April 18, 2014
Alright, villains. Here is your next picture to snarkify.
Have at it.
And may the Farce be with you.
Let The Judgement Begin - The Tax Man Cometh edition
I gotta admit that at first I wondered whether or not the real tax man might have most of y'all's attention this week, but apparently a monkey stealing a hubcap is a nice distraction...or a Freudian fantasy, who knows.
But! I've old business to conduct, so a small reminder...
...and here come da judge..ment.
April 17, 2014
Why Is Most Of Nevada Federally Owned Land?
One of the first questions that leapt out at the Editorial Staff when the Bundy Brouhaha began driving pretty much everyone on the Internet batsh** insane was, "Why in the heck is so much of Nevada federal property"? It's not that we didn't realize that a good deal of Nevada was federally owned, but over 80% seemed a tad bit excessive. Over at Grim's place, we've been arguing over land ownership concepts in the comments to an excellent post by Texan99, who comments:
I'm not often on the fence, but I can't bring much order to my thoughts about Cliven Bundy's Nevada standoff with the feds. He's an unsympathetic victim fighting an appalling machine. His cause fails to inspire me, and yet the following sentiment rings quite a bell...
I was curious about how the present state of affairs came to be, so I did a little Googling and came up with this useful post:
Where did the Federal Public Lands Come From?
...In 1848, the United States, following the Mexican-American war, purchased the land of what is now the southwestern part of the country from Mexico and paid $15 million. Present day Nevada and California were a part of that purchase along with Utah, most of Arizona, and the western portions of Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico . By 1846 the United States had claimed the Oregon Territory -- modern day Washington, Oregon, and most of Idaho. The U.S. Army was called to defend the lands. The small population of these territories meant that the U.S. Army needed to draw its officers and soldiers from the established lands east of the Mississippi. Except for California, there were virtually no non-Indians in most of these lands. It was the U.S. government and the existing residents in the east who fought, purchased, and secured these lands for the United States.
...These purchases and claims by the people of the United States of western lands established federal ownership of those lands. Later as western states were admitted to the Union, State Constitutions acknowledged the federal role in acquiring the lands with the right and title to unappropriated public lands remaining with the United States. (Lands which had already been appropriated by private citizens or earlier granted from Mexico remained appropriated. Thus, the continuity of land owership for settlers remained intact.) Congress, then, has power over the public domain land and many laws passed by the Congress govern federal agencies responsible for management of the public land.
How did Settlement and Expansion Occur on the Federal Public Land ?
Laws were enacted by the Congress through the 19th and early 20th centuries to encourage the settlement of the western federal lands. Millions of acres of federal public lands were given to railroad companies to develop transportation routes and communities, to farmers and ranchers for agriculture, to miners for finding valuable minerals, and loggers for timber to build cities still in their infancy. The result was that most of the agricultural lands were appropriated directly from the Federal Government for private uses. Mineral wealth was appropriated for private uses directly from the Federal Government. Forested lands of high productivity were appropriated directly from the Federal Government for private uses. Federal Ownership was a key link in providing an orderly way for property to be acquired from both territories of the U.S. and from the states once admitted to the union.
We dimly remember learning some of this in US History classes in high school, but here's where things get really interesting:
How did Nevada differ in the Amount of Lands Acquired from the Federal Public Lands?
Upon admission states were given two sections of public land in each township for schools. Nevada, however, did not want those scattered "desert" lands. Instead Nevada petitioned Congress to trade those sections for 1 million acres of Sage land anywhere in the state. Congress ultimately granted Nevada a choice of any 2 million acres of unappropriated lands. Nevada selected 2 million acres of the best land (near or with water) and promptly sold all of it to private uses.
With the addition of a few facts and some history, this looks a whole lot less like evidence of Big Government Run Amok or oppression of helpless states and a lot more like a sensible scheme in which the federal government essentially made it possible for states to become established, attract settlers, and raise revenue.
Go figure. We were so hoping for a villain.
During our morning shower we had been idly wondering why no one had pressured the federal government to divest itself of all this glorious Nevadan land. Having lived in the desert a time or two, we suspected the answer might be something along the lines of, "No one wants it/no one is willing to pay the federal government for it."
Here's are two interesting maps. The first one shows the land ceded by Mexico to the US under the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo:
The second shows how much federally owned land currently exists in each state:
The interesting takeaway here to us is that a fairly frequent narrative on the right - that the states created the federal government, not the other way around - doesn't appear to be terribly accurate. We've been surprised (and somewhat horrified) at some of the arguments this case has provoked on the right, as well as at the power of a narrative to shape public opinion.
There are aspects of this case that powerfully appeal to the emotions. But we can't bring our ownself to endorse the notion that a private citizen operating a for-profit business has any kind of inalienable right to use publicly or privately owned lands free of charge. Nor does such an individual possess the right to pay a non-owner of the land (state or local government) monies properly due to the actual owner of the land (the federal government). But of all the things we've read, this excerpt from the last link in Tex's post best captures our position:
When can one refuse to obey the law without expecting to bring the whole thing down? Certainly such instances exist: I daresay that I would not stand idly by quoting John Adams if a state reintroduced slavery or herded a religious group into ovens or even indulged in wholesale gun confiscation. But Bundy’s case is not remotely approaching these thresholds. Are we to presume that if the government is destroying one’s livelihood or breaking one’s ties with the past, one can revolt?
The widely expressed opinion that to disapprove of any act of civil disobedience somehow equates to saying that no one may revolt or rebel, ever, no matter the provocation simply doesn't make any sense. It's the mother of all slippery slope arguments. The Founders clearly understood this, or they would not have written these words:
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security...
When the federal government, as the lawful owner of real property, defends its right to dispose of that property as it will, this is not absolute Despotism. It's not even close.
We should take care with arguments that suggest property rights exist subject to claims by an individual that he or she is entitled to valuable goods, services, or access without obtaining permission from or providing compensation to the rightful owner. If we endorse such specious claims, what separates us from the Occupy crowd?
April 16, 2014
Best. Op Ed. Ever.
By Bret Stephens of the WSJ. It was difficult to choose a favorite part to excerpt but we'll settle for this:
...what we need as the Republican nominee in 2016 is a man of more glaring disqualifications. Someone so nakedly unacceptable to the overwhelming majority of sane Americans that only the GOP could think of nominating him.
This man is Rand Paul, the junior senator from a state with eight electoral votes. The man who, as of this writing, has three years worth of experience in elected office. Barack Obama had more political experience when he ran for president. That's worked out well.
Or perhaps this:
When moderation on a subject like immigration is ideologically disqualifying, but bark-at-the-moon lunacy about Halliburton is not, then the party has worse problems than merely its choice of nominee.
The Halliburton jackwagonry worries us far less than the experience issue. We seem to have utterly lost the notion that the presidency of the United States is not an internship or an OJT opportunity for telegenic demagogues with no track record and no relevant experience.
Perhaps what we really need is some kind of Dancing with the Stars-type show. Or maybe we could elect our senior leaders via Facebook and the aptly-named Twitter. This wouldn't necessarily be any more insane than our current process.
What Fools These "Adults" Be
Via V the K over at GayPatriot comes this delightful bit of didactical dimwittery (complete with misspellings!):
Part of a Sex Education Conference for Middle Schoolers brought to you by the State of Oregon and Planned Parenthood*
When did sex ed morph from education about how our bodies work and the simple mechanics of birth control, pregnancy, and plumbing to actively encouraging kids to can have more (and better) sex with more people?
The Editorial Staff are always torn on sex ed. On the one hand, most parents do a really lousy job of educating their own kids about the basics. Based on various conversations here at VC, we're not even sure most parents discuss the morals and ethics issues in any depth. So we are inclined to view sex ed as a good thing, so long as what is taught is factual in nature. People should understand how their own bodies work. We learn about frog anatomy, so human anatomy doesn't seem like inappropriate area of study. Girls should not reach adolescence without knowing the basics about menstruation and pregnancy. Likewise, having witnessed the turbulence puberty brought to our two sons' lives, we're inclined to think that leaving kids unprepared for the profound changes adolescence brings to their bodies and minds is just inexcusable.
Oddly, many conservatives have no problem with morals or values being brought into sex ed... so long as they are their morals or values. The push for abstinence education is a good example of this. And admittedly, abstinence is more appropriate for kids than pretending sex is some kind of morality-and-consequences-free zone.
Sex is something most adults don't handle terribly well. How or why anyone would expect children to handle it better than we do is one of those mysteries that passeth human understanding. Like most erstwhile "adult" activities, sex has significant risks associated with it (pregnancy, STDs, social stigma, bonding to the wrong person) that require both self control and thoughtful mitigation. Regardless of your values, seeing "adults" portray sex as just another inconsequential pastime that is just as appropriate for teens as it is for adults is - or ought to be - deeply disturbing.
But bringing vendors into the moral education aspect of sex ed seems downright perverse. Aren't for-profit corporations and Big Pharma supposed to be evil, heartless exploiters of the weak and disempowered? If so, why would any self respecting progressive let them within a mile of their kids?
April 14, 2014
Caption Contest - The Tax Man Cometh Edition
All right, villains. Here is your next picture to snarkify.
Have it! And may the Farce be with you.
April 12, 2014
Let The Judgement Begin - April Fool's Double Secret Probation Edition
Well, that was fun. Unkle Joe and company never fail to bring out the smartass in all of you. Granted, they so deserve it...
So, a small reminder of our first April Fools...
...and we're off like a herd of turtles with old business and the judgement.
Kicking it off is htom at number three with - I was this close to Koni!
afe finds himself in second for - . . . and then I was all like "You better get of Crimea, Vladimir, or there will be GRAVE CONSEQUENCES!", and you should have seen him quake with fear when he saw I meant bidness.
And YAG wins this first Double Secret Probation judgement (it may give him immunity at some point in the future for something I'm not sure of....orrr it may not) for -
DWS: Then I told him is payment would go down by *this* much?
BO: And he bought it? Those rubes will believe anything!
Well done, gentlemen! (And I use the term loosely.)
Hey pretty baby, doncha know it's not my fault
Love to hear the steel belts humming on the asphalt...
Usually the Blog Princess does not remember her dreams upon waking. Given some of the dreams she has had over the past week, that is probably a good thing.
But this morning she woke out of a very deep sleep and remembered everything. She was walking up the side of an enormous sand dune in the desert. As far as the eye could see, there was nothing but hard packed sand with those little s-shaped curves carved into the surface by the wind.
It was sunny and warm. From where I stood near the top of the biggest dune, I could see for miles and miles. A few of the other dunes had someone standing on them too. They were so far away they looked like specks.
I was dressed in white Elvis suit, and as I walked slowly to the top of the dune every so often a wolf would make a run at me, snarling and snapping. Obviously, there was only one sane course of action: I began to do the Twist. Just as the wolf got near I would freeze in mid-twist with both fingers pointing at him.
Wolves find this sort of thing very disconcerting...
I think it's the sunglasses. They don't like it when they can't see your eyeballs.
This Is Cool
The first of four total lunar eclipses will begin the night of Apr. 14th for North America, who will be sitting in the catbird seat for this event.
And will last into the early hours of the 15th...tax day for most of America....kohh-inky-den-tally, this moon is traditionally called a Blood Moon.
As if there would be any other kind for that day.
At 3:06 a.m. EDT, the eclipse will reach totality, but sunlight bent by our atmosphere around the curvature of the Earth should produce a coppery glow on the moon. At this time, the moon, if viewed with binoculars or a small telescope, will present the illusion of seemingly glowing from within by its own light.
Throughout history, eclipses have inspired awe and even fear, especially when total lunar eclipses turned the moon blood-red, an effect that terrified people who had no understanding of what causes an eclipse and therefore blamed the events on this god or that.
Somehow I don't think it'll be the moon that'll be instilling the most fear on that day, although it may indeed be an omen.
April 09, 2014
Apparently, Pep comics has decided that it's time to kill off Archie.
Now I, like Basil over at IMAO, was never much of a comic book reader. However, Archie comics were one that I did read with more regularity than any other, even going so far as having an Archie lunchbox to carry to school.
So this is a somewhat poignant moment for the Dark Side. However, not poignant enough as to not shamelessly "borrow" Basil's game.
So, were you to choose a comics character to kill off, which one would it be?
A Quick Note
The Princess came through surgery just fine. The proceedure went as expected without any complications or surprises for the surgeon. She is home resting and sleeping.