Archive for November, 2008

So, how much IS a trillion dollars, anyway?

November 26, 2008

“A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon, you’re talking about real money.”

The current mania for bailouts started with an up-front price tag of $700 billion.  That was just the beginning, of course.

US Senator Everett Dirsken is supposed to have uttered the quote above, but scholars at the Dirksen Congressional Center have been unable to confirm that. Since Dirksen was a Republican, and a fiscal conservative, in an era when much classier Senators represented Illinois in Washington, I rather doubt that he did.

You can sure hear a current senator from either party, or an economy wonk in either the incoming or outgoing administration saying that, though, can’t you?

The parade of needy parasites in search of a bailout gets longer every day. It was $700 billion at first, but we knew that was just a taste. The total liability the Bush administration has so far  (as of last night, November 26th, that is) squatted and dumped on us taxpayers has been estimated at $7 TRILLION, and that’s preliminary.

So, how much is $7 trillion, really, besides being “real money?” Is there a way to understand such a huge number, or are we stuck with trying to grasp a meaningless abstraction? Let’s try, anyway.

Don’t most of us working adults have a feel for how much money a thousand dollars is? What can you buy for $1000? I found a Sony, 50-inch plasma TV listed at Wal-Mart for $976.54. Close enough. Round up to $1000, and let’s get going. How much is a million dollars? A thousand, Sony, 50-inch plasma TVs.

I imagine you could get all of those in one, big railroad boxcar, if you packed ’em in real tight, wall to wall, and floor to ceiling.

How much is $100 million? It’s the payload in a hundred railroad boxcars, each of them loaded with 50-inch, plasma TVs. How long would a train of 100 boxcars, loaded with plasma TVs, take to pass you at a railroad crossing? If it’s moving right along, maybe, what —  five, ten minutes? And each car that rumbles past your windshield is carrying $1 million in plasma TVs, bought by taxpayers.

How much is a billion? It’s a thousand million. How about ten trains of a hundred boxcars each — a thousand boxcars, total — of $1000 plasma TVs? Can you picture sitting in front of those flashers and cross arms, watching ten, hundred-car trains — one billion dollars — going by?

How about a hundred billion? That’s a hundred, one-hundred-car trains of $1000 plasma TVs. If you’re stuck at this railroad crossing while these go by, you’d better be in an RV, with a full refrigerator and an empty toilet tank.

How much is a trillion? It’s a thousand billion. That’s a thousand, one-hundred-car trains, carrying what has to be most of the  world’s production of 50-inch plasma TVs.

$7 trillion in plasma TVs would have to be hauled in SEVEN THOUSAND, one-hundred-car trains. A 100-ton boxcar is about 70 feet long. A hundred-car train, without locomotives, would be about a mile and a half long. A fantasy train carrying $7 trillion worth of plasma TVs would be over 7500 miles long — long enough to tie up every crossing from Vancouver, BC, Canada, to the middle of Brazil, if the fantasy train track went that far in a straight line.

Remember, now — these plasma TVs were all bought with money confiscated by threat of violence from US taxpayers, present and future. They will be distributed by government employees who don’t care what those taxpayers think about their methods.

If the distribution is as efficient as a government venture usually is, over half of the TVs will be lost, stolen, broken or given to people in Third World countries who live in mud huts without electricity, who think TV is unholy, and who hate the United States because it is The Great Satan. The latter recipients will trade their TVs at the local bazaar for AK-47s and explosives with which to kill Western aid workers and blow up US embassies.

Now, do you have a better idea of what “real money” is?

All aboard the bailout express! Have your tickets ready.

Deliver Me from Dinosaur Bailouts

November 19, 2008

Pat Buchanan recently wrote that he would like to see the Big Three “American” auto companies get the bailout of taxpayers’ money that is being discussed.   He says the Republicans will suffer if they don’t support it.

Pat, the Big Three Dinosaurs are no more “American” companies than Toyota — maybe even less so. Check the parts content and manufacturing locations on your “American” car, before you make such an unfounded assertion.

Get back to me when Big Three execs start acting as if the location of their corporate offices really mattered to them. Would they care if they went to sleep in Dearborn and woke up to Taiwan or Brussels? Not if they got to take their perks with them. Let their stockholders dump them in favor of people who care about America, and have them get back to me.

The Big Three execs are entitled to their grotesque (from my perspective) bonuses and golden parachutes, if their stockholders are dumb enough to put up with their incredibly bad decisions, and enough customers are dumb enough to pay for them as part of the price of a car. They are NOT entitled to taxpayers’ money, unless they start selling something taxpayers want to buy. If not, screw ’em.

Also, Pat, please tell me: Why should taxpayers help the UAW recover its hundreds of millions of dollars spent to elect BHO, by subsidizing their members’ union dues? They got their guy. Screw them, too.

An American company CAN come back from the dead. If its employees and retirees want to badly enough, let them pull out their own wallets.  Let them break up and buy their companies out of bankruptcy, make sacrifices, and begin making products Americans (and the world) want. Look at Harley Davidson, if you want to know how that is done.

Let us taxpayers keep the bailout money, and invest in automotive start-ups that use automated manufacturing, advanced materials, non-union labor, superior technology and real market knowledge to build cars Americans and others will buy.

The Big Three Dinosaurs? The tar pits are this way.

“Compassionate Conservatism,” and Other Reasons Why the Republicans Lost in ’08

November 7, 2008

THE DUNCEPHANT -- Proud symbol of the compassionate conservative, big-tent, self-defeating, Stupid Party

Compassionate Conservatism

“I call my philosophy and approach compassionate conservatism. It is compassionate to actively help our fellow citizens in need. It is conservative to insist on responsibility and results. And with this hopeful approach, we will make a real difference in people’s lives.”

President George W. Bush

Let’s get this out of the way up front. The Republicans got their heads handed to them in the 2008 presidential election because they deserved to. And it had nothing to do with the selection of Sarah Palin as McCain’s vice presidential candidate. In fact, that was the lone, good decision anyone in the Republican brain trust has managed to make in years, notwithstanding the snide remarks and lies told by the scuttling rats inside the McCain organization and their sycophantic hangers-on in the pundit class.

No, the Republicans put a lot of effort into defeating themselves, and it started long before Sarah Palin killed her first moose. They walked away from the conservative ideals that got Ronald Reagan elected twice in landslides, and won them a congressional majority in 1994. Why? Because the Republican “leadership” never really believed in those ideals. You see, at its core, the Republican Party is a bunch of spineless whores.

Yes, I said whores, and I meant it — exactly in the sense P. J. O’Rourke used the term, in the best American political science textbook ever written, his PARLIAMENT OF WHORES – a Lone Humorist Attempts to Explain the Entire US Government.

The spineless Republican retreads who guide the party’s destiny will sell their allegiance to any interest that promises to get them reelected – and this is the sad part — whether or not a rational person would see the slightest chance that it would work.

Like a beaten, bleeding hooker who refuses to file an assault complaint against her abusive pimp, because he “really loves her,” even after he has beaten her to a pulp for the umpteenth time, this core of Republicans returns to courting “moderates” and “undecideds,” and “reaching across the aisle,” even after two runaway victories with Reagan, and after winning back a majority in the House and Senate in the abortive “Republican Revolution” of 1994.

They chose their most recent standard bearer, John McCain, because he is a faithful follower of this self-destructive tradition. He was perfect for the job.

But he was only the most recent keeper of the flame. Go back to 1992, to the modern roots of this pathetic legacy. George Herbert Walker Bush, who was elected in 1988 on Reagan’s conservative coattails, turned his back on his own, “no new taxes” promise. In the endless search for the Bigger Tent the Republican whores thought would win them a second term, GHWB bequeathed to us eight years of Clinton, Clinton, Gore & Co.

In an effort to keep the conservatives from drifting away, or worse, from fomenting an outright revolt, Republican campaign bosses told us throughout this dark period to give them our money and efforts, threatening us with the nightmare scenario of socialist utopias and Stalinist gulags if the Democrats got their way. Of course, those same brave, Republican soldiers were practicing “bipartisanship” the whole time, “reaching across the aisle” to the Democrat minority and Republican turncoats on anti-constitutional legislation and incompetent or evil judicial appointments.

Thanks to eight years of high-profile sleaze and transparent power-grabbing by the Clintons and their lawyer-thugs in expensive suits, the voters recoiled sufficiently at the prospect of Kerry and Gore to give us eight years of George W. Bush. Again, conservatives were told to give money, get out the vote, and — after each election — to sit down and shut up. Our reward was eight years of bloated spending and rampant federal bureaucratic expansion, under the brand name of “Compassionate Conservatism.”

Let me chase this cockroach of an idea out from under the refrigerator and stomp on it, once and for all.

George W. Bush’s “Compassionate Conservatism” is to “conservatism” what “armed robbery” is to “charity.” Compassionate Conservatism is neither compassionate, nor conservative. Like calling the unrestricted right to kill unborn children “pro-choice,” Compassionate Conservatism is a marketing fraud. Why should the American people have been alarmed by Republican warnings that, if elected, Obama was going to “redistribute the wealth?” The Bush administration did that for two terms. Obama just turned on the afterburner.

Bush signed McCain-Feingold (AKA: The Incumbent Hacks Protection Act), ramrodded through No Child Left Behind, and championed a colossal prescription drug welfare program. All the while, he actively promoting a storm surge of illegal immigration that overwhelmed the health care and criminal justice systems, swamped government schools, and turned entire American communities into suburbs of the Third World.

The compassion actually shown by Compassionate Conservatism was restricted largely to Democrat ideologues, illegal aliens, government bureaucracies, Saudi petrocrats, pharmaceutical companies and teachers’ unions.

Conservatives who voiced disapproval of unfettered illegal immigration were accused of lacking compassion; of being un-Christian; of wanting to deprive international trespassers of “jobs Americans won’t do.” And, in a breathtaking display of ignorance and/or arrogance, our president called American citizens who stood on our national borders as witnesses to the violation of our laws and sovereignty, “vigilantes.” To add insult to insult to injury, John McCain looked down his nose at “quote, conservatives,” as he referred to us often, and reminded us, as if from the moral high ground, that illegal aliens are “God’s children, too.” Thanks for the reminder, Reverend John.

The one issue on which all conservatives are supposed to agree about Bush is that he prevented another 9/11. Really? Am I supposed to be grateful that, between administration-mandated sensitivity classes for FBI agents on “Islam, the Religion of Peace,” those agents had time to uncover several plots to blow things up and kill people in the United States? It is certainly no thanks to the Bush administration’s slavish obeisance to political correctness that some such plots have been discovered and thwarted. Thank God for individual initiative and integrity, some plotters’ incompetence, and some good fortune.

However, like the aforementioned cockroach under the refrigerator, for every plot discovered, how many plots remain undiscovered? How many Islamist sleeper cells have slipped across our negligently unprotected borders, or been allowed to enter on “student” visas by our negligent immigration bureaucracy, carrying the components of weapons of mass destruction past negligent Homeland Security bureaucrats, while those sensitivity training sessions were going on? How many plots have not been discovered because the perpetrators have simply not been called to become active — yet?

Are we “safe” from Islamist aggression thanks to lectures from our State Department on not using terms like “Islamist aggression” — or in spite of them? If “Palestinians” are not lobbing missiles into Israeli schools and blowing themselves up in Israeli pizza parlors for a few days, is it because Condi Rice has lectured Israel on which of its appendages it should chop off next, and offer it to the bombers and missile crews as a gesture of good will? Or is it because the “Palestinians” have temporarily run out of missiles and suicide bombers?

Can we really credit George W. Bush with preventing another 9/11, when his administration could not even properly identify our enemies? Calling the struggle in which we find ourselves a “war on terror” is like calling World War II a “war on blitzkrieg,” or a “war on kamikaze.” Terror is a means to an end, not our enemy. Our self-declared enemy is the socio-political ideology of Islam, a fascist system whose adherents believe themselves to be superior to all who do not share their belief. They offer us three options: (1) Convert to Islam; (2) Live at the mercy of a dictator as a powerless underclass; or (3) Die in the war of conquest long ago declared against us. Unless we are Jews, of course, in which case our options are mostly narrowed to (3).

The Republicans’ political malpractice over the last few presidential terms has left us in debt up to our scalps, in danger of being overrun by illegal aliens, and in a fight for our lives with an enemy that our government cannot even identify, much less understand. It has left us in the hands of a devout socialist who is a “made man” product of Chicago machine politics, and a senate hack with not much going on underneath his hair plugs, other than the incubation of his next verbal gaffe.

If any of the Republican “leaders” who brought us this debacle are still in their positions of power and influence in Congress in 2012, we get the point. It will be an unambiguous indicator that the Republican Party is destined for obscurity, and deserving of nothing but contempt from the conservatives at the grassroots who have labored for decades to keep it alive.

The Stupid Party, that party of abused political hookers and back-stabbing weasels, will have made it clear to even the most loyal conservatives that we need to go elsewhere to find principled leadership.

Tom Cox
November 7, 2008
(Revised, March 5, 2011)

Life and Death in a Gun-Free Zone – Observations on the Virginia Tech Massacre

November 6, 2008

(4/30/2007) The Virginia Tech atrocity has awakened the anti-Second Amendment propaganda machine. The recent editorial in my local paper followed the Gannett papers’ party line perfectly, with a good sample of the usual lies and canards in support of gun control. WND carried a link to a disturbing column on how to confiscate legally-owned firearms from American citizens.

I won’t even address those abuses of the truth. My reaction is personal, not political.

I worked  in a job that took me inside school buildings, all over the school district, to large and small buildings, filled with toddlers to teenagers. I have a state-issued carry permit, which means my background and criminal history have been checked, and the state and county have decided there is no compelling reason for me to be denied my right to carry a concealed handgun — except, of course, in or around a school building. School buildings are “gun-free zones.”

Virginia Tech’s administrators gave themselves a pat on the back in 2006, when they helped defeat a bill in the Virginia House of Delegates that would have allowed  those students and others who had a valid carry permit to carry their firearms on campus.

They congratulated themselves on making the campus safer.

In a fantasy world where everyone obeys the rules, they would have been right. A brutal lesson in reality, in the form of a mass murder, showed them how stupidly, criminally wrong they were. People who had done no wrong paid for this hideous lesson with their lives.

For years, I have asked myself, “What would you do, old man?” What would I do, if a killer came into the school building I happened to be working in, and started making his way to posthumous celebrity by harvesting the lives of innocents. The killer might be a loner with a grievance against the world, a zealot with a political point to make (Remember Beslan? The Russians do), or he might just be a monster fueled by the worship of evil and of himself, as the VT killer appeared to be. No matter.

He would be confident, because he is a well-armed killer, in a gun-free zone. He has time, as the VT killer had, to stroll the halls, and pick out targets, reloading when the mag runs dry, relishing the fear and pain he causes, basking in the screams, seeing the blood as impromptu art. Reconciled to his own death as the dramatic climax of the action thriller of which he is the star,  producer and director, he picks his targets, punches holes in them for the life to drain out, and moves on.

What would I do? I walk out of a room to the sounds of gunfire and screaming. I turn a corner, and see a man take careful aim with a firearm, and pull the trigger. A teacher, stepping between the killer and a student, winces and falls, a bullet in the stomach. Bodies are all around her; the students she couldn’t save.

The shooter’s back is to me. He wants to put another bullet into the teacher who is crying and writhing on the floor, but the hammer falls on an empty chamber. I know he is nearly deaf at the moment, because the shot I just witnessed was incredibly loud in this concrete-floored, high-ceilinged hallway, and it is not his first. I have a few seconds to — what?

Run out the nearest exit, leave the dead and dying, the killer, and his future victims to their fate? Can I live with myself if I survive that way? The screams will haunt my sleep; the regrets and self-recriminations will poison my every waking moment from now on.

Do I run quietly up behind this rabid animal, uttering a quick prayer, and hope to pick up a weapon on the way to bludgeon him with? Finding none, do I try to strike him with my bare hands? He is a young man, fueled on adrenaline and hate, at least, reconciled to his own death, the star of the show.

I am an aging, unarmed, nonathletic civilian, and I did not make up my mind this morning that this was my day to die.

Do I strike him? Where? Do I tackle him? Kick him? What if his hearing recovers just enough to detect me coming up behind him, just as the new magazine slides home, and the first round goes into the breach? Have I just made my wife a widow? Have I added her to the killer’s list of battered lives? Will I have time to regret choosing my livelihood over my right — my obligation — to defend myself and innocent others against harm, by carrying my legal handgun into a “gun-free zone”?

All of you who have supported the idea of “gun-free zones”: these are the choices your deluded idea of “safety” have left me with. Me, and anyone saddled with a conscience, and the quaint concept that the innocent deserve to be protected against evil, even at the cost of our own lives.

Thanks for the “gun-free zone.”

I feel safer already.