Sunday, January 31, 2010

Musings on Rights

...or, I love it when liberals contradict themselves...

Over at Bob S.' place last week, in the comments to this post arose quite an interesting discussion of where rights originate. One R. Stanton Scott claimed right off the bat that rights more or less depend on society -- that is, that certain rights are not inherent to humans by virtue of their very existence but are dependent on societal mores and whims. I suppose one might say that last term is a loaded one, as it implies that society would do things to bestow rights on people or strip said rights from them by way of chasing certain fads or what-have-you. But is that opinion really that far-fetched, considering what happened to the Jews and other folks in Nazi Germany? As I noted in the comments, to say that people only have the rights society decides to let them have is a recipe for discrimination, tyranny and genocide -- with Nazi Germany being a textbook illustration of that.

RSS defended his position by saying that rights being dependent on societal norms "makes them no less real." And here he contradicts himself for the first time, at least in this particular debate. If rights are dependent on societal norms and relations -- thereby subject to revocation depending on societal attitudes -- do they exist at all in any meaningful sense of the word? I would argue that they don't. If humans aren't entitled to be treated in a certain way by virtue of their very existence -- if they're only entitled to said treatment because society says they are -- then that opens the door to all sorts of scum to perpetrate all sorts of villainy upon those that societal consensus deems deserving of it. A couple of us asked if the Founders were wrong when they wrote in the Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights." RSS answered by saying yes, they were wrong, that all men were NOT created equal with certain unalienable rights, "(a)t least not the dark-skinned ones." To which I replied:

"The point about the treatment of 'the dark-skinned ones' is well-taken; however, I do not regard the Founders' failure to perceive the incongruity between their words and their actions as a justification for following generations' failure to recognize and respect inalienable rights. The treatment of 'the dark-skinned ones' was wrong. But if your view is the correct one, it was just peachy because they didn’t have the right to be considered equal anyway. After all, that was the societal consensus back then…"

To which RSS replied: "(A) 'right' to be free did not exist for slaves at the time of the Founding, since rights only exist when social understandings include the concept. This does not make such a situation just of course, or suggest that enslaving them was not unjust–it simply means the understandings of the day included a different concept of justice."

Here RSS contradicts himself yet again. If you acknowledge any kind of injustice in what certain societies did in the past, then you are necessarily acknowledging by implication that somebody's rights were violated somewhere along the way. And this, in turn, completely negates the argument that rights are dependent on societal norms and understandings, as it implies those rights were there before society decided they weren't. This leads to the question that I posed, which by the way was never answered: If rights aren't dependent on societal understandings, then where exactly do they come from? I would love to see someone answer that question who would argue that rights are not inherent to one's existence.

For a little bit there I was trying to put my finger on what exactly irks me so about that position, but I think I figured it out. It all goes back to something Sabra and I have spoken of before -- the phenomenon of moral relativism. This is exactly what the "rights are dependent on societal consensus" argument smacks of, as it implies that whatever societies decide to do to certain segments is okay. If you're going to argue that, then you necessarily have to argue that the societal consensus is just, and I think -- as the old saying goes -- down that road lies nihilistic madness. As I said in the comments:

"Society can contest certain rights to its heart's content, but the recognition -- and respect -- of a right to life is ultimately the only thing that keeps said society from descending back into the tribal warfare that Hobbes argued was man's natural state. If we're not going to acknowledge and respect the basic human right to life -- yes, inherent to one's very existence -- then what's the point of existing at all? And we can talk all day long about this individual vs. collective right manure, but the fact is that if an individual is denied the best tools of self-defense, said individual is denied the right of self-defense, which ultimately can be seen as depriving him of his right to life. Which takes us right back to the question of whether said right is inherent to one’s existence or dependent on society's whims. Do you really want to live in a world that is the latter? I sure as hell don't."

Yes, there is -- dare I say it? a certain pragmatism in acknowledging that rights are endowed upon us by our Creator. One could almost say acknowledging those rights is the only way humankind will survive. It's pretty frightening to think there are those who still think rights are what society says they are.

Friday, January 29, 2010

That's a mighty big assumption there, Sparky...

...but then, modern country fans seem to be really good at that sort of thing:

gotta love the people dissing auto tune and kanye west / t pain, I laugh at you country music extremists who only know of country, bluegrass and some southern rock
I am a listener to all genres, open your head and your ears up...

...The Fog Horn String Band
Ray Wylie Hubbard
Elvis Costello
okay so that says you like older music, which is fine but you need to mix it up with current or you’re gonna turn into one of those people who hates everything out there

This is perhaps the most common of said assumptions -- that is, that those of us who deride what much of mainstream country has become only listen to the older and more traditional country music. And the people who make these assumptions have absolutely nothing to back them up. I've said it before and I'll say it again: My dislike for new country didn't make me go back and just listen to the classic and red-dirt country. I branched out more into rock and metal and found a lot to like there, and I'd venture to say I'm not the only one. If people like that want to call people like me a "country music extremist," I don't really have a problem with that, but I really wish they'd dispense with the unfounded assumption that the old country is all we listen to.

For the record: I listened to the Fast Ryde song so as to be able to make an informed decision. It sucked. Just like I figured it might. I don't agree with everything Jim Malec writes at The 9513, but he pretty much nailed it here.

Wow, did I really read this?

Somebody made this comment to Jonathan Gurwitz's column in the San Antonio Express-News:

Do not look for a solution from the Holy Bible or the "Founding Fathers" - all the USA needs is an overdue redistribution - simply nationalize all individual wealth over $ 20 million - and use it to pay the debt and current bills. There is no sane reason why some should own billions or hundreds of millions. On the global scene the USA simply has to switch from protecting the wealthy and instead support the "average person". Luckily the USA will not and cannot do it and that is why the USA sinks hanging on to wisdom from the Holy Bible and what some rich slave-owners pretended to obscure with elegant phrases.

Did this guy say what I think he said? Is he really proposing that government, in effect, go out and confiscate American citizens' money just because he thinks they have too much? One wonders what he thinks their reactions would be. Does he really think they'd just sit there and take it and, after it was taken, go out and make more just to have IT taken from them too? I think it's safe to say people who think like that are one of the main reasons the Founding Fathers put RKBA protections in the Constitution.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Scene: Yesterday at Bill Miller's BBQ, adjacent to the San Antonio College campus just north of downtown. Sabra and I are sitting there eating breakfast, as Alan Jackson's "Good Time" comes on KJ97. I think that's perhaps my least favorite AJ tune after "Chattahoochee." And the following bit of conversation ensues:

Me: "That song makes me understand perfectly why you don't like Alan Jackson as much as I do."
Sabra: "But I LIKE that song."
Me, as I burst out laughing: "Ohhh, okay!"

She defended her like of the song by saying it was just a fluffy, fun piece -- which it is, of course. But that's all right. No one said our tastes had to line up 100 percent. They almost do, though -- a damn sight more than mine and Kitty-Eater's tastes did, I'll tell ya that right quick. ;-) Sure is nice, too.

Huh, isn't this interesting, Cody Canada and the boys doing "Whiskey River"...a damn fine job of it, too. Sabra and I agree on that!

Okay, now this is getting ridiculous.

From the letters to the editor in this morning's San Antonio Express-News:

Big money rules

By any fair legal definition, the decision by a gang of five right-wing judicial outlaws on our Supreme Court constitutes nothing less than an act of treason against the people. Corporations are not the people, and nothing in the Constitution fairly lends itself to any such interpretation. It was only an act of judicial and intellectual fraud by which any contrary holding could emerge.

The Supreme Court Five haven't just made law from the bench; they have fabricated the Constitution. And while other decisions may have nibbled around the edges of this patently dubious proposition, in one gulp this disreputable majority now presumes to swallow it whole hog.

Will there be no constraints on big money in this country? Are we reverting to a society ruled by the few, a de facto monarchy where Wall Street is king? Patrick Henry would have said, “Forbid it, almighty God.”

Robert Patton

Wow. Of all the lefty diatribes against the Citizens United v. FEC decision this is perhaps the most hysterical I've seen yet. Treason? Corporations are not the people? There they go again, claiming one particular collective is undeserving of Bill of Rights protections. Would that we could find out what Robert Patton thinks the Second Amemdment protects so I could mock him even more than I can with what he has given me to work with. But considering he labels the bloc that voted to uphold BoR protection for corporations as a "gang of...right-wing judicial outlaws," I would feel quite comfortable with betting that he comes down on the same side as do the people who mocked Heller -- that is, the wrong one.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Where does he think those ads are gonna run?

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that Washington Post lefty E.J. Dionne would be whining about the death of McCain-Feingold, but I still thought this was quite amusing:

Think of this rather persuasive moment in a chat between a corporate lobbyist and a senator: “Are you going to block that taxpayer bailout we want? Well, I'm really sorry, but we're going to have to run $2 million worth of really vicious ads against you.” The same exchange might take place on tax breaks, consumer protections, environmental rules and worker safeguards.

I alluded to this just the other day, but where does he think those ads are going to run? The only power and influence the corporations have vis-a-vis advertising is the power that the media outlets give them. If the media don't want the corporations to have that power, all they have to do is not sell them ads. All they have to do is not buy what those eeeevil corporations are trying to sell them. Hey, E.J. and all the rest of you Old Media hacks whining about this: Put your money where your damn mouth is. Go to your advertising departments and let them know when those corporations' ad reps come calling during election time to buy column-inches or airtime, that they are to tell those reps to put their money back in their pockets and hit the door. Honestly, is it really that hard to figure out? I guess it is, if you're an "Authorized Journalist."

On another note, I have noted before how appalling I think it is when said journalists use their First Amendment rights to take a dump on the Second. I thought there was nothing more despicable than that, but then I never thought I'd see anyone who'd call himself or herself a journalist use his or her own First Amendment rights to shit on OTHER people's 1A rights. But ultimately I'd guess it's more sour grapes than anything else. I remember this comment from The Bayou blog post mentioned the other day, and I'd have to say it's about right: are part of a huge corporation who has had unfettered political access for the last 63 years. The only difference between your big corporation and most others is that you a goddamned failure. It pisses you off that corporations that actually pay their talent big bucks to do their thing have now leveled the playing field with your idiot business model.

Yep. Damn journalists can piss and moan about greed and money fueling the process all day long, but I bet you deep down most of them would love to make more of that money, no matter how well they're compensated, too. And I bet you most of them know deep down that it's those eeevil corporations that help keep food in their mouths and roofs over their heads. Which is the most likely explanation of why you see them keeping their asses in their seats instead of going to the ad departments and telling the ad salespeople to stand up for principle, because deep down they know they'd be laughed out of the room for the monosynaptic mouth-breathing morons they are.

How exactly do they think...

...they're going to reconcile the two things mentioned here?

Obama will offer fresh details about how he wants to salvage an overhaul of health care, rein in the national debt and help businesses hire again. He will call for education reform and more money for schools, take responsibility for mistakes in his first year and follow up his speech with a dash to Florida to announce $8 billion in awards for high-speed rail.

Rein in the national debt, yet in the same paragraph they say he's going to demand more money for education. And how about that $8 billion for high-speed rail? I noticed that there was a mention of calling for a freeze on some domestic spending, which is all fine and good; but let's take a look at this. A freeze in some areas and an increase in others works out to still more spending overall. Combine that with the rhetoric about lowering the national debt, and what does that translate to? Looks to me like it's going to translate to yet more tax increases on teh eeeevil rich folks -- you know, the ones that provide the jobs the president says he wants to create. What kind of fantasy world do these people live in?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wow, that's pretty scary.

Or, I was a lot smarter than this at that age (emphasis mine)...

Leftists are pouring into town to rail against freewheeling capitalism during the World Social Forum, gleefully cheering the humbling of bankers and business titans by the global economic meltdown.
Gustavo de Biase, a 22-year-old Brazilian wearing a shirt proclaiming "Socialism is Liberty," said the world's leftists are convinced they can get presidents from the U.S. to Brazil to embrace policies "of respect and equality aimed at lifting the poor out of misery."

"We want to distribute the riches to people," he said. "We're fighting for a more equal society and we're saying 'Down with hunger' and 'Down with war.'"

Wants to distribute the riches to people, hmm? Exactly whose riches are we talking about here? I am going to hazard a guess that Mr. de Biase means the money made by the richer in society. Furthermore, I am also going to hazard a guess that he thinks the better-off among his people should just sit there and take it as those tyrannical idealists plunder their wallets and give their money to those who didn't earn it. One wonders what he and his kind thought of the Boston Tea Party, in which the colonists protested over a 3 percent tax. One also wonders if he sees any contradiction at all in the slogan emblazoned on his shirt -- because, at its core, socialism functions by doing exactly what he seems to want to do, plundering from the rich to give to the poor -- and that is about the furthest thing from liberty, because those people are essentially being denied the right to their property, and if you don't have that, you really don't have liberty. I guess I shouldn't be surprised at their rhetoric, but it's still disgusting.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Never thought I'd say this...

...but I gained a lot of respect for Toby Keith when I read this snippet from a CMT interview:

Speaking of award shows, at the People's Choice Awards, Keith Urban said something controversial during his acceptance speech: "I don't even care if you guys download my music illegally. I really don't care. ..." You're a head of a label. How does that strike you?

Maybe he don't care. I care. But it's his call. You have to be able to protect your copyright. The people you do have to protect in copyrights are the songwriters. So, you come to this town and you write. For 20 years, you work at Spaghetti Warehouse and you bus tables, and all of the sudden you're 38 years old, and you've been here 18 years, and all the sudden you write a song and Keith Urban goes and records it. And it's a smash. You get paid on that. If everybody downloads it for free, you don't get paid on that. So all you become is unpaid. You've offered a treasure, a piece of history to the public and they're using it to fill their dancehalls and fill their dance floors and listen to the music in their car. Put it on their iPods and all that. And if it is all for free, this guy is still at Spaghetti Warehouse. He gets nothing for it. Keith Urban gets paid. The guy at the bar that plays his music to pack the dance floor gets paid. So artists get paid because they go work and sell the T-shirts, but that songwriter won't get paid. That's the guy you have to protect.

I've heard people attempt to justify their illegal downloading of music for years by saying "the artist makes more off touring anyway," but no one ever said anything about the fact that they were in effect taking food out of the mouths of the songwriters and their families. God knows I've had enough issues with Toby Keith's post-"How Do You Like Me Now" attitude and music, but I will give credit where credit is due -- and it's due in a big, big way here. I'd hate to think Urban could be so ignorant about the business he's in that he wouldn't know that the music being paid for is one of the chief revenue sources, if not THE chief revenue source, for the songwriters. But either way that doesn't speak well for him. If Keith Urban wrote all his own songs that'd be one thing, but of course he doesn't. I know that two of his biggest hits, "Raining On Sunday" and "Making Memories Of Us," were both penned by favorite Texas singer-songwriters -- Radney Foster and Rodney Crowell, respectively. I know if I were either of those two gentlemen I'd be royally pissed off. It pisses me off anyway, actually. It's bad enough that country radio sees little to nothing that doesn't come out of Nashville worthy of playing, but here we have one of Nashville's biggest stars saying in effect it's all right to make it that much harder for the non-Nashville artists. Even if he doesn't mean to, it's almost like he's saying, "I got mine, the rest of you can go pound sand." I would love to know what folks like Crowell and Foster think of that.

(h/t The 9513)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

On the death of McCain-Feingold...

...I am not surprised that our Dear Leader is flustered by it...

The White House and Democratic lawmakers are moving swiftly to come up with new restraints on corporate political spending, including advertising limits on any company receiving bailout money, to blunt the impact of a Supreme Court ruling President Barack Obama calls “devastating.”
“We don't need to give any more voice to the powerful interests that already drown out the voices of everyday Americans,” Obama said Saturday, devoting his weekly radio and Internet address to the topic. “And we don't intend to.”
The White House is working chiefly with Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y, on a bill pushing back on the court decision. The goal is to put forward legislation within two weeks, Van Hollen said Saturday, but the choices are limited by the nature of the court's First Amendment ruling.

...because considering that he and his fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill have zero respect for the Second Amendment, why would any sentient being think they give a damn about the First? I know everyone probably thinks the Democrats are always on the side of the little man, but with their constant assaults on individual rights in so many arenas, that should have been shown as the falsehood that it was long ago. I wonder, though, what does one make of them on one hand saying one collective (the militia) is deserving of constitutional protection while another (the corporation) isn't? Is a little consistency too much to ask for here?

What really gets me, though, is the media attacking the decision in Citizens United v. FEC:
Mark your calendars, folks. Yesterday, we the people lost all control over our representation. Whether your (sic) a Democrat, Republican or conscientious objector, the U.S. Supreme Court rained on your election parade.
The court based its ruling on the notion of the corporation as individual. These entities have the same First Amendment rights as all of us. The problem, of course, is that we don't have millions at our disposal to influence elections. They do.

Huh. Here's a question all those who take that line of thought (and most of those who believe it) apparently haven't stopped to consider. Where exactly do those corporations get that money? Out of their damn fourth points of contact? If individuals don't like the tack certain corporations take politically, they are more than free to support corporations who will support the same things they do. You see to this day, for example, gunnies talking about the boycott of Smith and Wesson after the company made that deal with the Clinton DOJ and how said boycott affected the company. There's no reason that same principle can't be applied elsewhere.

And here's another thought: Most if not all the money we're talking about here is going to be spent on advertisements --- advertisements in media outlets. These media outlets are absolutely free NOT to take the money or run the ads. The ONLY way corporations get more power here is if the media GIVE IT TO THEM. Hey, Big Media? If you don't like the corporations' ability to spend their money with you, DON'T TAKE THEIR DAMN MONEY! IT REALLY IS THAT SIMPLE! Seems to me the media are only willing to stand up for the individual only to the extent their collective bottom lines won't be affected.

Sabra has more thoughts, bringing teh snark as only she can:
First off. "The court based its ruling on the notion of the corporation as individual." Damned activist judges. I mean, it's not as if corporations have been treated as individuals since at least the 1700s. Really, we need to restrict the concept of First Amendment rights to actual individuals. That way we can concentrate on important things, like ensuring strippers have the right to dance fully nude.

Yep, and if the corporations CAN'T spend the money to counter whatever media bias they encounter, the media can continue to spin whatever issues they want in whatever way they want and say, "let the corps buy an ad! Oh, wait...they CAN'T! HAHAHAHA!" But now, the media are going to have to take a look at selling that ad space, more so considering the dire financial straits in which media find themselves these days. You'd think they'd be rejoicing. I wouldn't be surprised if the ad departments and most rank-and-file reporters are, though...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

One less reason... vote for Kay Bailey Hutchison, perhaps...

Former President George H.W. Bush became the third national figure to endorse U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s bid for Texas governor Friday, following former Secretary of State James Baker earlier this week and former Vice President Dick Cheney last November.

Yep, that's right -- KBH snagged the endorsement of milquetoast drug-war and assault weapons ban supporter George H.W. Bush, perhaps the worst Republican candidate for president until they brought us Bob Dole. I thought it was curious that the reporter mentioned the number of high-profile endorsements KBH has gotten compared to the number Perry has gotten, among them former NYC mayor Rudolph Giuliani and ex-RNC chairman Haley Barbour. With national politics having gotten the United States to the point it is now, perhaps that should be an indicator of for whom NOT to vote. Nothing against Perry, really, but it seems to me that both he and Kay Bailey Hutchison aren't much more than Party apparatchiks. I have to wonder why no one's taking a closer look at Debra Medina...

Friday, January 22, 2010

You know it's bad...

...when the Chicago Tribune sees that the bloom has fallen off the rose:

In his book The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama had the insight to explain much of his political appeal. “I serve as a blank screen,” he wrote, “on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.” ...
But in his first year in office, the president has had to fill in that screen. And many Americans are disillusioned with the picture that has emerged.

I would say the people who voted for him deserved it, but for the fact that their decision dragged all of us down. And it's a sad commentary on the intelligence of the American electorate that they bought that "blank screen" gambit. Everybody believes in something. Everybody has a certain vision. And even a cursory examination of Barack Obama's record would have shown him to be exactly the "old-fashioned, big-government Democrat" the Chicago Tribune calls him out to be. I thought it was pretty funny how they lamented his supposed deference to Pelosi and Reid in Congress. Did they seriously believe Obama would have deferred to them if he didn't agree with what they had in mind? You see what he told the Republicans early last year. Does anyone seriously not think Obama would have pulled that shit with Pelosi and Reid if they had tried to pull rank on him, with all the political capital bestowed on him by virtue of his fraudulent marketing of himself as that "blank screen"? Oh well. At least his former supporters are actually starting to see the light. Better late than never, I suppose, even if they do try to use bullshit rationlizations of it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Quote of the day....

...from my Sabra, in comments to the last post:

"If you can bring home the message that certain things are unacceptable in the most memorable way possible, they are that much less likely to be continued."

Yes, indeed.

Another man with a gun ...

...helps bring a murderer to justice...

A family dispute pushed Maron Thomas to go on a rampage marked by a fury so intense that he decapitated his 2-year-old niece with a machete after killing her and four other family members, Austin County investigators said Wednesday.
Thomas then allegedly burglarized a car and was arrested around 3 a.m. after being caught trying to break into a house a mile and a half away while he was naked, investigators said. A neighbor held him at gunpoint until deputies arrived and arrested him on burglary charges. When deputies arrived, he had put on a pair of exercise shorts.

To spin this another way, there's a guy over at Bob's place basically trying to argue that folks breaking into houses and such doesn't necessarily warrant loosening of gun laws. As you longtime readers know, I try not to use any kind of argument grounded in social utility when advocating the RKBA, as I don't believe that right is subject to said arguments. But this is one of many cases in which one definitely argue the positive social utility of said right. One could even go further and point out that this is a demonstration of one of Sir Robert Peel's Nine Principles:
Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

Said principle leads to the question of how the public are going to give the deserved attention to said duties if they don't have sufficient force at their disposal. Peel's principles aren't going to work as well as they should if the public is hampered in its duty in ways the police aren't.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Another note on last night...

I was talking with my dear Sabra last night, as everything was going down in Massachusetts, and she noted that one of her Facebook friends sarcastically observed that voting Brown into the Senate was a great way to honor Teddy Kennedy's legacy. I had this to say, though it was slightly modified for this blog post:

"Hell yeah it was a great way to honor Teddy. I can think of absolutely no better way to honor that liberty-hating statist's legacy than to take a monster dump all over it."

Of course, I don't think that's what her friend meant. ;-)

And those of you who read Concerned American at WRSA know he's not the most optimistic blogger out there -- to say the least -- and even he was relatively optimistic here, even as he acknowledged that Brown "ain't The Answer." He's right, of course, but hey, we have to start somewhere. Here's hoping this use of the ballot box leads to something that saves us from having to use the next two boxes.

And on the eve of the first anniversary of the inauguration! Feel the burn hope-n-change!

On Scott Brown...

...pretty much everything has written by now -- at least in the blogosphere -- but I will say this, about this little tidbit:

Wall Street watched the election closely. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 116 points, and analysts attributed the increase to hopes the election would make it harder for Obama to make his changes to health care.

What does it say about your pet project that Wall Street does better when it looks like the prospects of said pet project getting implemented will be going down? I'd take that as a sign that maybe it wasn't so good for the economy, but then I'm not a politician. I got a huge kick out of this as well:
Ignoring the lessons of the Massachusetts race will "lead to even further catastrophe" for their party, Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Indiana, told ABC News.

"There's going to be a tendency on the part of our people to be in denial about all this," the centrist Democrat said, but "if you lose Massachusetts and that's not a wake-up call, there's no hope of waking up."

And then Nancy Pelosi had to go off and illustrate his point for him:
Pelosi insisted Tuesday that "whatever happens in Massachusetts, we will pass quality, affordable health care for all Americans and it will be soon."

Uh-huh. We'll see how that works out, won't we?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I would love to know what has changed... the black community, that has not changed so much in the rest of America...

According to a new poll conducted late last year by the Pew Research Center, hope is on the rise in black communities. Thirty-nine percent of blacks say blacks are better off now than they were five years ago. That's nearly double the 20 percent who felt that way just two years before.

I would love to know why the outlook of American blacks is so much different from the rest of the country. Something tells me not that much has changed in the black community as opposed to the rest of America. I thought it was pretty funny how Leonard Pitts used that as a springboard for what amounted to little more than fluffy rhetoric about hope and change and optimism. Speaking of hope, I would hope that it would take more than the election of a black president to make blacks think their standard of living has gotten better; but as far as I can tell, that's the only thing driving that poll result.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Apparently some residents didn't get the memo...

....that guns are baaaad news for women:

A sexual predator has been assaulting elderly women in central Texas over the past year, terrifying residents and frustrating investigators who have only a vague description of the suspect.
Beginning with the rape of a 65-year-old woman in Yoakum last January, authorities have linked eight sexual assaults or attempted sexual assaults to the suspect, who has been dubbed the “Twilight Rapist” because most of the attacks occurred around dawn. They also believe he robbed or attempted to rob four other women.
The victims have all been women, ranging in age from 65 to 91. One rape victim played piano at her church on Sundays. An 81-year-old woman scared off an intruder with a gun, firing several rounds for good measure. A 66-year-old woman was attacked twice, despite having moved across town following the first assault.

It's just too bad that 81-year-old woman didn't read the blog of a certain American expatriate living in Italy now, or she'd have come to her senses and just let that rapist have his way with her. Someone needs to help said expat blogger raise his profile so other Yoakum residents could be aware of him and read his blog so he can show them the error of their ways.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hey, wait a minute...

Maybe what we need here is some knife licensing and registration. Or something like that:

A Conroe man fatally stabbed his estranged wife and critically injured her lover early Saturday, police said.

Or perhaps they could have called 911? The cops always get there in plenty of time, right? Let us all give thanks that she had no gun, though, because guns are bad news for women, mmkay?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

This card is getting worn out...

...if, that is, it isn't already:

Some of the clergy at the Immigration Reform Convocation on Monday voiced the concern that the immigration issue was a potential “powder keg,” particularly in middle-class Republican congregations....
...the one word that was hardly mentioned, if at all, the elephant in the room, is the word “race.” Racism, in my opinion, is at the root of immigration fears, just as it is the basis for the fear of Middle Eastern citizens and immigrants.
The Rev. Arthur Preisinger, Houston

Yep, it's all about hatin' on the brown people. It could never be about upholding our laws and our national sovereignty, it could never be about national security in the case of beefing up border security, it could never be about trying to maintain a cohesive culture so as to avoid the tribal wars that have engulfed certain parts of Europe and the Middle East to the point that the term "balkinization" has become synonymous with such. Newp. It's BECAUSE OF TEH RACISM! Sweet bleedin' Barnabus. I would suggest a drinking game based on the utterances of race-baiting clergymen vis-a-vis the immigration issue when it comes up, but I bet it'd end up being a lethal one based on the frequency of such inane blather.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Three questions...

...for Gary Margolis:

“Virginia Tech changed the way we think about campus safety,” said Gary Margolis, former chief of police at the University of Vermont and now a consultant hired to deliver the workshops. “Schools have to address the issue.”

1. Did he really say that with a straight face and without snickering?
2. Does he really believe it?
3. Does he really expect the rest of us to believe it, considering the fact that most college students are still sitting ducks, that when the shit hits the fan college students are still going to be waiting for people with guns to defuse the situation?

You know that's very likely the way it's going to be, too, as the students are and have been more or less conditioned to believe that those people are responsible for their personal safety. (I honestly wonder what they'd say if they knew that the courts have ruled that the cops aren't responsible for their individual safety, but the safety of the population at large...) What exactly has changed about the way schools think about campus safety? I saw further down in the story a bit about Virginia Tech forming a threat assessment team -- but honestly, what good is that when someone escapes the team's attention and goes on another rampage?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Too little emphasis on what, again?

Over at his site, fellow Texan and blog-friend Bob S. gives out awards for Troll of the Day, and it seems our friend MikeB302000 won the award yet again -- this time in a particularly spectacular fashion:

In my opinion there’s too much emphasis on the stand-your-ground defending-what’s-mine mentality and too little emphasis on the value of life, even the criminal’s.

Done what, again? Sweet bleedin' Barnabus, but what a load of self-righteous crap. Why should any of us give a damn about the lives of those who want to violate our personal sovereignty under ANY circumstances whatsoever? These people deliberately choose to break the rules of civil society because for whatever reason they think they're entitled to something for nothing and we're supposed to take their lives into consideration? Why? And exactly how far does this go? Just how much should we let them get away with? How far should we let civilization unravel? I honestly would love an answer to these questions -- more so, considering the fact that those who want something for nothing might well extract the price from whoever it is they're taking stuff from, namely the life of the latter. In other words, why should I give a shit about the life of somebody breaking into my house to take my stuff considering he'd very likely have no compunction about leaving me, my Sabra and/or those beautiful little girls of hers to assume room temperature? Why, MikeB302000? What about THEIR lives? How dare you put some piece-of-shit thief's life on their level. How fucking dare you. You know, I wouldn't take any particular pleasure in putting some punk six feet under who broke into my home, but those who do that sort of thing are -- albeit while posing varying levels of danger -- are the two-legged equivalent of rabid dogs. And they deserve the same fate, for the sake of civil society.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I might catch some flak for this..

...but Leonard Pitts might be on to something here:

Gilbert Arenas somehow managed to take a disaster and make it worse.
It happened last week in Philadelphia. Every team has its pregame rituals: Some chant, some dance, some box or high five. With his career and even his freedom hanging in the balance for a misadventure with guns, Arenas stood at the center of his team's huddle, made his hands into pistols and pretended to shoot his teammates.
it is difficult to think of these two guys whipping out guns like something out of Dodge City and not see shadows of all the other men of the same heritage and age group who once were here but now are gone because they regarded guns in the same profoundly unserious manner. Because they saw them not as tools of hunting or self-defense but, rather, as toys — as argument settlers and point makers, as extensions of their personal reproductive gear, as a means of demanding respect.

I'll grant that the "extensions of personal reproductive gear" bit was a gratuitous one, but the point about Gilbert Arenas and his teammates seeing guns as toys instead of tools is well-taken. Of course I bet some wise-asses (and even Arenas, his teammates and defenders) would probably say "it's a tool for demanding respect," but any real man knows that respect is not a demanded thing, but a commanded thing, something you earn. Now, if Leonard Pitts and like-minded souls would try to look a little deeper and see that such incidents aren't reflections on gun owners as a whole, and that we don't feel like we're compensating for anything (more of my thoughts on that here), then we might actually start to get somewhere.

Monday, January 11, 2010

That's a good question...

Jonathan Gurwitz's latest, that is, in the San Antonio Express-News:

How many isolated extremists does it take before they should no longer be considered isolated?

Well now, isn't THAT the $64,000 question? Especially considering the fact that the administration seems to be focusing more on other groups of people who are much less likely to be trying to set their shoes on fire when they get on a plane...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I could have written this myself.

You need to read this. It's a work of absolute genius. And I don't just say that because she's my girlfriend. It stands quite proudly on its own merits. Just one of the money grafs:

Here's the truth, Nashville. You abandoned me long before I abandoned you. You jerked me around for years. For every Pat Green song you played three by Keith Urban. For every George Strait song you played five by Kenny Chesney. It hurt, Nashville. All I want from you, all I've ever wanted from you, is actual country music.

You and me both, darling and me both.

That's a mighty big if there, Susan...

Susan Estrich, on the health care bill's requirement to carry insurance:

If that's the worst thing the nanny state ever does to all of us, I'd say a gracious thanks.

Wow, where do I even start with that, other than the retort that makes up the title to this post? That's an awfully big supposition upon which to hang one's argument. And, just like so many of the things supported by David Brooks' "educated class," it doesn't stand up to any more than the slightest bit of scrutiny. Anyone who has more than two functioning brain cells should know that the nanny state would never stop there. Once it gets its nose in that particular tent, it's only a matter of time before the entire creature gets in. Two examples off the top of my head include the fact that you can't buy a gun without a background check and that you can't buy pseudoephedrine in many places without your driver's license. I also found this amusingly cavalier:
As for one state getting a better deal than the other 49, that is a political question that is precisely the sort the courts don't have to get into, meaning that it's the breaks of democracy, not a case of the majority unfairly discriminating. When you get done counting to 60, you still have to count to five. I don't see five votes to protect 20-year-olds from insurance. Too many parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles in the crowd. Not to mention decades of precedent and the Constitution itself.

Really? Let us take a look at the Merriam-Webster definition of the verb form of the word "discriminate."
to make a difference in treatment or favor on a basis other than individual merit
Basis other than individual merit. I would love to know just how much merit the deal had that Nebraska got for Ben Nelson's vote. No doubt the ones who made that deal would say something to the effect that "reaching the goal of universal health care merited this deal." Of course, no one with more than two functioning brain cells should buy that either. If it really is the breaks of democracy (dead kid democracy, no less), as Estrich so cavalierly posits here, well then, that's just Exhibit 12,643,207 for the Founders creating a constitutional republic. Because remember, friends, to twist what I always say, democracy is a system of government in which 51 percent of the people can vote to spend the hard-earned funds of the other 49 percent on gold-plated houses and rocket cars for the 51 percent and there's not a blasted thing the 49ers can do about it.

And the destruction of the Founders' Republic proceeds apace...

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Getting closer to that constant refrain?

...or, It seems I am starting to hear this more and more:

the George W. Bush administration brought us marvels such as “No Child Left Behind,” the federal Medicare prescription drug program, nation building in the Middle East, TARP and growth of the federal deficit and national debt. The Bush-era GOP established a solid record of increasing the size, scope and intrusiveness of the federal government. Under Bush, the Republicans spent my money like drunken sailors. Under President Obama, the Democrats spend my money like drunken sailors high on crack cocaine. While the current situation is intolerable, I have no desire to return to the former.
“The party of no” instills no confidence. It suggests that what's best for the GOP is more important than what's best for America, and indicates the GOP will continue its feckless ways should I be foolhardy enough to put it back in power. The GOP has lost its way. The recent record shows a vote for the GOP serves only to further the ongoing demise of our own liberty. The difference between the GOP and the Democratic Party is one of degree only, not kind.
Goldberg writes, “the trick for the GOP is to figure out what it will say yes to.” It's really pretty simple. The GOP needs to say yes to shrinking the federal government.

Contrast this, if you will, to David Brooks, quoted here by Steven Greenhut: "In a column reprinted today (beginning on Page 1 of Commentary), Brooks rebutted those of us who argue that 'in order to win again, the GOP has to reconnect with the truths of its Goldwater-Reagan glory days. It has to once again be the minimal-government party, the maximal-freedom party, the party of rugged individualism, and states' rights. This is folly.'"

Folly, eh? So how has that not providing a viable alternative to the Democratic agenda worked out? I'd guess not too well, considering that the Democrats hold the White House and Congress, too. The letter to the editor also works as a pretty good contrast to Kathleen Parker's carping about the list of principles certain Republicans want candidates to back. Who are the ones the Republicans are going to be listening to as we go into the 2010 elections? The elitists who backed the "moderates" who got them where they are now, or the people who want them to start supporting the things that once actually won elections for them?

Friday, January 08, 2010

Quote of the day...

....from my Sabra, as Hayes Carll's "Bad Liver And A Broken Heart" plays on 95.9 the Ranch:

My kid is dancing to Hayes Carll. I fucking WIN parenting, LOL

Yes, honey, yes you do. I knew you would, when you spoke of singing Bob Wills to them. :-)

How far do they want to go... recognize certain historical figures?

Minority advocacy groups urged their members to attend a State Board of Education public hearing next week to appeal for more Hispanic and African-American historical figures in public school textbooks.
“We owe it to them to provide a complete picture of Texas, one in which they can be proud of the accomplishments of their ancestors. It's important to enhance their self-identity,” said Sylvia Garcia, an educator who attended a news conference organized by the League of United Latin American Citizens.

Hmm. I wonder if that complete picture would include all the Mexicans who fought on the side of the Texians in the struggle for Texas independence (many of whose names are borne by Texas cities and counties), such as Juan Seguin, Jose Antonio Navarro and Juan Jose Palacios. (I would also hazard a guess that, to cite another example, the San Antonio street that crosses Interstate 10 just south of Loop 1604 on the city's northwest side is named after Lorenzo DeZavala.) Does their vision include those historical figures? Or would they just rather leave ca. 1835-1850 out? Based on the mindset indicated by at least one certain event, I would guess the latter.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Maiden Musings...

...or, More thoughts on another favorite band with whom I've become more familiar via the miracle of Sirius...

I've heard a couple of different stories about why original Iron Maiden frontman Paul Di'Anno was booted from the band and replaced with Bruce Dickinson. The linked entry says it was because of his self-destructive behaviors leading to the band having to cancel shows, but I was talking to a colleague the other day at work and he said something to the effect that Di'Anno was booted because the band wanted to take its sound in a different direction. Perhaps it was both and Di'Anno's behavior just more or less coincided with the band members' vision that didn't include him.

At any rate, I for one am glad they took that new direction. This might be heresy to a lot of rock/metal fans, but I thought Di'Anno-era Maiden kinda sucked compared to the Bruce Dickinson-era Maiden. I've gotten to thinking, going back to the plane analogy, that it's like comparing the Wright Brothers' first plane to, say, an SR-71. Granted, it wasn't quite as bad as, say, mid-'90s Metallica compared to Ride, Master or Justice; but it was still rather bland. Maybe I'd feel differently if I'd heard the Di'Anno-era records first, but the fact is I heard the later records first and compared to those the earlier ones were a tremendous letdown. I honestly wonder how many folks would say that "Running Free" was really better than "Aces High"...

(By the way, the video for "Aces..." is pretty damn cool too. The bit before the music was a nice touch.)

Anybody wanna bet...

...this happened in a gun-free zone?

A longtime employee at a St. Louis power company is reportedly among three dead after he opened fire upon arriving to work Thursday morning.

Timothy Hendron, 51, an active employee at ABB power plant in the north side of St. Louis, reportedly arrived at work at about 6:30 a.m. with a large assault rifle and handgun. Police say the incident began in the parking lot and soon moved into a nearby building.

I'll take that bet. And I will also bet that there will be more handwringing from the antis about the tool this guy used, notwithstanding the fact that he could likely have wreaked as much havoc with just the pistol.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Who's the simplistic one here?

or, Michelle Malkin was right about David Brooks:

The public is not only shifting from left to right. Every single idea associated with the educated class has grown more unpopular over the past year.

The educated class believes in global warming, so public skepticism about global warming is on the rise. The educated class supports abortion rights, so public opinion is shifting against them. The educated class supports gun control, so opposition to gun control is mounting.
For a supposedly educated person, Brooks certainly makes a poor argument here. In fact, he really doesn't make an argument at all -- save for a kind of argument from authority, wherein he says that "educated people support this." He just leaves it at that and doesn't bother to back it up. In fact, he NEVER has. In all the David Brooks columns I have ever read, I have never once seen him make a coherent, convincing argument as to why "the educated" would support what they allegedly (according to Brooks) do. He seems to say here that they support it solely by virtue of their formal education. He seems not to mind the least little bit that a deeper, EDUCATED examination of whatever "this" is often reveals it to be something not worth supporting, like gun control. Furthermore, an educated look at the tea party demonstrations will show anyone -- anyone, that is who's willing to see and observe -- what the demonstrators support as opposed to just showing what they're against. One wonders how a supposedly "educated" person like Mr. Brooks can be so consistently and spectacularly wrong. Once again, we have an ivory-tower elitist putting opinions out there and expecting his audience to take those opinions seriously just because of his identity and not what is backing up those opinions. I suppose there are still those out there who take David Brooks seriously because of where his opinions appear, but I'd like to think that most of them reside within about an hour, maybe two, of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. You never can tell...

And thanks for that link, Sabra. :-)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Way to ignore your history there...

...or, No, it's NOT just those on the right who endorse judicial activism:

I do think the planned attack on the constitutionality of health care reform aptly illustrates that conservatives who oppose judicial activism tend to so do only when judicially active judges issue rulings that thwart or oppose conservative doctrine.

So how does he explain the liberal pundits' hue and cry after the Heller v. D.C. ruling?

Hey, he actually sounds like a Republican I could vote for here!

Michael Steele, that is:

Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele offers a simple explanation for why the GOP all too often lost touch with typical Americans since the Ronald Reagan era: "We screwed up," he claims in a new book offering a blueprint for the party's resurgence.
...the GOP chairman directly or indirectly criticizes:
_President George H.W. Bush for raising taxes two years after President Ronald Reagan left office, though Steele ignores the fact that Reagan raised taxes too.
_President George W. Bush for not vetoing any spending bills during his first five years in office. He calls Bush and other Republicans "enablers for big government" and derides the Bush administration's Troubled Asset Relief Program as "a massive government slush fund."
_Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the party's 2008 presidential nominee, for backing censorship of political speech through the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. Steele says the GOP erred in allowing itself to be associated with "a national political speech code."
_Republican lawmakers in general, who allowed spending to rise from 2001 to 2004, went along with TARP and McCain-Feingold, and supported the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit.

Now, if Steele would pull his head out of his ass vis-a-vis the so-called "assault weapons" and tell the race-baiters who share his skin color to go to hell instead of actually agreeing with them on certain issues, and take that new philosophy our on the warpath, he might actually inspire some real confidence in the Republican base. We'll see how it goes, but I won't be holding my breath.

Monday, January 04, 2010

What a fun, beautiful week it was...

...but I certainly am missing her this morning...

As you already know if you read Sabra, she and I had a wonderful time when she was here last week. They say there is someone for everyone, and as convinced as I was that she is the one for me, I am even more convinced of it as I sit here this morning. She reassures me when I need it, and she puts my mind completely at ease when my irrational fears (irrational to me, at least) get the best of me. You longtime readers might remember about this time last year I was just into a new relationship (with the one she and I like to call Kitty-Eater -- see this post for why), and it was good. But I can't say for sure, looking back on it, that I was anywhere near certain that relationship would ever get to be anything like what Sabra and I have. Looking back on it perhaps I should have known that it wouldn't ever get there because of all the things I can talk about with Sabra that would have gone way over her head. It seems the connection with Kitty-Eater was little more than physical, and I found out the hard way that the physical connection all by itself will not by any means sustain a long-term relationship, especially when the other party has as-yet-unresolved emotional issues that lead them to sabotage the relationship. (I don't know to what extent Sabra was feeling it, but I was experiencing some sweet, sweet schadenfreude when I got a couple texts from Kitty-Eater on New Year's Eve wishing me a happy new year and telling me that I was the best thing that happened to her in 2009.) Sabra told me she thought it was funny that I would say "blogging will be sporadic" when Kitty-Eater would come over and the next morning I'd be back at it. I thought it was funny as well, especially considering when Sabra was here, as you saw, blogging really DID slow down. ;-)

Yep, as good as I thought 2009 started out, 2010 is already light-years ahead of it...

Sunday, January 03, 2010

I would like a source, please...

...for these numbers:

The average crack addict needs $100 to $500 a day to maintain his/her habit. Since fencing of goods obtained in a burglary nets about 20 cents to the dollar, the burglar/thief must steal $500 to $2,500 worth of goods a day.

I find it interesting that absolutely no source was cited for these figures, and that the Chronicle would let such unsubstantiated figures stand in a letter in their pages. From what I've heard, crack isn't nearly expensive enough to support such numbers. Hell, crack's entire raison d'etre is its lower cost compared to powder cocaine. A Google search for "street price for crack" yields this link, which puts forth a figure of anywhere from $3 to $50 per rock, with prices generally being from $10 to $20. As bad as crack is, I figure there'd be a lot more of them dropping dead if they were smoking that much of it every day.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Hey, wait a minute...

I thought things like this weren't supposed to happen with hunting guns...

Police say a 15-year-old and his friend are accused in the overnight shotgun slaying of the boy's father in San Antonio.
Police were called to the home of 39-year-old Fred Cantu about 4 a.m. Thursday and found Cantu dying from a shotgun blast....

One wonders how long it would take for the gun-grabbers to start hyperventilating about this sort of thing after they banned the pistols and semiautomatic rifles. I'd guess about as long as it took me to write this.