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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

PATRONS

"If a patron buys from an artist who needs money, the patron then makes himself equal to the artist; he is building art into the world; he creates."
Ezra Pound

Sistine Chapel
Every time someone comes up with a piece of junk or something deliberately shocking and offensive paid for by the National Endowment for the Arts, the cries to defund the NEA arise again. And the response is always the same: "Who cares if its unconstitutional, we need art in our lives and this makes sure we get it."

The argument is predictable: if we rely only on the market for art, we'll get market-driven art. We get Justin Bieber rather than Led Zeppelin. And there's some merit to this argument. After all, the British Invasion of blues-driven rock in the late 60s was largely driven by state funds which allowed musicians to work on their art rather than a job.

Then again, no one paid Nirvana to take heroin and put out music, and they along with a handful of musicians like Guns 'n' Roses in the late 80s transformed music and re-energized a dulling, increasingly corporate endeavor.

There was a time, however, when art flourished, and when nearly every single great work of art produced was done and there was no taxpayer money involved. That time was the era of patronage.

Patronage worked like this. Let's say you're King Eustace the Oblong and you want other kings an nobility to take you seriously. You went out and got a great young artist and moved them to your palacial grounds, paid for their food and supplies, and bought what they produced. Your pet artist could put out music or poetry or sculpture or other arts all they wanted and their expenses and some money for fun was all paid for. You could command them to produce a piece of art if you wished, but they were largely left on their own.

What they produced on commission you would own, but the rest of the art was just a testament to how enlightened, artistic, sensitive, and wonderful a person you were. Each piece of art they made was partly made by you, because you kept the artist around and paid for them. Without a patron, chances are the art wouldn't be done, so that reflected well on the patron and gave them glory.

Almost every single work of great art produced before 1900 or so was done for a patron. It showed distinction, class, and style to have a great artist around. You could show them off and anyone who loved their art also loved you for it.

It wasn't only kings that did this. The Sistine Chapel roof was done with the Roman Catholic Church as a patron. Rich merchants and wealthy ex soldiers who brought home loot would patronize artists. Operas, books, paintings, stained glass windows, architecture, all of it was done through the patronage system.

And what would revitalize art today is the same thing: a system whereby artists are sustained and driven by private billionaires rather than government tax dollars. Governments are non judgemental. Patrons will demand excellence. Few if any patrons would support or encourage an artist who put out a picture of the virgin mary with elephant dung on it. All that "shock value" art and crap that we are burdened with would fade away if these alleged artists weren't able to suck on the taxpayer teat for their livelihood.

The problem is getting this started. The only reason it started up to begin with was that a few very far-seeing and brilliant nobles and clergy saw the value in supporting the arts. Once that happened, it became fashionable, and everyone wanted an artist in their household. And that's the only way it could start again, for the super rich and culturally influential to start doing it again.

All it would really take is for someone very popular and influential to start it up and others would follow as an effort to seem just as important and significant. President Obama, for instance, had a perfect chance to start just such a thing up. His bumping around in the Hamptons, incredible popularity, and cultural significance in 2009 gave him a perfect opportunity to start up patronage. Of course, he's a hard left academic so he thinks government should do it all, so that wasn't going to happen, but that is the sort of person it would take.

Once the system took off, it would be pretty self-sustaining, with artists being kept by the very wealthy, and promoted by their money and cultural power. And maybe we could get some better art out there, again.

Until then, all we're going to get is trash, part of it subsidized by the government.

WHAT A PRESIDENT CAN DO

“It’s a strange way to respond to rising gas prices"
-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Every presidential election I repeat the same complaint: they all run on what they would do if they could mind control congress rather than as president. Presidents cannot pass legislation or create new law, so any promise, platform, or idea based on that is for congress, not the president do decide.

To be sure, the president has some power initially based on his popularity and the mood of the country to get some things done in congress. For the first year or so, congress plays along with the president, at least if they are the same party. But they do so out of willing agreement, not because he has any power to compel them.

However, that's not to say they president can't do anything. Michelle Bachman recently claimed that elected, she'd get gas prices down to $2 a gallon, something we haven't seen since 2009. A lot of commentators mocked her for that, but the truth is, the president could do an awful lot to help that happen.

For instance, President Obama after the Deepwater Horizon oil leak effectively banned all drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. As soon as he took office, the president immediately reversed a Bush decision to allow drilling for oil in much of the US. The president also has canceled many drilling permits, has slowed the process of getting new ones (something even President Clinton called "ridiculous"), and while some exploratory drilling has been allowed, the president continues to block new production.

Meanwhile, the agencies and various governing bodies of the executive department under the president are following through on his policies by making business in general, but energy production in particular, more difficult. Its virtually impossible to get a new permit to drill for oil - Senator McConnell claims its easier to get a heart transplant than a new coal permit. In some states have already imposed an effective cap and trade scheme which raises costs for energy production and proposed pollution rules would make refining and other energy production even more expensive. All of which raises fuel prices.

Now, a lot of the gas price problem is out of the president's hands, such as turmoil in the middle east, legislation, and disasters that slow production. But there is a lot he can and is doing to make prices go up - and by contrast would make them go down if reversed. Down to $2 a gallon? Who knows, but when President Bush announced he'd allow more drilling in 2008, gas prices plummeted.

Gas prices aren't the only thing the president directly affects. Businesses are very skittish about the future because of the behavior of Democrats in congress (particularly the Government Health Insurance Takeover Act, which no one knows the full impact of, only that it will raise costs for business). But they're made even more skittish by the antics of the regulatory agencies under the president. Every few weeks another regulation is announced that will cost even more money to do business.

Just this week, the president announced seven new rules that businesses estimate would cost more than a billion dollars a year to comply with. I've written several times about various regulations and their burden on business, and its hard to keep up with all that's being piled on.

President Obama promised, several times, that he'd drive energy prices up and shut down coal production, and he's doing his best to make that happen. As a result, unsurprisingly, energy prices are going up. Food prices are going up. Transportation prices are going up. And the result is that businesses are struggling, have to raise prices, and are not hiring.

Business sees this as incredibly hostile and destructive to the economy. They don't trust congress, and they know that they cannot trust the president. As a result, the mood of the country follows and the president of the united states is single handedly slowing business and damaging the economy through attitude and action. In essence, the president is a one-man stagflation machine through executive order and regulatory changes.

In other words, jump starting the economy could be as simple as a new president. Replacing President Obama would send a signal that things are different and we have a change that will make the climate less hostile. Reversing the hundreds of new, onerous and damaging regulations that President Obama's administration has shackled business with would make a tremendous difference as well.

There are things the president can and must do to reverse this course, create growth, and get people jobs. They aren't things that a Democrat would attempt - new spending won't help, new laws won't help, and top-down control will not help. But they can be done. Getting government off the back of entrepreneurs and businessmen would make a tremendous difference.

Right now, the economic mood in the US is like an overburdened horse being loaded up with more stuff, then the owner beating the horse for slowing down. They're blaming the horse when they're the ones making this happen.

What I'd like to see is better evidence that at least one of the GOP candidates understands this. Its fine and dandy to wave the constitution around and complain about debt, its great to see them make noises about cutting spending, but that's not going to do the job. They have to make it clear that they understand what's causing the problem and commit themselves to fixing it.

PICTURE OF THE DAY

MagazineAnd yet they charge 5 bucks a copy or more, and claim they are having problems making money.

Quote of the Day

"It is said that power corrupts, but actually it's more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power."
-David Brin

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

STOP CRYING

"Who stands to lose from a couple of six-year-olds selling lemonade?"

Another kid's stand was shut down by bureaucrats, this time an iced tea stand in Massachusetts.
There's been a lot of shut down lemonade stands lately, and while I've written about a few, I haven't gotten them all. Forbes has a roundup of these stories:
And they missed a few. If there is anything utterly American it is the lemonade stand, with a little kid selling cold drinks to passers by for a few pennies. The idea is iconic and every time I see one I buy a glass just to give the kids encouragement (and its usually really good to drink, too). They're rare, though. Most kids are busy playing video games or browsing on the internet and don't have any ambition to make money or sit at a booth for hours. If anything we should be encouraging kids to do more of this, not cracking down on them with the full force of the law.

So why on earth is this happening? A few weeks ago I had a quote of the day that went like this:
"The political classes may be a lot of things, and they believe themselves to be many things, but one thing they will not accept under any circumstances is being irrelevant."
-William L Anderson
The truth is, for agencies such as the various commerce and market bureaucracies around the world, taking action justifies their existence. They are around to control business and the economy, they only exist because the government feels the need to be in charge of this area. Someone working for government is going to be the last person to admit that they might not be necessary; that would damage their budget, maybe even cost their job.

I suspect strongly that these sorts of regulatory and control agencies tend to attract the sort of person who wants to control everything and everyone. You don't get The Dude from Big Lebowski working at the Food and Drug Administration, you get Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter.

These sort of people cannot let something slip by or go under the radar or it threatens their existence and importance. The more they have power over and act upon, the more important they, and their agency becomes. The more important they become, the more money and power they get.

The truth is, this is a perfect example of the death of wisdom. Instead of understanding that regulatory agencies exist to stop misuse, fraud, and wrongdoing, they take the letter of the law and apply it injudiciously to all circumstances. The law says you have to have a license and fill out forms to open up a food stand of any kind and size regardless of age and so that means everyone, including you, 12 year old girl. Stop crying, lawbreaker.

Wisdom would understand the difference between a weekend of a kid with a pitcher of lemonade and a new restaurant opening up, or even a food truck. Wisdom would distinguish between a kid's little temporary stand (shutting down when the pitcher runs out) and the latest Starbucks opened on the corner.

Yet lawsuits make this distinction difficult to hold to. If you get a bellyache after drinking Johnny's Ice Tea, you won't sue Johnny - there's no money in it. You sue the city; and the city lawyers advise that its better to just shut down these things so there's no exceptions than face some jackass with another lawyer. All it takes is one miserable wretch who claims he got sick from a lemonade stand and wants a billion dollars to ruin it for everyone.

And ultimately, entrepreneurs challenge the left's ideas. A single, solo, unfettered businessman means there's someone, somewhere not being controlled and commanded by the wise, enlightened glorious commissars who run the government. You can't allow any exceptions on the way to the utopia that socialism will bring us all (no really, honest, this time it will work!). Its hard to avoid the impression that the fact that the lemonade stand is so very American does not offend this sort of person.

A kid who grows up thinking he can make money without the help and control of the government is one more kid who thinks socialism isn't necessary and good. That simply cannot be. Best to crush their spirits before they get too far. Get in line Johnny. Stop crying, Rush baby.

Finally, there's the hideous specter of cronyism involved. These stands tend to set up in high traffic areas; near events, special shows, fairs, and so on. Now, if you run an event or are a business that's in the event, the last thing you want is competition. No corporate juice factory can compete with a cute little kid selling lemonade for 25 cents. Not only is the kid able to operate at a loss with his parents subsidizing the whole affair, but he has no expenses. That simply cannot be allowed.

And when businesses work with government to create laws, they do so to crush potential competition. Its no problem for the latest Nabisco restaurant abomination like Olive Garden to comply to regulations that are applied if they help write the regulations; they'll be a step ahead and every restaurant in the chain will be set up for it. Little Cristina on the street is not so lucky, so when overzealous agency drone shows up indignant at the little jerk stepping out on his own, Cristina doesn't stand a chance.

Stop crying. You're getting in the way of progress.

OILY POLITICS AND YOU

"They can’t get the climate science right, but maybe they can get the politics right."

Last Friday I expressed the opinion that President Obama was likely to block any tar sands pipeline despite the need for cheap oil from friendly nations and the jobs it would create. Now, it turns out that he's going to okay the pipeline, but there's a catch. Professor Jacobson explains at Legal Insurrection:
But don’t get your hopes too high. This all could be an election cycle head fake, because State Department approval hardly ends the matter:

The project still must clear several hurdles, including endorsement by other federal agencies, additional studies, public hearings and consultation with the states through which the pipeline will pass. But all signs point to the Obama administration approving the project by the end of the year, perhaps with modifications.

My prediction? Final project approvals will get delayed until after the 2012 election
As John M Broder and Clifford Krauss explain in the New York Times, there are all sorts of environmental impact studies, public hearings, meetings with states the pipeline passes through, and various agencies have to give approval as well. That could easily stretch far beyond 2012, when President Obama doesn't have to worry about reelection.

The president has already demonstrated he doesn't really care what happens to congressmen as long as he gets his agenda passed, so cutting off the pipeline because it was discovered to be too dirty or had too much local opposition would be easy to do, if reelected.

So don't expect to see any of that oil coming into America any time soon. Its not like Canada won't be getting that oil out of the ground, they'll just sell it to someone else in the meantime, like China. So there's no environmental victory here either way this goes. Just a kick in the teeth of Americans who want cheaper gas. That's what nobody in the environmental movement seems to comprehend, or at least care about.

CONGRE$$

"Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have."

Congressional Money
US Congressmen want to raise their pay. A congressman in the United States earns $175,000 a year, plus lavish benefits including free travel and a huge staff, health club, and so on. Compared to what they made before getting into congress, that's probably not real great pay. Consider the case of Representative Steve Southerland (R-FL), who left his family business where he earned $900,000 a year to become a congressman. He complains that the pay isn't really that great when you look at the hours you put in:
Southerland told about 125 people in an auditorium at the Westminster Oaks retirement community, "If you think this job pays too much, with those kinds of risks and cutting me off from my family business, I'll just tell you: This job don't mean that much to me. I had a good life in Panama City.'

"...He added that 'if you took the hours that I work and divided it into my pay,' the $174,000 salary would not seem so high."
Representative Sean Duffy (R-WI) complained that he could barely pay his mortgage on this money. His complaint is confusing, given that he made about $154,000 the year before he went into congress, which means he got a pay raise. Duffy is one of the poorest congressmen. In the Senate the average net worth is $13,989,022 and in the House the average is $4,670,831.

Yet its difficult for people to feel a lot of sympathy for someone making that kind of money when the average income for working Americans is about $50,000 a year, and for all Americans (including non working) around $30,000.

Here's a rundown of the benefits congress enjoys:
  • After 5 years, congressmen get full federal pension and retirement benefits.
  • They get federal health care benefits, which while not free are very lavish.
  • They have up to 18 staff members paid up a maximum of over $150,000 a year.
  • They are able to mail anything for free that is not "laudatory and complimentary" to the member, or mail related to a political campaign.
  • All telephone and communications services, internet, cell phone coverage etc is paid for.
  • All domestic travel is free.
  • Foreign travel for specific work-related trips is free.
And their pay goes up every year based on cost of living, unless congress specifically votes to not get this automatic raise.

Now, I agree that if you're a millionaire already this isn't going to look like much, but the truth is congressmen are like any rich and powerful person in that they don't really have to pay for much. Having a congressman eat at your restaurant is a big seller, and it would be difficult to turn down a free meal even if it might technically be illegal. Lobbyists have been busted over and over giving things to congressmen.

Being in congress means deals and opportunities will arise for you that you cannot get any other way, and analysis of congressional investment suggests they are getting information and tips that no one else enjoys.

The bottom line is that these guys are very well compensated and they want more. Even during ripe economic times and a lower debt level this is asking a bit too much but now, its almost criminal to even consider it.

Congress should be going the other direction. Lower staff pay, lower their pay, cut back on benefits, and show the American people they understand seriously what needs to be done. Austerity begins at home; congress wants to move the other direction. The fact that they'd even consider bringing this up shows how unserious congress is about the debt and how out of touch they are with Americans.

PICTURE OF THE DAY

Who?
Who am I?
  • This is my High School Graduation picture
  • I was born in South Africa
  • I'm in Snow White
Answer after the break

I'm Charlize Theron, star of some of the biggest movies in the last 20 years.

Quote of the Day

"The problem is... if we secure the border, then you all won't have any reason to support 'comprehensive immigration reform.'"
-President Obama

Monday, August 29, 2011

GIBSON NEWS

Fascists Kill Gibson
Woodie Guthrie is rolling over in his grave.

SELF INFLICTED WOUNDS

"At least Dukakis looked like he was having fun in the tank"

Readers here should know I'm no big fan of President Obama's politics and ideas. At the same time, I feel for the guy sometimes. Hurricane Irene was sold as this gargantuan doom that was going to obliterate the east coast, then it petered out to the weakest possible hurricane in short order and faded away to just a mean storm.

President Obama, eager to stay on top of the problem and differentiate himself from President Bush, preemptively declared a state of emergency in several eastern seaboard states before the hurricane even reached Florida. He created a special storm response office and had pictures taken of himself at the desk looking busy and important. See, I'm proactive, I'm a leader!

Obama
Now people are wondering if this isn't President Obama's Dukakis-in-a-tank moment. I've noticed in my own life and watching sports that sometimes it seems like people get into ruts where everything they do just turns out wrong. They just can't get a break, and you feel bad for them.

President Obama seems to be in one of those ruts, but you know, a lot of the problems he's facing are his own fault, and its tough to feel too much sympathy for someone like that. I mean sure, that bullet hole in your foot really hurts but if you're the one that pulled the trigger...

THE NEXT GENERATION

"You used to listen to tapes on this thing?"

Freshmen
Just in case you don't feel old this morning, think about this: the internet as we now know it is older than college freshmen starting this year. Every year Beloit College puts out their list of things incoming freshmen aren't familiar with, and this year's list includes:
  • The only significant labor disputes in their lifetimes have been in major league sports.
  • Major League Baseball has never had fewer than three divisions and never lacked a wild card entry in the playoffs.
  • There have nearly always been at least two women on the Supreme Court, and women have always commanded U.S. Navy
  • American tax forms have always been available in Spanish.
  • Women have always been kissing women on television.
  • Video games have always had ratings.
  • Refugees and prisoners have always been housed by the U.S. government at Guantanamo.
  • They’ve always wanted to be like Shaq or Kobe: Michael Who?
  • Sears has never sold anything out of a Big Book that could also serve as a doorstop.
Here's something to consider: the war on terror officially started in 2001; an incoming Freshman was 8 when 9/11 happened. Kurt Cobain died before they were born, a figure like Buddy Holly to them. Desert Storm is a prehistoric event, in the distant past. America has pretty much always been in Iraq to these kids. There have always been cell phones the size of a deck of cards. They think Seinfeld is old and has only ever existed in reruns. To them, TLC is like the Supremes, an old group. Gangsta's Paradise is old school rap to these kids. MTV has never been a music video channel to them. You could always get songs off ITunes.

As I get older, its tougher for me to keep that perspective in mind. But it does help me place things into better perspective. When I was born in 1965, WW2 had ended 20 years earlier. For some kid born today, that's like Desert Storm to them. For a college freshman, that's like the Vietnam War - its ancient history.

And here's the most significant thing in my mind: Music went from Swing to psychadelic by the time I was barely out of diapers. For them it went from... well it really hasn't changed much, other than adding autotune into most songs. And that's really sad.

FORMAT RADIO

"Overall, it's probably created better programming for the listeners"

Raised On Radio
While I'm not as worked up about corporations and filled with conspiracy theories about radio companies taking over all over America, I do have a problem with corporate radio. Small, independent stations tend to be significantly more adventurous, unique, and will tend to play music that you don't hear on the corporate stations.

If you listen to the radio much - and fewer people do these days, I suspect - you tend to hear patterns such as contests, special shows, and the way people present their station no matter what the format is. I vaguely wondered why it was done that way, but wasn't interested enough to really think about it much.

Steve Carney at the LA Times explained why recently, and it has something to do with ratings:
Incessant repetition of the station call letters, so Arbitron listeners couldn't possibly forget where their dials were tuned. Or starting a contest at 7:25 a.m., so the station would get credit in the diary for both the 7:15 and the 7:30 quarter-hours. Or having promotions reach a crescendo toward the end of the survey week — which ran from Thursday to Wednesday — knowing that many diary keepers would procrastinate until then to fill out all their entries.

"People were programming for Arbitron, and for diary recall," said Mary Beth Garber, executive vice president of radio analysis and insights at the Katz Radio Group, a media marketer. "It's good to have a measurement where you're not relying on what people perceive."
The new system used for ratings, the Portable People Meter (PPM), is not a favorite of identity group advocates. When it was first tested in various cities, they quickly found out that a lot of genres and stations that were rating high with Arbitron were not actually being listened to as much.

What the PPM revealed is that people were listening to ethnic and hip hop stations much less than they claimed (possibly out of some sense of loyalty or hipness) and much more to talk radio, country, and other less hip sorts of music than they wanted to tell anyone. The presumption based on Arbitron diaries was that women listened to radio more than men, so programming matched that, which was foolish - most women will tend to be more contentious and dutiful about filling out a diary than men, which will over-represent them.

They also found out that people were more likely to listen to radio in the afternoon than morning, but that people were more likely to fill out a diary in the morning but not while busy in the afternoon, skewing the data as well.

These shifts upset some people such as President Obama and House Minority Leader Pelosi (D-CA), because it moves perception away from favored groups (women, minorities) but radio stations tend to prefer the more specific, accurate data. The only concern is that the number of PPM out there aren't very many, so they might not give very appropriate information. The other concern is that some groups might not be trustworthy with the devices (such as very poor or gangbangers) so they will not be represented well, either.

But the shift in formatting is the most important, and useful, information for me. Radio stations who recognize the data they are getting will tend to run less rigid, formatted patterns to maximize Arbitron diary results and focus more on getting you to listen to them right now. Something I'd do as a station is run fewer blocks of ads and spread them out more over the hour as an experiment. Will people put up with an ad every 2 or 3 songs rather than 6 ads every 20 songs? Will they change stations looking for music while KADS is running yet another used car ad and find my station playing music, then stay? Its worth an experiment, at least.

And I'd love to see more variety, experimentation, and creativity in radio, because its gotten pretty stale at a lot of stations.

PICTURE OF THE DAY


If cats were street bums

Quote of the Day

“I found a solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against my mother’s race.”
-from Dreams of my Father

Friday, August 26, 2011

TWO STINKERS

"What happened to your face?"

I wasn't feeling so great yesterday again, so I spent more time on the couch watching TV. I saw two lousy movies, but after watching them I liked each one. The first was The A-Team. I never have been an A-Team fan, I thought the show sucked worse than the Dukes of Hazzard even when I was young and it was running on TV. I didn't expect anything out of the movie, which probably made it seem less awful than it could be.

I wouldn't say A-Team was a good movie, it was worth 2, maybe 2 1/2 stars. But from reviews and comments I read online I expected it to be a horrible movie, and it wasn't. I enjoyed it more than the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie. I suppose not having any sort of attachment to the television show allowed me to watch the movie as it was rather than how it differed from the show.

Sure, they should have kept the van, and sure the movie had some plot holes (how was it that the supposedly brilliant leader who was always 3 steps ahead couldn't tell he was about to be wiped out by the CIA boss at the lake?). But it was entertaining and kept my interest. There were no moments I wanted to fast forward through the movie, and that happens a lot (such as in some better movies, like Inception).

For those who complained it wasn't enough like the TV show and ruined the entire concept: get a grip, the TV show was horrible.

The other movie was Jonah Hex. Now, this starred Josh Brolin, who is about as evil as they come in real life, given his political efforts to destroy America and corrupt every actor to a idiotic leftist worldview. And the movie was really difficult for Hollywood and probably a lot of viewers to pin down. It had its plot gaps too, and the big enemy's weapon wasn't just goofy but felt more like Wild, Wild West than anything else. At least there wasn't a gigantic mechanized steampunk spider. And yeah, the technology was just absurd; I liked the sight of a horse with twin gatling guns but that stretched the limits of credibility beyond talking to the dead to me.

But it was entertaining, and kept my interest. And there were plenty of "hey that was cool" moments in the film. Jonah was crusty and bitter and hard as titanium nails, and it was nice to see someone really cut loose without getting all misty eyed and worrying about their feelings. The movie was pretty quick and to the point and enjoyable.

Both movies totally bombed in the box office, they were panned by reviewers. I'd give them the same kind of rating, nothing terrible, but nothing really impressive either. I just expected them to be horrible but they weren't really.

REGULATORS RIDE!

“In periods of high unemployment, an increase in labor demand due to regulation may have a stimulative effect that results in a net increase in overall employment.”
-assistant EPA administrator Mathy Stanislaus

President Obama in July spoke to various hispanic groups including La Raza and he said something very true which I agree with:
“I know some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own… The idea of doing things on my own is very tempting. But that’s not how — that’s not how our system works.”
The problem is, they were just words. President Obama then turned and did exactly what he reassured these people he would - and could - not do. He ordered ICE to not deport illegals unless they are heinous criminals or serious troublemakers. Not that they were doing much of it to begin with, but this is exactly what he said he'd not do: bypass the law to implement his own ideas.

This isn't new. President Obama has for his entire term of office so far been bypassing congress and violating the system he spoke of in July. Here's a breif rundown of the executive branch gone wild:

  • The EPA classified milk as oil, which requires dairies to build special containment facilities and have special environmental hazard cleanup equipment on hand, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Milk technically contains some oils, and that was good enough for EPA head Lisa Jackson.
  • Push for the Food Safety Enhancement Act which passed, requiring farmers to grow crops in "sterile areas, surrounded by 450 foot buffers, so that they are not exposed to other vegetation, runoff water, birds, beasts, or wildlife of any kind."
  • Require all farms to create and implement "food safety plans" which are subject to warrantless searches at any time by the EPA under the same act.
  • Plan on implementing new dust reduction standards which would cripple or bankrupt many farms and ranches
  • Set up a scheme that pays farmers to stop growing food and plant trees on part of their land instead
  • Propose a new requirement on boilers which would cost an estimated 800,000 jobs by crushing and shutting down businesses who cannot afford the changes
  • Classify burning woody biomass from the forest floor the same as coal and under the same restrictions, even though if left to rot on the forest floor it emits the same carbon
  • Permit the sale of up to 15% ethanol in gas blends, which car manufacturers note will damage and destroy existing car engines
  • Attacked Libya without congressional approval as the War Powers Act requires

Oh, but there's more. The EPA, frustrated by congress refusing to implement the "cap and trade" debacle is simply imposing it on their own:
The new rule has been in development for several years but the first phase of compliance hits utilities in 2012. WPS [energy provider Wisconsin Public Service Corp.] said it won’t have time to install pollution controls by next year at its plants, but will be able to comply by purchasing credits from other utilities that have cut emissions.
In other words: you buy carbon credits to make up for your emissions over a certain level which is exactly what cap and trade consists of.

All in all, regulating agencies have seen their budgets grow by 16% under President Obama, so far. regulators have hired more than 3% more workers than the rest of the federal government, already the fastest-growing sector in the economy.

According to Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), in this year alone, nearly 350 new regulations have been imposed, costing $65 billion in total costs. So far. In one month alone the Obama administration piled almost ten billion dollars in red tape on businesses. And as John Merline notes in that article, they're just getting started:
And much more is on the way. The Federal Register notes that more than 4,200 regulations are in the pipeline. That doesn't count impending clean air rules from the EPA, new derivative rules, or the FCC's net neutrality rule. Nor does that include recently announced fuel economy mandates or eventual ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank regulations.
Supposedly when Barack Obama filled in for a real professor in constitutional law classes, he'd skip the parts about separation of powers. Apparently he found them annoying and in the way of real change and a fundamental transformation of America.

These agencies are not elected, have near-absolute power, and are nearly unaccountable. As Mark Steyn puts it in After America (courtesy Right Wing News):
In such a world, there is no “law” — in a sense of (a) you the citizen being found by (b) a jury of your peers to be in breach of (c) a statute passed by (d) your elected representatives. Instead, unknown, unnamed, unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats determine transgressions, prosecute infractions, and levy fines for behavioral rules they themselves craft and which, thanks to the ever more tangled spaghetti of preferences, subsidies, entitlements, and incentives, apply to different citizens unequally.
President Obama has already been held in contempt of court by a federal judge for blatantly violating the constitution and imposing his own will through the executive branch agencies. The law? Who cares. Separation of Powers? Whatever. Constitution? Well it was wrong anyway. President Obama has a higher calling, a greater source of power - himself.

I apologize for hammering this nail again, but this is something that needs to be repeated across the nation as often and insistently as possible until the next election when we can do something about it. If we don't, well I do not suppose there's much future for the nation as we know it.

And people wonder what the Tea Party Movement is so upset about.

WORD AROUND THE NET


"One of the nice things about being rich is that money can frequently shield you from the consequences of a weak character and bad decisions"

Textbook Breakdown
Remember the Unabomber? Well he has an acolyte (other than non-Christian, non-conservative Norwegian shooter Anders Breivik). Law enforcement has tracked five bombs sent to nanotech engineers and scientists by the group calling its self "Individuals Tending Toward Savagery." So far only two people have been injured, but the group is still out there, fearful of nanotechnology and potential for technological viruses and dangers of science fiction scenarios. These guys are the opposite of Glenn Reynolds and some others who seem to think nanotech is the salvation of mankind.

Billionaire Warren Buffett gave leftists a lot of glee by writing an article all about how he'd love to pay more taxes and that the federal government should ratchet taxes up higher. According to the IRS, however, Buffett isn't actually paying all the taxes he's supposed to right now:
According to Berkshire Hathaway’s own annual report — see Note 15 on pp. 54-56 — the company has been in a years-long dispute over its federal tax bills.
From 2004-2009, Buffett's company has paid less than its owed taxes and is working with the IRS appeals system to get more time and find a way to pay less. So while he might write about paying more, the man's company is trying to pay less. Its hard to take a man's word when his behavior is the opposite.

According to environmentalists, getting oil out of tar sands is so dirty the US should block a proposed pipeline that would create 12,000 jobs and send 900,000 gallons of oil a year to the US from friendly Canada. That wouldn't stop Canada from getting the oil, mind you. It would just stop the US from buying it - China or some other country would buy the Canadian oil. In other words, as Walter Russell Mead puts it:
Greens are asking President Obama to take a job killing stance during a time of high unemployment that won’t help the planet.
And he's just the man to agree.

So far this year, the growth reported by the US federal government is 1.3% 1%. The last quarter growth was downgraded twice, and I wouldn't be surprised if they did it again. I just wonder: what would the growth level look like if they used the same method today as they did in, say, 1939? The same thing for unemployment and inflation? Because like sports, if you don't compare eras with the same calculation, how can you really know the records?

Wisconsin's battle between unions and the state government is over now. The unions lost their fights, lost money, lost court battles, and spent a lot of political will and energy in the process. In the end, the state won and schools won. George Will runs down the results, and points out the real reason the unions fought so hard:
Teachers unions can no longer bargain to require school districts to purchase teachers’ health insurance from the union’s preferred provider, which is especially expensive. This is saving millions of dollars and reducing teacher layoffs. Also, unions must hold annual recertification votes.

And teachers unions may no longer automatically deduct dues from members’ paychecks. After Colorado in 2001 required public employees unions to have annual votes reauthorizing collection of dues, membership in the Colorado Association of Public Employees declined 70 percent. In 2005, Indiana stopped collecting dues from unionized public employees; in 2011, there are 90 percent fewer dues-paying members. In Utah, the end of automatic dues deductions for political activities in 2001 caused teachers’ payments to fall 90 percent. After a similar law passed in 1992 in Washington state, the percentage of teachers making such contributions declined from 82 to 11.
This was never about quality of education or saving teacher jobs, in fact if the unions had gotten their way, teachers would have had to be fired. It was about money and power for unions, and the loss of their membership and influence. Now able to buy cheaper insurance, school districts are able to save money and keep teachers and services. Teachers not forced to join and stay in unions tend not to, since they gain little from their dues and see no reason to be part of one. And in all of that, the Democratic Party loses because the unions were a steady stream of support and cash to the party.

Hurricane Irene is working its way up the east coast of the United States, and every state along the way is preparing or enduring the storm. North Carolina Governor Pardue has declared a state emergency, and because of a law passed a few years back, made it illegal to carry a concealed weapon east of I-95. She's not making this happen, the Democrat-controlled state legislature made it happen with N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-288.7, as the Confederate Yankee points out. All I can say is an emergency or disaster is the last time you should even consider taking gun rights away. Pack a holster and pistol in plain sight, that's legal nearly everywhere in the nation.

Phyllis Schlafly has a few sobering thoughts on food stamps under the Food Stamp President at Eagle Forum:
35 states have abolished testing of how much money people have. The food stamp program has become a magnet for abuses and absurdities. The number of food-stamp recipients has soared from 26 million in 2007 to 44 million today, and costs have risen from $33 billion to $77 billion. The U.S. Department of Agriculture now has only 40 inspectors to oversee 200,000 merchants that accept food stamps.
Like the FCC which has scant personnel to oversee large areas of the country, the D of A has more people than ever in America's history to try to check on, and states are making it easier than ever to get food stamps. In the past, shame and a sense of dignity would prevent millionaires from even considering food stamps, but these days?

Attorney General Holder has demonstrated abundantly that he views his job not as one concerned with justice, but one concerned with social justice - that is, addressing perceived former grievances to balance the scales and help out disadvantaged minorities. So he sues Arizona for trying to enforce federal laws, blows off voter intimidation by blacks, and goes after inspectors general for doing their job because it hurts an Obama buddy. And as Hans VonSpakovsky notes at Pajamas Media, he's packing the Department of Justice with radicals just like him. Well you can't have those pesky whistle blowers who don't see things your way, I guess.

Not content to rest on its business and agriculture-destroying laurels, the EPA has been busy with utilities. A recent report states that new rules would increase utility rates by double what the EPA estimates - almost 7% more a year. The EPA claims these changes will clean up the air and save money in welfare and medicare claims, but there's no evidence that supports their claim. In fact, the air pollution scare has been pretty well debunked by recent studies.

Created in 1913 The US Department of Labor was intended to oversee unions and businesses to ensure equity and fairness, justice and ethical behavior by both parties. Under President Obama, it seems little more than an arm to defend, support, and assist the preservation of unions. The latest move by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis is to redefine "employer" to exclude unions. Don Loos explains at Big Government:
When the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) passed, Congress defined the term “Employer” very broadly as “any employer or any group or association of employers engaged in an industry affecting commerce … an employer within the meaning of any law of the United States relating to the employment of any employees.” (Emphasis added)intends to exclude all labor unions from the definition of employer, no matter how many employees the union has. There is one exception to DOL’s proposed rule, and that is that if the union is trying to organize employees of another union or influence its own employees, then the word “Employer” would pertain to union bosses.
In other words, if unions hire or employ anyone, they wouldn't be defined as labor. Its going to take years just to undo all the damage this administration is doing at the executive level.

While some states such as Texas and Wisconsin are adding jobs rapidly under Republican governments, states like Illinois are hemorrhaging jobs under Democrats. At the Illinois Policy Institute, they note:
Illinois lost more jobs during the month of July than any other state in the nation, according to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report. After losing 7,200 jobs in June, Illinois lost an additional 24,900 non-farm payroll jobs in July. The report also said Illinois’s unemployment rate climbed to 9.5 percent. This marks the third consecutive month of increases in the unemployment rate.
The recent plunge started January 1, 2010, the very moment the state's tax increases went into effect. Its almost as if the Laffer Curve is real or something.

Every year, Seattle has a "Hemp" Festival allegedly glorifying the wonders of this 19th century material, but is actually just a pot festival. The cops have always just ignored the place, and since the King county officials have made it clear they won't prosecute pot possession charges, there's no point busting anyone there anyway. A Seattle Times reporter went there and showed how absurdly easy it is to get a medical dispensation to buy marijuana. And that's the whole point of the "medical" marijuana movement, it has nothing to do with any medicinal benefits of the drug, its just a back door way to get it legalized.

The Department of Health and Human Services has put out a new guide on sex and kids, and among their claims are that children are sexual creatures, that its common for teens to experiment with homosexuality, and that parents should not be concerned about this. I don't know where these people went to school but it was not normal or common for kids to experiment with homosexual activity when I was in school, it was frankly rare for any of us to experience any sexual activity that involved someone else. Maybe times have changed but I seriously doubt by that much.

United Nations head Ban Ki-Moon took a break from global warming hysteria to call for "austerity" in the UN offices, and told everyone they needed to cut their budgets. Then the UN proceeded to give staffers a 2% raise. The highest paid officials in the New York UN building make about 40% more than their equivalent in the US government (because they pay no taxes), so maybe he had a point.

Textbooks are notoriously insane in their prices. I know pretty well what it costs to print a book at this point, and at no point does it remotely approach $100, even for a big fat book with color. Yet that's not even expensive for a text book. Which is probably why pirated e-books are gaining in popularity, so much so that there are websites set up to sell them out in the open. Back when students didn't have really any alternative, maybe this business model worked but now? Publishers are cutting their own throats.

Scientists have found a new procedure that uses stem cells successfully. They can grow cartilage using stem cells, which can be very useful for reconstructive surgery. Again, this is from adult stem cells, not embryonic.

Generally I'm opposed to tax hikes but there are ways the taxes can go up which wouldn't necessarily be bad. For example, some loopholes and deductions are a bit silly or counterproductive, and Viral Acharya suggests that the Mortgage Interest Deduction is just such a one. Created to help everyone achieve the American dream of a house and car, Instapundit relates how this actually hurts the dream:
“One the one hand you are actually getting all your subsidies, but you are actually paying more for the property you would have liked to consume,” says Acharya. “Therefore the real subsidy goes only [to those] at the very top. It is for people who are buying a second house. It is for people who are buying more land than they would otherwise.”

Not only have government subsidies failed to really help everyday people, except to “prop up the housing market artificially,” says Acharya, but the big question also remains: Who’s paying for all these subsidies? “It’s sort of a Ponzi scheme, because the current generation is reaping all its benefits, but we’re basically scaling up our government debt in response, and someone else is going to pay for it down the road.”
Basically its driving up house prices, which means the deduction doesn't accomplish anything but lower tax revenues.

President Obama called for the executive department to find ways to cut spending last year, and this year the plan has finally been announced. Overall, the proposed, anticipated, and potential plans would save about $4 billion dollars a year, should they ever be actually implemented. At this rate, they might take effect in 2013. While this is always welcome news - I'll take any cuts I can get from the federal government - and four billion dollars sounds like a lot, we're bleeding more than a trillion dollars a month in debt. That's like announcing you'll cut back your spending by not buying a stick of gum once a year.

LinkEvery time some leftist claims that its the war on terror that created the debt, point them at this news story from 2006 in USA Today:
Pentagon spending in February, the most recent month available, was $6.7 billion in Afghanistan compared with $5.5 billion in Iraq. As recently as fiscal year 2008, Iraq was three times as expensive; in 2009, it was twice as costly.
At their most expensive the combined war efforts cost around $180 billion a year. That's a lot, but its a drop in the bucket compared to the other spending, particularly as its increased lately. Congress dropped a trillion dollars on the debt scales in one bill in February of 2009 alone with the "stimulus" package.

We're often told that poor and rural people are a bunch of ignorant bible thumping hicks, while urban people are sophisticated, learned, and atheist. According to a recent study, the opposite appears to be true:
According to the American Sociological Association, the uneducated and the poor (often of course the same people) are dropping God like a hot brick; the ‘bitter clingers’ are increasingly better educated and more affluent than the unchurched.
Now, I'm not exactly trusting of polls in general and sociologists in specific but this is a humorous reversal for the poll- and sociologist-trusting leftist. If true, it means that poor people are cutting themselves off from a network of charitable and private assistance.

The National Association of Business Economics overwhelmingly (93%) believes that spending cuts, not mere tax increases, are the way out of the debt. Its almost as if they understand how to balance a budget and manage finances or something. In fact, the majority believe that spending cuts alone are the best way to handle it.

Why is this an issue now, and not before? Well, CBS has the answer:
The debt was $10.626 trillion on the day Mr. Obama took office. The latest calculation from Treasury shows the debt has now hit $14.639 trillion.

It's the most rapid increase in the debt under any U.S. president.

The national debt increased $4.9 trillion during the eight-year presidency of George W. Bush. The debt now is rising at a pace to surpass that amount during Mr. Obama's four-year term.
The debt was unthinkable under President Bush, and it got worse, faster, and with even less cause, under President Obama. And he keeps telling everyone how he wants to spend even more.

Meanwhile the percentage of young people employed is the lowest ever since the US government started keeping track of groups in 1948. Only 48.8 percent of young people ages 16-24 were employed in July. It is not clear how many aren't trying to find work, are between jobs, or gave up.

Terrorism is still out there, even if its not a hot topic any longer. Since President Obama was elected, the news has pretty well dropped the topic and even tries very hard to downplay or redefine terrorist activity. However in 2010 alone, more than 11,000 terrorist attacks in 72 countries took place worldwide, according to the annual US report on terrorism. Almost 50,000 people died from these attacks.

Before he left on a vacation, President Obama promised a "very specific" plan to improve the US economy and create jobs when he got back. No rush. Now, while he's still on vacation, Obama's team is backtracking, claiming its just an outline now. Most folks are probably wondering where this great set of ideas was say, 2 1/2 years ago.

Professor Will Happer notes something most people already know: increased CO2 actually helps plants. In contrast to the alarmist cries of CO2 doom, he notes a few facts that would be good to remember, courtesy The Hockey Schtick:
  • There is no "correct" or "normal" level of CO2 in the atmosphere
  • Most plants stop growing if CO2 levels drop much below 150 ppm
  • United States Navy and NASA have tested humans and we're fine at levels below around 4.000 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere
  • In fact, the US Navy recommends an upper limit of about 8,000 ppm for cruises of 90 days or more (not inconceivable in a submarine)
  • Getting from our current level of about 390 ppm to 1,000 ppm would take about 300 years even assuming the alarmist cries are accurate
  • Computer modeling of CO2 increases do not match observed data.
Add this to the fact that scientists are learning that the 'greenhouse gas' effect is significantly less pronounced and much more complicated than they believed in the 80's, when global warming alarmism started. Case in point:

The 2007 report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated:
In all scenarios, the central estimate for thermal expansion by the end of the century is 70 to 75% of the central estimate for the sea level rise.
However, Robert Zimmerman notes at Behind the Black:
What McKay et al. found is that the thermal expansion of the oceans actually contributed less than 1 percent of sea level rise during the last ice age., which means that the Antarctic ice sheet had to have contributed the bulk of the water for the almost 20 feet of sea level rise that occurred.

Let me highlight the differences:

IPCC estimate: 55 to 70 percent of the total.
New data: less than 1 percent of the total.

The IPCC’s estimate seems a bit wrong, eh?
As opposed to many of the previous IPCC embarrassments, this is from the hard science portion, not the "here's what might happen as a result" portion. Its one thing to get vanishing glaciers in the himalayas wrong, but another to get your basic science wrong by a factor of 700%.

One in 5 Oregonians are on food stamps, by the way. That includes kids, so maybe one in 20 households on average. According to this article at the Huffington Post, only Mississippi has more food stamp recipients in the nation.

And that's the Word Around the Net, August 26, 2011.

WHAT HAPPENED AGAIN?

"Coming up after the break, the pole dance competition!

Here's the first Miss Universe in 1952 when the initial contest was held, Armi Kuusela from Finland:

MU 1952
And here's the latest one, Jimena Navarette:

MU 2010
The first is a pretty, natural, real looking girl with genuine beauty. The last looks plastic and a bit like a stripper to me. The progression of these girls can be seen at Izismile (my choice is Mona Grudt), but none of them come from any planet except earth.

Which leads people like me to ask:

Women wtf
But then, I think deep down we know.

Quote of the Day

“We have negotiated with terrorists, this small group of terrorists have made it impossible to spend any money.”
-Rep Mike Doyle (D-PA) about the Tea Party Movement.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

DATING SITE UPDATE

I was lookin' for love in all the wrong places
Lookin' for love in too many faces
Searchin' their eyes, lookin' for traces
Of what I'm dreamin' of
-Johnny Lee, "Lookin' for Love"

About 11 years ago I joined a dating site called Match.com, one of the biggest in the world. It was free to sign up and I stayed as long as it was free, then left. I never got a single email, response, or notice from any women there. It may have been my profile which noted I had basically no money and troubled health, or it may have been what I've heard is usually the case on these sites. The general rule is that men never get noticed by women. Ever. Women put their profile up and wait for the responses which usually pile in by the handful.

Like dating in the rest of the world, women are passive and wait like a flower for a few bees to come along. And that's so far what I'm seeing with 2Date4Love. I signed up as an experiment to see how the site developed and who was on there last week, and there's nothing but silence out there.

What's odd about this site is how incredibly scant the information they have on anyone. You only give about 10 pieces of generalized information My profile looks like this:
Birthday - 12/9/65
Gender - Male
Location - Oregon
Occupation - Author
Education - Some College
Ethnicity - Caucasian
Political Leaning - Conservative
Religion - Presbyterian (was as close as I could get from their list)
Country of Origin - USA
Outdoors Interests - gardening, hiking, camping, fishing
Heath & Fitness - don't exercise
Religion - I would not date someone outside my religious beliefs
Family - I do not have children but like them
then they have a box with 12 different "likes" you use to search with
That's it. I didn't fill out the little text box, because that's not why I'm there, but this is pretty minimal, particularly compared to sites like Match.com which have dozens of different questions with detailed answers.

Now I'm not all that attractive to a woman in this profile (he never exercises and is a conservative christian?? Run away!!!!) but that's not the point - there's just not enough information there to really learn anything about someone, particularly sight unseen living hundreds or even thousands of miles away.

When I did a search initially, it only gave me 2 women, even though I set the range incredibly broad (18-58, all categories of interests) which made me suspect that the site was just not very busy. Then on Tuesday, the search gave me over 400 hits, so I think their search software was not working quite right.

In addition, the search engine consists of gender, age range, and the 12 "likes." There's no way to narrow down distance, and you have basically no control over what sort of person you look for, you just hope their engine works. I get hits as far away as London and Bangkok, which is not very helpful for most people. Its interesting for me in the experiment, but not particularly beneficial to someone looking for love. Sure that girl from Israel has a nice picture but she's in Israel.

Also, the site is unbelievably slow. It takes a minute or more to load a profile or do a search and sometimes it just times out. I don't know why on earth it should run so slowly, but its infuriating for websites to move like that. I do however appreciate how honest a lot of the women are: a lot of the photos are not model-quality; some of them are downright unattractive looking in their picture, and I really like that. Better to be up front about who you are, because often people are more attractive in person and animated by their personality than in pictures anyway.

And finally, what's particularly missing in this one is why they are there. This dating site is specifically designed for people who cannot engage in regular sexual activity but want love. Yet there's almost nothing about the health of people involved or what brought them to this place. Is it a vow of celibacy? Is it life in a wheelchair? Is it, like the founder, a tragic result of a battle with cancer? There's no indication, which seems like a pretty major lack for this particular business.

I have a full month of free service - apparently I missed the "lifetime account" window, but why would you want a lifetime of dating service anyway? If you're signed on to one of these seeking love, ideally it will take the least amount of time possible. I just don't see this as being likely to be very helpful for people looking for love.

THE TAX DEBATE YOU NEVER HEARD OF

"Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness."

AP logo edit
One of my last posts I wrote for the Washington Examiner Opinion Zone was about the one tax cut the Democrats actually did vote for. When the two year deduction increase in the "Stimulus" package ended, the Democrats voted in 2010 to reduce the FICA and other deductions from payroll. This was one of the last things the Democrats passed while still in total control of both houses of congress, before the new congress started in 2011.
The IRS sent out an email in December of last year to businessmen detailing how this works, but the gist of it is this: your social security deduction (FICA) tax went down from 6.2% to 4.2%. Because of the 1.45% added into your FICA for medicare contributions, your total will be more like 5.65% on your paycheck.

As as an employee you might not have noticed anything because that reduction was at the
employee side, not employer (yes, your boss has to pay part of your social security tax), so your employer didn't get a break here, but you should have seen a slight bump in pay. In the 1960's your FICA deduction was raised from 4% to 6%, then it went up a bit more over time; now its back closer to the earlier level.
That reduction is slated to end soon, and congress is looking at whether or not they want to continue its extension. As far as I'm concerned, they should just make it permanent as a step toward eliminating social security deductions and phasing out the unconstitutional program entirely. I'm not worried about it running out of money, I know its going to run out of money before I'm retirement age, and I'm only due like 87 cents anyway.

However, the Associated Press and National Public Radio ran stories about this little news bit recently, and Joel Pollak noticed something at Big Journalism. Here's the AP story
News flash: Congressional Republicans want to raise your taxes.

Impossible, right? GOP lawmakers are so virulently anti-tax, surely they will fight to prevent a payroll tax increase on virtually every wage-earner starting Jan. 1, right?

Apparently not.

Many of the same Republicans who fought hammer-and-tong to keep the George W. Bush-era income tax cuts from expiring on schedule are now saying a different “temporary” tax cut should end as planned. By their own definition, that amounts to a tax increase.
The AP story particularly focuses on how many of the people affected are those who pay no other federal taxes, but do have FICA reductions: the GOP wants to raise taxes on the poor!1!1!!

Putting aside that the whole tone of the story is more akin to a blog post or high school newspaper opinion piece, Pollak points something out:
Neither the AP nor NPR presented a single quote from a Republican who explicitly advocates the return of the payroll tax. All the quotes from Republicans in the original AP story discuss the policy implications of the payroll tax, but do not actually express a position on whether it should stay suspended.
So they don't even try to offer any evidence that anyone in the GOP actually wants to eliminate this deduction. Nothing new there, the AP and NPR have long been known for a leftward slant, something frustrating with NPR since we're paying for it with taxes. But that's not particularly shocking. They didn't offer any evidence that Democrats want to end the program either, but assert that as well (granted its hardly news that a Democrat wants to raise taxes).

If you read closely, you notice that the GOP seems to have the position that they dislike this because its temporary and because there's no corresponding reduction for employers who have to match FICA taxes (but didn't see their rate reduced).
"We don't need short-term gestures. We need long-term fundamental changes in our tax structure and our regulatory structure that people who create jobs can rely on," said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., when asked about the payroll tax matter.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., "has never believed that this type of temporary tax relief is the best way to grow the economy," said spokesman Brad Dayspring.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says payroll tax reductions give the economy a short-term boost. But it says the benefit is bigger if employers get the tax break instead of, or along with, workers.
That's a big difference from "Republicans want to raise your taxes over the objections of President Obama!" Yet what's the headline?

GOP may OK tax increase that Obama hopes to block

Yeah.

As a final note, check out the presupposition in this line:
The 12-month tax reduction will cost the government about $120 billion this year, and a similar amount next year if it's renewed.
Taxes that aren't paid cost the government. That's money the government should have had, nay, money that belongs to the government which they benignly allow you to keep small portions of out of the generosity of their great hearts. That's not a cost to the government, its a lack of cost to citizens. Taxes are money that belongs to workers taken away by force by the government. Taxes are fine if used to do proper, just, and limited government work, but nobody costs the government anything by not paying more taxes.

Just in case you were wondering if the media was going to help President Obama in the upcoming elections as much as they did before; wonder no more.

9/11 MEMORIAL CEREMONY

"They weren't invited the first time either."

On September 11, 2011, ten years after the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington DC, there will be a memorial event in the rubble that once was the Twin Towers. Across America, similar memorial events will take place and I have no doubt that many of you are planning something as well.

Planning this kind of event takes a while, and details of what will take place are starting to leak out, details which do not have people very happy.

For example, Mayor Bloomberg has denied clergy access to the memorial. There will be no prayer, no religious aspect whatsoever. After the actual event, there was an interfaith event at Yankee Stadium, but the memorial will have nothing of the sort.

OK so Mayor Bloomberg wants no prayers and wants it to be totally secular. That's interesting, since he said just yesterday "you do not want the government picking religions" and secularism is a religious belief which he wants to promote but that's not unusual these days. I've noted this in the past: you cannot have true religious pluralism; one always is dominant.

But that's not all. Bloomberg has also told firemen and other first responders they can't be part of the ceremony, either. The problem cited is one of room: there isn't enough to let any of the people who saved lives go in. There will be politicians there: congressmen from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut will all be there, but no firemen.

I do understand that space is an issue, with new construction there's not as much room as there was, and since the president will rightly be there (lets hope he can avoid bashing the Tea Party and GOP for one speech this year), security is also an issue. But seriously? Leaving these guys out? Leave out the politicians. They contributed nothing and represent nothing. The president is fine, but the rest should watch from home.

PICTURE OF THE DAY


Maybe you might consider putting the phone down for a moment.

Quote of the Day

"Isn't it interesting that the same people who laugh at science fiction listen to weather forecasts and economists?"
-Kelvin Throop III

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

ANOTHER QUESTION

If, say, a white congressional group that only accepted whites into its ranks criticized a movement largely made up of blacks, would that not be instantly identified and criticized as racist? I mean, a congressional white caucus would be instantly called racist to begin with.

But when the congressional black caucus continually attacks the Tea Party Movement, even telling it to 'go to hell' nobody seems to even consider that.