Archive for October, 2011

Going Through the Gears

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Some of my wisdom on Facebook (subscription probably required), trying to figure out why liberals are liberals:

Seems to me they go through these stages. They start off like I was when I was ten, and Carter was about to be elected…”Well if we have these poor people out there, why wouldn’t we try & do right by them?” From there, it seems they shift forward…very much like a car entering a freeway entrance ramp from a traffic meter, from a dead stop, going through the gears…at some point they make up their minds that everyone with a different viewpoint must be a Bad Persontm.

After I jotted that down, I thought back on all my years arguing with libs and I realized there is some irony here: They are backed into a corner of thinking, those with different viewpoints are Bad Peopletm. They don’t set out wanting to come to this conclusion…well, the ones who start out being nice people, they don’t. They are choosing this option after other avenues have been blocked.

I think they are pushed into this corner by…or perhaps, they were once themselvesCheesecake Nazis, the people who leap to take over any social event where people get into discussions about politics, to stop them from discussing politics. Presumably because of practical matters, like people need to stop discussing politics anyway, to be served cheesecake. Which, when you think about it, you realize isn’t true.

Cheesecake Nazis are always serving cheesecake, though. After the cheesecake has been devoured, if you want to go back to discussing politics, the Cheesecake Nazi will stop you. And, you’ll notice, they’re usually still serving their cheesecake when the political discussion hasn’t even turned nasty.

So there is the irony: Cheesecake Nazi acts out of fear that a discussion about ideological viewpoints is going to turn rancid and acrimonious — and then she makes it that way.

MaherI suppose it varies on a case-by-case basis whether the Cheesecake Nazi is the liberal running through these “gears,” these different stages of becoming a frenzied, agenda-driven conservative-bashing liberal…or…whether she is acting upon the person going through that transformation. It doesn’t really matter. This is a pressure that has been placed on us all by our modern society as a whole, rather than by any individual within it: We are to put on a good show of thinking things through and coming to our own opinions about things, but we aren’t supposed to actually be doing it.

And so, given those incentives and pressures, the only place we can end up when we set out to fulfill all of the most clear expectations, is — another irony — like the “politically incorrect” guy Bill Maher. Most progressive position possible on each & every issue that comes along, suspecting the absolute worst about anybody who has a different opinion, denigrating both character and intellect, and rude as all holy fuck about it. That would be your “overdrive” gear, with all the others just transitional phases on the way toward getting there.

Ritchie is Down

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

We posted a badge in our sidebar to honor Steve Jobs when he passed away a few days ago; don’t everybody line up to give me a whallopin’ over this, but I think this obituary, today, is more worthy of our notice. At least, as a technologically advanced society seeking out its own roots and looking to offer credit where it is due. Dennis M. Ritchie, creator of Unix and the C programming language:

After a long illness, Dennis Ritchie, father of Unix and an esteemed computer scientist, died last weekend at the age of 70.

Ritchie, also known as “dmr”, is best know for creating the C programming language as well as being instrumental in the development of UNIX along with Ken Thompson. Ritchie spent most of his career at Bell Labs, which at the time of his joining in 1967, was one of the largest phone providers in the U.S. and had one of the most well-known research labs in operation.

Working alongside Thompson (who had written B) at Bell in the late sixties, the two men set out to develop a more efficient operating system for the up-and-coming minicomputer, resulting in the release of Unix (running on a DEC PDP-1) in 1971.

The thing I think people are missing is this: Under the tutelage of Jobs, Apple released generations of high quality products that “just plain worked” and so forth. But you generally can’t build something else with those. So Apple products get credit as the gunpowder in the bullet cartridge, not as the “primer cap” that sets off the chain reaction.

Now to be clear about it: That is something. User interface is tricky; Steve Jobs made it his life’s work to wrestle with something that people like me would just as soon avoid. But there is another talent involved in building the building block itself. That is the skill upon which we truly rely. And so I have a hope that Ritchie’s passing will attract as much notice and attention as Steve Jobs’. I know that’s a futile hope, but I’ll entertain it nevertheless.

You could also a good case that this is all a red herring, it ain’t no competition. Well, of course it isn’t a competition. But it’s a decent counterpoint: What does it good to take notice and show proper reverence to the passing of a designer of user interfaces, and all-but-entirely ignore the passing of the designer of the tools that are used to build stuff? It’s like lining up for the funeral of the guy who trimmed the tree, and taking a pass on the funeral of the guy who planted the seed. And so I offer that this passing is just as worthy of our notice; dare I say even moreso.

The Ten Greatest Moments From OWS So Far

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

John Hawkins catalogs ’em for your displeasure. Bear in mind, I didn’t bolt on the last two words “so far,” I took them from his original headline.

Pretty sure #8 is my favorite:

This kooky list of demands on the Occupy Wall street forum was picked up everywhere as their list of demands. It includes items like, raising “the minimum wage to twenty dollars an hour,” “Open borders migration. anyone can travel anywhere to work and live,” and “immediate across the board debt forgiveness” for everyone “on the entire planet.” Because this sounds all too plausible given the gang of braindead rabble attending the Occupy protests across the country, people bought it. But actually, the Occupy Wall Street people want you to know, “There is NO official list of demands.” In other words, they have no idea why they’re camping in the park like hobos. No idea at all. [bold emphasis mine]

This clip Rick posted seems to capture this sense of “Why Are We Here” confusion. Interesting question raised by the comment at the end: Are things better organized in New York? I’ve been watching New York; I’m not so sure.

“About Those 53 Percent”

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Lefty blogger Steve Benen had an exciting day day yesterday, enjoying two of the big-font links on the front page of Memeorandum. After reading his work, though, I have to wonder if Memeorandum is being managed by his mother or something. What a bizarre way liberals have of “proving” things they want proven. In this case, Benen puts forward the notion, not that the 53 percent quotient which is the selection of persons who pay federal income taxes should be bigger, but that maybe it should be smaller.

I should qualify that, since this is a writer who chooses his words not so much carefully or skillfully, but in an “oily” way…you’ll see what I mean, below. He doesn’t take the responsibility of “putting forward the notion,” what he puts forward is a crafty assemblage of words that powerfully persuade the casual reader to think this notion.

This would, of course, damage the progressive argument that our tax system is insufficiently punitive against the hated rich. But the friendly-fire is a small price to pay for Benen, who just wants to laugh at people. In this case, for thinking they pay federal income taxes when they really don’t.

There are all kinds of problems with the right’s [“We Are The 53%”] approach here, including the fact that they seem to want to increase working-class taxes and also seem entirely unaware of the fact that it was Republican tax cuts that pushed so many out of income-tax eligibility in the first place. There’s also the small matter of some of those claiming to be in “the 53 percent” aren’t actually shouldering a federal income tax burden at all, but are apparently unaware of that fact.

Ooh! He’s got a link! Let’s click it open. His entire argument rests on this “fact,” after all, which he explicitly calls a “fact.” Well, most of his argument does anyway…definitely more than 53% of it. And I don’t see anything on Benen’s page that provides support for the idea that the 53% needs to be tapered down, so let’s open a new browser tab and find out what support is available for this “fact.”

We are taken to a blog called, simply, “A plain blog about politics” and the post in question is called “That 53% Tumblr.” The part that apparently made an impression on Benen, is:

…the other story in the “53%” group is that I’m pretty confident that a substantial portion of them…don’t actually pay income taxes, and therefore are not, in fact, part of the 53% of households who do. For example, this citizen claims to be a college senior working “30+ hours a week making just barely over minimum wage.” Which is great and all, but if that’s all he’s got he’s not paying any income tax. Just as a guess, I’d be surprised if any fewer than 10% of the posters are actually income-tax free, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s about 50/50.

What I’d be curious about is what some of these folks would say if they realized that they’re not actually part of “the 53%.” Of course, to be fair they all do pay taxes; they just — perhaps — don’t pay income taxes. [emphasis mine]

Now from where I sit, “A plain blog” hasn’t done anything wrong here at all, in fact his hypothesis makes good sense to me. He doesn’t claim to have proven anything, he’s mostly just questioning things. His one definite statement, “if that’s all he’s got he’s not paying any income tax,” is true so far as I know…and if it’s not true in that particular individual’s case for some reason, I’d agree he probably needs to go see a tax professional.

Now Benen, too, could perhaps be regarded as mostly ship-shape if you read his letters and words with surgical precision, as if you’re reading a statement from Bill Clinton containing the word “is.” But the spirit of it is just plain phony. What’s it mean to you, in common-sense land, when you read a statement like “There’s also the small matter of some of those claiming to be in ‘the 53 percent’ aren’t actually shouldering a federal income tax burden at all.” Yes he uses the word “claiming.” “A plain blog”‘s link is not working for me, so I don’t know first-hand what this person is claiming or how he’s claiming it. Is this a reference to the person being part of the movement?

The title of Benen’s piece is “about those 53 percent,” which certainly offers a powerful nudge in the direction of concluding that a quotient is to be subjected to challenge. Seems to me, if Benen’s beef is that the group should be named differently because there are people in the membership sympathetic to the message, but who do not pay federal income taxes…it’s a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Is he challenging the percentage figure, or something else? Does he even know what he’s challenging?

But the bigger problem is with the proof of this “fact.” Benen is known to me, from past experience I recall only in the hazy outline of the lessons learned but not in the details, as a voice often indulging in patterns like these: He seems to be assembling these posts for the benefit of fellow liberals who want to dredge up some more talking points to use against conservatives at social functions, in discussions in which details & facts are not going to be examined too closely. And, perhaps as a result of this, a lot of his “facts” turn out to rely on some guy somewhere thinking something and saying “I wouldn’t be surprised if.”

A bigger problem? If I were ever part of the 99% and found myself skimming over the posts in the 53% tumblr for myself…I dunno, maybe this is just me being weird or something…but, just speaking for myself, I’d see a lot more than just some isolated opportunities to write deceptive lefty blog posts with oily wording to beat up on the tumblr people. There is a lesson ambling to the forefront as you read the pages from these fifty-three-percenters. Actually, it sort of reaches out of the monitor and smacks you. It’s not a new lesson by any means: You’re the captain of your own vessel in this big ocean called life, you have options, you have opportunities, there are things you can do. Some of them aren’t as sociable as marching on Wall Street, some of them are boring, some of them might involve taking off your headphones and maybe wearing some job-interview-acceptable clothes now & then. But the opportunities are there.

Takes a certain mindset to protest. A better, stronger, more advanced civilization does not always lie in that direction; maybe what we’re learning here is, more often than not, that’s where the slackers go. Nope, not saying I can prove that. Just a gut feel.

Obama’s Party is Breaking Ranks on the Jobs Bill

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

The Hill:

Democratic leaders in the Senate are scrambling to avoid defections on President Obama’s jobs package, which appears headed for defeat on Tuesday.

A lack of Democratic unity on the president’s bill would be embarrassing for the White House, which has been scolding House Republicans for refusing to vote on the measure.

Obama has been touring the country, aiming to put pressure on the GOP to act. But Senate Democrats have indicated they are feeling some heat. Last week, Democratic leaders revised Obama’s bill, scrapping his proposed offsets. Instead of raising taxes on families making more than $250,000 annually, Senate Democrats lifted that figure to $1 million.

Despite the changes, the legislation still does not enjoy the support of all 53 senators who caucus with the Democrats. A handful of Democrats are undecided or leaning no on the bill.

Democrats who will vote no or are leaning no include Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Ben Nelson (Neb.), who all hail from red states and are up for reelection next year.

Republican and Democratic analysts say it will be politically difficult for Obama to blame the GOP for blocking the bill if more than a few conservative Democrats break ranks.

“It is important to have the vast majority of your people, because what we are doing here is a political exercise at the moment, since there doesn’t seem to be any chance that the Republican side really wants to do anything,” said Steve Elmendorf, a senior adviser to former House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt (Mo.) for 12 years. “This needs to be a 90 percent vote.”

Well, I’m hoping like the dickens it’s defeated in one way or another, just because we’ve already seen the economic recovery power to be enjoyed by means of spending stimulus and it seems to be nine steps forward & ten steps back. But this could be a big nothing…maybe Biden ends up breaking the tie. Or, a bunch more democrats defect and the whole thing is a big flop.

Not too much to be learned from this particular story, except the opportunity to watch one of these super-duper charismatic speech-makers who construct these narratives…I mean the Obama-like people, who spin these tall tales and then start believing them…and then reality, inconveniently, fails to obey. After all that money I paid to pollute the environment, in the form of my President flying around on Air Force One creating this fiction about Republicans gumming up the works with the Jobs Bill. And, as is always the case, He did such an excellent job giving all those speeches! But now we see Republican obstructionism doesn’t have a whole lot to do with it.

At this point, the best case scenario is: Early recovery, in the form of Obama’s re-election becoming a more and more dismal and remote prospect, up to some point where the “smart money” starts to move away from Him. And then businesses will start to anticipate a change in policy well before the elections, and take a gamble. That’s our best hope right now. But I’m not going to believe my own wild, tall tale, I’m going to wait for it to happen. Still & all, it’s a good hope to have.

We know what doesn’t work.

Static Scoring

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Learned something today. Neal Boortz went off on the Congressional Budget Office’s forecast that this latest proposed tax increase on the wealthy, this time, for once, is sure to make a dent in the deficit.

The Congressional Budget Office did say that the 5.6% surtax on millionaires would bring in $450 billion over 10 years. But here’s the rub: The Congressional Budget Office is compelled by law to make a static analysis of changes in the tax law. The CBO cannot issue a dynamic analysis. This works to the favor of those who propose ever-higher taxes.

Here’s an explanation from Wikipedia of static economic scoring vs. dynamic:

Static analysis, static projection, and static scoring are terms for simplified analysis wherein the effect of an immediate change to a system is calculated without respect to the longer term response of the system to that change. Such analysis typically produces poor correlation to empirical results.

Its opposite, dynamic analysis or dynamic scoring, is an attempt to take into account how the system is likely to respond to the change. One common use of these terms is budget policy in the United States, although it also occurs in many other statistical disputes.

Now .. a question for you. Do you think that there is any chance in the world that the high achievers subject to this punitive 5.6% surtax are going to find a way to change their economic behavior when this tax goes into effect? These people aren’t exactly picking up paychecks every two weeks from some employer. They earn their money in a variety of ways – imaginative ways – often from the operations of businesses and through investment techniques. These people are going to move to take advantage of information technologies, tax laws and the ease with which money is moved electronically around the world in order to find a way to moderate the impact of this class warfare tax.

None of this is news to anybody who’s been making a point of digging in a little bit deeper, going beyond Jon Stewart, Bill Maher and the six o’clock news, making some effort to figure out why governments at all levels seem to be perpetually in debt…maybe tuning into some right-wing hate radio now & then. We vote in these people who can wear suits well and talk well and have big hair, then they bring in these “brain trusts” and the brain trusts sit down and try to manage the economy with third-grade math: Okay, we’re short five million dollars, this industry over here is a hundred million dollars a year, so we’ll hike the tax rate five percent and the problem’s solved.

And, if you’ve been doing this digging, you’ll not be surprised to learn our federal government requires itself, through the CBO, to think in this primitive way.

But here’s where I learned something new. I went and found the Wikipedia page that Boortz (for some reason) didn’t link…it’s not hard to find at all, and I’d already read it over a couple of times in the last few years, since this is a subject that comes up now & then…and I read it again. Well, I must have missed this before:

The term was used in 1977 in an international academic journal, in a discussion of tax policy. In recent years, it has become very common in academic, business and political discussions of US government economic policy. [emphasis mine]

Uh, just WOW…pretty fuckin’ late. So I was mowing lawns in my holey-jeans earning money to go see Star Wars…and these economists who are supposed to know everything, were just starting to invent some phrases to describe the idea that maybe tax revenue shortfalls cannot be solved by means of simple multiplication.

I want to be fair here, it’s entirely reasonable to expect some of the professionals in the field might have noticed this, without explicitly coming up with a name to describe it. But if it’s all about “reasonable,” I would have to file that under “possible but not likely.” Even today, the notion that there might be a curvilinear relationship is conflated with the “Laffer Curve” and there’s a lot of progressive propaganda out there that this has been “debunked,” although the regurgitators of this propaganda cannot give you a decent explanation as to why it is debunked. That’s because it has not been, and cannot be.

In fact, it’s pretty easy to prove. In geometry, three points on two dimensions will define a curve, and three can be defined with respect to tax revenues: Zero revenue at zero percent, probably-zero-revenue at a hundred percent, and non-zero revenue at something between zero & a hundred percent. None of these three points require experimentation, none can be subjected to serious intellectual challenge. If you accept the three, then the laws of geometry say you have to accept that there is a curve.

The argument then becomes — presuming you can keep the progressive engaged in an honest and coherent discussion this long, and that’s a little like giving a pill to a cat — on what side is such-and-such a tax policy on, relative to the apex of that curve? Are we on the left side, meaning we can still ratchet up that tax rate a point or two & rustle up some more bucks…or are we on the far side?

Well if you read that last paragraph of what Boortz wrote, and ponder for awhile what it means, you realize the ramifications are that the curve’s apex migrates toward the left when you start to deal with higher incomes. Or, at least, when you start to deal with the entrepreneurial mind, which almost by definition is going to be inhospitable to the idea of keeping-on doing things just because that’s-the-way-we-always-done ’em. You go down toward the trenches, and you’ll start to deal with people who are more interested in just constructing a routine that works. They’re not quite there yet, or if they’re there, it takes some effort to “make ends meet.” So they’re at the make-ends-meet stage. Unlikely to change behavior based on a revised tax policy. The apex moves toward the right, and you have more latitude to raise taxes and still realize revenue…maybe…we don’t really know that, because we aren’t too aggressive about taxing people down there.

But what we do know is there’s a long trail of wreckage and failure behind this notion of “taxing the millionaires and billionaires.” These are individuals highly likely to change their behavior in response to a new tax policy. And that is not to say they are necessarily more intelligent people. All this overlooks the issue of bracket mobility. People start out trying to build that routine that works, that is sustainable, and then if they’re a mind to, they’ll start looking at new routines that do more than work. Less security, more opportunity. That’s after they’ve stopped associating with the old college roommate who comes by to practice guitar-playing on Friday nights, drinking all the beer in the house. Life throws you the same lessons over & over until you learn them, and then it moves on to some different lessons to throw at you over and over again until you learn those. Some of us graduate from one lesson to the next, a little quicker than others. Some of us settle for a humble station in life, others don’t. The point is this: If you’re the type to forsake the paycheck every 15 days and try to make a living on your wits, and you actually manage to succeed at that — you are highly, highly unlikely to just bend over and take it just because your local, state or federal government thinks it’s time to “make the millionaires and billionaires with their private jets pay their fair share.” Odds are, you will find a way to adapt and survive.

And the government will not take in what it was planning — according to straight-edge, third grade math — to take in. It has been ever thus.

But I’m rather flabbergasted to see we were only just starting to come up with terms to describe this, in ’77. What an awful lot of time, before that, for all the misery and the struggling, apparently without too much disciplined thought about what was happening. “Brain trusts,” you say? My goodness…what was it I was saying about life handing you the same lesson over & over until you learn it?


Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Making the rounds on Facebook now…

I’m hoping this lives on beyond Occupy Wall Street. It will be needed during next year’s campaign season, of that I have no doubt.

Update: Also…

From here.

Update: From Gerard. This is good too…

“The Solyndra Economy”

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Damn it. I know I was thinking that, I believe I forgot to write it down anywhere. But, yeah that pretty much captures it doesn’t it? The Solyndra Economy. That’s what we’ve got. A capitalism crazy-quilt, with enough panels removed and replaced with command-economy knitting that the original only continues to exist in a halfassed hodge-podge unrecognizable mishmash of what it was.

The more we learn about the Solyndra solar-company debacle, the more the Obama Administration leaps to defend the $535 million loan guarantee. “There were going to be some companies that did not work out; Solyndra was one of them,” President Obama told reporters Thursday. Earlier in the week he told ABC News “if we want to compete with China, which is pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into this space…we’ve got to make sure that our guys here in the United States of America at least have a shot.”

And there you have America’s Solyndra economy, as the White House understands it: Washington allocates capital, and taxpayers pick up the tab if those choices go bust. Through this political lens, the August bankruptcy of the Fremont, Calif. company was a necessary casualty in the greater campaign to steer the U.S. economy toward Mr. Obama’s noble goals. Private competition that winnows out losers is so yesterday.

As it happens, we’re getting a look at what this world of political investment entails thanks to Administration emails released last week by House Democrats on the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and the White House. Democrats say the emails reveal a “vigorous internal debate” about the Solyndra deal and dispel accusations of crony capitalism.

The opposite is closer to reality. Solyndra received federal help in 2009 and never turned a profit. In March 2010, PriceWaterhouseCoopers raised questions about the company’s solvency. The next month, a White House Office of Management and Budget staffer worried that the Department of Energy “has one loan to monitor and they seem completely oblivious.” Another said it was “terrifying” to consider that some of DOE’s next projects would make Solyndra look “better.”

To be fair about it, “pure” capitalism already saddles us with an endless procession of sad situations in which resources are allocated according to who’s-friends-with-who, rather than what would be best for consumers and other stakeholders. But a centrally planned economy does nothing to fix this, if anything it exacerbates the situation. When you have a free economy and the consumer is in charge, there’s always some corrective force applied to it. It doesn’t win out at the end of the day, true; it doesn’t even win most of the time. But at least the corrective force intensifies as the problem gets worse, and it’s easy to forget that what we see of the problem is really just the remnants of it after the unacceptably odious parts of it have been quietly cleaned up.

A command economy lacks this clean-up device, and so, over time, the problem has to get worse. It can’t do anything else.

“Mass Moronization”

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Boortz links to Steyn. You know already this will be good:

The Occupy Wall Street kids claim to have been inspired by the Arab Spring revolutions earlier this year, which toppled many regimes in the Middle East. The Occupy Wall Street kids are nothing like those who participated in the Arab Spring revolutions. Unlike the revolutions in the Middle East, the Occupy Wall Street kids don’t have common stated goal .. the overthrow of the government for instance. Instead, their general purpose to gather together to whine. What are they whining about? They are whining because they want the government to seize the wealth from the people who are earning it and give it to them, among other things. They are whining because they want a Command economy, whereby the government controls prices, dictates wages and directs which industries will succeed and which ones will fail. They want this type of economy, because they themselves have failed to thrive in a capitalist economy, whereby their abilities dictate how much they earn, not the government. These kids do not want more freedom, like those who were protesting in Egypt, Tunisia, etc. These kids want LESS freedom and MORE government. Ironic .. isn’t it?

The incomparable Mark Steyn has some insight into what is going on here.

In the old days, the tribunes of the masses demanded an honest wage for honest work. Today, the tribunes of America’s leisured varsity class demand a world that puts “people before profits.” If the specifics of their “program” are somewhat contradictory, the general vibe is consistent: They wish to enjoy an advanced Western lifestyle without earning an advanced Western living. The pampered, elderly children of a fin de civilisation overdeveloped world, they appear to regard life as an unending vacation whose bill never comes due …

Ah, but the great advantage of mass moronization is that it leaves you too dumb to figure out who to be mad at.

I like that: Mass moronization. But Mark Steyn is exactly right. This is what happens when you raise a generation that knows nothing about hard work or sacrifice. This is a generation where kids played soccer because their mommies were afraid of them getting hurt in other sports where people throw balls and hit each other. Their mommies wanted to make sure that everyone got a trophy just for participating because everyone is “special.” This is a generation that was told to shoot for their dreams, without any sense of reality – “How will I pay the bills as an artist if no one wants to buy my stuff” or “how will I pay my $80,000 in student loans with a degree in Women’s Studies?” Their whole lives, mommy and daddy had protected them from the painful realities of a real world driven by competition. Until now … and now that their mommies and daddies are also out of work, they have no one to turn to.

Someone over on the Hello Kitty of Blogging made the observation that a part of the frustration that is driving the protests, by no means a small one, is the fresh-faced college grad emerging into the world of work to find out his or her degree is worthless. Paraphrasing what he observed next: A degree, classically, has been inferred to mean you are at the very least least trainable. And it seems in our present time that is no longer the case, that can no longer be inferred.

Well I have my own observations about this. “A degree means you’re trainable” is, in itself, a dwindling and a shriveling from the way it was explained to me last time I was counseled to go back to school, which was not that long ago. So there is evidence that the business/academic trust conduit is going through a decades-long softening, in stages, here: First off, a high school diploma meant you knew some generalized things, and a degree meant you knew some specialized things. At some point, the high school diploma showed that you were trainable, not that you knew anything, and the degree showed you used that training to learn some things. Then we entered a period where both of them showed you were trainable, not necessarily that you knew much of anything, but the high school diploma showed you were enrolled into the system and your parents didn’t keep your existence secret while you lived in a cave somewhere, you had all your immunizations, from a thirteen-year experience someone managed to come up with a GPA number that nobody would ever see…the degree meant that you, or your parents, were willing to part with some loot to entertain ambitions that you’d be the boss of something someday.

And then the high school diploma meant nothing and the degree meant you were trainable.

Now the degree means jack squat. And it costs a goddamn fortune.

How come it isn’t an “Occupy Dean’s Office” protest? Maybe it should be the “Occupy the Beltway” protest. As a Hotmail user, whenever I check my e-mail at certain times of the day I’ll see these cartoon women in the right sidebar with a lot of propaganda lettering exhorting me — Microsoft has been convinced for a long time I’m female, for some reason, I imagine my first name is loaded into some database table that way somewhere — to go back to school and Barack Obama will pay for it. See, that’s one thing that’s been left out of the discussions entirely. Whenever government subsidizes something, the producers of that thing lose any & all incentive to try to keep their prices competitive. Why bother? Obama will pay for it. And so the cost of the thing shoots out of sight. Anybody else out there who wants to pay for it out of their own wallet, now must compete with the government in a bidding war. Corn, borrowed money, apartment leases, oil products…and college tuition & textbooks.

Add to that the problem that President Obama thinks, for the good of the country, we need to increase the number of college graduates. Seems like a swell idea, at first, if you don’t understand the laws of supply and demand. The situation in which this places a college upperclassman, is something I would not wish on my worst enemy. More college graduates! Great, so after my parents take out that second- or third-mortgage, I’m going to enter the workforce with this impressive piece of paper to hang on the wall…that…everyone else…also has. Aw, that’s just spiffy. Thanks a bunch, Barack.

Mass Moronization. Good term. But the moronization has started to hurt us, long before it became mass…

Qwikster is Deadster

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Killed, dead, before it even launched.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings delivered the news via a blog post this morning, reversing a decision he announced via a blog post three weeks ago. Though the Web site for Qwikster, the would-be DVD-only service, said Sunday night that it was “launching soon,” it will never launch at all. The URL now directs visitors to the main Netflix site.

While Netflix had to use some strained logic to explain its decision last month, this one is straightforward: It’s not going to force customers to use two different services to rent DVDs and streaming video, because customers hated that idea.

Wall Street didn’t like it, either. After Netflix unveiled its Qwikster plans, its stock, which had been tumbling since July, fell another 25 percent — from $155 on September 16 to $117 last Friday.

Just this last Friday, I was bitching to someone at work that this Reed Hastings guy seems to be apologizing for something every time I hear from him, and I’ve lately begun to entertain the thought he’s one of these people who screw up on purpose just so they can apologize. Ever know anyone like that?

Fiance is flying back home today. I was just about to sit down with her & figure out exactly how we wanted to downsize our 6-disc Netflix subscription. Wouldja freakin’ hold still so we can figure out what to do with ya?

Attention, all powerful people who run things: When you’re contradicting yourself and taking a hairpin-turn route bulldozing your own ideas, or nobody ever seems to say anything good about them unless they’re on your payroll, or it starts to seem appropriate to play some Three Stooges music when your ideas are being discussed…you might be having one of those “George Lucas invents Jar Jar Binks” moments. The failure to distinguish between the ideas of “I built something that seems to have taken off here” and “I am absolutely incapable of making mistakes.” Those are two different situations. Seems like it shouldn’t be hard to keep that in mind, but failing to keep it in mind, does seem to have become the plague of our times.

Occupy Wall Street Protest Song

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

Thanks to blogger friend Phil.

“Bitchy Princess”

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

Sometime between the ages of 0 and what I am now…I can’t recall if it was before or after the age of our “married couple” here…I figured out there’s just no up-side to trying to come out ahead of the woman. It’s better just to let her have the last word, grab your coat, go out & get a beer.

Some fellas figure this out quicker than others…

“Why Do Today’s Men Act Like Toddlers?”

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

Flashback to when I first discovered the wonderful wisdom of blogger friend Gerard:

You hear this soft, inflected tone everywhere that young people below, roughly, 35 congregate. As flat as the bottles of spring water they carry and affectless as algae, it tends to always trend towards a slight rising question at the end of even simple declarative sentences. It has no timbre to it and no edge of assertion in it.

The voice whisps across your ears as if the speaker is in a state of perpetual uncertainty with every utterance. It is as if, male or female, there is no foundation or soul within the speaker on which the voice can rest and rise. As a result, it has a misty quality to it that denies it any unique character at all.

I hope this is not a case of plagiarism against our blog-uncle, because if it is one, it works at a sluggish, pokey pace. Good choice in figuring out what to plagiarize though…and I deplore, in the strongest terms, that all these years later it remains an unchanged but equally timely subject. This says something about our society, and what it says is not good:

If you are forced to use public transport, you see them all the time. Soppy young blokes in skinny jeans, hair artfully arranged to mimic a guinea pig in a hurricane, being mollycoddled by a domineering, post-Spice Girls vixen who, if figures released last week are correct, also earns more than him.
It’s not just young bucks. Men who would once have been called middle-aged are behaving like teenagers, faces nourished by some male consumer-targeted unction (because he’s worth it), huddled over their Nintendo Wii or iPhone, desperate to ignore the spectre of maturity tapping on their shoulder.
Remember the boyband East 17? I think the rot might have set in there. They looked like they had borrowed their big brothers’ clothes and crooned: ‘If you’ve got to go away, don’t think I can stand the pain.’ Just like a child to his mother on his first day at school.

What a weird century. We fret endlessly about little girls growing up too quickly, while men regress back to the womb.

We can ask: What would happen if, today, a man on the silver screen dashed in to save a helpless female who’d been placed in some awful death trap by an unscrupulous villain while she just…waited to be saved? James Bond saves Honey Rider from being drowned at the end of Doctor No, or Dudley Doright severs the binds that tie Nell Fenwick to the railroad tracks, or Superman saves Lois Lane from some elaborate death trap cobbled together by Lex Luthor…and the females do nothing. No slapping the bad guy across the face, or spitting in it. Heck, more recently than that, Marion Ravenwood wasn’t doing a whole lot while waiting for Indiana Jones to save her. She clobbered some guy with a skillet, but mostly just hid in a basket getting moved around. Can you make a movie like that today? A decisive NO.

It’s boycott-based feminism. Revolutionary-minded females put the movie industry on notice that the male heroism was disposable, and the female heroism was not. Have the chick do something, or we’re not going to see it. In this demand, they brandished a feminine power that, although they pretended it was new, was anything but. In truth, Grandpa didn’t see movies Grandma didn’t want to see. Car salesmen were never as excited seeing your grandfather browse their lots, unless the little lady was with him. Women have driven consumerism as long as consumerism has been around. What happened, somewhere around the seventies and eighties, is they got bitchier.

Usually when I talk about movies as they relate to the broader picture of what’s happening to us, I treat them as a symptom. In this case, they are a cause. Movies have become more and more of a kid thing. Back in my day, when you were in the pre-teen years a movie was an occasional treat, and you saw them a bit more often when you started dating. Nowadays it seems things have become reversed; the pre-teen set is the target market, and I don’t even want to ask what comes later. But it seems once kids are about fifteen they’re done with movies. So there are no slasher movies about murdering madmen rampaging through a summer camp; only occasionally, and they’re mostly straight to video. The IMAX screen is saved for adorable feel-good things about dolphins with prosthetic tails, and comic book superheroes. Who do not, repeat do not, save the damsel in distress.

The movie industry is cause rather than effect, here, because young people are impressionable. They pick up on messages that it is their destiny to get in a laser sword fight with Darth Vader and bring peace and order to the galaxy…or…to make asses out of themselves so that the leading lady can lead, and feel good about herself, and laugh at the silly toddler-man, and most of all, find him completely adorable. Occasionally. When he isn’t annoying her.

The tenor of the message has changed, the message has changed, and now our young men have changed.

I’m afraid this ties into the Occupy Wall Street movement, because that demonstration has offered young men a rare opportunity to say absolute things, express absolute thoughts, with certainty and conviction, without being criticized for it. They appreciate this opportunity all the more because it is only occasional. But two questions arise from this: One, are things like certainty & conviction genuine, when they can & will be expressed only when there is assurance that criticism will not result?

And two: What does it say about a so-called “man,” when he possesses certainty & conviction only when he discusses the deconstruction of some unknown stranger’s right to earn and own property? And on all other subjects he reverts, with all the reliability of gravity, right back to the dreaded emasculated tone of the American Castrati? What do we know about someone who is certain about the world in which he lives, only when he seeks to destroy things, along with people who built those things and might build other things?

DJEver Notice? LXVII

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

Someday, I should make a point of starting a recurring headline that runs something like “What they told me is going on all over the place, and I must not be paying attention because I can’t find any examples” but shorter. (For all that loquacity, I still haven’t defined who the “they” is, and I don’t know if I can.) It’s been a somewhat eventful week, but I’d have no problem picking out the single event from this week that would appear under such a headline — whatever comes in second-place isn’t even close.

The all-time champion phenomenon of the “What they told me is going on everywhere” category for the week ending October 7, 2011 is: The weepy, inconsolable, overly-emotional Sarah Palin fan.

Oh, there may be some somewhere. But it seems like an example or two should have been presented with the recurring meme, and none have been brought, nor can I find any. And I have little reason to expect to. People who place great value on their own emotional state, are not well represented within the Palin fan base; such people all too often hopped on the “She’s so stupid and I just hate her, Grrrr!” bandwagon three years ago. Today, if you want illogical and overly-dramatic reactions to things, you need to go talk to them. And you should; from what I’ve actually seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears, Gov. Palin’s announcement has sent them into something worth studying, for purposes of research into behavioral health science. I’m picking up feelings of euphoria, as if something meaningful has been accomplished, by them, although the only thing that’s changed is a possibility has been eliminated that, according to them, never enjoyed probability significance. And I detect trace quantities of some feeling of betrayal, as if Sarah Palin owed it to them, to run for President.

To the last person, all of the Sarah Palin enthusiasts I know, have reacted coolly and rationally to this: Okay, that’s out, so to whom do we pledge our support? ABO stands for Anybody But Obama. And that’s that. Efficiently, coldly, rationally, if-this-then-that, just like a computer processor. Well…a computer processor with a drive to win, anyway.

Got any exceptions to this? Any Palin fans acting like Michael Jackson fans who just can’t believe the music’s gone, or Barbra Streisand fans who missed the flight to the latest Final Farewell Tour? Go on, educate me. Fix my mistake; I’ll man up.

Simon’s Cat

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

From Daphne.

Best Sentence CXVI

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Gonna award it to myself this time, for my awesome Facebook status:

Lefists talk a lot about “equality” but so much of what they do has to do with aggravating inequalities that already exist. Government’s record-breaking budget needs to be bigger; a day of protest for a bunch of complaining jackwagons who’ve never had jobs; more stoking & feeding of the ego of Michael Moore; and let’s have another speech from President Obama so we can be sure and hear His side of the story.

When’s the “Edit Post” button going to finally make an appearance over there, anyway? Now that I read it again I see this would have been a perfect opportunity to use the word “exacerbate.” Fits the context slightly better, I think.

Well, I’m sure as the hours & days roll by I’ll think of more items to add to that list.

“This is a Historic Day”

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Wisdom from the fat filmmaker in the baseball cap. He’s getting his ego fed…needs it like he needs an extra plate of pork chops.

From here.

There are a few amusing parts where he seems to forget about this format. He seems to be making an effort to keep it short so the crowd can keep on echoing, but you get the idea that it starts to frustrate him a little bit…like his mouth is a fine-tuned high-power sports car, and he can’t shift into second.

Does he know he’s rich?

Update: I’ve not heard anyone comment on this directly, but isn’t Michael Moore just about the worst spokesman you could possibly have for Occupy Wall Street? To whatever extent this protest has managed to gin up some public sympathy, that sympathy is generally rooted in an instinctive recoil from overfed and over-privileged things being fed & privileged even more. And Michael Moore is just about the most spectacular living and visible example of a person who’s body and ego have been fed to excess…now, the body-feeding I don’t get to see, directly, but it’s obviously happening. The ego-feeding, on the other hand, I get to see pretty much every time I see him — his massive ego is getting stoked. I’ve come to see his overfed bulk as emblematic of his overfed ego, like he’s a fictional character written into a story just to carry that metaphor along, to keep it in the story, as a garnish to whatever moral will be presented at the end. Michael Moore == overfeeding the already overfed.

Given what little has dribbled out about the platform and message of the OWS movement, the gelatinous, un-crisp and undefined state that this message is in, and the difficulty myself & others are having in trying to figure out whether the movement wants the message left this way…he is a most unlikely symbol. What am I to make of this? “We demand a new country in which nobody is allowed to be over-indulged except Michael Moore”?

Simple Truths

Friday, October 7th, 2011

An e-mail from GBIL (Girlfriend’s Brother-In-Law). Made me LOL.

Simple Truth 1

Partners help each other undress before sex.
However after sex, they always dress on their own.

Moral of the story:
In life, no one helps you once you’re screwed.

Simple Truth 2

When a lady is pregnant, all her friends touch the stomach and saying “congrats”.
But, none of them come and touch the man’s penis and say “Good job”.

Moral of the story:
“Hard work is never appreciated.”

That’s a good one, dude. By the way, your hot wife called me “honey.”

Yet More Arguing About Elizabeth Warren, and I Say Good

Friday, October 7th, 2011

I’ve been enjoying the opening & unloading of whoopass on that ignorant slut Elizabeth Warren, and I’m glad to see it’s not over yet. George F. Will weighs in:

Warren is a pyromaniac in a field of straw men: She refutes propositions no one asserts. Everyone knows that all striving occurs in a social context, so all attainments are conditioned by their context. This does not, however, entail a collectivist political agenda.

Such an agenda’s premise is that individualism is a chimera, that any individual’s achievements should be considered entirely derivative from society, so the achievements need not be treated as belonging to the individual. Society is entitled to socialize — i.e., conscript — whatever portion it considers its share. It may, as an optional act of political grace, allow the individual the remainder of what is misleadingly called the individual’s possession.

The collectivist agenda is antithetical to America’s premise, which is: Government — including such public goods as roads, schools and police — is instituted to facilitate individual striving, a.k.a. the pursuit of happiness. The fact that collective choices facilitate this striving does not compel the conclusion that the collectivity (Warren’s “the rest of us”) is entitled to take as much as it pleases of the results of the striving.
Warren’s emphatic assertion of the unremarkable — that the individual depends on cooperative behaviors by others — misses this point: It is conservatism, not liberalism, that takes society seriously. Liberalism preaches confident social engineering by the regulatory state. Conservatism urges government humility in the face of society’s creative complexity.

Greg Sargent insists that Will has missed the point here.

What Warren actually said celebrated individual achievement, property and autonomy, while making the completely uncontroversial argument that those things are made possible by a functioning society enabled by a healthy social contract. Those things aren’t mutually exclusive in any way. The argument Warren is making is over how much each of us should sacrifice in order to keep that functioning society healthy. We’re running a deficit; someone has to pay to close it. Warren is simply asking the wealthy to sacrifice a bit more in that direction, because if they don’t, a disporprotionately [sic] heavy burden for fixing it will fall on the rest of us. This is a fair request, Warren says, because the society they’d be helping to keep afloat partly enabled their wealth in the first place — and will enable others to follow in their footsteps. Warren is making thise [sic] case to individuals who will decide whether to elect her to the Senate to advance this view. No tyrannical “collectivity” here.

Will doesn’t even attempt to engage her real argument — he doesn’t tell us why the wealthy shouldn’t be called upon to do a bit more to help close a deficit that conservatives insist is a threat to civilization as we know it.

Okay fine, let’s grant him that. Warren’s main point is still flapping around in the breeze because Will didn’t address it, so I will. This has been bugging me for awhile anyway:

The Elizabeth Warren syllogism I’ve picked up from what she said (for the uninitiated, it is here) — is:

1. Your business concern has been running a profit and the state has been running a deficit;
2. The activities of the state, funded by the rest of us, have been & are critical prerequisites to your business and the profits realized by it;
3. Therefore, since the state’s deficit represents a vital ingredient to your business that has essentially been unfunded, you need to pay more.

Pause here to note that Elizabeth Warren is a walking caricature of the ivy-league loudmouth with too much book smarts & not enough common sense. Of all the scathing criticism that has come her way on this thing, much of it has come from people possessing much greater experience than she can offer in “hard” businesses — businesses that just dangle a product or service out there, something that builds something useful that didn’t exist before, that people can actually use and would be willing to pay money to get. Warren’s background in positions that meet this criteria seems to be limited to writing wills, and oh boy, does it ever show.

A business, in order to realize a profit, relies on all kinds of things — and they’re all vital to the bottom line, or else it wouldn’t be relying on them. All the employees on the payroll, just for starters. The supplies in the supply room. The vendors who put them there. The wireless router and the carrier who supplies an Internet connection to it. The electricity, the physical space, the telephones, the company vehicles, the fuel inside them, the copier machine, the toner inside it, the dude who comes by to fix it, the guy that fixes the company car, the guy that fixes the router and the computers…

I’m not even getting warmed up here. Trust me, I could go at this all day long. There is, of course, a great big bushel of things that are made into these necessities, by design, by the state whose contributions Warren holds aloft. Artificially, the auditor’s efforts are made non-disposable and vital to the business’ “success” by a bunch of pain-in-the-ass rules — which, by the way, a lot of the time are put on the books just to put the business in its “place,” to get the message across to the business that a lot of voters & politicians are pissed off at it. The research eggheads who figure out how much dye & sodium goes into each can of product so the number can be put on a food label, the guys on the payroll whose job it is to work with the auditors and make sure the audit gets done, the second hard drive put in the mainframe to keep this data physically separate from that data, the technician who installed it, the shipper who shipped it.

All of these represent entities that provide products & services to the business so the business can succeed. And they are businesses of their own; each of them has the potential to make money, apply that money to their own expenses — and fall short. Guess what? That’s their problem. Each business has a mission, a way to make money, a big ol’ list of expenses that have to be met in completion of the mission…and some structure of executive responsibility for making sure it runs right. That includes the government.

But in the Warren/Sargent view of things, there is something unique and special about the government — and that is the executive responsibility part of it. For their syllogism to work, they must not see it. And it is the nature of government, at all levels, to remain blind to this as well: It’s never at fault for ending a fiscal period in the red, never, never, not ever. It’s always the fault of the taxpayer for not paying enough. The other providers in that big list I put together, a list I could have made much, much longer…they do not have this luxury. Their executives have actual responsibilities. If they fall short, it’s on them.

You see, these other service- and product-providers are paid according to contract and salary negotiation, not in equity in the business. You take a corporate accounting class, which Warren apparently didn’t do, and they make this distinction crystal-clear: holders of debt, and holders of equity. (Actually I think they defined this in Bookkeeping 101.) The business is indebted to them both but in entirely different ways, and this difference is what makes capitalism actually work. These providers of service or product get their twenty thousand dollars, or their five hundred, or their seventy-five cents — and that’s it. Occasionally, a business that relies on another business, might realize the necessity of offering more money because there’s a symbiotic relationship that’s about to go askew if the provider of some vital service is about to go under. That does happen within capitalism, believe it or not. But that business that receives the service — so long as it has met its obligations in the business community, it retains control. It’s gotta be that way. That’s part of a whole other “social contract” of which Elizabeth Warren, and those of like mind with her, have somehow managed to remain blissfully unaware.

Let me state it much more concisely: You do not get to tell a business “hey, I used a hand truck to haul that copier paper to your office two weeks ago and I can’t pay my cable bill — you need to pay more.” If it worked that way, a) it wouldn’t be capitalism and b) it wouldn’t work for long. So there’s your other social contract, Greg and Elizabeth: Everyone needs to take responsibility in order to participate. Anyone who doesn’t, is part of the problem and not part of the solution.

I’m sure Sargent would have something to say in response to that. I hope so. I hope this discussion drags on and on and on. It is helpful and educational…which indicates, to me, that if the conversation does manage to make its way to some statists who are more sympathetic to Warren’s side of things, they’re going to start saying things to dismiss it, like “Oh that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” or maybe fling around a few accusations of racism perhaps. That’s always a good fallback.

Memo For File CXLV

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

So she’s out. This must be an enormous relief for the “moderate” Republicans and others who insisted Obama would flatten and pummel her, more surely than any other challenger: They can go on believing that because this will never be tested now. And this can be a healthy thing. Palin supporters like me, instead of pushing a personality that a lot of people have made up their minds never to accept, can instead push the principles she would have represented.

PalinFor our own benefit we’d better define what these are, since we need to select a new favorite. Start with the incumbent, and define the inadequacies with that offering, proceeding to the deficiencies of others. Why can’t we stick with Barack Obama? Is the problem really that He’s a black guy?

In my case, it’s easy to define exactly what I want but it’s hard to articulate it because there isn’t a word to describe it. White skin is not the issue. The phrase “common sense” comes closest. As I said many times before, if I were ever a supporter of Obama, that ship would’ve sailed after I drove through a few highway sections torn apart for months & years at a time by construction projects funded by the Reinvestment Act, which I have nicknamed “Obamastruction.” The stupidity of it is just dazzling. Obama fans, predictably, point out how stupid I am in observing the stupidity. I get back a bunch of snotty lectures about how roads need to be maintained, and what kind of world do I want to live in anyway…one where the roads have completely fallen apart and you can’t even drive a car down them without destroying it, et cetera…

Uh, no. If I wanted to live in a world like that I’d live in Detroit, or some other place democrats have been running for a long time.

Obamastruction fails the test of common sense in so many ways. Let’s dissect it a little. We have high unemployment and we need to get people working…so…we’ll tax and borrow and inject hundreds of billions of dollars which will wholly or partly fund all these construction projects, and when we do that the construction people will have to be hired and they’ll spend money which will lead to more activity…et al…

First problem we have is what Ludwig von Mises pointed out about it:

It is obviously futile to attempt to eliminate unemployment by embarking upon a program of public works that would otherwise not have been undertaken. The necessary resources for such projects must be withdrawn by taxes or loans from the application they would otherwise have found. Unemployment in one industry can, in this way, be mitigated only to the extent that it is increased in another.

Now Obamastruction does have a partial defense against this: In many cases the funds are used cleverly, toward the benefit of the goal as stated. Given President Obama’s track record, this might have been an oversight of some kind, but anyway. the Obamastruction that is the biggest thorn in my side, is a good example, some $1 or $2 million in Reinvestment Act funds to push it “over a hump” and reach a goal of $22 million so the shovel-readiness can be complete.

But there we run into another problem that I don’t see anyone discussing anywhere: The work begins. It begins on this road, and on that road, and that other road over there…throughout the continental United States we have all this Obamastruction going on. And pay attention here you snotty preening condescending Obama fans who want to educate me about how roads need to be maintained: This is all happening at the same time. Earlier, this summer, I drove up the east half of Oregon and Washington State by way of Highway 97. It wouldn’t have been such a dumb move, except for Obamastruction. I was stuck in construction, on and off, for the better half of an entire day. No biggie, right? I was just transporting myself. Well, there’s the rub: There are actually people who live in those places, who need to have supplies shipped to them, which means trucked. If it takes a wheeled vehicle 60% longer to cut through all that, and 60% longer to cut through the mess much closer to my doorstep, and 60% longer to cut through anything & everything in between those points, and all over the place elsewhere…ya know, it starts to not look a whole lot like a program for “economic recovery.”

I worry about the great minds who can’t see that one coming. Do they have drivers’ licenses? Anyone who’s driven for any length of time, knows the last step to dealing with construction is: Heave a sigh of relief, because when you see the “End Construction” sign, you know you’re probably done with it for a few miles. For the last two years or so, thanks to Obama’s brilliance, that has not applied. You drive any stretch of new road anywhere, you expect to see the damn orange cones. And the flagmen. And that silly sign telling you it’s your tax dollars at work. I’m not saying “long stretch,” I’m saying “any stretch.” That doesn’t help with an economic recovery.

Then there’s the matter of what a construction worker buys with the money he or she gets from being employed. Stuff that creates jobs? Really? Raise your hand if you got a job in a small business started by a construction worker who was temporarily employed due to a government program. And then we run into another problem because of that adverb: “temporarily.” At some point, the highway section to be widened, has been widened.

So with Palin out, what we need to be looking for is someone who wouldn’t propose a boondoggle like that.

We should take the emotionalism out of it with an analogy. Say the problem isn’t unemployment or dependence on foreign oil or terrorist buttholes or illegal immigration. Let’s say the problem is we have a golf course and a gopher is tearing it up. Is Obama, then, Bill Murray? No…Obama makes the dynamite look like a good idea. Obama is the guy who comes along and says “Step one, give Me and My friends all the money you can afford, Step three, gopher problem solved.” What’s step two? Dunno. So Obama is more like an underpants gnome sort of character. And this is why He has to become a one-termer. It isn’t that His solutions are overly expensive or that they don’t work…although they are, and they don’t. It’s that getting rid of the goddamn gopher never was the agenda in the first place.

No, Obama is there just to give speeches that make it seem like a swell idea to suck all the money and power away, to confuse lightweight thinkers into thinking this will somehow address whatever problem happens to be under discussion at the moment. But you’ll notice no matter what that problem is, the contorted jumbled-up mess of ObamaLogic keeps leading back to the common central point, of “put lots of money under control of Obama and His friends.”

Other successful politicians seem to approach every problem by defining certain favorite segments of the population as sympathetic, and others as not-sympathetic. So a good solution for the gopher problem would be: Tax the rich, put the money in a new program which will employ some minimal number of fill-in-the-blank…women, ethnic minorities, gay, handicapped…and at some point the gopher drops dead of old age or something.

Sarah Palin would have just shot the fucking gopher. And that would be the fallback plan, I think, after trying to poison it. Point is, the gopher would be dead, and the golf course would be fine.

That’s what we need, I think.

Bicycling VacationJust before she dropped out, I went on vacation, on bicycle, by myself, through the farmlands around Davis and Dixon, out to the ocean, up the Russian River, and then around & through the county roads around Winters. It took me six days during which I pedaled just shy of 300 miles. By far the deadliest thing I encountered was Obamastruction. But the most inspiring thing I saw? It was the farms. Not the crops, mind you; they make for great pictures, but no I’m talking about the dwelling places where people live and do their operations and planning. Some were prosperous, others not so much. But it made an impression on me that you could see the wisdom going into how a machine should be used, where it should be stored, when it was time to throw it away. How should the house be built. Where should the doors go. Everything was absolutely functional, and in that way, beautiful.

It is a whole different way of living, a whole different way of looking at the world. Anticipation of benefits and consequences. Beginning with the end in mind…if you have not planned for success, you are planning for failure. The whiteboard business-executives like to use phrases like that, but these people who grow our food actually live it. They know how to make it all work. Or else, they’re gone.

They say knowledge is knowing tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad. This is the kind of wisdom of which I speak. Palin, supposedly this stuttering dolt who botched her interview with Katie Couric, was the one — can’t even call her a “candidate,” can I? — whatever-ya-call-it who was running her operations with some wisdom. We could define and detect this wisdom with a criteria of “good fortune that is not accidental.” The Palin haters cannot bring themselves to admit it, but she’s always had this going on; the other contenders, not quite so much. She’s no dummy — or, if she really is one, there must have been someone else calling the shots who knew what to do. It’s always easier to see who has wisdom than it is to figure out what the wisest answer is. It’s even easier to figure out who doesn’t have it, or at least, who’s failing to use it if they’ve got it.

Right now, I think we’re missing the wisdom. Obama’s cabinet is just chock full of knowledge; and His campaign had some wisdom going on. Now that He’s our President, the beneficiary of any wisdom would be the country, rather than the Obama campaign, so suddenly wisdom seems to have taken a holiday. Been on vacation for going on three years, now. (Wonder where in the heck wisdom is riding its bicycle? Is its ass getting as sore as mine was?) So now that I & some others need to go shopping for another candidate, that’s the principle requirement. Wisdom, and the commitment to use it for the benefit of the country. That’s what is missing, and we’ve suffered for it long enough.

Tilted Kilt vs. Hooters

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

This is going to take some disciplined decision-making, based on a responsible review of the evidence. Might take a fair amount of time, too. Hmmm…

Best Sentence CXV

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Professor Mondo addresses this comparison brewing up lately between the “occupiers” of Wall Street and the Tea Party movement. His words are succinct but powerful:

It’s pretty simple, really. My students want to be able to pull their wagons. The occupants want to ride. [emphasis mine]

But he has to split this prize with — as usual — Ann Coulter:

I am not the first to note the vast differences between the Wall Street protesters and the tea partiers. To name three: The tea partiers have jobs, showers and a point.

She’s Not Running

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Levin, by way of Surber.

It is what it is.

Stimulus Wasn’t Manly Enough

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Props to Althouse for bringing this up, but she’s missing the point in what it all means:

Stimulus programs are always going to be bullshit. They’re always going to net results just like this. It shoulda had a bigger effect, shoulda had a better one, shoulda been longer-lasting, shoulda, shoulda…woulda-coulda-shoulda. This one wasn’t manly enough because it went to schoolteachers first and construction workers second; if it went the other way ’round, it would’ve discriminated against women. If it had somehow managed to balance those out perfectly and duck all criticism there, it wouldn’t have been gay enough. And then it would have discriminated against the handicapped.

Stimulus spending is not about success, it’s about finding excuses for the failure before you even get started. Meanwhile, you know what? A lot of us don’t work in public schools or in construction.

If the money was just left in the free market…the kinda sorta free market…then anybody who wants to complain about where the money’s getting spent, would have to take it up with each of the millions upon millions of people doing the spending. And that is the point to a government stimulus program: To gather the money into one channel, so people can look at how it was spent and then bitch about it. It makes the bitching and blaming and finger-pointing easier. All this talk about how to make the next one work better, is just a crock. This one was as big as we can afford, and it went as well as it’s ever gonna. It was still a complete flop — and that’s what the process looks like. Anyone who needs to run a few more cycles on a merry-go-round so they’ve got time to get that figured out, I think they should go off somewhere and do it in an isolated test environment, with a lot less money. If they find out I’m wrong, let us know…otherwise…don’t-call-us-we’ll-call-you.

Prometheus in Room 203

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Prometheus was a Titan who stole fire from the gods and gave it to man. As punishment, the god Zeus chained him to a rock and sent a vulture to attack him and eat his gizzard, or appendix, or liver. Every day. By night, the organ would grow back in again, and in the morning the bird would fly on in at its leisure and snack anew. Prometheus was damned to this daily torment for centuries, until Heracles or Pericles came along, slew the bird and shattered the chains.

Room 203 is the jury selection room in downtown Sacramento. Yours Truly was tapped to sit and wait to be selected…during which time they plied us with the following entertainment.

Tooth Fairy
The Game Plan

…all of which I’ve seen before, all of which have something to do with the patriarch of some family unit figuring out his many assorted problems in life are due entirely to his being a shallow self-absorbed jerk. Which, if it were a movie genre not already pounded and re-pounded into oblivion, like a delicate silk handkerchief placed under a thundering jackhammer for a day and a half, would already not be my favorite…but, such as it is…

Well, I’ve blogged this before. Many times. See, I’m a dude…therefore, I’m sympathetic to dudes…but even if I wasn’t, and wasn’t — if I was some bimbo with all kinds of unresolved daddy- and ex-husband-issues, there is still the matter of money changing hands. Still the matter of creativity being bought & paid for. And I want to see some.

This is the part where the nattering nabobs say “well if you hate those movies so much, why don’t ya walk out, HUH??” And that would be a great point under ordinary circumstances. Not here, though. See, I was required to be there…if the judge calls my name, and I don’t show, he can sign a warrant for my arrest. Yeah, in theory. But still.

I could’ve approached the matronly females behind the bullet proof plexi-glass and asked, can you put on a movie that doesn’t make husbands and fathers look like complete jackasses? But what’s the point. It maybe would’ve made for a good story to tell…but probably not…in the end, I figured hell I’ve got work stacking up back at the office, which by now is where I wish I was — someone might as well get something done today. So I let them work. I’ll probably regret that, but I know it was the right thing to do.

There was a moment when the third movie just got started, where I began to think…you know, if I died this morning and didn’t know it, and my earthly existence was found to be displeasing to the deity at hand and I’d been sentenced to eternal torment, this would be it. Wouldn’t it? Stuffy government building just exuding the distinct aroma of thoughtless bureaucracy, a captive audience before an unending string of uncreative, hateful, acrid, toxic, smack-myself-in-forehead-I’m-such-a-thoughtless-jerk doofus dad movies. That’s what my sentence would be — and what’s going on right now? For just a second or two, it kinda creeped me out.

But at twenty minutes to four, we were dismissed. So, inspired by an offline e-mail from blogger friend Phil, I stopped off WalMart on my way home, picked up The Undefeated, then I barricaded myself in my domicile and cracked open a cold one.

And how was your day?

“The Coming Post-Obama Renaissance”

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Victor Davis Hanson has put pen to paper, and fleshed out the hopes I’ve been nurturing. But he leads with the dark stuff first:

Stagnant GDP, 9.1 unemployment, another $5 trillion in debt, $1.6 trillion annual deficits, and sky-high fuel and food prices have combined to crush any notion of upward mobility. (If in 2004 5.7% unemployment was supposed to mark a “jobless recovery,” what exactly is 9.1% called? If Bush’s average $500 billion deficits over eight years were abhorrent, what must we say of Obama’s average $1.6 trillion over three? Really bad?)

In response, the Obama administration — let me be candid here — seems clueless, overpopulated as it is by policy nerds, academic overachievers, and tenured functionaries (cf. Larry Summers’ “there is no adult in charge”). They tend to flash Ivy League certificates, but otherwise have little record of achievement in the private sector. Officials seem to think that long ago test scores, a now Neolithic nod from an Ivy League professor, or a past prize translates into knowing what makes America run in places like Idaho and southern Michigan.

Yes, I know that Steven Chu is “brilliant” and a Nobel laureate. But that means no more than suggesting that laureate Paul Krugman was right about adding even more trillions to the debt. My neighbors know enough not to quip, as the know-it-all Chu did, that California farms (the most productive in the U.S.) will dry up and blow away, or gas prices should reach European levels, or Americans can’t be trusted to buy the right light bulbs, or a failed Solyndra just needed millions more of taxpayers’ money.

Solyndra and Van Jones are the metaphors of these times, reminding us of the corruption of the very notion of “green.” In the age of Al Gore, it has eroded from a once noble ideal of conservation to a tawdry profit- and job-scam for assorted hucksters and snake-oil salesmen. Without the lofty hype and shake-down, most otherwise would have had to find productive jobs. Tragically, “green” is the new refuge of scoundrels.
Why, then, do I see blue sky and a break in the present storms? For a variety of very good reasons.
The country always knew, but for just a bit forgot, that you cannot print money and borrow endlessly. It always knew that bureaucrats were less efficient than employers. It knew that Guantanamo was not a gulag and Iraq was not “lost.” But given the anguish over Iraq, the anger at Bush, the Obama postracial novelty and “centrist” façade, and the Freddie/Fannie/Wall Street collapse, it wanted to believe what it knew might not be true. Now three years of Obama have slapped voters out of their collective trance.

The spell has now passed; and we are stronger for its passing. There is going to be soon a sense of relief that we have not experienced in decades. In short, sadder but wiser Americans will soon be turned loose with a vigor unseen in decades.
The country always knew, but for just a bit forgot, that you cannot print money and borrow endlessly. It always knew that bureaucrats were less efficient than employers. It knew that Guantanamo was not a gulag and Iraq was not “lost.” But given the anguish over Iraq, the anger at Bush, the Obama postracial novelty and “centrist” façade, and the Freddie/Fannie/Wall Street collapse, it wanted to believe what it knew might not be true. Now three years of Obama have slapped voters out of their collective trance.

The spell has now passed; and we are stronger for its passing. There is going to be soon a sense of relief that we have not experienced in decades. In short, sadder but wiser Americans will soon be turned loose with a vigor unseen in decades.

In the America that rises like a Phoenix from the ashes, you can’t be elected President just by muttering vague platitudes about “hope” and “change” and being on Oprah Winfrey’s short-list of honored guests. Companies can’t rip off consumers, charging exorbitant prices and fees for providing negligible quantity & quality by way of product & service, and get away with it all by throwing out some bumper-sticker slogan with the word “green” in it.

Who knows? Maybe in the coming bigger-and-better America, we’ll see some movies come out that boast truly original plots, not based on any old comic book or cartoon show from the seventies, and don’t have Shia LaBeouf or Natalie Portman in any major role. Wouldn’t that be great?

Hank Williams, Jr. Fails the “Could Be Construed As” Standard

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

And for that, gets suspended from a 20-year gig asking Americans if they’re ready for some Monday night football.

As Dave Blount writes,

Hank Jr. wasn’t really even comparing President Zero to Hitler; he was only making a point regarding how absurd it is for Republicans to play footsy with radicals bent on destroying America as we know it. But the media establishment’s tolerance for transgression is extremely limited when it isn’t coming from the left.

So there are two issues here. One, it’s pretty obvious that “Obama==Hitler” was not what Williams was trying to get across, so the decision to suspend him was made by someone who didn’t even get the point; or, that is, someone acting on behalf of someone else, real or imagined, who didn’t get the point.

Two, unless ESPN has been sniffing around for reasons to suspend Williams, and just now managed to find one, this wasn’t a well-advised move. Simply ignoring the dumb metaphor would have carried a very high potential for success. So: Williams has been fired for a long time and just didn’t know it; someone bolluxed the cost/benefit part of should-we-or-shouldn’t-we-suspend; or, ESPN figures its bread is buttered by libs. Pick one of the three.

Sadly, Williams’ inept expression of his sentiment has caused said sentiment to be lost in the shuffle: People right now aren’t terribly inspired when they see opposites playing patty-cake with each other. It isn’t encouraging. It has the opposite effect.

James Wilson, who comments often at Daphne‘s & Gerard‘s places, often is seen to write that the result of mixing fine wine together with sewage, is sewage. I think that’s on par with what the country music artist was trying to say…but I don’t know if that would have created any less of a tempest. Like watching your favorite mousing-cat play hopscotch or pinochle with the mice? Oh well. We know a little more about him, and we know a little more about ESPN.

Glock 17 Explosive Ammo

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

This Is Good LXXXVII

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

By way of Don Surber.

“Don’t Say It, Bro”

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Wonder what he was going to say?

Found by blogger friend Phil.

Maybe he was talking to the field reporter…advising him against ending his sentences with prepositions?