Saturday, January 31, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
'Puter's not an economist, but does have some common sense. If spending borrowed dollars is what got us all into this mess, then spending borrowed dollars on an even bigger scale seems more likely than not to multiply our difficulties.
The Democrats claim that about one-third of the package is tax relief, but it's really just more thinly disguised welfare spending. The increase to the EITC gives people who pay no income tax more income tax dollars. The $500/$1,000 "rebates" are going to everyone, regardless of taxes paid. How is giving money from people who pay taxes to those who pay nothing supposed to stimulate spending by those that actually have money? It certainly makes 'Puter think the government's finally gone around the bend for good. If you want people, including particularly the working poor, to get money quickly, cancel the social security and Medicare taxes. Everybody gets more money, right away, and the government doesn't have to do much of anything.
And the spending portion of the bill is not even that great. Much of the outlays are for education, unemployment, government-paid health care and the like. None of this stimulates makers. It's direct payment to takers. This sort of spending is appropriate in an omnibus appropriations bill (assuming you are of a liberal Democrat bet), but it is exactly wrong if your intent is to stimulate the economy. None of the recipients of these funds have a positive, direct impact on the economy.
And the infrastructure spending portion is too slow to roll out, even though our infrastructure clearly needs work.
Here's hoping between now and the time the Senate gets done with this monster spending bill, it gets significantly better.
Spirit Airlines' stewardesses (air hostesses?) have a problem with their employer's ad campaign. Admittedly, it is a little over the top to advertise your airline's "double Ds" and "MILFs." But at least the airline's not turning you into inappropriate billboards. Wait a minute. Yes, it is. In the finest NASCAR tradition, Spirit is selling advertising anywhere it can think of. Enjoy your new Bud Light logoed drink aprons, ladies.
Hey, look on the bright side, ladies. Your employer could've had them embroidered with the "Got Milk?" logo instead.
*The post label is an inside Gormogons joke relating to the time 'Puter harmlessly referred to travel agents as "traveling whores" while sitting next to the much larger, stronger son of a travel agent. Hilarity did not ensue, at least not for 'Puter. The Volgi and GorT did enjoy the moment, however.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
“Interference of the State, the belief in the omnipotence of the State: that is a reaction to market failures,” Mr Putin said in his keynote address at the opening of the four-day meeting. “There is a temptation to expand direct interference of state in economy. In the Soviet Union that became an absolute. We paid a very dear price for that.”Ha.
Via John McCormack.
- A total lack of a North Korea policy.
- Neglect of the navy in the face of a Chinese build-up. (Aircraft carriers are pure force-projection platforms—there’s nothing defensive about them.)
Notwithstanding reports that all economists are now Keynesians and that we all support a big increase in the burden of government, we the undersigned do not believe that more government spending is a way to improve economic performance. More government spending by Hoover and Roosevelt did not pull the United States economy out of the Great Depression in the 1930s. More government spending did not solve Japan’s “lost decade” in the 1990s. As such, it is a triumph of hope over experience to believe that more government spending will help the U.S. today. To improve the economy, policymakers should focus on reforms that remove impediments to work, saving, investment and production. Lower tax rates and a reduction in the burden of government are the best ways of using fiscal policy to boost growth.
Poor Dr. Johnson to be dragged into all this, but the quote is appropriate...
Original @ Cato.
And they shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you
out of the field:
And they shall fill thy houses, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians; which neither thy fathers, nor thy fathers' fathers have seen, since the day that they were upon the earth unto this day. And he turned himself, and went out from Pharaoh.
More folks are catching on to the truth behind Volgi's diatribe(s) about Boomers here and here, notably Tigerhawk here and Victor Davis Hanson here.
Maybe a dental care stimulus plan would help the country feel better.
* Bad British teeth allusions are low hanging fruit, but the old jokes are like comfort food in these trying times.
"To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect," President Barack Obama said in his inaugural. But in truth, the new way forward is a return to realpolitik and business as usual in America's encounter with that Greater Middle East. As the president told Al-Arabiya television Monday, he wants a return to "the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago." …And, of course, the Volgi is happy to see him state the Fallacy of Foreign-Policy Egocentrism:
The irony now is obvious: George W. Bush as a force for emancipation in Muslim lands, and Barack Hussein Obama as a messenger of the old, settled ways. Thus the "parochial" man takes abroad a message that Muslims and Arabs did not have tyranny in their DNA, and the man with Muslim and Kenyan and Indonesian fragments in his very life and identity is signaling an acceptance of the established order. Mr. Obama could still acknowledge the revolutionary impact of his predecessor's diplomacy, but so far he has chosen not to do so.
This war was never a unilateral American war to be called off by an American calendar. The enemy, too, has a vote in how this struggle between American power and radical Islamism plays out in the years to come.Read the whole thing.
A commenter (dag, E.K.!) e-mails that we are too hard on President Obama and have whitewashed the enormities and foibles of President Bush. Our position: we started this blog after all the Bush controversies were long settled into obsessive partisan mantra-chanting. They bore us.
Buuuuuut, along comes this story to remind me afresh of the utterly ineffectual, nigh-catastrophic nuclear diplomacy we have conducted with Iran and North Korea.
So let me just state once and for all, the Bush Administration, from Powell to Rice, the NSC, and our entire diplomatic establishment might as well have put their feet up and watched soap operas, for all the good their work did on these fronts. (As they themselves likely know better than anyone. You could make a fortune on the Tums® concession at the Six-Party Talks.)
The only rogue states which backed off WMD proliferation were Pakistan—because they had to—and Libya— because Qaddafi got scared. The rest—including, incidentally, China and Russia—are at it as ever.
Take this as an indictment of American “soft power” in the age of Bush or a useful reminder of the limits of diplomacy. Your call.
Caption: conservative estimate of the range of the Shahab-5 or -6 missile [a Taepodong-2 variant], if the Iranians have it working. (LET OP, E.K.!)
Obama’s magic egg.
Let’s all hope this is a put-on, but if it’s not… you know, it’s not the silly instantization of the proverb from the land where P.J. O'Rourke sourced Hillary's book title, the ancient African kingdom of Hallmarkcardia, that bugs me. It’s the taste. Obama dresses great, his family usually looks terrific, and his campaign had a distinctive, attractive visual sense.
And this thing is just… tacky beyond belief. Uglier than yo’ proverbial momma. Something you’d find in a yard sale in 1981 or on the mantle of the guy who got rich off Mork & Mindy.
When it shows up on the dollar bill, I’ll be in Bamako.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Want to take this one step further? Many of these energy efficient items cost more to make and use more energy to make (hence the higher costs). So now, we, as a country, are investing in more energy usage and costs when the goal is (to some) to reduce usage or (to others) be smart about energy usage.
A short tangent along these lines - if we only had a little patience, the LED (Light Emitting Diode) will likely show up as a household lighting option (pictured left). There have been some technical hurdles to overcome which many have been recently. The benefit? Better energy usage, no mercury and reasonable costs for lighting. But much like a dusting of snow or sleet in the DC area and you have panic in the streets and this urgency, akin to the rush to stock up on milk, toilet paper and bread, promulgated by the media to buy CFLs when better options aren't that far off.
When will the American public wake up and see the ridiculousness of this Congress and take them to task for their gross idiocy?
Monday, January 26, 2009
President Obama is proposing to revisit the Bush Administration's refusal to allow individual states to regulate tailpipe emissions. Thirteen states had proposed to do so. This means that automakers would have to either build different cars for each of these states, or build one car that meets the strictest regulations. This will be expensive for the car makers that survive this socialist meddling (guessing each year what the most restrictive state will require) and for the consumers (some requirements will likely be cost prohibitive, cutting lower earners out of the car market altogether).
Buy your cars now, as this may be the death knell for some of the Big Three, with the concomitant loss of the entire taxpayer investment therein.
Thanks, Elected Betters!
People will be hearing about "multipliers" when the stimulus package is discussed. Quite simply put, it's a measure of how much money (our money) the government is putting into various programs (hopefully aimed at stimulizing the economy) and what the estimate return would be. For example, a 1.5 multiplier for investment option A means that for each dollar the government infuses, the economy yields $1.50 in output - this is a Keynesian concept. Robert Barro, a Harvard economist explains here why this is a failed measure - there is little empirical evidence that these multipliers or the numbers that the Obama Administration are using (reportedly around 1.5) are accurate.
To be effective, the stimulus plan needs to be immediate - it needs to affect investors now. Not in 2010 or later as much of the current bill's plan will do according to a CBO report. This report has been pulled from the Congressional website and is under heavy attack by democrats on the hill. This is amusing as the CBO is largely run by democrats, so it's not painting a pretty picture. Clearly, the stimulus plan is flawed. Read more here.
So where does this leave President Obama and how can I claim he's going to come out a winner? He's demonstrated that he's trying to bridge the divide between republicans and democrats by inviting republican leadership to the White House to discuss. Ok, "bipartisianship". Check. He's trying to push forward something to address the economic problems we're facing. Ok, "leadership". Check. If it fails and it comes to light how bad the bill is and the general public starts figuring out the flaws in multipliers and pork laden stimulus bills and the delay between the bill and recovery, President Obama can point to Speaker Pelosi (who is pushing this bill hard) and let her take the fall. Ok, "teflon shield in place, sacrificial goat identified". Check. A little spin with help from the Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermanns of the media and he's good to go. And what will he have truly done? Not much more than his C.V. suggests - "present". Hopefully, we taxpayers won't be the ones with eggs on our faces at the end.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
QUESTION: Robert, how can you say the executive order on Guantanamo Bay -- you can say clearly made America safer today, when it doesn't seem like you really have a plan yet about where the detainees are going to go?
GIBBS: Well, one of the -- I think one of the things that the commission and one of the things that the executive orders does is begin the process whereby the current administration can examine what exactly is going on and who exactly is there. ...
That's why I was careful in saying that the process by which this will undertake over the course of up to one year will determine, as Greg laid out, who's involved in what status of detainee, which group that they're involved in, and ultimately study how best to -- to deal with them in a way that protects our country, protects our values, and administers justice.
QUESTION: So these are terror suspects, and the American people are hearing, "Washington's going to study it." They're going to find out for a few more months, what are we going to do with these detainees? So what...
GIBBS: Well, it is day two. ...
QUESTION: No, but he was talking about it on the campaign for months, on Guantanamo Bay.
QUESTION: But the bottom line is that you've been talking about it -- the president talked about it on the campaign trail. People have studied this for a long time. And you're now signing the executive order without a plan for where the detainees will be. What assurances can you give the...
GIBBS: No. No, we've signed an executive order to establish the plan for what happens.
QUESTION: But what assurance can you give the American people that these detainees just won't wind up out on the streets, won't go back to their home countries and launch new terror attacks?
GIBBS: I can assure them that that -- all of -- all of what you just enumerated will be undertaken and studied as part of a commission to look into these very complex, very detailed questions.
Honestly, I can't see how anyone can objectively watch that press conference and think that this was anything but amateurish.
Case in point #2: Can Obama handle the "grilling"? It's only going to get harder:
During his first visit down to the White House Press Room, President Obama was asked how he could reconcile a strict ban on lobbyists in his administration with a deputy defense secretary nominee who lobbied for Raytheon, Obama interrupted with a knowing smile on his face.
"Ahh, see," he said, "I came down here to visit. See this is what happens. I can't end up visiting with you guys and shaking hands if I'm going to get grilled every time I come down here."
Pressed further by the Politico reporter about his Pentagon nominee, William J. Lynn III, Obama turned more serious, putting his hand on the reporter's shoulder and staring him in the eye.
"Alright, come on" he said, with obvious irritation in his voice. "We will be having a press conference at which time you can feel free to [ask] questions. Right now, I just wanted to say hello and introduce myself to you guys - that's all I was trying to do."
(Photo courtesy of AP)
…For those who were born too late and therefore are under the impression that the Seventies was a gloriously innocent time of day-glo colored discoball party fun fun fun, that decade was actually when the American character was sunk in neurotic depression. We ran from Vietnam like a bunch of scared big girls. The economy sucked. Cynicism and selfish, destructive behavior was rampant. Cars were hideous junk painted ugly “earth tones” like crap brown, condensed-milk yellow, ketchup-stain red, and garbage can green. (My father’s giant boat of a ‘73 Ford LTD was that color. Driving it was like trying to pilot the Hindenburg on the ground.) Fashions made men and women look like clowns. (Two words: plaid pantsuits.) The divorce rate, the drug-crime rate, the venereal disease rate — everything bad went up. The idea of the psycho vet helped trash the military in the eyes of the civilian public. And when Carter became president the fan that the shit had been hitting got turned up to high. We became known as a nation of weak, effeminate suck-ups. That’s why the Iranians were able to take our embassy hostage for a year.…Read the whole thing to find out what how the stuff I replaced with ellipses ties it in to current events.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Mr. Hanks does not back down from his contention that Mormons hold a wrong-headed, discriminatory belief (as does 'Puter according to Mr. Hank's definition), but recognizes the right of Mormons to vote their conscience as an American principle. Mr. Hanks also implicitly calls for respectful dialogue on this, and other contentious topics.
Not that Mr. Hanks is a regular reader of The Gormogons, but, if you're reading Tom, good for you for admitting your error and calling for civil discourse. To do so is an honorable thing, too rare these days.
'Puter knows where he's going on his next vacation.
'Puter awaits the inevitable fatwa from Kap'n Krazy McHook declaring 'Puter a son of apes and pigs, and declaring open season on him. And ahoy there to you, too, my crazy Muslim matey.
'Puter doesn't know much about Rep. Gillibrand aside from the bare facts laid out in the linked New York Post article: she's a mom of two, NRA-backed, against TARP, recommended by Sen. Chuck Schumer and abhorred by the liberal Downstate Democrat establishment.
The fact that her appointment has infuriated the liberal establishment Downstate is the best 'Puter could have hoped for in a Paterson appointment. Here's hoping she lives up to the hype.
And Albany is not really Upstate, except to those NYC dwellers who think everything north of Yonkers is Upstate. Because Albany's sole remaining reason for existence is state government, and the state government is run by Downstaters, Albany's more like North Manhattan. At least to those of us actually living Upstate.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
'Puter knows the press has been hard on Kennedy, but her media experience is second to none! No other United States Senator has ever been an MTV VJ, much less a female VJ! The media distrust must be because of the pink Republican elephant Kennedy allegedly has tattooed on her upper left thigh.
Gov. Paterson, end the politics of personal destruction. Appoint Kennedy anyway. 'Puter doesn't want to live in a state where the woman once selected as the Most Hated MTV VJ by Rolling Stone "readers" can't be summarily installed in one of its most important statewide elected offices, against the will of a majority of the voting population!
Unless it means Gov. Paterson is now considering Martha Quinn for the vacancy. She's a hottie. For proof, see Mojo Nixon's tribute to Ms. Quinn's comeliness, Stuffin' Martha's Muffin'.
What? Gov. Paterson was to appoint Caroline Kennedy, not Kennedy Kennedy?
Headline of the day award goes to The Gormogons: "Paging Vernon Reid".We aim to please. And in gratitude, welcome to the Gormogons’ blogroll, Mr. D. Just don’t brag to the Freemasons…we can’t guarantee your safety.
Chrysler, which has received $4 billion in taxpayer bailout money (because God forbid we let shitty companies go bankrupt), recently announced plans to help underwrite Terminator Salvation for an undisclosed amount.To be fair, Chrysler can also lend the benefit of its experience: they can talk about living in Detroit, which is a dead ringer for Terminator’s post-nuke ruins.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I am proud of and excited by the fact that we have inaugurated the first black president of the United States. He wasn’t my first choice, but he is nonetheless my president. And if ever there were a wonderful consolation prize in politics, shattering the race barrier in the White House is surely it.And Steve adds:
Conservatives who try too hard to belittle the importance of this milestone are mistaken on several fronts. First, this is simply a wonderful—and wonderfully American—story. Any political movement that is joyless about what this represents risks succumbing to bitter political crankery.
Among the crowd were three black males -- and given the similarity of their looks, I took them to be three generations of the same family.Read both in full. They engage in an argument—a discussion, really, not a dispute—over what Obama’s election may mean for racial politics in America which is well worth thinking about. However, what I’d like to add is what an overwhelming relief the election of a black president is. America’s original sin, it has been noted ad infinitum nauseumque, was slavery, and its poison remained in our national bloodstream into the Jim Crow 1960s. Having exorcised institutional discrimination with a wicked vengeance (to the point where Jesse Jackson can cite some ginned-up statistics or some out-of-context tape about black jellybeans, and cha-ching), and culturally made race prejudice all but inexpressible, we’re probably near or at the farthest point that politics can actually take us.
I saw a grandfather old enough to have experienced the sting of real discrimination, a father old enough to know it and a grandson perhaps not even old enough to understand it. I caught only snippets of their conversation -- from everyday chatter about the mundane to what sounded like a more meaningful discussion of race. Really, though, I didn't need to hear what they were saying. Just their presence -- on this, for this occasion -- was deeply moving.
So, too, was the view I had about two hours later. My seat was #45 in the Section Two (green) on the West Front of the Capitol. I was directly behind the military band -- so close that I could read their sheet music -- and maybe forty feet from the podium. (And perhaps forty rows in front of Oprah Winfrey, who obviously didn't know the right people.) Given all that was in front of me -- the band, the podium, row after row of congressmen and senators, the Capitol itself -- it was ten minutes before I turned around. The view of the mall from the Capitol -- which really is on a hill -- was breathtaking. It certainly felt like a once-in-a-lifetime moment.
Not to say it shouldn’t continue to be stigmatized, but what bigotry remains is probably ineradicable—given the numbers of bigots among blacks, hispanics, Asians, American Indians, etc., it’s probably fair to say that white bigots are fellow captives of the universal human tendency to hate and fear the other tribe over the hill. White bigots, at this point, may be like those who believe Elvis is still with us: impervious to reason or persuasion. Given that we’ve legally prohibited acting on that bigotry in hiring, lending, etc., it’s not obvious what more can be done. Human nature will always be with us, and therefore, so will bigotry, alas. New Soviet Men or the Herrenvolk are not in the offing, and people seem to have learned that lesson, thank God.
No compassionate person can fail to sympathize with someone who’s felt the sting of bigotry—or any other manifestation of hatred or injustice. But trying to legislate universal love among men is a non-starter. (Or so I’d hope.)
Having reached this point, then, America has elected a black president. (We likely would have in ’96 if Alma Powell had been with the program. Of course, as a Republican, Gen. Powell wouldn’t have counted. His immigrant parents would have made him somehow inauthentic, alien to the real Black Experience.) Will this mean the end of racial problems? Probably not. A race-conscious society is going to have race-related issues, some of which will become problems. Will this mean the end of racial quotas, affirmative action, and the like? Maybe eventually, but I doubt it’ll be any time soon. Will it mean a revolution in black America’s thinking? The end of the hip-hop outlaw (what scholars call the “Bad N—r” archetype in black folk literature) as preeminent role model? The end of stigmatizing “acting white?” The realization that there’s no opportunity closed to black Americans? The fragmentation of the black vote out of the Democratic ghetto (following ethnic Catholics post-JFK)? Maybe. But culture evolves slowly, and it’d be a sucker bet to count on any of that happening in the next four—or even ten—years.
What I think the election of a black man—even an African-American, in the literal sense, rather than the descendant of American blacks—betokens, however, is a long-overdue and hugely welcome pause in racial attitudinizing. We can all exhale. Blacks can puff out their chests in pride that one of their coethnics is the most powerful man in the world. Whites can expect to hear the “America is a racist country” libel less—or have a blindingly obvious counter-argument. Other ethnic groups may become persuaded that if a black American can become president, their own coethnics, not having faced a fraction of the oppression of black Americans, may have a greater shot than they’d previously thought.
The race industry, in all its black, white, and intermediate hues, won’t go away any time soon. But its pleas will be cast in a much colder, clearer, realistic light. What is the state of race relations in America? It seems to be pretty damn good by any historic (or global) standard. But let’s look at it, as calmly and objectively as we can.
The one group that’s likely to be obstreperous and problematic is white liberals (particularly of the Baby Boom generation and older), for whom blacks—and particularly President Obama—serve mascots through which they demonstrate their own virtue. They need dark-skinned people to save, to show that they’re not Mr. Charlie. They're the Great & Good, and they need an enemy and an object of their infinite beneficence. So they’re going to have a hard, hard time letting go of the cult of St. Barack of Punahou. Juan Williams, in the article that Ghettoputer cites below, underestimates this factor, I think. The emotional investment that white liberals—especially journalists and academics—have in Obama is so big that I don’t believe they’ll be able to rationally disengage and treat him as just another pol.
If he does not succeed—indeed, if he is not the greatest president of our lifetimes—they will necessarily ascribe it to the ancient enemy: evil white racists. Imaginary evil white racists—because if evil white racists are powerful enough to destroy the President of the United States, they’re damn well powerful enough to keep a black man out of the Oval Office in the first place. If the press cocoon Obama in positive coverage, the irony is, of course, that they will likely contribute (perhaps decisively) to his failure by denying him the real-world feedback he’ll need to govern successfully.
What does Obama’s presidency mean for race relations? Something good—very good, I think, by the mere fact of it—but something the most profound effects of which may take a generation or more to be manifested. Obama himself could slow the effects by advocating increasing race-based “solutions” to problems, but even were he to, I don’t think it could conceivably refute the brute fact that he, Mr. Race & Inheritance, was the President.
So in the meantime, Americans of all colors should—for whatever reason they’ve got—enjoy the good feeling of seeing a black man taking the ultimate seat of power and popularity in a land where Africans were once chattel. Jonah, Steve, and the Gormogons are all just old enough that when we were born, it would have been impossible for the most saintly, brilliant, and charismatic black man in America to be elected president. But it’s come to pass (even if Obama has, unfortunately, been painted as the most SB&CBMiA, building unrealistic expectations of him), and even our post-Civil-Rights-Act generation feels the weight of some really awful history lift—from all Americans.
Recent immigrants may not understand this, but for those of us whose families have been here long enough to be deeply entangled in that most American of quandries—“the Race Question,” as it was portentously put—it’s a huge relief and joy. Black Americans in particular are rightly elated, and it’s a damn well-earned elation. Anyone who says otherwise is oblivious to American history. Even those of us who are profoundly opposed to race-conscious solutions have always had a bit of a “yeah, but” for blacks (and to a slightly lesser degree, Indians) simply because their historic plight was so manifestly unjust and, more importantly, had such profound and deleterious effects (not just on blacks—even many good, well-meaning whites’ attitudes became deeply deformed as well). Race neutrality must be the ultimate goal in the American Republic—and will be the ultimate guarantor of black success—but pleas for special treatment for the descendants of slaves have always had a unique resonance. We can all hope that President Obama’s election may well mean those pleas may become less frequent and impassioned and their resonance fainter.
Obama’s election, then, is powerful evidence that the real narrative of America is not the legacy of slavery, but the ability of this great, sloppy, fractious, maddening, creedal nation to overcome something as massive and evil as that. And that ought to make you smile.
Mr. Williams is quickly becoming 'Puter's favorite National Public Radio correspondent, and maybe his second favorite Fox News contributor after Greg Gutfeld. Though uncertain of Mr. Williams' political bent, 'Puter has been impressed with Mr. Williams' thoughtfulness and intellectual honesty, amply displayed here.
Here's to hoping the press takes Mr. Williams' advice.
Mr. Meyerson in this column states emphatically that President Obama's address is the death knell for both the Reagan and the Bush eras. Oh, and in case you missed it, President Obama is Jesus. Seriously. Not only is President Obama the "word ... made flesh," [ed -- John 1:14] President Obama also preached that the "'last shall be first'" [ed -- Matthew 20:16]. 'Puter's intrigued that suddenly it's OK (according to Democrats) for Americans including Mr. Meyerson to find Messianic religious significance in our politics, so long as the purported Messiah is a Democrat favorite. If this is to be the sort of insightful analysis that will be offered by our "independent" press during the Obama Administration (President Obama = Jesus, so cease all criticism of The One), 'Puter fears for the health of our Republic generally, and for the mental health of Mr. Meyerson specifically.
Ms. Dowd, after rambling about The Day the Earth Stood Still, incoherently babbles about the Inauguration, including President Bush's departure from Washington, seeing Beyonce and Jay-Z looking on proudly, the oath butchery, Rastafarians and public euphoria. All she left out was the requisite quasi-biblical "the lion shall lay down with the lamb" language[popular misquote of Isaiah 11:6], and she'd be right up there with Mr. Meyerson's moonbattery.
'Puter looks forward to commentary on the Obama Administration that does not depend upon Bush bashing as its primary support. Unfortunately for Ms. Dowd and Mr. Meyerson's argument style, they will not have George W. Bush to blame anymore, and will have to rely on that most difficult of concepts: logical coherence.
This is welfare, plain and simple, no matter what fancy, innocuous sounding acronym Congress attaches to it. And not even good welfare. Welfare should be for those who are unable to support themselves, not those who are unwilling to do so. Welfare should make up the difference between a family's (however you choose to define it) wages and the poverty level, not pay them for doing nothing. And government should certainly not be providing welfare benefits to those who are not poor.
This focus on extending welfare benefits to the non-poor has been at the heart of New York's stunning collapse, as its Medicaid program costs more than that of Texas and California combined. According to the WSJ editorial, New York's threshold for SCHIP benefits is 400% of the poverty level. Now we are seeking to replicate New York's error at the national level.
'Puter can hear the do-gooders now. "You heartless bastard, it's for the children!" And 'Puter replies that children are the last refuge of those without a rational supporting argument.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
If I may.
Dirk, here are the facts. I know these will sting, but they boil down thusly:
(a) Your version of Battlestar Galactica was a godawful wreck of bad acting, featuring weekly has-beens scrabbling for another few minutes of face time, and over-extended cliched scripts. Come to think of it, all your show needed was Gopher and it would be The Love Boat in space. The new version is bleak, confusing, shocking, and resourceful: much like modern news. Now, things happen for a reason, and the outcomes are not necessarily what we intended or wanted, and may take more than 60 minutes to realize. Each week, the new BG makes it very clear that you will be surprised by the outcome, but usually never disappointed. In the new show, a major character may be killed, possibly for horrifying reasons, and everything unravels chaotically because of that. Whereas in your show, you teach a group of children how to take down an allegedly reinforced enemy base by teaching them a 40-minute poem and once taught a Cylon how to gamble. Oh, and no doubt you're irate over how they re-engineered Muffy the dog's character into oblivion.
(b) For all your ironic posturing in your essay, your portrayal of a loveable rogue as a smirking, cigar-chomping wiseass with an implied erection is exactly how a Hollywood suit would envision a loveable rogue. Dude, you were freaking Hawkeye Pierce. If you could put down your mirror, Faceman, you might look around at other shows of the same era and realize you are merely a clone of whatever role a union writer could steal. Yes, the suit who claimed you were one cigar away from being fired: what was his name? What day was that? What were his comments about the other actors? What decision-making role did he have in the series? I bet his name was George Glass—another Hollywood cliché you should look into.
(c) The world evidently owes a debt of gratitude to Dirk Benedict for all the brilliance he injected into his roles. Thank you for listing them, lest our own recollections might erroneously lead us to think you were a mediocre ham actor who couldn't break out of a couple family television supporting roles. Fortunately, you're also moving into the exciting world of the big screen, and will be recognized as an equal to Will Smith, George Clooney, or Leonardo di Caprio, who also did the same. You just need a little more time than they did. Decades, I gather. It makes one wonder if your character was transitioned not so much into a female, but into someone more memorable. I notice Katie Sackhoff actually has some big screen roles. Maybe not leading ones or great pictures, but even so... more than other portrayers of the Starbuck role.
(d) Richard Hatch, if you remember him—he had top billing over you in the old BG—was a ferocious critic of the new BG. He not only started lawsuits to stop the production, but even began working on his own re-imagined version intended to compete with the new show. Until they hired him to play what is undoubtedly the most sophisticated role he's ever done. And he's really good in it! Now, he's a huge fan of the show, and they even—allegedly—used some of his ideas in the last few seasons. How kewl is that?
I get that Starbuck was a loner and non-conformist, but that doesn't mean that Dirk Benedict needs to be. He is separate from his roles, right? All right, so they re-vamped the show and made it better. They took a stock, cliched character like Starbuck and added a little something (I believe that would be a third dimension) that intrigues the viewers. These things aren't your fault: you were a product of the time! You were exactly what ABC needed you to be: we take Hawkeye, a character CBS viewers like, and put him on The Love Boat, a show we do so well that we can use the same ideas and writers. That's not the Canadians' fault, is it?
By the way, Tigh's not black anymore, either. Didja notice that?
We wish soon to be President Obama the best. We support him because he is the duly elected leader of our country. We hope he can effectively address the many pressing needs of our country from the economy to trade to infrastructure to political corruption. We hope he works in a truly bipartisan manner. We hope he serves our country well.
It also bears repeating that we will point out, sometimes with humor and sometimes with sharp criticism, President Obama's failures and missteps with the intent of pointing President Obama in the correct direction. We Gormogons will always do so as loyal opposition, however, with an emphasis on the loyal. We promise not to fall victim to Obama Derangement Syndrome as many on the left fell victim to Bush Derangement Syndrome over the past 8 years.
May God bless our country, the last, best hope for individual freedoms, and her new President, Barack H. Obama.
[UPDATE: Red Eye's TV's Andy Levy offers a good set of rules for being a loyal, civil opposition. —ŒV]
In short, Hertzberg is one of that legion of individuals for whom the contest between political ideologies seems to have become reduced to a competition over education levels and IQs. According to one gratifying myth recently circulating in the blogosphere, the key difference between Democratic and Republican voters is their recorded level of intelligence. This is an odd argument to advance from the vantage point of the historic party of the poor and educationally deprived, you might think. But then, when it comes to arguments about presumed levels of intelligence, factual veracity and logical consistency often play a minor role.—David Burchell
Look into my eyes, what do you see? | The cult of personality
Via Mike Goldfarb.
This stuff is just creeping me out. Why? I'm not worried about the Republic (though if socialized medicine gets passed, we're Europe's glide path to oblivion), but the psychology is familiar and creepy. It's the urge to abandon the self to the charismatic leader. It goes way back to our being hunter-gatherers looking for the guy who can best take down a mammoth. But it needs to be suppressed if we're to be free citizens. Otherwise, even the best, most civilized people can slide into YES, WE CAN…be docile subjects.
YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES
My leader! We can only do one thing: We thank the leader! We say thank you, which is total love and unconditional loyalty! My leader! Wherever the path leads, we will follow! Hail, my leader! —Arthur Seyss-Inquart, Vienna, 15 March 1938
Grab the effing reins, people.
Monday, January 19, 2009
He's just a good ol' boy. Never meanin' no harm. Beats all you ever saw, been in trouble with the law since the day he was born.
GorT: let Unca Krizz run the still, dagnabit!
Fourteen young Indonesian men died after drinking a cheap, home-brewed alcoholic cocktail, police said Monday. The men, in their 20s and 30s, died after consuming a mix of 90 percent alcohol, vanilla, ginseng and honey, said police chief Benone Jesada in East Semarang, Central Java province. "They started drinking last Friday and started dying Saturday," he said, adding that another man was in critical condition at a local hospital. The seller has been detained for questioning by police who were trying to determine the precise cause of death. Sales of commercial alcohol are heavily taxed in Indonesia, the world's most-populous Muslim nation, making it too expensive for most people. The restrictions have resulted in a huge black market for wine and spirits.
Be careful what you brew.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
[i]t appears a bird strike was responsible for the thankfully-not-fatal A320 crash into the Hudson River.Like all things in life, we laugh because they're funny, and we laugh because they're true.
Now the birds are striking. Only in NYC would union birds risk killing 146 people.
Rep. Waxman (D-CA) is on a one man mission to hamstring industry and scuttle any hope of recovery in the near future. Our entire economy is dependent on burning fossil fuels. The only way to please Rep. Waxman is to return to a subsistence lifestyle and shut down our manufacturing capacity. We currently have no way to achieve an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in 40 years, and committing us to do so is (1) economic suicide or (2) a cynical ploy, as it is impossible to do so and maintain a functioning society.
The only current possible replacement for fossil fuels is nuclear power, something the Rep. Waxman's environmental co-religionists will never permit. To be fair, 'Puter thinks Rep. Waxman sincerely believes that he is acting in the best interest of his constituents and the country (and, likely, all of humanity and Mother Earth as well).
Unfortunately for us all, Rep. Waxman is a very powerful Democrat Congressional leader, in a Congress where Democrats have an enormous majority. It is likely that some sort of inanity that will hamper our recovery will be passed by Rep. Waxman and his ilk in the name of saving the environment.
First, we live in America, not the U.K., so we drive on the right. Correspondingly, we should walk on the right and, if needed, pass someone walking slower on the left. It is maddening to me to walk in a mall with hoi polloi* who are daydreaming, window-shopping and/or texting while walking (or trying to walk) about. Invariably, these folk are in the middle of the common walk area and causing the rest of us adhering to proper Mall Navigation Skills to slow in a frenzied mob behind them as we try to circumnavigate the offender. This only causes more chaos as any opening, left or right, will now suffice to pass this spacecadet. A quick summary of proper Mall Navigation Skills:
- Walk on the right with oncoming pedestrians passing you on the left. This is natural as you'll see escalators organized this way, for example.
- If you need to text someone, have an engaging cell phone call, admire the latest 'Puter Thong line at Victoria's Secret or zone out on some kid playing "Call of Duty 5000" in the windows - PULL OVER. Gently step to the right, closer to the windows and do so. If the shiny object that has caught your attention is on your left, wait for a break in oncoming traffic, cross through the pathway of the oncomers, and step close to the window or wall.
- Be courteous: allow people to exit first, holding the doors for them, if needed. It makes little sense to try to cram yourself into a place where people are trying to leave. Allow people to fully leave the elevator before boarding it. Placing your hand over the doorway is generally sufficient to stop the doors from closing and your precious ride from escaping. Relax.
* - for those wishing to bash my english, hoi means "the" in Greek, therefore, saying "the hoi polloi" as is frequently done, is equivalent to saying "the the many" .
Cardinal Martino is the former representative of the Holy See to the United Nations, and he now heads the Vatican’s Council for Justice and Peace—from which perch he recently commented, to an interviewer at Il Sussidiario, about the Israeli invasion of Gaza.The only thing I have to add are is that the bureaucracy of the Church is, at the top, staffed with old Europeans whose personal prejudices frequently color their statements. In these instances, they do not speak for the Church as the Church, but for the Church as institution, as polity, as terribly fallible, fallen, sinful, and pitiful.
“The consequences of this selfishness is hatred, poverty, injustice,” he explained. “Defenseless populations are always the ones who pay. Look at the conditions in Gaza: more and more, it resembles a big concentration camp.”
This will not do. Condemn the Israeli offensive as ill-advised, if you think it so. Denounce it as immoral, if you feel you must—although the moral case against Israel is harder to make, in just-war reasoning, and, in La Repubblica, Martino did apparently try to offset his remarks by condemning the Hamas rocket attacks that provoked the Israelis.
But the deliberate invocation of the Holocaust—the use of a loaded phrase such as “concentration camp”—is worse than wrong-headed. For that matter, it’s worse than choosing up sides in the battle between Hamas and Israel.
What it is, really, is stupid, and it can only serve to worsen the already dangerously strained relations between Catholics and Jews.
How does Martino think the Vatican will be able to influence the behavior of Israel if Jews around the world are convinced a senior Vatican official has equated Gaza and the Holocaust?
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Ricardo Montalban will greet our collective plane no more with his evil midget sidekick. Who will now cause William Shatner to scream "Khan!" as he chews the scenery? 'Puter will have no further opportunity to sample Mr. Montalban's "fine Corinthian leather," if you get 'Puter's drift.
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.
* 'Puter knows that "eis" means "them" not "him," but 'Puter's grief at Mr. Montalban's death is too great to spend the time to properly decline the pronoun and make the correction. Apologizes to the classics scholars among our readers.
'Puter made the stunning realization (to him) that he's paying income tax on his OASDI and Medicare "withholdings." And by "withholdings" he means money he never receives and never has any discretion as to how it is spent. Sweet! 'Puter's being taxed on income that isn't income by any definition, except that of those jack-monkey pickle smugglers in the aforementioned governments, whose opinions (unfortunately) are the only ones that count.
After fuming for a while, 'Puter came to a new realization. Not only is he being taxed on phantom income, he'll be paying tax on the benefits that he's arguably "purchasing" now when (if) he starts receiving his OASDI and Medicare payments. The gubbamint's taxing on both ends. Again, sweet!
'Puter's 401k is only taxed when withdrawals are made. If 'Puter had a Roth IRA, there's no tax paid on withdrawal because it's only funded with after-tax dollars. See, gubbamint? You know how to do it when taxpayers are paying attention. Tax income ONCE only.
'Puter knows that many readers are far brighter than 'Puter and years ago realized this double taxation occurs. But it's news to 'Puter, and now 'Puter's irked! 'Puter's certain that President Elect Obama will remedy the inherent unfairness in the tax code. After all, it's change we can believe in.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
A three judge panel of the Washington Court of Appeals just held that so long as the student in question is 18, it's perfectly legal abuse your position of power in order to get your freak on with a subordinate.
Thanks, union stooges!
Ms. Ragan is 5 feet tall, and weighs in at 275 pounds. Ms. Ragan developed a spinal tumor, for which she needed an MRI. Normal MRI machines could not accommodate either her weight or her girth. Whose fault is this? Why, the MRI manufacturer's of course. Couldn't possibly be Ms. Ragan's inability to cease shoving calories in her food hole.
Money quote from the delightful Ms. Ragan: "They should have machines that fit most everybody." Uh, honey? They do have MRIs that fit most everyone. What you fail to realize is that at 5 feet, 275, you're not "most everyone;" you're an outlier on the human pudginess scale (BMI of 53.7, where BMI 30 is obese).
All 'Puter asks is that people recognize the facts as they are, not as they wish they would be. Apparently a bridge too far for Ms. Ragan.
* Not an actual photo of Ms. Ragan.
** 'Puter is also a Girthful American, so a preemptive shut yer yaps to all those who are on Ms. Ragan's side.
Behold! A (more or less) comprehensive list of all the female teachers who can't keep their hands off their charges, along with pictures of the aforementioned sexual predators!
And, check out one of Van Halen's most fun songs, Hot for Teacher, here.
And, as always, shout out to the unions for protecting these sex predators!
The much smarter John Lott has picked up on the topic here, and his post is far better than anything 'Puter could have put together.
Why should you care? Because even if you have sterling credit and a significant down payment for your first (or a subsequent) home, you'll be paying directly for those pinheads who abused the system and/or mismanaged their finances. That is, you'll be paying a significantly higher interest rate in order to compensate banks and their investors for the increased risk associated with home lending. Currently, banks must price in the risk of mortgage defaults, including foreclosure, property holding time and costs of property management. However, now banks will be required to assess accurately how a judge may rewrite a mortgage obligation in bankruptcy. Short answer, banks can't accurately gauge the risk. Therefore, you, the chump who follows the rules, will pay a whole lot more for your housing.
Thanks, hope and changey Congress!
Saturday, January 10, 2009
The Boomers hate Gen X because we're the kids who looked at them with the cold, wide eyes of children, saw who they were and didn't fall down in the worship they'd come to expect from their elders and peers, declaring that they were the Best Ever. The Real Greatest Generation, not those grotty old squares who fought in WWII, but the hip dudes who fought the Battle of Berkeley, the Siege of Cornell, and all the real victories of Rousseauvian wisdom against the stifling, stultifying, evil, plastic artifices of sclerotic, senile civilization.
We saw their smug faces, their drug-addled idiocy, listened to their overpraised, orgiastic dinosaur rock, watched their flipping off our grandparents who'd given them the world, and waded through all the rinds, roaches, and excrement they'd left in their wake.
We were never impressed. Least of all in their infinite capacity for Belief. In themselves, in whatever stupid bhagwan or guru was in town that week, in socialism, in yuppie fortunes, in utopia, in life eternal through the sacraments of botox and Cialis, and all the rest of the self-aggrandizing bullshit piled on the indestructible foundation of their own self-regard. They were not merely Great, they were Good. And we never gave them their due.
So, like Queen Elizabeth's attempt to save the monarchy by never abdicating in favor of her flaky, loose-cannon (Boomer) son, the Boomers have picked Gen Y as the inheritors of their legacy, and have done everything they can to cocoon them in Boomer mythology...CNN, college curricula, movies, TV, fashion.
"Wasn't it awesome to live through '70s when everything was so cool and free?" they ask—clad head-to-toe in bell-bottoms, knit hats, and the whole recycled spectrum of puke-greens, burnt-oranges, and shit-browns which stained the Sears catalogs of our youth—imagining a world unfettered by the bike helmets, car seats, speech codes, and political correctness which the Boomers have used to keep them "safe" all their lives.
And we, we whose vice is the opposite of the Boomers' capacious and indiscriminate credence—unbelief, cynicism, nihilism (our Lennon was Cobain, alas)—can only roll our eyes, knead our aching temples, and shake our heads. They're believers, the kids. Secure, happy, and trusting of authority in a way we couldn't imagine, growing up as the whole country went berserk around us, while divorce disintegrated our parents' marriages and we had to learn firsthand what scars "children of divorce" bear. Maybe, one day, perhaps via a tincture of age or disillusion, the Gen Y kids will save us all. But first, they're going to be the starry-eyed shock troops in this decade's neo-Progressive Great Awakening.
Of course the Boomers hate Gen X. They'll tell you why: they're garbed in glory, bedizened with hipness, and crowned with righteousness, and we're some snot-nosed kid on the sidewalk asking why they're stoned, naked, and syphilitic.
Friday, January 9, 2009
Thursday, January 8, 2009
His lord said to him: Well done, good and faithful servant: because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will place thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. —Matthew 23:25
What do you think the market for mortgage backed securities is going to look like tomorrow, geniuses? Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac just became more insolvent, as if that's possible. And anyone left holding mortgage backed securities or derivatives thereof just lost a substantial portion of their asset value.
What's a mortgage worth if the risk of a deflating housing market, interest rate shock, etc., lies solely with the lender and not the borrower?
If this is what's going to pass for economic policy from not just the upcoming Obama Administration, but also from the recently-nationalized large commercial banks, then to Hell with them all. 'Puter's stocking his bunker.
[Can we just call this the Eddie Griffin Memorial Mobile Televideo Technology? —ŒV]
'Puter has the perfect market-based solution for morons who phone/text/watch TV while driving, and then get into accidents. First, if you are in an accident, your cell phone records must be immediately released to the police, your insurer, and the insurer of the person you hit. If your cell phone showed activity at the time of the accident, it is a rebuttable presumption that you are 100% at fault for the accident. Additionally, if you were on the cell phone at the time of the accident, your insurer can exclude you from all coverage related to your physical or property injuries, but would still be required to reimburse the other person to the policy limits.
'Puter's genius policy allows government to say they've done something while actually loosening foolish insurance requirements, acknowledges grown-ups are free to make stupid choices (no nanny state here!) and holds the aforementioned stupids responsible for the consequences of their actions. A win-win-win if ever there was one.
This model works for smokers and health insurance as well. Smoked and got lung cancer? We'll provide palliative care only. Should've saved some of the dough you spent on smokes over the last thirty years.
ラプター! ラプター! ラプター!
If South Korea is really upset about this, they should take a deep breath and consider what they can do to improve the U.S.-ROK relationship from their side, which is where it's been largely driven into a ditch. And poor China? Ha.
Richard John Neuhaus, arguably the most important—and easily the most prolific—public intellectual on religious issues over the past two decades, is said to be on his death bed. Fr. Neuhaus (a Lutheran minister who converted to Catholicism) has done more to advance intelligent discourse about religion, secularism, and the proper relationship between the two. An associate of Martin Luther King, he crossed to the right some time after crossing the Tiber—or, perhaps, better said, like most neo-conservatives, the left went left and left him behind. He founded First Things, the leading journal of religious affairs in America—and probably the world. He authored numerous books, most famously The Naked Public Square.
His Death on a Friday Afternoon is a profound meditation on the Seven Last Words of Christ the Volgi has read more than once. Most personally affecting to me, perhaps, was the The Eternal Pity, a collection of meditations on death from various great writers and works of literature and scripture from various cultures. Stemming from his first encounter with potentially lethal cancer, the book is the least depressing, most comforting, most intelligent look at the inevitable fate we all share I’ve ever run across. His preface alone is worth the price of the book.
The Eternal Footman seems to be holding Fr. Neuhaus’s coat, and if, as Warren Zevon said, his ride is here, we pray for a good and easeful death for Father Neuhaus.
May he and all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Chicago public school bureaucrats skirted competitive bidding rules to buy 30 cappuccino/espresso machines for $67,000, with most of the machines going unused because the schools they were ordered for had not asked for them, according to a report by the CPS Office of Inspector General.Oh, and how’s that Obama-Ayers Annenberg Challenge workin’ out?