Wednesday, July 27

Dem congressman: "We don't have a deficit problem now."

Democrats are the gift that just keeps on giving--referring to their propensity to keep saying things so nutty that it just lays bare their lack of either intelligence or situational awareness.

Exhibit 54: Jerrold Nadler, Dem congressman from New York. At a news conference today he argued that the U.S. does NOT have a deficit problem.

"The real crisis [is] unemployment, not the deficit. We don’t have a deficit problem right now. In the long term, we have a deficit problem – we’ve got to get it under control. But not right now," said Nadler.

But not right now, you say? Well there is that little matter of the debt ceiling, and your Chicago Jesus seems to think there's a good chance Social Security checks might not go out if we fail to act in time. If you don't think *now* is a good time to "fix it," can you tell me a better time?.

It's almost hard to believe even a Dem congressman could be this dumb. Or maybe it's just "abysmally uninformed." Hard to tell.

Geez, you'd love to be this guy's opponent and get a chance to debate him (he probably wouldn't) on these issues. One wonders how he can claim we don't have a deficit problem. Surely someone out there knows him and could ask him to explain?

Exponential debt growth--you have to see it to believe it

I tell all my students that if they only learn one math principle in college, it should be the exponential curve. I'm sure y'all know what it is but for the benefit of any young readers, that's the one that starts flat and then climbs at a higher and higher angle.

Now take a look at the graph below (or a larger version here):

Note that through 2002 the debt limit was just under $6 trillion.

Today--just nine short years later--we're bumping into a debt ceiling of $14.29 trillion. In other words, it's more than doubled in just the last ten years alone!

Worse yet, the change from 2009 to 2010--all Obama's watch, with Democrats controlling both houses of congress--was $1.9 trillion. At that rate, the debt would double again in just over seven years from now.

Come on, liberals: There's no question that both parties have helped spend more than the govt takes in. Why can't you admit that spending is out of control, and tell your party leaders to work with Republicans to start to get this monster back under control?

Or do you want to continue to pretend that the problem will magically solve itself if only the mean ol' Repubs will just cave in and give your party the $2.4 Trillion hike in the ceiling that they want?

If I were a Republican running for office, I'd ask my opponent straight up: Do you believe that if our govt continues to spend far more than we take in, year after year, there won't be any terrible consequences?

If you find yourself spending more than you make, and you're already working as many hours as you can, is the solution to a) cut spending; or b) borrow another ten grand on the credit card?

The answers to these two questions will instantly tell whether a candidate is serious or just playing the same old political games.

Dems demanding a huge $2.4 Trillion hike in ceiling, won't vote for anything less

I'm seeing the MSM/Dem talking points starting to settle on two claims:

1. Democrats are the party of compromise, bi-partisanship, cooperation, reason. Thus if a shutdown is threatened, it will be the Republicans' fault.

2. The most important thing to Democrats is that any deal to raise the so-called debt "ceiling" has to raise it by a whopping $2.4 Trillion, which will prevent the issue from having to be debated again before the 2012 elections.

You may have heard that the Dems main goal was to "raise taxes on the rich," which they implied--but carefully didn't state--would go a long way toward solving the deficit. When this was later shown to be crap, they did a neat pivot to goal #2 above.

Here's some strong evidence:

[Today] House Democratic Caucus chairman John Larson (D-Conn.) said Democrats would not accept a short-term increase in the debt ceiling, even if their demand for higher taxes is met.

“I think that the dark cloud of uncertainty with the debt ceiling still hanging over everyone’s head, what our caucus is adamantly clear on, and what we’re recommending to the President — if...a short-term deal goes to the President’s desk, he has said he’ll veto that.”

Earlier, Larson called on President Obama to veto any short-term increase in the debt ceiling.

Wait, didn't the NY Times tell us that the Dems are--how did Paul Krugman put it-- oh yeah, "bending over backward to be accommodating — offering plans that are all spending cuts and no taxes, plans that are far to the right of public opinion."

Ah, no. Instead, now their position is: 'even if Republicans concede to our demand for higher taxes, we won't vote for any deal that doesn't give us the full $2.4 Trillion hike needed to keep us from getting shellacked with this issue again next year.'

Clearly this is simply a new, "nuanced" definition of "accommodating" that you morons in flyover country aren't sophisticated enough to know yet. So there.


U.S. aid paying salaries of jailed terrorists in Israel?

A House subcommittee proposed giving $513 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority (after voting to give more than $3 Billion to Israel). But not to worry: the aid comes with lots of "conditions."

One of these is that by U.S. law, our dollars can't be paid to any person who “engages in, or has engaged in terrorist activity."

Now, I don't think we're in a position to be giving our borrowed dollars to *anyone,* but I'm especially leery of the P.A.

Reason: In April of this year the PA passed a law--signed and published in the official Palestinian Authority Registry--that puts all Palestinians and Israeli Arabs imprisoned in Israel for terror crimes on the PA payroll to receive a monthly salary from the PA. [Caveat: article is from the Jerusalem Post and not independently verified.]

Hmmm. I'm seeing sort of a communications problem here.

NY Times: Quest for 'balance' is a "cult destroying America"

From the NY Times' ghastly Paul Krugman, July 26, 2011:
"The cult that is destroying America"

Watching our system deal with the debt ceiling’s...obvious that what we’re looking at is the destructive influence of a cult that has...poisoned our political system.

...the cult that I see as...a true moral failure is the cult of balance, of centrism.
So Krugman thinks balance and centrism is a bad thing? Even claims it's a "cult"? Gee, he may want to check that with his master at the White House, since Obozo said six times in his campaign speech Monday night that he was the one with a "balanced approach."

We have a crisis in which the right is making insane demands, while the president and Democrats in Congress are bending over backward to be accommodating — offering plans that are all spending cuts and no taxes, plans that are far to the right of public opinion.

Ah yes, the insane demand that the government not continue borrowing 40 cents of every dollar it insists on spending. Insane stuff like that.

So what do most news reports say? [That] both sides are equally partisan, equally intransigent — because news reports always do that. [I]nfluential pundits [are] calling...for a new centrist party, a new centrist president...

The reality, of course, is that we already have a centrist president — actually a moderate conservative president.

Krugman claims Obozo is a centrist? A moderate conservative? Yeah and I'm your Aunt Sally. This guy is nuts.
[H]is only major change to government-- [health reform] — was modeled on Republican plans, indeed plans coming from the Heritage Foundation. And everything else — including the wrongheaded emphasis on austerity in the face of high unemployment — is according to the conservative playbook.
So did all of us just dream that stuff about "32 unconfirmable 'czars'" running the departments? The "Stimulus" (aka Porkulus) bill? Killing "Don't ask, don't tell" so gays can be openly, stridently gay in the military? And these are just a few examples.
What all this means is that there is no penalty for extremism; no way for most understand what’s really going on. [Certainly no one reading Krugman's article would have any idea!]

You have to ask, what would it take for these news organizations and pundits to actually break with the convention that both sides are equally at fault? This is the clearest, starkest situation one can imagine short of civil war. If this won’t do it, nothing will.

Remember that the situation Krugman just described as "the clearest, starkest that one can imagine short of civil war," is that the news media are too balanced.

Roll that around your mind for a few seconds.

How can one even begin to rebut a piece so totally disconnected from reality? I don't see how any rational person could link Krugman's statements to reality.

And in considering the debt ceiling talks now taking place, how in the world could anyone expect to negotiate effectively when the other side is led by people who are yelling the equivalent of "The earth is flat!"?

Tuesday, July 26

Dem rep: "The *so-called* debt crisis was completely manufactured by Republicans"

When a Democrat in congress releases a prepared statement that clearly contradicts reality, it's worth calling attention to. Of course this used to be what the mainstream media did--and still does with Republicans. Dems, on the other hand....

So here's the quote; remember, it's not extemporaneous, but is from a prepared text:
"The so-called ‘debt crisis’ has been completely manufactured by House Republicans attempting to advance an extremist agenda."
That quote is from Barbara Lee, Democrat rep from California. So, Ms. Lee, are you claiming the "debt ceiling" doesn't exist? Or that it was a Republican invention to trap you brilliant Democrats? No?

Are you with the camp that wants preznit Obozo to simply declare that the limit is now raised--as if by royal decree--as several of your party comrades have suggested?

And tell us: Are you in favor of trillion-dollar deficits, year after year?

Finally, the bonus question: Do you know what's been happening in Greece for the last few months?

How can any serious adult have even a hope to be able to rationally debate serious problems and proposed legislation with someone so wacked-out?

Update: Here's yet another liberal Democrat moonbat on the debt ceiling:
The budget deficit is an excuse for the Republicans to undermine government, plain and simple. They don’t just want to make cuts, they want to destroy. They want to destroy food safety, clean air, clean water, the Department of Education. They want to destroy your rights.
Wow, glad our leftist media betters have called for an end to extremist rhetoric, 'cuz those are some pretty extreme charges.

I didn't realize that the House GOP budget bill de-funded food inspections ("destroy food safety"), clean water and the useless Dept of (Mis)Education. Oh, and that the GOP was trying to destroy anyone's rights. Wonder how they plan to do that?

Oooh, oooh, I know: The Repubs in the House will have their senate counterparts refuse to allow any debate on the GOP budget bill and then push it through while the senate is out of session. What a diabolical scheme to deprive half the country of its rights!

Wait...what? You say it was actually senate Democrats that killed the bill without debate, and not the Repubs? But...but...why would the Dems do that when they keep saying they're all about rights, and verrry concerned about the possible destruction of same?

Ah, I see: That line about "the Republicans are trying to destroy your rights" was just bullshit--sort of a projection. That does seem to fit.

Oh, and the person who spoke these lines--to a crowd of union members on capitol hill?

Former speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Yes, the same woman who cried during a press conference because she claimed she was worried that overheated rhetoric could lead to violence.

Sure, Nan--you were worried then just like you are now, right?

Monday, July 25

Financial disaster approaches; liberals kill bills and count on GOP caving in

Take a look at the following graph:

It was produced from data released by the Congressional Budget Office, and it shows that if things continue on the current path, federal spending on all health-related costs--Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP and Obamacare--is forecast to exceed the combined total of all other federal spending by 2053.

My liberal friends will try to dismiss this with the following "arguments:"
1. "2053 is so far in the future that the forecast isn'tt relevant to anyone trying to make policy decisions today."
Uh, Sparky? Wasn't it precisely that sort of reasoning that got us into the current fix we're in today?
2. "This chart is from the Tea Party, so it's just propaganda!"
Um...take it up with the CBO, buttercup. It's their data.
3. "We wouldn't have this problem if The Rich just paid their fair share of taxes!"
a) What does that have to do with the graph shown above? and

b) While most of us have no problems with closing tax loopholes, it's been shown many times that if the government were to seize ALL the income of people making over $300,000 per year--i.e. tax them at a 100% rate--that would seize something like $1.2 Trillion. But this year alone the govt will spend $1.6 Trillion more than it takes in. So while your Dem base loves dem class warfare slogans, raising taxes not only won't solve the problem, it literally cannot.
4. "Even if the forecast is accurate, we can't cut any medical benefits because that will hurt poor people and innocent children!"
Okay, that's a tough one, but there's an answer. You won't like it, but it exists: The government simply cannot afford to provide the current level of medical care to every poor person in the country. This is a great socialist pipe-dream. I'm not saying the govt--i.e. taxpayers-- can't afford to give some level of "free" medical care to the poor, but merely that we can't afford to do it at the level we're doing now, and are mandated to do in the future under Obamacare.

What we could afford would be to provide basic health care--free vaccinations (they are already), setting fractures, appendectomies, that sort of thing. Sort of like Cuba or Russia does today.
5. "You Tea-baggers are heartless! And raaacist! And you hate kids! And gays, 'cuz you want to do away with free drugs for uninsured people with hiv.

Plus, you have absolutely no sense of fashion! I mean, look at the motley, sweatshirted morons that show up at tea-party rallies. Must you people do all your shopping at Wal-Mart? What do you do with your money, anyway? Probably spend it all on something dumb, like college tuition or health insurance or mortgage payments.... Ah, wait...
6. "Even if the current level of medical outlays is shown to be totally unsustainable, it doesn't matter--because Barack said we didn't need to cut any benefits. Plus, his former green jobs director, Van Jones, says this country is NOT in a financial bind and that we're really awash in money. Why should we believe your stupid sources instead of Barack and Van?"
Fine. Then just give us your detailed budget and we'll see if the numbers add up.
"Our what? No no no, you don't understand: It's your job as Republicans to draw up a budget. Then we have our friends in the media blast it to win us some more votes, and then our party kills it without debate in the senate. Then repeat as needed until the deadline approaches. At which point Barack and our friends in the media will blame Republicans for pushing granny off the cliff in a wheelchair--that commercial was so great! And then we'll see to it that the switchboards light up, and your side will panic and cave, as always."
Didn't the House just pass a balanced budget plan and send it to the senate? And didn't the Dem majority kill it without debate, on a straight party-line vote?
"Well, senator Reid just did that to save time, because he knew it could never pass."
So you don't just want a budget, you want one that everyone on the Democrat side will love? Isn't that a pretty underhanded, cynical way of doing things? Plus, if you refuse to cut government spending, won't we just have to repeat this over and over again?
"And we're laughin' all the way to the bank, tea-bagger."

Senate Dems refuse to allow debate on House bill to raise debt ceiling

As you may know, the government is about to hit the statutory "debt ceiling"--a legal limit, set by congress, on how much money the government is allowed to borrow.

Last Tuesday, Republicans in the House passed a bill--"Cut, cap and balance"--that would give the president the $2.4 Trillion increase in the debt limit that he's been seeking, but only if both houses of congress pass a constitutional amendment to balance the budget.

On Friday the Democrat-controlled senate--on a straight party-line vote--voted to "table" the bill, essentially killing it without even allowing any debate over its effects.

Now, one can find several flaws in the House bill, but you'd think the way to make progress would be for Democratic opponents to specifically identify any alleged flaws in a public forum, honestly reported to the wider public, and then introduce and debate amendments to the bill to eliminate any defects.

At least that's what they taught us in civics class.

But the Democrats in the senate--seeing the popularity with voters of cutting government spending--refuse to even allow the bill to be debated on the senate floor.

Wow. Is that the way a democracy is supposed to work? Is that good government? Is that an adult, rational approach to an approaching problem that could have dire effects as soon as mid-August? (No one actually knows, since congress has always managed to raise the debt ceiling ever time before.)

One prediction I can confidently make: The mainstream media will blame the Republicans for any problems, while merrily ignoring the senate's cynical, politically cunning act of killing the House Republicans' bill.

Sunday, July 24

If Dems are really concedng anything to the GOP, it's probably a trap

Another blog noted that the Dems seem to be conceding to the Republicans on the solution to the debt ceiling "crisis." However, one commenter wasn't buying it: "Does anyone believe that the democrats would agree to a republican plan without an ace or two up their sleeves?"

Precisely. God love 'em, but Republicans--including our earnest, reasonably frugal, reasonably responsible Speaker of the House--remind me of pups chasing a passing car: Bark furiously, chase for a few yards, car speeds off and the pups think they've defeated it.

It may well be that our Speaker knows everything I'm about to say. If so he hasn't shown any indication, but he may just be a fabulous poker player. So here goes:

As the commenter noted, have any of you ever seen congressional Democrats simply concede to the GOP on *anything*, no matter how trivial? I can't recall a single instance. So what some conservative commenters think they're seeing--the *appearance* of a Democrat concession--is astronomically unlikely to be such.

While there are lots of traps one could envision the Dems preparing, they surely have three main objectives:
  • 1) say and do anything to keep the debt ceiling issue off the radar before November of next year;
  • 2) try to put all the responsibility for cutting spending (credit and blame both) on Republicans; and
  • 3) if possible, eliminate several hundred billion dollars of tax incentives for various businesses that aren't Democrat supporters--oil and gas, coal, electric utilities, any manufacturing other than GM cars. But make a big show of repelling any efforts to hike taxes on Dem constituents--like the 50 percent of taxpayers who pay no fed income tax.
Of course the Republicans have repeatedly said "no new taxes", but I suspect that if they can win the spending cuts they seek, they'll conclude that eliminating the most egregious tax breaks ("incentives") for a few businesses isn't a hill worth defending.

So the game plan for Dems is to act as though they're conceding on every GOP point at this time. Then appear to fall back yet again when it comes to drafting the actual language of the bill in the House: Offer only nominal ideas and amendments, so that all the extremely UNpopular decisions on exactly what to cut are left to the GOP to make. Or else concede it's not possible, as the Dems have tacitly done.

The next step of for senate Dems to let their GOP colleagues know that they'll vote FOR the GOP bill, if only the GOP will agree to work with them over the next few months to end the most egregious tax breaks. I suspect the GOP would think they'd won the lottery, and would cheerfully agree.

Then the Dems in both chambers make a big show of holding a joint press conference with their GOP colleagues, at which they admit--with what appears to be a mood of chagrin--that the Republican arguments carried the day and that the Dems were forced to concede, on virtually every major point.

If the Dems get to that press conference without the GOP having seen the trap, it'll be too late.

If it goes according to plan, the GOP will end up having to decide exactly which cuts to make. For those under 30, that's *extremely* hard to do and has always been highly unpopular with voters. But the GOP will be forced by their "win" to make those decisions--and they voters are likely to remember (or be reminded) in 2012.

Further, the Dems can truthfully say that due to their great efforts, not even a nickel of cuts was made to either of the two programs most precious to Dems: SS and Medicare. Of course the GOP doesn't really want to cut Medicare and SS benefits in any case, but such an explanation won't get any traction with the Dem's base.

Finally, after the spending cut dust has settled, the Dems will call in the GOP promise--announced in public and with such fanfare--to eliminate the most egregious tax incentives. So Dems will get the tax increase they want, as the quid pro quo for saddling the Republicans with burden of making the tough, unpopular decisions on exactly what to cut from govt spending.

I'd like to claim some special insight but this is all so obvious a child could see it. So if y'all already did, 'scuse me for pointin' out the obvious.

Question is, 1) are the Dems brazen enough to run this sting; and 2) is the GOP leadership smart enough to see and avoid the trap?

*Another* U.S. govt agency supplying weapons to drug cartels?

Has the "Zeta" drug cartel been buying heavy weapons in the United States under the "Direct Commercial Sales" program, then taking them into Mexico via El Paso?

Under the Direct Commercial Sales program our State Department regulates and licenses businesses to sell weapons, "defense services" and training for export. The program is separate from the Foreign Military Sales program, which handles government-to-government sales.

Last year, according to U.S. statistics, the DCS program was used to sell Mexican companies $416.5 million worth of weapons and equipment, including military-grade weaponry.

The El Paso Times reports that Phil Jordan, a former director of the DEA's El Paso Intelligence Center, said the Zetas are thought to have shipped large amounts of military weapons through the El Paso area--specifically through the tiny town of Columbus, New Mexico.

"They're purchasing weapons in the Dallas area and flying them to El Paso, then taking them across the border," said Jordan, who is now a law enforcement consultant.

But later in the story it's noted that this has been going on for a couple of years now. If so, why is the story just now surfacing?

Turns out that just 21 days ago
Mexican federal authorities captured the number three man in the Zeta's hierarchy, a guy named Jesús Rejón Aguilar. Mexican authorities presented him in a press conference the next day, and he seems to have revealed everything.

His statement was allegedly recorded on video and uploaded to YouTube.

At that point about the only way U.S. officials could have suppressed it would be to claim it was a hoax. But of course the Mexican authorities thought it was genuine, so that would have been a problem.

But we'll admit, so far it's just YouTube, a tiny paper in El Paso and the notoriously untrustworth Mexican government. So you can expect the U.S. mainstream media to ignore the entire story as nothing more than rumor or wild and baseless accusations by a "digruntled former employee."

Yeah, dat's da ticket. Who ya gonna believe: Two female cub reporters at the El Paso Times or your gubmint's o-fishul Attorney General, Eric Holder? So...nothing to see here, citizen.

Oooh, wait: Headline in El Paso Times, July 21, 2011:
5th guilty plea made in Columbus firearms trafficking,
by Ashley Meeks

LAS CRUCES -- A fifth defendant has pleaded guilty in a case charging the Columbus police chief, mayor, a village trustee and nine others with trafficking firearms to Mexican cartels.

Manuel Ortega, 25, of Palomas, Mexico, faces up to 15 years in federal prison for firearms smuggling and conspiracy after entering the plea Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge William P. Lynch in Las Cruces.

Between January 2010 and March 2011, the 13 defendants, headquartered in Columbus, allegedly conspired to smuggle about 200 firearms favored by Mexican cartels, at least partly on the orders of Jesus "Mantequilla" Molinas, an inmate at Cereso federal prison in Juárez. Some weapons were reportedly found at the scenes of a murder, a kidnapping and a drug bust in Mexican border towns.

The defendants allegedly paid Chaparral Guns about $70,000 for the AK-47 pistols and American Tactical 9 mm pistols, with the potential to sell the firearms for three times that on the other side of the border.

Four other defendants have pleaded guilty since last week, including former Mayor Eddie Espinoza.

Espinoza, 51, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, three counts of making false statements in the acquisition of firearms and three counts of smuggling firearms from the United States. He faces up to 50 years in prison at sentencing.

Alberto Rivera, 40, of Columbus, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and nine counts of making false statements in the acquisition of firearms and smuggling firearms from the United States.

Both men remain in federal custody.

Eva Lucie Gutierrez, 22, of Las Cruces, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and making a false statement in the acquisition of firearms.

Ricardo Gutierrez, 25, of Columbus, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, three counts of making false statements in the acquisition of firearms, and three counts of smuggling firearms from the United States. He is free on a $10,000 unsecured bond pending sentencing. He faces up to 50 years in federal prison [which strongly suggests to me that he's highly likely to flee the country].

The U.S. Attorney's Office in El Paso, which unexpectedly took over the prosecution from the New Mexico U.S. Attorney's Office in June, has been tight-lipped about the court proceedings, telling the Sun-News in a written statement: "We will not be commenting on any aspects of the investigation, our prosecutorial decision-making process or potential outcomes."

When people are pleading guilty in the face of a possible 50 year sentence, something illegal has definitely happened. So the "disgruntled former employee" cover story ain't gonna fly here.

The key is to see whether this blockbuster story gets picked up in the MSM. If the MSM gets right on it, asking pointed questions at every press conference on every level of government--from little Columbus, NM right up to the White House--we have a chance--a very small chance, but one I'll welcome--of rooting out the corruption.

On the other hand, if the MSM chooses to ignore this story, or trivialize it without asking the hard questions, then I suspect it'll take a literal shooting revolution to get the country back.

So: Watch your papers and newscasts to see which way they decide to jump.

Saturday, July 23

"Young woman" accuses Democrat rep of "unwanted sexual act"--feminists yawn

The Portland "Oregonian" reports that seven-term Democratic member of congress David Wu has been accused of "an aggressive, unwanted sexual encounter" with a "young woman."

When confronted by his senior aides Wu acknowledged having a sexual encounter with the "young woman" but insisted it was consensual.

Well that certainly seems like a reasonable explanation. Nothing to see here, folks. Move on.

Oh, wait...down in the sixth paragraph the paper offers a small detail that might shed some light on the matter: The "woman" was apparently 18 at the time. Wu is 56.

Now: I realize that "unwanted sexual encounter" can mean damn near anything, much of which doesn't rise to the level of criminal behavior. And I know May-December romances do exist. So the only problems I have with this allegation are, first, where's the outrage from NOW and other feminist groups?

Those over 30 may recall how these groups were going ballistic about Oregon senator Bob Packwood, who was accused of kissing and groping 40-year-old female lobbyists. So where's that outrage now?

Only sound I hear is crickets chirping.

Second: The Oregonian published this on a Friday, which is widely known as a way to drastically reduce the attention given to a story that would damage a person or party the paper wants to protect. There's no watercooler chat over the weekend, and most people have a lot on their schedule to distract them. And by Monday the paper can justify refusing to run any more stories on the topic on the ground that it's old news.

Now, young liberals may defend the choice of publication days by saying "Hey, it's news. No one can control when a news story breaks!"

How charmingly naive. Because the Oregonian sat on the story for four days, ostensibly because they were trying to get a comment from Wu.

If Wu had been a Republican, does anyone doubt that the paper would have given him 24 hours and then published with the end line "Representative Wu's office didn't respond to repeated offers from this paper to rebut the allegations or otherwise to comment"?


But since Wu is one of their beloved Dems, they cheerily let him stonewall 'em for four days and then did the helpful Friday story-burial.

So, how 'bout it, feminists? Do you have a problem with politicians groping women? Or are you willing to put up with it if the accused is a Democrat? Or would you prefer the "it was consensual" option?

Why do I think there won't be any feminist outrage in this case?

Oh, and just in case you had any doubt: Bob Packwood, who was pressured into resigning his office, was a Republican. That was right about the same time William J. Clinton faced rape claims from two women, groping from a third, and perjury, yet was able to retain his office. All broadcast outlets and all but a handful of newspapers were arguing that he shouldn't even be impeached, let alone convicted--since his perjury was "just about sex", and "everybody lies about sex."

Excuse me, because I don't have a journalism degree so I'm not sure about the terminology: Is it more correct to call the difference between the media's reaction to Wu, Packwood and Slick Willy a "double standard", or just "no standards"?

Immigrant assaults woman on steps of Norwegian Parliament

I hate writing posts about what follows, for obvious reasons. But if no one is willing to discuss ghastly events and identify trends, how can we devise a defense?

Dateline: Oslo, Norway--

A 20-year-old Norwegian woman (girl?) was raped by an asylum-seeking North African immigrant.

This is now so common in Norway that it's unlikely anyone would take notice. It's been reported that in every case of "stranger rape" in Oslo over the past five years where the perpetrators could be identified, the rapist was (or were, in the case of gang attacks) Muslim immigrants.

What made this case unusual was that it took place on the steps of the Parliament building.

And as it occurred, the whole thing was watched on surveillance cameras by security personnel inside. Who decided it wasn't their job to send one of their number outside to help the victim and arrest the rapist.

These government drones did decide that all they could do was call the cops. Who arrived after the rapist had finished his attack.

He was arrested, but authorities released him from custody later that day. Whether he posted bond or was released because of his age or other status wasn't reported.

Deterrent? Essentially zero.

Do ya suppose other immigrants-- realizing they were safe from any meaningful penalty--might decide to do the same thing? After all, it demonstrates Muslim supremacy over the conquered local people, and there's no detectable penalty.

Liberals might claim this was "just another Isolated Incident." Or that indeed, the 20-year-old victim, though drunk, somehow consented. Then try this from June 12th: A 14-year-old girl committed suicide a month after being raped by three Muslim males in the city of Trondheim. Here's a photo before she was attacked:

She gave a detailed description of her attackers, and lived another month until the stress or shame became too much to bear. Her mother gave the newpapers permission to print her picture and name in the hope that the community would prosecute the perpetrators, which happens all too rarely in Norway when women are attacked in Muslim areas.

For the record, Aftenposten (Oslo newspaper) reports that 9 out of 10 reported rapes don't go to trial because no witnesses are willing to testify against the attackers. How odd. The incidence of rape in the capital rose 40 percent in one recent year alone.

Here's a clip from the national television there, in which the news-readers claim that in the past year, 83 of 86 rapists who could be identified and were strangers were of "non-western appearance." The country's laws won't let anyone be more specific than that. However, they did interview a rape victim who said her attacker told her he had the right to do whatever he liked with Swedish women because his religion said this was acceptable. Unless there's a hidden sect of Buddhist rapists in Sweden, the religion shouldn't be hard to decipher. (I have no way to confirm the accuracy of the translation.)

The same trend is apparent in neighboring Sweden: Police in Malmo, Sweden's third- largest city, say there was a doubling of the number of reported rapes by ambush in 2004, following what was already a decade of steadily increasing numbers of sexual crimes.

Responding to this report, Anna Gustafsson, head of the Domestic Violence Unit at the Malmo Police, said she thought this was "great news", suggesting that the increase is due to higher reporting rates.

Legal proceedings continue this week in a case involving four men charged with the rape of a 13 year old girl from Motala. The four are Kurdish Muslims, and were charged with raping the girl for hours and taking photos of the attack.

The number of reported rapes per capita in Malmo is 5—6 times higher than in Copenhagen, Denmark, which as a much lower percentage of immigrants. In fact, virtually every kind of violent crime is increasing in Sweden. Robbery increased 50% in Malmo in 2004. Threats against witnesses in Swedish court cases quadrupled between 2000 and 2003.

Sick, sick, sick.

An Islamic Imam in Copenhagen sparked a political outcry after publicly declaring that women who refuse to wear headscarves are “asking to be raped.”

But although the Swedes and Norwegians don't seem to prosecute Muslims accused of rape with much vigor, one part of the law is vigorously enforced: the law against what's called "hate speech," which in these countries means anything said against Islam. For example, Swedes must be careful what they say or write about the sharp increase in the number of rapes of Swedish women by Muslims. In 2004 a Swede was convicted and sentenced to two months in prison for writing, “I don’t think I am alone in feeling sick when reading about how Swedish girls are raped by immigrant hordes.”

Friday, July 22

Dems still holding out for higher taxes

CNN reports that after after the Democratic-controlled Senate rejected the GOP’s “cut, cap and balance” deficit reduction plan Friday--because it didn't raise taxes-- Obama called on people to "share the sacrifice" of higher taxes.

A commenter on another blog wasn't convinced. "Share the sacrifice" seemed to mean that working people would pay more taxes so others could live without working. He wrote,
Can anyone explain to me the point of working hard anymore?

Our politicians and over half of America’s population would pick a dead man’s pockets. It all seems pointless, like the proverbial hamster wheel.
It appears the folks who sit at home and collect their taxpayer-provided benefits each month are the smart ones.

Well I'm tired of working for them. I'm tired of feeding them, paying for their lawyers, paying for their children, paying to get their hair and nails “did”, paying for their homes and apartments, paying, paying.

We've lost our nation, as surely as if it had been invaded. We've let fast-talking politicians and political correctness conquer us.

Shameful, shameful, shameful.
As someone who makes relatively little, I don't have a problem with the general concept of "the rich" paying higher taxes. The problem I have is that the political class has demonstrated that no matter how much they take in taxes, they always spend even more. Which is exactly how we got in the current mess.

So if anyone thinks raising taxes alone will fix the problem...I've got a bridge I'd like to sell you.

Thursday, July 21

Republicans baaaaad, says lefty pub

Headline on "The Hill," a Democrat-supporting website:
"House Republicans advance bill to curb authority of labor relations board"

Republicans on [a House Committee] approved legislation that would limit the authority of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Republicans have been attacking the labor board ever since it issued a complaint on April 20 that accused Boeing of retaliating against union workers.

The company moved the production line to [a state that] prohibits mandatory union membership, after executives worried that work stoppages at their unionized operations in Washington state could delay production. The labor board found that to be retaliation against union workers and issued their complaint, which is now before an administrative law judge.

The legislation introduced by Republicans takes aim at the labor board’s authority, and would prohibit the NLRB from ordering a company to transfer or relocate its existing or planned employment.

Anyone else see a pattern here?

If the federal government can order a company to abandon a new production facility, opened in a right-to-work state, on the ground that this act violates federal law by being considered retaliation against a strike-happy union, no business can make any investment plans without a similar fear.

For example, if BMW were to open a car assembly line in a RTW state, why wouldn't that be "retaliation" as well, since the company could have located the plant in a forced-union state?

Lefty economist: "Porkulus bill failed due to influence of Republicans"!

Will Rogers had a saying; loosely: It's not so much what folks don't know that hurts 'em, it's what they do know that ain't so.

Amen and amen. And as Exhibit #1 I offer a writer for the Fiscal Times--about as Left-wing a rag as you could find this side of Mother Jones.

To put it directly: This guy (Mark Thoma) is either ignorant or a willful shill for the Dems. Take this quote from him:
In the wake of the Great Recession, why has employment been so slow to recover? One answer is that an important but widely unrecognized change in fiscal policy has taken place.

Due largely to the influence of supply-side Republicans and many Democrats who embrace growth policies, policies that were originally intended to stimulate innovation in the private sector were applied to the government sector and infrastructure spending. This change in policy that [emphasizes] growth...has shifted resources and attention away from traditional policies that could have reduced joblessness at a more rapid rate.

Didja get that? Here I'll bet you thought the Democrats--who in 2009 owned the White House and had solid control of both chambers of congress--were solely responsible for every single effin' word in the "stimulus" (a.k.a. "porkulus") bill, right?

After all, the measure didn't get a single republican vote in the House and only 3 in the senate, so apparently the GOP members were hugely against the monstrosity. The Dems rammed it through, so I would think they're responsible for its results, whether effective or wasteful/disastrous.

But according to Thoma, Dems were rolled--hoodwinked! Buffaloed! Tricked! by dem eeeeeebil supply-side Republicans (and some Democrats who embraced growth policies). As a result, says Thoma, "policies that were originally intended to stimulate innovation in the private sector were applied to the government sector and infrastructure spending."

One scarcely knows where to begin attacking ignorance of this caliber.

First, Mark--you ignorant asshole--the Dems had complete, total, 100 percent control of every word in that ridiculous piece of Keynesian crap. You can't possibly seriously believe otherwise. Republicans were unable to win a single amendment to the damn thing.

And had it succeeded, do you seriously expect us to believe you'd have come out with this same critique--"Oh, it would have been SOooo much more effective if congress had just been able to avoid applying stimulus to the government sector and infrastructure spending?

If so, you're an idiot.

Worse, you're a dishonest idiot.

Let's start with the basics: Do you believe Keynes' proposition that the fastest way to get out of a recession is for the government to spend massive amounts of money on public-works projects (i.e. "stimulus")? Let's just assume you do--mainly since if you didn't, you wouldn't have your current job.

So if that's what you believe, where the hell else do you think stimulous money would go other than government?

In other words, Keynes advocated government spending. Got it? Would it help if I sounded the word out for you?

So for you to pop up after the damn thing failed to produce any growth or recovery whatsoever (or are you gonna try that smoke-blowing "millions of jobs created or saved" bullshit?) and say, "Oooh, the problem was that stimulous was applied to government and infrastructure" is as credible as Bawney Fwank claiming--two months into the mortgage meltdown that he helped set in motion--that there were absolutely no problems in the mortgage industry.

Okay, let's look at your remaining defense option: To claim that your critique is NOT that the stimulus was spent on government and infrastructure but that "policies that were originally intended to stimulate innovation in the private sector were applied to the government sector.

If you choose that as your defense, can you give us a single example of a phrase in the vast bill that you consider a "policy intended to stimulate innovation in the private sector"?

Take your time. We'll wait.

Here's the text if you need it:

Let us know when you're ready to make your case.

Because unlike 30 years ago, people like you can no longer get away with claiming that a law says X when it doesn't.

Government employees help "rich" applicant defraud Medicaid

One of my favorite blog reads is Ace of Spades, and today Ace was trying to figure out why so many government employees seem to encourage fraud. Go read his whole post.

Summary: A citizen with a concealed video camera went into a government office in Ohio to apply for Medicaid benefits. If you're unfamiliar, Medicaid is a federal program that gives money (in some form) to people under 65 who are having trouble paying for medical care. So there's supposed to be some sort of income-vs-family size test to see if an applicant qualifies for taxpayer funds.

Our citizen-investigator posed as a Russian who dealt in "pharmaceuticals"--and quickly made it clear to the employee that these were "Bob Marley-type" drugs. He also mentioned that he owned an $800,000 McLaren F-1 super-sportscar. To make sure the point got across, he added that it had a "gold-plated engine."

The employee got the message, saying "I don't need to know any of this" and similar "I can't hear you" statements. She told the guy that he shouldn't say any of those things on his application but should claim to have some low-paying job, like "babysitting." Seriously.

Ace didn't blame the employee, but instead noted that virtually every office has two sets of rules: A set of "official rules," and the way things are actually done. Employees at every level quickly learn the difference.

In this case, the employee knew that although the official rules required her to only give taxpayer dollars if the applicant was "poor," the real rule--as it is in most government offices--was to make sure no one who came to her office seeking taxpayer dollars would have any reason to file a complaint against her. And she behaved accordingly.

Government employees know that the real rule of government is that one of the ways you can get in trouble is by denying benefits to an applicant. Thus all government workers who work in benefit-granting programs have a huge incentive to "fix" otherwise-disqualifying applications, and to advise such applicants on how to successfully defraud the system.

In most jobs you can actually get fired for aiding a fraud. But I suspect this would be astronomically unlikely when it comes to government bureaucrats facilitating this particular type of fraud.

When there is no penalty for malfeasance--when no one in the room is looking out for the taxpayers, so the only threat to your easy paper-pushing job is if you deny benefits to an applicant, clearly ineligible applicants will be approved for benefits virtually every time. You'll have routine fraud--aided by government bureaucrats who (one would think) are supposed to be preventing fraud.

If a private company tolerates procedures that throw away money, it soon finds itself insolvent, and fails. But when government employees give limited taxpayer dollars to people who clearly don't qualify for the program being administered, the government's response is different, and more dire: Most of the time it grabs more money from taxpayers, through higher taxes.

Obviously that's a painful choice if one pays taxes. For those who don't, no problem. But aside from hurting taxpayers (i.e. anyone earning a living in the "above-ground" economy), every tax hike drives more former payers into the underground economy. So at some level of taxation, tax revenue actually begins to fall with higher rates.

Alternatively, a government can go bankrupt. It's essentially what we've been seeing in Greece. Obviously that's a nasty scenario.

Ace isn't optimistic that the problem of government welfare fraud can be solved, unless a large number of people are fired. He notes that this is almost impossible because everyone has tolerated it for so long.

I think he's right.

Wednesday, July 20

A modest plan, part 2

As many have noted, proposals to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits even a percent or two, or to gradually raise the retirement age, are instantly shouted down by a howling mob of current or soon-to-be beneficiaries.

And that's completely understandable: When the Democrats came up with this program back when FDR was prez, they swore that it was NOT welfare but "insurance," because back then welfare was something people were fairly reluctant to accept.

Something about going against the idea of self-reliance and such.

Of course since then, everyone earning a living in the U.S. since then has been forced to pay into the system, so it's not surprising that they feel "all that money" they've paid in is really theirs. In that case, how dare congress even think about taking away something that's "theirs"?

Democrats seeking to block SS reforms have added to this perception by repeatedly claiming all the money paid in is in a "lockbox"--location unspecified. This reinforces the notion that each person has an account which uniquely belongs to them.

Of course anyone who understands basic math realizes that the average retiree gets back far more in checks than they paid in. But to most of the Dems' core--their base--basic math is a foreign concept. They don't understand it, so can't be educated about the reality of the SS ponzi scheme.

The net effect of all four points above is that it's impossible to convince the people who constitute the Dem base that Social Security is unsustainable at current levels of taxes, benefits and demographics.

Frankly, I don't think it's possible to reverse these four perceptions in "core" Democrats--and certainly not in people older than 40 or so. (Problem obviously isn't that it's impossible to learn beyond that age, but simply that it's extremely hard to reverse long-held misperceptions about *anything.*)

If core Dem voters will never agree to SS changes, I think the best chance of getting the Dems in congress to agree to reforms will be to be seen by a huge majority of voters as being willing to agree to cutting out tax "loopholes" (a.k.a. incentives) in exchange for Dems voting for small reductions in SS and Medicare. But there are two huge caveats here:

First, no Reagan/O'Neil shell games. For those under 40 or so, that was where Reagan ostensibly got Speaker Tip O'Neil and congressional Dems to agree to reduce spending by two dollars for every dollar in tax cuts. That would have enabled the gummint to cut taxes and still balance the budget (or very close).

But can you guess what happened? If you're over 30 I'll bet you can! The Dems voted for the Reagan tax cuts but refused to cut spending as they'd agreed. Result was a big deficit.

Point is, you can't trust 'em to do *anything* they promise. So the GOP must ensure that everything is in the same bill, or expect to be betrayed *again.*

Second caveat: House GOP reps should match loophole/incentive elimination with the Dems dollar for dollar. What that means is, draw up a list of liberal/Dem beneficiaries of tax breaks, and ensure that every tax break the Dems propose is matched by elimination of a break of similar size to a Democrat constituency.

This is a simple, straightforward winner of a talking point. When the bill comes to the Senate, all Republicans in both houses should constantly talk about the hypocrisy of Senate Dems in *saying* they want to eliminate loopholes/incentives, while actually fighting behind the scenes to *keep* loopholes for their own donors and voters.

Hypocrisy, hypocrisy, hypocrisy is a concept almost every voter understands, and it resonates extremely well even before now. Example: dozens of laws passed by congress that apply to everyone *except* themselves. Including Obamacare.

Get on this. Now.

That is all.

Tuesday, July 19

Regret to say, I think we're about to crash

Okay, here's the most important post this year: You reeeally need to click on the link and read this one. (If you wish, you can click on the link *there* to read the original source article.)

Short answer: To cover the CBO's projected federal deficit in 2016, and future Social Security and Medicare deficits, brings the combined tax rate--the total of federal, state, Social Security and Medicare taxes--on a middle-income taxpayer in California (someone making $60,000 per year) to an astounding 71%.

And of course then they'll pay another 8 percent sales tax (roughly) on anything they buy with the 29% they get to take home.

Okay, we'll admit California has a ridiculously high state income tax rate--9.5 percent on our $60K earner--so the rate on those of you from other states will be lower. But even here in flyover country, with a comparatively modest 5 or 6 percent rate, all levels of gummint together will be confiscating two-thirds of your income.

Are you ready to work under those conditions? I'm not.

For a couple of years now I've been using a metaphor from my flying days: Our jet is standing on its nose, screaming toward Ma Earth at very high speed. We're probably gonna die, but it's just barely possible that with heroic efforts--measures that won't be found in the emergency procedures checklist--we just might be able to pancake this big rascal into a soft cornfield somehow and enable at least some of the passengers to get out alive.

But every second we delay making exactly the right corrective action makes it less likely that any given number will survive.

Of course less than one percent of you have flown a jet, so the metaphor probably doesn't scare you to damn death. Maybe you can find a sufficiently scary metaphor from your own field. Combat veterans will understand. Firefighters, maybe. Rest of you will just have to imagine.

I really, sincerely hope I'm wrong about the terrible troubles I see ahead if we can't pull out of this dive. Because I know--as surely as the sun coming up tomorrow--that only a fraction of Americans will continue working if they only get to keep 29% of their nominal income.

A big chunk will likely go "off the grid" and become self-sufficient, earning just a fraction of what they make now--barely over the amount that requires filing. But they'll get to keep virtually all of it.

And you people who have kids: Are you willing to consign your children to a 71% total tax rate?

Honestly, I don't know if the Republicans in congress have both the will and the creativity to pull us out. But I know most of the Dems in congress are ideologically welded to our current course. As is their leader.

Lessons from Juan Peron's rule in Argentina

How fast can a successful, modern nation sink into insolvency and financial ruin?

It took the former Soviet Union perhaps 50 years, depending on where one marks the onset of the fall.

But the world has also watched much faster implosions, and the record is probably held by Argentina under Juan Peron.

In 1946 Argentina was a wealthy, prosperous, modern nation. Then Juan Peron--a military officer with no experience in business or economics--was elected president, largely by promising a wealth of "free" benefits to the poor. His method of operation was to simply ignore all legal constraints, knowing that no one in the nation had the power to oppose him. In essence, he did anything he wanted and dared anyone to call him on it.

Peron demonized the rich and targeted large companies as the enemy, which enabled him to quickly nationalize virtually every significant aspect of Argentina's economy: the central bank, railways, telephone service, broadcasting, oil refining, gasoline retailing, electricity, fishing, airlines, steel manufacture, insurance--you name it.

He was supported in these actions by mobs of workers directed by him and his wife. The Peronista mobs freely roamed the capital city, unopposed by the police, and in minutes would literally wreck any business whose owners spoke against a proposed nationalization or otherwise offended Peron.

He decreed that there would be a single, government buyer--reassuringly called the Institute for the Promotion of Trade--for the nation's mostly exported grains and oilseeds. The agency proceeded to wreck the country's formerly hugely productive agricultural sector, Argentina’s main source of export earnings.

By 1951--just five short years after he took office--the nation's financial reserves were exhausted, inflation was climbing and productivity had plunged. The combination of massive new welfare programs and the government takeover of the most profitable industries (and subsequent mismanagement by Peron's handpicked supporters) had the predictable economic effect. But despite the worsening eonomic conditions, Peron remained popular with his base, who continued to benefit from the array of government giveaways.

As the economy spiraled downward, Peron began blaming his troubles on "enemies of the state:" Britain, the U.S. and all foreigners. He took over the country's flagship newspaper, La Prensa, when it began criticizing his policies.

At a time when skilled professors were in short supply, he fired more than 1,500 university professors who opposed his policies. Some universities were closed for years. In a move forecasting Pol Pot in Cambodia two decades later, Peron fanned suspicion and resentment of university students. His mobs painted the slogan "Build the Fatherland--kill a student" all over Buenos Aires. Another popular slogan reflecting the class warfare was "Shoes, yes! Books, no!"

Finally he began to suspect the Catholic church of opposing him, and in 1955 his mobs destroyed many churches, including two of most beautiful in Argentina, San Francisco and Santo Domingo.

That was the last straw, and the army staged a coup. Peron fled to neighboring Paraguay.

Unfortunately his successors couldn't dismantle the army of public employees Peron had built, and thus couldn't get back to the minimum government which had allowed Argentina to become wealthy in the first place. Labor violence and strikes by the powerful unions were a recurring problem.

A thriving nation was plunged into riot and ruin in just five years. It's a lesson worth studying.

There's an odd footnote to Peron's story: His diehard base never made the connection between his policies and the implosion of the economy, and continued to support him while he lived overseas. Eventually, after 18 years of absence, he returned to Argentina and was elected president again, with his wife as vice-president. However, he died nine months later.

Monday, July 18

Obie and Dems *mystified* at why businesses aren't hiring!

Obama--and apparently all libs/Democrats/"progressives"--seem to be utterly baffled by the fact that American businesses aren't hiring lots and lots of new employees.

Baffled, I tells ya!

Completely mystified.

Tell ya what, Barry: Just 'cause I'm a generous guy, I'll give you four clues that will enable you to solve this puzzle--and absolutely free!

Clue #1: The thoroughly pro-union, Democrat-dominated National Labor Relations Board has attacked one of the few American businesses that successfully exports billions of dollars of American-made products to the rest of the world. That would be Boeing Aircraft. They put a Billion dollars into buying and equipping an aircraft assembly line in South Carolina, only to have the NLRB tell 'em--after they'd already spent the money on the plant--that the board was considering ordering the company NOT to build any airplanes there. Stated reason? That opening a line in another state was "retaliation" against a very strike-prone union back in Washington state.

Ya think that might just possibly have a chilling effect on any business considering doing anything at all? Cuz if ya don't think that, you're an even bigger idiot than we've been seeing these two-plus years.

Also: Do you think we're all too stupid to realize that the NLRB would never have done this without a green light from the White House? I mean, come on--one of the nation's most successful companies, and probably the nation's biggest source of export earnings after agriculture, and you expect us to believe they'd risk killing this golden goose without asking you first? If so, you are stupid.

Clue #2: The same NLRB is opening hearings on whether to allow much faster elections on union certification at a company. History shows that when a company has time to explain to its employees what unionization actually entails, there's a good chance they'll vote against unionizing. Understandably, the unions want to cut off this possibility, by allowing as short a time as they can get before the certification election is held.

In many ways this is an equivalent of the defeated "card check" amendment, which would have abolished secret ballots for union certification elections. Given the intimidation practiced by union organizers, it doesn't take much imagination to see that a non-secret vote would generate lots more pro-union votes. Hardly fair, but that's how you guys roll.

And if I'm a business owner, how do I know that what you do next won't be even worse?

Clue #3: You're constantly demonizing corporations and businesses, as when you bitch about the tax incentive for corporate jets (which was enacted by your own Democrat-passed "stimulus" bill, by the way). But of course you have no trouble at all taking the huge, 750,000 pound Air Force One for a measly 150-mile hop. You know what a big time-saver having "your own" jet is. But you want to make it more expensive for businesses to have one.

Now, I understand that you're perfectly free to be a hypocrite about this issue. And I know how well it resonates with your liberal base. But if you want to campaign on this, how do we know what aspect of business or the tax code you'll hit next?

Clue #4: Obamacare. You claimed it would be a good thing for everyone. But if that's true, why have you granted something like 1,400 waivers to favored companies--most from heavily Democrat districts like Pelosi's?

If the damn thing is so good, why would a company seek a waiver from its requirements?

The answer, of course, is that it's a huge burden to businesses. As anyone could have told you. But of course, you don't care about that. You wanted to ram this through congress while your party controlled both houses, and you did--by bribing three key congresscritters with outrageous perks for their states.

You did that because your advisors told you it wouldn't pass on its own merits.

Oh, and which of your minions came up with that provision that said the really heavy burden kicked in if a business had 50 employees? That was brilliant--sheer genius. But only if your goal was to stall growing businesses at 49 employees for an extra couple of years.

(Actually we really small businesses should be grateful that you didn't make the damn thing mandatory for everyone down to the ten-year-olds trying to sell lemonade out of their front yard.)

So, if you were willing to go that far to stick it to businesses, why on earth would anyone think that's the last anti-business measure in your quiver?

Hope these clues will let you figure it out, Barry.

But I hafta say: based on your record of utter cluelessness thus far, I'm not holding my breath.

Three times more U.S. corn used for ethanol than to feed people

Ethanol is a type of vehicle fuel made from corn. As I posted a few weeks ago, a few of the corporate giants in the corn business have teamed with the "green" movement to get congress to create a huge subsidy for ethanol production. Result?
The Agriculture Department last week estimated that this year, for the first time ever, America will use more corn [to make] ethanol than for any other purpose.
The USDA estimates that in the current corn "marketing year" (September 2010 through 31 August 2011), 12.1 percent of all U.S. corn will be used for human food and seed. Another 43.7 percent will be fed to farm animals. But for the first time, the largest chunk--44.2 percent--will be used to make ethanol.

So, three-and-a-half times more U.S. corn is used for motor fuel than is used to feed people.

Congressmen of both parties are putting on a show of reducing subsidies for ethanol, but so far the proposals being considered would actually increase taxpayer support for ethanol. Typical of our corrupt congress.

We should all love the American farmer--they're the hardest-working folks in the country, and their efforts and expertise enable the rest of us to do something other than spend our entire lives trying to raise food. And obviously, high demand for corn--as for anything--keeps prices high. So while subsidizing the use of corn to make ethanol is raising food prices world-wide and costing taxpayers a bundle, it would be a mistake to stop subsidies instantly. Instead, I think they should be phased out over a fairly long period, say six to eight years.

Again, I don't think farmers should suffer if we end a web of subsidies that virtually none of 'em had anything to do with creating. Hopefully spreading the phase-out over several years will only reduce corn use for ethanol by a few percent each year, without significantly cutting world-wide demand--thus minimizing the hit to farm income.

The huge ethanol subsidy is yet one more example of how allowing government to subsidize *anything* distorts the market, and almost always sets up a situation where people will pay a price later to get rid of the subsidy system.

Misery Index at 28-year high?

There's a somewhat tongue-in-cheek metric called the Misery Index, which is the sum of government-reported unemployment and government-reported inflation.

Using the official numbers, it's at a 28-year high right now.

Last time it was this high was around 1986--and in 1981 (just after Reagan took office) it was almost ten points higher than today.

But a lot of seeming math whizzes at ZeroHedge looked at the chart (click the link) and smelled a rat: "I lived through those years," said one, "and it seems to me things were far, far better then than they are today."

This got commenters wondering if the problem was just everyone's lousy memory, or whether something was wrong with the index. The conclusion was that little by little, the government's procedures for measuring "official" unemployment have changed over the years. If the rules from the 1980's were applied today, unemployment would be closer to 20 percent. For example, today people who've been unemployed for 99 weeks are no longer counted as unemployed.

Neat way to reduce "official" unemployment, huh?

Same with inflation: Over the years the government has changed the "basket" of goods and services used to compute the CPI. Critics claim some of the items added have little effect on consumers' day-to-day transactions. Over the last decade or so, the added items tend to understate the "real" rate of inflation.

Result is that the math-savvy commenters at ZH think the "real" misery index is closer to 25 or so--which would put it higher than at any time since the Great Depression.

Just don't expect any in-depth analysis of this topic in the Lying Media. Because they're all about exalting Barack, regardless of the facts.

Barack don't need no facts.

Man converts to Islam, immediately flogged for...

The following story is too...ironic, maybe? Prophetic? You decide.

In Sydney, Australia, a man who had just converted to Islam had a pint with some friends to celebrate.

He apparently missed that part of the "education" process where they said "Muslims don't drink alcohol."

A night or two later, as he was asleep in his own bedroom at 1 a.m, he woke to find four "bearded men" in the room who proceeded to lash him 40 times, for drinking.

Islam: a religion of peace. Provided you don't drink or play music or show your face or ankles if you're female.

Absolutely fabulous.

Solution for public-sector pension problems

As most readers probably know by now, California and many other states have a huge problem with unfunded public pension liabilities: Enabled by greedy, ignorant or merely vote-seeking legislators, public-employees unions were able to negotiate ever-richer pensions, paid for by future taxpayers.

But predictably, the same legislators that approved the extravagant pensions didn't want to 'fess up to what should have been the true cost of funding those *today,* since that would limit what they could spend on other projects (and would also have revealed the legislators as being in the pocket of the unions).

Critics and math-savvy analysts repeatedly suggested public employees be required to contribute more to their own pensions, but the powerful unions ensured that this never happened.

As a result, unfunded public pension obligations in California alone are something like $248 Billion. And growing every day.

The state government is already running a multi-billion-dollar deficit, and no one thinks the legislature can close that deficit by raising taxes. So it doesn't seem possible that the pension shortfall could be funded from any feasible combination of tax increases or spending cuts.

When you have claimants demanding that the government pay them X, but the system has, say, one-half of X, what do you do? Time to look "outside the box" for a solution. It'll hurt, but what are the other choices? (We'll get to one of those in a moment.)

First, cut all public-employee pensions--current and future--by a percentage that started at, say, five percent on the lowest pensions and rose to 40 percent on pensions of $70,000 per year or more. That cut would apply to legislators, former governors and all university poobahs as well.

Second: Cap all public pensions at, say, $100,000 per year. Any retiree should be able to live on that amount, even if it means only being able to buy a new Mercedes ever four years instead of every year.

Third: The pension cap shall apply to the total of all pensions paid to an individual by all government entities in the state. In other words, no double-dipping allowed.

"Wait, you can't do that! You're breaking a legal contract!"

Actually, a legal principle called "force majeure" recognizes that contracts can be voided in the event of war, natural disasters, riots and other catastrophic events. No one imagined the state would completely run out of money, but....

Obviously, cutting pensions as outlined above will bite a lot of people who did nothing wrong. But it'll take only a small bite from low-level workers. It's also true that the fat cats at the top of the pyramid will take a much bigger hit--but at the same time, they've had years of huge salaries to build up assets that will help them cushion the bite.

Plus, they're all liberal Democrats, who feel everyone should give up their own disposable income (through paying more taxes) to support the public-employee's salary or retirement, so they should be able to appreciate the principle of reversing the direction of the cut.

That is, "You already agreed with the principle, senator, so how can you possibly complain when the exact same principle cuts against your own economic interest?"

But of course, they'll fight even the most minor cut tooth and nail. As anyone would. Which leads us to the "other option" I mentioned earlier:

If public employees succeed in blocking a reduction of their pension benefits--current and future--to a total that's within the state's ability to pay, then at some point the whole state goes bankrupt. Then who will pay the pensions?

You'd think that public employees in California would rather have a slightly smaller pension (at least on the low end) that the state could afford to pay, instead of 100 percent of no check at all.

Force majeure.

Sunday, July 17

A modest plan to reform SS and Medicare

Social Security and Medicare are the two main programs that are eating our lunch, financially speaking. Now, I don't doubt that the pols who created both programs had good intentions, but after much analysis I think both were doomed to exactly the outcome we see today: out of control costs that threaten to bankrupt the government.

Let me explain: It's well known that 95 percent of politicians will say and do anything to get elected and re-elected. Thus when constituents pleaded for the programs to be expanded to provide this or that new benefit for them, the pols didn't hesitate to give 'em your money.

No one seems to been both mathematically astute enough and grinchy enough to have said "Hey, wait--if you add this and that, and don't increase taxes to pay for the new benefits, eventually the system will go belly-up."

And of course it wouldn't have done any good if someone *had* said that, since politicians are notoriously unwilling to pay attention to reality when they want to do something.

But a second flaw would have doomed the two programs even if pols had done the right thing for the country instead of merely cashing their checks: Both programs depended on a pyramid-shaped population mix, with an ever-growing population of new tax-payers entering the system each year, supporting the small number of (usually) older people at the top. When that stopped happening, doom was inevitable.

The third fatal flaw was fraud: The amount of discovered Medicare/medicaid fraud, and SS disability fraud, is staggering. And no one believes we've found more than a small fraction of the true amount.

A system with a very large "design margin" could survive some fraud. But in a system crippled by multi-billions in bogus claims, plus fewer than expected numbers of people paying into the system's coffers, no such margin existed. So the fraud alone would have doomed the programs.

So how do we extricate ourselves? Well, it's neither simple nor painless, but I'd suggest a combination of "means testing" (the system wouldn't pay you if your income was more than X per year) and a graduated cut that would shave benefits by just a percent or two for those who get the least per month, increasing linearly up to, say, a 15 percent cut for those receiving the maximum monthly benefit.

I do realize that cutting even two percent from the poor will be generate a firestorm of protest, but I think everyone needs to be seen as having some skin in the game, no matter how nominal. Also, it seems certain that local charities could pretty easily compensate for a two percent cut in someone currently receiving, say, $600 per month. Since that would be just 12 bucks per month.

The problem with conceding that people receiving less than X per month shouldn't have their benefits reduced even a nominal, tiny amount is that once that door is open, everyone argues that X should be set higher and higher, reducing the benefit of the reform.

Next, pass a law that anyone convicted of SS disability fraud would get a mandatory ten years in jail. Couple that with a year-long amnesty IF fraudsters declared the full amount and made full restitution.

Medicare: Start by declaring a one-year program of no-penalty, no-jail amnesty for past or current fraud--providing that those wanting amnesty declare and repay the entire amount stolen. Harsh? Perhaps. But we're talking about national survival here.

Combine the amnesty with assessment of fines equal to three times any proven fraudulent amounts stolen for those not taking the confession/amnesty route. Plus stiff jail time. See if the combination coaxes a few million out of the woodwork.

Next, start eliminating procedures that the system will pay for. Patients who were grossly overweight shouldn't expect taxpayers to pony up for a new heart or knee replacement unless and until they got back to a reasonable weight. Otherwise it's pretty much closing portholes on the Titanic.

Draconian? Perhaps. But at some point, when there's not enough money to do everything, someone has to start making tough decisions with taxpayer money.

Problem with all the above is that the Dems won't go along, because they'd rather the whole country blow up than be seen as cracking down on fraudsters and minorities.

Oh well. I've lived a great life, and have no kids to grieve for. And I tried to show y'all a way to keep it solvent. C'est la vie.

Congrats to the Japanese womens' soccer team

Sincere congratulations to our good friends in Japan for the exciting women's world cup win.

And congratulations as well to the U.S. team for making it to the final and giving the world a heart-stopping game of superb performances.

Kudos all around. We'll look forward to meeting you again next time!

Govt director of Budget refuses to say if SS checks will continue

Jacob Lew was appointed by Obama as director of the Office of Management and Budget. A CNN reporter wanted to know if the government planned to keep Social Security checks coming if there was no agreement on the debt ceiling, and figured Lew was about the best guy to ask.

Lew refused to answer.

The Dems want to scare seniors in hopes they'll pressure GOP congresscritters to cave on the budget talks. And hey, if ya wanna play that way, fine with me. "Us Dems care *soooo* much about the 'little people.' But we're gonna cut off SS checks if we don't get our way." Yeah, sounds like a great strategy.

So he wouldn't say, "we're gonna let 'em starve", but also wouldn't reassure 'em either. 'Cause the strategy is to scare 'em and get 'em to pressure the GOP. So in refusing to answer, Lew is right in step with his boss, Obozo, who said he "couldn't guarantee" that Social Security checks would continue in event no agreement was reached on the debt limit.

Lew's part in this is intriguing: He started sucking at the government trough at the age of 18, as a "legislative aide." On graduating from Hahvahd he was appointed "principal domestic policy advisor" to House Speaker Tip O'Neill, and served at the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee as Assistant Director and then Executive Director.

In 1993 Bill Clinton named him as one of his "special assistants", and in 1995 appointed him director of the Office of Management and Budget, a position he held for three years (and would hold again under Obozo). During this time, to all appearances he proposed virtually nothing to help avert the current financial crisis. So he has a huge personal stake in pretending that since *he* did nothing to avert this crisis, *no one could possibly have seen it coming.*

And notice the way Lew doggedly refused to answer Crowley's simple question, either one way or the other. Rather, he dismissed the question (easy with a supportive interviewer) by saying “I think that once someone gets into the business of trying to ask about setting priorities it misses the question." IOW, "You're missing the point if you ask that."

CNN's Candy Crowley got the hint and let it drop.

Lew is one of the guys who *had to have known* that the deficit-spending situation was completely, unavoidably unsustainable. And had we *started* paring some of the entitlements by just a couple of percent back then, we'd have a lot more breathing room today. But of course, he said and did nothing.

No surprise, then, that today he's doing his damnedest to deflect any pointed questions.

What a buffoon. A Poobah promoted above his level of competence.

300-acre pot plantation discovered in northern Mexico

The Mexican army seems to have discovered a camouflaged, irrigated 300-acre marijuana-growing plantation in the middle of a desert 200 miles south of the U.S. border.

The plants would have produced an estimated $153 million worth of pot per year, or enough to keep every member of the California legislature high for six months.

Folks, if the cartels are growing this much weed just across the border, it's extremely unlikely that our best efforts will be able to stop more than a fraction of it--say, half for a first hack. Now, half of $153 mill is roughly $75 million bucks, most of which goes to the grower/supplier. That's enough money to bribe any government official needed.

And that's assuming the family of the Mexican president didn't own a big chunk of the operation to begin with.

Regardless of how one feels about weed, I think this is a pretty clear indication that it's time to legalize the stuff and let American entrepreneurs compete with foreign suppliers. Recall that banning alcohol in the U.S. back in the 1920's had very little effect on consumption. All it did was funnel millions of dollars to organized crime.

Cops bust girls selling lemonade in their own yard

Wanna know how all-controlling, all-powerful, all-intrusive "your" [sarc] government has become--at every single level? You won't believe the story that follows:

Cops in a small Georgia town ordered three little girls to stop selling lemonade in their own front yard.

One of the girls said that the cop initially said "You can't hold up the sign," but a few minutes later (after checking with higher-ups, perhaps?) he said they had to stop selling lemonade--which was clearly the real objective all along.

Now, I'm not picking on Georgia. The local health department in some Oregon city barred another kids' lemonade operation, but that was at some sort of medieval fair, not in the kids' own front yard.

Point is, all levels of government are absolutely infested with people like this. Obviously, not all govt employees are this Nazi-like, but enough are that stories like this are all too common.

And listen to the local police chief's explanation: "We didn't know who made the lemonade, or what it contained, so we had to act to enforce city ordinances."

Gee, if only the country had been that diligent in vetting the guy currently occupying the White House.

If the town's regulations require kids to get a license for selling lemonade out of their own yard, there's a hint right there that some city poobahs need to be fired, forthwith.

What's next? You stalinists gonna make a kid offering to mow lawns in the neighborhood pass a proficiency exam and pay fifty bucks for a license? Come on, you know you want to!

As it happens, fifty bucks is what the city demanded for a ONE-DAY license to sell lemonade.

From their own front yard.

Of course the city, in its graciousness, also offered to sell 'em a license good for a whole year for $150. Hey, bargain.

The reporter commented that by selling lemonade the girls would have learned something about business and selling stuff. And sure enough, they probably did learn--just not the lessons that would have been learned 20 years ago.

Saturday, July 16

How big is the "government" in the U.S.?

Just how big is government here in the U.S., compared to other countries? Try this:

China has 1.4 billion people (give or take a few million). That's 1,400 million. Their economy kicks out a gdp valued at around $5 Trillion.

For 2011, combined spending of U.S. federal, state, city and county governments is projected to be about... $5 Trillion. In other words, all levels of the US governments combined will spend an amount equal to the entire economic output of China.

"Our" federal government alone spends more ($3.7 Trillion) than the value of the entire gdp of Germany--which is certainly a world-class economy at $3.3 Trillion.

I do realize a lot of what governments do is cut checks to citizens, so it's not like we're spending $3.7 Trillion on bureaucrats' salaries, but still, it gives an idea of how vast the federal govt has become.

Budget cuts? Not for the diversity industry

California's budget woes have resulted in funding for the state's massive university system being "cut to the bone," according to the office of the president of the UC system.

Ah. Well, maybe not quite: The Diversity lobby hasn't lost a dime. In fact, UC San Diego has just created a new full-time “vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion.”

The new position adds to the university's already massive diversity apparatus, which includes the Chancellor’s Diversity Office, the associate vice chancellor for faculty equity, the assistant vice chancellor for diversity, the faculty equity advisors, the graduate diversity coordinators, the staff diversity liaison, the undergraduate student diversity liaison, the graduate student diversity liaison, the chief diversity officer, the director of development for diversity initiatives, the Office of Academic Diversity and Equal Opportunity, the Committee on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues, the Committee on the Status of Women, the Campus Council on Climate, Culture and Inclusion, the Diversity Council, and the directors of the Cross-Cultural Center, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, and the Women’s Center.

Did you get lost in the torrent of titles? Yeah, me too. And can you imagine how much all those positions consume in salary and overhead? Multiply each single position by $200,000, and each office or council by 100K and you'll be in the ballpark.

This, dear reader, is what the academic and government world considers "cutting unnecessary expenses to the bone."

Keep that in mind next time some grand poobah claims they've wrung out all the possible waste in government.

Oh, and lest you think this insanity is unique to UC San Diego: Berkeley already has a "vice chancellor for equity and inclusion, employing 17 people including a “chief of staff,” two “project/policy analysts,” and a “director of special projects.” According to state databases, the VC-EI's base pay in 2009 was $194,000, not including including summer salary or "administrative stipends." Add the salaries of the VC's staff and you’re looking at over $1 million a year.

By comparison, the official salary for assistant professors at UC starts at around $53,000. Scrap the VC-EI office and the U could hire just under 20 new assistant professors--some of whom might actually teach something.

Pardon me--I don't know what I was thinking to write that. Because as everyone knows, the purpose of universities isn't to teach, but to convert taxpayer dollars into cushy salaries for the top 300 administrators per campus.

(h/t Heather MacDonald at City Journal)

Obama, 2006: "Raising debt limit a sign of leadership failure."

Who said the following?

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.

Was it Newt Gingrich?

Paul Ryan? Rick Perry? Eric Cantor?

Friends, that was freshman senator Barack Hussein Obama just five years ago (2006).

Way back in '06, Obama said raising the debt ceiling was "a sign of leadership failure." Today, with his own majestic self at the helm, it's a sign of mature leadership.

Back then, Obama bloviated that deficit spending signaled "our government’s reckless fiscal policies." Today, endless deficits are a sign of brilliant leadership.

Back then, Obama assailed deficit spending as "shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren." Now he wants to lift the debt ceiling while avoiding any meaningful spending cuts. In other words, business as usual.

So what happened to get Obozo to do a 180-degree flip on deficits and raising the debt limit, huh?

Does his rousing, responsible-sounding 2006 speech suggest that he has no trouble lying convincingly when it suits him?

Friday, July 15

"Massive debt is no problem"--national magazine

Suppose you were barely keeping your head above the water, financially speaking. Credit cards and HELOC maxed out, savings gone, sold off any stocks, re-fi'd the house, and still spending more than you make.

I know this is a stretch for most of ya, but work with me here.

Now suppose you consult a "financial advisor"--not just some jake-leg but a guy who works for a national magazine and writes a regular column for 'em called "Moneyland." And that this fountain of wisdom says: "You are NOT drowning in debt. What matters isn't the dollar amount of your debt, but what it costs you to service it. And compared to years past, that figure is relatively low now, due to low interest rates."

If you heard this, would you think the guy was perhaps a bit crazy?

Well, that's the sage advice from writer Zachary Karabell at Time.

Folks, this is what passes for wisdom among the self-appointed "elites."

Oh, Karabell notes that debt service is now costing us around $250 Billion per year. As in, a quarter of a Trillion dollars.

But hey, no problem! Because a writer from Time magazine says it's not a problem.

Wow, I feel SO much better now.

Obama reverses course on entitlement reforms; MSM says nothing

The number of ways the Democrat-supporting Media can support their beloved causes is large indeed. Sometimes it's an outright fabrication ("Fake but accurate"). Other times it's failing to note a 180-degree policy reversal by a Democrat politician.

To see the latter in action, take a look at this glowing 2009 piece in the Obama-loving Time magazine, titled "Can Obama Actually Achieve Entitlement Reform?" To win votes from gullible middle-class whites, Obie often noted during the campaign that he was all for "entitlement reform." Here's Time's propaganda from 2009 (obv after he'd been elected but continuing the campaign promise of "reform, reform"):
Obama now plans to accomplish the impossible: reverse the trajectory of the political universe and make real progress on reforming Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
So, how'd all that "reforming" turn out, Obie? Get a lot of reforming done, didja? Did you, as one of Time's many fawning authors wrote, "reverse the trajectory of the political universe and make real progress on reforming Medicare, Medicaid and SS?

Of course no one over 25 will be surprised to learn that with Democrats controlling both senate and house, no entitlement reforms worthy of the term were enacted. In fact I'm not aware that any bills to do that were even introduced.

Now for the fun part: In the current fight over the debt "ceiling", Obama now says that as a matter of "our sacred trust with our seniors," he'll fight to prevent entitlement spending from being cut at all.

Whoa! I thought Time reported, just 2 years ago, that Obie was planning to "reverse the trajectory of the political universe," as Time breathlessly put it, by cutting (pardon, "reforming") entitlement spending. Now he's reversed course completely-- and no one in the MSM is calling him on it!

As Ace put it,
The media knows that America's solvency relies upon some reform to entitlement spending. But now comes a machine pol whom they love, love, love and suddenly they've reversed their position on whether entitlements need to be reformed.
And through our plane's windscreen, the fields below our plummeting craft grow larger ....