January 28, 2009

SWING AND A MISS

A lady here in town kept insisting to me that Bush was going to invade Iran before the end of his presidency. For months, she insisted that the "bombing," as she called it, that she was hearing from on post was the most frequent since the Gulf War, which obviously meant that Bush had something up his sleeve.

I tried to gently contradict her along the way, saying that a surprise attack using infantrymen from here in town would not be something that Bush could hide from all of us. Airstrikes, perhaps, but not a Normandy Beach-style invasion. And that maybe the added noise coming from post was just training for regular old Iraq and Afghanistan missions. She insisted that Bush was cooking something up.

So when I saw her today for the first time since Inauguration Day, can I tell you how badly I wanted to rub this in her face? How I wanted to point out that for months she insisted that she had knowledge of some nefarious plot to invade Iran that plain old did. not. happen. And that maybe next time she oughtn't speak in such bold, declarative statements.

But I didn't, because I am a lady. But dadgum, I got tired of being polite while listening to her conspiracy theories.

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January 24, 2009

NEW FOR THE SAKE OF NEW

Apparently there's been a suggestion made that, now that we have a black president, our schools should stop teaching The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird. The reasoning, as also blockquoted by Joanne Jacobs, is:

Those books are old, and we’re ready for new.

David Foster, who has made me think and smile for five years, reminded us of something he wrote back in 2003.

As C S Lewis said: If you want to destroy an infantry unit, you cut it off from its neighboring units. If you want to destroy a generation, you cut it off from previous generations. (Approximate quote.)

How better to conduct such destruction than to tell people that previous generations were ignorant and that we have nothing to learn from them?

I recommend reading his whole blog entry, as well as the Stuart Buck link he provides.

In the comments at Jacobs' blog, someone said that To Kill a Mockingbird gets less relevant the older you get. I 100% disagree. I read it first as a high schooler and then again when I was engaged. I wept through many passages, over the kind of man and father Atticus Finch is. I am certain that if I read it again now, now that we are trying to have children of our own, it would seem even more poignant.

Dangit, I'm gonna do that. I'm adding it to my George Bush 2009 Reading Challenge.

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PRIDE

Last year I wrote about how I'm not a citizen of the world. Victor Davis Hanson explains why:

Whether Obama is President or McCain had won, no matter; it is still the US, and as a Jacksonian I pretty much pull for America--all the time. I am not a Socratic citizen of the world--given the thugs that rule most of Africa, the creepy places such as Iran or Russia or North Korea, the land of the Lotus-eaters in Europe, or the tribal dictatorships I've seen in the Middle East

His main point is annoyance at how, all of a sudden, a bunch of people are now proud to be Americans again. Like those ridiculous celebrities who pledge to say hi to their neighbors now that Obama is president. Over and over I've seen people on Facebook and in articles say that they can finally stop pretending to be Canadian and be happy to be Americans again. What a douchey thing to say.

I am disappointed that Barack Obama is our president. But the United States is still a way better place to live than anywhere else on the planet. I'm still proud to live here, even though I think Pres. Obama is going to take us further in a direction I don't like and don't want to live in.

I know Europeans who are ashamed of their countries. I know more of them who just simply don't care, who don't know their own anthems, don't wear their own flags, and don't have a single ounce of national pride. I pity them. I wish they knew what it was like to feel what I feel, to be so happy to be a citizen of the greatest country ever conceived.

And for the record, I have never pretended to be Canadian...

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RUSH

Prez Zings GOP:

President Obama warned Republicans on Capitol Hill today that they need to quit listening to radio king Rush Limbaugh if they want to get along with Democrats and the new administration.

Who said anything about getting along? Despite all the talk of bipartisanship and reaching across the aisle, most people I know have core values that they don't compromise on. Rush Limbaugh's program is about those core values.

Deltasierra says it best:

People are allowed to be unhappy with Obama's election, and they're allowed to be critical of him and of the government.

I will be critical of the government till the day I die. It's the only way to stay free in a free nation. That's Limbaugh's job, and that of those who share his beliefs. Don't disparage him his freedom to speak what he believes.

Just FYI: He has repeatedly said, especially in the last few days, that he doesn't want Obama to be a failed president. He wants his socialist policies to fail.

I agree with him. I don't want government health care. I don't want my tax dollars to pay for other people's useless lives – and I don't want anybody else's tax dollars to fund my life! I don't want to try to be friends with terrorists and I don't want them in our jails, or set free to terrorize some more. I don't like Obama's policies. I have never made a secret of this, and neither has Rush Limbaugh or any other conservative talk show host I respect.

It makes me crazy that now that Obama has taken office, I am expected to put all my objections aside and adore this new president. I'm supposed to think of him as a blank slate – as if all his campaign promises just vaporized after he took the oath of office.

Sorry. No can do. I don't have warm, fuzzy feelings – I'm filled with a passion to keep our country free from the things Obama has promised he will try to do.

I too want to keep our country free from Obama's promises. Rush spreads that same message to 13 million people. That's a lot better than my 300...

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January 22, 2009

BOONDOGGLE

I am neither an economist nor a historian, but this article at Newsweek made my eyebrows raise:

The New New Deal: The WPA fixed the economy by creating unusual careers. Should that be the plan for today's unemployed Americans?

I actually was under the impression that WWII fixed the economy, but perhaps it was the fact that

In our nation's capital, more than 100 men were paid to scare off pigeons. In Brooklyn, men and women worked as fire hydrant decorators. And in Boston, the government sponsored a project to make fish chowder. Indian tribes were paid to create new totem poles and other artifacts. "Rhythmic dancing"—whatever that means—was also sponsored, as was craft-making, or what the Boy Scouts might have called "boondoggling." In fact, the term "boondoggle," meaning any job or activity that is wasteful or trivial, was inspired by just these sorts of WPA projects. The best example from the FDR years? Government-funded research on the production and efficiency of safety pins.

The link to this article is "Will a New WPA Create Boondoggle Jobs?" It sounds like the answer is yes. That previous paragraph is in defense of the WPA, for heaven's sake.

"As we know from watching Congress debate the recovery plan, lawmakers have a great ability to let [random projects] slide through," says Nick Taylor, the author of "American Made," a history of the WPA. "But you would hope that these new jobs would at least be interesting."

"Interesting." Not, you know, effective or necessary.

"Most of this work is not rocket science," Eisenbrey adds, mentioning the nearly 800,000 skilled construction workers currently unemployed. What will these men and women build? Unlike 70 years ago, we should expect largely incremental improvements to existing structures rather than new projects built completely from scratch.

"Since so many of these new plans involve laying pipes in the ground, retrofitting buildings or improving public transportation," says Peter King of the American Public Works Association, "we're not going to be able look at different places and say, 'This project came from this investment.'"

Ah, I see. So we won't really know what our money is actually being spent on, and we won't be able to point to any improvements and say that they were a direct result of this new WPA. But we definitely need to do this to "fix the economy." Just trust us.

And this is my favorite part, the bold being mine.

So while we may not end this economic downturn with a slew of new parks and pools, we could end up with other unexpected benefits: for example, completely public wireless Internet access; a shorter commute on newly decongested highways; or, for those who live in cities, subway cars that aren't so crowded.

In an article about how the original WPA fixed the economy, the journalist says that we "may not end this economic downturn" with any of these projects, but at least we'll all get some free stuff out of it. And by "free," I mean "at a huge waste of taxpayer money for make-work nonsense."

Oh, this part is good too:

Alas, financing the arts isn't a priority in the new recovery plan, so bohemian types might want to consider teaching, fire-fighting or policing, all public sector jobs that will get a boost along with the infrastructure investment. Not interested? The WPA was often criticized (and occasionally challenged in court) for not providing the sort of employment that Americans were seeking.

"Alas"? I say more like thank heavens.

"Not providing the sort of employment Americans were seeking." If that doesn't make you guffaw, I don't know what does. So supply had nothing to do with demand. The Obama administration will invent a bunch of green jobs, and if a green job isn't what you want, tough toenails for you. We create jobs that we think are for The Greater Good, demand be damned.

Only in retrospect, and with the sheen of Walker Evans' photography, has the WPA gained glory.

Snort. If the glory of your program is only to be found in photos of people doing jobs that didn't need to be done, your program is hogwash.

The last line of the article:

Now get to work, Congress, so we all can work, too.

First of all, is this an article or an editorial? Secondly, gag. Pass this into law, Congress, so we can start wasting a bunch of taxpayer money to make everything eco-friendly.

Incidentally, via Greg Mankiw, the effects will not be felt for quite some time:

It will take years before an infrastructure spending program proposed by President-elect Barack Obama will boost the economy, according to congressional economists.
[...]
The economy has been in recession for more than a year, but many economists believe a recovery may begin by the end of 2009. That would mean that most of the infrastructure money wouldn't hit the economy until it's already on the mend.

The economy will recover on its own, like the Great Depression economy eventually did, and everyone will heap praise on Obama because his make-work silliness just happened to coincide with the rebound.

Yeesh.

It's only day three of this administration? I'm going to have a heart attack.

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January 18, 2009

GRRR

I knew I was setting myself up to be irritated when I clicked on the MSN link called Are We A New Nation Now? But I didn't really think it was worth blogging about until I got to the end.

And 2009 is only the beginning of the story. According to Pew, if current trends continue, the U.S. population will rise from 296 million in 2005 to 438 million in 2050. Eighty-two percent—let me repeat that: 82 percent—of the increase will be attributable to immigrants arriving after 2005 and to their descendants. By that point, whites may make up only 47 percent of the country, ending centuries of a majority-white America.

Will the journey be smooth? That is doubtful. Politics can quickly turn mean. In hard economic times there is often a search for an "other" on which to blame the problems of life. In the wake of a possible terrorist attack, fear could easily lead to tension, resentment and discord. The good news about America, though, is that for all of our nativist fevers and periodic witch hunts, we tend, often after having exhausted every other option, to do what is right.

"Do what is right." You know, vote Democrat.

Grrr.

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January 13, 2009

BROUGHT TO YOU BY CARL'S JR

Today is the first day in a long time that my husband has gone to work and I've stayed home. When he's here, I stick to him like glue. And there have even been a couple of days where I worked while he was at home. Hence the lack of blogging; who wants to sit at the computer when the coolest person on the planet is in her living room?

Yesterday at work, I witnessed another example of what Rachel Lucas would label as Idiocracy Watch. Three women were trying to figure out the price of an item that was $5 and 70% off. They never even came close to guessing, just urging each other to figure it out. One of them eventually took her cell phone out and said, "Five...times...seven...zero...aw man, there's no percent function." So she deleted the math and started over, ending up in the same conundrum. It was what plants crave, seriously. Percent function? Dang. Finally, they turned to me and asked me what the price would be. I said that half of $5 is $2.50 and half of that again is $1.25, so it'd be somewhere around $1.40. They looked at me like I had explained relativistic physics.

Oy.

idiocracy.jpg

I know I bragged about knitting math, but really, I'm not that good at math. I can do arithmetic and algebra. And usually I prefer scratch paper. I would've struggled for a few moments to figure out 38% of a number. But 70% of a nice round number like five? Yeesh. And I was even WRONG by ten cents, so shame on me a little. But that was off the top of my head in about 15 seconds, so close enough. Closer than they got, which was "I was told there would be no math in shopping."

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January 07, 2009

RANT

AirForceWife sent me a link to a heck of a rant...

I’m pissed off by how soft many in our nation have become. How whimpy the tone, how spineless the resolve. What happened to that brutally real notion that people should be held responsible for his or her actions? Nowadays, it always seems to be someone else’s fault, whatever it is. Got a life of poverty, it’s rich folks doing it to you.

Alcohol addiction, substance abuse, your mother never said she loves you. Having trouble finding work, it’s the white, black, purple guys keeping you down. Your car company is going under, it’s the unfair business practices abroad and an economic downturn. Hey, nimrods – newsflash. LIFE IS HARD. The End. Get used to it, suck it up, get some spine, invent some if you have none, and GET ON WITH IT!!!!

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January 02, 2009

STOP IT

Was logging off to go to bed and saw an article that got my blood all angered up.

Motorists are driving less and buying less gasoline, which means fuel taxes aren't raising enough money to keep pace with the cost of road, bridge and transit programs.

That has the federal commission that oversees financing for transportation talking about increasing the federal fuel tax.

STOP TAXING US! Don't you take enough already? For the love of all that is holy, find the money to fix roads in the huge sum of taxes you already take from us.

The National Commission on Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing, a 15-member panel created by Congress, is the second group in a year to call for increasing the current 18.4 cents a gallon federal tax on gasoline and the 24.4 cents a gallon tax on diesel. State fuel taxes vary from state to state.

In a report expected in late January, members of the infrastructure financing commission say they will urge Congress to raise the gas tax by 10 cents a gallon and the diesel tax by 12 cents to 15 cents a gallon. At the same time, the commission will recommend tying the fuel tax rates to inflation.

So the government takes 18¢ per gallon and wants to take 28¢. From TaxFoundation.org, "Today, U.S. consumers pay an average of 45.9 cents per gallon in gasoline taxes. The federal gasoline excise tax is 18.4 cents per gallon while the average state and local tax is 27.5 cents." The oil companies only make something like 10¢ profit on each gallon. And boy, do people like Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi like to go on and on about the obscene profits Big Oil makes.

The dilemma for Congress is that highway and transit programs are dependent for revenue on fuel taxes that are not sustainable. Many Americans are driving less and switching to more fuel-efficient cars and trucks, and a shift to new fuels and technologies like plug-in hybrid electric cars will further erode gasoline sales.

According to a draft of the financing commission's recommendations, the nation needs to move to a new system that taxes motorists according to how much they use roads.

So we're driving less and saving Mother Earth, but now that's bad because we're not paying enough in taxes. Hey, maybe they can do this thing Neal Boortz wrote about: In 2006, Oregon was considering outfitting all cars with GPS and monitoring how many miles you drive, then taxing you per mile. Hooray for Big Brother.

Charles Whittington, chairman of the American Trucking Associations, which supports a fuel tax increase as long as the money goes to highway projects, said Congress may decide to disguise a fuel tax hike as a surcharge to combat climate change.
[...]
"Instead of calling it a gas tax, call it a carbon tax," Whittington said.

Oh no, you did not just say that out loud. You're going to use PC buzzword bullcrap to hide a new tax, making people feel good because they're paying some imaginary carbon offset nonsense.

Stop taking our freaking money!

The ridiculous part of all of this is that roads is the one thing I think government should do. Sadly, instead they've wasted all our money on bailouts and wool research and rum rebates to Puerto Rico.

Grrr.

Makes me want to go drink a Sam Adams and throw some tea in a harbor.

Posted by: Sarah at 05:09 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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