Archive for January, 2012

Newsbusted 1-17-12

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Newt’s Answer

Friday, January 20th, 2012

That’s two in a row. Here’s the one from earlier this week:

Rick Perry, dropping out, endorses Gingrich.

“I believe Newt is a conservative visionary who can transform our country. We’ve had our differences, which campaigns will inevitably have, and Newt is not perfect, but who among us is?” Perry said at a press conference in Charleston, South Carolina.

Mittens is about to snag this thing. It’s a very critical time. And once again, Sarah Palin is right:

We need this thing to drag on longer. That may not change how things shake out in terms of who the nominee will be, but it has a big effect on what kind of pressures are brought to bear, and what sort of message that nominee carries into the general election.

And say what you want about Newt, but it’s a good message. There is a consistent theme here of talking back to certain people and forces that haven’t been resisted in any meaningful way up until now, and have long had it coming.

Look who’s been making it into the highest offices. Do we really need a tell-all interview from a previous wife to become part of the process? Last I checked, people on both sides of the partisan divide were still ticked off and annoyed that Bill Clinton’s affair became a matter for an impeachment trial…well…looks to me like people are ticked off and annoyed by that, in the same way that people refuse to read the National Enquirer. As in, if it were true, things wouldn’t be happening that are, in fact, happening.

Thus ends the kingmaker career of Marianne Gingrich. Bet she’s pleased. Well done, Newt.

Ayn Rand is a Time Traveler

Friday, January 20th, 2012

Over on the Hello Kitty of Blogging, I put up this story about the proposed “Reasonable Profits Board

Six House Democrats, led by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), want to set up a “Reasonable Profits Board” to control gas profits.

The Democrats, worried about higher gas prices, want to set up a board that would apply a “windfall profit tax” as high as 100 percent on the sale of oil and gas, according to their legislation. The bill provides no specific guidance for how the board would determine what constitutes a reasonable profit.

The Gas Price Spike Act, H.R. 3784, would apply a windfall tax on the sale of oil and gas that ranges from 50 percent to 100 percent on all surplus earnings exceeding “a reasonable profit.” It would set up a Reasonable Profits Board made up of three presidential nominees that will serve three-year terms. Unlike other bills setting up advisory boards, the Reasonable Profits Board would not be made up of any nominees from Congress.

…to which, one of my friends over there had this to say: “Jesus Christ. Ayn Rand is a time traveler.”

IneptocracyI want the bumper sticker. It would have to be separated from the reference to my Lord, since aside from being cutely blasphemous, it seems to be making an ironic statement about religion itself by juxtaposing faith itself with a prominent member of the faithless.

But yes, at this point just crediting Alyssa Rosenbaum with the mere gift of prophesy leaves some things unexplained. Time travel seems more like it. The weird name of this board, seems like something straight out of the book, around page 550 or so. It’s Directive 10-289, the Moratorium on Brains! Run for your lives!

No, not quite there yet, though I’m apprehensive about seeing what comes next. We’re still at the early stages, where the unproductive tell the productive how to do their producing, and then when the predictable results are unveiled before us, we lie to ourselves about what it all means.

Terri asks:

How about a “reasonable taxes board? The federal government taxes gas at 18.4 cents a gallon. Is it unreasonable? Theoretically no because it’s going to pay for interstate highways but seriously, if you want to lower the price of gasoline isn’t the one place you actually control the better place to look than setting up an unconstitutional board to force one type of business into a profit model that is designed by people who have no interest in the business other than because they “care” about the poor?

Update: Boortz defines “windfall profit”:

Now as I’ve mentioned, the Democrats have come up with this idea before .. though the idea of this presidential panel is new. But a windfall profit … what is that? I’ve come up with a definition I’d like to share with you, since I’m sure that government schools don’t teach things like this. A windfall profit is money earned by a company that can be readily demagogued by a politician. It is money earned by a company on a commodity that consumers absolutely need but don’t like paying for.

Bulls-eye. They’re supposed to care so much about the middle class and the poor people, but if you hate a certain layer of our economic strata, by which I mean absolutely loathe it and want to see it go away, what better way to make it happen: You identify a product or a service upon which that class relies, the deprivation of which would do the people within the class the greatest damage, and then you make the production of that product or service as miserable, as onerous, and as unprofitable an experience as you possibly can.

Thus has been the case with democrat politicians and: Oil, gasoline, higher education for the next generation, rents, mortgages, health care services, legal assistance and food. In the municipalities which have most consistently elected democrats throughout the decades, those commodities have all been priced into outer space.

As far as domestic issues are concerned, a democrat is a Republican who cares about “the plight of the middle class” and lacks a functional long-term memory.

The “It’s My Turn” Candidate

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

This year’s example of one, after today, will be such an example no more.

This is why there is this perception that the Republican party is one of white straight males. Because when you filter the search down to “it’s my turn” candidates, you see the democrat party does indeed start to look much more diverse, and the Republican party is full of white males. And among “it’s my turn” candidates, the white male always loses, yet the GOP continues to do this.

A lot of voters are out there ready to vote for “it’s my turn” candidates; that is a plain and simple fact. But white male democrat Ted Kennedy famously flamed out. If you’re going to support someone whose “turn” it is, like you’re little kids playing Yahtzee or Monopoly, why would you support a white male? You wouldn’t. They don’t. Maybe they would if they were given a reason, but by the very definition of the term, the it’s-my-turn candidate is not capable of giving them one.

The results, when the question is actually asked, can be cringe-inducing:

Blah, blah, blah.

If you have a gender or racial or gender-preference claim, there’s no need to get into any of this. It is realistic to predict the question won’t ever be asked. Hillary Clinton, should she decide to run again, will make a spectacular it’s-my-turn candidate. For reasons I don’t entirely understand, to be sure…but you’d better believe there are a lot of people out there who think it’s her turn, and not just because she’s a woman.

As near as I can figure out, the logic works something like this: Her husband cheated on her. She should be President. But don’t ask me to explain it any better than that…

Now that Perry is out, there is still another it’s-my-turn candidate in the running, and I’m afraid this one has a real lock on becoming the Republican nominee: Mittens. It’s his turn. Now, he’s already had to point out what makes him a better candidate, especially compared to the incumbent, and he’s done a satisfactory job of it. I don’t have much confidence in his ability to settle on wise decisions, any more than I’d put on a Magic-8 ball. His visage fairly screams at you “suit-wearing bureaucrat” and his convictions are not reliable.

But if he clinches this, I will support him, because Obama has to go home.

And then he will lose. Because a contest between OBumbles and Mittens is a contest between the devil you know and the devil you don’t.

WAT

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Got it from one of the guys at work. WAT.

Update 1-19-12: This slide in the lecture being used to illustrate awesomeness, is so awesome in the way it uses awesomeness to metaphorically connect with awesomeness, that I had to capture an awesome .gif of it in such a way that I could give appropriately awesome credit.

WAT.

Lucky Catch!

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Plan this stuff ahead…

Hat tip to Miss Cellania, via Gerard.

“Can’t You See How Insulting This Is?”

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

No. Say what you want about the three marriages and the rest of the baggage, but that is the correct answer.


This blog, which nobody reads anyway, has frequently made the point about GoodPerson Fever; we’ve got all these ninnies just like Juan Williams, running around everywhere, and even worse still they are disproportionately represented in the hallways of power. Every decision made has to be absolutely non-offensive, and that includes the decisions of others, about matters well outside of their purview, and so they end up excoriating strangers for violating the Could Be Construed As standard. In other words, they get offended on behalf of other people, people who exist only in theory and might very well not exist at all in reality.

After the process of elimination is complete, they’ve done much worse than eliminate the most beneficial option that could have been chosen — they’ve settled on a single avenue of approach which, on average, stands a much lesser likelihood of servicing the stated objective than an avenue of approach that would’ve been selected by random chance. So you’d be better off asking a Magic 8 ball. Oops, was that racist of me? If you’re pointing it out, you’re an example of exactly what I’m describing.

I know, I know. The fact that the audience is obviously overwhelmingly in favor of the point the former House Speaker is making, means nothing; the minority opinion is very often the right one, and all that. Trouble with that is — as Williams tries to mount another attack and save some face in his follow-up question, he relies on a brand of logic that forgets this. “I’m still right because my Twitter account is overflowing” or something. So, as usual, the politically-correct crowd has to assert their “right-ness” by choosing when majority opinion matters and when it doesn’t. At break-neck speed.

This thing Newt is bringing up, is something that has to be given better respect if we’re going to keep what strength we have as a nation, let alone make an attempt to recover what’s been lost in recent years. We congratulated Newt when he made those original comments; he was right then, he was right now, and it speaks volumes that it’s so rare for anyone to make the obvious point that a work ethic is something learned in early childhood. Nor can I recall anyone saying so, without some ninny jumping in to try to make a racial issue out of it. Well, it isn’t a racial issue when we have kids of all color, sitting around, their brains rotting, making it all the way to adulthood without being challenged on anything. In a way, they’re starving. They can’t enjoy the kind of self-respect one enjoys from working an honest day and receiving an honest paycheck.

I don’t think Newt’s gonna win this thing. But that particular exchange, I hope, lives on in history well beyond this rather underwhelming election cycle.

Seven Signs You’re Dating a Psycho Girlfriend

Monday, January 16th, 2012

From here. Hat tip to Linkiest.

“Hates Brooklyn Decker” seems to have something to do with a swimsuit model who was born in 1987, so I’m thinking this is for the younger guys. Which makes sense. We hear much about how our society oppresses women, in fact we’ve been hearing about it for a very long time. But nobody discusses too much what the younger dudes could & should be doing to avoid psycho women.

“There Are Very Few People Around Who Want to Give the Government More Power”

Monday, January 16th, 2012

This guy is making the point I’ve been trying to make: That it’s a mistake to observe so-many people voting as democrats, even registering as democrats, and presuming they all uphold democrat values with every fiber of their being. True, the democrats ask for the abuse themselves; they’re constantly holding themselves aloft as standard bearers of some vague and undetermined brand of morality, and when we see the morality in action, we see it is not morality at all. It’s like they don’t understand how that looks.

But if you apply tests in terms of what liberals are actually expected to believe, you see there really aren’t very many “liberals” around at all.

Here’s a test I invite you to take. Watch C-Span’s morning call-in show and listen to what people who phone in on the “Democrat” or “liberal” line have to say. When is the last time you heard a caller say, “We should all pay higher taxes so that the government can provide us with universal day care”? Or how about, “We should all pay higher taxes so the government can provide us with universal long term care”? I bet you can’t remember ever hearing that.

Here is what I suspect you will hear: Teachers complaining that teachers aren’t paid enough. Union members complaining about competition from workers overseas. Senior citizens whining about the meagerness of Social Security or Medicare benefits. Minority callers advocating more affirmative action. And what is the common denominator of these comments? Self-interest.

Yes, I know. Special interests are in both parties. Why wouldn’t they be? Yet as I wrote in my analysis of “progressivism,” the left in America has elevated special interest privilege to an art form.

Here’s the point: people wanting more, more, more are nothing more than people pursuing their own self interest in politics. They are not in principle different from any other special interest group. Importantly, they have nothing in common with what we normally have in mind by the term “liberalism.”

There is a reason for that. There are very few people around who want to give government more power over their money, their property or their lives.
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Here is a second test. Keep watching C-Span. After the outside callers are gone, most days you get to watch Congress in action. Have you ever watched a series of speeches on the House floor? Have you ever watched a real Congressional debate? Try it some time. Then ask yourself this question: Do you trust the people you are watching on TV to manage your retirement pension? Or do you have more confidence in your employer or Fidelity or even Merrill Lynch? Do you trust the people on the House floor to manage your health care? Or do you have more confidence in your employer or even UnitedHealthcare or Aetna?

Congress in action most days reminds us of school children insulting and taunting each other. It’s like a group of adolescents desperately in need of adult supervision. It’s the opposite of the civil, rational deliberation that the Founding Fathers must have hoped for.

It takes a very special kind of person to watch lunacy in action and then decide to give the lunatics more control over your life. There are such special people, of course. They are disproportionately congregated in Hollywood, on the campuses of the nation’s colleges and universities and in the elite news media. What are the common characteristics all too many of them share? Arrested development (they never bothered to grow up), aversion to the rest of humanity (they really are elitists), a lack of common sense (they’ve never really managed anything) and a failure to master the syllogism (they approach the world emotionally, not logically).

Here is something you need to understand: liberalism is not an ideology. It’s a sociology. It’s not a way of thinking. It’s a way of responding to the world emotionally.

It all comes down to this: We have these “moderates” running around voting for democrats. They don’t believe in the liberal/democrat outlook on life. Many of them might respond to the world emotionally, because it takes less effort, but they don’t really believe the solution to our problems is to send more money to Washington.

I’ve become fond of an analogy to describe these people: Two kids get in a fight on the schoolyard, and the kid who threw the first punch ended up losing the fight. So you have the kid who started it and the one that finished it. Who gets punished? Part of the liberal ethos is to punish the stronger kid who won the fight. They’re never too excited about correcting the behavior of the person who actually created the problem, they’d much rather punish strength than errant behavior. No sane people agree with this. The moderates side with the conservatives in saying the troublemaker should be sent to detention, or something, and the person who exercised self-defense should walk scott-free, because that just makes sense. If he didn’t start anything, and ends up in trouble, that’s not justice. In fact that could invite a whole different and new kind of bullying.

But such common sense is not to be tolerated in uber-tolerant liberal-loonie land. Real life sides against the troublemaker, and the system will side against him, too? That’s just not how it’s supposed to work! Fight for the underdog! What a great opportunity to show some compassion.

It’s all got to do with incentives. Normal people believe in ‘em, and liberals don’t. Well, in order to side with the liberals on that, you somehow need to exclude from the thought process the plain and simple fact that you respond to incentives; either because you haven’t been exposed to enough situations that you’re forced to reckon with this truth, or because you want to argue dishonestly. And both of those last two options describe the true-blue liberal to a tee.

You’ll notice liberal politicians tend to lack “real” experience on their resumes. They’re lawyers, or bureaucrats, or lawyer/bureaucrats. They come from some background in which their job is to ignore incentives, and the statements that would define all the efforts in which they’ve been engaged would all begin with “The rules say.” That’s the world in which they live; there’s some rulebook, and then there is the universe of real life, and then when the two diverge and start moving in different directions, that universe is just gonna have to shape up and get with it.

Whereas, the rest of us say, if it’s a good rule it should reflect real life, and the human characteristic of predictable responses to incentives.

The problem is not that the moderates are in favor of liberal policies. The problem is that the moderates aren’t remembering much. They don’t have bad value systems, they’re just failing to vote for things that would reflect those value systems.

Tarantino vs. Coen Brothers

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Not sure how I missed this. Better late than never.

Debt Limit

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

I’ve seen these numbers goin’ round on the nets…the same ones, over and over again. I never thought that made the cut, but you know, in video form like this it just completely works.

And I really like the ending.

…because that’s where it gets real. Tragically real.

Our kids are gonna be so pissed.

I Want Those Marines Punished

Friday, January 13th, 2012

And this clip from A Bridge Too Far does an exemplary job of explaining the why, as well as the how. If your time is pressed, fast forward to 3:20:

That is exactly what I want done to them. Come on, we have to face facts; we simply can’t let this kind of conduct go. It’s like the Medical Officer said, once you let discipline go you can forget about getting it back again. So the punishment is going to have to be laid down — hard. Just like it was here.

Hey, when I’m right, I’m right.

Action Figure Therapy

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Potty-mouth language warning in effect, not safe for the workplace or for any mixed audience.

Panetta is a shit-brained ass-infested dickhole.

One of the objectives that it would be nice to see a SECDEF try to achieve, is to retain some semblance of respect from the troops. That is not a vital and minimalist goal, of course…you could say it is one for the Generals but not for the suits that hold civilian command over the armed forces…but it would be good if the working relationship was a good one, or if there was at least some effort expended to make it a good one.

I saw a post up on a milblog somewhere that said something like, you just KNOW the guys at the top are pissed off when they break out the big-words book! (I think the big word under discussion was “reprehensible” or something.) See, that right there is the trouble. The big boss looks not at all like a big boss, he looks like a little puppet dancing to a tune, tossing around big fancy words that he knows, and everybody else knows — and he knows they know — that real people don’t actually use. Well okay, unless maybe if they’re bloggers. The whole exercise looks phony because it is. Imagine what that feels like to you when you’re out on your third deployment, doing the dirty work when it’s 130 degrees in the shade.

I understand this argument about recruited-terrorists, how when these pictures appear it makes it look like the United States is declaring a war on Islam, which is not a perception we can afford to have out there. But there is something about this that I’m having a tough time figuring out: One, this would obviously be a vexing puzzle for us, and a dangerous one, far more important than many of the others. How do we expect to win at it, then, without discussing it more openly? Since 2004 the only rule that’s been in place about it is “just don’t do it” — with a strong undertone of don’t talk about it. Well, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

And two: Has it ever occurred to these geniuses that some may be reacting to situations like this with a quite reasonable attitude of “I’m not going to take you seriously if you don’t take yourself seriously”? There’s quite a lot to be said for a response, from the top, of: Look, if you don’t want your dead body defiled, don’t shoot at our guys.

“Civil Disservice”

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Some people don’t get the irony.

The One Person They Fear

Friday, January 13th, 2012

DJEver Notice? LXX

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Wisdom from my Hello Kitty of Blogging account (I don’t think you can follow those links if you’re not signed up)…

On the Internet, as well as in person occasionally, I have noticed a lot of people imposing the following tests on other people, with great flourish and fanfare:

1. Do you agree with me?
2. Do you know what you’re talking about?
3. Have you managed to remain non-offensive?

They do this over and over again, many times in the space of a minute or two, which permits me to observe the following: Not once do I see the test subject pass one or two of the tests, and fail the remainder — the results are never mixed. All three are passed, or all three are failed. They are shrink-wrapped together and advance or retreat as a set.

I suppose people on both sides of the political spectrum do this, and until you see the pattern maintained for awhile there’s really nothing wrong with it. It only becomes suspicious when it remains consistent throughout a great many examples.

It becomes a callable foul when an ideological zealot hammers his opponents about perceived insults while simultaneously maintaining silence as his cohorts engage in actual ones. But even then, once called on it, the zealot will deny his own double-standard, and his blind spot may be so enlarged and debilitating that he is speaking honestly as he does this.

To really freak yourself out about this, apply the “Peggy Joseph test” as I’ve done a few times. When an Obama fan persists in this pattern, in which everyone who disagrees with him suffers an incurable knowledge deficit, and none of his like-minded comrades do, solicit an opinion about the competence of this colleague in the cause…

And this is where things get to be strange. The best you’ll get back is something like, yes there are some people with unrealistic expectations AndThatIsTrueOfBothSides et cetera. That’s the very best. You won’t get an acknowledgement of the obvious, that there are some absolutely incompetent people backing Obama. The problem is with an inability to say “This person has reached the same conclusion I have even though she’s a moron.” Or, conversely, “This other person has reached a conclusion different from mine, even though he might know a lot about what he’s talking about.”

The meaningful observation to make is one of fear. If you think things out fearlessly, one of the first things to become evident to you is that, although confessions like the two above do not help to get a conclusion sold, certainly, they don’t make that particular conclusion unsalable either. The correlation between knowing what you’re doing, and reaching the right answer all the time, is a rather weak one. Stupid people make the right choice every now & then. Pretty often, really. And you don’t have to wait long for the intellectual giant to make a colossal blunder.

The same goes with being offensive. Offensive people can be, and are much of the time, right. These relationships are non-correlative. Therefore, even if one does seek to argue dishonestly and impose double-standards on the participants to make a particular conclusion more cosmetically appealing, there is no need to shellac these unrelated characteristics together.

It is only an intellectual coward — and therefore, ultimately, an intellectual incompetent — who can’t acknowledge these basic, basic things.

Buffett Misses the Point — On Purpose

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

We start at the beginning. In August of last year, billionaire Warren Buffett penned an op-ed in the New York Times complaining that his taxes weren’t high enough.

OUR leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.
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Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

President Obama, looking for some justification for a second term, appeared alongside his wealthy friend and pressed the attack against this threat to the American dream, which is…uh…the American dream?

“Warren Buffett’s secretary shouldn’t pay a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett. There’s no justification for it,” President Obama insisted while pitching his $4 trillion deficit reduction plan in the Rose Garden on Monday.

And a star was born, albeit, apparently, a reluctant one.

For nearly two decades, Debbie Bosanek has fielded press calls, investor queries, and sundry other requests for her boss, billionaire investor Warren Buffett. Now, she herself is in the middle of a very bright spotlight.

On Monday the White House revealed its debt-reduction package. The most controversial, headline-grabbing portion of the $4.4 trillion plan is what Obama calls the “Buffett rule,” which would ensure that people making more than $1 million a year pay higher rates than middle-income taxpayers. It is named for an often-repeated aphorism of Buffett’s, calling for higher levies on the rich: Buffett says he pays a lower overall tax rate than his hardworking secretary does, and that is wrong.
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“People making more than $1 million a year should not pay a smaller share of their income in taxes than middle-class families pay,” Obama said in announcing his plan. “Warren Buffett’s secretary shouldn’t pay a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett. … It is wrong that in the United States of America, a teacher or a nurse or a construction worker who earns $50,000 should pay higher tax rates than somebody pulling in $50 million.”

Whether Bosanek really does pay a higher tax rate than Buffett, or whether the working class pays a higher tax rate than the gilded super-rich, is hard to say. Bosanek certainly isn’t chiming in.

Reached via telephone at Berkshire Hathaway’s Omaha offices on Tuesday morning, she sighed and politely responded: “I’m sorry, I’m not doing any interviews on that.”

“I understand you must be getting deluged.”

“I’ve got to let you go. Bye-bye.” With that, she hung up.

Her boss says she, or someone in the office, is paying 36 to 41 percent. Taking those words at face-value, I’d say the rest of us are owed at least the minimum information: How are these people getting their taxes done? I have to pay taxes too, and I need to know who & what to avoid.

But Buffett’s tale of tax misery for the lesser mortals, didn’t ring true.

The Buffett secretary comparison has become the go-to talking point for everyone supporting the proposed tax increases. But is it correct?

In order to properly investigate the claim, we contacted accounting professionals in different parts of the country and asked them to “run the numbers” on a secretary making $60,000 a year and a really rich guy.

That analysis becomes quite involved and is not the point of this morning’s coffee-o’clock scribblings. Go RTWT when & if you have the time, it’s quite eye-opening. No, I don’t think Warren Buffett would want you to, but do it anyway.

The long and weird backstory brings us to the events unfolding in the here-and-now:

Warren Buffett is ready to call Republicans’ tax bluff. Last fall, Senator Mitch McConnell said that if Buffett were feeling “guilty” about paying too little in taxes, he should “send in a check.” The jab was in response to Buffett’s August 2011 New York Times op-ed, which made hay of the fact that our tax system is so unbalanced, Buffett (worth about $45 billion) pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. Senator John Thune promptly introduced the “Buffett Rule Act,” an option on tax forms that would allow the rich to donate more in taxes to help pay down the national debt. It was, as Buffett told me for this week’s TIME cover story, “a tax policy only a Republican could come up with.”

Still, he’s willing to take them up on it. “It restores my faith in human nature to think that there are people who have been around Washington all this time and are not yet so cynical as to think that [the deficit] can’t be solved by voluntary contributions,” he says with a chuckle. So Buffett has pledged to match 1 for 1 all such voluntary contributions made by Republican members of Congress. “And I’ll even go 3 for 1 for McConnell,” he says. That could be quite a bill if McConnell takes the challenge; after all, the Senator is worth at least $10 million. As Buffett put it to me, “I’m not worried.”

Get it? Warren Buffett wants to make an issue out of Republican hypocrisy.

See the subtle shift taking place: Warren Buffett is taking advantage of a very seldom-discussed privilege available only to a few among us, those who have managed to remain solvent. It may be more precise to define their numbers as: Those who feel comfortable with gambling. He gets to make a grandiose public statement about an example of hypocrisy that has not yet been demonstrated. Obviously he believes in it, and because he has some money to back up what he believes, it could be credibly surmised that his beliefs trump everybody else’s.

But he’s doing this to take a little bit of limelight away from another example of hypocrisy, this one much more credible since it arrives from the past rather than the future: Namely, his own hypocrisy. He’s already been caught red-handed, running to Washington to talk to his buddy Barack Obama, to get the taxes raised on his “mega-rich friends” and himself.

Gee, that Warren Buffett must be a wonderful personal pal. With friends like that…

But you know what? You don’t even need to wait for the Thune Act if you don’t think your taxes are high enough. As Mitch McConnell and others pointed out, you can send it in yourself. We are not to presume Buffett’s too dense & thick to figure this out for himself, are we? He must have recognized the option was available from the very beginning. Which, in my view, makes his whole cause here a little disingenuous to say the least.

But we don’t need to conclude this is incompetence talking, or even necessarily hypocrisy or deceit. I think it is an example of obfuscation…and Buffett, backed into a corner, if you were paying attention you’ll notice he finally dropped the act. To repeat:

“…as to think that [the deficit] can’t be solved by voluntary contributions,” he says with a chuckle.

That is what this is all about. It doesn’t have anything to do with paying down the public debt or making the government more flush…not for just this year or the year coming-up, anyway. It isn’t about fairness to Buffett’s secretary or calculating a “fair share” for her tax bracket, or his, or any other.

It is about choice. The effort currently underway is to abrogate it. Obama, Buffett, et al, want to get rid of it. They want force. That is central to what this is all about. Everything else under discussion is simply derivative of that.

Senate Minority Leader McConnell, to his credit, made an issue out of that in his office’s response to Buffett’s challenge:

Sen. McConnell says that Washington should be smaller, rather than taxes getting bigger. And since some, like President Obama and Mr. Buffett, want to pay higher taxes, Congress made it possible for them to call their own bluff and send in a check. So I look forward to Mr. Buffett matching a healthy batch of checks from those who actually want to pay higher taxes, including Congressional Democrats, the President and the DNC.

A Fine For Not Using a Biofuel That Doesn’t Exist

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

And that would be $6.8 million in fines, to be specific.

If You Build It, They Will ComeWhen the companies that supply motor fuel close the books on 2011, they will pay about $6.8 million in penalties to the Treasury because they failed to mix a special type of biofuel into their gasoline and diesel as required by law.

But there was none to be had. Outside a handful of laboratories and workshops, the ingredient, cellulosic biofuel, does not exist.

In 2012, the oil companies expect to pay even higher penalties for failing to blend in the fuel, which is made from wood chips or the inedible parts of plants like corncobs. Refiners were required to blend 6.6 million gallons into gasoline and diesel in 2011 and face a quota of 8.65 million gallons this year.

Hat tip to a wonderful blog we’ve browsed & linked many times before, Small Dead Animals, a Canadian blog. Which offers up the most appropriate Atlas Shrugged quote, and headlines it “America’s EPA Absolutely Out of Control.”

Are you wincing in national shame yet?

Eat Pray Love

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

This guy said it for me so I don’t have to.

I cannot for the life of me see what is inspiration or fantastic about this story. The main character is horribly self-absorbed, egocentric, narcissistic, and weak. The only thing that matters to her, is her; “what can this holy man do for me?”, “what can this Italian family and way of life do for me?”, “what can these geographical destinations do for me?”, “what can a potential life without the husband, with all his faults and mistakes (none of which could be malicious or evil in any way), who I swore myself to, be like?”

If you’d like to counter with something contextually juvenile like “but happiness is important! we have only one life to live!” or “marriage and commitment only works if both partners are happy!” or “spirituality is real! you must find it or you are incomplete!” or “women deserve to be empowered as well as men!” .. don’t. Spare us, please. You make a commitment, you honor that commitment until all avenues are exhausted.

The character wasn’t right for this journey to self-enlightenment, because the character was self-absorbed. Maybe the producers of the film didn’t see this. To people out here in flyover country — yes, the chicks too — everything was a big fat duh. The protagnoist approaches every country, every street and intersection, every other character with an attitude of what’s in it for me, me, me. She is spiritually unfulfilled. Yeah. Exactly. That’s what happens. You need two hours for that? You could have told it in a minute. You could have made it purely antecedent action, thus cutting it down to zero minutes.

Also, Julia Roberts wasn’t right for the role. At one point, the character is described as “hot.” And the story seems right for a woman about 20 to 25 years of age. Watching a woman in her mid-forties try to figure out what life is all about, just looks dumb and silly. Maybe if she was an empty-nester it would make more sense.

In fact, the only way this works is if you think for some reason the character was developed exactly the way she should have been…as a selfish bitch…and the casting director made some phone calls to find an actress for whom this wouldn’t be much of a stretch.

It’s not going to work for a man who’s been divorced, not even a little bit. And unfortunately, there are a lot of guys in my situation: Started barely-adult life in a starter marriage, the wifey brought nothing but champagne tastes for the beer budget, then after a zillion purchases closed with the sales pitch of “on both our incomes we can afford it” she tired of the materialistic lifestyle and took off. When you’ve been through the financial wreckage of a situation like that, this looks like a story of “what happened to her after you saw her hit the road.” You’re supposed to feel sorry for her because something’s missing from her life and she doesn’t know what. Aw…well…yeah that makes me sad, but not in the way you’re thinking…I was envisioning something involving stake-pegs, honey and an anthill.

I wish I was speaking just for myself and my unique history. Wish I was. You know that’s not the case. Even a lot of women relate to it — yes, every now and then a woman gets the shaft. Women do get married to spendthrift it’ll-all-work-out free spirit guys, who have a change of heart when the bills start rolling in and hit the road. And they can see the deadbeat in Julia Roberts’ character — who, like many fictional constructs in movies, never seems to have to pay for anything.

Conclusion: Only those free spirits will enjoy this movie. It’s made for them and only them. It seems to be a very common occurrence with these life-journey movies: For half the audience, it’s a miserable experience, something of a square-peg-round-hole problem. The movie just doesn’t fit and it just doesn’t work. A shallow selfish person lives an unfulfilling life, we see it and we think: Yeah, so?

We seem to have a lot of these kinds of people watching movies, therefore placing demands on what movies will be made later. It’s becoming a big problem. I saw this happen in the late 1970′s to early 1980′s, a lot…I’ll have to think of some examples later, but it was the same thing. Some superficial jerk would wander around from beginning to end, trying to find a more fulfilling life, and the audience would have to take on the burdensome task of using the two hours to figure out the intimate desires and values of this fictional person they didn’t even like.

After I make the list, I’m sure this will bubble up to the top of it as the most loathsome of the lot. When I saw Julia Roberts riding her bike I wanted a big truck to come along and smack her. When I saw her sailing in a boat I wanted a big shark to come up from the depths and devour it. Not because she’s Julia Roberts (although that certainly helped) but because her character was completely execrable and constantly made bad choices.

Open-Mindedness

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

I have a Facebook friend who regularly tangles, or is entangled by, some acquaintances of his over in the UK who are fond of what in The States would be considered left-of-center ideas. He regularly invites me into these threads so I can see what’s going on & contribute to the discussion. I’m not sure if the attempt is to help me, him or them. It’s always enlightening but I have to say, with regard to where these discussions go, my curiosity has started to wane because there isn’t too much variance to it.

I’m going to be asked, by the three “blokes,” in a rather pugnacious manner what my feelings are about something that is purely a values determination, like do I support gay marriage, abortion, etc. Or about some discipline that’s trying to be science-ey, like global warming. When I answer in a way the blokes find disagreeable, they’ll gather together and cluck away like chickens in a barnyard that I’m — fill in the adjective — and it’s unworthy of their time to discuss this issue or any other with me.

And then the cycle repeats. But I do learn a tiny bit more every time.

Lately, the most outspoken of these ankle-biters embedded the video you see above, which I find to make some reasonable points about the basics involved in how to think. Interestingly, it points out some things about open-mindedness that often go unnoticed by those who use the term most often.

First time I watched it all the way through, I was convinced — still am — that the bloke who embedded it, never made it to the 8:27 mark. It sounds like the guy who produced the video had been reading his Facebook feed, and said “this bloke is doing all kinds of things wrong, I’m going to put some comments at the end of that video I made so people know they shouldn’t act like him.”

But that point, I thought, would remain a subtle one…until early this morning when I saw this:

I’m surprised the Christian right in the US&A [sic] haven’t made amendments to their Bible like they do to the Constitution so it suits them more. Take out those awkward bits which suggest greed isn’t a good thing, and the bit where Jesus bashes the bankers up. If they did, sheep like Mikey and Morgan will nod in Orwellian fashion, baaaing “Compassion is good, Selfish Greed is Better, Compassion is Good, Selfish Greed is Better”

Oh, my. I’m not even sure what that was. I put in an inquiry. Until I get an answer back that is coherent and makes sense, I’m going to assume it is…

…yet another example of this

I have noticed something about how some people treat beliefs which are personally important to them. When faced with uncomfortable facts, they do what I call “making up stories.”

I don’t mean they lie. Or rather they do, but they’re lying to themselves, and in a very particular way.

Some examples: About seven years ago, I was taking a course in the Polish city of Wroclaw. While there, I shared an apartment with an Englishman who had a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.

This fellow was convinced of every fashionable environmental catastrophe, including, of course, global warming.

I am skeptical about man-caused global warming for reasons not relevant here. In the course of our discussions, I mentioned that when I was working to launch a new college of science in Poland, I had come to know quite a few members of the Polish Academy of Science in the departments of chemistry, physics, paleobiology, etc.

I told him that not one of these world-class scientists believed in man-caused global warming.

He replied, “That’s because their jobs depend on defending the oil companies and denying global warming.”

To begin with, that’s not true. On the contrary, the Polish government at the time had no concerns about global warming. They had too many real problems to deal with. And he was a stranger to Poland who couldn’t have known one way or the other.

From what I have seen around the ‘net, this is a common pattern. The leftist claims, in a variety of ways, to possess a superior attachment to, and command of, reality. I’ve noticed the contemplations about global warming and God are the two triggers most likely to send the discussion off in this direction.

And then that same leftist will start to manufacture this reality which he claims to understand better. Well, I suppose that all makes sense, if you’re the one creating it. Some thought makes you happy, gives you a sense of satisfaction, you get tired of waiting for it to actually happen so you go to Facebook and enter one of your “I’m surprised it hasn’t happened” comments. Uh…alright, I’ll go ahead and state the obvious. It’s fun to think about, for him, because if it happened it would say something that would bolster his argument. Wouldn’t it say so much more to bolster his argument, if he waited for it to happen and then pointed out that it happened?

Things the way they are, he’s just ‘fessed up to, at the very least, a passionate bias at work as he chooses what ideas are worthy of contempt and therefore dismissal, be they based on empirically observed fact or anything else; and what other ideas are worthy of special emphasis and maybe even some embellishment, even if they’re completely manufactured fiction — just because they happen to be fun ideas. To him.

Hardly the stuff that helpfully rivets a concerned thinker to reality.

And this is not an isolated case. It’s become enough of a set pattern that when I see the first event take place, I now expect the second. I’m not making a claim to any powerhouse intellect in noodling this out, I’m just recognizing a pattern, like a dog expecting a meal when he hears a bell ring. Leftists who boast of the most durable and functional recognition of reality, tend to labor with anemic and misguided effort in precisely this area. They make up stories and then they pretend it’s the other guy who’s doing it.

Memo For File CLII

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Just wanted to get this written down. Hopefully, we are at a very late hour in our nation’s latest experimentation with zany left-wing government, and in a little over a year we will be demoting it to the municipalities. At any rate, it will always be around for us to see what makes it tick, and how it all works.

Meanwhile, with the benefit of three years of Obama leadership, preceded by an additional two years of a Reid/Pelosi Congress, I thought I’d take the time to record seven generic — read that as, issues-neutral — “planks” in their planning, which seem to be ever-present.

Were I more receptive to what they have in mind, it would bother me mightily that these seven seem to always be there, all the time. Like evil little dwarves, each punctual, nobody ever clicking in late or calling in sick:

1. There are two high-level classifications of cause: Oppression of a designated victim subclass, which may be ongoing or it may be a matter of distant historical record, or environmental catastrophe. The sentiment that unites it all is a feeling that there hasn’t been enough sacrificing going on.
2. The nature of the cause defines the glittering generalities to be seen in the sympathizers of the cause. These generalities have to do with empathy if the cause is present or past slight against a victim subclass, and they have to do with keen foresight and wisdom if it is environmental. This is how the less ideologically-energized, or “moderates,” are recruited to the cause; there is a detectable overtone that if you’re not on-board, there must be something wrong with you.
3. The remedy has something to do with binding legislation. Everyone comes under the jurisdiction of what’s being proposed, and once the plan is put into effect, those who are impacted by it will be impacted on an involuntary basis. There is no opt-in or opt-out, and all the exits are closed.
4. There is a difference between those coming under the jurisdiction and those who are actually impacted. This difference is defined in the form of exemptions. Exemptions are awarded by the discretion of some official who is given the power to decide who is above the law; or, they are awarded by criteria, to appease the commoners. The criteria will then be defined according to wealth/income, with the “have-nots” enjoying the benefits of exemption. The irony here is that empathy is a defining trait that makes the supporters better & more decent people than critics, and yet the supporters cannot see the appeal in their own plan unless they’re assured it only applies to someone else. If they really had empathy, that wouldn’t work too well.
5. If there are other criteria for exemption from direct impact, those other criteria are not openly discussed. They are only fleshed out behind closed doors, before select audiences. Those criteria, of course, have to do with who owes something to who. So at this point, the plan becomes one of retaliating against a real or imagined conspiracy among an over-privileged aristocracy, which might or might not have actually existed, with a new conspiracy that is definitely real, among an over-privileged and newer aristocracy that is also definitely real. If the older aristocracy was real, it might escape everyone’s attention that the newer one boasts some members who were also members of the older one.
6. Also, the all-important wealth/income litmus test is never inspected with much transparency or sincerity. It is established out of concern over discrepancies in the wealth, so it sounds like a wealth test; but when enacted, it invariably deals with income, usually household income, at which point it ceases to concern itself with any other aspect of personal wealth.
7. What I find most curious of all: Very high priority is given to defining who is to be shut out from further discussions about refining the remedy. The supporters, eager to contrast themselves against critics and skeptics for the glittering personal attributes not shared by the critics & skeptics, aren’t keen on debating for too long — they want to get to the fun part, where they just jaw away with others who are like-minded. This is the most important, and the most ironic. The remedy is supposed to benefit all of society, in most cases it’s suppose to actually save society, so that all benefit. It’s supposed to involve everyone. But those sympathetic to it are very proud of and pleased with the fact that the remedy is defined, and adjusted, among a narrow band of elites. Also, none of the supporters seem to suspect, even as a remote possibility, that they themselves might be among the ones excluded from further discussion.

:-#

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Current operating theory: Everyone who’s ever suggested Sarah Palin is a blithering idiot, is a blithering idiot. Waiting for it to be proven wrong. Hasn’t happened yet.

Hat tip to Gerard.

Beginning to Understand the Controversy Well Enough to Write About It

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Margot’s on the warpath, again, this time about Lego building blocks for girls. You know the aggravation runs deep because she has many posts up about the same thing, but I had to pick one of them and use the comment space underneath to make inquiries because, after all that has been written, I haven’t quite understood what all the fuss has been about. I tried my best to be non-offensive, although I didn’t put that much sweat & adrenaline into that because honestly, now that I look back on it and see I’ve failed at it again, I’ll not be losing too much sleep over it.

That’s the price to be paid when you start agitating for some kind of change somewhere, and your strategy at the very outset is to be offended. People start to figure it out. The natural response, over time, evolves to one of “Okay, I’ll give it my best shot not to tick off so-and-so…but if it happens it happens, if it doesn’t it doesn’t.” We all remember at least one uncle or aunt like this, right?

Legos for GirlsAnyway. The shot heard round the world is Lego’s launch of Legos for Girls. Mercifully, the first thing we examine is something on which I concur with the everlastingly-angry feminists, although this is a matter of taste. There are humanoid dolls in the Lego sets. There have been human-shaped Lego pieces for years now, and this has never met with my approval; perhaps I’m dating myself when I point out that in my day, if you wanted a human in your Lego creation, you took those beautiful bricks and made yourself something that looked like a human. If the point is to stimulate the flow of creative juices in a maturing child, the toy manufacturer has already lost me and they lost me many years ago. Human shaped Lego pieces because all the kids are building humans? So what if they’re all building humans? Let them keep building humans.

So I share in the complaint, but it turns out that by deciding on an action that just makes sense — finding a place where you can get tubs of plain old blocks, and declaring the matter settled — I have done something different from what the aggravated feminists would do about it. Which is, of course, to say I have angered them again. Oh, dear.

We seem to be recognizing the same problem but looking at it in two different ways. To me, it’s like: I cannot stand the taste of Starbucks Pike Place coffee, which the coffee franchise is pushing very hard. If I walk in and order a “Venti” of plain coffee, I get that awful stuff that tastes like McDonald’s coffee unless I take the time to spec. So feminists wandering into Toys R Us and finding an anemic selection of toys for their girls, find sympathy in me…in fact, a lot of sympathy…but it’s like anything else, the way I see it. Retail and Internet. With retail you can have it today after you burn a little bit of gas. You don’t have to pay for shipping, but you pony up, oh, maybe sixty percent more…and your selection is limited. So you’re not happy with the selection; to the browser we go. Just like sneakers and razor blades. Simple.

Okay, get ready to be creeped out. Sitting down?

That is not the problem at all, you’ll see I was told in no uncertain terms.

The feminist issue, Morgan K Freeberg…is the message this type of marketing sends out to people, especially the young girls being targeted by it. It reinforces the old, stifling stereotype of girls being nothing more than pink, passive and pretty. This is what girls get to aspire to, this is what we are told to aim for.

Holy shit. The Wall Street Journal column, linked above, includes a passing reference to mothers who see another side to it…and feminists, true to form, seem blissfully unaware of it:

But another mother with two daughters said that when she saw the link she was thrilled, knowing instantly that her girls would love it. She said that even her tomboy daughter loves to play with girly things, and she said she thinks there haven’t been enough of those in the Lego product lines.

“I see nothing wrong with sets being targeted to girls, and the parents who are so outraged by the issue seem to be blind to the fact that no matter how hard we try to push gender-neutral things on our kids, they eventually get drawn to ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ toys,” she said. “It’s typical, it’s healthy, it’s expected.”

Indeed, most of us grew up in Barbie’s slightly warped world, and we turned out just fine. We’re smarter than any marketing campaign and kids today are even savvier.

Here and there you’ll find some comments from mothers-of-girls who share this common desire and in some cases the common complaint: They want their girls to play with toys that are conspicuously identifiable as girls’ toys. They like the pretty-in-pink stuff. And while my authority to speak on this is sharply limited, since I’m not in this crowd, I’ll go out on a limb and guess that much of the reason for the moms liking it is purely practical. Just as the excerpt above indicates. They are liking it because the daughters are liking it.

Lots of girls like pink things. More than a few have come up with a theme for the childhood bedroom involving a favorite color, some red, some violet, and — come on, let’s face it — a tub full of blue and yellow and white Lego blocks wouldn’t fit in. I could see how the lack of choice would generate a complaint, or at the very least, a desire.

It appears that consumer-driven demand, and supply that fulfills it or provides a new option that services it, is the source of the feminist ire.

They are not complaining about lack of choice. They are complaining about the presence of it.

New CostumeThis ties in to that other observation I made about the weird, strange people who have long been obsessed with sticking Wonder Woman in long pants. Just like Wonder Woman in a skimpy costume: A product is offered. A great hue and cry emerges about “messages” that are sent out by means of this product offering…and a media maelstrom swirls around some silly issue that really doesn’t matter.

The noisiest among the opinionated are allowed to pretend they are crusading for choice, when they are in fact opposed to the choice. They want the choice removed and that is what they are all about. They want everything done their way. They want the next generation to learn to recognize the world in a way of their choosing. The noisy opinionated people, that is, not the parents. They don’t want it left up to the parents, and they don’t want it left up to the children either. They want to decide this.

And their objection is to the contrast. They say if Batman and Superman ran around sans capes in little shorty wrestler’s outfits, they won’t be so upset about WW’s tiny costume. And I believe them. Bare legs and a rip-away bustier is not what gets them all piqued; they want the gender distinction to be erased. Thus it is with the pink Lego sets. Pink is not the problem, the problem is that there is something special and unique about girls.

So they object not to the girly attributes, like a skimpy but iconic super-heroine costume or a pink plastic toy, rather, the higher level of concern which is the ability of the consumer to select these attributes if they are desired, thus acknowledging there is a difference between girls and boys. But there is yet another even higher level of concern they have: If the choice is to be made available, so that it can be acknowledged that the two sexes are not the same, then who is going to make it? Consider how the feminists feel about their own movement taking charge of the “messaging” to little girls, that there is something special, unique and appealing about being female. They actually do that quite a lot, and it’s plain to see they’ve got no problem with it. Therefore, I conclude, their area of concern must be that they want the right people doing it. Parents are not to be trusted. In their world, girls are remarkably different from boys, since you cannot make boys unsympathetic and inferior without establishing a difference. But they want direct control over the critical task of defining what that difference is.

The irony is: For the nearly fifty years this crusade has been taking place now, what the feminist movement touches, it destroys. Back in the day, everyone loved watching Wonder Woman and it wasn’t just because the guys liked watching Lynda Carter’s boobs and legs. It was cheesy, stupid, funny and fun. Those days are long gone now, and it isn’t because Wonder Woman’s costume covers up more, it’s because the feminists have messed with it and there’s nothing fun about it. The same is true of Legos. The product is going to end up completely destroyed because of this little crusade going on, the manufacturer of the toy is going to come out of it looking rather rode-hard-and-put-away-wet. Nobody anywhere is going to be enlightened about a damn thing anywhere, other than that feminists are mean, inflexible and nasty. And just leave the girl stuff alone from now on, okay? Not worth the trouble. Go back to marketing the toy for boys. Retire Wonder Woman, let Superman, Batman and Green Lantern make all the money.

The stated goal’s exact opposite is achieved. Something will get wrecked, completely, and the feminist movement will look down, say “Our work here is done,” and walk off somewhere to lurk, waiting to be offended by something again. Not waiting long.

It has been ever thus.

Thing I Know #322. Feminism exists today to make women disposable; it attempts this by confining their energies to those specialties a man could pursue just as capably.

Devil’s in the Details

Friday, January 6th, 2012

I’m not sure whether to be encouraged by this or not. I think not. Prepping for this post, I was doing a Google search for a link I could use to properly credit Dennis Prager’s unofficial motto, long one of my favorites, “I prefer clarity over agreement.” In the first page of hits I found some flotsam and jetsam that related to my point only weakly, and then a good strong correlation in a Right Wing News article done up by some guy…who is me. It’s over three years old, flush with the disappointment of President-Elect Barack Obama’s victory over John McCain. I point to another article that’s bringing back a 404 error now, although Miss Attila’s referring work is still up and well worth reading. It has to do with the need for unity within the conservative movement.

To which I say,

…the Devil’s in the details…Once you’ve made agreement more important than clarity, it’s a treacherously short road to that tragic state of affairs in which the substance of what you have to sell, is nothing but a distant memory, and all you’re left holding is a package and a label.

It becomes relevant today because blogger friend Rick notices the problems involved in what has lately been said by the recent loser of that election from three years ago. McCain, to his credit, can be counted on to do his darnedest to score some wins for conservatives when & where he can — right up until the conservatives start to define what makes them better than the opposition. And then he’ll turn around and lay down some friendly fire. He’s very reliable about this, and the civility leash upon which he has the conservative movement staked to the ground, seems to myself and others to be impractically short.

The problem is exactly the way I defined it three years ago: “All you’re left holding is a package and a label.” The real tragedy is that McCain was standing for something in 2008, but too many people didn’t understand what it was, and I don’t think McCain understood what it was. It made good sense to choose Sarah Palin as the running mate, and it made almost as good sense to bring Joe The Plumber into the campaign. The message, which McCain utterly failed to crystallize, and needs no special effort for crystallization now, is: We cannot afford to live, long term, in an America in which non-producers tell producers how to produce. Palin did not bring mobility to this message by being the Governor of Alaska. She brought it by means of her experiences, including breaking her hand hauling fish aboard a boat for her husband’s business. If America needs anything right now, it needs people in these beltway offices whose hands once smelled of fish guts. That, by itself, most assuredly will not fix the problems. But it would be a start. It would address what is the original sprouting seed of those problems.

Because — and this is well worth pointing out — when we put people in charge who’ve never actually created anything, we start valuing hard work less and less, and then we value character and integrity less and less, and then we end up under the leadership of scumbags. Character and integrity, remember those, the driving reasons behind choosing John McCain to carry the conservative banner? And yet John McCain won’t let anyone in the conservative movement call anyone else a scumbag. Even when it’s important.

John McCain slammed Newt Gingrich Thursday for calling Mitt Romney “a liar,” accusing him of crossing the line of “something that we don’t do in politics.”

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to call your opponent a liar. That’s just something we don’t do in politics unless you certainly have some overwhelming proof,” said McCain on CBS’s “The Early Show.” The Arizona senator endorsed Romney on Wednesday in New Hampshire.

Within all the transcripts I’ve read of this interview, not once has McCain bothered himself with the details of what Gingrich said, or where Gingrich found fault with the verity of what Romney said. I cannot speculate from that, that McCain neglected it entirely; maybe he did, and the quotes generated by that just weren’t sexy enough to be picked up & reported anywhere.

But I will say, Newt’s comments do seem to deserve more respect than to be dismissed as “something we don’t do in politics.”

O’DONNELL: “You scolded Mitt Romney, his friends who are running this Super PAC that has funded that, and you said of Mitt Romney, ‘Someone who will lie to you to get to be president will lie to you when they are president.’ I have to ask you, are you calling Mitt Romney a liar?”

GINGRICH: “Yes.”

O’DONNELL: “You’re calling Mitt Romney a liar?”

GINGRICH: “Well, you seem shocked by it! Yes. I mean, why – “

O’DONNELL: “Why are you saying he is a liar?”

GINGRICH: “Because this is a man whose staff created the PAC, his millionaire friends fund the PAC, he pretends he has nothing to do with the PAC – it’s baloney. He’s not telling the American people the truth.”

My gripe here — the foundation for my point, which is, again, that John McCain is a negative stencil-template defining exactly what kind of candidate the Republicans should try not to nominate this time — is this: John McCain has just manufactured a conflict. It is a conflict of the sort I was defining three years ago, the Dennis Prager conflict between clarity and agreement.

Republicans did what he said; they nominated him. And this next point deserves some special emphasis: John McCain’s way of doing things, is not conducive toward clarity or agreement. It is a double-loser. The conflict did not exist before McCain spoke up. So his remarks undermine the value of both truth and unity.

He does this repeatedly. And he does it with ignorance. Rick provides a link to a report of an earlier incident that took place during the 2008 campaign:

Bill Cunningham, who hosts “The Big Show” with Bill Cunningham, a local program here that is also syndicated nationally, was part of a line of people lauding Mr. McCain and revving up the crowd before his appearance here before several hundred people at a theater here.

He lambasted the national media, drawing cheers from the audience, for being soft in their coverage of Mr. Obama compared to the Republican candidates, declaring they should “peel the bark off Barack Hussein Obama.”

He went on to rail, “at one point, the media will quit taking sides in this thing and start covering Barack Hussein Obama.”
:
Afterward, however, Mr. McCain held a scheduled news conference and immediately addressed the comments, evidently informed by his aides about what had happened.

“It’s my understanding that before I came in here a person who was on the program before I spoke made some disparaging remarks about my two colleagues in the Senate, Senator Obama and Senator Clinton,” he said. “I have repeatedly stated my respect for Senator Obama and Senator Clinton, that I will treat them with respect. I will call them ‘Senator.’ We will have a respectful debate, as I have said on hundreds of occasions. I regret any comments that may have been made about these two individuals who are honorable Americans.”

Responding to questions from reporters, Mr. McCain said he did not hear what Mr. Cunningham said, saying that when he arrived, Mr. Portman was on stage.

So McCain, you see, didn’t have any idea what he was talking about. I’m not using that as an expression. I’m saying it as a statement of fact.

Is anyone besides me catching the irony here? McCain, and politicians like him, are trying to sell a certain aspect of appeal: Gentlemanly behavior, with self-policing in force. Someone associated with McCain’s campaign says something uncivil, the top dog will deliver a dressing-down. Yes, people do want this. Count me among the people who would like to see this. But you see, McCain is probably not the candidate who provides this because, appearances being any indication, he just doesn’t even get it.

See, the self-policing gentlemanly candidate who works this way, would wait until he got all the facts. McCain gave the game away when he pounced like a jaguar in waiting the first time there was the slightest hint that such an event might have taken place. This proves he had a narrative in his head and wanted to fulfill his role in it. His reasons were pragmatic and not altruistic. In February of 2008, he was not the nominee yet, but he was a wounded veteran and a POW and respected by friends & foes alike as a good, decent man of principle.

Knowing what we know now, we have to question all of it. Which is a great tragedy. But it’s unavoidable: John McCain is so eager to fulfill these narratives and broadcast these messages about his positive personal attributes, that he will block any messages being sent or received about anything else, including why exactly we would suffer under an Obama presidency or why Republicans make better leaders and support better policies than democrats. He won’t allow the message to get across. Not because communicating the message would flunk his litmus test for civility. But because communicating the message initiates another iteration of the narrative, and McCain will fulfill the rest of the narrative by laying the smack down even when he doesn’t have the facts about what took place, just to demonstrate his gentlemanly, self-policing behavior.

Well, when you have to prove the same thing about yourself over and over again, the likelihood that it actually applies, logically diminishes.

That all is a mouthful. There may be ways to outline the point in fewer paragraphs, but as our other blogger friend in New Mexico is fond of pointing out, we here at The Blog That Nobody Reads don’t have an editor on our payroll and sometimes it shows. It’s not a simple point. But this is: If someone’s calling someone a liar, and you’re saying that’s something that just isn’t done in politics, without taking the time to find out why it was said, then this is a confession that telling the truth is “something that just isn’t done in politics.” It’s just like Rick was saying. And this leads to another irony: John McCain is supposed to be a man of character. But what is that, exactly, if it doesn’t have something to do with standing up for truth? Here’s McCain, from all I’m gathering, standing up for lying without being called out on it. He was chosen to be the nominee for the Republican party because he has morals, standards, respect. This is no small thing; it is written in history, so he will be the 2008 Republican nominee forever. He’s still serving as a Senator with the letter “R” after his name, so he still represents the Republican party. How good do the Republicans look, with their standard-bearer for personal integrity making the case for lying “in politics,” and not being called out on it?

Not being a vet, I cannot sink to the level of questioning McCain’s moral code; I still have to respect him as someone who has made sacrifices I have not made.

But it is fair game, I think, for me to criticize him for thoughtlessness. And he’s shown it. Many times. Exactly this way. Sadly, it has become, even though he might protest against this I think, his most reliable trait. He stands for a moral code that isn’t moral, and doesn’t help us as a country. Republicans cannot, to coin a phrase, “speak truth to power.” Conservatives cannot speak it to RINOs or semi-conservatives or phony-conservatives. From all I’ve observed about McCain’s behavior, since I’ve been able to see it, if the speak-truth-to-power thing runs in the opposite direction, he’s completely cool with it and doesn’t have a single problem with it.

So the irony is this: You can’t demonstrate that one thing is better than another thing, without appreciating differences in things. It is, by its very nature, an exercise in disunity. McCain opposes this only selectively. He has much to say about it when conservatives show their way is the better way; he blows the whistle on this. But he blows said whistle to show he’s ready and willing to blow said whistle, to show us something about himself, thereby engaging in exactly the same behavior he is declaring to be unfit and incompatible with that strong, principled personal character he has. He’s calling out a contrast in order to make himself look good compared to other Republicans. Hey, it worked, why not keep doing it? But he won’t let his party do exactly that same thing to show why it is better than the other party.

So the problem with John McCain is that he wants to show people he has strong personal character, without allowing it to amount to anything.

Anatoli’s Chassis

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

The UPS man arrived last night, with blessed bounty:

Anatoli will combine the Z68 chipset motherboard in Natalya, the Sandybridge unit on which I do my current puttering, with a super-duper Darth Vader tower case like the one on Eudoxia, my son’s Core i7-powered unit. This has been a source of parental jealousy for me, since Natalya churns away with all her Sandybridge goodness beneath the old skin worn by Grigori, a Pentium II class machine that has since retired.

Ivybridge wonderfulness for Anatoli. When it ships.

Biggest hitch in the giddyup is the 2TB hard drive. Holy smokes, I hope this market settles soon. Kicking myself because I was thinking of buying Anatoli’s hard drive out of my Christmas shopping budget. Common sense prevailed, and I’m sorry it did this time…just dang…wishing I sunk my retirement funds into hard drives. That was three weeks ago. I can get 350 gigs for what would have netted me 2TB back then.

Getting some pushback from my better half about the physical space these units are taking up. I’m sure when I clear the living room of the large box in which the new chassis was delivered, I’ll be back in her good graces. And I’m planning to make a micro-cube out of the Haswell machine, when the time comes…which is cool anyway.

“We Can’t Wait”

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

New initiative from the White House to be announced today:

President Barack Obama is looking to boost summer job prospects for kids.

The White House says that with help from the private sector it’s gotten commitments for nearly 180,000 youth employment opportunities for next summer and is aiming for tens of thousands more.

Obama says that with young people facing record unemployment the government must do everything it can to make sure they have opportunities to learn skills and a work ethic.

The summer jobs plan is to be announced Thursday. It’s the administration’s latest “We Can’t Wait” initiative to go around Congress. Many of the positions would be unpaid training opportunities.

Republicans charged that the White House is taking credit for positions at places like CVS and Bank of America that were going to be created anyway. [emphasis mine]

What a bizarre little mega-bundle of weirdness.

The positions, at least “many” of them, are unpaid. So the White House is acting on its, uh, Article II constitutional authority to be, um, an…employment agency? Yeah I recall seeing that in Article II somewhere I think…I believe Madison was the one who came up with the idea, or maybe Hamilton, I forget.

Okay, sarcasm off. So the White House is going to be an employment agency, and it appears it has been one for awhile by now. Except it’s something of a mediocre employment agency. If unpaid training opportunities represent the goal, young people have managed to get that far before just on their own. I did it in the early eighties, just after Reagan got in, when his recovery hadn’t yet picked up any steam. That was record unemployment. I learned to type and worked hard to justify my wage, and be somewhat presentable in an office.

Who needs this help from the freakin’ White House to get them a job that doesn’t pay anything?

And the irony is not lost on me: This “We Can’t Wait Initiative” is, not even subtly, a slap at Congress. Not too hard to pick up the message — we can’t wait for Congress to act, we have to pick up the initiative and go go go! One might be inclined to say, welcome to the Libertarian Party Mr. President.

But the remedy is…the White House is here for you. Gonna get you a job that doesn’t pay anything. And then you’ll say hooray, that President Obama got me a job that doesn’t pay anything! And Congress didn’t! So I’m going to be a passionate advocate for government intervention, my whole life…but only from the White House.

And only until 2013 or 2017 — as long as Obama is running the place.

Keep Congress out of my government, or something?

I don’t know how the Obama-fan thinks this stuff out. I suppose by the usual means…not doing it. Obama is in charge, it is His economy, so naturally it’s up to the White House to find jobs for young people that don’t pay anything — that’s how robust the economy is when Obama is running it. According to Obama. Is there any way to read that other than as an admission of defeat?

It’s becoming a broken-record drum-beat, maybe I should make it up into a sidebar blog-widget: Can’t aspire toward the successes if you won’t recognize the fails.

“The Worst Idea This Administration Ever Had”

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Black Five:

Ships and airplanes driven and flown by men can still not own the ground that young men in the mud will be forced to wrest from our nation’s foes. We owe it to them to give them enough comrades to ensure it can be done.

But the civilians in charge don’t think so. They’re acting out the very definition of insanity. RTWT.

Best Pole Dance Ever

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

If it isn’t, I’m sure it’s worth an honorable mention at least.

The Case Against Santorum?

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

So now everyone’s wondering where Rick goes from here, now that he’s come within eight votes — not points, but votes — of overtaking Romney. People set out to say why everyone else should dismiss him, end up just reciting a bunch of gossip about who or what Santorum hates, as if they know him personally or something…apparently feel like they’ve done an awesome job, and walk off looking for the next opinion to loudly have.

I’m really not sure what to make of all this, other than: The opinions of my fellow Americans reveal precious little about what life would be like under a Santorum administration. It would be a shake-up in priorities, which you would think would be a welcome thing since nobody can really name what the priorities are right now, other than the First Couple going on lots of vacations, and the First Dude giving lots and lots of speeches, and things sure the hell aren’t working the way they are. But a popular viewpoint has arisen, and who knows maybe it’s a majority viewpoint, that the priorities are fine the way they are even though nobody can say what they are. Well let me revise that, I can and I did. It ends up being a pretty silly and skewed set of priorities. It’s no wonder the economy sucks, especially when you have more rules to follow when you’re producing something than when you aren’t, and the producers are quitting because, like Francisco d’Anconia, they’re tired of being evil.

It could be said that the jobs market is working just fine; we’re getting exactly the economy we’ve requested.

Our electoral process, on the other hand, is a different matter. I do not know why I should dread a Santorum presidency. That is not to say I’m still looking for reasons to shy away from him as the nominee. I do have some concerns about the family values agenda when, from what I’ve heard, it’s an issue much closer to Rick Santorum’s heart than the jobs/economy thing. To me, these two matters are related, offshoots of a common ancestor with the jobs thing being a decidedly more direct descendant of it, therefore receiving the higher priority. That common ancestor of political issues is being proud of your own existence. We have found a way to loathe ourselves when we put non-producers on higher pedestals than producers, because we’re saying those who provide the things we need, by doing so, are evil. And we’ve found a way to loathe ourselves when we say the most spectacular way to be the best person possible, is to simply tolerate others and not hate…which is not any zenith of human achievement, it is the very least we should be demanding out of each other. It is a baseline. Aspiring toward a baseline is just a fancy way of not doing anything.

Besides of which, let’s face it there is such a thing as a “homosexual agenda.” And, within it, I do see a subtle undertone of hostility against heterosexuals with large families…like Rick Santorum, for example. Pejorative terms like “breeder” cause me some concern, the same kind of concern we’ve been taught to have when someone uses similar terms to describe homosexuals. Yeah it isn’t politicians using the term “breeder,” it’s just activist crackpots so I probably shouldn’t read too much into it. But it says something about the movement. And it is just a little more evidence of the self-loathing agenda. If you’re ashamed of your existence, you’ll behave exactly the way the left has telling us we should behave. Don’t emit carbon, go for a green burial when you’re dead, don’t breed. Leave no legacy except the nice things people will say about you…which will be something like…what? He didn’t emit much and was very tolerant? What was his name again?

Back to Santorum. I have heard one complaint consistently, and it really, really bothers me. I mean, a lot. And not about Santorum. I hear over and over again, that his levels of charisma are modest. I can understand this as a concern, since after all if Santorum is the Republican nominee, he’ll be going up against the super-awesome mega-wonderful Barack H. Obama. It’s a legitimate concern for Republicans to have. Hey, I have it. I’m thinking of dismissing him because of it.

But I hear it stated with genuine hatred. People say Rick Santorum lacks charisma, exactly the same way they would say something like…Rick Santorum left gum on a bus seat. No, that’s not personal enough, since anyone could ride the bus and sit on gum. Rick Santorum stayed over at my house and left his socks on the coffee table — disgusting!

No, not severe enough.

Rick Santorum slept with my wife. There. That’s how they say it. Rick Santorum lacks charisma….and his lack of charisma is a premeditated, personal attack against me. If…I live…to be a hundred…(right eye starts to twitch)…I’ll NEVER FORGIVE THAT RICK SANTORUM! For lacking charisma.

This goes back to way, way before Rick Santorum (who, as a phenomenon, is less than forty-eight hours old right?). I can think of many examples of this besides Rick Santorum, among Republicans as well as democrats. Although I can think of more Republicans who’ve had the problem, and without a doubt, the loathing against the Republicans was much more intense. To be a not-a-party-guy is viewed as some personal slight, almost on the level of a criminal offense. Dullards are seen, by many — I know not who they are, but they’re awfully loud — exactly the same way a more rational person would see a thief, or an arsonist, or a vandal. Some transgression has been committed, something profound that cuts to the quick, and it speaks poorly of the character of the person who committed it, who now owes something by way of recompense. All his fortune, a pound of flesh, prison time or something. For being boring.

Let me just state the obvious: This is not good decision-making in action. This is not how we want to pick the occupant of the most important job in the entire world. Charisma…well, I suppose it does have something to do with the job, no getting around that. But it isn’t all of the job. And I have the theory germinating in my head, because I’ve not seen much to contradict it, that the healthier we are as a nation, the less charisma is going to have to do with this job.

Nor do I believe a charismatic individual occupying this job, can pull us back from the brink of being unhealthy. Hey, if nothing else has been given a fair shot over the last three years, that idea certainly has, right?

Can’t aspire toward the successes if you won’t recognize the fails.

Bigger Sharks Because of Global Warming

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Came home just a bit early to catch my fiancé watching yet another episode of hot-wisecracking-thirty-somethings-poking-and-prodding-room-temperature-dead-forty-somethings-to-solve-crimes, trying and failing to wrap it up before my key hit the lock. That didn’t annoy me nearly as much as leaving it on the station when the six o’clock news came on. Remember the six o’clock news? They’re still doing it, even though nobody’s watching it…and the reason nobody’s watching it, became clear, when Diane Sawyer proceeded to tell us about the sharks evolving to adapt to climate change.

In the waters off the eastern coast of Australia, marine scientists report a first: 57 cases in which two species of shark are interbreeding. The local Australian black-tip shark is mating with its global counterpart, the common black-tip. They’re similar, but they are distinct species.

“It’s very surprising because no one’s ever seen shark hybrids before,” said Jess Morgan of the University of Queensland, the lead researcher, as quoted by AFP. “This is not a common occurrence by any stretch of the imagination.”

Why would this happen? Why would two shark species hybridize after apparently keeping to themselves before? Morgan, whose team published its findings in the journal Conservation Genetics, said she thinks a change in climate may be part of it.

“If it [the Australian black-tip species] hybridises with the common species it can effectively shift its range further south into cooler waters, so the effect of this hybridising is a range expansion,” Morgan said. “It’s enabled a species restricted to the tropics to move into temperate waters.”

Suffice it to say that Sawyer’s report emphasized this bit about climate a bit more, using the well-known catch-phrase “climate change.” That thing you’re making happen by using toilet paper, throwing out trash, not signing the Kyoto treaty, driving to work, etc. No, all that scolding was not included in her report. But you don’t have to wait long to hear some…

We're ScrewedSo the point is, if you assemble all the pieces into a big picture, a picture of what we’re being told when we show zero skepticism about anything and just believe everything we’re told, we aren’t unplugging our cell phones when they’re done charging so this human activity is causing a heavier saturation of carbon in the atmosphere and creating new species of sharks. Nobody’s saying that, but that’s what gives the story legs. You have a defined threat to humans…how grave a threat it is, the stories do not say, but it’s easily defined because you have sharks moving in to waters where they weren’t present before.

The Yahoo story is more explicit: Climate change in the first paragraph.

Scientists said on Tuesday that they had discovered the world’s first hybrid sharks in Australian waters, a potential sign the predators were adapting to cope with climate change.

The mating of the local Australian black-tip shark with its global counterpart, the common black-tip, was an unprecedented discovery with implications for the entire shark world, said lead researcher Jess Morgan.

“It’s very surprising because no one’s ever seen shark hybrids before, this is not a common occurrence by any stretch of the imagination,” Morgan, from the University of Queensland, told AFP.

“This is evolution in action.”

Now if you read these carefully, you see this is a story about the change in what humans have perceived. To say that the sharks are breeding in this way and they haven’t been doing so before, goes well beyond what the researcher is saying. The event has to do with humans making the observation; it is an event of discovery. But such an event isn’t really of any interest to anyone who doesn’t work in shark research, except maybe for someone planning to go sailing or surfing in the waters in question. So it’s been picking up these subtle little spins, until…

…well, it seems from the comments like there have been a few drafts of this story, giving different weights to the climate change angle. Someone at some point said “Hey waitaminnit, what are we saying here?” It’s very sexy and salable to say human activity is causing a change in the atmospheric climate patterns, and this is affecting how sharks are evolving. It’s like something straight out of one of those creature-feature movies on Netflix instant that I put on, to retaliate against my lady and her hot-wisecracking-thirty-somethings-poking-and-prodding-room-temperature-dead-forty-somethings-to-solve-crimes shows. Rich guy who runs big company, who you know is a bad guy because he wears nice suits all the time even late at night…does something boneheaded, like dump toxic sludge down a drainpipe, or implant a microchip in an alligator’s brain to make it more aggressive…a bunch of stuff happens…the bad guy in the nice suit gets eaten by the monster near the end. The big sharks are coming to get us, for using our hairdryers! It’s what we’re ready to hear, we’ve all been nicely programmed.

Only problem is: It’s pure nonsense.

Someone figured out it comes off that way, and revised some drafts. But not before someone else ran off with it and put it on the air.