Bush Prepares the Keynesian Free Market Wrecking Ball

Bush may tap strategic oil reserve as prices soar:

Hurricane Katrina disrupted Gulf Coast petroleum output and rattled energy markets on Monday, sending oil and natural gas prices soaring and setting the stage for a spike in the retail cost of gasoline.

The Bush administration said it would consider lending oil from the nation’s emergency stockpile to refiners that request it and the president of OPEC said he will propose a production increase of 500,000 barrels a day at the cartel’s meeting next month.

Given that the Middle East remains relatively unstable, that one of the largest exporters in this hemisphere has a mad-on for freedom, and that a rising rival power’s consumption of the existing supply is growing, I’d rather we save the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for just in case the s really hits the f beyond consumer inconvenience and price increases. Call it a foolish consistency, but I opposed the last president’s proposed release as well.

I mean, where does the government’s meddling in free markets end? With increased home seizures when the housing bubble “bursts,” so better to spur demand and keep the supply tight? Oh, no, you say? Why the heck not?

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Book Report: Movies and TV: The New York Public Library Book of Answers by Melinda Corey and George Ochoa (1992)

I paid $1.00 for this book last week at the J. I totally consumed it because I’m into trivia. Speaking of which, this book has the longest title of anything I’ve read in the last two years.

This book is kinda like a FAQ, especially FAQs like a former employer wanted me to write back when I was a technical writer: Just make up some questions. Actually, this is a little different, as someone did ask these questions of the New York Public Library.

The book focuses on movies, mostly classic movies, and television, mostly early television. Hopefully I have absorbed enough information to keep me competitive with MC Jazzy Pianist, the other anchor of the North Side Mind Flayers but sometimes a rival in non-official trivia events.

So I now know where RKO studios went and who played Joe Friday’s partner in the second television go-round of Dragnet (although I already knew that–perhaps I’m not keeping up after all). I did note an interesting confluence, whether real or perceived: a lot of long-running television series went off of the air in the early 1970s. A lot of shows seemed to run from the radio days through the new medium and right up until 1971 or 1974 or whatever. Someone could make a persuasive paper about how this reflects the changing of the guard from the “Greatest Generation” to the “Me-est Generation.” No doubt more academically-minded people than I have tried.

So is the book worth a buck? Of course not, Mike. Nothing to see here. Move along.

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Husband Pleads Innocent

Somehow, some way, this blog is the number 1 search hit on Yahoo! for:

when your husband thinks you are better than him

I plead innocent, honey.

Update: Certain elements of the household have shown me how, due to the unique nature of Yahoo! algorhthyms, this result isn’t always number one on different computers, even different computers in the same house. Ah, well, obviously I’ve already had the incident purged from my record.

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Book Report: Strip Tease by Carl Hiaasen (1993)

I paid $1.00 for this book at the annual J book fair last Sunday. I’ve already read it. I like Carl Hiaasen. Perhaps it’s because he doesn’t write series (of which I’m aware), so he has something different going on in each one and can’t just phone in a rehash of previous novels without any forward momentum on recycled characters.

This book starts off too slowly, really, with a hodgepodge of characters with something happening, but little risk or empathy to drive me along. When an out-of-control philandering Congressman goes nuts in a strip club and beats a bachelor attending his bachelor party unconscious, his fixers have to deal with the aftermath: a customer infatuated with a dancer who recognizes the Congressman despite his disguise, a smalltime chiseling lawyer soon-to-be-related to the bachelor by marriage who thinks blackmail, a well-read bouncer who wants to get rich on fraudulent lawsuits, and a stripper who only wants to get her little girl back from her felonious ex-husband, and the ex-husband who wants more pills and a better buzz for more audacious wheelchair theft.

It’s a crime fiction farce of the Hiaasen mold, with the southern Florida landscape to explain the eccentricity and a social message hidden among the shenanigans. Man, 1993. What an innocent time.

As I mentioned, the book starts jumbled and slow, but if you stick with it, you’ll come to enjoy it. Although it’s hopefully excused for its shortcomings by being early in Hiaasen’s career, it’s worth a buck.

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At Least I’m Not Jimmy Stewart

John Wayne

You scored 52% Tough, 4% Roguish, 28% Friendly, and 14% Charming!

You, my friend, are a man’s man, the original true grit, one tough
talking, swaggering son of a bitch. You’re not a bad guy, on the
contrary, you’re the ultimate good guy, but you’re one tough character,
rough and tumble, ready for anything. You call the shots and go your
own way, and if some screwy dame is willing to accept your terms,
that’s just fine by you. Otherwise, you’ll just hit the open trail and
stay true to yourself. You stand up for what you believe and can handle
any situation, usually by rushing into the thick of the action. You’re
not polished and you’re not overly warm, but you’re a straight shooter
and a real stand up guy. Co-stars include Lauren Bacall and Maureen
O’Hara, tough broads who can take care of themselves.

Find out what kind of classic leading man you’d make by taking the
Classic Leading Man Test.

(Link seen on Rocket Jones.)

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Book Report: Deliver Us From Evil by Sean Hannity (2004)

I received this book as a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law, so I feel almost bad about savaging the book, but since she doesn’t read the blog any more, like everyone else but you, gentle reader, I will do so.

For starters, when I opened the book, I thought I would hate it more than I did. Because I don’t like the sound of Sean Hannity’s voice. I can’t fathom how someone with a voice like that could make it big in broadcasting whereas someone with a deep, soothing voice like mine toils away on a backblogwater like this, but there you go. So I prepared to trepid (to coin a verb from a noun like all the cool kids do) this book.

I’ve found myself avoiding books of the current events polemic sort since I spend a lot of time reading blogs and commentary on the Internet. These books don’t add a lot to the columns, to the radio program commentary, to the blog entries of writers who collect or stretch them. Nor do they expect a long shelf-life of backlist sales or continuing relevance. Face it, any of these books with the commentator’s picture on the cover is designed to face outward on the book stores’ shelves. The minute they’re turned spine out, forget it. They’re on the remainder shelf.

But I digress. The point of the book is that appeasers of evil are themselves evil. That is, Democrats who didn’t oppose the Nazis, the Communists, or the Islamofascists are evil. Hardly a novel idea, but Sean Hannity draws from voluminous sources, duly end-noted, to support his thesis. Unfortunately, my cursory glance at the end notes indicates that most of Hannity’s support comes from other commentary making his same arguments. So it’s just like reading a log blog entry.

A year after this book was written, it’s already showing its age. His roll-up of potential 2004 Democrat candidates for president, for example, was worthless in its handicapping and won’t even merit a footnote in history, since history will pick better sources. Considering it collects common arguments, thoughts, and clichés, I will have forgotten this book by the time next Christmas rolls around.

But, on the bright side, I didn’t hear Hannity’s voice in my head after a couple dozen pages. And the book didn’t challenge me, like Sartre, Doestoyevski, or George Frost Kennan, so it didn’t take too long.

Sorry, Ms. Igert.

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It Pays To Specialize, But Sometimes Not Much

Thieves specialized in taking change from unlocked cars, police say:

Bicycle-riding bandits rode the trails between Edwardsville and Granite City at night, hopping off their bikes to steal from hundreds of unlocked cars in subdivisions during the past six months, Granite City police allege.

They didn’t damage any vehicles, and it appears they ignored expensive stereos, preferring to steal cash and change, said Capt. Jeff Connor. “Their main goal was to gather all the change they could,” he said. And they ignored vehicles with locked doors, he said.

One would hope this crime would bring less of a sentence than, say, a football player killing someone while driving drunk, but with today’s court system, who can say?

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Countdown to the Memory Hole

This story made a big splash in the conservative blog clique yesterday and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch covered it, but we can begin the countdown until it’s forgotten: Girl’s story of dad was a hoax, paper says:

For two years, Carbondale residents have been riveted by the writing of a little girl imploring her father in Iraq: “Don’t die, OK?”

Only now are they learning there was never any danger of that.

The Daily Egyptian, Southern Illinois University’s student-run newspaper, today will admit to its readers that the saga – of a little girl’s published letters to her father serving in Iraq – was apparently an elaborate hoax perpetrated by a woman who claimed to be the girl’s aunt.

In fact, the newspaper will report today, the man identified as the girl’s father was never in Iraq, and it was the woman who apparently wrote the letters and regular columns that were published under the little girl’s name – and even impersonated the girl in telephone interviews.

For starters, let’s be clear this is not a Carbondale newspaper, it’s a University newspaper. This doesn’t excuse the way it occurred, but it does explain. They weren’t professionals. They were professionals in training. As sad as that prospect is, we’re not talking reporters nor editors with decades of experience. One would expect most editors on the paper had a couple of years of experience at the most.

It also might explain how the students’ ideology could have played a greater role in their ignorance if possible: students don’t even have to temper their drive to improve the world by remaking it in their image. In real papers, editors, publishers, and the positions to whom student reporters often aspire have to at least genuflect to the concepts of circulation and shareholders, but school papers exist at the indulgence of the schools and don’t have to even consider remaining palatable to customers.

Here’s a sample of the writing that “captivated” Carbondale, or at least the university students, or perhaps no one really but the paper itself:

“I’m rily mad at you and you make my hart hurt,”‘ she purportedly wrote in one published letter to the president. “I don’t think your doing a very good job. You keep sending soldiers to Iraq and it’s not fair. Do you have a soldier of your own in Irak?”

Still, I’m probably not the only one to notice that scandals involving more populist/liberal newspapers involve making it all up, a la Michael Barnicle, Jayson Blair, the rest of the staff of the New York Times, Stephen Glass, and so on. Conservative commentators tend to get smeared not for making crap up, but for selling their writing talent for money (numerous lesser lights whose names I forget), for payola (that Armstrong guy I never heard of) or for unrelated issues (Rush Limbaugh).

So there you have my thoughts on the matter. Here are some others:

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Crikes, I’ve got this mosquito bite on my neck like an inch from my jugular. You know that mosquito will be telling his friends about that bite, ad nauseum, for the rest of his life.

Probably a week tops, unless he tries that stunt again, in which case I’ll spill my own blood if needed to truncate his existence.

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Four Drug Minimum

Lawsuit calls execution method cruel:

Even as the state prepares to execute Timothy Johnston next week for killing his wife, a lawsuit questioning the method of execution remains unresolved.

The suit on behalf of Johnston, 44, claims Missouri’s three-drug method of lethal injection violates his constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment. It was filed more than a year ago in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, and the court denied the state’s motion to dismiss it as frivolous.

Being a logician who understands Boolean logic, if everyone gets the three-drug execution, it’s not cruel and unusual.

One wonders what number of injections it takes to be humane.

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No Original Ideas Left for Movie Lawsuits, Either

Court reinstates Terminator lawsuit:

An appeals court has ruled that an Australian couple can sue director James Cameron over an effect used in the film “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.”

Filia and Constantinos Kourtis claim that they came up with the idea for a character that changes shape for a 1987 movie called “The Minotaur.”

Meanwhile, ancient tribes from the British Isles have consulted their lawyers for the Kourtises’ theft of the concept of the changeling, shapeshifting “monsters” who stole children (like the young John Connor–see?!) and ancient Greeks have filed preperatory paperwork on the title, which refers to a monster first slain by Theseus, whose story was told by entertainers in Athens before even James Cameron was born.

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Dancing on the End of a Pin

This distinction seems rather superfluous:

Al-Banna has been accused of carrying out one of Iraq’s deadliest suicide bombing — the February 28 attack in Hillah that killed 125 people.

But the Jordanian government and al-Banna’s family said he carried out a different suicide bombing in Iraq in which he was killed. The terrorist group al Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility for the Hillah bombing.

I mean, does this affect some sort of over/under betting or what?

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The Smell of Unelected Legislatures In the Morning

Someone loves them, and no surprise, it’s the unelected legislatures themselves:

Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont came together in 2003 to form a coalition, known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, in order to explore a market-driven cap-and-trade system for carbon dioxide emissions in the absence of mandatory emissions reductions at the national level.

Phil Cherry, policy director at Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources said the proposal, as it is currently written, caps emissions of carbon dioxide at 150 million tons a year starting in 2009. Under the proposed guidelines, emission reductions would be required starting in 2015, which would ramp up to a 10 percent cut in 2020.

“The proposal is a draft and some of the details have yet to be worked out,” Cherry told Reuters. He said that the document will be sent to power producers who will have a chance to comment on it formally at a meeting on September 21.

Once a final agreement is reached, legislatures or regulators in the nine states will have to approve it.

Not a state legislature and not Congress, but a “regional initiative” appoints itself to make laws for the states under its jurisdiction. I fail to see how this could pass an Interstate Commerce Clause challenge, but then again, it regulates interstate commerce and not individual states’ internal legislation.

Well, what else can the rulers do when the unwashed, power-loving masses elect people of the wrong mindset?

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Good Governance 2005

Samples of good governance and bureacracy, August 2005:

  • Country Club Hills Mayor is charged with theft and forgery:

    In a plea deal between Hood and defense attorney Clinton Wright, [Country Club Hills Mayor Felton E.] Flagg must come up with restitution at his sentencing or face at least three years in prison. If he pays back the money he stole, Flagg can expect five years of probation, and either 90 days in jail or 120 days on an electronic monitor.

    Afterwards, Flagg said he intended to remain as mayor of Country Club Hills where he was re-elected in April to a two-year term. He referred all other questions to Wright, who said Flagg planned to pay back the money he took. Flagg has been mayor of the city adjacent to Norwood Hills Country Club since 1997.

  • Two convicted in vote-buying scheme in East St. Louis rehired:

    Two people recently convicted in a vote-buying scheme in East St. Louis have been rehired by the city.

    Sheila Thomas and Jesse Lewis were back at their jobs in the department of regulatory affairs yesterday. Thomas is a clerk and Lewis a housing inspector.

    Both were fired after their June convictions and they’re due to be sentenced in October.

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Norman Mineta Determines Vehicles Are Too Inexpensive, and You Are To Dumb to Participate In Supply and Demand

New fuel economy rules unveiled:

Speaking from Atlanta, Department of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and Jeffrey Runge, the current administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said that under the new plan, the light truck segment will be broken into six different categories based on weight and vehicle type, with the smallest vehicles forced to get better mileage than larger ones.

Minivans, which are currently bound by federal standards to get 21 miles per gallon, will be required to have a fuel efficiency of 23.3 miles per gallon by the time the program is fully implemented in 2011.

The fuel economy of small SUVs would improve by as much as nine miles per gallon from their current standard of 19 miles per gallon, Mineta said.

“This plan is good news for American consumers because it will ensure that the vehicles that they buy will get more miles to the gallon and ultimately save them money,” said Mineta.

Personally, I await the dicta that:

  • Bubblewrap completely surround all exterior vehicle surfaces to ensure that the vehicles that American consumers buy will not sustain damage in accidents;
  • Catalytic converters include potpourri burners to ensure that the vehicles that American consumers buy will produce sweet-smelling pollution with each mile driven.
  • Onboard computer vocal reminders of local laws being broken to ensure that the vehicles that American consumers buy will remind them, but not prevent them, from committing moving violatations. (Removed at request of local municipalities and states)
  • White noise machines to ensure that the vehicles that American consumers buy will block out distractions like cell phone conversations, conversations with passengers, the radio, and other sounds which might prove distracting and make driving more dangerous.

Because The Government must make decisions for you, infantile citizen. Increasing costs of petroleum prices won’t cause you to alter your travel habits or inspire you to purchase more fuel-efficient vehicles. Instead, like all addictions, your dependence upon petroleum will drive you to steal, rob, and murder to support your habit.

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