04 August 2012
Sally proudly drives a Prius with its COEXIST bumper sticker. She isn't a lesbian but has strongly considered adding a rainbow triangle sticker to show her solidarity with the gay movement. Sally didn't date much in school (she's pleasantly plump) so a photo of her nephews (who live in Indiana, Ohio or one of those other flyover states) in a school-project yarn frame hangs from her rearview mirror along with her Federal ID security badge which keeps those icky citizens out of the halls of government by the people, for the people and of the people.
Sally is proud of the DC Metro and thinks that green public transport should be implemented everywhere especially in places she's never been like Texas and Montana. But the Metro station is very crowded and noisy so she chooses to drive to work where she can listen to Tori Amos, doing an average of 15 mph on the Beltway along with thousands of kindred spirits who believe in reducing emissions at all costs. She sees the empty HOV lane and swells with pride at 20% of the freeway lanes going unused. She has contemplated stopping to get coffee and a bagel but the staff don't speak English at the places along her route. Still, she believes that diversity is strength and that America would be better off if our borders were thrown open. Needless to say, Sally voted for Obama. She's contributed $100 to his campaign but hasn't yet received her 'O 2012' reelection sticker but plans to get one from the pile on her coworker's desk today. Finally, Sally reaches the office. She swipes her badge, sits at her desk and begins compiling Labor Statistics.
Now...what are the chances that Sally, her colleagues, and her like-minded bosses (appointed or elected) will produce numbers favorable to the Obama administration, no matter what manipulations of raw data and formulae are required? Why is government trusted for one single second to evaluate its own performance? It's akin to giving an NFL head coach the scoreboard controls and telling him to 'keep it close.' Madness.
However, in order for the cause to deliver the promised effect, let us examine the spots on all the dominos that must fall in the correct order:
1) The law must reduce or eliminate the deleterious behavior it claims to address
2) Police must not divert their attention from more pressing matters i.e. those which exist approximately 100% of the time spent on patrol.
3) If safety is our overriding concern, then police must also be prevented from the use of their phones, radios, and even in-car laptops while in motion, claims of superior driving skill and training notwithstanding (especially in light of their tendency to do 90 MPH on our highways).
4) Police must be able to discern the act taking place, often through dark tinted glass and often while traveling 70+ mph on the highway
5) Motorists can't claim to be adjusting the radio, their GPS, their mirrors, their air conditioning, their seat, their steering wheel, their iPod, or simply speaking on their phone as oppposed to using it to text.
6) Prosecutors must be able to prove conclusively that the prohibited activity was taking place.
7) The law's punishments should be directed towards cessation of the activity rather than monetary fines that are simply a stealth tax.
If the state fails to meet ANY ONE of these conditions (and many more not listed here) then that is prima facie evidence that the law is as flawed as the motivations behind it. Worse, it is evidence of the state acting in bad faith when it claims to promote safety when its actual purpose is revenue generation (see also: artificially low speed limits in direct conflict with traffic engineeers' recommendations).
The fact is that there are good and bad drivers with or without technological gadgets involved. Licensing procedures and driving tests are an unfunny, undemanding joke especially when it comes to the inexperienced, the elderly and the infirm. But keeping poor or flat-out incompetent drivers from getting behind the wheel would reduce license fee revenue, insurance premiums (which are partially converted to political donations), and the potential for revenue from moving violations and parking fines.
There are those drivers, despite claims by government and its enablers, that can and do rely on their own judgment, skill, experience and intelligence to use communications devices safely while in motion. They complete thousands of safe trips every hour, every day - some of them lucky enough to still have jobs use their phones for business purposes.
One-size-fits-all clothing rarely is, and one-size-fits-all government "solutions" rarely, if ever, solve the problem they purport to address. Indeed, they often make the problem worse.
We haven't even touched on the concepts of liberty, freedom, private property, etc. but they are potent trump cards in the fight against ever-encroaching statism sold under the rubric of safety.
31 May 2012
Obviously these are ideals and/or hypotheticals but then so are most of the concepts enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Ideals are beyond individuals as they should be. Government of laws not men etc.
Now, as a practical matter I recognize that we must first clean house before we can hope to reestablish proper Constitutional structure and practices, therefore if Voter ID is the only way to reduce or eliminate vote fraud then it is a necessary evil but conservatives should be cognizant of the Law of Unintended Consequences. If and when leftists lose power via the ballot box, rest assured that they will make obtaining a photo ID so easy that the proverbial man off the banana boat will be able to obtain one with little or no documentation.
The left never seeks peace in class warfare. Why are is a driver's license and/or vehicle registration somewhat difficult to obtain in terms of bureaucratic nonsense? How many times have you seen a fellow citizen approach the window at the DMV with a clutch of documents, acting in good faith, only to be turned away, or even scolded, for having the 'wrong' information e.g. typos on documents? Experiences like these make the gainfully employed, law-abiding citizens shake their heads at the hand-holding that occurs at welfare agencies. Anyone who owns a car also owns freedom of movement. But again if an ID is required for voting then IDs will become as plentiful and free as leaves on trees.
22 April 2012
Let's stipulate that smoking is injurious to health and has strong links to cancer and other diseases. A reasonable person might also point out that anti-smoking campaigns have been in place for most of our lives and cigarette packages have carried anti-smoking messages for just as long, making these ads surplus to requirements. They rely on the Fallacy Of The Dramatic Example by showing the worst examples (apart from actual corpses - but let's not give them any ideas). But extreme scenarios involving death or disfigurement could be conjured up for nearly every activity in life: driving a car, skydiving, skiing, or even slipping in the bathtub.
The ads and the sentiments expressed are based in cowardice. If the substance being discussed is maiming and killing indiscriminately, why has it not been completely banned from use? We know the answer - and so does HHS - but the same government sponsoring this modern-day Elephant Man sideshow is hopelessly, er, addicted to the taxes generated by smoking. The ends-justify-the-means crowd have an enduring blind spot on this issue. Remember governors and state attorneys general rubbing their hands with glee over tobacco settlement money? It was supposed to be a twin panacea for public health and public finance. Where did all those billions go? And why aren't we all hale and hearty by now as a result of state benificences?
As someone once said, the Bill of Rights should be amended to include The Right To Be Left The Hell Alone. Most of us have precious little leisure time available. When we choose to allocate some of those hours to watching TV i.e. escapism, we do not and should not wish to be subjected to graphic video of amputations, prosthetics, voice kazoos, etc. when we are simply attempting to relax for a few fleeting moments before heading back to work (at least for those still lucky and/or disciplined enough to do so) in order to pay the salaries of Sebelius et al.
Elections mean pandering, and the ongoing political battles over health care mean that the disabled and the ill are often targets of such pandering. We are always scolded with 'person first, disability second' by many of these same DC health commissars. Don't rob them of their dignity or their humanity, we are told (and don't forget the inevitable ADA lawsuits). To them I respond: if you want dignity, then Step #1 is to refuse any offer to act as a political show pony. Surely by now you know that after a few seconds under the lights with a candidate for a photo op, you will be as distant a memory as last Thursday's lunch order. Ignore the blather about cautionary tales, etc. You cannot set a good example by setting a bad example, therefore anyone claiming to be your champion is lying. If you are self-aware enough to realize what your lifestyle has wrought on your body, then please be self-aware enough to realize when you are being exploited.
Leftists have a cult-like obsession with disease and death. Look at their pet causes: environmentalism (i.e. man is voluntarily poisoning his world and in turn himself), euthanasia (they've convinced millions that 'doctor-assisted suicide' is not an oxymoron) and, of course, abortion. They are equally obsessed with playing God, deciding who is worthy of medical care, drugs, and operations, as well as the nonstop coercion of food providers and consumers with laws, bans, restrictions, labels, etc.
Proponents of the ads will claim that shocking images are the only way to get people's attention and change their behavior. But why and how should government be in charge of our attention i.e. our thoughts? References to Orwell and 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' are easy but in this case they are absolutely relevant. As before, an intelligent, educated and free people should neither need nor want any central authority attempting to dictate what to think or how to behave. The individuals appearing in these ads and those subjected to watching them have one thing in common: a government constantly attempting to manipulate them in order to amass more power.
12 July 2011
But NASA and its contractors have nobody to blame but themselves. Relieved of the immense pressure to land on the moon by the end of the 60s, NASA became a make-work agency and just another federal sugar daddy. It took less than 10 years - with some tragic losses in the persons of Ed White, Roger Chaffee and Gus Grissom - to go from Project Mercury to Tranquility Base yet the shuttle program dragged on for 30 years (with its own tragedies of course).
It goes without saying that the shuttle provided diminishing returns. A good rule of thumb was that the greater the hype about a mission, the less important it really was. Fixing the Hubble was important and didn't need NASA's PR fluff. Giving out rides to foreign astronauts as party favors was quite a bit less crucial.
In the end, NASA allowed PC and PR to serve as very weak substitutes for science and progress. Where is the innovation, research and leadership that might provide a path to a new program? Ideas cost nothing yet we apparently have none to offer. Why should we reward inertia with additional funding?
NASA is an organization that has lost its vision. Here's hoping they will use the post-shuttle era to locate it again.
29 January 2011
Note: I have tried to keep politics out of this blog but this isn't a political post so much as a post about veracity and personal integrity.
Impressionists, cartoonists, and even historians rely heavily on identifying and amplifying the physical and verbal idiosyncrasies of public figures, especially presidents.
Their constant presence in the media means that their pet phrases and mannerisms become familiar to all (even against our will) as the inevitable caricatures demonstrate.
There was Reagan's "Well..." and a shrug of the shoulders, GHWB41's slow-motion karate chops on the top of the lectern, Clinton's raised index finger, etc.
Obama is a special case, however, as he rarely has anything to say of substance (or truth, if you like) beyond the verbal window dressing.
His "Let me be clear..." has already passed into legend for its annoying frequency of use and its contradictory nature - for what he says after rarely contains one iota of clarity.
Less frequent - but more insidious - is Obama's reliance on the pet phrase "I've said repeatedly." He occasionally changes it to "I've said in the past" or "I've said all along" but it is his go-to phrase especially in one-on-one interviews.
It sounds harmless enough until you realize several things:
1) He will claim to have said something in the past when no evidence of same can be found.
2) He believes that use of this phrase somehow confers a continuity of purpose, philosophy, policy or action when we know full well this is not the case.
3) He believes that an inherently wrongheaded idea or plan somehow gains validity if it exists for an extended period of time.
4) He uses it as a sort of after-the-fact clairvoyance. When the market dips, when home prices fall, when jobs are lost, Obama will claim to have "said repeatedly" that action X, Y or Z should have been taken. Of course, he never gets round to identifying or taking that action BEFORE negative consequences occur.At the risk of drawing further attention to the more maddening aspects of this intellectual lightweight, I have reached the breaking point with this particular verbal trip hammer of his. It is his umbrella, his shield, his front porch. Count (if you can stand it) the frequency and quantity of "I've said repeatedly." This man cannot stand to be in the wrong. And if he is in the wrong (that is to say, most days), he will claim to have been in the right, safe in the knowledge that nobody within a 100-mile radius of the White House has the nerve nor the initiative to challenge him on the most rudimentary of facts.
23 January 2011
Goat: Roger Goodell, the media and the officials. The media have devoted 75% of airtime to 25% of the AFC/NFC finalists i.e. the New York Jets. Steeler fans may welcome the lack of intrusions but what about the Bears & Packers who are the NFL's two oldest franchises both with incredible histories and a storied border rivalry all of it played in mostly brutal weather? All we're getting from reporters in Chicago are a load of by-the-numbers pregame updates. Meanwhile, extended segments on the Life And Times Of Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez And The Rest Of God's Chosen People Including The Fans Most Of Whom Are Wearing Chrebet #80 Jerseys are on heavy rotation.
Goodell and the NFL earn goat horns for putting a game in the CENTRAL time zone ahead of a game played in the EASTERN time zone. Who cares if it's a New York team? It's preposterous to believe that all four sets of fans won't be watching regardless of kickoff time, especially when it's 8 ****ing degrees out across the northern US and everyone is indoors already. Further proof that Manhattanites view the large landmass beyond the bridges and tunnels as a foreign land full of rubes who deserve what they get and are lucky to get it.
There's no need to wait until gametime to decry officials' bias. Think they don't know the NFL along with Jets TV, er, ESPN, is absolutely dying to get the Jets to the Super Bowl?
Let's all take a moment to remember Tim Donaghy. Sleazy crooked basketball official who was in thrall to the bookies, they said. The NBA and its media partners did their level best to discredit and destroy him but they could do nothing about his claims that the league demanded and engineered desired outcomes of certain games and playoff series - probably because the claims were true! David Stern lost his permanent smirk for a few weeks while he worked feverishly to stifle coverage of that subject. Several years on NBA fans (hands up, both of you) are supposed to believe that, gee whiz, the Finals matchup is just a one of those flukes (again)!
The NFL does its outcome-tilting with a bit more style due to the larger audience involved but there are a host of issues such as advertising (read: big markets come first) that are higher on the list than objectivity. The replay system, ostensibly designed to aid officials and 'get the call right' has become another tool for the league office to influence results from afar while providing cover for the on-field officials since all parties can blame an inanimate object - deus ex machina. NFL referees don't make calls; they make speeches. But if the rulebook - lovingly cared for and modified by the competition committee (themselves inherently biased since they attempt to alter the rules to favor their own franchises) - is unambiguous why the need for the Hamlet soliloquy? It's because trotting out a load of codswallop enables the 'neutral' NFL to make a show of claiming the referee 'interpreted the rule correctly/incorrectly' - all after the fact of course and if your team took it in the shorts better luck next year. Shouldn't they all get together BEFORE the season to agree on interpretation of rules?
The point is: if there is a close call it will favor the Jets. The Steelers should be prepared for it and brush aside any feelings of surprise, anger, injustice, etc. In fact, they should assume that they are down 7-0 at the beginning of the game and make no less than a 14-point margin their target in order to mitigate the tinge of green that will be visible on the black and white striped officiating crew.
Outcome: 23-17 Steelers. The only problem with advancing so far in the playoffs is that Bruce Arians looks at himself in the mirror and convinces himself (again) that the team is winning due to, not in spite of, his trickery and guile. Like Robert Stack in 'Airplane!' who orders the runway lights turned off because 'that's just what they'll be expecting,' Arians will serve up a contrarian game plan that uses the most talented players as decoys and ignores high-percentage plays regardless of down and distance. Everyone is obsessed with the matchups between the Steeler starting WRs and the Jets DBs but that will likely be a stalemate. Loads of passes underneath to the sure-handed Heath Miller seem to make eminent good sense but Miller will find himself ignored again. Arians will pass even when the defense is ripe to give up running yards simply because he views it as a contest of oneupmanship with Rex Ryan. Let us not forget that last week's offensive game-changer came about because BR7 vetoed Arians' original playcall.
The Arians/Tomlin axis will settle for field goals and make the game closer than it should be - a regrettable Pittsburgh 'tradition' since Chuck Noll was in charge and certainly continuing during the Cowher era. The Jets will get a TD from an INT, PR or KOR which will give them a huge emotional lift in addition to the free 7 points. LeBeau will make extensive use of the nickel as he attempts to prevent Braylon Edwards et al from running streak patterns all day while relying on a 3-man rush and his trusty LBs.
Intangibles: the Jets' reaction to finally vanquishing their division mate Patriots was somewhat over-the-top and one is reminded of the Arizona Cardinals' giddy reaction to winning the NFC title game especially in contrast to that of the Steelers who, after winning the AFC, symbolically shrugged their shoulders on the way to packing their bags for the real prize. Perhaps only Barack Obama has enjoyed better PR from the East Coast press than Mark Sanchez but he is still a 2nd year QB and facing a defensive coordinator with, oh, only 50 years' more experience in the game. Let's hope the virus known as false confidence infects both Sanchez and his offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.