Saturday, August 31, 2013

Most transparent administration evah

Washington Examiner: "Appeals court says White House visitor logs can be kept from public."

I don't know why they're blocking this information.  Because when labor participation hits a three-decade low and you're contemplating starting a war in the Middle East, don't you want to show Americans that you're meeting with TOP MEN?

Top.  Men.

Friday, August 30, 2013

We will never reform entitlements

They will just keep running on auto-pilot until the honeypot runs dry.  The long line of supercommittees has returned no substantial deals to avoid either short-term or long-term fiscal disaster.

Now the informal "dinner club" between Senate Republicans and the White House is kaput.  The White House wants to raise taxes (again) and the Republicans want entitlement reform.  But, as I noted a long time ago, demagoguing entitlements for political gain is like crack to the Democrats.   It's all kabuki theater and class warfare: the Democrats will never reform entitlements.  The Republicans should stop convincing themselves they can kick Lucy's football.

Social Security and Medicare are on a glide path to bankruptcy.  Let it burn.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Going it aloner

Here's a breathless Katie Couric hailing freshly-minted President Obama speaking to the United Nations in 2009:
"Good evening, everyone. President Obama says we have reached a “pivotal moment.” In his UN debut today, he challenged the world to work together to solve the problems facing all of us. And in a break with the “go it alone policies” of his predecessor, he said the United States is ready to begin a new chapter of international cooperation."
Remember when "going it alone" meant Congressional approval and an international coalition?  Now, with Great Britain backing away, Obama still appears ready to lob some cruise missiles into Syria. line.

Extra - Twitchy: "Army of One."

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

That curve gets real steep

Zero Hedge: "The chart that every taxpayer deserves to see."  It's projected government debt per taxpayer.  In 2015, it's $150K and doubling to $300K twenty years later.  Then...up.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

You can hold any opinion you want... long as it conforms with ours.  Erik Wemple in the WashPost: "MSNBC: Must-agree TV."

Obama 2007: Big fan of Congressional approval for military action

Throw this on the pile of "things that are different now":
"The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.
 As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action."
Unless you've imprudently drawn a "red line" then let's go NATO.

Extra - Ace: "Joe Biden in 2007: I will impeach!"

Monday, August 26, 2013

Headline of the year (so far)

From Mass Live: "Mother of Beastie Boys musician Mike D donates Veronese painting to Worcester Art Museum."

Mike D's mom purchased "Venus Disarming Cupid" for $2.9 million in 1990.  Wow, fighting for your right to party really pays off.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Do not want

Mark Steyn: "Obamacare's hierarchy of privilege."  "It’s a very strange law whose only defining characteristic is that no one who favors it wants to be bound by it."

The national conversation on race

A good post from DaTechGuy: "Salon and the dishonorable dim-witted Left."

In my mind, there's no use talking about the Trayvon Martin case.  It has already achieved the truthiness of "Gore won the Presidency" and no amount of exposition will change the MSNBC narrative on race.  As the trial was winding down a local newspaper wrote an article which averred that certain "facts" in the case were "indisputable."  I wrote a letter to the paper that started: "I dispute it."

In case you missed it, certain Oberlin students were speaking truth to power by staging a series of hate crime hoaxes.  Perhaps this is the time to have a discussion about race?  Well Oberlin's most famous grad had a lot to say when this was an international story.  But now?  Smelly feet.

Extra - Legal Insurrection asks if Oberlin played along with the racism hoax.  Sure looks like it.

OMG, this is the stuff of my commuting dreams

I'm with you buddy, 100%.  Lifted from a Reddit post "This is exactly what I want to do to every driver on a cellphone."  I've seen things, man.

Friday, August 23, 2013

I hear what you're puttin' down but nobody's pickin' it up

Time: "Fix Social Security now - or pay a stiff price."  "Social Security has already passed one important milestone on the road to insolvency: The program pays more in benefits than it generates in revenue. Another milestone is fast approaching: By 2033, the cumulative Social Security surplus (excess money collected over the decades and invested in Treasury bonds) will run dry. At that point, all beneficiaries regardless of age or income will face an immediate 23% benefits cut."

Thursday, August 22, 2013

As a big Disney fan, this is great

Chive: "Disney settings that were based on real world locations."  I visited the Alsace region of France several times and, golly, it's just gorgeous.  I really want to visit the Neuschwanstein Castle someday.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

This comment goes to eleven

Absolutely perfect response to Al Gore's frippery:
Al Gore: "The hurricane scale used to be 1-5 and now they’re adding a 6. The numbers all go to six. Look, right across the board, six, six, six and..."

EKi: Oh, I see. And most storms go up to 5?

Al Gore: Exactly.

EK: Does that mean it's stormier? Is it any stormier?

Al Gore: Well, it's one stormier isn't it? It's not 5.
More fun at Watts Up with That? "Al Gore compares climate skeptics to racists, homophobes, and alcoholic families."  Al thinks that deniers "fly into a rage" - it's called "laughter" dude.

Shorter Ruth Marcus

Here's the conclusion to "How 'lawless' is Obama?"
Obama is not the rogue usurper of conservative imagining. Rather, he has been understandably aggressive in wielding executive power while remaining within the lines. Still, those lines bear constant watching, whatever Republican president holds office.
There, I fixed it.  In case you didn't catch the scare quotes around "lawless" Ruth doesn't think anything Obama's doing is above the law.  Because Republicans:
But Obama has also been bolder in deploying the power, acting even when the Senate was holding brief sessions designed to frustrate recess appointments. Bush refrained from this in-your-face move, although, notably, his Justice Department concluded that would be constitutional.
Too bad Dubya wasn't a Constitutional Law adjunct professor - they've read the back of the board game cover.
The administration argues that Obama acted with restraint -- the appointments were only to agencies at risk of not functioning -- and in the face of Senate intransigence. But another president could use this tactic to gut the advice-and-consent requirement. The legality of Obama's appointments is now before the Supreme Court.
Hey, I'm not a high-falutin' Washington Post columnist or nothin' but it seems relevant to point out that the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed two lower court decisions that Obama's recess appointments were unconstitutional.  But, hey, now it's to the Supreme Court who may decide that - well, gosh - these weren't real important appointments and the Republicans were being jerks in the Senate.  The musty old "originalist" Scalia will hold tight to his belief in original text and we'll all laugh at him.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Deval Patrick, union-buster

Mass Live: "Gov. Deval Patrick pushes all-electronic tolling for Massachusetts Turnpike, ending need for toll collectors."

Frankly, I think the Teamster-represented toll collectors sealed their own fate back in 2009 when they staged a sick-out that backed up tollbooth lines for eight miles.  (Of course, waving cars through was impossible because, well, the Bay State needs the cash.)  On the other hand, the toll-booth-free approach raises security issues since it involves transponders and/or high-speed camera shots of license plates.  The State will know where you are at all times.

I have firsthand knowledge of this phenomenon

Helen Smith: "BMW owners really are jerks, study finds."

Once or twice a month, a black BMW gets behind me while I'm heading to work, and indicates his impatience even though I'm going ten MPH over the speed limit on a narrow, residential road.  The last time this happened, he passed me on a blind incline in a way that would have killed anybody coming in the other direction.  (Good thing it was 6:30 a.m.).  I eventually caught up with him at the red light by the Mass Pike so all this maneuvering was for naught.

The next time I see [licence plate redacted] I'm going to straddle the center line and drive ten MPG under the speed limit.  This is your new reality, buddy.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The kids are wising up

From Hit & Run: "52% of young Americans favor Social Security opt-outs even if it reduces current benefits":
Facing a different trade-off, 55 percent opposed reducing benefits for all seniors in order to allow younger workers to opt-out of the Social Security program.
When facing this trade-off, younger and older Americans significantly diverge in their policy response. Even when faced with the trade-off of reducing benefits to current seniors to allow younger workers to opt-out of Social Security, a majority (52 percent) of Americans under 35 favor the proposal. In stark contrast, 62 percent of Americans over 35 oppose the proposal. Instead, if allowing younger workers to opt-out of Social Security meant only paying Social Security benefits to seniors in financial need, then 60 percent of Americans under 35 favor the proposal, while a majority (53 percent) of Americans over 35 oppose the proposal.
In other words: you kids stay in this Ponzi scheme and send us money!
These results paint a complex picture of Americans’ attitudes about Social Security. Those who have already paid in expect to receive promised benefits, those currently paying in are less eager to do so if they believe they may not get that money back.
Just wait until 2033.

They deserved to be cast away

I got a chuckle out of this list on Fox News: "7 worst failed rescues on 'Gilligan's Island'."  The episode that immediately sprang to mind is the one where a transoceanic telephone cable washes up on shore and - instead of just cutting the cable - the Professor decides to make a telephone and call for help.

Cutting the cable would have been a surefire way to get rescued.  But no.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Chicago Bear-ish

Doug Ross: "It's time to panic, Illinois."

MSNBC throwing darts

This funny item about the liberal "news" channel's problems with geography reminded me of this quote from "Married with Children":
Bud: Why are you watching Spanish television?
Kelly: Spanish? I thought they were just English words I didn't know.
Like most MSNBC viewers and, apparently, its interns.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Not much of a law

In case you missed it, there's been yet another Presidential-discretion delay in Obamacare because, well, shut up.  Congress got their fix but sucks for the rest of you.

But wait, wasn't this law passed with all the typical legislative language like "the government shall do X"?  I guess they were only suggestions and the White House can ignore at its discretion.  Obama said so:
Asked at a press conference today to discuss concerns about whether his administration has the authority to delay Obamacare’s employer mandate, President Obama declined to explain his administration’s authority and instead to simply assert it. But not before casting blame on Republicans. “In a normal political environment,” Obama said, he would have been able to call up House Speaker John Boehner and work out a fix. “We’re not in a normal atmosphere around here when it comes to quote unquote Obamacare. We did have the executive authority to do so.” There you go. Obama says the White House had the authority. Next question?
So Obama can change the law because he can.  Who's going to tell him differently - Eric Holder?  Oh boy, that's not gonna happen.

Related - Opinion Journal: "Problems with Authority."

Karma, bitch!

I got a laugh out of this AMA on Reddit with Aaron Paul:
Thank you so much. Yes, I get called "bitch" on a daily basis and yes I do think I'll get called "bitch" on a daily basis for years to come. But to be honest, I don't really mind because I like being called "bitch."
So polite...for a bitch!  I assume somebody says "Live Long and Prosper" to Leonard Nimoy about a zillion times a day.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Countdown to "Breaking Bad"

Might as well make my prediction now for the greatest show in the history of television, just in case I don't have the opportunity tomorrow.  There are a bunch of theories on how "Breaking Bad" will end and here's mine:

- Walt's cancer is back and he will yield to Skyler's pleadings to quit the business so he can spend his final days with his family (already seen at the end of Season 5A.)  This will not go over well with Lydia or the boys from Phoenix and Skyler will pay the price.
- Hank cannot expose Walt and become the laughingstock of the DEA.  So he helps to arrange Walt's disappearance (to New Hampshire - that's right), somehow takes credit for stopping Heisenburg, takes a huge chunk of Walt's money stash, then he and Marie raise the now-orphaned Holly and Walt Jr.  Walter accepts this exile as the price for providing for his family and, besides, he isn't going to live much longer anyway.
- Saul will also take a big cut from the White's storage room pile.  In exchange, Saul will be Walt's only source of information from Albuquerque.
- What about Jesse?  I don't know.  At the end of season 5A, he got his overdue $5 million payoff from Walt and he's been resolute about not returning to the meth business, at least not with Walt.  It's possible that with Heisenberg's disappearance, the Cartel pulls Jesse back into the cook.  Remember that he traveled down to Mexico to show them how to make the blue meth and Walter White told the Phoenix guys that he and Jesse were the "best meth cooks in America."  Against his will, Captain Cook rides again.
- The show ends with an ailing Walter White sitting on the porch of his secluded New Hampshire home with the M60 laying across his legs.  Far in the distance, he can see the dust kicked up on the dirt road leading to his home as a pickup truck approaches....

That's my prediction.  What do you think?

Thursday, August 08, 2013

But I have promises to keep

Megan McArdle has a great article today titled "We are all going to pension hell" and it follows a theme I've been following a long time (usually with regard to Social Security): promises have been made to past generations and the bill has been placed on future generations.  What happens when the well runs dry, Detroit-style?

On the one hand, as short-sighted as these promises were, they were promises:
Yes, I know that this was often bad politics, not sound public stewardship. But we have to treat decisions made by elected officials as, well, decisions made by the citizens of those locales. If the citizenry can demand to renege at any time because they don’t like the outcome, government can’t function at all -- not even the bits we like, like police and roads.
A perfectly rational opinion...assuming there's a tax base to support these civic obligations.  What happens when the workers of today decide they're not to be impoverished by the over-the-top promises of yesterday?
There is, in the end, a limit to how tightly past taxpayers, or their representatives, can bind the citizens of the future. It is a genuine tragedy that people who worked hard for the city of Detroit for 30 years should lose pension benefits. But that doesn’t mean that the city of Detroit should turn off the streetlights and get rid of schools and ambulance service in order to fund those lost pensions. And it’s hard to argue that the taxpayers of other places are morally obligated to step in.
But how much should cities have to cut, once the tax base is exhausted? Senior centers? Parades? Maintenance at city parks? We’d better start asking those questions, because pretty soon, we’re going to need to answer them.
If there's one lesson I've learned about my (fruitless) argument for entitlement reform, Washington and/or Americans will exhaust every avenue to avoid the problem until it's at our doorstep.  It's unthinkable that Detroit would sell its art collection to pay for pensions...until it's thinkable.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

The unemployment stigma

Zero Hedge: "Employers show 'strong distaste' for the long-term unemployed."  "There are still more than 3 million Americans who have been unemployed for more than 52 weeks and, as WSJ reports, economists (via recent studies) worry they will never work again."

Save the earth, kill a tree!

Via Watts Up with That and the latest Law of Unintended Consequences: "Yup, power companies in the UK are planning on purchasing timber in the United States to be converted to wood chips to be shipped across the Atlantic to burn in the previously coal-fired power plants."  Not to worry: the trees are being transported across the ocean on sailboats and the crew will be eating vegan.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

The second city

I said this the other day and now the NY Times agrees: "NYT: Chicago the next Detroit." Illinois state law requires Chicago to increase pension savings to the tune of $1 billion in 2015.

CNN gets results!

A little more than a week after CNN sat down with Ahmed Abu Khattala, we have this: "First criminal charges filed in Benghazi attack probe."
Federal authorities investigating the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi have filed charges against Ahmed Abu Khattalah, leader of a Libyan militia that officials believe was involved in the assault, people briefed on the investigation said. The charges under seal are the first criminal counts to emerge from the probe.
And only eleven months later...not bad.  As Hot Air notes: "See what happens when non-Fox networks turn up the heat on Hopenchange?"  Suddenly it's less phony.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Jeff Bezos buys the WashPost

Well, nobody saw this coming.  The Post wants you to know that the deal has nothing to do with Amazon:
Seattle-based Amazon will have no role in the purchase; Bezos himself will buy the news organization and become its sole owner when the sale is completed, probably within 60 days. The Post Co. will change to a new, still-undecided name and continue as a publicly traded company without The Post thereafter.
The deal represents a sudden and stunning turn of events for The Post, Washington’s leading newspaper for decades and a powerful force in shaping the nation’s politics and policy.
Bezos is paying a quarter-billion in cash which should empty about half the wallet in his walking-around pants.

The law still applies to YOU, though

Hit & Run: "The dubious legality of the Hill's Obamacare fix."  Somebody doesn't want to eat their own dog food.

Extra - From Hot Air.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Chicago's next

Big Government: "Rahm's Chicago: $1 Billion financial shortfall forecast by 2015."  "It seems, however, little can or will be done to deal in earnest with the greatest problem facing the city’s poorly managed budget—the unfunded pension liability for city retirees."

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Oh please do write another editorial about economic stewardship

Reuters: "New York Times sells Boston Globe to Red Sox owner."  "The price is less than a tenth of what the New York Times paid for the Boston Globe when it bought the paper for $1.1 billion in 1993."

Friday, August 02, 2013

Everything must Van Gogh!

I've rarely seen a story with such an embarrassment of riches when it comes to puns.  Here are some other post titles I considered:

Last Manet Standing
Show me the Monet!
Everything must Gauguin!
Running out of Degas
Nothing left Toulouse-Lautrec

In this American Interest story, it's the Blue Bloods vs. the Blue Collars in the fight for Detroit's art collection:

"The blue civil war is getting heated in Detroit, pitting blue collar workers and pensioners against the wealthier blue state arts-and-culture set. Reuters is reporting that some union leaders are calling for the liquidation of the Detroit Institute of Art in order to protect pensions."

Detroit is broke.  It doesn't have the luxury to look at pretty pictures.

Recovery summer, part V

Zero Hedge had all the Wall Street projections for job growth this morning:

Deutsche Bank 225K
Goldman Sachs 200K
UBS 195K
Bank of America 180K
Barclays 175K
JP Morgan 175K
Citigroup 175K

Well, the number are out and the economy added 162K jobs in July while previous months were revised down.  Yet the unemployment rate dropped to 7.4%?  How can that be?  Well: "Workers spent fewer hours on the job and hourly earnings fell for the first time since October."  And the participation rate dropped yet again to a new low of 63.4%.

More - Converting America into a part-time economy.