"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

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Detroit is Dead

Or close to it.   John Fund has a disturbing and depressing report about "America's Suicidal Cities" at NRO, including these two sentences which rank among the saddest I've read in a long time:

Once the fourth-largest city in the country, Detroit’s population has dropped by almost 30 percent since 2000 to below 700,000. Its vacant lots cover more land than the entire city of Paris.

If you wanted to conduct a laboratory experiment on what happens when a city has one-party rule by liberal Democrats, you wouldn't have to.   It's already been done.   It's called Detroit.   And here is what it looks like:






















The squandered resources, the squandered hopes, the squandered human beings.

Like I said:  sad, sad, sad.  

Hagel Not Fit to Be SecDef

Not because he's a squishy inside-the-Bestlway RINO on foreign policy.

Not because he's not a strong supporter of Israel.

Not because he's likely to preside over the dismantling and weakening of our military in Obama's second term.

No, it's not because of any of those things.

It's because he's not very smart.

Rights and Not Rights

We talk a lot about rights in this country.   There is a huge body of learning and analysis on the subject of what is a "right."   I'm not going to go into all that, but instead want to propose a simple test.   Consider: could you get nearly unanimous support for the following propositions in America?

An individual has a right to equal treatment before the law.
An individual should not be discriminated against because of his race.
An invidual has a right to express himself through speaking out on public issues.
An individual has a right to worship God as he sees fit.

I think you could nearly 100% of Americans to say they support these sorts of things.

Now consider the following propositions:

An individual has a right to require his fellow citizens to pay for his healthcare indirectly through their taxes.
An individual has a right to procure an abortion at any time during her pregnancy.
An individual has a right to preferential treatment in college admissions if he happens to be black, over equally-qualified applicants who are white or Asian.

I think you would find yourself hard-pressed to get anywhere near 50% of the public to say they support these propositions. **

So here's my test... a right is only a real "right" if nearly everyone in America would support it.   Otherwise, it's a matter of policy differences, and ought to be worked out through the democratic political process, and not through Constitutional litigation.  



**To be sure, I've phrased them differently than most MSM pollsters would.   I've phrased the questions honestly, where MSM pollsters, as liberals, would likely frame their poll questions on healthcare, abortion and affirmative action dishonestly by eliding the reality of the other people involved -- the taxpayer, the baby, the white applicant denied admission.   But even if I asked them in the preferred manner, such as this -- an individual has the right to healthcare, a woman has the right to choose abortion, a black college applicant has a right to preferential treatment because of historical racism -- I still don't think you'd get much over 50% of the public to agree.   In part that's because at least some of us have learned to see through the type of ideological loading you get in MSM poll questions.   But, mostly, it's because people understand that these simply aren't "rights."   They might be good things, but you have to make arguments about them openly and convince your fellow Americans.   You shouldn't be able to just slam down the word "right" and expect everyone to agree.

Girl of the Day - Jean Simmons

Another easy call... one of my favorites who starred in some of my favorite movies from the 1950s, including Guys and Dolls, The Big Country and Spartacus, the great Jean Simmons was born today in 1929.  

Jobs Council? What Jobs Council?

Obama has apparently decided that, with the election over, he no longer has to pretend to care about jobs, and can just get on with remaking the military, nationalizing healthcare, redistributing America's wealth, etc.   Anyway, the "jobs council" that he never met with is no more:

President Barack Obama will let his jobs council expire this week without renewing its charter, winding down one source of input from the business community even as unemployment remains stubbornly high.

When Obama in January 2011 formed his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, unemployment was hovering above 9 percent. Two years later, more than 12 million people in the U.S. are out of work. The unemployment rate has improved to 7.8 percent, but both parties agree that's still too high.

A provision in Obama's executive order establishing the council says it sunsets on Thursday. A White House official said the president does not plan to extend it.

The January 2011 unemployment rate of 9% was based on a labor force participation rate of 64.2%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.    The current labor force participation rate is 63.6%.   So the lower unemployment rate is, for the most part, a lie... they just aren't counting a million or so people being in the labor force anymore.   And that's after years of declining labor force participation before his jobs council was created.   To wit:  in November 2007, there were nearly 122 million Americans employed full-time.   In November 2012 there are only about 116 million.    Here's the money graph from the BLS:



But the Jobs Council's work is apparently done.

And, hey, why seek input from the business community about how to create jobs anyway?   Obama creates a lot of jobs by himself.  

Caddies.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Girl of the Day - Two of My Favorite Things (Mercedes and Upton)

This commercial features two of my favorite things, Kate Upton and Mercedes-Benz:






Or maybe it's three of my favorite things.

Here's the Mercedes Super Bowl commercial with the Stones' Sympathy for the Devil as the background music:



It's Still Bush's Fault













The initial report on 4Q 2012 is not good:

The U.S. economy posted a stunning drop of 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter, defying expectations for slow growth and possibly providing incentive for more Federal Reserve stimulus.
The economy shrank from October through December for the first time since the recession ended, hurt by the biggest cut in defense spending in 40 years, fewer exports and sluggish growth in company stockpiles.
The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the economy contracted at an annual rate of 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter. That's a sharp slowdown from the 3.1 percent growth rate in the July-September quarter.
The surprise contraction could raise fears about the economy's ability to handle tax increases that took effect in January and looming spending cuts.
Hmmmmm.... could it have something to do with anxiety over the looming fiscal cliff and increased taxes to wealthy (read: job creating) Americans?  

Nah.... must be Bush's fault.

What's Wrong With These Headlines?

Here's a headline from last month:











Now here's one from this week:












Why should an arms sale to Egypt occur, if a leading aide to the President of Egypt holds the beliefs ascribed to him in the second story?   Do we at last have no standards?   No decency?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Girl of the Day - Not a Hard Choice (Katherine Ross)

Today's girl of the day is not a hard choice.   Katherine Ross, who turns 73 today, starred in three movies in the late 1960s that, in very different ways, made me love movies -- The Graduate, Hellfighters (w/ John Wayne), and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.   Hard to top the scrumptiousness factor here:





Monday, January 28, 2013

For Whom the Dole Bells

Via Ace:

Danny Creamer, 21, and Gina Allan, 18, spend each day watching their 47 in. flatscreen TV and smoking 40 cigarettes between them in their comfy two-bedroom flat.
It is all funded by the taxpayer, yet the couple say they deserve sympathy because they are “trapped”.
They even claim they are entitled to their generous handouts because their hard-working parents have been paying tax for years.
The couple, who have a four-month-old daughter Tullulah-Rose, say they can’t go out to work as they could not survive on less than their £1,473-a-month benefits.
The pair left school with no qualifications, and say there is no point looking for jobs because they will never be able to earn as much as they get in handouts.

No one could survive in politics if he or she were to acknowledge the most elementary fact of humanity and statistics -- that half the people are to the left side of the median of the bell curve of intelligence. What that means is that about 47.5% of people  have IQs between 70 and 100 -- i.e., two standard deviations from the median. Don't like that fact? Does that fact make you feel nervous? Are you worried that someone will call you a bad name if you mention that fact? Join the club of every politician in public life. It is the great unmentionable.

But what it means is that, for roughly 150 million Americans (and perhaps 30-40 million Brits), they can either get unskilled or semi-skilled manufacturing jobs that aren't a lot of fun, or they can be on the dole. If you make the dole attractive enough, of course they won't want to work at a job that isn't much fun. And that, increasingly, is what we've done.

Actually, we've done worse. At the same time as we've created a system that incentivizes not working and disincentivizes working, we've also conspired, through the genius of liberalism, to create an economy increasingly hostile toward the very type of manufacturing jobs that the left side of the bell curve could do. We've installed the idiocy of the minimum wage, and we've permitted a regime of hyper-regulation that rewards lawyers (the right side of the bell curve, at least most of them I've met), and punishes the left side of the bell curve by making it difficult to build factories where they could work.

And don't be a sap. The people on the left side of the bell curve are not going to become rocket scientists, no matter how much money you pour into public schools or subsidized college loans. So we can either (a) create a society where there are a lot of manufacturing jobs and a system that rewards hard work and punishes sloth, which is what we would do if we really cared about the poor; or else (b) create a society where there aren't a lot of manufacturing jobs, but there is an overly generous dole, with disability and unemployment and welfare and food stamps and Medicaid and Medicare and Social Security. One leads to dignified productive citizens, the other to the pitiful examples in the article.

Goodness gracious, a 21 year-old man and an 18 year-old woman, and they are convinced that their lives are over, and they can never improve them! That's about the saddest thing I've ever read. Do liberals understand how their welfare system dehumanizes people? Do they care at all?

The GOP's New Image

I have decided to quit the law and become a political image consultant.   Here's my proposal for a new image for the GOP as they oppose the incipient socialist/fascist second term of President Obama:

When Will This Story Make the New York Times?

A reporter named Jason Mattera had the temerity to ask New York Mayor Bloomberg about his position on gun control, and was then followed and accosted by Bloomberg's armed security:





Mayor Bloomberg should be asked how he would explain why this doesn't violate the civil liberties of this reporter.   It seems pretty obvious to me... a police officer acting with the color of state authority (albeit without jurisdiction) to stop and detain and question an individual without probable cause and to intimidate a journalist who is exercising his First Amendment rights.  

If a bodyguard for, say, Rick Santorum had done this to a reporter for, say, the New York Times, do you think it would be front page news?   I do.  

But do you think the New York Times will report on it now?

That's why the business model of MSM news is dying.   Half of their potential customers know that they are being sold a lie called "objective journalism."  

What Difference Does It Make?

Peter Kirsanow at NRO has the best thing I've read in a long time:

The media are enamored of what they perceive as Hillary Clinton’s witty riposte to Senator Johnson during the Benghazi hearings. Conservatives should employ the same question as often as possible. It’s more appropriately directed at the following:
The War on Poverty. $15,000,000,000,000 has been spent by the federal and state governments on 122 separate welfare programs since 1964, according to a Cato analysis. The poverty rate in 1964 was 19 percent and falling. Nearly 50 years later, the rate is still more than 15 percent and climbing. What difference, at this point, does trillions in welfare spending make?
The Department of Education. The department was created in 1980 for the express purpose of improving U.S. students’ academic performance. Since then, per pupil K-12 spending has increased (in constant dollars) from approximately $6,000 annually to $12,500. Hundreds of billions have been spent by the department since 1980, yet the scores for the nation’s 17-year-olds on the National Assessment of Educational Progress — called “the nation’s report card” — have remained unchanged, and U.S performance is slipping relative to other nations. What difference, at this point, does the Department of Education make?
The Stimulus. The Obama administration promised that if Congress passed the $814,000,000,000 stimulus, unemployment today would be 5.2 percent. It’s now 7.8 percent, and as noted by James Pethokoukis, had millions not dropped out of the job market the unemployment rate today would be 10.7 percent — nearly three points higher than when the stimulus was passed. What difference, at this point, did the stimulus make?
Head Start. The program was created in 1965 to, among other things, improve the cognitive performance of poor kids. Hundreds of billions have been spent on the program, but recent studies show it does nothing for the cognitive abilities of kids enrolled in the program, with any transient benefits disappearing by the time the kids reach third grade. What difference, at this point, does Head Start make?

Read the whole thing.

Two Cardinals and a Pope


























The only autograph from a sports figure the Regular Guy's dad ever got for him was when Dad brought home an autographed picture from Stan Musial.   Everyone in St. Louis had one, just about... Musial never refused one.   For people not from St. Louis it may be that they can't understand just how sad we were when Stan passed last week.   Stan made us all feel better about... well, just about being alive.   He showed us all what a real man looks like and how a real man acts.   "Gracious" is the word that comes to mind.

Anyway, the RG also had the honor ten years ago or so of going to a Cardinals-Brewers game with then-Archbishop, now-Cardinal Timothy Dolan.   I've lost much of my arrogance as I get older... I really am just a regular guy, which is OK, particularly when I have the Regular Wife to keep me company.   So I can say this... sometimes you are with people who make you feel better about being a human being, because they are so much bigger and more alive and have more goodness and faith than you do, and it shows you what is possible.   Musial was like that, and Cardinal Dolan is too.

So I particularly enjoyed this article about Cardinal Dolan and Musial:

Dolan and Musial got to know each other well in Rome, after Dolan was named rector of the North American Pontifical College in the 1990s.

Musial and his friend Ed Piszek — the founder of fish stick maker Mrs. Paul’s Kitchens, Inc. — traveled to Poland in the 1970s to support youth athletics and education. The two men helped found a Little League center in Kutno, and in their travels they met the archbishop of Krakow, Karol Wojtyla.

Dolan said Musial later told him that one of the greatest thrills of his life was not when he reached the 3,000-hit mark, but on Oct. 16, 1978, when Wojtyla was elected Pope John Paul II.

Musial’s visits to Rome — where he and other friends of John Paul were led up the Vatican’s “Polish staircase” to the pope’s private apartment — meant visits with Dolan, and the two men got to know one another over the years.

“When I would see Stan on those occasions, he was always beaming,” Dolan said. “He was so fond of the Holy Father.”

According to George Vecsey’s biography, “Stan Musial: An American Life,” Musial and the pope — both athletes — were “physically and psychically comfortable with each other.”

During one early-morning trip up the Polish staircase for a private Mass with John Paul in his personal chapel, some American priests recognized Musial, according to Vecsey’s book.

“I’m entitled to be here because I’m also a Cardinal,” Musial told them.

Tears to the eye.   What a small, beautiful world we live in.



Girl of the Day - Bridget Fonda

One of the things I've noticed in looking up birthdays is that sports stars are always younger than you think, and actresses are always older than you think.   My theory on this is that movies and TV shows exist in a perpetual present -- if you watch a movie with a particular star, you are being entertained by a person who is the age they were when they made the movie, which might be longer ago than you realize.   Meanwhile, sports are always happening now in real time -- you are being entertained by a person who is the exact age he is at this moment, and once he's stopped entertaining you, once he retires, you relegate him mentally into the past, so that you think he must be older.  

I'll give you an example.   Greg Maddux, the great Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves pitcher, seemed like he was around forever, pitching well into his 40s, and now he's been retired for at least five years, because he's likely to go into the Hall of Fame next year.   He's a grizzled veteran, in other words.

Meanwhile, Bridget Fonda in my mind's eye is a hot young actress, the daughter of Peter Fonda, granddaughter of Henry Fonda, niece of Jane Fonda.  

In my imagination, Maddux is old and retired, while Fonda is still very young and up-and-coming.

In reality, Maddux is 46, while Fonda turned 49 over the weekend.   It seems like just yesterday she was the young ingenue in The Godfather Part III.   But, of course, that movie came out in 1990, 23 years ago. 

Tempus fugit.  

Here she is, back in the day:



















While politically her aunt, Hanoi Jane Fonda, is anathema to the Regular Guy, I have to say that young Jane was way cuter, as here in one of my favorites, Cat Ballou:



President Bullshit

Obama over the weekend claimed in an interview that he goes skeet-shooting all the time when at Camp David.

I think he's lying.

I don't think he's ever gone skeet-shooting at Camp David.  If he had, there would be photographs of him doing it.   In fact, given his pretense of running as a centrist, I wouldn't have been surprised if he had staged a skeet-shooting photo-op during the election to prove his "regular guy" cred.   But if you go to Google Images and enter "Obama skeet shooting," there are zero hits on the entire Internet.  

By contrast, if you do the same thing with "Obama baseball," here's what you get:

















This is the most photographed man in history.   I challenge anyone in his administration to come up with a date-stamped photograph of the President skeet-shooting, or else they should admit that he lied.  

This is a guy who made up "composite girlfriends."   He has an ease with lying surpassed in American politics perhaps only by Bill Clinton.   He's lying on this.  

Where is the press?   The main issue in America today -- because Obama is making it so -- is guns.   He's just told a whopper as part of his propaganda on the issue.   It's designed to reinforce the liberal canard that hunting is the only legitimate purpose for guns.   When a President tells a lie, the press is supposed to investigate and report back to the American people what they find.

It's a simple question to Jay Carney at today's press briefing.

"Jay, can the White House produce a single photograph of President Obama shooting skeet at Camp David?"

Friday, January 25, 2013

Noonan on Obama: "He doesn't care if you like him..."

I generally don't like Peggy Noonan all that much.   I think she's had a few too many inside the Beltway cocktail parties, so she gets a bit squishy at times.   And I also think she feel in love with her own prose style a long time ago when people told her she was a great writer when what they really meant was she was a hot-looking young woman who wrote reasonably well.   Now she's "of a certain age" and still thinks she's a great writer, and that leads her to be precious most of the time.

But when she's good, I'll give her credit.   This is from today's column:

It became obvious this week that the Republican Party top to bottom has to start taking Barack Obama seriously. All the famous criticisms of him are true: He has no talent for or interest in sustained, good-faith negotiations, he has no real sense of alarm about the great issue of the day, America's debt. He's a chill presence in a warm-blooded profession.

But he means business. He means to change America in fundamental ways and along the lines of justice as he sees it...

He doesn't care if you like him—he'd just as soon you did, but it's not necessary for him. He is certain he is right in what he's doing, which is changing the economic balance between rich and poor. The rich are going to be made less rich, and those who are needy or request help are going to get more in government services, which the rich will pay for. He'd just as soon the middle class not get lost in the shuffle, but if they wind up marginally less middle class he won't be up nights. The point is redistribution.

The great long-term question is the effect the change in mood he seeks to institute will have on what used to be called the national character. Eight years is almost half a generation. Don't you change people when you tell them they have an absolute right to government support regardless of their efforts? Don't you encourage dependence, and a bitter sense of entitlement? What about the wearing down of taxpayers? Some, especially those who are younger, do not fully understand that what is supporting them is actually coming from other people. To them it seems to come from "the government," the big marble machine far away that prints money.

There is no sign, absolutely none, that any of this is on Mr. Obama's mind. His emphasis is always on what one abstract group owes another in the service of a larger concept. "You didn't build that" are the defining words of his presidency.
I think this is absolutely right, but it's also absolutely chilling.   One of the things that makes society relatively peaceful -- particularly what the Marxists would call "bourgeois" society... what I would call the world of Normalcy, of Regular Guys -- is that most people actually do care if you like them.   They don't want other people to think ill of them.   They want the approval of others.   What does it say about Obama if he truly doesn't care if half of the country doesn't like him?   I think what it says, in part, is that he truly doesn't like that half of the country.   He has disdain for people like me... white, suburban, conservative, law-abiding, money-saving, hard-working, God-fearing, church-going normal people.   He thinks we are the problem.   He thinks we are evil.   At least, he thinks we are stupid, and that our stupidity (what he might, in a Frankfurt School moment call our "bad faith") makes us do evil things, like not want to pay more taxes.

The next four years are going to be a scary ride.

Predictable Versus Unpredictable Violence

With the President energized to enact (or impose) new restrictions on guns, I have been thinking about violence.   It appalls me, as it should any actual "liberal" (i.e., someone who actually cares about human beings as individuals), that there is a huge reaction when white children are murdered in an inexplicable, unpredictable violence caused by an insane individual, while there is little reaction when hundreds of black youths are killed in utterly predictable violence because our inner cities have descended into chaos and criminality due to the drug trade.

Consider these statistics from the CDC.  
  • In 2010 there were 11,078 homicides by firearms in America.
  • Of these, 9,340 were male, or approximately 84%.
  • Of these, 5,553 were black males.   That's slightly over 50% of the total number of murders.
  • And, of the total, 7,220 were between the age of 15-34, or approximately 65%.
Now, I can't get my hands on perfect statistics, but these numbers yield an inference that a wildly disproportionate number of America's gun deaths are murders of young black males.  

Do you think that has something to do with drug-related gang shootings?   I do.

Do you think there will be fewer of these drug-related gang shootings if namby-pamby liberal Senators like Dianne Feinstein, catering to their namby-pamby white suburban liberal voters, enact a cosmetic gun control law?   I don't.

Legislation can do little to affect unpredictable "Black Swan" events like a mass school shooting.   Connecticut had a state-level assault weapon ban, the Newtown shooter's mother had purchased the guns he used legally, and he had not been guilty of any prior crime of violence.   He was weird kid with neglectful parents, including an absent father, and he went nuts in a particularly gruesome way.   Tell me how to keep that from happening.   Then, tell me whether you want to live in that world.   Because the logic of the liberal position seems to end in an Orwellian world of disarmed people subject to arbitrary government decisions about who is sane or insane prior to any criminal acts.  

By contrast, legislation can do a lot to affect the utterly predictable violence in our inner cities.   Here's what I'd do.

1. Decriminalize drugs.   We're getting good at losing wars -- see Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, etc.   Let's declare defeat and end the War on Drugs.

2. End the job-killing insanity of the minimum wage.   Let's put young men back to work.

3. End the job-killing insanity of federal environmental and safety-related hyper-regulation.   Let's start building factories in America again.

4. End the job-killing idiocy of our anti-fossil fuel policies.   Let's make America the cheap energy center of world manufacturing.

In short, if you want to get rid of violence, eliminate the economic incentives for criminal behavior and increase the ability of young, uneducated, semi-skilled men to get decent manufacturing jobs.   Human nature being what it is, there will always be violence and murder -- heck, we're watching Cadfael, and there were apparently murders by the bushelful in medieval England.   But we can reduce the incentives to commit murder by reducing the economic rewards for criminality and increasing the economic rewards for work.







Rand Paul... Fast Becoming My Favorite Senator

Here he is laying waste to the hypocrisy of John Kerry:

Girl of the Day - Snow Edition

We finally got some snow in southeastern Wisconsin, so a thematic GotD seemed appropriate.   I could go with this option... the actress Brittany Snow from Pitch Perfect:
























Or, I could go with this sort of thing:






































Either of them works, but I'd go with MM, as always.

What Difference Does It Make?

Michael Ramirez weighs in:

























I would add:   the difference between Truth and Falsehood.

The difference between Right and Wrong.

The difference between Good and Evil.

The difference between Freedom and Tyranny.

I could go on.

The Disability Death Spiral

A must-read article in the Wall Street Journal:

According to the Social Security Administration, the number of working-age Americans relying on Social Security's disability programs has increased dramatically over the past two generations.

In December 2012, more than 8.8 million working-age men and women took such disability payments from the government—nearly three times as many as in December 1990. For every 17 people in the labor force, there is now one recipient of Social Security disability program payments.

But the pool of working-age government disability recipients may be even larger than those getting funds just from the Social Security disability programs alone. The Department of Health and Human Services reports that more than 12.4 million working-age Americans obtained disability income support from all government programs in 2011. That's more than the total number of employees in the manufacturing sector of the economy.

• In recent years, the biggest increases in disability claims have been for "musculoskeletal" problems and mental disorders (including mood disorders). But as a practical matter, it is impossible for a health professional to ascertain conclusively whether or not a patient is suffering from back pains or sad feelings. The government's disability-insurance programs were intended to address genuine need. On the current trajectory, the Social Security disability fund is projected to run out of money during Mr. Obama's second term.

The author, Nick Eberstadt, has written a book called A Nation of Takers.   But this isn't "taking"... this is scamming, fraud, pure and simple.   But the problem is that the temptation to not work and to scam the disability system has increased because the abilitiy to get a good manufacturing job has decreased.   Why?  

First, we are pricing ourselves out of the world labor market.   America desperately needs to do away with the idiocy of the minimum wage.   A man working productively at $5 per hour is a better citizen and has more of a future than the same man sitting home collecting disability that he's scammed.

Second, we are regulating ourselves into massive inefficiency.   America desperately needs to trim the environmental and OSHA and other regulatory regimes that make building a factory in America so costly compared to other countries.

The combination of government policies that hamstring the manufacturing sector and parallel government policies that incentivize fraud by men who are essentially unemployable* in non-manufacturing jobs is the problem.  



* I want to be clear here.   People talk about a "post-industrial" America, a "service economy" America.   That's fine for my kids.   They all have 120+ IQs.   But Americans are simply lying to themselves if they think the left side of the bell curve, the huge swath of Americans whose IQs are between 85 and 100, are going to succeed in an "information" economy.   They're not.   They are good people, decent people, people who deserve dignity.   But they only way they are going to be able to function economically to have a dignified life is if they have jobs they can do.   And that means manufacturing jobs -- unskilled or semi-skilled labor.   Government policies that hamstring manufacturing and subsidize the idiocy that everyone should go to college won't work and are immoral.  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Retirement System That Used to Be the American Army

In discussing the move yesterday to permit women in combat units in the Army, I commented earlier today that the decision didn't matter, so long as America has no intention of sending combat units into actual combat.  

Put differently, as I said to the Regular Son when we were talking about women in combat, if the Army is a war-fighting enterprise, then women in combat units is a bad idea.    But if the Army is, as it increasingly seems, a jobs program, then whether or not women are in a particular unit that, in the pure abstract, is called a "combat" unit just doesn't matter.   If the purpose of the Army is no longer fighting wars, but simply a means to let poor and working class youths "be all that they can be," i.e., a way of providing jobs to otherwise less-than-employable young men and women, then who cares whether combat units are combat-ready or effective.

It may, however, be worse.   What if the armed services aren't even jobs programs in the future, but a huge retirement system with a minor sidelight in pretending to be a military?   It's like what some wag said about GM... it's not a car company anymore, it's a retirement and healthcare system that makes cars as a hobby. 

Mead over at The American Interest lays out the gory details of the DoD's future pension tsunami:

The Pentagon may have an even larger problem than sequestration: trillions of dollars in unfunded pension liabilities. Over the past few decades, military pension costs have inflated rapidly with no signs of slowing down: The liability currently stands at $1.2 trillion and is expected to rise to nearly $3 trillion over the next quarter-century. Along with similar increases in military compensation and health care spending, these ballooning costs have led the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments to warn that “military personel costs will consume the entire defense budget by 2039.”

I wish I had an answer to this, just like I wish I had an answer to the insolvency of Social Security and Medicare.   But I don't think there's any easy answer.   We are going to have to (a) renege on promises we've made to seniors and military retirees; or (b) gradually grow weaker and weaker as we transfer resources from productive enterprises and national defense; or (c) more likely, both.  

More on Women in Combat

From the WSJ today:

I served in the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a Marine infantry squad leader. We rode into war crammed in the back of amphibious assault vehicles. They are designed to hold roughly 15 Marines snugly; due to maintenance issues, by the end of the invasion we had as many as 25 men stuffed into the back. Marines were forced to sit, in full gear, on each other's laps and in contorted positions for hours on end. That was the least of our problems.

The invasion was a blitzkrieg. The goal was to move as fast to Baghdad as possible. The column would not stop for a lance corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, or even a company commander to go to the restroom. Sometimes we spent over 48 hours on the move without exiting the vehicles. We were forced to urinate in empty water bottles inches from our comrades.

Many Marines developed dysentery from the complete lack of sanitary conditions. When an uncontrollable urge hit a Marine, he would be forced to stand, as best he could, hold an MRE bag up to his rear, and defecate inches from his seated comrade's face.

During the invasion, we wore chemical protective suits because of the fear of chemical or biological weapon attack. These are equivalent to a ski jumpsuit and hold in the heat. We also had to wear black rubber boots over our desert boots. On the occasions the column did stop, we would quickly peel off our rubber boots, desert boots and socks to let our feet air out.

Due to the heat and sweat, layers of our skin would peel off our feet. However, we rarely had time to remove our suits or perform even the most basic hygiene. We quickly developed sores on our bodies.
When we did reach Baghdad, we were in shambles. We had not showered in well over a month and our chemical protective suits were covered in a mixture of filth and dried blood. We were told to strip and place our suits in pits to be burned immediately. My unit stood there in a walled-in compound in Baghdad, naked, sores dotted all over our bodies, feet peeling, watching our suits burn. Later, they lined us up naked and washed us off with pressure washers.

Yes, a woman is as capable as a man of pulling a trigger. But the goal of our nation's military is to fight and win wars. Before taking the drastic step of allowing women to serve in combat units, has the government considered whether introducing women into the above-described situation would have made my unit more or less combat effective?

Wow.   Just... wow.    Has anyone really thought this thing through?

That's why they call them REMFs ("rear echelon motherf***ers").    They sit in the Pentagon and write reports and, meanwhile, the grunts are out in the field doing the dirty work.  

Women in Combat - It Doesn't Matter Until It Does

It was fitting yesterday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's cri de coeur "What difference does it make?!" about the Benghazi debacle was still echoing as Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced the Pentagon's new policy to permit women to serve in combat units.   The truth is... it doesn't matter.   Having women in combat units only matters, ironically enough, if you actually intend to send combat units into combat.   Since we don't -- after retreats from Iraq and Afghanistan, and "leading from behind" in Libya and Egypt and Syria (and not leading at all regarding the imminent Islamist takeover in Mali), does anyone really think this administration has any stomach for any combat anywhere, at least combat fought by humans rather than drones? -- it doesn't.

On the other hand, a passing glance at history suggests to me that, while we may not be interested in combat, combat always has a lingering interest in us.   Human nature has not been repealed by an Obama Administration executive order.   We will have wars, we will have combat, and when we do, a platoon made up of a politically-correct proportion of women will be self-evidently less effective than a platoon made up of men trained not just by the Army, but also by God over tens of thousands of years of evolution to be aggressive, violent killers when necessary.  

I think it was Orwell who said "people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

We're sleeping all right, but not as peaceably as we were the day before yesterday.

Girl of the Day - Jenn Lyon

Raylan's new love interest on Justified:






































I don't see this ending well.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"The Left's Real Enemy is Arithmetic."

John Hinderaker at Powerline makes a brilliant point here:
The left’s real enemy isn’t Republicans, it is arithmetic.

Welfare states are collapsing all around the world. Ours is on the same course. It is commonly observed that America’s entitlement programs are Ponzi schemes, which is correct. What is less often noted is that federal government spending in general is a Ponzi scheme, sustained only by influxes of new money–real money from China and a handful of others, and fake money from the Fed–that cannot long continue.
It is characteristic of any Ponzi fraud that the people who get in on the ground floor do well. That makes the scheme popular; people clamor to get in. This is what has happened with Social Security and Medicare here in the U.S. Past and current beneficiaries are receiving benefits that are entirely disproportionate to what they paid in. This obviously cannot continue indefinitely. Every Ponzi fraud inevitably crashes when its exponential growth cannot be sustained because there is not enough new money–not enough suckers, to put it bluntly. In the context of entitlements, “new money” means young people. That point is now approaching rather rapidly.

This is why the Democrats cannot adopt a budget. A budget requires arithmetic, and arithmetic demonstrates that the welfare state must either come crashing down, or be exposed as the terrible deal it is for those who didn’t get in on the ground floor.

The Art of the Possible and a New Abortion Platform for Republicans

Ed. - I'm leaving this post up somewhat against my better judgment.   I told the Regular Son on the way home about the gist of the idea -- that Republicans should beat a tactical retreat on abortion as a political issue, and fight the fight in the cultural sphere instead.   He basically convinced me that either we have a party that stands with unborn children, or else why have a political party at all.   Put differently, if we can't convince a majority of Americans that the pro-Life position is right and just and moral, then America as a country probably doesn't deserve to survive either.   The upshot is that you have to pick the hills you want to die on in politics.   Life is a hill that Republicans ought to be willing to die on.   If you won't fight for 54 million babies, and a million plus more every year, then what would you fight for?

Anyway, I'll leave it up as evidence of a moment of squishiness by the Regular Guy.

***


Politics is the art of the possible.   I've been thinking about this truism a lot lately, in connection with a lot of issues.   On immigration, for instance, we are simply not going to deport 10-15 million illegals currently living in America, for the simple reason that logistically we can't, at least not without Holocaust-style concentration camps and cattle trains.   So anything other than a gradual amnesty and naturalization seems to me to be impossible, and fruitless to argue.   On guns, similarly, we have something like 300 million guns in circulation.   We are not going to confiscate them, for the simple reason that we can't, at least not without massive armies of government agents willing to invade law-abiding citizens homes.   So acting like we can somehow get rid of all those "icky" guns -- essentially the liberal position -- is silly and fruitless.

In other words, don't spend time arguing about the impossible in politics.   It's a waste of time.   Meanwhile, things like changing policies to rebuild our manufacturing sector, or actually balancing the budget, are both possible and necessary.   Let's spend our energy on those.

I've been thinking about the possible and the impossible on the issue of abortion too.   Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.   It's a terrible decision that has ruined American politics for two generations.   But, even without the constitutional abomination of Roe, it is very likely that 15-20 hard blue states (New York, California, etc.) would essentially have abortion-on-demand today anyway, and 10-15 other purple states (Ohio, Wisconsin, etc.) would have legal abortion in some circumstances, and only 15-20 states (the hard red states of the South and the West) would make abortion illegal in most circumstances.   And I doubt whether any state would criminalize abortion as murder.   So arguing for Roe's reversal in some future case, while good as a matter of constitutional law hygiene (because the reasoning is so poor), won't really affect the availability of abortion much, and won't affect the number of aborted babies.   Which, after all, is the reason we care about abortion.

In other words, the range of what's possible in terms of legislating about abortion is, at least in the near term, pretty small.   So why are we wasting political energy and capital on it?   As conservatives, we ought to believe (as Edmund Burkeans) that the unwritten codes of behavior enforced by communities through tradition and morality and religion are more important than federal or state legislation anyway.   Let's concentrate on that cultural sphere instead.

For instance, why couldn't Republicans treat abortion -- and I know this is an imperfect analogy -- like smoking?   Smoking is legal, and no one is arguing that it should be illegal, but smoking has also been reduced through awareness of its health hazards, and also though a gradual cultural shift toward thinking smoking is icky and uncool.   Our philosophical desideratum is a world without abortion, but that isn't going to happen.   Shouldn't our practical goal be a world with many fewer abortions?   And can't we do that through moral suasion and cultural modeling better than through futile efforts at legislation or constitutional litigation?

Why So Long?
























I saw this story today about Paul Ryan's efforts to craft a budget that balances in ten years.  

Now I really like Paul Ryan.

And I'm a Republican.

But why so long?   Why ten years?   Why are Republicans and Ryan, our brightest light, so timid that the best we can hope for is to craft a budget that will balance in the middle of the next President's second term... and which we know has no chance of passing anyway?  

How can that kind of approach possibly attract new voters to the GOP?

What Republicans need to do is to put on the table a balanced budget for next year.   Period.   That's what we sent them to Congress to do.   It will inevitably have draconian spending cuts if Republicans keep their pledge of no new taxes.  The Democrats will scream bloody murder.   But Republicans in Congress should refuse to budge on the budget unless the Democrats in the Senate and President Obama come forward with their own plan to balance the budget.   If they want higher spending, then they need to propose specific tax increases to pay for them.   Period.   And then let's have that debate.

But let's not pretend that a trillion dollar deficit projected to decrease to a balanced budget over ten years -- which, if it's a straight line would still add $5 trillion to our debt over those ten years -- is a good thing, or accept that it's the best we can hope for.  

Birthday Today - Edouard Manet

The great French impressionist Manet was born today in 1832.   Looking at his works today online, I can't help thinking that a lot of his paintings look like things the Regular Son is painting.   Here's a Manet portrait:






































And here's one from the kid himself:


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Stan the Man's Man-Sized Year







































In the volume of Stan Musial tributes this weekend mourning the greatest Cardinal's passing, I had occasion to notice his stats for his greatest year, 1948.

Batting avg. .375.

On-base percentage .450

Slugging pct. .701.

OPS 1.151

Runs   135

RBIs 131

Hits 230

Doubles 46

Triples 18

HRs   39

Walks    79

Strikeouts 34

His totals for runs, hits, HRs, RBIs, BA, OBP, SA, and OPS are the highest of his career.   He led the major leagues in batting average (.376), hits (230), doubles (46), triples (18), total bases (429), and slugging percentage (.702).   He won the NL batting title by 43 points, and his third MVP.   He would have won the Triple Crown if a HR he hit hadn't been rained out.  

Wow.   But think of this... he had more than three times as many extra base hits (103) than strikeouts (34).   In his best year, the best hitter of the modern era, Albert Pujols, had 99 extra base hits and 52 strikeouts.   Barry Bonds, in his steroid peak year, had 107 extra base hits and struck out 93 times.  

Three times as many!   

***

A side note.   This is an oddity... Musial also stole 7 bases in 1948 without being caught.   I saw that and then did a double take.   In his first ten years in the bigs, Musial, never a big base-stealer, stole 49 bases.   OK.   That's not a lot, only about five a year.   But... he never got caught.   In his first ten years in the big leagues!   Not once.

Stan the Man, indeed.

Two Christians

One of two men was involved in a double-murder (although the charges were dismissed when he agreed to testify against two of his friends) and has fathered six children by four women.   The other is a lifelong missionary, who has never been involved in any way with misconduct, legal or otherwise, and who is, by all accounts, a virgin.   Both strongly and loudly profess their Christianity.   One is celebrated widely in our culture; the other is denigrated and ridiculed.   One will likely be offered multiple jobs in the mainstream media upon his retirement.   The other, although still in his prime, will likely be out of football next year.   Here are their pictures:



























Now, tell me, why exactly is Ray Lewis so celebrated and Tim Tebow so ridiculed?   And why, given their histories, shouldn't it be reversed?

Is it as obvious to you as it is to me?

The Regular Guy Is An Extremist

As a lawyer in a big firm, I have a lot of friends who are liberal Democrats.    Inevitably we will discuss politics.   I like to defuse the tendency of liberals to think conservatives are evil crazy extremists by just announcing in a parodic way that I am, in fact, a "radical right-wing extremist."   My natural nice-guyness and reasonableness then shows how silly those kinds of caricatures of the right are.  

Anyway, one of the things I'd like to see the Republicans in Congress do is just go full-on parody of the term "extremist" or "radical" that the MSM and the Dems like to pin on them.   Just own it, flaunt it, trumpet it proudly.   And then say very simply obvious things that nearly everyone can agree on and connect them to our supposed "radicalism."   Like:

 "We're proposing an extremist solution... balancing the federal budget."

"We believe in the radical idea that individuals, families, communities, states and nations need to live within their means, and not borrow money from their children and grand-children."

"We extremist Republicans believe in the radical proposition that two parent families are good for raising children."

"We crazy radical extremist Republicans believe that history demonstrates the need for a strong American military."

"We crazy, radical extremist Republicans believe that Catholics and other pro-Life Christians should not be taxed or otherwise required to pay for abortions."

"We crazy, radical, extremist right-wing Republicans believe that big government bureaucracies are inefficient and wasteful."
Things like that.

Inaugural Blues

Victor Davis Hanson writes today on the inaugural address in NRO:

...the bitter election wars to achieve and maintain a 51–53 percent majority (the noble 99 percent versus the selfish 1 percent, the greens versus the polluters, the young and hip versus the stodgy and uncool, the wisely unarmed versus the redneck assault-weapon owners, women versus the sexists, gays versus the bigots, Latinos versus the nativists, blacks versus the “get over it” spiteful and resentful, the noble public sector versus the “you didn’t build that” profiteers, Colin Powell/Chuck Hagel/reasonable Republicans versus neanderthal House tea-party zealots), in Nixonian fashion have left a lot of bitter divisions that lie just beneath the surface of a thinning veneer.

There is a reason why Presidents have typically used inaugural addresses to heal wounds.   We think of our nation as an eternal entity, but it's not.   It's a fragile, human construct.   Like any nation, it can fall apart, and it can do so in the blink of an eye.   If it does, we have a nation with both a sense of entitlement and a reality of dependency, not just on government largesse, but on technological efficiencies that could disappear overnight.   If things break down, we could go from iPhones to the Dark Ages in a month.   We have a fragile political union in America.   It is not healthy (and not wise) that half of the country feels targeted and excluded by this President.   Yet this President seems to revel in division, to court it.   He's a man who appears to want to pick at wounds, not heal them..

I put it to my wife this way yesterday.  

I said:  "I'm an adult man who has been happily married for twenty years, has raised three nice kids, who works hard, pays taxes, goes to church, has no serious vices, reads books, stays informed, bears no malice toward anyone, has never thought or uttered a racist epithet, gives to charity, volunteers, etc.   And yet I literally cannot bear to listen to my country's President give his inaugural address, because he has so alienated me by treating me and people like me as evil."

That's dangerous.

Girl of the Day - Diane Lane

Diane Lane turns 48 today.   Which just goes to show something.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Stan the Man

Only people who grew up in St. Louis and loved the Cardinals know what Stan Musial meant to the city and the fans.   A great, great man.   Here's a link to an SI article from a few year's ago that can still make me cry:

Robin Roberts, the late Hall of Fame pitcher, was once talking about a modern-day player he saw walk past a young boy who desperately wanted an autograph. Roberts was too polite to name the player, but he did not hide his contempt.
"Now, to me, that's one thing that really has changed," Roberts said. "There's so much money in the game now.... Players don't see themselves as part of the crowd now. They're separated. They're big stars. I know it's more of a business now. But I'll tell you this: In our day you didn't walk by a kid who wanted an autograph."
Then, Roberts shrugged: "I probably shouldn't be so hard on the guy. I'm sure over the years I probably missed a few kids. I don't remember doing it, but I'm sure I disappointed someone. None of us are perfect. We all disappointed someone from time to time. I guess. Well, all of us except one."
"Who was that?" I asked. Roberts looked at me with surprise, as if he thought the answer was obvious. Finally he answered.
"Musial," he said.
     No one ever said anything but "wunnerful" things about Stan Musial.  He passed away today.  R.I.P.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Girl of the Day - Bangles Edition

For an American boy of a certain age -- meaning you were born in the late 1950s or early 1960s and were listening to music as a single dude in the early to mid 1980s, or, more likely, watching music videos as a lonely single dude in the mid 1980s, you probably perked up when The Bangles came on.   Not that the music was anything to write home about.   But the lead singer, Susanna Hoffs, was extra cute in a kind of big-hair, lots of eye makeup, dirty sexy sleazy kind of way that appeals to you for about a half-decade when you're young.

Anyway, she turns 54 today.   Holy crap.

This is her back in the day.



Here she is in 2008, at 49.   Frankly, and this may be my own age showing, she looks better now.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Funemployment!

In a brilliant article, Richard Vedder dissects the incentives government welfare programs have created to attract Americans to a life of sloth, and the impact a nation of layabouts is having on our economic growth.   Here's an excerpt:

If today the country had the same proportion of persons of working age employed as it did in 2000, the U.S. would have almost 14 million more people contributing to the economy. Even assuming that these additional workers would be 25% less productive on average than the existing labor force, U.S. gross domestic product would still be more than 5% higher ($800 billion, or about $2,600 more per person) than it actually is. The annual growth rate of GDP would be 2.2%, not 1.81%. The retreat from working, in short, has had a real impact.
 
Why are Americans working less? While there are a number of factors, the phenomenon is due mainly to a variety of public policies that have reduced the incentives to be employed. These policies include:
 
Food stamps. Above all else, people work to eat. If the government provides food, then the imperative to work is severely reduced. Since the food-stamp program's beginning in the 1960s, it has grown considerably, but especially so in the 21st century: There are over 30 million more Americans receiving food stamps today than in 2000.

The sharp rise in food-stamp beneficiaries predated the financial crisis of 2008: From 2000 to 2007, the number of beneficiaries rose from 17.1 million to 26.3 million, according to the Department of Agriculture. That number has leaped to 47.5 million in October 2012. The average benefit per person jumped in 2009 from $102 to $125 per month.

To be sure, we would expect the number of people on food stamps to increase with rising unemployment, poverty and falling incomes in late 2008 extending into 2009 and perhaps even into 2010 (even though the recession was officially over in late 2009). But more is going on here.

Compare 2010 with October 2012, the last month for which food-stamp data have been reported. The unemployment rate fell to 7.8% from 9.6%, and real GDP was rising steadily if not vigorously. Food-stamp usage should have peaked and probably even begun to decline. Yet the number of recipients rose by 7,223,000. In a period of falling unemployment and rising output, the number of food-stamp recipients grew nearly 10,000 a day. Congress should find out why.

I can tell you why.   Human nature is why.   Government programs that reward sinners -- the natural sloths among us -- are bound to expand.

Executive (Purely Symbolic) Actions

Here is the list of executive actions President Obama proposed today to "solve" the problem of gun violence:

1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.
3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign. 
8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.
11. Nominate an ATF director.
12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies. 
16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes. 
17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities. 
18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers. 
19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education. 
20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover. 
21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges. 
22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations. 
23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

The highlighted phrases stuck out for me.   He's apparently going to write some memos and letters, release some other reports and letters (have they been held hostage?), write some more plans, and launch a campaign and a dialogue.  

In other words, he's going to talk, talk, talk, talk, talk... Same old, same old.

***

By the way, if you look at a lot of these things... why exactly haven't these been part of his job description before?

***

UPDATE:

A hilarious take on the list.

Thomas Sowell

This was from yesterday, but it's always appropriate to cite the great T. Sowell:

There is no question that liberals do an impressive job of expressing concern for blacks. But do the intentions expressed in their words match the actual consequences of their deeds?...

Liberals try to show their concern for the poor by raising the minimum wage. Yet they show no interest in hard evidence that minimum-wage laws create disastrous levels of unemployment among young blacks in this country, as such laws created high unemployment rates among young people in general in European countries.


The black family survived centuries of slavery and generations of Jim Crow, but it has disintegrated in the wake of the liberals’ expansion of the welfare state. Most black children grew up in homes with two parents during all that time, but most grow up with only one parent today.

Liberals have pushed affirmative action, supposedly for the benefit of blacks and other minorities. But two recent factual studies show that affirmative action in college admissions has led to black students with every qualification for success being artificially turned into failures by being mismatched with colleges for the sake of racial body count....

In all these cases, and many others, liberals take positions that make them look good and feel good — and show very little interest in the actual consequences for others, even when liberal policies are leaving havoc in their wake.

"Elitist Hypocrite"

A description of Obama from the NRA that ought to stick, but won't, because of our addled culture:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bill Whittle Brings the Hammer Down

One of the greatest things I've seen lately:

Summing It Up

If We Only Save One Child...

I hit on a link that took me to a collection of tweets and retweets that began with this one from Matt Drudge:











Nice to see that Drudge is putting the pro-Life message out there.   But I also want to put two and two together on this.   Here's a quote from Joe Biden recently about the Newtown massacre and the Left's attempt to leverage it to enact new gun control legislation:
"If our actions result in saving only one life, they're worth taking."

Jonah Goldberg has done a good job of exposing the idiocy of the "if it saves one child" logic here:
The notion that any government action is justified if saves even a single life is malarkey, to borrow one of Mr. Biden’s favorite terms. Worse than that, it’s dangerous malarkey.

Let’s start with the malarkey part. The federal government could ban cars, fatty foods, ladders, plastic buckets, window blinds or Lego pieces small enough to choke on and save far more than just one life. Is it imperative the government do any of that? It’s a tragedy when people die in car accidents (roughly 35,000 fatalities per year), or when kids drown in plastic buckets (it happens an estimated 10 to 40 times a year), or when people die falling off ladders (about 300 per year). Would a law that prevents those deaths be worth it, no matter the cost?

But my question is this... if the Left really believes that we have to do something anytime the something that we do might result in saving the life of a single child, why aren't they pro-Life?   Hasn't one of the pro-Choice arguments always been that we don't really know when Life begins?   Here's a representative statement of that position from a group calling itself the Westchester Coalition for Legal Abortion:
Personhood at conception is a religious belief, not a provable biological fact. Mormon and some Fundamentalist churches believe in personhood at conception; Judaism holds that it begins at birth and abortion is not murder; ensoulment theories vary widely within Protestantism. The religious community will never reach consensus on the definition of a “person” or when abortion is morally justified.
Put aside the problem that certain things about "personhood" are proven biological facts.   We know that each human person has a distinct genetic code, which exists from the moment of conception, and that the Human Genome Project can increasingly predict aspects of what a human person will be like from the code.  We also know that viability has been pushing back further and further from "birth" due to advances in medical science.   We also know because of advances in ultrasound technology that babies start looking like, well, babies, pretty early on.   Here's a child at 12 weeks:

Every Day In Every Speech

If I were leading the Republican Party in the Senate or House, I would make sure that, every day in every speech, Republicans in Congress were citing and quoting and reading into the record the following quote from 2006, when the debt ceiling was less than $10 trillion:

"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. . . . It is a sign that the U.S. government can't pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government's reckless fiscal policies. … Leadership means that 'the buck stops here.' Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America's debt limit."

Barack Obama's own words, in 2006.   We should make him eat them.

Girl of the Day - Faye!

I missed Faye Dunaway's birthday yesterday, as she turned 72.   In addition to Bonnie and Clyde, one of the iconic films of the 1960s, she was the female lead in two of my all-time favorite movies, the original of The Thomas Crown Affair, and the great great great Three Days of the Condor.   Her costumes in Thomas Crown were worth the price of admission: