The Ham Hock of Liberty

Monday, January 22, 2007

I can't see any problems with this.

First, I'm not dead. I've just been relocating for a new job in a new town, which means finding new housing, moving, and generally throwing your life into total chaos for a few months. Blogging has been low on the priority list, particularly when everyone else is saying what needs to be said, faster and more entertainingly than I can.

Also, if anyone still reads and has something to say, that annoying word verification is now on, so as to discourage the spammers that finally found this site.

Now, back to business. It seems that Thersites found this quote about a new health care proposal that the administration is cooking up:

"In his radio address on Saturday, Mr. Bush described his proposal as a way to “treat health insurance more like home ownership."

Well now, what's not to love about that! Of course, we can only hope that certain features of home ownership aren't part of the plan...

* You can't buy a house if you're not 18.

* Unless you have hundreds of thousands in dollars in cash, you have to take out a very very large loan to own a home.

* You can't get a loan unless you have a good enough credit score and high enough income to convince a bank to lend it to you.

* If you can't make your monthly payments on your home ownership, your bank forecloses on the collateral.

* If you declare bankruptcy or have a mortgage foreclosed, it's probably going to be a long time or a lottery win before you get another loan to own a home.

* If you're not at least upper-middle income, you probably can't afford to own a home in a lot of metropolitan areas like...all of the coasts. If you're middle income or low income, you're gonna have to save for a long while. Or move somewhere that real estate is still actually affordable.

* Taking ownership of a home, before you even set foot in it, costs a few thousand dollars in closing costs.

So basically...nice health insurance will be available to the wealthy, while the rest of the country has to devote large chunks of their income and commit to a 30-year loan to afford a modest home (if they can afford anything at all), and your crutches or pacemaker will be subject to foreclosure and repossession if you miss 2 or 3 payments?
OK, so that's probably not what they meant, but given how difficult home ownership is for most of the population, is that really the way the administration wants to sell their plan....?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Dead Horse

To reiterate, here's why the punditry is losing market share:

2006 Predictions
Some Guy With a Blog - no readership - unpaid:
"W approval ratings languish around 40."

Jonah Goldberg:
Professional pundit, LA Times columnist:
"By Christmas 2006, George W. Bush's approval ratings will be 57 percent."

Progonostimicatin' is Hard Work

Not too long ago, I took a look at the status of my 2006 predictions. It was fun. All 3 of us who read this blog had a grand time.

Somehow, however, I stumbled upon The Corner's 2006 predictions tonight. It seems that most of those bold pundits chose to duck actual predictions by making jokes (e.g., "Environmental artist Christo announces plans to wrap colorful nylon panels around Cindy Sheehan"), but some actual guesses at reality made it through. If you'd like to see exactly -why- we should not be taking these people seriously now, look at what they thought would happen to the world, just 9 months ago:


Warren Bell:
* Hollywood studios will continue to reach out to religious America in their efforts to market movies about gay cowboys, the suffering of terrorists, and greedy corporations. Then when these movies fail at the box office, the studios will respond by blaming competition from videogames and DVDs.

Denis Boyles:
* In Africa, yet another million of the world's poorest, weakest people (mostly kids) will die from malaria because the use of DDT offends the faux Western sheep-cowboy consciousness of middle-class Greenpeace types in the U.S. and Europe.

Kellyanna Conway:
* Chelsea Clinton gets engaged.
* Cindy Sheehan fades.
* Osama bin Laden resurfaces — and then is captured.**
* Valerie Plame poses in Playboy. Husband continues to complain others outed her.
* Four more states protect traditional marriage.
* Ed Cox reenters the race for U.S. Senate in New York.
* One of the Simpson sisters, Olsen twins, or Hilton sisters has a baby.
* Real-estate prices remain steady.**

The Derb:
* Iran will test a nuclear weapon.
* The space-shuttle program will be shut down for good.
* The main talking point in Iraq policy will become: Given that there is an Iraqi army up and running, do we really want them to have un-chaperoned access to anything more dangerous than small arms?**
* Some industrialized nation bigger than Andorra will, either by explicit legislation or implicit executive action, enact a ban on further immigration by Muslims from anywhere at all.
* China will lay the keel of that nation's first aircraft carrier. While denying any intention of engaging in a "space race" with China, India will announce preparations for placing a man in orbit by 2008.

Doughy Pantload:
* For the first time in memory — by which I mean my memory — three National Review authors will be on the New York Times bestseller's list in the same year. **
* Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame will enter talks to launch their own talk/reality show. Even after a sweeps week episode in which Wilson eats 6 pounds of yellow cake from in-between Plame's cleavage with his hands tied behind his back, he will take great offense at anyone who suggests he's a publicity hound.
* By Christmas 2006, George W. Bush's approval ratings will be 57 percent.**
* Abu Zarqawi will be caught alive. But he will hang himself in his cell when Reuters reports that Iraqi authorities found the director's cut of Brokeback Mountain in his portable DVD player.
* There will be another terrorist attack on the American homeland.**
* Howard Dean will not finish 2006 as chairman of the DNC. **

Victor Davis Hanson:
* There will be a major immigration bill passed that drastically halts the influx of illegal aliens.
* Howard Dean will leave the DNC chairmanship.**
* Serious social unrest in Iran by midyear.**

* President Bush takes a fresh harsh tone with Saudi Arabia.**
* Israel strikes Iran. Freedom-hungry Iranians subsequently take their freedom into their own hands.**
* The Santorum-Casey race is full of surprises. Comes in much tighter than it looks right now.
* Rudy Guiliani announces that he will not run for president.*
* ABC's According to Jim wins an Emmy. ATJ Showrunner and too-cool-for-caps NRO writer Warren Bell does not wear a National Review cap on stage but does namedrop a lot in The Corner the next morning.**

Carrie Lukas:
* At least four states will enact new school-choice programs; several prominent Democrats will break with teachers' unions to support school choice.
* Latin America will emerge as a serious national-security concern that will soon rival the Middle East.**
* Air America will finally go under, ironically undermined by "competition" from the taxpayer-supported NPR that they vigorously support. Distraught listeners in search of liberal viewpoints will be forced to turn to CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, The New York Times, etc..**
* Republicans will pick up seats in the House.**
* General Motors will declare bankruptcy due to the crushing costs of their union-coerced healthcare and retirement programs — a prelude to the looming crises in Medicare and Social Security.

Clifford May:
* Roger Ailes will not lose sleep over competitive pressures. More specifically, network news programs, CNN and MSNBC, and major newspapers will not stem declines in audience/circulation. The media moguls will not figure out that at least half of those who follow the news are conservatives who prefer not to be insulted and condescended to by "progressive" reporters, editors, and producers. **
* French policies aimed at heading off further racial/religious unrest will not prove successful.
* Howard Dean will not remain chairman of the DNC.

Peter Schweizer:
* Both Syria and Iran will face considerable social unrest as freedom continues to strengthen in the Middle East.**
* Intelligent design, far from being dead, will become an increasingly important factor in the culture wars.**
* Hillary Clinton will find it increasingly difficult to hold her coalition together by posing as both a centrist and a woman of the left. But she will stay the course and with growing success in Iraq, she'll be lauded as a "statesman" in the media for not caving in to the appeasement crowd. Iraq will be her "Sister Souljah" moment.**
* Some well-connected Republicans, concerned whether they have a dynamic and effective conservative ready for a presidential run, will turn up the pressure on Jeb Bush to enter the race.

Mark Steyn:
* There will be more riots in Europe, and an increase in the rate of ethnic Dutch emigration from the Netherlands. The German government will fall. There will be another terrorist attack in Britain.**
* John McCain will have increasing difficulty maintaining his approval ratings with the press. There will be more lay-offs at major U.S. media outlets.
* Baby Assad will not last the year as Syria's President. Iraq will recede deeper and deeper into the newspaper due to an ongoing lack of bad news.**
* Osama bin Laden will continue to be dead, and will be confirmed as such.**

OK, so now that we've seen how remarkably wrong these people can be, let's give credit where credit is due, and see what they managed to get right:

* In Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum will go down to defeat at the hands of Bob Casey Jr., causing Pat Toomey to smile a tight little smile. (Boyles)
* Two Democrats not named Hillary actively campaign for POTUS 2008. (Kellyanne Conway)
* Google and Apple laugh all the way to the bank. (Conway)
* The "ground zero" site in Manhattan will look very much the same at the end of 2006 as at the beginning. New Orleans will look slightly worse. (The Derb)
* John McCain will be widely considered the GOP frontrunner for the nomination. (Pantload)
* President Bush will not win the Nobel Peace Prize. (K-Lo)
* The Court does not overturn Roe v. Wade. (K-Lo)
* The Yanks come back. (K-Lo)
* Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes will name their baby something odd. (Carrie Lukas)
* Osama bin Laden will not be captured or killed in Pakistan; but Zarqawi will be captured or killed in Iraq. (Clifford May)
* will not argue that those on the Left calling for Bush's impeachment are over the top and damaging the Democratic party. (May)
* John McCain will recognize another major problem, speak out about it honestly and devise a solution that will not solve the problem but rather will make it worse. (May)
* Maureen Dowd will not get married. (May)

So, on balance, how did the Korner Kidz do?
Grade: They're idiots. Duh.

** Special bonus prize for Excellence in Stupid.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Getting to the point

As usual, Glenn Greenwald has done a good job of separating the truth from the bullshit with regard to the analysis of the warrantless wiretapping decision that came down recently. He even takes the switch to Ann Althouse, which I fear will start him down the road to getting caught up in a "debate" with that particular brick wall.

Anyway, go check it out, because he's right.
I seriously doubt based on their commentary that Kerr or Althouse (and most, though not all, of the other law professor critics) have been following this case at all. They don't seem to be aware of some rather critical events which are indispensable in understanding what the court did here -- or, at least, they weren't aware of those events at the time they were attacking Judge Taylor's opinion. What appears to have happened is that they read the opinion on the day it was issued and evaluated it without regard to (or knowledge of) the procedural history of the case, the rules of civil litigation, and the arguments advanced by the DoJ-- i.e., they evaluated it the way a law professor would grade an exam or comment on a law review article, not the way a judicial opinion of this type must be understood (which was part of what Professor Tribe was pointing out the other day).

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Memo to Conservative Pundits

OK, conservative talking heads: we know you don't like accusations of racism levelled at you or your Republican politican friends. We know you think that racism is shunned by right-thinking conservatives, and is not accpetable within your circles. But if you want people outside of those circles to stop associating your party with the racists of the country, you're going to have to stop rushing to the defense of every conservative pol who sticks his boot in his mouth.

I'm looking at you, "The Corner." As you all know by now, VA Senator George Allen singled out one of his opponenent's campaign workers who is of Indian descent, at one of Allen's events, and belittled him in front of the crowd. He welcomed the young man to America and referred to him twice as "macaca." It's been publicized by now that "macaca" is a racist slur, particularly with respect to dark-skinned north Africans. That George Allen's mother was French Tunisian (north African, in case you didn't know offhand), is a remarkable coincidence.

In response to Mr. Allen's remarks, you've claimed that macaca is not a well-known term (twice , in fact), that Joe Biden says dumb things as well, and that the real villain was the recipient of the slur. The last one is my personal favorite.

There's been nothing even approaching an innocent explanation for the term. Allen's claim that it was a variation of "mohawk," a hairstyle that the young man obviously does not have, is so laughably pathetic that no parent in the country would buy it, if they heard it coming from one of their children.

Now, whether or not "macaca" is a well-known slur does not change the fact that it was made. Perhaps you don't understand what's wrong with a Senator, and presidential hopeful, directing racial slurs at members of minority groups. Much of this country, however, would like to know if people so high in office, with aspirations to the highest, hold viciously bigoted views. Just because "macaca" may not be as well-known as, say, "jigaboo," doesn't mean this is a tempest in a teapot. It's very serious. It's about what's inside George Allen, and why he would make -any- racial slur, let alone in public. Given the etymology of that slur, along with Allen's heritage and knowledge of French, that's pretty compelling prima facie evidence that he knew what he was saying. Until a better explanation than "he meant mohawk" comes along, it's entirely reasonable to conclude that the man is a bigot, and holds racist views. That is serious, whether or not he used the "N" word itself.

If you want the GOP to really wash its old dirty linens of the taint of racism, you need to start condemning it when it comes from your own camp, not just Joe Biden. Making excuses, blaming the "liberal media," and writing it off as insignificant....that may keep your readers mollified, but you're never going to get rid of your scarlet "R" if you keep that up.


Some Guy With a Blog

Monday, August 14, 2006

Strange bedfellows.

It seems there's a little cognitive dissonance going on in Wingnuttia that will need to be sorted out.

First, W claims that Israel trounced Hezbollah, and that it's Hezbollah's "fantastic" propaganda machine proclaiming their victory:

"Hezbollah, of course, has got a fantastic propaganda machine, and they're claiming victories," Bush said. "But how can you claim victory when, at one time, you were a state within a state, safe within southern Lebanon, and now you're going to be replaced by a Lebanese army and an international force?"

And who or what is part of this fantastic Hezbollah propaganda machine? Why, Michelle Malkin and Powerline, of course:

"Israel and the US have been defeated. Hizballah will grow emboldened. As will Iran." - Jeff Goldstein

"Israel and the West surrender to Hizballah. Terrorists and the U.N. win." - Michelle Malkin

"Over at NRO's corner, John Podhoretz contends that this would mean the end of the Olmert government. I'm tempted to suggest that our government, having seemingly lost its will to oppose (or even to let others oppose) our deadliest enemies, deserves the same fate." - Powerline.


It'll be interesting to see whether the eliminationists come back to the fold and retract their initial "hasty" reactions, or whether they actually have the strength of their neo-genocidal convictions to dispute W's claims.


A new CBS poll is out today, showing W's approval ratings hanging steady at a moribund 36%. The article about the poll concludes with this shocking realization: "The arrests in Britain have not helped President Bush's popularity so far, the CBS poll finds. His job approval remains exactly at 36 percent, where it was a month ago."

How could this be?? How is it possible that the arrests of terrorist suspects in London, which has no relevance or relationship to W's job performance, could fail to improve his job performance rating? Surely, the "terror bounce" we've been hearing about for days couldn't be just the breathless anticipation of hyperventilating pundits, could it...? COULD IT?!?

Well, of course it was. But to be fair, it was a reasonable guess; after all, whenever terrorism has dominated a news cycle in the past, it has helped W's numbers nudge slightly upwards. However, it's a testament to how internalized the administration's exploitation of fear has become, that when British intelligence agents discover a criminal conspiracy, the old media just assume it's good news for the President, even though there's no logical reason whatsoever why it should be. Why is the mere reminder that criminals still exist good news for Republicans? It's not like everyone in the country forgot. And unless you count strawmen at the most unhinged reactionary blogs, it's not as though Democrats are claiming that terrorism no longer exists. If anything, the apprehension of the latest suspects should be good news for Democrats, demonstrating that terrorism can be interrupted through intelligence and policing, rather than blowing shit up.

Unfortunately, we're going to be treated to this same insightful "analysis" until the sun burns out. Our "War on Terror" is going to be about as successful as the "War" on drugs. Secular democracy will not flower in the mid-east at the end of a gun, and we can not bomb our way to safety over there. No matter how many excellent regime-changing adventures we have, terrorists will continue to exist. Some of them will want to direct their energies against the United States. And because the professional opinion-givers in the country have unquestioningly swallowed the rule that fear is good for Republicans, we will hear the same script being read every time a new terrorist suspect is identified. What we'll hear a lot less of, is whether anything the GOP does is actually related to the apprehension of the suspect.

Fortunately, as the CBS poll suggests, the electorate may be managing to notice the disconnect, despite the best efforts of the fear peddlers.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

He. Just. Won't. Stay. Down.

Sorry, I was feeling juvenile:

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Fear the Kosfather and Hitler Dean

Pulling off a feat of computer illiteracy that is impressive even now, a close Republican relative of mine managed to put me on the RNC mailing list accidentally. Yes, it was in fact an accident. Anyway, all I usually get are fundraising requests addressed from Ken Mehlman or Pete Wilson, but today was particularly entertaining. It seems that the GOP is going to be running against that wild-eyed whitebread businessman Ned Lamont, his godfather Kos, and Michael Moore (who is fat).

This was the picture in their "don't let this nightmare happen to YOU!" email:

Notice the not-so-subtle Hitler mustache photoshopped onto Howard Dean.

Yes, Virginia, the GOP is being run by 8 year olds.

More CT-Sen

A few other thoughts on Connecticut, while the caffeine goes to work:

- Now that the D.C. Democrats seem to be dutifully lining up to support Ned Lamont, it will be interesting to see whether the interest groups like NARAL do the same....or whether they are more interested in the incumbency protection racket, than furthering their stated goals.

- Obviously there will be a huge amount of pressure on Joe to drop his destructive "independent Democrat" bid, but there will probably be even more pressure to stay in the race from a certain lobbyist who shares Joe's bedroom, and has a very vested career and financial interest in being married to a Senator.

- Remember when a 2-point win was a "mandate"....? What does that make a 4-point win?

- I hope Joe is ready for more egg on his face when the investigation into his website "hacking" goes absolutely nowhere. And, most likely, just shows that if they had bought a better hosting plan, their site would have been up on election day.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Skimming through Wingnuttia, to confirm that Joe's loss was indeed the Worst Thing Ever for Democrats and the "nutroots," this set of consecutive posts at redstate was particularly entertaining:

Posted at 12:32am on Aug. 9, 2006 Tim Walberg Wins
Conservatives Are Heard
By Erick

This is a tremendous victory for conservatives. Tim Walberg has beaten liberal Joe Schwarz in the Republican primary in Michigan. Well done! Well done to you all. Conservatives must make their voice heard and a Republican primary is the best way to do it.


Posted at 12:16am on Aug. 9, 2006
I Would Discuss Joementum, But That Would Be Joevenile
Great Pyrrhus, Have We Learned Nothing From Ye?
By Pejman Yousefzadeh

So the left-of-center netroots have won a victory . . . over a Democrat today. Well, a win is a win, in the eyes of many, and as such, the netroots will party like it's 1972. But somewhere in the distance, King Pyrrhus is shaking his head in sad resignation. He has seen this movie before, after all. [Ed: boldface in original]

The moral of the story? Defeating incumbents in a primary is an accomplishment to be proud of, unless you're the Democratic party, in which case it's an embarassing Pyrrhic victory by shortsighted fools.

All clear?