Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What? Me Partisan?

So the salvation of the mortgage industry will have to wait for a few days; I can't believe that should be a cause for panic. Yet the shrillness of the politicians certainly paint it that way.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi blames Republicans despite the fact that 95 of her own party members voted against the bailout. The Democrats should have carried the day without a single vote from across the aisle; why are Bush policies and supporters to blame for the failure of the legislation? Heck, it would have only taken 12 of those recalcitrant Dems to sway the outcome. What does it mean?

It suggests to me that a significant number of lawmakers are simply questioning a dangerous proposal. Shouldn't it calm the market and the body politic that Congress is actually taking the challenge seriously enough to NOT act rashly? Yet we, before and after hand, get politically tinged snarky remarks from the Speaker.

That's not the way to be bi-partisan, my friends. That's the way to cause dissent.

Perhaps that's what the market is actually responding to: uncertainty about political intent. Bickering, particularly when unwarranted (as bickering usually is) simply annoys and unnerves. Maybe that's our real lesson. If so, look closely at who is teaching it.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Turning the Channel

I watched for what I am telling myself the Fox network shows Family Guy and American Dad for the last time last night. They are simply too crude and vulgar for the taste of anyone with an ounce of respect for other people. So I am using my option of turning the channel on Sunday nights from here forward.

The trouble is that response doesn’t come near to recognizing the whole problem. No one should put garbage that offensive on the air, and no one ought to watch it. Yet when I protest that, I am yelled at shrilly about free speech and to turn off the TV then if I don’t want to see it. That’s all well and good...for me. It says nothing about the makers’ of such shows obligation to me or other prospective viewers.

Like it or not, folks, you do have an obligation to the general society to keep things clean, and to be respectful of the legitimate concerns of the individual. He has a right, and no less than that, to not be offended when it comes to things truly offensive. Merely turning off the TV does not address that question: it begs it.

I would like to ask the Seth McFarlanes of the world if I have an obligation to help, say, the poor. If he says that I do, then I have the right to ask him about his obligations towards me. Because if I have obligations outside of myself, then so does he. Conversely, if he has no obligations to me, then I likewise have none towards others. That’s the real question: do I owe something to humanity or not, and on what grounds?

It’s the question which does not get asked when the media (and cartooning on network television is as much part of the media as a news show) want what they want. Their silence on the matter speaks volumes.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Maize and Blue Sunday.

Perhaps my ill feeling about Michigan football was off base. With an impressive come from behind victory over the Wisconsin Badgers yesterday it looks like the team may not be so far away from contention after all. It was a great gift to the fans, who have endured losses to unimpressive squads from Utah and Notre Dame.

There's a long way to go, though, with a tough Illinois team next week. Still, with all the bad economic news lately, it was nice to wake up this morning looking forward to seeing at least the sports section of the paper.

The Sports and Comics are only truly important parts of the newspapers anyway.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

McCain 1, Obama 0.

There were no knockout blows, but last night's debate was more a success for John McCain than Barack Obama. The Arizona Senator kept to his talking points better than the one from Illinois, and Obama actually seemed a little flustered and off his game. But everyone expected this match to be more in McCain's favor, as he has foreign policy experience which Obama lacks. Considering too that Republicans generally look to foreign policy more than Democrats, I suppose the outcome was to easily forseen.

Neither man made a terrible gaffe, no did either say anything particularly resounding or memorable. I thought McCain attacked better than Obama, never letting himself be interrupted while keeping his Democratic rival more on the run; he never appeared under pressure himself. But Democrats are known for smooth talkers, so McCain needs to be better at concise remarks in the future.

Anyway, I'm happy. Andexpecting Sarah Palin to roast Joe Biden alive next Thursday.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Real Deal.

I mentioned the other day how Barack Obama being touted as a consensus builder does not impress me. Nor do I think highly of consensus as consensus. It isn’t that I don’t recognize the need for sometimes disagreeable agreement in order to move things along; it’s simply that most people who preach ‘consensus first’ really aren’t ready or willing to concede anything substantial at all.

Liberals are great at this game. They want consensus on abortion or gay rights, for example. Yet they are in favor of both; conservatives are not. They talk about tolerance: they want us to tolerate both. That’s easy for them as they find both issues tolerable. They aren’t moving towards consensus in any way shape or form because they aren’t conceding anything. Yet we right wingers are essentially being asked to give up entirely on core values which we believe in very deeply. In short, it isn’t consensus they request. It’s total acceptance of their world view.

Try this on for size: I don’t merely tolerate the Catholic Church. I am Catholic. It is beyond toleration: it is recognition of the truth of the Creed. I do not ask anyone to join the Church unless they are willing to make that same commitment. There is no consensus: you accept it or you do not. If you do not, I will then tolerate your not being Catholic because that too is part of the Creed: the truths of the Church must be freely accepted or they are valueless. Either way, we can get along.

Not so with liberals. We are pariahs, neanderthals, if we do not go beyond tolerance (which truly is only a recognition of error which we can not, at a given time anyway, overcome) and embrace their ways. There is no room, in their creed or in their philosophy, for us to be us. They are hypocrites who sound like they’re being inclusive when they are in fact less considerate of beliefs anathema to theirs than they accuse us of being. They are, to use the Illinois Senator’s phrase, pigs with lipstick. We need to step back far enough that we may see the sty they wallow in.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The $700 Billion Swindle

Just what in the world does President Bush think he’s doing? I’m not saying that the mortgage issue isn’t important, but why this proposed significant expansion of the government’s power in ‘saving’ the industry? Why should the government (which in fact of course means you and me, folks) save these people from their own folly?

Are we to believe that the whole country will all fall down without a bailout? It strikes me as too fantastic a scenario to put any real credence in it. Besides, shouldn’t something poorly managed fail if for no other reason than to allow for something better to take its place? I cannot believe that a market system would not cure itself if only Washington got out of the way.

But that’s dreaming; we are so far beyond a true market system that there’s really little point in discussing that option. The real issue here is the very thought that government is the answer rather than the solution, and sadly, Republicans hold a lot of blame for that rancid idea becoming so prominent lately. I adore Ronald Reagan and think he’ll eventually be seen as one of our greatest Presidents; but he should have never bailed out Chrysler. My original wholehearted support for George W. Bush has waned in light of his No Child Left Behind Act and his current push for the mortgage bailout. The GOP isn’t supposed to be in favor of such schemes. That’s why I vote Republican.

The party is simply leaving its roots, my friends, and that’s sad. Without good roots, things die. Generally painfully.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Do My Ears Deceive Me?

Is it true? Have the Lions actually let Matt Millen go?

They must have. I've just seen a flying pig, and reports are that Hell has frozen over.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Really Good Weekend.

As I warned my reader, this Tuesday morning marks my first post since last Friday when my son and I left for Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. And we did indeed relax, as I had promised: drank beer and Boone’s Farm Orange Hurricane (in Tang glasses, no less; a classic juxtaposition of alcohol and breakfast drinks) while playing darts and watching Mystery Science Theater 3000. That’s the life, I must say.

It was a great weekend. You figure you’ll miss your kids being kids when they’re older (and you will to a point), only to find out that in many ways they’re more fun as adults. You can have intelligent conversations with them, enjoy adult beverages with them, laugh at the same humor as them. You also appreciate that, with the help of the Almighty, that you has a hand in that development.

All right, maybe not in fine art of watching MST3K; some things one has to learn to like on their own. Nevertheless, it was a fantastic and rewarding experience. The kind of times that make the diaper changes and school reviews of times gone by worth the effort. Thanks, Mom, for letting us guys go it alone, and thanks, Son, for going. Let’s do it again some day.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Upper Peninsula Awaits!

Today, my son and I are going up north, to that glorious place known as Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. That’s the ‘rabbit’ rather than the ‘hand’ part of our state. He hasn’t been there in a couple years now due to his being in the Army, so it should be a treat.

Our economy has not been doing very well these last few years; even when the rest of the country was doing well, we weren’t. Yet there are things the economy can’t affect, and the beauty of our north country is one of them. It’s hard to go there and not relax, despite whatever worries you may have.

And that’s our plan. Go up north and chill.

Don’t worry, we’ll be thinking about you. Feeling sorry for you, truth be told.

But not too sorry. Would we be relaxed if we were?

So I’ll see you Tuesday, unless I rally myself to go into the public library tomorrow and blog from the public computers.

Yeah, that’ll happen.

Should I Care?

Wall Street. Every time there’s a problem in the stock market, it seems that I’m expected to panic. And I suppose I should be a bit more concerned; I have little understanding of how the markets work but still some vague idea that it’s bad for me somehow when it takes a dive. But what can I do about it anyway? I don’t invest, and my day seems okay so far despite yesterday’s 446 point, um, dip.

I remember a 500+ dip in 1987 and there was no discernible concern. Sure, there have been two deep drops this week, but still, how do I know that it isn’t a simply market correction (Whatever THAT is)? But my point is: why are drops sometimes traumatic and sometimes ho-hum?

Personally, I believe that a lot of it is simple psychology. When we feel good, bad blips are almost ignored. When we’re unsure, every downturn is magnified. So, does that mean I think that much of what happens is based on perception?

In terms of business, yes, I think I do. Consequently, I think the same way I do about oil prices: get a backbone, people. Don’t fret about imagined future worries so much that you can’t act today except out of fear, and don’t let today ruin the future. Just, do your job.

That’s all I’ve got. If it’s too vague, well, what do expect out of general principles?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Shout Out to Barack!

Thank you, Senator Obama, for selecting Joe Biden to be your running mate. For while I am not rash enough to predict a certain McCain/Palin victory in November, I think you’ve given them a fighting chance.

You played it safe, and John McCain rolled the dice. I will note that that yet could backfire on him, but credit where it’s due: the selection of Palin was a bold, intuitive move (wait a minute; aren’t Democrats and liberals the only ones allowed to be bold and intuitive?) while you decided to be (oh how much this delights me to say!) conservative. Bet you’re reconsidering not picking Hillary now, eh, buddy?

The Delaware Senator was in Michigan recently, and I have to believe that in light of all this his charge that a McCain term would be an extension of Bush policies sure sounded hollow. And after his other gaffes (telling a wheelchair bound supporter to stand up; is Joe a Pentecostal preacher on the side?) it really makes your choice for veep rife with potential trouble too. Palin should take him in debate short of a major flub herself.

As McCain appears to be playing up his choice so that the ticket seems equal, giving Palin almost the same stature as himself in ads, he must think he’s found something. It’s going to be an interesting ride these next few weeks.

Thank you again, Senator Obama, from the bottom of this little old right wing heart!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Final Indignity.

As I opened my morning newspaper today, I shot to the sports section as usual. It reported to me that what I had known for weeks was now a mathematical certainty: the Detroit Tigers were eliminated from playoff contention. The bulllpen, again, could not hold a lead.

It was supposed to be our year; many pundits saw an easy ride to a World Series triumph for the club. But as with many sure things, this wasn't such a great call in the end. Injuries hurt us, but lack of execution and poor management hurt too.

I'm no fan of Jim Leyland; he overmanages. Sure, most managers do nowadays, but his actions are particularly galling: taking out a fresh pitcher in the tenth inning of a game against Cleveland, a pitcher who had only faced one batter and got him out, Grady Sizemore no less, only to see the replacement allow a winning homer. To a .235 hitter. Nice move, Skip.

Sure, the book mave had called for that. Ever think that maybe you're reading the wrong book?

Ah well. At least they aren't the Lions. Tiger losses are frustrating, but Lions losses are embarrassing.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Okay, He's a Nice Guy.

I received an e-mail from a friend asking me to support Barack Obama essentially because the Senator is a good guy and a consensus builder; it came in the form of a letter from a third party. Without naming that letter writer, this is my response.

I debated long and hard about replying to it. In the end, I decided that I had to. It's only fair that if people want me to consider their opinions that they should be expected to consider mine. Remember, views like mine are presumably part of any consensus which our country may need to build. That is, if the consensus builders are true to their creed.

I simply am not impressed that someone who knows Barack Obama thinks he's a good guy. I don't doubt that there are many people who know John McCain personally and think he's a good guy too. Having said that, I will skip over much of what my friend’s friend’s missive says in his defense of the Illinois Senator as superfluous. He likes the guy he intends to vote for. I would have expected nothing less. Even some of the other defenses he offers (Obama sees the big picture) I find unhelpful. The obvious response is that I think McCain sees the big picture more clearly. Consequently, we can go no further on that basis in determining for whom to cast a ballot.

My problem with Obama has little to do with consensus building. In the first place, to ask me to support someone merely because he is a consensus builder has scant value. It asks me to automatically accept as a moral good consensus building as consensus building; it begs the question of what type of consensus is being built, and in this case, what type of consensus Obama supported. Consensus is the sort of thing which must be taken on a case by case basis; further, there are times when I don't think any reasonable person should want to come to consensus with their opposition.

Yet it is more than that. It is that he and I have fundamental differences of opinion on issues where there can be little, if any, consensus. I am against abortion; he is for it (and before I am accused and summarily dismissed as being a single issue voter, how many folks out there will not ever vote for a candidate who is against abortion simply because that candidate is against it?). I support the war in Iraq; he does not. He supports the efforts of those who believe in global warming, which will only hurt job creation while increasing the cost of energy on the very same middle class he's supposedly so eager to help. They'll need his proposed tax cuts to heat their homes and get to work. That is, if their jobs aren't outsourced because the burden of doing business in the US is too high.

On broader issues, ones which go beyond him personally, I lean heavily towards the GOP. Democrats tend to support higher taxes; Republicans tend to favor lower. And I don't mean for the middle class; I mean lower taxes across the board. Say what you will, it's the people with money who create jobs, not the average Joe (by and large). I am for smaller government; the Democrats are for larger. Larger government hurts more than it helps, as the right hand will generally not know what the left is doing. It leads to inefficiency at best, and infringment of basic rights at worst.

That doesn't mean that I think Republicans always right. The No Child Left Behind Act is a bureaucratic nightmare which George W. Bush should have never pushed, and the Republicans have not been true enough to their creed in limiting government in recent years. But why, then, would I support a party which avowedly intends to increase it?

Barack Obama has a comprehensible public policy, the letter writer says. McCain doesn't? I'm sorry, but that's simply empty praise. No one running for President in this day and age, at least in the major parties, has not put together a 'comprehensive and comprehensible package' of public policies initiatives. It tells us nothing, not one iota, about Obama’s understanding of the issues or what value his ideas hold. It simply tells us he’s made policy statements. As with consensus, it begs the question of the value of the statements.

We’re told how difficult Illinois Republicans made it for Illinois Democrats to get things done when Barack was in Springfield. That’s an empty complaint. Do let’s not be naive; the party in power generally tries to blunt the will of the party out of power, and the Democrats are as guilty as anyone on that issue. The Democrats quickly made toast of Robert Bork way back when rather than allow a Republican President to get his way with a Supreme Court justice once they had the power to do it. No consensus building there. But that’s the name of the game, folks: we elect people to formulate and put in place public policy based upon what we, the majority of the voters, favor. It’s supposed to work that way, and I expect nothing less of my Democratic friends. They vote for Democrats because they want Democratic ideas put in force, and dare I say they expect Democrats to blunt Republican issues when in power. It is intellectual dishonesty to assert otherwise.

All that said, I think I’ve made my point. If you’ve read this far, thank you. Please comment if you are so moved. I assure you I want any and all debate here kept civil and respectful. Either way, vote for who you will in November. I certainly shall, and would be proud to have a beer with anybody of any party afterward.

Friday, September 12, 2008

This just in...

It was reported yesterday that more people were murdered in Chicago this past summer than soldiers killed in Iraq.

The Democrats immediately insisted that we must pull out of the Illinois city.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Physician, Heal Thyself.

Republican Ron Paul will not endorse John McCain for President. That’s his right of course, but it still leaves a bad odor. In fact, I would have to say that it’s a classic case of sour grapes.

The Congressman says that he wants to engender greater support for third parties and again, that’s his prerogative. Maybe he is truly acting on a principle he believes in deeply. Yet it smacks of that foolish consistency which ultimately condemns libertarians and all third party candidates and voters to second class electoral status. When you demand absolute and unyielding adherence to a complete set of ideals you place yourself in jeopardy of never getting any of those ideals in place.

We live in an imperfect world. We can’t get everything we want; there are too many compteting factors working against us. We must compromise (except, of course, on the most basic and essential questions) or we will not move an inch, we will not progress. It’s a point which took me years to concede; still, it’s the way things are, and if we aren’t dealing in reality, what are we doing?

If the Founders had thought the way modern libertarians do, there would be no United States today. Think, Mr. Paul, where might you be without the good ol’ U. S. of A. In a gulag, perhaps, or under house arrest in China? Or, likely, I must believe, somewhere worse? As Ben Franklin said of himself and his peers, ‘We’re not demigods; we’re men, nothing more, doing the best we can under trying circumstances.’

Try a little harder to understand that. Then let's see exactly how much effect you can have on the greater society.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Wife's Anniversary

All right, all right, it's mine too. Or at least, ours is coming up, and as usual I have no idea what to get her.

Sure, she already has all she needs: me, of course. But it seems that won't do on its own merits, though darned if I know why. So I'm where I always am with anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas: what to get? I'm no kind of shopper, and while I've hit upon some things which have really done well with the gift receiver (done well? Is that proper grammar?) I have no clue what to do now.

What is the 28th Anniversary anyway? Fools gold? Garden gnomes? Renaissance paintings? Gucci? Naw, she doesn't like Gucci. I hope. I mentioned to her that a mention in someone's blog would be quite impressive. She did not concur.

Alcohol would be a good thing, if a little gauche. But as she always heads for the liqour cabinet whenever I start a project or begin waxing philosophic, I would think it would have some value.

Either way, wish me luck my friends. And Happy 28th Anniversary, dear!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Primadonna Monica

With Kwame Kilpatrick soon to be gone and Ken Cockrell, Jr. lined up to become mayor of Detroit, things should be looking up. Then comes the realization that Monica Conyers becomes president of our City Council, and optimism wanes.

Yes, the Monica Conyers who had the police called into a problem of some bizarre sort in Denver at the Democratic National Convention. The same primadonna Monica who, in a fit if rage, called Ken Cockrell 'Shrek', yet demands folks respect her. The same Monica Conyers married to that paragon of socialism, John Conyers. What did she do now?

She greeted the press outside of her office yesterday by saying, "You guys are evil."

Well, well. There's hope for her after all.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Same Old Same Old. Very, Very Old.

I started to type today's blog entry yesterday, about the very subject I am in fact blogging about now. I was going to blog about The Detroit Lions losing their season opener, and about how typical Lions it was after a 4-0 preseason. Then I thought, come on, give them a chance. They're playing Atlanta. So I waited.

Bad move.

I could have saved myself the typing this morning by typing it out yesterday and just doing the old copy and paste. The Lions were pasted by the Falcons 34-13. Atlanta scored touchdowns, very impressive TDs I might add, on their first three drives. The Lions were never in it. Not really; making it look close (21-14 at halftime) doesn't count. It could have been a mere fluke.

What's the lesson in this? One I've had to relearn, one I should never forget. Yet like most Lions fans, it's one we'd like to put in the dustbin of gridiron history but can't. That's sad, as we would be so much happier people if we could.

Never, ever, believe in the Lions. Never.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Blast from the Past?

I spent an interesting Saturday night wandering around a local event known as the Dally in the Alley. It started years ago as, well, a dally in an alley, a party where people sold things and communists and anarchists met to discuss how to change the world. Now it blocks off two streets and seems to concentrate more on selling baubles and trinkets and playing load, annoying music. I’m sure the reds and the anarchists were still there somewhere; the one value the music had was that it drowned them out.

Rarely have I seen such an eclectic mix of folks. Mostly it was weirdoes from years ago and drunk college students simply out to party. More than once I wanted to tell one of the oddballs: ‘Hey, the sixties called; they want their tie-dye back.’ All were harmless enough though, despite the occasional sneer I got when passersby noticed I was wearing an Army T-shirt and a Military Police cap. Yes, I wore them to provoke, I’ll admit. Yet other than the sneers, nothing. It’s just as well. Aging hippies and drink addled sophomores wouldn’t be particularly challenging adversaries. It would have been fun, though, to have one little altercation. Just like cow tipping. “Hey, Fascist, what’s with the Army stuff?’ Then you just push them over and they flail and moo on the ground.

They had good beer, which was really all I went for. I had a nice bohemian ale from a local microbrewery which went down well. The guy manning the taps was one of those sneering at my attire, but he took the four bucks for the beer from me quickly enough. In fact, he sneered, then I asked for the brew, and his entire demeanor changed. He promptly poured it, and thanked me with a smile for the purchase.

I had made a point after all. Say all you want about the USA, but one thing rang clear in that den of leftist iniquity: Capitalism rules!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A hopefully golden Silence

I started to write about several different things in the last few days and have not; it’s a tribute to my sometimes lack of discipline yet perhaps the gods simply keeping my mouth shut that I don’t get into too much trouble. Either way, I do have some reason behind my silence.

I could have spoken more about Kwame Kilpatrick, but what new can be said? He is so clearly an arrogant, self satisfied jerk (he even gives politicians a bad name!) that it seems anymore to glorify the man even when denouncing his antics. So we’ve ‘set him up for a comeback’, in his own words. I believe that speaks the loudest and truest about his value to us and his own inflated sense of self worth. What more can be said?

Now, Sarah Palin, that’s a story. She rocked the house Wednesday evening, and the Dems had better be quaking in their boots at the prospect of what she could to their chances in November. She may fail spectacularly; she is inexperienced on the national stage. Still, some of our best leaders came from relatively nowhere. Think, and I very much mean this comparison, Abe Lincoln. Shame on CNN for trying to downplay her impact on the audience both in the convention hall and on television; so much for big media objectivity. Nevertheless, I don’t see how I could have helped her, given the overall wide and public early approval of her speech. So I kept quiet.

I guess what I hope to do is to find the lesser but yet important things to say, things the major media aren’t addressing. Not that those two tales are unimportant. They’ve just been covered by others and I didn’t see what I could add to the discussion. I’m not saying that I won’t keep quiet about such in the future. Right now, it simply seemed their times to, well, shine on their own merits. Or demerits, in Kilpatrick’s case. Silence, letting the story tell itself, is sometimes the best teacher.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Abstinance and Intellect

Sadly, we have our first chink in the armor of Sarah Palin; her 17 year old daughter is pregnant out of wedlock. This is of course a family issue and must be dealt with on that level, and it is apparently being viewed as such. Good; that is well and proper.

How it should not be seen is as an example of why abstinence only sex education is flawed. Laura Berman, a sex psychologist, asserted on the later edition of the Today show this morning that teen pregnancy is typically only delayed in an abstinence only environment. Teens still need, according to the erstwhile doctor, to be taught contraceptive use.

What this woman ignores is the very real and obvious truth that you can’t call something wrong (in this case sex outside of wedlock, or at the least sex outside of being able to handle the likely results of sex) and in the next sentence tell people how to do that same very wrong thing and not get caught in an unwanted situation. It is double talk which can only lead to cynicism, and any young lad or lass of any intellect will see that.

We do not teach our young that stealing is wrong yet also tell them how to get away with it if they elect to take someone else’s property anyway. If I tell John Jones that it is wrong to steal Sam Smith’s ten dollars yet follow it up with the explanation that if he must take it, do it when Sam is looking the other way, I am in fact telling John that it’s okay to steal, plain and simple.

There can be no other conclusion unless you’re intellectually dishonest. And if you’re that, well, we have a window into your soul.

Let’s just pray you have the sense to draw the curtain.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day in Detroit

Barack Obama will be in Detroit today. That's fitting enough, as Detroit and unions and Democrats go back a long way. But will he say anything worthwhile? Personally, I think it's rather inefficient for any politician to play to a crowd which already is gaga over them. But I suppose that's to be expected, and I guess you have to careful not to isolate your core. And as Detroit is an expected jump off point for a Democratic campaign, why mess with history?

So come on down, Barack. I'm grilling; stop by for a hot dog.