Jan 312009

You know, Church and State are supposed to be SEPARATE in this country. That is the way the Constitution was established.. SO PLEASE, STOP SPREADING YOUR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS. SERIOUSLY.

That was a comment in response to an anti-abortion ad featuring the President of the United States. The person who wrote the comment is probably one of those who was never taught the difference between church & state on the one hand and religion & politics on the other.

Actually, this one seems to be an even more serious case than that. The ad isn’t even political.

Jan 292009

President Obama said, “We don’t have a moment to spare.”

I presume what he meant was that if the House waited a day longer, people might get more information and realize the big stimulus is largely a big greedfest. They might at least want it cleaned up a little.

But he’s following in the grand footsteps of President George W. Bush who urged quick action on his big Patriot Acts. The ACLU and conservative Republicans wanted to slow down and tune the acts to protect civil liberties. But George W. Bush would have none of it, for much the same reason that Barak Obama does not want a delay in his Stimulus/Pork package.

George Will explains the need for speed this way. “When on thin ice, move quickly.”

Jan 292009

I rarely listen to my hero Rush Limbaugh any more. He’s too whiney, too much invested in Republicans in general and Bush in particular, too dumb and ignorant on science issues and many others, and too fixated on racial issues. He’s still my hero, but he’s not worth my valuable listening time (to say nothing of the time in the car when I prefer to think quietly rather than listen to anything at all).

His article in today’s WSJ is brilliant, though. And President Obama asked for it by his snidely sophomoric reference to Rush when he met with Congressional Republicans a few days ago.

Fifty-three percent of American voters voted for Barack Obama; 46% voted for John McCain, and 1% voted for wackos. Give that 1% to President Obama. Let’s say the vote was 54% to 46%. As a way to bring the country together and at the same time determine the most effective way to deal with recessions, under the Obama-Limbaugh Stimulus Plan of 2009: 54% of the $900 billion — $486 billion — will be spent on infrastructure and pork as defined by Mr. Obama and the Democrats; 46% — $414 billion — will be directed toward tax cuts, as determined by me.

Then we compare. We see which stimulus actually works. This is bipartisanship! It would satisfy the American people’s wishes, as polls currently note; and it would also serve as a measurable test as to which approach best stimulates job growth….

The economic crisis is an opportunity to unify people, if we set aside the politics. The leader of the Democrats and the leader of the Republicans (me, according to Mr. Obama) can get it done. This will have the overwhelming support of the American people. Let’s stop the acrimony. Let’s start solving our problems, together. Why wait one more day?

One point I may as well disagree with, since I’m part of that 1% that he’s giving to President Obama. It’s not that 1% of the population voted for wackos in the last election. 100% of them did. But I’ll go along with this plan.

Jan 282009

Here’s a comment I posted in response to the article by Harvey Wallbanger in The Atlantic titled “Football is a Dangerous Business“:

Here’s my favorite proposal to improve the situation: eliminate free substitution and go back to having the players play both ways. If they had to play both ways, there would not be so many of the freakishly large players on the field who create the lethal forces that endanger others’ lives. An added benefit is that it would tilt the game more in favor of the best, most versatile athletes.

Besides, super-specialization is a hallmark of the modern industrial society, along with super-commoditization and super-organization. Sports are supposed to be a way to bring back a taste of the more primitive life we left behind when we all became cogs in the giant industrial machine.

Jan 282009

As one who has long been opposed to fair trade, fair wages, and other such forms of political favoritism, I was fascinated by Bart Wilson’s article, “Fair’s Fair,” in The Atlantic. It contains this paragraph:

Did you know that fair is one-to-one untranslatable into any other language–that it is distinctly Anglo in origin? And a relatively new word at that? (Late 18th century, actually–the industrial revolution apparently also vastly enhanced our capacity to complain.) But the twisted history of “fair” is even more interesting than that. For the original antonym of fair is not, as most modern Americans would probably expect, unfair. If you want to understand the roots of fairness, look not to ethicists, but to baseball, which still uses the original dichotomy. If a ball is hit outside the bounds of fair play, it’s not unfair–it’s foul. That’s an important clue. As Columbia law professor George Fletcher had noted in his 1996 book Basic Concepts of Legal Thought, the Anglo-American notion of fairness is firmly rooted in the rules of a game.

I’m usually suspicious of any claim that X can’t be translated into language Y. My grandfather used to say that about certain German words, but I’m pretty sure it’s not true. There are usually ways of expressing any idea, even if it can’t be done with a one-to-one translation. My hero St. Ronald once made the foolish statement that the Russians had no word for freedom. But they do. Some of the commenters on Wilson’s article took him to task for this paragraph, and rightly so.

But then Wilson veered into the more interesting topic of whether ideas of fairness vary from culture to culture. There are some interesting experiments waiting to be performed, to see whether a sense of entitlement affects one’s idea of fairness.

And a place to find people with a strong sense of entitlement is perhaps in some subpopulations within our universities. I’ve been privileged to work with a bunch of prima donnas for many years. They are great people to work with and I am not the least bit sarcastic when I say I’ve been privileged. But they do have quite a sense of entitlement. They’d be great subjects for some of Wilson’s experiments.

Jan 272009

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I’ve ordered my very own copy of the Little Blue Book, but it’s temporarily sold out. Here is the Amazon description:

This is the little blue book that has everyone twittering and blogging, essential reading as we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin the work of remaking America. Printed in a size that easily fits into pocket or purse, the book is an anthology of quotations borrowed from Barack Obama’s speeches and writings. POCKET OBAMA serves as a reminder of the amazing power of oratory and the remarkable ability of this man to move people with his words, a primer for readers who want to examine the substance of his thought and reflect on the next great chapter in the American story. His superb and captivating oratory has earned comparisons to John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and this collection presents words that catapulted his remarkable rise to the American Presidency. Includes themes of democracy, politics, war, terrorism, race, community, jurisprudence, faith, personal responsibility, national identity, and above all, his hoped-for vision of a new America. Learn earnestly and diligently. It is an unofficial requirement for every citizen to own, to read, and to carry this book at all times.

Even if you don’t buy a copy for yourself, you’ll want to read the reviews at Amazon. It’s not every day that someone can successfully pull both the right and the left leg at the same time. I especially liked this one, though:

Why buy this book here? Im sure it will be provided for free in the re-education camps.

Jan 272009

I’m still puzzling over Obama’s outburst at Eric Cantor. Robert Kuttner tried to pass it off as a jocular remark, but Kuttner didn’t quote the part where Obama said, “I will trump you on that.” Nor did anyone tell us that after Obama tried his joke, he followed it up with, “Seriously…” and a discussion of why he disagreed with Cantor.

Besides, Obama isn’t much known for his sense of humor (although he has cracked an occasional self-deprecating joke — like the one about picking a dog for the White House). But if this is an example, he’s probably better off being known as a humorless politician.

I’m wondering — was this a breakfast meeting where he had his encounter with Cantor? Did Cantor somehow get between Obama and his waffle?

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Jan 262009

I posted this over at Real Clear Politics, in response to an article by Robert Kuttner titled, “It’s Show Time for Obama“:

That’s a jocular comment when Obama says, “I won?” The leader of the free world can offer no better argument than the iron fist? It doesn’t make him come across like the kind of person who wants to heal divisions. In his inaugural address he said, “we have chosen … unity of purpose over conflict and discord.” Maybe his type of unity is achieved by shutting down dissent, which is what he seemed to be doing wrt Cantor.

Jan 262009

According to Ron Suskind, in January 2003 when George W. Bush was informed that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, his response was, “Fuck it. We’re going in.”

Whether or not that’s true, Barak Obama has already had his “Fuck it, we’re going in” moment. When Rep. Eric Cantor objected to a part of the president’s stimulus proposal, Obama’s response was, “I won. I will trump you on that.” (URL)

And to think that some of us were hoping that Obama could at least be more articulate than Bush.