Real federal deficit

I missed this one back in May. It's an article looking at the federal budget if future liabilities are counted:
"Federal debt and retiree commitments equal $561,254 per household."
Real federal deficit dwarfs official tally –

Obama’s Next Supreme Court Nominee

Fighting Obama’s Next Supreme Court Nominee - By Ed Whelan - Bench Memos - National Review Online

The next nominee will be Hilary Clinton, for two reasons 1) a quid pro quo for Bill's help with the election--my guess is that this was spelled out in advance when Bill stepped up his end of the campaign. 2) Hilary would be a pretty easy confirmation, with the only wrinkle being her side of the Bengazi problems. I don't see that as a deal-killer, though.

Elephant in the other room

Republicans have been focusing today on the need to get Hispanic votes. While that is true, there is another chunk which we should also aim at. Look at these two numbers from the exit polls:

Are you?

               Total   Obama   Romney     
Hispanic        10%     71%     27%

How often do you attend religious services?

               Total   Obama   Romney     
Never           17%     62%     34%

So, Romney got 27% of the 10% of people who are Hispanic, but didn't do much better among the non-religious at 34% of the larger 17% group. If Romney had gotten 5% more of the secular vote he would have added 0.85% to his vote total. Getting 5% more of Hispanics only nets 0.5% more.

Every time Republicans talk values, every time they talk about god, even every time they end a speech with "God bless America," they are turning off a large chunk of population. If we are to go after the Hispanic vote, can we also make an effort to go after the secular vote?

Update: I worked it through with the numbers. Bottom line, a 5% shift of Hispanics would lower Obama's victory margin from 2.8 million to 1.6 million. A shift of 5% of Seculars would lower the margin from 2.8 to 0.8 mil. Doing both would have put Romney in the White House:

(Updated again to add the estimated results if both shift--assuming they are independent groups.)

Polls, and Democrat Turnout

National Polls, State Polls, and Democrat Turnout - By Jim Geraghty - The Campaign Spot - National Review Online

I think one big reason why so many polls have Dems out-performing 2008, is that Republicans have given up on much of the media and simply hang up on pollsters. Thus, the results are skewed towards Dems.

We're kinda blaming you

Althouse has a thread on the creepy video/song supporting Obama 

I wrote this in the comments:
I see a much larger point here that I haven't seen commented on. For a large number of Democrats, their entire rationale for voting is simply this: REPUBLICANS ARE EVIL!! therefore I must vote Democrat.

They shut off venues of Republican speech, because they don't want anyone on their side doubting the simple fact: REPUBLICANS ARE EVIL!!

For many of them--and, yes, that doesn't mean all, or even most--there is no questioning, no studying of issues or economic policies, no struggling with weighty issues. All they really needed to know to decide how to vote was that REPUBLICANS ARE EVIL!!! 'nough said.

How many on the right have had discussions with Democratic voters that went like this: on every point of policy discussion, they completely agree with the Republicans; but, when it comes to actually voting, they would never dream of voting for the GOP. After all, REPUBLICANS ARE EVIL!!!

Many of these are low-information voters, many are Democrats because their friends and family are, some are because the coolest celebrities are. These are the people caught on video this week decrying the awful things Romney has promised to do, only to find out that they were tricked, and that the evil things had already been done by Obama--most spun on a dime and made excuses for their idol. These are people where a single Lakoffian code word is enough to fully persuade them: environment! war! abortion! Obama! 99%! etc.

For a community that parodies Republicans with phrases like "epistemic closure" they are remarkably not self-aware.

That is what is truly on display in this video and song; not the misuse of children, but the mindset that the only thing that needs to be said to convince voters is: REPUBLICANS ARE EVIL!!!
Update (10/29/12): Here's an example of what I mean, not from some  low-info ditz in Times Square, but in the lead paragraph in a story in Salon magazine. Note the line after "malevolent Republican Party":
A few days ago, I participated in a debate with the legendary antiwar dissident Daniel Ellsberg on Huffington Post live on the merits of the Obama administration, and what progressives should do on Election Day. Ellsberg had written a blog post arguing that, though Obama deserves tremendous criticism, voters in swing states ought to vote for him, lest they operate as dupes for a far more malevolent Republican Party. This attitude is relatively pervasive among Democrats, and it deserves a genuine response. As the election is fast approaching, this piece is an attempt at laying out the progressive case for why one should not vote for Barack Obama for reelection, even if you are in a swing state.
 p.s. Also note how, when the author lists his Democratic and progressive bone findes, he includes working for MSNBC.

What's the definition of "is"?

An oil company makes a profit and funnels some of that profit into R&D, or building new drilling rigs, or exploring for new productive wells--if successful, their business will grow, more jobs will be provided, and more tax revenue collected. Because it is choosing to invest the money in the business, instead of taking it in profit, that money is tax exempt. Obama calls this private investment "corporate welfare".

The government funnels taxpayer money, in the form of grants and loans, into "green" businesses--which can't convince private lenders to invest their own money, and thus must rely on taxpayers and bureaucrats instead. Many of these businesses, coincidentally, I'm sure, are headed by major Democratic party donors, who take large salaries and kick back more donations. Many of these companies promptly go broke (proving the reluctant private investors correct in their assessments.)

Obama calls this corporate welfare "investment".

Note: Just to be clear...the word "is" appeared several times in the above paragraphs. "Is," a form of the verb "to be". In the first instance above, it is used with the past participle of the transitive verb "to choose" as a passive-voice auxiliary. In the second appearance, it should be taken to mean that the subject of the clause has the qualification or characterization specified in the antecedent.

Blind man sees!!

Wynn On Obama: "I'll Be Damned If I Want To Have Him Lecture Me" | RealClearPolitics

EPA Recruiting kids for ‘Energy Patrols’

EPA Celebrates ‘Children Health Month,’ Encourages Recruiting Students for ‘Energy Patrols’ at School |

Since earth is nice and brown, I'd suggest having patrol t-shirts made up in that color.

Or perhaps they need cassocks and collars?

If you build it

Obama: "We don’t need to build more highways out in the suburbs."

But a bullet train in the middle of rural California is a nifty idea!!

Follow the money

Now, who could have guessed this?

Matt Damon's Anti-Fracking Movie Financed by Oil-Rich Arab Nation


I just sent this to a friend on Facebook, after she said she almost defriended me over my political posts


I love how liberals are so quick to get mad at anyone on the other side of the aisle. Very few conservatives would have such a visceral and angry response at anything that a liberal would post. Most conservatives do not even contemplate eliminating liberals as friends simply because of their political persuasion.

As for what Romney said, he essentially and completely echoed what the Obama campaign has also said. The Obama campaign spent a great deal of money putting together the "Julia" campaign, showing how much everyone can depend on the government, and celebrating that as the goal of Obama's presidency. Obama sold that dependency as a good thing. In the ad was a woman who could easily have stood on her own, without government handouts--whether it is 9$ per month birth control or education loans which have had the massive side-effect of driving up tuitions to the point where you *have* to take out massive loans to get through college. Stepping through Obama's glorious vision:

3 years old: Head Start has proven in studies to be useless (except as babysitting); students in Head Start show no advantage within a year or two of starting school. We spend close to 10 billion on this useless program every year. So much for using science as a basis for public policy. The science and research on this is clear: Head Start may be a nice sentiment, but it is, in reality, useless.

17 years old: Race to the Top institutes a national curriculum (in violation of at least two federal laws, by the way,) which will inevitably (in my opinion) lead to lowest possible standards--the adaptation of the Common Core actually forced California and Massachusetts to *lower* their standards. As a government and political initiative, the Common Core will be written by the most politically powerful constituents. I'll give you a hint: that won't be parents and students.

18 years old: As for Pell grants, I saw a statistic just yesterday that estimated that only about 40% of recipients actually get a degree—The Pell grant program costs about 30-40 billion a year. Again, nice sentiment, bad in reality.

22 years old: Many colleges, faced with the massive increases in coverage demanded by Obamacare are eliminating their insurance requirements and cancelling their previously-offered policies, as the costs have risen (North Carolina said the costs to the students would rise 51%, from $920 for 2 semesters pre-Obamacare to $1410 post-Obamacare). Most college kids only need catastrophic coverage—such as that which would have covered "Julia's" surgery. Instead, Obamacare has demanded that even 19 year olds get comprehensive, first-dollar heath "insurance", and that they be charged at the "community rate"—in other words, they will be charged massively more than it costs to actually pay for their health care, in order for them—mostly still un- or under-employed young adults—to contribute to the health costs of older, usually wealthier people.

23 years old: I have no objection to equal pay for equal work, but the Ledbetter act wasn't actually addressing that. It was addressing the issue of how much time could elapse between the offence and a lawsuit. As for women being paid less, that's old thinking. In urban areas today, young women are out-earning their male counterparts. When you control for education, for job choices, and for time spent in the workforce, women are paid about the same as men. On the other hand, men receive fewer college degrees, fewer Master degrees, and fewer PhD's than women, and men are more likely to be in jail. Men are often discussed in the media these days as "unnecessary" to modern society, and half the commercials on TV use the stupid-guy idea to sell products. Who is in need of protection these days?

25 years old: Federal student loans are being likened to indentured servitude, as 50+ year olds find themselves still paying off their loans. Many students are snookered into taking out massive loans with little hope of actually being able to repay them. The balance between college costs and the benefits are increasingly tipping against college. Much of this is directly caused by the availability of student loans. Colleges hook students with promises of a brilliant future, don't bother to spell out the costs and the fact that student loans are not dismissible in bankruptcy court, and pocket massive amounts of money—essentially directly from the government. As long as the government pays, and the student doesn't see the true cost for years, the schools can go on hiking up their tuitions year after year after year. Luckily, more students are becoming aware that they are being defrauded and are looking at low-cost alternatives or forgoing college—and more often grad school. Law school applications tanked this year.

27 years old: Birth control costs $9 a month, and if shared with your partner, this goes down to $4.50. As for preventative care, as a young women, right out of college, these costs would be minimal, and should be paid by everyone who can afford them out of pocket. Why send your money off to an insurance company, who then take their cut, just to send it back to the health provider. Much more efficient—and it should be cheaper—to pay the provider directly. (There is no such thing as a free lunch, what you pay in premiums pays your bills.)

31 years old: Part of the decision to have a child is making sure you understand the costs. If you can't afford to have the kid, you shouldn't have it in the first place. This I know from personal experience. I would love, love, love to have a kid, but I have never even been close to being able to afford one.

37 years old: Over the last several decades spending on education has skyrocketed. There has been no increase *AT ALL* in actual student outcomes. Money does not equal results. Increasingly, education money is going to pay the pensions of retired teachers, and not into educating kids. Out here in Los Angeles, LAUSD has been on a building binge, putting up lots of spanking new, beautiful schools—the problem is: enrollment is actually dropping rapidly, and the old schools are half-empty. Literally billions of dollars is being spent on schools we don't need. Throwing money at education has never actually improved anything.

42 years old: The SBA should be abolished! If you have a good business idea, private money would be very happy to invest in it—putting their own money on the line. The SBA goes in when private money passes—in other words, when the investment is a less-good idea. Since they are only gambling with our money, and not their own, the SBA doesn't care if they are making bad investments.

65 years old: Medicare has been around for decades, and prescription drug coverage was George W's program. As for Medicare, it should—like all other government programs—be means tested. The wealthy should not take one penny away from anyone with less money than themselves, *ever*.

67 years old: The majority of young adults are more likely to believe in UFO's than in Social Security, and they are right to do so. Social Security is already spending more money than it takes in, and in a couple years, there will only be two workers paying for each Social Security recipient—there is no trust fund, no lock box, that money was spent long ago. If the system is not dramatically changed—and, again, means tested—it will not exist when we are ready to retire. You can not continue to spend more than you have and expect to keep it up. What can't go on forever, won't.

That's the "Life of Julia" and the Democrats vision for America—willing dependency at every step, instead of independent agency.

The fundamental problem Republicans have been dealing with for years--as have Democrats, only from the other side--is what to do when the clients of government outnumber the people who pay the bills. This is disastrous. When people who pay the bills are outnumbered and outvoted by people who spend the money, deficits and a Greek-style crashed economy is inevitable--it may take time to build up to the crash, but the crash will *always* happen. (I believe we are only a handful of years away from that very crash.) This has always been inherent in any democratic system, and has been warned about by political thinkers for centuries, if not millennia.

To point out that fact is not heinous. To ignore that fact is.

Poll analysis

Demoralized as Hell, The poll the media isn't talking about edition » Datechguy's Blog

I especially like one of the charts at the bottom, which shows how much Obama is leading in various polls, charted against the Democratic party sample in the same poll. So a poll that had Obama up by 3, with a Dem advantage of +5 would appear at the point (5, 3) on the chart. Obviously, there's a strong correlation between Dem advantage and Obama advantage. With Rasmussen's party breakdown now running 37.6% / 33.3% / 29.2% (R/D/I)  that's a big deal, and makes a lot of the polls highly suspect.

Obama has millions followers

Obama has millions of fake Twitter followers

I disagree with their criteria for "fake":
"Fake accounts tend to follow a lot of people but have few followers," said Rob Waller, a founder of StatusPeople. "We then combine that with a few other metrics to confirm the account is fake."
I think a lot of people sign on to Twitter for the sole reason of checking out posts by politicians, stars, musicians, etc. They aren't there to speak themselves, just to read what is being posted by others. This is especially true of politicians--where people want to see what they're saying, but aren't the politician's "friend" and will not be "liked" in return. I can easily see my 80+ year old dad signing on to Twitter for the sole reason of reading a politicians' or campaigns' feeds; but he would never write a tweet of his own, would never gather a single follower, and never go looking at anyone else's feed either.

This criteria is like saying most blog readers are bogus, because they don't have blogs themselves--there is a difference between making and consuming content. You can consume, without being a producer.

Sports Versus Politics

Thomas Sowell thinks we discuss sports more rationally than politics:

Sports Versus Politics

I think there is a very simple reason for this: When talking about sports, we talk about sports; when talking about politics, we talk about how people are talking about politics.

By this I mean, most political reporting is about what the two sides are saying (usually about those bastards on the other side,) and not about what they are actually proposing or have already enacted. This drives me crazy. Most reports follow a format sort of like this: Republicans say that the Democrats have raided Medicare to pay for Obamacare, Democrats say that the Republicans would gut Medicare. Missing, of course, is an actual analysis of the Republican proposals, or an evaluation of the Democratic ones. I often find myself mentally screaming that I don't care what they say, or how clever their turn of phrase was, or how good/bad their political strategy is. I want to know what are they actually doing! But the reporters never get around to such little things as that.

This is just an example from the current debate, but this happens daily, year after year. Reporters are so fixated on the game, on the horse race, on the easy reporting; that they never bother to tell people what is actually going on.

The cynic would say, they don't tell you; because they're liberals; and because, if you were to strip party identification off all of the proposals, people would usually pick the conservative ones. Better not to talk about the underlying proposals then; much better to show how mean and nasty the verbal mudslinging has gotten.

(The punctuation on the second to last sentence is seriously tricky. I'm not sure I got it right, but it took me a while just to come up with that. The proper use of semicolons is a dying art.)

Choosing Palin

Which party is more cynical? | Power Line

Mirengoff has trouble explaining McCain's pick of Palin. I think my first reaction to it, and how I explained it to my sister--who had never heard of Palin--was probably right: she was picked because she didn't have an abortion.


An incarcerated 43-year-old Milwaukee man is suspected of using a van he drove as part of a work-release program to help commit at least four burglaries of Mequon businesses on North Port Washington Road in June and July.
Man, on work release, accused of using jail van to commit Mequon burglaries

Leftists at work

The Olympic tickets fiasco: Bring on the touts | The Economist

Why is it so bad to resell tickets at the price the market will bear? Because low-income people will be priced out of the market, and only the wealthy will be able to attend. So, faced with a choice between filling the stands with people who could afford expensive tickets, and having empty stands, the Olympic organizers opted for the latter.

To a leftist, it is better that we all live in poverty than for the wealthy to have any advantage. All can be equal, but only if we are equally poor.

10 times the cost

A Creative Borrowing Boom: Poway Not Alone in High-Interest Financing - Voice of San Diego: Education

Kevin Kerwin takes a stand

Lake Oswego Biz Owner Gets Slapped for Anti Obama Sign

Any chance this is the same Kevin Kerwin I knew as a kid? 

Good times, good times

Vitucci's gets a write-up in the J/S:

Raising the bar - JSOnline

Obama Big in DC

President Obama is popular in Washington DC:
The president is most popular in Washington DC, where his job approval rating is an astonishing 83 percent.
Wow, that's high. Still, I'm not surprised. Having returned very recently from DC, I can tell you it's a boom town. The empty storefronts you see in the towns I've lived in over the past few years are not present in DC. On the contrary, everywhere there is a feeling that businesses are doing very well. It's a heady atmosphere of wealth and growing prosperity. On street corners everywhere you can see signs advertising newly constructed homes. I think that if the rest of the nation saw how Washington is living large while the rest of the country is hurting, people would be appalled.

Farm Report

Quote of the day

PJ Media » The Three Great Scams of Our Time

Quote of the day:

I have been following the ascent of Barack Obama from early in the Democratic primaries—when he surfed on a wave of clichés, bromides, plagiarisms, gaffes, promises, and outright fabrications to the nomination—up to the present moment when he began to be exposed as arguably the most disingenuous and destructive president in the history of the United States. I found it hard to believe that he had succeeded in conning the majority of his countrymen (and much of the West). True, he enjoyed the material assistance of the consensus media in what was both a massive cover-up of his dubious formative and intellectual influences and an equally massive promotional campaign. Nonetheless, how a largely unvetted nonentity with a winning manner could so effectively beguile even a dumbed-down electorate is nothing short of grotesque.

Fruit of Our Labor

Big elephant

Redshirting: Holding kids back from kindergarten - CBS News

"60 Minutes" did a piece on Kindergarten redshirting. In it, they clearly illustrated the big elephant in the corner, but never overtly mentioned it: every single example they cited was of a boy being held back--not one girl.

It's Dry

It's very dry here in Madison:
Seriously dry conditions have developed over southern Wisconsin during June. Several stations in the south central sections of the state reported the driest June on record. Madison received only 0.31 inches of rain, breaking a 117-year record. This amount was only 7 percent of normal June rainfall. Beaver Dam (0.33 in), Ft. Atkinson (0.42 in) and Watertown (0.50 in) also experienced their lowest June rainfall totals.
I don't remember seeing anything like it. Our lawn is yellow and it crunches when I walk on it. There are tall ugly weeds popping up in the middle of lawns all over town. Our garden is doing ok. We have to water twice a day, but on the plus side the garden weeds have been easy to keep down. I hope it will end soon.

I don't believe it

I find this story "Swiss institute finds polonium in Arafat's effects" highly unlikely:

Traces of the poisonous element polonium have been found in the belongings of late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, a Swiss institute said on Wednesday, and a television report said his widow had demanded his body be exhumed for further tests.

Arafat died at a hospital in France in 2004, after a sudden illness which baffled doctors. Many Palestinians have long suspected he was poisoned.

Darcy Christen, spokesman for the Institut de Radiophysique in Lausanne, Switzerland, told Reuters on Tuesday it had found "surprisingly" high levels of polonium-210 in Arafat's belongings.
The half life of Polonium-110 is 138.4 days.  Which means that between the day he died (Arafat died on 11/11/04) and January 1, 2012, there would have been 18.5 half-lives. Which means that for every million atoms of Polonium that might have been on Arafat's belongings when he died, only 2.5 particles would have still existed at the start of the year. I don't know the lag-time between the tests and the announcement, but if they tested it after the first of June, that would have dropped to 1.2 particles per million.

Needle, meet haystack.

Happy Birthday

Happy First Birthday to my littlest sweetie-pie.
How lucky I am to be your dad!

Calling a Tax a Tax

I think Roberts' decision is well thought out and the right one. He called a tax a tax. Yes, the administration tried very hard to present the "mandate" as anything but a tax, but a tax it is. I don't see this as any new power for the Federal Government either.  If the Feds hike everyone's taxes by $700, then provide a $700 tax credit to those who buy approved health insurance, the effect is exactly the same as putting a $700 tax on not-buying insurance.  Surely the Feds have the constitutional power to do the former.

I have seen a lot of posts on conservative blogs calling the mandate "a huge tax increase on the middle class" and saying how the mandate represents a new and crushing power of the government to run every aspect of our lives.  It's nonsense.

In a characteristically fine essay, Charles Krauthammer states:

I think the “mandate is merely a tax” argument is a dodge, and a flimsy one at that. (The "tax" is obviously punitive, regulatory, and intended to compel.)

I disagree. I find Roberts' analysis convincing. Essentially, since the tax is small in relation to the cost of health insurance, it is not punitive. See here. See also here.

Obamacare Upheld

The supreme court today upheld the constitutionality of Obamacare, under the power of the Federal Government to tax.

I think this is a HUGE win for the president.  Folks over at Althouse's blog though are saying that it is not, that taxes are unpopular and so this will be a political negative for Obama.  Yet very few people will end up being taxed.  If you have health insurance, you won't pay the tax.  If you are one of the 50% of Americans who pay no taxes, or pay negative taxes, I'm sure you won't be paying the tax either.  No politician will go along with a "tax on poverty."  Credits and deductions will be used to negate the penalty.

Insurance rates will skyrocket. People who have no insurance now won't buy it until they get sick. They won't pay the tax either.  The cost will have to be passed on to the people who do buy insurance before they get sick, i.e. essentially the 50% who pay taxes.

A law for everything

Washington Inmates Banned From Making Sexy Outfits for Female Prison Guards

These people are already in jail, under guard, and can't do much of anything until ordered to do why in the heck couldn't this have been dealt with using prison disciplinary procedures? Why raise the issue to the height of a law?

Go Huell!

An article about Obama at Occidental: Self-Made Man

This article does Huell Howser wrong! The critical point to understand about Huell's involvement in the video, is the fact that Huell can spend half an hour being absolutely fascinated and engrossed by anything! Huell is a California institution. He goes around California with a camera man, heads for sites both exciting and mundane, and spends half an hour making you think even the silliest, stupidest, most boring site is simply fascinating.

I've watched him clomp through a forest so that he could stand on the actual border between California and Oregon! Wow! And by the time the half hour is over, he's made you want to go there too.

I've seen him go to a shell factory--a place where a single family harvests shells and cleans them out for sale as decorative items--and make it sound like you'd want to invite the family over for barbecue next weekend.

 Here's the summary from a full hour-long episode of his show. Because it's Huell, he really can make this special:
California's Gold #1 - California Aqueduct Special

In this special one-hour episode of California's Gold, Huell takes a look at the California Aqeuduct. Constructed in the 1930s, the Colorado River Aqueduct is considered one of the greatest engineering projects in the world - bringing water to thirsty Southern Californians across over 200 miles of barren, remote desert. Starting at Lake Havasu, we trace the route the water follows through huge pipes, tunnels, canals and pumping plants. Along the way we meet the men and women who are carrying on the proud MWD tradition of bringing water to Southern California. 
It sounds so thrilling! And yet, if you came across it on the TV and didn't keep flipping, you would actually spend an enjoyable hour--in large part because Huell is just so gosh darn fascinated by everything!

Did I mention he's  not actually from California, and does his shows in a heavy and slow Georgian drawl? I love the guy.

France is clueless!

France is going bankrupt, it's increasingly uncompetitive, the government is too big and spends too much...but they go and do this:

French president cuts retirement age
Workers who entered employment aged 18 will be able to retire at 60 rather than 62, under the decree agreed at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. 


The case that started the hysteria over child abductions has now been solved, 33 years later. The Etan Patz case began the media saturation of child abductions, and, along with that theme recurring almost nightly on prime-time television, led to a distortion of reality. Despite our fears, only 115 children are kidnapped by strangers each year. The majority are returned home within a day; only 50 are murdered or are never found. To put that in perspective, you have a greater chance of being struck by lightning than your child has of being the victim in a "stereotypical" (really, atypical) kidnapping. We don't walk around with lightning rods on our heads (at least most of us do not,) but we lock our kids away, imprisoning them at home, keeping them under constant supervision, stunting their emotional and social development, all in fear of a minimal risk.

Leonore Skanazy (Free Range Kids), Etan: The End « FreeRangeKids:

Readers – As I'm sure almost all of you have heard, there has been an arrest, 33 years too late, of a man who confesses to murdering Etan Patz.
In the wake of 6-year-old Etan’s 1979 disappearance came the era we are living in to this day, the “Don’t let your child out of your sight, he could be snatched like that little boy” era. It’s an outlook reinforced daily by the media (“Up next: Children at risk!”) and the marketplace (“Buy this! Your children are at risk!”). It has been embraced by schools (“No walking allowed! Your children are at risk!”), and day care centers (“We have cameras everywhere. Your children are at risk!”), and by the law (“No letting your kids wait in the car. Your children are at risk!”). In short, the fact that we can see Etan even with our eyes closed has allowed the fascism of fear to flourish.
Knowing how he died provides cold comfort. I’m also not sure there’s any way to make a murder “meaningful.” But it does make me want to take action. For the sake of the next 33 years’ of children, I want to help our culture regain  its perspective. We remember this tragedy more than a generation later precisely because things like this do not, thank God, happen all the time. We cannot raise our children as if they do. And we can’t organize our lives around avoiding random, rare, heartbreaking events. Lisa Belkin makes this point movingly in her Huffington Post piece today.
Let me repeat the words another writer sent here a few weeks back: Fear does not prevent death. It prevents life.
Let’s not prevent it in Etan’s name anymore.

Flick the switch!!

For my brother:

The part I remember most starts as at about 4:45.


Chinese send children to U.S. colleges

Chinese communist leaders denounce U.S. values but send children to U.S. colleges - The Washington Post

Where, if the schools have anything to say about it, they will be perfectly safe from learning anything about American values, while constantly hearing praise for the values of their Chinese masters.

She’s an Indian too

She’s an Indian too | Power Line

Cover blown for politics

Valerie Plame could not be reached for comment.

The PJ Tatler » BOMBSHELL: Al-Qaeda Infiltrator was Working for Brits not CIA, Cover Blown for Election Year Politics

Julia Remix

If I had the cartooning ability, I'd redo Obama's Life of Julia like this:

Born into a wealthy family, Julia attended the best schools, including a boarding school. Being taller than average and very athletic, she excelled at sports.

She attended the all-women Smith College, where she earned a degree in English.

After graduating, she worked in advertising and news.

She left her post-college jobs to join the US spy agency. She was posted to Sri Lanka and China. She earned a meritorious service award for her work.

She met and married a fellow spy. After they both left the agency, he took a job in the foreign service in France.

Without a job of her own, Julia attending Le Cordon Bleu cooking school to learn the art of French cooking.

When she and her husband returned to the United States, she began teaching French cooking to others and co-wrote the seminal modern cookbook.

She moved from small cooking classes to television, where she created the seminal food television show.

Having become the founder of both the modern cookbook market and the televised cooking, she became an icon to foodies everywhere.

She continued to make television programs and write cookbooks all of her life.

Her kitchen is now an exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum.

She did all of this without a single government handout.

Warren's G-G-G Grandfather Rounded Up...

...Cherokees For Trail of Tears

Thanks to Breitbart and Legal Insurrection for this one. It's one of the funniest things to come out of politics in a long time:

Elizabeth Warren Ancestor Rounded Up Cherokees For Trail of Tears

I bet right about now Warren is hoping to be judged, not by her ancestry, but by the content of her character. Her problem is, it's her character that's under scrutiny--for having claimed such a tenuous link to Native American heritage in the first place.

Lessons learned

EPA Official Armendariz

“You hit them as hard as you can, and you make examples out of them, and there is a deterrent effect there. And, companies that are smart see that, they don’t want to play that game, and they decide at that point that it’s time to clean up.”

Or, they decide at that time that business would be better in Mexico...or Brazil...or Canada... And the US is out another business and several hundred jobs.

Earl Scruggs

Would there be bluegrass as we know it today without Earl Scruggs?  I doubt it.  He was a truly innovative virtuoso. Rest in peace.

“Burn This City Down”

Angry over steps being taken due to a financial emergency in Detroit, New Black Panther Party leader Malik Shabazz declared he would burn the city down.
I have to wonder...who would even notice? Lost Detroit:

Formerly the Detroit Public School Cass Tech

Kudos to Cameron!

Wow, this is amazing.  James Cameron went down alone to the bottom of the deepest part of the ocean.

(National Geographic pic)

I have long marveled at the feat of the Trieste team, who went there 50 years ago.  Nobody went back, until now.  The Trieste adventure was way ahead of its time.

Is it possible that in 7 years, a person may take it upon himself to go back to the moon, 50 years after the Apollo landing?  How cool would that be!

Human Powered Flight

My belief that this is fake is exceeded by my wish that it were real.

Ann says: The video in this link has died, but the Huffer Post is reporting that the guy that made the film is admitting it was a hoax.

The woolly mammoth video from a couple weeks ago really had me wishing it were true too...even when it was a much more obvious fake than this video.

Heath care financing

I got a bit worked up over on Facebook over the post of this picture, posted by someone with the organization name "Americans Against the Tea Party", but linked to by a high-school acquaintance:

My initial response was:

Buy your own d*&^ birth control. What people are pushing for isn't reproductive rights; what they want is to take money out of other people's pockets to pay for their sex life. Pay for it youself [sic, unfortunately]!!"

To that, the usual high-level, high-culture liberal argumentation began: I was asked, literally, and I do mean literally, whether I knew what an org-sm was, then accused of wanting to put women in prison for menstruating. That was actually the answer I got. Since this walking brain also mentioned taxes, I ignored the sexism of her response and responded with a lengthier:

Did I say taxes?

What do you think insurance is? Everyone puts in their money, and the people who need it get it...and it was supposed to be people who NEED it--like people with chronic conditions, accidents, serious illnesses--not just people who want their bills managed by someone else.

What I really, and I mean REALLY don't get, is why people think it is more efficient and will cost less to hand all health care money to a bureaucracy--whether a private insurance agency or the government--then have that bureaucracy take their cut, paying for their salaries, offices, training, pensions, outreach/advertising, etc. instead of simply paying for the regular yearly costs--check ups, the occasional ear infection, routine preventative exams, etc., out of pocket and then leave insurance to be INSURANCE--meaning shared RISK.

There is no RISK involved when everyone gets a checkup--no one has a mega-expensive, bankruptcy-threatening annual physical (I'm perfectly willing for there to be a Medicaid-style program for the people who really can't even afford this.)

The current problems of insurance-distorted pricing--where no-one knows what the real cost of anything is, because there is so much dealing going on between insurance companies and providers--would be solved by the simple expedient of requiring there to be a single published price for any piece of health care (preferably set by the provider.) Knowing the price beforehand would allow consumers to price and quality shop on their own. A much simpler, more-efficient, and more-cost containing system than building an insurance bureaucracy to ride alongside the health care bureaucracy.

At that point I was accused of wanting to run away with newt [sic] to the moon (this was, I believe intended to be sexually suggestive) where we wouldn't have to pay for anyone else's anything.

Keeping a relatively level head, my response was:

It's a waste of money to pay insurance for routine health care (or dental care.) It's much more efficient to stream-line it and pay the provider directly. The indirect route just lets an intermediary take their cut. What is the point or the benefit of that? If someone truly can't afford it, that's one thing. Yes, let's help them. But for people who pay for health insurance, or get it as part of their pay package, it's really dumb to have a first-dollar, third-party health-care payment system. Let's have insurance for things that actually are shared risk, and pay directly for the normal, routine stuff.

Since I'm two time zones to the left of this brilliant debater, they may have gone to bed...or they may have just shut up...or plugged their ears. Regardless, no additional "argument" has yet been posted. Still, I couldn't leave it there...First I posted this:

Is your best argument really that I'm a newt-effing rich b*(&^%?

Then sat down and went on for a while...

Here's a hypothetical, let's say you have two relatively-healthy, middle-income, middle-aged women. Neither has any major medical condition nor do they get into an accident (those things would require real insurance, not first-dollar health-care financing.) They simply have the usual annual costs for health care; they get mammograms, maybe birth control, they get dental check-ups twice a year, occasionally they might have a rash or a minor infection that needs a cream or Z-pack.

Now let's say that the cost of their annual health care is roughly $1,500.

Woman-A buys an insurance policy that covers the first-dollar health care. For her, she gets $1,500 in care, but she also has to pay the overhead of the financing system. She's paying for the person at the financing company who receives the bill from the provider, the person (often an expensive nurse) who checks to make sure it's a valid health-care expense, the accounting department which keeps the balance sheets and cuts the checks, the lawyers to handle lawsuits, the underwriters who write the policies, the marketing department that sell the policies, the managers who keep everything running (or crashing), and the suits who take long vacations on islands in the Caribbean. Now, according to Obamacare, insurance companies are required to spend at least 80% of their revenues on actual health care, but get to spend 20% of their revenues on all of this overhead. So for $1,500 in reimbursements to health care providers, they will actually spend $1,875 (0.80 * X = 1,500. X = 1,500 / 0.6 = 1,875,) or $375 extra on non-medical payments. Since Woman-A is paying for all of her insurance, she is paying all of this, and the extra is reflected in her nice, big premium payments.

Now, let's look at Woman-B. She pays all of the costs out of pocket, she simply hands over the $1,500 directly to her health-care providers. She's done, and she's spending $375 less than Woman-A. Her lower costs are also reflected in her, cheaper, premium payments.

Now, let's reverse the question. Let's say each only can spend $1,500 on medical expenses. For her money, Woman-A has to pay 20% of the $1,500 to the financing agency, meaning she can only get $1,200 worth of health care. Woman-B, on the other hand, gets to spend $300 more on actual health care. She could choose to spend this by going to a better doctor, getting her mammogram at a more-convenient facility, getting a DNA test for BRCA genes...or, she could just keep the savings.

Which system is preferable? A wasteful system where an intermediary gets a cut of every health-care dollar? Or a system where most every-day expenses are simply handled between the patient and the provider without extra overhead? Which system would be cheaper for the country? And, which system would be more-likely to keep costs in check? One where the actual customer/patient doesn't notice how much something costs because they're only paying for it second-hand through their financing premiums, or one where the customer/patient is the one cutting the checks?

As a final point, all of this would be true whether the health-care financing agency is government-run or privately-run. The overhead is still there, and is still unnecessary.

I guess I probably overdid it, but I'm sick of letting this stupidity go unchallenged.



Presidential Embarrassment about Gas - Victor Davis Hanson

The only reasons Obama is embarrassed about fuel, are because, despite his best efforts, we're drilling more oil and gas out of the ground than ever before, and the high gas prices (or is it low dollar) are undermining his re-election hopes.

If it weren't for those two things, he'd be thrilled with low supply and high prices.

How do you talk to such people?

One of my flaming-liberal friends posting this tonight:

Taken in order:

    • The pre-existing conditions system in the act is so bad, they had to shelve it. Yeah, that'll work.
      Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius decided to pull the plug on a long-term care insurance program seen as a budget drain. She also decided that Washington would not dictate a basic health benefits package for the country, allowing each state to set its own, within limits.
    • Affordable care act "Makes health care more affordable for small businesses". Hello? Is that why so many of them plan to ditch their company-provided health care and dumping their workers in the state exchanges?

    • I'm sorry, but 25 year-olds are ADULTS!!! The sooner they take responsibility for themselves, the better. Prolonged adolescence is a cancer on our age, cutting off our most-vibrant talent from actually making a contribution to our world.
  1. In other words...he's following that idiot Bushitler's time table. Big deal.
  2. "Free preventitive care". Oh, the problem is preventitive mammograms, stool tests, and treadmill tests...Nothing to see here...move along.

    Meanwhile, the new puritanism is alive and well. Our way, or no way...we can have the stake and tinder ready in an hour....So, you have a moral issue with paying for birth control...tough patooties. We dictate, you obey. End of discussion, compromise, etc.

    How about we treat adults like ADULTS!!! You want to work your way through 1,000 condoms in a year, be my guest...just pay the bill yourself.
  3. ...and his position on gay marriage is what, again? Hmmm...anybody? No hands? Really? And the fact that his stated position on it is identical to the hated Bushitler? Nothing to see her, move along.
  4. Solyndra....Fisker Karma....Chevy Volt....Yes, thank you O-man for taking money from productive people and pouring it down the rabbit hole.
  5. More flexibility, my fat ^&&! He's locking the entire education system in to a sub-standard curriculum which will put even the best US math minds two years behind other developed nations by 8th grade. Wooo Hooo!!! The Common Core is a pathetic and ILLEGAL attempt to dictate to every school district what they should be teaching. My state of California actually had to dumb down their math standards by a full year to adopt the CC. And the Education Department is forbidden by three separate laws from attempting to enforce curriculum standards.
  6. Please....tell me what the fair share is...and then tell me the repercussion of that number? Taking money from people who invest nearly all of their money in stocks, bonds, venture capital firms, or real estate development--tell me, is that a good idea, or a bad idea? Their money doesn't grow on trees. Taking it from one place does not make it magically appear somewhere else, as if it's free money. What are the consequences of taking all of that money out of the private sector and handing it over to the government? Already, our high capital gains and business taxes are driving companies off shore. How many more have to leave before "social justice" just looks like shared poverty.
  7. Can I just laugh at this one... one of the lowest employment rates in history and the most-prolonged jobs recession...but it's really not his fault!!! Hugs and kisses big-O we love you!!! **swoon**

Fukushima aftermath

Fukushima Health Impact: Minimal? -- WSJ Some good news:

Of the first 10,000 people exposed to radioactive plumes in the wake of the Fukushima accident—those assumed to have the highest levels of radiation exposure—only 73 had exposure higher than 10 millisieverts.

Average annual background radiation is about 3-4mSv, in Denver that rises to 1.8 (and oddly Boston hovers around 1.0.) The world leader on background radiation seems to be Iran, where in one town, Ramsar, annual background radiation of 130mSv or more have been measured--the population there appears to be healthy. So, the workers got about as much exposure as people in Boston do in 10 years. Not bad.

The strangest line in the piece, though was this one:

In comparison, the half-million workers who entombed Chernobyl had average exposures more than ten times as high.

It's not the radiation dose that caught my eye, but the idea that it took 500,000 people to drop concrete on a single site. How could it possibly take that many people?


I am waiting for my lunatic leftist friends to begin gloating over Breitbart's death. I expect it to be horrific.

If only this were a month-early April fool's joke which Breitbart was using to smoke out the depravity of the left.

Africa's Rise

Africa's Amazing Rise and What it Can Teach the World - G. Pascal Zachary - International - The Atlantic

Let's hope this continues and continues to expand. Having rapid growth when you're starting near zero doesn't mean much. It will take decades to pull Africa out. The key is to keep despotic governments at bay and to move from strength to strength. Right now, the greatest chance of sabotaging this growth lies with Africans themselves. All continents have faced the same pressures. The countries that move up and out of poverty are the ones that keep despots out of government. That was true in Europe (Spain, Greece offered as counter examples), Asia (almost everyone for decades), and Central and South America.

Education "reform"

Solyndra is their el Guapo


DOCUMENTS: Lightsquared Shaping Up As The FCC’s Solyndra. I think we’re going to find that every federal department has its own Solyndra.

Why does this remind me of...

...In a way, all of us have an el Guapo to face some day. For some, shyness might be their el Guapo. For others, a lack of education might be their el Guapo. For us, el Guapo is a big dangerous guy who wants to kill us.


I’m OK–You’re OK | Scott Johnson | Power Line

"Mitt is an inspirational candidate. The problem is that what he inspires is intense apathy..."

Lovely quote.

Duck Duck Go

I don't know why exactly, but I really like their logo:

Interesting privacy points here.

The site itself of course is here.

From Lindstrom MN

Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It -

You don't see a Lindstrom byline very often!

Unfortunately, the article's a piece of &^%$

And here's Powerline's take on the same piece.

Fauna of Madison

I took this picture while driving down Highway 14 outside of Madison. Why?
A blow-up explains it:

As they say in the bird books, "unmistakable"

Poor Tink!

Sad eyed greens bemoan Obama energy remarks « Hot Air

I love this quote:

The pouting continues for some time, going on to blame the GOP for “hyperventilating” and “pounding the administration” over the failures at Solyndra. (Apparently things at the solar panel plant would have been just fine had it not been for you meddling conservative kids, Shaggy.) He then goes on to re-run the mantra that solar, wind and geothermal are ripe and ready to solve all of our problems if only Obama would act “forcefully and decisively” enough. (I assume some amount of clapping until Tinkerbell comes back to life will also be involved, but the author doesn’t specify.)


Some numbers:

$22,050Poverty line for a family of 4.
$ 5,048Earned Income Tax Credit for family of 4 making $22,050
$ 3,000Estimated annual Food Stamps for Family of 4 making $22,050 ($250/month)
$ 1,080School lunch benefit @ $3/day for 2 kids and 180 school days.
$ 7,951Average employee contribution to health care for family of 4 (Medicaid benefit)
$39,129Total effective income of family of 4 with $22,050 in wages.

And that's not counting eligibility for Section 8 housing vouchers. (The program has waiting lists and can be hard to get into.)

So, a family of 4 making $22,050 can have an effective income of 77% more than that amount, or $17,000 more. In fact, the median household income in the US is $31,111, so the "poverty line" denotes families which can make $8,000 more than the median.

Winter Is Here

Baby doesn't mind the cold...

Inmate Hid...

Cops Believe North Carolina Inmate Hid 10-Inch Revolver In His Rectum. Luckily, It Was Unloaded.

You know, I don't believe it. This is a case where the simplest explanation is probably the right one. Which is more likely, the above scenario or that the jail was lazy, that everyone who checked him in assumed that the other guy had taken care of the search, and that the thing just slipped through the security system?

Copyright form mail

I wrote both of my senators and my representative about the copyright bills now before the Congress. Here's Diane Feinstein's response:

I received your letter expressing opposition to the "Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act," commonly known as the "PROTECT IP Act." I appreciate knowing your views on this matter.

The "PROTECT IP Act" (S. 968) gives both copyright and trademark owners and the U.S. Department of Justice the authority to take action against websites that are "dedicated to infringing activities." These are websites that have "no significant use other than engaging in, enabling, or facilitating" copyright infringement, the sale of goods with a counterfeit trademark, or the evasion of technological measures designed to protect against copying.

The bill does not violate First Amendment rights to free speech because copyright piracy is not speech.

America's copyright industry is an important economic engine, and I believe copyright owners should be able to prevent their works from being illegally duplicated and stolen. The protection of intellectual property is particularly vital to California's thriving film, music, and high-technology industries.

I understand you have concerns about the "PROTECT IP Act." While I voted in favor of this bill when it was before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I have also been working with California high-technology businesses to improve the bill and to address the concerns of high-tech businesses, public interest groups and others. I recognize the bill needs further changes to prevent it from imposing undue burdens on legitimate businesses and activities, and I will be working to make the improvements, either by working with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) or through amendments on the Senate floor.

On May 26, 2011, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the "PROTECT IP Act" for consideration by the full Senate. Please know I will keep your concerns and thoughts in mind should the Senate proceed to a vote on this legislation. As you may be aware, Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) has introduced similar legislation, the "Stop Online Piracy Act" (H.R. 3261), in the House of Representatives.

Once again, thank you for sharing your views. I hope you will continue to keep me informed on issues of importance to you. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841.

Wishing you a happy 2012.

Sincerely yours,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

Is this the best ski season ever?

Skiing: Is this the best ski season ever? - Telegraph

So that's where all the snow has gone! With the kids getting a 4-day weekend this week, we usually go skiing. But all the snow seems to be falling in Europe instead.

Jobs Machine

Dan Mitchell at his "International Liberty" blog showed a graph charting education spending with achievement of 17-year-olds since 1970. The original graph was from a blog post by Andrew Coulson at Cato's "Cato@Liberty" blog. Here's the graph:

The steep blue line represents all education spending. The flat little lines at the bottom shows the percentage change in achievement. For all the spending, we got bupkis...except for the steep dotted line. That's the percentage increase in the number of education employees.

The bottom line numbers are:

Spending on Ed: +140%
Math scores: 0%
Reading scores: 0%
Science scores: -3%
Ed Employees: +75%

Our schools are the same or worse, but they employ more people than ever. Increasing proof that the national education system isn't about education, it's a jobs machine.

(Cross Posted from Square Dots.)

Haker Park

Haker Park - Located at 4335 South 36th Street (3.25 acres) - Visit Our Parks - City of Greenfield, Wisconsin

It's about 6 miles northwest of Mitchell airport. I had no idea that there was a Haker Park in Milwaukee.