"Yes We Can" Move On....

I am not sure I have seen so many people succumb to peer pressure so thoroughly in an attempt to be as cool as the new 'in' crowd since I was in High School. Granted that was long ago, when cool meant trying to look like Don Johnson wearing pastels and no socks...

Back in this century, in an effort to leech off of the 'uber-cool' status of our incoming celebrity-in-chief, everyone is getting on the band-wagon and appropriating the divine slogans of The One.

Today Evan Coyne Maloney points out how Pepsi is rolling out some legalized trademark infringement, and doesn't mind if anyone notices the blatant similarities to some other recent advertising.

(Photo: Evan Coyne Maloney)

Hmmm....seems familiar....

Well, Pepsi ain't the only offenders. The People's Choice Awards, and event marketed as uber-cool in its own right, are looking to steal a little of the magic as well.

Their current advertisement with Queen Latifah has the following dialog:
"When the people vote, Change happens. And this January, history will be made right before our eyes."
Hmmm....I wonder what they could be referring to???

Wait, before you shout out an answer, Queen Latifah says:
"You know I am talking about the People's Choice Awards, don't you?"
Ha-ha, ROTFL...

Of course, the ad ends with this smug reassurance...
"Can we pick the winners? Yes. We. Can."

Wonderful. I can't wait to see what slobbering tributes get rolled out at this event...

Well, it it not like I was going to watch this or any other celeberity self-congratulatory love-fest anyhow.

Now, I may need to move fast, as I notice that yeswecanmoveon.org has yet to be appropriated....


Tuesday Night Beer

Tonight I am enjoying a Casco Bay Winter Ale

Not too bad....went well with the 45 degree temps and Beef Stew for dinner.


Peace is Our Profession

Damn, this is the best idea to come out of the lefty Peace movement in years!

Code Pink For Peace

Hat Tip: Code Monkey, Chuck Z, and Uncle Jimbo.

UPDATE: Code Monkey has even MORE on this breakthrough idea to bring Peace to the world!

Obama's deceptive 'Tax Cuts'

According to a link from Instapundit, Obama is continuing his Bush impersonation by an effort to "push forward tax cuts despite economic crisis".

The linked article presents these details:

The incoming administration is considering tax cuts of $1,000 for couples and $500 for individuals that will be delivered by reducing the tax withheld from paychecks. That plan, which would cost about $140 billion over 2009-2010, would put more money in paychecks.
The funny thing is that as presented above (perhaps there are more details), this is not a tax cut. This is simply fewer $$ being withheld from paychecks, but the implications won't be apparent until April 2010.

As presented, this does nothing to change anyone's tax rate. So come Tax Day in 2010, people will find that their refund is reduced by $500-1000, or that they will have to dig up $500-1000 to help pay tax that they owe. While this will make people feel good by putting a *little* extra moola in their checks, it will also set them up for unexpected consequences....

It is possible that Obama could get corresponding lower tax rates passed by the end of 2009 and make them retroactive, but if he doesn't, many Americans may unexpectedly get stuck with lower refunds/higher taxes in 15 months.

Now ultimately this is simply government feel-goodery in action. Accomplishing something that people can already do for themselves. Withholding is optional people! Set your withholding to $0 if you want, but you will need to come up with some extra cash next April. Or if you do a little tax planning, you can adjust your withholding to match your circumstances. For instance, if you get big refunds every year, that means you are giving the government interest-free loans each and every month, until you get that money back a year later. If that is the case, go fill out an IRS Form W-4, and reduce your withholding so that you get more money in your paycheck now.

America, you don't need to wait for Team Obama to do the work for you! But unfortunately, I think many of you want them to.....


Pass the Blame Game

This morning Ace of Spades is pointing out a convergence of two of Instapundit's favorite topics: Chris Dodd and the demise of Newspapers.

It seems that the Connecticut Post does want to give equal time to those whom might view prominent Democrats as the cause of the current fiscal crisis.
“All letters are welcome. But there are code words hidden in some that are signals to stop paying close attention — “Chris Dodd” and “Barney Frank.” According to one school of thinking, these two, more than anyone else in America, are to blame for our current troubles.

If you want to castigate their decision-making, fine. If you want to say they and they alone are to blame for the recession, that’s crazy. They didn’t even take over their congressional committees until early last year, and our problems started long before then.”
That's right, Chris Dodd and Barney Frank were only wet-behind-the-ears, babes-in-the-woods Congresscritters before 2006, and could do nothing to stop the evil Bush profiteers. And people continue to wonder why no one bothers to read Newspapers anymore...

Now, the Post's rant is not entirely without merit, as it is true that there are many fathers/mothers to this crisis. However what the post is really trying to say in the text above is "All the blame lies with President Bush and Congressional Republicans. They have been in power for a long time, how could the Democrats be to blame?".

But, as many rational people know, national level problems of this nature do no pop up overnight, or even in 8 years. Things of this magnitude take years and years of bureaucratic mismanagement, political chicanery, and downright ineptitude to produce.

So to be fair to the Republicans as well, I think that the Post should also post the following graph:
“All letters are welcome. But there are code words hidden in some that are signals to stop paying close attention — “George Bush” and “Karl Rove.” According to one school of thinking, these two, more than anyone else in America, are to blame for our current troubles.

If you want to castigate their decision-making, fine. If you want to say they and they alone are to blame for the recession, that’s crazy. They didn’t even take over the White House until 2001, and our problems started long before then.”
Yes, the Post is right that this mess started before 2006, but that conveniently ignores Dodd's and Frank's (and others) actions (and inactions) before that point.


Christmas Beers

Last night I enjoyed a great beer...

Schneider Aventinus

I heard the clerk tell another customer he thought it was one of the best beers in the world. So what the hey, I bought one. It was pretty darn good. In fact, after 1600 ratings at ratebeer.com, it is in the 99th percentile of all beers.


Hugo's Big Mess

Now that I am back to driving on a daily basis, I have been taking note of the prices at gas stations along my routes.

On interesting thing that I have noticed is that the prices at CITGO are significatnly higher than at other stations (by several to 15 cents). Why might that be? Perhaps it could be due to the ultimate benefactor of CITGO profits?

For those of you who don't know, CITGO is a "wholly owned subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela."

In other words, it belongs to Hugo Chavez.

Given the rapid decline in the price of oil, Hugo's little dictatorship is in desperate need of capital to prop up its tottering leadership and infrastructure.

Perhaps he wants to keep prices a little bit higher than everyone else to squeeze every last cent he can out of his most precious lifeline?

Who knows, but its just my observation....

UPDATE: Instapundit also posts concerning Hugo's massive revenue problems. Glenn had best be careful, or Hugo might nationalize Instapundit too....


Four Horsemen of the Obacaplypse?

The economy is in the dumps. However the incoming Obama administration wants to save this capitalist economy with a dose of big-government socialism.

I have just begun reading the new book "The End of Prosperity" by Arthur Laffer, Stephen Moore, and Peter Tanous.

In the very first chapter titled "The Gathering Economic Storm", the authors point out that the U.S. economy encountered "Four Killers of Prosperity" during the two tumultuous periods during the 1930s and 1970s.

Those 'Four Killers' are:
- Trade Protectionism
- Tax Increases and profligate Govt Spending
- New Regulations and increased Gov't intervention in the economy
- Monetary policy mistakes
Unfortunately, a couple of those killers have already struck, and Obama isn't even in office yet. However, very soon all of those killers will be paroled, and sold to the public as the cure to economic ills.

Lets run through those Killers again...

Trade Protectionism - Check! Colombia can kiss its trade pact goodbye, and when the newly empowered Unions get their way, NAFTA will be the next big target

Tax Increases and profligate Govt Spending - Check! Obama has paid lip service to delaying Income Tax increases, but there are many other ways to raise taxes, or if you live in California, "fees". Also, if you think that the Dems won't continue spending gov't oney like drunken sailors, now that the GOP has been kicked out of the budgetary bar, you must be high....

New Regulations and increased Gov't intervention in the economy - Check! Since the new Dem bogeyman for a lot of this fiscal mess is "de-regulation", you certainly know what will be coming soon to a bureaucracy near you....more rules!! Welcome to the Nanny State...make yourself at home, just don't sit on the furniture.

Monetary policy mistakes - Check! Already taken care of by the current administration. All Obama has to do is mind the store, and not advocate for a strong dollar.

Laffer, Moore, and Tanous may call them the Four Killers, but I think they will be refered to in the future as the Four Horsemen of the Obacalypse...

Messiah of the Year??

Let me start out by saying, that I have not seen or heard anything concerning who might be Time Magazine's "Person of the Year".

However I think I might have a good idea. Not because the press coverage has been so fawning that it has bordered on idolatry, but by this other sign I saw today. Two signs actually...

One on each door of the entrance at Barnes & Noble (where I was stopping for a last minute gift), which read "Due to high demand, we are limiting sales of Time Magazine's 'Man of the Year' issue to two copies per person."

Now who else would have such a devoted flock such that liberal book store workers would see the need to impose rationing such that everyone might have a chance to get a copy (or two!) to save for historical purposes?

This really is a head scratcher....


OK, so I couldn't stand to wait, and slipped over to the Time website.

Now, I do have a couple of questions...

1) Who is this guy? Seriously, where is the name? I guess Time can't imagine that *no one* would not know who this grand figure might be. The only reason I ask is that every other Man/Person/Thing of the Year has been identified with a label. Even president's Bush and Clinton, whom presumably everybody knew. Perhaps this mans transcends a name. He just is "The One".

2) Are they trying to say he is transparent, or that we can see right through him? Just curious....


A Weaponized Version of Borat


Head over to Pajama's Media, and read
Michael Yon's latest dispatch and observtions from the Afghan province of Zabul.

The best portion are the descriptions of our new stalwart allies, the Lithuanians. Please note how these allies will actually deign to fight the Taliban...
Maybe when your country spends almost a half-century with the Soviet boot on its neck, its first generation of free soldiers know what freedom is worth — and that you sometimes have to fight for it

UPDATE: For anyone who might think that Yon was writing disparagingly about the Lithuanian soldiers, please reconsider. As he states, perhaps he being 'tongue-in-cheek', but if you read his post closely, you should understand that he was being complimentary with his overall assessment. Both Yon, myself (who recently returned from several months in Afghanistan, and others are highly appreciative of the fact that there are some countries who will actually stand up and fight the evil in front of us...as opposed to some other European countries who do not seem to have the will.

Please see Yon's mea culpa letter to the Commander of Lithuanian Special Forces, here.

From the U.S. military...Thank you Lithuania!


We Get What We Vote For - Part IV

Now, what was the biggest economic story of the year (besides that Mortgage thingy)? Why, the extra high price of Gas of course, and the resulting detrimental effects on the economy.

Every person and every segment of the economy felt the effects as Gas edged north of $4 per gallon. Everyone was hoping for a big change to help them out. So you would think that a politician that won with a campaign of Hope & Change would want his administration to help continue the current trend of dropping gas prices.

Unfortunately, as pointed out by The Foundry blog over at Heritage Foundation, Mr. Obama's selections for Secretary of Energy actually wouldn't mind seeing Gas priced much higher than it was this summer.
"Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”
So says Dr Steven Chu, Obama's selection for the Energy post.

So, what do Europe's Gas prices look like?

Well, in July, when average U.S. prices were topping off at $4.34, Gas in the Netherlands was $10.64. The cheapest of the big European countries cost almost $9 per gallon. Right now the average prices in the U.S. stand at $1.97, whereas the average across Europe is about $5.50. For the math impaired, that is nearly 3 times the cost that we pay. The funny thing is, the actual base cost of the gasoline isn't that much different in Europe than it is in the U.S. It is just that European countries tack on taxes such that taxes make up 65-70+% of the price.

(Source: DOE)

Thus, the incoming senior federal bureaucrat for energy issues wants us all to pay
double the painful prices we were paying this summer, or triple what we pay now? In the normal touchy-feely liberal parlance, How does that make you feel, America?

But hey...you got the Hope and Change you voted for, right? Too bad you didn't read the fine print....


Holy Crap!

In some small irony I have been 'published' in the New York Times....

Not sure how that happened...

We Get What We Vote For - Part III

Not sure why anyone would want to live in California anymore....
"California Democrats devise plan to hike taxes. By structuring them as fees, they would skirt GOP opponents and raise $9.3 billion. A court fight looms."
Like this is a great shock to anyone? Sigh....
"Republican legislators and antitax groups promised legal challenges to derail the Democrats' plan. "Raising taxes on people and playing funny math and calling it fees is not governing," said Assembly GOP leader Michael Villines of Clovis. "That's trickery, is what that is.""
Good luck guys. If you don't succeed, perhaps you can hitch a ride with one of the businesses fleeing out of the state...

(Hat Tip: Instapundit)


We Get What We Vote For - Part II

Ken Salazar will be Obama's selection to head up the Department of the Interior.
"Mr. Salazar’s most urgent task will be to remove the influence of politics and ideology from decisions that are best left to science."
Funny, but I doubt that the Obama administration will be bringing 'science' to Interior. I think that they will probably be bringing religion instead....

Praise Gaia and pass the the carbon credits....

We Get What We Vote For - Part I

Congratulations North Carolina, you will finally get the change you voted for....
"With gas-tax revenues plummeting, the state of North Carolina is looking seriously at taxing motorists for how far they drive."
I hope you are very happy with your choices....

Bush Subjected to Torture by Iraqis

Isn't it funny how one election can change everything.

Not too many years ago, simply subjecting people to humiliation and insults was defined as torture. Now, if someone subjects someone else to "the worst possible insult...meant to show extreme disrespect and contempt...", he is somehow a hero and probably a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Change has arrived! Now we are just waiting for hope to show up....


Following the Madoff Money

In a Corner post earlier today by Victor Davis Hanson, the question was posed:
Given what we know of Stevens, Rangel, and the Freddie/Fannie circle, surely no one like Bernie Madoff steals billions right under the N.Y./D.C. radar without friends in high places. Can't our media do some research and find out exactly to whom and to what degree he donated to Congress?
Since things like this are now fairly easy for us in the great unwashed populace outside of the media, here is what a quick look turned up.

Madoff personally gave $100,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee since 2005. Bernie and relatives (also co-workers at his Hedge...err...Ponzi Scheme) have also given lots of money to many pols, including Chuck Schumer ($39k), Ed Markey ($43k), Ron Wyden ($33k), and the Securities Industry Assn (Lobbying Assn; $61k). Schumer is a natural recipient, since he is not only the senior Senator from NY, but also on the Senate Finance Committee. Wyden is on the same Senate Finance Committee. Markey is on the House Energy & Commerce Committee. Why would Madoff ever contribute to them??

And in case anyone wants to play 'Name that Party', Madoff ( and his several relatives/co-workers) gave Democrats over $290,000, and only $33,000 to GOP entities (including a Congressman who, shockingly, was on the House Energy & Commerce Committee)

More to follow....when I have time, I will try to take a deeper look at which of those many Pols (like Schumer, Markey and Wyden) not listed here were involved in Committees that touched the Securities industry.

UPDATE: I suppose my sagging faith in the press might have been a little unwarrented this AM. Mark Hemingway, also in the Corner, points to the fact that Politico.com is actually doing some journalism on this issue, "Madoff bought influence in Washington". Sadly enough (but perhaps not surprisingly) the only Pol to be mentioned by name 'above the fold' for taking campaign contribution from Madoff was a Republican.
The Madoffs were also hefty donors to political candidates. In total, the Madoff family has donated more than $380,000 to political candidates, parties and political action committees since 1993, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The giving skewed largely Democratic, although donations were made to several Republicans, including scandal-ridden Rep. Vito J. Fossella (R-N.Y.).
You have to go to page 2 of the story to find out that Chuckie Schumer raked in his $39k, and $100k for his DSCC. Fossella is an odd choice to mention, seeing as how he got a whopping $4000 from the Madoff clan (only $1000 from Bernie), and $0 after 2001. He is (was?) however on the
House Energy & Commerce Committee. Anyone seeing a pattern here? Heck, fellow Republican ( and once again former House Energy & Commerce Committee member) Jack Fields got $14K from the Madoffs. But I guess that Fossella was the closest that Politico could get to a current 'scandal-ridden' Republican (DUI, Affair) to try to pin the tail on the elephant....


Beer o' the Night

Left Hand Deep Cover Brown Ale....could be better....

UPDATE: OK, since it is Friday, I had to have something else...

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale...the old classic....


Capitalism Saves the Planet?

For years, we have been told that our rampant obsession with Capitalism and a consumer society was leading to the demise of the planet.

Ironically enough, the recent economic downturn has sent the critically important (or so we have ben told) recycling biz into a nosedive. Turns out, no one wants to buy recycled materials if there is no market to use them to make other products.
Just months after riding an incredible high, the recycling market has tanked almost in lockstep with the global economic meltdown. As consumer demand for autos, appliances and new homes dropped, so did the steel and pulp mills' demand for scrap, paper and other recyclables.

Cardboard that sold for about $135 a ton in September is now going for $35 a ton. Plastic bottles have fallen from 25 cents to 2 cents a pound. Aluminum cans dropped nearly half to about 40 cents a pound, and scrap metal tumbled from $525 a gross ton to about $100.
Ooops. Guess we need that evil capitalism idea after all. Though perhaps the new Obama Administration could mandate price controls on recycled scrap. That way we could continue to save the planet through the goodness of government, and avoid the ickiness of a market-driven solution....

Corruption You Can Believe In!

Lets see....what does it tell you when a throughly corrupt politician, who is only in it for himself and the money, wants either one of two jobs...

a) Union boss and obvious benefactor of the soon to arrive 'Card Check' legislation


b) Secretary of Health and Human Services in the soon to arrive Obama Administration

What is wrong with the second one you ask? It appears to be a very altruistic choice, right?

Perhaps. However in my estimation, when you have a throughly corrupt politician who is only in it for himself and the money , who is eyeing a fairly backwater cabinet position in which he has no prior professional expertise, then you ar
e probably looking at the segment of the economy where there will be the most change, and certainly the most shakedown money...errr, patronage...helping to shape that change.

I fear for the future of American healthcare under the Obama Administration, even if this low life is nowhere near it...

Home Sweet Home

My six-months of Afghanistan fun are done!

Got plenty of leave on the books, so I won't be back to work until January...