Archive for July, 2011

McClintock on the Debt Crisis

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Perhaps this is why my left-winger friends (and crazy strangers on the innernets) and I cannot manage to come to agreement; it’s got to do with the crazy way I see things, and the way I see ‘em is like this:

Imagine a family that earns $50,000 a year but is spending more than $88,000 with a credit card balance of $330,000. The discussions around the kitchen table are likely to be a little tense.

Proportionally, that’s where Washington’s finances are today, and that’s why the national discussion is a little tense, too.

Even these figures belie the magnitude of the fiscal crisis. Shutting down the entire federal government and firing every federal employee is no longer enough to balance the budget. Mandatory spending – mainly entitlements – consumes more than the government takes in.

As I understand the argument from the left, there is no disagreement here but there is no agreement either. You’ll notice their talking points seem to be — as always — tailored for presentation to emotionally excitable people who aren’t familiar with the actual numbers. Here, let me roughly paraphrase: Forget everything else, we must raise the debt limit because if we don’t it will lead to a some vague, terrible crisis. So since it’s clear what we must do today, everything else is just a red herring.

I’ll not disagree with that. But it does seem to me we were just at this party. Must bail out the savings and loans. Must pass the stimulus. Must pass ObamaCare. Must put cash-for-clunkers into effect. Must, must, must, must — don’t they get tired of that word? This isn’t Europe yet!

We are due for a downgrade to our credit, and ours would be very painful. In fact, we may have exhausted an extension on that, because of the magnitude an the intensity of the pain such a downgrade would cause.

I guess my point of disagreement is — who’s the extremist here? Kick the can down the road, because facing our come-uppin’s would lead to disaster. Don’t cut anything; borrow more; when some jackass politician comes along with a new plan to spend more money — oh, don’t tell me, let me guess it will have something to do with this “crisis” or some new crisis with a heavy overlap with this one — it’ll just be business as usual, right?

Both sides agree we’re in such a deep hurt it will get worse before it gets better. So…because it will get worse before it gets better, start extricating ourselves from this mess sometime later?

I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but this is a numbers issue and that makes numbers important. Fifty grand, versus three hundred thirty grand? Deal with it some other time because there is pain involved? And that makes sense because there’s a crisis?

Who’s the adult, here? Who’s the child?

Update: More concisely-worded learnings:

The president is likening the government shutdown that would follow failure to raise the debt limit to that which took place in 1995-96. But in those years, there was a prohibition against spending money Congress had not yet appropriated. Now it’s perfectly legal to spend any money that comes into the Treasury; there just won’t be as much of it, because the debt limit will preclude further borrowing. The president still can fund any 60 percent of the government he wants (the proportion that comes from tax revenues).

In his speech to the nation Monday night, Obama used tricky words to camouflage these obvious facts. He no longer spoke of defaulting on money we owe, but instead used the more vague phrase “defaulting on our obligations.” By that he means our obligations to the bureaucrats, not to our creditors.

Ultimately, whatever merit is involved in the democrats’ argument that the debt limit must must must be raised or there will be crisis crisis crisis, comes down to this: The “must” must win the day, because the crisis is far greater than we can manage to afford.

Um…if the mistake we’re about to make has to do with biting off more than we can chew, isn’t that a mistake we have made already? What did Will Rogers say about when you’re in a hole?

“Dumb Stuff I Think People Think”

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Sonic Charmer wants to start a DSITPT list. I hope he does. He came up with one item and I came up with an addition to sort of prime the pump.

A third item: It is a pleasurable experience to listen to rap music. I can’t understand this for the life of me. How is it people are fooled into thinking something is fun, when it’s designed to try to give them migraines? Why would you want to listen to music produced by someone who is trying to hurt you?

When you read an Ayn Rand novel, it’s hard to get through those pages without drawing a conclusion that the woman who wrote it is angry at you for reading her book, and is going to drag you through bad dialogue in order to get even with you. It’s a turn-off…but, at least, when you’re done with it you’re given something to think about. Something that might potentially expand your mind, make you curious about things, if you can understand what she’s trying to say. We can safely rule that out as a possibility with rap music, because it’s repetitious by its very nature and definition. Listening to it is, fundamentally, a non-edifying exercise in entertainment. What you know at the end of it is equal to what you know when you start it, except at the end of it your head is throbbing painfully. In fact, does it end? I’ve never heard a rap song actually end.

We digress.

Another item for DSITPT would be: Young children, girls especially, need to be taught to identify what it is they like, and then they need to be taught to show assertiveness as they insist on getting it.

For pity fuck’s sake, who’s the blistering asshole who got this started? I’d like to strangle him with his own intestines. News flash for you…BABIES…fresh out of the womb…know all there is to know about identifying what it is they want, and then showing assertiveness as they insist on getting it. It’s burned into the ROM, you might say. Kids don’t need to be taught this.

Memo For File CXLI

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

I have said before, and the schedule does not permit any rummaging through the archives for a link, that many of our modern problems have to do with certain charismatic individuals assuming mantles of real authority when they are not only inexperienced in making sensible decisions, but powerfully motivated toward making non-sensical ones. If the solution to a problem is only too obvious, say for example Orwell’s simple equation of two and two make four; then some of the charisma would have to be sacrificed in providing the correct answer of four. Four is what an ordinary person would say. To those whose position has been defined and perhaps created due to an illusion of their uniqueness, four is therefore out of the question because it would injure the definition. Some flimsy justification must therefore be sought for saying three, five or ten.

In other words: We’re screwed before you even get to the liberal-versus-conservative stuff. Once we elect the “There’s Just Something About Him” types, we’re already over the cliff. We’ve already made our commitment to nonsense.

It occurs to me lately that perhaps the source of the problem is in our search for superlatives. Think of Ayn Rand’s model of the Looters and Moochers. The moochers want free stuff; they have nothing by way of products or services to offer for a barter, but they have their numbers, which means power for the looters — if the looters can acquire, and retain, the approval of the moochers. But we could survive that without a search for superlatives among the looters. If you’re a moocher, but you believe two and two make four, and you don’t want the best of the best looters, only the looter who can bring you your things at the expense of a stranger who produced it; then, you will respond to the only facts that are truly relevant in the matter of our debt problem.

They are these: Our government is committing, on an annual basis, an amount greater than the greatest it has ever taken in. The difference between current disbursements and maximum revenue is about a trillion dollars. That’s a little over a third of what the budget was a couple years ago, and a little over a fourth of what it is now.

So a committed moocher who is receptive to common sense, and applies a “pass fail” test to candidates for public office would say: Okay then. The party’s over.

But the search for superlatives involves a tournament, in which only the champion among champions will do. A looter who says “the party is not over,” obviously is superior to the looter who says that it is. Two and two make five.

A looter who says “we don’t need to cut a single thing anywhere” is better than the looter who says “the party isn’t over an we can still loot.”

The looter who says “the solution to this problem is to raise taxes on the wealthy and not cut anything,” is better than the looter who simply says we don’t need to cut anything.

The looter who says “Oh and by the way, it’s those ‘pull yourself up by your own bootstraps’ guys who made the problem in the first place” — he’s the best of them all. And so here we are: Washington, DC is stuffed lousy with ‘em.

But that doesn’t mean this is true, no matter how many times we vote on it and find that message to either triumph, or at least to resonate. That doesn’t change the facts on the ground. Two and two still make four.

And the party really is over.

The experiment may be over as well. If it isn’t, we’ve certainly found an enormous weakness in it. One well worth documenting for future civilizations who may want to try similar experiments.

Does Contessa Brewer Have a Degree in Economics?

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Never did get an answer to that one. There is none mentioned on her Wikipedia page. The mask has really slipped if she doesn’t have one.

I’m sure you’ve probably seen this by now…I never get tired of watching it, myself.

Now, to state the obvious: This is not how mature adults argue a point. And by “mature adults” I mean, if you were truly worthy of having graduated from the eighth grade. If you were not worthy but they passed you on anyway, and then you went out in the great big wide world and got some real experience, I would expect you to pick up on what follows well before age thirty…

People with degrees make the wrong call just about as often as people without. Yes, even within the studied subject matter. The question is one notch higher on the relevance scale from a complete red herring, especially if you’re discussing something that doesn’t require a degree. Like, were we headed for a depression and are we headed for one now. You don’t need a degree to sit in judgment of that.

In fact – who would I ask about whether or not we’re headed for a depression at any given time? Someone who doesn’t have a degree. For the same reason, if you want to know if a pot of water is hot, you’re better off asking someone who’s finger is in it. That would be relying on personal anecdotes, which tends to be ill-advised, but for that particular question is there any better metric?

Awesome video. Important point. Contessa Brewer is just the most stark manifestation of a brand of flawed thinking that is actually pretty widespread. Because we’re taught think this way when we’re very young, in crappy schools — here’s a narrative, learn how to parrot it, don’t do any thinking for yourself, if someone ever challenges it then don’t engage the ideas just defend the narrative.

Telling a fact apart from an opinion? Aw, that’s just for anal retentive types. Real “thinkers” just learn to mimic things. Like a baby.

Contessa Brewer syndrome. Or something.

Spenditol

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Via Burge.

Wet Blanket

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

If you’re well-informed, or even moderately-informed, you know where this is going already. We’ll start off with that particular monstrosity:

ScrewedIn March 2010, Congress passed President Obama’s health care reform legislation. The bill had appeared in serious jeopardy, and after the upset special election victory of Senator Scott Brown (R–MA), many analysts expected the bill to fail. Instead, it became law.

The law discourages employers from hiring in several ways:

• Businesses with fewer than 50 workers have a strong incentive to maintain this size, which allows them to avoid the mandate to provide government-approved health coverage or face a penalty;
• Businesses with more than 50 workers will see their costs for health coverage rise—they must purchase more expensive government-approved insurance or pay a penalty; and
• Employers face considerable uncertainty about what constitutes qualifying health coverage and what it will cost. They also do not know what the health care market or their health care costs will look like in four years. This makes planning for the future difficult.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: There is something about the modern progressive that everlastingly, stridently, viciously if necessary, opposes the concept of a sandbox. You can’t ever put one of their plans in some isolated area where its effect on people will be limited and controlled. For some reason, that’s a complete non-starter. The plan has to be implemented immediately, universally, unconditionally, involuntarily and inescapably. There can’t be any getting away from it.

I’m not in a position to opine on their concerns or their priorities — since they’re so seldom challenged on any of it.

Progressives have no response to that particular critique, by the way. Present it to them and they’ll just change the subject. More likely than not, tell you the person who came up with it is a moron and an idiot, and then say the same about you if you show any signs of receptiveness to it. But they won’t respond logically to it because there is no response. They won’t tolerate any loopholes or escape hatches or opt-in strategies or containment strategies or test-beds or anything of the like.

And here we are. Thank God I found a job before Obama was elected.

Hat tip to Boortz.

What do businesses think about the Obama administration? It’s easy to speculate on it — start with the three bullet points in the excerpt from the report, above — but you have to wait awhile to get actual confirmation on it. Recently, that has happened and it’s become something of an “Everyone else is blogging it, I might as well put ‘er up too” thing.

And yes, as you’ve heard already and it has become an obligatory statement to put in: This particular entrepreneur leans democrat.

“Change Direction”

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

I lay down these ultimatums now & then upon “people who design ads for the GOP” saying I want them fired if such-and-such isn’t mentioned. But, in truth, I believe this has already happened. The videos being put up for next year’s mad dash, are smartly put together and the content is selected with a lot of wisdom and common sense that wasn’t on display three years ago.

I find it all very encouraging. See, even with His smart speaking style, all the guilty white liberals out there chomping at the bit to vote for a black guy, and completely bowled over at the idea they could find one who doesn’t speak in Ebonics — “clean and articulate” and all that — I don’t think Barack Obama belongs where He is. I don’t think He was headed there. I think it was Republican incompetence, more than democrat competence, that put Him there.

Agree with that or not, even if the Republican incompetence was not a game-changer, it certainly was a problem. Evidence that has made its way to me, suggests the problem has been fixed. I’m cautiously optimistic.

Lord knows, the damage done from the problem existing in the first place, is high enough. I’m so glad I found a job before this guy got elected. Feel terrible for the people still out there looking.

Stuxnet

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Fascinating article circulated by one of the guys at work today. Seriously, drop everything and read it beginning to end. Couldn’t wait to e-mail it to myself for beer o’clock tonight…which it is right now.

It was January 2010, and investigators with the International Atomic Energy Agency had just completed an inspection at the uranium enrichment plant outside Natanz in central Iran, when they realized that something was off within the cascade rooms where thousands of centrifuges were enriching uranium.

Natanz technicians in white lab coats, gloves and blue booties were scurrying in and out of the “clean” cascade rooms, hauling out unwieldy centrifuges one by one, each sheathed in shiny silver cylindrical casings.

Any time workers at the plant decommissioned damaged or otherwise unusable centrifuges, they were required to line them up for IAEA inspection to verify that no radioactive material was being smuggled out in the devices before they were removed. The technicians had been doing so now for more than a month.
“We were not immune to the fact that there was a bigger geopolitical picture going on. We were definitely thinking … do I really want my name to be put on this?” – Eric Chien

Normally Iran replaced up to 10 percent of its centrifuges a year, due to material defects and other issues. With about 8,700 centrifuges installed at Natanz at the time, it would have been normal to decommission about 800 over the course of the year.

But when the IAEA later reviewed footage from surveillance cameras installed outside the cascade rooms to monitor Iran’s enrichment program, they were stunned as they counted the numbers. The workers had been replacing the units at an incredible rate — later estimates would indicate between 1,000 and 2,000 centrifuges were swapped out over a few months.

The question was, why?

Iran wasn’t required to disclose the reason for replacing the centrifuges and, officially, the inspectors had no right to ask. Their mandate was to monitor what happened to nuclear material at the plant, not keep track of equipment failures. But it was clear that something had damaged the centrifuges.

What the inspectors didn’t know was that the answer they were seeking was hidden all around them, buried in the disk space and memory of Natanz’s computers. Months earlier, in June 2009, someone had silently unleashed a sophisticated and destructive digital worm that had been slithering its way through computers in Iran with just one aim — to sabotage the country’s uranium enrichment program and prevent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from building a nuclear weapon.

But it would be nearly a year before the inspectors would learn of this. The answer would come only after dozens of computer security researchers around the world would spend months deconstructing what would come to be known as the most complex malware ever written — a piece of software that would ultimately make history as the world’s first real cyberweapon.

Age of the Bailout

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

A nice, succinct article with hard numbers in it.

President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats face in 2012 running for reelection into the stiff headwind of a terrible economy – largely of their own making.

In just the last four years, the federal government – run by a Democrat Congress since 2007, and adding a Democrat President in 2009 – has increased spending by 29%.

2007 Federal Budget: $2.73 trillion.

Note: This was the last all Republican budget – the House, Senate and White House were at the time all run by the Rs.

2011 Federal Budget: $3.82 trillion.

Note: This is an estimated total. Because the Democrats that were at the time running the House, Senate and White House didn’t write a budget – because they were afraid to go on the record with how much they actually wanted to spend in advance of the 2010 election.

Meaning – it could have been WORSE.

That is a $1.09 trillion increase – in just the last four years.

Behold the nation’s third Age of Bailout.

And the resulting Age of Bailout economy has been – atrocious.

Now, some people tell me I should be more open to the other side, I shouldn’t automatically presume people are irrational just because they lean left.

Okay, tell you what. I will believe in rational liberals when I see liberals behaving rationally. Here’s how someone would behave if he leaned left, but functioned as a creature of logic and common sense: He’d say, okay this didn’t work.

I do not demand or expect an overnight conversion. The liberal can go ahead and believe in Keynesian economics if he wants to. But he would say: We are going to pull this off the production floor, now. We are going to put this in a laboratory setting and tinker with it until we get it right. We are gong to start working with hard numbers…maybe we’ll designate a state, one friendly to the left-wing agenda (there’s no shortage of ‘em)…and try out this “shot in the arm for the economy” thing within the borders of that state. If ever that works, we’ll arrive at a percentage and we’ll make a reappearance on the national stage with our revised, tested plan.

If you happen to be receptive to the Age of the Bailout, if you happen to like centralized economic planning and you really think that is the hope for the future, that is the next logical move.

And I’m sorry, I don’t see anyone saying or proposing anything close to that here. Hey don’t blame me. I’m not the one making the situation. I’m just noticing.

“Not Brokeback Enough”

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

One of my Facebook friends is a political “moderate,” although I notice his rapier-like wit lances is one direction only. He straddles an awkward divide. I think a fair statistical sampling of his values would find him to be mostly conservative, but an equally fair statistical sampling of his humor would it to be mostly left-wing, and often lacking in jocularity. You know the kind. “Wouldn’t it be fun to imagine so-and-so said such-and-such, let’s laugh anyway because you just know she would even if she hasn’t.”

I think he’s making some poor decisions about what friends he wants to keep, and doing what it takes to keep them. That is often the first step over the cliff. Now & then, against my better judgment, I extend a helpful hand to keep him from sliding further.

Today’s controversy is the implied maxim that people who aspire to chase the gay away, are full of hate. I really have a tough time with this. I know what hate is; when it meets up with action, it is abandonment. If the option of abandonment is somehow closed off, then it hate becomes an effort to out-and-out destroy. Either way, it is rejection. It isn’t an attempt to convert. It certainly cannot be an abundant expenditure of energy, toward a conversion. Why work that hard for something you hate?

Bachmann Cures GaySo when I saw this

…and those of you with a Facebook account will see, it’s one of those make-believe indictments — “got tired of waiting for her to say something dumb, so I’m gonna go ahead and invent it” — but hey, it’s humor, and it’s something believable right?…

…I just had to respond with:

I’d much rather have my house watched over a long weekend by someone who thinks he can make gay kids straight, than by someone who thinks he can tax & spend the nation into solvency.

My former work colleague had by this time surrounded himself with lots of open-minded, left-of-center twenty-somethings, so my comment was greeted with lots of tolerance.

Well, I suppose I shouldn’t go there. A dialogue ensued between myself and a nice young lady named Nichol, who with great and obvious difficulty managed to remain civil. Which must have meant she “got” it — had she gone all angry-Alan-Alda, she’d have been unable to accuse the other side of going negative first. I think she knew I was right. But she showed no more conscious sign than that, and wasn’t ready to concede the point. An attempt to convert is hate, you can’t claim to have expunged hate from your heart until you join the latest civil rights struggle. Simple as that.

But there was one other criticism thrown at me for which I had a great deal more sympathy: Threadjacking. What does taxing and spending have to do with hating these — er, I mean, disapproving of these people who want to convert homosexuals? Why is this Freeberg character throwing in this topic drift?

I could, with a little effort, be persuaded to plead guilty, Your Honor.

At least, until I saw what Kate put up at Small Dead Animals:

Now is the time at SDA when we juxtapose!

Obama Administration, July 18, 2011Neither setting arbitrary spending levels nor amending the Constitution is necessary to restore fiscal responsibility.

Fox News, July 18, 2011The federal government helped fund a study that examined what effect a gay man’s penis size has on his sex life and general well-being.

Perhaps, in our new Grecian economy, the Year of the Queer has become a luxury we can no longer financially afford. Not that I expect the “tolerant” spendthrifts to get it.

Is our popular modern fad of phony tolerance linked to matters regarding our national solvency? Perhaps the most accurate answer to that one is “Yes, but it shouldn’t be.” I cannot prove it, but I believe if we had it all to do over again, and nobody needed to do anything to outwardly display their compassion, open-mindedness, their tolerance — we would, today, be in much better financial shape.

There’d probably be a lot more tolerance, too.

One More Little Thing on the Debt Limit Talks

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Not much optimism, lots of justified pessimism.

I’ve made this point on the Hello Kitty of Blogging a few times but I’ve yet to make it here: As we continue our decades-long argument over whether it’s good to let government completely sprawl out of control, at the federal level, until it’s spending up a storm and managing the most intimate facets of our lives — I would expect a reasonably competent child to be able to tell me how we can & cannot define success and failure for the nanny state enterprise. I would expect such a child, if he’s not mentally deficient, to explain that we can’t define failure according to a left-wing nanny-state politician ‘fessing up “Sorry folks! My idea didn’t work! My bad!”

Because that’s not gonna happen. Ever.

Failure is what we see right now. “The problem with socialism,” as Margaret Thatcher said (paraphrased), “is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” That’s what failure looks like for the anytime-we’re-broke-it’s-the-taxpayer’s-fault school of thought.

And it’s not just here. We have dozens of large, dense cities in this country…perhaps hundreds…that have been run, decade in and decade out, by solid, unbreakable blocs of hard, strident “tax the rich” left-wingers. I daresay each and every single one offers an economic situation not distinguishably different from this one: Paralysis due to debt, umptyfratz-many entrenched agencies all screaming the same thing, “my budget isn’t big enough!” And the debt talks. Some sad sack welfare cases trotted in from the sidewalks, so the pressure can be brought to bear on the decision-makers — borrow more! Get the money from somewhere, so Edna doesn’t have to choose between pills and cat food!

And the “debt talks” meander onward. For you and me, that’s called bankruptcy.

Government gets to blame someone else. That’s the definition, really. Can’t screw up when you’re in government. It’s those terrible, awful, horrible rich people for not paying their fair share.

Everyone else has to skimp and scrape and cut corners and make do. Government gets to spend what it likes. And maybe it will lead to…oh, no, there’s no maybe about it, is there? The results are clearly consistent. We’re looking at ‘em.

There You Go Again

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Sometimes, Politico writes up their articles by copying word-for-word from the democrats’ press releases. This would be one of those times.

Turning right with a vengeance, Republicans will bring to the House floor Tuesday a newly revised debt-ceiling bill that is remarkable for its total absence of compromise at this late date, two weeks before the threat of default.

Final revisions made Friday submerge conservative demands to reduce all federal spending to 18 percent of gross domestic product — a target that threatened to split the GOP by requiring far deeper cuts than even the party’s April budget. But Republican congressional leaders still want a 10-year, $1.8 trillion cut from nondefense appropriations and have added a balanced-budget constitutional amendment that so restricts future tax legislation that even President Ronald Reagan might have opposed it in the 1980s. [emphasis mine]

Ah, yes. WWRD? was just at the front of my lobes. That’s the question that really matters, right? Channel the spirit of our departed 40th President, and all will be well. That’s the common sense thing to do!

No, it isn’t. It is something the democrats have figured out might help their cause and so we get to hear about it over and over again. Et tu, Politico?

As a budget compromise between the parties remains elusive, Democrats are turning to a conservative icon to guide the way to a debt-ceiling increase.

President Obama and Democrats in Congress have begun pointing out that President Ronald Reagan pushed to raise the debt ceiling nearly twenty times during his presidency.

“Ronald Reagan worked with [Democratic Speaker] Tip O’Neill and Democrats to cut spending, raise revenues and reform Social Security,” Obama said Saturday in his weekly address, noting that “that kind of cooperation should be the least you expect from us.”

In press conferences, floor speeches, and interviews recently, Democrats have cited Reagan’s support for raising the debt ceiling in arguing to raise the debt ceiling now.

Good ol’ democrats; where do they get off calling anyone extreme? About anything? In their world, if something’s worth doing once, it’s worth doing fifty gazillion times.

July 12: “And they only come together if each side is willing to give, the way Ronald Reagan did and Tip O’Neill did, the way Bill Clinton did and Newt Gingrich did, and many of their predecessors in American history.”

July 7: “The consequences of that – as Ronald Reagan believed, as President Obama believes – would be significant and unpredictable and in no way positive.”

July 5: “I will spare you, because I know it’s late in the day and you’re on deadline, reading again the letter from President Reagan.”

June 30: “And I think that, again, it’s always worth reminding those lawmakers on the Hill who think somehow that this is a game, that President Ronald Reagan did not think so.”

June 27: “And I don’t have the letter from President Reagan or the one from Treasury Secretary Baker from the past to cite again today. But this is a position that has been held by many of both parties in the past, including, obviously, the Reagan administration.”

So cute. Oh, I guess that settles it. Let’s all go away now and let the democrats spend as much as they like! For the Gipper!

Well gee; I’m not a democrat, so let’s accommodate me and use a little bit of common sense here instead of reacting to mantras and monikers. Just skim over the curve in the chart presented here and tell me: Viewing our debt limit “progress” from this thirty thousand foot level…do you give a rat’s ass what Ronald Reagan had to say about the debt limit in the 1980′s?

Click image for larger.

It’s unnecessary to say so on a word-for-word basis, to anyone possessing the skill and talent needed to, uh — read a curve on a graph. But obviously this is not a slam against Ronald Reagan, or his decision-making prowess. It’s just a different situation. The numbers are different; the slope is different; the drunkenness on spending, the abuse of power, the indebtedness of future generations, they’re all different.

Also there was some back-stabbing going on in the 1980s. Lessons learned, and all that.

What is the definition of “learning” in psychology? “A non-instinctive behavioral change.” There’s been some learning happening here…a little learning, and a whole lot of spending.

So spare me the virtual seances about what Ronald Reagan would do. I’m not even ready to accept the initial premise, that Reagan would lobby for a debt increase in 2011; Ronald Reagan was capable of learning things too.

Update: My link file includes an article at Heritage.org, examining the federal government’s history of revenue as a percentage of GDP since World War II. As you can see from the first big chart to come up, restricting all federal spending to eighteen percent doesn’t seem like a bad idea at all — it’s never taken in much more than that.

And no, tax rates have not remained static during that time; far from it. It’s a lot of years going by with a lot of different revenue policies in place, and at some point you have to declare you’ve accumulated the experience necessary to figure out what’s going on here. Yeah, eighteen points does seem to be close to our limit, the only question now is, are we committed to living within our means?

Let’s get out our candles and crystal balls, and see what the departed Great Communicator would have to say about that. Not very much of an open question, is it?

Obama Carter Remix

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

So many people to thank for helping to find this. Melissa, Ace, Mediaite, Wizbang.

Many years ago, one within my extended family had some financial difficulties and we all needed to gather around and see what we could do about the problem. There was precious little going on by way of historical inspection to see how the mess was created in the first place; the prevailing viewpoint was that this was counterproductive, we couldn’t think back on things we could only think forward.

That would work fine if life was always linear. But as any mature adult knows, life is not linear. We are not that perfect. It is, in fact, our tendency to go around in circles. The less your navigator knows about what he is doing, the tighter the circle is — and, the more stubborn and jackassed the navigator becomes as he insists the course is linear, can’t-go-back-can-only-go-forward, all we can do now is everything we can to resolve the present crisis.

Our circle is very tight right now. When’s the last pressing crisis we had to solve without looking back? There have been quite a few of them since 2008, haven’t there. Shared sacrifice…can’t turn our thermostats to 72 degrees…

It’s the electorate’s fault, ultimately. We’re supposed to be voting in people who will collect the taxes and apply the receipts in a responsible way, so the vital services are provided and the government stays solvent at the end of it. Instead, we’re voting for whoever can give the most palliative speech after the coffers have been looted. Can we just admit to that much? That has become the job description, because our voters have made that the job description. Everything that happened after that, was inevitable.

De-Funding the Light Bulb Ban

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

Those of you trying to figure out if the Republican party has done anything for you lately, William Teach has something for you to read. Make of it what you will — but it’s interesting that he had to pull it in from across the Atlantic.

Funny how this news was lost in the shuffle Friday, and I had to go to a British newspaper to find out

Republicans claimed to have struck a blow for freedom on Friday when the House of Representatives voted to strip all funding from government programmes promoting energy-saving lightbulbs.

The measure, brought as an amendment to an energy spending bill by the Texas Republican Michael Burgess, bars the federal government from using any funds to enforce improved lighting efficiency standards.

In his remarks, Burgess cast the conservation of the old-fashioned 100 watt lightbulb as a burning issue of personal freedom.

“The federal government has no right to tell me or any other citizen what type of lightbulb to use at home. It is our right to choose,” he told the House.

Obama and Senate Democrats have already stated that they prefer to come down on the side of Big Government and reduced freedoms, and will not support the measure.

Friday was my birthday. <grin>

Thought exercise: Suppose there is another universe in which, for people to vote in governments that would regulate their technological advancements, violates the laws of physics. Somehow. It simply cannot be done and is therefore not even worth discussing, nevermind how people would feel about it. Just go with it, okay? It’s a thought exercise.

Obviously, libertarians and conservatives envision that such a thing would look like Jetsons, and liberals think it would look like Flintstones. That’s not the thought exercise. The thought exercise is — why? Why would this look like the Flintstones? Why would civilizations within such a universe, in which government is forced to allow technology to advance in whatever way it will, unmolested — be any less sophisticated or advanced than their counterparts in this universe, in which it butts in whenever the ballot box allows it to?

Spare me the anecdotes about “Al Gore voted to fund ARPANET which became the Internet.” I know, I know…progs will massage and twist the truth around, making it look like beltway politicians gave us everything we value, while the computer scientists and engineers who actually figured out how the ring and bus and star topologies work, I guess they just sat around waiting for the decisions to be made and carried pens around in their pockets. I mean, walk me through it. You have people who don’t have to work within a budget, ever — bossing around the people who do have to work within a budget. People who don’t produce, handing down hard-and-fast edicts and pronouncements upon people who do produce things. We’d miss that if it was gone, huh?

It’s time, right now — in the midst of these “debt ceiling talks” — for a sense of perspective. The private sector does have its share of scumbags…it’s got people working in it, and that’s the way people are. We are all flawed sons and daughters of Adam. But in business, everything is your fault, all the time. No, really. If you have a spiffy new business plan that calls for hiring people and you’ve checked your math and checked it again…then Obama passes a new monstrosity of a health care bill and it costs more to hire people and your plan is scuttled…that’s your fault. You should have foreseen the possibility and built in a contingency plan. If the customers choose not to buy your product, because they have another option that became available while your product was in development, that is also your fault. Everything is your fault when you’re in business.

In government, nothing is your fault. Ever. Ask yourself: How do we know if the big-government way is wrong? What events can we observe that would demonstrate to us that this fails? And the answer, as any fifth grader should be able to tell you, is not some big-government politician saying “Whoops, that wasn’t the right way to go, sorry about that.” That isn’t going to happen. President Obama cracking a lame joke about shovel-ready jobs, is about as close as you’re ever going to get.

No, the litmus test for failure is what we’re seeing right now. What we see now, is what we need to see to prove that people who are not forced to work within budgets…don’t work within budgets. They spend what they like to spend, and when they run out of money it’s the taxpayer’s fault for not partaking in the “shared sacrifice.” It’s the fault of those awful businesses for not paying “their fair share.”

It leads to these “sit-downs,” these “negotiations,” these “debt talks.” You and I would call it “bankruptcy court.” It means you fucked up, didn’t live within your means, got taken for a ride. Yeah, you have to wait awhile for someone to point out the obvious, when it comes to the federal government. It means the model that was implemented, doesn’t really work.

I think my “Freedomverse” would work just fine. Productive people already understand what needs to be done to get things produced. It’s their nature; they are adhering to a nature linked to the definition of their class. And people whose job it is to boss other people around, don’t care about production, they just care about bossing people around. They, too, are adhering to a certain nature that is linked to the definition of their class.

Government creates “standards” for our light bulbs? Pffft. Yeah, you can’t go straight back to the Founding Fathers and get their opinions about it; they didn’t know what light bulbs were. But get real, they were pretty bright. The concept isn’t that complicated. Thomas Jefferson, I think I could get it across to him in twenty seconds or less.

And then, “Oh by the way Messrs. Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton, Jay, Madison, one other little thing…our fed wants to tell us how to build the light bulbs.” They’d be cool with that? Seriously?

Yeah, this is the part where your foaming-at-the-mouth lefty starts screaming about how they all held slaves or something. Suddenly, the Founders don’t know shit. Good ol’ lefties, if it weren’t for double standards they’d have no standards at all.

It’s the rest of us who have to meet their standards, huh?

Closer to Crypt Than Crib

Friday, July 15th, 2011

…and that, folks, is an iron-clad guarantee, as of today. Forty-five, and chugging along with out so much as the slightest hint of any need for this:

Yep, I’ll make do just fine without…corrective eyewear. I have no need for it at all. Nobody knows why…I rise before the birds do, make coffee, respond to my e-mails and do some serious blogging. Most days, anyway. Then I yell at my kid like I’m the Great Santini or something, shower shave & go to work and read technical specs all day long…drive home…do more reading. I keep it up until it’s time to call it a day, then I go back, Jack, and do it again. No contacts, no lenses.

Dad said before 45 I’d wake up some terrible morning and find it impossible to bring the bedroom ceiling into focus, and that would be it. Well, it hasn’t happened.

I have no dietary staple I can recommend to anyone. Except maybe beer.

No, honestly I have no clue. Only thing I can figure is, maybe I’m the very most senior of the new generation that does a lot of reading but not much of it from paper. That’s my very best theory, and I’m not putting a lot of stock in it.

Yeah, I was talking about reading glasses. What did ya think?

Two Rules

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

After 2 or 3 days, I’ve settled on the idea that this should make the cut, after all:

A Washington Post journalist on the scene confirmed the first lady, who’s made a cause out of child nutrition, ordered a ShackBurger, fries, chocolate shake and a Diet Coke while the street and sidewalk in front of the usually-packed Shake Shack were closed by security during her visit.

According to nutritional information on Shake Shack’s Web site, the meal amounted to 1,700 calories.

Hat tip to Weasel Zippers.

Hardcore-lefty blogger Pandagon predictably takes the Officer Barbrady Move Along Nothing to See Here approach.

And my initial inclination is to agree. Eating healthy, after all, doesn’t have anything to do with complete and total abstinence. Besides, Michelle is just being a bossy bitch, a hypocrite and something of a glutton; we can put up with that all day long. Her husband is wrestling with a debt crisis measuring 14 trillion big-uns from stem to stern, and His answer to the problem is to spend more & spend faster. Clearly, He is causing more damage than she is.

But I decided it should be discussed, after all, because when the voters vote a certain way, issues that would otherwise be unimportant, become important. Doesn’t matter if it makes sense. If it all boiled down to how much sense things make, there wouldn’t be any liberals to worry about.

You resolve to do your civic duty and pay attention to this stuff, you lose touch with the people who don’t pay attention. That’s north of ninety percent, estimating conservatively. Most voters don’t pay attention.

Most voters tolerate liberalism.

Right up until you reckon with the two rules. You know what I mean by that: The one rule for them, the other rule for you.

Michelle Obama’s pork-fest had nothing at all to do with an occasional indulgence. It had to do with seeing things she likes to eat, ordering them up, and eating them…which she’s allowed to do, and others are not. Yes, she does think she’s better than anybody else. She’s a liberal. It’s in the job description. See, there’s this problem over here…or something happened…or there’s an anecdote someone has to tell…or there is a perception that someone might possibly get hurt…so we needs us a new rule. Or a program. Or a new agency. Or an agency to oversee a program or a program to provide a new rule, or a new rule about programs…or something. Regulations. People who like them call them “standards,” people who don’t like them call them “restrictions.”

But — say the liberals — that’s for everybody else. Not me. I know which way is up, and what’s what.

I decided to go ahead and blog it, because of the power of food. Miraculous things happen when liberals meet up with food. See, if there is harm being done because people are eating the wrong food, there is some difficulty involved in measuring that. Yeah you step on the scale and it registers higher than you like, that’s measurable — but why exactly? Can you blame any one part of your diet for it? It’s more likely to be a lack of exercise.

Never accuse a liberal of being afraid to act for lack of knowledge, though. They always know plenty enough to hand down some new rules. And if your name isn’t Michelle Obama, there will be no “occasional indulgences” about it. None at all. Rules is rules. Did you hear Michelle Obama say something about permitting yourself the occasional 1,700-calorie indulgence when she was planting that vegetable garden? Me neither.

You see, a 1,700-calorie occasional indulgence is fun. Fun isn’t for you. Fun is for them. Well okay, when they get caught having their fun and there’s some kind of a hoop-de-doo about it and they’re forced to dish out some pablum to make the hoop-de-doo go away, they’ll grant that you’re supposed to have your fun too…and you’re a blithering idiot for ever having dared to think otherwise. They’ll get into their “I never said” mode and start their hair-splitting, reliable as a sunrise. But when the idea is first proposed — no. You are supposed to leave your bagged or boxed lunch at home, kids, because your parents can’t be trusted. Line up, grab a tray, get your half-pound of government-regulated mystery-meat glop, five days a week. Who knows whether it’s good or bad — someone has counted the grams of protein and the calories and made a point of mentioning the artificial coloring…nobody really knows how healthy it is, or even if it’s healthy at all, science doesn’t really know. But if it isn’t healthy, all the kids are equally partaking in equally healthy stuff. That’s the important thing. Equal, equal, equal.

For you. Not for me.

So yes, I think Pandagon has a point. It is possible to eat in a healthy way, and still share a mega-calorie lunch with Michelle O (if she thinks you’re good enough to breathe her oxygen). But Main Street needs to be reminded of this ugly streak liberals have, of their “do as I say and not as I do” attitude. It’s important because it doesn’t play in Peoria. Main Street takes a dim view of it; as it should.

It all comes down to this: They’re planning a future for the rest of us, and it isn’t good enough for them, just for the rest of us. They, left to their own devices, wouldn’t want to live in what they’re building.

Does anything else matter as much as that does?

Yes, Republican ad-makers, my customary ultimatum/reprimand applies once again: I want to see some commercials about this, or else some among you should be fired. It’s important.

“That’s Who He Is”

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Wasn’t President Obama supposed to be an antidote to the poison of President Bush? And wasn’t Bush supposed to fall short of the demands of the office because he was a simplistic, simian dolt who lacked the sophistication to think in nuanced, non-absolute terms? Wasn’t there a movie about this?

Anakin Skywalker: If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy.
Obi-Wan Kenobi: Only a Sith deals in absolutes…I will do what I must.
Anakin Skywalker: You will try…

We’ve got the “simian” problem licked, because Barack Obama doesn’t resemble a monkey or a chimpanzee nearly as much as George Bush did; if He did, you wouldn’t be allowed to point it out because hey, He’s a black guy and that would be racist. But he doesn’t. So that’s good. That takes care of simian. But what about simplistic and dolt? What about the thinking in absolute terms? The failure to capture nuances?

Not doing so hot there, chief…

He is the Man Who Won’t Listen to Anybody, so why should anybody listen to him?
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The biggest media myth is that he is a centrist. Oh, please. It’s a theory without evidence, for there is not a single example on domestic issues where he voluntarily staked out a spot in the American middle.

Sure, on occasion, Obama will be to the right of the far, far left, but that is not the center. That just means he’s not Michael Moore.

Nor is he a centrist because he’ll make a deal under duress with Republicans, as he did last December. All politicians have a pragmatic streak, otherwise they couldn’t get anything done in a divided government.

But Obama’s default statist position remains unmolested by facts or last year’s landslide that was a rebuke to his first two years. He continues to push bigger and bigger government, higher and higher taxes and more and more welfare programs.
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His only concession to public will is to pretend he’s got religion about the fiscal problems and wants a “big deal.” What he really wants is to get through the election.
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He can never be wrong. You always are, unless you agree with him.

That’s the story of his presidency. That’s who he is.

It may not seem possible, but I can get even more scathing and critical than this: That’s who He will always be, guaranteed. You take someone like me, or someone who produces gasoline or purified drinking water or gallons of milk or bags of flour…or who builds cars that run, bridges that support cars, tarmacs that support airplanes…tell any one of us “I want you to think and act like Barack Obama for a week.” We can do it. We’ll have to take time off work since you can’t produce anything that way, but we’ll be able to do it. Can’t go the other way, though. Step One of producing something that actually works, is to ask questions. Step Two is to get ready to find out something you’re not necessarily ready to know. That’s after you have accumulated the requisite skills, which you do by asking a whole lot more questions, and getting ready to learn a whole lot more things you’re not necessarily ready to know.

Enough about Barack Obama. Like Michael Goodwin said — it’s not worth the trouble to find out what He’s thinking, when He doesn’t care what anybody else has to say. He’s just not a likely repository of useful information; and the “likely” is being extraordinarily charitable, since if there’s any one question that has been examined within all of the human condition over the last four years, to the extent it’s been given a thorough reaming, that question would have to be “What has Barack Obama got to say about things?”

Let’s stop criticizing Him for a second. He is our President, after all. Instead, let’s go after the people who pushed Him on us, persuaded some among us to vote for Him, and then of course voted for Him themselves. As a remedy to the problem of having a chief executive who was such an absolutist-minded, Sith-thinking, simplistic-simian-dolt.

You people suck at coming up with answers to problems, you know that? You really do. It’s an insult to people who suck at things to say you suck at it.

When I ponder the idea that you might have been on to something, when you said the world is far too complex to offer problems that could be managed properly under the stewardship of a man who thinks in all-or-nothing terms — that, ironically, is the precise moment where I lose hope in anything getting better under the watchful eye of your champion. Barack Obama is exactly what He said His predecessor was, because you people who supported Barack Obama are precisely what you called others. Here we are with another year and a half under the perfect awful President. If He were a machine, He would offer all the high maintenance of an extraordinarily and needlessly complicated one, and all the features of a laughably simple and incapable one. Seriously, I can’t trust Barack Obama to manage anything. Not with any confidence. If it were His place to manage the opening of a pickle jar, I’d have no reason at all to see Obama produce an opened jar of pickles. None whatsoever. I’d expect to hear a whole lot of speeches while the jar sat there, sealed up tight. That’s it. Oh yeah, every single speech would be, uh, er, um, wonderful…make no mistake. Meanwhile, George Bush would have opened the damn jar.

You people have offered up a solution, that resembles the problem you purported to solve, a lot more than the original problem ever did. And it might very well turn out to be the most expensive solution ever proposed in the history of the human race.

Nice job.

Whiskey…Tango…Foxtrot… XXI

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

From here (you may need a Hello-Kitty-of-Blogging account to view). About this.

Update: Reading some more….aw, this is just nifty…

runningman55 at 1:15 PM July 12, 2011
This woman was motivated by somthing [sic] the guy did. Probebly [sic] he cheated on her and or beat her and being much smaller than him she could not fight back. Women do not do these things for no reason. They are motivated by violence. Let this be a lesson to you guys that cheat, lie and beat your women. Treat them right and they will not do this to you.

I have nothing to add.

BULB Act Failed

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

No cute headline on this one, not here. You can go just about anywhere else to get one of those. “BULB Act burns out,” “House turns out lights on BULB Act,” etc.

Whatever. The bill failed. But details, details…

The Republican-controlled House voted 233-193 on Tuesday for the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act, which would have repealed higher energy-efficiency standards for bulbs. But the measure needed a two-thirds majority to pass.

House Republicans can still try to adopt the measure under different procedures requiring only a simple majority, but it’s unlikely it would get through the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The original legislation, signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007, requires all new bulbs to use at least 27 percent less energy than standard incandescent light bulbs. It will go into effect next year and gradually phase out traditional 100-, 75-, 60- and 40-watt incandescent bulbs by 2014.

There is a silver lining here. Remember Conquest’s Second Rule as it pertains to Congress; 233 representatives, 17 of whom are converts to the cause who previously voted in favor, recognize this was a dumbass idea. So some 54 percent recognizes this is a dumbass idea — that’s Congress — you can safely add fifteen points to that quotient to get an idea of where the electorate is leaning because, hey, it’s Congress voting on how much power Congress should have.

Not everyone is running a small business, wondering how many employees they can afford to hire with ObamaCare kicking in. But everyone’s got light bulbs. My household jumped at the opportunity to buy CFL’s because they’re cheaper — but we resented like the dickens that Congress had anything to do with the decision at all. How many more are like us?

And now the message has gone out, loud and clear, to anyone who wants to light anything up: Liberalism is like any other Faustian deal, you can get in but you can’t get out. A healthy majority of our congressmen see this was a wrong turn, and we still can’t extricate ourselves from the morass. That’s liberalism. Your first chance to reject it is also your last.

It’s good that the effort failed, in a way, because it’s highly visible. And there’s a decent chance we’ll see more examples just like this. Progressives pride themselves on finding these cute clever ways the minority can tell the majority when to jump & how high; they establish their identities this way. So they’ll continue to tell the rest of the country that lefties are in charge, doesn’t matter if the lefties are outvoted, that’s the way it’s gonna be because we’re past the commit point. It’s one of their favorite (snotty) lectures to give. I think the smarter ones understand this hurts their chances when there is, after all, an election coming up…but they just can’t help themselves. One of the defining facets of liberalism is a subjugation of rational thought, a repositioning of it so that primal urges take priority, and they’re very fond of this primal urge. Hey, we got outvoted but we won anyway! That proves we’re better!

I say, good. Keep it up. Keep going with that message that this wise, special, elite minority of sages is dragging the majority, kicking and screaming if necessary, to a better place…and we’ll thank you when it’s all over and we have the maturity to see you were right all along. Go to town on that one, liberals. Put it up in a brightly lit sign.

Oh, I mean a mercury-filled CFL sign, with lots of special pain-in-the-ass cleanup procedures for us to follow if it ever shatters. Whatever. Just make sure that’s your campaign slogan next year. Can’t wait to see how it shakes out.

“I Don’t Care About Your Disability”

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

One more time I have to ask: Why do we keep pretending? Why do we persist in this belief that modern liberalism is something we all know darn good and well it isn’t? The meanest woman in Congress is a hardcore extreme-leftist democrat…as if it could ever be any other way.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s former legislative director is suing the Democratic congresswoman, claiming she made “humiliating” comments about her vision disability while refusing to do anything to accommodate her.

At one point, the lawsuit claims, the congresswoman told her: “I don’t care anything about your disability.”
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The suit states that Floyd suffers from “monocular vision,” causing eye fatigue and reducing reading speed — symptoms that worsen without adequate rest during the day.

Floyd claims that after she came to work for Jackson Lee as legislative director and chief counsel in early 2010, the congresswoman did not follow through on a pledge from her office to “accommodate her disability.”

She specifically claimed the congresswoman piled her with reading assignments, often forcing her to work from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. without breaks to get it all done. Floyd claimed she was rebuffed when she asked for more time to rest her eyes. In April 2010, the suit claims, Jackson Lee told her, “It should not take 10 years to get them done,” in reference to a reading assignment.

This isn’t an isolated incident, we see it over and over. They’re good; anybody who is ever in conflict with them, for any reason at all, or is merely in the way, is bad. It’s a peculiar behavior to witness from ideologues determined to re-make society into a level playing field, on which all players are the same.

That’s because this isn’t what they want. They want differences. They want a land of Eloi and Morlochs. They want social stratification, they want elite clubs. They want to have someone of much lower status give them whatever they’re demanding right now. And they want a special pass so they can pop right up to the front of the line, while everyone who isn’t quite as special as they are, waits.

They are precisely what they tell us conservatives are.

All the posturing about non-discrimination and equal-rights and standing-up-for-the-less-fortunate, is nothing more than a gimmick. A cheap gimmick, used to display something about a false inner decency; which, if it were genuine, would eliminate the need for any such gimmick. That’s why it isn’t quite so reckless to generalize. If you really believed in all men, women and children being equal, a modern liberal is not what you’d be.

Hat tip to Jammie Wearing Fool, by way of Instapundit.

How We Did It Last Time

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Peter Ferarra:

President Obama and the Democrats argue that any debt limit deal to reduce federal deficits and debt needs to be balanced between spending reductions and tax increases. But as I show in my new book, “America’s Ticking Bankruptcy Bomb,” that is not how we did it the last time we balanced the budget, in the 1990s.

The Republican congressional majorities elected in 1994 were greeted in February, 1995 with then President Clinton’s new budget projecting continued federal deficits of $200 billion or more indefinitely into the future. The ensuing government shutdown battles ended with budget policies that cut both taxes and spending.

Republican congressional majorities, led by then House Speaker Newt Gingrich, enacted the largest capital gains tax cut in U.S. history, slashing the rate by 40% from 28% to 20%. Along with some other tax cuts on capital, that helped to promote an economic boom that produced surging revenues.

The Republican Congress then cut federal discretionary spending from 1995 to 1996 by 5.4% in real dollars, after adjusting for inflation. As a percent of GDP, federal discretionary spending, including defense and non-defense, was slashed by 17.5% in just 4 years, from 1995 to 1999.

The Congress also adopted some entitlement reform. The AFDC welfare program was terminated as an entitlement, and sent back to the states with work requirements and federal financing in fixed, finite block grants. Agricultural subsidies were phased out under the Freedom to Farm reforms (later reversed under House Speaker Dennis Hastert). President Clinton deserves credit for going along with these Congressional Republican reforms.

As a result, $200 billion annual federal deficits, which had prevailed for over 15 years, were transformed into surpluses by 1998, peaking at $236 billion by 2000. The national debt was reduced by $560 billion in surpluses from 1998 to 2001.

Political discussions about what happened in the 1990′s often involve this budget surplus President Clinton “gave” to his successor, George W. Bush. Every once in awhile — more likely if I happen to be involved in them — the question will come up “What exactly did Bill Clinton do to make the economy so rosy?” and our progressives don’t have an answer to this. They have no idea what happened, they just have a sound bite and that’s all.

But our conservatives have an idea what happened: Clinton spent his first two years taxing and spending and stimulus-ing and health-care-plan-ning, at the end of which the electorate handed him his own ass cheeks on a plate in the form of the 104th Congress. The super-duper-awesome nineties economy took off after that.

It’s not because Republicans are smarter. Some of them are just as daft, just as removed from reality, as your average liberal democrat. It’s got to do with government’s power to, not so much fix the economy, as be in the way as others try to fix the economy; good things happen when you move it out of the way. And it also has to do with incentives. When the incentives are provided for more screwing around, more smoking of the weed, laying about on the ass, waiting for everybody else to do something, people will accommodate. When things are made a bit more comfortable for the ones who take personal responsibility, and a bit less comfortable for those who do not, again, people will oblige. It really isn’t complicated at all, let alone as complicated as our beltway friends are making it out to be.

Hat tip to Boortz.

Drunk as a Skunk, and Still Thirsty

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

If I ever had hospitable feelings toward this sentiment coming out of Washington that us rubes here in flyover country need to participate in some “shared sacrifice,” this is the point where I’d reconsider.

President Obama demanded again yesterday that Republicans raise taxes in return for giving him the debt-limit increase he’s also demanding. Nice of him to be so accommodating. He has in mind, oh, something in the neighborhood of $1 trillion. But it turns out he’s a piker compared to Senate Democrats, whose budget leader has announced that his tax target is $2 trillion.

Mr. Obama said yesterday it’s time to “eat our peas,” and $2 trillion is a lot of peas.

Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad emerged from his months at an undisclosed fiscal location yesterday to denounce Republicans, the rich, corporations, George W. Bush and anyone else he could blame for the ugly reality of a $1.4 trillion deficit 30 months into a Democratic Presidency and two years into an alleged economic recovery.

He didn’t release an actual budget outline, as he is obliged to do under the law but which he hasn’t done in two years. Instead he trickled out enough details to assess his rough priorities. Of the $4 trillion in alleged deficit reduction over 10 years, about half would be from tax increases, mostly on what he called “abusive tax shelters and tax havens” and families “sufficiently fortunate to be earning a million dollars a year.”

Hmmm. In 2008 about 320,000 Americans reported income of more than $1 million, or about 0.3% of all income tax returns. They paid about $250 billion in taxes that year. Mr. Conrad is going to get nearly $2 trillion more from them without damaging the economy? That should be some trick.

Forget all the debates about whether a nation can tax itself into prosperity, like Churchill’s man in a big bucket pulling himself up by the handle. Just don’t even get that complicated with it — these jackwagons aren’t even doing fifth-grade math.

They aren’t even coming up with plans. Rather, they’re running a mad, circuitous route on an irrational impulse. Tax more, spend more, then go back, Jack, and do it again.

Remember the “stimulus,” or, as it was officially titled, the Recovery Act of 2009? It was President Obama’s first major legislative initiative, enacted the month after he took office with only Democratic votes in the House and just three Republicans in the Senate (one of whom was a Democrat by that summer). The price tag was huge, some $800 billion, or 50 times the size (in nominal terms) of the stimulus Bill Clinton proposed at the outset of his presidency. Congress killed the $16 billion Clinton stimulus because it was too expensive.

Unemployment that January was 7.6%, and Obama’s economic advisers warned that it could rise as high as 8% without the stimulus. With the stimulus, it rose as high as 10.2% in October 2009. Last month’s rate was 9.2%, still 1.2 points higher than the level the stimulus was supposed to prevent us from ever reaching. By contrast, in January 1993 unemployment was 7.3%. Without the Clinton stimulus, it had declined to 6.5% by the end of that year.
:
One school of thought is that the so-called stimulus failed because it was, as former Enron adviser Paul Krugman puts it, “woefully inadequate.” This is the economic analogue of the Kagan Principle, which liberal Supreme Court justices would use to limit freedom of speech: The more stubbornly corrupt the government is, the more justified it is in curtailing fundamental liberties in the name of preventing corruption.

It’s a common refrain among those who lust to increase government’s size and power: Every failed measure justifies more of the same. Poverty programs make it harder to escape poverty? We need more poverty programs! Racial preferences heighten racial division? We need more racial preferences! And a diversity manual for every janitor in the country! When ObamaCare ends up driving the costs of medicine up and the quality and availability down, you can bet the people who created that monstrosity will claim it failed only because it didn’t go far enough.

Let’s generalize this into the First Rule of Liberalism: Government failure always justifies more government. As Obama said today, complaining about Republican pressure to cut spending: “I’d rather be talking about stuff that everybody welcomes–like new programs.”

Question: Do we get to eighty-six the old programs when we come up with these new programs? I’ve got a feeling I already know the answer to that one.

I think the President, like all good liberals, has His own definition in mind for the word “everybody” and it is not the classical meaning for that word. Or perhaps when He is compelled to meet with people who are not like-minded, like in these budget deals for instance, He still doesn’t see a lot of disagreement because the Republicans are thinking “yeah, go ahead and run on that next year, I can’t wait.” It’s certainly the first thought in my mind. Be honest in 2012. Tell us what You’ll be doing in the next four years — that You and Your friends don’t think we’re taxed enough and You and Your friends never will, nor will You and Your friends ever think we’re spending enough on government programs.

Be the drunk, pushing the last few minutes before final call, obviously over-served and clamoring incoherently “Whaddya gotta do to get a drink in this place??” And then let we, The People — the nation’s bartender — hold a vote on it.

“Animals Are People (That We Can Eat)”

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Is three months of dust too much? I think not…

You see how much I love “diversity” — I’d take Sarah Palin as the next President, and Maddox too. Can’t straddle a divide much broader than that.

(Naughtly language warning.)

“Light Motif”

Monday, July 11th, 2011

It’s been awhile since we blogged some Steyn. Are you ready? Don’t have a mouth full of cereal, juice or coffee?

I think we ought to be harder when minor functionaries of a failed leviathan reveal themselves to have a defective understanding of the role of government in free societies. Steven Chu, the Energy Secretary who came into office saying “we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe“, has now offered up another soundbite for our times. On Friday, he defended the ban on Edison’s iconic incandescent in economic terms:

We are taking away a choice that continues to let people waste their own money.

So what? I waste my own money on all kinds of things. If I wanted Steven Chu to have a say in it, I’d get Parson Bloomberg to marry us at Gracie Mansion.

More to the point, I wonder if Secretary Chu has any idea how stupid this argument sounds from an administration that has wasted more of other people’s money than anybody else on the planet. Secretary Chu and his colleagues took a trillion dollars of “stimulus” and, for all the stimulating it did, might as well have given it in large bills to Charlie Sheen to snort coke off his hookers’ bellies with.

Hat tip to William Teach.

The Elmendorf Rule

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Charles Krauthammer invokes it out of necessity:

Obama has run disastrous annual deficits of around $1.5 trillion while insisting for months on a “clean” debt-ceiling increase, i.e., with no budget cuts at all. Yet suddenly he now rises to champion major long-term debt reduction, scorning any suggestions of a short-term debt-limit deal as can-kicking.

The flip-flop is transparently political. A short-term deal means another debt-ceiling fight before Election Day, a debate that would put Obama on the defensive and distract from the Mediscare campaign to which the Democrats are clinging to save them in 2012.

A clever strategy it is: Do nothing (see above); invite the Republicans to propose real debt reduction first; and when they do — voting for the Ryan budget and its now infamous and courageous Medicare reform — demagogue them to death.

And then up the ante by demanding Republican agreement to tax increases. So: First you get the GOP to seize the left’s third rail by daring to lay a finger on entitlements. Then you demand the GOP seize the right’s third rail by violating its no-tax pledge. A full-spectrum electrocution. Brilliant.
:
Highly placed leaks are portraying him as heroically prepared to offer Social Security and Medicare cuts.

We shall see. It’s no mystery what is needed. First, entitlement reform that changes the inflation measure, introduces means testing, then syncs the (lower) Medicare eligibility age with Social Security’s and indexes them both to longevity. And second, real tax reform, both corporate and individual, that eliminates myriad loopholes in return for lower tax rates for everyone.

That’s real debt reduction. Yet even now, we don’t know where the president stands on any of this. Until we do, I’ll follow the Elmendorf Rule: We don’t estimate leaks. Let’s see if Obama can suspend his 2012 electioneering long enough to keep the economy from going over the debt cliff.

Hat tip to Boortz.

Not to toot my own horn or anything…but five years ago, I predicted the Obama phenomenon. I did it the way I predict pretty much everything; it works very well. I simply observed what I had seen already.

One of the tactics I see that seems to intensify the potential for failure, is something I have come to call the “Gonnadooz versus Havdunz” approach. It’s an indicator that the salesman is lying about the superiority of what he provides, and is acutely aware that his product is, in fact, inferior. It works like this. You pitch me something…you compare the service you provide to an equivalent service provided by the other guy. You talk about what the other guy does, you go on and on about the history of what he’s been doing, shining the light in the direction that accentuates the blemishes. That’s the “Havdunz.” And then you talk about what you will do. That’s the “Gonnadooz.”

You can’t point out the blemishes of a “Gonnadooz,” because there aren’t any yet. It’s like pointing out the warts of a ghost. It’s just an ethereal vision, nothing more. So it’s an unequal comparison. Prospective customers may be forgiven for overlooking the hobbling effect that this has on the comparison vehicle. But the salesman built that vehicle. He must know.

Is Barack Obama going to run for re-election completely on the “Gonnadooz” of His second term, from 2013 to 2017? Just command us lowly rubes to forget all about His first? Rather than fill up two single-spaced pages with some phony-baloney “jobs created or saved” nonsense, arrive at the campaign season with zip by way of positive achievements or whelpy things pretending to be positive achievements…dust off the fake Greek columns…and be just like the IBM computer salesman from the old joke, tell us how awesome it’s gonna be when we finally get it?

I know we’ll see some of that. For the campaign to rely on it completely, seems almost like recklessness. More hope & change? More planted trollops pretending to faint in front of His speeches?

Maybe, on the debt reduction issue, that’s the plan. It seems far fetched to me, but I’m not in a good position to handicap His chances. This is a completely different world from the one in which I live, and I just don’t understand it.

Seven Years of Insanity

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

Victor Davis Hanson has balls of solid rock. He’s ready to write the epitaph…in pencil, I hope, for I am not so sure…on our long years of national madness (hat tip again to Gerard).

In these years of insanity, I used to be asked on-campus questions, but delivered as lectures, along the lines of “Bush’s polluting pals are ruining the planet when we know Al Gore’s cap and trade would save us. Now it’s too late!” Of course, in 2006 gasoline was relatively cheap, unemployment low, and there was growth in the economy. College students had the luxury of declaiming how George Bush had wiped out the polar bears as they waited for several good job offers.

Do you remember the hysteria over the supposed trampling of the Constitution? Those were the days of anger when Harold Koh, instead of writing briefs defending the Obama’s administration’s targeted killing by Predators and bypassing the War Powers Act in Libya, had been suing various Bush-Clinton-Bush administrations over the unfortunate at Guantanamo. At one time or another, a Sean Penn, a Hollywood producer (Rendition, Redacted, In the Valley of Elah, Lions for Lambs, etc.), a Whoopi Goldberg, a David Letterman, and legions more were all claiming that we had lost our freedoms to the satanic George Bush. These were the glory days of Dick Durbin comparing U.S. servicemen to mass killers, as John Kerry claimed they were quasi terrorists, in Harry Reid’s “lost” war, committing John Murtha’s war crimes — to the chorus of Michael Moore (guest of honor at the 2004 Democratic Convention) cheering on their killers as “minutemen.”

The point about the luxury of desultory thinking, is one worthy of being made much more often, and my own archives drone on about this at some length although I’m too lazy to engage in some quality rummaging at the moment. Our feasts & famines do seem to be driving this cycle. We engage in prerational thinking during those times when we feel like we can afford to do it. Thirty dollars a week plunked down on fancy drinks at Starbucks, and not feeling the pinch, Yay! Drinking water and groceries delivered, a bazillion and one channels on cable or satellite, plus those red envelopes from Netflix to help supplement the video appetite. Don’t feel like cooking? The pizza place is on speed dial.

At home, you do what your wife tells you to do. She does what the doctor tells her to do. The kids do what the teacher tells them to do. You go to work, and do what the boss tells you to do. Pretty soon, you have a life completely stripped bare, 24-by-7, of any occasion on which we have to deal with the situation of our ancestors: Do whatever you like, but be prepared to deal with the consequences. Your mind-within-the-mind, the one that is made of energy and not matter, is nourished by this brand of “oxygen” and over time, will surely perish without it.

Prerational thinking — the kind that reckons with only one consequence, which is banishment from the collective. It has brought us up to, and perhaps past, the brink of ruin. The village has settled on a consensus, for whatever reason, that Pi is three-and-a-half so it must be true. Why not just go with the flow? Even if it’s wrong, we can afford to be wrong. Gas is two bucks a gallon and the unemployment rate is 5.6%. I’m still getting my water delivered and there are still all these channels. Coming up with the right answer, during a time in which we’re only pretending to be oppressed or starving or shorted in some way, fails to retain its value as a cherished ideal.

We got crazy because we were lazy. We got stupid because we got fat.

The unemployment rate, now, is 9.2%. Nearly double. One wonders how well Fahrenheit 911, with all its flimsy connections to reality, would do if it were released today. How about a dingbat House Speaker telling us to pass the bill so we can find out what’s in it, how would that fly now? Economic alarm does have a nourishing effect on the mind-of-energy. We may work like the dickens to try to deny it, but when the cupboards start to go bare we have this instinctive drive to start saying “No…really. Is that true? I have to know, I need this to actually work.”

We actually become hostile to the ideas we can tell are bad, or are so poorly thought out they can only turn out to be good because of some happy coincidence. We engage this feeling of hostility — if we are hungry or if we are afraid we might become hungry. We are not so vigilant when hot plates of Szechuan and Four Seasons, carried right to our door, are just a phone call away. Well you know…the phone call and the forty-five or so highly inconvenient minutes of waiting. Boo hoo.

Hate to say it folks, but we needed a recession. We needed a good kick in the ass. Living this way, for a time, makes you stupid. And this ultra-pasteurized, ultra-sophisticated, zillion-cable-channel Paris-Hilton-rodent-canine-in-a-purse five-dollar-caramel-macchiato citadel we’d built for ourselves, was doing that to us. With the benefit of hindsight, as VDH demonstrates, we can see we had gone very, very far down that road.

I tried to warn ya.

If You Make a Mistake and You Don’t Admit Your Mistake, You’ve Made Two Mistakes

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

Never did have much appreciation for that saying until just now.

I really don’t like the idea of picking on Ann Althouse, and I find The Other McCain to be handling this, let us say, indelicately. But the timeless axiom does hold true, and Althouse is guilty of demonstrating it.

If you voted for Obama, you made a mistake. Unless, that is, you intended to dabble in a metamorphosis into a communist nation, raise taxes, put a major drag on the economy, send spending through the roof and give billions of dollars away to Barry’s pals. If that isn’t what you wanted to see happen but you punched O’s chad anyway, you were snookered because you didn’t pay attention. It was not a “rational choice,” it was a lazy, emotionally-driven choice. Period.

Say what you want about President Soetoro, but He isn’t that sneaky. Or at least, He wasn’t that time. He explained exactly what He was going to do. Remember? That conversation with Joe The Plumber? Were ya sleeping?

“My Vote Is My Freedom; It’s All I Have”

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

An Obama voter describes in vivid detail, the not-so-gradual opening of her eyes…

“Our media makes being an informed voter, a full-time job in this country.”

Hat tip to Chicks on the Right.

Plouffe Predicts

Friday, July 8th, 2011

From Prof. Jacobson:

It’s all about the message:

Top Obama adviser says unemployment won’t be key in 2012

President Obama’s senior political adviser David Plouffe said Wednesday that people won’t vote in 2012 based on the unemployment rate.

Well no, of course it will not be about unemployment, considering the numbers continue to look dismal:

Jobs Picture Gets Even Worse as Rate Swells to 9.2%

U.S. employment growth ground to a halt in June, with employers hiring the fewest number of workers in nine months, dousing hopes the economy would regain momentum in the second half of the year.

I don’t know that a competent, skilled general ever looks at a battle as a sure thing. Perhaps that would go against the job description. But if ever any one did, he’d surely be delighted to discover the enemy’s high command is thinking the way David Plouffe thinks: rose-colored-freakin’-glasses. Wish on something, expect it, demand it, and reality will magically comply.

It seems progs just can’t get away from it. Ever since FDR slipped into a final coma, the left loses the White House and the Senate every so many years, almost as a matter of ritual, as a direct result of this delusion that they can dictate to the rest of the country what our concerns are supposed to be. Say-it’s-so, make-it-so. When it works, it works, but it only works about a third of the time. Maybe less than that. So they get voted out.

These jackasses are supposed to be a force to be reckoned with in 2012, huh?

Delivery Notification

Friday, July 8th, 2011

The new motherboard finally showed up last night.

Looks like we have a computer building project on Saturday. Happy happy, joy joy.

Lots of false starts to this one. And this was the last component needed. Isn’t that always the way things go? Why is that?