Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What's in an Acronym?

Does anyone else find it ironic that the acronym for Pelosi, Michelle, Barak, and Reid is POOR?

Monday, February 23, 2009

A random thought

In past wars of the US (and pseudo US) the rallying cry of the troops tended to be "Remember " where blank expands to The Maine, Pearl Harbor, The Lusitania, The Chosin, or The Alamo.

Of wars of any duration (there by ruling out Grenada, Panama and Desert Storm) we find the following exceptions

The Revolution. "Don't tread on me", "Live free or Die" "Liberty or Death"

The Civil War. "The Union Forever" or random screams AKA the "Rebel Yell".

Viet Nam "N days and a wake up" (where N equals number of days left in country, normally under 335 (one year, less one year's worth of leave == 335 days 'in country'))

The Long War AKA Global War on Terror, AKA Enduring Freedom. "Let's Roll". (see footnote)

This says something about both what the war is about, and what the troops are thinking. Of these, only one, that for The Long War is a take action sort of thing. I'll grant it's also a memorial quote as well.

I'll also grant I don't have a clue about the War of 1812 and the Mexican American war.

Like I said, random thought.

Footnote. For a while I was following Mr. Pournell's lead and was calling the war between the US and the USSR (1917-1989) "The Long War", but the US Military is now calling the GWoT "The Long War" now. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but I strongly suspect my preferred choice "The Final Crusade" would not be taken. Still does my heart good to know that one of the men calling in air strikes on Taliban positions is, in his heart of hearts a Paladin, a follower of the Lion Hearted King and a Crusader for Good.

Greatest Foreign Policy Speech Ever.

Sorry for the delay. As much as I admire Churchill, this is the greatest foreign policy speech ever.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Young Lawyers in Love

I guess the high cost of law school and estimates that America may be producing more lawyers than the market needs has caught the eye of the President and Barak Obama is here to save these poor legal eagles. For young lawyers are going to be the only real beneficiaries of the stimulus bill. I predict, and I think I am conservative in this number, that 80% of the cost of all these “shovel-ready” infrastructure improvement projects will go to lawyers who litigate the wet-lands, dry-land, endangered species, minority quota-driven, law suits over the next decade. The government will be suing itself: Federal vs. Federal, State vs. State, local vs. local, and any other combination you can imagine. Yes, and there will be a needs for many more judges just to handle the workload, but the ACLU will gladly help with a list of “qualified” candidates. Fortunately Barak and Michelle were young lawyers who understood the need for young lawyers to find gainful employment.

A final thought, should my prediction be true, that is 80% of $787 billion is $630 billion to the legal profession. The one group that needs a bailout…NOT.

Sharks versus Jets

Congress, and an extremely compliant press, has been rallying the country against something once again, This time the Democrat party, self professed to be the party against hate in all forms, is worked up into a visceral rage and the bull’s-eye is on airplanes, corporate jets to be precise. On a side note, can you imagine what these people would do if they ever felt hate? It boggles the mind, but I digress.

I have two opinions about this anti-executive air crusade. The first is for companies that accepted government bailouts…GO FOR IT. In keeping with today’s theme of two, I will submit two reasons. First, limited executive perks by congressional fiat may actually have the benefit of preventing most executives from selling their public trust to the Capitol Hill Mob for a little of the easy life. While CEOs might actually have to do their jobs, it is a small price to pay for using the Gulf Stream or the Lear. Secondly, if we allow the logic that acceptance of public funds is sufficient cause to dictate terms-of-use to the receiver, this might give leverage over the NEA crowd. In other words, if we can tell executives at Citibank that if “you take our money you have to take our direction” the same will apply to Robert Mapplethorpe. Okay, I realize the latter requires consistency of message from a liberal, but I can dream that the left-wingers will grow up and realize that hypocrisy is not a virtue.

My second opinion deals with telling the CEOs of companies who manage to show some semblance of self restraint and don’t go hat-in-hand to the Potomac Raiders. To these men I say, fly to your hearts’ content. First, I think this is something the stockholders need to watch and, if they are happy, it really doesn’t hurt me. For that matter, it doesn’t hurt you either, so relax. My final reason is less personal: do you remember the American yacht industry? It was destroyed by the luxury tax. Did this do anything to the "soak-the-rich" Americans who wanted the 45-foot ocean going schooner? No, they just went to England or Jamaica to buy their toys. But boat builders and handlers were suddenly out-of-work. There are lots of small businesses employing many people in the private jet industry who would suddenly be closed due to lack of work. Those employees would be losing jobs they love, simply because of nothing more than petty jealousies.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The banning of Childhood. The burning of books.

OK, maybe banning of childhood is a bit of an overstatement. Instead what Congress has done is ban everything associated with childhood not made by large companies which specialize almost exclusively in children's products. Small companies, start-up companies, and large companies which have children's products as a side line have been pushed out of the market by act of Congress. Small companies, by the way include that nice old man at the farmer's market who makes wooden toys and that lady on the internet who makes those darling little girl dresses by hand. Why have all of these businesses been banned? To protect the children of course.

You may remember last year's scare about lead in paint used in some toys made in China. You may also remember that Congress responded with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), which banned lead and phthalates in any product intended for use by children under the age of 12. Every component of every product must be tested for lead by independent testing agencies. (There is not, by the way, a large scale testing industry in existence, as there was no demand. Congress assumed that an industry that did not exist could be created within a few months) Every variation must be tested separately and every lot must be tested. So the old man making toys must test each component of the toy. If he comes up with a new design, all of the components must be tested, even if they were tested before for previous designs. Same thing for the lady making little girl dresses. (Different sizes count as different designs, by the way.) It is obvious that only the largest companies are going to be able to afford the testing required by these laws. Not only will the small craftsmen be put out of business, but also the many small companies. The type of specialty toy maker that does a few hundred thousand dollars in sales every year and employs a handful of people, you know, the makers of all of the really cool toys, is history. Companies that primarily make goods for adults will likely avoid the added costs by dropping their children's lines.

One might think, that at least I will be able to get some of these things through the used market, but no, Congress banned that as well. CPSIA applies to all goods made for children regardless of when they were made. This means that the resale market will have to remove or test all items made for children. The stores, of course, will remove them. So in a time of economic hardship, Congress has just made it impossible for parents to save on children's clothing costs by going to Goodwill. I know from experience that it is possible to keep a child in clothes that were initially quite expensive for less than Wal-Mart prices. Children outgrow clothing before they wear them out. They often outgrow them before they appear to have been worn at all. Good-bye to all of that.

One of the real tragedies is that this travesty of a law applies to everything sold for children, including books. The Consume Products Protection Agency has graciously exempted used books which were printed after 1985 from the testing requirements. The books must be of normal bindings and have no lead components. Prior to 1985 lead was used in some of the inks used in children's books. (That is, by the way, why the colors in the illustrations of old books are often so rich.) Of course for the ink to damage a child, the child must eat the book. Vintage books are excepted if by age or price it is likely that purchasers are going to be adult collectors rather than children. Some businesses will try this dodge to continue old children's books, but let's be real, a third printing of a kid's book from 1967 is just not collectible. What this means is that most out of print children's books are now illegal to sell. If you want older editions for you kids, tough luck. You can no longer search for that book with the pretty illustrations you loved as a child. If you are lucky, a new reprint might be available, but only if the book is famous, or won a major award like the Newbery or Caldecott. Even then it might only be available in paperback. There are some truly great books out there that have never been reprinted and this heritage will be lost forever.

Ah, but what about libraries, you ask. Surely libraries will preserve this heritage. First, most library books do not have a lifespan of more than twenty years. The books fall apart from being handled so much. Second, the law applies to libraries. Libraries can not loan out books printed prior to 1985 without having them tested. The testing required is wet testing. Wet and books do not mix. Old books can not be tested without destroying them. Besides, we already know that many of them will fail. An even more serious problem is that it is next to impossible for a library to tell when a book was printed. Printing date is not one of the pieces of bibliographic information that libraries routinely include in their records. Copyright date, and edition number, yes, printing date, no. In fact it is often impossible, even by examining the book itself, to determine the printing date. The only safe route would be to sequester all books with a pre-1985 copyright date until it can be determined when the book was printed. Of course books aren't shelved in order of copyright, so every book in the children's section would have to examined or moved. Most libraries do not have the manpower to do this. It will costs libraries millions of dollars to sort and replace books. This is money that does not exist.

This is not speculation. The law took effect on February 10. There have been reports of used bookstores pulling all pre-1985 children's books. Bookstores can not afford to store books they are not selling. These books are being discarded. The book burning has begun. For the children.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Happy Birthday

Ninety eight years ago today Ronald Wilson Reagan was born. I shudder to think what he would have made of this week's stimulus discussion.

And now an excerpt from the greatest foreign policy speech of the last half of the 20th century.