Saturday, May 10, 2008

Test Of Willpower

I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. God, I know that I'm a sinner, and I ask for your strength in giving me the will power to resist clicking on this link and writing something really horrible on this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form. I will not fill out this form.

Mandatory Drug Testing For Farm Subsidy Recipients

Lawmakers finish farm bill as White House repeats opposition
By MARY CLARE JALONICK Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Married couples with joint incomes of up to $1.5 million from their farm operation could still qualify for crop subsidies under a five-year, $300 billion farm bill compromise that would boost the Agriculture Department's food and farm programs.

Don't even think about hitting that link unless you've got a strong stomach, or are already a subsidy recipient. Nancy Pelosi is also wanting to subsidize the jillionaire horse farms represented in the Kentucky Derby, fer heaven's sake.

They try to make this bill more wholesome by linking it to Food Stamps, Lunch Programs, etc., but the two concepts have almost nothing in common other than the word "food".

A lot of people get angry about subsidies to oil companies. Some people can get worked up over farm subsidies. One day a couple of weeks ago, Alex Chadwick on NPR ripped Senator Tom Harkin a new one over the amount of pork in this year's farm bill (pun intended). Senator Harkin, a Democrat who represents Archer Daniels Midland Iowa, was trying to justify the giveaways by explaining the new subsidies for Fruit and Vegetable producers.

As if we need more people waiting in line for the government tit.

When Chadwick called B.S. on him, all Harkin could do was sputter about, "Well, Exxon Mobil and the oil companies get a lot of subsidies, don't they?"

The man is an actual United States Senator. I don't have a transcript of the interview. I'll change the text above if someone can send me one.

A lot of people get angry about the character and work ethic of those who receive traditional welfare handouts. They advocate drug testing for all welfare recipients. After all, there's no point in subsidizing someone who is going to spend the money in an irresponsible manner. They don't want their tax dollars going to crack dealers. They get furious when the person in line ahead of them at the supermarket uses food stamps to buy top sirloin.
What's good for the Welfare Mother should be good for the millionaire racehorse owner, don't you think?

I propose similar testing for all forms of corporate welfare. If you get a subsidy for, say, your horse farm in Kentucky, there should be provisions in place to prevent you from spending the money on crack cocaine OR on ridiculous hats for the Derby.

If you get a subsidy for your sugar plantation monopoly in Florida, there should be provisions in place to send you to rehab and counseling if you're caught contributing to the campaigns of either major political party. There are certain classes of criminals you shouldn't be allowed to associate with.

If you're an Iowa corn farmer and take a government-mandated urinalysis, and you test positive for "Lobbyists", you would be forced to take classes in "How To Sell To Customers Instead Of Selling To Government". Flunk it again, and you don't get to have a caucus at your house in 2012. If you get caught with Lobbyists in your bloodstream one more time then it's three strikes, you're out. No Appeal. You would be forced to live off nothing but your wheat and soybean subsidy. No more corn subsidies for you, buddy.

I know, it's harsh. But those who stayed clean for a year, they'd get a "Just Say NO To Nancy Pelosi" T-shirt.

It would be a Hand Up, not a Hand Out.

It's all about Tough Love. Scared Straight.

This is your brain.
This is your brain on drugs.
And this is your brain voting for any politician who votes in favor of this farce.
Corn and Money picture from The Acton Institute, which is loosely affiliated with Calvin Theological Seminary, of all places. Hat Tip to The Truth Handler for the link to the AP farm bill article.

Harper's Magazine, Saving The Earth With SUV's And Airliners

For the last few months, I've been pointing out the clanging discord between the content and the advertising in Harper's magazine. Not too long ago, many of the Harper's articles read like a lunchbreak periodical for disgruntled socialists who are biding their time welding on the 3rd shift until the dawn of The Glorious People's Revolution. That's great. Pravda needs a competitor.

But here's what I think is funny. Most of the full page advertisements in Harper's are geared toward the coffee table at Trey and Buffy's second home on Martha's Vineyard.

I love analyzing that magazine every month. Here's a link to the most popular one.

But after a couple of months, Harper's got in line. (I'm sure my remote ravings from Fort Worth Texas had a lot to do with it.) Most of the essays started making more economic sense. You got the feeling when you bought Harper's that you were purchasing a Unified Periodical.

All bad things must come to an end. The May 2008 has no fingernails-on-the-chalkboard discord between content and marketing, with the exception of one essay by Wendell Berry. But the ads themselves reveal a magazine torn in a bitter division between cooling this planet and warming it up by a few degrees. Please include Harper's in your prayers.

Inside the front cover is an ad for a vehicle. My regular readers are familiar with this one. The background is a redwood forest. The sunlight filtering through the canopy of overhead leaves and branches project Al Gore profiles onto the tree trunks. The foreground of this forest is an unnatural mulch of grass, pine needles, organic locally grown produce, and recycled coffee grounds. Parked in the middle of this green environment is a Chevy Freakin' Tahoe. It's Green Car Journal's Green Car of the year. I swear to God, that's what it says.

Which aircraft carrier got first runner up? The U.S.S. Nimitz?

"This is a milestone in many respects," said Green Car Journal editor Ron Cogan. "People generally don't think 'green' when SUV's are concerned."

They sure as hell don't.

There's an ad for Ireland on page 5. Since you can't drive your Chevy Tahoe to Ireland, the only way for a Harper's reader to get there is to take a boat, or to fly. The couple in this Irish tourism ad, according to the blurb, is from Atlanta. I bet they didn't get to Ireland in a canoe.

Turn the page, and there's an ad from the good people at Shell Oil. They're peddling their GTL fuel, which they claim produces between 26 and 40% less sooty emissions in tested cars.

Turn another couple of pages, and you get to a two-pager from Visa. Life Takes Visa. It's a bouquet of golf clubs. Visa wants us to enjoy a romantic getaway with fantastic fairways. On the opposite page, Visa offers golf vacation destinations in Bermuda, Vegas, and Hawaii. (Note to self: look up mileage from U.S. mainland to Bermuda and Hawaii. Calculate jet fuel required to get there and back just one time. Divide this staggering amount by carbon emissions saved by driving a Chevy Tahoe, as compared to, say, a Sherman Tank. Calculate how many decades it takes to offset one trip overseas.)

Then there's an ad for tourism in Halifax, Nova Scotia. (Direct flights to Halifax from most major cities 1-800-565-0000 op 766.) The ad features a cool picture of a couple on a wooden deck overlooking a Halifax highway. (Note to self: calculate how long you would have to purchase only locally grown food and locally manufactured products to offset just one earth-destroying trip to Halifax.)

Here's a brief diversion away from the ads, and into the content..... The Harper's index reports that there are now 102 therapists in the U.S. who offer "eco-psychology" treatment for their patients who are concerned about the environment. I retract my previous statement about there being no discord in this Harper's issue. I haven't even gotten to Wendell Berry yet.

Honda has a full page ad showing another SUV. Honda has "Higher fuel efficiency, lower greenhouse gas emissions. That's the power of dedication." Kids are shown flying kites in the sky above the Honda SUV. (Full disclosure: I own two Honda SUV's. It's part of my effort to fight Global Cooling.)

On page 29 is a full-page ad for a device called the Stress Eraser. People come to my site all the time, ever since the stress eraser ad made it's debut on these pages. These visitors arrive via Google searches with terms like "Stress Eraser, Effectiveness Of " I think an equally effective search would be "Placebos, Effectiveness Of ".

The poet Wendell Berry has an article on "Faustian Economics", in which he states "the real names of global warming are Waste and Greed." I'm sorry, Wendell, but if you accept the premise that global warming has a human cause, the real names of global warming are Honda, Shell, Chevy Tahoe, and airliners flying to Nova Scotia, Hawaii, Bermuda, and Ireland.

Kevin Phillips has a good article called "The Numbers Racket", about why it's difficult to track unemployment and economic activity because of different criteria being used from year to year. If you read this article all the way through, you're a geek. If you read it twice, you're a total geek. I've read it three times. Good stuff.

Patrick Symmes gives us an article on Post-Fidel Cuba called "The Battle of Ideas". He takes a good look at what it's like living in that corrupt socialist shithole.

That's it for this month. I'm going to drive one of my earth-saving Honda SUV's to the airport, fly to Bermuda for some golf, and then fly to Ireland just to hang out. I don't even play golf, but I want to do my part to save the planet.

Michelle Vetoes Hillary, But Doesn't Emasculate Barack

Robert Novak, The Prince of Darkness, who usually knows that of which he speaks, is saying that Michelle Obama has vetoed Hillary Clinton as a potential Vice Presidential running mate for Barack.

Well, good for Michelle.

I hung onto an old copy of Newsweek (February 26, 2008) that had Michelle Obama on the cover. It's the one with the tag line "He Calls her his 'Rock.' The Real Michelle Obama."

I hung onto it because it was weird. Let's look at page 29, in an article by Richard Wolfe. Here's where he quotes Michelle Obama:

"Somehow I've been caricatured as this emasculating wife," she tells Newsweek. "Barack and I laugh about that. It's just sort of, like, do you think anyone could emasculate Barack Obama? Really now."

Well said. In fact, it was very well said. It was so well said that in the same issue of Newsweek on page 35, in an article called "A Real Wife, in a Real Marriage", Raina Kelley felt obliged to quote Michelle Obama as saying:

"I've been caricatured as this emasculating wife. Barack and I laugh about that. It's just sort of like, 'Do you think anybody could emasculate Barack Obama?' Really now."

I have to admit, Barack Obama's vulnerability to emasculation hadn't crossed my mind until I read about it twice in a single issue of Newsweek. What could be the source of this Castration Complex? Once again, Newsweek comes through. Here's the mother lode, the source of the Amazon River, the original Big Bang from which all other emasculation articles were brought forth. On page 34, in an interview entitled "I Can Only Be Who I Can Be", Michelle Obama brings forth the original Emasculation Quotation. Getting there, if you happened to read everything else first, rivals the discovery of The Dead Sea Scrolls:

"Somehow I've been caricatured as this emasculating wife. [Laughs] Barack and I laugh about that. It's just sort of, like, 'Do you think anybody could emasculate Barack Obama?' Really now."

Newsweek never gives us an opinion on whether anyone could emasculate Barack Obama, but obviously thought the possibility was worth considering. If Michelle Obama really did put her foot down and declare that "Those Trash Talkin' Arkansas Rednecks Ain't Comin' In My White House", more power to her.

Do you think that somehow emasculates Barack Obama?

Really now....

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Texas Sinkhole

People are coming to this site looking for pictures of the famous Texas Sinkhole, an unnatural phenomena caused by allowing a particular industry to run rampant in a small space, sucking in houses, trees, yards, vehicles, and every other resource in the area.

The bad news is, this thing will continue to grow unless we petition our government to stop Eminent Domain abuse.

Ten Mistakes The Clintons Made

Time Magazine has posted an article called "The Five Mistakes Clinton Made".

The list is woefully incomplete. (I work in shipping and logistics. Therefore, I know these things.) The article in Time is by Karen Tumulty, BTW. Here are Ms. Tumulty's Five mistakes, somewhat condensed:

1. She misjudged the mood "Being the consummate Washington insider is not where you want to be in a year when people want change," says Barack Obama's chief strategist, David Axelrod. Clinton's "their initial strategic positioning was wrong and kind of played into our hands." But other miscalculations made it worse:

2. She didn't master the rules "How can it possibly be," (Clinton strategist Harold) Ickes asked, "that the much vaunted chief strategist doesn't understand proportional allocation?" And yet the strategy remained the same, with the campaign making its bet on big-state victories. Even now, it can seem as if they don't get it. Both Bill and Hillary have noted plaintively that if Democrats had the same winner-take-all rules as Republicans, she'd be the nominee. Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign now acknowledges privately:

3. She underestimated the caucus states She had a reason: the Clintons decided, says an adviser, that "caucus states were not really their thing." Her core supporters — women, the elderly, those with blue-collar jobs — were less likely to be able to commit an evening of the week, as the process requires.... "For all the talent and the money they had over there," says Axelrod, "they — bewilderingly — seemed to have little understanding for the caucuses and how important they would become."
By the time Clinton's lieutenants realized the grave nature of their error, they lacked the resources to do anything about it — in part because:

4. She relied on old money Though Clinton's totals from working the shrimp-cocktail circuit remained impressive by every historic measure, her donors were typically big-check writers. And once they had ponied up the $2,300 allowed by law, they were forbidden to give more. The once bottomless Clinton well was drying up.
Obama relied instead on a different model: the 800,000-plus people who had signed up on his website and could continue sending money his way $5, $10 and $50 at a time. And that reflects one final mistake:

5. She never counted on a long haul Clinton's strategy had been premised on delivering a knockout blow early. If she could win Iowa, she believed, the race would be over. Clinton spent lavishly there yet finished a disappointing third. What surprised the Obama forces was how long it took her campaign to retool. She fought him to a tie in the Feb. 5 Super Tuesday contests but didn't have any troops in place for the states that followed.

Ok, those are good reasons. But I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that Karen Tumulty is a Democrat who wouldn't mind an Obama/Clinton ticket, or seeing Hillary try again in 2016. The statements listed above have to do with strategies possibly put in place by others. Group mistakes. As someone who didn't have a horse in that race (but who likes Obama a lot), here are my top five, which relate more to actions taken by The Clintons:

1. She never acknowledged the reasons for her 50% negative approval ratings There are people who dislike her for no reason, and there are people who dislike her with good reason. For reasons that I can't quite fathom, Hillary Clinton simply reminds me of the little girl in the fourth grade who got on my nerves. Hillary never did anything to counteract that image of the class president who was always trying to get everyone into a herd when we just wanted to hang out. I'll admit that I'm incapable of viewing her YouTube videos of her speeches all the way through.

2. She was "ready to lead on day one", but not on the days after Super Tuesday. That's sort of a cross between Karen Tumulty's #2,3, and 5. When Obama ate her lunch and drank her milkshake in February, she had absolutely no plan in place for what came next. She as much as admitted that her staff had to research how the Texas primary system worked. Granted, the Democratic Party's Texas primary/caucus system makes about as much sense as the Pelagian heresy. (Oh, and by the way, Obama won Texas. Why the mainstream media still refers to her surprising victory here is beyond me. When you factor in the caucuses, Obama came away with the most delegates.)

3. The sniper fire fable made people remember Bill. And it made people remember jokes about what "is" is. It made her seem totally untrustworthy. She didn't just tell the sniper story once when she was tired. It was in there multiple times at multiple places. You can't recover from that if you want to be President.

4. Bill managed to alienate black voters. The Clintons once had a fiercely loyal African American following. Toni Morrison called Bill the first black president. Bill has an office in Harlem. He plays golf with Vernon Jordan. etc etc etc..... And then came South Carolina, with Bill comparing Obama's victory to that of Jesse Jackson. End of Story.

5. The gas tax holiday was a pitiful pandering moment It was as fake as the shot of Crown in the Pennsylvania bar, the tears in New Hampshire, and the migrating accent and speech patterns.

I could add that her staff (Ickes and Penn) seemed to genuinely despise each other. Barack ran a much tighter ship, and didn't tolerate any infighting.

I bet she's waiting to see how the Rezko trial turns out before she concedes. Perhaps the Superdelegates will start stampeding to Obama and make even that albatross seem irrelevant.

I'm just ready for her to go away. I don't know if you can tell or not, but that woman bothers me.

Vigilant Border Beagles

This Photoshop pic doesn't say anything about illegal immigration that I haven't already said here. Can you feel the sense of superiority in the beagles?

I just thought it was funny.

I Can't Believe People Still Fall For This

Like just about everyone else with a BlogSpot account, I got this email:

From Mrs Rebecca Williams
No 38 Rue Des Martyrs Cocody
Abidjan,Cote d'Ivoire

I am the above named person from Kuwait. I am married to Mr Benson Williams, who worked with Kuwait embassy in Ivory Coast for nine years before he died in the year 2004. We were married for eleven years without a child. He died after a brief illness that lasted for only four days.

Before his death we were both born again Christian. Since his death I decided not to remarry or get a child outside my matrimonial home which the Bible is against. When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of $2. 5 Million (Two Million Five Hundred U.S. Dollars) in the bank here in Abidjan in suspense account.

Presently, the fund is still with the bank. Recently, my Doctor told me that i have serious sickness which is cancer problem. The one that disturbs me most is my stroke sickness. Having known my condition I decided to donate this fund to a church or individual that will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct herein. I want a church that will use this fund for orphanages, widows, propagating the word of God and to endeavour that the house of God is maintained.

The Bible made us to understand that blessed is the hand that giveth. I took this decision because I don’t have any child that will inherit this money and my husband relatives are not Christians and I don’t want my husband’s efforts to be used by unbelievers. I don’t want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly way. This is why I am taking this decision. I am not afraid of death hence i know where I am going. I know that I am going to be in the bosom of the Lord. Exodus 14 VS 14 says that the Lord will fight my case and I shall hold my peace.

I don’t need any telephone communication in this regard because of my health hence the presence of my husband’s relatives is around me always I don't want them to know about this development. With God all things are possible. As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the bank here in Abidjan. I want you and the church to always pray for me because the Lord is my shepherd. My happiness is that I lived a life of a worthy Christian. Whoever that wants to serve the Lord must serve him in spirit and Truth. Please always be prayerful all through your life.

Contact me on the above e-mail address for more information’s, any delay in your reply will give me room in sourcing another church or individual for this same purpose. Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I Stated herein. Hoping to receive your reply.
Remain blessed in the Lord.
Yours in Christ,
Mrs Rebecca Williams.

And of course, you give them access to your bank account so they can deposit the 2.5 million, they take out what you have in it, and your money winds up somewhere in The Ivory Coast.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A Visual Metaphor

Fort Worth residents might recognize this as the interior of Broadway Baptist Church. We're trying to repair some things, close some ruptures, and firm up our foundation.
Doing so has made it necessary to bring in additional support.

Photography by DG.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

Here are a few things that I couldn't put anywhere else:

Patrick at Lone Star Liberty has a rare good word for Senator John Cornyn. Senator Cornyn has figured out that ethanol subsidies might be killing people.

Adamant has some unbelieveable before and after cyclone satellite photos of Burma.

Marko at The Munchkin Wrangler has an interesting concept called "Search Term Safari". Whatever search terms people key into his blog (see the top left search field on this page), he tries to write about every Monday. I would try that, but I think I've written enough already about Brett Younger, Is There A Hell?, and Ethanol Subsidies.
He's got another good post about his site being hit by a splog. If I hadn't read about it, I would've never known what was happening to my site the last few days. A legit blogger that I've linked to (most splogs aren't legit) is apparently logging in here and going back and forth between my site and his a few dozen times (we've linked to each other) about once an hour. He's got a reciprocal link thing going with a few other sites and he's doing it to them also. It's to get his advertising revenue up. Kinda pitiful.
I like getting hits the old fashioned way. By writing about Brett Younger, Is There A Hell?, and Ethanol Subsidies.

In honor of D.G. at T.C.U., here's a rare link from The Whited Sepulchre to Greg Mankiw to Paul Krugman. It's a good analysis of why politicians bring up a red herrings like the gas tax holiday.

Robb Allen, filling in for Hazel at The Line Is Here, has a post that would've fit well in the rant I did yesterday. Let's see if we can fill in the blanks....
"In the face of [Motorcycles popping wheelies], Florida Representative Carlos Lopez-Cantera has urged [a Florida legislature with lots of time on it's hands] to [ mandate two wheels on the pavement at all times ] in order to [ prevent Darwinian laws of natural selection from going into effect ]."
I love that formula. It's like Mad Libs for cynics.

Mississippian Gus Van Horn, who presides over the best objectivist blog on earth or any other planet, provides us with this abomination. Here's Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson taking a few moments away from fleecing their flocks to warn us of the evils of Global Warming, NO ! Climate Change, NO ! the weather changing.

Mr. Van Horn ordinarily writes deep philosophical posts about self-interest as it relates to the good of the rest of our species. The video above is due to a rare lapse in taste.

The great Alan K. Henderson has three consecutive posts about wooden heads, plants, and Ann Coulter. As if there's a difference.

The good folks at The Pheisty Blog, who I've been neglecting lately, once again force me to trot out The Formula that I posted yesterday.....
"In the face of [some home foreclosures ], Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has urged [the people who spend your taxes ] to [bail out a lot of people with bigger houses than mine ] in order to [ stabilize house prices in neighborhoods with lots of bigger houses than mine ]."
I think that summarizes Bernanke's statement nicely.

Back To The Drawing Board explains the difference between rights and entitlements. There is one.

According to Saint Albert, The Goracle of Music City, the recent tragedy in Burma was due to our failure to contribute to The Saint Albert retirement/pension fund. Compliments of Counting Cats. The Cat Counter has another one here, about how people and organizations tend to become what they hate.

Rex Flex alerts the nation to a legislative scheme that would send every Mississippi restaurant into bankruptcy. I'm tempted to apply The Formula to it, but as a potential target of this legislation, it's too depressing.

Munzenberg, who co-blogs with my sorta online friend Jay at Soobdujour, takes a Michael Gerson speech and breaks it down into the rhetorical devices used. (Rhetorical questins, irony, hyperbole, metaphors, parallelism, etc.) Has anyone ever done a complete book of speeches this way? Or is that what you find in every Rhetoric textbook? If so, is there one that's considered the standard? Munzenberg, please advise....

Law, Legislation, and Lunacy encourages Bill Maher to visit Clues "R" Us, in hopes that he will purchase one.

Andrew Ian Dodge, of Dodgeblogium, posts the infamous picture of Obama associate and convicted terrorist William Ayers wiping his feet on the United States flag. I've heard all about it, but this is the first time I've seen it.

Either my site is running slower because of all the links on this post, or I'm running slower because of all the links I've done on this post.

Good Night !

Hillary On The Night Shift

From ABC News website, on Hillary Clinton's strategy in blue collar states:

She aggressively targeted blue collar and low-income voters, hammering her message that she will fight for them.
"You notice as she campaigns that she drops the ending of words, and becomes 'we're working people,'"
said Peri Arnold, a professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. "She becomes sort of Rosie-on-the-night-shift and stylistically she becomes very attractive to these voters."
....Hillary got out of her pickup with her lunchbox and welding hood.
"Yo. Wassup, wassup," she said to the guys waiting in line to clock in, paying particular attention to the Superdelegates.
"Ready for a long night?" asked Jose, the night shift foreman.
Hillary nodded, reaching into the pocket of her bright yellow pantsuit for her I.D. badge. "I gotta believe I got a unique set of experiences an' qualifications to be ready on Day One. Yep. Gonna git her done."

Jose was relieved. A week earlier, when he'd asked her about not arriving to work on time, she'd answered "Jose, I'm not gonna give ya any B.S. Ya know, me an Chelsea were coming in from the airport? An' the snipers were worse than I ever seen 'em? An we had to run cross that tarmac? with all our work crap? an' this little girl wanted me to stop? and get flowers?...."

Jose was grateful that Hillary's airport episode had been overlooked. If word got out about sniper delusions and airport fantasies, the other employees wouldn't trust Hillary to run the grinders, much less the heavy equipment. Except for, perhaps, some of the diehard Democrats who were accustomed to such stories.

"Whatcha got me workin' on tonight?" Hillary asked. "Cause I been lookin' forward to workin' for you, the Merrican people." Hillary took off her New York Yankees cap, underneath which was a Arkansas Razorbacks cap. Which covered the top of a Chicago Cubs hoodie.

"I don't know," Jose answered. "How much help would you need if you worked on the Healthcare project?"

Hillary cleared her throat and set down her lunchbox so she could dig out a wedgie. "I got the experience an' the gumption to make sure nothin' happens again like that uninsured woman who died because a' no insurance. I'm takin' a personal inerst in it. If we gotta fix Healthcare and give the Merrican people the healthcare and stuff they got comin', I'll work tirelessly to..."

"Hillary," Jose said again, "Just answer me. How much help will you need?"

"Glad you had the cajones to ask, Jose," Hillary said. "Me and Bill was talkin' that over when I got in last night. If you was to put me in the leadership position I deserve, and gimme your support, we could run out the lobbyists and since you done helped me find my voice, I'm gonna..."

"Hillary, how much help will you need?"

"It Takes A Village," she said.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Blogosphere vs The Radio

I've just listened to eight hours of talk radio. I wasn't in the mood for Soccer-Mom Country, or the 500 canonized tunes now known as classic rock. The only radio preachers on the air were reasonably rational and therefore had little entertainment value, since I wasn't in the mood for self-improvement.

Four hours to Houston and four hours back with Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Jon-David Wells, Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh, David Ramsey, Dennis Praeger, Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt, and, the only candle in the darkness, Dennis Miller.

Good Lord in heaven, what a crew.... Going over the same rants and clips and sound bytes over and over and over. Heck, I'll post a popular Youtube video now and then, but once I've posted it, I don't put it up again thirty minutes later.

One issue kept coming up on most of the shows. Since there's little difference in the Obama and Clinton platforms, the disagreement over repealing the 18 cent gasoline tax through the summer months has been the only real point of contention for the last week.

A North Carolina Superdelegate named David Parker was briefly interviewed on WBAP on the gasoline tax. I don't remember the exact words, but he was asked if an 18 cent break was enough to make a real difference. Parker claimed, and once again, this is a paraphrase, that "it's not the pennies saved, it's the symbolic value of doing something."

What a steaming pile of it. The talk show host heard what Parker said, and let it pass.

We already have something like 15 linear feet of volumes and volumes of regulations, tweakings, adjustments, and laws designed to show that government is doing something.

One of the world's most colorful blogger groups, The Devil's Kitchen, has developed a formula for this type of statement. They're British, and are referring to the EU in this example, but the same principle applies here in the U.S. (And don't even think about hitting that link unless you've got a high tolerance for colorful profanity.)
"In the face of [insert crisis here], Prime Minister Gordon Brown has urged [insert supranational body here] to [insert zany 'action' here] to [insert imagined outcome here]"

You could churn this stuff out by the hour if you wanted.

Ok, let's try it. Follow along at home, and perhaps you can do it on your own in a few minutes.

"In the face of [rising gasoline prices], North Carolina Superdelegate David Parker has urged [Congress] to [eliminate gas taxes] in order to [lower gas prices]."

Well, that's accurate but incomplete. And dull. Let's add some subtext.

"In the face of [rising gasoline prices because we haven't opened up ANWR or brought any new refineries online in Britney Spears' lifetime], North Carolina Superdelegate David Parker has urged [the people who originally caused the problem in Congress] to [exacerbate the problem by encouraging people to increase gasoline usage] in order to [magically make the supply increase.]"

Let's try another one.

"In the face of [rising medical costs], Presidential Candidate Barack Obama has urged [ Congress ] to [ throw some more regulations at insurance companies ] in order to [ make it look like they're doing something ]."

Here's a proposal from The Devil's Kitchen for what should actually be done. In this case, the issue is the food riots in Asia:

Approximately 88 years after everyone else realised that a mish-mash of ('fair trade') forced agragrian backwardness, (Government driven) rising fuel costs, extra demands on land usage, the (Government-inspired) dash for bio-fuels and the (Government endorsed) steps away from adoption of GM technology was causing food prices to rise, he is demanding that Governments (there's that word again!) take co-ordinated, urgent action to resolve the problem.
They go on from there. DK is not for the faint of heart. But beneath all the profanity, hyperbole, and scatalogical references, there is an intelligence that's lacking on the USA's AM radio wasteland. No one on that blog would've taken David Parker's gas tax line seriously.

What was it that Flannery O'Connor said about communicating with audiences who disagree with you?

“When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs as you do, you can relax a little and use more normal means of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock, to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind, you draw large and startling figures.”

That's one of the things I like about the blogosphere. People shout, and draw large startling figures.

All I Need To Know, I Learned At Auctions Part 1

I'm at an auction in Houston this morning.
These things are one of the greatest learning experiences available. I don't think you should be able to graduate from the Fort Worth ISD without going to a Richie Brothers auction. There's much to be learned there. Had I started going at age 17 instead of age 35, I'd be in better financial shape now.

So along with the monthly wisdom of Thomas Sowell, and the monthly deconstruction of the advertising in Harper's magazine, I'm going to add.....

All I Need To Know, I Learned At Auctions, with apologies to Robert Fulgham's bestseller with a similar title about kindergarten.

Lesson #1 - Nobody has any idea what anything is worth.

Things are worth what people will give for them, "as is", "where is", as the auction saying goes. Appraisals don't mean a thing, except as a marketing tool. The only way to determine the value of something is to sell it.

The Reverend Doctor Karl Marx advocated something called the Labor Theory of Value. I'm oversimplifying here, but this is the idea that things are worth the amount of labor that went into them.

Equal amounts of labor went into the latest Kanye West and K-Fed CD's. One of them sold well, and the other couldn't be given away with McDonald's Happy Meals.

The labor of Bill Gates would be worth very little in a Mississippi Rice Field. The same labor was almost priceless on the west coast.

Ditto for VHS vs. Betamax video players.

Nolan Ryan rookie year baseball cards vs. Ned Yost rookie year baseball cards.

Don't get me started on Beanie Babies, Cabbage Patch Dolls, and other now valueless, once priceless, collectibles.

So far, I've seen things sell for pennies on the dollar, relative to the original price. I've seen other things sold for 80% of the cost of a new equivalent item.

Rev. Dr. Marx lived in a fairly simple society.

Today I'm trying to buy some forklifts. I know what I think they're worth.

They're worth what people in Tomball Texas are willing to give for them on May 6, 2008. Not a penny more, not a penny less.

The Recession Is Over ! ! !

The U.S. economy grew in the first quarter of 2008. That's what it did in the last quarter of 2007. The quarter we're in now is almost guaranteed to grow.

Despite all the media cheerleading for a recession, despite Alan Greenspan cheerleading for a recession (so his successor will look bad?), in spite of the Clintons' earnest prayers for a recession, the years 2000 through 2008 will probably be known to future historians as "The Bush Boom".

Libertarian types generally believe that the government should leave the economy alone. Just stay out of it. When government intervenes, they're postponing misery. When they manipulate interest rates, they're merely creating static, confusing the signals that the economy is trying to send. Any government action usually arrives too late to do any good, or is flat-out wrong.

Keynesian economists believe that government should be knee-deep, if not waist-deep, in the health of the economy. Government intervention is vital since only government can speedily and efficiently operate the appropriate levers of control.

The President and Congress recently passed legislation to give us tax rebates to get us through our recent non-recession, which has recently been declared "over".

If you're undecided on the libertarian vs. Keynesian points of view, let me ask some questions....

During which quarter of the recent non-recession (4th quarter 2007 or 1st quarter 2008) did you get your rebate check? Or have you gotten it at all?

Heh heh heh heh heh

Sunday, May 4, 2008

John Hagee, The Roman Catholic Church, The Antichrist, Hitler, The Holocaust, (all on one convenient chart)

Here's John McCain's latest bear to cross, or cross to bear, depending on your theological perspective.
McCain fell all over himself accepting this guy's endorsement several weeks ago.
Here is Reverend John Hagee, explaining that the anti-christ (in the form of his spiritual ancestors in Rome) is the Catholic Church.

Hagee references "the cup", from The Book of Revelation, traditionally interpreted as a cup of suffering. Notice where his pointer is aimed when he first talks about The Cup. I'm no expert, put I think that's a Double-D cup.

I spewed Gatorade all over the table when he did that.

I think Hagee and Jeremiah Wright will soon put together a vaudeville-style tour, where they'll bring their theological wisdom to bear on the great issues of the day.

Hagee does make a somewhat valid point, if you're a scriptural literalist. Hitler was only continuing a persecution that the church started; after Hitler, God will continue to punish those who don't believe, and it will be for worse and for a much longer period of time than anything The Inquisition of The Nazis could accomplish.

Please discuss amongst yourselves....

If the John Hagee tempest in a teaCUP continues to gain traction, you'll soon see feature stories on the Protestant difficulties with Roman Catholic doctrine.
Among these will be the Catholic emphasis on Church Tradition.
The Protestants will say that Christianity should only focus on what is revealed in scripture, not tradition.
The Catholics will respond with "How do you know what is and isn't scripture?"
The Protestants will shuffle their feet, cough, and respond with "Unhhhh....Catholic Tradition?"

These arguments, charts, and doctrines about Saint John's Acid Trip In The Book Of Revelation will have an impact on our choice of Next Leader For The Free World.
And so it goes.
To read an update on the McCain/Hagee Strange Bedfellows situation, click here.