Saturday, December 5, 2009

Saturday Morning Reading

Where to begin, where to begin....
Let's start with the left, briefly pause in what passes for the center, move through the right, and then get to the good stuff.
Talking Points Memo.

President Obama took questions today after giving a speech on the economy at a community college in Pennsylvania. The first question, from a college sophomore, challenged Obama to look at new ways of creating jobs.
"I really appreciate how you're trying to stimulate the economy," the student said. "Maybe, if you checked out some of the statistics about legalizing prostitution, gambling, drugs and non-violent crime in order to stimulate some of the economy."
The audience broke into giggles.
"I appreciate the boldness of your question. That will not be my jobs strategy," Obama responded, to more giggles. "Part of what you're supposed to do in college is question conventional wisdom. So you're doing exactly what you're supposed to be doing."

But there was no response from The Teleprompter Jesus on why he's going to continue spending billions fighting victimless crimes and imprisoning the participants.

Also from Talking Points Memo, an ugly little story on 8 million incidents of police requesting GPS data. I don't think any warrants were required....

Under a new system set up by Sprint, law enforcement agencies have gotten GPS data from the company about its wireless customers 8 million times in about a year, raising a host of questions about consumer privacy, transparency, and oversight of how police obtain location data.

What this means -- and what many wireless customers no doubt do not realize -- is that with a few keystrokes, police can determine in real time the location of a cell phone user through automated systems set up by the phone companies.
And while a Sprint spokesman told us customers can shield themselves from surveillance by simply switching off the GPS function of their phones, one expert told TPM that the company and other carriers almost certainly have the power to remotely switch the function back on.

They know where you are. They know when you are there. They aren't bothering to get 8 million warrants, either.
One more thing from Talking Points Memo:

The New Jersey state senate is scheduled to vote on legalizing gay marriage next week.
Sen. Ray Lesniak (D) announced Thursday on the Statehouse steps that the Judiciary Committee will take up the bill on Monday. The full senate will vote on the measure Thursday.

Coming just days after the New York state senate defeated a gay marriage bill, the New Jersey votes present a big risk. It's not clear if the votes are there.

That's enough of Talking Points Memo. Reading their other crap about Copenhagen, the merits of a Pelosian Healthcare System, and.....well, it makes my head hurt. Let's move on to the mainstream middle:

CNN has a link on their front page entitled Big Improvement For Job Market. Our unemployment rate, according to those who keep the books, has gone from 10.2% to 10.0% ! ! ! Hit the second link. I think so many people were laughing about it that they took down the story.
That's enough from CNN. In the words of God in the Book Of Revelation, Chapter 3, verse 16, "But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth."
Here's some stuff from Real Clear Politics, one of the best political aggregator sites:

The Washington Post is waking up from its Rip Van Winkle-ish slumber to report on Climaquiddick a little more. Those poor guys have been distracted by the giant sucking sound of all the potential grant, research, and stimulus money going back to the taxpayers as a result of the leaked emails.

It began with an anonymous Internet posting, and a link to a wonky set of e-mails and files. Stolen, apparently, from a research center in Britain, the files showed the leaders of climate-change science discussing flaws in their own data, and seemingly scheming to muzzle their critics.
Now it has mushroomed into what is being called "Climate-gate," a scandal that has done what many slide shows and public-service ads could not: focus public attention on the science of a warming planet.
Except now, much of that attention is focused on the science's flaws. Leaked just before international climate talks begin in Copenhagen -- the culmination of years of work by scientists to raise alarms about greenhouse-gas emissions -- the e-mails have cast those scientists in a political light and given new energy to others who think the issue of climate change is all overblown.
The e-mails don't say that: They don't provide proof that human-caused climate change is a lie or a swindle.

Well, yeah, they do. They were government funded, they were trying to raid The Treasury, they were acting to silence criticism, and they've thrown away all the original data. Much like the outfit in East Anglia, NASA has been ignoring Freedom Of Information Act requests for two years.

The RCP guys also link to a New York Times piece by Obama Economics Apologist, Bush Basher, and therefore Nobel Prize Winner, Paul Krugman, who says that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has done a very bad thing.

At his confirmation hearing for a second term as chairman, Bernanke emphasized that the government has spent less than half of the money in the $787-billion package passed earlier this year and that analysts are still determining its impact.

“Only about 30 percent of the funds have been disbursed,” Bernanke said. “It’s a little bit early to make a strong judgment, a little bit early to decide whether or not to do additional fiscal actions.”

Krugman responded to the Bernanke quote with the following: "Bear in mind also that fiscal policy is slow to get underway. Waiting to be absolutely, totally sure that we really need more strikes me as deeply irresponsible."

"This was a very unhelpful statement."

You're dang right, it was unhelpful. There's going to be some kind of changing of the guard in 2010, the clock is ticking, and the Red Digital Readout is working its way down to zero.

Bernanke's most irresponsible acts? He won't allow an audit of The Fed. He won't shut down The Fed. But he has one advantage that Paul Krugman doesn't.
Bernanke isn't totally full of bullshit. Bullshit is not leaking from his ears. Bullshit doesn't impact Bernanke's ability to walk without slipping in it.

This is taking longer than I thought, and I have to go help with a church project we're doing with a low-income family. I'm gonna hit "Publish Post", and comment on some other links later today. Sorry.

Ok, I'm back. Let's move on to the good folks at Hot Air. They've got a story about some Afghan guerillas parading into an abandoned U.S. military facility in Nuristan province.

“Glad Tidings of Victory,” a video released by the Taliban’s Al-Emirat video production unit, shows the Afghan guerrillas strutting around an abandoned U.S. military base in Nuristan province. Taking a filmed “victory” lap around an American facility might make some sense as a propaganda tool. But taking a giggly victory lap on an elliptical in said base – as two Taliban enthusiastically do in the video – is a big infowar fail."

"....While some items can make for effective propaganda symbols, the display of (of Taliban fighters exercising on) lower body exercise machines, generally speaking, tends to dilute their impact."

I've brought this story to the attention of The Jihadist Safety Consultant, and he'll probably chime in sometime next week. We can't have terrorists working out on infidel exercise equipment without proper training, can we?
They've got another link to a Pajama's Media piece on the Dutch team that's been studying the ice cap on Mount Kilimanjaro.

Newspapers and news sites in the Netherlands today extensively broke the news of the findings of a research team led by Professor Jaap Sinninghe Damste — a leading molecular paleontologist at Utrecht University and winner of the prestigious Spinoza Prize — about the melting icecap of the Kilimanjaro, the African mountain that became a symbol of anthropogenic global warming.

Professor Sinninghe Damste’s research, as discussed on the site of the Dutch Organization of Scientific Research (DOSR) — a governmental body — shows that the icecap of Kilimanjaro was not the result of cold air but of large amounts of precipitation which fell at the beginning of the Holocene period, about 11,000 years ago.

The melting and freezing of moisture on top of Kilimanjaro appears to be part of “a natural process of dry and wet periods.” The present melting is not the result of “environmental damage caused by man.”

....DOSR calls Al Gore’s iconic use of the melting cap of Kilimanjaro “unfortunate” — since it now seems to be mainly the result of “natural climate variations.”

With the exception of handing Ross Perot some portraits of Smoot and Hawley, Gore's entire career has been "unfortunate". His Grammys, Oscars, and Nobels were "unfortunate". But his iconic use of the melting cap of Kilimanjaro has been a godsend.
Yes, we should be grateful for Gore's choice. We are fortunate.
There would've been no way to disprove an Al Gore scam to save the melting ice cap on Mount Asfertimondig Hoittpifflesteinin Grogger on the forbidden planet Nekthar.

Hot Air also links to a Weekly Standard piece on Climaquiddick:

No drug company could get through the FDA approval process with data handling this slapdash, yet the climate policy process contemplates trillions of dollars in costs to economies around the world based partially on this incompetent work. Worse, it suggests the possibility that the CRU circle might not be able to replicate its own findings from scratch, let alone outside reviewers. No wonder Mann keeps issuing new versions of his hockey stick....

Climate change is a genuine phenomenon, and there is a nontrivial risk of major consequences in the future. Yet the hysteria of the global warming campaigners and their monomaniacal advocacy of absurdly expensive curbs on fossil fuel use have led to a political dead end that will become more apparent with the imminent collapse of the Kyoto-Copenhagen process. I have long expected that 20 or so years from now we will look back on the turn-of-the-millennium climate hysteria in the same way we look back now on the population bomb hysteria of the late 1960s and early 1970s--as a phenomenon whose magnitude and effects were vastly overestimated, and whose proposed solutions were wrongheaded and often genuinely evil (such as the forced sterilizations of thousands of Indian men in the 1970s, much of it funded by the Ford Foundation).
Today the climate campaigners want to forcibly sterilize the world's energy supply, and until recently they looked to be within an ace of doing so. But even before Climategate, the campaign was beginning to resemble a Broadway musical that had run too long, with sagging box office and declining enthusiasm from a dwindling audience. Someone needs to break the bad news to the players that it's closing time for the climate horror show.

Of course Climate Change is a genuine phenomenon. It's a freakin' cliche. "If you don't like the weather in Texas, just wait a few minutes", etc etc etc.
Thank God this farce is almost over. But think of the millions that industry, interest groups, and individuals have had to spend to protect themselves from the Statist Chicken Littles.

That's enough from the Left, the Right, and the bland Center. On to the Libertarian-leaning forces of goodness.....
Here's some stuff from Reason magazine's Hit & Run section.

First, they link to something in The Nation, where you can get a Garden Noam For Your Killing Fields. (It's a Noam Chomsky pun. Lefty academic Noam Chomsky was an apologist for Cambodia's Killing Fields. Get it? A Garden Noam For Your Killing Fields?)

....along with a Karl Marx plush toy,

....and some Great Revolutionaries Finger puppets.

That's Gandhi on the far left, whose non-materialist philosophy required the wealth of 3 princes to maintain, and whose peaceful approach required hundreds of thousands of soldiers to implement.
Then there's mass-murderer Che Guevera.
Then there's Leon Trotsky, whose revolution resulted in the death of millions from purges, starvation, or worse. Yeah, worse.
And finally, on the far right, Nelson Mandela.
Chomsky, Marx, Gandhi, Che, Trotsky, and Mandela. Treat those guys like an SAT question. Five were famous statists, one was a victim of the state. Circle the correct answer.

But wait, there's more. They've also got a link to a Bowlsheviks bowling T-shirt that you can order through Mother Jones for only $39.95. It has Lenin's profile on the bowler !

Lord have mercy. I guest if you're dense enough to continue buying into The Nation's post-Marxist, death of the Bolshevik dream, collectivist nostalgia, you're probably dense enough to purchase a $39.95 T-shirt.

Reason also has some good stuff on Climaquiddick.

Americans honor the courageous informant, the gutsy citizen who stands against the savagery of the profit-mongering conglomerate. Well, sometimes. It appears, believe it or not, that there are those who aren't religiously tethered to this sacred obligation.

....Yet Barbara Boxer, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, is off hunting bigger game.

"You call it 'ClimateGate'; I call it 'E-mail-theft-gate,'" Boxer clarified during a committee shindig. "We may well have a hearing on this; we may not. We may have a briefing for senators; we may not." Boxer, as steady as they come, went on to put the focus where it belongs: on hackers. She warned: "Part of our looking at this will be looking at a criminal activity which could have well been coordinated. ... This is a crime."

If this hacker(s) is unearthed on U.S. soil (or anywhere in the Middle East, actually), Boxer can jettison the guilty party to Gitmo for some well-deserved sleep deprivation.

The more we get into this mess, the more it looks like a whistleblower, not a leaker. Remember when Whistleblowers were Time magazine's Person Of The Year a while back?

Somehow, I don't think this anonymous whistleblowing (or hacking) hero will get that honor. This hit 'em all where it hurts.

Let's move on to Radley Balko's Agitator blog. Mr. Balko has a link to the greatest newspaper correction ever published.
And here's a surprising story on Senator Max Baucus....

....the man who is apparently going to save health care for all of America nominated his girlfriend to be a U.S. Attorney. So yeah. I can’t see any problem with having our health care system dictated by politicians. No problem at all. I’m sure all decisions will be made based on what’s best for America and stuff. Never on what’s best for the politicians themselves.

It's because Free Market Capitalism is just too corrupt.
Now let's move on to Instapundit.

Instapundit has a link to something written by Free Market Goddess Virginia Postrel called "Gifts And The Knowledge Problem".

An article in Sunday’s NYT travel section carries the season-appropriate headline, “Brad Pitt’s Gifts to New Orleans.”
The piece suggests, rather gently, that the actor has made a common mistake: giving what pleases him rather than what the recipient wants.
The displaced residents of the Ninth Ward would like comfortable, inexpensive, and quickly available houses.
Pitt prefers cutting-edge architecture. Residents are grateful for his generosity and good wishes, but their gratitude is tinged with regret for what might have been if he’d heeded their desires.
....The problem of buying good presents for other people, even people you supposedly know well, illustrates that old familiar Hayekian concept, the knowledge problem. If you can't even give your loved ones the right presents, how likely is it that a central authority could make the right decisions for everyone?

Well, Virginia, I believe in Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. I trust them to make the best decisions for my health, my company, my family, and whether or not we should go to other continents and shoot people. Who needs knowledge when we have this level of trust?

Finally, Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit shares an update to one of his favorite charts. The lines in blue were provided by The Teleprompter Jesus Economic Team. The red lines are provided by employers who are scared shitless about what those Messiahs are going to do next, and are understandably reluctant to invest anything with this batch of goobers at the helm.

Please remember this chart the next time you hear them call for another Stimulus Package.

That's it for today, Saturday November 5th, 2009. I can't believe there are bloggers out there who claim there's never anything to write about.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Harold Meyerson wants another stimulus from your bathtub so he can get more water into your bathtub. Or something like that.

When Harold Meyerson, resident Obama apologist for the Washington Post, publishes an editorial, Professor Donald Boudreaux of George Mason University usually rips Meyerson into small bite-sized fragments.
I have but one goal here. In this post, I want to predict how Boudreaux will rip Meyerson's head from his body. I think I've read enough economics in the last five years to anticipate Boudreaux's moves, much like Ron Jaworski analyzes the quarterbacks on Monday Night Football.

I work in the shipping and logistics industry, and this qualifies me to comment on these issues.

Time For More Stimulus
By Harold Meyerson
Thursday, December 3, 2009

President Obama convenes a summit today to hear from a range of interested parties how he can goose the American economy to create more jobs. Yet, for weeks, virtually every White House employee with the power of speech has made clear that the president doesn't intend to increase the deficit, and that the idea of a second stimulus is a non-starter.

I expect Dr. Boudreaux to state that there is no room at the Obama table for those advocating a Free Market approach to the economic recovery. Therefore the summit is a waste of time. He will state that if every politician, union leader, protectionist, rent-seeker, and stimulus hog were to go to Disneyworld for three months, the economy would immediately show dramatic improvement.

Boosting the economy without increasing government spending on jobs is squaring a circle, however. Standing athwart the prospects for a second stimulus is the universal belief that the government has already enacted a massive stimulus program, to the tune of $787 billion, even as unemployment has risen to 10.2 percent. If that's what $787 billion produces, the thinking goes, why bother to try again?

Dr. Boudreaux will rise up from his pallet, gird up his loins, take up his sword of righteousness and ask where the money for government jobs comes from. He will explain for the nth time that taxpayers spend their own money more wisely than Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid spend their money. Taxpayers reward businesses that have the best chance of growth, since they are supplying the best product for the best price. Dr. Boudreaux will tell us that Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Reid intend to reward contributors, constituents, and cronies.

Dr. Boudreaux will then retire to his scholarly chamber and spend the rest of his day contemplating the sinfulness of the human race.

In fact, that spending has saved or created more than 640,000 jobs, and possibly as many as 1.6 million, the Congressional Budget Office reported this week. More important, total government spending to combat the recession is far less than $787 billion.

The good doctor probably won't dignify these statistics with a response, since they are simply pulled out of someone's ass. Therefore, I must interject the following: Taking money away from taxpayers and their preferred spending projects IS THE BEST WAY TO KILL JOBS, HAROLD ! !

For one thing, most of the funds appropriated for job-creating projects in 2009 and 2010 are to be spent in this quarter and next year. So we haven't seen the full effects yet. And $146 billion of the stimulus is targeted for the years 2011-19 -- bringing the short-term total of the package down to $641 billion.

Exactly. And Porkulus II will also be backloaded. But according to Keynesian witch doctors, government is the only agency capable of quickly pumping large sums of pump-priming money into a recession. Government is the only way to get the money spent, but they never do it quickly. Do you know why?

Well, when the project fails, the thieves can claim that all the money hasn't been spent yet. (But they're always in a hurry to vote immediately, without bothering to read the bill, because of The Fierce Moral Urgency Of Robbing Peter To Pay Paul.)

Actual public spending to boost the economy is still a great deal smaller. For while the federal government has been pouring money into the economy to counter the collapse of private spending and investment, state and local governments have been taking money out of the economy in ways that deepen our decline.

A recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities assesses the 2009-10 budget shortfall for the 50 state governments at a stunning $350 billion -- a gap that the states (all but Vermont have to run balanced budgets) have addressed by slashing services, cutting jobs and raising taxes. "All these steps," the center concludes, "reduce the purchasing power of workers' families, which in turn affects local businesses."

So why not have the states continue to slash services and cut jobs? Heck, I've had to cut jobs, cut jobs, and cut more jobs. Lather, rinse, repeat. Lather, rinse, repeat. Then maybe we can CUT taxes. Let us keep more of our money. See if this helps the purchasing power of workers' families. And get their jobs back. Or some other job. Whatever consumers decide they want.
Meyerson then goes into a tiresome digression to prove that Porkulus One wasn't nearly big enough, and the states are burdened with high expenses and low tax revenue (since the states apparently increased spending during the good times just for the hell of it). I won't copy the entire thing here, but masochists can hit the link at the top of this post, where Meyerson says that we must spend more money now because elections are coming in 2010 and if the Republicans take over they're going to give the money to a different set of vultures.

Indeed, during a recession, the American system of government works like the bathtub in an old algebra problem ("old" means I had it in middle school). In it, water pours into the tub from the tap but exits the tub from a drain that isn't stopped. If you know the rates of filling and draining and the size of the tub, you can calculate the water level.

Harold, you ignorant slut.
Here is where I expect Dr. Boudreaux to execute his patented Karate Kid Crane Kick:

In the old algebra problem, water is pouring into the bathtub from an outside source. In your analogy, though, the water coming out of the tap is coming from the bathtub !! And we all know who has their lips firmly attached to the life-sustaining drain, don't we?

When I spend money, I get what I want in the exchange. When government spends my money, they get what they want in exchange. Only a fraction of it makes it back into my Meyersonian bathtub.

In an American recession, the federal government is the tap and the state and local governments are the drain. That's no way to fill a tub, and no way to fight a recession. Which is one more reason we need a big second stimulus, since our system doesn't let us plug the leaks.

No, Harold, no. We are the tap, and we are the bathtub. It's our damn bathwater. All branches of government are the leaks.
Go plug yourself.

Healthcare Hypotheticals

I read about the merits and demerits of the upcoming healthcare bill on a lot of other websites. The Comment Field debates usually wind up with the Statists accusing their opponents of selfishness and mean-spiritedness.

Well, let's assume that convicted swindler Bernie Madoff has been released from prison. Bernie gets together with Louisiana televangelist Jimmy Swaggart and former Chicago governor Rod Blagojevich.

These guys come up with a healthcare plan that will ensure that all Americans have healthcare coverage. It's 2,000 pages long, and no one involved in the process of compiling the plan will admit to reading the whole thing. It's identical to the plan under review in Congress, but with Bernie, Jimmy, and Rod administering the system.

The U.S. government is seriously considering implementing the Madoff/Swaggart/Blagojevich healthcare plan, and allowing those three gentlement and their followers to run the program.

If you oppose this plan, does this mean you want to see uninsured babies die?

Does your opposition to this con game mean that you are mean-spirited or selfish?

Is their anything, anything at all, in the past history of Madoff/Swaggart/Blagojevich that leads anyone to believe they could honestly and effectively administer something as massive as the American medical system

And finally, the U.S. government has spent $12,000,000,000,000.00 more than its income. (That's 12 trillion, if you lose count of the zeroes.) At worst, Madoff/Swaggart/Blagojevich have cost their unfortunate followers 20 billion. At best, they have displayed a certain (ahem) entrepreneurial zeal.

Are you a selfish bastard if you oppose the genuine healthcare reform program or the M/S/B reform program? And if you had to choose one over the other, which one would it be?
The cool pics came from Photobucket.

Chinese TV station reenactment and animation of the recent Tiger Woods car wreck

This is why Al Gore invented the internet. So I could instantly see things like this. Hilarious.
I love being alive.

BTW, one of my favorite things about going to China is watching the Chinese Gangsta Rap videos. Will post some soon if I can find them.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

On religious hangings, bannings, and boycotts

From The Associated Press, on Switzerland's recent ban on any new minarets:

GENEVA — The United Nations called Switzerland's ban on new minarets "clearly discriminatory" and deeply divisive, and the Swiss foreign minister acknowledged Tuesday the government was very concerned about how the vote would affect the country's image.

U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay said Sunday's referendum to outlaw the construction of minarets in Switzerland was the product of "anti-foreigner scare-mongering."

The criticism from Pillay, whose office is based in the Swiss city of Geneva, comes after an outcry from Muslim countries, Switzerland's European neighbors and human rights watchdogs since 57.5 percent of the Swiss population ratified the ban.

The Swiss government opposed the initiative but has sought to defend it as an action not against Islam or Muslims, but one aimed at improving integration and fighting extremism.

"These are extraordinary claims when the symbol of one religion is targeted," Pillay said in a statement. She said she was saddened to see xenophobic arguments gain such traction with Swiss voters despite their "long-standing support of fundamental human rights."

The referendum doesn't affect Switzerland's four existing minarets, or the ability of Muslims to practice their religion. It only bans the towers used to put out the Islamic call to prayer.

Let's change gears. This is from learned Islamic scholar Zakir Naik, probably the most popular Islamic theologian on our planet, on why it is understandable that non-Islamic religions are banned from constructing churches or synagogues in Muslim countries. (Spoiler alert: Islam is the only religion that gets it "right". Two plus two really does equal four.)

And finally,

Saudi Arabia has sentenced a man to death for practicing witchcraft.

A man has been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for witchcraft because he makes predictions on television.
Ali Sibat is not even a Saudi national.
The Lebanese citizen was only visiting Saudi Arabia on pilgrimage when he was arrested in Medina last year.

A court in the city condemned him as a witch on November 9.

The only evidence presented in court was reportedly the claim he appeared regularly on Lebanese satellite issuing general advice on life and making predictions about the future.

The case is causing outrage among human rights campaigners but has made little news elsewhere despite the ludicrous nature of the charges and the extraordinary severity of Sibat's sentence.

"Saudi courts are sanctioning a literal witch hunt by the religious police," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

"The crime of witchcraft is being used against all sorts of behavior, with the cruel threat of state sanctioned executions."

Ali Sibat's supporters say he was denied a lawyer at his trial and was tricked into making a confession.

He is not the only victim of Saudi Arabia's literal witch hunt. Human Rights Watch says two other people have been arrested on similar charges in the last month alone.

It claims a lower court in Jeddah started the trial of a Saudi this month who was arrested by the religious police and said to have smuggled a book of witchcraft into the kingdom.

In another case the religious police are said to have arrested for "sorcery" and "charlatanry" an Asian man accusing him of using supernatural powers to solve marital disputes and induce others to fall in love.

Let's wind things up with a post from Dr. Ralph, who reports on the continuing struggle against retailers who say "Holidays" instead of "Christmas":

I'm bracing myself for our latest holiday tradition, the bombastic pronouncements about the "War on Christmas."

For the past several years, self-anointed protectors of Christmas have been creating lists of which retailers are naughty or nice. This seems to boil down to who says "Holiday" in their advertising instead of "Christmas."

On the Naughty list have been such Satanic organizations as Sears, Wal-Mart, Target, The Gap, Banana Republic, Home Depot. This year's Naughty and Nice list has been helpfully compiled by the American Family Association of Tupelo, Mississippi.

You may recall the American Family Association, led by the Reverand Donald Wildmon, from their previous name, the National Federation for Decency. They reared their pointy little heads in 1977, when they campaigned against what they perceived as indecency on television. Interestingly they never seemed to care about violence, just sex.

It will come as no surprise that the AFA rails constantly against what they refer to as "the homosexual agenda." As is usually the case, they wrap their intolerance and hatred in religiosity.

Fighting immorality must be profitable: the AFA's annual budget is around $14 million. The Reverend Donald's son Tim is now President of the family business.

And a business it is, make no mistake.

In addition to their network of 28 radio stations (all Family Friendly!) they've expanded their Decency Empire to include news websites for the Christian point of view, support for home schoolers, a line of "Christian-focused" videos, estate planning, and Holy Land vacation tours.

They even hawk their very own AFA branded Internet Filter ("Use the trusted Family Filter the Wildmons use in their home!").

You can't make this shit up.

No, you can't make it up. All you can do is copy, paste, and lament. My religion is right, because it's the one I grew up with. Your religion is wrong, because it is so obviously silly. I can't defend my religion with anything other than appeals to brand loyalty. You can only defend yours with force.

But we're still going to hang, ban, or boycott each other because of these stories.

Like The Doctor said, you can't make this shit up.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Found on Reddit.

Stephen Smith on Democrats and Republicans

Stephen Smith, over at "A Beginner's Guide To Freedom", has a new post explaining the vital differences between Democrats and Republicans.

There aren't any.

"As the world recovers, we will face a temptation to replace the risk-and-reward model of the private sector with the blunt instruments of government spending and control. History shows that the greater threat to prosperity is not too little government involvement, but too much."
- George W. Bush, November 2009

At a fundraising event for his presidential library last week, former President George W. Bush warned that too much government intervention in the economy could hinder a recovery. He also expressed concern over what he sees as the Obama administration’s drift toward protectionism.

It’s nice to know that the former President is out there on the chicken dinner circuit defending limited government and free-market economics. It would have been nicer if he had done that from the Oval Office for those eight long years. Instead, while in office President Bush presided over
record federal spending, massively increased the regulatory state, bailed out failing companies, levied protectionist tariffs on imported steel, helped fuel the real estate bubble, and signed into law a government prescription drug plan that represented the largest entitlement expansion since the creation of Medicare itself.

Now that former President Bush is safely out of power, however, he’s rediscovered the value of free market principles – the same
free market principles he abandoned in order to "save the free market". Nice. Mr. Bush’s speech offers a shining example of a long-standing libertarian criticism of Republicans. Whenever they’re out of power, they talk like libertarians (on economic issues, anyway). But as soon as they’re back in power, they govern like Democrats.

This is not to say that Bush’s comments at the fundraiser were wrong. He’s quite correct that President Obama’s massive government intervention in the economy will have detrimental effects over the long run. But it takes an extraordinary degree of chutzpah for George W. Bush to level those criticisms at Obama given the fact that it was Bush who initiated many of the destructive policies he suddenly finds so troubling. One might argue that the current administration’s policies outstrip those of the Bush administration in their scope and degree, but it’s hard to identify any serious substantive differences between the two when it comes to the economy.

Go here to read the whole thing. It's worth the trip.

Here's the last paragraph, just in case I haven't convinced you....

There is another approach, however. Instead of arguing over numbers (one trillion or two?), we could debate fundamental principles of just law and proper governance. But that would require the key players to have identifiable principles in the first place, which is obviously too much to ask from the likes of Bush or Obama. From what I can tell, only the libertarians are ready for that kind of discussion.

Unless you hit one of the links, you'll never, ever know which iconic 1980 album cover Stephen chose to illustrate his post.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Political Quiz

The Whited Mama, who nurtured my love of books, laughter, ideas, and groceries, sent me a link to this political quiz.
I got 12 out of 12, which is probably a sign that I'm spending way too much time on the internet.

Please post results below. Any readers in the U.K. (ok, Cedric, I'll throw in South Korea) get two bonus points just for playing.

Touching moment from my Thanksgiving weekend.... My mother decided that when she dies, I get her ashes, since the other three siblings didn't want them.
You have to know us to understand why we all think this is funny.

The Weekly Radley - No one was ever murdered over a Michelob deal gone bad

Go here.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Jacob Weisberg - Obama's Brilliant First Year

Jacob Weisberg has an article at called "Obama's Brilliant First Year".
The subheading reads "By January, he will have accomplished more than any first-year president since Franklin Roosevelt".

They always say that like it's a good thing.

The idea of busier equals better has always mystified me. When people say that FDR got us through the depression, it's kinda like saying that Kennedy and LBJ got us through Viet Nam.

Here's the unemployment rate for FDR's term(s) in office. Remember, he was jacking around with the economy, Congress had jacked around with imports and trade, and no one had any idea what insane stunt they were going to try next.

Disregard that line running through the 20% mark. We're probably at about 11% unemployment right now, and the worst mark the year after the stock market crash was 14%.

We wouldn't see those happy times again until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Business will not expand in an unstable environment. As long as The Teleprompter Jesus is publicly considering Cap And Trade, as long as he's considering Card Check, as long as he's considering adding to inflation with a second Stimulus Package, as long as he's considering making health insurance mandatory for all employers, employers aren't going to put their money at risk. You wouldn't either.

We won't see anything below 10% unemployment until after the 2010 elections, an event future historians will call "The Great Rebuke".

Update from Monday a.m., November 30th.... Go here to read a Roger Kimball dissection of the Weisberg piece. It's called "Humor from Jacob Weisberg", and is worth the trip.

Mr. Kimball and I once had an email exchange about Lewis Lapham, editor of Harper's magazine. I remember that he used the word "egregious".

Roger Kimball. Interesting guy.