December 30, 2010

Good News! China's Defense Minister Says They Are Preparing For, "Military Conflict In Every Strategic Direction"
— DrewM

Boy good thing we are facing any peer level competitors and could afford to scrap F-22 production since it was "waste" and "outdated".

Seems not everyone got the message that it is now all about unicorns (and domestic programs) and not defense.

"In the coming five years, our military will push forward preparations for military conflict in every strategic direction," said Liang Guanglie in an interview published by several state-backed newspapers in China. "We may be living in peaceful times, but we can never forget war, never send the horses south or put the bayonets and guns away," Mr Liang added.

China repeatedly says it is planning a "peaceful rise" but the recent pace and scale of its military modernisation has alarmed many of its neighbours in the Asia-Pacific, including Japan which described China's military build-up as a "global concern" this month.

Mr Liang's remarks come at a time of increasingly difficult relations between the Chinese and US armed forces which a three-day visit by his counterpart Robert Gates is intended to address.

And yet we expect them to be helpful with Iran and North Korea. Yeah, good luck with that.

Now, the Chinese Defense Minister may or may not be a big player in their power structure but the fact that he's making this kind of bellicose statement with the North Korea situation boiling up again and Gates about show up for a visit shows China's leadership wants to send a message.

Statecraft isn't simply about going to war, it also involves making your adversaries think you might to influence their decision making, create opportunities to extract concessions and a whole host of other things.

What's our response going to be?

The story was via "Galrahn" who runs the indispensable Navy-centric blog "Information Dissemination".

He also has an interesting piece up now at the US Naval Institute's blog on the Top 5 Navy stories of the year.

Check out the whole list but Number 5 is recent and it's big....

#5 – Russia Buys Mistral Amphibious Ships from France.

There is already a lot of complaining coming from NATO nations with the recent Christmas surprise that France will sell Mistral class amphibious ships to Russia. While it is absolutely true the Mistral class is a dynamic ship capable of supporting several peacetime missions for Russia, it is the capabilities of waging war that has Russia’s neighbors nervous. From the US perspective, promises that Russia will be utilizing the ships in the Pacific is hardly better news considering that means the ships will be primarily for demonstrating Russian resolve in territorial disputes with Japan. It could be worse, Russia could base the ships in the Black Sea and give Georgia plenty of reasons to be nervous. No matter how one looks at it, the Mistral class is a weapon of war well designed towards Russian strengths (like attack helicopters) and Russian requirements for power projection, and does represent a major transfer of knowledge and capability from a NATO friend to a former enemy. The dynamics of the deal itself are tailor made for political firebranding.

How's that reset thing working out again?

Never mind, we got the START deal done so it's all good.

Posted by: DrewM at 11:48 AM | Comments (63)
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Eesh: Details of Life Inside Hefner's Playboy Mansion Make It Almost Seem Like an 84-Year-Old Satyr Is Paying Young Girls To Live As Hookers In a Run-Down Sleazy Brothel
— Ace

I mean, I'm kidding; of course that's what it is, and has always been.

Still, the details of the thing give it life. It's all pretty shabby.

‘Everything in the Mansion felt old and stale, and Archie the house dog would regularly relieve himself on the hallway curtains, adding a powerful whiff of urine to the general scent of decay.’

Many girls, it seems, endured these living conditions for the chance of becoming a centrefold in Playboy magazine — an invaluable career boost for any glamour model.

Others admitted that they stayed only for the cosmetic surgery to which Hefner treated them as a birthday presents, keeping a running account with a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon.

Legendary lover: Hugh Hefner has a reputation for the high life, yet it seems many of his former 'girlfriends' have become disenchanted with life in the harem

But St James — with big university debts — was more interested in the weekly pocket money which Hefner paid all his girlfriends. ‘Every Friday morning we had to go to Hef’s room, wait while he picked up all the dog poo off the carpet — and then ask for our allowance: a thousand dollars counted out in crisp hundred-dollar bills from a safe in one of his bookcases,’ she says.

‘We all hated this process. Hef would always use the occasion to bring up anything he wasn’t happy about in the relationship. Most of the complaints were about the lack of harmony among the girlfriends — or your lack of sexual participation in the “parties” he held in his bedroom.

‘If we’d been out of town for any reason and missed one of the official “going out” nights [When Hefner liked to parade his girls at nightclubs] he wouldn’t want to give us the allowance. He used it as a weapon.’

Girls living at the house have a strict curfew -- they have to be in early at night (except for two official going-out nights), I guess to tend to Hef, or his other guests.

It's worth a read. Even if you don't think you're interested, you may wind up being interested. Not in a good way.

Posted by: Ace at 09:52 AM | Comments (229)
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Mike Bloomberg, Fair Weather Friend of the First Amendment
— Ace

When Bloomberg agitates for the Ground Zero Mosque, he cites the spirit of the First Amendment. Freedom of religion and all that.

But he seems to forget other parts of the First Amendment, like the explicit part about the state being forbidden to establish (or even further, as Court decisions have said) a religion.

Because his his government has been working hard, secretly, to push this mosque and therefore the Muslim religion.

In fact, it turns out that Team Bloomberg was heavily involved in operating the political machinery needed to ensure that various regulatory agencies approved the controversial project -- which has rightly drawn the ire of many 9/11 survivors and victims' families.

Daisy Khan

Even to the point of pressing Community Board 1 to cast an approving vote -- so that the chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission could be given the "political cover" he so urgently sought before his agency denied landmark status to the existing building.

That not only raises First Amendment questions -- it also provides serious doubts about the legitimacy of the LPC vote, which appears to have been dictated far more by politics than by any consideration of the building's architectural and historical merit.

Bloomberg's community affairs commissioner even ghost-wrote a letter to CB1 on behalf of Daisy Khan, wife of mosque promoter Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. Meanwhile, officials intervened to obtain permits so that prayers could be conducted at the site.

More at the link; Bloomberg has been very slow in responding to FOIA requests for these documents, and many he won't turn over, citing privileged communication.

Thanks to rdbrewer.

Posted by: Ace at 08:33 AM | Comments (95)
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Israel Finds Huge Natural Gas Deposit Off Its Shore
— DrewM

Game changer?

On Wednesday, the frenzy got fresh fuel: Noble confirmed its earlier estimates that the field contains 16 trillion cubic feet of gas—making it the world's biggest deepwater gas find in a decade, with enough reserves to supply Israel's gas needs for 100 years.

It's still early days, and getting all that gas out of the seabed may be more difficult than it seems today. But Noble and its partners think the field could hold enough gas to transform Israel, a country precariously dependent on others for energy, into a net-energy exporter.

I'm guessing energy starved countries in Europe and around the world are suddenly going to have a new found respect for their favorite whipping boy. It's one thing to beat up a relatively poor country with nothing you need, it's quite another to deal with an increasingly prosperous country that exports a vital commodity. Ask the various Gulf states how they'd be treated if they weren't sitting on so much Black Gold.

As Eli Lake imagined it on Twitter (where I first saw this):

Dear Europe, Stop trying our officials in absentia and maybe we'll give u better prices than Gazprom. Yours, Israel

Naturally, no good thing is ever cost free. The usual suspects are using this to stir up trouble.

Despite these problems, Israel's gas find is making waves abroad. Lebanon has staked out its own claim to offshore gas. In August, lawmakers in Beirut rushed the country's first oil-exploration law through its normally snarled parliament.

Lebanon's oil minister, Gebran Bassil, an ally of the Shiite militant group Hezbollah, said in late October that his ministry hopes to start auctioning off exploration rights by 2012.

Iran, Israel's arch-nemesis and Hezbollah's chief backer, has also weighed in. Tehran's ambassador to Lebanon, Qazanfar Roknabadi, last month claimed that three-quarters of the Leviathan field actually belongs to Lebanon.

Mr. Landau, the Israeli infrastructure minister, denied the claim and warned Lebanon that Israel wouldn't hesitate to use force to protect its mineral rights.

No doubt the Obama administration is hard at work trying to figure out how to force Israel into not only a freeze on settlement construction but also an off-shore drilling moratorium.

It's going to be awhile before they can start exploiting this find but it seems a new and large variable has been added to the complex Mideast equation.

Posted by: DrewM at 08:30 AM | Comments (56)
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New York Unions Just Might Have Staged a Deliberate Slow-Down In Snow-Clearing To Send a Message
— Ace

And that message? We need you to fire us as soon as possible and start with a new batch of fresh, cheaper employees who understand how they got their jobs in the first place (that is, by the last batch being fired wholesale).

The country's more in the mood to take on public-employee unions than it has been since, who knows, Calvin Coolidge, and this is what they pull? Not smart. There are tens of thousands of unemployed people who'd love to have these jobs.

Time for a bloodletting? Oh definitely. But I always think that.

Why the NY Post is calling the whistleblowers "snitches" is beyond me. But it's always been a sort of blue-collar paper. I guess they feel they're supposed to call anyone who calls out union misbehavior a "snitch."

These garbage men really stink.

Selfish Sanitation Department bosses from the snow-slammed outer boroughs ordered their drivers to snarl the blizzard cleanup to protest budget cuts -- a disastrous move that turned streets into a minefield for emergency-services vehicles, The Post has learned.

Miles of roads stretching from as north as Whitestone, Queens, to the south shore of Staten Island still remained treacherously unplowed last night because of the shameless job action, several sources and a city lawmaker said, which was over a raft of demotions, attrition and budget cuts.

"They sent a message to the rest of the city that these particular labor issues are more important," said City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Queens), who was visited yesterday by a group of guilt-ridden sanitation workers who confessed the shameless plot.

Halloran said he met with three plow workers from the Sanitation Department -- and two Department of Transportation supervisors who were on loan -- at his office after he was flooded with irate calls from constituents.

The snitches "didn't want to be identified because they were afraid of retaliation," Halloran said. "They were told [by supervisors] to take off routes [and] not do the plowing of some of the major arteries in a timely manner. They were told to make the mayor pay for the layoffs, the reductions in rank for the supervisors, shrinking the rolls of the rank-and-file."

New York's Strongest used a variety of tactics to drag out the plowing process -- and pad overtime checks -- which included keeping plows slightly higher than the roadways and skipping over streets along their routes, the sources said.

The snow-removal snitches said they were told to keep their plows off most streets and to wait for orders before attacking the accumulating piles of snow.

From Ed Morrissey, who says he's skeptical because it's a Councilman (Republican) claiming he was told this; the story does aid him, since he's being blamed by constituents for the mess, and public union employees are always a nice scapegoat for Team Red.

But... I believe it. Sounds good to me!

More: Hm, not sure why Ed is skeptical. Reading on, I see the NYPost has verified the story, mostly, from independent sources in the sanitation department:

But multiple Sanitation Department sources told The Post yesterday that angry plow drivers have only been clearing streets assigned to them even if that means they have to drive through snowed-in roads with their plows raised.

And they are keeping their plow blades unusually high, making it necessary for them to have to run extra passes, adding time and extra pay.

One mechanic said some drivers are purposely smashing plows and salt spreaders to further stall the cleanup effort.

Commenters note that a newborn baby died due to a late ambulance, slowed by the snow.

Posted by: Ace at 07:29 AM | Comments (146)
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Feds Investigate Christine O'Donnell's Use of Campaign Funds Based on Complaint from Soros-Funded CREW; O'Donnell Denies, Claiming All Expenses Were Legitimate
— Ace

I've been hard on Christine O'Donnell, but I'm going to guess nothing comes of this, except for the embarrassment factor. Campaign funds can't be used for personal expenses, I guess, but I also know that a candidate running for office has a lot of campaign-related expenses which have a personal nature. Like eating on the road. So the exception is so huge as to swallow the rule.

If O'Donnell could legally pay herself a salary from campaign funds (which, I understand, she could), she could use campaign funds for many expenses of her daily life. And she's been "campaigning" for office for a long time, so I can't figure out how they're going to separate her truly personal, non-campaign expenditures from legal campaign expenditures that just so happen to involve candidate upkeep.

The embarrassment factor, though, comes in because most people expect candidates to have sufficient gainful employment to have their personal situation squared away, and campaign donations are usually used just for campaign-related staff and ad buys and the like. O'Donnell seems to have used at least some of her campaign funds (even if legally) for her personal upkeep, which sort of stresses the chief knock on her: She didn't seem to have any real gainful employment except for running for office.

I'm going to link the AP story about the investigation, an ABCNews report filed today about her denial on GMA, and then a pro-O'Donnell website's claim about the "half the rent" charge, which is probably part of the investigation.


Defeated Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell, who ran for vice president Joe Biden's former Senate seat, is reportedly under federal investigation for using campaign funds for personal expenses, the Associated Press reports.

The criminal probe is being conducted by two federal prosecutors and two FBI agents, an anonymous source told the AP. The matter has not yet been referred to a grand jury.

Spokespersons with the FBI in Washington and the Delaware Attorney General's office declined to comment.

But O'Donnell campaign spokesman Matt Moran told ABC News the wire report was the first he had heard of an alleged investigation.

"The anonymous source seems politically-motivated and may well be tied to the ultra-liberal, George Soros-financed, former Sen. Biden staffer-run CREW [Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington] complaint," Moran said.

The left-leaning watchdog group filed complaints with the Delaware U.S. Attorney's office and Federal Election Commission in September alleging the Republican candidate misused campaign funds.

"Left-leaning." A bit of an understatement but thanks for at least that.


"There's been no impermissible use of campaign funds whatsoever," O'Donnell told "Good Morning America" today. "You have to look at this whole thug politic tactic for what it is. ... I'm confident that we will be cleared of any charges.

"You don't need a tipster to show that this was politically motivated. We were informed that the Delaware political establishment was going to use every resource available to them, including launching phony investigations ... tying me up with lawsuits to make sure I can't move forward politically," she said. "I even expect more things to come, that's their tactic."

On the rent allegation, I got an email from what seems to be a very pro-O'Donnell website. Here's what they claim on the rent issue:

Christine O'Donnell's campaign reported that her U.S. Senate campaign paid "half the rent" on the condominium townhouse that Christine lived in in Wilmington, Delaware.

So imagine my surprise, when I visited my friend Christine after the election at the famous townhouse condo. Er, condos -- there are two of them!

We should have expected the Delaware news media and national news media to be completely incompetent in mis-reporting this information.

The reason the O'Donnell campaign paid "half" the rent is because 1 of 2 townhouses is 100% dedicated to office space and the other townhouse is living space. There were and are TWO (2) completely different townhouses.

But both condos were contracted through the same realtor in one single contract.

So "half" the rent pays for ONE (1) of the TWO (2) completely different townhouses.

Assuming that's true, it's hard for me to see how someone could prove a violation of law. What, she used the office space a little too much for personal reasons? I doubt there's any sort of metric to determine what "too much" is. I have a feeling most "misuse of campaign donations" charges will be similarly hampered.

That website also stresses that the source of the charges against O'Donnell comes from a single person, apparently linking to CREW.

More: This WaPo article on the investigation is more detailed than the AP one.

One former O'Donnell staffer, Kristin Murray, recorded an automated phone call for the Delaware Republican Party just before the primary, accusing O'Donnell of "living on campaign donations - using them for rent and personal expenses, while leaving her workers unpaid and piling up thousands in debt."

Another former aide, David Keegan, said he became concerned about O'Donnell's 2008 campaign finances as she fell behind on bills and had no apparent source of income besides political contributions. He submitted an affidavit to CREW alleging that she used campaign money to cover meals, gas, a bowling outing, and rent to a landlord, Brent Vasher.

Vasher, a nephew of Keegan's and a one-time boyfriend of O'Donnell, declined comment when asked by The AP if he had been contacted by authorities. Vasher bought O'Donnell's house in 2008 after she was served with a foreclosure notice, then charged her rent to stay there, according to CREW's complaint.

Meals, gas, and rent, I think, will all wind up being legal uses of campaign funds (if all i's are dotted and t's crossed). The bowling outing seems more personal, but the moment there's anyone political there at all, bingo, it's a campaign expense, same as a businessman taking his friend/potential client out to dinner writes that off as a business expense.

That's my guess, at least.

Headline Corrected: I initially misread the pro-O'Donnell Delaware News website and thought it claimed that her accusers were not in a position to level charges against her. But I misread; they're not sure they're the people feeding information to CREW, and further, I also misread in that one of them clearly is in such a position (he served as "interim treasurer" for O'Donnell for a spell). So I've deleted the part of the headline that said her accusers didn't have the information with which to even make charges; that's just wrong, and due to a misreading.

Posted by: Ace at 07:05 AM | Comments (237)
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Ezra Klein: The Constitution is Hard to Understand Because It's Old or Something
— Dave in Texas

It's old man.

Conservatives (thanks in large part to the Tea Party movement) have promoted awareness of the Constitution to the American people, natural rights, limited governmental power. Nora (accept the pudding! oh you will accept the pudding Nora) calls this "lip service". So the MFM must try to marginalize it. Klein must have skimmed over the part about "effective techniques" in the talking points memo, and instead chose the brainy approach, "nobody can understand what it means because it's "over 100 years old".

Really? That's it, it's inscrutable because it's over 100 years old? Thank goodness our betters are super-smart so they can tell us what it really means.

Here's something else that's more than 100 years old.

"If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself."

- James Madison, Federalist #51

Very difficult to understand, so old. The Constitution defines the role of government, and places constraints upon its power. I may have to read that again, there's lots of more than 100 year old words in it.

Memo to Ezra "the Constitution is Too Damn Old" Klein: before the new Republican members of the House of Representatives read the Constitution in the 112th Congress, they're going to swear an oath to uphold and defend it.

It's not a gimmick.

via Slublog

Posted by: Dave in Texas at 06:25 AM | Comments (119)
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WaPo Op-Ed: Don't Let ROTC On Ivy League Campuses And Oh Yeah...American Soldiers Are The Same As The Taliban
— DrewM

Some guy named Colman McCarthy, who "directs the Center for Teaching Peace in Washington and teaches courses on nonviolence at four area universities and two high schools", crams so much stupid into this 800 word piece it has to be a record.

A taste.

Will the Ivies have the courage for such stands? I'm doubtful. Only one of the eight Ivy League schools - Cornell - offers a degree in peace studies. Their pride in running programs in women's studies, black studies, and gay and lesbian studies is well-founded, but schools have small claims to greatness so long as the study of peace is not equal to the other departments when it comes to size and funding.

At Notre Dame, on that 1989 visit and several following, I learned that the ROTC academics were laughably weak. They were softie courses. The many students I interviewed were candid about their reasons for signing up: free tuition and monthly stipends, plus the guarantee of a job in the military after college. With some exceptions, they were mainly from families that couldn't afford ever-rising college tabs.

In this guy's universe, peace, "women's studies, black studies, and gay and lesbian studies" are important elements of a university's offering but ROTC classes are academically soft.

Okay, let's do a little compare and contrast.

Here's the Army ROTC curriculum at Sienna College, a small Catholic School in upstate NY. ROTC is not something you major in (there are only 8 classes and none are full 3 credit courses). ROTC is an add on to a student's regular course work that is specifically designed to get them ready to enter the Army after graduation. It's not a separate academic discipline, nor does this class list reflect the additional summer and post-graduate training students receive.

Now let's pick a few classes offered in "Women's and Gender Studies" at Columbia that McCarthy seems so fond of.

WMST BC3123y Women and Art 3 pts. Discussion of the methods necessary to analyze visual images of women in their historical, racial, and class contexts, and to understand the status of women as producers, patrons, and audiences of art and architecture.

WMST BC3130y Discourses of Desire: Introduction To Gay and Lesbian Studies 3 pts. Who or what constitutes the subject of gay and lesbian studies? Explores historical, methodological, and epistemological crisis points of essentialism/constructionism; sexuality across cultures; gender versus sexuality; bisexuality and the binary regimes of hetero/homo and male/female; community; identity; the politics of liberation; the place of feminism in les/bi/gay studies.

WMST BC3132x Gendered Controversies: Women's Bodies and Global Conflicts 4 pts. A seminar investigating the significance of social, political, and cultural conflict centered on issues concerning women's lives.

WMST BC3134y Unheard Voices: African Women's Literature 4 pts. Themes include the politics of the canon in Africa, the problems of language, postcolonial counter-discourse, the African-American continuum, and Third World and Western feminism. Readings include novels, short stories, poetry, and drama by Elora Nwapa, Buchi Emecheta, Nawal El Saadawi, Miriam Tlali, Bessie Head, Molara Ogundipe-Leslie, Ama Ata Aidoo, and Tess Onwueme.

Let's see...which class do you think has higher standards, one taught by Army officers or the expert in charge of this class?

CSER W3918x Transnational Transgender Social Formations: Political Economies and Health Disparaties 4 pts. This course contextualizes contemporary transgender identities and communities within global social formations. Contemporary transgender social formations in South America, Central America, South Asia, and East Asia will be examined along with indigenous transgender communities in North America and Western Europe. Discussions of transgender social formations will be framed by historical, political, and economic contexts, and how transnational flows of global capital have impacted transgender identities. There will also be comparative analyses between transgender social formations and other sexual mintority communities and between transgender communities from various geographies. Particular attention will also be paid to health disparities among transgender communities, especially in relation to HIV/STI and mental health vulnerabilities. Health disparities will be seen as a manifestation of transgender stigma, social marginalization, and racial stratifications (that often lead to survival sex work) that affect many transgender communities globally. The class will end with an examination of the construction of whiteness and how transgender identities have been normalized as "white" in the West.

The world would do just fine if no one ever studied 'transgender issues". It would be noticeably less well off without the American military and the young men and women who serve in it.

Oh McCarthy doesn't want you to think he doesn't appreciate and admire those who serve in the military, he thinks they are swell...just like those who serve in the Taliban.

To oppose ROTC, as I have since my college days in the 1960s, when my school enticed too many of my classmates into joining, is not to be anti-soldier. I admire those who join armies, whether America's or the Taliban's: for their discipline, for their loyalty to their buddies and to their principles, for their sacrifices to be away from home. In recent years, I've had several Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans in my college classes. If only the peace movement were as populated by people of such resolve and daring.

Maybe this super genius should go to Afghanistan or Pakistan and talk to some members of the Taliban about their views of Women's or Gay and Lesbian Studies (or even just women studying and whether or not gays and Lesbians should be allowed to live). I'm sure he'd come away impressed with their loyalty to their cause, if he came away at all.

Added: I have a somewhat related proposal, expand Junior ROTC programs into more high schools across the country.

I've never served in the military but I did spend three years in my school's Navy Junior ROTC program. That experience gave me an introduction to the military, its history and most importantly, a lifelong appreciation for those who did go on to serve.

It was much more of an old fashioned civics course that had long since gone out of favor by the time I was in HS in the mid 80s.

There will always be idiots like McCarthy but expanding JROTC programs will not only lead to more people opting to serve in the military but it will give far more people at least a cursory introduction and appreciation for the institutions and people that keep this country safe.

Posted by: DrewM at 06:00 AM | Comments (199)
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CPAC: It's Not a Schism; Social Cons Still Attending
— Gabriel Malor

I hate to do another CPAC post for the second day in a row, but instead of doing another "Year in Review" post last night, I played Civ5 and watched the OK State game. So you're getting this instead.

One thing overlooked by some, but not everyone, is that while the groups boycotting CPAC this year are socially conservative, not all socially conservative groups are boycotting CPAC. A glance at the list of participating organizations reveals many are involved, including:

The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property
Americans United for Life
Conservative Party USA
Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute
Christians United for Israel
David Horowitz Freedom Center
Let Freedom Ring
Prison Fellowship

In short, social conservatives are still welcomed at CPAC. Though the Left is gleefully snickering about a conservative crack-up (when are they not?), as usual, reality looks nothing like their claims.

The other thing I want to repeat from yesterday (because I keep seeing this places): Family Research Council did not "pull out" or "quit" CPAC over GOProud, notwithstanding its protestations to WND that it has been involved "for a decade." It hasn't been involved in CPAC for a few years and, in fact, now operates a rival conference, the Values Voters Summit. Though I'm certain FRC genuinely opposes GOProud's participation at CPAC or any other conservative event, FRC wasn't going to participate this year anyway. FRC's role in the boycott appears simply to be to draw groups away from its major competitor.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 03:05 AM | Comments (181)
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Top Headline Comments 12-30-10
— Gabriel Malor

Dear me, our postilion has been struck by lightning.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 02:02 AM | Comments (160)
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December 29, 2010

CAC's Late Night Art Thread (All-Moron Art edition)

Well in the last thread I announced I will be doing a 10 part series on 10 works every moron should know. I am daytripping to LACMA with the lady to actually shoot some video for you morons- a rare shot of my fat ass explaining art. Since that is taking longer than expected, its an ALL-MORON edition this week.

As always, if you paint, sculpt, shoot, draw, assemble, or otherwise dabble in the visual arts, shoot a JPEG with Title, your AoS handle, dimensions, medium, dimensions and year HERE to see it on AoS and to have your fellow morons praise/laugh at you.
Several of the submissions I have received are actually from what I would call at least locally established artists (many of them lurkers here), which got me to thinking... of all the famous dead artists, if they were alive today, who might we find lurking or posting here?

Anyway, onto the Morons: more...

Posted by: CAC at 06:54 PM | Comments (35)
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Gunny Hartman Is NOT A Fan Of Barack Obama
— DrewM

You can watch the whole intro but the fun starts about 1:40 in. Sadly, there's no cursing.

Thanks to just about everyone on Twitter where this is all over the place.

Posted by: DrewM at 05:25 PM | Comments (130)
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Overnight Thread-Stunt Blogger Edition [CDR M]
— Open Blogger

Evening Moron Nation and Happy Hump Day! How you all doin'? I got pressed into duty as Maet is now in Thailand trying to rescue Genghis from the Thai Tranny Pimp that Genghis ran afoul of last weekend. Some people never learn to tip their "waitress" appropriately.

I'm thinking of adding a Man Cave (I'll call it The CDR's Loft) to my house. I'm thinking this is a must have accessory. Guess I'll have to get an iPhone when Verizon finally gets it next year.


Posted by: Open Blogger at 04:15 PM | Comments (672)
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Bill Richardson Tackles The Pressing Question Of Whether Or Not To Pardon Billy the Kid
— Ace

Yes, that Billy the Kid. The one killed by Pat Garrett in 1881.

The fat, grope-y governor who may be under consideration for Secretary of State (or not) is a Billy the Kid buff (they have so much in common, one with the rustlin' and shootin', the other with the gorgin' and gropin'), so he's spending his last few days of office considering a pardon for a dead man.

The article, though, is sorta neat, if you like Old West stuff. Pat Garrett's family is trying to protect Garrett's status as Good Guy, so they're the principle lobbyists against a pardon.

On the other side of things is Emilio Estavez. I'd imagine.

Posted by: Ace at 01:05 PM | Comments (209)
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More Science (That They Forgot To Mention): Conservatives' Brains Linked To Having More Friends, Bigger Social Networks
— Ace

That's the other thing associated with large amygdalas.

I guess it must have slipped their minds. (The man is... nefarious.)

Remember, this is Science, not some childish attempt at tribal points-scoring or self-flattery. Of course Science would mention such things; failing to do so must be due to oversight only.

Hide the decline &c.

Thanks to rdbrewer.

Posted by: Ace at 12:51 PM | Comments (61)
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Conservatives' Brains Big On Fear, Low On Courage, Study Says
— Ace

I didn't even see this one when I posted the other one. So here's more science.

A study at University College London in the UK has found that conservatives' brains have larger amygdalas than the brains of liberals. Amygdalas are responsible for fear and other "primitive" emotions. At the same time, conservatives' brains were also found to have a smaller anterior cingulate -- the part of the brain responsible for courage and optimism.

If the study is confirmed, it could give us the first medical explanation for why conservatives tend to be more receptive to threats of terrorism, for example, than liberals. And it may help to explain why conservatives like to plan based on the worst-case scenario, while liberals tend towards rosier outlooks.

Note how that last bit is put -- conservatives plan responsibly for the future, whereas liberals live for the moment and wind up living on others -- the ant and the grasshopper-- but rather than put it that way, they say that conservatives fear "worst-case scenarios" and liberals, eternal optimists, "tend towards rosier outlooks."

Oh, that stuff about "courage"? Um, yeah. Ask the troops.

Oh but I'm sure they are defining "courage" differently -- by "courage," they mean, in all likelihood, a willingness to sample other cultures. Not physical courage, of course.

Because, seriously? Yeah.

I Called It: This isn't 100% proof, but when I said they were probably using the word "courage" in the non-definitional manner of meaning "openness to new ideas"?

Yeah, based on this, I'm thinking that's the meaning of "courage" to a liberal.

The results, which will be published next year, back up a study that showed that some people were born with a "Liberal Gene" that makes people more likely to seek out less conventional political views.

The gene, a neurotransmitter in the brain called DRD4, could even be stimulated by the novelty value of radical opinions, claimed the researchers at the University of California.

If you're keeping track, socialism is now a 160 year old novelty of an idea.

Posted by: Ace at 11:44 AM | Comments (344)
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Second in Command at GOP: "We Live In a New World;" Republican Senators Should Be Ready For Primary Challengers
— Ace

The new, and welcome, normal.

CNN: How concerned are you to primary challenges to Republican incumbents up for re-election in 2012. Two that come to mind right off the bat are Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana and Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah

Jesmer: "Generally speaking, we live in a new world and Sen. Cornyn's been very clear on this: People need to be prepared for a primary challenge. I think both Senators Lugar and Hatch are aware of the world we live in and are working hard to state their case to Republican primary voters and general election voters."

CNN: Does the NRSC try to clear the field of divisive primaries, as could happen in Missouri, or Connecticut, where former Rep. Rob Simmons, who made a bid for the GOP Senate nomination this year, is already criticizing your committee in advance of a possible run again in 2012. How active does the NRSC get in trying to keep the peace on the Republican side?

Jesmer: I think it's up to individual candidates to make their case to primary voters and primary voters will decide their nominees. But we'll still be active on recruitment, like we always are, but I don't think it will be any different that it was last time. Primary voters will make up their minds and we'll support the nominee.

Recently Snarlin' Arlen Specter -- long known as the nastiest man in a the senate, an accolade he won year after year in bipartisan polls of DC staffers -- ended his political life with whimper, not a bang, in lamenting the passing of "civility." Defined, apparently, as life tenure for sitting senators.

Specter whined about losing the Senate where both parties seemed to be interested in finding compromise, and RINO's had a comfy home.
"That conduct was beyond contemplation in the Senate I joined 30 years ago," Specter said. "Collegiality can obviously not be maintained when negotiating with someone simultaneously out to defeat you, especially within your own party."

"Civility is a state of mind," Specter said. "It reflects respect for your opponents and for the institutions you serve together." Political polarization, he said, will make civility in the upcoming Congress "more difficult [but] more necessary than ever."

Similar bleats were made about poor Dick Lugar having to make a primary stand. Why has Dick Lugar been singled out for the most horrific treatment in the history of man?, some "centrist" type wondered.

There are two parts of our special form of self-rule: the Democratic part and the Republic part. True, we elect officials to make decisions on our behalf (that's the Republic part) but they do so with consent of the governed and knowing they either must vote the way their constituents prefer or face the wrath of the voters. That's the Democratic part. All those pining for some sort of Philosopher-Kings perfectly insulated from public opinion, those whining about how unjust a Democratic Republic can be for including some Democracy, seem to think the nation is just a Republic, or, perhaps, some other form of government. An aristocracy, perhaps, where the Common Folks are governed by their Social and Cultural Betters.

That won't do. That entire attitude needs to go.

First of all, it's not true that when we elect Senators or anyone else we are giving them a term-limited Divine Right to rule us only as their judgment and conscience see fit. We've never conceived of these posts in that manner. We've long had public assemblies and insisted upon our right to write to, and maybe hear back from, our representatives. We've never fully conceded all governing authority to them -- the very idea of petitioning representatives and meeting in town halls to give them some lip is completely at odds with the idea that once they're in office they're entirely free to vote however they like without our input. Town halls and assemblies are expressly a way to give them our input -- and we expect them to listen.

We never have lived in this Golden Age where we just took the wisdom of Senators as gospel without challenging it. Never. That wouldn't even be America. In what kind of America do we just decide that Person X is our superior in all ways and so we should defer to him in all things? That's so non-American I can't imagine how a Senator could think of the country in that manner.

We elect our representatives to exercise our will. Period. Yes, we let them make all sorts of decisions on things that are highly technical or which we care little about. The day to day functioning of government, the details of taxation and spending.

But the fact that we cede, temporarily, and qualifiedly, power to representatives to vote as their judgment suggests on the little things does not mean we've given up the right to exercise our right, as citizens in a democracy, to demand our wishes be obeyed on the big things, the things we've bothered to learn about and form an opinion about.

Specter, Lugar, and the rest of the Imperial Senators seem to think that we Americans have delegated our thinking to them, all of it, as if we were the Betas and Deltas in Brave New World, an intellectually-stunted sub-species, and they are the Double Plus Alphas, an intellectually-enhanced overlord species.

This isn't even the sort of thing that rankles because deep in our hearts we suspect it's true -- that is, it's not the case that we recoil from this because we recognize the horrific truth contained within it. Quite the opposite -- it rankles because most of us suspect that the usual attributes of a successful politician are a bland personality, a desperate need for validation, and a low regard for honesty and personal ethics. "High intellect" is definitely not one of the aspects of your typical elected official, and in fact probably tends to hurt a candidate.

Quick -- off the top of your head, name all the top-flight scientists, engineers, and mathematicians who've become successful politicians.

So: We have an entire class of mediocre-minded people -- not dummies, exactly, but at that just right level of mediocre intelligence that's not too low to perform at a job that requires some reading but isn't too high to come off as threatening or dangerous -- who've decided that they're so smart they get to do all of our thinking on our behalf, whether we ask them for this service or not.

Or even if we vocally object to it.

And these, you know, are the guys who then lecture to us about "civility" and What Democracy Is All About.

Posted by: Ace at 11:12 AM | Comments (209)
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CNN Poll: Plurality of Public Thinks Obama's Policies Will Fail; Fewer People Are Even Hoping He Succeeds
— Ace

Four words: We hope he fails?

Not really "we" because 61% of the public says they want Obama's policies to succeed; but that's down a big 10% since the December before last.

President Barack Obama enters the new year with a growing number of Americans pessimistic about his policies and a growing number rooting for him to fail, according to a new national poll.

But a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday also indicates that while a majority of the public says Republican control of the House of Representatives is good for the country, only one in four say the GOP will do a better job running things than the Democrats did when they controlled the chamber.

Sixty-one percent of people questioned in the poll say they hope the president's policies will succeed.

"That's a fairly robust number but it's down 10 points since last December," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Twelve months ago a majority of the public said that they thought Obama's policies would succeed; now that number has dropped to 44 percent, with a plurality predicting that his policies will likely fail."

Only 44% think his policies will succeed. That's something, I guess.

Posted by: Ace at 10:39 AM | Comments (79)
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FYI: The US Spends More On Each Student K-12 Than Any Other Country, Except Switzerland
— Ace

Which doesn't translate into better performance.

This is a whoopsie post. I meant this and the last one for the sidebar, but I posted them here, so I'll make them into mini posts.

Posted by: Ace at 10:26 AM | Comments (116)
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Sorta Neat Vid
— Ace

The world looks different from the tip of a sword.

Kind of makes the swords look like those stupid giant anime blades.

This was supposed to be a sidebar entry but I accidentally posted it here, so I'm making a post out of it.

Posted by: Ace at 10:08 AM | Comments (48)
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