Free Markets, Free People

Culture

Daddy Says, “Don’t Talk Like That”

Ever have your mom or dad say “I don’t like that tone, young man?” Or words to that effect? Well our national daddy is monitoring the speech of bankers and apparently he’s just not happy with their tone:

President Obama says he sees a lack of humility among leaders of the financial community.

While noting that some of the nation’s most powerful banks had repaid federal bailout money, Mr. Obama said: “What you haven’t seen (in the financial sector) is a change in culture, a certain humility where they kind of step back and say gosh, you know, we really messed things up.”

Speaking of lack of humility, I’m wondering is when he’ll step back, look at that pork laden “stimulus” bill which was nothing more than a political payoff and has done absolutely nothing to stimulate anything and say “gosh, you know, I really messed things up”.

Instead we get the spin cycle on steroids while he has the temerity to lecture others on “messing up”.

~McQ

Obama Gives The Bill Cosby Speech. NAACP Hears Something Else.

And props to the Prez for doing so.  However, and you knew there’d be one or I wouldn’t be writing about it, it is interesting to note what the NAACP, to whom he addressed the speech, heard:

The organization’s president, Benjamin T. Jealous, said afterward that the address “was the most forthright speech on the racial disparities still plaguing our nation” Mr. Obama has given since moving into the White House.

A little confirmation bias maybe. This is what they wanted to hear (that’s what keeps them in business) and so that’s what they heard.

So lets see what he said and how they might have gotten that impression.

President Obama delivered a fiery sermon to black America on Thursday night, warning black parents that they must accept their own responsibilities by “putting away the Xbox and putting our kids to bed at a reasonable hour,” and telling black children that growing up poor is no reason to get bad grades.

“No one has written your destiny for you,” he said, directing his remarks to “all the other Barack Obamas out there” who might one day grow up to be president. “Your destiny is in your hands, and don’t you forget that. That’s what we have to teach all of our children! No excuses! No excuses!”

Sounds like the Bill Cosby speech to me – “no excuses!” means “no excuses!”, right?

Well sorta. Apparently after throwing that out there, he remembered to whom he was speaking and provided them the their portion of red meat:

Even as he urged blacks to take responsibility for themselves, he spoke of the societal ills — high unemployment, the housing and energy crisis — that have created the conditions for black joblessness. And he said the legacy of the Jim Crow era is still felt, albeit in different ways today.

“Make no mistake, no mistake: the pain of discrimination is still felt in America,” Mr. Obama said, by African-American women who are paid less for the same work as white men, by Latinos “made to feel unwelcome,” by Muslim Americans “viewed with suspicion” and by “our gay brothers and sisters, still taunted, still attacked, still denied their rights.”

I’m sure the press will fact check all of this (who, btw is viewing “Muslim Americans” with suspicion and taunting and attacking “our gay brothers and sisters”? Is it those “white men” who’re being paid more than African-American women?), but there it is, the very part that Benjamin Jealous (I love that last name) decided to remember.

The put-away-the-X-Box-go-to-bed-and-study stuff – well, as I said, Bill Cosby has been giving that speech for years. Given the fact that Obama feels compelled to give it now should tell you why the NAACP chooses to ignore the “no excuses” portion in favor of the “racial disparities” portion.

Addendum: And, of course, I’ll be the racist for pointing this out – just hide and watch.

~McQ

Is It The Media’s Fault or Ours?

Michele Catalano starts her Pajama’s Media piece with this sentence:

There are more people who know what’s going on in the lives of Jon and Kate than what’s going on in Iran.

The “why” has never been more obvious to me than the two day “Michael Jackson is dead” orgy the television media has put us through. And of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this obsessive and non-stop coverage over a celebrity death.

But more importantly, Catalano points to a couple in a “reality” show who, quite frankly I had never heard of two weeks ago, as being a greater priority in people’s lives than what is happening in the world. Iran is reality. Jon and Kate? Well I have a confession to make – I simply don’t watch much TV. And so they definitely aren’t a reality to me.

Catalano’s point though, is well taken. I’ve been trying to follow the events in Iran closely for the past two weeks and during that time I’ve had “Jon and Kate” forced on me. Horror of horrors I learn they’re “breaking up”. Time was spent telling me how that has all come about. Anchors shook their head and told me how “sad” that was.

Meanwhile I had to learn of Neda’s death on the internet among the political blogs.

Then Michael Jackson dies. And here I am again trying to get word on a bill being voted on in the House that will radically change the lives of most Americans, see a little of the debate and find out the particulars of the legislation. Instead I have to watch the 15th viewing of the “Thriller” video, hear some yahoo tell me how much Michael Jackson meant to him, and listen to “reporters” speculate about his death and spread rumors about its cause.

Is there any question of why “more people … know what’s going on in the lives of Jon and Kate than what’s going on in Iran?”

But here’s the most important question:

Does the media decide what to feed us or do we tell it what we want to be fed?

~McQ

The Man. The Myth. The Legend.

In The New Ledger, Christopher Badeaux has penned one of the most withering takedowns of a public figure since H.L. Mencken’s obituary of William Jenning’s Brian. Badeaux’s target:  Andrew Sullivan.  A few samples are in order.

On Sullivan’s campaign against circumcision:

To say that Sullivan has focused his laser-like mind on human reproductive organs is to engage in an understatement worthy of the master himself. We could simply look at Sullivan’s relentless, years-long focus on circumcision (a relentlessness not well-captured by the internet tubes, as Sullivan’s archives traditionally become difficult to search when he moves from site to site), an unusual genre for a man who will never have children and who is not Jewish or Muslim, though perhaps not so unusual given his general interest in the member in question. One could focus on his decision to start calling a 4,000 year old religious tradition “male genital mutilation,” thus cleverly calling untold generations of Jews child abusers and torturers, a decision that marks the sort of intellectual territory into which only a man bravely unwilling to live in Israel can tread.

On Sullivan’s participation in the Sarah-Bristol-Trig Palin controversy:

Andrew Sullivan immediately leaped into the fray. Unlike the rest of these non-experts, many of whom began to back off of the story when word emerged that Mrs. Palin’s daughter was pregnant and had been close to the time of Trig’s birth, Sullivan, who apparently received a secret medical degree while attending Harvard, began obsessively following this story, turning the Atlantic from a fairly uninteresting opinion website into a leading journal of gynecology and obstetrics. Rarely in human history has a gay man been that obsessed with a married woman’s vagina.

On Sullivan’s views about the Catholic Church:

Sullivan sees deep plans within plans, and lives by undercurrents the likes of which we mere mortals cannot fathom; is it any wonder that his break with any apparent connection with Catholic teaching or thought, Scripture, and reality came when he perceived a great teaching moment on Benedict XVI’s ascension? Certainly not, because if there is anything about which we can be certain, it is that Sullivan is as constant as the polar ice.

Sullivan’s problem with pre-35th Century Catholicism, he has repeatedly assured his readers, is in its offenses against human dignity, human dignity only usually being a code word for sodomy.

On Sullivan’s thoughts about The Jews:

One sign of a writer’s mental disfigurement, laziness, undiagnosed psychoses, or, obviously in the case of Sullivan, inhuman insight, is the gradual realization that the term “neoconservative” is a useful stand-in for “Jews whose loyalty belongs first to Israel, and then to the United States, if at all.” Sullivan has clearly reached this point, as one can note from some of his most recent thoughts...

Surely Sullivan, keen observer of men, sees what we cannot: That the Jews (or rather, a subset of American Jews) are in close collaboration with Israel, are working to undermine our brave President’s policy of allowing Iranians to die in their streets, never understanding that President Obama’s indifference is actually a brilliant ploy to force the theocrats of Iran to spontaneously step down and allow a thousand fabulous flowers to bloom. You see, he’s clearly not taking issue with the “neocons” for wanting to toss out the clerics; he discerns that because of their love of blood-of-Gentile pastries and determination to overtly strike out at theocrats, dictators, and Palestinian children, they’re being counterproductive.

The whole thing is brutal.  And brutally funny.

Ditching The Star-Spangled Banner

Michael Kinsley annoyed some people this week by suggesting that we replace our national anthem with some other, more singable tune. This subject comes up at least once per year, usually around either the Super Bowl or the World Series, when some new butchering of the song prompts the discussion. Personally, while I don’t agree with Kinsley’s reasoning, I favor the change.

Growing up a Philadelphia Flyers fan, I’ve always had a special affinity for “God Bless America” and often wondered why that tune wouldn’t be a better choice. And anyone who has ever heard Ray Charles sing “America the Beautiful” can be forgiven for thinking that this is our country’s anthem. Both are far representative of the nation than a song about one battle in Baltimore’s harbor.

So, I’m curious. Where do you all stand on the Star-Spangled Banner? Would you rather a different song, and if so, which one?

Which song should be our national anthem?
Keep the “Star-Spangled Banner” you unpatriotic simps!
“God Bless America” (even if Michael likes it too)
“America the Beautiful,” athough what’s so great about ocean foam?
“This Land is Your Land” comrades!
“O, Canada”
“Stars and Stripes Forever”
“My Country ‘Tis of Thee”
“Dixie”
“Convoy!”
Other
  
pollcode.com free polls

SCOTUS Temporarily Halts Chrysler Sale To Fiat

And Ruth Bader Ginsberg granted the halt (I wonder if she issued the stay on empathetic grounds or legal grounds?).

The “greedy speculators” who requested the stay were somewhat happy:

Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock said the ruling was a small victory for Indiana pensioners, who brought the request for an injunction for fear of losing their stake.

But, like I said, this is a very temporary stay:

In order for the stay to have a more lasting effect, five justices need to sign on it. That has not happened, or at least not yet. The court may yet deny the emergency request or grant it and await arguments about why it should actually hear an appeal.

However, that should be more than enough time for the usual suspects to demonize the firemen, police officers, teachers and blue collar workers greedy speculators and their desire to destroy the UAW auto industry for their pension funds 20 pieces of silver.

In fact, it has already begun:

Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., whose congressional district is home to Chrysler world headquarters, said the state of Indiana pension funds’ attempt to stop the sale is an effort to prevent a swift emergence from bankruptcy in the name of a small sum.

Indiana’s pension funds would lose $4.8 million if Chrysler is allowed to emerge from bankruptcy, Peters said, while the state will lose more than $20.7 million in tax revenue if Chrysler is liquidated, as well as incur tens of millions in lost revenue, expenses and new unemployment claims.

“Other stakeholders, including other secured lenders and Chrysler’s autoworkers, accepted shared sacrifice because they recognized their interest was better served keeping Chrysler alive rather than forcing liquidation. Why the officials who decided to take their objections all the way to the Supreme Court can’t recognize this is beyond me,” Peters said.

IOW, Michigan’s greed is much more acceptable than is Indiana’s. And besides, the powers to be have already made up their mind that the “greedy speculators” in Indiana should just shut up and accept the rape of their pension funds because the interests of others are “better served” if they get screwed vs. Michigan.

Nice.

~McQ

Nanny Wants New Credit Card Rules

Why not just wrap us all up in bubble wrap and bottle feed us?

“We like credit cards — they are valuable vehicles for many people,” said Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, the chairman of the Senate banking committee and author of the measure now being considered by the Senate. “It’s when these vehicles are being abused by the card issuers at the expense of the consumers that we must step in and change the rules.”

Doug Bandow provides the proper pithy reply to Sen. Dodd:

“Abused by the card issuers.” Of course. The very same card issuers who kidnapped people, forced consumers to apply for cards at gunpoint, and convinced merchants to refuse to accept checks or cash in order to force everyone to pull out “plastic.” The poor helpless consumers who had nothing to do with the fact that they wandered amidst America’s cathedrals of consumption buying wiz-bang electronic goods, furniture, CDs, clothes, and more. The stuff just magically showed up in their homes, with a charge being entered against them against their will. It’s all the card issuers’ fault!

Certainly card issuers are raising their rates arbitrarily to very high rates. And, as I did recently, card holders are calling them up and very politely saying “stuff it – and while you’re at it do it with my canceled card”.

Credit cards aren’t a ‘right’, and the fact that someone gets themselves into trouble with them doesn’t make them a ‘victim’ deserving of special legislation to “right a wrong”.

What in the world ever happened to individual responsibility and accepting the consequences for your actions?

~McQ

“Star Trek” – My Review ***With Spoilers***

The short review is simple.  If you are really devoted to the current Star Trek canon, you won’t like it.  For everyone else, you’ll probably like this movie.  Taken on it’s own, it is a good movie, albeit with a few minor problem here and there.  And most people won’t even notice the problems.

The acting is very good.  Chris Pine’s performance as the young Jim Kirk is especially well done.  When the guy is on the screen, you just have to look at him.  And he has the character of the young Kirk down pat:  Brash, womanizing, risk-taking, and self-confident. Karl Urban’s Dr. McCoy is also well played, and we even got an “I’m a doctor, not a physicist!” out of him.  Zachary Quinto expresses the conflict between emotions and logic that plagues his character with surprising subtlety.  Zoe Saldana’s Uhura is, for practically the first time in 40 years, an interesting character, with a story and a life.

The dialogue is sharper and wittier than we’re used to seeing in a Star Trek movie, and the wit pops up in unexpected places, like Capt. Pike’s first encounter with Nero, the Romulan villain of the piece:  “I’m Captain Christopher Pike, of the Federation starship Enterprise.” “Hi, Christopher, I’m Nero.”  The back-and-forth banter between the Spock and McCoy characters that was so much a part of the original series is presented well in the new movie.

The action in the film is practically non-stop, with hardly any time to catch your breath.  So, the film is tightly scripted, which makes the 2.5 hour running time seem like much less.

Based on the above, I rate the movie very highly.

I did mention some problems though, and I’d like to address them.  I can’t do that, though, without giving away some spoilers.

Do not read any more, unless you’re willing to encounter serious spoilers.

This is your last warning.

Continue reading

Selective (and Safe) Outrage

I love uninformed hypocrites like this – they provide wonderful blog-fodder:

Poland’s Krystian Zimerman, widely regarded as one of the finest pianists in the world, created a furor Sunday night in his debut at Walt Disney Concert Hall when he announced this would be his last performance in America because of the nation’s military policies overseas.

Before playing the final work on his recital, Karol Szymanowski’s “Variations on a Polish Folk Theme,” Zimerman sat silently at the piano for a moment, almost began to play, but then turned to the audience. In a quiet but angry voice that did not project well, he indicated that he could no longer play in a country whose military wants to control the whole world.

“Get your hands off of my country,” he said. He also made reference to the U.S. military detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Of course Zimerman, who is certainly old enough to have played while Poland was under the totalitarian control of the USSR apparently never said a word at the time about the country that actually had “hands” on his country and controlled it completely, but instead blithely played on.  And, of course, the primary reason he’s free to travel and insult this country is because our military stood in opposition to the USSR along the Iron Curtain for decades and faced down his real oppressor.

Hypocrite.

Coward.

Delta is ready when you are, sir.

~McQ

They’ll Be Workin’ On The Railroad

Well here we go – the government apparently plans on getting further into a business in which it has no track record of success. Yes friends, if “Amtrak” doesn’t remind you of why this isn’t a good idea, how about doubling down on it?

You remember Amtrak:

In FY 2007, Amtrak earned approximately $2.15 billion in total revenue and incurred about $3.18 billion in expenses. Amtrak relies on an annual federal appropriation, which in FY 2007 totaled $1.294 billion, including $521 million in operating funds, $495 million in capital and $277 million for debt service. While Amtrak relies on federal appropriations to support its operating and capital needs, the federal government’s investment in Amtrak was less than 2 percent of the entire federal transportation budget for FY 2007.

Only 2%? Well, we’ll take care of that:

The president’s plan identifies 10 potential high-speed intercity corridors for federal funding, including California, the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest, the Southeast, the Gulf Coast, Pennsylvania, Florida, New York and New England.

It also highlights potential improvements in the heavily traveled Northeast Corridor running from Washington to Boston, Massachusetts.

Of course Amtrak runs service in all of those places.

The president cited the success of high-speed rail in European countries such as France and Spain as a positive example for the United States.

And, of course, Spain and France are physically so much like the US it is frighting:

US –  9,161,923 sq km

Spain – 499,542 sq km

France – 545,630 sq km

For comparison:

Texas – 691,030 sq km

Travel by train has been a part of the culture of both France and Spain for literally centuries. Not so in the US. This is not an “if you build it they will come” moment.

“My high-speed rail proposal will lead to innovations that change the way we travel in America. We must start developing clean, energy-efficient transportation that will define our regions for centuries to come,” Obama said at an event near the White House.

You can read the plan here. It can pretty much can be summed up by Obama’s statement. Not a single bit of analysis about whether there is a demand, whether or not it will be profitable, and, frankly whether it’s economically viable at all.  It’s all about social concerns, not how much it costs.

This is government betting your money that it can change your habits. It isn’t a business plan that’s been produced, it’s a social engineering plan.

Is this the role you’ve imagined for government? As most who understand economics would tell you, if there is a market and it is a profitable market, some entrepreneur or entrepreneurs will enter that market. But you can be assured that won’t enter a market unless there is a profit to be made – which should tell you all you need to know about this boondoggle.

And whether or not you ever board a single one of these trains in your lifetime, you will pay for it.

~McQ