Saturday, April 18, 2009

Let the Tea Bagging Continue

KIA, in responding to Becky C.'s post put it best:
If you were like me and real-world committments prevented you from attending the tea parties live, you can send an electronic teabag here:

Nevermind the hypocrisy of the GOP now, go ahead and teabag the current leadership. It's never too late to try to make a difference.
I couldn't agree more. I know that the Republicans under Bush outdid what the Democrats had done in wasteful spending up until that time. I know that the Republicans under McCain would likely do the same. And I'm far from convinced that GOP politicians have learned anything from last election.

If the GOP is giving us a forum, though, to express outrage about taxes and spending I am not against using it. Just as if the Dems gave a forum to protest loss of civil liberties under a Republican administration, I'd use that, even though Dems are not much better, and arguably worse than the Repubs on that score.

I don't care who Fox News praises and the other networks ridicule or vice-versa. It's about the message, not the messengers. So I sent my postcard and you can too. It's a little late for tax day of this year but really, really early for next year! (And it would be great if the spirit of protest could be maintained year round).

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Amazons Rankings are Rank

Say it ain't so, Jeff Bezos! has been one of my favorite places to shop for a long time. Especially during the Christmas season when I try to avoid the malls like the plague. So I hope that this "glitch," or whatever it is, with Amazon Rankings is fixed soon.

Sure, there are plenty of other online stores to shop on, but I already have my name, address, credit card info., etc. on Amazon. I don't like to enter all that information in more places than I have to. So hopefully they'll fix whatever's wrong and issue a substantial apology to the injured parties, before I have to experience the pain of boycotting them.

As an interesting aside I was once sent an e-mail by Amazon telling me of several gay-themed books and movies that I "might be interested in" because I purchased a DVD of Airplane! Go figure.

Update: April 30, 2009 - I see that the "glitch" has been fixed. While it is regrettable that this happened in the first place, it is good to see that Amazon did respond when it's customers made their feelings known. With Mother's Day and my brother's birthday coming soon, I am glad I don't have to boycott them!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

We Need More Eighteenth Century Men

Thomas Frank in his column this week in The Wall Street Journal Eighteenth-Century Man made a good point about the ridiculousness of fat-cat politicians who pretend to be down-home folks while they spew faux-populist rhetoric. However, he failed to prove that the main subject of this column, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, fit this category. In fact, he conceded that "Mr. Sanford's democratic idealism may be for real, but ... with ideals this bad, you don't need hypocrisy to go wrong." And what are those horrible, horrible ideals? Opposing deficit spending, seeking better ways for people to invest their Social Security money, and above all, refusing federal government handouts.

Now, I know that in times like these deficits "don't matter." We are all Keynesians, socialists, or whatever term will fly to justify the "temporary" increase in government spending to get us out of the latest emergency. Fine. Let's get all we need from "the rich," and who cares if those labeled rich for the purpose of soaking them at tax time may be anything but. Is there really no way to cut a $3.55 trillion budget? Is raising concerns about deficit spending really such a bad thing? I thought that one of the causes of the current economic crisis was people spending beyond their means - whether they were private individuals, corporate executives, or even those most virtuous of virtuous people - government officials.

How about Mr. Frank's take on Social Security? Well he does score some cheap points by saying:

Business, on the other hand, is an institution with almost magical powers of beneficence: were we to entrust our retirement savings to "conventional investments" instead of government, Mr. Sanford wrote in 2000, we could expect returns of 8% a year. (And that's why the Dow stands well above 20,000 today.)

Very good, except that an investment purely in the stock market has historically yielded close to 10% per year since 1926. So the 8% return implies a balance between stocks, bonds, and money market instruments as financial advisers have always recommended. With such a combination there will be fewer years with a loss and those years that do have a loss will be less severe. Even taking into account the really bad years like 1931 and 2008, long term investments in the markets almost always beat the below 3% returns offered by Social Security. Plus, markets do tend to go up shortly after their worst crashes (one of the best years in the market was 1933). After Social Security collapses we can look forward to the government printing more worthless bills. Of course, I can't blame anyone who can't trust the markets. But I can say that the money you send to the government for Social Security would be much better invested in gold coins, canned goods, bottled water (or water purification tablets), farmland, livestock, guns, ammo, etc. than to finance government waste.

Finally, there is Mr. Frank's smug dismissal of Mr. Sanford's refusal to be a welfare queen:

Worst of all, his stand against the stimulus, while self-denying in the Sanford tradition, was taken against the loud protests of less Spartan citizens. Mr. Sanford's desire to strike his bold moral pose took priority over his state's need for relief.
Loud protests of less Spartan citizens? How many citizens protested against the stimulus package in the first place? Quite a few I know protested against the first round of Federal Bailouts (with letters to congresspeople - those protests were not very loud, I guess that's the problem). The point is, there will almost always be loud protesters on all sides of a controversial issue and if government officials never did anything because there were protesters opposed to it governments would never get anything done (which would be a good thing, but only officials of all ideological stripes paid heed to their protesters equally). In any case, in this era when it seems that every public figure, whether in government or private industry, has an outstretched hand saying "gimme, gimme, gimme!' does it not seem right to condemn the one who says "I don't need your charity." After all his "less Spartan citizens" can move to any of at least a dozen other states whose governors are begging Uncle Sam for bailouts like dogs begging their masters for treats, and whose legislators have already spent twice the bailout they hope to get.

It is true, Mark Sanford may not be the responsible citizen legislator he pretends to be. But it almost seems that Thomas Frank wishes he wasn't. Mr. Frank and his ilk can accept sleazy, lying politicians. What they can't accept is principled opposition to big and ever-expanding government.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Even the most reasonable radfem....

I learned of a challenge to find feminist porn from Nine Deuce at "Rage Against the Manchine." Though the challenge was initiated by another radical (read anti-sex) feminist, Nine Deuce was offering to bet anyone $100 to anyone who could win the challenge. I did not take the bet, for reasons that should be obvious to anyone with a passing familiarity with radical feminism (and if it's not obvious read on and it will become so).

Nine Deuce is one of the few radfems who will occasionally let people who don't kiss her ass comment on her blog, and even more occasionally she will post opinions of people who disagree with her, if only so she can personally attack them. So, I thought I might have a chance of getting my comment posted. WRONG! Why I do not know, but I suspect it is because of its mildly sarcastic tone. I should have known that 92 reserves sarcasm for herself and her groupies (of course their sarcasm is anything but mild and usually quite personal). Just goes to show that even the most reasonable radfem can be very arbitrary and unreasonable, and will impose double-standards at the drop of a hat when her fragile little feelings are hurt by someone attacking her worldview.

Anyway, here is the oh-so-offensive posting:
This seems like a rigged contest to me. When has an anti-porn feminist ever considered anything even slightly erotic to be feminist?

Photos of nude or scantily clad men for women's consumption? Male exotic dancers? They're not fulfilling women's real sexual fantasies, just the women's desire to be like men so they're ...MISOGYNISTIC! Women playing a dominant role in BDSM? Everyone knows that no woman really wants to participate in BDSM in any role; they only do it to please their male partners therefore it is ...MISOGYNISTIC! Lesbian porn? Always someone playing a male role and someone playing female role and playing the female role is always degrading. (Incidentally the exact same thing can be said about gay male porn). Now, I, personally, don't know what evidence there is to support the idea of all lesbian and gay porn having people playing opposite sex roles, or the reason that the female role is inherently degrading. But the high priestesses of radical feminism all agree among these points so they must be true. Therefore, of course all same sex porn is ...MISOGYNISTIC!

In fact all sex is misogynistic. All male masturbation is, too, because masturbating males are fantasizing about having sex with (and therefore violating) a woman, or fantasizing about having sex with someone they plan to treat like a woman. I don't know if female masturbation is misogynistic but I'm sure researchers in Women's Studies labs are working hard to determine that.

PS Congratulations to the Villanova men's basketball team on making it to the Final Four for the first time in 24 years! Thanks to you not all of the money I left in Vegas 2 weeks will stay in Vegas (and even less if you win the overall tournament). But whatever happens from now on, thanks for a great season.