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And For My Next Trick
There's a puff of smoke, maybe a flame, followed by the wave of a hand bringing the crowd's surprise. With the smoke and the flame, the movements of his hands, the magician - the illusionist - took their attention away from what he was doing, until they'd already missed it. By then it was too late, all they saw was something appear out of nothing.
Misdirection can be a tricky thing.
I wonder how many Germans woke up one day and suddenly wondered where their country had gone. Or maybe for some it was just a nagging feeling they quashed until it they could deny it no longer. I recently watched The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, and one thing that struck me was the portrayal of how much hatred and blame there was toward the Jews. Yes, it is just a movie, but the truth is still there - Germany was a nation hurting, and they found some kind of comfort in finding someone to blame for their wounds.
Perhaps that's something that should concern us now, with all this outrage and anger. It's not the ever present political passion during the continual clash of ideas in a country based on freedom of thought and belief. No, it's a focused outrage, directed towards specific institutions, specific people, a minority who have been singled out by the relatively few - in relation to our population - that occupy certain positions in government. It's anger about corporate jets and the bonuses of private citizens. It's dangerous.
The Germans found someone to blame, but they lost their country. I'm not as well versed in history as some, but I can't imagine the rise of Hitler would have been possible without the emotional tide of a citizenry swept up in hatred and blame.
Unlike what some have said of our former President, I am not comparing our current President to Hitler - I'm comparing the situations of the two nations. Because while the outrage and blame may feel good to some, it would be wise to consider what the other hand is doing. If we don't, one day the rabbit will be pulled out of that hat, and no one will know where it came from.
Consider that the government is trying to draft a specific tax to essentially take away the only compensation given to specific individuals. Does that sound like America? Just this week the President of the United States forced the firing of an automotive industry CEO. Who would have thought that possible just a year or two ago? A prominent member of the press - who are guaranteed freedom under the assumption that they would be a check and a balance to the power of the government - has asked why the banks aren't just nationalized, and the executives fired. And the one thing that remains consistent, whether the headlines scream bonuses or airplanes, is that each step of the way the government gains more and more power, and grows larger and larger.
While the surprise of the illusionist's trick is usually a pleasant marvel, we're not at a magic show. While the crowd looks at the hand pointing the finger and in the direction it's pointed, be sure to watch that other hand, keep an eye on the sleeve, and check out that box that doesn't seem deep enough. Because that's where our country will disappear. And when you see it, nudge whoever is next to you - they need to see it too.
This week on AO - what part of your life are you willing to let someone else control? How about the government? And just how bad is failure? Isn't there someone you want to fail? Or someone who should? We also took a look and the most important position in the administration - regardless of past taxes.
Black, White, and Red All Over
So here's an idea. Why don't we make newspapers non-profit - since they don't seem to be able to make one. Yeah, that makes sense. If talk radio starts to falter, I guess NPR will just send some funds along. The argument is that newspapers - as a part of our democracy - are too important to fail. So just take that profitability thing away, and the only focus will be telling their story - as opposed to the story.
Wait, here's another idea - maybe they aren't making money because they aren't doing their job well. And maybe the solution is to change what they're doing.
Read the Instructions
Michele Bachmann asked Tim Geithner - Treasury Secretary and Turbo Tax Consultant - along with Reserve Chairman Bernanke about the Constitutionality of the bailout, the stimulus, and the possibility of converting currency. Obviously - and perhaps that was her point - there was nothing for them to point to in the Constitution. This whole thing is simply congress making it up as they go. While that may be legal, it doesn't mean it's smart.
Geithner categorically opposed the suggestion of China to drop the dollar - 'categorically' is a Turbo Tax term that means, 'at least until tomorrow'. It was only a day later he said he was open to the suggestion. And the market fell. No kidding.
At least someone in the minority party understands what the 'Do you want the President to fail?' question really means. Governor Bobby Jindal says:
Make no mistake: Anything other than an immediate and compliant, 'Why no sir, I don't want the president to fail,' is treated as some sort of act of treason, civil disobedience or political obstructionism...This is political correctness run amok. My answer to the question is very simple: 'Do you want the president to fail?' It depends on what he is trying to do.We'll that's a little like what we think too. Oh, and were the roles reversed - for example, the last eight years - I have the feeling those asking the question now would be grasping at failure no matter what the goal.
As times change, terms change - and this is the Presidency of change, so it shouldn't be any surprise that the 'global war on terror' will now be called 'overseas contingency operation'. That's only fitting now that future acts of terror will be called 'man caused disasters'. It looks like the goal is for things to be...less. Less confrontational, less motivating, and less clear. I guess it's like calling infanticide a choice. Of course quoting the Bible can be 'hate speech', so not everything is being toned down.
What's next on the linguistic hit list? Freedom?
The Bonus Round
It looks like someone got tired of only hearing Blarny Frank's perspective on bonuses - and just up and quit. Jake DeSantis - Vice President at AIG - sent his resignation letter to the CEO and the world. So I guess you can either believe the politicians who voted for the bonuses before they were outraged about the bonuses, or you can believe the guy who quit, worked for a salary of a $1 - yes, the rest of his compensation was, shocking, a bonus - and just decided to give away whatever the government doesn't steal back.
Or you could believe neither - either way, the bottom line is this: people like Jake DeSantis will start working where they can keep their money, and people like Frank and Geitner will still be spending our money. That just doesn't seem right.
And On The Left
ACORN is giving bus tours of AIG employee homes. I don't think that needs much more commentary. Apparently they haven't done enough damage. Yet.
Learn By Example
Daniel Hannan has something to say to Gordon Brown:
The truth, Prime Minister, is that you have run out of our money. The country as a whole is now in negative equity. You cannot spend your way out of recession or borrow your way out of debt... You know and we know and you know that we know that it's nonsense.
Is the same economic cloth is being used by the Obama Administration to custom tailor a straight jacked for our nation? As always the socialistic Emperor isn't wearing any clothes. Hannan's warning to us is that above all, don't socialize healthcare. And don't make the same mistakes as England. After all, isn't that why we're a nation?
You Can't Sing
I'll admit it. I'm not proud of it. I do have an excuse. I did it for someone else. If you were in my shoes you would have done the same. Still, I'm a little ashamed to say it publicly.
I've watched American Idol.
There, it's out now. Ridicule me if you must. I remember watching the tryouts (if that's what they're called). Someone would walk in knowing they were the next big thing. They say as much to the judges. Then they would sing. We would cringe. The judges would cringe. The camera would cringe.
Then they'd burst out the doors, angry and crying, enraged and confused. The judges with all their years of experience in the music industry knew nothing - family and friends told them there were great, and they were right.
At that level, the unrealistic opinions and expectations of success provided by the sincere - yet misguided - encouragement of friends and family may provide for some admittedly sadistic entertainment. But it's not quite as entertaining when it's the Presidency, and our country.
Rush Limbaugh knew full well what would happen when he said he hoped the President would fail. The context wouldn't matter, the qualifiers wouldn't matter, the obvious meaning would not matter. If he strung those four words together - he knew they would be the only words repeated. I, for one, think the backlash is good. I was happy to hear that Governor Jindal brought the subject back into light this week.
The question is asked, "Do you want the President to fail?", and it's laced with the presupposition that hoping for failure is inherently bad, and hoping for success inherently good. A simple answer of 'Yes' will make you seem like the bully bent on the humiliation of others, or the sour cynic hoping hat other's ambitions and dreams are dashed so you have company to share your misery. However a simple answer of 'No' will align you with his visions, goals, and wordview.
What makes failure so bad? If no one failed, would anyone succeed? If every game ended in a draw, every competition ended in an all-way-tie, and every idea was equal - what would be the point or it all?
Yes, a blanket desire to see the failure of others is not healthy, but neither is an unchecked desire for their success. Imagine every singer being passed through every stage, because it just wouldn't be right for them to fail. Eventually, it all would fail. And that, of course, is the point.
"Do you want the President to fail?" Let me answer it this way - I want the vision of our founding fathers, the vision of liberty and freedom and independence to succeed. And if that means the failure of a President's policies, I'm all for it - even better if he fails to implement the policies in the first place. If I have to choose between a failed United States and a failed Presidency, I'll take the failed Presidency any day.
The Loss of Control
Some ideas sound great until you realize the actual effect it might have on you. It reminds of one of Aesop's Fables - the one about the mice and the cat. Basically, the mice were being hunted by the cat and they agreed that something needed to be done. Apparently the cat like to sneak up on the mice and there was no time for them to escape. A solution was proposed to tie a bell around the cat so that they would know it was near. Everyone thought this was a great idea until one of the older mice spoke and asked, who will tie the bell around the cat's neck?
We've heard talk about a medical czar and how it is needed to make decision on what is and what is not a reasonable treatment. On the surface this sounds noble, after all, who wants to pay for frivolous treatments? In theory this would work because everybody would get exactly what they needed and nothing more. Nobody will complain until it's their surgery that is rejected. When they want the option to pay more to better their own lives (even if it's all in there heads); the option won't be there. I'm not arguing against all medical subsidies and I'm not even directly arguing against universal healthcare. I'm against taking what should be the choices of US citizens and placing them in the hands of a single US government bureaucrat. It's a loss of freedom, pure and simple.
I've also heard some plans from our new "energy czar" as she's called. We need blah, blah, blah and blah. Oh and smart energy grids. Now I love technology and any of my friends can attest to that. I'm all for optimizing the flow of energy in this country. I'm all for finding alternative sources of energy. I'm even OK with providing tax breaks for hybrid cars (though I'm not entire convinced of their efficacy). What I don't like, is the control the utility companies will have over my energy usage based on what they deem efficient. I'm not against giving the option to have them cut your electricity to save money, but why can't it be at the request of the customer only?
I've also heard talk of forcing hospitals (private) to perform abortions. Freedom of choice? Only for those having abortions. Since when is having an abortion fundamental to your health? OK, OK... just for the naysayers I'll give you the "life of the mother" argument. Let's say that we require those to be performed. But other than that? I wonder if the health czar would approve of that. So I can't have my elective surgery because someone else is forced to allow an abortion? I realize there will be ground rules and I'm not arguing that no good will be done. However, it is still a transfer of control from the US citizen to the US government. Even if you agree now on what is or isn't a required practice, what if that stance changes?
We are being told that we can't decide what is a proper treatment. We are being told that we have too much and that we use too much energy. And we are being told that abortions are absolutely necessary so that hospitals must perform them. Why? Because they know better than us. Funny how getting smart people in office means they can tell you what you need exactly - i.e. All-knowing. It may sound like a great idea to you because right now it does not affect you. In fact you probably won't notice for a bit and you may be able to avoid any problems. But someone will end up suffering - somebody will have to be the one to put the bell on the cat.
I would like to turn the argument around. Why should we give the government more power? They have more power today than ever before and few administrations have done anything to lesse the control of Government. Yet, we are being told this is the worst crisis the country has faced since the great depression. Prove to us that you can handle what power you have and maybe it will merit more. Except then everybody will realize that government is not the answer to all of this country's problems.
Food for Thought
If you thought selling Freedom Fires instead of French Fries was silly - you'll love this. Always on the cutting edge, a German food vendor is now selling Obama Fingers. That's right - tender, juicy, fried chicken. They claim they're trying to capitalize on the care-free American spirit - at least when it comes to fried food - and the international fascination with the new American President.
It seems they did not realize that there could be some racial connection to the product - and with an unblemished record of human rights and racial equality, why wouldn't you believe them. After all, it's not just fried chicken fingers, there's a curry sauce too.
As covered before, the CEO of Caterpillar said if a good stimulus package was passed, and the economy recovered, they could do some re-hiring. But the President quoted him as saying, "...if Congress passes our plan, this company will be able to rehire some of the folks who were just laid off." Was the stimulus good? Guess not, Caterpillar announced more layoffs. Not so stimulating now.
Power Under Control
Carol Browner is an Obama appointee that you may not have heard about, since she seems able to pay her taxes. While she may be Goreish on climate change, she's not just a bunch of globally warmed air. The former EPA director is now the President's Energy Advisor.
What do we have to look forward to? A 'smart' grid. And by smart, she thinks that we're just stupid enough to let the power company decide how much power we need. I guess that's one solution to the rolling blackouts in California - rolling brownouts everywhere.
Tax Cuts for the...Famous?
Speaking of hot air, Alec Baldwin - known for his great insight - has seen the light when it comes to taxes. Well, when it comes to his taxes. Facing hard economic times, some New York state politicians thought the solution was to tax, well, everything. The response was not surprising.
So perhaps instead of new taxes, they should just remove some tax breaks. Not so fast says Alec Baldwin. When it comes to the 35% tax break the entertainment industry gets, well, that just shouldn't be touched.
But I thought it was okay to tax business. Looks like taxing the wealthy is good in theory to some, but not in practice. Baldwin is not alone - even Whoopi's feeling the crunch. There's a video, but you may want to look away. The View is never pretty.
Ready for your new neighbors? Wander on over with some cookies, but don't invite them to the pool party - they may have issues with Americans and water. As Gitmo closes, the 'residents' need to go somewhere, and not everyone wants them in their country - so they may end up in ours
In this economy it can be tough for tax evaders and former criminals to find a job. That's where the Obama administration has a plan. And it's working great. While on leave - due to the FBI corruption investigation of his former office - it was found that new Chief Federal Information Officer, Vivek Kundra plead guilty to theft 13 years ago.
I don't believe there was prison time involved, or he probably would have been a grateful recipient of the spending bill's tattoo removal earmark. But others like him still need jobs. That's why Senator Bill Nelson says we need a National Cyber-Security Czar. That and the fact that his office's computer network has been breached by the Chinese three times in the last two months.
Not to worry, it's not like he's involved in anything important. Just the Intelligence Committee. And the Armed Services Committee. And the Finance Committee. That's all.
Americas Next Top Model has finally allowed short models into the competition. I know, you were waiting for that too - right? That may have been a bad move. Police had to shut it all down after the thousands of contestants stampeded. Who knows what caused it, but it's a low blow to short models everywhere.
Blarny Frank wants the list of AIG employees that received bonuses. And he wants them now - with no guarantees to privacy. That's right Blarny, just throw them out there. Maybe then we won't remember that the stimulus bill was modified to allow those same bonuses, that your party pushed that bill through before anyone could read it, and that members of congress and the administration can't consistently identify just how long they knew about the bonuses before they decided to become 'outraged'.
A Bit Too Late
This is what happens when you leave the trusty teleprompter at home. Things get messy. You're taking about how bad your bowling game is and next thing you know, you're mocking the handicap. I'm sure we've all been there. But then again, we're all not the President.
At least the appearance boosted Leno's ratings - and what's more important that that? March Madness picks? He fit that in, too. Now here's something we can learn from England. Maybe what we need is a figurehead who appears on all the late night shows, does ESPN, visits schools, holds rallies, and is loved by everyone. And then someone else effectively manages the government. That might work.
If Leno's serious about getting some ratings before his exit, I'd suggest Sarah Palin. After all, she actually knows what the special Olympics are about. Too bad she doesn't have enough experience to navigate the minefields of Washington politics - she can't handle interviews, wouldn't be able to pick out gifts for visiting dignitaries, and probably wouldn't be able to weed out the corruption in her own staff . Too bad really, because I'm pretty sure she'd know how to gut a pig.
Now There's a Plan
I guess there was a reason behind the lack of specific details during the campaign. People wouldn't have liked them. Health Care reform so far has included removing restrictions on international abortion funding, considering the taxation of health care benefits, and making private insurance pay the bill when a soldier is injured.
They all sound great, right? Veterans - and the average citizen I'd assume - weren't too happy with that last one, so didn't take long to get it pulled.
It does make you wonder - these are the great ideas we were promised? What's next - letting the DMV run emergency rooms? Because that's what government health care would be. And they've done so well with the economy.
It's been a bit sparse. We'd blame the economy, health care, and congressional corruption - but really, we just didn't get anything done.
We started off with a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule, which worked, but then we added the AO Cartoon and restarted the Week In Review.
Taking all that into account, here's what we're shooting for: Monday - Cartoon, Tuesday/Thursday - Article, Saturday - Week-In-Review.
We'll see if we make it.
The next WIR will be up shortly.
Now here's the short WIR promised last week.
Woah, Where's AO?
Yeah, yeah, so we missed a few of our normal publishing days. It'll be like that for the next few weeks as we work on a new publishing schedule that takes into account the AO Cartoon and yes, the WIR. Hope you enjoy. Until then, just keep an on the the RSS feed. Or refresh the page until you see a new article.
Just Pocket Change
Proving that the sure bet is always politicians spending more of your money, the four hundred billion (give or take) spending bill was passed this week . No surprise there. Not too surprised that the new administration hopes to change guidelines for spending bills, in the future of course.
But it's not just a spending bill - aren't you glad. It also removed regulations that put boundaries on environmental restrictions, gives judges a raise, and ends the D.C. educational voucher program. Yeah, that's one way to reform education. By not.
Looks like they're no longer 'enemy combatants' - poof, just like that. Just another step towards giving non-citizens the same rights as citizens. Yeah, because that worked before.
An Open Letter to the British Empire
Our bad. Really, our bad. No, not because of the Revolution. That seemed to work out alright to for you. Sure you lost a few colonies, but eventually the superpower they became turned into a great ally. And whenever those pesky Frenchmen complain, you can just blame us. We don't care, we're into Freedom Fries any more.
It's just that who would have known electing someone with less executive experience than Sarah Palin, and less national experience than a first term senator running for re-election would have turned out bad? Did you guys see that coming? And I thought it was the last guy would couldn't keep all these international things together.
First, thanks for the pen holder - we understand that it's not something you could pick up on Amazon, it could be one of the clues in National Treasure III. Speaking of movies, sorry about the DVDs - are they even playable over there? I know, it seems a little out of touch, you giving our President a gift made from one of the British Empire's great ships, and all you get is a pack of American movies.
But at least he's keeping it on his desk. You know, the desk the Queen gave to the United States, made from the timbers of the H.M.S. Resolute in memory of our rescue and return of the ship. Come to think of it, isn't the pen holder made from the timbers of her sister ship? Well, at least he gave you Psycho and Vertigo - they're like sister movies, right?
And "Schindler's List" might be a good movie, but it's not quite a match for your gift of a seven volume Winston Churchill biography. Of course, one day you may get it back, seeing how the Winston Churchill bust - given after September 11th as a symbol of unity - was returned.
This is just to say we're kinda puzzled at it all too - we were promised a new standing in the international community, 'citizens of the world' speech and all. We just didn't expect it would be like this.