Monday, December 29, 2008

Oprah's Gullibility

Ann Althouse has comments on the story of the Holocaust survivors who invented their story of meeting in Buchenwald and then marrying after. Apparently they've been on Oprah a couple of times and she was taken in by their story much in the same way she was taken in by James Frey.

I'm willing to cut Oprah a little slack here. These folks had a publishing deal and Oprah would have a reasonable expectation that the people with a financial and credibility stake in the story would have done the necessary legwork to verify it.

Worst Article Of 2008

One Peter Coy has an article of the worst predictions of 2008. Some are spot-on, but there are others that miss the mark by a wide margin. To wit:

"I think this is a case where Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are fundamentally sound. They're not in danger of going under I think they are in good shape going forward." -- Barney Frank (D-Mass.), House Financial Services Committee chairman, July 14, 2008

Two months later, the government forced the mortgage giants into conservatorships and pledged to invest up to $100 billion in each.

Exactly right, and surprising to see Frank finally being held accountable in the media.

"The market is in the process of correcting itself." -- President George W. Bush, in a Mar. 14, 2008 speech

For the rest of the year, the market kept correcting and correcting and correcting. Bush was right?

"I think you'll see (oil prices at) $150 a barrel by the end of the year" -- T. Boone Pickens, June 20, 2008

Oil was then around $135 a barrel. By late December it was below $40.

Not mentioned is that crude oil prices did nearly reach $150/barrel, but much quicker than Pickens suggested, only to fall off quickly thereafter.

A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win, the title of a book by conservative commentator Shelby Steele, published on Dec. 4, 2007.

Mr. Steele, meet President-elect Barack Obama.

Of course, Steele's book concerns more than just Obama's ability to get elected. It, in large part, deals with the difficulties Obama faces in carrying out his agenda. I wouldn't argue whether Steele is right or wrong, although some of those difficulties are already showing through before Obama has even taken office. If Coy had done anything more than read the title, he would know that.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas Gift For The One

Will Obama's stimulus work fast enough?

That was the headline that greeted me this morning. First we should ask, of course, if Obama's stimulus will work at all. In the objective news media.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

In Case Anyone Forgot

Happy Festivus. Now go see if you can pin your old man...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sanitary Greetings

Is anyone else tiring of the increasingly bland seasonal wishes being shared?

"Happy holidays, if you in fact recognize any sort of holiday at this time. May you enjoy this time, if you choose to do so, and perform whatever activity it is you plan (or lack of activity) with the person or persons, if any at all, with whom you choose to associate. May this all bring you your desired degree of emotional satisfaction. This is our sincere wish for you."

Uh, what happened to "Merry Christmas?"

Also, the pre-printed photo cards with absolutely nothing personal or hand-written on them. The point is...? I literally received equally thoughtful and personal holiday greetings from my Walgreen's Pharmacy staff as I did from actual relatives.

Just a Little Long

OK, yes I set the record for lengthy posts below, but at least I vented.

I'm tempted to post the crazy -- uh, "woman's" -- license and home address info all over the place since I of course have it (was that really wise of the police officer to give those to me?), but that would just be wrong.

Holiday Cheer

Ah, winter in Chicago.... the air is crisp, the scenery gently sugar-coated, and people around the city are losing their minds.

This weekend I saw a guy stuck in a parking space spinning his wheels at easily 40-50 mph. Smoke coming out, the whole deal. I offered to help push, but he cheerfully declined because he felt he had "got it!" OK. Harmless, though.

Couple of blocks later, I see two young couples fighting over a parking space. Men and women, joining together in the Spirit of the Season, to square off over a place to leave their vehicles. Never mind that there were three empty spots maybe a quarter of a block away. It was all about that one.

But one lovely lady tops them all. Heading north on Damen after exiting the Kennedy is always an exercise in patience, due to the extremely awkward triangle of intersections between Damen, Fullerton, and Elston. They seriously should have just made that a 6-way intersection instead of the tightly-grouped trio of crossings that exist today. But they didn't, so what happens today is that you cross Fullerton, then have room for 1-2 cars before the NEXT traffic light to cross Elston.

After inching forward through 3 light changes to get to the front, I saw that though my light was still green to cross Fullerton, the light at Elston some 30 feet ahead had changed to red, and I had zero chance of clearing the intersection (you know... as required by law before choosing to enter it). So I stopped. Everyone behind me stopped, and honked their horns in celebratory manner. The light changed to yellow, then red, within seconds.
Yes, aggravating, but I have a serious pet peeve about these morons who feel that they are entitled to park in the intersection simply because they saw the green light at some point that day. "Screw cross traffic!"
Well, everyone but the woman directly behind me either realized that the extra 10 feet of progress wouldn't really get them anywhere and would actually screw everyone east-west bound, or just gave up. All horns quieted except hers, and then a few seconds later she decided to DELIBERATELY RAM MY CAR. Yes, my 6-month-old somewhat expensive car.
Exercising control that seriously surprised me, I calmly put my car in park and exited the vehicle to go inquire as to her intent. She wanted to know if I realized how long she had been waiting to get through that light. I explained very politely that I did, since I had been directly in front of her the whole time, and had therefore waited just as long. I explained the law about intersections, and the reason for it. I saw she had kids in the car (!!!) and didn't want to scare them, so I maintained an even tone.
Ironic twist here: As we were having our little debate at the red light, an ambulance needed to cross through that exact intersection. AHEM.
I went on to explain that all she did was delay herself further, since I now needed her insurance information. She went into hysterics, and began screaming goodness-knows-what. Her kids start screaming and crying, and she tells me she's not giving me any info. I ask her once more, still politely, and tell her it's illegal for her to leave. She rants on, and starts to try to maneuver around my car.

So, yes... I took a camera phone photo of her license plate, and called 911. The 911 tapes actually have some lovely audio of her following me (after the light changed), and screaming through my window while I was on the hands-free with 911 that she "didn't do anything" before she took off, running a red light in the process. I went to the nearest police station and filled out a report. She will apparently receive a contact from her local law enforcement official and a court date.

...And to all, a good night.


How do I know the end of days is upon us? Rioting "youths" in European city streets? War and pestilence? Disease and famine? Locusts? NO!

Cedric Benson, 38 rushes for 171 yards.

El Gordo

No, that's not what I plan on renaming myself after multiple holiday feasts. That's the name of the annual Christmas lottery in Spain. I'm guessing the chances of ever having a lottery in the US named "The Fat One" are pretty slim (pun intended); too politically incorrect.

In other exciting news, the temperature has gone up to -1.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Nice juxtaposition

I didn't read either story, but I'm betting there is a correlation between these two headlines:

N.Y. governor proposes tax on soda, gas and downloaded music

Poll: Americans grow more worried about the country's direction

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Infecting The Host

Obama names Chicago school chief to Education Dept.

Yes, because nothing says "success" like the Chicago Public School system.

Monday, December 15, 2008

On The Other Foot

Doubtless, you've heard about this by now, and probably seen the video, too.
The hurling of shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush on his farewell visit to Iraq strikes many in the Middle East as a fittingly furious comment on what they see as his calamitous legacy in the region.

Arab and Iranian TV stations have gleefully replayed the clip, sometimes in slow motion, of an Iraqi reporter calling Bush a "dog" and throwing his shoes at him -- the Middle East's tastiest insults -- at a Baghdad news conference on Sunday.
First of all, whatever it may mean in the Middle East, here in the US it's just... you know... throwing shoes. As for calling him a "dog," I think some kids these days actually see that as a compliment. If you're really looking for a 'zinger,' find one that at least translates.

Secondly, POTUS has got some moves. He's the only one who reacted (ahem -- Secret Service, we're sort of wondering about you here. The guy had time to reload and throw another one!), and deftly dodged the missile. He handled the whole thing with composure and calm, and even managed to joke about it ("I don't know what the guy said, but I saw his sole").

Thirdly, I'd like to point out that 8 years ago, this guy would have been taken out back and shot...if he was lucky. Probably his whole family or neighborhood, too. I'm not saying things are rosy over there, but the fact remains that any time people are given new freedoms, you're bound to have those who can't wait for the opportunity to throw them back in your face. Whatever was meant by this guy's actions, the fact that he was able and even dared to carry them out speaks volumes.

Perhaps more than the actions themselves.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Check out this presser from today. You can skip to about 15:00 into the video for the good stuff.

Some highlights:

Obama fielding the question from CBS Mike Flannery - What is wrong with IL politics? This is amusing because he has to answer this while pretending that he isn't a product of this most corrupt system. Bonus: He appears amused with the idea of our Governors being in prison. This seems typical of anyone familiar with IL politics - it isn't outrageous that our politicians are dirty, but it is amusing when they get caught.

Skipping to about 16:55, where Obama describes how, "in Illinois, as is true in American politics", there are two views of politics: Public service vs. "what’s in it for me"? The kicker is right around 18:00 when he complains that IL politics is a culture of “self-aggrandizement”. Can we get a definition check here, Bob?


self·-aggrandizement (-ə gran′diz mənt)

the act of making oneself more powerful, wealthy, etc., esp. in a ruthless way

I wonder if that includes having all of your opponents kicked off the ballot? That was pretty ruthless. At 19:30, Obama piles on this gem: "You can get elected by playing it straight. You can get elected by doing the right thing." The right thing being, apparently, whatever it takes to win.

Question: Does Obama really think that he was above ANY of these things while he was serving the great state of Illinois?

Follow-up: Blago seems like he is off his rocker, and has been for some time now. Shouldn't he be on suicide-watch or something? Not really joking...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Here I was, all set to write about my Fantasy Football victory, and then this little piece of news happens:

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich taken into federal custody

Gov. Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris were arrested at their homes this morning in a probe involving the governor’s quest to fill Sen. Barack Obama’s open Senate seat and focusing on wire fraud and bribery charges blah blah blah...
Let's highlight the good stuff, like the Blagos' potty-mouth:

Rod Blagojevich said that the consultants are telling him that he has to "suck it up" for two years and do nothing and give this "motherf***er [Obama] his senator. F*** him. For nothing? F*** him." Rod Blagojevich states that he will put "[Senate Candidate 4]" in the Senate "before I just give F***ing [Senate Candidate 1] a F***ing Senate seat and I don't get anything."
Whoa, Blaggy - easy tiger! Do you kiss your wife with that mouth? Apparently he does:
During the call, Rod Blagojevich's wife can be heard in the background telling Rod Blagojevich to tell Deputy Governor A "to hold up that f***ing Cubs s***. . . f*** them."
Stay classy, Illinois.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Right On

I don't get it.
With a long list of tasks ahead of him, Obama needs liberals to stand by him as he deals with a faltering economy, home foreclosures, an auto bailout and two wars, [Obama deputy campaign manager Steve] Hildebrand wrote Sunday on Huffington Post.

"The problems I mentioned above and the many I didn't, suggest that our president surround himself with the most qualified people to address these challenges.
Isn't that a tacit admission that liberal policies are unwise during troubled times? And if those policies won't get you to better times, why on earth would you want to implement them once times do get better?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Finally - the mystery of the Grant Park Milk Puddles is solved

Chris Matthews might want to print this off and take it with him to his next doctor visit.

And For Good Reason, Too

61% of Americans Oppose Auto Bailout
"A full 70% of respondents indicated that a bailout is unfair to taxpayers."

That's because it is. These are not the principles upon which this economy is built. Applying socialist policies to a supposedly free market enterprise is doomed to fail. I'm all for a robust automobile industry in the US, as well as the jobs that would go along with it. But it has to be real - meaning competitive in quality, features, and price.

The best thing for America is not to "Buy American" simply because something was made here... the best thing for America is to have America build the best products. Then everyone will be buying American (except the Japanese, of course).

Similarly, the best thing for the American auto industry is not to throw (other people's) money at it and artificially make it look successful. The auto makers need to compete better, with more efficient labor, higher quality, competitive performance and pricing, and less annoying advertisements.

Sticky Pendulum

Not just another great band name... apparently a very real problem in Minnesota, too.
Senate recount: Pendulum swings to Franken
Sure sounds like a definite change in the race, doesn't it?
Franken unexpectedly picked up 37 votes...
Hmm... 37... so now he's in the lead?
By the end of Tuesday, with 93 percent of the total vote recounted, the Republican's [EDITOR'S NOTE: Franken is NOT the Republican] lead stood at 303 votes...
I see. So it's a moral victory? Not exactly what the headline implied...

Now the Minnesota "Independent" tells us that Franken is claiming the actual lead. You know, like mathematically this time.

Does that mean the pendulum broke?


How will you be celebrating B.O.D.?

MARION, Ala. (AP) — A small central Alabama county whose mainly black residents gave Barack Obama more than 70 percent of the vote on Election Day has created an annual holiday in honor of the president-elect.

The Perry County Commission voted 4 to 1 to observe the second Monday in November as "The Barack Obama Day." County offices will close and its roughly 40 workers will get a paid holiday.

The sponsoring commissioner, Albert Turner Jr., said the holiday is meant to highlight the Democratic president-elect's victory as a way to give people faith that difficult goals can be achieved.
And the "Look what I did, Dad!" moment comes a few paragraphs down:
Turner said copies of the resolution, adopted at a Nov. 25 meeting, have been mailed to Obama and his transition team.
I think someone deserves a pat on the head!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I Could See This Backfiring

Chicago Leases Parking Meters
Chicago on Tuesday said it agreed to lease its parking meter system to a fund managed by Morgan Stanley in a 75-year, $1.16 billion deal...

Proceeds from parking tickets will still go into city coffers.

So you've got one party collecting the meter fees, but with no incentive to write tickets for expired meters. The other party now has more incentive than ever to write tickets... so a likely scenario coule be... we're going to need hordes of Voracious Meter Maids* trolling the streets looking for one-minute-past-due meters.

We may even end up offsetting any savings by having to hire more unionized, neon-yellow-clad fitness buffs to walk around scowling and sticking permanent adhesive on windshields, side mirrors, and windows.

*Note to Stoj: Apologies for infringing on the name of your high school punk band.

Chicks Dig 'Em

Big push lately to socialize the US auto industry, and I, for one, am for it.

Is it because I cherish the thought of my tax dollars being handed over to wealthy people with a proven track record of mismanaging such funds? No...

I just can't wait for a whole new line of sexy, high-quality automobiles. A possible preview of the 2010 Auto Show:

"Why, yes... that does come in faded drab."

Monday, December 1, 2008

Good News/Bad News

Panel says U.S. has been in a recession since Dec. 2007

Sorry, that was the good news. Good because it means we're already a year into this thing. That means we'll be coming out of it all the sooner, right?

Probably not. See, the "panel" in question, the National Bureau Of Economic Research, has their own definition of recession, and it flies in the face of any traditional definition of the word (except for Paul Krugman, whose sky is falling weekly when there is a Republican president).

See, according to the NBER, a recession begins when we reached an economic peak. That means that, although things were seemingly chugging along nicely around Christmas last year, we were actually in recession because of the downturn that occurred after. I know, it makes no sense to me either because it requires Nostradamus-like foresight to have any predictive capability. How does one know when we've reached a productivity peak except in hindsight?