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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Paying the Freight

I love Andrew Sullivan, but...

He can be a slippery bastard from time to time. He calls circumcision "male genital mutilation," as if a euphemism can erase millenia of religious and cultural tradition.

And then there's this post, in which he writes:
Liberalism believes in punishing hard-working successful people in this manner [ie, high taxes] - and the more you succeed, the more they will punish you. But if I had to pick between [Obama] and the party of Sarah Palin and Joe The Plumber, it's really no contest.
While I'm glad that he would prefer Obama to the clowns the GOP has been foisting on us, this idea that taxes "punish" the "successful" really gets to me.

Let me be like Obama and say this as clearly as I can:

Taxes are not punishment.

Next week I have to go to court for a traffic violation. I may have to do some time in jail (hope not) but most certainly there will be a fine. That's punishment.

I've returned library books late and had to pay a fine. That's punishment.

Paying your taxes? That's a social obligation. And if you don't do it...guess what? You'll get punished!

As to "liberalism believes in punishing hard-working successful people" through taxes, that's not just some slippery euphemizing. It's pure bullshit.

"Hard-working successful people," which in this case is the euphemism for "rich people," pay more because they make more, and well...life isn't fair. Besides, who said luxury was cheap?

You wanna ride in first class, you gotta pay first class rates.

As it is, Andrew sounds like a guy who wants the extra legroom, gourmet meals, and private bathroom of first class...but at coach rates. Sorry, bud, but that's not how it works.

You can't ask for all the benefits of wealth without taking on its responsibilities too.

Another McCain Cheapshot

When I read this:
As I have said many times, Americans love the idea of small government. They just don’t seem to actually care about shrinking the government outside of rhetoric. Americans love their entitlements. They like having an FDA and a host of other regluatory bodies. They dont want to reduce the military budget significantly. They want, and have come to expect, an awful lot of things from government. The fact that they say they want small government means no more than the fact that they say they want a balanced budget. It’s theater, and it’s rhetoric. It’s not founded on anything politically actionable. I’m sorry, but people who say that they want small government yet refuse entitlement reform and a shrinking military budget are not to be taken seriously. They are not dedicated to the idea to the degree that they are actually willing to sacrifice to make it a reality.
I thought about John McCain cashing his social security checks while bitching about government waste.

John...you are rich, so you're not "in need." Hell, you're not even retired. You have a full time job that pays very well. And yet, you complain incessantly about "earmarks" and "pork" while you're cashing your social security checks?

But hey, maybe, McCain truly is dedicated to entitlement reform...just for other people.

Adult Beverages

For the adult in charge.

Sad thing is, even if Obama had a dozen beers, he would still be more sober than the previous guy, a self-described alcoholic who quit drinking twenty years ago.

Why Bother?

You know, I don't know why I even bother snark about the wingnuts and their anachronistic economic ideas. Just how "fringe" they are is self-evident.

A photo found on Michelle Malkin's (unlinked) blog:

A photo from a pre-election day Obama rally:

There is literally no comparison. One photo represents a fairly large cross-section of an American city. (In this case, St. Louis.)

The other represents a very small, but very vocal ideological minority.

It's simply no contest.

Ain't No Party Like My Nana's Tea Party

So how's those "Tea Party protests" going? To paraphrase T.S. Eliot...not with a bang, but with a whimper.

San Diego, Friday the 27th of Feburary, 2009:
About 350 protesters showed up at the Embarcadero, just north of the Star of India, at about 9 a.m. for the protest. The event was was organized by Dawn Wildman of the Neighborhood Republican Club, whose members are upset about the new taxes that were written into law last week as part of a budget deal carved out in Sacramento as well as the giant stimulus package coming out of Washington.

Jacksonville, FL, Also Friday the 27th:
At noon at the Jacksonville Landing, Jim Fallon was among the first of what organizers said were 79 people who showed up to protest.

Buffalo, NY, also Friday:

No protester count, but here's a picture of the...ahem...crowd.

Dallas, TX, again Friday:
Here are some of an estimated 250 who gathered at Victory Plaza to dunk the “stimulus bill” in a tank of tea, page by page. Said an organizer: “We’re just people who don’t want our kids and grandchildren shackled with thousands of dollars of debt each.”


(All links provided by Instapundit, who wishes he could get more people to show up. Perhaps he should call Code Pink or Moveon.org for tips.)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Random Friday Ten - Flat Tire Blues Edition

I had another valve stem go bad on one of the tires of my truck. At four o'clock this morning, I was in the parking lot putting on my spare. Not fun.

1) Jimmy Rogers - Money, Marbles, and Chalk
2) Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers - Sincerely Diana
3) Gary Jules - Mad World
4) Jimi Hendrix - Electric Church Red House
5) Louis Armstrong - La Vie En Rose
6) The Police - Dead End Job
7) Life of Agony - My Eyes
8) Kyuss - 50 Million Year Trip (Downside Up)
9) Johnny Lytle - St. Louis Blues
10) Weezer - Hash Pipe

And now I'm going to bed.

Sign of the Times

The house three doors down from me.

Gutter Update

There's still more to do, but progress has been made.

Before:

After:


Before:

After:

Blobbing

This looks like fun.

Rocky Mountain Lose

I guess it's a good thing I didn't get that journalism degree. The Rocky Mountain News, the paper I delivered as a boy, is no more.

It's a sad day for the city I love.

No More Bags, Lady

Note to grocery stores around the country:

Don't put my fucking milk in a goddamn plastic bag.

That really bugs me when stores do that. The milk jug...see, it has a handle on it already. The handle on the jug isn't going to rip or tear. It doesn't need to be double bagged. You're not going to put anything else in that bag, so why even bag it in the first place?

Same goes for the bag of potatoes.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I'm Probably Going to Jail

So says the law:
(1)(a) Any person who drives a motor vehicle or off-highway vehicle upon any highway of this state with knowledge that such person's license or privilege to drive, either as a resident or a nonresident, is under restraint for any reason other than conviction of an alcohol-related driving offense pursuant to section 42-4-1301(1) or (2) is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than five days nor more than six months, and, in the discretion of the court, a fine of not less than fifty dollars nor more than five hundred dollars may be imposed. The minimum sentence imposed by this paragraph (a) shall be mandatory, and the court shall not grant probation or a suspended sentence, in whole or in part, or reduce or suspend the fine under this paragraph (a); but, in a case where the defendant is convicted although the defendant established that he or she had to drive the motor vehicle in violation of this paragraph (a) because of an emergency, the mandatory jail sentence or the fine, if any, shall not apply, and the court may impose a sentence of imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not more than six months and a fine of not more than five hundred dollars. Such minimum sentence need not be five consecutive days but may be served during any thirty-day period.

General Floaters

When the Big 3 automakers first came rushing to Congress for money a few months ago, a friend of mine bought some GM stock and watched it like a hawk, hoping to make a quick profit on the bailout.

My advice was: Sell it! Sell it now! Don't buy anymore. Don't even think about buying more.

If you're going to buy stock, buy stock in a company with a healthy balance sheet. And GM obviously doesn't apply:
DETROIT - General Motors Corp. posted a $9.6 billion fourth-quarter loss and said it burned through $6.2 billion of cash in the last three months of 2008 as it fought the worst U.S. auto sales climate since 1982 and sought government loans to keep the century-old company running.

Preaching to the Choir

As a fan of Bill Maher and a somewhat militant atheist, you would think that I'm the perfect demographic for Bill Maher's movie Religulous, but after finally subjecting myself to a viewing, I came away less than impressed. While it is entertaining (at times) it's not very informative or persuasive.

The whole thing came off as a kind of cheap shot, and that's coming from a guy who thinks religion is indeed religulous!

Too many ambush interviews. Too many obvious points. Two thumbs down. Don't watch it unless you really really like Bill Maher.

Give Me Market Failure or Give Me Death

Glenn Reynolds uses his high profile to help coordinate "Tea Party Protests" across the country.

The Chicago Tea Party proclaims:
Enough is enough. It's time to protest out of control government. Please dress in black (goal is to get the message across that the free-market system America was built on is dying), bring protest signs and cameras.
So if you recently lost your job, stop by, bring your sign, meet the folks. It'll be a good time.

Of course, if you're working...

Weird that Michelle Malkin is in full protest mode. Wasn't her shtick going to antiwar protesters and making fun of their signs? And now she's a full-time anti-stimulus protester? Weird...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Poodle 1 - Chihuahua 0

Michael Vick came in his pants when he read this.

I Have Seen the Future

And Bobby Jindal isn't a significant part of it.

His rebuttal speech was widely panned, mostly for superficial reasons. Yeah, he sounds like Jack McBrayer and he was awful at reading his remarks, but substance-wise, he didn't do much better.

Example:
Instead of trusting us to make wise decisions with our own money, they passed the largest government spending bill in history, with a price tag of more than $1 trillion with interest. While some of the projects in the bill make sense, their legislation is larded with wasteful spending. It includes $300 million to buy new cars for the government, $8 billion for high-speed rail projects, such as a "magnetic levitation" line from Las Vegas to Disneyland, and $140 million for something called "volcano monitoring." Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, D.C.
This paragraph encapsulates some of the problems I have with current Republican thinking, starting with this: "Instead of trusting us to make wise decisions with our own money..."

As I have said before, I would agree that this is true...except there are a lot of people out there who seem intent on proving it's a lie. There are simply too many bankruptcies, too many foreclosures, too many maxed out credit cards for anyone to make silly generalizations that "people should be trusted to make wise decisions with their own money."

Yes, they should...but many don't!

But the rest of it is just a head-scratcher. Take this: "$8 billion for high-speed rail projects, such as a "magnetic levitation" line from Las Vegas to Disneyland.."

Sorry, Bobby, but the $8 billion is for the entire high-speed rail project. And not only that, but Vegas to Disneyland?

There are 11 HSR (high-speed rail) corridors currently being studied. Vegas to Disneyland is NOT one of them. Look at this map.
Look at the fine print: "Currently the rail line from Anaheim, Calif. to Las Vegas is not part of the 11 officially designated high-speed corridors, but is expected to be in the near future."

So why, Bobby, did you gloss over the 11 corridors that are actually in the plan to focus on the one that currently isn't? Which leads me to another question: Is Jindal ignorant or just dishonest?

Seriously. The Vegas-Anaheim corridor is one of the smallest routes proposed! It's probably also the cheapest (taking the smallest bite out of that $8 billion).

Now consider that it's also still just a hypothetical, and ask yourself why Jindal is holding up the cheapest, most hypothetical route as an example of wasteful spending. Is it because it goes to Vegas (Sin City) from California (The Left Coast)?

Spare me the culture war bullshit. Vegas is one of our biggest tourist destinations, and California is our most populous state. I mean, you don't hear Jindal bitching about the New Orleans to Raleigh route, do you? Nope, me either. It's longer, will be more expensive, and will probably serve less people. But hey, just keep saying the one in Vegas is the real waste of money.

And "volcano monitoring?" I don't know if it takes $140 million to monitor volcanoes, or if monitoring volcanoes will provide some stimulative effect on the economy, but Jindal doesn't even go there. Instead he quips, "Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, D.C."

Tell me, Bobby. What private entity is going to monitor our volcanoes for us? Oh yeah, there ain't one. That's something the government does. And where are they going to get their funding if not from Congress?

What you should have done, Bobby, is respect the intelligence of your audience and explain why putting funds for volcano monitoring into a stimulus bill is not a good idea. But you couldn't resist falling into the "small government" trap, could you?

What a joke.

Joe Scarborough said he got an e-mail from a Republican friend of his during Jindal's speech that read, "Mayday, mayday, we're going down."

Joe's buddy seems to have a firmer grasp on reality than the GOP's Next Big Thing, Bobby Jindal.

Updated: I was talking to a guy at work about this high speed rail issue and he was making some pretty decent arguments about how the whole thing is a boondoggle, basically throwing good money after bad in a hand out to Amtrak and a "bailout" of California's Department of Transportation.

I still think high speed rail is a good idea, but it's not one of those "bear any cost" type projects that must get done, even in the face of diminishing returns. (See: Iraq) The worst case scenario from my point of view is spending $8 billion on HSR and not getting it. (Which is why I want to know if it's a boondoggle.)

But it seems like the Republicans are playing at a different angle. Maybe they're worried that we'll get a nice state of the art HSR system, the envy of the world, and those fucking Democrats will get the credit.

Or maybe they genuinely think the whole idea is a waste, like my co-worker argues, but if so, why are they just talking about this Disneyland-Vegas crap?

I mean, how can you really assess whether it's a waste of money if you're working with distorted information?

Yeah, spending $8 billion on a fancy train from Disneyland to Vegas sounds like a waste of money, but when you consider that $8 billion's also going to put fancy trains on routes from Boston to New York, New York to DC, DC to Houston, Tulsa to San Antonio, St. Paul to Columbus, Detroit to Kansas City --hell, just look at the map-- the debate takes on a different character.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Stuff

So perhaps I traipsed a little too lightly into the whole rain gutter project, not for reasons of cost or necessity, but because it truly is a lot of work. I spent all day yesterday from sun-up to sun-down painting, scraping, nailing, holding gutters over my head, climbing up and down ladders, squeezing, sawing, among other things.

Today, I could barely move.

We managed to complete most of it, but there is more to do. So far I'm satisfied, although I'm a bit worried about the amateur fuck-up factor. There's no way to tell if these gutters will last 60 years, but I figure even a modest improvement is better than what I had.

A few other things:

Shaq twitters. And he's pretty cool about it.

Is it possible...that in this lifetime that has already seen the first black president could also see the legalization (or, at the very least, significant decriminalization) of marijuana? I hope so.

Just the other day I was reading an article about medical marijuana and, though I'm a 100% supporter, even I realized it was a sham. It's like "civil unions" in place of gay marriage, a stepping stone half-measure that's not an end unto itself but a means to an end. This guy was talking about his back pain and trouble sleeping and I thought, you know, with those symptoms I should get myself a card. Because who doesn't have back pain and trouble sleeping?

Soon they'll be giving it out for gray hair and wrinkles! And that's just fine with me.

Though I would prefer that we just legalized it so we didn't have to wink and nod at the sham.

Changing gears, that Rick Santelli guy is pretty funny. Now he's going around saying the White House threatened him when Robert Gibbs invited him over to read the president's housing plan over coffee (decaf). Seriously?

Seriously.

And finally...

My Oscar picks were WAY off. I underestimated both Slumdog and Milk and I mistook Benajamin Button's many nominations as some kind of advantage, when really it seems like it was more of a "the nomination is the prize" tip of the hat.

But I nailed Kate Winslett's win. (Which is almost as cool as saying I nailed Kate Winslett.)

I missed the ceremony, alas, but I did watch Dustin Lance Black's acceptance speech for Milk on Youtube.
I don't think he's asking for too much there.