Another Write-wing Conspirator

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    Welcome to my curmudgeondom. As you’ll soon learn, your reactions to my missives here are likely to range from fear to loathing to tears to outright rage—and I just might even evoke from you an occasional sober nod or two.

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    The purpose of this blog is simple: to provide me a vehicle for sounding-off on whatever topic suits me at the moment. While there’s sure to be no shortage of politically-oriented palaver here, it is by no means all (nor necessarily even most) of what will be proffered to your discerning mind. You’ll also find that my personal politics, ethics, morals, and standards are pretty much “all over the map” (according to my mother-in-law)—so, don’t be surprised to see rants regarding, say, the interference of churches in politics, politically-correct anything, “nanny” laws, taxes, the United Nations, Congress, the Commissioner of Baseball, the State of Ohio’s speed limits, steroids, Jesse Jackson, the “mainstream” media, ultra-liberals, ultra-conservatives, the price of cigarettes, Obamarxism, regulating sales of alcohol, gasoline price manipulation, Muslim foot baths, illegal immigration, laws banning the sale of adult sex toys, cell phones, heavy-handed cops, meddlesome politicians, Hillary, Billary, our all-but-self-proclaimed uncrowned Queen Nancy, “W”, eminent domain, freedom of speech, and the designated hitter all in succession. It is, as I said, my curmudgeondom — and I have the credentials and bona fides to lay claim to the title of The Curmudgeon. So, there.

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Archive for August, 2010

A Little Knowledge

Posted by The Curmudgeon on August 28, 2010

It’s still dangerous—as is ignorance of history

Two of the most familiar and oft-quoted observations respectively hold that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and that failure to learn from history dooms us to repeat it.

With that, I present Chris Cuomo of ABC News.

This past week, Cuomo (seeming to echo the growing crescendo of ill-informed mainstream media figures) transmitted the following via his Twitter account: “To all my christian brothers and sisters, especially catholics – before u condemn muslims for violence, remember the crusades….study them”

Interesting.

Some of Cuomo’s Twitter “followers” then engaged him in a bit of back-and-forth, correctly pointing out that the Crusades were in fact preceded by an extended period of Muslim encroachment (indeed, Charles Martel and the Franks halted the Muslim invasion of Europe at the Battle of Tours in 732 AD—long before the First Crusade of 1095-1099 AD).

Not to excuse Cuomo’s ignorance, but his misperception is a common one: that Muslims have been running around in the pissed-off-and-locked position since the Crusades, having never forgiven Christendom for such effrontery—and itching for centuries to get even.

“Get even,” hell; they started this crap.

Or as Princeton University Professor Emeritus Bernard Lewis put it: “The Crusades could more accurately be described as a limited, belated and, in the last analysis, ineffectual response to the jihad – a failed attempt to recover by a Christian holy war what had been lost to a Muslim holy war.”

However, let’s set aside that issue for just a moment to allow me to digress (it is my blog, after all).

Many years ago, there was a war fought in a place known (then) as South Vietnam. Some of you may recall it. Some of you were too young (or still a gleam in your daddy’s eye) at the time. For those who recall that period, there are also distant memories of widespread unrest, anti-war demonstrations, riots, draft resisters, and so forth. It was a long and costly war, and it resulted in deep divisions among the citizenry.

Being in high school at the height of the war (and rapidly approaching draft-able age), I had more than a passing interest in the matter. Personally, I had mixed feelings about this nation’s involvement in Southeast Asia; however, my ambivalence was spawned by my own research.

The same could not necessarily be said of the majority of my peers.

Oh, they could regurgitate the rhetoric on cue. They had all the chants down pat.

But did they really understand what was going on?

I clearly recall a class discussion during that time. I pretty much hung back and listened for a time, noting the by-then familiar rhetoric being offered. Then, I posed a few questions to some of the more vocal critics of the war.

“You say the war is ‘illegal.’ Based on what?”

I was immediately bombarded with cries that the war was an undeclared one, and that Congress hadn’t approved our involvement there. In reply, I reminded them of the “power of the purse” that Congress wields, and noted that Congress itself had appropriated the funds necessary to conduct the war.

No answers to that one.

I then asked them whether they were familiar with the USS Maddox or the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. The “domino theory,” perhaps?

Again, no answers.

Now, I relate this vignette not in an effort to revive the decades-old debate over U.S. involvement in the war, but to illustrate my point that many during that era formed their opinions based not on what they’d discovered through examination of facts but on whatever input (we frequently call them “talking points,” these days) they’d heard from others. It was often a lemming-like acceptance of whatever they’d been fed by commentators via evening news broadcasts—sources known even then for their biased interpretation of events (and reporting thereof).

Which brings us back to the present day, where we are currently assailed by recitals of the current rhetoric. For example, how many times have we heard various sources use the precise phrase “comprehensive immigration reform” in recent months? (This, by the way, is the Democrats’ and illegal aliens’ euphemism for “amnesty and pathway to citizenship to which they have no valid claim since they’re in the country illegally to begin with.”) The phrase’s use seemed to spread overnight, as if by a hidden network (and with the “outing” of the JournoList cabal, the scenario seems quite plausible). Political organizers plant the current phraseology among their minions to go and spread the word far and wide.

Cries of “racism” are also a staple—particularly for anyone with the audacity to criticize anything that Barack Obama says or does.

And then there are the “phobes.” After years of being attacked for being “homophobes,” for example, some are finally (and correctly) pointing out that a phobia is by definition “an irrational fear”—and resistance to the concerted presentation of the homosexual agenda has nothing to do with fear, at all.

Now we’re suddenly dismissed as “Islamophobic” for daring to object to the construction of a mosque where many believe it doesn’t belong, expressing dismay at what seems an insidious transformation of our legal system to a Shariah-compliant state, or pointing out the obvious lie that mass-murder committed by a Muslim officer in the U.S. Army who considers himself a “soldier of Allah” is anything but an act of terrorism. We wonder how there can be a Ramadan observance at the White House while prominent symbols of Christianity are under attack. We question why Uncle Sam foots the bill for repairs to mosques in foreign countries while court challenges halt the restoration of a mission (listed as a national historic landmark) in California based on assertions that the use of taxpayer funds implies endorsement of a religion. We’re aghast that the Obama regime would send an imam (at taxpayers’ expense) through the Muslim world as a sort of emissary and troubleshooter—then have it revealed that this same imam basically said that we brought on the 9/11 attacks ourselves. We’re alarmed and outraged that this imam insists on erecting a mosque at Ground Zero with funds of murky origin, and puzzled that others fail to see the symbolic significance of such a structure to a movement with a history of building mosques to commemorate victories.

Oh, and Cuomo’s response to a Twitter “follower” who challenged his claim? He tweeted: “not sure how pointing out muslim wrongs erases christian wrongs…more defense by attack? proof of bias?”

As Nathan Burchfiel of Newsbusters summed up Cuomo’s response: “So pointing out Muslim wrongs doesn’t erase Christian wrongs — but pointing out Christian wrongs justifies Muslim wrongs?”

Swell. Cuomo’s little bit of knowledge brings us full circle, repeating history once again. The blind leading the blind who refuse to think for themselves, whipped-up by scores of Cuomo’s ilk who have little understanding of history (my wife cites a Biblical reference calling this “zeal without knowledge”) but are intent on shaping the public debate to their liking.

As alleged “Islamophobes,” we’re assailed for having “an irrational fear” about a purported religion of peace that in fact has a long history of extreme violence and repression…a religion that often appears less a religion and more a politically-driven cult with a sinister agenda.

Well, the pundits got the “fear” part right; 9/11 frightened the bejesus out of us. There’s nothing irrational about it, though.

And the current “Islamophobia” label has no validity. What we’re feeling now has little to do with fear.

But we are mad as hell.

________

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Posted in 9/11, corruption, crusade, ground zero, hate crimes, hate speech, health care reform, illegal aliens, immigration, immigration reform, islam, islamofascist, islamophobia, JournoList, media corruption, media establishment, mosque, national security, obama, political correctness, politics, terrorism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

The Money Pit: An Old Law Holds True

Posted by The Curmudgeon on August 11, 2010

Parkinson’s Law meets Obama…and Pelosi…and Reid…

In 1955, Cyril Northcote Parkinson first advanced a concept which eventually became known as “Parkinson’s Law.” Though it’s undergone some revisions and refinements (and led to a number of corollaries), its basic premise remains: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

For example, imagine a worker performing a routine task normally requiring sixteen man-hours (nominally, two business days) to complete. Now, imagine that some genius efficiency expert determines that forty hours (one work week) should actually be alloted for this task. According to Parkinson’s maxim, over a period of time our worker will adjust his routine to expend all forty hours alloted for the task—though he’d previously accomplished the same task on numerous occasions within the constraints of the old standard of sixteen hours. (It could also be argued that for a unionized operation there would be an additional demand for overtime—but, that’s fodder for a different rant.)

One popular corollary of this basic premise will sound familiar to most readers: Data expands to fill the space available for storage (i.e., go ahead and buy that humongous hard drive that makes your current drive look puny by comparison—but, you’re still gonna fill it up).

Another corollary is attributed to Parkinson, himself, and is sometimes referred to as “Parkinson’s Second Law”: Expenditures rise to meet income.

Based upon that assertion, one might reasonably deduce that the esteemed Mr. Parkinson must have at some point studied the spending habits of Democrats.

One might also be inclined to pose a hybrid corollary: Congress increases spending to consume whatever money is available—and even spends money that ain’t there.

Most budgets (whether business, military, or household) are intended to establish limits—not goals to attain. Employees are — from the top down — generally encouraged to find ways to reduce spending. Bringing in a project “under budget” is regarded favorably, as doing so makes available previously committed funds to be applied to other projects; should an overly-generous authorization be encountered, it’s not considered acceptable to spend more lavishly in an effort to insure that all alloted funds are exhausted. Exceeding the budget isn’t allowed; when one runs out of alloted funds, there simply isn’t any more money to spend. Work stops. The household has to wait until next month to buy that new television. The Army parks its tanks, trucks, and helicopters because there’s no money to purchase fuel. Plants close. Employees are furloughed.

Conversely, consider recent comments made by Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA) to a gathering of his constituents:

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned up here, and I didn’t really need to come up here to learn it, is the only way to get Congress to balance the budget is to give them no choice. The only way to keep them out of the cookie jar is to give them no choice. Which is why, whether its balanced budget acts or pay as you go legislation or any of that—it’s the only thing.” (And now for the best part—with emphasis added…) “If you don’t tie our hands, we’ll keep stealing.”

One scarcely knows whether to be aghast at Perriello’s unexpectedly frank admission or curiously relieved by the refreshing honesty of it; at any rate, it at least confirmed what many already believed. (We’ve been known to sing the praises of an honest crook from time to time.)

Of course, Mr. Perriello overlooks recent history. Obama himself (after racking-up trillions in debt) exhorted Congress to adopt “paygo” to ensure that future expenditures would be deficit-neutral. Congressional Democrats enthusiastically(?) accepted the challenge and shepherded the legislation to passage.

…then began side-stepping their own brand spanking-new rule less than a week later.

More recently, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) cut short Congress’ summer recess, summoning members back to Washington to pass new bail-out legislation, tweeting that “I will be calling the House back into session early next week to save teachers’ jobs and help seniors & children.” (more on that in a moment) The price tag? More than $26 billion added to the staggering deficit (forget actually paying for the measure; all this spending merely adds to the mounting debt—for which there are no funds). Actually, the measure as written assigns the tax debt to U.S. firms operating in overseas markets; however, if these firms respond by simply not shifting funds back home to be taxed, the burden for the resulting shortfall (added to the potential loss of $120 billion in profits that might also be kept overseas) would be transferred to…us.

The latest? Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (you know; the federally-financed lenders on which Congress just spent billions upon billions of bail-out dollars it doesn’t have) just crawled back out of the woodwork, hats in hand, to beg for another $3 billion in federal alms. (Don’t breathe a sigh of relief, just yet; this latest request is merely intended to cover the shortfall for the current fiscal quarter. Stay tuned.)

Oh, and (in case it escaped anyone’s attention) there was yet another report released a few days ago showing that the massive “stimulus” package last year had been squandered in large measure on such boondoggles as:

  • $762,000 to create interactive choreography programs at the University of North Carolina
  • $296,000 for a study of dog domestication at Cornell University
  • $2,000,000 to send researchers from the California Academy of Sciences to islands in the Indian Ocean to study exotic ants
  • $500,000 for new windows at the Mt. St. Helens visitors center in Amboy, Washington. (The building has been closed since 2007 and there are no immediate plans to reopen it.)
  • $89,000 to replace sidewalks in Boynton, Oklahoma (The “old” sidewalks had been built only five years before. Moreover, one of them goes nowhere near any houses or businesses and leads directly into a ditch.)
  • $1,200,000 to create a museum in an abandoned train station in Glasboro, NJ

It should be noted that it’s unclear whether this “stimulus” package — intended to create jobs — actually created more than a relative handful.

How does this happen?

No great mystery. Remember the health care reform package? Remember how scandalized we all were to learn that virtually no one in Congress had read it prior to voting on it? It was 1,017 pages long.

This year’s federal budget is 2,450 pages long; how many people do you think have read all of that one? Or last year’s? Or the year before?

Pork-barrel projects are generally concealed very carefully within such spending measures; it’s sometimes nearly impossible to figure out who inserted specific expenditures (if anyone even notices them). In many cases, it’s a matter of “you vote for mine, and I’ll vote for yours.”

And we give these clowns the key to the treasury. Which probably explains why it’s currently empty.

As to Pelosi’s latest effort? Forget saving teachers’ jobs; that’s not what it’s about.

This bail-out is superficially intended to help debt-ridden states (those that refused to rein-in spending…California and New York, for example—blue states, it should be noted) to balance their budgets. The fix will be temporary, as these states have yet to make the necessary cuts in expenditures to ensure long-term viability (last year’s $862 billion “stimulus” package included $145 billion to balance state budgets—and it obviously didn’t last very long). So, Congress will now be voting to decide whether the states that practiced fiscal responsibility are ultimately going to be taxed to bail-out those that refused to.

But, wait; there’s more (R.I.P., Billy Mays). Consider these figures compiled by Americans for Limited Government in a recent newsletter:

Out of the estimated 3.3 million public school teachers nationwide, teachers’ unions were expecting about 160,000 layoffs this year—roughly 4.8 percent of all teachers. Slightly more than 38 percent of those expected layoffs are centered in just three states: 9,000 in New Jersey, 16,000 in New York and 36,000 in California.

About 57 percent of those 160,000 teachers are unionized, with contributions to state and local unions averaging $300 per teacher. Add another $162 per teacher to the National Education Association and $190 per teacher to the American Federation of Teachers (as reported by Education Next), and Congress will in effect be voting to pump no less than $40 million (emphasis mine) into the political coffers of teachers’ unions.*

Quickly, now; which party do you think will be the beneficiary of union contributions?

In other words: If you’re a Republican in a state that has a balanced budget, you can expect to be taxed not only to pay for wasteful spending in California and New York, but also to contribute indirectly to Democrats’ campaign funds.

Not that Queen Nancy (from California—just in case you’ve forgotten) has such thoughts in her mind. She just wants to help teachers and old folks and children. Oh, and cops and firefighters (again, widely unionized). Just ask her.

Just don’t ask her exactly what’s in the measure, nor what it’s actually intended to achieve. (Remember that she once said that Congress “has to pass the legislation in order for you to find out what’s in it.”)

Her mission is, at best, to spend more and more money that we don’t have.

Once again, Parkinson is proven a sage.

So is Congressman Perriello.

Somebody tie Washington’s hands—quickly.

 

 

UPDATE: The $26 billion in spending has been approved by Congress and awaits Obama’s signature.

The watchword now is “BOHICA.” (Bend Over, Here It Comes Again)

* ALG drew heavily from the following sources:

NetRight Daily How 39 Dems and Snowe and Collins Gave $40 Billion to Teachers Unions
EducationNext The Long Reach of Teachers Unions
The Heritage Foundation Teachers Unions Stifle Education Reform

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Posted in budget, corruption, debt, deficit, economy, education, election, federal bail-out, labor, obama, Parkinson's Law, Pelosi, politics, Reid, stimulus, tax, waste | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Manchild in PresidentLand

Posted by The Curmudgeon on August 2, 2010

The difference between men and boys isn’t their toys; it’s their tantrums.

Much has been said and written (though not so much in the mainstream lamestream media) about Barack Hussein Obama’s behavior. The most commonly-accepted assertions suggest that he’s a megalomaniac or that he’s a narcissist—or both.

An old friend of mine, however, blazed a new and promising trail a few months ago when he characterized Obama as a “manchild.”

Bull’s-eye. That summed things up quite nicely. (Thanks, Bob.)

Consider, for example, the spectacle presented to the nation with The Great Blair House Health Care Overhaul Summit of only a few months ago. Faced with a Republican opposition clearly dug-in for the long haul and a constituency that was just as succinct in its disapproval of his grand scheme, Obama responded with what was purported to be a negotiating session to iron-out differences and reach an acceptable agreement; it didn’t take long, however, to see through the facade.

There never was the slightest intent to compromise, nor to even present more than a thin veneer of reconciliation. Obama accurately summarized his position with one statement when he addressed the disparity of speaking time allotted with his blithe “Because I’m the President” dismissal. In a sneak-preview showing of what has come to be his signature strategy, he made a token attempt to present an appearance of good-faith negotiation, offered nothing in the way of giving ground, then seized the public podium to decry the intransigence of those who opposed him. Citing the obstructionist politics of his adversaries, he angrily rationalized his authoritarian ramming-through of the package he wanted.

As planned.

At the first hint of criticism (or even genuine analysis), Obama immediately lashes-out at anyone with the audacity to question him on anything. Time and time again, he has faithfully followed a familiar script—even to the point of attacking the very news media largely responsible for his political success. (For a Democrat — especially Obama — this can be most closely likened to a shark arbitrarily attacking the scavenging pilot fish that accompanies it and provides a cleaning service by devouring the ever-present parasites and scraps. It should be noted that in the shark world, this is practically unheard of; sharks know better.) This initial gambit will typically be followed by a deflection, attempting to shift blame to someone else (though George W. Bush remains his favorite scapegoat, any Republican—or group of Republicans—will do) or claim that his plan is necessary to offset damage done by someone else’s misdeeds. In the event this isn’t immediately successful, bribery and threats may be added to the mix. For the really stubborn resistance, he offers a reconciliation of sorts; however, it never actually materializes. Instead, he simply re-hashes his own proposal—then appears before the television cameras to angrily denounce his opposition for refusing to negotiate and compromise.

This Manchild-in-Chief has repeatedly thrust himself into matters not lying within his purview (e.g., building cars, running banks, interfering in state politics), consistently seeking to expand his sphere of control—all the while either ignoring problems that are his responsibility or attempting to manipulate events for the sake of his own political gain (the most glaring example, of course, being border security). His promises of “transparency” and “the most ethical administration in history” have long since proved hollow. His frequent savaging of rivals reveals a flawed and dark personality, the manchild bent on crushing his opposition in his quest for a government by fiat—his. His pressuring of New York Governor David Paterson to abandon re-election efforts was merely improper; the alleged inducements offered to Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak and Colorado Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff — if proven true — are patently illegal, while his suggested involvement in the ongoing Rod Blagojevich melodrama hints at some of the seamiest of dirty politics to emanate from the nether world of Chicago chicanery.

Obama recently demanded that British Petroleum establish an escrow fund of $20 billion to cover costs associated with the Deepwater Horizon disaster—a step assailed by Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) as a “shakedown.” Though he retracted the charge under pressure from his own party, Barton was pretty much on the money—and Obama knows it. As a (supposed) Constitutional scholar, Obama knows full well that such matters rightly belong in the courts; for him to effectively establish his own set of rules is manifestly improper—if not downright illegal. (The Obama regime, of course, was ecstatic over Barton’s comments and the chance they provided for the White House to portray Obama as being on the side of those who’d sustained losses as a result of the spill—and the obvious opportunity to condemn Republicans as friends of the evil oil industry…yes, that very same oil industry whose money Obama was more than happy to accept in the form of campaign contributions.) Ironically, this little end-run around the Constitution came at almost exactly the same time that Obama directed his Justice Department to threaten legal action against the state of Arizona for (you’ve gotta love this) allegedly trying an end-run around the Constitution with its SB 1070 immigration law.

Several weeks ago, Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ) revealed that in the course of a one-on-one conversation Obama reiterated his refusal to address the issue of border security, insisting that it would be remedied only as part of his sought-after “comprehensive immigration reform” package. According to Kyl, Obama’s worry is that his version of “reform” would fall by the wayside without the pressure of border security concerns to keep it alive—and The Manchild-in-Chief considers his trusted tool (extortion) appropriate to the occasion. Not surprisingly, the White House denies the claim (though the denial sounded suspiciously like a pitch for Obama’s “reform” effort)—but Kyl stands by his statement. (At this point, who would you believe?) Given more recent events (specifically, Obama directing his Justice Department to bring suit against Arizona to block enforcement of SB 1070—enacted in an attempt to fill the void resulting from the federal government’s refusal to stem the flow of intruders), Kyl’s version rings far more true; indeed, note that Obama himself didn’t directly deny the claim — relegating that duty to underlings who weren’t even present at the time of the exchange — and his subsequent actions serve only to lend credence to Kyl’s story.

Perhaps Joe Sestak could shed some light on the matter. Or maybe David Paterson. Or Andrew Romanoff. Or even Rod Blagojevich. (It’s very telling when your credibility is less certain than Blago’s.)

On a more positive note, at least, our manchild stops just short of the archetypal childish act of threatening to take his baseball bat and go home. So far.

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Posted in health care reform, illegal aliens, immigration reform, manchild, media corruption, obama, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »