Monday, February 28, 2011

Stop, hey, what's that smell? - The push for low-flow toilets in San Francisco has resulted in more sludge in the sewer system and a rotten egg smell.

To combat the stench, San Francisco has spent $14 million on bleach...from Halliburton! Cheney wins again!
Sea of red - Here's a little piece of trivia I found over at Big Government and this article titled "Financial reality, part III: Reforming Social Security." "If we were to double federal taxes on all Americans, our deficits would still be in excess of $400 billion per year." Yikes.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Oscars tonight - YouTube won't allow embedding of this video but it's one of my favorite Academy Awards moments. Louise Fletcher wins best actress for her role as Nurse Ratched in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and thanks her deaf parents with sign language.
What to focus on - Tigerhawk has a chart of the threat to the U.S. economy: "It's the entitlements."

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Iran reactor don't run - Here's some good news to start your day from the NY Times: "Iran reports a major setback at a nuclear power plant." Could be the Stuxnet, maybe? Good.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Flashback for Wisconsin Republicans - Remember this little rhetorical flourish when dealing with Democrats unclear on the finer points of democracy.
Sounds like an Elvis Costello song - Investor's Business Daily: "The Social Security trust fund may be worth less than zero." (H/T Instapundit.)
Winning the future by facing reality

Here's Charles Krauthammer summing up "Rubicon: A river in Wisconsin."

We have heard everyone - from Obama's own debt commission to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - call the looming debt a mortal threat to the nation. We have watched Greece self-immolate. We can see the future. The only question has been: When will the country finally rouse itself?

Amazingly, the answer is: now. Led by famously progressive Wisconsin - Scott Walker at the state level and Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan at the congressional level - a new generation of Republicans has looked at the debt and is crossing the Rubicon. Recklessly principled, they are putting the question to the nation: Are we a serious people?
When Krauthammer writes about "famously progressive Wisconsin" I can't help but think back to super-liberal Massachusetts replacing Ted Kennedy with Scott Brown. There's been a tipping point somewhere where Americans realize the status quo of public policies erected 50+ years ago cannot stand anymore.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hold onto your hats: Freddie Mac lost money, wants some taxpayer cash - Shocking, I know. Business Week: "Freddie Mac reports loss, seeks $500 million in aid." When you're running a $1.5 trillion deficit, $500 million is the spare change in the couch.
Who's going to pay for all this? - Here's Victor Davis Hanson at Real Clear Politics: "After Obama, the deluge." "After Obama leaves office, a perfect storm of rising international interest rates, an anemic dollar and panic on the part of foreign lenders may force an end to this unhinged American rush to borrow and blow what it has not earned."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"You're an Ocean" by Fastball

Here's one of those songs that should have been a huge hit, but wasn't. Oh well. With Billy Preston on the keyboard.

Social Security again - Here's former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin with "Social Security and the budget mess": "It would be nice to see somebody in Washington willing to lead." Amen to that, brother.

Extra - The government made promises, it knew it couldn't keep.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Saying it ain't part of the budget don't make it so - Veronique de Rugy has a very good outline of the pressure Social Security puts on the federal budget now that its finances have tipped into the red: "Social Security is part of the problem."
Andy Stern beclowns himself

Over at Hit & Run, Matt Welch reviews the SEIU chief's reasons for ignoring the voters in Wisconsin and is it really necessary to go beyond argument #1? "Wisconsin's budget deficit is far from the nation's largest."

This is like saying: "I'm gonna have another piece of cheesecake because I'm not as fat as Michael Moore." By Stern's own admission, the budget deficit is $1.8 billion in Wisconsin; a gap that must be closed by state law. As George Will noted today, governor Scott Walker campaigned and won election on making these changes and now a "minority of the minority" wants to silence the vox populi. Color me unsurprised.

Monday, February 21, 2011

It's been a rough winter, I know - Via Maggie's Farm, Passive-Aggressive Notes has some reminders left for people who take parking spots cleared of snow by other people.
The spoiled-brat Baby Boomers - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "The worst generation's war in Wisconsin."
Slow President's Day - I guess I could say something about Libya but all the news is very sketchy so far. The Colonel is heading for Venezuela? Sure, why not. In other news, I took my teenagers to see "The King's Speech" today.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

There will be no champagne in Victory Lane - That's because the winner of the Daytona 500 is only 20 years old. In only his second Sprint Cup start, Trevor Bayne became the youngest winner of America's Race. Very exciting finish.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

FDR, union buster - Real Clear Politics: "FDR's ghost is smiling on Wisconsin's governor."
It's like, you know, and stuff - City Journal: "What happens in Vagueness, stays in Vagueness - The decline and fall of American English." (H/T Arts & Letters).
Legal updates - The Obama Administration asks the judge who declared Obamacare unconstitutional: "You were serious about that?"

Friday, February 18, 2011

Bipartisan failure

It's now glaringly obvious that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans in Washington have any intention of addressing the country's debt addiction. Look at the graph below:

Keith Hennessey explains:
The gap between the red and blue lines is the budget deficit. A deficit of 3% of GDP will hold debt constant relative to the economy. Under the President’s policies the deficit would dip in 2018 to 2.9%, and would otherwise forever be at or above 3%. Our government debt burden will increase forever.

In a crisis our economy can handle an enormous temporary budget deficit. Our deficit problem is that future deficits are large, sustained, and projected to grow forever. Our little yellow double-headed deficit arrow will grow into a monster and keep growing.
"Grow into a monster" because if interest rates rise just a little, the additional cost to the federal government on interest payments rises considerably leading to a debt spiral where it becomes extremely difficult to pare down the accumulated principal.

I know! Let's build a high-speed choo-choo!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wisconsin statehouse stuff - Wisconsin blogger Ann Althouse has lots of pictures from the march in Madison. As usual, the protesters made a mess.

Extra - From Hit & Run.

More - Slate "United We Flee": "So can legislators stop a bill by refusing to show up? They might but they're not actually allowed to." Well, yes, but the penalties for the missing Democrats appear to be non-existent.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Quote of the day - Senate budget chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND): "History will condemn us all if we don't do substantially more [to reduce debt] than is in this budget. I feel it puts at risk the economic security of this country."
GMTA, super-genius edition - Holy cow, did you see Final Jeopardy tonight? Ken Jennings used the exact same wording as my post from yesterday: "I, for one, welcome our new computer overlords." Maybe he's a fan.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I, for one, welcome our new computer overlords

For the record, the Final Jeopardy category tonight was "U.S. Cities" and the clue alluded to two airports (O'Hare and Midway) thus leading to the answer of Chicago. The IBM Watson computer guessed "Toronto" which is hilariously and fundamentally wrong in that it's not a city in the United States.

I suspect the last Jeopardy round tomorrow will feature a lot of tricky wordplay-type questions so the humans can beat back Skynet. We're not out of this yet.
I think I'm turning libertarian, I really think so

Recently I subscribed to Reason magazine and I stop at Hit & Run every day. It's like a kindler, gentler Tea Party that wants to put this country back on the path to fiscal sanity. Anyway, here's Reason's review why we're not going to "win the future" with this latest budget and the establishment parties:

On top of everything else - There's the open sore of Obamacare. Megan McArdle: "The ever-more-desperate health care budget gimmicks."

Monday, February 14, 2011

The veil has been lifted - Wow, you'll never guess who wrote this: "Obama to the next generation: screw you, suckers." (H/T Hot Air).

And here's a contemporary reference: "The Cee Lo Green budget." Heh.
Forget the discretionary cuts - Daniel Foster on the Corner: "A nation of cowards on entitlements." As Willie Sutton said: that's where the money is.
Blinded by obviousness and math - The Hill: "Voters troubled over future of Social Security." An astounding 15% of Americans believe the system is financially sound. I'll betting even they don't believe it, but wanted to swing the poll.
Harrumph! Somebody's going to be snubbed in the faculty dining room - Harvard professor Niall Ferguson lays the smackdown on the Obama administration's handling of Egypt and its foreign policy in general.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Enslaved by debt

NY Times columnist David Brooks has written an article that appears to be an encapsulation of all my entitlement spending hand-wringing for the past eight years. The main point here is that if Americans dislike the discretionary spending cuts that are being considered in Congress, it is because auto-pilot entitlement spending is swallowing the U.S. budget:

The coming budget cuts have nothing to do with merit. They have to do with the inexorable logic of mathematics. Over the past decades, spending in nearly every section of the federal budget has exploded to unsustainable levels. Each year, your family’s share of the national debt increases by about $12,000. By 2015, according to Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the former director of the Congressional Budget Office, Moody’s will downgrade U.S. debt.

The greatest pressure comes from entitlements. Spending on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and interest on the debt has now risen to 47 percent of the budget. In nine years, entitlements are estimated to consume 64 percent of the budget, according to the invaluable folks at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. By 2030, they are projected consume 70 percent of the budget.
In other words, because nobody wants to cut Grandma's check, we have to make cuts elsewhere – "elsewhere" being shorthand for everything that Americans call "the government." But even with these "draconian" cuts, we're barely making a dent in the deficit:

In his CPAC speech, Mitch Daniels had it right (pun intended) when he called our national debt the new "red menace," a point David Brooks uses to conclude his article:

It’s not only about debt; it’s about freedom. It’s about whether we get to make budget choices or whether we have our lives dictated by the inexorable growth of programs beyond our control.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Mmm bye-bye Mubarak - Fox News: "Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak steps down." Michael Rubin asks "What Next?" over on the Corner.
I was just there this past weekend - The L.A. Times declares the Montague Book Mill "the world's finest bookstore cafe." It's a neat little place that is all the more beautiful in the summer when the Sawmill River is in full flow. Plus they have the greatest slogan: "Books you don't need in a place you can't find."

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Unexpected! - Hot Air: "CBO admits Obamacare will kill 800,000 jobs." Here's yet another example of how the CBO tells the truth when forced to consider reality.
Inviting the explosion - It's being reported that Hosni Mubarak is passing authority (uh-huh) to his handpicked vice-president but he's going to stick around until September, indicating he's unclear on the concept. I'm reminded of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe who was once a freedom fighter, then president, then monstrous dictator. Holding on to power is all they know.

Extra - Here we go: let's blame America, always step one.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

How can we get through to these stupid Americans?

Coming on the heels of a new poll indicating that Americans still really hate Obamacare comes this story of equal parts desperation and condescension: "Maybe people will like Obamacare better in comic book form."

That's right, an MIT economist is going to use ink and color to explain the great benefits of the health care reform law. Maybe Jughead will get a subdural hematoma.
Idiot - Fox News: "NY Rep. resigns after he sent shirtless photo to woman." Who was not his wife. Nice going, chump. You hurt your family and gave up a job that works about 90 days a year so you can impress some random person.
When you've lost Ed Asner - Radio Equalizer: "Not wild about O."

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

At the intersection of society, everybody needs to park their car - This past weekend I caught a delightful documentary called "The Parking Lot Movie" about the quirky guys who are parking attendants at a lot near the University of Virginia. (It's on Netflix on demand.) The best part is when people riding in expensive SUVs start to gripe about paying $9 to park all day.

Monday, February 07, 2011

After gorging on lobster and filet mignon, Obama orders a diet coke

The Hill: "Budget director previews cuts in Obama's 2012 plan"

The cuts are relatively small, however, in the larger scheme of things. In total, the $775 million in detailed cuts fall far short of demands by congressional Republicans and will do little toward tackling the deficit, which is estimated to be $1.5 trillion this year by the Congressional Budget Office. The cuts are in addition to a five-year spending freeze which the administration says will save $400 billion over the next decade.
Yes, given this administration's dedication to cutting the deficit, I'm sure those spending-freeze savings will materialize. Good gravy. The American public's backlash against raising the debt ceiling is a cri de coeur to please stop spending.

Extra - Really big numbers. The Corner: "Not a pretty debt picture."

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Good ads - My fave Super Bowl ads so far: Product Placement (Bud Light), Tiny Dancer (Budweiser), and Richard Lewis and Rosanne Barr as loggers (Snickers).
Happy 100th birthday, Ronald Reagan!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Oh no, there goes Tokyo - Charles Krauthammer: "If Godzilla appeared on the National Mall, Al Gore would say it's global warming."

Friday, February 04, 2011

If you want to be surprised when watching the Oscars - Don't check out the latest odds at British betting site Ladbrokes. Let's just say that the Best Actor Oscar is a stone cold lock.
Well that's a relief - Via Hit & Run, Harvard Law professor Charles Fried testified before Congress that - heavens no! - Congress can't use the Commerce Clause to force Americans to eat broccoli. However, you can be forced to buy broccoli.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

It's not a tax, it's a tax - Hit & Run: "He loves the mandate, he loves it not - The Obama administration's individual mandate flip-flops."
Pop that cork - Finally some good news. WSJ: "A toast to your health - Warning: Alcohol may increase your life expectancy and reduce dementia." Unless you're operating a moving vehicle, whereupon it could reduce your life expectancy very suddenly.
Please please please - Please stop snowing.

Extra - Not another two feet of snow.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Blogging + lassitude = blassitude?

As I mentioned earlier, I've just started a new job and, at least for now, I've been pouring a lot of energy into reviewing the technology, getting my computer to work, and finding a place to stash my lunch. At the same time, I don't know what to think or write about Egypt. Is it all good (democracy!) or all bad (yet another dictatorship)? And while I welcome Judge Vinson's ruling, we all know this is going to the Supremes to be decided by Justice Kennedy's 20-sided D&D die.

I need to recharge my blog-atteries. Here are those "Glee" kids singing Jason Mraz: