Tuesday, August 31, 2010
And while I was happy to hear him mention George Bush--he simply can't bring himself to pay Bush the compliment he deserves for the courage of the Surge.
UPDATE: How Senator Obama viewed the surge.
Monday, August 30, 2010
And no, their names aren't "Smith" and "Jones".
Join me in rising up against the horrible injustice of sizism, so that we together may someday judge a man not by the length of his trousers, but by the content of his character.
"In a sense, Beck’s “Restoring Honor” was like an Obama rally through the looking glass. It was a long festival of affirmation for middle-class white Christians — square, earnest, patriotic and religious. If a speaker had suddenly burst out with an Obama-esque “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” the message would have fit right in."
That's it, really, for me. This rally and the Tea Party, represents a bunch of State-U or No-U, hard workin', church goin', tax payin', flag wavin' folks (I was channeling Sarah Palin there) who are a little bit tired of what they are seeing. And they will not be ignored.
Barack Obama's genius as a political figure is that he tapped into the hip, urban, cosmo, hepcat meme--and he got a pliant, cheering press to go along with him (because he was so much like them!). That was enough to win an election when the Dems could have run a goat against the Republicans and won--but now that the country has re-awakened, Obama and his Greek chorus at the NYT/WaPost, ABCNBCCBS, are beginning to realize how very, very different they are from a large chunk of America.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
1. I'm not a fan of Glenn Beck, but I sorta like what he's doing. He's getting folks interested, involved, thinking, talking, writing, reading. I happened across his radio show for the first time the other day--and lo and behold--to confirm the cartoons I've seen of him--he was sniffling and crying over something (not my cup of tea). But he is getting people movitvated.
2. This little article in the Washington Post was of interest to me. In the very first sentence, the crowd on the Mall was referred to as a "sea of activists". If anything, the interesting thing about the Tea Party, Glenn Beck's crowd, etc, is that they ARE NOT activists--unless all of a sudden deciding that you don't like the direction in which the country is headed and you decide to attend a rally now counts as making you an activist.
3. But of course, the racial makeup of the crowd on the Mall was of great interest to the Post. Referred to as "overwhelmingly white", this depiction stood in contrast to the counter-protest of one Reverend Al Sharpton, which was referred to as "mostly black". Here is a slideshow of photos from Sharpton's rally. The difference between "overwhelmingly" and "mostly" seems somewhat blurry, no? And just what the hell is Sharpton wearing? So the crowd was well-behaved, patriotic, friendly, upbeat, and supportive--but guilty of the great crime of being white.
4. Some of my liberal Facebook friends were absolutely getting the vapors over the Beck Rally, the common theme of which seemed to be that the choice of an anniversary of MLK's speech there was of course, symbolic of the right's desire to reinstate slavery, or at least Jim Crow. Liberals are fascinating.
Both columns speak to the current economic doldrums besetting the US economy--but that's where the similarities end. Krugman's column focuses on what can be done to get the economy moving (by government, naturally) because of the failure of the Obama economic stimulus. Why did the stimulus fail? Why, because it was too small (of course). Here is Krugman on that point. "In the case of the Obama administration, officials seem loath to admit that the original stimulus was too small. True, it was enough to limit the depth of the slump — a recent analysis by the Congressional Budget Office says unemployment would probably be well into double digits now without the stimulus — but it wasn’t big enough to bring unemployment down significantly." How does one know that this is true--that the failure of the stimulus was in its modesty? Why, because Krugman says so--and he's a Nobel Prize Winner. And by the way, who are you to question Professor Krugman?
David Brooks on the other hand, handicapped of course without a white tie and tails moment of his own, instead puts forward some data--or more correctly, a case study. In it, he contrasts the German economy (humming along at 9% growth rate) to ours. The point Brooks makes is that Germany chose NOT to engage in stimulative government spending (as a percentage of GDP, Germany's stimulus was 1/4 the size of ours); rather, Germany decided to act like an adult and impose spending restraint. Here's Brooks: "Over the past few years, the Germans have built on their advantages. They effectively support basic research and worker training. They have also taken brave measures to minimize their disadvantages. As an editorial from the superb online think tank e21 reminds us, the Germans have recently reduced labor market regulation, increased wage flexibility and taken strong measures to balance budgets."
Brooks takes this one, hands down. Krugman's economic analysis continues to be heavily influenced by his political biases. While he may be considered an effective political columnist, his insights on the macro-economy are simply derivative of the latest liberal talking points.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Here's how Gerson begins his argument: "In the normal course of events, political movements begin as intellectual arguments, often conducted for years in serious books and journals. To study the Tea Party movement, future scholars will sift through the collected tweets of Sarah Palin. Without a history of clarifying, refining debates, Republicans need to ask three questions of candidates rising on the Tea Party wave:"
First, do you believe that Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional?... It reflects a conviction that the federal government has only those powers specifically enumerated in the Constitution -- which doesn't mention retirement insurance or health care.....This view is logically consistent -- as well as historically uninformed, morally irresponsible and politically disastrous.
Gerson starts out by telling us that political movements begin as intellectual arguments--and on this, we agree. Then he takes a potshot at the Tea Party by suggesting that future scholars will sift through "tweets" to get at the underpinnings of the Tea Party movement. This is ungenerous. Basic, enduring Constitutional principles lay at the heart of much of the Tea Party's angst. It is Gerson who is historically uninformed, if he fails to recognize that the same arguments made today by (some) Tea Party candidates were made against the enabling legislation of both Social Security and Medicare. Clearly, those principled arguments were not based on "tweets", but on an ideologically honorable view of the role of government that animated the discussions of the Founders. Do I think Social Security or Medicare is unconstitutional? No. Do I think that objecting to them on constitutional grounds is loony or fringe or worthy of contempt? No. Gerson moves on to question number 2:
A second question of Tea Party candidates: Do you believe that American identity is undermined by immigration? An internal debate has broken out on this issue among Tea Party favorites. Tom Tancredo, running for Colorado governor, raises the prospect of bombing Mecca, urges the president to return to his Kenyan "homeland" and calls Miami a "Third World country" -- managing to offend people on four continents. Dick Armey of FreedomWorks appropriately criticizes Tancredo's "harsh and uncharitable and mean-spirited attitude on the immigration issue." But the extremes of the movement, during recent debates on birthright citizenship and the Manhattan mosque, seem intent on depicting Hispanics and Muslims as a fifth column.
I don't know about Mr. Gerson, but I don't hear Tea Party advocates bashing "immigration". I hear them bashing "illegal immigration", which is of course, very different than lawfully entering the country. That Mr. Gerson does not distinguish between them is unfortunate. Additionally, Gerson sweeps right over the legitimate questions (constitutional questions) surrounding birthright citizenship and the considerable cultural insensitivity surrounding the placement of a mosque so close to the defining attack of radical Islam upon modern western civilization. These are questions that vex not only Tea Party advocates, but also folks in the middle--which is why so high a percentage of Americans are on the Tea Party's side of both issues.
Question three: Do you believe that gun rights are relevant to the health-care debate? Nevada Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle raised this issue by asserting that, "If this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies." Far from reflecting the spirit of the Founders (who knew how to deal with the Whiskey Rebellion), the implied resort to political violence is an affectation -- more foolish than frightening. But it is toxic for the GOP to be associated with the armed and juvenile.
I agree completely.
Frequent readers know I am not of the Tea Party, and that I am far less a populist than is required to adhere to much of the movement's ideology. Gerson is right that the GOP should not be led by the Tea Party--but in his criticism of the intellectual roots of the movement and its current popular appeal, he denigrates a potential source of strength in practical right of center politics.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
**Ground Zero Mosque—the President’s Incoherence
**Iran, Russia, The US and Nuclear Issues
**Home Sales down 27%; the folly of homeownership
**Is Barack Obama the First Muslim President (as in Clinton as First Black President)?
**Judge Strikes Down Embryonic Stem Cell Research”
**AP College Football Top 10
Call in at 347.637.2203 to join in the fun!
Krugman is increasingly becoming a shrill voice of nonsense--but it's a good thing he's protected by tenure....
Monday, August 23, 2010
Throughout the course of our driving, we were confronted with a number of "Funded by the American Recovery and Re-investment Act" signs--annoying as they are. This of course led me to grasp that my tax dollars were busy at work, with the little bridge we crossed to and from Cruz Bay, and in the blacktop job further into town--not to mention several projects between the airport and the ferry on St. Thomas.
So someone--anyone--tell me why in the hell I just had to go through customs before the security check? If my GD tax money is good enough to fund crappy little bridge projects down here, and the folks who live here are also US citizens, why the need to go through customs?
What is the impact of this? Well, I couldn't check in/print boarding passes online for US AIR...because it is treated like an "international flight". So instead of boarding group 3--which I got all the way here because I could checkin online in the US (or at least the 50 states of the US), even getting to the airport 2.75 hours early only got me check in group 5--setting me up for overhead space wars.
But it is really bigger than that. Is this part of our country or not?
Elites and the Tea Party - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan
What a wonderful nine days this has been--a truly necessary break for the mind and body. I could easily have simply lingered here at the house for the entire time--so refreshing was the sun, the sound of the ocean below, and the listless bobbing of the sailboats moored there. But there were activities to be had (shopping, beach, snorkeling, sailing) friends to be met up with and entertained (they'll likely not read this, but The Gaenzle's were five-star companions) and sunsets to be observed from she-she overpriced restaurants.
My death camp guard routine ("the towels, the towels") got old for everyone (including me) and I got better as the week progressed at just living the Hammer life--you know, all free and easy and accepting and tolerant and all--you know, like we read about from him all the time.
The Kitten and I have not discussed our traveling separately together plan, but I won't push it. I'll go to my Zen-like Hammer Place and roll with the punches.
As much as I've loved this place, I will not miss its permanent residents, the mosquitos, some sixty of which feasted on my right leg whilst I slept the other night. Not a pretty sight.
I've scheduled no formal appointments tomorrow to ensure an easy transition back to the work world. We'll see how that goes....
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Pay Up :: News :: Article :: Philadelphia City Paper
Saturday, August 21, 2010
“I hope by next year we’ll have abolished Fannie and Freddie,” he said. Remarkable. And he went on to say that “it was a great mistake to push lower-income people into housing they couldn’t afford and couldn’t really handle once they had it.” He then added, “I had been too sanguine about Fannie and Freddie.”
And then, this: "When I asked Frank about a long-term phase-out plan that would shrink Fannie and Freddie portfolios and mortgage-purchase limits, and merge the agencies into the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) for a separate low-income program that would get government out of middle-income housing subsidies, he replied: “Larry, that, I think, is exactly what we should be doing.”
So the big, bad Wall Street bankers get pilloried in the press for their role in the financial melt-down, largely from guys like Frank. And now here's Frank basically saying, "I screwed up." Where are the calls for his resignation? Where are the calls for his surrendering part of HIS compensation for clearly buggering up the works through his mismanagement and legislative ineffectiveness? Don't hold your breath, folks.
|A Kitten in the foreground, a Cat in the background|
|Northeast view at Trunk Bay|
|Looking Northwest at Trunk Bay|
The Kitten and I continue to have a bit of a debate on vacations. Don't get me wrong--this is sublime. With the exception of the bugs at our house (a group of mosquitos feasted on my knee and thigh last night), I am having an amazing and relaxing time. But here's the catch--I really dislike driving to the beach. I hate the act of loading up a car, the preparation, the deliberateness of it all. Our place is situated on a beautiful bay, and we have access to it from a small beach. This is all I really need. The Kitten however, longs for the National Geographic quality beaches found 20 minutes away by Jeep. And so, we have twice piled into the Jeep for drives to the beach.
Which brings me back to the nature of the debate--I'm deep down inside an Outer Banks of NC man. I like a house on the beach or across the street from it, with a pool. If I want to go to the beach, I grab a chair, a towel and my umbrella and walk. Game over. I'm there, and I don't feel like I have to stay longer than I wish simply to gain return on the investment of lugging the gear across an island. Again--I don't wish to be ungrateful--where we are right now is wonderful and beautiful. But if I'm going to go to the beach? Give me Corolla NC anytime....
I continue to advocate phasing out the home mortgage deduction completely--in steps over a ten year period.
I love New Orleans, or at least the two blocks immediately around Bourbon Street. Can't find a bad meal there, and the coffee and beignets at the Cafe du Monde are to die for...
I also have a soft spot for Hispanic people--one that is born to some extent of a "prejudice" I have, which is that Hispanic people are very hard-working. I realize not all Hispanics are hard working--so maybe it's just the ones that I see working. New Orleans suffered a devastating blow in 2005, and rebuilding it required labor--in some cases, unskilled, low-wage labor. Who showed? Hispanics. In large numbers. That the City has rebounded as fast as it has is a credit at least in part to the hard work of this army of workers who arrived to put their shoulders to the load. Read the story linked to here--what comes up again and again are the stories of opportunistic Hispanics who saw in the rebuilding of New Orleans a chance to raise their economic conditions. That's the American way, people! That it is so often taught to us these days by people of dubious legal status is troublesome, but you have to admire their ethic.
As for the black community and its growing resentment of the newcomers, this too is a classic American story, that of the demographic in power beginning to feel pressure from below. White America saw some of this in the great migration of southern blacks to America's northern cities from the South in the 20's, and now New Orleans blacks are seeing some of it from the influx of Hispanics. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the long term. Until then, "laissez le bon temps rouler"!
Friday, August 20, 2010
Some of you know I have no problem with recess appointments, irrespective of who does them. The framers inserted the provision in the Constitution knowing that the US Government must function whether the legislature is in session or not. Clearly, the framers did not see a nearly year-round legislature as we have today, but the provision is there nonetheless. The Senate should do its bit and advise and consent--or stop bitching, no matter who the President is. Or change the Constitution--which no one will do of course, because they know their party will one day again hold the Presidency.
It's been said that we eventually all become our parents. I think in my case, it is mainly true. I have become a "towel Nazi", and even as I bellow about towels to the Kitten and Kittens, I have an out of body experience as if I were a little boy listening to my father speaking through me. When I was that little boy, I could never understand why he got so worked up about things I felt were so unimportant. Well--now that I'm an adult--I get worked up over very similar things.
Our house has four master bedrooms, each similarly appointed, each with a private bath. We are occupying two of the four, as neither Kitten wishes to be separated from their mother--and so they share a bed in the other upstairs room. In each of these private baths are an equal number of bath towels--probably four, and two additional beach towels. I know my Kittens--I know them well. If left to themselves, they would use a fresh towel of whatever variety every time they got out of the pool or out of the shower--and then basically leave it where it was used, presumably for the hired help (me) to pick it up. That is of course, if they remembered to have a towel nearby before they hopped into the pool, which is never a good bet to begin with. Again, there's always the hired help (me) to get them a towel.
I tried to institute a towel use regime into this gathering, but to no avail. I decreed that towels would be hung to dry after being used, and that we would each use one towel a day. This decree has been entirely ineffective (natch). As I write, I am peering into the bathroom used by the Kittens as two wet, rolled up towels grace the floor. The interesting thing though, is that when I conduct one of these little towel lectures, it is as if Jimmy Wires--my sainted father--were speaking THROUGH me. NOW I know what used to get him so riled up when we were kids! It was the knowledge then--just as I have now--that if left to themselves the kids would burn through every towel in the house in two days (they get in and out of the pool several times a day) and then whine about not having a fresh towel to use. But--you say--CW, you are on VACATION! Take a chill pill! This is in fact, what the Kitten tells me. And you--and she--are right. I have decided that I will make my towel decree extend only to me, and that the rest of them can be little towel piggies to their hearts' content. I will attempt to expend no additional spiritual energy on this subject.
Well, the phone just rang--it was the manager of the house we're staying in, telling me that the loss of power is an "island problem" and not just a house problem. Is that good news?
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
You read that correctly. Apparently the belief is he can save President Obama from himself by speaking out in support of the mosque, which they believe will give Obama cover.
I sure hope, after all the bashing of this man, that President Bush maintains the dignified silence he's displayed since leaving office. And we don't even know what W thinks on this subject!
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Anyone looking for a good business opportunity? Open a brake/clutch shop on St. John. The roads are all very hilly, and I gotta believe people tear through brakes and clutches at an amazing pace.
I feel really bad for the Kitten. She spent something like a dozen summers here as a young woman running a sailing program for teens. She knows the USVI and the BVI's like the back of her hand, she's a font of knowledge of a ton of cool things to do and where to do them. But the whole broken ribs/cast on the hand thing is holding her back a bit. She watched from the porch as the Kittens and I snorkled in the Bay---a little sad, I've got to say.
In an interesting arrangement of things, you drive on the Brit side of the road here, but the cars all have the American steering wheel position. You gotta stay on your toes.
It is fun to watch the girls together. They fight sometimes, as many do, but they really are very good friends. Situations like this--cut off from the familiar--seem to really reinforce their friendship and mutually supportive natures. I remember my Mom and Dad wondering if my brothers and I would grow up close, usually after one of the big Thunder Dome brawls that seemed to break out from time to time. Truth is, we pretty much have grown up close. I have no fear the Kittens will.
As most of you know, I consider myself a pretty clever guy (often, I'm the only one who considers me that). One place where my cleverness completely escapes me though is in game playing--games of ANY kind. Card games, board games, video games. I have about a 3 second attention span, and I am profoundly bad at any game requiring memory (Alzheimers candidate here). All three of the Kittens are amazing game players--and they take great joy in my ineptitude.
One final thing--some folks--moreso on Facebook--have chided me for writing/blogging/thinking etc while "on vacation". The folks who do so generally don't "get" me. This is what I do to relax--and it is hardly inconsistent with vacation. Working. Driving from the farm to the Pentagon three or four times a week. Writing papers and speeches. Putting together communication strategies. Thinking really hard about hard problems--those things are work--and I'm doing little of that down here.
There are a couple of reasons. Firstly, Haiti is geographically, right next door--it is in not only the Western Hemisphere, but the Northern Hemisphere. Proximity matters.
Secondly, I think there are many Americans--count me among them--who would like to see the oil rich Arab nations step up to the plate with their cash on this one--you know, the ones who use Pakistan to develop young Jihadi terrorists the way Major League Baseball uses the Dominican Republic to grow baseball players.
Finally--and this one probably lumps me into the category of misanthrope--I find it hard to reach for the checkbook to send aid to a country that has so prominently figured IN the worldwide Jihad, providing succor to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, with an intelligence service that has played on both sides of the fence for years. Yes--Pakistan is strategically important to us, and maintaining influence there is critically important. But I'll leave that relationship to the US government to manage. I manage my charitable giving, and I simply can't get the pen to meet the check on this one.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Oh, and here's a little pet peeve of mine. Paul Ryan wants to privatize portions of Social Security, and of course, he's savaged by Democrats for it. Every time one of them talks about how it will impact "seniors", I want to puke--because they know damn well the proposal (as George Bush's proposal before it) would not touch a single "senior". Anyone above 55 would stay just as they are.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
And now, through the magic of the internets we have that answer. I now bring you my first feature presentation, "The Great Comprise", which picks up the story of our intrepid travelers and star-crossed lovers shortly upon their return home from vacation.
The events depicted in this motion picture photoplay are a work of fiction. Any similarity to real persons (living or dead), places, events, or other material is coincidental and unintentional.
Puffy story here on how wonderful the widow of Ted Kennedy is, and how she's being quietly encouraged to run for office. Massachusetts Democrats are for it, Teddy's kids are not. (They feel her time is better spent raising money for the Edward Kennedy Institute, and promoting his legacy).
Vicki Kennedy appears to be a lovely, poised and accomplished woman. But let's face it, her candidacy would be based on her name alone. Can't this family go quietly into the night?
Before you start with the Michelle Obama comparisons--remember it is the OFF season down here, and I got the place for what a house on the Outer Banks would have cost--and that's a house a street back from the beach.
|Our swimmin' hole|
|Back Porch View|
The next moment that gets me uptight is boarding. I love Southwest, 'cause I always pay the 10 dollars to get into the "A" group. We were flying USAIR and were assigned group 3--i don't know what this means. I have no idea whether or not this is a good thing for four people flying only with carry-on bags. I only know that there's no way I'm not going to be in the front of the group 3 line. So five minutes before we are to board--the kitten needs to go to the bathroom. Naturally.
Carry on luggage is a particular point of angst for me (I can see Goldwater's Ghost at his computer now, laughing and snarfing coffee through his nose as I confirm every one of his views of me with this post). I despise the ridiculous circus that is the gaining of overhead space. If I can't be in an early boarding group with a near GUARANTEE of overhead space--I'll check my bag, no matter how small. The Kitten? She maintains that she's never in her traveling life been denied overhead space near her seat, and she's not going to vary her routine one bit in order to ensure it. One simply cannot reason with this woman.
We land in Charlotte with thirty minutes between flights. On the way to our gate, I suggest we stop and make a bathroom break (as we pass bathrooms). The Kitten (who has "practices" of her own) wants to get to our gate first, then re-deploy. At this point, I gotta pee like a racehorse, but I dutifully skulk along. We get to the gate, I claim "first" as I really got to go, and I run off to the men's room. I return expeditiously, without stopping for coffee, nourishment or magazine, so that none of my family will be inconvenienced by my absence (they are watching the bags, should some officious TSA person stroll by). I return and pass the baton--at which point the three of them make off for what can only be described as an extended shopping trip--to the point that they announce "pre-boarding" and my brood is nowhere to be found. Those of you who know me (again, GG) probably realize that by this point, I'm about to go high order....
So last night as I lounged in our plunge pool, I suggested a compromise. I suggested that we travel separately, together. That is, I have my bag, my passport, my boarding pass. I get to proceed through the airport at breakneck pace, responsible only for myself--while the Kitten(s) lolllygag behind, looking at shiny things and the latest Teen-beat magazines. I get on the plane with or without them, and if they arrive late with no overhead space, I am responsible for nothing. They must deal with the sexy Stews, whilst I sit calmly and smugly with my Kindle.
If they miss a flight, I'll meet them there. I'll have the room ready for them. I'll make them drinks and food when they arrive. 'Cause that's the kind of guy I am.
So as I was readying for my vacation trip yesterday morning (Sat.), I heard the reporting of the previous night's speech. I couldn't help but think that the President had given Republicans a great gift. Once again--Barack Obama has decided to come out on the side of a small minority of people because by doing so, he looks smart and internationalist and new-agey.
By the time I reached my destination and fired up the old Dell laptop, I'd come to see that the President had begun to back down a bit from his statements of the night before--that he wasn't commenting on the "wisdom" of the project, only its constitutionality. How predictable was this? Do you think Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi screamed at the Rahmn-o-nator a bit yesterday? Do you think the White House got an earful from angry Democrats who are already in very dubious electoral positions? No doubt.
So once again--in an effort to be the smartest guy in the room and the hip internationalist he thinks he is--Barack Obama sold 70% of America up the river--first by telling a group antithetical to their views that opposing the mosque was unconstitutional, and then by inferring that believing so was un-American. Democrats have a right to be angry at the President, and so do the rest of us. November can't get here fast enough.
Friday, August 13, 2010
I, the Kitten and the Kittens are heading off on nine days of vacation tomorrow. I used to think vacations would get in the way of blogging, but they really don't--just the travel days. Vacations tend to give me MORE time to blog, so i hope things will pick up next week.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
List complete? Good. Now, does anyone's list NOT include Robert Byrd, Jack Murtha and Ted Stevens?
Isn't it kind of weird that they've all been called home this year?
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
**Gates the Knife
**Ted Stevens Dies—you’ll see no Kennedy-like outpouring…
**Charlie Rangel won’t walk away
**Michelle Obama’s Excellent Adventure
**Gay bar next to 9-11 Mosque?
Monday, August 9, 2010
"He said he had signed an agreement. He was ready to go, but I guess politics came into play", said Assemblyman Keith Wright (D-Manhattan) one of the leaders attending Saturday's meeting.
Yes Keith, it would appear the game is indeed afoot.
"There's nothing wrong with partisanship," Dodd thunders. "A little more civility would be a good thing, but it was partisanship that created this place." In the early decades of the republic, Congress "was a brawl." Partisanship simply reflects the reality of disagreement in a free society."
The distinction between partisanship and incivility is an important one. Bi-partisanship sometimes means appropriate, compromise positions--and it sometimes means milquetoast solution-seeking for the sake of seeking solutions.
Three cheers for partisanship, I say.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
It seems that Stephen pays his taxes in Switzerland, where he is employed as an executive with the World Economic Council. Switzerland happens to have some of the lowest tax rates in Europe. But here’s the thing – the Kinnock’s family home is located in Denmark, which has the highest tax rates in the world. Thorning-Schmidt has reported to Danish officials that her husband spends every weekend in Denmark, which allows him to be listed as co-owner of their home in the capital.
Oh yeah, one other thing - Thorning-Schmidt’s Social Democrats are calling for higher taxes to cope with the recession.
Higher taxes for thee, but not for me. I wonder if they vacation with the Kerry-Heinz’s?
Saturday, August 7, 2010
I make no value judgments on the use of oil in the United States. Sprinkled among the ridiculous Israel bashing/loving found in the comments to the cited story, is one defense of oil that I found compelling--and that is, that oil has been and will continue for the near future to be that which drives our economy. That the economy continues to be the world's largest, that it remains the engine for world economic health (China's economy is a fraction of ours, still), should be reason enough to tie the continued access to oil with continuing investments in naval power. We're simply not going to wean ourselves from oil anytime soon, and if we want to remain a global ECONOMIC power, we need to remain a global NAVAL power.
But how different would our strategy, force employment and force structure be if we (the US) were NOT as addicted to oil as we are? There's a PhD in the answers to that one.
For the moment though, I make the following observations:
1. We are dependent on oil and will be for decades to come. Continuing to invest in robust naval power designed at least in part to ensure the free flow of oil to world markets is a critical national security interest.
2. In the pursuit of defending that flow, we are beholden to many countries with views of modern America that are at best, dubious, and at worst, hostile.
3. Our addiction to foreign oil fattens regimes who are with one hand, accepting our cash, and with the other, funding the world-wide Islamic Jihad.
4. (Here's where things take a course change--stay with me) Continuing to beat the American public over the head with the science of climate change is not going to drive people to change their habits. Too many people are aware that the dinosaurs lived in a warmer world than we, and that there have been ice ages. They believe that CLIMATE CHANGES whether humans contribute or not--irrespective of the evidence. As a behavioral change model, CLIMATE CHANGE is a loser and it will not result in the policy aims it is put forward to support.
5. National Security however, is an effective model for behavioral change. Effective leadership in this country would talk about our dependence on oil as a NATIONAL SECURITY CHALLENGE--citing the bad actors on the other end of the transaction, their stated aims, and their ideological bent. Might we have spent $7.3 trillion on defending the flow of oil from 1976-2007? Maybe--who knows? But we all know we're spending SOMETHING to do that, and we all know it must be a considerable sum.
So--in summary. We spend a lot of money on (predominately naval) forces that are employed to protect the flow of a commodity that undergirds our prosperity. In the meantime, we fatten the coffers of those who would do us harm and even as we drain our own accounts in protecting that flow. Were we to communicate more directly with the American people--the real costs of the dependence on oil--we would go much farther in generating the behavioral changes necessary to end it, and there would be more support for government policies designed to usher in that end.
But instead, we try and convince Americans that if we don't switch to solar energy, in 600 years someone living in Salem, New Jersey might not be able to live in Salem, New Jersey.
Moving toward energy independence is the grand unifying theme of the future of American politics. It is a defense issue, an environmental issue, a technology issue, a commerce issue and an educational issue. Hanging its pursuit on ephemeral slogans like climate change is inappropriate to the magnitude of the challenge and the sacrifice needed to achieve it. Energy independence is primarily and most importantly, a national security issue, and it should be spoken of as such by our leaders at every opportunity. If in the process of moving toward renewable and non-carbon based fuels, we arrest man's contribution to climate change, that's all the better.
Cross-posted at Information Dissemination
Friday, August 6, 2010
This removal allegedly is not the result of a personality conflict, but when you're a miserable cretin like Olbermann, it can't help. But who cares about the reason-now we can actually enjoy the game without the mute button on.
Obviously, this is the front view. We're putting in a new roof, four dormers, an entrance portico and bump-outs to the two little wings (kitchen and first floor master.
|Adding a new roof, dormers, and a portico|
|Foundation work on Kitten's Office and a Laundry Room|
|Foundation work on Kitchen bump out and connection to porch|
We began a 7 month renovation here on the Kitten's house this week--a little later today, I hope to post the first of what I plan as a weekly (or so) photo montage of the progress of things.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
The Surgeon starts his little presentation with a discussion backgrounded with the x-ray of the original break. This proceeded whilst the resident removed the splint/cast from the delicate arm of my wounded mate. At one point, sorta out of the blue, the surgeon asked me if I was OK as I shifted a bit in my seat to alleviate an undergarment-driven discomfort. I answered with a jaunty "Absolutely, just shifting a bit in the chair".
Less than ten seconds later, I start feeling really, really funny. My head and extremities began to tingle; I felt hot. So I began to look away from the goings on, and breathe deeply. About this time, I realized that I was likely to faint--something I'd never done before--but the approach of which seemed obvious enough. So I interrupted with a "perhaps maybe I should leave the room", a mere seconds before what would have been a face plant into an electronic pillow provided by my Blackberry sitting atop my Kindle.
The resident helped me up and over to the exam table, to the chuckling of my beloved Kitten--reinforced once again in the knowledge that she is much tougher than I. Nurses brought me water, and a cold compress, and did their very best to reinforce my devastated ego with stories of men far more macho than I taking the dive right there in the shock trauma clinic.
No use. I left that room less of a man.
Presidents and their families have every right to vacation wherever they please. Critics of the Obamas for their vacation in Maine a few weeks ago vice a trip to the Gulf Coast looked petty. But while Michelle cannot exactly hop on a Northwest flight, the use of Air Force Two and providing accommodations for SEVENTY Secret Service personnel squares poorly with the need for sacrifice oft preached by her husband (remember 'you can't go to Vegas when you're saving for college'?
Perhaps I shouldn't judge her. After all, she has saved or created 26 ladies-in-waiting jobs.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
**Summertime Blues—Senate Republicans stimulus report
**Cuccinelli Strikes Again—Health Care, Immigration and the Old Dominion
**Shirley Sherrod to sue Breitbart for libel
**California Supremes uphold affirmative action ban
**Brett Favre retiring? Again?
**Meg Whitman California Gov Race--$99M?
Phone in at 347.637.2203. Big Fred won't be able to join in, so I'd be much obliged if we had a solid group of callers--if you don't like what I'm talking about, change the subject!
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
1. You know the farcical stereotype of people who live in Wisconsin all talking funny and being over the top nice? It's true. Really. It is. You should have seen the staff at the hotel I stayed in--I was moved by their dedication to friendliness.
2. Milwaukee's really a pretty big town--much bigger airport than I supposed. What are all these people doing here in a place that is simply inhuman in the winter? Drove past the baseball stadium---beautiful structure.
3. My flight is delayed an hour--I'll get to home base tonight about 1:30am, then up and off to the Pentagon at 0515...Poor planning on my part.
4. I spent most of the last two days in the company of dedicated research scientists and engineers. I'm amazed at how smart these guys are---ridiculously so. Made me think how much I hope that we start making guys like this again--in mass numbers. Maybe some will walk away from finance--we can only hope.
5. As I said, my flight is delayed an hour---the first time in memory that Southwest has let me down. I know, I know--an hour delay isn't a big deal these days. It is when you're looking at a short night of sleep, though.
6. Ten days until vacation with the Kitten/Kittens. We're headed to St. John USVI for nine days--a very, very necessary break for me. Will likely keep blogging though--that's not work. The radio show though....that's a different story.
7. Congrats to brother Sam Shapiro, who is ending his "life in the age of Obama" stint among the unemployed for a new job. Happy to hear it, old boy. What are you going to do with the blog dedicated to being unemployed?
8. I'm just heartbroken about Bristol Palin and Levi. Heartbroken.
'President Obama celebrates his 49th birthday in two days, and OFA supporters are getting ready to mark the occasion. They're hosting birthday parties in community centers, coffee shops, and their homes, celebrating our accomplishments and helping recruit new volunteers. This fall, we need to get as many of the 15 million first time voters as possible back to the polls. So this Wednesday, will you join us to celebrate the President's birthday?'
While the birthday celebration is obviously just a front to get their ground game going before November, at the same time there's something vaguely creepy about acknowledging the President's birthday like this. Not quite chanting-schoolchildren creepy, but it's somewhere in the vicinity.
I sadly had to regret lest I miss the radio show.
Republicans need not only talk about fiscal responsibility, they must be fiscally responsible.
Monday, August 2, 2010
In today's edition of Mr. Dionne's blathering, he points to reports that all three US car-makers are currently profitable as evidence of the auto-bailout's obvious goodness. In Mr. Dionne's well-practiced style, the end--tenuous as it may be--justifies the means. Because the US government pumped $60B into two inefficient and held hostage by labor corporations, Chrysler and GM continue to operate. But Dionne evades several important points in his rush to enshrine neo-socialism as the savior of our economy.
1. Ford did not take government money--yet it is even more profitable than the others.
2. Legitimate senior debt-holders (in the case of GM) were bypassed in favor of repaying a reliable Democratic constituency--the UAW.
3. Don't even get me started on bailing out Chrysler--a ridiculously poorly managed PRIVATE company.
There is of course, inconsistency in my position. I supported TARP when it was being debated, and I believe that it remains the single act of government that has had any real impact on our economy (thank you, George W. Bush). TARP bailed out banks, and it bailed out parts of the Auto Industry. Bailing out the auto industry cannot however, be compared to the likely unraveling of the world financial system that would have followed inaction to shore up credit markets. Put another way, if we hadn't bailed out the banks, it's not like there would have been other banks out there who could have easily stepped in and serviced the market--there wouldn't have BEEN a market. Let GM and Chrysler fail? Ford, Honda, Toyota, BMW et al would have filled the nation's needs for cars and trucks just fine.
"But wait--mean Mr. Republican dude--if GM and Chrysler had failed, a million people would have been put out of work. This would have had repercussions for the broader economy too."
Yes, it would. But in this case, the medicine was worse than the sickness. Two companies that should have failed are now on taxpayer supplied life-support. Friends and favorites of the administration walked away with their palms greased in the process, as the very unions whose shakedowns led to the non-competitive cost structures exploited by foreign competition--now occupy the catbird seat in company management. And so, GM and Chrysler live to see another day, we prop up an aging and inefficient industry, we pour good money after bad--so that in five years, both companies can sink into the lowly state wards that is their destiny.
Creative destruction has a place in capitalism, and this was the place for it.
I think by now most of you realize that I'm a big Paul Ryan fan--when I think about the kind of Republican I am, the kind of Conservative I am (remember--they are different), I think about Paul Ryan.
His roadmap for prosperity is tough medicine, and it contains some fairly aggressive ideas about getting entitlement spending under control. These ideas make both Democrats and Republicans nervous.
Democrats reject the ejection of the state from control of individual lives; Republicans are skittish about the sweeping scope of change suggested in Ryan's plans.
Ultimately, only sweeping change will get us headed in the right direction. Republicans taking the House--elevating Ryan to the Chair of the Budget Committee--would be an excellent first step.
Be not afraid, Republicans.