July 31, 2013


Don't read these!
Below are some great snippets from recent media articles. All worth a thorough read.
From Investors Business Daily, some questions about Obama and Jack Lew's perception of the state of federal debt:
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew calls concerns over federal debt a "false crisis." Like someone falling out of an airplane who refuses to realize he'll soon hit the ground, Lew is deluding himself — and us.

The Democratic Party and their allies on the progressive left, including a number of notable economists who should know better, can't bring themselves to admit the hard reality — their big-spending, debt-increasing policies have wrecked the world's greatest economy and things, if left unchecked, will get worse. Much worse.

And yet, here's Lew on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," speaking on current budget talks: "We need to remember this isn't just about cutting budgets."

No, given our situation, that's exactly what it's about.

Surging spending has driven the massive buildup of debt under President Obama. Total federal debt today is $17 trillion, twice as high as when Obama began.

Lew and others would have you believe it's Republicans' fault for refusing to spend enough to revive the economy — a common refrain among Democrats.

But federal spending soared from about 20% of GDP when Obama entered office to over 25% — an all-time record — the following year. Today at 23% it's still way above the norm of around 18% to 20%. And it would go even higher, if Obama had his way.
From the Las Vegas Review Journal, some Obamacare troubles;
The Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, the state-run ObamaCare brokerage, last week released preliminary 2014 premiums for Nevada’s individual insurance market. As opponents of the health care reform law have long warned and feared, they’re expensive.

Come Jan. 1, all Americans must purchase health insurance or pay a penalty tax of $95 or 1 percent of their adjusted gross income, whichever is higher. The vast majority of insured Nevadans have their coverage through their employers or unions. Just 15.4 percent of the state’s insured currently purchase their coverage through the individual market.

That figure will increase, and not simply because the mandate takes effect in five months. An untold number of employers are expected to drop coverage for their workers as a result of premium increases. Because President Barack Obama has delayed for one year the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate — a penalty tax on companies that don’t offer medical benefits but have at least 50 full-time-equivalent employees — businesses now have an incentive to dump their insurance.

Plenty of Nevadans who currently have health insurance very well might find themselves in the market for an individual policy by this fall. They won’t like what they find.
Powerline has some thoughts on Hillary 2016. After recounting the series of Hillary biopics upcoming, the post sums up beautifully;
The funny thing about Hillary Clinton is how vastly her reputation exceeds her accomplishments. In reality, the only reason anyone has heard of her is that she married Bill Clinton. Otherwise, she would have toiled away as an obscure, reasonably competent if obnoxious lawyer. She was a relatively unpopular First Lady who is best remembered for being embarrassed by her husband’s serial infidelities. She served a brief term as a Senator from New York, a role in which she achieved nothing. Then she lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama, and punched her ticket during a singularly unsuccessful stint as Secretary of State. Never has she had an original thought, formulated a successful strategy, or stepped out of the shadow of her singular husband.
And in the Washington Post, some thoughts on the Obama White House hypocrisy;
Last night on Fox News’ “Special Report,” Charles Krauthammer eloquently exposed President Obama’s ability — or preference — to remain oblivious to the economic conditions he has created. Maybe the president is in denial, or maybe the bubble that he has constructed shields him from any unpleasant conclusions. Whatever the case, Krauthammer points out that as a direct result of Obama’s economic policies, “the median income of the middle class of Americans has declined by 5% in his one term,” and we are experiencing “growing income inequality, chronic unemployment . . . [and] the worst recovery since World War II.”

It is stunning that President Obama himself said “this growing inequality is not just morally wrong” but “bad economics,” as if he had nothing to do with it. In his recent “economic pivot,” which started with his speech at Knox College in Illinois on July 24, no one has mentioned that since Obama took office in 2009, he has created an economy of renters and part-time jobs while the number of billionaires in the United States has increased by more than 23 percent. The hypocrisy is remarkable. How can the president get away with railing against an economy of his own making?

July 30, 2013

Deconstructing Favreau

Jon Favreau, actor and former speech writer for Barack Obama, is an expert at what is wrong with the conservative movement in America, or so he thinks.  He writes an article in the Daily Beast today that deserves some type of retort.  I'm sure many people will indeed retort.  The point is that Favreau sees the supposed demise of conservatism through the lens of a liberal, and his points are therefore skewed at best.  More accurately, they are venomous and erroneous demagoguery.
Paragraph by paragraph, let's attempt to deconstruct Favreau's inelegant attempt to explain what he views as the rise of destructive conservatism, in the equally liberal Daily Beast.
Nine months after a decisive loss in the 2012 elections, the battle for the soul of the Republican Party—or whatever’s left of it—has begun.

I’m not talking about a battle between moderates and conservatives. The conservatives won that fight a long time ago. Our children may never believe that moderate Republicans once roamed the Earth, advocating policies that would limit carbon pollution and invest in scientific research, reform our schools and build new roads, promote national service, reduce the influence of money in politics, and require individuals who can afford health insurance to take responsibility for buying it. Soon enough, these politicians will exist only in the minds of ’90s-era pundits and Aaron Sorkin’s writing staff.
 1. The loss of the presidency was indeed decisive.  Not so the loss of a few seats in Congress or the stand still in the Senate.
2.  The soul of the Republican party is not under siege. Nor is there a battle for its soul. There have always been moderate Republicans, conservative Republicans and libertarian-leaning Republicans in the party.  That there is not a single, unquestioned viewpoint in the party is the one characteristic that differentiates it from the modern Democratic party.  It is not a machine, nor is it intended to be. It is open for different viewpoints.  Just because it has not been wholeheartedly embraced by some communities does not mean it is not open to them.  The GOP is still a big tent party, despite what your pals in the media would tell you Jon.
3. Moderate Republicans do indeed exist.  From Scott Brown to Susan Collins to many others, there are moderate Republicans to be found.  Too many in fact. What you are describing however as your ideal moderate Republican Jon, is in fact a Democrat. As for your description of what constitutes a 'moderate Republican', it is full of flaws;
     a) Carbon pollution is not a global crisis. Republicans are entirely in favor of clean air.  They also happen to believe that the air is pretty clean and spending trillions to make it better in a negligible way is a waste of time and money.
     b) Republicans believe in scientific research investment.  We are not idiots.  You don't go from typewriters to iPads without innovation.  We embrace research and development.  Here's the twist - they'd like it to be done privately and not by government or coerced through arcane tax regulation. Leave the money with those who earned it and in an effort to keep ahead of the competition they will do research.  They will donate to universities to do research and they will come up with new learnings and inventions through them or on their own. It has to happen.
     c) Republicans would love to reform schools.  They just don't want to reform it in such a way that caters to unions, special interests and puts spending ahead of learning.  They also believe that 50 states trying to manage to better education are more likely to come up with a winning solution among them than could be achieved through the dictates of an imperious central government.  Russia tried that - it didn't work.  China does it, and they still have 500 million people or more in poverty. See, they want school reform, just not the kind you are talking about.  Decades of a liberal public education system has been a disaster.  Don't come crying for more money and call it reform.
     d) Building new roads?  Wasn't there an $800 billion dollar stimulus for shovel ready projects a few years back? Next.
     e) Promote national service? Who advocates for the military more than conservatives?  Who donates more to charities Republicans or Democrats? Republicans my friend, Republicans.  Just because these things are not what you deem national service does not mean they are not.  Getting more people working for the government is not the goal of national service - at least for us.  Other than that, who are you kidding?  National service is small potatoes unless you mean it as a way to fill government agencies with 'employees' that can't find jobs because your boss has no grasp of economics and has stalled real recovery since he took office in 2009. 
     f) Speaking of donations - reducing the influence of money in politics is pretty hypocritical of Democrats to want.  For Republicans who pushed for it John McCain was part of the byzantine McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform.  It was a mess.  Then there was a realization by the Supreme Court that restricting money on political contributions by some groups and not others was unconstitutional and pretty  obviously unfair.  Liberals bleated about how unfair it was for the country to stop being unfair.  I will explain it in simple terms for you Jon - either NO ONE can donate anything or else it is a distortion in some way.  Someone will be disenfranchised.  But clearly, treating unions differently than corporations is absurdly distorted and that wrong being righted, is indeed reform.
     g) Requiring individuals who can afford health insurance to take responsibility for buying it is the cause of the month isn't it Jon?   You are talking about the individual mandate and getting young people to opt into your ARRA (Obamacare) nightmare and they aren't, and that is causing funding problems for your vaunted healthcare scheme.  That mention in the first paragraphs isn't clever, it is transparently self-serving.  And there are so many things wrong with the Act itself that it would take an entire essay to enumerate and explain.  But there is something intrinsically wrong with making people buy health insurance and fining them if they don't.  There is something intrinsically wrong with a mandate that encourages companies not to exceed 50 employees for fear of being mandated into providing health care.  By no means does that mean that conservatives are against health care reform.  We are just against an ill conceived monstrosity of a piece of legislation that would have unintended consequences for decades to come. We are against waste and inefficiency and those problems being papered over with requests for more money to fix the problems.
Two paragraphs in and I can see this is going to take quite a bit more time to detail.  For now I will leave this as a "To be continued" post and start digging into the rest of the Favreau doctrine soon.

Clinton, Weiner, Huma and Hillary?

Why do you want THIS, America?
If the story is to be believed, then surely there is no doubt that Hillary Clinton will be running for president in 2016.  Why else would the Clintons be livid over the Anthony Weiner scandal?
Bill and Hillary Clinton are angry with efforts by mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner and his campaign to compare his Internet sexcapades — and his wife Huma Abedin’s incredible forgiveness — to the Clintons’ notorious White House saga, The Post has learned.

“The Clintons are upset with the comparisons that the Weiners seem to be encouraging — that Huma is ‘standing by her man’ the way Hillary did with Bill, which is not what she in fact did,’’ said a top state Democrat.
Actually, it is what she did. Nonetheless, why all the acrimony about the comparison? Is it the association, or the comparison or the reminder of Bill Clinton's escapades?  Yes, Weiner is an unsavory character and the association is one I would not one to be saddled with, so cutting Weiner loose is a good idea.  But the story says the Clintons are 'livid'.  The comparison of the two situations Weiner and Bill Clinton's escapades is already being downplayed by a top state Democrat and will likely be downplayed by everyone who asks, in fact, even Republicans seem to be not on top of it;
With all the explosive ammunition Republicans have to fire at Weiner and a handful of other disgraced Democrats, GOP activists expected Senate co-leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb to unload at least a few critical comments.

Instead, there’s been total silence from the state’s two top elected Republicans — in yet another example of the collapse of the state’s two-party system.
 So the only fathomable reason is that it will remind people of the Clintons' past and that is something it seems Hillary doesn't want.  That is surprising since her supporters seem poised to offer up a biopic of her in 2016 that starts in the middle of the Lewinsky affair.

But Hillary's intentions are clear, she doesn't want to be tarnished by Weiner;
Worried about the potential impact on Hillary’s likely run for president in 2016, the political power couple has begun aggressively distancing itself from the crippled mayoral contender, according to sources.

Meanwhile, at least one prominent Hillary Rodham Clinton political operative was described as close to “going public’’ with a sharp criticism of Weiner — in order to send the message that the Clintons, fearing longtime damage to Hillary, want him out of the mayor’s race.
Which brings us back to her association with Weiner. It turns out the Clintons' associations with various people can be a danger to them politically, or at least they feel that way. I guess the ghost of Marc Rich is still haunting them.

July 29, 2013

Thursday Hillary Bash - Monday Preview

"You can't handle the truth!"
The only, and I mean only, way to combat this bit of insanity, is to pre-empt it with a failed Hillary Clinton primary candidacy in 2015.  It seems the networks and Hollywood powers that be, having been sorely disappointed stung by a less than lackluster Obama presidency are ready to help anoint Hillary Clinton in 2016. With a four part mini-series, they will all be eager to help her just before her coronation election.

As John Fund at NRO points out, you can already see the white washing of her political blemishes being planned;
I wasn’t surprised to learn that sometime before the 2016 election, NBC will be releasing a four-hour miniseries about Hillary Clinton starring Academy Award nominee Diane Lane. What did surprise me was that the series will cover none of her life before the Monica Lewinsky scandal, which took place five years into her husband’s second term as president and when Hillary was already 51 years old. It’s as if her first half-century will be airbrushed away, along with the many scandals that dogged her in those decades.

While the series will still have a lot of ground to cover — impeachment and the “vast right-wing conspiracy” she suspected, her successful 2000 Senate race, her loss to Barack Obama in the 2008 primaries, her time as secretary of state and her role in the Benghazi debacle — it’s striking that so much rich material will be excluded even before footage is discarded on the cutting-room floor.
He's right about the scandal removal (click the link to the original article to see the list). NBC it seems will start the proceedings in 1998 - Bill Clinton's second term (via Newser);
The NBC show will star Diane Lane, and it will cover "Clinton’s life as a wife, mother, politician, and Cabinet member from 1998 to the present," the network says. "The script will begin with Clinton living in the White House" during Bill Clinton's second term.
If you really want to short-circuit Hollywood by seeing them run a Hillary Clinton biopic mini-series going into a general election in 2016 where she is not a candidate, START HERE

July 28, 2013

Immigration Complications

I'm not sure if open borders today carry the same implications that they carried back in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  Open immigration is a good thing but not without some parameters.  Accepting devoted communists in the 1950s may have altered the course of America.  Accepting numerous immigrants from any culture that is radically opposed to liberty - be it Islamic militants, socialists, or fascists - is not healthy if those coming are not fleeing prosecution but rather spreading it.

That said, Reason TV has an interesting interview with Grover Norquist on open borders.  The issue is complex.  Barricading the nation against 'invaders' is as bad as the government spying on its own people.  It is tantamount to basing everything on suspicion.  However, opening the borders wide and accepting all of the huddled masses is patently naïve in it's notion that everyone coming to America has good intentions. Norquist makes some interesting and reasonable points but the issue is not black and white.  It requires a lot more thinking than the political sound bites we hear, that are driven by politicians with probably the same gut reactions and instincts one way or the other that everyone else seems to have.

July 27, 2013

Saturday Learning Series - More Six Sigma

More from MIT's Six Sigma for today's Saturday Learning Series.

July 26, 2013

Christie Cross

New Jersey governor Chris Christie is not feeling the love for Rand Paul.  In fact he thinks Paul is 'dangerous'.  Really???  This from the guy who embraced president Obama.  Other than the fact that he may...MAY... be able to deliver a Republican win in New Jersey in 2016, what possible reason would any Republican, conservative or Libertarian voter ever have to vote for this guy?  His star is falling faster than Skylab.

Christie seems to think that national security trumps privacy, end of discussion.  It's never that easy, and even president Obama said he welcomes the debate on the subject (knowing full well he is not interested in any discussion on the topic).

Via Politico, clearly happy to highlight Republican discord, here's the audio.

Rand Paul, handily fired back.
Paul’s office shot back on Friday, saying Christie may need a “new dictionary.”

“If Gov. Christie believes the constitutional rights and the privacy of all Americans is ‘esoteric’, he either needs a new dictionary, or he needs to talk to more Americans, because a great number of them are concerned about the dramatic overreach of our government in recent years,” Doug Stafford, a senior adviser to Paul, said in a statement to POLITICO. “Defending America and fighting terrorism is the concern of all Americans, especially Sen. Paul. But it can and must be done in keeping with our Constitution and while protecting the freedoms that make America exceptional.”

Friday Musical Interlude - Best album EVER.

A bonus musical interlude today, what I would argue, holistically is the best album ever.  Fleetwood Mac's Rumours is a true work of art.  On top of that the music is listenable, enjoyable and just plain great.

Friday Musical Intrerlude - Sweet Virginia (live)

The Rolling Stones pre-zombie-Richards era (1972) performing Sweet Virginia in Austin, Texas. Nothing Justin Beiber has done or ever will do can touch this - just saying.

In addition to the Stones line-up, this featured Nicky Hopkins on piano, Bobby Keys on saxophone and Jim Price on horns.

July 25, 2013

Thursday Hillary Bash - She's Too Old Edition

A bonus Hillary Bash today, this from the pages of the liberal-slanted Politico.  Granted, the author is a self-described Republican, but the message of the piece is clear regardless.  Hillary is too old to be president.

While this relies on history as an indicator and history is not always correct, there do seem to be some age-related precedents that stack up against not Hillary specifically, but someone of her age and generation.
...there have been anywhere between 11 and 14 generations since the time of George Washington’s birth. Each has produced, on average, three presidents. The “Greatest Generation,” most commonly associated with those who served in World War II, boasts the most, with seven presidents spanning from John F. Kennedy to George H. W. Bush. The baby-boomer generation, having already had three presidents — Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and, just barely, Barack Obama — is on the verge of what boomers may view as a premature passing of the torch to Generation X.

Then there’s the number 19. That’s the average number of years served in office by each generation’s presidents. Again, the Greatest Generation served the longest time, 32 years, which might have been even longer if not for the truncated terms of Kennedy and Richard Nixon, and the one-termers, Jimmy Carter and Bush Senior. By the time Obama leaves office in January 2017, the boomers will have collectively served an above-average 24 years in office. Should another boomer win the White House and serve two terms, it would tie the Greatest Generation’s 32-year tenure...

Imagine, though, a race pitting Clinton or Biden against a Gen. X Republican like Marco Rubio (age 42), Scott Walker (45), Paul Ryan (43) or Bobby Jindal (42). At that point, Republicans could easily tag either Democrat as a purveyor of deficits and debt, an architect of decline and defender of the status quo, while the fresh-faced Republican nominee is touted as the leader of a party full of new ideas.
What might also do Hillary in is her belief system.  While her husband moved right out of the necessity of the 1994 mid-term election drubbing his party took, Hillary may politically understand that but may not be able emotionally to make that commitment. If pressed prior to an election she may be completely unwilling to distance herself from the policies and decisions of Obama.  Setting aside the national security stuff for a moment, don't expect Hillary to be badmouthing Obama's trillions in new debt that burdens America's current future generations as a result of liberal borrow and spend policies.
And if she cannot offer a more fiscally conservative vision, against a potentially younger and fresher opponent she will indeed stand as a contrast and easily appear to be yesterday's news.

Thursday Hillary Bash - Family Scandal Edition

In the news today, President Obama's nominee to be the number two man at Homeland Security is facing an investigation involving a company run by Anthony Rodham - Hillary Clinton's brother.

This is all very, incestuous when you look at the details (pardon the pun). Via NBC,
President Barack Obama’s nominee to be the Homeland Security Department’s No. 2 official is under investigation over alleged intervention to obtain approval for a company run by a brother of Hillary Clinton to participate in a program that provides U.S. visas for foreign investors, according to an email the department’s inspector general sent to lawmakers Monday night and obtained by NBC News...

The probe is based on allegations that Mayorkas personally intervened to win an approval for Gulf Coast Funds Management, a financing company headed by Clinton’s brother Anthony Rodham, after USCIS officials rejected its application, according to an aide to GOP Sen. Charles Grassley, who had received internal USCIS emails about the matter from a department whistleblower.

Gulf Coast has received media attention in recent months over its partnership with Greentech, an electric car company run by Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic nominee for governor of Virginia...

The emails obtained by Grassley's office, which were shared with NBC News, show that, after winning approval to participate in the foreign visa program, at least one of the visas sought by Rodham's firm was for a vice president of Huawei Technologies, a Chinese telecommunications firm that has been investigated by the House Intelligence Committee over claims that it is closely tied to the Chinese intelligence services. Huawei Technologies has denied such charges.
While that trail involving Mayorkas, Rodham, McAuliffe (a long time Clinton ally) and the Chinese VP of Huawei Technologies which is rumored to be involved with the Chinese intelligence services is not directly tied to Hillary Clinton, there sure are a lot of people she knows involved with this news. And given the spate of scandals erupting out of the White House, and the departures of Clinton at State and Napolitano at Homeland Security one has to wonder why the White House is allowing these sort of mistakes - Mayorkas' nomination - to continue to happen? Is the vetting process that bad? Have they not learned from previous failed vetting attempts going all the way back to late 2008?

Or is it something else?
The email indicates that the FBI's Washington field office, which was conducting a background investigation of Mayorkas on behalf of the White House, was informed of the probe by the inspector general in June. The White House announced the president's intent to nominate Mayorkas on June 27. The aide to Grassley said GOP senators want to know why the White House moved forward with the nomination when a probe into his conduct was under way.
The White House knew and moved ahead. Is it possible that the White House wanted this scandal to take the front page away from the other scandals? After all, this is just a bad vetting problem for the president and previous vetting problems have not seemed to cause his job approval any significant damage. This probe could potentially lead to Hillary Clinton, and that would certainly deflect a lot of the firepower directed at the president's current spate of scandals and possibly allow him to do more as efforts were turned to focus on what is highly regarded as the next Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. One has to wonder if the president might not even secretly be gleeful about the negative attention Clinton would get as a result of this.

July 24, 2013

Obama pirouettes back to the economy

Once again, the president has decided to pivot back to jobs and it really is becoming hard to contain the laughter. It's not a pivot it's a pirouette.  The president's actions speak louder than his words and it's pretty obvious now what his actions are saying.
The Washington Examiner gleefully spikes the president's hypocrisy on the economy:
President Obama, who has spent his second term so far pressing for higher taxes, gun control, immigration reform, and climate change, says “phony debate and nonsense” have distracted Washington away from the economy, which is the issue that matters most to the American people. To bring the capital’s attention back to what is most important, the president is traveling to his home state Wednesday, to Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, to discuss his plans for the economy.

“I’m going to talk about where we need to go from here,” Obama told officials of Organizing for Action, the spinoff of his 2008 and 2012 campaigns, at a gathering Monday night in one of Washington’s glitziest hotels, the Mandarin Oriental. Obama said his Illinois speech would concentrate on “how we need to put behind us the distractions and the phony debate and nonsense that somehow passes for politics these days, and get back to basics, refocus on what it is that everybody is talking about around the kitchen table, what people are talking about day to day with their families.”
 That's spot on as far as it goes. But it does overlook one other reason the president wants to talk about the economy, and it's the reason that his approval ratings are tanking.  Scandal.  In addition to all of those reasons the Examiner cites Obama is talking about everything but the economy is all the scandals.  In fact, the scandals are the underlying reason president Obama was talking about all of those things in the first place. In fact the president means the talk of scandals when he says "nonsense".
But the president is shameless with this stuff.  He wants to cast aspersions on the GOP for being unfocused and not interested in the economy and that is wrong on every level.  The economy is supposed to be their bread and butter issue.  The president is the least focus, most crisis-management reactionary politician in Washington.  And to top it all off, he's not interested in the economy except when he's scrounging for approval or trying to distract from his own shortcomings. 

July 23, 2013

Detroit, I refer you to California

Larry the Liquidator vs. Detroit
Detroit has now gone bankrupt, at least financially - it's been politically bankrupt for decades.  It has overtaken Stockton, California as the largest city in America to go bankrupt. 
Detroit, I refer you to California. While the prognostication of what would happen to California might have been off in terms of timing, or overall outcome (to date) the prescription I suggested is still valid.  My suggestion was to let California fail. My suggestion for Detroit is the same.
The fact is that California progressives don't get basic economics, and neither do (or did)  Detroit politicians.  Saving failing enterprises is a failing enterprise. That is as true of a government as it is of a private business. Just ask Larry.

Obamacare - little sizzle, no steak

The expression all sizzle no steak is meant to imply that something does not live up to its description or advanced promotion.  More and more that sounds like Obamacare.  As Congressional Democrats join Republicans in an effort to delay the Obamacare mandates, and questions arise over what the president knew about delaying the employer mandate and when, the president remains not taken aback.  In fact, the president is leading the charge to apply more sizzle since there is no steak to offer.
The face kids want to see?

July 22, 2013

Evil Genius is as Stupid does

Stupid is as stupid does. So goes the saying in Forrest Gump.  Stupidity it reasons, can be determined as it is indicated in one's actions. In the case of Obamacare though, evil genius is as stupid does.

Is scandal fatigue going to help the president?

NOTE: I recently started a new job and have had a lot of my time eaten up with learning curve stuff, so I haven't been posting much and will probably be a bit slower than  for the next few days at least.
With the flurry of scandals that have haunted the president over the spring seemingly destined to fade over the summer what impact are they likely to have going forward?  I don't possess a crystal ball but I am familiar with game theory.
If we plot two axes with magnitude of the scandal impacts on the vertical axis and the immediacy on the horizontal axis (sorry for the lack of accompanying artwork), we can more readily think about potential outcomes.  On the magnitude axis we could have a small (e.g. no presidential wrongdoing/involvement, many of the scandals quietly being compartmentalized and/or just fading away or a compliant press covering up the magnitude of the wrongdoing) or large scandal impact.  On the immediacy axis we can have the scandal(s) blowing up right now or we can have them blowing up and creating fallout right before the 2014 midterms or before the 2016 presidential election.

July 19, 2013

Big pensions don't work

Money for nothing.  Big pensions don't work.  Just ask Detroit (emphasis added):
The city of Detroit filed for bankruptcty on Thursday afternoon, ending weeks of speculation about a possible such move.

Kevyn Orr, the city's emergency manager, handed over a 3,000 page document detailing all the money which the city is unable to pay.

The list of those owed includes the names of all of the city’s active employees and its retirees, a list of properties that have tax claims with the city, numerous bondholders, business creditors and companies that insured Detroit debt.

The largest creditor is the city's general pension scheme, which is owed $2 billion.
That about sums it up for conservatives - the city is overpaying government workers until well after they are off the employee role. There is no world in which that makes economic sense. Unsustainable pensions didn't work for GM and they won't work for Detroit, which is at the added disadvantage of having to pay those unrealistic pensions out of the public purse.
If only those public employees would learn something from this...

Aristotle in action III

Republics decline into democracies and democracies degenerate into despotisms. 

Here's a current example of that process in action:

Need I say more?

July 18, 2013

Obama White House somehow keeps avoiding its own Battle of Karánsebes

The Story:  September 17, 1788. The Austrian army accidentally fought a battle with itself which resulted in 10,000 dead and wounded - a few days prior to the real enemy showing up. Needless to say, when the Ottomans arrived, they were able to defeat the remaining Austrians without much difficulty.  But there is a lot of questions about the authenticity of the story.  

Regardless of whether or not the story is true, there are lessons in it - both militarily and in most other regards as well, when it comes to leadership.

The lesson:  The Battle Karánsebes serves as a what can happen when there is poor communication at the leadership level.  A series of unfortunate occurrences can lead to a disaster.  It's an example of action by reaction as opposed to planning.  The White House seems to have completely missed the boat on this particular lesson from history (or mythology).  Consider all of the areas where the Obama administration is at odds with itself.

July 17, 2013

Telegraph historian pegs Obama on healthcare

This article is a great indictment of both Obama and Obamacare.  Telegraph writer and historian Tim Stanley lays out the case that Obama's second term is a mix of inaction and injustice.
...The Obama administration has announced that it’s delaying implementation of the employer mandate aspect of Obamacare until 2015. The mandate says that all businesses with over 50 workers must provide health insurance to their staff or face fines of up to $3,000 per employee. So the delay is a big deal for the following reasons:

1. It’s a tacit acceptance that Obamacare is a job killer. The administration buckled under orders from the Treasury because so many businesses said they couldn’t afford this part of the bill....
If you get a chance, read the entire article. It sums up wonderfully what the delayed implementation of Obamacare shows us about Obama.

Rolling Stone must be desperate for readers

Rolling Stone magazine has featured the Boston Marathon bomber on its latest cover. Does this magazine still have anyone reading it?  The only reason they could do something so atrocious is because they are failing financially and were hoping to benefit from the inevitable controversy.  People were killed because of the actions of this man and his brother.  Rolling Stone had to know that going in.  They had to know that putting the bomber on the cover, and trying to sexy him up with a glamour shot - yes, they did that - would be hurtful to a lot of people and be offensive to the nation.  There is apparently no moral code in place at Rolling Stone.  

Then again, maybe they are actively promoting evil.  This isn't the first time Rolling Stone has done something this stupid.  They once had Charlie Manson on the cover.

1970s Rolling Stone magazine
They do not deserve to benefit from this stupid, insulting and egregious act of moral turpitude.  I did not link to the cover photo.  I urge you not to go to the Rolling Stone website, or to buy the magazine.  Boycott it.

Actions should have consequences.

Aristotle in action II

Even when laws have been written down, they ought not always to remain unaltered. 

Or alternately, I would suggest, 'they ought not always remain.' Aristotle is right.  Liberals love to add new laws and mandates but are phobic about revisiting stuff that doesn't work.  That's not progressive like they claim to be, it's just blind.

Exhibit A: The Obamacare train wreck has started. The unintended consequences have started to spill out into the press conferences.

Exhibit B: It also seems like any new law has a natural tendency to exponentially grow into more rules as the law reaches the application stage.

Go figure - a poorly conceived, poorly drafted law is turning into a train wreck before our eyes.  Who saw that coming?  Oh yeah, more than half the country.

July 16, 2013

Aristotle in action

Aristotle has been often quoted as saying you can judge a nation by the way they treat their most vulnerable citizens (it has also been attributed to others).  In Egypt, Coptic Christians are being killed in light of the removal of Morsi from power.

Not much is being done to prevent Coptic Christians from being targeted.  Egypt, clearly has lost civility in its political discourse and moved on to the ugly - murder, prejudice and thuggery. This video is from a couple of months ago if I'm not mistaken, but there are more recent examples as well.

Sadly, not much outside of Egypt is being done either.

July 15, 2013

Zimmerman redux

Ugh.  After having avoided the Zimmerman non-event event trial for as long I did and having said I was tapping out, I feel compelled to write one last time about it.  The fallout of the case is interesting. A lot of people are calling for the federal government to bring civil charges against George Zimmerman. The basis for such charges would be civil rights violations. Call it O.J. civil suit payback I guess.  The problem for those calling for that sort thing is surprisingly not the lack of reasonableness of such an action, but surprisingly, the FBI.

After interviewing nearly three dozen people in the George Zimmerman murder case, the FBI found no evidence that racial bias was a motivating factor in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, records released Thursday show.

Even the lead detective in the case, Sanford Det. Chris Serino, told agents that he thought Zimmerman profiled Trayvon because of his attire and the circumstances — but not his race.

Serino saw Zimmerman as “having little hero complex, but not as a racist.”

The Duval County State Attorney released another collection of evidence in the Zimmerman murder case Thursday, including reports from FBI agents who investigated whether any racial bias was involved in Trayvon’s Feb. 26 killing.

The evidence includes bank surveillance videos from the day of the killing, crime scene photos and memos from prosecutors.

Among the documents is a note from the prosecutor who said one of the witnesses said her son, a minor, had felt pressured by investigators to say the injured man he saw was wearing a red top. The boy’s testimony had been considered key, because it backed up Zimmerman’s allegation that he — wearing red — was being pummeled.

Federal agents interviewed Zimmerman’s neighbors and co-workers, but none said Zimmerman had expressed racial animus at any time prior to the Feb. 26 shooting of Martin, a black teen, in a confrontation at a Sanford housing complex. As Sanford police investigated the circumstances of Martin’s death, the FBI opened a parallel probe to determine if Martin’s civil rights had been violated.
This will go as well as the original prosecution, and it should.  And hopefully that is my last post on Zimmerman.

July 14, 2013

Zimmerman verdict round-up

The verdict in the George Zimmerman case is in.  He's been found not guilty.  Regardless of what you might believe actually happened, the right verdict seems to have been reached.  The prosecution did not prove Zimmerman's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and so he was acquitted. That is the nature of the justice system and it was the only reasonable conclusion if you followed the trial.  I followed the trial but to be honest, only out of a blogging interest.  I was never interested in this story. It should not have gotten national attention. It should never had risen to the level that the president stuck his nose into it.  It should not have risen to the level that an NBC employee had to be fired or falsely editing the 911 call to make Zimmerman look guilty.  Yet it did.

This story is a tragedy. A 17 year old is dead and another man almost went to jail.  There are no winners here.  The biggest loser though, is tempered, sane journalism and that's why I avoided writing about it, and will continue to do so.

Instead, here is a round-up of some good and terrible opinion pieces on this verdict.

Prosecution relied on emotion.

And with that, I'm tapping out on the whole Treyvon versus Zimmerman case.

July 13, 2013

Quick Post: IRS scandal #2

Shady IRS logo for the record company.  Maybe they should switch with the other IRS
I'm behind on blogging and as a result, behind on this new story of more IRS malfeasance.  Or foolishness.  Either way, this is unacceptable.

Another day, another slip up by the Internal Revenue Service.

The incident involves the unwitting exposure of "tens of thousands" of Social Security numbers, according to a recent audit by the independent transparency and public-domain group Public.Resource.org. The identifying numbers were on the Internet for less than 24 hours after being discovered, but the damage was done. And unfortunately, the data-breach concerns some of the most sensitive types of transactions: Those made by nonprofit political groups known as 527s.

Every so often, 527s have to file tax forms to the IRS, which then get added to a database. The database itself is hardly a secret; the IRS has been sending updated records routinely to Public.Resource.org and other public-interest groups, and it's a favorite among political reporters. But when the IRS told the group's founder, Carl Malamud, to disregard the Form 990-Ts included in the agency's January release, he took a closer look at the files in question.

After analyzing the breach, Malamud wrote a letter to the IRS pointing out 10 instances where a social security number was accidentally revealed on the government's website—just a small sample of the larger breach.
So here's the obvious question - were these Tea Party groups?  I have issues with the IRS either way - either it's more persecution of conservative groups, or it's a way to intimate that the IRS is broken but not deliberately working against conservative groups and this is a diversion of anger against the first complaint against the IRS.   There is a third possibility - that the IRS is horribly screwed up and this information came out coincidentally with the other scandal.

More information needs to come out before we can be certain;

(1) Whose info was exposed?
(2) Did it happen after the first scandal, before, or is it part of an on-going pattern of mistakes of this type?
(3) How did the information come to light?
(4) How were those affected by it, affected?

Waiting seems to be the best course of action before making pronouncements on this.

Stuff that keeps me up at night

YJ-62: Part of China's arsenal.
Yikes. China might be beating the U.S. on the naval warfare front.
...a missile race going on in the Pacific, and one China might be winning.

The most muscular of these new Chinese weapons is the DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile, which counts a range of over 1,700 miles. If in some future shooting war one of these missiles targets a U.S. warship, there might be no defense against it.

China has also been hard at work developing a navalized version of the DH-10 land-attack cruise missile, which can travel nearly 2,500 miles and strike ground targets such as American bases in Guam and Okinawa...

Beijing’s most powerful foreign-made anti-ship missile is the Russian SS-N-22 Sunburn, a terrifying Mach-3 devastator.

...There’s a destroyer-launched version of the YJ-62 with an operational range of nearly 250 miles, compared to the standard Harpoon’s 77 miles. All things being equal, in a head-to-head fight a Chinese destroyer could get the first shot against a U.S. vessel.

And there’s a big push underway in China to build even newer and better ship-killing missiles. Beijing has been observed ramping-up use of special test-bed ships fitted with new sensors that could be satellite communications or fire control systems, or something else entirely.

All this activity on the other side of the Pacific has put the U.S. off its balance. “Don’t be too surprised if the Navy is scrambling to deploy in a hurry, as [the Americans] are chronically behind in EW system fleet upgrades across all three services, due to funding being diverted into [the global war on terrorism] or whatever label is attached these days,” Kopp says.
That's the kind of thing that keeps me up at night.  They say you have to pick your poison.  In this case America has targeted terrorism ahead of national defense maintenance.  In fact the current administration has picked any domestic pork barrel spending over anything to do with national defense - terrorism or otherwise.  America has been fighting a two front war for over a decade.  Not Afghanistan and Iraq, but rather it has been fighting a war between geo-political national defense and trying to use resources to minimize and mitigate terrorism.

What's the right balance for those two competing needs?  The numbers are pretty clear - the amount spent on Homeland Security that has saved a questionable number of lives (remember jobs saved logic? It's being used here as well) versus keeping the entire nation safe the priority should be on the latter.  After all, the Boston Marathon wasn't prevented despite all of the billions spent on spying on Americans.  That's because you can't prevent everything.  The solution - focus on moving the big rocks.  China is a big rock.  Secondly, in the this-or-that decisioning, it's pretty clear that the public doesn't want to be spied upon anyway.

The decision seems to be pretty straight-forward at this point.  Focus the national defense efforts on China, North Korea, Iran and Russia.  Those are the real dangers.  Yes, terrorism must be dealt with but containing it is simpler if America has international respect as to what it might do to a nation that supports terrorism.  With that respect gone, it's open season on America. By focusing on geo-political foes, America gets a secondary benefit of discouraging support for terrorism.  The reverse case - fighting terrorism helping  contain potential Chinese aggression - is not going to happen.

Did not know that - John Hawkins speaks

One of my favorite right of center political blogs is Right Wing News.  I must confess that when I read it, I still filter through most of the posts by the other authors than the blogs creator John Hawkins, looking for his stuff.  It's not that there aren't great posts from the other authors there - there are some really good ones in fact.  Rather, I like John Hawkins' writing, his ideas and sensibilities on various topics.

What I stumbled upon recently, was the fact that John posts on youtube as well. That's a pleasant surprise. While he hasn't posted to youtube in a few months, here's one of his more recent posts that is still relevant today and will be for a couple of years: Not Jeb Bush.

Saturday Learning Series - Six Sigma (Part 10)

Last week Saturday Learning Series continued MIT's series on Six Sigma.  Today in part 10, they look at quality tools.

July 12, 2013

Two Word Opinions: July 2013 Edition

There are too many things to comment on with dedicated posts today, so here are some quick two word opinions with links to the stories behind them.

Janet Napolitano Resigns: Good riddance.

Eric Holder likely to stick around Face palm.

Egypt on the verge of some sort of violence while Obama's administration exhibits: Unfinished idiocy.

Obama advisers blast Obama policy: About time.

Zimmerman verdict coming soon: Don't care..

Zimmerman verdict could cause riots in Miami: Okay, bad.

Rubio's stock sinking with GOP voters: Immigration error

Palin might run for Senate: Improving Alaska

Jobs report worse than expected: Not unexpected.

Bernanke makes unbelievable rate pledge: Jobs mandate?

Friday Musical Interlude - Get Lucky

Some recent Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams on vocals performing Get Lucky.  The song has a distinct 70s feel - the rhythm sounds like it could have been written by or for KC & the Sunshine Band  The vocals have a Motown feel.

It's definitely an easy listen.  If you watch the seemingly boring 'video' at 2:21, something actually happens.

July 11, 2013

Thursday Hillary Bash - National Journal Edition

Ed Morrissey ar Hot Air beat me to this story, but let's face it, he is full time, better funded, and let's face it, more talented than me.

Hillary Clinton may have missed her window thanks to Obama's tenure.  That seems to be the case the liberal National Journal is making, or at least hinting at now. The question asked - is she peaking too soon?
Crack organizers from President Obama's campaigns are the latest political honchos to join the Clinton-for-president movement and, like others involved, they say they are just trying to make things "Ready for Hillary" if she decides to run. But the bandwagon effect is fueling an "inevitability" narrative that damaged Clinton in 2008, and is allowing her no reprieve from politics.

The Ready for Hillary super PAC announcement of a partnership with 270 Strategies, coming on top of earlier testimonials from prominent Democrats, feeds the impression that the non-existent Clinton campaign is a runaway train about to reach top speed (albeit without an engineer at the controls). Former Clinton campaign aide Mo Elleithee says the actual significance of the new partnership is merely that "there are a lot of people that want her to run. That's all it means. She is not in this race yet, and there's no guarantee that she ever will be."

The early and intense focus on Clinton recalls 2008, when she was wrongly assumed to be the prohibitive front-runner for the Democratic nomination. The constant spotlight now means Clinton remains a political target even as friends and associates say she is trying to focus on advocacy, speeches, and writing a book about her tenure as secretary of State. "What they're doing is fantastic," Elleithee says of Ready for Hillary, but "I do think it is adding to the hyper-politicization of every move she makes." He says her advocacy for women, children, and families, a lifelong crusade, is more important to her right now than politics.
As Morrissey points out, Clinton may look even more like yesterdays news by 2016, even as nostalgia for her may grow as the Obama presidency plays out. But there's another possible dynamic at work. There is no evidence being proffered that she has indeed reached a peak. She may still be ascending.

A better question might be is her trajectory one guaranteed to supersede other potential contenders? If the economy stays tepid at best, might a popular Democrat governor like (now Senator) Mark Warner be most appealing to Democrats?  If the hope and change isn't complete yet, might someone like Andrew Cuomo or more likely a Deval Patrick have a better shot?

Clinton is by no means inevitable, but as conservatives have been surprised by expected weak opposition in the recent past (both Bill Clinton, and Obama), who the candidate becomes, is probably less important than the connectivity of the message they craft versus the message of their Republican opponent composes.

July 10, 2013

Bush is wrong on this

Former president Bush believes that the system is broken.  As a caller rightly pointed out on Rush Limbaugh's show yesterday, anyone who says the "system is broken" is trying to sell you a fix.  And as Rush pointed out, the fix is urgent because Democrats want everyone to believe it is urgent. And they want that because, as Rush stated, it is a political issue.  That is driving the urgency not a broken border. Democrats want more of what they perceive as safe Democrat voters. Some Republicans have fallen for the line that without amnesty the GOP has no future.

In any case, Bush, points out the "system is broken". But it isn't broken.

There are laws on the books that should be preventing the issue of illegal immigration. There are means available to enforce existing laws. What is missing is the enforcement. New rules aren't needed, proper enforcement is needed. What is broken, is the enforcement of existing laws. How can you tell if they are broken if they haven't been enforced?

Bush is wrong on this one. You can argue politically if he is wrong or right, but that's a different debate. The problem is the wording and saying that the laws aren't working and the system is broken.

July 8, 2013

Toronto flooding (again) photos

Setting aside the regular political stuff, there are some pretty dramatic photos of my home town Toronto, being flooded today by some pretty intense thunderstorms today.  Accompanied by power outages it was quite crazy out there.

Second flooding for Toronto in about a month.  It's not as bad as Calgary got it but it was fast and furious.

Rick Perry's Stealth Announcement of his Run for President 2016

It looks like Rick Perry has beaten Hillary Clinton to the starting gate by announcing that he will be running for president in 2016.  Of course it was a stealth announcement because all he really announced was that he would not seek another term as governor.

This was not unpredictable. Perry postponed the announcement to work on the Texas abortion debate. That delay signaled that his remaining work to do on that issue was kind of a finishing up effort. He didn't want his retirement announcement to interfere with his efforts on that front. It was clear at that point that he was planning to announce his ending of his role as governor of Texas. And as I said that was a stealth announcement of his plans to run for president in 2016.

I guess it isn't really all that stealthy then, is it?
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