"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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Girl of the Day - Show Tune Version (Shirley Jones)

Regular Daughter No. 2 and I were singing show tunes over the weekend, including this one, with Gordon MacRae and the great Shirley Jones:

Friday, April 27, 2012

Birthday Today - Sheena!

It's Sheena Easton's birthday today.   She was ubiquitous on MTV in the early 1980s, and it's somewhat alarming to contemplate that she's now 53 (and was born in 1959 less than a month before the Regular Guy).   Here's her biggest hit, which brings back memories, some of them marginally OK, most of them horrific to think of:

Growth and Policy

UPDATE:   It's hard to overestimate just how hard the liberals in the MSM will spin to make sure that Obama is re-elected.   Sometimes it gets humorous:

Hat tip:   Ace of Spades.


The U.S. growth rate slowed in 1Q 2012 to 2.2%.   Here's how the New York Times reported it, putting as much liberal-bias spin on it as they could muster and still remain marginally credible:

The economic output of the United States grew at an annual rate of 2.2 percent in the first quarter of the year, easing from the prior quarter’s growth rate of 3 percent but maintaining what many economists have started to call a “sustainable” pace of recovery.

Really?  Let's put that in perspective.   Here is the GDP growth rate in the first quarter of 1984, 1992, 1996, and 2004, the re-election years for Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton and George W. Bush:

8.0% (1984 - Reagan re-elected)

4.4% (1992 - Bush I not re-elected)

2.8% (1996 - Clinton re-elected)

2.7% (2004 - Bush II re-elected)

Reagan was presiding over a real boom after a long and deep recession, wholly attributable to his tax-cutting policies, and he was re-elected in a landslide.   Bush I was coming off a recession and a few quarters of very slow growth (under 2%), so the electorate (with the help of the MSM) didn't register his recovery and credit how robust it would become).   Yet he probably would have won, but for Ross Perot's third-party candidacy.  Clinton's growth rate in 2Q 1996 was over 7%, and he was re-elected against a very week candidate, Bob Dole, by a very significant margin.   Bush II was still in some of the after-glow of 9/11 and ran against a very week candidate, John Kerry, and growth beginning in 2Q 2003 after the Iraq War triumph had been very strong for three quarters, so people had the perception that the economy was moving in the right direction.

I don't think people have a positive perception that the economy is moving in the right direction, and there is no tangible evidence in employment or income statistics suggesting that Obama's economic performance has meant anything good to average Americans.   I think most Americans see slow growth and they tie it to his policies:  pro-government, pro-taxes, anti-business, anti-energy development, pro-union, especially public employee unions, pro-environmental regulations, all of which translates into Obama as the anti-job President.

In short, he's ripe for the picking.

Girl of the Day - Back to Blogging Version

Out of town on work this week, so I didn't get to blog much.   Getting back to it, I think it's good to make sure that I'm providing quality content for interested readers:


VDH Shoots... and Scores!

NHL playoffs metaphor there... Go Blues!

Victor Davis Hanson had a great article yesterday on NRO.   Here's the money quote:

If our students are burdened with oppressive loans, why do so many university rec centers look like five-star spas? Student cell phones and cars are indistinguishable from those of the faculty.

The underclass suffers more from obesity than malnutrition; our national epidemic is not unaffordable protein, but rather a surfeit of even cheaper sweets.

Flash mobbers target electronics stores for more junk, not bulk food warehouses in order to eat. America’s children do not suffer from lack of access to the Internet, but from wasting hours on video games and less-than-instructional websites. We have too many, not too few, television channels.

The problem is not that government workers are underpaid or scarce, but that so many of them seem to think mind readers, clowns, and prostitutes come with the job.

An average American with an average cell phone has more information at his fingertips than did a Goldman Sachs grandee 20 years ago. Over the last half-century, bizarre new words have entered the American vocabulary — triple-dipping, Botox, liposuction, jet set, COLA (cost of living adjustment), three-day weekend, Medi-something compounds (Medicare, Medicaid, Medi-Cal) — that do not reflect a deprived citizenry. In 1980, a knee or hip replacement was experimental surgery for the 1 percent; now it is a Medicare entitlement.

American poverty is not measured by absolute global standards of available food, shelter, and medical care, or by comparisons with prior generations, but by one American now having less stuff than another.

As America re-examines its military, entitlements, energy sources, and popular culture, it will learn that our “decline” is not due to material shortages, but rather arises from moral confusion over how to master, rather than being mastered by, the vast riches we have created.

Trayvon Redux - What is Racism?

When your kids are little, if you are a responsible parent, which most people are, you teach your children that judging other people by their race or by how they look is bad.   It is wrong to ascribe a particular quality to an individual simply because they are a member of a group.   Thus, it is wrong to assume that all Arab Muslims are terrorists, just as it is wrong to assume that all Jews are avaricious, just as it is wrong to assume that all Chinese are good at math, just as it is wrong to assume that all black Americans are criminals.   That is prejudice, because it is "pre-judging" an individual based on group characteristics.

But who are the racists in the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin affair?   If Zimmerman had been, as the media first suggested, a white person/Southern conservative who stalked a young black boy simply because he was black and murdered him simply because he was black or even who "profiled" him as a criminal simply because he was black, then, yes, that was racism.   He would have "prejudged" Trayvon.

But the stories that have come out since have thrown this narrative into the dustbin.   Zimmerman was not white, he was Hispanic, and now we have learned that he actually comes from a family with black ancestors and grew up in a home with black cousins.   Zimmerman was not a conservative; he was a liberal Democrat with strong Catholic social justice leanings, including doing a lot of volunteering in working for the poor, mentoring young black youths, etc.   In short.... narrative fail.  

So who were the real racists?   Hmmmm.... could it be the mainstream media and the race industry hucksters like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson?   Didn't they "pre-judge" Zimmerman solely because of how he looked?   Didn't they assume that because he was (they thought) white and from the South that he must be a racist murderer?   In abstract terms... didn't they attribute a malevolent quality to an individual based on his supposed membership in a group?   Isn't that the essence of racism?

We're reached an interesting moment in American history.   Liberals are reactionaries in terms of government, refusing to even consider any changes to the way we've operated the welfare state for the past fifty years.   And liberals are now the racists, because they see an incident involving a white man and a black man and they always assume that the black man is innocent and the white man is evil.   Facts be damned; defending the structure of the racialist narrative is all that matters.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Why the NFL Has a Problem

In case you wondered why NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell came down so hard on the New Orleans Saints and their practice of paying "bounties" to players who injured another team's stars, check out this headline:

Girl of the Day - Joan Leslie

I have occasion sometimes to look at World War II history and sometimes come upon a pinup of an actress I hadn't really registered before, at least not as a pinup.   Here's one -- Joan Leslie, whose short career was highlighted by playing good girls in early 1940s films like Sergeant York and Yankee Doodle Dandy, when she was 17 years old.   Given her age at the time, this sort of shot seems a little bit hinky, but what the hell... it was wartime.

Here she is, singing in the 1944 movie Hollywood Canteen:

If I Wanted America to Fail...

This is awesome.   Pass it on.  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Space, the Final Frontier

If by "final" you mean "the last time we ever tried anything great as a country."   Now, our future is Orwellian -- the daily grind of making, taxing, spending, consuming; the slow march to senescence for an aging population; a youth sated and stupefied by toys and virtual reality games.   Here's Charles Krauthammer on the demise of the space shuttle, the rise of Russian and Chinese space programs, and what it all means as symbol:

As the space shuttle Discovery flew three times around Washington, a final salute before landing at Dulles airport for retirement in a museum, thousands on the ground gazed upward with marvel and pride. Yet what they were witnessing, for all its elegance, was a funeral march.

The shuttle was being carried — its pallbearer, a 747 — because it cannot fly, nor will it ever again. It was being sent for interment. Above ground, to be sure. But just as surely embalmed as Lenin in Red Square.

Is there a better symbol of willed American decline? The pity is not Discovery’s retirement — beautiful as it was, the shuttle proved too expensive and risky to operate — but that it died without a successor. The planned follow-on — the Constellation rocket-capsule program to take humans back into orbit and from there to the moon — was suddenly canceled in 2010. And with that, control of manned spaceflight was gratuitously ceded to Russia and China.

Russia went for the cash, doubling its price for carrying an astronaut into orbit to $55.8 million. (Return included. Thank you, Boris.)

China goes for the glory. Having already mastered launch and rendezvous, the Chinese plan to land on the moon by 2025. They understand well the value of symbols. And nothing could better symbolize China overtaking America than its taking our place on the moon, walking over footprints first laid down, then casually abandoned, by us.

Who cares, you say? What is national greatness, scientific prestige or inspiring the young — legacies of NASA — when we are in economic distress? Okay. But if we’re talking jobs and growth, science and technology, R&D and innovation — what President Obama insists are the keys to “an economy built to last” — why on earth cancel an incomparably sophisticated, uniquely American technological enterprise?

I was ten when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.   The last time any human being walked on that nearest "planet" was Apollo 17 in December 1972 -- nearly forty years ago.   Imagine if you had asked any American in the early 1970s where the space program would be in forty years ago... would any of them have said defunct?

It's almost inexpressibly sad.   In the late 1940s the cry of the anti-Communists was "Who Lost China?"  

What I want to know is.... who lost Space?

Birthday Today - Jack Nicholson

Jack Nicholson turns 75 today.   When you look back at his career, he seems oddly like an old-fashioned movie star, in that he has rarely played characters that weren't simply versions of himself.   He's like Jimmy Stewart or Cary Grant or Gary Cooper in that way... they simply were themselves on screen.   But, because they had bigger personalities than the rest of us, they became stars.   Back when I was a pretentious youth -- it's unclear to me when that period ended, if it ever did -- I remember watching Five Easy Pieces, one of Nicholson's early great movies.   I can't help thinking that this scene captures the essential Nicholson, and that he never really did much of anything too different after this.

HBO's Campaign Commercials

The new comedy with Julia Louis-Dreyfus on HBO called Veep ostensibly treats the usually absurd job of a Vice-President in a bi-partisan fashion.   At least this is the premise of a review on NRO by Jim Geraghty, so I'll take that on authority.   But is it really so non-partisan?  Consider: this is the same network that offered Game Change a few months ago, a blisteringly critical portrait of Sarah Palin.   Now they give us a comedy series about a ditzy female Vice-President?    Hmmmm....

Remember, a year or more ago -- when these series would have had to be greenlighted for production planning, stars would have had to be contacted and brought under contract, use of locations would have had to be arranged, sets would have had to be designed, etc. -- Sarah Palin was a likely Presidential nominee for the Republicans.   I don't think it's beyond the realm of possibility that HBO decided that political movies and TV shows featuring Palin-like figures (either Palin herself in a docudrama or a parody of Palin in a fictional comedy) would get good ratings.  

I also don't think it's beyond the realm of possibility that HBO consciously planned to make a huge, under-the-table, in-kind contribution to the Obama '12 campaign by presenting shows that inevitably would serve as negative advertising against a GOP ticket headed by Palin.   That's how the MSM works.  

Friday, April 20, 2012

Girl of the Day - Too Busy to Blog Edition

The Regular Guy has been too busy to blog this week, so it's a good thing that not much is happening in the election -- other than debates about who ate whose dog.   Meanwhile, as Mark Steyn would say, the twin icebergs of insolvency and Islamism loom, and the arrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic becomes of less and less importance.   So, as we hurtle toward Armageddon,we might as well enjoy ourselves.  Not quite sure who this big girl is, but, man, can she sing:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

On Polling

The New York Times and CBS -- no right-wingers, they -- have a new poll out showing that Obama and Romney are tied at 46-46.   A few points to remember on polling going forward:

1.  Always look for polls of "likely" voters.   Republican voters tend to be more settled in life and more affluent, which means they are marginally more likely to vote than Democratic voters (who tend to skew slightly younger and more transient).   So a poll of registered voters will tend to marginally favor the Democratic candidate.   This poll was a poll of 862 registered voters, so I think Romney would have been slightly ahead among likely voters.

2. Always look for the underlying split between Democratic and Republican responses.   If the poll shows that it polled a signifcantly higher number of Democrats than Republicans, that means that they probably are undercounting Republicans, as the division ought to be close to 50-50, with perhaps only a slight advantage to Democrats.  In this poll, they don't provide the underlying data, so you can't tell.... another warning sign.

3. Always remember... undecided voters tend not to vote for the incumbent.   If you're still undecided about Obama after he's been in the public eye for four years and President for three plus years, you're not going to vote for him.  Undecided votes break late for the challenger.

4. If you're the President and you can't get more than 50% at this stage, you probably aren't going to win.

This is another way of saying... don't be confused by polls showing Obama marginally ahead or tied.   They know they are in trouble, and they are going to be desperate throughout the summer... expect talk about race and the "war on women" and the "Buffett rule" and the 1% to increase.   I'd also expect some "planned chaos" over the summer, including demonstrations that "spontaneously" get out of control and turn semi-violent.  

Girl of the Day - Maria Bello

Maria Bello has made a career playing tough gals in gritty noir dramas, including Payback, A History of Violence (an underrated crime thriller directed by David Cronenberg for which she got nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress) and the recent TV show, Prime Suspect (where she Americanizes the character played in England by Helen Mirren).   She turns 45 today.

Peripheral Scandals and the Central Problem of Big Government

There are a score of scandals that have percolated around the periphery of the Obama Administration.   The two biggest, of course, are under the umbrella of Solyndra and the "pay-for-play" aspect of the administration funnelling "loans" and "grants" to green energy companies that just happened to have connections to large Obama donors; and Fast and Furious and the scandal of trying to run guns to Mexican drug cartels as a way of creating a propaganda opportunity to argue for more gun control, with the resulting death of at least one American agent and dozens, if not hundreds, of Mexicans.  

Now, two more scandals are getting a lot of press.   The first involves a million-dollar party the General Services Administration threw for some of its employees in Las Vegas.   The pure waste is shocking, particularly when liberals argue for more and more taxes to fund more and more government "programs."  

The second involves a sex scandal among Secret Service agents serving the President in Cartagena, Colombia in advance of his trip there this week.    Again, the image of men on the taxpayers' dime seeking prostitutes is shocking.

Should such scandals tar the President?   Can a President really be held responsible for the actions of men and women at the periphery of his government?

No and Yes.

No... the President is presiding over a federal government with several million employees, thousands of offices, thousands of functions.   He can't be expected to know about or be responsible for the conduct of all of them.   To imagine that he could be is ridiculous.

On the other hand, this particular President is openly the President of Big Government.   And the problem with Big Government is that it's.... well, big.  

When you have an absolute incapacity to monitor the behavior of your employees because of the sheer size of the organization, there is an argument to be made that the organization is simply too big.  

I think that's the lesson to be learned from these peripheral scandals.  

Let's Call the Whole Thing Off

Great Britain has been America's staunchest ally for, what, a hundred and fifty years?   They have certainly been our staunchest ally in the War on Terrorism.   British soldiers have fought and died in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

So, does it matter that the President, in speaking at a summit in Colombia this week supposedly dealing with issues affecting South America, spoke of the "Maldives Islands"?   Well, yes, in two ways.

First, dummy, the Maldives Islands are in the Indian Ocean, on the other side of the world.   Here they are, Mr. President, in case you needed a map:

What he meant to say, of course, was the Malvinas Islands, which are off the coast of Argentina, and which, of course, were in dispute in the Falklands War in the early 1980s.    Here they are:

But, here's the rub... the Brits don't call the Malvinas by that name.   That's what the Argentines call it.   The Brits call them the "Falklands.   And they have a right to, because the islands are claimed by (and have long been occupied by) British citizens.

So when Obama called them the Maldives, it was a double gaffe.  First, because he got the name wrong.   (Can you imagine if Bush... oh, hell, aren't you tired of calling attention to the double standard?)  

And, second, because he needlessly insulted our best ally.

But, then, needlessly insulting allies (Great Britain, Israel, Poland, etc.) is apparently what this President does best.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Girl of the Day - Jennifer Garner

Seems like a nice person, too.   And Ben Affleck is no dummy... he's turned into a helluva director, especially in Gone Baby Gone.   (I liked The Town too, but Gone Baby Gone was great, and Affleck's brother, Casey, was great in it.)

Oh, and she turned 40 today.... how did that happen?

Irony Abounds

Yesterday was Emancipation Day, celebrating the freeing of the slaves.

Today is Tax Day, celebrating the re-enslaving of Americans to a never-sated Leviathan government. 

I'm just sayin'.   We get testy here at the Regular Guy's house when we have to write checks of a certain size.  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Girl of the Day - Claire Danes

With Mad Men back on, we have good TV for at least a couple more months.   Then... who knows?   All I know is that the fall of 2012 will be packed with Dexter, Treme, Boardwalk Empire, and the wonderful Homeland, starring Claire Danes in the best performance of the year. 

A Quick and Dirty Post About Obama's Strategery II

Here's what I wrote yesterday:

Don't be confused when the Obama campaign talks about a "war on women."   They're not talking about married women, or middle-aged women, or elderly women.   They are talking about 18-29 year old unmarried women who, I think it's fair to say, will be (like 18-29 year old men) among the most liberal and least informed voters.   How do they get them to the polls?   They scare them into thinking evil Republicans and meanie Catholics are going to take away their birth control.  It's an utterly cynical move...
Now today we get Hilary Rosen, a DNC operative and frequent visitor at the White House, going on TV saying that Ann Romney has never held a real job and doesn't know what real women worry about.   Ms. Rosen has already been thrown under the bus by the Obama campaign as a "rogue" who spoke out of turn in an "offensive" way that does not reflect what the Obama campaign actually feels about stay-at-home moms.

Don't.   You.   Believe.   It.   This was a completely calculated move designed to neutralize a huge asset for the Romney campaign, his very likable wife (mother of five, cancer and MS survivor, beautiful, gracious, etc.).   It also fits in with what I said above, namely, that part of Obama's campaign strategy is trying to move 18-29 year old unmarried women a few percentage points.   Does he think that relatively poor, relatively struggling young women who don't have a husband might resent a little Ann Romney's cheery lifestyle as the wife of a multi-millionaire who could afford to stay home with five children?   You bet he does.  

This is not a gaffe.   It's a trial balloon.   Not by accident, last week Obama himself said the following on the campaign trail:
"And once Michelle and I had our girls, she gave it her all to balance raising a family and pursuing a career--and something that could be very difficult on her, because I was gone a lot.  Once I was in the state legislature, I was teaching, I was practicing law, I'd be traveling. And we didn't have the luxury for her not to work..."

Is the Obama campaign conscioiusly trying to contrast Michelle Obama as "working mother" with Ann Romney as "lady of leisure"?   Sure they are.   That's how they think.


Oh, and by the way, as a lawyer whose wife stayed at home while I pursued a career that I sort of like and sort of don't like some of the time in order to make the money we need to support ourselves, Obama's lament that "we didn't have the luxury for her not to work" is risible.   He was a Harvard Law School graduate, magna cum laude, editor of the law review.   By the time he had children in 1998 he was already a lecturer at the University of Chicago and had already published his equally risible Dreams From My Father.   He could have walked into any Chicago law firm at any time and commanded an income that would have easily supported a young family.   That he was black was a bonus:  part of the reason why he could "afford" to pursue politics was always because he knew that, given the leverage his race gave him in the affirmative action culture of Big Law, he could always make money whenever he wanted to.   But that's beside the point, really.... the point is that lots of men, real men, make sacrifices, including giving up their ambitions to take a job, in order to support their families and permit their wives to stay home with their children.   That Obama chose not to make that sacrifice simply points out, once again, his selfishness.    

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Quick and Dirty Post About Obama's Strategery

As I was telling the Regular Son recently, the Obama campaign's strategy is pretty transparently demagogic.   They are trying to engage the emotions of very specific constitutencies they hope to move to turn out to vote for them in the fall.   These constituencies include:  blacks, the elderly, and young unmarried women.   Their tactics are precisely calibrated to gin up the anger and/or fear of these groups:

Blacks.   Latching onto the Trayvon Martin case and pumping it into a national racial hysteria is a calculated move to try to move the needle on black turnout back toward where it was in 2008 (and to distract the black community from Obama's dismal record on jobs for blacks, especially black teenagers).

The elderly.   Demonizing Paul Ryan's budget as an attack on Medicare is calculated to drive a small percentage (and this is the point... they only need to move a small percentage in a 50-50 country) of the elderly to vote for Obama out of fear that their Medicare will be taken away.

Young unmarried women.   Don't be confused when the Obama campaign talks about a "war on women."   They're not talking about married women, or middle-aged women, or elderly women.   They are talking about 18-29 year old unmarried women who, I think it's fair to say, will be (like 18-29 year old men) among the most liberal and least informed voters.   How do they get them to the polls?   They scare them into thinking evil Republicans and meanie Catholics are going to take away their birth control.  It's an utterly cynical move, because the Democrats are completely confident that most 18-29 year olds know next to nothing about religious freedom, and next to nothing about how much good Catholic hospitals and charities and missions do across the country and around the world.   So they can be gulled into thinking that opposing the HHS mandate on birth control for religious employers is the same as wanting to take away their right to walk down to Walgreen's and buy a month's worth of pills for $9.   

As noted, the Obama campaign is cynically (but smartly) thinking that, in a country where a Democratic candidate will get 45 percent just by virtue of not being Republican, they only need to move a few million people to their side to win.   That they are targeting the poorest, the most fragile, and the most gullible simply speaks to their ruthlessness.

Girl of the Day - Old Reliable IV

Lots of actual legal work today, so not much blogging.   Oh, and it's also sunny outside and Spring Break.   So this may be the only blog post of the day.... better make it a good one.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rick Santorum Suspends Campaign

Rick Santorum just announced that he will be suspending his campaign for the Republican nomination for President.   This comes at a time when his youngest daughter, Bella, is battling serious health problems, and I suspected that, over the Easter weekend, his family would prayerfully consider what his best course would be.   A good man whose frankly Catholic values shone through his campaign.   He will be missed but, I hope, not for long.   He deserves a future in the Republican Party.  

General Order Number 9

On April 10, 1865, General Robert E. Lee issued his last general order, General Order No. 9, to his troops, upon the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Courthouse:

Hd Qurs Army Northern Virginia
10th April 1865
General Order
No 9

After four years of arduous service, marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources.

I need not tell the brave survivors of so many hard fought battles who have remained steadfast to the last, that I have consented to this result from no distrust of them, But feeling that valor and devotion could accomplish nothing that could compensate for the loss that would have attended the continuance of the contest, I determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen.

By the terms of the agreement, Officers and men can return to their homes and remain until exchanged. You will take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from the consciousness of duty faithfully performed and I earnestly pray that a merciful God will extend to you His blessing and protection.

With an unceasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous consideration of myself, I bid you all an affectionate farewell.

R E Lee

A quality of mind and temperament we do not often see in our leaders today.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Girl of the Day - Mireille Enos

We've started watching AMC's The Killing, a murder mystery set in Seattle with the lead detective played by Mireille Enos.   She's very good in the show, and the show itself looks to be very good.   We're playing catch up so we can watch the rest of the second season, which just started.

Here she is in the show.  

It's always interesting to me that some actresses are dolled up on TV and look frumpy when they're not on TV, and others are "dolled down" to look frumpy for their roles, and are actually beautiful.   Enos falls into the latter category, methinks.

The Buffett Rule

Expect to hear the mantra over the next few months of the Presidential campaign that the budget deficit could be fixed if only the Republicans would let us tax the very rich through Obama's proposal of the "Buffett rule," which would put a minimum tax on the very wealthy (incomes over $1 million) of 30%, even where the income takes the form of interest income or capital gains income, which have historically been taxed at lower rates.   This is the politics of envy, and it's all the Obama campaign has.

Putting aside, however, the notion that somehow it's "fair" that American citizens, who have likely already been taxed at punitively high rates in making the money that formed their wealth, now should be taxed again at punitively high rates when that previously-taxed money earns interest (and then again taxed, a third time, when they die)... it is risible to suggest that the Buffett Rule, if implemented, would impact the budget deficit in any meaningful way.   Indeed, with a ten-year budget close to $50 trillion dollars, the impact of the Buffett Rule, estimated to be $50 billion over ten years (or about $5 billion a year), is approximately 0.1% of the Obama Administration's budgeted spending, at a time when we are projecting deficits running to 30-40% of our annual revenue.   Not to be too obvious... THAT'S WELL-WITHIN THE MARGIN OF ERROR OF HOW ACCURATELY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CAN EVEN CALCULATE WHAT ITS REVENUE AND SPENDING ARE IN ANY GIVEN YEAR!  

In other words, the Buffett Rule's $5 billion a year is less than the amount of money the federal government simply loses track of in any given year.   It's peanuts, it has no meaningful effect on the budget deficit, and for Obama to claim that it would have an effect is the basest kind of demogoguery.

To put all that in a visual aid:

Photo of the Year - A Little Pic I Like to Call "Hypocrisy in Action"

Here's a photo of the staff of the Obama campaign taken at his Chicago headquarters:

Notice anything?   They're very young.   They aren't dressed in business attire.   They are, in short, young people who may or may not be employable.   And yet they are the "staff" of a campaign for a President who wants to basically run our lives.   Sheesh!  How many STEM majors do you think there are in this crowd?   I'll bet the ratio of English majors to STEM majors is significantly greater than one.   You wouldn't hire these people to run your local Kinko's, but they want to rule the world.

As the great poet John Keats wrote at the end of his "Ode on a Grecian Urn, "that is all you know... and all you need to know."  


And... how many of these youngsters are still on their parents' health insurance?


Oh, and by the way... every single last one of them is white.   If this was a campaign picture for Mitt Romney, the MSM would be all over that like... well, like white on rice.   And this from the party that likes to lecture the rest of us about diversity.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Unemployment to Population -- All You Need to Know.

The March unemployment rate dropped marginally today, from 8.3% to 8.2%, even though only 120,000 new jobs were created, not enough to keep up with population growth.   So what gives?   Well, as you might expect, the reason for the drop is solely due to people leaving the work force.  

As I've said before, forget about the nominal unemployment rate.   That rate is wholly dependent on the denominator you choose -- in that case, the number of people who are actually choosing to be in the work force, i.e., who either are employed or unemployed and actively looking for work.   What really matters is the ratio of employed people to all people.   And that isn't improving much at all, as the following graph shows:

That graph is all you need to know.  

Obama has to go.  

It's Opening Day in Milwaukee!

And the Cardinals are in town.  When last the teams met here in Milwaukee, well, sorry, Brewers fans...

Girl of the Day - Old Reliable III

Still at a loss for girls of the day.   Nothing... I got nothing.

On the other hand.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Krauthammer Makes My Day

Here's Charles Krauthammer commenting on Obama's diatribe against the Supreme Court in which he said  ruling against Obamacare would be "unprecedented":

In his next-day walk back, the president implied that he was merely talking about the normal “restraint and deference” the courts owe the legislative branch. This concern would be touching if it weren’t coming from the leader of a party so deeply devoted to the ultimate judicial usurpation — Roe v. Wade, which struck down the abortion laws of 46 states — that fealty to it is the party’s litmus test for service on the Supreme Court.

Makes my day.  

Girl of the Day - Old Reliable II

I'm still stuck.   Day after day after day... after awhile the swimsuit models and the young actresses all look the same.  

Then again.

Romney v. Obama

The GOP primary is effectively over.   Let's sum up what kind of candidate we've nominated:

1.  Conservatives have always pined for someone who is not "inside the Beltway."   Check.  Romney has never served in Washington.

2. Conservatives have always pined for a candidate who had "executive experience."   Check.   Romney's governmental service is as a governor.

3.  Conservatives have always pined for a candidate who has "business experience."   Double check.   Putting aside the fact that his father was a business executive and Governor of Michigan, and that undoubtedly opened some doors for Mitt early on, that doesn't account for his extraordinary success in business.   As a man who made himself a couple of hundred million dollars, Romney will easily be the greatest business success ever to run for President.   And it was success at the highest level -- running companies.  

4.  Conservatives ca. 2012 want someone who will stand behind the Ryan budget, which is now the de facto Republican platform.   Check.   That Ryan recently endorsed him, and that Ryan could end up the VP, only makes Romney's support of the Ryan budget more credible.

5.   Conservatives want someone who will be a strong leader on foreign policy.    Check, albeit in a more minor key.   Romney certainly has said the right things of late, particularly in lambasting Obama for his "I can be more flexible after the election" aside to the Russian President.

6. Conservatives want someone who will be a strong leader on moral or "family" issues.   Check, albeit again in a minor key.   Romney isn't the greatest pro-Life advocate, and he certainly wobbled while he was running for office in Massachusetts.   But I actually think he had the reverse hypocrisy from what we usually see on this issue -- when he was running in liberal Massachusetts he had to pretend to be pro-choice, when he was really pro-Life.   And, more generally, I've never met a Mormon yet who wasn't arch-conservative on family issues.   So I guess I'd trust Romney more than I'd trust most people (although not as much as I would trust Santorum, who's a real-deal Catholic). 

7.  Conservatives want someone who will repeal Obamacare.   Check... although here I admit that Romney is least well-suited to make this case due to Romneycare in Massachusetts.   But, on the other hand, it may be that a lot of independents actually want some level of government to assure that the uninsured can get coverage, and Romney can make the case that it ought to be done on the state level, and not nationalized.  

A final point:   we always have to remember that Reagan wasn't Reagan when we nominated him.   He was an ex-actor who had been governor of California a decade earlier.   George W. Bush wasn't George W. Bush when we nominated him.   He was viewed as a weak candidate who won the nomination largely because his father had been President.   No one knew that Reagan would win the Cold War; no one knew that Dubya would be a great leader during the War on Terrorism.   So if you ask me "will Romney be a great President?" I can't tell you.   But, as a candidate, he looks significantly better to my eye than Dole in '96, Bush in '00 or McCain in '08.  

Lance Berkman, Curmudgeon With a Future

Lance Berkman, the Cardinals' first baseman, was a bit curmudgeonly about the Miami Marlins' new park last night, after the Cards' opening day, 4-1 victory:

I don't know whether he's right about the Marlin's new stadium, but a guy with strong opinions and a way with words probably has a bright future in broadcasting at some point.   Hopefully after he hits 35 jacks for the Cards this year.   

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Liberals and the Easter Bunny

What must it be like to be a liberal?

You still believe in global warming, despite mounting evidence that it was a sham theory supported by sham science in order to get grants and advance careers.

You still believe in socialism, despite a century's evidence of its inability to create wealth in any of the societies in which it was tried.

You still believe that public employee union members are selfless public servants, despite the evidence that they have lined their pockets with benefits that far surpass what average citizens can hope to earn working in the private sector.

You still believe that public school administrators are tirelessly working for the good of "the children," instead of tirelessly working for their own career advancement and salary and benefit packages.

You still believe that Medicare and Social Security can be saved with a little tinkering.

You still believe that the budget can be balanced if we'd just tax the "rich."

You still believe that racism causes poverty among American blacks, despite the extraordinary correlation in the literature between poverty and single-parent families.

You still believe that pro-Life conservatives are Neanderthals in believing that infants in the womb are people, despite the evidence of your own eyes when you look at ultrasounds of babies, and despite the horrific evidence of child murder (and particularly girl-child murder) in China and India.   To you, abortion on demand is a "women's rights" issue, while you remain silent about the tens or perhaps hundreds of millions of missing girls around the world.   Didn't those female human beings have rights too?

You still believe that Catholics are medieval in criticizing the birth-control regime in Western societies since the advent of the Pill in the early 1960s, despite the developing disaster that is the demographic suicide of the West in countries like Italy and Spain and Greece where too few young people are expected to support too few old people.

You still believe that the American military is a force for evil in the world, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

You still believe that Palestinian Arabs are an oppressed minority, while Israeli Jews are jackbooted thugs, despite all of the evidence to the contrary.  

You still believe that Obama is brilliant, despite gaffe after gaffe in which he displays gaping holes in his knowledge of basic historical facts (including yesterday, when the supposed constitutional law professor misstated the facts and importance of the 1905 case Lochner v. New York).

It must be very, very hard to believe so many things that are so easily disproven.   Ever wonder why liberals are always so angry at conservatives?   It's the anger of children when their elders confront them with facts.    No, no, no, they stamp their feet.   The Easter Bunny does exist!   He brings us candy!

This is How to Do Political Advertising

This ad from the Republican National Committee is effective because it presents in an easily digestible form a central truth about President Obama:

He's a fake.   He's a guy who reads teleprompters, but doesn't know what he's saying.   And he's remarkably condescending while he's doing it.

In other words, he's full of shit.  

Opening Day Thought

A beautiful sentiment from the Red Baron over at Viva El Birdos:

I've said before I always think of baseball differently from most of the other sports; that I think of baseball as a companion and a friend more than an event. A baseball game holds the same expected pleasure as meeting your oldest friend for a drink after work. It's not unusual, and it probably won't be life-changing. And yet it's that very quality, that expectedness and smallness, that works its way into your life and makes this game a part of you. Familiarity only breeds contempt when there's no love to keep it special.

The small moments are always the best; it's why baseball is the sport most like life. A great marriage isn't a beautiful, elegant, and oh-so expensive wedding; a great marriage is heating up a can of soup for dinner on a Thursday night and enjoying it because you have someone special to share it with. For six months of the year there's always a baseball game on the radio in the car, or on the television while you're eating that can of soup. Good times and bad. You can always find a game.

Trayvon and "Experts" Redux

I wrote a couple of days ago about the problematic opinions of experts contacted by the MSM to analyze the audio tapes of 911 calls surrounding the Trayvon Martin killing in Sanford, Florida.   Now we get this:

Enhanced video footage of George Zimmerman about 30 minutes after he shot Florida teenager Trayvon Martin shows little evidence of a broken nose, the president of the Florida College of Emergency Physicians said today.... "All of the ridges in his nose are clearly defined. You would expect significant swelling in the hour or two after a break. There appears to be none. It doesn't look like his nose was broken or badly broken," [Dr. Vidor] Friedman said.

Hmmmm.... here's how the cross-examination of this expert would go:

ANY COMPETENT ATTORNEY: Dr. Friedman, you never had the opportunity to examine Zimmerman, did you?
ACA:  You've never even been in the same room with him, have you?
ACA: And it's true, isn't it, that medical ethics would require you to actually examine Zimmerman before you made a diagnosis?
NVGWD: Yes, that's true.
ACA:  So your opinion, to the extent that it's a diagnosis of Zimmerman's injury, would be unethical?
NVGWD:  I guess you could look at it that way.
ACA:  In any case, you would agree, wouldn't you, that the diagnoses of the doctor who actually examined Zimmerman the night of the shooting would be more well-grounded than yours as a matter of medical ethics?  
NVGWD:  I guess so.
ACA:  And you would defer to those diagnoses, wouldn't you?
NVGWD:  Yes.
ACA: If a competent doctor after performing a proper examination concluded that Zimmerman's nose had been broken, you wouldn't be in a position to disagree, would you?
ACA:   No further questions.

Time to Go, Rick

My French is bad, but my prognostication is good.   Here's what I said two weeks ago:

Santorum will win Louisiana, and Gingrich will get out, but Romney will start picking up endorsements, including, I expect, from three of the following four men:  Paul Ryan, Scott Walker, Tommy Thompson and Ron Johnson.   And then Romney will win Wisconsin convincingly and the pressure will be on for Santorum to bow out.   He may limp along to Pennsylvania, win his home state on April 24th (and nothing else), and then get out with a ringing final speech that will set him up for a future in the party.  

I was all over this -- except for the part about Gingrich formally getting out; he's informally thrown in the towel, and no one is paying him any attention anymore.   I called the Ryan and Johnson endorsements, which were probably in the bag for Romney weeks or months ago, and were trotted out over the weekend for maximum exposure before the primary.   And I called Romney winning Wisconsin convincingly -- as it turned out, he won by seven points, after Waukesha County came in late last night.

So, here's the rub.... I think it is very important for the GOP for Santorum to bow out sooner rather than later.   If he hangs on through Pennsylvania on April 24, he might win there (at this point I don't think so), but he won't win anywhere else that day.   But, then -- and here's the tempation he has to avoid -- the calendar gets better for him in May, and he could actually string together victories in the South (NC, Arkansas, Kentucky, WV, Texas) and Midwest (Indiana, Nebraska).   But those victories would not get him any closer to the nomination, because Romney's delegate lead is insurmountable at this point.   So all it would do would be to weaken Romney, and waste two more months of his time when he could be focusing on Obama.

I like Santorum.  I voted for him yesterday here in Wisconsin.   He ran a great campaign, and it has to be frustrating for him to think that he came within three points in Michigan, and one point in Ohio, at points in the campaign where he might have gotten over the hump with a victory.  

But it's time to go.  

Girl of the Day - Old Reliable

No good birthday girls today.   No TV shows on last night.   No movies I've seen lately.   What to do, what to do, what to do?

There's always old reliable.

April 4

On today's date, Ignatius Loyala became the first leader of the Jesuits in 1541.   I doubt whether he could have predicted that the Regular Son would someday be attending a Jesuit high school in a place called Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Cardinals Tonight!

The Cardinals are opening their season tonight in a nationally-televised game in the Miami Marlins' new stadium.   I can't remember being this excited about a new season.   Will Mike Matheny be able to replace Tony LaRussa?   Can the Cardinals possibly replace the production of first baseman Albert Pujols?   Can David Freese replicate his World Series heroics over the course of a full season?   Will Matheny find time for two high-upside youngsters, Allen Craig and Tyler Greene?   Will the old men of the team, Carlos Beltran and Lance Berkman, hold together to give the Cards some of what Pujols leaving took away?   Will Adam Wainwright be, well, Adam Wainwright after his arm surgery?   Will Matt Holliday step out of Pujols' shadow to become the new "Man" in St. Louis?   Will the young bullpen arms -- Motte and Salas -- solidify the 8th and 9th innings for the Redbirds?  

Bold prediction:  the Cardinals won 90 games last year.   I think they have a chance to be better than that this year, particularly with Wainwright's return and full years from Freese, Craig, Greene and shortstop Rafael Furcal.   I say the Cards go 94-68, and win the Central by six games over the Brewers and/or Reds.   Freese and Craig both hit 20-25 HRs, Wainwright wins the Cy Young, and Mike Matheny wins Manager of the Year.  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Wisconsin Tonight!

The exclamation point above is facetious.  There's not much drama, and there was low turnout at my polling place in suburban Milwaukee.   I expect a ho-hum Romney victory by 8-10 points, and that they will call it early.

One weird note:  a partner of mine whom I know to be a very liberal Democrat, voted today for Santorum purely in an "Operation Chaos" move to keep the Republican primary season going.

Trayvon Update - Narrative Fail!

The narrative the MSM pushed about the Trayvon Martin shooting, aided and abetted by the usual suspects like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, went something like this:

1.  White man (and hence presumed Republican)
2.   Who weighed 240 pounds...
3.   Shot a young black boy...
4.   Who weighed 140 pounds or less...
5.  Solely because he was black, i.e., because the white man was a racist.

We now know, of course, that George Zimmerman was a 5'9" Hispanic Democrat who weighed about 170 pounds; that Trayvon Martin was 6'2" and weighed (according to police reports) 160 pounds.   But here's a part of the story that puts the lie to the "racism" charge.   This is from a letter written to the local NAACP chapter by a "concerned Zimmerman family member":

You will recall the incident of the beating of the black homeless man Sherman Ware on December 4, 2010 by the son of a Sanford police officer. The beating sparked outrage in the community but there were very few that stepped up to do anything about it. I would presume the inaction was because of the fact that he was homeless not because he was black. Do you know the individual who stepped up when no one else in the black community would? Do you know who spent tireless hours putting flyers on the cars of persons parked in the churches of the black community? Do you know who waited for the church-goers to get out of church so that he could hand them flyers in an attempt to organize the black community against this horrible miscarriage of justice? Do you know who helped organize the City Hall meeting on January 8, 2011 at Sanford City Hall?? That person was GEORGE ZIMMERMAN.

Again, this was a tragic incident about which we still do not know all the facts.   But the one fact we do know is that the mainstream media has been H-O-R-R-I-B-L-E throughout.  

Girl of the (Doris) Day

Doris Day turns 88 today.   Day was ubiquitous when I was growing up... in movies of the early 1960s like Pillow Talk or Lover Come Back she was the good girl next door whom the bad-boy hero ultimately married... sort of a taller, more buxom version of Reese Witherspoon.   None of it was real, of course... the hero she usually married was Rock Hudson, who we later famously learned was Hollywood's gayest star, while Day herself at the time was on her third of four marriages.   But she was the biggest box office star in Hollywood playing what wags of the time termed "the world's oldest virgin."  

I wonder how those movies would look after watching five seasons of Mad Men?   Probably pretty strange.  

One More Day...

... until Cardinals baseball starts.   I.   Can't.   Wait.    But here's a little morsel to tide us over:

Monday, April 2, 2012

Girl of the Day Redux - January Jones (Not Fat... PHAT!)

Having featured Fat Betty twice today, I thought I'd better remind everyone that January Jones is actually pretty scrumptious:

Not as scrumptious as the Regular Wife, but then who is?   :)

Trayvon Update II - More Media Incompetence

From the beginning of this story, the picture in everyone's head has been of a man weighing 240 pounds killing a little boy who weighed a hundred pounds less.   Here's a paragraph from a story just last week published in the New York Times, by Charles Blow, an African-American columnist:

He was a gangly boy, all arms and legs but little weight, nearly six feet three inches tall but only 140 pounds and with the cherubic face of a boy years younger.... To believe Zimmerman’s [self-defense] scenario, you have to believe that Trayvon, an unarmed boy, a boy so thin that people called him Slimm, a boy whose mother said that he had not had a fight since he was a preschooler, chose that night and that man to attack. You have to believe that Trayvon chose to attack a man who outweighed him by 100 pounds...

The pictures the media selected to use with the story emphasized this disparity:

Yesterday's New York Times -- the same paper -- presents a different set of facts:

However it started, witnesses described to the 911 dispatcher what resulted: the neighborhood watch coordinator, 5 foot 9 and 170 pounds, and the visitor, 6 foot 1 and 150, wrestling on the ground.

Hmmmm.... a 150 lb. seventeen year-old who's over six foot tall and a 170 lb. 28 year-old who's maybe a little chubby.   That sounds familiar... I can tell you that the Regular Son is 6' and weighs about 135 soaking wet, while I am 5'6" and weigh about 170.    He is in very good shape, long and lean and tough as nails.   At 52, I wouldn't want to mess with him, and he's smaller and younger than Trayvon.  

That's a little different story, isn't it?  Makes me wonder what Charles Blow knew and when he knew it.   I wonder if the NYT's ombudsman would want to look into that.   

So, a question for the New York Times, the supposed "paper of record"... we can all be sympathetic with the victim and his family without simply lying about the facts of the story, can't we?

None of this, again, means that Zimmerman was justified in what he did.  

I.   Don't.   Know.   The.   Facts.     

Trayvon Martin Update - The Problem With "Experts"

The latest on the Trayvon Martin case -- which I predict will someday be a case study in journalism schools about "what not to do if you don't want to foment race riots" -- comes from the Orlando Sentinel, which apparently engaged two "audio experts" to analyze recordings of the screams on the 911 calls to determine whether it was George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain, or Trayvon Martin, the victim of the shooting, who screamed for help:

Audio experts Tom Owen and Ed Primeau, who analyzed the recordings for the Orlando Sentinel using different techniques, said they don't believe it's Zimmerman who can be heard screaming in the background of the 911 calls.

"There's a huge chance that this is not Zimmerman's voice," said Primeau, a longtime audio engineer who is listed as an expert in recorded evidence by the American College of Forensic Examiners International. "As a matter of fact, after 28 years of doing this, I would put my reputation on the line and say this is not George Zimmerman screaming."

Owen, a forensic audio analyst who is also chairman emeritus of the American Board of Recorded Evidence, said he also does not believe the screams come from Zimmerman.
Software frequently used to analyze voices in legal cases shows a 48% likelihood that the voice is Zimmerman's. At least 60% is necessary to feel confident that two samples are from the same source, he said Monday on CNN. That means it's unlikely the screams came from Zimmerman, Owen said.
The experts, both of whom say they have testified in cases involving audio analysis, stressed they cannot say who was screaming. They have no samples of Martin's voice.

The last two sentences are the key.   The newspaper, if it was doing journalism and not simply advocating for Zimmerman's arrest (or, more likely, giving the newspaper-public what it wants, which is a sensational story that keeps on giving), would have filed this information after concluding that there was no news here.   The question at issue is:  who was screaming?   The so-called "experts" conclude that... "they cannot say."   We know it had to be Martin or Zimmerman.   They conclude that there is a chance that it isn't Zimmerman.   What do we know after reading this article that we didn't know before?  

Beyond that, as a lawyer I have to tell you that these kind of "experts" make me sick.   Any plaintiff's lawyer can find an "expert" who will say whatever they want him to say.  They will all have slick resumes with lots of nice-sounding credentials... they've been President of this association, or have won this or that award.   And they all are dying to get their names in the paper with word "expert" prominently highlighted -- that's how they make their living, after all, and being quoted in the newspaper is free advertising.   But then you cross-examine them and you find out that their methods are shoddy and their logic is full of holes and they didn't consider X, and they didn't think of Y.   And, oftentimes, you can use their own profession's published standards to eviscerate them on cross.

In this case, for instance, the "American Board of Recorded Evidence" publishes a standard for making comparisons of two recordings to determine whether they are made by the same person's voice.   Even the most casual review of this standard shows that, if the "experts" were applying their own profession's standard, the only conclusion they could draw would be that the recordings are "inconclusive."  

That being the case, what's the news?  

Mad Men Thoughts

TV shows that I end up liking tend to be the shows that surprise me, that show me something new about people that I didn't expect.   Dexter this season, to me anyway, got predictable... it didn't surprise me anymore, and that's why the season was drab.   Justified this year has also been pretty predictable, although I expected a drop off after last year's great season.   Sons of Anarchy got a little predictable this year.   Breaking Bad is perhaps the best thing on TV because it always always always surprises me.   Homeland's first season was so good because it was so full of surprising twists -- things about the characters you wouldn't have expected.  

Mad Men is maybe the second best thing on TV (behind only Breaking Bad) precisely because it's always surprising.   Last night's second episode of the new season had a series of moments that I thought were takes on the characters that I never would have expected:

1.  First, obviously, there was "Fat Betty" -- January Jones in a fat suit to play Betty Francie (formerly Betty Draper) becoming a middle-aged housewife with a weight problem.   I never would have expected it.   Jones, after all, is spectacularly beautiful.   But that's the point... what happens when a beautiful woman starts losing her beauty?   What does she do then?   That's interesting, and it's almost never explored on TV.

2.  Next there was Don Draper as "old coot" at a Stones concert in 1966, talking to teenaged girls and telling them he's worried about them.   He was the ultimate cool guy, but last week he was embarrassed by his young wife's free spirited "Zou Bizou Bizou" rendition, and this week he's worried about groupies at rock concerts and noticeably put off by a younger man from the agency smoking pot backstage.   That's not a turn of events I expected either.   The cool of the 1950s meets the new cool of the 1960s.  

3.  Finally, there was the very weird off-the-wall new character, the copywriter Mike Ginzberg, hired by Peggy Olson.   I don't know what they are going to do with him, but his weirdness about jumped off the screen, so they're going to have to do something with him.   I expect a romance with Peggy, but that may be too predictable.  

Really great TV makes it so you can't wait for the next week.   That's part of the fun of TV that you lose when you watch things on DVDs.... that anticipation.   Dexter used to be like that.   Breaking Bad still is.   And Mad Men still is.  

Girl of the Day - Fat Betty (January Jones)

Mad Men just keeps getting better... and weirder.   I would never have predicted Fat Betty Draper/Francis:  

I can understand Harry Potter.   I can understand (although it's lame) Pokemon.   I get Call of Duty.   I get toy trains.   I get boys' obsessions.   Girls.... not so much.   Anyway, apparently the new "craft" that girls (at least here in Wisconsin) are into is making things out of.... duct tape.    That's right... duct tape.   It now comes, not just in gray-metallic, but in an array of colors and designs.    The Regular Daughter No. 1 went to a birthday party yesterday, and all the girl wanted was... duct tape.  

Who knew?