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Mar 17, 2013

Forcing Votes that Embarrass Democrats



    Deroy Murdock wrote a great article the other day about forcing the Democrats to vote on spending cuts linked with other issues that give them a choice of angering voters in general or their union base in particular.

I think this is a fabulous idea.  If we want to take back the Senate and keep the House, we have to have a narrative that's better than what comes off our opponent's teleprompter.  That means we have to paint the Democrats as hopelessly under the corrupt influence of their big campaign donors, the unions.  We have to have Democrats vote on the record on a lot of stuff they have to look bad on in order to satisfy their union contributors.  In addition to Mr. Murdock's spending cuts coupled with popular programs, which are really great, immigration, education and federal civilian worker pay would be other good areas to highlight.  

The House should pass a stand alone guest worker program, which should apply to both illegal immigrants already in the US and workers who want to come here.  They should also pass an expanded H1B visa program as a stand alone bill, again open to anybody without regard to current immigrant status.  The Senate Democrats should have to explain to Hispanics and Asians why they won't vote for either one.   (Hint: Unions oppose them.)  In education, cut the Education Department’s bureaucracy enough to block grant a voucher program states can qualify for.  This gives Democrats the choice of upsetting the teachers unions or inner city Blacks suffering from atrocious schools.  

On federal civilian pay, demands for embarrassing information are the way to improve our narrative.  For example, have the congressional budget office find out how much is spent on compensation for the federal civilian workforce as a whole.  Also ask them to compute the full time equivalent number of federal civilian employees.  At this point, a simple calculation of expense per worker yields Democratic embarrassment.  The average voter can tell right away federal bureaucrats are making more than he or she is.  Let the Democrats weasel out of this by explaining how many more credentials federal workers have than the average worker.  It will sound stupid and elitist.  Even better, the information will allow the House to pass a government wide freeze on the total federal civilian personnel budget.  Our current freeze on the pay structure can be beaten by promoting everybody so the total spent rises even though the salary for every pay grade remains frozen.  If we freeze the current personnel budget, pay grade creep no longer works.

Some might say that these tactics will remove any chance of bipartisanship.  With a Chicago Democrat in the White House, how can we expect bipartisanship?  Having lived in Cook County over half of my life, I have to say that Obama "negotiates" just like Democratic Chicago Mayors or Cook County Commissioners negotiate with Republicans.  They do a nice reach-out photo op followed by a closed door meeting where they dictate the terms of what's going to happen. The Republicans can like it or lump it.  There is no bipartisanship involved in Chicago and there is none in the White House either.  It's just never going to happen, no matter what.

Response to Ryan's Budget



Here’s a link to a typical liberal’s response to the Ryan budget, in this case by Dana Milbank. 
What's interesting is liberals and math. We're borrowing 35 to 40 cents of every dollar Uncle Sam spends. No matter what the tax rates, since WWII federal revenue has never been greater than about 20 percent of GDP. However, liberals are spending 24 percent of GDP and want to go higher. The percentage of the potential workforce actually working is 63.5 percent. That's down from 65.8 in February of 2009. Harry Reid has been scared to hold budget votes, even in committee because it would embarrass his members. Democrats have had no plan, but they like to complain about Paul Ryan's plans. Liberals are great on emoting and feeling our pain. Fixing problems, not so much. However, since they really care, we're supposed to forget that their caring has no effect.  Liberals don't have to have facts as long as they emotionally care deeply, right?

Here’s the link to Federal Revenue as a percent of GDP, from that hotbed of conservative thought, the Brookings Institute:
Here’s workforce participation:

Liberals seem to have contempt for the laws that don’t serve their purposes, for example budget laws.  Obama has broken the law by not submitting the budget on time for FY2014.  According to Wikipedia, "The President, in accordance with to the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, must submit a budget to Congress each year. In its current form, federal budget legislation law (31 U.S.C. 1105(a)) specifies that the President submit a budget between the first Monday in January and the first Monday in February."  It's not going to be ready until April.  Maybe the president’s dog Bo ate it?  Harry Reid broke the law, the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, by not passing a budget.  By the way, Obama's FY 2011 budget lost in the Senate 97 to 0.  The House has passed a budget every year.  The Senate hasn’t passed one since February, 2009.   The Democratic response to Ryan budgets is best summed up by former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner who said in House testimony: “You are right to say we’re not coming before you today to say ‘we have a definitive solution to that long term problem.’  What we do know is we don’t like yours.” 

Here’s link to Geithner’s testimony:
Here’s the link to the US Budget process:

Liberals want the tax rates of Clinton. Conservatives would prefer the spending rates of Clinton.  The overall number of jobs under Obama is still below where it was when he took office.  I know it's all Bush's fault according to liberals, but when will the economy become Obama's?  So far, all the  stimulus seems to be mainly stimulating the UAW, AFSCME, SEIU and Obama's Solyndra buddies.  Could it be that political contributions have consequences?

The assertion that we are borrowing 40 cents on the dollar comes from Democratic Senator Kent Conrad on Sunday, January 23rd, 2011 in an interview on "This Week with Christiane Amanpour."

Is Sarbanes Oxley a Waste of Time?



Kevin D. Williamson wrote a really great article recently about the difference in Senator Elizabeth Warren’s treatment of rogue banks like HSBC and state and municipal fraudsters like the state of Illinois and the city of San Bernardino.
The article brought to mind a question that has bothered me for some time.  Why is Jon Corzine not indicted yet?  He was the CEO of MF Global when it went bankrupt.  Commodity broker MF Global used customer account money in its failing attempts to avoid bankruptcy.   Under Sarbanes Oxley as well as Securities laws, this is a crime.  In testimony before Congress, Cozine said he didn't know he was using customer money to meet MF Global's corporate margin calls.  I thought Sarbanes Oxley was specifically designed to make this defense impossible.  Note that Jon Corzine was a really big bundler of campaign contributions for Obama, as well as a former Democratic Senator and Governor of New Jersey.  Now that the campaign is over, can't we indict this guy?  Can't Warren demand some answers here?  If Sarbanes Oxley does not apply in this case, can we repeal it because compliance is both horribly expensive and, given MF Global shenanigans, a complete waste of time? 

Mar 14, 2013

Nanny State Result of Government Healthcare



The nanny state is a predictable outcome of Medicaid, Medicare and publicly funded healthcare in general.  Once the government is paying for your healthcare instead of you paying for it, they have a big interest in controlling your behavior as it contributes to your health.  They are paying the piper, so they want to call the tune.  While Mayor Mike Bloomberg is a little extreme, the general attitude is that experts know better than you do, so they want to tell you what’s good for you.  Also, they want to save on paying for your healthcare.  So progressives/liberals think they must be able to control your activities, for your own good.

Statistics Prove Assault Rifle Ban Bogus



The Washington Post has a story today about how emotions play out in the Senate committee hearing on gun control legislation.  It’s clear from the article the Diane Feinstein is very emotional about the issue and resents any rational argument to the contrary.
However, calm down and ask yourself some questions:  Are there any statistics collected federally or by states on the change in the use of semi automatic rifles in crimes before and after "assault weapon" bans? Are semi automatic rifles used in most murders? Are they even used in more murders than knives or blunt instruments? Given that Connecticut had and has an "assault weapon" ban, was this effective in stopping the mass shooting at the grade school? Are liberals aware how easy it is to make a spring loaded magazine with more than the legislated 10 round capacity for any mildly handy person with a few tools? Is emotion the only thing that counts for liberals?  Some of the answers can be found in the FBI statistics in the link below:
    In the chart, it shows 356 murders committed with rifles of all kinds, not just “assault rifles” or even just semi automatic rifles, in 2011.  Does that seem like a lot to you?  I have heard on the news that in Chicago we are over 500 murders per year just in the city alone. Here in Chicago, some of the strictest gun laws in the country do not seem to be stopping the violence. To put the number of rifle murders in perspective, there were 12,664 murders in the US in 2011 according to the FBI. So the number of rifle murders in 2011 is 2.5 percent of the total. There were 1,694 murders committed with edged weapons, like knives. There were 496 committed with blunt weapons like clubs, hammers and baseball bats. Should we require a background check to buy Swiss army knives as long as we are going to be letting them on airplanes?
    Here is a link to the number of murders by weapon for 2000-2004.
This is relevant because the federal assault weapon ban was in effect from 1994 to 2004.  Taking 2003, the last full year of the ban, the number of murders using rifles was 392.  The total number of murders was 14,465, giving 2.7% of murders that year committed by rifles.  Basically the same rate as 2011.  In other words, this whole stunt is a feel good emotional exercise which will infringe on Constitutional rights without any beneficial effects.
    By the way, since liberals like to bring up Hitler when discussing conservatives, I will mention him.  Hitler was a big gun control supporter.  Once in power, he passed the 1938 German Weapons Act.  Jews were not allowed to own guns under the act.  The act was designed to preclude Jewish armed resistance. 
    But there is some benefit to be had from this fiasco.  Remember that the Democrats in the Senate are going to force multiple votes on gun control.  This should cost about 7 Democratic Senators their jobs whether they vote for it or not.  If they vote for it, they lose to their Republican challenger.  If they don't, they get a primary from their left, eating up all their campaign cash.  In the words from Animal House, "This is gonna be great!" 

Mar 11, 2013

We Need to Cut Amtrak




Typical liberal response to any budget cut threat is: "You can't possibly cut (fill in the blank).  It’s way too important.  Besides it's not very much money by itself."  As Everett Dirksen once said, a billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you're talking real money.  We are borrowing 35 to 40 cents on the dollar of Federal spending.  The right answer is, we have to cut EVERYTHING WE CAN.  This includes the sacred cow of Amtrak.  The Amtrak subsidy budget is 1.45 billion dollars.  The romance of passenger trains is not worth it.  

http://www.planning.org/features/2012/federalbudget.htm

Grand Bargain?



There is no grand bargain worth having that Obama would ever offer.  Closed door grand bargain negotiations are a mechanism to shift the blame for failure to Republicans.  The House should continue to pass bills and let the Senate Democrats choke on them.  In immigration as well as budgets, the key is to pass bills in the House that seem reasonable and let Harry Reid explain why they don't pass the Senate.  For example, a guest worker program is a natural for Republicans.  However, once such a bill gets to the Senate it will die because the SEIU and the union farm workers don't want a guest worker program to pass.  The Senate would be unlikely to even consider the bill.  How would Senate failure to pass a guest worker bill play with Hispanic voters?  An expansion of H1B visas is another Republican natural that the Democrat's organized labor allies hate.  How would the Senate failure to pass a House expanded H1B visas bill look to Asian voters? 

Corporate Dystopia Unlikely



Kevin Williamson has a great column today about science fiction dystopias that are run by corporations.  As he observes, this is a very unlikely outcome. 
Fact is that corporations have only been oppressive when they get government help, particularly state guaranteed monopoly power.  The classic examples of this are the British East India Company and the Dutch East India Company, both of whom became de facto colonial governments with their home county governments’ assistance. 
  
Thankfully, there are a lot of competing science fiction visions that take a much more libertarian bent.  For example, "Cryptonomicon" by Neal Stephenson and the LaNague/KYFHO series of stories by F. Paul Wilson are both anti government and fun to boot.  Try them as an antidote to corporate villains. 

NIH Head Can't be a Nanny



It has come to my attention that the National Institutes of Health has funded research to show that the tea party is under the influence of the tobacco lobby.  When asked about this in a Congressional hearing, the head of the NIH gave a really strange response.  Dr. Francis Collins said that the NIH can’t be a “nanny” monitoring the contents of every research paper it funds. 
Given the intrusiveness of today's government, Dr. Collins' contention that the NIH can't be a nanny to every research topic it funds is ludicrous.  As always, the rules are constantly changing to suit liberal outcomes.  For an example of how much of a nanny government can be when it wants to be, check out George Will's story today on the expulsion of a 7 year old for biting his pop tart into the shape of a gun.  Clearly, liberals have absolutely no shame.

John Kerry Will Never Get My Respect



Every liberal in creation wants me to respect John Kerry for his service in Viet Nam  It ain’t going to happen.  John Kerry is the reason I got spit at during the Viet Nam War for wearing the uniform. His testimony before Congress was that everybody in the military was to blame for the war. He also said that most every US soldier in Viet Nam was a war criminal. Civilian hostility to the military was so bad then, I developed a routine to handle it. Keep in mind I was an Air Force ROTC cadet and then a computer programmer in an air defense unit. Neither was very threatening.  People on campus used to call me a "trained killer." I would respond, "Do you really believe I'm a trained killer?" They would say yes. Then I would ask, "Then why are you pissing me off?" All I can say is thank you, John Kerry. I will never forgive or forget.