Archive for January 2009

Shame on him, shame on Illinois voters

Blagoyevich is, yes, Blago, as the Illinois State Senate took its responsibility seriously and expeditiously (for politicians). It encourages us to see that some functions of government can work for the good of the people, though in this case I tend to think it was just a happy coincidence that brought the good of the people in line with the interests of certain others. But hey we’ll take it.

The roll-call was fun to listen to. The speeches beforehand exemplified everything I dislike about politics and pontificating politicians. “I grew up on a farm, and we grew apples and peaches. And occasionally there would be a bad apple in the bunch,” (I paraphrase from some state senator whose name escapes me).

In any case, it’s over. And as Illinois voters look around in relief and/or glee, I tend to think — Blagoyevich was a product of this state’s corrupt culture, of which our President is as well — though you would never know it.  And voters are to blame for electing him twice, and the Republican party is also to blame for not offering a reasonable alternative in 2006.

I’m glad the voters of Illinois (through their representaitves) finally decided he had to go.  Can Stroger please be next?

And here, a  quote taken out of context but pleasingly apt after Blago’s speech earlier:

He was not born to shame:

Upon his brow shame is ashamed to sit

-Wm. Shakespeare “Romeo and Juliet”

QOTD

What they undertook to do

They brought to pass;

All things hang like a drop of dew

Upon a blade of grass.

- Yeats, Gratitude to the Unknown Instructors.

QOTD

Death is to be chosen before slavery and base deeds.

- Cicero

How much money is that?

Below is a graphic that’s been popping up around the blogosphere, I copied it from Ace…

Money Supply Since 1910

Money Supply Since 1910

It’s kind of hard to make out, but the line goes vertical last year.  Vertical.

The money supply has doubled (nearly) in the last five months.  Doubled.  All the money in the US, doubled.

As can be seen in the graph, this is unprecedented, really unprecedented.  And as Ace points out, it might be a good idea to take a wait and see attitude on this whole stimulus plan here and just see what happens first.

The history of economic stimulus isn’t exactly stellar either.  And since only about 12% of this giant bill can even reasonably be called stimulus, maybe we might want to hold off on the whole largest-bill-ever thing for a month or two.  No?

Who plays the governor? Not Blagoyevich

We are pleased (well not really) to present the following tidbit from the Sun Times

If a movie is made about Blagojevich, who plays the governor? – Lynn Sweet

And yes, he really did say that. I heard him with my own ears on the news last night. And then on Sunday, as he started his media blitz, the good governor, who is the ONLY honest politican in Illinois, began by comparing himself to Ghandi, Martin Luther,  Nelson Mandela… and other “human rights heroes.”

Well what if he is? More to the point, what if he does somehow, with his Kipling-quoting charm (if you can call it that), somehow convince potential jury members that maybe…it’s not his fault. He is, after all, simply a product of his northwest Chicago culture, where pay to play is just how the game is played.  Isn’t pay to play what politics IS, he seems to be saying.

QOTD

The strong do what they will, the weak suffer what they must.

This is from Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, and is oft quoted.  But I think in these “hopeful” times, the following might be more appropriate…

Hope, that comforter in danger!  If one already has solid advantages to fall back upon, one can indulge in hope.  It may do harm, but will not destroy one.  But hope is by nature an expensive commodity, and those who are risking their all on one cast find out what it means only when they are already ruined; it never fails them in the period when such a knowledge would enable them to take precautions.  Do no let this happen to you whose fate depends on a single movement of the scale.  And do not be like those people who, as so commonly happens, miss the chance of saving themselves in a human and practical way, and, when every clear and distinct hope has left them in their adversity, turn to what is blind and vague, to prophecies and oracles and such things which by encouraging hope lead men to ruin.

Not to say that anyone in current public life is “blind and vague” or anything…

QOTD

The popular, pink marsh-mallow conception of “love,” which considers it a lush force that does for human beings the things they are too lazy or greedy to do for themselves, instead of the call to battle that it is, always irritates me.

- Laurens van der Post, The Lost World of the Kalahari

Hae a Bonnie Burns Night!

A special Burns’ Night QOTD.

When you go forth to waken the Echoes, in the ancient and favourite amusements of your Forefathers, may Pleasure ever be of your party; and may Social-joy await your return! When harassed in courts or camps with the justlings of bad men and bad measures, may the honest consciousness of injured Worth attend your return to your native Seats; and may Domestic Happiness, with a smiling welcome, meet you at your gates! May Corruption shrink at your kindling indignant glance; and may tyranny in the Ruler and licentiousness in the People equally find you an inexorable foe!

Robert Burns, Dedication to the Noblemen and Gentlemen of the Caledonian Hunt.

And from a poem…

AULD BRIG: I doubt na, frien’, ye’ll thnk ye’re nae sheep shank

Ance ye were streekit owre frae bank to bank!

But gin ye be Brig as auld as me,

Tho’ faith, that date, I doubt, ye’ll never see;

There’ll be, if that day come, I’ll wad a boddle,

Some fewer whigmeleeries in your noddle.

NEW BRIG: Auld Vandal! ye but show your little mense,

Just much about it wi’ your scanty sense;

Will your poor, narrow foot-path of a street,

Where twa wheel-barrows tremble when they meet,

Your ruin’d, formless bulk o’ stane an’ lime,

Compare wi’ bonie Brigs o’ modern time?

There’s men of taste would tak the Ducat Stream,

Tho’ they should cast the vera sark and wim,

E’er they would grate their feelings wi’ the view

O’ sic an ugly, Gothic hulk as you.

AULD BRIG:

Conceited gowk! puff’d up wi windy pride!

This monie a year I’ve stood the flood an’ tide;

An tho’ wi’ crazy eild I’m sair forfrain,

I’ll be a Brig when ye’re a shapeless cairn!

As yet ye little ken about the matter,

But twa-three winters will inform ye better…

Robert Burns, from The Brigs o Ayr.

And, it’s two bridges arguing about which is better. Read the whole thing, it’s fun.

The Fakers

Yo Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and other excellent classical musicians who performed in frigid temperatures during last Tuesday’s inaugural address were, how shall we say this — bow-synching.

Do we blame them for not playing? NO. It was freezing. But… why fake it? Why did they not just play the recording and admit that such cold temperatures are actually BAD for instruments? Or skip it and get to the oath already.

Because admitting it was a recording, or canceling the performance, would disrupt the theatrics of it all, and we of course cannot have that.

This reminded me rather strongly of China ensuring  a “cute” girl would  “sing” Ode to the Motherland during the Olympic Opening Ceremonies last summer. There was some disgust with that — typical communists, etc. etc. And here we are now, lapping it up for the coronation of Obama.

It’s a small thing, of course, and I am not saying conservatives should run out and make a lot of noise about it, but it’s interesting. And typical.  Perhaps if Obama can lull the far left fringe of his party with assurances and grand sweeping meaningless gestures like this, we can hope that real and larger damage will be limited.

Hypocrisy Court

Bailiff:  All Rise, for here comes the Judge.

Judge: Be seated.  We’re going to hear a couple of cases here today and I don’t want them to take too long, so let’s get busy.  You there, in the funny hat, what’s your business with this court.

Dar-Al-Islam:  We demand that Jerusalem be returned!

Judge: Based on what?

DAI:…

Judge: What’s the basis of your claim, why should I order it back to you?

DAI: Well, because it is ours!

Judge:  No, if it was yours I wouldn’t need to give it back.  Why do you think I should give it back?

DAI:  It was taken from us!

Judge:  And?

DAI:  …

Judge: Look son, I don’t mean to be rude but we’ve got a lot of work to do so if that’s all you’ve got.

DAI:  It was wrongly taken from us!  The Joos and the Crusaders and the Colonialists took it!

Judge:  uh-huh.  So taking is wrong?

DAI:  Yes, it must be returned!

Judge:  Constantinople.

DAI: …, you mean Istanbul?

Judge:  No, I mean Constantinople, the seat of Orthodox Christianity, the home of the great and beautiful Byzantine Empire.  Sacked, burned and enslaved by muslims and forcibly converted to ‘Istanbul’.  The beautiful cathedral of the Hagia Sophia, defaced, and turned into a mosque.

DAI:  Yes, of course, what’s your point.

Judge:  My point is that Islam has spread by the sword from the beginning of its existence.  Muhammad returned to Mecca with an army.  The whole of the Islamic world is steeped in the blood of these conquests, so it’s a little late in the game to be claiming that conquest is an illegitimate means of occupation.

DAI:  But that is different.

Judge:  Uh-huh, and why is that?

DAI:  Because Allah has willed it through his prophet Mohammad.

Judge:  Uh-huh.  You have to understand son, we don’t believe your little book, so you can’t use it as a claim of justification.  If your conquests are legitimate, than you have to tell my why other’s conquests aren’t.

DAI:  Allah has willed it.

Judge:  Well than Allah can will Jerusalem back to you.  Absent that, I’ll order than when Constantinople has been restored to its rightful place as the home of Eastern Christendom and Mecca has been freed from Islamic oppression, than I will order Jerusalem back to you.  Next Case.

Drooling Obama Worshippers:  Hi Judge, we’d like to imprison George Bush and throw a party for President Obama because he just outlawed torture and closed Guantanamo.

Judge:  Uh-huh.  We like to do one thing at a time here, so how about we start with the New President’s party.

DOW:  Yeah, we’d like to throw him a party because he stopped torture and he’s closing that travesty to human rights in Cuba.

Judge:  You mean Castro, he’s toppled Castro?

DOW:  No Judge.  You’re silly.  We mean Guantanamo, the evil US prison for poor oppressed muslims.

Judge:  Uh-huh.  So it’s closed then?

DOW:  Well, not yet, it’s very complicated.  But he’s said he’s going to and he’s studying it now.

Judge:  How about we revisit that when it’s done?  We’ve been studying alternative energy for about forty years now and still get most of our power from fossil fuels..

DOW:  Obama’s working on that too!

Judge:  Yes, isn’t that special.  What I was trying to say before you interrupted me was that we’ve been working on that problem for a long time and still don’t have any good answers.  Do you know why?

DOW:  Evil oil companies have kept the technologies from being brought to market.

Judge:  Uh, no.  How old are you anyway?

DOW:  35.

Judge:  A little old to be believing in fairy-tales aren’t you?

DOW:  ?

Judge:  Anyway, the reason the alternative energy thing hasn’t been solved is because it’s a hard problem.  And I’m thinking Guantanamo might be a hard problem too.  Taking up arms against people in Afghanistan is not a violation of any US law that I’m aware of (although doing so without a uniform and outside of any recognized chain of command is a violation of the Geneva Conventions and other laws of war).  And released, many of these men have returned to the battlefield, either in Afghanistan/Pakistan or in Iraq.

How about we revisit this issue when the President has actually done it instead of just talked about it?

DOW:  But that’s not fair!  We want to throw a party now!

Judge:  Didn’t you just have a party?

DOW:  Yes, but..  Hey, we could still throw a party because He ended torture.

Judge:  Around the world?

DOW:  No silly, he stopped our American baby-kille… oops, I mean our proud American men and women in the armed forces and CIA from torturing, which I’m sure they didn’t want to do anyway, they were just being controlled by the evil Dr. Cheney.

Judge:  You mean former Vice-President Cheney?

DOW:  Yes, he was evil and should be proscuted for torturing people too.

Judge:  Evil?  Really?

DOW:  uh-huh.  He shot his friend and he once curdled milk just by looking at it.

Judge:  And Obama’s new policy is better how?

DOW:  He’s outlawed torture and stopped any harsh treatment of prisoners.

Judge:  Any?  All the time?

DOW:  Well he has allowed for some harsh treatment in some cases where really bad guys have been caught.

Judge:  And this differs from the Bush administration how?

DOW:  He was torturing everybody, all the time!  He was teh 3V1l!

Judge:  Please, no leet-speak in my courtroom.

DOW:  S0rr4.

Judge:  Obama’s new policy is no different from Bush’s old policy.  Well, it’s slightly different.  He will allow the use of harsh treatment on high-value detainees with important information in the war on terror.  Bush allowed the same, and the CIA, under Bush’s administration, waterboarded..

DOW:  GASP!

Judge:  Oh, pipe down.  ..waterboarded all of 5 people.  All very high-value detainees with important information in the war on terror.  Obama’s policy is no different than Bush’s excepting maybe that Bush allowed ink to be spread on some lower level guys.  Ink is not a human rights violation.

DOW:  But they tricked them!  They thought it was blood!  Menstrual Blood!

Judge:  These men sawed the heads off of people, they are not afraid of a little blood.  And trickery is also not a human rights violation.

DOW:  But Bush WARTERBOARDED!

Judge:  Yes, and Obama has said he will too if it’s needed.

DOW:  But, Obama will use this power wisely, unlike Bush.

Judge:  Now you’re being silly.  Look, President Obama just restated Bush’s policies that were already in place.  So, my ruling is as follows:  No, you cannot arrest Bush.  And you cannot throw Obama a party for stopping torture, since by any definition, he hasn’t done that.  If Bush was “torturing”, than Obama will be too, and if Bush wasn’t, than there was nothing to stop.  You also cannot throw a party for Obama for closing Gitmo because he hasn’t done that either, although we can revisit that next year (and the year after that most likely).

However, you can throw a party for President Obama when he goes through his first term without a terrorist attack on US soil.  That is, if you have already thrown such a party for Bush.

The court it closed.

Bailiff:  All rise.  You heard the Judge people, everybody out!