Friday, January 31, 2014

Politics and Psychology

Why do some people become liberals and others conservatives? It's one of those things that can't be explained by income level, region, family upbringing, etc., though many of those do have an impact. But an article a few months ago shed some light on this, I think, if only indirectly.

The Internet article had to do with gifted children and why they have a higher tendency to experience depression, or to be more specific, "existential" depression. Said gifted children, devoting more of their time to abstract thought rather than mundane matters, are considered more likely to be idealistic, perceiving the world as they think it ought to be. But since it is not how they think it ought to be, they frequently become frustrated with reality, withdraw into themselves, and become depressed and experience a deep feeling of meaninglessness that their dream world won't be realized.

Now, this article (here's the link) may not be worth much. It's one writer's musings, based in some scientific studies but not scientific itself, so take it with a grain of salt, of course. But from my own experience, I think there is some truth to it, so let's just say that his argument is broadly true. What application does this have for politics?

Well, for youngsters of such a mindset, it's not hard to see how they would be attracted to leftist ideologies. They see an imperfect world, they're more upset by this than others, they get more upset that these imperfections don't bother everyone, and they begin casting about for a solution, some philosophy or proposal that claims to solve everything. That's....pretty much textbook "ism" formation. Rousseau, Marx, Lenin, all those lovely people started out as frustrated young men searching for a way to make the world perfect, so it makes sense that other people of a similar temperament would be drawn to their collectivist solutions.

And as the article notes, the gifted have an especially weak connection to "irrational" justifications like tradition. Granted, the youth in general tend not to hold the status quo in such high regard as older generations, but this tends to be a bigger problem for the smarter kids, who put much greater stock in logic and consistency, and don't want to hear some policy or institution being defended because that's how it is, or changing it would be too disruptive. It doesn't make sense to them, therefore it is indefensible.

There's more that goes into it, of course. But this explanation seems to me to make a lot of sense. It also explains the common myth that liberals are smarter than conservatives--the Left tends to draw in smarter individuals, but for reasons only indirectly related to their intellect.

It's also worth noting that this process doesn't always play out. Take me, for instance--not to toot my own horn, but I was certainly closer to what you would call "gifted" than anyone else I knew growing up. Very smart, kind of a bookworm, introverted to the point of being socially awkward--you know the drill. However, I never had this existential crisis the writer describes. Why, I can't really say. But I think it's because I had a consistent outward tug--if not to get a wide net of friends, at least to associate with other people somewhat--that kept me from disappearing completely into my own little world. Also, I had (and still have) a great love for my little hometown, as poor and redneck as it may be, and I suppose that appreciation for my surroundings as they were kept me from buying into schemes for a perfect world and whatever. It's not that I didn't notice flaws, but I preferred the warts-and-all reality to any prospect of radical change.

I think that sentiment was a key to my evolution into an active conservative. So if you want to keep your kids from becoming liberals--well, I don't know, nothing's foolproof, but maybe find ways to get them to take joy in their current situation, rather than get mesmerized by some ideal. That might or might not be enough, but I think it would help.


On a different note, this will be my last weekly post for some time. Graduate school, never a cakewalk, is making some impossible demands on my time for the next few months, so I have to give that first priority. Hopefully I can come back and contribute some posts more regularly after that's done, but in any case, I'll still be around somewhat for the commenting. Until then, thanks for reading and commenting on my occasionally-useful articles. :-)
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Thursday, January 30, 2014

New York State of Mind: Face-Off Edition

Oooooh, Mayor de Blasio is in trouuuubbble! He just got "one-upped" by Governor Cuomo and it was pretty funny to watch.

So here is how it went down. Mayor de Blasio is trying very hard to make good on one of his many campaign promises. He promised to raise income taxes on those evil rich people who make $500,000 or more to expand his idea of universal pre-K education in the NYC schools. In true socialist fashion, that would only be the cost of a Starbuck latte to these evil rich people. They can afford it.

Well, our Governor Cuomo one-upped him by offering to allocate state funds to NYC to fund the program so that no new taxes needed to be levied. It went something like this:

The scene opens to two men sitting in their executive offices on opposite sides of the stage deep in a phone conversation...

Mayor de Blasio: "Wahh, wahh, wahh! I must raise taxes on the rich to fund universal pre-K! I promised! It is my voter-mandated mission! IT'S FOR THE CHILDREN!"

Gov. Cuomo: "Hey, that Pre-K thing sounds great, but I think that we can do it without raising taxes! Just let's us know your plan and if the state legislature agrees, we can fund it through the state. Oh, and just so you know, in order to raise income taxes, you have to get approval from the state legislature. 'kay? It says that right in the state Constitution, 'kay? [And under his breath very quietly] And frankly, I am not inclined to raise taxes for anyone in the state in an election year. Understand? But, hey, friend, come to Albany and we can talk."

Mayor de Blasio: "Okay, I will come to Albany. But wait, you're a Democrat and I'm a Democrat. We MUST raise taxes. It's what we do! There is no other way! And anyway, if we were to take the money from the state, then the state could one day take that money back and the where would the children be? Out on the street, that's where! These are 4 years old, for God sake! They can't get jobs because they don't know how to use glue and scissors! And who will teach them not to run with scissors if we don't. IT'S FOR THE CHILDREN!"

Gov Cuomo: "Yeah, the children. I get it. Just come to Albany."

Phones slam and the scene fades to a politically-correct "lack of light"...

So a joint Senate-Assembly meeting was held in Albany this week in which the chronically-late Mayor de Blasio and his entourage of 18 City Council members arrived to explain their grand plan and answer questions. [Yeah, our new Mayor is not a "morning" person, so he is habitually late to meetings...about that later.]

Well, this is when the trouble really started. De Blasio made his case and insisted that the only way to fund mandatory Pre-K classes in NYC is to raise taxes. After he finished, the questions started. One of our fine (and few) Republican state legislators asked "Why do you need to raise taxes when we are offering you money so you don't have to and..." And yes, the big reveal comes next. It seems our former Mayor Bloomberg left NYC in pretty good shape fiscally and left us with a $4.8 billion (yes, that's with a "B") surplus that could be used just for this very plan. Uh, say what? We have a $4.8billion surplus??

After sputtering about and defiantly insisting that he would raise taxes with or without legislative approval, de Blasio admitted that he had ear-marked the surplus funds to fulfill other campaign promises. When pressed he finally admitted it was to be used for the pending contract "negotiations" with the many city union employees who haven't had new contracts in three years. And by "negotiations" he meant rewarding his Union buddies with promised raises for getting out the great job they are doing for the city. Oops, this didn't go over well.

Let's see who wins this one. My bet is on Gov. Cuomo.

And speaking of taxes - despite the commercials airing your various states about how tax and business friendly New York is, our state has been ranked #1 on the list of "10 Worst States" for taxes. We're #1! We're #1!

Oh, yeah, our new Mayor apparently has a tardiness problem. To the annoyance of just about everyone including the press corps, he chronically keeps people waiting sometimes up to an hour to meet with him. It's gotten to be a "thing".

Finally - Just in case you haven't heard, New York, or more accurately, New Jersey is hosting the Super Bowl this year. Don't ask why. The NFL in their infinite wisdom decided to break with the tradition of holding the Super Bowl in weather-friendly locations, to hold it in an open-air stadium in the Northeast in February...with a blizzard coming. It's going to be fun for all - the crowds, the parties, the 20-degree temperatures...ah, good times. If you want tickets, I hear they are plenty still available and the price is crashing by the day. I can't understand why though.
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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Guest Review: Backdraft (1991)

By ScottDS

Ron Howard’s Backdraft turned out to be the last movie I watched in 2013. I had never seen it before. It also happened to be one of the cheesiest movies I watched in 2013. In my Air Force One review, I criticized that film for being “too cinematic” with clich├ęs that happen for no other reason than because we expect them to. Backdraft, as entertaining as it is – and it is entertaining – suffers from this in spades.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Normal Americans Drive

Hillary Clinton admitted the other day that since she began supping from the federal trough in 1996, she hasn’t driven a car. She claims this has to do with the need for security, though I suspect this could be part of a larger federal program to improve road safety. Anyway, this got me wondering. If Hillary hasn’t driven a car since 1996, what else hasn’t she done? And more importantly, what else haven’t the other animals in the Federal Barnyard done? Well, I pulled up their NSA phone records and here is what I found.

Hillary “wife of Bill” Clinton: Hasn’t said anything a President listened to since 1996. Hasn’t gone grocery shopping since Chelsea turned 16. Has gone “commando” since 1974. Hasn’t earned an honest dollar since, well, ever. Hasn't seen husband since 2000.

Barack “TOTUS” Obama: Hasn’t driven since 2008. Hasn’t spoken words not written for him since 1979. Hasn’t gotten high since 2008. Hasn’t paid for a round of golf since 2008. Hasn’t done anything presidential since N/A.

Madame O: Hasn’t driven since 2008. Doesn’t cook her own meals. Actually, this goes back to 1974, when she made a pot of Mac and Cheese and burned the crap out of it... which shouldn’t have been in there in the first place. Hasn’t stayed in anything less than a 5-star hotel since 2008. Hasn’t personally handled calling for room service since 2008.

Joey “the Brane” Biden: Since Joe Biden made himself a ward of the state, Joey hasn’t been allowed to speak in public or get within 20 yards of Barack Obama. Hasn’t shot a shotgun through the door since 2011. Hasn’t used his dead wife in a campaign since 2012. Hasn’t had real hair since 1997. Hasn’t said anything stupid in six minutes. Hasn’t e-mailed the web since they changed the numbers on the websites.

BillyBoy Clinton: Hasn’t had an intern since 1999. Hasn’t paid for sex since 1991. Hasn’t told the truth since 1978. Hasn’t been syphilis free since 1972. Hasn't been to Arkansas since 1996 to avoid paternity test to see if he's Miley Cyrus's father.

What am I missing?

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Law of Unintended Consequences

The law of unintended consequences strikes again. This time, it’s happening in football. The issue is the rookie wage scale and it’s shown once again how hard it is to solve problems by executive fiat.

In 2011, the NFL created the Rookie Wage Scale (not to be confused with the Wookie Rage Scale). This scale put a cap on how much each drafted rookie could make on their first NFL contract. There were several reasons for this:
1. NFL owners wanted to cut salary cost. By price fixing the contracts they gave their rookies, they achieved that.

2. NFL veterans wanted a rookie wage scale because any money paid to rookies is less money they can get. This was because all salaries count against the salary cap. So if you pay $100 dollars to a rookie, that’s $100 you can’t pay to a pro. And many of the top rookies each year were getting paid obscene amounts of money without having shown that they were even worth it – many got paid much more than their veteran counterparts.

3. College coaches were complaining that the prospect of BIG MONEY was causing their best players to rush to the NFL and was draining the college talent pool.
So how do you fix this? You impose a wage scale with a maximum amount that each rookie can get paid. That reduces the amount that needs to be spent on rookies, allowing NFL owners to defer the big expenses, saving more money for veterans, and eliminating the incentive for college players to race to the NFL. Perfect.

The wage scale went into effect in 2011. And to give you a sense of the change, the first pick in the draft got contracts worth $72 million in 2009 and $78 million in 2010, but the first pick in 2011 got only $22 million, as did the first pick in 2012. So everything turned out roses, right?


As soon as college players realized that they would no longer get these mega-huge first contracts, but could get real money on their second contracts, they started heading to the NFL as early as possible so they could get through their first contracts and then seek a MEGA-huge second contract. In effect, they realized that staying in college was a bad decision because the only reason they had to stay in college was to improve their draft stock, which no longer mattered because the money no longer came from getting drafted, it came from proving yourself over your first four years in the league. So they fled to the NFL. In fact, the change has been dramatic. In 2014, 102 underclass players have entered the draft. The prior record was last year at 73. 65 came out in 2012 and only 56 in 2011. This makes perfect sense, but no one saw it happening when they passed the Rookie Wage Scale.

And that's not the only unintended consequence. This flood of talent is pushing out more veterans. There are only 1700 positions available and every one of these extra new rookies who catches on is one less veteran with a job. So while there may have been more money left for veterans because of this Rookie Wage Scale, the unintended consequence is fewer jobs for veterans.

All of this, makes this the perfect example of why liberalism never works. Consider this: (1) The NFL labor market is heavily regulated -- every aspect is controlled by the agreement of the owner's cartel and the unions. (2) There are no outside factors, no competitors, no China to outsource, no randomness. This market is 100% self-contained and controlled. (3) The problems they were trying to solve sounded like they had an easy and obvious solution. Rookies earn too much, so cut the pay and solve the problems. (4) They were able to impose the solution with all sides wanting it to work out, i.e. there was no sabotage. And yet, they only made the problems worse and introduced new problems. If you can’t manipulate an issue this simple in a market this straight forward, then how in the world can you believe you can control something as complex as healthcare or energy or the US economy as a whole?

This stuff should be obvious, but I guess hubris doesn’t do obvious.
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Monday, January 27, 2014

San Francisco... Stop The Busses, Comrade!!

With Lawhawk’s passing, it’s been a long time since we had a San Francisco update, but this is too good to be passed up. I love it when liberals turn on each other... like cannibal rats stuck on a ghost ship. Observe.

For the longest time, the hard left has waged a war against the noble automobile. They hate the car and all it represents: freedom, middle class aspirations, suburbia, and Americana. Boo! Down with the evil mount of individuality! Join the collective!

And there’s nowhere more hard left than the San Francisco area. If it’s leftist retardery, they’ve put it into practice. Not that any of it has ever worked, but like obsessive compulsive lemmings, they keep trying cliff after cliff. Vis-a-via the car, San Francisco was one of the first places to impose HOV lanes on highways and provide incentives for companies to force their employees to carpool or use public transportation. Use BART or die, capitalist pigs... use BART or die.

The Bay areas is full of tech companies, and tech companies are all excellent liberal citizens. They have all the traits. They talk about how unfair corporate America’s wage practices are and then they fire their American workers and replace them with imported Indians they can pay less. They talk about the glories of government control over the little people, but then they spend a fortune avoiding taxes in every country on earth. They talk about freedom and privacy then they spy worse than the Stasi. And they are huge environmentalists who pollute worse than the steel industry and whose executives have carbon footprints bigger than most cities. Yep, classic liberals.

Anyway, they are into bussing. With San Francisco wanting to force those pesky humans off the roads, the tech companies decided to help out. They bought a fleet of busses and they run them around to various bus stops where they pick up their employees. In so doing, they theoretically save on gas and pollution and they reduce both road clutter and individuality. It's a win-win for liberals.

But there’s a problem.

See, the bus stops they use were built by the city to be used by city buses. And the fact these good rich liberals are using government “facilities” without paying for them is an outrage! It’s such an outrage that a group of Nazis has formed an outrage group called “San Francisco League of Pissed-Off Voters”... stay classy, my liberal friends, stay classy. This group, which we shall call SLOP, wants these behemoth tech giants to pay their fair share for pulling up to these bus stops no one is using.

Interestingly, Google, Apple and some others have agreed to pay $1 each time one of their busses stops at these government facilities. This will raise about $100,000 a year for San Francisco. Naturally, this isn’t good enough for SLOP. They call this “a joke” and their reasoning is that these companies make a lot of money, so they should be charged more -- that's it, no studies, no economics, just pure class hate... tasty, tasty class hate. Even when they were told that state law forbids the city from collecting more than the cost of providing the services (which is $0 here), SLOP responded that they were sure the city could find other ways to get greater payments from these companies.

I love this example. Notice all the classic liberal/leftist touches:
● Liberals try to do what liberals want, i.e. get people to use buses, and end up upsetting other liberals who want to rape them for helping out.

● A total lack of realization that if they push this, the tech companies can simply pick their people up 10 feet before each “facility” and then there will be no money.

● The outcome they want does not depend on the “crime,” it depends on the wealth status of the “criminal.”

● An utter disregard for the rule of law when they want something.

● The use of profanity in naming their group... like naughty children.

● Everyone involved is an utter, utter hypocrite.
Yeah, liberalism is great. We should find more outrages that we can throw their way to really get them turning on each other. Thoughts? It's for a good cause...
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Friday, January 24, 2014

Film Friday: Oblivion (2013)

Oblivion was considered a bomb, though it did well overseas. It was also derided by the critics as a knock-off and kind of thin. So I had pretty low expectations going in. I’m not sure how much having low expectations helped, but I actually found that I enjoyed Oblivion, though it was very slow. That said, however, I have no desire to see it again, and therein lies the problem.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms

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Adventures in Retconning

Liberals, as you know, are sneaky. Never ones to admit failure, they often react to the inconvenient facts of the present by resorting to the past, coloring it their way to prove that history and the world are on their side. And they can be bald-faced liars about it, too.

Leftists have been bad about covering up the facts for a long time. If you want a good example of how they edit history, look no further than good ol' Karl Marx. His greatest hits are famous not only as a call to arms for the working class but for playing fast and loose with the facts. Consider Das Kapital, a multi-volume book so dense and confusing probably none of his followers ever read it. Probably you can guess the tone: Capitalism is evil and oppressive, it forces the working class to toil in miserable conditions, the government is complicit in this because it is run by and for capitalists, etc.

Now, being a self-styled "scientific socialist," Marx probably backed these claims up with lots of anecdotes and statistics that showed just how bad the working man had it, right? Well, not so much. In fact, practically the entire book was devoted to Marx outlining his theories of labor and capital and so on, and his predictions that one day the proletariat would rise up and destroy capitalism. As for evidence of oppression, he supplied practically none, vaguely referring the reader to an earlier book by his partner-in-crime, Friedrich Engels.

Engels' book did have lots of juicy tidbits on miserable working conditions, long hours, child labor, and so on, but the problem was, it was horribly out of date. The Condition of the Working Class in England, published in 1845, repeatedly described cases of bad sanitation and poor factory oversight that had come from the beginning of the century, but which were treated in the book as current events. Even more seriously, it omits any mention that the British government, as well as many of the largest and most advanced industrial operations, had been working to improve labor conditions and denouncing shoddy practices since at least the 1830s, well before anyone had heard of Marx and Engels, and that many of the most heinous stories cited came from the most pre-capitalist enterprises (like blacksmithing). And Marx's Das Kapital was another twenty years out of date; nor was he any better about accurately presenting sources or fairly evaluating those he criticized.

The truth about industrialization is that, while it certainly had some drawbacks, there were from the very beginning (the late 18th century onward) a number of people (wealthy landowners, capitalist factory owners, high-placed government officials tied to both these groups) who were very concerned about the condition of the working class and sought to protect it from abuse and make working conditions as palatable as possible. It's also true that capitalism would, over many decades, greatly improve the position of most people in the Western world, rich and poor. But that would have been inconvenient for Marx and Engels to admit, even if they had been more rigorous and honest.

It's the same story for other leftists' versions of history. In the 20th century, pro-Communist intellectuals claimed the Soviet Union had been working fine until American hostility messed it up; others claimed that white imperialists had had a policy of wiping out non-white populations wherever possible; etc etc. Just the other day I saw where someone was claiming U.S. soldiers in Vietnam regularly carried out atrocities, My Lai-style, and backed it up with nothing more than John Kerry's histrionic testimony to Congress in the '70s. Just remember: If someone's account of history seems to fit too neatly into the Left's version of reality, you probably want to be skeptical.
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Thursday, January 23, 2014

New York State of Mind - Get Out!

It is cold here..and snowy...and cold. Even my brain is cold. But then our Gov. Cuomo didn't really help me feel all warm and fuzzy, so maybe that's why I feel the cold so intensely. With all of the problems in New York, he decided to take pot-shots at state Republicans last week.

As reported in the New York Daily News:
“Who are they?” Cuomo said about the Republicans. “Are they these extreme conservative, right to life, pro assault weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are, and if they are the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York. Because that’s not who New Yorkers are. If they are moderate Republicans, like in the Senate right now, who control the Senate - moderate Republicans have a place in this state.”

It kind of reads like "blah, blah, blah, REPUBLICANS, blah, blah, blah, HAVE NO PLACE IN THE STATE OF NEW YORK [SO LEAVE], blah, blah, blah..." Considering that he isn't actually running against anyone yet, it seems kind of out of context to tell people to leave if they do not share the same political beliefs as you. Needless to say, this set off a firestorm with state Republicans and a soft back-tracking ensued from Cuomo's team along the line of "I know you think he said that, but you didn't hear what you thought you thought you heard. He didn't mean "no place" as in "leave". He meant something else entirely."

Funny thing is that Andrew Cuomo is a savvy politician, so I am sure he knew exactly what he was saying and the effect that it would have. Or maybe state Republicans are just being over-sensitive. Either way, he has no problem spending our tax contributions every month.

Any thoughts? As always please feel to free to comment on this or change the subject.
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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Guest Review: The Reader (2008)

by Koshcat

What happens when you find out a monster turns out to be a regular human being? How about if you found out your first love turned out to be a monster? These and other questions came to mind after watching The Reader. I’m going to cheat and link to the Wikipedia description of the plot because I want to focus on other issues related to the movie. I am also only focusing on the movie as I haven’t read the book.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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“It couldn’t get any worse.”

As you read this, the Democrats are preparing to meet with President Obama at the White House. They are upset. It seems that they’ve been unable to forge any sort of relationship with their little Mussolini and the result has been a series of disasters.

Obama has been in office now for five years. You would think that in that time he would have built some solid relationships with the rest of the Democratic party, seeing as how he needs them to get his agenda through and they campaign together.

Apparently not.

According to various sources, the Democrats are “frustrated” by Obama, whom they see as too insular and too distant and too arrogant. Said one senior Democratic aide of the past few years, “The communication was terrible, and the overall strategy wasn’t much better ... let’s put it this way, it couldn’t get any worse.”

In fact, Capitol Hill Democrats have some very unflattering things to say:
● Some say he has no attention span: “He hasn’t really ever wanted to have long conversations with my boss. It always seems like he’s watching the clock.”

● Another said, “He’s almost a nonentity almost.”

● Joe Manchin complained last year that Obama waits until “it’s almost to a crisis stage” before he engages Congress.
Interestingly, they seem to think that the only reason Obama is willing to talk to them now is because he’s been crushed by Obamacare, by various scandals that have eaten into his reputation, and by his failure to do anything concrete about Syria. This is also why they think Obama has shaken-up his staff.

Is it working? Said one aide, “There’s definitely smoother coordination and they seem more open to hearing what we think.”

LOL! Think about that. This suggests that for the past five years, Obama and his crew didn’t want to hear from the Democrats on the Hill and didn’t care what they thought. This is amazing. For a president to ignore his own party is about as stupid as a general ignoring his commanders or a CEO ignoring his advisors. This really highlights why Obama has been such an utter failure. And for those who don’t think he has been a failure, keep this in mind:
● His popularity is at historic lows and 9 million fewer people (15%) voted for him in 2012 than did in 2008.

● His only piece of signature legislation is failing miserably and the public wants it repealed.

● His economic record is the worst since the Great Depression.

● He has zero foreign policy achievements.

● Most of the actions he’s taken by Executive fiat have been reversed by the courts, and every single action he’s taken at the agency level can be undone by the next President on day one.
This is not a record any President would envy.

What’s funny is that the Democrats actually think he's changing. Obama is back from his vacation in Hawaii (the one the celebrity press is now claiming shows that he and Madame O are on the verge of a divorce) and he claims he feels all energized to make a big push to get his second term started... a year late.

It won’t work. Not only do people like Obama not change, but the word “lame duck” is being tossed around liberally (though I wonder if they meant to swap out an 'i' for the 'u'), and as long as the Republicans keep the House, Obama will be a lame duck until the end of his term. The best he can do is issue Executive Orders which can’t give his people what they want and which can’t form the basis of a legacy. These are not happy days for Team Obama.

Well, this is what you get when you hire a man whose track record is aloofness and unearned advancement. And people used to worry that this guy was an evil genius? Good grief.

** This was written before Obama started whining about racism, which is a pretty strong momentum killer.
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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Liberals and Alcohol

There was a fascinating study released the other day, though ultimately it’s not that surprising. What it found was that people who live in liberal Congressional districts drink more than people who live in conservative districts. And, apparently, the more liberal, the more they drink. This is no surprise.

The study in question looked at all 50 states from 1952 to 2012. What it found was that the more liberal the representative, the more people in that district drank. This is consistent with findings in Russia, where socialists drank more than their conservative counterparts, and seems to be true in Britain too, where heavy drinking correlates to voting for Labor.

The study authors speculate that the reasons for this might be that liberals tend to rebel through drinking or they believe that public healthcare will pick up the pieces if their drinking becomes a problem. Those explanations are, of course, bullspit. For one thing, there really are no differences across the country when it comes to healthcare coverage for the poor, so that can't explain these results. Ditto in Britain and Russia. As for rebelling, why would liberals increase their rebellion as their representatives became more liberal? And if you’re going to say that their rebellion depends on the federal government, then tell me why these numbers correlate to local representatives rather than national trends... and how does this work in Russia or Scotland where they’ve had nothing but liberal governments?

Anyway, the real reason is something much less flattering to liberals.

First, I’ve said this before, liberalism is symptomatic of short-term thinking. If you look at liberal ideas, liberal complaints and solutions that liberals offer, what you will invariably find is that liberals focus on the world in the short term only and they seek to solve problems immediately and only for the moment. They pay no attention to long-term effects.

Why does this matter? Because it tells us something about liberal minds. It tells us that liberals look for instant gratification without regard to the long-term harm that may cause. That means the liberals will naturally be drawn to things that are considered “sins” – alcohol, drugs, uncomplicated sex because they offer immediate pleasure and you only see the harm if you think about the effects long term. Moreover, as anyone who has ever visited a place like Vegas can attest, sins don’t come in ones. People who have them, tend to have many because it's about a way of thinking.

Now, imagine if you are someone who sees life in this manner. You drink, you do drugs, you are a sex fiend. You dropped out of school because you didn’t see the point because it wasn't helping you today. You’ve probably got a criminal record, from things that seemed justified at the time. And you don’t understand why they can’t just take some stuff from rich people and give it to you. Who would that hurt? It’s not like rich people ain’t got more than they need already.

Are you starting to see my point? This is the attitude in the Hillbilly hinterlands of Appalachia. This is the attitude in inner-city ghettos. These people live life in the moment, seeking to satisfy their immediate prurient desires without concern about what tomorrow may bring. When it comes time to vote and these people are faced with a choice between a party that stands for working your way to a better life or a party that promises to “gimme stuff,” which do you think they will choose?

Said differently, liberalism is the natural political philosophy of those to whom “sin” is a way of life. In other words, liberalism doesn’t cause alcoholism, liberalism just fits with the mindset of alcoholics... and sex fiends... and kleptomaniacs... and the lazy... and drug addicts... and anyone who acts without thought to effect.

As an aside, this also explains why so many movie stars are liberals. It takes true short-term thinking to become a movie star. The odds of being cast and then becoming famous are so infinitesimally small that if you stopped to consider them before you started, you would never go... it’s like betting on winning the lottery (another Appalachia pursuit). So when you see an actor, more likely than not, they are someone who never gave much thought to how the future would actually unfold. They simply went with their impulse to go be a star. It is natural that people like that would then also develop drug and alcohol problems, as so many do, that they would get involved in sex scandals, as so many do, and that they would become liberals... it's all in the mind.

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Obamacare: Epic Failure Continues

If it's Monday, it must be Obamacare disclosure day. Ug. On the one hand, these Obamacare updates need to stop. They’re killing me. On the other hand, they are kind of funny in a train wreck sort of way, and this is information you should know. So let’s get to it and then we’ll never talk of this again.

The Wall Street Journal has done an interesting analysis of Obamacare. They wanted to know if Obama was being even close to truthful in the numbers he’s spewed forth about Obamacare. He hasn’t. Surprise! Here are their fascinating findings:
● Two different industry groups have conducted surveys to see what percentage of the two million people who “bought” Obamacare policies were previously without insurance and how many were simply dumped into the system when Obama killed their prior policies. Depending on the survey, 11%, 25% or 35% of the enrollees were uninsured before. Thus, if Obama’s goal is to get new people covered, then he's only succeeded with somewhere between 242,000 and 770,000 people... the rest simply replaced existing insurance.

● 242,000 is far less than the goal of 7 million at this point. Even using the bigger number (770k) still means he's only hit 11% of his goal. Moreover, only a fraction of those have actually paid... and they don’t have insurance until they pay.

● Of those who didn’t sign up, 52% said they couldn’t afford Obamacare. 30% said they couldn’t work their way through the system.

● Of those who had pre-existing insurance, around 10% were dumped into the Exchanges by heartless employers, the rest were forced into the Exchanges when heartless (and brainless) Obama made their prior plans illegal.
The Journal also examined Medicaid enrollments and found that Team Obama is lying through their teeth about those. Team Obama claims that 4 million people have signed up for Medicaid because of Obamacare. But...

But people sign up for and drop out of Medicaid all the time, and you can't just attribute them all to Obamacare. To figure out the real story, Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics compared the enrollments in states that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare and to those that didn’t. What he found was that 55% of the enrollments in Medicaid took place in states that did not expand their coverage as Obama wanted. Hence, those people signing up was not the result of Obamacare as they were already eligible under the old system. Then he went back and looked at prior enrollment trends in the other states and found the normal baseline enrollment before Obamacare. Comparing that baseline to the post-Obamacare sign ups, he found that Obamacare added only 190,000 people to Medicaid.

The liberal Washington Post examined Trende’s analysis and concluded that he was right. They then labeled Obama’s four million claim “ridiculous” and gave three Pinocchios to everyone “who had improperly used the administration's figure or left the wrong impression about it.” You know things are bad when liberals are accusing Obama of lying.

Anyway, with 10 weeks to go in their enrollment period, and the CBO estimating that 14 million people should sign up for 2014, Team Obama is behind the eight ball. So far, they’ve only achieved 6.8% of their goal with no reason to think they’ll do much better in the future.

... and that needs to be balanced against the 5 million who lost their insurance and the 100+ million who saw their premiums soar.

Epic fail.
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Friday, January 17, 2014

Film Friday: Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)

Jack the Giant Slayer was considered a box office bomb, as it just about broke even. The critics hated it, giving it a 50% rating. They used words like “one-dimensional,” saying it lacked a good script, and called it “an attempt to cash in on a trend.” Well, I can’t disagree with any of that, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the film. This film is a throwback to a simpler age, I just wish it had offered a stronger script.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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How to Talk to Young People: A Quick Primer for the GOP

by Kit

Right now, the GOP has a problem with Millennials. Despite getting one of the worst deals from Obama and the Democrats, the GOP is still struggling with them. Yes, it's true that young voters since at least the 1960's have veered to the left but even Reagan managed to win them in 1984. Right now, the GOP and Conservatism are failing to reach Millennials. I have 4 tips for talking to Millennials.

Now this involves tone and style of delivery, not policy, but the right will need to develop policies on issues like healthcare, the economy, and high student loan debt (the single biggest issue among Millennials). So this is intended to be a starting point for talking to Millennials. So let's start.

1). Tough Love: Many conservatives seem to believe the best way to talk to Millennials is "tough love". This involves calling them lazy good-for-nothings who don't know anything about the real world and need some good old-fashioned pain to teach them a lesson. However, instead of pushing Millennials to vote conservative it usually ticks them off and makes them more pro-Democrat and pro-liberal. People do not like being called lazy. It puts people on the defensive. There is no more effective way of sucking any sense of humility and gratitude from a person in a matter of seconds than by calling them lazy, ungrateful bums.

The perfect example of this attitude would be Kurt Schlichter's article "Maybe Pain Will Teach You Millennials Not To Vote For Your Own Serfdom". His basic thesis is "You didn’t listen to us. Maybe you’ll listen to pain". Many conservatives feel that this is tough love. However, it comes across as the exact opposite of "love". Let me explain what it felt like, as a Millennial, reading the article. It seemed that, whatever his intentions were, he sounded like he was downright gleeful at the prospect of Millennials facing economic hardship through high unemployment and crippling student loans because they voted for Obama. That attitude doesn't win people, it just angers them.

2). Talk to us as you would talk to an equal. Saying "I respect your views" is not enough if your tone of voice and body language say otherwise (cough —Mitt Romney*—cough), especially if you sound like a Kindergarten teacher or mother telling us how proud you are that they managed to make a Lincoln log house all by themselves! It's very condescending and a huge turn-off.

If we know that even if you disagree with us, you respect respect our views, then you have usually gone up a notch in our eyes. Now, if you can only talk to us in either the "tough love" approach or the "talking to them like they are 3rd graders" approach, the latter is preferable, but both are counter-productive. We are adults with our own opinions, but we don't all have the same opinions and we are amenable to reason. But you have to try to reach us like adults.

Condescending schadenfreude is bad, but so is condescending flattery.

3). College students might lean towards the left but they are not all left-wing Occupy Wall Street activists. Think center/center-left. If you can come across as reasonable, likable, and, most importantly, respectful even to those you disagree with and make calm, rational arguments then you might bring in a few on the center. Maybe even the center-left….

If a liberal student starts attacking your views in the Q&A session remember "You cannot woo him" and that you do not need to attack him personally as the people that would love that are not the ones you need to win. Your targets are the in-betweens. So calmly, rationally, and respectfully respond to his or her arguments and then move on. Don't take the "tough love" approach or the "you are so special" approach I outlined above because you will only tar the entire audience when you do. Take the calm and respectful approach.

If the person continues to demand time then calmly and sternly point out he asked a question, you answered it, and that there are other people who have questions that want to be asked. You do not need to call them selfish. What you've just said paints them as such. IF they continue to demand more time to the point of heckling then you may call for security. If you go Newt Gingrich and start pounding on them from the get-go, then the in-betweens will zone out as all they will see is two idiots screaming at each other. And the people who cheer you on? They already supported you or your position before the speech. You didn't win anyone over.

As for different tastes in music, shows, etc. Don't bring it up as they will assume due to generational differences, that you do have a different taste. They really don't mind you having different tastes in music so long as you don't judge their tastes.

4). Hecklers shouting out of turn, do not merit a response. As above, you have security there for a reason. If the heckler gets cheers, chances are those cheering are in the minority (unless you've been a jerk to the crowd or are speaking before a far-left organization) and won't be swayed by any reason. If it does appear to be a majority, then it was most likely pre-planned and you can complain to the college or group that invited you (if said group was non-partisan, non-political). So, remain calm and let security handle the situation. Shouting them down might feel good but its a waste of energy. Most people will see them as being jerks. Why waste your voice trying to point it out when they are doing a perfectly fine job themselves?

Conclusion: Don't sneer at Millennials, don't try cheap and condescending flattery, be calm and respectful, and always be sincere about it. Millennials aren't the people you think they are and they aren't beyond reach, but you can only reach them with respect. These rules actually apply to any group you are trying to reach. You may not understand their problems but, to them, those problems are usually valid.
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Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Bridge That Ate Chris Christie...

I do not know what is wrong with you people that Bridge-gate is not the all-consuming topic of discussion this week. This is big news! This is huge! This is bigger than...okay, I am already bored.

So, this is what happened as best as I understand it. There is this big bridge - for the sake of argument, let's call it the George Washington Bridge or "The Bridge" for short. It is one of three modes of crossing the Hudson River to and from New Jersey and the only crossing to the center of the universe which is as we all know...Fort Lee, New Jersey, population who's New Jersey! Okay, if it weren't for New Jersey, we wouldn't have Snookie and the Sopranos. Okay, now that I think about it, maybe we should just cut to the chase and blow The Bridge up. Okay, maybe not. [NSA, if you are reading this, I am just kidding]

Anyway what happened next is so horrifying you may want to sit down. In a series of politically motivated events (which actually may be true), an alleged conspiracy was formed between highly place staff of Chris Christie and the NY/NJ Port Authority who runs the bridges, to punish the Mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing Chris Christie in his now successful bid for re-election. They allegedly conspired to cut the road access on The Bridge down to one lane which caused a massive, four-hour traffic jam. The smoking gun is a series of emails between Christie's Deputy chief of staff and Port Authority officials intimating that it was time to shut the bridge down. It is unclear at this point what Chris Christie may have known and when he may have known it, but he denies knowledge and jumped on the controversy quickly. He did not hesitate to fire the appropriate people immediately and has been pretty forthcoming with the press. However, it is not good for Christie if it turns there is a smoking gun that implicates that Christie was in on the conspiracy.

From the massive national news coverage of Bridge-gate, one would be led to believe this was worse (or at least on par) than a nuclear bomb in Iran, a dead Ambassador in Benghazi, or even using the IRS to harass one's political enemies. It may end up side-lining Christie's Presidential aspirations, but it is too soon to tell. But what is absolutely clear is that the feeding frenzy has officially begun for 2016.

Anyone have anything to add? Feel free to change the subject...PLEASE!
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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

TV Review: seaQuest DSV (1993-1996)

by ScottDS

One thing on Netflix kept me company during finals week: seaQuest, the ill-fated mid-90s sci-fi show that premiered on NBC in September, 1993. It was re-cast several times and even went through a name change in its final season. Watching it now proved to be a fun and interesting exercise, what with the “gritty,” arc-based, post-Lost, post-Breaking Bad world we live in today.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Hillary Clinton: Hollow Woman

** Warning: This article is not suitable for children, the hypersensitive, or Democrats. Do not eat within 20 minutes of reading. May cause flatulence. If you get an erection that lasts longer than 0.1 seconds from reading an article about Hillary Clinton, see your doctor.

Hillary has written a book. Actually, I guess she’s contributed to a book. The book is a feminist rant compiled by the leftist Center for American Progress and Maria Shriver, the former sex toy of the Guvernator. What I’ve seen written-up about the book and Hillary’s contribution is well worth mocking, so get your waders on, we’re going in!!

Mock One: Hillary writes that “the clock is turning back on women across America.” If she was referring to the annoyance that is Daylight Savings Time, I would agree with her, but she’s not. No. Instead, Hillary is channeling a feminist jerk off fantasy in which Rick Santorum gets his way and women everywhere are turned into chattel without the right to have jobs or have sex for purposes other than procreation... because Rick finds sex with women to be “yucky.”

This is, of course, high-grade idiocy... 93.1% pure in fact. Indeed, a recent survey by Pew found that while women still earn only 84% of what men earn, the difference fell to 93% among Millennials, and only 15% of women felt they had been discriminated against personally. So our expert, the woman we are trusting to diagnose the problem and sell us a solution to fix that problem, is absolutely wrong. Nice start, Hillary.

Mock Two: I am so sick of idiots with no sense of perspective. Hillary is apparently one of them. Check out this verbal dipshitage that came out of her enfecaled mind:
“I think of the extraordinary sacrifices my mother made to survive her own difficult childhood, to give me not only life but also opportunity, along with love and inspiration.”
Hmm. Did Hillary’s mom fight tigers to protect her little crumb snatcher? No. Was Hillary’s mom threatened with stoning for trying to educate Hillary? Threatened with death for driving her to and from the trailer park? Forced to submit to her husband upon pain of death? Did she have her genitals mutilated? Was her job taken away by fundamentalists? Was she forced to wear the ceremonial mumu? Did she live on $0.10 a day as Sally Struthers lorded a box of Twinkies over her? Ha...ardly. Hillary’s mom doesn’t know what sacrifice is and, therefore, little Hillary lacks perspective. Should we really trust someone who can’t tell the difference between a bullet and a harshly worded letter to run our government?

Oh, and your mom didn’t love you, Hillary... love doesn’t run your family... opportunism does. Why else do you think you married Bill?

Mock Three: Hillary tells us that she’s very proud of her daughter and “I look at all these young women I’ve been privileged to work with or know through Chelsea, and it’s hard to imagine turning the clock back on them.” Yeah, it's hard to imagine because it won’t happen. You’re suffering from what psychologists call, “A worldview based on absolute bullsh*t and paranoia.”

But I’m more interested in the first part of this quote. What exactly is Chelsea doing that is helping Hillary meet young women? Is she a pimp?

Also, does Hillary really not understand that her little pumpkin, who is named for a British soccer team, isn’t exactly meeting all these young, hot, virile women Hillary finds so impressive because of her own skills? No. It’s called Nepotism. Without Hillary’s political connections, Chelsea would need to make it on her own talents and those seem to be limited to... well, we haven’t found one yet. Can we really trust a woman who can’t tell the difference between someone who earned their accolades and someone who happens to have well-connected family? This woman is not a good judge of character.

Mock Four: In her scribblings, Hillary points to “a wide range of issues” that have stymied the sans-penis class. In particular, she points to “pay equity to work-family balance to life expectancy as areas where women in the United States still face problems.” Oh oh.

I suppose it never occurred to Hillary that number two causes number one? It seems to have finally occurred to everyone else. But more interestingly, did she really say “life expectancy”? Oh, heavens! Those evil Republicans are trying to destroy women's genes to kill them off younger than they should otherwise die! Boo hoo hoo!

Good grief. Women live LONGER than men. Yes. Women live 81 years compared to 76 for men on average... five years longer. So what is the problem? Is Hillary so bad with obvious facts or is this like Obamacare where Obama's real goal was apparently to strip more people of insurance than help them? Look out ladies, Hillary wants to shorten your lives on average by five years.

Do you know how she’s going to do it? I do. This is all part of one plan. She’s going to make you work longer hours, sacrificing family for work, so as to close the pay gap. The misery that generates will shorten your lifespans by five years. Perfect. Total equality. All you need to do is live less fulfilled and shorter lives. Hell, I’m on board... “Hillary 2016, because women have it too damn good.”

Mock Five: Other contributors to Hillary’s little book include Beyonce, who is best known for selling her breasts to the public, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, who is best known for being an elitist and for being too cheap to pay interns, Kristen Gillibrand, who is a far-left ideologue in the Senate and possible challenger to Hillary, and LebRon James, who is best known as one of the greatest villains basketball has ever produced. I guess Hitler’s ghost, Lindsay Lohan and Heidi Fleiss were busy.

Mock Six: Clinton has launched an initiative called, “No Ceilings,” which also means no second floors and no protection from the rain. This group, apparently, “makes the case ... from the global perspective of why empowering women at all levels of the economic strata is usually helpful to the debate.”

How inspiring. So let me get this straight. Rather than helping women at the bottom improve their lives, the goal is to "empower" them. Yep. She doesn’t want to improve their lives, their security, their families or anything that really matters to them personally... no. She just wants to "empower" them because that "usually" helps. And how does it help? It helps the debate. What debate? Is this the one in Hillary's head where she argues with us that we need to stop burning women at the stake? Or is she talking about some actual debate? Perhaps she means her nightly debates with Rick Santorum... they swap nights sleeping under each other's beds. Oh come on, you know they're the perfect couple.

Anyway, her goal is to help some debate rather than help women in any meaningful way and her goal is apparently worldwide, though I’m not sure why. We all know that everywhere that Islam treads, women are worshiped like Goddesses. And in Europe, well, let’s just say the men carry purses for a reason. So what is she upset about? Perhaps evil macho countries like India, Argentina, Nicaragua, Brazil, Indonesia, Chile, Liberia and others, where women have no rights and cannot rise above simple galley wenches... unless they find themselves elected President or Prime Minister as they have in each of those backward macho hellholes. Yes, Hillary could teach a lot to Cristina Kirchner in Argentina or Dilma Rousseff in Brazil about how these women could succeed if only they would follow her lead.

Yeah, you go girl.

Mock Seven: Finally, in all seriousness, Hillary lays out the horrific consequences “if we do not continue to campaign for women’s rights and opportunities.” What are those consequences? Prepare to weep uncontrollably: “The world we want to live in – and the country we all love and cherish – will not be what it should be.” Damn that’s horrifying!!!

Imagine a world in which our country was not what it should be. I mean, think about it. Imagine a world in which the wrong policies of evil men caused unemployment to be higher than it should be, raised taxes on the poor and middle classes more than they should, caused employers to drop their health insurance benefits, caused insurers to dump their plans, spent so much money on gifts to their cronies that the government became effectively broke, declared that civil rights laws only applied to certain races, etc. Imagine a world in which women can no longer get their tear-stained hands on 17 oz. cups! The horror... the horror!

Anyways, what this book tell us is that Hillary remains a woman without substance. She doesn’t want to help you, she wants to use you to talk. She sees things that aren’t broken as crises, ignores genuine crises, and offers mindless platitudes to solve these non-problems. In effect, she’s a book of procedures offering non-solutions to problems that no longer exist. If I were a liberal, I’d be really worried about backing this particular horse... she’s lame.
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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Why People Hate Corporations

An issue came up last week that I think is worth expanding upon. The question deals with corporations. The issue comes up most often when conservatives point out that Hollywood has an anti-corporate bias in its selection of villains. A number of conservatives think this has turned the public against corporations and that we need to fight this. In truth, however, corporations have been harmed by their own misdeeds, and conservatives need to get better at choosing whom to defend. Let’s discuss.

What spawned this was a debate that goes back several years to the first days at Big Hollywood. The number one complaint by conservatives against Hollywood seems to be that Hollywood always makes corporations the villains. They claim this has soured people on corporations and needs to be fought to protect capitalism. Here’s the thing though: corporations don’t really need any help making themselves into villains.

Consider this. Since the 1970s, corporations have been mistreating their employees. First, they fired all their middle managers and killed the idea of the corporate ladder while giving huge pay raises to the top. Suddenly, you were management, a peon, or terminated, and the top managers made a fortune for getting rid of you. Then they raided pension funds and slashed benefits... all during periods of record profits. So if you were a corporate lifer or a retiree, you’re probably none-too-happy with them.

Then they outsourced most of the peon positions, or they moved overseas to find cheaper labor. Even worse, to fill the jobs that stayed, they lobbied Washington to let in cheap foreign labor to undercut the unemployed American labor they claimed didn’t exist. Both Wall Street and Silicon Valley did this right after laying off tens of thousands of people... seriously, they claimed they couldn’t find Americans to do these jobs even as they were firing them.

Then they learned they could use the government to stifle competition. Suddenly, they started pushing for a massive regulatory surge to hamstring their competitors. Companies like GE lobbied for environmental regulations to make others buy their products, media companies sought to control the internet, Vegas casinos fought to stop internet gambling, car companies wanted taxpayers to pay the cost of “green” cars, green companies got massive direct loans, light bulb companies got the government to ban the light bulb so you would need to buy more modern versions with higher margins, banks, insurers, home builders and universities got the government to underwrite debt and give them interest free loans, health insurers got Uncle Sam to force everyone to buy their product, etc. Others lobbied to impose the same labor restrictions they had agreed to with their own unions, the Business Roundtable lobbied for Obamacare so they could foist their healthcare costs on the taxpayer, etc.

Every one of these companies used the power of government to strip you of your rights, to cripple a smaller competitor, or to take money out of your wallet.

Meanwhile, came the age of non-responsibility. A lot of these corporations are putting out dangerous or defective products, using predatory tactics (like forced arbitration with biased arbitrators or abusive debt collection tactics) and other dirty tricks. When they get caught, they first honed the legalistic apology: “to the extent anyone was hurt, we are sorry.” This morphed into the non-apology and the non-denial denial: “we didn’t do anything wrong and we’re sorry if you think we did.” By now, there’s a new strategy: lie and deny. When corporations do something wrong, they lie about it until they get sued and then they settle without admitting fault... after making you exhaust every last avenue of legal recourse and fighting until the bitter end. This minimized the harm the company suffers, but it has left a very bad taste in people's mouths.

These behaviors are those of villains. In fact, these are the behaviors of villains in melodramas and audiences would reject them as too extreme to be believable if you put them in a film. This is why people have come to hate corporations. Not because some Hollywood villains were corporations.

And while this certainly isn’t true of all corporations, these behaviors have become so common that the public no longer distinguishes between good and bad companies on these grounds.

And there’s more to consider.

As a conservative, we should always be concerned with concentrations of power and market distortions. Modern corporations represent both. On concentrations of power, there is nothing inherently wrong with corporations from this perspective... BUT the rise of the multinational mega-corporations is a different animal. These are companies who are large enough to push around governments and rich enough to buy government favors that would have been unthinkable in any age in the past outside the Gilded Age. It is no surprise that the corporations who do the most lobbying also tend to be the ones that are most hated.

The second point involves corporate governance. Economics tells us that there is a problem when ownership and responsibility are separated. This is why socialism fails, because when people aren’t responsible for their failures, there is no incentive to get things right. The modern corporate form is causing an extreme disconnect in this regard. Management teams run companies with little regard to the wishes of owners. They get paid whether they succeed or fail. They bear no responsibility for what happens. And owners are incapable of controlling or changing management.

These are not things conservatives should support. I’m not saying we should support banning corporation, like the idiots on the left want, but I am saying that conservatives need to become much more selective about what they choose to defend. Conservatives need to make it clear to their leaders that they want free-markets and fair and open competition, and that we know that “corporate desires” or “good for business” do not equate to free markets and open and fair competition. We need to stop defending subsidies and favors, stop protecting businesses just because they are big, and look for regulations that make management more responsive to owners, that protect the public form abusive practices, and that increase competition.

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Monday, January 13, 2014

Make It Stop... Obamacare Update

It’s time for the weekly Obamacare update. Blech. This stuff needs to stop. We need new news... somebody invade something. Anyway, here goes.

Nothing To See Here: It seems that the media has decided that the Obamacare system is up and running. I can’t tell you the number of stories I’ve seen that start with the phrase, “Now that they’ve fixed the system and it’s up and running...” Yeah, right.

I see this as an attempt to stop the bleeding without first closing the wound: what the public doesn’t know can’t upset them. Sadly for the left, that never works.

Even assuming the system itself is working, which it probably isn’t as there has been no big party celebrating the fix, they still haven’t figured out a way to let people know they need to pay, to get people proof of insurance, to let people change their status if they have kids or get married or get divorced. There’s apparently no security either. What a great system! At least it doesn’t go all Skynet on your ass.

Plenty of Harm To Go Around: Obamacare is hurting employees everywhere. According to a new survey, a majority of the public says Obamacare has negatively affected their health insurance: 47% of the 150 million people with employer-provided plans say their premiums have gone up because of Obamacare, 44% say their deductibles, co-pays and/or out-of-pocket expenses have gone up because of Obamacare, 19% have seen their choice in doctors decrease, and 7% have had their spouse or kids kicked off their coverage. Way to make friends, Mr. President! Why don’t you rough up some nuns for your next official act?

Liars Can Figure: The Democrats are desperate to avoid the obvious, which is that more people are uninsured because of Obamacare than got insurance because of Obamacare. To make this point, they are claiming that nine million people got insurance from Obamacare. Woo hoo! If only that were true...

The nine million number consists of the following: (1) 2.1 million who have selected plans through an exchange; (2) 3.9 million who became eligible for Medicaid; and (3) 3.1 million young adults who are now on their parents’ policies. None of these numbers are what they seem.

(1) First, it’s not clear that the 2.1 million figure includes only people who signed up for private insurance or if this is mixed with Medicaid sign ups. It is most likely a mix, and Team Obama has been cagey about this.

Moreover, more than half these people didn’t pay, so they aren’t covered and there’s no way to tell them they need to pay. At this point, only 1 million people are confirmed and we don’t know what percentage are Medicaid.

(2) Secondly, the 3.9 million Medicaid sign ups is pretty fascinating once you start to look into it. First, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services admits that this 3.9 “includes new eligibility determinations and some Medicaid and CHIP renewals.” In other words, this include both new people and people already in the system. Typical Democrats trying to claim credit for causing something that already happened before they acted. In any event, Obamacare clearly has added fewer than 3.9 million people to Medicaid.

It gets worse.

Medicaid has been running for years and each year has a certain number of people who sign up. Obamacare expanded who was eligible, so presumably the number of signups would go up in 2013, right? Well, it didn’t. The number of people who signed up in the last three months of 2013 is lower than the numbers who signed up during the same period in 2012 and 2011. Said differently, fewer people signed up for Medicaid after Obamacare was passed than we would have expected to sign up had Obamacare not been passed. Interesting.

Now, it is true that the rate fell less in states that accepted the federal money and expanded the program, but the rate still fell in every state. Since fewer people signed up under Obamacare than one would otherwise have expected to sign up, it’s logical nonsense to claim that Obamacare caused 3.9 million people to sign up.

(3) Finally, we come to the 3.1 million young people on their parents’ insurance. This number was tossed out by Team Obama and no one really examined it, so take it with a glass of Kool-Aid. Moreover, there is no indication how many of these people would have bought insurance on their own if they hadn’t had this option. If half of them would have done that, then Obamacare can only be credited with half this number. We just don’t know. All we know for sure is that 3.1 million is overstated.

So what you’re really looking at here is not nine million people as Harry “The Rotten Liar” Reid claims. It is, instead, “something less than 4.15 million,” which is less than the “more than five million” who lost their insurance... and that’s the best case for Obama.

That best case is miles below estimates, by the way. Team Obama originally estimated that 7 million would buy private insurance, 9 million would get Medicaid, and only 2 million would lose their insurance. DISASTER.

We Hate It!: Here are the latest poll numbers: 48% of Americans want it repealed – this includes 53 of independents – 38% want is saved.

We Love It!: Finally, here’s why insurance companies love Obamacare and lobbied for it. Analysts are estimating that Obamacare will be worth $90 billion to the insurance firms who participate. That’s how much the Democrats wants to steal from your pocket and give to their crony friends.

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Film Friday: Super 8 (2011)

I’ve never been a huge fan of The Goonies. The film is ok, but it feels lite to me, like Spielberg really didn’t put his all into it. Worse though, his penchant for ugly stereotypes really rubs me wrong in that one... the fat kid who can’t stop eating, the Asian kid who makes gadgets, the abusive jock. Blech. Anyway, Super 8 stinks. It’s like a low-rent version of The Goonies and nothing about this film works.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Minimum Wage Daze

If there's one issue on which liberals are almost always bound to get some public traction, it's an argument for raising the minimum wage. Even in my reddish neck of the woods, clear majorities support it at the polls. So it would be foolish for me to crap all over the idea of a minimum wage...but of course I'll do it anyway.

If you've followed the news lately, this issue has come up once again, as a number of states have raised their wage levels. One community around Seattle, in fact, now requires at least $15/hour pay from every business. And Democrats are only too happy to take this nationwide, demanding a hike in the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. And of course there were all those protests recently by the fast-food workers, for whom, apparently, only making $7.25 an hour is the equivalent of having to stand in line at a soup kitchen. Sigh.

The minimum wage has always annoyed me, for mathematical and philosophical reasons. Firstly, having taken an economics course or two, I've been struck ever since by the public's ignorance that labor, like all commodities, follows the law of supply and demand: If you raise the price of it, buyers will demand less of it. In other words, the minimum wage tends to lead to higher unemployment. Proving this with economic data is tricky, because there are always so many factors at play, but consider this. States which have (or had) no minimum wage laws, such as Switzerland or Hong Kong, have historically had very low unemployment rates--around two to four percent. On the other end, there are the large European countries (France, Germany, the U.K.), which are famous for generous workers' benefits and chronic double-digit unemployment. These examples don't show causation, but they do suggest a very strong correlation between high minimum wage requirements and high unemployment.

Also, let's not overlook the fact that relatively, a very small number of people only earn minimum wage. The most recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics peg the number at less than 1.6 million out of a workforce of about 75 million, or barely two percent of the whole. And as is always the case, this small number is skewed toward the youth--the 16-19 age bracket alone makes up over 30 percent of that number. This makes the above argument even more compelling; a bunch of the people "suffering" from minimum wage are just teenagers in entry-level positions they'll quickly move out of anyway. Indeed, one could easily make the argument that an increase in the wage levels will make upward mobility more difficult, keeping employees at a lower average income during their career than they would have otherwise.

But hey. Let's throw all that out. Because no matter what, some liberal will inevitably come up with a case of some single mother with three or four kids who has to work two jobs, at night, has to eat off the Dollar Menu at McDonald's, and can't even afford a First-Aid kit, because the minimum wage is so terrible. Shouldn't we do something to help her? (By "something," of course, I'm referring to government aid, because that's what liberals are referring to. Private charity and other forms of voluntarism aren't at issue here.)

This is purely my observation, but it seems that all of our rational, statistical analyses don't really move people. It's not that the numbers are wrong, but the knee-jerk reaction seems to be "Well, at least the Democrats are trying to do something to help! Why do you have to be such naysayers?" The mindset on injustices and other social problems seems to be that anything, even a bad attempt at a fix, is better than the status quo. And that's a difficulty conservatives have not yet mastered.

The problem, in this as in so many other cases, lies with the failure to recognize that suffering is a part of human life. And it's not just liberals who have this problem; if it were, measures like this wouldn't be so widely popular. I don't think most people would disagree with the statement that mankind is not perfectable save by God (though I can think of a few who would), but in practice, we've all fallen into the trap of thinking that whenever some social ill raises its head, it must be legislated out of existence. Which is to say, in matters like the minimum wage we can see liberalism completely on display--the technocratic urge to tinker with society until everyone is fat and happy.

It's not good politics, and I'm not suggesting we make it our banner or something, but conservatives need to embrace the fact of suffering. Or rather, to embrace the notion that some forms of suffering are better than a random proposed panacea, which probably won't work anyway. And besides, in this case it's fairly certain that for a lot of people, a minimum wage of $10 or $12 will make things worse instead of better.

Conservatives shouldn't be falling into the trap of showing they want government to care about the right people, on this or other issues--especially when "showing you care" means throwing around lots of taxpayer money. Rather, they should focus on creating the conditions that will minimize these social ills as much as possible, while keeping it in mind that they will always be with us. That's why the minimum wage debate is so misguided.
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Thursday, January 9, 2014

New York State of Mind - Inauguration Edition

AS of January 1, New York has a new mayor. Bill de Blasio was sworn in and outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg was almost literally sworn out. Yeah, the incoming Mayor de Blasio and his roster of speakers did not have much nice to say about the Bloomberg Administration. Now, don't get me wrong. I have spent many years railing against Nanny Bloomberg, but there is one thing that in indisputable. In the twelve year that Mayor Bloomberg was in charge, he and his Administration left New York City a much better place to live. Maybe too much better, but you wouldn't know if from de Blasio and his "friends". His ongoing campaign theme was "Tale of Two Cities". You know where the rich just get richer and the poor get poor and never the twain shall meet.

It started off okay. Bill Clinton (yes, that Bill Clinton) was chosen to swear Mr. de Blasio in as the New Mayor and he was about the only one who didn't swear at outgoing Mayor Bloomberg. Clinton spoke glowingly of Mayor Bloomberg and how he improved the city since taking office in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. And he was only one to say "Thank You" to Mayor Bloomberg for his "incredible commitment" and stewardship. The rest of the speakers spent the remainder of their valuable time...well, let me just give you some of the more choice quotes.

First up, Harry Belafonte - He should have sung a song, but sadly he did not. First, he called the Bloomberg Administration "Dickensian" and he did not mean it in a good way either. He stated that "New York alarmingly plays a tragic role in the fact that our nation has the largest prison population in the world." He could have been referring to the many New York City elected officials who have been arrested, but sadly that is not what he meant. He was referring to that evil, yet highly effective "stop, question, and frisk" policy of the New York City police department which oddly has brought the murder rate down to historic lows and incarceration rates down 36% since 2002. But why let facts get in the way of "speaking truth to power", right?

Next up, Sanitation Department Chaplain Fred Lucas Jr. (who knew the Sanitation HAD a chaplain!) - He referred to New York City as "a plantation" and but not before he asked God to free New York from the "shackles of partisan politics" and "political correctness". Needless to say, many are calling for him to resign. Not only because of his tasteless remarks, but the more pressing question as to why the Sanitation Department needs their own dedicated Chaplain.

Then came Letitia James, newly elected Public Advocate (the most pointless position in our city government) who trotted out a 12 year old girl recently profiled in the NYT as the face of poverty and homelessness in New York. (more on that later, maybe) Here is what Ms. James had to say - “The policies that made us voiceless must give way to a government that works for them, that speaks for them, that cares more about a child going hungry than a new stadium or a new tax credit for a luxury development that a majority of New Yorkers can’t ­afford.” and added that “we live in a gilded age of inequality [see: Tale of Two Cities] where decrepit homeless shelters and housing developments stand in the neglected shadow of gleaming multimillion-dollar condos.” Ironically, in the seven day since the inauguration, Ms. James has been called out as a liar for falsely taking credit for bringing the plight of the 12 year old to the attention of the NYT, and that, even better, she owns a few of those "decrepit" housing developments that stand neglected. Oopsey...

Interestingly, Al Sharpton was not invited to speak. I am pretty sure that it was because he wasn't really needed as the grievance lobby was well represented.

Mayor Bloomberg who was sitting on the dais right behind all of the speakers and sat stone-faced the entire time. It was reported that he made a brief appearance at the post-inauguration reception inside City Hall, but did not linger. The fallout has been amusing. Though New Yorkers loved to whine about Mayor Bloomberg (me included), they...we give him credit for making the city better and safer and the inauguration speakers have been universally condemned as insulting, "smug", and "graceless". It does not bode well for New Yorkers that Mayor de Blasio declared that he was "very comfortable" with what his speakers had to say.

Issues for NY'ers to look forward to with our new Mayor de Blasio - higher crime rates, higher taxes, and a more entrenched Big Labor on the public payroll...yey!
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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Ahhhh! They's Brainwashin' Me!!

Arg. There was a study the other day which is sure to feed the paranoia of our slower, fringier friends. See, the study claims that watching movies makes you liberal. The fact the study is nonsense probably won’t stop those people from citing to it either.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The End of Identity Politics (1960s – 2013ish)

Our fringes, left and right, won’t like this, but there is more evidence all the time that identity politics is a dead issue with the public. I wrote about this last year and the proof just keeps on coming. Observe.

For those who don’t know, identity politics is a political strategy pushed originally by the left to drive a wedge between minorities and the rest of America so the left could secure their loyalties. The idea was to make these groups paranoid so they would identify only with others of their own kind, who would then band together and vote for leftists who promised to protect them from whites, males, straights, etc. Hence, black leftists told blacks that whites want to return them to slavery. Women were told that males want to take away their jobs and their right to control their bedroom lives. Gays were told that straights want to criminalize their lifestyles again. And so on. And each group was told they were oppressed to make them feel like victims. Talk radio hosts then brought this same tactic to the right and told whites/males/heterosexuals that they were the real victims and that everyone else was out to get them.

Both of these sides now spend their time scaring their own audiences with quotes from obscure idiots on the other side and with boogeymen tales to keep their audiences paranoia of the enemy... "Did you hear about that one guy who said that thing? You know THEY all think like that, don't you?"

But the public at large has rejected all of this. How do I know?

Well, for starters, there was the shocking poll from Rasmussen that I mentioned last July. Rasmussen found the following:
● 37% of Americans think “most blacks are racist.”
● 18% of Americans think “most Hispanics are racist.”
● 15% of Americans think “most whites are racist.”
These numbers were shocking because they were a total repudiation of everything the left and right had been saying. The left routinely claims that all whites are racists, even those who fight racism, because it is inherent in our natures. The talk radio right counter that blacks and Hispanics are racist militants who are determined to oppress whites and turn America in a Browndystopia. Yet, the public clearly rejects this: 8 in 10 reject the liberal claim and more than 6 in 10 reject the conservative claim (this number is likely higher because of the near-constant use of false racism charges by blacks who get into trouble).

Then there’s this. Even though a Pew poll found that women earn just 84% of what their male counterparts earn, only 15% of women say they have been discriminated against personally because of their gender. So much for accepting the idea that all women are oppressed.

But the best evidence comes from other sources. As I’ve always pointed out, the problems with polls are threefold: (1) bias by the pollster, who coincidentally is never held accountable if they are wrong, (2) bad methodology, including limitations of the questions and poor sample selection, and (3) the fact that people don’t tell the truth. And in terms of telling the truth, I don’t even mean that they necessarily lie. When confronted with polls, a lot of people will tell the pollster what they have been told is the appropriate answer, whether they believe it or not. Others will respond with their aspirations rather than the reality. So we need to look somewhere else.

To give you an example, people tell pollster that they have nothing against fat people. That is the “politically correct” answer. But this isn’t borne out in reality, where voters willing vote for things to try to force fat people to lose weight (like the 16 oz. tyranny), where surveys have shown that fat people earn less and are held in lower esteem than thinner colleagues, and where neither Hollywood nor Madison Avenue (advertising central) cast fat people as anything other than comic relief.

If you think about it, you will realize that Madison Avenue (and to lesser extent Hollywood) are the ultimate source of information about the state of our culture. Why? Because their livelihood depends on them correctly diagnosing cultural trends. If they misunderstand a prejudice and cast a fat guy to sell their cologne, sales will tank or even worse they might spawn a negative meme or protests by outraged groups, and they will be fired. Get fired a couple times and you’re done as a company. So getting it right is vital... unlike with pollsters and talking heads.

So why am I talking about advertising? Because I’ve seen two fascinating ads lately that relate to the issue of identity politics. In the 1990s, when identity politics was in its heyday, you took your professional life in your hands if you made a woman or a black the villain or the butt of a joke. The Nazi-like forces of identity politics proclaimed not only that all films ads must include blacks and women, but they must always be shown in positive, stereotype-rejecting ways. Thus, women and blacks were portrayed as bosses, professionals, leaders and winners. If two people competed, the black or woman won. They could never be portrayed as stupid, out of touch, or as the butt of jokes nor could be they be cast as criminals, racists, sexists, or as nasty people. Was. Not. Done. Television and films were the same way. Heck, even if the film was about gangs, the gangs were typically shown as multiracial, with a white businessman ultimately being behind them and with the white gang members being the psychotics.

Little by little though, this seems to be breaking down. The first sign was the return of white male managers and smart white males. Suddenly, not every woman on television was automatically smarter than the males around her. Girls being shown playing sports have vanished too -- a trend that was pushed heavily by feminists in the 1990s.

Then came the Microsoft tablet ad. In this ad, a white guy(and white woman) are upset to hear that the new guy got a great new tablet simply because the new guy spilled coffee on the older computer they gave him. In the abstract, this makes the new guy sound clumsy. But there’s more. The new guy is shown essentially bragging about the event in such a way that the commercial suggests that the coffee spilling was intentional. That makes the new guy a bit of a villain. Here’s the catch. The new guy is black. Showing a black guy as either clumsy or a villain or "working the system" and bragging about it would have been impossible in the 1990s... but there is it.

At the same time, in the remake of Red Dawn, there is one collaborator shown... the mayor. Guess what? He’s black. It has long been a stereotype that blacks are of questionable loyalty to America -- this was the counterargument to desegregation of the military. Portraying a black character as a collaborator in an invasion would have brought screams of racism in the 1980s or 1990s... but there it is.

Then came the Jack in the Box ad. In this ad, Jack is walking to a meeting and the woman walking next to him is a real dingbat. She doesn’t know how to complete words (she speaks in text speak) and she doesn’t know what a watch is. Essentially, this is a dig at young people. But had this been done ten years ago, the assistant would have needed to be male... this was a woman.

So what you have here is advertisers, who need to be at the forefront of culture and need to be right in their diagnosis of culture, are no longer afraid to poke fun at women and blacks. This tells us that they are no longer worried about the public freaking out about identity politics.

Finally, we have this. The two most popular female characters among women right now, without a doubt, are Anastasia Steele from Fifty Shades of Grey, a woman who is submissive and needs a strong man to take control of her life and make her happy, and Stephanie Plum... a horribly incompetent bounty hunter who can’t compete with the much more competent men in her life. Both characters would have been savagely attacked by feminists in the 1990s and probably suppressed. Similarly, fat and incompetent Melissa McCarthy and incompetent Kristen Wiig are quickly becoming the two most bankable female stars of the moment. And don’t forget, this is a country that elected a black man as president and may elect a woman soon. This is a country that has happily embraced a large number of black leading men and several tough-gal leading women in action films. News readers can be male or female, black, white or other, as can athletes. None of this would be true if the public was as obsessed with race as the fringes are.

All of this above strongly suggests that the public at large has rejected identity politics and is “moving beyond” race and gender. That’s good for the country and ultimately great for conservatism.
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