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Cross-posted from my other blog, but deserves all the exposure it can get.

America is no longer the greatest country in the world.

Watch it if you have the stomach for things that people don't say often enough, and many refuse to hear.

NSFW for language, but nothing worse than you'd hear in an R-rated movie.
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Today it's the conservatives attacking Obama for a perceived indignity. Tomorrow it will be the liberals attacking Romney for something equally picayunish.

I grieve for what our nation has become.
theoldwolf: (Jedi Hand Wave)
(Cross-posted to Wordpress 10/6/2013)

I recently saw this posted on Facebook and it raised my eyebrow:

I commented that it was a great way to poke fun at liberals, but unfortunately its an oversimplification based on a misunderstanding.

The original Hebrew text of Ecclesiastes 10:2 is "לֵב חָכָם לִימִינוֹ, וְלֵב כְּסִיל לִשְׂמֹאלוֹ" (lev hakam lemino ve lev kesil lesmolo), or "wise heart to right, and foolish heart to left." The historical meaning of right and left to the Jewish nation is more complex than the intructions to World of Warcraft, but if you're really interested, a good summary is here; long story short, from a biblical standpoint, the right has always been the place of honor or wisdom.

We see this concept reflected in many New Testament references (Matthew 25:33 states "And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left,") but even biblically the analogy is not consistently used. In Mark 10:37, two presumptuous disciples asked Jesus, "Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory." Thus in this reference, both right and left were considered places of privilege and esteem.

A further disconnect of the biblical usage with modern politics arises when we realize that current usage of left and right began with the French revolution; Wikipedia states that "The terms 'left' and 'right' were not used to refer to political ideology but only to seating in the legislature."

Unfortunately, vast numbers of people who see an image like this will say "Oh, wow, that's cool, I never knew that," and spread the message far and wide without bothering to question its validity.

It's hard for me to independently verify everything I see, and these days elections are won and lost with the votes of people who don't even make the effort. We deserve better.
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An article on Newser offers the headline, "Why I Won't Shut Up About Mitt Romney's Poor Dog".

We've all heard the story. The poor dog strapped to the top of a car, messing itself in terror and being cruelly hosed off. The anti-Romney faction has latched on to this story and is milking it for every drop of viciously-spun negativism that they can squeeze out. So here's my take, if only so I can get my feelings out and stop fretting about this massive logical fallacy.

  1. The incident happened in 1983. That's almost 30 years ago, for people who have trouble with the math. Mr. Romney was 36, a young family father on a road trip. They want to take the family dog with them rather than leave it at home alone, or in a kennel. Take the dog in the car with you, and what would it do? Spend most of its time with its head out the window anyway. So if you fix up a carrier for the dog, and even shield it from the airstream, it should be pretty comfortable. At least that was the thinking, and I can easily see how they came to that conclusion. I might have made the same choice myself.
  2. Guess what? Things didn't quite work out. The dog got scared and soiled itself. Or was it really scared? Fear might make a dog evacuate its bowels, but it won't necessarily cause diarrhoea... what if the dog was simply ill? Did the pundits interview the dog to ask it what it was really feeling? At any rate, now you have a soiled dog, a soiled carrier and a soiled car. What's more cruel, continuing on the trip allowing the dog to lie in its filth, or to hose it off? Anyone who's ever watched a dog go bananas trying to bite a Rain-Bird knows that being sprayed by water is not cruelty, it's (under most circumstances) a game.
  3. Where's the story about the return trip? Apparently the dog did fine for the rest of the journey, instead of ejecting everything it had eaten for the last six weeks. I haven't heard anything about that in the news.

What bothers me most about the feeding frenzy is the unconscionable level of unjustifiable conclusions drawn by the opposition.

To quote the Professor of Logic:

Universal affirmatives can only be partially converted... For example, given the premise, "all fish live underwater" and "all mackerel are fish", my wife will conclude, not that "all mackerel live underwater", but that "if she buys kippers it will not rain", or that "trout live in trees", or even that "I do not love her any more." This she calls "using her intuition". (Monty Python)

In the same way, given the premise that "Mitt Romney made a mistake," (assuming it even was a mistake, but allowing this for the sake of argument,) the anti-Romney faction concludes not that "Mitt Romney made a mistake," but rather that:
  1. Mitt Romney is cruel
  2. Mitt Romney hates animals
  3. Mitt Romney will treat everyone in the country the way he treated that poor dog.

This also I call "crap", and it gets me very irritated because it is not logical. Furthermore, from everything I have learned about Mitt Romney, it is absolutely untrue and borders on libel. If I had to choose between the Romney family and Gail Collins for the family next door, I'd take Mitt in a heartbeat, and that has absolutely nothing to do with his faith - it has to do with what kind of a person I understand him to be at his core.

You may not agree with the man's politics: wonderful. That's what the process is about. Vote for someone else. But this kind of unwarranted character assassination is, as far as I am concerned, the abomination of desolation and demonstrates not political savvy but rather unbridled shallowness and the absence of a moral center.

So yeah, Ms. Collins. You need to shut up.

theoldwolf: (Default)

That is all.
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I remember clearly the horrifying moment in 1963 when I learned that Kennedy had been assassinated. I was in a taxi, coming home from school in Connecticut for Thanksgiving vacation. I remember just as clearly my mother's saying the following year, "If Goldwater wins the election, we're moving to Switzerland."

It's almost to that point again.

More under the cut. )
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A recent back-and-forth over at a friend's Livejournal led me down a path of thought that wanted to be recorded, so I could get it out of my head.

Catharsis beneath the cut. )
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Posted without further comment. Draw your own conclusions.

Keep clicking the image for full resolution.
theoldwolf: (2 Cents)
This morning I read an article about the global economy, and it struck me that problems on this scale are so far outside of my sphere of influence that I was probably wasting my time becoming informed on the issue. Well, not entirely, but that was what pushed me down this path of contemplation.

Our national debt and our current budget woes have reached levels of obscenity so great that the MPAA needs to come up with a new designation beyond NC-17: NSFN (Not Safe For Nobody.) It is conceivable that I could take the time to become fully conversant with issues of the economy, but when the rubber meets the road, I have a wife to support, a garden to tend, Church lessons to prepare, a library that needs reorganizing, a school to build, my country's 500th anniversary to plan... you get the idea. Time is short, and each of us have our gifts; being a major player in economic reform on the global stage is not down in the books for me.

There are, however, people out there whose gifts include a fine grasp of fiscal nuances, who can see big pictures, who can pull teams of people together, and who are comfortable with the trappings of power. These qualities, however, are not all that I'm looking for in a leader - I also have to see a solid moral center, and a desire to build a world that works for everyone - and in Mitt Romney I see what I'm looking for. I've familiarized myself with his accomplishments, I worked for him as a volunteer during the 2002 Winter Olympics, I saw what he was able to do with that event, I've heard him preach from a pulpit, and I'm convinced he has the nation's best interests at heart and the savvy to make a difference. In short, I trust him at the heart level.

While Romney ran in 2008, he was sadly not awarded the nomination. As a result, and largely because of the presence of Sarah Palin on the Republican ticket, I gave our current president a vote of trust in that election, and that trust was betrayed. I see no change except for the worse, and I have no hope except for a new administration in 2012. Of all the candidates running for office next year, Mitt Romney is the one I count on to better the lives of the American people, and to move our nation back to a path of stability.

Politics being what they are, there are some, even among my dearest friends, who for various reasons will disagree with my assessment. That is one of the blessings of a democratic society - they have the right to do so. Lasting friendships, however, are not based on opinions about politics or sports or fashion; rather, they are based on trust and shared core values, which transcend societal ephemera.

My two penn'orth.
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Was recently pointed to the "Huffington Riposte", where an article dated May 6, 2010 claims to have unmasked David and Barbara Mikkelson as a dangerously liberal, biased, "mom-and-pop" operation with no experience in investigative reporting.

I've looked at Snopes extensively - I use it to check just about anything that comes through my mailbox, and - sadly - about 95% of forwards that are not ostensibly humorous are debunked as hoaxes. I've followed notes and research, and the Mikkelsons seem very thorough. While they don't have articles about everything, I've never seen an article with an egregious error yet.

Is it possible that in thousands of articles, they may miss something on occasion, or come to an incorrect conclusion? For that matter, is it possible that every article on Wikipedia is not to be considered gospel truth? Duh... but that doesn't give Alan Strong, CEO/Chairman of Commercial Programming Systems, Inc., the right to brand them as left-wing nutjobs with a hidden agenda. Get real, Alan, and stop looking for Bolsheviks under your bed.

The shameless partisanship of our nation dismays me. Really, it does.
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"The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the presidency. It will be easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to an electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails us. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The republic can survive a Barack Obama. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president."
-- Author Unknown

Yes, it's a good quote. I wish I knew the author. And, it's more complicated than a nation choosing a rampant socialist hell-bent on dragging the country down to captivity and mediocrity.

I belong to the confederacy. I voted for the man, but only because the thought of having Sarah Palin a heartbeat away from the presidency scared me even worse. I rue my choice based on results, but still don't think I chose poorly.

Despite caucuses and grassroots political efforts, those who rise to the top of the governmental septic tank usually end up being the big chunks - people who seem harmless or easy to manipulate in the eyes of the moneyed king-makers. Those who have the decency and integrity to make good leaders usually decline to run, and we end up, every four years, voting for the evil of two lessers.

Obama and his mantra of "Change!" (not unique, by the way - it's a recurring theme in almost every campaign) was embraced by a nation tired of eight years of the abuses of power by the Bush administration, led in everything but title by Cheney and his Halliburton star-chamber, or reasonable fac-similes. We hoped for something better, and instead got another kind of emperor, yet one equally unclad.

Despite the human failings of the founding fathers, they envisioned a nation built on the principles of justice for all, honesty, diligence, hard work, fairness, and looking to a higher power for strength. Despite the fact that it took men like Lincoln and Martin Luther King to extend the dream to the previously unemancipated, the writers of our constitution formed a confederacy of men of faith and men of humanism, striving to create a place where all people would have opportunity, and be free from oppression.

The only change that will really count is the change that people of good will can effect within themselves, their families, and their neighborhoods - people working together to build a world that works for everyone, with no one left out.

I will not give up hope that this is yet possible.
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Pennsylvania AG Tom Corbett, also candidate for Governor, has subpoenaed Twitter to provide the identities of two posters who have been criticizing him.

What a thermonuclear buttwad. That would make it easy to decide whom to vote for in Pennsylvania - whomever is running against him.

Sheesh. He probably has sex with goats on fire. For money. Come get me, Tommy boy.
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(Newser) Rahm Emanuel says he's sorry he called liberals "retarded" in August, and he has personally apologized to the CEO of the Special Olympics. "The apology was accepted,” a White House aide tells the Washington Post. The comment has drawn fire since it came to light, and it prompted Sarah Palin to demand that Emanuel be fired.

Emanuel mis-used the word, and apologized, and his apology was accepted. Here is the proper usage for the term.

People with Down Syndrome are developmentally challenged.
Sarah Palin is retarded.

Autistic people have learning disabilities.
Sarah Palin is retarded.

People born with fetal alcohol syndrome have had their neural cortices damaged in utero, and may have educational and social challenges.
Sarah Palin is retarded.

I hope this clears up any misunderstandings.

theoldwolf: (Headbang)
From CNN, with regard to the piece of terrorist camel-hqiz who tried to blow up a Northwest flight:

"It was unclear whether Mr. Abdulmutallab’s name was entered into the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment list, which includes people with known or suspected contact or ties to a terrorist or terrorist organization. That list is maintained by the United States National Counterterrorism Center. It includes about 550,000 names.

Those people, however, are not necessarily placed on the federal government’s so-called no-fly list, which prohibits persons entering the United States because of known or suspected terrorists links."

Sheesh, people. That much should be a no-brainer, given our history. Abdulmutallab was brought to the attention of the US authorities months ago, by his own father. This man should not have been allowed within 3,000 miles of the United States or any vessel traveling in our direction.

I know that the various agencies charged with protecting our borders are full of good, dedicated individuals doing their best to keep us safe. But the lack of cooperation and collaboration between the various fiefdoms - and I use that term with all due deliberateness - frustrates me no end. And with politics, internal and external, playing such a huge rôle in daily operations, I fear me that I see no immediate solution at hand, which could result in yet another terrorist success at the expense of our nation's citizens.
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"Every Senate Democrat (plus the two Independents, Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut and Sanders) went on record declaring that the so-called individual mandate that is the heart of the health care bill -- that is, an unprecedented federal mandate that requires individuals to purchase a product in the private market, on pain of taxation should they choose to disobey -- does not violate the Constitution.

In other words, every single Democrat in the Senate is now on record in support of the belief that the federal government literally has the power to order its citizens to use their own after-tax dollars to buy something it wishes them to buy, details to be filled in later."
-Bill Pascoe, in CQ Politics

Like the man said: "In a word, wow." More at the link.

I can only hope that this quiet little vote sounds the death knell for the political career of every one of these communist hqiz-eaters. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
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John Gibbons of the Irish Times gives us 6 reasons Why the world won't cope for long.

His thesis is that "a political fudge that ducks science is the likeliest outcome at Copenhagen." I submit that if you spoonerize that, you'll be closer to the truth.
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Mom is 93. I now help her with her mail. And the deluge of junk that she gets absolutely takes my breath away.

She still gets all sorts of Sweepstakes Scam Letters, which go straight into the recycle bin.

She still gets all sorts of solicitations from psychics and occult spcialists claiming to be able to "attract money and luck, become a winner, remove jinxes and negative energy, protect from bad, improve health and spirit, become powerful and irresistable, and revive sexual energy." Only $19.99 per magic energy crystal. Holy hqiz, people, get a life. These also get turned into insulation.

What disturbs me the most is the daily pile of solicitations for money from people claiming to represent political causes. Today's haul:

  • A solicitation from the Democratic National Committee, including letters from Madeline Albright and Nancy Pelosi, asking for money to support Obama and his programs.
  • A solicitation from the Senior Citizens' League in the form of a survey and scare letter about medical privacy issues. Please send emergency donations to make sure promised medicare benefits are protected, and not rationed.
  • A "SkyPost" letter from Thomas Cromwell of the "Benefit Security Coalition", asking for donations between $15 and $1000 to lobby for passage of the Cola Fairness Act of 2009.
  • A very disingenuous solicitation from the Senior Citizens' League asking for contributions to correct the (nonexistent) "Notch Benefit" discrepancy. The letter implies that contributors are helping lawmakers obtain a $5,000 lump-sum settlement. Mom gets several of these each month, and she's not even in the mythical "notch".
  • A solicitation from "RetireSafe" asking for contributions to help lobby for passage of the Social Security Benefit Protection Act. Contributions to this "citizens' lobby" are not even tax deductible. By their own declaration, only 16% of funds they gather is used for lobbying efforts.

This is one day's mail. To one 93-year-old, mildly senescent lady, who would haul out her checkbook for anyone if there weren't an advocate at her side telling her to keep her limited income to herself.

Most of the contributions to these marginally legal organizations go to line the pockets of the organizers, or to pay for additional solicitation. They are yanking money out of the pockets of the most vulnerable and least affluent section of our society with half-truths, outright lies and intimidation tactics. How this kind of financial rape can be condoned or allowed is beyond me. The problem is big enough that one voice can do little, but this one voice can do something; and it will not be silent.

Protect your elderly loved ones. Monitor their mail if you can, and help them keep their resources where they will do the most good - in their own bank accounts.
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Caveat: Secular Humanists may want to skip this post.

Tonight's Schlock Mercenary brought me up short. One doesn't usually hear people extol the virtues of dictatorship in public, at least not if they're worried about their political future.

While the country could use people in office with the acumen and common sense that Howard Tayler displays, tragically he seems occupied with being a cartoonist and is thus subject to the scorn of nations on a regular basis. One more batch of scathing, vitriolic emails from disgruntled readers shouldn't make much difference.

Fortunately, to balance the equation, there are those whose understanding surpasses that of the unwashed masses:

But back to my thesis: It would be good to live under a just, enlightened and moral ruler who afforded his subjects their agency. This sounds only like a contradiction in terms because there have been so few examples of this kind of leadership in human history.

Monday's strip immediately put me in mind of the words of an ancient American prophet-king named Mosiah:

"Therefore, if it were possible that you could have just men to be your kings, who would establish the laws of God, and judge this people according to his commandments, yea, if ye could have men for your kings who would do even as my father Benjamin did for this people—I say unto you, if this could always be the case then it would be expedient that ye should always have kings to rule over you." (Book of Mormon, Mosiah 29:13)

In the secular environment, this model fails on all levels, because the concepts of justice and morality are relative, and impossible to pin down with any certainty. In the regular (i.e. the opposite of secular) environment, the most obvious parallel is the millennial rule of Christ as Theocrat/King. Outside of that, a just and moral dictator would have to be following an absolute standard of justice and morality, based on absolute fairness - which could only happen if the ruler were in regular contact with Divinity, hence, a prophet as well as a king. No ordinary mortal could pull it off.

From "Fiddler on the Roof"
What's wrong with being rich?
It's no reason to marry.
Money's the world's curse.
May the Lord smite me with it, and may I never recover!

I'm with that. May God smite the nations of the world with such rulers.
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Fascinating CNN article today: in the wake of his uncalled-for outburst, Joe Wilson has tucked another $200,000 into his war chest.

Such an outburst would hardly be newsworthy in the august [shut up, you wags, I know it's September] chambers of many of our foreign allies - I actually have the famous "¿Por qué no te callas?" ring tone on my phone, which was the subject of so much national pride in Spain. And let's not even talk about the daily House of Commons circus, with all due respect to our British cousins.

Yet despite the vulgarity of our political process, the incessant mudslinging, backbiting, calumniation, innuendo and vituperation - showing respect for the office of the president has been a long-hallowed tradition. The worst thing that's ever happened during a State of the Union speech is that half the body fails to applaud... until now.

Wilson apologized, Obama forgave - and now the offender is cashing in on his philistinism. It doesn't sound much like he's sorry to me.

A sad day for the dignity of our nation, but no sadder in truth than the lack of respect for the office shown by those who have occupied it - Nixon, Clinton and W come glaringly to mind. If ever a president of this country were to commit errors of judgment that besmirch the honor of the office, and had the decency to step up and say, "I'm sorry. I screwed up big time. For the good of the nation I'm resigning." - I think my heart would stop. But I'm not holding my breath. The sad fact of politics is that those who have the integrity to qualify for the office of Commander in Chief do not, as a rule, run for office.



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