Friday, December 19, 2008

 

Open Thread

Yep, light posting this week between pre-holiday stuff and extra workload at the day job. So, give me your Christmas plans and what you hope to get from Santa here!

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Same-Sects Marriage?

Ben Smith links to a fascinating post explaining the seemingly unusual Obama-Rick Warren connection.

It was one thing to go to Saddleback Church and have a conversation with Warren -- but inviting him to give the convocation at the Inauguration?
Ticking off gays in the process? Why would Obama do it? This post goes a long way to explaining the above-ideology link the two have.

Something Smith doesn't explicitly address, but the religious concept of "tithing" goes a long way to explaining the outrageous amounts of money that both Warren and Obama manage to raise. On the other hand, it should also be a bit troubling to those who already feel that the Obama "movement" leans a bit too much messianic.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

 

Time Shocker!

Person of the Year!

Unbelievable choice -- no one could have seen this coming!

Seriously, this one was a no-brainer -- so much so that they should have just conceded it to Obama (how many covers had he previously appeared on?) -- and gone for a "trend" idea like "the economy" or "The Next Depression" or something similar.

But, hey, Obama was the story of the year -- defeated the Clinton machine, broke apart the blue/red lock of the last couple elections, became the first "black" (however that term is defined) person elected president.

So, as Robert Redford said in "The Candidate" -- now, what?

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"Austere" = More Taxes

New York's Gov. David Paterson unveiled his 2009 budget proposal, which The New York Times calls "austere." Paterson, himself, invoked doomsday imagery over the huge fiscal challenges facing the country and the state. However, looking at what Paterson actually proposed, one realizes that only in New York could a $121 billion budget -- that increases spending by $1.3 billion -- be considered "austere."

Cutbacks to help close a $15.4 billion deficit? Hah! As the Manhattan Institute's Empire Center project points out, New York state added more than 8,000 jobs to the public payroll over the last two years (the bulk of those hires were by disgraced former Gov. Eliot Spitzer). Yet, of that number Paterson is only laying off 521 (he expects to find other savings through 2,500 attritions -- right).

Where's the austerity? Well that's something that residents have to practice. Because, New Yorkers are facing some
137 hikes in taxes and fees. That includes proposed increases in taxes on tobacco, wine, beer and non-diet soda (seriously!). And, something that will undoubtedly endear New York to Apple, Amazon and other online retailers -- a tax on music downloads. Well, this is predictable, but appropriate given the circumstances:



Well, not that "Apple," but you get the idea.

This is interesting. New York is essentially run by Democrats right now (though there is bargaining over the state Senate, because of three smarmy Democratic senators who are trying to cut a deal to decide whom they support for majority control). The question rises: Can Democrats actually put together a sane budget without taxing everyone to death? Paterson's first stab at the budget suggests "no." And this is before many of the usual interest groups -- particularly unions -- get their hand into the pie. Indeed, they are already screaming about the unfairness of the situation just in reaction to one of Paterson's few good ideas -- trying to place some restraints on
public-sector employees pensions.

Painful times in the Empire State.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

 

Quite A Feat!

The obvious jokes: Bush looked into the Iraqi sole...




Well, at least Iraqi journalists don't pretend to be "objective".

One serious thought though: This guy was able to throw a shoe at near point-blank range. Bush's rather remarkable reflexes (seriously) prevented him from being hit. But, if the president of the United States is visiting Iraq, shouldn't Americans be confident that he would be safe enough that he wouldn't potentially get beaned by a guy's shoes?

Or is it the case that Secret Service agents are expected to stop a bullet -- but not size 10s?

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