Friday, January 30, 2009

This Is An Outrage

Those Congressional Democrat sons of bitches!

Read this and weep:

Kimberly Strassel gives the Obama administration credit for learning from history with their stimulus package. Not from the history of economics — the package pretty much entails a What Not To Do aggregation of New Deal ignorance — but from the history of health-care nationalization. Rather than attempt it honestly, as Bill and Hillary Clinton did in 1993, Obama has hidden nuggets of it within the so-called stimulus bill that passed the House (via Power Line):

Still, it’s the “stimulus” that has proven the real gift horse — a behemoth that has allowed Democrats to speed up the takeover of health care under cover of an economic crisis. They initially claimed, for instance, the “stimulus” would provide Medicaid money to states struggling to pay existing bills. What in fact it does is dramatically expand the number of Americans who qualify for Medicaid.

Under “stimulus,” Medicaid is now on offer not to just poor Americans, but Americans who have lost their jobs. And not just Americans who have lost their jobs, but their spouses and their children. And not Americans who recently lost their jobs, but those who lost jobs, say, early last year. And not just Americans who already lost their jobs, but those who will lose their jobs up to 2011. The federal government is graciously footing the whole bill. The legislation also forbids states to apply income tests in most cases.

House Democrat Henry Waxman was so thrilled by this blowout, it was left to Republicans to remind him that the very banking millionaires he dragged to the Hill last year for a grilling would now qualify for government aid. His response? A GOP proposal to limit subsidies to Americans with incomes under $1 million was accepted during markup, but had disappeared by final passage. In this new health-care nirvana, even the rich are welcome. CBO estimates? An additional 1.2 million on the federal Medicaid dime in 2009.

The “stimulus” also hijacks Cobra, a program that lets the unemployed retain access to their former company health benefits — usually for about 18 months. The new stimulus permits any former employee over the age of 55 to keep using Cobra right up until they qualify for Medicare at age 65. And here’s the kicker: Whereas employees were previously responsible for paying their health premiums while on Cobra, now the feds will pay 65%. CBO estimates? Seven million Americans will have the feds mostly pay their insurance bills in 2009. …

Add it up, and Democrats may move 10 million more Americans under the federal health umbrella — in just four weeks!

Do go read the rest of the post. And spread the word.

This is Atlas Shrugged. On steroids. And crystal meth.

Telling It Straight

The Anchoress highlights a couple of must-reads.

One small quibble: at one point she says

Peggy Noonan, coming down from the cloud of sentiment she’s been riding for the past few gooey weeks, gets it just right today, as well. She is critical both the so-called “stimulus” package and Obama’s less-than-impressive “unifying.” He could have done something great this week - we all know it - and he chose to be precisely what we’re sick of: dismissive, partisan and arrogant.

Obama most certainly could not have done something great this week. The man is, and has always been, an empty-suited, sweet-talking fraud (and he is the person most fooled by his own schtick), wholly incapable of true greatness. He chose to be precisely what he is: dismissive, partisan and arrogant.

Prove me wrong, Mr. President!

Weep For This Country

David Harsanyi:

Imagine that. The most expensive social experiment in American history — one that will cost taxpayers more than both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined — was allotted less than a single day of debate in Congress.

This Game Of Chicken Is Nearing Its Endpoint

Another great Market-Ticker post.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Soylent Green Is People

Patrick Madrid takes a look at the whirlwind that will be reaped due to contraception.

"Bailouts, Relativity and Dead Parrots"`

American Thinker piece leads up to this finish:

Didn't you ever wonder if the witch doctors themselves thought dropping a virgin in the volcano would really bring good crops? I'm thinking they didn't. But it kept them in their witch-doctor jobs and gave them a few final moments in private with the virgins.

And that, boys and girls, is how government works.

We're Talkin' Three Hundred Bits Per Second!

A must-see blast from the past. It's like the dinosaurs oohing and aahing about the brilliant streak suddenly appearing in the sky.

I Hear You

An Althouse commenter:

Congress is rioting, looting the nation. They’re breaking the windows, stealing the TVs and Nikes, running out with arms full of merchandise.

Tell me what is related to the crisis - is it the things that are already funded in the normal budget, like smoking cessation and birth control? Analog Tv conversion boxes are going to restore someone’s 401K - exactly HOW?

This is insanity.

This is like saying you are giving money to Katrina victims to rebuild their lives and fix their homes and then taking that money and using it build a skatepark in Denver.

Does anyone really believe painting a bridge somewhere is going to fix anything?

You’ll be at 4 trillion before this orgy is over.

Family planning is already in the national budget. Or does the REGULAR already huge budget count for NOTHING?

This is supposed to be money being spent and invested to FIX the mess - that means making the credit markets open up, it ought to mean restoring 401K funds, making people whole again, NOT a massive free for all give away to god knows who.

NO ONE has stopped to THINK about what they are doing. In a drunken orgy - our legislators are throwing pizza at the walls.

“Infrastructure” birth control, no white guys, PORK, PORK, PORK!

Nobody stopping to think, or reason. Just throw that money out the door as fast as we possibly can...

"Fix The Stupid And You'll Regain My Support"

Superb Karl Denninger rant.


Next up is the fact that California is apparently not going to be issuing tax refunds since they're short of money, claiming that they must pay other expenses instead.

"ABC News has learned that tax refunds are now on hold in California for the first time in state history, according to the state controller's office. "

Heh Arnie, let me make something crystal clear to you and the rest of the clowns out there in Sacramento. Tax refunds are not your money. They are excess amounts that the state has no claim to as they were not owed to to the state in the first place. They are the legal property of the person who remitted them in excess of their lawful tax obligation and you have zero right to hold them for so much as one minute beyond the date when you are supposed to return them.

If the citizens of California allow the state to literally steal money from them that they own free and clear, and that the state has no lawful right to retain, then California's residents truly deserve the title of "the fruit and nut brigade."

This is deserving of an immediate lawsuit demanding an injunction - at minimum.

When Something Is Unwanted, It Should Be Thrown In The Trash, Or Better Yet, Recycled.

Francis Beckwith:

What is an unwanted baby? Is it like an unwanted black person? Or an unwanted immigrant? Or an unwanted woman? Or an unwanted handicapped person? There are no “unwanted” babies, as if the adjective “unwanted” can be a natural property of that which is intrinsically valuable. There are just adults who have a disordered understanding of their obligations to the vulnerable and defenseless in our community. Reinforcing and nurturing that immaturity by describing the intrinsically valuable as “unwanted” is deeply immoral.

Bad adults blame the baby first, just as bigoted adults blame the immigrant, the minority, and the handicapped first for their own inadequacies.

That's Just What They Want You To Think

From a couple of long Edward Feser posts (read 'em all if you have time and are interested in lengthy but easy-to-follow philosophical discussion, otherwise, not).


Notice that unlike local doubt, global doubt tends to undermine even the evidence that led to the doubt in the first place. Doubting that you really saw your cousin doesn’t lead you to think that your belief that you are nearsighted or that your glasses are dirty might also be false. But suppose your belief that you sometimes have been fooled by visual illusions leads you to doubt your senses in general. You came to believe that your perceptual experience of a bent stick in the water was illusory because you also believed that your experience of seeing the stick as straight when removed from the water was not illusory. But you end up with the view that maybe that experience, and all experience, is illusory after all. You came to believe that you might be dreaming right now because in the past you’ve had vivid dreams from which you woke up. You end up with the view that maybe even the experience of waking up was itself a dream, so that you’ve never really been awake at all. Again, the doubt tends to swallow up even the evidence that led to the doubt. (Philosophers like J. L. Austin have suggested that this shows that philosophical skepticism is not even conceptually coherent, but we needn’t commit ourselves to that claim to make the point that it does at least tend to undermine the very evidence that leads to it.)

I suggest that the distinction between ordinary, everyday conspiracies (among mobsters, or Watergate conspirators, or whatever) and vast conspiracies of the sort alleged by 9/11 and JFK assassination skeptics, parallels the scenarios described by commonsense or “local” forms of doubt and philosophical or “global” forms of doubt, respectively. We know that the former sorts of conspiracies occur because we trust the sources that tell us about them – news accounts, history books, reports issued by government commissions, eyewitnesses, and so forth. And there is nothing in the nature of those conspiracies that would lead us to doubt these sources. But conspiracies of the latter sort, if they were real, would undermine all such sources. And yet it is only through such sources that conspiracy theorists defend their theories in the first place. They point to isolated statements from this or that history book or government document (the Warren Report, say), to this or that allegedly anomalous claim made in a newspaper story or by an eyewitness, and build their case on a collection of such sources. But the conspiracy they posit is one so vast that they end up claiming that all such sources are suspect wherever they conflict with the conspiracy theory. Indeed, even some sources apparently supportive of the conspiracy theory are sometimes suspected of being plants subtly insinuated by the conspirators themselves, so that they might later be discredited, thereby discrediting conspiracy theorists generally. Overall, the history books, news sources, government commissions, and eyewitnesses are all taken to be in some way subject to the power of the conspirators (out of sympathy, or because of threats, or because the sources are themselves being lied to). Nothing is certain. But in that case the grounds for believing in the conspiracy in the first place are themselves uncertain. At the very least, the decision to accept some source claims and not others inevitably becomes arbitrary and question-begging, driven by belief in the conspiracy rather than providing independent support for believing in it.


The Hermeneutics of Suspicion

This is, in fact, part of why the medievals had the respect for authority that they did. They by no means believed in following authority "blindly" - indeed, Thomas Aquinas regarded the argument from authority as the weakest of all arguments. But they did think that the fact that some authority has said something gave us at least some reason to think it is true, even if that reason might often be overridden by other, better reasons to conclude otherwise. That is to say, they acknowledged that it is simply a necessary feature of the human condition that our starting point in coming to know about the world must always be what we have inherited from some authority or other - parents, church, scholars, government, or whomever. Such authorities might not always have the last word, but they cannot fail to have the first word. And to reject the mindless view that authority as such is always to be questioned is not to embrace the equally mindless view that authority is always to be trusted. It is rather just to take the sensible middle ground position that authority has an unavoidable and necessary place in our lives (intellectual and otherwise) even if it is something fallible that we often need to be cautious about.

At some level, everyone knows this, even if some people pretend to think otherwise. The secularist who chides religious believers for having faith in what the Church teaches will also tell them, in the very next breath and with no sense of irony, to shut up and trust the experts where scientific matters are concerned. That there are philosophers and theologians who can present powerful and sophisticated justifications of religious belief is taken to be no defense of the average believer - he ought to "think for himself," says the secularist. And yet while the average secularist couldn't give you an interesting explanation or defense of quantum mechanics, relativity theory, or evolution if his life depended on it, the fact that there are experts who can do so is taken by him to justify his own faith in their findings. As the philosopher Christopher Martin has noted, the real difference between medieval and modern people is not that the former believe in the need for authority and the latter don't - in fact both medievals and moderns believe in it and act accordingly - but rather that the former admitted that they believed in it, while the latter pretend they don't.

This pretense of contempt for authority per se is by no means a mere foible. It can lead to very serious intellectual errors, as it does in the work of such apostles of the "hermeneutics of suspicion" as Marx and Nietzsche. For the former, all moral, legal, religious, and cultural beliefs, practices, and institutions are "really" mere expressions of the interests of the dominant economic class within a society; for the latter (and especially for such contemporary Nietzscheans as Michel Foucault), they are "really" just expressions of a more general "will to power." As such, they are to be regarded with distrust, and indeed (on at least some interpretations of these doctrines) as having no objective validity whatsoever. Authority, tradition, and common sense come to be regarded as something to be constantly unmasked and undercut rather than consulted as necessary, though fallible, sources of wisdom. Indeed, they come to be regarded as something positively hateful and oppressive, from which we must always feel alienated.

Such doctrines are notoriously difficult to formulate in a way that is both coherent and interesting. If interpreted as universal claims, they undercut themselves - Marxism and Nietzscheanism themselves turn out to be just two more masks for some sinister interest or other, with no objective validity. If instead they are not interpreted as universal claims - that is, if it is held that either Marxism or Nietzscheanism alone constitutes objective truth and ought not to be regarded with suspicion - then they seem arbitrary and question-begging. If, to avoid these problems, they are softened into the more modest claim that people often believe in or promote various moral, religious, or political ideas out of self-interest, then they become trivial. Everybody has always known that. And from the fact that someone somewhere might have a selfish motivation for believing or promoting some claim, it simply doesn't follow that that claim is false or even doubtful. To think otherwise is to commit the ad hominem fallacy of "poisoning the well." If our believing that the earth is round benefits globe manufacturers, it would be stupid to conclude from this that it must really be flat after all. Similarly, if our believing that 9/11 was caused by a bunch of jihadist fanatics acting without help from any government conspiracy somehow benefits the Bush administration, that is simply no reason whatsoever for doubting that it really was so caused.

Well If Bipartisanship Is All That, Then Maybe Obama Is The One Who Should Get On Board With The GOP To Show He's The Better Man

Just sayin'.

This is in response to a Yahoo headline: "Analysis: GOP defying Obama overtures of bipartisanship"

A headline the gist of which I somehow can't recall seeing at all in the last 8 years.

Quite the opposite, as detailed in this Patterico piece.

Decision Matrix

If you are in the minority, and you vote for your adversary's cockamamie plan and the plan succeeds, you will get little credit, nor will it help you regain the majority because you don't offer anything different.

If you are in the minority, and you don't vote for your adversary's cockamamie plan and the plan succeeds, well maybe your adversary should be running the show.

If you are in the minority, and you vote for your adversary's cockamamie plan and the plan fails, then you are part of the problem, your base has no use for you, and it won't help you regain the majority because you don't offer anything different.

If you are in the minority, and you don't vote for your adversary's cockamamie plan and the plan fails, then your adversaries are evidently a bunch of fools, they own the wreck, and it will help you regain the majority because you didn't go along with their daft schemes. Also, your base will be stoked.

Which will it be, GOP?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009



Good For The House Republicans

A momentary display of spine. Not a single one voted for the abomination. Limbaugh sums things up (but I think he said this before the vote was taken):

This, to me, is the signal that he knows he's in trouble. Now, he's not in trouble in terms of getting his bill eventually passed. But I'll tell you, more and more people are now starting to see that this is not a stimulus bill at all, it's what we've been calling porkulus. It's just a standard budget bill that has a 30% increase in the budget, is what it is. It's all it is, and if you look, there's been a conservative analysis of the bill suggests that only 12¢ of every dollar will go to genuine stimulus things like creating jobs and so forth. But they are part-time jobs. They're static jobs that have a start and end time. They're not career jobs, which is a big difference. And, of course, the news is getting out about just how filled with pork this is, how typical it is of the way Washington spends money. The Republicans in the House seem to be holding firm.
He doesn't need a Republican vote at all. I think the pressure... The result of the meeting was he knows he's in trouble 'cause he desperately wants Republican support, 'cause when this goes down the tubes, he wants to be able to say that all of Washington was complicit. He doesn't want Republicans to be able to run reelection campaigns in 2010 and 2012 saying they opposed this when we're in the mess that's even deeper than it is today. So he wants Republicans there. He doesn't want a repeat of what happened in 1993 where not one Republican voted for the Clinton budget, which then led to the Republicans', partly a factor, taking over the House in 1994. He doesn't need the Republicans at all. As I said yesterday, why in the world...? If this is so great, if this is so wonderful, if this package of his is going to reignite an economy like we've never seen before, why wouldn't he want all the credit?

Do you realize he could destroy the Republican Party forever? If his plan works, and none of them vote for it, can you imagine what he could say four years from now? It would be the end of the Republican Party. And if that's the case, why not do it?

Why the Democrats are considered to be "good on the economy" has always been beyond me. They've always been a bunch of economy-killing socialist hacks ala Atlas Shrugged, interested only in graft and political payoffs, with zero chance of being able to fix a damned thing. Republicans would be idiots not to let them take full credit for this disaster.

All Bipartisanship Does Is Muddy The Waters Of Accountability

Which is great if you're the side with all the insanely bad ideas, but not so great otherwise. Majority or minority, there is no good reason to "work together". Unless that is, your ideas are poisonous and the other party is a bunch of hapless tools.

Two very good reasons why bipartisanship is a deeply damaging idea for a political party are given in this thoughtful piece.

Looking In All The Wrong Places

Good Mark Shea article.


If I were asked to summarize the typical cultural narrative of Christianity to which the average Westerner holds, it would be something like this:

"Jesus was a good man who taught us to love each other, but tragically he was killed (nobody really knows why, but it probably had something to do with "religious conservatives" who were as bigoted then as they are now). His disciples totally misunderstood almost everything he said and built up this gigantic legend around him, full of miracles and other fictional rubbish in order to construct a vast and complicated church that encrusted the simple ideals of his philosophy like barnacles on the hull of a boat. He never in his life dreamt of, much less intended, a gigantic world-spanning Church to worship him. Anything in the New Testament that says otherwise was just pasted in after his tragic death. Our task today is to peel away the crust of Churchianity and get back to appreciating the simply homely wisdom of a great teacher by understanding who he really was and what he really meant."

Of course, one can find varieties of this meme that don't accept every point asserted above. The various Protestantisms will (usually) accept that Jesus did, in fact, claim to be God and credit at least the apostolic generation (and maybe even a few later generations) with fidelity to His message. The New Age will admit some hazy testimony to the paranormal about Him, but only to reinforce the central message that "His teachings have been distorted and His essential message has been lost."

Secular culture might occasionally stray in the opposite direction a bit by attributing to Jesus some malign motive his sheep were too stupid to grasp. But, as a general rule, the meme "Jesus meant well, but the Church has totally and completely obscured Him and His message" is a hardy perennial in modern Western thought. Against the "simple primitive gospel of Jesus" is habitually pitted the "Christ of faith" and the dead theologizing of creeds and councils.

Now, the remarkable thing about this meme is that it is, in almost every detail, an article of faith -- and, what is more, faith in a purely legendary accounting of history. There is not a syllable of actual support for it in anything that the contemporary documents tracing the development of the Christian faith actually show us. It is simply a content-free assertion that the majority of our culture accepts because they have heard it asserted many times from their TVs, radios, and co-workers around water coolers.


All this present-day conviction that the sure road to the Real Jesus is to take a massive detour around the Church is, I think, largely the Protestant Creation Myth in the last throes of decay into complete imbecility. For, of course, the great boast of the Protestant revolt against the Church was precisely that it proposed to "free" Jesus from the false ideas the Church had imposed on Him and get us back to the pure and original Jesus whose gospel had been so corrupted. Give that notion a head of steam and turn it loose through Western history and you wind up, well, where we are.

The original 16th-century revolutionaries had the mysterious conviction that you could attack a procession of Catholic worshippers, knock the miter off the priest's head, dash the Eucharist to the ground, burn the vestments, smash the images, and overturn the altar -- yet inexplicably seize their Holy Book and declare it an infallible oracle. The heirs of these revolutionaries were astounded when later generations did to their Holy Book what they had done to the rest of the Tradition -- and in their turn went off to find various Jesuses who said exactly what they themselves thought, based on the shred of "authentic sayings" they cherry-picked from Q or proto-Mark or their favorite bits of the Gospel of Thomas. They proceeded happily, Questing for a Historical Jesus, until (to their astonishment) still another generation arose to dissolve that New Jesus in the acid bath of skepticism and erect a still newer one in his place.

And so we arrive at the present hour, when the notion that we have to avoid the Church to find Jesus has become our normative cultural narrative, now spouted with less reflection than a child parroting his prayers. For the child, at least, never fails to ask thoughtful questions, like: "If God made everything, who made God?" while the modern mind never thinks to ask how we know the Church corrupted the simple gospel of Christ, nor how we know what that simple gospel was if we reflexively reject the only possible source of knowledge about Him: namely, the Church that carefully preserved the testimony of "those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word" (Lk 1:2), those who paid with their blood for bearing witness to "that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands" (1 Jn 1:1).

This is no small reason why one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church is absolutely necessary. For the exact opposite of the meme I recounted at the beginning of this essay is true: The earliest Christians had no concept of the Church as the Obscurer of All That Is Truly Christian and emphatically no notion that the surest way to know the Head of the Church was to ignore His body.

Baseball And Hot Dogs, Apple Pie, And Baby Killin'

The wisdom of Ashley Judd:

Ashley Judd on Obama: “It’s so nice to live in America again”

Via JWF. Barely worthy of comment, except that I’m surprised at how often lately we’re hearing intimations from celebs about what is and isn’t genuinely American. Hanks calls Prop 8 supporters un-American, Ridley declares the previous 42 presidents not quite as American as The One, the C-list cavalcade decides that America’s suddenly worth serving again, now this. I never doubted that they felt that way; I just thought they’d be more circumspect about letting it slip, especially after spending the last eight years in histrionics whenever someone on the right voiced a similar sentiment.

After flubbing a few lines, Judd, who emceed the [NARAL] event, stopped and said, “I need to take a breath. I get so excited.”

After a brief slide show featuring Bush and other anti-abortion politicians, during which the crowd booed and hissed, Judd remarked, “It’s so nice to live in America again.”

NARAL President Nancy Keenan, whom Judd called the “Barbra Streisand of the pro-choice movement” because “she does it all,” had the mostly female crowd cracking-up during her speech, as she showed a picture of the bathroom at NARAL’s headquarters, which sports a photo of President Bush signing anti-abortion legislation.

Ashley, you can question my lack of enthusiasm about your Final Solution to the "Baby Question", but please: don't question my patriotism. Here's a slogan for you: Not Executing The Young Is Patriotic!

We've Never Had An American President Until Now


Hot Air's intro:

A predictable twist in Obama hagiography, breaking from the pattern of imputing to the Leader divine powers and recasting him instead as the literal embodiment of the nation’s ideals. The only surprise is that it took this long. I confess, I thought of Lincoln as sort of American-y (American-ish?) until I watched this. Now I see him for the fraud that he is.

Hey, remember when the left scolded Palin for trying to define “real Americans”? Good times. Click the image to watch.


Ed Morrissey highlights a very youth-oriented and savvy anti-FOCA campaign. Proof that conservatives don't have to do lame.

Nonstop Hysterics

Always overdressing for the wrong occasion.


The Hysterical Style

If anyone wished to know what the baby-boomer generation would do when, in its full maturity, it hit its first self-created, big-time recession, I think we are seeing the hysterical results. After two decades of unprecedented economic growth, rampant consumer spending, and unimaginable borrowing to satisfy our insatiable appetites, we are suddenly going into even larger debt and printing trillions of dollars in paper money to ensure that someone else after we are gone pays the debt. As if the permanent solution to a financial panic and years of spending wealth we didn't create were a government take-over of the economy in the manner we currently witness in Spain, Italy, and Greece—or the high-tax, high-spend ethos of a bankrupt California.

The reaction to the economic panic was sort of analogous to the call to 'charge it!' after 9/11 (cf. Ike's fights about the surtax to pay for Korea), or to the Iraq 2006 upsurge in violence, when suddenly our leaders declared the war lost, blamed the nebulous "they" for tricking them into voting for the war, and calling for immediate withdrawals and retreats. Ditto the Stalag-Gulag Guantanamo that, by January 19, had ruined the Constitution, shredded the Bill of Rights, and forever tarnished our reputation. Yet, on the 20th, it was suddenly complex and problematic, and required a "task force" to do a year-long inquiry into the bad and worse choices confronting us. At some point in all this serial hysteria, we are beginning to see the problem is not in the stars of the economy or of the war, but in ourselves—a weird generation that, when it finally came of age, proved to be just about what we could expect of it from what we saw in its youth.

"I Also Couldn't Vote To Create A New Class Of Pariahs"

Is the insightful take-home quote from this column.

Tellin' It Straight

Tammy Bruce:

H/T GayPatriot.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Of What Use Is The MSM?

The people do a better job on their own. The Walk For Life website now has a listing of many blogs and photo sets covering the event.

I found this photo gallery to be absolutely stunning. So far I've looked at the slideshow of the "Walk" category, and the image quality and true feeling for the event vastly exceed anything I've seen in the lamestream media, regardless of topic.

John C. Wright

"The Prince and the Dragon -- or, my experience with Anarchist Theory"

Walk For Life Music Video Slideshow

After a bit of tribulation and hassle, it's now up in HD on Vimeo. The version below is crummy lo-res, it's really better seen at this link.

2009 West Coast Walk For Life from Matteo on Vimeo.

Amazing Photo

A photographer friend clued me into this one (a zoomable 1474 Megapixel image).

Background story here.

From the big picture view you can zoom in close enough almost to count freckles on individual participants.

In Him We Live And Move And Have Our Being

You cannot be serious.


Make sure you try each answer. I hope this is a joke.

And comrade, the correct phrasing is "were watching".

Totally Great Little Movie

16 minutes of this beats any of several hours of what Hollywood has been cranking out. H/T my friend Frances, who also turned The Anchoress on to it.

Toploader Enchilada Cage

A Go-Green Guide for the Hollywood Community

Darned funny.

Principles Must Adapt To Changing Situations


Republicans are out, Democrats are in, and everyone must change sides! This dynamic may create awkwardness for those who have left a paper trail but will also create a target-rich environment for others. Let's start with the Most Influential Lib in the media today, Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, writing in 2009 about the Obama stimulus recovery plan:

But the obvious cheap shots don’t pose as much danger to the Obama administration’s efforts to get a plan through as arguments and assertions that are equally fraudulent but can seem superficially plausible to those who don’t know their way around economic concepts and numbers. So as a public service, let me try to debunk some of the major antistimulus arguments that have already surfaced. Any time you hear someone reciting one of these arguments, write him or her off as a dishonest flack.

First, there’s the bogus talking point that the Obama plan will cost $275,000 per job created. Why is it bogus? Because it involves taking the cost of a plan that will extend over several years, creating millions of jobs each year, and dividing it by the jobs created in just one of those years.

It’s as if an opponent of the school lunch program were to take an estimate of the cost of that program over the next five years, then divide it by the number of lunches provided in just one of those years, and assert that the program was hugely wasteful, because it cost $13 per lunch. (The actual cost of a free school lunch, by the way, is $2.57.)
The true cost per job of the Obama plan will probably be closer to $100,000 than $275,000 — and the net cost will be as little as $60,000 once you take into account the fact that a stronger economy means higher tax receipts.

OK, keep that "dishonest flack" exhortation in mind and ponder this from 2003, when Krugman's topic was the Bush tax cuts:

Did you know that President Bush's economic plan will create 1.4 million jobs? Oh, and did I mention that the plan will create 1.4 million jobs? And don't forget, the plan will create 1.4 million jobs.

Not that the budget cost is minor. The average American worker earns only about $40,000 per year; why does the administration, even on its own estimates, need to offer $500,000 in tax cuts for each job created? If it's all about jobs, wouldn't it be far cheaper just to have the government hire people? Franklin Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration put the unemployed to work doing all kinds of useful things; why not do something similar now? (Hint: this would be a good time to do something serious, finally, about port security.)

Hmm, ten years of tax cuts with a total cost of $500,00 per job weighed against one year of earnings. Gee, it's almost as if the writer was making a phony statement about the school lunch program, or, dare we say it, was a dishonest flack.


Let me close with this missed Self Awareness Moment from Krugman's new column:

As the debate over President Obama’s economic stimulus plan gets under way, one thing is certain: many of the plan’s opponents aren’t arguing in good faith. Conservatives really, really don’t want to see a second New Deal, and they certainly don’t want to see government activism vindicated. So they are reaching for any stick they can find with which to beat proposals for increased government spending.

Uh huh. And by way of contrast, there is not a lib to be found who is anything other than agnostic about the efficacy of Roosevelt's New Deal, and nowhere are there libs who are anything other than dispassionately curious about whether government activism and increased government spending really can be effective in improving society's well-being. The only cheerleaders are on the right - got it.

Yes We Can? Actually, On The Advice Of Our Attorney, No We Can't.


Calling for a "new era of responsibility" in his inaugural address, President Barack Obama reminded us that there are no limits to "what free men and women can achieve." Indeed. America achieved greatness as the can-do society. This is, after all, the country of Thomas Paine and barn raisings, of Grange halls and Google. Other countries shared, at least in part, our political freedoms, but America had something different -- a belief in the power of each individual. President Obama's clarion call of self-determination -- "Yes We Can" -- hearkens back to the core of our culture.

But there's a threshold problem for our new president. Americans don't feel free to reach inside themselves and make a difference. The growth of litigation and regulation has injected a paralyzing uncertainty into everyday choices. All around us are warnings and legal risks. The modern credo is not "Yes We Can" but "No You Can't." Our sense of powerlessness is pervasive. Those who deal with the public are the most discouraged. Most doctors say they wouldn't advise their children to go into medicine. Government service is seen as a bureaucratic morass, not a noble calling. Make a difference? You can't even show basic human kindness for fear of legal action. Teachers across America are instructed never to put an arm around a crying child.

The idea of freedom as personal power got pushed aside in recent decades by a new idea of freedom -- where the focus is on the rights of whoever might disagree. Daily life in America has been transformed. Ordinary choices -- by teachers, doctors, officials, managers, even volunteers -- are paralyzed by legal self-consciousness. Did you check the rules? Who will be responsible if there's an accident? A pediatrician in North Carolina noted that "I don't deal with patients the same way any more. You wouldn't want to say something off the cuff that might be used against you."

Here we stand, facing the worst economy since the Great Depression, and Americans no longer feel free to do anything about it. We have lost the idea, at every level of social life, that people can grab hold of a problem and fix it. Defensiveness has swept across the country like a cold wave. We have become a culture of rule followers, trained to frame every solution in terms of existing law or possible legal risk. The person of responsibility is replaced by the person of caution. When in doubt, don't.


Great Quip


HOPE AND CHANGE? New, Transparent Forgoes Press Briefing Transcripts? The obvious explanation: Bush wanted transcripts online because he expected the press to filter what he said. Obama doesn’t want transcripts online . . . because he expects the press to filter what he says.

Monday, January 26, 2009

What's In A Slogan? Redux

Last year I deconstructed several of the pro-abortion slogans on display by the counter-protesters at the West Coast Walk For Life.

Just as I did last year, I'll refer to some of the many excellent photos taken by Steve Rhodes at this year's event (his is the most comprehensive set of photos you'll find, doing justice to both sides).

"Pro-Woman, Pro-Child, Pro-Choice"
"Pro-Woman, Pro-Baby, Pro-Baby Killin'"

"God Called. She Wants Her Rights Back."

Wow. Nothing will change our minds quicker than someone who doesn't know that God's not a "she".

How about justice for the little one who is the whole point of reproduction?

No, it's not a theocracy. Do you want to know why? Because the Christians whom you hate so much, the ones who used to run the whole show in this country, didn't make it a theocracy when they bloody well could have. I trust them to keep us from theocracy far more than I trust you to keep us from atheocracy.

That they do! And nothing is more oppressive than being slaughtered in the womb by your own parents or their hired guns.

Next time use a spell checker. At least you didn't say "Facism".

"Women Are Not Incubators"
Well of course not. But I'd have to add: "Women Are Not Inflatable Party Dolls"

You baby is not your body. "Choice" comes into the process a bit earlier than you suppose.

If you don't like back-alley coathanger abortions..then don't get one...
If you don't like back-alley coathanger abortions..then don't get one...
If you don't like back-alley coathanger abortions...If you don't like back-alley coathanger abortions...If you don't like back-alley coathanger abortions...
then don't get one! :-)

Keep it classy, potty mouths. And you, on the right, if you're so against war, why aren't you trying to end the attack on babies? BTW, we are trying to end the war. Through a little thing called victory.

For "all". Really? But aren't you leaving someone out? I thought you guys were inclusive.

I can think of one border you'll kill someone trying to cross.

If only you stopped there.

Safer for whom?

No one wants to force you to have a coathanger abortion. But the choice is yours!

I knew it!!! That's why I don't like feminism.

What happens on my plantation has nothing to do with you!!! BACK OFF

We can't. He kind of does what He wants.

Married? Then why didn't you bring your wives?

Separation of church and state! Are you trying to create a theocracy?

DISCLAIMER: This is a copy of last year's disclaimer. Before the comments to this post are swarmed with the delightful repartee of abortion enthusiasts, let me make a clarification. My whole point is that these slogans are woefully ineffectual at convincing, or even slightly swaying, those who believe for religious, philosophical, or prudential reasons that the unborn are people with rights (I'm assuming, of course, that your goal is to convince and not merely mock). If you hate the idea that someone would base these assessments on religious reasons, you should be arguing for the invalidity of the religion (note: merely ridiculing something you don't remotely understand, for example, Catholic orthodoxy, does not constitute an argument). If you think the philosophical arguments for the personhood of the unborn are invalid, you should be stating why. If you think principles of prudence (i.e. would you fire your rifle in target practice if you thought there was even a 1% chance that kids were playing in the barn behind the target?) aren't in play, then please present your locktight, inescapable, unrebuttable, irrefutable argument that the unborn are not persons.

If your answer to this is that "hey, you guys are guilty of the same thing," my answer to you is that you are the ones who are supposed to be so much smarter and nobler than all of us mind-numbed right-wing religious fascist robots. You are our intellectual superiors and should therefore have no problem educating us using legitimate arguments. Yes?

In any case, all of the knee-jerk emotional appeals on your signs merely assume what you have not bothered to address. Why is it that your side is not holding signs that simply say "You are mistaken. The unborn are not persons." That is the only truly legitimate basis for your position. Everything else is a disingenuous smokescreen. But maybe that's all you really have to offer.

And please do not forget: as purported champions of "democracy", you must realize that all arguments end at the ballot box. It is not necessary to convince every last person in this country of the rightness of either side's cause. That's why we have elections. Should your side lose, don't start screaming "fascism!" Doing so only confirms suspicions that you really don't believe in democracy in the slightest. And buck up: if Roe v Wade were overturned, nothing whatsoever would change in the jurisdictions lived in by 95% or more of the population. Our Walk for Life is primarily a spiritual, religious, and a "giving of witness", movement, not a political scheme. It may be difficult for you to comprehend, but politics is not our god.

And your side came out on top in the elections this year. So smile!

Who Creates The Value Of Labor?

Nice post refuting a central piece of Marxist nonsense, with reference to the auto business.

It begins:

Mickey Kaus, writing on the intransigence of UAW president Ron Gettlefinger [h/t Instapundit], observes:

It doesn’t mean Gettlefinger’s workers have a right to $28/hour if at that wage their employers can’t stay in business without an ongoing multi-billion dollar subsidy. I’m sorry if this seems obvious. It’s apparently not obvious enough.

It’s not obvious to most on the Left. One of the basic tenets of Marxism is that labor has intrinsic value that precedes and is separate from the value of management and investing. Most leftists, even those who are not Marxist, have absorbed this concept of the value of labor.

In reality, the circumstances are the exact opposite. It is the skill and judgment of managers and investors that creates the value of labor. If you don’t own your own company or freelance, you rely on someone else to choose what work you do and how you do it. Their decisions create the value of the products and services you make. When they make mistakes, the value of your labor decreases and you should charge less for it.

People who worked for Ford created valuable products that people would pay for because Henry Ford and his successors engineered cars and organized their production and distribution. Without that brainwork the labor of those on the factory floor has little value. They might as well be subsistence farmers.

This ugly reality means that if managers and investors make a mistake, which happens, a lot, the unit value of workers’ labor to their customers decreases. Since their labor has less value they need to charge less for it. Unfortunately, unions are based on the premise that labor has some kind of intrinsic value independent of whether anyone wishes to trade for the results of that labor.

Spectacular Fail In The Offing

Great Market Ticker post.

Excerpt (but it's better to go to the origianl post to see the emphatic formatting):

Consider a situation where The Fed "wants" the GSE funding cost to be, say, 2%. The market wants it to be 4%, because the market perceives more risk than The Fed would like to have it admit.

The Fed can cause the GSE paper to trade at 2%, but if it does so it will be the only buyer of said paper, because nobody else will buy at a 2% coupon.

The same thing is about to happen here. If Bernanke actually attempts to suppress the Treasury Market's interest rates, that is, "support the long end of the curve's price", then he will wind up having to buy all, or essentially all, of the supply. People who own Treasuries will sell to him, surmising that he is overpaying, and gleefully taking what is an "extra" profit from his hands.

If you're wondering why the commercial and consumer lending market has gone straight to hell, this is the reason. Bernanke has interfered with the private credit market in virtually every area, and in each place where he has "supported" the price of debt instruments (suppressing yields) he has wound up as effectively the only buyer in short order.

This is bad when we're talking about the private credit markets but if it shifts to Treasuries then the game is literally over immediately, because at that point you have just created a circle jerk.

Treasury prints Ts to finance its operations but the guy who buys them is the guy who prints the money in exchange. Therefore every additional Treasury sale is no longer a debt sale, it is an act of printing money by the Central Bank and destroys the standard of living of everyone in The United States.

This, should Ben engage in it, is a willful act of destruction of your private property rights, your wealth, and your income. It is not an accident, it is not "necessary" and it solves exactly nothing.

It is simply an attempt to defraud - yet again - the American People, this time by attempting to "make ok" the financing of deficit spending that the market simply will not support at the price Treasury wishes to pay.

Down this road lies the near-immediate implosion of all commercial credit as there will no longer be a "fair" reference against which it can be based. We've already tampered with the commercial paper and mortgage security markets; this will complete the "transition" from a market economy in bonds to a command economy, complete with a self-appointed King who has simply ignored the provisions of The Federal Reserve Act when it suited him.

Bernanke will literally have reached the end game where he is the lender not only of last resort, but of the first and only resort at the same time, with all of his lending "decisions" being made by fiat instead of by the market's approximation and evaluation of risk.

Once this begins expect mass bankruptcies in the commercial sector as private credit provisioning will immediately disappear. Bernanke's ability to replace that functionality is fanciful and he will soon learn this lesson the only way the market knows how to teach it - the hard way - just as he has had every other "plank" in his Doctoral Thesis destroyed - one at a time.

No, it is not inflationary when your job disappears because the place you work for goes under; while Ben can try to replace the entirety of the private credit market I wish him the best of luck in that endeavor, given that it is some fifty trillion dollars. How much faith will the world have in The Fed when it tries to backstop a $50 trillion marketplace with under $1 trillion in banknotes? It has already doubled its balance sheet - but this would require expanding it by twenty five more times.

He's going to fail at this endeavor in truly-spectacular fashion.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Well, Nancy, If Each Of Us Would Just End It All Now, I'm Sure We Could Lower Costs To Zero

Empress Pelosi:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Hundreds of millions of dollars to expand family planning services. How is that stimulus?

PELOSI: Well, the family planning services reduce cost. They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children's health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those - one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So no apologies for that?

PELOSI: No apologies. No. we have to deal with the consequences of the downturn in our economy.

Fifth Annual West Coast Walk For Life

The West Coast Walk For Life took place yesterday in San Francisco. This one was the best attended yet, with about 32,000 participants. There were about 300 crazies on the other side this time. Their numbers were subdued due to the fact that the pro-life side now has little political influence, and moreover, most of the BDS props and signs that the leftist mobs bring to their demonstrations (no matter what the topic is) are suddenly obsolete, so even they know they'd look a little silly committing standard operating procedure again this year. Also, the police presence seemed to be scaled back by at least two-thirds this time out.

One of the neat things is that the event has become a tradition such that parishes and churches in attendance are becoming more creative with their signs, as well as bringing musical instruments, singing, and being festive. There were lots of spirited youth groups present (especially from Hispanic parishes) and more than half of the entire student body of Thomas Aquinas college was up from Southern California.

It was a good day under a chilly low overcast which threatened to drizzle but never really did.

My photos of the event are viewable here.

See also this post, where pro-death slogans are dissected.

And also this.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Ran across this somewhere:

Image Hosted by

Friday, January 23, 2009


You've got to read the letter written by the CEO of one of the suppliers of the Detroit automakers. It can be found at this link, which begins:

The following is an email that stirred great interest on the internet a few weeks ago. We didn't publish it then as we couldn't verify it's authenticity. I received an email from Greg Knox a couple of hours ago with permission to post at SafeHaven. His delay in responding to our request was because he has been inundated with thousands of emails and letters.

Following is a letter received by Greg Knox from General Motors, and his response:

Dear Employees & Suppliers,

Congress and the current Administration will soon determine whether to provide immediate support to the domestic auto industry to help it through one of the most difficult economic times in our nation's history. Your elected officials must hear from all of us now on why this support is critical to our continuing the progress we began prior to the global financial crisis......................As an employee or supplier, you have a lot at stake and continue to be one of our most effective and passionate voices. I know GM can count on you to have your voice heard. Thank you for your urgent action and ongoing support.

Troy Clarke,
President General Motors North America

Do read the response!

Here's A Change That Brings Me Hope

I find that I'm rather enjoying the media's conversion from ruthless slanderers into candy-assed bootlickers.

The latter condition should be a bit more obvious to the perpetually clueless, as well as more likely to change, due simply to the shame and embarrassment of being a sycophantic toady rather than Fighting the Man. One never tires of raining down righteous fury on the "wicked" and "evil", but staying perpetually on one's knees (or on all fours) eventually grows distinctly uncomfortable.

Who know, perhaps some of them will bgin to remember that back in the idealistic days of J-school, they were not aspiring to be court eunuchs.

These honorless buffoons had no trouble keeping the knives out for 8 years, but that's a mighty long time to remain in a state of emasculating idol-worship.

But until such time as they turn against the current Popular Girl, I'll continue to be amused by their total lack of self-respect.

Why Should He Buy The Cow When He Gets The Milk For Free?

Some good advice for the teenaged girls of the Drive-By Media. Good title, too:

"Sorry media, Obama's just not that into you."

Great Quote

Seen here:

“The trouble with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money”

–Margaret Thatcher

They Make Themselves Dessert And Call It Peace

Brutally Honest highlights a great Don Surber column.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Well Stated


CONOR CLARKE: Why do 41% oppose Geithner? Because if he were a Republican, the press coverage would ensure it would be 82%?

Amusing Graphics

Insider humor:

Image Hosted by

Image Hosted by

Lifted from here and here.

Nicely Put

Vox Day:

I believe the issue of Hercules has already been dealt with to Dominic's satisfaction, so let's consider the comparative value of the sources for Jesus Christ's resurrection and Mohammed's flying horse. In the case of the latter, the oldest extant source is the one written down by Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari, who is reported to have collected over 300,000 hadith told to him and wrote down the 2,602 stories that he personally felt to be authentic. Al-Bukhari wrote down these tales in 846, 214 years after the death of Mohammed. Furthermore, one of the two major branches of Islam, the Shia, reject the Sahih Bukhari, going so far as to state that "There is NO requirement in Islam to believe in Sahih Bukhari...."

The story of Jesus Christ's resurrection, on the other hand, is reportedly told by several of his personal companions, who claim to have encountered him subsequent to his very public death. The oldest manuscript to date is the Magdelen Papyrus, which contains Matthew 26 and has been dated as early as 66 AD, 33 years after the events it describes. The Lukan Papyrus is dated between 67 and 77 years after Christ's reported death, and there are another 230 extant manuscripts compiled within 500 years of the event.

Contrast with this the earliest copies of the works of historians such as Thucydides, Herodotus, Aristotle, Caesar, and Tacitus. There are no more than 20 copies of any of these manuscripts and the earliest extant copy was made more than 1,000 years after the original. If it were not for the seemingly absurd claims about a man doing miracles and rising from the dead, no one would even think to question the historical veracity of the Bible. And there's simply no comparison between the veracity of an account to which every Christian today subscribes and the Islamic hadith, in which many Muslims place no credence.

Now, it would be one thing if the event described in Gospels was claimed to be a quotidian reality that, nevertheless, no one has witnessed since. But that is not the case, as the accounts are very clear about the astonishing, even singular, nature of the event. Common sense dictates that one ask oneself the question: if the resurrection of God's Son was a one-time historical event as it purports to be, how else could eyewitness reports possibly have been recorded given the technology of the time, and what alternative explanation beyond the convincing nature of the reports will suffice to explain the enormous number of ancient manuscripts that were produced and circulated long before the Edict of Milan ended the Imperial persecution of Christianity and the Church achieved its position of intellectual domination that allowed it to put thousands of monks to work making manuscripts.

The truth is that modern doubts about the Gospel accounts have a basis that is no more objectively legitimate than that upon which al-Buhkari's rejection of the vast majority of hadiths he was told rests. They're subjective, and they're based on nothing more than personal feelings and the obvious difficulty in testing a historical event. If the ancients are trusted to have reliably passed on the accounts of the Peloponnesian war for 1300 years, then they were quite obviously just as capable of faithfully passing on the eyewitness accounts of a strange event that took place in Jerusalem nearly two thousand years ago for a few decades. Based on the available evidence, logic dictates that one either tentatively accept the essential reliability of the record testifying to Jesus Christ's resurrection or reject the greater part of Mankind's recorded history.

This may explain in part the peculiar nature of the New Atheism, given the obvious deficiencies of the New Atheists with regards to both logic and history. Now, does this prove beyond any reasonable shadow of a doubt that Jesus Christ rose from the dead? No, it does not. But it should be more than enough to prove why that account is far more credible than the tale of a flying horse.



How Were The Good Citizens Of Dachau Supposed To Have Known?

Superb anti-abortion article at American Thinker.

But I Thought Lying Was Bad

Leftist "thinking" is such a hall of mirrors. They were all so outraged about Bush's nonexistent "lies" but hope for genuine lies from their Messiah.

From the comments to this post:

My friend- a big Obama supporter- said he hoped Obama was lying about his religious rhetoric. Now the same people who condemned Bush's supposed lies are hoping that Obama lies too? These are strange days.


I used to work with a gay guy who was adamantly pro-gay marriage and pro-Hillary/Obama. He didn't mind that these politicians professed to oppose gay marriage, because he was sure that they were only lying.

Sad thing is, he was probably right.

Chesterton Quote

"Without education we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously."


Seen here:

"The question is not whether the Church could survive persecution in the US but whether the US could survive persecuting the Church."

--Fr. Michael Sweeney

Almost Thou Persuadest Me

Mark Shea:

Saying Anything and Everything

A reader notes that the website I mentioned below that is peddling various atheist bric-a-brac so that socially inept gits will feel affirmed in their okayness offers t-shirts and coffee mugs with these quotes:

"The Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad." - Friedrich Nietzsche

"The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference." - Charles Darwin [sic; it was actually Dawkins, but even more accurate, since Dawkins is 150 years smarter than Darwin. The atheist bric-a-brac store misattributed the quote, not Mark Shea]

Does anybody notice a certain dissonance here? One would think that the sort of people who spend their days combing through the Bible for contradictions would give some thought to making sure their agitprop was coherent. Instead, a hundred years after the publication of Orthodoxy, the same tired blunders are made. The Prophet Chesterton had their number back in 1908:

A good Chesterton quote follows.

Also, from the comments:

A few months ago, the NY Times covered a symposium of scientists who were trying to bury religion once and for all (good luck with that).

The "highlights" were:

1) A biologist showing slides of babies and fetuses dying from terrible diseases and/or deformities, and stating, prompting viewers to wonder how a benevolent god could allow such things.

2) An astronomer showing slides of supernovas and comets, and saying, roughly, "This is FAR more wonderful than any story or account I've ever heard of God."

I almost wondered if those two scientists ever met or tried to reconcile their visions. Which story are we to believe- "The universe is so horrible and evil that there couldn't be a God," or "The universe is so wonderful, who needs God?"

I've noticed that myself. On the one hand, God is utterly evil because he doesn't barge in and do anything about our troubles, but on the other hand the very idea of God fiddling in any way, shape or form with the splendid and beautiful self-running world is repugnant and laughable. So God is somehow inept and puny if he has to intervene, and monstrously evil for not intervening.

"We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge and you did not mourn." (Mt 11:17) Nothing ever changes.


A variety of good stuff.


The point? I distilled from the press coverage and the crowds and the punditry yesterday that for all too many suddenly a vote for Obama redeems America. Now, to paraphrase Michelle Obama, for the first time in their lives they are apparently proud of the United States...

So I am surprised that suddenly the election of a single individual means that we are united, patriotic, proud of America? Suddenly Okinawa or Antietam, or all those who died at the Argonne, are ours to claim again?


But America was always ours, the public, and the nation transcends the proposition of whether Obama gets elected or not—given that the United States, in its worst hour, was better than the alternatives at their best. So I think it would be wise to cool it on the “I am now proud of America” rhetoric. If getting your way means suddenly the dead at Iwo or those who were blown up in B-17s over Germany are at last your own and matter, then we are in deep trouble.

Which Part Of "You Break The Spin By Getting The Stick Forward" Don't These Nimrods Understand?

There are far too few trained pilots in the governing/financial class. They keep acting like the credit/interest rate lever is the make-the-economy-grow lever. This is no more true than that the up elevator control (pulling on the stick/yoke in an airplane) is the make-the-airplane-go-up control. Yes, pulling on the stick will make you go up, provided the engine is running and you are at cruising speed. Otherwise, pulling on the stick is the get-you-killed control. And the harder you pull on the stick in reaction to what the plane just did because you are pulling on the stick, the worse things are going to get. Your options: keep that stick back until you impact the ground vertically with no chance of survival, or get that stick forward so that you can glide to a controlled crash landing (which is what the airline captain who put his plane into the Hudson did).

Our leadership is a wretched bunch of bozos. All of their "spin training" is of precisely the wrong kind.


We all know how we got into this economic mess. We spent too much, borrowed with abandon, and acted like the bills would never come due. So what's the prescription for getting out? Spending more, borrowing more, and acting like the bills will never come due.

When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. This alleged cure deserves special scrutiny because it invites our policymakers to redouble the very policies that caused the crisis. Congress and the new administration are all too eager to abandon restraint so that we can overcome the consequences of excess...

Trying To Run Away Will Only Make It Hurt Worse

Karl Denninger:

What have we learned from the last eighteen months?

1. Banks have repeatedly claimed that they "shouldn't sell" assets to raise capital because their impairments were "temporary" and "would get better." Whether it be banks not foreclosing because they didn't want to book the loss to refusal to sell assets as they were "priced too low", the story has been the same. But in virtually every case, prices have continued to fall, in many cases dramatically. That is, the market isn't too pessimistic, it was too optimistic. Lesson: Banks that need to raise capital must not be permitted to avoid selling assets - whatever they are - under the theory that prices will improve with time. The best price is in fact today's price, not tomorrow's.

2. Taking over "bad assets" doesn't make them go away, it just shifts who takes the loss. Losses are in fact incurred when bad loans are made, not later when they default. Once the bad loan has been made the loss is inevitable; we are then left with the sole choice of who will eat the loss, but cannot prevent the loss from being realized. It is outrageous to expect the taxpayer to eat the losses incurred as a consequence of the foolish and even criminal actions of private parties, and such actions must not be contemplated. Lesson: "Bad bank" ideas are acceptable provided they are fully private and the losses assumed by those private parties but to the extent that such actions, as taken in part in the Fannie and Freddie debacle, by The Fed with the Maiden Lane LLCs and other similar schemes, force losses to be born by the taxpayer they amount to charging taxpayers with the cost of covering the criminal acts of private parties while allowing the malfeasors to abscond with their ill-gotten gains. This is incongruent with the principles of justice in America or, for that matter, any free society.

3. Firms will game the system whenever possible. For example, Merrill Lynch reportedly delivered bonuses in December days before the acquisition by Bank America closed, instead of in January as was customary, thereby dissipating $3 to 4 billion dollars that would have otherwise been in the firm on the day the transaction closed. Bank America subsequently went to Treasury and effectively demanded more TARP money to avoid scuttling the deal. Lesson: Any firm under a federal umbrella of any sort must operate with full transparency to the public so such outrageous conduct is unable to be swept under the rug and looting of the taxpayer cannot take place. If it is attempted anyway then "clawback" provisions must be immediately instituted or the provided "assistance" withdrawn.

4. Liquidity provision does not stop asset price deterioration. It in fact it accelerates deterioration and cuts off private lending activities as it suppresses interest rates - the very incentive (interest payments) that private investors need to complete deals. In a normal economy banks lend out money that is lent to them, whether through deposits or via debt issuance. As short-term rates have been effectively driven to zero there is no longer any private lending to these institutions, and thus, the normal private-money driven lending cycle has been destroyed. The "credit crunch" is a function of inadequate return being available to cover risk, with government being directly responsible for suppressing the rate of return available in the marketplace! Lesson: We have not solved anything through the myriad "liquidity programs" of The Fed and Treasury, but we sure have destroyed all private capital investment into our financial system and CREATED the credit crunch. Private capital must be enticed to return and to do so we must DECREASE liquidity guarantees and thus cause the rate of interest paid to RISE, not fall.

5. Insolvent institutions don't become less-insolvent over time, and the claimed "illiquidity" isn't - its insolvency. Proof is found in institutions like Citibank and Bank America that have had to tap the Treasury and Fed multiple times for various facilities to avoid implosion, each time at an ever-increasing cost. Lesson: You only get more broke the longer you wait to admit it; perform a cramdown of insolvent but systemically important institutions today and get it over with. We've solved nothing for these so-called "illiquid" banks despite throwing more than a trillion dollars at the problem and destroying private funding activity.

6. We have rising unemployment and north of 20 million illegal aliens in this nation. That is, we have more illegal aliens than we have unemployed workers, while states are spending billions that we don't have for their medical care and in many cases incarceration. Lesson: It is idiotic to permit illegal aliens to remain in this nation while our citizens and lawful immigrants (e.g. green card holders) are unable to find a job and states are going bankrupt.

7. Serial bubble-blowing looks good at the time, but in point of fact it is how one creates an economic depression. 1873 and 1929, and now 2007, prove this beyond all doubt. The mathematics cannot be swept under the carpet - any time lending-at-interest takes place, which is inherently necessary to entice people to loan capital, there must be liquidation events as nobody will ever (freely) loan money at less than the risk-free return rate. Since the lending rate will always exceed the GDP growth rate over longer periods of time and both lending and growth are compound functions (that is, yx) the law of exponents means you cannot "paper over" liquidation events. Lesson: Liquidations are inherently necessary in any capitalist system; the longer we try to put them off the more they compound and the worse the damage to the economy. This argues solidly for forcing liquidation NOW, even though it will hurt a lot, because it will hurt LESS than if we try to kick the can (again.) The errors of the past 20 years in 1987, 2000 and now 2007 cannot be un-done; we must take the pain in order to stop it, just as you must amputate a gangrenous foot lest it cause sepsis and kill the patient.

8. The market calls all bluffs. We have seen this repeatedly, starting with the August 2007 pronouncements of Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke when they lowered the discount rate, claiming the economy was "fundamentally sound" and "subprime is contained." Likewise, when Paulson made his famous "bazooka" speech, the market shortly called the bluff and when Lehman's CEO said he was going to "burn the shorts." Any such BS spewed by anyone - whether a private party or government official - results in a near-immediate "all-in" response by the market. Lesson: You can only win by telling the truth; all lies are exposed and result in extraordinarily severe punishment being meted out by the market, destroying yet more value. Whatever damage exists must be admitted to, which is the precise opposite approach typically taken in Washington DC and Boardrooms across the nation.

9. Housing prices are too high and need to come down. All attempts to "fix housing" without price corrections to historical norms have failed. Redefault rates for modified mortgages are upwards of 50%, proving that modifying existing loans is not the answer - foreclosure is, and that modifications are in fact just another exercise in "kicking the can." Sustainable home prices and mortgage practices show that home prices must correct to between 2.5-3x incomes on a median basis, and sustainable mortgages are 30 year fixed notes with 20% down and a maximum 36% DTI. Lesson: "HOPE" and similar interferences with the housing market such as "DPA", low-down FHA loans and similar gimmicks are a fool's errand and will not resolve the problem. The solution is found in lower prices (and thus more affordable homes), not trying to prop up prices and sustain a popped bubble. Those who made foolish decisions to purchase or build beyond their ability to pay will inevitably default and this must not be interfered with, as that is how the market clears overcapacity and poor investment decisions.

Question: Where is Terry Tate now that we really need him?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I Will Only Do Anything Nice For Anyone When My Guy Wins

Seems to be the implicit message of the Hollywood airheads video.


Celebrities vow to make world a better place now that Obama has ascended to White House; bulimics, Hollywood publicists hardest hit.

Ya know, I'm well aware that we conservatives are just a bunch of knuckle-dragging mouth breathers but this video leaves me perplexed. What has kept our intellectually and morally superior betters in Hollywood so preoccupied that only now are they pledging to make America a better place? Did festering Bush hatred drain their altruistic energy? Too busy having sex on piles of money surrounded by ostentatious opulence? Collectively curing America's foreign oil addiction by cold-fusing atoms with their minds?

These morons can kiss the hairiest part of my posterior. Millions of Americans with far less free time and wealth have been selflessly doing their part to help their fellow countrymen over the past eight years. They didn't just sit on their hands and bitch because they disagreed with President Bush. They weren't making self-aggrandizing videos flogging their commitment to making America a better place. They just looked around the neighborhood and decided to make a difference.

Maybe some folks just need the vacuous words of a heretofore unaccomplished man before their hidden desire to pledge empty, unquantifiable acts of unity can be revealed.

Here's my pledge now that the Earth is enjoying the cleansing, refreshing herbal colonic of an Obama presidency:

I pledge to continue living my life as I have over the past couple of decades. I will work. I will spend time with family and friends. I will hunt dove, quail, and ducks when they are in season. I will hold doors open for females. I will donate time and money to help those less fortunate. I will barbecue. And I will continue to view all politicians cynically while striving to insulate myself from their heavy-handed meddling.

Can Barack Obama inspire me to do anything I wouldn't do anyway? Other than stockpiling some firearms I'm relatively certain will be banned now that Democrats control Washington, no he can't. I might end up working more for less, but I won't be doing any more or less. I didn't celebrate when Bush took office and I'm not going to cry into my bacon and eggs now that Obama is in office. He may turn out to be a dandy president or he may turn out to be a dud, but for now Obama's just another politician.

But what would you expect from a misogynistic, greedy, uneducated, gun-toting, bible-thumping, queer-hating, racist, anti-science, Earth-murdering, neo-conservative fascist Republican? If only I were so brilliant and enlightened...

Fantasy Analysis

Gagdad Bob:

First of all, the obligatory fantasy analysis of Obama's otherwise vapid inauguration speech. This is the technique invented by psychohistorian Lloyd deMause to supposedly reveal "hidden emotional messages embedded within seemingly bland and boring speeches and press conferences of leaders." Its purpose is to attempt to "capture how it feels to be part of a nation's emotional life" by focusing only upon emotionally charged "fantasy words" that resonate with the unconscious mind. It operates under the assumption that any leader is also a fantasy leader who necessarily mirrors and shapes the group's unconscious emotions, needs and impulses.

As we just witnessed with President Bush, a leader who fails to resonate in this unconscious manner simply will not be perceived as effective, no matter how competent he is. From even before day one of his presidency, Bush was unable to use language in such a way as to bind up the anxiety and hatred of liberals. First, just as it is difficult for the non-evil to understand the evil, it's also difficult (at least without training) for the non-crazy to truly understand the crazy. On top of that, Bush never appreciated the level of liberal bitterness and resentment over Al Gore's unsuccessful attempt to exploit the judicial system to steal the presidency to which liberals were entitled. Frankly, there is probably nothing he could have done about that.

In order to perform a fantasy analysis on a text, one records all strong feeling words (including anything related to the family, e.g., mother, father, baby) regardless of context, plus any unusual metaphors or gratuitously repeated words. One also eliminates negatives, because of the symmetrical logic of the unconscious, which converts a negation to an affirmation (for example, the more liberals complain about people questioning their patriotism, the more it emphasizes their lack thereof).

As deMause writes, "most political meetings are usually held not to make decisions but to deepen the social trance, to switch into political alters, and to entrain the group's unconscious emotional strategies for handling the inner emotional problems of its hidden world." Because liberals are by nature such emotional creatures who project so much unmetabolized emotion into politics, they are much more transparent in their fantasies (indeed, as is true of any more primitive group).

I have no idea whether or not fantasy analysis works. But I do know that it's fun, and that it can reveal a fascinating emotional theme beneath what is an otherwise tedious formality. Anyway, here goes:

sacrifices... gathering clouds... raging storms... crisis... war... violence and hatred... badly weakened... greed... failure... adversaries... threaten... crisis... sapping of confidence... nagging fear... fear... conflict... discord... petty grievances... false promises... recriminations... worn-out... young... childish... strangled... lash of the whip... fought and died... struggled... sacrificed... raw... birth... crisis...

ground has shifted... consumed us... too big... too small... ill... ill... crisis... out of control... perils we can scarcely imagine... blood of generations... child... threats... threat...

terror... slaughtering innocents... broken... weakness... bitter swill... dark... old hatreds... conflict... ills... destroy... starved bodies... hungry minds... suffering... levees break... cut... darkest hours... child...

children... father... birth... coldest... dying... icy river... abandoned... enemy advancing... snow stained with blood... father... alarmed... danger... dangers... hardship... icy currents... storms... children's children...

Hmm. Lots about abused, threatened, and neglected children, capped off with cold, icy, and abandoning father. I wonder what that means?

More generally, it seems to me that Obama is attempting to induct us into a social trance in order to condition us to the extraordinary and unprecedented measures he will have to take in order to deliver us from the apocalyptic evils he lays out in the speech, i.e, the ground has shifted, things are spinning out of control, and we're about to be eaten by this threatening Moloch.

It would be one thing if he were using this overheated rhetoric to describe nazis or Islamists, and to mobilize us to recognize the danger. But let's face it: he's declaring war on the American way of life. Economically, he wishes to destroy America in order to save it. It all seems so appealing! I mean, he just promised to help all Americans get well paid jobs, free healthcare, and a dignified retirement. Government. What can't it do? (besides govern itself). Father has been ousted. Mother government to the rescue.

It also sounds like he's doing a "Lady Macbeth" concerning abortion.

Out, damned spot!

If You're Reasonably Sure That What You Want To Do Will Work, Then Damn The Constitution!

Can I get an amen?


Obama vs. James Madison

In his inaugural address yesterday, President Barack Obama reframed the basis for action undertaken by the federal government. No longer is it right to ask whether a program is appropriate for Washington to take on. The only question is whether the program is effective.

"The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end."

He forgets, never knew, or doesn't care that effectiveness has never been the first measure of a federal action. It is an important secondary measure once the constitutionality or appropriateness of an action has been determined. But as James Madison asked in Federalist 41:

"Is the aggregate power of the general government greater than ought to have been vested in it? This is the first question." (Emphasis in original.)

When thinking of our federal government, the first question is and always has been whether that government has too much power -- that is, whether it is too big. Yesterday, Obama tossed that question aside in favor of building a government that "works." The Founding Fathers would be aghast. The people should be, too.

This Guy's Pretty Optimistic


"I Guess When Obama Says This Stuff, I Don't Think He Really Means It...And That Gives Me Hope!"

"No. You're the same rhetoric!!"

John Stewart is showing some cojones. This is a must-see.

Oh, Puke


MSM Fawning Over the Coronation of the Dear One

NBC’s Lee Cowan: Obama Inaugural Like Being in a ‘Political Cathedral’

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell: Cell Cameras ‘Seemed Like Stars Shining Back’ at Obama

Nightline: Obama’s Ascension = ‘America the Beautiful’

ABC’s Bill Weir: “Never have so many people shivered so long with such joy” while “from above, even the seagulls must have been awed by the blanket of humanity.”

NBC’s Tom Brokaw Cheers Obama Inauguration Like ‘Velvet Revolution’ Compares Dick Cheney To Dr. Strangelove

NBC’s Chris Matthews: Bush Family Like the Romanovs, Obama May Join ‘Oratorical Mt. Rushmore’

CNN’s Zain Verjee: Obama Inauguration Like Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca

ABC’s Good Morning America: ‘New Face’ of Obama; ‘Driven by an Audacity to Hope’

NBC’s Meredith Vieira: “I think the hardest thing is, is not getting emotional because it is such an emotional morning, you just want to, you want to laugh, you want to cry.” She later claimed she was “blissful.”


Ben Shapiro has an excellent examination of the inaugural address.

No More Kings

David Harsanyi:

Some of you must still believe that politicians are meant to serve rather than be worshipped. And there must be someone out there who considers partisanship a healthy organic reflection of our differences rather than something to be surrendered in the name of so-called unity -- which is, after all, untenable, subjective and utterly counterproductive.

How about those who praised dissent for the past eight years?


Yes, two important historical events transpired Tuesday. The first was the peaceful transfer of power from one freely elected politician to another -- an uninterrupted streak we often take for granted. Then there was the first presidency of an African-American, which proves we can transcend our unsightly past.

After that, what we had was just another presidential election. We conduct one every four years. For those of you not shouting hosannas, it might have occurred to you that we are suffering from a rampant sickness in American life that casts government as the author of your dreams and an Illinois politician as the linchpin of your hopes.

Tom Brokaw -- whose hero, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, corralled thousands of innocent Asian-Americans into internment camps and assaulted the Constitution at every turn -- went as far as to compare Obama's inauguration to the Czech's fight for freedom over Communist oppression.


Liberals, rightly, recoil at the prospect of conservatives dictating which morals they should live by. Obama, though, has spent the past year preaching his own brand of morality -- with a list of demands. Everyone, you see, "must" sacrifice. As Michelle Obama recently explained, "Barack Obama will require you to work. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed."

Those of us who refuse to buy left-wing orthodoxy will remain "uninformed" and, inevitably, "selfish."


Obama challenges Americans to have "a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves." So if you find massive concentrated power in Washington a turn-on, you've found your higher purpose.

But surely, most of you found meaning in something greater than yourselves long before some politician demanded it.

To require such fealty to power in the name of patriotism was once repugnant to the left. Now, with the right guy in charge, apparently, it can be embraced once again.

Change, indeed.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

180 Degrees Off

Somewhere in his inaugural address, Obama mentioned "restoring trust in government". In my opinion it is precisely the opposite that is desperately needed. It is distrust in government that needs restoration.

Atavistic Dynamics

Interesting Gagdad Bob musings.

No Class

The new