Friday, January 30, 2009

Springsteen A Sellout

So much for the working guy:
In an interview with Sunday's New York Times, Bruce Springsteen says he shouldn't have made a deal with Wal-Mart. This month, the store started exclusively selling a Springsteen greatest hits CD.
Some fans were critical because Springsteen has been a longtime supporter of worker's rights, and Wal-Mart has faced criticism for its labor practices.
Springsteen told the Times that his team didn't vet the issue as closely as he should have, and that he "dropped the ball on it."

Yeah the working man is great and all, but all that filthy WalMart lucre is really just hard too resist.
I have had it in for Springsteen since I paid $200 for two tickets for a concert only to be subjected to a non stop rant about how GWB is the anti-Christ, a chimp and worse than Hitler.

No One Wants To Sign Manny

Albert Pujols on Manny Ramirez:
"I speak with Manny every three days and he tells me, `Man, no one wants to sign me,'" Pujols said, according to an Associated Press report. "I'm not an agent or general manager, but I can't understand how Manny has not signed."
Let me tell you; other than hitting - where the man is a prodigious talent - Manny is train wreck as player and a crapweasel as a team mate. Do I really need to list instances of Manny being Manny on the field or detail his departure from Boston where basically he sand bagged it so he could be traded? I prefer to let Manny be Manny somewhere else, somewhere obscure like a a beach in the D. R. or a greeter in WalMart somewhere.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ruminations, January 25, 2009

Depression relevance
Once upon a time, the U.S. had hit pretty bad economic times. The Federal deficit was nearing record proportions. Unemployment went from 2.3% to 20%. The price level had declined by 40% in a single year. The Production Index declined from 125.3 to 99.7. Farm bankruptcies were up 20%. The Gross National Product (GNP) plunged 13%.

A new president took office and delivered a plan to Congress.
1) National debt reduction
2) Tax reduction
3) Federal spending reduction
4) Immigration restrictions to protect American jobs
5) An emergency tariff to protect American industry and farm commodities.
6) Farm relief legislation

Congress acted and federal spending was cut in half; taxes were cut by a third. The result? In a little over a year, unemployment went from 20% to 3.2% and the Production Index went up to 145.3. In a few years, the stock market tripled. The GNP grew almost 16% in the first year and continued to grow. The President's plan worked. It worked so well and that depression ended up being such a minor blip that no one remembers President Warren Harding and how he fought the 1920-21 depression.

What we do remember is President Franklin Roosevelt as the depression-fighting president. Roosevelt acted by tripling taxes and stimulus programs abounded (Federal spending doubled in Roosevelt's first year and had tripled by 1940). During Roosevelt's pre-war tenure, unemployment averaged 18.6%. In short, although the GNP did grow, his actions were not wholly successful. The Depression lingered during his entire first two terms.

Of course, times were different in 1921 than in 1933. And things are still different in 2009. Just because something worked or didn't work in 1921 doesn't mean it will have relevance in 2009. Also, things that worked or didn't work in 1933 also may not have relevance in 2009.

However, one would hope that in a time of economic crisis, our leaders would examine the administrations of all presidents who dealt with economic turbulence. There may be some lessons and some relevance in some of their actions.

Power of persuasion
Several years ago, I enrolled in a cost accounting course offered by the American Management Association in New York City. The course ran several weeks and was quite comprehensive.

At one point, late in the course, we broke into teams to resolve some hypothetical problem. We had several questions to answer for our exercise. I don't know if it was because I seemed to have more knowledge of the subject, verbalized issues during discussions or had an air of confidence but I became the leader of our group. I had an idea for each of the half dozen or so questions that we had to answer and, after discussion, everyone on my team agreed that my answer was the best. When we met with the entire class, our instructor provided the right answers; every answer our team had – and I mean all of them – was wrong.

There is a good lesson, besides humility. Just because one has more knowledge, verbalizes issues at length and has an air of confidence doesn't mean that he or she knows all – or any – of the right answers.

President George Bush, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made an effort to lead this country from the economic doldrums. President Barack Obama is about to lead this country through the continuing perilous times. Bush and his staff and Obama and his staff seem to be knowledgeable, have verbalized issues at length and have an air of confidence in their proposals. It doesn't mean they're right. I hope they are but we should not accept their answers without a fight when and if we think their answer is wrong.

Professionals in government
During the Bush Administration, it sometimes seemed as if a war was going on between the State Department and the Administration. Leaks and working at cross-purposes often seemed like the operational norm at State.

This was not just an impression that conservatives had, it was widely recognized. Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed members of State on her first day in office. She told them: "This is a team, and you are the members of that team. There isn't anything that I can get done – or the President can get done – unless we make clear we are all on the American team. We are not any longer going to tolerate the kind of divisiveness that has paralyzed and undermined our ability to get things done for America." (My emphasis).

Was this a one-off occurrence that existed only in the Bush Administration that Clinton was trying to correct? Hardly. Former president Harry Truman writing in his memoirs had this to say: "Every President in our history has been faced with this problem: how to prevent [government] career men from circumventing presidential policy."

We wish the new President and his Secretary well in dealing with the career men and women in State.

A mirror
An editorial in a foreign newspaper last week said that President George W. Bush got stubbornness confused with principles.

I started thinking about it and I got confused. Then it came to me – the difference between principle and stubbornness: When I stick to my beliefs and will not change them – that's principled. When you stick to your beliefs and will not change them, that's stubbornness.

So whether or not George Bush – or Barack Obama – is principled or stubborn depends on your point of view. And it says more about the speaker than it does about the subject.

What a good editor can do
If you're president you need a good editor to word-smith your verbiage. You can steal ideas from former presidents but you need the brevity and rhythm to be quoted. To wit, here is the same idea from two former presidents:
Warren Harding, 1916: "In the great fulfillment we must have a citizenship less concerned about what the government can do for it and more anxious about what it can do for the nation."

John Kennedy, 1961: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

Today we quote John Kennedy for his idealism and criticize Warren Harding for his lack of idealism.

Quote without comment
The late economist Milton Friedman: "If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there would be a shortage of sand."

Robert J. Kulak
West Hartford, Connecticut

Affordable Sustainability

My bother-in-law's Savannah house.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

John Updike RIP

Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu
by John Updike

Fenway Park, in Boston, is a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark. Everything is painted green and seems in curiously sharp focus, like the inside of an old-fashioned peeping-type Easter egg. It was built in 1912 and rebuilt in 1934, and offers, as do most Boston artifacts, a compromise between Man's Euclidean determinations and nature's beguiling irregularities. Its right field is one of the deepest in the American League, while its left field is the shortest; the high left-field wall, three hundred and fifteen feet from home plate along the foul line, virtually thrusts its surface at right-handed hitters. On the afternoon of Wednesday, September 28th, as I took a seat behind third base, a uniformed groundkeeper was treading the top of this wall, picking batting-practice home runs out of the screen, like a mushroom gatherer seen in Wordsworthian perspective on the verge of a cliff. The day was overcast, chill, and uninspirational. The Boston team was the worst in twenty-seven seasons. A jangling medley of incompetent youth and aging competence, the Red Sox were finishing in seventh place only because the Kansas City Athletics had locked them out of the cellar. They were scheduled to play the Baltimore Orioles, a much nimbler blend of May and December, who had been dumped from pennant contention a week before by the insatiable Yankees. I, and 10,453 others, had shown up primarily because this was the Red Sox's last home game of the season, and therefore the last time in all eternity that their regular left fielder, known to the headlines as TED, KID, SPLINTER, THUMPER, TW, and, most cloyingly, MISTER WONDERFUL, would play in Boston. "WHAT WILL WE DO WITHOUT TED? HUB FANS ASK" ran the headline on a newspaper being read by a bulb-nosed cigar smoker a few rows away. Williams' retirement had been announced, doubted (he had been threatening retirement for years), confirmed by Tom Yawkey, the Red Sox owner, and at last widely accepted as the sad but probable truth. He was forty-two and had redeemed his abysmal season of 1959 with a—considering his advanced age—fine one. He had been giving away his gloves and bats and had grudgingly consented to a sentimental ceremony today. This was not necessarily his last game; the Red Sox were scheduled to travel to New York and wind up the season with three games there.
Read the Whole Thing.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Obama's Inauguration Coverage Excessive

You don't say:
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's inauguration generated an unprecedented 35,000 stories in the world's major newspapers, television and radio broadcasts over the past day -- about 35 times more than the last presidential swearing-in -- a monitoring group said on Wednesday.

What they don't say is that the coverage was mostly gushing, fawning and nauseating.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Chirac Mauled By Depressed Poodle

Sometimes something happens that is more than apt, it's poetic in all it's many facets and implications.

Former French President Chirac hospitalised after mauling by his clinically depressed poodle
Former French president Jacques Chirac was rushed to hospital after being
mauled by his own 'clinically depressed' pet dog.
The 76-year-old statesman was savaged by his white Maltese dog - which suffers from frenzied fits and is being treated with anti-depressants.
The animal, named Sumo, had become increasingly violent over the past years and was prone to making 'vicious, unprovoked attacks', Chirac's wife Bernadette said.

Obama Madness vs Insane anti-Bush Madness

Hey Z and El D, I just don't have the time right now, but please post something about the ridiculous Obamification of America and the world, following upon the ridiculous vilification of Bush. I simply don't have the time, CM.

Up here in Canada, I am overwhelmed with the media/public fawning upon B.O., especially in comparison/contrast to Dubya (notwithstanding Dubya's faults).

Monday, January 19, 2009

Ruminations, January 18, 2009

(My friend, Rob Kulak, has been sending out a weekly email column called Ruminations for several years now. He's given me permission to post his articles here.)

The failure in Washington
There are a large number of partisans who make the claim that the administration of President George W. Bush has been a failure. There has undoubtedly been failure in Washington over the past few years but I would not lay that at the feet of President Bush -- Congress has been a failure.

Failures include the 107th, the 108th, the 109th and the 110th Congresses – in fact, their failures seems to have accelerated over time. Their zeal to place all issues in a contentious political light coupled with a short-term desire for popularity has, I feel, rendered them responsible for many of our current and future ills. Here are just a few examples of their low-lights:
  • Failure to address and pass bills. Using the threat of filibuster, routine bills in the Senate could not pass unless the bill received 60 votes – not a 51 vote majority. To maintain power, the Senate (Democrats especially but not exclusively) have made virtually every vote in the Senate one that requires 60 votes to pass. As a result, many issues which could have been discussed and voted upon have been blocked.

  • The failures of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been the single most important factor in causing the financial crash. When President Bush sent a message to Congress in April 2001 (and more than a dozen times after that) saying that, unless their structure was revised, Fannie and Freddie could "cause strong repercussions in financial markets," and upgraded that warning to "systemic risk" in 2005, Congress failed to act. In February of that year, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan added that "enabling these institutions to increase in size – and they will… -- we are placing the total financial system of the future at substantial risk." Representative Barney Frank (D, MA) replied that Fannie and Freddie "are not in a crisis… are financially sound" and later added, "I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation." Senator Chuck Schumer (D, NY) added that Fannie and Freddie had "done a very very good job." Representative Maxine Waters (D, CA) said, "we do not have a crisis at Freddie Mac, and in particular at Fannie Mae." Representative Gregory Meeks (D, NY) added "there's been nothing that was indicated that's wrong with Fannie Mae."

  • Congress has failed to act on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. There is no doubt that payments to recipients of these programs will exceed our ability to pay them. Projections by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities say that the Social Security Trust Fund will begin to deplete as pay-outs exceed revenues in 2017. With no change, the Trust Fund will be empty by 2041. (Note: These projections were based on the economy before the current recession; the loss of jobs will reduce payments into the Social Security fund while the number of recipients will continue to increase.) President Bush initially offered a plan with private accounts, which some felt was not workable – fair enough. The President then asked for alternatives and Congress has refused to act. This is irresponsible.

  • Earmark control has failed. Earmarks are congress directed funds to pet projects that generally enhance election prospects in their home district or reward friends and relatives. According to the Office of Management and Budget, an earmark "curtails the ability of the Executive Branch to properly manage funds." In spite of all the political posturing, in 2008, Congress spent $16,501,833,000 on earmarks.

  • Pay-go has failed. When the 110th Congress took office in January 2007, they announced that they would be fiscally responsible by establishing the principle of pay-go – any new spending programs would have to be coupled with cuts in spending. It didn't last a year.

  • Failure to provide support to American troops by rendering aid and comfort to the enemy. We are engaged in a war on terror on two fronts. A loss on either front is unthinkable. Yet Congress, through seemingly endless hearings, nonbinding resolutions and threats to set artificial deadlines for troop withdrawal, has played into enemy hands – especially when the enemy has predicted American withdrawal under just these circumstances. Perhaps the most telling offense occurred when our enemy heard a leading member of Congress declare that "The war is lost"; that has to provide the enemy with comfort if not moral support.

  • Congress failed to make more domestic oil available by thwarting drilling. While alternative energies have been subsidized and have yet to make a dent in our energy supply, Congress has restricted drilling for more oil because of an apocalyptic fear of environmental damage. As a result, we have paid $475 billion in 2008 alone to foreign countries for oil. The dramatic increase in oil prices hurt those on the lower end of the economy most. The very people for whom Congress mandated substandard mortgages; in turn, the gas prices increased the likelihood that these folks could not pay their mortgages and resulted in exacerbating our present banking crisis.

  • Congress has failed to approve judges in reasonable time frames. The judicial approval process has hit an all-time low. Perhaps because Republicans delayed approval of Clinton judicial nominees by an average of 238 days, Democrats decided they need not exhibit maturity and delayed approval of Bush appointees by an average of 348 days. Justice delayed is justice denied.
Maybe we can say that Bush failed to convince Congress to follow his lead. In that sense, maybe he was a failure. Then again, given the self-imposed obstinacy of Congress, it would have been difficult for anyone to lead them. Given all that Bush did accomplish (tax cuts, removal of dictator Saddam Hussein, establishment of a nascent democracy in Iraq, gaining the support of Pakistan for the war in Afghanistan, getting Libya to surrender its weapons of mass destruction, keeping the U.S. safe from terrorist attacks for almost eight years, putting well-qualified people on the Supreme Court, lifting America out of the 2001 economic downturn, etc.), his record unquestionably is better than is the record of Congress.

The right to be manipulated
The Grey Wolves (Серые волки) is a 1993 Russian film dramatization covering the 1964 plot to expel Nikita Khrushchev from power in the Soviet Union. It incorporates some word-for-word conversations from KGB archives and is co-written by Nikita Khrushchev's son Sergei. Of course, in the fashion of a Hollywood blockbuster, it has some gratuitous nudity, a contrived car chase and a dramatically improbable murder. Nonetheless, it is an interesting and informative film.

One of the key players in the plot against Khrushchev was Alexander Shelepin. Shelepin at the time was a former head of the KGB and still exercised control over the secret police agency and its new head and fellow conspirator Vladimir Semichastny. As such, during the plot against Khrushchev, they were able to monitor all Khrushchev's phone calls and even stop some calls from making a connection. Whenever anyone in the film wanted to convey confidential information, he would automatically suggest a walk outside so as to avoid ubiquitous listening devices. It must have been, upon reflection, enervating to live in a society where outside the legitimate government there was another government with enough control to overthrow the legal power. It's even more troubling that the people were accepting of that overthrow.

The Grey Wolves came to mind as I read an article by George Friedman on the death of Mark Felt, the former FBI agent better known as "deep throat." (The full article by Friedman may be found here.) Felt was the source of incriminating evidence that led to President Richard Nixon's downfall. Friedman says that in order for Felt to have all the information that he fed to Washington Post reporters Bernstein and Woodward:
"he needed to know a great deal of what the White House had done, going back quite far. He could not possibly have known all this simply through his personal investigations. His knowledge covered too many people, too many operations, and too much money in too many places simply to have been the product of one of his side hobbies. The only way Felt could have the knowledge he did was if the FBI had been systematically spying on the White House, on the Committee to Re-elect the President and on all of the other elements involved in Watergate. Felt was not simply feeding information to Woodward and Bernstein; he was using the intelligence product emanating from a section of the FBI to shape The Washington Post's coverage."
So Felt, whatever his motivations, ran an intelligence operation similar to that of Alexander Shelepin; he spied on the legitimate government and caused it to fall. Whereas Shelepin used his information to the advantage of an inner circle cabal that seized power, Felt used his information to mold the opinion of the general public and of the power brokers of Congress. The result was the same.

The point is not being made that either Khrushchev or Nixon was pure as the wind-driven snow, that either was a nonpareil leader or that their respective countries would have been better off had they remained in power. They were what they were.

And Felt and Shelepin were what they were. And we citizens are what we are.

"A lot of people"
On This Week with George Stephanopoulos, last Sunday, President-elect Barack Obama had this to say on closing Guantanamo: "It is more difficult than I think a lot of people realize. Part of the challenge that you have is that you have a bunch of folks that have been detained, many of whom may be very dangerous, who have not been put on trial or have not gone through some adjudication. And some of the evidence against them may be tainted even though it's true."

It seems to be reasonable but I want to examine the first sentence in his statement: "It is more difficult than I think a lot of people realize," and in particular, the phrase "a lot of people."

When politicians use the phrase "a lot of people" or something similar, what they sometimes mean is "me." Other times, the phrase really means "what I want a lot of people" to believe or think. And still at other times, it may mean something else.

So, to whom was Obama referring when he used the phrase "a lot of people?" Could he have been referring to himself? Maybe, but I don't think so. He obviously realizes how difficult it will be to close Guantanamo.

Could he be saying that he wants "a lot of people" to not realize how difficult it will be to close Guantanamo? That doesn't make sense since he believes it will be difficult and doesn't want to simplify the situation or build opposition.

To whom was he referring? In this case, he is politely referring to people have misread the situation and need to have their thinking corrected. Obviously, people who don't realize how difficult it would be don't understand the situation and are perhaps ill-informed; or maybe they don't understand the situation because they are thinking with their hearts and not their heads and have been just deluding themselves. Maybe.

Maybe these "lot[s] of people" belong to a particular political group. They certainly are not conservatives, most of whom don't think it would be easy to close down Guantanamo. In fact, conservatives are quite concerned that Guantanamo may be closed down with little or no thought given to those inmates who Obama calls "very dangerous." So, it's obviously not conservatives who are ill-informed or deluded. Hmmm. That leaves … who does that leave as ill-informed or deluded?

It's always dangerous to put words in someone else's mouth but could "lots of people" in Obama's statement be a polite way of saying: "It is more difficult to close Guantanamo down than I think a lot of self-deluded liberals realize?" Just asking.

Kiner's Cadillac
Ralph Kiner was a home run hitter for the perennially last-place Pittsburgh Pirates back in the 1940s and 1950s. The story goes that after a particularly productive year, Kiner met with the Pirates' president Branch Rickey. Kiner, expecting a big raise to pay for his new Cadillac, was dumbfounded to see that Rickey was proposing a pay cut for the coming year.

"But Mr. Rickey," Kiner said, "I hit .310 last year. I led the league with 54 home runs and 127 RBIs. I was expecting a big raise."

"Ralph," Rickey replied, "where did our team finish last year?"


"Exactly. Heck, Ralph, we could have done that without you."

Last month, GM CEO Rick Waggoner was saying that unless GM received a big bailout, they could file for bankruptcy. So we the people gave him $9.4 billion with a promise of $4 billion more.

Last week, Waggoner said that GM may still file for bankruptcy.

To paraphrase Branch Rickey: Heck, Rick. You could have done that without us.

Quote without comment
Henry Kissinger writing in The White House Years: "The pledges of each new Administration are leaves on a turbulent sea. No President-elect or his advisors can possibly know upon what shore they may finally be washed by that storm of deadlines, ambiguous information, complex choices, and manifold pressures which descends upon all leaders of a great nation."

Robert J. Kulak
West Hartford, Connecticut

Sunday, January 18, 2009

MLK's dream also included economic justice

NEW YORK – The focus of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 wasn't what had been accomplished — but rather his view of what still needed to be done.
More than four decades later, King scholars say he would take the same approach at this historic moment — the inauguration of the first black president at a time when the nation is facing its greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression.
The crisis could widen the already large financial gaps between whites and blacks and make it more difficult to attain King's dream of economic equality in America.
"I believe that Dr. King would caution us not to rest on the election of a black president and say our work here is done," said Kendra King, associate professor of politics at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta.
Although King is best known for his civil rights work, he was a staunch advocate for economic justice. In the months before he was killed, he had been working on the Poor People's Campaign and calling for an economic bill of rights. When he was assassinated in 1968, he was in Memphis supporting a sanitation workers' strike.
"Economic empowerment and justice was always a part of Dr. King's purpose," professor King said. "Civil rights without economic parity is still imprisonment."

Be afraid, be very afraid when our gomeril friends on the left start talking about "economic justice". How does one legislate "economic justice" without a confiscatory taxation policy? Don't bother answering, it was a rhetorical question. I guess those who profess an admiration for Castro's Cuba are sincere in their appreciation and desire fervently to turn the once august U.S. economy into a moribund Ponzi scheme.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

"Jean de Florette" director Claude Berri dies

French filmmaker Claude Berri has died, may he rest in peace. If you haven't seen Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring, do yourself a favor and rent both, sit down and watch them. Each is a great film, together they are perhaps the best cinema I have ever seen.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pravda: Earth on the Brink of an Ice Age

Pravda says that Earth faces an ice age that will last 100,000 years. My question is: If my home here in Central Connecticut gets bowled over by a glacier, would it be vindictive of me to find Al Gore in whatever nursing home he's in and kick him in the yarbles? Just wondering.

Victor Davis Hanson Ironies of 2008

Spot on as always, I particularly liked this bit:

I confess this war on terror business is coming down to fear or no fear. A film maker, a novelist, or a comedian dreams publicly of killing George Bush—and he wins a big book contract or an arts award. A cartoonist does a sketch of a Mohammed and he faces death threats. Liberal contrarians honor the former and
abandon the latter.
We are told terrorism bad, democracy good. Really? Every terrorist Hamas rocket is aimed at a Democratic civilian; every Democratic IDF air -to -ground missile is aimed at a terrorist.
The common denominator in all this? George Bush or an IDF colonel is not going to show up at your editorial office in New York or Madrid or Paris with a suicide vest on. Write a novel about Bush deserving to die, as did Nicholson Baker, and you win a Knopf contract; write one about the Prophet as did Salman Rushdie and you go into hiding for a decade.

Read the whole thing.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Islamic Terrorist Are Amazing

I struggled with how to address this story:
Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson 'targeted by Islamic Extremists'
Reports have emerged today (January 7) claiming that Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson have been included on a "terror target" hit list made in reaction to the current conflict in the Gaza region.
On one hand, I never thought I'd care one way or another if Amy Winehouse got eaten by fire ants or slightly more likely, died of an overdose. On the other, the Islamic terrorists are targeting her for all the wrong reasons. Leave it the fuck up brigade to get me squarely into Winehouse's corner, a place I never thought possible to visit.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Richard John Neuhaus, 1936-2009

Richard John Neuhaus has passed away. There are so many very decent encomia bouncing around on the web, so I won't try to wax too philosophical here. I would like you to read a snippet of what makes Fr. Neuhaus so special:
We are born to die. Not that death is the purpose of our being born, but we are born toward death, and in each of our lives the work of dying is already underway. The work of dying well is, in largest part, the work of living well. Most of us are at ease in discussing what makes for a good life, but we typically become tongue-tied and nervous when the discussion turns to a good death. As children of a culture radically, even religiously, devoted to youth and health, many find it incomprehensible, indeed offensive, that the word "good" should in any way be associated with death. Death, it is thought, is an unmitigated evil, the very antithesis of all that is good.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Richard John Neuhaus Gravely Ill

Father Richard John Neuhaus editor-in-chief of First Things has been diagnosed with cancer and is gravely ill.
A great intellect and a holy man, I wish hm a speedy recovery.

Separated at Birth: Count Von Count and Leon Panetta

Count Von Count and former White House Chief of Staff to Bill Clinton, Leon Panetta.
UPDATE: I'll probably end up in Gitmo for this comparison originally posted in February of 2007 if Panetta becomes CIA Director.

So You Think You Had A Bad Day?

At least you weren't this man. Nothing injured but his pride, but that was nearly killed.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Barometer on why N. America is facing serious demographic problems

I was born in 1964. God bless my parents.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (hint, hint) was assasinated in 1963, just over 45 years ago; it was probably the most publicized and analyzed murder of the 20th Century, excepting possibly the Holocaust murders.

During the past 10-15 years, whenever I use phone "tech support", or call various businesses for info or service, or even go to checkouts at the department and grocery stores and pharmacies, or speak to utility company reps -- all of which require more or less frequent discussions about personal info (eg name, address, etc) -- I have to spell out my last name, or my wife's hyphenated last name (repeatedly) in order to complete the customer service "interview".

Most everyone I encounter nowadays cannot spell our family names without repetition. Imagine that!

Now that's a demographic shift. Can you imagine meeting a cashier in Sears, or say a Gas Company phone rep, in 1980, who couldn't spell the most recently assassinated US President's name?

Now if I had Zaphod's real name, I wouldn't be surprised!

Just an observation about demographics, no prejudice intended.

Iggy Pop on The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Iggy Pop on The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, proving once again that fact is the sexier, less inhibited, more voluptuous sister of fiction.
In related news, Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton has passed away, may he rest in peace.

Roman Polanski

What sort of bizzaro world do we live in?
Roman Polanski Wants Court Off His Case
Polanski, who last month moved to have a decades-old charge of unlawful intercourse with a minor dismissed, filed a motion Monday to have the entire case removed from the Los Angeles Superior Court system and handed to the California Judicial Council for review.
Citing judicial bias and misconduct that was alleged in the recent documentary Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired,
the 75-year-old filmmaker's legal camp states that the "entire case should be referred to the Judicial Council for further proceedings and a determination free from even the appearance of bias and taint."

Please allow me to retort:
Since your complaints are entirely procedural, apparently you don't deny drugging, screwing and buggering a 13 year old girl. That's frowned upon in most civilized countries or were you sick the day they went over that in school? For those of you unfamiliar with what the illustrious Polanski is accused of, read the grand jury minutes here. Warning it's pretty disturbing.
In Hollywood Roman Polanski is the victim.
In Hollywood Roman Polanski is the victim, remember that when some Hollywood grandee tries to "raise your awareness" about anything.

War in Gaza

I can't see how anyone can side with Hamas in this conflict unless they are made blind by Anti Zionist rage.
Some unsolicited advice for the Arabs living in Palestine. The Jewish state is a reality, get over it. You may not like it, but any attempt to get rid of it will hurt you more than it's destruction will help. Your squalor has everything to do with you, your beliefs and actions and your leaders' beliefs and actions but precious little to do with Israel's success - the pie isn't limited you can make your own pie. Get to it.
Acting all tough by blindly launching effete missiles at your much stronger neighbor then whining like a bitch when they kick your ass is not very becoming, in fact it's despicable. What did you expect them to do? Let you (try to) kill them?
Unless everything we are told here in the West is wrong, it seems that Israel makes every effort to avoid civilian casualties while Hamas threatens to kill "Jewish children around the world". What are you people thinking?
Another thing. Like most Americans I am far too comfortable enjoying the sweet life here in the greatest country the world has ever known to develop much of an interest in your goat humpings, wife beatings, gay stonings and general squalor. But I seem to remember Palestinians dancing in the street on 9/11, accordingly you can kiss my dimpled American ass. I don't care if Israel, or anyone else for that matter, kills your best looking goat and singes the mustache off you least nettlesome wife. Hosea was right, you have sown the wind, now reap the whirlwind and quit bitching about it.
Renounce violence. Swallow your pride, reject militant Islam and accept your Jewish neighbors right to exist and the progress you seek has a real chance of happening. Absent that, get used to being the dingleberries festooning the asshole of the world.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Steroids In Professional Wrestling

Congressman Henry Waxman, D. CA, has an issue with the abuse of steroids in professional wrestling. Who can blame him?
I think "professional wrestling" as a whole is a bad idea. 330 pound gargantuans pounding the hell out of each other with no real repercussions is not a healthy thing for kids to watch. It's funny that wrestling is on right after MMA on Spike TV. In MMA 165 pound guys elbow each other and break each other's noses. In wrestling 6'6" 330 pound guys punch each other square in the face - repeatedly- and no one gets sent to the emergency room.
It reminds me of an EMT who responded to a fight at stag party. One inebriated guest had whacked another over the back with an oak chair. But unlike what you see in every saloon clearing fight in every John Wayne movie ever made, the chair didn't break, the man's back, neck and ribs did.