"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Birthday Today - Frank Loesser

Frank Loesser was born today in 1910.   Not quite a Richard Rodgers or an Oscar Hammerstein, Loesser wrote the music and lyrics for what is probably my all-time favorite musical, Guys and Dolls.   Here's one of many showstoppers, "A Bushel and a Peck," sung by Miss Adelaide and the Hot Box Girls:


I have been in trial all week, so I haven't been blogging much.   The trial has been fascinating for odd reason -- we've been zealously defending against a case that is so weak and, frankly, pathetic, that it never should have been brought.   Ironically, two of the main news stories I missed because I was in court were also cases that never should have been brought.

First, the Supreme Court's decision on the Defense of Marriage Act, declaring the law -- supported at the time by, among others, Senators Harry Reid and Joe Biden, and signed by President Bill Clinton -- unconstitutional on the bizarre grounds that its sole legislative motivation was hatred toward gays.   But, as Justices Scalia, Roberts, Thomas and Alito all argued in the dissent, the case should not have come to the Court at all.   The defendant, the United States (i.e., the Obama Administration), did not disagree with the Plaintiff, and supported the Plaintiff's position that DOMA is unconstitutional.   Well, fine, the Obama Administration is free to do that as a political position.   But as a matter of law, when the two parties agree, there is not adversity, and thus no "case or controversy," and federal courts have no jurisdiction.   This was self-evidently an "advisory opinion," which in itself is unconstitutional, and has long been understood as such.   The judges should never have let the case get to court.

Second, the Zimmerman trial continues, albeit farcically.   The prosecution seems to almost be trying to blow the case... the evidence that they've put on so far seems to have established that Trayvon Martin was on top of Zimmerman beating him up MMA-style, when Zimmerman defended himself.   And their "star" witness, Martin's supposed girlfriend, was apparently so ridiculous that no reasonable jury could take her testimony as credible.   Moreover, from what I understand (simply from very cursory news reports I heard), she apparently exposed that, if there were a racial animus motivating someone that night, it was Trayvon Martin's bias against white people, since he apparently told her that he was being followed by a "creepy ass cracker."     Again, this seems like a case that never should have gotten to court.   A judge should have thrown it out long before this.

The reasons why the two courts let these cases actually come to court are different, of course, but different in an instructive way.   In the Supreme Court, the judges took the case because they wanted to make a "decision," i.e., they wanted to insert themselves into the issue.   In the Zimmerman case, in a trial court, the judge let the case go through because he didn't want to make a decision that could be criticized or appealed.   Trial court judges (including the one in my case) often kick hard decisions down the road with the assumption that the parties will settle (in criminal cases through a plea bargain), or else that the jury will make his decision for him.   But doing so, particularly in the civil context, adds tremendous costs and delays to the legal process, and in the criminal context, puts citizens in unnecessary jeopardy of the loss of their liberty.

This is a long-winded way of saying that, in my opinion, the American judiciary needs, not reform via constitutional amendment or legislative act, but a change in attitude.   Judges at the highest level, in the appeals courts and at the Supreme Court, need to be much more reticent about deciding issues that ought to be decided by the people through their elected representatives (abortion, gay marriage, etc.).   But judges at the trial court level need to be much more aggressive about deciding cases early (and more cheaply) when cases are so weak that they ought never to have been brought at all.

Girl of the Day - Too Much Rain!

We've had too much rain in Milwaukee so far this summer.

Need.   Sun.   Must.   Have.   Sun.

There, that's better.


By the way, that's Kate Bock from SI's 2013 swimsuit issue.

Rudimentary Economics Versus Rudimentary Politics

Sarah Palin made a good point in a speech this week about the immigration "reform" bill that has just passed the Senate.   Palin called the bill " a "sad betrayal of working class Americans of every ethnicity who will see their wages lowered."

She's right.   This is rudimentary economics -- the law of supply and demand.  Labor is what economists call an "input"; it must be purchased in the marketplace just like a carmaker would purchase steel for car chassis, and energy to run its factory.   If there is more steel on the world market, the price the carmaker has to pay goes down; if less, it goes up.   If there is more abundant energy, the cost for that "input" goes down; if less, it goes up, with a concomitant loss of profit.

We do not have a labor shortage in America, we have surplus labor.  We have millions of long-term unemployed, millions of young people struggling to find jobs (often unable to pay off student loans).   Not surprisingly, then, given the law of supply and demand, we have seen flat wages and slimmed-down benefit packages.   And, remember, benefits (health insurance, pensions, etc.) are just different forms of compensation -- the more competition in the job market, the lower the total compensation (wages and benefits) companies have to pay.   That is good for labor costs from the companies' perspective, but it's bad for workers. 

But, while the economics is rudimentary, there is also the sad fact of rudimentary politics.   Politicians (and this goes for left and right, liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican) don't care about the lives of real working people.   They may care about an abstraction called "the People," but that is lip service.   Politicians care about getting elected and re-elected, gaining power and keeping power and dispensing power to their friends in the elites.   This certainly applies to the Chuck Schumers and Harry Reids in the Democratic Senate leadership, who want immigration reform and amnesty because they want tens of millions of new Democratic voters; but it also applies to Marco Rubio of Florida, who apparently wants more than anything to be President, and apparently thinks the way to do so is to become a heroic "centrist."  

He's wrong.   Democrats like centrist Republicans like McCain and Graham and Rubio because they can roll them on issues like immigration where the elite opinion in Washington is operating in a realm of fantasy.   But they won't vote for them in the end.   Shumer and Reid's political calculations in my view are more accurate -- amnesty will mean a permanent Democratic majority, because Mexican Hispanics moving into a state like California will be more likely to gravitate toward big government and dependency on government services and, hence, the party of Big Government, the Dems.  

Either way, the point is... rudimentary politics is trumping rudimentary economics.  

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Real (Albeit Belated) Democratic Platform 2008

Forget about the corruption of the Obama administration, the lying about Benghazi, the spectacle of IRS officials taking the Fifth before Congress, the blatant cronyism of Solyndra, the moral midgetry of Fast and Furious, the Orwellian intrusiveness of the NSA scandal.

Forget the incompetence.

Forget the nastiness, the "punish your enemies" rhetoric, the disdain for fellow Americans as "bitter-clingers," the constant drumbeat that people who disagree are evil or racist or homophobic or anti-woman or anti-immigrant.

Forget the sanctimoniousness, the sneering, the condescension.  

Simply think of this.   If Obama's platform in 2008 had looked like this:

  • Gay marriage.
  • Women in combat.
  • Nationalized healthcare.
  • Higher taxes.
  • Retreat and defeat in the Middle East.
  • Runaway federal debt and trillion dollar-deficits every year.  
Would he have been elected?  


P.S. Sorry for not blogging lately... I've been getting ready for and having a big trial.   Next week we've only got closing arguments, and then we'll wait for the verdict.  

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Oh, By the Way, Your Country Is About to Change Radically, But We Don't Know How

The immigration bill (or rather the competing bills) are festivals of obfuscation.   No one (again!) really knows what's in them, and we'll have to pass them to find out the hidden disasters lurking within.  Yuval Levin at NRO has this nugget today:

The Hoeven-Corker amendment to the Gang of Eight bill is essentially a new bill. It is almost 1,200 pages long. Some parts of it are identical to some of the provisions of the original Gang of Eight bill, some parts are very different, and some parts are slightly different in ways that could prove very important but difficult to understand in a hurry. But it has to be understood in a hurry. Given the length and complexity of this proposal, I think it is fair to say that not more than a handful of the senators voting on it on Monday—which is apparently when the vote is scheduled—will really understand it in any detail. There is almost no way any of the senators voting on it could have read it all, and it’s unlikely even their staff members could do so in a thorough and responsible way in that time. Only the people who wrote it will know what it says, and I imagine it was written in parts by numerous people from several Senate offices. That means there is probably no one who really knows what it says. It also seems likely that, if the amendment is adopted on Monday, the vote on the final bill would come too soon thereafter to allow CBO to re-score the much-amended bill, and so to offer some sense of how things have changed in terms of costs, economic effects, future immigration flows (legal and illegal) and other key issues. 
Is this any way to make such an important set of decisions about the country’s future?
Well, in a word, no.  How about a constitutional amendment saying that any legislation proposed by Congress must be published online in full and final form 30 days before any vote on it?   Who would be afraid of such a requirement?   We're changing the nature of our society (Obamacare) and the nature of our citizenship (immigration reform) basically with twenty-something staffers fresh out of law school pulling all-nighters to cut and paste legislative Rube Goldberg contraptions.   That ain't what the Founding Fathers envisioned.

Also, how about a constitutional amendment limiting single bills to twenty pages?   Is clarity in legislation too much to ask?      

Friday, June 21, 2013

More Nonsense from the Most Brilliant Family Evah!

Chelsea Clinton apparently spoke recently at a feminist event:

From the stage at the recent Women Deliver conference, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s daughter Chelsea revealed that her much-admired maternal grandmother was the child of unwed teenage parents who “did not have access to services that are so crucial that Planned Parenthood helps provide.”
And, by "access to services that are so crucial that Planned Parenthood helps provide," she of course means abortion.   She is, it seems fair to say, wishing that her great-grandparents had had access to abortion services when they were "unwed teenage parents," so that her grandmother could have been aborted.

Now, remember... Bill Clinton was the Rhodes Scholar, smartest President ever.   Hillary Clinton was the smartest First Lady ever.   And their only child, Chelsea, has been feted since childhood as a brilliant future political star... a graduate of the toney DC-area prep school Sidwell Friends, Stanford, Oxford, etc.   We have been programmed by the media to nod vigorously when anyone lauds their intelligence, just as we've been told for a half-century that Adlai Stevenson was smarter than Dwight Eisenhower, that Kennedy was smarter than Nixon, that Carter was smarter than Reagan, that Gore was smarter than Bush, etc., etc.  

And, of course, with the smartness, we are told, liberals are also the most moral people, much more moral than those dirty Republicans who work in dirty business.   People like Chelsea Clinton (or Michelle Obama) wouldn't soil their hands by working in the for-profit sector.  

But, let's ask this question...  if she's so moral, why is she wishing that her own grandmother had never existed!  

And, if she's so smart, tell me, why is she wishing that neither she nor her mother, Secretary Clinton, had ever been born?

Mark Steyn on Obama's Brandenburg Gate Speech

Mark Steyn also weighed in yesterday on Obama's tired speech in Germany this week:

It’s interesting to see that even liberal German media actually thought the President was a total flop. He’s a very boring man, by the way. I think that’s what’s so fascinating about him. When you listen to him chugging on about climate change or whatever, or a nuclear-free world, he’s got the same vapid ideas as the emptiest Hollywood dinner party. He’s like the guy who got a best supporting actor nomination in 1978 who’s name you can’t quite place, and he’s sitting down the end of Barbra Streisand’s dinner party just mouthing the same old boring platitudes. He hasn’t got an interesting idea in his head, this guy. And the Germans have figured it out.
This reminds me of something I wrote maybe a couple of years ago about Obama:
Obama reminds me of the character played by Charles Grodin in the original version of The Heartbreak Kid back in the early 1970s. At the end of the movie, when he's finally married the shiksa goddess played by Cybill Shepherd, he's at their wedding reception and the scene starts off with him telling a group of adults what he wants to do with his life. He wants to "help people," or words to that effect, typical content-free, skills-free liberal do-gooderism. Over the course of the wedding reception (this is the final scene of the movie), he keeps repeating this mantra to gradually descending groups of people, until, at the end of the movie, he's telling his story of wanting to "help people" to a group of children, with the implication that they are the only ones left who'll take him seriously. Meanwhile, Shepherd and her father look at him with the dawning realization that he's a schlub. It's an absolutely killer scene in a movie that was much much better than the later, Ben Stiller version.

Syria and the Serious Problem of an Unserious President

George Will eviscerates Obama today, particularly on the subject of his dithering naivete about Syria:
In Northern Ireland before going to Berlin, Obama sat next to Putin, whose demeanor and body language when he is in Obama’s presence radiate disdain. There Obama said: “With respect to Syria, we do have differing perspectives on the problem, but we share an interest in reducing the violence.” Differing perspectives?  
Obama wants to reduce the violence by coaxing Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, who is winning the war, to attend a conference at which he negotiates the surrender of his power. Putin wants to reduce the violence by helping — with lavish materiel assistance and by preventing diplomacy that interferes — Assad complete the destruction of his enemies.  
Napoleon said: “If you start to take Vienna — take Vienna.” Douglas MacArthur said that all military disasters can be explained by two words: “Too late.” Regarding Syria, Obama is tentative and, if he insists on the folly of intervening, tardy. He is giving Putin a golden opportunity to humiliate the nation responsible for the “catastrophe.” In a contest between a dilettante and a dictator, bet on the latter.
Even if I grant liberals their good intentions (and I don't -- I think many are rent-seeking and power-hungry and, in the case of Obama's Chicago cronies, fundamentally and deeply corrupt)... but even if I grant their good intentions, the problem with even good-hearted liberals is that they believe that other people share their good intentions.   Obama wants a nice frictionless transition in Syria to a democratic utopia of Kumbaya-singing, Che-poster owning, fresh-faced, brown and shiny-skinned "rebels."   It's the 1960s vision of the world that never learns anything from history.  But Putin doesn't want that... he wants power and wealth and revenge on America.   He's a fundamentally evil ex-KGB murderer.   We don't just have "differing perspectives" on the world, we have, as the philosopher Isaiah Berlin would say, ultimate values that are "incommensurable."  

Will hits the nail on the head here:
Obama’s vanity is a wonder of the world that never loses its power to astonish, but really: Is everyone in his orbit too lost in raptures of admiration to warn him against delivering a speech soggy with banalities and bromides in a city that remembers John Kennedy’sIch bin ein Berliner” and Ronald Reagan’s “Tear down this wall”?
Obama is a vain child.   No one has ever told him to be quiet, or told him that what he's saying is nonsensical.   He's been stroked by his mother and his grandparents and his teachers and his professors all his life, telling him how wonderful he is.    But where the rest of us who were spoiled or pampered "smart" kids get our comeuppance in the real world, Obama has essentially been "socially promoted" to the next grade and the next throughout his life, until we find that we've got a naive college kid who never grew up as our President.    

At some point after he's out of the White House, we are going to get a raft of books about his Presidency where people finally tell the story of how vapid Obama really was.

I.  Can't.  Wait.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Faux Outrage Against Serena Williams

Serena Williams has herself in some Twitterverse hot water for having the temerity to offer a somewhat antinomian opinion about the Steubenville, OH rape case that has gotten so much press lately.   (Simple version:  girl gets drunk and passes out at high school party, two high school football players rape girl, high school idiots snark about the rape online, cops find out, boys go to jail.)   Here's what she supposedly said:

According to the Rolling Stone story, Williams says the perpetrators of the crime “did something stupid,” and she asks: “Do you think it was fair, what they got?” 
She adds, “I’m not blaming the girl, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you: Don’t take drinks from other people.” 
And Williams also is quoted as saying: “… she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.”

Now, some of that I don't like... I don't like questioning whether what the boys got in terms of jail time was fair.   Gentlemen don't act that way around girls, no matter whether they're drunk or not; gentlemen protect vulnerable women, period.   They did a criminal act and deserved what they got.

But what has apparently outraged people is Williams' comments that the girl "shouldn't have put herself in that position."   My quick read of the comments online is that people are shocked, shocked that Williams would ever say such a thing against a secular saint... The Rape Victim.   Apparently it is sacrilegious to ever criticize the conduct of a girl as having any aspect of what we lawyers like to call contributory negligence.   (Note: contributory negligence is a defense to a negligence claim, not to an intentional tort.   If I were to say that a girl was contributorily negligent in "putting herself into a dangeorus position" that wouldn't be a defense to a rape charge, no matter how silly she was.)

This is a very silly variant of liberal feminist dogma and Williams should have stood by her comments, since coming from a strong and successful woman they might actually have some impact.   All she is really saying is what any parent -- and I'm a father of three teenagers, two girls and a boy -- would say.

Consider this thought experiment: the same girl in the Steubenville scenario goes to the party, gets drunk, passes out, AND NOTHING HAPPENS. A Good Samaritan drives her home, carries her to her front door, and tells her parents what happened. She sleeps it off, wakes up the next day with a hangover, then her Mom and Dad say to her, "Come into the kitchen, honey, we want to talk to you about what you did last night." Does anybody actually believe that it would be inappropriate for her parents to tell her that she shouldn't put herself in that kind of dangerous situation, that what she did was stupid, and that if she acted that way other people would think less of her as a person?

The boys' actions were criminal. They should have been prosecuted and were. But, come on, people... let's use some common sense on this.


P.S.  Is there a greater American athlete who has been as overlooked as Serena Williams?   She now has won five Wimbledon titles, five Australian Opens, four U.S. Opens, and two French Opens.   She won her first Grand Slam title in 1999, and just won the French Open this month, fourteen years later.   Probably the greatest American female athlete ever.

James Gandolfini, RIP

I came to The Sopranos late, but then I watched the 84 episodes of the series practically straight through.   James Gandolfini's role as Tony Soprano may be the greatest and most complex role in the history of television, which means that he created what is essentially one of the great novelistic  characters of the 21st Century, since long-form TV is what we have now instead of great novels.  

Sadly, Gandolfini has died today of an apparent heart attack at the age of 51.   Too young, much too young.   Younger than the Regular Guy, which is frightening too.   Sad, sad day.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Who Hacked CBS Reporter Sharyl Atkisson's Computer?

We may never know.   But, as they say in the intelligence community, we can "connect the dots" to make a conjecture.

  • Atkisson, a CBS News investigative reporter, was investigating the Benghazi terror attack and its aftermath in the fall of 2012.
  • We now know that the Obama administration was going to great lengths that fall to obfuscate what happened in Benghazi, including the infamous "talking points" pointing to a nondescript anti-Islam Youtube video as the cause of spontaneous riots.
  • Atkisson, a real reporter (as opposed to an unpaid flack for the Democratic Party the way most mainstream journalists are), had done serious reporting on Fast and Furious before this, putting her on the White House's (figurative or, knowing what we know now, literal) enemies list.
  • Although it's unlikely that Mitt Romney would have won the election regardless of what happened in Benghazi (too many low information voters out there who like their abortions and Obamaphones), that was still in the future, and the Obama campaign was locked in a very tight race.
Hmmmm.... who would have had the motive to hack Atkisson's home computer?   Who would have had the technical means?   Who would have had the money to hire people willing to do it?   Who would have felt that enough was at stake to attempt something like this?   And, of course, who would have known that, whatever happened, they could (unlike, say, the Nixon White House) count on a compliant media to downplay any resulting scandal?

Here's a link to Hot Air for more on this story.  

I'm just sayin'.

In 2011, CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson broke the story that Eric Holder knew about the gun sting [Fast and Furious] long before he said he did.
In 2012, Attkisson investigated the Benghazi massacre.
In May, Sharyl Attkisson announced that her computers were compromised by the Obama administration.
Last Friday CBS News confirmed that Sharyl Attkisson’s computer was hacked by “an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions.” Her home computers would turn on in the middle of the night by themselves.

Birthday Today - Sir Paul McCartney

The world falls into two camps for the most part.   Not right and left or free and communist or Christian or Islamic.   No, the two camps I'm talking about are:  Stones people or Beatles people.  

Stones people like their rock and roll rougher, messier, and more tied to the blues, country, and the roots of rock in American folk music.   Beatles people like their rock and roll to be tied more to the pop music scene, more melodic, more show-tuney.  

The Beatles were boys your daughters might bring home home to supper with only a mild worry that you might not like them; the Stones were young men you prayed your daughters would stay away from.  

With the Beatles you gave your girls a word of caution; with the Stones, you went to the safe and got your gun.

Anyway, we're Stones people in our house.   But it's Paul McCartney's 71st birthday, so I thought I'd feature one of his songs that was almost a real rocker (but not quite):

71!  Tempus fugit and then some.  

Girl of the Day - Kim Dickens

One of my favorites from Deadwood, Friday Night Lights and Treme, Kim Dickens, turns 48 today.   I'd say she specializes in playing smart, tough, sexy, working-class broads, but what really makes her a cool actress is her accent -- she grew up in Alabama.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Girl of the Day - Sherry Stringfield

Anybody remember her from the first season of NYPD Blue (she was David Caruso's ex-wife)?   How about from ER?   I can't remember seeing her in anything since then, a pattern that it almost too obvious in Hollywood... nice looking young actress gets good TV gig, then is essentially written out of the profession once she reaches 35 or 40.   Is that sad?   Yes.   Unfair?   Yes.   Unavoidable?   Yes, until society changes... which it never will.   Human beings respond to pretty young women.   Full stop.   Get over it.

Anyway, it was her birthday yesterday, as she turned 46.   Tempus fugit.

Potential Implications of the NSA Scandal

A couple of days I cited Rand Paul's column in the WSJ about the NSA scandal:
How many records did the NSA seize from Verizon? Hundreds of millions. We are now learning about more potential mass data collections by the government from other communications and online companies....
These activities violate the Fourth Amendment, which says warrants must be specific—"particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." And what is the government doing with these records? The president assures us that the government is simply monitoring the origin and length of phone calls, not eavesdropping on their contents. Is this administration seriously asking us to trust the same government that admittedly targets political dissidents through the Internal Revenue Service and journalists through the Justice Department?
That's the key point, and the key point hasn't changed since 1789 and the founding of our Republic... citizens shouldn't trust government not to abuse power, therefore government power must be limited.

Bryan Preston yesterday made an equally valid point about why this particular administration should be trusted even less than previous regimes:
Reading this story in the context of the just-concluded campaign, it all seemed mildly spooky. Obama’s campaign had built a massive and highly connected database that it intended to use to propel the campaign directly into everyday life. This database was far more comprehensive and sophisticated and even intrusive than any campaign information set that had ever been built before. Presidential campaigns usually disband shortly after elections, but this presidential campaign had found a way to live on in the very same legal code that was being used against the president’s enemies. That database would keep getting bigger, and it would remain a tool in what was now a permanent political army that answers ultimately not to a party but to one man, the president. 
In the current context, though, it comes across as more sinister. The Internal Revenue Service was literally policing the free speech of Americans who opposed the president’s agenda, while at the very same time it gave a free pass to a transparently political group that was slipping into tax-exempt “social welfare” dress and carrying the president’s massive political database along with it. OfA handed OfA the keys to the database kingdom. At the same time, the National Security Agency was allegedly building its own massive database on all Americans. The American people knew neither of the IRS nor of the NSA’s actions. 
The IRS became an arm of the Obama campaign, at least in practice if not in name, from 2010 to 2012. Did the NSA do anything similar? Was there any overlap at all between the data-mining tools and techniques used by the Obama campaign and the data-mining tools and techniques used by the National Security Agency?
 I'd like an independent prosecutor to investigate that question.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Call Me "Arbitrary, Capricious and Unreasonable"

With all the scandals percolating, you forget that, sub rosa, the Obama administration and liberal judges continue remaking America into a socialist dystopia.   Here's the latest example:

The Obama administration will stop trying to limit sales of emergency contraception pills, making the morning-after pill available to women of all ages without a prescription.  
The US justice department said in a letter on Monday that it planned to comply with a court's ruling to allow unrestricted sales of Plan B One-Step and that it would withdraw its appeal on the matter.  
The move is the latest in a lengthy legal fight over the morning-after pill, which was until recently only available without a prescription to women 17 and older who presented proof of age at a pharmacist's counter.  
Plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit against the FDA said the limit unfairly kept women and girls from accessing the drug, which is most effective when taken within 72 hours of intercourse.  
On 5 April US district Judge Edward Korman said the US Food and Drug Administration had been "arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable" in rejecting a citizen petition to make emergency contraception available over the counter to girls of all ages.
Really?   Arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable as a parent to think that maybe, just maybe, it isn't a great idea to have the morning after pill available to young teen-aged and pre-teen girls without their parents' consent or knowledge?   That maybe, just maybe, the availability of the morning after pill that you can take in secret will provide just the extra quantum of persuasiveness that some, oh, 18 year-old man might need to talk, say, a 13 year-old girl into having sex?  "See, you can always take a morning-after pill, and no one will ever know, so there's nothing to worry about."

The lack of understanding of human nature that liberals exhibit sometimes is just breathtaking.   As a parent of 12 and 13 year-old girls, all I can tell you is that this decision is horrifying and stupid at the same time.  

Oh, and note the deceitful way the story is reported.   "Women of all ages"?   "Women 17 years and older" (as opposed, I suppose, to "women 16 years and younger")?   "Girls of all ages"?

Look, let's stop the Orwellian "black is white" language.   Reporters are supposed to report the truth.   The truth is we're talking about the American government thinking it's A-OK for a pharmacist to sell a 12 year-old girl the morning-after pill without her parents' knowledge or consent, the same way he might sell her a pack of gum.   Do you think it's OK when you phrase it that way?   I don't.

We live in a world where a 12 year-old can't be allowed to make judgments about the difference between a gun and a Pop-Tart chewed into the shape of a gun, but the same 12 year-old should be permitted to buy strong medicine to kill her baby without telling her Mom or Dad.   Is that nuts?   I think it's nuts.  

Can't Keep Up (With Obama Scandals)

From Hot Air:

Yesterday, CBS News published documents that showed the State Department had quashed or obstructed Inspector General investigations into serious wrongdoing by high-ranking officials, including one Ambassador who ditched his security team to importune prostitutes in public parks. Today, that story gets more sordid in NBC’s follow-up, which shows that investigators suspected the same Ambassador of targeting minor children.
I.   Can't.   Keep.   Up.

Oh, by the way... implicated in the coverup is Cheryl Mills, Hillary Clinton's chief of staff.

Are Democrats starting to eat their own?

The Obama Scandal Scorecard

Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit has a useful summary of the current state of play:

The NSA spying scandal goes deep, and the Obama administration's only upside is that the furor over its poking into Americans' private business on a wholesale basis will distract people from the furor over the use of the IRS and other federal agencies to target political enemies -- and even donors to Republican causes -- and the furor over the Benghazi screwup and subsequent lies (scapegoated filmmaker Nakoula is still in jail), the furor over the "Fast And Furious" gunrunning scandal that left literally scores of Mexicans dead, the scandal over the DOJ's poking into phone records of journalists (and their parents), HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' shakedown of companies she regulates for "donations" to pay for ObamaCare implementation that Congress has refused to fund, the Pigford scandal where the Treasury Department's "Judgment Fund" appears to have been raided for political purposes -- well, it's getting to where you need a scorecard to keep up.

Girl of the Day - Judy Garland

Not really beautiful, not really sexy, just wildly, wildly talented.    Miss.   Judy.   Garland.

Talent wins.

She would have been 91 yesterday.   RIP.

Carpe diem, Rand Paul!

The NSA scandal highlights the onrushing nature of the Brave New World we're entering.   It is inevitable (see Moore's law) that computers will be more and more able to identify patterns in the metadata of individual citizens' online activity -- emailing, googling, shopping, surfing the Web, etc. -- and use that knowledge for various purposes.   I've noticed (was I the last one to do so?) that, once I make a purchase, for the next few days every web page I go to has ads for the company I just bought from.   I have become a targeted customer for them, and they use the power of computing to bombard me with knew sales opportunities.   This has happened with Joseph A. Bank clothiers, with Anthropologie women's clothes (for the Regular Wife), and others.  Does someone out there know I'm a conservative by what web sites I visit?   I would assume so -- I certainly get enough unsolicited email traffic from conservative media.  

In short, this is happening.   And we're not ready for it, not at all.   We're scared of the invasion of privacy, we don't know what to do about it, and we're mad about all of it.   Collectively, we're getting figurative (and literal) robo calls from telemarketers during dinner time, and we're pissed about it.  

That's why a libertarian who speaks to the desire to be free of government intrusion -- a charismatic figure like Rand Paul -- might just find his moment in 2016.   Paul is writing today in the WSJ on the NSA scandal:
How many records did the NSA seize from Verizon? Hundreds of millions. We are now learning about more potential mass data collections by the government from other communications and online companies....  
These activities violate the Fourth Amendment, which says warrants must be specific—"particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." And what is the government doing with these records? The president assures us that the government is simply monitoring the origin and length of phone calls, not eavesdropping on their contents. Is this administration seriously asking us to trust the same government that admittedly targets political dissidents through the Internal Revenue Service and journalists through the Justice Department? 
No one objects to balancing security against liberty. No one objects to seeking warrants for targeted monitoring based on probable cause. We've always done this.  
What is objectionable is a system in which government has unlimited and privileged access to the details of our private affairs, and citizens are simply supposed to trust that there won't be any abuse of power. This is an absurd expectation.... 
Monitoring the records of as many as a billion phone calls, as some news reports have suggested, is no modest invasion of privacy. It is an extraordinary invasion of privacy. We fought a revolution over issues like generalized warrants, where soldiers would go from house to house, searching anything they liked. Our lives are now so digitized that the government going from computer to computer or phone to phone is the modern equivalent of the same type of tyranny that our Founders rebelled against.

Opportunistic?   Probably.   Ambitious men are always men whose motto is carpe diem, seize the day.   Rand Paul is no different in this than Barack Obama was in 2008:   a man for the moment.

But in this case, where Obama was seizing the day to offer us more and more government, Paul may be the man for a moment where Americans say: Enough.

VDH on Benghazi

Victor Davis Hanson in NRO today reminds us why the Benghazi scandal has legs and is perhaps more weighty in the end than the myriad other Obama scandals:

Benghazi differs from all the other scandals — and from both Watergate and Iran-Contra — because in this case administration lapses led to the deaths of four Americans. Nine months later, the administration’s problems of damage control remain fourfold: (a) there was ample warning that American personnel were in danger in Libya, and yet requests for increased security were denied; (b) during the actual attack, the American tradition of sending in relief forces on the chance that fellow Americans could be saved was abrogated; (c) the president and his top officials knowingly advanced a narrative of a culpable filmmaker that they knew was not accurate; (d) a through c are best explained as resulting not from honest human error or the fog of war, but from a methodical effort to assure the public in the weeks before the election that “lead from behind” in Libya had been a successful venture and that the death of Osama bin Laden had made al-Qaeda–inspired terrorism rare. All other concerns became secondary, including the safety of Americans in Libya. 
Until someone proves that the administration was not wrong in failing to beef up our posts, was not wrong in not ordering immediate succor, was not wrong in blaming the violence on a filmmaker, and was not wrong in covering up the truth by promoting a demonstrably false narrative, the scandal will not go away.
I'm not sure that either the IRS targeting Tea Party conservatives or the NSA data mining American citizens are necessarily lesser scandals, though.   If in either case it turns out that (a) the IRS did so on the specific orders of the White House to aid in the President's reelection campaign; and (b) that the NSA data mining for national security purposes was also used to augment the known data mining conducted by the Obama campaign to target likely Democratic voters in their massive GOTV effort in 2012, well, then, those scandals will end up dwarfing Benghazi, regardless of whether four Americans died, because one will be the result of bad foreign policy judgment coupled with a natural desire to cover up bad news, while the others will be evidence of a systematic corruption of the entire federal government.

In other words, while Benghazi shows a government making mistakes and then lying about them, a normal failing of normal politics, the IRS and NSA scandals may end up revealing a government lying from the outset so they could conceal intentional totalitarianism based on ideology.  

It's the difference between incompetence and tyranny.   Correct the former, fear the latter.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Steyn on Holder

Mark Steyn makes a good point in this week's interview with Hugh Hewitt:

This is the chief law officer of the United States. And he’s just gone on national television and said he was obligated to lie to the judge. I had to sign some rinky-dink, little affidavit for something or another the other day, and you know, you have to get it notarized and all the rest of it, and you’re not allowed, when the citizen has to file relatively routine bits of information, you’re not allowed to lie. In fact, the point of the law, you’re not allowed to lie to Eric Holder’s minions. You’re not allowed to lie to a federal agent. Martha Stewart went to jail for lying to an employee of the attorney general of the United States. Yet the Attorney General himself is allowed to lie to a judge. This isn’t small stuff, you know. It’s the point at which a respectable society decays into something darker and far more sinister and unattractive.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

June 6, 1944

From Rick Atkinson's great new book about the American armed forces in Europe in World War II, The Guns at Last Light:

For those who outlived the day, who survived this high thing, this bright honor, this destiny, the memories would remain as shot-torn as the beach itself.    
They remembered waves slapping the steel hulls, and bilge pumps choked with vomit from seasick men... 
They remembered the red splash of shell bursts plumping the shallows, and machine-gun bullets puckering the sea "like wind-driven hail" before tearing through the grounded boats... 
They remembered brave men advancing as if "walking in the face of a real strong wind"...  
And they remembered the shapeless dead, sprawled on the sands like smears of divine clay, or as flotsam on the making tide, weltering, with their life belts still cinched.    
All this they would remember, from the beaten zone called Omaha.

Lest we forget.

Girl of the Day - Rita!

Just because.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Birthdays Today - Smith and Keynes

Today, somewhat ironically, is the birthday of both Adam Smith, the author of The Wealth of Nations, which includes the seminal idea of the market as an "invisible hand" guiding production of useful goods, and John Maynard Keynes, the 20th Century economist most associated with the intrusion of government into free markets.   If you've followed the Regular Guy Believes, you'll know that I'm more of an Adam Smith guy (or a Hayek guy), and that I think government intervention in the markets has, for the most part, been damaging and dangerous, and remains so.   As Smith said, "Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice: all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things."

On the other hand, as Keynes would say, in the long run, we're all dead anyway.*

* By the way, there was a recent kerfuffle about the great economic historian, Niall Ferguson, who had the temerity to note that Keynes may have believed this because, as a childless bisexual, he had little stake in the future.   Ferguson was essentially subjected to online re-education camp and made to abjectly apologize for this thought crime, although it strikes me as almost completely banal and true that people without children (whether homosexual or not... that was undoubtedly Ferguson's mistake), have less stake in the future.   I would even stretch the point further... cultures with low birthrates (like much of Western Europe), which tend to have high debt and low savings rates, also tend to have fallen away from religion, which, among other things, gives human beings a longer time horizon (eternity) and sanctifies having more children and passing on one's faith.   The connection between smaller families and less religious belief is the subject of a new book by Mary Eberstadt called How the West Really Lost God.   

What's the Bigger Scandal II

Yesterday I asked whether the bigger scandal was IRS targeting conservatives or the simple fact that the Regular Guy (and regular guys like me) have to work until May or so just to pay protection money (read: income taxes) to the federal government.

Here's another example of the everyday scandal that is our government: 

The IRS spent over 4 million taxpayer dollars on a conference in 2010, CNN reported Tuesday evening. The actual amount wasted is unknown because the IRS was not required to keep its receipts, something that they require taxpayers to do.

$4 million dollars.

Some poor schlub out there works his whole life making $50,000 a year and pays maybe $5k a year in income tax (probably less actually).   If he works 40 years, he pays maybe $200,000 in income tax.   So we're taking all of the taxes paid by 20 hard-working American citizens for their whole lives and we're blowing it on a party?   For people who, with government benefits and government salaries and government job security, lead much cushier lives to begin with?

And no one in DC thought that this was... the word is:  immoral.

Atlas.   Shrugging.   Soon.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Girl of the Day - Rosalind Russell

It's Rosalind Russell's birthday today.   Is there anything better in American comedy than the patter between Russell and Cary Grant in His Girl Friday?   I doubt it.

What's the Bigger Scandal?

A.  That the IRS targeted conservative groups for scrutiny and delay under a liberal Democratic President during the years running up to his re-election?


B.  That the IRS takes the first five months or so of the fruits of my labor.  

In.  A.   Free.   Country.

Every.  Damn.   Year.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Ejections and "Showing Up" Umpires

Yadi Molina was ejected from the Cardinals game yesterday in the third inning when he slammed his helmet to the turft after getting thrown out at first on a ball I'm sure he thought was going through for an RBI single in a close game.   Here's the video.    

You can see Yadi turning away from the ump after he slams his helmet and heading back to the dugout, a sure sign that he wasn't protesting the call, but was just mad at himself and/or frustrated at getting thrown out.   Under those circumstances, the umpire could have and should have looked the other way.   More than 40,000 Cardinals fans had paid probably on average $50 each to come to see the Cards, and Molina is one of the key draws.   He obviously thought (erroneously) that Molina was showing him up, but, even so, who cares?   What does the ego of an umpire matter?   No one comes to see the umpires play and, of course, without the players and the game, the umpires would all be selling insurance or managing a fast-food restaurant or doing something like that, rather than making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to umpire games.  

Girl of the Day - Happy Birthday, Marilyn!

I missed this one... it was Marilyn Monroe's birthday over the weekend.   She would have been 87.  Instead, she'll always look like this, taken by George Barris in 1962 when she was 36 and less than a month before she died.

Such a fragile thing.   RIP.

Brave New World

Today's Supreme Court decision in Maryland v. King, permits (5-4) law enforcement to take DNA samples from people arrested (and not just from people convicted of a crime).    In other words, innocent people.   This is fairly obviously the first step toward a national database in which every person's DNA will now be searchable... Obamacare may be the regime that fills in the gap with information about innocent people who have happily never been arrested for anything.   To what rude purpose will some rude, slouching beast of the future put such information?   We cannot know.   But coupled with the IRS' targeting of specific individuals based on the content of their thoughts (too conservative?  too Christian?) we are moving quickly toward Huxley's Brave New World.  

Notably, the decision features the unlikely division of four conservatives and one liberal (Breyer) in the majority, and three liberals and one staunch civil libertarian conservative in the minority (Scalia), Justice Scalia's dissent is well worth reading in its entirety.   Here is a cautionary nugget:

The Court disguises the vast (and scary) scope of itsholding by promising a limitation it cannot deliver. The Court repeatedly says that DNA testing, and entry into a national DNA registry, will not befall thee and me, dear reader, but only those arrested for "serious offense[s]."   Ante, at 28; see also ante, at 1, 9, 14, 17, 22, 23, 24 (repeatedly limiting the analysis to "serious offenses"). I cannot imagine what principle could possibly justify this limitation, and the Court does not attempt to suggest any.  If one believes that DNA will "identify" someone arrested for assault, he must believe that it will "identify" someone arrested for a traffic offense. This Court does not base its judgments on senseless distinctions. At the end of the day, logic will out. When there comes before us the taking of DNA from an arrestee for a traffic violation, the Court will predictably (and quite rightly) say, "We can find no significant difference between this case and King." Make no mistake about it: As an entirely predictable consequence of today’s decision, your DNA can be taken and entered into a national DNA database if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, and for whatever reason.
         Today’s judgment will, to be sure, have the beneficial effect of solving more crimes; then again, so would the taking of DNA samples from anyone who flies on an airplane (surely the Transportation Security Administration needs to know the "identity" of the flying public), applies for a driver’s license, or attends a public school. Perhaps the construction of such a genetic panopticon is wise. But I doubt that the proud men who wrote the charter of our liberties would have been so eager to open their mouths for royal inspection.