January 31, 2009
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- One day after President Obama ripped Wall Street executives for their "shameful" decision to hand out $18 billion in bonuses in 2008, Congress may finally have had enough.Before I start my own tirade let's consider some relevant remarks from someone who seems to have shared my opinion of Congress.
An angry U.S. senator introduced legislation Friday to cap compensation for employees of any company that accepts federal bailout money.
Under the terms of a bill introduced by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, no employee would be allowed to make more than the president of the United States.
Obama's current annual salary is $400,000."We have a bunch of idiots on Wall Street that are kicking sand in the face of the American taxpayer," an enraged McCaskill said on the floor of the Senate. "They don't get it. These people are idiots. You can't use taxpayer money to pay out $18 billion in bonuses."
Fleas can be taught nearly anything that a Congressman can.With regard to those companies who have received Federal bailout money, I actually agree with the outrage expressed here. But leave it to Congress to write a $700 BILLION check and not apply any stipulations on how it would be used.
- What Is Man?
Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
- Mark Twain, a Biography
Congressman is the trivialist distinction for a full grown man.
- Notebook #14, 11/1877 - 7/1878
All Congresses and Parliaments have a kindly feeling for idiots, and a compassion for them, on account of personal experience and heredity.
- Mark Twain's Autobiography; also in Mark Twain in Eruption
It's like the time my sister complained to me about not having enough money to pay her rent and bills and so I gave her $100, which was a lot for my budget at the time, and I later found out that she was saving for an all-inclusive vacation in the Bahamas for two. It was dishonest of her, but I gave her the money without reservation for her to use in the way that she saw best and so I let it go. But the next time she tried that ploy, I turned a deaf ear to her.
But the larger portion of my outrage is reserved for those idiots in Congress who approved this bailout. Mrs. McCaskill's charge that the people on Wall St. are idiots is outrageously ironic given her and her colleague's tyrannical disregard for American's rights and irresponsible exercise of government power.
If she's right and these people are idiots, then that is all the more reason they deserve to fail. I never thought I'd need to ask how big an idiot one has to be in order to be considered too big an idiot to fail, but Congress went ahead and answered that question for us, quite without our consent or permission.
I don't believe the people on Wall St. are idiots. They might make bad business decisions from time to time, but that's exactly why they should be allowed to suffer the consequences of those decisions.
So, if the people on Wall St. are idiots, what does that make those members of Congress who voted to pay them for their idiocy?
January 26, 2009
CNN.com: Icelandic government falls amid financial crisis, protests
(CNN) -- Iceland's ruling coalition resigned Monday, three months after the collapse of the country's currency, stock market and several major banks, and following months of public protests, Kristjan Kristjansson, a spokesman for the prime minister told CNN.I bring this up because let's note a couple of key similarities between Iceland's situation and ours.
The government also fell after the resignation of the government's commerce minister in response to the country's financial mess.
The minister, Bjorgvin Sigurdsson, resigned Sunday, saying the government had failed to restore confidence in the three months after the collapse of the financial system.
Senior government officials from the two parties that make up Iceland's coalition government -- the prime minister's Independence Party and the Social Democrats party -- had met Sunday to discuss the government's future but nothing was resolved, a spokesman for the prime minister said.
- They nationalized their banks in order to prevent an economic collapse, something that is being discussed with increased frequency here.
- The people there are protesting how the government has been handling their financial crisis. It's not clear to me if they're protesting that the government was involved at all, but good money says they aren't.
- The financial crisis was created from government involvement in investment banks and drove them to accept debt that was 10 times in excess of the economy.
January 23, 2009
Former French President Chirac hospitalised after mauling by his clinically depressed poodle
January 21, 2009
But if you doubt how adorable this show is, let me give you an example from this morning. Instead of focusing on specific policies or challenges that President Obama will have to face, they were FAR more preoccupied with the fact that he was up very late last night at the parties and he had to come to work today.
I think cynical people would be upset about how vapid this sort of coverage is, and I have to admit that it leaves me unsatisfied with my knowledge of current events, but it gives me the giggles by how cute it is. It's just so childlike.
The man has been president now for barely a day and I've already heard speculation that Obama's determination to stabilize the credit markets and the economy will lead to defacto nationalization of the banking industry.
If you were to tell me, "OBAMA'S GONNA GO HUGO CHAVEZ DOWN AT THE WACHOVIA!" I'd laugh in your face and wonder how you learned to talk like me.
But there's a certain appeal to this theory, though.
I don't think Obama will just outright nationalize our banks. I prefer to believe that Americans would totally freak out about that. Although I have read a couple of articles where people, investors actually support the idea!
But a defacto nationalization has an appeal to the sort of indirect, shifty, sneaky politicians of today who prefer to pork barrel legislation and split hairs and sneak things over on an inattentive American public. The way they would accomplish it would be like how Danny DeVito bought that company in Other People's Money or the way Bruce Wayne bought Wayne Enterprises back from a crafty CEO -- although I hate to compare Batman to our politicians. They're not good enough!
See, our banks are already getting bailed out. And I am told it's not just a give away, but that the government will lay claim to a portion of stock. Stock is ownership! So, we're already on our way.
In one of the schemes Kevin sent me today, the Obama Administration (and in fairness, we should remember that this was started under a Republican president) would acquire preferred stock for their bailout. This means the government would get paid before everyone else. And through an interplay of costs and payouts, the government would slowly get more and more stock in the bank until it is nationalized.
Also, remember that the government nationalized many banks to recover from the S&L crisis back when I was a kid.
So, this seems very plausible to me. Plausible and ominous.
On the upside of things, Obama is promising to undo that dreadful national Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) and allow gay people to serve openly in the military. Of course, religious people are buggin' about that, but they really should just go to hell. Now.
I suspect that a lot of the Administration is going to be like this. Horrible things will happen and sometimes good things will happen. Mostly horrible things, of course, but can you imagine what might have happened if McCain were president?
Well, probably the same sort of thing, but around different topics. And if you squint, you can already tell that Obama isn't wildly different from McCain. Oh, and did you know Obama is consulting with McCain on how he should approach things? Yep.
January 12, 2009
Well, duh. I think everyone knows that the Israeli military is far superior to the terrorist guerrilla fighters of Hamas.
I just don't see how Hamas losing this fight is a reason to think they're on the moral high ground. If might doesn't make right, then neither does weakness.
January 08, 2009
But while they do often send me into fits of outrage and indignation, they do also often make me laugh. Via Joe.My.God.
Montana's News Station: PETA seeks Whitefish school name change
P.E.T.A. (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal) sent a letter to Whitefish High School Principal Kent Paulson, urging him to change the name of the high school from "Whitefish High" to "Sea Kitten High".You read that correctly. "Sea Kittens."
P.E.T.A. launched their Sea Kitten Campaign in October, in hopes that everyone will start referring to fish and other marine animals as sea kittens.
The letter states, "we're proposing that Whitefish High School adopt a new name to reflect the gentle nature of it's current marine namesake. If the town starts calling fish, "sea kittens", fewer of these gentle animals would be violently killed for food, painfully hooked for "sport," or cruelly confined to aquariums".
It's wrong on so many levels, but it's too stupid to even begin trying to list those levels.
I love that Joe proposes referring to birds as "sky puppies."
January 07, 2009
Blue Owl sent me this today:
CNN: Porn Industry Seeks Federal Bailout
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Another major American industry is asking for assistance as the global financial crisis continues: Hustler publisher Larry Flynt and Girls Gone Wild CEO Joe Francis said Wednesday they will request that Congress allocate $5 billion for a bailout of the adult entertainment industry.Ok. NOOOOWWWW I'm concerned about the economy. What a state things must be in for people to have cut back on masturbation!
“The take here is that everyone and their mother want to be bailed out from the banks to the big three,” said Owen Moogan, spokesman for Larry Flynt. “The porn industry has been hurt by the downturn like everyone else and they are going to ask for the $5 billion. Is it the most serious thing in the world? Is it going to make the lives of Americans better if it happens? It is not for them to determine.”
$5 billion seems a mite excessive to me, but I don't know how much all that patent leather and pointy shoes costs, so 'scuze my ignorance here.
No, seriously, I'm just kidding around. I'm against bailing out porn stars and investment bankers just the same. But your heart really goes out to the porn stars, no? They must get so cold sometimes...
Like many other protests of Israel's campaign in Gaza, this one ended badly -- police had to cool an ugly fight between supporters of Israel and Gaza, breaking up the warring sides as their screaming and chanting threatened to turn into something worse.Thankfully, ANSWER who organized the event acknowledged that perhaps these remarks were insensitive.
But some protesters at this rally in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., took their rhetoric a step further, calling for the extermination of Israel -- and of Jews.
But as the protest continued and crowds grew, one woman in a hijab began to shout curses and slurs that shocked Jewish activists in the city, which has a sizable Jewish population.
"Go back to the oven," she shouted, calling for the counter-protesters to die in the manner that the Nazis used to exterminate Jews during the Holocaust.
"You need a big oven, that's what you need," she yelled.
Now, in fairness, I have been known to call for the complete and utter destruction of the enemies of freedom. I may have suggested the use of bombs and guns, but I don't think I've gotten more specific than that in terms of the methods employed and I certainly have not given much thought to the ethnic origins of those enemies.
Also, for the record, Israel's invasion of Gaza is not anything like a holocaust even if Jews are involved in it in some way. I'm calling Godwin's Law on that.
January 06, 2009
Venezuela has ordered the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador to Caracas in protest at Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip.I just have to laugh about this. This is like a priest refusing to grant me confession.
A number of diplomatic staff have been expelled along with Shlomo Cohen.
President Hugo Chavez has strongly condemned Israel for its actions and called on Israelis to stand up against their government.
Venezuela is the first country to take such a diplomatic step in protest at the violence in Gaza.
"The Israeli army is cowardly attacking worn-out, innocent people, while they claim that they are defending their people," Mr Chavez said during a visit to a children's hospital in Caracas.
And yet, because Hamas is a group of terrorist barbarians, it's entirely appropriate that a tyrant like Hugo Chavez would support them over Israel.
There are few concepts more elastic and subject to exploitation than "Terrorism," the all-purpose justifying and fear-mongering term. But if it means anything, it means exactly the mindset which Goldfarb is expressing: slaughtering innocent civilians in order to "send a message," to "deter" political actors by making them fear that continuing on the same course will result in the deaths of civilians and -- best of all, from the Terrorist's perspective -- even their own children and other family members.Oh, but he's not done:
To the Terrorist, by definition, that innocent civilians and even children are killed isn't a regrettable cost of taking military action. It's not a cost at all. It's a benefit. It has strategic value. Goldfarb explicitly says this: "to wipe out a man's entire family, it's hard to imagine that doesn't give his colleagues at least a moment's pause."
Those who defend American actions in every case, or who find justification in attacks on Israeli civilians, or who find simplistic moral clarity in a whole range of other complex and protracted disputes where all sides share infinite blame, are often guilty of the same refusal/inability to at least try to minimize this sort of ingrained tribalistic blindness.There's an excluded third option here to which Mr. Greenwald is blind because he is apparently subscribing to the whole Just War Theory, which has been shown to be a self-destructive approach to waging war. Yaron Brook seems to have seen a draft of Mr. Greenwald's article while writing his:
To conjure up the emotions we felt on 9/11, many intellectuals claim, is dangerous, because it promotes the “simplistic” desire for revenge and casts aside the “complexity” of the factors that led to the 9/11 attacks. But, in fact, the desire for overwhelming retaliation most Americans felt after 9/11—and feel rarely, if ever, now—was the result of an objective conviction: that a truly monstrous evil had been perpetrated, and that if the enemies responsible for the 9/11 attacks were not dealt with decisively, we would suffer the same fate (or worse) again.I think everyone will agree that war is a terrible thing. Words fail to express the horror and devastation wrought by wars both properly and improperly waged. But I am left thinking that Mr. Goldwald does not have a clear view of the battlefield from his ivory tower. I would have him know that things are far, far worse than he thinks. That's why I'm surprised when people treat it so casually -- both in the starting (hawks) and the stopping (doves, such as Mr. Greenwald) of violence.
I am not familiar with Mr. GoldFarb's overall views, but Mr. Greenwald sneers at him for allowing for and even encouraging the destruction of civilians, calling him a psychopath and a sociopath. This is what makes me think Mr. Greenwald underestimates the terrible cost of war. I think he must be imagining a war in which soldiers shower one another in flower petals and communities are handed packs of fat-bellied puppies to contend with.
The hideous reality is that the purpose of waging a war is to destroy your enemies. Wavering from that objective will only lead to further loss of life and property for your own people.
Mr. Greenwald condemns the "us-versus-them" mentality as "tribalistic." That is such an abuse of the term "tribalistic," that it fails to be meaningful to any person listening to his argument. The fact of the matter is that Palestine and Israel really are two different countries. To pretend as if they aren't is stupidity beneath any possible address, but Mr. Greenwald doesn't stop there. He takes this further to say that those who choose a side -- either side -- in the dispute are guilty of thinking that the other party isn't even human.
The fact that one state is declaring war on another state at all is acknowledgment of the fact that the other state is composed of human beings -- or, in the event of some future interplanetary dispute, at least creatures with rational faculties to be granted all the rights and considerations of other humans. If they really were not regarded as humans, but naughty animals who've somehow mastered the use of surface-to-surface propelled explosives as well as other ballistics and munitions -- wait, there is no such animal possible because such mastery requires that rational faculty. Suffice it to say that war is only waged between humans. Humans do not wage wars against animals and other non-rational entities. The very thought of sending tanks in after a herd of deer is preposterous.
But mere possession of a rational faculty does not mean one is being rational. The Islamo-Fascists of Hamas are not rational. They could be, but they aren't. This doesn't make them less human, it just makes them evil. And it is their conduct -- not my moral evaluation of their character, because indeed they could be evil, but keeping to their own devices -- that has warranted their destruction.
Mr. Greenwald seems to understand destruction when applied to soldiers, but he doesn't understand how anyone could possibly justify violence against civilians. It is as if he imagines some magical boundary the divides the soldiers and the civilians in Gaza. No, that's not what he thinks. He knows that the soldiers are among the civilians. But he regards soldiers and civilians as completely different creatures. Almost as if the soldiers aren't even human, and the children of Palestine are somehow more human than others.
Reality does not support his delusions.
Soldiers are people, too. So are their families. So are the people who don't even agree with what the soldiers are doing who live nearby. They're all people. In standing behind, sheltering, feeding, healing, and helping these soldiers, all those "non-combatants" are helping the war cause of the enemy. The children are under the care of their parents and it is the parents who are responsible for their safety even in war.
If a noncombatant does not want to be hurt when war comes, I have only one suggestion: Run.
If a soldier does not want to be hurt when war comes, I have one suggestion: Surrender.
If a country wants to keep its children and soldiers safe when war comes, there is only one option: Surrender. Completely and unequivocally.
If Palestine is overwhelmed by the violence that Israel is doing to them, they should give up. They should lay down arms and permit Israel whatever actions will satisfy it.
But if Palestine believes that it is right and just in its cause and believes that cause to be worth the destruction and harm that will come, by all means, they should keep fighting in an attempt to destroy Israel. War will settle the matter for good or for bad.
Winning a war does not guarantee that the moral or most just or proper country has won. It is simply a method employed by the unjust to attempt to enslave others and a tool used by the just in an attempt to thwart tyranny. That is all the more reason to be cautious in employing it.
If war comes your way, you should be absolutely and completely terrified. It should weigh heavy on your heart before you decide to enter into it. Because if you choose to enter into war, you should choose to win. And choosing to win means that you should seek to completely and utterly destroy and terrify your enemy -- your fellow human beings.
So, heaven help you if you convince me to go to war with you because I'm a terrorist according to Mr. Greenwald. I would become a sociopath who has absolutely no regard for you and yours. I would not care if you surround yourself with babies, blind people, and precious works of art. I would come for you in order to destroy you. And all the people around you should run.
One final note: Mr. Greenwald conflates strong support for Israel in this and other conflicts with blind nationalism or complete support for everything that Israel has ever done or will ever do. Even if you constrain the topic to that of war or international policy, support for one action does not necessarily imply support for another. Even general support for Israel or the US or any country does not imply support for each and every specific action that country may under take. So, he impugns his readers who agree with him "in almost all areas other than Israel," saying they are being insensitive to the plight of Israel's enemies who suffer, too. His willingness to blame the victim here is almost too much to believe, but what is particularly galling is his wililngness to simply blame EVERYONE for what's going on and Israel and the Islamo-fascists of Hamas on the same moral footing.
I just keep going back to my question about who started this with the indiscriminately targeted rocket launches.
Another thing that keeps crossing my mind is that Israel is unlikely to seize control of Gaza and take it as part of Israel. Yes, I know they've fought for that territory in the past, but I also take note of the fact that in the past when they've launched these assaults in order to stop another country from attacking them, they've satisfied themselves with simply removing that country's capacity to attack and then went home. Israel just doesn't seem to be big on long occupations or in taking over other countries. Does anyone think the Palestinians would show that much restraint? I don't.
Update: On that final point, I am informed that Israel does maintain some sort of occupation of Gaza even after they pulled out in 2005. I really have no information about the details there, but would be interested if anyone cares to provide any info there.
January 05, 2009
They aren't protesting Hamas. They're chanting things like "Free Palestine," which I also don't get because Palestine is already a country that Israel was happy to leave to its own devices so long as they don't launch rockets at them... wait. PALESTINIANS ARE LAUNCHING ROCKETS AT THEM.
Again, I don't get it. These people have put reason out on its ear.
I haven't done any research on this story. That's just what I know from the segments on CNN HLN this morning.
They keep showing these people who want to stop the violence, but no one is talking about why there is any violence in the first place. I can understand wanting everyone to stop and chill out if this is the result of some collosal misunderstanding, but I have my doubts that folks are sending tanks and launching rockets over some superficial misunderstanding.
It's like the UN and all these other people want to stop the violence for the sake of stopping the violence, without any regard to the principles that are driving the violence. Perhaps there is a very good reason for launching rockets or sending tanks into Gaza. If there is, you couldn't tell from these reports.
Even after reading this article on the New York Times, I can't tell how this started.
I remember not long ago, Hamas and Israel had stopped fighting for a second. So, why'd they start fighting again? The only thing clear to me is that Israel wants to stop Hamas from bombing them and that seems like a very legitimate goal and concern for them. There is no word about why anyone thinks Hamas should be allowed to continue this.
Some people seem to be arguing for something called "proportionality" from Israel, but I can't even see the hair that is being split to differentiate by scale between bombing from rocket launching. And let's do be clear: I don't support proportionality in war. If anything, I am for completely, gobsmackingly disproportionate responses in war. So, if bombing is worse, then I think Israel is doing the right thing to win the war in response to the Hamartian rocket launches.
I obviously have an opinion about who I believe to be at fault here, but what concerns me is that the news is not giving me any factual information with which to either confirm or change my mind on this issue. Everyone just keeps saying they want to "stop the violence."
Is this objectivity? I think not. Is this avoiding bias? Not possible.
Objectivity requires acknowledging the facts, not avoiding or obscuring them. Failure to provide essential facts actually serves as bias for the party in the wrong. I have an example.
Let's say a bank robber comes into a bank, demands money with threats of violence, and is shot by the bank security guards. Would you call it a lack of objectivity to call him an armed bank robber? No! In fact, if you reported anything else, it could only be to make it sound like he wasn't trying to rob a bank.
Man was killed today when bank security guards opened fire while he stood at the teller counter. The man was wearing unconventional attire that some lady who was wearing her bathrobe to the bank alleges was "bank robber" gear, but all that seems clear is that the man did want to make an unscheduled withdrawl from his non-existence 401K which the bank managed for him. The teller with whom the man was speaking did not return our calls immediately for comment because she was detained for questioning at the time.That, my friends, is totally biased and non-objective reporting.
I understand that no one wants other people to get hurt, but some people deserve to be hurt. Some people deserve to be hurt repeatedly. And some people deserve to be killed. This is particularly true in cases where a war is being fought for legitimate reasons. But if I leave it to CNN and the New York Times, I may never be able to determine whether or not anyone has any good reason for fighting in Gaza right now. If I leave it to them, I can only think that both parties are out of their minds -- a conclusion that could only abet the aggressor.
Update: Gina Liggett has a nice post about this whole conflict up over at Noodlefood.
January 02, 2009
Well, fat taxes are becoming a reality! Alabama has proposed to charge state employees for being obese -- or for not proving they aren't at risk for obesity-related diseases. Governor Paterson here in NY has proposed a fat tax on the sale of non-diet sodas.
Aside from the rights and legal issues which Paula deftly addresses, I find the notion of fat as a disease a little strange. I mean, you don't ask fat people not to cough on you. You don't say, "Oh, he's got a touch of the Biggins, but he'll be back tomorrow after spending the day on the treadmill." (Heaven help you, if you get a cold and a fat. Wait. It's feed a cold starve a flu, right?) It seems clear to me that obesity is a symptom, not a source of problems and the problems aren't necessarily biological, but doctors are generally more comfortable (and patients usually choose) with prescriptions for drugs rather than frank advice to get up off the sofa to exercise -- and stop eating bad food!
But if obesity is caused by genetics, I think the source of this problem is clear: chubby chasers. People who are procreating with fat people and making fat babies who go on to make more fat people.
The Chubby Mafia has a massive campaign to promote obesity and the love of obese people. How often do you hear "big is beautiful?" "Post-gay" pop icon Mika even has a song called "Big Girl" in which he calls out
Diet coke and a pizza pleaseIt's the fat agenda. Next thing you know, they're going to want to get married and bring western civilization to its knees.
Diet coke I'm on my knees screamin,
Big girls you are beautiful'
You take your girl
And multiply her by four
Now a whole lot of woman
Needs a whole lot more
PS. The title of this post comes from a line that appears in singles ads by those brave souls who dare speak out against the threats and coersion from the Chubby Mafia.
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