Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Senator Ted Kennedy's Legacy

In reference to the many retrospectives coming forth on Senator Ted Kennedy's Senate career, I'd like to add another vital item.
Kennedy was one of the most rabidly anti-gun elected officials ever, as one would expect from a left-winger with a longing for the benevolent dictatorship characteristic of that political bent.
With the considerable power he had amassed, Kennedy was responsible for a remarkable wave of anti-gun legislation, along with a secondary wave of anti-gun sentiment he fostered by his very success.
The flip side of this legacy, though, is more beneficial to America in a larger sense.
In 1968, when the gun bans reached their takeoff power, the vast majority of Americans owned guns, knew about guns, and knew damn well that they were not raving, homicidal maniacs perpetually on the brink of insane violence brought on the presence of a firearm.
The same is still the case today, even though that majority is no longer overwhelming, and perhaps may have even slipped into a large minority. We're not sure- polling methods are usually highly suspect on this topic.
The impact of our elected officials, as led by Kennedy, insisting we were both a menace to humankind, and that the rights outlined in the Constitution were of no consequence, served to start millions of minds thinking... thinking about why we were supposed to believe all this nonsense.
I can testify in my own case, as a Boomer launching into adulthood in a very left-wing environment (the far north side of Chicago), my upbringing as a free-thinking liberal lefty was utterly demolished by Kennedy and his gun controller friends, along with his plans for registration and then confiscation of every gun in civilian hands.I knew at the most basic level that I wasn't the homicidal maniac I was told I was; I knew that someone telling me that was not to be trusted.
I never read the Constitution with any seriousness until the onslaught of gun control that inundated us in the early and middle '70s; I submit that many millions of other Americans found themselves at the same point. Ronald Reagan's election, marking the beginning of the end of postwar progressive takeover of America, had plenty to do with gun rights, and by extension, a need felt by most Americans to reel in invasive and confiscatory Big Government.
While I don't consider myself a radical, hardline gun owner, I do know that I voted for Reagan in significant part because of gun control, as advanced by Ted Kennedy.
If Kennedy's legacy could be said to be that he got so many Americans to take a closer look at the Constitution and the Americanism it represents, then that could said to be a positive, no matter how unintentional.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The natural mechanic

My father was a mathematics wizard. Yes, he was quite a few other things, too, not the least of which was a sports guy, as in team sports. He was extremely well-spoken, patient to a fault, and blessed with an active, not to say devilish, sense of humor.
But most of all, he was a math guy. Mathematics lived inside his mind as casually and easily as birds in the sky and fish in the sea. He saw numbers clearly and grasped their interaction so intuitively that he could practically do what might nowadays be called "amazing calculator tricks".
Long division to several places, in his head? Took a few seconds, but no problem. And no errors, either. Ordinary addition and subtraction seemed not even to need actual thought. Suddenly, there was the sum or remainder.
He spent his adult life in the insurance business, in the days before small computers and tiny calculators, and so this gift was of great assistance in daily life. He could stun customers with his lightning-fast calcs, done longhand on paper in the most beautiful cursive script you'd ever see (as the old nuns had pounded into him, he might say), and assimilate sporting statistics and rearrange them in a blink to prove a point, tag a trend, or spot a shortcoming.
In other words, he was a damned smart guy. Yes, you may misinterpret that with the other meaning as well, with no offense; he'd likely have agreed.
But what he wasn't, was a mechanic, or more specifically, a natural mechanic.
Nearly everyone will agree on that as a concept: that some humans have a brain built in a way that gives them a natural and effortless grasp of the interaction of physical objects, in much the same way as my dad seeing a page of numbers.
Some people even refer to those so equipped with a bit of, dare I say, reverence, as if the comprehension of mechanical parts interacting was some sort of special gift, like an ability to see into the future, or win at casino gambling, or to hit the curve ball. I don't think there's too many folks who don't, at one time or another, didn't wish for the appearance of a "natural mechanic" to cure some ill with a machine or structure.
It gets delicate, here, for Your Correspondent, wishing to proceed with the modesty of mien he was raised to have, but still, in his mind, being a natural mechanic himself. Fine. So I can go around the corner a little bit and mention that one of my brothers is a natural mechanic, and who followed in his father's mental footsteps by also being a gifted athlete and an exceptional mathematician.
But his father wasn't a natural mechanic. We would joke, lovingly, that he could barely operate a screwdriver, and only if you handed it to him facing the right way. A power drill was an object of great caution, and a power circular saw was simply to be shunned.
So where did his natural mechanic son come from? He can look at building and see things all the way through and top to bottom, and formulate answers to the problems as easily as putting a toothbrush in his mouth. The father? Never happened.
Two smart guys, two quick, effective thinkers, two highly analysis-capable minds. Two different sets of skills.
Quite a mystery to ponder, but one that has illumination value for some other difficult-to-understand seeming contradictions.
There, so while you, dear reader, are pondering all this, Your Correspondent is going to move on to another mystery, very much in the public square: anthropogenic global warming.
"Anthropogenic" means caused by human activity. In other words, AGW holds that humans, and specifically their "carbon" emissions, are causing a sudden, spectacular, and ultimately destructive increase in the planet's temperatures, so badly that a horrifying change in the entire planet's ecosystem is catastrophically nigh.
Like many another recasting (see post elsewhere here), this is frequently shortened both to simplify and to misdirect as "global warming". The basic tenet of AGW, and please don't drop off that "anthropogenic" part, because it's critical, is that humans are wrecking the planet. Not only that, but that the day of overwhelming cataclysm is due almost any month now, and only by reverting to the ways of our cave-dwelling, early-hominid ancestors can this light-switch-sudden change be mitigated to any degree.
AGW has become something akin to a cult. Never mind the science that has been cited to support the concept of worldwide climate catastrophe (let's call it "WCC" for fun), because the real guts of the AGW movement is the need for penitence, every bit as much as prudence.
And underlying that penitence is simple statism: the desire to put more and more of human activity under the positive control of the State; the spread and centralization of government.
The most obvious indicator of the cultiness is that now, to discuss the process of WCC via AGW in any curious or inquisitive way to commit heresy. AGW high priests have literally said, in public and being recorded, that there's "no question" to the science that proves their theory.
No, it's not even a theory: it's a proven fact, a fait accompli, a done deal.
Even the most non-scientifically-minded person should be given pause upon hearing so rash an assertion. Nowhere ever in the history of human science has any proposition been in the realm of"no question". That is exactly what scientific thought abhors: an absence of curiosity.
Insisting there's "no question" ought to, to any thinking person, delegitimize any statement purporting to be based on science.
Still, the anthropogenic global warming juggernaut roars on, crushing the curious and flattening the flouters with a righteous fury any old-time evangelist would be proud of.
But, with the actual science of AGW disintegrating week by week, and here I refer you to the reports of the NASA data most commonly cited as the true evidence being shown to be faulty, to a fatal degree (I'll take that pun, there), you would think somebody'd be starting to ask why the bum's rush, why no skepticism, why no dissent allowed?
Well, that's the way cults work, especially those emanting from the progressive corner of world view and political thought. Flagellation of America, be it the chief executive, the military, the economic system, the very concept of American exceptionalism, is the hoitiest of the toitiest, the loftiest of the most absolutely hippest, the smart set's take on just about anything about the US of A.
Well, automobiles came from the US, this thinking goes, as does large-scale electrification, and all the other horrors believed to be caused by the Great Satan, and so it must be, automatically, wrong. Not just wrong, but immoral, and for good measure, planet-wreckingly immoral.
Make no small accusations!
But, as few mainstream media consumers and Hollywood-movie-goers are aware, that factual basis for this deep belief is indeed being questioned. Real scientists, most notably those with actual experience in the natural sciences (as opposed to those with 28-million-dollar homes bought with speaking engagement fees) are either jumping off the AGW bandwagon, or still insisting there was never even a running board's worth of space on it in the first place.
The debate should be raging, but isn't. In schools, where rigid doctrinaire thought is being implanted with unconcern, children have been so drowned in the religous dictates of AGW that anything they might do that could be seen as disputatious would be stamped out in two shakes of a teacher's marker pen.
So, you may ask, what the heck does this all have to do with the concept of natural mechanics?
Simple- find one, ask him or her if he or she is good with AGW as a done deal, and I can assure you that are quite unlikely to be answered in the affirmative. Planet-wrecking warming being caused by little bitty humans spewing microscopic amounts of carbon?
Man, it just doesn't seem to figure. It's just not... natural.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Inversion therapy

I was brought up to consider all of my actions on the basis of what's known as the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
But my dad had another perspective to overlay the Rule: when you're trying to consider a situation, event, remark, or pretty much anything in human interaction, try reversing the positions of the people involved. If A does X to B, is it proper for B to do X to A?
That kind of inversion has a great deal of utility now in the times of Presidential transition in shedding light upon the derailment of civil discourse in the discussion of President G.W. Bush.
The shoe-throwing incident in Baghdad, Iraq this past week could hardly have been a better illustration of how wrong the apprehension of Bush has been.
We've been deluged with news media reports of celebratory responses to the news of the shoe assault. No doubt that happened, to some degree. Perhaps even to a somewhat considerable degree. But it hasn't been anything like the universal sentiment that has been portrayed.
While beyond the comprehension of the Bush-hating news media, much of the world has been dismayed by the assault. And that's what it was, in reality: an assault upon a lawful head of state. Despite the insistence by thousands of unhappy Americans declaring the Bush "isn't my president", the real-world fact is that he is the President of the United States, and an attack upon him is still an attack upon a head of state.
The none-too-great lethality of the attack is of some import, but not as much as the basic fact: The Chief Executive of the US was assaulted.
Fine, now let's apply my dad's inversion therapy, updated for 21st Century American politics.
If an "enraged" Iraqi journalist, devasted over the desolation of his destroyed country after President Obama precipitously removes the American military despite the Iraqi (and world's) asking that they stay long enough to complete securing the victory acheived in mid-2008, beans Obama with his footwear, will that be a happy, even hilarious chuckle moment for the same folks who are displaying such unconcern, if not outright pleasure, for the same thing being perpetrated against Bush?
The obvious other flipper is to look at what happened to the thrower, who now, not incidentally, has apologized for his juvenile behavior (hear about that on CNN? The Trib's front page? Thought not.). His arms were not pulled out. His genitals were not removed with a torch. His eyes are still in their sockets and fully operational. And his wife was not raped and dismembered in front of him by a dozen Iraqi soldiers.
In fact, he was simply taken into a functional legal system and is going through the process, as he no doubt knew in advance would happen.
He knew he wouldn't be harmed. He knew he'd be fine.
He, better than practically anything else on the front pages, showed that we'd won, and the war against Iraq was over.
So the cacklers are going to go whistling right past the obvious: the "war" is over. The good guys won.
And George Bush just laughed at yet another crazed assault upon the guy who made the assault survivable.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Incomparable Iowahawk turns 5

Listen, we all know that the Internet has allowed the creation of a huge number of wonderful weblogs, scores or even hundreds of them intelligent, knowledgeable, peripatetic, and capable of knocking down untruths, false memes, faulty convential wisdom, and the myth of journalistic ethics. Your Correspondent will immediately cite Powerline, Instapundit, Jules Crittenden, and another half-dozen as the best of the best.
And while comparisons are indeed odius, they don't get any more olfactorily offensive than suggesting that there's a better observational blog, satire division than Iowahawk.
He, David Burge, is celebrating his fifth anniversary of being loose upon the 'nets, and I can only hope as a keyboard-pecker of grossly inferior skill, talent, and hope, to someday do a set of words that can come within an Iowa Interstate 80 mile (they are especially long, aren't they?) of Iowahawk's worst.
Yes, this is a crude attempt to gain entrance to IH's hallowed blogroll, and maybe even a blurb-out listing, but I still stand in awe of the capaciousness of mind that Mr. Burge has demonstrated to a barely worthy Web world and hope that he finds even greater success in the many half-decades to come.

One mystery solved

Of all of the unclear things about the corruption arrest of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, to this observer the biggest mystery has been: why an arrest (instead of a grand jury indictment), and why so soon?
The arrest method, done just before sunrise on a Tuesday at the Governor's home in Chicago, was extraordinary all by itself. Federal prosecutors nearly always prefer to have politicians turn themselves in at a Fed office. This takes some of the onus off the prosecutor's office and puts it on the accused. Knocking on a front door (after a cell phone call) in the dark is simply unheard of for a sitting official of any import.

But something went wrong with the Blagojevich investigation, that much has been obvious from the moment of the arrest. Not nearly enough has been made of this in the media/punditocracy storm. While the gaudy, top-of-the-story lede about "selling the seat" has grabbed the attention, to the detriment of the attention needing to be paid to the surrounding graft and malfeasance, the actual taking into custody portion is still the bright light in the sky no one's looking at.

Clearly, the prosecution had much more to come, and with the network of wiretaps and surveillance blanketing the players, one would have hoped the Feds could have snared more than one of the miscreants right smack in the act.

That didn't happen, and a lot of bad acts didn't happen, didn't get recorded, and didn't get anyone busted.

Well, now the Wall Street Journal has come out with an article describing how it was our good friends at the Chicago Tribune who yanked the rug out from underneath Fitzgerald and derailed the whole investigation. Yes, that same Tribune so vociferously attacking Blagojevich while preening and congratulating itself for being a vital cog in the bust.

It even ran an article itself, boasting how the Tribsters showed such excellent judgement as they withheld a story to let the prosecutors go deeper into the sewer.

Except, they didn't. They broke their story prematurely, on the Friday before the arrest, and sent the cockroaches scurrying from the light they then knew was about to be turned on them.

It's hard to describe how enraging this is. If it's true, and the WSJ quotes the Trib editor responsible with words that indicate they knew what they were doing, there's a whole world of questions for the Tribune, not the least of which is: Are you a co-conspirator in this mess?
Yes, the obvious first conclusion is that the paper did what it did for money. Plain old greed. The paper's failing financially, and they thought they could grab a few more bucks by popping early.

That's nice, and credible, and fits nicely with so many of the Trib's writers sneering at corporations and their vile profit-driven amorality.

But given it's the Chicago Tribune, and Barack Obama is involved, any sane person has to stop, hold their nose, and look again.
The first thing that occurs to this observer is that the Trib is protecting their guy Obama. They've always been there for him, most grossly with the takedown of Obama's senatorial opponent back in 2004, when they used their front page and the credibility of their ostensible major news media podium to wipe out Republican candidate Jack Ryan. We're still waiting for the Trib to publish any credible evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of Ryan, even these four years later, but that didn't stanch the flow of accusation cascading from the Trib's front page.

Now, with their man on the verge of "assuming power", as they so love to put it, legitimate scandals are erupting all around him, stuff that should have seen the light of day while big-time journalists were working their typing fingers to the bone proving that Sarah Palin is a stupid goof. The Blagojevich scandal cuts close to the Obama myth, but it's slicing up Obama's closest contacts, not the least of which is Rahm Emanuel, chief of staff (maybe).
We've already noted Emanuel's sudden and unusually uncharacteristic disappearance from the news media. There are reports circulating that he's appeared in numerous instances in the Blagojevich tapes.

Would the Trib have taken down the investigation just to protect Emanuel? For heavens' sake, that doesn't seem like it would be worth it, not if even gaudier busts were coming in the next few weeks.

I'm going to hold on before making up my mind about the real motive, but plain greed and saving the Rahm just aren't enough to satisfy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Weaving around in Springfield

Today, the Illinois State House of Representatives began initial committee meetings to initiate an impeachment against Governor Rod Blagojevich.
In a land where things disappear with amazing alacrity, so has the "request" made by the Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to the Illinois Supreme Court to precipitously remove the governor on the basis of his being "disabled".
It's possible that the chorus of thousands of wags pointing out his "disability" was the same as Madigan's, and scores of other Illinois politicos', might have slowed that train down just as it was clearing yard limits and making it out onto the main line.
When even leftist rags like the Chicago Tribune take a breath and a second look, you know the "request" plan had to be really stinko.
With The Obama's thunder being smothered day after day by the emanations from the sewer he just was sent from, the President-elect trotted out Chicago Schools boss Arne Duncan to be his secretary of education. Despite what non-native viewers might think, Duncan's actually clean, and has half a brain, and a good work ethic.
The tough part for the rest of the country is that Duncan's effectiveness bodes ill for those who believe that the Federal government has no business interfering in education in the first place, as, some may point out, it has no Constitutional authority to do.
Since expanding the power and control of the central government in his own image is Job One for Obama, though, having a non-putz running a bureaucracy that has enormous power, even more money, is shot through with teacher's union tentacles, and lives on top of a pretty cloud where grubby conservatives can't reach, isn't so great.

Meanwhile, back on the corruption beat, the real news of the day ought to be the new shining of a bit of a light on Machine (and Obama) fixer Tony Rezko, whose sentencing (following his conviction on Federal corruption charges) was mysteriously, and suddenly, put off Monday. Persons revolted by the staggering corruption in Illinois have reason to cheer that; maybe he's back to thinking about talking again, something the Feds, and all right-minded folks, really want. He could give forth with some really interesting stuff, the prosecutors may think, and might get some indictments some extra horsepower to climb the mountain of Machinery in front of them.
It's hard not to imagine that this latest change in Rezko's status is connected to Blagojevich's arrest. Who knows who might clear his throat and begin singing?
Oddly, I don't get that there's too much danger for the president-elect. It doesn't seem Fitzgerald and his merry band want to get after O, perhaps because he really hasn't done anything, legal or criminal, or anything in the way of "accomplishment" (save conning folks out of a cool billion). Or, maybe it's just common sense not to sniff too close to the new boss.
But the total media disappearance of major Obamite Rahm Emanuel is almost shocking. A guy who never could pass a news camera by without saying something fraught with powerful importance suddenly going mute, and invisible, is an eyebrow-raiser.
We've been assured Emanuel's not done anything "wrong", and specifically in the course of the passing on of Obama's former US Senate seat, but... there were lots of wiretaps going on out there, and their centerpiece, Blagojevich, talks to lots of folks in the course of things.
Now, Obama assures us that he's had an investigation done and everything's fine.
It's probably a good idea to have your own people investigate themselves, as it must simplfy things quite a bit. One has to appreciate the energy savings of it all. Very green.
But like every other thing Obama's given forth with since he got within a month of his elevation to the Oneness, there's a snagger line in there. This one's nearly unfathomable: that he'll release the results of his investigation "in a week".
A week? What the heck is that about? What happens in a week? The Rezko sentencing isn't happening soon, supposedly. Blagojevich isn't resigning in a week. Well, who knows, about that, either.
Why a week? Man, that's a juicy little nugget.
Or not. It could just be more bumbling from the guy whose been in the vicinity of more scandals between Election Day and Inauguration Day than any president ever.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Law? What law?

Today, December 15th, is the Bill of Rights Day in the United States, celebrating the ratification of the first ten amendments to the original Constitution. While drafted and debated with a certain amount of controversy- some of the Founders felt that there was no need to enumerate the obvious, and in so doing, constraints upon those rights could grow up around the edges of the Bill of Rights- the Ten were voted in on this day in 1791.
While the modern assault upon those ten and many another is ongoing, an unusually brazen one took place here in northeastern Illinois over this past weekend.

Launching off what must have appeared to her to be overwhelming public demand, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan held a heavily-covered press conference outlining a "request" she had officially made upon the Illinois Supreme Court to forcibly and immediately remove Governor Rod Blagojevich from office.

Long-time Chicago observers found themselves on guard at once, seeing that the Attorney General had by her side former Congressman and judge Abner Mikva. Those not so familiar with Mikva, or with a benevolent view of the old Machine judge, should pay more attention to his presence.

Of course, his main purpose at the press conference was to lend some august-seeming weight to Madigan's plans. He's a big-shot famous judge, right?
Well, yes, but he's also a pretty good representative of the worst of mid-level leftist judicial activists from the '60s period. Prior to that, as a Congressman from Chicago, he was so far, and so staunchly Left that we had to imagine even his Boss, Richard the First, had to shake his jowly head at Mikva's proclivities for the authoritarian State.

He was the perfect "bookshelf backdrop" for Madigan's assault on the Illinois Constitution, and the notion of representative government in general.

Madigan filed a request saying that the Governor should be removed at once, owing to his being "disabled". There is a provision in the Illinois Constitution that a chief executive can be removed for "other disabilities", and Madigan made her determination that in fact, the Supreme Court should take that action.

As a legal brief, Madigan's paper is laughable. It cites little in the way of factual support and really, no legal window dressing at all, beyond "I said so." It's so brazen that even the Mainstream Media hordes preparing to adore her as they did her Machine predecessor on the national scene had to pull up short.

The urge to protect the Cook County Democratic Machine and it's fledgling president runs strong among our esteemed pontificators, so strong that the complete vaporization of Blagojevich in order to protect the Obama cannot possibly happen soon enough.

So, in the grand tradition of the modern statist (think prosecutor McCoy on television's bone-chilling "Law and Order", many modern American's concept of the American legal system), Madigan took prompt and precipitous action.

The fact that this plan has so many flaws the Internet is groaning under the load of lawprof blogs and even other responsible commentator's howling about the extra-legality of it didn't slow the Attorney General in the slightest. Coolly facing the media hordes, she went on an on about how she's representing "the people" of Illinois and so she's the good guy here. One gets the idea that she's just as dumb, just as clueless, and just as arrogant as her target, Blagojevich.

Even in the background, the Machine pretty boys, hacks, and Wizards of Oz have been slewing around crazily trying to find solid ground to stamp their foot down on. Lt. Governor Pat Quinn, shortly to be Governor himself, once said that there should be a special election, at the soon-upcoming and convenient date of the spring primary elections here in Illinois.

He quickly departed that island for the next, as has so many of his cohorts, and then Madigan was trotted out with her Draconian plan.

Of course the Dems don't want an election- they're manuevering themselves into a position to lose the dang thing, despite the staggering incompetence of their Republian Party opposition.

Especially with a new storm cloud seeming to be brewing over the other Big Star from the Machine, Rahm Emanuel, laying things out in public are counter-productive for the Daleys and their operatives, from Obama through Madigan and down to the last ward committeeman on the city's northwest side.

Many other commentators have already visited how the AG plan is mostly intended to insulate the state's Democrats from the embarrassment of impeaching, convicting, and removing the governor they just rammed down our throats- twice. Furthermore, Madigan's father, the Speaker of the Illinois House, Michael Madigan, would have to be the one putting together the impeachment, shining way too many lights upon himself, his daughter, the Democratic Party, and the Machine that runs the whole thing.

A week ago, Your Correspondent was fairly sure Madigan planned to use the governorship to launch her presidential aspirations. That comes in part from our conviction that Americans much prefer to elect governors, actual chief executives, to the White House, and not gasbags from the US Senate. Perhaps this past election has undone that paradigm, what with a gaggle of gasbags clogging up the presidential field, with only two governors, Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Sarah Palin of Alaska, figuring in at all.

Therefore, it now seems possible that Attorney General Madigan feels her future is best served by vaulting into the Senate and leaving the governorship in the hands of Pat Quinn, where it's about to easily fall anyway. That way, she can avoid the trap of actually doing anything of consequence, as her predecessor Obama craftily did on his way to the Big House. Sorry, White House.

It's hard not to point out the franticness with which the Democrats at all levels are insisting that this senatorial appointment must happen at once! at once!; that Illinois' citizens are being denuded of their rightful representation by the vacancy of the junior Senate seat on Capitol Hill.

For goodness' sake, folks, Barack Obama never did a thing with the seat anyway, and racked up one of the worst attendance (and work-) records in modern Senate history. He wasn't there, so someone not being there now's no big deal.

Excepting, of course, that with the US Senate close to being filibuster-proof upon the balance having swung so close to a Dem supermajority, they fear losing total control of all branches of the Federal government and so, risking the total power to rule that their Obama needs.