Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Life of Misery and Triumph

This is my first nonpolitical post on this forum and it's about a novel I wrote, which is now available in Kindle and paperback. 

A Life of Misery and Triumph is a comedy thriller about two unlikely vodka entrepreneurs. 

Summary:

Upon completing a highly unusual apprenticeship in the art of writing with his reclusive and deranged uncle, Marcus enjoys fame as a vodka label writer for a burgeoning micro-vodka company called Misery, Inc. But when he meets a woman whose dark secret puts Marcus in the crosshairs of a vengeful cult of master authors, he sets out on a hilarious spiritual journey and becomes engulfed in alcohol induced messianic zeal.

Also check out the novel's Facebook page


My sincere thanks to everyone who encouraged me to write my debut novel and to everyone who has already read the book and offered their feedback.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Justifying the Baltimore Riots

I hate to politicize the tragedy of a major American city being burned down but everyone else is doing it so what the hell? And by "hate to politicize," I mean I'm going to politicize this.

Baltimore has a majority minority police force, not a minority minority police force like Ferguson. Baltimore has a black female mayor, who also happens to be a very liberal Democrat and a rising star in the Democratic Party. Baltimore's city council and representation at the state and federal level is majority African American.

If socioeconomic factors cause/explain this as so many are arguing, do these left-wing African American leaders bear responsibility for failing to solve the socioeconomic problems that allegedly culminate in senior citizen centers and CVSs getting burned down?

If not, and if these leaders are helpless as past oppression and institutional racism continue to inexorably drive looting, rioting, and violence, are there no solutions short of inventing a time machine and wiping out the history of slavery and Jim Crow?

The notion that this violence is the manifestation of a history of police brutality, institutional racism, and past racial oppression is belied by the fact that the VAST MAJORITY of African Americans are NOT engaging in this behavior. They know it's immoral and inexcusable, regardless of issues with police brutality and historic wrongs.

The politicians/pundits/so-called civil rights leaders who implicitly condone/excuse this shit are themselves NOT partaking in burning down black owned businesses. They must also know that it's wrong. So why do they equivocate even when condemning these acts?

Why does Marc Lamont Hill tweet "to dismiss these uprisings as mere thuggery and criminality is to delegitimize and pathologize black rage," suggesting that destroying the city's economic centers is at least in part legitimized by "black rage."

Why isn't Marc Lamont Hill rioting and looting? Why is it acceptable for others to express "black rage" by burning down buildings, but not acceptable for Marc Lamont Hill?

The people burning down buildings are not political actors. They're not angry over Freddie Gray--men like Freddie Gray, that is young African Americans, are gunned down in Baltimore by gangs every day. They're criminals with no political agenda, no goals, no vision for the future.

But the politicians/pundits who DO have a political agenda are using these misguided fools as pawns in their perennial crusade to castigate American society as irredeemably racist in lieu of accepting the harsh reality that neither past nor current racism motivates these criminals.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Joe Biden vs. Tom Cotton

Joe Biden's foreign policy record:

Opposed Reagan's defense buildup
Proclaimed the fall of the Shah was a step forward for human rights in Iran
Voted against the 1991 Gulf War
Voted for the 2003 Gulf War
Opposed 2007 Iraq War "Surge"
Opposed authorizing Navy SEALs to take out bin Laden

Tom Cotton's foreign policy record:

Authored a partisan letter to Iran's leadership in an effort to a) do a little political grandstanding and b) undermine what he believes is a catastrophic nuclear deal that will lead to a nuclear-armed theocratic dictatorship whose authority is derived from the doctrine that because the twelfth imam went into hiding in the 9th century, a supreme leader must exercise his authority until he returns to kill all infidels.

What will prompt his return? Some say, a good ol' fashioned nuclear holocaust.

Monday, December 8, 2014

FACT: You're Not Likely To Be Killed By a Police Officer

Seeing that there’s a burgeoning perception shaped by the left and the neo-libertarian right that cops routinely execute citizens for no reason, I took the liberty of being the best and came up with the following statistical guide that I hope will assuage the collective fear of being killed by a police officer. 

US Population=316.1 million
# cops (state and local law enforcement personnel)=1.1 million
# of cops killed in the line of duty in 2013=76
# of citizens killed by police (justified + unjustified)=1000* (*The numbers are surprisingly hard to get, but this is the high end estimate according to Nate Silver’s 538 blog. FBI puts it at 500. I'll go with the high end estimate.)
Percentage of citizens killed by police (justified and unjustified)=1000/316.1 million=.00032%.
That's .00032%
Percentage of cops killed in the line of duty=76/1.1m=.0069%
That's .0069%
.0069%>.00032%
So in fact, a police officer is 22 times more likely to die in the line of duty than a citizen is at the hands of the police.
Now controlling for race.
US black population=43 million
# of black people killed by police (justified and unjustified) in 2013: according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number is 123. Many critics have pointed to numerous flaws in the CDC’s data, yet are unable to offer a better estimate. So let’s use Nate Silver’s data (i.e. 1000 people killed by police in 2013) and assume that 75% of the victims were black (this is almost certainly higher than the actual number). # of black people killed by police=750 (high end estimate).
Percentage of blacks killed by police=750/43m=.0017%
That’s .0017%
.0069%>.0017% .
So, the odds of a cop dying in the line of duty is still greater than the odds of an African American being killed by the police. And to reiterate, this is based on an unrealistically high estimate of the number of blacks killed by police, and includes both justified and unjustified cases.
None of this is consolation to Eric Garner’s family. But seeing social media inundated with wildly inaccurate assumptions about police brutality compelled me to run these numbers.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Shamelessly Dishonest Sports Media

Now that a federal judge has reinstated Ray Rice because constitutional republics depend on federal judges to arbitrate private sports leagues' personal conduct matters, I am anxiously counting down the seconds until the sports media, the pseudo sports media (Deadspin) and the anti-NFL lobby blame Roger Goodell and the NFL owners for Ray Rice's indefinite suspension being revoked.

Actually, I don't need to count down seconds per se, because as this ESPN article strongly implies, this is all Roger Goodell's fault.

You see, because Roger Goodell initially caved into the NFL players' union (NFLPA) demand that players accused (convicted or just accused?) of domestic violence only be suspended for two games, he is responsible for Ray Rice punching out his fiancee.

This article is rife with some truly Orwellian stuff (as opposed to neo-Orwellian stuff).

The judge criticizes the NFL's ostensible failure to take cases of domestic violence seriously, and at the same time, criticizes the NFL for suspending Ray Rice indefinitely after acknowledging that it didn't take cases of domestic violence seriously enough!  


Now, a reasonable lady or gentleman could make the case that the NFL acted in an ex post facto manner, and that Ray Rice should never have been suspended indefinitely.

That would be a reasonable, perhaps controversial, stance.

But that is NOT what the sports media is harping on.

They're saying straight up that Roger Goodell beat Ray Rice's wife and should be fired. Wait what? No, ok, they're not going that far, but the narrative advanced by the sports media strongly suggests that Roger Goodell is the main villain in this story. Not the woman beater. The guy who disciplined the woman beater.

The arbitrary punishment piece is a glaring red herring. We know this because after handing down the initial punishment, Roger Goodell did the mea culpa dance and was universally praised by every gasbag on ESPN for having the integrity to admit he was wrong.

None of his detractors gave a shit about ex post facto back then.

The truth is that Ray Rice's retroactive punishment only became an issue once the unhinged anti-Goodell lobby went after the NFL.

Terry O'Neill, the president of the National Organization for Women (NOW)--a hyper political organization which represents at most 40% of women and clearly does not speak for all women--was invited on every ESPN show to belligerently attack the NFL as either endorsing or condoning violence against women. Without ever being challenged for the extremely incendiary and potentially libelous charges. 

Given the fact that the NFLPA was defending the woman beater Ray Rice while the NFL was arguing against him, will Terry O'Neill slam the NFLPA and praise the NFL? Will she slam the judge who reinstated Ray Rice? 

Haha, good one. 

Politics takes precedence over so many things that most people don't want politicized. Including, in this case, reason. 

The bottom line is this. 

The NFL disciplines its employees for conduct unbecoming. Ergo, the NFL disciplined Ray Rice consistent with the rules negotiated and agreed to by the NFL and the NFLPA. 

When the initial punishment didn't appear to fit the crime, the NFL responded to media pressure by quickly changing the rules to more severely punish perpetrators of domestic violence. (Again, it's unclear whether the new rules apply to convictions or simply allegations. Clearly, if it's the latter, then legitimate questions must be raised about presumption of innocence. But that's a separate matter.)

When the graphic nature of the elevator video ignited even more outrage over the lax punishment, Roger Goodell retroactively suspended Ray Rice. 

Then, in a brilliant stroke of Orwellian chutzpah, the sports media, Terry O'Neill et al., pounced on Roger Goodell for not taking domestic violence seriously or worse, even though he was super hawkish on domestic violence, going so far as to retroactively change the rules to punish woman beaters. 

Logic is hard.





Monday, November 24, 2014

The Radical Left is Now Mainstream

Reacting to the first African American Republican woman being elected to Congress, the lynchpin of liberal political and cultural commentary, the Huffington Post, published a column by Darron Smith, Ph.D., creepily titled:

“She Looks Black, but Her Politics Are Red: What Mia Love's Victory Means for the Face of the GOP.”

The implication is that Congresswoman-elect Mia Love is not really black. As Mr. Smith writes, she only “looks black.”

Rational Americans might ask, what could that possibly mean and does anyone take this tripe spewed by a smarmy radical leftist seriously?

Some leftists might respond that being black is not simply a matter of skin color. It’s every bit as much a matter of ideology. If your skin color is black and you embrace the hard left agenda, you’re legitimately black. If your skin color is black, but you support principles of limited government, then you’re not a legitimate African American.

It’s the left-wing equivalent of Todd Aiken’s infamous “legitimate rape” comment, only it’s not universally mocked and derided. Just the opposite: it’s celebrated and inexorably advanced across the liberal media landscape.

The stark reality is that this one Huffington Post column is not an anomaly. It’s the new normal.     
Once confined to niche left-wing publications, fringe political movements, and ultra-liberal university faculty lounges, radical leftist dogma is now embedded in the liberal media establishment.

Terms like "white privilege" and "cultural appropriation" pervade mainstream media outlets. They’re no longer considered fringe or controversial on the left. And anyone—including people  of color—who dares question the merits of these ideas will be bizarrely vilified as a benefactor and purveyor of “white privilege.”  

In short, radical leftist views have been mainstreamed by popular websites like Gawker, The Daily Beast, and the Huffington Post.     

It’s as if in a cruel twist of fate the radical left has won the civil war against the liberal establishment many thought it had lost in the 1960s. This victory over the relatively moderate liberal establishment is evidenced by the fact that The New York Times, The Washington Post and other standard bearers of mainstream liberalism don’t dare counter radical tripe, such as the notion that American institutions are inherently and irreversibly racist. Occasionally, they even publish these diatribes in their op-ed pages.   

Perhaps the most alarming aspect of the mainstreaming of the leftist school of thought is that  scores of apolitical and ideologically diverse readers regularly visit the Huffington Post, Gawker, et al. for celebrity news and entertainment, not for politics.

But when those outlets do delve into politics directly or indirectly, they invariably infuse their columns with leftist ideology, such as the notion that all white Americans enjoy genetic privilege. This is a far cry from the time when only ideological readers browsed The Nation.

By targeting audiences seeking entertainment or soft news and then hitting them with leftist propaganda, these outlets cultivate far more influence than their fringe predecessors.  

It is supremely ironic that the counter culture failed so spectacularly to mainstream their ideas  during the glory days of left-wing radicalism in the 1960s, yet today, when left-wing radicalism is no longer a credible political movement, their ideological successors enjoy mainstream status.   

  

Friday, May 2, 2014

Late-Term Abortion: A Winning Issue for Republicans


When I hear that Republicans are waging a war on our daughters, mothers, wives, aunts and sisters, I begin to hate myself. As a registered Republican, how dare I wage a “war on women,” when women mean so much to me? I must be a masochist or a nihilist. Or a masochistic nihilist. 

The absurdity of the charge notwithstanding, the “war on women” calumny has been a potent line of attack for Democrats. And since the Democrat-friendly mainstream media legitimize it by not dismissing it as exceedingly cheap demagoguery, Democrats can play this gambit whenever they need a wedge issue to divide the country and slander the opposition.   

An issue central to the “war on women” is abortion. Pro-life Americans believe that because a fetus has all the biological properties of a human being, it has a right to life. Ergo, conservatives hate women. Logic is hard. 

To date, Republicans have been diffident about going on the offensive on the abortion issue, presumably out of fear that it would further alienate the young, single female demographic that has morphed into a reliable voting bloc for Democrats. 

I can understand the reluctance to speak extensively about abortion in general, but what about late-term abortion specifically? 
Why not force Democrats to defend their stance on late-term abortion?   

The Democratic Party’s national 2012 platform unequivocally supports the right to abortion, including late-term abortion. 
While most Americans still support the right to an abortion in the first trimester, Americans by large margins oppose abortion during the second and third trimesters. According to Gallup:  

"A solid majority of Americans (61%) believe abortion should generally be legal in the first three months of pregnancy, while 31% disagree. However support drops off sharply, to 27%, for second-trimester abortions, and further still, to 14%, for third-trimester abortions." 

In other words, only 14% of Americans  agree with the Democratic Party’s position on late term abortion. From a political standpoint, this is a devastating statistic for Democrats. 

Yet for some reason Republicans aren’t exploiting the hell out of it. I know abortion is not the preeminent issue—it ranks below jobs, the economy, and a number of other issues—so I am not suggesting we make the GOP’s opposition to late-term abortion a central campaign theme. 

But because abortion is a popular wedge issue for Democrats, it is critical for the GOP to fight effectively on that battlefield, rather than retreat.    
  
Democrats have already been put on the defensive and have had to backtrack on late term abortion in two high profile statewide races. 

Democratic Senate candidate, Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is waging an underdog campaign to unseat the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, distanced herself from the national Party’s radical abortion stance when she publicly declared her opposition to late-term abortion.  

Incredibly, and to the glee of every conservative in the galaxy, so has the nascent liberal icon, Wendy Davis, who rose to fame by unsuccessfully filibustering a bill that banned abortions after twenty weeks and subjected Texas’s abortion clinics to new regulations. She also rose to fame because the media were smitten with the running shoes she wore during her filibuster. 

It is true that Kentucky and Texas have more pro-life voters than say, liberal Vermont. Davis and Grimes made the calculation that not opposing the gruesome practice of aborting a viable fetus would be an anathema to many pro-life Democrats and independents who may otherwise be inclined to vote for them—and whose votes they absolutely must have to win. 

However, only 14% of Americans support late-term abortions in the entire country, not just in conservative bastions.

If Democrats insist on attacking Republicans for waging a war on women, being anti-reproductive rights, against women’s health, or whatever the focus group tested libelous meme might be in play in 2014 and 2016, why doesn’t the GOP hit back with the late-term abortion issue?

This would have the effect of putting Democrats on the defensive, forcing them to  double down on their Party’s platform, equivocate, or outright reject late-term abortion a la Davis and Grimes.

From a strategic standpoint, it is imprudent to remain on the defensive. Americans are not divided on second and third trimester abortions; they overwhelmingly oppose them.

So shouldn’t Republicans force national Democratic candidates to take a position on late-term abortion? I am looking at you, Hillary Clinton. 

To this date, Republicans have cautiously avoided a proactive strategy on this issue. Given where the country stands, it would serve the national Party and its leaders well to pose this question: “Mrs. Clinton, do you endorse the Democratic Party’s platform supporting the right to an abortion for any reason at any point in the pregnancy?”

It would be fascinating to hear how a skilled politician like Hillary Clinton would respond. There’s really no wiggle room to equivocate.  If she says yes, Republicans can hold her accountable for a radical view on abortion. This will invariably hurt her with swing pro-life voters and raise questions about her moral compass.

If she takes the Wendy Davis and Allison Grimes route, and voices her opposition to late-term abortion, it would send tsunami shock waves through the pro-choice movement and the Democratic establishment. NARAL, NOW, Planned Parenthood et al. would be in full panic mode. The Left would be on the defensive, scrambling to craft sensible talking points on late term abortion that don’t repulse over 80% of the country. 

It’s time for conservatives and the GOP to go on the offensive: attack the Democrats’ extreme position on late term abortion, and watch them squirm.