Saturday, December 25, 2010

For Christmas: Pretty Maids All In A Row

Well, it's Christmas, and I'm going to post something that has nothing to do with Christmas. Not because I'm anti-holiday or anything, I'm just maxed out on the Hallmark-ization of it all. So, I'm posting something totally not serious. It's my list of the hottest women.

Okay, we all hate these type of articles in Maxim. Then we all read them. Go figure.

There are more than ten – I refuse to be bottled up by some asinine round-number top-ten kind of limitation. The qualifications for this list were as follows: 1.) Each woman is a celebrity, defined as being someone who you would at least remotely have heard of. 2.) Each woman, in her prime (loosely defined as 20-to-30 something), was/is one who is physically the most attractive to me. And yes, that means brains played an important role. Certain women I’ve met would, could, and do privately make the list, such as my girlfriend, obviously, but you people out there don’t know who my girlfriend is, anyway. (And I’m keeping it that way. She’s mine, you vultures!) Besides, this is pretty much a celebrity-only thing.

1. Christina Hendricks Known better as Saffron on Joss Whedon’s short-lived series, Firefly, and also as Joan Holloway on the AMC series Mad Men, this babe is unbelievable! Perfect, perfect, perfect!

2. Audrey Hepburn Sorry, but perfection is perfection. A beauty both inside and out, she made her fortune being irresistible, then poured her energies into helping those less fortunate. I wouldn’t Wait Until Dark to take this Fair Lady out for a Roman Holiday.

3. Lala Ward She’s Romana from the Dr. Who series during the Tom Bakker era, and she’s amazing! Currently, she’s married to a hero of mine, Richard Dawkins. Lucky guy!

4. Nina Hartley My favorite porn-queen! Brains and beauty! Best ass ever, and her mind is every bit as amazing as her body. I’d do her today in a heartbeat, but she easily makes the list in my Wayback machine.

5. Kirsten Dunst She once played a child vampire, then grew up to become a killer in other ways. Oh, that Irish face!

6. Susan Sarandon And the prize for best ass outside of porn goes to… Yes, her! Is there any doubt? Admit it, you still want her, too!

7. Jennifer Connelly Need I say more?

8. Erin McKean I’ll bet you’ve never heard of her. She’s a lexicographer – someone whose job it is to catalog words in language. She emerged on the public scene at the TED conference in 2008, and I just fell in love with her. She’s so damned cute!

9. Pat Benatar File this one under ‘D’ for “Duh!”

10. Miwa Yoshida She is only the second pop singer to make the list. It’s difficult to impress me with a diva. But Japanese rock-band Dreams Come True is one of the biggest hits of Nippon, largely due to the talents of this young lady. Although barely known in the States, she has an infectiousness which cannot be denied, and a voice that sounds like Ella Fitzgerald!

11. Nicole De Boer She’s Ezri Dax from Deep Space Nine, and the girl who should never have gotten killed in the movie Cube.

12. Anneke Rudegeair Better known as Soccergirl, of the podcast, Soccergirl, Inc. She’s my favorite skeptic-chick. Smart, fun, and a totally uninhibited sexual exhibitionist, she’s exactly my type! She’d score way, way higher on this list except 1.) she’s married, and 2.) she dumped one of my favorite musicians.

13. Rebecca Watson Also an awesome skeptic-chic, and equally hot, though not the proud sex queen that Soggergirl is. She continues to podcast for the Skeptics Guide to the Universe, even though she lives with her (sigh!) husband in England.

14. Kavi Ladnier What, never heard of her? Oh, yes you have! She played Mira, the luckless girlfriend of Mohinder Suresh in the TV hit, Heroes.

15. Scarlett Johansen She is way, way hotter as a brunette! What a lumbar curve on her!

Wayside entries (women who used to be on this list but got bumped):

Natalie Portman – Star Wars I killed the magic.

Sandra Bullock – She’s Miss Congeneality.

Jill Hennessy – I miss her days on Law & Order.

Jeri Ryan – Seven of Nine just doesn’t do it for me at Boston Public.

Halle Berry – She once took me by Storm, but she’s no Bond-woman.

Angelina Jolie – I’m just burned out on all the hype.

Jennifer Lopez – Her nice ass got her on the list. Her ‘bitchy’ got her kicked off.

Kristin Davis – Tied with Cynthia Nixon. In fact, most of the side-women and all the leads from the cast of Sex In The City are women I’d love to be with, but the movies are just plain wrecking the chemistry.

Gillian Anderson – Love Scully. But damn that punk-ass Mulder!

Callista Flockhart – She got taken off the market by Harrison Ford, so she dropped off the chart.

Rachel Weisz - That incident with the Scorpion King was too much.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

So, it appears that the policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, will be repealed from the military. I have only a couple of brief thoughts about that:

First, let me say something that should be obvious: If someone's wearing the uniform of the United States military, and is thereby willing to potentially die to defend America, freedom, and democracy, then that person has EARNED the right to have consensual sex with whomever he or she wishes! This should be blindingly clear, especially to military veterans! Hell, soldiers could fuck a sheep for all I care, if they so wish, and I would endorse the idea if I weren't convinced that animals can't give consent any more than teenagers can. (To hell with P.E.T.A.)

Second, this now makes it official that Obama has now succeeded everywhere, and in every field, that Clinton failed in. Not perfectly, but he has. This, in spite of having more irrational hatred and intolerant non-cooperation than any other president in history. So to all who walk the razor's edge of racism in opposing him, all I can say is, ya done failed! And you'll go on failing, so long as what drives you is fear and hatred.

This nation may just yet turn out to be the Land of the Free.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Frank Talk About Taxes

Let's be blunt about taxes, and the arguments about taxation in politics today.

The argument in favor of cutting taxes when we have a huge budget deficit may seem absurd, but there is a certain logic behind it. The general idea is that lower taxes result in greater economic growth and job creation, which in turn leads to more tax revenue coming into the government, not less. It's akin to the strategy of a store lowering prices in order to generate more revenue in sales. It may seem suicidal to lower prices at first, but the increased sales more than makes up for the loss afterward. In the case of government, lower taxes result in more growth, more jobs, and that translates to greater tax revenues in a healthier economy.

But there needs to be a delicate balance, here. After all, if a store cuts prices too low, it cannot make a profit off sales, no matter how great the sales volume, because the cost of goods and of overhead becomes greater than the amount made upon resale. The store must sell more than it buys for in order to survive. Thus, a store wants to keep prices low, but not too low, in order to maximize profit.

In like manner, a government wants to set its tax rate at an optimal level. It wants to keep tax rates for the working classes low, and high only upon those individuals who are so wealthy that they no longer contribute to job creation. But if it sets this rate too low, particularly on the very wealthiest, it runs the risk of not being able to sustain entitlements (that is, tax-spending that politicians can't cut).

It's an optimization problem: At what tax rate does a government maximize its own revenues?

Now, if by now, you're expecting me to argue that the upper 2% should get smacked down to pre-Bush II era levels, you would be wrong. Surprised? You shouldn't be. The upper 2% basically comprises people who make more than $250,000 per year. There are a large number of small and medium-sized businesses which are sole proprietorships making between $250,000 and $500,000 per year, and which employ anywhere between 30 and 1000 people at a crack, or more. Small firms, law practices, start-ups, top-notch surgeons and contracting companies live here. These are more or less in the lower-half of the upper 2%: the ones who make more than 98% of the people out there, but not more than those who make more than 99% of the people.

In that uppermost 1% lie an entirely different category of wealthy people. Very few small or medium business owners reside here, and if they do own a business, it's a mega-business. Maybe an executive boardmember of a multi-national, but more likely someone who makes the majority of his money via capital gains. In short, someone who, if given a tax cut, will pocket it rather than make new jobs. Here, you might find aquisition sharks, trust-fund babies, CEO's of credit card companies, and so forth. You also find people who are what I refer to as "special salaries," such as actors, major-league sports athletes, authors, certain artists, film and television producers/directors, and others who normally don't make shit, except for a very elite few who are lucky enough to be famous doing it.

Bottom line is this: If one keeps the taxes low on the lower half of the upper 2%, one does create economic growth. Republicans actually have a legitimate gripe, here! But guess how many jobs are created by cutting the taxes for the top 1% of income earners?

The answer is, damned near none!

A much more acceptable compromise for our Trophy President would have been to have agreed to making the Bush tax cuts permanent for 99% rather than 98% of all Americans, but holding the line on taxes for those rich enough to rest on their laurels and/or who create no jobs. I would very much have liked to see that. Unfortunately, we have a tax compromise that does not do this, but at least does not hammer the upper-tier of the small businessman. It's a tough compromise, but liberal activists who are urging me to contact my congressmen and senators to urge them to vote against this deal will get no response from me. The lesser of two evils is to let this compromise stand!

This will be a key issue in 2012, and if Obama wins, this compromise, for all the bitching liberals do about it, will be why. But I suggest the Dems change their focus. Instead of saying no to the richest 2%, how about saying no to the richest 1% instead? Maybe even the richest 0.5%?

Nah, that would make too much sense!


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Better Leaders, Or Better Aides?

We've had some interesting leaders here in the U.S. recently. And throughout history, some interesting leaders outside of the U.S. have come and gone. Sometimes, we get a brilliant leader who is surrounded by idiots and other times we get a complete idiot surrounded by brilliant aides. I wonder, which is better?

Certainly, it seems that an idiot in the White House can do well with highly competent aides surrounding him. On the other hand, a highly intelligent President really can't do much when surrounded by morons. President Obama, perhaps the brightest president we've had since Eisenhower, is proving that. On the other hand, Bush II showed that one can be a highly effective moron when surrounded by intelligent people. By implication, electing another brilliant person after 2016, such as Hillary Clinton, might not be such a good idea. Or, flip side, voting for Sarah Palin in 2012 might not be such a distaster.

Or would it?

On second thought, nah. Bush was effective, but effective at rising up ten trillion of the 14 trillion in debt we're currently saddled with. Threw out the Constitution with Guantanomo Bay. Started two wars, botched them, then stayed firmly committed to his mistake. By contrast, Obama has, in spite of everything, accomplished everything Clinton failed to do in his first two years, albeit imperfectly. Churchill was a brilliant man who saved Britain while surrounded by dunderheads, while simultaneously Hitler, while surrounded by near geniuses, drove Germany into the ground with silly wartime tactics.

No, I'll stick with voting for brilliant presidents. Presidents who are, oddly, attacked as "elitist" for their brilliance (as if we wanted any other kind of leader).


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Obama Didn't Cave

Normally, I write my blogs hoping to persuade someone on the opposite side of my views to reconsider things for a bit. Odd, I know, since the very definition of conservative seems to entail rejection of any sort of newfangled idea. Still, I'm not anti-conservative myself, nor am I liberal. I'm an independent who happens to be left of center on certain issues. I want a liberal democracy in a free-market economy (to borrow Michael Shermer's phrase). I want to replace all welfare with work-fare. I want to legalize all activity which harms no one, and I want healthcare given the same essential-of-government status as military protection.

So when I hear that Obama has caved, I feel the need to depart from my usual format and blast the left.

No, Obama didn't cave on anything. He gave the GOP a small victory now in exchange for an even bigger victory for Democrats in 2012. It deeply troubles me that politicians are willing to play chicken with the solvency of the U.S. dollar in this way, but this was what was needed to avoid blowing the entire lame-duck session on trench warfare. No, the REAL cave-in, the real back-down, came from the hoards of Democrats who tucked tail and gave every concession imaginable to a super-minority over the last two years just because they whispered, "Filibuster!" Had the Democrats stood up for themselves on just one, damned issue, if they had triple-dog dared the Republicans to filibuster on having medicare compete with insurance companies instead of crowning Joe Liebermann "Emperor for a Day," if they had taken on a filibuster and broken it, our Trophy President wouldn't have felt any compromise necessary, nor would the GOP feel so mighty -- like the mouse whose gigantic shadow scared the cat. It would have been Republicans doing the compromising. Which is the way it should have been with a super-majority in the first place.

I propose we change political-party symbols. Let's take away the symbol of the stubborn Jack-Ass mule and give it to the Republicans. They've earned it. The new symbol for the Democrats will be the jellyfish. It fits. President Obama's new symbol is the elephant -- not just because he's more Republican than the Republicans are, but because nobody in that party acknowledges he's ever in the room.

Yet it seems a few Democrats are threatening filibuster now. Wonderful! I'm touched that a few of them suddenly put themselves on a high-calcium diet and began growing the backbone they so lacked. But why are they now obtaining vertebrae to oppose their own president? Why are they proving a bigger opponent to Obama than even the GOP? And where THE HELL were these bastards hiding over the last two years when we needed them most?

So quit blaming Obama, my wonderful, fellow left-leaning politicos. Our President was only doing what he had to, given that he has an army of you stumblebums to work with. This was your failure, not his.


Monday, December 6, 2010

There Goes The Deficit - AGAIN

So, our beloved Trophy President has announced a deal. Republicans get their politically stupid tax break for the wealthy for two years, while democrats get an extension for unemployment benefits at Christmas.

In the midst of the greatest national debt crisis of all time, the wealthy have bought themselves a free pass to be draft-dodgers. And I sincerely mean draft-dodgers, because in time of greatest national need, they abandoned their country -- and campaigned tooth-and-toenail to do it! These, who have bitched and moaned about liberals who dodged the draft over a war which didn't matter have now dodged the ultimate draft -- and it could cost everyone, worldwide.

How dire is the financial jeopardy that the rich have put us in? Let me outline it: We're $14 trillion in debt. If our debt crosses $17 trillion, our interest payments will engulf ALL remaining discretionary spending. You see, only little more than 30% of all government spending is cuttable. The rest are locked up in what are known as "entitlements." Social Security, Medicare, and others. Of that mere 30% left over, half of that is locked into the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That's not going to be cut anytime soon. Think any of the remaining 15% is going to be cut soon with a newer, more Republican congress? Guess again.

In other words, now that we're only $3 trillion away from losing the dollar, we've decided to cut taxes and increase spending -- EXACTLY the shit that got us into this mess in the first place! Apparently, hyper-inflating the deficit is the only thing politicians are any good at.

It's official: Republicans don't dive a damn about the deficit.

If we were at all smart about our finances, we would have compromised the other way around: cutting spending while increasing tax revenues. But that would mean cuts to unemployment benefits at Christmas, and our Trophy President is too smart for that.

So he did what he's always done - play the best card out of a bad hand. More than any president before him, he's been given a series of impossible situations to work with -- and I'm not just talking the economy, two wars, and a near lynch-mob with the Tea Party. He's been given a congress that is stocked with inflexibly polarized Republicans and absolutely spineless Democrats. And with this piss-poor adobe brick, we somehow expect him to build a cathedral!

Yet a glimmer of hope remains. As has been pointed out before, standing inflexibly strong in favor of tax breaks for the rich is one of the dumbest moves possible for any politician. Hell, one might as well stand in defense of pedophiles and the KKK, for all the political good it does. What this compromise deal has done is make this the central issue in 2012. Our president has said, "Okay, you want tax breaks for the rich? Go campaign on it!"

If Republicans are so silly as to fall for this deal, and put the dollar, and by extension all of us, in jeopardy, then they'll be putting their heads right into the guillotine. I haven't always been spot-on with my predictions, but you just watch this one.