Archive for September, 2007

 

$5,000/baby

Friday, September 28th, 2007

Caught this over at Drudge today, I figured it had to be a joke:

WASHINGTON (AP) – Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday that every child born in the United States should get a $5,000 “baby bond” from the government to help pay for future costs of college or buying a home.[...]

“I like the idea of giving every baby born in America a $5,000 account that will grow over time, so that when that young person turns 18 if they have finished high school they will be able to access it to go to college or maybe they will be able to make that downpayment on their first home,” she said.

Right. And who’s going to pay for that? With 4 million babies born each year, that’d be a $20 billion annual spend.

Except it’s not really a spend. It’s a loan. What would happen is the Federal Reserve would buy $20 billion of US treasury bonds on the open market, and assign the rights over to newborns. The Federal Government winds up $20 billion richer, and the currency gets inflated by the same amount. But because the bonds are never redeemed by the Fed in return, the currency stays in circulation forever. Basically, it’s free money for the federal government via inflation. A clever ploy to make government even bigger without a tax increase.

And then there’s this:

“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” said Rep. Stephanie Stubbs Jones, an Ohio Democrat who attended the event and has already endorsed Clinton. “Every child born in the United States today owes $27,000 on the national debt, why not let them come get $5,000 to grow until their [sic] 18?”

Yes. Until THEIR eighteen. Gotta love the AP.

Better yet, let’s burden every child with $32k in debt instead of $27k in debt, and then pat ourselves on the shoulders for being so wonderful while we’re at it.

Read the whole miserable thing here.

 
 

It’s Very Quiet Today

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

Nobody’s blogging much of anything. Then again, I’ve been very quiet as of late too…

 
 

End Of Innocence

Friday, September 21st, 2007

Via Andrew Sullivan comes this:

Wholesome former THE BRADY BUNCH star MAUREEN MCCORMICK is set to reveal the beloved 70s TV series’ most shocking secret in a new book – she and her on-screen sister had a lesbian fling. MCCormick’s tell-all, Here’s The Story, won’t hit bookstores until 2008, but publishers are already buzzing about the big reveal. As well as talking candidly about her well-documented eating disorder and drug problems in the book, TV’s Marcia Brady will come clean about a romance she had with co-star Eve Plumb, who played her sister Jan on the hit show. A source tells America’s National Enquirer, “The most explosive comments will be how the then-blonde, blue-eyed cutie developed a crush on Eve Plumb, which led to some sexual play. “This book will certainly come as a shocker. While Maureen is not a lesbian, she reveals there were some sexual hijinks going on behind the scenes. “It’s bizarre because she played such a virginal character on the show.”

DAMN MAN!!! I seem to remember during the making of the satirical Brady Bunch movie that they considered making Marcia or Jan a lesbian, but thought that would be going too over the top. How wrong they were…

UPDATE: BOO!!!

 
 

Fred Thompson: “Gosh no one told me…”

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Classic:

Question: Does anyone in Fred Thompson’s campaign ever give him briefing books?

“Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson seemed taken by surprise when asked Tuesday about oil drilling in the Everglades, apparently unaware it’s been a major Florida issue. Before answering, he laughed at the question.

” ‘Gosh, no one has told me that there’s any major reserves in the Everglades, but maybe that’s one of the things I need to learn while I’m down here,’ Thompson said after talking over state issues with Gov. Charlie Crist.”

Uh, maybe.

Nice.

(via instapundit, who no doubt wouldn’t have linked if he had read the article all the way through)

 
 

Shiver Me Timbers

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Yearrgh!

(Thanks to Asteroid for reminding me)

 
 

A Word On Wall Street’s Reaction To The Fed

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Most of the news stories I’ve read describe Wall Street’s reaction to the Fed’s rate cut as being something akin to “euphoric” or “giddy”. This is interpreted to be the case because the stock market shot up.

But isn’t that exactly what one would expect with respect to inflation as well?

I mean, if you are expecting inflation to rise (and by implication, the currency to devalue), wouldn’t you do everything you could to get rid of your cash as quickly as possible, to put it into assets that will rise with the inflationary tide? I mean, it seems pretty straightforward to me. Stocks, real estate, precious metals, anything really. Just get rid of the cash.

I noticed that the Wall Street Journal was a little worried today about the Fed’s move. And so am I. The day of reckoning will come. The only question is when. The longer we put it off, the worse it’s going to get.

 
 

Dick Morris On Fred Thompson

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Another devastating critique:

He may be the tallest candidate in the race for president, but Fred Thompson is clearly in over his head! In both his fumbling pre-candidacy period and his hesitant, attenuated post-announcement campaign, he’s given the clear impression that that he is ill-informed, inarticulate, badly briefed and downright lazy.

Consider the news his candidacy has generated:

  • He refuses to take a pledge not to raise taxes;
  • He lobbied for an abortion advocacy group before becoming a U.S. senator;
  • He employed his son in a no-show job for $170,000 for four years at his political action committee after leaving office;
  • As a lobbyist, he helped the attorney representing the Libyan terrorists who blew up Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, to fight requests to extradite them to the U.K. to stand trial;
  • His other lobbying clients included Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the leftist Haitian dictator who, but for a lack of oil, would have been the Hugo Chavez of the last generation;
  • He skipped and is skipping the first two debates of his presidential candidacy and said he was looking forward to attending the Oct. 14 New Hampshire debate — the one that was canceled weeks ago;
  • He is taking this week off from presidential campaigning;
  • He does not know enough about the details of the Terry Schiavo case to comment.;
  • He is also unfamiliar with the proposal to lower soaring insurance premiums Floridians must pay for home storm coverage since the hurricanes;
  • He said that Iraqis were supporting us because of al Qaeda’s ban on smoking;
  • He’s run through three campaign managers and as many communications directors in just three months;
  • He fell short in the fundraising competition, coming up with only a net of $2.8 million by the end of July;
  • After leaving the Senate, he picked up his lobbying career by representing Equitas, an insurance company he helped dodge paying for asbestos/cancer claims;
  • After negative publicity about his comments suggesting that Cuban immigrants were potential suicide bombers, he blamed Hillary Clinton for causing the publicity by “releasing a statement that she made trying to capitalize on something when she knew better”;
  • He didn’t know enough about drilling in the Everglades to comment.

Not bad for the first two weeks of a presidential campaign!

Thompson is counting on his conservative positions on social issues and the wunder-dust generated by his “Law & Order” stardom to propel him into the lead in the presidential race. But, as Harriet Miers’s failed candidacy for the Supreme Court suggests, one does not just need to be conservative to prevail. It takes a little talent, too. Thompson seems to lack the interest, energy, will, ability and stamina to compete at this level.

Hillary is probably the next president anyway. But there is only one way to defeat her — to nominate a candidate whose anti-terrorism credentials are so deep that if Americans return to their senses and grasp the nature of the dire and continuing threat we face, he can prevail in November. There are two candidates who fill that bill: Rudy Giuliani and John McCain. Neither Thompson nor Romney approach it.

That sounds about right to me.

Read Dick Morris.

 
 

Death to The Food Network

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

Yesterday’s post garnered a comment from a friend on IM that I neglected to mention how the Food Network has generally degraded into a steaming pile of excrement. I wasn’t sure that that needed to be brought up because it’s pretty self-evident. Then again, someone over there is making it that way, and doesn’t realize they’re doing it (or worse, thinks they’re doing something good). So let’s just get to the reason for this, and then pick through a few examples of general suckiness, and then wrap up with the inevitable suggestion to fire everybody who works there.

I have a sense of how the Food Network started because I saw a lecture given by the founder, someone over at the Providence Journal. This was many years ago, and I forget the guy’s name, but he was old and had a shaved head. He was in retirement or just about to be ten years ago, if that helps anybody find him.

In any event, the Providence Journal, yes, that’s the hometown newspaper of Providence, RI, was deeply involved in the cable TV industry. Mostly, they had started buying/launching local cable distributors in municipal markets under the Pioneer brand, or maybe it was Pilgrim. In any event, he discussed how the cable companies would trade these municipalities in order to get geographically contiguous areas, and how the Providence Journal had become one of the larger players in the industry. I seem to remember that they owned Los Angeles and the surrounding areas, for example.

At some point, they felt that they’d maxed out their opportunities owning cable companies, and they felt they should be able to leverage their distribution network to launch some channels of their own. I forget what else they launched at that time, but at the time they also launched the Food Network. The rationale for launching it was simple. Cable television provided an opportunity to create single subject networks where previously only shows existed on general purpose networks. And in analyzing the competitive landscape of cable networks that existed at the time, it was apparent to management that cooking shows had not yet been turned into a network of their own. So they took advantage of that opportunity and launched.

I should emphasize that this guy was NO FOODIE. He was an old school marketing guy (in the best sense of the word). He analyzed a market, saw an opportunity, and sought to fill it. He even said that his colleagues laughed at him for starting it, but he was armed with facts and figures, about how many people were out there that would want to watch such a network. And of course, he was vindicated. The network was a success, and eventually became included on every cable operator’s channel line up. Some years later, the Providence Journal decided to divest themselves from the cable business, and sold the Food Network. It is currently owned by Primedia.

In light of its humble origins, it’s easy to see why the Food Network was the way it was when it started out. Undoubtedly, Emeril wound up on it because of his connection to the Providence/Fall River area. Indeed, it seemed that if you were a decent chef who could make it to the Food Network studios, you could have a show. Bobby Flay, Mario Batali, both made it on that way. And of course, as a startup, everything had to be on a budget. So they didn’t do much other than cook on camera, explaining what they were doing.

Which is really all a true foodie could ever ask for in a cooking show.

So what happened to the Food Network is what happens to all such successful media properties: the food people got crowded out by the media people, and the network tanked because it’s being run by flashy fad chasers (witness MTV or any one of a number of cable networks). Shows about how to cook like a chef were replaced by shows by people who weren’t chefs at all, geared to people who don’t know how to do the most basic things. I have no issue with shows geared to newbies, but you really have to wonder whether such people are really going to be interested in watching the Food Network at all.

The answer, of course, is that they might be if they’re channel surfing. So what the tv people do is they turn the network on its head. The network that was founded to be a specialized vertical now tries to become a generalist in the hopes of attracting a larger audience. In the process, it becomes just another channel. The dream of replacing the big three networks with specialized vertical channels becomes replaced with mildly themed channels that are about as generalist as the big three networks always were.

The problem, of course, is that limited distribution available on cable by definition limits available competition to keep the Food Network in line. While I could open my own food website if I wanted to, I can never open my own competing network to show up the Food Network, because I’ll never get access to the distribution channel. So people continue to watch the Food Network because it’s what’s there, even though it sucks worse and worse as time goes by.

Of course, even that has its limits. The best commercially produced food show right now is Top Chef, and even it isn’t all THAT great. But at least other networks are trying to take Food’s lunch (No Reservations, Hell’s Kitchen, etc,). It may actually wind up happening altogether. In may ways, the distribution channel is the most valuable thing that the Food Network has, and if the Food Network loses all its fans, you can trust that the television types who currently run the place will never blame themselves. Rather than firing the management boobs running the place now (as they should), they’ll say, “Well, that fad ended, how about turning the channel into another reality network or something”. And that will be the end of that. Food Network becomes TNT, or Spike TV, or whatever the heck it is these days.

And so I’m happy to call for death to the Food Network. Let’s end the absurdity of fake “Food Network Star” shows, of Iron Chefs with no accomplishments to their name outside the Food Network, of busty bimbos making half-assed food from factory produced pseudo-ingredients, and over-gesticulating loudmouths who use absurd and annoying cutsie expressions instead of an actual culinary vocabulary. The real talent they once had has by and large left to do their own thing on the Internet anyway.

Long live the Internet. Death to the Food Network.

 
 

Snap Crackle And???

Monday, September 17th, 2007

So the Food Network is auditioning their next Food Network Star (using the same method used to find such luminaries as Emeril and Bobby Flay). Emphasis mine:

This is what we are looking for:

  • Cooking know-how: You can be self-taught or professionally trained but you must have strong cooking skills. Cooks, Chefs, Foodies, and all those who are passionate about food are encouraged to apply!
  • Personality that pops: Let yourself shine and show us who you really are. Don’t be shy. We are all about personality-show us yours!
  • Teaching skills: Bring the world of food and cooking to life in your very own passionate and unique way. Please be clear about your cooking point of view.

From a pool of finalists, one winner will receive their own six-episode show.

Now I can’t possibly be the only one SICK AND TIRED of everything needing to “POP” on television now. Every home flipping show, cooking show, I dunno what else, things have to “pop”. It’s like meaningless valley-girl speak. Can we end it already, please?

And I just had to point out how fake the whole show is to begin with… a six episode show. Right. You’ll be a real star with that. Because apparently, it takes 15 plus episodes to find someone to host a six episode show that will never air at hours that people normally watch TV.

What a crock.

 
 

Inflation, Again

Monday, September 17th, 2007

This time, the WSJ editorial board gets it right:

Which brings us to the Fed’s current dilemma. The housing recession has caused the overall economy to slow, and recession worries are rampant. Many on Wall Street want their bubble back, and they are begging the Fed to reflate. But inflation also remains near the upper limit of the Fed’s comfort level, the dollar is weak, gold is back above $700 and oil briefly popped above $80 a barrel last week.

For those of us who remember the economics of the 1970s, one abiding lesson is that trouble comes when the Fed is asked to spur economic growth. The job of a central bank is price stability. The Reagan-Paul Volcker policy mix was tight money combined with tax cutting, which reversed the 1970s’ mix of easy money and tax increases. Washington is in danger of drifting back, almost unconsciously, to that 1970s’ policy. Whether or not the Fed cuts rates tomorrow, we’d feel better about the decision if Fed chairmen present and past weren’t offering alibis for how we arrived at this pass.

Read the whole thing here.