May 22, 2013
Unknown Unknowns Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was famously mocked for saying:
There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.
He was talking about the "fog of war" at the time but today it is equally applicable to the "Fog of Washington."
Every day we learn something new about each story of corruption. New details have come to light about attempts to smear a fast & Furious whistle blower, new details about Benghazi continue to surface, the scope of the Department of justice interference with journalists continues to expand, and every day there are new details about the IRS abuse of power and another story from the White House.
There are two plausible explanations for each of these controversies. Corruption or Incompetence. The position of the White House seems to be the incompetence defense. Which convinces me that there is more Unknown Unknown corruption.
May 20, 2013
The Good Old Days
Every so often a bit of text makes its way around the web about the things we did and survived as kids that aren't done or are illegal today. There are bunch of different versions but they all follow the same basic format. And for the most part they cover my childhood pretty well. No bike helmets, various daredevil stunts, drinking water from the hose and riding in the back of a pick-up.
Many of those things are experiences my children will never have. They are no longer legally available.
When you combine all of the little freedoms that have been regulated away in the name of keeping us safe from ourselves with all of the big assaults on liberty like: the Patriot Act; the bank bailouts; the federal takeover of healthcare; the use of the IRS as a political enforcement machine; telling manufacturers where they can and cannot manufacture their products; and Department of Justice seeking to silence news reporting, the general trend does not look good.
Hope and optimism are not automatic - unless the hope you have is a vague and undefined campaign slogan. They require that no matter how grim things seem, you look for the bright spot and once you find it you grab it and hold on tight.
The bright spots are getting harder and harder to find.
When I think about what the federal government has become over the last 20 years patriotism starts to feel like the nostalgia Ronald Reagan had in mind when he said "...you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children's children, what it once was like in America when men were free."
May 19, 2013
The Nature of Irrelevancy The White House sent the designated talking points reader of the week, senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer, out to do the round of the Sunday news talk shows. Pfeiffer's assigned task was to spout the approved endless stream of lies obfuscation and pure BS.
Pfeiffer's word of the day was "irrelevant."
He told one interviewer that it was irrelevant if the IRS broke the law by targeting groups based on ideology. That the White House believes breaking the law is irrelevant, tells you basically everything you need to know about this administration.
On another show, Pfeiffer said that where the President was and what he was doing during the September 11, 2012 attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi is "an irrelevant fact." He also said that the name of the person who crafted the bogus talking points used by the White House following that attack that resulted in the deaths of four Americans including our ambassador to Libya is, you guessed it, "irrelevant."
For a fact to be irrelevant, it means that is has importance. It just doesn't matter. It is a fact that has no impact on the issue at hand.
If the President's whereabouts and actions during the Benghazi attack are meaningless and unimportant trivia: and if the author of the You Tube video talking points is meaning less and unimportant, why not just answer the questions?
If these facts are truly without relevance why is the White House trying so hard to hide them?
April 13, 2013
An Unreasonable Idea I keep expecting (perhaps hoping is a better word?) than one day we will find the collectivist authoritarian idea that is too much for even Barack Obama. His latest assault on individual liberty is buried in the joke he delivered to the Congress under the title, "Budget." It is really just an expansion on the ideas he espoused in 2010:
We’re not, we’re not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that’s fairly earned. I mean, I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.
This time his concern is not that you may have made too much money, but that you might actually save too much of it for the future. So he is proposing putting a cap on how much individuals would be allowed to save for retirement.
The White House explanation is that some people have accumulated "substantially more than is needed to fund reasonable levels of retirement saving." So Mr. Obama proposes to "limit an individual's total balance across tax-preferred accounts to an amount sufficient to finance an annuity of not more than $205,000 per year in retirement, or about $3 million for someone retiring in 2013."
How nice of The One to volunteer to dictate what is "reasonable" and "sufficient."
If he keeps thinking that he and the federal government have the authority to dictate what is "sufficient" for the rest of us he is going to have to learn the difference between reasonable and unreasonable the hard way.
March 20, 2013
It Can Happen Here One of the constant refrains running through commentary on the plan to seize a portion of bank deposits in Cyprus is that it can't happen here. This is America and we just don't do thinks like that.
California's top-end taxpayers -- already steamed over a recent hike in the nation's highest state income tax -- are now fuming over a new $120 million retroactive tax grab on small business owners.
In December, the state's tax authority determined that a tax break claimed over the past few years by 2,500 entrepreneurs and stockholders of California-based small businesses is no longer valid and sent out notices of payment.
These businesses took a perfectly legal tax write-off. In essence they put money in the bank. Now the state of California is going to exprpriate that money.
This is Cyprus via a slightly different mechanism. It can happen here. It is happening here.
March 19, 2013
CSI Washington D.C. The political chattering class is buzzing over the recently released GOP report on what they think they need to do to stop sucking so much. Some are even questioning why the GOP itself is calling the report an autopsy. I have a few possible answers.
It would be most beneficial if it was a post-mortem examination of their now dead conservative principles. Maybe they could find out who killed them and hold them accountable?
I am sure that any thorough forensic examination will reveal that the cause of death will be the removal of the establishment GOP's spine. Which was made possible by the voluntary surrender of their testicles.
If the evidence doesn't indict as accessories John "I trust Obama completely" Boehner and John "if you defend the Constitution you're a Wacko-Bird" McCain then you know the fix is in (and nothing will be fixed).
March 12, 2013
Sweet Sweet Corruption There is noting so sweet as to work in an industry where the Federal Government will bend over backwards to make sure you succeed. As long as you keep donating to their campaigns.
The U.S. Sugar industry is propped up with huge tariffs that keep out any imported sugar. But even with that, they still struggle. But they don't have to struggle too hard.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture gave loans to sugar producers. I don't have the details but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the terms were far better than anything they could have gotten on the open market. If they could even get a loan on the open market.
Despite the heavy handed protectionism not everything is going sweetly
Domestic sugar prices have been trading at about 20 cents a pound, their lowest level in nearly four years, putting companies that make sugar from cane or beets at risk of defaulting on loans they received from the USDA when prices were higher.
But not cry for the sugar industry. The government is coming to their rescue.
The USDA plans to by as much as 400,000 TONS of sugar on the open market so that sugar producers can afford to pay back their loans to the USDA.
What does the USDA plan to do with 400,000 tons of sugar? Sell it to ethanol producers who really don't want it.
But U.S. ethanol producers don't have much use for the sugar. Most use corn as a feedstock, and while plants can include some sugar in the mix, renewable-fuel makers earn extra money from the byproducts of corn ethanol production.
How are they going to get ethanol producers to buy the sugar they really don't want? Since there is no Affordable Sugar Act mandating that they buy or pay a tax/fine to the IRS, the USDA is going to sell it to them cheap. They will the sugar they bought at $.20 a pound for $.10 a pound.
Sugar producers make money. The USDA collects it's loan payments. Ethanol producers get cheap feedstock. Everybody wins!!!!
Except the taxpayers who have to fund the loss on the sugar sale. And anyone who buys sugar or anything that contains sugar as they will continue to pay artificially high prices.
Missing the Point Living in the greater NewYork area, I've been able to read and hear a great deal of commentary and debate about the Bloomberg Soda Ban. What I find more annoying than a petty left-wing tyrant wannabe trying to control his subjects lives, is the utter failure of virtually everyone on the other side if the issue to make the counter arguments that need to be made.
The primary argument from those in support of this affront on individual liberty is that it needs to be done to reduce the healthcare costs to society. Of course by "society" they mean the government.
There are two counter arguments that should be made to this assertion. The first is cheap easy and fun. Mayor Bloomberg was recently quoted as saying:
When it comes to the United States federal government, people do seem willing to lend us an infinite amount of money.
If we can borrow an infinite supply of money, why do we need to worry about the cost of healthcare?
The second far more serious and necessary counter argument is to ask the question why? Why is the cost of an individual's healthcare government's problem? Why are someone else's poor dietary choices my problem? Why should I pay any price either financial or in loss of liberty for the personal individual decisions of people I do not know and do not chose to support?
Government's involvement in providing, paying for and subsidizing health care are ultimately means of control. The Bloomberg soda ban is just the one of the more egregious examples.
Bloomberg was stopped for now but he and those like him who believe they know better how to live our lives and are willing to use force to make us obey, will be back to try again.
March 11, 2013
You Want Fries With That? Hoist a big gulp in celebration of a small victory for individual liberty.
The asinine soda regulations put in place by the asshole Mayor of New York City have been given a firm kick in the ass by a New York judge.
As reported in the Wall Street Journal:
The city is "enjoined and permanently restrained from implementing or enforcing the new regulations,” New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling decided Monday.
The regulations are "fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences,” the judge wrote. "The simple reading of the rule leads to the earlier acknowledged uneven enforcement even within a particular city block, much less the city as a whole….the loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the state purpose of the rule.”
Mayor Bloomberg, being the asshole that he is, plans to appeal.
March 09, 2013
No Comment I don't know if anyone has noticed, and based on the rather pathetic levels of site traffic, the possibility is slim, but a few weeks ago I grew tired enough of deleting large batches of SPAM that I disabled comments altogether.
Since that time mu.nu has made some improvements to its spam filters, so I turned them back on.
If anyone notices.
February 18, 2013
You Say You Want A Revolution I have become something of a slow reader of books. It can take me a month or two to get through a book that in my younger days I would have burned through in a few days. What has happened it that I simply lack the time to just sit and read. Thanks to iBooks and the Kindle app on my phone I read in stolen moments. Sitting in a waiting room, standing in line at the grocery store, waiting for the stragglers to get to a meeting, and of course sitting on the toilet. I am often reminded of a bit of dialog from The Big Chill (from memory)
"You can read War and Peace in the bathroom."
"Yes. But not in one sitting."
For the last several weeks I have been nibbling my through Free Market Revolution by Yaron Brook and Don Watkins. It's an excellent book and a wonderful refresher on the principles of the free market and the individual vs the collective. Their deconstruction of the entitlement state is clear, concise and brilliant. As I read through it I found myself trying to capture the message of the entire book in a brief statement that did not sound like a mediocre paraphrase of the oath from Atlas Shrugged:
I swear by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.
The best I could come up with is "What I have earned by the application of my abilities is not yours to take on the basis of your need."
Brook and Watkins provided a more thorough summation with this quote from Dean Alfange:
I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon—if I can. I seek opportunity—not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole. . . . I will not trade freedom for beneficence nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid; to think and act for myself, enjoy the benefit of my creations, and to face the world boldly and say, this I have done. This is what it means to be an American.
If you believe that individual liberty and free market capitalism are the best and proper principles to guide mankind, read Free Market Revolution. You will find in it's pages a wealth of intellectual ammunition with which to confront the culture of need.
If you believe that one person's need gives them a claim on the lives of others and that the state should take care of all, please read Free Market Revolution. If you do so with an open mind you might learn something, and the might be some hope for you yet.
February 02, 2013
You'll Shoot You're Eye Out The White House posted this pic of The One "skeet shooting."
They also said:
The photograph may not be manipulated in any way.
Don't they understand I have a problem with authority?
It's Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!.
December 26, 2012
The Show Must Go On
As the President dramatically rushes home early from his vacation in Hawaii to meet with members of Congress to solve the Fiscal Cliff Financial Crisis remember this: Congress - both sides of the political aisle - and the White House created the Fiscal Cliff on purpose.
As each side tries to manipulate the situation the so that the blame falls on the other party, do forget that THEY ALL DID THIS TOGETHER. This mess is a bi-partisan creation.
If they manage to come with some sort of even semi-effective solution (and really what the chances of that happening?) neither side should get any credit for fixing a problem that is result of their own incompetence.
Are any the 537 people holding elected office in DC right now worthy of their positions?
December 24, 2012
I Don't Understand the Left in this Country National Rifle Association CEO Wayne La Pierre gave a press conference outlining the organization's response to the slaughter committed in Sandy Hook Elementary School. Some of what he said was so common sense that the only criticism should be why are you standing there stating the obvious:
How have our nation’s priorities gotten so far out of order? Think about it. We care about our money, so we protect our banks with armed guards. American airports, office buildings, power plants, courthouses--even sports stadiums--are all protected by armed security. We care about the President, so we protect him with armed Secret Service agents. Members of Congress work in offices surrounded by armed Capitol Police officers.
Yet when it comes to the most beloved, innocent and vulnerable members of the American family--our children--we as a society leave them utterly defenseless, and the monsters and predators of this world know it and exploit it.
The NRA proposed a solution of putting armed security in schools. La Pierre highlighted the organization's expertise in this area and said the NRA would provide that expetise and training for free.
The left, predictably, was outraged.
Chicago Mayor and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who governs the city with the most restrictive gun laws in the nation and goes nowhere without armed security, captured the essence of what passes for thinking on the left:
It’s outrageous and unsettling that the NRA would choose to address gun violence not by taking assault weapons off our streets, but by adding more guns to our schools.
Sandy Hook Elementary School was a building full of small children leaning to read, spell and add. It was a gun free zone until, despite the law, one person added guns.
What if one member of the staff was armed? What if that member of the staff put a bullet in the murder's head before the first child was killed. What if that bullet only stopped the last child from being slaughtered?
What if the sick deranged individual knew that there was good chance some of the staff might be armed and that he might not be able to end his life by sending a big F U to the world? What if, lacking an easy target, he chose to sit alone in his basement and eat a bullet?
When Rham Emanuel proposes making Chicago City Hall and the mayor's office a gun free zone I'll consider taking him seriously. When the President and Congress pass laws making the Congress and the White House gun free zones I'll start to consider that this something more than not letting a crisis go to waste and an another assault on the Constitution.
December 15, 2012
Understanding Evil Newtown, CT and the Sandy Hook Elementary school are about 20 miles from my home. I know people that live there, though none of them have children young enough to be at that school. I don't know that this proximity does anything to change the nature of the horror. It certainly does nothing to help with understanding.
I am a person who approaches the world with reason and logic. I look at something like this and my first need is to try to understand the why. Maybe it's just because the what is too horrific to think about. I'm not sure I will ever be able to gain that understanding of why because the answer lies somewhere outside of reason and logic.
The news media, as is usually the case, was utterly deplorable. I suppose I should thank them for that. Being able to be angry at them helped diffuse some of the anguish. Aside from the endless incorrect speculation and reporting of rumors, I heard numerous reporters from a number of different outlets commenting that they were being "kept far away" from the fire station next to the school where the parents of the victims were. If they truly had to be kept away from parents who just learned that their kindergarten child had been murdered, if their impulse was truly to put a camera and a microphone in the face of these people at that moment then they are as inhuman as the gunman lying dead in that school.
As for the killer, the bullet he ate was far far less than that despicable piece of human trash deserved. But in the end there is nothing that could have been done to him that would have equalled justice.
NOTE: I removed a video link because it was not possible to turn off the auto-play
The speed with which the discussion of this tragedy became political is a pretty sad testimony as well. Immediately people were pointing to this as a reason for greater gun control because it is too easy for a mentally deranged person to get access to guns. No one seems to be asking why someone so sick and twisted as to be capable of this act was walking the streets to begin with.
The question we should all be asking and demanding an answer to is why didn't someone shoot him before he had a chance to slaughter a classroom full of five-year-olds?
UPDATE: CT State Police have had to assign officers to keep reporters away from victims families. These people are scum sucking assholes.
NOTE: I removed a video link from this post because I could not remove the embedded advertising and could not turn off the autoplay.
December 03, 2012
On the Head of a Pin We're going over a cliff.
One way or the other. With a deal or without a deal. It's not going to end well.
The Democrats and the Republicans are currently arguing over if they should raise revenue for the federal government by raising tax rates or cutting deductions. The Republicans are adamantly opposed to to raising the tax rates. The Democrats are opposed to cutting deductions. Both sides are motivated by the fact that they think their method helps them and hurts the other side politically.
But in reality… it just doesn't matter.
If my federal income tax bill goes up by $200 or $1,000 or any number in between, it doesn't matter if it went up because they raised the rate or reduced a deduction.
Which makes Obama's remarks that the GOP plan could impact the mortgage interest deduction particularly obnoxious. If you cut that deduction and keep the tax rates the same, my tax bill still goes up. The real negative impact is to the banks because mortgage interest becomes less attractive as a deduction. Go take a look at where the big banks put the bulk of their campaign donations and you will see why Democrats want to protect that write-off
The White House and Congressional Republicans will continue to debate how many tax dollars they can fit on the head of a pin. Eventually, just before time runs out, they will reach a deal in which everyone's tax rate will go up a bit and everyone's deductions will be reduced a bit. And on April 15 the federal government will have taken more of the money I earned, to largely hand over to people who did not earn it.
Before you ask, no I do not make more than $250,000. But that doesn't matter. My tax bill is going up, and so is yours.
As for cutting spending? Forget about it. It's not really part of the show.
October 17, 2012
Questions and Answers I watched a good deal of the debate last night ( I kind of forgot it was on so I missed the first 30 minutes ) and was everything I expected. And my expectations were not all that high.
There was, toward the end, one question the answers to which revealed everything you need to know to make up your mind about the candidates. They were asked what they would do to encourage employers to bring back jobs that had been moved overseas.
Romney's plan was to make doing business in America more appealing by making our business taxes more competitive and the regulatory burden less burdensome.
Obama's plan was to make it more difficult for a company to move operations overseas by increasing regulation and manipulating the tax laws to make it more costly.
Romney: make America better.
Obama: make leaving just as bad as staying.
The only time I felt compelled to shout obscenities at the television (the only time the compulsion was so strong I couldn't overcome it) was when Obama said everyone should be paying their fair share (i.e. tax the rich more) because everyone should be playing by the same rules. IN THE SAME SENTENCE!
My question is, is he really as stupid as he thinks we are?
October 04, 2012
Thoughts on the the Debate I watched the Great Debate last night. By watch I mean it was on the TV in my office while I was working.
My first thought was that is didn't matter who was talking only that I was driven to tell the voice on the TV to just SHUT UP.
My Second thought was that if they paid Jim Lerher more than $5.95 to be a moderator they probably overpaid.
Third thought. The One is about as good as debating as he is at being president.
I didn't think Romney was objectively fantastic but by comparison he was a debating god.
The bottom line on the debate is that Romney kicked Obama's ass. For that, the debate was enjoyable.
Sadly though, we face yet another presidential election in which there is no one running that I actually want to be president. I prefer Romney over Obama. But then I would vote for my dog over Obama.
September 15, 2012
With All Due Respect The headline above is the customary preamble one uses when they are are about to be critical of someone in a higher position. It's how you ease into criticism of your boss. It's a shield you throw up in hopes that it will protect you from the fallout from what you are about to say.
It is, in my opinion, a clever shield because I believe that respect is something an individual has to earn. The phrase for me typically means, "you have earned my general respect, but in this instance I disagree with you."
There are also a lot of cases in which one can have respect for the position a person holds, but have little or no respect for the person holding it. You may have no respect for the person who is your boss, but you respect the position of "boss" to the extent that for as long as you can tolerate it you do what the "boss" tells you.
This is never more true than with the office of President of the United States. I have great respect for the office of President of the United States both for it's authority and for its lack of authority. The presidency is a powerful position in American governance, but it is not all powerful. I respect that the authority of the president arises from the office and not the office holder. We elect a president, not a king. And it's a temp job.
I give office of President of the United States all the respect it is due.
I also give the office holder all the respect due. That is all of the respect they earn as individuals and leaders. In the case of the current office holder, "all due respect" amounts to exactly zero.
The full litany of affronts to liberty stemming from his core collectivist beliefs is exhausting to contemplate. The cronyism of his economic policies and the fecklessness of his foreign policies are maddening.
When a representative of his administration, facing angry protests, apologized internationally for "abuse of free speech" it was a statement that perfectly encapsulated Obama's view of America on the world stage.
When a U.S. ambassador was murdered, his response was a tepid statement and a trip to Vegas for a campaign fundraiser.
Here is the full measure of my respect for the current occupant of the office of President of the United States. He is a moronic, malignant, narcissist who is uselessly spineless on the international stage. He is an authoritarian, economically ignorant socialist on the domestic stage.
In short, the man is an asshole. And that is all the respect he is due.
August 13, 2012
The Vision Thing Today President Obama spoke welcoming Paul Ryan to the presidential race. If you've been under a rock for the last few days Ryan was selected by Mitt Romney to be his running mate.
The One had this to say:
"He is a decent man, he is a family man, he is an articulate spokesman for Governor Romney’s vision but it is a vision that I fundamentally disagree with.”
Over the weekend I watch recordings of several Romney and Ryan speeches. Together they outlined a vision based on the founding principles of the country. Citing often the language of the Declaration of Independence:
that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
The repeatedly noted that our rights do not come from government, but that government exists to protect our rights. They stressed the importance of individual liberty and individual responsibility and individual success.
They outlined a vision of a resurgent, strong, successful America.
When Obama says this is a vision he fundamentally disagrees with, the clear evidence of his policies indicates he may actually be speaking the truth.
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