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October 2011 Archives

October 1, 2011

"Spenditol" Satire a Growing Web Hit

Instead of just moralizing about big government spending, Concerned Women for America decided to satirize it--and the philosophy that rationaizes it. Just go to

October 3, 2011

"Ecocide" Can Put you in Jail

It turns out that "Ecocide" is not wanton destruction of the environment, but merely, say, drilling for oil. It is another former of progressive loathing of Western society. Discovery Fellow Wesley Williams describes.

October 5, 2011

Hemp Party Seeks to Answer Tea Party


Those infuriating Tea Party activists, with their middle class smiles, middle aged bulges and Constitutional ideas, finally are being answered by a new movement of The People, "Occupy Wall Street," or (I suggest), the "Hemp Party" ("Help Employ Millions of Protestors"). Since the media are frolicking in this latest reunion of the various tie-dyed "Peace" marches of the Bush years--that was the time before, as you probably have noticed, wars completely ended in the Middle East and elsewhere under Barrack Obama--you can be sure that the Hemp Party will mobilize nation-wide, wherever a TV camera is found. The "real America" that emerged in Madison, Wisconsin to fight budget cuts is now showing itself in such other completely representative communities as Berkeley, Seattle, Boulder and Cambridge.

The "Wall Street" antagonism by itself is not broad enough, or intelligible enough, to suffice for a mass movement, of course. But if you add to "Eat the Rich" banners and class resentment themes (ignoring how the "rich" actually voted and donated in the 2008 elections), build on the overwhelming popular demand for government subsidies of wind power and solar energy, prevention of new nuclear power and oil drilling, ever more federal stimulus funds to prevent government workers from joining the private sector in the unemployment lines, and then throw in pot legalization and same sex marriage and you have the makings a true reply to the Tea Party at last.

Boy, will that show the powers in Washington, DC! The elite in the White House, the Senate, the media, academia, foundations, lobbying firms, law firms, non-profits, Big Labor and Big Business Pacs are finally going to hear from The People. Oh, wait! These "People" who are mobilizing are the same ones who supported the current power elite in Washington! Many are part of it.

Hmmm. How does this work? Oh, I got it; instead of "Throw the rascals out!", the slogan of "Occupy Wall Street"--and the Hemp Party--will be, "Keep the rascals in!"

Someone, quick, alert NPR.

Getty Images

How Vladimir Putin Lost a Chance to Become George Washington

By Yuri Mamchur

george-washington.jpgIn the 1700-s British King George III called George Washington "The greatest man in the world." American history is taught well in Russian public schools, but probably wasn't delivered as well during the Soviet times when Vladimir Putin was a boy. Had Putin looked into the history books, he would've found out that he had given up the opportunity to become the Greatest Man in Russia's history. In fact, he lined himself up to become one of the less impressive men in history, one whose personal hobbies and views, combined with age and historically long terms at the steering wheel (surpassing even Stalin) may lead to some results other than a free market economy...

What is the secret sauce for being the "Greatest Man in the World?" It is simple: be humble. Or as Bob Lefsets, an LA-based music producer says about the record industry and technology at large, "It's all about the timing." Putin failed at both. Unfortunately, his failures are much more than just his personal business. What really hurts is the fact that Putin built a strong, wealthy country and the momentum of that could have made Russia a role model to all, including the United States - responsible spending, non-involvement in foreign affairs, strong financial system, and... That's where the list ends. When talking to a Moscow friend, I mentioned Putin's accomplishments, to which he responded, "What do all of them mean if he failed at the most important thing -- grooming the leadership among the future generations."

In 1775, when George Washington accepted command of the Continental Army, he promised Congress he would resign his commission when the war was over. Once the British withdrew, he was true to his word. Just before then, Washington had been approached by the officers who pledged their support if he decided to seize civilian power. In response, General Washington scolded the conspiring officer.

Continue reading "How Vladimir Putin Lost a Chance to Become George Washington" »

October 10, 2011

Wicked Wall Street Sitting on IPOs?

The rich not only seem determined to ignore the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, leaving reactions up to the politicians, they also seem to be putting off the economy's future. A CNBC interview reveals that there are nearly 600 IPOs (initial public offerings) waiting in the pipeline, and some more in a "dark pipeline" that analysts don't even know about. The explanations seem highly contingent; e.g., what's going to happen to the EURO? But surely it all boils down to uncertainty about the future of the economy.

Failure to invest in new businesses is part of a downward spiral. No new jobs in new businesses is the problem. The President's $447 billion stimulus bill to preserve local and state government jobs for another year is not the solution to that problem, but an exacerbating factor.

It doesn't go with the familiar rhetoric, but it is a fact that most of the rich were Obama supporters in 2008 and so were the office-holders who put in place the mortgage regulations and banking rules under which we live today. If today Wall Street employees and partners are scared, and if people on Main Street are unhappy that they can't get loans for small businesses and if old people are finding that their life savings are producing nothing (e.g., .75 percent per year) that can even catch up with inflation, whose fault is that? Wall Street greed? Or government incompetence?

If you are hesitant in this economy, welcome to the club. From great to small, people are afraid to commit whatever funds they have. Is this the proper environment for a "Soak the Rich" campaign?

October 11, 2011

Funding "Occupy Wall Street"

A certain amount of political "populism" is spontaneous, but someone usually pays for professional coordination, common signage, PR agents, stages and porta-potties. In the series of anti-free-trade demonstrations that started with anti-WTO riots in Seattle in December, 1999 ("The Battle in Seattle"), a major funder behind the scenes was Douglas Thompkins, founder and seller of Esprit clothes and North Face. For galloping hypocrisy it would be hard to match Mr. Thompkins, a very rich man who was anti-rich, a free trade beneficiary who fought free trade, an antagonist of high technology whose minions made early use of cell phones and social media to organize.

Continue reading "Funding "Occupy Wall Street"" »

October 12, 2011

Cell Phones, the New Cigarettes


Chiropractors are warning about the new malady of "text neck," what you get from craning your cranium too much and too often in the direction of your cell phone or similar device.

Cell phones are useful, of course, but also over-used. They are the cigarettes of our time, a handy way to look busy and cool while achieving essentially nothing. In an elevator or escalator they are a prop, something to take your embarrassed boredom away from the moment and project it elsewhere--the eternal cyber-consciousness where everything is more interesting than whatever is happening wherever one happens to be.

Remember Bogey dragging on a smoke while waiting for gangster to show up, or the image of a famous writer at his typewriter (a pre-computer device once upon a time employed for text development), tapping ponderously on his cig between taps on his keyboard? Can't smoke like that any more. Smoking conveys anxiety now, not coolness. But, except in church or a meeting with your immediate boss, feel free to text away or even to sprint out of a meeting to take a cell phone call. Maybe it's a message from your chiropractor.

October 21, 2011

Liberated Seattle

iPhone Pic.jpg

"And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares, that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away."
--Longfellow, The Day is Done

Autumnal showers glance off Westlake Park as I roll down my car window and take this snapshot. "The Occupation" is over, the occupiers who late struck revolutionary poses in their $300 Banana Republic pea coats have now struck their $500 REI tents, instead, and departed for a camp-out at City Hall. Since the "po po" moved into Westlake yesterday morning and, with fastidious delicacy, cleared the area, $170 Nikes no longer patrol the barricades of imagination, $450 "Enzo jackets" from North Face are back on their hooks at Starbucks and the University of Washington. Today the blue $88 worker shirts from J. Crew (so redolent of the Wobblies, though made in Thailand) are sloshing around Mom's washing machine.

The pathway to Nordstrom's and Macy's is clear again.

Sic Semper Inanis.

October 24, 2011

Protecting "Public Intellectual Life"


"Progressives" in science and other fields increasingly deal with serious opponents by belittling them and ruling their arguments out of order. That wouldn't matter in a free debate, but the left wing in science also disallows debate. That way they are allowed to mischaracterize their opponents' positions and the opponents cannot correct the record in a reply. You will not see a pro-intelligent design article in the New York Times, for example.

The situation is a bit better in England, where, despite the absence of a First Amendment, journalists seem to admire a good joust. The most recent case was an announcement by Richard Dawkins that he would not debate American theist William Lane Craig on the existence of God because Craig supports "genocide". This claim is bizarre, but quite in keeping with Dawkins and the bullying "New Atheists". The true motivation, of course, is that Dawkins is afraid of Craig. There's nothing new there.

What is unusual is that in this case Dawkins was taken to task by Tim Stanley in the London Telegraph last week. And this week a sceptic at the generally left wing Guardian, takes Dawkins apart for anti-intellectualism.

The tactics of Dawkins and other New Atheists, says Came, are "fundamentally ignoble and potentially harmful to public intellectual life." The only deficiency in that sound characterization is the qualifier "potentially". The dead hand of dogmatism is all over philosophical questions in biology today.

Nov. 5: "National Day of Disinvestment"


Prepare for the next big wave of protest--a week from Saturday!

The hints are at the Occupy Seattle website.

One of the problems of having a participatory democracy "assembly" is that the note-taker may spill the beans on the group's plans. That seems to be the case today.

One item discussed in yesterday's mass meeting of 25 people--and put online--was "Planning action for November 5 National Day of Divestment." The notetaker dutifully follows up with the importance of "Keeping quiet to avoid screwing it up," and then puts that admonition online, too. "Next week" the group will communicate with the media, say the notes. Get your TV camera crews ready, Mr. Ed!

Elsewhere on the Occupy website there is a note that the group is "working on (its) first possible demand," that the City of Seattle disinvest from Wells Fargo Bank." And the group also wants discussion of a new "national bank" (e.g., a government bank).

So, we'll watch to see if the Occupy Wall Street (Des Moines, Las Vegas, etc.) movement will cooperate nationally on a call for people to take their accounts out of banks (private banks are evil, after all). In their place, the Obama Administration should open a new, government bank. Talk about "too big to fail"!

This idea seems to me like a definite dead end, a bridge too far, even for the left. If there is one thing people don't want to do it is take their money out of a bank and hand it to the government. Maybe some of the Occupy crowd, who get donations from public employees unions, would rather that money go to government employee credit unions as an option. The trouble is, some of these credit unions are complaining that they have more money than members' requests for loans these days. Prudent government employees, like folks in the private sector, are saving rather than spending, which is a drag on the economy. That's one reason your money isn't earning much interest at any bank.

One can only hope, however, that the Occupy crowd go through with their "demand" for a government bank. Imagine. Instead of dealing with a smiling bureaucrat at Chase or Bank of America, and waiting twenty minutes on their phone lines for service, you soon will be able to go to an unsmiling bureaucrat at a government-run bank and wait for days on their lines. Perhaps the new bank can be assigned as a new role for Fannie Mae. Are you excited yet?

Meanwhile, in Seattle, at least, there are knots of demonstrators back at Westlake Park downtown. One suspects that has something to do with the free food dispensed there.

Photo: Seattle Times

October 27, 2011

What Will Euro Plan Cost USA?

Rep. Rodgers

News of another European Union deal to bail out Greece was greeted with a huge stock market rally in many countries today. But is there a hidden barb in the deal for the United States?

Already dealing with our own financial problems, the US continues to supply one third of the funds for the International Monetary Fund, whence cometh the relief of European banks.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane, Vice Chairman of the Republican House Conference, has warned repeatedly of US exposure to European debt repayment plans. In a press release today, she noted, "Before today's agreement, the IMF had already committed $354 billion to bailing out European governments. After today's agreement was reached, IMF Director Christine Lagarde announced, 'I can assure you that the IMF will continue to play its part in supporting the efforts made today.' According to news reports, that means the IMF is poised for a 'bigger role.'"

"The U.S.," McMorris Rodgers says, "is the leading contributor to the IMF. In 2009, when the IMF substantially increased its SDR Special Drawing Rights (SDR) allocation, the U.S. provided one-third of the funding. According to IMF rules, the U.S. has the power to veto all bailout agreements."

The Congresswoman called for America to decline to finance European debt.

October 28, 2011

Getting Out to "Talk with the People"

One of the most disingenuous tropes in American political life is that of the presidential candidate who flies around the country so that he or she can "listen to the ordinary people." That is what President Obama says he is doing. But if you ever have been around such a junket you know that the President or other candidate does little or no "listening" to anyone, especially ordinary people. The folks on a rope line or rally would be lucky to get to shake his hand. Even the kind of people who pony up $38,500 for dinner with him at a partisan fundraiser get, at most, a chance to have a personal picture taken with him in the VIP reception line.

Indeed, one of the problems of politics is that national candidates really don't get to know ordinary people. Everything is staged for media. If they didn't know them before getting elected, chances are, they won't get the opportunity. What they get, instead, are polls and as they travel brief exchanges--maybe--with local political leaders (formerly known as "bosses").

In addition, there is something peculiarly false about a candidate, like President Obama, going around the nation saying he finds the views of people in the country refreshing in contrast to those "back in Washington." As James Freeman noted on the Wall Street Journal politics blog today (subscription required), President Obama not only doesn't hear any local people's opinions on these trips--and rather spends his time telling them his opinions (via teleprompter)--but he also is the champion of concentrating more an more power in the very "Washington, DC" he claims to shun.

There are few national Republican candidates doing real retail politicking these days, either. One exception might be former Sen. Rick Santorum, roaming Iowa in a camper with some of his family, and nearly going door to door. There still is a chance is small town Iowa or New Hampshire to do that. Better funded candidates, meanwhile, still fly around from one staged event to another. They get a chance to speak to the people, not with them.

October 31, 2011

Cane Cain or MoveOn.Cain?

Much is being said and written about the charges that Politico asserts were leveled against Cain by one, maybe two, women some twenty years ago. His behavior, the women supposedly alleged, was "inappropriate".

This kind of media attack actually may help Cain with conservative Republicans, most of whom have little patience for what they regard as biased, partisan and hyprocritical media. They might start by examining which of the current media accusers had a very different--and skeptical-- atittude about the charges against Bill Clinton in the 90s. Most of those charges actually were true, though some may have been exaggerated. Yet they perversely gave rise to an increase in popularity for the President. He had many new friends in Hollywood and Silicon Valley standing up for him as a result. A whole new political campaign group was born:

In Cain's case, it is hardly surprising that he might be sued. Almost everyone in positions of authority gets sued these days, for the good reason that the accusers get publicity and may get money. The heads of major businesses and groups like the American Restaurant Association are well advertised targets for sex discrimination and sex harrassment suits of various kinds. Anyone in media ought to recognize the dangers of adventitious lawsuits by employees looking for revenge or the Main Chance. Next to winning the lottery, a suit against an important person--if it has "Sex" in the first line--has public appeal. Many companies and even federal agencies find it cheaper to pay off the compainant--er, make a settlement--than to go through expensive, protracted litigation.

Continue reading "Cane Cain or MoveOn.Cain?" »

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