Bits & Pieces (Hump Day Muppets Post)

Tresspassers William did a great cover of “Rainbow Connection”:

“Mah Na Mah Na”, made famous by the Muppets (and Benny Hill) was originally a song featured in the 1968 softcore film, Sweden Heaven and Hell.

In 1981, I experienced nirvana, as the pop star I was in love with at age 12 (Deborah Harry of Blondie) showed up on The Muppet Show and did a duet version of “Rainbow Connection” with Kermit. Still gives me goosebumps. 
As Christmas approaches, it reminds me of a classic Christmas special I loved as a child: Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas. 
Emmet Otter was voiced by Jerry Nelson, who also provided the voices for Gobo on Fraggle Rock, Kermit’s nephew Robin, Count von Count on Sesame Street, among many others. Although he no longer performs his characters, he still provides the voices for them on Sesame Street.
With the passing of Jim Henson, Richard Hunt (one of the original performers of Elmo, before Kevin clash, who provided the original voice for Scooter and Janice and Beaker), and the retirement of Frank Oz from Muppet work, Jerry became one of the few original Muppeteers still working. The others include David Goelz, Carroll Spinney—Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch—and Steve Whitmire, who began working with Henson productions in 1978, doing mostly minor characters. However, with the passing of Jim Henson, Steve took over Kermit and some of Henson’s other characters, then took over Beaker with the passing of Richard Hunt. 
Still haven’t seen the new Muppet movie. Word of mouth and reviews are great, although box office has been modest (especially given the promotion). Word of mouth and steady business may pump it up, thought. 
Adjusted for inflation, the first Muppet movie made $207 million. By comparison, their last outing—Muppets from Space—only made $26 million in adjusted gross ($16m unadjusted). By that yardstick, the opening weekend for The Muppets was pretty darned good. 

More on Jury Nullification

Story out of NYC where federal prosecutors have charged a man with jury tampering for handing out literature outside on jurors rights outside of a courthouse. The story explains that the defendant has requested a jury trial, but prosecutors have opposed it, arguing that we would likely ask the jury to nullify. Question for the lawyers … Can the prosecution do that? The defendant is claiming his actions are protected speech, which it obviously is in my opinion.

Story available at the New York Times

Morning Report

Vital Statistics:

Last Change Percent
S&P Futures 1223.2 26.7 2.23%
Eurostoxx Index 2262.4 28.210 1.26%
Oil (WTI) 100.9 1.110 1.11%
US Dollar Index (DXY) 78.445 -0.624 -0.79%
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.03% 0.03%

Markets are gapping higher on coordinated Central Bank intervention in the money markets. The Federal Reserve, Bank of Canada, Bank of England, Bank of Japan, and the ECB have lowered US dollar swap rates by 50 basis points. “The purpose of these actions is to ease strains in the financial markets and thereby mitigate the effects of such strains on the supply of credit to households and businesses and so help foster economic activity.” the statement said. Separately, the Bank of China lowered reserve requirements for its banks. In some ways, this reminds me of 2008, where the Fed of the government would step in to help ease conditions in the financial markets, short covering would cause the futures to gap up, and then futures would sell off as people contemplate how bad things must be to warrant the action in the first place.

In economic data, ADP Employment came in at 206k for November, well higher than estimates. Productivity was light, and unit labor costs fell more than expected. Yesterday, consumer confidence came in much higher than estimates, which shouldn’t have been a surprise if you have been watching the actual spending data. S&P / Case-Schiller came in -3.6% for September. Overall, the data indicate things are on the mend, albeit slowly.

In keeping with the energy story I have been flogging, the WSJ has an article this morning discussing how the US is about to become a net exporter of refined product. This doesn’t mean we are energy independent – we still import more oil than we export – but we are closer and closer to becoming a net energy exporter. And that will have enormous implications for the US, from our trade deficit to our Middle East policy. Perhaps the peace dividend we have been waiting for since the end of the cold war will finally materialize.

Bits & Pieces (Tuesday Night Open Mic)

I’m a long time fan of Apple products, and prefer to exist in the Apple ecosystem. And that’s not going to change—I’m going to be using an iPhone 10 years from now, I have no doubt.

However, there is one area where I envy the Android-toting rebels and misfits: Google maps for Android. It is light-years ahead of the map functionality on iOS. It just is.

3D models of city areas, information on the indoors of certain places, restroom information, etc. Not to mention, vector data so it’s wicked fast and much easier on your dataplan. Sigh.

Ah, well. I’ve got nothing to complain about. I long wished for a device that combined music player, telephone, and PDA, and now I have it—plus it’s also a still camera and a video camera and a video game device! And an acceptable GPS. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: I feel blessed to have been born when I was. But I still would like to see Google Maps for Android on iOS. But, I won’t, because they’re competing or something.


I have many favorite movies. One of them is Fight Club.

At age 12 or 13, I first saw Looker. Other than Scrooge, it was my first exposure to Albert Finney. This was the scene from the movie that first caught my attention:
Only it wasn’t in French when I first saw it. 

— KW

Anders Behring Breivik Was Insane

Surprise! Anders Behring Breivik is not right in his head.

Much TV watching, playing of checkers in his future. Just punishment for the brutal murder of 77 innocent young people.

Too bad they couldn’t have moved the trial to Texas.

Prosecutors said Breivik, a self-declared anti-immigration militant, believed he had staged what he called “the executions” out of his love for his people. “The conclusion … is that he is insane,” prosecutor Svein Holden told a news conference on Breivik’s psychiatric evaluation. “He lives in his own delusional universe and his thoughts and acts are governed by this universe.”

If the court accepts the psychiatrists’ conclusions, Breivik would be held in a psychiatric institution rather than in a prison. Norwegian courts can challenge psychiatric evaluations or order new tests but rarely reject them. Breivik could be held as long as he poses a threat to society, but may be released if found to be healthy.

CPA Sex – it’s not just for accountants!

From Herman Cain’s attorney, describing the new allegation:

This is not an accusation of harassment in the workplace – this is not an accusation of an assault – which are subject matters of legitimate inquiry to a political candidate,” said attorney Lin Wood, who Cain hired after several sexual harassment allegations surfaced against him earlier this month

Rather, this appears to be an accusation of private, alleged consensual conduct between adults – a subject matter which is not a proper subject of inquiry by the media or the public. No individual, whether a private citizen, a candidate for public office or a public official, should be questioned about his or her private sexual life.

I wanted WJC to resign because he diddled a WH clerk.  It was their relative power positions in that workplace that  motivated my thinking, not the infidelity itself, about which I had no opinion for public consumption, nor was I impressed with his misdemeanor false swearing under oath in a deposition about an immaterial subject.

In theory I agree with Lin Wood, but the news loves S-E-X and I am sure there will not be a public outcry to protect the privacy of anyone in public life, ever.  Of course, one party here made her conduct quite public, for whatever reason, so the genie is out of that box, so to speak.

In theory, do you agree with Lin Wood?  I am curious how many  of us think consenting private adult [cpa] sex is not a legitimate ground for inquiry.

Is it any wonder?

Good morning, everyone!  I apologize for being absent for solong.  Currently, am still job-hunting,and not focused much on politics at all. I miss it!  I miss y’all!  Even QB.

Kevin and Michi: Thank you for contacting me.  You have no idea how good it feels!  I am stuck here in Manassas, and don’t darego out anywhere to spend anything.  Won’teven go the pool hall, damnit!

All of which leads me to the following:

The job market has changed so much in justa few years, literally! It is drastically different from what it was just 10years ago, and at THAT time, it didn’t have much in common with the way that Iwas taught to job hunt waaaaay back in the 80’s. Now it feels like I am on aroller coaster ride taking the long way around to the Black Hole of Resumes.

It used to be that with some good oldpavement pounding, you could find a job. In the mid-90’s, I took the yellow pages, and just started cold-callingevery business that had an interesting name. I found a job in a week.  I usedthe Sunday newspaper (you know, actual PAPER?)

Today, I go to Careerbuilder andMonster.  I’m trying to figure out LinkedIn.  Gadblummit, I am NOT going to signup to Facebook!  Enough already!!  Besides, I have NO CLUE where any pictures ofme are.  I have nothing to post.  I’m looking for employment, ‘k? I don’t wanta date. Unless they’re paying for everything.

So where am I going with this?  Why does this rant belong here, on this blog?Well.

In job-hunting today, on one hand, you areexpected to hand out all kinds of information about yourself to the generalpublic, in sites such as LinkedIn and FB.

On the other hand, be very carefulregarding identity theft, and pick your friends carefully, as some employersnow routinely run searches on social networks and Google about you before theyhire, and they check your friends as well.

It is these searches that are the cause ofmy ire.  I am looking for a job, youknow, that stuff that you do all day in order to collect a paycheck?  I am not looking to date you.  It really isn’t your business that my brotherhas mental issues.  They don’t affect MYjob!  It isn’t your business that myex-fiancee is still my friend, and that his daughter had a baby out of wedlock(how quaint!) a month ago. It isn’t your business that my old friend fromcollege, that I haven’t seen for 10 years, may have a drinking problem.  He lives in Atlanta.  I am looking for a job in the DC area.  Yes, I play pool.  I love to play pool! What does that have todo with fixing workstations?  If you wantme to dedicate every waking hour to YOU, Pay me!

And now we move on to finances.  Don’t you think, that if I am job-hunting,that I then may have a cash-flow issue? Isn’t that part of the whole situation that I am job-hunting to get outof? Steady paychecks have a way of clearing those things up pretty quick.  So, why are you denying me a job because Ihave been slow paying a couple bills?  Doyou really think that I am going to pay them faster now?

All of the above though, is just theinsult to the injury.  The injury:

I found your job listing.  I went to your website, I spent an hourfilling out an application with all the same info as the resume that yourequested I upload/cut’n’paste, I spent another 30 minutes browsing your site,and running searches on you.  Theresponse from you? Nothing. Black Hole. Nothing.

Oh, I might get one that says, “We gotyour resume.” That’s it. No other follow up. (more on this in a bit).

What happened to etiquette and manners? Afterspending all of that time, I expect a response. Something that says “Thank you for applying, position is filled”, or theone that says “Thank you for applying, we are not accepting apps now”.  You can’t be bothered for a little courtesywhen your job description clearly stated that “Friendly and prompt customerservice is a must”?

Or, if you are going to send a cannedresponse like “We got your resume”, do you mind following up on that?  I have responded to a job ad where thedescription also stated “track issues and follow up on all tickets promptly”.  Obviously, you need to hire me, because I neverhear from you again.

Worse. You apply to a position, and amonth later, and two months later, the SAME JOB IS STILL BEING ADVERTISED. Youknow what? They were just fishing. Trying to compare salary requirements, is all. They have no job. Theynever did.  Arseholes.

So, we have rudeness inside the workplace,and outside the workplace, and in our politics, and in our blogs. Is it anywonder there is such random violence, or that there is protesting going on?Really?

Ok. My rant is done.

Don’t mess with Joe

I don’t mean to step on the Bits and Pieces thread, but I saw this today and just had to put it up here. Any of you old timers remember Joe Kapp, the old quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings back in the late 60’s? Kapp is the only quarterback in history to appear in the Rose Bowl, the Super Bowl, and the CFL’s Grey Cup. Anyway, apparently the other day Kapp was being honored at a CFL alumni luncheon along with an old rival of his from the 1963 Grey Cup, Angelo Mosca. It seems that there was some kind of incident back in 1963 involving Mosca and a teammate of Kapp’s, which resulted in some hard feelings. Old grudges, it seems, die hard.

Bits & Pieces (Monday Night Open Mic)

How to cope with severe weather events, thanks to anthropogenic climate change? Get yourself a Black Umbrella.

Get dumb and bang a wizard. Snoop Dogg informs on the advantages of wind power.

Given recent news about ClimateGate 2.0, it’s interesting to discuss where “the truth” is in highly charge or highly emotional issues. And a recent Freakonomics podcast does just that.

A few observations from the podcast: being smarter is not actually helpful to arriving at the truth, and that you’re simply not going to make any progress if you characterize your opposition as dumb, or anti-science, or incapable if thinking for themselves. Also, conspiracy theorists will always believe “the truth is out there”.

Also: the Washington Post says dire global warming forecasts are now off the table. O-kay.


I watched It’s a Wonderful Life again this Thanksgiving. Gosh, I love that movie. God bless Jimmy Stewart, and Lionel Barrymore.

Sense and Nonsense, and David Frum

I’m going to post this with the same kind of pre-excuse that I don’t allow associates to use on the job:  typed up quickly to throw it on the table. I find Frum’s ongoing project to redefine conservatism and marginalize Republicans confused and flawed (and, frankly, annoying) in so many ways that it is hard to capture them. But it is an important topic, and I’m in a busy time at work, so this is the best I’ve got right now.

David Frum continues to make noise about the supposed Republican lurch into radicalism, speaking as what he claims is the lone (or nearly lone) voice of authentic conservatism, much to the delight of liberals, Democrats, and other sworn enemies of conservatism. His latest apologia, fittingly dispensed in the pages of the New York Times, claims that the Republican Party lost touch with reality and abandoned conservative positions across the board.

Poppycock. Frum, whatever he once was or believed, is speaking the gospel of Big Government, Progressive Republicanism, the sort that was justly described back in the days of authentic conservatism for which he longs as an acquiescence in the role of “tax collector for the welfare” state, and defeatist “go-along-get-along” politics. This is conservatism as Liberalism Lite. In Frum’s world, conservatives do not stand for a worthwhile, positive vision but serve only to throw themselves on the gears of the modern state in hopes of slowing its advance down the road to serfdom–just a little. They should not be combative or even assertive but should know their place as the perennial losers fighting an eternal rear-guard action. We should accept defeat nobly and with dignity. Surrender, in other words.

How do we know that it is Frum who either abandoned conservatism or never believed it in? It is as simple as reading his own words and what he identifies as badges of “conservative” governance. He complains that “It was not so long ago that Texas governor Bush denounced attempts to cut the earned-income tax credit as balancing the budget on the backs of the poor,” while today GOP thought leaders criticize a system under which nearly half of earners pay no income taxes. But George Bush was never a conservative. He never claimed to be. And an income tax system that excuses nearly half of income earners from taxes never was a conservative policy. It is more nearly the opposite of a conservative tax policy, particularly in the era of the modern welfare state.

Frum also inveighs: “In 2000, candidate Bush routinely invoked churches, synagogues, and mosques. By 2010, prominent Republicans were denouncing the construction of a mosque in lower Manhattan as an outrageous insult.” A few did. But does Frum really expect us to pretend that 911 did not happen, and that it was not the dominant event of the past decade?

“In 2003, President Bush and a Republican majority in Congress enacted a new prescription-drug program in Medicare. By 2011, all but four Republicans in the House and five in the Senate were voting to withdraw the Medicare guarantee from everybody under age 55.” Does Frum really expect anyone to believe that this massive new entitlement was a “conservative” innovation? Real conservatives opposed it at the time, as they always would have. Why and how did Frum come to define conservatism as the policy agenda of George Bush, rather than recognizing his old boss for what he was and is, a nonconservative? Was Medicare Part D part of the Contract with America? Or the Reagan platform? Or was George Bush a deviation from Republican governance since Reagan? And is this condemnation of Republican efforts to rein in Medicare costs really contained in the very same column in which he condemns them for profligate spending? Really, David? This is your best?

“Today, the Fed’s pushing down interest rates in hopes of igniting economic growth is close to treason, according to Governor Rick Perry, coyly seconded by TheWall Street Journal. In 2000, the same policy qualified Alan Greenspan as the greatest central banker in the history of the world, according to Perry’s mentor, Senator Phil Gramm.”

Let’s just overlook whether Phil Gramm spoke for all conservatives in 2000 or whether Rick Perry does today. Is Frum again unaware of any difference in economic conditions in 2000, before the tech bubble burst, let alone before 911, and the current economic situation?

“Today, stimulative fiscal policy that includes tax cuts for almost every American is socialism. In 2001, stimulative fiscal policy that included tax cuts for rather fewer Americans was an economic-recovery program.” We should be allowed to expect more integrity in argument than this from Frum. He’s factually wrong, to begin with; the Bush tax cuts cut taxes for virtually everyone who pays taxes, and took many completely off the rolls. But, that aside, which Republicans have said that tax cuts included in Obama’s stimulus package were socialism? We’ll go ahead and mark you down as a doctrinaire Keynesian who treats lower taxes purely as “stimulative” demand manipulation, David. But please don’t try to tell us that your position is the conservative one.

Frum massages history in strange ways. He says that Republicans are respsonsible for all our current problems because “Republicans held more power for longer than at any time since the twenties,” while completely excusing Democrats for any responsibility even for their current failures. Let’s see now, George Bush, a moderate liberal domestic President, had slight majorities in Congress for part of his eight year term. In the Senate, he scarcely ever had a majority, and Democrats decisively took over both houses in 2006. By contrast, Democrats had decisive control in 2009-10. Just as Bill Clinton did until he overreached. Just like Jimmie Carter had. And Johnson. But while Democrats have enjoyed much greater–indeed incomparable–control, they have no responsibility in Frum’s world. Only Republicans do.

And at the same time that he condemns Republicans for the results of their statecraft under George Bush, he holds up that period as the reflection of true conservatism that he claims to represent. Did I miss something here, David?

I’m not even sure what to make of statements like this one:

“The Bush years cannot be repudiated, but the memory of them can be discarded to make way for a new and more radical ideology, assembled from bits of the old GOP platform that were once sublimated by the party elites but now roam the land freely: ultralibertarianism, crank monetary theories, populist fury, and paranoid visions of a Democratic Party controlled by ACORN and the New Black Panthers.” [I don’t know how to block quote.]

Notice the ease with which he adopts the scornful rhetorical style of a partisan liberal, and equally how dismisses doubts about the Democratic Party of Obama. (Conservatives are crackpots for having raised alarms over Obama’s radical past? Does Frum understand that that past is real?)

The reality is that conservatives repudiated much of the “Bush years” while they were happening. That is true of real conservatives, at least, as opposed to people who were helping write speeches about “compassionate conservatism” and promote a huge new Medicare program. The government, the debt, the budget– all of it is much bigger now than at the beginning of the “conservative” Bush years. So you are darned right that conservatives have decided that we have reached a point where going along and getting along are no longer viable. Serious people like Paul Ryan have tried to start providing the conservative leadership we need to right our course and get through this time when our very survival sometimes seems at stake. But it is precisely this sober leadership that Frum seems to despise is radical kookery.

There is much else in Frum’s column with which to take issue. When he is at odds with 99% of conservatives, perhaps, just perhaps, it is he who is not what he claims to be. I’m happy for Frum that he has his blog with a little crowd of liberal “Republicans” to tell him how smart and honest he is. But he is not relevant to conservative Republicans except to continue to remind us of what has been most wrong with the party for many years:  lack of principle, self-doubt and even self-hatred, liberal elitism, resignment to surrender as the noble course.

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