Friday, May 28, 2010

Gummi Bear Surgery.





More.

Irony.

Michael Moran of Brighton is a staunch supporter of the “sanctuary” approach to illegal immigration we have here in Massachusetts. He voted against the Perry amendment that would require applicants for state benefits to prove they’re here legally. Moran voted for subsidized college tuition for illegals, too.

It’s safe to say that no Massachusetts politician has done more to make illegal immigrants feel welcome. Illegal immigrants like 27-year-old Isaias Naranjo, who (ahem) “met” Moran on the streets of Brighton last week.

According to Fox 25, Naranjo was driving 60 mph when he slammed his car into Moran’s. Naranjo was also drunk, driving without a license and - in an only-in-Massachusetts twist - was wearing a “Mexican costume” at the time.

Now if Naranjo were just another Massachusetts taxpayer, he would be in some serious guacamole. But Fox reports that when police tried to explain the seriousness of his situation, he just laughed.

“Nothing is going to happen to me, man,” Naranjo told the cops. That’s because he was “going back to my home country, Mexico.”

More.

Can We Quit the UN Yet?

Why on Earth are Americans, unlike their enlightened comrades in Europe, so skeptical of the United Nations? I haven't a clue, though I suspect that, as Tim Cavanaugh noted a few weeks ago, it might have something to do with Iran being nominated to the UN Commission on the Status of Women. This was Tehran's Plan B, having been pressured into abandoning its bid to sit on the UN Human Rights Council. Hilarious, right? After slaughtering demonstrators in the streets, filling the torture chambers at Evin prison with students, they wanted to adjudicate on human rights violations in other countries? Silly Mullahs, those spots are resevered for countries like Switzerland, Spain, and...Libya.

More.

Trickle-Down Misery in L.A.

Increasingly, government workers are the electoral base of the party of government. So Villaraigosa must live with the arithmetic of interest-group liberalism. The federal government, he says, can run deficits and print money; the state government (supposedly) must balance the budget but can push burdens down onto cities. There, he says, “you have 10 cookies in the cookie jar and every interest wants all 10.”

The nightmare numbers include the state’s unemployment rate (12.6 percent)—it is higher than the nation’s (9.9)—and the city’s rate (13.5), which is higher than the state’s. The city’s long-term success depends on its schools, in many of which most of the children come from homes without fathers, and in some of which, Villaraigosa says, 40 percent of the children are in foster homes. He has little control over the school system and, anyway, unions oppose radical reforms. He would like to emulate the education reforms of former Florida governor Jeb Bush, a recent visitor to the mayor’s residence, but, holding his fingers three inches apart to suggest the thickness of the standard contract with the teachers’ union, Villaraigosa calls the union “the most powerful defender of the status quo.”


More.

The New Old German Problem.

I’ve been walking the last two days through Munich. Much of the city core was bombed out by the allies by spring 1945. Yet today there is little evidence of such destruction. The museums are among the best in the world, the streets and parks spotless, the infrastructure superb, and the people as hard at work as ever. To walk an urban street in Germany is a different experience from say in Athens or Istanbul — traffic follows law, pedestrians are respected, horns are used rarely, trash is absent. In other words, things work and work well.

Such observations sound stereotypical these days, but to even the casual observer the difference between life in Germany and much of the eastern and southern Mediterranean seems far greater than the divide between a Minnesota and Mississippi. For someone who has lived in Greece and occasionally visits Germany, it becomes increasingly clearer each year why the European Union won’t work. Germans work and create wealth. Yet under the present system, they do not receive commensurate psychological rewards — and they increasingly receive insufficient material compensation as well.

And history shows us that an unhappy Germany is a very dangerous thing indeed.



More.

We’re too broke to be this stupid.

Back in 2008, when I was fulminating against multiculturalism on a more or less weekly basis, a reader wrote to advise me to lighten up, on the grounds that “we’re rich enough to afford to be stupid.”

Two years later, we’re a lot less rich. In fact, many Western nations are, in any objective sense, insolvent. Hence last week’s column, on the EU’s decision to toss a trillion dollars into the great sucking maw of Greece’s public-sector kleptocracy. It no longer matters whether you’re intellectually in favour of European-style social democracy: simply as a practical matter, it’s unaffordable.

More here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Creative Proposal for Reducing Prison Rape.

In boxing, heavyweights don't fight featherweights. It's not a fair fight. But in prison, heavyweights serve their time side-by-side with featherweights. A simple remedy for rape and brutality, then, is split up prisoners by size and strength. You could assign the various classes of prisoners to different wings. Or if that's too logistically difficult, you could assign each prison a weight class, then reallocate existing prisoners.

Admittedly, we already have prisons for different kinds of offenses - minimum security, maximum security, and everything in between. Like separating men and women, this probably makes the prison experience a little less hellish. But there's still a long way to go, and my proposal seems like an obvious and cheap improvement over the status quo.

More.

Expropriate the Expropriators!

In Marxist theory, the Communist Party represented the interests of productive workers, the value of whose labor is expropriated by others. That was wrong, but at least it had a certain coherence. Greek Communists (and more generally, 21st century socialists) stand for something quite different: the "right" to be supported by the labor of others (in the Greek case, Germans); the "right" to be a sponge, forever; the "right" to be an exploiter. It would be hard to think of a less attractive political program.

More.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Class War.

In April 2008, The Orange County Register published a bombshell of an investigation about a license plate program for California government workers and their families. Drivers of nearly 1 million cars and light trucks—out of a total 22 million vehicles registered statewide—were protected by a “shield” in the state records system between their license plate numbers and their home addresses. There were, the newspaper found, great practical benefits to this secrecy.

“Vehicles with protected license plates can run through dozens of intersections controlled by red light cameras with impunity,” the Register’s Jennifer Muir reported. “Parking citations issued to vehicles with protected plates are often dismissed because the process necessary to pierce the shield is too cumbersome. Some patrol officers let drivers with protected plates off with a warning because the plates signal that drivers are ‘one of their own’ or related to someone who is.”

The plate program started in 1978 with the seemingly unobjectionable purpose of protecting the personal addresses of officials who deal directly with criminals. Police argued that the bad guys could call the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), get addresses for officers, and use the information to harm them or their family members. There was no rash of such incidents, only the possibility that they could take place.

So police and their families were granted confidentiality. Then the program expanded from one set of government workers to another. Eventually parole officers, retired parking enforcers, DMV desk clerks, county supervisors, social workers, and other categories of employees from 1,800 state agencies were given the special protections too. Meanwhile, the original intent of the shield had become obsolete: The DMV long ago abandoned the practice of giving out personal information about any driver. What was left was not a protection but a perk.



More.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

We Are Out of Money: American governance won’t begin to inch forward until the political class faces basic facts.

In March the federal government created the most expensive new entitlement in four decades, even as the bond rating company Moody’s Investors Service warned that debt levels could soon precipitate a downgrade in U.S. Treasury bonds. The main opposition party fought the bill by decrying “cuts” to Medicare, and it has kept itself at arm’s length from one of the few politicians talking seriously about long-term reform.

Today may be terrible, but tomorrow is going to be much worse, at least as measured by such metrics as deficits, debt, and entitlement spending. In an April speech, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke laid out the misery that awaits us. “The arithmetic is, unfortunately, quite clear,” he said. “To avoid large and unsustainable budget deficits, the nation will ultimately have to choose among higher taxes, modifications to entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, less spending on everything else from education to defense, or some combination of the above.”

Yet in the very next paragraph, Bernanke displayed the kind of cowardice that got us into and has helped extend our awful economic mess: “Today the economy continues to operate well below its potential, which implies that a sharp near-term reduction in our fiscal deficit is probably neither practical nor advisable. However, nothing prevents us from beginning now to develop a credible plan for meeting our long-run fiscal challenges.”

States, counties, and municipalities, lacking Bernanke’s ability to print money, do not have the luxury of “beginning now to develop a credible plan” for the future. They are flat out of money in the present. But they too refuse to face reality.



Read the whole thing.

Creedence Clearwater Revival: Bad Moon Rising.

Leadbelly: The House of the Rising Sun.

What Arizona's Immigration Law Really Says.

The reaction from advocates for illegal immigrants to SB 1070 -- which, according to opinion polls, is supported by some 70% of Arizonans -- can only be described as incendiary and irresponsible, not to mention patently inaccurate. Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony invoked images of Nazi Germany and Soviet totalitarianism. Reform Immigration for America, an umbrella coalition of pro-amnesty groups, warned ominously that "it's racial profiling, and it encapsulates the hatred we are fighting." ACORN's Bertha Lewis declared, "If this bill passes, Arizona is declaring itself an apartheid state."

SB 1070 is not a mandate for Arizona police to seek out illegal immigrants. It conforms fully with the Constitution's 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure. Under the law, Arizona police are prohibited from racially profiling or stopping anybody merely because of appearance or ethnicity. They may inquire about immigration status only if there is justification for the stop under the Constitution -- such as investigating a possible crime -- and there is reasonable suspicion that the individual is in the U.S. illegally.

And what is reasonable suspicion? Reasonable suspicion might include the lack of any sort of valid U.S. identification documents that police officers routinely request from anyone who is lawfully stopped. The law expressly states that race, color or ethnicity does not constitute reasonable suspicion of illegal presence in the U.S. In reality, SB 1070 does nothing more than require police in Arizona to protect the citizenry and uphold responsibilities abrogated by the federal government.

More.

The Abstract Party vs. the Concrete Party.

Sometimes I think the biggest cleave in politics is between the Abstract Party and the Concrete Party. The Abstraction Party is largely, but not entirely, the liberal Democrats, and the Concrete Party is largely, but not entirely, the conservative Republicans.

The Abstract Party thinks, of course, in abstractions, and elevates these abstractions -- often speculative or plain fantastical -- over real-life human lives, the concrete, the real, the demonstrable, the solid. And part of what sustains the Abstract Party is their faith, a religious faith, really, that what they "know" abstractly they know with 100% surety, so if they're told by their priests (their politicians and pundits) that it's better in a the long run that some dirty farmers are bankrupted and die penniless than we allow the delta smelt to die off, then they just believe that, on faith (as it's speculative, and who has anyway of knowing what's best in the long run; in the long run, as they say, we're all dead), and simply push forward with plans that result in catastrophic ruin for real-life people because they are so damn sure their belief in a speculative abstraction trumps any of that.

As a member of the Concrete Party, that gives me great pause. I don't really possess that level of intellectual arrogance. I can't believe in speculation and abstraction enough to think that, when the rubber meets the road, I can choose obliterative poverty for an entire region of the country with the confidence that I'm doing the right thing by basically ending human lives.

The Abstract Party has done an awful lot of evil in the world. I'm going full Godwin here to note that the Nazis were a party of abstraction, fueled by the unproven belief, which they nevertheless were willing to kill for, so sure of it were they, the Jews were somehow responsible for just about every ill in Germany and that some abstract and speculative Utopia would arise if only the lands could be purged of the Jews.

Elevating, again, a belief in some dreamy abstraction over the real and inarguable suffering created by it.


More.

Will California’s Tech Firms Stay?

Measured by per-household state and local government spending, California ranks third-highest in the nation, behind Alaska and New York. The state government is trying desperately to squeeze money out of any profitable activity to meet the crippling costs. Further, California continues to impose onerous regulations on the private sector. High taxes and stifling regulations give companies a strong incentive to move elsewhere. In this increasingly business-hostile environment, will Silicon Valley’s unique entrepreneurial spirit survive?

Read the whole thing.

Why Do Feminists Hate Female Flag Football?

In the NYT Sunday, a few high-powered females slammed high school flag football for girls, which apparently is really popular in Florida and some other states with football cultures. Flag football is even a varsity sport in Florida and Alaska. So, isn't this great? Title IX working at its best? Not for some people.

More.

Duke Ellington’s music and race in America.


More than half a century after the Civil War, the most famous night club in New York was a mock plantation. The bandstand was done up as a white-columned mansion, the backdrop painted with cotton bushes and slave quarters. And the racial fantasy extended well beyond décor: whites who came to Harlem to be entertained were not to be discomfited by the presence of non-entertaining Negroes.

All the performers were black—or, in the case of the chorus girls, café au lait—and all the patrons white, if not by force of law then by force of the thugs at the door. Ellington had to ask permission for friends to see his show. Ironically, it was the Cotton Club that allowed Ellington to expand his talents, by employing him to arrange and compose for a variety of dancers, singers, miscellaneous acts, entr’actes, and theatrical revues.

His most extraordinary talent, however, may have been for making the best of tainted opportunities. For the big revues, with their plots about black savages and threatened maidens, he devised music of sophistication and cheekily exotic allure, under such titles as “Jungle Blues,” “Jungle Night in Harlem,” and—sinister little masterpiece—“The Mooche.” But even before the band sounded a note it delivered a statement: impeccably dressed in matching tuxedos and boutonnières, its members were of a class with the biggest swells in the room. And Ellington was the swellest of all: unfailingly soigné, magisterially presiding over the urban jungle, he stood untouched and never lost his smile.

A Hidden History of Evil: Why doesn’t anyone care about the unread Soviet archives?


In the world’s collective consciousness, the word “Nazi” is synonymous with evil. It is widely understood that the Nazis’ ideology—nationalism, anti-Semitism, the autarkic ethnic state, the Führer principle—led directly to the furnaces of Auschwitz. It is not nearly as well understood that Communism led just as inexorably, everywhere on the globe where it was applied, to starvation, torture, and slave-labor camps. Nor is it widely acknowledged that Communism was responsible for the deaths of some 150 million human beings during the twentieth century. The world remains inexplicably indifferent and uncurious about the deadliest ideology in history.

For evidence of this indifference, consider the unread Soviet archives. Pavel Stroilov, a Russian exile in London, has on his computer 50,000 unpublished, untranslated, top-secret Kremlin documents, mostly dating from the close of the Cold War. He stole them in 2003 and fled Russia. Within living memory, they would have been worth millions to the CIA; they surely tell a story about Communism and its collapse that the world needs to know. Yet he can’t get anyone to house them in a reputable library, publish them, or fund their translation. In fact, he can’t get anyone to take much interest in them at all.



The rest is here.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Greatest Cricket Team of All Time...From a Literary Point of View.

The creator of Peter Pan, Sir James M. Barrie, was an enthusiastic cricketer and assembled the most extraordinary amateur cricket team ever to have taken the field. Some of the Edwardian England’s most famous authors including Arthur Conan Doyle, A. A. Milne, P. G. Wodehouse, and Jerome K. Jerome, regularly turned out for Barrie’s team from 1890 until 1913, when the team was brought to an end by the First World War.

The team also included Rudyard Kipling and H. G. Wells.

Details are here.

I Will Survive.

Fernando.

Pres Calderon interview w Wolf Blitzer

The "Money Quote" is at about 1:50.

Friday, May 21, 2010

More on Representations of Mohammed in Art.


Well it turns out that the tradition of not picturing Mohammed is a relatively recent one - one that really only appeared in the 1600's. So for almost a thousand years after Mohammed's death, it was acceptable and even common in some Muslim regions to draw him in full form. During the Caliphate period there were even coins minted with his face on them. Even the burqa which has become a symbol of traditional Islam didn't appear until after Mohammed died and was until recently confined mostly to women in the harems of the aristocracy.

A lot of behavior that radical Islamists insist on today in western countries are actually traditions that got added to Islam long after it was founded. So to make a stretched analogy - it's as if the Amish somehow got control of Christianity and decided that the fashions and practices of the 1700's define how a true Christian must act today. And threaten to kill you if you dare disagree.

Link.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

North Korea Warns of War if Punished for Ship Sinking

SEOUL, South Korea – Tensions deepened Thursday on the Korean peninsula as South Korea accused North Korea of firing a torpedo that sank a naval warship, killing 46 sailors in the country's worst military disaster since the Korean War.

President Lee Myung-bak vowed "stern action" for the provocation following the release of long-awaited results from a multinational investigation into the March 26 sinking near the Koreas' tense maritime border. North Korea, reacting swiftly, called the results a fabrication, and warned that any retaliation would trigger war. It continued to deny involvement in the sinking of the warship Cheonan.

"If the (South Korean) enemies try to deal any retaliation or punishment, or if they try sanctions or a strike on us .... we will answer to this with all-out war," Col. Pak In Ho of North Korea's navy told broadcaster APTN in an exclusive interview in Pyongyang.

An international civilian-military investigation team said evidence overwhelmingly proves a North Korean submarine fired a homing torpedo that caused a massive underwater blast that tore the Cheonan apart. Fifty-eight sailors were rescued from the frigid Yellow Sea waters, but 46 perished.



More.

Lee Harvey Oswald and the Liberal Crack-Up.

Liberalism entered the 1960's as the vital force in American politics, riding a wave of accomplishment running from the Progressive era through the New Deal and beyond. A handsome young president, John F. Kennedy, had just been elected on the promise to extend the unfinished agenda of reform. Liberalism owned the future, as Orwell might have said. Yet by the end of the decade, liberal doctrine was in disarray, with some of its central assumptions broken by the experience of the immediately preceding years. It has yet to recover.

What happened? There is, of course, a litany of standard answers, from the political to the cultural to the psychological, each seeking to explain the great upheaval summed up in that all-purpose phrase, “the 60's.” To some, the relevant factor was a long overdue reaction to the repressions and pieties of 1950's conformism. To others, the watershed event was the escalating war in Vietnam, sparking an opposition movement that itself escalated into widespread disaffection from received political ideas and indeed from larger American purposes. Still others have pointed to the simmering racial tensions that would burst into the open in riots and looting, calling into question underlying assumptions about the course of integration if not the very possibility of social harmony.

No doubt, the combination of these and other events had much to do with driving the nation's political culture to the Left in the latter half of the decade. But there can be no doubt, either, that an event from the early 1960's—namely, the assassination of Kennedy himself—contributed heavily. As many observers have noted, Kennedy's death seemed somehow to give new energy to the more extreme impulses of the Left, as not only left-wing ideas but revolutionary leftist leaders—Marx, Lenin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, and Castro among them—came in the aftermath to enjoy a greater vogue in the United States than at any other time in our history. By 1968, student radicals were taking over campuses and joining protest demonstrations in support of a host of extreme causes.

It is one of the ironies of the era that many young people who in 1963 reacted with profound grief to Kennedy's death would, just a few years later, come to champion a version of the left-wing doctrines that had motivated his assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. But why should this have been so? What was it about mid-century liberalism that allowed it to be knocked so badly off balance by a single blow?



The whole article is here.

Mark Steyn on Everybody Draws Mohammed Day.

I'm bored with death threats. And, as far as I'm concerned, if that's your opening conversational gambit, then any obligation on my part to "cultural sensitivity" and "mutual respect" is over. The only way to stop this madness destroying our liberties is (as Ayaan Hirsi Ali puts it) to spread the risk. Everybody Draws Mohammed Day does just that.

More.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

“Liberal” Defined

Someone who’s still angry about slavery 145 years after it ended, but wants you to “get over 9/11″.

Stolen from IMAO.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Awesome.

Gov Christie calls S-L columnist thin-skinned for inquiring about his 'confrontational tone'











The Problem With Woodrow Wilson.

If you want to claim everything stemming from the Western Enlightenment tradition as “progressive” you’re free to do so. But analytically, where does that get you? By this logic we’re all progressives—and by all, I mean conservatives, libertarians, Bolsheviks, liberals, anarchists, and Maoists—because we’re not Medievalists. But if progressive is to mean something more concrete and specific—say, the ideas associated with the New Republic, Herbert Croly, Teddy Roosevelt’s Progressive Party, and the administration of Woodrow Wilson—then Scott’s use of “progressive” is almost meaningless.

More.

The Media Narrative.

What makes the "Neutral Story Line" not neutral at all is that the media seems most interested, each cycle, in the "Neutral Story Li9ne" that hurts the Republicans more. For instance, the amount of money flowing into elections became a more and more intense problem as more and more money flowed to Republicans, putting Democrats at a disadvantage. The supposedly Neutral Story Line doesn't really seem all that Neutral when you consider that there's-too-much-money-in-politics reached its crisis stage during Bush's 2004 election, when he spent more money than anyone in history, but suddenly wasn't a problem at all when Obama topped him in 2008. This despite the fact that Bush actually had a higher percentage of small-money donors than Obama (as a percentage of total money donated), and Obama had a bigger percentage of high-dollar donors.

The media loves these story lines, because facially they appear neutral -- "money in politics is a danger" has no on-its-face, explicit partisan import -- but the timing of when to deploy a particular story line is highly partisan, and always made with the Democratic Party's best interests in mind.

Thus, when Bush refused the campaign spending limits, and spent only private money, it was nearly a constitutional crisis; when Obama did the same, it was a triumph of people-powered politics.

Are conspiracy theories bad? Well, right now, when the Republican base is vulnerable to buying into conspiracy theories about Obama's birthplace or sabotaged deep-drilling oil rigs, conspiracy theories are bad, and examples of the Paranoid Style of American Politics.

On the other hand, when former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright confessed to Mort Kondracke she feared Bush had actually captured bin Ladin and was secretly holding him only to publicize his capture on the eve of the 2004 elections, a party's trafficking in conspiracy theories wasn't even worth noting.

Certainly such conspiracy theories weren't worth noting when Bush and Cheney (and their deadly cabal) were accused of sabotaging a plane in order to murder a sitting and popular liberal US Senator.

More.

Scientists Discover Seaweed Kills Coral.

No word yet on whether Obama has blamed Bush for this yet.

The article is here.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

So I'm Taking Mr. Tibbs For A Walk...

Mr Tibbs.

...and we stop at this vending machine for street parking (Chicago has replaced city owned parking meters with this privately owned system-it's VERY unpopular). Tibbs being a dog, and this being a walk lets loose a stream all over this thing that would make a racehorse proud. As he's...unloading...this police car pulls up next to us. At first I'm a bit startled. The cop rolls down his window, smiles at the both of us and says:

"Good dog, next you have to go hit the Mayor's house".

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Ernie Harwell has Died.

Ernie Harwell (closest to camera) and George Kell calling a Tigers game in 1961.

The longtime Tigers broadcaster was 92.

I first heard Ernie cover a game in 1987. Harry Caray, the announcer for the Cubs had a stroke and number of guest announcers were brought in to cover for him while he was on the mend. George Will put in a fine effort as did then sitting President Ronald Reagan (a former Cubs announcer for WHO radio). Perhaps most impressive were his colleagues. One after another, virtually every current and many retired major league broadcaster took turns keeping Harry's seat warm while he recovered. Cub fans were given the remarkable opportunity hear America's game called by it's greatest voices. For me anyway Jack Buck, Vin Scully, and Mel Allen were among the very best and it was great to hear Jack Brickhouse behind the mic again. But the best...the best by far was Ernie Harwell of the Detroit Tigers.

He had been the announcer for both the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants before moving on to the Tigers in 1960. By the time I heard him he was already a legend. It seemed an honor just to hear him call a game. In a profession where you're paid to talk and "dead air" is feared more than anything else, Harwell was an anachronism. He had the self discipline to not talk. Better than anyone else I've ever heard, Harwell understood the natural rhythms of what is essentially a nineteenth century game. He allowed it to speak for itself, and in turn the listener was transported to to another time and place. A place where baseball's centrality in American life was absolutely unquestioned. It was old fashioned and decidedly unflashy...and wonderful. It was what baseball was meant to be.

He will be missed.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The Burden of Unions.

Do you have to love labor unions to be a good Democrat? That was the question raised last year by the unpopular bailouts of unionized Detroit automakers. It's been raised again this year by California's budget crisis, created at least in part by generous pensions for unionized public employees. I think the answer is no. It's time for Democrats, even liberal Democrats, to start looking at unions and unionism with deep skepticism.

More.

Monday, May 03, 2010

How Much Does Society Owe to People Who Don't Pay Their Debts?

Without defending the cockamamie system of determining credit scores (in which even a default and foreclosure can end up dinging your credit history only a little bit more than a late payment on a store credit card), one thing needs to be clear: The purpose of a credit report is not to decide whether your problems are your own fault or whether you're a good person. It's to give lenders a sense of the probability that if they lend you money, you will pay it back according to the terms you agreed to before God, country and family. The loan modification's federal imprimatur does not change the fact that you are getting away with not honoring the terms of your agreement.

Leave aside that preventing a proven bad borrower from going further into debt is probably the best thing you can do for that person. Exactly how "fair" is it to the vast majority of borrowers, who make their payments on time and on the money, to allow bad borrowers to make consequence-free changes to their mortgages? The credit consequence of deadbeating is already minor considering the gravity of a mortgage default. Debt forgiven under a loan mod is already going untaxed. Hundreds of thousands of mortgage scofflaws are already enjoying years of payment-free living just because banks don't want to foreclose. Should there be no penalty at all for going bad on a loan?

More.

Hold the VAT -- Taxpayers May Prefer Spending Cuts.

The Obama Democrats' stealth strategy for increasing the size and scope of the federal government is well under way, despite huge voter backlash. Federal spending has been increased from a 30-year average of 21 percent of gross domestic product to 25 percent, and a bipartisan commission tasked with reducing the deficit may recommend tax increases. Presidential economic adviser Paul Volcker has already called for a value added tax, a form of national sales tax, and presidential press secretary Robert Gibbs has declined to rule it out.

The assumption in some quarters is that a tax increase is inevitable and that the public won't allow any significant decrease in public spending. But there's reason to question that assumption.

Obamacare’s Danger Signs

Not one of its major programs has gotten started, and already the wheels are starting to come off of Obamacare. The administration’s own actuary reported on Thursday that millions of people could lose their health insurance, that health-care costs will rise faster than they would have if the law hadn’t passed, and that the overhaul will mean that people will have a harder and harder time finding physicians to see them.

The White House is trying to spin the new report from Medicare’s chief actuary Richard Foster as only half bad because it concludes that, while costs will increase, only 23 million people will remain uninsured (instead of 24 million previously estimated).

Read the whole thing.

Six Reasons Why the Capital Gains Tax Should Be Abolished

Five Myths About Green Energy.

1. Solar and wind power are the greenest of them all.

Unfortunately, solar and wind technologies require huge amounts of land to deliver relatively small amounts of energy, disrupting natural habitats. Even an aging natural gas well producing 60,000 cubic feet per day generates more than 20 times the watts per square meter of a wind turbine. A nuclear power plant cranks out about 56 watts per square meter, eight times as much as is derived from solar photovoltaic installations. The real estate that wind and solar energy demand led the Nature Conservancy to issue a report last year critical of "energy sprawl," including tens of thousands of miles of high-voltage transmission lines needed to carry electricity from wind and solar installations to distant cities.

Nor does wind energy substantially reduce CO2 emissions. Since the wind doesn't always blow, utilities must use gas- or coal-fired generators to offset wind's unreliability. The result is minimal -- or no -- carbon dioxide reduction.

Denmark, the poster child for wind energy boosters, more than doubled its production of wind energy between 1999 and 2007. Yet data from Energinet.dk, the operator of Denmark's natural gas and electricity grids, show that carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation in 2007 were at about the same level as they were back in 1990, before the country began its frenzied construction of turbines. Denmark has done a good job of keeping its overall carbon dioxide emissions flat, but that is in large part because of near-zero population growth and exorbitant energy taxes, not wind energy. And through 2017, the Danes foresee no decrease in carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation.

More.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Uncontrolled borders and Washington's lack of self-control.

We are at a remarkable moment. We have an open, 2,000-mile border to our south, and the entity with the power to enforce the law and impose safety and order will not do it. Wall Street collapsed, taking Main Street's money with it, and the government can't really figure out what to do about it because the government itself was deeply implicated in the crash, and both political parties are full of people whose political careers have been made possible by Wall Street contributions. Meanwhile we pass huge laws, bills so comprehensive, omnibus and transformative that no one knows what's in them and no one—literally, no one—knows how exactly they will be executed or interpreted. Citizens search for new laws online, pore over them at night, and come away knowing no more than they did before they typed "dot-gov."

It is not that no one's in control. Washington is full of people who insist they're in control and who go to great lengths to display their power. It's that no one takes responsibility and authority. Washington daily delivers to the people two stark and utterly conflicting messages: "We control everything" and "You're on your own."



More.

We had this parade yesterday...


It seems in an attempt to piggyback on the wonderful success that international communism represents, pro-amnesty folks organized a march through downtown Chicago...right under my window.

Me: So can I drop water balloons on them?

The Wife: Well, they have this little thing called assault.


Me: Spoilsport.


The Wife: It looks like a bigger crowd than the Tea Party the other day.

Me: We had more people eligible to vote.




Saturday, May 01, 2010

Today is May First.


It is I think an excellent time to reflect on 80-100 million people murdered by communists during the twentieth century. It's also an excellent opportunity to tell someone that their Che Guevara t-shirt isn't cool.

Related.