Thursday, May 29, 2014

Step One: Make Your Bed Every Day

In a world where university commencement speakers are uninvited at the mere whiff of controversy, it's good to know that at least one school hosted one of the best speeches of the year. Now, I know, you think that I must be talking about President Obama's speech at West Point Military Academy where he defended his policy of "leading from behind" to the newest member of the Defenders of the Free World. But no, not that one. As good as Obama's address was as a campaign stump speech, the commencement speech that I am talking about was at The University of Texas at Austin**.

This one was given by Admiral William McRaven, member of the University of Texas Class of '77. You probably don't know his name, but you certainly know his work. He is was the Commander of the Seal Team Six. You know, that group of brave men who took out Osama bin Laden. Yeah, that guy. Oh, I know President Obama wants us all to believe that he was the one who took out bin Laden, but, without guys like Admiral McRaven, UT Class of '77, well, I won't finish my thought. Anyway, listen to his commencement address. It's short, but packed with great life lessons that we all could use and one that should be remembered. Here are Admiral McRaven's 10 pointers for "changing the world". And, just to get you started, his first one...make your bed every day. It just gets better from there.

Lessons that we all could use. Life is hard and not fair, but you just have to keep moving forward and never ring that bell.

**Disclaimer: I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, but I was not a Navy Seal. Go Longhorns!
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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

More On Education

Two thoughts on education tonight. First, more evidence why education matters. Secondly, more evidence that American schools are better than the “Our Schools Are Failing!” Industry want you to believe.

Point 1: The Populists Lose Another One

One of the tenants of populism is that education is a corrupter rather than an enhancer. Essentially, populism (as practiced by everyone from the left to the right) quickly devolves into the uneducated claiming that their ignorance gives them moral superiority over the elite. Hence, they attack the educated as alien and they revel in idiotic ideas like claiming that a high school education is all the education a “real” person needs. But statistics have blown a hole in that line of crap. And now we’ve added a new piece.

I’ve pointed out before that your income throughout life depends on your level of education. Yeah. “Surprisingly,” all those anecdotal accounts of Bill Gates and three other guys getting rich with only a high school degree turned out to be unique occurrences and in no way representative of the real world. Imagine that. So unless you just happen to invent a once-in-a-lifetime thing, your economic prospects in life are tied to your level of education. Indeed, according to the Census, the median income for people broken down by education level is:
$20,241 Michael Savage Listener
$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
Note that 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. 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”... think the Reagan years. So education is the difference between the Great Depression and the Reagan years for job searchers.

And now we add a new piece: how you do matters too. Indeed, the University of Miami has done a study which found that grades matter. Each point a student adds to their GPA during high school adds around 11% to their income compared to their peers when they are out in the real world. That is hugely significant. Indeed, consider that an A student likely makes 22% more than a C student and 33% more than a D student. That’s the difference between $100,000 a year and $67,000 a year. (The one exception to this is when you compare males to females, as females continue to make less than males. However, it does hold true when comparing females to females or males to males or students generally.)

The inescapable conclusion of all of this is that unless you are born rich or happen to invent something amazing, your level of education controls your future and how hard you try when you are going through your education adds a significant component of that. Sorry reel ‘merikans.

Point 2: Statistical Chicanery

I’ve mentioned before that all these statistics you see about American schools failing are bull. Sometimes they base their claim on numbers that are within the statistical margin of error, meaning they are based on meaningless distinctions. Other times, they rig the criteria by including things that have nothing to do with education outcomes. At other times, they don’t even compare apples to apples, like when they compare all American students against only the best overseas. And once you start digging into any of these numbers, you typically find that the US isn’t at the bottom like they claim but is typically right near the top.

Anyways, there was yet another one of these “WE’RE DOOMED!” studies a few weeks ago, which I sadly cannot find at the moment. This one claimed that America’s schools are failing. And as proof, they claimed that around 35% of American high schools don’t offer algebra or advanced science classes... classes required under the new Common Core standards. Consequently, our schools are failing!!!

Wrong. When you looked into it, this number fell apart immediately. How? Well, consider the state which the study found had the lowest rate of high schools offering algebra or advances science: Georgia. Compliance in Georgia was less than 40% according to the study. However, this was actually a misunderstanding. Georgia requires that all schools teach both classes. The reason they reported they didn’t teach these things was that they name them something else in Georgia, i.e. “algebra” is “Math One.” The study authors didn’t get this.

Errors like this account for almost all of the non-compliance. As for the rest, they are rural high schools in places like Alaska where only a handful of students are taught in a single classroom and there is no ability to teach advanced classes. Those are hardly representative of "high schools" and they don’t even teach enough students to registered within the margin of error. And by counting them as “high schools,” the study distorted how real high schools are performing.

So once again, you had a study which claimed that US schools were failing. Yet, the data they used was obviously fake. A more realistic number is probably that around 95% of American “high schools” offer these courses and the 5% that don’t are specialty schools which teach only a handful of students. In other words, there is no problem here. The scare is a lie.
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Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

Special thanks to everyone who has kept this country safe and free!

(We're taking off until Wednesday.)
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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Obama's 10 Stages of Leadership and other stuff...

As we move into yet one more Memorial Day weekend where we are supposed to honor our fallen soldiers and sailors, the next new revelation has hit the news. Our returning military are coming back to a system at the Veterans Administration with year long waits for evaluation for treatment. [By the way, that's a year just waiting to see a VA doctor to evaluate what treatment they will need in the future.]

But how can we honor the fallen if we can't take care of those who come back? Those who willingly make the ultimate sacrifice of their lives, their livelihoods, their futures and those of their families and then come back only to be treated so shabbily? Whatever you may believe about whether we should have waged war in Iraq or Afghanistan or not, we did. And there were hundreds of thousands of men and women who made the decision to serve in our nation's military forces and do what our country and our leaders asked of them, and continue to ask them to do. These soldiers and sailors voluntarily sacrifice their bodies, minds, and souls for the promise that we will take care of them when they return. We are failing them in the most egregious way bordering on criminal if not just outright criminal. They deserve better. Period.

What they don't need is yet another political war of "who done it". But that is all we get these days. With every new revelation about our government, the pattern of crisis management and leadership has never been so clear as with the Obama Administration. And frankly, it is has to end. Our President has shown his style of leadership does not work on the American people anymore. Just to make this clear, here is a step-by-step anatomy of a crisis with Obama:

1. Show shock and send Jay Carney/Rob Gibbs et al. to express his outrage to the WH press corps.
1a. Leave for Fundraiser/Golf/Vacation

2. Amplify outrage and state he had no idea this was happening until he read it/saw it in the news
2a. Leave for Fundraiser/Golf/Vacation

3. Gets caught in obvious lie. Print/TV News Media refuse to investigate further.
3a. Leave for Fundraiser/Golf/Vacation

4. Cue the violins - Show public outrage by giving speech** to demonstrate said "outrage" so everyone will "get" that he...well, may have known, but didn't really know. Insist this will be investigated and top priority and patience is needed. Show photo of a single tear down cheek, if necessary. Print/TV News Media refuse to investigate further.
4a. Leave for Fundraiser/Golf/Vacation

5. Have someone publicly "fired" who was going to retire within 3 weeks anyway; Or in the alternative, "reassigned" or "put on paid leave" appropriate low level administrator. Print/TV News Media refuse to investigate further.
5a. Leave for Fundraiser/Golf/Vacation

6. Blame/claim the previous administration did the same thing and/or is at fault. Print/TV News Media refuse to investigate present administration further, but find many examples of previous Administration's culpability.
6a. Leave for Fundraiser/Golf/Vacation

7. Insists again that there be "an investigation". More patience needed. House Republicans take up investigation and form a committee to investigate. Initiate mocking and stonewalling by the present Administration and Democrats [see: Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Charles Schumer, or any random member of the Congressional Black Caucus used interchangeably]
7a. Leave for Fundraiser/Golf/Vacation

8. More outrage from public demanding answers because Print/TV News Media refuse to investigate further. Initiate mocking of public by see list above.
8a. Leave for Fundraiser/Golf/Vacation

9. If necessary, initiate the Print/TV media/HuffPo/DNC investigation to conclude that the issue is only important to "The Right" because they are [evil, racist, stupid] because the President is [fill in the blank] and not because this is a real problem. Initiate use of the phrases "faux scandal", "fake scandal" and "witch hunt" to be used interchangeably when anyone questions the status or facts of said issue. Conclusion from the Print/TV News Media: Blame Bush.
9a. Leave for Fundraiser/Golf/Vacation

10. Initiate pivot to "jobs" and pray that public will move on AND...
10a. Leave for Fundraiser/Golf/Vacation

[For the record, we are up to #6 on the liberal blogs...]

**Oh, and if you think his statements and outrage are new and different? Well, here are two examples to dispel you of that myth:

On Veterans Administration issue
"If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is a disgrace and I will not tolerate it. Period," Obama said during a hastily called press conference at the White House...I will not stand for it. Not as commander-in-chief, but also not as an American," he added. "None of us should."

On IRS targeting conservative groups
"If in fact IRS personnel engaged in the practices being reported on then...that's outrageous," President Obama said. "I’ve got no patience with it, I’ve got no tolerance on it."

The bottom line is that nothing gets fixed and we just become more divided. And this time our soldiers and sailors and their families get screwed. We have to fix this and we have to demand that this Administration fix it NOW. And while they are furiously trying to deflect any culpability, we need hold their feet to the fire and not allow them to advance to their step. We must now lose our patience. And while we are at it we need to ask them why our military families have to live on food stamps to survive. We owe them!

There, I am done.

P.S. In case you have forgotten, this week is the Commentarama family's Fifth Anniversary. I personally would like to thank all of you for sticking together for these years. Your insightful comments and arguments continue to be inspiring. And to Andrew, I especially thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be a part of this great group of people. And since it is Memorial Day, let's remember our fallen comrade Larry Hawk (aka LawHawkSF/LawHawkRFD) who is very much missed.
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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

And The Idiots Implode

Just a couple of quick points tonight... telling points about the future.

RIP The Tea Party: The Tea Party continues its march toward political oblivion. For some time now, I’ve told you that the GOP has learned to fight back and now intends to shut out the Tea Party crazies. The Tea Party recognized this and whined and whined and whined, especially about loyalty... hypocrites. Ted Cruz actually whined about the GOP leadership “carpet-bombing” the Tea Party.

Anyways, when the GOP first started fighting back, the Tea Party decide to put all of their eggs in one basket as a determined show of force. If they could execute Mitch McConnell, then the GOP would learn not to resist them. That was the plan.

Thus, Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, every other Tea Party luminary, the Senate Conservative Fund and every other Tea Party group endorsed and donated to McConnell’s opponent Bevins. For months, Rush and Hannity and the other Talk Radio nut jobs smeared McConnell with any lie and distortion they could think of. They made it very plain: You could not be a reel ‘merikan and not see McConnell as worse that Pelosi.

I told you, however, that McConnell would win easily because the GOP had learned to beat the crazies. And that is exactly what has happened. McConnell crushed Bevins by a mile on Tuesday.

Naturally, the Tea Party is now trying to back away from this. This has taken several phases. First, they started saying about two months ago that winning wasn’t their intent. Instead, they claimed it was enough to raise awareness. That’s called “managing expectations” and that’s horseship. Secondly, many are now disclaiming Bevins as a real Tea Party candidate because (1) he lied about supporting the bailout, (2) he lied about his education, (3) he suggested that gay marriage would allow parents to marry their children, and (4) he gave a campaign speech at a cockfighting rally. In reality, however, he’s no different than the other crazies they’ve been backing all over the place. The only reason they want to disavow him now is because his was the race they couldn’t win... so they want to pretend they weren’t involved in the race. Drudge actually described Bevins as McConnell’s “ ‘Tea Party’ Challenger,” in quotes, to suggest that he wasn’t really Tea Party. Presumably, the establishment falsely labeled Bevins as Tea Party.

One article tonight laughingly claimed that the true Tea Party victory in this election cycle was in Nebraska, where the winner (Sasse) is an insider if ever there was one, is a friend of Mitch McConnell, and was originally framed by the Tea Party as the evil establishment guy until they switched sides and turned on the Tea Party candidate, re-framing him as the evil establishment guy. Apparently, this “victory” shows that the Tea Party is still strong.

In the end, the Tea Party isn’t going away anymore than Sarah Palin is going away, but they are finished. Tonight was the last nail the coffin needed. The money and the voters have jumped ship back to the GOP. It’s over.

RIP The Democrats: This does my heart good. The Democrats are freaking out about the midterms. They are freaking out because they have no message as their push to raise the minimum wage (their only idea) hasn’t caught on with the middle class, and no one likes the things they’ve done. Heck, despite its faked success, Obamacare remains about as popular as herpes, as does Obama himself. Anyway, check out this quote about the Democrats’ feelings about Obama from Politico
Anxious Democrats point to Obama’s low-40s approval ratings as the kind of anchor-round-the-neck numbers that could cost the party real ground in the House, and enough Senate races to lose the majority. His failure so far to present a broad, compelling message on the economy — beyond an emphasis on raising the minimum wage that’s fallen flat with middle-class voters — has, according to internal Democratic polling and focus groups, left that group without a clear sense of what he or the party stands for beyond helping the poor.
Aww. I feel so bad for them! LOL! Actually, no I don’t. This is a party who has been relying on the GOP imploding going into the election. The GOP ended that danger by executing its turds. Now the Democrats have nothing they can run on and so much they need to run away from... Obamacare, record unemployment, falling incomes, 10 million under-water home loans, still too big(ger) to fail, not a promise kept, international humiliations, insults and injuries galore. Good luck with that. Couldn’t happen to nicer people.

RIP Inevitability: Finally, Hillary’s campaign is suddenly in serious trouble. Ha ha. It all started when Karl Rove noted that Hillary’s medical record might be relevant because it sure looked to him like she had suffered head trauma when she fell.

BANG!! Faster than a speeding bullet, things blew up on Hillary. Experts appeared who commented on her appearance, the medical glasses she wore, and everything else that indicated she’s just too old and perhaps too concussed. The media tried to defend her, but once this genie got out, it spread. Soon even Democrats like Obama-clone Deval Patrick were saying that “inevitability” (the word associated with Hillary) is an ugly thing. There is now a very real chance that Hillary will ultimately fail before she even reaches the starting point in the primary race. If that happens, then the Democrats have no one with a name they can run... the cupboard is bare.

Interesting times.
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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

America Rises... Not Declines

It is popular again... still... always... to believe that America is a dying giant on the verge of falling apart. Democracy doesn’t work! Capitalism doesn’t work! Our military is falling apart! Our kids are fat and stupid! Americans don’t want to work or do hard things! Our government is stuck!! Yeah, well, that’s crap and I keep pointing that out. So today I’m going to point out an article that Kit sent me.

The article can be found here: LINK, and here is what the authors point out...

Predicting the end of America is a long-time sport, it happens every generation. And for the past decade, the thinking has been that the emerging economies were going to surpass the US and take over the economic world, especially as we were mired in recession. Yep, the BRICs – Brazil, Russia, India and China – were going to make us second class. Meanwhile, the US was quickly becoming friendless. Our military was spent and our politics were deadlocked.

Well, that was then and this is now and things have changed. First, I debunked for you the other day the idea that China would (or has) passed us economically. Unless you believe that $9 trillion is greater than $16 trillion, then that hasn’t happened. And it won’t happen because China is facing economic and demographic headwinds which will keep it from ever catching us.

Secondly, while the BRICs were growing at 7% at one time, that didn’t last like the naysayers said it would... with straight faces, they predicted it would last forever actually. Today, Brazil’s growth rate is under 1%, India’s is under 3% and China lies about theirs being around 6% when we know it’s lower. China is headed for recession, a housing bubble bursting, and a credit problem even worse than our financial crisis. The only question now is how hard China will land.

South Africa and Turkey were added to the list of BRICs toward the end of the 2000s, but now both are mired in inflation, recessions, deficits and low growth. Europe, which liberal economists used to say was better than us in every way, is a basket case, with a 12% unemployment rate and a rich-poor schism that makes us look positively egalitarian.

Social unrest is appearing in each of these countries. Brazil is awash in corruption and incompetence. Their murder rate is worse than countries at war... and makes the left’s obsessive focus on guns in America a joke. Russia has become a crony-dictatorship which is hooked on oil like a junkie on crack.

No matter how hard so many have pushed for alternatives to the dollar, the dollar remains the safe-harbor currency of the world because it is considered the most reliable and most likely to retain its value. Our deficits are going down. Our employment is slowly rising. We are on the cusp of an energy revolution that some estimate will add as much as 4% to our economy. We are the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas, having passed Saudi Arabia. Our manufacturing sector is recovering as costs have risen in places like China to the point that they are bleeding businesses.

Our culture dominates. Our products top almost every major category. Our stores and brands dominate overseas markets. Our films and television continue to trump local products everywhere. America remains the number one place foreign students and emigrants want to go. We are the place the world invests its money.

Our military remains the world class by a mile and keeps getting better. I’ve pointed this out a couple times as well. Moreover, all you have to do to see how far ahead we are is watch the Iranians crow about cloning one of our drones as they build a wooden aircraft carrier for target practice, see the amazing difference in equipment and training between Russian special forces and Russian troops, watch Europe struggle to maintain 1500 guys in the field, watch China struggle to maintain 18 ships at see for two weeks and put out fake photos of non-functional stealth fighters.... then compare it to the US’s advances in drones, robotics, lasers, missile defense systems, jet fighters, battlefield medicine, communications, etc.

Diplomatically, in the 1980s and 1990s, groups of countries tried to go it without us. They formed various associations and created various treaties that they were going to create and exclude us or force upon us. Those are all gone now and it’s become clear that without the Americans on board, nothing will ever happen. And with China’s saber rattling, the Pacific nations are being drawn closer to us than ever, just as Eastern Europe is being drawn to us because of Russia. We’re the guy everyone wants as a friend when things get serious.

Then there are the ones people really don’t want to believe. We have one of the best educated workforces in the world and it’s getting better every year. Our schools are excelling. Our system has the perfect mix between allowing innovation and creating workers... the rest of the world stifles innovation. We are still the best place to start a business. Our government really does function. We are one of the only countries in the world not facing the demographic time bomb of a shrinking population – China will actually go from 1 billion to 750 million over the next fifty years... that’s a disaster.

The United States isn’t perfect and Obama sure isn’t helping make things better, but when it comes to the rest of the world, we outclass them all by a mile. Trust me, anyone predicting America’s decline is a fool.
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Monday, May 19, 2014

Another NFL Analogy

It’s time for another NFL analogy article because there is a bizarre similarity between the world of the NFL and our political system right now. So without further ado, here are some things I’ve observed from the NFL that fit our system perfectly.

Heavy Assh*le Factor: The world of commenting on sports stories is just as moronic and vile as the world of commenting on political stories. Indeed, the comments at most sports sites are just as stunningly retarded, illogical, false, hateful and self-righteous as they are at political sites like HotAir and HuffPo.

I don’t know if this is good or bad. It would be good if the fact that this behavior occurs in other areas than just politics tells us that the problem is anonymous posting rather than some deep schism within humanity. And in truth, we do seem to be talking about less than a thousand or so ultra-dipsh*ts dominating all these forums. On the other hand, it would be bad if this meant this behavior was spreading to other facets of our lives.

Liberals Are Confused, Angry: One of the things that I keep running into in NFL circles is the hilarious discovery that liberals are utterly confused. The best example of this comes from the writer Peter King. King is a dipsh*t, delusional far-left liberal who likes to think he’s unbiased. You can depend on King to protest his lack of political bias even as he goes out of his way to discuss and endorse things like gun control, environmentalism, and his love of Al Gore. And he's big on the "somebody needs to do something!" which liberals love so much.

Where this gets funny is that because King is white and male and old, and because he works for a massive “corporation,” the liberals who comment on his articles are incapable of processing the idea that he could be a liberal. After all, liberals are young, dark and poor, not fat, old, entitled and white, right? So they simply assume that he must be a conservative and they attack everything he says... even the liberal stuff.

A case in point is the Michael Sam saga. No matter what King said, they took it as a statement that King wants Sam kept out of NFL locker rooms. So when King was writing articles critical of GM’s who said Sam would be a “distraction,” the liberal commenters were outraged that King would allow such a thought to be expressed in his column. Apparently, “distraction” was a code word for a way to exclude gays, and by repeating the comments of these GMs (even critically), King was giving them the seal of approval. Even when King tried to naysay anyone who said that Sam would be drafted (or not cut) because of political correctness, he was savaged for saying that Sam would need to make the team based on his own skills. Apparently, “skill” was a code word for a way to exclude gays.

This has been going on for quite some time now and they do the same thing with regard to race or unionization or any other liberal idea that touches upon the NFL. Everything he says, no matter how liberal, get spun into conservatism and attacked. My personal favorite attack on him is that King, who has fellated every black quarterback ever, is a racist because... well, because he’s rich and white and fat, so he must be!!!

I think this helps to clarify a few things: (1) liberals are unable to identify liberalism when they see it; (2) liberals are intolerant even of being told of opposing views; (3) liberals are incapable of spotting liberals when they don’t have the right resume and skin color; and (4) liberals are insane with rage right now. Sound familiar? It should, because you can see the same thing at any far-right or far-left website... conservative/liberal ideas savaged because the wrong person said them... an inability to tell friend from foe... rage-based emoting replacing human cognitive function... and extreme intolerance to anyone who doesn’t join the cult 100%.

Brain-dead Media: The NFL media is packed with morons, and no, I’m not being hyperbolic. Most of these guys know so little about the game they cover that it’s shocking. They don’t know the rules of the game. They certainly don’t understand the theory. They have zero ability for independent thinking. What they do is mindlessly repeat platitudes that have been repeated so often that they’ve become conventional wisdom whether they make sense or not.

Indeed, anyone can have a great time picking these apart. Here’s a recent example: there is conventional wisdom that players who aren’t drafted early are better off because they go to better teams. This makes sense generally as the draft occurs in order of the teams’ performance during the prior year. Ergo, the worst teams go first and the best last. Thus, being picked later means you should go to a better team.

But here’s the problem. Johnny Manziel was expected to be picked in the first four picks, most likely by Cleveland. He was instead picked with the 22nd pick. Immediately, a large number of journalists trotted out the idea that he got to a better team because he got picked 22nd... even though he was picked by Cleveland, who was picking 4th and just happened to get their hands on the 22nd pick. In other words, this conventional wisdom is nonsense and none of them realized that.

Now, some of the brighter journos did figure this out and they tried to apply a different conventional wisdom: there is less pressure on quarterbacks taken in later rounds because no one expects them to be any good. So they said Manziel will benefit from this. Only, everyone expected him to go in the first four picks, so the same pressure will be on him in Cleveland. Once again, the conventional wisdom simply can’t apply, but the journalists aren’t smart enough to realize that and they don’t know how else to analyze the news.

There are a million examples I could give you where the garbage spewed by the analysts flies in the face of logic, reality or even the rules of the game, yet they all keep repeating it in their echo chamber of fallacy.

The same thing is true throughout our political media. Time and again, I read articles that simply don’t grasp how our political system works, what the facts are on the ground, or what logic and history suggest will happen. It’s shocking to see how flat-out wrong these people are time and again, and yet they keep repeating their provably false ideas over and over as others around them adopt them without thinking.

We live in sad times in that I honestly need to declare that the media is not only worthless, they have become a massive unintentional misinformation machine.

It’s Useless, So Why Can’t I Stop?: One of the stranger aspects of modern journalism is that they keep doing things that they themselves admit are nonsense. A case in point are sports journalists who turn out Mock Drafts. It is the rare mock draft that gets more than five or six picks right out of thirty and everyone now admits that these things are essentially worthless. Nevertheless, almost every single sports journalist turns out at least one of these.

The same is true in the political world with things like polls. So many journalists rely on things like polls even though the polls have proven that none of them will be close to correct. Even worse, we know that polls taken more than a few days before the election itself are even more worthless. Nevertheless, these journalists just can’t stop themselves.

An interesting side note of this is the return of “Independents.” In 2012, we learned that one of the reasons polls were wrong was that “Independents” aren’t really independent. They are Republican-leaning groups who lean toward third-party candidates like libertarians. This is why all those polls showing Republicans and Independents voting for Romney didn’t add up to a win. You would think everyone would be on to this and would now sample both “Independents” and “Moderates,” who are the Democratic equivalent of “Independents.” But no one has and all the people who rely on polls are back to counting “Independents” as if they mean something... nothing learned.

Poison Relationships: The relationship between the NFL and the NFL players association is apparently so poisonous that they can’t even agree to implement things they both want. Indeed, before either side will agree to anything (even something they want) they must hold the other side up for something in return and they want to drag the other side through the media mud. This is the same world the Democrats and Republicans find themselves in at this point.

Interestingly though, for the NFL this hasn’t been a problem. I would suggest several reasons for this. First, the NFL ultimately is about money and neither side will do anything to slow the cash cow. Secondly, the NFL is structured to let the owners push their will through subject ultimately only to a strike. This second point could be similar to ruling by Executive Order, except that the President’s power really is too limited to do that effectively... and Obama doesn’t know how to use it.

The first point is more interesting. The first point suggest that we need to find a way to align Congress with the success of the country. Maybe we should limit the budget to economic growth to give them an incentive to make the country as rich as possible.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Pointless Open Thread - "All The World's A Stage..."

Maybe the rest of you do not have the pleasure of using public transportation on a daily basis. You don't know what you are missing. If you do, you will understand what I mean. Now, I have spent the better part of my adult life negotiating around "the huddled masses yearning" to just get from Point A to Point B with the least amount of interaction with my fellow man. It has only been in the last few years that I have had to suffer the indignity of using "the subway" to get there. But to be perfectly honest, I found it can be very entertaining. You would be amazed at what you can overhear, if you just put the smartphone or IPad aside and listen in on conversations.

Yes, I admit, I love to listen in on conversations. It is like that line from Shakespeare "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players..." I credit my years in the theatre for my love of listening. And sometimes you can hear the most amazing and absurd things. Things that can cause you to ponder questions that you never thought you would ever want to ponder.

Just the other day I was staring into space lost in my own thoughts about why I will have to pay 247% more for my employer-supplied health insurance that I was promised I wouldn't have to pay when I heard a woman exclaim "...and that's how they save gefilte fish!" My ears perked up! My first reaction was "Why? Why would someone need to do that? We could have been saved, but someone had to save it!" For those of you who have been to a traditional Passover Seder, you may understand. For those of you who have not, let's just say that the gefilte fish course of a traditional Passover seder is truly something to be missed. [Sorry, God, but haven't Jews suffered enough?] After my initial thought, I couldn't stop laughing. Frankly, I have been laughing for days now. I haven't been able to get it out of my head and I really wish that I could have heard the rest of that conversation.

Yeah, my health insurance is going up 247%, but that is beside the point. The point is that sometimes life can be wonderfully absurd if we just listen. But now all I can think about is why? No, not why my insurance is going up 247%, but why gefilte fish had to be saved? I think I will use it as a tagline for every conversation. So, if you have something to talk about today, the floor is open. If not, well, "that's how they save gefilte fish" should get you started!
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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Open Thread... Open Thread...

Bring out your Open Thread... No post tonight folks.

By the way, did you hear that only 7% of reporters are Republicans? Why am I not surprised. They claim it doesn't matter, that there is no bias, but do you think they would buy that if we were talking vast under-representation of blacks or women or some other protected minority? What about 7% of liberals? Somehow, I doubt anyone on the left would believe there was no bias.
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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Reel 'merikans v. the BLM (Round 2)

The reel ‘merikans™ who defended Clive “Black People Should Be Slaves” Bundy from the oppressive BLM are back in their never-ending war against BLM oppression. This time, they think they found it in Utah. Of course, they are full of crap. Observe.

This time the stage moves to Utah, where around 200 reel ‘merikans™ are protesting “government overreach” by the BLM in Blanding, Utah – many of these people came directly from Bundy’s ranch. What vile deed has the BLM done this time? Well, they closed a canyon near Blanding to ATV traffic. Yep. They closed a canyon to ATV traffic!... that's worse than Hitler! I can barely type the words I’m so angry.

To protest this, these reel ‘merikans™ rode 50 ATVs through the canyon on Saturday, and many of them came dressed in camouflage gear and carried firearms. Take that Uncle Stalin!!

Not surprisingly, BLM did not try to stop them, because the “oppressive” government tries to avoid bloodshed as a matter of policy. Instead, BLM sent representatives who took photos and gathered evidence for future prosecutions.

So who is in the right? Not even close: BLM.

For starters, BLM owns the land, so they are in the right – as long as they comply with the law and their regulations, they have the right to manage the land in any way needed to fulfill their mission, and that includes restricting its use. And there simply is no right to force your way onto public land for recreational purposes. There isn’t even the argument this time, specious though it was with Bundy, that the whiner relied upon being able to illegally use the federal land to remain solvent.

Secondly, BLM closed the land seven years ago, so this isn’t exactly a new or pressing issue. And the only reason this has become an issue now is because these reel ‘merikans™ are looking for ways to fight with BLM.

Third, right next to this closed canyon are 2,800 MILES of open trails on public lands for all to use... including the reel ‘merikans™. So think about that. The “oppression” of which they complain is that they were denied the use of this one canyon when they could have chosen from 2,800 miles of other trails.

Finally, BLM didn’t close this canyon just to mess with reel ‘merikans™. Hardly. They closed it when archeologists discovered the remains of an ancient Indian settlement so they could protect the artifacts and dwellings of these Ancestral Puebloans. That’s a pretty good reason to close one canyon when you leave 2,800 miles of other trails open.

This is the problem with the fringe: they are people without a sense of judgment who cannot discern good causes from bad. And if you bought into their crap because you thought they had a point in the Bundy standoff a few weeks back, well, now you are busy explaining why the government is oppressive for trying to stop these people from destroying an archeological sight with ATVs. That's what you get for siding with the fringe. And good luck explaining this to them because they won’t even see how you can draw a distinction between this and Bundy... or Hitler.
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Monday, May 12, 2014

Some NFL Thoughts

Some thoughts on the NFL draft.... The NFL just held its draft last weekend to MASSIVE ratings.

A Brilliant Event: The NFL draft is utterly brilliant. This one event allows fans of teams who have stunk since the Civil War to believe that their team finally has a chance to win the Super Bowl. Why do fans believe that? Because the NFL sells these college athletes as “the missing pieces.” They sell them as guys who can join a team of misfits and completely make that team into something they have never been. And to help sell this myth, they talk about guys like Tom Brady being found in the 6th round and how Brady lifted the sad-sack Patriots to Super Bowl glory.

Of course, this is all marketing. The vast majority of rookies wash out. Even with first round picks, many will never be more than a backup and more than half won’t make it to a second contract. Moreover, you’re really only talking about a couple guys being added to a roster of 53 players. As impactful as they might be, one or two rookies alone can’t improve an entire team.

Further, with regard to these late round gems, that’s a real myth. You can count on one hand the number of great players found in the later rounds in the last twenty drafts. Indeed, that’s why they always mention Brady, because he’s one of the few obvious examples. By the way, with regard to Brady, there is a bit of a myth to this. Brady didn’t life the Patriots to Super Bowl contenders, they already were when Bledsoe got hurt. So Tom took over an excellent team. Had he gone to Cleveland, he would be forgotten by now most likely.

Anyway, the draft is sold to fans on the same principle as the lottery: you could be the long shot, but they do just enough to hide this fact and to give everyone hope that this year will be different. And NFL fans buy into this BIG time! It really is brilliant.

The New Civil Rights Movement Cancelled: For months now, the sports journalism world has been obsessively pushing the idea of the NFL’s first gay athlete. The reason is actually quite simple. Most sports journalists got to where they are by writing books or papers on the integration of various sports, and these armchair civil rights warriors want to see themselves leading the charge, so they have been casting about for a long time now for anything they can latch onto as their Selma.

Well, they think they found it in gay athletes and for months now they’ve been pushing this idea that they were going to shine a light on these evil homophobic white, male owners and force them to finally breakdown the rainbow curtain that has kept gay athletes from joining the ranks in the NFL. Only it didn’t work that way.

See, it turns out that those evil white owners have no problems with hiring gays. And those evil white racist coaches apparently don’t have any problem with gay players either. And except for a few players (each of who has been black, mind you), the players have pretty said, “We don’t care.” The fans don’t seem to care either.

Indeed, it turns out that the only people who were sure that gays would never be accepted and that someone would need to send in the National Guard to integrate football were the journalists. So it’s been a real let down for them (almost a comic let down) to see them whine about equality only to learn that there have been gays in the NFL, to whine about homophobic owners only to learn that they have non-discrimination policies and have hired gay employees, to whine about players not accepting gays only to be met with a near universal “if he can play, then I don’t care what he does.” You can hear the air sputtering out of their self-righteous balloons.

Anyway, their last hope was that Michael Sam wouldn’t be drafted and they really played that up. They cautioned us not to expect too much, this is the homophobic NFL after all. They talked about needing to change the league, etc. etc.

Then he got drafted.

So much for their ability to re-enact the Civil Rights Movement and then write books about how THEY made it happen. I guess now they'll have to do their jobs instead.

As an aside, said player Michael Sam, is busy ruining the goodwill he developed by claiming he should have been drafted sooner. Given his limited skills, he should consider himself lucky he got drafted at all.
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Thursday, May 8, 2014

"The World Kept Turning When I Wasn't Paying Attention" Open Thread

I have been out of the loop for a few days and apparently, the world has been able to revolve without me paying attention. Shocking, I know, right? What has been going on?

1. The Supreme Court issued a decision that a city council meeting in a predominantly Christian towns with predominantly Christian inhabitants were free to have predominantly Christian prayers before each meeting if they choose. This was all came about because in Greece, New York, someone got in a snit about the predominately Christian prayers being said at this predominantly Christian town's public guessed it...where they were having predominantly Christian prayers before each city council meeting. This someone actually kept count. Interestingly, when this was brought up to the Greece city council before 2008, the Greece city council said "Hey, you know, we never thought of that. You are right. So from now on, if anyone not Christian wants to provide a prayer or whatever that is non-Christian, let us know. We will be happy to oblige!" Apparently not enough non-Christians took them up on this offer, so the snit continued all the way to the Supreme Court who ruled that it was okay since no one was forced to participate. The usual suspects on the Supreme Court disagreed stating that if it makes someone uncomfortable, it shouldn't be allowed. And anyway, because they are the minority, they are just and right ones, but the majority are all Catholic, so they win. Why is it that no one complains when a predominantly non-Christian town does predominantly non-Christian stuff? Oh, wait they do. Predominantly Orthodox Jewish businesses in predominantly Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in New York City have been cited with local "human rights" violations for posting signs in predominantly Orthodox Jewish businesses admonishing their potential patrons to wear modest clothes when doing business with them. Not that they have ever been accused of refusing service to anyone at anytime, but only that they posts sign that pretty much say "No shirts, no shoes, no service"...

2. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform voted on Wednesday to recommend that Lois Lerner be charged with "Contempt of Congress" and refer her to the Department of Justice for refusing to answer questions about what the IRS was doing when it singled out conservative groups for "extra scrutiny". And by "extra scrutiny" I mean, audits and requesting additional intrusive information from conservative groups applying for 501(c)4 status not required by any liberal groups applying for the same status. Oh, and emailing applications and other private information to a certain Democratic Congressperson's offices right before said Democratic Congressperson publicly accuse one conservative group of being conservative causing the business of the leader of one group to be investigated by OSHA, the IRS and other government agencies. I know...I know holding up applications for up to 2 years [some are still waiting] or siccing every known government agency on a private business just because the owners aren't of your political persuasion doesn't seem like much, but when the IRS all but admitted that it was doing it, questions must be answered in full view of the American people.

3. BENGHAZI, BENGHAZI, BENGHAZI!!! Really, what difference does it make now? [Where have I heard that before??] With the newest emails revealed, it appears that the Obama administration et al. probably knowingly deceive the public into believing that the obvious 9/11/2012 terrorist attack (clearly a terrorist attack to most normal sentient beings] that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others was not a planned attack at all, but “rooted in [an] Internet video” and not “a broader failure or policy”. Like say a policy failure that wanted everyone to believe that because Obama had taken Osama bin Laden out that Al Qaeda was on the run and no longer a global threat. When will politicians learn that the truth is always the better and easier road to take. Okay, I have to say this "Obama lied, people died"...there, I said it.

Okay, you know that drill. Discuss, don't discuss, change the subject...
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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Liberal Projection: The Politics of The Purge

The Purge is not a good film. It's totally derivative. It adds nothing original or compelling to the films it copies. And frankly, it just wasn't very interesting. What is interesting, however, is how it twists ideologies to present a false view of conservatism. Sadly, this is all too common with liberals, that they project their own worst traits onto conservatives.

Click Here To Read Article/Comments at CommentaramaFilms
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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

"Out-of-work Americans"

Here we go again. Do you remember when we debunked the 47% of Americans pay no taxes claim? SSDD. Drudge reported that 92,594,000 Americans “are not working!” This is a record apparently and the implication is that most of the country has gone onto welfare. That’s utterly false.

Here’s the thing... there are 310,000,000 Americans. Of those, about 84,630,000 million are under 20, meaning they are likely unemployed because they are children or students. Another 39,680,000 are over the age of 65 and should likely be retired. Combining those two groups gives you 124,310,000 million people who aren’t expected to work. Suddenly, the claim that 92,594,000 million Americans aren’t working doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Indeed, these numbers tell us that at least 31,716,000 people who probably shouldn’t be working are working.

So is the Drudge number meaningful? Nope. It’s meaningless because it’s too broad in that it doesn’t factor out those who won’t be working under any circumstances (like a 5 year old) and then it implies something that is false from the overall magnitude of the number: “Lots of people aren’t working!” Well yeah, but they aren’t expected to work, so what’s the problem? In any stable modern economy, about one of three persons will not be working because they are too, young, too old, or something else. In our case, the figure is a little less at 30%. So that's not really bad. In fact, the only way to reduce this number would be to put children to work or to go all Logan’s Run on your elders, and even our fringers can't be expecting that. Well, ok, but no one else would suggest such a thing.

So don't worry about this silly 94 million number.

Now, that’s not to say that the job market is very good. It’s not. According to official statistics, 9.8 million people are unemployed, another 7.5 million are underemployed in “forced” part-time jobs, and 783,000 workers have simply given up. That’s 18 million Americans who could be more productive if the economy was better. That's 18 million people who could be buying homes, buying consumer goods, paying taxes, and not draining benefits. That’s the real number to worry about, not this fake 92 million number. That’s the number that needs to be fixed... and Obama has no plan to fix it.

Unrelated Aside: As an aside, the headlines this weekend screamed about the Baby Boomers become "the roommate generation." Good grief. Reading three sentences into the article finds that the number of cohabiters aged 50 or older is 130,000 households... about 260,000 people. How many people are over 50? Not totally sure, honestly, but there are almost 40 million over 65. So the number is probably around 50 million. In any event, 260,000 out of 40 million people works out to... carry the one... 0.65%. Would you say that the actions of 0.65% of a group make them representative of that group? Apparently, our knee-jerk journalistic community does. "The roommate generation" indeed.
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Monday, May 5, 2014

De-paranoia-ing: China's GNP

Let’s do some de-paranoia-ing. I’m not sure if that’s a word, but it should be... de-paranoia-ing: To point out some obvious things the fearmongers kept hidden so they could scare people. Today's edition involves this ridiculous idea that China has overtaken our economy. Top of the World, Mong! Let's debunk.

Ok, riddle me this, when is 9.7 trillion larger than 16 trillion? Answer: When you want to scare people. You may have heard this weekend that China has "finally" overtaken the US in terms of GNP. Apparently, we’re all second class now... put a fork in us, we’re done. The problem is, this is a false claim. The US economy produces GNP of $16 trillion per year right now. The Chinese economy produces GNP of $9.7 trillion. See the problem? 9.7 is not greater than 16! So how can they claim that China’s economy is miraculously bigger than ours? By adding a fudge factor to China’s economy to convert the real $9.7 trillion figure into an imaginary $16+ trillion figure.

Sadly for them, this approach is ridiculous.

The fudge factor in question involves what they are claiming is an adjustment for the difference in cost of labor between the two countries. In other words, since Chinese labor is cheaper, China can buy more of it for the same amount of money. Thus, even though our GNP is bigger, we can’t buy as much stuff as the Chinese for it. Ergo, our economy is actually smaller.

Here’s the thing though, the $9.7 trillion v. $16 trillion already accounts for the difference in labor costs. And what the people advocating the fudge factor are ignoring is productivity. Consider this: a Chinese employee may demand a smaller wage, but that is because their labor isn’t as valuable as American labor. The principles of international trade assure us of this or ALL the jobs in the US would flee to China. Instead, only the lowest level American jobs left for China and that stopped about a decade ago as China became too expensive compared to America for more to leave.

Let me see if I can make this more clear. Between an American high school grad and a Chinese laborer, the Chinese laborer will be much cheaper to employ if I’m looking for someone to dig a ditch. It is this assumption which these “experts” are using to claim that China has this advantage which requires us to double their GNP because China can afford so many more ditch diggers than we can. Said differently, China can employ about two laborers to dig a ditch for the same price we would pay to an American. Ergo, China’s economy is really twice as strong as it appears because they get twice the bang for the buck that we do.

The problem is, that's wrong. This formula may work if you're purely talking about basic physical labor, but it definitely does not work once you move beyond that and the reason is productivity. Take the example of an engineer. A Chinese engineer may be paid two times less than an American engineer, but the American engineer is capable of turning out 10 times more and better work than the Chinese engineer. If that weren’t true, then engineering jobs would be racing to China, but they aren’t. The only jobs racing to China are unskilled labor jobs, and even those are now leaving China.

What this means is that when you look at building something, it actually takes 10 Chinese engineers to produce the same product as the American does. That may only cost 5 times more because of the cost of labor, but it still costs more. This is what the "China are beating us" advocates are missing. They are just looking at the wage difference without factoring in productivity. In fact, I could flip their argument around by ignoring price and looking only at productivity and then declare that our economy should be doubled in size and China's considered even smaller. But that wouldn't be right either because I would be ignoring the price difference.

So how do we compare price and productivity? Well, it turns out we already know the difference. The difference is captured in the exchange rate which gives us the GNP measures of $16 trillion v. $9.7 trillion.

Think about it. Our GNP and China’s GNP represent the value both countries were able to produce in the last year given the cost of labor, the cost of regulations and real estate and other inputs, and the offset for productivity. That’s what these numbers are: the total value each economy is capable of producing. And as productivity or costs change, the exchange rate fluctuates to reflect the lost value to the economy and the $16 and $9.7 trillion figures will shift accordingly. Trying to impose a half-assed adjustment on top of that only doubles up on a single adjustment that has already been factored in by the laws of economics. Hence, this idea is of adjusting China's GNP is simply false.

Moreover, the method they are advocating completely ignores the fact that the official exchange rate is what these countries will pay to buy foreign goods or services and what they will be paid to export their own. Thus, even if we accept that there is some logic to the idea of the fudge factor for local products (there isn’t), the fudge factor still needs to be ignored for anything the country does that involves other countries. In other words, even if costs are cheaper in China, that doesn’t get them a discount when they import an Audi nor does it get them a bonus when they export a television set. About 60% of China's economy is direct exports or imports, so you tell me if the advocates are right to dismiss this idea?

And on that point, consider this. To compare GNP from two countries, the only meaningful way to do it is to ask yourself what it would cost for some third party country to buy up everything they produced that year; to figure out what an arms-length buyer would spend to buy each. That gets you an objective value which you can then use to compare the two. That's the only way to make a straight up comparison, because it wipes out subjective valuations that may exist within a country but nowhere else. If you don't do that, then you aren't comparing anything real... it's like comparing the value of two family photos, which may be priceless to each family, but meaningless to everyone else. The exchange rates do this automatically. That's why you use them to make the comparison.

Finally, to prove to you just how silly this idea is of using this fudge factor, consider this: if we consider their argument valid, then the American economy would be better off if we closed all of our schools and disallowed anyone from working in an industry where they could demand a higher salary than anyone else off the street, i.e. if we converted all of our labor to unskilled labor. Then wages would crash and we would have the same “advantage” China has. Does that pass the sniff test? It shouldn’t. No one anywhere in the world thinks that degrading their workforce is a good idea. Hence, there is obviously something fundamentally wrong with the idea.

What this is, is an attempt to scaremonger you. They want you to believe that China is somehow better than we are, even though their GNP is stuck at about half of ours. Some Chinese miracle.
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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Another Rant About Sterling...

I am going to make this short and sweet. There is bigger issue that no one is really talking about in the midst of this whole "Don Sterling" affair. And, frankly, it is more chilling than his racist rants. Are we now to be held accountable for everything that we have ever voiced or or thought or said in our private moments?

Let's be clear here. Don Sterling was known in private to be exactly what he has been pilloried for in public. As Kareem Abdul Jabbar so eloquently wrote in, why was anyone surprised? He has been saying these exact things in private and in public for years, but everyone including the NAACP has been giving him awards (in 2008 and 2009) and a pass for years, and taking his money anyway. No one complained when he donated thousands of tickets for each game to the poor children of L.A. They took his money and his tickets and ignored his private moments. Until he was embroiled in a toxic matrimonial case and his girlfriend for whatever reason decided to manipulate him during 100 hours of tape, and make his racist rants public for her own gain. Think about that...100 hours of tape.

We are ALL guilty of saying things in private that we would never voice in public. That is why we say them in private to people that we think we can trust. There is not one person who can honestly claim that they have not said something in private that was incendiary, hurtful or damning, and that in the wrong hand, could ruin them. And with the proliferation of smartphone technology, no on is safe. This just erodes our trust in being able to be open and honest in our private moments. We all voice ideas and questions that we don't necessarily believe, but that we need to explore. If we can't voice them in private around people that we are supposed to trust, they will come out inappropriately in other more violent ways. We cannot stifle private thought otherwise we do not have a safe harbor to hear how wrong we can be and change our minds.

This extends to trust in our government. With the revelations that our internet musings and private phone calls are being warehoused by the NSA, how can we trust that someone may not use these to their advantage when they need or want to silence us? If you have never read "1984", I beg you to read it or re-read it if it has been awhile. George Orwell was only 30 years off, but he was frightening prescient in how our private moments can be so easily manipulated and used against us. How fitting that this is May Day...

As always, please feel free to disagree or change the subject.

P.S. Just because you should know - another NY elected official was arrested this week for doing wrong stuff. This time it's a Republican! More on that later...
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