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Monthly Archives: January 2007
I’ll admit to having this love/hate thing for Don Imus. I enjoy this canterkerous old cowboy most of the time, even though the collection of misfits he surrounds himself with for his morning broadcasts (except for the sports guy) couldn’t get work parking cars. But this morning, my God he railed on about his corporate bosses, and I just sat there, mesmorized, at how gutsy (and accurate) his rant was. Apparently, yesterday Imus broadcast his show for the new Center for the Intrepid, an amazing facility that aims to help Veterans learn to overcome their injuries and participate in activities that one would assume they can no longer enjoy. The Center itself, and everything it offers, is an incredible story. To me, though, what is really worth examining is how it was funded, and built. My understanding is that it was completely funded through private donations, some 600,000 Americans donated upwards of 50 million dollars. When I first heard that figure, I thought to myself there was no way to design, build and staff a facility of that caliber with a paltry 50 million. Let me put that into perspective for a minute, the Titans play in a stadium that cost 292 million dollars to build 8 years ago! It occured to me that the architects and contractors involved in this endeavor must have made the most of every dollar. I doubt that anyone involved tried to enrich themselves by padding the budget. This whole project, to me, represents what America can do, given the right circumstances. So ok, thats a story as well. With a budget for the Iraq war of 300 billion, I’m a little ashamed that we couldn’t find the money to build a center like this in every state. At the risk of getting off track here, (perhaps another thread is in order) I have to say that we indeed could have done so, and built 100 or so state of the art schools, if more people didn’t feel that it’s ok to milk every dollar out of a govt contract.
Back to Imus. So yesterday, while I was cooking for the kids, I had the television tuned to MSNBC. I had already endured Nora O’Donnel(sp?) asking a Clinton spokesperson over and over again what Hillary meant by her “evil men” remark. I mean, she wouldn’t let it go. I was irritated by it, but chalked it up to a slow news day. Then at 3:00 pm, Tucker convened an entire panel to dissect Clinton’s remarks. I think Tucker is a moron anyway, so though my irritation level raised a notch or two, I still managed to keep from yelling at the kids. I always look forward to 4:00 pm, because Chris Matthews, for all his faults, gets a better caliber of guests on his show. To my horror, he had three talking heads droning on about, yup, what the hell Hillary Clinton “meant”. I lost it. The kids were forced to tie me up in a chair to keep me from kicking the dog(or them), and duct-taped my mouth in an effort to curb the obscenities I was spewing at the TV. Around 10:00 pm they turned me loose, and I went to bed muttering about MSNBC. (I have to watch MSNBC, since CNN sold out long ago, and well, Fox is Fox, and I have a brain cell left.) I always watch Imus while I get the kids breakfast. Like I said, it’s a love/hate thing. He is a remarkable man, who does some great work outside of a TV studio. I hate it when he is dismissive of some people unfairly. But today, he went after his masters with a vengeance. He called Matthews an idiot. He essentially called Abramson a whore, and an idiot. He railed on about the fact that the coverage of the Center for the Intrepid was perfunctory, and half-hearted. He referred to his own network as a sorry excuse for a news organization. In short, he nailed it. I suppose he is wealthy enough that he doesn’t need this gig, but it was refreshing to hear someone in the biz taking their own network to task. My hat is off this morning to Mr. Imus.
Paul Krugman dissects Friedman, here.
Milton Friedman often assured audiences that no special institutions, like minimum wages and unions, were needed to ensure that workers would share in the benefits of economic growth. In 1976 he told Newsweek readers that tales of the evil done by the robber barons were pure myth:
There is probably no other period in history, in this or any other country, in which the ordinary man had as large an increase in his standard of living as in the period between the Civil War and the First World War, when unrestrained individualism was most rugged.
(What about the remarkable thirty-year stretch after World War II, which encompassed much of Friedman’s own career?) Yet in the decades that followed that pronouncement, as the minimum wage was allowed to fall behind inflation and unions largely disappeared as an important factor in the private sector, working Americans saw their fortunes lag behind growth in the economy as a whole. Was Friedman too sanguine about the generosity of the invisible hand?
H/T Ezra Klein
I’m always ready to admit to being one of those people who sees shades of grey everywhere. I really don’t think I could come up with a single absolute if I had to. I’ve taken a lot of heat for it through the years, as many have tried to convince me that there are indeed issues that are up/down, black/white, or right/wrong, and that my refusal (which is more of an inability) to see this is proof that I am somehow unprincipled. So, I have to ask this today, to my many friends and acquaintances who are comfortable with absolutes, and particularly those who have patted me on the head and said that my passion for human rights notwithstanding, we are a nation of laws, first and foremost. The “Rule of Law” argument is the last and best refuge for those who are against the idea of forgiving the trespasses of those who circumvent our immigration laws by crossing our borders “illegally.” “Law is the cornerstone of our great nation!”, they exclaim, and then conveniently forget that our laws allow for things like forgiveness (pardons) and that amnesties are applied rather often. Letting the punishment fit the crime is another fundamental component of our system of laws, after all, no one wants to sentence a jaywalker to life in prison, right?
So, this has me scratching my balding head. Two border patrol agents tried to apprehend a drug smuggler, somehow botched the takedown and when the smuggler attempted to flee by crossing the Rio Grande, they (illegally) shot him in the ass. Then they compounded this “mistake” by (illegally) policing up their spent shell casings, and if this wasn’t enough, they then filed a false report about the whole incident. I count three laws broken at the very least. Apparently, none of their behavior warrants punishment, at least according to Lou Dobbs , various parasitic politicians, and so called “grass-roots” groups. To them, the ends justify the means. The Chairman of the Border Patrol says that these two officers were doing all they could to keep this poison off the streets, just doing their jobs so to speak. I applaud the effort, right up to the point when they broke the law. But this post isn’t about these two officers, really, it’s about the hypocrisy of those that apply the rule of law only when it is convenient. I thought that the prosecuting attorney summed it nicely, here. I guess I’ll take some comfort in the fact that close to a quarter million people signed a petition seeking amnesty for these two officers. Apparently, a lot of other people see shades of grey…
I really didn’t want to make my first post of the New Year a downer. I really didn’t. Then I read about this, and well, I feel compelled to say something. The story isn’t anything new, drive-by’s are a common occurence in just about every American city. The fact that one of the victims was an NFL corner, and by all accounts a good guy, makes it newsworthy. Recently, Real Sports did a story about pro athletes that stay “strapped”, (which means they carry a gun, for those of you unfamiliar with ghetto slang) for fear of just this type of incident. What the gun nuts don’t ever say is that Darrent Williams could have had a loaded 9mm in a shoulder holster, a Walther PPK in his sock, a 357 magnum (six inch barrel, nickel plated) stuffed into his waistband, and an MK 16 SCAR-L tucked away under his driver seat, and he would be just as dead this morning. That’s because a drive by is a cowardly act. I cannot remember a single story in the last, oh, say, 140 years or so where two guys in a beef calmly walked out through the swinging doors of a saloon and faced each other in the street, drew their six shooters and the fastest guy walked away. That, I could almost admire. No, what happens in real life is that two guys, or a group of guys, sling insults from across the room, and the mixture of alcohol and testosterone suddenly makes someone feel that he must defend his honor, his “rep”, by killing the person that vocally bitch-slapped him. Being a coward at heart, he retreats into the parking lot, retrieves whatever weapon he bought from someone who stole it from a “collector’s” house, and waits for the poor victim and his friends to climb into their ride. Then he boldly slinks up in his ride when they are not looking, and blasts away. A young man with a great future dies in a hail of bullets, a coward drives away laughing. Unfortunately, this scenario is repeated nearly every day, in nearly every city and town in the country. The ugly truth is that your precious second amendment rights will not protect you from someone like the asshat that shot and killed Darrent Williams. What might actually protect you is a complete cultural turn-around that results in our love affair with phallic-like weapons ending forever. Now, I’m not anti-gun. I own a few, and they are useful tools when you live in the country. I also own some saws, a drill or two, two trucks, and a gas-powered auger. I just don’t spend my day pre-occupied with the newest models of gas powered augers, because, well, that would make me awful boring to be around. In fact, I had a number of conversations last year, and wrote fifty or sixty blog posts and not once did I mention how powerful my auger is, or how shiny the bit is, or even how much it throbs and rattles when I crank it up. So, it escapes me, this fascination with guns, and I always conclude that those that have it must be compensating for some percieved physical shortcoming. All I know is, there is an entire community grieving because some sniveling jerk had to prove to the world that even dickless cowards have power.