Archive for April, 2012

Esprit de Corpse

So, is Obama still boasting about bringing in the Arab Spring? Huh, B-HO, are you?

Egyptian women have urged the country’s Islamist-dominated parliament not to pass two controversial laws on age at marriage and sex after death.

The two laws include provisions that would void the rights of women to obtaining education and employment due to religious standards.

One of the laws would drop the minimum permissible age of marriage to age 14. The other would permit a husband to carry out conjugal relations with his wife within six hours following her death.

I highlighted the provision on education and employment because, necrophilia and statutory rape notwithstanding, I thought it was more important.

“This is unbelievable. It is a catastrophe to give the husband such a right! Has the Islamic trend reached that far? Is there really a draft law in this regard? Are there people thinking in this manner?”

They are in Egypt! Obama said Mubarak had to go, and now you’ve got “Weekend at Bernice’s”. Go crazy, fellas! (No cuddling after!)

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Why Did They Call it “The Great Society”?

Because “The Sucky, Dependent, Unaffordable Society” didn’t have the cachet:

Recently, Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, testified before the House Budget Committee on the growth of the 10-largest “means tested” federal programs that serve people who qualify by various definitions of poverty. Here’s what Haskins reported: From 1980 to 2011, annual spending on these programs grew from $126 billion to $626 billion (all figures in inflation-adjusted “2011 dollars”); dividing this by the number of people below the government poverty line, spending went from $4,300 per poor person in 1980 to $13,000 in 2011. In 1962, spending per person in poverty was $516.

Haskins’s list includes Medicaid, food stamps (now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP), the earned-income tax credit (a wage subsidy for some low-income workers), and Pell Grants. There are other, smaller programs dedicated to the poor. A report from the Congressional Research Service estimated the total number at 83; Haskins puts the additional spending on programs below the 10 largest at about $210 billion. The total of all programs for the poor exceeds $800 billion.

To be sure, some spending reflects the effects of the Great Recession. But most doesn’t. As Haskins shows, spending on the poor has increased steadily for decades. Consider food stamps. There are now about 45 million Americans receiving an average of $287 a month in food stamps, up from 26 million in 2007, according to a new Congressional Budget Office report. But the number in 2007, when the economy was healthy, was roughly 50 percent higher than in 2001.

So, welfare spending increases when times are bad and increases when times are good. It only increases, never decreases, never goes away. It increases when fraud is rampant, it increases when the deficit yawns like an alpine chasm, it increases when independent studies show that reckless spending without consequences leads only to further reckless spending without consequences.

And buys votes. Oh yeah, now I get it.

And programs for the poor pale beside middle-class transfers. The giants here are Social Security at $725 billion in 2011 and Medicare at $560 billion. Combine all this spending — programs for the poor, Social Security and Medicare — and the total is nearly $2.1 trillion. That was about 60 percent of 2011 non-interest federal spending of $3.4 trillion.

You can debate whether all this spending is too much or too little. My point is different: These numbers speak volumes about our politics.

The larger lesson is that, contrary to conventional wisdom, American politics have not become insensitive to the “the people.” In many ways, just the opposite is true. Politicians are too responsive to popular will. The real Washington is in the business of pleasing as many people as possible for as long as possible. There are now vast constituencies dependent on the largesse of the federal government. This is the main cause of huge “structural” budget deficits, meaning that they aren’t simply a hangover from the Great Recession.

Political leaders don’t lead. They take the path of least resistance, which has been to do little except to find scapegoats — “the rich,” “special interests,” “liberals,” “conservatives” — that arouse their supporters’ angriest antagonisms. It helps explain polarization. This is really what Washington does. It’s a demoralizing commentary on the state of American democracy.

Whenever we get to such a point of demoralization, I just recall the Carter years. There has never been anything worse in my life. Sure, the Vietnam protests were a bid deal, but nothing like the National Malaise Carter’s administration inflicted on the country for four years. That to Reagan, and a decade of revitalization (after a rather harsh recession).

As we and others never tire of pointing out, Obama is another Carter.

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What Do You Get When You Ask Stephen King for Tax Advice?

Stephen King, of course. Crude, violent, disturbing, and fairly well-written. (You were expecting Jane Austen?)

Chris Christie may be fat, but he ain’t Santa Claus. In fact, he seems unable to decide if he is New Jersey’s governor or its caporegime, and it may be a comment on the coarsening of American discourse that his brash rudeness is often taken for charm. In February, while discussing New Jersey’s newly amended income-tax law, which allows the rich to pay less (proportionally) than the middle class, Christie was asked about Warren Buffett’s observation that he paid less federal income taxes than his personal secretary, and that wasn’t fair. “He should just write a check and shut up,” Christie responded, with his typical verve. “I’m tired of hearing about it. If he wants to give the government more money, he’s got the ability to write a check—go ahead and write it.”

Heard it all before. At a rally in Florida (to support collective bargaining and to express the socialist view that firing teachers with experience was sort of a bad idea), I pointed out that I was paying taxes of roughly 28 percent on my income. My question was, “How come I’m not paying 50?” The governor of New Jersey did not respond to this radical idea, possibly being too busy at the all-you-can-eat cheese buffet at Applebee’s in Jersey City, but plenty of other people of the Christie persuasion did.

Cut a check and shut up, they said.

If you want to pay more, pay more, they said.

Tired of hearing about it, they said.

Tough [bleep] for you guys, because I’m not tired of talking about it. I’ve known rich people, and why not, since I’m one of them? The majority would rather douse their [bleeps] with lighter fluid, strike a match, and dance around singing “Disco Inferno” than pay one more cent in taxes to Uncle Sugar.

Beyond what we already know about Stephen King (which has been confirmed here), we also know he’s never met a rich woman (one of the expurgated words being a rather common slang word for the male reproductive organ).

But of course King can talk about it: this is America. And he puts his money where his mouth is:

My wife and I give away roughly $4 million a year to libraries, local fire departments that need updated lifesaving equipment (jaws of life are always a popular request), schools, and a scattering of organizations that underwrite the arts. Warren Buffett does the same; so does Bill Gates; so does Steven Spielberg; so do the Koch brothers; so did the late Steve Jobs. All fine as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough.

Umm, says who? And even if we agree that it doesn’t, who is Mr. King to confiscate (or call for the confiscation of) another person’s wealth (for all you rich dames out there)?

What charitable 1-percenters can’t do is assume responsibility—America’s national responsibilities: the care of its sick and its poor, the education of its young, the repair of its failing infrastructure, the repayment of its staggering war debts.

If you’re so concerned about America’s “staggering” war debts and its sick and poor, Steve, what are you doing pi**ing your money away on arts organizations? The Orono Gilbert & Sullivan Society may appreciate your largesse, but how many jaws of life have they purchased with it?

But seriously, Steve, you would rather the government take your $4 million than spend it how you see fit? What if some of it went to the GSA’s party lifestyle or Michelle Obama’s lavish vacations? You think that’s better than local libraries and schools?

And the rich do pay their fair share—so much more. I don’t feeling like pulling up the relevant Treasury chart that shows that the richer you are, the more of the federal income tax you pay as a percentage of the population. In recent years, the top 1% pay between 35-40% of federal income tax, while the bottom 50% pay between 2 and 3.5% The disparity between the top one-tenth of one percent is even greater:

Since 2001, the IRS has also been presenting data on a small subset of the top 1 percent, the top 0.1 percent (the top 10 percent of the top 1 percent). In 2009, this top 0.1 percent filed 137,982 tax returns, reporting 7.8 percent of all adjusted gross income earned and paying approximately 17.1 percent of the nation’s federal individual income taxes.

That’s right: a group about the size of a standing-room only capacity crowd for the University of Michigan Wolverine football team pays over one-sixth of the federal income tax, even though they earn less than half that amount proportionately.

And Stphen King wants them turned upside down and shaken by the heels so he can feel good about pot holes. We should be encouraging more philanthropy, not less. More capitalism, not more communism. If that’s not too scary for you, Steve.

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If I Die Before I Wake

I pray the commies my corpse don’t bake:

If you are looking for a book that brings a corner of modern China alive—a book filled with humor, family squabbles and ordinary life in a large city in a one-party state—look no further than “The Little Red Guard.” The focus of this delightful family memoir by Wenguang Huang, a Chinese-born writer now based in Chicago, is a simple wooden coffin that a lowly member of the Communist Party, the author’s father, had secretly built for his mother in the mid-1970s, as a present for her 73rd birthday. She had been pestering her son for a coffin in preparation for her death, though she showed no sign of dying. The coffin, hidden by a tablecloth and painted with a fresh coat of black lacquer each year, became the family’s unwelcome and dangerous guest.

Natural death cannot be controlled by China’s Communist Party, but disposing of a body can. Burial is outlawed as a feudal, superstitious practice; cremation is considered modern and officially approved. But as Mr. Huang’s grandmother keeps saying, if you end up as a jar of ash or the leftover dust from the bottom of a furnace, there is no way you can join your ancestors and loved ones on the other side in the next life.

You may wonder why Grandma was in the need of a little reeducation in the collectivist spirit:

Her parents, as we learn, were rich landowners. As was the custom, her feet were bound at the age of 6. Her husband and most of his family, also rich landowners, died when a tuberculosis epidemic swept through central China in the 1930s. Their farmland was flooded by the Yellow River, their livestock was taken by the invading Japanese and famine turned them into beggars.

Come 1949 and the communist victory, Grandma Huang and her young son were given the exalted status of “poor peasants.” Their suffering, the author writes, turned out to be a blessing. Automatically they became members of the “true proletariat,” and the opportunities of the new society were open to them and members of their family—a job in a factory, an education, housing, food rations, status.

The author of this memoir, the son of Grandma Huang’s son, describes his father as a “poster child of the revolution.” His photo was pinned on the factory notice board year after year as a model worker and later as a model Communist Party member. At one point Grandma Huang observes that, when the author’s father was invited to his son’s school to speak, it was a lucky thing that the family had lost its fortune before the revolution. “Otherwise,” she said, “you could have been standing on the stage with a big dunce’s cap to receive public denunciations.”

Boy, I’ve never heard that anywhere else that one’s morality is judged by one’s income level have you? The same person can be considered a “dunce” or a “true proletarian” merely on the whims of fate. It doesn’t matter who you are. Good thing that doesn’t happen here, huh?

But back to Grandma’s coffin:

The coffin cost a small banquet of delicacies and the best rice wine for the carpenters who built it inside the Huang’s two-roomed house over a weekend. Apart from Grandma, the family can’t stop worrying that the illegally made coffin will undermine their revolutionary credentials, bring shame on them and lead to their downfall.

In the end, it is the father who suffers as his world collapses. Toward the end of his life he was told by the Party that he was to be rewarded for devising a money-saving program at his state factory with promotion and a better wage. Instead the promotion went to the girlfriend of the local Party secretary, and the firm’s bosses split his wage rise among themselves. Embittered and exhausted, he died of a heart attack in 1988, ahead of his mother. Thirteen months later Grandma Huang died. She never made it home to Henan Province, but lay in her coffin with the ashes of her son at her feet. Her funeral procession of three vans and a truck set off at 4 a.m. through Xian city to avoid the police to a burial site beside an abandoned brick factory.

What a depressing and dehumanizing story. It almost smacks of O. Henry in the unexpected twist at the end—O. Henry mixed with the gruesomeness of Poe. And the pitilessness of Camus. And the indifference of Kafka.

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Now That We’ve Started…

Good, I’d like to add a few categories to the list myself:

A majority of [British] doctors support measures to deny treatment to smokers and the obese, according to a survey that has sparked a row over the NHS’s growing use of “lifestyle rationing”.

Some 54% of doctors who took part said the NHS should have the right to withhold non-emergency treatment from patients who do not lose weight or stop smoking. Some medics believe unhealthy behaviour can make procedures less likely to work, and that the service is not obliged to devote scarce resources to them.

However, senior doctors and patient groups have voiced alarm at what they call “blackmailing” of the sick, and denial of their human rights.

Ever the voice of reason, may I offer a compromise? Instead of allowing no denial of service, or only a limited, narrowly selected group, why not broaden it? If enough people are deemed to be a waste of resources, then the burden of premature death is spread fairly and evenly. Call it the “individual death-date”.

I’ve already selected my category: fanatic exercisers, whose obsession with heart rate and lung capacity leads to expensive knee and hip replacements and a host of other physical complaints. Tell them to take it easy, or they can just hobble home from the ER, discharged without being seen. It’s not just your ailments I can’t stand; it’s your sanctimony. Good bye!

But I’m sure my wacko environmentalist friends would add global warming skeptics to the queue. We’ve already been likened to Holocaust deniers; why waste even a penny on us? I would also add so the SOL-roster the cast of Jersey Shore, Lindsay Lohan, King Shabazz Shamir, and anyone who says “I” when they mean “me”. It’s an eclectic list, but you can make your own.

Who am I kidding? If the Supreme Court doesn’t shut this racket down, we’ll all be on someone’s list. I’ll flip you for the red pills, Aggie. Loser takes blue.

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Sorry, Netherlands, Sucks 2 B U

I can see how this is an outcome of Hope—but how is this Change (except a hefty chunk of change)?

President Obama has nominated a top campaign bundler to be the next U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands, following in a rich presidential tradition of granting diplomatic posts to big-dollar fundraisers.

The White House announced this past week that Maryland lawyer Timothy Broas would be nominated for the Dutch ambassadorship.

According to the Obama campaign, Broas has helped raise more than $500,000 for the 2012 reelection effort. By law, Broas cannot contribute all that money himself — so he, like other so-called “bundlers,” serves as a fundraising point person and collects money from others to donate to the campaign.

These bundlers are frequently rewarded with prestigious positions — in the administrations of President Obama as well as his predecessors. The Center for Responsive Politics estimated that Obama nominated two-dozen fundraisers to ambassador positions within his first year in office.

Broad is a lawyer with the Washington, D.C., firm Winston & Strawn, representing high-profile clients like UBS Securities and Papa John’s International.

Who should be more insulted, the guy who got Holland for his half a million dollars; or Holland, once a great world power, now sunk so low (get it?) as to have a cheap lawyer and campaign shill as its American ambassador?

Actually, given what we’ve learned the last few days about Dutch collaboration with the Nazis, a rich corporate lawyer for the sainted Obama and the most efficient deporters of Jews during the Holocaust (so said Eichmann) kind of deserve each other. Kudos, Obama!

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There’ll Always be an England

And Jews will always be unwelcome:

Supermarket chain the Co-Operative Group is extending a boycott of goods from Israeli settlements and will now shun any supplier known to source from these areas, a statement said Saturday.

“Following an audit of the Group’s supply chain, it will no longer do business with four companies, accounting for £350,000 worth of sales, as there is evidence that they source from the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian occupied territories,” the statement said.

The Co-Op, Britain’s fifth-largest food retailer, has not bought goods from the settlements since 2009, it said, but does trade with about 20 Israeli businesses that do not source from the settlements.

“The Group will also continue to actively work to increase trade links with Palestinian businesses in the occupied territories,” it added.

Israel was clearly broken up by the news:

Israel subsequently decided to legalise another three settlements in the West Bank, a move that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said left him “deeply troubled”.

The three outposts will now join some 120 official settlements dotted across the occupied West Bank that are home to more than 342,000 people.

Your loss, Britain. More arugula and beets for the rest of us.

But Britain won’t take that lying down:

Until Monday morning, the official website of the 2012 London Olympics portrayed Israel as a country without a capital, while Jerusalem was listed as the capital of “Palestine.”

The website appears to have been fixed to show Jerusalem as the capital of Israel as well.

The fix may have been the result of a request by online advocacy group My Israel to its members, to demand that Jerusalem be listed as Israel’s capital.

Last week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) rejected a request from the families of the Israeli athletes who were murdered by Arab terrorists at the 1972 Munich Games to organize an official commemoration on their behalf.

Ankie Spitzer, whose husband, Andre, was one of the 11 Israelis killed, said the IOC did not want to enrage Arab countries by mentioning the tragedy at high profile events.

Heh-heh, Israel, it was just a little joke. Where’s your sense of humor?

Those who argue that the Olympics should be without politics are as ignorant of the games as they are of politics. Thanks a lot, Britain.

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Portland

Sorry BTL… my bad.

Ohh, this one’s good too:

And this might be the best:

Ok, I’ll stop now.

- Aggie

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Your Money or Your Life

I’m thinking!

Barack Obama has already held more re-election fundraising events than every elected president since Richard Nixon combined, according to figures to be published in a new book.

Obama is also the only president in the past 35 years to visit every electoral battleground state in his first year of office.

The figures, contained a in a new book called The Rise of the President’s Permanent Campaign by Brendan J. Doherty, due to be published by University Press of Kansas in July, give statistical backing to the notion that Obama is more preoccupied with being re-elected than any other commander-in-chief of modern times.

Doherty, who has compiled statistics about presidential travel and fundraising going back to President Jimmy Carter in 1977, found that Obama had held 104 fundraisers by March 6th this year, compared to 94 held by Presidents Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush Snr, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush combined.

Since then, Obama has held another 20 fundraisers, bringing his total to 124. Carter held four re-election fundraisers in the 1980 campaign, Reagan zero in 1984, Bush Snr 19 in 1992, Clinton 14 in 1996 and Bush Jnr 57 in 2004.

Vowing in 2008 to ‘launch the most sweeping ethics reform in US history’ Obama said that if elected he would ‘make government more open, more accountable and more responsive to the problems of the American people’.

In his State of the Union speech in January, Obama bemoaned the ‘corrosive influence of money in politics’. The following month, he reversed course and announced he was allowing cabinet members and top advisors to speak at big money events for so-called super PACs – unaccountable outside groups raising money for his re-election.

During the 2008 election, Obama abandoned a pledge to opt for public funding of his campaign, instead opting to raise an unlimited amount privately. He then raised and spent approximately $730million, almost double the campaign funds of Senator John McCain, his Republican opponent.

Boy, they almost say it: Obama is full of [bleep]. Almost, but not quite.

Of course, in libel law, truth is an absolute defense.

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Idiot Wind

What you call your unintended consequences:

Usually at night the air closer to the ground becomes colder when the sun goes down and the earth cools.

But on huge wind farms the motion of the turbines mixes the air higher in the atmosphere that is warmer, pushing up the overall temperature.

Satellite data over a large area in Texas, that is now covered by four of the world’s largest wind farms, found that over a decade the local temperature went up by almost 1C as more turbines are built.

This could have long term effects on wildlife living in the immediate areas of larger wind farms.

It could also affect regional weather patterns as warmer areas affect the formation of cloud and even wind speeds.

I’m thinking of writing a screenplay called The Chinook Syndrome, in which the earth faces imminent destruction by the meddling of lame-brained environmentalists. I’m going to name the protagonist Bill McKibben, and we’re going to know he’s a bad dude because when he checks his badger traps in the first scene, he finds he’s caught one and grins to himself disturbingly. Then he throws it, trapped badger and all, in a deep pond, chuckling to himself all the while. The badger will be named Al Gore.

I don’t want to be insensitive toward others feelings, but if you aren’t reading stories like this with tears and snot of laughter streaming down your face, you are a cold-hearted bastard. In my opinion.

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We Get Results

Or Aggie does:

THE HAGUE – The national commemoration committee of the Netherlands scrapped a controversial poem about Nazis from its program for its annual ceremony this week

The poem was seen to suggest Nazis deserved to be commemorated along with their victims

The homage to Dutch Nazis who died in WWII was to be paid in a poem written by the 15-year-old relative of a Dutch SS soldier who died in Germany`s eastern front. The Nationaal Comite 4 en 5 Mei planned to have the song read aloud on May 4 in Amsterdam at the main official commemoration ceremony

However, following a public outcry over the weekend, the committee announced it would scrap the text

“The national memorial day is too important to be overshadowed by the discussion the poem caused”, the committee said in a press release “Commemorating the perpetrators was never the committee’s intention The committee regrets that the boy’s poem was used in a ping-pong exchange between grownups.”

The boy`s poem, “Wrong Choice”, speak of his great uncle, who “sought to escape poverty and dreamed of a better life,” but “chose the wrong army and wrong ideology.” He “needs to be remembered too” on May 4, Dutch memorial day, the poem states.

And now he is. He is remembered as a member of the shameful lot that betrayed not only country but human decency by collaborating with the heinous Nazis. Uncle Hans (or whoever) did his no small part in the eradication of 3/4 of Holland’s Jews. I’ll never forget him.

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The Professor Was a Squaw

Wanna make Elizabeth Warren (aka Betty Buckskin) cry?

There’s an old saying in the Indian Nation: When accused of being a fake Indian, go on the warpath.

And so we have Granny Warren, the carpetbagging Democrat candidate for the U.S. Senate doubling down after being unable to produce a scintilla of evidence to back up her claims to a piece of the racial-preference racket.

Evidence? She don’t need no stinkin’ evidence. She’s got her family “lore.” She’s “proud” to be an Indian. It’s the kind of fact-free, how-dare-you defense only a Beautiful Person could get away with.

Her campaign is still looking for “evidence.” In the meantime they’ll be praying the story goes to the Happy Hunting Ground, just like her demands to a New York reporter that her $1.7 million teepee in Cambridge be considered “off the record.”

The fact is, you can’t get much lower than being accused of being a fake Indian. It puts you in the same category as that pony-tailed fraud from the University of Colorado, Ward Churchill. You remember, the fake Indian who said all the people murdered in the World Trade Center on 9/11 were “little Eichmanns.”

Now she claims she doesn’t “recall” if she played the race card when she applied for her big-wampum $350,000-a-year job at Harvard Law. You see, it was so many moons — I mean years, ago. Sounds like a lot of bull — Sitting Bull.

No wonder she thinks she laid the intellectual foundation for the Occupy Movement. She sees all those tents and lean-tos and flashes back to the Cherokee and Apache encampments of her youth.

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