Thursday, November 29, 2012

And now for some Lesbian Levity.....

NSFW audio, by the way....

Toleration, Temperament and Undaunted Liberty

 [T]he only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him or visiting him with any evil in case he do otherwise… The only part of the conduct of anyone for which he is amenable to society is that which concerns others… Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.

- John Stuart Mill 
I don't often [if ever] use poor experiences with other sites, to fuel musings on this blog....but a recent encounter has left me both entertained and perplexed. Religious liberty is one of our most sacrosanct values...but religious liberty and liberty writ large, are often at odds by people who seem not to understand that the two can [and should] coexist. They are not mutually exclusive, and those who practice that exclusivity are fooling themselves if they state that they believe in freedom for all citizens.

The subject in this event was gay marriage, and the blog author considers themself both fervently religious and a Libertarian. Nothing wrong so far, both can be very valuable and enviable qualities. I, as usual, take the side of maximum liberty - that which does not harm me, steal from me, or restrict my liberties...should be allowed, excepting instances of national security and public safety. And that those opposed to such tenets not be able to gain the power of the state to enforce an emotional will.

The issue at stake, at it's fundamental core, is the manner in which we as American citizens either affirm or deny the privileges and legal protections to our fellow citizens, that we ourselves enjoy.

With gay marriage, the obstacle to common ground I run across most, is the claim that somehow the ability for gay Americans to enjoy these same liberties and protections that I do, somehow harms another, or harms their marriage.

Here's where I'm perplexed; I can't seem to elicit a cogent answer as to how that harm occurs. There is no tangible injury to said person; and there certainly can't reasonably be an emotional effect that severs or strains the bond between a married couple. So why do opponents of gay marriage so often hang their hat on this point, yet so utterly fail to provide a foundation for it?

Toleration does not equal approval. That doesn't prevent people from conflating the two.

I have, on several occasions, proffered a course of action, to incentivize discussion; offering a logical course of action [and one that I would personally support] to exclude all civil marriages from utilizing the term 'marriage', defining it solely as a religious ceremony....making all other contracts 'unions'...or some such.With this, the term marriage would no longer be allegedly 'redefined', and as such would theoretically take away a [or THE] major obstacle.

What I also find perplexing is that someone so vociferously opposed to maximum liberty, would consider themselves a Libertarian. I fully acknowledge that Libertarians come in many different stripes and flavors......typically, they all maintain a general defense of individual freedom, and the abhorrence of using the state to regulate and restrict those freedoms.

This issue, being so emotionally based, continues to stymie rational debate. Both sides are guilty, but the discussion should occur. It's a shame that so often, people will assume a defensive posture and lash out, when they are simply incapable of being civil and mature.

If you've made it this far, thank you for enduring my rambling musings. Most advocates and opponents can craft a solid argument for their position, and no matter how much I might disagree with that position, I can respect it. For those that can't...I am left wondering why they even waste their time....

Secretary Hagel?

From the National Journal comes a report proffered by Foreign Policy, stating that former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, is being considered for a posting as Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense.
Hagel currently co-chairs President Obama’s Intelligence Advisory Board, an independent group that advises the president on the intelligence community. If nominated, Hagel would be the lone Republican in the Obama administration, as Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is expected leave.

The White House and Hagel’s office declined to comment to FP.
I think Hagel has the temperament for Defense...maybe not so much for State. My curiosity will be - presuming their is any truth to this.....will the GOP embrace having a Republican [albeit one who has been critical of the party] in a key post in the Obama Administration.....or will they turn on him for going to the camp of the 'enemy'?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Was there any sort of thought process behind this?

I'd wager that common sense and job security wasn't part of it.
A South Laurel High School teacher was found to be in violation of district policy when she wrote a defamatory statement on her white board.

The statement read, “You can’t be a Democrat & go to Heaven.”

A student in her classroom took a photo of the white board, turning it in to the Laurel County Board of Education and the Sentinel-Echo.

According to Superintendent Doug Bennett, the accused teacher, Kendra Baker, heard the statement from a student then proceeded to write it on her board.  The statement was not a part of the curriculum or lesson plan and was a blatant opinion following the recent Presidential election.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Definition of the Day

From Michael Austin, author of That's Not What They Meant!:

Founderstein -

An ideological monstrosity that, like Frankenstein's monster, borrows bits and pieces from those safely dead - from that is, the speeches, published essays, letters and journals of any number of different Founding Fathers slapped together with absolutely no concern for context, rhetorical intent or the tremendous differences between the individual Founders.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Judy Morris Report - Real News for Real People: A Twinkie Autopsy

Judy Morris Report - Real News for Real People: A Twinkie Autopsy: Twinkie-gate is getting a ton of media and blogger attention because of its bankruptcy and the loss of over 18,000 jobs. However, the...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Department of Everything

Sen Tom Coburn, R-OK released his long awaited report on areas within the defense budget that can - and should - be cut. These are 'non-defense' areas where the Department of Defense is either duplicating efforts taking place in other areas of government, or simply has efforts under it's purview, that can, and should be handled by other departments, if at all.
The five missions examined by this report—research and development, education, alternative energy, grocery stores, and support and supply services—could be or already are being better delivered by more appropriate federal agencies or departments, civilian federal employees, or even the private sector. Some of these functions have been performed by the military for decades. Others, such as the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, are more recent expansions to the Pentagon’s role and mission.

Three questions were asked when reviewing each of the programs and agencies profiled in this report:
- Does the mission of this program or agency directly relate to the mission of the Department of Defense?

 - Does another federal agency or government or private entity already provide the services provided by this program or agency?

- Could these resources be better targeted towards higher priority defense needs, such as taking care of troops on the front lines or reducing our $16 trillion national debt?

The five areas examined in this report are by no means an exhaustive list of non-defense spending programs at the DOD. These areas are merely a starting point for reviewing Pentagon spending that is unnecessary, duplicative, wasteful, or simply not related to defense. Department of Everything identifies more than $67.9 billion in budget options to protect the nation against the rising tide of the red menace while enhancing the Pentagon’s focus on its true mission, which is our nations defense.

After skimming through the report, I really haven't found much to disagree with. I think the DoD should remain one of the primary entities to conduct critical R&D.

I'm fully on board with the elimination of on-post schools and commissaries....I would even add to that the elimination of Post and Base Exchanges....but in all cases, only where those installations were remote enough for off post shopping to be prohibitive.

I'm not sure how much Congressional play these proposals will get, but it's a thought provoking read if you're both a fiscal Conservative and interested in military policy.

Is the Elephant on life support?

No time to post anything today.....too busy trying to save the world.

But please go check out Silverfiddle's post at Western Hero - God Save the Elephant

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A path forward?

In his first interview since his party’s electoral thumping last week, Jindal urged Republicans to both reject anti-intellectualism and embrace a populist-tinged reform approach that he said would mitigate what exit polls show was one of President Barack Obama’s most effective lines of attack against Mitt Romney.

Calling on the GOP to be “the party of ideas, details and intelligent solutions,” the Louisianan urged the party to “stop reducing everything to mindless slogans, tag lines, 30-second ads that all begin to sound the same. “

He added: “Simply being the anti-Obama party didn’t work. You can’t beat something with nothing. The reality is we have to be a party of solutions and not just bumper-sticker slogans but real detailed policy solutions.”

I'm no political historian, but I have seen what I believe to be a rise in a reliance on meme's and sloganeering in the past campaign season, from both parties....but I could generally care less what the Democrats do. I don't always succeed, but I try to make a policy argument on intellectual grounds, as free as possible from rank emotional satisfaction. This has been one of my bigger beefs with how the GOP has pursued electoral success. If an argument is sound and just on it's merits alone, you don't need to pander to the lowest common denominators of discourse to make your point. If a position cannot stand on it's own merits, then why are you making the case to begin with?

I believe policy positions should be tested against preconceived notions and confirmation bias. This intellectual process seems to be a rarity these days.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Post Election Observations

From Intellectual Bubblegum, Lessons from the 2012 Presidential election:

Pundits: The people who believe they’ve seen it all didn’t see it coming.

The candidate who’s famous for working with numbers, apparently not so good with Census math.

GOP: Quick! Somebody get copies of Spanish for Dummies! TiVo Chesprito!

MSNBC: Schadenfreude. FOX News: See? Liberals love using foreign words over American ones.

Woooo! This is grea….Oh yea, the fiscal cliff.

Mayans: Sure you don’t want to take another look at our calendar?

Anti-Obama T-shirt makers: Back in business, boys!

Denver Colorado’s “Mile High City” takes on new meaning.

Gay people can now be quietly miserable too in Maryland.

The end of America is apparently upon us, but people still going to Applebees tonight and planning for Christmas
My personal observations have been primarily through the postings and comments sections of other blogs. I've seen blogs go quiet, bloggers publicly and dramatically quit, moderated comments go unapproved....and a distinct theme of blaming everyone and everything except their own party. Libertarians were blamed on more than one blog, even though we didn't tip the scales in any state from Romney to Obama.

Obviously, left leaning blogs seem pretty happy, but the opposition has been lashing out, with few exceptions. Of my daily stops, the more erudite bloggers have made thoughtful inquiries from their readers, as to what went wrong on Election night.

The GOP has lost it's way; not only in regards to what it means to say that you support life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...but also as it applies to how it views itself in the American political landscape.

David Frum writes "At a time when the need to broaden the party’s appeal seemed overwhelmingly compelling, Republicans narrowed their appeal to the most ideological fragment of the conservative base."

This was shown in the allegedly skewed polls, their over reliance on pimping the "liberal media" meme, and many of it's most prolific members, such as Florida's Allen West who stated that upwards of 80 members of the Democrat Party are "members of the Communist Party". Without any shred of sourcing...of course.

One conservative luminary offers his advice to the GOP.

George Will,  Nov 9th, 2012:

On Feb. 11, 2011, the person who should have been the Republican nominee laconically warned conservatives about a prerequisite for persuading people to make painful adjustments to a rickety entitlement state. Said Indiana’s Gov. Mitch Daniels: “A more affirmative, ‘better angels’ approach to voters is really less an aesthetic than a practical one. With apologies for the banality, I submit that, as we ask Americans to join us on such a boldly different course, it would help if they liked us, just a bit.” Romney was a diligent warrior. Next time, Republicans need a more likable one.

And one who tilts toward the libertarian side of the Republican Party’s fusion of social and laissez-faire conservatism. Most voters already favor less punitive immigration policies than the ones angrily advocated by clenched-fist Republicans unwilling to acknowledge that immigrating — risking uncertainty for personal and family betterment — is an entrepreneurial act. The speed with which civil unions and same-sex marriage have become debatable topics and even mainstream policies is astonishing. As is conservatives’ failure to recognize this: They need not endorse such policies, but neither need they despise those, such as young people, who favor them. And it is strange for conservatives to turn a stony face toward any reconsideration of drug policies, particularly concerning marijuana, which confirm conservatism’s warnings about government persistence in the teeth of evidence.
I wouldn't place a wager at this juncture, on whether or not the GOP will take that advice.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Note to a younger self

Alex Horton is someone who, like me, was in Iraq during the surge. He never fails to impress with his words......

Oregon needs to start scouting the next Kenjon Barner....

She's 8 year old Samantha Gordon from the Salt Lake City, Utah area.
A highlight reel of a peewee football player has become an Internet sensation, showcasing the impressive speed and versatility of Utah youngster Sam Gordon -- a girl playing in an all-boys tackle football league.

While female football players tend to be relegated to the kicker position, Sam made waves on the field with her physicality and fearless nature. The video, posted by the girl's father, Brent, displays the girl's talent for bursting through coverage, breaking tackles and making tackles of her own. Most notably, however, is the section in which Sam shows that she can take a hard hit -- just like the boys.

Sam finished the 2012 season with a stat line that would make any parent proud. According to the video, she scored 35 touchdowns on 232 carries, totaling 1,911 yards and averaging 8.2 yards per carry. She also added 65 tackles, for good measure.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Forget the liberal pablum.....

This is how it 'takes a village'.

h/t TAH

Frank Recce didn’t wait for the cavalry to come. He created one.

When superstorm Sandy socked Staten Island last week, the 24-year-old longshoreman from the borough’s Great Kills section sprang into action, connecting neighbors with able-bodied men who helped clear debris, pumped away filthy floodwater and removed rain-soaked sheetrock from homes in New Dorp and Oakwood Beach.

“We’re basically giving the people of the neighborhood organization,” Recce told “We were able to hit more than 200 houses by Monday. We’ve done more for our community than FEMA, the Red Cross and the National Guard combined, directly hitting houses and people in need.”

What began as a ragtag group of 12 men has grown into expectations of more than 100 volunteers this weekend as the group — using the name Brown Cross — will resume its operations after taking a much-needed planning day on Thursday, Recce said.
“It basically signifies that we’re willing to get dirty, to do the labor,” Recce said of the group’s name. “And we’re from the neighborhood; we’re strictly from the neighborhood.”

Recce, an Army veteran who received a Purple Heart after being wounded in Iraq, said he wasn’t shocked by the disaster response from federal agencies, but questioned whether authorities were truly prepared for the storm.
Read the rest....

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My vote counts!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Is America a Christian Nation? What Focus on the Family Gets Wrong

Reposting this essay by John Fea from The Way of Improvement Leads Home
This piece never found a home in an Iowa newspaper, so I am publishing it here.  --JF
In the last twenty-four hours many citizens of Iowa have received a brochure in the mail from CitizenLink, a political affiliate of the evangelical Christian group called Focus on the Family.  The brochure calls attention to the fact that Barack Obama does not think the United States is a Christian nation.
As an evangelical Christian, someone who has learned much about being a father and husband from Focus founder James Dobson, and an American historian, I would ask you to think twice before making a decision on Tuesday based on some of the information provided in this brochure.  My concerns with this brochure are motivated not by politics, but by the irresponsible way that groups like Focus on the Family have twisted history, particularly the relationship between Christianity and the American founding, for political gain.
While the brochure is helpful in distinguishing Obama and Romney on questions related to life, marriage, and religious freedom, it assumes that such ideas can only flourish if the United States is a Christian nation.  
The quote attributed to Barack Obama at the top of the brochure is correct.  In 2008, while running for president, he said: “Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation—at least not just…We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation and a Buddhist nation and a Hindu nation and a nation of non-believers.”
What Obama meant was that we are a nation defined by religious freedom.  America belongs to everyone who abides by its laws.  The First Amendment does not support one religion over another and provides for the free exercise of religion by people of all faiths, or none at all.  
Granted, Christians today far outnumber people of other faiths, but the Founding Fathers set out to create a republic in which religious minorities could flourish.  The Founders were not interested in creating a nation built on religious “toleration.”  This implies that one religion is supported by the government or the culture and others are merely tolerated.  When translated into common language, “toleration” often means something like: “I don’t like you and your religion, but I will tolerate you.”
Religious freedom, on the other hand, implies religious equality for all.  Unfortunately, many conservatives are unwilling to accept this reality. Many of them are not yet ready to come to grips with the implications of the Immigration Act of 1965, a law that opened the doors of the United States to a host of new immigrants from Asia and the Middle East.  The Act profoundly reshaped our religious landscape.
In other words, religious liberty—an idea that the Focus on the Family brochure praises Romney for upholding—implies that the United States is not a Christian nation.  Though Romney has not blatantly proclaimed this (to do so would be a bad political move), his views on the matter are quite similar to Obama’s.  The brochure is thus misleading.
In reality, the question of whether or not the United States was founded as a Christian nation is a difficult one to answer.  I have spent a lot of time exploring this question and have concluded that the answer is complex.  It is an issue that cannot be decided by sound-bites or campaign brochures.   
But I do think that subsequent amendments to the Constitution (such as the 14th Amendment) and later Supreme Court decisions have made it clear that the United States, as it exists today, is not a Christian nation.  
On the other hand, I think that a pretty good argument could be made for the idea that we are not a Christian nation based on the coarseness of our popular culture, our rampant materialism, our disregard for human life, and our failure to care for one another and love our neighbors.
In fact, the question of whether or not the United States is, or ever was, a Christian nation, should be irrelevant to one’s views on life, marriage or religious freedom.  Christians are to promote life, family, liberty, peace, justice, care for the creation, care for the poor, and humility in foreign affairs whether we are a Christian nation or not.
Why do Christians need the nation to be Christian, or a leader who upholds the idea that America is Christian, to live faithfully in the world?  I think I remember something about the first-century Christian church thriving amidst a Roman government that no right-minded historian would call “Christian.”

Monday, November 5, 2012

Will this be your "choice" tomorrow?

h/t to South Park

A wasted vote, is a vote for someone you don't believe in

So if you vote and think your vote should express your political beliefs, there's nowhere else for libertarians (and Libertarians) to look.

But of course, Gary Johnson is not going to win the election. Indeed, if past is prologue, he will likely finish with less than 1 percent of all votes cast. So the real case for Gary Johnson - a tougher case to make - is arguing for why you should think about pulling the lever, tapping the screen, or punching the butterfly ballot for the guy knowing that he's a bigger lost cause than the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series, the Gilmore Girls movie getting made, and the release of Dr. Dre's Detox put together.

As it happens, Johnson has addressed this very question in his forthright manner. "A wasted vote," he says, "is a vote for someone you don't believe in." He's even exhorting people to "waste" their vote, telling an audience at New York University, "We can make a difference in this election. Waste your vote!”

The Republicans will move in a libertarian direction when they finally realize that the libertarian ethos of live and let live doesn't represent moral nihilism but a goddamned sustainable future in a globalized, post-mainstream world. Who do you want sitting next to you as Spaceship Earth hurtles through time: Todd Akin or Gary Johnson? The Republicans have failed to wrap their heads around the unmitigated disaster that the Bush presidency was. Forget social issues for the moment. George W. Bush - in total cahoots with a Congress led by John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, who still roam the corridors of power like Tor Johnson roamed the set of Plan 9 From Outer Space - kicked out the jams on spending and cronyism. He was a big-government disaster, the political equivalent of Hurricane Sandy. And he did what he did with the full aid and succour of a GOP majority that signed on for The Patriot Act, Medicare Part D, the invasion of Iraq, the creation of the TSA, and TARP. The fully unconvincing and meager attempts by Mitt Romney to say he's going to rein in spending while "preserving" and "strengthening" Medicare and Social Security and ramping up military spending to a perpetual 4 percent of GDP flatly demonstrate that the Republicans have yet to get the simple message that voters first delivered during the 2006 midterms.

For their part, the Democrats have yet to learn the lesson of 2010, when voters sent exactly the same midterm message: Don't just do something, stand there! In 2010, the party of Thomas Jefferson took a "shellacking" (Obama's term of art) not despite all of the president's highly touted "historic" successes but precisely because of them. Obamacare, stimulus, more bailouts up the ying-yang, stupid interventions everywhere from Detroit to Afghanistan to college football's ranking system - all helped spark a strong and obvious reaction among large swaths of voters. And yet, Obama and Team Blue haven't changed a goddamned jot or tittle in their basic script. If you don't vote for the (liberal) Democrat, this line goes, then mere anarchy will be loosed. All that is decent and civilized about America will forever be destroyed and we will be bombing indiscriminate countries into the Stone Age, women will go barefoot and be forcibly impregnated and shoved back into the kitchen and Paul Lynde will once again be closeted in the center square. The skies will once again be filled with the choking fumes of plutocrats lighting cigars with $1,000 bills featuring the image of Ayn Rand and power plants will once again exclusively be powered by grinding the bones of the poor, the tired, and non-unionized illegal immigrants. It will be the Hunger Games, but without the laughs. The important thing, the Democrats say without blinking, is that government spending can never, ever decline because it's all essential spending and we'll pay for it merely by asking the super-rich to pay just a little bit more. It's like South Park's Gnomes Underpants Profit Plan, only slightly less detailed.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Huh, so that’s what it looks like when he plays four quarters

Kenjon Barner rushes for more yards in a game than any other running back in Oregon history.

Oregon over USC 62-51.............And the Quack Attack rolls on.