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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Monday, August 31, 2009

FACE THE NEWS

"I wonder if more people are cancelling their subscriptions to the New York Times than are leaving Facebook. "

Recently Sarah Palin used Facebook to move against the government health care plan. She used a tactic of the left by picking a section of the bill that most people would be disturbed by if they knew, and gave it a memorable, easy to pass on title: "Death Panels." The topic took off like wildfire, and despite being denied heavily, the section she referred to was actually removed from the Senate version of the bill.

Fast forward to last week, when the New York Times ran a news article on Facebook. It seems that, according to Virginia Heffernan, Facebook is dying:
Facebook, the online social grid, could not command loyalty forever. If you ask around, as I did, you’ll find quitters. One person shut down her account because she disliked how nosy it made her. Another thought the scene had turned desperate. A third feared stalkers. A fourth believed his privacy was compromised. A fifth disappeared without a word.

The exodus is not evident from the site’s overall numbers. According to comScore, Facebook attracted 87.7 million unique visitors in the United States in July. But while people are still joining Facebook and compulsively visiting the site, a small but noticeable group are fleeing — some of them ostentatiously.
The article cites a few people who say they left Facebook, some hilariously claiming it was as bad as North Korea. Most of them are revealed to be... Ms Heffernan's friends. As Infocult points out, this isn't journalism, it isn't even news. It's someone writing about what a few friends have to say and reality is completely opposed to the story's main thesis. Facebook is growing by leaps and bounds.

Why write such a wretched story? Well there are a few reasons. First and most obvious is the urge to kill an online site which not only allowed Sarah Palin's successful salvo against the government health care program (and probably refused to sanction her for it), but is one of the primary methods by which Tea Party gatherings and activities are arranged. That makes it the tool of the New York Times' enemies.

Second, Facebook is on the internet. Like the hated Craigslist which has destroyed newspaper classified advertising revenues, these internet sites are devastating to the legacy media. As a commenter points out, anything bad which might be related to Craigslist gets reported breathlessly nationwide, but does anyone really believe nothing bad ever happened as the result of a newspaper classified ad? The newspapers would never go out of their way to report such an action, but they sure do with Craigslist. It's the enemy, Facebook doubly so because of the recent Palin victory.

Third, as another commenter pointed out, the New York Times and the legacy media used to be the arbiters of culture and what was cool. What they said as the newspaper of record was how people would trend. The Internet and sites like Facebook have robbed that coolness factor and now the NYT is viewed as a foolish, stumbling relic by the young. Anger at losing their influence and power makes people lash out at the ones responsible. So we get this kind of writing.

I am not on Facebook, nor do I care to be. I have too much else to do and too little energy to do it already. Social media stuff doesn't interest me, and it is mostly for young people. Yet I can see how it would be effective for some businesses and personalities, as well as families to reach out with. And at least it doesn't pretend to be something it is not or shouldn't be.

Facebook is booming, the New York Times is dying. And this writer is a knucklehead who should have had the trash she wrote thrown in her face for being so awful.

LET THE GUILTY FREE

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.”
-Abraham Lincoln

Last week, among other news, I noted that the corruption "pay to play" charges against Governor Richardson had been dropped because of pressure from the Obama administration; the Associated Press recently carried a story which included these lines:
But the U.S. attorney says that doesn't exonerate the conduct of people involved.

U.S. Attorney Greg Fouratt made the comments in a letter sent to defense lawyers, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

Fouratt said a federal investigation "revealed pressure from the governor's office resulted in the corruption of the procurement process" in awarding state bond deal work to a Richardson political contributor.
Guilty, but not punished. That's getting to be a real pattern with the Obama administration. Here's one more example, in a different area. The story comes to us from AFP:
Two truck bombers who killed 95 people in devastating attacks on the Iraqi finance and foreign ministries were recently released from US custody, a senior interior ministry official said on Sunday.

"The suicide bomber who blew himself up at the ministry of foreign affairs was released three months ago from Camp Bucca," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity, referring to the US jail near Basra.

"The suicide bomber who blew himself up outside the ministry of finance was also released a few months ago from the same jail."
Under the Obama administration, more terrorists and terrorist suspects are being set free, and some of them are heading back out into the field to murder more people. Meanwhile, CIA agents who were not breaking the law, but were working hard to protect the American people as well as those around the world? They need to be prosecuted. Sure, the Investigator General found that the interrogation techniques worked. Sure the report proves Dick Cheney right and Nancy Pelosi a liar. But there's political hay to be made, and what matters is not justice, not truth, not honor, but power.

Funny thing, its the Republicans who are accused of using their power to enrich themselves and help their friends, but its the Democrats who are doing it.

SHADDAP AND PAY YER DUES

"When school children start paying union dues, that 's when I'll start representing the interests of school children."
-Albert Shanker head of Teachers Unions

It isn't all that often that Oregon is in the national news, but there's a story going around lately that ought to be. The Portland area, like all big cities, is run by the left which means trial lawyers, unions, and leftist activists have a huge say in how things are run and what is done. That means the government spends its money on pet projects and social engineering to the detriment of what it is supposed to be limited to, such as schools, roads, police, fire, etc.

The town of Clackamas is part of the Portland Metropolitan area, and like all of the city, it has budget problems which have gotten worse in this recession. One of the areas that is hard hit is the school district, which faced a choice: pay freezes or lay off teachers. Layoffs have begun, and Margy Lynch at KATU (ABC) television in Portland has the story:
A group of teachers in the North Clackamas School District took the initiative Thursday, amid losing their jobs because of budget cuts, by gathering signatures in an effort to have their voices heard by their union.

The teachers, who gathered outside their union office, said they want a response from the union and put their demands in writing in the form of a petition.

Those speaking out said it shouldn't have reached this point, and they would have accepted the district's offer, favoring a wage freeze to save jobs.

“We took a poll in the spring and they got our opinion and the majority said wage freeze,” said Monica Whiteley, who was laid off. “So I would like them to look at the poll or honor it and have us look at the memo of understanding that is out there.”
Got that? The teachers said they'd rather take a wage freeze than lose their jobs, which seems reasonable to me. The union refused, and so teachers are losing their jobs. The union, which is supposed to represent the teachers decided it knew better, went against their wishes, and cost the teachers their jobs.

This is not unique among unions, although this lack of concern about union members usually doesn't take this form. In this case the union would lose future revenues and dues from teachers so it fought to keep their pay raising in the assumption that employers always have an infinite source of income they hide away Scrooge-like from workers. Most often, this disregard comes in the form of how dues are spent.

The US Department of Labor has a section that oversees unions, the only watchdog these organizations have. Theoretically newspapers should be keeping an eye of unions, but they are almost completely in support of labor unions and will rarely if ever say anything negative about them (the above story an astounding exception), let alone attempt any sort of investigation. The Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) is a sort of Securities and Exchange Commission for labor, keeping an eye on how they spend their money, how they do business, and so on. Under President Bush, it was quite busy.

In 2007, the Democratic Party majority in congress decided they had finally found somewhere in the bloated federal government that they should cut: the OLMS. This is part of the reason that labor unions support Democrats exclusively and relentlessly: Democrats might tend to give us bad economies, but they give unions protection and limit transparency. Bad for the rank and file, good for the leadership of unions.

One of the things the OLMS does is makes sure that unions are not spending dues in political causes that the due payers dislike. Technically it is illegal for the unions to spend union dues on issues that an individual member does not support; in reality it is extremely hard and hazardous for one's employment to contest this. Part of the work of the OLMS was to fight that and protect the workers from their unions. In 2007 that part of the labor department budget was cut. Thanks to Warner Todd Huston at Right Wing News we learn that in 2009, the OLMS was told this:
NOTE:... Accordingly, OLMS will refrain from initiating enforcement actions against union officers and union employees based solely on the failure to file the report required by section 202 of the Labor-Management and Reporting Disclosure Act (LMRDA), 29 U.S.C. § 432, using the 2007 form, as long as individuals meet their statutorily-required filing obligation in some manner. OLMS will accept either the old Form LM-30 or the new one for purposes of this non-enforcement policy.
In normal English that means: if the Unions ignore workers who don't want their dues spent to help Democrats, ignore it and do not enforce the law. Because the Democrats are the party of the little guy, the party that is for the workers and against oppression. They're liberals which stands for those who love and defend liberty. Unless it gets in the way of a huge campaign donor.

This helps explain why the SEIU is so willing to send thugs to beat up and intimidate protesters opposed to government-run health care. They know who they can rely on to protect their interests - the leadership's, not the workers' - and they'll do whatever it takes to return that protection. Combine that with the huge pay off for union health care funds in the government health care bill and you've got a big monetary lever to tip the union thugs your way.

The unions all knew this, that's why they donated over 8 million dollars to the Obama campaign and instructed their members to vote for him - even stating openly that the only reason they might not is racism. And union members know this too, which is why unions are in rapid decline. Because people can vote to not be in a union, they're taking that opportunity and the unions are losing members, they have been for decades.

With Democrats controlling both houses of congress and the presidency in the US, the Unions have allies who will reverse the secret ballot laws which they previously fought so hard to get passed. Back when unions were weak and small, they wanted to protect people who voted for the unions by keeping their names secret. Now that unions are big and powerful (in money and influence, at least), they want to make sure the names of who votes for and against unions are well know and are open to intimidation by the union for not signing on. Democrats in congress want this passed but so far it hasn't gone far. Republicans would never pass such a plan.

So the unions march on, ignoring their membership, spending their money for huge houses and parties, supporting causes they have absolutely nothing to do with (the auto worker unions supporting abortion rallies?), and spending dues on things the rank and file oppose or disagree with. Because the unions have never really been primarily about the workers' rights. They've always been primarily about enriching the leadership and manipulating society and government toward the left. Worker's rights are a distant third, and even then only insofar as it advances the two primary goals.

Picture of the Day

What's wrong with this picture?

Smack this guy
Gawrsh, if there was just something I could attach to the front of my hat that would block out the sun's glare!*

*For best effect, imagine Goofy reading this line. Thanks to Eric for sending me this in an email.

Quote of the Day

“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”
-Thomas Jefferson

Friday, August 28, 2009

A KENNEDY THOUGHT

“Is now the time to remind everyone,” emails KP, “that Obama’s babysitters Ayers and Dohrm dedicated their communist manifesto to Robert Kennedy’s assassin, amongst others?”
-Shamelessly stolen from Tim Blair's blog.

ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST

*looks at ‘give a crap’ meter*

*taps glass*

Bugs and Elmer
In Oregon we have three major stations which play classical music: OPB radio (91.5 FM) the National Public Broadcasting station, KWAX Eugene whose FM location varies through repeaters around the state, and All Classical FM, also through various repeaters. Oregon is fairly unique in this, having so much classical music content on the air. Many states have no classical music radio, and as Edward Von Bear (aka Pooh) reports on Innocent Bystanders, Missouri just lost its last one:
Here in St. Louis, radio station KFUO-FM has been playing Classical Music, Opera, and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra for over six decades. Unfortunately for the station, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod owns it and needs to generate cash to fill major revenue shortfalls. So, guess what the Lutherans want to do to plug the gaps? Hold a tuna casserole dinner? Recruit new people into their re-education camps? Sell beer at their services? Charge ad revenue on certain commetning sites with the proceeds to get laundered back to the re-education camps? Sell the radio station? Ding, Ding, Ding! We have a winner. And the most depressing aspect of the sale? The buyer will probably not air Classical Music after they buy it, much to the dismay of many in town.
KFUO might be familiar to long-term readers of this blog, it is the station which originally ran Issues, Etc, then threw them off the air for more popular content. I guess that didn't work out for the station.

Classical Music is waning in popular interest. Part of the reason it was so popular in the past was that radio stations played a lot of classical music, and movies had a lot in their scores. Even music that wasn't specifically classical in movies was often strongly influenced or inspired by, even very similar in style. Then there were the cartoons.

Cartoons used a lot of classical music because it was much cheaper to put into the scores and was often very familiar to viewers. Juxtaposing the serious with the comical was an effective humorous technique, the music was the "straight guy" in essence, even going so far as to have a truncated Ring Cycle by Wagner for a classic, truly hilarious bugs bunny cartoon.

In the process, kids were exposed to a lot of classical music. They were immersed in the music while having lots of fun watching the funny cartoons, and learned not just that classical could be enjoyable but learned to understand and listen to it.

Because classical music is not something you can just pick up and listen to like the latest top 40 hit. It is immensely more complex, sophisticated, and subtle. Instead of one driving beat and one key, instead of one rhythmic pace and volume, the classical music piece tends to have significantly more variety. In fact, its difficult to listen to a lot of classical music in many settings because in order to hear the soft parts you have to turn it up so loud the loud parts blow your eardrums. That's because it's not background music. You don't play it to have something going on behind you, you play it to listen to. And that's a different sort of creature entirely.

Most popular music creates and sustains a mood, while classical moves through various moods and emotions while building a cohesive whole. You can turn on the latest Coldplay and listen to a song and get all it has to say. Classical music really needs to be listened to in its entirety to really understand and get all it has to say. Like baseball which is slower and more pastoral than Football's segmented, explosive action, classical music requires patience and time to learn. Patience modern people lack, and time they aren't willing to give. If you can't get to the punchline in at most 3 minutes, you've lost most listeners.

So while many people recognize small bits of very famous songs such as Beethoven's 9th and the 1812 Overture, they don't know most of the song and cannot recognize them until it gets to the familiar part. Most people know the William Tell overture when it gets to the Lone Ranger part, but before that its just pretty music that's uncertain.

So classical music is dying as a popular art form. It will always have listeners and people who love it, but its not as big as it once was. Like baseball which hit the height of its popularity in the 1960s, classical music is on the wane because its not exciting, fast, and easy enough. And the radio stations which might keep this alive are dying one by one.

If you want a listen, All Classical is great and is available online to listen to 24 hours a day around the globe over the internet. Give it a try some time - I recommend earphones to get the full enjoyment. If you can't quite "get into it" find someone who loves and understands classical music to sit with and talk it over. Sort of like baseball: once you get past that initial uncertainty, its a world of difference.

CHOCOLATE CITY

"The view that the times are too serious to stand on the sidelines is absolutely correct from the perspective of a black mayor at all cost."

A southern city is struggling with a scandal regarding the Mayoral election right now. It turns out a white guy put out a memo saying that the government had to work to make sure the mayor stays white - that losing that position to a black mayor would hurt their agenda, while retaining a white one would "better enable us to have our interests respected by and our influence realized in any administration."

Wait, I'm sorry I read that wrong. Its black leaders putting out a memo trying to keep the mayoral office black and stop a white candidate from winning. My mistake. This is in Atlanta, and Jim Galloway at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

The material, which we include below, is said to be distributed by Aaron Turpeau, a long-time City Hall figure, on behalf of something called the Black Leadership Forum.

Turpeau argues that Council President Lisa Borders is the only candidate who can prevent the election of Councilwoman Mary Norwood as the first white mayor since Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell.

Well we can't have that can we? This is an odd bit of news to show the rank, angry racism by blacks which is every bit as pervasive and foolish as that on the part of whites - yet while whites abandoned official state sanctioned racism decades ago, blacks have gained that power and are using it for state sanctioned racism on their part.

Some call this "reverse racism" but that's foolish: there's only one kind of racism and that's treating someone differently based upon their ethnic background and appearance.

Some say this cannot be racism at all. The argument goes like this: racism is only possible by people in power, those who are authorities and have societal and governmental power to implement their bigotry and oppression. Black people, lacking this power, cannot then be racists, by definition.

Which is, of course, asinine: your attitude is racist whether or not you're able to implement those ideas with power. Just because you're powerless doesn't make you any less a hateful, idiotic bigot. But for the sake of argument, lets presume this fool's definition by academic pinheads is correct.

Tell me again how the blacks, who control state and local government in Georgia, lack the power to be racist? Tell me how it is that the people who control the Mayoral office and want to retain that power are unable to be racist, even by this idiotic standard?

By this point, having a white mayor in Atlanta would be a historical event, having had only black mayors for decades now. Seriously, if its racist to not have a black mayor just because they're a minority in an area, then its racist to not have a white one if they're a minority. How much more racist is it if the whites are the majority?

I'll close with the lyrics to Chocolate City by Parliament Funakdelic, the origin of the term used by Goofball mayor Ray Nagin in New Orleans:

Uh, what's happening CC?
They still call it the White House
But that's a temporary condition, too.
Can you dig it, CC?

To each his reach
And if I don't cop, it ain't mine to have
But I'll be reachin' for ya
'Cause I love ya, CC.
Right on.

There's a lot of chocolate cities, around
We've got Newark, we've got Gary
Somebody told me we got L.A.
And we're working on Atlanta
But you're the capital, CC

Gainin' on ya!
Get down
Gainin' on ya!
Movin' in and on ya
Gainin' on ya!
Can't you feel my breath, heh
Gainin' on ya!
All up around your neck, heh heh

Hey, CC!
They say your jivin' game, it can't be changed
But on the positive side,
You're my piece of the rock
And I love you, CC.
Can you dig it?

Hey, uh, we didn't get our forty acres and a mule
But we did get you, CC, heh, yeah
Gainin' on ya
Movin' in and around ya
God bless CC and its vanilla suburbs

Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya! (heh!)
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!
What's happening, blood?
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!

Yeah!
What's happening, black?
Brother black, blood even
Yeah-ahh, just funnin'

Gettin' down

Ah, blood to blood
Ah, players to ladies
The last percentage count was eighty
You don't need the bullet when you got the ballot
Are you up for the downstroke, CC?
Chocolate city
Are you with me out there?

And when they come to march on ya
Tell 'em to make sure they got their James Brown pass
And don't be surprised if Ali is in the White House
Reverend Ike, Secretary of the Treasure
Richard Pryor, Minister of Education
Stevie Wonder, Secretary of FINE arts
And Miss Aretha Franklin, the First Lady
Are you out there, CC?
A chocolate city is no dream
It's my piece of the rock and I dig you, CC
God bless Chocolate City and its (gainin' on ya!) vanilla suburbs
Can y'all get to that?
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!
Easin' in
Gainin' on ya!
In yo' stuff
Gainin' on ya!
Huh, can't get enough
Gainin' on ya!
Gainin' on ya!
Be mo' funk, be mo' funk
Gainin' on ya!
Can we funk you too
Gainin' on ya!
Right on, chocolate city!

Yeah, get deep
Real deep
Heh
Be mo' funk
Mmmph, heh
Get deep
Bad
Unh, heh
Just got New York, I'm told
*tip of the hat to Ace of Spades HQ for this story.

NEWS AROUND THE NET

"The congressman is confident there was no effort to hide anything."

Roses for Barry
First off from Patrick Courrielche at Big Hollywood we learn that the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is working with the artists it props up financially, encouraging them to make art that supports President Obama's policy plans such as Government Health Care.
The people running the conference call and rallying the group to get active on these issues were Yosi Sergant, the Director of Communications for the National Endowment for the Arts; Buffy Wicks, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement; Nell Abernathy, Director of Outreach for United We Serve; Thomas Bates, Vice President of Civic Engagement for Rock the Vote; and Michael Skolnik, Political Director for Russell Simmons.

We were encouraged to bring the same sense of enthusiasm to these “focus areas” as we had brought to Obama’s presidential campaign, and we were encouraged to create art and art initiatives that brought awareness to these issues. Throughout the conversation, we were reminded of our ability as artists and art professionals to “shape the lives” of those around us. The now famous Obama “Hope” poster, created by artist Shepard Fairey and promoted by many of those on the phone call, and will.i.am’s “Yes We Can” song and music video were presented as shining examples of our group’s clear role in the election.
I guess all those posts about Obama's campaign being eerily similar to government propaganda art in totalitarian countries wasn't so far off the mark. You wouldn't think the arts community - especially the parts begging at the NEA trough - would take much prodding to support President Obama.

Then over to Right Wing News courtesy Bookworm, we learn that the British bank Lloyds TSB has a new policy:
Many Lloyds TSB customers are being hit with charges of up to £200 a month if they go into the red - while Muslims who use the bank are only being charged £15.

The part-nationalised bank has been accused of religious discrimination over the disparity between overdraft charges on its standard current account and its Islamic account.

The Islamic account was set up by the high street bank to attract Muslim customers by allowing them to keep faithful to their religion.
Similar to the Sharia Banking scheme developed in Australia, this one has a critical difference: the Islamic lending rules are only available to "customers who cannot receive credit or debit interest due to their religious beliefs." Ordinary customers must effectively subsidize Muslim customers.

At Michelle Malkin we find a report on the most recent of fakes and frauds in the Government Health Care debate:
So, the latest case of so-called progressives vandalizing a Democrat headquarters in Denver comes as no surprise. And neither does the initial attempt by Colorado Democrats to blame “hate” by “the other side” and to shamelessly tie the crime to town hall protesters.
So far the lies have ranged from fake doctors to fake right-wing attacks, to fake white men carrying guns. People wearing Obama is a nazi shirts and posters have been revealed to either be left-leaning LaRouche supporters or actual liberals themselves. And meanwhile, the congressmen holding these Town Hall meetings have started demanding people show ID proof they live in the district... even while opposing ID proof people are who they say they are when voting. Want to say something to a lofty congressman, daring to disagree? You need proof. Want to vote for that congressman? Oh who cares if you're a legal citizen or have voted already this election.

Thomas M DeFrank at the Daily News reports that crooked Senator Charles Rangel (D-NY) was slightly less than forthcoming in his financial statements:
Rep. Charles Rangel is at least twice as wealthy as he originally reported, according to a corrected financial disclosure form the Manhattan congressman recently filed with the House of Representatives.

Rangel's amended disclosure statement for 2007 reports new assets worth between $647,000 and $1.38 million. That raises the value of his holdings to between $1.03 million and $2.95 million.

Assets missing from Rangel's original 2007 disclosure, filed in May 2008, include a Congressional Federal Credit Union IRA worth between $250,001 and $500,000; four mutual fund accounts worth between $365,004 and $750,000, and PepsiCo and Yum! Brands stock valued between $16,002 and $65,000.
But he means well. Rangel is under investigation by the ethics committee, who will no doubt get to the bottom of all this and issue severe penalties like they didn't against corrupt congressmen such as Christopher Dodd (D-CT) in the Countrywide scandal.

Speaking of corrupt politicians, Governor Richardson in New Mexico dropped out of a nomination to President Obama's cabinet (one of almost two dozen fails) because of corruption charges. Well, according to Barry Massey at the Associated Press, that investigation has been dropped. Because he's not guilty? Not exactly:
The decision not to pursue indictments was made by top Justice Department officials, according to a person familiar with the investigation, who asked not to be identified because federal officials had not disclosed results of the probe.

"It's over. There's nothing. It was killed in Washington," the person told The Associated Press.

Attorney General Holder continues his fine tradition of protecting his friends from prosecution.


Its a bit old because I was holding on to the story to use in something else, but that something else never came up. President Obama has decided to fund and allow offshore drilling for oil... in Brazil. Drilling offshore the US still is banned for the US, although Cuban drilling has begun not far off Florida's coast. Gateway Pundit reports that not only is the $2 billion deal going to help Brazil drill for oil but it was finalized only after Obama supporter and radical leftist billionaire George Soros was put on the board of directors of Petrobras. I'm sure there's no connecton.

David Freddoso at the Examiner wrote recently about federal spending in an area you might not be aware of. Sure, the US is trillions of dollars in debt, sure the spending has skyrocketed everywhere in the federal goverment except the military (which faces cuts, shockingly), sure the tax revenues are at a low not seen for half a century. But there'a always money for feds:
You may have read recently about the Social Security Administration's big boondoggle in Arizona. The administration, whose solvency is in dire condition, spent about $770,000 in early July to send, put up, and dazzle 675 of its managers with a multimedia presentation at the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. The three-day conference included private dance recitals, paid motivational speakers, and an optional, non-government-funded casino trip, according to an investigation by a local Phoenix television station. (According to the report, a Social Security official described the gathering as a way for employees to reduce stress after a number of death threats against them.)
...
For last August's BIG conference, the Department of Justice alone spent $288,000 to send 162 employees, according to agency information compiled by Republicans on the Senate Federal Financial Management Subcommittee. (DOJ was frugal -- in 2006, the State Department had spent $280,000 to send just 65 employees to BIG's conference.)

The 2008 event took place in New Orleans, and the keynote speaker was the recently indicted (and since convicted) Rep. William Jefferson, D-La. Some of the 2008 workshops taught bureaucrats to navigate the bureaucracy, and are at least sort of related to training for government work -- for example, "How to Win" when suing the government through an Equal Employment Opportunity complaint, or "How to Succeed (get Promoted) in Government." Many were self-help workshops on personal finance, maintaining one's credit rating, and "Starting Your Own Business Using Government Money/Buying Investment Properties."

There's more at the original story. A lot more. And you're paying for it - at least you were, before the federal budget exploded to an almost inconceivable level. Now they're just printing money to pay for it. From paying off school loans to junkets to hot spots around the world, its a good life if you're in the federal government.

When Ronald Reagan was president I remember well the hysterical cries about the "homeless" (the new, less judgmental name given bums by the PC). It was his heartless policies and cruel trickle down economics that resulted in so many good, decent, ordinary people being without a home! I wonder, according to those folks, what's causing the increase in homelessness under President Obama?
According to a Washington count of the homeless this year, Cali is one of about 6,200 homeless adults and children on the streets of the District of Columbia, an increase of nearly 7.5 percent since 2007.

The nation's capital has one of the worst chronic homelessness problems in the nation and almost triple the number of homeless per 10,000 people as the national average, according to 2007 statistics from the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

Leila Fadel at McClatchy also reports that there's stimulus money on the way to help people on the streets, but it hasn't gotten to them yet. And a one-time bunch of cash won't turn things around for these people.

Darleen posting at Protein Wisdom noticed something funny in a Swedish newspaper:

A top Swedish newspaper is updating an old, vicious blood libel by claiming
A leading Swedish newspaper reported this week that Israeli soldiers are abducting Palestinians in order to steal their organs, a claim that prompted furious condemnation and accusations of anti-Semitic blood libel from a rival publication.

“They plunder the organs of our sons,” read the headline in Sweden’s largest daily newspaper, the left-leaning Aftonbladet, which devoted a double spread in its cultural section to the article.
Never fear, though, the Swedish government reacted by not condemning the article. Boldly, though, they were quick to condemn the cartoons of Muhammad ran in a Danish newspaper. They know who to fear and who not to, when was the last time Jews rioted in Europe and cut peoples' heads off for YouTube?

Child BrideAnd finally in Russia, two woman have been arrested for trying to sell their daughters' virginities online. One was sixteen and the other, for a bid of $12,000, was 13. Pravda reports:
Both mothers confessed later, that they had been first shocked by such offers. They could not even imagine that one night of sex could cost so much. The mother of 16-year-old, named only as Polina, personally brought her daughter to the client for the sake of money.

Maria G. even claimed that if she were not so old, she would restore her own virginity and put it up for sale.

Maria says that she needed that money to pay her debts. She was also going to save a part of the sum as a marriage dowry for her daughter’s future wedding.

Well good thing she's thinking of her daughter.

BUT ITS GOOD FOR YOU!

"In short, the difference between Christianity and modern liberalism is the difference between donating to the Salvation Army and being robbed on the way there."
-hitnrun

Health care has long been a concern of the left, even in the 1970s it was an issue they were pushing to put under government control on the demented principle that government handles things best. A solution that was developed (by Democrats, led by Senator Kennedy), was the HMO, which was so woefully awful that it now is completely mocked by all - including the left - and considered a disaster that actually led to higher health care prices.

Its been a bit since I've posted on the biofuel debacle, a foolish experiment that's gone so bad it nearly has made a full circle like HMOs have. Now even many on the left reject the concept of biofuel, but the subsidies are in place and it is nearly impossible to eliminate existing government spending.

The US is producing a fair amount of biofuel instead of food crops - which worldwide is leading to food shortages, as I've noted before - but the fuel isn't being used. Ann Davis and Russel Gold at the Wall Street Journal have a report (subscription required to read the whole thing):
Two-thirds of U.S. biodiesel production capacity now sits unused, reports the National Biodiesel Board. Biodiesel, a crucial part of government efforts to develop alternative fuels for trucks and factories, has been hit hard by the recession and falling oil prices.
Essentially, the product is unwanted and is too expensive compared to regular fuel (even with the government subsidies) and people don't care to pay more. The entire exercise was a failure from the start, a failure clearly warned against by scientists and pundits, but congress simply ignored all that. In 2006 when the Democrats took control of congress, they pushed through subsidies to pay farmers to not grow food, but grow plants to turn into fuel instead.

The resulting food shortages are being called proof of overpopulation by the ignorant and willfully foolish, but all they are is an inevitable consequence of foolish policy set by the well-meaning but essentially unready for the power they have been given. Until the left grows up, they should not be given the power to do any more damage than they already have.

Quote of the Day

“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
-Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, August 27, 2009

KYOOT PICTURE OF THE DAY

awwww
Bonus points if you don't say "awwww."

ESR UNTRIUMPH

"If I was to tell you that experimenting on unborn babies will be considered enlightened, you would call me mad."

ESR Victim
When I've written about stem cell research in the past I've noted that there has never yet been any successful treatment developed out of embryonic stem cell research. I left out a few reports because they were obscure and not actually being used openly on patients yet, and one of those was from South Korea by a doctor named Hwang Woo-suk. His research team claimed that using embryonic stem cells, they had managed to clone these vital building blocks tailored to a specific patient. This would have been a massive breakthrough in the science, and would have gone a long ways to justifying the billions spent on Embryonic Stem cell Research (ESR) around the world and the push by some in congress (especially on the left) to federally fund ESR in the US.

Would have, if it wasn't a fraud. Christine Kim and John Herskovitz writing at Reuters News Service have the story:
South Korean prosecutors told a Seoul court on Monday they wanted a four-year prison term for disgraced scientist Hwang Woo-suk, whose research team has been linked to major fraud in its once-celebrated stem cell studies.

Hwang, once a scientist with rock-star like status in South Korea for his research that brought the country to the forefront of stem cell studies, is facing trial on charges of fraud, misusing 2.8 billion won ($2.25 million) in state funds and violating bioethics laws.
The trial has been going on for three years, and has been accompanied by the usual yelling and pontificating, primarily by science zealots proclaiming that this is merely the result of anti-science nuts trying to silence someone who his doing important work. The trial is expected to continue for another year as other charges are looked into.

Basically, the claims of ESR resulting in positive results were false, the money was misused, and Woo-suk was a liar. The firm he works for did manage to clone a dog (which died soon after, a typical problem with cloning so far), but not stem cells tailored to specific people.

And so the march goes on: adult stem cell research in the direction of progress, success, and viable treatments while embryonic stem cell research in the direction of failure, humiliation, and damage to those it is attempted on.

But President Bush was an evil, fundamentalist, anti-science idiot for blocking unconstitutional federal funds for ESR in the United States, while President Obama is an enlightened, pro-science hero for starting it up again. That's the ticket.

CHANGE THAT LEAVES YOU NO CHANGE

"I am concerned about the long-term issue of our structural deficit "
-President Obama

Presidents for decades now have taken advantage of the news cycle to do what is called a "document dump." Knowing that weekend staff is lower on newspapers, they release tons of materials they have to put out to the media all at once in a huge surge on Fridays. Usually this includes stuff they wish the press would not look at too closely and know it won't have time or inclination to dig through it all late on Friday.

Last Friday's document dump to the press included a little tidbit which got a lot of attention: the White House's Office of Budget Management OBM admitted that, yes, their previous rosy estimates of the deficit this year were a bit off. By 2 trillion dollars, moving the total up to nine trillion over the next decade. As you can see in the accompanying picture the last time the deficit rocketed up to record levels was the last time Democrats held both houses of congress and the White House. That was quickly snuffed when Republicans took congress led by fiscal conservatives, and the deficit actually plunged for the first time since Ronald Reagan was in office.

The deficit actually dropped again during the Bush administration after a slight rise, then has skyrocketed and is due to continue this incredible climb for years. Nine trillion dollars is at best "unsustainable" according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)

However, as the Wall Street Journal points out, that 9 trillion estimate is at best hilariously fantastical. Here are a few of the things the OBM and the CBO presume in order to reach that number:
  • Congress will only increase spending by the rate of inflation - this said in a year when congress increased spending by 47% higher than the previous rate, and current appropriations moving through congress increase that by 8% more.
  • Congress will exercise a 30% cut in spending in key areas such as Head Start and other areas once the "stimulus" package ends.
  • Federal tax revenues are presumed to increase by 16% or more, what the CBO calls "high by historical standards" and even assuming the economy turns around are only possible by huge tax increases.
  • It presumes the entire Bush tax cuts will be eliminated, very likely if Democrats continue controlling both houses of congress and the presidency.
  • It presumes that the promise not to increase taxes on those making less than $250,000 will be broken, resulting in 28 million middle class Americans paying the increased alternative minimum tax rate.
Stack on top of that the vast new spending and economy crippling projects such as Cap and Trade, Government Health Care, and raising the Capital Gains tax and the inevitable result is that the economy will not recover any time soon. That means lower tax revenues and even bigger deficits.

In other words, these estimates are hilariously inaccurate; as much as half as accurate as the real number will be. If 9 trillion is unsustainable, what is 14 or 18 trillion going to be? That's what we're facing with this gang in office. And even if Republicans somehow took both houses of congress (something I simply do not see happening, although at this point it looks like Democrats will lose a lot of seats), and even if those Republicans were fiscal conservatives like in 1994, would President Obama sign a balanced budget like President Clinton finally did after 3 tries?

People voted a president in hoping he'd bring change, and he did. He brought change from fiscal overspending to fiscal insanity. He brought change from tax cuts to tax increases. He brought change from hundred billion dollar deficits to multi trillion dollar deficits. He's brought change, all right.

Not evil, honestWatching the most recent Star Wars movies many people ask how the Jedi could possibly have been so stupid, how they couldn't see the blatant evil in front of their eyes, and how they couldn't have known, after thousands of years of study and philosophy, what "bringing balance to the force" meant. Well the American voters had all the information right in front of their eyes to know what change meant and what kind of man they voted for, and they did it anyway.

President Obama is going around saying he's concerned about the deficit and the budget. Apparently he's concerned they're too small.

CLUNKING AGAIN

"Wait, Obama isn't paying my mortgage?"

Two quick notes on the Cash for Clunkers program to update readers. First, as a commenter noted on the last post, charities are suffering from this program. Many charities have no connection to the federal government at all. They exist based on private funds and the donations of their communities, and one way to raise money was the donation of used cars. This system allowed donors to get rid of a car they didn't want and the charity could fix it up and sell it to benefit those they helped.

What happens when several hundred thousand cars are instead destroyed and not donated to the charities? In a rough economy, charitable giving is always down, and now that source of income is also lowered. End result: the poor suffer even more because these charities do not have the resources they might have and once did.

Another thing that's happening from this program is an unexpected hit at the tax man. Many states, such as South Dakota are charging state taxes for the Cash for Clunkers dollars people get for their old auto. Warner Todd Huston posting at Right Wing News has the details:
In many states car buyers that turned in their "clunkers" for up to $4,500 off the cost of a new car are finding out that they have to pay state sales tax on the $4,500 too. And still others just might find out next year that they'll have to pay income tax on that "free" government money.

Many South Dakotans, for instance, have been shocked to find that the wonderful gift from Obama was still added in with the cost of the automobile for the sales tax calculation, so their tax went up accordingly despite that they didn't pay the $4,500 themselves.
It works like this: normally sales tax is calculated by subtracting the trade in allowance of an old car from the total new purchase price. However, with the Cash for Clunkers program, they are not giving that trade in allowance and the full purchase price is taxed.

And it gets worse. Some states are charging the Cash for Clunkers value, up to $4500, as personal income for their state taxes. I called the Oregon Department of Revenue and was told that, surprisingly, Oregon is not doing so - shocking in a state which misses few opportunity to tax people more whenever possible.

Its not surprising that states, most of which are deep in debt due to overspending during boom times, are scrambling to get a piece of the federal action. It is just something many buyers are likely unaware of or hadn't considered, making it a nasty surprise.

Quote of the Day

“Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the deigns of ambition.”
-Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

REWARDING INCOMPETENCE

"All we wanted was to get the word out, I think we've accomplished what we set out to do."

Trusting Greed
Ludwig Heinrich Gehrig, also known as Lou Gehrig, was one of the greatest baseball players of all time. Had he not been cut down with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), better known now as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Putting aside jokes like "wow talk about a disease with your name written all over it," this is a terribly debilitating illness that ends swiftly in death, as it did with the Iron Horse, dying 2 years after being diagnosed.

Recently, the US Veterans Administration sent out thousands of letters to vets claiming to suffer from Gulf War Syndrome, informing them that they were suffering from ALS and going to die. P. J. (I'm not making this name up, honest) Dickersheid at the LA Times has the story:
Roberts said the VA mailed more than 1,800 letters last week and has been notified by less than 10 veterans who received the letters in error. However, a Gulf War veterans group that provides information, support and referrals about illnesses to military members estimates at least 1,200 veterans received the letters by mistake.

Denise Nichols, vice president of the National Gulf War Resource Center, said panicked veterans in at least a dozen states have contacted her group.
Some of the vets spent thousands on tests for a second opinion. All of them dealt with the trauma of learning they had a horrific, untreatable, debilitating, and lethal disease. The problem was that the VA uses codes to designate various illnesses, and they assigned the wrong code to many vets. Then the system automatically followed through by sending out letters and a packet of helpful information on treatments and how to deal with illness. To the wrong people.

Now, accidents happen, and it is impossible to execute any job flawlessly, but this is an especially awful accident: people had to face awful disease and death, talk to their loved ones, and watch them deal with the terrible news. Money was spent, people were horrified and traumatized. Some mistakes carry a heavier burden than others, and mistake or not ought to face consequences.

However, the VA is sending out $24 million in bonuses to its employees. This at the same time when wounded vets are waiting for checks to help pay for their disabilities, as guaranteed by law and a grateful nation. Kimberly Hefling at the Associated Press has the story:
In scathing reports this week, the VA's inspector general said thousands of technology office employees at the VA received the bonuses over a two-year period, some under questionable circumstances. It also detailed abuses ranging from nepotism to an inappropriate relationship between two VA employees.

The inspector general accused one recently retired VA official of acting "as if she was given a blank checkbook" as awards and bonuses were distributed to employees of the Office of Information and Technology in 2007 and 2008. In some cases the justification for the bonuses was inadequate or questionable, the IG said.
And bonuses weren't all. Nepotism, repeated plane trips for an affair between workers, college tuition payments to family members of administrators and self-appointed bonuses are also part of the mix.

Given the recent fate of several Inspector Generals who did their jobs too well, I wonder if this one is worried about their future job. The problem here is bureaucracy with little oversight, lots of cash, and a sacrosanct job: everyone wants to treat our wounded and retired vets well, so the office gets a lot of money to play with.

Its not just the American Vets Administration where this happens, though. England's Met Office (the state meteorological organization, naturally run by AGW hysterics) is notoriously wrong about England's weather - somewhat forgivable because the country is an island - and has been very wrong about climate for years now. After telling everyone that summer would be mild in 2008, the fountains froze. This year they predicted warm summers: "barbecue weather" and it was one of the rainiest summers since records have been kept. Still, they are getting rewarded, according to Andrew Hough at the Telegraph:
The Met Office was revealed to have paid more than £1million in annual bonuses to staff for meeting targets, including the accuracy of forecasts.
Bonuses for accuracy.

The problem here isn't that people make mistakes or get bonuses. Its that they're so unaccountable and the bureaucracy so carefully rewards its self. I recall working for the State of Oregon Revenue Department and being kept on for a full month after all the other temporary workers had been let go because they still had money in the budget. If a department doesn't spend all your budget they'll get less next year, and well we can't have that now can we?

Government is by nature and inclination clumsy, bloated, inefficient, and corrupt. Power tends to corrupt, and the more power you get, the greater that tendency becomes. Those who are hilariously called "public servants" instead treat the public as their peons, merely existing to wring money out of to pay for the bureaucracy. Any and every government body gets this way in time, and the more money they have to play with, the faster it happens.

And the Democrats in Washington DC want to grotesquely increase the size of the federal government, increasing it by trillions of dollars for a new, gigantic entitlement program deliberately and intentionally designed to lead into total control of health care and socialized medicine. President Obama and the other Democratic leaders swear it will save money and be efficient and better than the last bloated, grotesque bureaucracy regarding health care: the bankrupt and unsustainable Medicare and Medicaid programs. We already had an unconstitutional and idiotic increase in this area under President Bush with the Republicans which has already been shown to be massively more expensive than estimated at first.

Does anyone really think, honestly, that this would be any different? Seriously? Lets not reward bureaucratic incompetence with more power and money, hmm?

*Hat Tip Tim Blair for the Met story but regrettably I cannot remember where I first saw the Vet story.


*UPDATE: The House of Representatives has voted to give its aides bonuses, apparently earned by not reading the bills passed and striving hard for expensive junkets and grotesque unconstitutional spending.

LOOK AT HOW DIVERSE WE ARE!

"No one will notice!"

One of the most hilarious clichés of universities is the images in their publications. Desperate to be as politically correct, multicultural, and diverse as possible, they cram as many minorities into their imagery as possible. There could be one black dude on campus and he'll always be in the brochures and catalogs. Companies often do the same thing, unlike McDonald's who's advertising is hilariously homogeneous (this McD's is all Black people! This one is all Hispanic!), they want a full rainbow of faces. Consider this hysterically overdone picture from Microsoft:


Wow, that's quite a cast, must not be any white guys in the business! But wait, here's the original Polish version of the ad:


Huh, that black guy turned into a really goofy looking white dude. Microsoft has since fixed the image: the black guy is in both now. His head looks unusually large, but the white guy's head looks strangely twisted around so which is the original? Who knows, who cares?

Here are a few more examples of hilariously edited pictures to get more diversity in (diversity always defined as "adding blacks"). These are all courtesy Photoshop Disasters which has many more hilarious examples of awful photoshop chop jobs.





I guess I understand the desire to show that a picture isn't necessarily representative of the college campus, or to reach out to other ethnicities in advertising, but sometimes its just done to be flat out more diverse, such as top example of the guys in the boat. That's too white, fix it! We've had all too many examples of fauxtography used by less than trustworthy journalists in the past already, and photoshop makes it all too easy to do.

And honestly some of these are just terrible jobs to begin with. That photo of the refugees (4th down from the top, left side) is from a news story and it was really poorly done. Why stick a black guy in there? I can only guess but it seems likely that the editor wanted to get more sympathy for the people portrayed. And really, that's just lying to manipulate the public, something journalists should lose jobs over.

OF ARTISTS AND TORRENTS

"Dude, I just got that off a torrent, why buy it?"

Wizards of the Coast bought the TSR property Dungeons and Dragons (along with most of their other properties). Then Hasbro bought Wizards of the Coast (WOTC), and we got D&D 4th edition. Along the way, they started selling D&D materials online for a download: you could pay to download a pdf file of a module, a setting, or some other source material for your games. A lot of companies do this, I have a downloadable version of several of my publications online.

Recently, WOTC decided to stop this policy and not offer downloadable versions any longer. Flames Rising has the details:
Wizards of the Coast has instructed us to suspend all sales and downloads of Wizards of the Coast titles. Unfortunately, this includes offering download access to previously purchased Wizards of the Coast titles. We are in discussions with Wizards about their decision to change their approach to digital sales of their titles and will post more information as we have it.
Why this policy? A later post explained that the problem was with theft. Their site was secure enough, but once you allow someone to pay for a pdf, they can copy and upload it to anywhere. So now everything that was once available for download from Wizards of the Coast is in torrents worldwide to download.

WOTC is suing several different people in places like Poland and the Philippines for distributing their copyrighted material on file sharing sites, but the problem for them is that the product is out there already. This is something I considered before I made my stuff available online. Last time I ran a game with strangers at a game store (You can read about the attempt in Fantasy Hero 101 posts) one of them proudly announced he'd downloaded the entire Hero Games library, when part of the reason I was running the game was to encourage people to buy the books and thus get the store to stock more.

My stuff isn't popular (in fact, its sold only about 2 dozen total copies online) so I don't have any fear of being put on torrent somewhere. However, if it did happen I would be pretty upset because each one of those downloads is one fewer sale for me and I need that money. So I don't blame WOTC for doing this, but there's a problem with the change in policy, again from Flames rising:
Having pdf editions of the books available legally on DTRPG and other legit sites offered customers a way to give WotC money for these products. Now, that money will go elsewhere, either to other RPG products or video games or wherever, it certainly won’t be going to Wizards of the Coast.

Pirated copies of the books will still be available, if not increased. People want digital editions of these books. They are handy to have on the laptop (much easier to carry than a stack of hardcover books), they are often searchable and occasionally have other features. Pirates are going to continue to torrent the content, if they have to scan them in, so what? They will do so. The only folks who won’t be able to get digital versions of the books are those who want to buy them legally.
And this is a good point: for many (not myself) the convenience of having your material on a laptop is hard to pass up. If WOTC won't make it available online, people will get it elsewhere. If they put a disc with the materials on it so people can have a copy once they buy the book, then they still face the problem of people putting that material on a file sharing site. If they only print the books, then people will scan them and put them out for download anyway.

Essentially we're in a place in history where copyright and ownership is becoming nearly meaningless. You can run about trying to stop the pirating and transferring of files, but its like trying to herd cats, you might get one or two in line, but 57 others are off running in various directions and you're never coming out ahead.

So I have a lot of sympathy with game companies. Its good business in one sense to offer your product online for download for a fee (most of my sales have been downloads), but at the same time it is bad for business because that makes it so easy for others to download it for free.

What confuses me the most is this: if you paid $9.95 for a module download from Wizards of the Coast... why would you give it to everyone else for free? What on earth is someone thinking when they pay for everyone else's copy of a module? That's the part of the equation that simply eludes me, I can speculate that maybe they are rebels who want to stick it to the man, or that they want to seem cool and have something they made available out there and being downloaded, and there are sites who will give you credit for files you upload to them.

It just is a frustrating set of affairs, and the attempts to fix this (limited copies, downloads that you don't own and can lose if you get a new computer, etc) are even more obnoxious to customers than not having the files at all - and people find ways around it anyway. I honestly don't know what these businesses can do, and the first person to figure out a good way to handle this is going to make a lot of money, I suspect.

Quote of the Day

“To take from one because it is thought that his own industry and that of his father’s has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association—the guarantee to everyone of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.”
-Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

BOMBS AND SUICIDE CONSELING

"Missed him by that much!"

As readers here know, I spare no effort abusing the legacy media and how poorly and deliberately tilted a manner they often report the news. One of the most annoying tricks is the "spot the party" absence of mentioning Democratic Party affiliation when the story is negative, and always prominently mentioning the Republican Party when they are involved. However there are exceptions. At Three Beers Later we learn of one such story in St Louis Today:
A federal search warrant obtained by the Post-Dispatch connects a former Democratic campaign strategist to a Clayton bombing last year that seriously injured an attorney.

About two months after the October bombing, federal law enforcement officials searched the downtown loft of Milton H. "Skip" Ohlsen III, seeking "evidence related to the planning, execution, and/or cover-up of the bombing in Clayton, Missouri, on October 16, 2008." Ohlsen in recent weeks has been at the center of a swirling political scandal that is threatening the political careers of at least two Missouri Democratic legislators.
Apparently the bomber intended to harm or kill a lawyer who led legal battles against Ohlsen, but it harmed another lawyer instead. Ohlsen was described by his wife as "unpredictable" and "quick to anger" but then, that was during a divorce hearing, so who knows how reliable that testimony is.

Also at Three Beers Later is a link to the VA suicide counseling plan story which was removed under President Bush but has been restored under President Obama. Feeling low after taking that injury defending liberty and your fellow countrymen? Well there's a quick way out, here's Dr Kevorkian's card...

Reprehensible barely covers it.

MARRIAGE AND POVERTY

"As it turns out you cannot actually live on love"

Unmarried
Prime Ministers Aso of Japan recently made a few statements that are being called a gaffe. Elected at least in part because of his stated desire to grow the Japanese population (which, like many westernized cultures is having fewer babies than its population is losing in old age), he recently said:
“If you have no money it is best not to marry. I feel it’d be pretty hard to get any respect as a marriage partner if you have no income.”
I'll give you a link but the Australian Broadcasting Company site which has the English language news story is experiencing technical difficulties, and the only alternative I can find is in Japanese. The statement has been met with derision and called a mistake; apparently PM Aso has almost as much trouble as Vice President Biden with making odd and humorous mis-statements but in this case I have to disagree with the pundits.

If you're too poor to support yourself, or have no prospects to support a family, you should not get married. He's right. You need to be able to take care of your wife and kids (or, husband and kids, what have you - just don't expect her to show you any respect if she's the breadwinner). Marrying without being prepared is an easily prevented mistake that you will suffer from for decades. One of the biggest topics of argument according to marriage experts is finances, and if you start out living in the back room with mom and dad, that's going to explode soon and stay a festering sore for a long time.

Its one thing to have few prospects and struggle - if everyone waited for the right moment and their fortune to marry we'd soon have few marriages. If you're just starting out or don't have a nice new car and a nice new house, that's fine. Renting and having used stuff is the normal way to start out married. When kids look at their parents and think that's the default pattern for married couples, they're quite confused: mom and dad didn't start with all that stuff, they worked for it.

One of the things we've mostly lost from the past is the idea that there's more to marriage than mere physical or emotional attraction. You have responsibilities, and if a young man loves a young woman that's not enough. He also has to be able to care for her, and if he cannot demonstrate this capacity, all the love in the world is not enough. It is irresponsible and further dishonorable and disrespectful toward your wife to get into a marriage without at least a minimal ability to care for her and any children. If you work as the cashier at McDonalds, you aren't marriage material. If you work up to manager, then you've got something to base a marriage on.

It isn't that money is the only or even the most important thing. Its that money is no unimportant either, and financial capacity demonstrates not just responsibility but the ability to stay with something long enough to make it work - sort of like a marriage - and produce something valuable to the relationship beyond yourself. It's partly why I'm not married, I'm not marriage material. Sometimes in life you don't get what you hoped for and want. Sometimes you have to give up the dreams you have to be responsible and honorable.

Second Quote of the Day

"We reject the assumption that virtue is the exclusive province of the State. We’ve had enough of being told we’re morally obligated to hand over our fortunes to thieves who squander it on fleets of luxury jet aircraft and endless foreign junkets. We see nothing moral about giving the State a dollar, so it can give a nickel to someone it finds deserving of our compulsory charity."
-Doc Zero
Courtesy Russ, Just Russ

AXELTURFED

"Mr. President, if you don't mind me asking, how much do you pay Axelrod for this stuff?"

Obama Attorney General Holder, already infamous for blocking the prosecution of the most blatant example of voter intimidation in forty years, has decided its time to look into prosecuting CIA agents for their actions during the War on Terror during the Bush administration. At first glance I thought "hey, terrific, finally those guys who leaked classified information to the press in an attempt to harm President Bush are going to face justice." But no, that's not what this is about. In fact, ultimately, what this is about was best covered by Doug Ross recently:
Give David ("Svengali") Axelrod some credit: when President Obama needs a running play, he calls a running play.
Too much in the press about the health care debate? Too many images of angry and frustrated Americans and embarrassing press conferences? "Astroturf" Axelrod has the answer: throw some red meat at the press and watch them growl and tear at it, ignoring the health care debate entirely. It might even distract the blogosphere and pull away energy from the citizens trying to convince their congressmen to not vote for Government Health Care.

Apparently the Obama administration thinks that men wielding weapons actively intimidating voters is perfectly acceptable, but men using force to fight the war on terror and protect American citizens is legally actionable.

Meanwhile, people analyzing the actual bill have found even more troubling material in it, such as racial preferences and payoffs for Union pensions. It turns out that yet another person claiming to be a doctor in support of Obamacare is a fraud, and yet another one of Obama's claims about healthcare is equally fraudulent: most bankruptcys are the result of medical expenses? Not even close.

And the AARP is hemmoraghing members who are enraged at hearing the organization supports Obama's plan (so said the president, AARP has not official made any such statement). This distraction will work fine with the press but will it help a bill already on life support and failing? It might pass, but the Democrats will probably suffer a bloodbath in November for doing so.

Yet in the end I expect they'll hang on to a bare majority in both houses anyway, and be so emboldened by it that they go even further, with across the board tax increases and slashing cuts in the military. Time will tell.

RIGHT TO ANONYMITY?

"Inherent in the First Amendment is the right to speak anonymously."

A few days ago I wrote about model Liskula Cohen who was mocked and insulted on the blog Skanks in NYC. After suing Google to force them to release the name of the blogger who wrote this material, Mrs Cohen won a judgement against Google and the name was due to be released. Courtesy The Other McCain, we have the name of the blogger, a woman named Rosemary Port.

Rosemary plans on suing Google for releasing her name, according to The Daily News:
Speaking out for the first time since a court order forced Google to reveal her identity, blogger Rosemary Port tells the Daily News that model Liskula Cohen should blame herself for the uproar.

"This has become a public spectacle and a circus that is not my doing," said Port, whose "Skanks in NYC" site branded the 37-year-old Cohen an "old hag."

"By going to the press, she defamed herself," Port said.
Fifteen million, she's looking for. She'll be lucky if she's not found in contempt for suing a company which was merely obeying a court order.

I write under my real name, with my real location. So does Robert Stacy McCain, but a lot of bloggers do not for a variety of reasons. Some fear reprisal, some are blogging about subjects which might endanger their job, some are just private. Ms Port was anonymous because she was continually mean spirited and abusive to people and wanted to avoid consequence.

And like many modern people, especially younger people brought up assuming comfort, entitlement, and personal happiness, when caught doing wrong has blamed the accuser. It is a fairly common pattern: do something awful, then say the person who noticed is a jerk. Children do this as a defense, unable to actually defend what they've done and looking for some way to not feel ashamed. Ms Port's shame is earned, but she wants someone else to pay.

Unlike her bizarre assertions, no one has a constitutional right to anonymity. This is a typical response of the modern pundit, who as opposed to those in the past, wants to say anything whatsoever and not face any sort of reprisal or reaction in person. Like the childish entertainers who screamed censorship when fans decided they didn't much care for them attacking President Bush, the US military, and the US in general, they want to say anything whatsoever, but no one may respond negatively.

In fact, the very presumption shows her fear of being found out: she wanted to be able to abuse and attack people in print without any possibility of reprisal. That's not how the world works, Ms Port. Grow up.

Rosemary Port was on Good Morning, America this morning. Meanwhile, Robert Stacy McCain has decided to see how tolerant Ms Port is of personal abuse about her looks.

Quote of the Day

“Government can do something for the people only in proportion as it can do something to the people.”
-Thomas Jefferson

Monday, August 24, 2009

CLUNKY UPDATE

"If Americans find out they don't like it, it'll be too late. "

$4500 in the hand
Well Cash for Clunkers is ongoing, as anyone who has tried to watch television or listen to the radio is painfully aware of. Ads bombard us shouting about the program, come in and trade in your junker for a new car! They're relying on two things: first, that people who come in with a car which doesn't even qualify are already in the mood for a new car and chances are they'll buy one anyway; and second that the gullibility of people who think they're getting a free car is endless.

A couple of aspects to the Cash for Clunkers program which haven't been considered are coming to light. First, at least some car lots raised their prices in July in anticipation of the program starting. They were confident that enough new buyers would come in and get cars that they could jack the prices up and get more, even offsetting some of the cost of paying for an old car to be destroyed. Now, as the program still has only paid 2% of the money owed for the cars covered, prices are going up more broadly because these lots will close if they cannot make money. Remember: the US federal government reimburses the car lots for cars they accept in this program, the money comes out of their pocket, then they hope to some day get paid back.

Another aspect that should be considered is that at least some lots are pulling out of the program entirely. At the New York Post we learn this:
This week, frustrated New York dealers put the pedal to the metal -- in a race to exit the program. About half the 425 members of the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association say they dropped out.

Why? Because Washington's bureaucrats were able to send out only 2 percent of the money it owes.

"It's an administrative nightmare," said Mark Schienberg, the association's president.
There's only so long you can cough up money out of your lot's capital without being repaid, and these guys have crossed that limit.

Meanwhile as hundreds of thousands of used cars are destroyed, poorer people will find it harder to get used cars, and the prices of said cars will rise due to the smaller supply. This wasn't the plan, at least not directly. Obama and the Democrats in congress just figured this was a way to help car companies, inject some activity into the receding economy, and get more polluting cars off the road.

It isn't really doing much for the economy and since most buyers are not buying fuel efficient cars, it isn't doing much for that either. But its having other, less pleasant effects as well.

But they'd do better with health care. Honest.