Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Top Ten Predictions Revisited

Well here we are! Our 44th President has been re-elected. A second term notwithstanding, now is a good a time to revisit my top "Top Ten Predictions for Obama’s First Term", published on November 5, 2008.

10. The Hip House
Kind of a hit, kind of miss.  Yes, young people are more engaged and "follow" President Obama. Big deal though, as they follow is his social calendar - his interviews on Kimmel, NCAA tournament picks, that sort of stuff.  Young Americans still can't explain the veto process.

9. The dis-armed forces
I was wrong.  Military spending has remained pretty flat in the last 4 years.  What has changed is where the money is being spent.  Less on large martial campaigns for sure. More on covert ops (which begs the question, how did the spending remain the same?).  I'm curious to find out though, what was meant by "more flexibility after the election".  We'll find out though, no doubt.

8. Baby love
Bullseye! I just didn't go far enough when I predicted "entry level" socialized medicine. We have ObamaCare!  Yes, everyone will be covered, but the level of care will necessarily go down - logic demands no less. Finally, the cost of health care has gone up, not down as promised. (sad face).

7. America!  What a Country!
I couldn't have been more wrong. Internationally, America is not viewed in a better light.  We're still Americans, just not as bold. Our enemies see our unclenched fist as weakness.  Our allies are left wondering who's in charge.  The White House actually used the term "lead from behind".  You can't make this stuff up.

6. Roe v. Wade through 2040
Can I extend this prediction through 2044?  Sotomayor and Kagan are just the beginning.  I'll predict at least 2 more progressive 50-something justices in the next 4 years.

5. Yo, bra' Man!  No More Excuses!
I guess I should have read Alinsky's chapter on demonization of the rich, the new boogie man (it's no longer the white man).  The bottom line is that African-Americans will forever have someone to blame. Ignore the evidence of the last 40 years, including a so-called middle class mixed-race kid with a funny name ascending to the highest office in the land. 

4. Same deal, different century
Back then, I said, "let’s take an inventory of what 'rights' people think we should have – now, and again in 2012".  Well, let's do it:

  • 2008 - abortion. 2012 - free contraception
  • 2008 - temporary unemployment benefits. 2012 - unbounded assistance 
  • 2008 - medicaid. 2012 - ObamaCare
  • 2008 - education. 2012 - a free cell phones (as communication is a right)
I could go on, but you get the point.

3. Will work for food (stamps)
How prophetic.  I'll allow interested readers to look up the number of Americans on food stamps, then and now.  

2. Kilo-what!
The reality of our time is that fossil fuels run the planet.  Wind and solar are too expensive, and they can't be made competitive by executive fiat.  We're in for even higher energy prices in the next 4 years.  It'll hurt the poor the most, increasing their dependence on government.  Sense a pattern here?

1. The check is in the mail
Did I nail this one or what?  What's true for personal finance is true for federal budgets.  If you don't even have a goal, you'll never reach it.  Did they ever even pass a budget?  What Obama called Bush "unpatriotic" for, he doubled, and in less time.  I cite the national debt clock.  If you're interested, look it up - see where we are now, and where we were in 2008.  SMH.

I'll conclude by restating my belief that we're headed for European style socialism with European style results. The rich will be poorer, but so will everyone else, particularly the poor, and they can't afford it.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Excuse me, Rev. Sharpton...

An open letter to Rev. Al Sharpton

Dear Rev. Sharpton,

I'd like to start by noting that I'm not very comfortable taking this tone with my elders. My reverence for your civil rights era contributions makes this even harder to pen. But I'm compelled to go forward.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream is based on equality - the equality of men, one to another. It is not, and never was, a dream of equal outcomes.

You recently noted that Dr. King's dream was, "... not to get one black family into the White House, but instead, to make sure that everyone's house has the same stuff". Apologies for paraphrasing - I couldn't find the video or direct quotation. I trust though, that I've accurately captured the gist of your statement.

Reverend Sharpton, Dr. King's dream is based on a principle. Principles are incontrovertible. They are timeless and recognize no borders. Your dream, sir, is based on an ideal. Ideals are fanciful. They are contemporary. They can vary greatly, even among logical and reasonable men.

I ask you sir, to revere and honor Dr. King and his dream by preserving it. If it's about "stop and frisk" policies, evoke his dream. When it comes to the size of my TV as compared to yours, leave it alone.

In closing, I'll acknowledge the fact that you were there, and I was not. Perhaps I'm mistaken. If I am, I invite you or anyone reading this post to correct me. Let me know if, and in what manner Dr. King promoted social justice. I'll apologize set the record straight, even live on your show:)


The Conservative Brother

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Facts Are in the Headlines, Right?

I'm tired, and frustrated. There seems to be no end to the number of bed wetting liberals accusing the Tea Party of being a bunch of racists. Furthermore, without any evidence.

So what happens next? They need evidence, of course! So a group of researchers at the University of Washington conduct a study. They ask Tea Party members questions that are ideologically biased. They publish the results. And then, on queue, Newsweek runs a headline, New Poll Finds Tea Partiers Have More Racist Attitudes. And finally, a visitor to my blog posts a link to the article, as if to say, "See! I told you so!"

Subsequent comments are addressed to the collective "you"; lemmings on the left that can't read beyond a headline or think one or two steps beyond the sound bites:

Did you even look at the questions in the study? What would you expect Tea Party members to say? A group that is known to favor liberty and individual responsibility?
"It’s really a matter of some people not trying hard enough; if blacks would only try harder they could be just as well off as whites."
Of course Tea Party members agree. But agreeing with this statement does not make one a racist.

I remember a conversation that my father had in 1978 with some fellow members of the African Students Association at West Virginia University. I was seven years old. I remember them discussing the fact that as immigrants, they had to work harder than Americans (and particularly white Americans) in order to succeed. Were these men a bunch of self-deprecating niggers? Shiftless and lazy blacks that "knew" they were inferior to whites? If your answer is no, then how can you accuse Tea Party members for being racists if they take the same position?

FACT: African-Americans generally start in a position of disadvantage, as compared to their white counterparts.

It does not take a rocket scientist (or a racist) to see that an African-American has a longer row to hoe.

If the researchers intentions were aimed at the truth, they'd propose a statement like this:
"Blacks are in their social position because they're genetically inferior to whites."
But why ask that question? Well, perhaps because they'd find out that hard core lefties are in fact, openly and unashamedly the real racists. And here's some REAL evidence:

P.S. all of those men in that 1978 discussion went on to become extremely successful. God Bless America.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Top Ten Predictions Revisited

January 20th - 2 years in the White House for President Obama. I'll mark the milestone by revisiting my Top Ten Predictions for Obama’s First Term. Here are the updates:

10. The Hip House
It didn't take long for the coolness factor to fade away. I'll concede that more young people are politically engaged, though it be through The Daily Show. Better than total apathy, perhaps.

9. The dis-armed forces
What can I say - I was wrong on this one. He's been down right bellicose. Dare I say, Obama's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech was a justification of the Bush Doctrine. But as a concession for the left, he's come through on his Iraq pledges. A parsimonious House will cut defense spending over the next two years, though not out of allegiance to an anti-war agenda. The erudite residents of Nob Hill won't be doing cartwheels though - they'd have liked to see the money funneled into windmills and family planning clinics.

8. Baby love
S-chip passed, so I guess I was right. I didn't know how right I'd be though inasmuch as Obama Care passed as well. If you've got a penchant for Social Justice, you've gotta be happy with this one. I mean, who cares how much debt we'll accumulate in the long run... at least we covered everyone, right?

7. America! What a country!
What made Obama think that he could gain international favor through contrition? We appear weaker to our allies and adversaries alike.

6. Roe v. Wade through 2040
If you're pro choice, so far, so good. The appointments of Sotomayor and Kagan are in keeping with Obama's position on Roe v Wade, not to mention a "Constitutional blind spot", and how to address it through the Judiciary.

5. Yo, bra’ Man! No More Excuses!
A racial quiescence imbued the first six months of Obama's presidency, until he weighed in on the Skip Gates Saga. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I'd say he commented specifically to introduce the issue. So much for a post-racial America.

4. Same deal, different century
Ding, ding, ding - I didn't exactly go out on a limb on this one though. It wasn't a secret that Obama wanted to expand entitlement programs. So what's in this New Deal? Perpetual unemployment checks, more food stamps, s-chip, and coming soon, Obama-Care. I was wrong about one thing though - it's actually quite easy to quantify... can you say "deficit spending"?

3. Will work for food (stamps)
Though the economic outlook isn't as bad as it was 2 years ago, the working man works for less, if he works at all. Despite Bush's tax cuts being extended, there's still not a lot of hiring going on out there. It looks like 9% unemployment is the new "normal".

2. Kilo-what!
Filled up lately? It's not a surprise that gas prices are going up. But there's hope... our President will lift additional restrictions on off-shore drilling in time to lower prices before for the 2012 election. Somewhat of a push on this one though. At this point, there's not enough political capital to even bring up Cap & Trade.

1. The check is in the mail
Our national debt grew by an additional three and a half trillion dollars in the past two years. If we keep spending at this rate, we won't have to worry about the impact on our grandchildren, or even our children. The price will be paid within the decade.

So two years in, we're not the "socialist republic" I thought we'd be. Why? Perhaps 235 years in, checks and balances are working. Either that, or our President is not as far to the left as I thought he was. Maybe a little of both. It'll be interesting to see if he moderates in the second half. Ah, politics... you gotta love this stuff.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Things I've Learned

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything to this blog. I’ve resolved to write more in 2011. Having said that, allow me to zero the scale and provide a snapshot of where I am, ideologically speaking that is.

I’ve reaffirmed, learned, and realized that:

1. I believe in American exceptionalism
2. There’s a difference between stupidity and ignorance – the latter can be assuaged
3. Philanthropy is a moral obligation, not a legal one
4. In helping the needy, private sector charities generally do a better job than governments
5. Your rights, as a rule, cannot result in the diminution of mine
6. Politicians lie
7. Morality matters
8. A man’s morals have little to do with his godliness
9. Debt, either personal, corporate, or national, is oppressive
10. Nothing in the Tea Party platform is racist
11. Hypocrites abound
12. North Carolina boasts my favorite state motto – “To be, rather than to seem”
13. Kenya cannot escape poverty without free enterprise and individual liberty
14. Private property is freedom
15. Generally speaking, conservatives are driven by logic, liberals by emotion
16. Nothing is more important to me than my family
17. The U.S. Constitution provided the framework for the abolition of slavery
18. People are too easily offended
19. The poor are afforded representation without taxation
20. Wealth necessarily results in increased consumption
21. Environmental awareness is important
22. The weak or defenseless will be preyed upon
23. Social justice cannot be achieved through confiscation or legislation
24. As a group, African-Americans are politically exploited by the left
25. Fatherhood is an awesome responsibility
26. These topics will define the 21st century - access to affordable energy and religious fundamentalism
27. A flat tax would be fair and equitable
28. Humility is important

I’d love to get your feedback. I can elaborate on any of these at your request. Happy New Year!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

For Right Eyes Only

To every Republican/conservative lawmaker:

Before you accept that invitation to debate the latest topic on a national cable news channel, renounce the "hypocritic oath" that you seem to have taken when we weren't looking. And yes, I did make up a word. On both sides of the aisle, you spew talking points without any regard comments you made last year, last month, or even last week. It's getting old, and I'm sick of it.

On health care: before mentioning tort reform again, be prepared to explain how the Federal government is supposed to foist its will on the state legislatures. Medical malpractice suits are carried out at the state level. We conservatives hold the sovereignty of states so sacred... have an argument for how you'll get around an inconvenient truth in this case.

On social spending: be prepared to justify the flight of billions of dollars on martial campaigns across the globe with no official declaration of war. Though they may be just, your argument for war (and against the advance of socialism) often centers on, "the constitutional authority to do so". The Constitution is not a-la-carte.

On illegal immigration: we often site the rule of law, and its enforcement when discussing what to do with those that entered this country illegally, or overstayed their lawful presence. So I implore you, if the law is good enough for this issue, it should be good enough for the trial of enemy combatants. If it's a military tribunal you want, do so under the very same umbrella of law that you cited previously. Otherwise, be prepared to tell the viewers why some laws related to national security can be ignored, while others must be enforced posthaste.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Science and Politics of Avatar

Let’s mix it up a bit and throw in a movie review. Not your standard movie review though. Here I’ll attempt to satiate the intellectual appetite of my fellow science geeks. In closing, I’ll return to this blog’s theme and address the politics of James Cameron’s record breaking science fiction thriller.

The Science

Kudos to James Cameron’s scientific advisory team for getting so many things right. I watched the movie with a virtual propeller-laden beanie placed firmly on my head, and at almost every turn, I thought to myself, ‘that’s probable’. Great job overall!

Avatar is set on Pandora, an earth-like moon orbiting a gas giant planet somewhere in our interstellar neighborhood. It takes the protagonist a respectable 6 years to reach Pandora. What a refreshingly realistic time frame – Alpha Centauri perhaps?

The astrophysical lighting and shading was always right. Pandora’s sister moons always cast their shadows on the right spot (relative to their sun) of the gas giant parent. It was great to finally see a movie that paid attention to these subtle but important details.

Floating mountains? At first, this was a big miss to me. For a movie that got so many scientific details right, why in the world would Cameron allow things to get so far away from ‘reality’? And then it hit me – not all at once, but in retrospect after I left the theatre. Here’s my take on it:

In a particular scene, the entire night sky was awash in aurora borealis. Inside Fred’s brain… “Hmmm – based on the clear day/night delineation, I don’t think they’re near either pole… there must be some serious magnetic fields on that planet.” And In a separate scene, and another part of Fred’s brain… “Look at all of those rocky arcs coming out the ground. Cool. They’re like geophysical rainbows.” And then… “Field lines! Magnetic field lines! Those rocks are forming along magnetic field lines!”

So, I propose that the floating mountains were doing so because of a significant magnetic force – at least strong enough to balance the force of gravity. Does the math work out? Can magnetic fields actually be strong enough to allow big rocks to float? At this point, I don’t care (and I’m too lazy to crunch the numbers). It was cool enough visually, and important enough to the plot that I’ll accept the likelihood. At least there’s a plausible explanation based on science. Once again, well done, guys.

If one would (correctly) assume that the laws of physics and chemistry that govern evolutionary biology here on earth are present on Pandora, it should come as no surprise that plants on Pandora could grow and form logarithmic spirals. The math is good enough for sea shells, sunflowers, and submarine hunting here on earth - it must be good enough for life on another planet. A nice touch!

The next one is a combined hit and miss. I noticed that almost all of the animals on Pandora had 6 legs (or 6 appendages). This suggests a common evolutionary ancestry – a hit. Well done guys. How then does one explain the very humanoid, 4 limbed appearance of the Navi people on Pandora? Why not at least give the Navi small, unusable T-Rex arms just under their pits? I guess you can’t have it all… I guess Cameron needed us movie-goers to identify with the Navi as ‘people’. If they were too alien, this would’ve been harder. I did at least notice one subtle difference in their anatomy – the Navi had only 3 fingers and an opposable thumb (we obviously have 4).

Pollen eating horses? Big pollen eating horses? Not that I have a problem with pollen eating horses. It’s just that their size suggests a need to consume a lot of calories. Okay, maybe the pollen on Pandora is like cooking oil, but let’s not have our cake and eat it too - if you’re going to assume similar evolutionary hallmarks and an earth-like biosphere, you’ve gotta at least take the big parts with you.

The Politics

Surprise, Surprise - an anti-corporation, anti-military movie from Hollywood. I don’t know much about James Cameron, but based on Avatar’s plot, I’m going to take a guess that he’d rather hang out with Michael Moore than Pat Buchanan.

In Avatar, a large corporation (RDA) is behind the strip mining and exploitation of a distant planet for a presumably rare mineral called Unobtainium. The stuff is worth 20 million a kilo. No mention of Euros, Dollars, Shillings, or whatever, but we can assume that 20 million a kilo at least affords a profit margin greater than the rate of inflation (do we take time dilation into account when calculating inflation for products mined so far away:)

For sure, RDA’s corporate suits were demonized. They cared nothing about the indigenous Navi people. The only thing that mattered was “the cheddar”. Oh how simple and easy it is to get at the evil rich. But let’s lay down our pitch forks and torches for a second and ask the question that Cameron conveniently avoids - what’s up with this Unobtainium stuff anyway? Is it a critical ingredient in a cure for Cancer? In an ironic twist, does it provide earth with a “green”, inexhaustible energy source? We never find out. All we know is that Unobtainium is being mined for a profit, and that’s ‘bad’.

Just like our Exxon, which by the way has helped the United States gain highest standard of living on the planet, RDA is bad. Just like the evil pharmaceutical industry that has provided us with life saving, life improving drugs, RDA is bad. Personally, I’m getting sick of people that benefit GREATLY from record profits in a capital, corporate driven economy, vilifying the very system that has made them zillionaires!

And what about the military? Not only was the lead antagonist a Marine, he was on Pandora for the money. Soldiers that are motivated by profit? Can it get any worse!? Cameron adds cherry on the stereotypical sundae by having one Marine shout “Get some! Get some!” as he shoots the natives. Can his revulsion be any more overt? Ignore the facts. Just sit back in your comfy movie seat, put on those 3D glasses, and forget everything you’ve ever read about our military. Ignore the facts about, say, liberating Europe or saving Haitian earthquake victims. They are for warriors, and since war is bad, they’re bad.