URLs du Jour

2009-05-17

  • This (PDF) letter is (sort of) old news, but it's yet another illustration of our new era of political thuggery, where individuals exercising their rights under the law are threatened with retribution by powerful government officials. Sent last October, it's from six members of the House Committee on Financial Services (Barney Frank, Maxine Waters, Luis Gutierrez, Paul Kanjorski, Carolyn Maloney, and Melvin Watt) to William Frey, President of Greenwich Financial Services in Greenwich CT.

    Dear Mr. Frey:

    We were outraged to read in today's New York Times that you are actively opposing our efforts to achieve a diminution in foreclosures by voluntary efforts. Your decision is a serious threat to our efforts to respond to the current economic crisis, and we strongly urge you to reverse it.

    The Gang of Six went on to demonstrate their understanding of the word "voluntary":

    Given the importance of this to the economy and to what it means for future regulatory efforts, we have set a hearing for November 12, and we invite you now to testify. We believe it is essential for our policymaking function for you to appear at such a hearing, and if this cannot be arranged on a voluntary basis, then we will pursue further steps.

    Ooh, "further steps." But the not-particularly-well-veiled threats continue:

    For the hedge fund industry, which has flourished for much of the past decade, to take steps so actively in opposition to what is currently in the national economic interest is deeply troubling and will clearly have serious implications for the rules by which we operate in the future if this posture of obstruction of our efforts is maintained.

    Or, shorter: Stop making us mad, or you'll be sorry. (I'm tempted to be more pungent here, but I try to avoid bad language: this Joe Pesci quote from Casino would be a good approximation.)

    In a society that respected liberty and the rule of law, Frank, Waters, Gutierrez, Kanjorski, Maloney, and Watt would no longer be in a position to bully citizens legally pursuing their economic interests. Instead the six were re-elected in November with (respectively) 68.0%, 82.6%, 80.6%, 51.6%, 79.8%, and 71.6% of the vote.

    We are in for a bumpy ride down the Road to Serfdom . Your assigned reading is Chapter 10, "Why the Worst Get on Top."

    (More comments from Clayton Cramer (who links to Frey's measured response), Positive Liberty, and Cafe Hayek. The initial NYT article that got the six Congressional thugs so agitated is here.)

    Punchline: John Berlau reports that when the hearing rolled around in November, Frey's "essential" in-person testimony was cancelled by the committee. Berlau suspects the obvious reason: if they couldn't get Frey to kowtow, the committee Democrats didn't want to give his arguments any further publicity.

  • Charlotte Allen lets atheists have it in the LATimes.

    I can't stand atheists -- but it's not because they don't believe in God. It's because they're crashing bores.

    It's funny because it's true. It gives us a chance to look back on some other atheist-pokers we've liked over the years:

    • James Taranto (himself a nonbeliever) also noted this unfortunate trait back in 2005 (here and here).

    • And of course, we recall George H. W. Bush's famed exchange with Robert I. Sherman of American Atheist Press back in 1987.

      RS:
      "Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?"
      GB:
      "No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God."
      RS:
      "Do you support as a sound constitutional principle the separation of state and church?"
      GB:
      "Yes, I support the separation of church and state. I'm just not very high on atheists."

    • And Scott Adams:

      Perhaps you will argue that being 99.999999% certain God doesn't exist is just as good as being 100% sure. That strikes me as bad math.

  • NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day for, um, yesterday: Atlantis and Hubble in front of the Sun, slightly before their rendezvous. It was taken by French photographer Thierry Legault from Florida during the 0.8 second window in which the Sun, the spacecraft, and his camera were aligned. It's awesome.


Last Modified 2012-10-08 5:47 AM EST

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

[3.0
stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

At Pun Salad Manor, we are no longer apologetic for watching kid movies with no actual kid present. Good is good, funny is funny. And you can do worse than this. It's zany, loud, frenetic, and fun.

It's a sequel to Madagascar, which I can not find any evidence I actually saw. No matter, the basic plot is summarized in the first five minutes of this movie: a bunch of New York zoo animals (all talking, of course) escape and make their way to Madagascar. In this movie, they manage to make it to an African wildlife preserve, where more wacky adventures and hijinks ensue. The big lion is reunited with his long-lost parents.

Dreamworks is no Pixar, either in their animation or story-telling skills, but there's (nevertheless) a lot of cleverness and talent involved here, when it could have been a cold, limp effort to squeeze some more money from the rubes, as so many sequels are.

It's PG for "some mild crude humor," mainly double-entendre designed to appeal to your inner sixth-grader. (News: You can get away with saying "Bring me my nuts on a silver platter" in a PG movie if you're saying it to a flight attendant.)


Last Modified 2012-10-08 5:47 AM EST