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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Earth will be fine - Stop being a weenie.

Walter Williams makes a refreshing point about how overwrought the discussion has become about all things environmental:
Despite these cataclysmic events, the earth survived. My question is: Which of these powers of nature can be matched by mankind? For example, can mankind duplicate the polluting effects of the 1815 Tambora volcanic eruption or the asteroid impact that wiped out dinosaurs? It is the height of arrogance to think that mankind can make significant parametric changes in the earth or can match nature's destructive forces.
The earth is pretty tough.  Please stop screaming about the "fragile planet" as your excuse for demanding the governmental takeover of anything and everything.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Whose Fault Were Those Barricades?

Suppose a couple agrees to set a limit on their credit card.  One day the man demands his wife sign a form to raise the limit.  His wife refuses to do it.  In order to intimidate his wife into obeying him, the man turns around and kicks the family dog.  A fellow named Chris Matthews hears about this incident and reports it on his TV show the following way:  Unreasonable Woman Causes Family Dog To Suffer!

Would we not all agree Chris Matthews is an idiot?  While it is true the dog was kicked after the woman refused to sign the form, the woman “caused” no dog-kicking.  Indeed, most rational people would agree to two things: 1) there was absolutely no need for anyone to kick the dog and, 2) it was the husband and the husband alone who chose to kick the dog.

There are some people who believe that Republicans in the House of Representatives were somehow responsible for barricades being erected to block access to various parks, walking trails, and public open spaces.  The thinking seems to be that since House Republicans refused to fund all of the government for a short period of time, this refusal started a  chain reaction that somehow automatically led to green-shirted babus moving as quickly as they could to put up barricades.  It is not so.  There was no reason for the National Park Service to barricade anything during the shutdown.  They did it purely at the will of the Administration. 

If you blame Republicans or the Tea Party for causing parks to be barricaded, you’re the type of person who approves of husbands forcing their wives to obey them by kicking the family dog.  Don't be that type of person.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

'The American' - Going the Full Dante

I watched The American on DVD last night.  I liked it.


It’s a crisp iteration of a hackneyed story: the hit-man who wants to retire but they won’t let him.  Clooney is good in the film and that is no surprise.  The main character, Jack, is laconic and broody.  Clooney could  look great in this role if he were hung over and hadn’t read the script before filming started.

The movie’s outlook was fairly religious.  (This is not to be confused with ‘family friendly’; there’s too much nudity for that.)  A priest is an important supporting character – practically a one-man Greek chorus - and the setting is an ancient Italian village, complete with winding alleyways, tight stone stairwells, and religious processions.  The mood struck me as positively medieval.  And it works.  If we’re going to go full Dante, we may as well do it in a 14th Century Italian village.

Clooney’s character tells the priest “all men are sinners” and in many movies that would be the final word.  Here, the priest doesn’t back off.  He points out some sinning is worse than other sinning.  And Jack’s sinning is definitely of the “worse” sort.  He establishes his killer bona fides in the first scene of the movie.  And just in case we the audience try to misinterpret what we see, and try to withhold our judgment, the very next scene sets us straight about our man.   Jack runs to meet with Pavel, a grizzled, middle-aged assassination broker he does business with.  In the course of that conversation, Pavel is genuinely shocked at what Jack tells him.  When you can shock the grand-poobah of the contract-murder guild, you are one seriously wicked dude.  You also of course may be shocking the wrong guy.

By coincidence, in church this morning the sermon cited Isaiah 55:7:
Let the wicked forsake their ways
  and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
  and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
Maybe Father Benedetto had Isaiah in mind when he was talking to Jack.  Jack is a murderer, a liar, and who knows what else.  He has spent his life in business with murderers and liars and, while he obviously wants out, he doesn’t strike us as a chap likely (or even able) to forsake his ways and thoughts.  The audience wants to see if Jack can get away in one piece, but the overarching question – the question Father Benedetto is there to ask -  is whether Jack can repent and save his soul.  Guess which way the smart money bets?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ann Althouse allows Schadenfreude to descend into unseemly cackling.

Wrote this post months ago.  Didn't realize I never, you know, posted it.  Re-reading it now, in light of the recent Arizona religious freedom hoopla, and the vicious lies that accompanied that dispute, I figure it's still worth posting.

The true bigotry in this debate is not anti-gay:

The frequently thoughtful Ann Althouse, while denying anyone is accusing same-sex marriage opponents of bigotry, enjoys their bigoted-ass discomfort.  Which no one is accusing them of.  But it serves ‘em right:
5. Now lots of traditionalists have the raw material to whine and cry about being called bigots. I doubt if that will work out very well for them, but they've been stewing in their own juice for a long time, and they're going to find it hard to stop. Unfortunately, same-sex marriage was originally presented as a conservative idea, and traditionalists could have gotten out in front of liberals on this issue if they'd listened to the original argument and predicted the future better, and now they'll have to scramble to improve their image. If crying about being called bigots — when, again, the majority didn't even use that word — is going to help, I just have to laugh. You took the opportunity to oppress when it was there, and now that it's gone, you want to say you are oppressed. Man up, losers. You lost. And you deserved to lose. Now, stop acting like losers. If you can. (I bet you can't!) 
It's amazing otherwise sensible people can see no reason anyone would defend a unique status for the male/female pair in a two sex species.  Other than oppression.  And bigotry.  Which Ann isn't accusing anyone of.  Wow.

Homophobia and Robbing Liquor Stores

If I accuse a man of robbing liquor stores, any decent and reasonable society would expect me to present evidence.  The evidence would have to be specific: What liquor stores were robbed?  When?  What is my proof that this particular man robbed those particular stores on those particular occasions?  If I were unable to provide such specifics, people would warn me about making false or baseless charges.  Further, if when asked to provide evidence, I merely said things like “Well, can the man prove he never robbed a liquor store?” or “Can the man prove an alibi for every liquor store robbery that occurred?” reasonable people of good will would quickly account me a libeling rascal.  In a decent society I would be liable to social and even legal censures.  The man I accused wouldn’t have to say a single word in his defense unless and until I provided compelling evidence that supported my accusation.

This is as it should be.  A child can understand the concept: He who makes an accusation must present his case before the accused needs to say or do a thing.  This is why for over a thousand years of Anglo-American law the accused is “assumed innocent”.  It’s a no-brainer.  If you accuse somebody of something you have to prove the charge.

Unless I accuse a man of homophobia.  Or racism.  Or sexism.  Or any other of a growing list of “…isms” proliferating around here like tattoos at a cougar bar.  If I accuse a man of one of these things, no evidence is required.  If I call a man a homophobe (or a racist, etc., etc.) the current rules require him to assert he is not a homophobe and then provide evidence to back up his assertion.  As a practical matter this evidence is never found to be sufficient.  How could it be?  The poor fellow is attempting to prove to other people what is inside his own heart.  This is not possible.  Since it’s impossible, he cannot do it.  Since he cannot do it, he has not proved his assertion that he is no homophobe.  He is therefore judged a homophobe by all fashionably-thinking people.

This is madness and no good can come of it.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

Just came back from watching Zero Dark Thirty.  Good stuff, and I can see why the Left hates it.

Here's what bunches up Lefties' panties:

1.  The movie shows the CIA successfully torturing people to get the information we need to find bin Laden.  Lots of things about this irritate the Left.  First, they cannot abide the idea any information we got through aggressive questioning was actually useful.  Second, they certainly don't want enhanced interrogation presented in such a way as to look like it could possibly be justified.  Zero Dark Thirty manages to do both.  Third, and this may be the most artistically unforgivable thing the movie did, the movie showed prisoner treatment far worse than anything the CIA actually did do* and we in the theater couldn't care less.  As far as I could tell from the audience around me, if the CIA guy wanted to shove the jihadi into a four foot by two foot box for a couple days, that was just fine by us.  This must particularly enrage your average anti-American Lefty in Hollywood.  It's one thing to make a movie that makes child molesters seem like regular guys; that's just expanding the horizons of us poor, benighted Red Staters.  But show the US Government righteously  jumping ugly in the defense of America, well, that must never be done.

2.  When a Navy SEAL goes to work he doesn't fool around.  Your average frogman commando clearing a room does not leave live bad guys behind him.  No Miranda rights read to anybody.  Once you do something to cause a SEAL to "engage" you, you are engaged good and proper and permanent.  Sorry, Haji, no hard feelings.  Once again, the audience around me seemed to agree this was a no-brainer. 

3.  Obama is a fool, a liar, or both.  The only reference to the Big O was a video clip of him in the background claiming the U.S. doesn't torture anybody.  The video was playing in the mess hall where two of the "torturers" were discussing business.  The only other reference to the administration at all was when the slick, well-dressed suits from the White House were making it clear to the CIA guys they were mostly interested in making sure an attack on bin Laden didn't reflect poorly on the President.

4.  I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere else yet but it may be an even bigger point than the others:  the movie continually referenced how the CIA messed up its assessment of Iraqi WMDs.  Not George Bush, not Neo-cons, not the Zionist lobby.  Sometimes the CIA just guesses wrong and it was the CIA that guessed wrong on Iraq.  The Left's urban myth about how George W. Bush "lied" us into a war in Iraq is a matter of faith among their true believers.  For this film to flatly declare that the Iraqi WMD mistake was just another intelligence screw-up, and not some evil plot concocted by the BusHitler, must be particularly galling.

5.  Just as a general matter, there isn't the slightest hint in Zero Dark Thirty of the US being the bad guy, nor does it raise any questions about who the true bad guys might be.  The people we are fighting are mass murderers.  Our "allies" among them sometimes have to be bribed just to help us out.  They burned three thousand Americans alive in the middle of New York City and the entire fight since then has been our response to that atrocity, and our attempts - often unsuccessful - to stop them from committing more atrocities.

The more I think about it, the worse this movie seems from a Lefty's point of view.  No wonder they can't stand it.

* For a retired CIA guy's take on the Zero Dark Thirty torture scenes, you may want to read this.