1. One percent of the world population are clinical psychopaths. Yes, seriously.
2. Another 3% are sociopaths.
3. That 1% causes half of all the serious crime in North America, according to the authors of Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go To Work.
Anyway, if only 1% of the population is locked up, we still haven't caught all the psychopaths and sociopaths yet. Lots of work to do.
I take back everything I said about him. There are no smoking fascists.
UPDATE: Castro smoked cigars. So I guess I'll have to tighten my argument to include cigarette smokers. So the question: Name a cigarette-smoking fascist dictator. My suspicion is that people who are fascist about others are fascist about themselves. And that means No Cigarettes. Cigarettes, after all, are pleasurable. And fascists, like puritans, are suspicious of pleasure.
UPDATE 2: On the other hand, Molech supports Obama.
But he doesn't say anything about smoking.
UPDATE 3: I'm in a lighter mood today, yes.
UPDATE 4: Regarding the post below, I forgot about the fixed assets of the U.S. government. Do the feds own $9 trillion worth of stuff that they (we) can sell? I mean, half the land west of the Mississippi is government-owned. Got to be worth quite a bit. Of course, it would be awkward to sell it to China, and thus have Chinese rule in our former national parks. But hey, I'm just brainstorming here.
UPDATE 5: Alaska. Of course. We could sell Alaska. How much do you think we could get for it? It's gotta be worth a cool $9 trillion.
It sure looks like things really heated up in 1998 (a great year, how I miss it.)
I don't feel like bashing people today, so I'll just let it be. And I've been wrong plenty on this blog, though if you go back in the archives, I've been skeptical of ole Dubya since at least 2003. (Actually it was before that. I had this moment when Bush was announced the winner and I thought, oh no, we didn't just elect him, did we?)
Anyway, now we have $3.25 gas, inflation for the first time in 28 years that's a lot higher than people make out (and rising food prices for the first time in my memory), a falling dollar internationally, an incredibly high debtload, and really low interest rates. We might also have stagflation, that is, inflation and recession at the same time. (Usually, that means unemployment may start to rise, too.) And while this happening, lots of America haters will, just like in the 70s, talk about our permanent, inevitable decline with barely concealed glee.
But the truth is, we're not in that bad shape. Seriously. I mean that. We have a lot of challenges, but we're not in that bad a shape. Let's keep perspective here. Let's see the big picture. First of all, global warming is either not happening or is part of a natural fluctuation in global temperature. So we're not going to be flooded with melting ice caps.
That said, our debt is a big problem and it's not going to get any smaller. I'd love to give you a fix, but unfortunately, I still have no idea where we borrow the money. No one has explained it to me adequately, though a few years back Chris made a heroic effort, IIRC.
Seriously. Where does the money come from? That is, let's just say my income is $50,000 a year. (It's not, but let's say it is.) I decide my budget for the next year is $75,000 -- $50k in income and $25k in borrowing. I go to the bank, and we work something out. Now, let's say my income is $2.7 trillion dollars. (It's not, but let's say it is.) I decide my next year's budget is $3.2 trillion. So I have to borrow $500 billion. Where do I go? Do I go down to Goldman Sachs and say, "I'd like to borrow $500 billion, please?" Seriously, who goes and gets the extra money. And why do I, as a borrower, get to the set the terms of my borrowing?
That is, is there no one who can just say no? That is, does the guy who goes and gets the extra $500 billion ever hear, "Um, that's a lot, I'm afraid we can't loan that to you."
Yes, I understand there's such a thing as U.S. Treasury bills. Can we simply sell as many of these things as we want? Is there any limit? Is what happens is some dude from the treasury department simply says, "Roll out $500 billion in U.S. Treasury bills and sell them on the bond market." And someone buys them? China and Japan and stuff -- but where do they get the money? In other words, what are the incentives to buy T-Bills from us instead of buying something else. Do we have to promise to pay much more later to get people to buy our bills now -- do we ever have to sweeten the pot (e.g., the interest rate) in order to incent the market to buy from us now instead of using that money elsewhere? What is the interest we pay?
Again, what are the limits of that system? Are there limits? How does the market-mechanism work in federal budget-deficit financing? And why does the government seem to have so much power? It seems that the market can simply say no. But they never do.
I mean, screw it, what if a president said, "Sell $100 trillion worth of U.S. Treasury bonds tomorrow." No one has that kind of money -- it simply doesn't exist. What then?
Another question -- exactly how bad a situation is the government in as far as debt.
Let's bring the question down to size. Right now, my only debt is a small personal debt that will be settled soon, and my house. If you include my liquid assets including retirement, my current Personal Debt is about 1.2 times my yearly income. My current debt service (interest on debt) is about 10% of my total income, and about 15% of my take-home pay. This doesn't feel terribly onerous to me -- though, I admit, I'd love to have the house paid off.
For our government, the total debt is more than three times its income, and we pay something like $400 billion in interest in debt per year. But that's about 15-18% of the gross receipts, right? Man, the federal government must be getting a better interest rate than me. Anyway, I'm tired, going to bed, and none of these figures sound right, except my own personal expenses, which I happen to know accurately.
Barack Obama is a clever fellow who imbibed hatred of America with his mother's milk, but worked his way up the elite ladder of education and career. He shares the resentment of Muslims against the encroachment of American culture, although not their religion. He has the empathetic skill set of an anthropologist who lives with his subjects, learns their language, and elicits their hopes and fears while remaining at emotional distance. That is, he is the political equivalent of a sociopath. The difference is that he is practicing not on a primitive tribe but on the population of the United States.
There is nothing mysterious about Obama's methods. "A demagogue tries to sound as stupid as his audience so that they will think they are as clever as he is," wrote Karl Krauss. Americans are the world's biggest suckers, and laugh at this weakness in their popular culture. Listening to Obama speak, Sinclair Lewis' cynical tent-revivalist Elmer Gantry comes to mind, or, even better, Tyrone Power's portrayal of a carnival mentalist in the 1947 film noire Nightmare Alley. The latter is available for instant viewing at Netflix, and highly recommended as an antidote to having felt uplifted by an Obama speech.
America has the great misfortune to have encountered Obama at the peak of his powers at its worst moment of vulnerability in a generation. With malice aforethought, he has sought out their sore point.
I've said as much on this blog. So I had to think about whether supporting McCain was to risk my soul. (For example, one reason I reversed my position on waterboarding was it contradicted Catholic teaching. McCain is against torture, so that's good.) But when I vote for McCain, I'm not voting for a pro-choice politician, but for a man who promised to nominate strict constructionist judges in the Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Scalia mold.
McCain has said he wants to send the abortion issue back to the states (I believe). That's an important first step, and the logical next step, in the pro-life movement. As president, McCain's unlikely to be empowered to do more than appoint judges, anyway.
Then we'll fight the battles in the state legislatures. I think voting for him is a realistic decision. I'd like more, but the perfect is the enemy of the good. Building a culture of life will take steps, and McCain has agreed to the next step. I don't think it's rationalization to support him — unless I'm wrong about his position.
And considering a vote for him would be a vote against the whole scissors-in-the-baby's-head, culture-of-death thing promoted by Hillary and Barack, I think it's a reasonable decision to choose the person who will do the most good and least damage on this issue.
In the Washington Post, a former Catholic journalist goes ballistic about the Bishops' document. And Ramesh Ponnuru has a response here in National Review.
UPDATE: Please note the absence of the word "Democrat" or "Republican" in the post. This is NOT meant to be an attack on one political party or the other. There are pro-lifers and pro-choicers in both parties, though granted, it's not evenly distributed. Ideally, both parties would support an ethic of life, and then spend the rest of their time arguing over priorities to form a more perfect union, secure the blessings of liberty, providing for the common defense and promoting the general welfare.
Setting up this workstation should
be a piece of cake. Just plug and play.
Um, might be a little glitch.
Just some keyboard magic and ...
OK, that's me with two monitors
lighting up my face. Maybe shut
one monitor off and ...
Hmm, looks like another problem.
A little more typing and ...
Hey, is that a spiderweb I see
up in the rafters?
Oh, you're supposed to look
AT the webcam! Now I get it.
We in the U.S. won't get one until, well, it depends on the source. I recall the last one visible from the East Coast when I was a boy, but I don't know when the next one will be like that.
Yup. This needs to be a campaign ad for Hillary now.
I read some of Michelle Obama's Princeton senior thesis, which is now on the Web at Politico. To the Obama campaign's credit, they released the paper when Princeton embargoed it until after the election.
There's nothing really there. Just a young woman wondering whether she'd ever be fully accepted in the white community and if she is, what that will cost her in terms of her black identity. It's a reasonable question for a young woman.
The thesis itself is written in a faux-officious style; the couple of pages I read showed a fundamental misunderstanding of the use of hyphens, semi-colons and commas. In fact, I think Michelle Obama may have been more confused about writing style than identity -- that is, if she's mixing up a stunted, stilted, official-sounding writing style with whiteness, no wonder she doesn't want to fit in. But she was just a kid ... at least she was asking important questions.
Read Hillary Clinton's Wellesley thesis and compare. Hillary, for all her conceptual and personal faults, was an outstanding writer. Her thinking is lucid, her language concrete, her grammar flawless, and her points backed up with evidence. She was obviously an outstanding student, even if I disagreed with much of what she said. But students are allowed to "try on thinking." Of course, Hillary's not running against Michelle.