They say the truth hurts and Romney said it

Posted September 18th, 2012 in united states by Adrian MacNair

The first rule of politics is you don’t tell the truth. The second rule of politics is you don’t tell the truth. Poor Mitt Romney learned those hard lessons recently when a video unearthed from ancient times (in politics, that would be May, 2012) basically reveals he levelled with a room of Americans by telling them a certain portion of the population is hopelessly useless and will continue to complain regardless of what the government does.

And he’s right. People have been expecting the government, whether it be in the U.S., France, or Greece, to do everything from create jobs out of thin air, to label the nutritional value of water. In other words, a certain portion of the population is irrepressibly irredeemably dependent on somebody else running their lives, and anyone with common sense would say “my job is not to worry about those people.”

Unfortunately, that sort of honesty just doesn’t cut it in today’s world. Nay, friends and 53-percenters, telling people that they’re responsible for their own lives, prosperity and happiness is tantamount to saying tic-tac-toe is an unwinnable stalemate. And I’ll be goddamned if someone doesn’t think one day they’ll lay down three Xs in a box for the big victory.

See, the truth is that there is a vast swath of people who have little imagination, originality, or wherewithal to pull themselves out of a situation they put themselves in, and their best solution to such a problem is to cast a vote for Barack Obama. Hope and change without the need to change? Perfect. Obama.

That sort of attitude is the difference between putting blue helmets behind barbed wire in Rwanda and U.S. Marines in Iraq. On the one hand, you do nothing, watch the carnage unfold behind your wire, and get confused when nothing changes. On the other hand, you do something, it’s painful and horrible and difficult, and in the end there’s something called progress.

Obama has perpetuated and reinforced the worst expectations of government. That it exists solely to fix the problems of the electorate, regardless of how powerless it may be to effect that change. Which means if the voters believe dumping trillions of dollars into make-work projects that go nowhere is going to change anything, then the government is obligated to waste that money doing it.

I love that the new Obama campaign is focusing very little on what sort of accomplishments the administration has made over the past four years, save putting a bullet in Osama bin Laden’s beard. Now, the new movement is less about hope and change and more about patience. And although Obama promised everything but the White House sink to voters in 2008, the truth is that he can’t get it done in four years. He needs eight.

Well, that aint the truth neither, folks. Obama can’t do it in eight. He can’t do it in 28. What he’s doing, the truth now, is blowing money faster than the mint can print the stuff. And the 47-percenters are peachy with it because it isn’t their money anyway. As Romney said, they don’t pay the taxes that Obama’s spending.

Look, I’m not saying Mitt Romney is some kind of Honest Abe, and that every word that drips from his tongue has the holy blessing of Christ Himself. In the war of politics, we all know truth is the first casualty, and Romney’s camp has been busy painting a caricature of Obama that’s as ridiculous as the one the Democrats are scribbling.

But here’s the thing. The last Democrat with any courage whatsoever once famously said, “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” That beautiful quote is now a cliche but it’s no less relevant. Americans need to stop asking the government to be its mom and go back to being its elected assembly of representatives who are responsible for the fiscal security of the United States.

Goddamn it, the truth is that Americans do see themselves as victims. On the anniversary of the iPhone-entitled 99-percenters behind Occupy Wall Street, they’re still blaming the banks, the mortgage companies, the big corporations, the American government, the credit card companies, the oil companies, the illuminati, the Bilderberg Group. Anybody but themselves.

It’s got to stop. But it won’t. Not until somebody like Romney says it has to and makes people understand it and believe it. There was nothing wrong with the Hope and Change message in and of itself. The fallacy was that Hope and Change began and ended with government policy. And that’s a lie nobody can swallow.

Rodney King, the villain who became a victim

Posted June 17th, 2012 in united states by Adrian MacNair

Rodney King is dead at the age of 47, found dead in his swimming pool. The man who sparked the Los Angeles riots of 1992 will likely forever be remembered by the beating he took at the hands of the LAPD, sadly overshadowing a life of wanton reckless behaviour that should be condemned. Instead, King is being remembered as a Rosa Parks of sorts, a victim of a racist society.

“It illuminated the darkness,” said Rev. Jesse Jackson to the CBC on Sunday. “He showed us how ugly and unfair racial profiling is. We have not yet stopped it … blacks remain the weak link in the justice chain.”

King sued the city and won $3.8 million for the incident, perhaps preventing the sort of habitual events which led to his unfortunate confrontation with police on March 3, 1991. Does anybody remember the reason the police pulled the man over in the first place? Probably not.

Rodney King was a convicted felon who robbed $200 from a convenience store in Monterey Park, California, in 1989 and received two years in prison. This was less than two years before his beating at the hands of the LAPD.

On the night of the famous incident, King and two passengers were driving west on Interstate 210 in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles doing about 90 miles (144 km) per hour. King refused to pull over police because he was drunk and was concerned about his parole from the robbery conviction. He then led police through a high-speed chase on the highway and then residential neighbourhoods at speeds ranging from 55 to 80 mph (88 to 128 km/h).

Obviously the events that took place after his arrest cannot be defended, nor the court decision that acquitted the officers who beat him. But lost in the story was the fact that a convicted criminal led police on a high speed chase through residential streets in an attempt to evade capture. When King was tested five hours after the arrest, his blood-alcohol level was found to be just under the legal limit, putting his estimated blood-alcohol level at the time of the beating at 0.19. The legal limit was 0.08.

King’s life story probably ended in the public eye there and then, but his troubles with drinking and driving continued on. In July 1995, he was sentenced to 90 days in jail after being convicted of a hit and run. Then on Aug. 27, 2003, he was arrested again for speeding and running a red light while under the influence of alcohol. He failed to yield to police officers and slammed his vehicle into a house, breaking his pelvis.

King may be remembered for police brutality and racial profiling, but such incidents are hardly limited to black Americans. Police in Fullerton, California, murdered white 37-year-old Kelly Thomas in an unprovoked and brutal attack on July 5, 2011. Unlike Trayvon Martin and Rodney King, the story received limited interest from black political leaders in America because it did nothing to further the cause of victimhood and racism at the hands of white society.

Let’s be clear. King was a victim of a brutal attack, but to call it unprovoked would be unfair. King was certainly not a victim of racism and police brutality simply because of the colour of his skin. He was pulled over by police for speeding dangerously, failing to yield to police, and driving at speeds through residential neighbourhoods that would have killed anyone who accidentally stepped into the street at the wrong moment. It could have been his Carol Berner moment and America would despise the man rather than pity him.

Had the police acted professionally and simply brought him to justice on the night of March 3, 1991, he would simply be another number in the rolls of America’s many citizen failures. A selfish, dangerous menace to the rest of law-abiding society. In a strange way, it may be that the beating changed the course of a life destined to harm others. I suppose we’ll never know.

Time to stop the security stupidity

Posted March 14th, 2012 in united states by Adrian MacNair

There’s an article out today which proclaims the United States is currently mulling over the perfectly acceptable idea of toning down its ridiculous and invasive body searches of geriatric airplane travellers, perhaps coming to the same conclusion the rest of us did over a decade ago. The Muslim terrorist bomber who wants to blow up the airplane is most likely not the 75-year-old fourth generation white woman from Idaho, and you really don’t need to check her prosthesis because she had a mastectomy.

Nor does it make any sense to subject children to the same scrutiny, making them hold their arms at their sides for a quick frisk, or running metal detectors up and down their diapers to detect bombs. Not only is it difficult for a child to rationalize the necessity for that level of close inspection, it’s difficult for the parent to watch this garbage taking place, especially when it’s perfectly clear the traveller is an atheistic software developer from California who likes his suicide bombings in Hollywood Bluray format only.

I’m not even talking about making airport security intelligent here, which is probably an impossible task in a country as vast as the United States and with a security workforce paid as lowly as it is. I’m simply talking about raising the level of security from absolute idiocy to somewhere around dimwitted. Because at the moment it’s a giant waste of everybody’s time searching for the one in 10 million travellers who might be a Muslim terrorist suicide bomber, when it’s much easier to look for the profile of the suicide bomber.

Yes, I know there are plenty of stories of people smuggling drugs and weapons and other assorted banned material onto planes in baby carriers and diapers and prosthetic limbs. I know that. But none of these people are blowing up airplanes in the name of Allah, and the security measures that existed before 9/11 were already catching these people most of the time. The sort of people who smuggle illicit items onto airplanes do so because they’re trying to make money, or have been compelled by somebody to do it. Drug mules don’t typically tend to be very savvy, and sooner or later they get caught anyway.

That isn’t really the point, I think. What we’re talking about here is a multi-billion dollar industry of security theatre based on pissing everybody off for the purposes of ensuring nobody is racially profiled. The problem with this approach is that while it’s fundamentally fair from a individualistic perspective, it doesn’t make a great deal of sense when you look at the demography of terrorism. If you were to do that, you could eliminate 99 per cent of your airline traffic from suspicion based on probability odds alone.

Men are more likely than women to be suicide bombers. It doesn’t mean women aren’t capable of being suicide bombers, and Palestinians have proven this against Israeli soldiers on numerous occasion, but in the circumstances of female suicide bombers on airplanes we’re still waiting for the first one to break the gender barrier. So, bye-bye 50% of the population. No need to check the granny panties of Olga from Russia on her way to visit her grandchildren in Michigan.

On the other hand a Nigerian Islamist named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who attended lecures from a radical cleric in Yemen and was president of the Islamic Society of a London University, should probably warrant closer scrutiny. Especially when his own father made a report to two CIA officers at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, claiming his son is going off the deep end for Allah.

I know that on a certain level it’s got to be frustrating to Muslims to have to be singled out for something they’ve never done. But when you belong to a demographic that commits nearly nine out of every 10 acts of terrorism worldwide, you really ought to lodge the complaint with the radicals within your demographic who are giving you a bad name. I mean, as a white male I certainly understand that from a statistical standpoint I’m probably in the demographic most populated by serial rapists.

As I see it, the people responsible for security haven’t really done anything to find and capture terrorists in airports. All they’ve done is look at the Modus Operandi of former terrorists and screen for the potential of an exact copycat attempt. So that means they’ll check your shoes and your underwear and scan your body in a peeping Tom booth, but they’re no closer to actually finding the elusive Muslim terrorist. And the reason for that is he probably doesn’t exist. At least not in the airports.

The next terrorist attack on American or western soil is not going to be another airplane. They fixed that mistake by installing air marshalls and locking the cockpit. Nobody is going to take down a U.S. passenger plane ever again, unless they remove marshalls and open the cockpit again. Oh, and it would also require the compliance of passengers, who by now realize that Muslim terrorists aren’t messing around and they will crash you into a building if given the chance. Before 9/11 it made more sense to let the terrorist talk to the authorities and have their demands met for a million dollars in a Swiss bank account than to rush the men and possibly end up dead. But the certainty of death when you’re dealing with Islamic terrorists means that most people would sacrifice their physical safety in order to save the lives of everybody on board.

But I’m digressing a bit. The next terrorist attack isn’t going to be a conventional attack, and it’s not going to come from a white, Christian senior citizen with a prosthesis boarding an airplane. It’s going to likely be a bomb planted in a train station or an underground parking lot or a bus station, and it’s more than likely that it will be a high yield bomb generating hundreds or thousands of deaths when it explodes. It’s not really a question of if but when. The inevitability isn’t really in question.

So, why are we still wasting time on placebos and security theatre and convention forms of security. It’s far more likely that a terrorist attack in an airport would be perpetrated by a Muslim worker at the airport than a passenger with a specific purpose and a specific destination. If I could use a pop culture allegory, it reminds me of the Simpsons’ episode when Mr. Burns takes Homer through a series of high tech security barriers in the nuclear power plant, only to find that the most valued room is protected by a screen door falling off its hinges. The airport worker is to airport security what that screen door is to Mr. Burns’ high tech security system.

I’m not really saying anything everybody doesn’t already know. The terrorist security infrastructure in the U.S. and Canada is largely a Wizard of Oz smoke and mirrors contrivance meant to impress and annoy us, and make us feel as though we’re being protected. But I think deep down we all go through the routine realizing it’s not actually protecting anybody, nor is searching 300 million Christians a year to find a Muslim terrorist bomber really an effective use of resources.

I will, however, admit that where the U.S. is highly effective is in counter-terrorism. When they spend money on gathering intelligence, putting together special forces teams, creating surveillance on suspected terror cells, and drone striking the hell out of bad guys in Pakistan, it’s usually money well-spent. The intelligence reports pertaining to Iraq notwithstanding, of course.

If there was some way to take the billions spent on security theatre, which accomplishes nothing, and put it into the behind-the-scenes efforts instead, I’d feel a whole lot better. I mean, if I could walk in the airport and cruise through security because any rational person could ascertain in two shakes of a lamb’s tail that I’m not a Muslim terrorist, whilst being aware that this ease of boarding was buttressed by strong covert intelligence and security reports, I’d be a happier camper.

I wouldn’t have to see people humiliate themselves for the politically correct sake of proving they’re not a Muslim terrorist suicide bomber. I wouldn’t have to take my shoes off and walk in socked feet across cold floors that have been waxed and buffed to have all the traction of a skating rink. And I wouldn’t have to adhere to the absurd rules of not being allowed to bring drinking water – you know the stuff that allows human beings to live – onto an airplane because the bozos working the x-ray machines are concerned I’m strapping on the nitro.

If you can afford to live here you’re not from here

Posted January 22nd, 2012 in Canada, united states by Adrian MacNair

Vancouver can take pride in the fact that it’s now the second most expensive city for housing in the English-speaking world. Guess who’s number one?

Vancouver displaced Sydney as the least-affordable housing market after Hong Kong among large English-speaking cities, as home prices rose faster than incomes, a study of 325 metropolitan areas worldwide showed.

The median home price here is now 10.6 times greater than the median pretax household income. Is it possible there’s a correlation here?

* * *

The UFC website was hacked today over the company’s public support for SOPA and PIPA, the unpopular anti-piracy legislation that went to defeat in Congress last week. The site was down for a few hours and redirected to the hacker’s website which featured a Hitler-type figure and a rap song about Obama.

No idea what the retaliation might be from the UFC, but they have fought hard against piracy of their live pay-per-view events and downloading of their material, as well as removing copyrighted material from YouTube. The internet terrorist organization anonymous has promised reprisals against large social media organizations in the coming days.

* * *

This is how I feel when driving. Every single day.

A reminder that freedom of speech isn’t free

Posted January 7th, 2012 in united states by Adrian MacNair


Photo: Getty Images

This incident probably flew under the radar of most people who aren’t MMA fans, but noted Lightweight UFC fighter Jacob Volkmann recently lost his job teaching high school wrestling for comments he made about Barack Obama following a recent victory against Efrain Escudero at UFC 141.

Volkmann, who runs a chiropractor practice, said the following to UFC commentator Joe Rogan:

“Obama needs a glassectomy. Ask me what a glassectomy is, Joe,” said Volkmann.
Rogan obliged.
“It’s where they remove the belly button and put a piece of glass in there so you can see what you’re doing while your head’s up your ass,” said Volkmann.

This comment has since led to an action taken by his part-time employer. Via Twitter, he announced: “Was put on administrative leave from coaching white bear lake high school wrestling for my joke. Unethical!”

Volkmann has repeatedly picked fights with Barack Obama, originally receiving a visit from the secret service for a joke he made about fighting the president in an MMA match. Following his post-fight joke (which fell flat among the apolitical MMA fans), he said he’d like to “take (Obama) down and submit him. I would make it a very painful submission… a kimura or arm bar – try and rip it.”

Although he’s clearly been provocative in his comments, is it really fair that the high school suspended him? On what basis did they suspend him? Apparently it wasn’t because anyone complained, but because of guilt by association. They didn’t want to be seen endorsing someone who endorses violence against the president.

I think they’re making much ado about nothing. If free speech is a first amendment right, it doesn’t make sense for that right to be limited by targeting a person’s livelihood. And even if we agree that employers have certain rights to prevent an employee from misrepresenting their views, a simple disclaimer from the school stipulating that they don’t endorse or recommend his views should suffice.

Your thoughts?

Keynesian strategy is just “easy money” for politicians

Posted January 3rd, 2012 in united states by Adrian MacNair

Nathan Lewis takes an axe to Keynesian economics in an Al-Jazeera op-ed (of all places) and makes some rather disturbingly cogent points. First, that the term is nothing new or original, and behind the political and academic gobbledegook all it really amounts to is profligate government spending in the face of recession for the sake of appeasing voters by giving them make-work projects involving “digging holes and filling them back up”.

Second, that the result of Keynesianism in the face of every recession is that the values of currencies around the world have steadily declined over the past decade, evidenced by the exchange rate with the most stable commodity: gold. It now takes around five times as many dollars to buy an ounce of gold as it did in the 1990s.

The only shocking thing is how uniformly economists and conservative governments have embraced this nonsense. Or perhaps not so shocking if you look at it from this perspective:

The primary attraction of Keynesianism, I would say, is not its wonderful overall results, but rather, that it provides a good excuse for politicians do to what they wanted to do anyway. Any politician knows that a certain way to increase one’s popularity is to hand out government money. In a recession, politicians are likely worried about their declining popularity, and thus their first instinct is to hand out more money.

See Harper, Stephen.

Not that everybody else isn’t also on board with the previously refuted theory that you can devalue yourself into prosperity. The failure to kickstart the economy in the United States by throwing trillions of dollars around is reminiscent of Germany marching into Russia in winter for a second time. Somebody buy these politicians a history book.

An inconvenient truth for the Occupiers

Posted January 2nd, 2012 in united states by Adrian MacNair

Courtesy the masterful Mark Steyn:

Alas, our somnolent youth are also laboring under the misapprehension that advanced Western societies still have somebody to stick it to. The total combined wealth of the Forbes 400 richest Americans is $1.5 trillion. So, if you confiscated the lot, it would barely cover one Obama debt-ceiling increase. Nevertheless, America’s student princes’ main demand was that someone else should pick up the six-figure tab for their leisurely half-decade varsity of Social Justice studies.

Steyn makes a cute comment about Canada in the piece as well, pointing out that the keystone pipeline delivering Canadian crude from Alberta to Texas is blocked by the president on “no grounds whatsoever except that the very thought of it is an aesthetic affront to the moneyed Sierra Club types who infest his fundraisers.”

To rephrase for Canadian readers: Would it kill you to try saving your country, or province, or municipality?

Where The Government Packs Your Lunch, Indeed

Posted April 12th, 2011 in united states by Adrian MacNair

The nanny state is ever-vigilant in its coercion for a purer life for you and your children. Whether it be mandating what children should learn, how they should think or what they should eat, the nanny state relies upon the fundamental precept that it knows how to raise your child better than you do. Nothing exemplifies this better than the oft-floated theories that table salt should be banned or fast food outlawed. At the college I recently attended the vending machines even have a tri-colour smiley face system for the foods. Happy green for the healthy choices, yellow ambivalent for the moderately healthy choices and, of course, red unhappy for coca cola.

In one Chicago public school the nanny state has been taken to its logical extreme, making it illegal to bring food from home. This is the progression, of course, from such allergenic bans as peanut butter and nuts.

At his public school, Little Village Academy on Chicago’s West Side, students are not allowed to pack lunches from home. Unless they have a medical excuse, they must eat the food served in the cafeteria.

Principal Elsa Carmona said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices.

“Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school,” Carmona said. “It’s about the nutrition and the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It’s milk versus a Coke. But with allergies and any medical issue, of course, we would make an exception.”

When I was a kid I used to eat a bag of chips and drink a can of coca cola every day. As a baby I was a vegetarian. Neither seem to have any present effect on my health.

The problem is that Canada is an even more likely candidate for this sort of nonsense than the United States. With universal single-payer health care there’s a very strong argument to be made that the state is already responsible for our health choices since we’re all collectively responsible for the health of our society. It’s the reasoning behind handing out alcohol to alcoholics and needles to drug addicts, donchaknow.

So I can foresee a Canada where the government packs your lunches, fortified with Vitamin B12 supplements so that no animals have to actually be killed in the production of the food. And since the argument can be made that childhood obesity is straining our medical resources, it’s only logical that the government will step in and feed everybody.

It’s a brave new world, and it’s being run by collectivists.

How’s That Security Theatre Working For You?

Posted February 23rd, 2011 in united states by Adrian MacNair

The CBC is reporting that the U.S.’s vaunted new security apparatus that takes a naked body scan of airport travellers failed to detect an undercover TSA agent who carried a gun through it several times. Which just goes to show that you can spend $7 billion a year on counter-terrorism but the system breaks down at the minimum wage positions.

Here’s my favourite part of the article:

None of the TSA security personnel who failed to spot the handgun in the body scans was disciplined, according to the source cited by NBC.

And a few choice quote from the CBC comments:

The use of airplanes to make terrorist attacks dropped off the map the day the cockpits were locked up. All that has ensued is hysterical, fear-mongering from our “representative” governments.

[...]

In any situation where you have poorly-trained people performing boring, repetitive actions, where the chance of a “hit” or unexpected outcome are extremely low, you will find that the effectiveness and efficiency drop to near zero.

It’s pretty scandalous to find out these quarter-million-dollar machines are still fallible after the “grope-a-thon” of 2010.

An Arizona In Afghanistan Every Day

Posted January 11th, 2011 in Afghanistan, united states by Adrian MacNair

The recent assassination attempt of Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has shocked the North American continent like nothing since the terrorist attacks nearly a decade ago. And rightly so. That sort of prolific violence in America is usually relegated to the drug war or organized crime.

The reaction from media has been predictably voluminous. I don’t mean that in a cynical or disparaging way. The story hits on all points for news interest — timely, significant, proximal, prominent and human interest. The fact a nine-year-old victim was born on 9/11 was one of the more tragic aspects of the affair.

But nearly a world away, this sort of story happens far more frequently. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, political leaders, policemen and tribal elders are targeted and assassinated by the Taliban with little media fanfare in the west.

It’s important that I clarify this isn’t meant to be a scolding of western media’s coverage of Afghan mayhem, though it certainly has its share of shortcomings on that front. I merely want to put into perspective the scope of reality for which an Afghan citizen might consider normalcy.

The truth is that part of the reason it’s been difficult to really keep Afghanistan in the spotlight is that it fails some of the points for newsworthiness listed above. Afghanistan is as far from Canada as can be, taking three days travel by airplane, particularly if the jumping point is the Eastern United States.

Significance and prominence of such events tend to be fairly difficult to judge, given the frequency with which people are killed in Afghanistan. Sadly, a murdered government official over there isn’t very significant in this part of the world.

It’s also no small fact that Afghanistan is a war zone, so our expectation of such events are fairly routine. We’ve become accustomed to reading about large numbers of people being murdered on a daily basis without raising so much as a “what a shame.”

It doesn’t make us heartless. But it does explain why sustaining interest in Afghanistan has been so difficult. Could it be that if the country were as near as the United States that events would have as much resonance as the Arizona murders? It’s certainly plausible.

Though by now everybody is probably aware of a heretofore relatively obscure congresswoman, there are a lot of people who would have no idea who Salman Taseer is. If you’re one of those people, don’t feel bad. He was the Pakistani governor of Punjab, gunned down in a market in Islamabad on Jan. 4.

Canada’s large Sikh community has contributed to the increased awareness of this assassination, but news articles bearing mention of it pale in comparison to the Arizona shootings.

Though the definition of targeted assassination and random suicide bombing seem blurred in the violence of Afghanistan’s troubled southern provinces and Pakistan’s western frontier, the bloodshed has been significantly greater than anything we’re likely to see on this side of the world.

On Christmas day, a suicide bomber murdered 46 people in a United Nations food center in the Bajaur region of Pakistan. On Nov. 11 while people in the west were remembering the fallen of past wars, a truck bomb killed 18 and wounded hundreds in Karachi, Pakistan. Those are only a couple of what the military refers to as “spectaculars”, large explosions designed to maximize casualties and cow political leaders into acquiescing to extremist demands.

But a simple google search involving the terms “Afghanistan” or “Pakistan” and “bomb” reveals a near daily toll of Arizona-shooting-sized casualties.

It isn’t that we should weigh tragedy with artificial equality; proximity will always be the prism through which events affect us. But it does offer a clue as to our fatigue in the Afghan war.