The one thing Obama does really, really well

You know that old joke, the one that goes “How can you tell when a politician is lying?  His lips are moving.”  That’s Obama.

I think Obama’s skilled lying arises from the fact that he is a borderline personality, whether malignant narcissist or sociopath.  These specific border personalities lie better than ordinary people because to them, the truth is always what they need it to be at the precise moment they’re speaking.  During SOTUs, Obama needs the truth to be that he’s all about deficit and debt reduction, job growth, affordable insurance, and cheap energy.  He therefore confidently, and with every appearance of honesty, makes statements to that effect.  When he’s actually running the country, though, his truth becomes something quite different.

This short GOP video perfectly sums up Obama’s variable truths:

Progressives truly don’t understand the difference between wealth and money

Paul Krugman, looking smug

Paul Krugman is a Nobel Prize winning economist.  He’s also remarkably ignorant (or stupid or, maybe, both).  Only someone lacking in brains and understanding would think that the U.S. could get out of its debt problem, not by printing paper money, but by minting a platinum coin and then denominating it a “$1 trillion coin.”  Nevertheless, that’s exactly what Krugman proposes.  He thinks (probably wrongly, as it turns out) that there’s a Constitutional loophole that allows the president to “print” a trillion-dollar coin:

Enter the platinum coin. There’s a legal loophole allowing the Treasury to mint platinum coins in any denomination the secretary chooses. Yes, it was intended to allow commemorative collector’s items — but that’s not what the letter of the law says. And by minting a $1 trillion coin, then depositing it at the Fed, the Treasury could acquire enough cash to sidestep the debt ceiling — while doing no economic harm at all.

Did you get that last little bit?  Magically creating a trillion dollars will do “no economic harm at all.”  It’s worth exploring Krugman’s reasoning, to which he helpfully links (since he is, after all, judge, jury, and executioner when it comes to all thinks economic).  I’ll quote him at length, because only then can one fully appreciate his reasoning:

In reality, to pursue the thought further, the coin really would be as much a Federal debt as the T-bills the Fed owns, since eventually Treasury would want to buy it back. So this is all a gimmick — but since the debt ceiling itself is crazy, allowing Congress to tell the president to spend money then tell him that he can’t raise the money he’s supposed to spend, there’s a pretty good case for using whatever gimmicks come to hand.

But leaving the debt ceiling on one side, isn’t it true that since spending can currently be financed by Fed money printing, we shouldn’t care at all about the notional debt owed to the Fed? Alas, no.

It’s true that printing money isn’t at all inflationary under current conditions — that is, with the economy depressed and interest rates up against the zero lower bound. But eventually these conditions will end. At that point, to prevent a sharp rise in inflation the Fed will want to pull back much of the monetary base it created in response to the crisis, which means selling off the Federal debt it bought. So even though right now that debt is just a claim by one more or less governmental agency on another governmental agency, it will eventually turn into debt held by the public.

What those three paragraphs circle around is the magic word: inflation. Krugman believes that magically pulling a trillion dollars out of the air won’t produce inflation but that, at some magical point in the future, President Obama will have borrowed so much money that he will be able to pay back the trillion dollars before inflation occurs.  One suspects that Krugman is envisioning a scheme along the lines of check kiting, with Obama borrowing a trillion from the feds, so he can borrow a trillion from someone else, and then use that second trillion to pay back the first.

Dunce cap

The fundamental flaw with Krugman’s whole theory, of course (which even he acknowledges is a “gimmick”), is that it ignores the difference between money, which merely a symbol of varying value, and wealth, which is the real measure of a healthy, rich economy.  Apparently I need to give Krugman my “Economics 101″ lecture, the same I used when my kids were nine to help explain to them the difference between money and wealth, and the concept of inflation.  Here goes:

In the old days  – the really old days  – there was no money. Instead, there were goods. For example, you might have had wheat to spare, but you needed a cow. I, on the other hand, had a cow and but was short of wheat. The two of us were a match made in heaven, trading our goods to fulfill our desires.

Cow

Problems arose, of course, when I wanted the wheat, which you had, but you wanted a chicken, not a cow. Or perhaps you had wheat, but only a little, and certainly not worth enough to trade for an entire cow.

This old system also had a problem with mobility. It’s simply not feasible to carry bushels of wheat with you wherever you go, unless you have a really big purse. And cows are hard to lead into the pub in exchange for a nice pint o’ beer. Not to mention the fact that you’d need a lot of pints to equal one cow.

Something better needed to come along. And it did: Gold.

Very heavy gold

Gold’s a great substance. It’s beautiful; infinitely malleable; it blends well with other metals; it doesn’t degrade; and it can be replenished, although the effort needed to replenish it ensures the rarity that’s necessary to its value as a commodity.

The only downside to gold is that it’s heavy. Very, very heavy. Get enough gold together, and you’ve suddenly got the weight of that cow to carry around  – and, once again, your purse isn’t big enough.

In all societies, some people, whether through trade, warfare, or outright theft, proved more adept at amassing wealth (whether wheat, cows, or gold) than others did, and they assumed leadership positions. Once in those positions, they tended to demand that their subordinates pay them protection money. These funds protected the hapless payor both from harassment by that same leader and from attacks launched by enemies outside the kingdom.

Bully

Eventually, this protection racket got formalized as taxes. Leaders also discovered that, in addition to providing protection for their subjects, there was a virtue in paying for basic services within the kingdom, such as roads, minimal care for the very poor, etc. A well-run kingdom increased everyone’s wealth.

But back to those grand clumps of heavy, heavy gold. Someone eventually got the idea that, rather than schlepping around gold, it would be a good idea to have currency made from lighter weight metals or even paper. These could be used to purchase myriad things that were worth less than a single gold coin and were easier to transport.

Money

Because you couldn’t have random sheets of paper or chunks of silver or copper roaming around in the guise of currency, these money substitutes were useful only to the extent people believed them to be backed by the genuine gold article — and the only way to ensure that people could trust these substitutes was to delegate to a single entity the task of guarding the real gold and issuing the substitute coinage or paper. The entity that ended up responsible for holding the gold and backing the substitutes is government.

There are two important things to remember at this point: First, the substitute money’s worth is always relative to the gold. If the gold is finite, but you mint more coins or print more paper, each coin or note is worth less as it becomes a smaller fraction of the available gold. Put another way, imagine that over a six month period the government keeps printing notes until it has six times as many notes as it has gold. Milk that cost one piece of paper in January will cost six pieces of paper in June. The milk’s value in gold is the same; it’s the paper that became less valuable. (This, I helpfully explained to my kids, is inflation.)

Second, and this is the really important thing, one must remember that, nowadays, unlike the feudal lord of old who went and out ravaged another country to get gold, today’s governments doesn’t go out and amass gold; they just generate the coins and paper. To the extent the government has wealth, it’s because it uses its police power to demand that its citizens give it their wealth in the form of taxes. The government hasn’t created anything. In today’s America, as in all modern economies, only the people create wealth.

Platinum coin

For Obama to mint a platinum coin does nothing to increase the country’s wealth.  It’s just generating a piece of metal to which the Leftist government assigns an arbitrary value to justify taking on more debt that America cannot afford and cannot repay.  For Paul Krugman to advocate this course of action isn’t just ignorant and stupid, it’s reckless to the point of national economic homicide.  Too bad Krugman is incapable of feeling ashamed of himself.

Too much education makes people economically dumb

I’m not boasting when I say that I move in very rarefied circles.  It’s a fact that became glaringly obvious to me today when I started reaching out to legal colleagues via LinkedIn.  I’m launching a new business enterprise, and those connections will be useful.

For those unfamiliar with it, LinkedIn is the professional equivalent of Facebook.  Rather than chit-chatting about children, sports, and the minutiae of their lives, people use LinkedIn to post their resumes, boast about their professional accomplishments, and network with other professionals to whom they can be useful or who can be useful to them.  So, as I said, I’m working on using LinkedIn to touch base with lawyers I’ve met over the years, whether high school classmates who went into law, law school classmates, professional colleagues, or people whom I’ve met through PTA and the neighborhood who also happen to be lawyers.

As with Facebook, LinkedIn examines your friends’ friends and, if two of them share a common friend, LinkedIn will suggest that person to you as a possible link in your own professional network.  This is where I get to the rarefied bit.  When I scroll through my LinkedIn contacts (who currently number less than 100, because I’ve never paid that much attention to cultivating these contacts), I get suggestions that run the gamut from high stratum A to rarefied stratum B:  ambassadors, corporate CEOs, senior counsel at major corporations, managing partners of huge law firms, etc.  In my circles, these titles are predominant amongst the various professional friendships LinkedIn identifies for me.  I

What interests me so much about these people is that I know for a fact as to most, and can reasonably guess as to the remainder, that they voted for Obama and, within their own states, counties, and cities, also voted for the most Democrat and Progressive (although not Green) candidates.  This milieu — rich in degrees, Ivy League diplomas, and money — is disproportionately Leftist in orientation.  If you ask them about their political beliefs, they will say that it’s because they’re smart and educated, implying that brilliant mines inevitably embrace Progressivism.

I see things differently, of course.  All of these people are products of America’s colleges, universities, and professional schools, not to mention fine high schools, both public and private, in nice neighborhoods and suburbs.  All of these schools lean Left or have simply stopped leaning and collapsed completely on the Leftist side of education.

So these smart people are right that there’s an inevitability here, but it’s not that the logical output of a brilliant mind is Leftism.  Education certainly matters, but not in the way they think.  The fact is that, if you’re academically smart, you’re more likely to graduate from high school, attend college, and even attend professional school.  In other words, the smarter you are, the longer your exposure to Leftist academic thought will be.  These high earning, upper echelon people didn’t embrace Leftism because their intellectual analysis inexorably led them to it.  Instead, they embraced Leftism because their smarts mean they’ve been steeped in the Leftist stew for infinitely longer than the average American who didn’t go on to a higher degree.

These same people also remind me that academic smarts do not correlate with real life intelligence.  I have no doubt that these people are good lawyers, doctors, CEOs, ambassadors, etc.  What they’re trained to do, they do well.  Outside of their sphere of expertise, however, they’re remarkably naive and intellectually incurious.

Here’s my example for today:  In the wake of the election, I’ve heard five Obama supporters — all of whom also voted for all the California Democrats and for all the California taxes — complain that their taxes are going up next year.  The cognitive dissonance is almost painful.  All of them consistently embrace big spending — and, therefore Obama and his fellow Democrats — because they’ve been trained to believe that the spending on welfare, entitlements, and “select” businesses is a “good thing.”  This is a knee jerk belief.  They will always vote for these “good things,” and for the candidate who promises them.  And they will ignore the rhetoric about higher taxes (Obama was not shy about targeting them as the next big source of funding), and they will ignore fiscal cliffs, and they will ignore plain old common sense that says that someone must pay the piper.

One of the things that made the rounds on my Facebook was a boastful poster saying that those states with the highest number of college-educated people all went for Obama.  The implication is that these smart Blue State people, unlike the ill-educated yahoos in Red States, are the ones who have the brains and ability to understand how Obamanomics will serve America.

What the genius who created this poster missed the fact that these smart Blue States are, not coincidentally, almost all broke.  Thus, of the list above, the following Blue States are amongst those states running the biggest budget shortfalls in America:  Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, and Minnesota.  In other words, 80% of the “best educated” states are in dire financial straights.  You’d think that, with all those smart people, they’d be rolling in the green stuff.

It turns out that one of the biggest indicators of Blue state-ness isn’t smarts — it’s brokes.  Here’s the list of the states Obama won, with the ones that have more than a 10% budget shortfall marked, appropriately enough, in red:*

California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Hawaii
Illinois
Iowa
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
Ohio
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
Wisconsin

It’s striking that, of the 26 states that gave their electoral votes to Obama, 84% are in debt.  (The perpetually broke District of Columbia also gave its vote to Obama, raising to 85% the number of broke jurisdictions that went true blue.) You’d think that, with all those smart people floating around, they’d manage their money better. In a way, you could say that the Blue States are actually Red States, given their financial hemorrhaging.

By the way, given that we’re still in a recession, it’s true that many Red States are also in debt.  Still, there’s no doubt that the Red States are managing their money better than the ones filled with all those educated Progressive geniuses:

Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
Georgia
Idaho
Indiana
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
North Carolina
North Dakota
Oklahoma
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
West Virginia
Wyoming

As you can see, only 41% of the “dumb” Red States are seriously in the red.  They may not have the degrees, but they have sufficient smarts to control their budgets — which is the fundamental responsibility of all viable governments.

If the election is any indicator, it shows that our education system leaves people incapable of rational economic thought.  This is true even when these same educated people are the ones most hurt by their economic ignorance and Leftist credulity.

_______________________________

*I culled the state deficit information from here.

Getting outside of the bubble: taking liberal arguments seriously

Paul Scott challenged us to look at what Eric Garland, a Progressive blogger, has to say and to take it seriously as a way to win the White House.  Paul is right — we cannot make a convincing argument unless we know what our opponent in the argument believes.  Insulting Paul doesn’t make us stronger.  Rather than spin around in our own fish bowl, we have to look at what others are saying, correct their misconceptions, and either challenge or concede to their arguments head-on.

In that spirit, I’m taking a serious look at Eric Garland’s post.  I’m not giving anything away here when I say that, having weighed it carefully, I’ve found it wanting.

Eric might also want to look seriously at conservatives, since he seems to be have accepted several canards propounded by the media and other liberal sources.  In that regard, I would remind him that the Wheel of Political Fortune has tended to rotate in roughly eight year cycles:  Reagan’s conservativism got 12 years (counting Bush); Clinton’s Progressivism got 8 years; Bush’s compassionate conservativism got 8 years; and Obama is now getting his 8 years.

Whether Obama will also get his own addendum years, as Reagan did with Bush Sr., remains open to question.  Americans are a generous and forbearing people, but unless Obama significantly improves the economy, or significantly re-educates Americans so that they lower their economic and employment expectations, Obama’s next four years may be the Democrats’ last four for a while.

Let’s start with Eric’s contention that he is the kind of voter that Republicans seek:

  • My family lineage goes back to the MAYFLOWER, BOAT ONE!!! (Garland family of New England-> John Adams -> Howard Alden -> Plymouth colony ->KINGS OF MUTHAF***IN’ ENGLAND)
  • I am a heterosexual, married to the super Caucasian mother of my two beautiful children who are, inexplicably, EVEN WHITER THAN I AM.
  • I am college educated (Master’s degree!) and affluent.
  • I am a job creator and small businessman.
  • We pay a lot of taxes! Every year!
  • I grew up in a rural area and despise laziness!
  • Having started my own business, I have complained at length about the insanity of federal, state and local bureaucracy – and its deleterious impact on the innovative small businessman.
  • I currently live in the suburbs in a historically Red state.

I’m not sure Eric is the perfect specimen he thinks he is.  Or rather, he’s the perfect specimen only if you accept his rather ugly view of conservatives.

Family lineage:  As a first generation Jewish American conservative, I was unaware that the Republican party had admissions criteria based upon 1950s WASP country club rules.  To the contrary, the Republican party, unlike the Democratic party, does not classify people by race, religion, or country of national origin.  Instead, it seeks values voters.  As I use it, and as the the conservatives I know use it, the term “values voters” should be understood to encompass constitutional values such as individual liberty; market-based capitalism; small, affordable government; freedom of speech; freedom of worship; etc.  In other words, the oldies, but goodies.  These are values intrinsic too all Americans regardless of the divisive victim identities that the Democrats and Progressives have sought to impose on the American body politic since the 1960s.  We understand that people like Eric can’t help their boring lineage.  They are still welcome amongst conservatives.

Sexual orientation and race:  By boasting repeatedly about his, and his family’s, whiteness and heterosexuality, Eric sounds a little too much like a candidate for the KKK (which was, as his high education level surely informs him, a Democrat connected party).  Eric’s obsession with his race and sexuality highlights the Democrat/Progressive habit of parsing Americans into sexual and racial boxes.  Honestly, we conservatives really don’t care about those archaic, eugenicist classifications.  What we do care about are shared values, tied to the Constitution.  I know bunches of gays, whites, Jews, Asians, Blacks, and Hispanics (and whatever other little boxes Progressives like to check) who believe in limited government.

What all conservatives have figured out is that, once government gets big enough (and ours certainly has gotten that big), it can start picking winners and losers.  That’s good for the winners.  Unfortunately, as Jews, Gypsies, Gays, Communists, and the mentally disabled discovered in Nazi Germany; as Kulaks discovered in Soviet Russia; and intellectuals and glasses-wearers discovered in Pol Pot’s Cambodia, if a Big Government identifies you as a loser, you’re pretty much dead.  The smaller the government, the less risk for minority groups.  Ideally, as the Founders perfectly understood, one wants a government that’s big enough to protect all of its citizens, but not one so big that it does what Eric does:  parses them into “in” groups and “out” groups, and then punish the “out” groups.

College educated and affluent:  It’s great that Eric and his family are college educated and affluent.  I’m sure his mother is very proud.  It may come as a surprise to Eric that many conservatives are educated too. And almost as many conservatives have spent many years trying to unlearn the Left wing pap that made up that education.

The real world doesn’t put the same premium on the Ivory Tower that the Ivory Tower puts upon itself.  Womyn’s Studies contribute little to intellectual attainment or economic betterment.  And if you’ve got an MBA predicated on Keynesian economics — well, you’re about to see that economic view take a hit in the real world, just as it did when Roosevelt put it into effect (with the Depression massively worsened under his aegis), or when Europe put it into effect with its now-collapsing soft-socialism, and as America will see play out as the Harvard-educated Obama continues to pick winners and losers in today’s economy.

The secret that hasn’t yet infiltrated the Ivory Tower is that governments are slow, inefficient, and corrupt.  They analyze data inefficiently, apply their analyses unfairly, and then pervert the market (using taxpayer money) to prop up their so-called “winner’s” failures.  Today’s education, which is directed at creating a Leftist man, rather than a broadly educated man, is nothing to boast about.

A job creator and small businessman.  Again, that’s great.  Conservatives believe that job creators and small business people should support conservative values, because lower taxes, fewer regulations, and less government control (not no government control, but less) enhance small businesses and create more jobs.  We find bewildering the number of small business owners who willingly vote for politicians who impose ever greater burdens upon them, stifling their building to thrive and grow.

Pays lots of taxes:  Eric sounds almost enthusiastic about those taxes.  One wonders if he’s ever asked himself if the government makes better decisions about spending that money than he does?  I’m sure Eric doesn’t quarrel — and neither do I — with government spending it on core government functions that all civilized nations support, such as national security, roads, public health, etc.  I wonder, though, if he’s thought seriously about the economics and morals of taking stimulus dollars and deciding which businesses, interests, and individuals should get special treatment using American tax dollars.  Likewise, I wonder if he’s ever considered the wisdom of tethering people more and more tightly to welfare by taking dollars out of the market and then having the government channel those same dollars to people rendered unemployed by the deleterious effect high taxes have on jobs.

Rural and not-lazy.  Again, good for Eric.  Republicans like rural, not-lazy people.  Republicans also like suburban or urban not-lazy people.  Basically, Republicans like people who are willing to put some energy into living their own lives, rather than sitting back complacently, waiting for a hand-out.

Complained about bureaucracy:  It’s rather peculiar that Eric hates bureaucracy, but still supports Obama and his Democrats.  This headline explains my bewilderment:  “Obama Administration Proposes 6,125 Regulations And Notifications In Last 90 Days.”  Why would someone who dislikes the burdens of a large bureaucracy vote for the candidate whose promise is to increase government interference in and control of every aspect of our lives?

Red Stater:  I bet Eric likes living in a Red State.  His taxes aren’t as high as they could be (try living in Blue California), and he’s not dealing with the failed economies that plague the Blue States (have I mentioned California?).  In other words, Eric is living well thanks to Red State, conservative values voters, who have supported lower taxes and more individual freedom.  It’s ironic and sad that his current goal is to reduce the entire United States to a wacky economic combination of Detroit (bankrupt), California (bankrupt), Illinois (bankrupt and corrupt), and other blue stated wonders, filled with “smart” people and big debt.  It’s not just the states that are bankrupt.  Bankrupt states produce bankrupt individuals.

(Thinking about this makes me kind of sad that I didn’t pursue my original law school goal of becoming a bankruptcy attorney.  It seemed like such a great idea during the recession that existed when I was started law school.  As the Reagan economy improved, through, I rethought things, and went for general business litigation.  Now would be a good time to be a bankruptcy attorney.  Take a firm like Wadhwani & Shanfeld, for example, which clearly started as a two attorney enterprise, and now has five offices scattered throughout meatless-Monday Southern California.  That’s the great thing about America — there’s always a silver lining for someone.  Also, I like that firm because it’s quite clear that the founders are from different cultural/racial backgrounds, but they came together to create a successful all-American enterprise.  Woo-hoo!)

But back to my main point….

Per Eric’s definition, the modern Republican party would desperately like to look like the old Democrat KKK, which utterly fails to explain why it celebrates extraordinary people and politicians such as Mia Love, Marco Rubio, Allen West, Herman Cain, Bobby Jindal, and other Americans who are concerned more with values than with little boxes on government survey forms.

Eric reveals his blinkered view of conservativism when he claims he is a prize of the type conservatives seek.  It’s nice that he pays taxes, creates jobs, is educated, works hard, and lives in a Red State, but he’s flattering himself a little too much.  It isn’t what he is taxes and education that matter, when it comes to elections, it’s what he believes — and honestly, his beliefs aren’t so hot.  What Eric believes leads down a single road:  higher taxes; fewer jobs; continued Leftist educational indoctrination; higher welfare and food stamp rolls; a population made up of disparate groups all vying to be crowned “biggest victim”; and Red States joining their Blue compatriots in bankruptcy and corruption.

Perhaps if Eric could see beyond his Jon Stewart, New York Times, MSNBC definition of conservatives, he might realize that the conservative ideology offers him and others a great deal more than he ever imagined, without interfering too greatly with what I assume are his core values.  Let’s take his critiques of conservatives one at a time:

Science - One of the reasons my family is affluent is that my wife and I have a collective fifteen years of university education between us. I have a Masters degree in Science and Technology Policy, and my wife is a physician who holds degrees in medicine as well as cell and molecular biology. We are really quite unimpressed with Congressional representatives such as Todd Akin and Paul Broun who actually serve on the House science committee and who believe, respectively, that rape does not cause pregnancy and that evolution and astrophysics are lies straight from Satan’s butt cheeks. These are, sadly, only two of innumerable assaults that the Republican Party has made against hard science – with nothing to say of logic in general. Please understand the unbearable tension this might create between us and your candidates.

As far as I can tell, in the last election, it is a sad truth that the Republican party managed to field a few idiots, such as Todd Akin, Tom Smith, and Roger Rivard, who are genuinely ignorant, in a very mean-spirited way, about rape.  Otherwise, though, Republicans are like other Americans, in that they understand that horrors of rape and the morally difficult consequences that result from rape.

Thus, conservatives recognize that rape is a terrible thing, one that becomes a permanent, damaging part of a woman’s psyche.  What some pro-Life conservatives say, though, is that this purely an evil act may nevertheless have resulted in something good:  an innocent life.  To them, it would compound the evil of rape if it was followed by the murder of an innocent.  They are not unsympathetic to the rape victim, they just believe that, in the balance, two wrongs don’t make a right.

I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with them, because the topic deserves a post on its own.  I’m simply saying that candidates such as Paul Ryan, Richard Mourdock, Joe Walsh, and John Koster have set out a moral position that has nothing to do with science.  In the same way, there’s nothing science-related about Barack Obama’s repeated willingness to oppose a bill that would have required physicians to care for late-term babies that, rather than being aborted as planned, end up living.

The question of an innocent life within a full-realizedwomen is one of morals, not science, and it’s a profound cognitive error to conflate the two.   Also, I can’t resist adding that, when it comes to idiots, the Democrats have managed to field quite a few of their own cranks, crackpots, gaffe-meisters, and other mean-spirited, ignorant people.  The difference between Democrats and Republicans is that, while the Republican idiots didn’t get elected to office, the Democrat idiots did.

Climate - Within just the past 18 months the following events have come to our attention: a record-breaking drought that sent temperatures over 100 degrees for weeks, killing half the corn in the Midwest and half the TREES on our suburban property – AND – a hurricane that drowned not New Orleans or Tampa or North Carolina but my native state of VERMONT. As an encore, a second hurricane drowned lower Manhattan, New Jersey and Long Island. The shouted views of decrepit mental fossil Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma that this is a fraud perpetrated on the American people by evil, conspiring climate scientists is belied by such events and is looking irresponsible to even the most skeptical.

I’m always amazed at the way supposedly educated people confuse correlation and causation.  The one does not imply the other.  That is, just because we’re seeing impressive climate events at the same time that most Americans drive cars doesn’t mean the two are related.

Most conservatives willingly acknowledge climate change.  Indeed, they’ll go further than just focusing on the changes that took place since Al Gore, in the early 1970s, was convinced that the earth would soon freeze over.  They’ll concede that the earth’s climate has been changing non-step since the earth first came into being.

Where conservatives differ with the self-identified scientifically brilliant climate change crowd is in believing (a) that human activity can change climate and (b) that warming is a bad thing.  (The picture below is of Greenland, which was once Green and sustained significant Viking colonies.)

With regard to human activity, conservatives admit that humans can affect the environment, most notably with pollution.  Most conservatives believe that they are the earth’s stewards and that this stewardship requires acting responsibly so that we do not make filthy the world around us, or carelessly destroy nature’s bounty.  We do not believe, though, that the climate change crowd has adduced sufficient evidence to show that today’s bad weather is human-kind’s fault.  News about Climategate, or the profound errors regarding Himalayan glaciers, indicates that we are right to be suspicious.  (Regarding glaciers, for example, we know that they’ve advanced and retreated relentlessly for most of the earth’s lifespan.)

And with regard to the apocalyptic view of warming, those of us reasonably conversant with history know that a global warming trend is good for humans.  It increases the growing season, releases more water (which is essential to all human existence), and makes available more land on which to grow food.  For example, the periods both before and after the mini-Ice Age were good ones for human development.

A few more things to throw into the mix:  We know that it’s only since Victorian times that people have been keeping accurate weather records, which means that we’re basing a lot of conclusions on only 150 years of data.  We know that the computer models on which much climate hysteria is based have frequently proven wrong.  And we know that many of the problems we’ve seen from hurricanes have happened, not because hurricane are worse (and after all, our records are only 150-200 years old), but because we have very dense coastal populations.  It’s like the difference between a fatal car crash involving one passenger and a crash involving seven:  it’s the same crash, but the mortality rate in the second instance is seven times greater.

Healthcare - My wife and I are quite familiar with America’s healthcare system due to our professions, and having lived abroad extensively, also very aware of comparable systems. Your party’s insistence on declaring the private U.S. healthcare system “the best in the world” fails nearly every factual measure available to any curious mind. We watch our country piss away 60% more expenditures than the next most expensive system (Switzerland) for health outcomes that rival former Soviet bloc nations. On a personal scale, my wife watches poor WORKING people show up in emergency rooms with fourth-stage cancer because they were unable to afford primary care visits. I have watched countless small businesses unable to attract talented workers because of the outrageous and climbing cost of private insurance. And I watch European and Asian businesses outpace American companies because they can attract that talent without asking people to risk bankruptcy and death. That you think this state of affairs is somehow preferable to “Obamacare,” which you compared ludicrously to Trotskyite Russian communism, is a sign of deficient minds unfit to guide health policy in America.

Eric’s analysis about the US healthcare system works only because he is relying on the WHO metric –that is, he’s looking at access, not quality.  I’m not going to beat this horse here, because I don’t have to.  Scott Atlas’ masterful The Worst Study Ever explains the difference between socialized and American medicine, as well as the flaws in the WHO study.  More than that, he does so concisely and in terms even the well-educated can understand.

There’s no doubt that the pre-ObamaCare American system was inefficient and needed improvement.  Turning it into England’s National Health Service, however, which serves the young and healthy sort of well, but is bad news for others, is not the way to reform American medical care.

War - Nations do have to go to war sometimes, but that Iraq thing was pretty bad, to put it mildly. Somebody should have been, I dunno – FIRED for bad performance. Aren’t you the party of good corporate managers or something? This topic could get 10,000 words on its own. Let’s just leave it at: You guys suck at running wars.

Eric might want to explain what happened in Libya, which was Obama’s war:  Why did we go in, how much did we spend, and what did we get for the money, aside from some murdered Americans, including the first U.S. Ambassador killed since 1979?  Eric might also want to look into the skyrocketing deaths on Obama’s watch in Afghanistan — deaths that are wasted, because we already know that they will be followed, not by victory, but by retreat.  Lastly, Eric might want to contemplate that, since 1900, most of the wars in which America got involved started on a Democrat’s watch:  WWI (Wilson), WWII (Roosevelt), the Korean War (Truman), the Vietnam War (Kennedy and Johnson), and the war in Libya (Obama).  Perhaps having a stronger hand at the helm might have avoided those wars in the first place.

Deficits and debt - Whenever the GOP is out of power, it immediately appeals to the imagination of voters who remember the Lyndon Baines Johnson (!) administration and claim that the Republican alternative is the party of “cutting spending” and “reducing the deficit.” The only problem with your claim is that Republican governments throughout my entire 38 year life (Reagan, Bush 41, Bush 43) have failed to cut spending and deficit and debt EVEN ONCE. I hope you understand that your credibility suffers every time you promise one thing for three decades and do the EXACT OPPOSITE. Egads – if you actually were the party of fiscal responsibility – you might win our votes despite your 13th century view of science!

I’ve got to agree with Eric — the Republicans have been stinky at fiscal responsibility.  Really stinky.  The only ones who have been worse are the Democrats.  James Taranto nailed it in his column explaining that, right up until the Tea Party got serious about the deficit, the only thing that the Republicans did was to temper Democrat spending:

Deficit hawkishness was the main strain of postwar Republican conservatism until the Goldwater movement of 1964. When lefties long for the “mainstream” Republicans of yore, this is a large part of what they have in mind. A conservatism that cares only about balancing the books not only fails to challenge the encroachment of the welfare state but actively aids it by taking political pressure off the left.

Here’s how politics would work in a world in which deficit hawks dominated the Republican Party: The Democrats would propose a new entitlement. Some Republicans would oppose it, but once it was clear it was going to pass, they would drop their opposition and push for tax increases instead.

It’s a win-win for the Democratic left. They not only fulfill their ideological goal of ever-expanding government, but they get the political credit for doling out benefits and they shift the blame to Republicans (or at least share it with them) for the concomitant tax increases. Conservatives are reduced, to paraphrase Newt Gingrich, to acting as tax collectors for the welfare state. With Republican cooperation, Democrats can be the party of generous benefits and low taxes. Lyndon B. Johnson dramatically expanded the former while reducing the latter.

The current strain of conservativism, birthed by the Tea Party, is small government conservativism.  The Big Tent has room for social conservatives, but the real press here is what got Reagan into office on his second run for the presidency:  shrinking the federal government.  As Taranto explains in the article quoted above, talking about shrinking government is easier than actually shrinking government, but the focus is still on restraining growth, not just on figuring out a way to pay for it.

Eric’s attitude — which is that Republicans are wastrels, so I’ll vote for the party that’s even more irresponsible with taxpayer money — is a classic example of cutting of ones nose to spite ones face.  Eric should be demanding more small government conservativism, not retaliating against Republican profligacy by opening his checkbook even wider for infinitely worse Democrat profligacy.

The bottom line in the rational world, and one that Eric, as an educated man and businessman, should know well is simple:  over the long term, you cannot spend what you don’t have.  When your spending outruns your earning by too great an amount, you have very limited choices:  continue to spend yourself into bankruptcy, which is the Obama choice; cut your spending, which is the Tea Party choice; and earn more money, which is what Obama contends is his choice, one made by using the government’s taxation powers.  Where Obama errs is that it is impossible to close the gap by taxing the rich.  Instead, by killing the goose that lays the golden egg, Obama’s approach will merely accelerate the bankruptcy.

Gay marriage - As the child of Baby Boomers who got divorced (as was the fashion!) in the 80s and 90s, and for whom 50% of my friends had their homes broken by divorce in the critical years before age 18, I sure am unsympathetic to your caterwauling bullshit that “gays will destroy the sanctity of marriage.” Perhaps if everyone in your generation didn’t take the period of 1978 – 1995 to start surreptitiously banging their neighbors and coworkers, only to abandon their kids because “they just weren’t happy,” I would take your defense of marriage more seriously. The institution of Middle Class suburban marriage was broken by the generation of aging white Baby Boomers who populate what is left of the Republican Party, so your defense is wrongheaded and disingenuous. And moreover, as someone who got called “faggot” about 127 times a day from the years 1985 through 1991 – guess what – I grew up to be pretty good friends with actual homosexuals, whose sexual orientation is usually the least significant thing about them. The Republican perseveration on homosexuals as any sort of threat consigns them to history’s trough of intellectual pig dung.

Eric errs (again!) in assuming that, because conservatives haven’t embraced gay marriage, they hate gays.  Not so.  As with abortion, this is a complicated issue that sees a clash of differing liberties.  As I’ve written often, “marriage” has two distinct components:  religious and civil.  When church and state were one, that wasn’t a problem; when they parted ways, with the Constitution guaranteeing that the government would stay out of the religion business, the potential for conflicts arose.  As we’ve seen with the ObamaCare contraception/insurance mandate, when the government issue edicts that conflict with doctrine, the Constitution is directly implicated.  So too with “gay marriage.”  It’s extremely easy to posit a situation in which a church refuses to marry a gay couple, which then sues the church, claiming that it violated their civil rights.

My suggestion, and I think it’s a good one, is for the government to get out of the marriage business and into the civil union business.  It is then free to define civil unions however it wishes:  male/female, female/female, male/male, goat/cow, etc.  The state’s concern would be “What’s good for the state?”  Considerations would be population replacement or control, economics, stability, etc.  This would leave marriage as a purely religious union.

Frankly, if there wasn’t such a mad rush towards gay marriage, people would be able to step back for a moment and contemplate what their goals are and what the potential pitfalls are.  I don’t have a problem with ensuring that committed gay couples obtain the same civil benefits (and burdens) as other committed couples.  I do have a problem with a pell-mell rush into changing an ancient institution in such a way that it creates a certain clash with faiths, in such as way as to lead to a serious Constitutional crisis.  Am I anti-gay?  No.  I am pro-civil rights, pro-religion, and pro-Constitution.  But in all the rush, nobody is listening to people like me.

Meanness- Your party is really mean, mocking and demonizing everyone who does not follow you into the pits of hell. You constantly imply – as Mitt Romney did in his “47% speech” – that anybody who disagrees with you does so not by logic or moral conviction, but because they are shiftless, lazy parasites who want “free stuff” from “traditional Americans.” Wow, you guys managed to follow up a stunning electoral defeat with insulting the very people you wish to attract for a majority in the political system! Brilliant! You are losing elections because being angry and defensive and just-plain-mean is more important than being smart and winning elections – and thus you deserve everything happening to you.

First all all, mean is not an argument; it’s simply an ad hominem insult, and deserves little consideration.  In the spirit of finger pointing, here are few examples of mean from the other side of the aisle.  I’m too lazy to find links, but anyone wishing to do so can easily find examples:  Conservatives are lambasted as Nazis, racists, homophobes and misogynists.  It’s mean to call them those names.  Israel, the only true liberal democracy in the autocratic, totalitarian, antisemitic, anti-Christian, homophobic Middle East, is routinely castigated as a Nazi, apartheid state that deserves to be destroyed.  That’s mean too.  During the Bush presidency, Democrats characterized Bush as a Nazi, as Hitler, as a chimpanzee, as a murder, and as an idiot.  That’s not very nice.  Barack Obama spent his entire 2012 political campaign ginning up class resentment against rich people or, as I like to call them, employers.  That’s not nice.  Obama’s Occupy movement raped women, attacked people, defecated all over the place, brought barrels of human waste into buildings, rioted, destroyed public property, and harassed people in their own homes.  That’s mean too.

I hope that I have established to Eric’s, and everyone else’s, satisfaction, that calling people names is (a) a game that both sides can play and (b) completely pointless in terms of moving the ball from one side of the debate to the other.

Oh, and by the way, it’s really nasty to call your opponents in the argument “A-holes.”

If you want to know exactly where you failed in 2012, and will continue to fail, here it is. Look you assholes, I’m as traditional an American as it gets, and I do not “want free stuff.”  I am a taxpayer, and ALWAYS HAVE BEEN. I got my first job – dragging bags of cow manure, horse feed and fertilizer around a farm store – when I was 12. I started my first company when I was 28. I have followed the vast majority of the rules set out for middle class white males (for good and for ill.) And if it weren’t bad enough that your policy positions are a complete clusterfuck for the reasons I lay out in great detail, you manage to follow up the whole exercise with insulting me, my wife, and my friends of every stripe who didn’t vote for your political party – all of whom are hard-working, taxpaying, job creating, law abiding, great AMERICANS of EVERY COLOR AND CREED.

In my experience, people revert to obscenities and crude insults only when they’re boors or when they have no ideas — or both.  Eric has a few good points (Republicans need to spend less), but mostly, he wallows in myths, canards, and insults.  In that last paragraph quoted, when he drops the pretense of facts and objectivity (all of which are easy to counter), he reveals his true self:  he is not a serious or a decent person.  He is, instead, a bully.

Having escaped my bubble and carefully examined Eric’s arguments, I understand both where he’s coming from and where he is going — and I can’t say I like either his point of origin (an ideological location I once shared) or his ultimate destination.  Eric argues from ignorance and heads to obsolescence.  Let us hope that, in the coming years, his world view does not prevail.

Stuff, all of which is depressing, about Democrat government and Democrat party-line media

In no particular order:

Listen to Richard Epstein and John Yoo explain why ObamaCare is a more heinous government policy than any ever before imposed on the American people.  Pay special attention to Richard Epstein’s point about the dangers lurking in rule by waiver, which is antithetical to rule by law.  (This is in the last video.)  (Hat tip:  JKB)

Don’t let the cheerful numbers about GDP, etc., mislead you.  Everything that’s improving in the economy (and things are improving) is being sucked up by government spending and debt.  Oh, joy!

Tom Elia caught the PBS Newshour in something that can politely be called deceit by omission.

I think I need to have some quiet time with my dog.  This all depresses me.

The U.S. debt in terms we can all understand

A friend sent this:

This helps to understand the US debt:
• U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000
• Fed budget: $3,820,000,000,000
• New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000
• National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
• Recent budget cut: $ 38,500,000,000

Let’s remove 8 zeros and pretend it’s a household budget.
• Annual family income: $21,700
• Money the family spent: $38,200
• New debt on the credit card: $16,500
• Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
• Total budget cuts: $385

CLEARER, huh?

What’s wrong with this picture; or, is there something wrong with this picture? *UPDATED*

This picture showed up on my liberal friends’ posts at Facebook today:

As for me, over the past two years, I’ve been spending my time looking at this picture, or ones very similar:

”"

The first image is about debt and the second is about deficit.  Is that the only difference?  Can someone please explain to me why the first one, which is circulating freely amongst liberals, makes it look as if Obama’s a piker when it comes to spending, while the other one, the chart conservatives drag out, makes it appear that Obama is very quickly driving us into the poor house?

What occurs to me looking at the first chart is that, fearsome red lines notwithstanding, the country was thriving under Reagan (and it did pretty well under Bush too).  Conversely, the country is struggling under Obama, despite that little blue 16% line.  Meanwhile, the second chart, which shows serious red Obama years coincides with serious economic despair in the country.

I know I’m being stupid and simplistic about this.  I can only blame a combination of economic ignorance and severe sleep deprivation (call it Insomnia “R” Us).

UPDATE:  You’re all correct (of course).  As this fact-check from PolitiFact shows, the chart falls into the lies, damn lies, and statistics category.  Thank you, cuneiandro, for the link.

By George! I think she’s got it

Don Surber draws our attention to a Wall Street protestor who has a sign that actually makes sense:  “Debt = Slavery.”  Of course, we know that this Leftist dingbat, when she speaks of debt, is talking about the large credit card bill she doesn’t want to pay, and the mortgage she thinks it’s so unfair the bank would impose on the property in which she wants to live for free.  But unwittingly, as Surber explains at greater length, she’s absolutely right:  government debt does make us slaves.

I’m in the process of reading Mark Blitz’s Conserving Liberty (they sent me — me! — a review copy), and his point, as the title indicates is, freedom (or liberty), not from banks, but from GOVERNMENT!  A debt-ridden government, armed with all the power of the state, holds its citizens in chains.  I’ll tell you more about the book as I go along or when I’ve finished it.  Blitz is not a scintillating writer, but he’s a thoughtful and interesting one.  It makes for slightly slower reader, but I’m not bored.

Wisconsin Liberal Disconnects

Today, several schools in Wisconsin announced that they would be closed so that their teachers could attend protests in the state capital, Madison, against GOP Gov. Walker’s proposals to take away collective bargaining rights from public sector unions. Wisconsin, like neighboring Illinois, is going broke. The behavior of the Wisconsin public school teachers pretty much underscores why Gov. Walker is right.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chibrknews-protests-mount-as-wis-lawmakers-consider-antiunion-bill-20110217,0,5403222.story

We have several friends and relatives in Wisconsin who come from solid blue-color union backgrounds. Some have already retired on handsome benefit packages (one was able to retire with full retirement benefits at age-49), albeit from the private sector. Following their Facebook comments, we learn that they are in full uproar, encouraging each other to go to Madison to lend their support to the protests.

The funny thing is, these are the same individuals who have been complaining to us that they are thinking of moving out of Wisconsin because the cost of living and taxes are too high.

I suspect that this type of cluelessness is pretty common among Liberals in general.

So, in trying to patiently explain our (national) debt crisis to Liberals (I know, I know…for too many of them, math is hard, so KISS), I propose trying to lead them to the following exchange, based on conversations that I have had:

Liberal: “Our country should not have any trouble affording [insert Liberal pet project du jour]. We are the richest country in the world” (a line repeated to me ad nauseum)

Conservative: “Is someone with an annual income of $150,000 rich?”

(national GDP of roughly $15 trillion)

Liberal: “yes”

Conservative: “Is someone with an annual income of $150,000 that already owes $1,300,000 and $15,000 in new credit card debt rich”?

(Government debt obligations of $130 trillion plus $1.5 trillion in annual debt)

Liberal: ??

Conservative: “This is where we are as a country today!” (national + state debt plus entitlements, in trillions).

Does anyone have any better ideas on how to get this simple idea across to Liberals….that we are flat broke?

Obami and Congressional Democrats no longer function rationally

There is something deeply, deeply wrong with the Obami and the Congressional Democrats.  Or maybe not.  Maybe they are just all too human and are living out that saying that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  In this case, the corruption isn’t necessarily monetary (although that’s there too).  Instead, it’s a rot of the soul; an inability to confront the reality of actual governance, and a desire, instead, to live in a fantasy world.

As I read the stories about Dems lately, I keep thinking of Nero.  When Nero first become Emperor in Rome (54 A.D.), he was a golden boy.  He was handsome and charming.  Initially, he decreased corruption and increased freedom in Rome.  Eventually, however, unfettered power led Nero to unfettered acts of insane cruelty and murder.  There was nothing to stop him, so he became unstoppable.  (Leaders ranging from Caligula, to Mao, to Mugabe, to Kim Jong-Il are also nices example of the dangers of having unlimited power vested in a single person/group.)

I see the same thing going on in Washington.  The Democrats control completely both the executive and legislative branches.  Procedurally, there is nothing to stop them.  What should be stopping them, of course, is harsh reality:  the unyielding laws of economics, the increased arrogance of our enemies, and the growing disaffection of the voters.  But the Democrats, drunk on unlimited power, cannot stop themselves.  Indeed, our arrogant president, despite having accomplished nothing but emboldening our enemies, cheerfully awarded himself a B+ in governance.  There’s delusion for you.

Despite the fact that the voters are turning against government health care in droves, the Democrats are bound and determined to pass it.  Despite the fact that more and more evidence is appearing to show that the climate change “science” is corrupt, politically-driven voodoo, the Democrats insist on destroying our economy to meet illusive and impossible climate goals.  And most recently, despite the fact that a respected bipartisan economic organization is stating that the debt path the Democrats are pursuing is unsustainable, the Democrats won’t be stopped there either:

After passing a $447 billion spending bill Sunday, Congress faces a Jan. 1 deadline to raise the ceiling on the national debt even as a bipartisan expert panel warned Monday that the United States faces a potential funding crisis.

The Peterson-Pew Commission, composed of former members of Congress and budget experts, warned that the federal budget has reached a danger zone much faster than anticipated even a year ago. Like a homeowner swimming in mortgage debt, the government’s bills are growing faster than its income, to the point where overseas investors holding U.S. debt could be spooked at any moment.

“The long-run future is upon us,” said former Clinton administration budget chief Alice Rivlin. Bush administration debt, rapidly escalating health care costs, a deep recession that has slashed tax revenue, and record government spending this year on a $787 billion stimulus and a $700 billion bank rescue have, she said, “raised the debt very, very rapidly, to nervous-making levels.”

Still, Democratic leaders in Congress and the Obama administration contend that joblessness is the more important problem now. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised to pass a new jobs package this week as part of the $626 billion defense bill, including an extension of benefits for the unemployed and new infrastructure spending.

Obama economic adviser Christina Romer said it would be “suicidal” to cut spending with the unemployment rate above 10 percent. Economic growth is the best remedy to the deficit, they argue.

When it comes to the deficit, the closest analogy I can think of is a deranged physician who gives a person with a bad flu a toxic doses of chemotherapy on the principle that the chemotherapy will cure what ails him.   The best thing for the patient would be to fall ill rapidly, go to another doctor, and immediately have the medicine withdrawn.  The worst thing would be for the steady drip of the chemo to debilitate the patient so slowly that, by the time he realizes what’s wrong, it’s too late — he’s as good as dead.

The same holds true for us.  Because of the Democrats’ hubris, the American people are swiftly wising up to the appalling damage the Democrats are inflicting on our nation, both economically and in terms of national security.  That’s good because, in theory, that means we’re like the patient who got a second opinion quickly, rather than dying slowly.  However, the election process means that, even though we know we’re being grossly mistreated, we can’t do anything about it until November 2010.  This question, then, is whether we can survive that long without dying first.