Friday, August 20, 2010

You Want to Build What Where?

It's the first part of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." A right guaranteed before freedoms of speech, press, and assembly.

So I'll start by saying that from a Constitutional, and patriotically American standpoint, you can build a mosque wherever you want.

But I'll also provide some free advice and say that you might be asking for drama if you're not careful.

Barack recently said: "Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. And that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances."

While I agree with Barack, the two words that struck me were "lower Manhattan." The conceivers and proponents of the proposed mosque at 51 Park Place didn't just want to build a community center in "lower Manhattan." They deliberately selected a location only 600 feet from 6 World Trade Center. So for Barack to use words like "lower Manhattan," instead of "2 blocks from Ground Zero," is a slight misnomer. And an intentionally slight misnomer.

The location was chosen specifically to be near the WTC. It wasn't just a lower Manhattan mosque that coincidentally was also close to the WTC.

They chose the location with benevolence. They don't want to make a pro-terrorist statement. They're trying to make a pro-Islam statement. One of the mosque's biggest sponsors is Feisal Abdul Rauf, who seems to think that building the mosque can help strengthen the bond between Islam and the West.

But this is a foolish and stupid way to try to accomplish such a goal.

Unlike Bill Maher, I don't blame religion for what people do with their religious beliefs. Not all Muslims are terrorists. Most aren't. Some people are monstrous on their own, and they use religion, nationalism, anything, in order to psychologically justify their wrongdoing by painting it with a brush of morality. They often use words like "cleansing," and "purifying." When leaders use terms like that, it's time to worry. That's why Billy Mays infomercials always freaked me out.

Some have described the building of this mosque as "arrogant." As a "slap to the face." As "insensitive." I think it's essentially innocent. I'd classify it as misguided.

If guys like Rauf are trying to unite Islam and the West, then this is an incorrect way to go about it. Somebody made the comparison to a German culture center built adjacent to a concentration camp. And that's not too dissimilar. German culture is not inherently bad or good. Germans don't, by definition, hate Jews. But many of them did, and they did something horrible with that hatred, in the name of German culture. To paraphrase the NRA, cultures don't kill people, people kill people.

But I don't this mosque would be, as Newt Gingrich described: "like putting a Nazi sign next to the Holocaust Museum."

It's called a Swastika, Newt, and everyone knows that. And it's not quite that directly provocative. This is merely ignorant hyperbole.

A better way to unite Islam and the West would be to build a memorial to the innocent Muslims killed in the 9/11 attacks. And there were a few dozen, including police cadet and paramedic Mohammed Salman Hamdani, whose remains were found in the rubble of the North Tower, next to his medical bag.

We forget that the 9/11 terrorists indiscriminately murdered Muslims on September 11th. If we remember things like that, "us" and "them" will become "we."

If you want to unite (what you see as) two cultures, you have to treat them as one. And if you want to improve relationships between those two cultures, then you have to consider the perspectives of both. About 2/3 of Americans oppose this idea. More than half of New York City residents oppose it. So far, this mosque has done more dividing than unifying. Even the 1/3 of Americans and slightly less than half of New Yorkers who don't have a problem with the mosque, probably aren't feeling more unified by it.

It's ridiculous that people in Oregon are being polled for their opinions regarding a proposed religious building in Manhattan. Then again, it's ridiculous to want to build a mosque 600 feet from Ground Zero. Or at the very least, it's provocative, in that it's meant to provoke some sort of reaction.

I for one don't particularly care, except that it seems like everyone else cares. I started caring when the President of the United States once again chimed in on an issue that should be handled by city-level government.

All the defenders of this mosque, at least the ones I've heard and read, have been quoting the Constitution and citing precedents of religious freedom. And while that is all true, and is why the mosque can be built. Very few people have discussed why it should be built. What is trying to be achieved, by intentionally selecting such an interesting location? What are the goals of this mosque? We've heard overtures and vague sentiments, but I've yet to hear the explicit reasons for selecting this location.

I've read some defenders argue that two blocks is hardly next door. "do you have any concept of how far two blocks is in a city like New York" asked Joyce Pines of the Kalamazoo Gazette. It's slightly over one tenth of a mile, or 600 feet, or less than a minute walk away. That's close. And the building that will be replaced by the mosque was struck by United 175's landing gear after it plowed through the South Tower. That's close.

In one poll, 68% of Americans opposed this mosque. But 61% also felt as though it had a right to exist. We as Americans have the right to build mosques pretty much wherever we want. And we also have the right to disagree with the building of a mosque. And all these rights, opinions, and freedoms are part of what the 9/11 hijackers hated about us.

I'm afraid as an instrument of unification and connection, this mosque has failed. It'll sadly be the target of vandalism and scorn by an ignorant minority. And that will further deepen the sense of separation. So I think this mosque most certainly has the right to exist and operate. But it will divide what it's trying to unify. Rather, it already has.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Barack's War

How many American soldiers have "won" Purple Hearts since Barack won his Nobel Peace Prize? How many American soldiers have died serving their "Peaceful" President? About 300 since he won that meaningless award.

How many nuclear weapons have been dismantled since then? How has North Korea behaved? How have things been going in Israel/Palestine/Canaan lately? The only thing Barack has done to foster World Peace is to ensure that China never declares war on the US, for fear that their debts wouldn't get repaid.

The US isn't "losing" in Afghanistan. They're not being pushed back, driven out, and the causalities haven't been atrociously high. Then again, June saw the most US combat deaths than any of the other 106 months of the war. And October of '09, the month that saw Barack awarded the NPP, was the second bloodiest.

But the US isn't winning, either. How can I tell? Don't you think you'd be hearing Barack and the Democrats gloating if we were winning?

There's nothing stronger than a soldier of the United States armed forces. But the War in Afghanistan is more about public relations than strength of arms. It's more about not being offensive, as opposed to taking the offensive. It's more about tact than attacking. One or two more Wars like this one, and the US Army will attach Human Resource representatives to every platoon.

Would the Allies have defeated the Nazis if they were simultaneously trying to win the hearts and minds of the German people?

Barack should understand unwinnable situations by now. That's what his Healthcare Reform campaign turned into. And that's the kind of wall he was up against with Afghanistan.

He couldn't just pull out, and look like a soft President. After all, even Liberals have been supportive of our operations in Afghanistan. And it's much harder than you think to pull out of a war that hasn't yet been clearly won or lost. You get people asking "What did we sacrifice so much for over the last 8 years?" You get mocked for "cutting and running."

He couldn't just leave things as they were, and allow US soldiers to die as our grip on the region slipped away.

He can't stay there forever, either. No President could.

So he implemented a surge, threw out an arbitrary deadline, and turned an unwinnable political situation into one that he could not lose. He'll be lauded for trying, then lauded for either victory or for extracting us from the War.

He also fired a General for making fun of him in Rolling Stone. An interesting move for a Commander in Chief, to remove a theater commander for remarks made in a publication with this as the cover:

God Bless America!

It's much easier to pull out of a war after fully committing your resources to it and coming up short. People will get tired, and only the most sadistic of Hawks will want to "finish the job." But most people will realize that the job cannot be completed. They'll support a withdrawal.

Or he'll win. And won't that stick in the craw of Conservatives? Don't get me wrong, Barack definitely wants to win in Afghanistan. He's not just playing a game of political chess with the lives of American soldiers. But imagine if by some miracle the US wins this War. Come November, the Republicans wouldn't stand a chance in any contested election for any office.

But the US cannot win this particular War. It reminds me of so many other Wars in history, where even strategic triumph wouldn't result in any real victory. The American Revolution, for instance. Even if the lobsterbacks had annihilated the Continental Army, they'd have to govern America as subjugated territories, not amenable colonies. Washington's armies could have been crushed, but the anti-British sentiment in the 13 colonies was unbeatable.

And no, I'm not comparing the Taliban to the Continental Congress. But the situations are similar. To the average person living in the Afghan countryside, the US must seem like just one of many factions vying for dominance in the most geographically fucked up corners of the world. That tribesman doesn't care about 9/11, or his right to vote for some corrupt politicians. He just wants to feed his family. He'll support anyone that helps him do that, fight anyone that prevents him, and ignore anyone that does neither.

If enough of the people of Afghanistan wanted the Taliban out, they'd be out. The Army and Marines might physically be capable of destroying them, but not the ideas that have kept them in power. Nor can any military action CREATE a desirable government. And any obliteration of the Taliban would have to include the obliteration of many Afghan civilians. Warfare is an inexact science, which is why it should only be attempted when the victory is worth the total cost.

Meanwhile, North Korea, an actual threat to our interests and our allies, is getting bolder. Our armed forces and our people have grown weary of war, and I'm concerned that even if it becomes necessary on the Korean peninsula, the Nobel laureate will be either unwilling or unable to commit US forces to their 3rd war in 10 years.

I'll reluctantly defend Barack for his War in Afghanistan. But I'll also ferociously attack anyone who purports him to be a champion of peace.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

When Will the Recession Recede?

I'll concede that Barack was given a full plate when he was elected. A Marlon Brando portion of things to digest. We were deep into two wars, with a crashing economy, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Since his election, he's had to deal with things like one of the worst man-made disasters ever, the immigration issue, healthcare reform (although he started that fight), and the "stupidity" of the Cambridge Police.

That all being said, he made the big promises. He was Change personified. He was Hope incarnate. He'd fix the economy, extract us from wars while keeping our dignity, he'd reform healthcare, he'd save us from the apparent tailspin we've been sent on by George W. Bush.

Maybe it's just me and my gloomy pessimism. But not even Barack could bring our economy back to where it was, or where it's been since World War II. He can, however, make it worse. And that's what he's doing. Inadvertently, of course.

We've had a bubbilicious economy lately. Big ups, big downs, but with a generally upward trend. Like Oprah's weight. But it's all been part of a massive superbubble. The World War II Bubble. The War fueled unprecedented growth and prosperity for America. We built all the planes and tanks. We provided the gasoline. We sold the ships. We lent the money. The US produced 40% of the world's weapons during the War.

Then after the War, we didn't have to rebuild. We sold industrial machinery to Europe and Japan for them to restore their infrastructure. We also sold them the finished products. And again, we lent them the money.

But the world's caught up. And industrially speaking, the US has fallen behind. So now instead of steady growth with the occasional hiccup, our growth is rapid, followed by quick contractions, then fast growth, then fast retractions. Our economy has stretch marks and loose skin. We've morphed from the stable tortoise to the impetuous hare.

We want to get back to where we were. And the Liberals think they know how to do this: Socialism Lite.

The latest push has been to extend unemployment benefits. A lot of people who lost their jobs in the latest economic fracas are seeing their benefits expire. Those benefits had been extended once before. Back then, it was thought by Barack and his cadre of optimists that the unemployment rate would peak at slightly over 8%, then gradually reduce itself. Instead, it's been fairly steady, and over 9%.

This chart is an estimate from late '09.

Barack will publicly pat himself on the back for how many jobs he and his programs have saved. But I don't remember his "Institutional 9.5% Unemployment" speech on the campaign trail. He promised more.

The idea of unemployment benefits is not only to keep people alive, it's to stabilize the system, to keep the bad times from getting really horrid. It keeps people involved as participants in the economy: buying food and clothes, renting apartments, etc. So when things get better and jobs become available, they can rejoin the workforce without missing a beat.

Most of the time, unemployment is paid for by taxing employers, so it functions as insurance. The employees and employers regularly pay a small, manageable amount, and therefore protect themselves in case of disaster.

The only thing I don't like about unemployment benefits is that it's based on income. So a middle manager who made $100k a year will receive a bigger check than the janitor who made $20k when their company goes under. This capitalist-socialist mutant is an abomination, a sin against nature. Unemployment is to subsist people between jobs, and it costs the same for a janitor to feed himself as it does for a middle manager.

And in this current climate, the government is essentially subsidizing some people to NOT get jobs. It's that ex-middle manager with that $100k salary and the bigger unemployment check that will hold out for another $100k job, instead of taking one with a $40k salary. It's basic common sense that those $100k jobs are an endangered species in this contracting economy. So it follows that those $100k types will have to find jobs that pay less. If Mr. Executive were receiving the same meager unemployment benefits as Mr. Janitor, you can bet your ass he'd take a $40k job pushing paper.

But there's a problem. When does a temporary benefit to tide people over between jobs turn into a permanent government dole? And where does the money for extended benefits come from?

Having 9% of the country getting weekly government checks for doing nothing for an extended period of time is a destructive concept. Doesn't the government spend enough money paying its own employees to do nothing? The money has to come from somewhere. And it's coming from debt. "Treasury Bills" is the politically expedient way to phrase it, but "selling" treasury bills is a misleading way of saying "borrowing money."

I have no problem with extending benefits right here and right now. But this has got to be it. And there needs to be reform that forces middle and upper class people to take lower paying jobs when they can. To issue a $500 weekly check to someone who's been offered $900/week to work is utterly disgusting. They can take a step down and work while they try to find another lucrative job.

But we need to adjust here. We are not going to go back to the way things were. Not permanently, at least. Barack and the Liberals can distribute temporary relief. They can borrow from China and give everyone free healthcare. But that bubble will only burst with more explosiveness.

As we add more and more social programs, issue more and more benefits, we're jumping off a burning ship into shark infested waters. We're trading one problem for another. Instead, we should be trying to put the fire out, and limp along in our burnt out vessel. Our economy will never be the same. And the more Barack tries to bring us back to where we were, the more he hastens the ultimate destruction of the American economy.

Then again, I'm morbidly pessimistic. But just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Don't Bring a Gun to a Wordfight

Don't bring knives to a gunfight either. Or better yet, if wielding a knife, don't fight with someone toting a gun.

But the real battle over this flotilla debacle won't be fought with metal batons, or guns, or paintballs, or knives. It'll be fought with words, and the usage of words.

Just a quick summary of events, and I'll try to present the sequence as unbiased and factual as possible, then proceed to my opinions and observations.

1. A group of ships carrying several hundred pro-Palestinian activists, as well as 10,000 tons (I'm doubting this number, it's what the AP is saying, but that's a lot. I'd venture that the ship had a tonnage of 10,000, which is pretty big) of supplies, were headed toward the Gaza Strip.

2. The Gaza Strip has been blockaded by Israeli naval forces for 3 years. The Israelis offered to allow the ships to unload any humanitarian aid cargo, which would then be transported into the Strip after inspection. Keep in mind, simple building materials like concrete are considered contraband by the Israelis. They also warned the ships not to run the blockade.

3. In the middle of the night, and in international waters, Israeli troops attempted to take control of the boats in the flotilla. On the boat ferrying the most activists (about 600 of the total 700), a violent struggle erupted. Israel reports 9 activists killed, dozens wounded, and at least 6 Israelis wounded.

It should be noted that essentially all information regarding this incident has been disseminated by Israel. An example of such information is this very short video clip:

I purposely used the word "activist" because it's an incredibly vague term. An activist is an active supporter. Active with what? Warren Goldstein, the chair of U-Hartford's history department writing for the Huffington Post credits these activists with an active defense of their ship:

"By tomorrow morning you will be hearing the "official" Jewish community parroting the IDF line, complaining about the nerve of those activists defending themselves in international waters from heavily armed soldiers enforcing an illegal blockade."

I'll give credit to any activists who confronted "heavily armed" soldiers. That takes some balls. But the reason it's brave is because the soldier has a gun. And he might use it. This isn't 17th century chivalric France. A soldier with a gun won't cavalierly say to an activist with a knife, "So it's knives then, eh? I accept your choice of weapon," drop his gun, pull out a knife and then yell "On guard!"

Then again, how much bravery is required for a dozen guys to take on one soldier, who is "heavily armed" with a paintball gun?

And I don't know about anyone else, but if I'm on a ship, and a military helicopter hovering overhead is depositing soldiers onto the deck, I might not be so brave. Unless, of course, I already had a metal club with me. Which miraculously, through remarkably uniform foresight, these "activists" all wield.

And can we stop calling these guys "demonstrators" or "protesters?" Those two words connote nonviolent resistance. They conjure images of lunch-counter sit-ins, and marching in the street. "Activist" is extremely vague, but I can't summon a more applicable term. "Defenders" is too heroic. "Combatants" is too vilifying. But they're not demonstrating for/against anything. And once they hit a soldier, they were no longer protesting anything. They were fighting. Even if it were fighting in self-defense, it's still fighting.

I'll concede Israel's blockade of Gaza is entirely illegal. You know what else is illegal? Killing. Gaza is politically controlled by Hamas, which has been deemed by the US and the EU as a terrorist organization, rightfully so. Because, you know, they kill innocent people. Hamas' own charter includes this Pat Buchanenesque tidbit about Zionists:

You may speak as much as you want about regional and world wars. They were behind World War I, when they were able to destroy the Islamic Caliphate, making financial gains and controlling resources. They obtained the Balfour Declaration, formed the League of Nations through which they could rule the world. They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains by trading in armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state. It was they who instigated the replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council to enable them to rule the world through them. There is no war going on anywhere, without having their finger in it."

That sounds right. The Zionists were behind World War II, which saw how many Jews killed? Makes sense to me. Tell me, why does Hamas need guns and bombs to fight an enemy so blatantly self-destructive?

No matter where you stand on Zionism, to suggest that Zionists fomented World War II to further their cause is certifiably insane.

So Israel enforces a tight blockade of the Gaza Strip. Why? Because it's a good way to keep guns out. Is that so complicated to grasp? But I'll also say that the Israelis need to develop a better blockade. One that allows humanitarian aid in, while keeping the guns and ammo out. Compose a list of accepted foodstuffs that can enter. Keep it simple. No complex chemicals. No fertilizer. Absolutely no metal. But allow Dried rice. Allow Wheat. Water. Penicillin. Aspirin. Et cetera.

Maybe the public attention and international pressure that this incident has brought will convince Israel to allow basic food and medicine to enter the Gaza Strip. I don't think that would be a bad thing at all. Starving people either die or they kill.

You know who else once instituted an illegal blockade? JFK and the US Navy. We call it the Cuban Missile Crisis, and they cleverly dubbed it a "quarantine." But I doubt you'll hear many Liberal eggheads criticize their demigod for that course of action. And rightly so. The US did what was in its best interest for survival, similar to what Israel is doing right now.

Two words that reporters, critics and pundits have incessantly repeated in this whole fiasco:


What are international waters? Well, a country's territorial claims extend 12 miles from its coast. This attack occurred 80 miles from Israel's coast. But a country's exclusive economic zone extends 200 miles. So in some respects it's international waters. In other respects, it's Israeli waters. The AP and the peace-at-all-costs media will not bother to discover this grey area.

Then there's a further consideration, a tactical one. If you're trying to takeover a ship of 600 with only a few dozen commandos with as few casualties as possible, do you do so at night or during the day? Had the Israelis waited for the ships to reach their territorial waters, it would have been broad daylight. Unlike the US's military, Israel's doesn't consult their PR Department when planning an operation.

Two more words you'll hear in opinion pieces this week:


Was it really excessive? Isn't that impossible to know at this point? Warren Goldstein of the University of Hartford again:

"But is there really nothing Israel will not do? Ok, I guess they could have sunk all of the ships. Great. Shall we congratulate the IDF on its restraint...?"

Well if Israel were as EXCESSIVE, relentless, ruthless, aggressive, belligerent, or bellicose as some like Goldstein have suggested, wouldn't they have fired on the ships? Or at the very least, armed their first-wave of commandos with guns that fired bullets instead of paint-pellets?

And what is excessive force? The people who throw these words around tend to have never been in a situation in which their lives were in the balance. They also can't comprehend what it might be like to be in such a circumstance. Rather, they choose not to comprehend what it might be like. They just enjoy critiquing and Monday-morning-quarterbacking the people who find themselves in life/death positions.

The Israeli side of the story, supported by the videotape (they've edited then provided, remember that) suggests that the commandos COULD have been acting in self-defense, and/or in defense of their comrades. You see someone attack your buddy with a knife or a metal club. What do you do? Fret about how much force is excessive? No. You fucking act.

And clearly, the "activists" on the boat weren't demonstrating, or protesting, they were fighting. Again, perhaps fighting in self-defense, but nonetheless fighting.

And I'm not defending the actions of the Israeli commandos either. Because quite frankly, I have no idea how those 9 activists were killed. We don't know. It's impossible to determine if the force used was justified or excessive, or somewhere in between. Of course, the scant facts we do have were quite sufficient for the Turkish government, along with countless other groups and organizations, to denigrate Israel for their actions.

And let's say one, two, even a dozen Israeli soldiers acted inappropriately and used excessive lethal force. Does that mean an entire NATION should be censured?

But how can one assail actions that one can't even accurately describe, let alone understand? All we know is that 9 people died, most likely killed by Israeli bullets. What were the circumstances of these deaths? We don't know yet. In America, unlike certain parts of the world, someone is innocent until proven guilty. Then again, in certain parts of the world, an Israeli is guilty until proven dead.

But all that aside, is it ever justifiable to board and commandeer a civilian ship carrying activists and aid? Even if armed with knives and bats, those are hardly "weapons" in any military or terrorist sense. After all, these vessels were just trying to bring aid to a beleaguered population. Or were they? A spokeswoman for the Free Gaza movement had this to say:

"What we're trying to do is open a sea lane between Gaza and the rest of the world. We're not trying to be a humanitarian mission. We're trying to say to the world, 'You have no right to imprison a million and a half Palestinians.'"

Delivering humanitarian aid was not the mission. This was a stunt, a coup, a stratagem. And for what? To open up the sea lanes to the Gaza Strip. And how many guns, bullets, shells, rockets, and grenades will be funneled through those lanes if opened?

This was a set-up and a trap. This flotilla was "unofficially" backed by a Turkish government, which removed its ambassadors and cancelled joint military exercises so quickly it was as if they'd prepared for this incident a week ago. It was a brilliant way for Turkey's government to appease the anti-Israel elements of its population, without pissing off the US or the EU for doing so. Turkey, Israel's only Muslim ally, has now cut ties. And nobody on either side can really blame them. After all, the lead ship sailed under a Turkish flag.

It's an ingenious piece of political maneuvering, orchestrated with such cunning, guile, and subtlety that it would give Machiavelli a deadly 4+ hour hard-on.

And of course in revisionist America, we think there's a perfect solution to everything. Did we really need to drop the A-Bomb on the Japanese? I mean the war was practically won by that point. And how about the fire bombings of Dresden and Cologne?

The same historians who criticize the framers of the 1938 Appeasement at Munich for not being strong-willed enough, also criticize the strong-willed leaders of 1914 Europe for not appeasing enough. Hindsight is 20/20, and also makes you sound like a pompous ass.

But my point is that in the West, we think we can conjure up the perfect solution to EVERYTHING. And if anything goes wrong, then somebody fouled up. "Botched" seems to be the mot du jour (word of the day). The Israelis captured a boat, and it cost 9 lives. Somebody fouled up. They probably used excessive force.

So now Europe and America will shun Israel for this apparent excessiveness. Couldn't they just not try to stop a 10,000 ton ship headed for a hive of people who consider the very existence of The State of Israel to be an abomination? Or if they did have to stop the ship, couldn't they have done so without killing anyone?

And for the Pro-Palestinian "activists" ranging from Free Gaza to Hamas, this was a resounding victory. Now international pressure will squeeze Israel. In America, Israel's strongest and firmest ally, public support for Israel will wane. Fueled by that hindsight-armed, perfect-solution-seeking media, we'll start to question why we're friends with such reckless and/or ruthless people.

In the end, Israel should also learn from this. Next time, drop cans of tear gas, arm soldiers with tazers. Then again, if an "activist" steals your machine gun, are you supposed to draw your pepper spray? If he stabs your commanding officer, are you supposed to taze him?

And there will be a next time. As two more ships have been sent to try running this blockade.

But this war won't be contested in the Mediterranean. It will be fought within the media. It will be fought with words, not bullets. Words like "activist," and "excessive." Words like "terrorist," and "flotilla."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Immigration Irritation

Imagine being asked to prove your citizenship. "Identification papers, please." Sounds like something out of Nazi Germany. Deine Papieren!. But that's frighteningly close to what will be happening in Arizona, home to some disturbing developments in the never-ending immigration debate.

I'm as white as a bleached snowflake, I'm bio-luminescent, the Sun puts on SPF 45 keep from being burnt by me. So if I were to vacation in Arizona, I doubt my citizenship would ever be questioned. Then again, I could be British or something. Then again, how many cops in Arizona will be patrolling for illegals from Liverpool?

The new legislation in Arizona "requires police to make a reasonable attempt, when practical, to determine immigration status if there is cause to suspect they are illegal immigrants." Now cops can't just walk up to someone on the street and ask for their license. The person has to be previously engaged with the police for some other reason (e.g. traffic stop). At least that's how it seems to be laid out.

But this law just screws everybody: Citizens, illegals, and cops alike. Citizens will get unnecessarily hassled, particularly those of Latino descent. This widens a gap that should instead be shallowing as our so-called melting pot does its work. Obviously illegals will be punished. And the cops who have to enforce these laws will have every single traffic stop scrutinized. "Why did you ask this guy named Rolando to prove his citizenship? How come you didn't ask his buddy Steve?" And we all know how unhesitant people are to accuse cops of profiling:

You can understand where Arizona lawmakers are coming from. The bloody spill over from Mexico's drug wars, and incidents such as the unsolved murder of rancher Robert Krentz (who lived several miles from the border. Investigators tracked a set of footprints from where he was killed back to the border) have scared people down there.

Some illegal aliens are criminals. Liberals won't want to admit that, but it's true. Unfortunately, many Conservatives fail to realize that the best way to obstruct these criminals from entering the country is to open up the border's proverbial doors, and make it easy for honest, hardworking, non-criminal immigrants to legally become Americans. Build an Ellis Island in the desert. Stop illegal immigration by making it legal immigration.

But wait a minute...

It's funny how the same typically Conservative multitudes who fear Mexicans taking their jobs, also hate Barack for fomenting a socialist "Nanny-State." These jerks love capitalism when it puts them on top, hate it when it threatens to put them asunder. But buy the ticket, take the ride.

An equally skilled new-American truck driver might be willing to drive a rig across country for half of what a born-American driver would demand. If you owned a truck company, who would you hire?

Now it sucks for that born-American truck driver, but capitalism has winners for every loser. The owner of the trucking company could expand and hire more workers. Plus the goods shipped would be cheaper at the store. There's no moral right or wrong with capitalism, just profit and loss.

Does being born inside America's borders mean that we're superior to people born in Mexico, or any other country? What does it even mean to be "American?" It's not genetic, or ethnic, or even cultural. I have much more ethnically and culturally in common with Germans and British than I do with most Americans. What does an American look like or sound like? What religion are they? What do they believe in?

To be American is to be free. And freedom is one of the inalienable rights of a human being (to be human is to deserve to be free, to be American is to be free). Yet we restrict people from coming to this country to be free. Does that sound like freedom? No, it sounds like an exclusive club with admission based solely on location of birth. A country club if you will.

Now some people obviously don't belong in America. True criminals. Drug dealers. Smugglers. Murderers; people who have violated the freedoms and rights of others. But with modern technology, isn't it easier to weed these people out and disallow their entry? Then let them tangle with The Minutemen in the middle of the desert, no holds barred.

But there is a massive stumbling block to the idea of open-but-regulated immigration that I've laid out above: Entitlement programs.

It's one thing to let new-Americans compete with born-Americans for jobs. There's a capitalistic and competitive spirit to that. There's a sense of justice when the better worker gets the job. There's also a sense of fiscal reality that the most favorable market value (cheaper worker) wins out.

But when you have so many cumbersome entitlement programs, as we already have now and as we are acquiring more and more, every new-American would enter the country with a price-tag on their heads. A 60 year old woman with arthritis, for example, would become an American at the potential cost of millions of dollars.

Of course, a 25 year old man who can fix cars and is good with computers enters the country with a negative number for a price-tag (meaning he'll put into the system more than he withdraws). This is a guy who will be productive, make money, participate in the economy, start a family, buy a house, et cetera.

But there's a horrid sort of calculus at work here. Do you allow all non-criminal applicants to enter the country, or do you construct a selection process to allow the productive in, and keep the unproductive out? Or perhaps calculate that X number of productive immigrants can support the entitlements of Y number of unproductives.

After all, you don't want to allow in so many unproductive people that the vast apparatus of the entitlement programs are threatened with bankruptcy. Especially as citizens become more and more dependent on these programs.

This is one of the many unfortunate aspects of entitlement programs. Their viability depends on demographic sizes, specifically the size of the paying group relative to the size of the receiving group.

And this is where the Anti-Immigration people hold an unassailable position on very high ground. This is where the Immigration Argument stops. Because it's one thing to convince Americans to allow outsiders into "their" arena. It's quite another to ask them to pay for the outsiders' tickets.

And to the Liberals, you can't have your cake and stay on a diet too. You simply cannot create a socialized state AND open up immigration. It's politically unfeasible. If you don't have open immigration, then it's illegal for some people to be in this country. If it's illegal for them to be here, and they are here, then they're criminals. If they're criminals, they need to be deported. It's stupid to criminalize something like "existing within a set of lines drawn by the Gadsden Purchase of 1853."

But that's essentially what an illegal immigrant is guilty of doing. And that's one of the stresses with socialism.

But back to Arizona, their programs won't work to curb immigration, let alone crimes committed by illegal immigrants. While it's understandable for people to fight their fear with force, it's often not the wisest thing to do.

Moreover, there's a detestable racialist element to Arizona's new law. We should welcome new citizens and old citizens of Latino descent. This legislation will alienate non-aliens. People need to be ingratiated into American society. Their culture should be mixed with "our" own, becoming a distinct yet integral part of that melting pot, or that tapestry, or whatever figurative image you want to use.

The people hurt and alienated by this legislation are Americans. And they have the right to not fear their police. They have the right to walk around their block without their license or government ID on them without fear of being arrested. Even if 100% of those asked for ID by the police turn out to be illegal immigrants, and even if 100% of those cases have copious amounts of just cause, what's relevant is the feeling this law will create and the divisions it will carve.

ALL Americans have the right to feel American.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Jean-Jacques Rousseau once wrote in a letter: "Learn my dictionary, my good friend, if you want to have us understand each other. Believe me, my terms rarely have the ordinary sense."

Throughout history, great thinkers and leaders almost invariably develop their own idiomatic and peculiar ways of conversing. Essentially, they develop their own languages. Words acquire new definitions when these historical giants use them. "Worker" takes on a new meaning when uttered by Karl Marx. "Peace" meant something different to Woodrow Wilson than it did to Kaiser Wilhelm. Thomas Paine's usage of the word "liberty" is stronger than almost anyone else's.

Barack too, has his own definitions for the words he chooses to use. And here I'll humbly attempt to catalog some of them. Although admittedly, I am insufficiently intelligent to truly understand the Barackish language. And so I apologize for my omissions and potential errors. Without further preamble, the meaning of certain terms, according to Barack:

Bipartisanship (noun): when Republicans agree with my policies, and I get to do whatever I want to do

Partisan politics (noun): when Republicans disagree with my policies, and I don't get to do whatever I want to do. I have to debate things :-(

Unity (noun): when everyone in Washington follows my lead

Vitriolic (adj): the manner by which anyone who disagrees with me expresses that disagreement

Look... (verb, used at the beginning of sentences as a command): a warning that I'm about to tell you something you were too stupid to previously know. Example: "Look. You know, what we've done has been successful throughout. I mean, it's not like I've been winning in states that only have either black voters or Chablis-drinking, you know, limousine liberals. I mean, we've been winning in places like Idaho. We've been winning in places like Colorado."

China (noun): an ATM

Town Hall (noun):
1. Before healthcare reform rabble: a forum for the Democrats and I to listen to concerned citizens voice their opinions about healthcare reform.
2. After healthcare reform rabble: an opportunity to paint all conservatives as ignorant and/or racist.

Racist (noun): a Tea Party member

Reform (noun): Always a good thing so long as it's my kind of reform

George W. Bush (noun): The cause of all your problems, and all the debt we're in

This one's my favorite...

Debt (noun): A way to get out of debt

Iraq (noun): A remote corner of the world where we once sent soldiers to fight for obscure, abstract, and wholly unattainable goals. But that was wrong.

Afghanistan (noun): A remote corner of the world where we still send soldiers to fight for obscure, abstract, and wholly unattainable goals. But this is right.

Surge (verb/noun): To increase the amount of US soldiers in a foreign country's war, a good way to seem tough on America's enemies while also winning the Nobel Peace Prize because "surge" sounds better than "escalation"

US soldier's casket (noun): Photo op

Gay rights (noun): The right to file joint tax returns, or visit a partner in a hospital (mention that a lot), but NOT to get married (avoid mentioning that)

Smoking (noun): an activity I may or may not still do

Public support (noun): A nice thing to have, but not necessary when signing massive legislation like healthcare reform

Wall Street (noun): where evil and greed originate, where greedy bankers want to get paid tons of money for their easy, white-collar work

Main Street (noun): where wholesomeness and kindness originate, where non-greedy people want something for nothing, and they deserve it!

Journalist (noun): Someone who works in the media and also agrees with me

Non-journalist (noun): Fox News, or anyone else that dare questions my glory

Franklin D. Roosevelt (noun): God

Hope (noun): something I give everyday to the American people, whether they want it or not

Sanctions (noun): a strategy that almost always works to curb the threat posed by maniacal despotic states

Nuclear Security Summit (noun): what will win me Nobel Prize #2 because we talked a great deal about talking

Economy (noun): something the Government should control

Your life (noun): something people should control, unless they disagree with me, which more and more people seem to be doing. But in the event of disagreement, the Government should control this.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Rationalizing Irrationality

You can look at someone who throws a brick through the windows of a Congrewsswoman's office as deranged, imbecilic, and infantile. The same goes for anyone who makes death threats against their Representatives. Or publishes a website that lists the home address of a lawmaker's brother.

John Boehner (R-Ohio) declared "violence and threats are unacceptable. That's not the American way." Tell that to Sam Adams as he and his cohorts are brewing a cauldron of tar and gathering feathers to forcibly adhere to a tax collector.

I'm not trying to equate (and thereby lionize) today's Tea Party cadres to the Sons of Liberty, but there's an interesting dynamic of rage that's similarly at work in both the 2010s and 1770s.

While most of America - Left, Center, and Right - condemns the irrational acts and threats of violence that have been launched toward certain Democrats, their very existence should alarm everyone that wields power in Washington. America is generally a passive country when it comes to politics. We don't have attacks on polling stations, never have riots or violent protests after elections, and half the nation doesn't vote.

People don't regularly throw bricks into buildings that house offices of those they disagree with. Someone has to have a psychological snap of sorts, allowing them to cross lines and boundaries they'd never normally approach. There's a rage there, and that should not be dismissed, it should be carefully analyzed.

It's difficult, because when one observes some jerk heaving masonry through windows, it's hard to take their cause seriously. Quite the opposite, the "protester" is obviously a fool, and anything they have to say is either ignored, or prejudicially labelled incorrect.

The Democrats are dismissing this rising torrent of political temper tantrums. "Go for it," Barack arrogantly provoked when discussing the possibilities of Republicans running for office under an anti-Healthcare Reform banner.

The Democrats seem to think that having so many loudmouthed, incoherent, silly SOBs against them signifies that they are right, and their opponents are wrong. Even if that were true, it's a dismissive way of ignoring the underlying rage that allows a person to act barbarous.

Why are these people upset? Because they feel unrepresented by their representatives. Disenfranchised. They feel as though Government is attempting to run their lives, that some distant politician is trying to intervene in the fundamental elements of their daily activities.

It's the same kind of rage felt by Bostonians in 1773. And guess what, Barack's Government is dismissing that rage the same way George III's did.

Now, unlike the Lobsterbacks, you're not going to have soldiers quartering in private houses, or blockades of harbors, or any of the other provocations that turned drunken civil unrest in Boston into the Revolutionary War.

It's easy to mock irrationality, and illogic. It's easy to make fun of Carl Everett for dismissing the existence of dinosaurs because they're not mentioned in the Bible. But if you never try to understand how someone could possess such ludicrous beliefs, you'll never be able to defeat them, only outnumber them.

So laugh it up, Jon...

Because while Sarah Palin provides hilarious material, and Glenn Beck's chalkboard should wind up in the Smithsonian as part the TV Comedy wing, next to Archie's chair (for several reasons), there is something not so funny fueling this rage, justified or unjustified. The rage exists. It's very real. It's growing stronger.

Bating the rage will not defeat it. Firefighters don't fight real fires with fire. They use foam and water. Why? Because they understand that foam suffocates fire, depriving it of the oxygen that it needs to survive. The protagonists in zombie movies last 90 minutes because they're able to infer that decapitation kills the zombies (and immortals).

George III's Government didn't understand the angst in colonial Boston. They dismissed it as rabble, irrational and irrelevant. And in a way, it was somewhat irrational. The American colonies were taxed considerably less than every other citizen in the British Empire.

But throughout the history of our planet, political outrage has always been expressed in irrational and unconventional ways. And this can be dangerous. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. For every piece of Leftist legislation that scurries through Congress while 48% of the country dissents, there will quite a backlash.

The Liberals best be careful, for all our sakes. Because irrational people, fueled by rage, can coalesce into powerful mobs. They're capable of unspeakably crazy things, like toss toss leaves in harbors, hurl bricks, and vote Sarah Palin into the White House.

Such an irrational and self-destructive act might be impossible to understand. But you must strive to at least understand the rage that incites such behavior. And maybe look at your rational self in the mirror and say "We need to slow down."

So belittle, bemoan, make your little jokes. But don't someday claim that nobody warned you.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Liberals Think You're Stupid

The cartoon omits the part about 48% of the country hating the bill and only 45% supporting it.

We all know Liberals think they're smart. Everyone thinks they're smart. But Liberals specifically believe not only are they smart, they're smarter than you. So much so, that for your own best interest, THEY should run YOUR lives.

After all, Liberals read the New York Times. You read USA Today, or rather, you look at the color pictures and "analyze" the charts. And that's if you read any newspaper at all. You probably just sit in front of Fox News and think whatever Glenn Beck tells you to think. And that, of course, isn't how Liberals relate to the Times. They just happen to agree with the Times, because they and the Times are both so utterly intelligent.

The thing about us Conservatives is that we really all talk with one voice. What Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin say pretty much speaks for us all. When two or three assholes at a Tea Party rally shout racial slurs, they're representing all of us. If one Conservative is racist and/or ignorant, it logically follows that ALL Conservatives are racist and/or ignorant.

And that's sort of why we need Healthcare Reform, even though about half of us didn't want it. Because the 48% of the United States that doesn't want reform, is wrong. We're stupid. This young woman pretty much speaks for me. She's against Healthcare Reform, I'm against Healthcare Reform, it's probably for the same reasons, right?

The 48% of us just don't get it, do we? We don't want something that's so obviously grand and desirable like Healthcare Reform. How could we be so stupid? Reform means "to improve." Healthcare is a good thing, so what's wrong with improving something good? Only an idiot wouldn't want to make a good thing even better.

Those of us that don't want our insurance premiums OR taxes to go up, we simply fail to understand that the legislation will somehow lower premiums and taxes. And we're just paranoid for fearing that Government estimates of costs are always grotesquely underestimated.

Those of us that want to maintain the quality of our own Healthcare, we're either too selfish to spend our money to pay for someone else's lung cancer treatments OR we just don't understand how forcing insurance companies to accept people with preexisting conditions will lower the cost of insurance. We also don't get the crazy notion that a house insurance company should insure houses that are already on fire.

I'll not discuss the merits, shortcomings, faults, and horrors of Barack's Healthcare plan. It's passed, it's going to happen. Honestly, I'm not too sad. Because if the Republicans can find a decent candidate in 2012, well they'll have endless ammunition to fire. There's just something about us Americans, we don't like it when Government tells us what we should want. We tend to do something about it.

I voted for Scott Brown, so did 1,168,106 of my fellow Massicans. He won an election, in the most Liberal enclave of the country, based on being against these Reforms. So what was Barack and Pelosi's response? To ignore us and go ahead anyway.

Who cares what voters in Massachusetts declared? Apparently a Commonwealth with Harvard and MIT is just as stupid and ignorant as Arkansas and Alabama.

And that's what this Healthcare Reform is all about anyway. It's The Government making decisions for us. Because we're too dumb to do things on our own. At least Bill Maher has the stones to admit what Nancy Pelosi and the rest of those lefty elitists in Washington are thinking.

And I can't say that I disagree with him. People can be really stupid. But isn't that their right? If I don't want to learn about history, I don't have to.

I consider myself to be smart. So why should I be forced to take care of the masses of ignorant (48% according to the Gallup poll on Healthcare Reform) drones out there?

We're too dumb to manage our own lives, yet we're somehow smart enough to select someone who is. Why even hold elections if we're so stupid?

Barack is patting himself on the back for this sweeping, groundbreaking, historic legislative concoction of his. Yet there's no mandate for such dramatic change to occur. More people are against it than for it. And even if the polls are in error, there's certainly no clear or decisive majority driving this legislation through Congress at such breakneck speed.

Barack can spout the word "bipartisanship," but when it comes down to it, he and the Democrats are only interested in bipartisanship if the Republicans happen to agree with them.

Abraham Lincoln famously said that this Government is "Of the people, by the people, for the people." Yet it hasn't listened to the people, it's ignored them. It claims to be working for the people, while at the same time dismissing them.

The loudmouth morons at Town Halls and in Tea Party rallies may be morons, but a moron gets 1 vote, a genius gets 1 vote. We're a lower-case "r" republic, which means that we choose people to REPresent us in Government. Not control us.

At least, that's how it's supposed to work.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Undressing the State of the Union Address

Well, yesterday was Barack's first State of the Union, or as ultracool New York Times readers now call it: SOTU. These are the same people who say "Gitmo." These clowns are obviously too cool for the entire word. Or as they'd put it, TCFTEW.

Anyway, I'd like to quickly address Barack's main points from last night's speech. In a general sense, this was a "Restart Switch" for Barack. The word "healthcare" didn't slip his lips until almost halfway thru (in terms of word count, it was well over 3,000 words in).

This was the life and death issue of the universe the last few weeks. What's changed?

But Barack mostly talked about the economy. I think he's realized that it's what people in the chewy center of this country (politically and geographically) are most concerned about.

"And if we had allowed the meltdown of the financial system, unemployment might be double what it is today."

Thank you, Barack! Finally someone wants to say it. Kind of. For every dumbass that bitches about "a bailout for Wall Street, but not for Main Street," these words should be tattooed to the inside of their eyelids. The banks have mostly repaid their bailout money. Get over it.

Barack spewed a lot of gibberish, mentioning the names of various Anytown, USAs.

Then came the meat of the sandwich. The part of the Address when the President outlined his agenda for the upcoming year.

He mentioned his desire to impose a fee on banks in order to pay for future bailouts.

"I know Wall Street isn't keen on this idea, but if these firms can afford to hand out big bonuses again, they can afford a modest fee to pay back the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need."

Just when I'm starting to like Barack, he goes back to the populist rage BS.

This incessant class warfare incitement has gotten old fast. 'Big bonuses to rich Wall Street fatcats.' Might as well call them Shylock (I'm not implying there's Antisemitism, it's just an allusion to the centuries old tradition of despising anyone who lends money) This is a nice sentiment, to force banks to pay for their own protection. But at the same time, who'll shoulder the burden of these fees? Customers.

Make banks pay to insure themselves. It can be presented that way without all the anticapitalist rhetoric.

It's not a bad idea, really, but there are costs. The big banks aren't going to stop paying big bucks to their highly sought after execs. They'll simply charge you more to use an ATM.

"Because of the steps we took, there are about two million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed. 200,000 work in construction and clean energy. 300,000 are teachers and other education workers. Tens of thousands are cops, firefighters, correctional officers, and first responders. And we are on track to add another one and a half million jobs to this total by the end of the year."

They saved government jobs. Which is all well and good, but at what cost? He repeated, like a machine gun, how he'd cut taxes. So with taxes down, and spending up, where's the money for these jobs come from? China. Which is where he also doesn't want our jobs to go. But they'll be collecting interest on the ruinous debt we incur to keep those jobs here. So the Chinese won't need to work.

Word of the day: myopia. Definition: nearsightedness, an inability to see things that are far away.

Then Barack talked about generating jobs.

" find out that even though banks on Wall Street are lending again, they are mostly lending to bigger companies. But financing remains difficult for small business owners across the country.

So tonight, I'm proposing that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat. I am also proposing a new small business tax credit – one that will go to over one million small businesses who hire new workers or raise wages. While we're at it, let's also eliminate all capital gains taxes on small business investment; and provide a tax incentive for all businesses, large and small, to invest in new plants and equipment."

Now I love the taxcuts. I'm almost always for a taxcut on anyone, even if it's not me. Taxcuts never hurt anyone but government bureaucrats.

But Government doesn't know anything about banking. It never has. The proposition of disbursing $30B to small businesses (through "community banks") sounds like a pretty idea, but there are thorns on that rose. Who determines who gets that $30B and under what terms?

If big banks, which are driven by the motive to profit, and are run by people who've spent lifetimes determining what loans are good and what loans are bad. If these guys are staying away from small businesses, doesn't that suggest that it's not a safe bet?

So essentially, the money the Government lent to the big banks, because of their failed risks, will be risked once again in investments that even the big banks find unsavory in this environment.

Makes sense to me.

Barack went on with infrastructure talk.

God, damn all the history teachers in this country to hell! The two weeks each one of them forces students to worship the New Deal are the cause of the Democrats' notion that those programs reinvigorated the US economy, instead of World War II (a war fought by the Allies with American vehicles, American equipment, fueled by American gasoline, transported on American ships, all of which was paid for by borrowing from America). Barack fancies himself the 21st century's FDR.

Unfortunately, he essentially is this century's FDR, who is so utterly overrated. FDR is the Brett Favre of Presidents.

Except Barack has an edge on FDR. Barack is green. All these clean energy programs. Programs which are grotesquely expensive if not for government incentives.

"China's not waiting to revamp its economy. Germany's not waiting. India's not waiting. These nations aren't standing still. These nations aren't playing for second place. They're putting more emphasis on math and science. They're rebuilding their infrastructure. They are making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs."

Yes, let's be more like China. China's economic growth has been meteoric, but it's come at the cost of thousands of lives, and an atmosphere sodden with pollution. Now I know Barack would love to emulate a pinko country, but even he is against China's human rights and environmental crimes.

"You can see the results of last year's investment in clean energy – in the North Carolina company that will create 1200 jobs nationwide helping to make advanced batteries; or in the California business that will put 1,000 people to work making solar panels."

Government controlled jobs. That's what the Jeffersonian and the cynic in me sees here. If you work in an area favored by the Government, you'll be employed. Results don't matter, profit won't matter. So long as your line of work fits in with the current Government's agenda, you'll be employed.

"But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives."

More of your money. Enjoy Government deciding who gets to be employed and who doesn't.

Although thank you, Barack, for getting behind nuclear power and for drilling offshore.

Then he went on to exports. He wants America to DOUBLE our exports. Talk about optimistic. The US has been in a trade deficit since the 60s. And while I think Barack has a lovely idea here. How the hell does he intend to do it? And do it in 5 years, as he claims. Perhaps a Stalinesque 5 Year Plan?

Or maybe Barack's already got this scheme well underway. As he continues to borrow, the strength of the US Dollar will diminish. As the dollar devalues, it'll be more appealing for foreign industry to employ US workers. American sweatshops.

After all, the basic reason why countries like China and India export so much is that it's cheap to employ Chinese and Indian workers. So when €1,000 is enough to pay a US worker $50,000, German and Swedish industrialists will build factories all over our country.

He then ranted about the need to improve education, which I agree with. He had some weird, semisocialist ideas about student loans. But to be frank, I'm left of him in this area. I think the government should flatout PAY for citizens' college educations if they can get into that college and stay in it (and otherwise couldn't pay for that education). It's a good investment, and one that pays innumerable longterm dividends.

"That's why we're working to lift the value of a family's single largest investment – their home."

Please, keep government the fuck out of capitalist markets!

Even if you do good now, one day that good will be bad. Government exists to regulate markets and protect investors from scams. It doesn't exist to exert positive influence in those markets.

Government can forcibly increase the value of homes, but such an increase would be artificial. And if the value of homes rise, so does their price. Which means fewer people can buy homes, unless they indenture themselves to monstrous mortgages. And isn't this all familiar territory here?

Then Barack discoursed about healthcare.

" I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people."

In predictably typical liberal fashion, Barack explained the lack of support for his reforms due to a lack of understanding. After all, the only reason someone would dare disagree with a liberal is if they didn't understand the liberal's obviously superior intelligence.

"Do not walk away from reform. Not now. Not when we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people."

I'm very thankful for the 59 Senator speedlimit he now has to observe.

Then Barack passed the buck (or seval trillion bucks) for the budget deficit...

"By the time I took office, we had a one year deficit of over $1 trillion and projected deficits of $8 trillion over the next decade. Most of this was the result of not paying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program. On top of that, the effects of the recession put a $3 trillion hole in our budget. That was before I walked in the door."

Imagine if the captain of the Titanic turned over command to his Executive Officer. So the XO, inheriting this huge problem, decides to hit a smaller iceberg. Then when questioned, his first response is "Well Captain Smith hit an even bigger iceberg, and we were already sinking."

"Starting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze government spending for three years."

This sounds like me when I struggled through quitting cigarettes. "I'll quit after the weekend... after the World Series... after the Super Bowl... at the end of the semester... at the end of summer..."

"...which is why this freeze will not take effect until next year, when the economy is stronger."

And what if the economy isn't stronger? Will we smash into more icebergs in an attempt to fix it? Will we spend more, or stop spending? Will we dig up?

Barack touched on the need for government clarity and transparency. And less pork. All good stuff, but stuff I've heard from previous Presidents. I'll believe it when I see it.

"I never thought the mere fact of my election would usher in peace, harmony, and some post-partisan era."

But the Nobel Committee sure did.

" And if the Republican leadership is going to insist that sixty votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town, then the responsibility to govern is now yours as well. Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it's not leadership"

Well with 41 Senators, how do you push new legislation? How do you show that leadership? And just because Republicans disagree with Barack's particular version of "change," doesn't mean that the GOP has simply tried to slow everything down. They're trying to slowdown Barack's agenda. And I for one am glad they're doing so.

Barack moved on to defense, surprisingly late for a President in a time of war, and surprisingly early for a Democrat. In a stanza filled with reassuring rhetoric about how secure our national security is, he threw this in.

"We have prohibited torture..."

No matter your moral stance on torture of terrorists, does the fact that we don't do it anymore make you feel "safer?" It doesn't make me feel safer.

"That is why North Korea now faces increased isolation, and stronger sanctions – sanctions that are being vigorously enforced."

Because sanctions are typically sufficient to deter hardline maniacs from doing crazy shit.

"And as Iran's leaders continue to ignore their obligations, there should be no doubt: they, too, will face growing consequences."

Such as a stern talking-to, and no dinner before bedtime. Why do we treat murderously psychotic despots like misbehaving 5 year olds?

"We are working with Muslim communities around the world to promote science, education and innovation."

Unless you're a woman, then no science for you.

By this point in Barack's speach, we're well into the random torrent of miscellany. We got X number of people in Haiti. We gave money to AIDs research. Et Cetera.

"We finally strengthened our laws to protect against crimes driven by hate."

This feeble attempt to use logic is why I'll never be liberal. To suggest that prosecuting crimes driven by prejudice more harshly will somehow reduce their likelihood is bananas.

Racists who are crazy/stupid/hateful enough to commit so-called "hate crimes" are insufficiently reasonable to comprehend that they'll now go to jail longer for beating up a black guy. All violent crimes are a form of hatecrime, no matter what color the perpetrator or victim is.

And so i'll summarize Barack's speech with a few bulletpoints:

#1: We need more bipartisanship, especially from the Republicans (which was, in and of itself, a partisan attack)

#2: I'll pretend to still care about healthcare reform, but I'll not talk much about it anymore

#3: I think taxing rich people and greedy corporations and borrowing from China is a good way to create jobs.

#3A: Those new jobs, of course, will all fall in line with MY agenda, so things like green jobs, government jobs, and anything Al Gore would approve of. Those kinds of jobs.

#4: It's time for an end to divisive tactics and rhetoric. Did you hear that you rightwing nutjobs?

#5: All your problems are W's fault. Yeah, my campaign duped you into believing I'd fix them with a snap of a finger and yet they remain. Whoops.