Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sempre Fi

One of the books we put out at Longdash, titled "Letters Home: Paris Island 1944 to 1946" just got a good review from the Midwest review of books:

Lke a broken record...

John McCain gives me hope. Every time he opens his mouth he makes the world a little brighter for the Democrats. In spite ofthe fact that they Hilary and Obama are tearing the party apart, in spite of the fact that they are digging up amunition on each other that McCain and the Republican Slime Machine (TM) will fling right back at them, every time he speaks he gives me hope. It's not that he's making the types of gaffs our current president makes. Nobody (obviously) cares about that. It's that he's old. And it's not that he's physically old. It's that he has old ideas. He repeats the same empty rhetoric and tired ideas that do not and will never work as though they are fresh and new and brilliant. He has, truly, nothing to add to the debate.

This week it was health care. He made a bold pronouncement on health care, that competition is the way to fix the system, and that having more choices for insurance will drive prices down. It's been proven time and again that this idea doesn't work. Every time he repeats one of these tired old ideas all anybody has to say is "it is just that type of thinking that got us into this mess." Apparently, Barak Obama is saying just that.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Publish Yourself in the news!!

WNBC did a great segment on our Publish Yourself store. Check it out HERE.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Job Loss

According to Forbes, of the ten worst cities in America for jobs, five of them are in Michigan: Detroit, Flint, Warren, Lansing, and Ann Arbor. And they don't get a vote in this year's democratic primary. Three others are in Ohio: Youngstown, Canton, and Dayton. Except for Youngstown, they are all auto industry towns, and Youngstown is a steel town that sold most of its steel to the auto industry. The other two are New Orleans and, for some strange reason Hickory, North Carolina. All of them saw negative job growth over the past five years.

It's no wonder Hilary is gaining votes by attacking the signature piece of legislation of her husband's presidency. Last night Pat Buchanan said she won Pennsylvania by transforming herself into the love-child of Joe Hill and Norma Rae. As has been pointed out by a lot of pundits, if you just listened to the adds in PA you'd think she had never graduated high-school, got her GED and attended a community college in Scranton. Wellesley and Yale are never mentioned. And this is how she can win. Like George Bush, who transformed himself from a well-educated, Yale/Harvard New England blue-blood into a salt of the earth aw-shucks Texas redneck, Hilary knows that to be President people need to like you and they need to see a bit of themselves in you. You have to seem common to gain the most extraordinary post in the world.

Oh, for the record: counting law school, seven presidents have graduate from Harvard, five from Yale, but good old boy George is the only president to have graduated from both.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

You reap what you sow

I would just like to point out that the whores in congress and their corporate masters in the banking industry have officially sunk the economy. Yes, you all knew that, but I want to connect the dots as to where and how this happened.

2005. That was when republicans had full control of congress, Bush just got relected, and they thought they could do anything, including overturning a state court's decison about a dying woman's last wish. It has been doccumented how that was essentially a payoff to the religious fanatics who ahd put Bush and the pachyderms in charge of our lives. But they also paid back their real constituents, the bankers, as well. It was called bankruptcy reform. Ink was given at the time how it would hurt the little guy, eliminating his ability to write down debts under bankruptcy, essentially giving the bnaks the ability to get hold of our money regardless of whether or not we could repay it. In What's the Matter with Kansas, Thomas Frnak refered to this as a bait and switch: you vote for prayer in schools and you get a bankruptcy bill, supporting the interests of big business agaisnt your own in the guise of voting for God. And it worked. This reform was a big deal to the banks, as at that time of heady profits bankruptcy write-downs represented one of the few signifcant areas of loss and they wanted to get rid of it. So it was the poorhouse for anybody who got sick and lost their job, too F-ing bad.

But what didn't get a lot of ink was how bankruptcy reform not only affected average joes but corporate america as well--especially retailers. In an article in this morning's New York Times the shroud has been ripped off that corpse. Bankruptcy filings are way up among retailers-- places like Levitz, Linenes and Things, and Sharper Image just to name a few. They are all over the board, in every sector of retail. As these companies fail their bankruptcies spread to other companies big and small to whom they owe money. Want to see the perfect recipe for a depression? Knock over a bunch of big retailers at once and have them write down debt to both supliers and shippers and watch the dominoes fall. Hundreds of stores are closing. Thousands of people are losing their jobs. Rents at malls are not being paid. Some companies are writing off literally millions of dollars of debt to UPS alone. And here's the worst of it. Because of the Elephant Bankruptcy Reform package, companies have much less time to pay off bank loans than they had before, and those loans now have to get paid first. Forget it if you have a gift card from a failing company. You are last in line. Forget it if you have a job with them too, because even many those companies that have filed for re-organization will find that they are not able to emerge from bankruptcy under the new laws. They will simply dissapear, along with the jobs they provided, the rents they paid, and even some of the companies to whom they owed money.

Thank you Republican Controlled Congress of 2005 for signing the economy's death warrant.

Fasten your seatbelts, passengers.

And The Children Shall Lead Them Into Lucifer's Hammer

Or something like that. The associated Foregin Press has a story out today that a 13 year old boy corrected a NASA report on the chances of the asteroid Apophis hitting earth in the year 2029. The space agency gave it a 1 in 45,000 chance. The kid figured it at 1 in 450. The kid, it turns out, is right. That's really short odds for figuring the end of the world as we know it. Scary. And it does not inspire confidence in NASA.

Aparently, the kid figured the chance not only of the asteroid hitting earth but also of it hitting a satelite. See, Apophis will pass so close to the earth, about 32,000 kilometers that it will be passing WITHIN the geosynchronous orbit of some satelites. If it hits one of the satelites the satelite will fall into the Atlantic ocean causing tidal waves and a cloud of smoke that could black out the sun indefinitely, and the asteroid will then surely hit the earth in 2036.

So party up now, people, because in twenty-one to 28 years it's the end of the world as we know it.

This message brought to you by the letter A (for Armegedon).

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

and The Winner Is

I just love stats like this: Reuters published the results of a survey about the ten most favorite books in America. No surprise that the Bible was number one, followed by Gone witht he Wind and, my favorite book, The Lord of the Rings. But then AOL hadto go and put their oar in with another one of their surveys. This one asked "Which of the ten most popular books do you like most." No big surprise that the winner ws the Bible, with 28%. Then they asked "Which of the ten most popular books do you ike the least?" and the winner was....the Bible, with 22%.

I love statistics.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

More on Chuck

Mick LaSalle's fine obituary on Heston is worth checking out:

I really hope they burry him clutching a flintlock.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Moses has gone up the mountain

If you ask me to name my favorite films, most of them would star Charlton Heston. The Three Musketeers in which he played Cardinal Richelieu is, in my opinion, one of the top five movies of all time, and the best historic epic ever. Not far behind are The Agony and the Ecstasy, Ben Hur, The Buccaneer, The Greatest Story Ever Told, El Cid, Khartoum, Major Dundee, Will Penney, Tombstone and of course every SCA knight’s favorite wet-dream, The Warlord. Then there were contemporary films, like A Touch of Evil, Earthquake, and The Greatest Show on Earth. And for a few years Heston was even the king of science fiction with Planet of the Apes, Omega Man, and Soylent Green.

Oh yeah. And he was Moses.

For people of a certain age, the early TV age, Heston was history:
Colonel Gordon,
Andrew Jackson (twice)
Ben Hur
Buffalo Bill
Sir Thomas Moore
Henry VIII
Thomas Jefferson
John the Baptist
His last role ever was as Joseph Mengele

I swear I saw a movie wherein Heston played St. Peter, but I can’t find it now. Then there’s all the great fictional characters he played in historical movies like The Hawaiians and Call of the Wild. He also played Sherlock Holmes, Heathcliff, MacBeth, Peer Gynt, the Player King, and Marc Antony (three times). He had, as he said, a face for another time. Just the other day I was talking to my students about Michaelangello’s statue of Moses, and told them that that was the look DeMille copied for his image of Moses. What I learned today was that DeMille cast Heston because of his resemblance to the statue. So Heston got to play both the artist and, in a way, one of his most famous creations.

A lot of my leftie buddies out there will be dancing in the streets at his demise. To them he was a joke: an old conservative hack who had made grotesquely overwrought movies they think are terrible. He made himself the voice of conservatives, particularly after Ronald Regan left the scene, and they will never forgive him for it. He had after all (like Regan before him) been fairly liberal at one time: he’d been president of the Screen Actor’s Guild and he’d marched in civil rights marches but, like Regan, he grew more conservative with age. Though less than Regan, he was seen as a traitor by the left, especially in Hollywood. So what? I break with my left leaning friends on Heston’s biggest issue, guns, anyway. I took greater exception to the way he attacked Ice T. For a long time Heston was a struggle for me. I idolized him growing up, but his politics repulsed me. But as I got older and a bit (just a bit) more conservative (or perhaps more mellow in my outlook), none of that seemed to matter. Whenever he showed up in one of his late cameos, like in Wayne’s World or True Lies, or even that awful remake of Planet of the Apes, he instantly made the mover more enjoyable. What did I care if he campaigned for the Republicans? I’ll let you in on a secret: as much as I like Michael Moore, and as good a film as I thought Bowling for Columbine was, I was furious at what he did to Heston in the last scene, ambushing him like that. I stormed out of the movie theatre in a rage.

Once upon a time Charlton Heston was my hero. He was the actor I wanted to be, playing the roles I wanted to play. If he sometimes seemed to over act it wasn’t that he was over acting, it’s that he himself was so much bigger than life that the roles he played couldn’t contain him. Look at the subtlety in how he plays Richelieu, the range he displays as Jackson, the doomed dignity he brings to Gordon. And come on: how could you deliver a method Moses—especially with DeMille as your director and Yul Brynner as your pharaoh? He was probably one of the greatest actors we will ever see, and he was certainly the most epic. Like Brynner and John Wayne, he had a presence, a spirit that was so big that it took over every film he was in (which is why the two films he did with Brynner are so much fun to watch).

But the thing about actors—the great ones—is that they don’t die away. They stay with us forever, or at least as long as we have DVDs and cable TV. Heston will drop into our lives from time to time by surprise, showing up on our doorstep as Major Dundee or as Marc Anthony, and we’ll welcome him in and reminisce, and he’ll make us feel good again. As with Brando and Olivier and John Wayne we can call them up whenever we want. And of course he’ll come over to our house every Easter when they show Ben Hur and The Ten Commandments which is how I saw Heston last, two weeks ago on Easter weekend as I was staying in a hotel in Tahlequah Oklahoma, I had The Ten Commandments to make me feel at home. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been thumbing through my 1,000 channels and paused on A Touch of Evil and been sucked in, not leaving again till Marlene Dietrich says “He was a man.”

No, great movie stars never die. They live with us forever. So long, Moses.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


I don't know how else to say this so I'll just come out and day it: I don't trust Ben Berneke.

At first I liked him. I think it was the beard. He seemed a genuine guy, and a welcome change from the cadaverous severity of Alan Greenspan. But like a lot of people, I'd love to have Greenspan back.

Bernake testified before Congress today about the bailout of Bear Sterns, the current state of the economy, and the administrations new regulatory package. He said all the right things: that the economy is likely in recession but will expand in the second half of the year; that bailing out Bear Sterns was necessary to maintain confidence in the markets. Blah blah blah. He also said that the Fed needed the new regulatory authority that President Bush's financial regulation package would give it, which would make the Fed the top regulatory agency governing investment firms.

That raised flags. I'm always suspicious when anybody says "I need you to give me more power."

Schumer complained that the Fed seemed willing to bail out Bear Sterns but wasn't willing to help out consumers who are about to loose their homes. It's a fair complaint, no matter how Bernake tried to deflect it. But there are other issues.

By the pure Milton Friedman philosophy, the Fed shouldn't be bailing out anybody, homeowners or investment banks. Friedman would say that when you over extend yourself, when you gamble and loose, you should pay the price and if that means losing your home or your investment bank then so be it. The fire sale that will result --whether its Dolf dr Roos or JP Morgan who comes in to exploit your pain--creates an opportunity that others can take advantage of, creating new economic activity, and eventually turning the entire economy around. Every catastrophe is an opportunity and, while those who seize the opportunity are often called profiteers, they are also the main engine for recovery. Or so the lazies fair economists would have us believe.

Keynes of course would argue something different, and therein lies the rub: I wouldn't mind it as much if a democratic administration was coming out and saying "we need more regulations and more regulatory authority." I expect it of them. They can quote a principal on which their position is based. It's in their genetic makeup. That's ok. But when a republican administration and the Fed chairman that this president appointed comes out in favor of giving more regulatory authority to the Fed it makes me worry. I look at what these guys have done with the power we've already given them and it does not breed confidence. How can a conservative economist and a conservative president call for more regulation and more government authority? This guy, who continually wraps himself in the sacred mantle of Ronald Regan, is trying to make government bigger and increase interference in the area of the economy--the investment sector--that they have always claimed needs *less* regulation and oversight.

I don't agree. I think there should be oversight. There should sure as hell be more than we've had recently. But that oversight authority should belong to the SEC, not the Fed. And the fact that this cabal of financial Illuminati is the one calling for more oversight really really scares me. It's not that I have any good reason to be scared. I'm sure it is just my anti-bush bias showing. But it stinks.

Adam Smith, Milton Friendman, and Ronald Regan are all dancing a dervish right now.