Sunday, September 28, 2008
I exchanged some comments with visitor Merge Divide of Serendipity to my post McCain Wins Debate, Loses News Analysis , and then to Joe Biden’s Hot “Potatoe” . Among the issues we argued about was the Drudge Report poll that showed that 68% of 426,408 voted that McCain won the debate with Obama.
The following are comments from Merge Divide followed by my replies. I attempted to reply via my comments utility, but my reply was rejected because it was too long for the software, so I decided to make it as this post.
Let the discussion begin:
Merge Divide, you wrote: “I'm not suggesting you denied low expectations for Obama."
Maybe that is not what you consciously intended, but it was a clear implication. Go back and read it with fresh eyes.
My reply: I went back and read it with fresh eyes. I’m not sure what I consciously intended, but I wrote: "In a nutshell, the media said Obama exceeded their low expectations, and McCain fell short of their high expectations. Actually, Merge Divide wrote just about the same."
You wrote: Show me where the MSM claimed that McCain was "afraid to debate Obama".
My reply: Even Bill Clinton got in on the controversy when he heard McCain was accused of trying to duck debate with Obama. "Bill: McCain not ‘afraid’ of Obama debate"
You wrote: You may believe that "McCain easily handled Obama", but it is quite obvious that the majority of viewers disagreed with you. Or do you maintain that the Drudge Report poll was a statistically significant report that followed a considered analytical methodology?
My reply: Where are your polls showing the majority of viewers thought Obama won? I just saw two unscientific snap polls among selected groups of urban viewers that indicated Obama by a show of hands, or some equally improper polling method.
You wrote: Are you really so naive about how the internet works that you believe that 30 million different viewers visited that site on one day? Do you know the difference between hits and "unique visitors"? Why were there only 400,000 votes, and why do you think people didn't vote multiple times?
My reply: I never stated any belief, I just copied and pasted the “Visits to Drudge” counter information, just as I do here:
VISITS TO DRUDGE 9/28/08
20,375,310 IN PAST 24 HOURS
764,794,544 IN PAST 31 DAYS
6,577,728,261 IN PAST YEAR
Even the simple counter I have on my blog can distinguish unique from repeat visitors.
I don’t know why only 400,000 voted, just like I don’t know why eligible voters do or don’t vote in general elections. I do know that the Drudge poll only allowed one vote per IP Address because that was my experience when I voted, same as for other computer polls I have experienced.
My modest system tells me that you are IP Address 18.104.22.168 on Verizon from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and visited at 9:52:12 am, Sep 28, 2008 for 7 minutes and 55 seconds. Your previous visit was Sep 27 2008 4:49:42 pm. I assume Drudge has something more sophisticated than the simple software I use.
You wrote: Finally this comment: "Even in the UK they recognize that Drudge is the most influential news source in the world."
That's completely absurd. If you are going to make that sensational a claim, you should be able to source it. Go ahead...
My reply: The Telegraph (UK) picked Drudge as the third most influential US conservative, and had this to say about his importance: "When Matthew Nathan Drudge, 41, makes a move, the American news agenda and body politic shift with him. His Drudge Report website is the most influential news aggregator in the world. Such is the volume of traffic he generates, newspaper websites he links to regularly crash under the tsunami of extra hits."
Another UK newspaper, The Guardian, rates Drudge number 7 on their list of websites that changed the world, and none of the websites rated above Drudge have news or political significance – ebay.com, wikipedia.com, napster.com, youtube.com, blogger.com, and friendsreunited.com.
According to The Guardian: "What began as a gossipy email newsletter has, since its first post in 1994, developed into one of the most powerful media outlets in American politics. Today the Drudge Report has evolved into a website, drudgereport.com, and its threadbare, no-frills design belies the scale of its influence. It received an estimated 3.5 billion hits in the last 12 months; visitors regard it as the first port of call for breaking news…
Drudge has been labelled a 'threat to democracy' and an 'idiot with a modem' as well as 'the kind of bold, entrepreneurial, free-wheeling, information-oriented outsider we need more of in this country' (by Camille Paglia); his importance in the US media is undisputed."
Of course, Time Magazine has noted Drudge’s importance, and included him on their list of the 100 most influential people in the world:
I await your comments.
Biden has been in the Senate long enough to participate in all the recent Democrat foul-ups. He exemplifies the motto: “If you have a little problem, give it to the Democrats and they’ll make it a big mess.” For example, Democrats are crying to control excessive executive compensation. As noted by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, "In 1980, CEOs were paid 40 times the average worker; today they are paid 600 times more."
According to the San Francisco Chronicle:
Many experts see the beginnings of the explosion of executive compensation pay as dating back to 1993 when Congress, responding to the outcry over executives' pay, banned companies from taking tax deductions of executive salaries greater than $1 million.
Charles Elson, a University of Delaware compensation expert, said companies quickly began getting around that limit by giving their CEOs stock options "and there was an overuse of options that basically put us in the pickle we are in today" regarding executive pay levels.
So the Democrats – in control of Congress for over forty years, and with a Democrat in the White House – fixed the problem then, and created the mess now.
While Palin gets grilled, Biden gets a free pass. Remember the uproar when Dan Quayle misspelled potato? Biden said his Democrat saint, FDR, was president when the stock market crashed in 1929, and that FDR immediately went on television to begin repairs. That was news to FDR and TV viewers. Biden also stated Democrat positions that were news to Obama, too.
Joe Biden, “only a heartbeat away.” Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Interestingly, the top three recipients of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were Chris Dodd, John Kerry, and Barack Obama in that order (Michael Reagan makes this point, but gets the order mixed up).
In an act of unbelievable chutzpah, the Democrats are blaming Republicans for what Democrats started, and claim Republicans blocked increased regulation when McCain’s efforts to increase it were blocked by Democrats.
In an effort to pin responsibility on Republicans, desperate Democrats have gone all the way back to 2000 to a bill sponsored by Senator Gramm, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, and claim it was passed and signed into law by President Clinton because no one had the time to read it (although in the same article the writer stated that Senator Gramm had introduced it earlier, and that even he thought it was dead).
Apparently it was read when first introduced, and in a last-minute rush the Democrats and President Clinton forgot what they knew about it and passed it anyway.
That’s right. The Democrats had enough members in the Senate in 2000 to filibuster any bill they didn’t like, and then there was President Clinton who could veto any bill he didn’t like in case the Democrats missed anything.
Then there has been the passage of eight years, the last two of which Democrats controlled the House and Senate. Somewhere in all that time they could have found time to correct something they thought they passed by mistake, don’t you think?
Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid keep saying they're in charge, but all they do is point fingers.
All my senses were engaged, and then I heard the verse: "Amics per sempre, means a love that cannot end," and I beheld a vision of Alice.
A couple of weeks ago we traveled in Guatemala. As we toured a museum in Antigua, I saw a delightfully sweet mural painted on the wall of an attached school playground. Alice and I had been traveling for almost two weeks, and we were both missing Buddy. As I looked at the mural, the dog on the left reminded me of our little "friend for life."
Here it is.
Actually, Merge Divide wrote just about the same.
Now the focus is on the Sarah Palin-Joe Biden debate, and the Main Stream Media doesn’t quite know what to set as expectations for Biden. If they use the same criteria as for John McCain, they have to set expectations for Biden high. After all, he’s been around the Senate awhile, and is a self-confessed expert on just about everything.
Sarah Palin, of course, should be cast in the “Obama” role, a neophyte of whom little is expected.
Therefore, applying the criteria used to analyze the McCain-Obama debate, if Sarah Palin is still standing at the end, she wins because she will have exceeded expectations, and Biden will not have met expectations since he didn’t knock her out.
Overlooked in all this is the way the MSM has overlooked Biden’s “Dan Quayle” moment. Somehow it seems to me to be more egregious that Biden didn’t know that his Democrat saint, FDR, was not president when the stock market crashed in 1929, and that television was still over a decade away.
What do you think? Isn’t Biden’s comment dumber than Dan Quayle not knowing that, unlike the plural “potatoes,” the singular has no silent “e”?
I hope that the commentators spare Sarah Palin the need to ask Joe Biden about his recent stated disagreements with some of Obama’s positions, including the Democrat’s ad poking fun at John McCain for not using a computer more (even though McCain’s war wounds make computer use difficult).
I agree with Biden on the things he said Obama got wrong, but I also agree with how Obama said McCain was right on a number of points.
Obama is learning, but he has a long way to go.
(On Drudge Report, Senator McCain beat Obama by more than 2 to 1, with 68 percent of over 384,000 votes cast.)
The Main Stream Media (MSM) set expectations low for Obama (after the debate was over), and then found he met or even exceeded their expectations. Also, they set expectations for John McCain very high (before the debate, the same MSM said that he was afraid to debate Obama), but after McCain won the MSM said he did not win by enough to meet their lofty expectations.
In other words, the debate itself was irrelevant, and one way or another the MSM was going to anoint Obama the winner.
This would be a neat concept to apply to sports. If a football team was favored by nine points, and only won by eight, their losing opponent would be declared the victor.
Clearly, all Obama has to do to win a debate is show up. If he’s still standing at the end, he will be declared the winner by the MSM on the basis that he met or exceeded their expectations.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
You notice many things while travelling in foreign countries that should be obvious, but just never come to mind while living in the United States. Last month in Guatemala my attention was drawn to farming.
When I was born in 1942, about twenty percent of Americans lived on farms. Now the number is only two percent, and the number of farms has shrunk from six million to two million. Conversely, the average farm size more than doubled, and farmers produced even more food at a cheaper cost to consumers on roughly the same amount of farmland. Scientific advances, mechanization, and specialization all contributed to increased productivity, and have made United States farmers the most productive and efficient in the world.
Much of the third world is going the other direction primarily because of their continuing population explosion. More people living on the same amount of land means less land to support each person. Farming in the United States never faced that dilemma, because the Industrial Revolution provided an outlet for the surplus farm population.
In fact, industrial needs were so great that scientific advances, mechanization, and specialization were driven as much to overcome farm labor shortages as they were to improve productivity. Even with the rapid improvements in farming methods, farm labor continued to be in short supply resulting in the “Wetback Movement” (commemorated by Lalo Guerrero and his masterpiece, "The Ballad of Pancho Lopez") and later what is now referred to as undocumented immigration.
Third world cities, on the other hand, can’t absorb their farming population surpluses effectively because they have neither the capital nor do they produce sufficient energy to meet the employment needs and living standards of their burgeoning urban populations.
However, that doesn’t mean the rural poor are content to stay on their farms just because their cities don’t have much to offer. The World War I song, "How 'Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm? (After They've Seen Paree)” can be applied to the rural poor in undeveloped countries. They don’t have to travel anywhere to “see Paree.” They see Paree, and LA, and New York, and London, and the other exciting world cities on TV every day. If their own county’s major cities can’t satisfy their dreams of a better life, they soon learn that they can join the ranks of the undocumented immigrants.
Hello, Los Angeles! New York! London! Amsterdam! Paris!
How do growing populations increase the number of farms and shrink their size?
I already explained how the Industrial Revolution caused the opposite in the developed world. Unfortunately, the Industrial Revolution bypassed the countries that are home to over half the world’s population.
Suppose a farmer has ten acres, and suppose he and his wife have ten children, five boys and five girls. Because of the small size of the farm, the lack of powered farming equipment and seeds to grow scientifically improved crops, and the great distance and lack of transportation to get crops to markets, the farm is diversified and primarily produces for consumption by the farmer and his family. If the farm was larger, and access to markets was better, the farmer could specialize and grow a cash crop. But that’s not the case.
The farmer has chickens, maybe a cow, probably pigs. He has to devote some of his time, land, and crops to them, because they will provide what little protein he and his family consume. Then there are the beans and corn, nutritious and filling staples that do well in storage if the farmer is careful. During harvest periods, the farmer will have tomatoes and other vegetables in excess that don’t store well. He can sell or trade his excess, although all his neighbors also have excesses of the same crops at the same time he does.
As the farmer’s children grow, their help with the work in the house and field is very useful, since the work requires physical labor because of the lack of powered farming equipment. However, at some point each child grows to be more of a burden on the family food supply than an asset. Fortunately for the farmer, at that point each girl is old enough to get married and leave to live with her husband’s family.
It’s the boys that are a problem. They’re going to stay, and want to get married, and add their wives and children to the growing burden on the land. Further, each new, young family will want to have part of the farm for their own purposes. The ten-acre farm that barely supported one farmer and his family becomes five two-acre farms supporting five young families and the aging farmer and his wife.
After this has repeated over several generations, and the population has far exceeded the carrying capacity of the land, a revolution is necessary for land reform to take it from the rich and redistribute it to the poor, because the rich won't just give it away.
Soon the poor farmers are back where they were before the revolution, only worse off because the country’s fund of capital, jobs, and skills has shrunk, and the aura of political instability will keep it that way.
I tend to believe the denials, since I have personally uncovered and exposed (perused by dozens of readers) instances where The Times published inaccurate and false reports (read by millions). Sometimes it’s hard for “truth will out” when the psychopathic misexpresser of the facts buys ink by the barrel and paper by the boxcar.
Regardless, I have so far read no reports from the accusing side that Mr. Davis did any lobbying since 2006 for Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. And Mr. Davis is, after all, only the campaign manager, not a voting Senator or presidential candidate.
In that regard, I have read several reports of lavish campaign contributions by Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac, primarily to Democrats chairing important committees. In fact, the largest recipient of Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac contributions is Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) chairman of the Senate banking committee, followed by John Kerry, then Barack Obama.
Besides not being mentioned in The Times article, The Times chose to ignore that Democrats accuse Senator McCain of opposing stricter regulation of financial markets, while not reporting that Senator McCain with three other Republicans co-sponsored legislation (S-190) to reform the government’s involvement in lending three years ago (2005), after an attempt by the Bush administration died in Congress two years earlier.
S-190, Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005 - Amends the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992 to establish: (1) in lieu of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), an independent Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Agency which shall have authority over the Federal Home Loan Bank Finance Corporation, the Federal Home Loan Banks, the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac); and (2) the Federal Housing Enterprise Board.
The establishment of the independent Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Agency by S-190, which was opposed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, was defeated by party-line voting by Democrats.
Referring to lobbyists, legendary former California Assembly Speaker (Democrat, naturally) Jesse M. Unruh said: "If you can't take their money, drink their booze, eat their food, screw their women and vote against them, you don't belong here."
Barack Obama, John Kerry, Chris Dodd, and many of their Democrat colleagues have failed the “Unruh test,” and don’t belong in leadership positions.
They took the money, then screwed us.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Alice just reminded me that a Democrat might stumble over this, and think: "What's the problem?" so I had better spell it out.
First, the stock market crash began October 28, 1929 and FDR became President over three years later on March 4, 1933.
Second, although experimental television broadcasts began in 1928, the first commercially licensed television stations weren't established until 1941 in New York and Pennsylvania.
As Joe Biden says: "Part of what a leader does is to instill confidence, is to demonstrate that he or she knows what they are talking about and to communicating to people...this is how we can fix this."
Joe, you're instilling a lot of confidence in Republicans by the way you're demonstating what you know. How are you going to fix this?
Remembering the grief Dan Quayle got for misspelling "potato," I predict that the darling Main Stream Media will easily totally overlook Joe Biden's flub of his own party's sacred history. Biden has got to be the first Democrat since the 1929 Stock Market Crash to not proudly trumpet that a Republican was president.
Biden is the Democrat's gift to Republicans that keeps on giving.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
As an example, even when exposing Obama (September 20, 2008) for linking Senator McCain with Rush Limbaugh in a Spanish language TV and radio ad, and correctly pointing out that Limbaugh has been very critical of McCain, the Chronicle overlooked the biggest lies and distortions of Obama’s ad. The Obama ad uses a Limbaugh quote in which the commentator calls Mexicans "stupid and unqualified" and another where he tells immigrants "Shut your mouth or get out." But as many news organizations have reported, the quotes came in the context of discussions of NAFTA and Mexican laws and were not directed at Mexican immigrants to the U.S. In fact, the "Shut your mouth or get out" quote was part of an illustration by Limbaugh of Mexico’s extremely strict immigration laws, not United States immigration policy.
The Chronicle criticized a McCain ad statement: “The press reports that their efforts were 'poison pills' that made immigration reform fail." According to the Chronicle, “McCain said that he wouldn't vote for his own immigration bill.” Interestingly, the Chronicle never mentioned that the reason McCain and Republicans wouldn’t vote for the bill was because of the “poison pill” amendments inserted by Democrats that were, in fact, mentioned in many press reports. Also not mentioned by the Chronicle, Senate majority leader Harry Reid killed the bill when he yanked it off the Senate floor.
So far The Chronicle has contributed more than their share of the “half-truths and distortions.”
It will be interesting to see how the Chronicle handles the statements Obama made in Florida: “If my opponent had his way, the millions of Floridians who rely on it would’ve had their Social Security tied up in the stock market this week…Millions of families would've been scrambling to figure out how to give their mothers and fathers, their grandmothers and grandfathers, the secure retirement that every American deserves.”
Anyone with the slightest familiarity with Republican proposed Social Security reforms would know that nothing would change for current retirees, participation would be voluntary, and the maximum privatized contribution would be less than a third of total contributions, and could only be made to a diversified portfolio of stocks and/or bonds.
Get on it, Chronicle, and show us how McCain is at fault!
Saturday, September 20, 2008
“If my opponent had his way, the millions of Floridians who rely on it would’ve had their Social Security tied up in the stock market this week,” Mr. Obama told a Florida audience.
Oddly, The Times did not include Obama’s remark that followed: “Millions of families would've been scrambling to figure out how to give their mothers and fathers, their grandmothers and grandfathers, the secure retirement that every American deserves.”
That remark by Obama was completely false, and even a New York Times reporter would have known it was wrong. Obama’s first lie was that current Social Security recipients would have been affected. Senator McCain has been very clear for over three years that all current retirees would continue drawing exactly the same Social Security benefits and would not be affected in any way by his partial privatization plan. Further, he has also been clear that his plan would be totally voluntary, and that current workers would have the option of continuing under the old system or contributing to a privatized account.
As FactCheck.org summarizes:
- The private accounts would have been voluntary. Anybody fearful of the stock market's risk could simply stay in the current system.
- Obama's reference to "casino culture," disappearing "nest eggs" and gambling with "your life savings" are also misleading exaggerations. Only a little over one-fourth of any workers' total Social Security taxes could have been invested (a maximum of 4 percent of taxable wages, out of the total 15.3 per cent now paid, split equally between worker and employer.)
- Speculation in individual stocks would not have been permitted. Workers would have had a choice of a few, broadly diversified stock or bond funds.
- While McCain has voted in favor (of) creating private Social Security accounts in the past, and endorsed Bush's 2005 proposal (which never came to a vote in Congress), he is not making a strong push for them as part of his campaign. In fact, a search for the term "Social Security" on the McCain-Palin Web site brings up the following: "No documents were found."
The last point illustrates how far Obama is willing to go in his panic-driven attempts to scare elderly Floridians into voting for him. Obama has to have Florida, or he will end up like Gore and Kerry, so he has chosen to demagogue and lie about an issue that hasn’t even been raised by Senator McCain.
Of course there are always two possibilities: Obama may be too stupid to know about the Republican privatization plan, or he may be intentionally lying. Since Obama is a college graduate, I don’t he’s that stupid, so obviously he’s a liar.
Still, it’s a stupid liar who lies about something so easy to check up on. However, Obama probably thinks the Main Stream Media won’t call him on it, and even if they do, the old folks in Florida won’t notice.
You know, Obama may not be that stupid after all.
Democrats have been lying about and demagoguing Social Security for decades and getting away with it.
Why change now?
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Rangel then went on to explain that the reason he classified her as disabled is that, in his opinion, the basis of her foreign policy is that she can see Russia from where she lives. If Charles Rangel thinks he can assign a disability classification to Sarah Palin on the basis of his assessment of her views, then he gives us all license to put a "disabled" label on anyone we think has erroneous beliefs. Using Rangel's criterion, I hereby declare all Liberals disabled because all they can see from where they live is an economic fantasy world.
Among Liberal fantasies are that you can tax your way to prosperity, that Social Security and Medicare are not doomed Ponzi schemes, that globalization is bad, that governments are wiser than free markets, that mankind is causing climate change even though natural climate changes have occurred thousands of times over millions of years, and that "change" and "hope" are substantive statements of policy.
It will be interesting to see how Democrat leadership handles this latest installment in the ongoing saga of Rangel's serial stupidity. They will probably go easy on him, because: "You got to be kind to the disabled."
Reid’s “don’t know” and Pelosi’s “no” summarize the Democrats: in charge of both the House and the Senate for almost two years and still clueless.
If Harry and Nancy would look at House and Senate organizational structure, it would immediately be apparent that Democrats chair committees that are responsible for oversight and regulation of investment and banking activities. Looking at the leadership of the Democrats, it would also be obvious that they and their colleagues didn’t just become legislators, but have been around a long time. Even when Republicans were in charge, Democrats were minority leaders and members, serving on committees apparently with no knowledge of or responsibilities for their actions.
It’s kind of refreshing that Reid and Pelosi have decided to make a clean breast of the parts they played in the current financial crisis. By their own admissions, they know not what to do, nor even that they are responsible to do anything.
That’s about as close as you will ever come to getting clear and accurate statements from Democrats.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Ten years ago they said the same thing. If we had drilled then, it would be on the market now.
Now California has an enormous budget problem, and like most of California’s problems it came as no surprise. For many years, through both Democrat and Republican governorships, the Democrat-controlled legislature spent wildly during high tax revenue years. However, all California legislators, and most California Republicans, know that California’s taxation system is fragile since it is built primarily on personal income taxes. When the economy is booming, tax revenues really jump, but when it slows down, revenues fall fast.
Unfortunately, California legislators spend everything during the good times, and then Democrats scream to raise taxes during the bad. “We just can’t cut programs like that,” they cry, then trot out all the “victims” of proposed cuts. Just like our oil supply, if we would show foresight during the fat years, we wouldn’t be in such dire straits during the lean.
As it is, our crises are perpetual, and self-perpetuating. The increased spending buys votes and empowers Democrats to increase taxes to sustain high rates of spending during economic downturns. The higher taxes drive away capital and wealthy individuals until another burst of prosperity and higher income tax revenues starts the increased spending cycle again. First spending, then taxes, ratchet higher, and Democrats in the legislature never think that there is a limit to how much they can raise taxes on the rich and businesses.
Californians, always willing to believe in smoke and mirrors, still haven’t figured out that they are paying the business taxes. As any accountant knows (even Democrat accountants), business taxes are simply passed through in the cost of goods sold to the ultimate consumer of goods and services, namely you and I.
So we support having our taxes raised because we think someone else is paying them.
But that’s another story.
I and Republicans know that women are not at all stupid. Alice is very intelligent and energetic, and among many her accomplishments she is the founder and CEO of a very successful small business, Vulcan Incorporated, in what was and is a male-dominated industry, industrial baling wire manufacture and distribution. My late first wife Marilynn was also very intelligent and energetic, and a staunch Republican just like Alice.
Barbra uses her great voice to provide a showcase to display her mediocre intellect, since without her celebrity no one would pay any attention to her drivel. When I read her diatribe against Sarah Palin, it reminded me of the very words Hillary used to denigrate Obama during the primaries: "no foreign policy experience, no national experience and limited state government experience."
Only in this case Barbra is talking about the candidate for Vice President, and Hillary was talking about the candidate for President.
Barbra, there is a difference. I know this will be difficult for you to comprehend, so I'll type really slowly. It's OK if you move your lips as you read, Barbra, and to ask for help with the multisylabbic words. We know you struggled to finish high school.
Barbra, John McCain is running for President, and he has a wealth of experience, unlike your candidate, Obama. Joe Biden is running for Vice President, and has a lot of experience lying, plagiarizing, and making a fool of himself. In other words, he is a John Kerry clone, a quintessential Democrat.
Democrats can play that lipstick game too!
The party of Harry "The Buck Stops Here" Truman denies even knowing they play a role in government. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, when asked Tuesday whether Democrats bear some of the responsibility regarding the current crisis on Wall Street, had a one-word answer: “No.”
Nancy, then what have you and your Democrats in the House, and your Democrat colleagues in the Senate, been doing the past two years? You came into power when the economy was vibrant and unemployment low. After two years of Democrats not doing anything, it isn't.
Except prices stayed flat and when it was time to refinance there was no equity for down payments. Then when the foreclosures started, prices fell and more owners found themselves struggling to make payments on houses with falling values at the same time their adjustable mortgage rates were rising.
Nancy, you can't take credit for running the show without taking credit for what appears on the stage. Either you and the Democrats are in charge, as you have said repeatedly, or you are incompetent and worthless, as I have said repeatedly.
From where I stand, we're both right.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Che lives. But in Guatemala, Che only lives on T-shirts sold in T-shirt shops which are usually located next to a McDonalds, a Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, etc., or a distinctive and very successful Latin-American fast-food chain founded in Guatemala over thirty years ago, Pollo Campero.
The face of Che is ubiquitous, but his beliefs aren't.
“Communism was a great system for making people equally poor. In fact, there was no better system in the world for that than communism.” Extolling Globalization, Thomas L. Friedman wrote this in “The World is Flat,” and added that “Capitalism made people unequally rich.”
Besides totally agreeing with Friedman, I would extend his assessment to communism’s bastard step-child, socialism, and add that capitalism succeeds wherever it is tried.
Of course there are many true believers in Communism, but few of them live in the former citadels of Communism, the Soviet Union and China. Even most North Koreans and Cubans have lost their Marxist zeal; they saw their countries go from the theory of the dictatorship of the proletariat to the deification of dictators. But now the Gods of Communism are either dead, discredited, or disregarded: Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Kim Jong Il, Mao, Castro, and Kim Il Sung.
Now the only place communism and socialism are valued and revered are amongst ignorant and illiterate peoples of undeveloped countries, and in the halls of academia amongst Progressive economists, environmentalists, and anti-Globalizationists.
They and Che are good company.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Alice and I went to Tikal for a few days, and enjoyed our tour of the Mayan ruins. We stayed at a very nice hotel in the National Park. It had a very nice swimming pool, and I still have a small cut on my forehead where I banged my head against the wall when a horrible sound woke me from dead-tired sleep in the middle of the night. When I found our flashlight, and stopped the bleeding, I went out to investigate.
In and around the swimming pool were several small frogs; their bodies were only about two inches long. I could not believe the crashing, ear-drum smashing sounds they were producing. I kicked a couple into the water, thinking it might scare the rest to shut up. It didn't.
I put ear plugs in, to little avail. Then suddenly, they stopped. Deafening silence.
For awhile I couldn't go back to sleep. I couldn't stop listening for them to start again.
Our second day we took a short trip to the edge of the park to slide suspended from cables through the rainforest canopy for a total of over two kilometers. The adventure sounds very ecologically and environmentally proper: communing with the rainforest canopy, and its canopy dwelling creatures.
Actually, it is primarily an adolescent thrill ride, but this realization didn't put Alice and I off this adventure for even a moment. We were rigged into our harnesses, clambered up stairs and ladders to a platform high in a tree, and soon found ourselves gliding rapidly under the forest canopy, suspended from a wheel running on a cable. Our gloved right hand rested on the cable behind us to keep us from spinning, and when we got near our destination platform, we used it to press down on the cable to slow us down.
On our first slide, Alice pressed a bit too much a bit too soon, and stopped short of the platform, but one of our young guides quickly pulled her in. On the other hand, I had to press down very hard and slow myself quickly because I came in very fast. Alice was certain that my much greater weight gave me much higher speed.
At any rate, we continued through the rainforest in hundreds of meters increments, climbing from each destination platform to the next lauching platform high above.
We tried to squeeze some ecological and educational tidbits from our experience, but the only time we noticed Nature above and around us was during the periods on the platforms. Once we launched, we focused on getting to the next destination platform smoothly and safely.
One of our guides, Felix, borrowed our camera and took photos of us sliding along, plus a couple shots of some howler monkeys that were probably amused watching us.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Alice admires the flowing lava
This is one way to dry clothes fast!
What do two 66-year old Americans have in common with a dozen Young Israelis?
Actually quite a lot. One they got over the fact that Alice and I were two to three times older than anyone else in our group, we walked three kilometers together up the side of an active volcano (Mount Pacaya, Guatemala), were pelted by torrential rains, stood on cooling lava next to a steadily flowing stream of red-hot lava (it put off enough heat to almost dry some of our soaking wet clothes), and then we hiked the three kilometers back to our bus in the dark, and for part of the way, through more rain.
Alice and I came out rather well, considering how heavy the rain was, since we both had thick ponchos that Alice insisted we take. I no longer thought taking them was silly, and I used mine in combination with an umbrella. The young Israelis had neither ponchos nor umbrellas, and soon were totally soaked. However, when our guide asked us if we wanted to take a break under a shelter and wait for the rain to stop, we all voted to press on.
The rain finally did abate just before we got to the lava fields, and never became heavy again on our way back through the dark.
After an hour traveling back on the bus, it was almost 9PM when a police roadblock stopped us and informed us: "Pasa no." As the driver turned around, the significance of the earlier heavy rainfall struck us; the rain hadn't fallen only on the high slopes of Mount Pacaya. We realized we would be on the bus at least another hour before getting back to Antigua and our hotel rooms, showers, and warm, dry clothes.
Just as despair became deeply entrenched in our wet, cold, starved group, we got to share another experience. Our bus driver pulled into a Burger King on the outskirts of Guatemala City, and we all hurried in to order Whoppers with cheese, french fries, and Pepsis (Supersized). More lively chatter soon returned, and when we reboarded the bus all were remarkably revived.
We woke up refreshed, with no pains except regret that our shoes were still soaked, and that the volcanic ash had blackened our pants legs and socks. We hope the hotel laundry can work miracles on the pants, although I doubt my white socks will ever be white again.
On to the next adventure!
Saturday, September 06, 2008
“What unadulterated purity!” I exclaimed, watching human Weed-Eaters™ trim high grass by the road with rhythmic swings of their machetes, pausing only to sharpen them. Then I observed two young boys carrying bundles of firewood up a steep trail. “Those boys are so lucky!” I thought. “They could be working in a sweatshop, earning only $5 a day, but here they are out in the morning sun carrying firewood on their backs for several kilometers. Aren’t they lucky not to be exploited? And aren’t their parents lucky too, getting to spend every day not working for anything at all!”
I rejoiced further when I saw a slightly older boy carrying a large container of water. “He must be so happy he doesn’t have to work to help his family,” I surmised, as he wobbled along while the sun rose higher.
Because Globalization has already polluted Guatemala’s larger cities, per-capita gross domestic product is $5,400 per year, $100 more than China. While wood smoke permeates rural areas, the stench of diesel prevails in the cities; the first denotes abject poverty, the other economic progress.