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Miss America-bashing

So I guess the Miss America pageant was turned into an anti-Trump event, particularly with the Q&A section.  I didn’t watch — haven’t for years, but please.  Must we we constantly be talking about Trump.  It’s beyond ridiculous.

Even the Wapo says the competition has become political.  Why must it?

Andrew Breitbart Distilled

This review of some of his comments from Fox News encapsulates what Andrew Breitbart was all about.  He was ruthless and fearless, but he wasn’t a liar.  He was direct and didn’t back down, but he wasn’t a bully (although I think sometimes Hannity is).  Breitbart saw with great clarity what the radical left (not traditional Democrats) are trying to do to this country and he was possibly the strongest voice among many saying “No you don’t.”


Have Europe’s wealthy jumped the shark?

Tax Me More, Europe’s Wealthy Say – NYTimes.com. First it’s Warren Buffett, now this.  For most of these folks (check the article), they have the option of paying more if they really want to, so why don’t they?  Hitting the super-rich with more taxes plays well at cocktail parties and down at the union hall, but it has no real benefit in terms of easing government deficits long term.  That’s because even if we flat-out confiscated all the money the glitterati have, it wouldn’t go that far.

Real fiscal reform that’s long lasting is what’s needed, and it simply means the government stops spending and stops casting smaller increases as “cuts” in the budget.

This article is, in our opinion, a semi-fabrication in service of a political agenda, and it’s a drumbeat the NY Times has been playing for a while now . It’s goofy on its face — if the super rich want to be taxed more, they can simply send the IRS more money.  But they don’t.  So how serious can this be?

Our Picks for Best Political Podcasts

Podcasting is a terrific medium for news, information and analysis of issues and a whole lot more.  For listeners, Apple’s iTunes makes subscribing and listening extremely easy, even for those who don’t have or want an actual iPod.  For producers, it’s so easy to master the basic technical issues that almost anyone with a pulse can record and distribute a podcast.

For political listening there are a lot of choices on all sides of the spectrum, and a lot of them are garbage.  But here are several podcasts that we think are best of the best, from our conservative/libertarian point of view.  All of these can be found in the iTunes store or from the respective websites (just click on the pictures), and they’re FREE.

Official Mark Levin Show Audio Rewind

Mark Levin

Levin is an American treasure.  For those of you who listen to his radio show and find him to be a shouter and hanger-upper, you haven’t listened long enough.  Rush Limbaugh has always said you won’t really “get” his (Limbaugh’s) show in less than six weeks,  and that’s true of Levin as well.  Maybe it’s true of all radio hosts with substance. Give them time. They’ll grow on you if their aim is true.

The left tends to dismiss conservative radio hosts as mere “entertainers” (while deifying actual entertainers such as Sean Penn as deep thinkers).  But while Levin is incredibly funny at times, he’s mainly a passionate voice for America who happens to be entertaining.  He’s a constitutional scholar with a Jon Lovitz delivery.  He’s Gilbert Gottfried with a law degree and a deep sense of morality.

Levin is also the head of Landmark Legal Foundation, a group that actually holds government’s feet to the fire on matters of vital constitutional importance.  And he’s the author of Liberty and Tyranny, the brilliant million-selling treatise on the meaning of America.

The podcast is basically Levin’s  radio show (heard 6-9 pm Eastern on WABC in New York and at various times around the country), with most of the commercials removed.  It’s usually added to the podfeed about an hour after the live radio show ends.  It’s well worth the listening, as Levin bemoans our present political situation, not from a strictly partisan viewpoint, but from the point of view of a true patriot who understands in detail the legal and moral framework of America.

Even though the subjects are weighty, Levin is lots of fun to listen to, and while his anger can be palpable at times, so is his compassion for his country and its people.  This is a truly accomplished guy who has the ability to communicate his passion and knowledge in a fun, interesting way.  Spend some time with him.  http://www.marklevinshow.com

KCRW’s Right, Left and Center

Photo from L-R: Matt Miller, Arianna Huffington, Tony Blankley, Robert Scheer

RLC is an NPR show hosted by Matt Miller, who is supposedly a centrist (we respectfully disagree, since he’s a fellow at John Podesta’s decidedly lefty Center for American Progress), with a panel of three: progressive Robert Scheer of Truthdig.com, conservative Tony Blankley from The Washington Times and Arianna Huffington, from The Huffington Post.  Huffington is away from the show a lot (but from our point of view, she’s mentally absent even when she’s present.)

Ok, so it’s NOT a conservative podcast per se, but Dave listens to it every week (the podcast version comes out on Friday, after the NPR show runs).   Blankley is usually alone in his opinions, and plays the role of the articulate smart guy (a la Wm. F. Buckley), to Scheer’s socialistic curmudgeon.  Arianna is there for comic relief — she seemed a lot smarter when she was a conservative — and Matt Miller plays cat-herder to this diverse bunch.

Dave listens for the fun of the arguments, as well as for the fact that (mostly) the participants don’t cut each other off in mid-sentence with weird non sequiturs, etc.  It’s good to hear the opposing points of view, and although it’s not often, Dave even finds himself occasionally agreeing with Scheer.


No Agenda

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

Dave’s current fave, No Agenda, comes from an  outside-the-box,  “makes ya think don’t it?” sensibility that really can’t be pinned down.  The hosts are media veterans Adam Curry and John C. Dvorak.  Curry is the former MTV Vee-Jay who originated the idea of podcasting and is one of the driving forces behind the online media company Mevio.  Dvorak is a longtime tech journalist and podcaster who knows his tech, and apparently, his politics as well.

As Crackpot and Buzzkill (their nicknames, not ours), Curry and Dvorak research stories and angles on stories they believe the the MSM ignore, and if there’s any political “ism” involved it’s “No BS-ism.”  Curry and Dvorak don’t suffer fools or political hacks gladly.  It’s fun and fast-paced, produced by Curry with the same manic panache baby boomers heard in the likes of Murray the K and Larry Lujack.   Dave has to laugh every time Curry hits the “douche-bag” button and, well, you get the idea.

But again, the show isn’t all fun-and-games.  Not by a long shot. Curry and Dvorak ask some serious questions about some very  important issues. For example, in a recent episode they lamented that the media and politicos (on the right AND left) prefer not to discuss the fact that Arizona’s  immigration law is a response to criminal activity that’s far more heinous than just walking across the border.  Just for starters, Arizona is the second-most kidnap-prone place in the world.

While they may not have all the answers, they call things as they see them. Besides the fact that these are both pretty smart guys, what makes the show work is the juxtaposition of personalities — Curry as the conspiracy theorist with an actual point, and Dvorak as the shrewd curmudgeon who cuts through the memes-of-the-moment.

It’s recorded (with live listening possible at mevio.com) Thursday and Sunday mornings, and it’s really great radio conversation.

NOTE: No Agenda does have a bit of crude language, mostly from Curry.  So f***ing get over it.


Robert Scheer

Deconstructing the Elkhart Truth’s Smoking Stance

We’ve been longtime opponents to anti-smoking laws on a number of levels, while the eTruth (Elkhart Truth) has been reliably in favor of them. Last week, the Elkhart Police Department ran a “crackdown” on bars and smokers who have been flouting Elkhart’s public smoking ban.  Today, the Truth Editorial page swiftly applauded.  With excerpts, here’s our response.

Reaction to a police crackdown on Elkhart’s smoking ban last week was — not surprisingly — mixed. But it needed to happen. This is a public health issue, which is why the Elkhart City Council passed the ban two years ago.

While we realize that laws, even silly ones, have to be enforced, it seems to us that the whole thing could have been avoided by letting adults make their own decisions.  Particularly in bars, where smoking is virtually de rigueur.  Whether it’s a public health issue is pretty debatable, particularly since no one is required to go to a bar (or any venue) that allows smoking.

In order for the public and business owners to see that the city is taking this law seriously, police needed to turn up the heat.

When the ban was first being debated, we referenced the “Basic Instinct” joke in which the leading lady asks the cops, “What are  you going to do, arrest me for smoking?”  It appears we’re getting closer.  As in the movie, the police should feel foolish and abused being asked to enforce this nonsense, especially in private venues where, literally,  no one should be surprised to find a cigarette.

Some critics suggested that the EPD needed to focus on bigger issues instead, but where do you draw the line? What ordinances do you instruct the police to ignore? For how long? Under what circumstances? The law is the law and it needs to be applied fairly and consistently.

Again, the need to apply the law fairly and consistently is something that could have been avoided altogether if the city council had left well enough alone.  There ARE bigger issues, and this is a distraction.

The reasons for the ordinance remain valid. Two recent studies for the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology showed that people living in American, Canadian and European cities where smoking was banned in public places had 17 percent fewer heart attacks in the first year than people in communities without bans.

Perhaps.  We remain somewhat skeptical of much research in this area because, as in other areas of science, it is prone to politicization and cherry-picking of favorable data.  The 1993 EPA study, which virtually kicked off the anti-second-hand smoke movement, was notably flawed, contained no original research and selectively reported the research of others.  Yet it became the false premise for thousands of media reports that followed.

The fact is, most businesses have eliminated smoking on their own, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that the market (customers) demanded it.  Locations that allow it are either risking complaints or have a customer base that enjoys tobacco use.  Many businesses went smoke free before the ban because it was right for them.  Constant Spring in Goshen was smoke-free before that city’s ban took effect and did quite well, partly because of this.

But the businesses that continue to allow smoking are catering to customers whose exposure to smoke is likely to be first-hand rather than second-hand.  And these customers will smoke away from the bars as well.   It’s hard to imagine that these establishments are skewing the health figures much, if at all.  Again, can’t this be the individual businesses’ decision? And can’t the Elkhart Truth use a little common sense critical thinking?  Can’t the paper at least question whether or not some of its sources might be skewed?

Yes, the bars and restaurants who feel they lose business by following the ordinance when others flout it have a very valid complaint.  But the problem is not enforcement, it’s the ordinance itself.  Bars that don’t comply are very likely losing business because of it and a few are fighting back — ignoring it to survive.

Legitimate businesses shouldn’t be subjected to laws that threaten their existence.  A lot of justification for smoking bans comes from research that seems to indicate that bans have little or no effect on business income.  But, as Forbes reports, much of this research is flawed, and well, just plain wrong. Smoking bans very obviously are hurting some businesses, otherwise the police wouldn’t have to run around like hall monitors, writing tickets to people who are capable of making their own health decisions.

We come at the issue from this angle:

  1. Smoking is legal for adults.
  2. The venues in question are private property.
  3. The adults in this venue are voluntarily present.
  4. Adults present in a bar smoke voluntarily and/or expect smokers to be present.
  5. The ordinance is flawed in that it prohibits the use of private property for a legal activity in which consenting adults are voluntarily engaged.

Smoking is a public health issue. Reduce exposure to second-hand smoke and the community becomes a healthier place.

And thus the Elkhart Truth and others justify reduction of freedom a little at a time.  On a larger scale, our federal government has exploited an overblown and manufactured crisis, along with claims of “the common good” to justify a takeover of our health system and destruction of our liberty.  Do we really need a local nanny-state when it’s obvious how dangerous the national one is?

Are we REALLY going to arrest people for smoking?  And is the Elkhart Truth really in favor of restricting the rights of adults who aren’t bothering anybody?

George Soros not satisfied with Barack Obama

George Soros, uber-creep

George Soros, uber-creep

According to this report in the Orlando Sentinel,
billionaire George Soros doesn’t feel like he got his money’s worth in supporting Barack Obama. That this international control freak, who is not even a US citizen, should financially support a presidential candidate, is bad enough.  But that the issue of his “satisfaction” should be the subject of news interview is ludicrous, and very revealing.

Zakaria on his “Fareed Zakaria GPS” this morning also noted that Soros was one of Barack Obama’s biggest supporters. Zakaria asked, “Are you satisfied with the job Barack Obama has done?”

Soros said he wasn’t. Soros wanted the banks nationalized, but added that Obama “made the political decision that that is un-American, will not be accepted.”

Why is Zakaria asking this? Why does CNN give Soros any kind of attention, much less an audience?

Soros makes money speculating on currencies, and can make money when whole countries’ economies collapse, so nationalizing our banks and going for socialized medicine would certainly have been good business for him.

Most important to us, however, is that Zakaria even thought to ask about Soros’ satisfaction.  Why should this be important?  Why is this news?  CNN’s approach should be more investigative, trying to figure out what this creep is up to, rather than tossing him softballs about how happy he is with OUR president (not his.)

A Supreme Court decision for everybody

To all the anti-corporatists out there who are angry about yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling, it protects you too. The Wall Street Journal explains..

Waxboy wants to help struggling newspapers: RUN!

Henry Struggling media will need government help: US congressman.

It’s a sure bet Waxman’s goals are not honorable, in our opinion, but setting that aside for a moment, if newspapers are to fade away because of the market forces affecting them, there is no percentage in keeping them alive at taxpayer expense. If they’re losing money, why should we ALL lose money?