Thursday, February 26, 2009

GMA: Dave Ramsey doesn't like the budget

Dave Ramsey, now part of Good Morning America's "dream team" of financial pundits, opined this morning about the Obama administration's budget plans. In what shouldn't be a surprise to those who know of Dave Ramsey, he didn't much care for it.

Video is on ABC News's page here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The American-Statesman listens to you...for a price

Let's see, it was almost exactly a year ago when the Austin American-Statesman decided that a good way to save money was to stop printing the Show World (their TV section). After a whole lot of bad publicity and negative comments from angry subscribers, the Statesman has decided to bring Show World back from the dead.

Today, I received the following mass-produced letter:
Dear Snowed In:

When you spoke, we listened.

And it only took a year!

Beginning March 8, your favorite television guide, filled with program times, channels and details, is back in its starring role every Sunday by request only for an additional 25¢.

Let's see, you've already raised the daily price by 25 cents in the past year...why not do the same to the Sunday paper? (Answer: because it just might not get the enthusiastic response y'all at the Statesman expect to get.)

To sign up today, call [snipped] or go to

Thank you again for sharing your feedback. We appreciate the opportunity to continue to meet your news, information and entertainment needs.

Best regards,

Harry C. Davis
Vice President of Circulation

Oh, yeah, waiting an entire year to respond is really meeting my needs, thanks. And what's with the sending me this anyway, given that I cancelled 11 months ago? Is this supposed to make me come rushing back?

With all that said, I do utilize the daily's webpage. It's not bad. (It's not stellar, but it's not bad.) But the print edition, in my opinion, is quickly becoming obsolete.

Chris Matthews shoots off his mouth...yet again

Per TV Newser:

Just as Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was getting ready to start his speech responding to President Obama's address to Congress, an audible voice could be heard on MSNBC saying "Oh, God." And who was the bastion of respectfulness? Why, it was none other than Chris Matthews, whose job it is to make sure Obama's presidency works. Don't believe me? You don't have to. Just watch.

You can send all cards and letters to MSNBC at this webpage.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Is Sarah Palin one of us?

There was enthusiasm for two people in the 2008 Presidential election: Barack Obama and Sarah Palin. But while Obama was praised for his pragmatism by the intelligentsia (of both sides), Palin was savaged for her "inexperience".

Who is "one of us", and who isn't? Who defines the answer to that question, and what does it mean? Thomas Sowell nails it.

A Taxpayers' Revolt?

Just in case you're one of the five people in the US who hasn't seen it (three of them are the rest of the Snowed family), here's Rick Santelli's original rant:

Many people are ticked off. People are organizing "Tea Parties" all over the country. Now there's a website recommending a mortgage strike in April.

I would like to see this movement gain traction. I would like to see it make a difference. But, I'm worried that the general response of the MSM and the Democrats who gave us this junk will be a collective “oh, how cute!” with a knowing smile as we all get right back to our jobs to pay for the grasshoppers’ bailouts. And I don't think too many people are going to skip a mortgage payment in this economy. I'm not going to either...I'm still trying to get my debt paid off.

I think the most we can hope for is that some people will come to the conclusion that it is not in anyone's best interest to sit around and wait for the government to pander to them. Alfonzo Rachel, as usual, is right on target with that point (and many others) in the following.

Watch the whole thing and consider what is the best course.

What Defines a "Useless Celebrity"?

With the biggest self-congratulatory exercise of the year over with (that'd be the Oscars), I thought it would be a good time to expand on what exactly is meant by my repeated use of the phrase/label "useless celebrity".

Are all celebrities useless? Is any child of God truly useless? I would say no to both. However, I would say that someone who either has gained their celebrity status in a totally worthless-to-society way (like, for example, Paris Hilton), or has used their celebrity status to make some sort of incredibly shallow political statement (like, for example, Scarlett Johansson), qualifies to be called a useless celebrity. They're not useless people, but things they say and do may very well be useless in and of themselves and should be considered as such.

(Incidentally, the Scarlett Johansson entry is still my most visited. If nothing else, I suppose that keeps me humble about the reach of my so-called punditry. And I guess it does illustrate how much we, as a world, seem to care about the irrelevant and trivial instead of what's truly important.)

I guess the fact that so many people care about what the beautiful people do and say makes it important for us to discern what statements, if any, are useful, and which are useless. Sadly, those making the useless types seem to vastly outnumber the others.

For example:
  • Ashley Judd's silliness (as documented here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) regarding Sarah Palin has come and gone, as has, apparently, Ms. Judd's acting career, which is why she has to make such a courageous stand against someone hated by virtually all of Hollywood. Seriously, what has she done since Ya-Ya Sisterhood? What has she done worth watching since Double Jeopardy? (Disclaimer: the previous sentence is my opinion, as is the entire entry. Duh!)
  • Tom Hanks has made and then backed away from rather divisive statements about California's Prop 8 supporters.
  • Cher stated, in the midst of an anti-Republican rant, that living under Republican "rule" almost killed her. (See also here.)
  • In addition to the venerable Ms. Judd, it appears to be becoming mandatory for liberal celebrities to concentrate their vitriol onto Governor Palin. It should come as no surprise to anyone to hear from people such as Janeane Garafalo, the once-great David Letterman, the supposedly objective Gwen Ifill, and, of course, the supposedly worthwhile and generally unfunny Keith Olbermann that they think Sarah Palin is apparently either such an idiot as to be unable to tie her own shoes without help, or a bimbo fantasy. Or both.
  • And, of course, we can't forget the pledge of many celebrities to act more responsibly now that President Obama is in office. Of course, you should have been acting this way all along if you really meant it...

The best example of this type of "useless celebrity" behavior, at least this week, is the Oscars. The ceremony seems to be a magnet for lame manifestos (really, whose idea was it to give Bill Maher a bully platform for his anti-religion statements?). Sean Penn had his screed written well before he accepted Mickey Rourke's award. (Disclaimer: I've seen neither Milk nor The Wrestler; in fact, I've seen nothing nominated for pretty much anything at this year's ceremony, but I guessed the Academy would give the award to Mr. Penn due to the obvious political statement.) Past years have shown similar types of rants; for, never mind, I'm not giving Michael Moore a link.

Enjoy your awards and your fame, you guys. Just don't expect me to fall in lockstep with you because of them.

Yeah, it's been said, but it's still accurate

Let's see:
  • 1996 welfare reform undone...check!
  • Markets return to 1997 levels...check!
  • The ants are asked to pay for the grasshoppers' excesses again...check!
The Obama administration and the Democratic Congress really are building a bridge back to the 20th Century!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Time Warner: what now?

Imagine my surprise yesterday when the TV Guide Network (channel 7) had been abruptly replaced with a screen directing customers to use the interactive program guide (great, if you have a converter box) or look elsewhere to find out what's on. The screen also directed people to Time Warner's website (where there is nothing about this change presently) or to call Time Warner for more information.

So, I did call Time Warner. I spoke to a representative who told me multiple times that TV Guide Network was a broadcast network (, it's not), and that Time Warner had no control over its removal. And then she wanted to get me to shell out more money for said converter box, and when I politely declined that, she wanted to sell me on Road Runner and/or digital phone. No thanks.

For those keeping score at home, basic cable in Austin now consists of the following:
  • all full-power broadcast stations, and (I believe) one low-power broadcast station as well
  • several Spanish-language channels (some of which are broadcast over the air)
  • News 8 Austin
  • C-Span
  • WGN
  • two home shopping channels
  • ME TV, which, I understand, is in "financial dire straits"
  • a bunch of community access and/or boring local government stuff we're almost never going to watch
And what does the Snowed family watch at home?
  • all English-language broadcast stations
  • News 8 (occasionally)
  • C-Span
  • WGN
  • the home shopping channels (very occasionally)
And for this we're paying $20 a month.

Mrs. Snowed's guess is that the next to disappear from basic cable is going to be WGN.

Want LEED information?

If you are interested in getting a little more information about LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), you can check out the IESNA (Illuminating Engineering Society of North America) Austin section meeting, which will be at Joe's Crab Shack on Riverside at 11:30. Details may be found at the local section website. Cost is $23 at the door.

Update: Somehow the word "today" got omitted from the previous paragraph, so if you're reading this message now, you've already missed the meeting. The next meeting is scheduled for March 24th.

Friday, February 13, 2009

It's Just a Jump to the Left...

One of the lesser-known provisions in the porkulus plan is the rolling back of the 1996 welfare reforms. That's right, one of the big successes of Bill Clinton's presidency is going right down the toilet. Thanks a heaping bunch, Harry Reid.

(H/T: Instapundit)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The World in Which We Live

From the gotta-see-it-to-believe-it department: Miley Cyrus apparently made a not-well-thought-out decision to make a slant-eyed gesture in a picture. So, what's the proper response? Why, sue the pants off her, of course!
TMZ reports that the Los Angeles woman, Lucie J. Kim, has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of all Asian Pacific Islanders living in Los Angeles County. And she's seeking quite a payout: $4 billion.
If there is any common sense left in the greater Los Angeles area judiciary system, this will be laughed out of court. But if it isn't...who's up for suing a bunch of Hollywood celebs for offending conservatives?

(H/T: Michelle Malkin)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, Governor Palin!

Sarah Palin turns 45 today, and we in the Snowed In family wish her all the best in the coming year.

(Hat tip: Alex Raye for the picture, for pointing me to it)

Where not to spend your next vacation

Looking for a nice place to visit in Texas? Don't visit Tenaha.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

By far the dumbest spam I've received this week

Yeah, the Secretary of Homeland Security is not only going to e-mail me, but she's going to get: 1) her area code wrong; 2) her name wrong; and 3) her grammar wrong. Whatever:

U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528
Tel: 1-206-xxx-xxxx or 206-xxx-xxxx
Fax: 1-206-xxx-xxxx or 206-xxx-xxxx
Attn: Beneficiary,
My name Mrs. Janet Napolitano I was sworn in on January 21, 2009 as the third Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Prior to joining the Obama Administration, I was mid-way through her second term as governor of the state of Arizona. While governor, I became the first woman to chair the National Governors Association, where I was instrumental in creating the Public Safety Task Force and the Homeland Security Advisors Council. I also chaired the Western Governors Association. i previously served as the Attorney General of Arizona and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona. I want you to please get back to me and contact Mr. Paul Smith for the release of your ATM CARD. Send me Email: - [real address with "Napolitano" misspelled snipped] or call me on: - Tel: 1-206-xxx-xxxx or 206-xxx-xxxx

It gets worse from there. Apparently I need to contact the "Federal Ministry of Finance" (which, I believe, is right down the hall from the "Department of Stupid Made-Up Names") about my "ATM CARD", which I have to pay $550 to use.

CAMPO wants to hear from you

As stated in this KXAN story, CAMPO (the local transportation planning organization) is seeking input for its 2035 transportation plan. In addition, CAMPO's main page has a link to a survey on proposed amendments to the 2008-2011 Transportation Improvement Plan (there are four; the biggest one for most people will be the completion of the Ben White/I-35 interchange). Go check into these and give CAMPO your feedback.

More Stimulus Concerns

Over 200,000 Americans have now signed the petition at, which states:

“Congress should not enact an expensive spending bill under the pretense of stimulus or recovery. We cannot spend our way to prosperity, and such an expansion of the federal government will put a crushing burden on taxpayers in the long-term.”

More than anything, as I've said before, there is a lot of money tucked into the bill that seems mostly to be a Democratic Party wish list than an economic stimulus. Yes, there is some money that will go toward "shovel-ready" projects (such as this list of road projects in the Austin area), but most of it appears more to be either a handout to Democratic supporters or an unnecessary expansion of the federal government.

And then, on top of what's been covered here and elsewhere, there are some questionable health provisions in this bill (courtesy Betsy McCaughey/Bloomberg):

One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions...

I don't know about anyone else, but the idea that government will be guiding my doctor's decisions doesn't sit well with me. Given that our current medical system needs a paradigm shift to begin with (from treating symptoms to encouraging whole-body wellness), I worry that this will reduce the amount of thought put into treating difficult issues. Ms. McCaughey points to former future HHS Secretary Tom Daschle as the architect of these ideas, using a philosophy that "doctors have to give up autonomy and 'learn to operate less like solo practitioners.'" Mr. Daschle's viewpoints on this area are rather scary:

[Daschle] praises Europeans for being more willing to accept “hopeless diagnoses” and “forgo experimental treatments,” and he chastises Americans for expecting too much from the health-care system.

Oh, good, so my friends with MS and migraines and other things that are not so easily treated should just learn to live with their problems? No, thanks.

It's this kind of hidden item that makes it imperative for people to read this bill before it's too late.

Neal Boortz has summed up this whole rushed process. While Mr. Boortz is definitely not a fan of President Obama (and his summary is admittedly colored with this bias), it's worth a read.

KXAN on Stimulus: Balance Needed

Dear KXAN Austin News:

Could you really not find anyone on the street in Austin who doesn't support the so-called "economic stimulus"? As seen here, KXAN showed man-on-the-street interviews with a whopping two people, both of whom thought that the stimulus bill in its current form (or, as it's been called by others, "porkulus", "spendulus", etc.) would work to restore what has been talked up to be an economy in the worst crisis since the Great Depression.

KXAN, you know I love you guys, Jim Spencer's occasional tendency to panic about the weather notwithstanding. (I've met Jim Spencer; he's a nice guy.) But could we strive for balance in these types of stories? Yeah, I'd imagine the majority of blue-city Austin supports the plan, but there are people who don't think this bill is such a great idea. Me, for one. I know I get hits on this blog from you guys at KXAN; let's talk sometime.