We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The Dems do have two excellent candidates who are substantial, savvy, accomplished, and ready for prime time: Joe Biden and Chris Dodd - Dodd being perhaps the more impressive of the two. If primary voters take a look beyond the two celeb candidates (Clinton and Obama) they might find something to like.
When candidates were chosen by wise men in smoke-filled rooms, Biden and Dodd would have been on the top of the list and Clinton and Obama would have been viewed as arrogant, presumptuous lightweights and laughed out of the room and instructed to return when they have accomplished something.
Are voters so celeb-intoxicated these days that solid guys ("solid" as politicians go - even though I would not be voting for any of these) don't have a chance?
When Social Security was initiated by FDR as an effort to remove workers from the workforce to reduce politically-dangerous unemployment while virtuously cloaking it as "caring" for the old folks, politicians never publicly considered the long-term effect of that incentive.
Or did they?
Adding money to lower-, middle- and upper-class folks' retirement calculations helps incentivize them to quit being productive and to retire earlier while they are still able-bodied, paid for, as parasites, by a shrinking number of hard-working youngsters.
Politicians never think long-term (but, in the defence of those in the 1940s, folks in their 60s now are in far better shape that folks in their 60s then). Politicians think election, job, power, importance, ego, etc. But we know better: The Law of Incentive and the Law of Unintended Consequences are always in force. The Feds need an "Office of Consequences and Incentive" along with the "Office of the Budget."
Mankind is powerfully motivated by money, and that will never change. Money offers choices. Many have commented on Megan McArdle's fine piece on Social Security, but I will link this piece on her piece.
I believe Social Security should be income- and asset- balanced, but it will never happen. It's an entitlement now: another freebie on the backs of others.
Photo: Ida May Fuller, supposedly the first Social Security check recipient
Survived Thanksgiving with 23 relatives, and gave abundant thanks. Next comes Christmas Eve, my favorite night of the year. A delicious random photo from ye olde Maggie's Farm sideboard from Thanksgiving. Relatives brought their best stuff, but I bought a case of Jarhead Red.
We, and others, warned about this last winter: The Dems could be making the wrong bet on Iraq. Hillary was shrewd - but not wise - to muddle her statements and to say many different things to many different audiences.
KNIGHTS IN RED SATIN: "In my own opinion, the only really dangerous government is an efficient, effective one. The best judgment of a particular democracy is how well it keeps the busybodies occupied while the rest of us get on with running things."
How good John Howardleft Australia (big mistake to retire him, but I think they got tired of his face):
Unemployment rate: 4.3 per cent Interest rate: 6.75 per cent Economic growth: 4.3 per cent Stock market: 6650 points Australian dollar: US90 cents Surplus 2007 Budget: $10.6 billion Growth in real net national disposable income per head over the past five years: 16 per cent
Photo: I saw one of those over a river this weekend, looking exactly like that. That's an immature Bald Eagle.
Up to one billion songbirds may be killed during each migration - hitting glass.
Worst archbishop in history? Times Online. Commenter Tony G says:
If anyone wishes to understand why the Church of England has lost all relevance to society in the 21st century they need only examine the biased, sanctimonious, naive utterings of Williams. He should restrict himself from lecturing others on their behaviour until he has set an example of how to constructively face and overcome the many problems facing society in his diocese.
From a piece of the above title at Overcoming Bias (h/t, Flares for introducing me to that site), a quote:
"It seems to me that there's a substantial advantage in knowing the drop-dead basic fundamental embarrassingly simple mathematics in as many different subjects as you can manage. Not, necessarily, the high-falutin' complicated damn math that appears in the latest journal articles. Not unless you plan to become a professional in the field. But for people who can read calculus, and sometimes just plain algebra, the drop-dead basic mathematics of a field may not take that long to learn. And it's likely to change your outlook on life more than the math-free popularizations or the highly technical math."
33When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
35The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One."
36The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37and said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself."
38There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
39One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"
40But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? 41We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."
42Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."
43Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."
I'm going to put an excerpt from The Guardian on here in a second. The Guardian, for those of you that aren't Anglophiles, is sort of the British Isles' intellectual appendix. That is to say, it doesn't seem to serve any positive function; it collects detritus; is dangerous if it ruptures into the body politic; and even though its removal from your life seems to have no deleterious effect, you just leave it there and ignore it unless it gets inflamed.
Anyway, we read the The Guardian because we are dying to know whether Bush is Hitler, or Bush is Mussolini; and they are the only ones that cover that waterfront 24/7 to our satisfaction. Personally I lean towards Hitler, as old Musso's girlfriend Clara Petacci was a babe and I can't picture George with any babes eating anything bolognese. While we were seeking Bushitlerburton guidance at the Guardian, we came across this nugget. It's industrial strength stupid. I'm talking worthy of enshrinement on the Mount Rushmore of Moronic Observations. It is profoundly dumb, which is hard to do. There's really no point in reading the whole thing. You can if you want, but like many such things, you get the idea of everything that goes throught the mind of such a person from the snippet, which appears to be lonely and pointless trip, and now you can ignore everything else he ever says forevermore.
Man, I do. Our loyal readers are lucky that I got out of there alive. I was close to getting waterboarded, if not tied up and thrown into one of the several roaring fires in the fireplaces (they have four in the antique farmhouse).
All I did was to ask three entirely innocent and unprovocative questions in a mild-mannered, friendly fashion: 1. What if Iraq works out well? 2. Have you ever tried to find out where your "recycled" glass ends up? and 3. Who do you want to pay your medical bills for you? Apparently I am an "idiot," "greedy," "in denial" and a "blind Bush-lover."
There was no possibility of calm, rational discussion. My fault: I have a couple of glasses of wine and I open my big mouth. I gracefully retired from the field after being asked "Didn't you see Al Gore's movie? Didn't you see the hockey stick graph?"
It's almost enough to make a Conservative/Libertarian like me decide to register as a Republican. Every one of these folks is prosperous by statistics (top 1% income, but far higher in assets like investments, home, second houses and land), and expensively over-educated - and each one of them has an envious, brooding, toxic contempt for the presumptively "criminally wealthy." Why do they care about what others do? And why so ungrateful for their freedom to chose their own lives in their own way? Why so bitter?
I am the only one who isn't even in the top 25% income category (I am at about the US average, with no assets other than a modest IRA, a $31,000 savings account in a Vanguard bond fund, a half-paid off Ford F-150 at 0% interest, and a powerful server and router rescued from my friend's company's discards. My modest and comfy living quarters, with wood stove, are rented. I do not do debt, and I do not need stuff; I desire no wine cellar and I drink good beer happily at Rudy's Bar and Grill. Yes, I could use a sweetie wife, if I can find a serious keeper to whom to devote myself.)
I don't give a damn what other people do or make because I chose my own path in life: I do not covet other peoples' money nor would I ask or expect anyone to pay my bills. I believe that my freedom from government power is my wealth and my inheritance, purchased with the blood of my ancestors and of my fellow countrymen.
For that historically rare and remarkable blessing I am fortunate - and profoundly thankful every day - not just on Thanksgiving.
Lafayette - Democracy everywhere is a farce, in the sense that an individual voter's actions do not matter, and the system as a whole produces many decisions which are detrimental to almost all of its constituents. See the field of economics called "Public Choice Theory" (wikipedia) for a more detailed explanation.
He's a thoughtful guy with all sorts of interests. Going to our Blogroll so we don't forget to keep up with him.
I keep a pair of cheap Nikon 7X35 compact binocs in the car, just in case I happen to encounter an interesting bird. They work very well as opera glasses, too.
For marine use - not for birding but for looking around - I like a 7X50. Mine are inexpensive but good enough, and with the exposure to salt water and banging, I don't want to worry about them.
For more serious birding and nature-watching, I like my Minox rubber-coated 8X32s. Darn good lenses, and you don't want additional magnification for wildlife except in special circumstances.
The cool birders who want to spend the money use Swarovskis - but the very best birders I know can ID any bird with any old cheap compact binoculars, unless they are distant, on a beach or prairie. Then a spotting scope is essential.
Great source for binocs - Binoculars.com. They also have night-vision optics, spotting scopes, and rifle scopes.
“The 50-state ranking has a decided Red State-Blue State flavor: 28 of the 29 “most generous” states are Red States that voted for President Bush (including all 25 of the “most generous” states), while 17 of the 21 “least generous” states are Blue States that voted for Senator Kerry (including all 7 of the “least generous” states).” Combine the Tax Prof’s report with this one in the Washington Times, up now on Drudge, and it appears that the left party contains not only the least generous, but also the most wealthiest. But wait–how can this be? Their policies are sooo generous. Oh, wait, that’s with Other People’s Money.
Immigrant sense of entitlement. Powerline. We detest any sense of entitlement in immigrants or in citizens. If you want freedom, apply to come to the US. If you feel entitled to anything other than the gift of freedom, go elsewhere.
The Second Amendment case: Big Iguana. You know my opinion: Self-defence is the most fundamental civil right.
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