Ned Pepper's Outrages

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Kids on drugs

As if there weren't enough 'depressing' news around, now comes word through the WSJ that a quarter of kids in this benighted country are taking prescription drugs on a regular basis. Of course, most medicos have little idea what these drugs are really doing to our kids in the long run. Much of the doses are for asthma, and many of these are prescribed to black children. Ned wonders how many black kids who have asthma can't afford the relatively benign medication, like corticosteroids, to control it. And how many live in polluted conditions that are causing the asthma in the first place?
And how many kids have unhealthy diets that are causing the problem that drugs are used to "fix?"
Ned recalls that the three greatest sources of calories for kids are baked desserts, pizza, and sodas.
But that's beside the point. What is going on here when a quarter of our children are on drugs whose long-term impact is unknown? And how many are on multiple drugs? And how many are wrongly prescribed?
The reference is Read it and weep.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Cut "defense?" No way!

One of Ned's perennial favorite blowhards, extreme right-wing former UN "Ambassador" John Bolton, has opined to Fox "News"(h/t TPM) that now is NO time to cut "defense" spending. Too many threats that we don't know about and lots that we do, according to this sage. So, $800 billion isn't enough for these people, even though we "defeated" the Russians on a war, er, "defense" budget of $270 billion. Ned wonders how much WOULD be enough to these bloodthirsty reactionaries, and how many of other people's kids they would be happy to see blown to hell in the name of "freedom." A couple hundred thousand in Iraq, tens of thousands in Nicaragua and El Salvador, and even a few hundred in Granada. A million in Vietnam. The clock is still counting in Afghanistan.
Ned only wishes that Mr Bolton, and all such like him, would get the reward that Ned would give them.

The Dauphin's Jest

Ned admits to an affection for the Henrys: Henry IV, parts 1 and 2; Henry V, and yes, even that stepchild, Henry VI, in three parts. But today he would like to quote from Henry V. The Dauphin of France, in a contemptuous gesture, has sent King Henry a 'gift' of tennis balls in answer to Henry's claim to the throne of France. Henry goes into a carefully-controlled but furious tirade, and he closes it this way: 'Get you hence in peace, and tell the Dauphin, his jest will savour but of shallow wit, when thousands weep more than did laugh at it.'
Ned fears that's gong to the the long-term impact of Obama's demonization of BP. Here's one snippet: Bloomberg news is reporting a bit of rather old news, that state pension plans took a $1.4 billion bath from the falling price of BP stock. But this is just a part of the story. BP was paying 84 cents a share quarterly until Obama browbeat the company into canceling it for 2010. How much will that cost pension plans in addition to the $1.4 billion? A $1.4 billion loss implies that state pension plans in total owned about 50 million shares of BP, since the shares are down about $30. (Do the math.)
Let's assume the plans had 50 million shares. How much is the loss of dividends going to cost them? About $40 million a quarter. For the year, a cool $120 million. Now, to those who are piously scorning these pension plan members, saying they should have "done due diligence" and nonsense like that, Ned replies scornfully that most members really don't know the holdings of their plans, and couldn't do anything about it if they did. BTW, the same thing is true for individuals, since voting in corporate business is "one share, one vote." But let that pass.
Ned's point is that if BP had been allowed to continue paying those dividends, hundreds of thousands of state employees, who did nothing wrong, would have pension plans that are markedly healthier than today. And BP could have continued to pay for damages in the GOM. But for short-term political gain, Obama chose to demonize BP, materially contributing to its stock price crash.

"His jest will savour but of shallow wit, when thousands weep, more than did laugh at it."

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Dream Act

During Roman times in Britain, the Romans made the populace a deal: join the legions and see the world!
The deal came with benefits: if a legionnaire from the provinces survived for a 20-year stint (extremely unlikely) he got a small plot of land around the Roman fort or caestra where he was billeted, and, not least, Roman citizenship. Thus grew many British settlements into large cities like Chester (caestra), Manchester, and so forth. Of course, the main reason the Romans liked this deal was that it provided cannon fodder for the emperor.
Today, we have a modern version of the Roman deal we call the Dream Act: it promises illegal immigrants whose parents brought them here illegally as tykes, the opportunity for American citizenship, if they do one of two things: get a college degree (competing with many other working class and poor kids for scarce and increasingly expensive places, with no guarantee of employment) or join the legions and see the world, that is, enlist in the American military and become essentially a mercenary fighting for the President, who has taken the place of the emperor. If this act were to pass, and it so far has been defeated by Republican opposition in the Senate (another holdover from Rome), it would provide hundreds of thousands of potential cannon fodder to fight America's many wars of aggression against all those funny dressing colored people who we define as potential enemies of "freedom."
Ned figures, for once, like the proverbial stopped clock that is right twice a day, the Republicans are right, but when they fully grasp the opportunities for thousands of new, poor and desperate enlistees, Ned predicts many of them will change their mind.
To the enlistees, Ned recommends the Latin phrase: "Ave Imperator, morituri te salutant."

The New Feudalism

For those disgruntled authoritarians among Ned's readers, he can report that feudalism, thought to have gone belly-up in the 17th century in the West and the early 20th in Russia, may be alive and well after all. In Sunday's NYT is a report that describes yet again the growing income inequality in the US. According to this, at present there is a 42% chance that a person born to a man and woman in the lowest fifth of the income scale will remain at that income level for life. This compares to a 30% chance for an English child and a 25% chance of a child born in commie pinko Sweden.
Ned's point is that as soon as that chance gets above 50% we can herald the arrival of The New Feudalism in the Greatest Country The World Has Ever Seen Or Ever Will See!
Ned wishes all his friends, serfs or not, a Happy New Year.

Friday, December 24, 2010

WaMu and Unintended Consequences

From today's Christmas Eve edition of the NYT comes a story that illustrates yet again the impact of unforseen and unintended consequences. Ned's friends will be aware that he has from time to time decried the hasty and ill-considered seizure of Washington Mutual, one of the country's largest financial institutions, by the FDIC in 2008 in what can only be described as a fit of pique and panic. The assets of the bank were then practically given to J P Morgan Chase. This cost thousands of employees, retirees, and ordinary struggling middle class persons billions in lost pension assets and monthly dividend income, never to be regained. But one unintended consequence of the seizure has been the exacerbation of the commercial real estate crisis in Southern California, as if that benighted region needed another calamity. It seems that several large new office buildings had been recently built, and had been issued mortgages equal to about 3/4 of the assessed value of the buildings, so they seemed safe. Moreover, the buildings were ENTIRELY LEASED to, you guessed it, WASHINGTON MUTUAL. So, if the FDIC had simply helped WaMu like they helped Citi, Chrysler, GM and a host of others, WaMu arguably could have survived, and continued to pay the leases on the buildings. But when WaMu was seized, the buildings' owners lost the major source of revenue that underwrote the payment of the mortgage. For some reason, the leases did not transfer to Chase when the FDIC gave Chase WaMu's assets.
The result? The buildings failed to find new tenants and the mortgages of far more than $100 million became delinquent. The buildings were finally sold for far less than the value of the mortgages, meaning that the junior note holders lost everything they had. And such a loss sends shock waves through the commercial mortgage market, much like the hysterical reporting over the Gulf spill gave rise to a sense of panic, making real losses far worse as people stayed away from hotels thinking the Gulf was awash with oil.
Thus our Christmas story of (un)-happy endings. George Bush and his regime: the gift that keeps on giving.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sad Tidings on the Gulf at Xmas

Ned recommends his friends read "For Gulf Oil Spill Victims, A Gloomy Christmas As Unemployment Continues To Loom" at, to get a sense of how information can be slanted to support the writer's preconceived ideas. Ned especially recommends his friends note how the author uses the content-free phrase "a fraction" to imply that persons described are receiving only a miniscule amount of support, when "a fraction" could be 7/8 or even 8/7. There is mention made of persons struggling to "get by" who, it was mentioned in passing, have SIX CHILDREN. Now Ned figures that anybody short of a member in good standing of the Sneering Plutocracy who is single with six kids is going to be struggling, especially in a low-wage state like Louisiana. And of course the article was full of complaints that 'victims' weren't getting 'what they deserved.' Moreover, some even said that they hadn't gotten any or enough money from the BP Slush Fund, even though the fund is not even being administered by BP. Now Ned agrees that BP shares a huge part of the blame, but has in fact been the only company that has actually taken responsibility and offered restitution.
Ned suggests his friends use their critical thinking skills to look for ways in which the author has manipulated data or taken data out of context to imply that the spill's impact is entirely at the feet of BP. And he wonders how many years it will take before every story of failure and hardship along the Gulf of Mexico is no longer laid at BP's door.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Governor Barbour and the WCC

Haley Barbour, in his second term as governor of Mississippi, has apparently made some regrettable and factually inaccurate remarks concerning the nature and purpose of White Citizens Councils in the south during the '60s. Ned recalls the era with some fondness, mainly because he was shielded from the real world. His schools contained no black children. He was surrounded by family and friends who were hostile to civil rights, and of course we all knew we were right and if the "Yankees" would just "leave us alone" we could solve all our racial problems by ourselves. In most, cases, even "Christians" were white supremacists, generally refusing to allow blacks into their churches for worship (they could come in to clean, of course).
All this by way of saying Ned can understand Barbour waxing eloquent about his slanted perception of the halcyon days of the '60s in Mississippi, watching the girls and not paying attention to Martin Luther King. But one expects more of persons who aspire to the presidency (or perhaps after George Bush all standards are off).
One other thing troubles Ned: in its editorial excoriating Barbour, the Times went back to remarks he made in 1982. Ned shudders to think what could be made of his own remarks from the 60s through the 70s, as should we all. Let him who is without sin...
The danger here is that if a lie or distortion is repeated often enough, aided and abetted by propagandists in Fox "News" and other reactionary outlets, it begins to challenge the truth, and we begin to see "debates" about which side is "right" about southern history.
Ned had some complimentary things to say about Barbour in his handling of the Gulf oil spill. But he thinks that Haley should now crawl back into his hole for a few weeks, and watch some videos of dogs attacking civil rights marchers to get his perspectives properly aligned, and to get himself "properly motivated" to govern a state a fifth of whose citizens are black and may not share his "whitewashed" views of southern history.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The sequel to the sequel (sigh)

Ned notes with chagrin and growing outrage that the NYT is still using the deplorable "scrambling" in its lead articles, to wit: "Officials are scrambling" to deal with flight delays in Europe. Ned admonishes The Times to Cease And Desist such offensive practices immediately or face the consequences.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ned in trouble--food illness

On one of Ned's favorite sites,, Ned has gotten into trouble for saying that the Food Safety Act being passed by Congress is fixing a problem that doesn't exist. His friends immediately jumped on him, leading Ned to understand that he should have elaborated. His point was that this country already has arguably the safest food in the world, and the proposed Act will basically just allow the feds to mandate recalls, which are now voluntary. Certainly people die from tainted food, but the numbers are hard to come by. The CDC says about 1,800 for sure, but it doesn't say how many are from improperly prepared or handled foods, which Ned suspects represent the lion's share. Compare this to 100,000 that FDA says die from improperly taken or prescribed prescription drugs. Or 400,000 from obesity related causes. Or 100,000 from infections picked up in hospitals.
Or 400,000 from smoking.
Certainly most food borne illness is from industrially-produced foods at large, centrally located facilities that require hundreds or even thousands of miles of transport. Ground meats are a "prime" culprit here, which can be avoided by avoiding ground meats from industrial sources. Eggs are another problem. But eggs have a natural protective skin that keeps the egg fresh without refrigeration unless they are washed, then they must be refrigerated of course. Ned advises his friends to buy eggs in small quantities from local sources. Some pathogens are attributed to vegetables, and again these can be minimized, but not eliminated, by buying from local sources and organic if possible. Keep away from raw milk and unpasteurized juice. Avoid burgers from fast-food joints. Avoid eggs from restaurants.
Ned's point is this: we already have safe food if people use their heads and only buy stuff that is good for you. And you are never going to eliminate risk, even from food.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Irritating Phrases From Idiots-The Sequel!

Ned's friends will be aware that he does not have a high opinion of the intelligence of the "average" American, occasionally referring to them, perhaps too harshly, as the "room temperature IQ set." But one thing of which Ned is convinced is, that most of these persons, whether possessing room temperature IQ or marginally higher, have at best a rudimentary command of the Mother Tongue. Ned has developed a hypothesis that to compensate for this, Americans interject useless words and phrases into their everyday attempts at conversation in order to perhaps extend the time they dominate a conversation or, in the case of commercial transactions, perhaps to convince the customer that his/her time is valued and they bitterly regret wasting any of it.
Ned will offer here a couple of examples.
When he was much younger (and in a somewhat different persona) he had a colleague named Eric, a draftsperson employed on the same research project as Ned. This individual had the annoying habit of starting each interrogatory phrase with the word "Question:" After enduring several of these interactions, Ned somewhat in exasperation responded thusly: "Eric, you don't need to say 'question' at the beginning of a question."
Since then, he has become aware of other annoying examples of Americanisms, and most recently an exchange between Ned and a Little Friend in a UPS Office offered Ned another strand in that rich tapestry. The person would use the phrase "real quick" in every statement or request, to wit: "Just step over here real quick." And, "I just need to see your ID real quick." And, "we'll have that package for you real quick." And "we can help you pay for that over here real quick."
Ned began to grind his teeth in impotent rage midway through this interaction, and Mrs Ned derived much amusement at Ned's expense.
Ned will add one more example in a similar vein. There is a lamentable, no, damnable tendency on the part of many to substitute the phrase "quick question" for the usual "question."
This habit also drives Ned to distraction, because, as Ned's friends will no doubt agree, such questions are in fact never "quick."
Ned admonishes his readers to have a nice day.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Good News for Madoff "Victims"

Ned is delighted to hear that the obscenely rich "investors" who were taken to the cleaners by the Madoff fraud will recover at least half of their losses, due to an agreement by the spouse of one of Madoff's more successful clients, as Ned understands it. She has decided to make billions available from the estate of her late husband to repay those who were not so successful. Ned will choke back his rage at the very idea of any one individual being allowed to amass such a pile of filthy lucre in the first place.
Now, Ned waits, not he hopes in vain, to hear of some benefactor who will step forward and offer to compensate those unfortunate middle class persons who lost everything in their 401k's and stock holdings when the FDIC without warning seized Washington Mutual and essentially gave it to Chase. Had they instead simply increased the insurance on each account at WaMu to $250 grand from $100k, it is possible that business owners would have stayed with WaMu instead of withdrawing their money, fearing the banks collapse. This mass withdrawal created a run on the bank, apparently precipitating the FDIC's action.
But these people are just middle class, and not members of the Sneering Plutocracy, so Ned waits....and waits....and waits....

Friday, December 17, 2010

Middle Class values

Ned's more erudite readers will be aware that David Brooks, Ned's favorite conservative Catholic columnist, writing in the NYT posited that America ought to export its "middle class values" to the developing world. Ned's first response was to recoil in horror. However, he should have known that others would take up the cudgel and pound Brooks's well-meaning thesis into the mud where it so richly deserves to forever reside.
For one Sridhar Subramanian of Ned's old bailiwick, Goleta California, home of UCSB, has written a modest tirade that appeared in today's NYT. In it, he derides the idea that this country should export such nonsense, saying, in effect, if the typical middle-class and plutocrat values of overconsumption and waste were to become the norm in India, his home country, then the planet would suffer an ecological disaster.
It goes without saying that Ned energetically concurs, and would add further that if other American "values" like titanic hypocrisy, interfering in other country's internal affairs, carrying out undeclared merciless wars of aggression against anybody we don't like and creating enraged 'terrorists' by the thousands in the process, despoiling the planet by deforestation as was carried out in Vietnam, and so forth ad nauseam, are similar exports then the world can readily do without them.
But Ned predicts that sanctimonious hypocrites by the thousand will crawl out from under their dark, dank hiding places and decry this 'un-American' traitor, and demand that he 'go back to India.' Sridhar only expressed what many Americans believe but have been too cowed to express: that the values inherent in this decadent "capitalist paradise" are toxic to life, mental health and soul, and God forbid that any other country is so misguided and benighted to consider taking them on.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

$220 million for nothing

Remember the unremitting and often hysterical criticism leveled at Obama, BP and anybody else who challenged him, from Governor of Louisiana Plyush "Bobby" Jindal? The guy who demanded that the federal government authorize, and BP pay for, the construction of 40 miles of sand berms off the coast of Louisiana to "stop the oil?" The price tag of $360 million that expert after expert and federal advisory panel after advisory panel said would be ineffective and ridiculously expensive? Well, "Bobby" raised enough hell on CNN, Fox and the rest of the 24/7 hysteriasphere that the Corps of Engineers eventually "caved in to political pressure" as the most recent federal commission has found, and approved the boondoggle. Eventually ten miles of berms were built at a staggering cost of $220 million, paid entirely by BP shareholders' foregone dividends ("earmark," anyone?). It stopped maybe 1,000 barrels of oil, at a cost of $220,000 per barrel. A more outrageous Poster Boy for waste, fraud and abuse would be hard to find.
If BP had offered 10,000 people who lost their jobs as a result of the spill and the hysteria of the reporting over it, the choice of the berms, which were guaranteed NOT to work, or $22,000 each to tide them over until the hysteria subsided, what do Ned's friends think they would have said?
Now, the feds have sued BP, and at long last the other companies equally at fault for the disaster are to be held to account as well. But BP has already been extorted to the tune of about $25 billion with no end in sight.
And Plyush keeps calling for "less" government, "fewer" regulations, and an end to "waste, fraud and abuse" on the part of the feds.
You just can't make this stuff up.
(h/t NYT: "Berms Built to Stop Oil Are Seen as Ineffective.")

"Abandoned" coal mines

Ned has been made aware that the Department of the Interior is making available the sum of $395 million of taxpayers money to help states and reservations clean "up" abandoned coal mines. Ned suggests that his many friends give their mature reflection to this bit of arcana, as it illustrates why coal specifically, and fossil fuels in general, have an inherent cost advantage over renewable forms of energy: members of the Sneering Plutocrat Capitalist class around the world can walk into an area, dig out the resources, be they coal, mercury, uranium or what-have-you, and then walk away, leaving someone else to pay the remediation bill or suffer the environmental impact. So, the next time someone, be it a talking head on teevee or some other blowhard, tells you that renewables are too expensive to replace fossil fuels, remember the "reclamation" bill of a few abandoned coal mines, and the death toll of Chinese miners, reportedly between five and ten THOUSAND a year, all so that we can buy lead-tainted toys at Xmas for our kids.

Tea Party Terrorists?

Ned is reliably informed that today is the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, when 50 or so persons dressed as Indians threw hundreds of casks of British tea into Boston Harbor to protest the tea tax that had been passed by Parliament. What struck Ned as interesting was the news report that described the actors as "patriots". Ned would ask his friends to suggest an adjective the British public might have substituted for "patriot." Does "vandal", "terrorist" or "criminal" come to mind?
Ned suggests that one man's "terrorist" is another man's "freedom fighter."

Ned and the Federal Reserve

Ned has decided to take that uniquely American approach to the Federal Reserve, that is, to write definitively about it without having a clue as to whether what he writes is true or not. Here goes:
The Fed prints money. All. It. Wants. But then it is left with a dilemma: what to do with all that printed money. Apparently, one thing the Fed does is to take that money and use it to buy Treasury Notes and Bonds. Then the Fed sends the dollars, either as a check or a truck or satchel full of cash, to the Treasury, where the money is deposited in whatever federal account needs the money. Then that outfit, say, the EPA (unlikely, of course, but let's just pretend) writes a check to someone or some company to pay for something they did for the agency that was authorized by Congress. Then that consultant or company takes that money and buys something, say, a toy made in China laced with lead and/or chromium and gives it to a kid for Christmas.
Ned assumes also that any bank that wants could borrow money from the Fed at, say, one percent interest and then loan it OUT to someone who took out a loan, say, to import chromium-laced toys from China, or someone who wanted a new, gas-guzzling SUV made by those newly minted "green" companies, GM and Chrysler, bailed out with taxpayer dollars, presumably also printed by the Fed. So why don't banks lend more money, or why don't people or companies borrow more money? Maybe people are still trying to pay down the loans that they took out in the first place.
Ned proposes that the Fed consider offering any citizen the same deal it offers to banks and the Treasury: borrow some of our newly-printed money at, say, one percent a year and spend it. When you need to pay it back, come back and borrow some more, since we (the Fed) can always print more if and when we need to. And this will work as long as there is insufficient demand for all the goods and services available "out there." But when demand rises to meet supply, the Fed will have to stop, since if they keep it up they will cause inflation, and we will need wheelbarrows full of money to buy an apple from that out-of-work street vendor without shoes.
Thus ends Ned's macroeconomic lesson for today.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Another sneering victory

Ned bitterly regrets to report of yet another victory by the Sneering Plutocracy in their never-ending battle to divide Americans and pit worker against worker, aided and abetted of course by their lickspittle rentboys of the Republican Party. Ned refers to the newly-elected state legislator in South Carolina, who shall remain nameless, who, upon his election by the benighted know-nothings of that state, announced with puffed chest that he was going to "start investigating" the faculty at state colleges and universities, presumably to ensure that they were earning their bread and not filling the heads of their charges with an excessive amount of liberal propaganda and outright lies. Ned's problem is this:
Behind all such morons are the minions and tools of the Sneering Plutocracy which knows that the only way it can remain transcendent in this pathetic society, raking in its filthy lucre in the form of tax cuts, bonuses, obscene salaries and power, is to pit worker against worker. Ned has seen the effectiveness of this himself in the constant carping on the part of the largely ignorant masses about the salaries and benefits, such as they are, paid to government workers. Ned has even been caught up on the maelstrom himself from time to time, before waking as if from an opiate dream.
College and university teachers have been the subject of envy and malice from the room-temperature IQ set from time immemorial, whence the battles between 'town and gown' in the English Middle Ages, even described in passing in Henry IV Part II as Justice Shallow reminisces about his boyhood.
As long as the ignorant, drooling masses direct their bile against the only class that stands between them and serfdom, namely the intelligentsia, they will be in danger of sinking further into the abyss of sloth and imbecility. Worse, their children will be condemned to that same fate.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ned's Sky Club Adventure

As Ned's many friends know, he has joined the Delta Sky Club, and would like to share one of his discoveries: to wit, the Atlanta airport has five Sky Clubs, and one can weave from locale to locale whiling away a long stopover. Ned finds the menu to be strangely to his liking. It consists of nuts, excellent, non-salty olives, both green and black, hummous imported from Jordan, local Oregon Tillamook cheese, carrot sticks and (ugh!) celery. And for those with a sweet tooth, there are also cookies which look nontoxic (but which Ned counsels his friends to avoid), and the usual potables, including spirits, a good pair of wines, and a few beers that Ned has never seen but look drinkable.
Ned commends the Delta Sky Club to all his loyal friends, especially zos amis francaises oo sont telles bon admirants pour Ned. Laissez-moi!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ned undercover again

Ned is once again on undercover assignment at an Undisclosed Location on the East Coast. He arrived in his locale at about 34 north to find the locals shivering in the abysmal cold (around 40) and many of them sure that The Rapture was imminent. They deomonstrated this fact to Ned's satisfaction by eating as much vilely unhealthful food as they could mamage, and muttering "God Bless" to no one in particular. Ned was fortunate to make the acquaintance of one uber-geezer who walked at the pace of an anemic snail, and talked to Ned in an accent and demeanor that he can only describe as Early Mumbly Bear, for connoisseurs of early children's television (where most of Ned's training came from).
Today the temperature rose to the mid-50's allowing residents to come out of their holes to rush to the local purveyor of industrial boxed foods to purchase the obligatory white bread, milk and eggs, along with the customary 12-roll pack of toilet paper.
Ned will furnish a further report as his researches mature.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Newest Contempt Citation

Ned and QA Wagstaff FRS award their latest Contempt Citation to Barack Obama for showing his true invertebrate nature by caving to the rapacious, know-nothing, lickspittle anti-intellectual Congressional Republicans by approving more tax cuts for the sneering plutocracy. How the man can sleep at night knowing so many of his poor constituents are trying to put two cents together is beyond both Ned and Prof Wagstaff.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ned's French Amis

Ned desire a prendre l'opportunity a bien merci a ses amis francaises for zeir amaible attention to ees umbles oevres et aussi to bienvenu zeem toutes les chauds de la saison. Zeir ees no necessitaire to rendre Ned les complements pour ees bon francais.

Jeb Bush's latest

Former Fla Gov "Jeb" Bush has struck again: Trying to quell persistent rumors that he is a candidate for President in 2012, he apparently told the Denver Post that his views on immigration differ from your typical Republican candidate. He was quoted thus: " (H)e believes there are solutions other than a law criminalizing illegal immigrants," to the situation faced by the long-suffering citizens of Arizona. Now, Ned just got back from a fact-finding trip to AZ and he can attest that persons all across the political and ethnic spectrum support the Arizona law, which seeks to make it so uncomfortable for illegals that they will voluntary repatriate to wherever the hell they came from. But Bush's idea of not criminalizing 'illegal' behavior gives Ned an idea that might help states solve their looming fiscal crises: stop criminalizing illegal behavior.
We could require all 'able-bodied' citizens over the age of six to carry loaded firearms and blast away whenever they saw something that looked illegal, like a dog pissing on someone's flowers, or someone making an illegal turn. We could close our prisons and slash the police forces, and especially get rid of the prison guards drawing $100k a year with full pension after 20 years. Ned noted with alarm that there were so many cops driving around in Oro Valley AZ, and pulling over honest citizens that the place felt like an occupied country.
So, OK Jeb, let's try your idea. First, how about a visit to Fox "News" to run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The National Blowhard Returns

Now comes word that failed House Speaker, self-proclaimed intellectual and all-around National Blowhard Newt (Family Values) Gingrich is once again "considering" a run for the presidency in 2012.
Clearly, perhaps sensing a 1992 moment, when most Dems declined to get into the race early thinking that Poppy Bush was unbeatable, the Republican sharks are circling sensing Obama's blood in the water for 2012. The interesting and amusing thing will be to watch the collection of Republican Empty Suits, Blowhards, Evangelists and Mental Midgets try to stake out distinctive positions. Palin, O'Donnell, Miller and the like have shown for all the world to see that those positions do not have to contain a shred of intellectual content, just Ad-Speak. Uncle Joe and Dr Goebbels would be proud. Ned, however, hangs his head in shame at the debacle that has become the Obama presidency.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

New Contempt Citation

Ned has a new Contempt Citation to award: this one to an anonymous "Weight Watcher" who wrote an email (reported in the NYT) complaining about Weight Watchers "new" food scoring policy. Now, Ned has taken no previous notice of this organization, feeling that anyone who chooses to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle can do it with a tiny modicum of will power and a small investment in a gym membership. But, apparently this organization actually had dietary guidelines that had at its guiding principle "a calorie is a calorie", which is a preposterous idea, as all Ned's faithful readers of his Nedshealthandfitness blog can attest. Anyway, here's the email that earned the Contempt Citation: (imagine a high, whiny nasally voice) "I don't want to be forced to choose veggies. I do NOT like veggies or fruit. I feel like I am being forced to 'diet' and that is what I DO NOT WANT!"
Ned's readers may without guilt feel as much contempt for this ridiculous person as they wish, and be assured that Ned would slap her/his foolish face if given the opportunity.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Helen Thomas on the Warpath

Flailing whirligig-like ultimate geezette Helen Thomas, she of the White House Press ex-front row, has again drawn Ned's wonderstruck attention. Speaking at some sort of Arab-American forum, she reportedly said, "Congress, the White House and Hollywood, Wall Street are owned by the Zionists."
Now, Ned has the greatest admiration and respect for the Jewish people and supports their right to self-determination. He also believes that a Jewish state is inevitable and desirable given the degree of anti-semitism and racism galloping around the world, and that is not likely to change. At the same time, he also feels that the israelis are causing untold misery and hardship among Palestinians, most of whom are illegally occupied by Israel, and this is contributing to terrorism. He believes that the Israeli army and the illegal settlements should be withdrawn from occupied Palestine and the sovereignty, territorial integrity and freedom from terrorist attacks should be guaranteed to Israel by the US and the UN. Perhaps, therefore, Ned himself could be reasonably described by some as a zionist, too.
This having been said, Ned generally agrees with Thomas that Zionists (persons who support the concept of Eretz Israel, etc) do in fact control (or at least exercise a controlling influence over) the agencies that Thomas described. Ned believes that if one asked members of Congress whether they supported Israel more than the palestinians, that most of them would agree. And this administration is certainly strongly pro-Israel. Ned advises his friends to research the meaning of Zionism, and, if the word is used in its proper context, then those with Zionist persuasions are actually in control in this country. But that does not mean the country is in the grip of some sinister force, like Republicans, evangelical Christianists, or Palinism. Should the palestinians and the rest of the Arab states agree to end their support for terrorist attacks against Israel, then they way could be paved for a general solution to the vexing Palestinian problem.

Public education absurdity

The Rubicon that is about to be crossed by the national system of pre-college education in this country is foreshadowed by this snippet from the NYT: "In San Jose, Calif., one elementary school district has been discussing a proposal that the families of its 13,000 students commit to 30 hours of volunteer work during the year."
Behind the obvious absurdity of trying to force taxpayers to "commit" to "volunteer" work, there is the sense that public education may be dimly beginning to face the reality that some sort of tuition will have to be charged to parents with children in public schools, especially to those who have more than one or two children. That way, the long-suffering taxpayers who are being crushed by escalating property taxes will have some relief, and the people in each school district will have the type of education system they want. There will have to be some sort of base payment to schools per pupil from the state so that poor districts don't get any worse off, but Ned says let people who expect a free ride by having multiple children educated at his expense, pay their own way for a change, and be damned.

Obama and the tax giveaway

Liberal (but farm state) Senator Tom Harkin has expressed the irritation and dismay that many feel on the subject of Obama's waffling on the extension of the Bush regime's tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. At a time when we should be sharply increasing taxes on trust fund babies like Paris Hilton as well as members of the Sneering Plutocracy, the very idea that tax cuts should be extended for these parasites FOR A MOMENT is such a transcendentally disgusting concept that Ned's head hurts with any attempt to focus on it. Of course the Republican lickspittles argue that the Plutocracy needs "certainty." Well, Ned would give them certainty in the form of increased IRS auditing of returns, in fact Ned would order auditing of all returns with gross incomes over $500k.
Ned predicts that if Obama caves in to the Republicans and agrees to renew these billionaire tax giveaways in the face of 10% unemployment and $12000 a year family health care costs (as reported by the LA Times), that he will face a serious and potentially devastating, and well-deserved, challenge in the 2012 primaries which will either result in a weakened Democratic Party and thus a Republican presidency in 2012 (1980 redux), or a serious third-party candidacy like Michael Bloomberg, or a new Democratic candidate in 2012. How Obama can let these Republican creatures get away with their soaring mendacity speaks to his apparent befuddlement at the task he faces. [On top of that, he flies around the world to visit Afghanistan while his own party and constituency is collapsing around him. And he seems intent on throwing away more trillions of borrowed money in an apparent attempt to degrade or bomb the Arab world back into the arms of the 7th century.]
In either case, Obama will be a one-term failure and good riddance.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Palin's GOP Attackers

Ned notes with rising amusement and glowing sense of irony the attacks on Sarah Palin, half-term governor of Alaska and McCain's choice for VP, by a growing number of Republican grandees and self-appointed spokespersons. He recalls that Merchant of Slime and Innuendo, Karl Rove, who, if there were a just God, would have been at least investigated by a Grand Jury for the numerous shabby deals, misstatements, spin and outright lies put out under his watch as consiglieri under the Bush Regime.
Then, others, perhaps fearful of their secure and smug positions of power, prestige and authority, began to take up the attacks. Even extreme geezette Barbara Bush who should be spending her time praying on her knees to Jesus to forgive her son Dubya for his blood-stained outrages against the American, Iraqi and Afghan peoples, has apparently opined that Palin should 'go back to Alaska' or some such bromide. And her snipe has been defended by her only reputable son Jeb, natural enough for a dutiful son as he well may be.
Ned's point is this: the more these elitists attack Palin, the stronger will be her support among the room-temperature IQ crowd, gawking testosterone-hyped teens and twentysomething males, gun crazies, closet racists, NASCAR maniacs, 'traditionalist' women, and other members of whacked-out and demented cults and fringe groups peering out from under their rocks and cowpies all over this land.
For it is as much these GOP elitists as well as Democrats that Palin's supporters despise; indeed, anyone with anything more than an eighth grade education is probably suspect in their benighted eyes.
So, go ahead, Republican elitists, continue to sneer and snipe at Palin.
But the dilemma for these grandees is that they depend upon the support of the very ignoramuses that they are attacking when they attack Palin.
Ned therefore encourages his many friends to stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ned's Belgian Friends

Ned would like to take the opportunity to thank all his Belgian friends for their interest and loyalty, and ask them whether they (1) want to remain Belgians, (2) want to become French or (3) would like to join Holland, er, The Netherlands. Ned would like to visit during one of their beer festivals, because he admits to a fondness for lambics.