Monday, May 28, 2012

The Worms that Eat Our Brains

     Last fall, when the Occupy folks were gracing Dewey Square with a semi-permanent encampment, I observed that most normal working people were incensed by the squalid joblessness of the denizens, and they were put off by the snooty high-handed manner in which the Occupiers' grievances were dispensed. Nevertheless, many folks felt the need to add, after making their repugnance clear, that they "understand" their "message" or "why people are angry".  Evidently some of the precepts on which the Occupy case was founded, such as the purported culpability of large financial institutions in the mortgage debacle of '08, or the notion that "greed" (a human emotion) is warping wealth distribution resulting in average people "getting the shaft" are generally accepted as factual by large numbers of otherwise sensible citizens.

     These and other leftist suppositions became accepted axioms, spread from person to person, with the help of media, like a thought virus or meme, worming their way into the national psyche as established truths with little attention paid to the actual validity of the doctrines. In this way, while people rejected the messengers and their anarchic, fetid and crime-ridden barracks, the underlying deep cynicism of the Occupy creed infected much of the populace, who then transmitted it orally and otherwise like a virus.

     Now comes Elizabeth Warren, a cleaned-up intellectualized version of the Occupy grudgemiesters, a self-styled White Knight who is supposed to ride to the rescue of "the middle class", somehow (we know how actually -  with redistributionist taxes and entrepreneurial unfriendly regulatory schemes), protecting folks from the hoggish hammerers of Wall St., their rascally Republican enablers, and the greedy clutches of corporate America's bloated plutocrats and corrupt moneybag capitalists. Ouch.

     But now the would-be Lioness of the Senate, the paladin, is tainted with scandal. While it would be a service to the people of Massachusetts, the U.S., nay, the world, if Ms Warren's Senatorial bid went down in flames, to take her out simply because of the breathtaking hypocrisy of the grubby way she climbed the career ladder as a "woman of color" would be a failure. It would be curing the symptom while letting the disease fester.

     Warren spokes-mouth Alethea Harney, when questioned about the role false ethnic claims played in her employer's meteoric career rise  told the Herald that "Scott Brown is trying to distract people from his voting record for Wall Street, big oil and big increases in student loans (sic)".

     Here behind Ms Warren's Indian-gate idiocy, is a trio of tropes that badly need debunking, lest they further worm themselves into the public psyche, becoming solidly ensconced as accepted truths:

1. I assume Ms Harney meant to refer to "doubling the interest rate", as this is the distortion Warren referred to when asked about her fake Indian claims. The Democrat congress passed the "College Cost Reduction Act of 2007" with this scheduled reversal cleverly planned to exact future political mileage tarring any attempt to let it (the small rate break) expire. Once again, lessons that should have been learned from the housing bubble go unheeded. Just as the feds forced banks to lend big bucks to shockingly unqualified borrowers, this time around it's the government pushing millions of high school "graduates", many of whom can barely read and write, to attend colleges where they are destined to wash out or be pushed through with useless degrees and then default on said loans. The default rate for "two year proprietary" colleges has been 47% or higher for five years. It's a trillion dollar bubble coming down the track.

2. As for those big bad oil firms and their evil speculator buddies, of course the truth is turned exactly backwards. Subsidies for energy companies? Wrong. Exxon-Mobil, for example, pays about $100 billion in taxes per year, more than their profits, which incidently go to pension funds and 401k's all over the country. The subsidies we supposedly lavish on big oil turn out to be ordinary deductions and depreciation allowed for capital equipment. (The President relies on public innumeracy when he maligns traders - for every "speculator" who bids the price up there is a bearish "speculator" who takes the opposite side of the trade - where is The President now that they've run the price [of oil] DOWN to $78/barrel?)

3. For politicians such as Ms. Warren, the mere utterance of  the words "Wall Street" suffices to smear the target. Those well versed in the technology of negative writing know that the more left to the readers' imaginations, the better.

     Demagogues such as Ms Warren and President Obama foment hatred, class envy and deep cynicism, while they should be telling the American people the optimistic truth: that our energy, financial and technology companies are the best on the planet, and should engender pride and excitement, not suspicion, shame and fear.

Monday, May 21, 2012

News of the Tautological, or, perhaps, "Bottom" Story of the Day? (Letter to Best of the Web Today, James Taranto's column)

Romney, Obama vie for female support  This was the Boston Globe headline that grabbed my eye yesterday as I passed the newstand, and it reminded me of why I dumped the paper after 40 years of readership. (In New England, one "takes The Herald" or one "subscribes to The Globe") I no longer have to be subjected to opinion pieces that are disguised as objective journalism, and, my wife must no longer endure random eruptions from the other room when I would read a particularly execrable item.
The "article" in yesterday's edition apparently, as it was placed above-the-fold and top-right, was the lead headline - deemed the most important story of the day, journalistically.  This is an example of a generic topic, prepared in advance, that could have been run any day recently.  Didn't any real news happen on Sunday? Has the Globe laid off their Sunday staff?  Par for the course at Boston's boring broadsheet. I didn't even need to read the piece to know the contents: One could be certain that "concerns" would be cited about "health care issues" or "access to contraceptives", as if all voting women have this as their top issue.  Obama of course would be seen as protector of these "rights" and "benefits" which Republicans want to withdraw in their "war on women".  Romney for his part would be reduced to "reaching out".
Well, curiosity got the better of me and I bought the edition.  This article, (and the similarly focused top piece in the same edition's Metro section [Senator Scott] Brown steps up focus on women), was a thinly veiled attempt to woo votes for The President, and readership for the sagging newspaper that used to be New England's flagship.  One can see the focus groups and surveys rattling around behind the lines - "Independent women" (you like to be called independent, don't you, huh huh?) will save the election and save the dying paper too, so we'll fixate on this category and their putative concerns.  This is The Globe as purveyer of identity politics.  I suppose it is simpler for the journalist, (or pol, or pollster) to assume persons' interests are defined by their category: woman, black, Jewish, seniors, Latino etc. Thus an article (or speech or poll question) can be matched to the presumed issue of interest: health care, race and entitlements, pensions, Israel, immigration. Not only is this style insulting, but also, as the National review headline put it, mind numbingly predictable.
As was the article itself. As I foresaw the writer (Michael Levinson, Globe staff) in just the 2nd sentence cited  women who were "angry about attempts to roll back contraception coverage, restrict abortion rights, and cut funding for Planned Parenthood...They perceive their rights are under threat" . Mitt Romney for his part, the piece goes on, has responded by basically ignoring these concerns, keeping the focus on economic issues, taxes and spending, as if the Repubs are too cheap to pay for that which women so desperately need (males, evidently, don't get sick and have no health worries).  Not having anything to say, Romney must be content with "deploying his wife as his designated emissary to the opposite sex" as if American ladies were a foreign country, and he needed a plenipotentiary and translator. 
The piece goes on to specify "benefits of the president's health care law" whose heretofore tepid support among the gals is attributed to lack of knowledge of "the features that specifically benefit them".  So, we learn from "video testimonials from, among others, a breast cancer survivor and a mother whose daughter was born with a congenital heart defect" that "the law guarantees that [women] cannot be charged more than men for coverage, that insurers cannot charge copays for mammograms and cancer screenings, and that women cannot be denied coverage if they are pregnant or have been victims of domestic violence."
Where do I sign up?
For "balance' a photo of Ann Romney (in a red dress) is shown. "Ann Romney has moved  beyond her usual role vouching for her husband, Mitt, as a family man" say the picture caption.
The article ends by hammering home the main point:
Mary Welch, 68, a retired high-tech consultant who brought a casserole and spent several hours calling women throughout New Hampshire, said it was important to educate them about the benefits of the law. She dismissed the idea that the law is a political liability for the president.
“I find,’’ she said, “that most people just don’t understand it well enough.’’

Lizzie Warren's Thanksgiving Day Roast Turkey Stew

  ?   +61 Good Comment -21 Poor Comment
Lizzie Warren's Thanksgiving Day Roast Turkey Stew

Substitute bull for turkey
1 whole chicken
1 can Spam
2 cups firewater
heap of dog chow (dry)
1/32 of a Turnip 1/32nd of a beet, 1/32nd of a parsnip, 1/32nd of a rutabega (hat-tip to James Taranto)
Native corn
8 slices forked tongue
1/2 cup sour grapes
Hot air
Hair of dog
Eye of Newt
1 stick Halvah
4 grains of salt

Lard crock-pot generously with pork. Set aside.
Cut chicken in half: keep left side, smear right with anything handy, then discard.
Slice bull thickly and pile very high
Pound table
Mix the rest of ingredients all together (discard grains of salt)
Cook in oven until half baked
Garnish with diverse selection of fruits and nuts

If serving company - throw the whole mess out and send to out to Whole Foods for real meal
(Tell guests recipe is from NY Times)
Serve with a good Jewish whine
Distribute to guests according to income
Send food bill to U.S. taxpayers
(and don't forget not to say grace)
Posted 2 days ago

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Herald Comment on "Granny" Warren's Pow Wow Chow Brouhaha

Pull the wagons up into a circle!

[Elizabeth] Warren's stump speech containing the line: "America's middle class is getting hammered.." now will be "America's middle class is getting scalped..."
Seriously, Warren and her ilk blame the financial woes of recent years on "Wall St. banks", diverting our attention from the real cause and problem: government mandates which forced lenders to discriminate - not looking solely at a borrowers assets, credit history or ability to repay a loan, but at their skin color or minority status. Had westuck to the Canadian model - 20% down, sufficient income to repay and a good credit history - none of this would have occurred. Who are the racists here?

"Scalp her, Tantric!"
"Hee-mo, keemosabee
Posted 3 hours ago