Friday, April 29, 2011

Sorrell v. IMS Health, Inc.

It's not every day your employer gets to plead its case before the US Supreme Court, but that was the case with mine earlier this week. A group of companies, led by my employer, sued the State of Vermont over legislation the state passed restricting the sale and provision of physician prescription information. IMS argued, among other things, that the law violated corporate free speech.

For those of you interested, a video summarizing both side's arguments can be found here.

Dr. K on Leading from Behind

Charles Krauthammer once again nails it.  President Obama is turning out to be inept in virtually all important areas of foreign and defense policy.

The Royal Wedding

I missed it, was caught up in other things.  Some good photos here.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Because I Can....

GWB, mountain biker:

BHO, not.

L'Affaire d' Birth Certificate

Well, it looks like this one is finally over.  Why it took so long to happen is beyond me.  Was the President trying to teach us all a lesson about privacy?  About propriety?  Dude, you're the President, and you could have settled this four years ago when you started the run and doubts were first raised.

That said, Donald Trump is a pimp and a showpony, a Republican of convenience, and a ridiculous excuse for a human being.  His picking up the banner of "Birtherism" was pure political opportunism, wielded by a man whose primary political aim seems to be using the "threat" of a run to drive interest in his other projects.

Perhaps now we can start talking about important things, like Mr. Obama's reckless debt expansion.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Obama, Ideology, and Competence

This will be a short little whip of a post, one I need to get to in order to break the streak of postless days I accumulated whilst bandying about the Caribbean avec mon chaton.

Since the time Senator Obama sewed up the Democratic nomination for President, I have been fairly critical of him and his policies on largely ideological grounds.  I knew as soon as he won that I was in for four long years (at least) of being incredibly at odds with the Administration.

That said, I allowed myself--like many others--to be lulled into thinking that while I wouldn't agree with their policies, at least the Obama team was going to be competent.  He seemed to do a good job assembling a cabinet and White House staff, and the transition seemed to be handled with aplomb.

Here we are, two years into the term, and not only do I disagree with them ideologically on almost everything--I now have come to question their basic competence.  You name the issue--especially in the past year--and they just don't seem to have it anymore.  Not only that, the President seems downright ambivalent about the job.  It seems they "shot their wad" on health care--and they simply have nothing left. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Separated At Birth: WI Recount Edition

Deer-in-the headlights WI Judge Kloppenburg, and; an actual deer in the headlights.

"Do you still feel that you are the winner of the election?" Watch her reaction at about 1:40.
h/t: Hot Air

We Shall Overcome...

What's going on in the world today when a perfectly good white transgendered woman can't take a pee in McDonald's without getting the crap kicked out of him her?

"The police report does not provide a motive, but quotes one of the suspects saying that the fight was 'over using a bathroom'."

Ah, diversity.

Friday, April 22, 2011

BFFFFA, Easter Edition

Get your Easter on.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter Break

Ironic that Goldwater's Ghost would have a spasm of activity right BEFORE I head off on a bit of an Easter Break with the Kitten and Kittens.

Mudge, GG, Sally, Thorn--have at it.  No radio show Monday night, and I'll get back to the blogging on Tuesday night.

I'll have limited internet access, so I'll verify/post comments daily.  

Cheers, all.

Fat, Gay And Stupid Is No Way To Go Through Life, Son.

From Nanny State news around the world, comes word that Malaysia has announced two new policies designed to "improve society and public health."

First, the country announced that it will tie student grades to body mass index. Malaysia has one of the highest obesity rates in Southeast Asia. Second, it was sending 66 school boys suspected of being gay to reform camp.

Gay camp? Isn't that kind of defeating the purpose? I mean, spending time in a cabin with 20 other chubby guys who share a common interest and all?

A Tale Of Two Candidates

At an event described as a "campaign-style" function outside of Washington DC yesterday, President Barack Obama blamed high gas prices at America's pumps on oil speculators. "It's true that a lot of what's driving oil prices up right now is not the lack of supply. There's enough supply. There's enough oil out there for world demand...the problem is, is that oil is sold on these world markets, and speculators and people make various bets, and they say, 'you know what, we think that maybe there's a twenty percent chance that something might happen in the Middle East that might disrupt oil supply. So we're going to bet that oil is going to go up real high' and that spikes up prices significantly," the President said.

Plausible enough. So was this scenario "true" in 2008, when he was campaigning (has he ever stopped?) for the Democratic presidential nomination?


Almost three years to the day earlier, Sen. Obama blamed high gas prices "on Washington and the political establishment that he says hasn't stood up to oil companies. Obama said soaring gas prices were the latest manifestation of a Washington establishment that won't tackle the problems facing most consumers, and that he would bring needed change."

And change he did.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Fantastic Furloughed

Has it come to this?...

A Florida unemployment agency is in hot water for allegedly spending over $14,000 of taxpayer money for 6,000 superhero capes it distributed to the jobless as part of its "Cape-A-Bility Challenge" public relations event. The program even had a villain, Dr. Evil Unemployment, whom the agency's clientele were asked to vanquish. The state unemployment director has asked for a full investigation.

Maybe he should send up the Bat-Signal.

Monday, April 18, 2011

We Can't Count On The Rich Enough To REALLY Soak Them

One of the problems with the rich is that their incomes are highly variable.  For instance, in one year, a household might have $5.5M in income--the next, a paltry $1.7M.  Now of course, either year is a pretty good year (for that household)--but if you are trying to plan government expenditures around predictable revenue streams--well, you'll have a rough time with the rich.  Raise their taxes, I say!  Though you won't really know what you're going to get....

Oh- sorry.  I should have said that we were talking about the Obamas.   

The President's Taxes

I call on President Obama and every member of Congress calling for an increase in income taxes to voluntarily pay the difference between their 2010 tax liability and what it WOULD HAVE BEEN in the year before the evil Bush TAX CUTS. 


Photographed at some gathering of young folks called Coachella, McLovin shows that being famous is all it takes.

Courtesy, The Superficial

Some Interesting Tax Data

From this mornng's WaPost.

Again, serious liberal tripe here.  Headline "For Richest, Federal Taxes Have Gone Down".  Yes.  And also the poorest.  In fact, EVERYONE's taxes went down as a result of the 2001/2003 tax cuts. But that doesn't fit the narrative....

So let me get this straight--if 45% of American households have zero tax liability--isn't it DAMN likely that a goodly number of the "rich don't pay enough taxes" crowd actually pay nothing themselves?

Just askin'.

Agenda for Tonight's Radio Show

Tune in tonight at 8PM Eastern to The Conservative Wahoo Live!  where our working agenda will be:

--Obama v. Ryan (Part Deux)
--NATO’s Performance in Libya
--Shared Sacrifice—Why Does That Never Mean Old People and the Middle Class?
--Capital Gains:  The Key to Investment or a Sop to Fatcats?
--Is Attaching A GPS Tracking Device to a Car without a Warrant Reasonable?
--Bush III (cont.)—Obama and Signing Statements

Listen at the link above, and call in at 347.637.2203 to join the conversation.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Radio Show Bleg

Ok folks--what do you want to talk about Monday night on The Conservative Wahoo Live?

Bob Schieffer and Face the Nation Show Why Conservatives Claim Media Bias

I happened to turn on Face the Nation this morning whilst lazily turning the wheel of my stationary bike in an attempt to look like I was exercising.  There were two guests--one was Congressman Paul Ryan, remoted in from Wisconsin, and the other was Senator Mark Warner, in studio with host Bob Schieffer.  The interviews were conducted serially.

The entire show will be posted here eventually, and when it is, I urge you to watch.  In it, you will be treated to a prima facie case of media bias, the kind that the media never seems to recognize in itself but which drives those of us who shake our heads in disbelief crazy.

Throughout the entire interview with Ryan (who is a cool customer, no doubt), Schieffer rarely uses the acceptable device of using statements of other politicians to raise criticisms of Ryan's plan.  No--Mr. Schieffer spends almost the entire interview voicing his OWN criticisms of Ryan's plan.  Especially galling was his attempt to (using the standard lefty talking points, natch) paint Ryan's tax reform plan as "tax cuts for the rich". Ryan does a good job of keeping his cool in the face of this ridiculosity, pointing time and again to the fact that HIS tax reform plan is the tax reform plan put forward by the President's own deficit reduction commission (Bowles/Simpson).  Yes it lowers rates (for everyone) but it eliminates loopholes and deductions too--leading to the same revenue (and more when the economy grows) and a fairer (by Ryan's estimation) system. Schieffer just can't seem to get his brain around this--to him, it's just cutting taxes for "rich people" (his words).

Cut next to the interview in-studio with Senator Mark Warner of Virginia (Dem).  Warner's a good egg all in all, and he's part of a group of six Senators (three of each) who are leading the charge to have much of the Bowles/Simpson plan codified into law.  Schieffer's entire demeanor is different with Warner.  He's not on the attack.  It's as if Warner's reputation as a "bi-partisan" gets him a pass.

Most scurrilous of all, Schieffer--either poorly briefed, stupid, or simply a partisan lefty hack--tries to get Warner to criticize Ryan's tax (reform) plan.  Warner doesn't do so, but he does take the opportunity to criticize other parts of Ryan's plan (nothing unfair about that).  Then--most astonishing of all--Warner goes on to explain HIS group's tax reform plan--which is virtually identical to the Bowles-Simpson plan--eliciting nary a SNIFF of "tax cuts for the rich" from Schieffer.  But Warner's plan IS Ryan's plan IS Bowles-Simpson--they are all essentially saying the same things--but when Ryan says it, Schieffer sees "tax cuts for rich people."  When Warner says it, Schieffer sees bipartisan work at real reform.

The trouble with soft lefties like Schieffer is that they have truly come to believe that their view IS the middle, or worse, that it is simply the most enlightened. 

Oh--almost forgot this one.  Apparently, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was on the talkies this morning, and on two separate shows, he indicated that Republican Leadership had assured the President "behind closed doors" that they would vote to raise the debt ceiling.  When Schieffer confronted Ryan with this, Ryan stated that he had NOT heard that, but that Republican leadership would work with the Administration to put forward a plan that cuts spending and allows an increase in the debt ceiling.  Schieffer was simply incredulous that Ryan didn't know that Republican leaders had made this assurance to the President, and he even got Warner to comment on it.

Did it ever occur to Bob Schieffer that Tim Geithner wasn't telling the truth?  That by publicly commenting on unverifiable statements, the Treasury Secretary might be-oh, posturing a bit, attempting to paint Republicans in a corner, following instructions from the White House?  Schieffer just buys HOOK LINE AND SINKER into what could be a political trick by the Administration--without once even CONSIDERING that this could be the case.  It's a better story for him if Paul Ryan's being left out to dry by Republican leaders.  Doesn't fit the narrative that Geithner could be lying....

Saturday, April 16, 2011

"Atlas Shrugged" and "The Passion of the Christ"

No dear friends, I haven't walked the Ayn Rand plank.  I'm not going to write a blog post comparing the book "Atlas Shrugged" and the life of Jesus.

What I wish to do is to discuss the movie "Atlas Shrugged" in comparison to the movie version of Jesus' life made by Mel Gibson in 2004.  Stay with me for a bit on this.  I promise that later in the post, I'll do a bit of a review of "Atlas Shrugged".

When I walked out of the the theater after having watched "The Passion of The Christ", I was greatly moved.  The utter brutality, meted out upon a figure of perfection, blamelessness and sin-lessness drove home for me the importance of a message I already grasped and in which I already believed.  I remember talking with my friend Dave (who had gone to the movie with me) and putting forth the notion that the movie would be very difficult to dispassionately review.

A believer seeing "The Passion of the Christ" could not help but be moved, could not help but dive deeply into one's own spirituality and religiosity, could not help but walk out of the theater not thinking that they had just watched a movie--but that they had just had an experience.  Someone in this condition could not possibly write a fair and dispassionate review of the movie--I knew then that I could not that night--and to this day, I would be unable to.

To the unbeliever, "The Passion of the Christ" was weird--the Aramaic and Latin, the over the top brutality, the subtle and not so subtle antisemitism, these elements would conspire to work against a positive review.  That said, what would virtually seal the deal--is the near certainty that an unbeliever simply would not get it.  Their non-belief, their hostility to the Bible story, their blatant irreligiousness--whatever the case may be--rendered them  incapable of understanding what it was about why what he or she was seeing might move those around him or her. 

Which brings me to "Atlas Shrugged", which I drove an hour in a driving rainstorm to see today.  To use some of the phraseology from above--I am a "believer".  I've read the book several times, I've listened to an unabridged version twice--I have come in the twenty or so years since I first read the book to regard it as a work of coherent political philosophy, even if some of its literary content was less coherent.  That political philosophy--called Objectivism by some--places a premium on the freedom of the individual mind and how that mind makes its way in the world. 

I have wanted this movie to be made from the first time I read the book.  That it hadn't seemed like some sort of a crime to me.  In the past few years, as momentum grew and it seemed that it FINALLY would be made, the talk of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie playing the leads (Hank Reardon and Dagny Taggart) seemed fitting to me. 

To say that I entered the theater today predisposed to like the movie I went to see is an understatement.  I was not capable of viewing it dispassionately and I am not capable of writing about it fairly.  I liked the movie.  I didn't love it, but I liked it.  I want to see the other two.  I hope it makes lots of money so that the production value on the next two increases.  I saw many flaws in its execution but I left knowing that it had succeeded (with me) and that I would be back.

But then, how would a "non-believer" view this movie?  How could someone hostile to the ideas of objectivism fairly review the movie?  Could they "get it"?  Could they appreciate the majesty of the John Galt Line's first train speeding over a bridge made of Reardon metal?  Could a person who has spent their lives cheering the results of collective bargaining appreciate the majesty of Dagny Taggart telling the slimy railroad union representative that his men would never work again on the John Galt Line if he persisted in his badgering?  I read Roger Ebert's review of the movie this morning--specifically thinking I might find that dispassionate and professional angle that I sought.  Here's a sample of what I got:

"I feel like my arm is all warmed up and I don’t have a game to pitch. I was primed to review "Atlas Shrugged." I figured it might provide a parable of Ayn Rand’s philosophy that I could discuss. For me, that philosophy reduces itself to: "I’m on board; pull up the lifeline." There are however people who take Ayn Rand even more seriously than comic-book fans take "Watchmen." I expect to receive learned and sarcastic lectures on the pathetic failings of my review."

There you have it.   1100 pages and fifty plus years of influencing conservative and libertarian political thought and Ebert breaks down the philosophy to "I'm on board, pull up the lifeline"?  How could anything he then went on to write be taken seriously?  How could a man so hostile to the basic ideas the movies seeks to treat be counted upon to review it fairly? 

Which got me thinking about the comparison to "The Passion of the Christ".  If you're hostile to the ideas of objectivism, you're unlikely to find anything about this movie you like, and you'll hate much of it.  If you're a fan of the ideas of objectivism, you'll love much of the dialogue, you'll recognize and root for certain characters, and you'll find yourself wishing it were done for $40M rather than $20M. 

Ok, you may be saying.  But what about those in the middle, CW?  With Christianity, there's not a whole lot of fence sitting--most either believe or don't.  You've got a third category with Rand--those who don't care.  Those who haven't been exposed.  Those who haven't read the book and who aren't particularly political.  What about them?

And here I say, is the difference in the review-ability of the movies.  This third way person could in fact adequately review the movie--and here is what I think they'd find:

1. A likable female lead who does a good job with her role.  She looks and acts the part of a driven industrialist.
2. A decent enough fellow playing Hank Reardon, but unremarkable.
3.  The production value was on par with a 1970's TV movie mini-series, like "Rich Man, Poor Man".   Not up to snuff with big time Hollywood--but then again, this wasn't a big time Hollywood movie.
4.  Because this reviewer would not have read the book and been exposed to the excessive and mind-numbing inner monologues of the characters--the movie characters would be confusing and poorly developed.  In the book, one comes to understand why Hank Reardon would put up with his mother, brother, and wife--all of whom deplore his wealth and drive.  But in the movie--such a review would find himself saying "why doesn't he just throw them out?"
5.  The movie jumps quickly from scene to scene in a bit of a helter-skelter way.  Condensing so much book into so little movie means they had to move fast--but one of the brilliant parts of the book was its description of places and things--which obviously, doesn't come through well in a movie. 

Ultimately, I think the third way review would not like this movie.  They would find all of the characters--the heroic and the banal--poorly developed and cartoonish--especially the banal ones (to be fair, they were also cartoonish in the book). 

What's better in the movie than in the book?  Well, for one thing, we're not treated to incessant inner monologues in which all of the Olympians are capable of reading each others minds.  Additionally, when Hank and Dagny get it on in this movie, it's a pretty straightforward post-wine romp in the hay, rather than the coupling of Zeus and Diana we read about in the book.

To conclude--if you're a conservative or libertarian, go see the movie.  If you're neither but have read the book, go see the movie.  If you're neither and reject the ideology of objectivism, don't waste your time and money.  And if you're neither and you are apolitical, wait for the DVD and download from Netflix.

Who is John Galt?

Well, of course I know--but I didn't find out after watching the movie yesterday.  Because I didn't go to the movie yesterday.  Yes, yes, advance tickets purchased ten days early and all didn't seem to register in my mind when I accepted two conference calls DURING THE MOVIE.  And so, I will have to wait.

Anyone else go?

Update:  Courtesy Instapundit and Youtube, below is some of the coverage of the premier.  I think the guy they got for Hank Reardon is EXACTLY as I imagined him.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Best Takedown of the President's Debt Speech, So Far

Ross Douthat nails it.  My favorite line:

Rarely has a politician talked so piously (and accurately) about the necessity of hard choices while proposing to make so few of them.


IT'S THE END OF [insert broken Dem cause here] AS WE KNOW IT

That loud whine you hear coming from the vicinity of the nation's capital today is not Air Force One's engines turning up; rather, it is the wailing about the FY12 budget that is being debated. The good news is, there is actually open debate being allowed and no, it's not a new concept, our Congress used to debate bills all the time before Nancy Pelosi became speaker. But, just as the whine of a jet engine has discernable harmonics or repetitive tones, so does the whining in the House of Representatives and the White House (Senate gets a pass since, like most fun-loving college kids, they are on Spring Break until May).

The harmonic tone coming from Washington is "It's the end of Medicare as we know it."

We heard this before in the 90's when the Republican Congress wrote and passed Welfare reform legislation: "It's the end of Welfare as we know it."

I wonder if Dems reacted with such horror to Dr. Jonas Salk: "It's the end of polio as we know it."

Mark Steyn correctly sums up the entire issue:

"Ending Medicare as we know it? Say it ain't so! Medicare, we hardly knew ye! It's an open question whether Americans will fall for one more chorus of the same old song from Baucus, Harkin, Podesta, and the other members of America's wrinkliest boy band. But, if this is the level on which the feckless patronizing spendaholics of the permanent governing class want to conduct the debate, bring it on:

Paul Ryan's plan would "end Medicare as we know it."

The Democrats' "plan" - business as usual - will end America as we know it.

"Literally," as Representative Wasserman-Schultz would say. One way or another, Medicare as we know it is going to end. So, if you think an unsustainable 1960s welfare program is as permanent a feature as the earth and sky, you're in for a shock. It's just a question of whether, after the shock, what's left looks like Japan or looks like Haiti."'

I wish every time a Dem stood up and repeated "It's the end of Medicare as we know it" the entire House Majority would stand up and sing "And I feel fiiiiinnnnnneee"

Renovation Progress

We're getting there.  More photos can be found here.

Big Fat Friday Free For All

Well?  What's on your mind?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Joe Biden's Thoughts on Obama's Debt Cutting Plan

President's "Me Too" Plan Falls Short

The President hopped in a motorcade today that carbon-burned its way down the street all the way to GW University where he delivered his "me too" speech on the deficit in order to show that Paul Ryan wasn't the only big man in town.  In a speech in which it took him 24 minutes to deliver his FIRST policy idea, he began with a rambling dissertation on what America means to him, followed by a predictable misrepresentation of Paul Ryan's plan designed to make sure every poor person and old person in America remained convinced that Republicans were out to get them.

A couple of things stood out in the speech for me today.

--The President was honest and blunt with his own party when it came to the discussion of having to reform entitlement spending in order to save the programs.  It's a shame he wasn't able to muster the same clarity and sensibility in his evaluation of Mr. Ryan's plans to do the same thing.
--As I predicted here a few days ago, a centerpiece of Mr. Obama's approach is going to be tax increases, specifically, raising the current tax rates to their pre-President Bush levels.  Interestingly, the President referred to "new tax breaks" several times in the speech, as if his agreement with the Republicans in December to not increase tax rate, counted somehow as a "tax break".  The income tax rates that have existed in this country since 2003 are the baseline, and any changes to those rates are henceforth to be referred to as "increases" or "cuts" depending in the direction the adjustment is made.
--The President spoke several times of "shared" sacrifice, and just as many times seemed to inoculate a broad swath of our society from such pain's impact.  Who you ask?  "Seniors"--as if simply getting old in our society was in some way a rationale for being treated differently.  Nonsense.  Seniors with means should be treated no differently from others in the same tax bracket or the same economic strata.  NEED should be the determinant of benefit, not AGE.
--The President made a really loony statement when he asserted that "most" wealthy Americans agreed with him that they should pay higher taxes in order to "give more back" to the country.  What is his evidence for this?  "We just haven't asked them" was further nuance added to this silliness.
--I am all for eliminating certain deductions in the tax code (mortgage interest deduction chief among them), but I refer to such ideas by what they are--tax increases.  The President's selection of the tortured "spending reductions in the tax code" is just another ridiculous example of Washingtonspeak.

The best part of the speech came toward the end when he spoke of the "sharp and vigorous" debate that had attended to issues of this kind in the past, and that would assuredly accompany this era.  He said that such a debate was not a bad thing.  I agree with him.  These are big and important issues, the kinds of issues worth a protracted and spirited tussle.  I am quite certain he is going to get one.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Best Song, Ever

Because I can.

Of Course He Does....

President Obama regrets his vote against raising the debt ceiling. 

In Praise of Marx

No, seriously.  Not me praising Marx--but SOMEONE praising Marx

HT: The Browser

Agenda for Tonight's Radio Show

Here's the working agenda for tonight's Conservative Wahoo Live! at 8PM Eastern:

--The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of The Budget Deal
--Mr. Obama v. Mr. Ryan on Debt Reduction
--Donald Trump on the Stump?
--Libya (cont.)
--The Republican Winning Streak Continues—Wisconsin Supreme Court
--The Masters—is Tiger Back?

Dial in to join in the conversation at 347.637.2203 or just listen in at the link above.  For those who can't join live, the broadcasts are cached at the link above for your listening pleasure at your convenience.

Four More Days....

Who is John Galt?

On the Viewing of Foreign Films

I realize that this column will do nothing to slow down the Hammer train view of me as an effete, elitist, Country Club Republican, but I must admit to a new guilty pleasure--foreign language films.  It seems the combination of Netflix and Apple TV conspires to serve up for me a menu of the best movies produced from around the world.  No longer do I simply have the option to 1) rent bad Hollywood movies and a few good ones 2) on-demand bad Hollywood movies and a few good ones or 3) sign up for cable channels that run bad Hollywood movies and a few good ones now and then.  Because of the wonders of the interwebs, I am able to select from the moviemaking of the entire world, and it is wonderful.

Why do I like foreign films so much?  Mostly, it is a cheap way to travel.  Through these movies, I see places I've been and loved or to which I wish someday to go.  I get to see how people live, what they wear, what they drive, what they feed their families, what their furniture looks like, what their offices look like.  I finished watching "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" the other day (a fine series of three films made in Sweden) and I was able to watch a dramatization of a Swedish criminal trial--a very different process than a US trial, made even more different by the interesting arrangement of the courtroom (defense and prosecution faced each other on the long sides of a rectangle, with the judge(s) on one end and a witness chair on the other).  I watched "Talk to Her" yesterday, and was treated to a wonderfully made story of friendship--though it was downright screwy at times and the subject matter somewhat disturbing.

The bottom line is that at least for the time being, these web content services are delivering the goods--the best movies from all over the world--while still serving up a steady diet of Hollywood crap.  I'll take the good stuff.

Instapundit on a Reasonable Tax Increase

"SO OBAMA’S PEOPLE ARE TALKING TAX INCREASES AGAIN. Here’s my proposal: A 50% surtax on anything earned within five years after leaving the federal government, above whatever the federal salary was. Leave a $150K job at the White House, take a $1M job with Goldman, Sachs, pay a $425K surtax. Some House Republican should add this to a bill and watch the Dems react."

Global Warming Causes...Global Cooling?

Coolest March since 1994.

HT:  Tigerhawk.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Obama Hops on Ryan's Bandwagon

Clearly with a chance in the 2012 budget to outline HIS administration's plan to rein in spending and attack the debt and deficits, the President punted, putting forth instead a bloated, unimaginative plan that increases both.

Last week, Paul Ryan put forward a visionary plan to actually REFORM government in his Republican 2012 budget plan.

Now it seems Mr. Obama has gotten religion, as his Senior Adviser David Plouffe appeared on the Sunday talkies to reveal that the President will release his own long-term deficit and debt reduction plan this week.

Look for:  1) a personal income tax increase 2) no turning back on Obamacare and 3) much talk of "efficiency".

A Dissenting View on Boehner as Genius

Dan Riehl has a strong dissent up on the growing view of Boehner as genius.  I'm inclined to think he's better than many of us thought he was, and not nearly so good as the spin machine is now making him out to be. 

H/T  Instapundit

Why Obama Will Not Win in 2012

Here's an interesting view from someone with whom I am clearly not ideologically aligned, though he does make a lot of sense in many of his assertions.

Bottom line though?  For now, I think he's wrong.  I think Mr. Obama is putting himself into the Bill Clinton post 1994 chair, one in which he'll demonstrate how reasonable he is while appearing to "cut" the budget, and he'll win with slightly less of a majority than he did in 2008. 

Mickey Kaus Unconvers the Conspiracy

When federal agencies continue to hire $170K Equal Opportunity Compliance Officers, there is clearly not a sense of cutting the budget in DC.  There is a sense of making sure the water's deep enough for fellow bureaucrats. 

Radio Show Bleg

Ok folks, what do you want to talk about on the radio showgram tomorrow night?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Budget Deal

Well, it looks like the executive and the legislative branches got it together, finally.  Presumably, the "smoke-break government" (my new term for Boehner and Obama huffing down butts on the White House veranda) has a chance to work.  Nearly $40B in spending cuts is nothing to sneeze at, and John Boehner seems to have emerged from this tussle strengthened and admired. 

I am glad that the pols were able to get this thing done--and I hope it holds.  There will be some drama in the days ahead, but in the end, we will be able to move onto less contentious things--you know, like Paul Ryan's 2012 budget and the debt ceiling.....

OMG!!! GOP! You've GOT to Fold NOW!

Who would've thought a fake-Congressman would be the political tour-de-force with which the GoP would have to contend in this budget battle? But make no mistake, Delegate E. H. Norton has unsheathed her sword and may well have dealt the mortal blow to Republicans:

"WASHINGTON - Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) said on Friday that if the government does shutdown she will donate her salary for each day to non-profit organizations that are working to for D.C. voting rights and statehood."

Wow! Powerful stuff. What commitment to the cause of District statehood. I guess those non-profits are on their own once she gets back to pseudo-governing?

"Norton has also declared her entire staff essential, which means they will be on the job during a shutdown, but [her personal hairdresser] will not be guaranteed pay"

Okay, [that] was just mean of me but I can't help my rhetoric, being a member of the right and all.

As for DC statehood--a non-starter. Why should a city get two senators and a representative? I say carve out the center for government, evict all residents except the President and his immediate family, make it a place of federal government work only and give the rest to Maryland. They're so like-minded politically and PG County wouldn't be the worst county in Maryland any more. And for God's sake--don't even think about bringing that colossal mess into Virginia.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Iowahawk on Lindsey Graham on Freedom of Speech

Behold, the incomparable Iowahawk.  

Mark Sanford needs to be spooling up to run against Lindsey Grahm in a primary!

Birds Gotta Fly, Fish Gotta Swim.....

As the clock ticks on a shutdown of the Federal Government, I am amused by some of my Facebook friends' views on the matter.  Folks like to use Facebook to spout off on what ails them, and I'm no exception.  But I've seen a few of my Dem friends rallying around their flag and blaming where we are on Speaker Boehner.  Doing so shows a remarkable lack of sophistication from a group of folks who usually claim to be so darn smart (whilst we Repubs are the knuckle-draggers).

The Tea Party candidates were elected by their constituents to cut the size of government.  They are exerting pressure to do what they were elected to to.

The Liberal Democrats in the Congress were elected by their constituents to protect spending and the social welfare architecture.

Moderates in both parties were elected by their constituents to find compromise.

To my estimation, Congress is doing EXACTLY what we (all of us) elected them to do.  It is acting EXACTLY as it should be expected to act.  Anyone who hopes or wishes for better is naive.

But--this does not take Congress off the hook in a search for villains.  It simply takes THIS Congress off the hook.  What cannot be explained adequately by even the most sophisticated observer of Congress is why the previous Congress--which had majorities in the House and Senate--FAILED to pass a budget which would have averted ALL OF THIS?  If you apply the logic above, you are left with the inescapable conclusion that the Democrats controlling the Executive and the Legislative Branches would have done what they were elected to do, and that they controlled all the levers of power to do exactly that.  But they failed. Worse, they failed in a most cravenly political manner--they pushed off passing a budget because they believed it would impact their election results in 2010.  How'd that strategy work for you, Nancy, Harry and Barack? 

Big Fat Friday Free For All

Ok folks, let it rip!  What's on your minds this Fat Friday?

The Rhetoric Of Failure

"The other side believes that people have a right to keep what they earn, and that taxing them to support others, no matter how needy, amounts to theft. That's what lies behind the modern right's fondness for violent rhetoric."

To what then would Krugman attribute the modern left's fondness for similar hysterics?

Pelosi calls GOP plan 'War on Women'

Dem: Shutdown equivalent of bombing innocent civilians

Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee: "Maybe we can just imagine the tragic scenes of Hurricane Katrina, when nursing home residents were pouring out of nursing homes in the wake of the disaster...Well let me tell you, we've got Hurricane Ryan, and there's a disaster coming."

I do agree with Rep. Jackson-Lee on one thing: there is a disaster coming, but it's not a disaster of Ryan's making.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

And Then...Depression Set In

No matter how good of a day you think you've had, chances are Richard Branson's was much better.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dear Woman...

...get me a beer.

The Libertarians Weigh In On Ryan's Plan

The folks over at Reason.Com have weighed in on Representative Paul Ryan's budget proposal; they've found stuff they like, they dislike, and they hate.  Mostly though, it is a pretty fair assessment of the merits of Ryan's plan and a superb exposition on why libertarianism makes for great late-night dorm conversation among wonks, but it ultimately an ideology bereft of political savvy and attraction for a wide swath of voters.

Gillespie and de Rugy do a great job setting up their piece by savaging President Obama's unserious 2012 budget proposal, a proposal made with the understanding that it is based upon a 2011 budget baseline that the Democrat-controlled Congress did not pass.  Not only does it raise spending and increase debt and deficits, but it does so at a shocking rate.

Into the mix steps Wisconsin Wunderkind Paul Ryan and his budget plan--a plan that dramatically decreases the debt, slows spending to sustainable levels and substantially decreases government spending as a proportion of GDP.

Reason's objections?  It doesn't go far enough.  It doesn't means test all government benefits.  It doesn't touch Social Security.  It doesn't cut the defense budget (I agree with this criticism--we can cut the defense budget, if we decide to spend the money on capabilities that make sense for us, rather than rebuilding a colossal Army to fight ever-war wherever we want).  It doesn't eliminate wholesale, entire departments of government.

So while I agree with Reason on Ryan's punting on defense cuts, what I see from them are the criticisms of those who rarely govern, who take great pride in not being Republicans or Democrats, and who cleave to ideological stakes irrespective of the obvious political costs of doing so.  Reform Social Security?  Great idea.  Except the political costs of doing so are IMMENSE.  Tactically, leaving Social Security along creates room to run, as virtually everything else is then placed on the table.

So, two cheers for Reason.  They've done a fair job analyzing the plan, but then they go too far in their criticisms--as they come from a place of pride in being ever on the outside looking in.

A Representation of the Budget Mess

Paul Ryan on the Republican Budget

I haven't yet had time to read and digest the proposal--lots to talk about here I'm sure.

Here's what Paul Ryan has to say about what we face.  This guy is the real deal.

UPDATE:  Here's a fairly down the middle assessment of Ryan's plan

Monday, April 4, 2011

KSM To Be Tried At Gitmo?

It doesn't appear likely that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be winging it to Gotham any time soon. Both NBC and the AP are reporting that KSM and four other co-conspirators will be facing military tribunals instead of civilian trials.

Ultimately, a good call - but the one that should have been made all along.
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