Friday, October 31, 2008

Because Friday is Catblogging Day

Elegance. Always elegance.

Cheezburger of the Day

funny pictures of cats with captions
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Don't be the Last one to the Loan Window

... because there won't be any money left to loan you.

Iceland is borrowing out of crisis. So is Hungary, from anyone who will lend them cash. Argentina, Greece and Italy are making their way to the bankers even now. At some point in time, there will be no more money left to loan and the latecomers will ... do what?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Parasites and Payday Loans

... go together like peanut butter and jelly.
WASHINGTON -- Lobbyists descended on Capitol Hill to push for an economic-stimulus bill that could cost as much as $150 billion...
Short synopsis: We will borrow money, to be paid back by our children, to fill the pockets of those best connected in DC.

Some of the projects being considered are roads and bridges. Ask yourself this question. "Would my business or the business I work for be able to make more of a profit if the roads and bridges were better?" Remember, profit is the only thing in the world that creates jobs.

Cheezburger of the Day

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Today's Word Problem

I know it's been a while since our last word problem, but things came up that delayed our release of this one. It had to be run past any number of quality control boards as a part of The Scratching Post's effort to embrace Lean Six Sigma quality controls*. In any case, we have another one for you today, but first, we need to answer the last one.

Answer to the last word problem: "Bleaurghworgs!"

Today's Word Problem

Chief Norkatonkle of the Wimizambo tribe wants to trade 15 goats and a basket of fish heads to Chief Brakkaglimble of the Shirewetsis in exchange for 12 squirrel pelts and 3 owl castings. The normal exchange rate is 1 goat for 30 ears of corn and 3 squirrel pelts per glass bead.

What does Chief Brakkaglimble write in the dirt with a stick in reply?

* - not a word of this is true. We just didn't write any for a long time, OK?

Why the Polls are Wrong

... because they only question each person once.

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Mississippi's voter situation is hard to believe. Places like Madison County have over 123% more registered voters than people over the age of 18.

Sue Sautermeister, First District Election Commissioner in Madison County, tried to purge the rolls, but ran into trouble when it was discovered it takes a vote of three of the five election commissioners and the purge cannot take place within 90 days of a federal election.
I predict that Obama will win 108% of the vote.

Sarkozy Proposes Directive 10-289

In the real world:
PARIS -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy unveiled a series of employment-boosting measures, including 100,000 additional subsidized job contracts, as new data showed a decline in European consumer confidence.

Mr. Sarkozy said his government will increase to 330,000 the number of subsidized job contracts it will finance in 2009. The figure is 100,000 more than originally proposed. He also warned employers not to use the crisis as a cover for shedding workers: "I won't tolerate any cynical or opportunistic strategies," he said in a speech, pointing to "those who might use the current crisis to justify reducing production and jobs."
In Atlas Shrugged:
Directive 10-289 provides the knockout punch to economic freedom in Atlas Shrugged. Its purported purpose is to stop the country's economic decline by freezing the economy in its present state. The directive employs comprehensive central government planning to freeze the status quo. It actually allows top government officials and politically-connected businessmen to retain power and enhance their own control of the economy. This directive mandates that all workers remain at their current jobs, that no business is permitted to close ... and requires firms to annually produce a number of goods identical to the number produced during the preceding year. In addition, the directive freezes all wages, prices, and profits, and requires every person to spend the same amount of money as he did in the preceding year.
Everyone knows that the best way to create jobs is to take away economic freedoms. Hooray for statism!

Here, the government constrains private entities for their own good. In exchange, private entities then produce things of value for all of society. It's a win-win!

Jobs Come From Profits

... it's really that simple. They don't come from anywhere else. They don't come from government programs or government mandates. They don't come from good wishes or kind thoughts. They come from profits.

Government jobs come from money taken by taxes from the profits of individuals or businesses. Private jobs come from businesses who have more money to spend because they made a profit.

When a politician claims they will create jobs, all they are saying is that they will take profits away from someone and spend that money themselves. The first unspoken claim is that they know how to invest profits better than the people that made the money in the first place. The second is that the fruits of your labor were never yours to begin with and they have the right and authority to take it away from you.

While some government spending, such as the construction of the interstate freeway system, has made higher profits possible, that spending did not create jobs. It made them possible. In the end, it was still the generation of profit by private enterprises that created the jobs. With the federal government spending $3T+ per year, it's hard to see just where additional spending is going to lead to a new version of the interstate freeway system.

Any politician claiming they are going to create jobs is a charlatan.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Tonight we're going to try something new. Captchadefs! These are definitions for the anti-spam captcha words that you have to type in on some blogs when leaving a comment. Some generous readers have been leaving their captcha words and I've decided to perform a public service by letting you know what they mean.

Here we go.

vamisize (v) - to give a particularly generous donation at the blood bank. "Will it be the normal pint today, Mr. Schnerkwhistle?" "Heck, no, Howard. I feel generous. Vamisize me!"

bleropse (n) - an optical illusion caused by a foreign object in your eye, such as an eyelash or sand. "That's no gas station, Harvey! It's just another bleropse! I really wish you'd just let me give you those eye drops."

inisters (n) - people who look strangely disquieting, but are not actually dangerous in any way.

hersaya (n) - the closing arguments of a female trial attorney in court. "Thank you, Mr. Gorgonblatz, for that summation. And now, Ms. Trigglethorpe will have hersaya."

hyokedn (n) - the sound a large collar makes when being placed on a water buffalo.

There. That emptied the queue. Feel free to leave us some more and we'll see if we can clear things up for you!

It's Better to be Called Fat Than Old

... or at least that's what our Maximum Leader seems to be saying. She ran out of food recently. When I went to Petco to get her some more, I decided to try the Science Diet Senior instead of her normal Science Diet Light. She's about 9 years old and I wondered if she would like it more.

She most certainly did not. She did not like it one little bit. I think she took exception to me suggesting that she was getting up there in years.

I may be fat, but I'm not old!

Monday, October 27, 2008

On the Road This Morning

... so no time to blog. In the meantime, check out the cause
Much of the blogosphere is buzzing over a 2001 radio interview in which Barack Obama seems genuinely chagrined that redistributionist policies aren’t going to come from the courts ... it is fairly obvious that Obama was saying nothing extraordinary in his own mind. This is the sort of thing left-leaning “intellectuals” bandied about. It’s the outlook that underscored the bent of not just his closest comrades at the time ( e.g. Reverend Wright and Father Pfleger), but the activist organizations he and Bill Ayers supported through the Woods Fund. It is absurd, really, to write off all these associations as an aberration or exaggeration, or to ignore them as some imagining of paranoid conservatives. What comes through loud and clear was that Obama shared the classic anti-capitalist, redistributionist philosophy accepted as dogma by many on the Left.
and the effect
So, if Obama actually wins this election and delivers on even half of his promises, I'm vacillating on whether to pull a reverse John Galt and plug IN to the system ... I mean to look into every government assistance program Obama/Pelosi/Reid provides or funds. Even if I don't sign up, at least I'll have an idea where my money is going to. But if I do take an occasional sip from the public teat, consider it my own way of "spreading the wealth" back around to me.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

California Central Coast

Paso Robles Cars

I'm on a little vacation this weekend, up in the wine country around Paso Robles. We stopped in town yesterday and walked through the square where they had all manner of odds and ends for sale in booths. Before my camera's battery died, I managed to get some photos of classic cars on display there. Here are two that I wouldn't mind having (perhaps when I retire and move to Paso).

You can keep your Dodge Ram Hemi SuperCab Compensating For Shortcomings In Other Departments Pick Up. I'll take one of these.

How can you listen to Louis Prima if you're not driving around in a Louis Prima-era car?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Why the MSM is Biased

In a previous post, one I don't have time to dig up right now, I wondered if an Obama administration, together with a massive majority in congress, would provide a bailout for the nation's doomed newspapers. Today, the Puppy Blender links to a story by a professional journalist who is appalled by the bias he sees. He closes his article with an analysis of why it's happening.
So why weren’t those legions of hungry reporters set loose on the Obama campaign? Who are the real villains in this story of mainstream media betrayal?

The editors. The men and women you don’t see; the people who not only decide what goes in the paper, but what doesn’t; the managers who give the reporters their assignments and lay-out the editorial pages. They are the real culprits.

Why? I think I know, because had my life taken a different path, I could have been one: Picture yourself in your 50s in a job where you’ve spent 30 years working your way to the top, to the cockpit of power . . . only to discover that you’re presiding over a dying industry. The Internet and alternative media are stealing your readers, your advertisers and your top young talent. Many of your peers shrewdly took golden parachutes and disappeared. Your job doesn’t have anywhere near the power and influence it did when your started your climb. The Newspaper Guild is too weak to protect you any more, and there is a very good chance you’ll lose your job before you cross that finish line, ten years hence, of retirement and a pension.

In other words, you are facing career catastrophe -and desperate times call for desperate measures. Even if you have to risk everything on a single Hail Mary play. Even if you have to compromise the principles that got you here. After all, newspapers and network news are doomed anyway - all that counts is keeping them on life support until you can retire.

And then the opportunity presents itself: an attractive young candidate whose politics likely matches yours, but more important, he offers the prospect of a transformed Washington with the power to fix everything that has gone wrong in your career. With luck, this monolithic, single-party government will crush the alternative media via a revived Fairness Doctrine, re-invigorate unions by getting rid of secret votes, and just maybe, be beholden to people like you in the traditional media for getting it there.

And besides, you tell yourself, it’s all for the good of the country . . .
Read the whole thing.

Black and Blue

... with a little white.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Random Thought

I wonder if you could write a blog that was nothing more than invented definitions of words from blog comment captcha pages? Over at the blog of our Mother Superior of the Holy Order of Ocean Whitefish, I just got the captcha word "vamisize."

What might that mean?

Punish the Capitalists

... and the lights go out.
SAN FELIX, Venezuela (Reuters) – Despite having some of the world's largest energy reserves, Venezuela is increasingly struggling to maintain basic electrical service, a growing challenge for leftist President Hugo Chavez.

The OPEC nation has suffered three nationwide blackouts this year, and chronic power shortages have sparked protests from the western Andean highlands to San Felix, a city of mostly poor industrial workers in the sweltering south.
Shocking. Simply shocking. Meanwhile, a Venezuelan asks a penetrating question.
"With so much energy in Venezuela, how can we be without power?" asked Fernando Aponte, 49, whose slum neighborhood of Las Delicias in San Felix spent 15 days without electricity
Why? Well, Fernando, the answer is pretty simple. You didn't pay the people who produced the electricity the value of what it was worth. Your government took it from them because they wanted it. You asked the power companies to work for the benefit of the people, not for their own profits.


Having said that, think about what has happened for a moment. The power grid in Venezuela is worse now than it was before. Venezuela is at the end of a massive boom in national income. They export lots and lots of oil and for the last few years, the price of oil has been very high. In the middle of a time of plenty, their power grid has fallen apart. No one was allowed to get rich off of it, so no one bothered to keep it working.

"Profit is evil" has been the message from the Chavez regime. The result? Widespread blackouts.

Venezuela can too give light to its citizens! See?

Photo used without permission from Mark Mallet.

Gen-Y, Minimum Wage and Atlas Shrugged

I've managed to make my way through about half of Atlas Shrugged. I'm finding myself agreeing with about 2/3 of it. The part that resonates the most with me is the concept that being paid more than the value of what you produce is stealing from others' labor. The story and how it applies to what we're seeing unfold in the economy today makes me unapologetic about my prudiciousness*.

Searching across the blogosphere just for fun, I came across two posts over at The Voyager, the official newspaper of the University of West Florida. The first dealt with the Gen-Y writer's unhappiness about having Boomers bug their generation about playing too many video games, being too fat and too pale. The second dealt with trickle down economics and how the minimum wage needs to be increased.

From the first article:
Finally I realized that it wasn't about the pale skin, the exercise or even the videogames. It never was. That's all just ammunition in an epic power struggle between two generations. Here's what it's really about: hippies-turned-CEOs who refuse to relinquish control.
From the second:
The bailout plan is targeting the wrong people at the wrong time. The country should have focused on issues like paying better wages to the workers of the country than the previous administration. Then we wouldn't be seeing such reluctance to spend. We wouldn't see American families having to make the choice between feeding their family for the next week or filling prescriptions.
Both articles are animated by the popular culture's separation of behavior and rewards. Health care and higher wages should be handed out because people need it. Boomers control the world because ... well, the author is not sure just why, but they do and she's unhappy with that. Gen-Y should have more control because they want it.

Missing from all of this is the notion that rewards have to be earned. Whether or not the writers believe it, rewards are earned. Someone, somewhere creates the products that are handed out to others in the form of mandated higher wages or mandated benefits. That's the crime we Boomers committed. Budget deficits and the monstrous debts that every country across the world faces are symptoms of the culture we have produced, a culture where self-indulgence is worshipped and the old ways of prudery are scorned.

It's all temporary, of course. No matter what the hippie generation left their children, in the end all of those goodies will have to be paid for. You can't possess anything that someone hasn't produced no matter how much you want it. There are no shortcuts, there is only work and its rewards. The old ways, such as the cardinal virtues described in St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica, aren't old-fashioned, they simply are. Someone has to live by them that others may consume the fruits of their labor.

St. Thomas Aquinas. A complete and total buzzkill.

* - Prudiciousness - judicious prudery, a term coined by our Monks of Miscellaneous Musings.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Government to Gen Y: Get Lost!

It's not enough to have spent their money running up a $10T bar tab by handing out cash to people who didn't earn it (more huge subsidies for farmers! Yay!), now we're talking about keeping inflated housing prices high so young couples have a harder time buying a home.
WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration is weighing a roughly $40 billion proposal to help forestall foreclosures, one of a series of ideas under consideration designed to address the root causes of the financial crisis.

At a Senate Banking Committee hearing Thursday, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair is expected to suggest the government give banks a financial incentive to turn troubled loans into more-affordable mortgages, according to a person familiar with her testimony. Under the proposal, the government would share in any future losses on the new loans with lenders.
Home prices are still inflated. Foreclosures are an indication of that. Stopping foreclosures acts as a brake on the fall of prices. Foreclosures add to the supply of houses on the market. More supply with constant demand lowers prices. At least until Congress figures out how to repeal the law of supply and demand. In any case, we're working hard to keep housing prices unnaturally high.

You're welcome, kids! And since you're going to have to keep renting for a bit longer, would it trouble you to pick up the tab for the upcoming increases in the budgets for education, agriculture, the NEA ...

Blogger Comments are Broked!

... at least I think they are. I can't seem to leave a comment on my site or on the other blogspot blogs in the Feline Theocracy. This isn't good at all.

more animals

Update: Blogger Buzz has something on this.
Today we’re bringing the embedded comment form out of Blogger in draft and making it easily available to everyone. This feature puts the comment form at the bottom of each post page, below the comments, instead of on the separate, Blogger-styled page.

The embedded comment form is more convenient for your readers because they can use it to post a comment immediately, without clicking over to a different page. It also looks better, since it matches your blog’s style and colors.
It would look even better if it actually existed! It's the HTML version of an ACORN voter.

Update 2: Our Monastery of Miscellaneous Musings is broked. Our Cantor of Chemistry has the old style comments working. Our Camerlengo of Cars has the new style working. I guess the update is working it's way through the system?

Update 2: I just changed my blog settings so that you can leave a comment in a pop up window. That still works.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Shape of Things to Come

Now that the government has bought stakes in private banks and since we're already spending Social Security taxes on day-to-day operations as fast as they come in, we might want to consider something like this.
BUENOS AIRES -- Hemmed in by the global financial squeeze and commodities slump, Argentina's leftist government has seemingly found a novel way to find the money to stay afloat: cracking open the piggybank of the nation's private pension system.

The government proposed to nationalize the private pensions, which would provide it with much of the cash it needs to meet debt payments and avoid a second default this decade.
Private pensions, as in your 401(k) with your company, are being siezed by the Argentinian government. But why?
While no one knows for sure what the government would do with the private system, economists said nationalization would let the government raid new pension contributions to cover short-term debts due in coming years.
Oh. That's why. Isn't there something else they could do?
Argentina's financing needs are growing quickly as the global financial squeeze pushes down prices of its commodity exports, such as soybeans. Coupled with unchecked government spending, the commodity downturn has carved a gap of around $10 billion to $11 billion in what Argentina must pay on its debt between now and the end of 2009
Never mind. I didn't realize that they needed the money for important things. (Emphasis mine.) Well, I guess there's nothing to worry about.

Argentine President Cristina Kirchner. (At least I think that's her. It might be someone else.)

Ocean Beach Jetty

I took this photo a while back, but never posted it. I'm posting it now for all of my landlocked visitors. It's not particularly noteworthy, it's just a tiny glimpse of the sea. Click on it for a bigger version. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cheezburger of the Day

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Hooray for Mr. Newt!

I just noticed something from my last post. The only Speaker of the House whose term ended with a smaller deficit than they started with was Newt Gingrich. Deficits here are listed in constant year 2000 dollars, in billions.

Tip O'Neill (D) - Start: 136, End: 318

Jim Wright (D) - 1987-88: Start: 210, End: 211

Tom Foley (D) - 1989-94: Start: 200, End: 228

Newt Gingrich (R) - 1995-98: Start: 180, End: 72

Denny Hastert (R) - 1999-2006: Start: 129, End: 210

Nancy Pelosi (D) - 2007-2008: Start: 162, End: 409

That's not a coincidence.

Hooray for Mr. Newt!

It's not the President's Debt

... if you want to blame just one person for deficit spending and the resulting monstrous debt, blame the Speaker of the House.

The US Constitution clearly lays out responsiblity for financial matters in the government in Article I, Section 8.
Section 8. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
As a practical matter, recent presidents have faced budgets that are so late in being passed that for the first few months of the fiscal year the government operates through continuing resolutions (CR). Under a CR, emergency funding is provided to operate the government because the full budget has yet to be passed. In such circumstances, the president's only practical tool in the budget process, the veto, is useless. No president is going to veto a budget that is already 3 months late getting to his desk. It's an act of legislative blackmail.

Here are the Speakers of the House over the last 30 years and the deficits or surpluses they ran in constant FY2000 dollars, in billions, rounded to the nearest billion. Surpluses are in green, deficits in red.

Tip O'Neill (D) - 1977-86: 136, 141, 89, 147, 142, 215, 333, 283, 313, 318

Jim Wright (D) - 1987-88: 210, 211

Tom Foley (D) - 1989-94: 200, 280, 327, 341, 292, 228

Newt Gingrich (R) - 1995-98: 180, 115, 23, 72

Denny Hastert (R) - 1999-2006: 129, 236, 125, 151, 353, 375, 279, 210

Nancy Pelosi (D) - 2007-2008: 162, 409

The only Speaker of the House to consistently reduce the deficit and whose budgets finally produced surpluses was Newt Gingrich. Everyone else, Republican and Democrat alike, borrowed and spent.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Bernanke: Let's Drop Money From Helicopters

Borrow and spend.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke endorsed congressional plans for a stimulus package Monday, giving a critical boost to Democratic lawmakers who are looking to inject more government funds into the economy.

Testifying before the House Budget Committee, Mr. Bernanke said a fiscal stimulus from Congress "seems appropriate" because the economy likely will be weak for several quarters, "with some risk of a protracted slowdown."
He went on to say that once you reach $10T in debt, there's hardly any point in stopping short of $20T.*

Here, American politicians shortcut the entire process and simply drop dollar bills right into a raging forest fire.

I read a great quote somewhere in the blogosphere recently. It said that the Bush administration came in as social conservatives and is leaving as conservative socialists.

* - He didn't really say that last part. He probably couldn't think of a number high enough to be an acceptable upper limit for the debt and thought that saying "a million bazillion jillions" sounded silly.

If you Give a man a Fish

... he eats for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he eats for his whole life.

I'm currently working my way through Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and not liking the general theme of defeatism. The book is clearly a classic as you can see how it applies to some of the themes in society today as well as it did when it was written more than 50 years ago.

Lots of money is donated to charity every year. Conservatives give more to charities than liberals. This is an opportunity to do more than just lend a helping hand, it's an opportunity to reshape the culture.

Why give to a charity that simply hands out food? Why give to a charity that simply donates books to libraries or helps single parents? The recipients of such donations will be back in a short while, needing yet more charity. What if, instead, every gift was accompanied by some instruction as well?

"Before I give you your food pack, let me teach you something from Dave Ramsey ..."

"While I take you to the ballgame as your Big Brother, let's talk about the corrosive effects of popular culture ..."

I wonder if there is a list of the charities that predicate handouts on attending such instructional sessions. I wonder if enough of us banded together and demanded it, could we reshape some existing charities as well?


Go Rays!

I was really hoping for a Milwaukee - Tampa Bay World Series, but I'll take this one. I love it when small market teams do well.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Too Many Beers With the Sunday Football


A Quick Commentary on Atlas Shrugged

After reading a post by the Instawife asking if it was time for the productive people of the US to "go John Galt", I picked up an audio copy of the book referenced in that post, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.


I'm about a quarter of the way through the book and already it's made me see the world in a different way. I now understand the people who said reading it changed their lives. Having said that, I don't completely agree with the idea of going John Galt.

Barack Obama is a parasite. He is encouraging more of us to become parasites, too. For example, Barack has never worked in an oil field. He has never worked in the companies that make deep water drilling rigs, specialized drill bits for deep earth drilling, or the ones that make pipelines. Yet his car is always filled with gasoline and the engine lubricated with oil. The oil companies he wants to loot make far less on their invested money than do the companies of his rich, parasite-encouraging contributors like Apple or Google.


Barack and his friends are perfect examples of the looters described in Ayn Rand's novel. They produce nothing that we use and instead sieze wealth to distribute to yet more people who produce nothing.

There are communities where Atlas Shrugged has been played out perfectly. In Zimbabwe, the looters drove off the white farmers who created the country's wealth and took all of their land and equipment. As individual farms were looted and farmers murdered, farmers who had yet to be attacked went John Galt, packed up and left the country, leaving their farms in the hands of the looters.

In some of our own inner cities, the looter class has similarly driven off productive businesses. In states such as California, a looter government is driving out businesses. Companies would rather go John Galt than stay and have the products of their labor siezed by the government and handed out to parasites.

And yet, going John Galt is an act of defeatism. It's running away from the problem and not confronting it. It's what you do when the parasites become too strong and too numerous to fight. We're not there yet.

If you don't like the Obama concept of spreading the wealth out to the people behind you through soul-rotting forced income redistribution which incubates still more parasites, then do something else with it. If you donate some of your income to organizations like the Concord Coalition, which tries to educate people about our disastrous debt problem, then it is not available to parasites like Obama and is actually used to fight them.

While I love the book, I'm not yet ready to go John Galt. I'm not yet ready to quit. More later.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The MSM as a Goon Squad

Barack Obama sought out Joe the plumber, not the other way around. Barack was trying to do some retail politicking with the press trailing along behind him. Joe the plumber asked the wrong questions of Obama and followed it up with still more.

The MSM and the left wing blogs have now gone after Joe the plumber and have revealed every last sin of his for the world to see. For example, Joe seems to have had some tax problems in the past. So has Barack. But Barack is The One and Joe made him look foolish and must therefore be punished. Our Monastery of Miscellaneous Musing has one take on this situation. I have an extension of that take.

When Barack can seek out a conversation with you, a private citizen, where the result of said conversation is the MSM and the lefty blogs trumpeting every private sin you've ever committed, how is that different from living under the threat of any other leader's goon squads?

Friday, October 17, 2008


Our Maximum Leader, sprawled out in a sunbeam.

Cheezburger of the Day

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Awesome Sunset for Real

OK, so yesterday I teased you with promises of glorious sunset photos. I hadn't seen them, locked away in my camera as they were, but when I went through them this morning, they turned out even better than I remembered. Here's one of the best. It's definitely worth clicking on to see the bigger version.

God decided to use his palette knife that night.

This post was actually kind of hard to write. I love that video of Mike singing Rio so much that I didn't want to take it off the top of the blog.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mike Nesmith - Rio Live

After the release of their reunion CD, Justus, the Monkees played a series of concerts in England. Some kind soul did a homemade video of the concert and has put selections up on YouTube. Here's one of my favorites, Mike doing his solo number, Rio.

It's a sweet, whimsical song - very Mike Nesmith. You can find the lyrics here.

Fantastic Sunset Photos You Can't See

... yet. Last night we had a fabulous sunset, perhaps better than any of the ones I videotaped last year. I raced to the local church parking lot where there is the best view of Mission Bay and snapped about 30 photos.

I left the camera somewhere else.

So, since you can't see the photos right now, let me describe them to you. There were lots of oranges and reds and yellows and a perfect clustering of clouds on the horizon with Mission Bay in the foreground. Got it? No, a little more orange. There. Isn't that nice?

You're welcome.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Knowledge-Power Divide

One of my favorite bloggers, Arnold Kling, makes a great point today about the bailout and the consolidation of more and more power in the government.
Whether the economy needs a "plan," or whether the plan will help the markets, is beside the point. The plan serves to consolidate power. Four weeks ago, the Fed and the Treasury had far more power than anyone can intelligently use. Still, they came to Congress requesting more power. Then, when the bill was passed, Paulson took even more power than what it sounded like the legislation was giving...

Knowledge today is increasingly dispersed. Power was already too concentrated in the private sector, with CEO's not understanding their own businesses.

But the knowledge-power discrepancy in the private sector is nothing compared to what exists in the public sector. What do Congressmen understand about the budgets and laws that they are voting on? What do the regulators understand about the consequences of their rulings?
Read the whole thing.

Hair of the Dog

... is the prescription from the government, and from politicians on both sides of the aisle.

From Henry Paulson of the Bush administration, we get a strong suggestion that we should all run off and start borrowing more money from the banks.
"The needs of our economy require that our financial institutions not take this new capital to hoard it, but to deploy it," Mr. Paulson said.
From Barack Obama, we get permission to draw down our 401(k) funds and a bailout for states who can't control their budgets.
The main new proposals (of the Obama plan) would:

— allow savers with tax-favored Individual Retirement Accounts and 401(k)’s to withdraw 15 percent of those retirement savings, up to a maximum of $10,000, without paying a tax penalty as the law currently requires for withdrawals before age 59 and a half;

— direct the Treasury and the Federal Reserve to create a temporary facility for loans to state and local governments, similar to the Fed’s new arrangement to loan corporations money by buying their commercial paper, which are the I.O.U.s that help businesses with daily operating expenses like payrolls.
You can load up on still more debt if you'd like. Me, I'm sticking with Dave Ramsey.


Nation's Finances

National Debt Clock

Where are my Envelopes?

A month or two ago I bought a box of envelopes. I can't find them now. Do any of you know where I put them?

They look a lot like this only I'm not sure they're in front of a blue background.

How Kelly the Little, Black Dog Sees Cats

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sing Along: The Future Belongs to Me

From the Wizbang blog comes this jaw-dropper:
My 8th grade son is in an advanced English class at a public middle school here in Racine, Wisconsin. I just found out that my son's new (copyright 2008) Wisconsin - McDougal Littell Literature book has 15 pages covering Barack Obama.

I was shocked - No John McCain, no Hillary Clinton, no George Bush - Just Barack Obama. I'm wondering how it is that Obama's story gets put into an 8th grade literature book? It would be one thing, if it was just the tidbit about his boyhood days, but 15 pages, and they talk about his "Life of Service". Honestly, what has Obama really done to be included in this book?
Wow. Just a few more weeks and then we can all join in the sing-along.

Update: Here's the Gateway Pundit post it all came from. This one has a photo of the portion of the book devoted to The One. It's surreal.

The MGB Hits the Road

To those that didn't think my MGB would be on the road again this year, all I can say is "Ha!"

A 1973 MGB. Engine shipped separately.

Err, yes, well, the B is on it's way to a shop to finish the restoration, but technically speaking, this does count as being on the road.


Bungling our way to Socialism

The government is so big that portions of it work at cross purposes, don't what each other are doing, or are busy cleaning up after each other. Today, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Federal government is buying stakes in private banks.
The U.S. government is expected to take stakes in nine of the nation's top financial institutions as part of a new plan to restore confidence to the battered U.S. banking system, a far-reaching effort that puts the government's guarantee behind the basic plumbing of financial markets...

Other elements of the plan, which will be announced Tuesday morning, include: equity investments in possibly thousands of other banks; lifting the cap on deposit insurance for certain bank accounts, such as those used by small businesses; and guaranteeing certain types of bank lending. It builds on an earlier plan to buy up rotten assets dragging down banks, which failed to calm investor fears, and follows similar moves by major European countries.
Emphasis mine. Those rotten assets exist, for the most part, due to a previous wave of government interference. In that episode, the government, through regulations and coercion, encouraged mortgage brokers to make home loans to people with bad credit and no money to contribute to the purchase of the home. To make up for the incompetence and meddling that got us into this mess in the first place, the government is now buying stakes in the private banks it helped ruin.

Totalitarianism doesn't always come with thugs or rogue armies or massive demonstrations. Sometimes it just blunders its way into being.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Because $3,100,000,000,000 Just Isn't Enough

... we need more government spending as a stimulus.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States needs a new economic stimulus plan that pumps billions of dollars into infrastructure projects and budget relief for cash-strapped state and local governments, Democratic lawmakers said on Sunday.
Err, if that was going to work, wouldn't it have worked by now? And where will we get these billions? Why, we'll borrow money from these guys, of course!

You owe $30,000+ each already. You're welcome.

Ayers and Obama

The question that seems to be on everyone's mind about the Bill Ayers - Barack Obama connection is, "What was Obama doing with Ayers?"

This is precisely the wrong question. At the time of their intial association, Ayers had the money and the position of power. Obama was just a pipsqueak politician in a sea of such creatures. The real questions to ask are this:

What did Ayers see in Obama to make him The One Ayers chose to associate with? Why did Ayers lend Obama his credibility, his time and his money? Ayers was a long time veteran of politics and activism. He'd risen to a position of moderate prestige in such circles and one would think he'd gained a certain amount of wisdom and judgment over time.

What was it in Barack Obama that attracted Bill Ayers?

Democracy Triumphant (Yet Again)!

From a link over at the Puppy Blender's site:
A newspaper investigation finds more than 30,000 felons who should have been stripped of their right to vote are still registered in Florida.

The Sun Sentinel discovered that at least 4,900 felons turned out in past elections and another 5,600 are still in prison.

Of the felons who are registered, Democrats outnumber Republicans more than two to one.

Secretary of State Kurt Browning tells the newspaper that his staff has failed to remove thousands of ineligible felons because of a shortage of workers and so many new voter registrations.

He says elections workers are now reviewing the voting records but would not say how long the investigation will take.
I would bet that part of the ACORN plan, funded by the Obama campaign's infusion of $800,000, is to simply overwhelm each state's resources to police the voter rolls.

Let's all sing it together: The Future Belongs to Me!

Previously, it was Just Thrown Into 55-gallon Drums and Burned Beyond Recognition

... but now, it's roasted with care.

Thanks, Folgers. Thanks for your new roasting style. I like it! And there's none of that rusty, charred aftertaste, either!

ACORN and Hamas

Our Archbishop of Texas makes the connection. Wow.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My Autumn Test Results

Thanks to our Official Artist, we discovered this way cool quiz. If you take it and place the results on your blog, please link back to Justin, not to me.

Your Autumn Test Results

You are a dynamic, vibrant person. You aren't afraid to pursue your passions.

When you're happiest, you are outgoing and expressive . You love celebrations, and you enjoy showing off a little.

You prefer change to come slowly. You need a long transition period when your life changes.

You find hard work to be the most comforting thing in the world. You like the feeling of accomplishing something.

Your ideal day is active and full. You like to keep busy with your favorite things, and you appreciate a routine.

You tend to live in the moment. You enjoy whatever is going on, and you don't obsess over the past or future.

Movie Review - An American Carol

I just got back from seeing An American Carol. It was quite funny and somewhat moving. I highly recommend seeing it. It was LOL funny in many parts. It suffers a bit from not quite knowing what it wants to be - a retelling of A Christmas Carol or a new version of Airplane! It settles for being a combination of the two.

In the story, film maker Michael Malone (read: Michael Moore) is visited by three spirits who try and convert him from his anti-American bias to love of his country. When it works, the spirits use slapstick comedy and harsh truths to make their points. When it fails, it's because a comedy can't be as brutal as such a conversion story needs to be.

I'll leave the theater trailer with you here and if you've seen it, I'll engage in some spoiler discussion in the comments. I don't like many movies these days, but I really liked this one.

Son of Promise, Child of Hope

What is it with people on the left? What is this fascination with totalitarianism? The State, emodied by a Great Leader will provide an protect.

And make the rest of us throw up. Dig this cover of a new children's book.

Mein fuhrer!

A while back I was chastised by our Missionary to the Frozen, Northern Wastelands for using a Nazi analogy in a previous post. I deleted it. I'm sorry, but I'm not deleting this one. The government controls 30%+ of the economy through direct spending and a great deal more through unfunded mandates in the form of regulations on our lives and businesses. Obama promises more, more, more! When do you cross the line between living as a free people and living as wards of the State? 50%? 60%? 70%? Combining direct spending with regulation, we're not too far away from that now.

Combine that with drivel like this from the book whose cover is shown above being marketed to children and you get what, if not totalitarianism?
Ever since Barack Obama was young, Hope has lived inside him. From the beaches of Hawaii to the streets of Chicago, from the jungles of Indonesia to the plains of Kenya, he has held on to Hope. Even as a boy, Barack knew he wasn't quite like anybody else, but through his journeys he found the ability to listen to Hope and become what he was meant to be: a bridge to bring people together.
The right is justly criticized for canonizing Ronald Reagan. He was a great president, to be sure, but that was 20 years ago. Get over it. This, however, is today.

Combine all of that above with a willingly hagiographic MSM who sends reporters to sift through dumpsters in Alaska, but doesn't attend Obama's paranoid, racist church or investigate his maniac friends, and you're approach this result.

Whoops! Too late! We've already had the children singing for Obama like he was Kim Jung Il. We're starting to run out of exaggerations to use for parody.

H/T: Our Pater of Prowling.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mission Beach Jetty

... in black and white. It gives it kind of a retro feel, don't you think?

Democracy Triumphant (Again)!

They're not even bothering to hide it any more. Dig this.

I expect to see an in-depth 60 Minutes piece on this. In December.

Meanwhile, Iowahawk is ontop of the story.
Attorneys for the voting registration organizations ACORN and Project Vote filed an anti-discrimination voting rights suit in the U.S. Federal District court this morning, alleging the United States government is involved in "a widespread, systematic effort to disenfranchise Imaginary-Americans and deprive them of access to polls."

"Participation in our electoral process is a fundamental right, and the foundation of our democracy," said ASDF ASDFG, a spokesperson for the National Association for the Advancement of Imaginary People, one of the groups named as plaintiffs in the class action. "We will not be silent when government denies people access to the polls on the basis of color, or sex, or existential status."
There's more here.

October Sunset

Friday, October 10, 2008

Mission Beach Surfing

... was pretty good today. Click on the image for a much better version.

Lehman Auction Will Begin to Settle the Uncertainty

Paul Kedrosky has more details about the auction of Lehman's assets, but in a nutshell, this is the beginning of the unwinding of the problem.

The current financial crisis is a crisis of trust. It's said that the banks are hoarding their cash and not lending because they don't know who is really solvent and who isn't. Allow me to suggest a slightly different thought.

The banks are not afraid of everyone else, they're afraid of themselves. Each individual bank is afraid of what it's going to find in its balance sheets because of the subprime mortgage securities and so its hoarding cash until the smoke clears and they have a better idea of what is going on. Today's first auction of such assets will start to clear up the situation.

Once they have a better idea of the value of their assets, they'll know how much they can lend. Until then, no bank wants to get caught with too much money lent out and not enough assets backing it up. In the meantime, the government is acting as the short term lender for the economy.
The Federal Reserve has announced a radical plan to buy massive amounts of short-term debts in a dramatic effort to break through a credit clog that is imperiling the economy.

The Federal Reserve said Tuesday it will buy "commercial paper," a short-term financing mechanism that many companies rely on to finance their day-to-day operations, such as purchasing supplies or making payrolls.
Things will calm down and the market will rebound once the value of these assets is established through real, live auctions.

Update: Jim Jubak of MSN Money agrees and has a much better version of the explanation.

Update 2: The auction is done. The results were a little disappointing. Full details are here.

Felix Salmon over at Seeking Alpha gives the most in-depth assessment of the situation that I've seen.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Greece Faces Major Economic Crisis - I Blame George Bush!

... after all, who else could be at fault?
Greece has so far escaped attention as the financial storm breaks over Europe, but the economy is deeply unbalanced. A torrid credit boom has been allowed to run unchecked, leading to a current account deficit of 15pc of GDP -- the highest in the eurozone.
While property losses are modest so far, the Greek banks have run into trouble rolling over short-term debts after the near total closure of Europe's capital markets. The liabilities of the Greek banks are roughly €320bn euros.
Could it be a wave of insane borrowing and spending? Could it be Keynesian economics coming home to roost?

Of course not. It's George Bush's fault!

Gay Marriage and the Financial Meltdown

If you want a succinct analysis of the financial meltdown, consider gay marriage. California has decided that two grown men living together with no responsibilities deserve to receive benefits.

Next up: Dollar bills dropped from helicopters. Why? Because we all deserve more!

Pollution Threatens the Gulf Cost

The Secular Apostate (I really need to induct him into the Feline Theocracy one of these days) has the full story. Here's a tidbit.
The smell of rotting polar bear corpses, dying reefs, and bloated fish corpses sweeps across our deck with every half-hearted breeze. Last night, I had freshly synthesized flounder stuffed with crab and shrimp, and dressed with a Mobil1™ synthetic oil based dill sauce.
Read the whole thing.

Democracy Triumphant!

... in Indianapolis where the voter registration is 105% of the population.

Wow. They're not even trying to hide it any more. There's no need to when you've got the MSM on your side.

Lessons Learned From a Week of Bottom Feeding

I've used this recent market crash to finally buy some stocks. While I've watched various companies for quite some time, nothing clarifies your thought processes like actually putting money in play. With a little less than a week under my belt, I thought I'd share my tremendous wisdom* with you.
  • In a wildly volatile market like this, you might as well put in your bids 5-10% below the current price. Chances are very good that the stock will sink down and hit that price. I've bought everything at market and left at least 5% on the table. Owie!
  • I don't understand technical analysis of stocks. I'm not sure I want to. However, I do understand balance sheets and cash flows. In this crash, the good and the bad have been slaughtered alike. However, there are distinct differences between them. Right now, short-term financing is tight. Every stock I've bought has been a company with enough cash to pay off all of their short term debt and have plenty left over. None of them will have problems because they can't roll over their short term loans.
  • In the short run, the market is an irrational mob. In the long run, well-managed companies are rewarded.
  • I don't understand technology stocks. I understand technology, but I don't see it as a necessity. My router works just fine. Why do I want a new one? Dittos for a computer and a cell phone. Oil, on the other hand, I need every day. I've always been a loser in this way. I've never understood the attraction of Apple.
  • I don't mind missing out on stocks that skyrocket up and make their investors rich. Apple, for example. I just don't get it so I'm not going to buy it.
  • Lots of well-run companies are being murdered right now. Companies with long histories and excellent market positions. With capital gains whacking your profits if you sell less than a year after you bought, many of these companies will probably be in terrific shape in a year. I'm learning to think of my stock investments as a 1 year CD.
  • I buy companies that make the things I use and understand. When I read the financial blogs and see hot tips on stocks I've never heard of, I run away. So what if I miss out on something marvellous? All I want is a better return on my money than the 2% I was getting in my savings account. Given the insane sell off in the market, a year from now a 2% return would seem likely.
  • If not a year from now, then 2 years from now. Once the money is invested, I'm not taking it back out until the company I invested in has been ruined by incompetent management or I've got a decent return.
  • That means I only invest money that I can afford to park for a long, long time.
  • By being conservative choosing companies, I'm betting I can avoid incompetent management.

There. That's a week's worth of wisdom from trading stocks based on 15 or so years of business management, marketing, sales and organizational turn-arounds in the real world.

* - this wisdom is being dispensed by a cat. Take it for what it's worth. Not much.

Update: It was another very bad day. Owie owie owie owie owie! :-)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Should I be a Nosy Rodent?

Admiral Robert F. Willard, COMPACFLT, now has a blog. Should I go leave a comment on it? I can just see his morning staff briefing now.

"Captain Gorgonblatz! What's the status of the USS George Washington's underway replenishment? Commander Krugar, report immediately on our humanitarian assistance operations in Indonesia! And can someone tell me who this Jacob the Syrian Hamster is? He keeps leaving comments on my blog!"

Curse You, Irving Berlin!

... because I've got a bunch of his songs stuck in my head. Like this one.

I recently bought a 2 CD set of Fred Astaire songs. It was the result of our local jazz station's weekend Rugcutter's Swing shows which led to me creating a Pandora station based on some of the artists which led to me hearing a Fred Astaire song I really liked which led to the purchase of the CDs which led to this!


Dave Ramsey Wins!

My personal financial guru, Dave Ramsey, dispenses relatively simple advice.


I've followed that advice and am pretty happy right now. I've done a little premature bottom feeding in the market and am debating about doing some more. I'm doing it with cash. Meanwhile, nearly the entire world is drowning in debt. I wish Dave was running for President. Here's what he had to say recently about the financial crisis.
(Y)ou want Obama or McCain to fix things. There has never been a president who can fix your problems. They always say they can and they never can.

YOU are in charge of your destiny. YOU are in charge of your life. When you look to Washington to solve your problems, we've got the seeds to destroy this country. It's time for you to change your life. It's not Washington's job to fix what's going on with you. If you are waiting on Washington to change something, you've got a very long wait! It is YOUR job to take care of you. Don't sit around and watch TV and panic and think you can't do anything. I've made and lost money, and every bit of that had to do with me being smart and diligent or stupid.

Quit blaming Congress or looking to them to fix you. YOU have to fix you! When you wait on the government to fix your life and wait for money to be taken from others and given to you, that's a spirit of envy. The only system that works is capitalism functioning under moral restraint.
I would bet that Sarah Palin is the only one of the four candidates for president or vice president who even thinks in these terms.

Dave Ramsey doing unto credit cards as they have done unto you.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Why the European Markets are Panicking

... in a nutshell, it's because the EU does not allow for a coordinated response to the banking crisis the way the US does. Each nation is dealing with the situation on their own. MSN Money has a great video describing this. Sorry, but they do not allow you to embed it.

Cheezburger of the Day

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An Eye Opener

... for those who want a single villain in the economic meltdown. First, there is this tidbit from Reason Hit & Run:
As European stock markets tank, the Irish government guarantees bank deposits, the Benelux countries nationalize Fortis bank, Germany bails out Hypo Real Estate Holdings, and Denmark also guarantees bank deposits and dismally so forth, the question arises: Who knew that Europe, of all places, was so under-regulated? Or maybe de-regulation is not the chief cause for the outbreak of financial chaos? Just wondering.
Then there is this comment from Mr. Nice Guy in that same post:
Err, I hate to, err, point this out, but, ahem, um, doesn't this argument turn around the other way?

I mean, you can't blame government intervention for the mess if nations of varying levels of government intervention are suffering the same problems...
This is why I love the blogs. There's a lot of wisdom out there to be had. This problem was a combination of the two issues. First, the government and quasi-government entities decided to engage in social engineering and bought up loans given to any idiot who could hold a pen. Then we allowed some of the larger brokerage houses to run wild.

Had the Republicans been in control of Congress, we would have had a different pack of hateful cretins celebrating their combined shafting of the public and siezure of our wallets. As it is, we have to put up with end zone dances from the likes of Barney Frank, who was one of the chief architects of the social engineering portion of this disaster.

Monday, October 06, 2008

A Voice of Calm Reason

I really don't think this economic crisis is going to turn into a repeat of the Great Depression. I just don't see governments around the world allowing that to happen with the tools they have to deal with this. Robert Samuelson agrees.
There are parallels between then and now, but there are also big differences. Now as then, Americans borrowed heavily before the crisis -- in the 1920s for cars, radios and appliances; in the past decade, for homes or against inflated home values. Now as then, the crisis caught people by surprise and is global in scope. But unlike then, the federal government is a huge part of the economy (20 percent vs. 3 percent in 1929), and its spending -- for Social Security, defense, roads -- provides greater stabilization. Unlike then, government officials have moved quickly, if clumsily, to contain the crisis.

We need to remind ourselves that economic slumps -- though wrenching and disillusioning for millions -- rarely become national tragedies. Since the late 1940s, the United States has suffered 10 recessions. On average, they've lasted 10 months and involved peak monthly unemployment of 7.6 percent; the worst (those of 1973-75 and 1981-82) both lasted 16 months and had peak unemployment of 9 percent and 10.8 percent, respectively. We are almost certainly in a recession now, but joblessness, 6.1 percent in September, would have to rise spectacularly to match post-World War II highs.

The stock market tells a similar story. There have been 10 previous postwar bear markets, defined as declines of at least 20 percent in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index. The average decline was 31.5 percent; those of 1973-74 and 2000-02 were nearly 50 percent. By contrast, the S&P's low point so far (Friday) was 30 percent below the peak reached in October 2007.
Read the whole thing.

Thanks, Boomers!

This was going to be a longer post, but that will have to wait. I just saw a tidbit over at Paul Kedrosky's Infectious Greed blog that made me have to post something about how we Baby Boomers are turning out to be the Dumbest Generation as opposed the ones before us, the Greatest Generation.

Paul takes an Aussie writer to task for gloating about the Australian banks have missed the whole financial crash so far. Paul points out that it's not over yet. Within his well-considered piece is this bit of information about the Aussies.
The second problem with Australian banks is their reliance on mortgages. Over the last twenty years debt has gone from less than half of average income in the country to more like 1.5 times income.
It's the same thing all over the world. Despite the lack of any existential crises, national governments from France to the US and all places in between have run up massive debts. Household debts have skyrocketed and savings rates gone down. Borrow, borrow, spend, spend! Yay! Let's have more credit cards, second mortgages and loans to people with lousy credit! Hope and change and free health care for all! Wheeeeeeeeeee!

How's that working out now? For those of us that follow Dave Ramsey, we could have told you (and many of us did) how this would turn out.

Meanwhile, we're hip and groovy and doing what Crosby, Stills and Nash told us to do. "Love the one you're with," man. After all, if you can't be with the one you love, honey, love the one you're with. With a prison population of over 2 million consisting mostly of young men raised in homes where people loved the ones they were with, that seems like it didn't work out so well, either.

Self-denial is for the repressed, man. You gotta do what feels right in the moment. Borrow, spend and sleep around.

Thanks, fellow Boomers. Thanks a lot.

We Were Happy to Help You, Europe!

Don't worry, I'm sure Barney Frank can steer a few billion your way to bail out some of his favorite Euro investors as Europe bursts into flames*.
LONDON (AP) -- Asian and European stock markets plunged Monday as government bank bailouts in the U.S. and Europe failed to alleviate fears that the global financial crisis would depress world economic growth.

Investors took scant comfort from Washington's passage of a US$700 billion plan to buy bad assets from banks and other institutions to shore up the financial industry on Friday because of the uncertainty still hanging over the details of the deal and the degree to which it will help.

Britain's benchmark stock index, the FTSE 100, lost 220.11 to 4,760.14 -- a 4.42 percent fall. The declines were led by the banking industry, with the mining and oil industries also suffering drops. HBOS PLC's share price dropped 15.7 percent, while the Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC fell 13.6 percent.
Now that we've passed the bailout bill, we can all go back to our normal lives. The crisis has been averted!

* - When it comes to flaming, there's not many who do it better than Barney Frank!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Girls' Parties are Exhausting!

A slumber party with lots of girls has just completely worn out our Maximum Leader.

Can we just have a quiet night at home next time?

On Covering a Bowl of Pancake Batter Before Storing it in the Refrigerator

When the only tool you have is aluminum foil, every problem looks like a pot roast.

The Bailout is the Symptom, not the Disease

Niall Ferguson, writing at Time Magazine, noted some key facts in his article on the bailout bill. He points out that it's not just the Federal Government that is buried in debt.
In the case of households, debt rose from about 50% of GDP in 1980 to a peak of 100% in 2006. In other words, households now owe as much as the entire U.S. economy can produce in a year...

Banks and other financial institutions are in an even worse position: their debts are accumulating even faster. By 2007 the financial sector's debt was equivalent to 116% of GDP, compared with a mere 21% in 1980.
The puppyblender keeps noting states and municipalities that are getting farther and farther behind with their unfunded pension liabilities.
"The Illinois State pension fund is $44 billion in debt. That’s the worst in the country."

The problem of underfunded public pensions will make Fannie and Freddie look like small potatoes.
Next up: Health care for all! It's a right!

Commando Coffee

So last night, my daughter had her birthday party and had three friends spend the night. The only room big enough to handle the four of them is the living room, which is not closed off in any meaningful way from the kitchen. Not wanting her or her friends to be grumpy today, I'm letting them sleep in as late as they can.

My coffee maker is in the kitchen.

If I go down and make coffee, I'll wake them up. I just returned from a commando mission where I determined that extracting the coffee maker from behind enemy lines would most likely wake them up as well. I'm coffeeless. It's going to be a long morning.

A bridge too far.

Update: They're awake! Strike Force Narwhal springs into action and begins Operation: Caffeine Withdrawl Headache Prevention

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Feeling Short

... looking up at tall palm trees.

Stumping Sarah Palin

... is easy. Just ask her which Supreme Court case other than Roe v. Wade that she disagrees with. I'm sure that you, like me, have at least a dozen on the tips of your tongue. ABC News, a bastion of righteousness within the unimpeachable MSM, pointed out that Katie Couric stumped Sarah Palin in an article about whether or not Sarah Palin thought Obama was qualified to be Commander-in-Chief.
Katie Couric, the CBS News anchor who recently stumped the Alaska governor by asking her to name a Supreme Court case other than Roe v. Wade with which she disagrees.
You can see the tie-in with the role of C-in-C, can't you? I sure can.

Had Joe Biden been asked this question, he might have replied that he disagreed with the Supreme Court's decision on Miller v. The Dallas Cowboys where the Supreme Court held that it was illegal to keep Bengal Tigers in suspended animation while piloting a DC-3.

That reply would have been instantly held up as an example of Joe Biden's commanding grasp of the facts and everyone in the MSM would have stood up and cheered.

Nope. No Bengal Tigers in suspended animation here!

In the Future

... if I were the GOP, I would grant most access to Internet media organizations like Pajamas Media and less to the TV and newspapers. First off, the newspapers are becoming nearly irrelevant. Both Gannett and NYT stock prices are plunging and there's no end in site for either. Absent government intervention (can you say Pravda?) they might both be out of business in 2012. TV ratings are dropping all the time and the real action, the future of both parties, are the younger folks on the Internets tubes.

Imagine if Sarah Palin's first few interviews had been with Glenn and Helen Reynolds on the Instapundit podcast, Roger Simon on Pajamas Media, Captain Ed over at Hot Air and some of the milbloggers. That would have been cool.

The puppyblender (Glenn) suggested that the solution to the MSM's hyperbias was to feed the flowers (the bloggers) and pull the weeds.
If you want to have a media environment that isn't dominated by the Gwen Ifills and Keith Olbermanns of the world, you need to ensure that other kinds of voices flourish. That means supporting the alternatives with your eyeballs, your subscriptions, your advertiser-patronage (and you could write those advertisers and tell them you're happy that they're supporting that kind of programming, too -- they probably don't get many letters like that, so they'll be noticed) -- basically, your money. Businesses need money to flourish. There's a vast underserved population out there, for news, entertainment, movies, etc., and if people start serving it, the current "mainstream" media won't be so mainstream anymore. So if you're unhappy with current offerings, put your money where your mouth is.
Or in this case, give your media access to the media that doesn't praise people like Joe Biden for having a command of the issues when he simply makes things up out of thin air.

Friday, October 03, 2008

A Unified Field Theory of Joe Biden

So last night, Joe Biden debated Sarah Palin and let loose some whoppers. Whether it was his assertion that the US and France had kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon or his complete misunderstanding of the Constitution and where the job of the VP is detailed, it was classic Joe Biden. It was on a par with his claim that FDR had come on TV in 1929 and explained the stock market crash to the nation.

How does he get away with it? Here's my theory.

Joe Biden sets up an irreconcilable dichotomy in your brain. On the one hand, he's been a senator for 36 years and is the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. On the other hand, he talks like Cliff the Mailman from Cheers, making one preposterous statement after another. When he says something paralyzingly stupid, your brain cannot reconcile the idiocy of the comment with his tenure in the Senate. You automatically doubt your grasp of the facts because you cannot believe there's any way such a nincompoop could have achieved the success he has. Reporters interviewing him wonder if they should press him on the issue, but decide against it because there's no way he could be that ignorant given his past. Afraid of making themselves look foolish by asking a stupid question, they stay silent and let the conversation move on.

Well, either that or the MSM is totally in the bag for the Democrats.

Hmm. Did he really just say that wombats ruled the world?

Update: A Monk of Miscellaneous Musings posts this marvellous assessment from the press of Cliff the Mailman's perceptive wisdom:

Biden's command of the issues was simply of a higher order. Palin didn't have a single moment as impressive as Biden's short discourse on the vagaries of recent U.S. policies regarding Israel, Hamas and Hezbollah.
Outstanding! He gets kudos from the MSM for making stuff up.

Wombats. They rule the world.

Cheezburger of the Day

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Biden Won the VP Debate, Part 2

From Jonah Goldberg over at The Corner:
Biden showed himself to an exceptionally facile liar. He makes stuff up with great passion, conviction and seeming command of the substance. So it just bugs me when people say he's better on the substance. I could be a great physicist if I'm not held to a requirement to be factually correct;

"Well, Gwen, that's an interesting question. As we all know the hamster spinning at the earth's core runs in a counter-clockwise direction. Let me repeat that so everyone understands. That hamster does not run in a clockwise direction, that would be madness. It's counter clockwise. That's why our lakes and rivers don't simply turn into a fine mist, and why our atmosphere doesn't simply spontaneously combust. This is something that my dear friend John McCain just doesn't understand. And it saddens me."
Had Biden said this, there'd have been no follow-up question from Gwen "It's payday for me if Obama wins" Ifill, of course.

Joe Biden Won the VP Debate

... because once more, he found that there are no boundaries to what he can say.

Michael Totten, expert on Lebanon that he is, went ballistic over Joe Biden's fantasies about Hezbollah.
In Thursday night’s vice presidential debate between Senator Joe Biden and Governor Sarah Palin, Biden said the strangest and most ill-informed thing I have ever heard about Lebanon in my life. “When we kicked — along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, I said and Barack said, “Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don’t know — if you don’t, Hezbollah will control it.” Now what’s happened? Hezbollah is a legitimate part of the government in the country immediately to the north of Israel.” [Emphasis added.]

What on Earth is he talking about? The United States and France may have kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon in an alternate universe, but nothing even remotely like that ever happened in this one.

Nobody – nobody – has ever kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon. Not the United States. Nor France. Not Israel. And not the Lebanese. Nobody.

Joe Biden has literally no idea what he’s talking about.
Joe Biden won because he discovered that the MSM forgiveness of his behavior extends well beyond gaffes. It has no limits at all. In a story linked on Yahoo's front page today, gaffes from the debate are listed. This one doesn't make the cut, while Palin is taken to task for missing the fact that there are 17,000 more troops in Iraq now than in 2007.

The puppyblender notes that Biden is completely confused about the Constitution as well. Article I does not describe the executive branch at all. Had Sarah Palin said this, it would have been all over the news and late night talk shows for a week as clear evidence she was totally unprepared to be VP.

Joe Biden won the debate because he showed he could stand in front of an audience and simply invent things out of his head and get away with it. And that's why the merger of the MSM and the Obama campaign matters.