Friday, January 30, 2009

The Deuce and Liberty

Not long ago I got into a debate with a friend of mine. I said to him, "we're not nearly as free as we once were." He responded that we, as Americans, were just as free as we had ever been. This struck me as so ludicrous that I laughed out loud. Now understand, this friend is a bit younger than myself, some thirteen years younger, and he had not experienced first hand the level of freedom that I had in my youth. To prove my point, I tossed out a few examples off the top of my head.

I remember when;

...there were no laws requiring a waiting period to buy a handgun.
...there were no laws requiring seat belts in cars, much less a law requiring that they be worn.
...there were no laws demanding that small children, when in a car, ride in car seats.
...there were no laws preventing anyone from riding in the cargo bed of a pick up truck.
...there were no laws requiring motorcyclists to wear a helmet.
...there were no laws against smoking just about anywhere you felt like having a smoke.
...there were no laws against displaying a creche on public property at Christmas time.
...there were no laws against having a drink at age 18 if you felt like it.

My friend was not impressed but very quickly changed the subject.

Okay. So what? At first glance all the laws that now exist that didn't back in my youth may seem like perfectly good laws. After all, all were designed to save lives and improve the safety of all Americans, and maybe some of them have actually accomplished that. But ask yourself this. When did it become the role of government to save us from ourselves? When did Americans allow their adulthood, their right to pursue happiness, their right to make their own decisions, be hijacked by an all-pervasive nanny state?

Try this experiment. Every time you hear or see the word "government", substitute it with the words "your neighbors." After all, in a representative Republic, which is what we're supposed to have in this nation, laws passed by local, state and national governmental bodies such as city councils, county boards of supervisors and state and national legislatures are in essence the majority view of, you guessed it, your neighbors. The majority rules, unless the black-robed mystic shamans of the Supreme Court consult the oracles and declare otherwise. But that is another argument.

If the lady that lives across the street from you thinks carrying a concealed weapon is a bad idea and should not be allowed under any circumstances, and she advises her elected state representatives of that opinion, and enough of your other neighbors have the same opinion, then in all likely hood carrying a concealed weapon will be outlawed in your state. If you are of the opposite opinion, it doesn't really matter, because you have been out voted by your neighbors. Ah, but the question then arises, do your neighbors have a right to dictate to you that you may not carry a concealed weapon in defense of yourself, your family and other innocents, against threats to your life and the lives of others? I would argue no, she does not. Why not? Because my carrying a concealed weapon is of no consequence to her, except that if the unthinkable should happen, I might be in a position to save her life, which is not a bad thing no matter how you look at it. Laws allowing concealed carry but requiring background checks prior to issuance of a carry permit strike me as reasonable. As much as I have the inalienable right to protect myself, I don't want convicted felons or psychiatric patients carrying.

The bottom line is that your neighbors are foisting a lot of laws on you, diminishing your individual liberty, when they have no rational reason or right to do so. If I don't want to wear a seat belt, what do you care? I may die in an auto accident that I might have survived had I been wearing a seat belt, but what is that to you? Am I not in charge of my own life? I may want to smoke a cigarette while sitting in my favorite tavern listening to Lucinda Williams belt out a 'love gone wrong' song on the juke. As long as the tavern owner doesn't object, who the hell are you to tell me I can't light up? If you're afraid for your own health, go listen to Ms. Williams elsewhere. Surely there's a tavern owner down the street that doesn't allow smoking in his joint. The decision is not mine nor yours to make. Property rights used to mean something in this country, meaning smoking or non-smoking in the tavern used to be the sole decision of the property owner, the tavern keeper. Not any more. The nannies have won that battle.

For all of you dear readers who might reside in New York City, I feel for you. Your Mayor Bloomberg has taken it upon himself to improve your health, whether you like it or not. He has personally outlawed trans-fats, so a lot of your favorite foods like french fries and Chinese food and buttered popcorn aren't quite as tasty as they used to be. Now he's working on a huge tax on non-diet soda, trying to discourage the drinking of said beverages, because he's afraid you're getting too fat for your own good, and God knows it's his business how much you tip the scales at.

The mayor of Los Angeles is working on a law that limits the number of fast food joints in minority neighborhoods because it seems minorities are particularly fond of fast food and hence are getting a little too portly to suit the mayor. I can hear it now, "No Mickey D's, no peace!"

Oh, and lets not forget that that law outlawing incandescent light bulbs is still out there, waiting to go into effect in a few short years. 'Your neighbors' have decided that they're energy inefficient and you can't use them anymore. God help us!

And please, don't give me that cliched argument that when taxpayer's money is involved ( in treating the effects of obesity using Medicare or Medicaid funds ) the public has a right to dictate such things. If that were the case we'd outlaw getting old, because when it comes to spending taxpayer money on health care, nobody racks up the medical expenses like geezers.

So what's the bottom line? It's this; we're all on the fast track to being serfs. Every aspect of our lives is to be dictated by a nanny state made up of pretend Princes, Dukes and Viscounts that we have allowed to bore into our legislatures like ticks on a junkyard dog. Any pretensions we might have of being free citizens, in charge of our own lives and free to make our own decisions are evaporating like fog on a Summer's morning.

Free, truly free Americans, are an endangered species. Maybe the EPA can save us, but don't hold your breath. Spotted Owls and Snail Darters are worth saving...apparently all of us humans, all of us tired, poor huddled masses yearning to breathe free, are just a cancer on Gia the Earth Mother.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Global, ah... Climate Change. Yeah, thats the ticket!

As Mr. Quarter writes this post, Al "the Bore" Gore is trudging through the ice and snow towards the Capital Building, ironically, to deliver his latest histrionics on global warming - or is it climate change, to members of Congress. This guy must be making some real $$ from this, 'cause he never, ever gives up! His latest plea is that "the planet will soon reach an irreversible 'tipping point' of damage to the climate," and that the United States must join international talks for a carbon limiting treaty "this year." Yeah, just put that on my tab with the $1 Trillion stimulus bill. Should help to pull this country right up by the boot straps!

I think the "consensus" on global warming is pretty much only in Al's mind, a consensus of one so to speak. You can read the last word on the global warming consensus right here.

Have you noticed that in the past year, the environmental extremists and global warming alarmists have quietly switched the jargon? Now the "crisis" is no longer actually global warming, its "climate change." Ingenious! No matter what happens, if the temperature changes up or down then they are correct in their assessment. Yup, the climate changed, give me your money!

Mr. Quarter has a strong background in geoscience and has spent the past 25 years working in the environmental cleanup industry. This much is certain:

  1. The climate has changed in the past and will continue to change.
  2. CO2 levels have been higher in the past than they are now.
  3. It has been warmer and it has been colder than it is now.
  4. Changes in climate are more strongly correlated to patterns of solar activity than to atmospheric gases.
  5. The climate data set that is trotted out as "irrevocable" proof of global warming is extremely limited relative to even recorded human history, let alone over geologic time scales.
  6. Oh-and the reduction of Arctic ice? Well, it seems that accurate measures of arctic ice have only been available since 1979 when satellite photos started being taken. Prior to that it was anecdotal evidence. What a coincidence that the declines in arctic ice began in 1979!

Mr. Quarter is strongly considering writing a book to examine and objectively debunk the climate change myths that Al Gore is currently cashing in on. Think I should do it?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Deuce Ponders...

If I were George W. Bush, this is what I would have said in my last speech to the American people.

"From September 12, 2001, to January 20th, 2009, over seven years, not one American has been killed, or even wounded, by Islamic terrorists on American soil. If you'll remember, shortly after 9/11 every government representative, every pundit and every MSM anchor were saying the same thing; 'it's not a question of if we'll be attacked again, only a question of when and how.' Not only was there not another attack of the destructiveness of 9/11 on my watch, there were no successful attacks at all. I may have let other things slide, some of them very important, and I regret that. But my first and most important priority was to ensure that innocent American men, women and children were not slaughtered again as they were on 9/11. If history records that was my only success as your president, I will gladly accept that as my legacy. Too all of you strong and faithful Americans who understand the decisions I made and the actions I took to protect us all, I say it has been my distinct honor to be your President and Commander In Chief. Goodbye and good luck. To all of you fair weather friends in Congress and the media who initially supported my invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq and the broader war on terror, but soon bailed out when the war took longer than you could stomach and U.S. casualties exceeded ten, I say, with all the sincerity I can muster, Fuck You!

What to do with the unlawful combatants currently held at Gitmo?

Leave them there for eternity. Barring that, I hear Rep. Murtha ( D-PA ) has said that the detainees are not particularly dangerous and that he'd be glad to hold them in his district. Well alrighty then...if Gitmo must be closed, let's take Murtha up on his offer...and then see what his constituents say about it. Or we could give all the detainees the 'Muslim Treatment' and cut their heads off and then drag the corpses through the streets of Gitmo with live video feeds to the Middle East. Turn about is fair play, no?

The Issue of President Obama's birth certificate.

For reasons that defy understanding, President Obama has repeatedly refused to allow the state of Hawaii to release his birth certificate, there bye defusing the nagging complaints that he's not a natural born U.S. citizen and hence not eligible to be the President of the United States. He did publish a document on his web site prior to the election, but the document he posted was not a Certificate of Live Birth, and it did not state the location of his birth ( and was claimed to be a forgery by more than one "expert" .
Assuming that Barack was in fact born in Hawaii, I can not come up with a rational reason Barack would refuse to release the document, going so far as to contest ( so far successfully ) numerous law suits filed by American citizens suspicious of his legal status. Here are some possible explanations.

1. The birth certificate would in fact show he was born in Hawaii, but that his father was not the Kenyan man he has identified as his father. Perhaps Barack's mother refused to divulge the father's name, either out of spite to injure a non-supportive father, or out of true doubt as to who the actual father was. Being a bastard doesn't carry the same social shame as it used to, but it can't be good for a presidential candidate.
2. Uh, I can't think of a second reason.

To torture or not to torture.

Here's a simple test to determine how you really feel about torture. Your only child has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom. The kidnappers have communicated to you that you must pay their ransom or they will murder your child. You have 24 hours to meet their demands. You do not have the money they're demanding and can not raise it by the deadline. However, the FBI has captured one of the kidnappers and are convinced, through multiple sources, that he knows where your child is. Question: do you beg the FBI to do everything they can, including torture the kidnapper, to locate your child and attempt a rescue, or do you threaten a law suit if the kidnapper is mistreated in any way? Yes, it really is that simple. Change the scenario to the classic 'ticking time bomb', with millions threatened by a nuclear bomb or a chemical weapon hidden somewhere in New York or L.A. or Washington D.C., and the only rational answer is, "Hell yeah! Do whatever it takes to save those people." If you can not find it within you to torture one kidnapper or terrorist in order to save the life of your child or of a million innocent Americans, then I suggest you are a terribly misguided coward. Of course torture is a disgusting, stomach wrenching reality that we all wish would remain forever unnecessary...but sometimes it is in fact necessary. Man up and deal with it.

Israel invades Gaza.

According to the MSM, the only Palestinians to die in the latest Israeli/Palestinian war are children who were minding their own business at school or a U.N. relief facility or a mosque. It's like the Israelis have these special bombs and tank rounds and artillery shells that seek out and destroy only children under the age of ten.
Have innocent children been killed in this latest Jew vs. Muslim conflict? Undoubtedly. My heart breaks for the death of innocents, in whatever the conflict. But the deaths of these innocents rests on the heads of the Palestinian people, who in 'open and honest' elections chose the terrorist gang Hamas to administer their government. Ever since being elected, Hamas has been lobbing rockets into Israel in an attempt to kill Israelis, including innocent children and otherwise terrorizing the Israeli people. As far as I can tell, the Israelis held their wrath for months, if not years, before deciding they'd had enough and invaded Gaza to stop the rocket attacks.
It has been said that people get the government they deserve. The Palestinians chose Hamas, and finally they are reaping their reward for making such an evil choice.

Being Neighborly.

In Bay City, Michigan, a 93 year old World War II vet froze to death in his own home after his electricity was shut off for non-payment. At least two neighbors were quoted in the press as being outraged that such a thing could happen in America.
I wonder...where were the outraged 'neighbors' when this poor man was dying? Did it ever occur to them to check up on him every now and then? Did they ever ask if he needed anything? Did they ever take him a meal, or shovel the snow off of his sidewalks, or contact the man's family or at least a state agency and let anyone know that their 'neighbor' was in trouble and needed assistance? Did they actually do anything to help?
It breaks my heart to think this man, who risked his life for his country so long ago in far away lands, died cold, alone and forgotten. God help us that we should allow this to happen to any neighbor, much less a veteran.

Monday, January 26, 2009

More to the Point

More to the point of Mr. Quarter's comments in the earlier post "A Few Real Inconvenient Truths", no less prestigious publication than the Wall Street Journal weighs on its opinion page today with the following:

"The stimulus bill is also a time machine in the sense that it's based on an old, and largely discredited, economic theory. As Harvard economist Robert Barro pointed out on these pages last Thursday, the "stimulus" claim is based on something called the Keynesian "multiplier," which is that each $1 of spending the government "injects" into the economy yields 1.5 times that in greater output. There's little evidence to support this theory, but you have to admire its beauty because it assumes the government can create wealth out of thin air. If it were true, the government should spend $10 trillion and we'd all live in paradise.

The problem is that the money for this spending boom has to come from somewhere, which means it is removed from the private sector as higher taxes or borrowing. For every $1 the government "injects," it must take $1 away from someone else -- either in taxes or by issuing a bond [as Mr. quarter pointed out, this bond being purchased by an outside investor, such as China]. In either case this leaves $1 less available for private investment or consumption. Mr. Barro wrote about this way back in 1974 in his classic article, "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?", in the Journal of Political Economy. Larry Summers and Paul Krugman must have missed it.

The government spending will be a net stimulus only if its $1 goes to more productive purposes than those to which private investors would have put that same There are some ways we may want the government to spend money -- on national defense, say -- but that doesn't mean it's a stimulus."

So, it seems that the developing consensus of more and more "experts" and other commentators is in agreement with Mr. Quarter's assessment. This stimulus plan will not work and will result in the United States being hopelessly in debt.

Monday, January 19, 2009

True Greatness with the Passage of Time

Mr. Quarter could not agree more the with assessment of Andrew Roberts who writes in The Australian that when the background noise of the 24 hour news cycle abates, history will surely judge the George W. Bush Presidency differently. He is correct that the weak kneed elites of the East Coast and Europe are so completely blinded by their Bush Hatred, that only the objective viewpoint of history will truly give George W. Bush the credit he is due.

Excerpts of Mr. Roberts article are provided below because, frankly, Mr. Quarter couldn't have said it any better.

"One thing [historians] will doubtless conclude is that the measures [Bush] took to lock down America's borders, scrutinise travellers to and from the US, eavesdrop on terrorist suspects, work closely with international intelligence agencies and take the war to the enemy has foiled dozens, perhaps scores, of would-be murderous attacks on America. There are Americans alive today who would not be but for the passage of the Patriot Act. There are 3000 people who would have died in the August 2005 airliner conspiracy if it had not been for the superb inter-agency co-operation demanded by Bush after September 11."

With regard to Iraq, Mr. Roberts summarizes quite nicely: ".... the obvious fact that there was a good case for invading Iraq [was] based on 14 spurned UN resolutions, massive human rights abuses and unfinished business following the interrupted invasion of 1991 will be recalled.

History will show that, in common with the rest of his administration, the British government, Saddam Hussein's own generals, the French, Chinese, Israeli and Russian intelligence agencies, and of course the Secret Intelligence Service and the CIA, everyone assumed that a murderous dictator does not voluntarily destroy the WMD arsenal he has used against his own people. And if he does, he does not then expel the UN weapons inspectorate looking for proof of it, as he did in 1998 and again in 2001.

Bush assumed that the coalition forces would find mass graves, torture chambers, evidence for the gross abuse of the UN's food-for-oil program, but also WMDs. He was right about each but the last, and history will place him in the mainstream of Western, Eastern and Arab thinking on the matter."

"When Abu Ghraib is mentioned, history will remind us that it was the Bush administration that imprisoned those responsible for the horrors. When water-boarding is brought up, we will see that it was used on only three suspects, one of whom was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, al-Qa'ida's chief of operational planning, who divulged vast amounts of information that saved hundreds of innocent lives. When extraordinary renditions are queried, historians will ask how else the world's most dangerous terrorists should have been transported. On scheduled flights?"

And bringing Libya into the fold of civilized nations was a Bush accomplishment. Mr. Roberts summarizes as follows: "History will probably, assuming it is researched and written objectively, congratulate Bush on the fact that whereas in 2000 Libya was an active and vicious member of what he was accurately to describe as an "axis of evil" of rogue states willing to employ terrorism to gain its ends, four years later Muammar Gaddafi's WMD program was sitting behind glass in a museum"

George Bush certainly bears little or no responsibility for the current economic crisis as Mr. Roberts ably points out: "The credit crunch, brought on by the Democrats in Congress insisting on home ownership for non-creditworthy people, will initially be blamed on Bush, but the perspective of time will show that the problems at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac started with the deregulation of the Clinton era. Instead, Bush's very un-ideological but vast rescue package of $US700 billion ($1 trillion) might well be seen as lessening the impact of the squeeze and putting America in position to be the first country out of recession, helped along by his huge tax-cut packages since 2000. "

Mr. Quarter believes that George W. Bush will, in the light of history be viewed as a fine man and one of the greatest Presidents.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Few Real Inconvient Truths

As the Obamanation gears up for a week adulation and worship, Mr. Quarter thinks it is prudent to look at a few facts and make some observations on the savior's proposed economic stimulus package to see if it makes sense. Perhaps in the process Mr. Quarter can educate the unwashed masses that give "The One" his 80% approval rating before he has even been sworn into office and actually assumed the responsibilities of the Presidency.

Let's start with a couple of well known public facts as assumptions in our analysis:
  1. The Democratic congress, at Obama's behest, is currently proposing an economic stimulus package of $825 billion in tax cuts and spending. This may swell to $1 trillion before it is sent to Obama's desk.

  2. Obama asserts in his speeches that he will create or preserve 3.5 million jobs with his economic stimulus package.

  3. Federal deficit spending projected for 2010, the first year of Obamatopia, is $1.3 trillion.
That means that the government will spend almost $236,000 to create each job. Rather inefficient by any measure. If the median income is around $40,000/year then it appears the program is that the government will subsidize those 3.5 million jobs at a 100% level for 6 years. Alternatively, is would appear that for the money spent, we should realize 6 times the new or saved jobs (21 million). By any measure it is a most inefficient program in terms of bang for your buck.

If you assume job creation every single day of a 4 year Obama presidency (i.e., 1460 days), jobs will have to be created at an average rate of almost 2,400 jobs/day or 72,000 job/month. To put this number into perspective, according to the US House of Representatives Committee on the Budget report issued on July 31, 2008 (a blatantly Democrat spin job, I admit), average job creation needed simply to keep pace with the growth of working age population is 150,000 jobs/month. During the years of the Bush administration, job growth averaged 58,000 jobs/month. During the years of the Clinton administration, job growth average 210,000 per month. Seems like we should get a lot more jobs for the money spent.

The theory of Keynesian economics is that the state should stimulate economic growth and improve stability in the private sector through spending and economic policy, for example: interest rates, taxation, and public projects. As applied in the current economic stimulus plan, the federal expenditures, tax credits and tax rate reductions will total $825 billion. The theory holds that government injection of money into the economy via these means will create excess consumer demand (more people have more money to spend) through jobs creation, etc. The demand is satisfied by spending the money on goods and services, which in turn creates the demand for workers to fill jobs to turn out goods and services, who then spend or invest their money creating more demand for goods and services. The initial feedstock of money is obtained by the federal government selling debt in the form of treasury bills/bonds to finance the spending and by the Federal Reserve buying bonds from banks and depositing the proceeds in the bank's reserve accounts creating excess reserves that the banks can loan.

Can we afford the Keynesian approach to stimulating the economy. While the Bush administration has been reviled as a profligate spendthrift, as a percentage of GDP, the annual federal deficit has been less than 3% annually on average, and less than the 5% average of the Clinton administration. Obama is now proposing annual budget deficits for the next several years approaching 10% of GDP. As you can see from the chart at the left, deficits of this magnitude have not been seen since WWII.

A critical assumption of the Keynesian theory is that the economy has the inherent means to satisfy consumer demand. Another way of stating this assumption is that the economy has sufficient manufacturing capacity to satisfy consumer demand and needs only to add jobs to increase output. Unfortunately, several factors mitigate against the success of Keynesian economics in the United states today. First, the process of globalization over the past several decades has shifted the basis of our economic growth to consumption rather than production. Businesses have moved factories overseas (China, Japan, Latin America) eliminating the capacity to add jobs in this economy. Second, this consumption has been fueled by consumer debt sending US dollars overseas. Third, savings rates in the US are near zero. Fourth, the largest holder of US debt and US currency reserves (our largest trading partner, China), has strong incentives not to invest its excess dollars here and to instead spend domestically to stimulate demand at home because the slowing of our consumer spending has caused a decline in its economic growth that could lead to regime instability.

Another factor that cannot be quantified is the willingness of foreign investors to continue to finance US debt by purchasing US Treasury bills and bonds. Presumably there is some risk aversion limit where US debt becomes so large and the expectation that that debt will be paid back becomes so small that absent huge interest rate increases, there will be no buyers. This will become especially critical as the baby boomer generation begins to draw social security and medicare.

Assuming that the stimulus package works initially as Keynesian theory predicts and more people have more money to spend, thus creating excess demand. First, how is that spending financed. By selling Treasury bills and bonds to foreign investors (a.k.a. China, Saudi Arabia, etc.). How is that excess consumer demand satisfied? By spending. On goods produced overseas. In China. So we send the stimulus dollars that we borrowed from China and Middle Eastern oil producing nations back to to China and Middle Eastern oil producing nations. How many new permanent jobs are created - not many. A few new low paying jobs selling consumer goods and pumping gas until the excess demand is satisfied. A few temporary construction jobs for infrastructure until the government spending stops. Then status quo ante.
Unfortunately, Mr. Quarter does not have much faith in the stimulus package at this point. The likely apparent outcome is that we will go deeply into debt as a nation and will not see any real improvement. Once again, politicians will stir up a great deal of dust and create the illusion of forward movement with no real progress realized. As a check on this analysis,one need merely review the improvement in the US economy during the Great Depression years when the Roosevelt administration began deficit spending in an attempt to put Keynesian theory into practice. The outcome was that the depression lasted until the war production began in the 1940's, creating real jobs through manufacturing.

Post-script, January 23, 2009: Mr. Quarter's viewpoint expressed above on the consequences that there may be a point at which U.S. debt load becomes so large that foreign investors will refuse to buy U.S. Treasury Bills/bonds is articulated in detail here in this WSJ article by Peter Schiff.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Deuce and the Dearly Departed

The economy is a train wreck, the coronation/anointing of B.O. is fast approaching, the governor of Illinois continues his very public "F you!" to just about everyone...and I'm having a real hard time caring. So, lets ignore the As The World Turns soap opera that is our national daily life and consider something else for a little while.

I keep a day planner on my living room coffee table. It's not that my life is so busy I actually need a day planner, I just use it to record the daily comings and goings of my life. It's kind of like a very abbreviated version of a journal. Most entries are mundane; went grocery shopping, paid the bills and balanced the checkbook, watched the game at a buddy's house, cooked ( fill in the blank ) for my dad's dinner. Some entries are more significant; daughter flew in for a weeks visit, son's band signed recording contract, quit job, got a new job, mother died today, took dad to the E.R. for the third time this year.

In my day planner I also record big news events, favorite TV shows for the year, favorite movies, all books read and also the deaths of famous people. I fancy that after my own departure from this Earthly dimension, my children and grandchildren will one day peruse my day planners and think, "Just think what it was like living in those times." It pleases me to imagine that my day to day life will be of some interest to my progeny, if no one else.

My list of famous people who died in 2008 contains 27 names ( somewhat less than the average over the last five years ). Not all famous people who depart make my list. Some are famous enough to merit being mentioned on the evening news, but yet are people I've never heard of, or are not famous enough to me to merit inclusion in my list. Those not included usually fall into two groups; business tycoons and members of the arts community ( which indicate my general lack of interest in the business and arts communities).

My list for 2008 starts with Sir Edmund Hillary, who died on January 10th, and ends with Ertha Kitt, who went to her reward on Christmas day. Sir Edmund made the list for being the first man ( first western man at least) to climb to the top of Mt. Everest. Or, if you're of the X, Y or Z generations, for being the namesake of Senator and former First Lady Hillary Clinton ( even though it turns out that Sir Edmund's climb came after the birth of the lizard queen). Ertha was a member of the arts community, but I knew of her because of her singing career, especially her song Santa Baby, one of my favorite Christmas songs ( or maybe it's an anti-Christmas song, you be the judge).

My list for 2008 includes Bobby Fischer, the American chess genius who went to Iceland in 1972 and whupped up on the commie world champ Boris Spasky of the Soviet Union. Bobby was a flake then, and over the years devolved into a paranoid bigot, but for a few weeks in 1972 he brought chess to the forefront of American attention. The country was riveted, whether you were a chess aficionado or not.

The actor Roy Scheider is on the list. A fine actor with a long list of credits, he deserved to be on my list for no other reason than his portrayal of a small town chief of police out of his depth ( pun intended) trying to deal with a series of deadly shark attacks in the classic movie Jaws. "We need a bigger boat" is one of the great scenes in film.

The father of contemporary conservatism, William F. Buckley, is there. I fondly remember his TV show, reclining in his chair with his clipboard in his lap, espousing the great truths of political philosophy with his locked jaw, east coast dialect and the largest vocabulary of anyone in the 20th century.

Author Arthur C. Clark made the list in 2008. I never cared much for his fiction, but he looked so much like a mad scientist with his long gray hair and 19th century whiskers ( side burns ) he was impossible to ignore. Plus, he voluntarily chose to live in Sri Lanka. What westerner does that?

Dick Martin, half of the Rowen And Martin Laugh-In TV show of the '60s, gave up the ghost in '08. Martin played the punch line to Dan Rowen's straight man. Their show was a landmark in television history. There's never been a show of it's comedic and political influence since.

Comedian George Carlin is there. George went national when I was in high school. His Seven Words You Can't Say On TV was his break out comedy album. Me, by buddies and most of young America thought he was hilarious. Older generations were appalled. Sadly, in his later years, George became a raging cynic, describing with glee the descent of humanity and taking pleasure in the destruction of civilization.

Paul Newman left us last year. His role in Cool Hand Luke is a masterpiece of American cinema. And by all accounts, he was a great human being, raising millions of dollars for various charities throughout his life. That's rare in Hollywood these days.

Other notable passings include Harvey Korman, famous for his multiple comedic roles on The Carol Burnett Show; Jim McKay, who's career in sportscasting spanned decades of the Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat; Issac Hayes, the singer songwriter who's Theme From Shaft may be one of the most iconic songs of the late 20th century; Studs Terkel, who recorded the life of the "working man" from Chicago; Michael Crichton, who's fertile imagination gave us Jurassic Park.

Of all of the names on my list for 2008, the most treasured is Charlton Heston. I love epic movies, and Heston is the king of epic movies. He starred in The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur, El Cid, The Planet of the Apes, The Agony And The Ecstasy, The Greatest Show On Earth and Khartoum. He wasn't afraid to take artistic chances either, starring in Sci-Fi classics like Soylent Green and The Omega Man. Perhaps, like John Wayne, Heston can be criticized as only "playing himself". But damn, he was so good at it. In his later years Mr. Heston was the President of the National Rifle Association. As a life member of the NRA, I appreciated Heston's willingness to sacrifice what was left of his acting career for his belief in the whole Constitution and not just the 1st Amendment.

On a more personal level, three people I went to high school with passed away in '08. Their names would mean nothing to you, but I recall their faces and their voices. I may have played some ball with them, or been in the school play with them, or simply remember them for their beauty. I remember them in their youth and vigor and exuberance for life. And that makes me remember when I was like that. It's a good memory.

I used to chide my father for paying too much attention to the obituaries. It struck me as morbid for him to be so focused on death. Now I begin to understand. The deaths of our contemporaries, our beloved family members and our dear friends mark the passing of our own lives and the days when we were immortal and convinced that death would never touch us or the ones we loved.

Behold, Barack the Annointed One Commeth

By: Roderick T. Beaman

1. And it came to pass that an angel appeared to Sara and said unto her, "Ye shall conceive a son and ye shall call him, Franklin. And he shall rule over the land and he will bring great joy to the people."
2. And so it was during the dark days of the reign of Herbert, that Franklin became the ruler of the land known as Columbia between the two Great Seas and the darkness was lifted from the land. And his reign lasted twelve years and one month and the people and scribes were joyous. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of Karl of Marx.
3. And Franklin begat Harry and the people listenethed, the land stayed in light and the scribes were joyous.
4. And Harry begat Adlai. But the people listenethed not to Aldai and the scribes were saddened. The people listenethed to the false prophet Dwight and the land languished as a darkness descended.
5. And Aldai begat John who begat Lyndon and the people and scribes once more were joyous. And the darkness was lifted from the land.
6. And Lyndon begat Hubert who begat George but the people listenethed not and the scribes were saddened.
7. The people listenethed to the false prophet Richard and a great darkness descended on the land once more.
8. And George begat James and the people listenethed once more and the scribes were joyous and the great darkness was lifted from the land.
9. But the people listenethed not long to James but turned to the false prophet Ronald and the scribes were greatly saddened and once more a darkness descended on the land.
10. And James begat Walter but once more the people listenethed to the false prophet, Ronald.
11. And Walter begat Michael but the people still listenethed not but instead they listenethed to another false prophet George the Elder. And the scribes were saddened for the darkness remained on the land.
12. And Michael begat William and the people listenethed, and the scribes were joyous and the great darkness was lifted from the land.
13. And William begat Albert but the people listenethed not and turned to the false prophet George, the son of the elder George. The scribes were saddened and a great darkness descended on the land once more.
14. And Albert begat John the New but the people again turned to the false prophet George the Younger and the scribes remained saddened. And the darkness remained on the land.
15. But it was during the darkness of the reign of Dwight that an angel appeared to Ann of Dunham and toldeth her that she had found favor with the Lord and would conceive a child and that he would be anointed a savior for the people from their errors and she would call him Barack.
16. And so it was in the fourth year of the New Times and the dark reign of George the Younger that the savior emerged. And he spaketh to the people and told them of the way for a New Truth.
17. And the multitudes marveled as the words of The New Truth pouredeth from him. "What manner of man is the source of such wondrous messages?", they asked.

18. And though he spaketh of the wonders of the ministrations of The New John, the people persisted and clung to the false idol, George the Younger.
19. And behold, William bespake and pronouncedeth to the assembled multitudes, "Thou shalt take to thine breasts, mine anointed successor, Hillary," but the multitudes listenethed not.

20. And behold Joseph the Biden bespake of yond Barack, he be clean and intelligent and attractive and ye shouldst hearken to his message as ye hearken to mine.
21. And Joseph the Biden said to the assembled, he doth be the one whose sandal I am not fit to tieth. And the clouds formed and parted and a light shoneth down on Barack the Obama and the voice of Franklin said, "Such is my progeny with whom I am well pleased."
22. And the multitudes hearkened to the messages of Biden and Franklin and rejoiced in the wisdom of the new found Anointed.
23. And then Jeremiah the Wrightful told of the damnation awaiting the nation and Barack the Obama said, "Get thee behind me Satan. Thou shouldst not enter my Kingdom though thou spakest in the past and I found thine ruminations not hurtful. Whence cometh thou to these thoughts?"
24. But Jeremiah listenethed not and continued his exhortations and was banished from Barack the Obama’s Garden.
25. And behold, Ted the Driver, pronounced him fit and the world worthy of his presence and the people hearkened and rejoiced in his message.
26. And William, tetrarch of the province of New Mexico, spake verily of the New Truth and he proffered the assembled masses his message but they turned away and to the words of Barack the Anointed.
27. And yea the people clamored for the wisdom from the Anointed and they strew palms and petals in his path. And he doth found favor with the assembled multitudes from whose eyes the scales of ignorance had fallen.
28. And the people and the scribes were joyous for they yearned together for the new light.
29. And so it came to pass in those dark days, that Barack the Obama was ushered by the angels into the sacred halls of a Whitened House and the light of the angels shone round about him. And the angels rejoiced in the people’s wisdom.
30. And all of these things happened in accordance with the scriptures of the Howard of Dean, late the tetrarch of the province of Vermont.
The text of this sacred scroll was discovered in a hospital in Hawaii. The scroll had a wax seal imprinted with an ancient Kenyan message.

"Published originally at : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The New Pelosi GTxi SS/Rt Sport Edition

It's in the way you dress. The way you boogie down. The way you sign your unemployment check. You're a man who likes to do things your own way. And on those special odd-numbered Saturdays when driving is permitted, you want it in your car. It's that special feeling of a zero-emissions wind at your back and a road ahead meandering with possibilities. The kind of feeling you get behind the wheel of the Pelosi GTxi SS/Rt Sport Edition from Congressional Motors.

All new for 2012, the Pelosi GTxi SS/Rt Sport Edition is the mandatory American car so advanced it took $100 billion and an entire Congress to design it. We started with same reliable 7-way hybrid ethanol-biodeisel-electric-clean coal-wind-solar-pedal power plant behind the base model Pelosi, but packed it with extra oomph and the sassy styling pizazz that tells the world that 1974 Detroit is back again -- with a vengeance.

We've subsidized the features you want and taxed away the rest. With its advanced Al Gore-designed V-3 under the hood pumping out 22.5 thumping, carbon-neutral ponies of Detroit muscle, you'll never be late for the Disco or the Day Labor Shelter. Engage the pedal drive or strap on the optional jumbo mizzenmast, and the GTxi SS/Rt Sport Edition easily exceeds 2016 CAFE mileage standards. At an estimated 268 MPG, that's a savings of nearly $1800 per week in fuel cost over the 2011 Pelosi.

Even with increased performance we didn't skimp on safety. With 11-point passenger racing harnesses, 15-way airbags, and mandatory hockey helmet, you'll have the security knowing that you could survive a 45 MPH collision even if the GTxi SS/Rt were capable of that kind of illegal speed.

But the changes don't stop there. Sporty mag-style hubcaps and an all-new aggressive wedge shape designed by CM's Chief Stylist Ted Kennedy slices through the wind like an omnibus spending bill. It even features an airtight undercarriage to keep you and a passenger afloat up to 15 minutes -- even in the choppy waters of Cape Cod inlet.

Available in a rainbow of color choices to match any wardrobe, from Harvest Avocado to French Mustard. A special high capacity hatchback holds up to 300 aluminum cans, meaning fewer trips to the redemption center. And the standard 3 speaker Fairness ActoPhonic FM low-band sound system means you'll never miss a segment of NPR again.

Best of all, the Pelosi GTxi SS/Rt is made right here in the U.S.A. by fully card-checked unionized workers and Detroit 's famous visionary jet-set managers. Even if you don't own one, you can enjoy the patriotic satisfaction that you're supporting the high wages, good benefits, and generous political donations that are once again making the American car industry the envy of the world.But why not buy one anyway? With an MSRP starting at only $629,999.99, it's affordable too. Don't forge t to ask about dealer incentives, rebates, tax credits, and wealth redistribution plans for customers from dozens of qualifying special interest groups. Plus easy-pay financing programs from Fanny Mae.So take the bus to your local CM dealer today and find out why the Pelosi GTxi SS/Rt Sport Edition is the only car endorsed by President Barack Obama. One test drive will convince you that you'd choose it over the import brands. Even if they were still legal.


In the interest of full disclosure, neither The Deuce nor Mr. Quarter is the author of this post.

Monday, January 12, 2009

What Were They Thinking?

Mr. Quarter is annoyed that the MSM is in full throated hue and cry over the Israeli assault on Gaza, once again putting their anti-Israeli bias on display. If you pick up a newspaper, you would think that the Israeli government launched an unjust aggression against the poor defenseless Gazans, who were only trying to grow lettuce and olives. I mean, who can really fault the poor Gazans? They needed to blow off some steam on a slow Saturday night (you can't really have a beer), so they opened the garage and wheeled out a couple of the the surface-to -surface missile that Ahmed built from a plans he saw in Boys Life magazine. A couple of Allah Akbar's later and 3 acres of spinach outside Ashkalon is a smoking scrap metal market and a tractor is sitting on 4 flats. Talk about being sensitive, is this all it takes to piss off the Israelis? I mean come on, a little harmless fun and their conflating it completely out of proportion.

What no one seems to be willing to say is that the Hamas rank and file in particular and, perhaps, Gazans in particular have to be brain dead. Clear and lucid thinking does not drive you to taunt and irritate a bigger and more powerful adversary only to be destroyed. It is crazy to believe that because every last one of you is not dead, you can claim to have won a victory.

Clear warnings were given, "Stop the missiles or we will kick your ass." The Gazans must have been thinking that the Israelis were kidding or something. The Israeli's said again , "No really, stop it or we are going to kick your ass." Yeah right, "Hamid, open the closet and get that missile I was working on."
So the Israelis did exactly what they said they would do, and the Israeli government is fully justified in their actions. And they should keep on bringing the lumber until Hamas is destroyed or capitulates. But, the MSM would have us believe that it is a "Holocaust"
The facts on the ground speak of a far different truth than the "crisis" that the MSM would have us believe has befallen the people of Gaza. There are 1.5 million Gazans. Recent reports indicate that about 800 Gazans have been killed, and three times that number wounded. Reports also indicate that 2/3 of the fatalities and causalities are Hamas. By any measure it would appear the the marksmanship of the Israeli Army is outstanding.

The fact is that the Hamas charter makes the group inherently incapable of making peace with Israel. Their foundation document says without ambiguity that they will never live next to or tolerate the existence of a "Zionist entity". End of discussion.

There is really only two ways to make a lasting peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Either the Palestinians adopt a life style of live and let live, and wise up to understand that they can have a pretty good life if they leave the Israelis alone. They don't have to like them, just leave them alone. The Israelis don't want Gaza and could care less about the Gazans. Or the Palestinians can keep on taunting and irritating a bigger and more powerful adversary, keep on having their asses kicked, and never advance beyond the status of a 3rd world feudal state. The choice is really theirs to make.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

No Wonder We are Swirling Around the Bowl

The Bank of England cut its interest rates to their lowest level in 315 years in an attempt to stimulate the economy of the UK. According to this bit of breaking news, the bank’s nine-member monetary policy committee said the world economy "appears to be undergoing an unusually sharp and synchronized downturn." ...Huh? Let Mr. Quarter break this bit of insight down: In the last 12 months, the US stock market has fallen 40% while the US government federal deficit for 2009 is projected at $1.3 trillion, China's GDP growth has been almost halved, and the housing market in the UK has essentially collapsed. So the nine-members of the Bank of England monetary policy committee concluded that the world economy only, "appears to be undergoing an unusually sharp and synchronized downturn?" What exactly are the other alternative conclusions that could be drawn? Are they saying that we are looking at the data and, well, it could be something else like unrestrained prosperty, but it appears to be a downturn. Jesus wept.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Deuce and the Bushmen

Two African Bushmen are squating on a boulder in the middle of the Kalahari Desert watching the sun set and communing with the universe. Neither says a word. Finally the sun drops below the infinite horizon in a glorious explosion of color and the stars begin to come out. The two bushmen gaze at the startling beauty of the Milky Way and each in his own way ponders the meaning of life and his place in the Great Spirit's plan for humanity. The calm of the early evening in the desert is disturbed only by a gentle breeze.

Bushmen #1: Did you hear that TV is going digital?
Bushmen #2: Only about a million times. Everywhere I go that's all anyone is talking about.

Dusk deepens into night and the moon rises in the eastern sky, full and yellow and impossibly huge. With the fullness of night comes the sounds of the nocturnal desert dwellers, hunting and being hunted; searching for mates; locked in the daily struggle to survive and to procreate their species. It's a scene as old as the Earth.

Bushmen #2: What the hell is TV any way?