Thursday, December 31, 2009

How Books Are Bought In 2009

I was minding my own business, surfing to my favorite blog. Instapundit. He linked to a SF novel twice. The second had an interesting author's story of how the novel got published.

This interested me enough to want the book. But I'm not going out and I doubted Barnes & Nobel has it on their shelves this soon after release. So, I clicked the Amazon link that Professor Reynolds helpfully provided. Sadly, I learned the book is not available on the Kindle.

My sadness was short-lived. "Hey, the publisher is Baen." Those guys aren't luddites. There's got to be an electronic copy available somewhere. So, I bypassed and went to see if they were selling an ebook that I could download immediately. I could.

A few mouse clicks later, I'd purchased the ebook for $6.00. A relative bargain. Moments later, I received an email with links to download the book. I clicked on the link for epub format (for my Motorola Droid and also my SONY Reader) and also mobi format (for my Kindle DX). They arrived on my hard disk and I unzipped them to a scratch directory.

Then I fired up Calibre and imported them into its database. (Think of Calibre as iTunes for ebooks.) Then I plugged in my Kindle DX and told Calibre to upload it. Then I repeated the procedure with my Motorola Droid.

Altogether satisfactory. Less time that it would take to drive to the bookstore. Cost is $6.00. And completely DRM-free. This is the way the future of books and reading should be.

Bleg: We All Make Hell In Our Own Image

I was just talking to High Command about a mutual friend who's going through some unhappiness. From our perspective, it's completely incomprehensible and there's no reason why this unhappy situation should exist and persist. Mid-lament, I remarked, "We all make hell in our own image."

And this is something I've noticed about miserable people. They respond to situations to create web of perceptions that filters whatever reality gets through to them. You can think about Charles Swindoll's comment that 90% of our lives is how we respond to the 10% that actually happens. Mindful of this, I purpose to choose my response. And when I had cancer, I chose to maintain a positive mental attitude, because I knew that was the only thing I could control in that situation.

Thus I've said, "We all make hell in our own image," hundreds of times over the last couple decades. But this time, my wife said, "Did you come up with that yourself?" I remember coming to this conclusion independently, but I seriously doubt that it's original to me.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, I am looking for any "prior art" associated with this aphorism--someone else (and I suspect that someone would be Hindu) who's said something equivalent. I'm offering a small reward, to the person or persons who contribute quotes from philosophy, religion, literature, or bumper stickers that capture this insight.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Holmes: Shaken, not stirred

Once upon a time, I ran into an atheist who claimed that the Bible was untrue, because--among other things--it confuses eight-legged bugs with six-legged bugs. Everyone since Carolus Linnaeus began working on his system of biological classification, we know the former are arachnids and the latter are insects. I didn't accept this argument because the Bible was written over 1700 years before Carl Linnaeus was born. The Hebrew word used here is translated into English as "creeping things." At the time of writing, the distinction between insect and arachnid did not exist.

Literary works need to be interpreted in the context within which they're written. Arthur Conan Doyle wrote his Sherlock Holmes stories in the 1880s. At that time the public understood a "consulting detective" to be something different than what we understand a detective to be today.

The success of Arthur Conan Doyle inspired hundreds of subsequent mystery writers. The work of this army of scribblers has elaborated the concept of the crime-solving sleuth. The mystery genre has split into two sub-genres: the cozy and the hard-boiled. The cozy probably best typified by Agatha Christie's Miss Marple who solves crimes by her incredible brain without ever leaving her sitting room. The hardboiled is probably best typified by Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer who solves crimes with a hot gat and two fists of iron.

In the last century people have read Sherlock Holmes and they've fit him into the changing categories of thought defined by the cozy and the hard-boiled. Are the Sherlock Holmes stories cozies or hardboiled? If you look at way Basil Rathbone or Jeremy Brett played Holmes in the movies, it's obvious: The stories about the violin-playing logician residing at 221B Baker Street are cozies.

Thus I was torn when I saw the trailers for the new Sherlock Holmes movie. What's with those explosions? What's Holmes doing in a boxing ring? But, the trailers had this cool steam-punk look to them. That looks cool. I absolutely love steam-punk. But the canon. I'm a big one for a movie adaptation being true to the original literary work. This made me want to spurn the movie. But the steam-punk. I was torn.

It's rather stupid to slavishly insist on faithfulness to the canon when you haven't read any Sherlock Holmes in years (but have seen lots of movie adaptations). As it turns out, the canon is a lot more action-oriented than I'd recalled. For example, Sherlock Holmes of the novels is an expert swordsman and pugilist. Pugilist? I'd forgotten that bit.

The Sherlock Holmes of Arthur Conan Doyle's stories is neither the cozy nor the hardboiled detective. He preceeds these categories and he combines properties of each. Counter-intuitively, the fistfighting Sherlock Holmes in the movie trailers is altogether canonical.

Tonight I went to see the Sherlock Holmes movie. Negatives: that Robert Downey, Jr. has a wide face and bushy hair. I would have preferred a longer, horsey face and stringy, thining hair. Christian Bale must have been busy with his Batman gig. That's the ONLY thing I didn't like about this movie. Downey's acting made the character work.

This Sherlock Holmes is a steam-punk James Bond. It seems incongruous that he should become an action hero, but it worked. The inner dialog of Holmes during fight scenes is a delightful trick which serves to show Holmes' cerebrial side. And I thought it worked marvelously.

So, what have we? The Holmes of Arthur Conan Doyle's canon, a character created before the cozy/hardboiled split truly has elements of each. But this movie's screenplay was written in the 21st century, not the 19th. The categories of cozy and hardboiled become thesis and antithesis of a Hegelian dialectic whose synthesis is this movie. Go see it.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Secret News And Other Oxymorons

I came upon this article, "McCain, GOP Secretly Courting Another Demo to Switch." And though I have no interest the activities of John McCain, this news reminded me of a pet peeve. From time to time one sees news articles about secret negotiations here, secret deals there, secret missions somewhere else, or secret treaties with foreign powers.

What bothers me is that if I'm reading about this in the news, it isn't a secret any more. And if it isn't a secret any more, why do the news guys put "secret" in the headline? Don't they realize they've let the cat out of the bag? Don't they care that they have rendered their headline false?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Have these guys always been liars?

One advantage of having gray hair is that you remember ephemera from decades ago. For instance, the pet rock. It was a big hit in the early '70s. Except for the occasional wag who adds a USB port to it, they are ignored and forgotten.

Other things are ignored and forgotten. Everyone just loves Carl Sagan, the dead astrophysicist who taught PBS viewers how to pronounce "billions and billions" with reverential awe. He also used his fame to hype an idea called "nuclear winter." He did so when there was no talk of global warming, but winters had been colder than usual, and James Hansen of NASA was predicting a new Ice Age.

If you ever want to get a Ph.D. make sure you first line up a grant to do your research topic. I've known academics who languish for years in doctoral programs getting jerked around by committees. On the other hand, if you've got a fat government grant coming into the department, you can bet the chairman of the department isn't going to let the committee dilute your efforts with rabbit trail questions. The grant motivates the department to get a result, and your successful completion of your dissertation is part of that result.

So, imagine it's in the early 1980s and the Reagan Administration has no patience with greens suggesting maybe the stuff you exhale is a pollutant. However, Reagan was in the middle of winning the Cold War, and his predecessor, Jimmy Carter, slayer of killer rabbits, had hollowed out the military in western Europe. If the Ruskies came pouring through the Fulda Gap, the only alternative to surrender was to fall back to England and nuke the heck out of the Russian tanks racing through West Germany. This idea wasn't very popular with the West Germans. If you're an aspiring climate scientist, you're not going to get a government grant for global warming. But suppose you can scare the country with talk of a "Nuclear Winter."

Shortly thereafter there were OpEd in the New York Times, Parade & Scientific American magazines with Respected Scientists claiming that even a limited nuclear war would result in the end of civilization and extinction of all life on earth. At the heart of this was a paper flogged by Sagan, et al. in a paper called TTAPS.

Guess what? They lied. A Nuclear Winter won't happen. But that didn't stop a lot of aspiring climate scientists from shaking the government down for research grants to fund their Ph.D.s and Ph.D.s for their favorite students. Turns out Nuclear Winter was just lefty scare-mongering.

Now, imagine you're used to fat government paydays to investigate Nuclear Winter, and further imagine the Soviet Empire implodes making this scary scenario a lot less likely. How are you going to get tomorrow's payday? Isn't that just about the time we started hearing that Global Warming would kill us all?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

If Death Panels Don't Exist...

Months back Sarah Palin was widely scorned by state-controlled media, and those commentators who are wiser than us, when she used the words "death panels." They said that this was untrue. Sarah was lying, that there are no death panels in ObamaCare.

That was the refrain as this legislation made its way through that parliament of whores which is the US Congress.

Today, Mrs. Palin points out that "...the section of the bill dealing with this board can’t be repealed or amended without a 2/3 supermajority vote..."

If I am to believe the Democrats in Congress, not only do Death Panels not exist, but they don't exist so much that it will require a 2/3rds supermajority to repeal them.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bill Shatner Gets Pwned

Years back I read an article on game theory in Scientific American. It described an experiment where researchers devised a game played by computers against computers. And then they put programmers to work devising game-playing algorithms. I was surprised to learn the winning program was called "T4T" standing for tit for tat.

The algorithm didn't think at all, it just remembered whether the opponent hit him last turn and then it hit back. All sorts of fancy mathematical analysis couldn't beat this fairly simple principle of tit for tat.

We saw this a few months ago when John Kerry made some lame joke about Sarah Palin's dis-appearance. The newsies rushed to get her reaction. A little while later, she obliged by telling a joke about the senator's appearance with the punchline "John Kerry, why the long face?"

Some say the high point of the presidential campaign for Sarah Palin came when she gave her speeches at Dayton and at the GOP convention. Maybe. But I suggest it was the time that I did something I hadn't done for 20 years: watch Saturday Night Live. It was hilarious to see Sarah Palin walk up to Tina Fey goofing on her and then goof right back. Didn't she do a Tina Fey impression sometime during the show?

Mindful of this I shouldn't have been surprised last night. William Shatner has a semi-regular spot on the Conan O'Brian show doing hammed up oral interpretations of books. Last night he did, "Going Rogue." I found his excerpted sentences cringe-worthy. After he finished to everyone's surprise Sarah Palin came out carrying William Shatner's autobiography. And she read from Shatner's book.

The look on Shatner's face was priceless: surprise and apprehension. And deeper concern when he sees that she's carrying HIS book. It's easier to throw punches when you don't think you'll get hit back.

A year ago, everyone thought Sarah Palin was done as a political candidate because she'd been Quayled. Unlike the Vice President from Indiana, Mrs. Palin has devised an effective counter-strategy. Go along in a good-humored way, and then hit back in an equivalent fashion. Winston Churchill once said, "I like a man who grins when he fights."

Winston Churchill would have liked Sarah Palin.

Do you remember when David Letterman said those nasty things about Mrs. Palin's daughters last summer? I don't think its surprising that she went on Conan O'Brian's show. There's just hitting back and there's how one hits back.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Avatar: This Is Not A Review

If I were a lib, I'd write a review of Avatar without having seen it. But I have read some buzz about the film that has disabused me of the notion of assembling the Usual Suspects to go see it.

It sounds to me like this movie suffers from the Hollywood Stupid Tax. And I'm not going to talk about the movie or whether it indeed does do so. Instead, I want to talk about Good Art. Don't mistake my choice of words by thinking I mean High Art. X-Men Comic Books were good art. Babylon 5 was good art. I want to contrast Good Art with Partisan Pornography.

I have a friend who wrote a story where he gave his protagonist the power to grant wishes whereupon the hero had President George W. Bush lose control of his bowels during a nationally telecast press conference. Haw, haw, haw. My friend's partisan leanings are not toward the GOP, and I classify this as Partisan Pornography. Mere wish fulfillment in contrast to the truth of what is. Another wrote a story where all the Socialists were wise and courageous while J. Edgar Hoover was venal and craven. Each depicted the world as he wanted it to be.

Were I to write about an alternate-history where Ronald Reagan served a 3rd term as President, it'd be the same kind of Porn, just different partisans. I am within epsilon of terming Sarah Palin a political pornstar for this same reason. Not that she's ever disrobed before the camera, but that she's become the vessel of so many Conservative wish-dreams. The reality is that Mrs. Palin is not an American Thatcher, though I am not unbiased enough to expect anything less of her.

When the Tigers play the Orioles, I want them to score 20 runs as the Tiger pitcher throws a no-hit shut-out. That's the sports version of Partisan Pornography. Were I a Baltimore fan, I'd prefer the roles reverse.

But the world seldom works like that. And truth is that's a good thing. It's a better game when the score tied 0-0 in the ninth with the bases loaded, two outs, and a full-count on our best clutch hitter facing their best reliever.

Understanding is a three-edged sword the Vorlon of Babylon 5 said: your side, their side, and the truth. Triangulation of this sort is what I think Good Art demands. "The line between good and evil runs through the human heart," said Solzhenitsyn. And thus you can't make plaster saints of your protagonists and utter demons of your villains. Your story must include something that subverts your own side's position and cedes what's right about the other side's position.

You can call this a Hegelian dialectic of thesis vs antithesis. Indeed that's part of my thinking. But not all of it. Mix in some intellectual humility, a recognition that your map does not always match the territory (and neither does his). I think that this is more fruitful than patting yourself on the back and reaffirming what you already know.

I first coined the term Hollywood Stupid Tax when I realized why Star Trek Enterprise had become unwatchable. The show was just too stinking PC to be interesting. It killed the franchise. The closest they came was when they put three episodes in the Spock-with-a-beard alternate universe. It was nice to show them kicking butt and taking names for a change. But that's not right either.

In the original Star Trek series episode, "The Enemy Within," Kirk has a transporter accident and he's split into two parts, a Jekyll part and a Hyde part. Yin and yang. Both are necessary to be interesting. If a writer wants to make good box office, s/he needs to embrace this tension and let the audience negotiate the balance.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Maybe Sarah Will Be The Next President

If you're a moonbat. I'll let you have a few moments to scream into a pillow.

There. Better now? Let's begin.

If you look at the Republicans lining up to run against Barak Obama in the next election, the short list includes Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney. I have never thought either of them stands a chance of beating Barak Obama and I still don't. The question is whether the GOP will nominate one of them or someone else.

Tonight there was a tragic event in Washington state where a fellow murdered four policemen. The man being sought in that crime is no stranger to the legal system, having been convicted for several crimes including one with a 48 year sentence and another for a 60 year sentence. The man is 37 years old and did not pass through a time warp. Instead, Mike Huckabee, pardoned him.

I've long thought that Mike Huckabee would make a great Pastor, maybe a good Evangelist, but was a lousy Governor and would be a bigger disaster as President than Jimmy Carter. Not to worry, he'd lose as badly against Mr. Obama as Alan Keyes did.

Mike Huckabee's greatest impact in 2008 in Republican Primaries was splitting the Evangelicals from the rest of the Republican party. However, it is entirely possible that in 2012 Evangelicals voting in the Republican primaries might find Sarah Palin on the ballot. His influence would be diminished accordingly.

What I found particularly distasteful about Mr. Huckabee's campaign in 2008 was his rather blatant identity politics: Vote for me b/c I'm Baptist. Well, I'm a Baptist and I voted against him. Sarah Palin isn't a Baptist, her faith is a prominent part of her identity, but she isn't quoting Scripture as much as she's quoting Reagan.

Tonight Mike Huckabee suffered a severe setback. Years back Mr. Huckabee pardoned someone who should be safely locked up in prison, but (if indeed he is found guilty) instead has perpetrated a murder spree. This may speak well of his willingness to forgive others their debts, but it does not speak well of his judgment. It is bad theology and it is bad politics to confuse worldly and heavenly offenses. I suspect this sort of confusion also afflicts politicians who want to grant amnesty to illegal aliens.

All Barak Obama needs to do in 2012 is dust off the Willie Horton ads that George Bush senior and Al Gore used against Michael Dukakis. And since Barak Obama is, by definition, not a racist, his photos of the pardoned cop-killer will run without criticism. Embed this instance of bad judgment into a narrative of running against someone just like George W. Bush and you've got the Obama '12 campaign.

This is a shame, because Mike Huckabee has one advantage over Mitt Romney: he didn't inherit his money. And there's one thing the Democrats have been fine tuning for the last decade: class warfare. If you run a rich scion of a prominent family, you're doomed. Ask Dick DeVos how his run for governor of Michigan worked. Jennifer Granholm's economic policies are as brain-dead as Barak Obama's. Yet she won re-election through pure class warfare. Blame the rich guy for bad economic times.

Here's another strike against Mitt Romney. He was for abortion before he was against it. Some claim that Evangelicals hold Mr. Romney's Mormon faith against him, but it is his changing positions on abortion that matter. If you go from pro-choice to pro-life, that's a Damascus Road change. Makes me kind of think he was pro-choice to get votes in Massachusetts and switched to pro-life to get votes in Republican Primaries. (Not that we haven't seen several Democrat politicians go the opposite direction.)

The third strike against Mitt Romney is RomneyCare. Mr. Romney knew that the Massachusetts legislature and electorate wanted health care reform. And he got a Health Care bill passed at a state level that is not unlike the one Mr. Obama has been pushing at a national level. It's not working out very well of late, or so I hear, but a year or two ago it was being hailed as a wonderful achievement of Mr. Romney. This'll make it hard for Mr. Romney to turn around and run against ObamaCare.

If Romney is the Republican candidate in 2012, this will take ObamaCare off the table. He'll have to find something else to run against. Given the choice between Obama and Yet Another Squish, a lot of Tea Partiers are going to vote for a 3rd Party candidate. Nevertheless, National Review and T. Coddington Van Voorhees VII is going to be pimping for Romney again.

So, name another Republican Presidential candidate? Newt Gingrich? He is the only one who thought he was presidential material, but after his endorsement of Dede Scozzafava in NY-23, he's toast. Tim Pawlenty, anybody ever heard of him outside Minnesota?

Then there's the girl everyone (if you've a Beltway Insider, or a Mainstream Media flack) loves to hate, but everyone most likely to vote in a Republican Presidential Primary treats like a rock star. I've talked to people who stayed in line overnight to get Sarah Palin's autograph on a book.

I've learned to never predict what Sarah Palin is going to do, because she has faked me out so badly when I've done so. It is altogether that Mrs. Palin is going to do nothing more than strike fear into the hearts of Democrat strategists and loathing in the hearts mainstream media Brahmans. And she could spend the rest of her days laughing happily to the bank. However, should she choose to run, she'll do very well with the demographic that's bought her book.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Who is Norah O'Donnell?

The television show, Babylon 5, had a race of aliens, the Vorlons, who would always ask the question, "Who are you?" This was in contrast with the darker aliens, the Shadows, who would always ask the question, "What do you want?" This was a metaphor to distinguish between the two aliens' approaches toward life. The question, "who are you?" isn't so much a request for identification, as a query about how one's moral compass is magnetized.

I went to lunch at On The Border outside Woodland Mall and watched the show going on outside as I ate my meal. (Sarah Palin was coming to town to sign books as I've recorded elsewhere.) It was a great day for people watching. I thought the most interesting people to watch were the acolytes serving the Network On-Air Talents. They were dressed normally, for New York City. But the Network On-Air Talents were invariably dressed most expensively. Out the window I noticed a tall, thin woman in a very expensive-looking pants suit. Definitely New Yorker, but I did not recognize her. But she did look like a Network On-Air Talent, except she was orders of magnitude more attractive than Andrea Mitchell.

I was parked on the opposite side of the Mall, so the path back to my car lay through Woodland Mall past the spot where MSNBC was camped out. This woman was striking, but I had no clue who she might be. She was being interviewed by a less attractive Network On-Air Talent from Access Hollywood, but that provided no clue. My friend with whom I had been lunching doesn't watch MSNBC, either.

Much later, after I'd gotten Sarah Palin's autograph & handshake, I was home and googling for news coverage of Mrs. Palin. I found a video on Media Matters. The interviewer was Norah O'Donnell. Yeah, same purple top & black pantsuit. I sent the link to two friends with the caption, "Norah O'Donnell picks on a little girl."

So, that's who Norah O'Donnell is.

Later, I read that the girl Ms. O'Donnell was persecuting was not a minor. BUT, just now I learn that this lie came from Ms. O'Donnell herself. Clearly, she understands that picking on kids is not an image enhancer and she lied about the girl's age to forestall blow-back. Happily, the web is such that even Network On-Air Talent can be fact-checked by little girls who are indeed age 17.

Don't take my word for this, read what Red, White & Conservative has to say for herself.

Who is Norah O'Donnell? She's a woman who doesn't let kids or the facts get in the way of her narrative.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sarah Palin in Grand Rapids, MI

Just got back from Woodland mall. I arrived at 7:00am sharp and made my way to the end of the line of people waiting to get in. The line extended from Barnes & Noble, back to the Information Desk at the center of the mall, and then snaked around a maze like you'd see at the airport for a while, and then extended back to the mall entrance.

Next to the entrance to Barnes & Noble is a media setup with lights and camera. When I got in line, it wasn't immediately clear which media outfit was there. Unlike local news coverage, there wasn't any scruffy camera guy and a "face." Instead there were some well-dressed underlings, including a fellow in a tie sitting crosslegged on the floor typing on his MacBook Pro. In the center was a short woman in a pant's suit. Heavy make-up. Looking somewhat long in the tooth. Walking past, I heard her saying that people were standing in line for Sarah Palin. Oh, that's what Andrea Mitchell looks like in real life.

So, how much of Mrs. Palin's bad press is a function of the jealousy of older, less-attractive women? And I'm not saying Ms. Mitchell appeared to be a crone, just that she looked as you'd expect of someone her age. I'm not as young as I used to be, either.

I stand in line for a half-hour and notice the fellow 20 people ahead of me is reading. I slap my forehead with my palm, "I have Mrs. Palin's book with me." Helpful advice: 1) buy the book the night before; 2) show up at whatever time your fanaticism moves you to; 3) while away the idle hours perusing Mrs. Palin's prose. I started reading. The line seemed to go faster.

90 minutes after getting into line, Barnes & Noble personnel had affixed a wristband to me. The girl advised me to return at 4:00pm. I thought this odd. I had the wristband... The signing isn't scheduled until 7:00pm.

Walking through the mall to get to my car, I saw folks waiting in a 2nd line. Their story is a little different. They drove down from Traverse City the night before. They'd waited in line since 9:00pm the night before. True fans. Now they had their wristbands. "What are you waiting for?" "To get into line again?" "What for?" "To get our books signed." Oh. They weren't going to go away and return at 4:00pm. Like I said, true fans.

(I was tired enough last night that I posted this as comments on Stacy McCain's blog. If you've read it there, this is largely the same.)

At Noontime:

I went back to Woodland Mall for lunch. The crowd had changed slightly. Parking is a zoo. This time I observed there are four shows like layers of an onion: 1) There's Sarah who's not there yet. 2) Then there are guys like me with the wristband who have been in line all day. 3) Camping out in a position of Great Honor are the Network Talents. I recognized Andrea Mitchell, but I did not recognize the statuesque brunette (who might induce me to watch network TV again) being interviewed by Access Hollywood. I don't know whether this means she was From Access Hollywood or whether she's someone Access Hollywood thinks important enough to interview. (I later discovered with a bit of googling that she is Norah O'Donnell. You can see a video of her picking on a little girl at the Media Matters website.) 4) Then there's the fourth show, the various acolites and minor deities attending to the On Air Talents. I think they were the most interesting people there.

If you see someone dressed in a black dress coat, s/he's probably from New York and is attending to some broadcast network's business. Conversely, if you see a kid in a Cornerstone University sweatshirt, s/he's been there since Oh Dark Thirty this morning.

Later that same evening:

Mrs. Palin is friendly and personal. She does retail politics flawlessly.

When I got back to the Mall to stand in line again, the line extended outside. (A mall guard told me the fire marshal said there were too many of us to wait inside.)

After a few minutes a pleasant girl from channel 6 in Lansing came by with cameraman in tow and interviewed people behind me. Others kept walking through ruining the shot and I heard the same line repeated 6 times.

When Mrs. Palin arrived, she gave a short speech (couldn't hear much) and a few minutes later the line began to move. The mall seemed warmer than it had earlier in the day.

Andrea Mitchell was camped out at the MSNBC spot directly in front of the Barnes & Noble entrance with Ms. O'Donnell that I'd noticed at lunch. Happily, I've no need to watch MSNBC to learn who that is. Ms. Mitchell looked tired; probably a long day for her, too. Ms. O'Donnell has the youth and looks to not be jealous of Mrs. Palin in those regards. Nonetheless, she may still be jealous of Mrs. Palin's audience.

My cell rang. It was a couple journalism students from Cornerstone University. (My wife had given their prof my number.) They have a Wednesday night class. You could tell by the navy blue "Truth Seekers" tee shirts in a Star Wars font. They came over and we had a nice chat about Mrs. Palin's star power. "Look at this crowd. It's a rock star crowd. She's a Political Elvis"

Their prof owns a small newspaper a couple towns over. This reminded me that newspapers are hurting financially. Mrs. Palin's ability to make old-media newsies irrelevant is an existential threat every bit as real as Craigslist classified advertising. Who needs to tune into MSNBC when you can surf to Mrs. Palin's facebook page and get her words firsthand?

These students went away and the line slowly wound its way toward the Barnes & Noble door. Another Cornerstone student came around holding a big foam core board and a few Sharpies. They were collecting well-wishes for Mrs. Palin. I had to sign it.

Eventually, we got into the bookstore. The clerks know me from the Thursday writers' group. One called, "It's not Thursday." and we laughed. I climbed the deactivated escalators and wended a serpentine route through the stacks.

Sadly, they didn't route us through Philosophy. The teenager ahead of me pulled a book off the shelf about being a gay teenager and handed it to her dad. NTTAWWT. She and I found it a lot funnier than he did. He added that his Facebook account had been hacked a few days back and defaced with a lot of homoerotic stuff. I suppressed additional sniggers.

They had a big cloth scrim set up around the desk where Sarah Palin signed books.

Within this Holy of Holies were cherubim wearing Grand Rapids City Police uniforms and seraphim in plainclothes with coiled wires going into their ears. A high priestess took my books and passed them to Mrs. Palin. She said Grand Rapids was treating her well in that perky, aw-shucks way that I love so much.

I shook the hand of a rock star.

I left slowly, savoring the moment. I spoke with a guy in black suit--Someone Important with Woodland Mall. The crowd control & security was handled professionally and everything went well. His people did a great job. He thanked me back.

The crowd scene was pleasant. Conservatives are all individuals. Some of us can be odd, but everyone was friendly. I detest waiting in line, but I did enjoy the crowd. After Dan's Bake Sale, Rush remarked that the crowd left things neat & clean whereas when the same number of liberals get together they trash the place. This crowd left Woodland Mall in fair shape.

Outside the store the guy in line behind me had his digital SLR out. He asked me to take his picture in front of the Barnes & Noble sign.

Walking back to my car through the mall all the stores had closed and just a few clerks were finishing up for the night. It was peaceful as I carried two signed copies of Sarah Palin's book home.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Everyone Lies about Sex

When Bill Clinton was found to have lied about having sex with Monica Lewinski under oath, his perjury was excused with the spin, "everyone lies about sex."

A young lady named Carrie Prejean has achieved her 15 minutes of fame by competing in a beauty pageant, losing because she said she disapproved of gay marriage, becoming a darling of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, and then getting in trouble for sexual immodesty. In particular, sex tapes have come to light. I was a little uncomfortable with my coreligionists making a hero out of her. Now they've dropped her like a hot potatoe. (Note the Dan Quayle spelling)

I've been sympathetic toward Ms. Prejean. And I'm still inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt. But there are fewer doubts. She claims these sex tapes were made when she was a minor. If she were 17 when she made the tapes, then she is guilty of distributing child porn. (Yes, every minor who engages in "sexting" is distributing child porn. This crime is rarely (never) prosecuted, but it is nevertheless black-letter law.)

In response to Ms. Prejean's claims of being a minor, her boyfriend claims she was 20 at the time. He has a strong motive to claim she was 20, b/c if she was a minor, he is guilty of a felony. But if she's 20, he's merely a cad.

I hope she was a victim of youthful indiscretion and bad judgment. And I hope that her Christianity moved her to repent of her pornographic videography. Happily, I'm not the judge of this matter.

Conversely, if Ms. Prejean was NOT a minor, she's lying NOW. And she's saying she's a Christian NOW. If so, she has a moral problem NOW. The Bible puts "bearing false witness" in the 10 Commandments, but sex tapes aren't exactly in the Bible. Though Bill Clinton claimed, "everyone lies about sex," Ms. Prejean is held to a non-Clintonian standard.

So, we still have doubts. Maybe she is telling the truth and her boyfriend is lying. Or maybe not. How would we know? I suppose the videos in question could be submitted to forensic analysis.

If Ms. Prejean is telling the truth, then she is a felon. She might seek her own prosecution for distributing child porn. It is a dramatic gesture that would screw up her life more than anything she's done so far, but it would demonstrate integrity.

Centuries a fellow named Socrates was found guilty of a bogus charge and sentenced to die. He had the opportunity to sneak out of Athens, but he didn't. He manned up, accepted the hemlock thrust upon him, and drank every drop.

Henry Cloud, the co-author of "Boundaries" wrote a book entitled "Integrity." One of its early lessons is that everyone needs 1) the competence to do the job, 2) the ability to connect with others and build trust, and 3) the integrity to not screw up.

Drink the hemlock, Ms. Prejean.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Don't pick on Gays

I think one of the biggest failures of the Religious Right has been that it has forgotten why it exists and this amnesia is hurting it and the Republican party to which it is enslaved.

I'm against abortion. I identify myself as a Social Conservative because I'm against abortion. I despised George W Bush first and foremost because he could not give a coherent case against abortion. He mouthed vague words about "sanctity of life" or something. Sanctity, that belongs in church, not the public forum. He got away with being squishy this way because where we going to go? Gore or Kerry?

Somehow the Religious Right has distracted itself with gays. If you're a Conservative and you think gay sex is wrong, don't do it. And if you're a member of the Religious Right, instigating against gays is bad for two reasons: 1) government has no business in the bedroom, 2) while you're lathered up about gays, you're doing nothing to stop abortion. Here's a clue: gays seldom have abortions. If someone needs an abortion, it wasn't because s/he engaged in gay sex.

I'm not saying gay sex is right or wrong, because you should look that up for yourself in the Bible. I won't change your mind either way. And while I'm talking politics, I think it's wrong for me to bring up bedroom activities. I think that kind of stuff is outside the proper role of government. (But if you're in church or some other social institution, that kind of stuff if fair game.)

Do I think gays have a right to use government de-legitimize my faith if it contains thou-shalt-nots about gay sex? NO. Do I think gays have a right to change traditions and institutions by force of political pressure and government? NO. You leave us alone; we'll leave you alone.

In yesterday's election an openly gay candidate for mayor of someplace won, but the Maine referendum stopping gay marriage won, too. (I think this exemplifies the Christian notion of "love the sinner; hate the sin." But that's too moralistic.) Rather, voters apply different criteria about gays when the question is personal or institutional. We care less about personal attacks predicated upon gay-rights, but we care more about preserving institutions and traditions in the face of gay activism.

Therefore, I think the Religious Right and the Republican party ought to take a more libertarian tack. Something that's been forgotten. Abortion is different b/c it takes a human life. That's nothing to be laissez-faire about. But sex, drugs and rock & roll. Meh.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Forty Ways I Told Republicans To Drop Dead

I frequently get calls from telemarketers seeking money. Recently I started getting calls from people representing the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee. Since I detest the direction the Democrats are taking the country, the story the fundraisers tell is compelling to me.

There's the narrative the Republicans in DC say to us provincials. And there's the things they do. It's always wise to compare/contrast the things politicians SAY and what they DO.

So, Mr. Obama named some Congressman in upstate New York to some government job. The Congressman happened to be a Republican. This has created a vacancy and an election is being held to fill it. The Democrats have a candidate. And the Republicans decided to nominate someone who gives every appearance of being a RINO. Now, you'd think that the me-too wing of the party would take a delivery from the clue train. Did none of the party bosses in DC look out the window on 9/12 and see the Tea Partiers? What might that mean? Could it possibly be that the public is of a mind to support those who advocate smaller government?

It appears that one Mr. Doug Hoffman thought as much. He is running as the Conservative Party candidate in the New York 24th Congressional District. As a result, support for the RINO has collapsed to Mr. Hoffman's benefit. Now we have a 3-way race pretty much equally divided.

Movement Conservatives nationwide have stepped in to support Mr. Hoffman with their endorsements. On the other hand the party bosses in DC have dropped hundreds of thousands of dollars on the RINO. In response groups like the Club for Growth have proceeded to buy ads for Mr. Hoffman.

A lot of Conservatives like myself are sick and tired of RINOs like John McCain co-opting the Republican party. When I heard that the people who'd been on the phone just last week begging money from me were giving it to another RINO, I was not amused.

So, Mr. John Boehner and Mr. Pete Sessions of the NRCCC, I thought you'd like to know that the money that I did not send you went instead to Mr. Doug Hoffman.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Republican Dogs That Didn't Bark

Republicans don't care when racists perpetrate lynchings. Just so long as the guys doing the lynching are liberals.

So, where is Mike Huckabee, Or Mitt Romney, Or even Sarah Palin? Do any of those Republican "leaders" have anything to say on the subject? Do any of those "leaders" have any inclination to practice LEADERSHIP?

Rush Limbaugh has just been subjected to a media lynching. The likes of which we haven't seen since it was done to Sarah Palin last fall. He was libeled by CNN and various members of the sports press who attributes racist quotes to him that they knew were false. And when they were called on it, they repeated the quotes and said he denied them.

They just made stuff up. And he should sue just to make it harder to libel the next conservative they decide to target.

You'd think that perhaps someone in the Republican Party might NOTICE. Or you think that someone who might want Mr. Limbaugh's support WHEN THE SAME THING IS DONE TO THEM NEXT ELECTION CYCLE, would say something in Rush's defense. Some Republican might express at disapproval of the obvious double standard in play when proven liars and race-hustlers make baseless accusations of racism.

That's where Rush differs from Glen Beck. He's still loyal to the Republican party. He's still in the party and instigating to get it to move to the right. Glen Beck is denouncing Washington Corruption in both the Republican and the Democrat sides of the aisle. Rush goes easy on the Establishment Republicans inside the Beltway. And this is how he's repaid.

The only McCain in Washington likely to condemn Rush's lynching is named Stacy (despite being distracted by Megan McCain's decolletage).

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Passing the torch

Seems the cranky old man who gave us President Barak Obama is anxious to assist in his re-election. George Bush betrayed the Reagan revolution. And the Republicans passed the torch to John McCain who, in turn is fundraising for Mitt Romney.

That John McCain's support for Mitt Romney should assure Barak Obama's re-election may seem counter-intuitive. But it bears a striking resemblance to what happened in Michigan gubernatorial politics. Ms. Granholm has run Michigan's economy into the same hole that Mr. Obama is sending the national economy. But she got re-elected.

She did so by being a class-warrior and the Michigan Republicans obliged her by putting a billionaire who inherited his wealth up against her.

You can see it by way of an analogy. Imagine you're a black man running for Governor against Lester Maddox or George Wallace. These guys made a career of exploiting hatred against people because of an accident of their birth. They had non-governmental organizations such as the KKK to fan the flames of hatred and organize direct action while maintaining plausible deniability for themselves and their political parties.

If you're a guy (of any color) who inherits billions running against a class warrior, it's like being a black guy running against a racist. It's just a different "accident" of your birth.

When Rich DeVos ran for Governor he was demonized as an exploiter of the working classes. This turned Michigan's cruddy economy to Ms. Granholm's advantage. This gave an unpopular Jennifer Granholm a second term. Should Mitt Romney run against Barak Obama, he'd lose by the same dynamic.

Mitt Romney is the son of George Romney, a successful Michigan politician and former President of American Motors Corporation. He has no doubt inherited many good things from his family. Including a pile of cash. This makes him vulnerable to accusations of being a child of privilege.

Moreover, Mr. Romney has added to his family's wealth by his successful career in Finance. Finance, that's the subject of the movie "Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story." If you think that won't be used against Mr. Romney in a general election, ask Mr. DeVos what was said about him and "outsourcing."

I'm not saying Mr. Romney is a bad man or an inept administrator. He brings several demonstrated skills that are sorely lacking in the current Chief Executive of this country. But he's vulnerable to attack from the left. Either the economy will improve: whereupon Mr. Obama will claim that Socialism works and he'll promise to tax and spend even more. Or it won't, and he'll point fingers of blame at everyone who has money and promise to punish them for their greed. That evil Romney is just another fat cat exploiter Michael Moore is telling us about. That's why Mr. Romney will be like a black man running for Governor of Alabama or Georgia against a Segregationist.

Another troubling thing about Mr. Romney is the Massachusetts health care law that he signed into law. It bears many similarities to ObamaCare that no Republican will admit to. Let's suppose Mr. Romney runs against Mr. Obama and tries to make ObamaCare an issue in the campaign. You can be confident that the Massachusetts health care law will NOT be ignored by the Obama campaign.

This will take away the sharpest weapon in the Republicans' arsenal. And I can see a couple million Tea Partiers finding no reason to vote for the Republican candidate. Like they did last time. Why vote for a Republican who promises the same big government that the Democrats are foisting upon us?

This brings us to the "Maverick" who handed the election to Mr. Obama. Disloyalty is not a good leadership trait. Mr. Romney, happily, does not share the single worst character flaw of John McCain. That he should host a fundraiser for Mr. Romney instead of his own running mate reflects his poor political judgment and his inherent disloyalty. We're well rid of him.

Where can I go to find another Ronald Reagan?

Can We Trade?

It is only getting play in the foreign press. But it seems there was a disagreement of opinion between our Dear Leader and the French President. This isn't the first time these two have been in the news as being less than sympatico.

I think I know why and I have a proposed solution. Sarkozy has the nickname in France of "the American" and his pro-American attitudes are incongruous in a French leader. He has forcefully resisted rioting Moslem youth in his country. And he's been the first non-Socialist in the recent history of French presidents. Pretty much the opposite, at every point, of what the Dear Leader would do.

The first thing Sarkozy did after he got the job was to get a spouse-upgrade to a smoking-hot model.

As for our Dear Leader and the First Lady, I'll say nothing you don't already know. He has been running the country after a fashion reminiscent of French socialism.

So, France, here's the deal: Let's trade Presidents.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Barak Hussein Obama, you're no Joe!

I thought the country was in trouble last year when late in the primary season all three surviving candidates were SENATORS. You know, the guys whose jobs consist of doing nothing but talking and voting. Not a lot of administrative or governance involved in that gig.

I also thought the Republican Party was in trouble last year when it had a radioactive/toxic lame duck President Bush who talked like a Conservative, but governed like a me-too Socialist. (Same destination, more leisurely pace.) And the Republicans were led by a "Maverick" who's sole demonstrated competency was stabbing his allies in the back for headlines. The one bright spot was a now-unemployed housewife who has been reduced to posting the occasional essay on Facebook despite being called a Cancer by various and sundry "Conservative" commentators.

But government propaganda is no substitute for competent leadership. Turns out King Barry wasn't the clean, articulate numinous black man like Morgan Freeman in Bruce Almighty. No, he's a lot further left of the moderate candidate that a lot of Democrats, Independents and Republicans voted for. So sorry, too bad, we got your votes and you've been had. (I feel your pain: I voted for a Conservative and got a Bush instead.)

King Barry is also unlike Morgan Freeman in Bruce Almighty because, (to his dismay) in that he is not God. Unlike King Canute, our President apparently believes his own propaganda. He's the guy who promised the oceans would stop rising. Stand aside, Canute, watch Barry...

...fall on his face. Barak Hussein Obama, you are no Joe Stalin! Say what you will about the brutality and murderous character of the old Soviet union--never more brutal nor murderous than when Uncle Joe ran the show. Joe didn't make the trains run on time, he did something more difficult. He made the Soviet bureaucracy jump through any hoops he set before it. He knew how to pull the strings and make things happen. And the Soviet bureaucracy became a finely honed instrument of Joe Stalin's will.

The Good News is that investigation of ACORN will be performed by the Federal bureaucracy. Barak Hussein Obama can command the investigations to cease, but he lacks the administrative skills and experience of the youngest governor of the smallest state of the Union. If he shuts down investigations, there will be leaks. I don't think it's a coincidence that the bureaucracy has been ahead of everyone else in cutting off ACORN at Commerce and Treasury.

If I were a Democrat, I'd be ashamed to have anything to do with this racketeer influenced corrupt organization. But I'm curious about ELECTED Democrats. How many of them lie awake at night thinking these words "'re going down with me."

This seems to be the thinking behind the suit that was brought by ACORN against James O'Keefe, Hannah Giles, and Andrew Breitbart. Here's what lawyers have explained to me: When you sue me, I get a fishing license to go through all your records in a process called "discovery." All I have to have is a reasonable expectation that you have information that will help me defend myself. Now, this shouldn't be a problem if everything's on the up-and-up, but if you're a politician with, say, 20 years of history with this racketeer influenced corrupt organization, you might not want that. Let's hope the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy can hire a lot of lawyers and data miners to go through ACORN's underwear drawer. (And this little scandal has demonstrated that Breitbart, et al. are playing chess and thinking a few moves ahead.)

Conversely, if you're a politician with, say, 20 years of history with this racketeer influenced corrupt organization, and also the head of a major political party, a lot of members of that political party will want to make this law suit go away just to stop discovery. Will the state of Maryland dispense marsupial justice in the case of ACORN versus Breitbart, et alia?

Hard choice, I figure. Canute-on-the-Potomac may command it, but the Federal bureaucracy has an institutional-will of its own. If you're IRS or DOJ, you really don't want to let tax cheats (who aren't in Congress or the Cabinet) get away with openly advising tax evasion. And you really don't want them to get away with child-sex-trafficking. Not because you love the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, but because it makes your job harder.

Also hard, because elected officials (unlike Joe Stalin) you have to stand for re-election. If you're explaining why you helped ACORN perpetrate a travesty of justice, you're not accusing your opponent of taking No-Doz. Or demanding he condemn the boiling of rubber frogs.

Perhaps his imperial royal highness King Barak Hussein Obama can issue pardons to everyone involved in the ACORN suit. Pardon's didn't hurt Bill Clinton. and they didn't hurt Richard Nixon, either. (Not the ones he granted, the one he got.)

If you're a Conservative, it really is good news that our Emperor-God is so incompetent at runningthe bureaucracy. Thank God, Barak Hussein Obama is no Joe Stalin.

Monday, September 21, 2009

On Public Health Care

The last time the Democrats controlled all three branches of US government, they tried to push through HillaryCare. At the time, I thought it Fascist. Not in the sense of German Nazism, but in the sense of Mussolini making the trains run on time. I.e. private ownership of the means of production, but state control thereof. (No, I didn't call anyone a Nazi.)

Next time the Democrats got control, we got the Porkulus bill, and the Government/UAW bail out (or should I say buy-out) of GM and Chrysler. And when the American electorate realized that Porkulus would not create any jobs any time soon, Mr. Obama's popularity took a dive. (Note to politicians: if you vote to spend a trillion bucks to create jobs, create jobs. Don't just print road signs about "recovery.")

With Mr. Obama's flagging popularity came some real push-back to ObamaCare. During the August recess many politicians were reminded that some of their subjects are laboring under the impression that they are citizens who elected representatives. How provincial of them.

Like any good PR campaign, the White House had a narrative ready for the state-controlled (soon to be state-owned) channels: The opposition to ObamaCare is mere astroturfing.

Trouble with that. About the same time they were running that con, the White House, we learn, was marshaling the efforts of America's artists. Nobody gives as much money to artists as the National Endowment for the Arts. And the White House really would like some pro-ObamaCare art. Not that anybody offered any provable quid pro quo...

Or maybe that's what the guys at have up their sleeves. Look at what happened recently. Every day we got to see ACORN in another city, acting like a racketeer influenced and corrupt organization. And before ACORN could say "spin cycle" the Commerce Department had announced that someone else would work on the census and the Senate & House had separately voted to cut funding. (Not that they won't try to sneak it back in under cover of darkness.) State-controlled (not yet state-owned) media tried to ignore it as Faux news, but at some point even New York Times readers grow curious about what's going on... But I digress.

Suppose that in addition to the NEA conference call tapes that Glenn Beck played on the air a couple weeks back, there is some hidden-video of "payola for propaganda" sitting on Andrew Breitbart's staging server?

Wouldn't that be a nice October Surprise.

Even if not, imagine the PR strategy:
1) claim anti-ObamaCare is just Astroturf
2) fund Soviet-style propaganda that is pro-ObamaCare
3) use it to counter those people you're calling Astroturfers

Is the White House so stupid that they don't realize that pre-printed signage that coheres to a single theme looks like Astroturf whereas hand-painted signage looks like real grassroots? Those guys with hand-printed signs, getting roughed up by purple-shirted SEIU thugs. They were the astroturfers, not the guys with pre-printed signs and t-shirts. Right. Maybe folks wouldn't have made that connection, if you hadn't been talking so much about astroturf.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Did You Vote For Tiger Woods or Al Sharpton?

One comparison has been omitted when regarding the Obama-as-promised and the Obama-as-realized. And that is one Tiger Woods. Mr. Woods is as multi-racial as Mr. Obama and extremely good at what he does and highly sought after as an endorser of luxury goods. He's a person of enough-color-to-be-regarded-black who is regarded as sensible and prosperous. He realizes what Mr. Obama (or whoever penned Dreams Of My Father) wrote describing the non-threatening black man. I think that many of the 53% who voted for him expected a President much like Tiger Woods.

Conversely, Obama-as-realized has demonstrated he is much more like Reverend Al Sharpton who hides a core of thuggish race-hustling extortion behind an expensive suit.

This isn't as much as racial thing as a social thing. Or subcultural thing. Power plays that work for Reverend Jeremiah Wright on his congregation do not generalize to the wider American culture. That there is a black subculture (to which Mr. Woods shows no signs of membership) is a signal failure of integration efforts of the 1960s. Rather than demonstrating the success of civil rights, Mr. Obama demonstrates black power at the expense of civil rights.

Had Mr. Obama truly been the Tiger-Woods-sort-of-man who was sold to the American electorate he could have easily assumed the Clintonian role of triangulator-in-chief. To the contrary, he has become the extremist whose words do not match his actions. So much that an unemployed Alaskan housewife has schooled him with a half-dozen Facebook posts. It should be noted that Ms. Palin began her demolition of Mr. Obama with an exhortation to civil dialog after the Mr. Obama had advised his followers “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.”

Tiger Woods would have brought golf clubs.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Girl In The Amish Dress

I went to Camp Barakel for the Labor Day weekend family camp. This is a yearly ritual that we've enjoyed as a family since my kids were very young. At family camp there are chapel services. The best part of any chapel service was a testimony given by the speaker's son. The speaker is a natural storyteller and his son has inherited his skill.

He told a story of going to Shipshewana, IN where there's a lot of Amish-themed stuff. Also, it is not unusual for a young, single man to notice an attractive young lady. And the speaker's son told the story of seeing an Amish girl in a shop who caught his eye. He spent some time wondering how he might make this girl's acquaintance and just happened to notice when she finished work. As he watched, he discovered the Amish girl wasn't Amish at all, because she walked up to a car and tossed her Amish dress into the trunk. Turned out she wasn't Amish at all.

He made this a metaphor for the person who wears his Christianity like that Amish dress, but he does not make it an essential part of his character. I liked this a lot at the time and I still do.

But there is an assumption that I made at the time that NOBODY can take for granted. Phoniness is always bad. Sincere belief is not necessarily good. Suppose I sincerely believe in Ba'al or Molech: one of those human sacrifice demanding Pagan deities. That's bad, too. Still with me? Suppose I sincerely believe in a monotheistic deity commonly referred to as Allah. That's less revolting, but it is not Christianity.

When J. Gresham Machen confronted theological liberalism in the 1920s, and later when Francis Schaeffer confronted religious existentialism in the 1970s, they condemned an object-less faith in faith. Christianity doesn't work this way. Christianity makes specific truth-claims about God and Jesus.

For one thing, God is holy. This means two things: God is morally pure and God is transcendent. That morally pure business does not mean he subscribes to all the cultural norms of Baptists like me. It means God embodies everything in the Ten Commandments--the entirety of the Law.

The Ten Commandments are not something the Pharisees could keep, so they substituted their own traditions that they thought they could keep. I think this was a subtle form of idolatry--replacing the God that is for another more amenable to them. Baptists like me are at risk of doing this, too. And so, I expect any normative statement made by any Baptist preacher to be grounded in God's law. If you start telling me to do extra stuff, I'm skeptical, because I don't want to be that kind of idolater.

You see, when God tells me to do stuff, He's obligated to help me. If some Baptist preacher tells me to do extra stuff, I've noticed that God doesn't help me. And Baptists measure status by the extra stuff we're reputed to do.

And then there's Jesus. I'm a sinner, because I've broken God's law. I stand condemned by God and my dead works will not merit anything with God. My only hope is Jesus Christ, his sacrifice on my behalf and his righteousness imputed to me. Jesus is more than the "Get Out Of Hell Free" card, but the life-principle of my every worthy action in this life in this world. I'm not only Justified by faith in Christ alone, I'm Sanctified by faith in Christ--his life, his righteousness, right now. It is the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit that makes me straighten up and fly right.

Conversely, there is another gospel that the apostle Paul speaks of in Galatians 1:8-9
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

Let's think back about that girl in the Amish dress. Phoniness is always bad. I think that the apostle Paul says right here that sincere belief in another gospel is accursed. I'm anxious that we retain the real gospel and reject another gospel.

It's my opinion that the real gospel is centered on the merit and righteousness of Christ imputed to the individual. It's also my opinion that another gospel will be predicated upon human effort; lacking the Holy Spirit it relies upon psychological manipulation tricks to spur people into action. You can read about it here.

The girl in the Amish dress is a great story because it exhorts us to sincere belief. We need to question ourselves and our beliefs. Do we believe in the gospel that the apostle Paul preached, or do we believe in another gospel? Make sure it is the former and make sure you're sincere about it.

Call Me A Tenther

I just learned a new epithet. If you want to insult and marginalize someone who opposes the unrestrained use of federal power and unrestricted rule of the Federal Government over its subjects. You're a "tenther."

The nickname refers to those who cite the 10th Amendment to argue that federal intervention in areas not authorized by the Constitution, like health care for example, is unconstitutional.

This follows other names such as 'birthers,' 'deathers' and 'tea baggers.'

I believe in a representative democracy. This is a form of government where citizens elect representatives who reflect their interests. This is in contrast with a tyranny where rulers dictate to their subjects.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

I.e. Power to the people.

To make this real, you've got to have a realistic chance of an elected incumbent politician getting replaced on any given election day. This is not the case and despite the fact that 53% of the public would completely replace Congress at the next opportunity, we won't see it happen. Mostly, because when the Republicans were last in power they proved to be venal and corrupt enough to be indistinguishable from the Democrats.

I live in Grand Rapids, MI. We have a Republican Congressman I've voted for repeatedly. He's an incumbent for life. Like his predecessor (who died in office). But here's an offer. I'm not mad at him and he's done nothing particularly good or evil that I'm aware of. But he is an incumbent.

I'll promise to vote against this guy if enough Democrats in other congressional districts will promise to vote against their incumbent. If all incumbents in the House of Representatives were replaced, their replacements might actually act like Representatives instead of Rulers.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Don't Call Him A Czar

Glenn Beck has been getting under the thin skin of the current inhabitant of the White House. We know this because they started a boycott of Glenn Beck. The fellow out of the White House behind the boycott is Van Jones. And Glenn Beck went after the fellow, calling him a communist and identifying him as a White House Czar. According to Glenn Beck just now, the White House is denying that he is a Czar.

Should we call him a Commissar instead?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I wonder what Mary Jo Kopechne has to say to Ted

It appears that Ted Kennedy has left the planet. One wonders what the world would have been like had Mary Joe Kopechne escaped drowning and Ted died back in 1969.

My single most vivid impression of the Massachusetts Senator was a parody advertisement in the National Lampoon for the Volkswagon Beetle--a car famous for its ability to float. The caption was, "If Ted Kennedy drove a Volkswagon, he'd be President today."

My one regret is that Rush Limbaugh will never again run any of his Ted Kennedy Updates. "The Philanderer" was always a favorite of mine.

Mr. Kennedy's accomplishments are many. For instance, he gave us Immigration And Nationality Act of 1965 that worked out so well that it was reformed in the Immigration Reform and Conrol Act of 1986 that granted amnesty to all the illegal immigrants then in our country. And we know how well that has worked out.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Why Charles Hates Sarah (a corollary)

Yesterday, I claimed that Sarah Palin is "socially horrifying." And I expressed a desire that she continue her socially horrifying behavior.

Today I read that Charles Krauthammer has asked Sarah Palin to "leave the room."

I have as much respect for Mr. Krauthammer as I have contempt for Ms. Dowd, but they are doing the same thing in their imprecations of Ms. Palin. They are condemning her David-like style of fighting. In so doing, Mr. Krauthammer is being First a commentator and Second a conservative.

As a commentator in good standing, Mr. Krauthammer has a vested interest in the social structure Mrs. Palin is undermining with her David-like behavior. For her to behave in a fashion acceptable to Mr. Krauthammer, she must first listen to Mr. Krauthammer, and then she must get his permission to enter or exit the room. And since the other side has a lot more people like him on their side, she will lose. If you doubt this, ask how well Mrs. Palin's interviews with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric worked for her.

This socially horrifying behavior of Mrs. Palin's has been misunderstood by a lot of people. Particularly me. (I thought she was being anti-elitist, but that's not the case.)

By fighting Goliaths in a David-like way, she is undermining the position of folks like Mr. Krauthammer and Ms. Dowd alike. If people can read your Facebook page for yourself, what do you need Mr. Krauthammer or Ms. Dowd for?

As far as I am concerned, I'm fine with Mrs. Palin waiting until she is sitting in the Oval office with veto-proof majorities in both houses of Congress before she invites either Mr. Krauthammer or Ms. Dowd enter the room.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sarah Palin is "Socially Horrifying"

Malcolm Gladwell wrote an essay a while back about how underdogs can win.

Underdogs are called underdogs because the opposition holds all the advantages. Gladwell provides an example of a girl's basketball team composed of shorter girls. The coach found a way to win by adapting unconventional strategies that he adapted from his experience with cricket and soccer. That's how underdogs win. If the other side holds all the advantages, then you will lose if you play the game the other guy's way.

Underdogs win when they can find a way to play the game their way that negates the other guys' advantage. The other guys do not appreciate this and they tend to cry foul.

Let's take a look at the scoreboard and the playing field. The President is a Democrat, as his wacky side-kick. The Democrats have a veto-proof majority in the Senate and a wide majority in the House of Representations. They have all but the networks except one echoing their every talking point. And the Democrats managed to Alinski Mrs. Palin out of the governorship of Alaska.

Meanwhile Half the Republican party is falling over itself to say, "me too."

So, I'd say that Mrs. Palin would qualify as an underdog. And instead of going on the Sunday Morning chat shows or giving interviews with pundits who'll carry her words to the masses, she posts her opinions on Facebook.

Maureen Dowd cried foul last week.

She took a forum, Facebook, more commonly used by kids hooking up and cyberstalking, and with one catchy phrase, several footnotes and a zesty disregard for facts, managed to hijack the health care debate from Mr. Obama.

This is what we call a clue. Mrs. Palin has shown that she can surprise everyone, do things that seem to destroy her future, and then manage to win. When Ms. Dowd whines, "she's cheatin' I'm tellun," you know she's not playing the game her adversaries have laid out for her.

Here's the thing. Mrs. Palin started talking about death panels. And the entire news-government complex started by putting the term in scare quotes. And then they called her a liar. The Messiah In Chief proceeded to say she was Bearing False Witness.

Yeah, but people believe that unemployed hick on the cyberstalking channel instead of their betters like Ms. Dowd, et al. David 1, Goliath 0.

How can this be? ObamaCare is proposed to reduce health care costs. Sick people incur health care costs. Dead people have zero health care costs. And if sick people die sooner that reduces health care costs. Does this mean ObamaCare won't reduce health care costs?

Is there anything in the hundreds of pages the ObamaCare bill that specifically excludes Death Panels? Has any politician suggested adding language to the bill that will specifically exclude Death Panels? I guess a sneering denial will have to do.

When Malcolm Gladwell says:
Arreguín-Toft found the same puzzling pattern. When an underdog fought like David, he usually won. But most of the time underdogs didn’t fight like David.

Later he says:
This is the second half of the insurgent’s creed. Insurgents work harder than Goliath. But their other advantage is that they will do what is “socially horrifying”—they will challenge the conventions about how battles are supposed to be fought. All the things that distinguish the ideal basketball player are acts of skill and coördination. When the game becomes about effort over ability, it becomes unrecognizable—a shocking mixture of broken plays and flailing limbs and usually competent players panicking and throwing the ball out of bounds. You have to be outside the establishment—a foreigner new to the game or a skinny kid from New York at the end of the bench—to have the audacity to play it that way.

Either by accident or design, Sarah Palin has fought ObamaCare like David fought Goliath. I have no idea whether she can keep it up. I hope so, because we've got years of Democrats playing the role of Goliath ahead of us.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Religion For Decorative Purposes

The Ten Commandments include the 3rd commandment that says not to use the name of deity "in vain." Orthodox Jews keep this commandment by writing G-d. And I think anyone who says, "God" or "Jesus Christ" as part of an oath or curse is violating this commandment. But after reflecting on the commandment, another sense of meaning occurred to me. (If you can find anything in the Bible that contradicts this, you should believe that and not what I'm about to say.)

The Bible says not to use the name in vain. I've also heard the commandment translated not to use the name "in a useless fashion" or an "empty way." And I don't think there's any question that this is what the commandment is getting at.

But consider another use of the word "vanity" and that's the furniture or bathroom figure one uses when applying makeup. We use a vanity to maintain our outward appearance. Beauty being only skin deep and all that.

Jesus complained early and often about the Pharisees whom he called play-actors or hypocrites. He condemned the shallowness of their religion. They were all about appearances without much concern about inward attitudes. He spoke of polishing the outside of the cup while leaving the inside dirty. Whited sepulchers and all that.

They used religion as a Decorative item. And that's what I think the 3rd Commandment is strongly condemning. Thou Shalt Not use the Name as Decoration.

This is a trap for anyone who goes to church more than twice a year. For one thing, it's easy to represent oneself as being somewhat pious while inside you're not entirely incorporating the character of Christ into your inner being. (Or if you're Jewish, internalizing the Torah.) Instead, you go to church and you act like you're not as desperately wicked as you know your heart to be.

I noticed when I was in Shipshewana, Indiana a couple weeks ago that there are many businesses run by Christians. They don't hide their Christianity. That's OK. But anyone familiar with families knows that the children can have a different relationship (or no relationship) with God than their parents. What if keeping up appearances is good for business? I worry that if the kids don't share their parents' Christianity, then after they inherit the business they'll feel a need to fake it: Keep up the facade of Christianity and use it as decoration. If that happens, and I hope it doesn't, it will be a violation of the Third Commandment.

Then there is Politics. One candidate for President last year ran in the Republican primaries on the premise, "Vote for me because I'm Baptist." I am Baptist and I like Baptists and I could probably enjoy an evening of non-alcoholic beverages and conversation with this man and have a great time. But I voted against him because I think having the same religion as me is a bad reason for me to vote for anybody. (Besides, he ran Arkansas as much like a socialist as Bill Clinton did before him.)

Politicians always like to be seen in church. Before Billy Graham got too old, every President make a point of getting a photo op with him. I think that any politician's religious display is suspect, and I look to see whether he's using God's name in the vain pursuit of political ends.

After Bill Climpton lost the governor's race he was in the choir every Sunday sitting where the TV cameras would pick him up. I don't think he did that because he wanted to sing more hymns.

Finally, take the recent behavior of the man currently holding the office of the President. Does his use of religion violate the 3rd Commandment? It depends upon how deep his rhetoric goes to his personal character. If he says one thing and does another once or twice, that's one thing. (A sinner should have the space to repent.) If it's a pattern of behavior, that's another thing.

Let's say that I tell you that we are all our brother's keeper. That's true. Though you can say that all men are brothers, I happen to have three siblings, two brothers and a sister. If I had millions and they were living on welfare or in a dirt-floor shack, I'd do something tangible for them. If Barak Obama believes "I am my brother's keeper," then why does his brother live in a shack in Kenya?

This whole moral argument for nationalized health care (yes, he is calling it something else) that the President has launched in the last few days reeks of hypocrisy and desperation. If it were anything more than cynical manipulation, he would have started with moral arguments, not trotted them out after he'd already lost the Blue Dog Democrats. The effort is so transparently hypocritical that only Democrats could possibly fall for it.

If you're running for office, don't use religion for Decorative Purposes. (This goes especially for Sarah Palin who has been endowed by her Creator with enough decoration already.) Internalize your faith and make it integral to your inner character. Then live that out. You might not win, but you'll do better than that, you'll do the right thing.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


There's something about asymmetrical warfare. If you can use a cheap rocket propelled grenade to take out a tank, then you've got an advantage because it costs a lot more to replace the tank than it does to buy more RPGs.

For almost a year now, the entire media-government-political complex has been obsessed with one thing: destroy Sarah Palin by any means necessary. Their goal is to get her to follow Dan Quayle's example and slink quietly away to wherever it was in flyover country that he came from.

And it has been somewhat effective. If her name comes up in casual conversation, half the things attributed to her were instead uttered by Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live. In the hospital today, I saw her face on a magazin cover with the word DIVORCE plastered on her. There's a full court press that's been ongoing nonstop well after the election and well after her departure from the office of Governor of Alaska.

But something funny has started happening. Mrs. Palin got a facebook account. And she's been posting to it. Now, when I post something here, I figure maybe a couple friends might see it and it goes no further. But when Sarah Palin posts to her facebook page, there's a lot of people who notice and read it. This includes people who have heard the latest scurrilous rumors and are hoping for a juicy tidbit, and the uncommitted middle who are wondering why the Dems and their media lapdogs are hyperventilating.

Everyone who sees her facebook posts can see for themselves that Sarah Palin is not Tina Fey. She doesn't write like she's an idiot, how can that be?

This is leverage. It costs Sarah Palin nothing but her time to write up a facebook post. Contrast that with the money it takes to run a big astroturfing campaign and to marshal the efforts of state-run media to get the Dems' message out.

But Mrs. Palin's facebook posts will languish in obscurity unless something drives traffic to her site. And what better to drive traffic than the morbid curiosity of watching a train wreck. Come on Democrats, you know she's caribou Barbie white-trash, keep coming back to see her say something embarrassing, like "death panels." And read every word for some little clue, or tidbit of gossip about her marriage. Check back early and often.

And you Democrats know that if you don't stop demonizing her, she'll be a viable political figure in 2012. You can't have that. Perhaps you should shop around some more rumors about her family.

Try not to notice you're making people curious to find out more about the target of your Two Minute Hate.

Monday, August 17, 2009

What I learned making an epub eBook

I happen to own an Amazon Kindle and a SONY Reader. I've taken it upon myself to learn out how to make every eBook that I own readable on both devices. Sadly, the only eBook format that works on both devices is PDF. But PDF expects a specific page size and my readers happen to have different display sizes. I've decided to convert everything on my Amazon Kindle to MOBI format and everything on my SONY Reader to epub format.

Removing DRM from eBooks is a violation of Federal law or maybe just talking about it is. So, I've been messing about with Gutenberg texts. And other freely available texts. A couple days ago I stumbled upon a CD-ROM full of Puritan texts. I saw one and decided to convert it into an ebook. I intended to use Calibre to convert the ebook from epub to mobi. But first, I'd have to make a good looking epub file.

The first thing I learned was that the CD-ROM wasn't as good as the web, b/c the book was in PDF and it was easier to start with this html.

The first thing I learned was that WinZip can read epub files, because epub files are just zip files with a differently named extent. Just put all the HTMLs in a zip, rename the file extent. And add a few "extras." (I'll come back to this.)

The second thing I learned was that the epub file may look good in Calibre and on the Kindle, but fail miserably on the Sony Reader. The next step was to figure out how to validate the epub. And I found this site helpful.

The validation process told me the obvious: convert html to xhtml. Mostly by changing all <br> elements to <br/> and all <hr> elements to <hr/>. And the error messages eventually directed me to all but one fix that I needed to make.

If your HTML has any illegal characters, e.g. an accented 'e' like this, é, you'll get absolutely no help figuring out what the bad character is or where it occurs. You'll want to convert it to an escaped version: &#233; or you'll get a useless error message like this: "I/O error reading" without any clue as to where or what the problem is.

After you get an epub that passes validation. You're not done, because the SONY has a limitation. It can't handle any single chapter that's more than 100k in size. Thus you'll have to split all the content into pieces that are smaller than that.

Let's suppose you've got a set of cherry XHTML files in a zip file. It's still not an epub file until you've added the extras I mentioned above. You'll need to add files named:

1) mimetype that holds "application/epub+zip"
2) toc.ncx that defines a table of contents
3) content.opf that defines the contents of the epub.
4) container.xml that names content.opf

These extras were a little intimidating for me to dream up from scratch. So I cheated. I used Calibre to convert a tiny PDF to epub. Then I started replacing and extending the parts and pieces until I had replaced the tiny PDF's content with the desired book's content. Moving step by step through the various files, I could study each change in isolation and get an idea of why things worked or didn't.

In the end, if you're going to mess about with Gutenberg ebooks, you really want to put the extra effort into making them look pretty. This means googling around to find an picture of the book's cover. Or if you're artsy, design your own cover. Or if you've got the book in dead-tree format & scan it. And then there's the business of setting up the table of contents. I think you'll want to aim for a table of contents that fits on a single screen. Finally, you'll want to properly identify the book's publisher and isbn number. I usually look up the book on Amazon and copy whatever metadata I find there. Quality is a matter of attention to detail.

This is my latest foray into the realm of "bookmaking" and I know I've got a lot of learning to do.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

More Stupid Republicans, Please

You can tell the difference between a Republican who's going to lose a political contest from one who's going to win by one simple criterion: How stupid is he?

We all know that Ronald Reagan was an amiable dunce who somehow managed to win two presidential elections by landslides and win the Cold War, then hand the presidency to his Veep (who demonstrated how much smarter he was when he called Reagan's domestic policies "voodoo economics"), George H W Bush.

Eight years after that mental colossus was defeated, his doltish son, an alcoholic frat boy or something, George W Bush, ran for president. This man was so stupid he ended up controlling both houses of Congress and the White House.

That's some kind of stupid, huh?

Now, younger Bush might have been called "stupid" by the press, but that doesn't mean he was a Conservative or a Reaganite. And his statist propensities persuaded the Libertarian bloc of the Reagan coalition to look elsewhere. Nevertheless, Bush was a lame duck and there was no need for him to be stupid any longer.

(One delightful irony is to read Jonah Goldberg's book "Liberal Fascism" and see him squirm at the question of whether Bush was a fascist. When you hear "Big Government Conservatism" just think fascism and it be clear. No, this isn't what the lefties saying, "Bushitler," had in mind.)

Then the Republicans figured that disloyalty and craven media pandering was exactly what the party needed to reward and they nominated the smartest guy in the room (just ask him) John McCain. (This was the point where I quit calling myself a Republican.)

Somehow the boffins running the McCain campaign screwed up. They thought, "if the Democrats have an affirmative-action presidential nominee, we'll counter with an affirmative-action vice-presidential nominee. Little did they know, that Sarah Palin was not going to be a hick non-entity that politely (and quietly) provided eye-candy while McLame lost the election.

Mrs. Palin did what she was hired to do. She got guys like me to pull the R lever on election day. Don't blame me, I voted for Sarah and what's his name.

She also drove the lefties, the Democrats, and the media elites nuts. Which is a blessing really. I used to take National Review and the Trojan-Horse Conservative commentators they publish seriously. I know better than to heed them now, thank you, Sarah.

You see, Sarah Palin, is stupid.

If she were only as smart as I am, she'd have done what I expected her to do: Demonstrate she can run Alaska for the next two years then move on to something bigger. Instead, she quit the governorship, citing spurious ethics complaints and slanders. Just a fortnight later, when someone said she was divorcing her husband, private-citizen Palin could sue the fellow for slander. And after the fellow's remarkable implosion, slanderers have to be more circumspect. Haven't heard anything about ethics complaints, either.

And Sarah Palin is stupid because she used two words, "Death Panels."

This was a horrible thing to say. Republicans could call Obama socialist, and point how much ObamaCare was like national socialism, but doing so runs afoul of Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies. Instead, she said, "Death Panels," and everyone felt the words like blood red painted fingernails on chalkboard.

The lefties caught the vapors. Some fainted and the rest said, "that Palin has gone too far." The Trojan-Horse Conservative commentariate nodded in agreement, knowing how embarrassed they'd be at the next Beltway cocktail party. "There are no Death Panels in this bill... There are?.. Uh, let me get back with you on that."

It even gave pause to union thugs busting heads of Tea Partiers at town-hall meetings.

Death Panels. The AARP is a key front group for the Democrat party. Their leadership had been bought off along with everyone else. BUT the words "death panels" wonderfully concentrated the mind of anyone aged and infirm. When you're stupid like Sarah Palin, you realize a sick geezer will cost ObamaCare money, but a dead one won't.

Death Panels forced the AARP to listen to their members. They could either go along with their Obama, or they could lose their credibility as an advocate for the aged. And geezers vote. Sorry, Barry.

Thus Death Panels have been struck from ObamaCare. (I wonder what else is in this bill my Congressman & Senators have not read.) Who'd of thought that old folks were the exact point where political pressure could be most effectively applied?

Sarah Palin sure is stupid, isn't she? I wish more Republicans were stupid like that.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Amazon Kindle DX

Wednesday night after the writers group I was chatting with some friends. One of them said, "You should read The Yiddish Policemen's Union." And I agreed, I should. It's been a couple people who've recommended that book to me, and I'd agreed then, too.

This time, I thought, "Ho, Ho, this will be good." I excused myself and ran out to my car, I retrieved my Amazon Kindle DX. This is a fairly pricey bit of kit, but I'm a gadget fiend and my wife is tolerant of my excesses. I returned and sat down to show my friend the ultimate coolness.

I turned on the Kindle's radio and patiently waited for a connection to the Kindle store. Finally, it came back and I entered into the search box, "The Yiddish Policemen," figured that was enough and hit enter. A short wait. Nothing.

I tried something else. The Kindle isn't the easiest thing to type on so I kept thinking I'd typoed or something. No joy. Then I tried "Chabon" and I got a few hits. I found a hyperlink from the Amazon page to everything written by "Michael Chabon." It came back with a list of three books.

None of them were anything I'd ever heard of, and all the books that I had heard of were absent.

"Way to go, Amazon." Then I realized they were just reflecting the decision of the publisher. "Way to go, Harper Collins." Instead of gloating about what a great device the Amazon DX was, we went back to the previous conversation about what makes a corporation "evil" and what Amazon did last month deleting "1984" off customers' Kindles without permission.

This is what's known as a market failure. I was quite willing to pay whatever Harper Collins was willing to charge to buy a copy of this book. They weren't willing to sell it, but there are other books in the world I can read.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Two Revolutions

Please forward this to and flag it "fishy."

If you're a student of history, you may have heard of "The American Revolution" and if the scope of your historical interest is restricted to the 20th Century, you may have heard of "The Russian Revolution." If you think there is no difference between the two, you may believe recent propaganda emanating from state-run media.

A few months ago, President Obama claimed that he was the only thing standing between the bankers and the mobs. This was when the only "tea party" anybody had heard of was in Boston. Now I'm watching "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" and the perpetrator is a former Baader-Meinhof gang member fomenting Revolution through domestic terrorism. The writer had the terrorist conflate his Marxist direct-action with the tea-party rallies.

This week Democrats called Tea Partiers "Nazis," and Republicans called the government-worker union members who roughed up Tea Partiers "brown shirts." Good work guys. I call "Godwin's Law."

Once upon a time I was interviewed for a security clearance. They put me on a polygraph machine and asked if I'd ever been a communist or supported any communist cause. I had to answer, "yes" or "no." My answer then and now is, "No."

This was in 1980. Hitler and the Nazi party had died a decade before I was born. Then I was asked if I had ever been a fascist or supported a fascist political party. This question made absolutely no sense. I tried to make sense of it. I did intend to vote for Reagan and he was pretty far to the right.

So, I asked, "What's a fascist?" I had no idea what fascism meant then. My inquisitor explained that he was asking about the guys Hitler palled around with. And I answered, "No," only because "Hell, No," wasn't allowed. Apparently the boffins at the NSA had seen "The Boys From Brazil" or "They Saved Hitler's Brain."

The trouble is that almost everyone is ignorant of what fascism is. It's all that Hitler stuff, right? Presumably, National Socialism was not a form of Socialism? And those who oppose Socialism, in the form of socialized medicine at a Federal level, do not belong to that socialist heresy that competes with Stalinist Communism?

This is absurd because of the blood libel that Leftists have perpetrated against Conservatives and Libertarians for all my life. Nazis are Socialists. They're a different kind of Socialist than Communists, but they are socialists nonetheless.

If someone says William F. Buckley, or Ronald Reagan, or Rush Limbaugh is a crypto-fascist, ask yourself the question, "What Would Adolph Do?" Would he cut your taxes? Would he shrink your government? Would he RIF federal employees? Would he support the NRA? Would he treat you like a citizen not a subject? Did any of these things happen in Nazi Germany? No, all opposites happened there.

It's called "Totalitarian" government for a reason.

Here's the entire matter in a nutshell: How much government do you want? Do you want a lot more government? Or do you want less government? The American Revolution threw off the British Crown to get less government. The Russian Revolution threw off the Czar and they got a LOT more government. Same with the French Revolution. Tea partiers are engaging in political activism.

They're being regarded as Revolutionaries, but they don't realize their opposition is the one overthrowing the American government with force and violence.

People think that because Tea Partiers oppose Obama's socialism that they're Republicans. Bad news for you GOP. They're sick of your me-too socialism. There's more pent-up demand for less government than any time I've seen since the Carter years. If that pent-up demand cannot find an outlet, reread the Declaration of Independence.