Friday, July 29, 2011

That was then, this is now. Any questions?

"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure....  Leadership means that 'the buck stops here'...  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."
     - - Senator Barack Hussein Obama, 2006

Without Leadership the People Perish

Dem leaders on Capitol Hill say that Obama is 'invisible' on the budget debate.  Here's Scarborough on Morning Joe reporting the news.  OK, all together now:  no more affirmative action Presidents.  

This is what an Obama Boom looks like

Obama gets power and the recovery goes 'boom'.  Can  you say capital strike?  I knew you could.

2009 2nd Qtr:     -0.7%
2009 3rd Qtr:     1.7%
2009 4th Qtr      3.8%
2010 1st Qtr:    3.9%
2010 2nd Qtr:    3.8%
2010 3rd Qtr:    2.5%
2010 4th Qtr:    2.3%
2011 1st Qtr:    0.4%
2011 2nd Qtr:    1.3%

Hope 'n change indeed.

Apple has more cash on hand than the Feds.

Well that's because Apple creates value that people are willing to pay for...our Fearless Federal Overlords?  Not so much.  Frankly I'd like to see Apple with much more money than our Feds.  Apple creates wealth.  The Feds destroy it.

Here’s something to keep in mind as you follow this evening’s congressional debate over the debt ceiling.
According to the latest daily statement from the U.S. Treasury, the government had an operating cash balance of $73.8 billion at the end of the day yesterday.
Apple’s last earnings report (PDF here) showed that the company had $76.2 billion in cash and marketable securities at the end of June.
In other words, the world’s largest tech company has more cash than the world’s largest sovereign government.
That’s because Apple collects more money than it spends, while the U.S. government does not.

A growth industry?

Knifework: "Unemployed? Don't worry. On Aug. 3rd, I'll be hiring henchmen to aid me in taking over the remains of our doomed society."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Great Moments in the Drug War

I just love our twice paid Federal bureaucrats.  They make my job so easy.

U.S. grandmother strip-searched and jailed for 12 days in Canada after border officers mistake a jar of oil for heroin

Grandmother strip-searched and jailed for 12 days in Canada after a jar of motor oil in her car was mistaken for heroin
Janet Goodin of Minnesota was crossing the border to play bingo and visit family when border patrol guards mistook a container of motor oil for heroin

One trillion of new spending now for 1 trillion of 'cuts' from the baseline over the next ten years is a joke

Yet that's the 'hard core', 'cruel' Boehner 'radical tea party' plan.  Our Federal System is broken.  No one in it can seem to control either its spending or its rampant criminalization of American life.  The most corrupt system in America is the most powerful which makes it the most destructive.  Break it up.  Break it all up.

Steyn has more:

I agree with Andy. It’s not a dollar-for-dollar match if Obama gets an extra trillion bucks in his pocket now in return for 900-and-whatever billion stretched out over ten years. That formula’s a crock.

Furthermore, at some point the crock risks straining the ratings system beyond repair. Just as Obama and Boehner want credit for talking about cuts without having to cut anything, S&P and Moody’s want credit for musing on downgrading without actually having to do it. That’s understandable: downgrading the United States has consequences that downgrading Ireland and Portugal doesn’t. But, having flopped out in 2008, they want something on the record this time round.

I don’t think that will be enough. The European Union, you’ll recall, was fulminating against the ratings gang a couple of weeks back, and threatening to criminalize them. I regard the EU as a pestilence and have no use for the Euro, but their complaint is not without merit — as I noted in my weekend column. Nobody in Greece, Portugal, Spain, or Ireland is talking about “out years” and exciting plans for spending cuts in 2020. They’re getting on with it now — and they’re still being downgraded.

By contrast, both U.S. political parties are playing croquet on the lawn in August 1914 — and the ratings agencies are stringing along with them. Whatever the comparisons of debt-to-GDP ratios between Greece, Ireland, and the U.S., the actual hard dollar amount involved here is of an entirely different order. The Boehner plan tells us that real fiscal discipline is impossible within the U.S. political system. At some point, the ratings guys have to call them on it — or render their system meaningless.  

Nasa finds that Global Warming models seriously overstate potential warming

Why am I not surprised.

NASA satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth’s atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted, reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing. The study indicates far less future global warming will occur than United Nations computer models have predicted, and supports prior studies indicating increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide trap far less heat than alarmists have claimed.

We're all criminals now

More evidence of our fascist state run amuck.  This is another result of a enormous, fabulously wealthy Federal state - infinite numbers of laws passed criminalizing virtually everything.  States, with much more modest resources don't have the ability to oppress.  And if they do, other states stand ready to take their jobs and citizens.  Break it up, break it all up.

That's the term Overlawyered's Walter Olson quotes to describe what the government tried to do to race car legend Bobby Unser, who got lost on a snowmobile in a blizzard, and may or may not have gone on protected government land. It cost him over $860,000 to defend himself from Federal criminal charges. Yes, effectively, for the crime of getting lost in a blizzard:
In other ridiculousness, per the WSJ, from an article by Gary Fields and John R. Emshwiller:
Unauthorized use of the Smokey Bear image could land an offender in prison. So can unauthorized use of the slogan "Give a Hoot, Don't Pollute."
Written details of Unser's case here:
Because of this ordeal, Bobby has become an active supporter of overcriminalization reform and is determined to help see that no one is convicted for actions they took without any intending to violate a law or knowing that what they were doing was illegal or otherwise wrongful.
Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski complained of "string of recent cases in which courts have found that federal prosecutors overreached by trying to stretch criminal law beyond its proper bounds."
Brian Walsh writes at
The term "overcriminalization" may be unfamiliar, but the problem it describes is not. Vague and overbroad laws have become a prevalent part of our legal fabric. In fact, research shows that a single Congress introduces hundreds - and enacts dozens - of non-violent criminal offenses that are poorly drafted, redundant, and lack guilty-mind ("criminal-intent") safeguards adequate to protect the innocent.
Equally as disturbing has been the growth of criminal law in areas typically reserved for civil fines and administrative sanctions. Actions not otherwise morally blameworthy have increasingly become the source of criminal sanction.
The cases of Unser and Schoenwetter are prime examples of such unbridled growth in the criminal law. Unser was convicted of a federal crime for allegedly operating a snowmobile in a national wilderness. If he did indeed enter it, he did so unknowingly while he and a friend were lost for two days and two nights in a ground blizzard.
Schoenwetter spent five years in prison for "smuggling" lobsters into the U.S. in violation of Honduran fishing regulations, despite the fact that none of the regulations were valid at the time. Until last June, the federal "honest services" fraud statute was also another prime example of overcriminalization. The law criminalizes depriving "another of the intangible right of honest services," whatever that means. Violations could be punished by up to 20 years in prison. It had been used to charge thousands of individuals across the socioeconomic spectrum until all nine justices of the Supreme Court ruled in a set of three cases in June that the statute was unconstitutionally vague.
The only thing standing between you and criminal charges, fines, and maybe even imprisonment maybe somebody finding a crime to charge you with. In a world where much of life is criminalized, we're all criminals

Cato: No real cuts in the Boehner Plan

And this is the most conservative and 'totally unacceptable' budget package that the 'right wing' 'tea party' dominated House could pass.  The Federal government is a totally broken institution that is completely unmoored from fiscal reality.  Which is why we need to break it up.  Break it all up.  Because most assuredly if we don't it will break us up.

CATO: Boehner’s New Plan Doesn’t Actually Cut Spending. “The ‘cuts’ in the Boehner plan are only cuts from the CBO baseline, which is an assumed path of constantly rising spending. . . . The way to make real spending cuts is to abolish programs and agencies. But it’s been eight months since a landslide election that focused on the issue of spending cuts, and the Republican leadership hasn’t proposed any major terminations.”

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Homespun Humbug is at it again

Notwithstanding Warren Buffet's well oiled PR claims, the rich pay higher effective rates than the poor.  Warren is a cynical fraud who cares for nothing but amassing more money than any other human in history.  But of course when the Richest man in the World spouts lies, people listen and the debate is debauched.  I feel sorry for the greedy fool

Things gone wrong vs. things gone right

Chuck Klosterman:

"It's far easier to write why something is terrible than why it's good. If you're reviewing a film and you decide "This is a movie I don't like," basically you can take every element of the film and find the obvious flaw, or argue that it seems ridiculous, or like a parody of itself, or that it's not as good as something similar that was done in a previous film. What's hard to do is describe why you like something. Because ultimately, the reason things move people is very amorphous. You can be cerebral about things you hate, but most of the things you like tend to be very emotive."
— Chuck Klosterman
I think that this is often true, particularly for complex experiences like a bank or a church.  And it gets back to a critical point in customer satisfaction research:  we tend to focus on 'things gone wrong' because we can catalog 'defects' and apply a process to eliminate them.  'Things gone right' are often much less discrete - or in Klosterman's words: amorphous.  

For example, in our small start up church we speak of 'community' as being a core value.  But community is hard to define and looks different to different people.  Is community holding pot lucks?  Or a well timed smile?  But that doesn't let us off the hook, does it?  Regardless of its amorphousness (amorphoticity? amorpheonism?) the underlying value is real and our goal should be to demonstrate more and more dimensions of it.  To give it more substance, make it more real.

Of course fix things gone wrong, but we should keep our focus on making a lot of things go right.  Because if they are, then the occasional stumble isn't going to matter nearly as much.

The Drug War is beginning to collapse

The NAACP calls for it's end.  Given that it has led to half of all Black men being felons with ten percent incarcerated, it's far past time.  With the exception of major war, his has been the single biggest destroyer of poor families ever seen.  By doing so we will simply be moving towards the policies that our more civilized neighbors implemented long ago.

(Los Angeles, CA) – "Today the NAACP passed a historic resolution calling for an end to the "War on Drugs."  The resolution was voted on by a majority of delegates at the 102nd NAACP Annual Convention in Los Angeles, CA.  The overall message of the resolution is captured by its title: "A Call to End the War on Drugs, Allocate Funding to Investigate Substance Abuse Treatment, Education, and Opportunities in Communities of Color for A Better Tomorrow." 

“Today the NAACP has taken a major step towards equity, justice and effective law enforcement,” stated Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP.  “These flawed drug policies that have been mostly enforced in African American communities must be stopped and replaced with evidenced-based practices that address the root causes of drug use and abuse in America.”  

The resolution outlines the facts about the failed drug war, highlighting that the U.S. spends over $40 billion annually on the war on drugs, locking up low-level drug offenders – mostly from communities of color.  African Americans are in fact 13 times more likely to go to jail for the same drug-related offense than their white counterparts.

MP: Seems like a no-brainer.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the biggest looter of them all?

Easy, our most 'progressive', 'egalitarian' institution.  I didn't know that 'higher' referred to the price...

Thank goodness his work here is done.


Obama giving another primetime speech...

Wah wah wah, America.  Wah, wah wah waw.

New Polls: Obama in free fall

Take inexperience, add a pinch of naivete, lard it with several inches of ivy league arrogance and put in the White House during an economic crisis and two, no make that three wars and you get the most incompetent and increasingly one of the most unpopular Presidencies in recent history.

Button Hillary I Told U So 2012

As my kids would say:  Job, Obama.

Monday, July 25, 2011

This is so banal as to not be news

The only way that faculties become so disproportionately liberal is that they reward liberalism and punish conservatism.  Occam's razor and all that.  John Teirny of the NYT states the obvious (eloquently).

Regardless of the facts, men are pigs

IF WOMEN WERE SUDDENLY HIRING PROSTITUTES IN GREATER NUMBERS, IT WOULD BE A SIGN THAT SOMETHING WAS WRONG WITH MEN. And if men hire prostitutes in greater numbers, it’s a sign that . . . something’s wrong with men. The storyline is certainly consistent. . . .

Almost not worth mentioning any more

This is the profile of a parasitic state.

I say make those rich bastards pay their fair share...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Once again, it turns out that the 'omnicompetent state' is incompetent - Salt

First fat, then carbs, and now salt.  Essentially our state avatars got everything exactly wrong.  All facts are provisional and subject to revision.  This means that free markets in ideas are essential and that state intervention in support of one idea or another is.....anti-intellectual.

So precisely why should we trust them to order our lives?

For decades, policy makers have tried and failed to get Americans to eat less salt. In April 2010 the Institute of Medicine urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate the amount of salt that food manufacturers put into products; New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has already convinced 16 companies to do so voluntarily. But if the U.S. does conquer salt, what will we gain? Bland french fries, for sure. But a healthy nation? Not necessarily.

This week a meta-analysis of seven studies involving a total of 6,250 subjects in the American Journal of Hypertension found no strong evidence that cutting salt intake reduces the risk for heart attacks, strokes or death in people with normal or high blood pressure. In May European researchers publishing in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that the less sodium that study subjects excreted in their urine—an excellent measure of prior consumption—the greater their risk was of dying from heart disease. These findings call into question the common wisdom that excess salt is bad for you, but the evidence linking salt to heart disease has always been tenuous.

It's what you do that matters in America

Charlie Cook on NRO makes an important point:

From the New York Times:
Mr. [Anders] Romarheim[, a fellow at the Norwegian Institute for Defense Studies] said in some ways the homegrown nature of the attack made it harder for Norwegians to accept. “With 9/11 in America, people could ask, ‘Who are they?’ and could pour their rage out on someone else,” he said. “But we can’t disavow this person, he’s one of us.”
This is a strange comment, based upon a dangerous conceit. It is true that with 9/11, the terrorists were from outside the United States, but this was by no means the source of American “rage.” To take such a position is to presume that there is a special class of condemnation for the Other, which I do not believe exists. Americans were not outraged by the attacks of September 11 because the perpetrators were from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Lebanon, but because they murdered 3,000 innocent people and violated all civilized norms. What made the 19 hijackers distinctly not “one of us” was their behavior — not their ethnicity or their nationality. I cannot conceive that there would have been a lesser outpouring of anger had the 19 been from Cedar Rapids.
We have an instructive example of this: The four London bombers of July 7, 2005 were not just British-passport holders; three of them were actually born in the United Kingdom. This did not, contrary to Romarheim’s logic, make the British any less capable of disavowing the guilty. Nor should it. A better analog in the United States, perhaps, is Timothy McVeigh. Like Anders Behring Breivik, he was born in the country in which he committed his crimes and was superficially of the mainstream. But McVeigh was not just “disavowed” for carrying out the Oklahoma City bombing; he was executed for it.
This is a subtle, but important point. It should be made clear time and time again that the objection to terrorism is behavioral. It has nothing to do with one’s origin. It does not matter where the enemies of civilization are from. They must be disavowed when they cross a line as spectacularly as they do. I am afraid that, native or not, the fact that Anders Behring Breivik was capable calmly of gunning down children in such astonishing numbers very demonstrably removes him from being “one of us.” 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ready for Great Depression 2.0?

The amount of sovereign AAA debt has doubled over the past few years as corporate AAA shrank.  Why?  To avoid defaults and a marking to market of worldwide wealth, governments bailed out corporations, substituting their AAA with government AAA paper.  And then they added insult to injury by going on a huge debt fueled stimulus binge.  The result:  there is far more 'risk free' debt sloshing around the world.  But of course the world is no more productive, we just owe more.  And having the state owe it doesn't change that fact.  It just makes the big bust bigger when it comes.  It's even dawning on Paul Krugman that rearranging the debt chairs doesn't keep the Titanic from sinking.  Here's Vox Populi commenting on Krugman's latest screed:

It appears I was eight months early in predicting mainstream recognition of economic depression "towards the end of 2010" in RGD:

We can only hope that the politicians huddled in Washington and Brussels succeed in averting these threats. But here’s the thing: Even if we manage to avoid immediate catastrophe, the deals being struck on both sides of the Atlantic are almost guaranteed to make the broader economic slump worse.

In fact, policy makers seem determined to perpetuate what I’ve taken to calling the Lesser Depression, the prolonged era of high unemployment that began with the Great Recession of 2007-2009 and continues to this day, more than two years after the recession supposedly ended. 
Of course, Paul Krugman has no idea what he's talking about. This is not a lesser depression, it is alarger depression. The full scale and scope simply isn't apparent yet. 

That's why I referred to it as "the Great Depression 2.0" in RGD. In the 1930s, only the USA exacerbated the situation with Keynesian stimulus policies. In the 2000s, China, Japan, and the European countries all engaged in such policies, with China and Japan spending an even greater portion of their GDP on them than the USA. Therefore, we can expect the Great Depression 2.0 to be a genuinely worldwide one, as opposed to a mostly American one in the 1930s. It's not that Europe didn't experience a depression, but it wasn't known as a "Great" depression because it was largely over by 1933.

"Europe’s subsequent decline was gentler, shorter, and smaller as European governments did not engage in the same heroic attempts to fight the effects of the contraction that the U.S. government did. There was no European Reconstruction Finance Corporation or New Deal to prolong the downturn, so the European economies hit their collective nadir in 1932 and had already grown past their pre-depression levels in 1936. With the exception of Germany, which suffered from the economic complications of a socialist government, crushing war reparations, and the famous Weimar Republic hyperinflation, unemployment in Europe was lower than in the United States. While U.S. unemployment reached an estimated peak of 24.9 percent in 1933, British unemployment peaked at 17 percent in 1932 and French unemployment never even reached double digits. Japan saw neither a big pre-1929 boom nor a massive post-1929 bust...."
- RGD, p. 178

Social Democracy is ending so badly

William Klein’a story may sound familiar to his fellow graduates. After earning his bachelor’s in history from the College at Brockport, he found himself living in his parents’ Buffalo home, working the same $7.25-an-hour waiter job he had in high school. It wasn’t that there weren’t other jobs out there. It’s that they all seemed to want more education. Even tutoring at a for-profit learning center or leading tours at a historic site required a master’s. “It’s pretty apparent that with the degree I have right now, there are not too many jobs I would want to commit to,” Mr. Klein says.
So this fall, he will sharpen his marketability at Rutgers’ new master’s program in Jewish studies (think teaching, museums and fund-raising in the Jewish community). Jewish studies may not be the first thing that comes to mind as being the road to career advancement, and Mr. Klein is not sure exactly where the degree will lead him (he’d like to work for the Central Intelligence Agency in the Middle East). But he is sure of this: he needs a master’s. Browse professional job listings and it’s “bachelor’s required, master’s preferred.”
Well, a bachelor’s degree has become the new high-school diploma, so that makes sense. But how much actual value is being added?
Plus this: “While many new master’s are in so-called STEM areas — science, technology, engineering and math — humanities departments, once allergic to applied degrees, are recognizing that not everyone is ivory tower-bound and are drafting credentials for résumé boosting.”
Because that’s what we need most: more credentials for résumé boosting.
UPDATE: Reader Kenneth Willis writes: “When I entered law school at the University of Denver in 1974 the Dean gave a talk to the entering class in which he said the J.D. was the new B.A. I don’t think he knew then that so many bartenders would have both those degrees.”

Friday, July 22, 2011

College Loans: Ripoff for students, catnip for the rich and powerful

What's not to like:  colleges have tripled their take per student while radically increasing the number of marginal students they fleece, oops, I mean 'educate' and the banks, well the banks have set up a sweet deal by which the Feds guarantee them massive amounts of money for no risk or work.  Almost makes you sympathize with the nationalization of the loan market.  Except that the scam will just get worse with the Feds.

At Human Events Michael Barone has a fantastic column on a subject that Glenn Reynolds and others have been talking about for awhile now, the coming collapse of higher education:
We are still suffering from the bursting of the housing bubble created by low interest rates, lowered mortgage standards, and subsidies to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Those policies encouraged the granting of mortgages to people who should never have gotten them — and when they defaulted, the whole financial sector nearly collapsed.
Now some people see signs that another bubble is bursting. They call it the higher-education bubble.
For years, government has assumed it’s a good thing to go to college. College graduates tend to earn more money than non-college graduates.
Politicians of both parties have called for giving everybody a chance to go to college, just as they called for giving everybody a chance to buy a home.
So government has been subsidizing higher education with low-interest college loans, Pell grants, and cheap tuitions at state colleges and universities.
The predictable result is that higher education costs have risen much faster than inflation, much faster than personal incomes, much faster than the economy over the past 40 years.
I have a special interest in this subject and you can expect blog posts from me on it regularly at PJ Tatler. From December 2007 through the end of July 2009 I worked full-time first as a student loan debt collector and then as an assistant manager helping oversee a team of such “default prevention specialists.”
To begin to understand just how screwed up the situation is it’s important to realize how federally-insured student loans are so different than other kinds of debt. As a “collector” I barely actually collected any money. Instead my job primarily entailed tracking down borrowers so they could put their loan back into forbearance or deferment so they would not default. Borrowers for loans dispersed between the early ’90s and the passage of Obamacare have a wealth of perks for those who are unable or uninterested in making payments. Lose your job? No biggie, you’re eligible for 2-3 years worth of unemployment deferment. Have a job that’s not paying you much? Chances are you’ll be eligible to use some of your 3 years’ worth of economic hardship deferment. Have other bills that you’d rather pay instead of your student loan? No problem, Sallie Mae and many other lenders offer sometimes as much as FIVE YEARS worth of forbearance time. Well, what happens if you’ve burned through all the time and still want need time off from having to pay? Sallie Mae offered 3 years of Title IV administrative forbearance that had the same qualifications as the economic hardship deferment. Thus, as a collector I’d regularly come across borrowers who had gone YEARS without ever making a payment and the loan’s capitalized interest had just grown and grown and grown — much to the bank’s delight.
And what happens if someone actually does default on their student loan? First of all they have to be delinquent for around a year before that happens. At 270 days of delinquency the loan is eligible for default but it usually doesn’t actually happen until 330-370+ days of delinquency. (The banks are legally required to perform due diligence to try and prevent default. If adequate attempts have not been made to reach the borrower then it cannot be defaulted.) At default the guarantor (the federal government’s collection of your taxpayer dollars) reimburses the bank almost everything owed and the borrower’s loan is sold to a collection agency. At this point the debt will increase by another 20% or so in collection fees but the borrower will often have the opportunity to “rehabilitate” the loan to bring it back into good standing. Usually they do this by making a year or so of auto-debited or at least consecutive payments. Then the loan returns, though much larger. But what also comes back? ALL of their deferment and forbearance options are reset back to zero because it’s basically a new loan. Then the whole cat-and-mouse process of putting off paying the loan, trying to hide from collectors and skiptracers, and letting the interest capitalize more and more can just start again.
It should be pretty obvious why a system like this is unsustainable and doesn’t actually help anyone except the big banks and politicians in both parties.
UPDATE: I respond to one of the commenters below in a new Tatler post in which I explain why federally-insured student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

The only problem: Obama's not that bright

Which is what happens when you nominate your candidate on affirmative action grounds.  The Dems are very likely coming apart at the seams under the feckless leadership of the 'One'.  Live by racism and you will die by racism.

BYRON YORK: Obama Could Be Comeback Kid If He Mimics Clinton. “In his drive for re-election, Clinton needed Republican help, not just as a foil but as a source of policy initiatives. For a man who announced ‘the era of big government is over,’ Clinton had to be dragged kicking and screaming toward both balanced budget legislation and welfare reform — now seen as key accomplishments of his presidency. Republicans did the dragging, and when Clinton moved the GOP’s way, his prospects improved. The public also found that it liked divided government. Republicans were elected in 1994 because voters wanted to place a check on Clinton. Republicans were elected in 2010 because voters wanted to place a check on Obama. With that check in place, Obama might find that if he, like Clinton, were to move the GOP’s way, his prospects might improve.”

The American witch hunt begins

It was inevitable that the Obama-Holder justice department would go after one of its top donors.  Wait, that can't be right - but it is:  Rupert Murdoch is a huge contributor to Obama and the Dems.  Tragically for him, that won't stop the Holder inquisition.  Politicians don't stay bought and your blood is in the water, bucko.

The U.S. Justice Department is preparing subpoenas as part of preliminary investigations into News Corp. relating to alleged foreign bribery and alleged hacking of voicemail of Sept. 11 victims, according to a government official.
The issuance of such subpoenas, which would broadly seek relevant information from the company, requires approval by senior Justice Department leadership, which hasn’t yet happened, the person said.
The issuance of subpoenas would represent an escalation of scrutiny on the New York-based media company. While the company has sought to isolate the legal problems in the U.K., it has been bracing for increased scrutiny from both the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to people familiar with the company’s strategy.
The Justice Department has said it is looking into allegations that News Corp.’s now-defunct News of the World weekly in the U.K. paid bribes to British police. It has been unclear whether the Justice Department or the SEC have begun formal probes.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation separately has begun an inquiry into whether News Corp. employees tried to hack into voice mails of Sept. 11 victims, people familiar with the early-stage probe have said.

This would be miraculous if it happens

The Simpson Bowles plan was rational and reasonable and ignored by the man who requested it.  If all of the debt limit chicken results in it being passed then I will take everything I've said about commissions back.

From the description in the Times, it looks as though both sides are returning to the imperfect but still valuable Simpson-Bowles approach. Combining tax reform with real and immediate cuts and entitlement restructuring is the package most likely to garner the bipartisan support needed to pass. If that becomes the basis of an eventual deal, though, it will be worth pointing out that we could have had it in February and avoided all of the market uncertainty had Obama not completely ignored his own commission on the subject.

No more stinkin' commissions

When Washington wants to pass the buck, they start a new commission to study the problem.  Here's a great history of Federal debt commissions - 'The World's Greatest Fraud'

When the American church helped usher in Social Security, it abdicated its responsibility to care for the poor.

Social Democracy is not a complement to Christianity but an expensive, corrupt and cruel replacement.  Yet most of our spiritual leaders are at best silent and at worst active collaborators fleeing the field of battle.  Social Democracy is in the process of dying a messy death.  Will our Pastors and other leaders rouse themselves to offer God's replacement?  Or simply lobby the state for more, more, more?

The rest here.

If colleges just become finishing schools for 'young ladies', then their value will collaps

Unless you're getting a hard, technical degree you're wasting your time and money.  Run from the ripoff.

AT THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH DAKOTA, NO MEANS NO — and so does “Yes.” Colleges are going to wind up as finishing schools for girls, because they’re becoming so thoroughly anti-male. May they have joy of that future.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Zero Tolerance: Brutal, Cruel, Insane

Our courts are not on our side, they are on their side.  Looked at it objectively, America is a nation that increasingly hates its (in particular male) children.  I am becoming ashamed to be an American.

"A state appellate court panel says roughhousing with a sexual connotation by a pair of 14-year-old Somerset County boys was a crime that requires them to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives," reports the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.:
One of the boys, whose case went to trial, said he had sat on the faces of a pair of 12-year-old schoolmates with his bare buttocks in November 2008 "cause I thought it was funny and I was trying to get my friends to laugh," he told a family court judge.
But an act is considered criminal sexual contact if it is done for sexual gratification or to degrade or humiliate the victim, and punishable by lifetime registration--even for juveniles--under Megan's Law, which requires a person convicted of a sex crime against a child to notify police of changes of address or employment.
The trial judge concluded the teenager intended to humiliate or degrade his victims and found him guilty of criminal sexual contact. The second teenager who was implicated pleaded guilty to criminal sexual contact, and received the same penalty.
The appellate panel "acknowledged the severity of its decision, but said it was bound to uphold the law":

Congress lies without consequence

An alternative not open to us proles.  George Orwell's 1984 resonates more and more each day.  War is peace, love is hate and the 'truth' is a lie.  The only way to restore honesty, decency and effective governance is to break up the Federal Government's domestic role and hand it back to the states along with the taxing power.  Then 51 separate governments can compete on the basis of who delivers the best, most efficient governance.  And as with all competitive systems this one will be very bad for those that do not create value for consumers.

STEVE CARTER: Threat of Jail Would End U.S. Budget Gimmicks. “The Congress that passed Sarbanes-Oxley concluded that the only way to ensure transparency in corporate numbers was to require corporate officers to certify that their numbers were correct. The penalties for falsely certifying are substantial — fines of as much as $5 million, and up to 20 years in prison — on the theory that the fear of personal liability will reduce the incentive to exaggerate future revenue or conceal future liabilities. By contrast, congressional appropriators and federal agency heads, are under no similar constraints. True, the government does have its own accounting principles. But nobody faces liability if the numbers are off. Nobody has skin in the game.”

The capital strike in one easy chart

No growth in credit, no growth.  It's as simple as that.  People that don't have the confidence to borrow..or lend...don't have the confidence or wherewithal to hire.  You think our 'Savior' would know that.  Him bein' The One and all.

Fly Southwest

They're the only domestic airline that doesn't completely, utterly suck.  Not perfect but at least recognizably human.  The rest of 'em?  Zombies - and badly mannered ones at that.

SARAH HOYT ON the sorry state of airline travel. “On Monday on the shuttle to Atlanta we joked about the returning leg being cancelled. Then we got there. It had been cancelled. First they told us it was because of another storm in Denver. When a fellow passenger with a cell phone proved them wrong, then said it was still because of the same hail storm. AND THEN they claimed the problem was weather and they would not help us with hotel and/or food. We managed to get hotel after much argument, but when you add the shuttle to and from two airports, the dinner in Atlanta and dealing with luggage loss we’re out $500 again.”
I keep hearing stories of airlines lying about the reasons for cancellation — because if it’s weather they can get out of compensating passengers — and I’m surprised that some enterprising class-action lawyer hasn’t jumped in.

Well that's because taxes come off the top....

...and cost more than housing, food and utilities combined.  And it's still not nearly enough for our fearless twice paid public 'servants' to get by on.  We are getting such good value for our money.

Break it up, break it all up.

Home Depot Founder on The One's devastating impact on business

Hat Tip Jammie Wearing Fool.  In particular pay attention to the last paragraph about executive intimidation.

In a discussion about the current moribund job climate, Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus discusses the situation today contrasted with when he first started up the retail giant in 1978. Remarkably, the darkest days of Jimmy Carter were brighter than today's despair.
IBD: What's the single biggest impediment to job growth today?

Marcus: The U.S. government. Having built a small business into a big one, I can tell you that today the impediments that the government imposes are impossible to deal with. Home Depot would never have succeeded if we'd tried to start it today. Every day you see rules and regulations from a group of Washington bureaucrats who know nothing about running a business. And I mean every day. It's become stifling.

If you're a small businessman, the only way to deal with it is to work harder, put in more hours, and let people go. When you consider that something like 70% of the American people work for small businesses, you are talking about a big economic impact.

IBD: President Obama has promised to streamline and eliminate regulations. What's your take?

Marcus: His speeches are wonderful. His output is absolutely, incredibly bad. As he speaks about cutting out regulations, they are now producing thousands of pages of new ones. With just ObamaCare by itself, you have a 2,000 page bill that's probably going end up being 150,000 pages of regulations.
Brutal. Yet sadly, all too true.

Marcus isn't finished hammering the hapless Obama.
IBD: If you could sit down with Obama and talk to him about job creation, what would you say?

Marcus: I'm not sure Obama would understand anything that I'd say, because he's never really worked a day outside the political or legal area. He doesn't know how to make a payroll, he doesn't understand the problems businesses face. I would try to explain that the plight of the businessman is very reactive to Washington. As Washington piles on regulations and mandates, the impact is tremendous. I don't think he's a bad guy. I just think he has no knowledge of this.
He's wrong about one thing. Obama is a bad guy. This says it all.
IBD: Why don't more businesses speak out?

Marcus: They are frightened to death — frightened that they will have the IRS or SEC on them. In my 50 years in business, I have never seen executives of major companies who were more intimidated by an administration.
And people get angry at me when I describe this crowd as fascist.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The impact of state regulation and uncertainty on economic growth

Obamacare was passed in April of last year.  The Dodd-Frank mega regulation of the financial sector was passed in July 2010.  Employers and financial firms, facing massive new uncertainty and risk behaved like all investors do when risk rises:  they demanded higher returns to make an investment.  The result:  fewer investments and fewer  new jobs.  When the Obami are schlepping back to (a bankrupt, reeling) Illinois in 2013 they will have no one to blame but themselves.  Fools.

The history that Democrats have forgotten - Larry Summers

And for their failure to learn from history they are and will pay dearly.  The end of the Democratic coalition is nigh.  Killed by the existential greed of an attractive but feckless ideologue and his Chicago style machine sponsors.  It should be fun to watch.  I'll bring popcorn.

Greg Mankiw points to this Charlie Rose interview with Larry Summers, which includes this very good quote (starting around 21:50):
Never forget, never forget, and I think it’s very important for Democrats especially to remember this, that if Hitler had not come along, Franklin Roosevelt would have left office in 1941 with an unemployment rate in excess of 15 percent and an economic recovery strategy that had basically failed

Hope 'n Change - Minimum wage

Now I can understand why the Repubs might not care about raising the minimum wage:  their target constituencies would hardly be touched.  But why would the Dems want to screw so many people from groups that vote overwhelmingly for them?  Oh, wait, these cats don't vote and if they did, they vote Dem regardless.  And the unions?  Well they have money, you see.

"Each 10% increase in the minimum wage [since 2007] was accompanied by a decrease in employment of 1.2% for Hispanic males, 2.5% for white males and 6.5% for black males. When looking at hours worked, we saw a similar effect: Each 10% increase in the minimum wage reduced hours worked by 1.7% for Hispanic males, 3% for white males and 6.6% for black males.

Like abortion, the minimum wage is a place where the left's mask of 'compassion' for the weak and defenseless slips and their true leering lust for power shows through.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Strong private sector growth being dragged down by shrinking governement

In 2008-9 private sector output collapsed but with the 'stimulus', government output didn't.  Now private sector output is growing and is pulled down by a slightly shrinking public sector.  But normally coming out of such a deep recession, private sector growth should be much higher.  It is only two thirds of what it was in 2006 which was the fifth year of recovery.  The Obami want you to look at this as good but the truth is that the private sector should be growing twice as fast.  Capital strike anyone?

The definition of a leftists

One that prefers the inequality that comes from state action rather than the inequality that comes from voluntary trade.  Perhaps because said Leftist has the tools to sit at the top of the former but not the latter (see Professors, University for more detail on the species).

Civilian Fed workers more likely to die than be fired

Of course.  That's why they call them sinecures.  Twice paid and never fired.  Where do I get that gig?  There is slow train coming round the bend and a lot of our public 'servants' are going to wonder what hit them.

Warren Buffett: The lastest Obama-rube to self identify

It's no longer an exclusive club...

Obama: the new Gorby?

Perhaps we should call him Obamy.  The butcher's bill of social 'democracy' is coming due on his watch and boy is it a doozy.

RICHARD MINITER: “Like it or not, Obama is not the new FDR, but the new Gorbachev: a man forced to preside over the demise of a political system he desperately wants to save.” 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Good Question

What is it that lets people in a marriage think that they can deny their partner sex and have everything 
turn out okay?

People who get married are agreeing to have sex with just one person for the rest of their life (unless there are other arrangements spelled out). Does anyone think they'd agree to get married if they knew one would turn into none?

HT Advicegoddess.

If we're going to have a debt crisis, let's have it now

The bottom line is that Federal debt will increase until debt holders refuse to hold it.  Postponing the day of reckoning will just make the pain worse.  Let's have our crisis right now.  No increase in the debt limit. Letting the Feds default today when debt is less than 100 percent of GDP will be far less painful than waiting until hit hits Japanese levels of 250 percent.

Let's be men about it - deal with the problem under our watch rather than be the venal cowards that our parents and grandparents were.  No debt limit raise.  Fix the problem now.  Which means:  break it up, break it all up.  Hattip NRO.

Count me in with Mark Steyn and Andy McCarthy: no increase in the debt limit, no way, under any kind of deal. Let’s end the phoniness. (Which is epitomized by the very expression “debt limit.” If Congress can, and does, raise the limit any time expenditures look like breaking through it, in what sense is it a “limit”? The only real limit on how much you can borrow is how much other people are willing to lend you.) The crisis must come, and the longer it’s delayed, the worse it will be.

Italy is the world's third biggest debtor...

...which is one of the most frightening things I've seen lately.

Today's Libertarian Minute: Why have driver's licences?

From Instapundit.

Here’s a question: Why have driver’s licenses at all? No, really. Why not just make it about financial responsibility? If someone’s willing to insure you, or if you can self-insure, why shouldn’t you just be able to drive? Does the licensing process really do much to weed out bad or irresponsible drivers? Enough to justify the expense and irritation of the DMV? After all, if you drive badly or drunk, the DMV doesn’t have to pay out any damages for licensing you. Somebody who was at risk, and not mostly just a place to park overpaid state workers, would probably do a better — and less intrusive — job.

Obama: "Job Killing Tax Cuts"

A gaffe is when you say something that you secretly believe to be true....

A statement President Obama made halfway through his news conference last week was so unfathomable, so utterly incomprehensible, that befuddled White House stenographers simply gave up and tacked a “[sic]” next to it.
Here is what the president said: “If the American people looked at this, theyd say, boy, some of these decisions are tough, but they dont require us to gut Medicare or Social Security. They dont require us to stop helping young people go to college. They dont require us to stop helping families who’ve got a disabled child. They dont require us to violate our obligations to our veterans. And they dont require ‘job-killing tax cuts.’ [sic]”

Healthcare inflation in one easy chart

When dinner is free, I always opt for the Lobster and Dom.  People pay virtually nothing out of pocket for healthcare and therefore don't care about price or utilization.  Simple economics.  It is a testament to just how badly our Federal government is broken that we recently passed laws making this catastrophic inflation driver worse.  Yes we can!

From an editorial earlier this week in the WSJ:

"Almost all discussions about Medicare reform ignore one key factor: Medicare utilization is roughly 50% higher than private health-insurance utilization, even after adjusting for age and medical conditions. In other words, given two patients with similar health-care needs—one a Medicare beneficiary over age 65, the other an individual under 65 who has private health insurance—the senior will use nearly 50% more care.

Several factors help cause this substantial disparity. First and foremost is the lack of effective cost sharing. When people are insulated from the cost of a desirable product or service, they use more. Thus people who have comprehensive health coverage tend to use more care, and more expensive care—with no noticeable improvement in health outcomes—than those who have basic coverage or high deductibles.

In addition, Medicare's convoluted benefit structure encourages the purchase—either individually or through an employer—of various forms of supplemental insurance. Medicare covers roughly three-fourths of total costs, but about 85% of the Medicare population has expanded coverage with small to limited cost sharing. This additional cost insulation pushes seniors' out-of-pocket costs toward zero, thereby increasing overall utilization."

Obama generated twice as many new campaign contributors as jobs.

Nuff said.

PRIORITIES: Obama generated twice as many campaign contributors as new jobs through second quarter of 2011.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cal State tripled admins while adding almost no new faculty

This is characteristic of bureaucratic systems that are not subject to competitive markets.  Not having a true customer (someone interested in both outcomes and their costs) and facing no meaningful competition (someone that competes on all dimensions) the institution adds non value added programs and never prunes them.  All institutions whether they be automakers, charities or governments are subject to this type of bureaucratization which is why the first goal of policy makers should be to introduce as much true (cost and outcome) competition into the delivery of all goods and services.

Because frankly, we can't afford this shit anymore.

“WHERE HAS ALL THE MONEY GONE?” Thoughts On Administrative Bloat In Higher Education. “Based on data in the California State University Statistical Abstract, the number of full-time faculty in the whole CSU system rose from 11,614 to 12,019 between 1975 and 2008, an increase of only 3.5 percent. In the same time period the total number of administrators rose 221 percent, from 3,800 to 12,183. In 1975, there were three full time faculty members per administrator, but now there are actually slightly more administrators than full-time faculty.”

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Party of Malaise

30 Years ago a befuddled and deeply pessimistic Jimmy Carter gave his famous malaise speech.  The American people evaluated their sad sack President and decided to replace him with someone who actually believed in them.  Here we are again with another, albeit smoother sad sack in the White House.  And I believe the American people will tell him to buck up too, by sending him on a well deserved and long golfing vacation.

Leadership matters.

Does it feel like the country is falling apart now? Thirty-two years ago today, it seemed a lot worse when President Jimmy Carter delivered his famous “malaise” speech in which he seemed to blame the country’s problems on the people rather than their leaders. While Carter didn’t actually use the word “malaise” in the speech, his deep pessimism about America and its place in the world was an apt symbol of his failed presidency, especially in light of the resurgent optimism that characterized the national spirit in the years his successor Ronald Reagan sat in the White House.
The main point of his speech was the energy crisis of 1979 and his championing of measures such as import quotas and possible gas rationing. These ideas turned off more Americans than his attempt to rally them to embrace shared sacrifice. Carter’s talk about a “crisis of confidence” spoke louder about his own beliefs than that of the country. But reading the speech again today, what also strikes me is how similar Carter’s rhetoric sounds to some statements President Obama has made recently.