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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Friday, May 29, 2009

POWERFUL MEN

"What's happened to us? We used to be the hairy hunter!"
-Billy Connolly

He-Man
For decades now I've been waiting for the backlash. Women's movements and an anti-male culture have been pushing men over and over for a long time. Men, being naturally lazy and uninterested in trouble, have been stepping back over and over while becoming increasingly annoyed, and I've watched for and even feared what men would do once we reached the point we said "OK that's enough" and started rolling up our sleeves. Some false reactions have been seen such as the "Promise keepers" movement and bongo drum playing bands of hugging, weeping men who complain they never knew their father.

Perhaps we're starting to see it, finally. The Chicago Tribune has a story by Sara Olkon about a group of guys on campus who've had enough:
A group of University of Chicago students think it's time the campus focused more on its men.

A third-year student from Lake Bluff has formed Men in Power, a student organization that promises to help men get ahead professionally. But the group's emergence has been controversial, with some critics charging that its premise is misogynistic.

Others say it's about time men are championed, noting that recent job losses hit men harder and that women earn far more bachelor's and master's degrees than do men.
...
Steve Saltarelli, the president of Men in Power, wrote a satirical column in March in which he suggested forming such a group. "Anyone with an interest in both studying and learning from men in powerful positions, as well as issues involved with reverse sexism, may become a member of MiP," he wrote.
The group has rapidly grown in popularity despite opposition and even mockery by women on campus. Here are a few quotes from the story:
Jessica Pan, president of Women in Business and a fourth-year student, questioned whether Men in Power's goals were being met by existing student groups. "I'm not sure we really need another student organization that focuses on pre-professional development for men," Pan said, noting that, in just the area of business, there were five or six students groups that were gender-neutral.

Similarly, Ali Feenstra, a third-year student and a member of the Feminist Majority, questioned Men in Power's utility. "It's like starting 'white men in business' -- there's not really any purpose," she said.
Mark Perry, an economist at University of Michigan in Flint disagrees. He points out that while women have an unemployment rate nationally of 7.6%, for men it is 10%. Since 1981, women have gotten 135 bachelor's degrees for every 100 by men, and professional jobs such as education and health care tend to ride out economic stress better than low education jobs such as construction.

Generally speaking, groups like this don't work well for men. Masculinity tends to be more defined by action than speech and individuality rather than joining a group. Men view organizations with suspicion, and Robert's Rules of Order aren't exactly a masculine concept. And I would point out that the reason men aren't graduating as much and are facing harder times is not because someone outside is holding them down, but because men in general view education as a lot of work and little value. The popular culture heavily promotes the cave man/frat boy image of a young man - party and have a good time bro! Drink beer, get laid, wooo!!!

You aren't getting an education because you aren't trying to get one, guys. Women aren't holding you down, the government isn't holding you back by not promoting men enough. Programs and systems aren't keeping you from getting a degree.

Yet at the same time, a group of men who promote the idea of men with power, confront and oppose the insulting and destructive lies and bigotry of women's study departments, and fight the freakish caricature of men given by extremist feminists is a good thing, particularly on college campuses. If this can be pointed in a constructive direction - you fight your own battles, you lead, you fix your problems, you stand shoulder to shoulder and work for a better future - rather than destructive - you need to get the government to help, you need to be seen as an identity group to get aid and programs at college - it will be a very positive thing.

I'm not confident this will work out well, but I'm hopeful, and this is a nice change of pace for college campuses.

SUGAR SLAVES

"Sugarcane farmers...are becoming national and world heroes because everybody has his eye on the ethanol."
-Brazil President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

I haven't written about Ethanol for a while. So far its been established that Ethanol is less efficient at producing energy than gasoline, isn't reducing fuel prices, takes more resources to produce, actually pollutes more overall, and is causing food shortages around the world because of subsidies and the push for production, its driving food prices up (which in turn causes more inflation), and the farms which are growing corn for ethanol are now suffering from the bad economy and want even more subsidies.

We've even found out that even the left realizes that ethanol is a joke, that it doesn't do what they claimed it would, courtesy the Rush Limbaugh show:
It makes a ton of headlines but it's completely useless for everyone. I mean, frankly this thing is so inefficient it costs more energy to make it than it produces in the long run.
That's Alexandra Leo from the Huffington Post on CNBC. They know its junk, they know it doesn't work. Have you seen an ethanol car ad recently? Last year they were all over the place. In fact "green" advertising sort of died out because they found it people didn't like it as much as they'd hoped.

Well there's a darker problem with ethanol production and its slavery:
Just the other day, in the darkest reaches of the Amazon jungle in Brazil, more than 1,000 slaves were freed. They were forced to work 18 hour days under crippling conditions, cutting down sugar cane with machetes in order to produce the “environmentally friendly” fuel.

The raid, which police claim was the biggest to-date took place in the northern state of Para. Apparently, behind this exploitative ring lie the biggest ethanol producers in Brazil, Para Pastoril e Agricola SA.
The company would, apparently ship in poor workers, and like the coal mines of the past work the people and charge them for everything until they didn't actually make any money - they ended up in debt to the company store and couldn't leave. Why? Because its a lot cheaper to produce sugar cane for ethanol with slaves than workers. Brazil is the world's biggest ethanol producer, using sugar rather than corn. Its always been cheaper than many other producers and now we know at least one reason why.

Ethanol is bad, bad for the world, bad for America, bad for people, and even bad for the environment. So why is it being so heavily subsidized? Well, many of the Democratic congressmen who were elected in 2006 are from farming states, and those farming states have powerful lobbies which pressure the legislators from one end and pay for campaigns on the other, squeezing weaker congressmen into obeying their wishes. Government money is like a drug, once you get on it, you want more and damn the consequences. Ethanol has given us a new class of junkies and congress doesn't have the willpower or even desire to cut that off.

NAME GAME

"Don't forget Chad Ocho Cinco"

Tasty Jarritos
I went to a local Mexican food place a few years back and ordered a meal. The pretty young server asked me what I wanted to drink and I saw they had Jarritos on the menu. If you've never had any of these, I recommend them to you, it's a brand of Mexican soft drink and they are very tasty. So I ordered one and she looked at me like I was a dull child and asked "Harrrrrrrrrreet-ose?" because I hadn't gotten the word exactly right for her region of Mexico. She didn't get a tip.

Some people are pretty silly about pronouncing words, they can go too far or be even arrogant and insulting about it. There was a skit on Saturday Night Live I remember well, it was the usual cast with Phil Hartman, Dana Carvey and so on, playing news broadcasters. They all were absurdly overpronouncing every remotely Spanish word, exaggerating each syllable. Bob Costas (pronounced Boab Coast-ahss) was there playing along, and Jimmy Smits who played a new guy on the team came in and said he was glad they were trying to be respectful of his language, but it was okay if they didn't try so hard. The whole effect was, to me, hilarious and effective. It was about the time period that newscasters were trying to pronouce Central American names and being ludicrously overmeticulous and enunciating with the tone of voice you usually hear only in Phonetics lessons.

How do you pronounce Judge Sotomayor's name? So-to-May-er? Or So-to-May-yore? A recent column by Dr Melissa Clouthier on Right Wing News tackled this, and she was critical of the second pronounciation:
The proper pronunciation is Soto-may-YOUR and with a opening of the mouth to get the proper fullness and roll of the tongue.

Sigh.

Remember when people Americanized their names? Partly, it made their names easier to say. Mostly, people just wanted to be American. Fully American.
...
My uncle is of Mexican descent. He speaks Spanish and knows five dialects. When he speaks English it is not Spanglish. It's English. It is not English with the twang of Spanish hovering over him. I dare say, if I asked him if his Mexican heritage makes his judgment more stellar, he would say no. I'm quite sure he wouldn't say that being a man makes him smarter. And yet, he finds a way to integrate his Mexican heritage and embrace his history.

Generations of Americans have done this. They know the language of the old country. They keep certain traditions. But they were eager to be American. They were eager to Americanize their name, even. It was symbolic. It was a blessed gift to have this country and people were proud to be a part of it. A shortened name meant becoming new and American.
...
America needs to continue to be a melting pot. I'm Melissa Clouthier. It is not Cloo-tee-ay. It is Cloth-ee-er. I'm American and proud of it.
Now I always figured it was the French pronunciation, but cloth-ee-er works for me too. I'm willing to respect what people want to be called after battling over 40 years trying to get people to stop calling me "Chris."

I get what she's saying, and to a certain degree, I understand and agree. The burning need of some folks (especially Hispanics, lately) to cling to their heritage and barely learn a lick of the language of their new home is not just insulting, it's stupid. If I moved to Mexico, I'd learn to speak like a native. Not like an American stumbling over Spanish, not with a heavy accent, and not part time while I spoke English at home. I'd speak the language of my new home. Because its home. I wouldn't have moved there if I didn't want to be part of this new country.

So yes, it is annoying to me when people cling to their old country so tightly they speak the old language at home and keep all the old decorations and eat only the old food and wear the old clothes and old customs and old culture. That's just stupid; why on earth did you move in the first place?

Yet at the same time there's something I disagree with in what she's saying. It is one thing to refuse to abandon your country and culture even after moving to a new one but it is another to demand everyone "be American" in everything they do. The melting pot means that we all contribute to a whole, not that America is a pot that people melt into and become part of. We're all in the soup, even the white people who've been here a long time. The only part of America that's supposed to be outside the pot for some cryptic reason are the Native American tribes, but that's another topic.

Names are a personal identity, its what you grow up with and is the one constant in your life. You can change what you want people to call you (women especially seem fond of this, marking some change in their lives with a new name), but you're still the person your parents named even if you don't use it. I like ethnic names, and its sad sometimes seeing what happened to names of people who came through Ellis Island and how the overworked clerks there changed them. Braun becomes Brown. Stanczewicz becomes Smith. Too hard to spell, people in line, lets keep it moving.

For some this was a badge of honor: now I am an American. My Grandfather emigrated here from Denmark and refused to speak Danish once he learned English because he wanted to be an American. Others are proud of their heritage, and rightly so. They keep their name Vanderveen and Krzyzewski and defy people to pronounce what they are called with a grin and a wink. That's fine with me, I think it adds to the richness of America.

And that's what some people, particularly in other nations, don't quite comprehend. When you move to America, whatever your ethnic background, you become part of a greater whole: e pluribus unum (out of many, one). You aren't an Irishman living in America, you aren't even Irish-American. You're just American, because this is your country. If I moved to Denmark I wouldn't be American-Danish. I'd just be Danish, eventually.

Now, some people make that transition faster than others. It took years for Italian and Polish and Irish and other immigrants to really blend in, big cities still have the remnants of these ethnic communities such as little Italy in Chicago. That's where the various ethnic delis came from: some clever person opened up a place that had the old world's food in it and made money off the locals. My grandfather, until the day he died, had such a thick Danish accent some people had a hard time understanding him. "TH" was always "D" for him, he just couldn't say it. Some people pick up accents rapidly (such as myself), and blend in rapidly. Others aren't able to ever get it right. As long as they try, and stop clinging to their old home so fiercely.

What I don't care for is the half-a-tard version of names that some 12 year old girl came up with then kept until she has her children. The Laqueeyas and D'Anns and names from soap operas. You see a lot of this kind of name in slums and by strange contrast among the yuppie rich; many basketball players have these faked up names by children (like rappers: snoop doggy dog? Fitty Cent?) or the functionally childish, as do many rich white kids, with parents trying to be "creative" and merely ending up annoying. Most don't go as far as idiotic celebrities, but they still are sad and contribute to the retardization of America. Even someone with an older, established name like Rush Limbaugh, believe it or not, changed his name for a while. He went by Rusty Sharpe for a while as a teenager (as he puts it "Yeah, I wanted an adjective as a last name. Yes, I did."), because his name was Rush and that was just odd - even though it was a third generation name.

This isn't an ethnic thing, this has nothing to do with heritage (although you'll be told that when a black girl names her son Jawand its Zulu for "gonna make me rich, beeyotch"), it's just parents playing cheap, insulting games with not just their kids lives but American culture. But I've written about that before, so no reason to go over old ground again.

Quote of the Day

“We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others, the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name - liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names - liberty and tyranny.”
-Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, May 28, 2009

BOX OFFICE GROSS

"No I don't think I will kiss you."
-Rhett Butler, Gone With The Wind

The top grossing films in America are a list of familiar titles. Here are the top 10 money makers in the US:
  1. Titanic
  2. The Dark Knight
  3. Star Wars
  4. Shrek 2
  5. ET: The Extra Terrestrial
  6. Star Wars: the Phantom Menace
  7. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
  8. Spider-Man
  9. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
  10. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Titanic PosterIn fact, of the top 25, all but 7 were made in since 2000, and only two were made before 1990. That's amazing, how popular films are now, huh?

Well, there's a problem here. Ticket prices have skyrocketed in the last twenty years, driving box office numbers through the ceiling. Inflation has made the price of everything go up. You could go watch a movie in 1939 for 25 cents. Today the average price is closer to ten dollars.

Why did I pick 1939? Because if you adjust the box office earnings for inflation, that is you treat all the money as if it was at the same average dollar value, the number one earning movie of all time is... (drum roll)


GWTW posterGone With the Wind. In today's dollars, it earned a staggering $1,450,680,400. That was before rentals, before a huge world market. That was just money earned from people plunking down one quarter each to watch a movie in theaters across the US alone. It made $198,676,459 from quarters in 1939. That's difficult for me to even imagine.

Here's the real top 25 list, adjusted for inflation:
  1. Gone With The Wind
  2. Star Wars
  3. The Sound of Music
  4. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial
  5. The Ten Commandments
  6. Titanic
  7. Jaws
  8. Dr Zhivago
  9. The Exorcist
  10. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
  11. 101 Dalmatians
  12. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
  13. Ben-Hur
  14. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
  15. The Sting
  16. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  17. Jurassic Park
  18. The Graduate
  19. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
  20. Fantasia
  21. The Godfather
  22. Forest Gump
  23. Mary Poppins
  24. The Lion King
  25. Grease
Those other movies in the top 10 above? Here's where they came in:
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace - 19th
The Dark Knight - 27th
Shrek 2 - 30th
Spider-Man - 34th
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest - 44th
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - 50th
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith - 57th
When I look at that list and the diversity a few things occur to me.

First, clearly Lucas was gaming the ticket prices to get huge numbers. No surprise there, he always did: every new Lucas movie that has come out after Star Wars was with a higher ticket price. Every time they push the price up to release his films. That's how he can have so many Star Wars movies in the unadjusted top 100, by making tickets cost more and thus the numbers are bigger. After the incredibly disappointing, even insulting Phantom Menace, people were much more reluctant to watch the even more disappointing and insulting Attack of the Clones (number 83 overall). Still, even at number 83, that's an amazing feat: Lucas' movies make a ton of money by any metric (American Graffiti is number 42).

Notice the presence of ET in both of the lists. That movie was an astounding success, a true blockbuster, changing movies with how much money it made and how popular it was. Everyone went to see ET. In its original form. It made that money before Spielberg made the idiot changes he did. Not flashlights, guns. The scene when the government comes and quarantines the house was frankly frightening, it gave the scene where ET comes back much more dramatic power and importance. That's why it worked. Yet after being so overwhelmingly popular, Spielberg figured he knew better and took the guns out.

I've not seen Jaws, Dr Zhivago, The Graduate, or Grease. Other than that, I've watched all those movies, several in the theater. Because of their immense popularity, these movies are culturally significant, they help shape the US culture. You'll notice that none of these movies make a left-leaning political or ideological statement except the Graduate. The other movies that make a statement are all quite right-leaning. 10 Commandments, Ben Hur, and The Sound of Music are all unashamedly either religious or religiously friendly.

The Passion of the Christ
came in higher than Revenge of the Sith. It made $428,680,800 inflation adjusted dollars, and was entirely in Aramaic and Hebrew with subtitles. No motion picture distributor or major studio would even touch it, nor would they distribute or publicize it. That says something very significant about American culture that the left and Hollywood simply don't want to hear.

When you look at adjusted earnings, the highest ranking movie made since 2000 was The Dark Knight, at number 27. It didn't even make the top 25. In fact, in the top 10, only one was made later than 1990: Titanic. Since 1980, ET is added to that list. Of the top 10, more than half were made before Star Wars in 1977. Of the top 25, 10 were made before 1970. The highest grossing film of all time was made before the US entered World War II (two of the top 10 were made before 1940). Of the top 10, none are sequels.

Star Wars PosterOh, and look at that list. Harrison Ford was in 10 of the top 100 grossing movies of all time, adjusted for inflation. Add a couple more to that list for unadjusted movies. He's in four of the top 25. No other actor can match that feat. Harrison Ford is the biggest actor of all time, period. Yeah I liked guys like John Wayne, Gregory Peck, Cary Grant etc better, but none of them can beat Harrison Ford. I didn't even see one John Wayne movie in the top 100.

Just two James Bonds movie made it on the list: Thunderball (no. 26) and Goldfinger (no. 40, a movie many consider the best of the series, although the recent Casino Royale gives it a serious run in my opinion).

To keep things in perspective, my favorite movie of all time, Casablanca, didn't even get on the top 100 list. It made a paltry $1,719,913 or about 12 million in inflation-adjusted dollars. That's around 5000th on the list.

You know what movie baffles me the most? 101 Dalmations. The animation isn't that great. The story is kind of weak. It is very funny to watch, but it isn't even in my top 10 Disney animated movies list. It's number 11 overall: I guess people like lots of puppies. Of course, the Disney movies are a bit misleading in their earnings. Snow White has made $118,328,683 of its unadjusted $184,925,486 total since 1983, according to Box Office Mojo. They re-release their movies periodically to generate more interest and money, so the totals aren't exactly what they might seem to be. Yet the movies did make that much money, even involving re-releases.

What Hollywood should be considering, and likely is aware of, is that their big movies aren't making that much money these days. The era of the huge blockbuster is passed. Sure, the numbers look gaudy; Iron Man made $582,030,528 worldwide, but it cost $140,000,000 to make. Gone With The Wind has made $400,176,459 worldwide unadjusted for inflation and it cost just $3,957,000 to make, publicize, and distribute. So Iron Man's production budget was about 26% of its worldwide earnings, and Gone With The Wind's was less than .1% (I had this at .01% in error, a commenter pointed out the error).

Here are the number one movies for the last 10 years with how they rank overall, adjusted for inflation:
2008 - The Dark Knight (27)
2007 - Spider-Man 3 (93)
2006 - Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (44)
2005 - Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (57)
2004 - Shrek 2 (30)
2003 - The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (50)
2002 - Spider-Man (34)
2001 - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (66)
2000 - How Grinch Stole Christmas (96)
1999 - Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (19)
This year it looks like the reboot of Star Trek will be the big one, although Monsters vs Aliens is making a lot of money as well.

Empty TheaterThe movies ain't makin' what they used to. Ticket prices are so high and quality is so low, stories are so weak and the endless remakes and sequels so uninteresting that viewers are tending to stay home. Would you rather see Big Budget Movie IV: Remake of Old Movie at a theater, or watch something at home from Netflix? For the price of one ticket you can get a movie every three days in your home from Netflix, and the ambiance of a theater only takes you so far. Movie Theaters are largely surviving on ads, uncreative dates and movie addicts these days. And its only going to get worse as streaming movies to your TV on demand become more prevalent and cheap.

*Also check out this further analysis in a later post of what genres did well over the years!

SKIP THE QUEEN

God save the Queen
The fascist regime
-The Sex Pistols God Save the Queen

Its hard not to get the impression that President Obama doesn't like England. He particularly doesn't seem very fond of the Queen. Here's the latest news:
Indeed, she is decidedly displeased, angry even, that she was not invited to join President Obama and France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, next week at commemorations of the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, according to reports published in Britain’s mass-circulation tabloid newspapers on Wednesday. Pointedly, Buckingham Palace did not deny the reports.

The queen, who is 83, is the only living head of state who served in uniform during World War II. As Elizabeth Windsor, service number 230873, she volunteered as a subaltern in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service, training as a driver and a mechanic. Eventually, she drove military trucks in support roles in England.

While serving, she met the supreme Allied commander for the D-Day landings, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, and developed a fondness for him, according to several biographies. This prompted Queen Elizabeth, who was crowned in June 1953, to say in later years that he was the American president with whom she felt most at ease.
Well, why have her there? She just was part of the events and represents the one nation most responsible for civilization surviving WW2.

Some, such as a blogger much more knowledgeable in Kenyan affairs named Baldilocks, suggest that the antipathy toward England comes from colonial activities long before President Obama was born. Some might point out that he dismissed his friendship and association with unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers by saying the Weathermen were active when he was six years old.

THE DEATH OF THE OED

The Oxford English Dictionary, once the most respected and official collection of words in the English Language, has added the word "Muggle" to its latest edition. Which is why I say "once" most respected. Some other fine additions:

Grrrl
Mini-Me
Screenager
Bouncebackability
Meatspace.

Yeah. They used to be more careful and took more time before adding trendy, slang terms to the lexicon. Now they want to be more hip and liked, I guess. Wikipedia has more credibility at this point.

POLLING ANALYSIS AND COVERAGE

"...well, what do you think I should answer?"

President Obama has picked his first Supreme Court justice nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor. She is of Puerto Rican descent and a woman, and a leftist activist. The Rassmussen polling service called up thousands of people allegedly at random for two days and asked them a few questions. From those they got 1000 answers to the questions and they broke down like this:
Before Sotomayor was selected as the nominee, 42% believed the president’s nominee would be too liberal.

Forty-three percent (43%) believe that Sotomayor is politically liberal while 32% view her as a moderate. A plurality of Democrats view the Supreme Court nominee as politically moderate while most Republicans and a plurality of unaffiliateds view her as politically liberal.

Eighty-seven percent (87%) of voters nationwide believe Judge Sonia Sotomayor will be confirmed as the next U.S. Supreme Court justice.

45% of the nation’s voters say a nominee's legal competence is more important than concerns about diversity or their position on issues.

Sixty-three percent (63%) say justices should base their rulings on what is written in the Constitution. Thirty percent (30%) say they should be guided by perceptions of fairness and justice.

Hispanic voters favor confirmation by a 66% to 15% margin.

Forty-five percent (45%) favor confirmation of Sotomayor.
OK now, we know that this is only 1000 people out of a nation of over 300,000,000 so the numbers are a bit limited in their value. Yet let's take a look at what is being revealed here, not so we understand the nation's mood, but for another reason I'll get to in a moment.

First, a "plurality" is when you get the largest sample of several selections but not a true majority. For example; you have an apple, an orange, and a peach, and you ask people what they like most. Let's say the voting resulted in this:

Apple: 35%
Orange: 28%
Peach: 37%

The peach won. It didn't get a majority, but it got the most of all the votes, which means it won by a "plurality." Most of the results in most polling ends up with this kind of result, pluralities rather than majorities. Most of the results listed above are pluralities.

Most people (by plurality) thought that President Obama's selection to the court would be too liberal. When he announced his choice, most people's expectations were confirmed: yes, she's too liberal. Most people, when asked, said they'd prefer someone who followed the constitution rather than seeking "social justice." Despite this, almost everyone assumes that Sotomayor will be confirmed as a justice in the Supreme Court. Most people, when asked, didn't think she should be (again, a plurality).

President Obama picked Sotomayor for three reasons. First she fit his requirement that the judge be an activist, someone more interested in social justice (he called it "empathy") than legal expertise and adherence to the law and especially the US Constitution. Second, she was a minority, so not only could the Democrats and the legacy media (but I repeat myself) club Republicans with a racist bat for opposing her but it fits his multicultural and diversity quotient. The Supreme Court is too white and Justice Thomas doesn't count because he's not leftist enough to be genuinely black, at least for a leftist. Third, she's a woman and there aren't "enough" women presently on the Supreme Court, and that's just not diverse enough again.

Notice: these requirements are opposed to what the polled people think a justice should be. They don't want someone picked for their activist ideas and ethnicity, they want someone who does the job well and is wise and restrained by the US Constitution. Except the Hispanics who were polled (no way of knowing how many there were without buying Rassmussen's data). They just liked her because she's Hispanic, a sad testament to the racism that's still out there.

Now then, as any long term reader knows, I don't care for polls (to put it mildly). I think the system is much akin to reading tea leaves or astrology, the "science" is very shoddy and limited in value, and the samples are absurdly small. I know that how you ask questions, when you ask them, who asks them (young, old, female, male, what ethnicity, etc) how the questions are worded all skew the poll in different directions, sometimes on purpose. So why the lengthy analysis?

Because this is just a few days after the nomination was announced. While it wasn't much of a surprise to a lot of legal bloggers (particularly those on the right), most people hadn't ever heard of this woman. The news coverage has been limited so far.

I'm curious to see, after a few weeks of the press working the story, how these numbers change. Justice Sotomayor will not have changed, the facts will not have changed, the only thing that will be different will be peoples' perception of the judge.

See, it doesn't matter what you or I think. It doesn't matter whether she's qualified to be a Supreme Court justice or not. It doesn't matter if the pick was for foolish, leftist reasons. The Democrats control the senate, no one can or for that matter would filibuster, so she's going to be confirmed. Our thoughts on the matter are utterly irrelevant, we aren't being represented, we're being ruled.

I'm just interested in using this as an experiment in thought manipulation and public relations by the legacy media, to see how much their "shaping" the story will affect polling data. So stay tuned.

Quote of the Day

"The one function TV news performs very well is that when there is no news we give it to you with the same emphasis as if there were."
-David Brinkley

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

Via Instapundit, I see this article by Conor Clarke entitled Why Are Women Better Off, But Less Happy?

I have a better question: why is it assumed that everyone should be happy? I'm serious, what about life teaches us that our natural or even preferred state is to be comfortable and happy and healthy? Why this assumption that something is wrong if anyone is unhappy, that we always ought to be happy? Some are even theorizing that shyness or not being perpetually peppy and joyful are mental illnesses. Why this presumption?

NO WORSE!

Related to my Tawdry post yesterday is this study released recently:
Youths exchanging nude photos of themselves over cellphones, known as "sexting," should not face child pornography charges, as some have in the United States, a humanities conference heard Tuesday.

Peter Cumming, an associate professor at York University in Toronto, presented a paper on children's sexuality at the 78th Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences defending the practice as a modern variation on "playing doctor or spin-the-bottle."
No worse than spin-the-bottle? I suppose that depends about what the kids are doing while playing spin the bottle. And you parents out there: you want kids doing that? Is that something kids do without being in secret and discuss or admit around adults?

That's like saying "its no worse than theft" as if theft isn't bad to begin with.

And again, we get the double standard: child porn somehow isn't bad if its voluntary and made by children.

VOODOO STIMULUS

"The American consumer led us out of previous recessions with some semblance of gusto. They're too old to do it now."

IRS Logo
Tax revenues are down, not a surprise to anyone because the economy is doing poorly. Unemployment is over 10% in some states (such as Oregon) and people are not getting raises, businesses are sheltering their money and even closing down parts to survive. That means less tax revenue, as this story in USA Today by John Waggoner points out. However, there's a line in here that just made my jaw drop in disbelief:
The White House thinks that tax revenue will increase in 2011, thanks in part to the stimulus package, says the report from AIER, an independent economic research institute.
I understand that the AIER isn't supporting or agreeing with this statement, and I understand that the White House wants to spin the "stimulus" package as best as possible but... let me see if I have this straight.
  • The US Government takes money from people
  • The US Government gives part of it back as "stimulus spending"
  • The US Government then taxes some of that money
And they think that's going to increase government revenues? But wait, there's another possible scenario:
  • The US Government pretends it has several trillion dollars which do not exist
  • The US Government gives people some of that money
  • The US Government then taxes a portion of that money
Well look, they've just created money! Except... printing money to hand to people equal in value to money that has been generated by a free economy. In fact, printing money without anything to back it is ultimately worth nothing. All it does is reduce the value of all the money already in the system by a portion equal to the amount printed. If you have 100 dollars worth 100 units of market effort and productivity then print 100 more worth nothing... all those dollars dropped in value.

So by printing money that is worthless, the US government is actually reducing the value of the dollar and further reducing tax revenues. The American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) also had this to say in response to the White House's absurd spin:
"Even if that does happen, the administration also projects that government spending will be so much higher each year that large deficits will continue, and the national debt held by the public will double over the next 10 years."
Even if, by some miracle, all economic and mathematical reality is defied and the stimulus package somehow increases government revenues... the resulting debt will erase any such gains by many many times over.

DR SANITY'S CHART

“Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.”
-Alexis de Tocqueville

Dr Sanity has written up an interesting article about the modern left and how they got to the place they are now - a realm of distorted madness almost wholly devoid of both reality and their original goals of helping the helpless and protecting the needy. The article looks at President Obama's earnest efforts to transform America into a leftist utopia, and wonders how we got from setting slaves free and seeing liberty to government control of car companies and laws against eating too much.
The intellectuals of the left have been unable to abandon their totalitarian/collectivist ideology, even after communism and national socialism proved to be crushing failures in the 20th century. But the new face of their same old tired ideas has been rehabilitated and madeover by their clever adoption of postmodern metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. Slowly, but relentlessly, the dogma of multiculturalism and political correctness has been absorbed at all levels of Western culture in the last two decades--and after the end of the cold war, it has been accelerating. Slowly but relentlessly they have found new ways to discredit freedom, individuality and capitalism.
The chart that accompanies this article is a useful examination of the last 100 years or so of American history:
Leftist ChartThis does a good job of showing the step by step failure to transform the world into an ideal utopia envisioned by the academic left. Marxism was a failure, because his theory that the masses would revolt was utterly false. His prediction that capitalism would inevitably collapse as an unsustainable system was completely in error. Undaunted, Lenin and Mao decided they'd push the process along and forced revolution, leading the masses to overthrow capitalism. However, both were miserable failures in bringing their goals to being. Over 200 million corpses piled up as they tried to achieve utopia. So the left changed their concept again. Instead of revolution by force, they'd try revolution by ideology. And that's where we are now, steadily losing liberty and watching the leftist ideal fail once more.

The above chart comes from a Stephen Hick called Explaining Postmodernism and it contains a lot of jargon that isn't explained by Dr Sanity so I thought it would be useful to go through a few terms here. From top to bottom here are some of the terms and what they mean:
MARXISM - Karl Marx' theories, also called communism. All goods are held collectively by all people, who contribute for the good of the whole without need of compensation. All people are considered equals, with no one in authority over another. Decisions are made by the collective masses.

SOCIALISM - The precursor to communism in Marx' theories. Services and industry are owned or controlled by the government, all people work for the state. A powerful central government oversees and regulates aspects of life and society.

INDUSTRIAL SOCIALISM - Groups of similar industry and services form unions or collectives which work together toward shared goals of production and activity. These groups are controlled or overseen and regulated by the central government. This is primarily driven by academics and cities which control the system.

AGRARIAN SOCIALISM - Primarily driven by agrarian and farming communities, and intended for less developed nations. Farms are collectives controlled by the government (although allegedly owned by the farmers) which over time allow the nation to develop to greater sophistication.

ETHICS - the study of right and wrong not as people perceive it but as it ought to be understood by all.
Ethics are objectively what people should be doing, morals are what they believe they should be doing.

EPISTEMOLOGY - The study of how we know and understand.

POST MODERNISM - The philosophical movement that replaced modernism. Truth, beauty, and goodness are all relative. We cannot know anything to any degree of certainty, so we can only know what our "narrative" (our culture, upbringing, and ethnic background) teaches us. All narratives are equally valid.

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS - The principle that all people should be polite and not give offense to anyone, that hurting someone's self esteem is worse than lying or being wrong. The idea that self-worth trumps almost all other goals. Anyone who is dominant or in the majority necessarily oppresses the minority.

MULTICULTURALISM - All cultures are functionally equivalent and deserve equal respect, except western culture which is dominant and thus oppressive.

ENVIRONMENTALISM - Technology and modern developments are damaging to the world and thus the people living in it. Human beings are no more than animals, yet because of our superior intelligence are at fault for any damage done to other creatures and ethically inferior to animals.
What is ultimately missing from all this is a philosophical basis for ethics. The left has no basis for their worldview other than an earnest belief that what they are doing is right. They simply assert that it is bad to do some things and good to do others, while rejecting the principle of objective, absolute ethics. So they say nobody can insist that one way of right and wrong is true for everyone... then insist that their idea is true for everyone.

The Leninist and Maoist systems of leftism failed, but they took decades to do so. True, they were clearly failures early on, but their supporters blamed the west, blamed poor leadership, blamed the climate, blamed war, blamed everyone but their ideas and themselves. It took massive, overwhelming failure at the cost of hundreds of millions of deaths and many times that living in misery before it was finally admitted a failure.

The left's present approach is a failure as well for those who view it objectively and logically, but how far must the misery or even the deaths go before that failure is admitted? And what next new idea will the left follow, ever insistent that doing the same thing over and over and failing is not a sign of insanity?

Quote of the Day

"In this sense your union ought to be considered as a main support of your liberty, and that the love of one another ought to endear to you the preservation of one another."
-George Washington

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

TAWDRY

"Mortal lovers must not try to remain at the first step; for lasting passion is the dream of a harlot and from it we wake in despair."
-C. S. Lewis, The Pilgrim's Regress

One of the more frustrating things for me online is when the topic of teenagers having sex or taking pictures of each other (or themselves) nude or engaging in sex. Because many people on "conservative" blogs and websites are actually libertarian - small government social leftists - they either see no problem with this happening or think the law does not apply.

The problem is, if it is illegal to take pictures or movies of underage kids then it is illegal no matter who does it. It doesn't somehow suddenly become okay because two high school kids videotaped themselves engaging in sexual acts because it was consensual and they are kids. I know that at least part of this comes from the "bro, I did it when I was their age" mentality, so they don't want others to suffer doing the same things they did. They are trying to avoid hypocrisy, and so avoid ethics entirely.

Take this story from the US. A 14 year old girl took dozens of explicit naked pictures of herself and posted them on her MySpace site - not exactly a rarity, from what I've read. Chloe Lake reports at News.Com:
The New Jersey case is the latest in a series of legal wrangles surrounding teenagers’ use of mobiles and the internet.

In a separate case, three teenage girls are suing a US prosecutor who accused them of peddling "child pornography" after semi-nude pictures of them were sent by phone to friends.
The ACLU response was predictable. People must be free to do anything whatsoever they choose, no matter what - especially when it comes to sex. The law requires sex offenders of this type (child porn) to face jail time and be on sex offender databases. The money quote, though, is this one:
"That's a heck of a lesson for a kid who probably doesn't even realize she is doing something wrong."
They don't know what they're doing is wrong? I can believe that perhaps they might not be aware this is illegal, but what girl is being brought up unaware that sending naked pictures of themselves to people on the internet isn't wrong? Its one thing to say they are unaware of the law - that's no excuse, but it might be true. It is another entirely to expect people to believe that girls don't know its wrong to do this. Their parents would be upset for a variety of reasons, that's why they do it in secret. They know it's wrong, they just don't necessarily know why or trust that judgment.

Yet if you bring this up, inevitably people start calling you names, treating you like some extremist. Because you want the law to be consistently enforced. There are cases of literally teenagers making porn and selling it. Underage kids, filming themselves, then selling the movies. That's suddenly not child porn to some, because well the kids did it themselves, it was consensual - the magic term that suddenly makes everything okay. Child porn has a very simple definition: Pornography involving people under the legal age limit. By anyone.

Some argue "well then you can't take a picture of your baby in the bath!!" Which is not just deliberately deceptive, but childish. If you think a picture of one's own child in a bathtub is porn, you are a very, very sick individual.

Again, this comes down to a simple argument, even if people deny it to themselves. It is that people want to do whatever they choose sexually without anyone making them feel guilty or being told it is wrong. Sex without consequence or meaning, sex without any purpose, stripped of its significance into a brutish, animal act.

I know why. Sex is a momentary, temporary escape from life. It transports you to a split second of glory, of what we all know we were meant to be, it helps us escape the emptiness we feel and feel wanted, important, meaningful, loved, and safe. So like a junkie grabbing the needle with shaking, sickly hands, people crawl after sex for that comforting womb away from life. I understand. The problem is sex is more significant and important than your fix to feel better. It is that powerful and transcendent for a reason. Not just to feel good but for a specific, important purpose that is bigger than you.

Sex is to bring two people who are separate and flawed together into being one person, it is to make the separate halves whole, and give a vision of what can be and ought to be. It is something greater than the pathetic, scrambling selfishness that our culture has reduced it to. When people argued that sex should wait for marriage they weren't doing so because they were mean or were trying to keep you from having fun. They were trying to keep you from ruining what is glorious and wonderful. They were trying to help you comprehend what is appropriate.

So don't stomp your foot and scream "I want it!" like a two year old. Don't call me a prude or an idiot or a freak for insisting people wait, don't act like I am afraid of or don't want sex. I want lots and lots of it, as often as possible. With one person. Forever. In a marriage. Because I want it to be what it is supposed to be. Anyone in American can testify in an instant that getting what you want as much as you want it makes it not nearly as good as it was or you dreamed it would be. And getting something cheaply or without meaning makes it even worse.

KID BID?

"It was... the kid, yeah, that's it."

A three year old named Pipi managed to log on to daddy's computer in New Zealand. She bid on a Lego set of a machine and managed to win! Except.. it wasn't Lego.

When her mother, Sarah Quinlan, woke up and logged onto the computer, she thought the successful bid was for some Lego she wanted to buy.

But then she saw the price of the "Lego".

"It wasn't until I went back and re-read the emails that I saw $NZ20,000, and got the shock of my life," Ms Quinlan told the Times.

"I called my husband Reid over to make sure I wasn't seeing things.

"I asked him what a Kobelco was and he said 'I think it's an earthmoving digger'."

The company canceled the bid and refunded the money, so the story goes. Except I have to wonder. What's more likely: dad got ripped on cheap vodka and ordered an earth mover because it's so cool, or a 3 year old girl hacked daddy's computer, got onto an auction site, and successfully bid on the machine? I mean it makes a neat story and it worked to get the auction canceled but... seriously? A 3 year old?

CHASING AWAY DOLLARS

"Avoid likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear."
-George Washington's farewell address

Last week I wrote about taxes and what happens in states that heavily tax the wealthy to pay for their overspending. New Jersey, for instance, is bleeding millionaires. The Wall Street Journal today has an article supporting this point:
Maryland couldn't balance its budget last year, so the state tried to close the shortfall by fleecing the wealthy. Politicians in Annapolis created a millionaire tax bracket, raising the top marginal income-tax rate to 6.25%. And because cities such as Baltimore and Bethesda also impose income taxes, the state-local tax rate can go as high as 9.45%. Governor Martin O'Malley, a dedicated class warrior, declared that these richest 0.3% of filers were "willing and able to pay their fair share." The Baltimore Sun predicted the rich would "grin and bear it."

One year later, nobody's grinning. One-third of the millionaires have disappeared from Maryland tax rolls. In 2008 roughly 3,000 million-dollar income tax returns were filed by the end of April. This year there were 2,000, which the state comptroller's office concedes is a "substantial decline." On those missing returns, the government collects 6.25% of nothing. Instead of the state coffers gaining the extra $106 million the politicians predicted, millionaires paid $100 million less in taxes than they did last year -- even at higher rates.
The recession probably claimed a few of those millionaires. Moving to a state which does not tax so heavily probably claimed most of them. After all: if you had the means to get away from heavier taxation, wouldn't you? People don't get rich by spending money, and they don't stay rich by having it taken away.

In principle, in a childish sort of way, it seems obvious: these people have lots of money, they can afford to pay more. We are in debt. Well, let's just take more from those rich folks! Except rich folks have resources that will let them avoid those taxes. Tax people beyond a certain point and they leave. So you get nothing from them, not even that extra percentage. Is that really a surprise? It is to simplistic politicians and their equally simplistic supporters.

Quote of the Day

"An ostentatious man will rather relate a blunder or an absurdity he has committed, than be debarred from talking of his own dear person."
-Joseph Addison

Monday, May 25, 2009

MEMORIAL SALUTE

Its Memorial day in the US. Remember the men who went through this




So that we have the freedom and safety do do this




Remember those who have gone before and those who have paid the ultimate price so that we don't have to.

A QUICK NOTE

The federal reserve cannot account for nine trillion dollars of transactions. That's not new, these are transactions going back years. Can't find them on the balance sheet, cannot find records of them. Check out the video at Zero Hedge for more.

Now consider that fact and add onto it two more trillion dollars of spending with almost zero accountability and almost zero transparency despite promises of it being carefully monitored. Chances are if you're an American, you voted for these guys. Remember that.

TEXT SLANG

"OMG Madison's BF is CO$, YNK with SNAGs!"
"BTDTGTS"

Texting Teen
I've written a few times in the past about texting and modern slang, particularly abbreviations which need to be explained to most people (and thus lose their purpose as an abbreviation). Some are a bit more well known and thus function in the real world (LOL), others are a bit more obscure such as AFAIK or OTOH. But because texting involves tiny awkward keyboards and screens, it is littered with these abbreviations or code words. One recent advertisement had a child who communicated with her mom largely in these abbreviations (BFF Jill) although it wasn't terribly effective ad because I can't even remember what the product was, let alone the company.

Netlingo recently released a handy list of terms every parent should know from texting and chat - sadly the kids who get a full keyboard and 20" flatscreen computer monitor still use this slang like a retarded monkey who thinks he has to do tricks to get bananas from a banana tree. Having found some popularity with this list, they did 50 more as well.

The terms include such gems as
143 - I love you
420 - Marijuana
AITR - Adult In The Room
ASL - Age/Sex/Location
AWGTHTGTTA - Are We Going To Have To Go Through This Again
CD9 - Code 9 - it means parents are around
GNOC - Get Naked On Cam
GYPO - Get Your Pants Off
KFY -or- K4Y - Kiss For You
KPC - Keeping Parents Clueless
NALOPKT - Not A Lot Of People Know That
PAL - Parents Are Listening
PAW - Parents Are Watching
PIR - Parent In Room
POS - Parent Over Shoulder -or- Piece Of Sh**
SOHF - Sense Of Humor Failure
WYRN - What's Your Real Name?
There's a huge language out there being built up with these devices that parents know next to nothing about. Add that to the cameras and a culture that not just ignores, but encourages teen shared nudity and sex and there can be real problems, such as with LMIRL - Let's Meet In Real Life. Kids rarely have the wisdom or life experience to be cautious or skeptical when they ought to and that can lead to problems when a predator comes along - their age or not.

Netlingo has a gigantic list of these text terms, and some aren't so troubling or are even adapted from real life, such as 86 (originally a military term used in text for "out of, over, to get rid of, or kicked out"). Some are from positive cultural influences such as ALOTBSOL - Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life from an old time song used in Oh Brother Where Art Thou. Some are old idioms such as the absurdly long ABITHIWTITBA Bird In The Hand Is Worth Two In The Bush. Some are kind of funny in a cultural direction: ACORN - A Completely Obsessive Really Nutty person. Try that on, ACORN.

One that particularly amuses me in a bitter, Idiocracy sort of way is ALOL - Actually Laughing Out Loud. See, when people use LOL they almost never are really laughing out loud, let alone rolling on the floor when they ROFL. So they came up with another acronym that covers when you really are doing it.

The thing is, I'm fascinated with old, genuine slang such as Thieves Cant, and this texting slang is along those same lines: a false language created to be able to communicate in front of authorities without letting them know what you're talking about. At the same time, that's not a good thing. Even if the reason for this code is mere embarrassment and teenage insecurity, it still isn't necessarily a good thing for adults to be clueless about what you're saying and doing. Teenagers need some independence and freedom because they're transitioning into independent adulthood, but they still are children and require guidance, teaching, and leadership which parents cannot give if they are clueless what their kids are doing and saying.

I suspect most parents know far more about what their kids do and what they are saying even in code than the teens believe or hope. I just wish parents were more restrictive about texting and phones were more restricted in culture and schools. Nobody needs to take the fool thing with them all day, and if a teen thinks they have to use a code to talk, chances are they're saying something they probably ought not to be saying.

Before I finish this, though, it would be good to give some statistics. According to the Washington Post, teens with a cell phone average 2,272 text messages per month. Despite having a functional telephone in their hands, the phone calls made are significantly lower: 63 a month on average. A full time job takes 40 hours a week, but the average UK teen spends 31 hours a week online.

Phone customers send 75 billion text messages a month, or more than twelve messages per human being on the planet every month. The most avid texters are aged 13 to 17. Mimi Ito, University of California at Irvine professor, says this is teens "sharing a sense of co-presence. It can be a very socially affirming thing." Which is academic speech vomit for "kids feel closer and more liked if they text a lot."

In typical teenage girl exaggeration, Julie Zingeser is quoted in the Washington Post article "I would die without it." Yet when I grew up we avoided the telephone as much as possible because we were playing outside. Kids with strong fingers and big rear ends is what results from this, with an atrophied sense of spelling and linguistic skills. Usually writing a lot makes you better with language, but in this case, it isn't writing so much as scribbling graffiti and the linguistic improvements - if any - are in a bizarre special code.

A professor of linguistics at American University points out another problem with this connectivity:
"It is part of a larger phenomenon of where is your mind, and if your mind is always on your phone, it's not on other things."

There is a cost when people multitask -- "a kind of a mental brownout," said Meyer, the professor at the University of Michigan. If a teenager is reading Shakespeare when a text message interrupts, "Hamlet's going to fade in and out in a ghostly fog."

The problem, he said, is "you're not truly time-sharing. You're flitting back and forth, and the flitting itself is taking processing capacity."
Unless strict cell phone discipline is used, most people who deal with teens are aware of this: everyone and everything is 100% second place to the phone. And its not just teens, adults do it too. When that text tone goes off, well everything goes on hold to see what brilliant new line has been sent. The phone was bad enough with people leaping up to rush to the device when it rings, but texting has taken it even further.

And this need to instantly get what you want: information, the next clever line by someone and be heard by people no matter what inane things you have to say (hello Twitter) simply feeds into the soaring ego and self-focus of western culture. The 70s were the "me generation" because never before had people been so self confident and narcissistic. Muhammad Ali's "I'm the greatest" statement sounded like the most arrogant thing on earth. Even as late as 1991 Ricky Henderson's "I am the greatest of all-time" was shockingly egotistical sounding.

ComedianGreg Giraldo puts it this way:
Now you go on My Space, every @#(*!in' zit faced 20 year old is taking self portraits:
"look I'm the hottest @#!^#(!*er ever, look at me!
"
Feeding that tendency in kids already brought up getting awards for mundane and required tasks, or "coming in second" in a softball game is not exactly healthy for their self esteem. Because proper self esteem recognizes our relative worth and the worth of others, it doesn't build us up to absurd heights of ego and self importance.

Texting isn't some vast evil, but it's out of control and parents would be well served to keep an eye on what their kids are doing, limit how much they can do it, and consider that maybe they're going too far as well.

Quote of the Day

"If God lived on earth, people would break his windows."
-Jewish Proverb

Friday, May 22, 2009

OTV

"This is no different than hauling teleprompters everywhere and staging his press conferences so that he knows the questions in advance."

OTV
That's what Jake Tapper calls it: OTV, Obama Television. That's what happens when the President visits the University of Connecticut Lady Huskies, who had just won the NCAA women’s basketball championship. He banned the press, took his own cameras, and they assembled a video to release to the press. Jake Tapper explains:
Reads the print pool report from that day: "After shaking hands with the team's parents and members of Congress who showed up, the president walked the team over to his basketball court and shot hoops. The pool was held back from the stroll down the drive and around the corner, and couldn't see the court. Poolers could hear periodic cheering coming from the other side of the bushes."

Read the TV pool report: "Your Pool was not allowed to go over and shoot POTUS with the team shooting hoops. We protested loudly." Now we know why: Obama White House officials decided to do their own media report on the visit, complete with cuts, interviews, and chyrons identifying who's speaking.

Also, just like a network, they have their own little logo!
Jake Tapper asks "Do Obama White House officials think their media coverage isn’t flattering enough?" And that's a good question.

This week, former vice president Dick Cheney made a speech criticizing the media, the Democrats, and the president for their rhetoric and actions regarding the War on Terror and CIA questioning of terrorists. President Obama responded. A caller to the Rush Limbaugh Show said it sounded like the Democratic Party response to a presidential speech. Others thought it was long, rambling, and boring. The AP disagreed:
WASHINGTON — In soaring rhetoric, Barack Obama ran through his logic for closing the Guantanamo Bay prison...

Obama slid easily back into his role as constitutional scholar, gliding through a long, carefully reasoned brief in the rotunda of the storied National Archives on Thursday.
...
In the company of original copies of the Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights, Obama stood firm behind his decision...
...
There is a noisy backlash — mainly fueled by Republicans' relentless criticism of Obama's plans...
The entire article's thesis was that President Obama was placing himself in the middle, not too extreme, just right! The thing is, as the second quote of the day points out, President Obama is doing all the things President Bush did to fight terror before. He's listening in on terrorist phone calls, holding enemy combatants indefinitely and using military tribunals rather than civil trials, he's using unarmed planes to bomb Taliban and terrorist sites, he's even said that coercive questioning techniques including waterboarding can be used in times of great need.

So what he's saying is that this is all bad, but what he's doing shows he thinks its all good. And the AP, writing what is meant to be an analysis of the speech but is instead a disgustingly obsequious paen to Obama, thinks that's taking the middle ground.

And President Obama still doesn't think that's friendly enough, so he has to make his own special video of special events rather than let the press in. Because this isn't just about a flattering narrative, it's about control.
*Hat Tip to Ace of Spades HQ and Protein Wisdom for these stories

Second Quote of the Day

“Barack Obama inherited a set of national-security policies that he rejected during the campaign but now embraces as president. This is a stunning and welcome about-face.”
-Karl Rove

SON OF CHEAP PICTURE POST

Its cheap picture post time again! I get these from all over the internet, such as Break.com, there are dozens of sites specifically made for funny images and faux motivational posters. Sometimes the internet is just for fun.










NEWSPAPERS TAKE WARNING

"No matter what you try, no matter when, where... I'll always be a head of you for one simple reason... I own you"
-Dexter

See if you can follow this chain of logic:
Platinum relies on a $30-million investment from the pension fund of Los Angeles police officers and fire fighters, along with large sums from other public-employee pension systems around the state, to help fund its acquisitions of companies. As League President Paul M. Weber views it, that makes the League part owner in the flagging Tribune and League officials are none to happy with the paper’s consistent position that San Diego lawmakers should cut back on salaries and benefits for public employees in order to help close gaping budget deficits.

"Since the very public employees they continually criticize are now their owners, we strongly believe that those who currently run the editorial pages should be replaced," Weber wrote in a March 26 letter to Platinum CEO Tom Gores.
See, it works like this: Platinum Equity owns the San Diego Union-Tribune. Platinum Equity relies heavily on the investment from the LA Police and Fire Fighters pension funds. Thus, they argue, these public employees effectively own the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Why does this matter? Because the Union-Tribune recently wrote about how the pension plans of these public employees and has been critical of the Public Employees unions. They also wrote about how the pension fund is in a serious crisis (at least a $2 million shortfall) due to poor management and more importantly possibly due to fraud by union leaders. The union leaders, angry at this report, are calling for those writers and editors to be fired at the Union Tribune.

They don't even own or run the newspaper, but they have a technical, third hand interest in the paper's finances and are demanding action taken because the paper wrote things they don't like.

Now. Anyone working at or owning a newspaper (granted, the chances of any of them reading this is slim to none): do you seriously want the government - a government that has proved it is more than willing to completely take over and run businesses it bails out - to bail you out or give you subsidies? Seriously? Are you kidding me?

The unions will fail here. Like the man said, never get into an argument with people who buy ink by the barrel. But the federal government? Just ask Chrysler or AIG how well that works out.