Archive for June, 2007
The immigration legislation debacle will turn out one of two ways. If it goes through, President Bush will claim success and it will be the legacy of his presidency along with his response to terrorism.
Let’s recap, shall we? The bill came to the Senate originally through a self-appointed committee of Senators, bypassing the normal committee process where Senators can debate and amend proposals in a sane and rational manner. The “Masters of the Universe” wanted only four days of debate, but under pressure, Reid gave it eight — but refused to allow more than a handful of amendments. The bill lost on cloture by 15 votes, a clear rejection of the arrogance of Reid’s process.
So what did he do this time? He decided on an even more arrogant process, demanding that the Senate vote on a bill that had not even been provided to them. Reid used an unprecedented procedure, the “clay pigeon”, and then set up the rules so that no one could offer any further amendments. He turned the world’s greatest deliberative body into the In-N-Out Debate Society, a railroad job so complete that the only rational option to punish him for it is to shoot down cloture and embarass him publicly for it.
It looks like more Senators have come to the same conclusion. He needs 20 GOP Senators to join 40 Democrats to endorse his historically bad leadership, and I’m not sure he’ll get either number. If anyone fathered this dead duck, it’s the man who spawned the clay pigeon.
Everyone knows that illegal immigration reform is near and dear to President Bush’s heart. He campaigned on it in 2000 and 2004. This legislation is important to him–not as political expedience.
Everyone also knows that Harry Reid’s political instincts are political, never principled–unless you consider his survival instinct principled. If the legislation succeeds, his base will get angrier and more vocal and unlike President Bush, he will face reelection.
And you wonder why we have a problem? People who are supposed to be officers of the court who ridicule the laws as mere paper. Advocates for illegal immigrants worried that the laws are being enforced and using the highly loaded – and ridiculous – term “intimidation”. And greedy developers who want maximum work for minimum wage. And who have obviously been knowingly violating the laws for quite some time. Oh, and Senators who don’t appear to care what the citizens of this country want – or in this case, don’t want.
Mama said in the comments yesterday:
The reason why DC wants this bill is because corporations want it. The reason that the corporations want it is that the bill is set up to make it very easy for workers to come in and very hard for them to become citizens. So within a decade or two, they should have themselves a nice class of non-voting peasants who can never block them politically from importing even cheaper labor. It’s a form of modern day slavery.
What about amnesty, though?
John Hawkins has some quotes over at his blog that are worth reading. Here’s a good one, and timely, too:
War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. — John Stuart Mill
Now, some of my favorites:
I do not fear death–Aragorn, LOTR
The eyes bring to seeing what they wish to see.–Shelley
There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear.–I John 4:18
There is no crying in baseball. –A League of Their Own
Death!–Rohirram at Pelennor Fields, LOTR
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;–Deuteronomy 30:19
I am no man.–Eowyn, LOTR
Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.–II Chronicles 20:17
This list could go on forever, but that’s a start.
I’ve been posting light–Vacation Bible School, relatives and what not. But Mama is on a roll this week. She has all sorts of insight into the SCOTUS decision about Campaign Finance (the reason McCain will never, ever get my vote). The “R” word is spoken–that’s right America, you’re in a recession.
And then there’s the Blueberries. Which, by the way, I spent yesterday afternoon with my beloved children ad nieces and nephews blueberry picking. A thunderstorm was rolling in and the air cooled and we picked 42 pounds. It was meditative pulling those clumps of blueberries into the basket, hearing the bugs buzz. I plan on planting some bushes in my backyard.
Mama says that global cooling is happening and her proof is in the blueberries and some hard data.
Republican Implosion: Lyndsey Graham writes Ace a love letter.
Creative Employment: A relative of mine calculated how much his supremely-loathed company paid him to “take a dump”. This is much better.
Duke dreck: Nifong rationalizes. Broadhead gets awards–why does he still have a job? And I don’t want to say “I told you so” but, I told you so. The press and faculty will hold, ’til their dying day the notion that the “Duke boys” were the criminals, because it is axiomatic that professors and journalists never get it wrong. Ever.
My point was to demonstrate that the Ms. Potters of the world will continue to malign three guys who are wholly innocent of crimes. Even exoneration won’t stop them. The real criminals turn out to be the accuser and Mike Nifong, but the soundbite will be “Duke Rape”, “Duke Lacrosse”.
POINT 6: Page 67, lines 7-11: 80% of all penalties paid by the applicants will come through installment plans. I understand the need for this, but it puts the federal government on the hook for managing a payment system for 12 million new people, along with all of the other mandates in this bill.
POINT 7: Page 69, line 20: The DREAM Act, providing scholarships for the children of illegal immigrants, still exists in the bill.
POINT 8: Page 89-90, lines 22-04: The 24-hour limit on background checks still holds within the Ag Workers section (the temporary guest worker program). If it takes longer than 24 hours, they get their credentials. (h/t: commenter Redherkey)
POINT 9: Page 92, lines 14-15: Do I read this correctly? The new limit on guest-worker visas is now 1,500,000 — not counting dependent Z-A visas? Wasn’t this originally 400,000 and reduced by half later?
I have never seen the government so willfully not just misrepresent the people, but do precisely opposite what the people want. Hillary talks about a vast, Right-Wing conspiracy, but I feel that the American public is the victim of some sort of political-class conspiracy. It’s surreal.
Or, is this bill just ego, when we get right down to it? These smarter-than-thou saviors so willing to cross the isle to work with each other have too much time and self invested in this legislation to let it go. And the President has his legacy and what not.
Is that all this bill is? A vanity vote?
64-35. Tom Tancredo — watching the proceedings from behind razor-wire twisted around his TV on the off chance a Jennifer Lopez movie slips through his hate filter — just threw up a little bit in his mouth.
Ironically, it tasted a teensy bit like refried beans.
Stanley Kurtz believes, as I do, that something worse than bad legislation is happening with this bill:
Senators who believe that by passing this bill they will at least be getting a divisive issue out of the way are making a serious mistake. This is not 1986. The immigration issue is far more prominent now, and it will only grow in importance. Demographics, and the problems of assimilation in a globalized world of satellite dishes and easy travel will see to that. Look at how votes on the war have come back to haunt Democratic politicians. Votes by legislators of both parties on this bill will be haunting them–and all of us–for years to come.
Supporters of this bill sell it as a compromise that will heal America’s divisions. I fear it’s quite the reverse. This bill is infuriating the public and undermining faith in government itself. You can see it in the polling on confidence in Congress and the President. If this bill passes, it’s going to aggravate and embitter politics for years to come. Passing a measure over such overwhelming opposition is like slapping the public in the face.
You can’t solve an argument by imposing a “compromise” on parties who don’t actually view it as a compromise. You can’t heal social divisions by forcing your version of a “solution” down the public’s throats. Real healing comes only when two sides reach what they themselves consider a valid compromise, or when one side wins the argument by persuading a clear majority of the validity of its case. Democracy does work, but first the Senate has got to give it a try.
On Saturday, I worried about the same thing:
I’m still trying to digest what it means when our elected officials trust the people to elect them but that trust evaporates when those same people don’t support a bill they desire. What will the Congress and President lose for America by winning at this bill?
Last week Thursday, my concern was this:
Letting this bill go and enforcing current law and building a fence means having faith in the American people. If that’s too big a pill to swallow, maybe elected officials can have faith in this: the American people remember at election time.
Finally, and on a completely different note, scientists are finding a way to turn plastic back into the oil it started out as. That could be good news for developing oil independence.
Rita Rubin reported in U.S.A. Today about a study where doctors conversations with their patients were recorded. Here’s the conclusion:
Empathy, understanding and compassion work better than self-disclosure, the authors wrote. Personal conversation is important, Beckman says, but doctors need to find time for it outside of patient visits.
Says Jeffrey Borkan, Brown University family medicine chair, who invited McDaniel to talk about her study with residents and faculty: “People lose sight about where their boundaries are. The focus should always be on the patient.”
Do you agree with this statement? Some doctors and patients implied that the study’s investigators wants to find ways to force more patients through the office–it’s not about patient care at all.
It has been my experience that rapport-building requires some give and take. I don’t know a thing about my kid’s pediatrician’s personal life–except that she has three children. She is wonderful and competent.
We just went to the dentist and when he found out that I was a chiropractor he lamented his aching neck, told a funny personal story and laughed at himself. He also interacted kindly with the kids. I really, really liked him. He might have spent three extra minutes with us. Not much, but enough that I will definitely recommend people to go to him. He was just a nice guy. I’m not sure I would have felt the same way had he stuck to business and moved on mechanically.
I guess thinking through all our family’s health issues, other than a God-complex here or there, most of the doctors struck the right balance. There was one pediatrician on-call who was rude, disrespectful and generally a jerk. He didn’t strike me as the type of guy who had a satisfying personal life. I would never go to him again.
A doctor can be all about himself without interacting or with being a self-indulgent chatter-box. It seems to me the patient decides what kind of personality works best for him or her.
Live Free or Die Hard, Or Just Apathetically Let Freedom Slide Effortlessly From Your Disinterested Grasp…..It Used To Be GreatMonday, June 25th, 2007
There’s no livin‘ free in Europe these days. No one can watch Die Hard and even think about livin‘ free in Europe:
Yes indeed, two different titles for the same movie! I guess the “live free” part of the title was considered to be too sensitive outside of North America? I know that “Live free or die” is the state motto of New Hampshire, but that is hardly an excuse. A second difference is that The Statue of Freedom in the background on top of the U.S. Capitol is a lot closer to Willis’ ear in the international version. Because the voice of freedom is much more faint?
There’s no livin‘ free in Great Britain, either. Everyone is Salmon Rushdie according to Mark Steyn:
In 1989 Salman Rushdie went into hiding under the protection of the British police. A decade later he decided he did not wish to live his life like that and emerged from seclusion to live a more or less normal life. He learned the biggest lesson of all – how easy it is to be forced into the shadows. That’s what’s happening in the free world incrementally every day, with every itsy–bitsy nothing concession to groups who take offense at everything and demand the right to kill you for every offense. Across two decades, what happened to Rushdie has metastasized, in part because of the weak response in those first months. “Death is perhaps too easy”? Maybe. But slow societal suicide is easier still.
Maybe you think it can’t happen here. It can happen. It is happening. Freedom gets taken away one little, subtle withholding of a point-of-view at a time. Guess which point-of-view PBS suppresses.
No more private property besides your personal belongings. That is, there will be some private sector allowed with business of reasonable size but the sate will have the right to expropriate or confiscate at will if it thinks it is necessary to its interests (NOTE: even if it is all made in the name of the “people”, since it is the state that translates the “real will” of the people, well, you know which are the interests truly served).
The air borne media will have rights to emit only if they serve educative purpose. The state decides which are the educative goals.
The autonomy of Universities is done with. The state will be deciding which careers should be offered and which is the right curriculum to follow. You can decide on your own how creativity and free thought in a controlled university will prosper.
Decentralization will be done with. Governors and Mayors will be subordinated to special vice presidents. Mayors can be removed almost at will by the National Assembly. And anyway, elected Governors and Mayors will be gutted of most meaningful power they might have. That is, they will be left with picking up the garbage and be blamed for anything else that doe snot work.
Every day, people around the world trade their freedom for the proverbial bowl of soup. They sate their appetite for a day and spend a lifetime hungry.
Science gets subverted to serve political ends. Everything gets subverted for political ends and those doing the subverting do so to their own demise–they actually participate in their own destruction and only wake up when they too suffer outside of the increasingly narrow political correctness. They operate under the delusion that they will be spared. They will always be deemed correct. They are, of course, wrong.
How most excellent and honored and bureaucratic does this sound? United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Yes, a bureaucracy of scientists obfuscating and outright lying to promote the notion of climate change. From Newsbusters:
That is terrible! As a matter of fact, it is a falsification of the data set. Why? Because they know the answer. And there you come to the point: They “know” the answer; the rest of us, we are searching for the answer. Because we are field geologists; they are computer scientists. So all this talk that sea level is rising, this stems from the computer modeling, not from observations. The observations don’t find it!
Pretty extraordinary, wouldn’t you agree? A “correction factor.” Honestly, the way these folks manipulate data is nothing less than astounding.
Yet, Mörner wasn’t finished, as he later detailed an incident when IPCC scientists actually destroyed evidence which refuted their rising sea level claims:
This tree, which I showed in the documentary, is interesting. This is a prison island, and when people left the island, from the ’50s, it was a marker for them, when they saw this tree alone out there, they said, “Ah, freedom!” They were allowed back. And there have been writings and talks about this. I knew that this tree was in that terrible position already in the 1950s. So the slightest rise, and it would have been gone. I used it in my writings and for television. You know what happened? There came an Australian sea-level team, which was for the IPCC and against me. Then the students pulled down the tree by hand! They destroyed the evidence. What kind of people are those? And we came to launch this film, “Doomsday Called Off,” right after, and the tree was still green. And I heard from the locals that they had seen the people who had pulled it down. So I put it up again, by hand, and made my TV program. I haven’t told anybody else, but this was the story.
Lying to protect a greater “truth” that the data shows is false. Political correctness has infected all branches of science. Tread very carefully within the hallowed halls of science. A rotting stench from the carcases of hard data fouls the air.
So a failing society seeks the easy economic way, turns science into tools for delusion, and neuters itself. And the bureaucracy does it. In this case, teachers do it. This is getting more play these days. Eric over at Classical Values has a must read post:
Decadent bureaucrats mutilate soldiers
“Decadence” is the essential condition of “a society which believes it has evolved to the point where it will never have to go to war.”
–Air Force Colonel Robert Wheeler
How do you feel about the state forcing boys to become eunuchs, metaphorically speaking? (Although, all their literal sitting in a class, drugged and acting bland could be deemed literal.)
For obvious reasons, the picture on the left is not getting much mainstream media play. I can’t think of a better way to expose the anti-war bureaucrats than the boys’ simple demonstration that the school bureaucrats had wounded the troops. No words can match the eloquence of the bloodied bandages!
I wrote several posts about eunuchs, and I think this is as good a place as any to add a few words about Phil Bowermaster’s post about transmasculinity, which Glenn Reynolds linked yesterday. I have no problem with the idea of transmasculinity (or androgyny), and don’t think it is remotely the same as state-enforced policies forcing boys to become eunuchs.
I actually disagree with Eric about the fall of Rome not being associated with sexual morés. How did the military get weak and soft to begin with? Could the same denuded approach to society self-protection be related to a laissez–faire attitude toward individual self-protection? Could the Christian conservatism be a reaction to a decadent society and yet elements of Christianity–deceived and morally corrupt themselves– participate in the downfall because of doctrinal misunderstanding (think Episcopalians)? I think so. I do agree with him here, though:
We don’t have early Christians taking over as they did in Rome, nor do we have a eunuch staff running the military. However, I think there may be parallels between Christians and socialists in the ecological niche sense (Christian theology is often interpreted as having a soft spot for socialism, which IMO has caused a great deal of trouble), and I think we could be experiencing tyranny at the hands of the modern equivalent of eunuchs (people who abhor masculinity and femininity and who, while they may talk the talk about sexuality, are in reality a bunch of unattractive, “spineless, ball-less wimps” if I may borrow the phrase…..)
This is absolute truth. The neuterization of society, the declining birthrates, the unwillingness to set a boundary against anything manifests individually and societally. There is a lot of self-loathing and other loathing sexually, and that makes for a confused bunch of people willing to make terrible compromises to feel good about themselves. Back to the bowl of soup.
I do not think it’s an accident that the United States hesitates to create a boundary in its relationships. There is no sense of American self–or there is a danger in losing what’s left of one. There will eventually be nothing to protect. The United States will cease to be the strong arms the world can count on for protection, if those arms are so weak they can’t protect themselves. Worse, they will be too weak to extend in welcome either.
It won’t matter. Without freedom, liberty and justice (and all that other stuff), no one will want to come here anyway. America will be just like every other place in the world. Confused, unsafe, economically constricted, limited, petty, tyrannical, consumed by conspiracy theories masquerading as science. Dark. As in Dark Ages.
The reason Fred Thompson loves the internet is simple: his message reaches his voters unadulterated. He can’t be misquoted (he can, but everyone can check for themselves what he really said). The message is recorded for all posterity. The response, like the message delivery, is immediate. There is no news cycle. He can post a message at 2 a.m. and it will be read somewhere by someone and linked the next day and reach the masses.
He’s in control.
Mr. Thompson wouldn’t succeed in the internet written or video media if he was dull witted or boring. He wouldn’t succeed if his messages were wonk-speak. He wouldn’t succeed if his arguments were weak. So far, he’s succeeding because he’s none of these things. Just being willing to be so daringly active on the internet wins him points. What handlers can he blame when he’s doing the writing and talking?
Not only that, the environmentalists should heart Thompson, too. He doesn’t have to take three private jets to stump three states in a day. He can write his message in his boxers (or pajamas) in his bedroom and reach the world–for nearly free. How economical! How forward thinking!
That the other candidates carefully manipulate the internet medium, puts Fred Thompson in stark contrast. It makes me like him. Everybody’s latest political crush is starting to look forced and reactionary. Hillary Clinton has always seemed a prune-short of good digestion–the internet is not conducive to that much constipation. Her YouTube entré was just plain weird with all the psycho-sexual overtones that Ann Althouse drew attention to. I know that the other candidates have a web-presence. One of my blog friends John Hawkins is helping the campaign of one Tom Tancredo.
But Fred Thompson has ’em all beat. So far, he handily wins the title of Blogger-in-Chief.
H/T Glenn Reynolds
Business Week has an article Time to Give Up the House about how people who couldn’t afford a house aren’t paying their mortgage, they’re paying their credit card debt.
Experian’s study, released June 20, says that the share of subprime borrowers who were 30 days or more late on their mortgages went up from about 32% at the beginning of 2003 to around 36% at the end of 2006—a sign of increasing financial distress.
Yet those same subprime borrowers actually caught up on their credit cards over the same period. The share who were 30 days or more late on their cards fell from 32% to around 24% between early 2003 and late 2006. (That’s for borrowers with Experian credit scores under 620; people with scores over 680 are considered prime borrowers.)
Little “Skin in the Game”
Fears of widespread fallout from subprime borrowing have spread in recent days. Early this year, it appeared that the troubles would be contained to relatively small lenders, such as NovaStar Financial (NFI), Accredited Home Lenders (LEND), and New Century Financial (NEW) (see BusinessWeek.com, 2/22/07, “A Painful Hiss from the Subprime Balloon”). But in the past few days, Bear Stearns (BSC) has run into trouble with two hedge funds it manages that have taken on subprime exposure. That prompted a broad market selloff on June 20, with the Dow Jones industrial average down 146 points (see BusinessWeek.com, 6/20/07, “Stocks Swoon on Subprime Fears”).
So, now all the companies that lend to subprime people are suffering and the people themselves are suffering. There are a couple theories as to why subprime lenders react different than prime lenders:
- They need the credit cards to survive so they pay them first
- They know that foreclosure takes a while to proceed
- They are paying their least expensive debts first
Obviously, these people are in over their heads. Obviously, lenders are losing what they thought was easy money. I know that banks will typically give you more than you can comfortably and realistically afford. It can be insidiously tempting to overspend on a mortgage for the house of your dreams. Subprime lendees who bail on their mortgages may not be good rental prospects, either. I don’t know.
The upside of the mortgage insanity is that some people, who might not have perfect records have been given a chance at home ownership and made good on it. They are on their way to success.
Most of the people though, were sold on empty promises, and now, with bankruptcy laws more onerous, the suffering mounts.
CBS News ended their article about abused and starved special needs Iraqi orphans thusly:
This is a tough test for the Iraqi government: How a nation cares for its most vulnerable is one of the most important benchmarks for the health of any society.
In the last week alone, I read that horrifying article and this one, too:
A team of international investigators infiltrated an Internet chat room used by pedophiles who streamed live videos of children being raped, rescuing 31 children and identifying more than 700 suspects worldwide.
In this latter example, children as young as two months old were raped, live, while men watched, on a streaming video across the internet.
And then, in Britain, there were 25 reported honor killings last year. And, abortions increased 4% to 193,700. Britain had approximately 700,000 live births. 2/7 babies aborted–29%. Does that number seem big to you? In America, approximately 1.3 abortions occurred with about 4.1 million live births. That’s 32% of potential babies not living aka dead.
The above examples reveal how our society cares for the weak and defenseless. Our society is not doing much better with the able-bodied and gainfully employed. Over at Classical Values, Eric questions the morality of sucking off the taxpayer teat all the while receiving more respect than the person earning the salary (it’s well worth reading the whole thing):
I’ve long been worried about a growing division between tax payers and tax eaters (the latter are now poised to become the voting majority). Common sense suggests that in general, the former tend to be more productive than the latter. In economic terms, this would make them more valuable (although private school teachers make considerably less than public school teachers, despite the fact that the former do a better job.)
But can such value be measured in moral terms? While it isn’t my job here to make a moral pronouncement, in my half a century on the planet I have detected a significant moral shift. I can remember when living off government money without working was considered less than morally optimal, and being on the government payroll carried with it no special moral authority. Nor should it. Yet I have seen a growing tendency in some circles to see tax eaters (of all varieties) as morally better than the people whose taxes pay them. This makes no sense. It’s not as if working for the government is like working for a religious order.
Society has degraded.
We place little value on the weak and infirmed. We have contempt for the smart and hard working. We minimize the importance of honesty and fidelity. We elevate the selfish and lazy. We honor the vapid and decadent.
In short, we’re immoral. Not all of us, well, not all of us completely, mind you, but enough of us to make a difference. And it is making a difference. Society has changed. It is a harder, more cruel, crass and base place than even a decade ago. When I read the last graph of the sad story of the abused and neglected children in Iraq and read the sanctimonious tone of the author, I wondered not at Iraq’s inhumanity to their most vulnerable. I wondered how long we can swim in the cesspool we’re creating and not end up that inhumane ourselves. Worse, I wondered if we’re already there.
UPDATE: There is a danger in worrying about the cesspool too much. One can come to believe that no one is trying to be good, no one works hard, nothing matters–so why try? This is not what I’m saying in this post. It’s not what I meant to convey, anyway.
My motivation was the absolute shock and horror about how these children have been exploited. I can’t help believe that our mean culture, our culture that condones the aborting of “mistakes” creates a place where it’s not a leap to hurt children out of the womb. And then it’s not a leap to hurt grown children. And then it’s not a leap to hate oneself and everyone else. It’s not a leap–it’s a natural progression.
A softness, a kindness, a pleasantry, a graciousness, a forgiveness, a gentleness, all those traits needed to co-exist with our fellow man gets lost in meanness, impatience, brusqueness, blame, and harshness. When we so mar our own soul, we start believing that others are just like us. We become cynical.
There is a danger, too, in believing that being cynical is just being “realistic”. For all the distressing world devlopements, there is still honor. We just have to look for it. The Anchoress talks about this, too, when noting the cynical responses to President Bush’s heart-felt gift to the Pope. She says about herself:
A while back a friend teased me and called me “gullible” (which I confess I sometimes am), and in the course of enjoying his joke, I also wrote back, more seriously:
I decided a long time ago that cynicism – to which I was prone – was simply too easy and the refuge of the timid or the hurt. I made a conscious decision to take people at their words unless their behavior warranted differently, even if it did leave me open for some teasing about gullibility. I couldn’t stand myself when I was cynical.
Cynicism is really lack of faith. And faithlessness is a decision, just like having faith is a decision.
So while the world can be harsh and cruel, ultimately my hope is that we, as individuals, can examine ourselves and change what we can change. We are told to be in the world and not of the world. That can be a daunting proposition.
To much worrying, too much cynacism is not reality, though. Reality is faith that what is happening in the world today is part of a bigger plan. We see through a glass darkly.
Ultimately, we have dual citizenship–one in an imperfect fallen world and one in a world of perfection. For those who have that higher citizenship, cynacism really is never an option.