Monday, October 29, 2012

I, Patriot

DSCN1187

Mrs. Φ took a call from a pollster last week.  The call came from an Orlando number, 407-250-2251, an seemed to her vaguely pro-Republican, but it would cost me $.99 to find out who the number belongs to, and I don’t actually care that much.

The pollster asked for which of the two major party candidates we intended to vote for president.  Mrs. Φ replied, roughly, “Well, if we must choose between Romney and Obama, then I guess we’d support Romney.”

“Well, if you vote for any other candidate, then your vote doesn’t count,” the pollster argued.

[!?!]

Excuse me,” Mrs. Φ replied, her voice rising slightly.  “Our votes always count.  That’s the great thing about America.”

[click]  The pollster had hung up on her.

My newsreader subscribes to roughly 30 different active blogs.  Contained in the posts therein, I read quite a bit of frustration with the actual policy choices on offer from the Remocrats/Depublicans.  But while I have seen occasional discussion of Gary Johnson’s Libertarian candidacy, if the search engine and my own memory are working properly, not one of you has even mentioned the only true conservative candidate actually on the ballot in a majority of states.  (His name periodically pops up in the comments, however.)

Granted, the Constitution Party platform isn’t perfect.  It would have been nice had they advocated repeal of specific bits of odious legislation, starting with the “Civil Rights” act.  But this can be reasonably inferred from other planks supporting limited government.  What they do advocate is:  an immigration moratorium and a return to tariffs; an end to foreign adventurism; and a balanced budget now instead of the by-and-by.  That’s enough for me.

So . . .

Goode-Clymer 2012!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Low-end Job Market

I watched the movie Another Earth, written by and staring the lovely prodigy Brit Marling.  It’s a good movie if you like independent films and don’t fully think through the implications of its sci-fi premise.

One part rang false:  Marling’s character, fresh from four years in prison for (I assume) vehicular homicide, walks into an employment agency and walks out with a job as a public school janitor.

Really?  I’ll admit that I don’t have much experience in job-finding for other than professional-class employment (and even then; I held my last job for 20 years).  But that just looked too easy for someone with, basically, no work experience, especially with unemployment rates for menial-class workers nowadays.  Also:  wouldn’t a school especially look askance at a felony conviction?

That said, another aspect rang true.  Marling represents herself as an employee of a cleaning service and begins cleaning the house of the man (Mike Cahill) whose family she killed.  Cahill’s character lives in an alcoholic depression amid his growing piles of garbage, but as Marling makes headway against it, he begins to rouse himself to get his life back together.

Now, you might argue that this storyline is a cliché, but in this case I think the cliché is entirely plausible.  I can imagine myself in that situation, wallowing in bitter despondency.  I can also imagine that, were I to allow a beautiful girl into my personal space, even in a (initially) non-romantic context, a combination of shame and dopamine would drive me to clean myself up, even if I didn’t really want to.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Can we say “please”?

Back during the SOPA controversy, when I was signing every email and petition I came across, I wound up on the mailing list of an outfit called SumOfUs.org.  As it became apparent during the effort to undermine Rush Limbaugh, this is a left-wing organization.

Who knew?

Anyway, this is to explain how I found out about the latest outrage du jure:

It was “Housekeeping Appreciation Week” at the Hyatt and to celebrate, a digitally altered photo collage of Hyatt Housekeepers' faces -- including Martha’s and her sister Lorena’s -- superimposed on bikini-clad cartoon-bodies was posted on a bulletin board at work.

She felt humiliated and embarrassed. But she knew her sister Lorena -- also a housekeeper at Hyatt -- would be even more so. Martha tore the posters of her and her sister down. Then, with management present, a coworker told Martha she needed to return the photos.

She refused and said if they wanted it back, they'd have to take her to court.

Hyatt management fired Martha and Lorena just a few weeks later.

If it’s relevant, here is a picture of the Reyes sisters:

reyes-sisters-main1

Okay, so now that that’s out of the way, a few thoughts:

Given that their likenesses were part of a collage, and apparently one put together by some of the employees themselves, there doesn’t seem to be much to indicate that they had been singled out for special harassment.  But while I am not nearly as censorious of these kind of gags as I was in my youth, I know, or knew, people that are.  And I can also see how, given their appearance, these two might construe the incongruity between that appearance and the “bikini-clad cartoon bodies” somewhat negatively.  So if they had asked not to play, I think they’re oversensitive, but I also think the civil response would have been to not make them play.

Unfortunately, that isn’t what they did, and it is here my attitude hardens.  Nothing about this situation justifies interfering with the work of other people, a lesson I learned myself during my own intolerant phase. 

If this is representative of the way these two interacted with anybody at the hotel, staff, management, or guests, then this had likely more to do with their discharge than this single incident.

I would add that my guess is that Hyatt has a sufficiently sophisticated HR department to warn management away from overtly firing people over something that could be spun as sexual harassment.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Company They Keep

Steve Southerland (Republican, FL-02) announced his endorsements last week:

  • Associated Builders and Contractors

  • Associated Industries of Florida

  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce

  • . . .

“It is an honor to know we have the backing of such a deep and diverse coalition of support representing thousands of North and Northwest Floridians,” said Southerland. “I take pride in knowing that our efforts to advance freedom are drawing a lot of attention and gaining momentum by the day.”

Uh huh. Let's look at this list:

  • Associated Builders and Contractors' Florida affiliate doesn't have a website that I can find, but they are listed among the members of Florida Employers for Immigration and Visa Reform, whose mischief is what you suspect.

  • Associated Industries of Florida publishes its lobbying priorities, among which is a steady supply of cheap foreign labor. 

  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce' (why aren't they called the Globalist Plutocracy Chamber of Commerce already) long-running efforts to immiserate American workers and bankrupt the country with open borders needs no introduction, but for a review see here, here, and here.

That said, and in happy contrast, Southerland has the endorsement of the National Federation of Independent Business, which, in addition to having been the plaintiff in the doomed challenge to Obamacare, supported the SAVE act endorsed by Numbers USA, and from what I've read on their website, they seem intent on helping their members actually comply with immigration law rather than, you know, break it.

So, there's that.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Stopping the Clock

When Florida broke new ground (that anybody noticed) with its liberalization of the concealed carry of firearms (CCW), pundits warned us of bodies stacking in the streets as the state became "Dodge City" writ large.

Now, 30+ state liberalizations, millions of CCW licenses, and a dramatic drop in the overall crime rate later, it seems that the gun grabbers finally got their wish: a murder that actually fits the profile they predicted so long ago. (H.T.: W.F. Price)

Reading this story, I was struck by how few of the usual leading indicators seem to apply. First, there is no racial angle: Dinh Bowman is half white - half Asian, and his victim is white (I assume, else we would have heard about it). There are no (as far as I know) claims of self-defense, a la Trayvon/Zimmerman. Dihn is married, and his wife is beautiful and loyal (indeed, perhaps too much), so this is not a case of beta-male rage.

Dinh is a successful engineer, a former child prodigy and offspring of a professional couple, so there is no obvious class angle. He had a lawfully obtained concealed carry permit, and was lawfully exercising the priviledges pertaining thereto. As his home videos illustrate, he is truly a wizard with a pistol, so this was not a case of sloppy gun handling. And finally, he apparently isn't crazy in either a technical or legal sense.

But he was . . . wound just a little too tight. I would, of course, oppose any firearm licensing scheme whose net was so tightly woven as to prevent Dinh from obtaining one, at least based on any information in this article. But I have to admit that had he not been armed, Dinh probably would have resolved his dispute with a vulgar gesture, and everyone would be a lot happier.

So, as a broken clock is right twice a day, I'll give anti-gun liberals a point on this one after 25 years of trying.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Special Pleading

Laura McKenna blogs about Local Education Foundations, which spend tax-deductible contributions on a particular school or district, thereby increasing education inequality.

What’s interesting in the comments is to watch people attempt to define standards for tax deductibility such that contributions to Stuff-I-Like can be deducted while contributions to Stuff-I-Don’t-Like can’t.

Reading stuff like this reinforces my general belief that the charitable giving deduction should be abolished across the board, from Harvard and Guggenheim to LEFs and churches.  But considering that public schools are primarily supported by local property taxes, and that these taxes are already deductible from federal taxes, I’m not sure on what grounds we would disallow deductibility for additional contributions to these same schools.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Romney the Man

This is not an endorsement, nor is it a criticism.  But I enjoyed reading these anecdotes about Mitt Romney.

Anecdote 1:

[O]ur family had out-grown our small home, so we found a larger one and put the word out that we would appreciate any help in loading and unloading our rented moving truck. Among those who showed up that morning was Mitt Romney, now the governor of Massachusetts, who had just completed his unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts. Mitt had a broken collarbone, but for two hours traipsed between our home and the truck, carrying out whatever he could manage with his one good arm.

Anecdote 2:

In 1981, Romney was arrested for launching a boat after a police officer warned him that his boat's license number was inadequately displayed and he faced a $50 fine. Romney launched the boat anyway and the cop arrested him. What seems to have gone on is a conflict in how to understand the interaction up unto that point. The cop seems to have seen himself as giving an order which was then disobeyed. That is, a violation of an authority relationship which requires the lower party to show deference. Conversely, Romney described the situation as "I was willing to pay the fine. But if he had said don't launch the boat and not mentioned the fine, I would not have done it."

Monday, October 01, 2012

Allied Atrocity

In like vein to learning about the Morgenthau Plan, I read in the Chronicle of Higher Education (H.T.: Robin) about the postwar deportation of German civilians from across Europe:

Between 1945 and 1950, Europe witnessed the largest episode of forced migration, and perhaps the single greatest movement of population, in human history. Between 12 million and 14 million German-speaking civilians—the overwhelming majority of whom were women, old people, and children under 16—were forcibly ejected from their places of birth in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, and what are today the western districts of Poland. … They were deposited among the ruins of Allied-occupied Germany to fend for themselves as best they could. The number who died as a result of starvation, disease, beatings, or outright execution is unknown, but conservative estimates suggest that at least 500,000 people lost their lives in the course of the operation . . . . 

The European Atrocity You Never Heard About 2

Ironically, no more than 100 or so miles away from the camps being put to this new use, the surviving Nazi leaders were being tried by the Allies in the courtroom at Nuremberg on a bill of indictment that listed "deportation and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population" under the heading of "crimes against humanity."

The article says the deportations “achiev[ed] their governments' prewar ambition to create ethnically homogeneous nation-states.”  What it doesn’t do is remind us that Hitler’s own formal casus belli was, in many instances IIRC, to “protect” the German ex-pats living in the countries he invaded.  I’ll leave it to you to judge the merits of this claim, but I can kind of see how, considering how much suffering Hitler inflicted on the countries he occupied, that they were eager to rid themselves of any chance the pretext could be used again.  And in that sense, it certainly worked.

That said, I take this as further evidence that we today indulge ourselves in a lot of moral preening with respect to the Nazis that isn’t especially supported by the actual history.