Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year everyone - See you in 2012.

Extra - Auld Lang Syne sing-along.
First, quality of product - Or lack thereof.  Roger Ebert: "I'll tell you why movie revenue is dropping."  I think I saw one movie in 2011: "Moneyball" (which was great.)  But for me a big reason why I don't want to sit in a movie audience anymore is the cell phone users.  It's a near-constant distraction to see the glowing screens used by people who are unable to go two hours without texting.
Yo dawg, we cool? - If so, could you do me a solid and spot me a couple bucks?  The clock's tickin' down to midnight, knowwhatimean?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Suck it, Verizon - Can you hear me now?  CNN: "Verizon scraps $2 fee."  I am/was one of Verizon's customers who uses the "one-time" online bill pay option for the convenience, and there was no way I was going to pay that two dollars.

Sorry, Johnny.
Lots of OWS fun - Legal Insurrection: "Tweets of the Year."

Also, from Zero Hedge: "Words or phrases we hope not to hear in 2012."  To which I would add: "supercommittee."

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Keith Richards lives! - One other thing: while I was driving around the Eastern seaboard visiting relatives for Christmas, I finished Richards' autobiography "Life."  Here is my super-condensed review:

First two-thirds of the book: Mick's a great guy!
Last third: Mick's a jerk! (Note: pejorative noun may not have been "jerk")

Good words - Right Wing News: "The 50 best political quotes for 2011."  Naturally, I prefer the ones that focus on the fiscal hole we're in, including #2.
Just another program

Will we look back on 2011 as the year when we ended Social Security?  Washington Post: "Payroll tax cut raises worries about Social Security's future funding"
Since its inception under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Social Security program has been premised on a simple contract: Americans pay into the program’s trust fund over years of paychecks through the payroll tax. In return, when they retire, they receive monthly benefits.
The payroll tax cut changes that. Instead being a protected program with its own stream of funding, Social Security, by taking money from general revenue, becomes more akin to other government initiatives such as Pentagon spending or clean-air regulation — programs that rely on income taxes and political jockeying for support.
“All of a sudden Social Security will have to compete with every other program, whereas before it had its own dedicated revenue,” said Nancy Altman, co-director of Social Security Works, an advocacy group. “It’s breaking the kind of firewall that has always existed between the trust fund and the operating fund.”
For the record, Social Security Works has long taken the position (IMO) that benefits can never be cut and that any and all tax and policy changes should be made to prop up the system no matter what.  When they (and socialist Bernie Sanders) express reservations about this payroll tax switcheroo, you know there's something deeper afoot here.
I'm home!

Well, I'm back from visiting all the relatives.  Here's the CDs I got this year:

Supertramp - Breakfast in America
The very best of Donna Summer
West Side Story
Prokofiev greatest hits

Eclectic, no?  Also I got Neal Stephenson's "REAMDE" which is pretty good so far.

Monday, December 26, 2011 have kids?

Apres Christmas, le credit card bills

I was reading the Sunday New York Times yesterday and came across this lament from comedian Adam Corolla:

First, I don’t know why the school systems are doing it, but they’re acting as if you’ll never see money your entire life. They’re so focused on cooking classes, ceramics classes, sewing classes, French, German, Spanish. Literally, I took agriculture, horticulture and five semesters of ceramics when I was in school. I never took one class in basic finance. Never learned how to handle a credit card. Never learned about compound interest.
I think credit cards exist in commerce for the same reason that casinos use chips for betting.  When you're tossing a plastic coin onto red-14, it's designed to detach you from the reality that you're laying down $100 in cash or next week's groceries.  Corolla is correct: why don't schools teach the basics of finance?  You know: saving, deferred gratification, planning for emergencies, living within one's means?

Pay for everything with cash for a month and you'll say: "Whoa, there goes my money."

Friday, December 23, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Security theater - As the holidays approach and you're heading to the airport, remember that the TSA will stop you for cupcake frosting.  Fake boarding passes?  Not so much.
The 1% at the NY Times are different than you and me - Patterico reviews the huge payout to outgoing NYT chief executive as the paper looks for force out workers at regional papers: "Occupy the New York Times."  Yeah, that'll happen.
Let's raid Social Security to get some cash to borrow more money

What happened when we first cut the payroll tax?  Nothing good, as Louis Woodhill explains in this Forbes article:
Why didn’t the (approximately) $27 billion per calendar quarter tax cut spur demand?  Well, let’s look at what actually happened in 1Q2011.
First, the Treasury borrowed $27 billion additional dollars.  Then the $27 billion was (incrementally) distributed to workers via the payroll tax cut.  What did those people do with the money?  They saved it.  Saved it how?  On the margin, they saved it by buying the bonds that had been issued so that they could have the payroll tax cut.  Who will ultimately have to pay off the bonds?  The same people who got the tax cut.  Isn’t Keynesianism clever?
Well, it looks like the House Republicans are going to cut their losses and get out of town, giving Obama a big victory since Americans are going to be able to buy some pizzas.  Can you feel the stimulus?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

All-in - Zero Hedge: "It's official: US debt-to-GDP ratio passes 100%."

In related news, Douglas Holtz-Eikin notes that the deficit reduction measures we were promised do not exist.
What voter fraud?

Garry Trudeau: "Voter fraud is close to non-existent!"

Fox News: "Officials plead guilty in New York voter fraud case."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Robbing from the poor and giving to the rich - Veronique de Rugy reviews entitlement spending's transfer of funds from the young to the poor in "Occupy AARP."

Monday, December 19, 2011

Deep-thinking economists at the NY Times

In the latest installment of carrying water for the Obama administration, some way-smart perfessers pick up the flag of class warfare and propose the "Brandeis rule."  Hold on to your socks for this stellar idea:
Enough is enough. Congress should reform our tax law to put the brakes on further inequality. Specifically, we propose an automatic extra tax on the income of the top 1 percent of earners — a tax that would limit the after-tax incomes of this club to 36 times the median household income.
Interesting that the Times disabled comments for this online article (at least for the non-subscribing 99%) since the fallacy of such a proposal invites instant ridicule.  I suppose the Tiger Woods could retire for the year after winning a single golf tournament.  Brad Pitt could make half-a-movie.

Oh, we're talking about the income of evil corporate overlords, right?  Well, according to Wikipedia Bill Gates earned an annual salary in 2006 of $617,000 and then he got a $350,000 bonus, for almost a million a year.  Gates's fortune is all from Microsoft stock and therein is the failure of taxing the income of the "rich": they'll just get compensation though other means.  The "rich" who won't be able to pay themselves in stock options are the small businessmen who we're praying will start hiring again.

Great idea, jokers.

Extra - Maggie's Farm: "Lobotomize the rich!"
Failure to launch

Hit & Run: "The ObamaCare implementation gauntlet."
Bizblogger: "CBO downgrades Obama stimulus effects."
ABC News: "Two-month payroll tax holiday passed by Senate, pushed by President, cannot be implemented properly, experts say."

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kim Jong Il dead - Wow, 2011 has been a bad year for the two worst people on the face of the Earth: Osama Bin Laden bought the farm in May and now the North Korean nutcase is dead.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Romney, I suppose - The Hill reports that Iowa's top newspaper has endorsed Mitt Romney.  In related news, the Gingrich bubble has popped and Intrade has Romney well in the lead for the Republican nomination. I'm not a big fan, but I think Mitt has the best chance of all the GOP nominees to beat Obama.  So...hooray.

Extra - Here's David Paul Kuhn on RCP: "It's Obama, stupid: GOP will rally for Romney (or whomever)."  As usual, my vote in Massachusetts will be pivotal.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Kickin' that can - NY Times: "Senate agrees to two-month extension of payroll tax cut."  Our government is now resolute to continue with continuing resolutions.
Please, NBC, don't cancel my favorite show: "Community"

Computer problems - My son's computer has intermittent Wi-Fi connection: sometimes it connects and sometimes it doesn't.  The troubleshooting - both written and digital - is useless, e.g. "is it plugged in?"  The computer sees my modem address but won't connect to the network.  None of my other computers has a problem with connecting.  Frustrating.

Update - OK, here's what happened.  I found an online forum with somebody who had the same problem and it turns out he/she said there was a program interfering with the wireless connection.  I found some online game he plays and clicked on "Properties" then "Security" and changed all the settings from "Allow" to "Deny" for system control.  Rebooted, search for networks, voila.  You gotta watch these kids every second.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Stop the presses, Congress does something - WSJ: "Congress blinks on shutdown."  Well, we wouldn't have to deal with these serial continuing resolutions if Congress just passed a budget.  Like they're supposed to.
Stop, thieves!

Chicago Tribune editorial: "Stop cheating Social Security with payroll tax cut - Extending the cut would shortchange the system - and deepen our enormous debt."
In their rush to head home for the holidays, members of neither party want to discuss how continuing this year's cut in the payroll tax and extending long-term jobless pay would add to our already enormous national debt. Here's why: The payroll taxes that otherwise would be paid into Social Security only would be recouped years later, and that's under the most optimistic scenarios. Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk told the Tribune editorial board Wednesday that both parties' proposals would add to U.S. borrowing — and move up the date when the most recent federal debt limit is exceeded.
Kirk's main concern: Social Security already is imperiled — unable to properly benefit future generations unless it is reformed. Maybe a one-year cut in the payroll tax for 2011 made some sense. But continuing to cheat the program of the routine revenues on which it is structured inevitably endangers its ability to meet its obligations. And filling any shortfall in these Social Security revenues by borrowing still more billions is beyond foolhardy. It's also the same sort of we'll-gladly-pay-later-for-entitlement-spending-today that has put many nations of Europe in severe debt crises.
The one-year extension will be "paid" with 10-year revenue projections that 1.) may not materialize and 2.) future Congresses are not constrained to fund.

Extra - NY Times: "Disagreement over payroll tax cut's impact on Social Security."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Year of the protester - Althouse: "90+ people out of work after OWS wrecks business at Milk Street Cafe."
Like anybody's watching - Hot Air: "MSNBC apologizes to Romney campaign."  I'm sure this is just another one of those isolated incidents where the media loses track of its legendary objectivity.
About those trillion-dollar deficits - Hit & Run: "New poll finds concerns about big government near all-time high."  What's interesting is that there was a bump around 2008 when Americans said "big business" was more of a threat, but that's been largely forgotten.

Related fun - The Corner: "When Government grows, the economy shrinks."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Jerry Maguire mission statement - I'm a bit of a Disney nut so I got a kick out of this post over at Hit & Run: "How 20-year-old Katzenburg memo changed Disney."  It's a long stream-of-consciousness type piece about how Disney should focus on stories and ideas instead of looking for the latest blockbuster.

The one thing I remember from the memo: Katzenburg really didn't like "Dick Tracy."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Messin' with Social Security

Charles Blahous has a good article over at E21 titled "Why continuing the payroll tax cut could eventually end Social Security as we know it."  Essentially, he poses that by intermingling Social Security with the general revenue fund, the traditional idea of the program as a trust fund for future retirees is broken:
The ongoing effort to partially convert Social Security from payroll-tax-financing to income-tax-financing – by further cutting the payroll tax as a stimulus measure and replacing the funds with general revenues – may in short order put an end to the longstanding conception of Social Security as a benefit earned by worker contributions. The demise of this conception would also threaten the special political protections Social Security benefits have long enjoyed.
Of course if you believe, as I do, that the Social Security Trust Fund is just an accounting trick anyway, this conflation of trust fund and general revenue funds is just semantics.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Chance the Gardener made more sense - In a preview to tonight's 60 Minutes interview, CBS released this excerpt where Steve Kroft asks President Obama if he's trying to redistribute wealth.  Obama responds by repeating the problem, not by answering the question.  I guess we'll find out tonight if Kroft follows up with: "Is that a yes?"  In fact, I don't know where CBS invented the title "Not redistributing wealth" since it certainly sounds to me like that's exactly what Obama's proposing.

Extra - From Verum Serum.  Well, I caught the interview and it boiled down to: "I don't control the weather and, man, those Republicans hate clean water."

Friday, December 09, 2011

The leadership portion of this Presidency is now complete

Obama revealed more than he realized in his Kansas speech this past week, full of florid language, ping-pong teleprompter scanning, and class warfare.  I think a lot of Americans are going to realize that it's all politics and demagoguery from here on out and there won't be a single decision from this White House that doesn't focus on the 2012 election.  The bankruptcy of Obama's Administration can be seen in the paucity of the "solutions" he proposes when he's not bashing the rich.

Here's Charles Krauthammer in the WashPost with "Obama's campaign for class resentment":
As is his solution, that old perennial: selective abolition of the Bush tax cuts. As if all that ails us, all that keeps the economy from humming and the middle class from advancing, is a 4.6-point hike in marginal tax rates for the rich.
This, in a country $15 trillion in debt with out-of-control entitlements systematically starving every other national need. This obsession with a sock-it-to-the-rich tax hike that, at most, would have reduced this year’s deficit from $1.30 trillion to $1.22 trillion is the classic reflex of reactionary liberalism — anything to avoid addressing the underlying structural problems, which would require modernizing the totemic programs of the New Deal and Great Society.
Michael Barone hits the same note with "Obama's thin gruel at Osawatomie":
But what’s really staggering is the weakness of his public policy arguments. The long-term unsustainability of our entitlement programs he blames solely on the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts—an explanation no serious observer regards as anything but incomplete, to say the least. He points to growing income inequality and to remedy it advocates policies that are utterly inadequate to the task.
But let's imagine for a moment that gathering an extra $80 billion a year from the rich - hell, let's just make it $800 billion - is a feasible proposition.  It still wouldn't cover a single year of borrowing (never mind overall spending) and does nothing whatsoever to address the real drivers of our debt.

Oh, and one other thing: when exactly did Obama have this revelation that we could just raise taxes on the upper crust and everything would be cool?  It never, ever, occurred to him during the first two years of his Presidency when he could have passed any old tax hike he wanted without fear of a filibuster.  The Democratically-controlled Congress could have pushed through any budget they wanted.  But that would have involved choices and numbers on a piece of paper.  Coincidentally, the drive to raise taxes only started after Republicans took back control of the House and gained in the Senate, largely on the anti-deficit revulsion of the country manifested in the Tea Party.

Ah, then - finally - Obama had his devil.  There's no need for budgets, or fiscal restraint, or even solutions that make any kind of mathematically sense: just stir that pot of class resentment.  This is now a failure of leadership compounded by a failure of character.

Extra - From Ace.

More - Zero Hedge: "It was deceitful, inaccurate, revisionist, and demagogic."

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Politics makes strange bedfellows

Well, I should have searched around before I posted below.  Here's Bernie Sanders (Socialist-VT) joining hands with the Tea Party:
Bipartisan concerns that extending the payroll-tax cut would weaken Social Security are spilling into the open, complicating the effort to allow the tax break for workers to continue into 2012.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), a leading liberal voice, last week voted against a Democratic bill to extend the tax cut. That put him in line with Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the No. 2 Senate Republican, and Sen. Jerry Moran (R., Kan.), a member of the tea-party caucus.
"If you do it for two years, you know what it's probably going to be harder to break that habit in the third year," Mr. Sanders said, adding, "in which case you've got a permanent process by which you've cut the payroll tax and diverted huge sums of money."
And from NPR: "How payroll tax cut affects Social Security's future"
Charles Blahous, whom Obama appointed last year to be one of the six trustees of Social Security and Medicare, thinks it's a far greater danger than most people anticipate. He too says the payroll tax break might be harming Social Security's long-term solvency.
"I mean, I'm a Republican and I'm a conservative, and if you were to ask me at a first approximation, do I want lower taxes or higher taxes, then obviously I want lower taxes," Blahous says. "The problem here is that I'm also a public Social Security trustee, and so I'm honor-bound to identify when this causes a change or a difficulty for the Social Security program, which it does."
And here's Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Some lawmakers do say the tax break is worrisome, including Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse.
"I think one more year should be about the limit," Whitehouse says, "because of the nature of Social Security."
Enough to get us past the next election.

The great Social Security funding shift - This line jumped out at me in the Powerline post "What does the payroll tax have to do with the pipeline?"
So the Democrats’ opportunistic drive to cut FICA taxes is most likely a death knell for Social Security, as many liberal commentators have noted. How Republicans should react depends mostly on how one views the Social Security program.
Really?  What "liberal commentators" have expressed concern about cutting FICA taxes and replacing them with general revenues?  As somebody who's kinda tuned in to this issue, I haven't seen it.  But in a roundabout fashion, John Hinderaker makes a point: Social Security used to be funded solely by payroll taxes and (recently) the special Treasury bonds in the Trust Fund.  But the current payroll tax cut being paid from general revenues and more borrowing...which just puts the debt back on the books in a different place.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

I'm gonna be lined up to watch this like Ralph and Randy at Higbee's department store

Finally - finally - they made a musical of "A Christmas Story" which is guaranteed to win a major award.  NY Times: "That wish for a BB gun, set to song and dance"
Based on the 1966 book “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash” by the humorist Jean Shepherd, “A Christmas Story” has been embraced by fans for its tale of a late-Depression-era Christmas and a boy named Ralphie with a wish for a BB gun. Years of repeated reruns on television since its 1983 release have given it pop-culture cachet. The house in Cleveland where parts of the film were shot is now a museum. There are “Christmas Story” underpants and ties. A 2000 play version continues to make the regional theater rounds.
Now “A Christmas Story” has been turned into an almost $5 million musical. It’s currently on a five-city tour, with hopes to build a holiday franchise in whatever location it plays.

Stick around, Flick!  It's going to make "West Side Story" look like...a football.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Doesn't play well with others - Roll Call: "Snowe, who is up for re-election next year, said the Obama White House has the worst relationship with Congress of any of the six presidents with whom she's served."

It's not just Congressional Republicans that Mr. Hope & Change is ignoring.  He didn't consult with members of his own party before pushing forward with his phony-baloney Stimulus Jr. bill.
Welcome to the club - UK Telegraph: "All 17 Eurozone countries face losing AAA credit status."
The American debt trap

Robert Samuelson looks at Europe and notes it could happen here: "The welfare state's reckoning"
The numbers -- to those who don't know them -- are astonishing. In 1870, all government spending was 7.3 percent of national income in the United States, 9.4 percent in Britain, 10 percent in Germany and 12.6 percent in France. By 2007, the figures were 36.6 percent for the United States, 44.6 percent for Britain, 43.9 percent for Germany and 52.6 percent for France. Military costs once dominated budgets; now, social spending does.
The difference being that social spending can never be reduced.  It only increases because there's no will for Americans to cut their own benefits.
The paradox is that the welfare state, designed to improve security and dampen social conflict, now looms as an engine for insecurity, conflict and disappointment. Facing the hard questions of finding a sustainable balance between individual protections and better economic growth, the Europeans have spent years dawdling. The parallel with our situation is all too obvious.
In other words, the government big enough to give you anything is big enough to take it away.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Entangling alliances with none - That Thomas Jefferson had the right idea, especially when one looks across the pond to the mess that is Europe.  CNN: "Europe goes back to the drawing board."  Good luck this time.

Extra - Doug Ross: "Euro-bomb!"
You got moxie, kid!  Now let's crush it - George Will tells a cautionary tale of government regulation run amok in "Choking on Obamacare."  He tells the story of restaurant mogul Carl Karcher who started out with a hot dog cart and ended up with the Carl Jr. franchise.  What I took away from the article is that Karcher could never survive, much less thrive, in today's regulatory environment.  By Will's estimate, the regulations of Obamacare will cost twice what the late Karcher's company spent on building new restaurants last year.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Blue Hawaii - Jammie Wearing Fools: "Exhausted from grueling fundraising trips, POTUS to vacation for 17 days."  In other news, Obama is insisting that Congress work through the holidays to extend the payroll tax cut.  It's called "leadership" and Obama will be ready to sign that bill from the beach when needed.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Flunky the Late Night Viewer Mail clown

Good news/bad news on employment - Today's unemployment numbers with 120,000 jobs added to the economy and the U3 rate dropping to 8.6% is good news.  On the other hand, the economy has to generate a lot more jobs just to get back to "normal."

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The "soak the rich" narrative - Powerline: "The Democrats' fuzzy math."  In sum, the wealthy do not have enough taxable income to satiate all of the spending dreamed up by the Dems.  Do they teach math at Columbia Journalism School?  Probably not.
Politicized or optimistic?

If you're getting the feeling that unemployment numbers are always "unexpected" there may be something going on at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  As Zero Hedge notes, the jobless estimates are nearly always low and revised upwards later:
And going back to the BS from the BLS, as John Lohman's chart below shows that in 2011 initial and continuing claims have been revised higher the week following 91% and 100% of the time, respectively. A purely statistical explanation for this phenomenon is "impossible."
Bad news revised worse.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Those unintended consequences

Remember that this is the signature "achievement" of Obama's first (and last) term.  Weekly Standard: "Study: Under Obamacare, employees will likely engage in 'targeted dumping' of employees."
Minnesota Public Radio reports, “A loophole in the federal health care overhaul would allow many employers to game the system by dumping their sicker employees [into] public health insurance exchanges, according to two University of Minnesota law professors.” Such “targeted dumping” of sicker employees would cause Obamacare’s taxpayer-subsidized exchanges to cost more — potentially far more — than the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has projected.
This seems to be a pattern with the Obama administration from Stimulus I to Cash for Clunkers to Obamacare to Solyndra: it won't work but at least it will cost a lot of money.
"Something had to give" - Megan McArdle has a good review of American Airlines' declaration of bankruptcy and the pressures on the legacy airlines.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Another warning - Fox Business: "Fitch keeps U.S. credit rating at AAA, cuts outlook to negative."
Obama to Joe Sixpack: drop dead

From the New York Times (!): "The future of the Obama coalition"
For decades, Democrats have suffered continuous and increasingly severe losses among white voters. But preparations by Democratic operatives for the 2012 election make it clear for the first time that the party will explicitly abandon the white working class.
All pretense of trying to win a majority of the white working class has been effectively jettisoned in favor of cementing a center-left coalition made up, on the one hand, of voters who have gotten ahead on the basis of educational attainment — professors, artists, designers, editors, human resources managers, lawyers, librarians, social workers, teachers and therapists — and a second, substantial constituency of lower-income voters who are disproportionately African-American and Hispanic.
I'd like to believe that the American electorate is running the gamut from concerned to mortified by the inexorable rise in the national debt, and the working class in particular is tuned in to the bill coming due to future generations.  It was only six months ago when a Democratic candidate who "promises to...raise taxes only on the super rich" was up against a Republican "running as a business-minded opponent of deficit spending."

It's a message that's going to resonate beyond New York-9.

Extra - From Opinion Journal.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

An inconvenient truth - Opinion Journal: "The non-green jobs boom - Forget 'clean energy.' Oil and gas are boosting U.S. employment."
Crimson tide of debt

Mark Steyn: "SS Spendaholic sailing into debt abyss"
In return for agreeing to raise the debt ceiling (and, by the way, that's the wrong way of looking at it: more accurately, we're lowering the debt abyss), John Boehner bragged that he'd got a deal for "a real, enforceable cut" of supposedly $7 billion from fiscal year 2012. After running the numbers themselves, the Congressional Budget Office said it only cut $1 billion from FY 2012.
Which of these numbers is accurate?
The correct answer is: Who cares? The government of the United States currently spends $188 million it doesn't have every hour of every day. So, if it's $1 billion in "real, enforceable cuts," in the time it takes to roast a 20-pound stuffed turkey for your Thanksgiving dinner, the government's already borrowed back all those painstakingly negotiated savings. If it's $7 billion in "real, enforceable cuts," in the time it takes you to defrost the bird, the cuts have all been borrowed back.
The United States is uncomfortably close to spending $2 for every $1 we raise in revenue; all of this is going on to the national credit card.  At some point we have to envision a government that has to make due with half a defense budget, half a Medicare budget, half of everything - except we can't even cut enough of what we're overspending in a single day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

That guy who lives on Air Force One - Keith Hennessey: "The President's missed opportunities for deficit reduction."  Let's face it: he doesn't give a fig about debt.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Erskine Bowles doesn't feel the love - Via Jennifer Rubin's blog at the WashPost, the former co-chair of the first debt commission all but accuses Obama of abandoning the commission's recommendations so he could play his "sensible guy" schtick.
USA to OWS - "Meh."
Spending commitments a'comin'

Robert Samuelson reminds us what is really driving the federal deficit over the next couple decades:
As is known, these "entitlements" are the central cause of long-term budget deficits. From 2005 to 2035, their cost will nearly double as a share of national income, projects the Congressional Budget Office. How big a government do we want? What's the balance of fairness between young and old? How much should other programs be reduced or taxes raised? Many Democrats duck the fundamental policy questions and reject any benefit cuts.
Let's be clear about one thing: there is not enough money that could be culled from the "rich" to pay for all the Medicare and Social Security spending coming down the pike which will soon enough suck up every penny in federal revenue.
Time for a diet - Here's Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe with a good review of our federal debt problem: "Kicking our spending habit."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Epic finish - Tonight was the final race in the NASCAR championship and it was a two-man brawl between Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards.  In the end, Stewart finished one slot ahead of Edwards and they actually tied in total points, but Stewart won the championship because he had the most wins in the Chase.

Edwards was classy in defeat and really you couldn't take anything away from Stewart who won half of the 10 races in the NASCAR Chase series.  I was rooting for Edwards, but Tony won it outright.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Except they're not

Fox News: "Deficit panel facing political, fiscal consequences without budget deal."

Really?  Virtually nobody believes that the 2013 budget axe will fall since future Congresses are not bound by the intentions of the past.  And I don't think the political consequences are going to effect the re-election efforts of John Kerry in Massachusetts or Jon Kyl in Arizona.

I was highly skeptical of this budget supercommittee since it carried the political baggage that was mostly muted in the first debt commission chaired by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson.  Still, I kinda hoped they would find some middle ground that got somewhere near the target of $1.2 trillion in savings.  As this graph from the Washington Examiner demonstrates, that figure is almost a rounding error compared to the sum of federal spending over the next decade:

Depressing.  As Casey Stengel once griped about another inept committee: "Can't anybody play this here game?"

Friday, November 18, 2011

Western Massachusetts makes OWS news

This is currently the top story on MassLive which is the main news site for Western Massachusetts: it's about some kid from Northampton who was on MTV because of his involvement with Occupy Wall Street.  These paragraphs are beyond parody:
His family owns the Easthampton restaurant Tavern on the Hill. He dropped out of Greenfield Community College, where he was an art history major. Amy Guyette, his mother, said he has only been home twice, for a total of about five days, since the occupation began.
“I’m just a middle-class white kid from Northampton, Massachusetts,” Bryan Guyette says in the TV show. “I’ve seen a lot of communities in my area become pretty economically depressed. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer and that doesn’t seem fair to me.”
So, to recap, the art history major college dropout is raging against his family which owns a premier restaurant in Easthampton and clearly resides in the 1% he loathes.  Furthermore, young Bryan thinks it's unfair that the rich keep getting richer while hippies with green dye in their hair keep getting poorer.  You can't make this stuff up.
Abt naturally - WTOV: "Man tries to rob bank, teller can't decipher note."  I believe the note said: "I am pointing a gub at you."
Ways to have fun with vibration

Oh grow up.  I found this video today while I was looking up information on ultrasonic cleaning.  The vibration from the violin bow sets up constructive and destructive waves which appear on the metal plate.

Science is fun-damental!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Golden years are mainly pyrite - As if it wasn't bad enough that Social Security is going to go bankrupt the very year I plan to retire, there's this news from Zero Hedge: "The new retirement normal: the average American must work for two extra years after death."  But I'm tired.
After the sugar high - Hit & Run: "CBO on the stimulus: "A net negative effect on the growth of GDP over 10 years."  The shorter version is that we spent a bunch of cash on a stimulus that didn't work but we still have to pay interest on all the money we borrowed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Solyndra scandal takes shape

Here's Megan Mcardle over at the Atlantic:
But these days, the real scandal is starting to look like . . . real scandal.  Contrary to earlier White House denials, we recently found out that major Obama fundraiser George Kaiser does indeed seem to have discussed Solyndra with members of the administration (In fairness, it was after the loan had closed.  However, given that there were ongoing approvals required for disbursements, and later, for modifications in the loan, this is not very comforting.)
Meanwhile, Hoover's Peter Schweizer's new book claims that 80% of the loans in the DOE program that Solyndra tapped went to companies owned or run by Obama backers.  Of course, one would expect that most "green energy" types would be enthusiastic Democrats.  Still, the thing has a certain whiff about it.
Then today we learn that Solyndra, which was originally going to announce layoffs in late October 2010, held off on the announcement until November 3rd (aka election day).  And they seem to have done so at the behest of the White House.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu was on NPR this afternoon and an exasperated Melissa Block tried to get a handle on how a half-billion dollars went up in sunshine while independent accounting firms and the Office of Management and Budget were throwing up red flags.

Unintentional humor update - A Solyndra adviser writes: "They [DOE] did push very hard for us to hold our announcement of the consolidation to employees and vendors to Nov. 3rd – oddly they didn’t give a reason for that date."  That is most peculiar!

Monday, November 14, 2011

This country is in the very best of hands

Homer Simpson: "Weaseling out of things is important to learn.  It's what separates us from the animals...except the weasel."

I’m afraid I have some rather shocking news for you. I want you to sit down first. Are you sitting? Yes? Good.
Remember that Congressional committee charged with figuring out how to reduce the deficit? Well, it turns out they’re looking to delay the tough decisions until next year.
With great conviction and love of country, they punted.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Team Edwards vs. Team Stewart

This may not be of interest to most, but the NASCAR championship has (finally!) come down to two guys who are not Jimmie Johnson.  Heading into the championship race in Miami, only Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart are in contention; all others are mathematically eliminated and only three points separate the top two.  Essentially, this means that leader Carl Edwards has a three-position margin heading into the final race which, all things considered, is not much of a lead.

If I had my druthers, I would pick Tony Stewart although he's already won two championships back when he was driving the Home Depot #20.  So I'm going to root for Edwards to make his signature backflip next week.  Go Carl!  Win one for (bailout-free) Ford.

Extra - Evil scenario proposed by my son: what if Carl Edwards purposely crashed his #99 into Tony Stewart's #14 on the first lap of the race, incapacitating both cars?  Theoretically, Edwards would win the championship but with the same sense of sportsmanship that greeted Chick Hicks when he "won" the Piston Cup.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Media bias?  Yeah, so what.

Atlantic magazine writer Conor Friesersdorf in "James O'Keefe is capitalizing on the cult of journalistic objectivity" puts forth that in an "era of diminished privacy" any journalist could be caught in a "gotcha" moment but that should not undermine his or her body of work.
Under a different system of norms, this reporter or her editors could say, "Look, I regret that my private remarks were made public, and I shouldn't have called the governor a profane name. But the only way to judge me as a journalist is to examine my work. If you find something you regard as objectionable, point it out. I am eager to defend it from scrutiny. And if I've erred in some way, I am glad to acknowledge it. My personal opinions are beside the point."
Well, in my mind, it's not so much a sin of commission than omission.  Where was that famously objective media when James O'Keefe was blowing open the lid on the now-defunct ACORN?  Hot Air: "Jon Stewart to media on ACORN: Where the hell were you?"
Kudos to Jon Stewart, who doesn’t sugar-coat the embarrassment at all — to the apparent delight of his audience, who get kudos of their own. How can the national news media ignore the many allegations of corruption at ACORN, which gets millions of dollars in federal funding, and allow a couple of independents with $3,000 and a bad wardrobe scoop them on the undercover story of the year? It’s easy when newsrooms are more concerned with political direction than truth.
Political direction, it's well known, that only bends in one direction.  I don't know how to resolve this problem (affirmative action for conservative journalists?) but it's beyond reason to believe that reporters can separate their bias from reporting or lack thereof.  If the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, it might be refreshing to see journalists admit their biases instead of feigning some kind of superhuman capability for objectivity.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Electric slide - This news will be of concern to the dozens and dozens of drivers who have purchased a Chevy Volt.  NY Times: "Batteries in electric cars examined after Chevy Volt fire."

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Dick Durbin praises those compromising Republicans

Well, you could knock me over with a feather.  The Hill: "Durbin, breaking with Democrats, applauds GOP offer on taxes as a breakthrough."
Durbin, the second-ranking Senate Democratic leader, chose to focus on the positive and hailed the latest development as a “breakthrough.” He was worked on a massive deficit-reduction package for more than a year as a member of the Simpson-Bowles commission and the Senate’s Gang of Six.
“The fact that some Republicans have stepped forward to talk about revenue, I think, is an invitation for Democrats to step forward and talk about entitlement reform as well as spending cuts. Therein lies the core of an agreement,” Durbin said.
Everybody knows that the structural deficits in Washington cannot be tamed without entitlement reform and now is the time for the Democrats on the Supercommittee to make a counterproposal.  But by various accounts, they've walked away from the debt commission, confirming my long-held belief that Democrats cannot do Medicare reform because "scaring Grandma" is their biannual re-election strategy.  It's the reason that brave, brave President Obama - who has never proposed a reform plan in public - scotched the debt deal he had with Speaker Boehner during the debt ceiling showdown.

Extra - Ace chimes in: "Their electoral plan is to do Mediscare, so they will not actually agree on any reforms, no matter what the GOP proposes. They will always contrive a reason why Sacred Honor compels them to walk away."

More - From Protein Wisdom.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

European endgame - Opinion Journal: "Europe's entitlement reckoning - From Greece to Italy to France, the welfare state is in crisis."

Here's a joke making the rounds: An Irishman, an Italian, and a Greek walk into a bar.  Who pays for the drinks?  The German.
Promising 8% in a 2% economy - Zero Hedge: "Next in line for implosion: pension plans."

Monday, November 07, 2011

A small victory for free speech

At least in the sense that the government can't compel people or companies to make statements against their own interest.  Hot Air: "Judge blocks disease pics on cigarette packs".
But unless the government wants to make them illegal, they do not have the authority to seize the property of the manufacturer to conduct advocacy instead of requiring a dispassionate warning of the dangers associated with the use of the product.  And in what has become an obvious and overwhelming hypocrisy, the government has no intention of outlawing cigarettes, because they make too much money off of cigarette sales.
The government's addiction to cigarette taxes is sparking a growing black market that is, in turn, funding organized crime while robbing states of revenues.
Lemon law - Hit & Run: "Cash for Clunkers was a bad idea."  Well, at least we spent a lot of money.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Heartless, union-hating city officials to cut pensions in San Francisco

You read that right: there are now more city pensioners in San Fran than city workers. American Interest: "Blue San Francisco plans to stiff the unions"
California’s shortsighted unions and politicians have left their successors in a horrible position: do you slash pensions that old people rely on, or do you cut government services like police, fire protection and education?  Taxpayers generally favor the first alternative; it is hard to persuade hardworking immigrants struggling to raise kids that they should send their kids to bad schools on dirty, unsafe streets to save the money necessary honor abusive contracts made by past generations of labor and political bosses.
I look forward to the Occupy San Francisco marches and the Wisconsin-style recall elections.
Don't you hate it when complications develop during surgery? - Fox News: "Former 60 Minutes commentator Andy Rooney dies."  Ah, he was a good egg.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Stuff my kids tell me about - Go to Google and type in "do a barrel roll."
Anarchy in the CT - So I had a very short workweek because the power to my company in Connecticut was only restored on Wednesday afternoon.  But my commute to work was somewhat hampered by the fact that the traffic lights at every intersection were out.  People in the Nutmeg State are getting really upset at the slow pace of power restoration, going on a solid week now.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

West coast Big Dig - Washington Examiner "California's high-speed train wreck": "In 2008, when California voters approved the project in a ballot measure, the system was projected to cost $33 billion to build. Now, the revised projection is that the system would cost a whopping $98 billion, accounting for inflation over the life of the project. The date of completion was pushed back 13 years, to 2033."

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

More Solyndras - Politico: "DOE inspector general: 100+ stimulus-related criminal probes."
It's a sign of the times

I got a laugh out of this opening paragraph from a Masslive story on the Western Massachusetts' power outage:
The question on everyone’s minds is when they will have heat and lights again and Internet service.
Ah, that precious, precious Internet service.  How I've missed you!  Oh, and you too refrigeration of perishable food.
People want stuff but they want someone else to pay for it

No, this isn't a post about those clowns at OWS.  First here's Tyler Cowen with an excellent post at Marginal Revolution about "Why Greece is turning down the bailout":
This is a way to back out of everything, under the guise of “democracy” and ex post blame the speculators and the rest of Europe.
Good heavens how I chuckled last week when this "grand deal" was announced last week to save the Euro and the markets soared.  Really?  Greece was going to vote to slash their public pension programs?  The rest of the EU should have just tossed the Greeks out a year ago and hasten this play's inevitable conclusion.

Meanwhile, half-a-world away, Colorado voters decided they don't want to pay either: "Prop 103 falls: Tax increase measure dead"
Colorado voters have rejected an attempt to raise state income and sales taxes to fund education, The Denver Post has declared.  With 61 percent of precincts reporting, Proposition 103 was going down in flames across the state, with 35 percent in favor to 65 percent against.
Shocking, I know, but no less than those polls cited over and over that Americans favor raising taxes on "the rich" (read: someone else) to pay for the government.  It would be nice if our leaders in Washington were honest about the unsavory outcomes ahead and take responsibility for tough choices before they're made for us.  But there's no discernible action from the debt supercommittee, the Simpson-Bowles plan was shelved, and Captain Teleprompter has other things on his mind when he's not stoking class warfare.

I would much prefer that we acknowledge that if we ever want to escape the debt spiral, taxes need to rise on everyone and there needs to be a significant contraction of the government at all levels.  We've run up the credit card and it needs to be paid.
Six is a magic number - There's a glimmer of hope within the feckless debt supercommittee: a gang of six has emerged among the rabble of twelve, trying to strike a compromise proposal before the Thanksgiving deadline. Well good luck with that.
The power is ON

It's been cold but now it's warm.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Hello everyone, remember me?

Well it's been an eventful couple of days.  Here in Western Massachusetts the wet, heavy snow started Saturday afternoon and did not let up until the destruction was complete.  The October trees still had all their leaves and the snow weighed down the boughs until they snapped.  We lost one tree and the yard is littered with sheared branches.

The power has been out since Saturday night.  Fortunately, I have quite a bit of camping equipment (ice chests, propane heaters, lanterns, etc.) and a half-cord of firewood to burn if things get too cold.  But it is cold at night and now they're saying power may not be restored until Thursday.  At first I didn't believe it until I took a ride around the area: power lines are down everywhere.  I would guess - without exaggeration - that there's a tree laying across a power line every 100 yards or so.  That means crews have to make sure the line is de-powered, cut the tree off, re-string the lines, and then move on to the next junction.  The news claims there are 300,000 people without power in Massachusetts but 600,000+ in the dark in Connecticut.  This is my second day off work because the emergency storm line is disconnected, meaning there's no power there either.

So it's cold and I'm bored silly with card games ("Call of Duty Black Ops" withdrawal is real!) but we'll survive.  One thing I guarantee: the tree surgeons here in New England will be working around the clock for months.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Supercommittee watch

After two months of negotiations, how are things going?
With less than a month remaining to reach an agreement, both sides dismissed the other's offer as a nonstarter. A Democratic aide called the GOP plan "a joke." Republicans said Democrats' insistence on new taxes was "not a serious proposal." Talks could continue over the weekend.
So there's some agreement.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Debt supercommittee starts gearing up for recriminations

You know there was a brief moment when the supercommittee was meeting in secret that I thought maybe they'd come out with a workable plan to reduce our enormous national debt.  I figured that maybe by segregating itself from the glare of the media and the influence of Congressional leaders, they'd reach a bargain to stem the tide of red ink, hopefully with spending cuts which are more effective in reducing debt.

But now time is nearly up leaving virtually no time for the CBO to score any proposal:
The Congressional Budget Office has previously said it would need to receive the outline of a plan by the end of October if it is to be scored before the committee’s November deadline. That would suggest that Hensarling’s remarks Tuesday morning may have been a tad optimistic.
 Soon comes the finger-pointing, grandstanding, inaction, and downgrade.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Workin' for a livin'

Good to know that Obama couldn't be bothered to pick up the phone while discussions on troop levels in Iraq faltered.  But then he's a very busy man.  Here's his schedule for today:

Fly to L.A.
Interview with Jay Leno
Fly to San Francisco
Fly to Denver
The silence of the economists

Weekly Standard: "Where's the Administration's report on how Obama's first stimulus performed through June?"
As President Obama travels around the country at taxpayer expense to peddle his newest stimulus proposal, his Council of Economic Advisors has yet to release its 8th Quarterly Report on Obama’s first stimulus - you know, the one that cost a cool $787,000,000,000.00. Perhaps this is just a coincidence.
We don't want to upset the narrative.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rhode Island and America's pending insolvency

I liked this paragraph so much from Walter Russell Mead's "Athens of America?" about Rhode Island's coming bankruptcy that I had to copy it here:
Let’s be crystal clear about this.  To tell a 50 year old pretty lies about the soundness of a pension plan is one of the most wicked and irresponsible things you can do without actually shedding blood; people who believe these phony promises will not make the extra savings, work the extra years or otherwise take steps to protect themselves until it is too late.  Telling those pretty lies is exactly what Rhode Island’s establishment has been doing for some time; it is what Ostrich Party legislators, trade unionists, journalists and governors are still doing across much of the country.
Emphasis mine.  This is institutionalized mendacity and millions of Americans have made plans for the future built on false promises.  The green-eyeshade types can sense the magnitude of our unfunded promises and are making the necessary adjustments.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The kids need their self-esteem - Maggie's Farm has a great post about OWS, mass movements, and the philosophy of Eric Hoffer: "Adolescents at home and abroad, with Eric Hoffer."
Athens on the Narragansett

Guess which state is too small to fail?  The smallest, Rhode Island, has a huge public pension problem.  NY Times: "The little state with a big mess."
After decades of drift, denial and inaction, Rhode Island’s $14.8 billion pension system is in crisis. Ten cents of every state tax dollar now goes to retired public workers. Before long, Ms. Raimondo has been cautioning in whistle-stops here and across the state, that figure will climb perilously toward 20 cents. But the scary thing is that no one really knows. The Providence Journal recently tried to count all the municipal pension plans outside the state system and stopped at 155, conceding that it might have missed some. Even the Securities and Exchange Commission is asking questions, including the big one: Are these numbers for real?
“We’re in the fight of our lives for the future of this state,” Ms. Raimondo said in a recent interview. And if the fight is lost? “Either the pension fund runs out of money or cities go bankrupt.”
This is part of the same theme I rail about when it comes to runaway entitlement spending: state and federal governments have made a long line of promises that cannot be kept but nobody wants to do anything to fix the problem.  Does anybody sense a bold move that will restore Standard & Poor's AAA assessment of America's long-term credit?  The Congressional supercommittee?  Oh, please.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Keep talkin' chump, the aftermath - After all that jawboning, Gallup has the news: "Obama job approval average slides to new low."  I fear this may lead to more speeches, possibly involving Slurpees.
Leaving Iraq - I think this is probably a good thing since it's long past time for the Maliki government to stand on its own.  There will still be troops in the region if Iran starts acting up - which they may not, considering the state of their nuclear program.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Obama rule - Victor Davis Hanson: "Anytime the president sermonizes about civility and the need to curb partisan rhetoric, this is a telltale sign that in a few days a savage partisan attack will surely follow."
Fun with charts - From Zero Hedge: Misery index at 28-year high and debt-per-capita to exceed GDP per capita this year.
All children left behind

Here's Robert Samuelson with "Our children's future doesn't look so bright":
The squeeze will continue. In 1990, there were 32 million Americans 65 and over; by 2040, that's reckoned at 80 million. Rising costs for Social Security and Medicare have created a new political dynamic: If benefits for the elderly aren't cut, burdens on the young will go up. Decaying infrastructure poses similar choices. Either pay for repairs or tolerate substandard roads and dilapidated schools.
Our children's futures have been heavily mortgaged. That's true even if the economy returns in a few years to "full employment" (say, 5 percent unemployment) and past productivity gains (about 1.7 percent annually since 1966) continue. If today's weak recovery persists, the outlook darkens. Unemployment will remain high, say 7 percent to 9 percent. Wage increases will remain depressed. Young workers will have trouble finding jobs to develop the skills and contacts that lead to better jobs. Productivity growth might falter.
President Spend-a-Lot repeats incessantly about how Republicans will have to look a teacher or construction worker in the eye when they block his jobs bill.  But nobody - certainly not the media - asks Obama to look a kid in the eye and tell that kid to bear the burden of trillions of dollars of deficit spending.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Graymail - Christian Science Monitor: "AARP's offensive new ad campaign."
We're still friends, right? - One of my favorite movie lines, for reasons I can't explain, is from "Three Days of the Condor": "What's the matter, Higgins?  Ain't we pals anymore?"  It's a moment in the movie when the protagonist realizes his putative ally is actually his mortal enemy.  In other news, Wall Street is less than thrilled with the Democrats trying to raise campaign cash by demonizing Wall Street; contributions may be less forthcoming.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cut to the bone - Hit & Run: "The austerity myth": "Data released by the Treasury Department on Friday show that, so far, there hasn't been any spending cuts at all."
Keep talkin', chump - CNN "Record high say Obama's policies will fail": "President Barack Obama's job approval rating is holding steady, but a record high six out of ten Americans think his policies will fail, according to a new national survey."  Even so, Obama is back on the taxpayer-supported campaign trail to implore Americans to pass legislation they think won't work.  Like it didn't work before.  After Obama's incessant calls to "write, phone, and tweet" Congress, few are listening anymore.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Movie review: "Moneyball"

I saw "Moneyball" tonight and I don't exaggerate to say that this is one of the best movies I've ever seen.  Brad Pitt plays Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane who finds that necessity is the mother of invention when he has to fill out his player's list with one of the smallest budgets in baseball.  Beane is the protagonist of the story but he's not a one-dimensional hero as he cuts players without much compunction.  Great storyline, actors, characters, cinematography, everything - it should win Best Picture.
Warren Buffett: "I should pay more taxes."
GOP: "Yeah, what's stopping you?"

Friday, October 14, 2011

Man, you're like school in summer

Power Line: "No Class": "Today HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius admitted that what we wrote here is true: the CLASS Act, a long-term care program that was part of Obamacare, cannot be implemented in a manner that is actuarially sound. Therefore, the administration is killing the program."  It's almost like somebody should have read the bill before Congress passed it.
Oh, there's our Friday night bad news dump - The Hill: "Treasury announces 2011 deficit is second-highest in history."
Friday afternoon document non-dump - Breaking with recent precedent, the White House is not releasing a bunch of papers before the weekend.  Ace: "White House refuses to turn over Solyndra documents."'s not like there was suspicious Solyndra news this week.

Extra - Reason: "Obama's Solyndra talking cure fails."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Get Richie Rich - Charles Krauthammer: "The scapegoat strategy."
You won't have Obama to kick around anymore - Contentions: "Watching Obama morph into Nixon"  "The answer, I think, goes back to what my dinner companions said: Obama is exceedingly thin-skinned. Beyond that, he expects to be coddled by, if not worshiped by, the press."

Extra - From Legal Insurrection.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Good news!  Change is coming.

And, for once, it's change you can believe in:
Relying on a series of proprietary indexes, the institute correctly predicted the beginning and the end of the last recession. Over the last 15 years, it has gotten all of its recession calls right, while issuing no false alarms.
That’s why it’s worth paying attention to its current forecast. It’s chilling: as bad as the economy has been, it’s about to get worse.
And then there's this long post over at Zero Hedge: "Big Trouble Brewing."
The thrill is gone - Victor Davis Hanson: "When the zealots are no longer zealous."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Jobs bill does not get a majority in the Senate - Yes, the cloture vote which requires 60 'ayes' to advance the bill was 51-48 but three Democrat Senators made it very clear they would not vote for Obama's jobs bill in it's current form.  Lieberman, Manchin and Webb voted for cloture essentially to spare Obama the embarrassment of failing to marshal his own party behind Stimulus Jr.
Soon there will be plenty of time for golf - James Taranto: "The Left's nervous breakdown"  "Not only does Obama's re-election look to be in serious jeopardy, but his presidency has been an almost unmitigated disaster for progressive liberalism, nearly every tenet of which has been revealed to be untenable either practically, politically or both."

When it comes to economic policy, Patterico has it right: either the Obama administration stinks at making predictions or its policies are making things worse.  So it's no surprise "Stimulus Jr." is going nowhere.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Lagging news cycle - The Associated Press acknowledges what most bloggers have been stating for weeks: Obama's "jobs bill" is just a campaign marker and he's making no genuine attempt to get the legislation passed. Hot Air: "AP: Obama disconnected from reality on jobs bill."
Eat the rich

Here's Robert Samuelson with "The backlash against the rich."  In the first part he notes that income inequality is real and widespread, and there are several reasons why inequality has accelerated, but then questions what can and should be done about it:
The trouble is that the wealthy don’t fit the stereotypes: They aren’t all pampered CEOs, hotshot investment bankers, pop stars and athletes. Many own small and medium-sized companies. Half the wealth of the richest 1 percent consists of stakes in these firms. That’s double their holdings of stocks, bonds and mutual funds, according to figures compiled by economist Edward Wolff of New York University. Reid would pay for Obama’s jobs plan by taxing the people who are supposed to create jobs. Does that make sense?
I would love to join the chorus of Americans who have decided: hey do you know who should pay for the government?  Somebody else.  Isn't that easy?  And then it's a short leap to justify it (because it has to be justified) by convincing yourself it's fair that they pay more.  Did they work harder or sacrifice more or take big risks to build up a company from their parent's garage?  Well, tough - hand it over.

I wish we had a flatter tax structure and maybe the rich should pay more in taxes.  But I also believe that when nearly half of Americans have no stake in the cost of government, there's no incentive to limit the size of that government.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Now the fallout - The U.S. Senate normally operates on "unanimous consent" in that 100 Senators will generally agree to dispense with procedural matters like reading bills on the floor.  According to Hot Air, that brittle comity has been shattered because of Harry Reid's "nuclear option" suppression of minority rights.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Nobel Peace Prize winner - NY Times: "Secret U.S. memo made legal case to kill a citizen."
Math is hard, part whatever - Zero Hedge: "Obama's 'millionaires tax' collected over the next ten years will plug four months worth of deficit."  Just so we're clear, this is four months worth of borrowing, not spending.  You would think the mainstream media would call out the Obama Administration on this fiscal reality, but, well he's a Democrat and all.
Hippies vs. tourists - Do you know the best way to generate public support for your cause?  This is not it: "Air and Space Museum closes after guards clash with protesters."
I wish this movie had gone to the bottom of the Atlantic - My kids are watching "Titanic" right now and - I have to ask - is there a worse movie to win "Best Picture"?  The characters are so one-dimensional they wouldn't leave a shadow.  And, sweet Jebus, the hackneyed ending with the necklace.  Any one of the movies it was up against was better, especially "The Full Monty" and "LA Confidential."

All I can say by way of consolation is that the Academy saw their error and denied James Cameron a second Oscar for the equally-awful "Avatar."

For the record: "Goodfellas" was ripped off in favor of "Dances with Wolves" but that movie made "Titanic" look like "Citizen Kane."  There, I said it.

King of the world!

Friday, October 07, 2011

It's (fill in the blank) fault - Arab Spring? Tsunami? Europe?  Whatever.  Chicago Sun-Times: "Obama's excuses are wearing thin."

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Obama talks again

I think I heard on the news that Obama had a press conference today.  Peter Wehner reviews the imperious one in "Obama's empty threats"
It’s all very odd. Obama is acting as if his approval ratings are in the mid-60s instead of the low 40s. He’s acting as if Republicans fear him instead of Democrats like Senator Claire McCaskill, who no longer want to be seen with him. The president is acting like his agenda is popular rather than radioactive. He’s acting as if the public still cares what he thinks rather than having tuned him out long ago. And he’s acting as if Republicans will feel compelled to justify their opposition to this singularly inept chief executive and his failing presidency.
Obama is once again trying to weave a narrative that is utterly detached from the real world. From time to time my son does the same thing.
He’s seven years old.
Obama seemed annoyed that the Republicans refuse to mix it up with a guy they've written off as irrelevant to the legislative process.  But if he demands a response, this one will do:
The riposte is simple: “We do not believe this will work. It will be $447 billion down the drain, which will follow the $863 billion in stimulus spending down the drain. Enough is enough.” You decide which is the better argument. Seems obvious to me.
The White House seems stuck on this idea that we need to do something.  But we tried something, it was a flop, and the new-old plan is estimated to cost over $300,000 per job created.  Stop the insanity.