Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Deplorable lack of curiosity, the ongoing saga

CNN: "Lawmaker: if CNN can interview suspect in Benghazi attack, why can't FBI?"  "A Republican lawmaker demanded Wednesday to know why investigators have not captured or killed any of the suspects in the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, pointing out that CNN was able to find a man who some say was the ringleader in the assault that left the ambassador and three other Americans dead."

And in a shocking development - hold on to your hats - Jay Carney referred White House reporters to the FBI.

Voted into oblivion

George Will weighs in on Motown: "Detroit's death by democracy."
This bedraggled city’s decay poses no theological conundrum of the sort that troubled Darwin, but it does pose worrisome questions about the viability of democracy in jurisdictions where big government and its unionized employees collaborate in pillaging taxpayers. Self-government has failed in what once was America’s fourth-­largest city and now is smaller than Charlotte.
Detroit, which boomed during World War II when industrial America was “the arsenal of democracy,” died of democracy.
Don't worry: any similarities between Detroit and the United States are purely coincidental.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Jack Lew suffers from a deplorable lack of curiosity

Here's Captain Von Trapp from "The Sound of Music":
Herr Zeller: "I've not asked you where you and your family are going. Nor have you asked me why I am here."
Captain von Trapp: "Well, apparently, we're both suffering from a deplorable lack of curiosity."
If you missed Fox News Sunday yesterday, you would have seen the Treasury Secretary assuring Chris Wallace that he's found no evidence of wrongdoing from the Obama Administration in the IRS scandal targeting Tea Party groups because...he hasn't investigated it.  So let's forget about this phony scandal already.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

More self-respect than Huma

Legal Insurrection: "Anthony Weiner's campaign manager calls it quits."  This is the end.  The only question now is how much longer he'll drag it out, "Walking Dead"-style.

And by "it" I mean his campaign.  I don't see how he can bring it back to life...his political future.

Update - Seen in today's Boston Globe, an ad for Boston Sports Clubs: "Hey Carlos Danger, we give extra attention to our members too."  Oh man.

On Keystone, Obama just plain lies about jobs

Via the Minuteman and "Obama, Keystone economist" we find that the President granted an audience to the sycophants at the NY Times.  Here's what he said about potential job creation from the Keystone pipeline:
MR. OBAMA: Well, first of all, Michael, Republicans have said that this would be a big jobs generator. There is no evidence that that’s true. And my hope would be that any reporter who is looking at the facts would take the time to confirm that the most realistic estimates are this might create maybe 2,000 jobs during the construction of the pipeline -- which might take a year or two -- and then after that we’re talking about somewhere between 50 and 100 [chuckles] jobs in a economy of 150 million working people.
As Tom points out, the 2,000 construction jobs is some orders of magnitude below the State Department's own estimate and at least five times lower than the estimate of an anti-Keystone group.  Even so, Obama treats the pipeline itself as something that exists only for maintenance by a few dozen workers.  The long-term benefit to America would be adding high-paying "spin-off" jobs to the petroleum industry:
Spin-off jobs are jobs which emerge after the pipeline is complete and oil begins to flow.  These include refining, chemical manufacturing, petroleum transportation, and “petroleum dependent manufacturing.”  The last of these includes even factories that make use of petroleum even though these factories would use petroleum from elsewhere if the pipeline did not exist.  The presumption is that these jobs will increase because more petroleum is available.  On one hand, these jobs are better than the construction jobs for the actual project because they are considered permanent, but on the other hand, they are impossible to estimate because so many variable effect the process.
How many spin-off jobs may be expected?  A study by TransCanada estimates somewhere between 100,000 to 500,000.  But let's assume that the Canadians prevaricate as effortlessly as our President and say that it will only be 10,000 permanent jobs.  Is that something to sniff about?  I wonder how the unions looking to put men back to work would feel about Obama's casual dismissal of their livelihood.

Extra - Washington Examiner: "Obama low-balls Keystone job creation numbers, according to State Dept."

Saturday, July 27, 2013

If something cannot go on forever, it will stop

Charles Krauthammer: "Stein's Law."  "It doesn't take a genius to see what happens when the entitlement state outgrows the economy upon which it rests."

Extra - Doug Ross: "Top 9 cities that will be following Detroit down the black hole."

Friday, July 26, 2013

Here and no further

This headline was inevitable: "Unions ask Obama for Detroit bailout."
“Bankruptcy must not be used as a tool to impoverish city of Detroit workers or retirees. City workers have already made severe concessions to keep the city afloat,” the executive council said in a statement. “They are not to blame for Detroit’s financial problems, yet they have been making sacrifices all along the way to help the city out.”
Well, that's debatable since the now-imprisoned mayor a Detroit - presumably a city worker - is cooling his heels in jail for corruption.  Even Obama must understand the moral hazard in place if he bails out a U.S. city, much as he would like to.  Today, Detroit.  Tomorrow, California.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Stop, hey, what's that sound?

Wired: "Say Goodbye to the tech sounds you'll never hear again."  Here's "advancing film in a camera":

Pretty soon you're talking about real money

The Grumpy Economist has a thoughtful post about the estimated shortfall in public pension plans.  Some say it's $1 trillion and others say $4 trillion.  He's less concerned about the long-term unfunded liabilities than the (eventual) squeeze on marketable debt.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Denial ain't just a river in Detroit

The Moderate Voice: "Detroit is the tip of the generational iceberg."  "The potentially catastrophic fiscal consequences of the retirement of the huge Baby Boom generation have been the subject of economists’ nightmares for decades. Those disastrous scenarios are now present reality. America’s retirement systems are exposed as Ponzi schemes, transferring wealth from today’s workers (those that can find jobs) to retirees. And the retirees have little need to compromise even in the face of daunting fiscal realities, because they control all of the high ground in the political and legal systems. As long as they can stubbornly refuse to recognize the fiscal plight of cities, states, and the country, no reform can happen. Instead, we will continue to get decisions like that issued by the Michigan court."

In case you missed it, for the seventh consecutive year, the Trustees of Social Security and Medicare have put out a "funding warning" indicating that entitlement spending cannot continue at its current rate.  What has Washington done?  Nothing.  Let the trust funds run dry and deal with the fallout later - it's the Detroit way.

Books, interrupted

From Good Reads: "The most begun 'Read but unfinished' book ever."  Who can't finish "The Old Man and the Sea"?  It's like 40 pages long!

Subtext: I wanna be mayor

Hot Air: "Weiner's creepy press conference."  I saw it on CNN and it was...something.  As Ann Althouse notes, Huma stood by her man and they're "moving forward."  Of course.

Don't upset the narrative

Remind me again what it takes to be a "professional journalist?"  Gateway Pundit: "Confirmed: Left wing plant at Houston pro-Zimmerman rally is far left activist."  The AP and the Houston Chronicle didn't smell a troll and described this nut as a "Zimmerman supporter" and why not?  Around the newsroom, they nodded: "who, what, where, when, why?"  "Who cares?"

Extra - From Ace of Spades.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Second verse, same as the first

Hot Air: "White House: Why no, our latest economic 'pivot' won't involve any new proposals."  Let me be perfectly clear: some say Obama's speech will include tiresome tropes while others say it will contain partisan blame-casting.  But this speech will be built from the middle out and not from the brain down because now is the time.  And so on.

(Note: I had this game as a kid and it was awesome.  Thanks celebrity endorser Lucille Ball!)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Tough chicks are tough

It's behind a paywall so no link, but I was reading the Sunday Boston Globe and there's a story from the "On the Job" feature about a tattoo removal nurse.  She explains that tattoo removal is a growing business as adults seek to reverse their impulsive Spring Break decisions.  Here's the funny part of the story: this nurse explained that a local anesthesia can be applied before the (painful) process.  Most of the men who refuse the Lidocaine change their mind while most of the women do not.  The nurse quips: that's "why the women have the kids."  Heh.

Damn statistics

On the recommendation of a comment thread on Reddit, I picked up the slim "How to lie with statistics."  On a similar note, Maggie's Farm has a humorous graph in "Correlation vs. Causation."  Disclaimer: I use Google Chrome so I have no tendency towards murder.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Chicago - the second city

Could the Windy City follow in the steps of Detroit?  Well, they just closed 11% of the public schools and laid off 1,000 teachers due to a dwindling population and budget constraints:
It’s an interesting web the union has spun for itself: its power to negotiate lavish pensions for teachers has helped bankrupt the city, which is now forced to sack teachers. And with Chicago’s budget deficit at $1 billion and revenue declining, there’s no end in sight, and no tenure and no pension is safe. How teachers react to the declining ability of unions to secure their interests in one of America’s great blue cities will tell us a lot about the blue model’s current bill of health.
The immediate impact on children and families of Chicago’s fiscal failure is obvious enough, but the long-term impact is perhaps even more grim.
Emphasis mine.  Every time I bring up the topic of reforming pensions and/or Social Security, the push back is that "oh, the stock market goes down" and "people can't handle their own finances."  Which may be true but the lousy return I get on my 401(k) is mine.  These pensions exist on the cloud of corporate and civil promises which can disappear like General Motors' profits or Detroit's fire department.

Update - Points and Figures: "Why Chicago is not Detroit, but Illinois is."

One of these things is just like the other

Here's Mark Steyn with "The Downfall of Detroit"
“Structurally unsound and in danger of collapse”: Hold that thought. Like Detroit, America has unfunded liabilities, to the tune of $220 trillion, according to the economist Laurence Kotlikoff. Like Detroit, it’s cosseting the government class and expanding the dependency class, to the point where its bipartisan “immigration reform” actively recruits 50–60 million low-skilled chain migrants. Like Detroit, America’s governing institutions are increasingly the corrupt enforcers of a one-party state — the IRS and Eric Holder’s amusingly misnamed Department of Justice being only the most obvious examples. Like Detroit, America is bifurcating into the class of “community organizers” and the unfortunate denizens of the communities so organized.
As Steyn notes, the key to saving Detroit is making it a place where people want to set up a business and work.  Who in their right mind would say "let's set up shop in Detroit?"  Now America has the highest effective corporate tax rate in the world, small businesses are cutting back to part-time work and 49 employees to avoid Obamacare, full-time jobs are in short supply, and government dependency is at an all time high.

But, unlike Detroit, the federal government can print its own money.  So we got that goin' for us.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Where do you think you're going?

Ricochet: "Detroit judge: You can't win, you can't draw, you can't leave the game."  A judge in Michigan declared that Detroit can't declare bankruptcy because, well, somebody has to pay for pensions.  Cough it up, rest of Michigan.  "Detroit is $18 billion in debt. A judge demands now that it adds to that total, because the state's constitution says so and because the public workers who have overseen the city's demise demand that someone else's ox be gored."

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Let Detroit go bankrupt - Walter Russell Mead: "Obama to Detroit: Drop Dead."  "Progressive politicians, wonks, and activists can only blame big corporations and other liberal bogeymen for so long. The truth is that corrupt machine politics in a one-party system devoted to the blue social model wrecked an entire city and thousands of lives beyond repair. The sooner blues come to terms with this reality, the greater chance other cities will have of avoiding Detroit’s fate."

Extra - Hot Air: "Bust: the numbers behind Detroit's road to doom."

More - Michigan's governor Snyder: "It would be difficult to reverse 60 years of decline in which promises were made that did not reflect the reality of the ability to deliver on those promises."  No kidding.  That's why we try to elect public officials who can do simple math.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

NY state of health insurance

Dang, the Obamacare supporters are out in full-throat gloating over a NY Times article indicating that insurance premiums will drop by half in the Empire State.  Take that, H8ters!  Hit & Run ably deconstructs this new propaganda: "Obamacare may lower NY health premiums - under peculiar rules and an unlikely scenario."  So, yes, if you're one of the 17,000 New Yorkers buying insurance on your own - jackpot.

Entitlement endgame

Here's a guy after my own heart.  Zero Hedge: "The problem with Social Security and Medicare."
I do not object to social spending programs; what I object to is bogus accounting, delusion being fobbed off as reality, waste, fraud, embezzlement, profiteering, saddling future generations with unpayable debts and misleading projections that ignore real-world trends. There is a difference between blindly accepting what amounts to officially sanctioned lies about social programs' sustainability and supporting sustainable social spending.
If I didn't know any better, I'd think this modern-day Cassandra was working for the Social Security Administration:
Lawmakers should address the financial challenges facing Social Security and Medicare as soon as possible. Taking action sooner rather than later will leave more options and more time available to phase in changes so that the public has adequate time to prepare.
One of the trustees of the SSA is Treasury secretary Jacob Lew who is going to do precisely nothing to address the very problem he reports here.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Situational principles

The motto of the New York Times: "depends on the party."  Ricochet: "Shorter NY Times: 'Filibustering Presidential nominees on the basis of ideology is bad, except when it isn't."  Take a wild guess when it isn't.

Reminder: the national debt is still a huge problem

It's nearly impossible to escape the Zimmerman aftermath so let's note that we're still heading towards economic collapse.  Hit & Run: "Yes, we do have a debt problem"
With the impending entitlement crisis requiring even more future borrowing, by 2023 interest on our debt, plus autopilot programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, will account for 75 cents of every dollar spent by the federal government, up from 45 cents in 2010. In other words, starting now, non-interest and non-autopilot programs will gradually be squeezed out by everything else.
This underscores something I've been saying forever: "discretionary" spending will be a thing of the past.  We'll have mandatory entitlement spending, payments on the national debt, and a sliver of the budget left over for everything else.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Movie review: "20 Feet from Stardom"

This movie is the story of back-up singers and it mostly follows Darlene Love but there are other great chops like Merry Clayton (that voice on the Rolling Stones "Gimme Shelter") and Judith Hill.  Let me say this up front: if you like music, you'll like this movie.  If you love 60's music, you'll love this movie.  My teenage son was kinda "meh" about the movie because he didn't know "He's a Rebel" by the Crystals.

I loved it.  The Darlene Love story alone is worth it, especially about how she got so fed up with Phil Spector that she quit the music business altogether and started cleaning houses.  Now she's in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Cutting down the law

Commentary: "Barack Obama's lawlessness"  "This is all part of a pattern in which Mr. Obama enforces laws he likes and refuses to enforce (or unilaterally alters) laws he disagrees with. I suppose the temptation to act as a potentate is understandable; but it also happens to be illegal."  I'm sure the national media will point out the dangerous precedent this President is setting...or not.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Zimmerman found not guilty

As usual, the best roundup is at Legal Insurrection.  I'll say that the moment i was convinced Zimmerman was going to be found not guilty was when the neighbor testified that she hid in a room with a newborn baby as her home was burglarized.  I could see this resonating with an all-female jury, five of which were mothers.

Cry me a river

Wall Street Journal: "Union letter: Obamacare will 'destroy the very health and wellbeing' of workers."

Thursday, July 11, 2013

That "faithfully execute" door swings both ways

Instapundit asks: "If Obama can suspend the Obamacare mandate, could a Republican president suspend the tax on capital gains?"

With apologies to Cole Porter:

"In olden days the Take Care Clause
Would give a President pause
Now heaven knows
Anything goes."

BDLR gesticulates

Over at Legal Insurrection, Andrew Branca has an extremely comprehensive review of the State's closing argument against George Zimmerman, one that is punctuated repeatedly with "the State's got nothing."

I read some of BDLR's speech and it was, well, desperate...culminating in his weird invocation of MLK to recount the testimony of Rachel "that's retarded, sir" Jeantel.  Over and over and over again, he raised doubt as to what exactly happened that night in February.  Here's the rub: the prosecutor is supposed to arrange the evidence to build a wall against reasonable doubt.  It's the job of the defense to raise doubt.  Instead (tomorrow), Zimmerman's defense team is going to spend half the day reviewing facts and the testimony of the State's own witnesses, much of it favorable to the defense.  This was never so true when the State asked the judge to strike the testimony of Detective Chris Serino who said he found Zimmerman to be credible and honest in his account.

This thing could be wrapped up by the end of tomorrow.  The jury will wrap for the weekend.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I wish that flight was cancelled

Wow, I just finished watching "Flight" with Denzel Washington and what a stinker.  Spoiler alert: he's a drunk pilot.  Death ensues.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Rahm saw it coming

Back when he was White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel "begged" Obama to take an incremental approach to health care reform and pushed for scaled-down legislation that could gather bipartisan support.  The One responded that he "wasn't sent here to do school uniforms" and pushed forward with this monstrosity.

And now from Hot Air: "Great news: White House knew all along Obamacare implementation impossible."
Another point to bear in mind: this is the Obama administration’s signature accomplishment.  For the past five years, they have had no higher priority than to make this work, which at the time of passage they claimed would be nowhere near as complicated as their critics claimed.  Now they can’t even make the key employer mandate work after three years — three years in which employers and their employees have been forced to adjust to it by taking on more expensive insurance or cutting hours to their staffs.
As George Will recently noted, the implementation of Obamacare depends upon mass irrationality to work:

Just so.


Free Beacon: "Gasland director presents anti-fracking hoax as evidence in new film."

Monday, July 08, 2013

The Obamacare farce unravels immigration reform...and more

Here's John Fund: "Why Obamacare threatens immigration reform: In delaying the employer mandate, Obama shows his disregard for the rule of law."
Ultimately, the greatest damage from delaying the employer mandate may come in the way it solidifies House Republican doubts about the immigration bill. Representative Phil Roe (R., Tenn.), chairman of an Education and Workforce subcommittee, says that he doubts the administration can be trusted to enforce the will of Congress when it comes to border security or any other part of the immigration bill. “They have shown no respect for traditional Constitutional separation of powers, and that makes it difficult to pass laws where the fear is that they will simply ignore the parts they don’t like,” he tells me. The Obama administration has not hesitated to simply ignore the clear language of Obamacare. Why wouldn’t it disregard the immigration bill in the same way? In addition, the Gang of Eight bill is stuffed with instances of discretion – in other words, opportunities for administrative meddling. It includes 222 mentions of the word “may” and 153 uses of “waive.” That’s an awful lot of discretion to hand to an administration that is expert at interpreting laws creatively to suit whatever political advantage it desires.
So after cramming Obamacare through Congress with no Republican support, Obama had two choices: repair the legislation with the bipartisan support he should have sought in the first place, or jeopardize his entire second term with an extra-legal interpretation that would further deepen mistrust in Congress and paralyze the remainder of his Presidency.  As usual, the Great Uniter decided to divide and villify.  All that's left is yet another speech.

By the way, it was only two months ago when White House operatives were taunting "It's the Law."  Well, it's looking like a law with provisions that can be waived by current and future Presidents so...not really much of anything.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Whatevs, man

Here's George Will with "Obama's never mind presidency"
Although the Constitution has no Article VIII, the administration acts as though there is one that reads: “Notwithstanding all that stuff in other articles about how laws are made, if a president finds a law politically inconvenient, he can simply post on the White House Web site a notice saying: Never mind.”
Never mind that the law stipulates 2014 as the year when employers with 50 full-time workers are mandated to offer them health-care coverage or pay fines. Instead, 2015 will be the year. Unless Democrats see a presidential election coming.
In other words, the Torricelli Rule has come to Washington.  Whatever.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Pardon moi

I'd just like to say in response to this: get thee outside of Paris.  I've been to Strasbourg (twice) and the people were absolutely great.  If the French seem rude, it might be because Americans are yelling at them in English, expecting understanding.  Just saying.

Google does not lie

If you type "TNT NASCAR coverage" into Google it makes the following suggestions:

"TNT NASCAR coverage terrible"
"TNT NASCAR coverage terrible 2013"
"TNT NASCAR coverage bad"

Oh yes and I would add "horrible" and "awful."  There are so many commercials in the TNT coverage, and they always miss the important moments in the race.  Tonight they came back from commercial in the Coke Zero 400 to tell us there was a caution - went to commercial - then showed the cars coming off pit road, totally missing the pit stops.  And since cars were lining up for restarts, well, let's go to commercial!

Friday, July 05, 2013

The Obama economy: where everybody has a (part-time) job

You got it, America!  Zero Hedge: "Obamacare strikes: Part-time jobs surge to all-time high; full-time jobs plunge by 240,000."

Iowahawk nails it: "Unemployment report in a nutshell: the Taco Bell that had 30 40-hour workers now has 40 30-hour workers."

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Pickett's Charge - 150 years ago today

Here's an outstanding re-telling by a Gettysburg tour guide:

By the way, if you ever make it to Gettysburg, my recommendation would be to go to the visitor's center and hire a Ranger for a tour.  He/she will drive your car around the battlefield and give you the best tour.  I don't think many people know about this service.

General Zod will be pleased to hear of our surrender

Business Insider: "While lunar images have proven that the American flags planted during the Apollo missions are still standing on the moon, lunar scientists have now said that they probably no longer hold the iconic stars and stripes — radiation from the sun most likely bleached out all the colors. The result? The flags are probably completely white by now."

These colors don't run but they do bleach out.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

And so it begins

Investor's Business Daily: "Obama's #1 second-term goal: win back the House."

Hot Air: "Obamacare employer mandate to be delayed until 2015."

Boy you rarely see political moves as transparent as this one.  Why not delay the mandate until the day after the 2014 midterms and go all in?

Monday, July 01, 2013

Gettysburg, Day 1 - "if practicable"

Today is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, arguably the most pivotal battle of the American Civil War.  Naturally, the History Channel has commemorated the day with an "American Pickers" marathon.

On this first day is that Union cavalry soldiers were pushed back through the town of Gettysburg but were reinforced by Federal troops under General John Reynolds.  Reynolds was killed early on and command passed to Oliver Howard who fought a defensive battle until the rest of the Federal army could arrive.

And here's one of those great "what if" moments in history: after a long march and a day of fighting, Robert E. Lee asked General Richard Ewell to take the heights south of Gettysburg "if practicable."  A foothold on either Cemetery Hill or Culp's Hill would open up the battlefield for Confederate artillery and change the course of the battle.  But Ewell deemed it impractical.  His troops were tired, the landscape uncertain (and uphill), and he feared that his flank would be exposed to amassing Union troops.

Lee, who was accustomed to the aggressive style of Stonewall Jackson, was disappointed by Ewell's failure to press the Rebels' advantage.  On the other hand, by leaving Ewell wiggle room in his order, Lee let this chance slip away.  Union troops reinforced the high ground and the Confederates suffered terrible losses trying to gain a second opportunity.