Chicago’s Metra “On The Bi-Level” newsletter had an inadvertent doozy this month. Normally I’m not one to read too much into word selection, but in this case it is warranted. First, we have a complaint about a sidewalk:

I was told by a Berwyn alderman that it is Metra’s decision to close the crosswalk on the BNSD that’s two blocks east of Harlem for “safety reasons.” … I have already seen four instances of people running and crossing at Harlem with gates down and in front of express trains! Yes, you are actually endangering people.

Here is the newsletter’s response:

It is for safety reasons. And we can hardly be blamed for endangering people who willfully go around crossing gates.

When you’re designing a safety feature, be it for an air traffic control system, a financial web site, or the layout of a train station, it is best to design for people as they actually are, not the way you wish they were. Design is a series of trade offs, and the proper way to evaluate closing a crosswalk is “how many people die with the cross walk” vs. “how many people die without the cross walk”.

Of course, that’s if you are interested in keeping people safe, not avoiding blame.

Real men only talk when they really need to. I have a true story that demonstrates this.

Several years ago while on vacation my family stopped at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere. My small children were easily distracted by a couple of other male vactioners who were flying a kite around the rest area. They were doing some impressive stunts, and got awfully close to a large pine tree. Eventually they got too close and the kite was stuck in the tree.

Over the next ten minutes they were unable to extract the kite from the tree.

Then some men (yes, all) in a truck with a cherry picker pulled up at the rest stop. They got out of the car, looked at the kite, looked at the tree, and drove right up to the tree. Out came the stabilizers from the truck. Up went the cherry picker. Down came the kite.

And they never said a word.

Real men only talk when they need to.

Recently, I’ve decided to look back at old rants for inspiration for new stuff, bad or good. In this spirit, back after the election I wrote:

So, coming soon to a Diehard Republican—and, I think even more likely, the sorely disappointed “bake sale bomber” type progressives when Obama fails to deliver on the impossible things they’ve projected onto him—near you: Obama Derangement Syndrome…[.]

You can read the rest here. So, let’s just say I was “pleased” to see this.

Maybe “unsurprised” is the right word. Whatever. Is anyone really surprised? Back during the recent period of Republican dominance the backbenchers got kept in line by Tom “The Hammer” DeLay, but Dems haven’t been so good at that kind of strongarm for quite some time.

As Fitzmas 2008 draws finally to a close, at least for now, it seems fitting to commemorate the past days with a rousing Fitzmas carol:

By the Twelfth Day of Fitzmas, Fitzgerald gave to me:

Twelve Days of Laughing,

Eleven amusing reasons,

Ten quotes of Blago’s,

Nine tainted planners,

Eight weeks of silence,

Seven Blago Questions,

Six AM Waking,


Four Blago Rules,

“Three Day” Harris,

Two Main Counts (PDF)

…And a Governor in a Crime Spree!!!

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As Fitzgerald might say (and John Kass did):

A Merry Fitzmas to all…Except those I indict!

For all of the tongue-in-cheek approval of Chicago and Illinois corruption that we are going through, it should be reminded that, free from any romantic notion of crooks being “Our Crook“, this is the actual Chicago way.

But Democrats, fearful they might lose the Senate seat if it was put up for a vote, essentially stalled talk of a special election. They cited concerns about the multi-million dollar cost of holding the election with state finances in shambles. The lack of action means that Blagojevich still retains the power to appoint Obama’s successor.

From the Chicago Tribune — who has good reason to be the loudest anti-Balgo voice in the world.

That’s right — despite having the most obviously corrupt official in decades, the party with a massive majority both in Illinois and national government is still too afraid of losing a Senate seat through the democratic process it loudly champions when no opportunity is at hand, now turns tail and lets its elite choose another of its elite. This shirking of manly virtue, ironically, demonstrates Blago’s statement about who is packing the proper testicular fortitude to make the right decisions. It wasn’t Blago, and it isn’t the Illinois Democrats.

Their argument about a special election being prohibitively expensive is especially transparent, since there will already need to be a regional special election to replace Rahm Emmanual, who is shirking his elected duty to wield Obama’s Rod of Power as Chief-of-Staff. A Senate run-off will be more expensive than a Representative election, but given the circumstances, (and the golden child of light who vacated the Senate seat when he was bodily assumed into Office), they ought to open that seat up to an election as well.

Truth be told, sending the decision to the Lt. Governor is the constitutional process in Illinois, but notice that is not one of the arguments forwarded by the Illinois Democrats. When Illinois corruption makes the news, it makes it big. But it’s the spineless, worthless, neutered corruption which never makes the news that is the real Chicago way.

The Mrs. Angry Immigrant and I flew back from the old country to this flammable desert on Monday. To sane people, there was fog over LAX airport. Our plane had to make a 2nd attempt at the runway, because the pilot didn’t like his first approach. Admittedly, the cloud/fog over the airport looked like Dr. Horrible was doing some Horrible PhD research at the airport, since it was solid dark clouds there, and perfectly clear over the rest of the city…

To insane people, however, this mass of dispersed water vapor a terror so vile that they kidnapped, held captive, and deprived 190+ fellow people of basic human necessities in order to save them from its unspeakable horror.

This kind of “X hours stuck on a plane on the tarmac” kind of debacle is the result of two spineless bureaucracies also demonstrating a lack of heart. I’m not sure if the customs officials or the airline officials are to blame on this one (signs point to the airline, but it’s hard to tell for sure), but no one, especially airline crews should think that staying on an aircraft any longer than necessary is acceptable.

It’s ok, though, because they served water and crackers at 4am… Ontario, CA is just not that far away. Put these people on a bus, or put a customs official in a taxi to Ontario.

If someone is going to forcibly confine me to an aircraft cabin, the ground outside better be on fire and the air outside better be poisonous (admittedly, this is LA most of the time…). Otherwise I’d have to weigh my options about spending an overnight in jail for deploying the emergency doors myself, rather than sitting in the life-draining confines of the plane.

Detroit, Detroit!
It’s a blunderful town,
The graft goes up,
then they burn the place down.
Jobs disappear down a hole in the ground.
Detroit, Detroit!
It’s a blunderful town!

Apologies to Frank, Gene, and the gang.

Angry Immigrant note to self:
Borrow $500M from government, start a new manufacturing hub in northern Ohio. That way I can preserve 100,000 manufacturing jobs, while demonstrating what incompetent management comes out of the University of Michigan. The fact that these workers’ children will go to OSU in large numbers and grow up hating Michigan is just a bonus.


The “Auto Industry Crisis” is easy to solve. Before giving any more private companies any public money:

  • Step 1)  Get it out of Detroit. Anyone smart enough to be good management is too smart to move there. You’d have to bribe them, and the industry can’t afford it. Ohio seems like a good new place for it. Round on the edges and high in the middle… Use this move to:


  • Step 2)  Get it out of the UAW. Or re-educate the UAW about what actions you will accept. They’re one of several albatrosses around the neck of the U.S. auto industry, and they need to be taken down a few notches. The workers are necessary, the union is just like barnacles that need scraping off. The Department of Labor is their only friend, and the only one enforcing labor laws. Congress should write a neat little loophole into labor law that any company being bought into Gov’t receivership is now subject to special labor rules, including all-out ignoring current contracts. This will allow for massive flexibility in changes the government can force into the company. Use this flexibility to:


  • Step 3)  Purge the dross. High and low. Anyone making a multiple of a typical line-worker salary is gone. If they were so critically useful to the process, then they had the power to make it succeed or fail. They chose to fail. Their replacements will work on contingency, and be paid their fee once the company comes back out of receivership. Union dues are reset to $0 until all gov’t loans are paid back. Until my government money is paid back, not a cent goes to the bungler/crooks that caused the problems in the first place. This crisis is about preserving workers’ jobs, not their parasitic union fat cats’ jobs. They can start collecting regular welfare with the rest of the shiftless. The workers can feel free to organize. Their grievances will be heard by a special board at the Dept of Labor. Any work by a union organizer will be done on a volunteer basis. Then we’ll see how much the “workers good” they really care about. Until their employer buys itself back from me, John Q Taxpayer, I make the rules.


This will likely cause 2 of the big 3 to fail. I’m fine with that. Re-tool the assembly assets into making other things we will always need — garbage trucks, railroad equipment, forklifts, etc, and make a crapload of them. Use government-owned product designs so you don’t waste time and energy making ugly useless and unwanted slag any more. The surviving major U.S. manufacturer will be an efficient bastion of design, marketing, and manufacturing that we can be proud of. It will repay its debts to society and buy itself out of its government indenture. Then it can proudly show its face again.

But step 1 is getting the heck out of Detroit. And turn the light off when you leave…


You’ve probably seen the McCain ad campaign, “Who is the real Barack Obama?” by now if you live in a swing state. Since the media isn’t going to answer these questions for you, I figured I’d give it a shot.

Is Barack Obama an intellectual?
The answer to that is pretty clear: No. His student years at Columbia College were not particularly distinctive (and no, Obama won’t release his grades). He was an excellent student at Harvard Law and was (as I’m sure all of America is aware by now) the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. From there, Mr. Obama moved onto a bottom-tier academic career at the University of Chicago where he published a total of zero academic articles.

For those of you who haven’t been around the academy in a while, let me tell you a little secret — if you don’t publish, you perish. Granted, Obama was a lecturer, not a tenure-track professor, but the fact that he chose not to publish at all while at U of C tells you that Mr. Obama was not interested in engaging in intellectual dialogue. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — Mr. Obama was busy with a lot of other things, but it does clearly show that Barack Obama is not an intellectual.

Is Barack Obama a details guy?
Again, this is an unqualified no. The critique of Obama being all rhetoric and no details has been made before. While Senator Obama has a team full of people filling his website with details on policy, he has been near-pathologically unable to put that content into his speeches.

Is Barack Obama an effective communicator?
Without a doubt. He might not be the Great Communicator but he’s certainly at a level where he can compete with the likes of Bill Clinton. A lunatic supporter of his feels that this is because he is an advanced spiritual being. No joke. But, seriously, Obama is an excellent speaker and as Hillary Clinton can well attest, this still matters a great deal.

Is Barack Obama an effective manager?
This one appears to be a yes. Unlike John’s McCain’s campaign which has disintegrated several times and has now been reduced to repeating “Bill Ayers! Bill Ayers!” over and over, Senator Obama has run well-disciplined machine with hordes of volunteers and tons of well-heeled lobbyists.

So who is Barack Obama?
I’ll advance that Barack Obama is the ultimate middle manager. He’s not the man with ideas and he’s not the sort of guy who wants to be involved in the details. He’s great at communicating the larger picture and is good at motivating people to follow his direction, or perhaps more correctly, the direction of his superiors. With good people in the boardroom and good subordinates, he’d be the perfect guy to work for. In this sense he’s the anti-Al Gore. But will he be a good president? That, my friends, is the multi-trillion dollar question. Come back later and see who your favorite Angry Men are pulling for in the White House.

There’s nothing like a presidential campaign that makes it time for a good parody. Watching the video for Die Hard by Guyz Nite, tickled my parody bone. With more than a little help from Angry Overeducated Catholic, we have this bit of humor. I would’ve done a recording myself, but AOC started making mojitos, and you know how that goes. Anyway, without further ado, I give you:

Fight Hard

Remember when we first met John McCain?
The NVA shot down his plane,
And took him down to the Hanoi Hilton,
To meet with Charlie.

He signed up to fly ’cause he’s a real man.
But the Viet Cong, they had other plans.
And that’s about when everything went sour
Over central Hanoi.

And the commies, they were over-zealous,
The bastards they tortured our fellas.
But with a little help from Nixon,
John McCain came home!

We’re gonna fight, fight, fight hard!
We’re gonna fight, fight, fight hard!
We’re gonna fight, fight, fight hard!
We’re gonna fight, fight, fight as hard as we can!

No one fights harder than John McCain,
With Russ Feingold he would campaign,
Against the evil world of campaign finance,
Inside of DC.

And the pundits, they chewed him out,
But John McCain is just too damn proud,
And nothing could have made him not deliver…
‘Cause that’s his business!

There were a lot of fights and debate,
Filibusters made it quite late,
But with a little help from Enron,
McCain’s reform would stand!

We’re gonna fight, fight, fight hard!
We’re gonna fight, fight, fight hard!
We’re gonna fight, fight, fight hard!
We’re gonna fight, fight, fight as hard as we can!

Vote McCain, not Obama! x4

No one fights harder than John McCain.
Fighting all the earmarks, that is plain.
But he thought his Senate time was over,
It was time for the White House.

And there was no way McCain could know
Just how low Karl Rove would go.
And that’s what made him lose the nomination,
To W. Bush, now.

But John McCain he wouldn’t quit now
It’s ’08 and he’s back in now.
He says gonna shut down Gitmo.
Straight Talk Express for me!

We’re gonna fight, fight, fight hard!
We’re gonna fight, fight, fight hard!
We’re gonna fight, fight, fight hard!
We’re gonna fight, fight, fight as hard as we can!

Finally we’re back with John McCain
Now we got a choice, and the choice is plain:
We can live free or vote Obama,
If we can stand him.

From taking on the terrorists when they attack,
To leading us to victory in Iraq.
The best days are ahead of us by far!
This sure looks sweet, man!

And we know what the basic gist is:
We got the White House, ain’t gonna miss this.
We don’t know but we’re pretty sure that
John McCain kicks ass!

We’re gonna fight, fight, fight hard!
We’re gonna fight, fight, fight hard!
We’re gonna fight, fight, fight hard!
We’re gonna fight, fight, fight as hard as we can!

Vote McCain, not Obama! x4

On April 15th this year, Angry Overeducated Catholic posted on a subject dear to all of us (on April 15th at least): the Income Tax. By way of some simple math (actually simpler than that needed to complete a 2007 Schedule D), a flat tax with a single or at most two rates, and sufficiently high exclusions, becomes progressive in the “traditional Democratic sense.” My subsequent post explored some considerations involving the taxation of capital gains, for which, I might point out, AOC’s methodology would also provide an acceptable solution. Angry New Mexican in his comment suggested that we ‘crunch some numbers’ to see if this would be revenue neutral.

Since I am more than slightly interested in living to witness the elimination of the IRS, and the tens of thousands of pages of incomprehensible tax code, I decided to research the problem myself. Interestingly, multiple others have looked at income distribution, taxation and policy impact. Just to reference a few:

Income Distribution: Stagnant or Mobile?
Further Analysis of the Distribution of Income and Taxes, 1979-2002
Income, Earnings, and Poverty Data From the 2006 American Community Survey
Income Mobility in the U.S. from 1996 to 2005
U.S. Treasury Distributional Analysis Methodology (1999)
Census Bureau: Source and Accuracy of Estimates for Income
Current Population Reports: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006
Income Inequality in the United States, 1913-2002 (Berkeley)
Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Quarterly Review, Vol. 21, No. 2, Spring 1997,

What I was after was (a) a source of data for the income distribution in the United States; (b) the current revenue from the income tax; and possibly (c) the revenue broken down as ordinary income vs. capital gains. I figured that these base data would allow me to apply AOC’s methodology and see what rates would be needed to provide a revenue neutral model. (By the way, the Census Bureau has a wonderful tool called the DataFerrett that allows you to import data from various web based databases: the DataWeb.)

Unfortunately, after looking through the various papers, including a very good one from Berkeley—Income Inequality in the United States, 1913-2002 by Thomas Piketty, EHESS, Paris and Emmanuel Saez, UC Berkeley —hardly the bastion of conservative fiscal policy—, I am forced to conclude that a fair, progressive (or otherwise), revenue-maximizing income tax is not at all likely. The problem is that the strategic objective of the income tax is not to be revenue-maximizing, not to be fair in any sense, and not to be particularly progressive, although these are certainly the words mouthed by politicians. The primary motivation for today’s bizarre income tax policy is quite simply “income redistribution”.

The first clue is in the source papers themselves where the economic distribution of income appears as a principal part of the title in many documents. The problem is that some people cannot look at a person who is making more than a specific amount and not see an inherent evil. It doesn’t matter how many jobs, or how much wealth for everyone this income generates, only that any one person, corporation or entity, is “indecently wealthy” or has “wind-fall profits”. And in the case of the Oil Companies (Shell, BP, Exxon, etc.) it’s not about what the percent profit-to-revenue is, but only the absolute dollar amount. Big companies have big revenues and consequently big dollar profits — that’s a consequence of ‘big’. As a percent of revenue, Oil profits are in the 7% range which is hardly excessive. In fact, your typical corner ice-cream store probably generates a higher percentage profit than this.

The same with high net worth individuals, CEOs of corporations, and others with high dollar market driven compensation. It’s a simple fact that the market sets the value of the compensation — Congressional limits on the deductibility of CEO compensation (at $1 million) only forced the creation of other forms of compensation. But this goes whooshing by the hair of the typical redistributionist — inherently evil is any compensation over $1 million.

But how does this ‘redistributionist’ philosophy result in the morass of current tax regulation? After all, there are ( I presume —er, hope) some Senators and Congresscritters who have a brain. I can only conclude that the redistributionist philosophy has permeated the policy environment and legislative ‘language’ to the extent that most reasoned tax policy writers throw up their hands in disgust; and if they can’t fix the damn thing at the base through fundamentals, then at least they can carve out a little loophole for their constituents providing some relief from the redistribution. The result is the current mess.

The redistributionist philosophy also dovetails nicely with the ability to ‘take’ from those who have and redistribute to those the Congress deems worthy — i.e., to those who will support their bids to remain in power. It’s so nice to deliver benefits and charity when you personally don’t have to bear the cost.


“The American Republic will survive until the day the Congress discovers it can bribe the people with the people’s money.” -Alexis de Tocqueville .

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