Friday, July 31, 2009


The 1980s were called the Decade of Greed. People unapologetically made money. Well, at least some people did. Because of that, the usual gang of idiots who hate anything that is successful, and who hated the fact that Ronald Reagan was president, called any kind of profit, "greed". I'm betting that it's these same idiots who blame the current economic meltdown on corporate "greed", Wall Street "greed", but never on government greed. They are encouraged by the Obamarrhoids in government and the MSM. They don't want us looking too closely at the escapades of Obama, Chris Dodd, or Barney Frank and their contributions to the mess.

One of the ways the Obama/Democrat government is "helping" the consumer, while also continuing to murder the American auto industry, is the Cash for Clunkers program. You want to sell your aging gas guzzler in order to buy a government approved gas-sipping compact? That's great. The government will give you $3500-$4500 for trading in the old pile of crap. It doesn't matter that it's only worth $900.00. The government pulled out some arbitrary numbers and decided that, once again the free market doesn't matter, they know better, and they will make you want to buy a small car. (Kinda makes you wonder how the private health insurance industry, which has to engage in the evil practice of making a profit, is expected to compete against government insurance programs that don't have to make a profit and can cover any losses by taxing you-know-who).

The program (at least in Michigan) is so popular, that the government has had to inject more taxpayer dollars in order to meet the new obligations.

But with all of the huffing and puffing about various types of criminal greed from people of a certain political persuasion, aren't these same people encouraging greed? Isn't the government making greed profitable? The owner of the $900.00 clunker now expects thousands for his gas-guzzling rust bucket. That's unearned money, which by government math, has been suddenly renamed as an entitlement. If that's not government-encouraged greed, I don't know what is.


Monday, July 27, 2009

A Dash of Sense from Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom makes a great point on Obama's ridiculous health care plan.
In explaining why it was OK to sock a new 5.4% tax on the highest earners in this country — to pay for health care reform — President Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said this:

“The president believes that the richest 1% of this country has had a pretty good run of it for many, many, many years.”

Ah. So that’s it. The old “You’ve had it good enough for long enough” policy. That’s why a family earning a million dollars a year should now cough up $54,000 of that — in addition to all the other taxes it pays — to cover health care for people who may not pay a penny of new tax themselves.
Presumably, then — unless he’s suggesting they’re all crooks — when Gibbs says “a pretty good run of it” he means in taxes. Hmm. Let’s see. Those high income earners currently shell out around 35% in income taxes, the highest rate, plus state income taxes, local income taxes, property and other taxes that likely chew up between 45% and 50% of their money. If Obama’s tax-related plans all go through, it could, for some, approach 60%.

How is that a “pretty good run”? It’s clearly a bigger chunk than poor people pay. In fact, those evil one-percenters pay about 40% of all income tax in this country.
On the other hand, would you tell people who pay no taxes that they’ve had a pretty good run? Would you say it to people who never really look for work, who don’t bother in school, who look for ways to live off the state?

Yet all such people, under Obama’s plan, will get health care — paid for by those lousy, conniving rich people. And please, let’s not imagine that all poor people are noble single mothers with two jobs, three kids, good credit and an ailing mother. Unless you’re naive enough to believe that all wealthy Americans are greedy pigs.

You don’t get a country behind you by pointing fingers. And you don’t inspire effort and ingenuity by always milking the rich. Suggesting that if Americans do too well they’ll be resented is not how this country became a prosperous nation. After all, the dream of being rich is often being dreamed by the poor.
I've reprinted about half of his piece, but you should go and read the entire thing. He's right on.

I would like to add one thought. Throughout history, tyrants, despots, and "heroes of The People" like Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, etc., have convinced "The People" that they could be wealthy and free from worry if they, "The People" got together to battle the evil (are there any other kind?) rich and redistribute their ill-gotten gains amongst those who really deserved it, you know, the ones who didn't earn it, but want it anyway. If we examine those man-made utopias, it becomes pretty clear, that everybody suffers. The rich are rich no more . . . well except for Lenin, Mao, Castro, etc., and their cronies, and the rest of "The People" are all joined together in common misery looking for the next scapegoat to pin their troubles on.

And then there's the fact that there are never enough of the rich to cover all of the economy busting programs these heroes of "The People" have in mind.

Hope and change, indeed.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

A Tale of Two Cities

Finally, after years of promising, I took my kids into the depths (and I do mean depths) of Detroit to visit The Heidelberg Project. Driving the 20 or so minutes south through Detroit to get there, we passed many of the common sights of today's Detroit; abandoned buildings which had been homes and businesses, and empty lots . . . which had been homes and businesses. Driving through some parts of Detroit, it looks like the Apocalypse has already passed through these neighborhoods and moved on to more promising cities. Vast stretches of Detroit are on their way to becoming the plains and forests that made up Michigan before the entrance of European settlers. There's even been serious talk of opening up some of these empty spaces to farming.

Maybe that's what Detroit needs, a chance to start over. People have been abandoning this city since the legendary '67 riots, and not just any people, people that this city needs in order to thrive, people who have what it takes to run a city. When one looks at whose been running the city for the past 40 years, it's painfully obvious that there has been a serious brain drain.

But not everyone in Detroit is wallowing in despair. Even though the Heidelberg Project is in one of the most desperate parts of Detroit, artist Tyree Guyton has been fighting back for the last 20 years with art. He's been collecting junk from around the city and using it to "decorate" the local abandoned houses and vacant lots. He's had help (and harassment) from the neighbors, but people come from all over the world to visit. During Coleman Young's administration, he had to battle the city, and two of his houses were torn down. Visiting this time, I had to reconcile feelings of disgust that a once proud, vibrant city has been allowed to turn into a ghost town, with feelings of hope that maybe, if people were allowed to reclaim the city, as Guyton has reclaimed Heidelberg Street, Detroit really could live again. It's happened in other places. Soho, in New York City, used to be a slum until artists began moving in to rebuild. Now it's so trendy, the artists have been relocated. They can't afford the rent anymore.

Not all of Detroit is a slum. There are neighborhoods filled with the same kind of houses you find in Bloomfield Hills. Some of them are architectural treasures. Of course, they are a lot cheaper.

Twenty minutes north of my house is the wealthy suburb of Bloomfield Hills. If I'm not mistaken, it's the wealthiest city in Michigan. My daughter took a three week photography class at Cranbrook Academy of Art, an educational summer program located in the Cranbrook Academy of Art Museum, which along with the Cranbrook Museum of Science, is nestled in the rolling hills of the Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills. I only mention all of this to give you a better picture of the incredible resources housed on this campus. There is also a lot of open space on the Cranbrook Campus and in Bloomfield Hills. But none of it due to abandonment. The open spaces of Cranbrook are there for the enjoyment of the students whose parents can afford the tuition. Some of the million dollar homes surrounding the Cranbrook School, in Bloomfield Hills are on large lots. They are on large lots because the home owners can afford to buy large lots - and remake them in the way that is aesthetically pleasing to them.

At Cranbrook, the kids in the various art programs used the latest and greatest, most modern equipment available to create their art. They had nice cameras, computers, sculpting, drawing, and painting materials, comfortable studios, and a huge campus to wander in order to find inspiration and refuge. There was a show at the end of the session of the students' art. Some of it was fascinating. There was talent in that group of kids. And not all of them were rich. Take my daughter, for example. If not for the scholarship she received, she would not have been able to attend.

Of course, the art of Cranbrook has quite a different feel from the art of Heidelberg. I don't know if these kids could do that kind of art. Their lives are too different from that environment. My daughter appreciated it though. While we were down there, she took lots of photos. I'm not reprinting them, as there is a sign on Heidelberg Street asking that you respect the project by not putting out your own photos. There are the official photos on the website and in various publications. He's worked hard. I respect that. There are other people willing to help "bring back" Detroit. I'd like to see the ineffectual and corrupt government of Detroit get out of the way and let people rebuild. It may never be as wealthy as Bloomfield, but at least it would have a chance of becoming a city that people are once again proud to call home.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Is Honesty the Best Policy?

Here is an unfortunate example of political correctness provided by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

I understand (sort of) putting a happy face on when describing something horrible. But there are limits. We are dealing with adults here. In order to prevent disease, isn't honesty, even if it is painful and unfair, mandatory? How happy a face can you put on a person dying a slow painful death?
Since HIV/AIDS in MSM was first diagnosed 1981, gay and bisexual men have been leaders in dealing with the challenges of the epidemic. Gay organizations and activists, through their work, have contributed greatly to many of the guidelines for prevention, treatment, and the care of people living with HIV/AIDS.
There is a reason for that, isn't there?
For complex reasons, HIV/AIDS continues to take a high toll on the MSM population.
No, the reasons are not complex at all. AIDS is spread by men . . . oops, I mean people, (no sexual profiling here) . . . getting buggered by strangers. Or should I say, that's how it was originally spread, for as we are told,
MSM made up more than two thirds (68%) of all men living with HIV in 2005, even though only about 5% to 7% of men in the United States reported having sex with other men.
Now that it's worked its way into other subgroups, there are other ways for HIV/AIDS to spread. However, AIDS still strikes mostly at gay men for the simple reason that buggery leads to greater internal damage than other forms of sex and so lets the HIV/AIDS virus into the body. Some parts of our bodies are built for sex. Others aren't and so may be damaged when things that shouldn't be inserted, are inserted. That's not very complex.

I'm not trying to demonize anyone here. A long time ago, when AIDS first hit, I had some acquaintances who died from it. They used to come into the bar where I worked. Yes, they were gay men. I don't know how promiscuous they were, I never asked.

One day, one of our waiters came in and complained that he was so tired that he wasn't sure he could make it through the night. He'd spent the day scoring with four other men. The rest of us, gay and straight, had a good laugh at his predicament, and that was the joke of the night. Looking back though, I wonder if he lived out the 1980's. We could probably put a politically correct happy face on his episode (although I'm sure he had a happy face until he had to come into work) and . . . and . . . well, I'm sure somebody could.

There was a lot we didn't know then. One thing I know now, is that, some men still engage in that kind of behavior. Some don't. I've known gay men who have been in long term monogamous relationships.

Rather than put a happy face on AIDS deaths, shouldn't we tell the truth in a straight and forceful manner to let these young fools know that they are living dangerously? Personally, I have very little sympathy for people who want to play, but think they can avoid the consequences. It won't get everyone, but it will get some. The least we can do is help by being honest.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

New Idea or Total Lunacy?

I hate to generalize about groups of people, because there are usually so many exceptions to any generalization, that you end up sounding ridiculous. But I'm going to do it anyways. After all, this would not be the first time I've ended up sounding ridiculous.

Here is my generalization: Secular liberal Jews have created an alternate reality in the Middle East. They've done it in order to bolster their obsessive desire for peace without pain, personal security without having to work for it, the rainbow without the rain. They truly believe that if they appease the monster enough, the monster will leave them alone, and they won't have to fight back. The fact that 78% of American Jewish voters voted for Obama demonstrates that either they weren't really listening during the campaign or that they allowed the wish for peace in the Middle East at any price cloud to their judgment by denying reality and creating the hallucination of their non-Republican candidate Obama supporting Israeli and Jewish claims to the land. In this fantasy world, the Middle East is populated with long suffering, peace-loving Palestinians whose claim to Jerusalem and Israel is equal to that of Israeli Jews. They believe the lunatic idea that there are competing Jewish and Muslim narratives that have equal validity. The problem that they have defined in this dream world construct is that extremists on both sides refuse to allow the people to share the land and live in peace. I haven't read of any fairies, elves, or unicorns also sharing the land, but there might as well be.

Facts are not allowed to intrude. I think there are mental road blocks, check points, and even a security barrier to keep them out. The Hamas and P.A. charters are forbidden to be mentioned. History is either changed, whitewashed, or ignored. Nobody is allowed to point out that interest in Jerusalem only rose in the Muslim world when it was proposed as Israel's capital. Before that, it was a neglected backwater of the Ottoman Empire; it meant nothing to any Muslim government or religious leader. Muslims have treated Jerusalem like the two year old little brother or sister who isn't interested in the toy you want them to play with until the older sibling expresses interest in it. Then it becomes the most important object in the room and the two year old will throw a fit until it's theirs.

I was sent the link to this article in Tikkun, a very liberal/progressive Jewish magazine. I would go so far as to state that they are stupidly progressive, as their world, based on "social justice" and other such wishful thinking that is as impossible in this world as Obama supporting Western civilization over the barbarians at and inside our gates. The name "Tikkun" is based on the Jewish concept of "tikkun olam" - repair of the world. As Dennis Prager once explained, the Reform liberal/progressive notion of "tikkun olam" leaves out God, as the complete phrase is, "tikkun olam b'malchut shaddai" - repair of the world under God's sovereignty. Remember God? Not all progressives do. They're much too enlightened.

Some of these progressives are so smart that they can come up with ideas like this one:
The two-state condominial arrangement starts out with the creation of a democratic Palestinian state (composed of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem) much like that suggested in other two-state proposals with the boundaries of the Palestinian state roughly determined by the pre-1967 Green Line. The Palestinian state ("Palestine") would have most of the features of a democratic nation-state, but from the outset it would be an ethnically defined state, a state of the Palestinian people, whereby a close parallel was maintained to the definition of Israel as a state of the Jews. As part of the fundamental agreement, all current Israeli Arabs would be required to transfer their citizenship, national identity, and national voting rights-but not their residence-to the new Palestinian state. Israeli Arabs would retain their permanent right to live in Israel and they would also retain their current benefits under the Jewish welfare state (or be adequately compensated for the loss of them by another arrangement, such as a lump sum payment), but they would become citizens of-and permanent voting members of-the Palestinian state, not Israel.

Both Palestinians and Jews under the condominial proposal would be granted the right to settle anywhere within the territory of either state. Together the two states would thus form a single, binational settlement community. Palestinians would have the right to settle anywhere within Israel, just as Jews would have the right to settle anywhere within the territory of the Palestinian state. Regardless of which of the two states they live in, all Palestinians would be citizens of the Palestinian state, and all Jews would be citizens of Israel.

The states themselves, Israel and Palestine, would have the right-and, indeed, the moral obligation-to set up a dense network of support facilities to care for the economic, cultural, religious, and welfare needs of any citizens living in the territory of the neighboring state. Each state, in other words, would have extensive extra-territorial rights and obligations vis-à-vis its citizens in the neighboring state.
That's only a small portion of the entire thing. I read about half of it, skimmed another quarter, and glanced at the rest. As with all progressive ideas for a "two state solution" or some other sort of shared arrangement, this one ignores two important aspects of the current unpleasant reality of the Middle East.

Remember the Palestinians? Both the Hamas and the (allegedly moderate) Palestinian Authority's charters call for the destruction of Israel. Maybe I'm naive, but to me, that seems like a huge roadblock to peace, even greater than the building of housing for Jews in Jerusalem and "settlements" in the West Bank. Not to mention the fact that Palestinian children are taught in school, on TV, and in mosques to hate Jews.

The second huge problem is the history of Islam. Looking back at the past 1400 years of their bloody, genocidal history, when and where have Muslims ever shared any land with any different religion? They're not allowed to. As it is said many times, in many variations in Islamic scripture,
"So fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief [non-Muslims]) and all submit to the religion of Allah alone (in the whole world)."
And yes, not all Muslims follow the decrees to murder the unbeliever, but if we look at the demographics of the Islamic world, it's obvious to anyone (even though the more progressive among us will not admit it) Muslims do not share, have never shared, will never share. It is also sickeningly clear that religious minorities do not thrive under Sharia law. In fact they dwindle away until they are gone altogether. How many genocides, world wide, have been perpetrated in the name of Islam? We're not allowed to ask; it's an islamophobic question.

I suppose that is the biggest fault with this idiotic plan, the false assumption that Muslims are willing to live in peace with and as equals with Jews.

The person who sent me the article should know better, but when even Alan Dershowitz, a staunch, unapologetic supporter of Israel is fooled into voting for and supporting Obama (and boy does Melanie Phillips have his number on that descent into madness) I really have to wonder what has happened to a people who, for hundreds of years have been both praised and denounced for alleged mental prowess.

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Arab American Festival 2009 - Dearborn Michigan

I kind of wanted to go, but I didn't. These brave people did and brought back some interesting souvenir videos. Watch and learn.

Hat tip: The Return of Scipio

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Busy Times

I really thought I'd have lots of free time this summer so I could do a lot of blog posts. But my advertising blitz paid off big time, and I'm spending most of my days tutoring.

That is not a complaint, merely an explanation. After all I get paid for tutoring, not as much as some tutors, but it's still a few extra dollars. It's nice when after my wife pays the bills, I don't hear, "Try not to spend any money. We've only got $----.-- left in checking and it's got to last for the next two weeks."

I'm currently working on two blog posts, because I still need to rant occasionally, so they will be up at some point. And remind me to tell you about our trip to Heidelberg Street.

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Sunday, July 05, 2009

Things I had to Respond to

There were a few articles in today's Free Press that commanded my attention. Usually it's the ridiculous that draws me in and makes the bile rise, but there were some good things too.

First the dumb stuff:

Why is Congress still out to apologize for slavery?
Lawmakers are learning the hard way that trying to apologize for historic injustices isn't as easy as saying sorry.

Two weeks ago, the Senate passed a resolution calling on the country to apologize formally for more than three centuries of enslavement and segregation of African Americans. Senators thought they had done the right thing.

The feel-good moment was short-lived, however, after several members of the Congressional Black Caucus vowed to fight the measure when it reached the House of Representatives.

They object because it contains a disclaimer saying that the resolution can't be used to support legal claims against the United States by those seeking reparations or cash compensation for the suffering endured by black people.
No apology will ever be enough for some. They will always demand more. We know that. The smartest course in this case is to give them nothing. Encourage them to shut up already. At one time slavery was universal in human society. It was western civilization that fought to end it. The United States fought a war against slavery.
"It opens up a discussion, an opportunity for Americans to start a healing process,"
No it doesn't, it wastes time and energy. It creates demands for something that nobody living today is entitled to. I teach elementary school. Most of my students are black. Until they get to my class and I fill them in on the facts of the history of world-wide slavery, they think that slavery was a uniquely American institution. If our nation hasn't been healed yet, it's due to dopes who insist on continuing the focus on American slavery and its alleged continuing effect on Black Americans. If you read Thomas Sowell though, you can better understand that the current pathologies in the Black community have little to do with the legacy of slavery and everything to do with the breakdown of the family and the insistence on living a self-destructive culture. And why should I pay reparations? While blacks in the south were being used as slaves, my ancestors were being raped and murdered by Cossacks. Obviously, I never met these people, but still - can I have reparations? Since my ancestors suffered, don't I deserve them?

When it comes to political art, it always seems to me to be more politics than art. And the politics expressed are predictably on the left side of the aisle. If that's where your sympathies lie, you can introduce your article with sentences like,
Knit one, purl two. Fight the power.

Lisa Anne Auerbach knits charged political works stitched with slyly provocative slogans. They can be amusing, angry, quirky. One sweater says "My Jewish Grandma is Voting for Obama. Is Yours?" The back says "Chosen People Choose Obama." Another sweater says "When there's nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire." Her "Body Count Mittens" are adorned with casualty figures from Iraq.
Oy vey, another liberal Jew, who, if she were as politically astute as she thinks she is, would never have voted for or supported Obama. And since Obama is the president, what power is she fighting?

For a much better understanding of Obama, Jews, and Israel, read this important piece by Melanie Phillips. (I found it at American Digest.) She gets it. I thought Dershowitz did. It's sad how politics can blind one to reality.

Here is an interesting letter to the Free Press clearly and simply demonstrating the unbreakable (especially when it comes to political solutions) Law of Unintended Consequences:
News of the cash-for-clunkers program is greatly distressing. I am a low-income, single mother with two teenage daughters. One is 17 and is saving up for her first vehicle. She will not be permitted to get her license until she can afford the car. The other is 15 and chomping at the bit already, eager for the independence she will achieve with her own ride.

More than once I have purchased what is being called a "clunker" because it is in the price range I can afford -- both the purchase price and the insurance costs without collision coverage. Several times I have purchased cars whose owners have told me they were asking the price because it was what they could get on a trade-in. What am I to do now that the incentive will be $4,500 for a trade-in on a car that may have been traded in for $1,000 in the past? I can't afford $4,500 for a vehicle.

What you might consider a clunker, I consider affordable transportation.
How many millions of other working poor will be financially slammed by our current one party ruling bodies?

Finally, here is a test. How much do you know about the founding principles of our nation? Just for the record, I scored 8 out of 10.

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

And It's Only Going to Get Worse

From Mallard Fillmore,

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