Archive for April, 2011

It’s Not That Easy

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Megan McArdle explains the problems involved in trying to make up for the profligate spending of an out-of-control government by simply hiking taxes on the filthy, hated rich. Of course, anybody in California who’s actually been paying attention, will find it to be old news. But it still has to be said:

Without arguing about whether our tax system is fair or not, the fact is that the federal income tax is the most variable part of the code, and the federal income tax is now very progressive; it collects most of its revenue from people at the top. (Whether it should collect even more is an argument for another day.) Because it collects most of its income from people at the top, and because the incomes of the wealthy are more variable than the incomes of the poor and middle class (Warren Buffett’s income can drop by $300,000; mine can’t), we’re going to get deep troughs in recessions, and high peaks in boom times. We will get particularly high peaks when the booms are delivering huge chunks of income to a handful of people in a very short timeframe. According to the CBO, capital gains receipts alone, which more than doubled in Clinton’s second term, accounted for more than 30% of the increase in income tax receipts above the rate of GDP growth. Obviously the ancillary ordinary income, like banking fees, also contributed substantially. Between 1996 and 2000, payroll taxes increased a tidy 30%. But income taxes increased by 55%. In 1996, social insurance receipts were about $500 billion, while income tax receipts were $650 billion. By 2000, payroll tax receipts had grown to $656 billion–but the income tax was collecting over a trillion. Today they’re roughly at par again (though that won’t last–social insurance contributions will drop as the worker to population ratio declines.)

A progressive tax revenue system is necessarily “top-heavy”; and top-heavy things are inherently unstable. Note that this argument doesn’t even venture into the human-behavior aspect of this — when the financial consequences of a decision are changed, do people still decide that thing the same way? If that were true, there’d be no “economy” for us to argue about. And since it isn’t, the change in behavior that is to follow a “tax the rich” scheme is easy to predict: Less profit involved in capitalistic ventures, means fewer capitalistic ventures.

Hat tip: Instapundit.

“Lacking in Humor, Decency, or Even a Coherent Satirical Premise”

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

So a big ol’ back-n-forth has ensued regarding Wonkette’s tasteless Trig Palin post.

Readers of the Blog That Nobody Reads who possess a decent, functional, working long-term memory will immediately recognize we’re unapologetic, out-and-proud Palin fans. Readers who are new arrivals, or who possess no functional long-term memory at all, will still recognize this because of our sidebar pin-up artwork. Well, our finding that the Wonkette article in question was unfunny, has nothing to do with our fondness of the Barracuda. And it doesn’t have anything to do with the mocking of an innocent child, either. Or that the child is disabled. Actually, we live in a decidedly libertarian universe. We figure funny’s funny, unfunny’s unfunny, and nobody’s “rights” are gong to change one to the other or vice-versa.

Nope, we’re simple creatures here. We found the Wonkette column to be unfunny because…brace yourself for this…it simply isn’t funny.

Readers of the Blog That Nobody Reads who possess a decent functional long-term memory will recall something else, too. We don’t have a lot of regard for what has & has not been declared by the officials to be a real word…or…a real mental illness. We ignore the official registries of words and mental frailties, and make up our own entries in same, pretty much all the time. Well — this is a mental frailty, widespread of late, especially on the left-wing side. Humor. “I can see Russia from my house!” yuk yuk yuk. Our liberals very often find things to be humorous that simply aren’t humorous.

We think that’s a mental shortcoming. We think it’s an illness that ought to carry a genuine diagnosis. Jocularity…in response to…you said something nasty about this person I happen to dislike politically. That is a mental illness, we think.

We appreciate genuine humor as much as anybody else — even if it is made at the expense of kids. What’s pink and red and goes round and round at sixty miles an hour? Baby in a blender. We don’t laugh at that now because we heard it before. But the first time, back in Boy Scout camp, it caused quite the giggle-fit.

And we disagree with President Obama politically. But we’re not likely to laugh at jokes about Sasha and Malia. Unless said jokes are funny, is that too much to ask? But whatever the joke is, it probably isn’t going to be as funny as the baby in the blender.

I say, mental illness, because — well, there were a couple of James Bond movie villains in recent years who had their nerves crossed, such that instead of bodily pain and agony they felt sexual pleasure. It’s just like that. Liberals hear a fantasy about a political opponent, which as unlikely as it may be, would make them feel good about it if it were true. And somewhere in what passes for a brain, the signals get all crossed and this reaches the pleasure centers of the brain as a genuine guffaw! Like Todd Palin knocking up his own daughter. That isn’t funny, but some of these people figure since they hate anything Palin, this should cause peals of uncontrollable laughter. Somehow.

I just think it’s high time this was called out as the mental illness it really is. Little kids have a tough time reading and we lose no time proclaiming “The Brain Is Wired Wrong!!! Poor Bubbins Is Picking Up the Letters All Backwards!!!” Very little by way of real evidence needed to support this; it’s just a done deal. So it’s time we did the same for our liberals. Too many among them assume anything insulting, directed at the proper targets, must be hysterically funny. They seem to have concluded it’s impossible for any statement to be one without the other.

Oh yeah, it could be a simple ideological bias gone all wonky. But remember, this isn’t just a matter of concluding something might be funny. This is a matter of actually laughing at it. That’s a more primitive brain process. I mean, if I poked you right in the eye and you popped a boner because of it, that would be a low-level nervous system problem wouldn’t it? Well, this is gutteral laughter in response to banal insults tossed out at a mentally challenged child.

Time to get these people the mental health assistance they so desperately need. Make it so they can’t endanger themselves or others.

Update: I see how it is that quiet reader James C. Ritchie takes such great pictures. Got an eagle-eye. Very tactful and polite about it, too, when he sends off-line e-mails to to the smug bloggers who occasionally misspell obvious, fourth-grade words, like us. Oh well…nobody’s perfick. Thanks for keeping us sharp Mr. Ritchie.

“He Will Likely Lose in 2012”

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011


In this week’s polls: An Ipsos survey says 69% of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track, up five points since March. Zogby has only 38% of national respondents saying Mr. Obama deserves re-election, with 55% wanting someone new. Mr. Obama carried Pennsylvania in 2008 by double digits; a poll there this week shows only 42% approving of his leadership, with 52% disapproving. Gallup had the president’s support slipping among blacks and Hispanics, with the latter’s numbers dramatic: 73% supported him when he was inaugurated, 54% do now. Support among whites on Inauguration Day was 60%. Now it is 39%.

We’re all so used to reporting the general trend of these polls that we fail to see their significance: The more that people experience his leadership, the less they like his leadership. There’s no real reason to think upticks in this direction or that will seriously change this. Another way to say it is that there have been upticks that might have benefited the president, and so far they haven’t.

“Righteous Anger”

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

No further comment needed here, I think.

Hat tip to blogger friend Rick.

“It’s Time the Poor Started Paying Their Fair Share”

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

So sez Kate at Small Dead Animals…as she links to this.

It’s been this way for awhile, you know.

…[T]axpayers with the highest 400 AGIs (who made on average $345 million in 2007, the majority of which came from capital gains which are taxed at a maximum rate of 15%) were taxed at an average federal income tax rate of 16.62 percent, with effective tax rates within this group ranging from 0% to 35%.

These statistics signal a tax system that is not only progressive, but one that is convoluted and unfair.

I remember my liberal social studies teacher making the case for a progressive tax system. We had a conservative one and a liberal one, and they were fast friends with each other. This was some thirty years ago, you see. Different era. Anyway, the argument had something to do with a “waitress.” She needed every nickel to stay alive or something.

When I was in tenth grade, that did make some measure of sense to me. It still does. But there are prob-a-luhms you know…like…with all the social programs for which one becomes eligible when one earns only the bare minimum required to survive, can it truly be said that the bare minimum can be defined so starkly and so clearly? The necessities required for survival, after all, have much to do with what is offered to the eligible.

In fact, is anybody in America in danger of starving to death because their salaries & wages are too much on the skimpy side? Any kids with swollen bellies in American cities, desperately trying to catch rats & pigeons so their starving bodies can get some protein?

I shouldn’t be able to find any poor people with big teevee sets, right? Certainly, no poor people with teevee sets bigger than those owned by some of the “wealthy” taxpayers who subsidize them? Does my social studies teacher’s argument still hold water if the waitress’ kid wears $300 sneakers to school? What if the waitress has a $500 tattoo?

No, my point is not that everyone in the bottom 45% is able to afford such luxuries.

My point is that when some of them are…and that is undoubtedly the case…we are no longer talking about money required for survival. The necessities of survival have, in one way or another, been provided, thus freeing up the cash for these non-staple items. And I don’t necessarily have a problem with that either. Other than this: Don’t characterize it as a discussion about what’s needed to survive, when that is not what we’re really talking about.

Also, 45% is awfully close to 50%. If half of us are not paying any income tax at all, and the matter being referred to the electorate is “should we provide more alms,” then the “we” in that question has lost all practical meaning. If it’s a minority among the electorate doing the providing the question becomes more like one of “should we make those guys over there give us more stuff?”

And we’re way too close to that situation in 2011.

I Made a New Word XLVII

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Grappling Hook Head

One who begins with the end in mind, such that his vision of the end result is strong, steely and unshakable, like a metal hook sunk deep into a granite wall; while any the variables involved in getting there are outside of his concern. These people can be hazardous to the success of a project if they know barely enough about the details to monopolize the political power. The tendency is for them to envision the completion of some “favorite” minor task, as the end delivery product, so their “grappling hook” vision concerns the completion of some relatively minor task rather than the completion of the overall project itself. Their knowledge is deep but narrow.

The thinking of a grappling-hook-head, and the impracticality of it, can be summed up in a single statement: “In the course of running this touchdown, when I reach the twenty-yard line my right foot is going to be on this spot.”

In technological pursuits, the grappling-hook-head becomes quickly enamored of the use of a particular tool. A purebred bureaucrat is notorious for inculcating a “Not Invented Here” environment. The grappling-hook-head fosters an environment of “Nothing Invented Here Except This One Thing.”

In their exuberance about all the details involved in achieving one particular task, and from the frequent regurgitation of well-thought-out implementation considerations involved in that one task, the grappling-hook-head very often ends up taking over much more complex and involved projects that contain many elements unfamiliar to them. This is often not a result of their own instigation, but rather of the perception that the individual has achieved a “perfect blend” of political mastery and technological know-how. This is a disaster, because when the grappling-hook-head encounters something unfamiliar, his favorite response is to double down and re-immerse himself in the workings of his favorite tool, and how it will bring about the optimal results in his favorite miniscule task. The project then proceeds without any top-level design existing anywhere, on paper or in somebody’s head, nowhere at all — noodling out how things are going to get done stem to stern. Middle management has no incentive to put one together, and senior management doesn’t know enough to force them to.

The one situation for which a grappling-hook-head is least prepared, is the one in which the favorite-miniscule-task is successfully realized by some alternative means. Once the grappling-hook-head ensconces himself into a position of political or organizational power, a perfect storm ensues when such an alternative emerges, especially when new evidence arrives suggesting the favorite-tool brings the inferior results, and the alternative method brings better ones.

Rocket MistakeThe resources of the project are then spent on some heated duel between these two methods, only one of which may be implemented to achieve this relatively meaningless task. In this situation, there isn’t too much else that rises to the grappling-hook-head’s attention, and delegation of responsibility is very low. To the extent it exists at all, it is in a state of decline.

If the favorite tool is in fact discovered to bring inferior results, a great tragedy arises: the grappling-hook-head sets out trying to be an Ayn Rand hero, and metastasizes into the perfect Ayn Rand villain. He uses his “phantom” but superficial knowledge of technological workings, charisma, charm, force, “strong personality,” et al, to take over the project assuming he hasn’t taken it over already, and forces all things to be done his way. The results that arrive afterward are substandard, or maybe even disastrous. His solution to this is to insist, in an even more shrill tone, and with even more zeal than last time, that more things be done his way. (After all, there’s only one explanation to be considered about why the problem wasn’t solved by now; somebody must have done something wrong.) Thus, the crisis that developed from their last big screw-up, provides the urgency which is channeled into the impetus for their next incremental seizure of power. And so a vicious cycle develops.

I’m drawing on more personal observations than I can count as I write this up. So if you’re reading this, and you and I worked on something together, rest assured this isn’t about you. If you really think it is, I can guarantee it isn’t just about you. It’s about, oh…five, six, seven or so experiences I’ve had over the years, that I can think of right off the bat. I have to try pretty hard, myself, not to become like this. It’s part of being human. And I have to be humble; I like to think that by simply paying attention to this, I’m successful all the time, but of course life doesn’t work that way.

You really don’t need to wait too long to see this happen, because humans aren’t wired to receive that most unpalatable of thoughts: “My wonderful idea has been given a fair try here, and it just isn’t good.” Cutting our losses doesn’t come easy for us. We can learn how, but we just aren’t wired for it.

Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself… XXXII

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Ken Blackwell:

[W]e’ve become a culture where earning money doesn’t entitle you to it; but wanting it does…

Or, as Charles Payne put it:

* The harder I work the more I owe society.
* The less I work the more society owes me.

How did we get here? By the efforts of people who feel an intense terror down to the marrow of their bones at the slightest suggestion of the formula all thinking men and women know to be unalterably true:

Good Effort + Good Thinking = Wealth Where It Did Not Exist Before

Every significant enterprise we’ve seen from this government since January 20, 2009 has been an exercise in willful avoidance of this.

What motivates people to avoid it? Pain. Hard work to be expended tomorrow is easy; hard work to be expended today is a terrible prospect. Hard work that was avoided yesterday is a profound regret. Too many of us have pasts filled with three, four, five-hour blocks spent watching the idjit-box…knowing, deep down inside, that this expenditure of time, now lost forever, might have been spent creating wealth. They don’t need anyone to tell them. They know.

So they lash out at whoever didn’t do it that way. “Rich get richer, poor get poorer.” “Took advantage of a tax loophole.” “Not contributing their/his/her fair share.”

But aw gee…something about circumstances. Opportunities. Didn’t go to college, couldn’t graduate from high school, blah blah blah.

That’s my own tune, actually. I’m a high school grad myself, come from the wrong side of the tracks. It isn’t that my sympathy for this is low; it’s more like in a state of decline. And you know what? It damn well should be.

We’re not Oliver Twist. This isn’t London in the 1840’s. You can grab a nice laptop for $300, and software that will make it useful for something for another $100. Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia, anything else you want is just a mouse-click away, and free.

That’s not to say getting a job is easy in Obama’s America. It isn’t. But getting the skills? You just have to want to, and that’s as good-as-done. Oh yes, I agree you could call that something of a trite and ignorant statement in times past. But it’s certainly true now. Work and wait, work and wait, make some good decisions, and you’ve got a valuable and salable skill.

You doubt me? Resurrect some guy from 200 years ago who had to grow his own vegetables to stay alive; bounce the idea off him, after you’ve disclosed what exactly this “Internet” is. Then try whining at him about how tough you’ve got it.

“‘We Are Smart Independent Thinkers,’ They All Nodded in Unison”

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

This one statement is just a little bit more awesome than the rest of it:

The Greens are trying to frame this election as an epic battle between them as the cosmopolitan and enlightened forces of light versus those dumb and uneducated reactionaries who are trying to bitterly cling to an idealized past. I mean, that is pretty damn rich coming from the party whose every social, cultural and economic goal can essentially be summed up as return to the small tribal societies of the Pleistocene.

And I’m liking the title, too.

“Nominee of Least Resistance”

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

In a flash of brilliance, I just coined that term.

Somewhere in the archives, and I’m too lazy to try to figure out which archives I’m talking about let alone go digging through them, I came up with some other name for the theory that goes with this. Or maybe I just took note that the theory needed a name, since it doesn’t have one, and it’s important. The theory is that if you line up the potential nominees of the party not in power and sequence them according to their approval ratings in the polls, you are looking at the sequence of their likelihood for beating the incumbent. In this case, Barack Obama. If the polls say the sequence is Romney, Huckabee, Trump, Palin, Paul then the likelihood of sending Obama packing is Romney, Huckabee, Trump, Palin and Paul.

I think the theory needs a name because, just to be clear, I think it deserves a beatdown it’s only going to get if it has a name. I don’t believe in this theory and I think the wrong people believing in it at the wrong time has done our nation incalculable damage.

The most successful conservative Presidents — there haven’t been many — were not nominees of least resistance. They were, overall, nominees of greatest resistance, in other words, whose nomination was prologue and/or epilogue to a contentious fight. Actually, I think that might be true of both parties. If you’re a liberal democrat, and your loyalty is to the liberal agenda rather than to your country, you’d have to look at Barack Obama as quite a decent President. He’s getting a lot of things done for the party, isn’t He? And His nomination, lest it be forgotten, came at the conclusion of a bruiser of a fight. If our media were more inclined to discuss things unflattering to the liberal establishment, it might even have been an embarrassment.

The conservative movement, on the other hand, has no need for a nominee of least resistance. In fact, its need for rejecting such candidates has never been greater.

Update: Another thought. This is much bigger than politics, by which I mean bigger than Republican/democrat electoral politics. It pertains to business as well; anything with an organization.

To actually nominate a nominee-of-least-resistance, is to say nothing. That is the primary asset and that is the primary liability. There are some situations and issues, to be clear, where this might be a smart way to go. Sometimes you want to obfuscate. I might buy that this is always sneaky and a bit underhanded, but I can’t buy that it’s always dumb.

The Presidential election of 2012 is not one of these situations. The message that resonates once the nominee is nominated, needs to be crystal clear, reverberating, penetrating, even shattering.

We tried it the other way two and a half years ago. Can’t afford anymore of this.

Update: In any medium in which every position conceivable is guaranteed to meet with its opposite somewhere, clarity guarantees a fight, and lack of clarity provides strong assurance of avoiding a fight. I think most people get this — to such an extent that clear people, just by being clear, are seen as spoiling for a fight even if all they’re trying to do is be clear.

And unclear people are seen as trying to avoid a fight…which is very often the case. But then, this opacity is seen as synonymous with maturity. Big, big mistake; huge mistake. Because now you’re providing an incentive for people to be unclear, and the surest career path for people who are practiced at being unclear. Now, who’s that going to be? You think that’ll be someone you’d like watching your house while you go on vacation?

This whole situation is so well defined, you can express it as a mathematical equation.

Anticipated Resistance + Obfuscation = k

Redistributing GPAs

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

Yup. I’m reasonably sure the twits who argue with me on the innernets are college kids. I do hesitate somewhat since these munchkins are polite, and not in a fake sell-you-something way, but in what looks like a healthy, wholesome way. Then again — there is a camera rolling.

I’m just watching in a state of awe over the vast magnitudes of energy being churned into this exercise of not-going-there. And you know what “there” I’m talking about: Redistributing a GPA is different from redistributing money, because I have a GPA worth redistributing but I do not have money worth redistributing — they’re different because you’re talking about me in one of those and you’re not talking about me in the other one of those.

This is the trouble with problem-solving with feelings. It isn’t a problem with bad arguments being accepted, quite so much as with decent propositions being rejected. In just the last few years, I’ve seen a noticeable uptick on this while arguing with dweebs on the innertubez. Which is certainly not scientific, but still. It bothers me seeing the acceleration of this: I reject such-and-such…but…I have nothing to offer about why it should be rejected. If someone hits me with it again, I’ll be in “got nuthin'” mode, but this doesn’t bother me in the slightest, I’ll not lose a wink of sleep over it tonight.

This is not good. This is a very bad thing. If the opportunity is presented to fight it, we should.

I’m old enough to remember when it was not that way. When, if someone hit you with an equivalency argument you didn’t like, and you couldn’t handle it, you’d be at least disturbed about it and you’d walk away mumbling to yourself, trying to figure out if there was a meaningful difference you’d overlooked. Or, if maybe you just got schooled because you needed to be, and had to re-think something.

It’s like our young currently-in-college set, the leaders of tomorrow, have discovered that weird super-power. You know, where you make unappealing thoughts and facts vanish instantly simply by laughing at them. Have to give props to blogger friend Phil if that’s the case — he’s on to something there.

Thing I Know #183. When an education has given you the ability to dismiss ideas more quickly, it’s not really an education.

Hat tip to Kaye Dowdell Taylor.

On Atlas Shrugged, The Movie

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

I was right. Anybody who watches the movie first without reading the book is making a dreadful, dreadful mistake. At least catch the Cliff’s Notes fer cryin’ out loud.

As far as the people who read it, it seems everyone gets a different experience out of it. Whatever made an impression on you, and wasn’t quite captured to perfection in the screenplay, might sour you a bit. But that is an unalterable circumstance. Once you cut some slack for this, and I think this is only just reasonable, you must conclude this was a very, very decent cut. Could have been a lot worse.

Atlas Shrugged Part IThere is no Dan Conway. From what I remember in the book, he was present only for a single scene. There are other characters who are much more important than Conway, and some of those are missing as well. But I think some of the story flow was left out. And the final cut clocks in at barely a hundred minutes, so I don’t understand why. Some of the scenes feel a bit rushed. But this comes under the heading of “how could it have been made a tiny bit better?” and not “how come the movie sucks so badly?” This doesn’t suck, not by a damn sight; it’s quite good.

Just left wondering what it would’ve looked if Francis Ford Coppola directed it, is all. Or Peter Jackson. Two characters meet for dinner — they will exchange some lines that will become critical to some plot point later — well, they jump right into the lines then the scene ends. Uh, why? The audience is never left guessing at what will become important. But they’re left guessing what it means, if they don’t already know. For this reason, I expect some exasperated reviews from people who didn’t read the book. And the people who did read the book, are treated to an abbreviated reading with some acting, nothing more. I don’t see the need for the rushing around. Makes it feel a little bit like a finger puppet show.

At the end, a whole fistful of legislation is announced by Wesley Mouch speaking at a podium. Okay…but again, the story flow was bleached out a little. Why did any of this seem like a good idea? The book covers this extraordinarily well. James Taggart, as the leader of the Looters, personifies not only the non-producers who grab at the levers of power and ruin the free market for their unscrupulous ends, but the twits and the dupes who fall for the speeches, as well. He makes the speeches and you can see him believing his own nonsense. There are real people walking around just like this. The book version of Taggart captured that. In the movie, he’s reduced to being a spoiled ineffectual grown-up whelp ruining daddy’s railroad company — which he is, but when he doesn’t bring any more than that it cheats the final product out of something.

I don’t have a problem with Eddie Willers being black. But I do have a problem with him being weary. In the book, he was a stammering nervous-Nellie type, much like a typical Ayn Rand villain, but with the integrity, values and capacity to learn how to run a large business. His purpose there was to act as a foil against Dagny so the message could get out that if you keep your cool and think the possibilities through logically, you can see some that don’t appear to be there at first. Eddie would panic, Dagny would tell him to quit panicking and she’d come up with a (temporary) solution. This guy just brings Dagny the latest news, sighs and rolls his eyeballs so we understand this is just more-of-the-same — heavy-handed regulation from the betters in Washington, Dilbert-pointy-haired-boss-management from James Taggart. Well, that much should be evident.

I would have kept the names of the three parts. They were named after Aristotle’s rules of thought. This one was just the first of the three, “Non-Contradiction” and I don’t know why it wasn’t called that.

LibrarianMy gal noticed Dagny seems to be wearing the same clothes all the time, and had a problem with that. My problem was with Dagny wearing clothes. Looks like another “pretty blonde blue-eyed gal who would look completely awesome naked, solves a mystery while wearing all her clothes” thing. But that’s quite alright, that’s what the book’s about. Oh, and someone get Dagny a samrich. Why’s she a blonde? Where are her glasses? After 1,050 pages I read all those years ago, I can’t recall what exactly the book said about her appearance…my mind’s-eye got all busy with it and churned out something resembling the graphic you see to the right, of a typical librarian icon image, light on the implied fetishism. Someone seventeen years out of touch with her sexuality, all business, gliding through the marble and mahogany hallways of power with real executive confidence at a prim and proper 5′ 2″ but you just know you don’t want to get on her bad side. She’ll chew you up and spit you out if you tick her off; get her in the bedroom she’ll tear you up some different way. Both of these tempests are kept under lock and key under a covering that is mostly opaque. Mostly, but not all.

So Taylor Schilling didn’t deliver on this image exactly but she brought her A game to the acting. You know, that’s good enough. The skinny blonde chick is quite talented, and she delivered. My complaints about her, to the extent they could be called “complaints,” are insignificant and deal almost completely with the packaging & not the substance. The gal needed to bring more plumpness in the breast & thigh department — if she was a bucket of chicken rather than an actress bringing a role to life that’s been languishing 54 years waiting for the favor, maybe it would affect my final word. Oh well. Maybe more re-enactments will follow, and the next Dagny will bring some curvature to the character.

The above offers the only complaints I have — all Drama 101, movie-making stuff, and some taste disparities about costumes & casting. As far as getting the damn thing on the big screen, which has involved wait of a half a century, the project is a success. Directing was good, scenery was good, writing was mostly good. I’m looking forward to Part II. And the final scene deserves some extra props; it was everything I wanted it to be, and then some.

I’m hoping they’re taking a “whet the appetite” approach. First part 1:40, second part 2:00, third part 2:20…something like that. How long does it take to read all of the climactic speech in Part III? Three hours (see answer 5.1). So yes, there is going to be some trimming going on all the way through…but you knew that already.

Cross-posted at Washington Rebel and Right Wing News.

Just How Bad Is It?

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

Philip Greenspun has an explanation:

If we divide everything by 100 million, the numbers begin to make more sense.

We have a family that is spending $38,200 per year. The family’s income is $21,700 per year. The family adds $16,500 in credit card debt every year in order to pay its bills. After a long and difficult debate among family members, keeping in mind that it was not going to be possible to borrow $16,500 every year forever, the parents and children agreed that a $380/year premium cable subscription could be terminated. So now the family will have to borrow only $16,120 per year.

Hat tip to blogger friend Rick.

But it’s so much better now, isn’t it, now that our First Holy President just gave us His latest “best speech evar!” and injected us with all kinds of feel good hope and change and junk…plus bashed the Republicans, which as any fool knows is the key to all problem-solving and happiness.

Well, I didn’t watch the speech. But if there was something substantial in it, I think I’d have heard of it by now. Nobody seems to have a kind word to say about it anywhere except Paul Krugman, who must know something since he won a Nobel Prize in economics. But Krugman’s treatise on the good things about the speech, amount to matters of taste and nothing more. “I like this, I like that, I can live with this other thing.” And this is the only sentient living being I can find who seems to have liked it. I can summarize it in one sentence: “Cut military spending increase everything else, me likey that it happies me.” Yeah, the Nobel Laureate makes about as much sense as your average LOLcat.

Well, Lee Doren also watched the speech. And unlike your average Nobel Prize recipient, Doren actually makes sense.

Remember: We had to borrow $16.5k. Now, with the $38.5 billion “savings,” assuming you take every nickel seriously in that, we need to borrow $16,120.

And President It’s-All-About-Me fought kicking and screaming against that. Birther Zero wanted to keep the premium cable subscription.

This needs to be made a centerpiece of the 2012 election: The democrat party has enjoyed an opportunity for — by then — six years, to show us what they’re all about, and the rest of us have enjoyed an opportunity to observe and learn. For four years, we have seen what they have in mind when they sell us a leader for the very highest executive office in our nation’s government.

The part about how they can’t do math, is a pretty good reason not to leave them in charge of anything ever again.

But when we see what they have in mind for a “leader” — watch Doren’s video all the way through — it shows how urgent the need is to get them booted out. See, Barack Obama has no leadership skills because He was not selected for any leadership skills. Go on, point to a single situation where you can say “this is much better because Barack Obama decided X and not Y.” Something besides getting Obama, or an Obama crony, elected or appointed to something. Name just one. There isn’t anything.

Obama is a political weapon. He gets up, He makes a “best speech evar!”, and when He sits down again He and His friends have more power than they had a few minutes earlier, and His enemies have less. That is His occupation; His primary skill set; His only skill set. It is what He does, His life calling. “Community organizer,” remember?

He needs to go, because this has nothing to do with actually solving a problem.

And His political party needs to go, because in their mind, these two things are synonymous — crush our enemies and all the details will work themselves out.

“Inappropriate and Denigrating”

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

David Burge, whom you may know as Iowahawk, had something interesting to post at the Hello Kitty of Blogging which you may know as Facebook.

Those who may have been distracted by tax day & all the associated festivities, may have lost track of the other meaningful bits of this particular time of year. It’s mid-spring now, which means people who recoil in horror, for some reason, at the sight of a nice-looking girl in a swimsuit, have now had about six months of bliss. They haven’t had to experience the agony of seeing that anywhere, for all this time, and they’ve now gotten it in their heads that not seeing nice looking girls in bikinis is some kind of a “universal human right” or something. This has become a seasonal thing over the past few years, I see. Some nice looking girl has a picture taken of herself in a bikini right about this time, and finds herself in a mess of trouble over it which nobody — and I do mean nobody, and that includes the troublemakers — can coherently explain.

Inappropriate and DenigratingThe University of Waterloo in Canada has suspended a team of students who built a racecar after a female member was photographed posing next to the car in a bikini and high heels.

University spokesman Michael Strickland said the temporary suspension is in response to an “inappropriate and denigrating” photograph that appeared online, as well as in Tuesday’s edition of the Waterloo Region Record.

“The decision also considered the guidelines in place to ensure the safety of students,” Strickland wrote in an email to “The university’s engineering design centre, where the photo was taken, has rules covering the type of equipment that can be brought in as well as the manner in which it can be used.”

Mmmm, hmmm, “safety.” Yeah. Lady in a swimsuit might get someone hurt. Can’t have that!

I hit the “like” button next to Joe Clark‘s comment:

Bet if it was a male student, and they took the car into the local gay pride parade and did obscene things with it, the university would hail the display as a shining example of the university’s values.

Further evidence there is a schism taking place between two kinds of people who simply can’t live together, and that a really tall fence needs to be built or else someone — one side or the other — has to get banished to an island.

I’m rapidly approaching the point where if the island option is chosen, I don’t care that much which side is subject to the banishing. I’ll miss Trader Joe’s, but let’s face it, even within three miles of the closest one I don’t go there that often. Of course I don’t go to Hooters that often either. Both of them cost like crazy.

But when the gender-benders and the goths and the hippies and the gay-pride-paraders start scraping the bottom of the barrel like this, it just becomes obvious they’re in sterilization mode. They’re running out of things to get rid of. “Pussying ourselves, pussying ourselves, pussying ourselves some more…let’s see…what else…I know! Girls in bikinis! Straight men with hairy chests just might like that, we better get rid of it. It’s for ‘safety’!”

Just build the damn fence and be done with it. Yeah, I find chaw tobacco as disgusting as anybody else, but I can live with people who chew it. I can’t live so easily around people who have problems with pretty ladies. Especially if they are so used to saying nonsensical things that they start to wax lyrically about the safety hazards involved with bathing suits…that’s pretty far afield of the reality I know & understand.

Cross-posted at Washington Rebel and Right Wing News.

Best Sentence CXI

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Re-discovered blogger friend Terri takes the one hundred and eleventh Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL) award. On the subject of “civil disobedience on a paper plate” (you have to skim through this New York Times article about San Francisco “food raves” to see what’s going on), she observes:

Ahh the odd belief system of the left. “We can tax as needed to afford our progressive state and then revenue will just magically rise. But when there seems to be a correlation between high taxes and free enterprise (the good kind) we’ll work around it because we’re revolutionaries! Viva Che!!”

Okay, that’s more than one sentence. It isn’t the first waiver we’ve granted and it won’t be the last.

This points up a unique trait of our modern left, one that in a sane universe would bar them from having any influence on anything, anywhere. They aren’t “left” at all; they aren’t anything. People who live on the left-to-right spectrum, anywhere, have to follow their own rules. These advocates we call “The Left” exist, not on a classic French Napoleonic/royalty spectrum of left-to-right, but on that other spectrum, authoritarianism to “libertarianism to point of anarchy.” And they occupy the two extreme ends.

Straddling this impossible divide offers them an ideological nimbleness denied to other movements, and which anyone on the outside of the leftist movement, over the longer term, cannot afford. They say, “we need a rule…” and then they say it again and again and again. Once met with the natural consequences of living in such a rigid, overly-regulated “perfect” society of their own making, they simply sidestep it all. Like Terri said above: “Because we’re revolutionaries!”

Cross-posted at Washington Rebel and Right Wing News.

Mary Katharine Ham’s Special Day with the IRS

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Daily Caller, by way of Instapundit.

Le French Troll Dad

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Yup, I resemble that parenting style.

Credit to one of my friends over on the Hello Kitty of blogging.

Foxtrotting with Two Left Feet

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Jay Cost is engaged in the usual criticism but with a unique twist: President Obama is out of His element in His new job, because He is the product of our nomination process for that job. Therefore, His inadequacy is a much bigger problem for us that is not limited to just Him. Cost makes an interesting case.

Unfortunately, since George McGovern ruined the presidential nominating system in 1971, there has been a new potential item for the presidential CV: navigating the byzantine process of primaries and caucuses better than any competitor.
Unfortunately, gaming the nomination process plus having no significant experience in government turns out to be a grossly insufficient combination for presidential leadership. Day by day, week by week, we are becoming more aware that, when it comes to the political dance in Washington, [President Barack] Obama is foxtrotting with two left feet.
[a bunch of examples]
When you get right down to it, Obama hit his high point at Iowa’s Jefferson Jackson Dinner in November, 2007. It’s been downhill ever since – with one verbal gaffe or policy misstep after another.

Of course, the media overlooking all this stuff does not make the problem go away. And the proof is in the pudding: the right can’t stand him, the middle has abandoned him, and now even the left is criticizing him out in the open.

Let’s face it: this president is just plain bad at politics.

To me, the power of such an argument comes not so much from the examples, but from what one can reliably anticipate in terms of rebuttal. We need not speculate idly about this; the rebuttal would have to concern itself with the history Obama made. The hope, the change, the smiles and the tears of election night ’08, the enthusiasm at the inauguration…all that great stuff. Surely, whoever brought that kind of excitement must have the talent to back it up somewhere. Surely this must be someone who is unique in some way, right?

Something like that.

Trouble is, we’re all unique. Here lies the hazard of avoiding details; one tends to trap oneself in a fantasy world, in which anything said anywhere about anything, must necessarily be missing the details. It’s just like seeing yourself on HDTV without the proper makeup — once someone adds the details back in, the picture that results is not so flattering.

What’s the trouble with our nominating process? It isn’t the integrity. That part of it worked just fine. The champion deserved to be the champion; Barack Obama is the best of the best of the best. At what, though — there is the problem.

I, among others, tried to point out that this was not a successful producer of positive results who was being built up by our strange, surreal, emotion-driven nomination and electoral process. For this, myself and others were called rigid, inflexible, conservative Republicans, and then tea party bigots, and then just plain bigots. Nothing like a good session of name-calling to sweep aside whatever points and counterpoints happen to be unpalatable in the moment, huh. But the substance of an argument is not so easily swept aside. It manifested then, and manifests now, a problem that is with us and growing. And that problem is this: We have yet to have installed an executive to deal with the nation’s many problems. The number of people who want to believe we have, is irrelevant. The passion with which they believe this, is also irrelevant.

It seems every other month or so, I hear from somewhere “Obama really hit one out of the park!” But with the passage of a little more time, the ugly truth emerges: It was just a speech. Some of the people who agree with Obama really liked it, because it made them feel better than their enemies, whom Obama successfully smeared, or marginalized. But if the speech contained any policy points, they were not policy points assured of making the situation any better. And that’s assuming there would be action taking place consistent with the speech — another question altogether.

Obama is not as big as the issues He was elected to confront. And that is not even because the issues are big, or because He is small. The issue of fiscal discipline is actually pretty mundane. But it takes an effective executive to truly conquer it.

And Obama is just…Obama. Not big, not small, just average. A mediocre politician selected by a process built to seek out and reward mediocrity. He sounds kind of sophisticated when He says the word “uh,” and that’s about all He has going for Him. Or for the rest of us.

Update: Until I actually watch the President’s much-talked-about speech from yesterday, front to back, consider this to be my comment upon it. I’m confining my commentary to things that I know, and as safe as I may find it to be to presume things about that speech, I don’t know it so I shall remain mostly silent on it.

But I do have to say, given the track record I’ve been watching unfold, and the other commentary I’m hearing about it, things like this do not surprise me.

…Obama offered little of substance other than rhetorical bombs aimed at Paul Ryan, accusing him of trying to kill an entire generation of retirees while offering nothing specific to oppose it…

Uh huh. Fits right in with the theme. The President is a superior fit for the nomination process but the nomination process is wholly inadequate for the job at hand, and therefore, so is He. Unless the job at hand is to belittle the other side. Some of our liberals, and let’s be fair some of the conservatives as well, seem to think that is exactly the case. A little ridicule, some mocking, diminish the other side and the job is done. Everything else will work out.

They’re wrong. And because they’re wrong, Obama is just a bad fit for the job. Not up to it.

More Spending, Higher Taxes!

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

I was just noticing this myself:

In light of the recent budget debate and the unveiling of Obama’s long-term deficit plan .. the liberal wealth envy crowd has come out in full force to make sure that their ideas be heard. What are their ideas? Well there is really only one idea and that is: Increase taxes. Why? For the purposes of redistributing the wealth.

A narrative has emerged on the left side that President Wonderful must not have the chops for negotiating because the Republicans took Him to the cleaners. This in the wake of the much-publicized eleventh-hour “keep the government running” agreement last week to “slash” $38.5 billion. Saturday Night Live had a monologue parody in which Obama talks up what a wonderful negotiation process it was since everyone went away from it unhappy. There’s a lot of truth in that. A lot of Republicans are unhappy because the target amount was 100 billion, and of course 38.5 is not 100. Well, the democrats are unhappy too.

Here’s my question: Why, exactly? I mean, you take out all the “don’t cut my pet project” people, and out of the ones that are left — there are still quite a few, from what I see — there remains unhappiness. That’s where I am curious. What’s the problem?

And no, don’t go digging into the budget line items trying to find a problem. You’re already pissed that any cutting took place at all. I would like to know what the beef is.

Because spending simply cannot stay where it is…it is out of the question for it to go up…sure anything is possible over the short term, but my point is the situation is unsustainable. If we have people involved in this process who are always going to be pissed when there’s any cutting at all, nevermind where it is, then this whole “negotiation” ritual is a rather empty one isn’t it? That is, unless a real leader emerges who has the stones to tell one side — preferably, the spend-more crowd — “nope, not gonna work that way, and if you wanna get mad then you just go ahead and get as mad as you want.”

And I think these “don’t cut anything,” advocates of generally higher spending, are out there. I think they have overlap with the inner circle of key players. I think an important part of liberalism right now, is to say “Yes. More spending. Higher taxes. We want taxes to go up, and spending to go up — and we don’t care what the spending is — until such a time as it is utterly futile to try to provide for your own interests through your own efforts in this country.” In fact, I expect to come under the quite righteous and accurate critique that this is just pointing out the obvious…

Well, if that’s your position you’ve a right to it. You even have the right to try to seek some influence — and, unfortunately, to achieve that influence if you can.

But I think if such a movement exists, it should be fully exposed. Seeing as how its continued existence is fundamentally incompatible with the country’s.

Too much to ask maybe?

There Is No Wage Gap

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Carrie Lukas writes in the Wall Street Journal:

Tuesday is Equal Pay Day—so dubbed by the National Committee for Pay Equity, which represents feminist groups including the National Organization for Women, Feminist Majority, the National Council of Women’s Organizations and others. The day falls on April 12 because, according to feminist logic, women have to work that far into a calendar year before they earn what men already earned the year before.

In years past, feminist leaders marked the occasion by rallying outside the U.S. Capitol to decry the pernicious wage gap and call for government action to address systematic discrimination against women. This year will be relatively quiet. Perhaps feminists feel awkward protesting a liberal-dominated government—or perhaps they know that the recent economic downturn has exposed as ridiculous their claims that our economy is ruled by a sexist patriarchy.

The unemployment rate is consistently higher among men than among women. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 9.3% of men over the age of 16 are currently out of work. The figure for women is 8.3%. Unemployment fell for both sexes over the past year, but labor force participation (the percentage of working age people employed) also dropped. The participation rate fell more among men (to 70.4% today from 71.4% in March 2010) than women (to 58.3% from 58.8%). That means much of the improvement in unemployment numbers comes from discouraged workers—particularly male ones—giving up their job searches entirely.
Choice of occupation also plays an important role in earnings. While feminists suggest that women are coerced into lower-paying job sectors, most women know that something else is often at work. Women gravitate toward jobs with fewer risks, more comfortable conditions, regular hours, more personal fulfillment and greater flexibility. Simply put, many women—not all, but enough to have a big impact on the statistics—are willing to trade higher pay for other desirable job characteristics.

Men, by contrast, often take on jobs that involve physical labor, outdoor work, overnight shifts and dangerous conditions (which is also why men suffer the overwhelming majority of injuries and deaths at the workplace). They put up with these unpleasant factors so that they can earn more.

These are generalizations, and of course generalizations are always problematic. You don’t have to check them against reality for too long before you run into the inevitable exception. And, of course, one decent exception reduces the generalization into a rough-thumbnail law-of-averages, nothing more.

But there’s the thing. Rough-thumbnail is plenty good enough, because law-of-averages is what it’s all about. That was, after all, the original complaint: Average woman earning such-and-such a percentage of the average man.

Nice scam while it lasted.

“A Distinct Pattern…”

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Spearhead, via Captain Capitalism, via Small Dead Animals.

“Add Women”

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

I had made a passing reference somewhere to “The Three Things Morgan Hasn’t Got the Balls to Blog” and someone was wondering what those three things were. Well…this article does borrow some things from Thing #3.

The researchers placed nearly 700 people into groups of between two and five, then gave them problems to solve, such as visual puzzles, games, negotiations, and logical analysis. Here’s what they found:

Individual smarts doesn’t affect performance. The average intelligence of team members wasn’t related to team performance. So if you’ve got a team that’s struggling, putting a couple of really smart people on it isn’t going to help.

EQ–emotional intelligence– is more important than IQ. Good communication and good coordination make teams function well. To get that, you need people who are good at reading and responding to other peoples’ emotions. Teams that included even one person with superior skills in this regard had better performance.

A ’strong’ personality hurts performance. Groups where one person dominated the conversation or the decision-making, or where people didn’t do as well taking turns, had worse performance. This correlates well with other research that shows ’stronger’ leaders are often less effective than those who perceive themselves to be less powerful.
The researchers found one fairly simple answer: Add women. [that last emphasis mine]

Yes, that has been my experience. There really aren’t too many things on Creation less productive than a group of men.

But of course, that isn’t the least little bit politically-incorrect for me to be pointing it out. Why then would I not have the balls to blog it? Because this is part of a graph. Picture the X axis as being gender saturation; on the left, 0.0, the group is all females and on the right, 1.0, it’s all males. The Y axis is productivity and it enters a steep nosedive on the right side, approaching 1.0. In fact, on the square to its immediate left, 0.95, where you have a large group of one men with a single reasonably-intelligent reasonably-assertive woman at its nexus, productivity is at its zenith. Pull the female out, round up to 1.0, and with the men no longer having to prove anything or maintain some modicum of civility, it’s crash-and-burn time.

Why would I be afraid to blog that? Because of the stuff that goes on to the left of the 0.95; and that’s all I’m sayin’ about that.

People just aren’t very productive when they’re in their comfort zones. They’re not very smart in that state, either. That goes for both sexes.

The article starts to get new-age touchy-feelie toward the end, and dissolves into a puddle of Age of Aquarius silliness:

…Heidi Grant Halvorson suggests a number of ways any team can become more socially aware, and therefore, higher performing:

Create opportunities for team members to express their feelings, and for others to respond to them. Encourage face-time whenever possible. Cultivating a work environment where team members experiences are acknowledged and understood will create teams that are smarter, happier, and far more successful.

I don’t know how the ‘express your feelings’ bit would have gone over at some of the places I’ve worked–although if “creating opportunities to express feelings’ means just putting an end to some of the macho teasing I’ve seen, I’m all for it. But as the researchers found, you don’t have to break out the hankies to get reap the benefits of social sensitivity. Just try taking turns.

I recall one place I worked in particular became enamored of the “strong personality.” I didn’t fare too well under this management style; I must have one of the weaker ones. But I got the distinct impression everyone else in the room was as frustrated as I was with missing out on an hour or two out of the day, toward no higher purpose than to round out an audience of “Oh let us all admire what a strong personality [Mr. X] has.”

I really despise watching people show off like that — dictating what product should be bought, what feature is important, what button should be pushed what and lever should be pulled. Drives me right up a tree. Fills me with an acute sense of dread. I mean — here, I’ll just abandon all the suspense & come out & say what everyone with a brain is thinking already — if they really knew that much about it, wouldn’t they be in a back room somewhere, completely out of sight, earshot or mind of anyone, busying themselves with pushing the damn button or pulling the damn lever?

“The Economy”

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Had some thoughts continuing from the post previous. That’s okay, isn’t it? “The same subject, continued” appears I-don’t-know-how-many times in the titles of the Federalist Papers; that “Publius” dude had no problem continuing his thoughts from earlier. So it must not be a sign of arrogance, or if it is, that Publius guy must not have been too terribly humble. Anyway. I have some thoughts on the same subject, continued.

I’ve been wondering for awhile about the different definitions conservatives & liberals seem to have in mind when they speak of “The Economy.” In fact, I wonder about this pretty much every time I read a Paul Krugman column. I’ve tried to resolve it by looking it up in various dictionaries, and I’ve come to learn this intangible noun is so utterly lacking definitions-wise we may as well not have the word at all. Now conservatives tend to be supply-siders, meaning they believe in “trickle-down.” Liberals laugh at this…which seems to be the liberal solution to every single credible idea that poses a serious danger to liberal worldview.

But if you take supply-side-trickle-down seriously for a minute or two, you see it shores up the conservative view of “The Economy” rather neatly. When the economy is robust, the wealthy — those with investment capital to spare — can see entrepreneurial opportunities. A robust economy does not entail zero risk. But a relatively healthy economy would involve relatively diminished risk in the entrepreneurial endeavors, or at least, manageable risk. In this way, the wealth is spread around, since in order to realize the endeavor, the entrepreneur needs to add staff, or acquire goods & services. We then have movement in our “economy.” The economy itself, therefore, could be thought of as the actual movement. According to the conservative worldview.

The liberal worldview is simpler, and yet I have a tougher time figuring it out. I don’t need to observe too much to figure out what arouses liberal concern when “the economy” has beached itself like a sick whale: Poor people have it tough. Their beloved social programs are running out of cash, the class sizes in the public schools are swelling, the buses are stopping every twenty minutes instead of every ten, and as we just saw we have our “looming government shutdowns.” Of course, some of these “poor” people have bigger teevee sets than some of the not-poor-people…and have generally more comfortable lifestyles…in some cases, even higher incomes! You have to be very careful when you use the word, or perceive the word, “poor” around liberals. For that reason, liberals often like to use the term “working families” to describe these people. But that breaks more linguistic things than it fixes, for very often “working families” do not consist of families at all, and much of the time nobody in these “families” is even working.

So it’s best to think of “poor people” and “working families” as liberal special-interest groups, and beneficiaries of those groups. People our liberals happen to like; people that liberals don’t think should be sharing in any pain, for any reason.

Therefore, to the best I can make out, to a liberal the word “economy” refers to the absence of discomfort or concern among these not-poor not-working not-family beneficiaries of liberal social movements. The standard of living enjoyed, or not enjoyed, by these elites determines how well “our economy” is doing. And — this next part is key — to hell with everybody else. That does pretty much frame it properly, does it not? Find any one of these people the liberals consider to be non-persons…the “bitter clingers” out there, who actually stand a chance of one day being profiled on Mike Rowe’s Dirty Jobs show. Describe some of the problems these folks might be having, to one of our modern-day liberals, and you’ll get nothing back in return save for a derisive sneer, a dismissive chuckle, and maybe a suggestion that the dumb schmuck should trade in his car. That goes double if the schmuck does something failing to meet with progressive approval. If, for example, said car sports a “McCain/Palin ’08” sticker. Or if the schmuck smokes tobacco, home-schools his kids, et cetera.

Now, here’s the problem. If the liberal definition of a “robust economy” or a “vibrant economy” is zero discomfort or worry among the not-poor not-working not-family people that our liberals call “poor working families,” how then do we know, according to the liberal worldview, that our economy is doing well? I presume we should be sending some of our ace reporters — you know, from those old-fashioned twentieth-century real-paper “newspapers” — out to gather some tearjerker sob stories to put on Page B1 of the local edition, otherwise known as the “whine about some lauded social program running out of money” page. And then, they would fail to find such a person because all the not-poor not-working not-family poor-working-family people are doing alright.

Problem One: That isn’t going to happen.

Problem Two: If ever it did happen, the old-fashioned twentieth-century birdcage-liner newspaper would run out of things to put on Page B1. Which means the newspaper would lose the commodity it has been selling. Which means circulation would start to take a tumble. And, since that is exactly what has already been happening…we need not speculate recklessly to figure out what happens next. The tumbling circulation becomes its own sob story. So the economy remains threadbare, slipshod, catawampus and gunnybags.

It’s kind of like a case of boy-who-cried-wolf. You can’t sound an alarm that something is in bad shape, if you aren’t capable of ever acknowledging it’s in good shape — no matter what.

Suppose I wanted to just get past that problem, but still perceive of “the economy” the way our liberals do, as a measure of standard-of-living among our “poor” people. In other words, take a look at whether they’re doing alright or not, and evaluate it in such a way that I’m able to acknowledge a good, fair or poor measurement of how well it’s doing. Well, that’s quite a contortion. But if I persist in it, guess what? Our “economy” is doing okay and has been for a very long time.

Among the ranks of our “poor” people, are people living in homes. Poor people wearing shoes that cost much more than my Nike Air Monarch III’s. Poor people who have very large teevees, and some games to hook up to those teevees. Not the old-fashioned ugly gray Xbox I have, that has all my software-engineer co-workers snickering at me when they see it. But the 360 models.

The five-word House of Eratosthenes Salute to the United States of America seems apropos here: Our poor people are fat. It was true the first time I said it, and it’s still true today. What an awesome, kick-ass country. How many thousands of years of various civilizations has this planet seen, whose jaws would drop in flabbergasted envy at such opulence they’d barely be able to comprehend it. Fat poor people!

But there is an equal & opposite, five-word curse to go with it, now: Our companies are not hiring. But you know, only our conservatives care about that. According to the liberal worldview, “the economy” is doing alright. The only reason our liberals can’t see it is, they are not wired to appreciate success even when it is realized according to the terms they themselves have codified. They are, by nature, high drama. Everything’s a crisis, all the time.

I really don’t understand how people can live like this. Perhaps that is my own unique weakness. But if it was, I would think our twentieth-century real-paper fish-wrap “newspapers” would be doing better. As it is, I expect to have to tell my grandchildren about them, maybe catch a glimpse of a Page B1 on the other side of a glass, in a museum. In other words, I expect those newspapers to become history before I do. And I’m no spring chicken.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News and Washington Rebel.

“Budget Deal Leaves Liberals Disheartened”

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Story here. Paul Krugman speaks on behalf of the liberals.

Kind of interesting. From what I can make out, you have something called the “economy” and then you have government spending. Krugman is afraid the economy is too weak to withstand this hiccup in government spending. Now, conservatives are afraid the economy is too weak to withstand the withering effects of higher taxes. Princeton Professor Krugman, to the contrary, thinks higher taxes are just the ticket because in addition to the “economy” being in danger from the government-not-spending-money, the government is in danger of running out of this money.

So we have the economy, we have the government spending money, we have the money the government has to spend…we have higher taxes on the rich. Conservatives think the taxes on the rich need to come down, in order to help the economy. Liberals think the government has to spend money in order to help the economy. I’m entertaining the notion that maybe we’re quibbling about different definitions of an “economy” here without realizing it. I’m not too sure about that — but here’s one thing I am sure of. If I’m one of those rich guys, I’m going to change my investment strategies if taxes go up on the profits I make from my more successful investments. And that just might have an impact on the economy, I think…and on the tax revenues too. Because hey, if I just convert it all into gold ingots and lock it in a vault, there isn’t much tax revenue involved in that, right?

In fact, I would argue we’re already seeing the effects of this in terms of labor, payrolls, unemployment…and stuff…we have businesses doing their darndest to figure out how to keep functioning without hiring anybody. Why, because they’re evil? Probably not that; if you think businesses are evil, it follows that they always have been that way, whereas this higher unemployment rate is kind of an Obama-era thing.

But Krugman is right about the government running out of money. We just had a piece of shutdown drama, and we’ll probably have another one later this year. That must mean it’s a problem.

So in view of the fact that there’s so little time between the shutdown drama, and the U.S. income tax filing deadline, I figure there is only one thing to do. The Blog That Nobody Reads hereby issues a challenge to all progressives who agree with Paul Krugman, to waive their refunds this tax year. So the government doesn’t run out of money, and it can spend more, thereby saving this nebulous conceptual thing you progressives are trying to describe by using this word “economy.”

I don’t think it’s what everybody else is trying to describe with that word. But whatever it is, it must be something really important to you. So show us how important it really is. A little money where the ol’ mouth is.

Ya gotta admit, it’s a little awkward for you to be talking the same way Professor Krugman is, and then just a few short days later, claiming a refund from exactly the same treasury you’re afraid is going to run out of money. I mean, why would you do that? “Because it’s mine”? or “Because they owe it to me”? Property rights for thee but not for anybody else, eh? Stick to your own knitting; just waive the damn refund. You’ll be able to save enough dimes and nickels to watch Fahrenheit 911 or The Color Purple one more time, plenty soon enough.

Update: Ready for another video about whether we have a revenue problem or a spending problem? Once again, it’s not looking good for the “revenue problem” folks.

From Reason TV, by way of Ed Morrissey.

Once again: That web site for voluntary contributions to help reduce the public debt, is right here. Click it now, click it often, send it off to your wealthy left-wing friends who are losing sleep at night from not getting taxed enough. Since “everybody agrees” with this, there must be a lot of people in that camp.

“The War on Happiness”

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Jazz Shaw has some thoughts on it over at HotAir. Included is this chestnut I recall from many decades past:

[Leftists] will frequently make the case that one of the defining characteristics of all strains of conservatism is “a deep, abiding fear that somebody, somewhere may be having a good time.”

Mmmm, hmmm. That one has aged rather poorly. It was certainly showing some haggard lines and other signs of wear & tear by the time President Barack “can’t turn our thermostats to 72 degrees” Obama was sworn in to office.

In fact, I would say over the decades, it has flipped around to something resembling the following: The defining characteristic of all strains of liberalism is that somewhere, the wrong people might be having a good time. Boy Scouts, stay-at-home Moms, gun owners, whites, males, straights, Jesus-worshipers, oil company executives, health care company executives, bank executives. These people are not feeling enough pain.

Jazz continues:

[T]imes have changed since I was a young man. Back then, men in their early twenties frequently were already busy with a job, mowing the lawn and working on getting a wife if they had not done so already. Going to college was more the exception than the rule, and young men graduating high school frequently went straight into the job market. We married younger, started families sooner, and generally expected to be somewhat “established” in life by the time we reached our early thirties.

Society has undergone a dramatic shift. Life in general is more expensive, particularly since we all have to have so many things which our parents never thought of. You’ve got to have a cell phone, a laptop, a high speed internet connection and 327 channels of cable television. (312 of which you will never watch.) It takes longer to save up the money to position yourself for marriage and two incomes are often required to maintain a modern lifestyle, so children are often put off until later in life.

How does this all translate into happiness, and its role in distinguishing conservatives from liberals?

It’s rather lost on me, since I don’t necessarily buy into the notion that the purpose of life is to be happy. I have often said here & there (too lazy, once again, to go digging into the archives) that conservatism in our modern, contemporary age could be best characterized as the possession, ownership and use of a long-term memory. The readiness, willingness and ability to say “We’ve tried that before; so unless there’s some meaningful difference between this time & last time, kindly keep it out of my way.” Liberalism is more like a circular trip on an amusement park silly-go-’round. History always began yesterday morning. So we haven’t tried this before. And if we did, and it failed, it must have been because…of something. Didn’t spend enough money on it. Wrong people were in charge. This time, it’s sure to work.

But happiness itself? It seems to me that both sides are in favor of happiness. They just define it differently. With conservatism it has more to do with a sustainable society. If I’m in a lousy rotten mood with a dour expression on my face, but my kid is assured of having all the options I’ve had plus something, then I’m “happy.” That remains the case even if he is going to spend a lifetime in a lousy rotten mood. If he’s on track to do more with his life than I ever could’ve with mine, then I’m “happy”; if his ever achieving as much as I did, starts to slip into the ether of lost dreams, then that makes me unhappy. The XBox 360 or whatever doesn’t figure into it.

With liberalism, “happiness” seems to have something to do with your state of mind when you’re inclined to re-elect and re-elect your (democrat) representative generation after generation after generation, until he’s in his nineties. Which usually translates to you enjoying access to something of value that you did not earn.

Even if that situation — as we have been reminded this past week with the “looming government shutdown — is demonstrably unsustainable. If Rome is burning or the barbarians are at the gate, but you’re still getting your lucre, then you’re “happy.”

“Government Shutdown Averted”

Friday, April 8th, 2011

It’s midnight EDT, and Politico has something.

After a long day of trading offers, the White House and House Republicans reached agreement Friday night on a budget framework that would cap 2011 appropriations near or below $1.050 trillion while cutting domestic and foreign aid by more than $40 billion from the rate of spending at the beginning of this Congress.

Behind the closed doors of special meeting of the Republican Conference, Speaker John Boehner presented the package to his party as at least an agreement in principle and said at one point: “We have a deal.” The Senate should now feel confident enough to move ahead with a stop gap spending bill to avert—or at least shorten—any shutdown beginning at midnight.

I’d sure like to know the mentality at work with people who think this is an okay way for our country to function. I know they must be lacking in any useful long-term memory since, as I’ve written before, the newspaper headlines never really seem to change. “[Program/agency] in trouble! Budget shortfall! Wah!” And then there’s a tearjerker story of some sad sack who’s utterly, completely dependent on the government program who just doesn’t know what he or she is gonna do. Crack that paper open again a couple months later, or a couple years later, and it hasn’t changed any. The program is different, the agency is different, but the rest of it is the same. Budget shortfall! What’re we gonna do??

See, this has always intrigued and befuddled me. Clearly, what separates them from everyone else is the fact that they don’t value independence…I mean, personal independence. Wouldn’t this kind of experience sort of, y’know, motivate them to value it more highly?

Your Microsoft Access Vote-Counting Post Mortem

Friday, April 8th, 2011

It’s here. Perhaps this will remain the definitive one, perhaps there will be others.

I knew it could not be long in coming. The way it was described in that press conference, did not make a whole lot of sense to me. I have the impression this system is sort of a jerry-rig approach, full of cotter pins, duct tape and band aids, and that such an oopsie was inevitable.

In fact, in all my years with supporting computer applications, this is the primary source of oopsies. It isn’t that such systems take their first breaths of life on somebody’s desktop machine with Microsoft Office products that are designed for — let’s face it — some guy to keep track of his seashell collection or what-not. That is, after all, the most effective way of figuring out what you want the application to actually do. It’s that they stay there. The plant becomes too big for the pot.

At some point, there is a “database migration project” to a client-server platform, or three-tier platform, which costs engineering resources and project management resources and design resources and software licensing dollars and down-time. More often than not, it doesn’t happen. That seems to be what happened here, and it’s got me wondering where else it isn’t happening and what other mistakes are being made.

What’s the result? Situation: Very much like parking a fine vintage Packard in a garage made out of Lincoln Logs. Inappropriate for the magnitude of data, inappropriate for the importance of the mission and worst of all, loaded up with the potential for human error. Outcome: Exquisite embarrassment. Yet another vote-counting scandal. An obvious lack of confidence.

And a bunch of crazed left-wingers forced to choke on their words. Well, that part I like. And a whole lot.

But it still isn’t a good thing.

Memo For File CXXXV

Friday, April 8th, 2011

The time has come for someone to jot down into visible words what everybody with a working brain knows already, but nobody with shame will admit out loud. Well, I have more brains than shame, and I am ready, willing and able.

We all have to make decisions, and some of us prosper or suffer according to the wisdom or stupidity of those decisions. The rest of us don’t, so the ones who don’t, start to make stupider and stupider decisions as the quality of their decision-making begins to suffer from atrophy. They have little incentive to make wise decisions, so as the necessity fades away over time, so does the quality. These people who enjoy the luxury of peeling-off with whatever decisions feel good at the time, not having to worry about whether they’re wise or not, are also enjoying more and more of a majority status. And what’s even worse, is that as they flail around for some method by which to make these decisions, they tend to settle on exactly that one: Majority. Go along with what “most” people are already thinking.

Or, echo what the most audible people in earshot, say they are thinking. Make your mark by not making your mark. “Change” the final consensus to what it was already. You can easily tell a man who lives off the sweat of others, and knows he lives off the sweat of others, because he has no history to offer insofar as going against the majority — he’s been on the “winning” side every single time.

Well, that isn’t the ugly truth everybody knows & no one wants to admit. I’ll get into that straight-away:

Salesmanship TriadAmong those who labor under a natural incentive to try to make wise, logical, reasoned decisions, the wisdom/logic/reason usually does not have the final say. We like to think it does, but it’s really a hodge-podge of three things which could be thought of as legs on a three-legged stool:

1. Does the idea make logical sense;
2. Are you any good at selling it to me;
3. Was I already leaning in the direction of doing it anyway.

And the thing that makes us hesitant to admit this, is: There is a summation involving these three legs. One leg may be very weak, and the sale is closed anyway if the other two legs are stronger. Any one of the three legs may be weak and it can still be a slam dunk, if the other two legs, or just one of the other two legs, can compensate.

And I do mean any one. The idea may not make logical sense, in fact it may be downright silly. You’ll buy it anyway, or at least you’ll feel a powerful compulsion to buy it anyway, if the other two legs are stronger. Salesmanship and prejudice.

Our current President is best described by means of this three-legged stool. He brings so much skill and talent to the salesmanship aspect of it that the other two legs don’t need to be there at all. He can sell ideas that are disliked by the prospective buyers, even if the ideas make no sense whatsoever. That’s the problem. That’s why He isn’t right for the immediate future of the country.

This also explains His remarkable appeal, or at least, the appeal He used to have some three years ago. “I can’t explain it, there’s just something about Him!” They said this over and over again. All who were waiting for details to support this, were left sucking air…but that’s perfectly alright, they were told, if you ever met Barack Obama in person you’d understand immediately. Well, now it’s later and the understanding is crystal-clear. Those who value unity over clarity, saw Obama as the perfect unifying force. He would get up and sell…uh, something. And by the time it was over everybody would come to agreement. Then what? That part doesn’t matter, see the important thing is that everyone would agree.

Now, what has Obama sold us in three years.

1. There is something wrong with you if you say anything against…um…whatever it is Congress put together in this health care bill here. Haven’t had a chance to skim through it or anything, but Let Me Be Clear it is wonderful.
2. Jessica Simpson has put on a little weight.
3. The Cambridge police acted stupidly.
4. Time for a beer summit.
5. When there’s an oil leak in the Gulf, we need a drilling moratorium. Yeah, that’s the solution.
6. We need to move to alternative fuels and we shouldn’t drill at all.
7. Brazil, on the other hand, should drill to its heart’s content.
8. We hope to sell China lots and lots of stuff.
9. And the latest humdinger: If the price of gas is a problem for you, you need to get a new car.

That is by no means an exhaustive list. But it is a useful cross-section, a useful sampling, and oh by the way did you notice the one theme permeating through it all? The one common characteristic? Not a single item on there makes a damn lick of sense.

And thus it is with all other persons, in all other capacities, in all other walks of life. You’re going to generally find the greater the talent is invested in selling things, the less sense the ideas are going to make. Thing I Know #271 provides some insight into why it always has worked, and always will work, this way…

Someone please enlighten me on this hero worship for people who are good at selling things. An excellent salesman is useless in selling an adequate product; an adequate salesman will move it just as quick. You only need an excellent salesman to sell a crappy, substandard product, or excessive quantities of a product, that people don’t need.

Am I saying whenever you encounter a wonderful salesman you should turn around and run as fast as your li’l legs can possibly carry you? No, of course not.

But, I’ll be honest with you; I’m reasonably sure I’ve sailed past the midpoint, by now, between cradle and crypt. And the years I can now review in hindsight, have strongly suggested that to me over and over again — not only should I run away from wonderful salesmen has fast as my li’l legs can possibly carry me, but screaming at the top of my lungs in holy terror, arms flailing overy my head, wouldn’t exactly be uncalled-for.

The years ahead of me might very well teach me something contrary. But it hasn’t happened yet. And I’m left without any reason to expect such a thing to happen.

After all, I’m part of the people who still suffer when they make dumbass decisions. Maybe we’re a dwindling minority now…but I’m actually thankful to be on this side of the line. It keeps your mind sharp, somewhat, if you stand to lose things when your mind isn’t sharp. It’s like John Wayne said (apocryphally): “Life’s tough. Life’s tougher if you’re stupid.” It is a regretful situation for us all, that life is working that way for fewer and fewer of us. Too many of our peers are allowed to live relatively pain-free, in fact with a right to file grievances if they’re ever troubled with any pain at all, while being stupid and staying stupid. And as a direct result of this, we have placed value on so-called “leaders” who have no skill at all other than to lengthen the stool-leg that has to do with salesmanship, so the other two legs needn’t be relevant.

In fact, isn’t that what all the yelling is about lately? Which ones among us should be privileged to never feel any portion of the community pain — which arrives as the direct result of stupid, nonsensical decisions that were made — because the salesmanship skills were so stellar, so amazing, so off-the-charts impressive.

One Side in a Conflict Has Been Chosen…

Friday, April 8th, 2011

…by Michael Moore. The evidence and facts that come pouring in at a late hour, contrary to the evidence and facts that arrived beforehand, are injurious to the side he has chosen. So his answer is to attack the character of the people on the other side.

It is the sign of an unhealthy mind, of a weak, childish intellect. Very common problem nowadays. Something about the positions taken by the left, incline them toward this. It’s like, they just can’t handle a defeat, honest or otherwise — just can’t happen. Don’t have what it takes to work through a temporary setback, and hope for the best…”lost the inning, maybe we’ll win the game anyway.” No way, no how.

What’s with these guys, didn’t they ever play sports when they were kids?

Aw…I was going to avoid making a comment about his physical appearance. Just sort of fell into that one. Nope. No, of course he didn’t.

Hat tip to Allahpundit, who links to The Greatest Press Conference of All Time.

Now, I wasn’t aware elections were tabulated this way. The Excel spreadsheet, which is new, is imported into an Access database and the lady giving the press conference forgot to save the Access database? I thought this would be like some custom-built accounting software, with all kinds of anti-fraud features and gimmicks, digital signatures taken from files as they are imported, bells going off if you try to make multiple copies of the same thing, and all that. Like accessing my bank account over the Internet or something. It’s just office workers tossing around spreadsheets and Access databases? Really?

Okay, I can see how that would give us a false start now and then.

But someone needs to come up with a name for this mental illness Michael Moore has. Good news…Yay! Our side is so awesome! Bad news…no, can’t deal with it. Have to engage in this litany about how much the other side sucks, all their character defects, call them “hypocrites.” A defense mechanism, of sorts.

I’m sure there are other mental frailties far less worthy of carrying an ICD-9 number, that actually do have one. This needs one. It’s become a widespread and growing problem in recent years. And I do believe it is going to require some sort of treatment, before we as a society can ever maintain any kind of hope for President Obama’s “new tone.” You can’t have that, as long as one side suffers from a mental illness that forces them to insult the other side, on a personal level, knee-jerk style, every single time they see something that disappoints them.

Maybe, nowadays, that’s what being a modern-day liberal is. “I have never had to deal with disappointment or rejection before; why should I start now? And who the hell do you think you are, giving me this so-called ‘news’ that makes it necessary for me to do so?”

Blogs Don’t Have Editors

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

People tell me there is something wrong with my blog, because this post or that post has too many commas in it, or has unclean pronoun reference. Or, this group of sentences here toward the end of a paragraph, don’t really add anything.

You know what? I agree with all of them.

But I still tell them to stick it. When I write these things, more often than not I’m dealing with all kinds of distractions…people asking me “does this dress make me look fat”…what was the name of that movie we saw back in whenever…what should I do when I get this error message. It isn’t a structured editing process by any means. You know what my editing process looks like? I get done with fighting the editor, I hit “publish,” I get the little WordPress spinning wheel thing. And after about five seconds I say out loud “well go fuck yourself, I’m going to get another cup of coffee.” Then I get myself another cup of coffee, by which time it’s usually finished and I view the home page and scan it for some obvious, reprehensible, offensive to God and Creation itself errors of all kinds.

Then I say, enough-is-enough-is-enough and I shower up and go to work.

Point is, if I held off on publishing anything that had yet to run through a proper editing cycle, I’d never write anything.

On more than one occasion, I have gotten the distinct impression that is the point. I get the feeling there is this sentiment out there: “I have thoughts I have not been allowed to express, or have been unable to express, or have been too lazy to express…and if I can’t express anything, nobody else should be able to either.”

Also, on more than one occasion, I have noticed the people who provide the distractions to me while I’m trying to write something, are the same people who provide these “helpful” criticisms once it’s put together so they can see it.

You know, I can tolerate criticism all day and night. It’s jealousy I can’t stand.

Eight Miles a Gallon

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

This one has been all over the innertubz, the radio, the teevee…and the Associated Press, from what I understand, has been trying to sanitize it. Apparently in vain. It’s Barack Obama’s “Marie Antoinette” moment:

Obama needled one questioner who asked about gas prices, now averaging close to $3.70 a gallon nationwide, and suggested that the gentleman consider getting rid of his gas-guzzling vehicle.

“If you’re complaining about the price of gas and you’re only getting 8 miles a gallon, you know,” Obama said laughingly. “You might want to think about a trade-in.”

What a dick. Just no other way to say it.

Afterward, the 8-mpg-figure was dancing around in my brain and it gave me cause to recall something. Remember when His Holiness was first inaugurated as our first demigod President? He got a special chariot out of the deal, something the Secret Service referred to as “The Beast.” Remember how many miles a gallon it got?

Barack. Obama. Mmmmm Mmmmm Mmmmm!

Or, as they say over at Gerard’s place: “Oh, we are thinking about a trade-in, schmuck!”