Stephen W. Browne Rants and Raves

November 28, 2010

Sarah’s gaffe

Filed under: Uncategorized — Stephen W. Browne @ 6:42 am

I found something kind of funny in all the fuss about Sarah Palin confusing “North” with “South” Korea on the Glenn Beck show.

1) She had been talking about South Korea previously in the program – so yes, it was a slip of the tongue. (And for the record, no I don’t think she should run for president, see below.)

2) Nobody has thought to mention “all 57 states,” “the Austrian language,” or “corpse-man” in this context. Or for that matter, GWB’s “Kosovians.” A list of Joe Biden’s gaffes would fill books, not articles. By the way, when I interviewed him some time back that’s what Senator Byron Dorgan called Biden’s plagarism of Neil Kinnock’s speech several election cycles ago.

Biden doesn’t “gaffe” – he lies. And also by the way my fellow-journalists, omitting signigicant data for the purposes of leaving a false impression is also a lie. Look up “lie of omission.”

3) One columnist, Lucius Wilson had this to say, “Can you Imagine if the President or any other Democrat had made that mistake, the Republicans would have been all over the news none stop (sic) crowing about it.”

That’s “non-stop” Mr. Wilson.

It gets better. Go to Sarah Palin’s Facebook page and check out the “President’s Thanksgiving Message to all 57 States.”

My fellow Americans in all 57 states, the time has changed for come. With our country founded more than 20 centuries ago, we have much to celebrate – from the FBI’s 100 days to the reforms that bring greater inefficiencies to our health care system. We know that countries like Europe are willing to stand with us in our fight to halt the rise of privacy, and Israel is a strong friend of Israel’s. And let’s face it, everybody knows that it makes no sense that you send a kid to the emergency room for a treatable illness like asthma and they end up taking up a hospital bed. It costs, when, if you, they just gave, you gave them treatment early, and they got some treatment, and ah, a breathalyzer, or an inhalator. I mean, not a breathalyzer, ah, I don’t know what the term is in Austrian for that…

The original has links to YouTube videos of the original “gaffes.”

November 27, 2010

A climate of uncertainty

Filed under: Uncategorized — Stephen W. Browne @ 8:51 am

The other day I was having a friendly discussion with some people of generally liberal persuasion, concerning the economic situation and economics in general. I was wondering how to get over some basic concepts of free market economics without getting unbearably tedious or argumentative in a social situation.

This is not an unusual situation for me. I don’t think there is a more important subject that people in general know less about. And that’s odd, because it’s not all that complicated.

You’d think they’d teach basic economics in high school. But then again with greater knowledge of economics more people might come to realize you can’t get something for nothing and a great many government policies would cease to make sense to most people.

At any rate, not wanting to argue any specific points of Obama’s economic policies I simply pointed out something F.A. Hayek observed a long time ago. Beyond a certain minimum, it is more important that the law be consistent than it be perfectly just or make perfect sense.

A little thought shows the wisdom of this. We can live with stupid laws and policies. In fact we live with a great many of them.* But we can live with them when we at least know what to expect from the law from day to day.

One important reason for the current recession lingering past the normal time of recovery is the climate of uncertainty. Investors with capital are sitting on it, because they just don’t know what to expect next from the government.

I believe it is now widely, if grudgingly, admitted the Great Depression was actually prolonged by FDR’s constant tinkering with the economy.

That point went over well, as it should because it makes intuitive sense to anyone with responsibilities who has had to plan for the future.

Then while explaining this something further hit me.

It’s not just that a president with little understanding of economics and an open hostility to capitalism is unilaterally making sweeping changes in the economy – it’s the mere fact that he can.

If Barack Obama stopped screwing around with the economy today. If he let it be known he was reading a stack of books by Milton Friedman and Hayek. If he fired his entire staff of economic advisors and appointed Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams – the damage has been done and can’t be undone.

The mere fact that a president has gotten away with such massive meddling in the economy may mean a the climate of uncertainty will remain, even after the economy recovers.

Of course Wilson and FDR meddled on a similar scale. So what happened?

Wilsonian meddling preceded the Great Depression. (And yes, Hoover did play a part in that, but I believe more in his capacity of economic czar during WWI than as president.) The Great Depression was ameliorated by WWII.

What’s going to follow our current president’s policy of economic dirigisme?

Dont know, but I doubt it’ll be anything good.

*I’d add this caveat. I think it was Blackstone that pointed out there are many laws that are so old people have forgotten the original purpose of them. You find out, sometimes disastrously, when you ignore or do away with them.

Then it’s, “Oh that’s what that law was for!”

November 24, 2010

I love SUVs!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Stephen W. Browne @ 9:11 am

On the road last week I got a call from my wife.

“Steve we’re all right,” she said.

“All right! What do you mean all right?” I screamed into the cell phone.

Don’t you just love those calls? Someone calls to reassure you before you’ve any clue something is wrong. Scary as hell.

After our old van bit the dust, we’d been borrowing a jeep from some friends, with the understanding we were going to buy it when a deposit matured and we could take the money without penalty.

What she was calling to tell me was the jeep had rolled over on the highway when she was taking our son to school.

The jeep landed on the roof and they hung upside-down until a passerby broke out the window with a hammer. She had a small scratch. My son didn’t have a mark on him, though he cried all the way home and he’s still a little shook up.

I told him, “Hey, don’t be glum. You’ve going to be the coolest kid in school!”

My little girl was not in the car, and I think she thinks she missed something really fun.

The trooper who worked the accident said it was the fourth rollover that morning, and one later proved fatal when the driver died in the hospital later that week.

Last winter I reseached an article on rollovers – take note 80 percent of fatalities are among those not belted in. And… while SUVs are more likely to roll over, occupants are more likely to survive in those tank-like vehicles.

Well, “You broke it you buy it.”

Do I mind? Not a bit. I sure as hell couldn’t spend the money to bring them back if things had been as bad as they might have!

So you green freaks who hate SUVs – I’d like to strap you into a VW, set the cruise control on high, and send you down a steep hill round a curve onto a sheet of ice!

November 21, 2010

Run Sarah – but not for president

Filed under: Politics — Stephen W. Browne @ 8:46 am

Mona Charen has an editorial explaining why Sarah Palin should not run for President in 2010.

I have to say there’s a lot reasons in this article I don’t much care for. Among other things it reeks of that snotty elitist disdain for popular culture.

Nonetheless I agree Palin shouldn’t run in 2012.

Numero uno – John Bolton is talking about running. It would be insane not to run Bolton if he wants to.

Claire Berlinski noted in an ‘Uncommon Knowledge’ interview in a world where North Korea is nuclear and Iran is about to go nuclear, it makes little sense to elect someone who may be ready to lead the country in 2012.

It is of course true that Palin is better prepared than Barack Obama is every likely to be. But this is, shall we say, damning with faint praise.

Palin is nonetheless showing a genius for connecting with people in flyover country, at a time when Washingtonians can’t seem to keep from showing their aristocratic disdain for us common folks. This by the way, shows in Charen’s obvious distaste for Palin’s travel show about Alaska, and her disgust with Palin’s daughter Bristol’s appearance on Dancing with the Stars.

Tell me Mona, if you don’t like the example of a single mother bumping and grinding to the tune of “Mamma Told Me Not To Come,” can you suggest another way that single mom can make $50 grand per show to support herself and her kid? It’s better than public assistance, more praiseworthy than living off your parents, and it ain’t The Pole honey.

In my humble opinion what this amounts to is – Sarah should run for Republican National Committee chairman.

There is a great deal of discontent with current chairman Michael Steele – which probably wouldn’t translate into support for Palin though. Whether Steele will go for another term is still unknown.

Acording to WaPo:

On Friday, Steele issued his own memo, trumpeting the historic Republican victories this month and claiming the RNC’s share of credit. He argued that it was the RNC that helped achieve “what was, by far, the greatest turnout by any party in any midterm election in U.S. history.”

Bullshit. It was the Tea Party and Sarah Palin fighting the ossified Good Ole Boy Republican oligarchy.

Remember Palin made her bones in Alaska doing the same – to the extent that some of the native Corrupt Ole Boy Republicans are now wearing orange jump suits?

As I’ve said, there’s something about the U.S. system that limits us to two major parties. To take this country back we have to take over a major party. I’ve reluctantly come to the conclusion that a third-party strategy isn’t going to work. We need to take the GOP and Sarah might just be the girl to do it.

November 14, 2010

Life on the road with culture, education, and just the bare necessities of life

Filed under: Uncategorized — Stephen W. Browne @ 8:14 am

Well it’s been a few weeks now, five-and-a-half day weeks to be exact. That’s as much time I can spend driving legally before I have to take the DOT mandated 34-hour reset. I’m hauling sunflower seed and wheat for harvest from elevators around the state to mills and processing plants.

I sleep in the cab nights. When things are less hectic after harvest, I’m going to start kitting the cab out with a cooler, microwave and/or grill, and my work station. For all this I need a power inverter that enables me to use standard AC plugs.

One thing I just got that’s making life much more pleasant is a Kindle. My dad, who at 85 is the computer nerd in our family, got one and offered to buy them for all of us.

I almost said, “No thanks, I’ve got books.”

The thing is amazing. It’s got something close to the optical properties of paper – which is what I worried about. Backlit devices are not good for the eyes. I found Amazon has a bunch of stuff for download that is either free or costs pennies. I found there is a lot of H. Beam Piper stuff I haven’t read when I bought a 32-piece set of his novels and short stories, for $1.99!

The problem these days is exercise. If the weather were better, I’d take my Indian clubs along. But it’s getting cold out nights, and getting colder. When it starts to get to the 30-40 below range…

I think I’m going to have to reacquaint myself with the kind of yoga you can do on a bunk. And come to think of it, you can do Sil Lum Tao in any space you can stand upright in. (That’s the first form of Wing Chun Gung Fu, which contains the essence of the art.) I think a return to classic low horse stance training might be good for the aches and pains in the legs that come with driving.

I haven’t mentioned the phenomenon of “drivers’ constipation” I see. Perhaps another time.

For mental exercise I take along some of the audio versions of The Great Courses. Right now I’m working my way through Robert Greenberg’s ‘The Symphony’ and John Mc Whorter’s ‘The Story of Human Language.’ I went through Greenberg’s series on music theory (a term he dislikes) already and I got his series on Opera for my wife, who is actually training in operatic-style voice.

What’s great about this is – no final exam, no pressure. Greenberg started to lose me in the last half of the series – but who cares? I know more than I did about the subject, and I’ve always got the lectures. Which are by the way, dynamic, fairly easy to follow, and funny as hell in spots.

Interestingly, I made a chance contact with a couple who run a three-county weekly newspaper in Way-the-heckout, North Dakota. I may become a contributing columnist again.

But what’s really interesting for now is my “moments.”

When I first went to live in Poland in 1991, I’d have these “Polish moments” when I stop on the street, clap my palm to my forehead and think, “My God, I’m in Poland!”

When I became a father for the first – and second time, I’d have these “fatherhood moments” when I’d realize, “My God, I’m a FATHER!” and “My God, I’m the father of TWO children!”

Now while driving down the road I have these “Hey, I’m a truck driver, pretty cool!” moments.

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