Right Thinking From The Left Coast
I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have. - Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Three Things I’m Not Pissed About

I decided to combine these things into one post.  There are three stories that are running through the punditsphere that seem to have everyone in a tizzy. My take is that they range from silly to pointless to semi-serious.

The Silly: Obama and the Gulf

First, the BP oil spill.  I’m more than willing to be angry at the oil company that appeared to be careless and the regulators that, as I blogged earlier, were more interested in smoking meth than watching what BP was doing. Those are legitimate regions of complaint. But the calls for Obama to “do something” about the ongoing spill puzzle me.

I’m not sure what exactly people expect the President to be doing.  If I have an oil well gushing filth into the ocean, I want an engineer, not a fucking politician. Unless Obama is planning to plug the hole up with his ego, he needs to stay away.  Moreover, my view is one I would expect to be the default among conservatives. As Larison points out:

If a President does not actively “take charge” and is not seen as “doing something,” he is ridiculed as weak and ineffective, when according to any vision of a less activist, less interventionist, less intrusive government the President would not involve himself closely in most events similar to this oil spill. It is a bit more absurd in the conservatives’ case. They are horrified by the tyranny of the individual mandate, but most otherwise seem content to demand the firm smack of a strong executive and the protections of an omnicompetent managerial state. Having mocked Obama’s more enthusiastic supporters for wanting him to be a savior of sorts, some Republicans seem genuinely annoyed that he has not been able to work miracles.

The oil spill is being described as “Obama’s Katrina”. Perhaps. But Katrina was the sort of thing government is supposed to take care of. In fact, a New Orleans hurricane was one of three disaster scenarios that FEMA has specifically studied. The main response needed was moving people and supplies into place.  However fair of unfair the criticism was of Bush, he was at least being criticized for something that was his responsibility. I don’t see that similar logic applies here. What I see is people who think Bush was unfairly criticized for Katrina trying to “get even” by blaming Obama for the oil spill.

If the investigation shows that the Obama DOI was lax in their regulation or that he didn’t move to clean up the supremely corrupt MMS, then we can call for Obama’s scalp. If he drags his heels on the coming clean-up, we can shout down the mountains. Until then, let’s be grateful he’s not standing in a dinghy, commanding the oil to go back into the Earth.

The Pointless: McGinness and Palin

The second outrageous outrage of the week is something that’s so political insidy, I feel like punching myself for even mentioning it. Joe McGinniss is writing a book about Sarah Palin that is likely to be unflattering to say the least. He’s now rented the house next door to the Palins. The Right is responding with outrage and making dark implications about his intentions toward Palin’s kids. America’s Leading Amateur Obstetrician—Sullivan—is trying to make Palin the villain here for posting a pciture of McGinniss on Facebook.

I’m actually sort of with Palin on this one. McGinniss gave an interview with Weigel where he tries to play this off, but he comes across as self-serving and rationalizing. He sounds like the criminals I used to hear on jury duty, trying to make everything they did seem innocent and routine. There were many places he could have rented in Alaska.  Why take the home next door if not to annoy her?

Moreover, McGinniss has a history. He famously cozied up to Jeffrey MacDonald to get his story even after he became convinced that MacDonald had brutally murdered his wife and kids. A lawsuit resulted, with a hung jury. When you manage to make a jury equally sympathetic to you and a triple murderer, you’ve pretty much crossed the line into the part of the map that reads, “Here There Be Assholes”.

This just crosses me as more assholeishness. Thanks a lot, Joe. You’ve made me sympathize with Sarah Palin.

The Semi-Serious: Sestak

The final outrage of the week is the implication that Obama may have offered a position to Joe Sestak to keep him from challenging Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania primary. This is legitimate, as such an offer would be illegal. Morrissey has a run-down.  The short version is that the White House asked Bill Clinton to talk to Sestak to see what his intentions were but never actually offered anything.

Several points to make here.  First, the President’s defenders are right that no laws appear to have been broken. They’re also right that this sort of thing is very common. Earl Warren turned the 1952 convention into a Supreme Court seat, for example.

However, the President’s critics have a point here, too. Most of the wheeling and dealing happens at conventions, when delegates are swapped for theoretical vice presidencies and cabinet positions. They do not involve sitting Presidents offering positions. Moreover, weren’t we supposed to be getting all this change and stuff? The most ethical administration ever and all that?

Let me stray afield a bit. In Judaism, there are laws known as Gezeirah. These are laws instituted by Rabbis that go beyond Biblical prohibitions. They idea is to build “a fence around the law” to keep people from accidentally violating the law. The classic example is the Kosher Laws against mixing milk and meat. The Biblical injunction is to not boil a kid in its mothers milk. But by banning all milk mixed with meat, you insure that the law will not be approached, let alone violated.

A truly ethical administration would follow something similar—build a fence around the law so that they can be sure of not violating it.  They would not be playing lawyer word-parsing games to justify their actions. I don’t think the Administration violated the law. But I do think they were in the neighborhood, pricing the houses.  That’s fine for a standard politician. It’s not really acceptable for someone who claims to be a breath of fresh air.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 05/29/10 at 06:25 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Friday, May 28, 2010

DADT Fallout

Well, it’s getting close to official. The House voted last night to allow the military to rescind Don’t Ask Don’t Tell if they deem it appropriate. Only a handful of Republicans voted for it, one of whom was Ron Paul, who is frequently smeared as a crazy extremist lunatic (that link is a must-read, BTW). Paul has previously supported DADT, but changed his mind:

“I have received several calls and visits from constituents who, in spite of the heavy investment in their training, have been forced out of the military simply because they were discovered to be homosexual,” Paul said Friday. “To me, this seems like an awful waste. Personal behavior that is disruptive should be subject to military discipline regardless of whether the individual is heterosexual or homosexual. But to discharge an otherwise well-trained, professional, and highly skilled member of the military for these reasons is unfortunate and makes no financial sense.”

Needless to say, this does not represent the mainstream of the GOP.  Fortunately, most of them are being reasonable about it, to some extent. There are some fringe groups who are claiming that gay blood will contaminate the army (army personnel are screened for HIV) and others who claim it will mean soldiers getting gay raped. But then again, these guys think the Nazis were gay, so they’re not exactly in Earth orbit.

But the bulk of the GOP are sticking with the “it will disrupt the ranks” meme. That’s not an unreasonable view, even if, in my opinion, it’s an incorrect one.

We’ll see what the Pentagon’s assessment is.  I expect they’ll go ahead and repeal it.  We simply don’t have enough soldiers to go turning perfectly suitable ones out of the ranks.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 05/28/10 at 06:36 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Yet Another Bailout

While the GOP may be, sort of, hearing us, it’s clear that the Democrats are not:

A Democratic senator is introducing legislation for a bailout of troubled union pension funds.  If passed, the bill could put another $165 billion in liabilities on the shoulders of American taxpayers.

The bill, which would put the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation behind struggling pensions for union workers, is being introduced by Senator Bob Casey, (D-Pa.), who says it will save jobs and help people.

As FOX Business Network’s Gerri Willis reported Monday, these pensions are in bad shape; as of 2006, well before the market dropped and recession began, only 6% of these funds were doing well.

This is a bailout of the multi-employer pension plans, like that run by the Teamsters. The idea would be to split off the employees of companies that have collapsed and have the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation fund them. To correct Fox News here, $165 billion is the total potential obligations, if the entire pension system collapsed.  The $165 billion number is like the several trillion dollar number people were throwing around for the previous round of bailouts and guarantees.  If the system collapses that badly, we’ll be too busy keeping the barbarian Canadian hordes from pillaging our cities to worry about taxes.  The actual liability is likely to be “only” $8-10 billion.

But it’s still wrong.  The PBGC is not a bailout program; it’s an insurance program funded by the pensions that participate—premiums these multi-employer plans never paid.  Indeed, the entire point of multi-employer plans was to pool the risk in order to protect employees and obviate the need to join PBGC.  It’s ridiculous to ask the taxpayers to cover the stupid decisions of the pension fund managers and it’s unfair to allow the pension programs to never pay a premium but get the insurance benefits anyway (although that’s not stopping the Democrats from doing the same thing with health insurance).

Posted by Hal_10000 on 05/28/10 at 06:03 AM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ivy League Asshat

That’s what Scott Raab calls the President for trying to poach Lebron James for the Chicago bulls.

I don’t expect Obama or the rest of America to give a shit what happens to Cleveland. I don’t think, despite all the pretty words after Katrina hit, many folks outside of New Orleans and Sean Penn’s hut truly care much about New Orleans. That human nature is essentially selfish shouldn’t be news to anyone above the age of two. The news is that Barack Obama is essentially an Ivy League asshat, and I want my $400 back.

There’s nothing profound here; just a profane fan primal scream that I found highly amusing. Obama’s need to comment on everything, be everywhere and say anything is beginning to grate even on his supporters.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 05/27/10 at 08:48 AM in Fun and Humor  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Opposite Videos, Same Party

Two videos for you this morning. The first is more “common sense porn” from Chris Christie. Refreshingly, people are asking him tough questions about his budget cuts. And even more refreshingly, he’s defending them.

Incidentally, Red State claims that the teacher in question makes $86k. Assuming they’re correct, that sounds pretty reasonable to me.

It’s amazing to watch a politician tell the simple truth: we’re out of money. No one likes cutting budgets, but responsible politicians have to do it.  That’s why they get elected.

In a similar vein, but an opposite direction, we have this video from J. Gresham Barrett, defending his support of TARP.

And you know what? I like this one too.  Barrett isn’t crawling away from his vote.  He’s saying that he made an unpopular decision because he thought it was necessary.

(TARP was something I was initially ambivalent on.  I didn’t like bailing out banks but it’s easy to forget how spooked the markets were and how close we came to a complete meltdown.  At least one money market fund had “broken the buck” and others were teetering.  I do think it should have been smaller and should have mandated firings at companies that took the money.  I also think the fund has been relentlessly abused by both administrations to bail out the auto companies, for example.  But while I still think the initial vote was wrong, I don’t think it’s indefensible.)

In any case, I’m slowly getting less pessimistic about the direction this country is headed.  Both of these videos show politicians responding to voter anger, even if they are responding to it in opposite ways.  We are being heard.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 05/27/10 at 08:25 AM in Elections   Election 2010  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Diddling While BP Burned

As the foul mess that is BP’s oil spill continues to spread, more information is coming out.  For example, BP ignored warning signs that something was badly wrong. But we expect to find such things. After all, oil rigs don’t just explode and gush foulness on their own.  Accidents like this can usually be traced to someone being stupid.

What is surprising, however is this:

Staff members at an agency that oversees offshore drilling accepted tickets to sports events, lunches and other gifts from oil and gas companies and used government computers to view pornography, according to an Interior Department report alleging a culture of cronyism between regulators and the industry.

In at least one case, an inspector for the Minerals Management Service admitted using crystal methamphetamine and said he might have been under the influence of the drug the next day at work, according to the report by the acting inspector general of the Interior Department.

The report cites a variety of violations of federal regulations and ethics rules at the agency’s Louisiana office. Previous inspector general investigations have focused on inappropriate behavior by the royalty-collection staff in the agency’s Denver office.

The report adds to the climate of frustration and criticism facing the Obama administration in the monthlong oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, although it covers actions before the spill. Millions of gallons of oil are gushing into the Gulf, endangering wildlife and the livelihoods of fishermen, as scrutiny intensifies on a lax regulatory climate.

There’s something to emphasize here.  This wasn’t a problem with a lack of regulation.  This was a problem with an agency not doing its damned job. Now every company has its worthless employees.  I’ve certainly known a few who showed up to work stoned or hungover.  But this is way beyond your normal bad employees. This is cesspool as foul as the gulf it failed to protect.

The blame for this has to be placed squarely on the last administration.  The report goes up until 2008, when Bush was still in office.  And the fall guy was a leftover Bush appointee.  We are, once again, reaping the fruits of Bush’s worthless Presidency.  Ken Salazar has asked the investigation to be expanded into 2009 and has called for MMS to be abolished and replaced. The latter I think is absolutely called for.  When an agency becomes this corrupt, this diseased, it has to be taken out behind the barn. There’s no fixing it.

It remains to be seen whether MMS cleaned up its act at all when Obama took power. However, I am extremely skeptical. Partially because he left a lot of Bush people in place.  But also because I don’t think MMS can be fixed by anyone, least of all an administration that appears so clueless on energy.

Update: Correction: S8 points out that Oynes was a Bush Clinton (!) appointee.  I swear I’ll type that right one day.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 05/26/10 at 06:08 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Taxes, National Security and Trust

One of the fun things about being a conservative is that, if you ignore the brain-dead national party, there’s a lot more intellectual vigor on the Right than the Left. Right now, there’s an interesting debate going on about whether we are going to have to acquiesce to tax increases in order to balance the budget. Bruce Bartlet is arguing that this is a national security issue, a position about which I’m somewhat dubious. But I like Bainbridge’s response:

On a bipartisan basis, our rulers have spent us into a position in which taxes probably will have to go up at least for a while. But agreeing to tax increases ought to be done only in return for a package of fundamental reforms. We need entitlement reforms (including raising the retirement age), budgetary reforms (bans on ear marks, a line item veto, and a balanced budget amendment), political reforms (real restrictions on gerrymandering), and the like. Letting the powers that be have higher taxes without those other reforms will not solve the problem. All it does is make for a bigger candy store to which we’ve given the keys to the children.

Put simply, absent real reforms, I don’t want anybody in Washington or Sacramento getting their grubby hands on any more of my money because I don’t trust them to spend it wisely. My guess is that a lot of Bartlett’s new friends on the left, for example, would be quite content to raise taxes and massively cut defense. So the either/or he presents strikes me as a false choice.

I’ve slowly come to believe that we may have to raise taxes—or at least let the Bush tax cuts expire—to balance the budget. Our population is simply too old and the interests too entrenched to do otherwise (you can try to balance the budget with only spending cuts here).  However, the last decade—and the state’s response to the stimulus money—has shown what happens when governments get oceans of new revenue. They do not use it shore up their finances and balance their budgets. They use it to start new programs with new future obligations.  Look at Obama. We’re facing a huge fiscal crisis right now.  He has proposed and passed numerous tax increases. However, these are targeted not at deficit reduction but at new programs, new entitlements and new obligations.

No, Bainbridge is right.  If new taxes are coming, we need something more than promises to ensure that we’re righting the fiscal ship. The current leadership can’t even go two months without ignoring PAYGO. They haven’t earned any more of our money.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 05/25/10 at 06:52 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Keeping his promise…

Well, considering how many promises he has broken so far and how many more look like they will have to be broken to keep the scam alive, I feel I should give Obama his props for keeping at least one promise.When he told Joe the Plumber that he believed that the wealth should be spread around, he seems to have meant it. And the latest statistics seem to back his promise to do so up. Of course there is always a little twist, and when he spoke about spreading the wealth… Well don’t take it from me, here is the article’s take on it:

Paychecks from private business shrank to their smallest share of personal income in U.S. history during the first quarter of this year, a USA TODAY analysis of government data finds. At the same time, government-provided benefits — from Social Security, unemployment insurance, food stamps and other programs — rose to a record high during the first three months of 2010. Those records reflect a long-term trend accelerated by the recession and the federal stimulus program to counteract the downturn. The result is a major shift in the source of personal income from private wages to government programs.

Other than the fact I get irked whenever the MSM refers to that government scam that funneled close to a trillion of our tax payer dollars to demcorat operatives & agents, past and future donors, friends and entities, and finally to the demcorat politician’s campaign chests, to “stimulate” their chances come the 2010 elections, as a “federal stimulus program”, I would say that they got the gist of what this new breed of statist collectivists are all about down pat.

We are being led by the same kind of “intelligencia” groups that make up your usual liberal arts college academia, and it is not a coincidence that they feel the solution to all problems is a government led by them, that micromanages and relies on central planning and direct or indirect ownership & control of all aspects of the economy, to achieve their socialist Utopia. It’s no wonder then that the loathed private industry is being sucked dry while government spending grows drastically. It’s also no surprise to those of us that understand how economics work in the real world, that this practice is causing exactly the opposite effect these know-nothing nincompoops with overinflated egos and delusions of their own importance and wisdom thought it would, and wrecking our economy. Literally government is now in the business of picking winners & losers, not just as far as individuals go, but which businesses make it, what technologies or practices are adopted or avoided, and doing so not with any kind of scientific rigor or logic – they might claim otherwise but that’s just bull, and the demcorats are the ones that get to choose them. For a small fee, of course.

The irony is that at a time when the socialist nanny state is clearly failing in Europe, our politicians are breaking all records recreating the same failed economic model in our country. And while the collectivists now running the US are downplaying the whole European crisis and unavoidable collapse of the whole socialist nanny state – wealth redistribution without the creation of new wealth, something the socialist state excels at, only works for so long, after all -the Chinese are worrying. The statists are taking us in the wrong direction. In their ever expanding need for cash, these demcorats are already looking at such “solutions” as taking over everyone that isn’t working for government’s retirement funds. Props to Obama, however, for keeping a promise....

Posted by AlexinCT on 05/25/10 at 06:36 AM in Decline of Western Civilization   Deep Thoughts   Elections   Left Wing Idiocy   The Press Machine  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Monday, May 24, 2010

Show trial quietly dropped…

Remember all the feigned anger by the donkeys in charge at AIG, for those big bonuses they got Dodd to sign off on, after they took bailout money, back when? Well, as I predicted, all the hoopla and accusations and investigations of evil capitalists running amok and stealing from us, turned to be bull, and now the case has been dropped:

The criminal probe had focused on whether Joseph Cassano, who ran the financial products unit, and Andrew Forster, his deputy, knowingly misled investors about the company’s accounting losses on its credit default swaps portfolio. “Although a 2-year, intense investigation is tough for anyone, the results are wholly appropriate in light of our client’s factual innocence,” F. Joseph Warin and Jim Walden, Cassano’s lawyers, said in a statement.

Of course, if there was any justice we would be getting an investigation into the role Dodd and other demcorats played in this big pay-off scam, that diverted hundreds of billions of tax payer dollars to private industry, and which these demcorats still continue to pretend is all Bush’s making, when anyone that has been paying attention can figure out quickly that they have far surpassed the original $350 billion - which was already $350 billion too much - Bush asked for, but we all know that’s never going to happen.

Speaking of justice, when are we going to have an impartial investigation of and regulation of Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae? Want to know why we are in this economic mess? Demcorats and those two institutions play key and front & center roles. Instead we get tons of show trials, where haughty demcorats accuse evil capitalists of being the incarnation of Satan himself, and capitalism the cause of all our ills, while the vile truth and their own criminal behavior gets a pass. It’s not a coincidence that big companies donate the lion share of their cash to demcorats.

Posted by AlexinCT on 05/24/10 at 10:51 AM in Elections   Election 2010   Left Wing Idiocy  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Did the WH offer Sestak a job to let Specter win in PA?

If this story pans out, the WH is going to be in big trouble. Of course, I expect the MSM to either ignore the story or cover for them, but the fact is that if Obama and his people tried to buy Sestak off with a job offer, to keep that traitor party switcher career politician Specter from going down in flames like he did anyway, they broke the law that forbids government from trying to influence elections by offering or threatening job loss to sway someone.

The White House was backing incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) in the primary. Sestak acknowledged in an interview in February that he was offered a position by an unnamed White House official - a potential violation of federal law - but has not offered any specifics on conversation. Republicans are trying to use the issue against Sestak in the November Senate race.

“It’s interesting. I was asked a question about something that happened months earlier, and I felt that I should answer it honestly, and that’s all I had to say about it.” Sestak said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Anybody else has to decide on what they will say upon their role. That’s their responsibility.”

Yet Sestak confirmed to NBC’s David Gregory that the incident did take place.

I say we need an investigation at a minimum. Can you imagine the news cycle if this happened while Bush was in the WH? At a minimum, if it comes out that Sestak was playing fast & loose with the facts, embellishing or misrepresenting what happened, for whatever reason, it should be public knowledge before the election. Like that moron in my state, Blumenthal, they should not get passes for this kind of stuff. If Sestak however is telling the truth, there should be consequences for these most ethical people ever. At a minimum we should get to rub these condescending liberal’s faces in the dog doo as they deserve.

Posted by AlexinCT on 05/24/10 at 08:52 AM in Elections   Election 2010   Left Wing Idiocy   The Press Machine  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The economy, government spending, and healthcare..

I have been busier than a one legged man at an ass-kicking contest the last month or so, and have not posed much, but today I have finally gotten some slow time and decided it was time to get back at it. And I think the appropriate place to start is with the current economic crisis gripping the world, and closer at home, this whole government healthcare takeover thingy, better know as Obamacare. Since everyone but the usual bureaucrats seem to understand the budgetary problems facing the great Western socialist paradises on the verge of economic collapse are caused because the parasites “working” in government have had a great run for the last few decades buying themselves both power and bennies with other people’s money, and are discussing the fact that we can’t keep spending at the rate we are, it should be obvious that this massive government expansion would remain unpopular and continue to get more unpopular as people realize the economic impacts associated with it. In fact, the numbers for those of us wanting it repealed, have climbed to 63%, and they are just going to keep going up as even the CBO now has to admit. I am sure the democrats are quite surprised that it now looks like Obamacare will not save us anything but actually cost more. And that is with a shameful slight of hand/scam used by those promoting this most massive government expansion since the first day of the Roosevelt socialist takeover, that allows the government to collect taxes for 10 years, but then only offer services for the last 5 or 6 years in a 10 year cycle. As I have pointed out repeatedly, it should be blatantly obvious that there is no arguing that even if the program doesn’t end up as I suspect it will deep in the red in the first decade, come the next 10 year cycle, the program is going to be short a trillion or more from the start.

Posted by AlexinCT on 05/24/10 at 08:37 AM in Deep Thoughts   Elections   Europe and the UK   Health Care   Left Wing Idiocy   Polls and Surveys   War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Sunday, May 23, 2010

This and that

I have not been holding up my end here so, I decided that I would post a few thing that i found interesting today.

It seem that our good friend, Hugo Chavez, has decided to take more control of his nation economy. Using the old saw of the poor against the rich bankers, he has launched raids against brokerages who were trading in the local currency and American dollars. It seem that Chavez, is closing down the competition to the Central Bank of Venezuela. 
How long till someone in the international community stand up and denounces this socialist dictator?
Oh, wait, what was i thinking?

From DC this heart warming tale of Free Condoms, has some in a uproar. It seems that the budget condoms that they were handing out were just not good enough for those that were receiving them.  Students in DC have demanded the pricier name brand Trojans, and the District has acceded to their demands.
O.k. now i do not have a problem with condoms being handed out at school, but what galls me is that this program is also running at the university too! Adults, voting age, drinking age, adults Cant fucking go buy their own condoms. In a time of economic hardship, im sure that the school system has the extra cash to go and buy the “blingier” condom. 
fuck it…

The investigation into AIG, has been dropped. I have to wonder what the fuck is really going on here, they did not find anything or did they? \

In other crimes, a fund-raiser for both Clinton and Obama was nailed for fraud. No lets just pretend that He was a fund-raiser for Bush and Cheney, and imagine the media and political reaction.

Now this is gonna sound like a gun nut rant, but this reversal of a Bush era policy is worrying to me. Now yes this Arms Trade Treaty is designed to control and regulate the arms market, you know to keep the guns and ammo out of the hands of bad guys. Now for my part, from what i have read, this would allow the Fed Gov more power to control what is being imported into this nation, such as Arms and Ammo. I fully expect that this will be used to block importation of cheap ammo from nations like Russia and Turkey. Better stock up guys.

Oh and another thing, i cant find my link to it but is seem that the Obama administration is toughly pissed off at BP and looking to remove them from the capping operation is some success is not made soon. BP has one hell of a clusterfuck going on down there, and the lack of progress, is pissing everyone off. I for one am not confident that the FED GOV would do the job any better, but we will see.


Posted by HARLEY on 05/23/10 at 07:54 PM in • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Change the Brits Can Believe In

As you may know, Britain is currently under an unlikely coalition of Tories and Liberal Democrats.  I have been cautiously optimistic about this unusual alliance.  I think the combination could produce some good things for Britain.

Looks like I was right:

The U.K.’s new government plans to detail about £6 billion ($8.69 billion) in immediate budget cuts Monday as the finance minister, George Osborne, begins to flesh out how the U.K. treasury will narrow the £156 billion budget deficit.

Mr. Osborne is expected to announce plans that would save about £513 million from a cull of nondepartmental executive agencies, and £163 million from restraining public-sector hiring via a recruitment freeze, according to a person familiar with the situation. In addition, he is set to announce cuts of more than £1 billion in discretionary spending, including savings from cutting travel costs and consultancy fees. He would also seek efficiencies in continuing programs.

That’s six billion right away.  The real test will come when the Brits have to cut government employees and social services.  But, in a week, they’ve already cut six billion more than Obama has in a year and a half.

There’s more.  Nick Clegg, now deputy PM, and with the backing of the Tories, has stated they will start ripping down some of the surveillance state in Britain, investigate allegations of torture, put in place a massive electoral overhaul and roll back the excesses of the criminal justice system.  Read this:

It is outrageous that decent, law-abiding people are regularly treated as if they have something to hide.

It has to stop.

So there will be no ID card scheme.

No national identity register, no second-generation biometric passports.

We won’t hold your internet and email records when there is no just reason to do so.

CCTV will be properly regulated, as will the DNA database, with restrictions on the storage of innocent people’s DNA.

And we will end practices that risk making Britain a place where our children grow up so used to their liberty being infringed that they accept it without question.

This is inspiring stuff, guys.  It’s not just words; it’s their official platform.

Now this is still a British government, so there are no plans to dismantle the NHS or anything.  But it looks like the UK is about to take a huge step in the right direction.  And this is, in no small part, because they had to form a coalition of two parties.  This allow real ideas to move forward, while giving both parties political cover. It makes you wonder what might happen if the Libertarians ever got their heads out of their asses and became a viable third party.

In the meantime, our Candidate of Change is comfortable with the War on Drugs, sees no need to reform the criminal justice system, is arguing in court that he can disappear people in Bagram and had a fit because the Supreme Court lifted restriction on corporate speech.  In short, as Radley Balko noted, Obama is keeping every promise he made when it comes to taking away our freedom.  He is keeping none of the ones that involve giving it back.

Look at the Cameron-Clegg partnership. Look at Obama.  Who is the force for real change?

Posted by Hal_10000 on 05/23/10 at 05:25 PM in Europe and the UK  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Now That’s a Mob

It’s one thing to protest against Bank of America.  Hell, sometimes I feel like marching up and down with a placard on their lawn.  I and friends of mine have had plenty of bad experiences.

It’s another thing to go to someone’s home and try to intimidate them:

Last Sunday, on a peaceful, sun-crisp afternoon, our toddler finally napping upstairs, my front yard exploded with 500 screaming, placard-waving strangers on a mission to intimidate my neighbor, Greg Baer. Baer is deputy general counsel for corporate law at Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), a senior executive based in Washington, D.C. And that—in the minds of the organizers at the politically influential Service Employees International Union and a Chicago outfit called National Political Action—makes his family fair game.

Waving signs denouncing bank “greed,” hordes of invaders poured out of 14 school buses, up Baer’s steps, and onto his front porch. As bullhorns rattled with stories of debtor calls and foreclosed homes, Baer’s teenage son Jack—alone in the house—locked himself in the bathroom. “When are they going to leave?” Jack pleaded when I called to check on him.

This was SEIU, who are trying to unionize BofA.  They’ve proudly posted a video of the event and even tried to smear the reporter who ratted them out.

I don’t even need to ask about what would happen if the Tea Party did this.  What I do have to ask is what they hoped to achieve, besides needlessly frightening people.

Update: More classiness from the Left wing protesters, this time on immigration.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 05/22/10 at 03:51 PM in Left Wing Idiocy  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Budget Simulator

In dissing the GOP’s website on budget cutting, I wished for a tool that was far more thorough.  Here it is.  I got the deficit down to 60% of GDP by 2018, while not making any cuts I considered particularly tough.  Choices I made included:

Reducing Afghanistan/Iraq troops to 30,000 by 2015.

Allowing all Bush tax cuts, except the AMT, to expire.

Grow discretionary spending at the President’s projection (although I would grow non-security spending instead of security spending).

About $170 billion in defense spending cuts, canceling TARP and reduce food stamps to 2008 levels.

Raise the Social Security retirement age, change the COLA and include state workers.

Reduce insurance subsidies and enact Medicare vouchers (the tool actually increases the debt if you cancel healthcare reform completely, which is ... dubious).

Cut the federal work force by 5%, cut farm subsidies, earmarks and and some transportation programs.

Increase payroll tax, gas tax and carbon tax—balanced by a cut in the corporate tax.

Trim the mortgage interest deduction and kill biofuel subsidies.

The tools is not perfect, but I love it for giving people a taste of reality.  If you plugged either the Democrat or GOP platforms into it, the program would burst.  For example, is I take GOP boilerplate (maintain troops levels, cut all taxes, cut nothing on defense or Medicare, cut foreign aid and earmarks and TARP) we end up $4 trillion away from the objective with no possible way of balancing the budget.  You simply can’t make things work without cutting popular sending or increasing taxes.

Here’s the thing: as I went through this, I kept saying, “Well, I’d cut this, but there’s no way Congress would.” But none of these should be sacred cows, really.  Only in Washington are things like farm subsidies untouchable.  I’m reminded of a rant this week from Glenn Greenwald on the recent elections:

It makes perfect sense that the country loathes the political establishment.  Just look at its rancid fruits over the past decade:  a devastating war justified by weapons that did not exist; a financial crisis that our Nation’s Genuises failed to detect and which its elites caused with lawless and piggish greed; elections that seem increasingly irrelevant in terms of how the Government functions; grotesquely lavish rewards for the worst culprits juxtaposed with miserable unemployment and serious risks of having basic entitlements (Social Security) cut for ordinary Americans; and a Congress that continues to be owned, right out in the open, by the very interests that have caused so much damage.  The political establishment is rotten to its core, and the only thing that’s surprising is that the citizenry’s contempt isn’t even more intense than it is.  But precisely because that dynamic so clearly transcends Left/Right or Democratic/GOP dichotomies, little effort is expended to understand or explain it.

Glenn’s mad about different things than I am.  But across the country, incumbents—Republican and Democrats—are getting thrashed.  And it’s precisely because so much of Washington “wisdom” is anything but.  It’s because so many of our problems have obvious solutions, but those solutions are politically painful and will get politicians unelected.  The American people are getting sick of this attitude.  They seem to be saying, “You can stand for something and get unelected; or you can stand for nothing and get unelected.  Might as well do something.”

They could start by playing that budget game.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 05/21/10 at 04:17 AM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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