Saturday, December 22, 2007

COMMERCIALS vs. REALITY: CREDIT CARDS vs. CASH


I am so sick of the credit card commercials that have everybody doing a synchronized dance up to the cash register. Everything is in harmony, until one person tries to pay with cash. The whole line stops, as well as the background music. After the awkward stares from everyone, the "cash" person produces a card to swipe at the terminal, restoring music and harmony to the commercial.



Here's the real story. I have twice as much handwritten paperwork to do for credit card customers at my job, so it's exactly the opposite of the insipid commercial. Credit card customers take longer to process, for reasons besides the paperwork. ID requirements are strict at my job, which means I've had to make people go back to their cars for their ID, if they want to pay with a credit card. We accept debit cards, but the pinpad also takes much longer than paying cash. Are you getting the point of this post yet?



Contrary to the stupid commercials, it is actually easier to use cash, in my place of business, at least. I see these commercials as selling the opposite of what you get from using the product they're selling. It's probably convenient at the "swipe by" terminals, but I have to verify that the person is the card holder, and that takes a little more time. In plain language, credit/debit card customers hold up the line, especially when it's busy. It's clearly false advertising, which would be worthy of a lawsuit in the EU, I'm sure. (See the EU's banning of Master Card's service fees, after 40 years; but I digress)



Do the clerks in these commercials wonder if the people swiping their cards to the music are actually the people whose names are on those cards, or could they care less? What are they selling in these credit card commercials? Convenience. I've already shown that to be a fallacy.



If someone steals your cash, you only lose that asset, and perhaps any assets it secured. If someone steals your credit card number, or other electronic key to your assets, they can steal your identity, and abuse it. They can "swipe" your credit card electronically, by walking next to you, these days



Maybe I'm crazy, but I still have high confidence in the US dollar bill (not that I have many, mind you). I'd buy as many of them now, while they're cheap, as I could, were I an international investor. That's not the same as buying packaged debt securities, whether they're based on US credit card debt, or US real estate mortgages, neither of which is a good investment, currently. Just a PS, mind you.

HUCK VS. RUSH: "Flavor of the Month" Meets Reality


Huckabee is the flavor of the month, and the month is drawing to an end. This is a blog roundup of his latest controversy, where his campaign slanders Rush Limbaugh. I think he's "hit the wall," regardless of how he does in Iowa. The following is crossposted from STOP THE ACLU, with permission.






Wow! Now this is gonna have to sting, at least a bit. There may not be many conservatives in Iowa that read the blogs, but I know there are plenty that tune into talk radio. As Jammie Wearing Fool says:




If you're now a top contender for the GOP nomination, the last man you want to alienate is Rush Limbaugh.





"Honestly, because Rush doesn't think for himself. That's not necessarily a slap because he's not paid to be a thinker?he's an entertainer. I can't remember the last time that he has veered from the talking points from the DC/Manhattan chattering class. If they were praising Huckabee, he would be too."




Of course his campaign is backpeddaling like crazy!



Audio response from Rush via Hot Air




CALLER: Yeah, Romney after that debate, the last debate, said he was in favor of expanding entitlements, which is anything but conservative.

RUSH: Yeah, that's why I haven't endorsed anybody. I'm waiting. I don't know how else I can do it. I realize that there are a lot of you out there: You got a candidate, and you think that if I got behind your candidate it would put 'em over the top, and you might be right. But, at this point, it's just an age-old belief that I have, and I remain true to my beliefs and principles. Now, some people have written me, "I hear you say this, but you're full of it. What about 2000 with Bush and McCain in South Carolina?" Special circumstance. You had a two-man race, and what was happening in South Carolina, McCain was going so far off the conservative reservation, so far off of it, that it was necessary to step in. Huckabee is getting close, I'm going to have to tell you. Huckabee's getting close to the same stuff. Huckabee is using his devout Christianity to mask some other things that are distinctively not conservative. He is against free trade. He's really doesn't believe in free market. Well, let me read what George Will wrote today. This is when I go along with "the DC-New York axis." But I just want to read from George Will's column, a paragraph today. "Huckabee's campaign actually is what Rudy Giuliani's candidacy is misdescribed as being ? a comprehensive apostasy against core Republican beliefs. Giuliani departs from recent Republican stances regarding two issues ? abortion and the recognition by the law of same-sex couples. Huckabee's radical candidacy broadly repudiates core Republican policies such as free trade, low taxes, the essential legitimacy of America's corporate entities and the market system allocating wealth and opportunity. [C]onsider New Hampshire's chapter of the National Education Association, the teachers union that is a crucial component of the Democratic Party's base. In 2004, New Hampshire's chapter endorsed Howard Dean in the Democratic primary and no one in the Republican primary. Last week it endorsed Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary ? and Huckabee in the Republican primary." It likes Huckabee on education.




Holy Crap at the blog reactions!!!!: Allahpundit:




Huck's people have already begun kissing ass to mitigate the damage. The more the conservative world comes out against him, from Will to Peggy Noonan to NRO to Rush to Sean Hannity, the more he'll be forced to pitch an "us against them" campaign to his supporters. He's too far left on too many issues to tack right credibly, so the only way to keep them in the fold is to try to build on that religious and economic populism he's peddling and make this a full-blown Cause against the conservative establishment. The trick is keeping the few truly big players like Limbaugh neutral, since they really do have the chops to tilt this thing in a two-man race. Sounds like it might already be too late.




Jim Geraghty:




My instinct is to say, "no way, a thumbs down from Rush is fatal," but a guy on another campaign cautions me. "An Iowa pastor who has been talking up Huckabee isn't going to change his mind because Rush Limbaugh doesn't like him." He points out that a pastors and religous leaders deal with people who fall short of their ideals all the time; hearing that Mike Huckabee was too merciful in dealing with Wayne Dumond is not going to be a dealbreaker for them. They'll probably go, no pun intended, "there but for the grace of God go I."

So? if a certain significant chunk of Huckabee's supporters back him because he's the most vocal Christian in the race, not because of the conservatism of his record or policy stances?. if the moment comes where the race needs a Huck Slayer (as social conservatives thought the race might require a Rudy Slayer)? can anybody in the race go after Huckabee on that ground? Can anyone make the argument to that Republican plurality, "Okay, nevermind conservative policy choices - he's not the good Christian leader you think he is"?




Michelle Malkin:




I was in the car listening to Rush Limbaugh responding to the Mike Huckabee campaign's attack on him. What an unbelievably knuckle-headed move by Huckabee's minions. Casting Limbaugh as part of the Beltway-Manhattan elite? Those who've been tuning in and listening closely know that Limbaugh has scrupulously avoided playing favorites with any of the GOP candidates. He's been an equal-opportunity scrutinizer. What possible benefit could accrue from going after one of the conservative moment's most popular figures?



I believe this Rush-bashing incident may turn out to be Huckabee's Howard Dean scream moment.




Glenn Reynolds:




I told you attacking him was a bad idea. That would be like Hillary going after Oprah.




Bit's Blog:




You don't claim to be running against the Washington elites and then pick a fight with the person who makes his living skewering the same elites.




Axis of Right




Before anyone knew who Huckabee was, he seemed like a very amiable, conservative Republican. Over the last few weeks, however, he's burned the bridges with Romney and Giuliani, alienated the not-as-churchy conservative base with his liberal tax policies, ostensibly alienated Rush Limbaugh (and many of his millions of conservative listeners) from his big tent, attacked Bush's foreign policy which offends the party people, being so out of step with conservatives on illegal alien college tuition, etc.



Yet, he's still polling well. I'm just baffled at Huckabee's behavior and statements recently, especially since his recent fronterunner status materialized.




Caution: Watch for falling in the polls. As Bill Quick says:




I Think The Huck Has Gone About As High As He's Going to Get.




Captain Ed:




Had Huckabee not gone out of his way to slap at George Bush, people may have believed the denial, because attacking Rush makes no sense at all. Candidates who disagree with him would normally just avoid talking about it. No one needs the figurative 800-pound gorilla in the room stomping on them, and Rush has a much more powerful podium than any of the people in this race.



I'd think that the source will wind up being a lower-level operative with a big mouth. Still, the damage is done. Huckabee will have a hard time living this down, although maybe not so much in Iowa, where the caucusers tend to like populists. Expect this to sting most in South Carolina and the national numbers.




Dan Riehl:




The media is bound to pick it up giving it even more exposure than Rush is. And Huckabee's bound to lose. You don't pick fights with people who buy ink by the barrel, or have three hours of air time every day. As I suggested below, I guess Huckabee really isn't all that bright.




Ace gets the sarcasm out of the bag:




The liberals have a threadworn gag: Don't vote against the Republicans, or else the Baby Jesus cries. But Mike Huckabee is basically really saying that.



I am not a religious guy so perhaps my opinion doesn't count. But you can take this "at least he's sincere and nice" crap and chuck it. Invoking Jesus as a reason to not discuss one's political record while running for office seems to me to be borderline blasphemous, a rather presumptuous inversion of who, precisely, is supposed to be in the service of Whom.



And I don't know if a real, believing, reverent Christian would dare to do that. Has any Christian out there ever gone into an employee evaluation around Easter and Christmas and told his boss, "I hope, out of respect for this blessed season, you refrain from commenting negatively on my performance this quarter. Otherwise you're not giving proper respect to our Lord and Savior."




Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit:




The Huckabee Rush-bashing incident is costing the Arkansas governor dearly.




Jonathan Martin of Politico:




Raising the ire of Limbaugh is different than annoying elite conservatives. Rush may not live in Cape Girardeau anymore and he may hobnob with a different set, but his millions of listeners emphatically see him as one of them.



Among the ditto-heads are thousands here in Iowa getting their Rush fix from one of nine stations on which he airs in the state. Within this group is a large subset of GOP activists and come-hell-or-high-water caucus goers.



It's these Republican regulars ? the phone bankers, envelope stuffers, Lincoln Day Dinner casserole-bringers ? who will almost certainly have second thoughts if so respected (and there are few more) a conservative voice as Limbaugh is calling Huck's conservative credentials into question.




Rick Moran on Huckadumb:




Huckabee is running toward a gasoline dump with a lit match and no one appears able to stop him. Rudy is fading.




Doug Ross:




Huckabee has no chance at winning the nomination. That's no chance. And that, my friends, I can promise you.




I save the best two for last:



Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiller:




Boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy it's going to be a rather splendid time watching the Huckabomb go down in flames.



We don't know about you, but somehow it strikes us as rather unwise to choose for the leader of our nation somebody who likes to pick fights with people he can't possibly hope to win against. Pick a fight. With Rush freakin' LIMBAUGH???




MacRanger:




My support of Fred Thompson is based on the fact that he IS the only true conservative choice in the pack - period.



In listening to the tapes of Rush's montage today he says exactly the same thing. If we have a choice of choosing someone who holds up the tenants of conservatism, then why not support them? There is no reason not to, except as I pointed out to pick someone ONLY on the basis of whether or not they can beat Hillary in 2008.



The latter is a copout, pure and simple.




My last thoughts?.who is this going to help the most? Its obviously going to send Huckabee down in Iowa, and eventually in the national level. Fred has the most to gain from this, as well as Romney. I think Michelle Malkin said it best?it is the Howard Dean moment of this primary. C-ya Huckablunder.



PS from Chris Leavitt: I am offended that these pols presumed that it was a good idea to make me think about primary politics in the middle of the Christmas/New Year holiday/shopping season. That's what "huckster" means to me. It's interesting that after Huckabee got so much attention with his "subliminal" Christmas ad, every candidate had their own within a few days. I don't like political ads intruding on the commercialization of the celebration of the anniversary of the birth of Christ.






Also, see ARE CONSERVATIVES CRACKING UP?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

My Differences With The NYCLU on "Reproductive Rights"


This is an excerpt from my latest email from the NYCLU:




In April, the Supreme Court showed a frightening disregard for a woman's right to make private reproductive health care decisions when it upheld a federal ban on abortion methods. This decision was a profound setback - not just for women, but for all Americans who believe medical decisions should be made by patients and their doctors, not by politicians. This defeat endangers women and undermines one of the core principles of Roe v. Wade - that women's health is always paramount.




Is there no consideration for the life that the man and woman create? The Supreme Court seems to think there is some. The question is how much can women and men restrict the procreation of humans. It's an age-old question, but it still lingers as a theme in the public/political debate.



The "women's health" argument is a canard. If a woman could abort a pregnancy for "health risks," EVERY child could justifiably be terminated. Having a baby causes a health risk, period. So what's the real reason behind this charade?



The NYCLU sees this as an issue of women's rights; of "privacy" of a woman's "decision." They don't consider the rights of the father, or the child whose life is taken. They propound a feminist ideology that I find repugnant, and worthy of the term that Rush coined, "feminazis."



Did anyone notice that the NYCLU's press release said the Supreme Court "upheld a federal ban on abortion methods?" Why were no specifics given in their statement, regarding the proscribed "methods?" Because the methods we're talking about are clearly inhumane, both in theory and practice.



The NYCLU doesn't care about the rights of the least among us. They prefer to cater to the political struggle of women's rights, over all others. They are sorely misguided in this endeavor.



There are many other factors in this debate, and I am pro-choice, to a certain degree (less than 3 months, with other factors mitigating that time frame). Morally, I may be a hypocrite, but as a person, this is how I feel about this issue. If I was a woman, I don't think it would be my right to kill a child growing inside of me. As a man, I know I would go to jail if I tried to kill a child of mine, inside a woman's belly.



Finally, does Roe V. Wade say that the woman's health is paramount? Or is the NYCLU up to their old "spin" on this one? If so, then I say "nice try, but no cigar." They got a response from my heart, and it finds them lacking on the "civil rights" issue. But they profess to protect "civil liberties," not "civil rights," so maybe I'm wrong about their goals, anyway. Perhaps a woman's liberty overrides a child's rights, in their view.

ONLY IN NEW YORK: Muslim Defends Jew Against "Christian" Subway Thugs


Alot of people think alot of bad things about New York City, sometimes with reason. Here's a story that shows not just the bad, but the greatness that exists in our fair city. The story made the front page of the NY POST. Here's an excerpt:




A Brooklyn man whose "Happy Hanukkah" greeting landed him in the hospital said he was saved from a gang of Jew-bashing goons aboard a packed Q train by a total stranger - a modest Muslim from Bangladesh.



Walter Adler was touched that Hassan Askari jumped to his aid while a group of thugs allegedly pummeled and taunted him and his three friends. So Adler has invited his new friend over to celebrate the Festival of Lights.



The two new pals - Adler, 23, with a broken nose and a fat lip, and Askari, 20, with two black eyes - broke bread together and laughed off the bruises the night after the fisticuffs.



"A random Muslim guy jumped in and helped a Jewish guy on Hanukkah - that's a miracle," said Adler, an honors student at Hunter College.



"He's basically a hero. Hassan jumped in to help us."



But Askari, who is studying to be an accountant, shrugged off the praise.



"I just did what I had to do," he recalled. "My parents raised me that way."



Ten people were arrested in the underground attack on Friday night - including two men who have been arrested for race crimes before.




It all began when Adler, his girlfriend, Maria Parsheva, and two other pals boarded the subway at Canal Street bound for Brooklyn and someone in another group wished them "Merry Christmas."



Adler and his pal Angelica Krischanovich responded: "Happy Hanukkah."



Apparently, those were fighting words.



"They just came at us so fast. The first thing that came into my mind was, 'Yeah, this is going to be violent,' " said Parsheva, 20.



One of the group immediately hiked up his sleeve to reveal a tattoo of Christ.



"He said, 'Happy Hanukkah, that's when the Jews killed Jesus,' " said Adler.



The group of about 14 men and women then allegedly began taunting Adler and his pals as "dirty Jews" and "Jew bitches."



Amid a huge scrum, Askari jumped in.



"...there's lots of people, they're fighting with Hassan still, and I'm like, why isn't anyone else doing anything?" Adler said.




Yes, we have people as bigoted as anywhere in the world, here in NYC. We also have something else, though. We also have people like Hassan Askari, who stepped up when others were scared to. This guy's a hero in my book.



Read the whole article (linked above), for more info about one of the twisted attackers (and photos of the victims). Already facing 6 months jail for a previous racial assault, this was the lowlife's comment:



"I'm trying to stay out of trouble," he said. "When I get out, I want to go into the military."



Only in NY, folks. The best and worst of humanity, right on our front pages.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Long Knives Come Out: THE NEW YORKER AND VANITY FAIR TO "PROFILE" SPITZER

Spitzer gets "profiled" by both The New Yorker, and Vanity Fair. According to PAGE SIX, neither is a flattering profile. My buddy jJack Midnight asked me back in July: "why I should care about local politics in New York?" My reply was that he was a rising Democratic star, who was about to fall.

And fall he has. That two "dyed-in-the-wool" liberal magazines will feature him, in a critical light, at the same time, says it all. He should never have made a problem for Hillary. I'd like to think that my reporting of Spitzer's excesses helped, but this level of media influence is uniquely Clintonian. The "long knives" are coming out.

Readers of LEAVWORLD: GRAFFITI POLITTI will be familiar with all of the dirt on Spitzer, of course. I'm just glad to see the "progressive intellectual" media agree with a position I've been advocating for months. A final thought: "Don't put a fork in Spitzer; he's not done yet!"

Update: Fred U. Dicker's latest column gleans some "new" dirt on Spitzer, from the New Yorker piece, in Tuesday's (12/04/07) NY Post! Echoing my "final thought!"