Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sorry for the hiatus

I have been busy doing some high level analytics, inventing shots, and getting into pushup contests at bars.  Living the dream, but I have a few things to cover now.

First, me and all my buddies at the NYT (You're my boy Krugman!) balanced the budget this past week, you can check out what I did here


I was able to do it with minimal tax increases, the only ones really coming from the closing of loopholes to simplify the tax code that led to a small real increase in the rates.  I have some problems with this, like the fact that we can only cut foreign aid in half and we can only cut federal payroll by 5% but this does not seem that hard if people are willing to make tough choices.  I even made military cuts for Greg, although I would prefer an option that brings every soldier stationed in Europe home immediately and let those self righteous socialists take care of themselves for the first time in a century.

I also would have liked an option to boot the UN out of NYC and never give another dime to that criminal organization.  Between the sex crimes, the corruption, the antisemitism and the legitimization it gives thugs and murderous leaders and regimes as part of a transnational body, it just makes me sick.   This clip from earlier this week gives a picture perfect example of everything that is wrong with this kabuki theater and the current administration.


Obama sends these people to prostrate themselves and by association our entire country before the altar of transnational organizations, political correctness and collectivism.  They sit there, get lectured on racial relations by Cuba, by Human Rights by Iran, Women's right by Saudi Arabia and God knows what by Venezuela.  The message here is that America is not exceptional, that we have been and are bad, mean, racist, unilateral and unpleasant. The only thing that can ever hope to redeem us is the fact that we were smart enough to elect Obama, if only briefly The One just told us that we are currently too stupid to appreciate how awesome he is.

Finally, I would like to extend a big thank you to Al Gore.  While I think he is dishonest, creepy and incredibly dull, he has had a few redeeming moments.

1. Inventing the Internet
2. Bringing the phrase "Release my second Chakra" into the vernacular, which got me and the entire desk through a few weeks of work as the best pick up line in the history of the world.
3. Admitting that ethanol is a joke and is just a larger, more aggressive form of farm subsidies that no one will touch because there are Presidential primaries in Iowa.

Things like ethanol and earmarks and NPR are not going to balance the budget, there are hard decisions about programs that people care about and to some extent depend on that are going to have to be made, but if these small somewhat symbolic (when did billions become small and symbolic?!??!) cuts cannot be made to the budget then what can actually be done?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

Mike Royko on Veteran's Day, hits it on the head

Thank all of you for your service, especially the Marine's where my Pops served on Guadalcanal and Okinawa

If you are so inclined this is a charity I care about to give my own money to, not just government cheese, you would be hard pressed to find a better cause.

I just phoned six friends and asked them what they will be doing on Monday.
They all said the same thing: working.
Me, too.
There is something else we share. We are all military veterans.
And there is a third thing we have in common. We are not employees of the federal government, state government, county government, municipal government, the Postal Service, the courts, banks, or S & Ls, and we don’t teach school.
If we did, we would be among the many millions of people who will spend Monday goofing off.
Which is why it is about time Congress revised the ridiculous terms of Veterans Day as a national holiday.
The purpose of Veterans Day is to honor all veterans.
So how does this country honor them?
By letting the veterans, the majority of whom work in the private sector, spend the day at their jobs so they can pay taxes that permit millions of non-veterans to get paid for doing nothing.
As my friend Harry put it:
"First I went through basic training. Then infantry school. Then I got on a crowded, stinking troop ship that took 23 days to get from San Francisco to Japan. We went through a storm that had 90 percent of the guys on the ship throwing up for a week.
"Then I rode a beat-up transport plane from Japan to Korea, and it almost went down in the drink. I think the pilot was drunk.
"When I got to Korea, I was lucky. The war ended seven months after I got there, and I didn’t kill anybody and nobody killed me.
"But it was still a miserable experience. Then when my tour was over, I got on another troop ship and it took 21 stinking days to cross the Pacific.
"When I got home on leave, one of the older guys at the neighborhood bar — he was a World War II vet — told me I was a ----head because we didn’t win, we only got a tie.
"So now on Veterans Day I get up in the morning and go down to the office and work.
"You know what my nephew does? He sleeps in. That’s because he works for the state.
"And do you know what he did during the Vietnam War? He ducked the draft by getting a job teaching at an inner-city school.
"Now, is that a raw deal or what?"
Of course that’s a raw deal. So I propose that the members of Congress revise Veterans Day to provide the following:
- All veterans — and only veterans — should have the day off from work. It doesn’t matter if they were combat heroes or stateside clerk-typists.
Anybody who went through basic training and was awakened before dawn by a red-neck drill sergeant who bellowed: "Drop your whatsis and grab your socks and fall out on the road," is entitled.
- Those veterans who wish to march in parades, make speeches or listen to speeches can do so. But for those who don’t, all local gambling laws should be suspended for the day to permit vets to gather in taverns, pull a couple of tables together and spend the day playing poker, blackjack, craps, drinking and telling lewd lies about lewd experiences with lewd women. All bar prices should be rolled back to enlisted men’s club prices, Officers can pay the going rate, the stiffs.
- All anti-smoking laws will be suspended for Veterans Day. The same hold for all misdemeanor laws pertaining to disorderly conduct, non-felonious brawling, leering, gawking and any other gross and disgusting public behavior that does not harm another individual.
- It will be a treasonable offense for any spouse or live-in girlfriend (or boyfriend, if it applies) to utter the dreaded words: "What time will you be home tonight?"
- Anyone caught posing as a veteran will be required to eat a triple portion of chipped beef on toast, with Spam on the side, and spend the day watching a chaplain present a color-slide presentation on the horrors of VD.
- Regardless of how high his office, no politician who had the opportunity to serve in the military, but didn’t, will be allowed to make a patriotic speech, appear on TV, or poke his nose out of his office for the entire day.
Any politician who defies this ban will be required to spend 12 hours wearing headphones and listening to tapes of President Clinton explaining his deferments.
Now, deal the cards and pass the tequila.
- Mike Royko

Election Results a week later

How did I do?

I went 50-50.  McClung, Kelly and Bielat all lost while Gibson, West and Schilling came through with victories.  The money that I have to Bielat was a lottery ticket at best because of the district that he was running in can best be described here by Frank J. of IMAO

"We have people with absolutely no qualifications whatsoever screwing with American businesses and there is no way to stop them because they live in districts where everyone is retarded, like San Francisco or areas of Massachusetts. In a just, capitalistic world, Barney Frank would be living on the streets covered in his own excrement, but instead he gets to screw up business after business with no accountability because apparently he lives in a district where the citizens are constantly being outsmarted by squirrels."

The rest are really frustrating.  McClung and Kelly were close, especially McClung who came within a few thousand votes of winning.  

Now that I have gotten the sour grapes about MA out in the open, let's review what happened.

The biggest swing in the House in two generations.  In a cycle where the seats up for election dictated a defensive strategy the Republicans made gains in the Senate, attaining concrete filibuster with the sweetener of taking home Obama's old seat.  Key Governor's races and state legislatures all broke towards the Republican side, which will have long repercussions in redistricting votes and presidential primaries down the road.  This is a historic ass kicking which feels somewhat disappointing because there were seats left on the table that could have been won.  The Blue Dogs were put to the sword, to the surprise of no one, because they were the embodiment of Obama's politics.  When nothing was on the line they would talk about of both sides of their mouths and entertain conservative ideas that their constituents favored, like him running a centrist campaign on a net spending and tax cut.  However, when push came to shove, they would toe the line and vote however Pelosi demanded.  Good riddance.

In the near term this means that Card Check, Cap and Trade and amnesty for illegals are all off the table.  In the long term what it means is that Republicans have another chance that I am not sure if they deserve.  I do not think they spent enough time in the wilderness to merit a return to power this quickly.  They squandered their authority in the early 00's by expanding government spending and debt with "compassionate conservatism" that was, in reality, Democrat-Lite.  The first thing on every mind as they enter the new term of Congress must be that they were sent their to reduce, by any means necessary, the massive government of the country rather than to merely administrate it.  

There are tough decisions ahead.  Popular programs like college aid, Social Security, Medicare and all sorts of farm and business subsidies are going to have to be cut drastically.  Grown up decisions are going to have to be made by politicians who need to talk to us like adults about the realities of the world, rather than mouthing platitudes that belong on bumper stickers while promising us double rainbows and unicorns at no cost to anyone making under 250K.  

I do not think that Obama has it in him to tack right like Clinton did in this situation.  Choking back vomit, I watched his press conference after the election and it was obvious he still just does not get it.  He blamed the losses and backlash not on his policies, but on the fact that he did not communicate clearly how awesome his policies are.  Basically, we are not smart enough to understand how lucky we are to have this super awesome Dear Leader ramming policies that are opposed by the majority of the population down our throats.  If only he used smaller words, we could comprehend how lucky we are to be living in such a time.  His arrogance and condescension know no bounds.  

The bottom line is, elections have consequences, and I am going to go get myself a Slurpee and enjoy 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

NRO again!


My story from this morning made the corner!  They should just let me post there at this point

By Jonah Goldberg      
From a reader:
Lincoln Park, bright blue, empty polling place.  We have to vote twice for the Senate, one for the remainder of this session and one for next.  When I described the remainder as a “Lame Duck” session the 4 democrat poll watchers all sighed and looked like they had just sucked on a lemon and said “We prefer to not call it that.”  The other 2 people voting laughed when I told them that denial was not going to save them.

Vote Please

Do something about this

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Lowest Common Denominator

Kenny Powers: Sure, I've been called a xenophobe, but the truth is I'm not. I honestly just feel that America is the best country and all the other countries aren't as good. That used to be called 'patriotism'

In my experience, one of the biggest differences between liberals and conservatives is their opinion of the abilities of their fellow man.  In debates ranging from health care to education to social security to warning labels to welfare and unemployment the conversation will follow a similar path

Me: "(insert name of giant inefficient government program here) should be slashed/privatized/criminalized/abolished."

Liberal friend: "Well yes that would be fine for you and me but what about all the stupid/uneducated/redneck people?  We cannot trust them to make the right decisions thus the government should make the decision for all of us."

This is the heart of the conflict in my eyes.  Some people are stupid so the government, with the wise technocrats from all the finest Ivy League schools, should make the decisions for us to save us from ourselves.  I find this incredibly insulting.  I believe that people across all walks of life are eminently able to act in their own self interest when empowered to do so.  I think that the solution to many of our problems can be found through increasing individual accountability and self reliance.

For instance

Health Care
High deductible HSA accounts to deal with catastrophic events and insurance plans that allow people to shop across state lines.  I have had one of these plans for years and call doctors offices to get pricing on everything I have done.  I get the tests I need at the best price because I have skin in the game.  It is in my interest to get the best price because I keep what I do not spend.  It benefits me to be informed about what I am having done and what I am paying for it.  If more people were so inclined, it would force price competition across the sector and ensure competitive rather than monopoly pricing.

Choice Choice Choice.  While health care is only on the way to a government imposed monopoly, we get a preview of how well such things function when we look at our public schools.  Dominated by bloated unions with ironclad job security whose response to any attempt at reform is to hide behind the children of the country as human shields, the system is a mess.  Whether the solution is choice through charter schools, vouchers, scholarship programs (good job killing the DC scholars program Obama!), the abolishment of the teachers unions and institution of merit/performance pay (yes!) or some combination of all of the above, anything would be an improvement over the status quo.

The conversation then follows this path

Liberal Friend: "You are a Darwinist! What about the people left behind, who takes care of them?!"

My response to this is twofold.

One, I completely agree, a modern society should take care of those that cannot take care of themselves.  No  reasonable person would disagree with that.  How do you define that?  What portion of the population falls under that definition?  I have no idea, but I do know that 47% of the country paying no income tax does not seem right.  I also know that 35% of the country receiving the majority of their income through government redistribution programs seems way too high also. If 1/3 of Americans are truly unable to support themselves without government cheese we are really in trouble.  It is another classic example of unintended consequences, when something is subsidized, you get more of it.

To me there is something fundamentally wrong in the fact that half of Americans pay nothing in taxes and not only that but 35% live only off of what is taken from others and given to them.

Ok, so we agree we need to help the people who truly need it, whoever they are.  Now the second part of the answer is how?  We live in the most charitable country in the history of the world ever.  Disasters domestic and foreign receive giant outpourings of support, both from private donors and from the government in the form of aircraft carries coordinating the relief efforts in Haiti or in the Pacific after the tsunami.  We give through public and private charities at rates that put the rest of the world to shame.  My question is, why do we give through public means at all?  Private charities are required to publish data on how much of the money they raised actually gets passed through to the intended recipients, while the public side just dumps billions after billions into bureaucratic systems that are incredibly inefficient and rife with fraud.  Transparency, accountability and efficiency are anathemas to government systems and should be required before we commit any of our money.

Basically what it boils down to is people adapt to the society in which they live.  If they are told that they are too dull to choose their own school or doctor and should just focus on choosing between their 1,000 channels of cable TV they will do so.  If the marginal increase in pay between government benefit programs and a real job is minimal they will do the cost benefit analysis and keep the free time and the easy money.  This is what needs to change.  This is why I think this is so important.  A society is at it's best when everyone is working hard in their self interest to provide a better life for themselves and their families.  Unlike liberals, I believe that the vast majority of people in this country are more than capable of succeeding in their endeavors.  I am optimistic for humanity.  I think people thrive when it is their responsibility to do so.  When their fate is in their own hands rather than that of a paternalistic, all powerful government that takes care of them from cradle to grave.  The same programs that take away risk and consequences from people at the same time rob them of dynamism and ambition.