"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Donald

A few points:

1. He's not a real Republican and not a real conservative.   Anyone who thinks so is drunk.
2. He's not really pro-Life.   Anyone who thinks so is stoned.
3. He's not really a billionaire.   If he were to really run for President, presumably we'd get to look behind the Potemkin village of creditors that make up the Donald's empire.
4. No one, and I repeat, no one can be elected President who's been a game show host.
5. No one, and I repeat, no one can be elected who says "motherf***ers" in public, as Trump did today.
6. Finally, we can't have this hair in the White House.  

Americans can't be stupid enough to elect a jerk just because he's posing as a faux populist.  

Or can they?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Girl of the Day - From the Royal Wedding File

Bittersweet, of course, because she died too young, but Princess Diana was certainly worthy of Girl of the Day honors.   Kate Middleton seems a little more grounded, but she's not quite the innocent flower Di was either.

UPDATE:  Okay, I admit that Kate Middleton is pretty cute too.   Hard to imagine keeping your cool in such a circus, but she seems to be doing okay:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Feelin' Gassy

I filled up this morning.  I usually buy premium gas for the daddy-mobile, and regular for the wife's minivan.  Today premium was at $4.20/gallon in Milwaukee, and a fill-up cost a round $60.00.   Ouch!

Of course, I am one of those troglodyte Republicans who actually believes that gas prices are just like any other price in being subject to suppy and demand.   "Subject to" is not quite right, though; it sounds as though we're saying the price of gas would be something different if not for those pesky supplies and the equally pesky demands.   That's goofy:  a price simply is a function of supply and demand and nothing else.   In the case of gasoline, we have increasing global demand (read: China and India) and flat supply, particularly given turmoil in the Middle East.   Presto:  higher prices.   It ain't rocket science.

And, I am also one of those wags who notices things like people who complain about gas prices while waiting in line to buy their Starbucks coffee at, oh, twenty-five dollars a gallon or so!   When the price is high for chi-chi coffee, our culture just pays it and pats itself on the back for being so hip and trendy.   When the price is high for gas... why, that gives the media a chance to beat up on oil companies and "the rich"... can't miss that opportunity.  

So I'm not having a hizzy over higher oil prices.   But I do think that any fool can solve the problem with the stroke of a pen.   And by "any fool" I mean President Obama. 

Consider this article by Will Collier, entitled "Thanks to Obama, Gas Jumps in a Flash."     Collier details how gasoline prices spiked in 2008 and then immediately dropped when President Bush issued a Presidential Order permitting offshore drilling off America's coasts.   Here's the money passage:
Take a look at this chart compiled by metalprices.com. It’s the price of a barrel of crude oil over the past 5 years.
See that big peak in the middle? That was the last oil spike, in the summer of 2008. Notice how the price hit a high point, then fell off a cliff afterwards?
The day corresponding to that peak, an all-time high of $145.16/barrel, was July 14, 2008. By some strange coincidence, that was the very same day then-President George W. Bush lifted, by executive order, a federal ban on offshore oil drilling.

Bush’s order was, of course, immediately dismissed by the “experts.” Reuters waved away the action as “a largely symbolic move unlikely to have any short-term impact on high gasoline costs.” Barack Obama’s campaign lectured that if “offshore drilling would provide short-term relief at the pump or a long-term strategy for energy independence, it would be worthy of our consideration, regardless of the risks. But most experts, even within the Bush administration, concede it would do neither.”

The movement left was even more dismissive. ClimateProgress.org blasted The Washington Post for failing to headline their story about the order “Offshore Drilling Raises Oil Prices.” In response to Bush’s assertion that additional offshore extraction could equal current U.S. production in 10 years, they editorialized: “Yes, and monkeys could fly out of my butt” (emphasis in original).

There was just one problem: reality. Even though, as critics were eager to point out, any additional American drilling was years in the future, oil prices immediately went into free-fall. By Friday, July 18, the price of a barrel of crude had dropped to $128.94, a 12% decrease. A month later, on August 14, the price had fallen to $115.05. In spectacular fashion, Bush’s academic and media critics were proven seriously wrong.

For commodities traders who’d been pricing oil based on a supposition of scarcity, the potential for millions of additional barrels on the market hit like a thunderbolt. The simple act of putting America’s resources on the table popped the oil bubble, and a stunning price drop followed in short order. By election day, November 4, the price of a barrel of crude had plummeted to $70.84 — a 51% decrease in less than five months.
By contrast, what did the Wonder Boy in the White House do?  By the Christmas before Obama took office, gasoline was down to $30 a barrel, 80% off its July 2008 peak.   But, then, as Collier describes it:
Obama had been president-elect for all of five days when he announced his intention to rescind Bush’s order. Oil prices started going up again in January of 2009 and steadily increasing ever since. Obama Energy Secretary Ken Salazar announced a highly restrictive offshore leasing policy last December, and the Bush executive order was officially reversed on February 8, 2011.

The price of crude that day was $85.85. By April 19, it had risen to $107.18, with no end in sight.
There is little doubt in my mind that the price of gasoline could drop practically overnight if America would once again permit aggressive drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, off the California coast, and on the North Slope of Alaska.   The environment is  wonderful thing to save, if you can afford it; but we can't.  

Drill, baby, drill!

P.S.  If gasoline prices continue to go up, one odd result could be that it makes Sarah Palin a much more viable Presidential candidate, because she would be the one candidate who could say with credibility "I told you so" about energy costs.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Why I Became A Conservative

Ace of Spades asked this question in a post today.   Here was my comment:
As weird as it seems to look back on, I became a conservative while I was at Duke University getting a Ph.D. in English in the 1980s -- the time when Stanley Fish and Frank Lentricchia and Frederic Jameson were all over the place and Duke was "hot" in academia, mainly because its leftists were even further left than other schools' leftists.   I thought of myself as a left-liberal, although I didn't much know what that meant; mostly I just liked being thought of as someone who liked the cool books (Foucault, Derrida, the Frankfurt School, etc.), and someone who thought the same way as everyone else.  
Anyway, one day in the department office, a twenty-something grad student woman I knew asked me to sign a petition that would demand that the University Health Clinic provide free abortions to students.   I declined to sign; if I remember, my reaction was more toward the notion of university money going to pay for it, rather than a reaction against abortion per se.   But the withering, absolutely hateful reaction from the woman that I got really took be aback.   I had immediately become for her a pariah simply because I wouldn't subscribe to her little free abortion on demand petition.  It seemed so odd a reaction on her part, and it made me feel very uncomfortable and, frankly, mad.   I was a good guy, I thought the right thoughts -- how could she look at me like that?

It got me to thinking, though.  At the time I was single with a capital-S, and, looking back, I was behaving pretty badly with young women I knew.   I worked in a bar, and it gave me lots of opportunities, if you know what I mean.  When I honestly examined my own conduct (albeit not without a lot of backsliding), at some point I concluded that my attitude on abortion had a lot to do with empowering me to act badly.   I still think that's true about abortion-on-demand; it's basically been a disaster for women and a boon for irresponsible young men.   So I began re-thinking my own prejudices, which is what I had thought was supposed to be part of the liberal arts anyway.  (Surprise!  It wasn't.)   And I, over the course of a few months, suddenly found myself becoming Pro-Life, which I've been ever since.

The truth for me about becoming a conservative is that, once you've flipped on abortion, the rest follows, because once you start confronting the question of personal responsibility, a whole host of conservative positions  -- on marriage, children, work, taxes, etc. -- all flow from that original concept.   (It helped that, at about the same time, my friend Ira introduced me to National Review too.)

P.S.  I managed to get the Duke Ph.D. by, frankly, concealing my conservatism in my dissertation.    But it was a close run thing.   Luckily, I'm now far, far out of academia, and safely ensconced in the Real World.   Managed to become a Catholic too, or at least marry a Catholic and raise Catholic children.
P.P.S.  A lot of it too, as early Bruce Springsteen would say, was just "ooooh, ooooh, growing up."   Cheers. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Earth Day? Really?

This Friday is the day we celebrate "Earth Day," a quasi-religious, borderline public holiday that will spawn all kinds of rhapsodies from the mainstream media about global warming and similar human-inflicted ailments of the planet. 

This Friday is also, of course, an actually religious holy day, Good Friday, consecrated by Christians the world over as the day their Savior, Jesus Christ, was crucified and died for our sins.  

One of these is real and important.   The other is manufactured and trivial.  

Would Muslims tolerate Earth Day on the first day of Ramadan?  Would Jews tolerate Earth Day landing smack atop Rosh Hashanah? 

Didn't anyone think that, maybe, just maybe, having a secular tree-worshipping holiday right on top of one of the most holy, if not the holiest day in Christendom, might be a tad offensive?

Once again, Catholics are the one religion, the one "minority," that it's acceptable to offend. 

I'm just sayin'.  

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

OK, Now I Am Depressed

Here's a graph from the Yale economist, Robert Schiller, showing home prices adjusted for inflation since 1890.   The projection at the end suggests that the housing bubble we have been in still has a way to fall before it gets back to historical norms.   Great!   For those of you who took out a bunch of home equity... bon appetit!    You're underwater!

Luckily, I'm healthy enough to work until I'm, oh, eighty or so.  

Monday, April 18, 2011

Taxes v. Dentistry

After having completed my federal and state taxes over the weekend I spent this morning having two cavities drilled.   On the whole, I preferred the dentistry.  


Some random thoughts on taxes:

1. The arguments about taxes in this country are insipid, and backwards.   The premise of much of the political debate is focused on whether the "rich" (an elastic category) pay too little in taxes and should be made to pay more as a matter of fairness (the Democratic position).   Republicans oppose the Democratic position, but their opposition is essentially couched in terms of the proposition that raising taxes on the rich would hurt the economy (with the implication that, if it didn't, then raising taxes on the rich would be okay).   The truth is, of course, that the rich are overtaxed by any reasonable measure of fairness, not undertaxed.   And the converse is true:  the non-rich are undertaxed, not overtaxed, again as a matter of fairness.   How could it be fair that 45% of Americans pay no federal income tax at all?  And don't tell me that they pay Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes.   Everyone knows, or ought to know, that those payroll taxes do not begin to pay for those programs, so the truth is that, as things stand now, that everyone will get back more than they pay in for Social Security and Medicare.   But no one, and certainly not the national GOP, will dare say that the rich are overtaxed and the poor undertaxed.   So we let the argument go on in all its vapidity, with the result that we have a nation of deadbeats who think it's perfectly moral to mooch off the so-called "rich."

2.  Doing taxes is far, far too complex.   I do my own but I (a) have relatively simple taxes to do; and (b) have relatively high skills with reading legalese, with following step-by-step instructions, and with doing simple arithmetic.   It still took me most of Saturday and Sunday.   For the average person, I suspect it's a nearly impossible task.   And so we have a huge industry whose sole purpose is tax compliance -- preparers, accountants, tax attorneys, etc.   This is an entirely unproductive sector, and a huge drain on the time and money of the nation, a drain which has been estimated here (by Arthur Laffer no less.... yes, that Arthur Laffer) at $431 billion a year.   Simplifying the tax code should be a major priority... but, alas, I fear that the tax compliance industry is "too big to fail."

3.  I paid roughly 27% of my income in federal and state taxes, including self-employment taxes (both employer and employee shares of Social Security and Medicare).   I paid another 3% of my income in state property taxes.   In Wisconsin we have a state sales tax of 5.6%, so I likely pay another 4% or so of income to sales tax (food purchases are not taxable).   Then there's licenses, fees, gasoline taxes, etc.   So let's round up all of those and I guess it's pretty likely that I paid somewhere around 35-40% of my income to taxes.    Compare that to:  mortgage (about 9% of income this year); new car payments (about 6%); tuition at Catholic School (about 3%), health insurance (about 8%), retirement savings (about 10%).   So I pay in taxes about what I pay for my house, my cars, my kids education, my health care, and my retirement savings.    And what exactly do I get for it again?   Forget about the real estate bubble and even forget about the so-called "higher education bubble."   What we have now is the worst of all bubbles.... the "government bubble."   Government, viewed purely as an asset, is wildly over-priced.   Sooner or later, people are going to wake up and realize that it's just not worth it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Meanwhile Back to the Biggest and Bestest Birthday of Them All

I had made the command decision on Tuesday that my beautiful, brilliant, most-wonderfulest-wife-ever wife, the saintly and scrumptious at the same time Joan, was too precious to blog about on her birthday, too important to reduce to a mere blog posting on what is frankly somewhat of a puny blog to begin with.    That was on April 12... a date which shall now live in infamy, or at least in the Husband Hall of Shame.   Once again, my judgment failed -- an "epic fail," as the kids say nowadays.   How could I have failed to know that Joanie -- one of my handful of readers to begin with, and the only one who keeps me warm at night -- would have wanted a shout out from The Regular Guy, or at least a birthday wish from The Right Curmudgeon?   Fool!   Scoundrel!   Idiot!   (Spoken with an Irish accent, as in "eedjit.")  

And such a beauty too!   Here she is at about 11, looking remarkably like daughter Annie methinks.   (Sorry for the blurry pic... this is a picture I've carried with love in my wallet for lo these many years.)  

And here she is at 21 or so, in college, two years before I met her.   Did she know that her undoing was just around the corner?   Did she sense a short and squatty presence approaching?   Did she have a premonition that her life would soon be tied forever to a Protestant know-nothing whom she would have to work assiduously the rest of her life to turn into a semi-Catholic know-something?   Like Mona Lisa, her look seems to suggest she knew more than she was letting on.   Poor girl!   Man, what a hot ticket, though!   (Again, the picture is blurry because it has been carried in the Regular Guy's wallet for years; it's probably his favorite picture, and one he will occasionally take out on long plane rides or out of town on business just to provide a little sense of what he's missing and a reminder of what a lucky man the RegGuy is!)  

And here she is now at.... well, we won't go into that... the Mother of Three, the First, Ever and Only Wife, and the best, most Christian, smartest, prettiest girl I know:

So, Happy Birthday, my darling.   I won't make that mistake again.   :)

P.S.   The flowers were also to get me out of the doghouse.

Birthdays Yesterday - Ira

I missed blogging yesterday, so I missed mentioning the big birthdays on April 13th.   Yesterday was the birthday (53?) of one of my best friends from my graduate school days, and the best man at my wedding, Ira.   Ira probably did more than anyone else in turning me in my 20s from shallow liberalism to I-hope-somewhat-less-shallow conservatism; from being unthinkingly pro-choice to ardently pro-Life; and from the silly hate-the-rich socialism so characteristic of the non-productive classes often found on college campuses to... well, let's just say that I have a more adult view of the purposes of government worth taxing me for now that I have actual income to tax.   Thanks, Ira!   And, Happy Birthday!  

Girl(s) of the Day - Laker Girls

The NBA playoffs are on the way this week.  My pick to win the championship?   Well, I'd love to see Derrick Rose and the Bulls (with Dukie Carlos Boozer at power forward) come out of the East.   And I'd love to see Tim Duncan make one more run at his fifth title in the West.   And I'd love to see the Miami Heat and Lebron James make it to the Finals, after a season of being vilified for having had the temerity to do what nearly anyone would do when faced with the same choice.   (What?  Rather than play out my career in Cleveland, I can choose instead to pursue and likely win championships at some point playing in Miami, a world-class tourist destination that's warm year-round filled with (ahem) available young supermodels and assorted other attractive young femmes?   Really?  Forget about "the Decision".... what's to decide?)

But what I think is going to happen is that the Lakers and the Celtics are going to make one more run before Kobe Bryant of the Lakers and Kevin Garnett et al. of the Celtics are too old.   One more great series between LA and Boston.   And, in the end, I think, as I have long thought, that Kobe Bryant is just too good, too tough, too ruthless, too much of an end-of-game killer.   He wants his sixth ring to match Michael Jordan and stake his claim for the "greatest ever."   Lakers in 7.

And, of course, they also have the best cheerleaders in the world:

VDH on the President's Speech

Victor Davis Hanson eviscerates Obama in this post from last night analyzing the President's speech yesterday on the debt crisis:
The president gave the sort of scare speech he not long ago warned against, and blasted the income-tax rates he not long ago agreed were necessary — in a context in which he has just presented a budget with a $1.6 trillion deficit of the sort he now says is unsustainable, and has warned about recklessly voting against raising the debt ceiling in a fashion that he himself had once done, in a larger landscape in which he had once damned attacking Middle East countries in optional wars, Guantanamo, renditions, tribunals, preventative detention, intercepts, wiretaps, Predators, and leaving troops in Iraq, and then embraced or expanded all that and more (this list is infinite and includes everything from drilling to campaign financing to earmarks).
These weird about-faces raise interesting questions that transcend the current politics of the deficit:
a) Has Obama in his past careers never been called to account and so reached a point where simply being Obama means that we are not supposed to apply standards of accuracy, memory, and consistency to him in the way we do to all others?
b) Or does an absent-minded Obama carelessly make up things up ad hoc as he goes along, forgetting what he said earlier, but secure that his hope-and-change delivery of the moment will so mesmerize the audience that no one will remember or care if at times he ends up saying exactly the opposite of what he had said earlier?
c) Or is he so blatantly partisan a politician that he has no principles at all and knowingly says things that are aimed at appealing to 51 percent of the public at any given moment, and therefore will always change with public opinion?
d) Or is he so cynical that he understands campaign rhetoric has nothing to do with actual governance, and so he is allowed to say something that he knows in advance that he is not bound to follow?
e) Or is he so bored with the trying job that he feels no responsibility to offer reliable, consistent governance, and so rashly throws things out and then hastens back to the more enjoyable PR aspects of the office?
I vote f) All of the above.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Quick Thoughts on GOP Presidential Candidates

Some very quick thoughts on GOP candidates:

1. Romney.   Romney should not be the nominee and cannot win.   If the GOP nominates Romney they will have given away the best argument they have against Obama, namely, that Obamacare is an abomination.   This is because Romneycare in Massachusetts has apparently also become an abomination:
As a health care plan, Romneycare is an unmitigated fiasco. It has caused costs to skyrocket, insurance premiums to soar and nonprofit providers like Blue Cross to suffer hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. 
But as a political policy, Romneycare is nearly unparalleled in Republican history. It has destroyed one front-runner’s presidential hopes (Romney’s) and helped undermine an entire presidency. For, as Barack Obama’s supporters keep reminding us, Romneycare was the precursor to Obamacare.
2. Trump.   Really?   Donald Trump is no conservative.   He's an egomaniac, and an opportunist, and he's apparently bent on destroying the GOP's chances of defeating Obama by running as an independent if he doesn't win the Republican nomination (and he won't).   And yet he's apparently running well based on pure name recognition in Republican straw polls.   Eek!  If he's serious, it's a train wreck for the GOP.

3. Anybody else?   Palin?   In a word, no.   She won't run, because she'd have to give up too much money to do so.   Bachman?  She's Palin lite and Palin prettier.   I like her, but she's too far out there to win.   Pawlenty or Daniels?  If we wanted boring and unelectable, we'd nominate Romney to begin with.   Huckabee?   Please.   The country cannot survive a President whose name sounds like a character from Li'l Abner.   Herman Cain?  No way.  Nice man, not a pol, not going to win an election.

4.  The real deals.   So, in my view anyway, the race is wide open for someone to come in from the outside who could capture the GOP's imagination, someone who hasn't run for national office before, but who has significant media appeal,and who is the real deal on deficit reduction and conservative ideals.   My choice right now:  Paul Ryan/Marco Rubio.   And I'm not the only one.... here's William Kristol in the Weekly Standard:  
On April 3, Paul Ryan and Florida senator Marco Rubio appeared as guests on Fox News Sunday. Ryan explained and defended his budget. Rubio called for more decisive action in Libya. Later that day, I wrote a short item half-jokingly suggesting (once again) a Ryan-Rubio ticket in 2012. This is just a small sample of the emails we received:
• I love the two, couldn’t be any better or smarter pair for 2012. They have my vote! I could finally sleep at night with those two running the country. Pray they team up and run in 2012.
•  Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio are the future of not only the Republican party, but also America. Get rid of the old hacks, it’s time for these dynamic American leaders. If they won’t run, add Chris Christie to the mix. .  .  .
•  I am a registered Democrat. .  .  . I agree with you on Ryan-Rubio, and would be willing to work for them in Joe Biden’s home state of DE. I don’t consider myself a Tea Party guy, although I agree with most of what they stand for. .  .  . Sign me up.
•  Tell Ryan we’ll let his kids roller-skate in the W.H. .  .  . ANYTHING! .  .  . Seriously, I understand they lack experience in some areas. However, when it comes to fiscal reality Paul Ryan IS the smartest man in the room. And he knows a whole lot about American political history .  .  . love the guy.
All of this suggests a willingness to consider more and hitherto unexpected options for the GOP nominee. And the following email correctly implies that not Obama but a fatalism about politics and the country may be the greatest obstacle to Republican success in 2012:
Mr. Kristol,
While your idea of a Ryan-Rubio 2012 ticket is a worthy one, it just won’t work.
Rubio makes much too much sense for such a new senator; and he would have way too much appeal to the fastest growing population segment of our country.
Ryan is:
Much too smart.
Much too sensible.
Much too straightforward.
Much too knowledgeable and specific in his solutions.
Much too knowledgeable in the actual workings of government.
Much too genuine.
And waaaaaaaaaaay too likable.
How can this possibly work?
Make it work.
They're young; they're attractive; they're smart; they're conservative.   Maybe we need to stop nominating the Bob Doles and John McCains and start taking our best and brightest and selling them to the American people.  

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cutting Spending or Raising Taxes - A Thought Experiment II

Let's slice this issue another way.   Let's assume we could have a magic wand and grant the wish of liberals like Mika Brzezinski, the co-host of "Morning Joe" on MSNBC with Joe Scarborough, who today apparently offered that, if "rich white men" making $250,000 or more don't start paying more in income taxes, we're going to have "class war."   OK.   That seems to be the mantra of a lot of liberals.   Let's do the math.   The richest 1% of the nation in 2008 averaged $380,000 a year and paid 38% of the federal income tax.   The richest 5% averaged only $159,000 a year, but paid close to 60% of all of the federal income tax.   The liberals' threshold is higher than that at $250,000 -- the magic number Obama has repeated ad nauseum -- so let's say you'd be taxing only the richest 3% who pay about 50% of the total federal income tax.   These are approximations, but I think they are "fair," as they say.

As I said below, however, federal income tax accounts for "only" around $1.1 trillion a year, so the taxes paid by the upper 3% would "only" be around $550 billion a year.   To solve the $1.6 trillion deficit by raising taxes only on "the rich" who make over $250,000 a year, you'd thus have to quadruple their taxes.   Do you think that would make them change their behavior?   All those doctors and lawyers and business owners... do you think they might change their decisions?   Do you think that might have an impact on economic activity, on hiring, on investment?   Huh?   Do you think?   Again, an economy is not a static system... it's composed of actors who will act rationally and will change decisions based on incentives and disincentives.  

And, even more importantly, Miss Liberall, do you really think that's fair?   If those 3% are already paying half of the federal income tax burden, do you think it's fair to ask them to quadruple what they pay?   At that rate, they'd be paying around 80% of the federal tax burden (about $2.2 trillion out of $2.75 trillion), rather than 50% ($550 billion out of $1.1 trillion).  

We can't tax our way out of our deficit, no matter how many times we invoke the evil "rich white men."   The only way we can do it is to cut our spending, and do it soon. 


Ace of Spades makes much the same point I've been making here, and does so with the added bonus of beating up on Paul Krugman, one of the most despicable liberal pundits out there:
Okay, so, hypothetically, the "Bush Tax Cuts" are now ended. Poof. That brings the yearly deficit from $1.65 trillion all the way down to... $1.468.5 trillion per year.
And what next, Krugman? You violently oppose any reduction in spending so you must have in mind either:
1) The simple collapse of government and the economy, or
2) Generating more revenue from somewhere else.
Where else, Mr. Krugman? Where are you imagining you can get ten times the $181.5 billion per year you just heroically "saved" us?
And what next?

Cutting Spending or Raising Taxes - A Thought Experiment

Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has laid out a real proposal to move toward fiscal sanity through spending cuts that run to trillions of dollars over the next 10 years.   The Democrats like Chuck Schumer (or, as I like to call him, the "Great Satan") oppose the plan, and call the proposed cuts "extreme" or "draconian" or "heartless."   Fine.   We must presume, though, that Democrats are not in favor of fiscal insanity, so they must want to do something else.   The something else can only be... raising taxes on everyone.    If you won't cut expenses, you have to raise revenues; if you can't raise revenues, you'll have to cut expenses.   Q.E.F'n.D.  

So, no matter what they say, you better believe the Democrats are in favor of raising taxes.   To be sure, they will say they only want to tax the rich, to make the rich pay their "fair share," whatever that means.    As everyone who has spent any time at all with the numbers can tell you, the rich already pay the lion's share of taxes.  (The Top 10%, with adjusted gross incomes over $113,000, paid 70% of all federal income taxes in 2008.)  You can't tax them much more.  

So they're going to have to raise taxes on everyone else too.   Assuming that they mean income taxes, exactly how much are they talking about?

Well, last year the federal government brought in approximately $2.2 trillion in total revenues, of which approximately 53% (around $1.15 trillion) and around 37% (about $800 billion) in Social Security taxes.   So, without putting to fine a point on it, if you wanted to close the budget deficit of $1.6 trillion simply by raising taxes, you'd likely have to come close to doubling everyone's taxes, and not just income tax, but also their Social Security tax. 

Anybody think the Democrats will be honest about what the alternative they are proposing really entails?    I didn't think so.  

And this, of course, begs the question.... wouldn't doubling everyone's tax rates crash the economy in a New York minute?   Of course it would.   So, while you might think that if at current tax rates we raise $2.2 trillion, if we doubled them we'd raise $4.4 trillion and have a surplus, the truth is that raising tax rates that high might actually result in lower revenues, as small businesses stop hiring, people with the ability to control how much they earn stop working as hard, being disincentivized, people stop spending discretionary income that they don't have anymore (because they government confiscated it), etc.   The economy is not static, it's dynamic, and you can't just raise tax rates to raise a proportionate amount of revenue.  

There is no realistic alternative to the types of spending cuts Paul Ryan has proposed.   We either become adults, and soon, or we are driving off a cliff.

Libya? What Libya? I Don't Know Anything About Any Libya.

Weren't we in a war over there?   I've lost track.   The befuddled policies of our President on Libya have been the subject of a set of great posts by my favorite writers, Mark Steyn and Victor Davis Hanson recently.   Here's Steyn
The Tunisians got rid of Ben Ali in nothing flat, Mubarak took a couple of weeks longer to hit the road, and an exciting new ‘Islamic Emirate’ has just been proclaimed in South Yemen. But, with his usual unerring instinct, Barack Obama has chosen to back the one Arab liberation movement who can’t get rid of the local strongman even when you lend them every functioning NATO air force.
And here's the great Victor Davis Hanson, in high dudgeon, asking a series of questions needing answers (which we'll never get):
It will apparently be up to NATO to finish the war — without direct American combat participation. The relieved Obama administration had never quite explained what the mission was in the first place — or for whom and for what we were fighting. Was the bombing to stop the killing, to help the rebels, to remove Gadhafi, or to aid the British and French, who both have considerable oil interests in Libya?
Were we enforcing just a no-fly zone, establishing a sort of no-fly zone with occasional attacks on ground targets, or secretly sending in American operatives on the ground to work with rebels? Did the Obama administration go well beyond the Arab League and United Nations resolutions by trying to target Gadhafi for a while and ensure that the rebels won? If so, did anyone care? Was the administration ever going to ask for congressional approval — at a time when we are running a $1.6 trillion annual budget deficit and have about 150,000 troops committed in Afghanistan and Iraq? Was Libya a greater threat to our national security than Syria or Iran, or a greater humanitarian crisis than the Congo or Ivory Coast? Are our new allies, the rebels, Westernized reformers, Islamists, or both — or neither?
And here, again, Hanson:
In fact, the entire American response to unrest in the Muslim world is ad hoc, reactionary, and often contradictory — apparently favoring government repression of rebels in the Gulf while intervening to stop such crackdowns in Libya but not elsewhere; pressuring pro-American tyrants in Tunisia and Egypt, while carefully not antagonizing anti-American tyrants in Iran and Syria; declaring support for human rights and transparency in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya, while ignoring these values altogether in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. In eerie fashion, the less the Obama administration seems to know about the complexities of the serial unrest, the more it jumps in with blunderbuss sermonizing.

Re the Budget Deal

Meh.   The GOP got more than I thought they would, getting $38.5 billion in additional cuts to the FY 2011 budget, and averting a government shutdown, which the MSM would have "spun" to help the Democrats.   (You know the lyrics, so hum the tune:  "Heartless GOP takes money from Head Start!   Soulless GOP wants to take Grandma off her meds!   Mean GOP wants our boys overseas fighting to miss paychecks!   Rinse, repeat.)   And they got some good things too, like the promise of an up-or-down vote on funding Planned Parenthood.   (See below.)

But, on the whole, this is a drop in the proverbial bucket.   To put it in perspective, the federal budget for 2011 is likely to end up spending around $3.8 trillion.   So the "cut" was about 1%.   But meanwhile we're running a $1.6 trillion deficit, using money either printed or borrowed from the Chinese.   Perhaps Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" budget will do better for FY 2012.   But, by then, in the fall of 2011, everyone will be in full campaign mode for 2012, and the Democrats will demagogue every proposed cut as the end of the world.  

Sooner or later, of course, it actually will be the end of the world:  Chinese leverage, a rise in worldwide interest rates, significant state defaults (California?  Illinois?), significant sovereign defaults overseas (PIGS, you know who you are... Portugual, Ireland, Greece, Spain), etc.   We're doing increments when we need amputation -- significant cuts of whole segments of what government does.  

My vote:   the Departments of Education, Agriculture, and Commerce.   Cut them now, tomorrow.   That's more than $100 billion in discretionary spending that we'll never miss.  It's still just a drop in the bucket, but it's a bigger drop and would send a bigger message. 

Why Defunding Planned Parenthood is Important

At the end of the budget negotiations last week, the sticking point was the GOP's insistence that Planned Parenthood's federal funding be cut.   Why were Republicans pushing so hard for what may have seemed like a peripheral issue? 

Some of it undoubtedly was an offshoot from the video stings from a few months back showing Planned Parenthood representatives in offices in across the country giving nonchalant advice to sex traffickers about getting birth control services for underage prostitutes.    These were the stings conceived by Lila Rose, about whom I've written before.   Planned Parenthood doesn't come off too good in the videos, to say the least.

But mostly it's just an opportunity to do what needs to be done constantly about all government spending.... to put before the American people the facts about what their federal government spends money on, and ask the simple question.... is it appropriate to spend that much money on X, whatever X is.   I'd wager most Americans are completely in the dark that Planned Parenthood is government funded, and even more in the dark about what Planned Parenthood does with that money.   Read:  with my money, and with your money.  

In the case of Planned Parenthood, it receives approximately $363 million in federal funding each year.  (This is for 2009, the last year available.)   Planned Parenthood's total revenues for that year were $1.1 billion, according to its own Annual Report at p. 29.   So federal funding provided precisely one third of the funding for Planned Parenthood.  

But the organization, according to its own "fact sheet," also performed 332,278 abortions in the last full year for which there are statistics, 2009.   During that year there were a total of approximately 1.2 million abortions nationwide, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which is a public policy research affiliate of Planned Parenthood.   So Planned Parenthood performed roughly 25% of the all of the abortions nationwide. 

In other words, no matter what they might say or how they might massage or "spin" the numbers, the truth is that the federal government is providing subsidies for abortions with your tax dollars (and mine).   Now it may be that America is evenly split on the morality of abortion.   I think that's changing with the advent of ultrasound and with greater attention called to the abortion culture and industry, but let's leave that aside for now.   Assume that we're evenly split on the moral issue.   Even so, I don't believe and I don't think any observant person in America believes that we're evenly split on the issue of whether American taxpayers ought to be made to pay for abortions.   I think that split might be 75-25 against, with a lot of blue-collar Reagan Democrats (working-class Catholics) crossing over.   Taxpayer funds ought not go to pay for abortions, period.  

That's why the Republicans were fighting for that seemingly minor amount of spending.   At some point, there really are things that government should not do, and taxpayers ought not be compelled to fund.

Birthdays Today

Mediocre birthdays today, perhaps only interesting to me.   But then... what else is a blog except what's interesting to the person doing the blogging?

First, it's Edward Everett's birthday.   Born in 1794, Everett was the "orator" -- I suspect we don't have people who are "orators" anymore; a sign of the times, since our attention spans grow too short for listening to long speeches -- who spoke for more than two hours at Gettysburg in the fall of 1863, only to be eclipsed in history by a short set of comments spoken immediately after him, of course, by President Abraham Lincoln, the "Gettysburg Address."  

Everett was a very accomplished man -- Governor, Senator, Congressman, President of Harvard, etc. -- yet he is remembered as a bore who spoke too long when Lincoln captured the moment in a few words.   History is funny that way.   But, then, Everett had the good sense to realize it at the time, when few did, commenting to Lincoln that "I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes."  

It's also Bill Irwin's birthday, born in 1950.   What exactly is Irwin -- an actor?  a comic?  a clown?  a magician?   Hard to say.   I remember watching a show he did many years ago called The Regard of Flight, which I thought was one of the most brilliant things I had ever seen.   Here's a scene from that show:

Girl Monday - The Violin Girl from Treme

One of our favorite shows is set to premiere its second season on April 24th on HBO, Treme, by the creators of The Wire.  Treme is set in New Orleans post-Katrina, and basically focuses on the music world and the poor black inner city community surrounding it.   It's a great show, with a lot of veterans of The Wire.   One of the recurring characters is a young jazz violinist trying to make it as a street entertainer.   She's played by Lucia Micarelli, who is herself a concert violinist.  

Here's a great scene from the show, where the lead character, a broken-down trombone player, sings "I Don't Stand a Chance With You" with accompaniment by the girl violinist in the street:

Friday, April 8, 2011

Birthdays Today

Today's best birthdays give us two actresses from times that are both long-forgotten and somewhat strange, as if the past is another country entirely.   The first is Mary Pickford, born in 1893.   Pickford was perhaps the greatest star of the silent film era, which produced some odd talents, many of whom, like Pickford herself, did not survive the advent of talking pictures in the late 1920s.   Pickford's last film was in 1933.

Sonja Henie was also born on April 8th, in 1912.   Henie was a world-class figure skater and Olympic champion in 1928, 1932 and 1936, and her fame in that sport led her to a surprisingly successful movie career in which she would inevitably have skating scenes (much like Esther Williams' swimming movies).   At one point, the combination of revenues from ice capade-like shows and her movies made her one of the wealthiest women in the world.    Here she is in her 1936 film, One in a Million:

A very odd genre, to say the least. I can't imagine a movie like this appealing to anyone nowadays; as I said, it's like you're looking at a different country entirely.

Henie and Pickford were both married three times.   I can't help thinking as I do many of these birthday posts that people who achieve a lot of fame and a lot of material success often aren't very happy in their personal lives.   I prefer being a "regular guy."  

Girl Friday - When You've Got It...

Flaunt it.   Man, do I miss watching Mad Men

And, as if on Cue, the Circus Comes to Town

When your job is fomenting unrest and grandstanding against Republicans, Wisconsin is apparently the place to be.   From today's Journal-Sentinel:
JoAnne Kloppenburg, the challenger in the see-saw election for Wisconsin Supreme Court, will appear with the Rev. Jesse Jackson in Milwaukee on Friday, according to a news release from Jackson's Chicago-based Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.
Kloppenburg, Milwaukee County Executive-elect Chris Abele and unidentified Milwaukee elected officials are to attend a news conference with Jackson, the release says.
The news conference is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, 2207 N. 2nd St.
Jackson is coming to Milwaukee to discuss Tuesday's "dynamic elections and what's next," the release says.
I am reminded of Tom Wolfe's great essay, "Mau-Mauing the Flak-Catchers," for obvious reasons.   And it's also worth touting Kenneth Timmerman's book from a few years back on Jackson's career.   It's aptly-titled, to say the least.

Wisconsin Update - The Wow! Factor

For my readers (you know who you are) out-of-state or overseas, here is the latest on Wisconsin's Supreme Court election.  In what can only be described as a stunning development, the county clerk in Waukesha County late yesterday announced that, because of a clerical/computing error, she had failed to hit "save" when the votes from the City of Brookfield were submitted, and therefore they had not been counted.  Waukesha is essentially the western suburbs of Milwaukee, it's fairly affluent (with Brookfield being the most affluent community) and, because of "white flight" over the past decades, has become the most conservative county in the state.   Not surprisingly, Brookfield went overwhelmingly for Justice David Prosser, the conservative incumbent, giving him a margin of more than 7,500 votes.   So, what looked like an extraordinarily close race yesterday, with the challenger Kloppenburg initially ahead, then Prosser seemingly taking a small lead in the afternoon as the official tallies came in, now looks like a modestly comfortable margin for Prosser, which may mean we won't have to go through a recount.   (I think it's likely that the Democrats will demand a recount anyway, because they can use the issue politically, both to score points and to raise money for future uses.)

Here is a clip from the press conference in Waukesha where the error and the new results were announced.   The reporter asks whether there was a Democratic Party representative in the room -- apparently not knowing that, as a matter of law, each county's election commission has to have an appointee from the party opposite from the party of the elected clerk.   The County Clerk, Kathy Nickolaus, says yes.   The reporter then asks in a somewhat aggressive tone if that Democrat will make a statement confirming the results.  Nickolaus stands aside and ushers forward the Democratic member of the County election commission, who identifies herself as also being the Vice-Chair of the County Democratic Party.   It's an amazing moment that reminds me a little of the moment in Annie Hall where Woody Allen pulls Marshall McLuhan out of the crowd to make a point to an effete intellectual who had been hectoring him about McLuhan's work.  

And, for schadenfreude purposes, here is Kloppenburg's "victory" speech when she thought she was ahead by 204 votes:

Double Standard Alert

James Taranto in the Wall Street Journal has this to say about the President's meeting with Al Sharpton the other day:
In yesterday's item we left out one shameful Sharpton episode, which Jeff Jacoby recounted in a 2003 column:
1991: A Hasidic Jewish driver in Brooklyn's Crown Heights section accidentally kills Gavin Cato, a 7-year-old black child, and antisemitic riots erupt. Sharpton races to pour gasoline on the fire. At Gavin's funeral he rails against the "diamond merchants"--code for Jews--with "the blood of innocent babies" on their hands. He mobilizes hundreds of demonstrators to march through the Jewish neighborhood, chanting, "No justice, no peace." A rabbinical student, Yankel Rosenbaum, is surrounded by a mob shouting "Kill the Jews!" and stabbed to death.
Remember a few months ago, when liberals shrieked at Sarah Palin for supposedly misappropriating the term "blood libel"? Obama, who was lecturing us on "civility" back then, now is palling around with a guy who put forward an actual blood libel.
One sign of an educated person used to be his ability to identify and avoid double standards and other logical fallacies.   These logical fallacies were taught -- remember the phrase "sic hoc ergo propter hoc"? --  in freshman English.   Now freshman English classes teach gender awareness and queer theory and multiculturalism and Marxism and "tolerance" and "diversity" -- anything but teaching young minds to think logically and consistently.   Is it any wonder that we have a Democratic Party that in January rails against "incivility" by Tea Party Republicans (mostly imagined) as a source of violence, while embracing men like Sharpton who have actually made a parasitic living from fomenting envy and bitterness and from inciting actual violence?  

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Girl Thursday - Back to Basics Edition

I have been trying to come up with a new Girl of the Day each day since the beginning of this blog, and it often occurs to me that there are only so many famous or semi-famous stars or starlets of the past.   What can you do if you run out of ideas?   Is a poor man's blog supposed to be bereft of young lovelies simply because his own muddled head can't come up with anything new?   No, I say, no, a thousand times no.   At times like these, one is called back to first principles.   And so:

The Latest on Wisconsin

The latest rumor (via the Gateway Pundit) in Wisconsin's Supreme Court election is that election workers in Waukesha County (which went 73% for the conservative, Justice David Prosser) have discovered 500-600 lost ballots.   If those ballots were to break for Prosser, he just might make up the 204 votes he is behind.   Expect outrage from the Democrats if this happens; also expect more miraculous "discoveries" of votes as we move forward here in the Badger State.


A somewhat related thought:  according to the Statistical Abstract of the United States for 2011, there are roughly 283,000 state and local government employees in Wisconsin.   If they all voted on Tuesday   -- and they were certainly motivated to do so by their unions -- they would have accounted for around 20% of the voting electorate for this off-year election.   Which raises the following not-so-theoretical-anymore question.   When the key issues of a country or a state involve how we are to govern, or what our government should do, maybe the size of the population that is employed by government does not matter.   When, however, the key issue becomes the size of government itself  -- as I believe it has at this moment in history -- then the fact that a huge constituency of government employees has a built-in preference for more government makes changing direction more and more difficult.   Is there a tipping point where we've got so much government that we can't ever decide to have less government, because those employed by government won't allow it?   There must be.   But I hope we haven't reached it already.



According to this story, Prosser now leads after the official tally in Winnebago County showed something like 250 more votes for him than previously reported unofficially by the AP.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Worst Possible Outcome in Wisconsin

As of this morning, in the race for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, David Prosser (the incumbent conservative jurist) leads Joanne Kloppenburg (the ultra-liberal activist) by 835 votes out of more than 1.4 million votes cast.   This is the worst possible outcome for Wisconsin and for the nation.   Why?  Because either the Democrats will find a way over the next few days to "discover" some ballots in Dane County or Milwaukee County (the two most liberal counties in the state), and steal the election.   Or they won't, and then there will be the inevitable legal challenges, election contests, lawsuits, etc., all dragging on for months while the national AFSCME and SEIU and other unions pour money into the state to pay the lawyer bills.   Either way, the two most important ideas in American history -- the ideas of free and fair elections and the independent and objective rule of law -- will be tarnished.

Bad Day in Badger World.


This is how elections get stolen.  Of the 24 outstanding precincts in the State, 22 are in counties that Kloppenburg is handily carrying, including what I would assume to be two large precincts in Milwaukee and a large precinct in Dane County (Madison).   My prediction:  Kloppenburg ends up winning this thing by several hundred votes.   Or, to put it more bluntly, Kloppenburg ends up getting just enough votes to win, because it's so much easier to figure that when you get to the end of the counting and you know precisely how many you need to win.   (Any guess what party the election commissioners belong to in Milwaukee and Dane Counties?)



It's sad to say, but my prediction that the election would be stolen is coming true.   As of the latest count, Kloppenburg is now ahead by a couple hundred votes.   Any chance anyone in the mainstream media will recall the documented instances of Democratic voter fraud in the 2004 and 2008 elections in Wisconsin?


As of 1:30 pm this afternoon, Kloppenburg's lead is holding at 206 votes out of 1,479,216 cast.   There is one precinct still outstanding, in Jefferson County, where Prosser actually won fairly handily by more than 3,000 votes.   Theoretically, if he were to win that precinct by 206 votes, we would have a tie.

This is some remarkable stuff, and I think it's fair to say that the "fun" is only just starting here in Wisconsin. 


As of just a couple minutes ago, all Wisconsin precincts have reported, and Kloppenburg leads Prosser by 204 votes out of approximately 1.48 million votes cast.   To give a sense of the magnitude of that margin, a win by 1% (50.5% to 49.5%) would mean winning by 14,800; a win by .1% would mean winning by 1,480 votes (50.05% to 49.95%); and a win by .01% would mean winning by 148 votes (50.005% to 49.995%).   So the difference is nearer to the last set of figures.   Very, very close, and it will undoubtedly lead to a recount, with all the shenannigans that entails.  

To be somewhat cynical, what I said earlier today makes a lot of sense.   The Democrats knew just how many votes they needed late last night, and they went out and found them.   As of just after midnight, Prosser led by around 2,000 votes according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.   Between then and now, Kloppenburg surged.   At some point, in very close elections, where the vote has been very closely split, if all of the late votes break one way, it should raise suspicions.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Birthday Today - Spencer Tracy

Today is Spencer Tracy's birthday, born in 1900 and, as it happens, in Milwaukee.    Tracy is undoubtedly one of America's greatest actors, and his secret was always that it didn't seem very much like he was acting at all.   Instead, he was always simply natural on screen, as if you were observing a real person living.    My favorite movie of his is probably either Captains Courageous or Judgment at Nuremburg -- I love the wisdom and courage he brings to both roles, as the Portugese fisherman in Captains, and as the old judge in Nuremburg.   Here he is from the former, for which he won the Academy Award in 1937:


Embarrassingly, I made the mistake of watching this video on Youtube just now, so as we speak I am sitting in my law office with the door closed, weeping.  

Paul Ryan, the Adult in the Room

Paul Ryan is a straight-shooting patriot of the first order, and if he isn't on a national ticket very very soon, the GOP is nuts.   He's the smartest, most articulate, and most principled person in Washington right now, and the man may have found his moment with the current national debt crisis.   Today he unveils his budget for FY 2012, which, in the way the government does things, is actually a ten-year budget plan.   It slows the growth of government spending, and even cuts significant spending, and it may just be the last chance we have to save our nation as a world superpower.   Here is the difference between Ryan's plan -- called "the Path to Prosperity," and the status quo (Obama's plans), in a handy chart:

Pretty obvious stuff, isn't it?   Will the rest of Washington wake up, or will we go over the falls in a barrel?


Here's Ryan in a short video presenting the alternatives:

Girl of the Day - Patty Scialfa

For the boy child, who loves the Boss... Patty Scialfa is, of course, Bruce Springsteen's backup singer, wife, and mother of his three children:

Pictures from the Road Trip

Here is the boy child in all his glory on our road trip last week.    In Gettysburg, atop Big Round Top:

In Washington, on the Mall:

And, on the way back home, at Niagara Falls:

A great, great trip.   I heartily recommend one-on-one trips with one's children; it's something you'll remember forever.   As you can see, by the end of the trip I had finally figured out how to make a fourteen year-old boy smile for pictures!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Quick Thoughts on a Number of Fronts

Some quick thoughts on a number of fronts:

1.  Wisconsin.    Tomorrow Wisconsin will vote on who will be the deciding vote in the state's Supreme Court.   Incumbent David Prosser is a relatively sedate conservative jurist, yet he is being targeted by the Left because, if they defeat him, they will have a 4-3 majority on the Court, and will thus be able to veto -- they won't call it that -- any and all of Governor Scott Walker's attempts to reign in state spending or the power of state public employee unions.   It's an extraordinarily important lesson, and I am very afraid that it will turn out to exemplify one of the grand truths of government growth -- that the people whose oxen are gored have much more incentive to fight to keep their entire livelihoods than do the rest of us who simply pay an incremental part of our incomes in taxes to pay for those livelihoods.   The 200,000 who earn their livings from the state will organize and spend and fight to keep their jobs, while the 4,000,000 who pay their way have better things to do with our time.  Also, in a close, small, off-year, down-ballot election, don't underestimate the cheating factor.   And we all know which side cheats.   (Hint:  it's the people wearing the SEIU buttons.)

2.  Burning the Koran.   So some jerk down in Florida thinks it's an important symbolic protest to burn a Koran.   And, the inevitable happening as it's wont to do, some other jerks in Afghanistan use this as a pretext -- and you can't overlook the cynicism of it -- to exhort lunatic Islamists to murder some UN workers in Mazar-i-Sharif.   Now even more jerks, including Senator Lindsey Graham (R - South Carolina), to grab attention on the Sunday shows (Graham is notoriously solicitous of Beltway elite cocktail party opinion), says that there oughta be a law against Koran burning.   Funny, I don't remember so much outrage from the media when various lefty "artists" did things like soak crucifixes in urine or put on plays with gay Jesuses, etc., but then that only insulted Catholics.   Apparently we are supposed to be adults and put up with the reality that there are jerks out there who are going to get their jollies by insulting our religion, but Muslims have a license to kill if anyone draws Mohammed in a cartoon.   I think the preacher in Florida who burnt a Koran is an idiot.   But we desperately need to stop excusing Muslims as peculiarly excitable.   We have free speech and they don't; we tolerate dissent (even idiotic dissent), and they don't.  That's just one among many of the reasons why the West is better and more moral than the Islamic world, and we forget it at our peril. 

3. Climate Change.   There will be a lot of press in the next few days about testimony before Congress that a new examination of the data supports prior conclusions about global warming.   Don't buy it.  Here's a letter from one of the key skeptics which shoots holes in this testimony.    The upshot is that problems with the sites where temperatures have been taken -- many of which are in areas that have urbanized over the period in question, creating "heat islands" around the sensors -- are likely the source of significant upward bias in temperature readings over the past few decades.   To give an example, here is a photograph of a temperature reading station that has been in use since 1867:

I'm thinking that maybe, just maybe, this temperature gauge wasn't in a parking lot in the 1800s, and there maybe weren't cars driving by on a regular basis.   I'm just saying...

Girl of the Day - Kate Winslet

My wife and I have recorded HBO's Mildred Pierce, and are planning to watch it this week.  It looks great, mostly because it has Kate Winslet in the title role, who is one of the best and most appealing actresses of this generation.

An Apt Metaphor for Our National Debt

From Ace of Spades:
We're like kids who see no huge changes in our day to day lives, so we assume all is well. Mom and Dad still feed us; we still have a roof over our head; the schoolbus keeps coming to pick us up. As far as we can tell, life is going on as normal. But what we don't see -- Mom and Dad's huge credit card debt, the car-repair bill that is now on the verge of going to collection, Mom's hospital bill, the ARM on the house that is about to adjust upward -- is the stuff that is about to shift our lives into an entirely new orbit. When everything finally collapses, it descends on us like a disaster out of blue, but that's only because we weren't paying attention. We preferred to let Mom and Dad deal with that stuff. It never occurs to us that maybe Mom and Dad are incompetent at managing their finances.
Mom and Dad, in this scenario, are the "elites" who have governed us over the past few decades.  We are the children, accepting their largesse as our due, but never looking behind the curtain to see that the goodies we get (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, welfare, food stamps, college loans, subsidized housing and mortgages, etc.) need to be backed up by real income and, ultimately, real value in things produced in order to be stable.   To the degree that they aren't anymore, we are headed for a reckoning. 

Mark Steyn Nails the Obama Libya Policy

Here is Mark Steyn today on Obama's beyond-incoherent-verging-on-schizophrenic Libya policy:
If I recall correctly, we went into Libya – or, at any rate, over Libya – to stop the brutal Gadhafi dictatorship killing the Libyan people. And, thanks to our efforts, a whole new mass movement of freedom-loving democrats now has the opportunity to kill the Libyan people. As the Los Angeles Times reported from Benghazi, gangs of young gunmen are roaming the city "rousting Libyan blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa from their homes and holding them for interrogation as suspected mercenaries or government spies." According to the New York Times, "Members of the NATO alliance have sternly warned the rebels in Libya not to attack civilians as they push against the regime of Col. Moammar Gadhafi." We dropped bombs on Gadhafi's crowd for attacking civilians, and we're prepared to do the same to you! "The coalition has told the rebels that the fog of war will not shield them from possible bombardment by NATO planes and missiles, just as the regime's forces have been punished."
So, having agreed to be the Libyan Liberation Movement Air Force, we're also happy to serve as the Gadhafi Last-Stand Air Force. Say what you like about Barack Obama, but it's rare to find a leader so impeccably multilateralist that he's willing to participate in both sides of a war.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Liberal Foreign Policy Distilled

Thomas Sowell distils Obama's Libya policy of doing-just-enough-not-to-succeed-but-to-appear-to-be-doing-enough-to-satisfy-the-liberal-press -- and, by implication, the cover-your-ass-who-cares-about-national-interests foreign policy of liberals generally -- into a perfect metaphor here:
You don’t just walk up to the local bully and slap him across the face. If you are determined to confront him, then you try to knock the living daylights out of him. Otherwise, you are better off leaving him alone.
Anyone who grew up in my old neighborhood in Harlem could have told you that. But Barack Obama didn’t grow up in my old neighborhood. He had a much more genteel upbringing, including a fancy private school, in Hawaii.
Ouch.   Will anybody in the mainstream press start noticing that Obama in his first term will likely permit Iran to go nuclear, watch Afghanistan turn into a mini-Pakistan with a resurgent Taliban, watch and even help Egypt go Islamist while undermining a long-time ally in Mubarek, and, now, will suffer what can only be seen as a huge defeat for American prestige if Qaddafi remains in power in Libya?  Will anybody start noticing that the Commander-in-Chief has no clothes?

Smile of the Day - The Man at 90

The Cardinals lost in a heartbreaker on Thursday (we listened in the car), but it's hard to beat Opening Day in baseball and, in particular, in St. Louis.... not when Stan Musial is still around at 90, still in his red sports coat, still happy to be a Cardinal.   It doesn't get any better than this:

Back from the Road Trip

The Bauer men are back home after a week-long road trip to points East:  Wrigley Field; Notre Dame (we took pictures in front of Touchdown Jesus); Cleveland and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (unfortunately, we missed the Bruce Springsteen exhibit, which closed last month); Gettysburg (too awesome to be described); Washington, D.C. (we walked the Mall, saw the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the new World War II Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Air & Space Museum); Princeton (we ran on PU's new world-class track); Cooperstown (a beautiful drive to a beautiful small town with, of course, the Baseball Hall of Fame); and, on the way home, Niagara Falls.  A great, great time and a great trip through what is still the greatest country in the world.   And all of it with my beloved son.   What could be better?   I repeat:  Life is worth living.  

In any event, that's where we were and why I wasn't blogging last week.