Friday, August 28, 2009

Upon hearing that Michael Dukakis might be given the Kennedy ancestral Senate seat if the planned corrupt bargain is concluded, I wondered what had happened to the loser of the '88 presidential election. Apparently, he's been serving on the board of directors of Amtrak, of all blasted things. Other than that, he's been teaching college students at undistinguished universities, and pushing for the re-introduction of hoary old political machine tactics in Democratic electioneering. At first, I marveled that a former Democratic candidate for president had been reduced to stirrup-holding for the Kennedy clan until they can get their affairs in order & reclaim the family Senate seat. Now I'm just glad that somebody's doing something to keep Mike out of the gutter.
You know, I kind of think Glenn Beck's a little unhinged. Hard to take in large doses - paranoid, over-the-top, more than a little strident. Since I don't bother with cable, I don't even watch the show, although I listen to him on the radio when I'm out and about.

But this is rubbish, and actively wicked public behavior on the part of the activists & the gutless companies. I see Applebee's is on that list; I was thinking of taking my parents out to there this weekend.

I won't now.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Stuff like this is nauseating. It's a classic example of what I was talking about earlier about the channels of communication external to rhetoric. The student was speaking the *words*, the rhetoric which he personally had chosen, but unbeknownst to him, an alien and satirical non-verbal framing was being used against him by the interview team to undermine and negate his message, his idea. He was made a mockery of - completely, totally and entirely without recourse to any sort of overt rhetoric.
One of the more irritating offhand comments from an older woman in the line for the Specter town hall earlier this month was something to the effect that she could change my mind if I only went to her meetings for a sustained period of time - the insinuation was of weeks of discussion, as if her stance was so sophisticated and well-substantiated that it couldn't be grasped without long hours of detailed explanation. I'm willing to bet that she was some sort of instructor, and probably in the education department. Some of these folks seem to think that the only thing lacking in our enlightenment is a proper period of enforced indoctrination, of the proper hours spent in the pews listening from the first exordium to the last peroration. These guys. They just don't seem to get that their facts are, perhaps, not facts at all, but rather, framing devices, elaborately and tediously disguised rhetoric.

Ironically enough, I also talked to said evangelical of the single-payer faith about rhetoric, words, and ideas, and whether there was something in politics beyond rhetoric, and whether rhetoric held primacy. I suggested that the ideas behind the words were more important than the words themselves, and that there was not a single channel of communication. She thought I was talking about violence, but what I meant was comportment - those nonverbal expressions of intent and ideals. Ah, well.
Well, I guess I'm back in harness with the Scrantonites and Ronulans. I finally got around to all the bureaucratic nonsense I'd been putting off, including moving my voter's registration. I asked Big Dave if I was a Republican or a Democrat, and he said "Republican". Good enough for me.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ways in which this little remembrance day for the Abomination Which Walked Like A Kennedy reminds me that I should count our blessings:

Obama could have been a drunken, entitled serial philanderer with a predilection for public sexual assaults. He hasn't been swiving press nymphets in the White House pool, no matter how much they'd probably appreciate it.

Obama could have been a man who embodied the worst sort of incestuous political oligarchy. He isn't a child of privileged, aristocratic wealth.

Obama could have harnessed an actual talent for legislative affairs to his abhorrent political beliefs and goals. His demonstrable parliamentary mediocrity is a blessing, really.

Obama hasn't abandoned allies to a terrible death in Communist concentration camps, or financed leftist groups to kill and terrorize members of an ethnic group which he has a personal hatred for. Yet. But best to keep an eye on Honduras and the rest of the Caribbean, I suppose.

So congrats, Edward! Your timely death has gone a small distance in reconciling me with President Obama.
Obama used the phase "bold, persistent experimentation" in re-nominating Bernanke? I wonder if Bernanke grimaced? You know a crock of liquid feces is about to fall on your head whenever a pundit or politician pulls that one out of the mothballs. Some quick googling shows that even conservative types have foolishly the phrase, so it isn't as if it's a partisan thing... it's just a marker that the speaker hasn't bothered to read the Forgotten Man, or any other useful book on the era.
And another thing: what's this rubbish about saying nothing bad about the deceased? What's the societal value in this? Making the bereaved feel better? The only reason I can think of is the avoidance of blood feuds, wherein maligning Cletus's late, drunken clod of an uncle will cause Cletus and all of his mean-tempered kin come knocking on your door to club in your pointed skull. I'm not sure I feel the need to buy into that kind of clannish customary law.

Grace? Grace is how political losers demonstrate moral superiority. Nobody ever lauds grace in a winner, and in the rare cases where they do, it's the sort of lordly grace where the serf is allowed his "dignity", to crawl away in silence and solitude to recoup what hath been taken from him. No winner is owed a demonstration of "grace", and the last Senator Kennedy was nothing if not life's winner - a drunken, treacherous slob who reveled in familial privilege, a shake-and-bake aristocrat with his own political fiefdom, a senatorial seat left to him in entailment by his brother's political will, held by a family retainer in wardship until the advent of the young lord's majority.

Edward Kennedy was aristocratic swine. The legacy of the Kennedy family is an abomination, a living insult against the honor of the Republic.

Good men have bled and died to kill the idea of inherited power in this nation. Be damned to those who celebrate it with officious funerary rites!

Be damned to his bereaved, who are a pack of trust-fund parasites, no doubt squabbling sotto voce over his political legacy as they do their best to look solemn and miserable for the cameras!

Be damned to his mourners, who are the half of them slavish worshipers of oligarchy, and the rest idolaters of the State, and neither of them worthy of the franchise won for them by their ancestors and preserved for them by too few of their peers!
Steven Den Beste opines that the late Ted Kennedy loved his country, and did his best to serve it, and thus we should render unto his memory respect. If such was ever the case, I've never seen the evidence. That man conspired with the Soviets, supported ultranationalist and leftist terrorism in Northern Ireland, was instrumental in the deliberate betrayal of our allies in Indochina, and personally killed an innocent woman. If there is a hell, Edward Kennedy is burning in it tonight.

Note I say nothing of domestic affairs. I spit on his memory not because of political differences, but because I believe the man was the exact and perfect opposite of a patriot. So far as I can tell, he placed person, clan and ideology first, second, and third; his only allegiances to the nation were completely rhetorical in nature.

OK, OK. At least he wasn't a Trotsky.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

While I was walking home from the Dollar General with a couple two-liters, I had some kid in a sedan stop me looking for directions. He said he'd just moved into the neighborhood, and needed directions to the nearest Walmart. This was at the corner of Spring Street and Crawford Lane, way the heck up a hill way the heck away from any major roads, so either he was really lost or really had just moved.

I tried repeatedly to give him said directions, while avoiding the construction down on Water Street, but he was apparently so utterly new to town that he didn't even know what the Benner Pike was, and barely seemed cognizant of the existence of I-99. I suppose it didn't help that I couldn't remember the name on the sign for the mall exit for I-99 - Benner something or other, I thought.

BTW, don't believe this website - while it *is* Shiloh Road, that's not what's on the exit signs.

(google google google)

Dale Summit! Nobody I'm aware of considers this to be a real place, but it's there on the I-99 interchange's exit signs.

I was kind of tempted to ask him how he had gotten *into* town, as he didn't seem to know any of the roads leading into it.
Quote of the day:
When the leader of the free world is complaining about a posting on the former governor of Alaska’s Facebook page, he’s got problems.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Deutschland uber Alles? Is that a joke? Who the hell uses something like that in any context outside of a war documentary?
OK, that wasn't my finest hour, or four hours as it turned out.

Upon reflection I remembered that I had the evening shift today, so I could make that "public forum" Sen. Casey was holding in Lock Haven. I took the shortest route from Bellefonte to Lock Haven, only to find out the bridge on Rt. 150 between Mill Hall and Lock Haven was closed. That took a heck of a lot of searching around to find an alternate route - I'm not that familiar with Clinton County. I eventually found my way to the hall - a small-to-mid-size auditorium on the campus of Lock Haven University.

I got there about 8 AM, with the doors to open at 8:45, in expectation of a line. Instead, I found a small gaggle of aging and potbellied AFSCME members in t-shirts with armfuls of posters: "In America, Health Care Should be A Right" or something like that. A few actual people showed up, but there was never more than a hundred or so throughout the event, including staffers, press, activists, union members, and uniformed security. Pretty much a bust, but that's the kind of turnout you get when your advance notice is an email twenty-some hours before the event, and a small notice in the local paper. Who the heck reads the Lock Haven Express outside of southern Clinton County?

The senator wasn't there when it was time to start, so they hemmed and hawed and eventually put on his advance man & the "panel" of hard-luck storytellers who were supposed to soften us up & get us all weepy and open-pocketed. Did I ever mention how much I hate emotional blackmail? Even if it comes in the package of a somewhat young, attractive woman with a husband with Lou Gehrig's Disease. Hard cases make for bad law, and that goes double for health care law. Nerts to that.

It turned out that the senator had foolishly flown from Scranton to Lock Haven, only to find out that fog had socked in the field at Lock Haven. They wasted time and fuel circling, and eventually landed in Williamsport & drove to the event from there. They would have made better time if they had just driven from Scranton. Fools.

I hadn't realized how tall Casey is. He's thinner and taller than I'd expected. He's apparently on the Senate Health Committee, and is miserably proud of his bill. It's possible it's a radically different bill than the 1200-page House version which has been making the rounds, the binder he brandished didn't look nearly big enough to hold the House version. From what the man said over an hour of allegedly random questions from the audience, it's blindingly obvious that he doesn't take the CBO seriously, and has little to no understanding of economics, supply and demand, or basic cause and effect. He's not pushing single-payer like Specter is, but I think he's owned the current version of the bill more than Specter. Casey is unpersuadable, because he's invested in his pixy-dust fantasies of free health care, and apparently has a case of cognitive dissonance when it comes to the contradiction between cutting costs & expanding coverage.

I was a lot more quiet than I was last time with Specter, because the questions submitted before the senator arrived & the format suggested that there was at least a chance of my question coming up. Also, the room wasn't simpatico to my sentiments, and context is important, I guess. I did say some things, and caught a couple glares from the guy a couple rows ahead of me. Eventually, things had gotten too late for me to justify blowing off work, and I was starting to get mentally out the door.

That's when the senator started bragging about how wonderful Geisinger Health System was, how it was such a model of efficiency and effective cost-cutting, and how his bill had taken a bunch of lessons from Geisinger & was going to force those lessons on the rest of the industry. I got madder the longer I thought about that. If this private concern had done so well in fashioning solutions under the current system - why the hell shouldn't we just let Geisinger & their private imitators proceed? Why shouldn't we let the profit incentive give those innovators the success their innovations offer - lower costs, better service, popularity in the market? Senator Casey doesn't seem to conceive of a large-scale success which isn't predicated upon extensive intervention by the government.

Then some idiot started waxing poetic about the wonders of Canadian socialized medicine & how his wife's experience in a Montreal emergency room refuted all claims of rationing - this in response to a guy who said he had family in Canada & was worried about importing that model somewhere down the line. And the crowd of aging leftist sheep loudly approved the old fool's meaningless anecdote with a round of enthusiastic applause.

That was it.
I stormed out.
And not quietly, I sadly confess.

I'm ashamed of my behavior. Not that Casey doesn't deserve disrespect - he's a callow, ignorant empty suit who is where he is solely by family connection. But I should have just left, without loudly telling him to enjoy his echo chamber. It was... unproductive.

BTW, this analysis of the House version of the bill is a significant part of why I'm pissed about the prospect of passage today.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hmm. Senator Casey's holding "public forums" in Lock Haven & Johnstown tomorrow. That's a hell of a short notice. I sure as heck can't make those. Here's the details for anybody googling:
On Thursday, August 20th, I will be hosting two public forums to discuss the Affordable Health Choices Act, the Senate's Health Care Bill. Details for each forum are below. Please plan to come early. Doors will open an hour before each event and seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

Public Forum #1:

Thursday, August 20 at 9:45 am
Lock Haven University
Price Performance Center
Lock Haven, Pennsylvania
Doors open to the public at 8:45 am.
Seating is first-come, first-served.

Public Forum #2:

Thursday, August 20 at 2:00 pm
The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown
Living and Learning Center
Heritage Hall
Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Doors open to the public at 1:00 pm.
Seating is first-come, first-served.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Awful news last weekend. I hadn't even noticed that William Cahir had been called up again. I voted for him in the primary last year, although I probably wouldn't have voted for him in the general, given our disagreements on most domestic policy questions. He was a patriot and braver than I could hope to be. I greatly regret never having talked to him.

There's still a real war out there in central Asia, and it's looking increasingly nasty. Sgt. Cahir was in Civil Affairs, and was killed by direct fire. There's an ugly reality encoded in those two facts in combination with each other. I've heard the fighting in Helmand compared with Second Fallujah in intensity & scale. Michael Yon's been reporting significant British losses as well. There aren't nearly as many of our soldiers in Afghanistan as there are in Iraq, and they're much, much more exposed right now.

This isn't the end of this.

And the ugly truth is, the only reason we're there is pride and commitment. They're there because they've been committed, and it behooves us to break the notion that Americans can be out-waited, or scratched to death with ineffective little cuts. Vietnam & Somalia established an impression which has to be dispelled. Far more than in Iraq, which represents an actual strategic national and ideological interest, the Afghan War is being fought solely to kill the idea that America has no staying power.

Bill Cahir died as part of a plan to protect non-combatants on a battlefield. He gave his life for people he not only didn't know, but had most likely never even seen. He died to establish a certain idea of how American Marines behave, in fidelity to the laws of war & humanity. In the very best sense of the word, he died for pride. Pride that says our soldiers and marines fight within laws, that we as a nation fulfil our commitments, and our warriors are ever faithful.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Specter apparently was meeting with a party activist group prior to the open town hall, which explains the loud minority of passionate single-payer types in the crowd, up front-right. He apparently told them that the rest of us wouldn't be representative of the rest of America. Which he knows by telepathy, I guess. The polls don't bear out this belief, far as I can tell.
So, I went to the town hall with Senator Weathervane.

There was a big, fancy bus for one of the anti-reform groups, driving past the line of folks waiting outside the conference center. Way to buy into the Democrats' complaints about bussed-in ringers, you knuckleheads!

I'm not going to relate everything the old so-and-so said, because most of it was nonsense and the rest was boring. He kept going on about selling cantaloupes with his father in Wichita. And Bonus Marchers! At one point he kevetched about his WWI-era vet father never getting his $500 bonus. A bunch of us in the back asked, more or less simultaneously, if he'd retire if we gave him his father's $500.

Specter doesn't really sound like he's from Pennsylvania - it isn't an eastern accent, it isn't yunzer or hillbilly or anything like that. It isn't even recognizably immigrant like a couple of the questioners, one of which was somebody from coal mining country who him hell over cap-and-trade, and had an accent I couldn't place - sounded sort of like Welsh crossed with a Germanic dialect. But the way Specter talks... it's like the Senate has evolved its own microdialect, full of orotund wide vowels and pseudo-Southern gothic pretensions.

I had never realized just how big of a socialist tool Specter was. I guess I've never listened to more than five minutes of him, and never about this sort of thing. He was usually nattering on about Judiciary Committee stuff, now that I think about it. His biggest beef with the current health care bill is the lack of a single-payer system. I don't understand him - he goes on about balanced budgets, and line-item vetoes, and preserving jobs - and then turns around and demands gold-plated government health care, and cap-and-trade monstrosities, and the budget-busting stimulus act. He never talks about raising taxes, except that's the only way to square this circle of his.

He was *bragging* about his time on the Veteran's Affairs committee, and how wonderful the VA was as a model for public health care. Some sheep-like member of the single-payer herd in the front right of the room bleated something about the VA, civil service, and prison health care systems as marvelous examples of how to do public-option health care properly. I couldn't help myself - I yelled something along the lines of "prison health care for everyone!"

In short, Specter isn't really persuadable on the subject. He's home, and happy, and stubborn. As far as he's concerned, a woman's right to choose ends at the womb - government can't tell you to not have an abortion, but he wants 'em to hector patients about smoking, diet, and all the rest of the heavy hand of preventative care.

Monday, August 10, 2009

So, I'm in the new place, and cleaning out the old apartment. Good thing the landlady's getting rid of the carpets, because they're a mess in places. A bad, leaky roof will do that to you. Also, turns out there was a huge, nasty mold spot behind the apartment's refrigerator. Any suggestions on how to clean that up? Luckily it's not naked paint - some sort of plasticy-fabric-substance, like a rubberized weave. Also, what's best for cleaning out an under-used refrigerator with mildew issues? Vinegar?

Friday, August 07, 2009

So, another $2 billion for the Bonfire of the Ford Explorers. Girolamo Savonarola is alive and well, and he's pretending to be a deep ecology Watermelon.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

I guess one could say that President Obama cares less about the poor than a used-car salesman does.

Now, I don't think that's exactly fair - Cash for Clunkers is as much or more of a Congressional horror as it is a creature of the Administration. But the White House has made the decision to defer to Congress & enthusiastically supports, prepares, and serves for supper the monstrosities that careless blind giant vomits out upon the national kitchen table. Obama's minions are fully committed to this destruction of wealth, to this assault upon the resources of the industrious poor. It is a welfare program which transfers government funds to those who can *almost* afford new cars, while wasting marginal & distressed assets which would otherwise populate the purchasable stock for those with the time and skills to maintain creaky old vehicles who also are without the funds to buy new cars, even with a 4.5k helping hand by the government.

Frex - a guy here at work bought a new F150, a bigger truck, with a handshake deal with a third party who was going to buy his six-year-old extended-bed Ranger. That third party's planned financing fell through, and for a while this guy had two trucks (and two truck payments!) on his hands. The third party eventually re-negotiated a less generous financing plan, but my co-worker was stuck with the additional cost of carrying that payment for an extra month. Cash for Clunkers encourages people like my co-worker to buy, oh, I don't know, some hypothetical hybrid truck with miracle gas mileage, and destroy the Ranger. The struggling third-party buyer, who could barely wrangle financing for a six-year-old Ranger, would then be utterly SOL.

Update: This guy has a clever, if nasty, idea, but I rather think that if the Cash for Clunkers thing runs out, and many people follow his particular scam, that the resale value of CfC vehicles will be artificially depressed by the drug of his fellow scammers' assets on the market. Using assets to launder money tends to reduce the price of the asset in question in a manner roughly related to the convenience and difficulties of cleaning and the easiness of the unearned profit. In short, the transaction costs will consume some of the 4.5k, the final end-user will claim her share of the 4.5k, and a certain portion of the windfall will simply be a dead loss lost to the friction of the scam.

This is somewhat related to how my exploit of the first-time home buyer credit of this season will not be fully captured in value by yours truly, because I expect the asset I just bought was partially inflated by the prospect of the credit in the market. When December rolls around & the tax credit window closes, I expect that inflation will drain out of the market as well, thus reducing the apparent value of my asset. A certain part of that inflation was not real, but rather a temporary artificial fluctuation in response to the government incentive. The seller captured that portion of the value, insofar as I was willing to pay the premium. Now, it wasn't the full 8,000, because qualified first-time buyers are not the whole of the buying public - they aren't even a majority, although they might be a slight plurality. In weighing the advantages and disadvantages of this, I had to take into account the natural and direct governmental components in future inflationary trends, which *won't* disappear in December with the expiration of the first-time buyer tax credit.

Also, 8,000 is 8,000. I was willing to pay what I paid to get the house then. It was the reasonable cost of the asset, and if I can recapture some portion of that after the fact, great! But I don't expect to cash in on my place like a short-time investment. For one thing, I've committed to living in it for the medium-to-long term. I was living in the same rented apartment for nine years. I don't have happy feet.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Why does this chaos sound like a sheet metal postmodern reenactment of FDR's old herd slaughters? With the wrecking yards refusing to take economically ruined scrap cars, are they going to end up burying the 'clunkers' in mass graves in already half-regulated-to-death landfills?

Unintended Consequences, thy name is 'Efficiency by Diktat'!
I've made some progress this weekend - did some painting, got most of it done, although it looks like I will need to re-do the edging in the living room. I'm not so good with the paint brush, I'm afraid. I'm going to go ahead and schedule a steam-cleaning company for the first floor's carpets, to see if we can kill that cat-smell. Then, hopefully, start seriously moving this weekend coming up.