Friday, May 31, 2013

Weekend Music Chill

I am feeling good about the country today.  Obama's agenda, whatever it was, is bogged down in the land of Scandalabra.  Oil and gas drilling in North America might save the economy.  The internal contradictions of the ACA are becoming so glaring, that its failure is becoming obvious to the masses.  Time for some party music:

First, a tune that I built a new Pandora station around, "Glad You Came" by The Wanted.

And this one for my brother-in-law, who thinks he still has the moves.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

High Speed Choo-Choo to be De-Railed?

The U-T is reporting that the California High Speed rail project could come crashing down in court tomorrow.
A Sacramento County Superior Court judge is scheduled to hear arguments in a lawsuit that claims the project doesn’t comply with a statewide ballot measure approving $9.9 billion in bonds for the systems.
. . . Former Sen. Quentin Kopp, involved in planning high-speed rail since 1992, states in an expert declaration in the case that the so-called “blended” system forcing the bullet train and standard rail to share tracks from San Francisco to San Jose is not genuine high-speed rail.
Even if the lawsuit fails, it is clear that the voters were sold a pack of lies.  Dean has been covering the history.

There is no doubt that even if the state loses the lawsuit, that won't prevent them from moving forward.  It is a hallmark of this era that mere judicial rulings do not deter the government from proceeding with its intended aims.

Researching the text of the law, I came across this little gem:

"the planned passenger train service to be provided by the authority, or pursuant to its authority, will not require operating subsidy." This must be certified prior to expending funds.  I don't know if it is part of the lawsuit, but I wouldn't want to be the state official who had to sign that document.

We will see what happens tomorrow.

What You Should Be Reading

Dawn Wildman exposes the intellectual bankruptcy of the so-called Common Core curriculum.

Naked D.C has a hilarious take on the Scandalabra engulfing the administration and a picture of Eric Holder in a sparkly speedo. Truly must read to put it all together.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Shinzo Abe Cannot Save Japan

Source: The Economist.

I should probably just end this post with the picture, but a little explanation would be polite.  Shinzo Abe is on the cover of this week's Economist.  Ironically, it is also source of the graphic above.  The Economist is all but endorsing Shinzo Abe's approach to revitalizing Japan, but unless something radical changes with its demographics, it will have too many old people to support with too few workers.  They admit as much in one of the opening paragraphs:
Pulling Japan out of its slump is a huge task. After two lost decades, the country’s nominal GDP is the same as in 1991, while the Nikkei, even after the recent surge, is at barely a third of its peak. Japan’s shrinking workforce is burdened by the cost of a growing number of the elderly. Its society has turned inwards and its companies have lost their innovative edge.
What are the Prime Minister's bold proposals?  More government spending in an economy with an already debt to GDP ratio over 200% and printing money.  And vague "supply side" reforms to be created by five different commissions.  This won't help, but to be fair, nothing will help.  Mr. Abe also proposes to reinvigorate national pride.  Unless this results in more babies; nothing he does will do much good, because his economy lacks workers and the old folks want their benefits.

A stable or growing population is a source of economic growth.  We see this over and over throughout the world.  When native birth rates fall, then immigration is the only other source of population increase, which isn't happening in insular Japan.

Here in the United States, immigration reform is necessary for the same demographic reasons as exists in Japan.  However, pulling in an unskilled immigrant population that is as dependent on the government as the elderly will do us no good.  We need skilled and wealthy immigrants.  The current effort in the Senate does not emphasize this outcome.

What You Should Be Reading

Dean outlines simple and common sense health care reform implemented by one doctor.

Could we finally be getting rid of that miserable hack Holder?

Monday, May 27, 2013

What Obama's Scandals Have in Common

The scandals besetting the administration have this in common, they all spring from a desire to score political victory at all costs.  The administration's belief is that it must maintain a narrative, convenient to the President, facts be damned, rule of law as well.

The scandal of Benghazi grew out of a desire to wish away the inconvenience of the resurgence of al-Qaeda.  Obama was supposed to have won the war on terror by killing bin Laden, the success of terrorists in killing a U.S. ambassador couldn't be admitted to, so some poor schlub who made a third rate video finds himself behind bars.  Some excellent background and the Petraeus connection here.

The IRS targeting of tea party and "patriot" groups came after prominent Democratic politicians and the left wing grass roots led a drumbeat of accusations that the tea party was not a genuine grass roots movement, but a creature of the Koch brothers and anonymous right-wing billionaires.  We were warned that Democrats might push the IRS to target conservative groups in 2010 and look what happened.

Similarly, the massive dragnet against the AP's phone records look like payback for another story that upset the Obama narrative about the war on terror.  In May of the election year, the AP broke a story of an al-Qaeda plot to blow up an airliner on the anniversary of the bin Laden killing.  Bringing to the public's attention the fact that there were negative consequences to the killing of bin Laden and the fact that the terrorists are still active is another inconvenient narrative.

Finally, while not a scandal, the pending furloughs of defense employees was also wholly avoidable.    The administration directed the Defense Department to continue spending at last year's levels, rather than setting aside reserves in case of sequestration.  Allowing any hint that there would be actually be a sequestration might hurt Obama's chances for re-election in northern Virginia home to many defense employees and contractors.  The administration even told contractors that they shouldn't send out the warning notices that their might be layoffs.  Now, furloughs will cause across the board delays to defense programs, which will cascade into increased costs in future years.  Meanwhile, the administration has yet to propose any significant program cuts that would rationalize the defense budget.

What connects these issues is the unlimited greed for power and the bending of every portion of the government to maintain the President's power.  Ironically, the scandals will weaken Obama during his second term.

What You Should Be Reading

DooDoo Economics reports on Microsoft getting into the political discrimination business.  Memo to Bill Gates, the election is over.

Mark Steyn tells you all you need to know about the rot that is Britain, as revealed by the machete murders in Woolwich.  The reaction of the British is more frightening than the heinous crime itself.

Patrick Buchanan explains why the Middle East will stay engulfed in civil war for a while, and why we should stay out of it.  There is precious little the U.S. can do to influence a good outcome there.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

What You Should Be Reading - College Grads and Jobs

With the U.S. still not increasing the percentage of those employed, today's reading is about jobs and college graduates.

First, the graph above represents the percent of people employed vs the total population.  Notice how well it's doing during this "recovery," statistically unchanged since it bottomed out during Obama's first term.  If you think its bad news that the percentage of people with jobs never recovered, you're right.  On to some insight on the current situation for college grads.

Kirk McDonald, President of an Ad Tech company in Manhattan, explains why he isn't hiring you, if you are a recent U.S. college grad.

Even CNBC pounces on colleges' failure to disclose how well they prepare graduates for the job market.  If you can't read the full article, here is the money quote:
Indeed, the McKinsey study found that a disturbing one-third of graduates "did not feel college prepared them well for employment."
Leslie Eastman, at College Insurrection, wonders who will take the blame for these grads not getting jobs. 

A repeat, but Walter Russell Mead explains why there will be structural shifts in employment in the coming decade.  This has implications for college grads.  Hint: Don't major in an area that can be outsourced or performed by computers. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Cover Up - IRS Harassment of tea party Groups

Here comes the cover up.  Yesterday, I wrote about the IRS illegal targeting tea party groups for harassment.  Today, there are reports of a cover up and much, much earlier knowledge by senior IRS officials.  Hotair has great coverage of the story, but if you don't have time, here is all you need to know, from the AP.

A federal watchdog's upcoming report says senior Internal Revenue Service officials knew agents were targeting tea party groups in 2011. 
The disclosure contradicts public statements by former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, who repeatedly assured Congress that conservative groups were not targeted.
And the left mocks conservatives for buying guns as insurance against eventual government tyranny or anarchy.  How are the IRS' tactics any different from what Chavez did in Venezuela?  Oh, I forgot, he was BFFs with the likes of Sean Penn and Danny Glover, so he couldn't have done anything wrong either.

Hopefully Mr. Shulman can find himself on trial for perjury, since he denied any of this in March 2012.

What You Should Be Reading

Walter Russell Mead looks at the future of work and paints a scary picture.  I actually agree with his conclusions.  Mead is a great writer and thinker in general, I read and listened to a number of his lectures in a strategic planning class I took last year and always found his work insightful.

W.C. Varones explains why San Diego County Taxpayers Association is not to be trusted through the example of the Poway "borrow $100 million - pay back $1 billion bonds."

Mark Steyn, with his usual bite, sums up the utter depravity of Hillary Clinton's response to Behghazi. Many conservatives believe that she would have been a less awful President than Obama. I just think it would have been a different kind of awful.

Weekend Music Chill

This weekend's music starts slow, but is quite rousing. It is very different from what I normally listen to.

Friday, May 10, 2013

An Apology is not Enough - IRS Harassment of tea party Groups

The IRS finally acknowledged what conservative groups have known since early 2012, they were targeted for special scrutiny by the IRS when applying for tax exempt status.  The WSJ is reporting:
A congressional aide familiar with the findings of the inspector general's report said it concludes that tea-party groups were delayed in the application process, and were asked unnecessary questions.
The power of the IRS to ruin the life of the average citizen is well known.  Besides being a clear abuse of power, IRS harassment is a powerful tool to stifle dissent.  Nixon is alleged to have used the IRS to harass those on his "enemies list," to great and well deserved outrage.  Leftists who are the most vocal about Nixon are saying nothing or even saying that the tea party groups deserved the scrutiny because of collective guilt for being front organizations for business interests.  I won't link the Daily Kos articles that so state.

I am not alleging that this effort was directed by the Obama administration.  It matters not why the harassment took place, when it is targeted based on belief it is unconscionable.  The IRS has too much power over our lives.  The complexity of the tax code makes average citizens potential criminals.  The ACA has put an even larger burden the IRS, and at the same time made it more likely that an individual tax return will be out of compliance and subject to audit.

There will be a lot of hoopla about ensuring there is an investigation.  Much will be made of imposing new rules that ensure "fairness."  What is really needed is tax code simplification, across the board, not just in the area of tax exempt organizations.

What You Should Be Reading

DooDooEcon examines this IRS story and other Friday dumping by the administration that tends to escape notice.  

Byron York summarizes how heightened border security proposals are getting killed in Senate committee on 10 Democrats plus Graham and Flake. Lack of adequate border security will kill the usefulness of this bill.  We need to contact our House members.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Why I Froze My Eggs - You Ignored the Wisdom of Ages

I started to read a WSJ article that discussed egg freezing this weekend while visiting my parents.  Ever the optimist, I thought this would be an article about giving married woman more options, which might also reverse our low birthrates.  Instead, the second paragraph revealed the real issue:
Egg freezing stopped the sadness that I was feeling at losing my chance to have the child I had dreamed about my entire life. It soothed my pangs of regret for frittering away my 20s with a man I didn't want to have children with, and for wasting more years in my 30s with a man who wasn't sure he even wanted children. It took away the punishing pressure to seek a new mate and helped me find love again at age 42.
I don't normally wade into the culture wars, leaving that for KT and Leslie (Leslie also posts regularly on College Insurrection).  But I have to ask what inability to assimilate socially useful information (search that phrase) results in a decade and a half of relationship futility with known losers?  Decade 1: you know that you don't want to have children with Dolt #1, despite your claim that having children is your lifelong dream, but hey what's a decade?  Decade 2: Dude can't even decide?  Sorry, a real man will either say "I want to have children and marriage for life; honey you're the one I want to make babies with" or "I don't want kids, I am focused on my own career, or whatever, but I still want the lifelong marriage."  Mister milquetoast does neither and Ms. Egg Freezer can't bring herself to leave this loser.  I didn't read the rest of the article, because this woman had destroyed her credibility in two short paragraphs.  And she is sadly mistaken if she thinks that this all cost her $50,000.  It cost far, far more and sadder still, she is now lying to herself about it.

This is why, in ancient times, like up to a few centuries ago, marriages were arranged by parents or through some other means.  Relationships outside of the context of life long commitment weren't even contemplated.  The lesson to be drawn is that you only date those with whom you see a possibility of marriage.  My oldest son, in his early twenties, gets this.  If you ask him why he hasn't been on that many dates, he will say that he only dates women with whom he intends to have a serious relationship.  By serious, he means potentially leading to marriage.  Why bother otherwise, he says, it just wastes the precious little time that God has given him on this earth.  That American women in their late thirties do not understand this concept eludes my comprehension.  Like all great principles, this one is simple and understandable.

What You Should Be Reading

Dean calls out Chuck Schumer for throwing Obama under the bus, acknowledging that the ACA is going to send your health care bills through the roof.  Relatedly, Megan McArdle analyzes why access to Medicaid doesn't make Oregonians healthier.  

As Professor Mark J. Perry has been pointing out on his blog, Shale oil and gas in North America is THE game changer.  Even Obama can't stop this from benefiting the U.S. in a big way.  The National Interest looks at the national security implications.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Listening to Scott Peters This Week

I had a chance to listen to my Congressman, Scott Peters (CA-52) earlier this week.  I should have posted sooner, but not much of what he said in the 15 minutes was very newsworthy.  He comes across as a bit soft spoken and very reasonable sounding, and frankly a lot more appealing personally than the incumbent he defeated in 2012, Brian Bilbray.

He spoke about his work on the House Armed Services Committee, which is important to San Diego, as well as the Science and Technology committee.  He has urged flexibility in how the Pentagon allocates its funding to allow each service to reduce civilian employee furloughs, which was popular with his audience.  He discussed the increasing importance of defending against cyber attacks, but didn't really cover any new ground.

On the budget, he said that the freshman class was characterized by an attitude of wanting to get a deal done that reduced the budget deficit through some sort of compromise.  He said that lack of progress could be attributed to bad blood and memories of previous battles on both sides of the aisle.  He believes that President Obama has actually called for reasonable compromise with the GOP, specifically that entitlements must be reformed.  However, he characterized that in the context of asking for more tax revenue as part of a larger bargain.  I was also struck by the number of times he referred to the Democrat leadership with the term chain of command.

The audience questions were mostly related to cyber threats, furloughs and the direction of the fiscal year 2014 budget. But as I said, little new ground was plowed.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Debate Over Tsarnaev's Rights

I have seen commentary about whether or not Dzokhar Tsarnaev should have been given his "Miranda Rights" immediately or not.  On one hand, there are those who say that the "public safety" exception where questioning can proceed without Miranda warning where "police officers have an objectively reasonable need to protect the police or public from immediate danger."  Although the Supreme Court has carved out this exception, I think it requires modification to protect all citizen's rights.  If the police have need to invoke the exception, any evidence obtained should not be admissible.  In this way, the police won't be tempted to stretch the limits of the exception to the breaking point, while still giving them the opportunity to act in the interests of public safety.

Liberty Movement Reading

How is the ACA is actually reducing the amount of health insurance the average employee receives from their employer?  Remember when we heard, "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it?"

Income inequality is rising screams the left, blaming Chimpy McBush Hitler, but the actual event and time frame goes much farther back.  Curious as to when and why? See W.C. Varones blog.