Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Rand Paul's Idiocies

Rand Paul assets that the Democrats have no right to accuse Republicans of waging a "war on women", because Bill Clinton "took advantage of a 20-year-old girl". This is patently false. More accurate is to say that "a 22-year-old woman took advantage of him". She sought him out, he did not seek her out. She is on record as saying that "I'm going to the White House to get my presidential kneepads."

Far from backing off from his original false statements, Rand Paul has recently doubled down on his falsities by repeating that Clinton took advantage of a "20-year old college girl". In actuality, Lewinsky had graduated from college when she got the intern job at the White House.

If this is the quality of Paul's pronouncements, his presidential aspirations will end soon.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Michael Dunn Case

The jury has spoken in the case of Michael Dunn, the Florida man who shot and killed a black teenager who was playing his music too loud in a convenience store parking lot. So many issues here to discuss.

The idiot media insists on comparing this case to the George Zimmerman case, when, from a legal standpoint, there are no significant similarities. The similarities that do exist are that in both cases a white adult shot an unarmed black teenager, and both incidents happened in Florida. To the idiot media this makes the cases similar, and the media insists on pandering to the basest instincts in all of us, which want to see everything in terms or race.

The two cases actually could not be more different. Mr. Dunn was not attacked, nor was he threatened with attack. Mr. Zimmerman, by contrast, was attacked, thrown to the ground, and had his head repeatedly pummeled into the concrete. Mr. Zimmerman called the police, and waited for the police to get there, hardly consistent with someone who had just killed a man in cold blood. By contrast, Mr. Dunn left, and drove 2 and a half hours home, leaving the police to have to track him down.

The idiot media also likes to obsess about Florida's "stand your ground" law. In actuality, that law was not an issue in either the Zimmerman or the Dunn cases.

One of CNN's resident idiots, Chris Cuomo, repeatedly said, after the Dunn verdict, that Florida needed to change its law on self-defense, without ever articulating what exactly his objections were  about the law as written. In fact, Florida's law is similar to that of every other state, and the law has nothing to do with the perceived problem which the idiot media has, which is consternation over the fact that that the Dunn jury was unable to reach a verdict on the most serious charge, that of killing Jordan Davis. They did convict Dunn of three attempted murder charges, which under Florida law will get him a minimum of sixty years in prison, i.e., a life sentence.

The Florida law says that "a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if: (1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another." The issue is the same in every state; i.c., did the defendant believe he was in danger of "imminent death or great bodily harm", and, if so, was that belief "reasonable". The fact that at least one juror felt that Dunn met this test does not mean the law is flawed, it simply means the jury did its job and could not come up with a unanimous verdict on the murder charge.

And yet, the media continues to wring its collective hands over the hung jury on the murder charge. Why? Dunn will be in prison for the rest of his life. And it is not just the media; the head prosecutor, Angela Corey, immediately said Dunn would be retried on that one charge. What a waste of taxpayer dollars! 

Corey (and the media idiots) repeatedly talk about "justice for Jordan Davis". This shows a complete lack of understanding about the nature of our justice system. It is not the victim vs. the accused. That case would be pursued in civil court, which is where two citizens go who have a dispute that they cannot resolve between themselves. In the criminal court, it is the government pursuing a case against the accused because of the offense against society.

Monday, February 17, 2014

More Heat than Light on Minimum Wage Issue

Both sides are guilty of sloganeering rather than careful analysis on this issue. Just to be clear, I favor raising the minimum wage to what it was, in real terms, in the '60's and '70's. It worked well then and would do so again. I also favor indexing the minimum wage to inflation, like everything else is these days.

First to the pro side. We hear that "you can't live on minimum wage". This is hogwash. I live perfectly fine on just over $1,000 a month, and this is less than the take-home pay for someone making minimum wage. (Don't forget the Earned Income Tax Credit kicks in.)

We also hear "You can't support a family on minimum wage". Well, duh! It used to be that people didn't get married and start a family until they were financially stable. We have completely lost the sense of personal responsibility and personal character that we used to have. If you don't have a stable career, don't get married and don't have kids!

On the con side, we have equally false and/or silly arguments. We hear that it will cause a loss of jobs. No study has ever supported this notion, and we have plenty of evidence from past raises in the minimum wage demonstrating the falsity of this notion.

We hear that most of the people making minimum wage are teenagers. Sudies have completely debunked this myth as well.

The people who oppose minimum wage laws are cut from the same stripe as those opposing child labor laws, workplace safety laws, workers' right to organize into unions, and on and on.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

John Boehner Finally Grows a Backbone

Boehenr finally came to his senses and refused to let the Tea Party faction of his party shut down the government again over raising the debt ceiling. Why he allowed this in the first place indicates only his lack of backbone and leadership. It seems that since the last fiasco he has decided it is more important to be able to look himself in the mirror each morning than to pander to the extreme right-wing of his party.

Now if only Harry Reid could grow a backbone. Reid has tried for years to change the rules in the Senate, so as to prevent the filibusters which the Republicans mount, or threaten to mount, against almost every bill supported by the Democrats. In 2011 he accepted a handshake deal with the Republicans, a deal which the Republicans promptly violated. Then in 2013, at the start of the current Congress, he vowed to accept "no more handshake deals", so what does he do? Accept another handshake deal!

The leadership in Congress is today worse than any I've seen in my lifetime. Reid, McConnell, Boehner, Pelosi, this is the worst collection of mediocrity I have ever seen. Where is real leadership when we most need it?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

AP Mixes up "Who" and "Whom"

Amazing blunder the other day by the AP, which is a consortium of nespapers from all over the country who hire this outfit to cover stories that no one newspaper can afford to do on its own.

In a story on the 50th anniversary of the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, it was stated that "just days before the historic broadcast, the CBS chairman and CEO had no idea whom the Beatles were".

How in the world can the AP make such a horrendous blunder?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

"100 People Who Are Screwing Up America", by Bernard Goldbeg

This book suffers from three biases. One, Goldberg is quite right-wing and makes no bones about this. Two, it was published in 2005, which makes it quite dated by now as many of the events he writes about happened the year before. And three, being a journalist he focuses an inordinate amount of attention on fellow journalists who he feels have blurred the line between news and entertainment.

I'm as unhappy as Goldberg is by this "infotainment" era we live in. However, I would never include people like Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters on this type of list. Sawyer is on solely because she did an interview with Britney Spears, and Walters is on because of her celebrity interviews. I think those of us who consume news can tell the difference between when a reporter is functioning as a journalist doing hard news, and when he or she is engaging in "soft news", like a celebrity interview.

A much more perceptive update could be written today of this infotainment trend. Just a few days ago Andrea Mitchell was doing a live interview with a member of Congress on MSNBC, and she interrupted it with "breaking news". The breaking news that couldn't wait? Justin Bieber had been arrested! The problem with this sort of thing isn't with the on-air journalist, but with the producer who makes the decisions on what stories to cover. That's who should be on the list, not people like Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, and Andrea Mitchell, who after all are only doing the bidding of their producers.

One result of this infotainment trend is the plethora of so-called "reality shows", which purport to show reality but which actually are a confusing blend of reality and fiction. After all, who among us acts naturally when we know the camera is on us?

Many of the people on Goldberg's list are there becuase of a single stupid think they have said or done. How ironic, then, that Goldberg himself says something in this book which is as stupid as anything he writes about, when he says that Paul Begala is worse than Joe McCarthy. Begala is a Democratic strategist who to this day is a respected commentator on the network news shows, and to say he is worse than McCarthy is simply ludicrously over-the-top, and demonstrates a profound ignorance of the horrible damage McCarthy did to this country.

Ultimately, Goldberg sacrifices all credibility when he goes farther "over-the-top" than those he criticizes, and this book cannot be recommended.