Friday, July 18, 2014

Last outpost of crazy: Dictatorial movie reviewers

Watch this movie and it will lead to nuclear holocaust! That's one way, or maybe the only way, to get me interested in a movie.

The weird leader of North Korea is upset over a major Hollywood movie. Two comic actors, who previously starred together in a stoner movie, now have a movie where they're assigned to assassinate said weird leader.

Kim Jong Un is threatening "merciless retaliation." He's killed people before. He or one of his predecessors have shot missiles without provocation, kidnapped people from Japan, but not managed to start a war recently. I hope he doesn't kill or maim over this movie, but it's on him if he does.


Same Day Update. Oops, never mind

Short: Arrested for a parenting decision

At a time when we have stressed parents trying to make ends meet, I don't think we should add to the burden by questioning non-dangerous parenting decisions. Here's a story. A mother had a shift at work, the 9-year-old daughter was bored sitting at the workplace and wanted to stay at the park instead. Mom said yes, and gave her a cellphone. On the third day of this arrangement, a budinsky parent called the cops or child services. Was the child incapable of looking after herself? There's no evidence of that. So why should the kid be whisked into foster care, and the mother arrested and charged?

Yes, there was the potential of danger, but children do transition from needing full-time adult supervision (minus bathroom breaks and sanity breaks) to being responsible for their own safety. Our laws are wrong if they represent the expectation that a 9-year-old needs the same supervision as a 9-month-old or as a 15-year-old. Please, let's not make it harder on our parents and our kids. Give them more leeway than was shown in this incident.

This is most likely the park. Looks nice.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

No emergency money without concessions

It makes plenty of sense to me that the GOP, with their strength in the House and Senate, should attach some strings to the money for the immigration crisis. People don't usually open the wallet and get nothing in return. However, Dems think they aren't bound by this.

The Republicans want a change in a 2008 law so that central American immigrant minors can be sent home as readily as Mexican minors can. Immigrant groups are flexing their muscles, and have gotten Nancy Pelosi to oppose this change. But without the change, no extra money.

What will the Obama administration do? They can divert funding, which is probably not legal or they wouldn't be asking for the money in the first place. They can use their emergency authority under the 2008 law to send the minors back quickly, thus saving some money. Or they can make the deal with the Republicans. I don't know how badly they need the money, though it does seem that extraordinary measures are taking place--minors transported to lots of different facilities, warehouses and other buildings being converted for temporary use as detention centers. That sounds expensive.

I don't think the administration can continue to slow-ball the handling of this surge of young immigrants. These refugees aren't going to get the drawn out hearings that have been customary. Instead, the process will have to be expedited, much to the disappointment of immigrant and Hispanic groups. If Obama really does need the money, he has little choice but to agree to the concessions.


On second thought: It's going to be hard for Obama to put together a deal. Some Republicans are definitely going to vote against it, so Obama needs some House Democrats. If Pelosi is signaling to her pawns how to vote, will there be enough votes for whatever deal is negotiated? That will be close.

I have to wonder what is worse: the current configuration of power in Washington, and whatever the next stage will be. I'm fed up with them, but I'm terrified should any group gain a lock on power with House, Senate, and presidency. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Tea Party gears up to strike out, yet again

The Tea Party really, REALLY wants to crucify Obama, but they'll settle for impeachment. Boehner is trying to buy them off with a pansy-waist lawsuit, but some of them aren't taking it. Erick Erickson is howling for Congress to man up on impeachment. So is Sarah Palin.
Oddly, one day after Palin's rallying cry for impeachment, Erickson decided that impeachment won't work. He's sticking with his assessment that a lawsuit is a stunt, so that leaves the power of the purse--the shutdown and default strategy that didn't work last time.

Palin called for impeachment on July 8, and by July 9, she had that sinking ship pretty much to herself. On July 13, William Kristol declared that "No responsible Republican has called  for impeachment." I could say Palin had been hung out to dry, except that she's a gutless, witless, second-string toady who doesn't even realize how lame and stupid she is. She hangs herself out to dry just by opening her mouth and letting stale conservative talking points crawl out. Then, she doubles-down on her own stupidity, as in this insipid column on all the non-specific wrongs Obama has committed.

Today there's a poll showing that 35% of the country want Obama impeached. I'm betting on a far different number within six months, if there's any poll at all. The impeachment mania has peaked, and now it's going downhill. Should someone like Ted Cruz push for impeachment, they will get slapped in the face with a dead fish. They won't get ushered into the driver's seat, as happened last year.

I wonder how long before the majority of Tea Partyers realize this. How long before Palin realizes? What will they do when they do realize it? That might be interesting to observe. Usually, however, bad ideas end with a whimper, not a bang. That's probably what will happen here.

To be completely honest, I didn't realize how dead impeachment was when I started this post. But I figured it out, and much faster than Palin will.

Boehner's nuts ... or Palin's marbles?
Image: oops, lost the reference

Extras. Impeachment was so last February. A humorous summary of Palin's complaint.
Update 7/16/14. More Republicans say impeachment is unworkable. I guess Sarah missed the memo.

Boehner spinning those wheels

Congress is deadlocked, and therefore has nothing to do (well, close to nothing). Boehner wants to present the semblance of activity and gravity, so he's decided to sue the president. He's got to do something, and it's better than some of the alternatives, like letting a committee research impeachment issues. What a circus that would be. So a lawsuit provides the veneer of activity and gravity, but it moves ever so slowly.

I thought I heard that the lawsuit was already filed! That would be huge news, but I was mistaken. No, Boehner has announced that it will center on one issue--just one! That's better than the kitchen sink approach, and it definitely prevents some jerk from throwing in questions about Obama's nationality. But it also feels like weak sauce.

Boehner still has to get the draft of the lawsuit done. I predict he'll stretch that out for a while. He's also going to offer a resolution for the House to vote on that directs the House to make the suit. That adds another gating device to slow things down a bit.

The House was supposed to have hearings on Benghazi, but I haven't heard anything else about them. I thought it was supposed to be this summer. Is that not going to happen after all? It's hard to tell. Maybe Boehner thinks it's a vote-getter, so he's saving it for the fall campaign season. Or maybe he thinks it's a loser, so it's been quietly buried. I can't tell, but I'd put better odds on the burial.

The Democrats in Congress don't have anything to do either, but they're quieter in that mode. Republicans should learn the lesson.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Outpost of hope: Carleigh in New Jersey

I don't post heart-warming stories often enough, but maybe this is a start. A teenager in New Jersey was bullied about her body. Someone even wrote some graffiti about her on a local beach. She refuses to be shamed, and she definitely turned the tables. Here's the graffiti, her, her mom's facebook post, and a great story of rising above. Enjoy!

Image: Carleigh O'Connell via

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Ayn Rand is Nietzsche

Nietzsche is commonly credited with offering an alternative morality, where the supermen didn't have to follow the same rules as the sheep the rest of mankind. I haven't read much Nietzsche, so this may be a misrepresentation, but let's pretend it's accurate.

Ayn Rand thought that the bureaucrats and leeches were holding back the greatness of society. This is somewhat a tenet of libertarianism, that we all need to be free to soar as high as possible, free from the regulations that would tether us to mediocrity. Those tethers include anything beyond minimal taxes, gun restrictions, licensing for professions, FDA drug testing, regulations, and paperwork showing compliance with vast numbers of government rules, etc. They also include the social safety net. I'm going to focus on the safety net.

Some people need the social safety net. That's why we have it. Before governments got into that business, there were churches and charities that tried to handle the load but were often overwhelmed. I assume charities were overwhelmed. Perhaps they weren't and it was just a trick some liberal busybodies dreamed up in order to make jobs for themselves. But I bet charities were frequently overwhelmed.

So we've had and needed a social safety net. Yet Ayn Rand was against that net. I can understand if she thinks it's better never to use the safety net, but why should it not even exist? It exists because people have needed it in the past, some need it now, and other will need it in the future. But other people's needs are unimportant to the Ayn Rand archetype. The Ayn Rand hero will never be that needy person. The superman doesn't need the safety net, and the world should be for the supermen, not for the sheep. So, no safety nets for you sheep either.

In the Ayn Rand view, it's too bad that the sheep of Europe even pushed for these safety nets starting back in the 1800's. The sheep of America followed. That's a problem, having these sheep make decisions about what government is going to do. They make sheep-like decisions. The sheep become more sheep-like and dependent, and the supermen are weighed down. Government should be limited so the sheep can't decide what's to be done. [By the way, doesn't this sound suspiciously feudal? The nobility should make the decisions, and the peasants should shut up and be good mules.]


I hope I've shown a strong similarity between the philosophy of Ayn Rand and Neitzsche. Perhaps I'm overreaching here, but I don't think so. I wondered for a long time why people are so adamantly against Social Security, a program that has such broad appeal. Why isn't it good enough for anti-SS folks that large numbers of people want the program? Isn't that democracy?

No, democracy isn't a good enough reason. First and foremost, the country should be as free as possible. That's what libertarians strive for. Nothing, not the wishes of the majority for a social safety net, should overrule the primary guiding principle of the country.

On one hand I can see the logic in this. On the other hand, in practice the people of this country (as in "we, the people," took the country in the direction it has gone. This country wasn't invaded and hijacked by Russians who changed our government by fiat. WE changed it. And there was a logic to the changes that we made.

So the libertarians aren't the only ones who have a logical, reasonable view of how our government should work. They have lots of competition, and they've been losing. We, the People, don't want the Ayn Rand or Nietzsche philosophy. The elections tell us that.