Obama Will Get What Obama Wants

November 30, 2008

On Oct 15th, I wrote the following about Barack Obama…

He’s just a new old-school Chicago politician. Sure he has associated with Ayers and Wright, but he’s obviously not a terrorist or a racist. He’s simply too bright. But O is tough…

Read that, “The ‘Loony Left’ and the “Hard Right” are both going to be surprised by the President elect. Consider the following:

  • His chosen economic team is by all accounts fairly centrist.
  • He’s keeping Gates as Secretary of Defense.
  • You know those tax cuts for the wealthy? Well Obama might just keep those and let them expire after all.
  • 2.5 million jobs… Create? Or “Create or save…”
  • And then there’s his change in his stance on the war in Iraq.

And so it goes…

Now compare all of the above with the various reasons why he shouldn’t be president. The contrast is stunning and stark, and the lesson is very clear – Mr. Obama will do what needs to be done, say what needs to be said, and associate with whoever to get his way. (George Packer wrote a fantastically true sentence that touched on this in the New Yorker when he wrote,

“Obama, whatever the idealistic yearnings of his admirers, has turned out to be a cold-eyed, shrewd politician.”)

No, Obama isn’t going to fit a preconceived mold, no matter how attractively that mold was cast. And he also isn’t going to look into anyone’s eye and “get a sense of his soul”. The only thing Obama is going to get is exactly what he wants.

The big question is, “What exactly does the President-elect really want?”

Alan Speakman


An Eye For An Eye–Or Two

November 29, 2008

For once, I almost agree with a principle of Sharia law. In 2004, an Iranian man (Majid Movahedi) burned and blinded a woman by throwing acid into her face because she refused his marriage proposals. And in retribution an Iranian court just ruled that he should receive the same treatment. If this is what really happened, then the punishment seems to fit the crime (to me anyway). Except that the punishment simply isn’t practical.

The problem is that people who exercise extraordinary cruelty for cruelty’s sake continue to do so even after they’re punished, or are in the process of being punished. Consider Lawrence Singleton, Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, and Robert Stroud.

While an acid facewash might be just punishment for Movahedi, it isn’t a practical one. Animals like Majid are always going to be a threat regardless of their incarceration, age, or infirmity.  And they should be put down as such.

No… Acid is appropriate, but just not practical.

Alan Speakman


Christmas Stampede

November 28, 2008

Michelle Catalano and the Anchoress have written about how best to Christmas shop during a recession, and what lessons can be learned — and taught — about the spirit of Christmas. Both articles are well worth reading and re-reading throughout the holiday season. But there are also demons to be faced.

As shoppers faced a heavily-hyped Friday of deep discounts, early-bird specials, and break of dawn store openings, tragedy struck. At a Wal-Mart this morning, an employee died while trying to open the store doors to let the early-bird customers in. Apparently those customers, eager for bargains and ready to out-elbow and out-grab each other, ended up breaking the door and trampling the employee to death.

For the past week at least, television, radio, newspapers, and the internet have all been blaring advertisements of early openings and huge savings to be had on their self-styled “Black Friday,” attempting to whip consumers into a dollar-hemorrhaging frenzy. Well, it worked. Early morning lines of customers waiting for the magic hour of 5am or 6am or 7am, and I’m sure at the end of the day, these stores will gleefully account this day another pre-Christmas selling success story.

It’s human nature to want to give gifts. In many ways, it’s so much easier to give than to receive. Giving presents is a way to show that we care; giving expensive presents must prove that we care a lot. Doesn’t matter whether we can afford them. It makes us feel good, it makes us look good, ergo, it must be okay.

Stop and think. Is our desire to buy stuff, our avarice, worth the price of a human life? Is it worth the grief and anguish that victim’s family is going through right now? Is it worth the injuries sustained by other workers and even shoppers who were caught in the stampede? No, of course not. We all need to slow down, turn off the television, disregard the blandishments of one-time-only deals, and think about what we truly value, and what gifts from the heart will make the most impact on those we love.

During the upcoming holiday season, let us strive to lift ourselves up; to avoid, where possible, the siren’s song of commercialism; and remember what Christmas is truly all about.

“Fear not!” The greatest gift of all was about to arrive for humankind, and it was announced not by one-of-a-kind deals and early store openings for avid consumers, but by glorious angels to humble shepherds. Perhaps we can reach out and embrace the humility of the very first announcement of Christmas, and this year try giving gifts of love, from deep inside the heart. “Fear not!” That is what Christmas is all about.



As God Is My Witness…

November 28, 2008

For those of you who are still recovering from the effects of Thursday’s gorging, laughter is definitely good exercise.

Hope your Thanksgiving was filled with family, fun, gratitude, and great food.


The Tragic Birth and Impecunious Demise of the Greatest Generation

November 27, 2008

I was watching a pathetic bit of news a couple of nights ago – Right now, about 1,200 members of the military’s “Greatest Generation” are dying per day. That’s probably a good indicator of the mortality rate of their entire generation. And to think what they went through… Some were born into a crushing depression or at least knew of the disaster of WWII at a very young age. But they got us through “The Big War”, rebuilt Europe and Japan, slogged through both the Korean and Viet Nam Wars, created NASA, etc.

So after all that, where is the “Greatest Generation” now, and what are they facing? According to AARP of those Americans aged 65 and older, 59% “found it more difficult to pay for essential items such as food, gas and medicine” due to the economic slowdown. How can that be and just how bad is the economy? How can we put this in perspective for everyone including the folks who saved the world back in the ’40s?

Consider this… According to CNBC, here are the costs (with inflation factored in) of various large U.S. expenditures:

  • Hoover Dam: $.782 billion
  • Panama Canal: $7.9 billion
  • Gulf War I: $98 billion
  • Marshall Plan: $115.3 billion
  • Louisiana Purchase: $217 billion
  • Race to the moon: $237 billion
  • Savings and loan crisis: $256 billion
  • Korean War: $454 billion
  • New Deal: $500 billion
  • Gulf War/War On Terror: $597 billion
  • Viet Nam War: $698 billion
  • All of NASA since it started: $851 billion

All told, the total cost of all those projects comes up to $4031.982 billion dollars or $4,031,982,000,000. (Yeah, that’s four trillion dollars.) But let’s stop right here and explain to Grandpa that according to Jenna Lee on Fox News, the total costs of all the bailouts will be probably add up to something on the order of 6.8 trillion dollars. (CNN paints a less rosy picture at $7,000,000,000,000, but I’ll stick with Ms. Lee’s numbers because I’m an optimist and besides I’ve already done the math based on her calculations. Besides, what’s a couple hundred billion between friends?)

But Grandpa can’t grasp the magnitude of a number like 6.8 trillion dollars. Cripes! All of WWII “only” cost $3.6 trillion by today’s measure. Maybe the following will help you, Gramps: Imagine the U.S. Mint making a new silver dollar of exactly 1″ in diameter. And imagine that we discovered a way to weld those silver dollars edge to edge (not face to face) to make a flat sort of a “silver dollar chain”. So far, so good right?. If we could do that and make it super strong, we could even make our “silver dollar chain” stretch the 240,000 miles to the moon – that’s 15,206,400,000 inches worth of silver dollars or apx. 15.2 billion dollars. But in the scale of the total bailout disaster $15.2 billion is chump change.

Nope… We’ve got to make us another “silver dollar chain” consisting of 15,206,400,000. But that only gets us to a wimpy $30.4 billion. (At least we could place the second chain beside the first and have one monumental “Hot Wheels” track!) “Ummm…” Grand Pappy peevishly asks, “How many ‘15.2 billion dollar silver chains’ to the moon would you fiscally-irresponsible whippersnappers need to cover the cost of the 6.8 trillion dollar bailout?“Ahhh… Errr… We’d need 447” is our pathetic response. That’s a 2- to 3-lane highway of one-inch silver dollars welded edge to edge stretching from here to the moon.

As frightening as the above sounds, that’s the good news. The bad news is that almost no one dares speak the name of the “S-Squared M-Squared Monster”, (Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid). That beast is going to run up around $50,000,000,000,000 or 50 trillion dollars or a 10-lane “silver dollar chain” highway to the moon. And here’s the kicker… Our GDP is only apx. $12 trillion. Taking into account interest, we’re building an economic bridge to the moon we can’t finish.

You don’t have to be an economist to see the handwriting on the wall… Sooner or later (I’m guessing 2012), it’s all going to fall apart. And fortunately or unfortunately (depending on how you view things), some of the the “Greatest Generation” will have to watch it happen. They came into this world under very tough circumstances, and most likely will leave the same way if they haven’t done so already. And the rest of us will be left behind trying to explain how we failed their legacy in just twenty years – the time span of just one generation.

Alan Speakman

P.S. Somebody… Anybody… Please check my math and facts. Man, I hope I’m wrong on this one.

Thanksgiving and Giving Thanks

November 27, 2008

We here at Grand Rants wish all of you a very happy Thanksgiving. We all have so much to be grateful for, living in this wonderful country, and it is our hope that everyone will take at least a few moments between family, friends, and food, and and give some thought to the counting of blessings and the giving of thanks.

May you all have a joyous day.


Thanksgiving on the Left

November 26, 2008


I don’t agree with everything Ann Coulter says or the way she presents her ideas. But I do think she occasionally provides a non-politically correct breath of fresh air in her columns and appearances.

I understand there are those on the Left, however, that believe that Ms. Coulter is the Anti-christ, Satan walking at large among us, or at the very least, Hilter Hitler in a dress. They go into a collective frenzy whenever she speaks, write hateful screeds about her whenever she is in the public eye, and given the opportunity, would probably throw more pies at her if they could.

So it is not surprising that they greeted with screeches of joy and a complete lack of skepticism the brief rumor yesterday from gossip sheet Page 6 of the New York Post that Ms. Coulter had broken her jaw:

“WE HEAR THAT although we didn’t think it would be possible to silence Ann Coulter, the leggy reaction- ary [sic] broke her jaw and the mouth that roared has been wired shut…”

Well, the roar from the left side of the blogosphere is still echoing. The LA Times Blog says: “I know, I know. If the report is true, It’s almost as if our prayers have been answered.” Americablog also simply quotes the Post’s report with no official commentary.

While the Huffington Post reported it as news, they still had to get a little jab in: “Ann Coulter may be completely silenced, at least for a while. If the New York Post‘s Page Six report is true, Coulter broke her jaw and her mouth is wired shut…”

And I hate to say it, but I’m afraid to check Daily Kos and the Democratic Underground. I really don’t want to wade, however briefly. into the kind of bile that passes for commentary on those sites.

The story here, however is twofold. First, the fact that the brief detail-less line of text that spawned the frenzy of Coulter-hate is in fact a gossip page which also reports items like:

  • WE HEAR THAT the Tel Aviv Hilton was abuzz Saturday with the arrival of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith and Jeffrey Katzenberg for the Israeli premiere of “Madagascar 2
  • MARTHA Stewart (above) is no snob. The caterer who turned herself into a conglomerate made friends at the Alderson, W. Va., federal prison, and she’s still in touch, she tells Fortune magazine…
  • Paris Hilton’s popularity has plummeted. The heir-head, whose show, “Paris Hilton’s My New BFF,” on MTV has low ratings, was booed so badly at the Kress in Hollywood this weekend, she refused to take the stage.

Now that’s a credible source!

Also of concern is the enormous backlash of foam-flecked hate occasioned by the alleged jaw-wiring. Comments on the sites quoted above range from the relatively mild: “Ann’s jaw wired shut? There is a god…” to the mean-spirited: “To bad it wasn’t her neck” to the absolute vitriolic: “Next to Rush Limbaugh becoming deaf due to his popping Hillbilly Heroin, this is the clearest example of karma in action in the modern world.

To be fair, intermixed with these comments were some few that were supportive of Ms. Coulter or simply wished her a speedy recovery. And much to my surprise, the comments at the Huffington Post were mostly polite and supportive. But the vast majority of comments occasioned by an unverified passing blurb on a gossip sheet quickly brought out the very worst of the barking moonbat brigade.

In the days before our national day of Thanksgiving, we should all be feasting on gratitute. It’s a shame that much of the left seems to prefer a straight diet of schadenfreude.


Note: I hestitate to link to some of the sites I quoted above, but you can find them easily enough. Here is a link to the search terms I used. Some of these sites are not for the faint of heart.