Archive for July, 2009

Cash for Clunkers Going Broke

Friday, July 31st, 2009

The Other McCain told me all about it last night, and this morning it’s burning up the news wires. Real life continues to play out like a free-of-charge “Palin in 2012″ commercial:

In one of those fiendishly stupid examples of liberal logic that will be cited in Econ 201 texts for decades to come — typing is difficult when I’m laughing so hard — “Cash for Clunkers” is broke:

The program…was supposed to expire at the end of October. But in the one week since it took effect, it appears to have run dry of the $1 billion allocated to it…

Lots more at NTCNews.com, including a post from the Cato Institute’s Chris Moody, reminding us that Cato senior fellow Alan Reynolds figured out six weeks ago how to game the system: Trade clunker for crappy new econobox, collect fed bonus, sell econobox, add that to your bonus — congratulations, you’ve got the purchase price for a classic V-8 ’67 Impala or a second-hand SUV!

I’m reminded of something P.J. O’Rourke once said, in regard to “affordable housing”: Every time the government promises to give you something for nothing, imagine the result if you tried this yourself. You’d quickly find yourself with a severe shortage of something and a whole lot of nothing.
:
Clever libertarians now hot-rodding around in their ’65 Mustangs and ’71 Camaros are no doubt very grateful to…the taxpayers who paid the tab.

Two flaws are exposed here, but few people will learn anything from this because these are flaws that have been exposed before.

One:

A crisis creates a news story. A program created to confront the crisis creates another news story. The program inevitably runs into another crisis, which creates yet another news story. The people who make money off of running news stories are supposed to be unbiased and objective with regard to everything, but nobody ever seems to ask them what their thoughts are about crises. We further presume the people who make money running news stories have little or no effect on public policy. And yet — things continue to be done this way. Crisis, program, program, crisis.

Two:

Once upon a time I was placed in proximity to a liberal who didn’t know he was a liberal. Actually this has happened to me many-a-time. This guy, however, was an interesting case study because he readily ‘fessed up, in so many words, that he didn’t believe in supply-and-demand. As in, prices go up when more people line up to purchase something, and more people line up to purchase something when the price goes down…pay people to do something you get more of it…tax them on something, you get less of it…he refused to allow such thoughts into his head. Wouldn’t even consider them. With regard to progressive income taxes, gas prices, anything.

Needless to say, he and I often failed to find agreement on what would be the wisest course of action with regard to this problem or that problem. And naturally, that was all my fault. I suppose this is to be expected: People who refuse to consider all sides of equations that involve human behavior, are never responsible for anything. Any disagreement anywhere is an unworkable conflict — another crisis — and disagreement is always the result of the other guy not doing the right things.

I don’t know if this is lack of knowledge, or a bristling ego, or both. I don’t even know if that matters. I suppose it does; we should find out why there are people who think this way, that economic consequences and rewards can be changed, and human behavior will either remain static, or flow along microscopically architected channels toward the goal desired by the bureaucrats, with no unintended consequences possible. So to me, the real story isn’t that C4C is going broke, it’s that this ignorance persists. I’m assuming it will persist, that this won’t be the lesson that will finally provide the education. No other lesson has.

We need to have a national dialogue on that, before we start talking about how you can end up handcuffed and being hauled downtown, right after showing your asshole side to a cop. That ignorance is a far more urgent societal crisis.

Hey…maybe it needs a new program.

Stupidly Drinking Beer

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Pure self-inflicted political damage, from The One who is supposed to be the nation’s premier political genius.

Much discussion about a sit-down taking place. Not a single word about what was supposed to be said, what in fact was said, what came of it, who feels all warm and fuzzy about it who didn’t feel warm & fuzzy before. All symbolism. No substance whatsoever. I’ve kibitzed before about this strange, strange, strange preoccupation our modern liberals have with the act of “sitting down to discuss our differences.” I’ve listened to decades of this bullshit, and I’ve yet to hear a syllable about what this — let us call it what it really is — ceremony is actually supposed to do.

Yet another “teachable moment” with no actual learning taking place.

The one person who did everything right from beginning to end was not invited, apparently because she’s just a chick. This is a day for healing racial division, not gender division.

Biden, who has nothing to do with anything, got a seat at the table…he’s got such a steady track record of saying the right thing, dontcha know.

Sgt. Crowley deserved exoneration, and through this event, he lost every shred of dignity he had.

Prof. Gates needed people to take him more seriously, and ended up looking sillier than before.

President Obama desperately needed to save face from this public relations setback He suffered — probably for the very first time in His life! — and made an ass out of Himself.

The one single word that was used so unwisely, to blow this thing way out of proportion? It’s an adverb. “Stupidly.”

And what an able word for this attempted closure. Stupidly. Four men stupidly partaking in a photo op, which is failed even before it begins.

FacepalmIf you were to have jotted these events down in manuscript form before they actually occurred, no publisher of fiction would accept it. It’s all too surreal, too absurd, too astonishing, too preposterous. It would never happen in real life. This is a new low nadir. This takes the cake. It descends beneath “[illegal aliens] are doing the work Americans won’t do.” It descends beneath Howard Dean yelling “YEEEEAAAARRRGGGHHHH!!!!” It descends beneath John McCain suspending his campaign to fix the mortgage crisis. It descends beneath John Edwards screwing around on his cancer-stricken wife, and Gov. Sanford hiking in the Appalachians.

Our national Absurdity Engine has burst a gasket and thrown a rod. Too much gas, too many revs, and that premium grade of bullshit fuel burned way too fast.

If this is a typical “teaching” moment, kindly leave me un-taught thankyewverymuch. Just lend me a Sharpy so I can make a new hash mark on the door jamb, and hopefully we have to wait awhile before this newest record of extraordinary depth is broken yet again.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

Bubble Wrap Society

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Me, in the e-mails, elaborating on the brilliance I showed yesterday morning:

Bubble WrapIf, when we as individuals make dumbass decisions, we can expect to deal a severe injury to ourselves but to none of our neighbors — then we have the makings of a free society. If, on the other hand, our reprehensibly bad judgment poses a danger to others whenever it poses a danger to us, then our freedom is already gone. All the intermediate steps that ensue…the statist politician or advocate making his way to the microphone, imploring us to accept the next nanny-state law, the strategically-worded polls that draw pre-calculated answers saying people are oh so worried, all the canned speeches about the status quo being unacceptable, the committee votes, the floor votes, et cetera…these are nothing but inevitable and meaningless milestones, hash marks along the swing path of the wrecking ball. Once the foolishness of one can be expected to impact the welfare of the many, we aren’t free anymore, it’s all over but the shouting and the weeping.

To distill all of the above to its essentials: Our freedom isn’t measured in our freedom to be smart. It’s measured in our freedom to be jackasses. Jackasses, suffering self-inflicted wounds, but one jackass at a time. We’re losing that fast…

A great example of this is motorcycle helmet laws. This is a rarity among issues, because when most people think on it awhile, they end up agreeing with me.

Which means they think: If in our modern age it was possible to go riding without a motorcycle helmet, crash, get yourself completely messed up, and end up in horrible trouble but by engaging in such foolishness dealing no harm to anybody else…then yes, motorcycle helmet laws would be a horrible thing and we shouldn’t have ‘em. Now that that ship has sailed, though, the “public” has a vested interest in your well-being whether you like it or not, and the helmet law becomes a symptom, not a cause, of what’s gone wrong with us. We are, indeed, all connected. We have, indeed, lost the modularity of our bubble-wrapping. We are just one big bubble. We’ve lost that quality where one bubble can be popped, and all adjacent bubbles remain intact. Since we’re all one bubble, yes you are going to wear your goddamn helmet. That’s a shame, but it’s gotta be that way.

It’s a shame because everything has to work that way now. Can’t use charcoal, you grill with propane or electric or don’t grill at all. No guns in your house. Drive a smaller car. Unplug your cell phone when it’s done charging. Buy your “carbon credit vouchers.” Teach your kids to share, and keep them in the public school system (unless you’re a democrat politician who makes it harder for people to take their own kids out of the public school system…then you can do whatever you want). Every little choice we can possibly make — except for a woman deciding to end her pregnancy — is considered for the harm it might bring to “The People,” just like we’re living in Stalinist Russia.

Do you realize what we have now abandoned? In those dirty little socialist mudpuddle countries in which people all live as part of one big bubble and they’re proud of living out their lives that way, like amoebas or ants or The Borg…isolated cases of individuals or subclasses can, and are, indeed “popped” in instances of contained destruction. In his book 1984, George Orwell referred to it as “vaporizing.” They come for you in the middle of the night, no publicity, no trials, and nobody ever hears from you again. And then the Ministry of Truth wipes out your past as well.

That’s actually happened in real life. It happens in nations in which everybody is “united,” where one man lives, works, breathes, breeds, eats and sleeps for the benefit of all the others. Because that’s the kind of government action that can only be justified as “doing the work of The People.”

All of the weaknesses of a bubble-wrap society, with none of the strengths.

A true bubble-wrap society though, enjoys all of the strengths of a socialist regime but is burdened by none of the weaknesses. Back in the nineteenth century, out in the midwest where a living was a hard thing to earn and a tough thing to keep, we had a true bubble wrap society. Your closest neighbor might have been a half a mile away, maybe more. And your bubble might be popped. Bad harvest. Your cows get sick. Your kids get the flu. Your husband goes off to war and doesn’t come back.

But people pulled together and helped each other out. Laws did not compel them to do that; a community sense of decency did that. It was voluntary, but only barely, since anyone who did not partake would become a social pariah. A pariah, not a criminal. There’s an enormous difference.

Because people helped each other, out of a sense of civil decency but not a sense of civil obedience, it was infeasible for a political figure to mount a soapbox and raffle off some sales pitch for a new social program. That’s because we still had our bubble wrapping. The widow’s oldest son was dead, and he was the one who did the heavy lifting; of course you would help her out, but this didn’t have a depressing effect on your net worth because so many others would be helping too. A social program to prevent all this from happening? What’s the point. People understood back then that life was hard. If it wasn’t one thing, it would be some other thing.

But now, we are bound not by a sense of cultural decency, but by the law. So a minor disaster is thought to be an actual expense to “The People” — even to those who make too little money to have a tax liability! The politician mounts the soapbox to tell us how we need his new disaster-preventing social program, and his argument is like an acetylene torch cutting through a snowman. The deliberation is over before it’s even begun. Of course the politician is right! This other social program the politician’s dad put together…this shell game that involves some kind of “fund”…it is “stressed.” It is “at the breaking point.” Something must be done! And so now we have to be regulated. Guns. Jeeps. Meat. Fat in our food. Sodium. These choices don’t really belong to us anymore, it’s all in the interest of “The People.” And so you might be against what’s going on…but what’s the point of opposing it?

In three or four generations — one thing used to be completely pointless, now the opposite thing is what’s completely pointless. Are you beginning to comprehend the depth of this tragedy? It’s a tough thing to take in all at once, and impossible to overstate.

The most precious things you can order online, the highest value things, the fanciest hard drives and other electronic components…when they’re carried off that brown truck of happiness, you open the box and you see they are cushioned with bubble wrap. That’s because they are cushioned with something the manufacturer and seller really, really wanted to work. Bubble wrap works, because when one bubble is popped the adjacent bubbles are not.

Your freedom arrives in bubble wrap.

No bubble wrap…no freedom. Like I said, it’s already gone and you just don’t know it yet. Without the bubble wrap, it’s all over except the shouting and the weeping.

That’s what socialized medicine is really all about. That’s what all these nanny-state programs are really all about. They’re there to put us “all in the same boat,” under enforcement by the police powers of the state, so that all our residual freedoms can be easily taken away. You can’t argue with anyone where the welfare of The People is at stake, can you?

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

Megan Fox Overexposed

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

That headline makes our chosen topic sound oh so much more exciting than it really is. A one-day moratorium is being announced for August 4 on a bunch of guy-centered online mags, like this one and this one and this one and this one, against anything related to the sexpot star of Transformers movies.

Renouncing Megan FoxWell, I’m of two minds about it. The girl is horribly miscast, but at least she does know how to act, kinda. Did I say horribly miscast? I meant awfully, terribly, reprehensibly, stink-on-wheels miscast. I think they broke the mold before they made Michael Bay. The man knows how to blow things up, and he knows how to have lots of guys walk in slow motion toward the camera in a classic “power walk” just before they face certain doom. But he couldn’t assemble a female character to save his life. He doesn’t seem to keep in mind if he’s developing a nice-girl, a bored-housewife, a bitch, a vamp, a hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold, an evil-stepmother, a dowager, a princess, a lady-of-the-lake, Juliet, Marion Ravenwood, Lieutenant Uhura, Scheherazade, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. It’s like, to him, they’re all just one male stock character with a few different body parts.

So he gets hold of Megan Fox, who is a young trash-temptress with an Angelina Jolie obsession and tattoo fixation, who is sizzling hot and can kinda sorta act. And he puts her in this part that is a better fit for Elisabeth Shue, back in the Cocktail days. It seems like a great fit at first. She’s dating the football jackass, she breaks up with him because he wants her to be his “bunny,” she knows more about cars than she lets on because her dad’s a jailbird carjacker, and by the second movie she’s working in daddy’s motorcycle shop as a girl grease monkey. At this point, there is only a partial disconnect…the tattoos fit right in, the overly-thick makeup job with the glossy pouty lips, does not. We can deal with that.

But then she’s the Girl Friday to Shia Labeouf as he repeats his run-the-gauntlet stunt from the first movie, trying to get a precious thing-a-ma-bob to a waiting whatz-a-ma-giggit, so we’re all left watching Shia and this super-duper-hot-girl — who’s fully clothed, by the way — run through this maze of marauding robots and explosions. And it just has an awkward feel to it, ya know. She does a lot of yelling, when everybody else does a lot of yelling. In Michael Bay movies, if you’re doing something and you want whatever it is to work…especially if it’s got to do with working a motorcycle, car, plane, boat, machine gun or rocket launcher — you yell really loud. A nice throaty yell is great for making things work in movies. I first learned that when Stalone went AAAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!! while firing a machine gun at nothing in Rambo II. Yelling makes things work. Always. Unless it’s that car that won’t start when the machete-guy is walking…real…slow toward you in a slasher movie. Other than that, yelling works. Megan Fox yells very nicely. She has a man-yell.

Having said all that, yes I’m tired of her. She lacks man-appeal. Methinks her appeal is for boys, the boys who are fascinated with girls, but only since sometime last year. Untroubled by any unpleasant memories of an actual coupling, they lust after the ladies they’ll not actually be having, the same way a grown man lusts after a Bugatti Veyron or F1 McLaren. This full-grown man appreciates her supple body parts, but he finds her personality irritating, along with her overly-made-up face. He finds her suitable as a background extra with few or no speaking lines, perhaps a showgirl; nothing more center-stage than those. She lacks watch-ability. Think of re-doing the 1930′s classic production of Wizard of Oz, with Fox cast as Dorothy. Which means she’s carrying the entire show, since everyone except Dorothy occupies a secondary role. See what I mean now?

There is an urban legend going around that forty years ago, when they were creating a new character for The Avengers, one of the producers dashed off a memorandum addressing the desire for this person to have “M. Appeal,” with M standing for Man. And that’s how the character got her name. It seems, from all I’ve been able to gather, that there is some truth to this legend — but it really doesn’t matter, does it. Mrs. Peel did have man appeal, bushels of it, and because of that she remains memorable to this very day. Why? She appealed to men, and she was brilliantly cast, the part filled with a wonderful, talented actress who fit it and connected with it. Peel will never be forgotten, ever.

Now are there any Transformers fans who can remember the name of Fox’s character in the movie? And can spell it correctly?

Overexposed is right. It’s time for her to go bye-bye for a little while. It’s certainly not her fault, at least not completely. But the fatigue has set in.

And that goes for the live-action Wonder Woman movie too. The Champion of Themiscyra is tat-free; inking her skin would be disrespectful to her mother, and it probably wouldn’t work anyhow because she’s made out of clay. Keep looking. Think about Odette Yustman and Julia Voth instead.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News.

Fifteen Worst Reviewed Games of the Last Fifteen Years

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

GamesRadar.

I was surprised to see Nickelodeon Party Blast made the cut. There are some fun parts to that one. But the “main” game, where all the creatures are floating around zapping each other making their noises — I never did figure out what was going on there. Just an incomprehensible mess. If that’s why they put it in slot #10, I agree.

Happy Birthday Cassy Fiano — 2009

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Why don’t you head on over and extend your best wishes to her. She’s smart as a whip, and it’s tough to remember sometimes — but she’s still in that age bracket where a birthday is still a happy special day. Yeah, remember that?

Mondegreen

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Phil’s comments about Ted Nugent got us to thinking about this video, since we have been a constant victim of the Mondegreen since, at least, Wild Cherry with “Play That Funky Music White Boy.”

Mondegreen. Yup, there’s really a word for that. And you probably thought you were the only one, huh?

“It’s Insane There’s an Argument”

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Ted Nugent speaks on the Second Amendment.

He should just stop beating around the bush and tell us how he really feels about these things.

I Made a New Word XXX

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

For the thirtieth time, I have come up with a brand new word.

Autonopia (n.), a portmanteau of autonomy and Utopia.

au·ton·o·my
1: the quality or state of being self-governing ; especially : the right of self-government
2: self-directing freedom and especially moral independence
3: a self-governing state

Autonomy, it goes without saying, can extend to individuals. And it damn well should.

But…for the immediate future, you’re going to see no such tomfoolery taking place, not in Obama’s New Society we have going.

As I was pointing out earlier this morning in an update, Obama owes His presidency to the fact that some among us dream of Autonopia, and among us, some of us are sufficiently deluded to think we live in it. It is an asset to be guarded jealously, at least, when it is present: This quality a culture has in which one individual can be a dumbass, and the injury that results is inflicted on him, and him alone. So many of you were out there ready to go voting for the Chosen One, and so many others instinctively thought to themselves “that’s pretty stupid, but at least nobody else will be harmed by it.” This led to a decision, in too many cases, to stay home on Election Day and watch the teevee. There was no intellectual support for the idea that an election would be inconsequential; especially a Presidential election. Especially that one. But it had to do with how they were raised. Anti-activism. You do something dumb, that means you should be left alone to do your dumb thing and eventually you’ll learn not to do it. That took over, so they stayed home and let everyone else pick their leaders for them.

Who’s stupid now?

I was alerted to the immediate necessity of coming up with this new word when I read about this Executive Pay Bill that managed to pop out of committee in the House of Representatives, and now goes sailing on to the floor for a vote:

Legislation that would slap new limits on U.S. executive pay won approval on Tuesday by a congressional committee, advancing a component of the Obama administration’s broad plan to tighten financial regulation.

The bill was expected to go to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote on Friday, aides said.

Drafted by House Democrats, the bill would give shareholders the right to cast non-binding, annual votes on executive pay and on special pay packages, such as “golden parachutes, in instances of changes in corporate control.

Nanny StateIt would also empower regulators to ban pay structures that encourage “inappropriate risks by financial institutions … that could threaten the safety and soundness of covered financial institutions, or could have serious adverse effects on economic conditions or financial stability.”

Yeah, you pay your executives too much money, and you just might start another economic crash that’ll impact everybody. Better stop you before you start!

See what I mean by an asset to be guarded jealously? We don’t have it anymore. And we are conditioned to think that’s no great tragedy, because what has left us is a cynical personal isolationism that breeds resentment and jealousy. You dumbasses; I can see Charlton Heston pounding his fist into the sand, damning you straight to hell. That was freedom that left you. Now we’re “all connected, all in this together”…and so the statists get to leap to the microphones and intone to the rest of us that hey…we gots to have more rules. That dumb thing that guy over there can do, could result in an injury to that perfectly innocent fellow over here. So every business decision, personal decision, personal choice, is on the table. We’re all in this together. We have no Autonopia.

Hat tip to Boortz for the article, and he has much more to say about it.

Government officials never, ever call for a restoration of this autonopia, you’ll notice. They never call for a bubble-wrap arrangement in which one bubble can be popped and the other bubbles stay intact. Nope, it’s always we’re-all-in-this-together, and one-rule-away-from-complete-bliss. The idea that one guy can do something dumb and injure himself, and no one else, is always cast as an idea that someone else can do him harm. That’s the big lie from Washington. And we see nobody standing up to challenge it.

So. Government bureaucrats get to decide how much people in corporations make. But don’t worry, there’s a scope defined so it isn’t universal: “Covered institutions.” Aint’ that swell? The law doesn’t take effect unless the institution is covered. So who decides what’s covered.

So it’s settled. We can’t count on politicians, especially now, to say “I see there’s a possibility that one guy can do a dumb thing and bring harm to others, but nevertheless let’s leave this part of life unregulated.” They can’t be trusted to think such a thing or to say such a thing. Not now, not ever. Freedom, therefore, is synonymous with this new word I invented, and the concept it describes. Or to be more accurate about it freedom is dependent — completely — on it. It is a national treasure. We need to look at ways to preserve it, assuming such a possibility exists for us.

And if no such possibility exists, and autonopia is gone for good, then let’s just stop the charade. Every little thing we do is either regulated, or is about to be. We are “free” only to such an extent that the legislators haven’t quite gotten around to making us otherwise, which means we are not. In all aspects of life. Because we have lost that most precious of rights, the right to do stupid idiotic harmful things to ourselves with a realistic expectation that our stupidity will bring harm to absolutely nobody else. Lose that, and you lose everything.

You Don’t Talk About Healthcare

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

War is Peace.

Freedom is Slavery.

Ignorance is Strength.

Thanks to blogger friend Phil.

Twenty-Five Extremely Rare Star Wars Photos

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Hat tip: Conservative Grapevine.

Artwork of the Hopenchange Age

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Sirius, commenting at Neo-Neocon’s place, came up with a winning slogan and Gerard thought it was good enough to make into print. The petroleum-based kind you can stick on to the back of your car…

Inspired by that, Ex-Urban League came up with another design

Of course, a few months ago blogger friend Phil got ahold of a good graphic that might be appreciated by the other side. Or not –

Now if I were to be tempted to partake, I would draw my inspiration from the timeless classic…

But this whole thing begins and ends there. That much goes without saying. I am far too mature to participate in such shenanigans. I am. I am, I am, I am.

Keep reading………

…NOT! Let’s celebrate some old-fashioned dissent. It’s still patriotic, right?

Every eight years of action, have an equal and opposite reaction. Well, most of the time anyway.

Lest you get too caught up in the levity, commenter Willa has some sobering words for us. Me, I prefer to keep my optimism. But some encouragement would be welcome at this point…

It was possible to fairly debate Bush’s policies, and we did, and the press reported on those debates, making sure everyone knew about it if 100 people showed up in DC to protest the war.

Obama’s policies are just as fairly [debatable] but the debate is not allowed and the press only covers dissenting opinion in order to sneer at it.

Which is why America will not survive this guy’s presidency.

Update 7/29/09: Kevin and Smitty approve, although the latter objects to the pessimistic tone of the quote above.

Well, good. Like I said, I prefer to keep my optimism. Don’t get discouraged, get motivated.

But I would offer this counsel: If and when this crisis is somehow shoved into our rear view mirror, never ever forget the damage people can do to everyone else in their community, by voting unwisely. I seriously think that is the real problem. People in my camp, the “Don’t Blame Me I Voted For The Non-Lawyers” camp, have our own vision of a Utopian society, and it’s one in which individual inhabitants can do stupid things and injure only themselves. It’s time we admitted our weakness: We keep thinking we already live there. We have wishful thinking about this.

A lot of them stayed home last November to catch “Friends” reruns. Maybe not many. But enough. They thought, other people could go out that fateful night, do something stupid, and it wouldn’t impact anybody else.

Well in the long run, the vision will win. “Vision” is not optimism; vision is hope, which is a close cousin to optimism, combined with other things. So yes, keep the vision.

And Uckfobama.

Memo For File XCI

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

This blog, which nobody actually reads anyway, is named after a mathemetician, library administrator and brainy-guy who lived around two hundred years before Christ and figured out the size of the earth without the benefit of telescopes, spaceships or any other such gadgetry. This was not a disciple of Aristotle or Plato or Socrates; he was the head honcho of the Library of Alexandria, and had just about as much business measuring the planet’s size as…well, as a software engineer has figuring out that liberalism is bad for you. He figured out the size of the planet on which we live, and he did it by peeking into water wells. He made do with what he had, and used careful, responsible thinking to figure out and validate a fact about something much bigger than he was.

Eratosthenes LogoAs such, this blog’s primary obsession is with a point-of-view about life itself: Information is to be taken in, worked over, and harvested into yet more information, by whoever among us possesses the mental skills do it. It is not to be cloistered behind ivy-covered walls, for the consumption of elites who periodically emerge from behind the walls to tell the rest of us what to think. We all have the responsibility of maintaining an inventory of what we know, versus what we do not know, and from that inventory figuring out what’s really going on. And, from that, figuring out what to do about it.

And so the time has come to opine on the Gates affair. You have already heard the background. Professor Henry Gates, a professor of Ethnic Studies at Harvard and a personal friend of our President, was questioned by a policeman inside his own home after breaking into it. The policeman was called by a well-intentioned neighbor who observed Gates and his driver forcing a door that had jammed shut.

I’ll leave the rest of the background to Leonard Pitts, who in my opinion has done a wonderful job of accurately recording all the facts, those which are in dispute as well as those which are not, and drawing all of the wrong conclusions from them.

The incident began when Gates, returning from a trip to China, found his front door jammed. When he and his driver tried to force it, a neighbor, thinking it a burglary, did the right thing and called police. [Sergeant James] Crowley responded, finding the driver gone and Gates inside. There are two versions of what happened next.

Police say Gates refused to comply with Crowley’s order to step outside, initially would not identify himself and became belligerent, yelling that Crowley, who is white, is a racist, that he didn’t know who he was messing with and that this was only happening because Gates is black.

Gates says he promptly produced his driver’s license and Harvard ID, that the officer refused to provide his name and badge number, and that he could not have yelled anything because he has a severe bronchial infection.

This much is not in dispute: Gates was arrested after providing proof he was lawfully occupying his own home. The police report says he was “exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior in a public place.” That being his own front porch. Small wonder the charge has been dropped.

And here, Sgt. Crowley’s defenders would want you to know he is not some central casting redneck, but an experienced officer who has led diversity workshops.

On the other hand, Gates is hardly Sister Souljah himself. Rather, he is a man who did the things African Americans are always advised to do: work hard, get a good education, better yourself, only to discover that in the end, none of it saved him. In the end, he still winds up standing on his front porch with his wrists shackled.

Pitts, here, is guilty of peeking into one water well but not the other; he reaches whatever conclusion he wants to reach, relying on his personal sentiments rather than reason and logic. He fails to realize — there is a reason people are pointing out Sergeant Crowley works his diversity training workshops, and that reason is because Professor Gates was railing away about the Sergeant’s passionate racism. Crowley’s resume does not resoundingly falsify this; but it certainly deals the theory a blow, from which it never actually recovers. As such, it is revealed to anyone paying attention for what it is. The product of the overactive imagination of an Ethnic Studies professor with a giant chip on his shoulder. None of this matters to Pitts, who is arguing — essentially — that because Gates works in a prestigious university and relies on a cane to walk, dang it, he must be in the right here.

Not that too many other folks are doing a better job thinking this thing out. Last week, President Obama made sure we’d be talking about this for awhile, when he responded at length, Leonard-Pitts-style, to a question about it. During a press conference about health care.

I said Leonard-Pitts-style, and perhaps that is unfair to Mr. Pitts. Pitts had access to all the information, or at least, honestly thought that he did; President Obama, on the other hand, conceded that He didn’t have all the facts, but made up His mind anyway:

The final moments of President Obama’s press conference last week have gotten the most attention, and some of the president’s supporters have wondered whether his big-footed interference in the Harvard professor’s melodrama has overshadowed his push for health-care reform.

But the president’s response to Gatesgate actually sheds a lot of light on his approach to health care and other issues, for this reason: Obama adopts his positions before knowing what he is talking about. To be fair, Obama admitted as much, at least as far as Gates was concerned. “I don’t know all the facts,” he acknowledged, before launching into a lecture (later retracted) about the “stupidity” of the Cambridge police (while misrepresenting what had happened).

How could he not have known all the facts? Press secretary Robert Gibbs mentioned on Fox News Sunday that the Gates matter was one of the issues the White House press operation had briefed the president on before the press conference. Numerous accounts of the imbroglio were available online — though the president need only pick up the phone to get all the information he wants.

He didn’t want information. He preferred his comfortable, prejudiced view.

This is worth bearing in mind as the country takes a good, hard look at the president’s plans for health-care reform. On the day he announced support for embryonic-stem-cell research, Mr. Obama also signed an executive memorandum declaring that in the Obama administration, “We [will] make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology.” And yet, his health-care proposals — or rather the congressional ideas he has endorsed — seem to skirt facts and evidence at every turn.

A leader for our times?

Well, perhaps so. We all have this tendency to make up our minds that the earth is as flat as a pancake, before we’ve peeked into our first water well. From then on, as the evidence rolls in the most common error is to select said evidence. Cherish whatever substantiates this pre-selected conclusion of ours, and discard whatever may contradict it outright, or pose a simple challenge to it. This is the First Instinct fallacy, and it holds an appeal to us because it makes it easy to think we can sort of bumble into the right answer to something, and formulate a plan just as beneficial to our interests as something else constructed only with a lot of stewing and mental effort. It makes all this hard work seem unnecessary. Just go with your gut, and that’s probably right.

Well there’s a price to be paid for that: You have to wait around for someone to travel around the world in order to know how big it is. Of course, you can speculate uselessly on that to your heart’s content. Up with your side, down with the other guy’s side…you can think what you want. But you might have to backpedal. You might have to go the Obama route. You might have to resort to silly platitudes to get the shining spotlight off you, and issue your calls for a national dialogue. The disadvantage there, of course, is that platitudes eventually wear out…or at least, they might. Weren’t we all calling for a national dialogue on race right after Obama’s pastor was revealed to be a racist asshole? Yes, it seems like just yesterday. We were congratulating The Holy One for another fine speech, and suddenly everyone stopped talking about Jeremiah Wright and “God Damn America.” We stopped talking about race, too, at least in ways that might have any effect on the Obama campaign other than to help it along. National dialogue my left nut. That’s just a mantra, nothing more.

Professor and Cop: PossibilitiesHere’s the trouble with the way we’re processing this.

First of all, the one thing you can do before any of the information rolls in, is to make a list of the possible conclusions. That’s quite justifiable, and even preferred. There aren’t too many: Professor Gates is in the right, or Sergeant Crowley is in the right. Add to that this popular “mixed bag” thing a lot of people are conjuring. It’s brain-dead, but there’s legitimacy to it as a possibility. They’re both equally wrong; they’re both wrong, but Gates is more wrong than Crowley; they’re both wrong, but Crowley is more in the wrong than Gates. That’s three, in addition to the two obvious extremes. Five total. Strong verdict for Gates because Crowley is a racist dickhead, milder verdict for Gates, toss-up, milder verdict for Crowley, strong verdict for Crowley because Gates is a troublemaker.

Well here’s the trouble. And this is what our “national dialogue” really has to address, in my view. I haven’t refined these possibilities overly much, opting instead for a big-pixel, thirty-thousand-foot view. But look what we have happening here: Our nation, and therefore our modern society that is a part of it, is burdened with this history of oppressing persons of color. Enslaving them, segregating them, discriminating against them, engaging in nasty shenanigans to keep them from voting when they should’ve been able to, and arresting them for nothing. And because of that, we sometimes act in haste to try to abjure any notions that any individuals among us might be racists…save for those who are advancing something we’re trying to stop. It’s the thirty-thousand-pound napalm MOAB of our modern times. Get this ordinance dropped, and your enemy disintigrates. Love the smell of napalm in the morning.

And so the Gates affair is a rather handy lesson for us. It puts the big reveal on what a wonderful job we’ve done, closing our eyes to the truth.

It’s the last of those categories, you see. The idea that the cop can be completely in the right, and the professor could have been completely in the wrong. Most of the folks who’ve already commented, have been caught off guard. In their haste to be exonerated from this lingering suspicion of racism, it has become popular to lop off that wholly legitimate conclusion even from the list of trivial possibilities. Something must have been wrong with what the cop did. There must have been an error made somewhere!

Trouble is, all of the evidence that has been wandering on in to view, be it at a quick trot or at a slow plodding, once it’s verified the bulk of it seems to support that final conclusion, that Professor Gates is as racially prejudiced as any American has been in modern times. Most problematic in this evidence is the report that Gates, once drawing his own conclusion that he was being unfairly hassled because of the color of his skin, nevermind whether that was with justification or not — started mouthing off at a cop. This is where my sympathy falls away. You don’t do that, regardless of the color of your skin. You just don’t get to walk away from that. And how did Gates draw these conclusions, anyway? It seems to say a lot more about Gates himself than about any situation in which he found himself. He has a personal complex about this stuff, and once finding himself being questioned by a policeman, injected race into the situation when nobody else had.

So at this point, the logically strongest conclusion is this: that Professor Gates created this incident.

It has become an unfortunately widespread weakness to close one’s eyes to this as a possibility, though, and therefore to any evidence that might lead to it. All too often, that has been eliminated, then First Instinct takes over. This is a disservice to Sergeant Crowley and to police everywhere, especially police who serve in urban areas periodically unsettled with racial tension. Too many among us fail to see that on an incident-to-incident basis, the officer on the scene just might have handled things properly. It’s possible. It is a possibility. We just can’t see it, because we’re too busy being sensitive. The cop must be wrong, somehow; a little, or a lot, but he must have done the wrong thing. Now let’s round up some facts to back that up.

We all know that’s not the way to go about this. But many are going to be preoccupied by pointing out it isn’t my place to be bringing any of this up. I’m a six-foot protestant white guy with all his limbs and twenty-one digits. This is none of my business.

Just like it’s none of a library administrator’s business to figure out the world is 40 thousand kilometers in circumference.

I can see how, in the minds of some, that might appear to be a legitimate thing to point out. But…it doesn’t make the world flat, now does it?

Young is Hip, Old is Lame, Rude is Cool

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Garry Hamilton sends some e-mail to our blogger friend, who in turn reveals its wisdom to the blogosphere:

Many years ago, I began to notice a pattern in TV programming. I noticed that in popular “comedy” there was a mantra of “women are smart, men are dumb; kids are smart, parents are dumb.”

In kids’ programming (Nickelodeon and the like), there was a series of cartoons emerging that not only pushed this “kids are smart, grown-ups are stupid” theme, but added a layer of “rude is cool.” South Park, Ren & Stimpy, Invader Zim, and others. And it wasn’t subtle.
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Now, during this same period (and earlier, actually) the concept of “children’s rights” became a prominent issue in schools. That would be public schools (as opposed to entertainment). I heard that kids were being taught that, if they thought their parents were being “mean,” they could turn them in for “child abuse.” Ground your kid? Child abuse. Impose at-home sanctions for misbehavior? Child abuse. Now, I took that with a grain of salt because, hey, you know how people exaggerate. Until one of my own kids brought that crap home from school. “You can’t yell at me or ground me, because that’s child abuse.”
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This has been going on to a greater or lesser degree for decades now. Young is cool. Old is lame.

Hat tip: Rick.

Twilight of Honeymoon VI

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Me, just last month…on the subject of our Holy President’s approval ratings, which were then still above the waterline but sinking, sinking, sinking…

Sometime, now or in a future not too distant, a point of center-of-gravity is going over a cliff. Once past it, it isn’t coming back again.

The logic has very little to do with American politics, and much more to do with fashion. Muttonchop sideburns can come back in style as a “retro,” but retro fashions need a generation of water to roll over the dam before they can rise from the dead. Once something becomes The Hot Thing From Last Year, it isn’t going to become hot again for those three decades. Certainly not within a four year window.

Ladies and gentlemen, our nation’s chief executive is now officially the hot thing from last year. Our nation’s Rubik’s cube. This would mean, in His case, He has just lost the only effective governing tool He ever had.

For the very first time, Barack Obama’s approval rating has gone upside down! According to Rasmussen, Barack Obama’s approval rating is at 49% and his disapproval rating is at 51%.

Guess that’s what happens when you push big, unpopular liberal policy after liberal policy in an effort to take advantage of a crisis, talk about deficit reduction while you spend so much that you risk the country’s future, keep trying to take over an ever larger share of the U.S. economy, lie repeatedly, insult America abroad and cops at home, all while being unbelievably pompous.

PS: As Obama’s numbers continue to drop, expect plenty cries of “racism” to explain why people aren’t supporting him.

Now, is this cause for celebration? Probably not. This presidency is simply a projection onto the national landscape, of what has been happening on a smaller scale in hundreds of our larger cities for decades now: Hardcore left-leaning tax-the-rich guy leveraged into office with superstar status, during a campaign that offers minimal or nonexistent deliberation about the policies he would put into effect, followed by years and years of economic depression as the hated “rich,” taxed up to and beyond the point they can be made to understand how hated they are…leave. Or stop engaging in what has been artificially made into a less and less profitable, and more and more troublesome, way to earn a livelihood.

Those crooked mayors have approval ratings, too. Those approval ratings drop, too. And they keep on doing the things they do, until the promising supermetropolitan mecca becomes a modern million-acre ghost town.

The nation’s fate is still sealed. We’ll still keep moving toward the same oblivion that has swallowed up Chicago, and Washington DC, and Atlanta, and Sacramento, and Los Angeles and San Francisco and…and…and. But from here on, there will be doubt. It won’t be an unstoppable “mandate.”

And Obama has lost his fashion whores. They aren’t with Him anymore; they’re on to the next hot new thing. And they aren’t coming back for a good thirty years. Oh sure many of them will pick Him over a Republican any day. But His election wasn’t won by people preferring democrats over Republicans, it was won because the democrat voters saw a reason to miss stale television sitcom reruns to go out and vote, and Republicans didn’t see any such reason.

That advantage is now history.

Cosby Shocked

Friday, July 24th, 2009

And not like Captain Renault. Really shocked…

On a Boston radio program this morning, Bill Cosby suggested that President Obama spoke too soon on the controversial arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates.

“I’ve heard about five different reports [on the details of the arrest],” Cosby said on Boston’s WZLX. “If I’m the president of the United States, I don’t care how much pressure people want to put on it about race, I’m keeping my mouth shut.”

“I was shocked to hear the president making this kind of statement,” Cosby said referring to the president’s remarks during last night’s press conference.

The comedian appeared to have dialed his comments back a bit in a later interview on Boston’s FOX 25 television station. Cosby cautioned those from coming up with their own conclusions, but gave the president some leeway.

“People who have not been there, people who don’t know are beginning to have their own personal feelings, but they weren’t there,” Cosby said.

“Does this include the president?” asked the FOX25 reporter.

“It includes everybody,” Cosby said. “[But] I would have to take into consideration that he lived in Cambridge for some time so he may know more than he’s saying about situations of that sort,” Cosby said.

Cosby isn’t alone in giving President Obama some benefit-of-doubt on this; white guy James Taranto, in yesterday’s Best of the Web, was charitable as well.

Let’s dispense with one common criticism of the president: that he should have refrained from commenting on the subject at all. “It’s the kind of question to which a president would normally reply with something like: ‘That’s a local police matter, I don’t know the details and I know it will be worked out responsibly,’ and move along,” says National Review’s Yuval Levin. “Very odd behavior for a president.”

True, this started as a local police matter, but by the time Obama was asked about it, it had become a contentious national debate. As he is the first president who is black, Obama’s views on a subject involving race relations were bound to be of interest and to carry considerable weight. And Obama evidently did have a strong interest in the matter. According to Politico, his answer to this question was the only point in the press conference when he “came alive.” (The rest of the conference was devoted to some policy issue or other.)

On the merits, we’d say Obama got it right. He expressed sympathy with Gates’s position while expressly declining to endorse the charge that the arresting officer had racially invidious motives. When the president made a general statement about racial profiling–a statement that is certainly debatable, but he, like everyone else, is entitled to argue for his side in a debate–he was careful to note that he was speaking “separate and apart from this incident.”
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It is important…to distinguish between the initial altercation and the subsequent public debate. In the former, Crowley was in a position of authority and thus bore a greater responsibility than Gates, who was merely a private citizen. But in pressing the matter now, it is Gates who is exercising considerable authority: the intellectual authority of a pre-eminent scholar of race in America, and the moral authority of a black man demanding equal treatment in a country with an acknowledged history of atrocious racism.
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On Tuesday Gates told the Boston Globe: “If [Crowley] apologizes sincerely, I am willing to forgive him. And if he admits his error, I am willing to educate him about the history of racism in America and the issue of racial profiling. . . That’s what I do for a living.” Gates is trying to be magnanimous. He doesn’t quite succeed, does he? Still, it’s not an unattractive offer. Lots of people pay big bucks for a Harvard education.

But a true scholar devotes his life to acquiring knowledge, not just imparting it. Crowley may have something to learn from Gates, but Gates may have something to learn from Crowley, too–about the challenges of police work and the vulnerabilities, both physical and psychological, that sometimes lead cops to act overzealously — even stupidly — when citizens challenge their authority.

Taranto’s dazzling display of even-handedness is a classic illustration of how sometimes too much effort put into so-called “balance” can be antithetical to effective, clear-headed thinking. Sometimes, to be blunt about it, it isn’t necessary to see both sides. Sometimes it’s counterproductive to see both sides.

That might seem harsh, and it is…but it isn’t illogical. To support the point, one has only to step out of that realm, which is narrower than most people think, in which negotiation is appropriate. Think about situations involving wildlife. Forces of nature. Cars. So many of us possess an immediate understanding of the situation of crossing in a crosswalk without looking both ways. We understand this because our mothers forced us to understand it: If a car also isn’t looking, and you’re not looking, and you’re in the crosswalk but the car flattens you like a pancake, why yes indeedy you’ll have the right-of-way. You’ll be “right.” Dead right.

My point, here, is that Professor Gates had exactly the same “right” to get surly with a cop, as a child has to cross a street without looking.

Taranto’s got it backwards here. Yes there is a professional expectation placed on the police officer that isn’t placed on the civilian. But for the civilian’s own welfare, he is placed under an expectation of sorts as well, just like the negligent and oblivious child crossing the crosswalk. He needs to be behaving responsibly, for his own sake, or else facing the consequences — as do we all.

Professor Gates failed to show this minimal, utilitarian level of personal responsibility. He mouthed off at a cop. I’m not mouthing off at any cops. If I do, I do not expect to get away with it. I would expect to get arrested for disorderly conduct, or worse, and in my case I would expect the charges to stick. Just like, if I cross a street without looking, getting flattened (or at least honked at) would be the very first thing on my mind. Responsible people of all colors think that way.

But that’s all a little bit wordy. We’ve been criticized by some of our more loyal readers lately for being too wordy. So let us snag this one biting comment left by Doug, over at Gerard’s placethis guy speaks for us.

Gates could have dispelled all the bad air by just saying, “thanks for stopping by officer; here’s my lisence, I live here.” Then he should have shouted out to his neighbor, “Good looking out neighbor; it’s me, Skip.” And then invited her (and the cops) over to his next Bar-B-Q. Done – settled with good cheer all around, in less than a minute and a half.

Instead we get Gates having the time of his life playing the poor black victim of police brutality. Here’s a guy that America has showered with every reward, living and working at the top of the game in academic USA. Yet that is not enough; this insecure little wart needs his radical 60s street cred; he gins up a big racial confrontation with a man who is just trying to do his job.

Flipping s**t at cops even in the best circumstances (there really are no best circumstances) is just not a smart thing to do…

We’ve got no sympathy for this guy. None at all. And I daresay, there is much to criticize in the way the debate about this situation is shaping up. Too many people are seeing the light…like Bill Cosby, as an example…and then they do this “gotta say something in favor of the other side” thing, like if they take the no-sympathy-at-all angle and are too puritan about it, they’re afraid of becoming a pariah in some social circle that will become valuable to them at some later time.

They may very well be right.

But like I said. Balance is not always desirable for clear thinking. At least, in some situations…and this is one of them. Professor Gates is a crybaby, an attention whore, and worst of all he’s a bad example — to millions and millions of people who are, in fact, watching. Learning all the wrong lessons.

Oh, and President Obama? Cosby’s first set of remarks, were right on the money. This was not a matter fit for comment by a true President of the United States. You’ve just been demoted. You are no longer the President who just so happens to be a race hustler. That was last week. This week, you’re a race hustler first and foremost, who just so happens to have wheedled his way into this gig as President.

“Just Shoot ‘Em”

Friday, July 24th, 2009

The next couple of elections, I propose we make it all about a referendum on this particular flavoring of rhetorical combat. I think anyone who would disagree with me on that one, would have to concede the point we’ve seen a fair amount of this, it isn’t productive, it doesn’t lead to good decisions, it isn’t widely appreciated, and yet it keeps coming and coming because we haven’t stopped to take a breath and compare notes on what we think about it.

It comes from the hardcore left wing. Here, and generally. This classic False Dilemma of — implement our ramshackle dumbass policies or get the body bags ready. Also, anyone who’d dare breathe a word against our bad ideas wants…all together now…kids to die, old people to die, poor people to die, levees to collapse, everyone to get AIDS, dirty food, dirty air, dirty water, nuclear explosions day and night, poverty, starvation, blight, pestilence, blood in the Nile and the death of the firstborn.

Hat tip to Boortz.

I’m not falling for it and I’m sick and tired of it. Just wanna see if I’m alone in this. Call it an “Am I The Only One Who” query…my curiosity is sincere, and I think a lot of other folks would like to know the answer too. So let’s have a referendum.

To anyone who needs to be told: You don’t make yourself a better person by affixing your rear end to some selected point on the ideological spectrum. Yes, maybe you can make some “friends”; you can alienate other ones. You can use this to broadcast a message that you are sensitive to some values, although some folks might think, with some justification, that you are also communicating an ignorance with regard to other ones. Each and every soul gets to make his or her own decision about this stuff — we’re still unregulated on the thoughts between our ears, today anyway — but the grim fact is most people will decide your decency or lack thereof isn’t that important to them and leave the matter entirely undecided.

You know all those high-res photographs of the nighttime sky with all those stars and planets, and the people waving ‘em around inviting everyone to think about how truly insignificant we are compared to the vastness of the universe? Yeah. That fits into this. That’s what I’m talking about. Your raging case of GoodPerson FeverTM amounts to just one more way to crank out harmful policy decisions, Montel. Nothing more, nothing less.

Now if I need to figure out whether you’re a decent person or not — and there are better than even odds I’ll never give a fig — the first question with which I’m going to grapple is this: How did you catch your case of GoodPerson Fever in the first place? Let’s just forget that other question of, if we do exactly what you want, how long will it be before you have something else to prove about your inner “goodperson,” and ours. The average answer is about thirty seconds. Point is, people who really do think well of themselves, who know for a fact they are decent people, don’t get on this stupid treadmill. The time comes to make an important decision about their own lives, or about public policy, and they take on the challenge like adults. What do they know about what’s going on; how do they know that’s what’s going on; what are the available options; how would each one of those options affect the situation, positively or negatively, in the short term or in the longer term.

You don’t have that kind of inner strength. You get started on the task at hand, and within eye-blinks & heartbeats you’re fantasizing about Republicans ambushing people in hospital emergency rooms and shooting them. Well, now. I don’t think you should be dismissed so lightly. People who think the way you do, are running everything right now. You’ve proven you don’t have what it takes to run a nationwide talk-radio network; in fact you’ve proven you can’t even run local talk-radio networks.

But we’ll let people with your mindset run the whole damned country.

For now.

Twilight of Honeymoon V

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Secretary of State Clinton says we are back

On her second trip to Asia as U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton is carrying a no-nonsense message about American intentions.

“The United States is back,” she declared Tuesday upon arrival in the Thai capital.

By that she means the administration of President Barack Obama thinks it’s time to show Asian nations that the United States is not distracted by its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and intends to broaden and deepen its partnerships in this region.

Clinton was trumpeting that line Wednesday in an appearance with a prominent TV personality before flying to a seaside resort at Phuket for two days of international meetings to discuss North Korea, Myanmar and a range of other regional issues.

Don’t you just love it when elected and appointed officials speak in talking-points? Makes it so easy to get ahold of them and relay concerns to them.

He Speaks!Concerns like these

That was fast. The hope and optimism that washed over the country in the opening months of Barack Obama’s presidency are giving way to harsh realities.

An Associated Press-GfK Poll shows that a majority of Americans are back to thinking that the country is headed in the wrong direction after a fleeting period in which more thought it was on the right track.

Obama still has a solid 55 percent approval rating — better than Bill Clinton and about even with George W. Bush six months into their presidencies — but there are growing doubts about whether he can succeed at some of the biggest items on his to-do list. And there is a growing sense that he is trying to tackle too much too soon.

The number of people who think Obama can improve the economy is down a sobering 19 percentage points from the euphoric days just before his inauguration. Ditto for expectations about creating jobs. Also down significantly: the share of people who think he can reduce the deficit, remove troops from Iraq and improve respect for the U.S. around the world, all slipping 15 points.

She’s right. We’re back. Off of our latest drug craze, crashed to earth.

Some professor who does his professoring by getting his name in all the right rolodexes, weighs in with the obvious:

Independents are “the ones to watch,” according to Professor Robert Shapiro, a Columbia University expert on public opinion. “The Republicans were more pessimistic from the outset. The Democrats are going to be more resistant to negative information.”

The real question isn’t whether Obama can push a boulder to the top of a mountain. I think the independents are wondering whether His hands are even on the boulder.

For someone who’s trying to get a lot done that’s really hard to do, and fixing things that are really hard to fix, this President seems to spend an awful lot of time spending money and giving speeches. The palpable sense of frustration they feel is akin to a homeowner who takes out a steep second-mortgage to retain a contractor, and then as the summer days burn away at a furious pace — just watches the contractor do lots of talking instead of sawing, hammering, painting and paving. Yes, frustration sets in. Work isn’t getting done. Quite natural.

We’re back, alright.

Someday, we should really do something about scheduling our little hallucinogenic trips so they don’t fall on Election Day. Maybe we need to move Election Day to April 16 or something. Save us a lot of grief in the long run.

Credit to Gerard for the image.

The Half-Wit

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Received through the e-mail…

A man owned a small ranch in Montana. The Montana Work Force Department claimed he was not paying proper wages to his help and sent an agent out to interview him.

“I need a list of your employees and how much you pay them,” demanded the agent.

“Well,” replied the farmer, “there’s my farm hand who’s been with me for 3 years. I pay him $200 a week plus free room and board.”

“The cook has been here for 18 months, and I pay her $150 per week plus free room and board.”

“Then there’s the half-wit. He works about 18 hours every day and does about 90% of all the work around here. He makes about $10 per week, pays his own room and board, and I buy him a bottle of bourbon every Saturday night. He also sleeps with my wife occasionally.”

“That’s the guy I want to talk to … the half-wit,” says the agent.

“You’re talking to him right now.”

Hot Blondes Say Adios

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Becky, the Girl in Short Shorts Talking About Whatever, is high-tailing it out of the blogosphere. So too, coincidentally, is comic book fan and Obama supporter McBangle of McBangle’s Angle.

That’s a shame, they’re both creative and smart…although they do both suffer from impaired judgment since they don’t agree with me a hundred percent of the time. Nobody really does. But a lot of other blogs out there agree with someone a hundred percent of the time — they’re just puppets. They waste your time. These two ladies were never guilty of that. I’ll miss them.

We’ll mark the calendar for the end of the month, sometime, to give the sidebar a good pruning; it’s overdue. In the meantime, prowl through their older stuff. Becky’s place is probably a good one to browse after you go home from work…and after everyone else is in bed…but with your speakers turned off. Her music-of-the-day plays automatically, and she insists on her right to display partial nudity, rankling at any & all conventions and devices that might be used to separate her from more family-appropriate material. Those are both sins, in my book. But these are archives well worth browsing.

POTUS TOTUS Sat on a Stage

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Jennifer is trying her hand at nursery rhymes.

POTUS TOTUS sat on a stage
POTUS TOTUS displayed just a page
All of the promises
Scrolled on the screen
Can’t trust the press to know what it means.
POTUS TOTUS sat on a wall
POTUS TOTUS had a great fall…

Emilija Bunjac

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Hat tip to Conservative Grapevine.

Ten Greatest Movie Badasses of All Time

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Yup, we seem to be on a roll with post titles the feminists will find odious. But this is The Blog That Nobody Reads, so don’t go holding your breath for one of them to put up one of their own “I hate this thing I found over here now help me hate it” treatises.

What am I saying? Don’t hold your breath waiting for them not to do that; it’s all they do. So it’s like even money.

Anyway, getting back to the subject at hand

None of the stars of old are on the list. It seems to start sometime in the 1970′s. None of John Wayne’s characters made the cut, and you can forget about Kirk Douglas, Steve McQueen, Yul Brynner. Bronson did get in through the magic of his “Death Wish” movies.

I was glad to see Rambo at #2. Rambo’s the bomb. I had no idea a machine gun works so much better, if you yell while you’re firing it, until I saw Rambo II. In fact, now that I’ve seen that new Transformers movie I realize everything works better if you yell while you’re using it. Think I’ll try that at work today. Neither the mouthy kid nor Optimus Prime made this list, though.

The Macho Response

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

UglySo Gerard sent us a link in an offline, to a politically-incorrect blog out in the Bay Area…and we hadn’t checked it out too long before it became an imperative to slam it into the sidebar.

There is an occasional picture that is not quite appropriate to an office environment, although I’m not sure this by itself justifies a “NSFW” warning…language isn’t fit for family viewing. The ideas are definitely dangerous. Unsuitable opinions. Terrible taste. Pictures of strange ugly creatures. Yup, we’re cousins, alright.

And this link, which we got here, is definitely not to be missed. It’s one of my favorite subjects: Our continuing efforts to somehow motivate the limousine liberals to live up to the same standards they slap down on the rest of us…and our ongoing failure in this effort, as they continue to impose their aristocratic, stratified, two-yardstick solution on society…

You know all those fevered editorials they churn out over there at the New York Times editorial board? Like, for instance, the hot fury published on June 30 wonderfully titled “Firefighters and Race.”

In this jewel the Times editorial board makes its displeasure plain in the very first sentence, huffing that the Supreme Court decision in favor of the New Haven firemen has “dealt a blow to diversity in the American workplace.” This was followed by a July 14th column by Times columnist Dowd titled “White Man’s Last Stand,” to which we will return shortly.

But first, let’s get the meat into the stew. You can just smell that sizzling hypocrisy, can’t you?

It seems the “American workplace” (to use the Times description) that is the New Haven fire department has a higher percentage of minorities than the American workplace that is…yes indeed… the New York Times editorial board its very self. To be quite specific:

• The New Haven fire department, according to press accounts, is 43% black and Latino. Or, if you prefer the term of art, 43% of the fire department is “minority.”

• The New York Times editorial board, according to the information provided by The New York Times, is — wait for it — 12% black and Latino. Or, again, 12 % “minority” if you prefer the term.

• The New York Times Op-Ed page team of columnists, an elite group of which Ms. Dowd is a star, is 19% black and, again according to the Times listing of its Op-Ed page columnists, 0% Latino.

That’s right. At the core of the beating intellectual heart of the left-wing establishment where such things are studied with the detail of Talmudic scholars, the New Haven fire department is doing more than three times better on race than the very liberal elites who have set themselves up as its sniffy critics. Perhaps instead of seething about “Firefighters and Race” the Times would have been better served by pondering “Editorial Writers and Race.” Or perhaps: “Too Black to Write; New York Times Column Writing and Race.”

One set of rules for Manhattan, and a different set of rules for everybody else.

Our society-at-large hasn’t been getting serious about tackling that particular problem because we’re too worked up about the planet on which we live getting too hot to sustain life, due to our not being taxed enough. The responsible thinker cannot help but wonder if the two problems are not somehow related. Anybody know off the top of their head what the annual net carbon footprint is of the New York Times? Just throw me a hint. For all I know they could be printing it on every damn page; I seldom-to-never read the thing.

But I’m certainly gonna read this “Macho Response” guy.

Economic Reporting: Then and Now

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Hat tip: Blogger friend Duffy.

It Can Be Tough Being a Sci-Fi Fan

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

I was chuckling at some of the visceral reactions some of the more ardent Harry Potter fans have toward any & all criticism of their beloved spectacled smartass Chosen One movie character…and suddenly I realized how much flogging and abuse the ego of the average Sci Fi and comic book fan must endure. It really is a national tragedy when you think about it.

The “stardates” are all over the place. How come Mary Jane Parker has to keep getting kidnapped? No way is that Clarice, in my book, if it isn’t Jodie Foster playing her. Batgirl is supposed to be Commissioner Gordon’s daughter. Kyle Reese cannot possibly be Connor’s dad. I’ve never liked “Freeze Breath” as a superpower. Starbuck’s a girl, and so is M. Harry Potter is scandalized by Christians as something “occult.” One more Jedi ghost at that damned Ewok celebration, and you have to get a whole new Special Edition. Do Clark Kent’s shoes go under the cape? Sulu comes out. People who obviously never read the books or seen the films keep calling Frodo Baggins “Bilbo.” Texas Hold’Em at Casino Royale, who do they think they’re kidding? Nipples on the Batman costume. Why is Padme Amidala lusting after a ten-year-old boy? Nineteen years waiting for Superman to come back, and he doesn’t even fight any real monsters. Gollum doesn’t move right, looks like Tony the Tiger from the old cereal commercials. Where’s Kirk’s brother? Wolverine’s way too tall. Vanessa Kensington was a fembot all along? A Walther P99 can’t make a propane tank explode, didn’t you see that Mythbusters episode? A good old-fashioned lead bullet should take care of Darth Maul right quick, how come no one thinks of that? Nobody can agree on whether Wonder Woman should wear shorts, or whether she really has an invisible jet. Why are Mulder and Scully chasing the “Monster of the Week,” they were just about to find out what the Government’s been doing! It’s “David Banner”…not Bruce…David! Han Solo of all people should know “parsec” is a unit of distance. Cyclops didn’t get nearly enough face-time. Lara Croft shouldn’t have a tattoo there! All those pervs out there starting their “Hermione Granger legality countdown” web sites. Daredevil just plain sucks, and so does Elektra. Dumbledore’s dead…oh no wait, he isn’t, he’s gay, oh no he isn’t, he’s dead again. And then there’s Lucas, stomping on your childhood memories for fun. Greedo shoots first. Jar Jar Binks. Midichlorians. Indiana Jones and the nuclear-proof refrigerator, and what are space aliens doing in one of his movies?

So many abandoned alternative timelines, so much disbelief to be suspended, so much disappointment…fandom. It’s not for the timid.

How to Make a Car Last Three Hundred Thousand Miles

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

I’m timid when I barely know the subject matter, or don’t know it at all. But when it comes to making cars last a long time, I’ve achieved more than most have, and I’ve adjusted my humility to reflect that.

Who knows? Maybe this’ll help some folks out. If not, then at least it’s a chance for me to vent. Some of you folks who have been entrusted with a good chunk of the household finances, present & future, through the hunk of gleaming metal you get to command on the public roads…you haven’t quite earned this sense of trust. You need to brush up. So read on.

1. No automatic transmissions.

If your car is an automatic transmission, you have no business trying to follow this list; not unless you’re prepared to replace the automatic transmission, which is going to cost more than you think and will mostly invalidate what we’re doing here. Get another car that has an old-fashioned gearbox. Automatic transmissions are done at 100k, maybe 150k. No, I don’t care how good the modern technology is. Making a car last means spending some effort. Learn to work a clutch, get really good at it so you can start from a dead stop without knocking an egg off the dashboard.

2. No jackrabbit starts.

If you want to prove me wrong about what I just said with regard to automatics, don’t peel out. Just because you want to go sixty miles an hour, doesn’t mean you have to jump there. If you are feeling some “G” forces you’re doing it wrong.

3. Do everything as if your car weighs ten tons.

That means going and stopping. Drive like you’re in command of a logging truck, with tons of timber and really loose chains holding it all down. Your automatic transmission will thank you for that. In fact, this is all good advice for everyone whether they’re driving a real car or not. Think like a freight train. Or a barge on a river. Take about thirty seconds after the light turns green to get up to speed. If this annoys the fellow in back of you, let him pass.

4. Show some empathy.

Know those old westerns where the cowboy vaults into the saddle from the second floor of a saloon or a brothel? Yes, no man is ready, willing or able to do that in real life. But if your relationship to your car is something like that — “I got places to go, giddyap!” — you need to change that relationship. This is a two-way street, and your car needs things from you, too.

This goes double for the ladies. Just because it’s politically incorrect doesn’t mean it’s incorrect all-around: Most women, when they operate machinery in general, conduct themselves in a way that the only adjective truly fit to describe it is “peevish.” They act like a wife being forced to share the kitchen with her husband’s concubine. That probably captures the reason why just as well as it captures the phenomenon itself: Jealousy. Women also do the most bitching about car repair bills, speculating with some justification that they’re being given inflated quotes because of their sex.

Your suspicion may not be misplaced, but your jealousy is. You are not competing with this car for anything. The car is not taking anything from you. The car is your friend. If you need to remind yourself of that on a regular basis, then do so. And then, who knows, perhaps owning a car will be as economical for you as it is for most of the gentlemen. C’mon, admit it, you know it’s true. Men don’t use cars the same way you do. And we don’t hear the “time to go car shopping” speech quite as often from our mechanics. There is a connection. If nobody’s told you that yet, it’s time you found it out from somewhere.

5. Fluids. Check ‘em.

Fluids and belts. Gas, oil, coolant, PS, windshield washer, air in the tires.

6. Spend some real money on your fluids.

This is a pay-me-now-or-pay-me-later thing. Don’t go looking for reasons to throw money away, for there will always be someone willing to take it.

But if you only buy the finest name-brand medicine for your kids when they’re sick, and only the finest dog food for your puppy, but the cheapest utilitarian crap for your designated chariot, you just might be repaid for this stingy habit in a manner not convenient to you.

Mortality7. Choose your motor oil wisely.

Thicker oil in the summer, thinner oil in the winter. Natural/synthetic blend is best. Use high mileage formulas over 200k.

When I first bought Bessie, these were left to consumer discretion. Now they make all the choices for you at the station, and of course you’re forced to go there because there are dainty disposal requirements involved for the used oil. The pussification of America, whaddya gonna do.

You can still bring up the subject with your mechanic. Ask what’s going into the crankcase. Believe me, it has a far bigger effect on your day-to-day life, than the mechanic’s.

8. Premium gasoline, all the time, and I don’t care what anyone says.

I’m open to a reasonable discussion here. But if you haven’t gotten 340 thousand miles on one car out of your cheapass gasoline, then know your place.

9. As with a person’s health, the key is getting past life’s grander misadventures.

You want to pilot an old car, start thinking like an old person: Once you’ve celebrated your ninetieth, you know that when the end finally comes it will most likely be coming in the middle of some kind of event. Day-to-day, you’ll be just as vibrant as you were four decades previous; but someday you’ll check into the hospital for something trivial, something that would’ve been shrugged off those four decades ago, but this time you won’t check out again. Barring a terrorist attack, that’s how it ends for you after ninety. That’s what is slated for your wheels after nineteen. An event. So you’ll get warnings. But the upkeep required will increase exponentially whereas your attendance to the requirement will not. That’s the exit cue.

Learn enough about what makes your car go that when the time comes it’s not running quite right, you possess some knowledge for figuring out what’s amiss and the consequences involved in this deficiency.

You should know enough that, once you understand what isn’t working right, you can categorize this into one of the two: “limp along” or “power down.” A window that won’t roll up is “limp along.” A quart of oil disappearing every 3,000 miles is “limp along.” A major oil leak or a cracked radiator, is “power down.” It is your responsibility to know which is which.

If you don’t know, err on the side of caution, park safely, shut things off, call the tow truck.

10. Any little problem that has to do with cooling goes in the “power down” column.

Machines don’t react to heat the way people do, and all damage caused by heat is not immediately visible. Just remember, as the odometer rolls over and over again, that when this thing eventually goes the final blow will almost certainly be directly related to heat.

So if you’re in it to win it, and you’re not absolutely sure the oil is going where it needs to go, and the coolant is going where it needs to go…key OFF.

Thatisall.

How to Succeed as an Ayn Rand Character

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Hat tip: Smallest Minority.

Republicans to Confirm Soto…They Don’t Know What Else to Do

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Talk about pathetic. Geez Looweez

Republican Senators continued to weigh whether or not to back Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor Tuesday, with one lawmaker voicing support and most others holding back from announcing how they plan to vote.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was the only Republican to formally endorse Judge Sotomayor Tuesday, citing the top marks the American Bar Association awarded to the judge and her responses to senators’ questioning during last week’s four-day nomination hearing.

“I have concluded that Judge Sotomayor understands the proper role of a judge and is committed to applying the law impartially without bias or favoritism,” Ms. Collins said in a statement.

Four moderate Republicans have said they will support Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation.

Earlier in the day, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy suggested others may follow suit.

“There are a number of Republicans who have announced they plan to vote for her,” he said. “There are a number of others who’ve not made that announcement yet, but plan to vote for her.”

Racist, or No One Else IsAnd the GOP wants to know how to rebound. Hey guys. Here’s a wild, crazy idea: How about becoming the party of evidence? We saw last November how the other folks do it…Obama gives some speeches without saying anything — some fainting, “There’s Just Something About Him!!” and some pants-wetting — done deal. How about distinguishing yourselves from the competition by showing us how grown-ups think? Fact, opinion, thing-to-do, and hell with what everybody else thinks.

People say they don’t like that, but deep down they all know this is how responsible grown-ups think.

The evidence that Sonia Sotomayor is “brilliant,” inspired, intellectual, firing on all cylinders…even that she’s barely competent…has been lacking from Day One on this thing. What’ve you got to show me? I know you can make me feel good if I’m already biased in her favor. What’ve you got to change my mind if I’m not? Anything. Show me one little thing. There’s nothing.

The evidence that she’s a racist bitch on the other hand…

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor delivered multiple speeches between 1994 and 2003 in which she suggested “a wise Latina woman” or “wise woman” judge might “reach a better conclusion” than a male judge. Those speeches, released Thursday as part of Sotomayor’s responses to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s questionnaire, … suggest her widely quoted 2001 speech in which she indicated a “wise Latina” judge might make a better decision was far from a single isolated instance.

What is a racist, anyway?

Racism: A belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.

If Sonia Sotomayor doesn’t fulfill this standard, we need to get rid of it altogether, for then the word has no meaning whatsoever.

Congressman From Missouri Tries to Sell Obamacare

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

…and he’s dyin’ up there. Dyin’. You wouldn’t want any stand-up comedian to suffer this kind of indignity even if he’s your worst enemy.

Love that rhetorical question at the end.

Hat tip to Michelle Malkin, via Cassy.