I did not do very well with my 2010 predictions, only one of which came to pass:
7. Tiger Woods will play in at least one major championship this year.
For this year, I offer the following mixed bag. GG has of course, set the gold standard of prediction.
1. Tiger Woods will win a major championship this year.
2. The Dow will be above 12,500 at year's end.
3. Unemployment WILL be under 9%
4. The Patriots will win the Super Bowl
5. The Phillies will win the World Series
6. China and Japan will experience a flashpoint over the disputed Senkaku Islands in which shots will be fired.
7. My renovation will come in on budget, but six weeks late.
8. The US and Venezuela will be brought to the brink of war over Venezuelan plans to station ballistic missiles capable of ranging the Southern US. There will be no war, and no missiles.
9. I will be less than 180 lbs on New Year's Eve 2011.
10. President Obama will have a good year--the economy will be in full recovery, cooperation with Republicans in Congress will redound to his benefit, he will be in a commanding position for the 2012 election at year's end.
My 2010 predictions were a mixed bag (I definitely nailed two of the ten if you count Ricky Martin as a major celebrity). My outlook for 2011 isn't as hazy:
- While private job creation will rebound and pick up in the US, the overall unemployment rate will not alter significantly and will not fall below 9%.
- Commodity prices will rise dramatically in the first half of 2011, but plummet as China's economy staggers and demand weakens.
- The price of oil will be above $120 a barrel on July 1st.
- Volatile weather will become a significant issue, especially in the Northeast, as several winter storms will batter the Atlantic coast and push municipal snow removal budgets to the brink. The Obama Administration will use this as the catalyst to push "Climate Change" legislation, seeking to recast the debate away from global warming and more toward the catastrophic effects of climate change on weather patterns; and, consequently, on the ecology and economy. Someone in Congress will call climate change the Number One threat to national security.
- An unexpected vacancy will open up on the Supreme Court sometime in the 3rd Quarter of the year.
- India will send troops into Pakistan.
- Hilary Clinton will resign as Secretary of State as part of a calculated move to position herself as a candidate in 2012.
- A team from the NFC will win the Super Bowl.
- The Philadelphia Phillies, who re-acquired pitcher Cliff Lee during the off-season, will finish 3rd in the National League East.
- Aliens who visited Earth in ancient times will return on Christmas Eve, as first speculated in the 1975 documentary The Outer Space Connection.
This morning's NYT Editorial page contains this little ditty, one accusing House Republicans of hypocrisy when it comes to the deficit. It is a beautifully concise summation of the Mars/Venus relationship conservatives have with liberals in general and the NYT in particular. Let's review some of its more relevant assertions, shall we?
It was not long ago that Republicans succeeded in holding unemployment benefits hostage to a renewal of the high-end Bush-era income tax cuts and — as a little bonus — won deep estate tax cuts for America’s wealthiest heirs. Those cuts will add nearly $140 billion to the deficit in the near term, while doing far less to prod the economy than if the money had been spent more wisely.
Let us review. There were no tax cuts on the table, there was simply the decision to maintain the status quo or raise taxes. Any additions to the deficit have nothing to do with the tax rate charged, as once again, it is status quo. Any deficit increase is therefore wholly attributable to spending.
The new Republican rules will gut pay-as-you-go because they require offsets only for entitlement increases, not for tax cuts. In effect, the new rules will codify the Republican fantasy that tax cuts do not deepen the deficit.
This is not fantasy, this is reality. Tax cuts NEVER have to "pay" for themselves, but spending must. This distinction flows from the metaphysical truth that the government has no money of its own, only the money it collects from its citizens. When the citizens (through their representatives) decide to limit that collection, government must responsively limit its operations as a result.
It gets worse. The new rules mandate that entitlement-spending increases be offset by spending cuts only — and actually bar the House from raising taxes to pay for such spending.
This is worse? Why? Why are tax increases "sensible", but benefit/spending cuts are not?
For example, the cost to make the Bush-era tax cuts permanent would be ignored, as would the fiscal effects of repealing the health reform law. At the same time, the new rules bar the renewal of aid for low-income working families — extended temporarily in the recent tax-cut deal — unless it is fully paid for.
Repeat again after me. Tax cuts don't "cost" anything, they simply represent a larger share of productive labor retaining its fruits. Asserting that a tax cut "costs" something assumes that spending must be considered as a constant. This is of course, not true.
The NYT represents a view of the relationship between the governed and the government that was largely repudiated in the last election, and to some extent, by the politics of the last three decades (2008 being anomalous). Its readership is declining consistent with the relevance of its editorial views.
Goldwater's Ghost teed this one up for me, so here's the drive.
I know I've discussed this before, but what in the world is with the Christmas Cards that have only children on them? C'mon, admit it. Every year, year in and year out, you get a ton of Christmas Cards that have pictures of merrily frolicking children apparently unaware of their Dickensian lack of parentage. I'm sure you do as I do--stare blankly at these strange small humans and wonder, "who the hell these kids are."?
So then you open the card and see "ah, its from the Morrises" or something like that. And you say to yourself "I've not seen the Morrises in ten years. I've never met these children before. I wonder what the Morrises look like these days".
Total Disclosure: The Kitten's cards feature only the Kittens. Though we've lived together for nearly three years now, we have not merged our lists, though I was mentioned this year in her pre-printed cards (as in, "Merry Christmas from The Kitten, Kitten 1, Kitten 2 and CW). The Kitten is hard over on her approach, which is one reason we've not merged our lists.
Total Disclosure 2: I sent my cards out this year with my standard update letter. It included a picture of the Kittens frolicking. Some have accused me of blatant inconsistency. I object to that classification, as the letter was discretely tucked into my standard, annual "COW" themed Christmas Card.
To all my friends who read this and shake your heads saying, "that CW sure is a pill", I get it. I hear you. But deep down, you know I'm right.
A friend asks the question below as a status on his FB site....the running commentary follows....
Do I need change? No, I normally give tips of 30% or more for average, acceptable service. #questionsIhate
Kim Mitchell For those people that ask me if I need change - the tip I was going to leave just went down.
14 hours ago · LikeUnlike
Dayna Heater I ask that all the time before I look at the cash in my hand. I don't mean to assume anything, i've got a whole lot on my plate and if I don't have to walk all the way back over there from the register to put down cash you don't intend to take it makes my life considerably smoother.
12 hours ago · LikeUnlike
Bryan McGrath The customer's job does not include making the server's life easier. Like Tim, I dislike this question.
3 hours ago · LikeUnlike
Dayna Heater I'm amazed you're so convinced of your own worth in such an interaction.
about an hour ago · LikeUnlike
Bryan McGrath You're absolutely right. I should begin making my own drinks, cooking my own food and serving it to myself at the restaurants I frequent in order to make things easier on the staff. Thanks for putting me on the straight and narrow!
about an hour ago · LikeUnlike
Dayna Heater if people at YOUR work didn't make your job easier in little ways every day I bet you'd whine like a little kid. there's nothing more irritating than people that feel they're the more important person in a human interaction. and yes, if you insist on being That Guy, do service industry people a favor and eat at home. your 12% tip isn't worth the lingering crappy feeling you're leaving behind in the person that's fighting through their 3rd consecutive 12-hour shift this week.
Ok--in all seriousness since we've hit a raw nerve....presumably you think Tim is a rational, clear thinking guy, and I'm an asshole (why my national origin is in play, I do not know--but I digress). But he agrees with me that the question... is an annoyance. Do you think we're the only two people who feel that way? Since it sounds as though your livelihood to some extent depends on tips, doesn't it make sense for you to understand that there is some portion of your client base that does not like that question, some of whom may not like it enough that they may be unlikely to tip as well next time they are in the place? I realize that you think I'm an asshole (probably true) and that you have me pegged as a 12% tipper (decidedly not true). What I am is a discriminating customer, who takes his dining business where he feels that the establishment takes its role in the transaction seriously--from reservation, to seating, to order taking, to food prep and delivery, all the way through the exchange of money. They realize that I am there because I do not wish to purchase the food at a grocer, store it, cook it, serve it and clean up after it. I want OTHER PEOPLE to do those things. This is the essence of the transaction. Are those who do these things servants? No. Are they providing a service? Yes. I am not obligated or expected to provide service BACK to them in any way in this transaction. I simply enjoy. For some odd reason, I feel that this is a large part of the "psychology" of dining out. Maybe I'm getting it wrong, but I figure that "making it easier" on the waitstaff doesn't enter prominently into that psychology. This does not give me the right to be obnoxious or demeaning--it simply give me the right for the 90 minutes or so I am in the establishment--to expect that MY needs and wants are what are at stake, not those of the staff. I wish you well, and I very much regret if I have upset or offended you.
The WaPost's reliable lefty (no, I really mean it. Very left.) Harold Meyerson has a column this morning in which he howls at the slow pace of spending of the 2009 "stimulus", pointing to a recent story that showed only a quarter of the money Los Angeles received had actually been spent. What had been spent represented a good bit of the payoff to Democratic constituencies that much of the stimulus actually consisted of, you know, those things that kept "gubment" workers in jobs created during flush times that SHOULD have been cut in lean times. What remained to be spent? "Shovel ready" project money--you know, the kinds of things folks on the right said were not stimulative at all because of how long they took to start and complete. Meyerson grants this, citing "good government" restrictions as contributing to the pace (economic and environmental impact studies, fair wage restrictions, you name it--a cornucopia of liberal nannying). The problem here is that folks on the right KNEW THIS, and folks on the left should have known it also. Of course we cannot mobilize labor and make things happen like we did in the the 30's. The lawsuits questioning the destruction of yellow-breasted gob-warbler mating grounds, or the demanding a "living" wage for the (union) workers on the site (which would of course NOT be the prevailing market wage) would be enormous. No, shovel ready ain't what it used to be, which is one of the reasons the stimulus was a bad deal from the start.
After listing an impressive run of liberal legislative victories in the Congress just past, Katrina vanden Heuvel of The Nation tells us in this morning's WaPost that there could have been more--if not for that pesky filibuster. I submit that the filibuster (or its threat) has therefore done its job. The framers saw the Senate as a deliberative body, the "saucer in which the hot tea" of the House cools. While there is no reference to the filibuster in the founding documents, its presence is a wholly predictable given the framer's desires for the Senate and the Constitutional power of each chamber to set its own rules.
I wonder if Ms. Vanden Heuvel was as aggressively anti-filibuster when GWB had a Senate Majority and was seeking to place conservative judges on the bench. Methinks not. The point is, while the filibuster has come to be used more than it has in the past, the Senate continues to pass legislation, fill vacancies, pass treaties, and authorize wars. That it sometimes serves to slow those processes should surprise no one, and should serve as a reminder of the dazzling brilliance of the founders who created the Senate in the first place.
Here's an interesting story of one of the incoming newly minted Republican members, Mike Kelly from Pennsylvania. This guy could be fun--he certainly says a lot of sensible things. How he became interested in running for Congress is a story unto itself. Well worth reading...
Taking a cue from Mudge's post the other day, it's only fair to warn you that the link contained below takes you to Alan Colmes' site 'Liberaland.'
Apparently I'm not the only believer in the Vick redemption story. The president is too. I think it's kind of an unusual stance for him to take, but he recently phoned Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie to thank him for giving Vick a second chance. Per Obama, a level playing field rarely exists for prisoners who've completed their sentences.
Of course, few former prisoners have the insane degree of talent that Vick does. No word on what Bo Obama thinks.
Last night's Philly/Minnesota game was postponed until Tuesday night because of an expected foot of snow. This is of course, ridiculous on its face. Watching the almost coverage on NBC last night, Bob Costas reminded us that this was "out of concern for the safety of the fans" who might be trying to get to the game. Pshaw. The big former receiver from the Bengals (whose name escapes me) got it right when he asked aloud "is this the new standard"? I hope not.
On the occasion of the onset of the Civil War's 150th Anniversary Year, noted liberal hack historian E.J. Dionnne of the Washington Post takes to his editorial perch to lecture the rest of us on the Civil War. Here's Dionne presenting us with Civil War "fact":
"But our conversations, like so many about the war, focused on people and battles, not on why the confrontation happened in the first place. There remains enormous denial over the fact that the central cause of the war was our national disagreement about race and slavery, not states' rights or anything else."
Really E.J.? Just slavery? Then why did the Civil War not break out when the slave trade was Constitutionally outlawed in 1808? Why did it not break out at the time of the Missouri Compromise? The Kansas Nebraska Act? The Compromise of 1850? The Civil War was kept in check because the political systems at the time of these great compromises was resilient enough to accommodate them. By the election of 1860, that system had lost its resilience. Was the Civil War caused by slavery? Of course. Was it caused only by slavery? Not by a long shot.
I defer to noted Civil War historian President Abraham Lincoln when I think about why the Civil War was waged.
"I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views. I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free."
Read this story. Read it all the way through. Then think about it from the perspective of the enlisted soldiers. Then from the perspective of the platoon leader. Then from the perspective of the battalion commander. Then from the perspective of the division commander. All of the men in this decision chain saw the deaths of six Americans as great tragedies, but the importance of the fight was seen differently as you move up the chain.
The key line, from the battalion commander who has spent much of the last decade in combat:
"I came in looking for a counterinsurgency victory," Ryan said. "But here, there is no such thing."
Arriving late on Christmas Day and continuing through Sunday, a bit of a snowstorm was visited upon our little chunk of paradise. Winds above 20 knots make for a bit of a blizzardy vibe to it, but six or eight inches of snow do make for a nice picture. Good news is, I don't have any meetings in the big city until Thursday. Bad news is, this will slow the renovation down in some disproportionate way.
Ben Affleck recently took to NPR to promote his latest movie Company Men, a movie about corporate layoffs (a tale certain to be captured accurately and with an absence of spin). During the interview, he lamented the fact that CEOs make 200 times the average worker, and this was the reason that America was in decline...the reason we'd lost our moral compass.
While he may have a point in his gripe about CEO pay-a topic worthy of thoughtful discussion- that is hardly the reason America is in decline. Perhaps Affleck should make a movie about how trash coming from Hollywood contributes to moving the needle on our 'moral compass.'
I'm looking forward to reading about Affleck's next film, when he demands to be paid the same as a sound guy on the set. Or be paid the same as the woman who cleans the trailers of insufferable actors.
I'm going to take the blog light for a few days (well, ok, I've already been taking it light) over the holidays, and I hope you do too. From all of us here at Ferry Bridge Farm, we wish you a Merry Christmas!
In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"
The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God."
"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.
At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!"
And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me--holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers."
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived. When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord"), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: "a pair of doves or two young pigeons."
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."
The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."
There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.
--Luke 1:26 - 2:40 New International Version
The Kitten's given me a liberty pass for a few hours this morning, so I'm headed out to John Melton's field blind with him and Judge Atkins for a few hours of the Eastern Shore's favorite winter pastime.
The saga of Carol Anne Riddell and John Partilla, first mentioned here by Sally, has taken an interesting turn. The New York Times "Vows" profile of the media whores star-crossed lovers, recently married following the jettisoning of their respective spouses and families, touched off a storm of controversy with Times readers and bloggers alike.
Shortly following the article's publication, Riddell took to damage control, telling Forbes online "we did this because we wanted one honest account of how this happened for our sakes and for our kids sakes."
But now, it would appear that the groom is having some misgivings about the Times piece. "I think if we had an indication afterwards of the nerve it would have struck, we obviously would not have shared in any way publicly."
I get the sense that Partilla may not be as, erhm, committed to this as his bride. Recall from the original piece , Partilla "moved out of his home, reluctantly leaving his three children. But he returned only days later....then he boomeranged back and forth for six months."
I saw that Sally's got a paean to Michael Vick up earlier in the week--no doubt he's playing phenomenally. I see an Atlanta/Philly NFC Championship game in the offing---while the AFC looks to be the Pats vs ????
And it is nearly 1 January, at which point it is acceptable to begin paying attention to college hoops!
Finally, I will once again bring up my distaste for the bowl season. Once upon a time, I could lie on my couch all day long on 1 January and feast on the best of college football while the hangover worked its magic. Not anymore--the big game doesn't even happen until 10 January. Yawn. That's hoops time.
Today's New York Times brings us the heartwarming wedding noticeof John Partilla and Carol Riddell, a pair that met in 2006...at a pre-K parents meeting...while wedded to other people. After their initial encounter, John, Carol and their spouses became friends to the point of vacationing together.
Alas, it was too painful for the pair as John eventually confessed his love. Carol admitted feeling the same way. They ended their respective marriages, leaving a number of wrecked lives in their wake, and married last month.
And somehow found it appropriate to include this tale in their wedding notice.
Generally quiet since his election in 2009, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell came out this week with guns blazing in the battle to address rising college tuition--rates that almost always outstrip the limited inflation rates this country has seen for years.
Apparently, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) raised tuition on in-state students 24% this year--something the Governor questioned from his position in Richmond, surrounded as he is by VCU's aggressive building campaign. So--the Gov decided to hold back state money equal to half the value of the tuition increase, to send a message to state universities about keeping tuition down.
...at his solitary confinement [oops! apologies to those who already jumped to the link: belated Huffington Post alert]. He can't exercise, he's bored, and darn it, he's just not enjoying his experience very much.
There are apparently some fellow citizens who in addition to hailing him as "a hero" have provided some money to his defense fund, but, apparently after originally promising to help with a donation of $20K, those highly-principled heroes at Wikileaks have decided they have other intentions for their money than to offer even a chunk of flotsam to the guy who helped put them on the map before cutting him adrift.
For some odd reason, this story of PVT Bradley's unpleasantries touched a soft spot in my heart. Perhaps it's the time of year but, whatever the reason, I think he should be released. That's right, released.
And I am offering to give him the opportunity and venue to don some gay apparel and get some exercise. In fact, if the DoD would turn him over to me right now, I would immediately dress him in a deer outfit and turn him loose to run in my woods while we play hide and seek.
00 buck makes for some pretty wicked leaks. Let's see how much he wikiwhines then.
I found this review of the major GOP contenders to be pretty much right on the mark. I clearly identify with the Managers, at least as defined in this article. Populism is a dangerous thing to build a politics around, as the public can be fickle and one can be left looking like a weather vane. A core ideology and proven executive skills are the absolute minimums that Republicans should expect from our nominee.
...joining the House. The President will likely sign this one soon. While I understand and appreciate the arguments against allowing gay people to serve, ultimately, I find them unpersuasive. Legislative repeal is the way to do this, not having a court force it on DOD,
I've followed just above the radar horizon this growing little movement associated with one-time darling of the right David Frum known as the "No-Labels" movement. Essentially, this self-righteous group of folks (can a group be self-righteous? But I digress...) seeks to have the rest of us put aside our petty differences and join them on the rhetorical and political high ground. Presumably, once there, a promised-land of comity will underpin "the national conversation" and result in more enlightened discourse--and therefore--policy.
Here's a wonderful take-down of that Utopian (and perhaps deleterious) goal. The line I like the best:
The problem with the No Labels idea is that it amounts to defining "reasonableness" as something between center-leftism and centrism and then declaring everyone else out of bounds. That's not especially useful. For one thing, fringe ideas don't always stay in the fringe as societies evolve...
This really nails my criticism of these folks who espouse the "why can't we all just get along" way of politics. The "way" generally means "their way" and it usually consists of a small slice of the political spectrum that tends all the way from the center to left center. Who is the mythical God-head of this kind of thinking? Why, Jon Stewart, of course. It's what his entire show, his entire thing on the Mall, is about. We--the enlightened--will sit atop our mountain of comity, intelligence, bonhomie and consensus--while you unwashed rubes fight battles we find irrelevant to the "good" of the country. We gather in our salons to worship centrism, consensus, and non-judgment--all the while rendering withering judgments upon those who see politics more as a contact sport.
No thanks. I'll stick with my label. The Conservative Wahoo.
Feeling that the rednecks in this country are underserved, and could benefit from a more formal structure, Jeff Clayton this week launched the American Redneck Society. The $20 membership fee will give you access to retail discounts across the country and a portion of the money goes to a scholarship fund for rural kids.
For the rednecks on your shopping list who have everything, gift memberships are available!
It's not easy being a Vikings fan this season. So I'm forced to find other sources of intrigue in the NFL, and I've found it in the Michael Vick comeback. Sports Illustrated takes a look at his saga in a recent cover story entitled 'What Michael Vick Tells us About Ourselves.' I didn't learn too much about myself reading the article, but there's no shortage of interesting sidebars to the whole tale.
I know there are those who still cringe in revulsion at the mention of his name. And at one time I was one of them. But he's paid the debt society determined he pay (unlike, say, Ray Lewis), has behaved for the most part as if he's sincerely contrite, and is hands down the most exciting player in the game to watch. If he's not MVP as he deserves to be, he's certainly the comeback athlete of the year. His story is a classic American redemption story. I sure hope he continues to give us a reason to cheer.
The Omnibus Spending Bill is dead; the Senate will pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government and perhaps the appropriations bills will be taken up by the Congress after the break. This is a real sign of the the power of November's election results--I only wish it had restrained Republicans in the tax deal they made with the President.
Tom de Plume and me in 1983. Happy Birthday, Old Boy!
Ok folks, what's on your mind?
Tired of how lame this blog is becoming? Me too.
Pissed off that less than two inches of snow can debilitate your area? Me too.
Tom has aged a bit, but he's keeping it real.
On another note, heading to Richmond tonight to attend a party in honor of Tom de Plume's 50th Birthday. Let's all wish our favorite hit and run commenter a Happy Half Century. Actual birthday not until 28 December, but tonight's the soiree.
Most of you know that I'm not a "Second Amendment Conservative". I have no problem with gun control, but I would like to see most of it passed AFTER the Constitution is amended to ALLOW it. Why would this be? Because I'm an even stronger "READ AND UNDERSTAND THE CONSTITUTION" Conservative. So when I happened across this headline this today ("Breyer: Founding Fathers Would Have Allowed Restrictions on Guns") my attention was grabbed.
Essentially, Breyer is arguing that James Madison would have liked guns to be restricted, but in the Bill of Rights debate, inserted the Second Amendment in order to guarantee passage of the Constitution. Putting aside for a moment the stupidity of using the plural of "father" to describe the view of ONE founding father, the fact that he had to trade AWAY that view in order to get the document passed is in and of itself, sufficient evidence of how unpopular such a view would have been at the time. And since the "votes" on the Constitution came from the political elites in the various colonial legislatures, it seems just as clear that it wasn't a view shared by the bulk of the "founding fathers".
I don't do it often, and I generally tend to be wary of it, but in the case of the tax deal between President Obama and the current batch of Republicans in DC, I say no. I hope it fails too. The election we just witnessed was not about RAISING the deficit. I hope it fails, and then 65 or so new folks come into the House and make a deal like this not do-able. Then the real negotiations start.
Ok everyone, pile on! What's on your mind this week? Tired of your lazy Blog-master not posting and not doing his radio show? Wondering why we're jacking up the debt and deficit, AGAIN? Share, folks, share!
So, the country faces insolvency from its over-obligations, throws the Democrats out of power in the House, elects a bunch of debt and deficit hawks to Congress--and what do we get as the very first "deal" (albeit with the old Congress, not the new)? An agreement that essentially adds to the deficit. No, I'm not talking about the fact that the Obama tax increase has been defeated--no, lower tax rates NEVER have to pay for themselves. Thinking that they do concedes that the government has money of its own, which we know to be false. Any money the government allocates is property separated from its owners at the point of a gun.
I'm talking about the extension of unemployment benefits for another 13 months. This is ridiculous. When will we realize that over-generous unemployment checks EXTEND periods of unemployment? I had a chat earlier today with a friend who was unemployed for an extended period about a dozen years ago or so...he was explaining to me how he had to do two interviews/file two applications each week to be eligible for his benefit. He recounted that once--he was under the gun to get his paperwork in--before leaving for vacation. Another time, he was similarly late in getting the paperwork in, and had to move quickly in order to make his horse riding lesson.
Now clearly, this is NOT the experience of the average unemployed person. But the lesson is clear--the "safety net" of generous unemployment benefits keeps people less motivated to find work.
Well, I took down the comment moderation for a bit, then the basement dwelling, child-molesting, tinfoil hat wearing, Nostradamus butt sniffing Dennis Markuze (pictured below) a.k.a David Mabus a.k.a. DM a.k.a. Anonymous struck again with another post that I've left up under the comments on the Tom Friedman post.
My douchebag spammer, Dennis Markuze
Monsieur Markuze (he's from Canada) is about as famous as a derelict of this kind can be on the interwebs for he bothers lots of other respectable blog operators with the same cut and paste ridiculosity he spews here, though he generally tends to concentrate on atheist and science blogs, so Lord knows why he's here. For some other bloggers stories of their time with this obviously insane man, check here, and here, here, and here (read the comments of this one for a pretty interesting rundown of the photo). Apparently, death threats are imminent.
Is it just me, or does Julian Assange sound and act like some kind of "Bizzaro World" Rand character from "Atlas Shrugged", what with holding world governments hostage with his blackmail to release his "insurance file"?
Most of the time I link to Tom Friedman in order to point out his pomposity or inconsistency. But, as they say, even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then, and Friedman's column in this morning's NYT is a good one. His citation of our increasing lack of "leverage" is spot on, and tying it to our dependence on Middle East oil (among other things) correctly identifies the problem.
The irony of Arab potentates egging us on to take out Iranian leadership, while they pay for the next generation of suicide bombers, is rich. The faster we extricate ourselves from the economic indenture we serve to the House of Saud, the better.
to celebrate....Hanukkah? Must be, 'cause Thanksgiving was last week, and Christmas is oh, three weeks from now.
Don't get me wrong--it's nice that he's gone to visit the troops and all, and I realize he's got a family of his own to spend holidays with....but isn't that sort of the point--you know, visiting a few thousand people who can't be with their families at the holidays?
Our friend Dr. Preble of Cato does a fine job in this post * both summarizing the state of play on New START ratification and linking to pertinent articles for further background. I've taken my time on this one, reading both the for and against positions with respect to the treaty. And while I believe the Obama Administration is dangerously under-resourcing the modernization of our nuclear stockpile, the treaty before us is a worthwhile exercise of super-power statecraft that modestly reduces the numbers of nuclear weapons each nation can field. I find the arguments raised by Republicans against the treaty to be largely unpersuasive and mostly reflective of petty politics and in some cases, unthinking ideological rigidity.
That said, Mr. Obama's reasons for advocating this treaty must of course be taken with a grain of salt. His frequently made assertion that US/Russian treaties that limit the number of weapons they can field leads other nations to choose not to build them--is simply lunacy. Nations build nuclear weapons because they feel it is in their interest to do so.
Secondly, Mr. Obama has on many occasions talked about this being a step to a nuclear free world. The suggestion that the world would be SAFER without nuclear weapons (at all) just does not pass the sniff test.
* Preble chooses to make his point however in classic libertarian fashion--which is to adopt the "look, look, they're both wrong" approach to policy. Whether it means pointing out errors in thinking between liberals or conservatives, or within those groups, I do grow weary of (my perception of) academic libertarians as a bit holier than thou.....
Here it is once again Ladies and Gentlemen, BFFFFA! What's got your goat? Concerned about the civil rights of a home-grown Jihadi miscreant? Wondering what your tax rates might be come 1 January? Let it out, folks, let it out!
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The Conservative Wahoo
The Blog: A compendium of thoughts on politics, world affairs, economics, pop culture and social issues, from the center right perspective of me--Bryan McGrath--a University of Virginia graduate who spent a career in the world's greatest Navy keeping my mouth shut about politics and social issues (ok, publicly keeping it shut). Those days are over! I've also invited a few friends to join in, so pull up a chair and chime in where you will. Keep it clean, civil, concise and relevant.
The Fish: The fish is a "coat of arms" for the blog, symbolizing three formative influences in the life of the blog founder. The first is his experience at the University of Virginia--symbolized most importantly by the fish itself, or a caricature of a "Wahoo", the fish we have acquired as an informal nickname. Additionally there is the sword, the sword of a Cavalier. It is not wielded in a threatening manner, as this is a civil blog. But it is there, should it be needed. Thirdly, there is the influence of 21 years in the Navy--symbolized by the anchor on the Wahoo's fin (and again, the sword) . Finally, there is the bowler, tuxedo, and monocle, symbols of a refined, intellectual conservatism, or what I seek to encourage here.
The Policy: I take FULL responsibility ONLY for what I write. I do not take responsibility, nor will I be held responsible, for what my guest bloggers write or for what those who offer comments write. I will occasionally exercise my right to edit/delete both blog posts and comments if they do not meet my view of what clean, civil, concise and relevant mean.