Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Blogging Hiatus

As you may have noticed, blogging has been light. It will continue to be so thru May. 6th as your humble blogger is preparing for law finals. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

McCain's Tax Returns

Or rather Cindy McCain's tax returns. Well, she hasn't disclosed them. Her tax records should be disclosed. I think the public has the right to know such financial information and if there are any potential conflicts of interest. Just as I think Bill Clinton should be releasing donor information with regards to the Clinton library and the Clinton Global Initiative. However, what makes the failure to disclose all the more galling in McCain's case is that he has over the years assumed the mantle of the reformer. He championed that goddawful legislation McCain-Feingold (BCRA) and mentions the elimination of earmarks as his proposed solution to every governance issue.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Obama's New Slogan

"If it ain't Obama, It's Yo Mama!"

That would be a friggin brilliant slogan at this juncture. It exploits the youth votes desire to distance themselves from their aged counterparts by making a slam on their mothers. The Yo Mama bit is highly urban, while the use of "ain't" is an effective sop to rural voters. Further, it manages to subtly convey everyone's greatest fear of a Hillary presidency: her smarmy Mother knows best Nanny Statism. Obama campaign, I will be looking for the check in the mail.

Michael Moore Endorses Obama

Love him or hate him Michael Moore does have a strong following in the liberal epsilon of American society. I would have to say one of the more interesting quotes is when Moore describes Hillary Clinton as sounding like "a bigot stoking the fires of stupidity." Here is what he wrote about his endorsement of Obama:

Friends,

I don't get to vote for President this primary season. I live in Michigan. The party leaders (both here and in D.C.) couldn't get their act together, and thus our votes will not be counted. So, if you live in Pennsylvania, can you do me a favor? Will you please cast my vote -- and yours -- on Tuesday for Senator Barack Obama?

I haven't spoken publicly 'til now as to who I would vote for, primarily for two reasons: 1) Who cares?; and 2) I (and most people I know) don't give a rat's ass whose name is on the ballot in November, as long as there's a picture of JFK and FDR riding a donkey at the top of the ballot, and the word "Democratic" next to the candidate's name.

Seriously, I know so many people who don't care if the name under the Big "D" is Dancer, Prancer, Clinton or Blitzen. It can be Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Barry Obama or the Dalai Lama.

Well, that sounded good last year, but over the past two months, the actions and words of Hillary Clinton have gone from being merely disappointing to downright disgusting. I guess the debate last week was the final straw. I've watched Senator Clinton and her husband play this game of appealing to the worst side of white people, but last Wednesday, when she hurled the name "Farrakhan" out of nowhere, well that's when the silly season came to an early end for me. She said the "F" word to scare white people, pure and simple. Of course, Obama has no connection to Farrakhan. But, according to Senator Clinton, Obama's pastor does -- AND the "church bulletin" once included a Los Angeles Times op-ed from some guy with Hamas! No, not the church bulletin!

This sleazy attempt to smear Obama was brilliantly explained the following night by Stephen Colbert. He pointed out that if Obama is supported by Ted Kennedy, who is Catholic, and the Catholic Church is led by a Pope who was in the Hitler Youth, that can mean only one thing: OBAMA LOVES HITLER!

Yes, Senator Clinton, that's how you sounded. Like you were nuts. Like you were a bigot stoking the fires of stupidity. How sad that I would ever have to write those words about you. You have devoted your life to good causes and good deeds. And now to throw it all away for an office you can't win unless you smear the black man so much that the superdelegates cry "Uncle (Tom)" and give it all to you.

But that can't happen. You cast your die when you voted to start this bloody war. When you did that you were like Moses who lost it for a moment and, because of that, was prohibited from entering the Promised Land.

How sad for a country that wanted to see the first woman elected to the White House. That day will come -- but it won't be you. We'll have to wait for the current Democratic governor of Kansas to run in 2016 (you read it here first!).

There are those who say Obama isn't ready, or he's voted wrong on this or that. But that's looking at the trees and not the forest. What we are witnessing is not just a candidate but a profound, massive public movement for change. My endorsement is more for Obama The Movement than it is for Obama the candidate.

That is not to take anything away from this exceptional man. But what's going on is bigger than him at this point, and that's a good thing for the country. Because, when he wins in November, that Obama Movement is going to have to stay alert and active. Corporate America is not going to give up their hold on our government just because we say so. President Obama is going to need a nation of millions to stand behind him.

I know some of you will say, 'Mike, what have the Democrats done to deserve our vote?' That's a damn good question. In November of '06, the country loudly sent a message that we wanted the war to end. Yet the Democrats have done nothing. So why should we be so eager to line up happily behind them?

I'll tell you why. Because I can't stand one more friggin' minute of this administration and the permanent, irreversible damage it has done to our people and to this world. I'm almost at the point where I don't care if the Democrats don't have a backbone or a kneebone or a thought in their dizzy little heads. Just as long as their name ain't "Bush" and the word "Republican" is not beside theirs on the ballot, then that's good enough for me.

I, like the majority of Americans, have been pummeled senseless for 8 long years. That's why I will join millions of citizens and stagger into the voting booth come November, like a boxer in the 12th round, all bloodied and bruised with one eye swollen shut, looking for the only thing that matters -- that big "D" on the ballot.

Don't get me wrong. I lost my rose-colored glasses a long time ago.

It's foolish to see the Democrats as anything but a nicer version of a party that exists to do the bidding of the corporate elite in this country. Any endorsement of a Democrat must be done with this acknowledgement and a hope that one day we will have a party that'll represent the people first, and laws that allow that party an equal voice.

Finally, I want to say a word about the basic decency I have seen in Mr. Obama. Mrs. Clinton continues to throw the Rev. Wright up in his face as part of her mission to keep stoking the fears of White America. Every time she does this I shout at the TV, "Say it, Obama! Say that when she and her husband were having marital difficulties regarding Monica Lewinsky, who did she and Bill bring to the White House for 'spiritual counseling?'
THE REVEREND JEREMIAH WRIGHT!"

But no, Obama won't throw that at her. It wouldn't be right. It wouldn't be decent. She's been through enough hurt. And so he remains silent and takes the mud she throws in his face.

That's why the crowds who come to see him are so large. That's why he'll take us down a more decent path. That's why I would vote for him if Michigan were allowed to have an election.

But the question I keep hearing is... 'can he win? Can he win in November?' In the distance we hear the siren of the death train called the Straight Talk Express. We know it's possible to hear the words "President McCain" on January 20th. We know there are still many Americans who will never vote for a black man. Hillary knows it, too. She's counting on it.

Pennsylvania, the state that gave birth to this great country, has a chance to set things right. It has not had a moment to shine like this since 1787 when our Constitution was written there. In that Constitution, they wrote that a black man or woman was only "three fifths" human. On Tuesday, the good people of Pennsylvania have a chance for redemption.

Yours,
Michael Moore

Friday, April 18, 2008

Obama and Affirmative Action

I think one of the things that goes unremarked upon is the significant shift the Obama proposes for affirmative action. Granted, I may be imputing policies where none exists, but he seems to suggest an intermediate step away from race-based affirmative action and in the direction of a class based system. Naturally I would prefer neither and instead to try and remedy racial or class based disparities on the spending side. All that said, I find a program that discriminates on the basis of class as opposed to race more just.

The Credit Crunch is Nothing...

Compared with rising commodity prices. We will weather the housing crisis and the credit crunch, the same cannot be said for those of poor nations who are struggling with rising commodity prices. Worldwide we are seeing honest to goodness food riots. I think maybe we can scale back those ethanol subsidies now.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The University of St. Thomas...Really Good At Making Stupid Decisions, Final Round

Some of you might remember my series of rants back in October about the asinine decision that was made by UST administrators to not allow Archbishop Desmond Tutu to speak at a Peace Jam event scheduled to be held at UST and subsequent demotion of a department head because of the controversy.

Well the speech that was too controversial to be heard at UST was rescheduled and held at Minneapolis North High School instead. Tutu spent most of his speech praising the young people in attendance for being the ones who are going to change the world and discussed God’s dream for humanity and how he is excited for these young people to assist God in realizing that dream. He went on to say:

“God says ‘I have a dream that one day all of my children will know that they belong in one family. I have a dream that my children one day will know war no more. I have a dream that children everywhere will have clean water to drink, will have enough food to eat, will have a decent home. I have a dream, please help me to realize my dream’.”
I now understand why the University of St. Thomas would not want such controversial topics to be discussed on their campus, for a university who claims their mission is to educate “students to be morally responsible leaders who think critically, act wisely and work skillfully to advance the common good” this type of hateful speech should have no place on campus.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Kudos to Obama on Taxes

Every once an awhile you'll hear the ditty about how Warren Buffett pays has a lower effective tax rate than his secretary and what a travesty this is. I agree that it is a travesty but Democrats then use it as a rallying cry to raise income taxes. There is only one problem with this, it wouldn't do a blessed thing to Warren Buffet's effective tax rate as most of his income is derived from capital as opposed to labor (which are taxed at different rates: 18% v. 35% for the highest income tax bracket). Obama correctly noted this in conjunction with the Buffett story and argued that the story presented a rationale to raise capital gains taxes not income taxes.

Gas Tax Break?

McCain is proposing a gas tax holiday for the summer. McCain has confessed that he doesn't quite get the whole economics thing and this is further evidence thereof. This is a brain dead proposal. Tis the season for pandering, this is just an especially crass example.

Prostitutes for the Eldery

Bloomberg has a story about a silly but interesting public outrage in Denmark. Denmark legalized prostitution in 1999 and there is a minor practice of procuring escorts for nursing home patients upon request (I am making the assumption that in Denmark these nursing homes are publicly run). Anyhow, some complain that by tolerating the practice the state is condoning and even encouraging prostitution. I understand this point but it is after all legal, and it seems to me that one area where public assistance really is needed is to aid those whose agency is severely diminished. I think the elderly fit that description. That said, sexual fulfillment probably shouldn't be a budget priority.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Not All Protests Are Created Equal

I remember in college, this was back in 2001-02, encountering a picket at a local gas station. I noticed some of my friends were part of the picket and inquired why they were conducting this exercise. They responded that the gas station (It was a BP station if memory serves me correctly), was degrading the environment by drilling in ANWR. I pointed out that there was no drilling in ANWR at that point (still none to this date). Undeterred by facts, there rationale shifted, it was now a preemptive protest. The owner was actually really nice and polite (Minnesotans are, almost every last one of them with the exception of Garrison Keilor) to all of these idiotic protesters. He explained to them that he was an independent franchisee and that his gasoline actually came by way of Oklahoma as opposed to anywhere in Alaska. But the protest went on though, it seemed more than anything to piss off the town residents seeking to tank up and depriving the gas station owner of a morning's revenues.

Anyhow the moral of my story is that sometimes protesting a just cause is itself not enough, the manner of your protest is of great importance, too...which brings us to this story. Protesters in Paris attempted to take the olympic torch from a wheel chair bound amputee torch bearer. It almost sounds like an Onion headline. Amazingly enough, the torch bearer held on.

I sympathize with the protestors endgame, shining a light on China's harsh treatment of Tibet. I also recognize in light of recent Chinese actions combined with the fact that China is now at the forefront of the world stage by virtue of hosting the olympics, that now is an ideal time to highlight China's human rights abuses. That said, attacking a special olympian, a wheel chair bound amputee is probably counterproductive.

In Praise of the IRS

Slate has an article on the IRS and how it has transformed into a more customer centric organization. Also, Charles Rosotti, former IRS commissioner (97-02), wrote a very interesting book on the IRS's transformation. I have had little experience with the IRS but from time to time have called with a really random question about this or that credit and if I qualify (typically not). The customer service has always been unfailingly polite. The reason tax time is such a bear is the tax code itself, not the IRS which has done quite a bit to make tax season more bearable. Here is a link to an extended rant by Megan McArdle on the tax code and how to improve the tax code.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Minnesota Wild Playoff Hockey

Alright everyone I have to apologize for my absence from the blog as of late, I had knee surgery about two weeks ago and until late have been coasting through life on a head full of Vicadin.

With that said I feel that my first official post surgery blog post must pay homage to my beloved Minnesota Wild. Wednesday night’s game one OT loss was tough, but I have full confidence the Wild are going to bounce back tonight.

On Wednesday night while I was watching the pre-game coverage on TV I caught snippets of the Wild’s pre-game in arena intros. I just saw the video below and honestly what the Wild have done is nothing short of amazing (and it gives me goose bumps every time I watch it).

I will be at the game tonight so I hope they put on something similar.

GO WILD!!!!!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

VW Rabbit

I drive a VW Rabbit which I knew to be a chick car. It wasn't so once upon a time when it was badged as a Golf. However, the subsuquent redesign of the boxy and quirky Golf rendered a more curved and graceful and ultimately feminine appearance (it is still known as the Golf in Europe). It is also a dead ringer that your car is a chick car when women of all ages declare it "cute". And I am alright with this and went into to the purchase eyes wide open- the only other consumer products I knew of named the rabbit were a wine opener and a vibrator. Enough said.

Now it appears that the Rabbit is not only a chick car but the gay econo car of choice. I am quite pleased with this news because I suspect it will help my resale value.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Time Killer

One of my favorite time killers is reading car reviews by Jeremy Clarkson (he hosts BBC's Top Gear). Here is an excerpt from his review of the Puegot 107:

"So what, exactly, is God’s most stupid creation? The pink flamingo, the avocado pear, Stephen Joseph from the pressure group Transport 2000? There are many choices even before you get to the koala bear.

It sleeps for 18 hours a day, only waking up to gorge on eucalyptus leaves, which make it stoned. So stoned in fact that whenever it sees anything that isn’t a eucalyptus tree or another koala, it becomes so frightened it gives itself chlamydia.

This can’t be much fun. Sitting around in a tree all day, in a big fur coat, in Australia, with a bent mind and a sexually transmitted disease that you caught without actually having sex."

Anyhow, he usually goes on in this manner for ten paragraphs and then crams in about two paragraphs of observations about the car that he is ostensibly reviewing. And I love the British terms. It took me several reviews just to figure out what he was talking about. A sedan is a saloon, a station wagon an estate car or alternatively a shooting brake, a hood a bonnet, and so on and so forth. So if you're looking for something to do other than what you are supposed to be doing or just have nothing to do generally, check out Jeremy Clarkson's car reviews.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Prison Rape

The Philadelphia Inquirer has a horrific story of a prison rape victim.

PeP Links: Education

Cato Unbound is having a discussion on Education. The Lead Essay is by Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute. The thrust of his essay was that "A Nation at Risk" got it wrong and we should approach education with the mindset that we could be doing better in contrast with a "the sky is falling mentality".

Slate has a ten part series called "Fixing It". The education component is written by UVA law professor Jim Ryan and he has some sensible recommendations: amend NCLB to have tests at less regular intervals but in more subject areas, nationalized standards, and use Teach for America or a similar vehicle to transform teaching into prestigious profession.

City Journal had a forum a while back amongst right-of-center education reform advocates as to whether school choice or institutional reform was the proper way forward.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Webb for VP

Alex Massie of the Debatable Land has a good post laying out the case for Webb as Obama's VP. Obama has a couple of electoral liabilities in my mind: 1) latinos; 2) asians; 3) blue collar whites; 4) lack of foreign policy credentials. Webb addresses two of these areas, namely the blue collar whites, the beer track in wanker, and foreign policy credentials.

Prison Rape

Ezra Klein has a good column on prison rape and perversely how we as a society accept and even are perversely satisfied with this phenomena.