Friday, October 31, 2008

Perhaps calling it "KKK High School" isn't the best idea....

Up in Duval County they're considering renaming a school currently named for Nathan Bedford Forrest. He was one of the better Civil War generals (for the losing side), and an early "luminary" of the Ku Klux Klan. The Orlando Sentinel thinks it would be a good idea to change the name to something a little less toxic.

I would also note that naming one's on-line fantasy baseball team after N. B. Forrest is also a bad idea. Especially if you play at work.

A-HEM.

...

Actually, that last part isn't really true. You CAN play fantasy baseball at work, and you CAN name your team after an infamous Klansman. What you can't do is read CNN or blogs at work - THOSE offenses will get you fired. I know all of this because I got fired for the latter by a man who did the former. Don't tell me there's no justice in the world, 'cause I already know.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Drip, drip, drip...

Today we found out that Mom's bladder cancer has recurred. How bad has the last year and a half been? So bad that this news hardly registers. It's only bladder cancer! Next she will need another colonoscopy to find out if her bowels have gone cancerous, and to see if even more needs to be removed.

Have I mentioned that 2008 sucks?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

2 for 1

Last week I took a brief, unexpected trip to my sister's home in Georgia. While I was up there I saw an interesting add on the local TV station. If one bought a new Ford F-150 pickup truck, the dealer would give you a free Ford Focus!

My niece (now a grown woman with children of her own) happened to see the commercial too. She said, "I wonder what the catch is?" I said, "The catch is that if you buy the truck, then you MUST take the Focus."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lost.

This interview (now being headlined by Drudge) exposes Obama's total lack of respect for the Constitution, his belief that government should not be limited in any way, his belief in punishing people for success, and his belief that the government should decide who can and should have wealth. [Here's a link to a partial transcript, as I fully expect the Obama people or the Google people to remove this from YouTube soon.] This SHOULD be enough to cost Obama the election. Honestly, he should lose every state by at least 30 or 40 points. That is, IF Americans still believe in limited government, personal responsibility, and individual liberty.

But they don't. So the best that could happen would be that Obama loses a squeaker. But that's also unlikely. Obama is going to win, and win by at least a comfortable margin - both electorally and in the popular vote.

Forget the polls, and whether or not they show a close race or a big win for Obama. The polls have had increasing difficulties both in creating a good random sample (cell phones are partly to blame for this) and in determining the proper weighting to give to each party. The polls are useless this year and should be ignored. Instead look at two other factors, one objective and one subjective.

First, which states are the campaigns focusing on? It's not surprising that they're focusing on states Bush won in 2004 - after all, Bush won because of swing states. Such states are called thus because they swing from election to election. But McCain is working hard in Virginia and North Carolina. That is NOT good. (I expect that link to change, but it currently shows that the McCain campaign will be in Virginia three times in the coming week, Pennsylvania three times, Ohio twice and North Carolina once.)

Second, which campaign feels like a winner? McCain's campaign seems desperate, and McCain campaign workers trying to lay the blame on Palin confirms that his people are trying to save their own asses first and foremost, their candidate be damned. By contrast, Obama's campaign looks confident even when they're telling people that the election will be close and that no one should take anything for granted.

All of this adds up to an Obama win. And Obama doesn't even like the USA, its Constitution, or its founding principles! The game is lost, and the Republic is dead. The time has come to make plans for surviving in a world that despises liberty.

ADDED: Althouse makes the point that Obama's views aren't that extraordinary in the legal profession. That doesn't make me feel any better.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Too charitable.

Dave Schuler is too charitable in his blog post "Both Candidates Suck". He opens with the following:

In just ten days either Sen. John McCain or Sen. Barack Obama will be elected president of the United States. Of that there can be little doubt. I’m still struggling with a decision on which candidate I’ll vote for because, simply and more coarsely than I generally express myself, both candidates suck.
Later he writes:
I think that both Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain are good, decent, honorable men.
Based on the political careers of both men, I'm not sure that either man can be described as good, decent or honorable. Obama has been willing to do anything and associate with anyone to win, apparently for no other purpose than to gain power for himself. McCain hasn't been quite as bad, but given that he dumped his first wife for a rich, connected hottie, he hasn't had to do as much as Obama on that front. But McCain has been quite willing to use his power for his own personal gain. (See his actions against mixed martial arts and his campaign finance "reform" work.) Frankly I think that both of them are crooks, indecent and bad men. Unfortunately, limited government has been destroyed in this country so the election of such men will do more and more damage.

Do ya think?!

From the Orlando Sentinel:

Bit by bit, the new rocket ship that is supposed to blast America into the second Space Age and return astronauts to the moon appears to be coming undone. The latest setback is a computer model that indicates the rocket could crash into its launch tower during liftoff. [emphasis added]

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I welcome our new OVERLORD and MASTER.

I'd better. And you'd better too. Or he and his minions will go after you and your children using every avenue at their disposal.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Transfats! YUM!

This article really makes me want to eat at Bob Evans and Dairy Queen.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Condensed Version of the Presidential Election

A few days ago Jeff Medcalf left a comment on one of Dave Schuler's posts that nicely sums up the Presidential election:

What amuses me — and it’s black comedy (no pun intended) indeed — is that many of the people voting for Obama seem to be doing so on the hope that he doesn’t mean what he says, and most of the people voting for McCain are doing so on the fear that Obama means exactly what he says. What [a long], strange trip it’s been.
I would like to expand on this a little. A great many of Obama's supporters (or at least a great many of his supporters that I encounter) tell me that Obama isn't really as radical as his past associations. He only used the Reverend Wright, Bill Ayers, etc. to get ahead, and that Obama is really the Great Centrist Uniter of All Mankind. But this leads to two sets of questions.

First, assume that Obama did in fact use these people to get ahead, as well as the corrupt Chicago Machine. Why did he do that? After all, we've been told that after he left Harvard, indeed after he left Columbia following his undergraduate work, he could have gone anywhere and done anything. Associating with corrupt politicians, sleazy operators like Tony Rezko, racist agitators, and communist bomb throwers setters was a conscious decision of his as an adult. He didn't grow up there. He owed no one any favors. He had no reason to pick Chicago over any other place to start his political career. So Occam's Razor suggests that Obama does favor the kinds of corrupt and radical politics favored by his associates. Otherwise he could have gone somewhere else and picked other associates.

Second, if Obama did in fact use such people simply to further his own ambitions, we should assume that he now uses centrists to further his own career. "Centrist" Obama supporters have already accepted that Obama is a cynical user. So the question then becomes, "Does Obama believe in anything other than himself?"

I'm having trouble seeing how any of this leads to a good outcome for the country, and I'm having trouble seeing flaws in the logic.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Obama supporters offer the best reason to vote for McCain.

When McCain voters (I hesitate to call most of them fans or supporters) try to convince me to vote for McCain their arguments take on the "Yes ..., but ...." form. (Buffy fans would call these but-faced arguments.) "Yes McCain's stance on campaign finance is bad, but Obama's support of ________ is much worse." "Yes McCain favors government solutions too often, but Obama is practically a socialist." "Yes McCain compromises too much, but imagine Obama working in concert with Pelosi, Reid, et al." Etc. It may not help their case, but it has the charm of acknowledging legitimate problems exist with McCain's candidacy.

But when I encounter Obama partisans online and they find out I don't support their candidate they go straight to insult and invective. The tone is "How dare you?!" Then one will be called a fossil, an ignoramus, a racist, or what have you. Dissent is NOT allowed.

Keep it up, Obama-bots. You may well convince me to vote for McCain yet. It will be much less obnoxious dealing with McCain voters shaking their heads and muttering "I know, I know...." than it will be dealing with Obama's crew of cyber-brown shirts.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

On education

In his Personal Memoirs, Ulysses S. Grant discusses his early education:

The schools, at the time of which I write, were very indifferent. There were no free schools, and none in which the scholars were classified. They were all supported by subscription, and a single teacher—who was often a man or a woman incapable of teaching much, even if they imparted all they knew—would have thirty or forty scholars, male and female, from the infant learning the A B C’s up to the young lady of eighteen and the boy of twenty, studying the highest branches taught—the three R’s, “Reading, ’Riting, ’Rithmetic.” I never saw an algebra, or other mathematical work higher than the arithmetic, in Georgetown, until after I was appointed to West Point. I then bought a work on algebra in Cincinnati; but having no teacher it was Greek to me.

My life in Georgetown was uneventful. From the age of five or six until seventeen, I attended the subscription schools of the village, except during the winters of 1836–7 and 1838–9. The former period was spent in Maysville, Kentucky, attending the school of Richardson and Rand; the latter in Ripley, Ohio, at a private school. I was not studious in habit, and probably did not make progress enough to compensate for the outlay for board and tuition. At all events both winters were spent in going over the same old arithmetic which I knew every word of before, and repeating: “A noun is the name of a thing,” which I had also heard my Georgetown teachers repeat, until I had come to believe it—but I cast no reflections upon my old teacher, Richardson. He turned out bright scholars from his school, many of whom have filled conspicuous places in the service of their States. Two of my contemporaries there—who, I believe, never attended any other institution of learning—have held seats in Congress, and one, if not both, other high offices; these are Wadsworth and Brewster. [emphasis added]
Later he mentions his studies at West Point:
I did not take hold of my studies with avidity, in fact I rarely ever read over a lesson the second time during my entire cadetship. I could not sit in my room doing nothing. There is a fine library connected with the Academy from which cadets can get books to read in their quarters. I devoted more time to these, than to books relating to the course of studies. Much of the time, I am sorry to say, was devoted to novels, but not those of a trashy sort. I read all of Bulwer’s then published, Cooper’s, Marryat’s, Scott’s, Washington Irving’s works, Lever’s, and many others that I do not now remember. Mathematics was very easy to me, so that when January came, I passed the examination, taking a good standing in that branch. In French, the only other study at that time in the first year’s course, my standing was very low. In fact, if the class had been turned the other end foremost I should have been near head. I never succeeded in getting squarely at either end of my class, in any one study, during the four years. I came near it in French, artillery, infantry and cavalry tactics, and conduct.
After graduation, he sought an appointment as an assistant professor of Mathematics at West Point. Having received news favorable tidings, Grant began a course of personal study:
Accordingly I laid out for myself a course of studies to be pursued in garrison, with regularity, if not persistency. I reviewed my West Point course of mathematics during the seven months at Jefferson Barracks, and read many valuable historical works, besides an occasional novel. To help my memory I kept a book in which I would write up, from time to time, my recollections of all I had read since last posting it.
Unfortunately for Grant, the Mexican War ruined his plans and his life took a different course than he had hoped.

Note that years of rote learning (repeating “A noun is the name of a thing” for years on end), reading as many novels as he could lay hand on, and some practice served to make Grant an excellent writer. Have the educational schools and theories of the intervening 160+ years improved matters?

* Quotes from Grant's Personal Memoirs have been taken from here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Polls & Paranoia

I have come to completely distrust the polls. I have no doubt that Obama is ahead right now. I also increasingly suspect that widespread fraud will give Obama an additional point or so in the final outcome, more in some swing states.

But I find it impossible to believe that a man that almost no one had heard of four years ago is about to crush McCain by a popular result that matches what Reagan did to Mondale in 1984. That strains credulity. I'm not sure if the polls are being gamed, or if increasingly diverse forms of telecommunication have ruined the old polling methods, but something isn't right.

Incidentally, the last time someone won an open Presidential election (meaning no incumbent) by that margin was 1928. Somehow that seems appropriate: the winner was Herbert Hoover and I fully expect our next President to have a Hoover-like term.

Aside: Blogger's spell check function finally recognizes both 'Barack' and 'Obama'.

More damned political signs

Driving through College Park (one of the city of Orlando's better middle-to-upper-middle class neighborhoods) Sunday I counted a 10 to 6 advantage for Obama. But McCain leads in area as one family put up a 4' by 6' McCain/Palin sign. Note that I'm only counting houses with signs. Some families have put up two signs in their yard in an effort to make it look like a neighbor also supports their candidate. Sometimes the second sign blocks a neighbor's sign for the other guy. One family has almost completely obstructed the view of their Obama sign by placing a "Vote No on 2" sign directly in front of it.

I do take the same route every time, but I may be paying more or less attention on any given day. I didn't keep a strict count yesterday or today, but it seems like the layout and number of signs varies daily. And I know that the first time I drove through their last week there were more McCain signs. I suspect signs may be stolen at night.

I also drove around the smaller towns of Ocoee and Winter Garden on Sunday. I only saw one sign in Ocoee (McCain), but McCain signs were EVERYWHERE in Winter Garden. I did finally spot one Obama sign, but all the other signs in the yard were for local Republicans so I believe the Obama thing may be a protest vote. (Kim, I forgot about that sign when I told you about this.) I did see one other piece of Obamania in Winter Garden - a bumper sticker on the back of a rusted-out panel van. The van was in desperate need of a junk heap upon which to fling itself.

All told, if McCain wins Ocoee and Winter Garden but loses Winter Park and Orlando, then he's toast in Orange County. At the very least McCain needs to keep it competitive in Orange County if he has any hope of carrying the state.

Bona fide local color

I know people think of the Pacific Northwest when thinking of anti-government kooks that refuse to pay taxes, but we have some in Florida too. Our weather is good whether you're an upright citizen of the US or a genuine sovereign nation!

Joel Brinkle keeps getting arrested for driving without a license. So far, it has happened three times. He doesn't need a license, he said, because, just like his wife, he has proclaimed himself a sovereign nation.
Just read the whole thing, as it gets much funnier.

Note that although they have declared themselves outside of US governmental authority, they still collect Social Security. This fits in well with the comments to this post at Amba's. I almost suspect them of perpetrating a monumental piece of performance art!

More reasons to pass on this election.

Votes in Florida are diluted by the presence of ineligible voters. From the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, via the Orlando Sentinel:

More than 30,000 Florida felons who by law should have been stripped of their right to vote remain registered to cast ballots in this presidential battleground state, a Sun Sentinel investigation has found.

Many are faithful voters, with at least 4,900 turning out in past elections.

An additional 5,600 are not likely to vote Nov. 4 -- they're in prison.
Of course, efforts to purge the rolls before the 2000 election led to howls of rage from Democrats. I wonder why?
Of the felons who registered with a party, Democrats outnumber Republicans more than 2-to-1.
Oh.

I am amused that a local paper could figure this out but the state government claims to be too short-handed to fix the problem. Pray tell, where did all those tax revenues go when property and tourist taxes drove up state and local government revenues from 2002-2007?

And I'm still waiting for someone to look into how many snowbirds vote here and in their home states. If we're not careful someone will accuse us of being some sort of Mickey Mouse state.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Rage Problems

I've been too pissed off to write it myself, but I have had a good deal of rage about all the phony posturing about Republican rage. Fortunately, Glenn Reynolds has written a link-filled post on the matter so I don't have to. Procrastination pays again!

Structural Problems

Dave Schuler points out that government in this country has critical structural problems:

Government in the United States remains mired in a 1950’s model of corporate management and operations. Over the period of the last 30 years, impelled by both domestic and international competition, businesses in the United States have changed the way in which they function in basic ways that result in their producing a lot more with a lot less. Governments haven’t been subject to these pressures and haven’t made these changes. We just can’t afford to continue with a government that works like a big company in 1960. That’s just too expensive but, unfortunately, nobody is talking about this because our current crop of politicians are too invested in things as they are.

[Dave provides two excellent examples in the paragraphs I'm cutting. Go read his whole post.]

Inefficient, antiquated, wasteful, and self-serving government agencies undermine the idea that government can be an effective technology for solving human problems. They delegitimize government and encourage cynicism.
In the comments I make a suitably cynical remark:
Yeah, but government agencies being self-serving is a design feature, not a bug - if you’re working for the government. I don’t see how anyone can reform governments at this point, given the power of the government employee’s unions. And in Illinois aren’t creations like the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority simply an expedient way of granting political favors to people?

I just don’t see how government can be reformed at this point, because no one has the guts to take on the government employees.
The structure of government itself has become one of the biggest problems we face in this country, and I see no way to change it. This is one more reason to pass on voting, as it is one more reason that not a god damned thing will change regardless of who I vote for against.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Political Sign Update

Driving around College Park yesterday I saw many more Presidential election yard than I had seen in Winter Park a few days ago. Driving through the first time I saw one more Obama sign than McCain sign. Coming back I wasn't paying attention until just before I got on I-4, when I saw one Obama sign.

Earlier in the week we drove up to St. Augustine. We took A1A from Daytona to St. Augustine both coming and going. We saw lots of McCain signs, and I believe only one Obama sign the whole trip. (Again, I'm just counting yard signs.)If the best McCain can do is slightly less than 50% in Orange County, then he's toast. Which we all know anyway, but this just adds a little more anecdotal evidence to the pile.

I'm not going to bother.

I've decided to not vote this November. I had already decided to write-in my own name for the Presidency (maybe I could be part of a foot-note!) because the main choices are at least as bad as the fringe choices. And the election between my local Congressman and his opponent has become a “Who’s the biggest scumbag?” contest. So I wouldn’t vote in that race either.

But I have finally decided to skip the whole damned thing because of a combination of three factors. First, under the best of circumstances my vote would only equal that of a crack addict who sold their vote for a rock. Second, under the worst circumstances my vote would only count for some fraction of that person's vote, given that some people have registered as many as seventy-two (72!) times. Honesty pays only at a discount.

But the third reason dwarfs these two factors. We have two political parties in this country that have monopolized the political process. These parties have made it impossible for any other party to challenge for real power. And worst of all, each party only cares about its own power, not the health of the nation.

Consider the current financial crisis. Several of the root causes have become clear: government forcing banks and other lenders to make high risk loans; government guaranteeing those loans (those who object to the bailout don't seem to realize that their elected officials had essentially promised such a bailout if necessary); noxious accounting rules forced on private enterprise by Sarbanes-Oxley; no oversight of GSEs; and cheap money with nowhere else to go but real estate. Most of these ideas come from the Democratic Party. In a rational world the Democrats would NOT get rewarded for this colossal fuck-up. But in THIS world they will reap great rewards - a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, a larger majority in the House, and the Presidency –so as to do more of the same! This is insane behavior.

But it's worse than that, because even though the worst of the ideas have come from the Democratic Party, the Republican Party has mostly agreed with these ideas once implemented. Yes, some Republicans have objected to some of the root causes from time to time, but most went along to get along. As we can see from the size of the current crisis, Republicans should have been shouting from the crow’s-nest, “This way be dragons - change course now!” They didn't, and consequently they have lost all credibility.

But the Democrats also should have lost all credibility, and they haven't. In a rational system of government a credible third party would be forming right now, and perhaps even a credible fourth party. Due to the structure of our political system it would be too late for them to take control of any branch of government this election, but at the very least a few should get elected - perhaps even enough to deny either party a clear majority. And by 2010 one or both of the major parties should be all but dead at the ballot box. That isn't happening, and it won't happen. The system has failed - and like Humpty Dumpty, it can never be restored.

Therefore I have no compelling reason to vote. Q.E.D.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Subjective Presidential Campaign Reporting

This has nothing to do with the MSM news organizations. This is my subjective reporting of bare-boned facts. Today I spent a good deal of time driving around Winter Park and Orlando. I saw many more Obama yard signs than McCain yard signs. I'd put it at about 4-1, maybe more, in favor of Obama. It's subjective just because my path was semi-random.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Harry Reid: Menace

As if the markets didn't have enough trouble. Why are the absolute most stupid and corrupt people in charge now?

Stakes

Do you wonder why some of the people you know behave so irrationally? How they can support one candidate or political party so rabidly, ignoring evidence that "their team" doesn't measure up to the high standards they demand of the other guys?

Just remember this: Those friends and neighbors of yours are only a few generations removed from those who burned people at the stake. Perhaps the old woman on the outskirts of town for giving someone the "evil eye". Or the young girl who kept to herself - clearly she was in league with the Devil, and had caused the drought pestilence.

THAT is who your neighbors are. They can't help it - it's in their blood. And it's in yours, too.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A pain in the ass.

P. J. O'Rourke gets an undignified cancer, and we get to read the results. Here's my favorite passage:

Then there's the matter of our debt to death for life as we know it. I believe in God. I also believe in evolution. If death weren't around to "finalize" the Darwinian process, we'd all still be amoebas. We'd eat by surrounding pizzas with our belly flab and have sex by lying on railroad tracks waiting for a train to split us into significant others.

I consider evolution to be more than a scientific theory. I think it's a call to God. God created a free universe. He could have created any kind of universe he wanted. But a universe without freedom would have been static and meaningless -- the taxpayer-funded-art-in-public-places universe.

Rather, God created a universe full of cosmic whatchmajiggers and subatomic whosits free to interact. And interact they did, becoming matter and organic matter and organic matter that replicated itself and life. And that life was completely free, as amoral as my cancer cells.

Life forms could exercise freedom to an idiotic extent, growing uncontrolled, thoughtless and greedy to the point that they killed the source of their own fool existence. But, with the help of death, matter began to learn right from wrong -- how to save itself and its ilk, how to nurture, how to love (or, anyway, how to build a Facebook page) and how to know God and his rules.