August 31, 2014

Sunday Linkage

I thought I'd have a chance to catch up on posting this weekend, but so far I haven't had the chance.  But since it's a long weekend, maybe tomorrow it could still happen.

Meanwhile check out these interesting sites.

The drought in California is an election issue.

August 30, 2014

Saturday Learning Series - The first congress

Last week Part 10 of the Constitutional History lecture series dealt with state constitutions.  This week it continues with the first congress.

Busy week

Training has consumed most of this past week for me, causing me to fall well behind on commenting on events.  Catching up is mandatory since we are heading into the home stretch for the midterm elections.

More posts to follow this weekend.

August 26, 2014

Well, somebody's got to do something

Obama's fecklessness and disdain for his job aside, at least NATO is more than just considering action against Russian aggression.
Nato is to deploy its forces at new bases in eastern Europe for the first time, in response to the Ukraine crisis and in an attempt to deter Vladimir Putin from causing trouble in the former Soviet Baltic republics, according to its secretary general.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the organisations's summit in Cardiff next week would overcome divisions within the alliance and agree to new deployments on Russia's borders – a move certain to trigger a strong reaction from Moscow.
Good news.  Russia's slow roll invasion of sovereign Ukrainian territory cannot go unanswered.  An all out war is not a good option, but a few sanctions as applied by the Obama administration is wholly inadequate.  The administration has overseen billions of dollars in fines for banks for not following the letter of the law.  That a rogue nation gets a few individuals punished with sanctions has been a laugh.  I'm glad someone at NATO realized it and acted accordingly.  

Shirred Brown doesn't start from the beginning

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown calls for Burger King boycott over planned Tim Horton's deal.

Brown feel that Burger King is abandoning it's country and customers.  But for Burger King to even consider a tax inversion perhaps the U.S. government has abandoned American business, and that happened first.

August 25, 2014

Crystal Ball?

Look, I'm not convinced the GOP is going to do everything possible to win the Senate back from Democrats because they don't know how to campaign effectively.  But I think Larry Sabato might be off base on this:
A year ago, it was not hard to find Republican leaders who privately believed the party could score a dramatic breakthrough in the Senate, with the GOP emerging with perhaps 55 or 56 seats. This objective was vital not just for the jousting during President Obama’s final two years in the White House. At least as important is the fact that the GOP sees a much less friendly Senate map in 2016, when it will have to defend 24 of 34 seats, including incumbents elected in 2010 in Democratic states such as Illinois, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
I don't know that the GOP was thinking 55-56 seats in 2014 other than beyond wishing. While Larry Sabato is a quality prognosticator and interpreter of polling data, this seems a little more of political commentary in nature.

I for one do not buy the premise.  That makes buying the conclusion impossible.

Training Day

Not the movie, an actual training day for me so not only have I been unable to post, I'm not sure of anything that has happened since the earthquake in California. I'm an entire news cycle behind. What'd I miss?

August 24, 2014

Sunday links.

Starting with some funny stuff

An interesting variation on the ice bucket challenge theme.

The iron dome upgrades

On the failed character assassination of Rick Perry - the mugshot

Perry has taken it to the next level

It's not hurting him.

The Ferguson thing.

This is not the MLK marches redux. By any stretch.

But it is demagogary amped up.

Some of Darren Wilson's back story for ya?

The ISIS James Foley execution thing.

Big government is too big to succeed.

So says George Will too.


Self-Serving on abortion.

By way of apology?

Blogging thoughts

August 23, 2014

Who is Senate Majority PAC?

Billionaires are donating aggressively to political action committees.  Most of the money is going to progressive liberal supporting PACs, including one called Senate Majority PAC.   These 1%ers support a superPAC that supports Democrats.  If I were part of the supposed 99% I would be questioning how truthful Democrats really are about defending the rights of the middle and poor classes.  It's only logical.  But hey, I don't count myself among them, and I'm not likely going to convince them of anything.

But if you are a conservative, maybe you should consider helping counter these donations.  Obama supposedly won in 2008 on the backs of small donations.  Whether the narrative is true or not,every donation matters when you are up against the likes of Senate Majority PAC.

From their mission statement:
Senate Majority PAC was founded by experienced, aggressive Democratic strategists with one mission: Protect and expand the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate. 

In 2010, the Citizens United decision allowed Karl Rove and a network of Republican-aligned outside groups to raise and spend hundreds of millions of dollars on false negative ads against Democratic Senators and Senate candidates. Democrats only engaged in outside spending in a few races, resulting in lopsided TV advertising that overwhelmed our candidates and contributed to some crushing Democratic losses in 2010. 

Thankfully, we held the Senate in 2010, but in the 2012 election cycle, Democrats faced a similarly tough environment. Democrats faced a tough Senate map: needing to defend 23 seats while Republicans were only defending 10. Only four seats separated Republicans from control of the Senate. And our Senate majority–the firewall against the radical Tea Party-controlled House of Representatives–was under attack by Rove, the Koch Brothers and their allies, who were emboldened by their 2010 successes. 

In the face of that threat, Senate Majority PAC formed in 2011 to make sure that our Democratic Senators and candidates would not be forced to face such overwhelming odds against them again in 2012. Running transparent, low-overhead, take-no-prisoners independent campaigns, we defended Democrats from Rove’s attacks, aggressively contested open Senate seats, and went after Republicans on their own turf. Our strategy worked. Senate Majority PAC’s efforts contributed to an outcome that shocked political pundits: Senate Democrats expanded our majority by 2 seats. 

Now it’s time to do it again. We will hold Republicans like Mitch McConnell accountable for their radical positions that would put tax breaks for millionaires over Medicare for seniors. We will hold them accountable for trying to turn back the clock on reproductive rights and preventing common sense legislation like the Violence Against Women Act. We will hold them accountable for ignoring the science on climate change. And we will protect the Democratic Senate from these radicals and help our Democratic senators keep fighting for middle class Americans.
That's the shrill (and dishonest) tone and an aggressive position to be up against. Make yourself matter.

Romney's right, but don't run Mitt.

Is Mitt Romney thinking of running in 2016, or is this just trying to help the Republican party take down Hillary Clinton, whom almost everyone on the right feels would be a disastrous follow-up to an Obama presidency?  It could be either, but it's just good to see him out there making this point.
Romney, asked about President Barack Obama's foreign policy towards Russia, pivoted to mock Clinton, Obama's former secretary of state, for presenting a literal "reset button" to Russia's foreign minister in 2009. Relations between the U.S. and Russia have since sharply deteriorated.

"I worry about the country," Romney said. "The president got those things wrong. Unfortunately he underestimated Russia. This whole 'reset policy' with Hillary Clinton — smiling ear from ear, pressing a red reset button — I think is one of the most embarrassing incidents in American foreign policy."

In July, Clinton defended the "reset" policy, insisting it worked at the time.

"The reset worked," Clinton said, according to CNN. "It was an effort to try to obtain Russian cooperation on some key objectives while Medvedev was president."
Hillary's simply dead wrong on her assessment and even she probably realizes it.  Kudos to Romney for calling it out.

I don't know that Mitt Romney would have made a good president but America right now needs a CEO type president - one who can make things happen.  Romney certainly would have handled things far better than Obama has done, but that's a low bar.  It's good on him for calling out things like this.  But I think Romney's opportunity is passed.  His effectiveness as a CEO is in question because he's not adapting to new circumstances the way a good CEO does.  It was proved when he lost to Obama by not leveraging the power of analytics in his campaign.  Had he done so, he would be the one facing down Putin and ISIS now.

Perhaps he'd make a good Secretary of something under a different Republican president.

WTF is this all about?

That's Beijing Magazine has published video of a giant screen in downtown Beijing that is broadcasting an endless loop of bad news that has recently unsettled Americans, including the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, and an ISIS militant preparing to execute journalist James Foley. To say the least, it's in questionable taste...
The explanation is actually not surprising when it comes to communist China, or China in general. The typically inward looking nation is not poised to become a global superpower if its inward focus dominates. A video like this reinforces that way of thinking.

Communist Russia used to broadcast only bad news about the west, particularly America on its own newscasts. Propaganda value always trumped truth. China`s communist leaders seem to be following that playbook. The irony is that it reinforces an inward Chinese focus that is a real hurdle to China becoming a major international influence on geopolitics.

And, it's just in really bad taste.

The Truth About The Minimum Wage

A great example of simplifying the message. Via Feeseminars:

Post-War president checks we can go to war?

Let's be clear - I've had it up to here.
I'm starting to wonder whether it's pure coincidence that president Obama is visibly checked out, disengaged and seemingly bored with the presidency.  With ISIL/ISIS ramping up big time and the threat level increasing dramatically and alarm bells being sounded practically everywhere, why the disconnect?

I think president realizes the threat level but because his foreign policy credentials are sinking like a stone, he doesn't want to lose his absolute approval floor. Those have been set in large part by the anti-war crowd.  Realizing this, he might be trying to put pressure on Congress to declare war on ISIS so that he doesn't have to act unilaterally.  Instead he will be forced to act upon that declaration - with no blood on his hands.  And there will be blood - a serious response to ISIS will be messy.

Saturday Learning Series - The First Congress

Continuing the Constitutional History lecture series courtesy of Tom Woods, lecture 11 deals with the first Congress.

August 22, 2014

Guns, guns, guns.

So, I'm a Canadian. I don't have the Constitutional right to bear arms like you in America. It's never really bothered me, because I haven't felt the need to have one. But I do understand and appreciate the notion behind the second amendment, and apparently better than many liberals in the United States.  And regardless of whether or not I wanted to have one, I would be extremely dubious about people trying to roll back a Constitutionally guaranteed right.

The right to bear arms is meant in the context of the framers as yet another check on government power. Yes, in the 1700's they needed guns to hunt. They needed guns for a well-regulated militia. But the entire framework of the Constitution surrounds the notion of checks on government abuse of power. Government cannot be for the people if it comes before the people. I like that. I've never heard it before. I think I'll tweet it. Anyway, the entire document is designed to protect liberty. An oppressive government cannot be fought with wishes, but an armed population would certainly make a government think twice about repealing freedoms.

But liberals will argue that we now have the internet, people can think for themselves (unless they march lockstep with other liberals) and can tweet out the latest government abuse of power (like say in the Ferguson situation). Right. I'm going to allow my freedom to rest on the ironclad foundation of Facebook, Youtube, Instagram and Twitter. Maybe I'm wrong but I'd rather have something a little sturdier backing up my concern about the NSA.

Even if I grant that the liberals are right about social media being a powerful tool (and in many ways it is), I still have a problem with their logic. Riots like the one in Ferguson will not stop because the lack of availability of weapons. On a large scale or a personal scale, if someone wants to do harm or rob a grocery store, not having a gun isn't going to stop them. They can just google how to fashion a weapon out of chemicals.

If guns were to disappear from the face of the earth today, someone would still be murdered by some other means tomorrow. There's chemistry, there's knives, there's clubs, and rocks and bricks and poison and a million other ways for people to hurt and kill other people. You can't ban everything.

Lumberjacks are going to need those axes and chainsaws. Those things could be weapons.

It's not rocket science. If you can't stop every violent problem by restricting guns, then maybe guns are not the root of every problem. Maybe it's part of human nature. Maybe you need to start thinking about banning our DNA. Good luck with that.

Friday Musical Interlude - Pop goes Taylor Swift

Okay, this is catchy.  Not brilliant or innovative, but pretty good.The video is kind of early-days-MTV in style, but the song is unexpectedly better than I had imagined.  It got 20 million hits in the first 3 days and a bit, so she must be doing something right.

August 21, 2014

Thursday Hillary Bash - Not Inevitable. But yeah, inevitable.

How I'd love to believe this to be true, but color me skeptical.
Hillary Clinton is no longer the inevitable next President of the United States, a summertime development that is not unexpected yet still surprises...

...After all, Hillary’s problems aren’t only that Democratic knives are becoming unsheathed. Republicans also sense that, with a mainstream nominee, they might actually win in 2016.

What a difference six months has made. Back then, polls showed Clinton handily beating potential Republican rivals....

...Clinton’s numbers have dropped by 10 or more points, while her three potential opponents have all edged upwards.
Going over the litany of recent mis-steps by Clinton (which oddly included distancing herself from Obama on Iraq), doesn't sum it up for Boston Globe columnist Tom Keane. In his opinion, there's something more to it than just her mis-steps.
More important, I think, is the simple fact that Clinton is back in the public eye again. Many are remembering why they didn’t like her in 2008, when for a time she also seemed like the inevitable nominee. She’s not warm and fuzzy or exciting. She’s of an older generation when many hunger for someone new. She’s part of the Democratic establishment, only reluctantly embracing the economic-inequality issues that so fire up the party’s left wing.
She's not inevitable anymore because her mis-steps and/or reminders have invited potential rivals for the Democratic nominee to challenge her. That makes sense. Republicans too, may not feel so reluctant to run, strengthening the GOP field for 2016 by providing more options for primary voters.

Clinton was never inevitable; 2008 proved that. But you don't need to be inevitable to win. Inevitable has it's own downside anyway. What you do need, is to be better positioned that your competitors. Clinton has that in spades:
Clinton still has the edge on name recognition, access to money, and the makings of a powerful national organization. Even if a number of primary challengers emerge, chances are still good that she’ll end up as the nominee in 2016.
That's about as close to inevitable as you can get. As Keane's article indicates, the only thing that can stop Hillary, is Hillary. The good news is she's done it before and she looks to be almost poised to do it again.

Hey Republicans, get this wrong and you will keep losing

I have been arguing for years that one very important place where Republicans keep getting their hats handed to them by Democrats is in the realm of advanced analytics and data modeling. Modeling has been used to do everything from effectively predicting successful wine vintages without even tasting the product, to predicting which consumers will respond to which marketing offers, to diagnosing disease, to helping Obama maximize his 2012 presidential campaign spending by working the get out the vote effort in key swing districts far more effectively than Mitt Romney did with his campaign.

Advanced analytics represents the future of just about everything. Have you heard the Big Data buzzwords floating around your corporate office? Big data is a marketing term describing basically analytics. I know. I've been working in analytics for over 15 years. There is true power in what mathematics can do. It's been shown in physics, in computer science and other sciences - mathematics is power.

One of the big problems with the GOP, is they are still, two elections of Obama later, slow to grasp this power. They are still working behind the curve. Yes, outreach is important. Yes crafting a message that connects with voters is vital. But without the power of advanced analytics, the GOP is going to keep losing in the key battlegrounds because they don't even know where those battlegrounds are.

I'm not alone in my thinking on this, thankfully. But are the GOP listening at all?

August 20, 2014

Wednesday Warren Warning - What's she on about now?

Elizabeth Warren would clearly make a meddlesome president.  Where Obama sticks his nose into local matters like Ferguson and having a beer summit instead of looking at national and international matters that he's supposed to be focused, expect Warren to follow.

She's stuck her nose into a local(ish) labor dispute.
BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday criticized Market Basket executives saying they needed to realize the impact the company stalemate has had on workers and communities.

“They have shown a real disregard for frankly all that those employees have built up for years and years,” Warren told WBZ NewsRadio 1030. “Until they have the idea that they are part of the community and trying to build something of value going forward, it’s pretty tough to get this one back on track.”
Yes, it has economic impact, but her giving advice to a company in regard to a labor dispute is like Ronald Reagan trying to advise the teamsters how to organize. I take that back - nothing about Warren is anything like Reagan.

Once again she sticks with the "You didn't build that theme". How insulting. Warren, you certainly didn't build it so just shut up and let the two sides work out their differences. You don't think Market Basket wants to preserve their relationship with the community???? Stop trying to dictate things and trying to scold a business that has done far more than you ever have.

Maureen Dowd turns on Obama

I never expected to see commentary like this in the NYT or from Maureen Dowd:
The president who was elected because he was a hot commodity is now a wet blanket.

The extraordinary candidate turns out to be the most ordinary of men, frittering away precious time on the links. Unlike L.B.J., who devoured problems as though he were being chased by demons, Obama’s main galvanizing impulse was to get himself elected.

Almost everything else — from an all-out push on gun control after the Newtown massacre to going to see firsthand the Hispanic children thronging at the border to using his special status to defuse racial tensions in Ferguson — just seems like too much trouble.

The 2004 speech that vaulted Obama into the White House soon after he breezed into town turned out to be wrong. He misdescribed the country he wanted to lead. There is a liberal America and a conservative America. And the red-blue divide has only gotten worse in the last six years.

I suppose as a saving grace for the liberal Dowd, she does ot pin the polarization, any of it (be it political or racial or international) on Obama himself.
The man whose singular qualification was as a uniter turns out to be singularly unequipped to operate in a polarized environment....

Why should the president neutralize himself? Why doesn’t he do something bold and thrilling? Get his hands dirty? Stop going to Beverly Hills to raise money and go to St. Louis to raise consciousness? Talk to someone besides Valerie Jarrett?

The Constitution was premised on a system full of factions and polarization. If you’re a fastidious pol who deigns to heal and deal only in a holistic, romantic, unified utopia, the Oval Office is the wrong job for you. The sad part is that this is an ugly, confusing and frightening time at home and abroad, and the country needs its president to illuminate and lead, not sink into some petulant expression of his aloofness, where he regards himself as a party of his own and a victim of petty, needy, bickering egomaniacs.
I guess those problems are still the fault of president Bush and the GOP or maybe even Putin. Dowd bemoans Obama's actions and style but ends by simply excusing them as not right for the time. Obama is not complicit in Dowd's calculus. Not only are many of these problems explicitly a result of Obama's actions and inaction, he exacerbates them time and again because of those entrenched personality traits.

However, Dowd will continue to turn on Obama because the tipping point has been reached and because those traits will continue to display themselves as the president's certitude that he always does the right thing allows him to continue to do the things that Dowd regrets.

Plus c'est la meme chose.

Just keeping Perry out of the 2014 fray?

When even Democrat operative like David Axelrod are saying how trumped-up the felony charges against Rick Perry are, you know that it's just a matter of revenge or mischief that have brought this inane process forward.  I think it might be more of the latter.  I wrote previously that it's likely to stop him from running in 2016, but with Mitt Romney and others out there stumping effectively for local candidates, perhaps the point is just to keep Perry out of making a difference in Texas, a state which some calculating Democrats seem to think is viable for them in the future. Hurt him now, hurt the GOP now and you're set up better to win Texas in 2016.  Right Hillary?

Yeah right.  But the notion of political mischief is still food for thought.

Dumb NFL decision isn't the first.

The NFL has changed its Superbowl business model, asking halftime musical performers to pay for the privilege to play. It's not the first time the "No Fun League" has made a bad business decision. True, the NFL has made numerous beneficial decisions, but really its success is predicated on having a great product. So why is asking performers to pay to play a bad idea? It's based on a bad premise.

The NFL provides a platform to a performer to reach a billion plus viewers, and there is certainly value in that. So why not capitalize on the value and ask performers a fee to play? Firstly, it's really hard to argue that the NFL does not also benefit tremendously from a half time show that can attract new demographics to watch the game. New viewers, increased potential for advertising revenue and simply a more memorable event (i.e. buzz - remember the wardrobe malfunction?), add up to real incremental value for the NFL.

The NFL decision seems to be premised on the notion that every transaction must be a zero-sum game. No one benefits except at the expense of another. But great halftime acts provide a mutually beneficial relationship. Trying to squeeze performers comes off as petty.

If I were Coldplay or any other potential halftime act for this year or in the future, I would most certainly boycott playing the NFL halftime show. One year of no high profile performer would certainly change the NFL's tune.

August 19, 2014

A tie in the senate may not be so bad for the GOP

By no means am I trying to lower the bar for Republicans here.  A tie in the senate after the 2014 midterm elections is a possibility.  But it is also about the lowest the senate bar could possibly be set for the GOP without actually going beneath the floor.  Even a tie though could have a silver lining for the GOP.  

Of course a tie would mean the VP Joe "foot in mouth" Biden would become the tiebreaker on senate votes.  That  raises the profile of Biden for a 2016 presidential run.  Given that he could be the single worst possible nominee for the Democrats, that alone is a win.  Biden is the most beatable candidate in either party.  If he could squeak out a Democrat nomination that would be highly beneficial to the GOP, increasing their chances of a presidential win significantly.

There's more reason not to get despondent in the event of a tied senate.  If the GOP can stay united and force numerous ties in the senate,  Biden will have to cast a lot of deciding votes. That might serve to enlighten some of the ill-informed electorate who pay little attention to politics.  They might become aware of the fact that it has been do-nothing Democrats in the senate that have been the source of so much gridlock and have been getting their way in the senate for years.  The news will no longer be able to hide how little voting has happened under Harry Reid.

Of course an out of the gate Republican senate passing all sorts of legislation would be a marked contrast too, but the press would no doubt find a way to spin it as an activist senate bent on undoing all the positive change in America.  Good deeds will not go unpunished - sad, but true.  

And a tied senate certainly is not as good as bill after bill hitting Obama's desk to face veto after veto.  Yes, he'd argue he's vetoing bad legislation, but he'd look to be the obstructionist.  He'd look to be the one digging in his heels and not making deals.  But the media loves a tie.  It gives that air of sudden death playoff overtime that makes for a good story.  And in the end, their liberal guy wins, so they'd report on every tie, every time.  And on some subconscious level, slowly, cumulatively people will start to see that Republicans have not been doing nothing all this time.  It's been the Democrats putting a halt to a productive senate.

All the party line votes will at a minimum paint Democrats at least as obstructionist as the GOP.  That spreads the taint of gridlock more evenly.  That too, is a win.  A small win, but a win nonetheless.  Worst case voters cast a pox on both their houses and voter turnout among Democrats gets suppressed for 2016.  

Liberals might howl at the voter suppression angle of that last paragraph.  Tough.  Conservatives have been the victims of voter suppression and phantom voter rolls for decades.  The party that claims to want to rock the vote, only wants to rock their own voters, and works hard to create a distaste for Republican candidates among the Republican base. So don't get all holier-than-thou on us.  We aren't buying it.  Democrats don't want Republican voters to turn out and vice versa.  Voter suppression simply because of voter distaste for their own candidates is not suppression, it's a cold splash of reality.

This is of course all pre-game speculation.  What really will matter in this scenario, or any other if a Republican wins the White House in 2016 is what happens next.  More of the same will be an option for absolutely no one in the electorate.  Bold ideas with a high powered sales job and of course follow-through will be expected demanded.  After eight years of stagnation and a tepid recovery at best, voters will require no less.

August 18, 2014

One by one by one

The non-controversy surrounding Texas governor Rick Perry is the latest in a string of calculated Democrat mud-slinging efforts to tar every possible Republican presidential contender prior to 2016.  Chris Christie and Scott Walker have already felt the bite of unjust charges leveled against them.  The intention is not to bring down the candidate, but to bring down his (or her popularity).  My guess is that next on the list will either be another run at Mitt Romney or perhaps Jeb Bush.

The end goal is perhaps to be able to broad-brush all Republican as corrupt. But even if that doesn't stick, the notion that each contender is corrupt or sinister, makes 2016 easier for Democrats.

There is no other reason for the charges against Perry to have been brought.  They won't stick.

August 17, 2014

Sunday Service

A few Christian themed news items to ponder on Sunday.

Christians being purged.  And ignored.

Christians are being persecuted.

Bibles are back in Navy rooms.

The Pope is in Korea, and urges military action against ISIS.

While Aramaic, the language of Jesus,  is also being decimated.

Related to the Pope's Asian visit, Christianity is booming there.


Sunday Links - Aug 16 2014

Some links to interesting Sunday reads.

Why not Cyprus?

Some Thursday Hillary Bash supplemental stuff.  And some more - Hillary-Castro? Really?  I'm still doing my part to help instill Hillary-fatigue if not ideological antipathy, prior to 2016.

And one more.

Rick Perry felony indictment is a ridiculous non-story, but in defense of Perry, there's this.  Not that Perry needs defending.  He'll do fine defending himself.  Is it time to start taking another look at governor Perry for 2016?

Taking the Hillary-Castro story and the Perry story in conjunction, are the Democrats really targeting Texas? Go for it I say, and spend lots of money trying.  But conservatives, don't assume doing nothing in Texas regarding 2016 is an acceptable response.

Damnit, climate change is real, you stupid idiot!

North Korea can build nukes, but not apartment buildings.  Go figure.

Joe Piscapo done with Democrats?

The Ice Bucket Challenge is working.  Kinda.

ISIS is worse than al Qaida.

Ferguson MO is worse than it should be.

Obama lifts flight school ban. Wait, what?

The Russians are laughing at Obama appointment failures.

Left Coast Rebel.  Just because.

August 16, 2014

Coming soon: Russian December.

It's going to be a Russian December.  Russia has a plan for a peaceful resolution to the situation in the Ukraine, one that works in their favor.  On the other hand, judging by previous slow, unsophisticated and reactive policy decisions, Obama has nothing.

Via Pravda:
Putin will force the West to sit down to negotiate in December, when Poroshenko is no longer able to follow Russia-must-enter-the-war instructions. In winter, sanctions, the economic crisis and bankruptcy, as well as massive riots among the population will make the West take the opinions of the South-East of Ukraine into consideration.
Given that Putin is thinking a couple of months ahead, that puts him in a superior position to his American counter-part, who is about as reactive as you can get.  If this were a chess match, the Russian gambit is heading towards its payoff.  Meanwhile, Obama keeps surrendering pawns with no plan, no vision and he's losing matches in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Ukraine.  Yet somehow he still sees himself as the chess master.

But it's not how many games you play, it's how many you win that matters.

Why John Boehner isn't going anywhere

Conservatives not enamored with John Boehner should realize the importance of money.  And in that regard, Boehner means this:
LINCOLN, N.D. (AP) — House Speaker John Boehner's fundraising skills put him in a class with few others. He has scooped up more than $43 million for accounts under his direct control and helped amass tens of millions more for Republican allies.

The Ohio lawmaker accounts for about one-fifth of the cash collected by House Republicans' campaign arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee. Boehner has written almost $18 million in checks to the group, which has raised $101 million this campaign cycle.

He is spending Congress' August break on a 14-state bus tour to help the GOP hold the majority in the House, appearing at fundraisers for candidates, including one Friday night in North Dakota for first-term Rep. Kevin Cramer.
Money plus hard work means results. Boehner has provided both. That said, the GOP is still trailing Democrats in fundraising.
Even with Boehner's deep pockets and drawing power, the House Republicans' campaign committee lags its Democratic rival. Heading into July, the Democratic committee had raised almost $125 million this cycle and outraised the Republicans in 16 of the previous 18 months.

Saturday Learning Series - State Constitutions

Tom Woods' series on Constitutional History continues, with Part 10 dealing with State Constitutions. This is a continuation of the Constitutional History series from Part 9.

August 15, 2014

A note of caution for conservative voters

Still a big tent or just a bunch of smaller ones?
Perhaps I am getting ahead of myself with this, given that the 2016 election is a long way away. But I think the logic and reason behind this post also applies to the 2014 mid-term elections. Some Tea Party candidates beat incumbents, some didn't. The notion of supporting the better choice, albeit a less than ideal choice in many cases, has merit.

The Big Tent that Ronald Reagan claimed the GOP possessed or should possess, is something conservative voters need to keep in mind. While I'm quite happy to dismiss the MSM meme that there is a civil war within the Republican Party - Establishment vs. Tea Party vs. Libertarians (many of whom do not support the GOP) - there is a cautionary note housed within it.

Should Ted Cruz win the GOP nomination, it would benefit moderate and establishment Republicans to support him over Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren. The same can be said of non-supporters of Rand Paul. But the same is also likely true if Mitt Romney were the candidate. Many die hard libertarians and conservatives could not hold their noses and vote for Mitt Romney, even though he would be a far better choice than Hillary Clinton would be.

Withholding your vote isn't akin to a civil war within the conservative movement, but it does seem short-sighted. Holding out for the perfect candidate is folly, because no such candidate exists, and never has. Allowing socialism to prevail over weak conservatism or libertarianism or Tea Party conservatism, or moderation even, is a poison pill.

Mark 3:25 -- "And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand".

Or in this case, a big tent.  Just saying.

Friday Musical Interlude - Flashdance (but not the one you think)

Today's Friday Musical Interlude comes from Deep Dish circa 2006, the song is Flashdance. But it's not a song from the movie of the same name, it's a catchy dance song by Deep Dish.


Evidence Obamacare will slowly eat you alive

This recent video from the Fraser Institute in Canada shows what Canadians are paying in taxes and have been paying since 1961. What the video does not show you, but it is something that is highly relevant to Obamacare in the United States, is that 1961 is the year the Canadian federal government started paying for socialized health care across all provinces:
Support of public health services was significantly extended through the introduction of a universal hospital insurance program proclaimed in 1959. By 1961, agreements had been signed between the federal government and all provincial governments.

Be forewarned this WILL happen in the United States as Obamacare devours the economy. Obamacare will indeed eat you alive.

August 14, 2014

Thursday Hillary Bash - The Weight of Her Words

John Podhoretz sums up the implications of Hillary Clinton hitting Obama, and hitting hard. Secretaries of State, sitting or gone, do not hit their president like she has. The weight of her words are actually pretty stark:
"Hillary Clinton is the most popular politician in America now...And she has decided, for all intents and purposes, to go into opposition.

That was the meaning of the extraordinary interview she granted Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic over the weekend. It was the annunciation of her separation from you and your legacy...

The key sentence is this: “Great nations need organizing principles,” Hillary told Goldberg, “and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.”
She distances herself from the bad decisions or Syria and Israel pretty forcefully in the interview. She is going on offense against Obama because his job approval in the area of foreign policy has become abysmal. She sees this as an opportunity to hammer a lame duck, with no possibility of any serious blowback. She sees it as an opportunity to elevate her own foreign policy credibility. She sees it as an opportunity to subtly provide an I-told-you-so to 2008 voters about her 3 a.m. call message in the primaries. She is elevating herself at the expense of president Obama at a time when he is down. There is blood in the water and make no mistake, she is a shark. This is an opportunity for her, and not an opportunity to stir up controversy and sell more books (though that may happen to some modest degree), it is an opportunity only because she fully intends to run for the presidency in 2016. If she weren't she would demur on the tough questions. While she might not praise the president for areas in which they disagree, she would at least have the decency to avoid criticism and ride off into the sunset as a not bitter woman.

Nope. Podhoretz theorizes, and rightly I believe:
Last year, when it looked like Obama might maintain his popularity, Hillary was ready to run as his confidant, adviser and friend.

Now, as the world comes crashing down upon him, along with his poll numbers and the increasingly disastrous prospects for his party in the November midterms, Mrs. Clinton has laid a bet.

She is betting she has two years to set herself up not as Obama’s natural successor but as his sadder-but-wiser replacement — the one who saw it go wrong, the one who watched as the mistakes were being made, the one who sought to mitigate or reverse those blunders to no effect, the one best able to take inspiration from a more successful, more centrist Democratic presidency.
The only thing wrong with that is that she's not really a centrist. But hey, what the voters think, is far more important than the truth. That's Clinton 101.

Thursday Hillary Bash - Math

Hillary Clinton is calculating her votes. You can see it in her odd triangulation efforts on the situation in Israel and her criticisms of president Obama, and how that contrasts with her other positions. The Washington Post draws three conclusions (which it treats as observations) from Hillary's latest pronouncements:
"Great nations need organizing principles -- and 'Don't do stupid stuff' is not an organizing principle," Clinton told the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg in a line that surely launched a thousand grimaces (or worse) in the White House. She went on to explain that she doesn't actually believe that statement sums up Obama's entire foreign policy. “I think that that’s a political message. It’s not his worldview," she said. “… I think [Obama] was trying to communicate to the American people that he’s not going to do something crazy."

But Clinton, of course, knew what she was doing -- picking a prominent foreign policy writer to make a pointed critique of the current Administration's policies at the very moment when President Obama's ratings are at -- or damn close to -- their lowest ebb of his time in office. So, why did she do it -- and what does her willingness to so publicly break with the Obama Administration tell us about how she's positioning herself for 2016?
The WaPo claims she's not at all worried about the primary. For Hillary opponents that's good news in my opinion. However, the point that she is thinking about the general election seems valid - she's not worried about Warren and the likes of Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden are not serious political threats. She's aiming for more centrist voters, Jewish voters (see below~) and military hawk voters. She doesn't need to win all of any of those voting blocks but she needs to take away the misgivings of enough of them to be competitive and to add to her voter totals in 2016. To do so she has to prove she's tough. That goes directly to the WaPo's second and third points, that she wants people to believe she'll be ready from Day 1 and that she doesn't always agree with the floundering president Obama.

The timing couldn't be better for her to add her two cents. It's more evidence that Hillary Clinton will indeed be running for president in 2106. It's more evidence she's thinking end game instead of next step (primaries) which was her weakness in 2008. Expecting a coronation is the best way to ensure you don't get one.

NEW YORK –- Hillary Clinton on Sunday offered a “vociferous defense” of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following four weeks of war in Gaza that have left more than 1,900 Palestinians dead.

In an interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, Clinton also echoed Netanyahu's recent claims that journalists didn't tell the full story while reporting in Gaza, an allegation that numerous journalists have disputed.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu said reporters withheld information because of “restrictions and intimidation” from Hamas, the militant faction that controls Gaza and has fired thousands of rockets into Israel. On Thursday, Netanyahu told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that he hoped journalists who have left Gaza can now “report the truth.”
Looks like she's looking at the Jewish voting block to get behind her as well, as they slip away from a comfort level with president Obama. 

August 13, 2014

Wednesdy Warren Warning - Iraq Pronouncement

Some bonus footage as it were on the Wednesday Warren Warning.  Is this nuance or just another example of pretzel logic? Elizabeth Warren stands behind president Obama's decision to conduct air strikes in Iraq but believes a solution to the problem must be a negotiated settlement and not a military solution. Worse, she wants the U.S. to negotiate with terrorists but not be seen to be doing so.

She believes ISIS is a terrorist organization. Warren also believes that the negotiations are necessary but that the U.S. should not negotiate with terrorists. It seems though, that it's perfectly alright to have the Iraqi government negotiate with terrorists, whom she sees the U.S. having their positions in the matter managed by*;
“The point is there has to be a negotiated solution in Iraq, but we don’t negotiate with terrorists,” Warren said. She said, “This is partially a question of whether the U.S. government negotiates or whether we have the Iraqi government doing these negotiations, and how we help support them as they try to maintain an integrated country, and a country that better represents all of the people who live there.”
The distinction between negotiating with terrorists and not doing so but helping Iraq while they do so is pretty much non-existent. But who cares? Warren gets to say all the right things to all the right constituencies and that's what really matters to voters isn't it?

Wednesday Warren Warning - Self Serving on Tax Policy

Elizabeth Warren casts stones at a rigged tax code. On her website she recently posted a blog piece that started with this:
Huge corporations hire armies of lawyers and lobbyists to create, expand, and protect every last corporate loophole.

That's how we end up with a tax code that makes teachers and bus drivers and small business owners pay, but that allows some huge American corporations to make billions of dollars and not pay a single dime in taxes.

Simply put, the tax code is rigged.
She neglects to mention that the tax code is also rigged in favor of unions and other liberal special interests as well. She neglects to mention that the U.S. tax code is tens of thousands of Byzantine pages.

She is pandering to the liberal base by saying that the tax codes need to be fixed. Unfortunately her solutions involve yet more legislation, not simplification, not standardization - just more special rules for special circumstances. And we'll need more auditors and IRS agents no doubt, to enforce the new rules.

Of course the tax code needs changing. But how about something to simplify it and make it harder to cheat, harder to avoid, and perhaps even welcoming in terms of businesses and consumers. How about a simple national sales tax or Value Added tax of some percentage that replaces income tax for both consumers and corporate taxes? Liberal elites like Warren argue that the notion is unfair to the poor because they pay a higher portion of their net income to necessities which means that the tax will hit them harder. But aside from them therefore having some skin in the game (to paraphrase Michele Bachmann), what about the notion of some sort of sales tax rebates for those hardest hit? Nope - not up for discussion. The reason is simple. A Byzantine tax code requires a volume of additional tax lawyers versus a simpler tax code and therefore keeps that industry intact. That serves the political class like Warren far more than it does the under-served she claims to represent.

Streamlining government reduces costs and puts more money back in the hands of voters of every class. Simplify the tax code simplifies life for every American, including the poor and disadvantaged who benefit from not having to jump through hoops for subsidies or who can't afford expensive tax lawyers like elites can.

So who is really benefitting from your political positions Senator Warren? My guess, it's you and your friends. The tax code is rigged, your ilk rigged it Senator Warren, and you seem quite content to keep it that way by keeping voters in the dark about the true situation and the real solutions.

August 12, 2014

Immigration, Crime, Money

One of the things that irks me about the notion of legalizing 8 million illegal immigrants at once is the fact that if even only 0.1% of them are criminals (a decidedly low percentage based on normal rates of criminality), that equates to letting 8,000 felons into the country. That's bad.  But in reality, it's far worse.  Given the felony equivalency of America, that's over half a million felons or potential felons coming in.

If the statistics hold true, and 1 in 15 Americans (yes, I know these people are not Americans but the criminality rate in Mexico and Central America may not be that different if the system and the tracking were up to par with America's) have been to prison.  At that rate 533,333 future prison system detainees.

Too big to succeed

Too big to fail should not only not be applied to big business, but to government as well. The very notion that something is too big to fail is of course laughable. From the Titanic to the Lehman Brothers, examples abound - bigger does not mean indestructible. Alan Greespan once said, "If they are too big to fail, they are too big." Given the miniaturization effort that prevails in many electronic devices, smaller can be better. Some companies grow too quickly or grow beyond what is efficient and then they implode. RIM, with it's Blackberry devices is one example. Just when is too big, actually too big? The answer varies from industry to industry, company to company. But what the free market does with a wicked efficiency is take care of that problem. A company that develops irrational hubris, or a disrespect for the marketplace, will soon be replaced by more responsive customers.

 At least that's what would happen minus market distortions, often imposed by government. Which brings me back to the government aspect of too big to fail. Governmental agencies, from the EPA to the IRS have developed that hubris, and have managed to insulate themselves from the consequences. They are too big to fail, but failure is what culls inefficiency. Government doesn't hold itself to accountability the way the market holds private industries accountable, so they have become not too big to fail, but rather too big to succeed.

Robin Williams, R.I.P.

Robin Williams was a wonderful comedian who will be missed. Setting aside his politics, he was a philanthropist and someone who was able to bring a smile or laugh to so many people. One of my early teenage memories was his stand-up comedy album which came out shortly after his Mork and Mindy breakthrough TV role. While in 1984 he played in Moscow on the Hudson, an ode to American liberty, and it was a wonderful performance, I personally thought in the same period his role in The Survivors was equally moving, if not a little off-beat.

Robin Williams suffered from depression.  If you know someone suffering from it, please give them your moral support.

August 10, 2014

Sunday Links

Short and sweet this morning, mostly without the usual descriptions and/or comments on each link.  Here's some good reads for your Sunday.

Critical thinking - or not:


World view:

Cut and run has its own consequences

It's Obama's world:

Second looks, necessary or not:

The Stopped Clock: Liberals getting a couple of pieces of it right:

Domestic Caesarism? I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him....

August 9, 2014

Saturday Learning Series - The Federalist Papers

Continued from last week's lecture on Ratification, today's lecture via Tom Woods' youtube series covers the Federalist Papers.

Liberals often talk about the Constitution needing updates (president Obama has been no exception).  But often you find they don't even have a solid grasp on the details.  Knowledge is power, so this stuff is very much worth knowing.   That's especially true when you are discussing it with liberals who want to change or undo parts of the Constitution.

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