Friday, July 31, 2009
Major Leage Baseball cannot compete with all of the other diversions available to consumers - the internet, video games, other professional sports, etc. MLB may be just another victim of the long tail phenomenon that has overtaken all of life. As options for amusement proliferate and the legitimacy of our sports heroes deteriorates, the MLB will become more and more a niche sport.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Four of the most powerful business leaders in America arrived at the White House one day last month for lunch with President Barack Obama, sitting down in his private dining room just steps from the Oval Office.
But even for powerful CEOs, there’s no such thing as a free lunch: White House staffers collected credit card numbers for each executive and carefully billed them for the cost of the meal with the president.
Any other President and I may have called it just a lapse in etiquette but coming from Obama, I have to believe it's a very calculated and snarky move aimed to demonstrate his no-nonsense approach to big business. I hasten to add other qualifiers to "no-nonsense" like "disdainful" and "proletarian internationalist".
Congressional officials say the government plans to suspend the popular "cash for clunkers" program amid concerns it could quickly use up the $1 billion in rebates for new car purchases.
The Transportation Department called congressional offices late Thursday to alert them to the decision to halt the program, which offered owners of old cars and trucks $3,500 or $4,500 toward a new, more fuel-efficient vehicle.
The congressional officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
Through late Wednesday, 22,782 vehicles had been purchased through the program and nearly $96 million had been spent. But dealers raised concerns of large backlogs in the system, prompting the suspension.
The myth that the poor are deprived of medical treatment in the U.S. is a cherished one in the current debate. When I tried to point out a week or two ago that in France (as in Britain and as on the planet generally) there are two levels of medical service — one for the rich, one for the poor — Yglesias and others similar couldn't wait to point out that at least the French poor can get treatment when they need it. What a stack of angry e-mails.
Yet, in the U.S., as many Americans (although not, apparently, many Europeans or Yglesians) know, under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, anyone who can be dragged through an ER door will receive medical treatment so long as their condition is an "emergency" — and being left to die in the street probably qualifies. In fact, when I asked an expert on this topic (for reasons I can't understand, she didn't want her name or the name of her organization cited) if a sprained ankle or broken leg would qualify as an "emergency," she told me that an ear infection would probably qualify. Common sense would tell you that if you walk into an ER filled with chest-clutching geezers, you might be happier coming back another day, but treatment can't be denied. Hospitals are not allowed to ask about money before giving this kind of medical treatment and ability to pay cannot be a factor in providing it. It's given to all comers, no matter where they're from or what language they speak. As Ramesh Ponnuru pointed out here some years ago, the penalties for violating the statute are severe.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
As the finance minister of Sweden, Borg is the chief financial officer of a country long known as a walking billboard for a social welfare state. In Borg's view, the 1970s and 1980s were lost decades for Sweden. Left-leaning politicians pushed government spending, excluding investment outlays, from 22% of gross domestic product in 1970 to 30% in 1980. Real growth fell from an average of 4.4% annually in the 1960s to 2.4% in the 1970s and remained low for the next two decades.
Like many societies, we went too far in our welfare-state ambitions," say
Borg (pronounced "Bor-ee").
Since sweeping to power in 2006, Reinfeldt's center-right Alliance has been shrinking Sweden's welfare state. The government is resisting calls to rescue its struggling auto industry. To hear Borg tell it, his government isn't inspired by coldhearted Darwinism but by cold, hard evidence that the easier the state makes life for people, the easier they take it.
Borg's prescription for growth is simple: cut taxes. His government has slashed the tax rate on low incomes from 30.7% to 17.1%. The combined tax take (national and local; income and other) has fallen by 2.5 percentage points in three years to 46.6% of gross domestic product.
No, it’s not punishing the rich, I think the way I look at it is that if I can afford to do a little bit more so that a whole bunch of families out there have a little more security, when I already have security, that’s part of being a community.
"Part of a being a community"... if someone wasn't aware of the nuances of Obama's political philosophy they might be led to believe that he's in favor of taking money from the wealthy and giving it to the poor. Thankfully none of the political philosophy of his mother, father or grandparents rubbed off on him.
I said it before, I'll say it again. He's too arrogant to let her take any of his spotlight. She's too proud to take a backseat to a powerful man, yet again. Watch for a Reagan vs. Ford challenge.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Update: And it all comes full circle. I googled, "I hear you're mad about Brubeck" because I couldn't place the exact Donald Fagen song it came from and came upon a piece on Brubeck from 1998. Key parts:
The song "The New Frontier" by Steely Dan's Donald Fagen puts the music of Dave Brubeck - who comes to Britain later this month for a major tour, tied in with the release of a rare new album - in a very specific cultural context. Fagen's innocent narrator recalls a pre-college idyll from the early 1960s. At a party, he's smitten by a girl with Tuesday Weld eyes. "I hear you're mad about Brubeck," Fagen sings. "I love your eyes, I love him too. He's an artist, a pioneer, we've got to have some music on the new frontier." The song is a sardonic take on the optimism of America in the Cold War period; the horn-rimmed, high-minded figure of Brubeck makes a potent symbol for the era's aesthetics. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the Dave Brubeck Quartet was the acceptable face of jazz for America's white middle classes. Some people still haven't forgiven him for it.
Brubeck's music mixed jazz with classical references and complex time- signatures - "Take Five" is in 5/4 time. It was the kind of soundtrack that could have been designed especially for Mad magazine's parodies of East Coast suburban cocktail parties: narrow-tied advertising execs talked psychoanalysis over too many dry Martinis, before unwisely attempting the frug or the pony. You could even imagine President Kennedy getting down to "Take Five". The single that followed it, "Unsquare Dance", was equally charming, but less of a hit. And it dared to raise the question of whether Brubeck was, in the argot of the times, a bit of a square himself.
- Freedom to choose what's in your plan
- Freedom to be rewarded for healthy living, or pay your real costs
- Freedom to choose high-deductible coverage
- Freedom to keep your existing plan
- Freedom to choose your doctors
Well, today National Review again puts common sense ahead of insanity with an editorial that attempts to put the Birther speculation to bed:
Much foolishness has become attached to the question of President Obama’s place of birth, and a few misguided souls among the Right have indulged it. The myth that Barack Obama is ineligible to be president represents the hunt for a magic bullet that will make all the unpleasant complications of his election and presidency disappear.
One of the unfortunate consequences of this red-herring discussion is that there are plenty of questions about Obama’s background and history that we would like to have answered. In spite of two books of memoirs, there remain murky areas in his biography. And when it comes to those college transcripts, count us among those who’d love to know whether Dr. Bailout ever took an advanced economics class and how he performed in it.
Barack Obama may prefer European-style socialized health care. He may consider himself a citizen of the Earth and sometimes address his audiences as “people of the world,” as though he were born not in another country but on another planet. Like Bruce Springsteen, he has a lot of bad political ideas; but he was born in the U.S.A.
"We have ways of changing behavior and changing those health outcomes so that we don't have to deal with the medical consequences of obesity," added Mr. Levi, who advocates community-based programs that promote physical activity and better nutrition.
We have an enormous amount of publicly available information in this country on the negative effects of eating poorly. That information is available in print, online and in any number of other sources including television. There is no way that anyone is going to convince me that they don't know what's healthy to eat and what's not. Which means that when "community-based programs" fail there will need to be an additional solution, namely the creation of penalty-based incentives to force people to get healthy.
Just as the Democrats are suggesting they've come up with new "fun" ways of taxing those who opt for plastic surgery, I suspect they'll also come up with taxing people who exceed acceptable BMI levels. It may not be a weigh station at the side of the highway next to a credit card swipe machine but there will be punitive ways to "change behavior".
Monday, July 27, 2009
Update from the linked story:
CONGRESS DAILY's Peter Cohn reveals: The idea was broached in a meeting with OMB Director Orszag in mid-July, after which Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus told reporters he had heard some "interesting," "creative," and "kind of fun" ideas.
Why then doesn't the Left use similar methods to determine what the impact of 1,000 pages of laws will do to the healthcare system in 5,10, 15 years? Neither the administration nor Congressional Democrats are seriously analyzing the potential impact of 1,000 pages of law. They are having difficulty finding time to read the law much less model the scenarios it produces.
Place of Birth
- If Obama was born in Kenya, then the fact that his mother was American citizen is covered under 8 U.S. Code Section 1401(g) which states:
(g) a person born outside the geographical limits of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is an alien, and the other a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, was physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling not less than five years, at least two of which were after attaining the age of fourteen years: Provided, That any periods of honorable service in the Armed Forces of the United States, or periods of employment with the United States Government or with an international organization as that term is defined in section 288 of title 22 by such citizen parent, or any periods during which such citizen parent is physically present abroad as the dependent unmarried son or daughter and a member of the household of a person.
- If somehow his mother invalidated the clause by not being in the country for 5 consecutive years, it does not matter now. If she jetted off to Kenya for 2 weeks while pregnant with Obama, that's not going to get Obama removed from office no matter how hard some wish it might.
- If Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961 as the child of a British subject and an American citizen, then he had dual citizenship. His campaign has admitted that.
- Now, that might be a point for debate - should we have a President who once held dual citizenship? Unfortunately for those who believe it's important, it wasn't raised. It's a moot point now - unless, in 2012, we debate whether being a British subject at birth is what made Obama a socialist :)
The relevant Constitutional clause reads as follows:
No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
If he is not careful, Barack Obama may end up as one of the least popular presidents in American history. His dream of re-making the world’s greatest power into a large-scale version of modern-day Germany - with high taxation, dominant trade unions, overbearing government bureaucracy, stifling employment regulations, low defence spending, de-nuclearisation, a naive emphasis on soft power, and a constant desire to apologise for the past – is a nightmarish vision that fortunately is opposed by a growing majority of Americans. The spirit of individual liberty and free enterprise remains the most powerful force in the United States today, and any government that goes against it is bound to fail in imposing its agenda.
Obama - I understand those who protest that some countries have weapons that others do not. No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons. And any nation - including Iran - should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That commitment is at the core of the Treaty, and it must be kept for all who fully abide by it. And I am hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal.
Clinton - What we want to do is to send a message to whoever is making these decisions that if you're pursuing nuclear weapons for the purpose of intimidating, of projecting your power, we're not going to let that happen. First, we're going to do everything we can to prevent you from ever getting a nuclear weapon. But your pursuit is futile, because we will never let Iran--nuclear-armed, not nuclear-armed, it is something that we view with great concern, and that's why we're doing everything we can to prevent that from ever happening.
Obama's statement is empty - he's in effect saying that the thwarting of Iran will not happen until the nuclear nations of the world agree to dismantle and destroy their nuclear stockpiles. This will not happen. Clinton's statement is far more strongly worded and is a sharp turn from her comments earlier this week which indicated that we let Iran to go nuclear and that, at that point, we would extend a "nuclear umbrella" over the nations of the region. The statement is far more proactive than the earlier statement and more proactive than nearly anything Obama has said recently about the Iranian program. Obama's proactivity is expressed through a desire to commit all G8 nations to action in the form of negotiation.
So, did Secretary Clinton overstep? I suspect she did and I suspect we will see a rift develop between her and Obama. He is not comfortable sharing the limelight with anyone.
Juxtapose these figures with the Debt/GDP data from this old blog post which shows that Italy has a debt/income ratio of 103.7%. That means that they owe $104 for every dollar they create. AND they have a rapidly declining birthrate. How does this ugly story end?
Saturday, July 25, 2009
This a macro perspective on conservation over potential development - elites suggesting that there should be no more growth on the back of environmentally unfriendly excess. There is a micro view as well, recently discussed by Steyn and others over at NRO. This is not elites of the world telling entire countries how they should live, it's elites of the US telling less fortunate Americans how they should live.
The best example is Al Gore, he of the 10,000 sq ft mansion in Nashville, telling Americans that we only have X number of months to save the world. As far as I know, there only two Gores left at the family home - Al and Tipper. Their children are all grown. Why do they need 10,000 ft for 2 people?
There is another example, brought to the fore by Steyn and Greg Pollowitz. That is of Thomas Friedman who has said the following things about environmentalism:
- Henceforth, every investment decision made in America — about how homes are built, products manufactured or electricity generated — will look for the least-cost low-carbon option. And weaving carbon emissions into every business decision will drive innovation and deployment of clean technologies to a whole new level and make energy efficiency much more affordable.
- How could Republicans become so anti-environment, just when the country is going green?
- You want to make a difference? Then get out of Facebook and into somebody’s face. Get a million people on the Washington Mall calling for a price on carbon.
- What I've been trying to do in this book [Hot, Flat, and Crowded] is to rename green as geopolitical, geostrategic, geo-economic, capitalistic, patriotic.
- There won't be such a thing as a "green home," there will just be a home, and you will not be able to build it unless it is at the highest standards of green energy, efficiency and sustainability.
Update: Here's a nice overhead shot:
What kind of environmental impact is there from maintaining that palatial landscape?
By the way, Friedman has two adult daughters now. One would expect it's about time for him and his wife to downsize and become more patriotic because, as you may know, he likes to say "green is the new red, white and blue".
I was struck by this paragraph which I think has eluded many who now vehemently support the President from the left-of-left-of-center:
But the key margin that got him from 45 to 53% were the independents and old Reagan Democrats. And what put them on board was not just their weariness with George Bush, but rather their flawed hunch that Obama was another Clinton rather than Carter, a realist and centrist rather than an ossified ideologue, who could talk well, bring factions together, and govern from the center.
Some believe that 53% is an overwhelming landslide in this country. It is not. Obama did not have a mandate to try to move the country as far to the Left as he is attempting to. He will face an electorate in 2010 and 2012 that wholly rejects his policies.
Friday, July 24, 2009
The brick actually went through the bedroom window of a white 4 year old living in the house with his mother. Why is race important? Well, because the brick had a note tied to it which stated, "Keep Eastside Black, Keep Eastside Strong" (pictured)
So, if this is a real incident (and I have no reason to believe it's not) then you would think it would be classified as a hate crime, right? Isn't this the definition of a hate crime?
Police have not classified this incident as a hate crime, said Austin Police Sgt. Richard Stresing, because hate crimes target an individual specifically because of an identifying characteristic, like race. Police say the incident has been classified as criminal mischief and deadly conduct.
Earlier in the day, Gibbs had dismissed a suggestion that the backlash from police groups could be distressing to the White House, given that Obama has enjoyed a positive relationship with the law enforcement community.
"I think the Fraternal Order of Police endorsed McCain," Gibbs fired back, referring to Obama's Republican opponent in the 2008 election. "If I'm not mistaken."
Rolling Stone did an interview with Nels Cline (guitarist) on the new album and the suits:
It was kind of a rushed job. The idea was born three months before Lollapalooza and it takes at least two months to get the suit, and they had to make not only enough for the whole band with different designs and different colors, but Jeff also ordered jackets for the Total Pros, our horn section. I think he just wanted to show to be very special for the local audience, for the Lollapalooza audience. Something for the local fans. And then we did wear them again at Tanglewood this year.
They're actually strangely comfortable to wear. It's hard for me to wear a jacket and rock out. I don't do it normally. But certainly in the service of the nudie suit glamour, one must suffer for fashion. I just kept looking around at everybody going, '"Damn!They look good!"
Which got me thinking, "where the hell did the 'Nudie' suit come from anyway?" It was hugely popular during among the Country & Western musical scene of the 50s and 60s (think Porter Wagoner, Hank Williams, Roy Rogers and even Elvis Presley). Apparently from a guy named Nudie... only in America:
Cohn was born in Kiev as Nuta Kotlyarenko and moved to New York as a child. Initially moving to California to become a boxer, he instead worked as an extra and a costume designer. He moved to Minnesota for a while, marrying in 1934. Cohn and his wife Bobbie moved to New York City, where they opened their first store, Nudie's for the Ladies, which specialized in customized underwear for showgirls.
Nudie returned to California in 1947, where he talked bandleader Tex Williams into auctioning off a horse to purchase him a sewing machine. Opening a store at 5015 Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood, Nudie began designing Hollywood western wear, a style promoted in films from the prewar era. His designs notable for even greater than usual ostentatiousness, including extensive use of rhinestones and themed-appliques. One of his early designs, for singer Porter Wagoner, was a peach-colored suit featuring rhinestones, a covered wagon appliqué on the back, and wagon wheel piping on the legs.
In the past four days, Mr. Obama gave “exclusive” interviews to Jim Lehrer of PBS, Katie Couric of CBS and Meredith Vieira of NBC. He gave two interviews to The Washington Post on one day, one to the editorial page editor and one to news reporters. He held a conference call with bloggers. His hourlong session in the East Room on Wednesday night was his second news conference of the day. And on Thursday, he invited Terry Moran of ABC to spend the day with him for a “Nightline” special.
The thrust of piece is that there is a chance that Obama's rhetoric loses its power after too much overuse. I would argue that an additional problem is that people are seeing a President who is spending all of his time talking to the press and little doing actual, you know, work.
Poll cops, docs and their extended families. How many 1000s (10s of 1000s??) could he have negatively persuaded?
Perhaps a number will help: 35%. That is the aggregate percentage of United States GDP produced by the three industries that the Democrats hope to restructure from the top down: Health care (17% of GDP), energy (9.8% of GDP), and financial services (8% of GDP). Think about that. Without even considering the transformational impact of proposed anti-business laws of general application, such as the Orwellian "employee free choice act," the Obama administration wants to redesign 35% of gross domestic product from the center. And he proposes to do it all in a rush this summer, lest the decline in his popularity and that of the Congressional Democrats erodes his power to do so.
MORE: A reader makes the useful point that one might also plausibly include the 4% of GDP attributable to the automotive industry. The 39% solution?
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Of all the things Obama has said in his half-year in office, I think the most offensive was his assertion that Israel must “engage in serious self-reflection.” The Israelis are experts in “serious self-reflection.” The Jewish people is expert in “serious self-reflection.” They have been seriously self-reflecting for several thousand years — they practically invented the practice. Israelis, since the founding — refounding — of that state, have had to do some urgent self-reflecting, and other reflecting. They live in a tinderbox; their existence and survival are threatened all the time. Barack Obama knows nothing about serious self-reflection compared with the average Israeli — compared even with a relatively unreflective Israeli. It’s their lives that are on the line, not Obama’s. It is they who have gone through war after war, not Obama. And those were wars of attempted annihilation: the annihilation of you-know-who.People always speak condescendingly, ignorantly, and offensively about and to the Israelis. It’s kind of a world specialty. But I think our new American president may have taken the cake.
"I was actually most struck by his answer to the last question, about the arrest of Henry Louis Gates. It’s the kind of question to which a president would normally reply with something like: “that's a local police matter, I don't know the details and I know it will be worked out responsibly,” and move along. Obama gave a lengthy review of the facts, called the police officers involved stupid, and implied they are also liars. Very odd behavior for a president."
My first thought was that Obama is trying to divert our attention from the healthcare trainwreck taking place just behind him. Unfortunately, my second thought was that Obama believes his office gives him the right to act as judge, jury and executioner. Sure, the charges had been dropped, but that does not give him the right to pass judgement on a local cop. Overall, not a big deal, especially in light of all else that is going on, but nevertheless annoying.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
* NPR ran this story in evening drive time: "Who Has Access To Max Baucus?"
* I hit YouTube and somehow got served this recommendation: Senator Max Baucus Under Health Lobby Influence
* And then on Google News, I was pointed to the TPM blog (not a news source, go figure) on Baucus and other Blue Dog Dems: Concerned With Baucus, House Blue Dogs, Obama To Turn Up Heat On Health Care--Again
Thankfully for Baucus, he holds his seat for another 6 years, otherwise he would have to pay closer attention to the ones with steely knives standing to the left of him.
Nancy Pelosi: “The president of the United States, a total failure, losing all credibility with the American people on the economy, on the war, on energy, you name the subject."
Harry Reid: "The man's father is a wonderful human being," Reid, D-Nev., told students at Del Sol High School when asked about the president's policies. "I think this guy is a loser."
Joe Biden: “We should take zero backseat to this pres, talking about appeasement. … Under him, Israel is less safe.” He also admitted to initially calling Bush’s comments “bull----.” “I reacted viscerally,” he said. “But the essence of what I said was accurate. I should have said malarkey.”
James Carville: "I certainly hope he doesn't succeed."
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Does this include illegal immigrants? Does this include all people whether they can pay or not? How will we collect? What are the penalties if people avoid their responsibility to pay? Will they go to jail or like others who have avoided paying the government what they owed, will they end up in a cabinet-level position in the Obama administration?
Six months into the president’s term, you don’t read much about this post-partisan future anymore. It may be because on almost every big-ticket legislative item (the stimulus, climate change, and now health care), Mr. Obama has been pushing a highly ideological agenda with little (and in some cases zero) support from across the aisle. Yet far from stating the obvious—that sitting in the Oval Office is a very partisan president—the press corps is allowing Mr. Obama to evade the issue by coming up with novel redefinitions.
I said it to friends last year and am sure I heard it from many smarter than I: electing Obama is like electing Tom Coburn (considered by some the furthest right of the Republican Senate Caucus) and calling him a post-partisan. The only true post-partisan in the race for the presidency was the great coalition builder and centrist, John McCain. Guess how much credit he got for being a real post-partisan.
Just to realize how ridiculous it was that the press went along with the idea that Obama=centrist, let's engage in a thought experiment: imagine if the race had been Senator Joe Lieberman (centrist) vs. Senator Tom Coburn (most conservative). Would the press have suggested that Coburn was the post-partisan and Lieberman was an idealogue?
The question is - does Obama believe that any criticism of his plans is solely criticism of him or does he suggest that in order to garner the sympathy of the fence-sitters who oppose personal attacks?
Monday, July 20, 2009
In his first piece of legislation as Minnesota's junior senator, Al Franken is looking to expand the number of service dogs available to wounded veterans.
Franken wrote in an opinion piece published Monday in the Minneapolis Star Tribune that his proposed pilot program will train "a statistically significant number of dogs" to measure the benefits to veterans living with devastating injuries sustained on the battlefield.
The dogs' companionship, Franken said, provides invaluable health benefits -- both physical and emotional -- to veterans suffering from debilitating injuries and psychological disorders.
How does his press release compare to the actual CBO's projections? Here, there is no mention of the revenue neutrality of the bill. In fact, it shows the bill adding to the deficit.
A Texas Airman stationed at an Air Force Base near Sacramento, Calif. has lost both legs after surgeons reportedly botched a routine surgery to remove his gallbladder.
Colton Read, 20, underwent laproscopic surgery last week at David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base near Sacramento. Laproscopic surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that involves making a tiny incision to minimize pain and speed recovery time.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Here's my favorite song - The Underdog - from their last album - Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga - a very solid followup to 2005's Gimme Fiction (in my humble opinion, their best record to date).
MUMBAI, India — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton opened a three-day visit to India on Saturday by urging India not to repeat American mistakes in contributing to global pollution, and she passionately defended U.S. demands for help in fighting terrorism.
"We acknowledge now with President Obama that we have made mistakes in the United States, and we along with other developed countries have contributed most significantly to the problem that we face with climate change," she said. "We are hoping a great country like India will not make the same mistakes."
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Frankly, I don’t get it. Democratic leaders in Congress think it’s outrageous they were never told about a program that was never put into effect. The only potential scandal I can see is that the program was never put into effect — and that we’re telling the whole world about it.
Call me crazy, but I just assumed that the CIA was out there trying to kill as many senior members of al-Qaeda as it could. Congress, in the spirit of broad patriotic bipartisan righteousness, authorized the use of force on al-Qaeda after it killed 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11, 2001. Now we find out that the CIA lacked the competence or will to hunt down and kill men desperately in need of killing.
It’s as if, years after Pearl Harbor, it was reported that the OSS had never tried to kill senior Japanese or German officials.
I'll try to keep this to a minimum on this blog but indulge me for today.
From Politico, if a Republican had said this...
Of all the statistics pouring into the White House every day, top economic adviser Larry Summers highlighted one Friday to make his case that the economic free-fall has ended.
The number of people searching for the term “economic depression” on Google is down to normal levels, Summers said.
Forgive me, but what is he talking about? Normal levels? How did he benchmark this? What indications do we have that a search for that term means absolutely anything? It's an unbelievably weak argument and Larry Summers is no dummy. He may be the most brilliant person in the administration. But he's trying to cover for what have been truly disasterous policies from the Obama administration.
Let's play prognosticator here - I am betting that as Obama continues to hog the foreign spotlight, in the wake of what will be defeats on healthcare and cap & trade, Clinton will decide that she has had enough. She will not last the whole term.
Friday, July 17, 2009
I'm with SayAnything. Why won't the Liberal idealogues try something they've never tried before? Cut taxes, reduce spending, cut regulation. Encourage productivity. Don't punish it.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Under current law, the federal budget is on an unsustainable path, because federal debt will continue to grow much faster than the economy over the long run. Although great uncertainty surrounds long-term fiscal projections, rising costs for health care and the aging of the population will cause federal spending to increase rapidly under any plausible scenario for current law. Unless revenues increase just as rapidly, the rise in spending will produce growing budget deficits. Large budget deficits would reduce national saving, leading to more borrowing from abroad and less domestic investment, which in turn would depress economic growth in the United States. Over time, accumulating debt would cause substantial harm to the economy.
I hope this guy doesn't somehow suffer the same fate as the three inspectors general that have been fired in the last 60 days.
Before he came to CBO, Doug Elmendorf was a senior fellow in the Economic Studies program at the Brookings Institution. As the Edward M. Bernstein Scholar, he served as coeditor of the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity and the director of the Hamilton Project, an initiative to promote broadly shared economic growth.
He is appointed by Congressional leaders and has only been in the gig since 12/2008.
From the WaPo:
Though Elmendorf was appointed by Democrats and served for three years in the Clinton administration, admirers in both parties said he, too, is largely untainted by politics. The son of a computer programmer from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Elmendorf attended Princeton and Harvard, where his dissertation advisers included a Democrat -- Lawrence H. Summers, now Obama's top economic adviser -- and two Republicans: Bush adviser Gregory Mankiw and Reagan adviser Martin Feldstein.
He should now consider himself "tainted" because he just made himself a target of Chicago-style political operatives.
To understand the impact of the data in this graph, look for examples where an area narrows at the left and broadens at the right (that's an example of a state having more people on the welfare rolls than their population should dictate). Areas that are wider at the left and narrower at the right are states that have fewer people on welfare rolsl than their population should indicate. California is an example of the former and Texas, an example of the latter.
The health care overhauls released to date would increase, not reduce, the burgeoning long-term health costs facing the government, Congressional Budget
Office Director Douglas Elmendorf said Thursday.
That is not a message likely to sit well with congressional Democrats or the Obama administration, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi , D-Calif., said Thursday she thinks lawmakers can find ways to wring more costs out of the health system as they continue work on their bills.
As three House committees began marking up the health care overhaul bill (HR 3200), Pelosi told reporters that she thinks the legislation can eventually wring more costs from the health system.
Is there anyone out who could honestly look at Nancy Pelosi and tell me that they believe she knows what she's talking about?
Congress is attempting to extract as much as $500 billion in Medicare cost savings to pay for health-care reform, but Obama administration officials are concerned that those savings would not result in the transformative fixes the system needs to be stabilized for the long term. White House officials say their own proposals for payment reform would make the system more flexible, allowing it to respond to developments such as breakthroughs in treatment.
Dick Morris has suggested that this means Medicare will effectively be merged/transformed into the national healthcare system. So, that means that the elderly will go from having their own healthcare system to being lumped into the healthcare system with the general population and their needs will be weighed against the needs of younger patients with "more distant time horizons". Just today the Obama administration introduced new measures to pull control over pay-rates for Medicare services away from Congress and into the executive branch. From the WaPo:
Obama administration officials say they are determined to stem soaring Medicare spending, arguing that it is a root cause of the broader health-care crisis that they are trying to address with Congress. Behind the scenes, Obama is pushing for a mechanism that would take Medicare payment authority out of the hands of politicians and invest it in a separate entity, possibly under the executive branch.
They will stem soaring Medicare costs by taking the powers of largesse away from Congress and this will result in a deterioration of the status quo for seniors who are used to seeing the specialists they want to see. As a fan of smaller government, I am not arguing for profligate spending to keep those seniors happy but I am utterly baffled at why the Gray Panthers are not in the streets demonstrating against this plan as they did against the Social Security makeover that GWB proposed and was excoriated for.
When a wise Latina accidentally says "vagrancies of ... the moment" instead of "vagaries of ... the moment" during the oral argument of the Ricci case, we're supposed to ignore the slip-up
Much more at the link
Remember, most of what we estimate about what will happen is based on predictive modeling built on trend data and assumptions. USA Today runs the following today:
Could the best climate models -- the ones used to predict global warming -- all be wrong?
Maybe so, says a new study published online today in the
journal Nature Geoscience. The report found that only about half of the
warming that occurred during a natural climate change 55 million years ago can
be explained by excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. What caused the
remainder of the warming is a mystery.
In the conclusion he calls Obama's use of language Orwellian:
In his 1946 essay "Politics and the English Language," George Orwell wrote about words used in a "consciously dishonest way." "That is," Orwell wrote, "the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different." Americans are right to wonder if their president is using his own private definitions for the words he uses to sell his policies.
Which makes this story in today's NY Post all the more interesting.
First the headline: DEM HEALTH RX A POI$ON PILL IN NY
And now the meat:
Congressional plans to fund a massive health-care overhaul could have a job-killing effect on New York, creating a tax rate of nearly 60 percent for the state's top earners and possibly pressuring small-business owners to shed workers.
New York's top income bracket could reach as high as 57 percent -- rates not seen in three decades -- to pay for the massive health coverage proposed by House Democrats this week.
Remember, NY State is already reeling from the implosion of the financial markets last year and from the collapse of a number of investment banks. Upstate NY, with the exception of a few counties around the capital region (and Ithaca), have experienced many years of job and population loss.
Using a combination of Federal, State and Local taxes to driving more wealth out of the state (Connecticut? NJ? Florida? NC?) will do nothing to revive the state or local NYC economy. I still do not understand my friends who 1) stay in NY and 2) continue to vote for Democrats. The fact that my friends who are doctors still vote for Democrats eludes me as well but that's for another post entirely.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
"...population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution."
"The development of a long-term sterilizing capsule that could be implanted under the skin and removed when pregnancy is desired opens additional possibilities for coercive fertility control. The capsule could be implanted at puberty and might be removable, with official permission, for a limited number of births."
What mad progressive would say such a thing? Everyone knows that Progressives abandoned eugenics around the time that Margaret Sanger did. Right?
Evidently, President Obama's new Science Czar didn't get the memo. In fact, he has written books espousing these very views and Michelle Malkin has been doing tremendous work on uncovering Holdren's views. And now, Reason - the Libertarian pub, jumps into the fray with a piece on Holdren's scary positions.
The Deep-Pockets Mirage
House Democrats would have us believe that the rich can pay for it all
This is the editorial board of the WaPo talking here. After they give the obligatory head-nod to a more progressive tax structure, they say the following:
The long-term deficit is driven by the aging of the population as well as by growing health-care costs, both contributing to Social Security and Medicare expenses. There is simply no way to close the gap by taxing a handful of high earners. The House actions echo President Obama's unrealistic campaign promise that he can build a larger, more progressive government while raising taxes on only the wealthiest.
And if they cannot close the gap by taxing just $350k+ households then they will have to push their surtaxes downward onto lower and lower income brackets until they pass through the promised $250k threshold.
Drudge leading with... "Rahm it through"
July 14 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama may rely only on Democrats to push health-care legislation through the U.S. Congress if Republican opposition doesn’t yield soon, two of the president’s top advisers said.
“Ultimately, this is not about a process, it’s about results,” David Axelrod, Obama’s senior political strategist, said during an interview in his White House office. “If we’re going to get this thing done, obviously time is a-wasting.”
Personally, I don't think they can get it done because the blue dogs will have to abandon him if they want to keep their careers. If Obama insists on making this happen - again without serious debate, reflection and analysis of the legislation - he will have sealed his fate as a one-termer.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
It’s been said before,
But it’s worth saying,
No one could dream a place like California
(California from Terroir Blues by Jay Farrar)
Which leads me to this question - how many songs have the name "California" in them? I must have at least 2 dozen in my own MP3 Collection. Off the top of my head:
California Stars - Wilco and Billy Bragg
California Girls - Beach Boys
Californication - Red Hot Chili Peppers
California Dreaming - The Mamas and the Papas
Goin Back to Cali - LL Cool J
California Love - Dr Dre and Tupac
California - Rufus Wainwright
California - Phantom Planet
Which state has the most songs written about it? I'm going to bet it's between California and Texas with Texas taking the edge - just because "Texas Country" is an entire sub-genre of the broader country music industry.
UPDATE: Man, I love Wikipedia:
But it doesn't have the same list about Texas. Google sent me here:
And how could I have forgotten "Hotel California"?
It would require an enormous role-reversal for Democrats at the state or federal level to embrace tax increases in an effort to spur economic growth. As JD Foster at Heritage wrote last year, it was the tax cuts of 1997 not the widely heralded tax increases of 1993 that produced the huge economic boom of the 90s.
Proponents of tax increases often reference the Clinton 1993 tax increase and the subsequent period of economic growth as evidence that deficit reduction through tax hikes is a pro-growth policy. What these proponents ignore, however, is that the tax increases occurred at a time when the economy was recovering from recession and strong growth was to be expected. They also ignore that the real acceleration in the economy began in 1997, when economic growth should have cooled. This acceleration in growth coincided with a powerful pro-growth tax cut.
For reference, the height of the Golden Gate Bridge roadway is 220 ft above water and the height of the tower is 746 ft. The Empire State Building is 1200 ft.
"Job losses may last well into 2010 to hit an unemployment peak close to 11%. That unemployment rate may be sustained for an extended period."
Clark Howard of talk radio and HLN (or CNN?) has suggested that unemployment could hit 14%. One of the greatest problems we have in this environment is the same problem that those of the 1930s faced - uncertainty. Obama pushed through a bloated, ineffective stimulus package in such a rush that, 6 months later, we're collectively realizing it was a mistake. That realization sows the kind of uncertainty that FDR's theory testing did during the New Deal. If Obama wants to effect real change, he can do it by giving business the incentive to hire and grow not save and shrink.
Monday, July 13, 2009
I can't really post updates to my status because there are so many people with whom I'm "friends" that shouldn't need or want to know the intimate details of my life. To add more complexity to what should a be simple web application, I cannot reveal a whole lot of my interest in politics as so many of my friends are vehemently liberal and would probably reject my friendship if they found out I do not subscribe to Progressive policies.
"We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong ... somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises ... I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started ... And an enormous debt to boot!"
Might I add - As we get closer to the elections of 2010 (16 months away), you'll see more and more investigations, especially if the unemployment rate continues on its march toward 14%.
The administration already went toe-to-toe with Dick Cheney once, explicitly scheduling an Obama speech so as to take the spotlight away from Cheney's message. They lost that battle. They'll lose the next one too.
UPDATE: So, let me get this straight... the secret program that Obama's media has been buzzing about for the last 3 days -
A secret Central Intelligence Agency initiative terminated by Director Leon Panetta was an attempt to carry out a 2001 presidential authorization to capture or kill Al Qaeda operatives, according to former intelligence officials familiar with the matter.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
"So a trend predicated upon current behavior is "speculation upon speculation", but a belief (stated without supporting evidence) that current behavior will change the way you think it will is far more scientific and rational?"
Sure, it's possible that the birth rate of immigrants to Europe drops to the levels of the native European but what evidence do we have that this is happening. The article cites one study from the Netherlands which suggests there may be some indicators that this is happening but it's far from overwhelming. Furthermore, I quote the following from the Newsweek piece:
"For the number of Muslims to outnumber non-Muslims by midcentury, it would require either breeding on a scale rarely seen in history or for immigration to continue at a pace that's now politically unacceptable. More likely, new controls will slow Muslim immigration. "
Correct me if I am wrong, but how can something become "politically unacceptable" at the same time that a particular group is increasing its share of the European voice?
What's politically unacceptable is that Euro-bureaucrats will crackdown on immigration from Islamic countries. Fear is debilitating.
Charles has very little name recognition outside of television and film geeks but his name belongs in the same breath as Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David for his work on Seinfeld. It was Larry Charles who helped imbue, through writing, the Kramer character with the qualities and attitudes that made him the icon he became. He has said that he gave Kramer a distrust of authority (not necessarily a bad thing) which added depth but also setup a number of Kramer-focused story arcs.
Larry Charles directed Borat. Charles has also directed a number of episodes of Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm and direct the Bill Maher feature Religulous.
So, putting aside Baron-Cohen, what is Larry Charles trying to say? As a contributor to Democratic causes, he must be unhappy with the stink that GLAAD is making about the film. Granted, the anger of the activists has trumped their understanding of the obvious intent of the film. It must annoy nonetheless that they are not forgiving him offense for the sake of making everyday America look xenophobic, Islamaphobic, sexist, racist and anti-semitic (Borat) or xenophobic, homophobic (Bruno). He must think, "Don't you see what I'm doing? I'm exposing the very heart of a cruel America. How can you not support that in whatever form it comes?"
It always makes me chuckle when the Left clashes with itself.
What makes a good blogger to the masses? If the goal of a blogger is to grow audience share, the following 3 skills are critical for success:
1) Compelling writing - whether it's politics, religion, culture, sports or something else entirely the writing has to be engaging and accessible. Go read a post-doctoral comparative literature thesis. Then write in the opposite way.
2) Excellent arguments - shoddy reasoning and a poor grasp of the facts will never stand the test of aggressive fisking. Everyone is out to get someone they disagree with. Be prepared with a counter-argument.
3) Relevant and timely - in the age of immediate news and commentary, bloggers must address the most up-to-date information available. Don't come to a post with information that's already been debunked or invalidated.
This is why blogging is so damned demanding. Who has the time to exercise all three of those skills together on a regular basis? We'll see if I do.