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Monday, October 22, 2012

Ponder this one for a bit.

Then get very, very angry.

It is bewildering that no U.S. aircraft ever came to the aid of the defenders. If even one F18 had been on station, it would have detected the location of hostiles firing at night and deterred and attacked the mortar sites. For our top leadership, with all the technological and military tools at their disposal, to have done nothing for seven hours was a joint civilian and military failure of initiative and nerve.

Secretary of State Clinton has said the responsibility was hers. But there has been no assertion that the State Department overruled the Pentagon out of concern about the sovereignty of Libyan air space. Instead, it appears passive groupthink prevailed, with the assumption being that a spontaneous mob would quickly run out of steam.

Firefights, however, wax and wane from dusk to dawn. You cannot predict ahead of time when they will stop. Therefore a combat commander will take immediate action, presuming reinforcements will be needed.

The administration wrongly blamed a mob for the attack. Yet ironically, Mr. Obama’s chances of reelection would have plummeted were it not for the human decency of a mob that took the ambassador to the hospital before the terrorists returned.

If the terrorists had taken his body and, with no Special Operations Forces hot on their trail, taunted America the next day — claiming the ambassador was still alive — the Benghazi tragedy would have escalated into an international disaster. The U.S. military sent no aid. Why?

Monday, October 15, 2012

I am converting to Islam.



I am building a giant cybernetic war badger in my basement.

I love the music of Marty Haugen.

I am receiving locutions from Krishna.

I think Obama is the only permissible electoral choice for Catholics in 2012.

I don't think women should ever wear pants or breastfeed in public.

OK--they can do the latter if they're wearing only pants.

Janeway is way better than Kirk and Picard combined.

The Dallas Cowboys are going to win the next three Super Bowls.

Or the Washington Redskins--whichever you hate more.

Yes, that outfit makes your ass look fat.

The best Stooge was Shemp.

Only Anglican orders are valid.

--I mean, seriously--is this thing on? Traffic is allegedly going up, but I'm feeling like a performance artist here.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Romney for President. Sigh.

Or: Lowering Your Expectations Makes American Politics Almost Bearable!

I've made no secret about my disregard for one Willard Mitt Romney, former Governor of the Democratic People's Republic of Massachusetts. He wasn't even my fifth choice in this cycle, and his record is in many respects indistinguishable from that of the President.

Including on the central issue of religious freedom. Yeah, Mitt's a bit of a giant liar on his record in Massachusetts.

But/However/Nonetheless Alert: He has promised in no uncertain terms to shred the HHS Mandate. Ditto his Catholic wingman, who made a big deal of it during the Veep debate.

Why do I believe Romney? Because it takes no political courage to shred it--it costs him nothing with any other constituency that's supporting him to do so. But it will needlessly alienate social conservatives if he doesn't. Being that Mitt's not remotely stupid, he'll do what he says on this one.

In other words, Bonchamps is right, and after much grim wrangling with the issue, that's enough for me. I want someone who will take the boot off the Church's throat, and hand it back to the Left. With the foot still in it.

"Here you go. Don't do that again, champ."

If the only guy who will do it is Romney, then that's the sway-backed, spavined rhino I have to back.

Oh, and there is a second reason: we'll have a free press of sorts again. For the worst, most self-serving and wholly cynical of reasons, but a free press. Of sorts. But that beats the hell out of the palace guard/fanzine media we have now.

Friday, October 12, 2012

"Lady, I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave the store."

From one of the greatest films of all time:

Moderation!

Video reveals Tunisia's ruling "moderate" Islamist party colluding with the Salafis.

Something to think about in light of our embassy in Tunis being stormed by Salafis a month ago.




Renewal or rupture?

Or, "Hey, a Catholic post!"

After we moved from our two-bedroom fridge box to the Burrow in 2010, we started attending the nearest parish. Eventually we registered at the new place in 2011, and have been happy parishoners since. One of our concerns early on was that the inner ring suburbs had taken it in the shorts during the last round of parish closings/consolidations, and we were afraid of that happening again. Father assured us that it wasn't likely to happen again, and offered as evidence the fact that the parish was getting a new altar. This year, it most certainly did.

Now, there are two critical facts to keep in mind (I know you really want to skip down to view the pictures, but bear with me): (1) the parish church was built in 1956, and cost was apparently no object. The stained glass was imported from Munich, or was commissioned from talented local artisan, Mary Giovann (I prefer her figural work, but she had the knack). Before he blew up at me and deemed me a nonperson, Jeffrey Smith indicated that he thought the BVM and SH mosaics (below) were from the craftsmen who were usually commissioned by the Vatican. Longer term parishoners have narrowed it down to either Italy or Poland. So, yeah. Note also the baldachin, which wasn't exactly a standard issue requirement back then. The parish was making a statement in 1956.

(2) Unfortunately, another statement was made in the (early?) 1970s, with a misguided renovation.  The decision was made to put in a wooden table and wooden ambo in the transept, on a raised platform. The said platform was covered with gold plush carpet. No, I don't know what they were thinking, either. Smoky basement scenes from "That 70s Show" leap to mind, but otherwise, it's inexplicable. In all fairness, however, I can't be mad at them, because it wasn't one of those wholesale "Lash Out At Tradition In An Iconoclastic Frenzy" hatchet jobs that have become justly infamous.

Here, as with the King's Men on Numenor, the renovators retained a certain holy fear, and they quailed from defiling Meneltarma--i.e., assaulting the high altar, baldachin, mosaics, statuary, altar rails and so forth.  Minimal hammering, thanks be to God.




The old renovated altar, after removal for installation of the new (sans the dread carpet--gah!) 
The question that should always be foremost with respect to Catholic art and architecture: 
"Is the best we can do?"

Behold the new (and restored, and original):

The new altar, on the new marble platform--complete with fascinated toddler. All of the stone was obtained from the same quarry as 1956.



The old ambo, which had been in storage until the KofC broke it out for a 
state officer installation ceremony--and everyone insisted it stay out.




The BVM altar mosaic. 
Suitably Byzantine for my tastes.



I know, you can read--but for the record, the Sacred Heart altar mosaic. 
The picture doesn't do the gold justice.




The high altar, tabernacle and baldachin.  


A close-up of the tabernacle on the high altar.


The same, from the right.






Four of the altar relics, which were re-placed in the new altar by Bishop Byrnes. I'm sure you can figure out which Saints are which. We also have a piece of the True Cross, but that was NOT displayed for public view for obvious reasons. And permit me to detonate the tired argument that you could build a ship with all the relics of the True Cross bouncing about in Catholic churches: 



So, in response to all of this resplendent Catholic glory, Hilary said: "So, the altar in the nave and the Mass being said outside the sanctuary doesn't bother you?"

After chewing on it for a few weeks, I have to admit she has a point. Not that it's a bad renovation--far from it. It's about the best I've seen. I think it's beautiful, and the kids find something new to examine every time we're there.

Bottom line: it is still a change, isn't it? One that kinda-sorta ratifies the initial rupture-redo. The best rejoinder I've come up with is that had the original renovation been done this way, it would have shown more continuity--a change, yes, but one with a distinct effort to connect to the past, and which does not express embarrassment for the past, and doesn't convey "Eh--it'll do." And better late than never. 

That's good, but it isn't quite dispositive. I guess I keep coming back to my wife's friend, who never made the connection between the Mass and the Sacrifice of the Cross until she saw The Passion of the Christ. And then there's the constant need to tack against the winds of discontinuity.

Rome, we have a problem.

So, yeah, a lot to ponder. 

The Michigan Mutaween.

Give me a second to check the First Amendment....

...still checking...

...almost...done...

Nope. No exceptions for the hypersensitivities of the perpetually aggrieved.

Dearborn's slow-learner Virtue Police need another lesson-by-lawsuit, it seems.


Friday, October 05, 2012

Neat baseball story.

Washington Nationals fan Bertram R. Abramson recalls--in detail--the last Washington baseball title.

In 1924.

And he has good news for fellow Nationals faithful:

“I expect good things out of this team,” says Abramson, who watches almost every game at home. “Washington has never had a team like this.”

Not even in 1924, when the roster was loaded with future Hall of Famers and won it all? “Not even in ‘24,” the semi-retired accountant says.


Thursday, October 04, 2012

Be honest with yourself.


And, on the odd chance it matters, yes I came up with it.

Cheer up, Democrats!

Sure, by all accounts, the President was less-than in the debate last night.

But the good news is that you have Joe Biden warming up in the bullpen.





A truly historic, unexpected performance last night.

Congratulations to Triple Crown-winning Detroit Tiger Miguel Cabrera!

Best quote:

Eric Adelson, yahoo.com: "Miguel Cabrera became a baseball legend this year because of how magnificently he swung a bat. But one of the most heroic things he did all year came Wednesday night when he simply picked one up. Cabrera became the first major leaguer in 45 years to win baseball's hallowed Triple Crown, leading the sport in home runs (44), runs batted in (139) and batting average (.330). That feat will go down in history. But those of us alive to see this achievement will remember how he could have sat out the final game and won the Crown. He chose not to. He chose to play."

That trade keeps looking better and better.

Also, a big tip of the fedora to the classy fans of Kansas City, who gave Cabrera not one but two standing ovations. Great fans in a great baseball town.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Mourning the Middlebrow.

I recall "The King's Speech" being derided in a review as "middlebrow mush." The term figured prominently in discussions of the film.

My thought: "What's wrong with middlebrow?"

Truth be told, that's probably the most apt term to describe my cafeteria-style cultural tastes. I aspire to highbrow in nothing (all together now: "We could tell!"), but have a hobbyist's interest in a wide swath of topics.

It boils down to a belief that exposure to art, religion/thought, culture and history on a broad scale--enough to have a conversational knowledge, or to acquire the same with reasonable diligence--is critical to being a fully-rounded man or woman.

If I could sum it up using a pop-cultural reference that's probably fading from view: not a Cliff's Notes version of the world, but rather the Time-Life Books level. And, yes, I have bushels of Time-Life books--just ask the long-suffering Much Better Half.

Or, if you're feeling particularly ambitious, The Story of Civilization level. Yes, I have that one, too.

Such works used to be staples, but now they have vanished from the scene, along with the middlebrow mindset that sensed such things were important. Stumbling about recently, I'm at least slightly reassured to see that I'm not the only one to mourn its loss. From the latter, a particularly telling quote about the present predicament:

One reason why culture has become so polarized is that the Internet rewards those who connect to it with more or less exactly what they want. For those who want to find the remnants of middlebrow culture, there are writers like Teachout and James Lileks. For those who wish to find angry bitter screeds, there’s no shortage of them on both sides of the aisle. Pop culture? Porn? Unlimited quantities of both.

Technology is one element in that divergence, and I’m very happy to be connected to an Internet with unlimited options. (And happy that it’s allowing you to read this as well.) But long before there was an Internet, the institutions that gave us the middlebrow culture of the 1950s and ’60s ceded their responsibility for the care and feeding of their audiences’ minds. In her latest blog post on another facet of our fractured culture, Dr. Melissa Clouthier writes, “America has become The View.” But doesn’t ABC share some of the blame for putting such a trainwreck of a show on the air in the first place?


Fair enough, but more than a little blame goes to the individual staring back from the mirror: if it was deemed important enough by the consumer, the institutions would have continued to churn it out. But we didn't want it, so they didn't.




We don't live in a morally sane world.

Because in a morally-sane world, Eric Hobsbawm would have been every inch the pariah David Irving is.

The eliminationist sentiment that mars the Left was perfectly embodied in this unassuming little man, who was feted and esteemed as a grand old man of letters until the day he died. Because apologizing for the murders of tens of millions does not disqualify you from polite society when it's the Communists who were doing the murdering:

Although increasingly on the defensive, and quite willing to say that the great Communist experiment had not only failed but had been doomed from the start, Mr. Hobsbawm refused to recant or, many critics complained, to face up to the human misery it had created. “Historical understanding is what I’m after, not agreement, approval, or sympathy,” he wrote in his memoir.

In 1994, he shocked viewers when, in an interview with Michael Ignatieff on the BBC, he said that the deaths of millions of Soviet citizens under Stalin would have been worth it if a genuine Communist society had been the result.

Far from getting you booted from polite society, it appears that the ability to spew Marxist apologetics is a tenure requirement. Can't make an omelete, etc.

Hat-tip to Mark Sullivan for the first link.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Gotta love used bookstore discounts.

Finding this in like new condition at 90% off was...nice.





If the ball gag fits...

Never heard of Peter Roff before, but I'm going to start paying attention now: this is a pitch-perfect satire of the inevitable post-debate media coverage.

Best line, which nukes Chris Matthews and his "news" network?

President Obama's performance was so good, my whole body was tingling," said Matt Christopher, the noted commentator for the SMBND cable news network.

As George Takei puts it: "Oh, myyyyy."

[Hat-tip to Don McClarey for the find.]

Happy Birthday, Tommy!

Born--in a hurry--a year ago today, at 7:31am.

Our only child to require a sprint to the hospital after water breaking.

I still think it was because Heather was jonesing for a new mattress and box springs. Mission accomplished!




Monday, October 01, 2012

Holy crap.

First bacon, now a threat to the global supply of disposable diapers.



A completely impartial TV program review.


 Revolution: The Cast

For the moment, I'm going to completely bracket the fact that NBC's Revolution is a blatant, soulless rip-off of my friend Steve Stirling's Emberverse series. Instead, I'm going to give it an objective analysis, focusing on the strengths and flaws of the series, as based upon my viewing of the first two episodes.

1. It's a blatant, soulless rip-off of the Emberverse series.

OK, I tried. But there's no getting around this fact, and this fact ripples throughout the plot. The fact that it is a thinly-disguised ripoff ("How about we let guns work? That'll keep him from suing, right?") with hot-rod flames here and there and a new monkey-fur dashboard warps the storytelling, rendering it a mess that doesn't work on its own terms.


Remember the Porsche "makeover" in Bachelor Party
 Revolution is exactly like that.

2. Is there anything good about it? Sure--the cast is solid and workmanlike, with Billy Burke a credible heroic lead. Which is critical given his role in the story.

Giancarlo Esposito (a perpetual favorite of mine since the too-soon gone Bakersfield PD) is his usual excellent self in a supporting role as a lieutenant of the Bad Guy. No one stands out in a bad way, but they're all pretty well flat, save for Esposito who manages to wring hints of complexity out of the script. I'm willing to excuse initial 2D characterisations, though--it takes time to flesh out characters. In addition, the sets and camera work are decent and intriguing. The swordfights are ridiculous, but fun in a lightsaber-duel way.

3. And the bad?

Let me channel my father for a moment and borrow one of his favorite exclamations used when faced with needless irritations: "Oh, my achin' ass."

Oh, my achin' ass: the writing is a such a paint-by-numbers, hackneyed disappointment. And I think that stems from the fact it is a badly-disguised ripoff.

The world isn't believable on its own terms. Look, the creator, Eric Kripke, is known for supernatural horror (e.g., WB's competent Supernatural), not sci-fi. But here he had to adapt someone else's well-thought-out sci-fi world building, and do so in such a way that the lawyers could say "Someone Else is probably not going to win a lawsuit." Which meant the only thing to come to a screeching halt was electricity. Which, yes, is a civilization ender.

Alas, he had to sneak in an X-Files-ish IT WAS CAUSED BY A CONSPIRACY! as part of the obligatory Slow Reveal, but hey--that seems to be the echo chamber at work. As I mentioned before, the Slow Reveal is perfectly legit--indeed, it's an essential part of long-form storytelling. But the Adapt/modcop has left a giant plot hole which makes what I've seen so far largely idiotic, at least as far as coherent storytelling goes.

Oh, my achin' ass, Kripke: THE GUNS.

The firearms--she a'work!

There are roughly 270 million firearms in civilian hands in the United States. That's roughly 89 guns for every one hundred people.

You don't have to be a math whiz to know that that's a lot of guns. Leaving aside government arsenals (i.e., your local National Guard armory).

Which means there are going to be a lot of guns floating around, and even more entering circulation, after the lights go out.

Which leads me to the problem of Our Bad Guy, General Sebastian Monroe, head of the "Monroe Republic." Now, warlordism would be the natural result of a systemic collapse of civilization, so no problem. But...just how did Our Bad Guy (and by implication all the other warlords) successfully confiscate the firearms? Mechanization is dead (steam power should still work--but, oopsie--PLOT HOLE!) in the series, and there's no air cover, no tanks, no AFVs (at least none that need electricity to operate). Without extra firepower, your local confiscatory warlord doesn't have the force multipliers to pull this off on a regional basis.

"I'm here in the name of the Monroe Republic to take your guns! Hand 'em over or -- [fusillade of gunfire, followed by thud of falling Republican Guards.]" Then there's the slight matter of the sudden availability of military-grade hardware which still works--machine guns, grenades, mortars, claymore mines, missiles--and lots of survivors who know how to use them, and are willing to train others to use them.

I dunno--maybe the folks of Illinois are remarkably sheep-like and happy to assume the position? Hmmm.

No, in most places, it wouldn't work like that, or at least not for long. Our Bad Guy's Army would bleed out fast, and he'd be reduced to a small power base in short order. And even if you managed to take most of them away, there's sufficient gunsmithing and machine tool knowledge out there to ensure you're still going to be facing repeating rifles. Then there's the matter of the other warlords sneaking in weapons to keep your Army tied down, distracted and whatnot.

Speaking of which--Our Bad Guy's Army spends an inordinate amount of time in the field in their Civil War style white tents, which is a hell of a good way to weaken yourself in the medium term. Basically, the disaffected are going to be making your life hell in the parts of the realm where the Army is not, and your loyalists aren't going to be able to work as hard for you in civilian life. Also, remember your rivals arming your disaffected. Hell, your inner court just might pull a Byzantium and lock the capital city gates behind you after you leave.

So, no. Unconvincing on its own terms, which is...a slight problem.

Other storytelling problems:

Steam power--it still works. Trains, improvised road vehicles and tractors? None to be seen. Oh, my achin' ass.

Our protagonist family waits a week before leaving Chi-town. Which means that, barring a series of thus-far unrevealed miracles, they should be dead. Especially when all they are bringing with them is two kids' wagons not-very-full of foodstuffs.

You probably wouldn't organize your new feudal villages around McMansion subdivisions, what with all the soil being paved over.

There's the cliched Mom-is-stronger-than-Dad-and-does-what-he-should flashback moment that made me yawn.

Contra the story, the cities--especially metropoli like Chicago--are going to probably be empty for a long time. And in much, much worse shape. They are simply too far from the food, and too tempting as targets to salvage/looter forces from the rural areas.

The script could have wrung a lot more heartrending pathos from the collapse. One nerdy-thug-robber in a dirty suit...underplays that.

Our Bad Guy doesn't run Chicago, but he gets a uniformed military goon squad through the gates, no questions asked to attack Our Male Hero. Um...I'm thinking...probably...not.

 People aren't going to look that nice 15 years after civilization collapses, both clothing and health-wise. And the younger generation is going to think differently, especially those with fainter pre-collapse memories. The survivors are going to be more eccentric, too.

This brings up another storytelling problem: it doesn't "think" from the perspective of survivors who have seen everything die, and have struggled to rebuild some semblance of a life. Rather, we see modern people who think pretty much the same way as us pre-crisis, but now they have to herd sheep and pay taxes in crops.

And only one reference to religion? I'm left with the distinct impression of the Apocalypse According to Aaron Sorkin--and no, that's not a good thing.

Overall, I can see why people would watch it, but only if you don't think too hard about it.

Which is a *lot* like an Aaron Sorkin show in that respect.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Is it possible for an entire culture to suffer from Asperger's?

Symptomology:


This whiny violent bully crap is getting old. Then again, Buddhists are probably the masters of Islamophobia, so I guess they deserved it.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Watching the wheels come off.

I often wonder if the ordinary folks who lived through building crises ever sensed the sweep of events--the sheer scope of what was happening--as it happened. Or did they just process it in a way to fit it into a framework of "it was ever thus", because facing the awfulness of it was too much?

Three signposts for our times:

1. Activists investigating factory farms are terrorists as far as the FBI is concerned. The "Thou Shalt Not Annoy Agribusiness" commandment in action.

That's the same provision that keeps subsidizing ethanol production during a crippling drought, also helping to send your food costs through the roof. USDA approved!

2. Islamist vandal arrested for breach of the peace rewarded with ad policy change prohibiting political speech which threatens a breach of the peace.

Orwell wept.

[Wait...we seem to have questions for the blog readership from a self-identified Salafi reader, a Mr. "Abu Hamza":

"While suppressing Jew propaganda is fine, why is this whore Eltahawy not wearing a headscarf? And where is her male relative escort?"

Those are toughies. Anyone?]

3. An Inconvenient Filmmaker arrested on unspecified "probation violation" by the Justice Department.

As in the Federal government. Anyone got any other examples of flying squads of feds arresting people for misuse of a computer while on probation?

So, we can see it happening. Now what?

"2X2L calling CQ . . . 2X2L calling CQ . . . 2X2L calling CQ . . . New York..."

"Isn't there anyone on the air? Isn't there anyone on the air? Isn't there anyone . . . 2X2L -- "

So. How have you all been?

--he asks, ascertaining whether or not he's the blog equivalent of a guy with a shopping cart who bickers with lampposts.

Forget it, Sun--it's a China town.

A lot of people worry that our future will be dominated by China.

I'm not one of them.

No one really knows the internal state of China's finances--save the Politburo. But there are signs, like this one, that internal indebtedness, bad loans and overall corruption exist on a level that would threaten to make Jon Corzine blush.

After Corzine has a soul transplant, that is.

Remember the Sovfilter I mentioned below? It's also helpful for analyzing official statistics from Beijing.

Interesting times.

Exception to the rule.

A worthwhile, non-flamethrowing examination of the current economic malaise. The last line says it all.

[T]he slow recovery that we are experiencing from the recession that ended in July 2009 is an exception to the historical pattern. This can largely be attributed to the unprecedented housing bust, a proximate measure of which is the collapse of residential investment, which still is far below its historic pattern during recoveries. Another problem may be uncertainty over changes in fiscal and regulatory policy, or over structural change in the economy.

The legacy of the unprecedented housing bust calls into question whether in the future, expansionary monetary policy could make recoveries more consistent with the depth of recessions. Expansionary monetary policy in the past three years seems to have had only limited traction in stimulating the economy and speeding housing recovery. To catalyze full recovery in housing, we may need policies other than looser monetary policy.


But facts have never stopped the solons at the Fed, whose motto seems to be Print, Baby, Print! With all that entails for your ability to buy food and gasoline.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sarah Palin was such an idiot about the death panels non-troversy.

"WE need death panels."

Medicare needs to take a cue from Willie Sutton, who reportedly said he robbed banks because that’s where the money was. The big money in Medicare is not to be found in Mr. Ryan’s competition or Mr. Obama’s innovation, but in reducing the cost of treating people in the last year of life, which consumes more than a quarter of the program’s budget.

Of course, it'll just stop right there. With people in the last year of life. And no one else. Ever.

There aren't any other possible cost-cutting, "futile-care" options to be considered elsewhere in an age of austerity.

Buckle up.

What. A. Shock.

Quantitative easing--the process by which the Fed has attempted to boost the economy by printing money to buy securities, and such--is a regressive tax on those with lower incomes.

But it's a boost for the rich, so Ben's got that going for him, which is nice.

Last month, the Bank of England issued a report that must have made Fed chairman Ben Bernanke squirm.

It said that the Bank of England’s policies of quantitative easing – similar to the Fed’s – had benefited mainly the wealthy.

Specifically, it said that its QE program had boosted the value of stocks and bonds by 26 percent, or about $970 billion. It said that about 40 percent of those gains went to the richest 5 percent of British households.

Many said the BOE's easing added to social anger and unrest. Dhaval Joshi, of BCA Research wrote that  “QE cash ends up overwhelmingly in profits, thereby exacerbating already extreme income inequality and the consequent social tensions that arise from it."


Here's a link to the Reason piece referenced in the article. Not a big fan of Reason as a whole, but the analysis here is sound.

It won’t be a surprise to read conservatives lambasting this as unconventional monetary policy meant to help re-elect President Obama. And inflation hawks have already started screeching. But the loudest cry of “for shame” should be coming from the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Quantitative easing—a fancy term for the Federal Reserve buying securities from predefined financial institutions, such as their investments in federal debt or mortgages—is fundamentally a regressive redistribution program that has been boosting wealth for those already engaged in the financial sector or those who already own homes, but passing little along to the rest of the economy. It is a primary driver of income inequality formed by crony capitalism. And it is hurting prospects for economic growth down the road by promoting malinvestments in the economy.

How is the Federal Reserve contributing to regressive redistribution, income inequality, and manipulated markets? Let’s flesh this out a bit.

Last month, Bernanke said that quantitative easing had contributed to the rebound in stock prices over the past few years, and suggested this was a positive outcome. “This effect is potentially important, because stock values affect both consumption and investment decisions,” he argued, apparently under the belief that the Fed has a third mandate to support rising stock prices.

This is ironically a trickle down monetary policy theory, where rising stock prices mean more wealth and more consumption that trickles down the economic ladder. One problem with this idea is that there is a gigantic mountain of household debt—about $12 trillion worth—that is diverting away any trickle down. An even worse assumption is that the stock market really reflects what is going on in the real economy.


If we had a news media (as opposed to high-production value fanzines) interested in fulfilling their functions as the only private businesses protected by the Constitution, they might ask the President--allegedly the tribune of the little guy--about the hammering effect of such a policy.

 But we don't.

"Equally condemn..."

Or, "an object lesson in how not to reassure."

“There is a need for deterrent legal measures against those individuals or groups that want to damage relations between people, spread hate and incite violence,”  Osama Siblani, Publisher of The Arab American News said in a statement. “It is a need that Americans should seriously consider.”

Sibliani is one of the organizers of a rally in Dearborn, Mich., that will denounce both the video and the deadly terrorist attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Libya. “While we condemn violence against innocent Americans abroad, we equally condemn the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims,” he said in the statement.


I don't know...how about seriously considering growing a thicker skin instead?

Or seriously considering violence to be worse than insult? Apparently that's too much to ask.

Nah. Better to run the Bill of Rights through the shredder, then nuke it from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"If something cannot go on forever, it will stop."

This is known as "Stein's Law."

Just something to ponder, as we consider the Fed's enabling of fiscal irresponsibility:

The central bank's recently announced bid to stimulate the economy has also taken the pressure off politicians to deal with the U.S. fiscal cliff, Lindsay argued, which could result in destabilizing tax hikes and spending cuts automatically taking effect early next year.

"The Fed, maybe because it can't do otherwise, has told the Congress: 'We're going to buy your bonds no matter what,'" Lindsey said. "I think that's keeping the pressure off the president, off the Congress."


The effective of QE3 on interest rates may also keep Congress from reining in borrowing.

"If the (Fed) chairman's estimates of the effectiveness of QE3 on interest rates come true, we're going to be down to an average cost of borrowing for the government of 0.6 of a percentage point," Lindsey said. "Why would any Congress not borrow and spend if they could borrow at 60 basis points?"

Buckle up. I'm not sure where this ride ends, but the destination is almost certainly going to be some place we never wanted to go, nor ever imagined we would be.

Reinstalling the Sovfilter.

Even though nobody asked for it, we have the return of full-blown moral equivalence, courtesy of that cack-handed speech delivered at the U.N. yesterday. Oh, sure--there were the (contractually-obligated boilerplate) good parts, but they were more than cancelled out by the desperate, knocking-knees attempt to reassure that we understand your outrage, and are determined to validate it.

Back in the days of the Cold War, our Non-Aligned Press would desperately try to burnish its Objective credentials by pulling a Derek Smalls and attempting to be lukewarm water between the U.S.' fire and the Soviets' ice. Which meant, basically, that you'd get the grandsons of Walter Duranty waxing flatulent about such things as "why yes, the U.S. has certain freedoms, but the Soviets have free health care, so there" and trying desperately to put an "objective" spin on such Soviet faux pas as invading Czechoslovakia or crushing Solidarity. After all, the Soviets were different, and valued different--but certainly not bad--things.

Like autocracy and famine.

Ok, maybe there was the occasional crop failure, or something, but it's convenient propaganda to suggest there were deliberate efforts to starve inconvenient peoples, or that there were mass slaughters which built various communist regimes. You can't trust dissidents and their agendas. We must be objective. We shouldn't report incendiary charges.

What? Oh....

Oopsie.

Hey, is that Kim Kardashian's ass over there?

Likewise, we have a determined effort to downplay what is happening in the Middle East, to not report on its, er, inconvenient features, and to paint it as something it manifestly is not--the aspiration for Western freedoms. This ugly putz begs to disagree, and he has the organization which has successfully said otherwise.

So, yes, if you still have your old Sovfilter from the Cold War in the attic, now would be a good time to break it out and reinstall it. Our betters are cranking out the propaganda again.

Bon Voyage, First Amendment.

You were awesome for a while, but then the Left determined that you were a hindrance to the greater causes of free abortions (as ironically cheer-led by a wealthy law student) and appeasing savages.

[As a stick-in-the-eye bonus, scroll down to Matt Yglesias' tweet in favor of secular Caesaropapism. Marx couldn't have said it better. Actually, no, he couldn't--Marx wrote a hundred years ago or something. For the products of recent head-up-your-ass-schooling, let me translate in your attenuated pop culture understanding: all your stuff are belong to State. OBEY.]

Apparently, sometime after Muslim terrorists massacred three thousand of us, it was determined that we'd be better off if we treated Islam as a shadow state religion and said blaspheming (read: criticizing in any way not likely to be approved by Saudi-trained clerics) it was bad. Easier that way.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Priorities.

To show you what the administration’s priorities really are, an employer that does not offer health insurance under Obamacare will pay a $2000 annual penalty for each worker.

But the penalty for failing to offer the pill is $100 per day per employee.

So, it’s $36,500 per year if you don’t cover an employee’s IUDs, but only $2000 if you don’t offer her anything *at all.*

Yeah, tell me how it’s all about taking care of the uninsured.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Stall speed--at best--by Election Day.

Should be a lot of economic fun for the country, and not just this year.

But they'll try putting more on my great-grandchildren's tab first. And when that "works" for only a week, watch out.


Meandering on.

Um...yeah.

OK, well...I'm awfully intermittent here, so thanks for humouring me. So, let me proffer a potpourri of links as restitution.

If you'd like to see me in person, I'm making a triumphant return to the stage (last seen in college) in a local rendition of Fiddler on the Roof. I'm playing Mordcha, the innkeeper, in three shows. An asteroid is born!

I know what you're thinking--"What's a Teroid?"

The Pope goes all-in in San Fran. Interesting times, as they say.

The home front remains interesting as well, though we are hoping for such to die down. The Eldest Son is bucking for traditional school at the rate he's going. What can you do?

Mayor Ratched goes a step beyond La Leche League, locking up the formula. By the by, Jeff's place is a lively locale, rewarding repeated visits--a haven for limited-government folks not interested in buying what the GOP is selling.

I have been violated! Ok, tagged. I won't hate, but need time to ponder.

An intrepid soul's taking a run at a Byzantium novel, and one worth watching. Yes, I offer advice in the comments. Like I could resist.

Don McClarey gets the annual bomb debate off to a contentious start. Lawyers... My thought: I'm glad I wasn't Harry Truman.

Professor (and father of 5) Amitai Etzioni explains that asking "does being a parent make you happy?" is the wrong question.

Tragic, telling Detroit quote of the year: "There's nothing here but the devil." Two suspects have been arrested.

If the facts hold up (fog of war, etc.), this is as surprising as the sun rising in the east.

Oh, and our new parish is finishing up a genuine renovation, as opposed to wreckovation. The original movement of the altar forward mercifully left the altar rails and everything else intact. Unfortunately, it created an acoustical sump by covering the raised platform for the altar with gold plush carpeting. Oh, and the altar was wooden, and ditto the lectern. Here are some pre-renovation shots of our parish (Abp. Vigneron leading a pro-life vigil from there) from the invaluable Diane K at the Assumption Grotto site.

The old marble lectern has been pulled out of storage, and the entire platform has been redone in marble--from the same quarry as the church when built in 1956. The altar will be marble, and immobile, with a massive 3 x 5 slab for the altar top. The granite baptistery has been moved back to the altar area. I'll have pictures later--Bishop Byrnes is dedicating the altar on August 19 at 11am.

It feels like home.

Tippler post-script: Fonseca Bin No. 27 is my porto of choice. Costco offers it at a ridiculously-low price, so enjoy.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

On the bright side...

Rachel had her First Communion at the redoubtable Assumption Grotto in Detroit. This one kinda captures our daily chaos better than the nicer photos.

 
Tommy's a handsome lad already. I think he has a future in grifting.


We have about 80 percent of our books out of storage. The kids have no excuse, really.





Those of you inclined to play "Where's Waldo?" can try to guess at the volumes in question. And no, this isn't all of our shelves. Just a sampler.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Offline to deal with spammers for a while.

It's available again. Obviously.

FWIW. I know, I'm a bad blogger.

Smoke if you got 'em.

In addition to spammers, I've also been dealing with nuked credit, good and bad family stuff, along with occupational obligations.

Consider this your open thread, if you're so inclined. Michigan being a surprising battleground State, you can lecture me on how not voting for Romney is a vote for Obama.

Or some such.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The best observation of the campaign season.

And it comes from the ever-wise, always-witty pen of Mark Steyn, commenting on the weirdness of Rick Santorum:

Well, okay, say the Santorum detractors, but you guys are supposed to be the small-government crowd. Why is this any business of the state? A fair point, but one that cuts both ways. Single women are the most enthusiastic constituency for big government: A kiss on the hand may be quite continental, but statism is a girl's best friend. One can argue about whether the death of marriage leads to big government or vice versa, but simply raising the topic shouldn't put one beyond the pale, should it?

Let's take it as read that Rick Santorum is weird. After all, he believes in the sanctity of life, the primacy of the family, the traditional socio-religious understanding of a transcendent purpose to human existence. Once upon a time, back in the mists of, ooh, the mid–20th century, all these things were, if not entirely universal, sufficiently mainstream as to be barely worthy of discussion. Now they're not. Isn't the fact that conventional morality is now "weird" itself deeply weird? The instant weirdification of ideas taken for granted for millennia is surely mega-weird — unless you think that our generation is possessed of wisdom unique to human history. In which case, why are we broke?

Look, I get the problem with a Santorum candidacy. And I get why he seems weird to Swedes and Aussies, and even Americans. If you're surfing a news bulletin en route from Glee to Modern Family, Santorum must seem off-the-charts weird, like a monochrome episode that's been implausibly colorized from a show too old even for TV Land reruns. It would be healthier to thrash these questions out in the culture, in the movies and novels and pop songs. But Hollywood has taken sides, and the Right has mostly retreated from the field. And somebody has to talk about these things somewhere or other. Our fiscal crisis is not some unfortunate bookkeeping accident that a bit of recalibration by a savvy technocrat can fix. In the United States as in Greece, it is a reflection of the character of a people. The problem isn't that Rick Santorum's weird, but that a government of record-breaking brokeness already busting through its newest debt-ceiling increase even as it announces bazillions in new spending is entirely normal.

That ship sailed long ago. Then it was torpedoed, hit an iceberg, and was swamped by a series of rogue waves before being eaten by the Kraken.

Fr. Thomas Massaro would like you all to calm down.

I'm not going to fisk this, because it's an admirable sentiment, as far as it goes. Which means it stagged a step or two before dropping in a messy heap.

Yes, it would be nice if things in the world were more civil and respectful. That's fine.

But the problem with his call for civility is that he sees the white-hot anger as the problem rather than the symptom. It's not--the real problem goes far, far deeper than that, and has been savaging the Body of Christ for decades now.

The HHS mandate is just the catalyst causing it to explode to the surface.

The real problem is that the Church in America has fractured into at least two churches. If it hadn't been this issue, it would have been a dispute over the language of the liturgy, or the latest pronouncement from the Vatican, some university conferring honors on someone who is an open enemy of Catholic teaching or even the renovation of the local cathedral church. The struggle--more bluntly, low-grade civil war--between the churches has been going on since the last bit of incense dispersed at Vatican II. We don't agree on how to worship, what our schools should teach, what laws should be enacted/opposed, what canons apply and when or even what our parish church should look like. In fact, we can't even agree on whether or not Jesus actually rose from the dead.

And for forty five years, our shepherds have been trying to keep it together by careful tacking, including soothing rhetoric, trying to give everyone half a loaf or so (depending on the year, bishop and constituency) and generally trying not to see the coal pile in the ballroom.

But there's no avoiding it here. Every. Last. One. of the episcopate has weighed in against the assault on the Free Exercise Clause. Yet many self-identified Catholics see no problem with the attack, and significant numbers even support it. Which means those Catholics are in the wrong, and need to be called to account.

No amount of soothing rhetoric can do anything other than paper over what have become irreconcilable differences. Calling for a time-out, and a mutual affirmation of The Other not only misses the point, it actively makes things worse by forcing a suspension of moral judgment.

Winston Churchill once said "I decline utterly to be impartial as between the fire brigade and the fire." However well-intentioned, that is precisely what Fr. Massaro is trying to be, and worse, he is ignoring the facts on the ground.

The time for mediation has passed. It is now time to choose sides.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Feasibility studies and you.

Admiral Miklos Horthy was the dictator of Hungary from 1920 until was deposed in a pro-Nazi coup in 1944. He had served as a reasonably competent officer in the Hapsburg Empire's navy, and declared himself "Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary," despite not wanting to let the Hapsburg claimants back in. The Hungarian joke was that Hungary "was a kingdom without a king, ruled by an admiral without a fleet, in a country without a coastline."

For a moment, Wyoming was threatening to resurrect that joke in an American setting. The context was the study of a doomsday continuity-of-government bill--not a crazy idea in a world of fast-moving disease, weapons of mass destruction and EMP. However, an early draft of the bill provided for a feasibility study for Wyoming's acquisition of strike aircraft and...an aircraft carrier.

An aircraft carrier.

For...Wyoming.

Wyoming.

WYOMING.

I hate to bring this up, Utah, and I'm not trying to get all rumory, but I think the folks in Cheyenne might have some long-term designs on the Great Salt Lake. You might want to consider some way to maintain naval superiority starting right...now.

Fortunately, the attempt to float a Nimitz class carrier in the nation's Mountain West has been axed from the current reading.

Or...has it?

Watch your back, Utah.

A choice, not an echo.

Today's the day Michigan votes in the Presidential primary, and for once, it matters a lot.

I'm not under any illusions about the field--it's not the A team, it's the B- team. But each of the candidates has one great virtue: at least they decided to show up. That counts for something, even for the ones I don't like all that much.

I won't pretend that Senator Santorum was my first choice. I've always liked him, especially up close and personal. But I was looking for a candidate with solid executive experience, and he didn't have it. Never the less, the Pawlenty "Brave Sir Robin" act and Rick Perry's inexplicable flameout took those options off the table.

I still think Santorum needs to develop the discipline to steer away from hot-button trap questions he really wants to answer, but at least you know what's on his mind.

As an aside, for those wetting themselves over fears of "theocracy": (1) not going to happen. (2) If you're worried about how a President is going to behave in office, then perhaps the problem is with the over-assumption of executive power--the office itself--and not the particular occupant. "It's OK when my guy wields it" is not how it is envisioned to operate.

Back to the Senator: yes, he's got pork and massive entitlement (Medicare Part D) issues, but he also is someone who can take the credit for ending a lifetime entitlement with welfare reform. He also has a vision supportive of more limited government, with support for a civil society with its "mediating institutions." He has also shown the ability to win over voters in a purple-blue state, which says something for his campaigning skills. He's aware that America is faced with people in the world who wish her ill, and he feels the HHS assault in his guts. There will be no backdown on that. No, he's not a perfect candidate (I'd like him softer on certain issues like immigration, for a start), but I'm surprised by how well he laps the field.

Speaking of which.

Newt Gingrich. I actually like big vision-thing ideas, inspiring, reach for the sky plans. But he invariably couples them with not-so-good ideas suggestive of spitballing (local boards handling immigration?). He's actually better than the rest of the field on immigration in general, but oddball ideas combined with an inability to parry negative attacks make him unelectable. And, yes, Santorum has a deficit with women voters generally, but a thrice-married politico is toxic with that rather important segment. He blew it after South Carolina, and hasn't been a threat since.

Ron Paul. I'm not going to call him nuts or anything like that. My problem is less with the candidate (though he is a greatly flawed politician), but rather with his fan base. There are serious Paul supporters who admit to the problems with his ideas or practices. I have no beef with them. But the ones who treat his every word and deed like secular ahadith do him and his movement no favors. These are the ones who proliferate on the 'net. Look, he's a patriot, a genuinely good community servant with his medical practice and an unimpeachable family man. In a general sense, he is absolutely right about the constitutional imbalance of our current system and the monstrosity of federal spending and deficits.

But his more fanatical supporters refuse to admit he's a politician. Earmarking? "Why, its the Constitutional way to protect the taxpayer!" Alliance with Romney, the figure who should, on principles alone, receive his greatest ire? "What alliance?" Paul rolled over and played dead in Maine, despite profound irregularities and the consistent knock that he can't win--because Romney would lose. "What alliance?" "Santorum's the fake!" Despite the fact he actually succeeded with entitlement reform? Sigh.

He's helped his constituents in his sixteen years in office and has been able to use the office as a platform for a newsletter writ large. Which brings me to my final problem--he has no executive skills in a crunch.
I believe him when he says he didn't write the race-baiting nonsense in the newsletters. But if I credit his claim that he did not know who wrote that bilge, then he is to executive leadership what Stephen Hawking is to mixed-martial arts: out of his depth.

Finally, Mitt. What can be said about Governor Romney? My friend Jay Anderson has plenty of thoughts, none of them good. Here's the positive: he, too, is a good family man, a solid supporter of his church, and to his friends an absolute rock. I think his business experience is a plus, but not the plus it is claimed, otherwise why not nominate Warren Buffett? Finally, I think he's basically of center-to-slightly-rightish instincts, but they have been ruined by his sail-trimming to fit Massachusetts politics.

No, the main problem with Romney is that he neutralizes three essential issues in this race: (1) the health care legislation, (2) energy production (he signed cap and trade as governor), and (3) the HHS mandate (he ordered Catholic hospitals to provide abortifacients). Yet, there's every chance he's going to be the nominee? So, it will be a summer and autumn filled with special pleading, hand-waving, and fielding the "he was for it before he was against it, eh?" counterattacks. Yeah, that's a recipe for victory.

I'm looking for a choice, not an echo. Santorum for President.



Monday, February 20, 2012

Here's a sign that Santorum is a threat to Romney.

Jen Rubin, Mitt's ever-reliable blogging mouthpiece, has turned on him.

She actually was very complimentary to Santorum early on, but no more. He's now a genuine nemesis to Mr. Electable, so out comes the shiv. No longer an appealing populist, but a fire-breathing extremist.

Intellectual integrity is overrated in politics, and political blogging, it seems. Or maybe it's just another example of the dangers of prolonged exposure to Romnium.

I think the EPA needs to look into this, stat.



Last Man Standing?

Rick Santorum continues to amaze me with his resiliency. The primary hat trick was astonishing, given the relative paucity of resources and organization, and has shot him at least temporarily into the lead.


Jay, Paul, and Don have a lot of useful commentary worth reading.

One caveat, though--a commenter on a political blog pointed out that Santorum a couple of weeks ago that Sanrotum was something of a proxy for "generic Republican" in the polls. He hadn't had a crapstorm hurled at him by either the media or his opponents. But it's hitting him now, and I'm worried.

The President's Loyalist Media Auxiliary is already starting to soundbite him to death. The oily crapweasel Charlie Rose's interview was a case in point. Even though Santorum kept trying to shift it to economic issues, Rose was able to frame the narrative.

That can't keep happening. Even if it's just one question in an interview, five minutes out of an hour, that's what going to be highlighted in the reporting. He has to fight the culture war--the President certainly is--but he can't be painted into a corner on it. He can't abandon it, either--it is a winner, as Jay notes. But it's a winner as part of an overall package, one that frames the other guy as an out of touch extremist. The populist angle can work, if he can keep hammering it. Leave the culture war stuff to the proxies for now.

He has to frame the narrative and not let others do it for him. Otherwise, the rise is just another not-Romney  boomlet that will pass.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fox News: "We don't report if the Saudi royals decide otherwise."

A Saudi journalist ran for his life after mild criticism of Islam's founder. Interpol collaborated in the arrest, which is even more disturbing. Not that you'll read this on Fox News, though.

As I mentioned a few weeks back, the number two shareholder at Fox (after NewsCorp) is Alwaleed bin Talal, a member of the Saudi royal family whose bottomless pockets back various American projects designed to cast sharia law in a favorable light — such as Islamic studies programs at Georgetown and Harvard. In 2006, Accuracy in Media reported that Prince bin Talal had pressured Fox into downplaying the Muslim role in rioting in France. And it just so happens that, late last year, bin Talal plunked down $300 million for a stake in Twitter, the social media service that published the tweets that have Mr. Kashgari in such dire straits.

Probably just a coincidence.

Oh, almost certainly.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

In Iceland, the blind banjo player strums Bjork tunes.

Iceland: Let's Try Not to be Shelbyville, People.

 [W]hen you live in an isolated nation with a population roughly the size of Pittsburgh, accidentally lusting after a cousin is an all-too-real possibility. But a search engine called Íslendingabók (the Book of Icelanders) allows users to plug in their own name alongside that of a prospective mate, determining any familial overlap.


The moment the Archdiocese has been dreading.

The announcement of parish closures happens this month. The City and the inner ring suburbs are getting the worst of it.


Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron is reviewing recommendations to close up to 20 churches in Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck, and about 30 more in the suburbs. The pending closures -- which are expected to be finalized this month -- could shrivel the church's urban footprint to nearly one-third of the 112 parishes that existed in Detroit and its enclaves in 1988.

Since 2000, about 25 parishes have closed in Detroit and the surrounding suburbs. Recently, at least seven parishes in the suburbs have decided to close or merge in the next year or two. But unlike the pending suburban closures, many of the urban parishes didn't ask to be closed.

Many of the threatened urban parishes provide services to poor and homeless people. They are beacons of stability. And they are fighting to stay open.

"If it is providing food services, helping the homeless, closing (a church) is really a symbolic death knell of a neighborhood," said demographer Kurt Metzger, who directs Data Driven Detroit and shared population trends and statistics with the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, which made the closure recommendations.


Friday, February 10, 2012

The American Catholic Patriotic Association.

We need a new term for the Pelosis, Ridges and Sr. Keehans of our country, their never-failing accommodation to the State, zeitgeist and advancement of newly-discovered "American" rights.

What better designation than the above? First, it acknowledges the work and inspiration of its sister organization across the Pacific (multiculturalism!), the uniquely American nature of the enterprise, and even allows them to declare their patriotism to the world. As an added bonus, they can ditch that annoying word "church."

Win, win, win, and bonus win!

I even have a motto for them: "Render Unto Caesar. Full stop."

The proposed "compromise" deserves the Cleveland Browns Reply.

A compromise has been offered in the Kulturkampf. It convinces only those who want to be convinced, and has the delighted imprimatur of Planned Parenthood, demonstrating how much of a "compromise" it is.

I have a recommendation for the bishops. In 1974, the General Counsel of the Cleveland Browns was sent a litigation threat by a local attorney regarding the danger of paper airplanes being thrown during football games. The Browns' attorney sent the following response:

Attached is a letter we received on November 19, 1974. I feel that you should be aware that some asshole is signing your name to stupid letters.

Very truly yours,

CLEVELAND STADIUM CORP.

James N. Bailey
General Counsel

I confess it will need some tweaking, but it's a thought.

For those of you looking for something more highbrow, Michael Sean Winters has a perfectly excellent  response. Fair warning--you will encounter the herdmind of Thinking [sic] Catholicism in the comments, so you might want to avoid that.

Krauthammer goes yard.

Read the whole thing, but note especially how the President dons and doffs the religiousity cloak with the effortlessness of a Gantry.

To flatter his faith-breakfast guests and justify his tax policies, Obama declares good works to be the essence of religiosity. Yet he turns around and, through Sebelius, tells the faithful who engage in good works that what they’re doing is not religion at all. You want to do religion? Get thee to a nunnery. You want shelter from the power of the state? Get out of your soup kitchen and back to your pews. Outside, Leviathan rules.

There is a profound difference between the freedom of religion enshrined in the First Amendment and the "freedom of worship" envisioned by this administration. The Kulturkampf makes that plain. By all means, enjoy your quaint ceremonial holdovers from a more brutish time. But don't think of carrying it into the work week.

Which is becoming increasingly troubling to me.


George Lucas attempts a Jedi mind trick.

Han did not shoot first, you sad, sad fanbois.

"The controversy over who shot first, Greedo or Han Solo, in Episode IV, what I did was try to clean up the confusion, but obviously it upset people because they wanted Solo [who seemed to be the one who shot first in the original] to be a cold-blooded killer, but he actually isn't. It had been done in all close-ups and it was confusing about who did what to whom. I put a little wider shot in there that made it clear that Greedo is the one who shot first, but everyone wanted to think that Han shot first, because they wanted to think that he actually just gunned him down."
Not he thought twice about it and wanted a digital mulligan. Nope, instead it was in the original scene all along.

He doesn't like his fans very much.

More to the point, I never saw how it made Han a cold-blooded killer anyway--he's being threatened with a gun, and the thug's about to pull the trigger.