Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

Cat in the Hat

Dr. Seuss's Cat in the Hat

But would you, could you, like them with a tax?

Would you, could you, with Goldman Sachs?

Would you like it with Al Gore?

Or with Pelosi? (She’s such a bore!)

Or would you, could you, in a mob?

Since most people have no job.

Oh that’s right, the money’s tight.

So to the press and print some more!

Then just wait to see what’s next in store!

While you wait and look for hope,

And while you say “nope, nope, nope”,

I’ll take your money and spend, spend, spend.

I’ll give it to you in the end!

I’ll take your home, then your bank;

I’ll take your cars (you’ll have me to thank).

I’ll take over your health care and make you pay.

I do not care what you say.

‘Cuz in the end, I am the Boss,

And my dumb win is your dumb loss.

– Ron Sorensen (Thanks, Ron!)

P.S.  For more Dr. Seuss humor, go here.

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Sculpture of The Thinker

Sculpture of The Thinker

Heavy Thinking
===========

Are You a Problem Thinker?

It started out innocently enough. I began to think at parties now and then to loosen up. Inevitably though, one thought led to another and soon I was more than just a social thinker.

I began to think alone – “to relax,” I told myself – but I knew it wasn’t true. Thinking became more and more important to me and finally, I was thinking all the time.

I began to think on the job. I knew that thinking and employment don’t mix, but I couldn’t stop myself.

I began to avoid friends at lunchtime so I could read Thomas Sowell and Charles Krauthammer. I would return to the office dizzied and confused asking, “What is it exactly we are doing here?”

Things weren’t going so great at home either. One evening I had turned off the TV and asked my wife about the meaning of life. She spent that night at her mother’s.

I soon had a reputation as a heavy thinker. One day the boss called me in. He said, “Skippy, I like you, and it hurts me to say this, but your thinking has become a real problem. If you don’t stop thinking on the job, you’ll have to find another job.” This gave me a lot to think about.

I came home early after my conversation with the boss. “Honey,” I confessed, “I’ve been thinking…”

“I know you’ve been thinking,” she burst, “and I want a divorce!”

“But Honey, surely it’s not that serious.”

“It is serious,” she said, lower lip aquiver. “You think as much as college professors and college professors don’t make any money, so if you keep on thinking we won’t have any money!”

“That’s a faulty syllogism,” I said impatiently, and she began to cry. I’d had enough. “I’m going to the library,” I snarled as I stomped out the door.

I headed for the library, in the mood for some William F. Buckley, Jr., with Dennis Prager on the radio. I roared into the parking lot and ran up to the big glass door… they didn’t open. The library was closed.

To this day, I believe that a Higher Power was looking out for me that night.

As I sank to the ground clawing at the unfeeling glass, yearning for a few lines from Edmund Burke, a poster caught my eye. “Friend, is heavy thinking ruining your life?” it asked. You probably recognize that line. It comes from the standard Thinker’s Anonymous poster.

Which is why I am what I am today: a recovering thinker. I never miss a TA meeting. At each meeting we watch a non-educational video; last week it was “Idiocracy”. Then we share experiences about how we avoided thinking since the last meeting.

I still have my job and things are a lot better at home. Life just seemed… easier, somehow, as soon as I stopped thinking.

* My true confession is that I can’t take credit for this, but I don’t remember where I got the original version.

“[D]reams of perfecting human society always runs smack into human nature.”

— Thomas Lifson, editor and publisher at American Thinker

When I hear people from other countries bad-mouthing the U.S., it bugs me. Don’t they see that we’re the good guys? Can’t they see what a great society we have here? But, what really bothers me is when Americans bad-mouth America. These people actually live here, yet, to hear some of them talk, you’d think we were the equivalent of Apartheid South Africa or Nazi Germany. Why is that? Why do these people only see evil and corruption and all the imperfections?

In a debate with Gore Vidal and Richard Higgs about why America is hated, Hoover Institution scholar and author Dinesh D’Souza was asked by the moderator why he thought that very bright, literate, and well-spoken people such as Vidal and Higgs could feel so profoundly “alienated” from the United States as it exists now.

Dinesh D'Souza

A very youthful-looking Dinesh D'Souza

D’Souza’s response:

One reason they are alienated is that they are Americans. And, by this I mean it is a peculiarity of America to generate within the country a kind of anti-Americanism that I don’t see other countries generating. And I’ve asked myself why that is. I think one reason is that I’m comparing America to other countries. I’m using an historical or comparative standard. Americans tend to use a Utopian standard. They tend to judge America by a standard that no other country could survive, and therefore they smearingly say, ‘Well, Americans are only pursuing their self-interests. They’re only after oil. They’re only after resources.’ But we expect everybody else to pursue their self-interests. So, the very fact… I mean, if the Chinese or the Arabs killed 10,000 of their own people, what is the world reaction? Most people sigh and then they go back to eating their breakfast. And why? Because people kind of expect the Chinese and the Arabs to do that. But, if America in the middle of a war accidentally kills 200 people — bombs a school or hospital — it’s a worldwide outrage, there are protests, there’s an investigation, people are halled before the Hill.

What does this mean? This, to me, testifies to the moral superiority of America, because it is judged by its own residents (and by others) by a standard that no other country could meet.”

I think D’Souza is definitely onto something here. (Although, I might have qualified that it is more often those Americans on the political “center-Left” who tend to use a Utopian standard. The farther Left, the more irrational the expectations. But, I digress….) Despite all the good the U.S. has done and continues to do — e.g., provide its citizens unmatched freedoms and opportunities; fight fascism and remove brutal dictators; donate billions of dollars’ worth of food, medicine, construction materials & labor, and other aid (from both the government and private citizens & organizations); forgive debts of poor nations; etc. –, it is never sufficient for those looking for perfection and constantly suspicious of our nobler motives.

Of course (and D’Souza has said as much elsewhere), this is not to say we should ignore the shortcomings of the U.S., both present and historical. President Obama certainly likes to apologize to the world for America whenever he travels, just as he continuously pointed out America’s shameful imperfections — or, at least, what he perceives them to be — while on the campaign trail. (Which he still seems to be on, come to think of it.) But, whereas the Left tend to harp on the negative and accuse and self-flagellate and dwell in the past, the Right tend to acknowledge — that is, when it can be agreed that injustice has been done — and press forward, striving to do better. (Ironic that the Left likes to be called “Progressive”, huh? Who are they trying to convince?)

Alright, I’ll stop before I get off on a tangent. (F.y.i., I am planning a multi-parter on American exceptionalism in the next few weeks, so stay tuned for that….)

Now, maybe my “right-wing bias” is showing, and I am generalizing, but that’s how I see it. Anyone agree? Disagree? Half ‘n half? Is D’Souza off his rocker? Am I? (No comments from my relatives, thank you very much.)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

Consider the following facts:

1) Gov. Schwarzenegger signed a law requiring that 1/3 of the electricity produced in California by 2020 must be from “renewable sources”; solar and wind energy are the favored options.

2) The best location in CA for wind farms and solar plants (which need a LOT of relatively flat land, by the way)? Answer: The Mojave Desert, ‘cuz it’s, well,… mostly flat, hot, & windy

3) A lot of progress toward the 2020 goal would be reached with a planned 13 large wind farms and solar plants.

I’m not a huge believer in the practicality of solar & wind power, at least not on a large-scale and with the present level of technology. But, at least this seemed like it would be a decent effort on the part of environmentalists, especially those with money and the power to do something.

Wind farm in Germany

Tauernwindpark, a wind farm in Germany

Enter: Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, which naturally controls the Interior Department’s budget. Feinstein has introduced a “desert preservation” bill — which will likely pass, given her position — that will, among other things, declare a million acres of prime Mojave acreage permanently off-limits to development, including for solar plants and wind farms. Now, that may only be about 1/16th of the whole desert. But, of course, there are things — like cities and lakes and parks and mountains and tourist areas — that make much of the rest of the area unsuitable for putting up a bunch of big windmills and solar panels.

Feinstein’s legislation blocks the aforementioned plans, which, ironically, puts her at odds with her fellow-environmentalist, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Kennedy’s venture capital firm has invested in a company that would be opening one of those solar plants. “This is arguably the best solar land in the world, and Sen. Feinstein shouldn’t be allowed to take this land off the table without a proper and scientific environmental review,” complained Kennedy. The bill will immediately shut down about a dozen projects, or roughly 10% of those currently under review by the Bureau of Land Management. If the land in question was no better than any other for these projects, I might be more sympathetic. But, apparently, it isn’t.

Solar One power plant

Solar One power plant in the Mojave Desert

Feinstein thinks the sight of the solar plants and wind farms from the freeway will ruin the view. (Ironically again, this was the Kennedy family’s complaint when someone wanted to erect wind turbines off Cape Cod.) The question has been raised: “Why is the view from some freeway sacrosanct, whereas building such plants elsewhere in the state is OK?” Also, consider that the average nuclear plant, which is the size of a football field, can reliably supply the electricity that solar plants and wind farms covering many square miles do unreliably. But, of course, Feinstein and her friends are anti-nuclear energy, too.

As Gary Jason concluded in his “Power Play” article for Liberty Magazine (not available online), apparently some environmentalists aren’t as serious about energy production as they like to claim.

Have you ever been a member of a group (e.g., Boy Scouts, Democratic Party, teachers’ union), or do you self-identify with some group (e.g., skeptics/ agnostics, Christians, political conservatives)? I suspect the answer is, “Yes, several.”

diverse group of people

Multi-ethnic, possibly mult- other stuff, group of people

Now, have you ever seen or heard someone from your group — or, at least, whom outsiders associate as part of your group — saying/doing something stupid, repugnant, or otherwise embarrassing? Yeah, me too.

Sometimes the offending party is someone who holds to the same ideas & principles as you and the rest of your group and who is normally a “fine, upstanding member.” But, something just sets them off on this particular occasion and you wish they would just shut up and go home. Or, maybe, it turns out the individual has a particular vice or, er, shortcoming that suddenly gets some attention. Once in awhile, though, there is some far-xxxxx radical or idiot or nutjob who is singled out by the media and gives your whole group a bad name. I hate when that happens. (OK, ok, I “strongly dislike” when that happens. Don’t want to be labeled a “hater”.)

For me, as far as the first type goes, it might be someone like Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter. I don’t follow either of them closely, but I’ve read at least one book by each, and when I hear/read them or about something they’ve said, I generally agree. Their styles occasionally grate on me, but we’re basically on the same page on most things. But, once in awhile, they will say or do something that will make me cringe that was, shall we say, tactically unwise, at best. (At least in the way it was phrased.) For example, Limbaugh’s addiction to prescription drugs or Coulter’s remarks about the 9/11 widows “enjoying” their husbands’ deaths. Groan!

As for the second, more radical type, I think of people like the “Christian” militia group who are currently in the news, or the Westboro Baptist Church whose members are always showing up & getting on camera with their signs & placards that says stuff like “God Hates Fags!” (I’m not Baptist, but I’ve known quite a few, and none of them were hatemongers like this crowd.) Now, I may actually agree on a couple very basic points with both of these two groups — uh oh, I’m in trouble now — but their rather extremist views (especially on certain topics) and activities are not something I can agree with or, in good conscience, condone. I’m sure other examples come to your mind, as well.

But, of course, the media love to jump on it, the bloggers eat it up, and those who hold opposing positions to yours will paint your whole group with the same broad brush. It’s frustrating and sometimes makes you want to scream, “I’m not one of them! I don’t hold that view, so don’t lump me in with those morons!”

I was trying to think of what an equivalent example might be for someone who is “on the other side of the aisle” from me politically, theologically, philosophically, etc. It’s not easy, especially when there are so many far-Lefties in both federal government and the news & entertainment industries embracing, literally and figuratively, Communist dictators like Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro. Is the “average” Democrat or liberal as disturbed by this as I am?

One possible example is those more “reserved” homosexuals who are exasperated by some of the antics of the “flamers” and more in-your-face activists. Another possibility is when one of the “New Atheists” (e.g., Christopher Hitchens or Sam Harris) makes some incredibly scathing comment about the evils of religion or mocks & impugns some revered religious person. (On politics, I actually agree with Hitchens on a lot, while we are diametrically opposed on many (most?) theological/philosophical issues.) I know some atheists and agnostics that just shake their heads or roll their eyes at such provocative and, yes, judgmental comments. Any other examples you all can think of?

I guess what I’m getting at, here, is that we all need to be careful. Next time you are tempted to latch onto some wingnut’s comments or actions and accuse his/her broader ideological “community”, if you will, of being totally likeminded, take a step back. (Unless, of course, there is plenty of other evidence indicating that’s the case.) Remember how you have felt in a similar case and refrain, or at least temper or qualify your own remarks and conclusions. Or, to put it another way, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I’ll try to do the same.

Usually at this time of year, the “attacks” center on Easter Sunday, or, more appropriately, Resurrection Day. This time, however, Good Friday got some extra attention.

Isaiah 53 passage

Isaiah 53 -- "by His wounds we are healed"

The memo went out to municipal employees last week from Craig Malin, City Administrator for the town of Davenport, Iowa. From now on, Good Friday was “history”. In its place was the more ecumenical and politically correct “Spring Holiday”, or “Celebration of Spring”.

Acting on the advice (from last summer!) of the Davenport Civil Rights Commission, Malin unilaterally made the decision. Not surprisingly, the reasoning had to do with “separation of church and state” claims and sensitivity within an ethnically and religiously diverse community. (Apparently, the commission had also considered and dismissed the idea of renaming Easter Sunday, because it fell on a weekend, when government offices were already closed. Christmas, too, was a no-go.) The first problem, though, was that such policy changes must be voted on by the City Council, and they didn’t even know about it until they read it in the Quad City Times.

News of the memo spread through town like wildfire and was the topic on everyone’s minds and lips by Palm Sunday. Resistance to the name change came from two fronts. First, of course, was the religious objection from those who thought it was an attack on Christianity — typical in the culture wars these days — and that the “separation” talk was bogus. The second objection came from city employees (including police), who thought it might violate their union contract, which stipulates Good Friday (not “Spring Holiday”) as an official municipal holiday. Mayor Bill Gluba said, “I understand why people were so upset. My position is we have a lot more important issues. We’ll fix this and move on.”

And “move on”, they did. On Monday, the city issued a press release stating that:

City Administrator Malin, in error, forwarded the recommendation to staff for further review and action, leading to release of a holiday notice with the holiday named ‘Spring Holiday,’ rather than ‘Good Friday’.”

So, either someone in City Hall zealously jumped the gun on this one, or they’re trying to help Malin save face for some reason, or both. Maybe just trying to keep the peace?

Ah, well. Bottom line is that the council voted and this stupid, PC name-change of a 2000 year-old holiday has been reversed. Things in Davenport, Iowa, are as they should be. (As far as I know.) For now….

I do not like it Uncle Sam,

I do not like it Sam I Am.

I do not like these dirty crooks,

Neither how they cook the books.

I do not like when Congress steals,

I do not like their secret deals.

I do not like the speaker Nan,

I do not like this ‘YES WE CAN’.

I do not like this kind of hope,

I do not like it, nope, nope, nope!

— Nanci Lovelace

(with thanks to Hal Stempert for passing it on)

P.S.  For more Dr. Seuss humor, go here.