Monthly Archives: January 2009

Tim’s Torture Matrix

President Obama’s executive order calling for the closing of Gitmo has given elements of our political class opportunity to let the world know how much they dislike violence, particularly torture. I say good for them. Violence is bad. So is torture.

In fact I think all sorts of things are terrible. Incarceration is horrible. Handcuffs are horrible. Getting shot is horrible. Nevertheless, under certain circumstances, these horrible things are less horrible than the alternative.

Searching a car is normally unacceptable unless you have probable cause and a warrant. Blowing up a building is normally unacceptable, unless it is reasonably believed to be full of enemy combatants. Shooting a man is normally unacceptable, unless that man is pointing a gun at you.

Following this logic then, there would be a set of circumstances where digging into a human being with a number two pencil might be acceptable if you reasonably believed there was a ticking atom bomb and the dude knew where it was hidden. Continue reading

Peaceful Transfer of Power

At least every eight years, and sometimes after only four, our nation will see one man peacefully hand over the responsibility for being President to another.  While we are not the only nation on earth to do so, we are certainly the most consistent.

Dispite my lack of faith in the incoming Current Occupant (to twit Garrison Kellior) it is a beautiful thing to see the most powerful man in the world pretty much just pack up his sh*t, hand the keys over to the next guy, and motor off into the sunset.

President Bush, unlike some former presidents, will not be a thorn in Obama’s side, holding forth on how he would have handled it and giving the new President heartburn.  This sort of behavior is what most disgusts me about President Clinton and Carter.  Both these men cold expect Reagan and George H.W. Bush to stay out of their hair, but were unable to muster the same class and courtesy.

Being President is hard business.  George Bush has aged more than eight yeas, it seems to me.  He is entitled to a clear conscience from what I can tell, his mistakes were not of malice or a lack of concern.  Nevertheless the brow is heavy for the man who carries the weight of decisions that effect so many.

I think it is a beautiful thing that a man can show up in Washington D.C. on the appointed day, pretty much just unpack his sh*t and start running the country.  Unlike the new Junior Senator from Illinois, Obama won’t have a bunch of Democrats telling him he can’t be seated because his election was “tainted” by unsavory associations no matter how many he has.  He won the election, and I doubt that outgoing GOP staffers will be prying all the “O”s from office equipment keyboards.  Obama does not have to have a reserve of thugs ready to “take to the streets” so he can have his rightful place in the Oval Office.

Given human history, people give up power with devilish rarity.  Fidel Castro was convinced his whole life that nobody in the whole of Cuba could run things better than he, and he filled prisons with those who said otherwise.  The nations are filled with Princes, Sultans, Kings, Dear Leaders and other power-mad filth whose heads occupy rarefied heights because their jackboots rest on a mountain of oppressed folk.

I don’t care for Obama’ policies, prescriptions or politics, but he was a man not of the manor born and now he will be the most powerful man in the world.  He did not rise on a wave of killers, but through plain old democratic action (with all its contretemps).  Nobody died, nobody is in the hospital, at least not as a matter of course.  In four years or eight, he too will pack up and ride home to Chicago and Democracy will continue on.  May it ever be so.

Farewell President Bush – Can’t Say I’ll Miss You

President Bush will return to Texas next week after handing the keys to the White House over to Barack Obama.  I have been supportive of George Bush for the last eight years, but I am not sorry to see him go. 

Conservative philosophy is in shambles, not because there is a problem with it, but because it’s “brand” has been unjustly tarnished by Bush and the Congressional Republican’s utter incompetence.  For eight years, Democrat Lite has set us on a course for failure, and labeled Conservative.  All pain, no gain.

I’ll spot President Bush his Supreme Court justice appointments, and preventing further deaths of Americans at the hands of terrorists here at home is no small feat.  I think in the long term events in Iraq and Afghanistan will speak well of his legacy and reflect well on America.

Nevertheless, over and over President Bush was kinder to his enemies than he was to his friends.  Immigration amnesty, big government spending, pork projects galore signed into law, Bush was decidedly un-conservative fiscally with the exception of taxes.  President Bush ran up our nation’s charge card like a freshman on his first weekend at college. 

Medicare Part D may well end the business of independent pharmacies as the fools who run myriad dysfunctional agencies begin shackling pharmacists with regulations and tight reimbursements. Soon only huge mail-order houses will be providing critical health care services as they will be the only ones with the clout to fulfill these needs profitably.  Billions upon billions of tax dollars are filling up farm coffers even as food costs go up hurting consumers least able to cope.  Freddie and Fannie are Democrat failures through and through, but Bush refused to stand them up for accounting.  When the Government is finally bankrupt and we get into a real-live economic mess, we can look at Mr. Compassionate Conservative as a usual suspect.

Let me dwell on this for a nonce, as well.  I voted against President Bush in the primaries because he was Democrat Lite, his “Compassionate Conservative” drivel a tacit insult to we who are plain conservative.  Studies demonstrate that we of conservative bent are generous and compassionate with our time and money, we are just not keen on being generous and compassionate with other people’s money, especially money confiscated under pain of law.

I believe Bush is a kind man, not a man with the stomach for ideological fights.  Fair enough, but ideological fights are what a culture needs to set its future course.  Economic freedom and prosperity are measurably imperiled now that the outgoing President has ceded so much territory to the socialists.  Worse, he offered very little against which to clash the fully-blown socialist now taking over the management of our beloved nation.  These failures put people like me who want economic liberty in a deep defensive hole.

President Bush single-handedly and quite blithely, took a wrecking bar to the Republican party as a conservative, fiscally responsible agent in this nation.  I know his heart was in the right place, but its our asses in a sling.

Meditation On Mending

I have a beat up hat.  Khaki in color, it has the emblem of the American Red Cross, a logo as recognizable as anything in the world, save for Coca-Cola.  Composed of fairly sturdy cotton with a nice stiff brim, it features a Velcro closure.  This last is vast improvement over those wretched plastic doo-dads with the holes and the knobs you snap together.  With my giant melon, I always have to mate the last knob on the last hole. I think it makes my head look like someone is trying dress up a pumpkin to look like a trucker.

My hat has fallen on hard times.  I wore it in lieu of a bandanna when working out, so it needed to be washed with the rest of my togs lest it become as fragrant as the south end of a northbound buffalo.  In the wash it became twisted up with other clothing and the Velcro closure tore off.  The hat has been sitting in the laundry room for a week or so, and this morning I decided to do something about it.  

I have no particular affection for it, it is not a memento.  It was free, and I have several other similar hats that would work just as well keeping sweat from my eyes.  I could likely score a half dozen more just like it if I paid attention.  Nevertheless, I broke out a needle and thread, and spent a few minutes repairing the hat.  I have been preternaturally dismayed at how disposable our things have become.  Blowing and throwing a tissue is more sanitary than handkerchiefs, so I am fine with things meant to be used and tossed meeting their appointed fate.  Still, a few stitches in my hat, and it was back in business.  I imagine that more people would patch up little things like this, but who today knows how to sew?

As a teenager, I bought a used backpack.  After a few trips the hip belt was ready to fail.  A new one was more than I could afford.  On an inspiration, I took he belt to a shoemaker.  He was able to sturdy as new for just a few dollars.  I felt very clever, and have been a fan of shoe repair shops ever since. There is a skill in identifying things that can be mended, and yet more skills in mending.  Money spent on a new thing to replace a repairable thing is money that could be put to better use.  It further exacts a cost in the lost opportunity to feel satisfaction in keeping one’s world in order.  Any fool can dispose and buy, it takes wisdom and foresight to repair, to add a rivet, drive a nail or choose the right glue.  Necessity may breed being handy, surely our fathers learned this when money was scarce, but learning to fix a thing has it’s own rewarding virtue even if you can afford a new one.  I hope to pass this on to my grandkids.

How Can This Be?

We were promised the Age of Aquarius when Obamessiah took office. The man hasn’t even been sworn in and the usual suspects are already trashing him in effigy.

For the record, this offends me. I think Obama is going to be a dreadful president because he is not a grown-up, and he is surrounded by non-grown-ups. Nevertheless, he is my President, and that’s my president they are walking on and trashing. It ought to piss us all off.

Workout Week Two

Monday begins my second week working out. Today I weighed myself, and learned that the modest dieting and moderate to heavy exercise has netted me a .012% loss of my total mass. I am quite pleased, though I am realistic about staying on this trajectory. I am packing my lunch, bringing along many small items that I eat every hour or two. I read somewhere that it takes about 100 calories to fire up the digestion engine. Eat three 800 calorie meals, and you expend 300 calories digesting 2400 calories for a net of 2100 calories. Eat six 400 calorie meals and burn 600 calories in processing, for a net of 1800. You can extrapolate for yourself.

I imagine there is a point of diminishing returns, but I do feel that my hunger/satisfaction cycles are not as far apart as they are with fewer, larger meals. I have had a problem with indigestion the last few months, and most of that is under control now that I am not eating the same crap as before. Mind you, I still love crap. I can eat deep fried buffalo-style cookie dough sundaes and love each and every bite, but I’d love to live past 55 without needing either oxygen or a Rascal. Torn between to lovers, as it were.

Try as I might, I was unable to “take it easy” in the weightlifting department. I started with fairly low weight and high repetition, just to get used to the exercises. I did curls, rows, flys and presses with freeweights. I also did a few more thingys on a whatchamacalit, but in either case I thought I had been careful to not overdo it. Not so much. I was OK Thursday after my last set. I was a little sore Friday. On Saturday, I couldn’t have made a snow angel to save my mama’s life. I’m OK now, mostly recovering after Saturday night, which prompts me to ask “What the hell took my body so long to get to work?”.

This last is a real question. As I understand it, muscle pain is caused by tissues being stressed and “torn” which in turn causes inflammation. These inflamed tissues begin pressing against nerves making for the ouch. Cells respond to inflammation by cycling the unwanted wastes to the bloodstream and bringing in repair materials that rebuild the stressed muscles. Over time this cycle of tear and repair creates more and stronger muscles.

I am interested in what takes so long. Are there projects going on that have to be wrapped up? Who the hell decides what to work on and when? Is there a little foreman somewhere who has to be bribed? Undoubtedly someone among my six or so readers knows, and I welcome their input. Until then, I hope the little gland with the clipboard and hardhat gets the football tickets I sent him. If I shred my biceps and pecs again, I want it to be first on the list for repair.

The Un-Democratic Left

I find the idea that the Federal Election Commission will make public your campaign donations repellent. If I want the world to know who I support politically, I will put up a yard sign, affix a bumper sticker or wear a button. It ought to be well known that I am a Christian by my kind deeds and good conduct. The fact that I am a Republican, or support Candidate A over Candidate B or a particular ballot initiative ought to be a private matter unless I choose to make it public.

But Tim, you object, do you want the rich to be able to buy politicians without public accountability? Dude, they already do. No matter how smart John McCain and Russ Feingold think they are, George Soros is that much smarter. If comrade Soros wants to put 10 million clams into screwing with an election, he will. The difference is that comrade Soros can afford to protect himself against those who find his politics repellent. While I know many conservatives who loathe this odious troll, I doubt there are any who would do more to him than a pie in the face. Even that is really not our style.

Not so with the left. The left, for whatever reason, seems to think they are entitled to winning by any means necessary. If they lose, they feel entitled to engage in misbehavior from general boorishness to outright threats, intimidation and anarchy.

Proposition 8 in California is a textbook example of how otherwise decent people are placed into hazard. Prop 8 is a constitutional amendment stating that a legal marriage is between one man and one woman. Without debating the specific merits of the issue, it is clear that a majority of Californians are not yet ready to embrace the left’s view of marriage.

Fair enough, the nation is not yet ready to embrace my view on abortion, either. I don’t like Roe vs. Wade any more than those who support gay marriage like Prop 8 (though to be fair, at least Californians had a chance to vote). While I don’t like Roe vs. Wade, I believe the task before me is to persuade my fellow citizens to ask and expect change from the elected officials. A laborious task, inevitably frustrating, but democracy ought not be mob rule.

The left feels that such long, difficult struggle is beneath them. Instead, they have published this handy map giving the names and locations of people who made donations to get Proposition 8 on the ballot. The existence of this map has but one purpose, and that is to facilitate exacting a price from private citizens for offering their support on an issue where decent people can disagree.

In Barack Obama, the Left has their champion in charge. His support of “Card Check” union organizing shows contempt for democratic processes. We can expect a lot more like this, I fear.

If the left doesn't like you, watch out.

Moral Retardation in Israel/Hamas Fight

I am weary of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. I am weary primarily it reveals the moral retardation of Western society. As a term of art, moral retardation has been rolling around in my skull for a few years. I use it to describe someone who is unable to tell the difference between Guantanamo Bay and Auschwitz. The morally retarded look at George Bush and Adolf Hitler and see little difference. The morally retarded look at the death penalty for convicted murderers as a grave evil that must be stopped, but the death of a third trimester baby as “choice” that must be defended. Morally retarded people stand silent as Hamas militants fire rockets with warheads with the intent of striking Israeli civilian targets, and howl with outrage when Israel inadvertently harms civilians. For this reason I am weary.

Trying to explain is so very trying. If a man starts firing a pistol into a schoolyard, I hope to kiss a duck the cops respond with disproportionate force. I want to see a pile of cops six deep on that guy right now. Expecting Israel to show “restraint” in this situation is stupid and disgusting. It is deeply regrettable that civilians were injured and killed when IDF counter-battery fire, but under any sane moral regime those responsible for the deaths are those who set up mortars in a schoolyard.

The morally retarded don’t think that allowing terrorists to cynically hide behind human shields and reap a PR bonanza for their barbaric cause invites more barbarism. The morally retarded empower these wicked men by refusing to draw a moral difference between the two. The morally retarded let a deported terrorist write a column for the Los Angeles Times.

Israel is a sovereign nation and a liberal society, and by liberal I mean liberal in the sense I would hate to live there what with all the taxes and socialistic regulation and whatnot. Not my nation, so not my problem, but by and large the morally retarded who occupy the commanding heights to the leftist media and leftist academy ought to hold them up as the shining example of what a truly wonderful society ought to be. About the only thing that is conservative about Israel that parallels what passes for conservative here in this nation is not wanting to be butchered, bombed and driven to the sea.

The morally retarded are effectively Anti-Semites. Hamas, and pretty much ever other Arab organization is dedicated to wiping the middle east clear of Jews. A moral retard may have Jewish friends, may like a bagel and a schmear, may like techno-klezzner music like all the other hip people, but if you see a bunch of maniacs screaming death to Israel and you nod and say “I think they have a legitimate grievance” how exactly is your attitude different from a garden variety bigot?

Israel is the only democracy in that who crappy area. They have a right to exist and defend themselves as they see fit, unless you are morally retarded.

Terrorists setting up a mortar next to a school, doing a “shoot and scoot”. Counter-battery fire is the predictable result. Hamas clearly doesn’t care that the school is in grave danger. Dead kids serve their purpose.