Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Buh-bye pensions

Washington Free Beacon: "20,000 Union Members, Retirees at Risk of Losing Pension Benefits - Retirement funds seek permission from feds to cut benefits."
In March, four unions filed applications with the U.S. Treasury Department requesting relief under a program established by the Obama administration that allows multi-employer pension plans to cut benefits in order to sustain the long-term health of the plan. The applications from United Furniture Workers Pension Fund, Alaska Ironworkers Pension Fund, Southwest Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters, International Association of Machinists of Motor City Pension Fund, and Teamsters Local 805 Pension & Retirement Plan are all being reviewed by the department, according to the Pension Rights Center. If the cuts are approved on all four applications, as many as 20,309 union members could see their retirement money drastically reduced.
This is why I favor partial privatization - aka personal accounts - for Social Security.  When your money is in the hands of other people, well, rosy rates of return are promised, benefits start to outstrip revenues, and there are fewer workers in the system propping up a pool of retirees.

Then you go bankrupt, gradually then suddenly.

Shut up, Trump explained

The Hill: "Conservative media figures disappointed with Trump meeting."  "Some conservative media figures invited to an exclusive event with President Trump on Monday night left the White House frustrated and complaining that Trump's staff had intentionally sought to limit what they could report out of the meeting."  Sigh.  What's it all about, Alfie?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Shut up, they explained

The Corner: "NYT publishes speech suppression advocacy."  Your ideas stink so we have to "adjust the parameters" of free speech, for your own good.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Elizabeth Warren and the deplorables

Here's an excerpt from a WashPost review of Fauxcahontas's book:
Yet the story Warren tells about the election and America’s anxieties is curiously one-dimensional. She uses standard progressive math to explain Trump voters: Some are racist bigots, some were taken in by a huckster casino owner and some are suffering from intense economic despair. One of the women she follows, Gina, lives in a mobile home in a small North Carolina town. She and her husband barely get by on her hourly wage from Walmart. “We need to tell this story!” Gina tells Warren. “But I really need this job.”

Gina, we find out at the end of the book, “proudly voted for Donald Trump, hoping he would ‘shake things up.’ ” In Warren’s world, the Democratic Party would win the vote of every Gina in America by fighting for a “playing field that isn’t tilted so hard against her.” But Warren never really tells us why America’s Ginas aren’t voting for Democrats now.
Emphasis added.  Warren was on Charlie Rose recently and he asked a version of this question in noting that Donald Trump won those very voters who were angry about the economy.  Warren responded: well they should be angry because things are terrible.  But she never articulated why these voters should look to the Democrats to solve these problems other than to recite her standard list of villains (Wall Street! Goldman Sachs!) that she regurgitates as predictably as the sun rising in the East.

Make no mistake: Warren is fighting and fighting to give you a fighting chance in the battle to win the war.  If anybody can list a single accomplishment from all this fighting other that to sell her books, let me know.

How dare you allow an opposing viewpoint!

The Hill: "Bill Nye criticizes CNN on air for inviting climate change skeptic."  An actual scientist, no less, and not an actor who puts on a lab coat.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Objectivity lesson

Hit and Run: "Scientists’ March on Washington - Do researchers risk becoming just another leftwing interest group?"
Microbiologist Alex Berezow is a senior fellow of biomedical science at a pro-science consumer advocacy organization, the American Council on Science and Health.* I asked him if he thought scientists should participate in the march. "No, scientists and researchers should not participate," he replied. "From the very outset, the march started as an anti-Trump protest. Then it morphed into a solidly progressive movement, embracing all manner of left-wing social justice causes." Berezow added that the march could well end up harming the interests of the scientific community: "For decades, science has received broad bipartisan support. (In fact, Republicans usually funded science better than Democrats.) By biting the hand that feeds them, scientists risk losing funding, as well as alienating taxpayers. That is an awful idea, and it hurts everybody."
Holding this march on Earth Day certainly calls into question its partisan nature.

Friday, April 21, 2017

You're free to listen to OUR speech

Megan McArdle: "Berkeley Once Stood for Free Speech. Now It Rolls Over. - "In the 1960s, students at Berkeley helped change the world by igniting the Free Speech Movement, a seminal moment in the history of 20th-century civil liberties. Fifty years later, Berkeley leftists seem to have decided that free speech was a mistake -- and the administration seems intent on helping them roll it back."

How many houses does a Socialist need?

The correct answer is three.

Old computers

This web site delivers what it promises: Old Computers.

I used to have a TI-99/4A computer that I loved.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Democrats' most popular politician is not a Democrat

Commentary: "The Democratic party: A brand in crisis"
Democrats have so far refused to find an antidote to their brand’s toxicity. They have performed no introspection with regard to how the 2016 election was run and lost to a former game show host, the most unpopular presidential candidate in the modern age. They have not engaged in a critical analysis of how the relatively popular Barack Obama could be replaced with a man who promised in both manner and deed to be everything the former president was not. The Democratic Party is facing a nearly 100-year nadir of its political power. Its representatives were defenestrated at nearly every level. Obama left the GOP with all three branches of the federal government and in total control of the levers of power in fully half the Union. Yet there has been no “autopsy,” and there apparently never will be. Their state of denial is all-consuming.
The strategy appears to be call everyone racist until they come around.

The ultimate swinger

Hot Air: "Grassley: Expect a SCOTUS opening this summer."  The news here is that Justice Anthony Kennedy is not interviewing clerks for the next session, suggesting that his time on the bench is winding down.

Update - Or not.  Thanks random commenter.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Youse gonna be working together

Hit and Run: "NYC Mayor Encourages Cigarette Smuggling with Plan to Massively Jack Up Prices - City with highest cost per pack also has highest bootlegging rate. Imagine that."
Today de Blasio announced that he wants to make smuggling an even more financially lucrative option by jacking up the taxes on packs of cigarettes. Right now the lowest price for a pack of cigarettes in the city is $10.50 a pack. Under his proposal announced today the floor would jump to $13 a pack, the highest in the country.

By sheer coincidence (if you are completely ignorant to even the most basic concepts of economics), New York has the highest rate of cigarette smuggling in the country. Though figures are hard to nail down—black markets, being what they are—stats suggest that more than half of all cigarettes are being sold illegally and untaxed in New York.
The mafia and/or New Hampshire thanks you for the business.



Georgia 6th

Real Clear Politics; "Five Takeaways From the Georgia Special Election."  I don't know why certain commentators are saying this is a done deal for the Republicans.  Special elections are always unpredictable.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Monday, April 17, 2017

Crossing the street at the Boston Marathon

Nice logistics here:

How to kill Obamacare: enforce the law

Washington Times: "Trump’s message to Democrats: Negotiate Obamacare, or payments to insurers will be cut."
President Trump is threatening to cut off critical Obamacare payments to insurers unless Democrats come to the table to negotiate a new health care bill, taking a tough negotiating stance that could force Democratic leaders into a government shutdown by month’s end.

At stake are “cost sharing” payments that Obamacare backers say are supposed to be made to insurance companies to cover their losses from low-income customers.

A federal court has invalidated the payments, saying the Obama administration spent the money even though Congress specifically stripped the funds from its annual spending bills.
Up until - let's say January 20th - Obamacare was kept alive by ignoring statutory deadlines and illegally shifting money between government departments.

Extra - From Instapundit.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

You had a good run, Turkey

Foreign Policy: "RIP Turkey, 1921 – 2017 - Recep Tayyip Erdogan didn’t just win his constitutional referendum — he permanently closed a chapter of his country’s modern history."

Saturday, April 15, 2017

I learned it by watching you!

Why, oh why, did I click on that Vox link to that Ezra "Obamacare is great!" Klein story?  Anyway, now that the Supreme Court is open to Republican nominees, well: "How to fix the Supreme Court."

The tl;dr is term limits.

But let's start out here:
In 2016, Senate Republicans responded to Antonin Scalia’s death by inventing and establishing the absurd faux principle that open seats on the Supreme Court cannot be filled in an election year.
AYFKM?  This concept sprang - sui generis - from the mind of Mitch McConnell?  As did the elimination of filibusters for federal judges?  Please.  Reacquaint yourself with the Biden Rule, the Reid Rule, and the Ginsburg Rule.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Alternative banking

Trivia for you: there are more payday lenders in America than there are McDonalds and Starbucks combined, even though they are banned in 13 states.  Really interesting story over at Hit and Run: "How Payday Lenders and Check Cashers Help the Poor - An Ivy League professor went to work in the industry to figure out why so many Americans choose to remain "unbanked."."

Watch the video.  There's a reason there are so many payday lenders and check cashers: for a large number of people there's really no alternative for them at traditional banks.  They can't wait for the "float" of regular banks - they need cash now for a variety of reasons.

Regrets

Washington Free Beacon: "Washington Post Blogger Issues Official Apology for Spreading False Jeff Sessions Story."

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Fantastic

Hot Air: "Trump took Social Security reforms out of his budget."

I've utterly given up on advocating for entitlement reform: the Democrats demagogue the hell out of the issue and Republicans are tired of being accused of pushing Grandma over a cliff.

And yet - every year - the Trustees of Social Security and Medicare warn that something must be done:
Both Social Security and Medicare face long-term financing shortfalls under currently scheduled benefits and financing. Lawmakers have a broad continuum of policy options that would close or reduce the long-term financing shortfall of both programs. The Trustees recommend that lawmakers take action sooner rather than later to address these shortfalls, so that a broader range of solutions can be considered and more time will be available to phase in changes while giving the public adequate time to prepare. Earlier action will also help elected officials minimize adverse impacts on vulnerable populations, including lower-income workers and people already dependent on program benefits.
In other words, time is needed to space out the needed cutbacks and give people time to adjust.  But we won't do that.  Instead, we'll just wait until the ship hits the iceberg:
The OASI Trust Fund, when considered separately, has a projected reserve depletion date of 2035, the same as in last year's report. At that time, income would be sufficient to pay 77 percent of scheduled OASI benefits.
Oh, you were depending on your full benefit?  Sucker: here's three quarters on the dollar.

"Fact-checking" at the NY Times

Jonah Goldberg: "What Rick Perlstein’s Embarrassing New York Times Essay Gets Wrong."  "I’d demand an apology and a retraction, but that would require the Times to understand a perspective outside their bubble. They’ve already demonstrated that’s too much to ask."

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

His blood ran cold

I'm sorry, that's tasteless.  However: "J. Geils found dead in Massachusetts home at age 71."  "The J. Geils Band was founded in 1967 in Worcester, Mass., while Geils was studying at Worcester Polytechnic Institute."  This is the closest thing we have to a Western Mass superstar.  Also: WPI!  A very good school.

New York state of college

Legal Insurrection: "New York’s ‘Free’ College Tuition Program is Unworkable."

In addition to all sorts of provisos to get the money in the first place, students are required to stay in New York for as long as they got free tuition.  (Room and board and fees are not included).  Massachusetts has a similar system where students who graduate in the top 10% of their class don't need to pay tuition in a state school such as University of Massachusetts.  To compensate for low/no tuition, the state schools mark up the room and board and other expenses that cannot be avoided.

Senate tradition

Daily Caller: "Tom Daschle: Dems More To Blame For ‘Erosion Of Institutional Pillars Of Senate’."

Monday, April 10, 2017

Your refusal to accept this $400 voucher is disturbing

Joke going around the Internet: New photo of United Airlines asking for volunteers to deplane

Great PR, United

Fox News: "Police violently drag man from United plane after airline reportedly overbooked flight."

You know what?  Hats off to this guy.  United must have assumed that, in the face of a security detail, he would go gently into that good terminal.  Instead, United has a visual for the ages and a trending #BoycottUnited movement.

Update - The officer who dragged the guy has been placed on leave.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

You're right about the "terrible" part

"We're terribly democratic!" say the socialists of Venezuela.  Hot Air: "Venezuela bans opposition leader from running for office for 15 years."  The country is now the apotheosis of Orwell.

Past the red line

Politico magazine: "President Not-Obama - How Trump's strike got even some key Obama advisers cheering."
“I feel like finally we have done the right thing,” Anne-Marie Slaughter, who served as Obama’s first-term chief of policy planning at the State Department and long publicly urged a more forceful response to Assad’s horrific attacks on civilians during the six years of war that have wracked Syria, told me. “The years of hypocrisy just hurt us all. It undermined the U.S., it undermined the world order.”
He didn't draw that red line!

Friday, April 07, 2017

The Left hates free speech

College Fix: "Angry mob shuts down Blue Lives Matter speech at Claremont McKenna College."

Gorsuch confirmed

Charles Krauthammer: "Karma, precedent and the nuclear option."  "The Gorsuch nomination is a bitter setback to the liberal project of using the courts to ratchet leftward the law and society. However, Gorsuch’s appointment simply preserves the court’s ideological balance of power. Wait for the next nomination. Having gratuitously forfeited the filibuster, Democrats will be facing the loss of the court for a generation.
Condign punishment indeed."

For the record, I was wrong in my prediction that the Democrats would pull back the abyss and preserve the filibuster for the next seat, the one that will (likely) tip balance on the Court.  It's either sheer madness or just appealing to the fundraisers.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

This seems impetuous

Fox News: "US launches missiles into Syria in response to chemical weapons attack."

If I remember correctly, candidate Trump was against any kind of involvement in Syria.  Rand Paul is not happy.

Extra - A lot of history in this Hot Air post including how Trump was against Syria intervention and wanted Congressional approval for any strike.  Tonight...not so much.

More - WSJ: "U.S. Launches Cruise Missiles at Syrian Air Base in Response to Chemical Attack."
Speaking inside his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, President Trump said he ordered targeted missile strikes at a Syrian airfield as a response to the “barbaric” chemical weapons attack, saying they were in the interest of U.S. national security to prevent and deter the use and spread of such weapons. The Assad regime, Mr. Trump said, “choked out the lives of helpless” people in Syria.
I guess there's something to be said about a show of force in response to the barbaric use of chemical weapons and, so far, this seems to be a pinprick attack on the airbase used to launch the attack.  I'm as conflicted as virtually everybody on this Reddit thread.

Triggered

This account is a hoot.  College Fix: "‘War on Cops’ author Heather Mac Donald shouted down at UCLA by hysterical Black Lives Matter protest."

She's the worst

Twitchy: "Elizabeth Warren goes on warpath against nuke option, steps on rake she dropped in 2013."

Prepare to be shocked

The New York Times had a certain opinion in 2013 on judicial filibusters: "Democracy returns to the Senate."
In a 52-to-48 vote that substantially altered the balance of power in Washington, the Senate changed its most infuriating rule and effectively ended the filibuster on executive and judicial appointments. From now on, if any senator tries to filibuster a presidential nominee, that filibuster can be stopped with a simple majority, not the 60-vote requirement of the past. That means a return to the democratic process of giving nominees an up-or-down vote, allowing them to be either confirmed or rejected by a simple majority. 
The only exceptions are nominations to the Supreme Court, for which a filibuster would still be allowed. But now that the Senate has begun to tear down undemocratic procedures, the precedent set on Thursday will increase the pressure to end those filibusters, too.
Hooray for Democracy!  So you may be puzzled at yesterday's editorial: "The Supreme Court as a partisan tool."
What matters, of course, is not some arcane voting process in the Senate. What matters is that Americans believe they are governed by law, not by whatever political party manages to stack the Supreme Court. That is what Mitch McConnell has driven the Senate to put at risk — a very great risk indeed — and it may, in the end, fall to the court itself to find a way to rise above the steadily encroaching tide of factionalism.
Awww.  So much partisanship and arcane voting processes.  The NYT made sure to include a throwaway line: "Some of the blame rests on the Democrats."  In 2013 they were preserving democracy while in 2017 they're resisting the forces of factionalism.

We remember Miguel Estrada, too

Politico: "McConnell Is Finishing What Schumer Started - Fifteen years ago, Charles Schumer picked a fight over judicial nominees. This week, Mitch McConnell is ending it for good."

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Murkowski is on board

Hot Air: "Push the button: Centrist Lisa Murkowski warns Democrats that she’s ready to go nuclear to confirm Gorsuch."

I don't think the Democrats will go through with it: they'll pull back from the abyss.

Why so quiet, Liz?

Washington Free Beacon: "Elizabeth Warren Goes Silent on Equal Pay Day After Free Beacon Report."

Where's that fightin' fight we're so used to?

Flashback: Schumer poisons the well

Weekly Standard: "Republicans: Schumer Broke His Word on Pompeo Confirmation."
Representative Pompeo will almost certainly be confirmed as CIA Director on Monday. And the CIA will no doubt survive two days without its new leader. But the nastiness of the partisan sniping between top Republicans and Democrats that led to the delay may well have a lasting impact on the Senate - in this Congress and beyond.
According to six sources familiar with the negotiations over Pompeo's confirmation, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told Republican leaders that he would allow Pompeo to be confirmed by voice vote on Inauguration Day, along with two other Trump nominees who have national security responsibilities. But Schumer broke his promise, these sources say, and offered an insulting excuse for having done so.
"Trust is important, even between adversaries," says Senator John Cornyn, one of the Republicans involved in the discussions. "And that trust has been damaged."
Which is why it was laughable when Schumer floated his ridiculous proposal that the Democrats would "allow" Gorsuch onto the Supreme Court as long as the Republicans maintained the filibuster or else let Democrats help pick a new nominee.  Schumer cannot be trusted.

ESPN aims to drive ratings lower

ESPN Ombudsman: "New ESPN guidelines recognize connection between sports, politics."

Oh goody.  There's nothing that illuminates a Red Sox game like a discussion of Black Lives Matter.  This is why I watch most sports with the volume muted.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

"Let them do it"

Nice find that I can't believe hasn't been unearthed earlier: after nuking the filibuster for circuit court judges, Harry Reid was asked if the Republicans could someday do the same for Supreme Court justices.

Can we all take a breath?

The outrage machine in Washington is exhausting.  I think the National Review (!) has a good piece on the Corner today: "The Susan Rice ‘Unmasking’ Scoop: We Don’t Know Enough To Be Outraged (Yet)."

The bottom line is that national security officials have wide latitude to review information and there's no evidence (yet) that this was done for political purposes.  I understand that the evocation of the name Susan Rice causes a certain reaction on the political right (with good reason) but we can't go from 0-100 on every issue.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Bombing in St. Petersburg

At least ten killed in a subway bombing.  As usual, Reddit has an army of citizen reporters with updates.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Sunday showdown

The Hill: "Sunday shows preview: McConnell, Schumer face off ahead of Gorsuch fight."

As they say about prison sentences: are they serving concurrently or consecutively?  "Face off" implies they'll be on together.  One thing that always bothers me about these shows is that one side will appear with their talking points followed by the opposite side with their talking points.  Didn't it used to be the standard for these guys to debate each other?  Or am I mis-remembering that?

I, for one, would like to see McConnell throw Schumer's words about judicial nominees right back at him.  And maybe a good "told ya so":
“I say to my friends on the other side of the aisle, you’ll regret this [the nuclear option],” McConnell, then the minority leader, told them. “And you may regret it a lot sooner than you think.”
Secretary DeVos thanks you.

Hollywood phonies, redux

I've written before about how Hollywood types love to pontificate against school choice...for everybody else.  Samantha Bee generated some laughs poking Betsy DeVos, while her husband was busy advocating for keeping their kids' school, um, let's say "pure."
One P.S. 452 parent speaking out against the move is comedian and former Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones, who’s married to Samantha Bee. "To portray any opposition as classist or racist is as bad as it can get," Jones told WNYC. And elsewhere: "We are not divided,” he said at a public hearing about the proposal, “we are absolutely united in wanting what's best for our children," then encouraged fellow parents not to talk to the press about the controversy.
Jones (and presumably Bee) wants what's best for their children.  It's just everybody else that's racist.