Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Minorities Are the Disease, Selwyn Duke is the Cure

You remember Selwyn Duke, the super-genius tennis pro whose athletic activities were actually a mask for a secret agenda, just like Robert Culp's Kelly Robinson in I Spy.  Instead of foiling assassinations and unmasking foreign agents, however, Selwyn used his cover identity to whine about shit on the internet.

So smart is Selwyn, in fact, that he could easily have gone the other way and become a super spy's mortal antagonist -- the super-villain -- except for one, fatal flaw.  His brain has a Dead Man Switch, and in order to function Selwyn must continually press the subcutaneous button in his chin.
Demographic tipping point: whites now less than half of US births
Bill Clinton once said that he looked forward to the day when whites were a minority in America. While he won't live to see such a time, a demographic milestone that should send a tingle up Slick Willie's leg was just reached. 
Actually, what Clinton said (in 1998) was this:
Today, largely because of immigration, there is no majority race in Hawaii or Houston or New York City. Within five years, there will be no majority race in our largest state, California. In a little more than 50 years, there will be no majority race in the United States. No other nation in history has gone through demographic change of this magnitude in so short a time ... [These immigrants] are energizing our culture and broadening our vision of the world. They are renewing our most basic values and reminding us all of what it truly means to be American.
Not quite the same thing as gleefully wringing his hands and cackling like a mad scientist as he contemplates the day when white people are consigned to the demographic dung heap, and Muzak begins playing lush, orchestral arrangements of gangsta rap tunes in elevators and dentist's offices.  But some people are upset at the thought of getting checked for gingivitis to the accompaniment of the 101 Strings' easy listening rendition of Ghostface Killah's Whip You With a Strap, and certainly Clinton's words were enough to freak out Pat Buchanan, who wrote “Mr. Clinton assured us that it will be a better America when we are all minorities and realize true ‘diversity.’ Well, those students [at Portland State] are going to find out, for they will spend their golden years in a Third World America.”

But it also scarred the mind of young DavidSelwyn Duke, who was so rattled by Clinton's race treachery that he missed a series of easy lobs on the Country Club court, later exposing his father to gibes and ribbing from the rest of his foursome over gin rickeys at the 19th Hole. 

And now, it's all come horribly, horribly true:
Writes The New York Times:
    After years of speculation, estimates and projections, the Census Bureau has made it official: White births are no longer a majority in the United States.
Obviously, a big reason for this demographic shift is migration — and mainly the legal variety. As a result of Ted Kennedy's Immigration Reform Act of 1965, the level of yearly immigration increased from approximately 250,000 prior to '65 to about 1,000,000 afterwards. And its nature changed also: 85 percent of our new arrivals now hail from the Third World and Asia. This radical departure from America's traditional immigration patterns has created a demographic transformation possibly unprecedented in world history — except for cases of actual invasion.
Of course, the White majority was itself the result of "actual invasion," but I don't think White people can or should take all the credit, since much of the heavy lifting was accomplished by our allies, smallpox, typhus, cholera, and measles.  (Paradoxically, a virus is blind to race or ethnicity, so the invaders' best weapon in the fight to establish a White, European majority and culture in America was itself a paragon of diversity.  I suppose, like a spoonful of sugar with medicine, a little irony helps the genocide go down.)
If one blindly accepts the unproven assertion, "Our strength lies in our diversity" — which is much like saying my health lies in my cancerous tumor — he may join Clinton, Chris Matthews and other languid-minded leftists in a leg-tingling love-fest.
The NY Times says more non-Whites are being "born," Selwyn Duke says they're metastasizing.   The point is, if you're the sort of person who can easily regard your fellow human beings as a disease, based on differences in language or melanin content, then you've got to admit that that whole introducing smallpox thing is really come back to bite you in the ass.
 But the reality is that diversity isn't a strength to be applauded — it's an obstacle to be overcome. To understand this, you only have to study history and consider the fate of the former Yugoslavia: the Balkans are balkanized because of diversity. And now the United States is being balkanized, too.
Apparently the history of the Balkans began with the Treaty of Versailles, and the Greeks, Thracians, Dacians, Romans, Byzantines, Serbs, Bulgars, and Ottomans were just passing through on their way to Baskin Robbins, or something.  Here's a question, Selwyn:  Can you tell a Greek from a Macedonian?  A Bosnian from an Albanian?  A Slovenian from a Croat?  A Montenegrin from a Romanian?  Because they can.  Those distinctions are important to them, because conflicts over scarce land and resources that stretch back into antiquity has sharpened group identity and sustained ancient grudges.  If the Balkans give a bad name to diversity, it's because of the undying embers of hatred -- the same kind you're hunched over right now, huffing and puffing in an effort to get that spark to catch and burn.

And not that it matters, but Yugoslavia was not the victim of an open door immigration policy, it was an example of hubristic nation-building by politicians and bureaucrats -- a worst-case scenario of a zoning commission run amuck.  If a camel is a horse designed by committee, then Yugoslavia is a camel designed by the blindfolded panel of What's My Line?  But if, as you say, the ethnic composition of the U.S. is largely the result of legal immigration and varying birthrates, then it's organic.  Nobody is bundling these groups together into some ad hoc Kingdom of the Southern Slavs, they're coming here willingly.
Another problem is that "diversity" is a vague term; there are many kinds of diversity.
Selwyn also has the same problem with ice cream.  Once there were just three flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.  Simple.  Specific.  Then they combined them, and called it Neopolitan, and suddenly the Balkans were melting in your mouth! 

As for what's helping diversify us into division, immigration, it is a vaguely understood institution. And when people accept something because it's fashionable, not really knowing what they're getting, disaster can result.
As anyone who watched the season finale of Project Runway can attest, when the designers were asked to make an undocumented Guatemalan out of tulle.
We're always wary of dangerous imports, such as contaminated goods from China or substandard medical devices from overseas.
I see our fellow citizens have been upgraded from "deadly pathogen" to "toothpaste tainted with anti-freeze."  You've come a long way, Baby.
It also requires vigilance when non-indigenous life forms are introduced into an ecosystem.
Pardon me, I've got to run next door and congratulate my neighbor on being promoted from "toxic teething ring" to "Zebra mussel."
Some, such as the horse or soybean, blend in seamlessly and can be beneficial; others, such as pythons in the Everglades or the Brown Tree Snake in Guam, can disrupt an ecosystem and decimate native species.
The next time you're in the break room, observe your co-workers.  Is the guy in the next cubicle a soybean, or a tree snake?  Don't be afraid to bring this question up with H.R. --  I'm sure they'll appreciate the input.
This is why the answer to the question "Do you support immigration?" should be "not enough data." 
Shorter Selwyn Duke:  I'm going to meander around for awhile, comparing people to cancer and pythons, then not come to a conclusion about anything.

But wait!  There's still another 850 words to go!  Um...let's skip around a little...
Since people do get the government they deserve, it matters very much what species of immigration it is. 
How about if the immigrant species is Natasha Henstridge from Species?
 (It's a long post, and I just wanted to see if you were still paying attention.)
What is their cultural nature? How compatible are they with our cultural ecosystem? Will they blend into it or supplant native cultural elements?
Will they replace our traditional Appalachian folk music with the dark and alien syncopation of Ragtime?
 Of course, some will say that the latter is fine, that change is good. And, actually, they could possibly be right — except that "change" is another vague term.
We could stop this race suicide if we just learned to use more precise and specific words, like "grommet" and "furlong."
 If those cultural elements are superior, then, by all means, embrace them; if they're not, avoid them like the plague — which, incidentally, came to Europe from Asia.
Thank you, Spice Trade.  If our pasty ancestors had just shut up and eaten their boiled hog throat without whining for some cardamom or turmeric, they could have saved themselves some unsightly pustules.
Those that trumpet immigration, diversity and change are the last ones to judge such matters, however, because they tend to be cultural relativists whose moral foundation is even vaguer than the slogans they disgorge.
Coincidentally, I felt my gorge rising last night, and thought maybe I'd eaten that leftover pizza a bit too fast.  However, I had a little 7-Up, hawked up a bumper-sticker, and I was fine.
Many will say in response to this that assimilation is the answer. Ah, it's a nice dream...[A]sking for assimilation becomes less logical all the time. After all, how is it a meaningful statement to say "All people have to do is become American" when there's no agreement on what it means to be American anymore? Depending on whom you listen to, you can be an American and be a socialist, free-market adherent, devout Christian, witch, pro-abortion or pro-life activist, existentialist, realist, hippie, yuppie, black or white supremacist, La Raza separatist, prude, libertine, traditionalist, multiculturalist, patriarchy proponent, feminist, deist, atheist, humanist or Satanist.
But you'll need a Day Planner.
 You can have any ideology, philosophy, faith, culture or "lifestyle" you want.
This freedom of thought is clearly un-American.
 It's "whatever works for you," and that itself is now to be considered a quintessentially American sentiment (unless it works for you to consider it something else). Well, guess what? What works for many is to not assimilate into they know not what. And that is the issue: there's no clearly identifiable, dominant, appealing culture to assimilate into, anyway.
Yes, if only American culture were more dominant, people overseas might be inclined to watch our TV shows or go see our crappy action movies.
The problem here is the same as it is with the "undefining" of marriage: If something can mean anything, it essentially means nothing. "Cat" refers to a specific creature, but if "cat" could mean fish, aardvark, meadowlark, chair, cookie, ice cube or whatever works for you, it would lose meaning; it could mean anything and would just be "something." And so it is with a nation.
Well in that case, I hereby declare this the United States of Cookie!  (I dare you not to assimilate now, you undocumented meadowlarks!)
 The Western man has forgotten that a nation is essentially an extension of the tribe.
When I studied under Eric Hobsbawn at the New School, I was particularly taken by his theory that the rise of the nation-state is really a metaphor for the Cleveland Indians pitching staff.
 The only other option is to have many tribes living within the same borders, which historically hasn't begotten tranquility. Just think of the Hutus and Tutsis in Ruanda — and then consider that there was probably less dividing them culturally than there is dividing the motley "us."
Just think of the Hoosiers and the Buckeyes, and their genocidal struggles to secure the Richmond Applebees -- and then consider their inhumane use of child soldiers, especially as softball teams.
This is why, unlike most, I don't expect America to ever become majority non-white.

Our republic won't last that long.
Apparently the White people are going to take their Constitution and go home.
In the meantime, the band will play on, as we repeat all the vague feel-doubleplusgood mantras.
Anyone want to guess at Orwell's current RPMs?
Hey, folks, remember, immigration is the lifeblood of America. Well, maybe so. But then it's important to accept a crucial fact about transfusions: If the blood type is incompatible, the body dies.
So if you happen to know any immigrants, take a moment to thank them for being an imprecise, cancer-ridden, plague-carrying pagan tree snake with an incompatible blood type.
America is on life support, and she does certainly need some kind of transfusion. But in a world dominated by socialism and kleptocracy, I don't know where one goes to find large amounts of freedom-flowing blood. I think we had better shut our borders and stop looking overseas, open our minds, and start casting our eyes heavenward.
This is either a solution to the death of Western Civilization, or symptoms of a grand mal seizure.  Or maybe Selwyn accidentally took his finger off his chin.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Post-Friday Beast Blogging: The "Don't Panic!" Edition

Well, I completely missed National Towel Day, and am only in a position to pick up the spare because I saw it mentioned at one of Debbi Mack's blogs.  So in penance, here's a photo of Moondoggie inhaling the April Freshness of a towel recently liberated from the dryer:

Seriously, he huffs the clean laundry. We're considering an intervention, or possibly an Afterschool Special.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Don't Hate Me Because I Learned a Language in Ten Days...

Hate me because I did it while getting a facelift à la Brazil.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

And You Were There, And You Were There, And...


By Keith, Our Bold, Fresh Piece of Humanity Correspondent:

“Oh, gawd, why did my parents bury me in this awful dress? Being dead is such a bore ...”

Uh, wake up Keith. Your nightmare is over. It’s time for some tea, oatmeal and, if you want to go “there” FB.O’s latest post. You might have been dead in dreamland, but you didn’t own anything related to FB. So forget the lousy dress, concentrate on the good times.
Here with a summary of the “good times” is Bill O’Reilly at Townhall and a quick, easy read.
My late father was a man of strong opinion. He despised phonies, cowards and liars.
Thankfully, he didn't live to see Bill's performance on A Current Affair.
He named names -- sometimes in very close proximity to those being singled out. A veteran of World War II, he recognized a weasel when he saw one.
Well, first off Bill, how is it your father never disowned you? Or did he? In what arena did he name names? (You, Bill, would love to name names, but you lost your Filofax in a taxi, is that correct?)
But my dad never denigrated rich people in general.
He only denigrated them specifically and by deposition.
We lived in Levittown, N.Y., where everybody had pretty much the same -- that is, not much. We ate tuna casserole, hot dogs and Hamburger Helper.  My parents never owned a new car.
Mr. Bill, you must have lived as a dependent at home for quite awhile, since General Foods didn’t market “Hamburger Helper” until 1971. Just in time for "All In The Family.”
Ten miles away, my dentist, a college classmate of my father's, lived in Garden City. Lovely place, filled with rich people. My father often drove us through there and never said a disparaging word about the fine lawns and shiny foreign cars. America was the land of opportunity, and Garden City proved it.
One not ought not say nasty things about one’s dentist ... it could lead to trouble. Be careful here, Bill. And Garden City? Very boring. It did contain well-to-do upper-middle-class merchants and professionals. But not all of the cars were shiny, and they mostly derived from Detroit, IIRC. I suggest you are embellishing the “good times” Bill. Perhaps some owned two cars but your deficient memory conflated them into a Porsche.
But that was then.
And this is now.

Mr. O’Reilly, you are most disingenuous when being biographical.

Levittown was conceived as an ideal suburban community during the post-war boom era. Compared to our present-day unfortunate circumstances, those employed and capable of carrying a mortgage were doing rather well. Unless you parents were terribly unsuccessful, there is no reason why you were doing the “Hamburger Helper” and such on the patio grill. I’ll bet you were grilling T-Bones and perhaps prime sirloin on that grill. And you gobbled it up right down to the bone.
Today, many Democrats believe the wealthy are bad to the bone. A new Gallup poll asks: "Do you think the U.S. benefits from having a class of rich people or not?" An amazing 46 percent of self-described Democrats answered "or not."

When I asked two left-leaning pundits about this, they said it is all about "income inequality." They asked me whether my father would approve of that. I said he most likely would reject the entire concept of "income inequality" by giving the pundits the same advice he gave me: "If you don't like what they're paying you, work someplace else."
Bill O. You obviously like your salary. Because ...
And I followed that advice, moving 10 times in 15 years on my way up the television news ladder. It wasn't easy, but if I thought my employer was hosing me, I began looking around.
Bill, on your way to the top, did any interviewer ask you ‘why” you might have changed positions so frequently? Could it have to do with your feeble .... never mind.
That's how capitalism is supposed to work. America is mandated to provide "equal opportunity," not equal outcomes. The boss man can pay what he wants. It's our choice whether to take it or leave it.
So we have it from the Oracle. The contract between capital and labor is a contract of adhesion.
President Obama doesn't seem to get that. He often puts forth that wealthy Americans are not paying their "fair share," that somehow the fix is in, and the rich folk are gaming the system at the expense of working people. But for two years, Obama had an adoring Democratic Congress that did absolutely nothing to further the concept of "income equality." The reason? It's unconstitutional. The feds cannot dictate salaries and benefits in the private marketplace. Obama care is an attempt to breach that constitutional wall. We'll soon see what the Supreme Court says.

Capitalism is no beach day. The strong and sometimes ruthless prosper. The poorly educated and unfocused often fail. For many Americans, failure is unfair and unacceptable in a "just" society. But my dad knew and accepted the truth of capitalism: Some will win big, some will lose big, but most will live comfortable lives in the middle. Just as he did.
Gee, I wanna go to the beach now. But I’ll get some sun-screen, promise.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Houston, We Have a Problem...You're Full of Texans

Here's a Space Update from our Special Space Correspondent, Rocky Vosburg, Space Ranger:

The countdown made it all the way to T Minus Zero with "all systems go", and engine ignition actually commenced, but then, heartbreakingly, suddenly everything was not go; in fact, everything was kinda stop. Turns out the onboard computer monitoring software had noted a slightly high pressure reading in the combustion chamber of engine 5 (of 9), so automatic shutdown was duly initiated on all systems by the software and the launch was aborted.

It's a nuisance, not a crisis: Nothing blew up, and there is another launch window coming up on Tuesday, May 22, 3:44am ET (12:44am PT), by which time all performance data will have been examined, and the problem will be resolved. The solution may be as simple as tweaking the monitoring software a bit so it isn't quite so fussy about transient spikes in pressure readings!

From Scott:  In other words, all things were not, alas, "five by five."
Per aspera ad astra.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Capitalist Pigs in Space

From Chris Vosburg:  Are We There Yet?

Paypal founder and zillionaire Elon Musk has been keeping busy lately, pursuing his real dream, space travel. Tomorrow (Saturday) morning at 4:55am ET (1:55am PT) will mark another milestone in the stunningly rapid progress of Musk's SpaceX company: the launch of the first ever privately built commercial orbiter with a load of cargo for the International Space Station.

Insomniacs can watch the launch live on the NASA-TV channel (if you can get it; TimeWarnerCable does not carry it, the bastards) or at the NASA-TV website, or at the SpaceX website. General information on the launch, docking schedule etc., and handy links to other sites can be found at the colorful and educational Space.com site.

So, all my fingers and toes are crossed for Musk and his dream team. He has no intention of stopping there, by the way. Not by a long shot. It is his stated desire to retire on Mars, for instance, and from what I've seen so far, he's just the man to finally do what no government agency could do before him: open up the heavens to exploration at last.

From Scott:  Thanks, Chris.  I wasn't aware of any of this, and it's very exciting news, but for me the biggest question still remains:
Will they have SPACOM?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Movie Mothers Day II: The Revenge. This Time It's Motherly!


By Special Movie Matriarch Correspondent, Bill S.
For those of us lucky enough to have a great mom, Mother's Day is a most special occasion. But some of us aren't so lucky. Last year, I offered a list of all-time worst moms in movies. But as with any list of that sort, it wasn't quite complete, so I'm serving up a second edition. If any of these ladies don't make you more grateful for your own, then...well, I guess you were really screwed. [be forwarned: spoilers to follow]

Mrs. Vale (Gladys Cooper) in Now, Voyager (1942) Never missed an opportunity to let daughter Charlotte (Bette Davis) know she was a mistake, a child she didn't really want. When Charlotte finally stood up to her, Mrs. Vale makes her feel guilty by dropping dead from a heart attack.

Ma Jarrett (Margaret Wycherly) in White Heat (1949) She's very supportive of her boy's career as a psychopathic gangster.

Violet Venable (Katherine Hepburn) in Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) Her matchmaking method for her gay son left something to be desired. Also, not such a great Aunt, either.
Helen Jorgenson (Constance Ford) in A Summer Place (1959) All the parents in this movie are horrible, horrible people, but I think Helen earns the title as the worst for that ultra-creepy moment when she subjects her teenaged daughter (Sandra Dee) to a medical examination in order to verify her virginity. Please tell me this wasn't an actual "thing" in the 50's. (The way things are now, it could be one today. I just know that somewhere in this country, somebody is drafting a bill that would make it legal for employers to request a doctor's note proving virginity from single women applying for a job.)

Eleanor Iselin (Angela Lansbury) in The Manchurian Candidate (1962) A political wife who was secretly a Commie agent, and used her son as an assassin by turning him into a brainless robot (granted, for Laurence Harvey, that's kind of a lateral move).

Pamela Voorheese (Betsy Palmer) in Friday the 13th (1980) A serial killer whose son went into the family business in all the sequels. The film itself is a bad mother, having spawned the Dead Teenager Movie, a genre that proved inexplicably popular in the early '80's until it was supplanted by the Horny Teenager Movie (producers correctly guessed that teenaged male moviegoers preferred hot chicks with their heads still attached to their bodies.)

Beth Jarrett (Mary Tyler Moore) in Ordinary People (1980) So obsessed with keeping things neat and orderly that when her son (Timothy Hutton) attempts suicide, she treats his emotional problems like a carpet stain that won't come out. (For some reason -- maybe it's just the hair -- Beth reminds me of Nancy Reagan)

Momma Lift (Anne Ramsey) in Throw Momma From the Train (1987)
"I'm a friend of Owen's"
"Owen doesn't have any friends"
"That's because he's shy."
"No it isn't, it's because he's fat and he's stupid!"
Yeah, I'd want to pull a Bruno Anthony too.

Beverly Sutpin (Kathleen Turner) in Serial Mom (1994) Combining the pristine homemaking skills of Beth Jarrett with the knife-wielding skills of Pamela Voorheese, the "heroine" of John Waters' underrated black comedy was, among my friends, the most frequently cited Bad Mama when I asked who I overlooked in last year's column. I guess she's better to have on your side than it is to piss her off. Still, it must make it difficult to make friends when your mom's a homicidal maniac.

WORST MOMS ON TELEVISION:

Donna's Mother (Naomi Stevens) in "The Courtesans" episode of Barney Miller. Though she only made one appearance, for me it's memorable enough to make the list. Arriving to bail out her daughter, who was busted on a prostitution charge, she strikes up a conversation with Barney's wife, Liz (Barbara Barrie) and expresses her confusion about what went wrong:

"She never saw a naked body. She never heard a dirty word. Sex was practically never used in our home." When Liz points out that children have a natural curiosity, she replies, "Boy, did she ask questions! Look at her, things are bad enough! Imagine how they'd be if we'd given her answers!"

Mrs. Gordan (Chip Fields) on Good Times. If, like me, you were still a kid yourself when you saw this multiple episode story arc on child abuse play out on the show, the image of her coming after little Penny (Janet Jackson) with an iron, probably scared the crap out of you.

Alexis Carrington Colby (Joan Collins) on Dynasty. The nicest thing about her was her wardrobe, and even that didn't look like it offered much warmth.

Agnes Skinner (Tress MacNellie) on The Simpsons. For sheer nastiness, Principal Skinner's mom might be the only person in Springfield who could give Mr. Burns any competition. If he set the hounds on her, they'd be the ones running in terror.

Estelle Constanza (Estelle Harris) on Seinfeld. It's a wonder George made it to adulthood without smothering her with a pillow. Or committing suicide.

Patsy's Mom (Eleanor Bron) on Absolutely Fabulous. "Take it away...and bring me another lover!"

Evelyn Harper (Holland Taylor) on Two and A Half Men. I think the results of her mothering skills speak for themselves.

All of the mothers on Toddlers and Tiaras. Creepier than Helen Jorgenson, more obnoxious than Estelle Costanza, and uglier then Agnes Skinner.

So that's the list for 2012. If I missed any, feel free to offer suggestions for next year.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Post-Friday Beast Blegging

Riley and Moondoggie are appalled by the latest news from our dear friend, Anntichrist S. Coulter:

RILEY:  I'm completely bummed about Joanna's situation.

MOONDOGGIE:  Me too.  I'm bummed too!

RILEY:  Really?

MOONDOGGIE:  Yeah.  I mean...I have my cheek on your bum.  Although I guess in America we'd say I'm "butted," or "assed."

RILEY:  Okay, it's really important that you shut up until further notice.

MOONDOGGIE:  I can hear the ocean!

RILEY:  Shut...UP!

Via fellow Crapper, the Minx, who received an email sent on borrowed hospital wifi, we've learned that Annti was indeed evicted, and is now living the vagabond life so eloquently evoked in the 1971 Cher hit, "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves."  What's more, she's come down with pneumonia -- not surprising, as homelessness seems to be a fecund breeding ground for disease -- and was forced to blow a substantial portion of her dwindling funds on ER treatment.

Mary and I have squeezed the bank account for everything we can -- which admittedly wasn't much -- and I'm sure many of you have done the same. But if anybody has a few extra bucks, Annti could really use it right now.  She has no mailing address, alas, but if you're not adverse to Payment by Pal, you can click the button on the right side of her blog here.

On a less depressing, but equally mind-bending note, check out this testimony to the Lincoln, Nebraska city council by a woman who can't pronounce the word "intestines" properly.  I'm fairly convinced it's Pastor Swank in drag:
Watch the young guy on the left, as he progressively loses control and starts to giggle and pass notes, and the elderly woman on the right who is resolutely pretending she's at Denny's, taking advantage of the Early Bird Special.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

John Stossel: Give Me Liberty AND Give Me Death

John Stossel is chafing under the brutal, authoritarian yoke of his seat-belt and shoulder harness, which confines him like a particularly unsexy form of Japanese Rope Bondage.
 The folly of seat-belt mandates

A child leaving home alone for the first time takes a risk. So does the entrepreneur who opens a new business. I no more want government to prevent us from doing these things than I want it to keep us in padded cells. 

"Nor do I want it to make us wear seat-belts, because that's the moral equivalent of being wrestled into a straight-jacket by a couple of the more brutal orderlies from Shock Corridor, or The Snake Pit, or Harvey."
Everyone has a different tolerance for risk. One person takes out a second mortgage to start a business. Another thinks that sounds nerve-racking, if not insane. Neither person is wrong. Government cannot know each person’s preferences, or odds of success.
Some people prefer to be secured by passive restraints during a head-on collision, while others prefer to be launched through the windshield like a pebble from a Wrist-Rocket.  The former are more risk adverse, which you why you so rarely see crash-test dummies managing hedge funds.
Even if it did, what right does it have to tell them what to do?
Instead, they should listen to John Stossel, who will encourage them to drive without a selt-belt, because he knows that you don't get liberty without death.  In fact, if most of the people you know and love aren't dying in automobile accidents, burning alive due to faulty wiring, succumbing to the toxic side effects of untested drugs, or keeling over due to botulism or salmonella, that's a good sign that you're probably living under a totalitarian dictatorship.  Basically, John is the new, if somewhat less efficient Jack Kevorkian -- providing assisted suicide through bad advice. 
As I document in my new book, “No, They Can’t: Why Government Fails – but Individuals Succeed,” when government gets in the business of deciding which risks are acceptable and which aren’t, nasty things happen.
These are decisions which are best left to corporations, since they're people.  Unlike the government, which I believe is staffed mostly by Skrulls, and Hummel figurines.
This includes government’s attempt to improve life by regulating gambling and the use of medicine, banning recreational drugs and mandating safety devices in cars.
I'm glad I took the time to read John's column, because if you'd asked me yesterday, "which is worse for you -- seat-belts or heroin?" I probably would have piped up with the wrong answer.
In what sense are we free if we can’t decide such things for ourselves?
Who's to say that Thalidomide wouldn't make for a delicious non-dairy creamer?
Through the Food and Drug Administration, the government claims to protect us. But some people suffer because of that protection: Some die waiting for drugs to be approved.
Thanks to the FDA, you don't enjoy the same right your great-grandfather had to eschew "doctors" and "pharmacists," and treat your diabetes with a patented suspension of laudanum, grain alcohol, and catarrh snuff that you bought off the back of a mule-drawn wagon.
Don’t we own our own bodies? Why, in a supposedly free country, do Americans, even when dying, meekly stand aside and let the state limit our choices?
I want to die in a fiery Zeppelin explosion, but the FAA is all up in my face about it.
The Drug Enforcement Administration jails pain-management doctors who prescribe quantities of painkillers the DEA considers “inappropriate.” It’s true that some people harm themselves with Vicodin and OxyContin, but it’s hard for doctors to separate “recreational” users from people really in pain.
...or those who just have a really successful talk radio show.
After the DEA jailed doctors, some pain specialists began to under-prescribe. The website of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons warns doctors: Don’t go into pain management. “Drug agents now set medical standards. … There could be years of harassment and legal fees.” Today, even old people in nursing homes sometimes don’t get pain relief they need.
I hate to agree with John, but that actually is a genuine problem in this country.  Let's alleviate their suffering by cutting the seat-belts out of the nursing home activity van.
Even the best safety regulations have unexpected costs. Seat belts save 15,000 lives a year, but it’s possible that they kill more people than they save.
This possibility becomes even more likely when you realize that many seat-belts moonlight as hit men for Mexican drug cartels.
University of Chicago economist Sam Peltzman argues that increased safety features on cars have the ironic effect of encouraging people to drive more recklessly. It’s called the Peltzman Effect – a variation on what insurance experts call “moral hazard.” Studies show that people drive faster when they are snugly enclosed in seat belts.
On the other hand, my made-up studies show that people who drive recklessly do so because they're stupid and don't believe they'll get in a crash, and are only wearing their belt because they hate that beeping noise it makes when don't put it on.  I guess to settle this we'll need a double-blind test using deaf people.
Also, while passengers were less likely to die, there were more accidents and more pedestrians were hit.
Trust Jim Treacher to throw off the grading curve.
Perhaps the best safety device would be a spike mounted on the steering wheel – pointed right at the driver’s chest.
Actually, Henry Ford already tried that:
Model T Steering Wheel.  If you're of average height and lean forward, that nut fits rather neatly into your sternum.
There’s another reason to think seat belt laws have been counterproductive. Before government made seat belts mandatory, several automakers offered them as options. Volvo ran ads touting seat belts, laminated glass, padded dashboards, etc., as the sort of things that responsible parents should want. I concede that government action expanded seat belt use faster than would have otherwise happened, but by interfering with the market, government also stifled innovation. That kills people.
Well, as John says, seat-belts save 15,000 lives a year, and they've been mandatory in the U.S. since 1984 (making it a little surprising that Stossel continues to argue against them, but then, he's still bitching about the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906), so that's over a quarter million people who otherwise would have died a gruesome death on the highway. But we should, in all fairness, compare that to the millions of people in Stossel's head who were killed by the lack of Super Belts that the Invisible Hand of the Market might have installed in cars if the government hadn't decided to treat safety belts as safety equipment, instead of an expression of corporate altruism, like that United Way jar on the receptionist's desk.

I bet if those nannies at the DoT didn't require bumpers, cars would have their own Star Trek-like shields by now.
Of course, even if seat-belts are mandated, that doesn't stop a company from making better passive restraints and building a marketing campaign around their superior safety record.  But the Invisible  Hand is moody, and if you get bossy with it it'll shout, "I hate you, I hate you!", lock itself in its room and play its music real loud.
Here’s my reasoning: The first government mandate created a standard for seat belts. That relieved auto companies of the need to compete on seat belt safety and comfort. Drivers and passengers haven’t benefitted from improvements competitive carmakers might have made.
I presume, from your reasoning, that a government mandate also required you to make that argument.
If every auto company were trying to invent a better belt, today, instead of one seat belt, I bet there’d be six, and all would be better and more comfortable than today’s standard.
Yes, we might have some sort of Cross Your Heart belt that would lift and separate and be comfortable to wear for 18 hours!  Also, if we really cared about clean air, we'd stop requiring smog equipment.
Because they would be more comfortable, more passengers would wear them. Over time, the free market in seat belts would save more lives.
And if not, it would certainly lead to more spectacular Drivers Ed films. So a win-win either way.
We don’t know what good things we might have if the heavy foot of government didn’t step in to limit our options.
Our seat-belts might have wings, like Stayfree Ultra Thin Maxi Pads.
In a free country, it should be up to adult individuals to make their own choices about risk. Patrick Henry didn’t say, “Give me safety, or give me death.”
I like to imagine him screaming it as he's thrown from an out of control Corvair.
Liberty is what America is supposed to be about.  
But defense contractors discovered there was more money in Death.
Let’s start treating people as though their bodies belong to them, not to a controlling and “protective” government.
Exactly.  Your body belongs to you.  And momentum.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Douglas MacKinnon: The Bulwer-Lytton of the Joint Command

 Townhall tough guy Douglas MacKinnon "is former White House and Pentagon official who spent three years working in a Joint Command."  This was back during the Reagan Administration, so I assume by "Joint Command," Mr. MacKinnon means he was in charge of ordering 55-gallon drums of paraquat refills for the Air National Guard.

But he's also a writer of tough guy, Ludlumian fiction, with titles like The Apocalypse Directive, and America's Last Days: A Novel, and with his latest book, he's facing the same dilemma confronted by every tough guy American writer from James Fenimore Cooper to Ernest Hemingway to Norman Mailer: dismissive online reviews that seek to weaken his main character's bladder control.
The Top Ten Quotes From a Fictional Hero That Liberals Already Hate

The Threshold Editions division of Simon & Schuster (the publisher of Dick Cheney, Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, and Laura Ingraham -- defenders of Traditional Values, all) has just published my new novel titled Vengeance Is Mine.
Because The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was already taken.
No surprise that some liberals are already attacking the book and the beliefs of the main character.
You say "attacking," we say "mocking."  Let's split the difference and just say that some liberals are "macking" on your main character, which makes your book sound sexier, and more like an Iceberg Slim novel.
The thumbnail description of the book being that twenty years after ex-CIA operative Ian Wallace watched a brutal KGB Colonel ruthlessly murder the love of his life (and their unborn child),
I hate when that happens.
he is presented with the chance for revenge. The former KGB Colonel is now part of the Russian Mafia and on his way to Wallace’s hometown of Boston.
The key to a successful blood vendetta is that it must be conveniently located, like a Denny's, or a car wash.  I mean, I'm all for exacting revenge on the ruthless killer of my wife and unborn child, but not if it involves getting on the freeway.

So I wonder if Mr. MacKinnon named his secret agent character "Ian," after Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, because that would be incredibly clever and super sly, and "Wallace" after William Wallace, the Scottish freedom fighter, because Douglas likes to occasionally mix that mass ass-baring scene from Braveheart into his regular porn rotation of Tijuana Toilet Tramps and Roughin' It.
What sets the main character Ian Wallace apart is that he is fanatically conservative and proudly wears his strong belief in Traditional Values on his sleeve.
Oh, I see.  He was named after Ian Smith and George Wallace.
As such -- and as to be expected -- some in the liberal mainstream media have already started to beat-up me, the book, and Ian.
Beating up on you, I can see -- I've done it myself at the old site.  Beating up on your book?  Eh.  As Joanna often says, "honestly, who's got the energy?"  But I do have a beef with Ian, because Dude, you're a fictional character!  You can could fire a laser beam from your tie tack, or pull an RPG out of your pants, but you can't take a little chin music from some random Amazon users?  No wonder you sat there with your thumb up your ass while a KGB colonel ruthlessly slaughtered your family.
With that as background, what follows are some Ian Wallace quotes from Vengeance Is Mine that seem to be offending some thin-skinned liberals:
• "As a proud member of the NRA and a very strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, I nodded my head in admiration of Tommy's Remington shotgun and his belief in self-protection. With the current liberal occupant of the Oval Office and his allies in Congress and the media working day and night to take away our guns and ammunition, I sincerely hoped Tommy had more where that came from."
Well...Okay.  I'm a liberal, my skin is probably as thin as the next guy's, and I admit, I do find that passage offensive.  But my objection isn't exactly political...
• "If I were emperor of the earth for one day, one of the first things I would do would be to disband the TSA and turn the entire operation over to the private sector. In the parade of our government being intrusive and out of control, the beyond incompetent TSA is carrying the baton and wearing the shiniest jackboots of the lot.”
This appears to be a Joycean allusion to an earlier work -- specifically, the original verse of Irving Berlin's Easter Parade, which was only heard during the out of town try-outs.  When the 1933 musical revue As Thousands Cheer opened on Broadway, matinee idol Clifton Webb warbled the now familiar words, but in Baltimore and New Haven, audiences heard him sing to co-star Marilyn Miller, "You'll be the grandest incompetent/In the parade of our government being intrusive and out of control."
• "Every time I enter Massachusetts, I feel like I am entering the former Soviet Union. Creeping Socialism Bay-State style...as a conservative who believes in limited government and lower taxes, it's a bitter pill to swallow, but home is home."
If this doesn't really sound like a quote from a breathless, seat-of-your pants thriller, that's only because MacKinnon originally wrote it as a 30-second campaign ad for Scott Brown.
• "...You had to wonder sometimes if the Members of Congress worked for the American people or for those who would like to dismantle the CIA one spy at a time."
I'm sorry, but the answer is C) the Koch Brothers.  However, we do have some lovely parting gifts, including the Vengeance Is Mine Home Game...
• "I always get a queasy feeling whenever I enter Cambridge (MA). It is an exceptionally liberal city. Lots of fanatics...75% of the inhabitants consider themselves to be very liberal...I don't think Beijing comes close to that number. The only places on earth that might be more liberal than Cambridge are our own State Department and the United Nations."
Ian sounds a little bitter.  Which is fine, nothing wrong with a dark, brooding protagonist -- just look at Casablanca, or most every Harlequin Romance -- but I prefer the kind of cynicism that leads your hero to pre-empt a speech by rising from the table with an abrupt, "Gentlemen, your business is politics.  Mine is selling drinks," rather than pitching in with made-up statistics about arugula consumption.
• "As one who had worked with Mossad and the Israel Defense Forces in the past...I always became particularly incensed whenever I saw one of these spoiled, rich, never-had-to-serve-their nation liberal brats walk past me wearing a Keffiyah scarf in "solidarity" with the Palestinian people...the same "populist" idiots who wear the Che Guevara T-shirts and have no idea of the atrocities that man committed against homosexuals, blacks, and children."
You can always tell when an author is writing from personal experience, and this passage reeks of the kind of passion that only comes from the heart.  I imagine Mr. MacKinnon's own service was hard, but ennobling, although strangely I can't find any mention of it.  He used to boast of having been Bob Dole's press secretary, but lately that information seems to have slipped his bio, so maybe he also forgot about humping an M-16 through the sweltering rice paddies of Indochina.

Wait, here's his official author biography from Simon & Schuster (Canada):  "Douglas MacKinnon has written for both the White House and the Pentagon."

Ah, so when he says he worked in a "Joint Command," he really means he worked on the Commanders' Joints by providing the brass with a full manual press release.
• "Well, at least not the ones being blamed by the liberal leadership in Congress for every disaster including the fictional and budget busting global warming --- aka climate change."
"Say, Ian, brutal former KGB Colonel Vladimir Ivanchenko is in Boston.  Shouldn't we go make him pay for murdering the love of your life and your unborn child...?"

"I can't leave the house right now.  It snowed yesterday in DC and Hannity is making fun of Al Gore."
• "The kind of people who insisted in saying "Happy Holidays" at Christmas and were offended or thought you a bigot for saying the perfectly proper "Merry Christmas" in a nation that was more than 80% Christian."
"Ian, I don't want to tell an ex-CIA operative his business, but Ivanchenko's only going to be in town for a week.  Shouldn't you revenge yourself upon him now for killing your family, and argue with the Target check-out clerk later?"
• "I used to read the paper normally front to back, but all…the liberal bias pushed by most mainstream papers was starting to have a cumulative effect on my already fragile mind."
Ian Wallace: on the surface, a deadly killing machine bent on vengeance, while underneath, he's everybody's elderly, email-forwarding aunt.
Mainstream media and liberal attacks aside, I am confident Ian Wallace can take care of himself.
So am I, assuming that Ian fights his battles primarily in Usenet threads.  Anyway, the "liberal mainstream" attacking Mr. MacKinnon's book appears to have emerged from the same place as Ian Wallace himself -- Doug's asshole fertile imagination.  I can't find any evidence of a genuine (though coincidentally sales enhancing) controversy, and there are only eight reviews on his Amazon page, 5 of them favorable.  This is the top one:
Aside from being a fan of author MacKinnon's previous novels, one of the things which made me want to read Vengeance Is Mine, was the endorsement on the cover by conservative commentator Tony Blankley which said: "A Thriller for the Tea Party Generation." How right he was.
You know, I didn't much care for Tony Blankley, but I feel kind of bad that that's his epitaph.