Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Top Ten Most Interesting or Perversely Damaged People of 2008

10. Eliot Spitzer. We didn’t catch Osama Bin Laden, but we caught Eliot Spitzer with a prostitute. This pleased me a lot, I have to admit. (Whenever we were watching the news, and a Spitzer-n-da-ho story would come up, my wife would look at me and mouth, "LO--REE--NA BOB--BITT!")

9. Matt Whitton and Rick Dyer. Two guys who did the Bigfoot hoax. Claimed they had DNA and everything. Sold to Tom Biscardi, but it was just a gorilla suit frozen in a block of ice. Biscardi must be one of those people who bought into Bernie Madoff’s investment schemes.

8. Dmitry Medvedev. Current President of Russia, clearly a puppet for Vladimir Putin (who looks better with their shirts off?). Medvedev just signed a new law that makes the NEXT Pres of Russia be able to serve a six year term, not a four term, and in fact next guy can serve TWO of them, 12 years. There is some chance that Medvedev will resign in the next six months. Something like that could never happen here…unless President’s daughter Caroline Kennedy is elected Senator from New York, a state where she has never lived, following President’s wife Hillary Clinton, in a state where SHE had never lived. Okay, never mind. Vlad, go ahead.

7. Harry Reid, Dem and Senate Maj Leader. Very nearly a veto proof majority, quite possibly with Stuart Smalley ("I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.) Now, this is not because Harry Reid is anything special; quite the contrary. But because of the events of 2008, Harry Reid is now the Majority Leader for a Senate with 59 Democrats.

6. Michael Phelps. Remarkable athlete, seemed able to do just well enough to win, even in races he should have lost. Born and raised in Baltimore, Phelps worked hard and made the best use of his very long arms and torso. Nearly $10 million in endorsement income already.

5. Rod Blagojevich (made Sarah Palin look positively level-headed and sane!)

4. Sarah Palin: Burst on the scene already a legend. (Tina Fey's spot on imitation was remarkable). The Wasilla whirlwind.

3. Bernie Madoff / Barney Frank. Madoff with $50 billion. We didn’t catch him, we did catch Eliot Spitzer….Barney: On-line rights (partnered with Ron Paul), free speech, medical marijuana.

2. Ron Paul / Joe the Plumber: Ron Paul ran for President as a Republican, and made quite a good showing. And the small government wing of the Republican party can sure use the support. Joe the Plumber? Plumbed the depths of “I hate everything,” by writing a fatuous tell-all book, Fighting for the American Dream. Said that he “Felt more dirty after the campaign,” because of the untruths and sheer contumacity of the McCainiacs. On the other hand, Joe the (not licensed) plumber did get Obama to say, “Things work better when we spread the wealth around.” This did reveal something about Obama that many suspected.

1. Barack Obama: One of the truly unique figures in American political history. So far, his economic team is great, his foreign policy team is great… But is he even interested in those things? Is the reason he picked good people is that he wants to work on....(pregnant pause)....OTHER THINGS?


Anonymous said...

I'm confused, is Harry Reid interesting, or the fact that he'll have to butter up to big Al? (what I find interesting is Harry's brother is named Larry, and still lives in Searchlight, NV - no joke).

Also, what about Johnny "in remission" E? He's the son of a mill worker, you can't get more interesting than that.

Anonymous said...

You made a factual mistake in #3. Barney Frank is touting removal of FEDERAL penalties for SMALL amounts of ADULT possession. That's decrim--not MMJ.

On a more opinionated note. Joe The Plumber had nothing t: do with the puerile slogan "I hate everything." Joe asked a simple question: do you plan to raise taxes--on anyone at any time?

For this transgression, the media AS WELL AS AGENTS OF THE STATE dug into his personal life and investigated scandals with far more zeal and due diligence (and undue scrutiny) than they had given Barack Obama in the previous 20 months.

Joe the Plumber also inadvertently brought up the important issues of occupational licensure, tax collection, fathers' rights, creeping government databases and privacy issues.

By a mixture of (some) pluck and (more) luck, JtP brought more substantive issues to the forefront than Obama and McCain combined.

I'm ready to defend that assertion if you wish.

Anonymous said...

As part of my new year's resolution to not let R nut-jobs (i.e. most of my former colleagues in the R party) spread false info, I have to clarify a few points:

1) Joe is not actually a plumber, he is just a Joe.

2) Joe doesn't pay taxes, therefore his concern for other peoples' money, like my tax dollars, is appreciated but clearly shows his ignorance. If I pay LESS taxes, people like him (who pay no taxes, income or property) will be worse off. His kids schools will receive less money, they roads he drives on to do his illegal work will be not be maintained as well, etc. Of course, if there are less public services he is less likely to be busted to practicing a trade without a license.

3) Joe is actually undercutting the "working man" more than higher taxes ever will. By practicing a trade illegally, he is taking income away from working plumbers who actually learned the trade and practice legally. Now, as a Libertarian, I can understand that licensing is a barrier to entry and thus decreases opportunity for income. But given the current system, Joe is a parasite on the working man and therefore doing more damage than higher taxes ever will (as you can pass those costs on to some degree, assuming you aren't undercut by illegal plumbers). I would have some respect for him if he referred to himself as "Joe the illegal plumber", at least then he would have some self-awareness.

4) The entire premise of his concern with higher taxes is that if taxes are raised on those making more than $250K he won't be able to buy the plumbing business he works for, which makes $250K a year. As a small business owner, I can tell you that he is missing the entire point. My INCOME is not equal to the REVENUE from my business. What a small business pays taxes on is the income they derive AFTER paying for business expenses. So for a plumber expenses may be a significant portion of revenue: i.e. trucks, supplies, rent, maintenance, licensing fees (assuming they're licensed), insurance, etc. After those expenses are paid (and deducted where allowed by the tax code), the remaining amount can be deemed personal income. Therefore, to claim $250K in income from revenue, they must have a pretty substantial business. Of course, Joe got it all wrong. He does not make $250K in income, he claimed the business made $250K in revenue. Therefore, my guess is that his income is much less than that, and his taxes will not go up.

5) The only issue Joe injected into the campaign is the Mac/Pal charge of "socialism" because O said we are all better off if we spread the wealth around. On this point I agree with Joe, as someone fortunate enough to make a good amount of money it is painful to watch almost 50% of it go to taxes and entitlements. But the worst part of it is knowing that my tax $, with which I could retire when I'm 40, goes to support ignorant, illegal business owners and tax cheats like Joe who don't even understand the difference between revenue and income, nor understand that our tax system is what is allowing him to exist as an illegal business owner, in fact exists at all. Without our progressive, and socialist, tax structure his kids wouldn't have a free education, he couldn't claim them as dependents and reduce HIS taxes, he wouldn't have roads that were open to everyone to drive on, and he would likely not be sitting in his home when O walked by as people like me wouldn't be subsidizing his mortgage interest and property taxes making it "almost" affordable for him to own a home.

6) So to sum up, there is nothing real of substantial that Joe represented in the campaign. Other than that ignorant tax cheats can get their 15 minutes of fame. He benefits from our current tax code, and will benefit even more if taxes on those making over $250K go up, but is too dumb to recognize it. He doesn't own his business because he doesn't have a legal profession. However, he did reveal just how bankrupt of actual ideas and issues the Mac campaign was. Doesn't look good for the Rs either given that there constituency now consists largely of ignorant tax cheats. Perhaps the bright side to all this is that Joe likely has a seven figure book deal by now and will have to pay taxes this time around. Then he can find out what it feels like to support ignorant tax cheats, some of whom will clog of the airwaves with their 15 minutes.

Anonymous said...

1) If you drive a cab, you're a cab-driver--medallion or not. If you fix pipes, you're a plumber.

2) Not everyone who has a tax dispute with the government is a tax resister or evader. First, there's the issue of innocent-until-proven-guilty. Second, there are the cases where the state's decision is a miscarriage of justice. Third, it may be that Joe was unaware or is working out the payment plan with the state. Finally, this information was illegally leaked. It is supposed to be confidential. This was a use of personal information by state officials for political purpose. Shame on a "Libertarian" blogger for thinking this is fair game. What if they had released information about his sodomy conviction? Would it be libertarian to say "anyway, JtP is a convicted pervert?" Really, this is basic stuff.

3) Licensing is an unjust barrier to entry, an unconscionable restriction of the economic freedom that has been a dead letter since FDR's "switch in time that saved nine" ended the Lochner era. For professions that have significant safety implications--e.g., electrician and even plumber--there should be fair/simple/transparent competancy test. The continued existence of guilds three centuries after Adam Smith is a black mark on the human race. No fair getting all indignant about the plight of Black hair braiders and then coming down hard on JtP. The man provides a service that people want and is helping keep down prices. "Hero" is what we call such men in my world.

4) #4 is based on a false premise. I am aware of all internet traditions, so I know how this one works. The point is not whether Joe himself is affected by this or that part of the tax code. It's "is this right for America?" That's what he was trying to ask Obama. The media was too busy administering big wet kisses to Barry-O to ever ask pointed questions. Whenever someone dared to think a non-fawning thought about Obama, they were decried as racist and compared with Klansman of yore.

5) "Illegal business owners." A dude who fixes pipes, in America, is illegal? Someone call the language police, I think we have a homicide on our hands.

6) JtP may be wrong on some of the details. I actually think that your position on tax incidence is important and more right than wrong. But your positions on the occupational licensure and "illegal business owners" are deferential to the worst state abuses. By logic, you have no right to call yourself a libertarian.

Worst of all, you have nothing to say about the illegal release of JtP's personal information by agents of the state. This action is predatory, vicious, and serves as a message to others. If you were upset with what happened to Valerie Plame Wilson, you should be angry about this, too.

Anonymous said...

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