Archives for: February 2012

Grab Bag

From time to time I will throw up a grab bag post, where many different events are covered, things that you can weigh in on. Some days there is lots going on and since I don’t feel like writing 5 separate posts (lazy? probably, but since the site host-we call him Ebeneezer-pays peanuts and keeps us all in working conditions where your average Bangladeshie sweat shop worker would say ,”no thanks”) ya get what ya pay for.

1) Dow 13,000, a big deal, or not? It has taken us a while to get back here (4 years), does this translate into any confidence with our present economic situation or does it validate (raising my hand) the notion that even in tough times with one hand tide behind it’s back by intrusive over taxing government, our industries and the companies that poplulate those industries can still kick ass wrt to earnings and making money?

2) Ohio school shooting, is it creepier that the shooter picked his victims randomly? Given that he only had a .22 cal pistol and only 10 rounds of ammo, to kill 3 people seems really unfortunate and just bad luck. In the hand s of an unaccomplished shooter, being rushed and amped up on adrenaline, I would have expected most shots to have missed entirely. Should he be tried as an adult? And what is to be made of the orchestrated attempt by the media to paint this guy as a right winger? They mention his interest in NASCAR, his love of hunting, and his confederate flag tattoo, gee, how did they miss that time 3 years ago when he went to church?

3) Some prominent GOP congress critters have decided to pack it in and not run in November, leaving the door open for Dem challengers and dashing GOP hopes of grabbing both houses of congress. Olympia Snowe (senator from Maine) and David Drier (rep. from California) have had their fill, both citing rancorous political sniping within the ranks as their reasons for bailing. Drier’s seat will almost assuredly go to a Dem,. probably ditto with Snowe. Some might have the attitude that since Snowe was a reluctant and fair weather Republican, that it would be no great loss. But consider this, Although Scott Brown could also be placed in to that category, is it better to have a RINO, where you at least have his ear and can persuade him on some of the issues, or someone like Elisabeth Warren, where she will always go with the loony left, on everything?

4) Is anyone else just a bit creeped out at how we have handled the Israel/Iran problem, the lengths at which we have publicized every conversations we have had with Israel and how we are bending over backwards to talk Israel out of a military strike? You would think that conversations with our allies would be kept private, that any hesitance we might have in launching a strike would be held close to the vest as not to give Iran any heads up, and that whatever disagreements exist, we would not broadcast them for world dissemination. I also love the current attitude held by this administration that ,”We really don’t know the mullah’s intentions and whether in fact that even want to build a bomb, and how close they are”, talk about burying your head in the sand. Since 5% percent uranium is all that is needed for nuclear reactors, they are now manufacturing 20% uranium (weapons grade is 85%).

This is not to say that I am all for a military strike immediately (the element of surprise on that has long since passed) and sanctions have currently at least got their attention. But Israel is basically on their own, they know that, it has always been that way, and if they decide that it is necessary to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities, you can bet that they have weighed all the options ahead of time.

Update: I’ll throw in one more, again, not worth a post by itself but interesting nonetheless: North Korea had agreed to a suspension of uranium enrichment and to a moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests, a big deal or are we being played yet again?

In exchange for this magnanimity the US promises to deliver 240,000 metric tons of food aid. Here’s my question, why does the US always get stuck with the check? Don’t pacific rim nations, Japan/S. Korea/Taiwan etc., have more of a dog in this fight then us? How about the world bank funding all this food aid, even the UN, if it’s better for the rest of the world when N. Korea tones it down, how about they share in these good faith gestures?

Romney Takes Michigan

OK. Now can we stick a fork in the GOP nomination? Yes, yes … oh, all right. I’ll wait for Super Tuesday.

The Santorum surge over the last few weeks has been one of the more bizarre storylines of the entire election cycle. I flatter myself to think I saw it coming when I tweeted some time back that Santorum would be the VP nominee. But I didn’t see this coming. He gave Romney a run for his money with a hell of a lot less money. The punditariat think this is because the GOP is so extreme. I think it’s much simpler than that. Santorum believes the things he says. When he stands next to Mitt Romeny, it’s almost appealing … if you can stand the man at all. The one thing that always appeals to the American voter is sincerity.

Why the MPAA Should Die

When I was a kid, I asked my dad how they decided the ratings for various movies. His response went something like: “Well, they screen it for a bunch of old ladies. And if one of them cries, ‘Oh my Goodness!’ and clutches her purse, it’s rated R.” If you’ve seen Kirby Dick’s This Film is Not Yet Rated, you know that this description is not far off.

It seems like they are not interested in shaking off this mold. Their most recent triumph is giving an R rating to the documentary Bully, apparently because of strong language. Because, God knows that our innocent children never use strong language. Why, I myself was 25 before I first heard the word “fuck” and fainted dead away when it was first uttered in my innocent presence.

I wouldn’t believe they could surpasses the PG-13 they gave Whale Rider because some pot paraphernalia was in the background of a scene, but they just did. Bully may suck ass for all I know. But it’s targeted at potential victims of bullying. And those victims are not over 18.

R.I.P., Buck Compton

We expect much of our heroes, but living forever is not one of them:

Lynn D. “Buck” Compton, an Army paratrooper whose World War II service was portrayed in the book and HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers” and who later as a prosecutor secured a conviction for Robert F. Kennedy assassin Sirhan Sirhan, died Feb. 26 at his home in Burlington, Wash. He was 90.

He had complications from a heart attack, said his daughter Syndee Compton. Mr. Compton retired in 1990 as a judge on the California Courts of Appeal.

Mr. Compton fought in some of the war’s fiercest battles as a first lieutenant with E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. The soldiers, collectively known as Easy Company, participated in the June 6, 1944, invasion of Normandy, parachuted into Holland for the disastrous Operation Market Garden and fought through frostbite and German artillery in the Battle of the Bulge.

I have mentioned before that Band Of Brothers, along with Ken Burns’ The Civil War, is the gold standard for TV fare. Easy Co’s exploits came to life with Stephen Ambrose, but the HBO special gave them all a face.

Buck Compton was one of my favorite’s in the series, not only was he an absolute stud but a great leader of men. If you read about the Battle of the Bulge, the stuff that those men endeared, the coldest winter in 70 years, little food/ammo/winter clothing and facing the last push by a desperate German army, how any of them came out without some emotional/psychological damage is a miracle. The episode where Buck cracks, seeing his platoon ripped to shreds in front of him, was probably my favorite, highlighting not only the lesson that any man can only take so much before breaking, and the those around him that did not think less of him but thought ,”only for the grace of God, go I”.

Toward the end of his career, Mr. Compton became a forceful advocate for patients in “right-to-die” cases.

“If there is ever a time when we ought to be able to get the ‘government off our backs,’ ” Mr. Compton wrote, “it is when we face death — either by choice or otherwise.”

Amen to that, the indignity of having to suffer pain and to prolong an existence against your will, the epitome of the nanny state thinking it knows better then you do.

The whole article is a good read.

Capt. Winters died last year, and more than a thousand WW2 vets die everyday. The greatest generation should never be forgotten.

Donate, Or Else!!!

Gangland thuggery, coming to a mail box near you. Chicago Jesus still runs his fiefdom like Al Capone, and expects his protection money to keep coming in uninterrupted:

Despite the herculean efforts of the national media, President Obama’s reelection campaign continues to fall short of its groundbreaking “Hope and Change” campaign in 2008. In January, its fundraising haul actually fell below the level raised in January 2008, when Obama was a first-term Senator running against the Democrat establishment’s favorite candidate. They’ve resorted to raffling off dinner with the President, but eventually had to cut the price of raffle tickets from $5 to $1. Now, it seems, the Obama campaign has decided to resort to SEIU-style intimidation to fill its campaign coffers.

They got nothing on Marsellus Wallace, who bragged about getting some home boys to work on you with a pair of pliers and a blow torch.

Check out that attached letter, dropping a piano on you would be more subtle.

You know, the first thing to came to mind was those apostasy laws as practiced in Muslim countries, where those so inclined to leave the fold are leaned on and hunted down. Here to ,”We noticed that you have given money to the cause in the past, why aren’t you continuing to give? You don’t think we will let you just stop, do you? We know where you live, if you are white and do not want us to brand you a racist, you know what you have to do. You voluntarily joined our group, but you can’t just walk away, oh no, we can’t have that”.

The bloom is off the rose for any ex Obama supporters. The window dressing of being cool and hip, of being post racial and supporting the guy all your professors supported, that pretense does nothing to abolish the familiar yardstick of ,”Are you better off then 4 years ago”.

Obama has one leg cut off, all that is needed is do lean on him a bit, Is anyone from the GOP up to the task?

Persuasive

A sure sign that the economy and life in general is not as bad as portrayed is the simple fact that people still find the time to complain about silly TV commercials. For my own self, and as a consumer, I understand the profit motive, the pull for my disposable income, the hook needed for my eyeballs. Capitalism is a cut throat business, a process whereby a Clausewitz style approach is adopted, total war on the competition, or you get crushed and go crawling back home to mommy.

An ad is successful if it can keep your attention for it’s duration, it hits a home run when the consumer decides right on the spot, “I want that, and I will buy it”

Take a look at the new Carl’s Jr. ad for its Southwest patty melt (it’s Monday morning, time to get the heart started):

Very clever, a 50’s style theme with a classic convertible, a drive in, a hot summer’s day, and frilly undergarments for effect. But here is my confession, I was looking at that sandwich almost as much as I was looking at Kate.

You will remember that it was the same Carl’s JR. that embarrassed itself with that ad featuring Paris Hilton, lesson learned here. Instead of giving us some has been tramp (What, Lindsey was still in rehab?), damaged goods and oh so yesterday’s news, we get someone fresh, new, unspoiled (for now) and an All American girl.

But back to that sandwich. This would fit right in with that junk food post I wrote last month, a “Heart Attack Grill” style patty melt, start my CRESTOR prescription.

Another benefit of ads like this, how about Carl’s JR. opens up some fast food joints in Iran and peppers the air waves with this ad. All those Muslim males that would gouge out their eyes with a fork when gazing at an uncovered female ankle, they would now get a taste of Western Culture, see what they have been missing, and run those Mullahs out on a rail. No more sanctions needed, problem solved.

Commercials are usually wasted on me (how much money would you donate to never ever see another GEICO commercial again?) and I don’t think I have ever been to a Carl’s JR joint, but I will try this sandwich.

Any commercials out there, past or present, ever got you to make a decision on the spot to try their product?

The Koch Letter

Mass movements can succeed without a God, but never without a devil:

In just about 24 hours, Mitt Romney is headed to a hotel ballroom to give a speech sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, a front group founded and funded by the Koch brothers.

Those are the same Koch brothers whose business model is to make millions by jacking up prices at the pump, and who bankrolled Tea Party extremism, and committed $200 million to try to destroy President Obama before Election Day.

So in the hours before Romney courts two men obsessed with making Barack Obama a one-term president, let’s see how many of us can chip in to the Two-Term Fund.

That’s from a letter team Obama sent out last week to supporters. I want you to sit back a moment and revel in it. The Administration that killed Keystone XL and tried to put a moratorium on offshore drilling is accusing the Koch Brothers of driving up gas prices. It’s not supply and demand. It’s not even a resurgent world economy. No, it’s the evil men behind the curtain.

You know, I just don’t get the Koch Brothers thing. Their very name reduces the Left to such fits of apoplexy — fits way out of proportion to their influence on anything. Talk about your conspiracy theorists…

Obama economy made me do it!

This story is just too crazy to make up. here are the details.

COLUMBUS, Ga. (CBS Atlanta) — A former Columbus police officer admitted in court that he robbed a bank last year so he can get health benefits being in a federal prison. Edward Pascucci told U.S. District Court Judge Clay D. Land Thursday that he was facing “severe health problems” and homelessness when he decided to rob the Citizens Trust Bank last August, according to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer.

“I didn’t want to be homeless,” Pascucci said, according to the paper. “I should not have manipulated the justice system, but I couldn’t think of any other way to get help.” The FBI said Pascucci walked out of the bank with more than $1,000, according to WTVM-TV. He was jobless for more than a year when the crime occurred. Pascucci – who served as a police officer for 15 years – was sentenced to five years and three months in prison.

Things are so bad you decide prison is a good alternative? And you used to be in law enforcement? In addition to pointing out how messed up things are, this whole thing tells me we should wonder if we coddle people in prison too much. Tax payer provided healthcare, three meals, roof over your head, and from what others say, sex too. Dang, and here I thought Obamacare was going to fix everything if we just passed it.

Doing Business in America

We all know that regulatory uncertainty is a conservative myth, right? The very idea that the tens of thousands of pages of federal regulations are inhibiting American business is just laughable, no?

Well, someone forgot to tell the Economist:

America is meant to be the home of laissez-faire. Unlike Europeans, whose lives have long been circumscribed by meddling governments and diktats from Brussels, Americans are supposed to be free to choose, for better or for worse. Yet for some time America has been straying from this ideal.

Consider the Dodd-Frank law of 2010. Its aim was noble: to prevent another financial crisis. Its strategy was sensible, too: improve transparency, stop banks from taking excessive risks, prevent abusive financial practices and end “too big to fail” by authorising regulators to seize any big, tottering financial firm and wind it down. This newspaper supported these goals at the time, and we still do. But Dodd-Frank is far too complex, and becoming more so. At 848 pages, it is 23 times longer than Glass-Steagall, the reform that followed the Wall Street crash of 1929. Worse, every other page demands that regulators fill in further detail. Some of these clarifications are hundreds of pages long. Just one bit, the “Volcker rule”, which aims to curb risky proprietary trading by banks, includes 383 questions that break down into 1,420 subquestions.

Hardly anyone has actually read Dodd-Frank, besides the Chinese government and our correspondent in New York (see article). Those who have struggle to make sense of it, not least because so much detail has yet to be filled in: of the 400 rules it mandates, only 93 have been finalised. So financial firms in America must prepare to comply with a law that is partly unintelligible and partly unknowable.

And that’s just Dodd-Frank. Remember Sarbanes-Oxley, the legislation that was supposed to prevent another financial crisis? Haha. Good times. Well, you combine Sarbanes-Oxley with Dodd-Frank and you’ve got a mess of regulation so dense that Facebook recently blasted the regulatory environment for making their IPO a nightmare. This is why more IPOs are occurring in markets away from our shores than within them.

It’s not just Obama, either. He’s done a lot of damage — the Economist notes that the number of diagnostic codes in our healthcare system will increase next year from 18,000 to 140,000. And last week he made a laughable proposal for “tax reform” that would end up with lower rate but more loopholes, credits and subsidies. But Republicans have played their part, too, pushing “anti-terrorism” regulation that has slathered immigration, finance and travel in paperwork. And SOX was signed by Bush.

Getting rid of regulations sounds good, but there are a lot of regulations that we need. As the financial crisis showed, we have a banking industry that will happily construct elaborate financial vehicles that even they don’t understand. We have whole industries that will pretend they’re not hurting the environment. They do this not because they are evil, but because they are human and it simply human nature to pretend a problem doesn’t exist when it involves our money, our power or our pride. The lead industry spent decades ignoring their own scientists and insisting that lead was harmless. That wasn’t because they liked the idea of children destroying their brains; it was simply a willing suspension of disbelief. Government is an imperfect and frustrating regulator. But it’s not something we can simply push off a cliff.

But attacking regulation piecemeal — the way Obama has kind-sorta proposed and the way the Republicans kinda-sorta do — isn’t going to work either. There are tens of thousands of regulations and we could spend weeks getting rid of just one. Each one has its advocates; each its pencil-pushers who depend on it. The inertia is simply enormous.

No, what we need — what the Economist notes and what Phillip Howard has been flogging for years — is a complete change in our approach to regulation. What we have designed is a system that tries to idiot-proof itself, that tries to anticipate every eventuality, ever possibility so that there is no possibility of error. But in doing so, we have made the perfect the enemy of the good. We have a system in which something as simple as finding out how much money a bank has can take years. We have a system is incapable of responding to new problems until new rules have been passed. This is like mapping out a mine field by stepping on all the mines.

What we need to do is strip down the regulations to the basics and empower bureaucrats to use their judgement. Hand in hand with that comes accountability — the ability to fine or fire bureaucrats who exceed their authority and make bad decisions.

That has a downside, too: bureaucrats with power and regulations that are necessarily not specific to every conceivable situation. It is this situation that Harvey Silverglate raged against in his book. But the alternative is a nation that can not move a pinkie without years of discussion and millions in legal fees. The alternative is that the Gulliver of American industry is tied down by a million Lilliputian strings of regulatory bullshit.

And the Left should be the biggest cheerleaders for regulatory reform. They keep telling us we need to remake our energy industry to fight global warming. How on Earth are we going to do that when it takes ten years to do the environmental impact study for a single power line? They keep telling us we need a better approach to immigration. We can’t do that when even getting a work visa involves three pounds of paper and half a pint of blood. They keep telling us our healthcare system is too expensive. How are we supposed to make it cheaper when every hour of patient care is matched by an hour (or two) of paperwork?

Republicans make a lot of noise about regulation but I’m not sure how serious they are since heavy regulation favors powerful businesses (see the CPSIA). They seem happy to rant about it on TV but show little inclination to do anything besides fight a rule or two that have gotten some attention in the media. They are unable or unwilling to admit that any progress on regulatory reform is going to mean giving some power to government agents to interpret and enforce the law.

I don’t like the idea of empowering bureaucrats any more than you do. But as long as it comes with accountability — the ability to punish those who exceed or abuse their power — it’s the least worst alternative.

And what’s the worst alternative? What we’re enduring now. A regulatory state that is massively complex, hideously expensive and doesn’t accomplish anything.

Finally some forced logic about the whole hate-crime thing..

If some lesbians beat up a gay guy, is that a hate crime?

Three women identified by their lawyers as lesbians were arraigned yesterday on a hate crime charge for allegedly beating a gay man at the Forest Hills T station in an unusual case that experts say exposes the law’s flawed logic.

“My guess is that no sane jury would convict them under those circumstances, but what this really demonstrates is the idiocy of the hate-crime legislation,” said civil liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate. “If you beat someone up, you’re guilty of assault and battery of a human being. Period. The idea of trying to break down human beings into categories is doomed to failure.”

BINGO!

This hate crime nonsense was from the start just that: nonsense. Sad that it took something like this to make it obvious. Think the LSM will do much reporting about this? Hell no. It damages the narrative, and as we all know, the narrative is king to the left.