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Friday, April 30, 2010
Papers Please: Democrat Edition
While the debate rages over Arizona’s new immigration law (as you can guess, my opinion is line with the traditional libertarian views expressed eloquently by Cato, Reason and McArdle), let it not be said that the Democrats are the defenders of civil liberties. Apparently, their version of immigration reform is going to include a national ID card complete with biometric information.
The ACLU, bless them, has blown a gasket.
To be fair, you usually need ID for a job anyway. But there’s a large gap between your ordinary driver’s license and what the Democrats want. Specifically, the word “biometric”.
Damn straight. Once this biometric database is created, it will almost certainly be used by law enforcement. We can then expect partial fingerprints to produce the same problems that cold searches of DNA databases are creating.
(The above referenced article bears a mention. It’s about cold cases being broken through searches of DNA databases of criminals. The problem is that juries are told, or example, that the chance of crime scene DNA matching criminal X is in a million But if you have a million names in your database, the chance of matching someone at random is actually two out of three. You can imagine what might happen with a fingerprint database of 300 million, especially with an Administration inventing entirely new categories of crime.)
The Democrats dust off the old mantra—used just this week by people defending the Arizona bill—that we have to show ID when we buy alcohol or fly an airplane. But those are choices; this is a requirement. (Although I will lay good odds that this new ID card will not be required to vote.) And again, biometric information is not required in those circumstances.
Then there’s this:
I expect this is just the tip of the iceberg for Unintended Consequences. Eventually, the Democrats will figure out that the insurance mandate can be enforced with this national ID.
Not much changes in politics. The Democrats who were screaming about Arizona are now embracing a national biometric ID card. And it’s a near certainty that the Republicans defending the Arizona law will be screaming about the national ID card. In the meantime, while they play their game of bullshit ping-pong, we ordinary Americans sit in the middle, with our freedom being slowly eaten away.
Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/30/10 at 04:55 PM in Politics Law, & Economics • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Thursday, April 29, 2010
You can’t sell them, but government can take it…
You or I don’t have the right to sell our organs (or parts of them), but in a brilliant display of what the progressives stand for, New York State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky - a demcorat, and a damned liberal one while you are at it since camouflages his party affiliation - now wants to use the power of government to take them. You can’t make this shit up. These morons not only balk at anyone proposing people be allowed to decide if they want to sell their organs – they will take advantage of the poor! – but accuse such people of being motivated by evil greed. WTF is the motivation that drives this kind of pond scum to think government can then simply take them? Even if I am dead they are mine and my families, not the governments! Is this idiotic idea more logical devolution of where Obamacare is taking us all to?
Posted by AlexinCT on 04/29/10 at 12:44 PM in Decline of Western Civilization Health Care Left Wing Idiocy Politics Law, & Economics • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
This is, to be frank, bullshit. The GOP may be run by fundamentalist lunatics or not, but that has nothing to do with the surge in support for Rubio over Crist.
After earning an “A” for fiscal responsibility from Cato, Crist quickly went off the deep end, passing massive tax hikes and spending increases. When the stimulus was passed, Crist didn’t just accept the money; he used it to start new programs rather than simply shore up Florida’s finances for one year and get things in order. This has jeopardized Florida’s long-term fiscal future by, among other things, expanding hurricane insurance. Recently, he vetoed a plan to put a few cracks in the cartel that is Florida’s pubic education system. He did this not out of principle but to curry favor with the teachers’ unions in preparation for an independent run at the Senate.
Crist isn’t losing the Senate race because he’s a moderate or because he’s gay. This state elected him governor, for Christ’s sake. He’s losing because his record has devolved into pure fiscal recklessness and pandering. His independent run is the apotheosis of a career defined by opportunism and self-promotion rather than principle. He’s not Lindsey Graham; he’s George Bush with better hair.
Moreover, Florida is a state where a conservative can win. The place to run moderates like Crist, if you want to pretend he is one, is the northeast or the midwest.
Read the whole thing. I’ve talked about my concern that the GOP is drifting into Obama Derangement Syndrome. But the support Crist has found among liberals and defected conservatives is a sign of Tea Party Derangement Syndrome. They think that if the Tea Partiers hate Crist, he must be a wonderful moderate sensible conservative. He is anything but.
Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/29/10 at 08:26 AM in Elections Election 2010 • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
The debate over fiscal reform is heating up. We’re almost to the 0.2 Obamacares in intensity. The GOP finally unveiled their version of the Dodd bill and it is ... better. There are a lot of similarities (the $50 billion liquidation fund; regulation of hedge funds and derivatives. But there are key differences.
Personally, I would prefer to see the GSEs sliced up and sold off. The government has no business running a mortgage industry. But at least this does what the Republicans tried to do (and fiscal “hero” Barney Frank blocked) several years ago—get some outside supervision of the place where politicos go to get rich.
Read the whole thing, which is very detailed. There’s a lot I don’t like, but this is a big improvement over the Dodd bill and maybe a sign that the GOP is slowly coming to their senses about governing the country. I’m sure the Limbaughs of the world will explode if the GOP does anything other than filibuster. But that way lies political suicide.
The other news is the continuing Goldman Sachs show. The current cris de coeur is that Goldman continued to sell mortgage-backed securities while they bet against them. But as Bainbridge points out, this is not illegal:
In fact, at least one prominent person —holy shit, it’s Bill Clinton!—is not sure Goldman Sachs broke any laws.
That’s our former President, sounding more sensible than all the grandstanding morons on Capital Hill combined.
Congress has been looking to beat up some Wall Street execs too long to let little matters of law and business sense stand in the way. But fortunately, it’s looking cooler heads may prevail when it comes to actually doing something about the fiscal crisis. I’m not holding my breath—Sarbanes-Oxley had heavy bipartisan support. But I’m slightly less gloomy than I was yesterday.
Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/28/10 at 07:22 PM in Politics Law, & Economics • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
The Dodd Bill
How on Earth Chris Dodd, who was neck deep in the last financial crisis, became the guru of financial reform is beyond me. The man has a spectacular record of failure when it comes to regulating businesses.
It’s been tough keeping up with the debate on financial reform as it rolls. The Democrats can only scream about evil Wall Street bankers while the Republicans are responding with Frank Luntz talking points. The media is, as usual, worthless.
I’m sure this will never be abused.
This is something the Democrats have wanted for a long time. They think we’re all idiots and will invest all our money in penguin farms if our shoulders aren’t looked over. It was for this reason, remember, that they opposed Social Security reform.
The more I look at this bill, the more I see the pattern we have seen in, for example CPSI, which I talked about in a post this weekend. It’s a pattern of pretending to protect the little guy while really enriching and empowering special interests. Heritage breaks down specifically how this bill favors the big corporations over little businesses and how it takes a “one size fits all” approach to regulation.
We need to stop judging legislation by its intentions. We need to not be stampeded toward passage because we’re under the impression that it will finally get Wall Street under control and stick it to those evil bankers. We need to actually look at what the bill fucking does and act appropriately.
Let’s not do to financial markets what we did to health care and the auto industry. Let’s not make the same mistake we made with the Sarbanes-Oxley disaster. Now is not the time to pass anything that comes down to look like we’re getting something done; now is the time to act carefully, for once. A good bill passed later is better than a bad bill passed now.
Update: More from Cato on special dispensations within the Dodd Bill. Again, why is this guy the hero of financial reform when his most significant recent achievement was making sure AIG’s bailout protected high-end salaries and bonuses? When does he become accountable?
Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/27/10 at 03:05 PM in Politics Law, & Economics • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Government Motors has been running ads claiming they’ve repaid their government loans. Bullshit says Shikha Dalmia:
It actually gets worse. They are applying for a $10 billion low-interest loan from DOE to work on fuel efficient cars. In addition, they’re delaying the date at which they will make a public offering to sell their stock. In short, the company is in a worse position now than they were a year ago.
I remind you that the automakers are the biggest drain on the TARP. The evil bankers, who are today the subject of a Congressional
Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/27/10 at 11:00 AM in Politics Law, & Economics • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Indoctrinate My Parents
The NYT highlights a new paradigm for the environment. Using kids to indoctrinate their parents into the Way of the Green. A little light fisking music maestro.
The reason the impact has lessened, as I noted in an earlier post, is that things have gotten better over the last 40 years. Our air and water are cleaner; our utilities and cars are cleaner and more efficient; our lives are healthier, happier and longer. Earth Day was a lot more urgent when cities were drowning in smog and lakes were dying. The remaining problems—resource shortages, overfishing, etc.—have solutions that are being worked on. As for global warming, it’s not at all clear how big a problem that’s going to be.
Am I the only one a little creeped out by this? We’re one step away from using kids to inform on parents.
(I’ll also note that what I call “The Hope of The Exponent”—that 100 will teach 100 will teach 100, etc.—is usually the sign of desperate movement.)
I’m all in favor of getting rid of bottled water (voluntarily). But washing in cold water? Walking to work? You don’t want to be anywhere on time and smelling good, do you? All conservation is not equal. You have to weigh how much money you are saving against how much inconvenience you’re creating. Kids are notoriously bad at this, as anyone who has spent an hour arguing with a kid about socks can relate.
Bullshit. As Don Boudreaux notes:
Children who express concern about the environment do so because they are impressionable and are, more often than not, being told doom and gloom stories by their teachers. Sal 11000 Beta is not old enough for this, but all of my friends with older children have had the experience of their children coming home from school, filled with despair that the planet is being destroyed. Even in my kid’s day care, she had to bring a list of three things she was doing to save the planet.
Children believe the planet is dying, not because they are inherently attuned to the Earth, but because their teachers tell them the planet is dying. Even problems that have long been on the upswing—deforestation, acid rain and overpopulation—are still trotted out as the End of the World in our nation’s classrooms. I once spent part of an afternoon deprogramming a nephew about the deforestation of North America.
The NYT story gets even worse from what I’ve quoted above. It praises kids for “not thinking about limitations, but about good ideas”. But our world is defined by limitations. And the problem with green policy being implemented is not that people don’t care or are unaware of environmental concerns. It’s that there are always tradeoffs involved and not everyone agrees on the relative weights of the important concerns.
Honestly, Earth Day brings out the worst ideas. This article is literally praising the indoctrination of impressionable kids so that they can be used to emotionally blackmail their parents into engaging in “green” activities (which are often not green at all).
Sigh. At least there’s always George Carlin to set us right.
Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/25/10 at 06:35 PM in Science and Technology • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
The March of the CPSIA
Periodically, I’ve been noting the results of the CPSIA. This is the legislation supposedly aimed at getting lead out of our toys. However, because it applies to thrift stores, small toy makers and even garage sales, the primary effect is to bankrupt small toymakers, take used toys off the market and force everyone to buy from big monolithic corporations.
Two stories this week illustrate the point. The CPSC is started an online database that will allow people to look up products to see if they’ve been recalled and file complaints about products that injure them. Sounds like a good idea, right? But Point of Law notes the lack of information control.
Of course, we all know that the very existence of complaints proves their allegations. The experience of NHTSA’s database has not deterred anyone or raised a caution flag. Quite the contrary, in fact. The ability of slimy lawyers to drum up bullshit scandals is a feature, not a bug.
This effects both large and small companies, of course. And big companies are fatter targets for lawyers. However, big companies have lawyers of their own and politicians in their pockets. What happens to small toy makers when ADA lawsuits become toy lawsuits?
What makes this really enragifying is that while the government is putting together an uncontrolled database that can ruin companies, it is still handing out waivers to ... wait for it ...
The mantra of the libertarian is that incentives matter. The federal government, under the guise of protecting children, is giving Mattel a huge advantage over small toy makers and used toy sellers. In other words, contaminating two millions toys with lead could turn out to be the best business decision Mattel ever made.
Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/25/10 at 01:08 PM in Politics Law, & Economics • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Girls of the SEC
I’m sorry. I’m having a hard time getting choked up like a chicken about this:
The basic thrust of the story is that a bunch of guys (and at least one woman) had to do quite a keyboard cleaning before leaving work each day. It’s not that I think this is a good use of taxpayer money. And anyone who watches porn at work is stupid. But the turgid rhetoric from the critics is a bit overblown, especially given the size of the problem. You’d think these guys had been out flogging dolphins or something.
OK. Fire their 31 ass-lookin’-at asses (if the SEIU will allow it. I’m sure it will tell them to take the fifth). I’m sure the SEC can hold its own without these guys playing the other kind of solitaire. But the idea that the financial crisis occurred because these guys were spending all day giving themselves a low five is absurd. In the case of Bernie Madoff, the SEC was warned, repeatedly, that there was something suspicious about the way Bernie Madoff was doing his homework. They ignored the warnings. Not because they were too busy taking a load off but because they refused to listen and take matters into their own hands.
(Aside: I have to love the heavy breathing from the media over how many websites these guys visited and how many images they had. Anyone familiar with porn knows how quickly that particularly link-heavy part of the internet can fill up histories and hard drives. If I heard some guy had 600 porno images on his computer, I would assume it was only because he was using dial-up.)
To be honest, I’m surprised at how few of the SEC’s employees were playing five on one during work hours. I had assumed, based on their record, that everyone down there was playing in the Onan olympics. And, to be really honest, I’d almost prefer that most government employees did spend their time getting to know themselves. OK, maybe not cops and firemen. And I’m sure there’s at least one SEC employee with more iniative than a three-days-dead hamster. But maybe if they spent more time doing to themselves what they usually do to the taxpayer, we’d all be better off.
Post Scriptum: In all seriousness, I actually am stunned that the problem is so small. Federal work rules are so strict that most federal bureaucrats have very narrow ranges of duties and thus a lot of time to do nothing. Phillip Howard has a great chapter on this in Collapse of the Common Good. In that environment, having less than 1% of your employees looking at porn (or at least 1% unable to cover their tracks) is an accomplishment, not an indictment.
Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/24/10 at 02:00 PM in Politics Law, & Economics • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
“Public Unions! Huh! Good God! What Are They Good For?”
According to a couple of links posted by Mish at Global Economic Analysis, “absolutely nothing.”
Hal’s video in his most recent post struck a particular chord with me, not just because the same money-grubbing, society-damning attitude by the unions is going on in my own city, but because it’s merely one example of a much broader trend nationwide of how public unions have been increasingly at war with the people who pay their salaries--which shows that unions haven’t really changed all that much in 120 years. Except this time they aren’t at war with some Snidely Whiplash-type “industrialist” Marxist bete-noir, but with everyday taxpayers.
The first one is to this pathetic/hilarious protest sign by teachers and their brainwashed students in Des Moines:
According to the link, the teacher had the students chant, “Show Us the Money!” I can’t think of a better example of the modern entitlement mentality that’s infected society than this, especially the schools--rather than focus on the quality of education, they’re homed in like a laser on the government tit.
For people who think that this won’t come to a head eventually, California, once again shows that it intends to lead the nation (from Steve Malanga at the City Jounral, again, via Mish):
Seriously, read the whole article; if it doesn’t make you want to slap a public sector union worker, you have no soul.
It’s stuff like this that really makes me miss Lee--I can just hear him say “Man, I love being proven right--again!”
Posted by on 04/24/10 at 09:54 AM in Cullyforneah Left Wing Idiocy Life & Culture • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Illegal Immigration - Our Cross to Bear
Immigration will be the issue that determines the fate of the tea party. Arizona’s newest law is the litmust test:
I’m in a minority here with my view of illegal immigration. I disagree with the “round ‘em up, ship ‘em out” folks and am against this law for two broad reasons: For one, the so-called “threat” of illegal immigration is illusory when one looks at the numbers. They are not a bunch of violent criminals and terrorists – in fact the numbers show that they commit crimes at a lower rate than legal American residents because they fear deportation. Secondly, economically, they are a net benefactor to the country. Their work has the effect of reducing production costs and overall increasing the American standard of living.
Illegal immigrants are an albatross of the American political psyche, scapegoats for our frustration with the welfare state. The problems we hear about hospitals losing money because of illegal aliens using emergency rooms are really caused by bad healthcare policy. We forget about the myriad legal residents who use hospitals the same way. The same goes for the bad economy and the recession. The real enemy during a depression is not people who are willing to work for less, but a government that puts so many burdens on employers that qualified people cannot find a job.
The second broad reason as to why I’m against the Arizona law has to do with what such laws force us to become.
That goes right into the “who are you kidding” file. What the crap does she actually expect cops to do? Examine body language and clothing? See if people smell like tacos? Brewer is not five years old. She has to know that sheriffs like Arpaio with an axe to grind against illegals are not going to be patting down Norwegians. In practice and in statistical reality, the first clue of illegal status is going to be Hispanic ethnicity and a Spanish accent.
The appropriateness of racial profiling as such is another debate. I can see it being justifiable in specific circumstances. But let’s not kid ourselves about the consequences of the Arizona law. Arpaio, using his county as a laboratory to create the model for Arizona’s new law, has cost his state millions in settlement money for wrongful deaths, been the subject of multiple federal investigations, lost accreditation of his jails for inhumane conditions, improperly cleared numerous real crimes like rapes, and by a study he himself commissioned, was unable to improve recidivism rates. Anyone think he managed all of that by being race-neutral?
You might expect a black guy from NYC to take issue with cops using skin color to determine who to question and detain, so let’s forget profiling for a sec and consider some more basic issues. Do we really want to be a society that demands people always carry their “papers” with them for fear of being arrested? Do we really want local and state police enforcing federal laws at their whim (I’m talking to you, pot legalizers)? Do we really want not only illegals, but Hispanics and people of color throughout the state to be even more mistrusting of cops, refusing to cooperate in investigations of other crimes? Do we really want battered wives and rape victims to fear going to the police because they might end up having their lives uprooted?
Isn’t our side supposed to be the one that is suspicious of increasing government’s size and power? You think 16,000 IRS agents is bad, imagine what we would need to locate, capture, and expel 20 million illegals. You will need to expand the scope and authority of the government on a MASSIVE scale. Estimates put it between $10,000 and $25,000 to process just one deportation. Toss in the usual bureaucratic inefficiency and you’re looking at a trillion dollars or more. Is it worth that much debt just so you can pay more for your produce? Look at the local communities that passed anti-illegal immigrant ordinances and became ghost towns not long after. Arizona is already billions in the red and this new law is going to cost a ton in litigation and implementation. Is that where we want to go?
To me, illegal immigration is a largely victimless crime analogous to speeding. 99% of the time, driving over the speed limit is harmless, and actually increases economic efficiency by allowing people to get around faster. We drivers are all “criminals” in that we knowingly break the law expecting it not to be enforced and tacitly understanding that police usually are wasting our time when it is. If we tried to get the police to crack down on all speeders, we would need to dramatically increase their number and authority. It would also choke local economies by reducing transportation speed and requiring lots of new government spending.
The same is true of illegal immigration. There are victims, to be sure. No one is defending identity thieves or murderous drug runners. But we are kidding ourselves if we think more raids and deportations are going to do anyone any good. They won’t, except for maybe helping the sort of competition-hating union thugs we complain about here. Getting rid of illegals won’t reduce crime and will only hurt our economy. I agree with securing the border and doing everything we can to keep criminals out. But ultimately we need to be intelligent about the people that are already here and dispense with this ridiculous fantasy that it is even possible to deport them all. They are not hiding in the shadows stealing children. They live here 20 million strong because Americans willingly hire them, house them, trade with them, and live with them. We should accept the fact that we admit far too few legal immigrants and Americans, in their daily lives and explicit actions, show a de facto demand for more immigrants, not fewer.Close this post...
Friday, April 23, 2010
Fighting the Good Fight
I defy anyone—especially anyone who has lost or is danger of losing a job—to watch this video and not get enraged.
There is no sense of solidarity with the state here. In a way, I admire the woman saying, “give me money”. At least she’s honest. She’s not cloaking her greed in self-righteous rhetoric.
It’s this relentless demagoguery, enabled by a compliant media, that has paralyzed efforts to cut spending. It’s so effective that anyone who opposes it is political fodder. Chris Christie, for example polling in the 30’s.
(Inspiring moment for me—Christie doesn’t give a shit about the polls. He’s determined to save the state of New Jersey despite itself. More of this, please.)
This is only going to get uglier. When even modest budget cuts and spending freezes are met with the kind of hysteria, you can imagine what might happen when the budget axe really comes down.
Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/23/10 at 07:03 PM in Politics Law, & Economics • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
5 reasons why Bret Michaels has to pull through
For those who have a thing called a “life” and may not keep up with the latest celebrity goings-on, Bret Michaels is gravely ill. He had acute appendicitis the other day, came through the surgery, but had to be rushed to the hospital due to a massive subarachnoid hemorrhage - bleeding at the base of the brain stem.
Some of you know...we have a personal connection to the man, Donna and her friends followed them on tour back in the day and made friends with the band, and of course I savaged the shit out of two years of that God-forsaken Rock of Love show. And all his douchiness aside, I’m still a Poison fan. If you cut me, I bleed, among other things, neon green. And so, I have compiled a list of 5 reasons why Bret has to make it:
5. Every group deserves a spokesperson - even douchebags
4. Spray-painted straw cowboy hats. That’s right. I said it. Spray-painted straw cowboy hats. With writing on them. Who the fuck else is gonna rock that look?
3. Paris Hilton and Lady GaGa can’t keep the Los Angeles hair extension industry alive by themselves!
2. VH1 won’t have anything to air anymore, they’ll just have to shut the doors. Especially since Flava Flav is about two weeks from a crack overdose.
1. And the number one reason why Bret Michaels has to survive this health scare: Those god-damned Ed Hardy shirts aren’t gonna sell themselves. That shit is an industry now, and the American economy just can’t take the hit. Besides, folks going to Wal-Mart gotta have something to wear besides Juicy Couture and Miley Cyrus shit.
Posted by JimK on 04/23/10 at 05:45 PM in Celebrity Idiots Fun and Humor • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
Well Blow Me Down!
Ain’t it quite funny how all the usual morons in the MSM that propagandized for the Obama WH’s healthcare takeover are now finally coming out of the woods to admit the very same thing most of us that opposed this travesty did, namely that this bill would reduce quality of care and access to care and drastically increase cost. Well, it would be funny but when you remember that this usurpation of power by the federal government will cost us trillions more, mostly to pay bureaucrats and feed the new massive bureaucratic machine that will be created around this thing, and in that the government will now run healthcare with the same efficiency they run your DMV or for example the INS, then you just end up feeling like crying. Anyway, here is some fun new facts for ya.
Not so new I guess for those of us that had not drank the koolaid. So, now many more people will be covered, but the quality is gonna go down and cost is going to go up for all of us that actually work for a living! Yay! I am sure glad some lazy scumbag can now get free healthcare so he can make even more illegitimate babies that will then also be requiring government to support their needs, by stealing even more money from me first me, and then my children. Social Justice at its best. And that projected 1% raise? Its going to be more like 200%. That’s a historical fact with any and all of these social programs the government runs. The one and only outlier is Medicare Part D, and that’s because the private sector runs it. Don’t worry. Demcorats won’t let that stand for too long either.
There was a great laugh in this article though:
Well, they aren’t lying through their teeth then I guess.
Posted by AlexinCT on 04/23/10 at 12:47 PM in Elections Election 2010 Health Care Politics Law, & Economics The Press Machine • (0) Trackbacks • Permalink •
The Right To The Beach
On the same week when one of their most overspent countries is teetering on the brink of complete fiscal collapse owing to over-generous government employee benefits, the EU is closing in on securing humanity’s newest “right”.
The man literally claims that tourism is a right. But let’s not give him too much credit by assuming he’s an idiotic idealist. Tajani is a product of one of the most comically corrupt governments in the Western world—that of Silvio Berlusconi. This declaration is mostly an excuse for governments to subsidize the tourists industry. Getting people on their vacations is a side effect of that funneling of taxpayer cash.
I think the EU should solve both their problems at once. Send all the young people and pensioners to Greece so that they can tour and simultaneously see the massive economic collapse that awaits all social welfare states.
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