Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Seventh Son — Johnny Rivers
Sympathy for the Devil — Rolling Stones
His Eye is on the Sparrow — Marvin Gaye
Chinese Checkers — Booker T. and the MG's
The Tide is High — Blondie
Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams
(and Dream Your Troubles Away) — Art Tatum
I Will — Beatles
Sherry Darling — Bruce Springsteen
Whistling in the Dark — They Might Be Giants
Hey Tonight — Creedence Clearwater Revival
It was nearly two weeks ago that the House of Representatives, acting in a near-frenzy after the disclosure of bonuses paid to executives of AIG, passed a bill that would impose a 90 percent retroactive tax on those bonuses. Despite the overwhelming 328-93 vote, support for the measure began to collapse almost immediately. Within days, the Obama White House backed away from it, as did the Senate Democratic leadership. The bill stalled, and the populist storm that spawned it seemed to pass.
But now, in a little-noticed move, the House Financial Services Committee, led by chairman Barney Frank, has approved a measure that would, in some key ways, go beyond the most draconian features of the original AIG bill. The new legislation, the "Pay for Performance Act of 2009," would impose government controls on the pay of all employees -- not just top executives -- of companies that have received a capital investment from the U.S. government. It would, like the tax measure, be retroactive, changing the terms of compensation agreements already in place. And it would give Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner extraordinary power to determine the pay of thousands of employees of American companies.
As David Bowie once asked, do you remember your President Nixon? He tried this back in 1971 and it didn't go particularly well. Of course, now that the smart people are in control there won't be any unintended consequences like runaway inflation, because the economic responses of Treasury Secretary Geithner will be so finely calibrated that they will be fail-safe. And if you are even slightly skeptical of this serendipitous outcome, our Congressional betters are happy to correct such retrograde thinking:
Rep. Alan Grayson, the Florida Democrat who wrote the bill, told me its basic message is "you should not get rich off public money, and you should not get rich off of abject failure." Grayson expects the bill to pass the House, and as we talked, he framed the issue in a way to suggest that virtuous lawmakers will vote for it, while corrupt lawmakers will vote against it.
"This bill will show which Republicans are so much on the take from the financial services industry that they're willing to actually bless compensation that has no bearing on performance and is excessive and unreasonable," Grayson said. "We'll find out who are the people who understand that the public's money needs to be protected, and who are the people who simply want to suck up to their patrons on Wall Street."
Actually, I agree with Rep. Grayson. People shouldn't get rich off public money and should not get rich off of abject failure. And if we extend the logic, I would expect to see Rep. Grayson returning most of his income to the U.S. Treasury and further expect him to reside in a youth hostel while he's in Washington. I don't think such expectations are excessive and unreasonable -- do you?
Monday, March 30, 2009
Too many people in this story assumed they could know the inherently unknowable. This belief was fed by a constant stream of whiz-bang new technology, mathematics, and product offerings - each one increasing the fallacious assumption of certainty and invulnerability in its own way. It's not the first time in human history people were humbled in the attempt to assert human mastery over areas of chaos and doubt. And it won't be the last.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
The Obama administration asked Rick Wagoner, the chairman and CEO of General Motors, to step down and he agreed, a White House official said.
On Monday, President Barack Obama is to unveil his plans for the auto industry, including a response to a request for additional funds by GM and Chrysler. The plan is based on recommendations from the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry, headed by the Treasury Department.
The White House confirmed Wagoner was leaving at the government's behest after The Associated Press reported his immediate departure, without giving a reason.
Guess now we know what HopeandChange is.
A pistol was still smoking, a man lay on the floor
Mr. Oswald said he had an understanding with the law
He said he heard about a couple living in the USA
He said they traded in their baby for a Chevrolet
Let's talk about the future, now we've put the past away
Pay attention, everyone. Pay attention.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
HILLARY CLINTON’S most effective quip, in her long struggle with Barack Obama
for the Democratic nomination last year, was that the Oval Office is no place for on-the-job training. It went to the heart of the nagging worry about the silver-tongued young senator from Illinois: that he lacked even the slightest executive experience, and that in his brief career he had never really stood up to powerful interests, whether in his home city of Chicago or in the wider world. Might Mrs Clinton have been right about her foe?
His performance has been weaker than those who endorsed his candidacy, including this newspaper, had hoped. Many of his strongest supporters—liberal columnists, prominent donors, Democratic Party stalwarts—have started to question him. As for those not so beholden, polls show that independent voters again prefer Republicans to Democrats, a startling reversal of fortune in just a few weeks. Mr Obama’s once-celestial approval ratings are about where George Bush’s were at this stage in his awful presidency. Despite his resounding electoral victory, his solid majorities in both chambers of Congress and the obvious goodwill of the bulk of the electorate, Mr Obama has seemed curiously feeble.
Though he campaigned as a centrist and promised an era of post-partisan government, that’s not how he has behaved. His stimulus bill attracted only three Republican votes in the Senate and none in the House. This bodes ill for the passage of more difficult projects, such as his big plans for carbon-emissions control and health-care reform. Keeping those promises will soon start to bedevil the administration. The Republicans must take their share of the blame for the breakdown. But if Mr Obama had done a better job of selling his package, and had worked harder at making sure that Republicans were included in drafting it, they would have found it more difficult to oppose his plans.
If Mr Obama cannot work with the Republicans, he needs to be certain that he controls his own party. Unfortunately, he seems unable to. Put bluntly, the Democrats are messing him around. They are pushing pro-trade-union legislation
(notably a measure to get rid of secret ballots) even though he doesn’t want them to do so; they have been roughing up the bankers even though it makes his task of fixing the economy much harder; they have stuffed his stimulus package and his appropriations bill with pork, even though this damages him and his party in the eyes of the electorate. Worst of all, he is letting them get away with it.
But Mr Obama has a long way to travel if he is to serve his country—and the world—as he should. Take the G20 meeting in London, to which he will head at the end of next week. The most important task for this would-be institution is to set itself firmly against protectionism at a time when most of its members are engaged in a game of creeping beggar-thy-neighbour. Yet how can Mr Obama lead the fight when he has just pandered to America’s unions by sparking a minor trade war with Mexico? And how can he set a new course for NATO at its 60th-anniversary summit a few days later if he is appeasing his party with talk of leaving Afghanistan?He can't do these things, because he is not a transformational figure. He is, at bottom, a very conventional Democrat. He is doing what his party does. We saw it in 1977, when a new president made symbolic changes but didn't project strength in doing so. We can avoid the bad music of 1977, but we shouldn't expect the politics to get any smarter when we keep electing the same orchestra, no matter how outwardly impressive the fellow at the podium is.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Dad, you're just looking in the wrong place.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Mickey Kaus has published a transcript of one JournoList exchange regarding Marty Peretz, the longtime majordomo of The New Republic. Put it this way -- no one is going to confuse this exchange, titled "Marty Peretz is a Crazy-Ass Racist" with the Algonquin Round Table. Check out this outstanding bit of discourse from the excitable Eric Alterman:
Quit lying about my record, Jonathan Chait. Or at least check the archives before descinding into Kirchickism. What I posted about Eve was an article I PUBLISHED. It could hardly have been going behind her back to PUBLISH an article, could it? What I explained when you last leveled this false accusation ... [SNIP] ... was the fact that had I known Eve was on the list, I would not have posted it here, even though it was relevant to the discussion at hand, because a) I had no wish to hurt the feelings of someone I had never met, and b) this is no less important, I respect the value of civility on this list. As you well know, there are plenty of attacks going on between yourself, Matt, Ezra, Spencer, and myself that do not make it onto this list because we respect the importance of civility here. Or at least we did.... I expect Ezra will want to intervene here, but please do feel free to forward our exchange to Marty. I
can only imagine how proud he'd be....
Meow. Sounds like high school with a thesaurus, doncha think? At least at my high school, instead of petty gossiping the kids played Sheepshead instead. There's a lot more at the link. Conservatives have plenty of things to worry about these days -- a third-rate chatroom of catty lefty journalists is hardly one of them.
‘This was a crisis that was fostered and boosted by irrational behaviour of people that are white, blue-eyed, that before the crisis looked like they knew everything about economics,’ he declared.
‘Now they have demonstrated that they don’t know anything about economics.’
President Lula, head of Brazil’s main left-wing party, said that ‘no black man or woman, no indigenous person, no poor person’ had been in any way culpable for the global banking crisis.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I give Maria a lot of credit, because she's been a pretty good sport about all the hassles she's had to endure. She's an amazingly tough-minded kid and she doesn't really feel sorry for herself. One of the things that I've noticed is that children, for all the gaps in the knowledge and all the fears they have, are often better at adapting to challenges than some adults are. Maria is that way and we see a lot of resilience every time we go to Gillette. You see something that might break your heart every time you go there, but you also see a lot of hope and even more joy.
As a parent it is your responsibility to teach your children, to impart the hard-got wisdom you've gained over the course of your life. But I'm convinced that Maria has taught me more than I'll ever be able to teach her.
I understand how retention bonuses work because I earned one from Bank of America in 2006. The circumstances were different — B of A had decided to close its Minnesota offices and was moving operations to Hillsboro, Oregon. As a result of this, I ended up losing my job. B of A knew that the move would be disruptive to its business, so it offered me and a number of my colleagues the opportunity to earn a retention bonus if we stayed with the company while it wound down its operations in Minnesota. While the bonus was only a fraction of what the AIG folks earned, it represented the equivalent of an additional 2-3 months' salary. Rather than leave B of A early, I stayed on and worked to the end.
It was the right thing for B of A to do. While I was hardly irreplaceable, it would have hurt the line of business substantially if I'd left early. That is why companies pay retention bonuses. I never felt bad about taking the bonus, because I'd earned it.
No matter what you might think of AIG generally, it had a legitimate business reason to pay such bonuses, because retaining people who can do complicated tasks is a big challenge. If you want to keep people in position, you have to pay them. And since DeSantis was a "dollar a year" man, he essentially worked for free this year, since he is now in the position of having to give up his bonus. And now AIG won't have his services for much longer. Perhaps one of AIG's critics can do the work that DeSantis does, but I wouldn't bet on it.
In talking about the torrent of red ink that's coming, Obama said this:
First of all, I suspect that some of those Republican critics have a short memory, because, as I recall, I'm inheriting a $1.3 trillion deficit, annual deficit, from them. That would be point number one. Point number two. Both under our estimates and under the CBO estimates, both -- the most conservative estimates out there, we drive down the deficit over the first five years of our budget. The deficit is cut in half. And folks aren't disputing that.May I dispute that? If you look at the numbers, the reason the deficit gets cut in half is that he starts with the disastrous year we are currently enduring. Even under his most rosy scenario, he never cuts budget deficits below the levels we had during the profligate Bush administration.
He also says this:
But I'm -- look, I'm not going to lie to you. It is tough. As I said, that's why the critics tend to criticize, but they don't offer an alternative budget.I don't have time to look for it right now, but I'd be willing to bet I can find one. And when I do, I'll let you know what it says.
One last point, on charitable giving. Obama wants to limit the ability of the evil rich to deduct charitable donations. Charities are worried about this, but Obama is pretty blithe about it:
QUESTION: It's not the well-to-do people. It's the charities. Given what you've just said, are you confident the charities are wrong when they contend that this would discourage giving?
OBAMA: Yes, I am. I mean, if you look at the evidence, there's very little evidence that this has a significant impact on charitable giving. I'll tell you what has a significant impact on charitable giving, is a financial crisis and an economy that's contracting. And so the most important thing that I can do for charitable giving is to fix the economy, to get banks lending again, to get businesses opening their doors again, to get people back to work again. Then I think charities will do just fine.
This is worth a post of its own. And I'll get to that anon.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I haven't gotten around to understanding the whole Twitter thing yet, but from what I can tell that you only need one Twitter feed. So I've chosen Christopher Walken's Twitter Feed. If you imagine reading it in Walken's voice, it is comedy gold. Thanks to Mitch for bringing it to my attention.
My friend Scourge has returned to blogging from a long hiatus. The internet is much better with her return.
Anarchy in the U.K., The Sex Pistols
Ghost Town, The Specials
Don't Sit on My Jimmy Shands, Richard Thompson
Mary-Anne with the Shaky Hand, The Who
White Honey, Graham Parker
Working at the Car Wash Blues, Jim Croce
Message in Our Music, The O'Jays
Ain't No Mountain High Enough, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
Cry Baby, Janis Joplin and the Full Tilt Boogie Band
Old Man, Neil Young
Monday, March 23, 2009
- I recently had a situation on the blog where an anonymous poster put some information in my comments section about another individual. The information was technically correct but was misleading. Since this is my blog and has my name on it, I am responsible for the content that appears here. I'd rather not take a chance on having something appear here that turns out to be wrong or malicious or libelous. By instituting comment moderation, I should be able to stop that from happening.
- I've thought about barring anonymous comments, but I understand that some people have good reasons for posting anonymously. So for now, I'm going to continue to allow it.
- I fully expect to approve and publish 99.99% of the comments I receive going forward. I haven't nuked more than a half dozen comments in the 3+ years I've been blogging and that won't change. I've been very fortunate that my commenters have been thoughtful people. There is very little rancor on this blog because of it. I fully expect that to remain the case.
Thank you to everyone who supports this feature.
And right on cue, here's something really stupid:
The Environmental Protection Agency's new leadership, in a step toward confronting global warming, submitted a finding that will force the White House to decide whether to limit greenhouse gas emissions under the nearly 40-year-old Clean Air Act.This is a masterpiece in understatement. To put it simply -- if the Clean Air Act is used as a rationale for challenging anything that might cause "global warming," there won't be much of anything happening. One thing has been quite clear in the years since the Clean Air Act was first passed; it is an ideal way for enviornmentalists to litigate the hell out of pretty much any project. It's well-nigh impossible to bring new power plants online these days because such projects are fought every step of the way.
Under that law, EPA's conclusion -- that such emissions are pollutants that endanger the public's health and welfare -- could trigger a broad regulatory process affecting much of the U.S. economy as well as the nation's future environmental trajectory. The agency's finding, which was sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget without fanfare on Friday, also reversed one of the Bush administration's landmark decisions on climate change, and it indicated anew that President Obama's appointees will push to address the issue of warming despite the potential political costs.
It's also possible that the promised infrastrucure projects that are part of the stimulus package will be slowed or stopped outright because of such findings. Would building that new highway produce more CO2? Sure it would. Can't have it, then!
To put things in perspective, consider the testimony of another Obamanoid:
Last month, Howard Frumkin, who directs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Environmental Health, testified before a Senate committee that the CDC "considers climate change a serious public health concern" that could accelerate illnesses and deaths stemming from heat waves, air pollution, and food- and water-borne illnesses.Think about how stupid this is. One of the primary reasons that water-borne illnesses are rare in the United States is that we have outstanding sewage treatment plants. Illnesses like cholera are almost nonexistent here because we are able to clean the water we consume. It was a huge story when Milwaukee had a problem with cryptosporidium a few years ago; in many parts of the world such pathogens are a given in the water supply. It's actually one of the triumphs of public works that liberals ought to celebrate. But these plants require maintenance and, in some cases, replacement. Now imagine a regulatory scheme that stops construction of such plants because they would inevitably cause a rise in greenhouse emissions. Could you have an EPA that, through its attempts to regulate CO2, would cripple our ability to undertake projects that are necessary for public health and public safety? If you have doubts, you aren't really paying attention.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
- Depending on the numbers you look at, there are about 165,000-170,000 people living in the St. Cloud area these days. I swear that there were at least 165,000 cars going down the roads in the confluence of Highways 15, 23 and 75, the area around the Holiday Inn and the Crossroads Center mall on Saturday afternoon. Traffic on those roads was every bit as bad as it is around Rosedale or some of the other malls in the Twin Cities. If there's been a lull in economic activity in St. Cloud, you could have fooled me.
- There were a lot of kids at the hotel and my kids had a fine time splashing around the water -- they have two full-size pools and five pools altogether -- and playing games in the other recreation areas at the hotel. It's a nice trip from where we live, because we can get up there in less than an hour and yet it is decidedly out of town, even though you can still get the Twin Cities radio and television stations there.
- I did get to watch a little of the NCAA basketball tournament over the weekend. While I'm disappointed that my beloved Marquette Warriors (I know, officially Golden Eagles but they'll always be the Warriors) and Wisconsin Badgers both got blown away in Boise today, the tournament has been its usual fun. And I am happy to tell you that I have 15 of the 16 teams in the Sweet Sixteen correct. And I have to give my son Ben a lot of credit for picking Cleveland State to beat Wake Forest in the first round. Brad Carlson posted his bracket and so far Ben and I are both beating Brad. But we'll see how it turns out.
- I also saw the opening skit on Saturday Night Live. The comedians of the world sure seem afraid to make fun of Barack Obama.
- I'm going to be making a few housekeeping changes to the blog in the next day or so. Stay tuned.
Friday, March 20, 2009
According to Jake Tapper, Obama and Leno talked bowling.
Towards the end of his approximately 40-minute appearance, the president talked about how he’s gotten better at bowling and has been practicing in the White House bowling alley.
He bowled a 129, the president said.
“That’s very good, Mr. President,” Leno said sarcastically.
It’s “like the Special Olympics or something,” the president said.
When asked about the remark, the White House had no comment.
Good grief. This guy is the Leader of the Free World? Back to you, Anchoress:
Perhaps President Obama, who received a rather tidy Book Advance just before he was sworn in, (does anyone else remember how Newt Gingrich got castigated for ‘using his office to sell a book’?) should donate some of the proceeds of his advance, say…I dunno, 90% - to the Special Olympics, to show he doesn’t really think that it’s okay to joke about “extra chromosome people” like Al Gore did (yes, I remember
everything). Or, at least, that he should not insult disabled people by comparing them to himself, or to political junkies, in general.
As a political junkie, I can say that.
Sigh. One almost gets tired of saying it, but one must say it, still: Can you IMAGINE what the press and the Dems would do with that, had Bush said it. Can you IMAGINE what the press and the Dems would have done with the Irish PM Teleprompter gaffe (the press has helpfully embargoed the video, so Obama doesn’t have to see it playing 24/7, as Bush would have - had Bush so gaffed). Can you IMAGINE what the press and the Dems would have done if Bush had given the Prime Minister of Great Britain a lousy pack of 50 “Classic” DVD’s that didn’t work in the UK?
Yes, I can imagine the uproar we'd hear if President Bush had comported himself in this way. I think we heard every malapropism that the man ever uttered -- Jacob Weisberg saw to it. Let's give Jake Tapper credit where due: he seems to understand that the job of a White House reporter is to provide information, not to serve as a member of a journalistic Praetorian Guard.
I have only two things to add. First, I have volunteered at Special Olympics events numerous times in my life. I'd recommend the experience to everyone, especially President Obama. Second, since I've been to these events, I can assure you that most Special Olympians are better bowlers than Barack Obama.
Oh, and go read the rest of the Anchoress's piece.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
“The same is true with AIG,” he said. “It was the right thing to do to step in. Here’s the problem. It’s almost like they’ve got — they’ve got a bomb strapped to them and they’ve got their hand on the trigger. You don’t want them to blow up. But you’ve got to kind of talk them, ease that finger off the trigger.”Let's parse this statement a bit, shall we? President Obama says that AIG has a "bomb strapped to them and they've got their hand on the trigger." So they are terrorists, then? And the implication here is that the honchos at AIG willfully built a metaphorical bomb, strapped it to themselves and are now contemplating whether or not to pull the trigger. In other words, one could reasonably believe that the President of the United States is comparing the management of AIG to a terrorist organization. Wow.
And then let's look at the last part: "But you've got to kind of talk them, ease that finger off the trigger." If the AIG executives are the equivalent of suicide bombers, what on earth would you say to them? What sort of talking points are available for discussions with suicide bombers?
It would be desirable if Barack Obama would understand that he is the President of the United States and that when he speaks, each word has tremendous import. If I didn't know better, I'd be thinking that the President of the United States is a deeply irresponsible man. Trouble is, I don't know better.
Somewhere in Juneau, Sarah Palin sits in her office and laughs quietly to herself about all this.
Ed Liddy sized up this situation when he got to AIG and came to the conclusion that the best course for taxpayers and for the financial system was to pay the bonuses. This gets back to something I wrote earlier: If Obama disagrees with Liddy's decision, he should either A) fire Liddy, or B) fire the guy who hired Liddy (Tim Geithner). What he should not do is go along with this Kabuki outrage, in which official Washington pretends it had no idea that big financial institutions — especially failing ones — might need to keep paying their top employees competitive salaries.
Of course, it would be nice if the Obama administration figured out a better way to wind down AIG, but unfortunately, as Rich pointed out the other day, Obama decided that it was far more important to do Great Society II than to formulate a set of clear rules for the orderly liquidation of insolvent non-bank financial institutions. I'm all for figuring out how to get the government out of AIG, but I don't think shaking our fists over these bonuses is getting us closer to a solution.
Whatever happens will have to wait until the President attends to more pressing matters, like appearing on the Tonight Show. No word on whether or not he'll be bringing any members of his Cabinet along to participate in a Very Special Episode of the "Jaywalk All Stars."
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
David Crosby thinks you've let yourself go.
Darn glad that the reformers are in charge now, aren't you?
Who in their right mind would codify in law that bonus payments to executives at bailed-out companies could not be prohibited?
Well, Chris Dodd.
From page H1412 of the Final Stimulus Bill, “SEC. 111. EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE:
'(iii) The prohibition required under clause (i) shall not be construed to prohibit any bonus payment required to be paid pursuant to a written employment contract executed on or before February 11, 2009, as such valid employment contracts are determined by the Secretary or the designee of the Secretary.”
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Night Writer went back three years for his post, and I'm going back 3 years as well. Back in 2006 this feature was in its infancy and I had a readership that on good days approached the high single digits, so I'd be willing to wager that nearly everyone who reads this blog now was otherwise engaged in those days.
Despite my highly Germanic surname, I am one-quarter Irish and therefore have the right to celebrate my ancestors from Counties Cork, Sligo and Wexford. In addition, my favorite dead poet is Yeats (my favorite living poet is this guy, of course), so I mused thus:
We return to William Butler Yeats, this time to his recounting of the events of Easter Rising of 1916:
I HAVE met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.
That woman's days were spent
In ignorant good-will,
Her nights in argument
Until her voice grew shrill.
What voice more sweet than hers
When, young and beautiful,
She rode to harriers?
This man had kept a school
And rode our winged horse;
This other his helper and friend
Was coming into his force;
He might have won fame in the end,
So sensitive his nature seemed,
So daring and sweet his thought.
This other man I had dreamed
A drunken, vainglorious lout.
He had done most bitter wrong
To some who are near my heart,
Yet I number him in the song;
He, too, has resigned his part
In the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,
A terrible beauty is born.
Hearts with one purpose alone
Through summer and winter seem
Enchanted to a stone
To trouble the living stream.
The horse that comes from the road.
The rider, the birds that range
From cloud to tumbling cloud,
Minute by minute they change;
A shadow of cloud on the stream
Changes minute by minute;
A horse-hoof slides on the brim,
And a horse plashes within it;
The long-legged moor-hens dive,
And hens to moor-cocks call;
Minute by minute they live:
The stone's in the midst of all.
Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?
That is Heaven's part, our part
To murmur name upon name,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death;
Was it needless death after all?
For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in a verse -MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.
Yeats was celebrating the heroism of those Irish patriots who fought and died in the Easter Rising of 1916. He wrote this poem much later and it has the elegiac tone of man with many regrets. He even begrudgingly celebrates his enemy MacBride, the "drunken vainglorious lout" who had won the affections of the great love of Yeats' life, Maud Gonne.
I've known a lot of drunken vainglorious louts over the course my life, but my generation didn't face subjugation and the deathless hope that led these men to fight against a force they had no chance to defeat. The primary reason for this is simple enough: my Irish forebears had left long before and had come to America.
Much of the romanticism attached to Ireland stems from the almost endless supply of cruelty and misfortune the Irish have suffered, both at the hands of oppressors and through the disastrous choices that so many Irish have made in response to their circumstances. Like many Americans, my ancestors, bearing the surnames of Donovan and Murphy (among others), emerged from the coffin ships and found nurture in this new land, where their descendants have found better opportunities and better lives. They chose not to stand like MacDonagh and MacBride, Connolly and Pearse, but instead fled the darkness of the Emerald Isle. The irony is that they had to leave places like Wexford, Sligo, and Cork in order to experience the Luck of the Irish, understanding that Branch Rickey was right -- luck is the residue of design. On this St. Patrick's Day, I remain grateful for their sacrifices and the risks they took during their passage, so that I, their great-great-grandson, could enjoy a better life.
Three years on, that still seems right to me. Happy St. Patrick's Day.
Let's stipulate that Soliah would need to take a dozen Dale Carnegie courses to rise to the level of pond scum. There is no doubt that her crimes as a member of the infamous Symbionese Liberation Army in the 1970s were horrible and that the murder of Myrna Opsahl was a particularly despicable crime. I also get that she was not exactly remorseful over the crimes she committed and that most of her champions are annoying self-congratulatory leftists.
Soliah has served her sentence. Her family lives here. If she causes any trouble, there's a phalanx of St. Paul cops who will be ready to whisk her off the pokey at a moment's notice. Unless there is a statutory reason that she should serve her parole in California, there's no good reason to keep her out of the state. The best way to deal with Kathleen Soliah is to let her fade into the obscurity she so justly deserves. And self-congratulatory proclamations from our side of the aisle are just as odious as they are from the Left.
Two caveats: if Soliah so much as makes a peep about politics, ridicule and scorn are very much in order. And if she attempts to market any memoir or another of her adventures in Jacobin cooking, all proceeds should go directly to the Opsahl family.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
The game was always the same. The dealer would be playing the cards and the so-called winner would be winning money by picking the right card. Eventually someone would let their greed and gullibility get the best of them and would ask if they could get in on the action. Of course they could play. The mark would sit down, win a hand or two but then something weird would happen and they'd be out the money they'd won and whatever else the stake had been initially. Usually it wasn't a lot of money -- $10 or $20, but the occasional refugee from Happy Hour would keep playing and would eventually go home out $100 or so and needing an excuse for the wife. You can't win in the game, of course.
I don't suspect that Larry Pogemiller is a card sharp, but his victims in the Minnesota Senate are certainly easy marks. The proposal came down last week from the Democratic leadership indicated that the powerful teacher's union lobby was actually going to get nicked a bit. Pogey said that up to $1 billion (with a b) of funding would be cut. As the breathless dispatch from Minnesota Public Radio had it:
What is most notable is that Senate Democrats are proposing $1 billion in cuts to early childhood education and K thru 12 schools. K-12 funding is required under the Minnesota Constitution and lawmakers have been reluctant to cut those programs for fear of angering voters. Senate Education Finance Chair Leroy Stumpf, of Plummer, said the depth of the budget problem, along with a sputtering economy, mean all programs have to be on the table.
Early childhood education and K-12 spending are sacred in Minnesota. It was extraordinary that the Democrats would actually propose cuts. It was a real Nixon to China sort of thing.
If the Republicans were smart, they would have immediately recognized this as a ploy and would have pocketed the proposal as the baseline number for more cuts. A clever Republican would have said something like "we welcome this long overdue proposal to bring fiscal sanity to our education system. We'll work to ensure that these painful budgetary changes do not impact the students in the classroom and we'll then pursue existing innovations like Q-Comp to ensure that the best teachers are rewarded for their performance."
As we are too often reminded, Republicans are not smart. Governor Pawlenty immediately followed his baser instincts and tried to outflank the Democrats to their left:
"They're using a robotic approach to budgeting which is across the board approaches when we should be prioritizing," Pawlenty said. "Some things are more important than others. That's why we said even in these challenging economic times we'd put more money into education, not less."
T-Paw's motives are primarily focused on two things: winning the news cycle and keeping Q-Comp, which attempts to bring merit pay to the salary structure in education, on line. Tom Dooher and the rest of his droogs at Education Minnesota HATE Q-Comp. Really, really hate it. They want it gone and because the DFL is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Education Minnesota, Larry Pogemiller and the rest of his friends in the Legislature want it gone, too.
Here's what's going to happen. Now that T-Paw, Geoff Michel and the rest of the geniuses who run the Republican Party have ruled out cuts for education, the DFL will groan and suggest other ways to reduce expenditures. I can guarantee you that Q-Comp will be the first thing they cut. And in the endgame that results, they will win. The Democrats will make the choice pretty simple -- if you want to keep Q-Comp, then you will agree to tax clothing in the state. No Tax T-Paw, now boxed in, will have no choice but to kill Q-Comp in order to protect the taxpayers. Education Minnesota will get all the money they want and after the pliant news media around the state publish reports from either the Humphrey Institute (or some other coven along the Mississippi) that show that Q-Comp is ineffective, it will be gone.
But look on the bright side. Tom Dooher and his friends will have so much money after the budget is passed that we'll be able to enjoy another spate of victory lap television ads on the 10 o'clock news. And the KARE Bears and WCCO need that revenue because the car dealers don't have any money to spend on ads these days. It's a win-win!
I do hope that the next ad I see with Dooher on it is filmed in a Chicago El car. That would be truth in advertising.
Cross-posted at Truth vs. the Machine and True North
It really is a silly campaign. What are we saying ‘no’ to? Trillions in new spending? An unpopular, earmark-laden bill that the President himself was embarrassed to sign? A new national energy tax? Releasing Gitmo terrorists into the U.S.? We’d like to thank them for reminding the American people that we are saying ‘no’ to those things.
[W]hat the Democrats don’t want to reveal in all of this is that they don’t need the GOP to pass any of their legislation. They own the government. It’s theirs. Success and failure is all theirs to hold. This is the goal that they’ve spent most of the last eight years trying to reach. And now that they have?
Read the rest. (H/T: Instapundit)
Saturday, March 14, 2009
The new BPOU chair is Nick Quade, an energetic and enthusiastic young conservative who currently serves with the Ramsey County Conservation District. Nick is an extremely bright and principled fellow and he understands well the challenges that are ahead of him. The rest of the board is a mixture of veterans and newcomers, including Deputy Chair Tim Kocon, Secretary Michelle Quade and the invaluable Bev Aplikowski, who returns for another stint as treasurer. The 8 vice chairs include outgoing BPOU Chair Gerry Tietz, Gina Bauman, Doug Blomberg, April King, Glenn Kluthe, Garry Lysiak, James Sculthorp and Lion Templin. Gina currently serves on the New Brighton City Council and Doug and James have been longtime stalwarts in the BPOU.
It's a good leadership group with a mix of veterans and enthusiastic newcomers. I would expect the message that 50B Republicans deliver to our fellow citizens will be one of principled, well-thought out conservatism. That is what is required and this feature will do its part to ensure that the message gets out there. While recent election cycles have been difficult for Republicans, we are in a position to hold our opponents accountable for their performance. The challenge ahead is to identify and prepare candidates who can take our message to our fellow citizens and to strengthen the organization that these candidates will need to help them deliver the message. That work begins now.
Cross-posted at True North
Friday, March 13, 2009
Go home and write
a page tonight.
And let that page come out of you---
Then, it will be true.
Langston Hughes, "Theme for English B"
I've always been particularly fond of this poem, even though my experience growing up in a prosperous town in Wisconsin is quite different from the experience of the protagonist of the Hughes poem, a young black man from Winston-Salem growing up with Jim Crow. One of the reasons that I blog is the idea that it's important to go home and write a page. It's not always easy and there are times, as has been the case this week, where it's easier to post pictures of Eraserhead or go back to the well for music posts repeatedly. Sometimes iTunes can tell stories that you aren't able to muster yourself.
It's been especially hard to write about politics. It's not as if there's any lack of material -- with the Democrats in power, there are any number of outrages and inanites available for even the laziest conservative to skewer. There's not a lot of joy in it, however. The blogosphere is so full of would-be Zolas screeching "J'accuse" that it starts to feel like the aviary at the Milwaukee Zoo, which I always remembered as a place filled with macaws at full throat, a ghastly wall of noise that would leave my ears ringing for days afterward.
We conservatives are doing a lot of screeching these days, but a lot of it is pretty damned incoherent. One of the lies I tell myself is that somehow conservatives, by their nature, are less emotional and more reasoned than our liberal friends. The reason it's ultimately a lie is pretty simple -- a lot of conservatives these days are operating out of emotion.
Many of the emotions are understandable and heartfelt. I was at a meet and greet for the 50B BPOU last night and when you listened to the people who were in the room, the anger and frustration were palpable. There was anger toward the Obama administration, anger toward the Republican Party, anger toward the news media and genuine fear that the people in power are taking the country places that we will regret. I feel all those things, too. I've been convinced for a long time that Barack Obama is going to be a disaster and nothing he's done so far has dissuaded me of that view. It drives me nuts that so many Republican Party operatives are more interested in self-promotion than in trying to build and sustain a principled political movement with a coherent governing philosophy. It all makes perfect sense.
But emotion cannot win the fight that conservatives now face. It's going to take serious, principled stands on the issues and a willingness to take the time to explain why conservative principles are better. It's well-nigh impossible to explain Edmund Burke with a Twitter feed, especially since so many Republicans have lately set principle aside for reasons of expedience. But we have to find a way to make our case. And that means we need to unite.
It's going to take time and effort. We need to start at the bottom and build. The 50B BPOU meets at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning at Christ the King, on 7th Street in New Brighton. The BPOU is where things will begin. Most conservatives understand that the Republican Party is at best an imperfect vessel, but it's the vessel we have. We can only build for the future if we make the foundation for our efforts strong enough.
I write this page because it comes out of me. That is my Theme for 50B. See you tomorrow morning.
Cross-posted at True North
Groovin', Booker T. & the MG's
Embryonic Journey, Jefferson Airplane
Philly Dog, The Mar-Keys
The House That Jack Built, Aretha Franklin
The In Crowd, Ramsey Lewis
It's Wonderful, The Rascals
Land of 1,000 Dances, Wilson Pickett
Wild Mountain Honey, Steve Miller Band
Land of Confusion, Genesis
Meeting Across the River, Bruce Springsteen
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Guilty Pleasures Part Thirty-Nine: Teen Pop Sensations, as chosen by Fearless Maria out of Gino's Personal Record Collection
Fire, Ohio Players
White Moon, The White Stripes
Operator, Jim Croce
Red River Rock, Johnny & the Hurricanes
Lovely Rita, The Beatles
Keep-a-Knockin', Little Richard
Kiko and the Lavender Moon, Los Lobos
The Lady Is a Tramp, Frank Sinatra
Mighty Love, The Spinners
Slave to Love, Bryan Ferry
"She came here with stars in her eyes and left with a bullet in her chest."
"Ethics and morals are living together in a trailer park on the wrong side of the tracks."
- I went to a town hall meeting that our local representative Kate Knuth held last weekend. I've been critical of Kate for a variety of reasons and will remain so. Having said that, I certainly can understand why (a) she has support in this community and (b) it will be difficult to beat her any time soon. The reason has less to do with Kate than with the cross-section of the community that showed up at this meeting. There were about 40 people in the room. We all introduced ourselves and explained why we were there. Of the 40 people in the room, probably 30 were essentially mendicants. They came here for benefits, they need this government blandishment, they are worried about this program or that program. Besides myself and another friend or two of this feature, there were maybe only a handful of others in the room who are more worried about what government can take away from you than what it can give you. And that is the challenge -- the medicants and clients of the state will always be there, will always vote and will always support earnest young suppliers of government largesse like Kate Knuth. The people who end up paying for such things are usually too busy working to attend town hall meetings.
- Which brings us to the matter of politics at the local level. Conservatives are going through a period of navel gaving right now and there's a lot of skepticism about the Republican Party, and with good reason. It is frustrating to deal with the Arne Carlsons and the Tony Bennetts of the world, who call themselves Republicans but often act in ways that are indistinguishable from Democrats. They get by with it for a simple reason: they show up. We're in BPOU season right now and that means it's time for local conservatives to make their voices heard. The best way to do that is to get involved at the local level. The 50B BPOU will take place on Saturday at 9 a.m. at Christ the King, which is on 7th Street NW in New Brighton, a few blocks east of Silver Lake Road. We'll decide who will lead the Republican Party at a local level at that meeting. If you want things to change, you need to start in a place where your voice can be heard. The 50B BPOU is just such a place.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Monday, March 09, 2009
2. The Minneapolis Star Tribune has filed for Chapter 11. The paper may not make money this year, even without the costs of debt coverage. The company said it made $26 million last year, about half of what it made in 2007. The odds are that the Star Tribune will lose money this year if its ad revenue drops another 20%. There is no point for creditors to keep the paper open if it cannot generate cash. It could become an all-digital property, as supporting a daily circulation of more than 300,000 is too much of a burden. It could survive if its rival, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, folds. A grim race.