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Archive for January, 2009


George Will Sums Up The Bush Presidency

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

His thoughts mirror my own:

By grafting a prescription-drug entitlement on to Medicare, just as the demographic deluge of the baby boomers’ retirements was beginning, the president expanded the welfare state more than any president since Lyndon Johnson created Medicare in 1965. By signing every grotesque spending measure that arrived on his desk with the support of a majority of congressional Republicans—e.g., the 2002 farm bill that increased corporate welfare for agriculture at a time of record farm profits —the president committed his party to a situational ethic of governance that amounts to no ethic at all. By signing the McCain-Feingold speech-rationing (a.k.a. “campaign reform”) legislation, the president violated his oath to defend the Constitution. By federalizing the family tragedy of Terri Schiavo, the president and some congressional allies made risible their stock of rhetoric in praise of limited government. By enacting the No Child Left Behind law, which is the thin end of a potentially enormous wedge, the administration licensed potentially unlimited federal supervision of the quintessentially local responsibility of education in grades K through 12, thereby further weakening federalism. And by presiding, in its last four months, over more and more flamboyant government intervention in the economy than at any time in 75 years, the administration completed the GOP’s intellectual disarmament.

Read George Will.



Thursday, January 15th, 2009

I was thinking about this post by Sully on the train today, where a liberal writes in expressing surprise that those on the right should be surprised by Obama dining with Bill Kristol and others on the “right”. Operative quote:

In other words, liberals are liberal, open, willing to consider change. Why are you guys on the right so surprised?

This notion is laughable. The real mark of magnanimity is showing it when one loses, not when one wins. And by that measure, the left has been decidedly ungracious and non-magnanimous these last eight years. You are not what you think of yourself, rather you are the sum of your behaviors. By that measure, modern liberals are some of the least gracious and non-magnanimous people on the planet.

It is not surprising to see Obama be gracious to “conservatives”. It is also not surprising to see liberals crowing about how well that reflects on them.

Previously: Take me to lunch.



Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Electoral theft bothers me, which is why I’ve been dwelling on this race. According to Bush vs. Gore, all precincts must account for all ballots using uniform standards, which has not been occurring in Minnesota. Therefore, according to Michael Stokes Paulsen, the recount is plainly unconstitutional:

the Minnesota recount is a legal train wreck. The result, a narrow Franken lead, is plainly invalid. Just as in Bush v. Gore, the recount has involved “unequal evaluation of ballots in several respect” and failed to provide “minimal procedural safeguards” of equal treatment of all ballots. Legally, it does not matter which candidate benefited from all these differences in treatment. (Mr. Franken did.) The different treatment makes the results not only unreliable (and suspicious), but unconstitutional.

I still expect Franken to take the seat. The Republicans don’t have the wherewithal to continue to fight this.

Read Michael Stokes Paulsen.

You know, one more thing. The one thing that always endeared Coleman to me was that he admitted to engaging in file sharing with his kids, and said that the hysteria over it seemed way overblown. He is, to the best of my knowledge, the only Senator to have said such a thing about our current system of copyright. That makes him something of a treasure in the Senate. To see him replaced with someone who is himself the product of the entertainment industry is tragic in the extreme.


Harper or Calderon?

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Who will Obama greet as his first foreign dignitary? Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper or Mexican President Felipe Calderon?

These things matter to Canadians


Wikipedia Vandalism

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Once in a while Wikipedia vandalism is too funny to want to correct:

Canadian Backlash
In January 2009, General Mills were attacked over the content of their packing design. The illustrations, which feature what appear to be accurate depictions of different natioalities, showed a toothless Canadian boy who whilst clearly enjoying himself was shown to be severely handicapped both mentally and physically. CAN’OTARD, (Canadian Organisation of the Toothless and Retarded Deformees) were among the first to backlash against the campaign, immediately staging a boycott that stopped its members eating the cereal altogether. Unexpectedly, the boycott led to a massive slump in sales of Cap’n Crunch across Canada that ultimately dented General Mills growth during the first quarter of 2009. In a statement issued on January 11th, Ken Powell (CEO General Mills) said, “well maybe they shouldn’t be eating cereal anyways. They’re… you know, toothless and retarted.”

Read more about Capt’n Crunch.


Haley Barbour Gets It Wrong

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Former RNC Chair and current Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour gets it COMPLETELY wrong:

Now the problem may be deeper: “Right now a lot of people that have voted for us repeatedly are not so sure about free-market capitalism. They’re scared. They don’t know if they’re going to have to work until they’re 80, they don’t know if they’re going to send their children to college, they don’t know if they’re going to lose their business or job.” So he fears that “right now the only answer they know is government. The only place they know to turn that can help them is government.”

No, the problem is that a lot of people who have voted for you repeatedly no longer believe that the Republicans support free-market principles, and so they start voting candidates instead of party. Return to the free-market fiscal conservative roots, and those voters will return home.

Unfortunately, the above quote seems to imply the opposite (though Barbour says he’ll be a capitalist till the end).

Read more here.


How Embarrassing…

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

I’m an embarrassment to Barack!

I only scored 17 on the Obama Test

(via poor and stupid)


Predictions? Take The Bait

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

Just scanning around, I noticed I made some predictions last year for the coming new year. Mostly, I just took someone else’s multiple choices and gave my own answers. I guessed the Democratic ticket correctly, but got most everything else pretty wrong. Maybe I should just stick to making Mac predictions.

Alternatively, maybe I should come up with my own list or questions, and predict answers now. Play along in the comments or your own blog (like Asteroid did last year) if you want:

  1. Q: Where will the Dow be by December 31, 2009?
    A: Under 9500.
  2. Q: Who will be finally seated as senator from Minnesota in the coming year?
    A: Al Franken.
  3. Q: Name 3 things that will officially “jump the shark” in 2009:
    A: American Idol, Top Chef, Blu-Ray
  4. Q: Will NY Governor David Paterson appoint Caroline Kennedy to the open NY senate seat?
    A: No.
  5. Q: Will Steve Jobs recover from his hormone imbalance? Will he die this year?
    A: Not completely. Not likely.
  6. Q: How many days will Obama be in office before his approval ratings drop below 50%?
    A: 250.
  7. Q: Will Rod Blagojevich be ousted from office as Governor of Illinois this year? If so, when?
    A: No. N/A.
  8. Q: What will the unemployment rate be on December 31, 2009?
    A: 9.5%.
  9. Q: Will there be another major (>100 deaths) terrorist attack this year? If so, where?
    A: No. N/A
  10. Q: The US Dollar will rise or fall compared to the Euro? The Canadian Loonie? Gold? The Zimbabwean Dollar?
    A: Fall. Fall. Fall. To close to call.
  11. Q: Will satellite radio (Sirius/XM) go out of business this year? Will the New York Times?
    A: Yes on both counts. Satellite radio may stop broadcasting, but expect the NY Times to keep publishing after it’s sold at a discount to George Soros or equivalent.
  12. Q: Will the Baseball season will seem insufferably long again next year?
    A: Yes.
  13. Q: Will people continue to be worried about the end of the world in 2012?
    A: Yes, except for idiots planning to run for President then.
  14. Q: Will the War on Christmas still be going on in December 2009?
    A: Yes.

There you have it.


Obama And The RIAA

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

Just noted this (via the Agitator):

As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama won applause from legal adversaries of the recording industry. Stanford law professor Larry Lessig, the doyen of the “free culture” movement, endorsed the Illinois senator, as did Google CEO Eric Schmidt and even the Pirate Party.

That was then. As president-elect, one of Obama’s first tech-related decisions has been to select the Recording Industry Association of America’s favorite lawyer to be the third in command at the Justice Department. And Obama’s pick as deputy attorney general, the second most senior position, is the lawyer who oversaw the defense of the Copyright Term Extension Act–the same law that Lessig and his allies unsuccessfully sued to overturn.

This is no surprise to me. The Democrats are largely supported by Hollywood, who gives them disproportionate amounts of money. I would not expect any sort of copyright reform to come out of the Democratic Party. But the issue is real and has widespread appeal. People are sick of paying for the same crap over and over again, and having the rights to franchises like Star Wars and Indiana Jones locked up by idiots who shit all over the stories while fans are prevented from providing even their own edits. This is the 55MPH speed limit issue all over again, and the Republicans would be wise to take up the charge.


Empowering Mobsters

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

Former Mondale speechwriter Charles Krauthammer has been pushing a line for some time about increasing gasoline taxes. He does it again in an extended article in the current Weekly Standard, this time getting picked up by Sully and I’m sure others, who are latching on to his idea. This is an idea that will empower mobsters and encourage criminality throughout our society, and should thus be avoided.

The basic idea goes like this: back when gas prices were over $4/gallon, people seemed motivated to drive around less and spend money on more energy efficient cars. So if the invisible hand isn’t charging $4 for a gallon of gasoline, let’s force it by means of a tax hike, which will then be refunded to people by means of an income tax reduction.

The problem with this is that while people are motivated to drive less and choose fuel efficient cars when the price of gas is actually above $4/gallon, people become motivated to avoid the tax when the price is artificially set above $4/gallon by the government. And the primary catalyst for such avoidance is organized crime, or the Mob.

None of this should be news to anyone who is even casually schooled in economics. The concept is price elasticity, which states that the less elastic a price is, the less the price effects demand. This can be for a number of reasons. In some cases, like cigarettes, it’s because the consumer is addicted. In the case of something like gasoline, it’s because the switching costs are too high, i.e. moving closer to work, selling the car and buying a new one, etc. In THOSE instances, it behooves the consumer to seek out the cheapest alternative when making a purchase. In a world where the actual price of gasoline is above $4/gallon, that may include taking public transportation, etc. In a world where the actual price of gasoline is less than $4/gallon, but the artificial price of gasoline is above $4/gallon, then one becomes motivated to seek out someone who can procure the good at its actual market price. That someone would likely be a mobster.

This is basically what happens when goods for which there is demand is either made illegal or absurdly expensive by government. On the illegal side, we saw this with prohibition in the 1920’s, gay bars in the 1950’s, and see it with prostitution and drugs today. On the absurdly expensive side, the big one that comes to mind is cigarettes, where Hamas started smuggling them into New York City to help keep the price low. And of course, there’s gasoline in Europe, where the Russian Mob currently does a brisk business smuggling gasoline. I would recommend reading the book Red Mafiya for more details, but if I remember correctly, they already smuggle gasoline into New York City today.

Yeah, that’s exactly what I want, to create public policy that helps Hamas and Russian Mobsters enrich themselves, while encouraging them to be violent on our streets.

Here’s a better idea. If you want the price of gasoline to rise such that people choose more green vehicles and terror states stop being enriched, then you need to cause the ACTUAL price of gasoline or rise, or alternatively find an alternative fuel that is cheaper than gasoline to switch people onto. The former solution would be to bomb Saudi Arabia into dust, but since all our politicians appear to be on the Saudi payroll, I wouldn’t count on that happening any time soon. The latter plan would be the Zubrin plan, which may see some light in an Obama administration, but I wouldn’t count on it.

But raising gasoline taxes, that’s a monstrously bad idea.