European colonialism. Here's a column by James Pinkerton touching on these themes in Newsday. (Hat tip Ann Althouse)

I think one of the comments posted to Ann's blog said it best:

As for racism: If some tweedy guy is saying that a gigantic ape represents black people, I think that says more about his racism than the movie's.
Couldn't have said it better myself.

Go check out the reviews for King Kong here at rottentomatoes.com.

"War on Christmas" Satire

Here's an amusing piece from Chris Davis at the National Ledger website.

Ladies and gentlemen, Christians have struck the first blow in the "War on Christmas". Hilarious.

More on the Iraqi elections

Here's an interesting editorial from today's WSJ on yesterday's Iraqi elections. Note that email registration may be required.

While the entire article is informative and interesting, this excerpt really caught my eye:

Another mark of success is that no one really knows which parties will emerge victorious. In that sense, the vote was more genuinely competitive than the average U.S. Congressional election.
Ponder that second sentence for a moment. It really is true. Both parties have gerrymandered so many safe seats for themselves over the decades that the outcomes of most elections in most districts is a foregone conclusion.

I think it was author and columnist Jacob Sullum who commented recently that he found it rather ironic and hypcritical that our elected representatives would pontificate about steroids affecting the competitive nature of sports, when these same representatives do everything in their power to make sure their own elections are as uncompetitive as possible.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

More WOD nonsense

Here's a beauty from the folks at the ironically named Accuracy in Media. It's written by stalwart right-winger Cliff Kincaid. You can read it in its entirety here.

Kincaid's story tells about a rapist/murderer that was a pot smoker. I'll not bore you with Kincaid's purple prose other than this is supposed to be exhibit A in why marijuana, let alone any other drug, should not be legalized. Folks, I've read some male bovine excrement in my day, but this ranks right up there with the best (worst?) of it.

The fact of the matter is that there are bad eggs in every demographic group. There are bad white people and bad black people, there are bad poor people and bad rich people, there are bad men and bad women, and yes, there are bad drug users. This guy Joseph Smith is one of those and he deserves punishment for what he did to his victim. He would deserve it whether he'd never touched a joint or whether he's smoked thousands.

But is it fair of Kincaid to extrapolate this man's crimes to all drug users? Of course not. When someone drunk on alcohol commits a vicious criminal act, do we condemn all consumers of alcoholic beverages as bad people? Of course we don't.

Kincaid sets up his own strawman arguments and then knocks them down. For instance:

The case itself has gotten enormous publicity, of course, and some reports have noted that his lawyers tried to get the jurors to avoid use of the death penalty on the ground that he was using either heroin or cocaine when he destroyed the little girl's life. But we could find only a few accounts about his use of the "soft" drug, marijuana, that we have repeatedly been told has no relation to one's use of harder drugs later in life.

No Mr. Kincaid, what you've been repeatedly told is that marijuana smokers are more likely to use other drugs as compared to those who have never ever never smoked marijuana ever at all, ever. However, it does not mean that they WILL go on to use other drugs. All this correlation really proves is that someone who is willing to accept the risks associated with marijuana use is more likely to risk other drugs, that's all. Most marijuana smokers never move on to other drugs, but some do. As for those folks that do move past marijuana, the vast majority don't wind up killing and raping a young girl like this dirtbag did.

Here's why this marijuana/harder drugs correlation is meaningless. If I were to say to you that beer drinkers are, say, 20 times more likely to drink hard liquor than those who don't drink beer at all, no one would bat an eye. Why? Because it only makes sense that someone who already drinks beer might take on the greater risks of hard liquor as compared to those who won't even sample a beer now and then. So is it really any surprise that pot smokers are more likely to do other drugs as compared to those who don't do marijauna at all? Not in the least, but propagandists like Kincaid would have you believe otherwise.

Folks, we have about 40K violent deaths every year in this country. We have around 30 million users of "illegal" drugs annually. Do the math. If marijuana usage is supposed to lead to violent criminal acts, wouldn't the number of violent deaths be several times the number I quoted?

In fact, I would argue that the 40K number would be much lower if drugs were legalized. How's that you ask? The criminalization of drug possession has created a lucrative black market run by ruthless, greedy thugs. They will do anything to keep making their money and will resort to violence and murder to protect themselves and their profits. A fair number of that 40K are the direct results of drug prohibition. Remove prohibition and that number drops by several thousand, perhaps 10K or more.

Sadly, Kincaid's screed is what passes for reasoned debate from so many WOD supporters. What's even more sad is that many folks will fall for Kincaid's so-called "logic", lapping it up like ambrosia from the gods.

Iraqi elections

Well, it's another amazing day in world history as Iraqis go to the polls to elect their government. Freedom loving people the world over should rejoice. Sad to say, there are many Americans not happy about this day, as it puts President Bush's policies in Iraq in a favorable light. Go figure.

The Mudville Gazette has a post here on Iraqi news coverage of elections now and then (hat tip instapundit).

Hooters in the news

Once again, the restaurant chain Hooters finds itself in the news. Here's an editorial from the Daily News in Philadelphia, opining on a former Hooters waitress' sexual harassment suit against the chain. I have to say, I find nothing to disagree with in this particular editorial.

Let's be honest here, Hooters is a restaurant chain that makes its money by selling decent pub grub and cold brews, all served by comely young waitresses dressed in tight t-shirts and short shorts. The mode of dress of its wait staff is well known to one and all. The name of the chain gives the game away, as hooters is a slang term for a woman's breasts (as anyone who has watched a few episodes of Married With Childern can atest to).

Any waitress that expects to work in a sexually neutral atmosphere should not take a job at an establishment named Hooters. End of story. I'm hungy now, where's the nearest Hooters?

Cory Maye update

Radley Balko provides a comprehensive post about the Cory Maye case here. I first posted on the Maye case here, linking to Balko.

I've reviewed Balko's latest post and nothing there changes my opinion that Maye acted in self-defense. As I ask in my earlier post, were Maye's actions reasonable under the circumstances? It seems to me they were.

Here's something from Balko's update that I found interesting:

Smith was arrested without incident. Significant quantities of marijuana were found in his home. Both Maye's current and former attorneys say Smith was never charged for drug possession or distribution. District Attorney McDonald says he doesn't remember Smith being charged or convicted. Maye was never charged with a drug crime. So the only criminal charge of any kind to come out of this raid was the murder charge against Maye. (emphasis added)
Note that Smith was the neighbor in the adjoining duplex apartment.

You can see from the above that is was the police action, under the WOD mandate, that got Officer Jones killed and Maye convicted as his murderer. It's not the drugs that are the problem here, it is the misguided war on drugs that led to all this. Absent the WOD, Officer Jones is still alive, and Maye is still at home taking care of his family.

I freely admit that my opposition to the WOD colors my opinion of this case. You see, I think the WOD is the biggest injustice being perpetrated on people in this country to day. This case is more proof of that.

Even if Maye himself was a marijuana smoker, it was the war on drugs that caused him to grab a gun one evening to defend himself and his daughter against what he thought was a criminal home invasion. The injustice of siccing law enforcement on people like Maye and those that supply their habits has led to more injustice. In this case, the tragic death of a young police officer and the imprisonment of Maye, sitting on death row.

I have to ask the questions again. Is stopping people from doing drugs worth Officer Jones' life? Is it worth Cory Maye's life? Is using "illegal drugs" any different than getting smashed on beer, wine, or whiskey? If not, why are we treating "illegal drug" users differently from alcohol users? Isn't it obvious that when the law treats morally equal behaviors differently, injustice, by definition, is created?

I'll have more WOD posts in the future.

McNabb vs. Mondesire

Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb has received some harsh criticisms from J. Whyatt "Jerry" Mondesire, the head of the NAACP in Philadelphia in an article in the Philadelphia Sun. You can read Mondesire's entire article in the body of this story here in the Philidelphia Daily News. One caveat here, Modesire is not speaking for the NAACP, but for himself only.

My take? Well, like the comments at the bottom of the linked article, Mondesire does score some points as to McNabb's play. I my own opinion, McNabb is a slightly better than average QB on a very solid team. And the Eagles record prior to this year's disasterous season speaks for itself, with four straight NFC Championship Game appearances and a trip to the Super Bowl earlier this year. There's many an NFL franchise that would gladly trade places with the Eagles over this same period.

As for Mondesire's assertion that McNabb is playing the race card? I don't see it. It's a shame really. McNabb seems like a pretty decent guy just trying to do his best for his team like most pro atheletes. The only person I see playing the race card here is Mondesire himself, using his stature as the head of the NAACP to blast a QB when he's down and hoping his position in the NAACP will lend credibility to it. Shameful.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Hollywood hurting?

Tammy Bruce gives her opinion why movie theater box office receipts are down here.

While left-wing preachiness in movies certainly does keep many viewers away from the theater, I suspect it's the competition movies face with other mediums as a major factor for fewer folks going to the show.

Prior to television, movies were the main supplier of popular viewing entertainment. Even with television, movies still held their own for some time, mostly from habit by the movie going public. However, once cable television came on the scene, more people in more places had more viewing choices right in their own homes. Beginning in the late 1970's, cable was being installed in nearly every city, town, or village in the country. During this same time period, cable programming began to expand with cable only content like ESPN, superstations like WTBS, and premium channels like HBO. Of course, satellite TV has continued this trend. Nowadays, most homes have dozens, of not hundreds, of channels of programming to choose from.

Add to this the new mediums of VHS and DVD, and people can watch uncut, uninterrupted movies in their homes for a lot less than a night out at the cineplex. Many people own wide screen or projection TV's these days too, creating a more movie-like home viewing experience.

People will throng to the theater to see larger-than-life stories on the larger-than-life big screen of the theater. But most movies don't qualify as larger-than-life. Ordinary dramas, comedies (romantic or otherwise), melodramas, and most thrillers are nothing special on the big screen, and whatever viewing pleasure they provide is not lost when viewed on the smaller screen.

A review of the biggest box office draws over the last several years bears this out. The LOTR movies, the Potter movies, Gladiator, Seabiscuit, Star Wars, Spiderman, among others, are all larger-than-life spectacles. While they are still enjoyable on TV, there's no substitute for seeing these movies on the big screen of the theater.

In short, people go the movies to be entertained. Most don't want to be preached to when they buy their movie ticket. Movies that are not much different from ordinary TV fare will do smaller box office than those that thrill us in ways TV viewing can't. Everyone better get used to it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

No reprieve for Tookie

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger decided to let stand the death sentence in the case of Stanley "Tookie" Williams. You can read about it here.

I commend the Governor on his decision. Mr. Williams murdered four people and does not deserve any mercy from the people of California.

Of course, Mr. Williams and his lawyers were clever in conducting their campaign to get Tookie off of death row. Tookie's main claim to clemency was some children's books he authored while in prison where he discourages youngsters from joining street gangs. From this, his lawyers were able to recruit the usual Hollywood liberals to his cause.

The fact of the matter, however, is that those books were likely written by his lawyers, not Tookie himself. Another little known fact about those books is that only a few hundred were ever printed. But the mere fact that anti-gang literature could be attributed to a gang leader was enough to get many on the "spare Tookie" bandwagon.

I take no joy in Tookie's demise. While he is responible and accountable for his own misdeeds, he and others like him are the creation of the black power movements of the 60's and 70's which were legitimized by white liberals. The lives of countless numbers of young black men have been wasted by their acceptance of the belief that behind every white face is a white KKK hood. On top of that you can throw in the War on Drugs that creates a lucrative black market and the mob violence it generates, and the creation of men like Tookie Williams is inevitable.

Yes, Tookie deserves to die for his crimes. However, if we truly wish to end the cycle of violence that plagues many of our cities, we will bring an end to the misguided and ill-conceived War on Drugs.

UPDATE: There was no stay of execution granted for Williams by the federal courts. He's been executed for his crimes.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Another WOD "victory"

Those that know me personally or have visited here before know that I oppose the War on Drugs (WOD). This story from Instapundit last Thursday is one of the many reasons why I take the position that I do.

The story recounts the events one tragic evening that lead to the death of a young police officer and the arrest, trial and conviction of the Mississippi man who shot him. The shooter, Cory Maye, sits on death row, convicted of murder.

The basics are that police raided Maye's duplex apartment at around 11:30 PM around two years ago. Maye, not knowing it was the police breaking in, grabbed a pistol and fired at Officer Jones who had charged in. Only after firing did the other officers identify themselves as police. Maye immediately slid the gun away from himself after he learned it was the police. This is Maye's version of events, as the officers claim to have identified themselves before entering.

Radley Balko of The Agitator blog has all the details in the following posts, in chronological order:

As you can see, Mr. Balko has been rather busy here.

While I'm certainly sorry that Officer Jones was killed that night, it seems to me, given all the facts surrounding this incident, that Cory Maye acted reasonably under the circumstances.

Put yourself in Maye's place that evening. You are sitting at home asleep in a chair. You are startled from your sleep by someone entering your duplex apartment. Fearing for your safety and that of your daughter, you grab your gun. A person enters your daughter's darkened bedroom and you open fire. After firing, someone yells "Police!" and you stop shooting and give up your weapon. If you don't know the intentions of strangers entering your house, would you have acted differently than Maye?

Here's an excerpt from Balko's Dec. 11 post Maye, Self-Defense, and Paramilitary Drug Raids :

And therein lies the problem with hyper-militarized, highly-weaponized drug raids. Citizens on the other end of these raids are expected to behave perfectly rationally. They're supposed to be cognizant, alert, and aware that it is police, and not illegal intruders, who are storming their homes. At the same time, police typically justify the tactics used in no knocks -- including raiding late at night or just before dawn, and deploying dangerous "flashbang" grenades designed to confuse and bewilder a house's occupants -- for the precise reason that they catch drug suspects off guard, and disorient them. How, then, can they turn around and say that the innocent victim of a no-knock who shoots back should have known better?

The residents in these raids are damned if they do, and damned if they don't. If you act to defend yourself in one of these raids and are injured or killed by police it's considered your fault. Conversely, if you injure or kill a police officer in one of these raids acting in self-defense, it's still your fault. Folks, when the police behave like the bad guys, bad things are going to happen.

Whatever happened to the notion that a man's home was his castle? Two words, the toilet. Before the advent of these "no knock" or "knock and enter" raids, the police announced themselves and waited at the door. While waiting, the occupants could quickly flush the contraband down the toilet. The police then are let in and no evidence is found. Thus the advent of these types of raids. As blogger M. Simon once put it, authorities have decided that securing the evidence (if any) is more important than the safety of the residents or the police.

One man lies dead, and another awaits death. The reason? Because a majority of us some how can't live with the idea that some folks like to use drugs recreationally, like millions do with alcohol. The injustice continues.......

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Fearless Prediction 2

The movie The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe will get very good reviews, though many reviewers will harp about the Christian allegory present in the story.

It will do great box office because:

  • It is the movie adpatation of the first book in a series of well known and beloved children's fanatsy adventures and has a large following
  • Large numbers of Christians will flock to see the movie due to the well-known Christian symbolism in the book
  • It will appeal to the non-Christian as a rousing fantasy/adventure ala The Lord of the Rings trilogy

Editor: This really isn't that fearless of a prediction.

I know, neither is my prediction for Brokeback Mountain, I just wanted to re-use the title.

Editor: Oh. Okay. I'm cool with that.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Fearless Prediction

The movie Brokeback Mountain will get mostly rave reviews but do poorly at the box office. The controversial subject matter will make most reviewers go ga-ga over the film, but the movie will not draw in many viewers as most movie goers will not be interested in seeing a film about two bisexual cowboys.

Home PC is back up

Yippee!!!! A friend of a friend was able to get my PC unclogged. So now I'm back in business. Look out world..... LOL

Home PC is down

No posts from your humble author for the last couple of days, as my home PC is not working properly. I hope to have that resolved in the next couple of days.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Return of the King....Kong that is

After his triumph with The Lord of Rings movie trilogy, New Zealand director Peter Jackson returns to theaters this month with his remake of the 1933 classic King Kong. It looks like Mr. Jackson is going to create more box office gold with his re-telling of the Kong story.

I've seen the previews and you can too by clicking here. You will be blown away. Well, I was anyway.

What I especially appreciate is the fact that Jackson filmed this as a period piece, set in the 1930's like the original. It's much more dramatic to see the great ape do battle with bi-planes than with modern jets, as was done in the forgettable 1977 King Kong re-make.

Looks like it's going to be a fun 3 hour ride down at the cineplex this holiday season.

Can't Jackson make a movie shorter than 3 hours? - Editor

Probably, but do you really care?

I guess not, I just hope my bladder can take it. - Editor

Me too. See you at the movies.

Friday, December 02, 2005

More culture war nonsense - Part 2

This story from worldnetdaily.com reports that some social conservatives are up in arms, believing that President Bush made a joke at the expense of Jesus during the White House Christmas Tree lighting festivities.

Here what President Bush said as reported in the article:

The lighting of the National Christmas tree is one of the great traditions in our nation's capital. Each year, we gather here to celebrate the season of hope and joy – and to remember the story of one humble life that lifted the sights of humanity. Santa, thanks for coming. Glad you made it.

It seems that some Christians thought President Bush was demeaning the birth of Jesus by saying "Santa, thanks for coming." immediately after alluding to the birth of Jesus in his previous sentence.

They would be right except for the fact that there was a brief pause before President Bush began actually speaking to a man dressed as Santa Claus. Here's the full text:

Each year, we gather here to celebrate the season of hope and joy – and to remember the story of one humble life that lifted the sights of humanity.

<<"brief pause">>

Santa, thanks for coming. Glad you made it. I know you've got a lot of commitments this time of year. By the way, we have a lot of chimneys at the White House if you're looking for something to do.

PEOPLE!!!!! He was talking to an actor dressed as Santa for goodness sakes!

I've been hard on the soccons (social conservatives) over the last few days, however, I have to show a little love to them as some of the folks over at freerepublic.com didn't fall for this faux Christian slam. Way to go.

Still, a few freepers did grumble that President Bush did not mention Jesus by name. Again, people, lighten up.

George Walker Bush is not the President of Jesusland; nor is he the country's elected spiritual leader; nor is he the Pope. He is the President of the United States of America. That means he is the President to ALL Americans. That's right, saint or sinner, Christian or Jew, black or white, male or female, young or old, rich or poor, straight or gay, Bush supporter or Bush opponent, GWB is serving as President to all of them. He can't play favorites, especially in the area of religion.

Isn't it enough that he referred to the birth of Jesus in his comments? This wasn't a church service, this was a civic ceremony. Don't you understand that mentioning Jesus by name in a political, civic ceremony might be interpreted as Christian evangelizing by some, and seen as improper? Do you think it would be a good idea politically for GWB to insert an evangelical message in his statements? Are you so insecure in your own faith that you need the public affirmations of politicians to make you more secure? Do you enjoy trying to rachet up the tension in the "culture war"?

One of the freepers commented that it seems many Christians these days are walking around with a hundred chips on their shoulders, waiting for any little thing to knock them off. I'm sad to say I have to agree with that assessment.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Trying to right the Right

In some of my recent posts to this blog, I've been quite critical of the political Right, and specifically the self-described social conservatives.

Let me give the reasons for this:
  1. When I criticize social conservatives, I'm not challenging their moral views. I understand that social conservatives truly believe in Biblical moral teachings and that we would have better society if everyone lived as they do. With that said, what I am taking exception to is the idea that it is proper to impose those views on the whole via majoritarian politics. The question is whether it is fair and proper for the faithful to expect the unfaithful to live as if they are part of the faithful. From my understanding of the Bible, it is not fair, and in fact, we (the faithful) shouldn't expect the unredeemed to live as the redeemed. My criticisms is my effort to show them the error of their ways.
  2. I'm convinced that all this moral posturing in the political arena isn't good for Christianity and its mission to bring the Gospel to the masses. Social conservatives need to understand that religion, including Christianity, hasn't always acquitted itself well throughout the annals of history. Ordinary folks, many religious themselves, get nervous when they see other religious people combining religion and politics into one orthodoxy. They begin to see you as zealots, and zealotry combined with government power is a dangerous thing in their minds. In short, the moral political crusades of the social conservatives may make them feel good, but it's turning others who fear moral political crusaders against Christianity.
  3. I'm also convinced that the moral objectives of the social conservatives are detrimental to the long-term political prospects of the Right. Many centrist, moderate voters like the conservative policies of low taxes, strong defense, limited government, and the free market economy. But most are not enthralled by the social policies espoused by the social conservatives. They see it for the religious orthodoxy that it is, and it flies in the face of freedom of religion as they see it. In other words, they are reluctant to hand the reigns of power to people they regard as religious zealots.
  4. Lastly, I'm convinced that the "morals" laws already on the books have led and continue to lead to massive amounts of injustice in our country. These laws receive wide bi-partisan support because religious people support these laws without question. As mentioned above, it's wrong for the redeemed to expect the unredeemed to live a holy life. The morals laws (vice and drug laws) currently in force are not fair to the unsaved and brings the power of the state to bear on these people unjustly. Christians should be hard at work trying to bring redemption to the sinner, not jailing them for not living like Christians. Christians, of all people, should not be the source of any injustice, especially to sinners.

So there you have it. I'll be going into these themes in more detail in future posts. I want the libertarian Right to be successful politically, but I believe it won't be as long as the social conservatives remain intransigent in their moral crusades, driving away the moderates of the Left and Right. I also want Christians to be successful in helping their fellow Americans live a better life via moral persuasion, and forego the improper use of government and the stick that it carries.