Out and About on a Friday

So, we had an earthquake in Nevada. We then had rain. The end of the world was expected momentarily, but all we got was a traffic jam on the US 95.

Senate GOP revives Pelosi’s “we have to pass it to find out what’s in it” policy re: legislation. We’ve given Obama the go-ahead on trade authority…as if anything Obama negotiates could possibly be to the advantage of the United States. That is bad enough – but no one will even tell us what’s in the trade deal. And the GOP leadership wonders why it has a popularity problem…

The economic data just hasn’t been all that great lately. Our government’s solution? Change the data.

Your new car has a computer and a complex program to run the car – manufacturers are arguing that while you own the car, you only own a license to the computer program which runs your car. My view? Not so fast. Suck it up, manufacturers. You want to put all these clever gizmos in the car to get us to by it, fine – but what I pay for I own, completely.

Yeah, Hillary is just as corrupt as we all thought.

Apparently, fighting climate change is the first step to defeating ISIS.

Roger Simon is rather upset about the state of the world. I agree with him on that. But I disagree on the PATRIOT Act thing – I don’t care if we can’t show anyone in particular harmed by it: I don’t trust any government but particularly this government to have that much information on that.

Memorial Day is Monday. It ain’t about the barbecue:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.- John McCrae, 1915

The Iraq War Was not a Mistake

As I noted before, the MSM is asking the GOP Presidential candidates the question, and the GOP candidates are all blowing it – the most recent entrant in the “Get It Wrong With a Gotcha” is Marco Rubio. I realize that the Iraq War is now the most unpopular thing which ever happened, ever, but that still doesn’t make it a mistake. At least in Rubio’s case, the question was honestly posed by Chris Wallace – it was more of, “granted that Bush believed it was the right thing to do then, do you believe it was the right thing to do now?”. The answer to that is an unequivocal “yes”.

Invading Iraq was the right thing to do in 2003. This doesn’t mean it was the only possible course of action open to us. But something had to be done about Saddam’s regime and we had the power to do it. Sure, you can go back and say we should have started arming rebels and sending Special Forces in to work the overthrow of the Saddam regime. Probably would have worked – but who would we have been arming? The people who now make up ISIS? Good chance we would have. One thing I think we’ve all learned is that arming Muslim rebels very often means arming the next set of problems. We could also have left Saddam alone – and now we’d be worrying about an Iraqi nuke along with an Iranian nuke – along with untold number of other problems a Saddam regime would have stirred up over the past 12 years. Among the possible options, President Bush choose invasion – and he was right to do so. And our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines fought with splendid devotion and courage and secured a victory for the United States, and the world. The victory was thrown away by our current President, but that doesn’t make Bush’s decision wrong, nor the sacrifices of our military in vain.

Winston Churchill in his book about World War One – The World Crisis – asserted that it is unfair to criticize someone for actions taken in the past unless the same substantial criticism was made to the decision-maker prior to the decision being made. Unless you’ve got someone from 2003 saying that the liberation of Iraq would result in a 5 year counter-insurgency operation – and showing how you know it would happen and what forces would be involved – then you’ve got no criticism to make about the decision to go into Iraq. You may use the Iraq war as a reason for, say, not going into Syria in 2015, but you can’t use knowledge gained in 2004 to condemn a decision made in 2003.

In human affairs, there is no “correct” answer in that a decision can be made which will 100% work out correctly all the time. Everything is a judgement – a balance of risks against rewards. A wise man hesitates before making a decision – but once the decision is made, moves with celerity to carry it out. And once made, all one can do is the best he or she can. Criticize and condemn the Iraq war all you wish – but to call it a mistake in the sense of “Bush should have known better in 2003″ is to presume to impossible knowledge.

Memo to Conservatives: Don’t Trust the MSM on Pope Francis Quotes

A couple days ago, a lot of conservatives got really ticked off at Pope Francis over an alleged quote calling PA leader Abbas an “angel of peace”. Looks like it wasn’t quite like that – via Stephen Kruiser over at PJ Media:

As is tradition with heads of State or of government, Francis presented presented a gift to the Palestinian leader, commenting: “May the angel of peace destroy the evil spirit of war. I thought of you: may you be an angel of peace.”

As Kruiser points out, exhorting someone to be an angel of peace is not exactly the same as calling them an angel of peace. Kruiser further notes the puzzling fact that many on the right – who wouldn’t trust the MSM on anything – blithely swallow whatever the MSM is putting out about the Pope…as if the MSM actually likes the Pope and would actually do him a favor!

Keep in mind regarding Vatican dealings with the PA that there is a small and highly oppressed Christian minority in the West Bank and no one in the world – other than the Vatican – cares about them. In order to secure any sort of peace and justice for this minority, the Vatican has to work with the PA…and this means walking a very, very fine line. You can complain about it all you want, but until someone with power steps forth to protect the Christians of the West Bank, that is the way it will be.

Anyone thinking that Pope Francis is the “commie Pope” just doesn’t understand Pope Francis or the Catholic Church. Kruiser further points out to anyone thinking that Pope Francis is a liberal should note that a very early act of Francis was to defrock and excommunicate a priest who was in favor of gay marriage and female ordination. For those of you who aren’t Catholic, I’ll make something very clear – the Pope cannot unilaterally change doctrine. Pope Francis will not proclaim same-sex marriage, nor modification of the pro-life message, nor female ordination. It just won’t happen. Ever.

For those hung up on Francis’ condemnations of consumerism and capitalism: lump it. The Church has always condemned capitalism and consumerism. It didn’t like it when the Liberals of the Manchester School were using it to grind up the workers of Britain any more than it likes it today. It never will like it – because profit, as a thing, must never be the prime motivation of economic activity. All actions, to be moral, must have as their motive the betterment of humanity. If you can make a profit while doing that, knock yourself out…but if profits start to come before the needs of men and women, then you’re doing it wrong. How we decide to balance the needs of humanity with the needs of profit in work is a prudential judgement – the Church makes no commands about how you do it, other than you must not lie, cheat, steal, poison the environment or screw over your workers while doing it.

End of rant – and may everyone have a blessed Sunday!

Would You Vote to Authorize the Iraq War?

The MSMers, true to form, are asking all the GOP candidates this question. They haven’t quite got around to asking Hillary, even though she’s the only candidate on either side who did, indeed, vote for the Iraq War. As to why they are asking the question: battle space preparation. They know the Democrats can’t realistically run on Obama’s record, so might as well try to get the issue being Bush, again.

The question is phrased along the lines of, “knowing what we now know, would you have authorized the Iraq war?”. All of the GOP candidates are answering it wrong – mostly by trying to answer it. The proper response to the question is to dismiss it as absurd – because it is absurd. It would be like Asking FDR in the run up to the 1944 election, “knowing what you now know, would you have allowed the Navy to kick it on Sundays rather than having at least half the fleet at sea at any given time?”. Of course the answer is, “I would have had the fleet at battle stations at all times!”. But its a stupid question, all the same. When the decision to invade Iraq was made, we didn’t know what we now know – and a good deal of what we now know is only known because we invaded Iraq. Had we decided not to invade Iraq, a whole series of different issues would confront us today.

The proper way to respond to the question is to state that one doesn’t know what decision he or she would have made at the time, not being privy to every bit of information provided to the President who made the actual decision, with the full support of the American people and the Congress, including Hillary Clinton…but that if any decision comes up about whether or not to use force, it will be made with all due care. To answer “yes” makes you look thick headed, to answer “no” is to presume to impossible knowledge…and to, incidentally, insult every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine who served in Iraq…and especially those who were killed or wounded. It is telling them that their sacrifice was in vain.

Republicans really got to get smart about this – the MSM is going to do nothing but try to destroy Republicans. Every question should be taken in that sense – what bad answer is the MSM trying to get out of me? Will what I say make me look bad to LIV? As 90% of MSM questions are absurd, partisan hackery, the best response is to be dismissive of 90% of their questions and just use any opportunity to speak as a chance to condemn Obama and the eventual Democrat nominee for their 8 years of failure…and then move immediately into talking points about how you’re doing to fix the failures. Don’t play the MSM game – the are just Democrats with by lines and they are out to get you.

Out and About on a Tuesday

I’m only a couple chapters into it, but Jay Cost’s A Republic No More is a definite must-read.

Seems that feminists are on the prowl to find out just whom you follow on Twitter. I suggest Manspreading to keep the women at bay.

Syria is cheating on the WMD deal – but, we already knew that would happen so it doesn’t amount to a new Obama failure.

I was going to link to an article on The Daily Caller where Obama compares America’s wealthy to lottery winners. This is in some respects true, especially as it relates to Obama. But I’m not going to link to it because The Daily Caller’s website is so horribly filled with ads that it always causes my computer to freeze up. And Hot Air ain’t much better. Advice to conservative websites: make your sites user-friendly.

Blogger who was critical of Islam gets hacked to death in Bangladesh. No word yet on whether his family will apologize for his provocation of the killers.

Its no big deal that our MSM routinely refers to Mohammed as “the prophet Mohammed”, right? Well, it would be if they also routinely referred to Jesus as “Our Lord Jesus Christ”. But, they don’t. And they don’t because they aren’t afraid of Christians.

Turns out that McDonald’s has a lower acceptance rate than the Ivy League. Kinda shows how messed up our economy really is:

While the average college student accumulated over $25,000 in debt, the average McDonald’s part-time employee made $40,000 over 4 years. At an Ivy League school, there are generally three possible ways to confront the bill: get a scholarship, have wealthy parents cover the entire bill, or go into massive debt. Some of these Ivy League students might be paying off their debt for decades. Meanwhile, instead of being in the hole, the part-time McDonald’s workers made money overall. Of course, they are all on food stamps, but never mind that.

We’re becoming less Christian. This comes as a shock to no one – what will come as more of a shock to some is just how lousy America will become if this trend continues.

Getting it Wrong About Free Speech and Fear

First off, sorry for the no-posts – I was out of town for a week, so I’m a little behind the commentary curve here. On the other hand, it gave me time to better digest things – and see what everyone else is saying. And what everyone else is saying appears wrong to at least some degree.

Let us clear one thing up: we are afraid. All of us. We are all afraid of the radical Islamists. It would be the height of stupidity not to be afraid of them. They kill people at the drop of a hat, for crying out loud. Of course you’re afraid of people like that. I’m sure my dad was afraid of the Germans and the Japanese in 1944. Here’s the thing, though – in response to this terrible, heart-rending fear of what the Germans and the Japanese might do, he joined the United States Marine Corps. At the age of 17, I should add – you know, in our terms that means he was 9 years shy of being an adult. Still joined up. There were bad people out there who wanted to do horrible things to all my father held dear – his mother and his father and his brothers and his sisters and his country. Off he went. Fortunately to come back alive. A bit north of 330,000 men just like him – who were also afraid – didn’t come back.

That was a different America, of course. In 2015, we are seeing two different responses to the fear, both of them wrong.

On the one hand, we have our Ruling Class – especially in the MSM and including many on the right – who have decided that the best response to their fear is to try and hide. This is where you get the people who say, I love free speech, but… If you put a “but” after something, it probably means you’re full of it. If you love something – seriously love something – then the actual thing you are saying is I will kill and die in defense of it. Someone who says, I love my wife, but…is probably someone headed for divorce court. Such a person doesn’t really love his wife. He’s trying to get the credit which accrues to someone who shows willing to die for a person or cause without, you know, actually risking anything in defense of the allegedly beloved person or cause. Our Ruling Class – logically afraid of people who kill pretty much at random for no actually justifiable reason – wants the credit for being defenders of freedom, but doesn’t want to defend freedom, because defending freedom might get you killed. So we get these cowardly statements which essentially condemn the victims of the Islamist radicals – from the same sorts of people who are always saying Christians and Jews have to take it on the chin in the interests of free speech.

The other – equally wrong – response is to go about provoking these lunatics. Oh, I know – a lot of people who will, say, draw a cartoon insulting Mohammed will be all, “well, I got my guns; let them Islamists come at me!”. Well, what if they come after you at the mall and I’m standing next to you? What if I’m your neighbor and the Islamists get the wrong house? There’s plenty I’m willing to put my life on the line for but most assuredly not so that someone can hurl insults. Freedom is the ability to do the right thing – not the ability to do whatever we darn well please. It isn’t right to insult people. Ever. Not even if they are really mean and nasty people. Look at it like this – suppose I spent an hour just yelling at you all manner of disgusting insults and when you’ve finally had enough, you come at me…and then (by some miracle; and trust me, it would be) I beat you in the fight. Am I a hero? Did I do a grand thing? Nope. I just caused a ruckus – and I didn’t even get my proper reward for being a jerk. Yes, you are perfectly free to say or draw whatever pleases you as far as I’m concerned. I’ll agree to no law or regulation or anything which would get any government agency to stop you from saying what you please. But if you’re being an insulting jerk, then you’re being an insulting jerk – take the consequences…and for pity’s sake, take them when I’m out of range.

We do need to confront and defeat the Islamist radicals. It is a crucial campaign for the safety of our civilization – and, indeed, for the safety of Muslim civilization. What we should be saying is how we’ll get that job done. That is the proper subject for free people to discuss…not whether someone should draw a cartoon of Mohammed and whether or not free speech covers such a thing. Drawing Mohammed or condemning a drawing of Mohammed gets us nowhere. It neither builds public understanding of the threat we face, nor does it produce plans and means for defeating the threat. It gets us into an endless, pointless argument while the enemy builds his forces and perfects his plans for our undoing. In fact, all we’re doing right now is doubly playing into the Islamists hands – by drawing insulting pictures of Mohammed we feed his propaganda among the Muslim people and by craven condemnations of the drawings we explicitly state to the enemy that we’re a bunch of cowards, easy to beat.

We’ve got to get serious about this. The stakes are high – indeed, they are absolute. We win or they win. There’s no in between. We won’t win by being cowards on one hand and hurling mindless insults on the other. This is not about free speech. This is about a justified fear of a ferocious and determined enemy. What we do with that fear decides what happens. I guess dad could have drawn an insulting picture of Hitler, or explained away the Bataan Death March…might have occupied some time. But it wouldn’t have stopped the Japanese or the Germans.

A Riot of Idiocy

I don’t know much about the Mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Her Wikipedia entry indicates a pretty conventional political career for a Democrat – you know: went to college, got out of college and got into government and has never left it. Some say her “space to destroy” remark is being taken out of context and I’ll go ahead and buy that – maybe she was trying to put out an idea and it got mangled in transition from mind to mouth…it does happen to us all. But, on the other hand, she’s the Mayor, not some small-time blogger, like me. Within the city limits of Baltimore, she’s the Commander in Chief in an emergency…it is to her that the law must refer when riots erupt. Within the city, she – and no one else – is ultimately responsible for the lives and property of the citizens of Baltimore. Do understand this – when the chips are down, it is to the top person everyone looks. Not the city council, not the chief of police – to the Mayor. Regardless of whether her destroy remark was out of context, the city clearly fell apart on her watch.

This reminds me a bit of Hurricane Katrina – while the MSM and the Democrats (but, I repeat myself) managed to fix in the public mind that President Bush (who bore zero legal responsibility) was at fault for the failed response, the reality was that the Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana failed. The two leaders were both also rather conventional Democrat politicians who had spent most of their lives in politics – and were the kindly, public faces of the party to the electorate. But, they failed miserably. I think this is because our Democrats are rather clever in most instances – they know they need a kind face in front and so they find one. One who will do as they are told, not rock the boat and allow the nauseating sea of Democrat corruption to continue unhindered by reality. I don’t know for certain if Ms. Rawlings-Blake is as much of a zero as the Mayor and Governor were in Louisiana, but my guess is that she was elevated to the Mayor’s office by the Democrat powers-that-be not because of a sterling record of accomplishment but, rather, because of her loyalty and pliability (she signed off on a plan to fix Baltimore’s disastrous fiscal problems – and it promises to reduce a shortfall over ten years from $750 million to $400 million…which means it fixes precisely nothing and, I’ll bet, even the $300 million saved is probably due to fiscal hocus-pocus; a real leader doesn’t sign off on a solution which doesn’t solve; the difference is in what Walker did in Wisconsin – he really fixed Wisconsin’s fiscal woes).

The main thing to keep in mind outside of the particular merits of the current leaders of Baltimore is that the last time a Republican ran the city was from 1963 to 1967, and Republicans have held the Mayor’s office only 16 out of the last 100 years. Baltimore is the Democrat’s city. They own it. If there is anything wrong with Baltimore, it is 100% the fault of the Democrats. And very liberal Democrats, at that (as an aside, Nancy Pelosi’s dad and brother both served as Mayor – her brother botching the 1968 riots so badly that he was booted out of office after one term; another oddity is that at that time, as well, a Democrat mayor botched the response and a Republican Governor, Spiro T. Agnew, called out the National Guard – and, eventually, federal troops courtesy of the President – to restore order). Bottom line is that if the Baltimore Police Department is a racist oppressor, then it is made up of and run by liberal racist oppressors. I fully expect at the next election the people rioting in the streets will vote for the same people running the show today.

Astonishingly, President Obama actually used the word “thugs” to describe the rioters. Per many liberals, this actually makes President Obama a racist as the word “thug” is code for “N word”. President Obama, more true to form, did manage to place some of the blame on the GOP for the riots, claiming that GOP failure to pass his agenda has meant less money for programs to alleviate the problems which led to the riots. This in service of the ideal that only vast sums of federal cash funneled to bureaucrats can fix our problems. I actually figure the use of the word “thug” was because someone did some polling and found out that riots don’t play well for the 2016 narrative – after all, it has been a couple days and Obama is only speaking just today.

Lost in all this is the man who’s death in police custody sparked the riots (or, at any rate, provided an excuse for criminal elements to go on a rampage). Freddy Gray was no exemplar of good citizenship – but what caused his arrest is that he took off running when the police approached him. He was found with a switchblade and arrested. To be sure, running from the police is not a good idea – but I don’t find in the available information any underlying crime being committed…and arresting someone for having a knife seems a bit extreme (and you can probably thank the good liberals who run Baltimore for making sure that knife possession is illegal). Irritatingly, some on the right are pointing out Gray’s long rap sheet as some sort of justification for his death. Sorry, folks, but being a petty criminal doesn’t in any way, shape or form justify death. Unless the police can come up with credible evidence that Gray attacked them, then the police did wrong (to be sure, in the Ferguson case, the evidence ended up being open and shut – the dead man did attack the officer…and maybe over time some evidence of this will come out in the Gray case: so far, it hasn’t). Most of Gray’s arrests seem to be over drugs, so I guess we can count this as another victory in the War on Drugs? And may we please surrender in that war?

The MSM covered itself in it’s usual glory here – first ignoring the riots when they started because that might have made Obama’s appearance at the White House Correspondents Dinner look bad. Next by trying to some how justify the riots based upon American racism without even once noting that the city is run by liberals (and has a black Mayor, black Chief of Police and is, indeed, 63% black). Interspersed among this has been the sensationalist showing of videos of burning buildings and lack of police presence – coverage assured to get everyone off the couch and off to the looting (except for one young man who has the best mother, ever).

In all of this, I don’t think I’ve seen any intelligent commentary or suggestions. The thing to be done is, of course, a national campaign to reform police practices and for the GOP to start getting into these deep blue cities and start campaigning. Offer the people there a choice, for crying out loud. Do you really think that most people in Baltimore want to live like that? Of course they don’t – but all they get is, at best, a choice between the liberal Democrat who is favored by the party bosses and the odd liberal Democrat who thinks he or she should have been favored by the party bosses. Nothing will change in places like Baltimore until there is something to change to.

It is all really rather sad and enraging – I pray for the people of Baltimore, and of our poor nation, so badly served by politicians and media.

UPDATE: If this is true, then it is a complete game-changer in the Freddy Gray story.