Tuesday, May 25, 2010

'80s Montage

I'm afraid that some of the clips from this '80s montage will hit some of my readers a bit hard. Chin up BAR, Biobandit, and Bob.

And yes, I'm embarrassed that it must have originated on the Huffington Post.

Check out this great MSN Video: 'Lost' Spin-Off Featuring Dana Carvey

Check out this moderately funny MSN Video: 'Lost' Spin-Off Featuring Dana Carvey

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Disingenuous Reactions to Rand Paul Comments on the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Now that Rand Paul is one step closer to the Senate, all of the media establishment (as if from nowhere) seems concerned with his ideas. However, their the media's sudden interest in Paul is disingenuous. Headlines are misleading, hoping (and probably knowing) that many folks will simply skim them on Google News and form an opinion without reading the article or further inquiring into the matter.

msnbc's headline and article "Paul admits political slip in civil rights remarks: Kentucky Republican Senate hopeful faces storm after questioning '64 law" (when did journalists stop capitalizing words in titles?) immediately implies (by the headline) that Paul spoke out against the act, but manages to make him look like a politician desperately trying to backtrack by opening the article with
In the wake of Rand Paul’s comments on MSNBC’s "Rachel Maddow Show" Wednesday night questioning provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Kentucky Republican Senate nominee said Thursday he supported the law and would not favor its repeal.
So what exactly did Paul say? According to the same article:
In his 15-minute interview with Maddow, Paul repeatedly declined or sidestepped opportunities to endorse the provisions of the 1964 law which require hotels, restaurants, and other businesses to accept all customers without discriminating on the basis of race or ethnicity.

He repeated several times that he opposes racial discrimination. “I’m not in favor of any discrimination of any form, I would never belong to any club that excluded anybody for race,” he said. At the end of the interview, Paul added, “I don’t believe that any private property (owner) should discriminate either.”

But he did not say whether he supported using federal law to enforce non-discrimination in privately owned businesses. He said “had I been around” in 1964 “I would have tried to modify that.”

He also said the debate over the civil right law’s limits on rights of private property owners “is still a valid discussion.”

So Paul repeatedly condemns racial discrimination, but he's obviously for repealing the Civil Right Act because "he did not say whether he supported using federal law to enforce non-discrimination in privately owned businesses" because he is wary of limiting property owners' rights?

He's for repealing the act because he did not say that he loved it? Or is it because he said that he "would have tried to modify" it? Since when does "modify" mean abolish?

Left out of the msnbc interview is this clarifying excerpt from the interview:

I`m not in favor of any discrimination of any form. I would never belong to any club that excluded anybody for race," Paul responded. "What about freedom of speech? Should we limit speech from people we find abhorrent? Should we limit racists from speaking? I don't want to be associated with those people, but I also don't want to limit their speech in any way in the sense that we tolerate boorish and uncivilized behavior because that`s one of the things freedom requires is that we allow people to be boorish and uncivilized, but that doesn`t mean we approve of it. [source]

And yet the media is posting headlines like this gem from theAssociated Press "Ky. Senate candidate questions Civil Rights Act"

Or this one from dallasvoice.com "Rand Paul would turn back civil rights."

What's so ridiculous is that the media doesn't (because it can't) assail Paul for his opinions on race and racial discrimination. It attacks him for having a consistent belief in freedom, property rights, and federalism/limited government.

The real lesson is this: If you think that we've got too much freedom, that property rights are old hat, and that the federal government isn't strong or intrusive enough, then Rand Paul is certainly your enemy.


Even if the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were to be repealed, which companies do you think would revive Jim Crow style policies?


Monday, May 17, 2010

Even the Drug Czar Knows that the War on Drugs Is a Failure

All quotes are from this article.

Here I abridge things a bit, make a few of my own points and ask a few questions:

According to U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, "In the grand scheme, it [the drug war] has not been successful. Forty years later, the concern about drugs and drug problems is, if anything, magnified, intensified."

Taking exception, former drug czar John P. Walters said:
To say that all the things that have been done in the war on drugs haven't made any difference is ridiculous. It destroys everything we've done. It's saying all the people involved in law enforcement, treatment and prevention have been wasting their time. It's saying all these people's work is misguided.
So what really bothers Walters is simply admitting failure. That's about it. Let's continue spending billions each year, and let's sacrifice thousands of more lives each year. Just don't you dare ask us to admit that we failed to accomplish our objectives!

When President Nixon first declared a "War on Drugs" he spent $100 million. Under Obama's administration, the federal government will spend in excess of $15.1 billion. Adjusted for inflation, that amounts to 31 times more spending. So let's ask a couple of important questions: Is drug use down 31 times? Is there 31 times less violence? Are we 31 times better off in any way?

Of course we aren't. So what are we getting for our money?

Using Freedom of Information Act requests, archival records, federal budgets and dozens of interviews with leaders and analysts, the AP tracked where that money went, and found that the United States repeatedly increased budgets for programs that did little to stop the flow of drugs [Insert sarcasm-laden gasp]. In 40 years, taxpayers spent more than:

- $20 billion to fight the drug gangs in their home countries. In Colombia, for example, the United States spent more than $6 billion, while coca cultivation increased and trafficking moved to Mexico - and the violence along with it.

- $33 billion in marketing "Just Say No"-style messages to America's youth and other prevention programs. High school students report the same rates of illegal drug use as they did in 1970, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says drug overdoses have "risen steadily" since the early 1970s to more than 20,000 last year.

- $49 billion for law enforcement along America's borders to cut off the flow of illegal drugs. This year, 25 million Americans will snort, swallow, inject and smoke illicit drugs, about 10 million more than in 1970, with the bulk of those drugs imported from Mexico.

- $121 billion to arrest more than 37 million nonviolent drug offenders, about 10 million of them for possession of marijuana. Studies show that jail time tends to increase drug abuse.

- $450 billion to lock those people up in federal prisons alone. Last year, half of all federal prisoners in the U.S. were serving sentences for drug offenses.

At the same time, drug abuse is costing the nation in other ways. The Justice Department estimates the consequences of drug abuse - "an overburdened justice system, a strained health care system, lost productivity, and environmental destruction" - cost the United States $215 billion a year.

Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron says the only sure thing taxpayers get for more spending on police and soldiers is more homicides.

"Current policy is not having an effect of reducing drug use," Miron said, "but it's costing the public a fortune."

The rest of the article discusses how Obama pays lip service to treating drug use as a public health issue rather than a criminal one, but it points out that he's spending twice as much on the criminal justice side.

Oh, and it ends with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano suggesting the equivalent to drug use is just so bad that we just have to do something!

Even if something doesn't work and costs an awful lot in money and lives lost?

I guess so.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It's an Epidemic of Pandemic Proportions!

Is it too much to ask that people stop calling things "epidemic" just because they are concerned?

I get that childhood obesity has increased, but it's not a damn epidemic. Such hyperbole is disingenuous and downright annoying--almost as pernicious as inappropriate use of the word "like."

Seriously, there's like an epidemic of misnomers here, and I'm like so tired of it. Seriously.

The Onion News Network: Semi-Literate Former Gold Prospector Given Own Cable News Show

Semi-Literate Former Gold Prospector Given Own Cable News Show

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Racism is Racism

This article blew me away.

In a supposed attempt to reduce the achievement gap between black and white students, Mike Madison, principal of an Ann Arbor elementary school, arranged a special field trip in which some kids met with and listened to a presentation from a successful African-American rocket scientist.

And how might this reduce the achievement gap between black and white students? That's easy. Madison (himself an African-American) reasoned that this would get kids more interested in math and science, so he decided to exclude all white students from the field trip.

That's right. He hoped that black scores would go up and white scores would either go down, stay the same, or at least not go up as much. How else do you reduce the gap?

Of course, that's not Madison's stated reason. According to him, "[I]t gave the [black] kids an opportunity to see this type of achievement is possible for even them."

But why forbid white students from attending? If all students had been in attendance, the black students will still have seen a successful black man. Every benefit cited by Madison would have still been valid. The only difference is that white students would have benefited too.

There can be no reason for excluding the white students other than that the principal did not want them to benefit from the field trip.

Assailed by parents, Madison rose to his own defense, saying
The intent of our field trip was not to segregate or exclude students as has been reported, but rather to address the societal issues, roadblocks and challenges that our African American children will face as they pursue a successful academic education here in our community.

And yet he sought to accomplish this intent by segregating and excluding students. He basically said to black students, "You are black, so you get to go." And to white students, "You are white, so you do not get to go."

If you have trouble seeing the blatant racism at play in this scenario, try reversing the races. Imagine a white principal arranging an enrichment activity that he hoped desperately would lead to measurable improvement in achievement scores. Now imagine that white principal arranging the activity for white students only. If it helps you to picture it in the South back in the 1950s-60s, then go ahead. Also, while you're at it, imagine the principal's defenders dressed in white sheets.

Just remember that this crap is happening in Michigan as we speak, and it's promoters wear shirts and ties and vote democrat.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

The Government Is Us?

While I take exception to several parts of Obama's recent speech to students at the University of Michigan, this one annoys me the most:

"What troubles me is when I hear people say that all of government is inherently bad . . . For when our government is spoken of as some menacing, threatening foreign entity, it ignores the fact that in our democracy, government is us."

Bullshit, Mr. Obama, Bullshit. If it was, then my taxes would be lower.

I am not your government, nor am I a part of it, or is it a part of me. I merely endure this government.

By the way, Mr. Obama: don't use the object pronoun "us" as a predicate noun. You would never say "Us is government."

Bill of Rights