Open Thread

Intense family time, not to mention the fact that my brain is obsessed with a post (article?) I’m working on regarding San Francisco.  I therefore seem to be temporarily without much to say.  I do, however, have a joke in honor of Sen. Ben Nelson (one I’ve told before under similar political circumstances), who sold out on abortion so that Americans could fund Nebraska health care in perpetuity:

Man to woman, after chatting for a while:  Will you sleep with me for $1,000,000?

Woman:  Oh, you sweet talker, you.  I think I can do that.

Man:  Will you sleep with me for $10?

Woman:  What do you take me for?  A whore?

Man:  We already know what you are.  We’re just dickering over the price.

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  • Charles Martel

    Poor Ben. Here he arrives at probably the crucial moment of his life and fails a simple question: Are you a man or are you a Democrat?

  • Gringo

    Over the years, I recall that joke being attributed to George Bernard Shaw or Winston Churchill. According to Wikiquote, it has also been attributed to Mark Twain and Bertrand Russell.

  • Mike Devx

    Book says,
    > Intense family time, not to mention the fact that my brain is obsessed with a post (article?) I’m working on regarding San Francisco.

    I’m not sure I mentioned this article before.  The breadth of corruption and incompetence in San Francisco’s government is simply astonishing.  Fuel for your fire, Book!

  • Mike Devx

    Gabriel Malor, over at Ace Of Spades – a good site – has posted a positive review of Avatar.

    He says that it’s involving, eyepopping spectacle.  The leftist stuff is there, of course, but you have to really read into it to find something *specific* to complain about.  It didn’t bother him all that much at all.  He liked it, and would see it again if his brother paid his way.  😉
    Still, I’ve been hearing more and more about a Mother Gaea – we-are-all-connected-as-one-with-Mother-Earth plotline coming out of the movie.  I hate that pseudo-new-earth-religion with a passion.  Even when I was a liberal (before 2001), I used to throw those sci-fi-fantasy books down in disgust.  You know… the ones where the Earth ITSELF wakes up one evening and decides ITSELF to kill off its humans.  Sheesh.   M Night Shyamalan’s The Happening is only the latest such “The Earth Hates Humans And Will Destroy Them Itself” diatribe.
    So I’m still unsure I could possibly enjoy Avatar, its worldview is so alien to mine.  But apparently there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had, if you can just stomach the generic anti-military, anti-business, enviroweenie tripe.

  • Bookworm

    It’s interesting, Mike, that you mention Avatar.  My family went to see it.  I declined, partly because I really didn’t want to fund Leftist movie, partly because I feared motion-sickness, and partly because the thought of 3.5 hours to myself was too precious to squander.  My son was disappointed, my daughter adored it (“it was so pretty and the story was wonderful”), and my husband said nothing, which is in itself intriguing.  He is, after all, entirely in sync with the movie’s politics.

    As for me, I’m almost done with a legal brief, I did four loads of laundry, I tidied the kitchen, I didn’t not get motion sick, and I didn’t add my $10 to the pot of Leftism.  I am, in other words, pretty pleased with myself.

  • Bookworm

    One more thing (Ace’s fairly positive review not withstanding) — I despised Titantic, classing it as one of the movies that truly wasted 2.5 hours of my life.  I’m therefore disinclined to give James Cameron 3 more hours of my life.  I think his world view is antithetical to mine, and his entertainment value very limited.

  • BrianE

    IT is getting harder for governments to buy United States Treasuries because the US’s shrinking current-account gap is reducing supply of dollars overseas, a Chinese central bank official said yesterday.

    The comments by Zhu Min, deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, referred to the overall situation globally, not specifically to China, the biggest foreign holder of US government bonds.

    Chinese officials generally are very careful about commenting on the dollar and Treasuries, given that so much of its US$2.3 trillion reserves are tied to their value, and markets always watch any such comments closely for signs of any shift in how it manages its assets.

    China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange reaffirmed this month that the dollar stands secure as the anchor of the currency reserves it manages, even as the country seeks to diversify its investments.

    In a discussion on the global role of the dollar, Zhu told an academic audience that it was inevitable that the dollar would continue to fall in value because Washington continued to issue more Treasuries to finance its deficit spending.

    He then addressed where demand for that debt would come from.

    “The United States cannot force foreign governments to increase their holdings of Treasuries,” Zhu said, according to an audio recording of his remarks. “Double the holdings? It is definitely impossible.”

    “The US current account deficit is falling as residents’ savings increase, so its trade turnover is falling, which means the US is supplying fewer dollars to the rest of the world,” he added. “The world does not have so much money to buy more US Treasuries.”

    China continues to see its foreign exchange reserves grow, albeit at a slower pace than in past years, due to a large trade surplus and inflows of foreign investment. They stood at US$2.3 trillion at the end of September.

    They cycle of life– or ‘will they still love us when we aren’t the world’s consumers’.

    When times were good, we purchased cheap stuff from China, giving them lots of dollars. In turn, they purchased government debt, which allowed us to spend more than we had and stimulate the economy, allowing us to buy even more cheap stuff from China. 

    Kind of like perpetual motion in economics.

    So now, we’re buying less cheap stuff from China– but our government continues to spend more than we have (in ever increasing quantities). 

    China is politely saying, sorry– you no buy our cheap stuff, we no buy your cheap money.

    So, what could possibly go wrong?


    From Politico:
    Perhaps the Republican criticism of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) is misplaced: Nebraska is set to reap only a fraction of the $1.2 billion in special Medicaid deals for three states.
    Vermont, which is represented by the once-wavering Sen. Bernie Sanders, would recieve $600 million over 10 years for its Medicaid costs, according to Congressional Budget Office figures requested by Senate Republicans.
    Massachusetts would see $500 million, according to the CBO.
    Nelson, who has been lambasted throughout the day, steered only (!) $100 million to his state to cost the full cost of the Medicaid expansion.
    Looks like Nelson is the cheapest whore of the lot.

  • Ymarsakar

    Book, it sounds like your son prefers more martial and epic glorious tales. What did he think of 300?

  • Bookworm

    He hasn’t seen 300 yet.  We’ve judged it too gory for a 10 year old.  But he wants to see it….

  • suek

    >>China is politely saying, sorry– you no buy our cheap stuff, we no buy your cheap money.>>
    Love it!

  • Ymarsakar

    I’m watching Avatar now.
    They mentioned that the Marines and Army soldiers once fought for freedom but are now on the corporation’s dime. And gives no background context for this, other than to make the narrative claim.
    This is called the brain dead cult of the Left, where declamation is the same as reality and truth.
    In the jungles of the world, the ‘security detail’ consists of one person armed with an automatic, against known threats sporting natural armor plate. This, again, is an example of brain dead emotionalism, aka Liberalism, fake liberals, and the Democrat party. For maximum penetration and survival against large indigenous dinosaurs, one must carry calibers in excess of .50, and perhaps in excess of 1.0 caliber.

    The Left are so proud of the ‘evil power of the gun’ that they think making opponents immune to its effects is a ‘smart thing’. Something courageous, even. And they choose the ‘machine gun’ because it is the most ‘scary totem’ of the Left. Idiots, again, and hypocrites to boot. Those that talk about refusing a life of violence, makes use of the life of violence to make bucks, but stupidly.

    <B>And the movie takes pains in the first five minutes to emphasize that the mercenaries are, well, mercenaries hired by the Company and not part of any military.</b>
    It takes pains to say that all these Marines and Army people who once fought for freedom, are now fighting on the coporation’s dime. Not part of any military? Or just not part of any military worth respect?

    Don’t be left clueless by the propaganda, if you don’t know how to replicate it. More later

  • Ymarsakar

    Book, Legend of the Galactic Heroes is even more gory in some episodes ; )
    It’s hard to find real epic stories about true leaders. Much has been corrupted by Hollywood. The stories that do exist, exist in novel form because book authors have more interest in an objective research of the real world, rather than an ideological one. But it is hard to make books into movies. Something is lost in the translation.
    And like reading great literature, much of the meaning is in the context of the author’s lives, rather than in the lore of such a thing as the Lord of the Rings, for example. Context that isn’t provided in the movies.
    Humanity once treated epic sagas as entertainment. Because it fed directly to the perceived interests and problems of normal people, except in a more glorious mold. People could imagine what could be, and thus withstand a life of weary toil. Now that our lives are full of convenience and technological wonders, we have forgotten the epic story of human advancement in favor of the story of non-human preference. People prefer things that are not human, all the while, serving their own human greed and corruption.

  • Ymarsakar

    I finished watching Avatar.

    It’s a bad story because neither the good guys nor the bad guys are what you would find in reality. Could there be a government backed private group that exploits the natives for their natural resources? Sure, we call one such organization ACORN or the SEIU unions. They are not unthinkable, you know.
    But I’ve never heard of a for profit organization, that wasn’t backed up by an ideology or government power plays, who would risk so much for so little. Most corporate sharks would cut the lifeline on a project if the estimated costs exceed 10% of predicted values, let alone 50% casualties or more than that.
    How much is this unobtanium? Worth a 5 year expedition and the research/development as well as the logistics of transferring fuel, munitions, maintenance, and skilled warriors from one solar system to the other? Yes, inexcess even. That means those assets are pre-planned to be able to net the proper profit margin. So what gives the corporate shark here the thought that he could expend ALL his munitions and military firepower, and not even GET THE GOODS? What kind of fauking idiot does that when his motive is profit. Unless you completely wipe out all resistance and life, there is absolutely no point in devoting even 50% of your total armed forces to a mission. Let alone the needless and wasteful expenditure of munitions and fuel for what was in the end, some guy’s personal crusade against trees.
    In case these idiots hadn’t noticed, when you send an expedition that takes 5 years of cold sleep to get there, there are NO QUARTERLY reports. The stock holders would have been prepared to write this expedition off as a complete loss, for they won’t hear anything about it for a minimum of 10 years. And if they had light speed communications, they would have been in contact with the natives with a small scouting force for years before the advent of any military expedition, which means that the Gone Native guy would have already existed.
    Now it makes sense that if you are going to devote this much investment on the hope of getting unobtanium, which sounds profitable, then you will want to back it up with as much military force as you can, to prevent competitors, accidents, internal dissension, and hostile natives from crapping on your investment. That is just common sense. But those forces are there to…. roll the drums, protect the MINING EXPEDITION. They are not there to make war on the natives and they sure as hell aren’t there to bomb the natives with ‘shock and awe’, while leaving their own base completely Fing defenseless.
    They are there for the ore, period. How they get the ore should not matter. The corporate sharks would have been first and foremost concerned about mining the ore. And if there is a threat, the corporate shark would refuse to attack and demand that military forces be held to protect his hide. If some idiot was dumb enough to try to get people to attack the natives, there would be huge internal dissension, because this is a corporate contract, not under military discipline except informally.

    Even at the least risk scenario, the corporate executives would have balked at expending so much munitions to blow up a tree, knowing that the natives will commit to an eternal insurgency against any mining operations that occur there. And while you can protect your helicopters and armored exo skeletons from arrows, that doesn’t mean some guy mining or some machinery left unattended, won’t get sabotaged, and your precious profit margin marginalized. That is the truth of all insurgencies.
    While it is true that often times Democrat and Leftist profit motivated organizations are apt to overstate the power of the gun and understate the power of the spear, amongst the Marines and combat troops this adage is accepted as true. There are no dangerous weapons: only dangerous people. Even if they were convinced that they would take no casualties from attacking the natives, they would still know that so long as the natives lived in a state of hostility towards the humans, they would be a continual threat. Thus any military campaign designed to expel the natives, would also attempt to exterminate as many as they could, once they fled their former home. And that would have required more expenditure of munitions and fuel, which corporate sharks aren’t apt to be so happy about.
    If, as an alternative, you had already invested a butt load of money into more than 3 Avatars, why would the company bean counters not wish to utilize this investment to its maximum potential? When offered a diplomatic solution, they would not allow the military security officer to make the calls and they would certainly not undercut their diplomatic representative by trying to bulldoze him over.  Bean counters, in case people hadn’t noticed, are BEAN COUNTERS. They don’t care about threats or reality, so long as their money is accounted for. The very last thing they would authorize after shelling out cash for such expensive projects, is to shell out even more cash for military fuel and munitions so that they can blow up the efforts of the Avatars. To a certain extent, the distance from civilization allows the CEO some freedom of movement, but when he returns, he knows he had better have a crap load of unobtanium. And the only way to do that is to preserve the forces he has to protect the mining operations, because THOSE ARE THE ONLY ONES HE WILL GET for the next 5 some odd years. And if he calls home for more, he may just be sacked for incompetence.
    This is why you shouldn’t have Leftist Hollywood directors plan the defensive strategy of your nation. Or the offensive strategy. Or the logistics train. Or anything else for that matter. They are stupid as unobtanium. You could put a gun to their heads and blow their brains out and they wouldn’t lose much thinking capacity.
    Oh, btw, tribal chiefs are made tribal chiefs because the people of the tribe trust in the tribal chief not to screw them over. That means they trust the clan leader to protect the interests of all (Unlike the black Obama African chief, elected to just protect his own family’s interests), and the chief isn’t there because he is strongest of all but because he is seen as the best and most honest person that is also wise enough to steer the clan through troubles with other clans, the environment, famine, etc. That means if a freaking tribal chief ever came across some guy from the “Sky People”, he would first and foremost begin talking to him and attempting to learn as much as he can concerning the motivations and capabilities of this potential new threat as he can. He’s not just going to get somebody else to handle him and then sit on his thumbs for the next 3 months.
    Leftists think these noble savages aren’t interested in data on the enemy or diplomatic efforts, because they see noble savages as …. primitive but noble. But they suffer the same facts of life as the rest of us. Food, shelter, famine, infant mortality, war with other tribes, death to predators, etc. You think this kind of life makes leaders dull like a stone age savage? That’s a Leftist conceit, where they believe their civilization and culture gives them ‘the right to rule’. Primitive societies know that you need a strong and wise leader, or else your clan will starve and die out.
    But let’s just say that the CEo knows more people and competitors are going to come, so he is feeling rushed to a ‘military solution’ to the Native Problem. So the natives, by first ignoring the threat then blowing up the threat, now must face the next human expeditionary force. And this is to the benefit of the natives… how? They would have been better to achieve a peaceful solution in order to get as best a bargaining position as they can, when the next fleet of human invaders come in wanting a piece of the land. And the CEO on the spot would have been better to reach a peaceful business deal between trusted parties, rather than expending force in a gamble to quell the locals, which means he will be militarily weakened once human competitors come. And if you don’t believe human competitors won’t murder, sabotage, and assassinate the opposition in a system 5 years out from the nearest human base, you haven’t seen how humans act in the jungle of LA or any other slum.
    This is the point, however. The Left doesn’t know how to solve your problems. They only know how to create them, but can’t get the solutions that will benefit both. Force, in the end, is their only answer. Their way, or the highway. Trusting in the Left to protect your interests is like voting for Obama to make America better. You’d have better chances taking your dick and slicing off a piece hoping that in the future they can reconstruct while paying you money.

  • Ymarsakar

    OH btw, as an addendum, if Earth is really divested of plant life because ‘humans killed Gaia’, then the biological cornucopia on Pandora would be astronomical in worth. More ingredients for pharmacological products nets immense market value, because humans want longer and better life. And the elites and those with money, most of all. The idea that Pandora’s ecological life may be worth more than the ore itself, is not a farfetched idea. At least not if your motivation is profit.

    And guess what, the investment in a mining operation on a jungle world of hostile natives is far more than an operation designed to harvest ecological byproducts.
    But people can believe the future world of humanity is still only interested in metal and what’s in the ground, like oil, if they wish. It’s a product of their faulty education and imagination, however. Not worth the cost they paid for it in the end.
    Let’s see what else do I have in mind…
    If your son is bored with the movie, Book, then educate him on the reality behind the movie. Even a feckless Leftist piece on their own stupidity, can have entertainment worth when viewed a certain way.
    The flying scenes were entertaining and so was the aborted attempt at diplomacy, although it cast less light on the human force than on the humans directing the movie.

  • BrianE

    Those interested in the economic trends should read this article at American Thinker:

    I tend to agree with one of the commenters their that stagflation is the new depression given the most often reckless manipulation of the economy by the new economists.

    Another statistic I ran across– bank reserves held at the Fed have increased from $10 billion in August 2008 to $1 trillion today. This is money available to enter the economy through loans.

    Another statistic that just came out was the reduced GDP growth in the third quarter from 3.5% to 2.2%. When adjusted for Cash for Clunkers and home buyer rebates the figure is closer to .7%. If the economy retracts going forward (and that is likely) this reserve may be lent to prop up the GDP figures.

    Our ability to inflate the economy via the printing press may be insufficient to stave off an inevitable deflation though. Government deficit spending is around 20% of GDP currently (accounting for the accounting gimmicks of DC).