Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Debt Without End?

The most recent report on the federal debt outlook from the Congressional Budget Office doesn't paint a pretty picture. From the CBO's blog (who knew?):

Recently, the federal government has been recording the largest budget deficits, as a share of the economy, since the end of World War II. As a result of those deficits, the amount of federal debt held by the public has surged. At the end of 2008, that debt equaled 40 percent of the nation’s annual economic output (as measured by gross domestic product, or GDP), a little above the 40-year average of 36 percent. Since then, large budget deficits have caused debt held by the public to shoot upward; CBO projects that federal debt will reach 62 percent of GDP by the end of this year—the highest percentage since shortly after World War II.

But that's only the start. The Economist has some analysis on likely scenarios and publishes this chart:

The CBO blog has an explanation for the shape of these curves:

The budget outlook is much bleaker under the alternative fiscal scenario, which incorporates several changes to current law that are widely expected to occur or that would modify some provisions of law that might be difficult to sustain for a long period. In this scenario, CBO assumed that Medicare’s payment rates for physicians would gradually increase (which would not happen under current law) and that several policies enacted in the recent health care legislation that would restrain growth in health care spending would not continue in effect after 2020.
Note how the increase in spending in the long term is due to medical spending by the federal government. This is the reason that Obamacare is so pernicious. For all the reasons that we have detailed previously (straitjacket on free enterprise, reduced competition, increased demand due to subsidies) spending on health care by the federal government will inevitably increase.

Further, there are other reasons to be believe that tax revenues will be flat in the long run, as shown in the chart above, regardless of tax law changes. I have previously commented on Hauser's law, which is an empirical observation that federal tax receipts will never rise above 20%. Recently found the graph that shows this:

The math of our situation is unavoidable. Under the current tax system, we will not raise significantly more revenue, but the cost of government will inevitably rise. To answer the title question, of course this debt will end, because it is unsustainable. If the Greeks can figure this out, so can we, the sooner, the better.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Eat Your Vegetables? Don't Expect Relief From Kagan

Who says that Supreme Court Justice confirmation hearings are vapid and hollow charades? Tom Coburn, apparently reading George Will, asks the Supreme Court nominee if Congress has the constitutional authority to tell us to eat our vegetables, obfuscation follows.

Kagan's non-response is a clear indicator to me that she doesn't believe that the constitution limits the Congress in any meaningful way when it comes to economic rights. For those on the left who proclaim the need for constitutional government, and bitterly complained about Bush, I ask, how can you support a nominee who disdains any notion of limits on the federal government?

And for those on the left who believe that you can somehow separate personal from economic freedom, I commend some study of Hayek. From Ilya Somin of The Volokh Conspiracy:

Third, as Hayek contended in “The Road to Serfdom,” political freedom and economic freedom are inextricably intertwined. In a centrally planned economy, the state inevitably infringes on what we do, what we enjoy, and where we live. When the state has the final say on the economy, the political opposition needs the permission of the state to act, speak and write. Economic control becomes political control....
This is why I oppose the left in all of its guises. Maybe they aren't socialists, but they certainly put us on a path to less freedom.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Round Up of Stuff I Liked Today

KT has a nice post on the insanity of G20 protests. Regardless of location, the story seems the same; lazy leftist ne'er do wells trash another city because their poli-sci degrees that they "earned" with little to no effort, but plenty of political correctness didn't land them 6 figure jobs, or any job at all.

Mutnodjmet vacations in Italy and finds Tea Party goodness. Talk about a two-fer.

Dean reminds me of one of the first blogs that he linked to, and one that captures so many thoughts about my own youth that I could never put into words. Avocado Memories reminds me of the days when men were men, women were women and the martinis were strong. Interestingly Camille Paglia seems to be riffing on the same theme, but from her own unique perspective, of course.

Senate Democrats can't seem to do enough to make themselves unpopular, so they are still trying to come up with some crappy enviro legislation that they can pass, presumably to paint Republicans as fiends (no typo) of big oil, but the public is smarter. What is wrong with these guys? They have vulnerable members are in swing states, like say West Virginia, where there would be an election if they keep to the law to fill the seat of the late Robert Byrd. I doubt that they will follow their own law, however, since only Republicans are pilloried for extra legal conduct.

In a victory for gun rights, the Supremes ruled that indeed the Second Amendment applies to the states in McDonald vs. City of Chicago. Although not a total victory, it establishes the principle that the second amendment is equal to all of the other amendments and no amount of spin can remove that basic fact. There will still be regulation of gun ownership, but even speech is not totally free, the government can demonstrate compelling state interest, so this Supreme Court ruling is as much as we could have expected. Plus, I love that Chicago took the smack down.

Finally, Al Gore visited our home town today, but who knew? No press, no video, no cameras allowed. Schadenfreude isn't a pretty emotion, so I won't comment further.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Why Do Enviros Hate Personal Transportation?

Noel Spaid's editorial in today's Union-Tribune trots out the same misinformation and half-truths used by so called environmentalists to argue against any road building.

The sky over L. A. is yellow-gray many days and you can’t see the sun in sunny California. That’s the result of building too many freeways in L.A. Is this what we want for San Diego County – more cars, more gas, more dependence on oil and foreign governments that are our sworn enemies? Exactly what is good about this plan? We are going to spend $3.3 to $4.5 billion to do this to ourselves?

P.L.A.G.U.E. has spoken.

He argues that expanding an existing route, I-5, in North County, would damage the environment and cause us to be more dependent on foreign oil. But, compared to what? Doing nothing just increases the current gridlock, cars idling get very poor mileage and pollute the environment even more.

What are the alternatives to meeting the known demand for transportation? The rail efforts mentioned are years off. It has been widely reported that building freeway is the most cost effective way to increase transport capacity and rail is much less effective than highway building in reducing congestion. Further, additional lanes can be used to provide incentives for low emission solutions of carpools, hybrid vehicles and buses. Merely expanding a freeway does not lead to the outcomes the author suggests. Further, misleading statistics are used to bolster the argument, it is 34,000, not 47,000 annual deaths on our highways, 40% of which are estimated to be alcohol related.

I admit to being concerned over the need to remove homes along the route. In California, we don't have a good track record of adequately compensating under the takings clause.

Ultimately, I suspect that the real objection to more freeway is a hatred for the freedom that individual vehicles give us. Those vehicles are getting more and more fuel efficient and as gasoline prices have risen our behavior is resulting in less pollution and less fossil fuel consumption, I favor a carbon tax (with an offset against the income tax) to reduce pollution, but don't take away the freedom that comes from making our own choices.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Weekend Music Chill

Sorry for the short hiatus from blogging, the demands of a recent trip were a little tougher than I anticipated and I didn't line up any guest bloggers. I was in Charleston SC, when Nikki Haley won the Republican nomination. It wasn't a big deal locally, since she had such a big lead in the polls, but it was still good to see her win. She was certainly not the favorite of the Republican establishment, but had significant Tea Party backing, so I think this is a good victory. To honor the fine folks in Charleston who hosted me, here is the Marshall Tucker Band, originally hailing from Spartanburg, SC, with perhaps their most popular hit.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The President Gets It Right UPDATE

Light blogging while I am away on business travel. From my perspective as a retired officer in the Navy, I believe that the President was right to relieve General McChrystal of his duties. There are many reasons already provided in other articles, but I offer one that was used many times during the relief of commanding officers when no one specific thing was egregiously wrong but too many things weren't right in the command; the superior officer had lost faith and confidence in the ability of the officer to command. Given the command climate that prevailed under McChrystal, the President could not really have faith that his policies on the conduct of the war were being implemented as intended. I give the President high marks for the manner in which he handled the issue, this statement gets it exactly right:

"The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general," the president said. "It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system."
Make no mistake, General McChrystal is a great American, whose efforts have made the United States Army a much more capable organization at fighting insurgencies, but that does not relieve him of responsibilities as Commanding General.

We can now return to our normal bashing of Obamacare and other examples of failed economic policies of justicialism. But I just want to say that I am proud to be an American for this reason as much as any other; the immediate reaction to this whole incident shows how ingrained is our belief in civilian control of the military, that even McChrystal knew he had made a mistake and immediately apologized and indeed, offered to resign.


Link provided to excellent, as always, in-depth analyses of the situation from Information Dissemination. Their blog is a must read for analysis of military, primarily naval issues. Gahlran does not give as much credit to Obama as I did, but concurs about the need for the firing itself. The money paragraph:

I find it very disturbing how little depth our nation has in the bullpen when the President has to demote our most decorated military leader of this generation - General Petraeus - in order to find someone willing and able to execute the existing administration policy for Afghanistan and simultaneously save political face for the Commander in Chief in the midst of a civil - military relations crisis. How effective is the policy itself when the President must borrow the prestige and respect of the nations finest General in order to reclaim civilian control? Color me concerned.
Exactly, the President's Afghanistan policy is not getting the job done. Secretary Gates may be the architect, but it is still the President's. Hopefully, an unexpected benefit of this brouhaha will be a reevaluation of the path ahead.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


We're not dictators, we're justicialists.

I've got to admit that I never even knew that Peron thing in Argentina had a name other than Peronism, kind of catchy, but not so much so as Justicialism. KT is on a crusade to get us to stop calling Obama a socialist and instead label him a justicialist. Although I believe that Obama is secretly a socialist and justicialism is a way station on that Road To Serfdom, I lack the evidence to know what is in his heart, and have limited proof of this right now. However, I think we can all agree that the economic results of justicialism are about the same as for socialism. From the Wikipedia article on Argentina's debt restructuring:

Argentina went through an economic crisis beginning in the mid-1990s, with full recession between 1999 and 2002; though it is debatable whether this crisis has ended, the situation has been more stable, and improving, since 2003. (See Economy of Argentina for an overview.)

Argentina defaulted on part of its external debt at the beginning of 2002. Foreign investment fled the country, and capital flow towards Argentina ceased almost completely. Argentina was "left out of the world." The currency exchange rate (formerly a fixed 1-to-1 parity between the Argentine peso and the U.S. dollar) was floated, and the peso devalued quickly, producing massive inflation.

Socialism, justicialism, leftism and statisms of all ilk have the same end result, economic ruin. This because freedom works best. In America, we still have a problem, even if we are not remotely socialist, which I will continue to repeat for effect:

The size of government has become a threat to our prosperity and our freedom.

Running the Clock out on the Welfare State

Ross Douthat peers into the soul of the left and finds vice and fear in his New York Times column. (Are they allowed to write stuff like that at the Gray Lady?) He echoes KT in saying that the welfare state's days may be numbered because they are unsustainable.

But it’s here, with the looming fiscal crisis, that the more legitimate liberal fear comes in. Liberals had hoped that Obama’s election marked the beginning of a long progressive era — a new New Deal, a greater Great Society. Instead, from the West Coast to Western Europe, the welfare state is in crisis everywhere they look. The future suddenly seems to belong to austerity and retrenchment — and even, perhaps, to conservatism.
[Ed. note: This blog does not use the term liberal to denote the left, unlike Douthat above, preferring the terms leftist or progressive.]

Exit question, as the deficits become unsustainable, can that be leveraged to repeal Obamacare? We are already seeing the first push back, with the "doc fix" for medicare put on life support for just six months. What new financial calamity will it take for the people to rise up in wrath against the ballooning debt?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Blog Roll Addition

I have added Left Coast Rebel to my favorite blogs list at right. He consistently provides a great San Diego Tea Party perspective to both local and national news. My apologies for not linking sooner. Also, I love his tag line.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

As If We Needed More Proof

80,000 tons of rotting food are in state run warehouses in Venezuela, more proof of the awesomeness of Marxist social theory. From CNBC:
Much of the wasted food, including powdered milk and meat, was found last month in the buildup to legislative elections in September. The scandal is humiliating for Chavez, who accuses wealthy elites of fueling inflation and causing shortages of products such as meat, sugar and milk by hoarding food.
A string of expropriations and buyouts of companies during the last couple of years means the
government now controls between 20 percent and 30 percent of the distribution of staple foods.
Hugo Chavez of course, blames elites and hoarders. Go figure. The government seizes the food industry, and seeks to buy votes by supplying its supporters with cheap food. Enterprising individuals in the government see an opportunity and start holding back the supply with the hopes of making some money. Who could have foreseen such a set of circumstances? Certainly not the Marxist stooge running Venezuela. And to think that Charlie Rangle warned George W. Bush in 2002 not to mess with the would-be dictator.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Peggy Noonan Nails It - Obama is Snakebit

Peggy Noonan's article about how unlucky Obama seems to be is a must read. She nails the reasons for the sense of malaise that prompted this weekend's music. Her article reminded me of what my first submarine skipper told me when I was a youngster just out of seminary, "If you're not lucky, we can't use you." (Rumor has it that Gene Hackman modeled his character in Crimson Tide off of him; if you knew the skipper, you would believe it.)

Some gems

Normally presidents have had a printed copy of the speech in their hands or on the desk, in case the teleprompter freezes or fails. Mr. Obama's desk was shiny and empty.
There is still a sense about Mr. Obama that he needs George W. Bush in order to give his presidency full shape and meaning. In this he is like Jimmy Carter, who needed Richard Nixon...

There is a growing meme that Mr. Obama is too impressed by credentialism, by the meritocracy, by those who hold forth in the faculty lounge, and too strongly identifies with them. He should be more impressed by those with real-world experience.

Weekend Music Chill

This week's music was written for the 2000 movie Wonder Boys, but it seems to oddly capture the mood of the current administration. Ironically, the title "Things Have Changed" doesn't mean for the better, much like the change Obama has wrought. Enough with stretching analogies, just enjoy a great musician; Ladies and Gentleman here is Bob Dylan:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sharron Angle

I listened to a little Roger Hedgecock on the way home. He was in Las Vegas interviewing Sharron Angle. A previous HotAir article had given me to low expectations for her. I was very surprised at how well she articulated the overall Tea Party agenda. Harry Reid is going to spend a wad of cash trying to defeat her and make the election about her supposed wackiness. But she seems ready, pointing out what a failure Obama and by extension, Reid has been for Nevadans. She got off a great line, calling Harry Reid the "Obama whisperer," tagging him with empowering Obama's agenda.

She took on the issue of Social Security privatization, which looks like a political loser right now after the 2008 stock market crash, to say that she is for individual accounts that would protect seniors, not necessarily for privatization. She also took the seemingly poorly timed issue of eliminating the EPA, but she said that the states, who are closer to the problem, would do a better job.

Like Rand Paul, I think she is going to have to modify some positions that make her sound like a kook. What makes it unfortunate, is that programs like social security and medicare are in fact unsustainable. How do you say that in a campaign without being demagogued?


Light blogging tonight on TLT. My interests were off politics tonight, mosey on over to B-Daddy's other blog for some highlights of tonight's events.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics" and Obamacare

So the lies used to sell Obamacare are coming back to haunt it. Yet Obama thinks that more salesmanship is needed to make the bill popular. The latest lie to be exposed was the exclusion of the so called "doc fix" that caused the CBO scoring of Obamacare to come in at under a $1 trillion price tag and be labeled as reducing the deficit. The use of this statistic to score health care was clearly a lie, as Obama is now calling on the House and Senate to pass a bill that will restore the cuts in physician medicare pay that were passed under the Obamacare bill. Clearly, the Democrats never had any intention of allowing a 21% cut in payments to doctors treating medicare patients.

Apparently, the Senate is now going to pass a bill that extends unemployment and avoids the medicare payment cut until November, after the elections I presume. Great, that puts the issue in the hands of a lame duck Congress. There's some leadership for you. I believe that the doc fix shouldn't get passed, because it was a part of Obamacare. Are the Democrats going to hail the fact that they've already repealed part of their own health care legislation? Except for the fact that so many seniors would be hurt by a sudden change in the rules, I would say that Obama deserved the crap sandwich he was getting over this issue.

A little more depth on the doc fix issue from HotAir.

And how about this whopper

Here is how we are getting started on the transition process discussed.

Under the annual dollar limit provisions of PPACA governing group plans (taking effect for plan years beginning Sept. 23, 2010), "Limited Benefit Medical" health plans will not meet the new standards established by the law. (Beginning in 2014, annual dollar limits are fully prohibited under the new health care law.) Except for action by the HHS secretary to make exception for these plans or clarify the law, 1.4 million workers may be without their "mini-med" plans.

Thanks for nothing.

Monday, June 14, 2010

I Almost Forgot Flag Day

My favorite flag is the first Navy Jack . I have hung it in every place of work, with short minor exceptions, for twenty-five years. When I first entered the Navy in 1976, this jack was being flown from the stern of all U.S. Navy vessels, as it is today during the war on terror. (Note to Obama, the Navy is still flying this flag under a SecNav order regarding the GWOT.) For a brief history of the flag see web site.

In the fall of 1775, as the first ships of the Continental Navy readied in the Delaware River, Commodore Esek Hopkins issued a set of fleet signals. Among these signals was an instruction directing his vessels to fly a striped Jack and Ensign at their proper places. The custom of the jack-type flag had originated with the Royal Navy in the 15th century or earlier; such was the likely source of Hopkins' inspiration. This first U.S. Navy Jack has traditionally been shown as consisting of 13 horizontal alternating red and white stripes with a superimposed rattlesnake and the motto "Don't Tread on Me." The rattlesnake had long been a symbol of resistance to British repressive acts in Colonial America; its display on the new jack of the fledging Continental Navy fit naturally with the fervor of the times.
For you Tea Party types check the embedded link above for a history of rattlesnake flags.

Carl DeMaio - Local Hero

Carl DeMaio took on the unions today and delivered 138,000 signatures to put a managed competition measure on the ballot today. He did so after taking a bus ride highlighting the city services that have been cut back due to the ongoing budget issues, precipitated by the pensions imbroglio. He was, of course, opposed by the city's unions along the way. As I have said before, reducing the city payroll is only way out of our budget mess in the long run. Of course, what would a little Tea Party style activity be without some union thuggery, mild though it might be in this case:
There was a brief scuffle as a man dressed as Pinocchio thrust his long nose in DeMaio's face. Police had to break up the crowd.

I note that Carl DeMaio endorsed Lorie Zapf, despite the mortgage issues.

Programming Note - Interview With Lorie Zapf

In all the hubbub running up to last week's primaries, I lost an email from Lorie Zapf agreeing to be interviewed. I will attempt to make contact for a weekend interview. Other than her mortgage issues, which I promise to cover, any other suggestions for questions are welcome.

I have a pretty full plate with work, school and home obligations this week, so blogging might be light.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Obamacare - Some Religions are More Equal Than Others

So, how's that Executive Order to prevent federal funds from being applied to abortion under Obamacare coming along? From John Boehner's blog:

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH), in a meeting with President Obama and Congressional leaders at the White House today, asked President Obama to provide the American people with a progress report on the implementation of his Executive Order which purports to ban taxpayer-funding of abortions. Leader Boehner noted that in her recent “progress report” to Congress on the implementation of ObamaCare, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius did not make any mention of efforts by the administration to implement the president’s Executive Order (EO).
Oh the joy of having one's name turned into a verb, and not one with pleasant connotations at that, as in boy did we get Stupaked on that deal. The legislation, as written, allows for the use of public subsidies for insurance plans that cover abortion. Further, the only thing preventing that outcome is an executive order that has not been implemented. So you might think that if you had a religious belief that abortion is evil, you wouldn't have to participate in Obamacare, and of course you would be wrong. After all, how can we let people use mere religious belief to be a pretext for evading the greatest medical benefit since the Socratic oath? If we let certain religious groups opt out, there would be chaos.

So far, so evil. However, certain religious groups have been allowed to opt out:

From the Watertown DailyTimes:

The Amish, as well as some other religious sects, are covered by a "religious conscience" exemption, which allows people with religious objections to insurance to opt out of the mandate. It is in both the House and Senate versions of the bill, making its appearance in the final version routine unless there are last-minute objections.

Although the Amish consist of several branches, some more conservative than others, they generally rely upon a community ethic that disdains government assistance. Families rely upon one another, and communities pitch in to help neighbors pay health care expenses.

Turns out that Muslims, Christian Scientists and Scientologists (no relation) may also be up for exemptions.

Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute alerted me to this anomaly in a recent letter. PJI is challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare. Unfortunately, I did not see the specific remedy he was requesting, so it is hard to judge chances for success. Personally, I would hope for a wide open opt out option.

Other suits are also pending over the individual mandate and the manner in which the federal government is directing the states medicaid spending and requiring state employees to join exchanges. I am not certain any of those challenges have much of a chance except the individual mandate. The individual mandate would be easy for Congress to overcome if it rephrased the requirement that a tax rebate is not available unless one enrolls in a qualified plan. However, since the legislation is not worded that way, and because the Democrats may not get a chance to amend the legislation, the individual mandate is in a precarious position.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Pension Test Cases to Watch

Perhaps the most important judicial news seems to have escaped much coverage. (This is why I prefer the print edition of the paper, I would never have stumbled across this article otherwise.) Both the Colorado and Minnesota legislatures are being challenged in court over reductions they made in cost of living adjustments to their state employee pension plans. From the Wall Street Journal article by Jeannette Neumann:

In February, Colorado lawmakers passed a bill that reduced the pension system's cost-of-living adjustment from a fixed 3.5% a year to a maximum of 2%—but possibly less for current and future retirees.

Similarly, Minnesota reduced their automatic cost of living increase from 2.5% to 1%.

In response, Colorado and Minnesota have been hit by lawsuits filed by retirees, who claim the changes violate state law. Those retirees have "lived up to their end of the bargain, and the state is not living up to theirs," says Stephen Pincus, a Pittsburgh lawyer representing plaintiffs in both states.

First, a cost of living adjustment that is greater than the rate of inflation? This makes no sense to me, but I don't know anything about the law or case law here. Regardless, these cases are very important to watch. If the courts rule against the states, they are basically saying that employee pension benefits are guaranteed over and above any other spending. Such an outcome seems unlikely to survive, but if it did, it would not bode well for states seeking to ease budget woes. If I was in the legislature, this would be one of the first places I would look. Reducing an automatic increase in pensions does nothing to hurt the delivery of current services.

I am fairly certain that the pensioners will not be able to sue in federal court under the doctrine of sovereign immunity. The article states that the pensioners are suing under a claim that the changes violate state law. But if the changes violate state law, and the legislature approved and the governor signed the change, is that not an amendment to law? Unless the state constitution prevents this change, I don't see how the pensioner win their case. I am hoping for some legal analysis from Eugene Volokh, because I am having a hard time figuring this one out, and I know it is important.

Dealing with Iran

If there is one thing I know about bullies, the only thing they respect is one's ability to hit them back. I think this applies especially to Iran. The military dictatorship there has calculated that America has no appetite for military engagement with Iran, so they move blithely forward on their nuclear weapons program, occasionally offering the prospects of negotiation to forestall the unpleasantness of tougher sanctions. In the meantime, the Obama administration started its relationship with the Iranians on the assumption that the President's oratory would leave the Iranian leadership so spell bound that there would be serious negotiations on the issue of nuclear weapons. We know how that worked out.

A little analysis of the self interest of the leadership is in order. First, Iran has turned into a military dictatorship. Order is maintained by Hezbollah thugs imported from Syria and Lebanon, suggesting the regime is fundamentally weak, because it is unpopular. In the same linked article, Michael Ledeen points out the inability of the regime to turn out to celebrate the anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Khomeini. From history we know that such regimes use foreign adventures and war to maintain popularity at home. Here is where the nuclear program comes in. First, by bringing the regime into sharp conflict with the United States, it shores up its own legitimacy. Iranians may loathe Ahmadinejad, but they also remember that the U.S. propped up the Shah. Second, if they were to obtain nuclear weapons, it would give them much greater freedom of action in the middle east. Their adversaries and the U.S. would have to add the risk of nuclear war to the calculus of confronting Iran. I am not convinced they would attack Israel, except as a last resort; unfortunately, I contemplate a future that includes last resorts for this brutal regime.

I frankly don't know what the latest sanctions that been proposed for Iran to deter them are. I don't care, because unless they stop the flow of dollars for oil, or prevent Iran from importing gasoline, they will have little effect. We aren't going to war either, certainly not under this President; but I never thought that a prudent course of action anyway.

What we could do, however, is to hit back in a way that threatens the existence of the regime. From a Washington Post editorial (of all places):

But as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) pointed out in a powerful speech before the group also on Thursday, the president has hesitated to "unleash America's full moral power to support the Iranian people." Mr. Obama clings to the hope that the radical clique in Tehran will eventually agree to negotiate in good faith -- "an assumption," Mr. McCain noted, that "seems totally at odds with the character of this Iranian regime."

The senator proposed "a different goal: to mobilize our friends and allies in like-minded countries, both in the public sphere and the private sector, to challenge the legitimacy of this Iranian regime, and to support Iran's people in changing the character of their government -- peacefully, politically, on their own terms and in their own ways."

I think there are some other things to be done. The same editorial discusses monies appropriated to help Iranians bypass the censors' firewalls, but of course our State Department has not spent that money. We can step up broadcasts from opponents of the regime, including over satellite. We can buy time on Persian language radio in Los Angeles, which is widely listened to Iran. Most importantly, we need to continue to show ordinary Iranians what an embarrassment Ahmadinejad is. Letting him address the U.N. and Universities should not be seen as a move for ourselves, but as playing to the Iranian public. Ethnic Persians make up the majority of Iran's population. They have a long and proud history as a people and a civilization. The current regime embarrasses them by its buffoonery and the use of foreigners to suppress dissent. Ridicule against this regime and providing practical help to the opposition is our best bet to defuse the current nuclear program.

Will the opposition wish to end the nuclear program? It is not guaranteed, but I guarantee you that the military dictatorship will not. Possessing nuclear weapons is not in the best interests of the Iranian people, who would gain no benefit from them and would incur considerable risk. If true democracy came to Iran, I believe that their leaders would come to believe that as well.

Maybe being sent to the big house won't be such a bad deal, after all.

How do you know we have an effete Harvard dandy in control? And how is it that we are actually in lock-step with a public employees union? Strange days, indeed.

Secular Apostate has the details, here.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Libertarian, Conservative, Tea Party, Who Cares?

Mitch Daniels, governor of Indiana, and by all reports a decent guy, has taken some flak for saying the next President might have to "call for a truce on the so-called social issues." Mike Huckabee disagreed vehemently, saying:

Let me be clear though, the issue of life and traditional marriage are not bargaining chips nor are they political issues. They are moral issues. I didn’t get involved in politics just to lower taxes and cut spending though I believe in both and have done it as a Governor. But I want to stay true to the basic premises of our civilization.
I am not saying that Mitch Daniels is a Tea Party supporter, but Huckabee has certainly kept his distance and used this opportunity to voice conservative distrust of the libertarian leanings of the Tea Party movement. We need to remember that Huckabee will again be a candidate for President. For my part, I think that Governor Daniels had an unfortunate choice of words. According to Andrew Ferguson, "Daniels is pro-life himself, and he gets high marks from conservative religious groups in his state." I think Daniels was saying that the economic mess the country finds itself in is a much more urgent problem than say, abortion or pornography. KT might argue that the pathologies that underlie those issues are at the root of the current mess, I am not so sure. Regardless, within the Tea Party and the Republican party, tensions between conservative and libertarian philosophies are rising.

Two other news items illustrate that something is going on. Reason magazine's cover story this month tackles the issue within the Supreme Court, where conservatives and libertarians are taking a different view of the role of the courts, judicial restraint and the doctrine of original intent. What is clear, is that the judicial activism by left wing judges that has expanded the role and power of government is the common enemy of both libertarian and conservative schools of thought.

The next libertarian vs conservative debate is this one between Sarah Palin and Ron Paul:

Judge Andrew Napolitano is a great American, by the way. He also makes the excellent point towards the end that on the economy, on the role and size of government, conservatives and libertarians have much in common. If you really listen closely to Paul and Palin, you find much common ground, and even the makings of that truce Daniels talks about. Which rounds me back to Mitch Daniels point, inelegantly put as it was. Right now, the chief threat to the Republic is the vast over reach of the Federal government, and its attendant debt, as well as the debt piling up at the state and local level due to unsustainable social programs. This is why both conservatives and libertarians are at the Tea Party rallies.

On a personal note, I have a foot in both camps. I was a Libertarian party member for over 30 years before I left over their lack of seriousness. I disagree with conservatives on the overall solution to illegal immigration (although I do believe we must secure the border). I have long opposed abortion, and believed that some wars, even if we weren't attacked might still be in the national interest, unlike libertarians. But I am comfortable with the Tea Party because the focus is right, which I will again repeat:

The size of government has become a threat to our liberty and prosperity.

Finishing up with Daniels, in an American Spectator article he makes these excellent points:

Yet Daniels continued, "If we (Republicans) had a catch phrase of our own, it would be more like, 'Change That Believes In You.' You're a person of dignity. You're a person who was born to be free, and ... if we simply arrange society in a fair way, you're fully capable of deciding how to spend as many of your dollars as we can leave with you, where your kid should go to school, what health care to buy or not buy."

He explained, "I want to see the next candidacy on our side be somebody who is campaigning to govern, not to merely win."

Daniels said rather than concentrate on personalities, those who believe the country is heading in the wrong direction have to "really think hard, beyond the slogans and our own catechism, about what is to be done and what can be done."

Frankly, this is what concerns me about the current crop of potential opponents to Obama. It is not going to be enough to be against the deficit and against Obamacare, we are going to need practical ideas about how to deal with the consequences of those goals.

Weekend Music Chill - UPDATED

No special reason for this weeks' music. This song has always been a favorite of mine. I always wondered why the artist didn't have more hits.


Dawg has requested a different version of the video, so here it is:

Thursday, June 10, 2010

With Friends Like This? UPDATED

The President has pledged $400 million of your money to the Palestinians in Gaza, while at the same time pressuring Israel to end the blockade there. Little noted is a previous pledge of $900 million that has gone largely undistributed because Gaza is governed by Hamas, a terrorist organization, (scroll down to number 13 on the link.) (UPDATE Oct 8, 2012: The State Department changed their web site, the link above no longer works.  Here is the new link to terrorist organizations, Hamas is still listed.  Also, you might want to check out this educational site on foreign terrorist organizations.)  So aid to Palestinians seems to be having about as much good effect as the stimulus bills. So obviously Obama wants to double down. Throwing money at the problem always works, at least that's what the lefties believe.

Why don't we try this, tell the Palestinians they get bupkis until they stop electing terrorists and stop launching rockets at Israel. Meanwhile Obama is deliberately misrepresenting the situation in this quote:

"With respect to the broader issue of lifting the blockade, as I said before, I think the key here is making sure that Israel's security needs are met but that the needs of people in Gaza are also met," Mr. Obama said.
"And it seems to us that there should be ways of focusing narrowly on arms shipments, rather than focusing in a blanket way on stopping everything and then, in a piecemeal way, allowing things into Gaza."

In fact, the reason that the Israelis have to stop and search every ship is because there are blockade runners trying to disguise arms shipments as relief. Obama knows this and thinks he can get away with this drivel. Obama's hostility towards Israel is part of his reflexively left-wing group-think. And yet, Obama manages to be unpopular both in Israel and in the Muslim world.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

San Diego City Council District 6 Final Results - Primary

Now that the final result are in, I went back and looked at the final numbers in the race:

LORIE ZAPF-------------6870-----36.19 %
HOWARD WAYNE-----4694-----24.72 %
STEVE HADLEY--------3299-----17.38 %
KIM TRAN---------------2525-----13.30 %
RYAN HUCKABONE---1597-------8.41 %

Lorie Zapf's lead was slightly more substantial than I first thought. Also, the three Republicans in the race had about 58% of the vote. I have no experience analyzing local races like this, but it seems that is an interesting result.

I wonder to what extent these results are because there was some excitement for the senate and gubernatorial primary at the top of the ticket, resulting in a higher than normal Republican turn out.

Prop 14 - Unfortunate Outcome

The worst result of yesterday's primary was the passage of Proposition 14. Washington state passed a similar law in 2008, and ended up with zero minor party candidates in November 2008. Further, the law, denies political parties the right to organize themselves as they see fit. In my opinion, this violates the freedom of association that political parties should have to nominate their own candidates, as they are specifically prohibited from nominating candidates. Over at Temple of Mut, Mutjodnet had this to say in recommending a No vote:

14 – NO: Passage of this proposition will lead to a system that tampers with the will of people registered and involved with a specific party while hindering the ability for third party candidates to compete. Furthermore, additional elements of the proposition will prohibit write-in candidates in the general election and allow candidates to conceal their party affiliation from the voter (undermining the transparency needed in a healthy democracy).
No write in candidates either? I am sorry I missed that, Quixotic though it may be, it also seems un-American to prohibit write-ins. Unfortunately, I am not sure what constitutional remedies are available. At the Election Law Blog there is an excellent explanation on the likely failure of a court challenge.

Possibly, the minor parties will have to get together with the major parties to mount a repeal effort down the road. The six parties held a joint press coverage on May 11 in Sacramento to express their mutual opposition to Proposition 14. In the mean time, I think the lack of third party challenges or write-ins in the November election will have the effect of relieving candidates from considering issues important to smaller groups of voters.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Primary Election Night - How the Unions Did UPDATE

Just saw Richard Rider on TV talking about unions lack of success tonight. Oceanside and Chula Vista look set to ban project labor agreements as part of Propositions K and G respectively. Project Labor Agreements which require city projects to hire a certain number of union workers. Additionally, the unions were against the strong mayor ballot measure, proposition D which will likely be defeated.

Lorie Zapf is on TV, talking about being a businesswoman and there is talk of California Republicans nominating many businesswomen, like Whitman and Fiorina. We could do worse, I suppose. Kevin Faulconer and Carl DeMaio both seemed to endorse Lorie Zapf tonight on separate KUSI interviews. Lorie is clearly not a favorite of the unions either, as the current top vote getter, she looks to be the front runner in the November run off in SD City Council District 6.

I am also struck by the seeming low turnout in SD City Council District 8. With about 35% of precincts reporting, it looked like just over 3000 votes (final tally) would put you in the run off for this seat.


HotAir has insight on how unions blew through $10 million to punish Blanche Lincoln for opposing card check, to no avail. Surveying the landscape yesterday, it was really a bad day for the unions. From the article:

The unions will have money in November, but they lost more than just $10 million in Arkansas. They lost a sense of power, especially in organizing, and any claim to rational and expert leadership on the Left. Lincoln was, after all, the incumbent in an anti-incumbent year. If the unions couldn’t knock her out of the race with $10 million and a credible candidate — in two tries — then obviously union leadership has a competence issue.

Quick Question

"But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.." so said Nancy Pelosi last March. If so, now that we have had three months to find out all of its fabulousness, why is the President still selling health care?

Primary Election Night

Watched some local TV and watched the election results and broadcasting from Golden Hall. A shout out to the Tea Party going on there. Had a friend over, the Lakers were beating the Celtics in Boston, and there was some cold Yellowtail Pale Ale in the fridge.

I am really disappointed that Chuck DeVore didn't poll better, but it was still good to have him in the race. I think Carly Fiorina is ready to run as a conservative as a result, and will give Barbara Boxer a tough run for it. If the Democrats are having trouble defending their senate seat in California, this could be a disastrous November for them. It would be better if the replacement Republicans were serious about reducing spending and income tax rates, but we'll see. Incidentally, Poizner, in his concession speech said the same thing; that his candidacy had moved Whitman to more conservative positions. In the governor's race, it is rumored that Jerry Brown will use social issues, the so called nuclear option, to defeat Meg Whitman. My sense is that such a strategy won't sit well with unemployment and anger over stimulus waste.

Locally, in the District 6 City Council race, Lorie Zapf, jumped out to a big lead over Howard Wayne, but clearly this is headed for a run off in November. District 6 is fairly evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, so these results are surprising, I want to see if they hold up. The three Republican candidates are pulling down 56% of the vote in early returns; not sure if that is significant. Big dollars from unions are going to Howard Wayne. Also, these are mostly mail in ballots, right now.

I'm wondering if union support isn't over-rated. Not only is Wayne not getting help locally, in Arkansas Blanche Lincoln couldn't be ousted by a multimillion dollar campaign by unions in the Democratic primary. I saw headlines saying that she survived an anti-incumbent mood, but I think that is too facile. Bill Clinton campaigned for her and I think the public mood is turning very sour on unions.

In Nevada, the Tea Party candidate, Sharron Angle will be the Republican nominee. I think this is great news. Harry Reid may have thought he wanted to face her, but I think he is underestimating the enthusiasm of the Tea Party. We need some Republicans in the Senate to be radicals on spending reduction to make any progress on getting the country back on track.

Maybe some more commentary later tonight, if there is anything that changes my views of tonight's results.

So That Explains It - Obama Economics Fail

A couple of seemingly unrelated articles have brought the source of Obama's economic failure into sharp focus. First, The Foundry (The Heritage Foundation blog) reports that private sector job creation fell by 190,000 this year. They get it right, by avoiding the phrase "despite the stimulus" and not quite saying "because of the stimulus." They also get to the heart of why unemployment remains so high, and private sector employment remains so low.
How could job losses have been worse in 2001 but unemployment so much higher now? Weak job creation. The latest Bureau of Labor and Statistics data show that employers have created 8.6 million fewer new jobs this time around than they did almost a decade ago. Heritage Senior Labor Policy Analyst James Sherk estimates that lower job creation accounts for 65 percent of the recession’s decreased employment.Our nation’s unemployment rate is hovering near 10% not because of record job losses, as Biden suggests, but because of record job non-creation. Private sector employers have gone on strike. Contrary to what the President’s economic wizards and New York Times columnists believe, massive government deficit spending does not stimulate job creation. President Obama does not have a secret vault of money he can just throw at the American people. The resources the government spends come from the economy. When the government increases spending, it crowds out the resources that business owners could have invested in their enterprises.
The key fact is that employers are on strike, or lock out, because of Obama's tax and spend policies. But why would Team Barry believe this in the first place? An interesting study publicized in today's Wall Street Journal, explains alot.

Zogby researcher Zeljka Buturovic and I considered the 4,835 respondents' (all American adults) answers to eight survey questions about basic economics. We also asked the respondents about their political leanings: progressive/very liberal; liberal; moderate; conservative; very conservative; and libertarian. .... In this case, percentage of conservatives answering incorrectly was 22.3%, very conservatives 17.6% and libertarians 15.7%. But the percentage of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly was 67.6% and liberals 60.1%. The pattern was not an anomaly.
Left Coast Rebel guest blogger Conservative Generation has some great personal observations on the study and liberal commentary on it. My favorite:

The government should not cap oil prices in response to a supply shock. I thought anyone living the Carter years would agree with that one.

Do we need any more proof that more stimulus when we are already awash in debt won't help the economy? Do we really think imposing taxes while wasting government dollars on non-productive uses will really save the economy? If you flunked Econ 101 you might.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Quote of the Week

Comes from Arthur Laffer in today's Wall Street Journal:

It has always amazed me how tax cuts don't work until they take effect.
I know that KT has talked about paying enough in taxes to cover our deficits, but there are solid arguments to be made on the limits of raising revenue through the income tax. Hauser's law is an observation that, despite a variety of tax rates imposed since World War II, the percent of federal income tax receipts as a share of GDP has held remarkably steady at 19.5%. In practice, this means that the federal government should set tax rates in a way that encourages investment and saving. Only by growing GDP does federal income tax receipts grow.

I allow that other forms of taxation bring in revenue to the feds, but that is not the point of the current discussion. The combination of tax increases set to take effect in 2011 almost guarantee Obama a one term presidency, don't take my word for it, here is what tax experts H&R Block have to say:

Beginning in 2011, tax rates in effect prior to 2001 spring back into effect. The top income tax rate returns to 39.6 percent, and the special low 10 percent bracket is eliminated. Whether this will actually happen will be at the heart of a spirited battle in Congress.

Estate Tax Revived

For individuals dying after 2011, the federal estate tax returns with a $1,000,000 exemption and a 50 percent maximum rate. This assumes that Congress allows the estate tax to disappear in 2011, which is unlikely.

Increase in Capital Gains and Dividend Tax Rates

The tax rate reductions for long-term capital gains and dividends is scheduled to expire this year.

In 2011, the maximum long-term capital gains tax rate goes back up to 20 percent from 15 percent. A lower 10 percent tax rate is used by individuals who are in the 15 percent tax bracket. Their long-term capital gains had been tax-free since 2008.
In 2011, dividend income (other than capital gain distributions from mutual funds) is taxed as ordinary income at your highest marginal tax rate.

Child Tax Credit

The credit of $1,000 per eligible child reverts to $500 after 2011. After 2011, none of the child tax credit will be refundable to taxpayers unless their earned income is more than $12,550. This is one of the many Bush tax cuts currently scheduled to expire after 2011.

Payroll Tax Credit

Starting in 2011, the partial credit for payroll taxes paid is no longer available.

Decreased Section 179 Expense Deduction

Taxpayers who purchase qualifying business property may elect to deduct the cost of the property (new or used) in the year that it is placed in service. This is referred to as a Section 179 deduction. In 2010 and 2011, the maximum amount of property that may be taken as a Section 179 deduction is $125,000, as indexed for inflation. In 2011 and future years, the maximum deduction drops to $25,000.

College Savings Plans

Beginning in 2011, 529 Plans can no longer be tapped tax-free to pay for a computer or Internet access.

Tax Credit for College Tuition

The Hope credit is again limited to the first two years of college and is capped at $1,800. None of the credit is refundable if it is more than your regular income tax liability.

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

Temporary increases in the Earned Income Tax Credit for filers with three or more children and the higher income levels for the phaseout of the credit are repealed.

The blog Emptysuit has a nice summary as well. The collective weight of these marginal tax rate increases will inevitably kill any economic recovery.

No One Challenged Your Manhood, Just Your Competence

In another petulant and childish display, the President simultaneously uses perfectly proper grammar while indulging a schoolyard bully slang expression to try to look tough on the oil spill.

"I don't sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar, we talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick."

Actually, that's exactly what we think (the college seminar part). I find it interesting that Obama is self aware enough to know that the public is starting to view him as an ineffectual intellectual, but not smart enough to realize that his use of perfectly proper grammar undermines his street cred.

Finally, the only street cred people really care about is if the federal government had been able to take action to prevent or stop the spill. Short of that, nobody really cares about all the posing, fake street talk, or any other stupid thing you might think of.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Remembering D-Day

Dwight D. Eisenhower, the organizational genius behind the most impressive amphibious assault in the history of the world, will forever be known as a liberator many orders of magnitude above anything your humble blogger will ever achieve. He also sported the coolest wartime title, Supreme Allied Commander Europe. We forget that fascism was the most difficult ideological challenge the west has ever faced, greater than communism and certainly far greater than the minuscule challenge posed by the Islamofascists. Nazism/fascism was coupled to a fierce nationalism that gave it early energy. Its seeming early successes made it appear to be the wave of the future.

But ultimately, the core belief of fascism, that only a single ruthless leader supported by a supine ruling elite could order society for its own good, caused its own undoing. When faced with an invading army that gave its captains and lieutenants freedom of action within a shared common plan and vision, fascism fell. From the History Place, here is a little quote about a reason for the allies success (the whole article is worth a read):

For German field commanders on the scene, the first minutes of the invasion brought great alarm and great confusion. Frantic phone calls went out to their generals and they in turn phoned the High Command, whose ranking members were presently staying with Hitler at his mountaintop villa at Berchtesgaden, not at their regular headquarters.

The immediate question was whether or not the Normandy landings, and earlier attacks by parachutists, were all part of an elaborate Allied ruse to draw their attention away from Calais. No one could say for sure. The result was indecision by Hitler and the High Command. And this bought precious time for the Allied landing troops now inching themselves forward in the sand.

In marked contrast to the rigid and inflexible command structure Hitler had imposed on his armies, Allied field commanders were authorized by General Eisenhower to make on-the-spot decisions about how to proceed. For the Americans at both Utah and Omaha beaches, this frontline improvisation saved the day. At Utah, troops under the command of General Theodore Roosevelt Jr. quickly realized they had landed on the wrong spot, a sparsely defended stretch of beach with a single road leading inland. Roosevelt decided to press forward anyway, gambling that he could get his troops off the beach and dash inland via the small road before the Germans could reposition themselves for a counter-attack. And it worked.

We would do well, almost 60 years later to remember those lessons and the sacrifice of that generation that turned back the greatest threat to this country since the civil war. And Mr. President, your tough year and a half in office? It doesn't come close.

American assault troops in a landing craft huddle behind the protective front of the craft as it nears the beachhead. Smoke in the background is Naval gunfire supporting the landing. Below: At Omaha Beach, Americans aid men who reached the shore in a life raft after their landing craft was sunk.

A German machine-gunner in heavy action following the landings.

Chris Christie May Be the Most Important Politician in America

Sorry Sarah, as much as we like you, you aren't currently an elected official, nor does it look you are running. Governor Christie (R-NJ) is the most prominent elected official calling out the unions, their tactics, high spending and high taxes as the key issues facing the United States. I don't know if he is a Tea Party sympathizer or not, doesn't matter, he gets it. He knows that taking on the public employee unions is the number one issue facing his state, and by extension, all of these United States. In the following video, at about the 4:05 mark, he gets off the money quote, "If we don't win this fight, there isn't any other fight to win."

He is also a master at taking on the lefty mind set, where the left is always somehow more intelligent or morally superior in every argument, and when the left is losing on the merits of its logic, they resort to name calling. Watch how he calls out a reporter after being accused of having a confrontational tone

I also like the way he has a laser focus on the key issues. He says the left is in favor of bigger government, more taxes and higher spending. None of those are popular with America, so the left obfuscates the fact that they are always plumping for just that. There is enormous power in pointing out these inescapable facts. Too bad he was only just elected governor, I think his style, such a polar opposite to Obama's would play very well in a Presidential election.

Furthermore, he understands how to govern. His budget is very unpopular with the Democrats who hold the majority in the state houses and they are pulling some tricks to allow it to be passed in a way that they can deny responsibility. But the governor has the Democrats scared and they don't want the blame for a government shutdown. From the Newark NJ Star-Ledger:

The plan, described to The Star-Ledger by lawmakers of both parties involved in the discussions, would leave the Republican governor’s $29.3 billion budget largely intact, preserving most of the most unpopular cuts, like $820 million in aid to school districts. But several smaller changes will be made, which could include more money for public libraries, keeping open Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital in Hunterdon County, and preserving the so-called blue laws that forbid Sunday shopping in Bergen County.

The deal would also entail a legislative maneuver placing responsibility for the budget on Republican lawmakers, a rare move with Democrats controlling both houses of the Legislature.
The deal isn't done yet, but it already shown the power and popularity of his governing style. Combative or not, he is getting results and doing so without compromising on the key issue of reducing spending and curbing public employees unions, what more could the Tea Party ask for?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Obamacare - We Had to Pass the Bill to Find out the Fabulousness of it all

Dean has been all over the slow motion train wreck that is Obamacare. However, I think I have stumbled across an item that he may have overlooked. From Reason's fabulous Hit & Run blog:
In section 4205, which lays out requirements for nutrition labeling at chain restaurants, the new health care law instructs the administration's Health and Human Services Secretary to "consider standardization of recipes and methods of preparation,..
Time to admit defeat, declare Demolition Man prophetic, and convert all restaurants to Taco Bells?
If you have seen the Sylvester Stallone movie about a post-apocalyptic future, also starring Sandra Bullock, titled Demolition Man, then you will get their joke about the All Taco Bell Future.

This is the most un-American aspect of Obamacare imaginable. Directing that our food all be prepared the same way? Even the Soviet Union didn't go that far.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Why We Don't Let Kids be Kids

Longtime San Diego residents may recognize this piece of playground equipment.

Waynok, our official artist and videographer, has some interesting observations about the end of the playground as we knew it. He relates the safety craze to the generally rampant political correctness in society in general. It seems part of the liberal mind set that no one should ever feel any pain, or have to struggle, or feel discomfort. The latest outrage in this vain, (H/T Weaselzippers)is a soccer league in Ottawa, Canada that will penalize any team with a forfeit for winning by more than five goals.

In yet another nod to the protection of fledgling self-esteem, an Ottawa children’s soccer league has introduced a rule that says any team that wins a game by more than five points will lose by default.

The Gloucester Dragons Recreational Soccer league’s newly implemented edict is intended to dissuade a runaway game in favour of sportsmanship. The rule replaces its five-point mercy regulation, whereby any points scored beyond a five-point differential would not be registered.
It's as if the Discomfort Doctrine has become universal. I like Waynok's closing comments on the issue:

What is it accomplishing? Why is becoming super sensitive going to make everything better? Why can’t we just be a little thicker-skinned? This trend saddens my heart. I just hope it doesn’t keep getting worse because I don’t know how much of it I can take.
[Ed. note: Waynok is my 21 year old son.]