the minor premise

the minor premise

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pre-Election Sing-Along

Since we collect parodies as well as write them, we link, with a big tip of the hat, to DUmmie FUnnies for his really excellent Ayres. Darn, we wish we'd thought of it!

Go to the original site for the music and try singing along--it's a pretty tight parody.

Tune: "Hair"
by pj-comix of DUmmie FUnnies

(Don't ask this guy)
When I knew Ayers or why
I'm beggin' noon and (nighty, night, night):
Keep Ayers out of sight!

I met him long ago
But don't ask me why
('Cause he don't know)
It's not for lack of years
Sharin' our careers

Was I in bed with Ayers
Bill "Radical" Ayers
Burnin', hatin'
Bombin' his own nation

Get me out of where (Ayers)
Served as my old mentor (Ayers)
Near Barry Obama
Anywhere that he could be

Ayers (Ayers, Ayers Ayers, Ayers, Ayers)
Throw him, stow him
Long as I don't know him
Bill Ayers...

Read the rest here.

We also liked the following assessment of the standard DU line on "voting machine fraud". As might be expected, they're trotting out the excuses in time for the big finish-- just in case.

Rove, Rove, Rove your vote
When you're on the screen
Narrowly, narrowly, narrowly, narrowly
Swipe it by machine!


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Every Voter Should See This

I came across this at Creative Minority Report. We are on the verge of electing a president who has promised to strike down all restrictions on abortion and who has defended infanticide. What are Americans thinking?

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tax Prep for DUmmies

D's idea of relaxation is to kick back and skim Wikio. While there recently, he found DUmmie FUnnies, the simple and straightforward purpose of which is to repost some of the more outrageous fare from the posts and comboxes of Democratic Underground and the Daily Kos alongside snarky commentary and ridicule. It's a great formula, as material is never in short supply. DU and DK bloggers and readers post much that is laughable and and are such generators of conspiracy theories that if I could remember where my tinfoil hat image was I'd announce an award right now.

Many of DU and Kos's offerings would be funnier, however, if they didn't amount to attempts at personal destruction of ordinary people. The latest example of this has been the campaign to ruin an ordinary working-class schlub named Joe or Sam, depending on which party you support, who had the nerve to ask their preferred candidate a legitimate (if ultimately embarassing to the candidate) question. The poor guy was minding his own business when the candidate decided to waltz into his world for a bit of semi-scripted propaganda, but ugly things happen to those who upset the Obama apple cart.

The feeding frenzy was in full swing at DU if DUmmie FUnnies is any indicator. While pj-comix, the DUmmie FUnnies blogger had his own favorites among the allegations (and made hay of those) one jumped out at me that I thought warranted a bit more attention than it was given. I figured I'd pick up the rebound on that one, just to be neighborly, and have a little something to write about. After all, if we all tried to answer every cockamamie notion that crops up on the left-wingnut blogs, we'd never get anything else done. The comment as cited is below, omitting pj-comix's responses as I'm going in a different direction anyway:

On the first $250,000 you earn, your income tax goes up ZERO, NADA, ZILCH. Not one more thin dime
For every $1000 OVER $250,000 Obama will ask you to pay an extra $30 dollars in taxes. Not $30 time $250,000---just $30 for the $1000 OVER THE FIRST $250,000. That means if your income is $251,0000, you are asked for $30. THIRTY FREAKING DOLLARS FOR $1000. AND YOU ARE TOO DAMNED TIGHT TO PAY THAT?????
So, if you make $300,000 ($50,000 above the first $250,000) Obama is going to ask for $1500. FIFTEEN HUNDRED for FIFTY THOUSAND. AND YOU STILL GET THE 50% TAX CREDIT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES AND THE $3000 FOR EVERY NEW PLUMBER YOU HIRE, DUMB**S. WHAT THE H**L ARE YOU COMPLAINING ABOUT? So, if you make $300,000 ($50,000 above the first $250,000) Obama is going to ask for $1500. FIFTEEN HUNDRED for FIFTY THOUSAND. AND YOU STILL GET THE 50% TAX CREDIT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES AND THE $3000 FOR EVERY NEW PLUMBER YOU HIRE, DUMB**S. WHAT THE H**L ARE YOU COMPLAINING ABOUT?

Whoever this guy is, he (she?) yells worse than my father-in-law. And my father-in-law (who, incidentally, doesn't swear) at least has the excuse that he comes from the B.C. (before case) days of computing when everybody typed in all caps because that's how it read on screen anyway. But I digress.

Our lefty Louis Rukhuyser touts what I'm sure seems to him an absurdly small 3%, while conveniently ignoring (but for brief lip service) that Joe's already paying 25-33% as it is. The parable about straining out the gnat and swallowing the camel comes to mind.

Let's have a closer look at that camel, shall we? I used an online 2008 marginal tax rate calculator to work out my figures. Although it seems every detail of Joe the Plumber's adult life has been made fodder for public discussion, I don't know how many dependents he has, so I have run the numbers assuming he is single with one dependent (knowing that he has a son.) and including no deductions.

On the first $250,000 he earns, Joe's income is taxed at the average rate of 25.96% (Joe's projected business revenues would put him in the 33.00% marginal tax bracket.) In other words, he'll owe Uncle Sam $64,912. Not exactly chump change.

For every $1000 over $250,000 Obama will ask Joe to pay an extra $30 in taxes over and above that rate. So if his income is $251,000, he is asked for (asked for? y'mean he can say "no, thanks" and it's all cool?)$30 plus the plus the marginal tax rate on that extra thousand which is $65,242 to equal a total of $65,272. Not a big change, I realize--but he's already paying out plenty as it is.

If Joe's income is $300,000 he'll owe $81,412 to Uncle Sam plus the $1500 mentioned above to Uncle Barack. Total it all up and his tax burden is $82,912. Amazing, isn't it, how quickly $30 here and there can add up?

Now this is all pretty minimalist and doesn't factor in deductions or the contrivances of a good tax preparer, but it also doesn't factor in the fact that Joe the plumber was predicting potential revenues from his small business castle in the air and not his expected personal income from it. He's not going to walk away with $250 or $300K; an awful lot of that is going right back into the business. This introduces a myriad other variables into the equation. But add or dock a few thousand and Joe can still expect to pay a hefty tax bill even at $250K.

That 50% tax credit, by the way, is on health care costs, not the total tax burden; Joe the Plumber's savings would depend on the size of his staff (and he'd be buying the insurance.) The $3000 hiring credit might cover a paycheck or two depending on the hire's experience.

I couldn't find the credit on the small business plan posted at the Obama campagn site, by the way--I'm guessing that's a recent innovation. There was a $500 tax credit for all workers, including, we hope, Joe. Maybe Mrs. Joe, or the ex-Mrs. Joe, or Joe's significant other could go earring shopping with Michelle Obama when the check comes in.

[I noticed over last weekend that Iowahawk, taking a cue from Spartacus, launched the I Am Joe campaign in solidarity with ordinary folks who for some reason have failed to recognize the greatness of The One. I'd like to bring attention to this effort, and dedicate to it my recent attempts to get the shower faucet turned around so that the hot water doesn't come out when it's set to cold.

Seriously, though, we stand in solidarity with Joe here at the minor premise.]

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

While I'm Channelling Yogi Berra...

...It ain't over 'til it's over.

Election thought for the day.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Deja vu all over again

Yesterday I heard it announced--well, proclaimed, actually (CBS News Radio, midmorning)-- that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had, at some time in the past, hired a "Republican" lobbying firm to persuade Congress to protect them from additional regulations. I was already somewhat aware of what the story was about, which was a good thing because not much information followed the initial condemnation.

The story had actually been kicked around some of the "alternative" media sources already, and that is where I came across it. I'm afraid the headline overstated the case a bit; the firm in question was a pretty run-of-the-mill lobbyist who had previously worked on Republican campaigns, but whose party loyalty, if he had any, didn't stop him from taking on anybody who would pay his fee and defending them against his former employers.

The darn thing of it is, the most vociferous resistance to those additional regulations came from within the Democratic party, and the shenanigans of some operatives connected with that party are common enough knowledge to have been fodder for a recent Saturday Night Live skit. Of all this, again, but for alternative sources (and my local paper's shamelessly right-wing editorial board) I would have heard almost nothing.

Events often remind me of seemingly completely unrelated events, and hearing the lobbyist story reported on radio reminded me of Hedrick Smith's The Russians, which I read years ago. That's flaky-sounding, I know, but bear with me for a minute.

Smith, a Moscow correspondent with years of experience, explained both the Soviet people and the Soviet system with uncanny insight in his book. At one point, he explained the Soviet method of dealing with the unpleasant public relations effects of fatal accidents involving the state-run airline.

Standard operating procedure in the wake of an accident was, as I recall, silence. I don't remember how they dealt with next of kin, but the news agencies certainly were kept quiet. Then, after a day or two, a series of detailed reports of recent air crashes--the more carnage, the better--from elsewhere around the world were prominently run by all major state news media. After a few weeks of this, a few paragraphs on the original accident would run, buried well back in the papers where it wouldn't attract undue attention. Smart reporters and ordinary Soviet citizens quickly learned to watch the papers for hints of the latest disaster.

The connection to my newswatching experience lies in the smoke and mirrors employed by both systems to deflect attention from stories they'd rather not emphasize while putting forward those that will enhance the basic premises under which they work. One of these is that conservatism in all its forms must be defeated; therefore stories creating the perception that the Republican party is the source of all corruption in government tend to get high billing.

I don't like conspiracy theories. I really, really don't like being in the position of seriously considering a conspiracy theory as reflecting reality. Thus I'm understandably reluctant to call the patently obvious bias in the mainstream media a conspiracy. Yet there it is, like the old Soviet parade-of-air-disasters, becoming increasingly hard to miss and increasingly absurd. And whether the term "conspiracy" fits or whether it owes merely to an excessive amount of willful ideological myopia in the purveyors of mainstream news, it's unacceptable.

Journalism supposedly has basic standards of integrity. At least, it used to. The job of a reporter is to relentlessly pursue and find the facts of a story--all of them, not just the ones that reinforce a personal preference. To do less than that makes one not a reporter, but a propagandist.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Gimme the Beat, Boys

Enough already with politics--here's something useful.

If you have a hard time remembering the compression rate for CPR, as I do, just hum Stayin' Alive by the BeeGees. The beat matches the desired rate of 100 compressions per minute. This useful bit of info is at First Aid., and also looks to be getting no small amount of attention at news outlets, who presumably needed an excuse to ignore Joe the plumber (couldn't resist.)

CPR training can now be that much livelier--I imagine the entire class singing along while bouncing up and down on their Rescussi-dummies. Much more fun that that staid old One-one thousand, two-one thousand mnemonic we were taught in the past.

Keeping in mind that CPR is a last-ditch effort to keep someone alive and the rate of loss is very high, suggests Queen's Another One Bites the Dust (which also matches the 100/min compression rate) as an alternative for the pessimistic first responder.

So what's the tune for infant/child CPR?


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sunshine is the Best Disinfectant

It's perhaps a bit late at this point to address the Iraq question in a way that will affect the election; Obama's constant refrain of "you voted for the war" should have been addressed and put to rest months ago. Nonetheless, I naively propose that something along the lines of what follows may have been an appropriate response. It would be nice to hear something like this at tonight's debate, though foreign policy isn't the topic:

"When the decision that led to the Iraq invasion was made in the Senate, we were working with certain information. Some of it was better than others, but we're not issued crystal balls when we're sworn in and it isn't always easy to determine the best intelligence. The overwhelming majority of Senators, including many with vastly more foreign policy experience than my opponent, agreed with this decision at the time.

Once we were in it, we were able to get a better view of the whole situation and some of us, hindsight being 20/20, concluded that the whole adventure had been a huge mistake; that we had been 'scammed' by the administration. But the fact remains that in 2003 we had already been in a low-level war with the Sadaam Hussein regime for the previous decade and we did not know for sure what he might do. While mistakes were made going in and more mistakes were made in prosecuting the war, which is not to be unexpected given that people are fallible, the end result has been the removal of a genocidal regime and the first real chance in half a century for Iraqis to live in a free society.

It is easy to judge what has happened; it is far harder to say what might have been. It is possible that with more intelligence than we had in 2003 we might have chosen not to invade. But who knows what might have followed that decision? It is extremely likely that Sadaam Hussein or his sons might still be in power, still terrorizing his own people and posing a threat to other nations, and we would in addition be dealing with insurgencies in Afghanistan and impending nukes in Iran. Whatever paths we might have taken in the past, we took the one we did and the eventual result may well be positive for the Iraqi people. We cannot say whether another course of action would ultimately have been positive, or a complete disaster.

We should conscientiously work for continued progress in Iraq, not abandon the country before they are able to stand alone. Let the record show that I called for the change in prosecution of this war that ultimately led to success and safety for the majority of Iraq's population. Let it also show that I, unlike my opponent, have consistently opposed abandoning the innocent civilians of Iraq to the bloodbath that would have ensued had we left when he first called for us to do so.

Now, I'd like to move to matters I can control and discuss how my opponent and myself plan to deal with the difficult decisions that lie before us..."


Pull Down the Schadenfreude

With the candidates so finely coached, and questions never really answered, I have to ask myself, why do I, and so many others watch the debates?

Why do we watch presidential debate?
What do we hope to find there?
Will casual lines change people's minds?
Will we vote for the cut of his hair?

I think the debate is like NASCAR,
They circle, surrounded by tech--
But you and me, what we want to see
Is for one or the other to wreck.

If all goes well for both men,
They'll say that the evening's a bore
But if someone falls down, or acts like a clown
The press will be shouting for more!

Why do we watch the presidential debate?
Will anything really get done?
I have to admit, I learn not a bit;
Is this your idea of fun?

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In Defense of Bootstraps

I'm darned if I can track it down now, but yesterday I caught in passing a brief audio clip of a Barack Obama exchange with a nursing student at a recent rally. The 19-year-old young lady explained, between sobs, that she was putting herself through school. Obama responded, not with "Wonderful! You should be proud of yourself! With your dedication you'll be a great nurse!", but with words to the effect of, "We'll see if we can't get you some help with that soon."

Senator Obama, I have two adult children and two teenagers. My husband and I can ill afford to subsidize college for all of them, although we would love to see them go. And guess what, Senator?

We don't want your help.

We've both been through college. We each had a little parental help, but mostly used a combination of earned scholarship and grant aid, student loans (which we were paying off for a long time after), and old-fashioned sweat equity. We can remember plenty of "sponsored by Daddy" types who crashed and burned after three semesters of boozing it up. We know there's a direct relationship between the amount of effort required to obtain a thing and the value that thing holds for the owner.

We don't want our kids to have a free ride through college. We want them to appreciate the value of having earned the trip there for themselves. We want them to recognize that the privilege, once gained, must be maintained through diligence and hard work. We want them to learn to make good use of their time as they balance work, study, and lesiure time. We know this is not a skill that comes naturally to most people, and that it will not come at all unless the end in sight--the sheepskin--is desired enough to supersede for the time being less critical desires.

We've seen a year's worth of unearned grants wasted, to the moral and educational detriment of the student. We've also had a teenager earn and maintain a full scholarship for three and a half years (so far), taking on part-time jobs to supplement her personal needs and keeping up with a demanding GPA requirement, a full academic schedule, public service, and an Honors enrichment program all at the same time.

We're now watching a heretofore unmotivated high-school junior as the realization slowly dawns on him that there is life beyond next week and he might want to explore his long-term options. Before this fall, he dabbled idly in his talents and interests and gave little thought to using them professionally; now he's actually considering where they might take him. We'd like to see this newfound realization lead to a college degree, but we know that his previous academic sins will impose the need for additional effort if he is to get there.

When he dons the cowl, we want him to look back at his time in college with pride born of personal accomplishment. We want him to look to his future with the sense that he can take on the challenges that await him, not to live his life waiting for Daddies biological or governmental to walk him through every difficulty. And Senator, those are things your entitlement mentality can not give him.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Or, as I like to call it, "The Church of the Great Cosmic Gumball Machine"

Now here is a quote that speaks to the problem of catechizing teenagers (and some other folks as well) in the present age:

[Christian]Smith — himself an evangelical — led an exhaustive study of the religious & spiritual lives of American teenagers, and his findings (published in the book Soul Searching and also found in a dvd with the same title) found that whatever the religious beliefs professed by American teens (and, I’d argue, by adults as well), the vast majority of them “practiced” what he terms “Moralistic Therapuetic Deism”, a worldview in which God acts as divine butler or cosmic therapist: there when I need Him, but out of the way otherwise and most of the time.

Chris Burgwald at American Catholic.

Having taught weekly faith formation classes for middle schoolers for a number of years (high schoolers briefly, but they're a bit easier) and currently enduring my own last two (out of four) teenagers plus their various friends and acquaintances, I feel his pain.

I could never quite wrap my brain around the debate I once had with an eighth-grade girl in one of my classes who habitually expressed her disdain for matters of church teaching and evidently regarded herself as very forward-thinking for doing so. One day I made the mistake of using the word "myth" in reference to the Genesis creation story* and had to spend considerable class time defending myself when she declared the belief (picked up from well-trained young-earth creationist schoolmates--how do those folks manage to indictrinate so thoroughly at such a difficult age?) that dinosaurs existed concurrently with humans as "proven" by the descriptions of Leviathan and Behemoth in the book of Job. Never mind my pointing out that crocs and hippos were both well-known, by reputation if not by personal experience, to the writers of Hebrew scripture.

For goodness' sake, if you're going to dabble in modernism, why rebound to fundamentalism over minor points?

*Although we would be mere monerans (anachronistic archaebacteria?) in the TTLB ecosystem if such a category existed and can usually count our hits on one hand, I just know somebody is going to drop in and rake me over the coals for even breathing the word myth in the same sentence with the book of Genesis. Not that it will be likely to make any difference, but I submit definition one of Webster's New World Dictionary, 1979 by William Collins Publishers (I am a fossil,aren't I?), edited for brevity only:

A traditional story of unknown authorship, ostensibly with a historical basis, but serving usually to explain some phenomenon of nature, the origin of man, or the customs, institutions, religious rites, etc. of a people...

Or as I put it to the young lady in question at the time, a story that employs poetic or figurative language to teach a fundamental truth.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

The Ys of the Law, or Stones as Impediments

Is "being male" a disability? Walter Olson, in the Blog Overlawyered, cites Louis Solomon's assertion that a recently passed amendment to the Americans with Disabilities Act could allow just that. The "Americans With Disability Amendments Act," which passed in September and goes into effect on Jan. 1, lessens the burden on employees to prove they're disabled, therefore making it easier for them to bring claims. Louis Solomon is co-head of the global litigation department at Proskauer Rose.

I wonder if Solomon used the following to justify his case:

Video Hat tip: Blogadilla

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On Extremism

I figure while I'm posting pro-life videos it was time to give this one another airing. Hat tip DarwinCatholic


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Burning Down the House

A metaphorical look at the place of fundamental issues in voting decisions from Young Catholic:


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Much ado about that one

When I got up this morning and checked the news, what jumped out at me was a sudden, overwhelming degree of interest in two words that barely made a blip on my personal radar screen last night: "--that one." If this isn't a teapot tempest extraordinare, somebody pour me up a cup of Earl Gray with two lumps of sugar.

Was McCain being belittling? Sure, in a sense. Any parent should be intimately familiar with the uses of the term "that one." It's generally directed at a child who is being maddeningly unruly. It's not unfriendly, just bemused and perhaps a little frustrated. Was McCain attempting to reduce Obama to subhuman status? I doubt it. Was he addressing Obama as the wet-behind-the-ears kid he is who has repeatedly not only failed to learn from those with a little more life experience than he has but has had the unmitigated hubris to dismiss them entirely while aggressively promoting his own dangerously naive worldview? Very probably. And with that in mind, I think McCain could have gotten a lot nastier than "that one," had he chosen to do so.

Stop looking for macacas where none are, all you mediacs. Or at least be even-handed. It seems to me that the attempts by the Obama campaign to portray McCain as a doddering old computer illiterate are at least on a par with an off-the-cuff "that one" in an unscripted exchange.


And now, in Spanish

Pro-life outreach to Hispanic voters--and high time, too. Hat tip to Rebecca Taylor of Mary Meets Dolly. Actor Eduardo Verastegui appears in this CNA-produced video.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

Choosing Life

The Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life response to EMILY's list, has recently started its own blog. I came across this video of a Nick Cannon rap there. It's a beautiful tribute to his mother, as well as a powerful message.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Facing the Facts

I've come across a number of very compelling pro-life videos recently, and I'm planning to post some of them here over the next week or so. I figure that even if I don't draw a lot of attention to them I'll boost the number of times they are linked by at least one. And that's not a bad thing.

Feminists for Life has put together a team of speakers who bring a diversity of life experience to bear on the abortion question. A few days ago, the organization posted this video on its website and on Youtube. It is to be the first in a series of such videos. The speaker, Melissa Ohden, is an abortion survivor.

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