Monday, September 30, 2013

The Economic Effect of Education

Let me use a real moron to make a point. Today’s moron is Jaden Smith, the son of Will Smith. What he said was laughably stupid and completely not self-aware, but sadly, it matches so much that is being said these days about education. So let’s mock this spoiled dumb*ss and then I’ll debunk the “you don’t need no edukation” crowd.

Jaden... Jaden... Jaden. //snort Jaden made a three part statement that started this way (excuse his inability to use capitalization correctly... the boy ain’t learned):
“People Use To Ask Me What Do You Wanna Be When You Get Older And I Would Say What A Stupid Question The Real Question Is What Am I Right Now.”
Ok, stop right there. What is Jaden right now? Well, he’s a stupid kid who doesn’t seem to get the fact that if he weren’t the son of Will Smith, he would be headed for a job as a janitor. He wouldn’t have “starred” in a failed film. He wouldn’t have twitter followers. And he wouldn’t make the news unless he shot up a 7-11. And an attitude like his shows the exact kind of disregard of the future that leads to people being broke, hopeless and wondering how it all went wrong. That's nothing to be proud of.

The boy genius continues... “All The Rules In This World Were Made By Someone No Smarter Than You. So Make Your Own.”

Bzzzzz. False. I can assure you, Jaden, that everyone who made the rules is smarter than you. In fact, let me point out that it’s not even intelligence that is needed to make rules, it’s experience. Rules are made to regulate human conduct based on prior experience. Sometimes, rules are made by idiotic bureaucrats (though Jaden probably likes those rules), but usually they are the result of generations of humans observing how other humans act. That means rules are based on an understanding of cause and effect, an idea that clearly eludes Jaden.

Finally, we get to the main point. After telling us that “education is rebellion” (whatever that means) and that school is the tool used to “brainwash the youth” and that newborn babies are “the most intelligent beings” on the planet, idiot boy declares:
“If Everybody In The World Dropped Out Of School We Would Have A Much More Intelligent Society.”
Oh boy. This is painfully stupid. Does Jaden actually think that the people who designed his car, his phone, or the power station that gives him electricity could have done that without education? Does he really want a doctor who never went to school? I doubt it. And even if his assumption was correct that you could develop these skills without school, would we really want that? For one thing, think of the waste as every engineer would need to invent engineering himself before he could do something. How long would that take and what are the chances he gets it all right? Seriously, why reinvent the wheel over and over and over when someone else can explain it to you? Oh wait... that would be “brainwashing.” //rolls eyes Moreover, how does society know it can trust this self-taught engineer? Not only do we have no way to know what he did or did not do to further his training, but who would be qualified to judge? Essentially, Jaden’s moronotopia is a world where we need to take everyone’s claims about their own abilities at face value and then pray that the guy wasn’t lying when he said he knew how to build a bridge, or a car, or operate on a patient.

Anyway, I wouldn’t care about the ramblings of a moronic child of privilege if it weren’t for the fact that so many wannabe “populists” keep sending this same message. Indeed, you get this message all the time in a steady drumbeat of opposition to education: education doesn’t make you smart, real life experience makes you smart! Educated people are elitists and elitists are bad! Teachers are incompetent and schools are nothing but indoctrination centers for commie-libs/capitalist pigs! Most people shouldn’t even go to college! And so on.

This is bunk. Education is the key to the future and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying... or a moron. And if you want proof, consider this. According to the Census Bureau, here are the mean incomes by education level:
$20,241 Learned everything he needed to know in kindergarten
$30,627 High School Grad
$32,295 Some college
$39,771 College grad
$56,665 Bachelor’s Degree
$73,738 Master’s Degree
$103,054 Doctorate Degree
$127,803 Professional Degree
So one of those elitist professional types earns six times what a proud populist earns each year, and over a fifty year career will earn $5.3 million more. Even someone with just a generic college degree will earn almost a million more than the proud populist who didn’t need no education.

And it doesn’t stop there. There was a new report the other day about the effect of the recent recession on different income groups and it showed what we’ve always known: the better educated you are, the safer you are from economic shocks. Consider these facts:
● The unemployment rate for low-skill/low-income workers in the US right now is 21%. That is about the same level as the unemployment rate at the worst parts of the Great Depression. However, the unemployment rate for high-skill/high-income workers in the US right now is 3.2%. That is below the level that economists traditionally consider “full employment.” That means there are more jobs than workers at that level and those workers have power to bid up things like income.

In effect, it’s boom times for the well-educated and depression for the unskilled. Yet, the populists want you to join the ranks of the unskilled. Don't fall for that.

● It gets worse. As jobs vanish during a recession, higher skilled workers who lose their jobs take lower skilled jobs and in the process push out lower skilled workers. Economists call this “bumping down” or “crowding out.” What this means is anytime there is an economic shock, the higher-skilled workers will land on their feet one way or another – either by getting their jobs back or a comparable one, or by taking one from the unskilled. The unskilled can do nothing about this. This happens in every downturn.
There is no doubt about the statistics. If you don’t get an education, then your hopes of making good money are limited, your chance of getting a job is much lower than for others, and you will be sacrificed in every recession... unless your father is Will Smith. That’s a big price to pay for just being able to claim false moral superiority.
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Friday, September 27, 2013

Open Thread

"I’m finishing up nine years in the Senate. Nobody has a higher conservative rating than I do. I’m now no longer a conservative according to the standards that have been set by the expectations of this process."

-- Tom Coburn 9/26/2013

(On attacks he's received for not supporting Cruz.)

"I stand exposed as the longest secret mole of liberals and Democrats in the conservative movement in the history of the republic. Alger Hiss is a piker beside me."

-- Charles Krauthammer 9/25/2013

(Responding to attack by Mark Levin, who warned his listeners that Krauthammer once wrote speeches for Walter Mondale and should not be trusted as understanding conservatism. Levin doubled-down the next day and attacked Krauthammer for mentioning that Reagan changed parties too.)
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Film Friday: Total Recall (2012)

Sometimes, I don’t even know where to begin when talking about a film. Colin Farrell’s Total Recall is one of those films. Should I tell you about the pointless and nonsensical plot? How about the fact this is just a long chase scene? The bad science? The bad acting? Ug. This film sucks.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Wendy Davis = Snowball in Hell? You Decide. (But the Answer's Yes.)

Breaking news, folks! Wendy Davis has just announced she's making a run for the Democratic nomination for TX governor. This should be....well....something.

Surely you remember State Sen. Davis? She put herself in the news earlier this year by filibustering the Texas anti-abortion bill. So we've had two notable filibusters in politics this year; but where Ted Cruz gets denounced and ridiculed as childish and reckless, Davis--who, after all, was defending not our quasi-free economy but the continuation of legal infanticide--becomes the Left's new favorite. She's already been talked about in the national news for the "principled" stand she took for women's health or whatever; been slapped on magazine covers; even her freaking shoes have become famous.

So after some weeks of will-she/won't-she speculation, Davis announced her bid today. (Well, technically "sources" close to her announced it, but you know.) Whoop-dee-doo. Even assuming she gets the Dems nomination--a big if--the chances of her winning are what, exactly? As I said about the Lone Star State in a previous article, it's f@#$ing Texas. Democrats can win there, of course--it's home to Austin, after all--and yes, we've all heard about how Texas has a good chance of going blue in the future, just like we hear about it every 2-4 years. But even liberal publications admit a candidate known mainly for her pro-abortion views has practically zero chance of putting together a winning coalition.

Yeah, even though it would be wrong to completely write off this event, I think we all know what'll happen here. Davis will make a run for governor; she'll get trounced; and then, before her 15 minutes are up, she'll get a spot on MSNBC or a column with the New Yorker or whatever liberal politickers end up at nowadays.

So have fun with it instead. How about we propose some slogans for dear Ms. Davis? "Look At My Shoes! #Davis2014"? "War On Non-Fetal Women: #Davis2014"? Probably you can come up with some better ones, so have at it.
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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Caption This!

One of the most dreaded weeks of the year in New York City is upon us. Yes, it's the week of the UN General Assembly. It's when all of the leaders of the world convene to preen, posture, and pontificate about how the world could be so much more peaceful if only Israel didn't exist. Okay, that was an editorial, but hey, the new president of Iran Hassan Rouhani actually indicated that the holocaust may have actually happened. That's progress, right?

Anyway, between the street closures, public transportation slowdowns, bomb threats, and massive police presence, there was one leader who was not allowed to speak...

I know he would speak for all of us if he could, so we must speak for him. We must make his voice heard (in my head, he sounds like an old Jewish deli counter man). Well, you know the drill... make it funny because we all need a good laugh this week that's not related Congress...
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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Is Superman v. Batman Impossible To Write?

Let's discuss an interesting article from Scriptshadow which claims Warner Brothers is making a mistake trying to do Batman v. Superman. It wasn’t that the author (Carson) didn’t think the movie would make money, but he thought it was an impossible film to write and that it would likely “kill the Golden Goose” and could leave both franchises “catastrophically injured.” Interesting.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How Our Welfare System Discourages Work

There was a fascinating article in The Economist the other day about how our benefits system works to keep people stuck on welfare. Specifically, it cuts off benefits at such a quick rate that only a fool would take a job. Let’s discuss.

The Economist began by acknowledging the massive success of welfare reform in 1996. The Republican-led Congress, with grudging agreement from Clinton, put limits on cash benefits and tightened the requirement for able-bodied claimants to seek work. The Democrats screamed that poor people would end up starving in the streets... never happened. Instead, the result was “impressive,” according to The Economist: people receiving cash benefits fell sharply from 12.3 million people to 4.1 million people and employment skyrocketed among single mothers. Everyone was better off.

Now people are talking reform again for ideological reasons, but there is little creative thinking. Conservatives want to cut or destroy these programs, Democrats want to expand them and eliminate requirements. That’s about as creative as it gets. No one is talking about simplifying the system or killing the bad incentives. Other countries are: Britain is trying to put all of its benefits in one place and put a cap on them and Germany combined its benefit centers with job centers and brought down its unemployment rate. We aren’t talking about any of that.

We should.

The first problem with our system is that it is so complex that it’s not even clear what everyone gets. For example, CATO just did a study which claimed that a single mother would get paid more benefits in 39 states than a secretary would be paid and, in 11 states, the single mother would get more than a first year teacher. Clearly, that would discourage working, right?

Yeah, but CATO didn’t account for the fact that not everyone gets all the benefits. For example, only 15% of those who receive cash benefits (TANF) also get a housing benefit (what CATO counted as the largest benefit). CATO also failed to consider that some benefits (like food stamps and Medicaid) continue even after you get a job. In fact, most people receiving Medicaid and food stamps have jobs.

So the obvious question is that if we don’t know much about how the system actually works, then how can we know there is a problem? Well, the confusion itself is a problem. This confusion makes it hard to determine what works and what doesn’t, and whether or not the system actually discourages employment. Clearing up that confusion would go a long way toward (1) diagnosing the problems, (2) monitoring that people are getting what they need but aren’t taking advantage of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing, and (3) making reform more effective.

Further, the system does discourage work, and the Congressional Budget Office has proved it. The CBO examined the Pennsylvania scheme to see what happens as the benefits phase out. TANF vanishes once a person earns $4,900 a year. The Earned Income Tax Credit (given to 9.4 million people), gives a single mother a credit that rises to $3,250 per year if she makes between $9,600 and $17,500 in income each year, but then phases out fast. At $23,000 in income, the single mother loses food stamps and federal housing assistance.

The CBO then viewed these reductions as “taxes” for the sake of comparison. In other words, because these benefits declined as income rose, the CBO counted the loss of the benefits as a tax on the new income. This is actually a great way to look at the reduction of benefits because it shows exactly what the value of working is worth. And what the CBO found was that as the typical single mother earned more income, her effective marginal rate rose from 17% to 95%! Said differently, when you factored in the benefits lost by the single mother as she earns more income, she effectively keeps only 5% of what she earns from her new job.

This is solid proof that our system discourages people from working: would you work if you only kept 5% of what you earned? That needs to change. We need to reform the system to reduce benefits more smoothly, and to keep the effective taxation rate lower. In fact, I would suggest that the system should be designed to make sure the effective tax rate never rises above 20% if you want people to have an incentive to work.

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Ted Cruz's Demise Part Deux

So he is a RINO traitor after all! LOL! Grab some popcorn and enjoy this interesting twisty little story of the slow-motion demise of Ted Cruz.

On Sunday, Chris Wallace of FOX mentioned that the Republicans are upset at Ted Cruz. Specifically, he told Karl Rove that as soon as he announced that Ted Cruz would be a guest on his show this week, he received unsolicited “opposition research” against Cruz from certain un-named Republicans.

Naturally, the immediate assumption was that it had to be the evil RINO Republican Leadership who can’t stand a gen-you-ine conservative finally fighting back after the Republicans caved in to Obama on everything he ever wanted!!!! Indeed, the Daily Caller guessed that this must be the result of anger at Cruz “because Cruz and fellow Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee decided to devise a strategy to defund Obamacare without consulting Republican leadership.” And clearly, those RINO leaders don’t like the gen-you-ine Ted Cruz exposing their cozy relationship with Obama, right? Sarah Boo Boo Palin even demanded that Wallace disclose his sources so we can rid ourselves of their evil.

As an aside, Glenn Beck is calling for the “impeachment” of Boehner, McConnell, McCain and Lindsay Graham... oh, and Obama. Maybe we can add this to the list of charges?

Well, not so fast.

See, it turns out that the anger at Cruz isn’t coming from the Republican Leadership, aka the fringe right’s greatest boogeyman. No, it’s coming from, well, the fringe right.

Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy said Friday that the conservative House Republicans are angry and frustrated with Ted Cruz who has “abused” House conservatives. Apparently, he dun whipped them into a fightin' mood... made them go full retard... and then he refused “to get in the ring” when the time came.

Duffy notes that House conservatives were furious at Cruz all summer “as we were the punching bag and bullied by some of these Senate conservatives” with ads and fundraisers accusing the House of failing to defund Obamacare. This hurt them with their own followers who began to doubt their qualifications as fringers conservatives. Then, when they returned from the summer break and voted to defund Obamacare...
“[Cruz] sent out a press release while we were on the floor voting saying that, ‘Ah, we can’t really hold the Senate, we’re not going to filibuster, we’re not going to fight, and the House has to hold.’”
Hm. And how did that sit with House conservatives? Said Duffy:
“I have to tell you what, you should have been on the floor or back in the cloak room. There was so much anger and frustration because, again, we’ve been abused by these guys for so long.”
Tisk tisk, Sen. RINOCruz! Duffy thinks it’s time to “call them out” on their “hypocrisy” as “these big tough conservatives who know how to fight but will never get in the ring.”

I’m not surprised. From what I’ve seen, Cruz is an insider trying to trick the fringe into supporting him. He talks tough and attacks all the fringe’s enemies: the Apostate Rubio, Boehner, McCain, Graham, McConnell, the generic “establishment,” Mexicans, and sometimes Obama, and he panders to the fringe verbally (though he always throws in caveats the fringe overlooks). What he doesn’t do, however, is ever follow up his words with deeds.

That strategy worked for Obama – pander to the morons but don’t do anything that can be traced back to you specifically, and then run as a moderate in the general election. But it won’t work here. The fringe right is much more cannibalistic than the fringe left ever was and if you don’t lead every suicide charge, they will denounce you as a traitor. And that is what is happening now.

In fact, it looks to me like Cruz is in trouble. First, he gets accused of starting the “defund Obamacare” pointlessness to distract people so the RINO leadership can sneak through AMNESTY Ahhhhhh!! They’re under my bed! Now he’s being attacked openly for never going full retard with the rest. And more ominously, someone (probably a gen-you-ine conservative) is passing out “opposition research” against him.

Unfortunately for Cruz, I don’t think there’s a way to turn this around. The conservative fringe and the public are polar opposites and you can’t win a general election by being seen as pandering to the conservatives fringe. But Cruz has embraced them too closely to escape the association as all the other Republican presidential candidates have. So Cruz may soon find himself a man without support.

It will be interesting to see what his next couple moves will be.
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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Requiem For A Theory

"The science is was settled."
Global Warming, c. 1985-2013

This year will be remembered as the one in which the wheels finally came off AGW. Not scientifically--as you all know, that happened a long time ago--but in terms of the public propping-up it's been relying on. Even its allies are starting to abandon it. Feel free to celebrate.

Again, this collapse has been in the making for a couple of years now. It's been pretty much an open secret for a while that the global temperature rise, whatever consensus it might have had, has been stalled for a decade or more, and an increasing number of scientists have begun to publicly speculate on why reality got the models wrong. Solar activity, fluctuating weather patterns, imperfect predictions--confident as the proponents continued to sound officially, you could tell they were getting worried.

But more recently, the news has gotten even worse. Last week, a leaked report from those high priests of Saving The World (tm), the IPCC, flatly admitted that their forecasts of temperature increase were, to put it politely, flat busted. Not only that, they also conceded that much of the current evidence--such as an increase in Antarctic sea ice--would lead one in the opposite direction. They even acknowledged, for the first time, the so-called Medieval Warm Period, which had high global temperatures without the burning of fossil fuels. Now mind you, they wouldn't come right out and admit they were full of crap. In fact, they claimed they were more certain than ever that global warming was real, that it was man-made, and that it would continue to get worse.

Thing is, a lot of scientists are now coming flat out and saying they don't buy it. One high-ranking climatologist called the report's conclusions "incomprehensible" while another described it as a lesson in how not to use the scientific method. And these weren't even the long-term skeptics. The proponents, displaying their usual penchant for classy and above-board debate, replied to these comments by saying the critics should be murdered by their children to defend the future generation, or something.

Meanwhile, contrary evidence from other sources continues to pile up. Astronomers have noted, after observing sunspots and the like, that solar activity is at a 100-year low, provoking concerns from a few quarters that we might actually be heading into another "Little Ice Age." Incidentally, computer models couldn't even get this right--they had been predicting that 2013 would be a peak year for such activity.

Now, none of this is particularly new or surprising, at least here. But as with the scientists mentioned above, it's worth noting how many of AGW's defenders are now beginning to, if not bail outright, then at least dial back their support for it. Governments in particular are hopping off the bandwagon: the Czech Republic is cutting all stimulus funds for renewable energy from this year's budget, while Germany, despite its continuing to pay official lip service to green power and the like, is quietly closing down a number of its solar and wind plants. Australia, having welcomed a new Conservative government, has gone even further and abolished one of its climate agencies.

I think we're about at the point where we can declare victory in the climate-change battle. It'll be a few years before the IPCC and other green activists realize their defeat (and of course they'll never admit it), but there's really no way they can come back from this, in the sense that they won't be able to advocate further controls on the economy in the name of AGW. It's all but over. So give yourself a high-five.

Just remember, they'll probably come up with something else to push. But until then.
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Friday, September 20, 2013

The Openest Open Thread Ever

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Guess What Today Is?

- Any Pirate who is worth his salt!

It's finally here. The best day of the, not Christmas or New Years Eve or even your birthday! It's a shame it's only one day a year 'cause you'd probably want it celebrate it EVERY day! Okay, Commentarama-ians, get ready 'cause it is....INTERNATIONAL TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY! YEY!!!

So here is your task, if you choose to accept it..

First, there's the official Pirate Personality Test. Find out what kind of pirate you are...Pirate Personality Test!

Next, you have to have a proper pirate name. I mean, what kind of pirate are you if you don't have a proper pirate name?! Think Blue Beard, Black Beard, and those pirates in Treasure Island with parrots and peg legs...Pirate Name Generator!

And if you get stuck for the proper pirate words, you can use the English to Pirate Translator!

So get your Avasts and Me-Hearties on. And the only rule today is there aaaaaarrrrrghn't no rules [which, of course, is perfect for us Commentarama-ians, right? Aaaargh.]

Enjoy! And as always, feel free to discuss other stuff too, but remember you have to write like a pirate...aaaaarrrgh!

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Good Does Not Mean Simple

Last week we talked about how Hollywood only shows one kind of racist: the neanderthal. Our general conclusion was that Hollywood lives in terror of being misunderstood. Today's article relates to that, as you'll see. Today's article is about the way "good people" are portrayed by Hollywood. It irritates me.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Gay Marriage v. Polygamy

Let’s talk about gay marriage from a legal standpoint. Specifically, let me point out why the court will eventually grant such a right, and why it won’t grant the same right to polygamists. I think understanding the difference is instructive.

Up to now, the Supreme Court has punted on the issue of gay marriage. That’s pretty typical actually. In the 1960s, a very liberal Supreme Court jumped into all kinds of issues, like those involving race, abortion and the death penalty. That court thought that the public was moving left quickly and liberals felt that the court could speed up the process by just jumping to the end legally.

The results were a disaster for the left.

Those decisions resulted in a massive backlash which not only stopped society’s leftward drift cold, but started a four decade push back which has almost completely set the clock back to the way it was before the liberal court started tinkering. Even a lot of liberals, like Justice Ginsberg, have recognized this and they have become wary of trying to drive society through the courts. Thus, the court has become much more cautious about trying to change American society by legal fiat. Ergo, the court will be (and has been) very cautious about imposing gay marriage.

That said, from a legal standpoint, gay marriage is inevitable. Here’s why.

When the federal government hands out rights and benefits, it cannot discriminate. Marriage, as it currently exists, is a right (with associated benefits) created by law, and if Congress wanted to end it, it could. There is no natural right to marriage. Indeed, the only form of “marriage” the government recognizes is the legal relationship established under law in which two adults are given a special connected status that entitles them to certain tax treatments, to collect certain benefits, and to engage in certain activities. These are rights and benefit single people are not allowed to collect.

And before we continue, it’s worth understanding why this is allowed, because this obviously discriminates against single people. The answer is that the government is allowed to discriminate where it can demonstrate a sufficiently high justification for that discrimination. In the case of marriage, there is a presumption that encouraging people to marry is good for society for any number of reasons and makes society function more smoothly. Those reasons are sufficiently compelling to justify the government granting the institution of marriage and giving it special privileges, even if that discriminates against non-married citizens.

So how do gays fit into this?

As I said, when the government hands out a right/benefit, it cannot discriminate in whom it gives that right/benefit to without a really compelling reason. And “morality” is not a compelling reason. Compelling reasons tend to involve economics, the orderly administration of society, or the prevention of personal injury. So what is the compelling reason to stop gays from marrying?

It’s easy to see why children can’t marry. Marriage requires two people who are capable of exercising independent judgment and giving valid consent. Children are presumed to lack that capacity because of their immaturity. Thus, it is justified to discriminate against children by legally preventing children from marrying. It’s also easy to see why you can’t marry someone in a coma... lack of consent. Thus, it is justified to discriminate against the unconscious by legally preventing coma patients from marrying. It’s easy to see why you can’t marry a blood relative... the proven genetic damage to children resulting from inbreeding. Thus, it is easy to see why it is justified to discriminate against people who are related by legally preventing them from marrying.

It’s also easy to see why laws banning interracial marriage were struck down. Those laws were premised on “morality,” i.e. some people claimed it was immoral to allow people of different races to marry. But morality is not a valid basis for legal discrimination because “morality” is simply opinion about what conduct people who subscribe to that definition of morality find acceptable or objectionable. The law demands more. It demands a showing of societal effect separate and apart from “your view of what society should be like.” Since there was no other reason to prohibit interracial marriage except “morality,” the court struck those laws down as unlawfully discriminatory.

With gays, it’s the same thing. Other than morality, which is disputed and not a basis for legal discrimination in any event, what is the justification for allowing the government to discriminate against people who want to marry others of the same sex? Allowing this would not sanction a crime. It would not disrupt society. There is no injury concern. It would have minimal economic consequences, and it’s not clear that the benefits don’t outweigh the negatives. That leaves the court with no valid legal basis to support discrimination. Thus, the court is highly likely to strike down the limitation within the law which says this marriage must involve opposite sex partners.

In a way, this is the same legal problem as if the government decided that plumbers could not marry each other. There is no economic, criminal, personal injury, or orderly society reason to justify such a law. Thus, it would be struck down.

That’s why the court will ultimately grant this right.

But this won’t work for polygamists. Why? Because polygamists are not seeking to be granted the “right” to marry, they are seeking to expand the right itself. In other words, whereas gays and interracial couples claimed that they were being unfairly excluded from the right Congress created, polygamists would be arguing that Congress should have made a different right, one that allows for all kinds of group arrangements.

That’s a very different issue and courts don’t let you do that... you can’t expand a legislatively created right by court order. Said differently, if the federal government decides to hand out cars, you can stop it from discriminating against you in the handing out of cars, but you can’t force it to hand out houses instead.

The only way polygamists can force such a change would be by proving a general “right to marry” within the Constitution, which would then require Congress to pass laws affirming that right. But that won’t happen. For one thing, there is nothing in the Constitution which even suggests such a right. For another, the Supreme Court has repeatedly refused to find such a right when people have argued for it. Also, granting such a generalize right would be too disruptive of society; the Supreme Court simply doesn’t grant such broad, unfettered rights, even when they are in the Constitution... which this is not.

This is why (1) the Court will take its time in issuing a ruling on gay marriage, but (2) when it does, it will grant such a right, and (3) it won’t grant polygamists the same rights.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Inverse Words of Wisdom

Let’s talk about some political and logical lessons that seem to be lost on so many these days. And to liven this up, let’s do these with quotes. You may notice that these quotes come from villains or losers and are considered things one should not emulate. These are anti-wisdom... inverse words of wisdom that teach one how not to behave.

“I want it now!” – Veruca Salt

Politics is a game that requires you to play your cards in a particular order. It requires patience. You can’t skip to the end and you can’t demand the impossible... that will only blow up on you. Indeed, when it is impossible to do something, it’s idiotic to demand that someone do it, and even more idiotic to attack them for not delivering it. Trying to rush things will only guarantee you never get what you want.

“I’m screaming because I have no inner monologue.” – Austin Powers

Just because you have a particular motivation or thought does not mean you need to express that motivation or thought. Politics is as much about what you don’t say as it is about what you do say. And screaming your most angry, irrational, idiotic thoughts may feel good, but it draws the same response from the public as when they see a child throwing a tantrum at WalMart. The goal of politics is to make your side seem calm, rational, and moderate, while making your opponent seem rash, crazy and extreme... not the other way around.

“Wait’ll they get a load of me.” – The Joker

The public doesn’t like monsters. You can’t terrify people into following you. And coming across as a cheap villain will only net you disdain... not admiration.

“The sky is falling!” – Chicken Little

Making false doomsday predictions will destroy your credibility. False doomsday predictions are things like national bankruptcy, a repeat of the Great Depression, the collapse of the government, the rise of Nazi Germany USA, the collapse of the military, etc. Not only does predicting these things make you a joke, but it discredits the few genuine concerns you might have. Indeed, when you get a reputation as someone who is always wrong, no one cares about the few things you might be right about.

“Wolf!” – Aesop

Ammo shortage! They’re banning ___! Bush/Obama plan to use the military to stay in power! Obama is a secret Muslim! Bush is a Bilderberger! Alinsky’s under my bed! The Soviets Russia are planning World War III! Defunding Obamacare immigration Egypt Benghazi Syria is just a smokescreen to keep the people from seeing the truth! Uh, no. Think of it this way, if you find yourself assuming that facts aren't true because someone has a secret plan the media won't disclose, then you're probably an idiot. If you’ve ever used the term “false flag” in a serious sentence, then you’re probably an idiot. If you think anyone would ruin an economy or a healthcare system just to win the support of the public to remake it or you think the President can assume powers he doesn't have... well, you know what you are.

“If I have haters, then I’m doing something right.” – Albert Haynesworth, NFL villain and washout. See also many more.

Sure, some people like Reagan were hated by the left because the left seeks to destroy its enemies. But just because the other side hates you does not mean you are doing the right things. Sometimes, they hate you because you’re despicable, see e.g. Richard Nixon, Debbie Wasserman Schulz, Hitler. Sometimes they target you because you’re a soft target, see e.g. Dan Quayle, Sarah Palin, Jimmy Carter, Qaddafi. And here's a hint: if the non-partisan public sides with the haters over you, then it’s more likely you’re Hitler or Palin than it is you’re Reagan.

“Either you're for us or you're against us.” – Robert Urich (as Grimes in Magnum Force). See also Lenin, Mussolini, Clinton, W. Bush.

The world is not black and white, and in our political system it is impossible to achieve anything without winning over the people in the middle. There is no single group in this country that can go it alone – not by race, not by religion, not by party, not by ideology. Taking the position that your side is a private club is the perfect way to guarantee that your side will actually be a private club.

Anyway, there is a bigger point here and it connects to the world of entertainment. Fairy Tales impart lessons in us all. These are fundamental elements of how to understand human nature. These things don't stop being true or relevant just because you enter politics. Screaming about a falling sky, crying wolf, and refusing to question the emperor's lack of clothing are things we all know are bad, yet somehow we ignore or forget those lessons when it comes to political strategy. That's bad.

Secondarily, consider that Hollywood has done a solid job of exposing the things our culture despises: the abusive coach, the father who denigrates all of his son's achievements, the businessman who goes out of his way to pollute or harm people, the abusive cop, the immoral lawyer, the moronic peacenik, the hypocrite. These are villains, they are not things to emulate. Yet, a sizable portion of the rhetoric in politics today, from both fringes, does exactly that: it embraces the words and conduct of these villains. Seriously, if you find yourself or your favorite politician embracing the personae of a film villain... stop. You're doing it wrong.
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Monday, September 16, 2013

Revoking Obama's Liberal Card

For the past several years, Obama’s left flank has been growling at him to be more progressive. With the need to stay in power, they’ve remained silent as he’s screwed them time and again and made a mockery of their issues. But as I told you, the left will only remain silent for so long, and once it becomes clear that their guy has failed, they follow a predictable pattern: surprise (“huh, why isn't he doing more”), deflection (“the Republicans stopped him!”), anger (“he isn't trying hard enough”), disavowal (“he was never really a liberal”), and betrayal (“he betrayed us from the get go”). They do this every time. It looks like we're somewhere between disavowal and betrayal at the moment. Indeed, according to Politico, several leftists have just “revoked his liberal card.”
● Said Rep. Alan Grayson: “I don’t think that anyone at this point would characterize the president as the progressive warrior that the progressive movement is anxious to see.”

● According to Politico, Dennis Kucinich blames Obama for “poisoning the movement by seeming to support it, while actively betraying it.” Kucinich claims that on foreign policy, national security, privacy, the economy, health care, Social Security and workers’ rights, Obama has “wrongly been perceived as liberal” and has thereby managed to “successfully usurp any legitimate liberal agenda.”
What has these and others so outraged?

Well, for one thing, failure breeds contempt. Things aren’t going well for Obama on any front. His healthcare plan is the “bumbling dead” with bad rates, bad data security and a public who refuse to “end their confusion” and drink the Kool-Aid. Its days are numbered. His economic record is the worst since the 1930s. His foreign policy is a joke, to say the least, and makes a mockery of supposed liberal principles.

Indeed, let’s start with that. Liberalism has correctly claimed that a US foreign policy in which the US wears a white hat instead of a dirty black-spotted hat would benefit the US and the world. Reputation matters and being seen as someone who will always stand for right will pay huge dividends. Unfortunately, liberals mis-define what is right. Rather than standing for opposition to aggression, free markets, individual rights and freedoms, and the isolation of bad actors, liberals want the US to surrender its control to international organizations, to never defend its own interests, and to use the military to enforce certain ticky-tacky things, e.g. stop dictators from killing people, but only if they use “illegal” weapons to do it.

In fact, for decades the left has cited this example as the one time they would absolutely, guaranteed be willing to use force: some dictator in a country where the US has no conceivable economic, geopolitical or national defense interest uses chemical weapons against a minority he has been oppressing. Bingo!! Syria. But now they’ve proven that even that is a lie and Obama has led the way in wishy-washying his way through it.

In any event, here are some other things to consider:
● This year, the top 1% of earners in the US took in 19.3% of all income. That’s the largest percentage taken in by those people since 1927 and is much worse than it was under the evil Bush.

● Obamacare is going to kill the unions. They know this and they are desperate to stop it. In fact, they’ve appealed personally to Obama to exempt them from Obamacare so they won’t face extinction. What happened? The headline from Forbes tells the story perfectly: “White House To Unions: Drop Dead”.

● Remember all those leftists with the signs about Wall Street being full of crooks and how they needed to be held accountable for the financial crisis? Do you remember how they claimed Bush somehow caused Enron and then did nothing about it? The Bush Justice Department put 12 Enron executives behind bars... some are still there. So far, not a single banker has been arrested for the financial crisis by Team Obama.

● Black unemployment in August finally returned to 12.6% (43% for teens), that’s down from a high of 16.5%. That 12.6% percent, by the way, was the worst level reached under Bush in December 2008... at the height of the financial crisis. So blacks were better off every single day under Bush than they have been on any day under Obama.

● Under Obama, the Supreme Court has all but killed affirmative action, it’s established gun ownership as a right, it neutered the Voting Rights Act, it’s so far refused to grant gay marriage... and Obama has done nothing about any of this. Obama hasn't even done anything to reverse the Court's campaign finance reform decision. These are all things the left squealed about, and he ignored them.

● Gitmo, drones, killing terrorists without a court order, spying on everyone and everything... these were “war crimes” under Bush, but are now SOP under Obama.

● Obama’s carbon regulation efforts stop and start with power plants. Whoopee. His green loans program turned into a crony cash machine. He hasn’t killed coal. He hasn’t banned nuclear. He hasn’t stopped fracking. He hasn’t banned the use of oil. All he's done is hold up one pipeline.

● Obama was meant to revive the era of Big Government, yet polls show that the public’s trust in government is at an all time low. According to Gallup, only 42% of the public has faith that the government can handle domestic issues. That does not future socialists make.
This is why the left is outraged and feels betrayed. And as we tip further into the betrayal phase, look for a steady attack from the left at Obama's ties to Big Business and the establishment.

As an interesting aside, leftist blogger Markos Moulitsas (Daily Kos) was asked to identify liberal leaders right now and he noted that there were almost none in the White House or the cabinet. Instead, he identified Elizabeth Warren (Senate), Luis Gutierrez (House), Rachel Maddow (MSNBC), Dan Savage (LGBT activist), Richard Trumka (AFL-CIO) and Bill McKibben (environmental writer). That’s hardly an endorsement for Team Obama.
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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Bad Influences Open Thread

I don’t like basketball. Why? I think it’s bad for the culture. What’s my beef with basketball? Fouls. At its purest, basketball is meant to involve one team working the ball down the court to score a basket as the other team tries to stop them. The game is meant to be free flowing, fluid, and a real demonstration of team dynamics. It is a beautiful and graceful game when played the way it is meant to be played.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t get played that way.

Sadly, to make sure the game runs smoothly, they invented a thing called a “foul,” which is a punishment for interfering with the ability of a player on the other team to move the ball... a punishment for disrupting the fluid nature of the game. But fouls don’t have any real penalty attached. So they’ve become a strategic tool used by teams when they need to get the ball back. Basically, they grab the player with the ball and the action stops. A foul is called. The opposing player gets to take a shot at the basket, and then the team committing the foul gets the chance to get the ball back. In effect, they are openly cheating because they are willing to take the penalty of getting caught.

In my book, this is a horrible lesson to teach people. Rather than teaching people to step up their game, it teaches people to intentionally break the rules if they think the benefits of breaking the rules outweigh the punishment. That’s not a type of thinking society wants people to internalize because it leads people away from doing the right thing on principle and instead gets them thinking in risk/reward terms. But risk/reward thinking is not enough to make society work unless you want a hardcore police state with sharp punishments. And here is basketball, teaching people this very lesson.

Even worse, I see this kind of thinking spreading to other sports now. I’m amazed how happy people get when they watch football and penalties happen to the other side. It seems that winning by penalty is fast becoming just as acceptable to fans as winning by skill... penalties are now seen as “good plays.” That’s kind of shocking to me because it again flies in the face of the spirit of the game. Isn’t the game about superior play? I guess not. I guess, having the refs hand you the game is just as satisfying as winning it yourself. Again, this is not a good message for people to internalize... it sounds rather socialist actually.

Ditto on instant replay. Instant replay wrongly gives people the sense that we can and should achieve perfection. It also gives us a twisted version of perfection. By showing frame by frame images, it lets people wrongly imagine that it should have been easy for players or referees to do something that no one would ever consider possible when seen in real time. In effect, it wrongly makes us believe that perfection should be easy and only the incompetent fail to achieve it. That then reflects poorly in people’s expectations in every other facet of their lives, where perfect in anything is ultra-rare.

What I think makes these lessons particularly dangerous is that these lessons are taught without anyone realizing what they are learning. If a politician does something stupid, we debate it, and you consciously decide if their behavior is something you accept or you don’t. But the things above don’t strike us as lessons. They just slowly change our perceptions and our expectations. They are, in effect, the way brainwashing really works.

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Friday, September 13, 2013

The Shiny Turd List

No review today as I haven’t had a chance to watch anything. So let’s do this. A couple weeks ago, we listed some hidden gems. Those were films that were largely overlooked or even panned, but turned out to be inspired. Today’s list is... uh... similar.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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A Tale of Two Paranoias

The world is full of crazy conspiracy theories and phobias. But not all conspiracy theories and phobias are created equal. It all depends on whether your craziness demonizes the right people, you see. Then it's no longer craziness, but "a chilling specter of America's future," or something.

Consider first the wrong kind of paranoia, coming from one Orson Scott Card. You may know him as the author of the sci-fi book "Ender's Game," a movie version of which will be coming out this fall. Card has attracted a lot of negative attention recently, since, as a Mormon (itself quite a knock in Hollywood), he has made it known that he opposes gay marriage. Given that such sentiments are already becoming de facto illegal, one hardly need imagine how many indignant young liberals declared that they would never go watch the "Ender's Game" movie, the distancing from Card's views by all those connected with the film, blah blah blah.

So the author was already in some hot water. But then a few weeks ago, he did something even less forgivable--speculating on Obama as dictator. Specifically, what he did was to post on a what-if blog--which, by the way, is specifically titled "Unlikely Events"--a scenario in which Obama becomes a "Hitler- or Stalin-style dictator" who uses a new national police force and a revision of the Constitution to become President-for-life, a la Robert Mugabe or another Third World thug.

Silly? Well, yeah. It comes off as rather paranoid, and I suppose other comments from Card about how the media gives TOTUS a pass on everything could persuade leftists that he really believes Obama wants to be the next Hitler. Despite his repeated disclaimers that this is entirely fictional and would never happen in reality, that is. So it should come as no surprise that Card made the press again in a very bad way, with his essay described as "bizarre" at best. Online, the comments were much worse--and highly revealing. One asked Card to "tell us more about the magic golden plates next" (well, that didn't take long), and amazingly, another as good as said that this stuff only made sense of you applied it to Republicans: "It would be far more plausible if Card put Dubya in that spot (or more realistically the power behind the Oval Office...Dick Cheney)."

The lack of self-awareness from the Left is mind-boggling, I tell you. Apparently they're the only ones who get to have conspiracy theories, because theirs are more "realistic" and not just dreamed up. Which is a real shame, because some of their own are really inventive.

I refer to the recent publication Christian Nation, courtesy of one Frederic Rich. If you're familiar with subtext, the title should tell you all you need to know, but the book posits a future where bombings of our largest cities by radical Muslims provoke an angry backlash by Christians (especially white Christians) that sweeps everyone's favorite mama grizzly into power, who in turn quickly establishes herself as dictator. America is re-created as a land where conservative Republicans hold all political power, Fox and its affiliates control the networks, and deviation from Christian norms is banned. Which is not the definition of a theocracy, but whatever.

My own thoughts on this are 1) Is this an alternate reality I can somehow transport myself to? and 2) Give me a break. Talk about your paranoia. Plus, it's not a particularly well-written book, and in fact reads like something Aaron Sorkin would write, if Aaron Sorkin had sustained a concussion, gotten coked up, and then started writing in a fit of rage over The Newsroom being canceled. And I'd put 100-to-1 odds that the book's "twist" will be that the bombings were actually carried out by evil fundamentalist Christians who then framed good peaceful Muslims to make Palin dictator.

So, yeah, this is pretty ridiculous. But that hasn't stopped liberals from loving it. Although mainstream reviewers have been fairly negative, noting how its political moralizing submerges other elements like, you know, characters and a plot, those less afraid of making fools of themselves have praised it as "riveting," "the best book I have read in a long time," comparable to "The Handmaid's Tale," "so alarming I immediately barricaded my door with stale hummus and copies of Darwin," etc. Okay, I might have made up one of those, but you get the idea.

Any moral here? Not really; I'm not telling you anything you don't already know about how liberals think. Just a reminder that, every time you let yourself believe they can't be any more idiotic or hypocritical, they go and surprise you. Every time.

Any particular double standards from the Left you can think of?
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Thursday, September 12, 2013

New York State of Mind - Primary Results Edition

Well, it's official. New York City voters are not so stupid that they have given Eliot Spitzer OR Anthony Weiner a chance to advance.* Both lost badly - Weiner lost with only 5% of the vote and Spitzer running for City Comptroller squeaked by with 48% leaving his opponent Scott Stringer with 52% (thank God!). The votes are still not confirmed, but it looks like there won't be any run-off elections in October for Mayor. Bill de Blasio has been nominated to run on the Democrat line with 40% for Mayor. In the next week or so, the recounts will determine whether de Blasio and Bill Thompson who lost to Mayor Mike in 2008 will have a run-off.

Joe Lhota on the Republican line breezed through with 52% of the vote against his nearest opponent grocery-store billionaire John Catsimatidis. Now that the lines are drawn, let me explain who these two candidates are.

Bill de Blasio - Democrat - spent most of his primary assets pretty much promising any available issue he could pander to. Oh, did I tell you his wife is an African-American former lesbian? [Oh, yeah, no identity politics there.] And his 15-year-old son has a really, really big 'fro. de Blasio is against "stop & frisk" and will fire Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, the best thing ever to happen to NYC since Thomas Edison wired us for electricity. He wants to "tax the rich" for give-aways to the "poor" for stuff like "pre-kindergarten" and pretty much anything else he can think of. His main campaign strategy is to pander as much as he can to anyone he can to get vote.

Joe Lhota -Republican - has experience in City Hall. He spent the '90's as Deputy Mayor to Mayor Guiliani. After his tenure ended as Deputy Mayor, he was appointed as the head of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). He is pro-security and fiscal responsibility. Just for the record, because the primary was mostly focused on Democrat candidates, Lhota did not need to spend much financial capitol on pandering...yet.

Surprising losers - Christine Quinn - Speaker of City Counsel, lesbian and main reason Bloomberg got his third term. I am really surprised that she did so poorly (15%) considering that she could have been the first woman AND first lesbian to be Mayor of New York AND did considerably more pandering than any other candidate. As for the Democrats running, it really came down to "identity" politics. de Blasio mainly used his big-fro'ed and very astute 15-year-old African-American son in some very effective television ads to hawk for votes.

Now the real games begin. The big question is will we slide back into the pre-Guiliani oblivion of crime or will we continue to move forward in safety and security? Let the pandering begin! Can you tell who I am leaning toward? Please pray for us and I will keep you posted.

As always...any questions, comment, or topics are open for discussion...

*Because a quirk in the NY primary voting laws, I was not allow to vote in the primary because I refuse to register in a party. Full disclosure - I would have registered as a Democrat if Anthony Weiner had not flamed out early on just for the possibility of four years of salacious headlines.
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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Why Only One Type of Racist?

Someone posed an interesting question to me the other day: why are racists always portrayed in films as snarling, one-dimensional neanderthals? You know the types. They're losers who work in manual labor jobs or athletics (e.g. coaches). They're stupid. They spout racist quotes freely to everyone around them. Their families don't respect them. Their kids hate them. Why is that the only type of racist you see on film?

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Don't Buy The Flat Tax Arguments

A short one today. People who advocate the flat tax keep promoting the idea that this will make your taxes simple: “You can send in your taxes on a post card!” And they make claims like the flat tax will eliminate the need for the IRS. This is simply wrong.

To understand why this is wrong, you need to understand something that a lot of people don’t seem to get: concepts like “income” are not specifically defined within the tax code. They aren’t specifically defined because the moment you provide clear boundaries, people slip their income outside the boundaries of the definition.

To give you an example, assume that you define income strictly as “Any money paid in exchange for services you provide.” Sounds like it would work, right? So what happens when people stop paying “money” and instead give property. Suddenly, you can avoid paying taxes by taking “property” that can then be easily converted back into cash. Unless the IRS wants to allow this, it then needs to change the above-definition to add “money or property” or it needs to re-define “money” more broadly to include “anything of value.”

Now we have it though, right? Income is “anything of value paid in exchange for services you provide.” That works. Well, no. Now people stop paying each other for services. Instead, they give “gifts” to people who provide them with services. Again, people have escaped the income definition. Thus, again the IRS must change the definition. What if a third party pays for them? What if you value the property you give the person at $1 when its real worth if $10,000? What if you pay with an option that has a $1 value today, but $10,000 value tomorrow? Etc.

Suddenly, the thing so many people think is easy, (“After all, who doesn’t know what income is?”) turns into a multi-page definition with attached explanation and examples of what is or is not income.

This is how the tax code has grown to become what it is. From day one, people tried to find ways to avoid having their income fall under the definition of income. To fix that, the IRS issued rulings, guidance, and new definitions to catch up to these people. And with each one of these, the code grew until it all resulted in a massive, complex book which spends hundreds of pages defining what is actually income and what isn’t.

This is the problem.

And when people say, “All you do is write your income on the card, so there’s no need for the IRS,” they are speaking quite ignorantly because they don’t understand that the word “income” requires the existence of an IRS to decide what counts as income and what doesn’t. In other words, so long as we are taxing “income,” there will be a need for the IRS to decide what constitutes income.

Further, the people who advocate this have a total blind spot when it comes to deductions. They think that “deductions” are simply 3-4 numbers that you get on a 1099 or out of a tax booklet and everyone will be willing to forgo those for lower rates. They totally ignore the fact that for anyone running a business, “deductions” are ultra important because they define income.

Indeed, if we were to eliminate “deductions” for businesses, we would kill most businesses. How? Consider this. If you took in a million dollars in income through your business, but it cost you a million dollars in things like salary, rent, and supplies to make that happen, then your current tax burden is $0. That’s fair since you have $0 in profit at the end of the year. If we go with the vision promoted by the flat taxers, you would be paying 20% taxes on that million dollars in income... as you have no deductions to reduce it to “profit.” So you will pay $200,000 in taxes on $0 of profit under their system. How long will most business last paying that?

And if they respond, well, we should only tax “profit,” then all those deductions they claim should vanish reappear and your taxes are identical to what they’ve always been... except for individuals who have lost their deductions but still must face the IRS determining what constitute their income.

The flat tax argument is a delusion. It is a delusion spun by people who don’t understand how the tax system works and who are selling you a false view of reality. It is impossible to “eliminate all deductions.” It is impossible to eliminate the IRS so long as income and/or deductions exist. All a flat tax does is lower the rates and shift the tax burden around slightly. It does nothing to make taxes less complicated. It does nothing to make taxes less onerous. It does nothing to end the disincentive to hire people or to start a business.

It is not real reform.
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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

An Agenda From Talk Radio... Arg

I’ve spoken about our need to get an agenda. In fact, I’ve written a book outlining one. Well, I’m starting to see more people waking up to the fact we need one. Unfortunately, a lot of these people still don’t get it. The point to an agenda is to create a list of promises that will attract the voters, but the agendas I’m seeing don’t do that. Indeed, a few days ago, someone sent me a link to an agenda created by a self-described “genuine conservative.” This agenda could actually be called the “Talk Radio Agenda” because what this guy did was, under the guise of independent thinking, repeat the various things talk radio has told him. It’s a disaster.

Here are his ten points in order:

1. Defund Obamacare. He starts by demanding we defund Obamacare, which is fine for the red-meat crowd, but didn’t sway the public to vote for Romney. So more is needed. Fortunately, he actually does suggest a plan to replace it with in point three, so let’s examine that here too:

3. Reagancare. Barf. Naming a disaster after Reagan is an insult, and this is a disaster. This “plan” begins with the usual “let insurers compete across state lines” line which the public has already rejected several times but which talk radio repeats like dogma. Then he goes full retard.

First, he says we should limit malpractice lawsuits “to cost,” which shows he doesn’t understand how the legal system works. Not only is this the practical equivalent of banning malpractice suits, but you are smoking crack if you think the public will support a plan where a mother of five goes in for a $100 dental procedure, dies, and gets awarded $100. Bullsh*t.

Then comes this: “Provide high risk pools for individuals that genuinely can’t afford coverage.” Well, duh! Why don’t we do that now? Oh yeah... cost. The reason Obama is trying to run Obamacare through private insurers is because the cost of the uninsurables is impossible for the government to bear. Right now around 5% of the public absorbs 49% of all healthcare costs. That means to set up the pools he wants to cover this 5% of the population, the federal government will need to cough up roughly $1.5 trillion a year. Paying for that would increase the federal budget by roughly 40%. This is what happens when people bloviate without knowing the facts.

So his plan is to enrich insurers, put taxpayers on the hook for $1.5 trillion a year, and make sure that people who are injured by doctors are screwed. Yeah, average voters will jump right on that.

2. “Make Congress and the Bureaucracy Live Under Obamacare.” Notice three things here besides the fact that, in any worthwhile agenda, a point this closely related to the first would be wrapped into the first. Point one: this is a stupid promise. If people hate Obamacare, then promise to end it... don’t promise to apply it to Washington. Conversely, if people don’t hate Obamacare enough to support repeal, then what in the world makes you think this will be anymore meaningful to them? This reeks of pettiness.

Point two: this is what’s called “inside baseball.” This is like promising to change the way new bills are distributed around the Senate... no one gives a sh*t! Tinkering with government procedure is a game for wonks, not something the public cares about. Point three: I’m not in a mood to debunk this, but Washington IS living under Obamacare, and promising to make them do what they are already doing as some sort of revenge will only lead to disappointment.

4. Pledge To Read Every Bill. Oh goodie, an unenforceable pledge to tinker with the inner workings of Congress! I can see middle class families breathing easier already.

5. The Job Creation Act FINALLY! After three wasted and one insane point, we come to something the public cares about: creating jobs. Let’s see what our friend suggests... “defund Obamacare.”

Excuse me. //Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!

I’m back. So to create jobs, we’re going to defund Obamacare. Great, I’m sure the public will be all over that. Let’s see what else this guy comes up with. Oh, we need to repeal Sarbanes Oxley... something that is meaningless to average people and which doesn’t affect jobs. Indeed, except for the fact that this guy keeps hearing this screamed at him by talk radio, I’ll bet he doesn’t even know what the supposed problem is with Sarbanes Oxley.

Next, he wants to “do away with the National Labor Relations Board.” I wonder if he understands that eliminating the NLRB would just send these issues to federal courts instead, which would stretch labor disputes out for years, put companies under court control, and create different labor rules throughout the country? I’m thinking, no.

Then he suggests increased funding for unemployed worker retraining. Yeah, throw more money at a program that isn’t working without a hint of reform... how liberal. He also wants to allow businesses to “write off all of their new equipment after one year” to encourage them to buy more. That’s the closest he comes to a workable idea, but that just moves future purchases forward one year, it doesn’t actually increase economic activity – it’s recapture that matters. Moreover, equipment competes with labor, so this will probably reduce employment.

This is a boogeyman economic agenda. This guy simply lists the things talk radio told him “are killing jobs in Amer'Ka!” and he wants them gone. None of this would work, and none of it would appeal to average voters.

6. A Two Year Spending Freeze! He will freeze ALL spending, “including government salaries” for the next two years, “except spending on defense, Veteran Affairs, and entitlement programs.” //ROFLMAO!! This BIG spending freeze will apply to only 13% of the budget because of his exception and will probably only slow growth by half a percentage point. Nice. Oh, and as with his other points, this offers nothing to make the lives of average voters better, i.e. Joe Sixpack doesn’t care.

7. “Cut Your Gas Bill Act.” Drill in ANWR, build the Keystone Pipeline and encourage offshore drilling. Ok, so this is finally something that might appeal to average people. But does the public actually think this will benefit them? Nobody trusts the oil companies; they are constantly talking about collusion. Do you think a promise to help oil companies will be meaningful to the public? Will the promise of a few cents reduction at the pump in ten years sway voters? It didn’t work for Romney or McCain/Palin.

8. “Claw Back the NSA Act”. Sigh. Agreed. We finally stumbled on something useful, something the public will like. Kumbaya. Of course, this is a minor concern only for the public and you’ll have to fight conservative hawks to make this happen, but at least it’s something.

9. Audit the Fed! LOL! Not only is this just more tinkering with procedures, but this is all premised on false conspiracy theories. You don’t elevate paranoia to policy.

10. No More Bailouts! Repeal Dodd-Frank. Yeah. Average people are just screaming for that. Oh wait, they don’t even know what Dodd-Frank is, nor would repealing Dodd-Frank prevent bailouts.

And that’s it. Notice that most of this is obsession, some is conspiracy theory, and the rest is talking points. The writer of this agenda doesn’t understand how government works, how law works, what the budget looks like, how jobs are created, or even why he doesn’t like some of the boogeymen he hates. Notice also that none of this will appeal to average people outside of the talk radio set (where this stuff is taken on faith as a panacea).

So I ask, is this really what conservatism has become? Purging the Earth of Obama, tinkering with government procedure, giving breaks to crony-socialist companies and “common sense” ideas that ignore little things like a $1.5 trillion price tag? You know, when Buckley and Reagan defined conservatism, conservatism actually stood for things. It stood for the American dream. Conservatives pushed for more and better jobs through deregulation to make it easier to start businesses and hire people, tax cuts to let people keep more of what they earned, free trade to help sell American goods overseas. It stood for helping people buy homes. It stood for helping people send their kids to college and improving education through the introduction of competition. Conservatives pushed to help people save for retirement, invest their money, and pass on their wealth to their kids. There’s none of that in this agenda... or on talk radio.

We can do better.
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Monday, September 9, 2013

An Interesting College/CEO Survey

There was a study the other day that I think provides us with an interesting insight into the relationship between Big Business and college. It dealt with which schools produce the most Fortune 500 CEOs (either as undergrads or through their master programs) and its results are pretty surprising.

Here’s the list:
1. Harvard – 25 CEOs
2. Stanford – 11 CEOs
3. U. Penn – 8 CEOs
4. MIT – 7 CEOs
5. Cornell – 6 CEOs
6. Chicago – 6 CEOs
7. Northwestern – 6 CEOs
8. Columbia – 6 CEOs
9. Yale – 6 CEOs
10. Southern Methodist University – 5 CEOs
11. University of Southern California – 4 CEOs
12. New York University – 4 CEOs
At a glance, this list may not seem that surprising, but it is. The most interesting point is that the top 12 schools only account for 94 CEOs out of 500, or 18%. That’s a lot lower than most people would have guessed. In fact, if you believe the conspiracy fringe, you would have expected all of them to have come from evil Harvard (which only produced 5%).

Moreover, when assessing these numbers, keep in mind that certain schools, like Harvard, Standard, Columbia, Penn and Chicago are known for their MBA programs. In other words, those are places people go after they have degrees and are already on the rise. You would think that would mean that most top CEOs would have a degree from one of those programs. Yet, the numbers don’t show that. In fact, the low number of CEOs with such a degree is actually kind of shocking.

What this suggests is that Big Business is not a closed system where only those who went to the right schools need apply. How does this matter politically? Well, it tells us to stop looking at universities as the cause of the current business culture. Harvard is not the boogeyman controlling all things as some want you to believe. Instead, this means the problem with Big Business’s attitude on loyalty to America and advocating crony socialism is not coming from Harvard, it’s coming from elsewhere. And fixing it will require more than bashing Harvard.

The second thing to note is that the regional bias isn’t as high as one would expect either. While there is a northeastern bias here, as one would expect, it’s certainly not dominant. Of these 94, 5 come from Texas, 15 come from California, and 12 come from Chicago. Moreover, the “northeast” breaks down as well, with 8 from Philly, 16 coming from New York and the rest from the New England. What this suggests is that you can come from any region and still reach the top.

All in all, I think this is interesting because it suggests that while there is an obvious benefit to going to an elite school, that benefit is certainly not as big as you would think. And with 82% of CEOs coming from places other than these elite schools, it’s certainly not controlling.

That said, however, there is a warning here for conservative states. Except for SMU, each of the above colleges resides in a liberal state. That has very bad consequences for conservatives. First, it means that the best and the brightest will abandon conservative states for liberal states to go to college. That loss of brainpower and motivation and ability will depress the economies of conservative states. That in turns hurts jobs and depresses incomes in those states. Indeed, the areas around these schools have all become hotbeds of research and economic activity. This is where things get invented, designed and brought to life in America. This is what drives our economy, creates well paying jobs, and attracts more people... and it’s happening in blue states, who are doing it by pulling away the best and the brightest from around the country and the world.

If red states don’t want to be left behind, then conservatives better start thinking of ways to get more red-state colleges on this list. That means investing in colleges, hiring the best professors, making sure they offer programs that attract the best and brightest students from everywhere, cutting costs to students... doing all the things a business does to attract customers... and embracing education again.

This survey is good news because it shows that fears of a Harvard-run economy are false, but it also presents a warning that the best and brightest American kids have reason to go to blue states to start their economic lives.
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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Pre-Football Kickoff Open Thread

I’ve stopped watching the NFL pregame shows. You know why? Because this is what you get every single cursed minute of these shows:

Chris Berman: Welcome to another edition of NFL Wasteland.

Michael Irving: BOOO YA! (unintelligible) BAM, WHOABA (unintelligible) (unintelligible) (unintelligible) TOOL AIN’T (unintelligible) (unintelligible) (unintelligible) condom (unintelligible) (unintelligible) I WAS IN THE LEAGUE (unintelligible) WOODOMSMOO BA HAHA HA! //slaps table, laughs

Chris Berman: Well said.

Michael Irving: HOOOMA //slaps table, laughs WOOWOO (unintelligible) TERRY HAD HAIR MOYEAH! //mugs for the camera

Terry Bradshaw: Suuuuuee (unintelligible) (unintelligible) (unintelligible) Alabama (unintelligible) (unintelligible) good old boy (unintelligible) chicken in the porn-no theater (unintelligible) (unintelligible) still gots my hair.

Chris Berman: You’re like a latter day Linus Van Pelt, if Linus had Charlie Brown’s hairline. Your hair is going backbackbackbackbackbackback.

Washed Out Player You Can't Name No. 1: DOO BA MA YOO YOO JABBA NO DOO DOO SOLO //points, laughs, nods head

Howie Long: Am I the only one around here who can actually pass an English test?

Chris Berman: Insightful from our own Howie Longfellow Serenade? Who mentioned going backbackbackbackbackbackback to school. You heard it here first, folks. He... could... go... all... the... way!

Howie Long: //restrained from killing Berman by dart gun fired from off screen.

Animated robots march across screen, beat each other up in vaguely homoerotic manner


Howie Long: How can you scream in monotone?


Washed Out Player You Can’t Name No. 2: HE GET BLOWED UP BLOWED UP! HE GET BLOWED UP! //points, laughs like jackal

Michael Irving: (unintelligible) HOO MA (unintelligible) NEW LEAGUE (unintelligible) //slaps table, laughs, mugs for the camera

Chris Berman: Michael, like a latter day Walter Cronkite, you interviewed the quarterback of the New... York... Football... Giants... about this very topic. Roll the tape.
Michael Irving: //holds pen, tries to look serious (unintelligible) (unintelligible) (unintelligible) (unintelligible) (unintelligible) //points, laughs (unintelligible) (unintelligible) (unintelligible) (unintelligible) (unintelligible) (unintelligible) (unintelligible) (unintelligible) (unintelligible) (unintelligible) //points, laughs (unintelligible) (unintelligible) (unintelligible) (unintelligible) (unintelligible) (unintelligible) //mugs for the camera

Interviewed Player: Uh. What?
Chris Berman: Surely, a controversial stance. Yet, touching like a Hamburger Helper Glove at a petting zoo.

Washed Out Player You Can't Name No. 2: //slaps table, laughs, points finger at others, laughs again It's all one day's time... game inches... gotta want it more... any givens Sunday

Michael Irving: (unintelligible) (unintelligible) HOO HA! //mugs for the camera

Animated robots return, give each other swirlies

Chris Berman: What do you think ratings girl?

Blonde Chick: Lindsay Lohan is my role model and I mesmerized all the team names before they hired me. //tries to squeeze breasts into camera without looking like she's squeezing breasts into camera

Washed Out Player You Can't Name No. 1: FABA FOOBA BLOWEDS UP (unintelligible) (unintelligible) (unintelligible) //falls out of chair with heart attack symptoms

Michael Irving: //mugs for the camera

Generic Coach: Yeeeeeeeeeeehaw. The team that scores more points before the game ends is gonnnah win this game. I guaaaaruntee it.

Chris Berman: Now you know everything you need to know about the PITTSBERRRG Steelas today. Where else are you going to hear this kind of analysis? We'll be right back.

It’s like being trapped in a room with crackheads... or watching The View.
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Friday, September 6, 2013

Film Friday: Maximum Overdrive (1986)

Why am I reviewing this turd? To deservedly slam Stephen King as a writer and as a director? No. That would be beating a dead horse. To ponder the fate of our greatest thespian, Emilio Estevez? Hardly. I’m reviewing this film for two reasons. First, I want to point out just how idiotic a film can be when no one bothers to think it through. Secondly, I want to point out why this film shouldn’t have been made in 1986, but is now ripe for a remake.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Your Friday Hits

I really felt like I should write something about Syria for today because, well, it's in the news and it's kind of a big deal. But I couldn't come up with a single coherent angle to take on it beyond--well, you know--going to war there would be stupid. So instead, here are some Syria-related factoid linky-things you can chew on, plus one or two unrelated ones as well.

Do I Really Need To Say This?

Okay. If McCain/Graham/Boehner et al. are reading this by any chance (they're obviously not, but whatever), then NO. We do not need to go and launch military strikes on Assad's regime. Yes, he's a horrible person (though apparently not so horrible that our leading politicians can't have lengthy dinners with him); that's not a good reason in and of itself. Is his staying in power a clear and present threat to us? Can't say; he probably won't like us if he hangs on and wins, but that's assuming the rebels are more humane and peaceful than he is. Which looks kind of shaky in the light of stories like this. And this. And, well, this.

And by the way, Kerry's claim before Congress that the rebels are not only largely moderates, but becoming more so every day? Yeah, Reuters crapped all over that this morning. Look--historically, when moderate and radical groups make an alliance for whatever reason, and then win, it tends to not work out well for the moderates. Or anyone else, for that matter.

Barack Obama's Greatest Enemy
What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by...armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.

What I am opposed to is the attempt by political distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income — to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression. That's what I'm opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics. Now let me be clear — I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power....

But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history. I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world....I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars.
I would ask you who said those words, but you already know, don't you?

And of course it doesn't matter--he denies what he said a year ago; why wouldn't he deny what he said a decade ago?


Proof That We've Fallen Into An Alternate Universe

I've given up trying to understand how so many (though hardly all) liberal, anti-militarist, "No Blood For Oil!" Democrats can now justify military action in Syria under the existing circumstances. Sometimes I think it's sheer partisan loyalty/hackery; sometimes I think they've concluded war is all right if it's done on humanitarian grounds. But so far, we've got John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, and Howard Dean, plus pretty much all of MSNBC--basically the entire anti-war "Who's Who" of the mid-'00s--all in for the bomby stuff, with lots of second-stringers, such as Sheila Jackson Lee, either on board or definite maybes. (As HotAir's Allahpundit noted yesterday, "Once Cindy Sheehan decides she's on board with a bombing run too, it'll be time to close down the site and declare the era of political blogging over.") How do you explain all this? I don't think you can, unless you conclude that we've somehow really been sucked into Earth Three from DC Comics.

Although I suppose there's an alternate, simpler explanation: Obama's base really is that gullible.

Newest Threat To Mother Earth: Pandas

As you may recall, a few months ago I wrote that it was inevitable, once they concluded Lady Gaia took precedence over human life, that leftist environmentalists would assume the same power over plant and animal life as well. Back then, domesticated critters were coming under fire; now, it's the poor, poor, panda bears. Yup--this guy at Bloomberg admits that, sure, they're adorable and cuddly-looking and all, but they're kind of an evolutionary dead-end, all they eat is bamboo, so they're not very adaptable, and they don't even seem that interested in reproducing. Conclusion: "Look, Darwinism isn't for crybabies. And conservation requires making tough choices."

Eh, if they're gonna die out they're gonna die out. But I remember as a kid when National Geographic and all those other publications I used to read had slapped on their cover all these endangered species (including pandas) that were going to die unless we protected their environment. I guess that's no longer important if they've been deemed "a hopeless and wasteful species."

Apparently, Papa Hemingway Was Another Useful Idiot

Via the Daily Caller so I have no idea if this story is true. Probably a coin toss. And yet, it tallies somehow with what I already know of the guy. Hemingway was a guy who liked to romanticize events, not give an accurate account of them, particularly where left-wing revolutionaries like Castro and European Communists were concerned, and the lack of feeling suggested by disinterestedly watching executions makes some sense, too, if you know anything about his personal life. (Spoiler alert: Not fun for the people in it.) Reminds me of a little maxim I developed a few years ago: Intellectuals, such as Hemingway, tend to be lovers of humanity in general and absolute jackholes towards actual individual humans.

Well, consider that your end-of-week fix. Read, comment, whatever. Just remember--it's after Labor Day now, so don't type in white font.
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