- Welcome to Downing World -

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Two Faces of Eating Meat

Some may not eat meat because they think it is better for their health. That's their choice.

Some may not eat meat because of religious reasons. That's their right.

But what of these anti-meat protesters, who demand that others should not eat meat, on MORAL grounds?

Short of your own personal religious beliefs, how is it immoral or unethical to eat meat?

Here's how I see it:

Most people in the U.S. belong to one of two categories:

1) They believe God created the animals for our use. He even instructed us to use them as sacrifices.

2) They believe there is no God. We've all randomly evolved, guided by survival of the fittest.

Under #1, then by definition eating meat is, if not "Godly," at least definitely not immoral.

Under #2, then what could be immoral about it? If we don't have souls, then certainly the animals don't.

And then isn't it almost our DUTY to our own species to exploit weaker species to ensure our own survival?

So, how can these protesters tell others that it is morally or ethically wrong to eat meat?

Thursday, March 29, 2018

"Well-Regulated" Not Well-Understood

How stupid are we? I mean, as a nation. We don't even understand what the Second Amendment means by a "well-regulated" militia. People talk about how, "Well, the Constitution says the militia should be regulated. That means we need gun laws."

No. Not at all. Although we might need gun laws, the person who says that has no understanding of the Second Amendment, and little understanding of the English language.

When the Bill of Rights was written, people weren't obsessed, as they are today, with creating a perfect world via government "regulation." In fact, it was just the oppposite. They thought the best-possible world required limits on government. Hence the Bill of Rights.

Have you ever seen a "Regulator" clock? Of course you have. "Well-regulated" means precise. Effective. Well-maintained. A "well-oiled machine." When the Founders wrote "well-regulated" they didn't mean the militia should be restricted in some wa., They meant just the opposite: a strong, effective militia.


Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Tail Disabling the Dog

I've had a safe deposit box at the bank for decades. It's a simple process. Probably hasn't changed in a hundred years. You bring in your key. The attendant produces a card for you to sign, confirming your identity. Then with your key and the bank's key, the attendant opens your box for you. Simple.

Well, it used to be.

When I went in recently, I was told there was a problem. Oh, no! Had the bank lost their key?! No, nothing as simple as that. Instead, it was the same old (new) problem: The computer was down.

The computer? What did that have to do with it?

Well, nowadays when you come in, instead of signing a piece of paper, they look you up in "the system," and have you "sign" an electronic pad. So if the computer is not cooperating, you're out of luck. No matter that you could still easily walk into the vault and use the keys to open your box. If the computer isn't cooperating, we're helpless.

This is progress?!

There's an expression about "the tail wagging the dog." This reminds me of that, but maybe with an update. "The tail disabling the dog," maybe?

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Who Cut the Mustard?

What happened to mustard? For my first half-century on this earth, whenever I saw ketchup in a restaurant, I saw mustard. Just as there were matching salt and pepper shakers on the table, there would often be red and yellow bottles containing the standard hamburger condiments. If the ketchup and mustard weren't already on the table, then the server could be counted on to bring them when you ordered a burger. Both of them. Always. And often in matching squeeze bottles.

But in recent years, mustard seems to have lost its automatic status. The server brings just a ketchup bottle. Or maybe there's just a little dish of ketchup on the plate. No mustard. I have to ask for it. Which means if I really want mustard, I then have to wait while my burger gets cold, because bringing me mustard isn't a priority.

Do people not use mustard anymore? Or maybe it's just the opposite - a cost-cutting measure. Does mustard cost too much, and people use too much of it, so the restaurants are making us ask for it?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Whose Ox Is It, Anyway?

I saw this photo on Facebook. It was posted in response to the clerk who won't issue the marriage licenses to same-sex couples. It's accompanied by comments like, "Is this where we're headed?"

Wake up people, we're already there.

See this from 2007, about Muslim clerks at Target who refused to ring up bacon. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/17665989/ns/business-us_business/t/target-shifts-muslims-who-wont-ring-pork/#.VfYPfCoo5dg

Or this one, from 2008, about pharmacists who didn't want to sell birth control. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=5542159&page=1

Where were you folks then? Or was that OK, since you are sympathetic to Muslims, and government authorities intervened and said pharmacists have to fill all prescriptions?

I'd bet that if, before the Supreme Court ruling, a clerk in Kentucky had defied state law and gone ahead and issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples, because her conscience told her to, these same people would have called that clerk a hero, practicing "civil disobedience" in pursuit of justice.

Personally, I want to know why a vegetarian restaurant can refuse to serve me a steak. Who do they think they are? I tried to complain, but they told me to take my beef somewhere else.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Don't Blame Us; We're the Victims!

While millions of Germans 70 years ago experienced the end of World War II in Europe as a devastating, humilitating, total defeat, today's Germans have a new take on it. A poll released to coincide with the 70th anniversary of V-E Day May 8 showed that 89 percent of Germans now think of the end of the war as a "liberation" from Nazi tyranny, with only 9 percent calling it a defeat. A decade ago, 35 percent of Germans polled still called it a defeat. My guess is 2/3 of them have died in the last decade.

The German Parliament was planning a special session for May 8 to reflect upon "a day that stands for a new beginning, and the double liberation from war and Nazism."

I find this disturbing.

If you are in denial that people pretty much JUST LIKE YOU did these things, then how are you going to learn from it? Maybe in the U.S., we could just blame racial inequities on plantation owners, Democrats, and the KKK, and then the rest of us could be absolved of any responsility for making things better. I'm a victim, too!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Going to Town Playing Bumpkin

I'm tired of hearing reports about the President holding a "town hall" while in the Twin Cities. A town hall is a building. What they are talking about is a MEETING, which is supposedly of the type that rural "simpletons" hold when they all come together at their township's town hall to hold a civil discussion of matters of the public interest. The urban sophisticate elites love this idea that they are somehow emulating these "noble savages."

But here's a problem: A true town hall meeting is open to everyone. The goal is to get participation from as many of the town's residents as they can.

The President's supposed "town hall meeting," on the other hand, was by invitation only.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Parent's Nightmare - Your Child Dying in an Exotic Foreign Land

It's a parent's nightmare: Your "baby" wants to experience an exotic foreign culture while getting a college education. So you let him go - across the ocean, to a strange land with strange customs. How will he navigate his way safely so far from home, amongst people and customs totally foreign to him?

Then it happens. Your child gets his hands on a hallucinatory drug, revered by some of these strange natives as almost a religious sacrament, and which is legally and openly produced and sold in this strange land, by these strange people, who even look different from your son.

But he consumes "too much" (?), becomes agitated, and -- maybe convinced he can fly, maybe suicidial -- flings himself from a fourth floor balcony.

Your baby is dead.

What kind of backward country and uncivilized people are to blame for your baby's death? You might be surprised.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Bias May Not Be Intentional, But It's Real

Liberal bias in the media is very real. That's not to say it's intentional. But there are subtle ways that it reveals itself, ways that the writer or speaker may not even notice. (In that way it's like "micro-agressions," a new thing for us to worry about and stir up racial angst, just when we thought we were learning to all get along.)

Here's a subtle bias example from David G. Savage, writing for the Los Angeles Times. The story is headlined "Supreme Court faces wave of free-speech cases from conservatives."

That's pretty much the premise of the story, that in the past, a lot of First Amendment cases have been brought before the high court as liberals have tried to get their way. But right now, there seem to be a lot of cases being brought by conservatives, arguing that the First Amendment supports their desired outcomes.

I haven't done any counting, but I buy that. And it makes perfect sense. After all, going to the Supreme Court and arguing for change based on the First Amendment is all about confronting the establishment, and the established way of doing things. Well, guess what? The liberal orthodoxy is now the establishment. They don't want change; they are getting their way already. Liberals now defend the status quo.

But here's the example of bias. Savage writes:

"In nearly every case, liberal groups -- often in alliance with the Obama administration -- are taking the opposing side, supporting state and federal laws that have come under attack for infringing upon the rights of conservatives."

What does he mean by, "the rights of CONSERVATIVES"?!

We're talking about the rights of ALL AMERICANS!

But look what Savage does, while revealing his own anti-conservative bias. He takes this Constitutional, First Amendment issue, and frames it as a case of a certain political viewpoint or party trying to get their way, with the other (liberal Democrat) side as noble defenders of the Constitution.

Mr. Savage, we don't have rights for conservatives and rights for liberals. We all have rights as Americans. Whatever our political viewpoint, whatever the color of our skin, the Constitution guarantees us the right to free speech. The whole point of the First Amendment, Mr. Savage, is that it doesn't matter what your political preference is, the government can't infringe on your free speech. But maybe Mr. Savage would be OK with the government deciding which newspapers would be allowed to publish, based on how well they treated the ruling party. I certainly hope that's not the case.

As an example to illustrate my point that this reflects bias, just consider this: At anytime during the last 40 years, have you read where a reporter has written that Roe v. Wade prevented states from infringing upon the rights of "liberal women"?

No, of course you haven't. And if you did, do you think the reporter would get away with it?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

False Dichotomies and Stupid Polls

One of my gripes is false dichotomies -- the way that issues get broken into "either-or" choices, with no room in the middle, no shades of grey, no nuance. For example, are you a "communist," or do you "want children to starve"? Do you "hate America" or are you "shredding the Constitution"? Quick, pick one.

I also am tired of meaningless, simple-minded polls based on these false dichotomies. For instance, I just read about a poll that asked people whether they preferred "happy holidays" or "merry Christmas," broken down by age, even! But how do you answer that? In what context is the expression being used? That wasn't included in the report. I suspect it wasn't part of the poll question, either. "Happy holidays" is perfectly fine when it's the appropriate expression for the context. What I object to is the forced substitution of "holiday" for "Christmas," when it's so obvious that it's distracting from the message. It's like those "unnecessary censorship" bits, where people are being bleeped, when they aren't saying any bad words.

I find myself thinking, "They are talking about Christmas. Why don't they just say Christmas?" I was at a musical performance where Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime" had been turned into "Wonderful Holiday," and "Holly Jolly Christmas" had become "Holly Jolly Laughter." That's insulting to everyone who celebrates Christmas. If they didn't want to sing about Christmas, they could have picked some different songs and avoided the issue. Yet, the same performers sang carols that were obviously about the birth of Jesus. So what gives?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Atheist "Mega-Churches" Raise Questions

No, this is not from the Onion; it's real. Atheists are now forming "mega-churches" so they can experience all the good parts of church, without that inconvenient God thing.

Some questions:

1. Have they considered that the God thing is what makes it special? Will they find that "church" without God is as much of a success as those other post-modern innovations: sex without love, and children without marriage?

2. Haven't they ever heard of service clubs? Isn't that what they are after?

3. Isn't atheists appropriating "church" for their own use somewhat akin to a bunch of white guys calling their athletic team the Indians?

4. Will atheists' brains go into a feedback loop and explode once they realize that many "mainstream" religious organization already removed God from their churches years ago?

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Life Imitates Art: Will This Be the Last Thing I Ever Write?

Came across this funny video today. It was made during the 2008 election season, and is an over-the-top look at what people think will happen "if the other side wins." While too many people will actually think that half of the video is accurate, the truth is that it's an exaggerated look at how people characterize their political opponents. It's not realistic. Oh, except for that one part at the end, where the government is listening in on you and targeting you if you say bad things -- which is now in the news every day! But can you guess which candidate -- Obama or McCain -- is depicted in the video as the one that would do that?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Hey, North Koreans: All You Gotta Do Is Vote the Bums Out!

People probably think that if the daily paper prints their letter to the editor, it proves how smart they are. I sometimes wonder, Why did they print this? It's total rubbish. Is it just to show how stupid some people are?

Here's a case in point: A recent letter in the Pioneer Press took exception to another writer, who had voiced the idea that the right to own guns is important, because it allows us to protect ourselves from the government. It begins:

I must object to the opinions of the writer of "A fundmental, necessary civil right." The way to control an oppressive government is at the ballot box. We have a right to vote.

Is it really that simple? Someone should tell the North Koreans. Too bad the letter writer didn't tell the Eastern Europeans, so they wouldn't have had to endure decades behind the Iron Curtain. All you have to do is vote the oppressors out? That's so simple!

Except, of course, if the oppressors take away your right to vote (in a REAL election), just like they took away your right to own a gun.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Unbelievable Olympic Games News

From News Services

April 1, 2013 ­ The International Olympic Committee, less than 2 months after shocking the sports world with news that wrestling will be dropped after the 2016 Games, today announced a new event that will be added beginning in 2020.

"It's the 21st century," said Olympic spokesman Marcie Le, "And the Olympic Games have become a television event. We need to keep up with the times. New sports such as beach volleyball have driven television viewership of the Games to new levels, and we think this new competition will result in even more viewers."

The new competition, dubbed "Olympic Idol," will give the world's best amateur singers a shot at stardom on the world's stage. Prior to the official start of the Games, the pool of contestants will be reduced to 24 singers who will make their public debut during the opening ceremonies, performing "We Are the World," each singing his or her part in her or his native language.

Contestants will be eliminated following televised performances during the next two weeks, with the field being reduced to 3 finalists on the Game's final Saturday. Then, during Sunday's closing ceremonies, each finalist will perform his or her own country's national anthem, and viewers will vote via Twitter to decide the gold, silver, and bronze medalists.

One nation has been quick to jump on board. In an unprecedented move, North Korea has announced that its leader, Kim Jong-un, will compete in the singing competition. If he does, this will be the first time a sitting head-of-state has competed in the Games. And, he's going to win, says a North Korean government spokesman.

"Our Supreme Leader will win; there is no reason for anyone else to enter the competition," said Song Sung Lo, the People's Minister of Cultural Superiority. "Supreme Leader can sing all the parts of 'We are the World,' in all of the languages, by himself, at the same time. He will win all the medals."

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Got a Second? Time to Talk about the 2nd Amendment

Yes, I'm still alive. Busy building a new career. Not much time to think about writing. But here's a piece I wrote a month ago and offered to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. I was rather surprised that they didn't run it. Well, their loss is your gain:


A recent letter addressing gun laws pointed out that the Second Amendment refers to a "well regulated" militia, and therefore it's obvious that the Founding Fathers intended there to be restrictions put on gun ownership. After all, in order to be "well regulated," you need government-issued regulations, don't you?

Maybe not. Maybe, just the opposite.

The language of the Second Amendment used to confuse me. It tells us that a militia is of utmost importance ­ "necessary to the security of a free State" ­ and therefore we have a right to own arms. Yet, it also indicates that the militia should be "well regulated." The Second Amendment appears to be arguing with itself. What's going on? Let's take a look at these 27 words:

"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Look closely at how these words are arranged. Note what is specifically "necessary": "a well regulated militia." Not just any old militia, and, oh, by the way, it should be well regulated.

What's the significance? Everything. We have to remember that words can have more than one meaning. And we have to ask ourselves, What is the meaning of "well regulated"?

Yes, my American Heritage Dictionary defines "regulate" as: "To control or direct according to rule, principle, or law." That fits our contemporary mindset that "regulate" means government sets limits. But let's look a little deeper. The same dictionary offers additional definitions, including: "To adjust (a mechanism) for accurate and proper functioning" and "To put or maintain in order."

Let me ask you this: Where, other than the government bureaucracy, do you regularly see the word "regulator"? How about on a clock? I'm sure you've seen it, too. I thought it was just a brand name, but it's so, so much more than that.

According to Wikipedia: "The 18th and 19th century wave of horological innovation that followed the invention of the pendulum brought many improvements to pendulum clocks. The deadbeat escapement invented in 1675 by Richard Towneley and popularized by George Graham around 1715 in his precision 'regulator' clocks gradually replaced the anchor escapement and is now used in most modern pendulum clocks. During the Industrial Revolution, daily life was organized around the home pendulum clock. More accurate pendulum clocks, called regulators, were installed in places of business and used to schedule work and set other clocks."

Is this what the Founders had in mind when they wrote "well regulated" ­ that the militia should be a smooth-running, precision machine? Well, despite what my teenagers might think, I didn't ride my dinosaur to the polls to vote for George Washington, so I can't really say what the Founders were thinking. But let's try a little experiment. Let's change just one word in the Second Amendment and see if it makes sense:

"A well RUN militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Now, the Second Amendment no longer appears at war with itself. The meaning is clear: an effective militia ­ one that runs like clockwork -- is of vital importance, and therefore, there shall be no restrictions on the right to bear arms.

And consider, when do we ever say something is "well regulated"? We don't use that phrase. When an industry ­ such as banking or medical devices -- is subject to stringent government oversight, we say it is "heavily regulated" (But perhaps not "well-regulated" at all!).

To me, there can be no question: The Founding Fathers really did mean the right to own guns is absolute. Now, whether that continues to be the best policy is open to debate. The Founders lived in a time when farmer-patriots shouldered essentially the same weapons as those issued by the government. And they may not have intended to maintain a standing army. The nation ­ and the world ­ is a much different place 200-plus years later.

But if the Constitution no longer works, than we have to amend it, not ignore it. Certainly, the Founders didn't foresee the Internet or reality TV any more than they foresaw machine guns. Yet, we extend First Amendment protections to new communication mediums, regardless of their value to society.

Let me leave you with this quote from the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. Not only is it some wonderful wordplay that helps illustrates my point, but it's a word of caution as we rush to "just do something" in response to a terrible evil.

"Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring."

Friday, November 2, 2012

... and Often!!! (That's how they do it in Chicago.)

The president is urging people to vote early. There's no mystery why he would say that. He says it to crowds of supporters, and he knows that some of them won't "get around to" voting if they wait for election day, so he figures if some of them vote early, he'll gain more total votes. (Not to mention he knows he's losing ground, and some might change their minds.)

But I'm bothered by the idea that a sitting president would encourage people to vote early. A president should be telling people, "The Constitution tells us this election comes every fourth year on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. I encourage all Americans to take full advantage of the time allotted them to fully educate themselves prior to the election. Our Constitution guarantees us free speech and a free press, and we should avail ourselves of them as we deliberate as a nation. We all have the right to consider the issues and candidates and change our minds as we see fit. To vote early is to risk disenfranchising oneself, should one's mind change between the early vote and election day."

But then, that would be doing his job of upholding the Constitution, not politic-ing.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Deliver Us from Temptation

You've no doubt heard that the mayor of New York City wants to ban sugared soft drinks larger than 16 ounces. It's for our own good.

I heard a report that the idea is catching on in other cities. Own city official reportedly said that it would be good idea, because while we could just suggest to people that it isn't good for them to ingest large amounts of sugar water, using the power of government to ban drinks of a certain size would "remove the temptation."

Remove the temptation! Can you believe that?!

I've written before about what I call the "new puritanism." It's an emphasis by the left to impose their version of morality and what they think is for the "common good," using the force of law.

Now, they're talking about how it's necessary to protect us from temptations!

Well, about the time I heard this on the radio, I was driving down the street and noticed a young woman in neon pink short-shorts walking her dog. It was a really cute dog, and I couldn't help but notice. And while I was distracted, I could have run through a red light, or crossed the center line, or hit a kid on a bicycle.

So maybe the government should help me. Ban the public walking of cute dogs!

OK, who am I kidding? Maybe the mayor should ban short-shorts. Then I won't have to struggle to keep my eyes on the road. But do you think that goes far enough? Even a pretty face peeking out of a parka hood can be a distraction. Maybe all females should be required to be completely covered from head to toe in shapeless garments.

Now that's progressive thinking.

And it's just a matter of public safety, or, the "common good."

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Hard to Stay Neutral on This One -- A Low Point in Political Discourse and Journalism

Big news this week. First it was reported that congresswoman Michele Bachmann had been given dual citizenship, and was now a Swiss citizen. She was eligible because her husband's parents are Swiss citizens. Recently, her children wanted to become Swiss citizens, so the family went through the process together.

Well, her critics -- and there are many -- couldn't let that pass, could they now?

In a "Through the Looking Glass" moment, Bachmann's Democratic challenger Jim Graves waved the flag and went all "America First."

"The Graves family is not interested in dual citizenship, and they are proud to be Americans," a campaign spokesman said.

In a story the next day, it was reported that Bachmann had withdrawn her Swiss citizenship, and wanted to reassure everyone that she is "100 percent committed to our United States Constitution and the United States of America."

Her opponent's spokesman countered by alluding to Bachmann not knowing where she was from, that earlier this year she was an Iowan (during the presidential caucuses), then she was Swiss, now she's an American.

Childish, aren't they?

But what's bizarre (or the first thing that's bizarre) is the "switch" that's going on here. I thought the Democrats were supposed to be all in favor of being "citizens of the world." The top Democrat can't decides whether he's from Hawaii, Kansas, Chicago, Kenya, Indonesia -- and that's supposed to be a good thing. The world hated us because Bush was so Ameri-centric, we were told. A world citizen president would make the terrorists love us.

What if Bachmann had told her kids, "Sorry, but I'm 100 percent American, and an elected official, to boot. It wouldn't be right for me to apply for dual citizenship."

Her critics would have roasted her for that. They's call her an ugly American, etc.

She can't win. Especially when she can't even get a fair hearing.

And that leads to the second thing in this story that's so bizarre: The Pioneer Press reporter, Megan Boldt, thinks she really has something. In her first story, she writes:

The news has a touch or irony. Switzerland has something Bachmann adamantly opposes -- universal health care and mandates that individuals buy coverage. Bachmann has feverishly campaigned against President Barack Obama's health care reform law, dubbing it "Obamacare" and calling for full-scale repeal.

So what? This story doesn't have anything to do with Swiss health care.That's really reaching for a way to take a shot at Bachmann. I'm surprised Boldt didn't go with something more obvious. After all, who knows anything about Swiss health care? But we all know what Switzerland is famous for -- those permissive bank regulations. I'm surprised Boldt didn't take the opposite approach and write:

"Bachmann's desire for Swiss citizenship makes sense, since the country's notoriously lax banking regulations help her rich friends in the 1 percent avoid taxes."

But Boldt really loves that health care angle. So much so that in her follow up story the next day, the one where it is reported Bachmann has reversed course, Boldt writes that Bachmann's dual citizenship:

. . . gave her critics ammunition. Switzerland has something she adamantly opposes -- universal health care and mandates that individuals purchase coverage.

Bachman has feverishly campaigned against President Barack Obama's health care reform law, dubbing it "Obamacare" and calling for full-scale repeal.

But just who are these "critics" criticizing Bachmann over the health care angle?

There appears to be only one: Megan Boldt of the Pioneer Press.

The reporter never quotes or references anyone else talking about the health care issue. Boldt raised it herself in her first story, calling it irony. Then, in her second story, she essentially used herself as her own source! Referencing unnamed "critics," when she herself is the only one saying anything about the subject!

Now is that bizarre, or what? It certainly isn't good journalism. Clearly, reporter Megan Boldt is a critic of Rep. Bachmann, and she's not hiding it very well.

But she seems pretty proud of that health care angle she thought up all by herself. She can't resist repeating it. (Reminds me of someone in the paper's sports department -- Bob Sansavere. He'll sometimes think he's come up with something clever, and he really has to hit us over the head with it. Then he has to explain it, you know, just in case we weren't smart enough to get it, because we're not as clever as he is, right? And he was really funny! When he starts doing that, I feel like I'm back in middle school.)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

What If They Worshiped the Earth Instead?

Here's a story about how some people are complaining about a Christian student group at a high school. I think this is a wonderful example of a "substitution" story. Let's look at some excerpts:

The parent also alleges Catalyst members have used repeated and aggressive "recruitment tactics" to try to get her daughter, a non-Christian, to join.

"I am not anti-Christian, but . . . the way these students are exercising their religious rights is infringing on other students' rights not to be bothered by it," said Melissa Thompson, parent of a sophomore at Blaine High School.


Thompson said her concerns began last April when her daughter told her a Catalyst member repeatedly was asking her to come to meetings and become a Christian.

"She said, 'I don't know what part of "no" they don't understand, Mom, but if I wanted to know Jesus I would go to church and not my school,' " Thompson said. "These kids . . . truly believe it's their job to lead the lost to Jesus and never give up."


Ronald Dixon, a senior at Blaine High School who is not in the group, said he also has been "harassed" by Catalyst members, several of whom have approached the self-professed atheist "several times" about converting.

"Their sole mission is to convert as many people as possible into the Christian religion . . ."


To his knowledge, Diaz [of the Catalyst group] said, members never have threatened anyone about suffering "eternal" consequences for refusing to convert to Christianity and said any member he learns who does would be asked to step down.

So what's my point? Let's do a substitution, and see if how the story might be played differently. What if this was not a Christian club, but the "Eco Club." Would it be news if members used "repeated and aggressive 'recruitment tactics'" to get others to join? Would it be news if members "wouldn't take 'no' for an answer"? Would it be news if they tried to "convert" other students? Would it be news if they repeatedly told other students not use plastic bottles, or not to drive SUVs? Would it be news if they in fact DID threaten others with eternal consequences for not repenting of their ways and continuing on the path to "global warming."

No, it wouldn't. And THAT GOES ON ALL THE TIME!

I would like fundamentalist Global Warmists to stop "bothering" me with their sermons about our sinful ways, but I didn't realize I had a "right not to be bothered"!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

"Pink Slime" Saves Polar Bears

Because of the fuss over the so-called "pink slime" beef product, 650 people are losing their jobs. No, not "greedy, evil executives" who forced everyone to eat the stuff -- which is perfectly safe and nutritious -- but rather, hard-working people from the factory floor. The packing plants that make this product are shutting down. According to an editorial from the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, and reprinted in the Pioneer Press today, the end of "pink slime" means about 13 pounds of good beef per cow will now go to waste. The paper says it will take an additional 1.5 million cattle each year to make up for that waste.

What's the carbon footprint of that development? Wow! One and a half million more flatulent cows, adding to the greenhouse gases. And more incentive for people to clear-cut rainforests to graze cattle or grow feedstuffs.

The end of "pink slime" means . . . more polar bears will die!

Can you make any sense of this? You know the people most concerned about "pink slime" are the same people telling us to change our lightbulbs, not use plastic bags or bottled water, drive a Prius, etc., . . . but their action here -- putting an end to "pink slime" in the name of "health" and "safety" -- clearly will be detrimental to the environment.

If only the beef processors had called their product "green" beef, or "hybrid" beef -- and stuck a picture of a polar bear on it -- they might be building new processing plants to produce even more of it!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

You Can't Repossess an Education

I was reading a story about how private student loans are not discharged when people file bankruptcy. Student loans taken out from the government do go away when someone files bankruptcy, but not loans taken out from private lenders.

Now, maybe that inconsistency is odd, but I think the bigger question is: Why should your student loans go away when you file bankruptcy?

After all, they don't repossess your education. You still have it. And the idea in taking out the loans was that you would get an education, that education would let you earn money, and then you could pay back the loans. And consider that when you finished college, and had accumulated all of that debt, you were essentially "bankrupt" then, but you were making a fresh start, and expected to work your way out of it. So why, years later, should it be any different?

One person profiled in the story was a teacher who had used loans to finance his master's degree. I'm thinking, he likely got an automatic pay raise when he obtained that degree. So if he got his way, and his student loan debt was wiped away, would he go to the school district and say, "Guess you don't have to pay me for having a master's degree anymore"? I doubt that very much.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Local or Loco?

Heard a representative of the Minnesota Twins baseball team talk the other day. He was bragging up all of the "local" stuff you can get at the ballpark: sausages made a mile-and-a-half away; beer brewed at a small brewery you can see from the stadium.

Isn't that weird? Encouraging you to buy a ticket to a ball game so you can enjoy the same foodstuffs you can get locally anyway?

It's such a turnaround. But that's the fashion aspect of marketing. Just like hemlines go up and down, what's "in" and "out" comes and goes. I remember when the big come-on would be, "We've searched far and wide for only the best beer and best sausages and the best peanuts" etc. The idea was that you would come to the game (or restaurant or store or whatever) to get something BETTER than the ordinary stuff you would get locally. It would be a unique experience.

Isn't that... goofy?

But now it seems the same crowd -- those who see themselves as sophisticated, cultured, progressive -- that thought you should drink water imported from France in a glass bottle, wants you to drink local water from the tap, with a reusable bottle.

It's the current fashion.

(I'm not saying that doesn't make sense by the way -- importing bottles of water to drink was nuts, I didn't buy into it! But many people did! They were the trendsetters -- and trend followers.)

So, while people used to drink their local beers, somewhere along the line -- the '70s, perhaps -- it fell out of fashion. A younger generation didn't want to drink the Grain Belt or Schmidt or Hamm's that their parents and grandparents drank. They wanted those flashy beers they saw on TV. Miller, or Budweiser. Or maybe some imports, or faux imports. Those had to be so much better than the stuff brewed right here in the Twin Cities, right?

Yet now the Twin Cities has an explosion of "micro-breweries," because the trendy people want their beer to be "local."

Here it is in short: The trendy people will always want what isn't the established thing. Given that, we can be sure that the pendulum will swing again, and "local swill" will fall out of favor once again. The beautiful, trendy people will have to discover this year's model of Rolling Rock, Dos Equis, Heineken, or whatnot.

People are just plain goofy, that's what I say.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Who Gets to Decide?

The "Hoodie":

1) represents criminality

2) means, "I look cool -- maybe a little bit tough. And it keeps my ears warm."

The Confederate Flag

1) represents racism

2) means, "I look like a rebel -- maybe a bit of a bad boy. And it looks cool on my pickup truck."

Who gets to decide? The wearer/bearer? Or the observer? Seems to me that in one case, we're told it doesn't matter what the intention is, people are entitled to draw their own conclusions. Yet in the other case, we're told people mustn't jump to conclusions. How about a little consistency?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Can You Believe This?!!!

Progressive Bowling Center Acts to Protect the Planet

San Francisco Free-Times -- Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Bay Area bowling center long known for its progressive innovations has gone to new lengths in its efforts to protect Mother Earth. Telegraph Road Lanes, San Francisco's iconic, cooperatively-owned bowling center, has taken the unprecedented step of prohibiting bowlers from bringing in their own balls.

"It's all about the carbon footprint," explained the co-op's manager, Justice Ford-Dahl. "Bowling balls are heavy, and whether our bowlers come in a Prius, or via public transportation, lugging along a bowling ball decreases fuel economy. The average ball is about 13 pounds. With all of our leagues, we have about 500 individual bowlers a day. Do the math: If the average trip is 4 miles, and we're open 364 days a year, well, that's like a caravan of 1,000 SUVs, driving from San Francisco to New York and back again... every week. That's about 4.1 billion pounds of carbon spewing into the air!"

Instead of playing with their own balls, patrons will have a new selection provided for them. But don't call them "house balls."

"We don't think that's a very inclusive term," Ford-Dahl said. "Not everyone has a house, and someone might feel left out. We call them 'community balls.'"

And the new balls are green -- in more ways than one. They are made from recycled cell phone shells, and colored green with an environmentally-friendly dye made from hemp grown on an organic, community-supported agriculture farm.

"Best of all, the balls didn't cost anything," Ford-Dahl said. "They were purchased with a combination of a federal grant, and funds from San Francisco's eco-sales tax."

Telegraph Road Lanes has long been known for its progressive innovations. The center oils its lanes with re-purposed vegetable oil from fast food restaurants, does not allow gender-specific leagues, and prohibits keeping score. "Although we're pretty sure some of our long-time bowlers still do it by hand under the table."

The new rule goes into effect Sunday. "Saturday is the last night of winter leagues," Ford-Dahl explained. "We'll be starting over with a clean slate on Sunday, April 1."

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Name Calling and Passing Judgment Bipartisan Offenses

There's a comic strip called "Candorville," created by Darrin Bell. It can be quite amusing. There's some good social commentary. But the creator is definitely a liberal Democrat, and that comes through from time to time. That's why I find a recent strip interesting in its timing.

In the March 10 strip, Bell's alter ego character, Lemont, is tweeting his opinion: "Saw commercial with some mom whining about tax on soda & juice drinks. Get your fat kids some WATER & you won't have to worry about it."

Wow! Somehow, he knows the kids are "fat." The mom is not concerned, but "whiny." And he has no reluctance to pass judgment and impose his views on how she -- and the products of her womb -- should live.

I haven't heard any uproar yet.

But let's just imagine, crazy as it sounds, that some social commentator identified with the Republican party said something like, "I heard some woman whining that her medical plan doesn't pay for birth control bills. Keep your slutty thighs together and you won't have to worry about it."

Think we'd hear about it?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sworn to Uphold... What, Exactly?

I was reading an Associated Press story in Saturday's paper, by Ben Feller, about the Obama administration's maneuvering on the free birth control issue. This isn't a quote from the Commander in Chief, and I wish I had his exact words, because the way Feller describes Obama's thinking is scary. Tell me, what's wrong with this picture? Feller writes:

"Obama, acknowledging he wanted a resolution to the controversy, ordered advisers to find a middle ground in days, not within a year as had been the plan before the uproar. He said he spoke as a Christian who cherishes religious freedom and as a president unwilling to give up on free contraceptive care."

Here's what's wrong: As PRESIDENT, he is sworn to uphold religious freedom. It's in the First Amendment of this little thing we call the Constitution. He swore an oath to protect that freedom when he took office. That shouldn't have to depend on his own religious beliefs. In fact, it mustn't depend on his own religious beliefs -- that's the whole point of having freedom of religion in the Constitution. Obama could be an atheist or a Muslim or Jedi, for all it matters, and it's not supposed to matter; he is sworn to uphold the Constitution and its guarantee of freedom of religion.

On the other hand, there's nothing about free birth control in the Constitution. As a POLITICIAN, he may want government policies that promote that goal, but it's not something that necessarily comes with the office of president.

Someone doesn't get it. Is it the reporter? Or the president? Is Obama truly so un-American or stupid that he doesn't understand his sworn role as president is to uphold the religious freedom guaranteed by our Constitution? Because if that's not the case, and Obama does understand his job, then an accurate description of the presidential thought process should read like this:

He said he spoke as a president sworn to uphold religious freedom, and as a politician unwilling to give up on free contraceptive care.

That would make sense.


And here's one more question that is raised by all of this discussion of contraception as necessary "health care": since when is pregnancy a "disease" to be avoided? Don't we also expect health care plans to pay for treatment when women find they don't get pregnant when they want to? Can we have it both ways?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

One Way, Not the Other. Where's the Consistency?

A couple thoughts:

I read a where it said that there's a "consensus" among economists that the corporate income tax is not good for the economy, and we should do away with it. So why aren't we doing something? We're told repeatedly that we must take drastic steps against so-called "global warming," because there is a "consensus" among scientists, and that makes it a fact.

MPR news was reporting on a pro-life rally, except of course, they described the protesters as people "opposed to legal abortion." What awful people! They are OPPOSED to something that is LEGAL! They must be bad. They must be wrong.

Once again, the liberal media bias is so obvious is the choice of words -- the media frames the discussion with the picture they paint.

Yes, those awful pro-baby protesters are just as bad as so many other historical villains. For example, the people who OPPOSED LEGAL SLAVE-OWNING, or people who OPPOSED LEGAL POLL TAXES. Yes, if you oppose something that's legal, you must be wrong. After all, the government is always right!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I Told You So

One of the reasons I started this blog seven and a half years ago (when I had time to write almost every day) was because I was tired of opening up the paper, reading a headline and saying, "I could have told you that!" I had had plenty of experience of going against what everyone else supposedly knew to be true, only to be proved true myself at a later date.

Here's one of those "I told you so" occasions.

A recent headline reported: "Regular pot use by high school students hits peak"

The story went on to link the rise in teen pot smoking to the legalization of marijuana for medical use. It seem that teens think if pot is OK for grown-ups, why shouldn't they enjoy it, too?

Please consider what I posted on this blog almost seven years ago, on January 4, 2005:

Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Drug Legalization: Still a Bad Idea

There's a school of thought that says we'll never win the "war on drugs," so it would be better to legalize drugs and regulate them, instead. Without all the drug arrests, we'd need fewer prisons, it is argued. And with drugs legal, we'd eliminate the lucrative market exploited by dealers and traffickers, and the accompanying drug business-related violence.

The situation is often likened to America's prohibition of alcohol, with its accompanying rise of organized criminal activity.

This position is advanced in a recent column by Neal Pierce. The argument has a certain logic to it. However, whenever I've considered the idea, I've remained opposed to legalization of now-illegal drugs. I have two primary reasons.

The first reason is that drug use is not a sustainable lifestyle -- no matter the price of drugs. While most people can use alcohol or tobacco and hold down a job, the story is different with many other drugs. People who get hooked on heroin or cocaine can't hold down a job long-term. How will they support their habit without turning to crime? Regardless of whether legal heroin costs less than illegal heroin, a person still has to hold down a job to support himself and his habit. I think legalized drugs inevitably lead to more drug addicts, whose lives are wrecked.

(Maybe there are lots of marijuana users who can hold down a job and support themselves. But in the case of marijuana, I'd say it's already so readily available that to legalize it would indeed make little difference.....except for reason number two.)

The second reason involves the young. People who propose legalizing drugs always say that, like tobacco and alcohol, drugs wouldn't be sold to minors. That's all well and good. Except, can you tell me with a straight face that tobacco and alcohol aren't obtained by teenagers who want them?

And -- this is the key -- why do teenagers want alcohol and tobacco? Because they are told they "aren't old enough"! Come on, you were a teenager once. Did you accept that you "weren't old enough"? Being told that made you want something really badly. Teenagers want to be grown-ups. That's why they drink and smoke, despite being told not to, and it being illegal for them to do so.

They are told "You're not old enough yet," to which they say, "Yes I am!" They use alcohol and tobacco because they want to feel grown up.

Contrast that to illegal drugs. Teenagers are told not to use cocaine and heroin because they are illegal for EVERYONE, and they are bad news. They turn you into a junkie. The typical teenager does not think that using them is the "grown up" thing to do. Illegal drugs aren't used by "grown-ups," they are used by "druggies."

So what happens if we legalize these drugs? Now, teenagers are being told, "You can use these drugs when you are 18 or 21." Will they accept that? Some will. Some won't. My prediction is that some teens will say, "I'm grown up enough to use those things (just like mom and dad)." Some will obtain and use the drugs to impress other teens.

The result will be more teens entering into the world of drug use, abuse, and junkiehood. They'll be lifetime addicts before they reach legal age -- before they are considered capable of making their own decisions. Whose fault will that be? We actual grown-ups are supposed to protect them.

Everyone has known for 40 years that cigarettes will kill you. Yet people continue to take up smoking. Most of them started before it was legal for them to do so. And now they can't quit.

Why does anyone still start smoking, knowing what we know? I blame it on the mixed messages we give young people: "Do as I say, not as I do." If we legalize drugs, we'll be giving that same mixed message about cocaine, heroin, you name it.

So while legalizing drugs may seem like an easy way to eliminate or reduce some of the problems we now have, it would also introduce new problems -- and who knows to what extent.

As the saying goes, Better the devil you know than the devil you don't know.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The New State Religion: Paganism

I heard on the radio that the University of Minnesota has sent out guidelines to employees telling them that seasonal celebrations (what were once called "Christmas parties) should no longer be called "holiday parties."

Instead, get-togethers this time of year should be referred to as "winter celebrations."

Are we to believe that the very concept of a "holiday" is offensive?

If there is no "holiday," then why should there be a celebration at all? Are we simply celebrating winter itself? Or more specifically in late December, the winter solstice?

I've heard that Christians long ago decided to place the celebration of the birth of Jesus in late December to try to overshadow the pagan practice of celebrating the winter solstice. That makes it extremely ironic that now the government (in the form of the U of M) is directing people to embrace the pagan practice of celebrating the winter season, essentially in order to make sure no one is acknowledging Christmas, or even that there is a "holiday."

Here it is in a nutshell: In order to make sure they can't be accused of allowing "establishment" of religion through a recognition of Christmas or through "holiday" parties, the U of M is instead directing employees to engage in the pagan practice of celebrating the winter solstice!

As a Christian, I am offended! Who are these government officials to tell people to practice a religion to which they do not subscribe? Telling people to specifically celebrate winter is certainly more of an "establishment" of religion than simply allowing them to celebrate generic "holidays."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Her "Choice" to Decide for Others

The city council in Maplewood, Minnesota recently made the controversial decision to reduce the number of garbage trucks rolling through its streets by giving a city-wide contract to one trash hauler. Many people did not like the decision. One man was quoted in the newspaper saying he wanted to have a choice in how to spend his hard-earned money.

But one Mary Newcomb, who was happy with the council's decision, retorted that: "My choice for fewer trucks, less pollution and less cost has already been denied to me ... Instead of having the government off my back, I want the government at my back."

Wow! So she thinks it's right to use the government to force her "choice" upon everyone else! That doesn't seem like much respect for the whole concept of choice, does it?

Let's apply her "logic" to another issue. I wonder what she would think if someone were to say this:

"The government should act to ban abortion. My choice for fewer unborn babies being killed has already been denied to me. Instead of having the government off my back [allowing the individual a "choice"] I want the government at my back [telling other people they can't choose for themselves what to do, they may do only what I want them to do]."

My guess? She'd say, "That's different!" But I bet she couldn't tell me why.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Truth in Black and Wight

Only on rare occasion have I heard anyone say to me, "That's might white of you."

I wondered, is that considered a racist remark? Is it saying that White people act in a laudable way, but other people don't?

Well, a funny thing happened recently. There were a couple of "Thin Man" movies on TV, with Tyrone Power in the role of Nick Charles. I had the closed captioning on, to help me keep up with the rapid banter over the family background noise. The character Nick Charles at one point uttered the phrase, "That's might white of you." Oddly, though, I noticed the closed captioning didn't read "white," but instead it said "wight."

Was that a typo? Or was it significant!

To the Google! (Always remember: you can "prove" just about anything using the Web, but that doesn't mean it's right!)

First, I encountered some information that said this is a racist saying. One person quite confidently explained that it means that White people are "mighty" -- thus, better -- as opposed to non-whites. Huh?

Finally, the truth. "Wight" is indeed the correct spelling. And it has nothing to do with color or race.

Take it from the Merriam Websters online dictionary:

"Mighty 'white' of you This term is not actually racist, but a misunderstanding of the phrase mighty wight of you. Wight is a now obsolete term of Old English origin meaning a living creature, specifically a human. So the real expression simply means that something is a very nice, or humane gesture."

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Beware the Wrath of . . . Martians?

There's another thing to worry about.

According to scientists from Penn State University and NASA, we should be worried that space aliens may come and destroy the Earth to punish us for Global Warming. . . I mean, Climate Change.

OK, now I ask you -- in ALL SERIOUSNESS -- how is this any different than the Rev. Pat Robertson or the Rev. Fred Phelps saying that God is punishing us, or will punish us, for our evil ways, by giving us AIDS, hurricanes, or the deaths or soldiers?

It's the same thing!

Yet, on the one hand we have "religious kooks," while on the other hand we have "scientists."

But how are they different?

In both cases, we have someone taking their own personal Earthly socio-political agenda, and linking it to punishment by some unseen, powerful being who lives amongst the heavens.

It's the same thing!

Tell me, is there any more scientific proof for the existence of extraterrestrials than there is scientific proof for the existence of God? No, there isn't any. Let alone any scientific proof that extraterrestrials have the capability or desire to visit and destroy Earth.

And don't say, "Well, it's a big universe, there must be other life out there." That's not science. That's no more science than saying, "Look at the beauty of His Creation; there must be a God in Heaven."

Some people say that God didn't make man, man made God. Others say that if God didn't exist, man would have to invent Him. Seems like that is what's going on here. These "scientists" have invented their own gods -- space aliens -- so that they can threaten that their gods will smite us if we don't do what they say.

Mankind has long had a fascination with heavenly punishment -- floods, earthquakes, plagues, you name it. All attributed to a supernatural force that was unhappy with us.

But after millennia of "the gods" or "God" threatening to do us in, we got cocky, and started to put ourselves into that role. We said we'd do ourselves in with over population, or the A bomb, or pollution, or Global Warming... I mean, Climate Change.

So it's a new twist, but also a regression, to now say that we must once again fear heavenly retribution for our sins.

Science? Only in Al Gore's classroom.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday, America!

I mentioned before that I am an "Honoray Commander" with the U.S. Air Force Reserve 934th Airlift Wing. Last week I they took me on a flight on a C130. We flew from the Twin Cities, over southwestern Wisconsin, and down to Cedar Lake, Iowa, before returning to the Twin Cities in time for lunch. You get some great views flying at only 500-1,500 feet! I got to ride in the cockpit for the landing.Incredible! Here are some photos:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Drive the New Subaru Hypocrite

The Subaru with the West Virginia plates sported one of those "COEXIST" bumper stickers. I'm sure you've seen them. The word is made using symbols that represent the world's major religions.

I've never liked those bumper stickers. Yes, it's a good goal to have everyone get along. But they seem preachy, and judgmental. Accusatory, even. And I also don't think one person should appropriate other people's religious symbols for their own purposes. Shouldn't "coexisting" be about respecting each other's beliefs and practices?

That's why I could hardly believe what I saw right next to the "COEXIST" bumper sticker: an "Evolve" fish. That's the Christian fish symbol, with some feet stuck on it and the word "evolve" in the middle. I've seen those before. I've also seen a version that reads "Darwin." I find them offensive. Why is it socially acceptable to ridicule Christian beliefs in this way? Mocking other groups of people in a similar way might even be labelled a "hate crime."

But this was the first time I'd seen the mockery juxtaposed in such a hypocritical way.

By what "logic" did this person think it made sense to mock Christians, while at the same time preaching to us all that our different religions should "coexist"?

I kid you not. I saw this at St. Clair and Snelling. On a Subaru with West Virginia plates, turning into the parking lot at the St. Clair Broiler.

Is there a symbol for hyprocritical, narrow-minded, intolerant, mean-spirited idiots who would likely describe themselves as tolerant and open-minded? If there is, it needs to be included in that donkey's "COEXIST" bumper sticker.

I shouldn't be surprised, should I? Remember my post from last September 28? I told you about a Volkswagen sporting an "Eat, drink and buy local" bumper sticker.

Does the saying "Do as I say, not as I do" come to mind?

These people are total idiots.

Monday, May 16, 2011


You don't have to salute, but I'm an Honoray Commander of the 934th Airlift Wing!

This is a community relations program, desgined to help increase awareness of the Air Force Reserve unit based in the Twin Cities. Sunday I spent the day at the base, touring and having a good time. Check it out! There I am at the controls of a (parked) C-130!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Oil Companies, Congress, Fight for Market Share -- or -- Pot Calls Kettle Black

From McClatchy Newspapers:

President Barack Obama said Thursday that his administration will investigate whether fraud or manipulation in oil markets is behind the sharp increase in gasoline prices.

"We are going to make sure that no one is taking advantage of the American people for their own short-term gain," Obama said at a town hall meeting in Reno, Nev.

Someone "taking advantage of the American people for their own short-term gain"? Isn't that pretty much the definition of a politician?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Don't Quit Your Day Job

I get annoyed with cartoonists who forget that their job is to draw silly cartoons, and who start to think of themselves as great thinkers.

And I get really annoyed when they clearly aren't even adequate thinkers.

Take this "Candorville" cartoon. The cartoonist apparently wants to suggest that raising taxes is like working to get a better-paying job.

Yeah, right. Only if you get that higher-paying job by telling your present employer: "Either you give me a raise, or I'll have a man with a gun handcuff you and march you off to a prison cell."

Raising taxes isn't anything like earning better pay. A better analogy to use would be for the government to pursue a policy of growing the economy, helping businesses grow and succeed, and facilitating full employment. That would be somewhat like the government earning a raise.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Signs of Spring

Here's the Commemorative Air Force's (Minnesota Chapter) B-25 "Miss Mitchell" firing up the engines for the first time this season on April 2 at the South St. Paul airport.

A few days earlier (March 30), the P-51 was out for the first flight of the season. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon to spend time standing around on the tarmac.

And here's Minnehaha Falls on March 31.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Rights vs. Entitlements

I read this rather brief letter-to-the-editor in the paper the other day:

"There is something seriously wrong with a nation that believes that every citizen has a God-given right to own a gun, but has no right to health care."

Were you aware that we aren't allowed to have health care in this country?

I wasn't either.

The writer of this letter, whom I'm guessing thinks he has written something very profound, is actually clueless. Just because the government doesn't provide something to you doesn't mean you don't have a "right" to it.

You have an expressed Constitutional right (tempered by permits, waiting periods, etc.) to own a gun. But the government won't buy it for you.

You have an expressed Constitutional right to freedom of the press and freedom of speech. But the government doesn't buy you a Super Bowl ad so you can vent.

You have an expressed Constitutional right to freedom of religion. But the government doesn't build your church for you.

This letter is absolute nonsense. If, as the letter writer maintains, we have no "right" to health care because the government doesn't provide it, then certainly he would have to also say (contradicting himself) that we also have no right to bear arms.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ivory Towers, Both Broadcast and Collegiate

In a post yesterday about the NPR officials who served as such good examples of liberal bias, I said that the liberal media elite have no tolerance for real diversity, only the superficial diversity of skin color amongst people who vote like them.

The same can be said about their partners in academia.

Behold the cover of the Bridge, the alumni magazine from the University of Minnesota Duluth.

"Exposure to diverse views broadens our perspective and increases our knowledge" is the statement on the cover.

And I agree with that. But diversity is more than skin deep. We can see different skin tones, but what's going on inside these students' minds?

Inside we learn more about the students. Beyond the readily apparent issues of race or ethnicity, we learn that they came from around the country and around the world to study at UMD. One has a physical ailment that presents a challenge. Several identify themselves in terms of their sexuality.

So yes, these students bring various experiences and views to the discussion table. But for all of their diversity, do they really represent a wide range of views?

More than half identify with groups that solidly vote Democrat. There's not a one where you'd say, "I'll bet (s)he votes Republican" based on their membership in some group, or their choice of major. And of course, they're college students, a group for whom being a political liberal seems almost natural.

So if they all sat 'round that hypothetical discussion table, I expect that despite their espoused "diverse views," you'd find a pretty good consensus on the issues of the day. The Wisconsin public employee brouhaha? They'd be behind the workers. Raise taxes on "the rich"? They'd be for it. Abortion? Yep. Same sex marriage? No problem.

Now add to that the indisputable fact that college professors overwhelmingly are liberal Democrats who would take the same side on the sample issues listed in the previous paragraph, and I ask you: How much "diversity" is there really on a college campus?

Diversity of skin color, sure. Diversity of ideas or views? I don't think so. And the really scary part is, as evidenced by the Bridge, the people who run our universities haven't a clue what diversity really means.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The NFL Explained

The billionaires and the multi-millionaires are fighting over how to divide a pot of billions of dollars.

Meanwhile, the billionaires want to use the power of the government to confiscate money from the rest of us. They want to use our money to build new facilities for their businesses, in order to make even more money selling their product to us.

It makes perfect sense.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I'm from the Government, and I'm Here to Help You Afford Health Care

A drug called Makena is given to high-risk pregnant women at a cost of $10-$20 per week.

Next week, that cost will soar to $1,500!

The nerve of those pharmaceutical giants! Someone should do something! This is exactly why we need government health care in order to make the system more efficient and control costs.

Not so fast, Hillary. The AP explains:

"The drug known as Makena has been made cheaply for years, mixed at pharmacies that do custom-compound treatments. But recently, KV Pharmaceutical of suburban St. Louis won government approval to sell the drug exclusively.

"Many obstetricians supported the switch for the sake of consistent quality. But no one anticipated the dramatic price hike, especially since the cost for development was shouldered by others in the past."

You gotta love that "no one anticipated" part. Social engineers never seem to anticipate anything other than their desired effects. They react almost like little kids: "No fair! That wasn't supposed to happen!"

Well, I'm sure it will all be fixed when we get a Democrat in the White House.

Oh. . . never mind.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Liberal Elite Are On the Air!

NPR executives got themselves into trouble this week when their comments showed just what they think of Christians and the right-wing.

This comes as no surprise to those of us who are Christians and politically conservative.

When I've complained about the "left-wing media elite," this is just what I'm talking about. They think they know best. They think they're better than people who have different opinions. They have no tolerance for real diversity, only the superficial diversity of skin color amongst people who vote like them.

Oh, but they do such a good job bringing us the news, right? They're professionals. They don't let their personal biases show.

Of course they do. As I've been telling you for years, bias shows in the little things. In the terms that are used. In what's reported. In how stories are framed.

Just a couple of days ago, I heard a Minnesota Public Radio news report that included two examples of what I see as bias. Others might try to excuse it as sloppy reporting. If so, it's sloppy reporting that's the result of bias.

Regarding the public employees union issue in Wisconsin, the reporter said that the bill would "strip public employees of collective bargaining right." Not a lie, no. But the reporter implies all rights will be taken away. That's not the case. The reporter should have same "some" or even "most." But she didn't. That wouldn't sound as bad.

Then, she moved on to the story about Lada Gagme, I mean, Lady Gaga, ending a record distribution deal with Target because she learned that Target had given money to a Republican politician who doesn't support same-sex marriage.

That's not accurate. Target Corporation gave money to a pro-business group that in turn gave money to candidates, including Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer.

Lady Googa may not like that, either. That's her choice. But it doesn't mean MPR can disregard the facts in favor of a version that "makes a better story."

Trouble is, the news people, being overwhelming personal supporters of Democrats, tend to absorb the party line and forget the facts. One good example is the Democrat version of history, where former U.S. senator and St. Paul mayor Norm Coleman successfully ran for re-election as mayor, then "tricked" everyone by switching to the Republican party. This was repeatedly brought up by his political opponents.

Just one problem. The "fact" wasn't true. Coleman announced he was switching to the Republican party during his first term as Mayor. He ran for re-election as a Republican, and heavily Democratic St. Paul re-elected him.

Nonetheless, reporters would repeat this partisan version of history. So one day, when I saw the lie in print in the Pioneer Press, I called the reporter on it. He had to look up the facts of the matter, then he sheepishly had to admit that he had gotten it wrong. Of course, there was no retraction.

Why does a reporter so easily fall for the party line, instead of sticking to the facts? That's bias, baby. We all have it. I have it. But I admit it. And I'm not subsidized by your tax dollars.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

One Good Apple (Hanging in a Tree)

We've got hearings in Washington over whether we should be concerned about home-grown Islamic extremism and terrorism, and some consider this "controversial." Hello, come in Fort Hood.

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison objects. (Did you know he's a Muslim!? He's the only Muslim in Congress!!!! The liberal Democrats of Minneapolis are just bursting at the seams, they are so proud that they have elected a Muslim. I can't figure out why the same people who say they hate -- yes, hate Michelle Bachmann and her "kooky" right-wing religious beliefs are so proud of themselves for electing a Muslim. Have they ever looked around the world and observed the relationships between religions and governments?) Rep. Ellison tells a tearful story about a Muslim first-responder who died in the World Trade Center.

Is that all it takes? One good example from a group and then all the group members are angels?

If so, then I guess if there's ever an inquiry into the Ku Klux Klan -- you know, that quasi-religious group that likes to hang people from branches -- someone can just point out the Klansman who served as a Democrat in the U.S. Senate for decades, and the hearings will be called off.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

What's Another Word for "Jolly"?

Actual ad from Life magazine, Oct. 13, 1952. I picked this up at an antiques and collectibles show over the weekend.

I'm seeing the Jolly Green Giant in a whole new way. Goodbye Green Acres; Hello, Broadway!

I hadn't ever noticed before that the Jolly Green Giant has something in common with Donald Duck-- he doesn't wear any pants! Please, Mr. Giant, if you insist on going sans trou, I think you should stay "in"!


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Supply & Demand? or Simply Demands?

Pioneer Press economics columnist Ed Lotterman this week had a good one on supply and demand and how it relates to jobs, and relevantly, public sector jobs in Wisconsin.

The points Lotterman makes are so basic, no wonder people can't understand them!

Of course, one of the constants of human nature (Which economists are finally starting to factor into the equation. What took them so long? Aren't economists human? But I digress...) is that people always want more. The grass is always greener.

A recent letter to the editor in the Pioneer Press concluded with, "Well, if public sector jobs are so good, why doesn't everybody get one?" I had the feeling the letter writer was feeling she had proved her point. Case closed.

But of course that proves nothing. Everyone can't have a public employee job, of course. We could all have public sector jobs and negotiation a minimum wage of $100 an hour. . . except that we can't.

And it can just as easily be turned around: "If being a public employee is such a hardship, why don't you get a private sector job?" Or, "If being a Fortune 500 CEO is such a good gig, why isn't everyone a Fortune 500 CEO?" Maybe, "If being a professional athlete making millions of dollars is such a good job, why isn't everyone a professional athlete?"

And then there are (still) the auto workers. I was just reading a story about disgruntled auto workers who think their union is cooperating too much with ownership, of which they are now a part. They have jobs because they were bailed out, but rather than appreciate that and show concern for the ongoing viability of their employer, it's still "What (more) have you done for me lately?" And the story said they still make $29 an hour plus benefits. Do you think they'd have trouble replacing those workers at $12 an hour? Probably not.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Have You Stopped Beating Your Girlfriend Yet?

Pioneer Press columnist Ruben Rosario wrote recently about a high school where the kids are encouraged to sign a pledge not to beat their romantic partners.

Nothing wrong with that. Except it almost seems to imply that NOT beating your girlfriend is optional. If you don't take the pledge, maybe it's OK?

Why should a pledge be necessary?

It reminds me of the "chastity pledge" -- which of course was much mocked by those on the left.

One girl in Rosario's column said fears her 19-year-old boyfriend may be getting dangerously violent. He's been very angry since his younger brother was fatally stabbed.

Sounds like she picked a winner.

Maybe she should have taken a chastity pledge. Seriously. Look, I don't know the particulars of this particular couple, but I am sure that in many cases, if the girl simply wasn't putting out for the guy, the no-good creep wouldn't want anything to do with her, including beating her.

Keeping the barn door shut is a lot easier than rounding up the cows. What I'm saying is it's easier to prevent the problem in the first place than to clean up the consequences. And that's actually a political philosophy. While some people always want more and more "programs" to deal with the problems, other people think it's simpler -- and more effective -- to simply hold to high standards that will prevent there ever being the problems in the first place.

Monday, February 28, 2011

To Have and to Have Not

If public opinion is not overwhelmingly behind Wisconsin's protesting public workers, I think the reason can be summed up pretty easily.

Unions got their start for the purpose of defending the "have nots" against the 'haves."

But in Madison, many non-union observers compare themselves to the public employees, and see themselves as the "have nots" and the public union members as the "haves." And they aren't happy that the "haves" are living off of the taxes of the "have nots."

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Media Bias? Here's a Confession

I've written more than once before that a chief way bias in the news media manifests itself is in the way the reporters define the terms of the debate. People who call themselves "pro-life" become "opponents of reproductive rights" in the press.

At least in that case, the Supreme Court has actually ruled that there is a "right" to abortion.

More recently, the mainstream press has started to parrot the Minnesota Democrats who want to "invest" in everything they support. You now read or hear about proposed "investments in" education. To the Republicans, these "investments" are known as increased government spending.

And the Pioneer Press is at it again, defining the terms, in a story about how Target Corp. has entered into a marketing agreement with Lady Gaga for her new album, "Born this Way." The album is said to be "pro gay," and the paper's reporter can't resist trying to contrast that to the fact that last year the company gave a donation to a pro-business group that in turn supported gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. Or, as the paper calls him, "anti-gay-rights" Tom Emmer.

Had Emmer gotten up on the stump and said, "When I'm elected, you can be assured that gays will no longer be able to speak their minds freely. Gays will not be allowed to own guns. Gays will not be allowed to worship as they please"?

No, I don't think so. I'm sure if he had, the Pioneer Press would have reported it.

So what makes him "anti-gay-rights"? Apparently, his opposition to the idea that precedent should be overturned and an entirely new thing called same-sex marriage should be created in Minnesota.

Does that make him "anti-gay-rights"? Only if you believe same-sex marriage is a "right." But that's a matter of opinion. As of right now, it's not a "right" in Minnesota. A new law or a court ruling could make it a right, but it is not a right, not right now. By calling Tom Emmer "anti-gay-rights," the newspaper is advancing an opinion, not stating a fact.

Governor Mark Dayton, the man who defeated Emmer in the general election, wants to raise taxes. He wants the government to forcibly confiscate (even more of) people's property. Does the paper call him "anti-property-rights Mark Dayton"? Not that I've seen.

Governor Mark Dayton approves of the idea of legal abortion. Does the paper call him "anti-fetal-rights Mark Dayton"? What do you think?

Another way media bias manifests itself is in what stories get covered, and what ideas get advanced. Of course, they deny it. "We just report the news, we don't make it," they say. But check out this excerpt, which I read in the Summer 2008 edition of "Minnesota History," a publication of the Minnesota Historical Society. It's from a story about the women's movement in the 1970s, written by Cheri Register.

"The late syndicated columnist Molly Ivins worked briefly at the Minneapolis Tribune and was a familiar presence at feminist gatherings. In 1970 she attended a meeting of 'dissident overground journalists' that discussed two strategies for deepening the coverage: 'Many of us agreed that rather than writing about Women's Liberation, we should start writing about the reasons why there is such a movement -- start writing about salary discrimination, limitation of opportunities for advancement . . . and about a zillion other subjects.' The second strategy was 'sneaking' stories into the women's section where "no one expects anything controversial.'

"Those were precisely the strategies at St. Paul's Pioneer Press and Dispatch. Women's section editor Mary Ann Grossman pared back the society news to make way for substantive articles about women's issues. On divisive matters like abortion, she took care* to balance the coverage. 'I often felt like I was the minefield,' she says. 'And this was so under the guys' radar -- the editors' -- that they didn't even pay any attention.'"

Clearly, they had a cause. They had an agenda. They weren't merely reporting the news, they were trying to shape it by influencing public knowlege and public opinion.

But is that wrong?

It is a role of journalists to educate, we certainly can't deny that. And to advocate. Expose corruption. Bring light to those who need help -- the hungry, the hurting.

But again, it is in the choices they make where the bias is evident. WHICH issues need to be exposed can be a matter of opinion. A public official is taking bribes? We all think that should be exposed. Children are starving? Again, we think they should advocate some help be provided. There's a movement among women to demand a different role in society? Reported on, of course. Advocated? That's a matter of opinion. Create marriage between two people of the same gender? Again, report on the debate, but advocating one side is a matter of opinion.

*Shouldn't a journalist ALWAYS "take care" to "balance" the coverage of any issue? This suggests to me that she didn't want to be balanced. Hmmmm... could that be a bias?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

More Double Standards

A deranged man shoots a bunch of people, including a Congresswoman, and there is an outcry that this means "we" (Actually, only people on the political right.) have "gone too far" with our Constitutionally-protected free speech. Never mind that the alledged shooter has not been shown to have any connection to talk radio. We have to "tone things down." Ha! Just a few short years ago, we were told "dissent is patriotic," even if it endangered our troops and our nation's geopolitical interests.

In contrast, a Pennsylvania abortionist is charged with murdering seven babies (while the actual number is thought to be many times that), and it's a minor story. Where's the outcry that this is the inevitable product of our lack of respect for life? That the "right" to "reproductive freedom" must be used responsibly? That we've created a "culture of death" that leads unstable people to become mass murderers?

And consider that "speech" is actually specifically mentioned in the Constitution.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

America: Boss of the World

Have you noticed how some people (re: media) are shocked -- shocked, I say! -- that Musbarek has not resigned? People are protesting. How can he stay in office?

Oh, I don't know. Did President Bush resign when people protested aginst him? Did Clinton resign when he was so out of favor that he got himself impeached? Did Obama resign when Tea Party protestors filled the nation's capital?

No. Of course not. Did we expect them to? We have no provision or precedent for a president to resign because he is unpopular. Whey do we think another nation's ruler will do so? Especially an autocrat! What, do we expect him to "do the right thing"?

And another thing: When did the choir get a new hymnbook? All of a sudden, they think Obama should be working for "regime change" in Egypt! And, we keep hearing that -- contrary to Iraq -- it is NOT better to have a dictator who keeps order, than to have a "messy" democracy.

I just can't keep up.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Have I Got a Dream for You...

Monday is the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. As I've written before, the late Rev. Dr. King is the single most important figure in U.S. history. Don't just take my word for it, Congress says so. They've made it so that the Rev. Dr. King is the only individual American with a national holiday in his honor. Even Presidents Washington and Lincoln have to share their birthdays with 42 (or is it 41? Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms) other presidents.

Anyway, I'm sure you've noticed how we (that's the collective "we" representative of our society; don't take it personally) like to commercially exploit all the other holidays during the year. "I cannot tell a lie. Prices will never be lower than during our Washington's Birthday sale!" But so far, I had not seen that being done with the MLK holiday. I suspect that people think they might be criticized as racially insensitive if they do so. After all, MLK is serious business; he worked for civil rights. (Lincoln, on the other hand, didn't do much. You know, apart from freeing the slaves. What has he done for us lately?)

But today I saw an ad in the paper priming the pump for the "Martin Luther King Jr. SALE." Fifty percent off all merchandise. At a chain of thrift stores. Hmmm. I think Chris Rock would have something to say about that.

I suppose it's only a matter of time until we start hearing, "I HAVE A DREAM! -- That I can buy a car with no money down!"

I just hope it's for something other than used Cadillacs and Lincolns.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What's Wrong With This Picture?

I went to the grocery store the other day and intended to buy some cottage cheese. I have a favorite brand I usually buy, but there were a couple of signs demanding my attention. The first advertised Land O'Lakes brand cottage cheese for only $1.99. That's a good deal. My regular brand was more than $4. But then I saw another sign, advertising Westby brand cottage cheese for $3.29. Furthermore, the Westby cheese was said to be "local" and "farmer owned."

Tough to argue with "local" and "farmer owned." How could I buy the evil Land O'Lakes brand when Westby is "local" and "farmer owned"?

Well, maybe because Land O'Lakes is based right here in Minnesota. The headquarters is in suburban St. Paul. And maybe because Land O'Lakes is a cooperative, and is "farmer owned."

And maybe because when I was growing up, as part of the fourth generation of Downings on the family farm, our milk used to go to make Land O'Lakes cheese.

This "local" and "farmer owned" business is a lot more complicated than some trend-following city slickers think.

(I retouched one photo, but only to make the type more readable.)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Four Out of Five Doctors

McDonalds is running radio ads touting their coffee as a "personal motivator." They suggest you order your coffee with an extra shot of espresso for good measure.

Sort of brings to mind those old cigarette ads that touted the benefits of tobacco. Smoking is good for your health! they said. Doctors recommend our brand! they said.

Now we shake our heads and say, I can't believe they used to advertise tobacco that way.

Think about it. McDonalds is touting the benefits of drugs -- chemical stimulants. Yes, caffeine is a legal drug, but so was -- and is -- tobacco.

I wonder if some day we might look back at these McDonalds ads and shake our heads, too.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Proof Is in the Puddinghead

Is this guy a total idiot? Or is this a bit? He argues that the news media must be biased in favor of conservatives because they write more stores about kooky Republicans than kooky Democrats. Yeah, and they write more stories about criminals than law-abiding people, so I guess they favor crime, too. What's he going to do for a follow-up? Prove that the cops are biased in favor of black people? Yeah, they must like blacks better than whites. That's why they stop and arrest so many of them.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Government No Friend of Small Business

Yesterday I had another thought on "buy local" that I'd like to add. I was out and about on my sales job (www.sarsigns.com), and I was thinking about the places I passed that use lots of my product, but nonetheless are unlikely to ever buy from me. That's because they are government operations. And that means they mostly spend their money (our money) with larger operations who win contracts with them. I stand no chance of walking in and earning their business.

And that's when it occurred to me that if you believe in "buy local" and buying from small businesses, then you should be for limited government. Government is not good at supporting small business or buying local. Government wants to buy in bulk. Think of the Defense Department. They support those giant defense contractors and other giant companies -- like Haliburton -- that liberals hate. If we turn a huge segment of the economy -- oh, health care for example -- over to the government, it can only mean more business for huge conglomerates. And less "local" business for the little guys.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Local or Loco?

The current craze for everything "local" drives me nuts. It's become just another marketing buzzword. I recently read about a Twin Cities chocolate maker who infuses his confections with "local cream." That's got to be just about the worst example possible of "local" food! First of all, where did the chocolate come from? A long ways away, we know that. Secondly, cream is a food item that has pretty much always been locally sourced, particularly in a dairy state such as Minnesota. What an empty boast!

Now, there's nothing wrong with buying local, particularly when that means you're getting a better product. Yes, buying local strawberries in June sure beats buying strawberries that were picked green two weeks ago and 2,000 miles away. But Adam Smith explained hundreds of years ago that everyone's standard of living is enhanced when people in different regions and countries produce what they produce best and then trade with each other.

And a lot of people jumping on the "buy local" bandwagon really think they are on the "anti-corporate" bandwagon. They think buying local means the same as buying from small, one-of-a-kind businesses. But it doesn't have to. Target and Best Buy are two dominant national retailers, but they both are based right here in the Twin Cities. Both had there first stores within miles of my house! But I'm supposed to shun them because they aren't "local"?

But if I do shop at Target and Best Buy, then should I still boycott Walgreens because the pharmacy giant is based in Illinois? And if that's the case, then should I also encourage people in Chicago to boycott Target and Best Buy at the expense of jobs in Minnesota?

This confusion over "local" and anti-corporate reminds me of the "flat tax." People say, "I favor the flat tax because then you could do your tax return on a postcard." But it doesn't mean that at all, not unless you also do extreme tax simplification. That's what would put your return on a postcard -- tax simplification. But you could still have more than one rate on that postcard.

Purists and fundamentalists who call for everything to be "local" or "organic" or call for "zero waste" remind me of those who preach "abstinence only" or "just say no." Yet the first group tends to be full of people who have been critical of the second group for not being "realistic." Hmmmm.

But then, expecting these left-wing fundamentalists to be able to reason is probably unrealistic. Remember, the same group of people now preaching "zero waste" and "buy local" is the group that previously thought we should all be drinking our water out of bottles. And the best bottled water, of course, was bottled water that had been shipped all the way from France.

For a good look at the "local" craze, read this story from the Pioneer Press. It does a good job of critically looking at the issue.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

50 Ton Jesus

In promotion of the King Tut exhibit coming to the Science Museum of Minnesota, we have a 26-foot tall statue of the Egyptian deity Anubis displayed in the public square in downtown St. Paul.

This in a city that displays a "holiday" tree, because we mustn't recognize Christmas.

The Science museum recently had an exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls. What would have happened if they had promoted that with a 10-ton version of the 10 Commandments on city property? Or how about a 26-foot tall Jesus?

Now, be careful before you dismiss my point. It's easy to say, "That's different. This Egyptian thing isn't a REAL god. It's just an artifact and a piece of history. It's not a REAL religion, so it doesn't matter."

But THAT is exactly what the First Amendment is intended to prevent -- the government deciding which religions are "real" or deserve respect. Would we want the Supreme Court someday to rule that a manger scene is OK in the public square after all, because the Court ruled that Jesus is just a myth? I don't want that.

I'm not personally bothered by this statue, because I do see it as ancient history (literally) and mythology. That's my right as an American to make my own judgement about Anubis. But to be consistent, shouldn't we keep Anubis out of the town square the same way we keep Jesus out? If not allowing a creche scene because that is an "establishment" of religion, then conversely, allowing Anubis should be scene as a restriction on religion, with the government passing judgement that Anubis is not truly divine.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Airplanes Don't Kill People, People Kill People

A newspaper commentary by Curtis Tate headlined "Time is right to get serious about building high-speed rail system" included this paragraph:

"But next time you experience the full-body airport scan -- or the alternative pat-down -- think for a moment about a fast, comfortable ride on a high-speed train you boarded without having to compromise your privacy and dignity."

You mean all we have to do is switch to rail travel and the terrorists will be thwarted? I can see the terrorists now: "Oh, darn, now what am I going to do? All the Great Satans have stopped flying. No point in blowing up an airplane now, I might as well put my bombs away and become a social worker."

I'm pretty sure that if we switched from planes the trains, the bombers would, too. They'd start targeting trains -- just like they do in the rest of the world already. And then we'd have to have the same security systems in place at the rail station that we have in place at the airport now.

It's not airplanes that are dangerous, it's that there are people who want to kill us, and they have chosen airplanes as the tool to use. We can try to make changes to air travel, but the fact remains that THEY WANT TO KILL US. We can make all the changes we want, but so can the killers. Yet people like to think that they can enforce one change somewhere without consequences elsewhere.

And if we think security is tough for planes, wouldn't it be even tougher for trains? With an airplane, you just have to make sure no bombs get on. Now consider a New York to Los Angeles train. Even if you keep all the bombs off the train, the thing is vulnerable for thousands of miles to any bad guy with not only a small explosive charge, but even a crow bar, a cordless SawzAll, a tractor, a cutting torch, a powerful jack, a truck full of diesel fuel and fertilizer he can park on the tracks, etc. etc. And those are just ways to derail a train that I thought of sitting here just now. If they decide to start targeting our rail lines, we're really in trouble.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Two Sides of the Mirror

Black Helicoptor Conspiracy / Big Business Conspiracy

"States' Rights" / "Choice"

"Family Values" / "Social Justice"

Missiles as "Peacekeepers" / Abortion as "Reproductive Health"

Hmmmmmm . . .

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Don't Buy American, Buy Local Instead

I spotted another vehicle with lots of bumper stickers making sure I was being told how to think. One of them read, "Eat, drink and buy local."

Of course, it was on a Ford Ranger, assembled right here in St. Paul.

I can't fool you, can I? No, it was on a Volkswagen. I don't think they make those around here.

Didn't "Buy American, the Job You Save May Be Your Own" used to be sort of a -- if not right-wing bumper sticker -- then at least something expressing traditional and blue-collar sentiments? It seems that was in response to people who thought everything foreign was better -- foreign cars, foreign electronics, even foreign bottled water.

And those people who loved everything foreign were whom? The same "progressive" demographic that now is infatuated with everything "local."

Go figure.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mixing = Desegregation

I spotted a bumper sticker today that read:

"The last time we mixed politics and religion, we burned people at the stake."

Huh? What exactly is the point the person is trying to make? My suspicion is that it's supposed to be some sort of statement against conservative people with religious beliefs.

But how long has it been since people have been burned at the stake? (At least in the Euro-centric Western world?) It's been hundreds of years, hasn't it? Surely people have mixed politics and religion since then.

Like, for instance, in the 1950s and 1960s. In something known as the Civit Rights Movement. With lots of participation by religious types and their churches. And religious leaders. Even a minister who now has a federal holiday in his honor.

Does the owner of that car wants to bring back segregation?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Getting Railroaded

A Pioneer Press story this past week says streetcars could be in our future. Never mind that the Twin Cities scrapped its streetcar system in the 1950s in favor of modern buses -- which was seen at the time as "progress" -- the "progressives" among us now want to get rid of buses and go back to streetcars.

But it's a really odd story. I sure wish the reporter had used a little more of his journalistic skepticism.

For instance, notice how they are selling trolleys based on a comparison to how much less expensive it is than light rail. That's sort of like trying to sell a BMW and pointing out how it's so much more affordable than a Lamborghini, when all the customer needs (and can afford) is a Chevy! Why don't they compare the cost of the streetcars to the cost of buses?

And then notice when the story describes what a streetcar is, it pretty much describes a bus!

"Unlike light-rail trains, streetcars, roughly the size of buses, travel on the street in traffic lanes. The tracks they ride on are flush with the pavement, allowing cars to drive the same surface."

So why would streetcars be an improvement over buses? Especially considering the cost of building a streetcar system from scratch. . . again.

Proponents talk about "rail bias." They say more people will ride the train than the bus. People just prefer the trains, they say. But that's a ridiculous reason to spend hundreds of millions of dollars. And since when do activists from the political left just go along with biases? They're all about re-educating people and overcoming biases. But here they're saying, "Oh well, people like trains better than buses. Whatcha gonna do? We'll have to give them trains." Do they ever say, 'Oh well, people like private cars better than public transportation. We'll have to give them more roads instead of public transportation." No, of course not. Then they are all about overcoming people's "biases" toward cars and accomplishing behavior modification.

Sure, "the train" and its dedicated track seem simple and easy to use. But that's because there is only one train right now. People always know where it's going. Downtown to the ball game. Or back to the park-and-ride. What about when there are trains and trolleys all over the place? Catching the right trolley will be just as confusing as catching the right bus is now (at least for people who think catching a bus is confusing).

Right now our light rail train is a novelty. It's "sexy." But it's sort of like a new euphamism. We're always coming up with a new name for something with a negative connotation. But after a time, the new name gets just as negative a connotation as the old one. Light rail is like that. Ooh! It's "light rail," not "the bus!" Given time, it will just be another form of public transportation known for all the negatives that people don't like about the bus.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ms.-ing in Action

Have you noticed how some female political candidates like to go by their first names? Their campaign signs read "Vote Betty" or "Vote Margaret."

Does that strike you as a little odd? It does me. Weren't we ignorant males taught during the Gender Wars that women were supposed to be treated exactly like men? And doesn't it seem like there was a time when referring to a professional female by her first name instead of by her last name would have brought on an attack of righteous indignation from the militant feminists, who would have said you were being condescending,treating the woman like a child and not giving her proper respect -- LIKE YOU WOULD A MAN ?

So if women now feel free to decide for themselves to run as "Betty" or "Margaret" maybe that's a Ray of Hope that we've moved beyond some of the ridiculous aspects of the Gender Wars. Now a woman can decide for herself how she wants to be known and no man -- and no other woman -- is going to tell her what to do.

This goes along with another unscientific observation: that young women seem more likely to be wearing dresses these days, just because they want to wear dresses. They don't "have to" wear dresses because of "some outdated male-dominated cultural expectations," but they also reject the feminist call for them NOT to wear dresses, because doing so makes them "unequal" to men. No man tells them what to do, nor does some pant-suited feminist. They are their own woman.

If this is a trend that indicates we might have moved into a post-feminist age, then I think it's a Ray of Hope.

(Come to think of it, I've also been noticing a lot more high heels, a trend I don't mind at all. Sorry, I'll go back and lie down by my trough.)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Boyfriends Don't Kill Children; Moms Do

I know I've written in the past about how disgusted I am to continue reading news stories about children who have been beaten, raped, or even murdered by ... "mom's boyfriend." I believe I've even questioned whether "mom" should even have a "boyfriend."

Most recently I was reading about the case of Angela Tschida, a 14-year-old who ran away to New Mexico to be with her "boyfriend," Alexius McMullin, a 35-year-old registered sex offender. How did this girl get to know this perverted creep? The Pioneer Press reported:

"McMullin met Angela last year when he was the boyfriend of her mother, Brigette Tschida. McMullin and Tschida broke up in the fall, but allegedly McMullin stayed in contact with Angela."

I thought, Way to go, Mom. Way to bring a dangerous element into your home to threaten your daughter.

And then I thought, we hear all the time from the people concerned that if someone has a gun in the home, children might accidentally be hurt or killed with the gun. And that's a genuine concern. Guns must be taken care of responsibly.

Yet, I never hear anything from the same people warning women with children not to bring dangerous men into their homes. Over and over I read about the "boyfriend" who beat or killed or raped the child. And so often, it's a "live-in" boyfriend, whom the mom has invited into her home and then actually chosen to leave in charge of her child's care. (Because he's a deadbeat, she has a job, and she's not only sleeping with him, she's supporting him. Why do women want anything to do with such losers?)

So, my question is whether it's any less dangerous to invite these dangerous men into your home than it is to leave a loaded gun around for the children to play with? You know what? I don't have any statistics, but just from reading the paper every day, I'd guess more children are harmed by "mom's boyfriend" than by firearms in the home.

So where's the outrage?

Is it simply that we don't want to "impose our own morality" and "judge" mom's personal life?

If so, that's nuts. Hey, "mom," go ahead and be a slut if you want. That's your business. But when you are putting your child in grave danger, doesn't something need to be done?

Now I'm really getting steamed. Hell, we PASS LAWS saying you can't smoke around your children because it's bad for them! Yet we can't even speak up and point out to mothers that their sleeping arrangements might be a threat to their own children?

I'm not saying no single mom should ever have a boyfriend. Sometimes "mom's boyfriend" becomes a great step-dad or even a great, legal "father." But it's obvious from reading the paper that too many women don't get it. The way they pick and entertain their men is akin to leaving a loaded gun on the coffee table.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Another New and "Progressive Idea" -- Recycling Trees!

It's truly a strange world we live in. A recent Pioneer Press story about Eagan's new fire hall proclaimed that the building will be "green." That's the "progressive" buzzword now. But what exactly is "green" about it?

I quote:

"Energy-efficient features include a white solar-reflective roof, geothermal heating and cooling, low-impact plant landscaping and interior wood planking made from recycled trees. . ."

How about that. Now they've even figured out a way to recycle trees so we don't have to just throw them away.

Wait a minute..... building stuff with "recycled trees" -- didn't that used to be called. . . "lumber"??

Now, it did go on to say that the trees being "recycled" were trees being cut down on the site of the new fire station and elsewhere in the city, but still, does it really matter whether the fire station used lumber from within the city? Or whether the trees from Eagan were made use of within the city limits? Trees are very useful. Humans have known as much since before recorded history.

But this story does suggest a whole new spin on history. We used to be told that the evil settlers who cleared the land and built log cabins and split rail fences were engaging in "deforestation" of their Mother the Earth. Now, it turns out they were just "recyling" trees. Old Abe Lincoln was "green" and he didn't even know it!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

You Bought It, Now Take Care of It

Sometimes thoughts come from the darnedest places. I was reading a "Dear Abby" column (July 6) where people had written with their ideas on how to re-use items rather than throwing them away. This seems to be a trendy, "new" and "progressive" idea these days, even though it's what Grandma and Grandpa did. Regardless, I think re-using instead of throwing is a good idea. I'm on board. Always have been, even when it wasn't trendy. I was frugal when being frugal wasn't cool.

But enough about me. "Rosie W. in Denver" offered this:

"Perfectly good items should never go to a landfill. There is always someone who can use whatever it is as long as it's in good condition (and sometimes even when it's not). It's the responsibility of the consumer to find that someone."

Wow, I thought, that's a pretty fundamentalist approach: You bought it, now deal with it. No shirking your responsibility. You had your fun, now it's time to pay up. No throwing it away just because that's the most convenient option for you.

Well, I pretty much forgot about that, but a little later I was reading another paper that had some letters about abortion. And it hit me.

Wasn't there a lot in common between the two issues?

For both Rosie W. and pro-lifers, the issue is: You got yourself into this, now you're responsible for seeing it through. No taking the easy way out. Maybe it seemed like a good idea at the time and now you regret it, but it's too late. You're stuck with this unless you can find someone to take it off of your hands.

It's pretty easy to adapt Rosie W.'s comments:

"Perfectly good [babies] should never [be killed]. There is always someone who can [love and raise the baby] as long as it's in good condition (and sometimes even when it's not). It's the responsibility of the [parents] to find that someone."

While I won't claim to know Rosie W.'s thoughts on abortion, the great irony here is that the "progressive" group of people most likely to embrace Rosie's fundamentalist message about not throwing things away (and enforce it by law) are also the ones most likely to embrace abortion. As we see more and more laws passed telling us what we can eat, and drive, and give our children, etc., etc., notice how the "progressive" people advocating all of these new nanny state laws have no concern for "choice" or people being able to decide what they can do with their own bodies. (And don't forget smoking.)

I call it the New Puritanism. Many on the left think they can bring about their perfect world by regulating what everyone else does. It has a very moral component to it. Even a religious component in their worship of the planet.

It's not a scarlet "A" or a burqha, but is it really so different?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Don't Blame Me, I'm Re-writing History

I try to avoid debating politics at family gatherings, so I kept my mouth shut. But I thought this was worth sharing.

Some of my elders were talking politics, and I heard one say, "I see George Will came out against the war in Afghanistan."

Another, known to be an outspoken liberal, said "Where was he a couple of years ago when Bush was building up the war?"

Wait a minute! If we go back "a couple of years" what do we find? We find Barack Obama running against George Bush (who is not running) by complaining that Bush has not done enough in Afghanistan. Bush has been wasting resources in Iraq, while the real (and "good") war is in Afghanistan, Obama says. When he's president, he vows he'll send more troops to Afghanistan.

Which he has done. Just like he told the voters he would. And they elected him.

And now two years later, we have liberals complaining about Afghanistan and blaming it on Bush.

And... I TOLD YOU SO!!! I told you that saying the real war was in Afghanistan and Bush was neglecting it was just an excuse to let liberals cover their butts while they complained about Iraq. And I said that as soon as Iraq was settled down, they'd start complaining about Afghanistan.

OK, give me a few minutes and I'll find it.

Here's the oldest one I found, October 19, 2005.

August 10, 2006.

September 8, 2006.

July 1, 2008.

January 19, 2009.

July 22, 2009.

And they're not just flip-flopping, they're trying to re-write history and blame Bush for a war that they originally blamed him for NOT committing more troops to.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Pay No Attention to the Anarchy and Terrorism Next Door

More elections and violence in Iraq. Today's paper had a photo of a voter getting his or her thumb inked, and the accompanying story talked about candidates being assassinated, 23,000 people killed, and four bodies found hanging from bridges Sunday morning.

Oh, wait, this story isn't from Iraq. Then what backward, uncivilized country halfway around the globe does it come from?

Mexico. Where the drug cartels are showing they can disrupt a country through violence and murder just as well as any Islamic terror group.

Shouldn't we be paying some more attention to this?

Shouldn't we be worried?

Considering the porousness of the border, how long before people are hanging from bridges in Texas or Arizona?

Sure, I know MOST of the people sneaking across the border are honest, harworking people who just want a better life. But if it's so easy for a nobody with nothing to sneak across, how tough can it be for organized drug cartel criminals with money, firepower, and connections?

Which reminds me of something else. Arizona has come under fire from people in other states who don't like the law Arizona has passed in an attempt to control illegal immigrants. Other states are boycotting Arizona, saying they won't send their people to any conventions being held in Arizona.

But why don't we have such inter-state spats over other issue where states have their differences? For example, some states don't have a state income tax. States that do could boycott those states on grounds that it's unjust not to make the wealthy pay their fair share. Or how about same-sex marriages? States that don't allow it could boycott states that do -- or vice-versa. But I don't hear of such boycotts over that issue.

And here's one more example: Nevada is the only state with legal prostitution. Some states could boycott Nevada because of this affront to traditional morals, while other states could boycott Nevada because prostitution is an archaic, misogynistic practice that exploits women and treats them like objects. But again, I never hear of such boycotts.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Homeless in Different Worlds

As I've said many times, a big reason we continue to find ourselves "polarized" is that people see completely different Americas. Here's another example, and that it involves a journalist from the mainstream media also speaks to the existence of, yes, media bias. It's a newspaper story by Tony Pugh of McClatchy Newspapers. The subject is federal efforts to fight homelessness. The enlighening sentence is Pugh's concluding statement:

"With most homeless shelters at capacity, many homeless families are moving in -- or 'doubling up' -- with friends and relatives in overcrowded households."

What's wrong with that sentence? It shows that the reporter thinks moving in with friends or relatives is a sort of desperate "last resort" that comes only if there is not room at the (likely government-sponsored) shelter.

That's not how I see the world. I see the shelter as the last resort. Were I lacking a place to sleep, I'd certainly turn to friends and relatives before I'd head to a shelter! And in fact, I wouldn't even consider myself "homeless" if I had someone to take me in. I'd be down on my luck, but if I was living in the home of someone who cared about me, I certainly wouldn't be "homeless."

But presumably, there are others who think like the reporter. And the reporter clearly throws them his support.

What the unbiased, professional reporter doesn't reocgnize is that other Americans think like me. He appears totally oblivious to the fact that not everyone shares his view of the world -- the view we identify with, yes, "the left."

That's the liberal bias in the mainstream media right there.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Quit Playing Games and Solve the Problems

The oil spill disaster in the Gulf has shown me again how much I hate the state of politics. Our supposed leaders -- with the help of their media enablers (and yes, I will "blame the messenger," when the messenger is the one who decides which messages to deliver) -- just love to ignore the problem and try to score political points against their enemies.

Why do we let the "news" become which politician, said what, that might be construed as sympathetic to BP? The "problem" or "scandal" isn't what someone said, it's all the crude oil polluting the Gulf!

And I'm also reminded again that the Left and the Right really aren't much different. They take turns acting the same on different issues. In this case, President Obama decides what this country needs is a good lynchin', so he takes after BP. Some foolish Republican says, "Wait a minute, we have something called 'the rule of law.'" What? Someone dared defend the foreign evildoer? That's un-American!

Sound familiar? Like when anyone who dared to stand up to the Red-baiting of McCarthyism was "un-American"? Or when anyone who questioned the (Republican-led) White House's response to 9-11 was called "un-American"?

Yeah, same deal. The players have just switched uniforms.

Today I hear a judge has blocked President Obama's moratorium on off-shore oil drilling. The oil men had argued that just because one platform explodes doesn't mean all the other ones are unsafe.

Kind of like, just because 19 Muslims fly airplanes into skyscrapers doesn't mean all Muslims should be kept off of airplanes. That would be profiling!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

It's a Small and Knarvelous World

Six years ago when I launched Downing World, I posted a piece I had written the year before about my search for meaning in the word "knarvel." You can read it here. I grew up hearing the word and wondered if it was a "real" word and where it came from. Thanks to the magic of "the Google," I learned that it's a word still known to older people in a certain part of Sweden.

Well, this past February, I heard from a Swedish blogger named Christina who had also taken an interest in the word. Her search found my piece, and she emailed me. Here's her original post about "knarvel": She writes in Swedish, of course, but you should be able to use a Google translation tool found down the right hand side.

I wrote back, and she posted my reply:

Finally, my brother Dan, who is now fourth-generation owner of the Downing farm here in Minnesota (great-grandfather Richard Downing came from England in 1906, but his son Russell married Swedish-American Edna Lindstrom) went around the farm taking photos of various knarvels. He sent those photos off to Christina, and she posted them on her blog.

Some of the comments left by Christina's readers are really interesting. One seemed concerned that I wrote fondly of Ronald Reagan, but mostly they expressed their enjoyment at participating in this trans-Atlantic exchange about a silly little word for a silly (but useful) little object.

Here's another example of "It's a small world after all." This happened just yesterday.

I was listening to BBC Radio Cornwall over the Internet. I do that once in a while and find it interesting because I visited Cornwall (southwestern tip of England) back in 2005. (Great-grandfather Richard Downing came from Cornwall.) It's fun to hear what's going on there, and hear about traffic jams and other goings-on in towns I visited.

Anyway, one thing was they had a bluegrass band in the studio playing some tunes live. American-style music, banjo and all. Playing "I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5! Bluegrass style!

Okay, that was pretty weird. Good, but weird. But then, when they went back to recorded music, they played "Fireflies" by Owl City. For those who don't know, Owl City is basically a teenager from the small town of Owatonna, Minnesota, and he recorded this song in his parents' basement.

So now here I was, listening to a live radio broadcast from across the Atlantic Ocean, and they were playing a song by a Minnesota teenager, recorded maybe 40 miles from where I was sitting.

Now if that ain't a small world, what is?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

What I've Been Up To

I haven't been writing lately because I've just been too busy. When you're underemployed, as I was when I launched Downing World, it's easy to find time to sit and write for no pay. But fortunately, I've become more busy since then.

I started a new, full-time job Feb. 1. I didn't want to mention it right away because I wanted to see how things went. But now I'll tell you what I'm doing. I'm a sales rep for Sign-A-Rama signs of St. Paul. I do outside sales, so I get to drive around and go new places and meet new people. I like that. What I don't like so much is that the pay is based mostly on what I sell, and I was pretty much starting from scratch. But things have been picking up for me. I've got some new accounts for the shop that I hope will continue to bring us repeat business.

Sign-A-Rama offers all sorts of signs and graphics -- banners, yard signs, big signs on buildings, illuminated signs, banners, directory signs, plaques, banners, and even vehicle graphics. We are at University and Prior in St. Paul, kitty-korner from the Menards store. You can call me there at 651-649-0675.

I'm also continuing to do some freelance work, so life is very busy.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Protect us from ourselves

This past Sunday's "Real World Economics" column by Ed Lotterman got me thinking. In the wake of recent mining disasters, Ed was writing about the trade-offs involved in having the government set safety regulations.

Of particular interest was what he wrote about the history of economic thought when it comes to regulation of dangerous jobs. Ed wrote about the school of thought that market forces will regulate safety. For instance, rational people wouldn't take jobs that weren't safe and, employers would have to pay more for jobs that were dangerous. Therefore, employers would work to make the workplace as safe as possible, so that they wouldn't have to pay higher wages. It was in their interest to keep the workers safe.

I think that's right. In theory. Yes, "in theory," those two little words that shoot the whole thing to heck.

You know what the problem is? People aren't very smart. Or maybe it's not that. Maybe it's just that people make really bad decisions, even though they know they are bad decisions. After all, people are just human.

Way too often, we need to be protected from ourselves and our own bad decisions.

When cell phone use started to become widespread, we started to hear calls for banning the use of phones while driving. My reaction? "We don't need another law to enforce common sense. Yes, I agree that people shouldn't use their phones while driving. But do we really need a law?"

Several years -- and several near misses with people who were trying to drive while they were talking or texting -- later, I've changed my tune. Now I'm thinking, Let's just have a ban. That will put an end to it. We won't be expected to answer calls or return calls while driving -- at all. So we won't have to decide whether a call is so "important" that we have to take it or make it. And we'll survive. Just like we survived all those years before cell phones.

But I also thought of another area where we have "deregulated," and that is in the area of social conventions. We have tossed out many of the old expectations about marriage and parenthood. "We don't need outdated rules to tell us how to live," people said. "Each individual can decide for himself or herself what is the best thing to do."

Sounds great. In theory.

But how does it work out? Fine in some cases. But disastrously in others. I'm thinking of the epidemic of children growing up without proper parental support. Born out-of-wedlock and never knowing a father. Being raised in a broken home. Women struggling to support themselves and children without male support. These are some of the damages we've accepted as a trade-off in our bargain.

That raises the issue of just who is it that is being protected? In the case of miners, we could say it's the miners taking risks with their own lives, so let them. But that ignores the traditional problem of widows and orphans, who not only suffer themselves, but also are a burden on society as a whole.

When it comes to texting or phoning while driving, it's clear that the offending driver puts himself at risk, but also risks the lives of others -- people who have not chosen to take the risk, but may die anyway.

With the example of the social "deregulation," it's clear to me that once again it's the children who suffer the worst damages. Ironic, since my observation is that the same strain of voters who call for more regulation in the workplace are so often the ones calling for less conformity to traditional values regarding marriage and family.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Snapshot of the President in Black and. . . ?

It never occured to me to wonder about what President Obama marked on his census form, but someone cared enough to check into it. And apparently, what that reporter cares about the most is race, because that was the topic of the news story I saw: What did our mixed race president mark for his race on his census form?

Well, that should be obvious. He marked "mixed race" or "other" or something that appropriately reflected the fact that his father was African and his mother a Euro-American.

So what a surprise that instead he marked "white"! Can you believe that? He totally ignored half his heritage and simply called himself "white"! Oh, boy, is there ever going to be an uproar over this!

Oh, wait a minute. I might have gotten it wrong. Oh, sorry, actually, he marked himself "black," totally ignoring his mother's side of the family, and their centuries of American citizenship. He chose to toss that out and recognize just his Kenyan father.

Oh, so I guess that's OK, then.

Never mind. There'll be no uproar.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Whole Truth - Not Just One Piece of the Pie

People who are only looking out for our best interests -- in this case the Food and Drug Administration, led by First Lady Michelle Obama -- have decided to crack down on what they say are misleading claims on food packages.

For instance, one particular frozen pie boasts on the front of the box that it has zero trans fat.

And that is true.

But what the front of the box doesn't say is that one slice of the pie contains 45 percent of a person's recommended daily intake of saturated fat.

So the manufacturer isn't lying. They are telling the truth. They just aren't telling the whole truth.

Well, if that's the new standard for Washington types -- the WHOLE truth, so be it. But don't they have any mirrors in the nation's capital?

Here's what I'd like to see: politicians who only tell us the WHOLE truth. No more just getting away without overt lies. Tell the whole truth. Tell us the great things your bill will do, but neglect to tell us the cost? Not good enough.

Do you think the lawmakers and rule givers would ever consent to live by the same standard they wish to impose on food companies?

Some lawmaker might propose a bill purporting to do just that, but you can be sure of one thing: they won't be telling the whole truth.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Polar Bear, We Hardly Knew Ye

Recently I saw a news item about polar bears. No, actually, it was NOT about how the polar bears are drowning because of Al Gore's SUVs and private jets.

Rather, it was a story that said scientists have determined that polar bears evolved from other bears very recently, in the evolutionary scheme of things.

What's the significance? I find it fascinating when put up against the way that polar bears are literally a poster child for the global warming faith. Consider how evolution would explain the existence of the polar bear. According to the evolutionary way of thinking, the polar bear evolved with its special adaptations to live in an Arctic climate. Why was there a need for the bears to evolve? Apparently, the climate was changing and the bears' habitat was getting colder.

And, the scientists now say, this all happened about last week, in the evolutionary time frame.

But now we are worried because polar bears are threatened as their habitat again changes, becoming warmer -- maybe simply returning to the way it used to be last week, back before the polar bears evolved from other bears.

There is concern that polar bears will become extinct. But maybe we're looking at it wrong. Maybe there are no polar bears. There are just bears. And when necessary, some bears become adapted to a colder habitat. If the habitat warms, there will be fewer of those bears, and more of the "other" bears. And when the climate cools again, we'll get more "polar" bears. Isn't that consistent with evolutionary science?

I think I've written before that it's really creationists who should be the ones concerned about extinctions and "climate change." I mean, if you believe that the Earth and everything on it were made in their present state by God and everything is "supposed" to be a certain way, then you should be worried about messing up God's plan and killing off some of His creations or messing up His climate. (Except that if God wants it a certain way, we're powerless to mess up His plans.) But if you think everything evolved by chance out of nothing over billions of years, well, then, who's to say that there are even "supposed" to be polar bears? Or what the climate is "supposed" to be?

The polar bear -- held up as the emblem of dreaded climate change -- is itself a fairly recent creation of... climate change (At least according to science, and there's nothing global warmists trust more than science.). Isn't there some irony here? The polar bear itself seems to be evidence that climate change is natural and inevitable.

Easy come, easy go, Mr. Bear.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Prepare to Assimilate Yourselves

Even if you're not a big Star Trek fan, you may be familiar with the Borg. They're an alien race -- though not really a race of their own. How they "reproduce" is to capture other beings and transform them into new Borg, by means of mechanical and cyber implants. When "resistance is futile" and the Borg are about to take their new captives, they announce, "Prepare to be assimilated."

What TV viewers immediately noticed about the Borg was the strange outward appearance of these new man/machine creatures. But that was only a superficial aspect of the Borg. What's really amazing, is that they all have their minds linked into one "hive" consciousness.

At one point, a human/Borg is recaptured by the Enterprise, whose crew sets out to "rescue" her by removing her Borg-ness and returning her humanity. But while the ship's doctor can easily enough remove the implants from her body, her return to humanity is far from easy. Cut off from "the collective mind," it is as though she suffers anxiety attacks. She feels frightened. Cut-off. All alone.

I thought about the fictional Borg the other day when I noticed a human sporting a prominent communications device affixed to her head. But my first thoughts were superficial. Yes, this person was augmenting herself with the attachment of a device. Her appearance reminded me of the Borg. But did it go deeper than just outward appearances?

Many people these days seem dependent on being constantly connected. Cell phone. E-mail. Facebook. They must be constantly in touch about the most inconsequential minutia. People feel anxious and cut-off if they aren't constantly part of their "hive." Some people appear to exhibit withdrawal symptoms if they can't regularly check their electronic devices.

I just saw another example. I started this post, went to a movie, and just got back. On the sidewalk on the way to the theater, I saw a father and child coming out from the previous movie. He was paying no attention to the child, and had his head down, studying his device. Okay, maybe he's a world-famous brain surgeon and he was involved in a life-saving correspondence, but that's not likely. So I have to ask, what terribly important things were transpiring in his world while he was in a movie theater for two hours during the middle of a Saturday? Were there really issues that demanded his immediate attention?

I very much doubt it. Anything he was engrossed in was likely trivial. But he was letting it be more important than devoting his attention to his child.

We are Borging ourselves

I wonder, when the creators of the Star Trek universe created the Borg 20 years or more ago, did they have something like this in mind? Were they predicting where we were heading? Were the Borg intended to be like Dr. Frankenstein's monster -- a cautionary tale of the dangers of science and technology? Or did the writers merely conceive of the the Borg and the loss of individuality and privacy as a great imaginary nightmare? Something so terrifying that we would never want it to happen -- and thus never let it happen.

If so, the joke's on them, because we seem to be moving in that direction very willingly.

We're assimilating ourselves.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Belief First, Science Second

I've thought for a long time that the global warmists are adherents of a religion, and as time passes, I just see more and more evidence of it. They mock those who don't "believe." When science gets in the way of their beliefs, they're suddenly able to dismiss the facts. What matters is that they are true believers, and as such, they believe that we face the eternal fires of earthly damnation if we don't repent and change our ways.

That belief is all important. It comes first. Then, science must be used to support the pre-existing belief.

"Climate science" reminds me an awfully lot of "creation science."

First, let me say that I believe the universe has a heavenly Creator God. I've analyzed the arguments otherwise, and frankly, I just don't have enough faith to be an atheist. That everything came from nothing in some sort of miraculous (!) confluence of randomness and coincidence is just too wild of a yarn for me to swallow.

So, I believe the Bible when it tells us that God made the Universe. The Bible is true. Yet, I think perhaps the Bible is -- how can I say it? -- perhaps not a complete and fully-detailed account of how God did that. I think there's more to the story. Details have been left out.

Yet there are those who wish to believe that the Bible can be used as a complete history of the world and as a science textbook. Some of them, in an attempt to prove that point of view, engage in what is called "creation science" -- an attempt to reconcile the literal Bible and contemporary science. I used to cheer for this group, thinking that they were on the right track and would be vindicated. But that was years ago, when I was quite young. The trouble is, they tend to cherry pick their science. They'll point to something that might be used to support their case, but ignore 10 things that contradict it.

And that's exactly what I see happening with the "climate science" people. They have chosen their true belief, and they are intent on using science in only one way -- to support their claims and their evangelical zeal.

Does science contradict their position? No matter. Just ignore it. (And label anyone who won't a "heretic" or a "non-believer.") Pay no attention to the fact that the glaciers aren't melting. Pay no attention to the record cold snaps. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

And pay no attention to the fossil record. Oops, that would apply to the creation scientists.

But you can see where it gets hard to tell the two apart.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

You've Come a Long Way, Baby. Now Can I Have Some Cash?

I don't have pay TV, but I'd heard a lot about the AMC show "Mad Men" and wanted to see it. I was fortunate enough to get it on DVD for Christmas, and recently I watched the first three episodes.

The setting is a Madison Avenue advertising agency in 1960. One of the things the show is known for is how politically incorrect it is -- at least by 2010 standards. Perhaps most shockingly, everybody smokes. Even the "good guys"! (Wait, I'm actually not sure at this point if there are any "good guys.") Almost as shocking as people smoking is the way the "girls" in the office are treated. They seem to be there for the pleasure and convenience of the male executives. But oddly enough, the "girls" don't seem to mind. In fact, a career goal appears to be landing an executive so a girl can quit her job in favor of housekeeping and child-rearing.

Though the differences between then and now are really played up and probably exaggerated for effect, we're supposed to always be thinking: "How things have changed!" And they have.

But just how much, exactly?

I'm thinking today of all the young women who are living with their boyfriends. The guy gets someone to sleep with and, most likely, someone to keep house for him. In exchange, he . . . um. . . what? He doesn't even have to make a commitment. Wasn't that part of the obsolete, old-fashioned system? A man made a legally-binding commitment to a woman (and to her children)?

I thought the women's movement demanded more for women and more from men. How's that workin' out, sister?

I look around, and I see men getting all the benefits of marriage, without the "cost." They don't have to give anything up, and their women still give them everything they want. In addition, it's becoming increasingly common for the woman in a couple to earn more money than the man. So, women are bringing home the bacon, frying it up in the pan, doing the dishes, and then serving up a little "dessert," all for a man who doesn't even care enough to marry them.

Is this progress?

They used to tell the girls, "Why will he buy the cow if he can get the milk for free?" That advice seems to have been forgotten. These days, women are giving away the milk for free, then they're cleaning the barn, baling the hay, and doing the chores.

Sometimes I'll hear some woman lamenting that the man she lives with won't make a commitment and marry her. I just shake my head.

Why should he?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"New to You" Doesn't Do

According to a recently-released poll which has been widely reported, Americans are becoming more isolationist, especially the younger Americans.

That should come as no surprise. It's all about the pendulum. Things go back and forth. Simply put, that's because the world is not perfect and there are no perfect solutions. We try something for awhile and then see that the world still isn't perfect, so then we try something else.

The youngest generation is especially susceptible to this, because everything is new to them. As they become adults, leaving behind the protected and relatively "perfect" and "safe" world of childhood, the realize that the world is not perfect. There are lots of problems. Since they have no sense of history, they reason that the current plan we are following is the reason things aren't perfect. If we change -- it matters not to what -- then things will be better, they think, because they assume that the current plan of action is the cause of the imperfections in the world.

What they don't understand is that the current course of action may in fact be limiting -- as much as possible -- the imperfections in the world. And that a different course of action will eliminate fewer imperfections, making the world an even less perfect place.

And because they usually have no sense of history, they don't realize that many of these alternatives ideas have been tried -- sometimes repeatedly -- with poor results. For example, there were those 20 years ago who thought we should appease and negotiate with Saddam Hussein, with no understanding of how that had worked with Hitler. Now, they think we should appease and negotiate with Iran.

I recently came across this great quote from President Calvin Coolidge which applies well to this topic: "It is characteristic of the unlearned that they are forever proposing something which is old, and because it has recently come to their attention, supposing it to be new."

Monday, January 25, 2010

Bubble? What Bubble?

Obama promised recently that he will "never stop fighting for policies that will help restore home values."

Once again, I'm confused. I thought a huge part of our economic downturn was blamed on the "housing bubble," in which house prices were over-inflated, and evil mortage lenders sold people overly-optimistic mortgages that they couldn't make payments on, eventually ending up in foreclosure.

Why would the president want to intentionally reinflate the bubble?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Government Can't Raise Children; That's the Schools' Job

I recently read an interesting Wall Street Journal piece about orphanages. The author, Richard B. Mckenzie, had been raised in an orphanage, and defended the institutions, citing his own experience, along with statistics he said that show the "orphans" do better than the general population.

Orphanages, though, are passe. They're considered old-fashioned. Inhumane. Draconian. Mckenzie writes:

When Newt Gingrich suggested in 1994 that many welfare kids would be better off in orphanages, Hillary Clinton declared the proposal "unbelievable and absurd." Conventional child-welfare wisdom hasn't changed much since.

Families -- blood or foster -- should raise children, the modern, progressive, liberal mindset says. Not government. Not institutions.

They conveniently ignore the 800-lb. irony in the room. I'm surprised that I hadn't caught it until now.

The same modern, progressive, liberal types who find institutional child-rearing so offensive tend to be the same people who want the public schools to take over more and more of what used to be the responsibilities of parents. After all, the government and professional educators know best. They'll feed the kids breakfast. Teach them about sex and drugs. Teach them values (whose, exactly?). Provide after-school care. Provide summer programs. They want the schools to take over as many parental responsibilities as possible, even when kids have parents!

So, they hold both of these ideas at the same time: 1) An institution called an orphanage couldn't possibly raise children as well as substitute parents. 2) An institution called a public school can raise children better than their actual parents.

How does that compute? It's as though they oppose residential orphanage, but they like "day orphanages."

Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009

It's All About Making a Splash

I've heard people wonder why the latest would-be airplane bomber waited until the plane approached Detroit to try to set off his explosives. It would have been easier in the middle of the flight, over the ocean, they say, when passengers were sleeping and not paying attention.

But that misses the point of terrorism. It's not as though this specific airplane was some sort of tactical target that needed to be destroyed. It's all about getting attention, spreading fear and causing a panic -- making a splash, if you will, which in this case means NOT making a splash in the Atlantic Ocean.

Look at how much attention this event and its perpetrators garnered even though their plan FAILED. TV was ready to make them stars. A failed bombing on approach to Detroit may have gotten them more attention than if they had blown up the plane over the Atlantic. Suppose the plane would have simply disappeared from the sky, only to be discovered as wreckage later. There would have been no fiery TV coverage. No certainty as to what happened. But can you imagine the scene if the plan had succeeded? It would have been all over TV. Plus, there's the extra component that they could strike at the CENTER of the United States, not just the coasts. And that's what terrorism is all about. Spreading the fear that no one is safe.

Monday, December 21, 2009

It's a Package Deal

This is the first paragraph from a letter to the editor in the recent Highland Villager newspaper:

"With the holiday season, I find myself dreaming of an impossible Christmas present: a world without our invasion of Iraq. I envision life for thousands of families no longer caring for an injured loved one and for millions of displaced Iraquis now back in their homes. I dream of Saddam Huessein still in power, gassing more Kurds, conducting more genocide and torture, and committing and more crimes against humanity."

Okay, you got me. I made that up. Well... actually, I made up only the last sentence. The first part was verbatim.

But you can't have the first part without the sentence I added. The would come with it. Sure, it's easy to succumb to invaders' remorse and wish we hadn't ever moved into the neighborhood. The costs have been high. But we can't ignore Saddam.

That's the problem with playing the game of wishing for a "do-over" machine so that we could put things back the way they were: the way things were includes Saddam Hussein. And that's where it falls apart. Because where is Saddam now? That's right, he'd dead. Why is he dead? He was executed? By whom? His own people. Why? For crimes against humanity.

So if you find yourself wishing for an "undo," you're saying you support someone who was so bad that his own people executed him for crimes against humanity, including genocide (with poison gas) and torture. You're saying you want to overrule the Iraqi people, and put them back under Saddam's evil heel.

Is that really the side you want to be on?

I can hear you now: "I don't want Saddam back in power; I just don't want the U.S. to have invaded Iraq."

Sorry, it doesn't work that way. You're either with Saddam, or you're with the invasion. Neither choice is perfect, but I think one is definitely better than the other.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

How About "Reclaiming" Thanksgiving Day?

This past week I read something curious: An opinion piece in the Pioneer Press written by two clergymen and a college professor, in which we are told that churches should "reclaim" Black Friday.

They want us to turn this day of shopping into a day of sharing and, apparently, appreciation for what we have.

What's wrong with this picture? Well, the odd thing is, I'm completely in agreement with their sentiments regardng the vulgarity of "Black Friday" orgy. But I think they themselves are completely missing the basic point. They say congregations should "reclaim Black Friday." How about reclaiming Thanksgiving Day as an actual day of thanks? (After all, the only reason we have this Friday "holiday" is because of Thanksgiving Day.) You can't "reclaim" something that was never yours, and "Black Friday" was not a creation of religion, nor has it ever had any part in religion tradition.

What the seem to be doing is trying to make a secular feast into a religious one, counter to the prevailing trend, which has been for us to let the secular destroy the religious significance of our holidays.

Thanksgiving Day is a religiously significant holiday. After all, to whom are you giving thanks? The turkey? The federal government? No, to the Creator.

But we've been doing a really bad job of observing Thanksgiving Day and actually taking time to be thankful. Maybe if we paused to be thankful, we'd realize how ridiculous the whole "Black Friday" thing is in the first place. But instead, Thanksgiving Day, by my observation, has become about gluttony (not that there's anything wrong with that ­ once a year!), with the rest of the day consumed by studying ads from the year's thickest newspaper bundle, and making plans for acquiring even more stuff. Meanwhile, the TV is on with the Thanksgiving Day football games, blaring ads for all the things that we must have/give so that our lives won't be meaningless. It's all secular and materialistic. Completely the opposite of what it should be. Thanksgiving Day above all others should be a day when we appreciate what we have and ask for nothing more.

But why relax, feel blessed and give thanks when you can feel inadequate and feed your anxiety? Maybe we should just be honest, and change the 4th Thursday in November to "Coveting Day." That's what it seems like. The Friday after I have personally renamed "Thorstein Veblen Day" in honor of the Minnesota economist who coined the term "conspicuous consumption."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tonight We're Gonna Party Like It's . . . September, 2001

The President's speech tonight sounded an awfully lot like a speech that could have been given -- heck, was given -- eight years ago. With one notable exception: President Bush didn't repeatedly tell us "It's not my fault." (Boy, can this guy pass the buck and the blame.)

So, what it comes down to is Obama's making a commitment to fight the War on Terror. Well, a less-than-two-year "commitment." He says the troops will leave Afghanistan by August 2011. How does he know that the mission will have been accomplished by then? And does it matter? Or will he just set up a stage for his "victory" speech, and for a backdrop he'll just hang a banner between those fancy Greek columns. The banner, of course, will read: "Mission Accomplished."

Meet the new boss; same as the old boss.

Obama is fast learning that it's a lot easier to run against the president than it is to be the president.

Friday, November 27, 2009

400 Years and They Still Don't Get It

You've got to read this column by Bloomberg News columnist Caroline Baum. She tells how the Pilgrims finally quit starving when they got rid of their Utopian communal agriculture notions and made everyone responsible for themselves. And this isn't just her interpretation; she backs it up with the words of the Plymouth Colony's governor, William Bradford.

Why do people still not get it? Collectivist Soviet agriculture was a disaster. In 2009, many Americans continue to call for a socialist states of America. But it just doesn't work.

I'm a firm believer in capitalism and free markets -- they bring about the greatest good for the greatest number.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Black Man Can Be President...

During a Thanksgiving Day football game on TV, I saw some sort of PSA or promo that began with New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, in very slow motion, throwing a pass. Then, very slowly, into the screen came the intended receiver, President Barack Obama.

Isn't that a stereotype? A black man can be president, but he still can't be the quarterback! (Even when he's the nation's play-caller.) He's got to be the wide receiver. Got to have black guys for those positions that require speed and jumping ability, right? But the guy who's in charge and has to "think"? That's got to be the white guy!

Made me laugh.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Where Are the Critics Now?

Since all those experts who spent most of eight years criticizing everything the previous administration did have suddenly gone silent, I guess it's up to me to ask some questions:

- If they all hated us because of Bush, and the world loves Obama, why is Islamic terrorism only spreading? And why is it threatening to take over Pakistan -- an Islamic country?

- Why didn't Obama "connect the dots" to prevent the Fort Hood slaughter? (And has anyone else pointed out how heinous this crime was not just because he is an American citizen, not just because he is a soldier who has sworn an oath, but because he is a DOCTOR?! What happened to being a healer and "first, do no harm"?)

- Where's the H1N1 flu vaccine? Why wasn't Obama prepared for this emeregency?

- We heard criticism that Bush took too much vacation. What's with all this golfing by the First Duffer? It's been reported that he's already golfed more than Bush did.

- But there wasn't time to go to Berlin for the 20 year anniversary of the fall of the Wall. What an insult to the rest of the world. (Guess he was tired after flying to Europe to lobby for Chicago to get the Olympics. That must have been more important.)

- If it was O.K. to "rush to judgement" about a "stupid" white cop, why isn't it O.K. when it's a murderous Muslim doctor?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Who Would Mohammed Torture?

Today I spotted a bumper sticker reading, "Who Would Jesus Torture?" It's mate must have fallen off. You know, the bumper sticker reading,"Who Would Jesus Abort?"

No, you got me. I've never actually seen that one. That's because the person who asks "who" (shouldn't it be "whom"?) Jesus would torture is generally a person who thinks abortion is just dandy. And that person, in fact, doesn't actually care what Jesus thinks. She just thinks that people who do believe in Jesus must be evil people who love torture. After all, anyone who isn't just like her must be her complete polar opposite, and a stupid, evil person. (That's what passes for diversity in many narrow and intolerant "liberal" minds.)

This is one of those "have you stopped beating your wife yet?" things. It implies that Christians (aka Republicans) support torture. Who says that's the case? Jesus, of course, would not torture anyone. A more interesting questions might be: "Who would Mohammed torture?" You might come up with a very different answer.

Monday, November 2, 2009

No. No way. Never.

Those would be my three choices on the ballot question of "instant runoff voting" in tomorrow's St. Paul election. This is a terrible idea.

The idea would eliminate primaries in future city elections, so that however many kooky candidates there were were all on the general election ballot. Voters would rank the candidates in order of preference. If no one got more than 50 percent of the vote initially, the last place candidate would be eliminated, and the votes of the people who voted for him/her would be reassigned to other candidates according to those voters' second choices. If still no one had more than 50 percent, the process would continue until someone did.

Now, there's some logic to this, but only if voters get to rank ALL the candidates. In that instance, it would be sort of like having the primary and general election all in one. Proponents also like to say that it ensures that someone gets the eventual support of a true majority. But that's not the way it's always done. It's not the way they will be doing it in Minneapolis tomorrow. In Minneapolis, voters will get to rank only their top three choices for mayor, out of something like 10 or 12 candidates. What if all three of your choices end up at the bottom? There's a chance you would end with no vote at all! That's right, the winner will get a majority, but not necessarily a majority of ALL voters, just a majority of the voters who are still left in the game because at least one of their three choices is still in play. (How many choices St. Paul voters would get in future elections if this passes isn't even certain. The ballot question is too general, and would leave the details up to the city council.)

A supporter wrote a letter to the editor that claimed instant runoff voting is like going to the ice cream store with a list of your 12 favorite flavors and being assured of getting one of them. That's totally. I propose, instead, a soup shop analogy:

You go into the soup shop with a list of 3 soups you would like. The proprietor looks it over. "Beef Barley. NO! Chicken Noodle. NO!"

Well, you got one left, right? You're sure to get something for lunch, right?

The proprietor studies your list. Finally, he looks you in the eye and says:

"Clam Chowder? HA! NO SOUP FOR YOU!"

Yes, with IRV we'd be creating the VOTE NAZI! NO VOTE FOR YOU!!!!!!

Yes, people are going to be DISENFRANCHISED. (And the left-wingers who popularized that word are the ones behind this. Does that make any sense?)

This whole thing seems to be about making sure that a wacky leftie like Ralph Nader can't ruin things for mainstream Democrats, like they say happened to Al Gore in 2000. But they forget something else. Remember all the complaints about how the Florida ballots were confusing, and some people voted for Pat Buchanan when they meant to vote for Al Gore? (I showed the ballot, printed in the newspaper, to my then first-grader. She had no trouble with it.) If that was too tough -- if that "disenfranchised confused old people -- how are they ever going to handle ranking multiple selections?

Below is a sample Minneapolis ballot, distributed by IRV proponents to show how "easy" it is. We spent six months recounting the Coleman/Franken election and disputing ballots, and now we are supposed to consider this progrss? They've got to be kidding!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Here's What Obama Should Say to the Nobel Committee

"I will not accept this award. It's obvious to everyone that this is intended as a shot at my predecessor in this office. What you obviously don't understand is that you are really taking a shot at the Office of the President and the United States of America.

"On a personal level, I'm insulted that you apparently think I am so shallow and conceited that I would believe I had earned even a nomination for this award within 12 days of taking office. I refuse to be your happy little puppet, willing to dance while you pull my strings and execute your own personal political vendettas.

"Are you so self-absorbed that you can't see the world around you? Have you forgotten that the forces of evil attacked the United States and killed 3,000 people? Are you unaware that two rogue nations are thumbing their noses at the lovers of peace, launching missiles and trying to develop nuclear warheads?

"Here's what you can do with your award: Give it to Osama bin Laden. That way, he'll have something in common to discuss with Yasser Arafat after the brave men and women of the United States military find him and send him to hell."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Put on Your Coat and Pass the Peace Pipe

I spent the day selling pumpkins. Felt like I should have been selling Christmas trees. If Barack Obama will have even half the success creating peace that Al Gore has had fighting "global warming," it's time to sell the Halliburton stock.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus Go Dutch

I read recently that Ticketmaster is trying out a "paperless" ticket system that allows the original ticket buyer -- and only the original ticket buyer -- to resell the ticket to someone else at a profit. Oh, and Ticketmaster gets another piece of the action, too, of course.

I thought, "It's about time," because what I've always found strange about these complaints that brokers have snapped up all the tickets and people have to pay scalper prices, is that the artists, the venues and Ticketmaster are obviously missing out on money they could have had, because they sold the tickets too cheaply in the first place. I guess Ticketmaster finally figured out that they need to get another piece of the action. And that's fine with me.

Anyway, here is something on the topic that I wrote last summer but never got around to posting:

It was announced recently that tickets will go on sale for a Miley Cyrus concert here in St. Paul. This is particularly "big news" because of what happened last time the teen's tickets were sold for a show here: ticket brokers managed to work the online system to snap up almost all the tickets almost immediately. They then resold the tickets for a substantial profit. Fans (and particularly their mothers, who were paying for the tickets) weren't happy.

Promoters say that new safeguards will prevent a playback of that same situation.

But I have a better idea for how to handle ticket sales for high-demand events: a Dutch auction.

When it comes to tickets being marked-up and resold by brokers, there's always a lot of complaining about what it costs the fans. But it surprises me that I never hear anything about all the money this has cost some other parties: the promoters and the artist.

Think about it, if brokers can buy huge numbers of tickets and successfully resell them at a profit, it means the tickets were underpriced. The promoter should have charged more. But how does the promoter know how much to charge? How does the promoter get the most possible dollars for each seat?

That's where the Dutch auction comes in. Most auctions start with a low price, and the merchandise goes to the highest bidder. But a so-called "Dutch auction" works in reverse. The price starts high and goes lower, until someone says, "I'll take it." If there are multiple items on the bid, the first taker gets choice. If there are some left, the price goes done until someone else bites. It's sort of a game of auction "chicken." You can wait for the price to go lower, but you might miss out.

With computerized ticket sales systems, this ought to be easy enough to figure. Let's say the announcement goes out: Hannah Montana tickets go on sales for $500 Saturday at 10:00am. On Saturday at 10:00am, the most dedicated fans (or most optimistic scalpers) start buying the best seats at $500.

At some point, sales will slow to a trickle. That's when the price drops. Let's say to $450. That should make sales pick up. If it doesn't, or when sales slow again, the price drops again -- $400 -- $350 -- $300. If all the tickets don't sell quickly, the price continues to gradually decrease. Eventually, all the tickets are sold. It might be at $200, or $100, or $50, but each ticket sells for what someone thinks it is worth to them. If the tickets don't all sell, and the concert nears, what then? Slash the price again! Maybe they go to $5, but who cares? We've maximized the possible sale price of each ticket. But with a concert such as this, it's not really a question of whether all the tickets will sell. They will. And ALL the money people are willing to spend goes to the artist, the venue and the promoter -- without a big chunk going to scalpers.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Vote for One from Column A and One from Column B. Then Settle for Whatever You Get.

"Instant run-off" voting will be on the ballot in St. Paul this fall. This is the ballot method where you vote for several candidates, "ranking" them in order of preference. The idea, proponents say, is to eliminate elections where the winner receives less than a majority of votes. After the first tally of the votes, the candidate with the least votes is eliminated, and his/her voters are reassigned according to the candidates that they listed as their second choice. If still no candidate has at least half the vote, the process continues, and candidates are eliminated until someone has a true majority.

I don't like it.

Why? I say, "Follow the motivation." Just like "Follow the money." And what is the motivation for this? The motivation is very simple: Liberals are upset that Republicans have won elections when the Left has split its votes. For instance, between Gore and Nader. Or Kerry and Nader. This has been an issue in local elections, too. The Extreme Left wants to be able to "vote their conscience" and vote for a socialist, green, communist, whatever, without jeopardizing the chances of the "mainstream" Democrat. I think they hope that once the Far Left candidates are "protected" in this way, they'll eventually gather enough votes that they start winning, instead of the Democrats.

Now, some St. Paul restaurants are jumping on the bandwagon by offering customers "instant-runoff" voting on favorite menu items, in order to "educate" people about how wonderful it is.

Aren't the restaurants afraid that they might cost themselves business by taking sides on a controversial issue? You know, like the way that a boycott was organized when the Whole Foods chief spoke out againstt nationalized health care? I guess not. I guess peoplle on the right are more tolerant and open-minded. They don't try to destroy everyone who disagrees with them.

What other ballot issues could restaurants promote? I know -- there have been a lot of ballot initiatives concerning same-gender marriage. How about this: The restaurants could offer "menu equity." No more tradition and discrimination. Here's how it would work. Most of the time, when you ordered a sausage and egg breakfast, you'd get sausage and egg. But sometimes, you'd get sausage and sausage, and sometimes you'd get egg and egg. But if you complained, you'd simply be told that there was no difference.

Now why'd I have to go making a joke like that? Someone's bound to actually do it.

Tuesday, Septebmer 1, 2009

It Just Don't Make Sense

Sometimes, things just don't seem to make sense. Just ask Bob Tammen. He wrote this letter that appeared in the Pioneer Press on Aug. 23, 2009:

The recent news that an American citizen showed up outside an appearance by President Barack Obama with both a rifle and pistol brings back memories of the Republican convention last September.

My wife and I showed up for the poor people's march with signs that had small aluminum handles. We were promptly surrounded by police and photographers. The police made me remove the handles, remnants of a salvaged lawn chair, as a threat to the peace and good order of St. Paul.

The Pioneer Press printed a picture of that law enforcement action, which ensured that I would never use my "Impeach Bush" sign as a weapon.

It's now apparent that I should have used an AR-15 as the handle for my sign. Or is the real policy to hassle progressive Americans but allow right-wing fruitcakes to intimidate anyone who disagrees with their Big foot, tooth fairy, wicked witch, black helicopter, jack-booted thug, pull-the-plug-on-Grandma delusions?

Bob Tammen, Soudan

That does sound ridiculous, doesn't it?

But is it really fair to compare the two? These were different events, at different times, and in different places. What would have happened if Mr. Tammen had indeed brought his AR-15 to the "poor people's march"? I suspect law enforcement would have objected. And what if he had brought his lawn-chair sign to the Presidential event at which rifles were carried openly? I suspect he would have been left alone.

Nonetheless, I agree with Mr. Tammen that this just doesn't make sense. But there are a lot of things that don't make sense in this world. Consider:

Steal a little money from a liquor store, and you'll go to prison for years. Steal millions via fraud, and you'll go to a country club prison for months. I'll bet Mr. Tammen and I would agree that that doesn't make sense.

Shake a baby to death and you're a murderer. Kill a baby before it's born and you're exercising your Constitutional rights. That doesn't make sense, either.

But Mr. Tammen might not agree. Maybe he would, maybe he wouldn't, I don't know. But I do know that people who tend to rally against Republicans and have "poor people's marches" also tend to support abortion. And a lot of people who can find a right to abortion written between the lines in the Constitution have no trouble at all overlooking the very obvious 2nd Amendment.

Again, some things don't make sense.

The truth is, the human animal is not a very logical or consistent thinker. Mostly, we take a position based on intuition, emotion, or gut reaction. Then, we try to reason a defense of our position, telling ourselves that we're simply being rational. (But the other guy isn't.)

Here's another thought I had just the other day: Doesn't it seem like the people most likely to be sympathetic to illegal aliens, saying "They're just trying to make a better life for themselves," tend to be the same people most concerned about the injustice and illegality of the European conquest of the Americas? Aren't they also the people most likely to complain about the Europeans taking land from the people "who were here first"?

But weren't the Europeans just looking for a better life for themselves and their families? I know my immigrant ancestors were.

Of course, when it comes to present day illegal immigration into the U.S., who really was "here first"? The Anglo-Americans? Or the native ancestors of many of the people sneaking across the border? Hmmm. That's the trouble with asking "who was here first?" How far back do you go? And don't archeologists tell us that the woolly mammoths and saber-toothed tigers were perfectly happy in North America until the first humans arrived and wiped them out? Maybe none of us should be here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

How Many Degrees of Separation?

Big, big news... Sherry Johnston will do time for Oxycontin shenanigans.

Who's Sherry Johnston? You don't know? She's a big-time celebrity. A major public figure. Or, as the Associated Press explains...

"The mother of the man former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol had planned on marrying has reached a deal in her drug case."

Mother of...former...daughter...had planned on... Basically, she's nobody. But somehow, this nobody from Alaska is national news. Can't miss any opportunity to try to make Sarah Palin look bad, I suppose.

Tueday, August 11, 2009

Where Have We Heard This Before?

Is it just me, or do others hear the president and his ObamaCare supporters pretty much saying:

1. "It's un-American to criticize the president and his health care plan."

2. "You're either for us or against us."

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I Hate People Who Aren't Tolerant Just Like Me

I'm writing this while PBS is airing one of those special pledge drive shows. You know, the ones they put on so that people who don't usually watch PBS will watch and give money so that PBS can "continue to bring you great programming like this," after which PBS will go back to the regular programming that their new donors don't watch.

This one is a concert celebrating the 90th birthday of Pete Seeger. It's been promoted as having all kinds of special musical guests, and I thought it was worth a look. Pete and I disagree on a lot politically, but I respect his lifetime of musicianship, so what does politics have to do with it, right? Besides, Bush is gone now, so they won't have to make this into a Bush hatefest, the way liberal entertainers always have to do.

I'm so naive. Just because I can respect people's differences and say "live and let live," that's no reason to expect a bunch of rich liberal entertainers to do the same. It didn't take long at all and they were going after Bush.

Some of the morons had rewritten the lyrics to Seeger's song "Dear Mr. President," in which Seeger said to FDR, basically, "Give me a gun so I can go get Hitler." (Lyrics) The new lyrics are a love song to Obama "and your beautiful family." And they fling hate at Bush, even though he's no longer the president.

And these morons are idiots. They sing about how they "sent him back to Texas." How do they figure? Bush was elected twice and served two full terms. Then his time was up and he left. He was not defeated. Yet, Obama's Lewinskis-in-waiting on the stage seem to think Obama defeated Bush. After all, Obama pretty much ran against Bush, not against McCain.

I wonder, if you polled people who voted for Obama and asked them who Obama defeated, what percentage would say Bush? I bet at least 20% would say that Obama defeated Bush.

And what makes these musicians think they are all public policy experts? Does anyone ever ask Dick Cheney to pick up a guitar and entertain them? And why is that? Right, because he's a politician, not a musician. So why do musicians think they are all experts in politics?

Part of the new lyrics included complaints about how those evil "corporations" are running everything, even "telling our radio stations what to play." But that same singer is too much of an idiot to realize that government-subsidized PBS is letting him broadcast his own ignorant, hateful views to the nation. Heck, he's probably getting PAID to do so!

Why are liberals so narrow minded and intolerant? They think everyone is just like them. They get up on a stage and spout off, and they love it when the crowd reinforces their narrow-minded, ignorant hatred. They think everyone agrees with them, because they don't know anyone who doesn't. (Maybe they need more diversity in their lives?) And no doubt there are people in the audience who don't share their views, but they know it's best to keep their mouths shut. You know, like Jews at a Hitler rally.

And these things remind me of that. How hard is it to stand on stage and say you hate Bush? It's like at certain times and places where someone could stand in front of a crowd and earn applause for saying how much he hated negroes or Jews. The hateful mob. Yeah, that's real intellectual and tolerant.


I was just about to upload this post when Pete Seeger came on and talked about how nice it is that people are glad that their towns are diverse. They used to be glad they didn't have "those people," he said, giving examples such as Jews and blacks. But now, we're so happy to be diverse.

Yeah, right, as long as everyone thinks just like us and hates Bush.

When it comes to liberals, diversity is only skin deep.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Book and Its Cover

Yesterday I stopped at Menards (a large home improvement store). Walking into the store, I noticed a car with an Obama sticker, an anti-Bush sticker, a pro-Al Franken radio sticker, etc. As I approached the store entrance, out came a woman and, for some reason, I thought to myself, "I bet that's her car." I turned to watch her walk to her car and... it was!

There must have been 80-100 cars in the lot. How did I know that? She just had "that look." Her shirt had some message on it, but I think it was simply a product name, not some statement.

Maybe you can judge a book by its cover.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Racist Double Standard

Without knowing the facts, a president immediately comes to the defense of his buddy, and blames it all on someone of a different race.

If it were President George W. Bush rushing to make excuses for Karl Rove, and blaming a black cop, would we (meaning the mainstream media) stand for that?

So why does President Obama get away with it?

And long ago we (meaning the mainstream media) forgot all about the racist Rev. Wright, Obama's "mentor" and pastor.

If this isn't a double standard, what is?

Professor Gates supposedly ticked off the cop by saying something about "your Mama." But then I've heard it said that that the ignorant white cop shouldn't take offense, because he should know that for black people, that's not any big deal. That's interesting, sort of like the St. Paul public employees who got in trouble for stringing up a stuffed monkey in a noose at their workplace. They were charged with being racist. They said they were just practicing tying knots, and the monkey was a prop that just happened to be at hand. They were told that was no excuse, because they should have known that to their black co-workers, this would be very offensive, because evidently some people (liberals, I guess) think of African-Americans whenever they see a monkey.

No, wait, it's nothing like that. It's just the opposite. If we were being consitent, Gates would be scolded for his ignorance of diversity and lack of sensitivity for not understanding how his words would be received by somehow of a different race.

Again, if that's not a double standard, what is?

While I'm at it, have you noticed how President Obama bullies the press, with them gratefully being on the receiving end? I heard the audio from his recent news conference where he tried to cover up his earlier statements in the Gates case. he was ordering everyone to sit down and shut up so he could set the record straight.

Remember that prime-time TV "town hall meeting"* of his recently, the one where he explained to us little people how his wonderful health care "reform" plan would work? I didn't see it, but I saw just a little of his encore later that evening on ABC's "Nightline." In contrast to the usual softballs they always throw at him, the newman (Charles Gibson?) started pressing Obama on some contradictions between what Obama is saying now and what he said during the campaign. I thought, "Now we're getting somewhere." But Obama knew where it was leading, so he interrupted the newman in a raised voice, not letting him finish the question. And he even grabbed the newsman's arm! Obama scolded him like a child!

And how did this veteran newsman react? He grinned at the camera! It was as though he was thinking, "I can't believe he touched ME! I can't believe he yelled at ME!" He was totally starstruck.

He's a condescending bully to the press, and they love him for it. Amazing. The bumbling Bush was said to be arrogant; the haughty Obama is not.


*As someone who actually grew up on a farm across the road from an actual town hall, all of this "town hall meeting" talk always puzzles me. What do these big, East Coast city people know about town halls, let alone "town hall meetings"? Yet, they always claim they're having one -- usually in a TV studio filled with a carefully-selected audience.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Obama's War

We've had 5 Minnesota servicemen die in the past week. Obama's "surge" in Afghanistan has increased the fighting and the deaths. Now we're hearing that the Secretary of Defense wants to add another 22,000 troops to the military, because we need more people in Iraq and Afghanistan.

How long until the president's disciples turn on him and start protesting "Obama's war"?

It was just last September when the protesters turned out by the thousands to march during the Republican National Convention here in St. Paul. They were marching against President Bush, and, specifically, against "his" war. I thought that was rather odd, since Bush wasn't up for re-election, his time in office was almost done, and he was working to wind down the war in Iraq. They were a little late.

Now, they've got their man. And what's he doing? Getting us further entangled in the Afghan "quagmire" and forcing the war into Pakistan ­ with its nuclear arsenal. Of course, for years they ­ and Obama ­ have been telling us that "Of course I support the war in Afghanistan; that's where the Taliban were. But Bush is neglecting that by focusing on Iraq." Now that young Americans are increasingly dying in Afghanistan and Bush is gone, do they still support that war? (As if they ever really did.)

How long before they turn on Obama?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Frugal? or Cheap?

It's trendy these days to be thrifty. Yuppie conspicuous consumption is out; "green" thriftiness is in.

I recently read a newspaper story about "thrifty" brides, who put together weddings on the cheap.

I suppose I should be glad to read that, having been repulsed in recent years by the accounts I have read about the extravagances that have now become "essential" in a modern wedding. But are these "thrifty" brides really being frugal? Or are they being cheap?

Some time ago I came up with a definition for the difference between frugal and cheap: "frugal" is when you take your wife out for dinner with a 2-for-1 coupon; "cheap" is when you tip your waitress based on the cost of one meal, not two.

The defining characteristic is that being frugal is being wise in the way you spend -- or don't spend -- your money. In my example, you have chosen to take advantage of an advantageous offer that has been freely extended to you, and the restauranteur is glad to have your business. Everyone wins. But being cheap is being foolish with your money; when you're cheap, you hurt someone. In my example, it's the waitress, who did her job, and then got short-changed. (But often the person who's hurt by your cheapness is yourself.)

Now, let's look at those "thrifty" brides. "I hoped to spend less than $2,000," one said, "And it ended up coming in at about $1,100 -- and that's with food. But I don't think it looked like a budget wedding. It certainly didn't feel that way to me. Everyone complimented me on the deorations and the flowers and especially the food."

Sounds like she's working pretty hard to convince herself.

The story goes on to say that "the newlyweds then splurged on a Las Vegas honeymoon."

"We both have good jobs, we didn't need to save money on the wedding," the bride said, "But if we could spend the money on the honeymoon rather than the wedding, we'd rather do that."

Oh, I see, rather than spend money -- which you have -- on your friends and family, you'd rather save it all to spend on yourselves!

Ruling: CHEAP!

A second bride boasted about saving money on the wedding, then explained, "We'll use the extra money to go on a long European honeymoon that will give us so many more memories than just one day."

Don't forget to email your poor guests the photos.

Ruling: CHEAP!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Helpless Victims or Competent Adults?

A big reason we have a political divide is because people see the same world so differently. What I can't relate to is the way that so many people -- those identified as "the left" or "liberals" or "progressives" -- see people as, basically, helpless victims, whose fate rests in the hands of... the government.

Here's an example. This is from the "progressive calendar" email that I get.

Subject: Underground RR 6.29 6pm

There is an Underground Rail Road Volunteer meeting.

Monday June 29 6:00-7:00

Sabathani Community center room 126

The Underground Rail Road is project put together by founding PPEHRC members. The reasoning behind the foundation of the program is to let neighbors help one another where social service organizations fall short. So far PPEHRC has used the Underground Rail Road Project to find free storage places for families facing evictions, find house-hold items for those in need, short term housing, volunteers, transportation to name a few.

It's great that people are trying to help their neighbors. But what jumps out at me here is, first, the assumption that "social service organizations" should just automatically be taking care of people, and only if they "fall short" will neighbors help each other Secondly, I notice that these people seem to need a program -- maybe even permission -- to help their neighbors. What's wrong with an individual just taking the initiative to get off his butt and help his neighbor? To be fair, I'm sure the people involved in this do help their neighbors already; they're just trying to organize to do a better job of it. Still, I think the words they use to describe their program show how their minds work.

A second example comes courtesy of Nobel Prize winning eonomist and newspaper columnist Paul Krugman. In a column blaming President Ronald Reagan for the current economic climate, Krugman concludes by writing:

There's plenty of blame to go around these days. But the prime villains behind the mess we're in were Reagan and his circle of advisers - men who forgot the lessons of America's last great financial crisis, and condemned the rest of us to repeat it.

"Condemned" us to repeat it? Don't we have free will? Just because somebody doesn't prevent you from making bad (with 20/20 hindsight) decisions doesn't mean you have to make those bad decisions. You can make responsible choices.

But not everyone sees the world that way. Some people think we're all helpless victims.

Monday, June 22, 2009

History Repeats Itself

What's wrong with those nutty Iranian people? Don't they know we got rid of that "cowboy" George Bush and his nonsense about the "Axis of Evil"? Don't they know that under our new management, we realize that Iranian leaders love their children, too, and all we need is to sit down and talk? They'd better stop this protesting nonsense before someone gets hurt.

Can you imagine what would have happened if people in Eastern Europe had listened to that warmonger Ronald Reagan and rose up against their governments? Instead of accepting that they live in a workers' paradise of their own choosing? All hell might have broken loose in the Soviet bloc. Someone might have gotten hurt. Good thing left-wing American intellectuals knew better.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Boasting Infidel

President Obama wants to be everything to everyone. In his much-ballyhooed "Speech to the Muslim World," he pointed out that while he is not a Muslim, his father was a Muslim.

Is that something to brag about? By rejecting the faith of his father, isn't he disrespecting both his father and Islam? And doesn't that make him even more of an infidel than someone who had no family history of Islam?

Then it was on to Europe for D-Day commemorations. We heard that Obama has German ancestry. And that his (Caucasian) family members stormed the beaches on D-Day. That's great. It shows what a typical, mutt of an American he is, right? But wait a minute, I thought he was the "First Black President"? It's so bizarre, the way that most of the time he's unqualifiedly "black," but then all of a sudden we start talking about his European ancestry, and no one bats an eye. Very strange.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

It Is "The Obama Administration"

I asked earlier whether the press would blame bad news on "the Obama administration," or pass it off on "the Treasury Department" or such.

Well, I've been hearing "the Obama administration" used quite a bit, the same way they attached any unflattering reports to "the Bush administration." So... no bias there after all.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Blasphemous Conception?

According to this report, Apple has rejected a proposed application for the iPhone that would let people superimpose their own faces over images of religious figures, including Jesus. Now, you might expect me to say, "Sacrilege! That's outrageous! Good for you, Apple! Don't let those heretics get away with it."

But you know what? We don't have any photos of Jesus, do we? We don't even have a painted portrait. So any "image" of Jesus is just an artist's conception. If I put my face on that artist's conception, we don't have my face superimposed on Jesus body, we just have me dressed and tressed as I might have been if I have lived in the Holy Land 2000 years ago. "Hey, look! It's Dave with long hair and a beard, wearing a robe and sandals!"

I suspect Apple's real fear is that they'll offend someone other than Christians.

Friday, May 8, 2009

New Crisis: The Earth Might NOT Be Warming!

After years of being told that the Earth is warming, which will cause great damage, melting ice caps, drowning polar bears, flooding coastal cities, starving people, etc., now it seems that a decrease in solar activity could counteract the alleged effects of CO2 emissions. Temperatures might not rise after all. Maybe the Earth will even get cooler.

This is the same type of sun cycle blamed for the Little Ice Age that cursed Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries.

So that's good news, right?

Depends on whom you ask.

If the effect is to cool the Earth, as in the so-called Maunder Minimum, the Little Ice Age that ran from 1645 to 1715, some scientists worry it would mask the effects of global warming caused by a buildup of greenhouse gases.

"The problem is if the sun is, indeed, going into a minimum, which we don't know yet, people will think that we don't have to act on climate change," said Angela Speck, an astrophysicist at the University of Missouri. "The sun came back out of that minimum in the 18th century" - when the River Thames turned to ice - "and it will come back out of this."

"I'm inclined to think the effects are real," said Adrian Melott [a University of Kansas] astrophysicist. "But the evidence is nowhere as solid as it is for the carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere" and climate change.

"My worry," he said, "is that it will lower temperatures and cause people to think it's OK to burn all that coal and oil."

One thing I've liked to write about over the years is examples of how those on the right and those on the left share a thought process, albeit over different issues. The thinking being demonstrated here reminds me of how some social conservatives reacted to the HPV vaccine that can now be given to girls. In that case, some critics said that giving this vaccine to girls (medical experts say it must be administered to minors to be effective) is tantamount to saying, "We expect you to start having sex any day now, so you might as well be protected. Now go and enjoy yourself!" The critics said girls should be told that they shouldn't be having sex outside of marriage, and the risk of contracting the HPV virus -- which can lead to cervical cancer -- is a good reason to remain chaste.

(A question that raises is, how would those on the left respond to an anti-tobacco vaccine that could be given to kids? Would they object because now kids would be more likely to smoke once they couldn't be threatened with tobacco-caused death?)

Better yet, there are those who think we shouldn't distribute condoms or try to find a cure for AIDS, because the threat of AIDS should serve as a reason for people not to participate in unapproved behaviors.

But if someone takes that stand, what do we call that person? Hateful. Homophobic. A zealot.

What then of someone who says they WANT the Earth to warm, and the polar bears drown, because that will serve as a warning to evil humans to repent and stop driving SUVs? What do we call that person?

A scientist.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Will it be "House Democrats"?

Maybe I could have been more specific in explaining my point in the previous post. What I was saying was that it seemed that it would always be "The Bush Administration today announced rising unemployment" or "The Bush Administration today announced record mortgage foreclosures." Will it be the same way now? Or will it suddenly be "the Labor Department" and "the Commerce Department"?

This goes for Congress, too. When we had Republican majorities in Washington, I noticed a lot of news reports that went like this: "Republicans today voted to..." whenever the reporter seemed to think the bill was a bad thing. Will we now get "Senate Democrats today voted to raise your taxes"? Or will we get "The Senate today passed a tax increase"?

Let's watch, listen, and find out.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Why Not "the Obama Administration"?

There are some things I've been planning to keep an eye since we have changed presidents. One, as I reported on earlier, was to see whether the new president was referred to by newspeople as "Mr. Obama." I had noticed in recent years the tendency of reporters to say "Mr. Bush" rather than "President Bush," and I wondered if that was intended as a "he's not my president" message.

It turns out that I do hear reporters saying "Mr. Obama" in reference to the new president, so my suspicions were likely unwarranted.

But this Air Force One "photo op" fiasco over Manhattan that took place Monday offers an opportunity to test another one of my questions about how news coverage might change with a new president. Did you notice how this flap in New York was clearly blamed on "the Defense Department"? Even president Obama was able to express his shock and displeasure at the Defense Department for screwing up.

But what if this had happened while Bush was president. Don't you think he would have gotten the blame? After all, as president, he's in charge of all those federal departments. And if he had said he didn't know it was going to happen, that wouldn't have absolved him of blame. No, he would have been blamed for NOT knowing about it!

Getting around to my point, what I intend to watch for is the way that it seemed any bad news released by, or unpopular decision made by, a federal agency during the Bush years was always blamed on "the Bush administration." Rather than hearing that "the Treasury Department" or "the Commerce Department" had reported some bad economic news, it was always "the Bush administration." It seemed no chance was missed to attach Bush's name to anything negative.

Yet what about Monday's news? Read the news reports. It's not "the Obama administration" that gets the blame, is it? No, quite to the contrary. The evil "Defense Department" is to blame, and Obama gets to be just as ticked off at them as the rest of us.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Let's Keep Torture Safe, Legal, and Rare

In his "Best of the Web Today" on Friday, the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto wrote:

In yesterday's item on talk of prosecuting former government officials for supposedly authorizing "torture," we quoted a blogger who despaired of the existence of "a substantial minority of crazy people" who, according to said blogger, stand in the way of "an anti-torture consensus." A new survey from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press sheds some interesting light on public opinion about this matter.

Pew asked, and has asked several times over the past year-and-a-half, which word best completes the sentence: "Torture to gain important information from terrorist suspects is justified ___." The most recent results, which are essentially in line with earlier surveys: "often," 15%; "sometimes," 34%; "rarely," 22%; "never," 25%; "don't know," 4%.

One way of looking at this is that it is the so-called antitorture consensus that is "crazy," at least in the sense of being far out of step with public opinion. Only 1 in 4 Americans thinks that torture is never justified; fully 71% think that there are cases in which it is.

But it's just as accurate to say that at least 81% of those polled think that torture is wrong. True, the majority of those see it as justified in certain cases, but this is what is meant by "the exception that proves the rule." Were it not wrong, it would not need to be justified.

I can't be the first person to think of this, but reading about the "torture consensus," it occurred to me that much the same thing can be said about the "consensus" on abortion: a majority may want to keep abortion legal and available as an option, but a majority also doesn't "like" abortion, and wants it to be rare. Think also of how, just as Taranto describes about torture, people find the need to "justify" abortion when it does take place -- incest, rape, economic hardship, etc., not just for "convenience." Just as Taranto describes in his analysis of the torture poll numbers, it's the exception that proves the rule.

So why aren't the "pro-choice" people on the left also "pro-choice" when it comes to torture?

And wouldn't it seem that anyone who holds that torture is ALWAYS wrong -- the ends never justifies the means -- would also hold that abortion is always wrong, no matter how inconvenient the pregnancy might be?

People: Human beings, yes. Sentient beings, for the most part. But rational beings? No.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


If you've been reading me for a while, you will have noticed that I'm not one of those policy wonks who likes to spout a lot of numbers and statistics and details. Rather, I like to examine larger themes -- truisms, trends and connections in my observations of human nature, history and current events.

A couple of things jumped out at me in Pioneer Press news stories recently. This is an excerpt from a story about the idea of the state of Minnesota imposing sales tax on music downloads:

[Tax opponent Peter] Lindstrom [of the Minnesota High Tech Association] also contends a digital tax would undermine Minnesota's efforts to create a more energy-efficient economy.

"The environmental impact of sending zeros and ones up to a satellite and down to your iPhone is minimal," he said. "The environmental impact of making a CD, its plastic container and plastic wrapper and transporting it to the store is far greater than digital downloads.

"Encouraging digital downloads is much more green."

Okay, one question: How does he think that satellite got into orbit? A not insignificant amount of material and energy went into putting that satellite into orbit.

I'm not saying he's wrong (nor am I saying he's right), but the point here is that this is an example of how we only bother to enter "the devil we know" into the equation. If CD packaging and freight transportion are bad, then any alternative that does not include them must be better, right? But we totally ignore new factors that accompany the new product or procedure that we are adopting.

It's like margarine: Margarine was supposed to be better for us than butter. Why? Because it didn't have butter fat in it! Well, of course it didn't. But after several decades, we discovered it was loaded with something called "trans fat," which was actually worse for our health than butterfat. Why didn't we realize that decades ago? Because no one was looking for trans fat; we were just looking for something that wasn't butter.

There are many, many examples of this. We're always replacing something with something else that evenually we decide isn't so good after all. Babies bring us some good examples: Baby formula. Disposable diapers, what position the baby sleeps in. Then there are all those wonderful building products containing lead, asbestos or formeldahyde.

Second item: "Columbine taught police to shoot first."

That's the headline on a story that says the Columbine school shooting challenged everything that law enforcement officers had been taught about such situations. The common wisdom was to be patient, wait for the SWAT team. Then the SWAT team would take its time, methodically sweeping the building. But what happened in the meantime? More people were slaughtered.

So now we have the "active shooter" theory, which holds that when someone is actively killing people, the first order of business should be to stop (kill) the killer.

Almost seems like common sense, doesn't it?

The link here is to present-day terrorists and pirates. Do patience and negotiation work with such killers? Or do we need new tactics? "Active-shooter" tactics that mean shoot first, ask questions later?

Does President Obama recognize that we have a "new kind of enemy"? Maybe he does -- now. This is from a Wall Street Journal piece on "Obama's Gitmo," a detention camp in Afghanistan defended by the new Prez, which seems an awfully lot like the camp at Guantanamo Bay:

In an impassioned 2006 speech on the Senate floor on the right to habeas corpus, Mr. Obama declared, "I do not want to hear that this is a new world and we face a new kind of enemy." During the campaign, his language implied that all we needed to settle the detainee issue once and for all was to shut down Gitmo.

As president, he is finding out that this very much is a new world, that we do face a new enemy, and that the problems posed by Guantanamo have less to do with the place than the people we detain there.

Welcome to the real world, Mr. Obama.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Obama, We Hardly Knew Ya

Wanting to preserve the memory of former president Barack Obama, a parents group in St. Paul is pushing to have an elementary school renamed in honor of the late Commander-in-Chief.

What's that? He's not quite dead yet? He's only been president for three months?

Nonetheless, here it is in the Pioneer Press. Parents at Webster Elementary want to rename the school the "Barack and Michelle Obama Service Learning Elementary."

That's a really bad idea.

This isn't a partisan issue. It doesn't matter who the individual is, the St. Paul School District should not name anything after a "practicing" politician who, presumably, is not done running for election. Doing so implies an endorsement by the district. In time, I expect many schools across the nation will be named after Obama, but that should occur only after he has completed his time as president. Besides, he should be given a full 4 or 8 years to earn the honor without so totally fouling things up that no one wants to honor him anymore. The record's pretty short, so far. After all, did we start naming schools after President Bush when he was so popular on Sept. 12, 2001?

How would it look if the precinct caucuses -- or worse yet, the general election! -- were to be held at an "Obama" school in 2012? Can you imagine? "Your polling place is.... OBAMA ELEMENTARY." We'd have to have a Pawlenty Elementary (try saying that three times fast) just to even things out!

Naming a public school after a sitting president? Sounds like something a tin horn dictator would do in a banana republic.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The New President Bush

Everything President Bush did was wrong. Obama would be completely different. Obama would end the war. Obama would make sure the rest of the world didn't hate us anymore.

That's what we were told. But now that Obama is president, it seems that maybe the only thing Bush did wrong was to be Bush. The great Obama is now acting like Bush. Oh, sure, sometimes he changes the names of things and pretends it's now different, but he seems to be able to continue Bush policies without getting the same criticism. Here are a couple of examples:

Taliban vow frequent attacks

ISLAMABAD - A suicide bombing at a crowded Shiite mosque south of Pakistan's capital killed 22 people Sunday. A group believed linked to the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility. The violence came as a senior Pakistani Taliban commander said his group was behind a deadly suicide bombing Saturday night in Islamabad and promised two more attacks per week if the U.S. does not stop missile strikes on Pakistani territory.

Earlier, I had read where a Taliban leader was threatening a large attack in the U.S., in retatilation for Obama's attacks on Pakistani territory.

Where are the people to say, "Obama is making the world hate us! He's making us less safe with his illegal war in Pakistan!"?

Then there's this one:

Obama gave his most unequivocal pledge yet to proceed with building a missile defense system in Europe, so long as Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, a charge it denies. That shield is to be based in the Czech Republic and Poland. Those countries are on Russia's doorstep, and the shield has contributed to a souring of U.S.-Russia relations.

Obama previously had appeared to soft-pedal his support for the Bush-era shield proposal. But he adopted a different tone in Prague.

"As long as the threat from Iran persists, we will go forward with a missile defense system that is cost-effective and proven," Obama said.

Run against Bush; govern as Bush. Maybe Obama really is a genius! It seems the only thing wrong with Bush's policies is that they were Bush's policies.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The "Gateway" Candy

A group of youths here in St. Paul are asking the city council to ban candy cigarettes. Apparently, they think that candy cigarettes are a "gateway drug" to the real thing! (With that in mind, wouldn't it be interesting to find out whether some of the would-be banners ­ students or council members -- support the legalization of marijuana, perhaps arguing that pot ISN'T a "gateway drug"?)

Here's the story, as told by the Pioneer Press.

I think it's fine if a store decides not to sell candy cigarettes. And I think it would be great if the kids decided they would conduct an awareness campaign, and ask stores not to sell candy cigarettes. That would be a good learning experience for them.

But this running to the government to immediately ban something you don't approve of. Isn't that rather INTOLERANT? Aren't students usually the ones complaining when someone wants to protect them from themselves, and arguing that they have the right to make their own "choices" and learn from them? Don't they usually say that education and MORE tolerance on behalf of others are needed?

And the way they play the victim! "We're tired of being targeted." Well, if you know you're being targeted, then just ignore it. You're wise to the game, so what's the problem?

What other things could we ban so that kids don't grow up to do something harmful? Let's ban temporary tattoos so kids don't grow up to get real tattoos, look like thugs, and find themselves unable to gain employment. Let's ban video games in which kids steal, harm other people, or drive their cars recklessly. We don't want them to grow up to do those things for real. Ban toy cars, too, for good measure. You ever see how recklessly kids play with those? They don't even stop for Barbie when she's in the crosswalk! If we wanted to ban everything that's a bad influence on kids there goes Hollywood, TV, popular music, and on and on. (Not to mention the entire Internet.)

And don't you just love how the council backed away from the idea of banning tobacco ­ which actually kills people? Politicians just love a straw man ­ they'll take on candy cigarettes because they don't see any downside. But actually take action that would have consequences? They're scared to do that. And I'm sure a lot higher percentage of the population uses real cigarettes than uses candy cigarettes. The smaller the group, the easier to pick on it. But the less good you accomplish.

Council member Dave Thune says "Maybe we'll just reach a point where no one will smoke. We'll all be better off in a smoke-free society." With that laissez faire mentality, then why has Thune previously found it necessary to push smoking bans through the council?

And what lighters would we ban? Is a lighter with a Harley-Davidson logo on it a "toy"? How about those i-Phone apps that let you put an image of a lighter on the phone to use during rock concerts? Isn't that teaching kids that a lighter is a toy? That there is no danger to a lighter? That a flame is just a picture you look at?

Where does it end?!

I know it's just candy cigarettes ­ who really cares, right? But aren't there principles involved?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Peaceful Place

Driving by, I noticed that Planned Parenthood in St. Paul sports one of those "no guns allowed on these premises" signs. We certainly wouldn't want any blood to be shed at the abortion clinic, would we?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Body Counts

What's the total of U.S. military personnel killed in six years in Iraq? For a long time we were always hearing the updated daily count, but now we don't. It's more than 4,000 killed, isn't it? Maybe nearly 5,000?

That's a lot of good Americans who have died for their country. Please don't think I am trying to minimize the magnitude of their sacrifice.

But recently I read something that, when compared to the body count in Iraq, really blew me away. According to the New York Times, since January of last year -- that's little more than a year -- 7,000 people have died in Mexico from drug-related violence. Most of those are people connected to the drug trade and drug cartels, or the law enforcement people trying to stop them.

And it's starting to come across the border.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Be Careful What You Ask For

Doesn't it seem like just last year that people were complaining about the "lack of affordable housing"? And about "the growing gap between the rich and the poor"?

Wait, I think it was just last year.

Now, houses are more affordable. But the complaint now is that the government should have done something to keep the housing bubble from bursting. And the gap between the rich and the poor? it's been shrinking. That's because the economic bust has hit the rich the hardest. Don't believe me? Read this story from the Pioneer Press about Minnesota's billionaires. Members of the Cargill family, for instance, are estimated to have lost 48 percent of their wealth in the last 6 months. I'm now about $1.3 billion closer to being a Cargill than I was 6 months ago! The gap is closing.

So this recession must be good thing, right? No, of course not.

But just as I don't benefit from a Cargill losing $1.3 billion, I didn't really suffer either when their wealth was growing. But a lot of people don't understand that. They suffer from two character flaws: They are jealous of others, and they want something for nothing. How do you get something for nothing? By taking from "the rich" and giving to "the rest of us." But how are you going to do that if you don't have any "rich," because you've been trying to make everyone the same?

The truth is, when the economy booms, we all benefit. Some of "the rich" benefit a lot more than the rest of us. But they also have a lot farther to fall when things go bad.

And was it ever realistic to think that we'd all get rich just by buying houses and letting their worth skyrocket forever? Of course not. But that didn't mean we didn't delude ourselves as long as we could.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Lack of Interest, or It's the Principal of the Thing

Minnesota has a new program that helps Muslims buy houses without paying interest. This is necessary, because Islamic law prohibits the charging or paying of interest.

How does this work? Let's say the state wants to help someone buy a $100,000 house. The state marks up the price it charges the Muslim Minnesotan by the amount of a lifetime of interest charges, let's say another $100,000. So the state sells the $100,000 house for $200,000, and works up a "no interest, principal only" payment schedule based on the $200,000 price.

Voila! No interest is charged or paid! (Read the story in the Pioneer Press.)

That's ridiculous. Of course interest is being paid. It's just not being called interest. The homeowner is paying back more than the value he received up front. That's interest -- a surcharge for getting something now and paying for it later. It may not meet the IRS definition of home interest, but I don't think Islamic Law is based on the U.S. tax code.

If this is really a "no interest" loan, what else could we get away with? Hmmm. There's a law against prostitution. A woman may not sell sex, but she may give it away. How about if women working the streets stopped charging for sex? They could maybe sell flowers on the street corner, instead. And if with every $100 carnation they sold, they wanted to throw in a little "thank you" for the flower-buying customer, what would be wrong with that?

But the judge wouldn't buy it, would he? Because it would be clear that you weren't really paying $100 for a flower; you were paying extra for the flower to get around paying for the something extra. How is it different with this "no interest" mortgage? You're paying extra for the house to avoid paying for the interest.

Seems like the same "principal" to me.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Surrender Gardens for a Defeatist America?

We had Victory Gardens during WWII. Isn't that something? People wanted victory. They expected victory. I recently saw a WWII-era SPAM ad that said "Save your keys or use a can opener; no more keys for the duration." (Remember when the SPAM can came with a little "key" you detached and used to roll up a strip of metal around the can, thus opening it?) Every little bit helps, so metal would be saved by not putting a key on each can. But most notable is that phrase "for the duration." People expected to fight and sacrifice until the war was over. And how would we know when it was over? When we had won.

I'm getting pretty far afield now; I was talking about gardens. A story in the Pioneer Press yesterday (and make sure you read the comments section that follows) said that the number of people planting their own vegetable gardens is up. There's nothing wrong with that. But I think there are a lot of overblown reactions and exaggerated claims made here. People think it will be so easy to grow vegetables. And they'll save so much money. Pretty naive, I'd say. The reason we don't all grow our own vegetables is that food is not expensive. Paying someone else to grow your food makes it cheap and easy. If people want to grow vegetables, it doesn't hurt me; I'm not saying they shouldn't. I just think it's amusing how so many people have to work their own political ideology into everything. Did you catch that bit about "cultural baggage"?

Some years ago I observed yet another corn field turned into a housing development complete with giant yards. I got to wondering, would we someday turn so much farmland into residential lawns that we'd run short of food and people would plow up their huge yards just to grow something to survive? it hasn't come to that, but this story makes me think of it.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Talk Radio Gulag

Have you been following this story about how the national Democrats have decided to target Rush Limbaugh as the head of the Republican Party? I think this is bizarre. The Democrats own the White House. The Senate. The House of Representatives. Most of the state houses. So now they are going after a radio entertainer? I think it makes the Dems look small. They've won, but that doesn't seem to be good enough for them. They still need someone to pick on. And that's what it seems like, that they are making sport of bullying someone -- just because that's what they like to do. I know, Rush is a big boy, he can take care of himself. And if he's going to dish it out, then he's going to have to take it. It isn't my purpose to defend him. But in this story, whacko James Carville and other Dems seem gleeful about this new opportunity to gang up and attack the unpopular kid in school. And note that that is why they are attacking him -- they found a lot of the other kids already don't like him, so they'll try to make themselves more popular by picking on him. Talk about grade school!

Now Limbaugh has responded by asking for a one-on-one debate with Obama. If the Dems want to elevate his status, he's going to take advantage of it. He also has equated the White House's obsession with him to Nixon's "enemies list." I think it's making the Obama administration look silly.

Or worse.

Before the election, someone remarked to me that he had heard a lot of Marxist ideology coming from Obama. I thought that might be overreacting. But now we're six months in and we've got "redistribution" and talk of nationalization of banks, under pretty much one-party rule. Look back over the past century. What does a Marxist one-party state do once it has vanquished its formal political opponents? It seeks to silence any others who might speak out against it and encourage dissent: Academics. Writers. Artists. Talk show hosts?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Don't Try to Make a Monkey Out of Me

As I told you before, there are some things I intend to be watching now that we have a new man/party in the White House. I want to see whether the news media give equal treatment or not. As I reported before, one question was answered when I heard the new prez being referred to as "Mr. Obama." I had wondered whether the frequent references to "Mr. Bush" instead of "President Bush" were a subtle "He's not my president" message. I guess not.

Another question I had was whether any editorial cartoonists would depict the new prez as an ape, after eight years of drawing Bush as a monkey. (He has the ears for it.) My thinking was that no one would dare.

Then, last week, along came the Al Sharpton blow-up over the dead chimp cartoon to answer the question.

Or did it answer the question? After all, the cartoon shows a chimp, not the president with chimp-like features.

I'm not sure what to make of that cartoon. We can argue all we want whether the cartoonist intended to equate the prez with an ape, but the truth is, I'll never be able to know what my gut reaction to it would have been. That's because before I ever saw it, I had read about it -- and about what other people were saying about it. I'm sure it's the same way for most of us. The real test would be for me to open up the paper and see it without any previous knowledge of it, then see what my reaction was. But it's too late for that.

But here's my ruling: The dead ape is not the president. The artist is depicting the much-reported crazed chimp that was shot by police last week. The artist is saying that it would take a crazed chimp to come up with the bailout bill that Congress passed last week. That's what's going on here, in my opinion. (But, like I said, the real test would be my unprepared gut reaction, not a reasoned analysis.)

Some people say that, yes, President Bush was depicted as a monkey, but it's different with a (half) Kenyan-American president. That's because there is a history of slurring black people with monkey references.

Nice of them to remind everyone of that, here in Obama's post-racial America. But doesn't it seem like the people who want to focus on that are simply perpetuating a hateful stereotype? Teaching it to another generation?

True equality means treating everyone the same. Everyone gets the same respect -- or lack of respect, as the case may be. If we're going to have different rules based on the color of people's skin, we don't have equality. Just as we can't have single out one group for ridicule, neither can we say one group may not be ridiculed.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tuvok Obama

Way back during campaign season, I kept hearing how Barack Obama was so cool under pressure, unflappable, he didn't get overly emotional. Plus, he was so darn smart and logical. And it occurred to me, maybe Obama was a Vulcan! He also has that whole "unique individual torn between two worlds" thing going, just like Mr. Spock, the half human, half vulcan hybrid.

But more recently, I realized that a more appropriate comparison might be to the universe's first African-American Vulcan, Tuvok, from "Star Trek Voyager." And when I did a photo search for Tuvok to check on the resemblance, I discovered that many others had had the same idea. Here's a sample "separated at birth" comparison that I found.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Euro-vangelists

Some people amongst us are obsessed with the idea that we need to be more like Europe. Now, there's nothing wrong with looking around -- whether it be next door, in another state or across the ocean -- for good ideas. But some self-described "progressive" types simply seem obsessed with the very idea of being more European. If it's how they do it in Europe, they think, then it must be better.

For a recent example, here's a Pioneer Press story about some people who want a "natural" swimming pool built in Como Park. This is described as a non-chlorinated body of water more like a man-made lake than a conventional swimming pool.

That might be a great idea -- I don't know. But what really jumps out at me in the story is the yearning to be more like European. It's almost evangelical. Here's an excerpt:

Claudia Daly, a member of the Como Park Alliance and a neighbor to the pool, said she hopes the city takes a thoughtful, long-term approach to the project.

"I think whoever designs it can't just look at the plot of ground they're designing for. They have to look at the larger community. It's a pool within a park within a neighborhood," Daly said. "I have a feeling if the city will go a few steps further and just open their hearts and minds to this, they'll understand what a glorious opportunity it is."

Notice that with the pool issue -- and this is typical -- we are told, rather generically, that this is how they do it Europe. That's the real tip-off that you are dealing with Euro-vangelists. We never seem to get specific information, along the likes of, say, "The city of Paris built such a pool in 1999 and it has worked very well. Some problems they have overcome include...." No, that would be actual empirical evidence. To the Euro-vangelists, taking our cue from Europe isn't a means to an end, it's the end in itself.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Leftist Theocracy

I've written previously about how the Left likes to cry out, "Separation of church and state!" and "You can't legislate morality." Of course, they say that because they reserve legislating morality for themselves. Here's another example, from a Pioneer Press story about the Minnesota state budget:

Kicking off four days of testimony on Gov. Tim Pawlenty's proposed health and human services budget, religious leaders argued Wednesday that the way the state spends money is much more than a financial issue.

"It's the shape of our lives together in this state that's at stake," said the Rev. Peter Rogness, bishop of the St. Paul Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. "A budget is fundamentally a moral document."

I see. A budget is a "moral document," and we should look to religious higher-ups to tell us what it should be.

Just look at that, would you? It's quite simple. That's the Left telling us that religious leaders should advise the government on how to impose morality.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Truth Is in the Funny Papers

This simple cartoon really got my train of thought chugging away. I thought, "What's more important than raising children properly?" And I thought, "If more people did a proper job of raising their children, we wouldn't have a lot of the problems that people think they need to go out and 'fight' against."

Then I had a sort of epiphany. I realized here was another one of those things that just doesn't make any sense. We have a lot of people (especially in the state legislature) who are always telling us that we must "invest" in our children, that a dollar spent on a preschool programs will more than pay for itself down the road in reduced prison costs.

Yet, these "progressive" types so intent on "investing" tax money in children tend to be the same people who don't think a woman should be "just" a mother -- she should be a lawyer or a businesswoman or a scientist... or a legislator.

Don't they know that "investing" begins at home?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Meet the New Boss, Same As the Old Boss

I love the way those old saying just continue to fit new developments.

"Don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his moccasins."

"If you think it's so easy, you try it."

"The view is a lot different from the inside."

I saw just a bit of President Obama's news conference Monday night, but something jumped out at me: He sounded like president Bush!

When asked about a timetable for getting out of Afghanistan, he distanced himself from that, saying he wouldn't give one. (Not only that, but he is planning a "surge" for Afghanistan!) He vowed to give no quarter to Al Quaida. And asked about the policy of not allowing photography of the caskets of war dead, he replied that the policy was being reviewed but no immediate changes were planned.

Many Bush critics/Obama supporters believed that, simply put, EVERYTHING Bush did was wrong. If he did it, it was wrong. It was that simple in their minds. So they assumed that when Obama took over and brought change, well, EVERYTHING would change!

I think that Obama, to his credit, knows that many of the policies of the Bush administration were correct policies, so he will continue them when warranted. Of course he didn't let on that he knew that when he was campaigning against Bush (Whom, a lot of people need to be reminded, wasn't up for re-election.)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Obama the Fashion Model

I love this story. It says President Obama is a role model who might be able to get young men to pull up their pants.

I haven't really bought into all the excitement about the "first black president." After all, his mother was white, and his father was sort of a visiting Kenyan sperm donor. And I don't really get the "Today, anything is possible!" sentiment. After all, as some have said, Colin Powell could have been elected eight years ago had he decided to run. But since so many do feel that way, I'm really hoping that President Obama can serve as an example and an inspiration to African-Americans. And, specifically, I hope he can serve as a positive role model to young black men. I'm hoping that he can show that dressing well, speaking well, getting an education, following the rules -- those things are not "acting white," but are a basic part of succeeding as an American.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Original Bringer of Hope

It's been mentioned often that President Obama sometimes borrows from the style and rhetoric of former President Ronald Reagan. But what I've never seen explicitly expressed is this: What was it that Reagan offered a dispirited nation? Hope. Hope... and change.


I was shopping for greeting cards today. I saw a card that had many photos of former President George W. Bush, paired with photos of chimpanzees. Evidently, we were supposed to see a resemblance.

Do you think the greeting card company will be updating that card to similarly "honor" the new president? I think we both know the answer to that question, no matter how prominent the presidential ears may be.

So I ask you this: If there are some ways in which it is acceptable to mock a white man, but you mustn't make fun of a black man (or a mixed race man) in the same way, then are there also some corresponding ways in which you may make fun of a black man, but you may not mock a white man?

I can't think of any.

Friday, January 23, 2009

America: Just Another Banana in the Bunch?

We used to look at other nations -- banana republics, tin horn dictatorships, warring middle-eastern states -- and ask, "What's wrong with those people? Why can't they be more like us." But lately, I fear our own nation is devolving to become more like them.

That's why I find this local news story (from Richard Chin of the Pioneer Press) so disturbing. It tells of a public inauguration viewing party held at a movie theater. Here are some excerpts:

Once inside, the largely partisan crowd - many wearing Obama T-shirts and buttons - responded to the msnbc.com coverage like it was an old-fashioned melodrama.

They cheered when their heroes such as Bill and Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale appeared on the screen and hissed and booed when the cameras turned to their favorite villain, outgoing Vice President Dick Cheney.

No one threw a shoe, but the face of the outgoing vice president on the screen prompted the crowd to break into a chorus of "Nah, nah, nah, nah. Nah, nah, nah, nah. Hey, hey, hey, goodbye."


When evangelist Rick Warren delivered the invocation, dozens in the audience stood up and turned their backs in protest of Warren's opposition to gay marriage.

There were cheers when the camera showed moving vans taking the Bush family's possessions from the White House.

The people described here behaved very badly, in my opinion. They acted very disrespectfully, from at least three different perspectives.

First, and most obviously, they acted disrespectfully toward President George W. Bush. But that's the least of my concerns. In the big picture, a few hundred people in Minneapolis jeering one man, even if he is an outgoing president of the United States, maybe doesn't amount to much. (I could make a point about a lack of respect for the Office of the Presidency, but I think that battle was already lost years ago.)

Second, this crowd showed a lack of respect for the system -- the Constitution. Did they not notice that there were no opposing mobs jeering Obama? Did they not notice that there were no Bush partisans -- armed or otherwise -- putting up resistance, demanding that Bush remain in office? That's not the way we do things. Once again, we had a peaceful transition. President Bush had served out the two terms to which he was elected, and he was a willing participant in handing over the Office of the President to Mr. Obama, who had won an election fair and square. There is no role in this for mobs. That's not how we decide things.

Third, and perhaps most important in a city where the bumper stickers proclaim "Think Globally; Act Locally," this crowd showed a lack of respect for their fellow citizens. What about diversity? What about tolerance? Clearly, they either assumed that everyone there thought just like them, or they didn't care what someone else thought, as long as they themselves were in a large enough, vocal enough mob to dominant the place and intimidate anyone who thought differently into remaining silent -- or away.

You might say, "Dave, you should have expected this. Anyone who didn't want to be a part of this didn't have to go." That's right. I was aware of this event, and I did expect it to attract a partisan crowd. That's one reason why I wouldn't have attended even if I had been able to.

But here's the problem. You could say the same thing about a lot of public events/gatherings/places. I mean, you could say to someone, "What did you expect? Didn't you know that someone of your (fill in any ethnic/preference/gender/etc. group) wouldn't be welcome and comfortable (pick one or fill in your own: at that lunch counter; in that neighborhood; in that profession; riding public transit)? You should have just stuck with your own kind and there wouldn't have been any trouble."

And that's particularly ironic when it coincides with this inauguration.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mr. Obama

During the Bush years, I told myself that when a Democrat next occupied the White House, I would be sure to pay attention to some specific examples to see if he (or she) was being treated the same way that Bush was treated. One of those examples was that for several years I've noted news people repeatedly referring to the president as "Mr. Bush," instead of "President Bush." I wondered if this was the reporters' way of indicating that "He's not my president."

Well, this very morning -- the very morning after the inauguration/coronation/royal wedding -- I already heard a reporter on the ABC Radio network refer to "Mr. Obama." He's the same reporter I wondered about when he said "Mr. Bush."

I guess maybe that wasn't a dig at Bush, after all.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Betting on the Losers

There's a lot of talk about investing bail-out money in losers -- failing banks, failing auto companies, failing homeowners -- who have already demonstrated their knack for making poor financial decisions. Wouldn't it make more sense to give billions of dollars to individuals and companies that have shown their financial acumen by NOT needing a bail-out? Let those successful decision-makers put the money to good use and see what benefits might result for the nation.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Iraq: "The Good War"

For years, opponents of the Bush administration have told us that Iraq is "the wrong war." It's a "quagmire," they say. It's "another Vietnam."

Meanwhile, to cover their backsides and not appear "soft" on terrorism, they've said, "Of course I support the war in Afghanistan."

Well, folks, get ready for things to change.

The war in Iraq finally appears to have an end in sight. Meanwhile, the situation is deteriorating in Afghanistan, where the Taliban have regained territory and control, and there is no way to control the border with Pakistan.

If you want "another Vietnam," just look at Afghanistan. In fact, didn't we used to refer to it as "Russia's Vietnam" after the Soviets spent a decade there to no effect? No one has ever been able to control Afghanistan peacefully. Yet, the incoming administration had pledged to send more Americans there to fight. Is there a plan for "victory" in Afghanistan?

A prediction: Someday, we will look back on Iraq as the successful war; Afghanistan will be remembered as "another Vietnam."

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Grass Is Always Greener While the Pendulum Swings

"The grass is always greener..." and "the pendulum swings both ways" are two old sayings that come to mind with this post. Here's a story about gym classes "just for girls." It's the hottest thing since gender equity.

"You can really teach them things that are appropriate just for them," [teacher Bridgette] Andrews said.

Girls - who rarely registered for elective gym before - suddenly felt comfortable talking about nutrition, their lack of exercise and eating disorders. Boys found the freedom to play harder, be more competitive and discuss health topics related to them, Andrews said.

Separate but equal? Or, separate... but equal to more than the sum of its parts?

I remember the good old days when separating the sexes was considered inherently "discriminatory." That followed the goode olde days when the sexes were usually separated just because "that's the way nature intended it."

So what gives now?

This is dangerous territory for a man, but what's going on inside the heads of women, whether "feminists" or not?

My only explanation is that women want to be the ones (and the only ones with this prerogative) to decide whether or not they will be separated from the men. They may not actually want to do everything with the men, but they don't want anyone telling them that they can't.

I'd connect this to the color pink. Remember when "girl stuff" was pink? Then, the feminists rebelled against it, saying women shouldn't be assigned some color that made them look weak.

Now, I see that pink is fashionable again, but in some new applications. Not just pink clothes or pink lunch boxes or pink streamers on bicycle handlebars. Now women can get pink hand tools, or pink guns.

I guess women do inherently like pink, but they want it to be their own choice. And who am I to argue with a woman who might be wielding a pink hammer or a pink deer rifle?

Monday, January 12, 2009

So Much for Change

Obama said last week that he thinks we should delay the digital TV transition. How's that for irony? You'd think he would be the last person to say that Americans aren't ready for change.

And what would be the effect on the economy? For example, while I'm not planning on getting a new digital TV right now (I'll get by with a converter box), I do plan to buy a new DVD recorder with a digital tuner, so that I can timeshift programs I'm not able to watch at broadcast time. But if the switch is delayed, my purchase will be, also. That's $300 Best Buy won't be getting. With the awful holiday shopping season retailers have suffered through, do they really need that?

There's a disconnect here. His words are all about "change" and "economic stimulus," but his actions speak otherwise.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Devouring Their Own

I've been suprised at how quickly Washington Democrats have started fighting amongst themselves, and that Congressional Democrats are already starting turf wars with Obama. The pre-election campfire sing-along is over.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. It's the nature of politics, and human nature. (And it could just as well be Republicans.) Everyone played nice while they were united against a common enemy at election time, but now that the Dems have won that battle,they are turning their sights on each other.

They think they don't have to worry about Republicans anymore. They're cocky. But what goes around comes around. The pendulum always swings back eventually.

Friday, January 2, 2009

I Made the List

I made the annual banished word list put out by Lake Superior State University with my submission "not so much." (Used when a simple "no" would do.)

Last year I never got around to making my submission, so when the list came out, all I could do was stare at my yellow Post-Note on the wall behind my monitor, on which I had scribbled the banished word "surge."

I've made the list at least twice previously, earning banishment for the TV news cliches "is dead tonight" (1998) and "shallow grave." (1992)


dave ["at" ] downingworld [.com] -- If you'd like to know what I think about a particular topic, drop me a line: I may use it for a future blurb. But remember: I'm not really a know-it-all; I just play one on the Web. Thanks for tuning in, from your host David W. Downing.


HOME -- Public Affairs -- Marriage -- Ronald Reagan

Farm Life -- Slice of Life -- Humor

DowningCommunications -- Downing Pumpkins


keep count with WebCounter, http://www.digits.com/