"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt


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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Soccer: A Socialist Sport? Give Me a Break...

Oddly, certain elements of the American Right have suddenly begun leveling attacks against soccer during the World Cup. I'm not talking about conservative pundits saying they find the sport boring (that's certainly their prerogative... I personally find college baseball tediously unwatchable), or the constant horn blaring annoying. Soccer's a game. Take it or leave it. Some people don't like tennis, or hockey, or (God forbid) American football, or baseball, or bowling, or water polo. So what? It's a matter of taste, so who cares?

No, I'm not talking about anything that simple. I'm talking about straight up attacks on the sport, of which C. Edmund Wright's American Thinker article "Soccer: The Perfect Socialist Sport" is an example. To be perfectly up front and fair, I suppose I should state that I am a soccer a fan. I played the sport for seven years, coached it for four, and continue to watch it now. Back in the day when no English-language American channels would show soccer games, I would watch the Mexican leagues on the Spanish-language stations and still occasionally do so now. With that disclaimer in place, I have to say that, as a conservative, I found the logical stretches and paranoid contentions in Wright's article to be utterly embarrassing.

I thought I might address Wright's idiocy one selected paragraph at a time.

From Wright's article:

"The world's most popular sport? Puh-leeze. This is like saying that dirt is more popular than gold simply because there is more of it. Last time I checked, soccer was very popular where starvation, archery, and badminton were the alternative activities. Where soccer has to compete with the NFL, college football, and basketball -- not to mention WWE, the X Games, cheerleading contests, and cage-fighting -- not so much."

Hmm. I have to admit that it's a brave decision for a writer to begin his argument by first fully displaying a total lack of understanding about the subject matter-- in this case other cultures' sporting tastes. It's brave, but probably just about the stupidest strategy I've ever seen.

Badminton is a particularly big in China and other nations that have significant Chinese populations such as Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, etc. and soccer is passably popular there; archery is particularly big in South Korea another nation that does indeed like soccer, but is hardly a country unexposed to American sports. While China and South Korea are no slouches in the world of soccer, both are hardly nations popularly known for their rabid soccer zeal. Indeed, Wright's assertion that soccer is only popular in poor, culturally deprived, third-world nations ("soccer was very popular where starvation, archery, and badminton were the alternative activities"-- at attempt at pithiness, I suppose) doesn't stand up under even the most casual scrutiny. A short list of countries well known for their love (often obsession) of the game disproves his claim immediately. Germany, Great Britain, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands... Is this a list of countries where the alternative to soccer is "starvation, archery, and badminton?" Puh-leeze yourself, Wright...

Come to think of it, in which country does soccer compete with "the NFL, college football, and basketball -- not to mention WWE, the X Games, cheerleading contests, and cage-fighting?" Oh, right... America. So the basis of Wright's opening argument is that since soccer is not terribly popular in the USA (despite the fact that most major colleges field a men's and women's team and several professional soccer leagues currently exist in the US) that soccer is a social equivalent to dirt. Good argument there... That's some a top-notch intellect on display I see...

But Wright seems determined to contribute mightily to the idea that American conservatives are an ugly, ignorant, and paranoid rabble with his next point:

"At its heart, soccer is the perfect socialist sport. That's why it will never catch on among Americans the way football or basketball has -- regardless of how hard ESPN or ESPN Deportes tries to force feed it to us. Soccer is a redistributive dreamer's delight, with most of the potential risk-reward strategy of the sport removed by rule. It is a self-esteem cornucopia, where a blistering rout of, say, 2-0 seems so close in the score book. No one's feelings get hurt at 2-0. And on and on the socialist feel goes."

Does Wright not understand how idiotic this sounds? So ESPN and ESPN Deportes is forcing soccer upon us as a part of socialist propaganda? It is so farcical that I really wonder if I should even reply to this lunacy... but I'll go ahead and do so.

Exactly when, outside of the World Cup, has ESPN ever forced soccer upon us? As I said before, I used to watch soccer on the local Spanish language television stations in L.A. because there was no soccer to be seen elsewhere. This was when ESPN was running the Gaelic games like hurling and that hand ball game that's basically hurling with a volleyball and without the stick. Today, Fox Sports has a channel devoted to soccer (FSC the Fox Soccer Channel) and ESPN has no equivalent that I know of (it goes without saying that ESPN Deportes doesn't count, since soccer is incredibly popular in Mexico and Latin American countries, so why on earth would it make any business sense to not run soccer?). According by Wright's own logic, shouldn't Fox be the network that stands accused of intentionally force feeding us socialist propaganda through the sport of soccer? Strangely, Wright fails to mention Fox... I wonder why?

But what about Wright's assertion that soccer is a "redistributive dreamer's delight?" Surely Wright should back up such an accusation by citing clear evidence from of a history of soccer that shows a socialist influence. Was the sport started by Lenin to demonstrate the futility of individual effort or some such thing? Did Marx invent the game to promote his idea of tyrannical economic redistribution?

Well, Wright provides no historical evidence of this. Whether this is due to ignorance, laziness, or an intentional omission matters little. The original rules of the game which were officially drawn up in 1863 and credited to Ebenezer Cobb Moreley can be found here. Little seems to be known about E.C. Morley. The upshot of the limited information about his life can be found here, and can pretty much be summarized by saying: "Ebenezer Cobb Morley was born in Hull in 1831. He moved to London where he worked as a solicitor. He was a keen sportsman and established Barnes Football Club in 1858." [...] "Morley also established the Barnes and Mortlake Regatta [is rowing another socialist sport?] for which he was also secretary (1862-80). He served on the Surrey County Council for Barnes (1903-19) and was a Justice of the Peace. Ebenezer Cobb Morley died in 1924."

The upshot of how soccer (football in this case) came to be founded is briefly summarized. "Morley became captain of the club [Barnes Football Club] and in 1863 he wrote a letter to Bell's Life newspaper proposing a governing body for football. This letter resulted in a meeting taking place at the Freeman's Tavern in London in October, 1863. The clubs represented at the meeting included Barnes, Blackheath, Perceval House, Kensington School, the War Office, Crystal Palace, Forest (later known as the Wanderers), the Crusaders and No Names of Kilburn. Charterhouse also sent an observer to the meeting.

"The Football Association was established at this meeting. The aim of the FA was to establish a single unifying code for football. As Percy Young, has pointed out, that the FA was a group of men from the upper echelons of British society: 'Men of prejudice, seeing themselves as patricians, heirs to the doctrine of leadership and so law-givers by at least semi-divine right.'"

I like that last line... I mean, that meeting sounds like a real socialist/red nightmare there, doesn't it?

A savvy skeptic might say that while there's no evidence of soccer's alleged socialist leanings from its inception, what about now under the modern rules? I mean the rules have changed greatly since 1863, right? Okay then. Let's look at the evidence as provided by Wright.

Let's first look at the "evidence" from the paragraph I quoted above. Let's see... Soccer has "most of the potential risk-reward strategy of the sport removed by rule." I'm not sure what he means there. I mean, people do win games and tournaments. Is Wright speaking strategically? I have no idea... so let's move on and maybe Wright will explain later.

Let's see, Wright claims that soccer "is a self-esteem cornucopia, where a blistering rout of, say, 2-0 seems so close in the score book. No one's feelings get hurt at 2-0. And on and on the socialist feel goes." Firstly, I didn't know that saving peoples feelings from being hurt was a tenet of socialism. Silly me. I thought socialism was an economic theory with its roots in Marx and Hegel. When will I ever learn-- or did Marx write about saving people's feelings in between predicting/promising death to the bourgeoisie? Secondly, how can Wright possibly say that no one's feelings get hurt when a team loses? I guess the various idiotic incidents of soccer violence that occurs in other countries-- such as fan deaths soccer goalies being threatened, physically assaulted, and sometimes killed for own goals by rabid fans (recent examples here here here-- gathered by a single google search) is due to this feel good mentality of this "self-esteem cornucopia" that Wright describes. Such incidents happen because... no one's feelings got hurt by a loss or something. Maybe it was the lack of competitive spirit that led to these violent happenings...

Wright's obvious lack of understanding of soccer is demonstrated in other ways. First of all a 2-0 score is not "a blistering rout" as Wright suggests. Sure, there's a nice cushion provided by that second goal lead, but this cushion is probably less stable than an equivalent score of 14-0 in American football. And would a 14-0 score between the Cowboys and Steelers be considered a blistering rout? Not by a long shot. But let us mistakenly assume for a moment that 2-0 is a rout. Well, then those of us familiar with the sport would recognize it as such, no matter what it looks like in a score book. No matter the sport, the only time a rout doesn't look like a rout is when people are unfamiliar with the sport. A loss by five seconds in an Olympic level 100 meter dash sure sounds close, doesn't it? After all, it's only five itty-bitty seconds in a record book. That's not a very long at all in games such as baseball. Is the 100m dash, therefore, a sport designed to promote non-competitiveness and socialism?

Wright goes on:

"Consider other ways in which it is the quintessential socialist sport:

"Soccer is biggest where the 'national teams' are the main sports focus of a nation. Hey, you can't get much more socialist than that. And everyone on every street and in every town pulls for the same team. Wow. Isn't that exciting? Whom do you pull for? Oh yeah, the national team."

Huh. Perhaps Wright should explain exactly when national pride and national identity became a hallmark of socialism? So, I guess the 1980 US Hockey team's victory, "The Miracle on Ice," was actually a great moment in socialist history. Who knew? I guess every moment that we identify ourselves as Americans and root for our countrymen during an Olympic sport, we've actually turned socialist. Well, I guess I'll just have to start rooting against Americans from now on. You suck Nastia Liukin, Kerri Strug, and The Dream Team! I suppose Wright believes that now I should feel like a real conservative...

Oh, and never mind the fact that most countries that enjoys soccer have various forms of profesional soccer leagues within their borders. Soccer is hardly a sport played merely by national teams.

And now the biggest "what in the hell is Wright talking about?" moment:

"And let's not forget the off-sides rule. Without getting buried in minutiae, suffice it to say that off-sides in soccer is like making the bomb illegal in football or the fast break illegal in basketball. This is a socialist sport. We can't be having any risk-reward equations here. You see, in soccer, it's not fair that you might take a chance to weaken your defense in order to spring a man deep downfield behind the defense. That would be unfair in a free-market, venture-capital-type way. No, no, no! You must let the defense be behind you. You cannot beat them downfield until you have the ball. That would be unfair and, no doubt, mean-spirited.

"So ingrained is this into the soccer psyche that many of the world's best defenses employ what they call 'the off-sides trap.' In other words, they use the socialist rules to the hilt. Here, a defenseman gets beaten downfield on purpose to get a call against his opponent.

"It's a lot like using high tax rates and the IRS to keep everyone's financial strata the same."

Now I've never been a fan of people who use sports as a sober metaphor for life, and I snicker every time at FIFA's advertising blitz shouting that soccer can change the world. But Wright's analogy wins the gold medal for stupidity.

Wright is saying that soccer's concept of off-sides is what?! It's amusing that Wright doesn't want to get "buried in minutiae" when talking about the concept of off-sides. Here's a quickie explanation of what off-sides in soccer is: at the time the ball is kicked to the offensive player, the receiving player must have two opposing players between him and the goal (the goalie would count as one). Why that's just like the IRS taking all your money, or a class struggle... or something.

Comparing apples and oranges is always a fool's game as Wright amply demonstrates. Still it is even more foolish, not sufficient, for Wright to say that the off-sides rule is "like making the bomb illegal in football." How on earth is the bomb in football anything like being off-sides in soccer? Seriously. It would be more appropriate to say that the off-sides rule is like making American football teams line up on sides before a play begins. How about if we allow wide receivers to just stand in the other team's end zone at all times and receive passes? Would that be sufficiently non-socialist for Wright? Heck, why is holding illeagal in football? Why are there rules to restrict the individual player at all? While we're at it, how about if we just allow the defensive linemen to clobber the quarterback whenever-- before the play, after the play, when the QB is walking onto the field... I mean sure it wouldn't be fair, but I guess Wright contends that fairness is an exclusively socialist virtue (along with national pride apparently).

Once again we are subjected to Wright's "risk-reward" concept, but at least this time he offers an explanation of it within soccer, although his example demonstrates a complete ignorance of the game. "This is a socialist sport. We can't be having any risk-reward equations here. You see, in soccer, it's not fair that you might take a chance to weaken your defense in order to spring a man deep downfield behind the defense." Has this moron never heard of defensive runs? Has he no concept of fullbacks (the defense) pushing forward into space to overwhelm the opponents' defense? Has he no idea about how the different line-ups (offensive-minded and defensive-minded) that are based around cost/benefit (risk-reward in Wright's language). There are plenty of other examples, but why should I explain the game. Like all games not based purely on chance, soccer is full of risks and potential rewards. It is absolutely idiotic to contend otherwise.

Oh right, now the off-sides trap nonsense. Wright says "the world's best defenses employ what they call 'the off-sides trap.' In other words, they use the socialist rules to the hilt. Here, a defenseman gets beaten downfield on purpose to get a call against his opponent." Are we supposed to be impressed that Wright knows the phrase off-sides trap? Too bad he has no clue about how it actually works above an AYSO level of play. A defender does not allow himself to be beaten, the defender stays forward forcing his offensive opponent to time a forward run in relation the offensive player's team mate's pass. It sounds much more complicated then it is. Incidentally, the off-sides trap is an example of risk-reward-- the defense risks being in a disadvantageous position to force the offense to be precise.

There's absolutely no reason for me to address the idiocy of bringing in the IRS and taxation into this. How about if Wright explains the U.S. tax codes in terms that involve the Miguel Cotto vs. Yuri Foreman boxing match?

So let's break the argument to it's essential evidence and review why Wright thinks soccer is a socialist sport-- there's an off-sides rule and soccer's a low scoring game. Hockey has an off-sides rule and it's a pretty low scoring game too. Do you think that makes hockey fascist?

And just to add a sense of unintentional irony, Wright then writes:

"And no liberal or socialist sport would be complete without a generous dose of self-importance, arrogance, and snobbery among its followers. I mean, it's bad enough that we have to see the kids running around in almost soft-porn thigh-highs and sandals every Saturday as they pile out of mini-vans at every Shoney's, Applebee's, and Hampton Inn everywhere. But it's the 'yeah, but it's the worlds most popular sport' attitude that really gets to me."

I do wonder where Wright can possibly dredge up the nerve to criticize others for self-importance, arrogance, and snobbery. Let's see in this very article Wright has stated that soccer is popular only in third-rate countries that face starvation, that because soccer is not terribly popular in the U.S. it is "dirt," all the while demonstrating an absolute and vapid ignorance of the game that he attempts to pithily smear. And why bring up "kids running around in almost soft-porn thigh-highs and sandals every Saturday as they pile out of mini-vans?" What does that have to do with anything?

If I didn't know better (and I do), I would idly wonder if Wright was a plant-- a Leftist writer intentionally trying to make the Right seem like ignorant fools. I mean, look what Wright manages to do in this essay. First he has claimed that fairness, national pride, and patriotism are all principles of socialism. Wright weaves in paranoia by asserting that ESPN is trying to indoctrinate us with socialistic principles through soccer. He claims soccer is "the quintessential socialist sport" simply by arbitrarily assigning qualities to it that soccer does not possess, and then indulging in analogies that either make absolutely no sense or are such a logical stretch that he makes MoveOn.org's people seem perfectly rational by comparison. And Wright manages to do this all the while feigning expertise in a sport he demonstrates next to no knowledge in (pseudo-intellectualism anyone?), and, just as a bonus, manages to pepper in needless insults to foreign countries throughout... Quite an accomplishment for such a short essay really.

Look, no one needs to like soccer. But to criticize it in this way, Wright should at least have an inkling of understanding about it. Wright demonstrates the same sort of self-righteous idiocy that those on the Left display when they they declare that if you don't like soccer, you're a racist. And that's really where all this comes in. Wright wants to insert himself into a conversation between Glenn Beck (not a fan of soccer) and various Leftist bloggers who contend that Beck is a racist for not liking soccer. While addressing this barbed idiocy from the Left is, I suppose, legitimate-- with a health care "reform" law that needs to be repealed, Cap & Tax on the plate, along with a Value Added Tax waiting in the wings (among other issues), all in addition to suicidal federal spending, one would think that there are currently more important issues to address.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Some Reactions to Obama's Speech: Losing MSNBC at Least for a Minute

"It was a great speech if you were on another planet for the last 57 days."

and

"I don't think he aimed low, I don't think he aimed at all. It's startling."

Are these quotes from Fox News or that vicious demoness Sarah Palin? Nope. From Keith Olbermann on MSNBC (h/t Jill at Potluck & at Pundit and Pundette).

And these from Chris Mathews:

"A lot of meritocracy, a lot of blue ribbon talk."

"I don't sense executive command."

"Ludicrous that he keeps saying [Secretary of Energy] Chu has a Nobel prize. 'I'll barf if he does it one more time.'"

Man, when Obama loses MSNBC he is in trouble...

Here's a text of Obama's speech.

Great Thomas Sowell Essay: "Oil and Snake Oil"



Sowell is excellent at cutting straight to the bone of things (an especially useful skill with this Administration), as he demonstrates in this essay.

From Sowell's essay:

"The big oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is bad enough in itself. But politics can make anything worse.

"Let's stop and think. Either the government knows how to stop the oil spill or they don't. If they know how to stop it, then why have they let thousands of barrels of oil per day keep gushing out, for weeks on end? All they have to do is tell BP to step aside, while the government comes in to do it right.

"If they don't know, then what is all this political grandstanding about keeping their boot on the neck of BP, the Attorney General of the United States going down to the Gulf to threaten lawsuits— on what charges was unspecified— and President Obama showing up in his shirt sleeves?

"Just what is Obama going to do in his shirt sleeves, except impress the gullible? He might as well have shown up in a tuxedo with white tie, for all the difference it makes.

"This government is not about governing. It is about creating an impression. That worked on the campaign trail in 2008, but it is a disaster in the White House, where rhetoric is no substitute for reality."

[...]

"[C]reating political impressions and images is not the same thing as governing. Yet Obama in the White House keeps on saying and doing things to impress people, instead of governing.

"Once the elections were over and the time for governing began, there was now a new audience to consider— a much more savvy audience, the leaders of other countries around the world."

[...]

"By the same token, domestic bungling by Barack Obama sends a dangerous signal to countries hostile to us, in addition to the signal sent by his displays of amateurism on the world stage.
President Obama had barely settled into the White House before he began demonstrating his willingness to sell out this country's friends to appease our enemies. His trip to Moscow to try to make a deal with the Russians, based on reneging on the pre-existing American commitment to put a missile shield in Eastern Europe, was the kind of short-sighted betrayal whose consequences can come back to haunt a nation for years.

"Obama spoke grandly about 'pressing the reset button' on international relations, as if all the international commitments of the past were his to disregard.

"But if no American commitment can be depended upon beyond a current administration, then any nation that allies itself with us is jeopardizing its own national security, because dangers in the international jungle last longer than 4 years or even 8 years."

That's some highlights, but go read the whole thing. It's well worth the time.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

HHS and IRS Documents Confirm that ObamaCare Will Likely Make You Lose Your Current Health Coverage


Remember when Obama would repeatedly say "if you like your current health plan, you won't have to change it?" Well, it was all an Obama lie-- as most people knew at the time. Now a study compiled by the IRS and Department of Health and Human Services just confirms the untruth.


"Internal administration documents reveal that up to 51% of employers may have to relinquish their current health care coverage because of ObamaCare.

"Small firms will be even likelier to lose existing plans.

"The 'midrange estimate is that 66% of small employer plans and 45% of large employer plans will relinquish their grandfathered status by the end of 2013,' according to the document.

"In the worst-case scenario, 69% of employers — 80% of smaller firms — would lose that status, exposing them to far more provisions under the new health law.

"The 83-page document, a joint project of the departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the IRS, examines the effects that ObamaCare's regulations would have on existing, or 'grandfathered,' employer-based health care plans."

[...]

"In a statement, Posey [Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla] said the document showed that the arguments in favor of ObamaCare were a 'bait and switch.'

"'The president promised repeatedly that people who like their current plans can keep them, but now the details of their plan actually confirm what many suspected all along, most Americans will lose their current health care plan,' Posey said. [emphasis mine]"

Oh, but don't worry... the Obama Administration has a perfectly legitimate response.

From the same article:

"A White House official told IBD: 'This is a draft document, and we will be releasing the final regulation when it is complete. The president made a promise to the American people that if they liked their health care plan, they can keep it. The regulation, when finalized, will uphold that promise.'

"However, the source conceded: 'It is difficult to predict how plans and employers will behave in the coming years, but if plans make changes that negatively impact consumers, then they will lose their grandfather status.'"

Get it? All of us shouldn't worry our pretty little heads over this because Obama will magically make it all of this be alright. The absolute disdain for the American people coming from this administration is pretty hard to take.

More from the article:

"Analyzing data on employer-provided plans from 2008 and 2009, the report stated: 'Many employers who made changes between 2008 and 2009 that would have caused them to relinquish grandfather status did so based on exceeding one of the cost-sharing limits.'

"In total, 66% of small businesses and 47% of large businesses made a change in their health care plans last year that would have forfeited their grandfathered status.

"'These rules will ensure that up to 69% of employees — and 80% of workers in small business — will lose their current plan within three years,' said Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., a physician. 'The reality is this: 58% of Americans want ObamaCare repealed because they fear they will lose their health care — and even their jobs — once this law is fully implemented.' [emphasis mine]"

I sat down and read three versions of the health care travesty bills-- that's 5000+ pages of legislation. Anyone with a passing familiarity of this bill could see these results as being inevitable. Anyone... That's why the health care bill was and continues to be so incredibly unpopular. None of this a surprise.

The only hope for keeping private health care available to all but the wealthiest and politically connected in the U.S., is a repeal of the law. That's it. There is no other real solution. This is a crisis created without need or cause by Obama, Pelosi, Reid, and the Congressional Democrats.

Lots of credit to Pat Austin at So it Goes in Shreveport... and Clifton B at Another Black Conservative for posting about this story.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Jerry Brown Said What? Seriously?


Jerry Brown, California's Democrat gubernatorial candidate, compared his Republican opponent Meg Whitman to Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels. He also said that Whitman was outspending him and in two months Brown would be portrayed as "a child-molesting..." This is not a joke... at least not on my end.


"Brown boasted about his legendary frugality. "I've only spent $200,000 so far. I have 20 million in the bank. I'm saving up for her." It's true - his stay-on-the-sidelines, bare-bones primary run cost him almost nothing, at least in California political terms. But he also fretted about the impact of all those eBay dollars in Whitman's very deep pockets. "You know, by the time she's done with me, two months from now, I'll be a child-molesting..." He let the line trail off. "She'll have people believing whatever she wants about me." Then he went off on a riff I didn't expect.

"'It's like Goebbels,' referring to Hitler's notorious Minister of Propaganda. 'Goebbels invented this kind of propaganda. He took control of the whole world. She wants to be president. That's her ambition, the first woman president. That's what this is all about.'

"I pointed out that most politicians want to be president someday. Gavin Newsom, for example. 'Sure, sure he does. But they can't control it. Look at Barack Obama, he got in and it's all out of his control. I wanted to be president. I ran for president three times, you know.'"

Oh, Jerry... I'm too young to remember him being governor, but I've heard the stories and I remember at least one of his runs for the presidency. If there was a choice between Alvin Greene and Jerry Brown for any office, I'm honestly not sure who I'd pick.

Later Brown's camp had this to say (also from Sovern's blog):

"Jerry Brown's campaign spokesman, Sterling Clifford, confirms to the Associated Press that the conversation took place, describing it as 'a discussion after a chance meeting while they were exercising. I wouldn't vouch for the accuracy of it, but I also don't want to dispute the accuracy of it. It was jogging talk taken out of context.' He says Brown was not comparing the Whitman campaign to Nazis.

"UPDATE: Friday afternoon, Jerry Brown issued the following statement: 'I regret making the comments. They were taken out of context.'"

You know between Whitman vs. Brown and Boxer (need anymore be said about this woman?) vs. Fiorina (she who is responsible for the demon sheep ad), California's political races are going to be awfully entertaining. Is it any wonder that California is currently circling down the giant toilet bowl right now? Oh, and I lived in SoCal for 33 years, have I mentioned that?

Democratic Nominee Alvin Greene-- Shouldn't a Reality Show Be in the Works?


We all know about Alvin Greene, the mega-surprise Democratic Senatorial nominee from South Carolina. He's 32, currently collecting unemployment, lives with his parents (following 13 years of military service in the Air Force and Army which ended with an honorable but involuntary discharge), has a background devoid of any political activities (as far as anyone can tell), and has pending felony charges stemming from allegedly showing a 19-year-old college student pornographic images on a computer. And his own Congressional Representative, Jim Clyburn, has called for an investigation claiming that Greene may be a GOP plant. Greene categorically denies this charge.

After watching these videos of a couple of Greene's interviews, my wife made the comment that she smells a reality show right around the corner. I say she's right. Can one really be that far away?

Possible titles for the show from my wife: "The Pursuit of Greene," "Going Greene," or "Red, White, and Greene"-- that last title referencing Clyburn's GOP plant accusation, I suppose.

Any others?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Is this for Real? US to Push for UN Investigation Against Israel

I'm not sure whether to believe this, but the Weekly Standard (via Drudge Report) is reporting that Obama will push for a UN investigation into the Israeli response to the flotilla incident.

From the brief blog entry by William Kristol:

"THE WEEKLY STANDARD has learned that senior Obama administration officials have been telling foreign governments that the administration intends to support an effort next week at the United Nations to set up an independent commission, under UN auspices, to investigate Israel's behavior in the Gaza flotilla incident. The White House has apparently shrugged off concerns from elsewhere in the U.S. government that a) this is an extraordinary singling out of Israel, since all kinds of much worse incidents happen around the world without spurring UN investigations; b) that the investigation will be one-sided, focusing entirely on Israeli behavior and not on Turkey or on Hamas; and c) that this sets a terrible precedent for outside investigations of incidents involving U.S. troops or intelligence operatives as we conduct our own war on terror."

If this is true, this would be a massive blow to Israel. For the Obama administration to expect the UN (anybody remember the Durbin Conference?) to fairly investigate this incident is beyond idiotic.

Obama continues to push away our allies in favor of our enemies, and if this is true, this would the biggest push yet against Israel. This is absolutely shameful behavior, and continues to make the world a more dangerous place.

UPDATE: It turns out that Jacobson over at Legal Insurrection also has a skeptical entry about this story.

The White House is denying Kritol's claim. However, there's a few loopholes in their denial as Jennifer Rubin points out (both links via Legal Insurrection).

Rubin writes:

"As expected, the administration is denying the report — sort of. The response is telling, and not only for its gratuitous nastiness. First, the administration plainly thinks it’s achieved a grand success by toning down the UN resolution and downgrading it to a statement. And it lets on that, once again, some 'compromise' is under consideration. Moreover, it only denies that the UN will not debate the resolution “next week.”

"What is missing is any determination to rule out an international investigation. Indeed, it advances the notion that an Israeli investigation would not be 'credible.' No mention is made of, and there seems to be no interest in, investigating Turkey or the terrorists."

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Britain Fires Back at Obama's Rhetoric



"Mayor Boris Johnson demanded an end to “anti-British rhetoric, buck-passing and name-calling” after days of scathing criticism directed at BP by the President and other US politicians.
Former Conservative Party chairman Lord Tebbit branded Mr Obama's conduct 'despicable'. And with the dispute threatening to escalate into a diplomatic row, Mr Johnson also appeared to suggest that David Cameron should step in to defend BP.

"He spoke as the US onslaught against the firm became a 'matter of national concern' — especially given its importance to British pensions, which lost much of their value today as BP shares plunged to a 13-year low.

"Asked on BBC Radio 4's Today whether he thought the Prime Minister should intervene, Mr Johnson said: 'Well I do think there is something slightly worrying about the anti-British rhetoric that seems to be permeating from America. Yes I suppose that's right.'

"'I would like to see cool heads and a bit of calm reflection about how to deal with this problem rather than endlessly buck-passing and name-calling.'

"'When you consider the huge exposure of British pension funds to BP and its share price, and the vital importance of BP, then I do think it starts to become a matter of national concern if a great UK company is being continually beaten up on the international airwaves.'

"'OK, it has presided over a catastrophic accident which it is trying to remedy but ultimately it cannot be faulted because it was an accident that took place. BP, I think is paying a very, very heavy price indeed.'"

If the British are mad now, wait until Obama attempts to seize British Petroleum's assets under the advise of economic guru Rosie O'Donnell. Disclaimer: this last line was an attempt at humor.


UPDATE: More calls for BP seizures-- this time from former Labor Secretary and Leftist political echo-man Robert Reich and the MSM.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Interracial Marriages on the Rise in U.S.

CNN is citing a Pew poll showing that interracial marriages are on the rise within the United States. (h/t Volokh Conspiracy)

From the article by Stephanie Chen:

"Asian. White. Black. Hispanic. Do race and ethnicity matter when it comes to marriage?

"Apparently, race is mattering less these days, say researchers at the Pew Research Center, who report that nearly one out of seven new marriages in the U.S. is interracial or interethnic. The report released Friday, which interviewed couples married for less than a year, found racial lines are blurring as more people choose to marry outside their race.

"'From what we can tell, this is the highest [percentage of interracial marriage] it has ever been,' said Jeffrey Passel, a senior demographer for the Pew Research Center.

"He said interracial marriages have soared since the 1980s. About 6.8 percent of newly married couples reported marrying outside their race or ethnicity in 1980. That figure jumped to about 14.6 percent in the Pew report released this week, which surveyed newlyweds in 2008."

I love that opening line... because, as we all know, there's only five races in the US: Asian, White, Black, Hispanic, and Other. Forget those Chinese-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Irish-Americans, Italian-Americans, Jewish Americans, Argentinian-Americans... they're all just a part of one big arbitrary skin color.

The article continues:

"[S]tudies show that support for interracial marriages is stronger than in the past, especially among the Millennial generation. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, about 85 percent accept interracial marriages, according to a Pew study published in February. Scholars say interracial marriages are important to examine because they can be a barometer for race relations and cultural assimilation.

[...]

"The African-American population also saw increases in interracial marriage, with the number of blacks participating in such marriages roughly tripling since 1980, the study said. About 16 percent of African-Americans overall are in an interracial marriage, but researchers point out a gender difference: It's more common for black men to marry outside of their race than for black women.

"The gender difference was the reverse in the Asian population surveyed. Twice as many newlywed Asian women, about 40 percent, were married outside their race, compared with Asian men, at about 20 percent."

While the article was generally positive though banal, I found this snippet rather amusing.

"Yagan [Sam Yagan founder of OkCupid.com an internet dating site] attributes the increase in interracial relationships to the Internet, which makes it easier to connect with someone of a different race. People who live in a community where race is an issue can meet someone of another race more privately, than say, instead of having to start their relationship in a public setting.

"'You don't have to worry about what your friends are going to think,' he said. 'You can build the early parts of the relationship.'"

Hmm... so even though interracial marriages are at an all time high in the US, and apparently rising, we're to believe that a significant percentage of these are from people meeting secretly online because of their "community where race is an issue?" I think that when these two people have their wedding announcement, the community's going to figure it out...

I know what the article meant, but it seems overly romantic (not to mention ridiculous) to attribute the rise of interracial marriages to people covertly chatting online within some community straight out of the movie "Footloose." I mean, Chen cites the stat that 85% of 18-29 year-olds approve of mixed marriages and then arbitrarily throws that in at the end? Interesting.

Being involved in a mixed-marriage myself, I see the story itself as encouraging. However, if you really want to depress yourself read through the comments of the CNN article. Like cinematic zombies rising up out of the graveyards, White Supremacists lumber out of isolation to spout their nonsense-- like the guaranteed extinction of blond, blue-eyed women in the near future, a common obsession of White Supremest groups. It's important to remember that one loud-mouthed commenter speaks only for himself and not an entire segment of a population.

Some have tried to spin college educations being directly responsible for the upswing of interracial marriages. "'If I'm a college graduate, I am going to marry another graduate,' Cherlin [Andrew Cherlin, professor of public policy and sociology at Johns Hopkins University] said. 'It's of secondary importance if that person is my race.'"

While college education may be a factor in a roundabout way, it seems more likely that simple exposure to people of varying races results in higher rates of interracial marriages. This is hardly unusual and can be seen time and again throughout history. When two groups intermingle freely, they intermarry as well. This is a matter of historical record going back as far (if not further) as Ancient Egypt as the Ethiopians intermarried with the Lower Kingdom Egyptians following Egypt's political weakening at the end of the Bronze Age. Racially diverse colleges intermingle people from different local communities, states, countries. It is hardly surprising that college students show higher incidents of interracial marriage-- and probably has very little to do with the education itself as Cherlin states.

It just seems interesting to me that interracial marriages are on the rise, even as MSNBC et al. are claiming the growing tide of racism-- as witnessed by any criticism of Obama. The missing examples of overt racism, along with these sort of studies, say otherwise.

Results of Pew Study here.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

More International Fallout from Obama's Weakness

Yesterday I put up a post about the Japanese Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, announcing his resignation. I think that his resignation illustrates a problem America's allies are now facing as Obama preaches an end to unilateral decisions and extends an "open hand" to America's avowed enemies.

While it is true that Hatoyama is closely associated with a political fundraising scandal-- in which two of Hatoyama's aides were somewhat recently convicted of falsifying political contribution reports-- Hatoyama's failure to relocate the major US military base off of Okinawa was a major factor leading to his early resignation.

Aside from the normal bother of living near a foreign military base (can you imagine Americans living beside a German or Russian military base in California? Maybe in San Francisco?), many Japanese look at the US base as a symbol of American dominance following WWII. As Japan grows more powerful and WWII becomes a rapidly fading memory, there has been a growing disenchantment among the Japanese with American troops being stationed in Japan. This shouldn't be much of a surprise. The US has invested vast amounts of money and resources into helping Japan to not merely rebuild, but to flourish. And as Japan has become a greater and greater power in Asia, the Japanese have begun to question American military presence.

This should not be confused as a growing anti-Americanism (although there may be some of that in certain circles-- notably [but not exclusively] among fringe, conservative Japanese circles which occasionally demand an American apology for the fire-bombing of Tokyo, and the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki). Instead, it's more of a logical result of growing, a product of a sort-of maturation, if you will. A Japanese Naval officer once said, that the Japanese Navy and American Navy used to have a father/son relationship, but now the relationship is more like that of a big brother and little brother. There isn't any anti-Americanism in that statement, but rather a pride at the progress of the Japanese Navy. Likewise, Japan as a whole has gone through a similar process.

What is interesting, and what many Americans do not understand because of media disinterest, is the tremendous pressure and political fallout from North Korea's torpedoing of the Cheonan, a South Korean warship. This attack has placed pretty intense pressure on Japan and South Korea where popular and vocal groups want to divest themselves of American military presence, while the governments' understand that their own military forces are ill-equipped to handle major engagements without US support.

This, among other reasons, is why Obama's apology tour and his audacious show of weakness and lack of resolution is devastating to America's allies, like Japan. Obviously his actions and conciliatory words embolden states like North Korea and Iran. Less obvious, is the effect that we are currently seeing in Japan. While the citizens of many of America's allies aren't particularly happy about a US military presence, they were generally willing to put up with it for the safety and reassurance that the US military offers.
When Obama suddenly declares that America to no longer a super-power and promises to work closely with the UN rather than make quick decisions (in other words unilateral) away from the UN's stifling and often ridiculous politics (remember Iran is a member of the UN's women's rights council), he is essentially declaring that the US military now offers little to no protection to its allies. The US will now not act without the world's approval. This of course brings up the question "why should the US military be here if they offer us nothing?"

While the truth of the situation goes far beyond Obama's silly words (we all know what Obama's declarations are worth) and this simplistic if-a-then-b equation, Obama's silly words and that overly simplified idea possesses a great deal of political weight. That political weight falls heavily onto the backs of allied heads of state as they explain to upset constituents why they should tolerate unpopular military bases of a country that now says they're now just a part of the world community. What protection does that offer them? What reassurances do they gain?

I've written about this result before back in April of 2009. Would North Korea have torpedoed the Cheonan if McCain were president? Most likely. Would Hatoyama have resigned if McCain had been president under these same circumstances? Of course. Yet, I would argue that all these pressures these governments feel are intensified by Obama's arrogant declarations of weakness.


I'd written:

"While denouncing American arrogance and running about the world greenly apologizing for it, Obama is, in fact, repeatedly demonstrating his own egoism. But he is also espousing American inaction, making the basis of our reactions the far-Left's transient and self-absorbed sense of moral right.

[...]

"Obama's incessant apologizing speaks of America's insincerity more than anything else. Obama's not apologizing for himself (has he ever?), he's apologizing for the mistakes of others. While his narcissism allows him to offer condolences for America, it likewise allows him to shoulder none of it. Most people of the world understand that what Obama is actually offering nothing but conciliatory words devoid of any action. They also recognize the opportunities that exist for aggressive governments when the world's sole superpower is run on the basis of a 'white guilt' derivative rather than statecraft.

"Yet, Obama's apologies do more than embolden our enemies, they dishearten our allies. Israel, already under fire from the U.N., now sees the US as shrinking away from them. Although the US did not attend Durban II, Obama refused to meet with Israeli PM Netanyahu, an act that has understandably raised concerns in Israel. I also tend to agree with Jacobson's assertion that a 'leaked' highly classified Harman tape was a political 'shot across Israel's bow.' Even overlooking these, and more (see Caroline Glick's series of essays for more) gestures of political antagonism, Obama's apologies are in effect saying that the US will be incredibly unresponsive to all threats to all of our allies as the US debates the political correctness of a given individual situation. After all, we wouldn't want to have to make more apologies, would we?

"This does not sit well for Colombia, threatened by Chavez. Nor does this sit well for Japan or South Korea routinely menaced by Kim Jong-il. This does not sit well for Singapore, a few years ago the target of an Al Qaeda-backed plot to overthrow the government. This does not sit well for Thailand, having battled Islamic separatists for years they now are facing forces reinvigorated by Al Qaeda. This does not sit well with the Philippines, fighting Al Qaeda before most Americans had ever heard the name. This does not sit well in Taiwan, routinely menaced by mainland China's navy and air force. This does not sit well with the Liberians, trying to carve together a government (again) after the country's most recent and brutal civil war. Obama's apologies don't make them feel better.

"But of course it is not supposed to. It's intended to make Obama and the American Left feel better. Who cares about how our allies feel?"

It's more than a year later, and I find no need to take back these words.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Japan's Prime Minister Resigning


Yukio Hatoyama, Japan's Prime Minister, has announced that he will resign.


"Embattled Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said Wednesday he was resigning over his broken campaign promise to move a U.S. Marine base off the southern island of Okinawa.

[...]

"Until Tuesday night, Hatoyama insisted he would stay on while intermittently holding talks with key members of his Democratic Party of Japan. But on Wednesday morning, after eight months in office, Hatoyama faced the nation to say he was stepping down.

[...]

"Hatoyama, 63, cited two main reasons for his resignation: the Futenma issue, which led to the dismissal of one of his Cabinet members who could not accept his decision, and a political funding scandal. In that incident, two of his aides were convicted of falsifying political contribution reports and sentenced to suspended prison terms. Hatoyama himself did not face charges in the case, but it tainted his image.

[...]

"Hatoyama had promised to forge a 'more equal' relationship with the United States and to move Futenma off Okinawa, which hosts more than half the 47,000 U.S. troops in Japan under a security pact.

"But last week, he said he would go along with the 2006 agreement to move the base to a northern part of the island, infuriating residents who want it off Okinawa entirely.

"Hatoyama said Wednesday that recent tensions in the Korean peninsula surrounding the sinking of a South Korean warship reminded him of the potential instability in Northeast Asia and drove home the importance of the U.S.-Japan security pact.

"'There was no choice but to keep the base on Okinawa,' he said.

[...]

"His three-way coalition was cut to two members over the weekend when a junior partner, the Social Democrats, withdrew after the prime minister expelled its leader Mizuho Fukushima, who rejected the Futenma decision, from the Cabinet."

Mentioned at the very end of the article is this little tidbit: "Hatoyama, the grandson of a prime minister who earned a Ph.D in engineering at Stanford University, was sometimes viewed as aloof and eccentric by the Japanese public, earning him the nickname 'alien.'"

I only posted about Hatoyama once in his brief eight-month tenure as Prime Minister, and that was about his kooky wife who believed, among other rather odd things, that she had been abducted by a UFO and visited Venus and knew Tom Cruise in a former incarnation- when he was Japanese. My post was also technically before Hatoyama became Prime Minister, but well...