Friday, October 31, 2008

Obama Campaign Boots Reporters: This Should Concern You

If you want an America where people aren't allowed to make too much money, where you never read about people criticizing the government, and where the news is full of happy articles telling citizens what a fine job the president is doing: I'd say Barack Obama is the candidate to vote for.

Me? I'd rather take my chances with John McCain.

The Obama campaign's removal of unsupportive reporters from "Change We Can Believe In" concerns me. (More at "Barack Obama Campaign Plane Boots Selected Reporters" (Another War-on-Terror Blog (October 31, 2008).)

Previous posts on this topic:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rickshaw Ban: It Seemed Like Such a Nice Idea

About two years ago, Richshaws were banned in at least parts of India. Human-pulled ones, anyway.

This high-minded move was intended to end an inhumane and demeaning job. It also put a lot of rickshaw pullers out of business. Not to worry, though, they were going to be "rehabilitated." ("Rickshaws, ban highlight India's contradictions" (Chicago Tribune (October 18, 2008))

I've gathered that at least some of the foot-powered rickshaws were used by men who couldn't afford a motorized rickshaw.

The guys who have been "rehabilitated" in India were entrepreneurs, providing a service with resources they could get. Okay: pulling a rickshaw isn't as glamorous as being a high-power corporate lawyer. But, it's a way of making money.

By now, quite a few of those entrepreneurs are probably nice, safe, inoffensive employees - and not likely to rock the economic or social boat.

I ran into this while researching a post for another blog: "Bad Day in Guwahati (or Gauhati): Bombs, Fires, and Dead People " Another War-on-Terror Blog (October 30, 2008).

Obama's Half-Hour Infomercial - Really Smart Marketing

That 30-minute infomercial that the Obama campaign put on before the World Series shows what some media savvy and a whole lot of money can do.

From a marketing point of view, it may not be as crazy as it seems. My first reaction, hearing what Obama and all planned to do was that the Obama team had lost its collective marbles.

I pictured a scene playing out, all over America: baseball fans, eager and excited about watching the pre-game show; turning on their TVs; and, instead of the expected discussion of the season that was and the game that would be; they get a half-hour advertisement, telling them why they should vote for Obama.

Quite a few of the baseball fans I've known over the years would turn from neutral to hostile over being denied their programming.

Looks like I was wrong.

So far, there's been no continent-wide roar of protest.

In fact, CNN's coverage of the Obamathon concentrated on its historic significance. Nobody's bought this much air time, this late in the campaign, before. Ross Perot did something like it, back in 1992, we're told, but that was much earlier in the campaign.

From CNN: "...'It's evidence, if you needed any, that the Obama campaign has more money than there is ad time left to buy,' said Evan Tracey, director of the Campaign Media Analysis Group. 'This is flexing the muscles.'

"Tracey estimates that it will cost the campaign 'in the $4 to 5 million range -- at a minimum, $3.5 million.'

"But, he said, spending the money is a 'no-brainer' for the Democratic presidential hopeful.

" 'The strategic brilliance of this for Obama is that he is going to consume about 24 hours of the news cycle,' Tracey said. 'It boxes [John] McCain in, takes the oxygen out of the room.'..." [emphasis mine]

Looking at the advertising that way, it makes sense. Besides the World Series audience, Obama's getting about a day's worth of free publicity from the news services.

I have to admit it: buying all that air time, on all those networks, was a smart way of spreading the campaign money around.

I'm still very concerned about Obama's repeated assurances that he wants to "spread the wealth around."

In the news:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Marxism: It Looks So Good on Paper

Barack Obama's views have been characterized as Marxist. Just because

The Obama campaign's blacklisting of a television station that asked Biden to respond to the idea that Barack Obama is a Marxist, but that didn't keep people from wondering.

Obama's response to his "spread the wealth around" and "redistributive change" statements getting discussed is, basically, 'Marxist, Schmarxist: can't we all ignore this?'

Barack Obama a Marxist? Not Exactly

I still won't say that Obama is a Marxist, but he does seem to like the ideas of Karl Marx. And Marxist professors. And Marxian economics.

One of news articles I found about the (redistributive) change candidate's philosophical roots said:

"Obama's affinity for Marxists began when he attended Occidental College in Los Angeles.

" 'To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully,' the Democratic presidential candidate wrote in his memoir, 'Dreams From My Father.' 'The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists.' "
(FOXNews (October 28, 2008))

Obama supporters and the Obama campaign have, as far as I've seen, shown the good sense not to say that the quote is a lie. Their line will probably be that it was taken out of context. That's almost true, but not quite.

The young Barack Obama was struggling with what I'll call ethnic identity. Obama explained that he didn't want to ingratiate himself to white people, and did want to identify with blacks. ("Urban Legends Reference Page") gives quite a bit of information about a claim that an "E-mail lists racist passages taken from Barack Obama's books." Snopes demonstrates that Barack Obama is not, by Snopes' standards, racist.

The extensive passages from "Dreams of My Father" do, however, seem to show that the young Barack Obama was very intent on establishing his own identity: And that doing so involved not ingratiating himself to white people, seeking out Marxist professors, and showing loyalty to the "black masses."

Judging from what Barack Obama said to Joe the Plumber, not much has changed.

But, I won't say that Barack Obama is a Marxist, strictly speaking. He does seem to be a college professor who admires the economic theories of Karl Marx, and thinks that it would be nice if somebody was forced to give money to black people: to make up for what happened in the 18th and 19th centuries.

That makes him an American college professor, but not necessarily a Marxist.

Do We Really Want Redistributive Change?

As I wrote yesterday, Reparations look good, as long as you're on the receiving end. And don't look too closely on what it does to the people who write your paycheck, and those of your neighbor.

Russian leaders, from about 1927 to 1991, made what I think is an earnest effort to apply Marxian principles to the real world. It didn't work out quite as well as some had hoped.

In my opinion, it makes no sense to penalize people for being productive, and reward those who aren't. And, like it or not, people like Bill Gates and Ted Turner have earned the money they acquired: by finding and developing new ways of providing goods and services.

I'll grant that some CEOs and other management types are overpaid: and I find "golden parachutes" disgusting.

Again, I see no sense in rewarding people who are not productive. Particularly if they're the ones who drove a company into the ground.

(Don't) Look For This in the News

I'll be surprised if these little matters will wind up on the front page of The New York Times:
  • Obama's preference for Marxist professors
  • His opinion that one of "the tragedies" of the civil rights movement was its failure to bring "redistributive change"
  • His more recent statement that it's a good idea to "spread the wealth around"
  • The Obama campaign's blacklisting of a Florida television station for asking embarrassing questions
But it could happen. Barack Obama's interest in Marxism didn't seem to strike a chord with most news services. But, the Obama campaign's blacklisting of a television station for asking the wrong question might.

In the news:
I read, and gave what I believe to be a reasonable paraphrase, of the relevant paragraphs of "Dreams of My Father" quoted on However, don't just take my word for what Obama wrote.

For one thing, I had to leave out many details, and did not attempt to mimic Barack Obama's tone.

There are substantial passages from "Dreams of My Father" at that Snopes page. I suggest searching for the paragraph that starts with the words "To avoid being mistaken for a sellout".

Better yet, buy "Dreams of My Father" online. I'm going to see if my budget will let me.

America in Recession! Global Crisis! Hanging Chads Selling for $2 each!

You've seen the headlines: America is in a financial crisis, pulling the whole world into a whirlpool of economic chaos.

Meanwhile, people are buying little scraps of paper at $2 per piece.

We can't be that bad off.

Remember the "hanging chads" snafu in the 2000 Florida presidential election, when claims were made that Florida voters couldn't understand the ballots and/or figure out how to use the machines?

Florida's embarrassment was a Republican political consultant's profit.

Not because Bush won.

Jim Dobyns has been selling the Votomatic III voting machines that proved too much for so many Floridians. He found a warehouse full of the things on eBay.

Now, he's selling the chads themselves. In lots of 10, for $20 per lot. I won't buy the things, but quite a few people are likely to pay for these pieces of history, at two dollars per chad.

I Love This Country!

I think there's hope, as long as some guy in Florida can pick up a warehouse-full of obsolete voting machines being unloaded by someone else, sell most of them, then turn around and sell little scraps of paper at $20 per bag. With only ten scraps in each bag.

In the news:

Florida: Hotbed of Hate or Land of Opportunity?

Florida hasn't been getting quite the sort of publicity it did in 2000, when the Florida presidential ballots added "hanging chad" and "pregnant chad" to America's vocabulary. But the sunshine state has been getting more attention than usual lately.

One of the three more-or-less serious threats to Obama's life came from the Sunshine State:

On the silly side, there's that "Obama Half-Breed Muslin" sign in a Barefoot Bay, Florida, front yard. That is, it would be merely silly, if so many people didn't
  • Believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim
  • Feel that this was a bad thing
I don't think it helps that Barack Obama doesn't have an "American" name. Like Johnson, or Schmidt, or Hong.

Coming from another direction, there's Representative Alcee Hastings. He warned Florida Jews about Sarah Palin: "Anybody toting guns and stripping moose don't care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks." (I'm not making that up.)

If Dallas is the "City of Hate," is Florida the State of Malice?

Quite a few people, including editors of The New York Times, have decided that Dallas didn't kill JFK after all. And, I don't think that some crazy white guys and Representative Alcee Hastings are typical Floridians.

Florida, the Land of Opportunity: and Obsolete Voting Machines

People in Florida, in common with all Americans, are allowed to think of ways to make money: and try out their ideas. They're even allowed to profit from their successful efforts. For now, at least.

For example, after the 2000 Florida election and the month-long wrangle over voting machines, ballots, and the voters who allegedly couldn't figure out how to use them, Florida decided to scrap its Votomatic III voting machines.

That left some guy with a warehouse-full of the things. He auctioned them off on eBay to some other guy, who turned around and sold them, one at a time, as collectibles. But that's a topic for another post.

More-or-less related posts:

Barack Obama: Lack of "Redistributive Change" Was Tragedy of Civil Rights Movement

Does Barack Obama really want to redistribute wealth in America?

Apparently, yes. He said as much in a 2001 interview on Chicago Public Radio, WBEZ.

Obama's words, in part: " of the, I think, the tragedies of the civil rights movement, was because the civil rights movement became so court focused, I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change, and in some ways we still stuffer from that...."

"2001 Obama WBEZ Interview Redistribution Wealth Warren Court"
YouTube (October 27, 2008) (repackaging of January 18, 2001, interview)
video (4:17) [audio recording with video embellishments]

"Redistributive Change:" An Idea Whose Time Has Come - And Gone

Large-scale redistribution of wealth has been tried.

In the early years of the 20th century, the idea of taking wealth from people who had a lot of property, and giving it to people who didn't, was quite popular in some circles. As of the eighties, when I ended my last stint in college, it still was on American campuses.

Russian leaders made an earnest effort to make "redistributive change" work, from 1927 to 1991. (I'm not counting the 1917-1927 transitional period.) The experiment didn't work out quite as well as some had hoped.

Maybe Barack Obama believes that he'll do better at achieving "redistributive change."

No, I don't think Barack Obama is a 'commie.' I do, however, think that he has some wonderfully idealistic notions which work much better in the faculty lounge than in the real world.

Previous post on this subject:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Obama Assassination Plot Stopped

This is going to be in the news for a while: two white nitwits planned to assassinate Barack Obama.

Wearing white tuxedos.

You can't make up this sort of thing.

More at:

In the news:

"Spread the Wealth Around," "Change," "Redistributive Change" What's the Big Deal?

"Joe the Plumber definitely asked the wrong question, when he prompted Barack Obama to say, " 'I think that when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody,' " earlier this month.

Ask the Wrong Question, Get Blacklisted: Biden, Obama, WFTV, and Marxism

That "spread the wealth around" remark got people wondering about exactly what sort of change Barack Obama wanted. It's not such a long walk, between "spread the wealth" and "redistribute wealth." An interviewer gave Senator Joe Biden an opportunity to clarify Obama's position recently: "...How is Senator Obama not being a Marxist, if he intends to spread the wealth around?"

Senator Biden called the question "ridiculous," said that the top one percent of earners in America are "good, decent American people" - and delivered a number of the Obama campaign's talking points.

Then the Obama campaign blacklisted WFTV, the television station that did the interview.

I don't blame them one bit. Barack Obama almost certainly wishes that the whole "spread the wealth" thing would just go away. And that won't happen if interviewers keep asking the wrong questions.

"Redistributive Change" for America

Considering what happened to WFTV, I doubt that many news services will care to ask Barack Obama or Joe Biden to clarify Senator Obama's disappointment with the lack of "redistributive change" in the civil rights movement.
Marxist? No: Good for America? Doubtful
I don't think that Either Barack Obama or Joe Biden are Marxists. They certainly don't fit the stereotype: someone running down blood-drenched streets, with gore from dead capitalists on their knives.

Joe Biden described the rich in America as "good, decent American people," and I believe him. And Barack Obama's desire for "redistributive change" quite clearly does not involve violence.

However, Barack Obama did say that he saw " of the, I think, the tragedies of the civil rights movement, ... was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change...."1 [emphasis mine]

No violence there. Just arranging for "redistributive change."

That sounds a lot like reparations.

Reparations: Sounds Good

Reparations looks good, as long as you're on the receiving end. Sometimes it's justifiable.

Sometimes, not so much. The American 'race reparations' that I've read about apparently boil down to forcing people who look a little like 18th and 19th century plantation owners to give money to people who look a little like slaves who worked on the plantations.

Reparations, Common Sense, and Blaming the Scythians

About half my ancestors were in Norway until well after slavery was abolished in America, but it's a fact: I look a little like the plantation owners. I've got the same genetic melanin deficiency.

The other half were Irish, which brings up an intriguing possibility.

I've got no complaints, but my life hasn't been all beer and pretzels. I've lost jobs, had trouble finding jobs, and gotten laid off. Someone must be to blame.

Maybe I should demand reparations from:
  • The English
    • There are a number of Irishmen who believe that the English have ground the Irish under the heel of oppression for centuries. And, considering British history since the time of, say Henry VIII, they have a point. (The typical attitude of the English toward the Irish encouraged Jonathan Swift to write "A Modest Proposal.")
    • 'Obviously,' English oppression is responsible for my eclectic employment record. And the English must pay!
    • The problem is, it's quite possible that some of my Irish ancestors were English Catholics who were deported. That would explain all those "Richards" in the family.
  • The Vikings
    • The Irish and the English were both mistreated by the Vikings, about a thousand years ago: Lindisfarne, and all that.
    • Which has me paying myself again. I'm half Norwegian.
  • The Romans
    • Norway, the part that wasn't under ice, wasn't in the Roman Empire: but part of the British Isles were.
    • I'll demand that the Italians pay me, for what their ancestors did to my ancestors.
It doesn't have to stop there.
  • Ancient Rome had trouble with Greece
  • Greece had trouble with Persia
  • Persia had trouble with Scythia
As if it weren't complicated enough already, some of the Scythians may be my ancestors: Norwegians and Celts came from somewhere, you know.

But That's Different!

I'll probably get comments about how I just don't understand what it's like to be discriminated against. Okay, my experience isn't the same as someone who is black, Chinese, a woman, seven feet tall, or four-foot-eleven. I can't even be sure that quotas and affirmative action helped me learn so many different skills.

The point is that, like it or not, blaming someone else for something that their ancestors didn't do isn't all that productive in the long run. Not all whites have ancestors who wore white linen every day and drank mint juleps on the veranda.

"Redistributive Change?" Been There, Tried That

Redistributive change sounds like a great idea, and has been tried before. On paper, it looks pretty good: as long as you're one of the redistributors, or one of the early recipients.

And, it's been tried. Russia made a good effort at spreading the wealth around, for most of the 20th century. Somehow, it didn't work out quite the way that idealists thought it would.

No: I am not calling Barack Obama a commie.

I think he's a Harvard Law School graduate, with ideas that are fairly common on American campuses, and a very idealistic young man.

I also think that America does not need a president, no matter how charming and eloquent, who believes that the lack of "redistributive change" in the civil rights movement was a tragedy.

Related posts: News and views:
1 Excerpt from "McCain to Attack Obama for Public Radio Comments from 2001:"

" 'But,' Obama said, 'The Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society. And to that extent as radical as I think people tried to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn't that radical. It didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, as least as it's been interpreted, and Warren Court interpreted in the same way that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties, says what the states can't do to you, says what the federal government can't do to you, but it doesn't say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf. And that hasn't shifted.'

"Obama said 'one of the, I think, the tragedies of the civil rights movement, was because the civil rights movement became so court focused, I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change, and in some ways we still stuffer from that.'

"A caller, 'Karen,' asked if it's 'too late for that kind of reparative work economically?' And she asked if that work should be done through the courts or through legislation.

"'Maybe I’m showing my bias here as a legislator as well as a law professor,' Obama said. 'I'm not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts. The institution just isn’t structured that way.' "

Am I a Partisan?

Actually, I'm half-Norwegian. The rest is Irish, mostly.


Many business owners don't discuss politics, or let their political views be known. That's often a good idea. We deal with people who have a wide range of views, or no strong views at all. There's no sense in shocking or offending them. After all, their money's good, whether they're Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Progressives, Libertarians, Marxists, or Nazis.1

On the other hand, this is a blog about starting a small business, and doing business in America. Politics affects business. So with the American presidential election just over a week away, I'm starting to write about the candidates.

An earlier post, "Joe the Plumber Asked the Wrong Question" (October 25, 2008), got several comments. One of them was from that very prolific correspondent, Anonymous.

Anonymous ended a somewhat cryptic set of remarks and/or questions with this:

"Are you a Partisan?

"Should they give their view......? If any party did not give their views, send it to their supporter to question them...."

That got me thinking: Am I a Partisan?

"Partisan" means quite a few things. It's a pike with a long, rather fancy, double-edged, tapering blade. That sort of partisan hasn't been used much, since the 17th century, and obviously I'm not a stick with a knife on the end.

Anonymous probably meant "partisan" as it's more often used: "zealot, drumbeater (a fervent and even militant proponent of something)".

On the other hand, Anonymous capitalized Partisan, which means it's being used as a proper name. There isn't any country called Partia, of course. Or Partania, for that matter. And, I'm not a member of the Texas Partisan Rangers. (That would make me really old, wouldn't it?)

On the other hand, I can get zealous about some things. Facts and common sense, for example.

Yes, I Care About What Happens to America

I've started writing posts for the blog that discuss the American presidential election, and the candidates. I'm far from unbiased. I live in America, and who gets to sit in the oval office's big chair for the next four years makes a difference.

I'd be crazy if I wasn't biased.

Do I "Belong" to Any Political Party?

I've received pubic assistance, and have voted for Democrats. That doesn't make me a Democrat.

I've started my own company, and have gone to Republican conventions, up to the state level. That doesn't make me a Republican. (Actually, it does, as far as being qualified as an observer at the polls.)

The Democrats I voted for seemed to be the best candidates. I got involved in Republican politics because issues I am concerned about were being discussed. But I am not a partisan Democrat or Republican.

I suppose you could call me a partisan American. I think there's a reason (besides welfare) why, for over a century, so many people have been trying to break into this country: instead of the other way around.

America is far from perfect, but it's a place that's gone from "Irish Need Not Apply" to having an Irish president: and will, almost certainly have a president who's black, a woman, Polynesian, or whatever group you're rooting for.

But, I hope that the first black president isn't Barack Obama.

Not because he's When Barack Obama started getting national attention, I was cautiously enthusiastic about the charming and eloquent junior senator. Until I started learning details about his 'lets all stop this bickering and just get along' vision for America.

I've been posting about the American presidential election for several months on another blog. A post that'll give you a general idea of my views is "Monkey Pirates, Jews, and Zionists? Get a Grip!" (Another War-on-Terror Blog (October 14, 2008)).

Not Democrat, Not Republican, What Do I Believe In?

Americans who have values and opinions about social and economic issues are generally divided into groups, like:
  • Conservative
  • Democrat
  • Liberal
  • Progressive
  • Republican
  • Whig
  • Tory
What the groups are, and how they are defined, has changed a bit in the last two centuries. Although I am "conservative" in many ways, by contemporary American standards, I'm not exactly "a conservative."

I'm Catholic.

I base my views on what some of the best minds of the last two millennia have had to say about what people do, what they should do, and why. I've started a blog, A Catholic Citizen in America, to discuss my ongoing attempt to apply thousands of years of accumulated wisdom to the America of Disneyland, Wal-Mart, and Paris Hilton.

How Could Anyone Possibly Not Want Barack Obama as President?

This blog is about business, so that's what I'll concentrate on here.

I'm nowhere near being a bloated capitalist oppressor of the proletariat. I doubt that I'll ever be in the same class as Matt Drudge and Ted Turner. On the other hand, I plan to continue growing my Small World of Websites.

And that means that I'd rather have someone with McCain's views in the White House, than Obama, whose desire to redistribute wealth is starting to emerge.

And that's a topic for another post.
1 Marxists? Nazis? People with these views need groceries too. Not that I'm at all comfortable with either group's beliefs.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Biden Interview about Barack Obama Campaign: ACORN, Redistrubion of Wealth, Marxism, and Other Impertinent Questions

Barack Obama's campaign has canceled all interviews with Florida TV station WFTV. " best for the duration of the remaining days until the election," as the Central Florida communications director for the Obama campaign put it. (Orlando Sentinel (October 25, 2008))

If you're following the campaign, you've probably heard or read that the WFTV interview was "unprofessional." I'm inclined to agree, although not for the reasons that Obama followers would give.

I started writing about Joe Biden, the Obama campaign, and WFTV's interview, this morning. I see that it's now a bit on the long side. Here are the headings: I hope that helps you find your way around.

Joe Biden and Some Impertinent Woman in Florida

Like Joe the Plumber, WFTV's Barbara West asked Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden the wrong questions. Quite a few of them.

Senator Biden didn't, in my opinion, get very "angry." Annoyed, yes, but not what I call angry. And, I can understand Joe Biden's annoyance. Senator Biden was in North Carolina, helping to get out the vote, and had taken time from his busy schedule to do a video interview with some television station in Florida.

The WFTV interviewer, Barbara West, didn't seem to understand how these things are done. She wasn't giving him questions that introduced the favored talking points of Barack Obama's campaign.

In fact, she asked a few questions that were downright awkward. A couple of examples:
Obama and ACORN
The WFTV interviewer asked about the Obama campaign's connection to ACORN.

Joe Biden replied, in part: "We have not paid them one single penny to register a single, solitary voter."

West was somewhat unprofessional, in my opinion, in not challenging Biden's statement, or at least insisting on a clarification. (I'll get back to that.) Perhaps she did not have time.
Barack Obama Wants to Spread the Wealth Around: Is That a Problem?
This is where I think Barbara West began to stray furthest from America's journalistic conventions.

She asked Biden about Barack Obama's 'spread the wealth around' explanation to Joe the Plumber: "Sentator Obama now famously told Joe the Plumber he wanted to spread his wealth around. A gallop poll showed 84 percent of Americans prefer government focus on improving economic conditions and creating more jobs in the U.S., as opposed to taking steps to distribute wealth. Isn't Senator Obama's comment a potentially crushing political blunder?"

Biden's reply started: "Absolutely not. The only person who spread the wealth around has been George Bush and John McCain's tax policies...." [!] [verbatim from video]

I see Joe Biden's response as an attempt to pull the interview back to a conventional sequence of openings and talking points.

This is another error of West's part. Obama did not say he thought it was a good idea to "spread his wealth around" - Obama said "...spread the wealth around...." Not just Joe the Plumber: everybody who makes too much money.
Spread the Wealth Around, Redistribute Wealth: What a "Ridiculous Comparison"
I suspect that an 'unprofessional' question about Obama's 'Joe the Plumber' conversation and Marxism is a major reason why the Obama campaign doesn't want Barack Obama, Joe Biden, or anyone else from the Obama camp, talking to WFTV.

Here's a transcript of that part of the interview, taken from the WFTV video:
  • Barbara West:
    "You may recognize this famous quote: 'From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.' That's from Karl Marx. How is Senator Obama not being a Marxist, if he intends to spread the wealth around?
  • Joe Biden:
    "Are you joking? I-is this a joke?"
  • Barbara West:
  • Joe Biden:
    "Or is this a real question?"
  • Barbara West:
    "That's a question."
  • Joe Biden:
    "Hahaha. He is not spreading the wealth around. He's talking about giving the middle class an opportunity to get back the tax breaks he used to have. What has happened, just this year, people making one point four million dollars average, the top 1 percent: good, decent American people, are going to get a new 87 billion dollar tax cut, a new one, on top of last year. We think the people should be getting that tax break are not continue to redistribute the wealth up. We think middle class taxpayers should get a tax break. That's what we think. It's a ridiculous comparison, with all due respect." [!] [verbatim from video]
Joe Biden is very clear on this point. In his opinion, it's ridiculous to ask about the philosophy of Karl Marx, in the context of Barack Obama's stated opinion about the distribution of property.

Obama did not use the word "redistribute" when he spoke to Joe the Plumber. Barack Obama said, "I think that when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody," as noted in another post.

I gather, from Senator Biden's response, that in his mind "spread the wealth" and "redistribute wealth" are two entirely different ideas.

(Back to the top)

No Wonder the Obama Campaign Blacklisted WFTV

I may be just a bit unfair in my treatment of the West-Biden interview, but not by much. I've brought up Biden's response to three of the questions in the interview:
"We have not paid them one single penny to register a single, solitary voter." - Joe Biden.

This is, precisely as stated, probably true. The $800,000 that Obama's campaign gave was
  • Paid to an ACORN subsidiary, not ACORN itself
  • Intended to register many voters: not "a single, solitary voter"
At least, that's what CNN reported earlier this month.
Spread the Wealth Around
I think Biden took the correct stand here, from a strictly pragmatic point of view. Barack Obama has stated, in public, that he thinks it's a good idea to"spread the wealth around." The American public doesn't, by and large, want to be penalized for being successful. Under these conditions a strident, simple denial, followed by a counter-claim, was one of the few options Biden had.

And, Joe Biden's statement that Obama "is not spreading the wealth around" is, as far as it goes, true. Barack Obama is still a very junior Senator, and is not President. Yet, anyway. He has not been in a position to have a large effect on American policy.
Spread the Wealth, Redistribute the Wealth: a "Ridiculous" Comparison?
As much as I sympathize with Joe Biden's and Barack Obama's evident wish that the 'Joe the Plumber' conversation would go away, this comparison isn't as ridiculous as Senator Biden seems to think it is.

The difference between "spread" (distribute or disperse widely) and "redistribute" (distribute anew) is real, but it's a subtle distinction.

Again, denial and counter-attack was probably Joe Biden's best option.

But, since Barack Obama has said, "I think that when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody," asking if Obama favors a Marxian redistribution of wealth is hardly "ridiculous."

Impertinent, unwanted, intrusive, embarrassing, yes. Ridiculous, no.

(Back to the top)

'We Are Not Accustomed to This Treatment'

I think that Joe Biden and Barack Obama reasonably expect that television interviewers will ask tough, probing questions. Of the other candidates. Like this example from the Situation Room on CNN.

Drew Griffin had pointed out that conservatives were "being hard" on Sarah Palin:
  • Drew Griffin:
    "...'I can't tell if Sarah Palin is incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt, or all of the above.'"
  • "Sarah Palin:
    "Who wrote that one?"
  • "Drew Griffin:
    "That was in the National Review."
Here's what the National Review actually published:
  • "Watching press coverage of the Republican candidate for vice president, it's sometimes hard to decide whether Sarah Palin is incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt, backward, or — or, well, all of the above."
No, despite Mr. Griffen's statement, The National Review doesn't think Sarah Palin is stupid. I wrote more about that interview in "Sarah Palin is 'incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt, or all of the above' " (October 22, 2008).

Now, that's the sort of hard-hitting interview we're used to.

(Back to the top)
The West-Biden interview:

YouTube (October 25, 2008)
video (4:45)

Related posts in this blog: Related posts another of my blogs: In the news and views:

Saturday, October 25, 2008

"Democrat and Halloween:" Cartoon With a (very sharp) Point

I don't usually do this sort of post on this blog, but "Democrat and Halloween" was too good to pass by. It's a one-panel cartoon.

Three kids in (non-politically correct) Halloween costumes are at the door of a house. The man at the door says: "Look how much candy you have! I'm going to take half and give it to the kids too lazy to go trick or treating for themselves!"

If you're not appalled, disgusted, and offended by that line, you'll probably enjoy what one of the kids is thinking, and the rest of the cartoon.

Joe the Plumber Asked the Wrong Question

I'd been wondering why, after we learned that "Joe the Plumber" wasn't "Joe," and wasn't quite a plumber, news and the blogosphere didn't erupt in a firestorm of outrage.

This bald plumber from Ohio had, after all, tricked Barack Obama into making a clear statement about Obama's economic philosophy.

By posing as himself, Joe the Plumber lured Barack Obama into saying "I think that when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody," an unscripted statement that was entirely too easy to understand.

Oh, No, Joe! Say It Ain't So!

News leaked out, last week, that "Joe the Plumber" was really Samuel J. Wurzelbacher: and that he wasn't a licensed plumber. Not in Toledo, Ohio, anyway. After the revelation that Barack Obama had been ambushed by a 'right-wing zealot working under an assumed name,' there wasn't anywhere near the amount of fuss I expected. Maybe I was looking in the wrong places.

Someone probably found out that the "J" in Samuel J. Wurzelbacher stands for "Joseph."

The full name of "Joe the Plumber" is Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher.

So, Joe the Plumber would rather be called Joe than Sam: So what?

Joe the Plumber: Person of Interest

When Joe the Plumber, AKA Joe Wurzelbacher, AKA Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, presented himself as a plumber who wanted to buy the business he'd been working for, Barack Obama explained: " 'I think that when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody,'" and that "Joe" would be okay, personally.

John McCain and his campaign have been claiming that Obama wants to redistribute the wealth. Obama says, 'do not!'

I suppose it's a matter of semantics.

Whether it's "spread the wealth around," or 'redistribute property,' Joe the Plumber got Mr. Obama to state his economic philosophy: simply and directly.

And quite a few Americans are savvy enough to realize that penalizing people for being successful isn't part of the American dream.

That makes Joe the Plumber a person of interest for quite a few people who honestly believe that society would be better if people who make too much had their property confiscated by a wise and benevolent federal bureaucracy.

Joe's Virtual Proctology Exam

Somebody's been feeling around in Joe's records. Data about his driver's license was pulled from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles not long after the debate between John McCain and Barack Obama.

Three times.

(Turns out, Joe owns an SUV. You might have known that he'd be one of those people.)

So far, although we don't know exactly who nosed around inside Joe's records, we do know where the digging was done. The data was accessed by accounts assigned to the:
  • Office of Ohio Attorney General Nancy H. Rogers
  • Cuyahoga County Child Support Enforcement Agency
  • Toledo Police Department
Without, apparently, any official reason.

Professor Rogers holds the Michael E. Moritz Chair in Alternative Dispute Resolution at Ohio State University's Moritz College. She's filling in as Ohio's Attorney General until the November election. She just happens to be a Democrat1.

The Ohio Attorney General's office is investigating the unauthorized access.

It'll probably take a while. At least one of the leaks was from a "test account" given to the attorney general office's information technology section. That doesn't narrow it down as much as you might think. Apparently, the test accounts are shared with, and used by, other "law enforcement-related agencies," as the Columbus Dispatch put it.

One thing is for sure, officially, at least. Mr. Wurzelbacher's information wasn't accessed from inside the attorney general's office. A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office said so.

Sam Joe Wurzelbacher isn't at all happy about this (officially) unauthorized snooping. " 'It upsets me greatly, to be honest with you,' Wurzelbacher told FOX News' Neil Cavuto on Saturday. 'For a private citizen to ask a question of his elected leaders and then turn around and get a proctology exam, that's just kind of wrong.' " (FOXNews (October 25, 2008))

I think Joe the Plumber has a point.

Joe the Plumber for Congress?

It could be "Joe the Congressman" after 2010. Mr. Wurzelbacher's thinking about running for office. I'd say that the citizens of Ohio could do a lot worse.

Views: In the news:
1 Interim Ohio Attorney General Rogers' political affiliation isn't discussed much. Ohio's Democratic governor, Ted Strickland, said he didn't know that Professor Rogers was a Democrat when he appointed her, so that should settle the matter.

News and views:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Commercial Space Travel: As Practical as a Mission to the Moon

This post is a bit off-topic, but:

  • I'd gathered this information for another blog
  • The information wouldn't interest my target audience there
  • It seemed a shame to let it go to waste
  • Space exploration and commercial development in space is something I'm very interested in
So, with that flimsy set of excuses, here goes.
There's a 'race to the moon' again: this time in Asia. Depending on which side of Earth you're on, India launched a spaceship bound for the moon yesterday, or early today. (Excerpts from the news at the end of this post)

Getting a spaceship to the moon is a pretty big deal. Five organizations have sent missions to Earth's only natural satellite so far: the United States, Russia, the European Space Agency, Japan and China. If all goes well with Chandrayan-1, India will make it six.

Space Programs and a Social Conscience

The "...still live in dire poverty..." in one article reminded me of the sixties here in America, when the argument was that money for the space program should have been spent on well-intentioned programs like Chicago's Cabrini-Green housing project.

Even though some of the federal budget was siphoned off to build places like the Johnson Space Center in Houston, America made an earnest effort to end poverty by concentrating poor people in housing projects and giving them money to stay unemployed.

Those social programs didn't work out quite as well as some had expected.

The Johnson Space Center, on the other hand, does business with contractors from Aerospace Corp. to Wyle Life Sciences Group, with outfits like Al-Razaq Computing Services (the contact person is Ralph Schomburg - I love this country), MacDonald Dettwiler Space Robotics, and Major Constructors, LLC in between.

Although the connection isn't too obvious to some, when a company like Aerospace Corp. gets a contract, it hires people to get jobs done. Or, sometimes it hires subcontractors, who hire people to get jobs done.

The point is that, although I hope that the company owners and managers profit from the contracts, quite a bit of the money goes through the company, to employees. Then, the employees spend it in groceries and gas stations, and - well, you get the idea.

An amazing number of people don't.

So, although in the sort run it looks like India ought to spend money on things like housing projects and social programs, I think that the country's space program will do more good to those people 'living in dire poverty' than housing projects and welfare.

It takes people, lots of people, to build launch pads, support facilities, office buildings, and roads to connect everything. It takes other people to do everything from empty the wastebaskets in the office and answer the phone, to design robots for moon missions.

And, unless things have changed in India, those people will be paid.

To paraphrase Mae West, 'I've been employed, and I've been unemployed. Employed is better.'

Moon Marketing

There's a lot of money in commercial satellites, and India (quite understandably) wants a piece of the pie. This moon mission, if they pull it off, will get them publicity and status that no marketing campaign could produce. Although arguably the moon mission is a marketing campaign. I'm not going to go off on that tangent.

Sending a robot spaceship to the moon, successfully, is a good way of demonstrating competence in space technology: and it gets quite a lot of (free) publicity.

Space and the Private Sector

Spaceships aren't a government monopoly, at least not in America. Branson's Virgin Galactic and Rutan's Scaled Composites LLC are examples of business getting space-savvy. Not that the CNN article ("Branson, Rutan to unveil mothership" CNN (July 28, 2008)) put it quite that way.

I've run out of the time allotted for this post. So this wrap-up will be quick.

Moon missions were science fiction when I was growing up. Now, they're publicity projects (and a little more) for a half-dozen nations and organizations. Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites are very close to providing passenger service on suborbital flights.

I was going to write about serious proposals for Low Earth Orbit tourist resorts. Maybe some other time.

  • " 'Hot Eagle:' the Space Marines Are Coming"
    Another War-on-Terror Blog (October 19, 2008)
  • "'La force motrice' of Reusable Launcher Development: The Rise and Fall of the SDIO's SSTO Program, From the X-Rocket to the Delta Clipper
    NASM Talk / NASA (November 18, 1999?)
  • "Getting to Low Earth Orbit" (Space Future (April, 1999))
  • "Chandrayaan to carry 11 payloads" (October 14, 2008)
    Includes details on the payloads:
    1. Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC): Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
    2. Hyper Spectral Imager (HySI): ISRO
    3. Lunar Laser Ranging Instrument (LLRI): ISRO
    4. High Energy X-ray Spectrometer (HEX): ISRO
    5. Moon Impact Probe (MIP): ISRO
    6. Chandrayaan-1 X-ray Spectrometer (C1XS): European Space Agency (ESA) with collaboration between Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK and ISRO Satellite Centre, ISRO
    7. Near-IR Spectrometer (SIR-2): Max-Plank-Institute for Solar System Science, through the Max-Plank Society, Germany and ESA
    8. Sub Kev Atom reflecting Analyser (SARA): ESA, in collaboration with Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Sweden and Space Physics Laboratory, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, ISRO
    9. Radiation Dose Monitor Experiment (RADOM): Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
    10. Miniature Synthetic Aperture Radar (MiniSAR): USA through NASA
    11. Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3): Brown University and Jet Propulsion Laboratory, USA through NASA
India's Chandrayaan-1 in the News:

"India Launches Moon Mission in Asian Space Race" (October 21, 2008)

"NEW DELHI (AP) — Scientists have better maps of distant Mars than the moon where astronauts have walked. But India hopes to change that with its first lunar mission.

"Chandrayaan-1 — which means "Moon Craft" in ancient Sanskrit — launched from the Sriharikota space center in southern India early Wednesday morning (Local Time) in a two-year mission aimed at laying the groundwork for further Indian space expeditions.

"Chief among the mission's goals is mapping not only the surface of the moon, but what lies beneath. India joined what's shaping up as a 21st century space race with Chinese and Japanese crafts already in orbit around the moon....

"...As India's economy has boomed in recent years, it has sought to convert its new found wealth — built on its high-tech sector — into political and military clout and stake a claim as a world leader. It is hoping that a moon mission — coming just months after it finalized a deal with the United States that recognizes India as a nuclear power — will further enhance that status...."

"Lunar mission blasts off"
The Strait Times (Singapore) (October 22, 2008)

"SRIHARIKOTA (India) - INDIA on Wednesday successfully launched its first lunar mission in a major boost for the country's space programme.

"There were cheers in mission control as the unmanned lunar orbiting spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 was launched with an Indian-built rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on the southeastern coast...."

"...India is hoping the mission will boost its space programme into the same league as regional powerhouses Japan and China.

"As well as looking to carve out a larger slice of the lucrative commercial satellite launch market, India, Japan and China also see their space programmes as an important symbol of their international stature and economic development.

"The launch was carried live on most Indian television channels, although some critics have questioned the sense in spending so much money on space when hundreds of millions of Indians still live in dire poverty...."
Chandrayan? Chandrayaan? The first spelling is used in most of the articles I read, the second in the This is the sort of thing that happens when words from one language - and writing system - are dropped into another. I'm using the first for what I write in this post, and leaving the 'double a' version in the article.

Friday, October 17, 2008

FBI and Republicans in "Unholy Alliance" to Stop ACORN and Obama: Of Course! It all Makes Sense Now

I might have known. It's all a plot. The FBI is investigating ACORN in all those states because the Republicans want McCain, Bush's defective evil clone, in the White House.

I made up the part about the defective evil clone. The rest, however, is straight from the Obama campaign's top lawyer, Bob Bauer.

Business, Politics, and Redistributing Property

I didn't think this blog would 'go political,' but then I didn't think that a presidential candidate would tell someone he thought was an aspiring small business owner that he wanted to "spread the wealth around."

A publicly-stated desire to "spread the wealth around" isn't quite the same as a declared intent to redistribute wealth, but it's disturbingly close. And taking property from people who are productive, giving it to a government bureaucracy, and hoping that the struggling poor benefit doesn't sound like a very good idea. It's been tried.

Obama and ACORN: Victims of a Conspiracy

According to Mr. Bauer, Republicans are plotting to " 'sow confusion and harass voters and complicate the process for millions of Americans.'

" 'What we're seeing is an unholy alliance of law enforcement and the ugliest form of partisan politics,' Bauer said. 'Nobody really expects thousands of Mickey Mouses or Tony Romos to show up at the poll and vote this fall.' "
(AFP, via Yahoo! News (October 17, 2008))

Mickey Mouse and Tony Romos, no. Thousands of people whose Social Security numbers don't match the federal database, and/or who all have the same handwriting, yes.

A blog in The New York Times quotes from a letter that Mr. Bauer sent, asking for an investigation of this unholy alliance"

"I request that Special Prosecutor Dannehy's inquiry include a review of any involvement by Justice Department and White House officials in supporting the McCain-Palin campaign and the Republican National Committee ("RNC")'s systematic development and dissemination of unsupported, spurious allegations of vote fraud. It is highly likely that the very sort of politically motivated conduct identified in the Department's investigation to date, necessitating the appointment of a Special Prosecutor, is repeating itself, and for the same reason: unwarranted and politically motivated intervention in the upcoming election. An investigation must be entrusted to government officials who do not have an improper political motivation or a conflict of interest, either in fact or appearance."
(The Caucus blog, The New York Times (October 17, 2008)) [emphasis mine]

The FBI, the Republicans, and at Least One Democrat, Plotting Against Legitimate Votes

One of those "unsupported, spurious allegations of vote fraud" involves 2,100 voter applications in Lake County. The Lake Country Election Board became suspicious when dead people, and one restaurant, showed up in the first 2,100 applications they got from ACORN. One of the Election Board members said were fraudulent. She added that whoever filed them broke the law. She's a Democrat.

An Election's Coming Up: Let's Think

If the stakes weren't so high, this year's American presidential election would be hilarious: assuming that you like "Monty Python's Flying Circus."

It looks like hordes of zombie voters are asking for absentee ballots. And, considering that it's ACORN helping and/or controlling them, the odds are that they'll vote for the delegate ACORN's supporting: Barack Obama.

I don't think that Mr. Obama's approach to foreign policy is what America needs right now, and I certainly don't think that his stated preference for taxing employers and others who make too much money is going to help people find jobs.

Whatever you decide, please: Think about your choice. Mr. Obama is good-looking and one of the best orators America's seen for years. But, there's more to being president than that.

Blog posts on related topics: In the news:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher: American Taxpayer, Entrepreneur, and Voice of Reason in 2008 Election

Updated October 16, 2008

I didn't think this blog would 'go political.' It's Joe Wurzelbacher's fault, sort of.

He's the plumber who told Barack Obama that he planned to buy the plumbing business where he'd worked for years. Right now, he can afford it.

If Obama gets elected, and follows through on his plan to tax the rich (persons making more than $250,000 USD a year) and give to the poor, Joe Wurselbacher won't be able to buy that plumbing business. As owner of the business, his income will be too high.

What Joe Wurzelbacher Said to Barack Obama

"In that exchange Wurzelbacher asked Obama if he believed in the American Dream. Wurzelbacher said he was about to buy a company that makes more than $250,000 a year and was concerned that Obama would tax him more because of it...."

What Obama Said, to Joe

" 'I think that when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody,' Obama told Wurzelbacher."

What Joe Said, Later

"I've always wanted to ask one of these guys a question and really corner them and get them to answer a question... for once instead of tap dancing around it...."

What John McCain Said, Later

" 'Joe wants to buy the business that he has been in for all of these years, worked 10, 12 hours a day. And he wanted to buy the business but he looked at your tax plan and he saw that he was going to pay much higher taxes,' McCain challenged Obama."

Obama's Response, Still Later

'That's not so.' More specifically, ""Not only do 98 percent of small businesses make less than $250,000, but I also want to give them additional tax breaks, because they are the drivers of the economy,' Obama said. 'They produce the most jobs.' "

Help Like This We Don't Need

I'm not sure which Obama to believe: the one that wants to "spread the wealth around," or the one who says that his new and improved taxes won't keep Joe from buying the business he's saved for.

I'm a bit uneasy about McCain, too, since he said, "Joe, I want to tell you, I'll not only help you buy that business that you worked your whole life for and I'll keep your taxes low and I'll provide available and affordable health care for you and your employees. And I will not stand for a tax increase on small business income."

I'm quite sure that I don't want Obama to "spread the wealth around," and not at all comfortable about getting McCain's help, either.

Former President Reagan said it best:
"The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.' "
(Quotations Page)

(From CNN, used without permission)
Joe Wurzelbacher: About to be Redistributed Out of the American Dream

Am I Biased? You Bet!!

My sympathy is with Mr. Wuzelbacher.

I'm the sole proprietor of the Brian H. Gill company, operating out of the north room of my house. Unlike Mr. Wuzelbacher, I won't be hiring anyone. On the other hand, there's equipment I'd like to buy, and services I'd like to pay for: so the more money I make, the more money goes to companies that do hire people.

As it is, I've got a shot at making a success of publishing "A Small World of Websites." At this point, making $250,000 USD a year is a long way off, at best, but it could happen.

However, if Obama gets his chance to "spread the wealth around," the odds of my success go down. Even if I'm not taxed for contributing to the economy, there's a very good chance that an Obama administration won't stop at higher taxes for 'the rich.'

I recognize that federal agencies have their lucid moments. (Explaining these bucolic references: I grew up near the east end of North Dakota.) Decades ago, OSHA decided that North Dakota farmers didn't have to install a matrix of porta potties, stretching beyond the horizon. And, federal wetland guidelines were re-written so that farmers could use their driveways, even rain puddles didn't dry up right away.

I don't know what crazy regulation would apply to my business. It's got about as low a carbon footprint as someone who exhales carbon dioxide can have, and doesn't deal in toxic chemicals (unless my coffee counts). Maybe the feds would insist that I lose weight. Which isn't a bad idea, in itself: but can you imagine having the Weight Police doing spot checks when they felt like it?

Haven't We Been Through This Before?

I'm not the first one to compare today's exciting economic news to the Great Depression's kickoff, and I won't be the last.

I'll take the rest of this post to give some background on why I'm not terribly excited about Obama's tax-the-employers plan. And, why I'm uneasy about McCain's promise to "help."

The Great Depression and FDR, The Savior of America

The conventional wisdom is still that the wise and beneficent Franklin Delano Roosevelt saved America from the Great Depression by taxing the businesses that could have produced more jobs and hired more people, who would have money to buy more goods, which would make more jobs possible.

It didn't make all that much sense to me, but I'm not an economist.

Turns out, I'm not the only one who thinks FDR's 'tax the employers and give to the government' policy may have been flawed. "FDR's Folly: How Roosevelt and His New Deal Prolonged the Great Depression" (Jim Powell, 2004 ISBN: 0-7615-0165-7) expresses that rather heretical view. And, got a rather scathing review.

The way I see it, the Great Depression would have happened, no matter who was sitting in the Oval Office. Agricultural practices that America has since abandoned, encouraging people to farm marginal land (made sense during WWI, not so much afterward), years of bad weather ('climate change,' we'd say now), buying stocks with money borrowed on the basis of daft assumptions, and other factors pretty much guaranteed that.

But, well-intentioned tinkering with America's economy may have kept the stock market from recovering as fast as it might have. And taking money away from companies, so that they couldn't hire people, was about as daft a way of dealing with unemployment as I've heard of.

It could be argued that FDR's enlightened New Deal policies, and the massive federal bureaucracy that went with it, Saved America. After all, the Great Depression did end. After a decade, more or less, depending on where you were.


It took World War II, and the radical shift in national priorities that went with it, but the Great Depression did end.

Two points, and I'm done:
  1. The Great Depression wasn't just an American event. People around the world were hurting. I'm concentrating on the American experience here, because I'm discussing the American presidential election.
  2. Since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has a large and enthusiastic fan base to this day, I'll probably be told to study some history. Which I have, with a degree to prove it. I'm not absolutely convinced that Roosevelt's policy of taxing the employers and giving to the bureaucrats prolonged the Great Depression, but it's an idea that I think deserves serious consideration.
In the news:
Update October 16, 2008

Turns out, "Joe the Plumber" isn't Joe, and he's not exactly a plumber.

I discussed details in another blog (" 'Joe the Plumber' Isn't Quite a Plumber, and Isn't 'Joe!' " Another War on Terror Blog (October 16, 2008)).

I suspect that, if facts keep getting shaken loose, we'll discover that Samuel J. Wurzelbacher's middle name is Joseph, that most people call him "Joe" instead of "Sam," and that he's one of many Americans who had trouble paying their taxes, and who really hadn't needed a plumber's license.

None of which changes the fact that Barack Obama thought he was speaking to a 'real' plumber when he said that it was good to "spread the wealth around."

And I'm still not at all comfortable with the idea that someone who apparently wants to redistribute property in America may be president next year.

Friday, October 3, 2008 Launched Today: Sauk Centre Journal Goes Solo, Sort of

I launched the Sauk Centre Journal seven years ago next month. It was a page on my original stand-alone website, Brendan's Island, where I wrote about what was going on in Sauk Centre.

People started reading it, and pretty soon the Sauk Centre Journal was the second-most-viewed page on Brendan's Island. Which is pretty impressive, since at that time it was a couple of clicks away from the website's home page, with a slightly complex URL: I could have changed the URL when I changed the name of the page from "Sauk Centre This Season" to "Sauk Centre Journal." So many people had it bookmarked, though, that I decided to keep the URL the way it was.

Last month, someone in town told me that I should give the Sauk Centre Journal its own URL: one that was easier to remember. Thinking it over, I realized that this was a very good idea.

So today I registered the domain saukcentrejournal dot com, and redirected that URL to the Sauk Centre Journal page.

People who bookmarked the old URL won't notice any difference, but now I hope that the Sauk Centre Journal will start attracting even more visitors. Eventually, I plan to change the appearance of the Sauk Centre Journal pages, but that will have to wait.

I update the Journal promptly every Wednesday and Sunday night. Unless something happens, which has been happening quite a bit lately.

Next week, I gotta get organized!

About Investing, Steve Jobs, Heart Attacks, Rumors, and Getting a Grip

'It's on CNN, it must be true.'

Well, no.

Particularly when its on, a do-it-yourself news service run by CNN. The slogan is "Unedited. Unfiltered. News." I'd say they got two out of three right, with a 'maybe' on the third.

I have no problem with how CNN is running the website. I think they've got a good idea: a sort of journalistic version of Wikipedia.

And the dicey nature of posts on is very clearly spelled out. The About page starts:

"The views and content on this site are solely those of the contributors. CNN makes no guarantees about the content or the coverage on!

"Lots of people argue about what constitutes news. But, really, it's just something that happens someplace to someone...."

That first paragraph is in bold, and the sentence ends with an exclamation mark.

I'm inclined to agree about the start of the second paragraph. My first successful publishing effort online was (and is) the Sauk Centre Journal, although I tell people that it's everything that isn't news in Sauk Centre, Minnesota.


No, not really. But when this headline showed up yesterday, "Steve Jobs rushed to ER following severe heart attack," Apple stocks dipped.

They're back up, now.

Here's what 'citizen journalist' johntw had to say: "Oct 2, 2008 ... Steve Jobs was rushed to the ER just a few hours ago after suffering a major heart attack. I have an insider who tells me that paramedics ...". That fragment, from a Google search page, is all I found of johntw's article. That was around noon, central time.

CNN's has done some quick housecleaning. The "Steve Jobs rushed to ER following severe heart attack" article's link now leads to a page that says, "This content is currently unavailable." profile on now reads, in its entirety, "This profile is no longer available."

Think With Your Brain, Not Your Endocrine System

If I owned stock in Apple, I'd be a bit startled by a headline like's. But I like to think that, before dumping part of my portfolio, I'd take a deep breath and think. Where did this information come from? How reliable is it? Is it verified anywhere? Is it verifiable?

From the sounds of it, there was a wonderful opportunity to buy Apple stocks as panicky investors dumped what they had.

Isn't Steve Jobs Important to Apple?

Apparently, yes. Conventional wisdom seems to say that As Steve Jobs goes, so goes Apple.

One of the advantages of a company that's very 'personal,' like a sole proprietorship, is that it can react quickly to changes, and make decisions that don't come from a gaggle of Dilbertesque executives.

The catch is that, when the company's leader leaves, the company falls apart, or at least has to go through major changes, fast.

Rumors: Great Entertainment; Not So Great Guidance

I enjoyed seeing headlines about space alien abductions and Elvis sightings. The current crop of tabloid editors don't seem to have quite the same imaginative edge, but I still see some amazing things at the grocery checkout.

That headline about Steve Jobs was a bit more plausible than those Elvis and the Space Aliens stories, but honestly, now: is it reasonable to make financial decisions based on an unsubstantiated story?

Information that starts with 'some guy said he heard that...' isn't the most reliable in the world. And I think that is learning, as Wikipedia did a few years ago, that some people just don't bother with facts when they write.

In the news:

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