Archive for the Culture Category

May 9th – Victory Day

Posted in Culture, Heros, Thumbs Up! on May 9, 2011 by DaMook

Order of VictoryToday is Victory Day for much of Europe – celebrating the end of World War II. My father-in-law, who turns 90 on June 25th, is a decorated veteran of the Soviet Red Army. Twice wounded, the second of which took him out of action before his unit reached Berlin, he was assigned to an artillery unit of the 1st Ukrainian Front under the command of the legendary Marshal Georgy Zhukov. For the Red Army, the cost of victory was immense.

Victory Day is a big deal in Russia – kind of like our Independence Day. Surviving veterans are treated with honor as “Heroes of the Soviet Union.” Being a huge fan of WWII history, it was particularly fascinating to hear my father-in-law’s war stories.

Congratulations Konstantin Nikoliavich Panteleeyev!

The Sticky Note campaign

Posted in Cool Stuff, Culture, Economy, Heros, Take back America, The Regime, Thumbs Up! on May 4, 2011 by DaMook

Sticky Note Been to a gas station or grocery store lately? How’s that hopeNchange thing working out for ya? If you’re frustrated with high prices on just about everything, here’s a way to vent that frustration and get a message out (story here).

This time around, the Tea Party is taking action to draw attention to the fact that Barack Obama is gouging Americans by making sure gas prices are high by causing war in Libya, not opening Alaska to drilling and saving our national energy reserves to power Chinese tanks after China’s inevitable invasion of the U.S. We spoke with Chris Lotto, Arizona activist and co-creator of the “The ‘Hope and Change’ Sticky Note Campaign,” a movement that places anti-Obama sticky notes on gas pumps.

Last Saturday afternoon, Lotto, who lives in Phoenix, launched the Facebook call to “Purchase a pad of large sticky notes. Write on each one, “How’s that Hope & Change working out for you?” Every time you stop to fill your vehicle with gas, place your sticky note somewhere on the pump before you drive away. DO NOT be destructive in ANY way! Place your sticky note somewhere, so as not to impede the next customer’s ability to read the pump’s digital readout.”

By the end of this week, the page had over 8,000 fans who had sent out over 50,000 invites to join and dozens of pictures were rolling in of notes placed on gas pumps from Ohio to Wisconsin to Texas.

Hmmm. Sounds like fun. Here’s a related site for “Liberty Guerillas.”

Part of the charade employed by the existing Regime is to continue to make people believe that they are alone in their dissent and/or dissatisfaction with the ruling class. They need to isolate you and make you feel YOU are the outlier. A recent example is the derision lobbed at those who questioned Obama’s background and credentials.

This has been written about extensively in various professional military training manuals. It has also been the subject of many papers, dissecting the evolution of an underground movement that overthrew an entrenched Regime, where to outsiders, the “sudden collapse” of an oppressive regime catches them by surprise, when in fact, it was predictable all along.

The reason for the “sudden collapse” is that the group knowledge finally reached a tipping point, where the “dissenters” realize that they are the MAJORITY, not the minority as the Regime would have them believe.

Sticky notes, as advocated at gas pumps and on stores shelves, represent what is known as “Counter propaganda”.

It will be interesting to see if this gathers momentum and has any legs.

The sticking-political-messages-on-other-people’s-commodities tactic shows no sign of abating. It’s a long way to 2012, and the GOP proper has completely lost control of its constituency, so everyone should prepare for what’s probably going to be the most ugly election in recent history, and, with every free surface in the nation plastered with neon squares, I mean literally ugly.

We live in interesting times, folks…

Lemonade Day – a lesson in government regulation

Posted in Culture, Government Folly, Heros, Nanny State, Take back America, UGH! on May 2, 2011 by DaMook

lemonade standOnce upon a time a kid could set up a lemonade stand virtually anywhere and make a few bucks. Sadly those days are over as you are now subject to government harassment and even prosecution should you try it now. In many areas you need a business license and Health Department inspection to set up a simple lemonade stand. But wait, there’s hope. You can do this one day a year on Lemonade Day. That’s right, one day a year many cities will allow this so that kids can “learn and appreciate” entrepreneurship. Actually, it’s a lesson in government regulation (story here from the LA Times).

My 8-year-old recently got the lemonade stand itch. So we started laying plans to enrich her college fund by enticing passers-by with white chocolate-pistachio cookies and juice from organic lemons. Fortunately, our property backs onto one of the busiest paved urban trails in America, bustling on weekends with cyclists, rollerbladers and pedestrians. Visions of dollars danced in our heads.

Googling for the perfect lemonade recipe, we soon found a site promoting a May 1 “national” event called Lemonade Day. This event, organizers say, is an “initiative designed to teach kids how to start, own and operate their own business — a lemonade stand.” What better day to begin building our lemonade empire?

After shopping for her raw materials, I gave my kid a bedtime primer about starting a business. How much profit do you make after expenses? How should you promote your business? Give the customer a great product. She soaked it up and went to sleep all inspiration and smiles. Then I got to thinking about something I hadn’t discussed with her: government regulations.

The author relates a three day odyssey of contacting various government agencies about setting up a simple lemonade stand. The bottom line was that under normal circumstances, a simple child’s lemonade stand was out of the question. They would allow it, however, for Lemonade Day.

What the Lemonade Day organizers should teach the children, said the health official, is about the importance of learning and obeying the government regulations that prohibit lemonade stands.

If we had made it past the health and parks departments, my kid would have been stymied by zoning laws that prohibit lemonade stands in residential neighborhoods. Overcoming that barrier, we would have hung our heads at the daunting costs of business and vending licenses, not to mention taxes.

Lemonade Day is promoted as a way to “inspire a budding entrepreneur!” But it is actually a dispiriting lesson about how hard it now is to become an entrepreneur, whether you’re an adult or a child. It is about how even the most harmless enterprise, the humble lemonade stand, has been sacrificed on the altar of government regulation.

“Obeying the government” – that’s the real lesson here. The author handles it well.

Learning to be an entrepreneur “starts with a lemonade stand,” say the organizers of Lemonade Day. But they don’t want to talk about the regulations that make it impossible for my kid to become a lemonade stand entrepreneur. They tell me it is “silly” and “beside the point” to focus on the regulations. I am told that Lemonade Day is about kids learning to “give back to their communities,” “do better in school” and “open bank accounts.” It is not about something so self-serving as making a profit by selling a good product. That is the old American way, but the new way is living with rules that banish the lemonade stand to one government-approved day a year.

What are my kid and I going to do on Lemonade Day? We are going to set up a stand in one of the permitted locations — in a park or at one of the approved sponsors — with hundreds of other kids doing the same thing. But our “secret ingredient” is that we will hand out leaflets explaining why operating a lemonade stand makes my kid and yours not just a hopeful entrepreneur, but an actual lawbreaker.

Next year they should rename it Regulation Day.

It makes you wonder if America can survive this assholery…

Hope & Change update

Posted in Culture, FAIL, The Regime, UGH! on April 27, 2011 by DaMook

Two of the promises of Hope&Change was that the US would pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq and close GITMO. During the presidential campaign I had (briefly) discussed our dear comrade candidate with several good friends – people who I respect and like immensely. Their reasons for wanting to vote for the dear comrade were that he would get us out of the wars that Bush started and stop the torture at GITMO.

Just a reminder – after two years, here’s where we are:

If you’re tempted to say that we’re not actually at war with Libya, I pose this question: If a foreign power launched cruise missiles and air strikes on US soil, would you not consider that an act of war?

Well friends, how’s that hopey changey thing working out for you? Why are you strangely silent about this now?

Spending cuts – how about this approach?

Posted in Culture, Economy, Heros, Thumbs Up! on April 14, 2011 by DaMook

Thomas Sowell is a brilliant economist and social commentator. His commentary rarely contains invective and he generally presents a common sense, libertarian point of view. With all the talk (and no action) about spending cuts and getting the federal budget under control, Sowell presents a more rational approach. While his suggestions won’t eliminate the deficit, they present a path of least resistance to beginning the process that is so desperately needed. (more here)

My plan would start by cutting off all government transfer payments to billionaires. Many, if not most, people are probably unaware that the government is handing out the taxpayers’ money to billionaires. But agricultural subsidies go to a number of billionaires. Very little goes to the ordinary farmer.

Big corporations also get big bucks from the government, not only in agricultural subsidies but also in the name of “green” policies, in the name of “alternative energy” policies, and in the name of whatever else will rationalize shoveling the taxpayers’ money out the door to whomever the administration designates, for its own political reasons.

The usual political counter-attacks against spending cuts will not work against this new kind of spending cut approach. How many heart-rending stories can the media run about billionaires who have lost their handouts from the taxpayers? How many tears will be shed if General Motors gets dumped off the gravy train?

It would also be eye-opening to many people to discover how much government money is going into subsidizing all sorts of things that have nothing to do with helping “the poor” or protecting the public. This would include government-subsidized insurance for posh and pricey coastal resorts, located too dangerously close to the ocean for a private insurance company to risk insuring them.

This approach would not only circumvent the sob stories, it would also circumvent the ideological battles over whether to cut off money to Planned Parenthood or National Public Radio.

The money to be saved by cutting off agricultural subsidies to the wealthy and the big corporations is vastly greater than the money to be saved by cutting off Planned Parenthood or National Public Radio, much as they both deserve to be cut off.

And what about the 3rd rail programs like Social Security and Medicare? Most politicians have declared these “off the table” as far as discussions of budget cutting. But they can be modified as well.

Social Security and Medicare are supposed to be among the most difficult programs to cut without ruinous political consequences. However, it is not necessary to attack all the spending on these programs in order to make big savings.

Instead of attacking these programs as a whole, what is far more vulnerable is the compulsory aspect of these programs. If Medicare is so great, why is it necessary for the government to force people to be covered by Medicare as a precondition for receiving the money they paid into Social Security?

Many people with private health insurance would rather continue to rely on that, instead of being trapped in Medicare red tape. It is not a question of taking away Medicare but allowing people to opt out, saving the taxpayer from having to subsidize something that many people don’t want.

It is not a question of forcing people off Social Security either. But private retirement accounts can offer a better deal.

Even someone who retires when the stock market is down is almost certain to get a bigger pension from a decent mutual fund than from Social Security.

By giving young people the option, while continuing to honor commitments to retirees and those nearing retirement age, the sob story defense of runaway spending can be nipped in the bud.

Sounds simple. You have to wonder why no one is thinking in these terms.

Politician: Detroit “deserves” bailout or something

Posted in BIG Government, Culture, Economy, FAIL, Government Folly, Government Waste/Fraud/Abuse, Huh? WTF?, UGH! on April 13, 2011 by DaMook

Detroit Packard PlantDetroit, home of the “Big 3” US auto manufacturers (2 of which are on government life support), is the epitome of failed government social policies. Mired in political corruption (more here and here), with an abysmal school system (more here) and fleeing population, the city has become an economic and industrial wasteland (more here and here). While mayor Dave Bing deserves some credit for at least trying to turn things around, others in the city government believe that Detroit deserves a taxpayer bailout (story here from the Detroit News). Huh? WTF?

Councilwoman JoAnn Watson is reiterating her call for a government bailout of Detroit, saying the city that built the middle class deserves as much help as Wall Street or General Motors.Addressing the City Council today during Mayor Dave Bing’s budget presentation, Watson gave a spirited pitch for federal funds to help the city whose population declined 25 percent since 2000 to 713,777.

“We are worth it. We are worth at least as much as General Motors or Chrysler or the Wall Street bankers,” Watson said. “It was this city that built military vehicles for World War II. It was this city that (invented) the middle class and the five-day work week.

“We should not be in a position to be victims. We are victors. And we should demand respect.”

General Motors received $52 billion in government aid, while Chrysler received $12.5 billion, according to published reports. Mayor Dave Bing has traveled to Washington, D.C., repeatedly seeking more federal funds for Detroit.

Watson has floated the idea for years. The liberal magazine the Nation named Watson one of its 14 MVPs in 2009 for promoting a “multifacted Detroit Marshall Plan to revitalize her economically battered city.”

In the past, Watson has said the city deserves at least $1 billion.

Declared a “Model City” by the LBJ administration in the 1960’s, Detroit has received hundreds of millions in taxpayer funding. And now Detroit demands “respect.” How sad…

For a pictorial view of this disaster see these photo essays:

School bans lunches brought from home

Posted in Culture, Government Folly, Nanny State on April 12, 2011 by DaMook

The Nanny State rolls on as a government school in the Chicago area has banned most lunches brought from home. If you thought that, as a parent, you could could provide a decent and inexpensive lunch for your kid, the nanny principal at this school has two words for you – UP YOURS (story here).

At his public school, Little Village Academy on Chicago’s West Side, students are not allowed to pack lunches from home. Unless they have a medical excuse, they must eat the food served in the cafeteria.

Principal Elsa Carmona said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices.

“Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school,” Carmona said. “It’s about the nutrition and the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It’s milk versus a Coke. But with allergies and any medical issue, of course, we would make an exception.”

Carmona said she created the policy six years ago after watching students bring “bottles of soda and flaming hot chips” on field trips for their lunch. Although she would not name any other schools that employ such practices, she said it was fairly common.

A Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman said she could not say how many schools prohibit packed lunches and that decision is left to the judgment of the principals.

“While there is no formal policy, principals use common sense judgment based on their individual school environments,” Monique Bond wrote in an email. “In this case, this principal is encouraging the healthier choices and attempting to make an impact that extends beyond the classroom.”

Common sense judgement? The problem with this statement is that the words “common” and “sense,” when used together form an oxymoron in the government lexicon. There’s nothing common about common sense in government. Perhaps the next statement more appropriately describes the situation.

Any school that bans homemade lunches also puts more money in the pockets of the district’s food provider, Chartwells-Thompson. The federal government pays the district for each free or reduced-price lunch taken, and the caterer receives a set fee from the district per lunch.

It also means more money for the school but the nanny insists this about “nutrition.” Riiiiiiiight…

And of course, if the government lunch is so good for them, it should, you know, taste good too. Right?

At Little Village, most students must take the meals served in the cafeteria or go hungry or both. During a recent visit to the school, dozens of students took the lunch but threw most of it in the garbage uneaten. Though CPS has improved the nutritional quality of its meals this year, it also has seen a drop-off in meal participation among students, many of whom say the food tastes bad.

“Some of the kids don’t like the food they give at our school for lunch or breakfast,” said Little Village parent Erica Martinez. “So it would be a good idea if they could bring their lunch so they could at least eat something.”

I guess not. Without even a hint of salt or other spices, it probably tastes as good as it looks:

school lunch

What is THAT?

I’m not sure what that is but it kinda looks like dog food. But it’s government-issue so eat it or go hungry you ungrateful brats.

While some parents are upset, the money quote comes from this tool:

But parent Miguel Medina said he thinks the “no home lunch policy” is a good one. “The school food is very healthy,” he said, “and when they bring the food from home, there is no control over the food.”

If your kids attended this school what would you do? This is not about nutrition, it’s about control…