Friday, February 12, 2016

What Recovery?

Journalists and politicians are still touting new unemployment claims as evidence that our economy is still strong despite the declining stock market, evidence signaled by the bond market, and that the rest of the world is clearly going into recession. We are not going into recession because our economy has “decoupled” from the world economy and workers are, presumably, not being laid off in droves. Today’s political candidates are hoping that theory holds up through the elections.

Unemployment is a “lagging indicator” moreover, meaning that the numbers are affected after the fact rather than beforehand, and economists know that. So to be using the unemployment numbers as a predictor of the economy is ignorance, stupidity or outright dishonesty.

In any case, our economy in terms of the working class is not strong and never even came close to any kind of “strong recovery” from the 2008 recession.

Ian Welsh, who is Canadian and is therefor guilty of a certain degree of honesty seldom found in this nation, presents a graphic depiction of the working class “recovery” in this country. It is striking and has great impact because he presents only the facts that are needed to paint a complete picture, using three graphs.

First he shows the graph of the official percentage of the workforce unemployed as calculated by the government’s Bureau of Lies and Scams, whereby if you are disgusted with the job market and are no longer looking for a job you are not unemployed, even though you do not have a job and are living with your parents and eating their food. Most journalists and politicians pull this graph out and wave it around, pointing to how the line plunges from a high of 10% down to its current 5% and claiming that it proves how wonderfully the economy has improved.

This graph is rather dramatically countered with another graph showing the percentage of the work force which is currently employed. Politicians and journalists never show or refer to this one because it drops from a high of 65% prior to 2008 down to below 59% in 2009, and it never significantly goes back up. There are fewer ways to cook these numbers, because whether you are looking for work or not, you are not participating in the work force if you do not have a job.

Notice, too, how the line did not start to drop noticeably until some time after the recession started, further evidence that unemployment cannot be used as a predictor of economic conditions.

One commentor promptly claimed that the reduced participation in the workforce was caused by illegal immigration which is, of course, utter nonsense. The work force is counted using Social Security numbers, and illegal immigrants don’t have Social Security numbers. The growth in the work force is caused by eighteen-year-olds, who are not in the work force, turning nineteen and becoming part of the work force.

His last graph provides the change in income for various wage groups between 2006 and 2014, which completes the picture that leads to the title of this piece.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Freelancing Backfires

I was making jambalaya yesterday and discovered I was out of creole seasoning. So I just made my own, grabbing bottles from the spice rack and throwing shit in the pot at random. It turned out awesome, better than it does when I use my usual Zatarain's, but now I have no idea whatever what I put in it. I don't mean how much of what, I mean what the hell it was that I put in. Next time take notes, fool. Oh well, back to Zatarain's.

Why?

If you are a man and you vote for a man because he is a man, you are an asshole. But, according to Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem, if you are a woman and you don't vote for a woman because she is a woman, "there is a special place in hell reserved for you."  If voting for a man due to gender is sexist, why isn't voting for a woman due to gender sexist?

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Hyping the Threat

When we launch a satellite into orbit we are “launching a satellite” using a rocket. When North Korea does so it is “testing a missile that could reach the United States” and, of course, it’s not a rocket it’s a missile. Even more alarming is that the satellite which the “missile” put into orbit was “about the size of a nuclear bomb” and it crossed over the Super Bowl.

Never mind that the game had been over for more than an hour, so it didn’t “cross over the Super Bowl,”  it crossed over an empty stadium. And we won’t go into how many things our satellites cross over, but it can be summed up as pretty much everything on the planet.

I love the bit about the satellite’s size. Nuclear bombs are top secret, so only a few people know how big they are, and none of them work for CBS News. I’d say it’s a safe bet that nuclear bombs come in a fairly wide variety of sizes, so claiming that the North Korean satellite is “about the size of a nuclear bomb” is hyperbole pretty much on the face of it.

I think this means we probably have to nuke North Korea.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Post Game

That was a good game if you like defense, which I do, but Phil Sims can near as dammit ruin a Super Bowl. Most of the time he has no idea what is going on and merely babbles from the vacuum which exists inside his head. Ginn catches a 32-yard pass and Simms tells us, "Of course Ward was all over it."  Ward was three steps away from it, which is why Ginn caught it.

I was disappointed in Cam Newton at several levels. He choked from the first quarter on. In the third quarter he backed away rather than making any attempt to recover his own fumble. And his lack of class after the game gave Auburn a bad name. Too bad. I won't enjoy watching him as much next year. If he'd merely had a bad game, sure, but to lose his professionalism during and after the game like that, to display the "I'm a classy Mr. Showboat, but only when I win,"  is just trashy.

People, including his own coach, are making excuses for him. "He's young and needs to grow into the role." Balderdash. This was his fourth year in the NFL and his fourth year as a starting quarterback for his team.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Pregame Ruminations

A few sports writers are picking the Broncos, but the Panthers are the overwhelming favorite. I can’t even really say which team I want to win, being a long time Broncos fan, and having been a fan of Cam Newton since he played for Auburn. The second half of that is quite a statement coming from someone for whom the opposite of “stop” is spelled with an “x.”  John Elway is is still with the Broncos and is my favorite player ever.

(For those not from the south, LSU, Geaux Tigers)

I would like to see Ronnie Hillman have a good day. He’s a little guy from San Diego State who was not supposed to make it in the NFL. I’d also like to see Ron Rivera have a good day. He is one of the finest gentlemen ever to grace the coaching ranks. Opposing teams, but...

As to eats: ribs and wings on the grill, and roasted potatoes. Not baby backs, but meaty ribs from a full grown pig, precooked yesterday and marinated overnight. I'm not really a big fan of wings, but my wife expressed a hankering and clipped a recipe from a magazine, and I want to encourage her suggestions so I went for it. Also precooked yesterday and marinated overnight for grilling today. Potatoes are those miniature golden ones, roasted until they are just slightly crunchy outside and nice and mealy inside.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Politics of Incrementalism

I am astonished, although perhaps I shouldn’t be, by the success of Hillary’s campaign against Bernie based on his ideas being “impractical” and that he could never get them through Congress. Like she could get anything through a Republican Congress, which hates her probably even worse than they do Obama.

But more than that, she is selling voters on the fear of losing. “We probably could not get it done, and trying to do it and failing would be a fate worse than death, so we must not, must not even try to do it.”  Never, she is telling us, attempt to do anything unless you are certain you can bring it off. Bernie keeps pointing out that you cannot get something done if you don’t even try to do it, but very few in the party leadership are listening.

What kind of political party buys into Hillary’s message? Who buys into a message that relative ineffectiveness is better than a risk of failure?

Nancy Pelosi does. As House Leader she would not permit a bill to come to the floor unless she knew in advance that she had the votes to pass it. She was never willing to come to the voters and say, “Well, we tried, but we were outvoted. Elect more of us and we will win next time.”  Instead, she didn’t even try.

Republicans voted something like twenty times to overturn Obamacare. It was a silly idea, in my opinion, but they were willing to lose a vote as often as necessary to keep trying to do something that they believe in. I respect that a whole lot more than I respect Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and their silly and cowardly politics of incrementalism.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Posted without comment

weekend forecast

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Paul Krugman is a Tool

Paul Krugman in the title of todays blog post says that his "head stagnates," which is true enough, but probably not in the way he meant when he wrote it. His head, mind, has been stagnating for some years.

In his post yesterday he manages to come up with a rationale that Clinton's "victory" in Iowa was not actually the virtual tie that statistics showed it to be, but was an overwhelming victory of massive importance.

Talk about being a tool of the establishment...

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Salon Does It Again

With an article titled, "7 places to find porn that’s actually worth watching."  I question the premise that any porn is actually worth watching, and I certainly did not go to any of the sites they listed. Just reading the descriptions of the sites that they considered to be "worth watching," gave me a bad case of the heebie jeebies. I'm not going to go into it here, but you can read for yourself what Salon considers to be "good porn."  Yikes.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Langiappe

No football this weekend. Well, there's the Pro Bowl, but who watches that? Stock car racing doesn't start until the week after the Super Bowl, which is itself still a week away. But I recorded some curling last night and, since that sport is not widely reported, I do not know the outcome. I can watch that.

It's women's curling, which is fine. Curling is the one sport in which there is absolutely zero difference in watching the men's and women's versions. I think a women's team could compete against a men's team on a perfectly equal footing. There probably should be some sort of profound social commentary to be made about that, but I can't think of any off the top of my head.

Anyway, I do enjoy watching curling, so I'm good to go.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Whole Story

It is amazing to me the number of pundits and politicians, Paul Krugman and Hillary Clinton among them, who are critical of universal health care based on the bogus argument that “it will massively increase taxes.”  Bernie Sanders has no problem with that, planning to add 2.2% to my personal income tax, a move which makes him my hero. Based on the advocacy of “voting in my own best interest,”  which I don’t do, that would get him my vote.

(As an aside, I vote in behalf of the best interest of the nation as a whole, not for the benefit of myself personally or of my own state.)

If Bernie passed universal health care, added 2.2% to my personal income tax, and relieved me of paying out the 13.2% of my income that I paid last year in health insurance premiums, copays and deductibles, I would be delighted with that. His opponents always mention the taxes, but they never point out that the taxpayer no longer has to pay for insurance.

In a similar vein, it was reported briefly in the news that signups in the “healthcare.gov” insurance plans has dropped this year by about one third over last year. The issue was dropped immediately by news organizations and has not been picked up for discussion by one single commentator or pundit. It’s a pretty massive drop in enrollment, and one has to wonder how come the media is not asking why it is happening.

I don’t know, of course, but one reason that occurs to me is that many people found out that having health insurance is not worth much when the copays and deductibles are so high, and the networks are so limited, that you cannot afford to use it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Flip Flop

A person can change position as he is presented with new information or as situations change. I have no problem with that. I would, in fact, have a problem with a person who refused to change position in the face of an evolving environment. But the Democratic Party has changed its fundamental campaign principle from “hope and change”  to “maintain the status quo,” and has done it entirely for the purpose of maintaining its grip on the power of the White House.

I would expect Hillary Clinton to use pretty much anything she can to be critical of Bernie Sanders. I do not say that critically of Clinton; she is running against him in an election. She cannot oppose his plan for universal health care on its merits, Democrats have been advocating that for decades, but she has to find some manner in which to be critical of his espousal of it, and so she decides that his promise is too radical and can never succeed. She claims that we need to maintain the present plan and just tinker with some improvements to it.

So far, I have no problem with the ethics of this, although I would certainly be inclined to back the candidate who has more courage and not the cowardly candidate who says that my nation is incapable of adopting significant change. Canada was able to convert from the same system we presently use for health care to the universal plan that Sanders proposes, and I’m no fan of anyone who claims Canada can do that which America cannot.

My issue is with the Democratic Party, who backs the Clinton approach. “This is a nation of incremental change,” is the mantra of the party leadership, after eight years of marching in lockstep with a president who was the “hope and change” presidential candidate. Either the nation changed pretty dramatically in the past eight years, which would debunk their “nation of incremental change” theory, or the Democratic Party did.

They are, however, trying to change and not change at the same time, to be both revolutionary and status quo, because they are campaigning for the first female president and suggesting that we should vote for her both because she is a woman and because she won’t change things very much.

So other than changing history by her gender she’s not going to do much, and voting for her purely to feminize the White House would not be the least bit sexist. Voting for someone else, and thereby avoiding feminizing the White House, would make you a chauvinist misogynistic pig.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Bad Weather Driving

I was driving down the I-8 freeway a couple days ago on a clear, sunshiny day and threw a glass of water out of my car window. Four cars behind me crashed.

No, it is NOT Brady vs. Manning

At no time will Tom Brady ever "face off against"  Payton Manning on the football field today. Football doesn't work that way. It is Payton Manning vs. the New England defense and Tom Brady vs. the Denver defense.

Okay, actually it's the New England offense vs. the Denver defense, and the Denver offense vs. the New England defense. Whatever.

Payton Manning is a dead quarterback who doesn't know he died of old age two years ago. Only a few people, me being one of them, are able to admit that the man is at least two years past his prime. Still, a dead Payton Manning is better than at least thirteen other NFL starting quarterbacks who are still alive, so...  Not to mention that if you can get to Tom Brady with your front four you can beat him. If you have to blitz him, Tom Brady will kill you because the blitz will have left the secondary weakened, but Denver can get to him with their front four.

Denver by a score of 24-17.

I want Cam Newton the Panthers to beat Arizona, but the game is close and hard to call. I would like Cam Newton to score about ten touchdowns, because I love the looks on the faces of the little kids he gives the footballs to.

I'll go with the Panthers, 38-31.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Snowpocalypse?

At the center of the storm, Washington DC, the forecast is for 12"-24" of snow, and the media is treating this as something close to the end of the world. Grocery stores are empty, schools closed in advance, people are being warned that they could die... The subway is shut down. The subway. Isn't that underground?

I don't get it. I lived in Milwaukee WI for six years, and we had 24" snowfalls several times every year. We had "dipstick heaters" in our cars. If you don't know what that is, I'm very happy for you.

Sometimes 24" or more fell overnight while we were sleeping, and that did not even provide a valid excuse for being late to work the next morning. It certainly didn't result in news anchors coming to town and screaming about the end of the world.

What is this country turning into?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Media Mediocrity

The San Diego Union Tribune is owned by the Los Angeles Times, and so an LA Times writer's comumn appears in the Union Tribune saying that the Chargers should stay in San Diego, not based on San Diego wanting to keep them, but on the basis that when they were in Los Angeles they failed. Of course that was 54 years ago, and at that time all AFL teams were failing, the AFL itself was failing, but let's not let historical perspective get in the way of trying to make a point.

He debunks Dean Spanos' claim that 25% of the Chargers fan base comes from the LA area by saying that "I've never met one."  I rather doubt that Spanos claim myself, but I'm not satisfied that one sportswriter's claim to have met every existing football fan in Los Angeles County is adequate proof that Spanos is lying.

One of the narratives is that today’s Chargers could take the town from the Rams if they win more games. But that didn’t work back then. While the Rams were 4-7-1, the Chargers and starting quarterback Jack Kemp were 10-4 and advanced to the AFL’s first championship game against the Houston Oilers.

Right, did you pick up on the "first championship game" bit? He is equating an established team in the NFL, with several division titles and a world class quarterback, to a first year team in a first year league, with players whose names were not known and whose whole existance was largely laughed at. Microsoft didn't exactly set the world on fire its first year, either. Hewlett Packard certainly didn't. Would he want to keep those entities out of his town today?

Monday, January 18, 2016

Pandering to the Establishment

Paul Krugman panders to the status quo today, engaging in his usual method of misquoting the people who he doesn’t like and applying his implications masquerading as facts out of context. The accuses Bernie Sanders of dishonestly proposing a health care plan that is “mostly smoke and mirrors.”

He says that the plan will “impose large middle-class taxes,”  and that it “relies on the assumption of huge cost savings,”  and, “it involves a huge magic asterisk.”

As to the taxes, Sanders proposes a progressive addition to the income tax, with heavier hits on the rich, so there is nothing “middle class” about it. Further, that tax replaces insurance premiums, deductibles, copays, and costs which insurance companies presently do not pay for various reasons. So if I pay $6000 more in taxes and am relieved of the $13,000 that I paid in medical expenses last year, I’d say that’s a pretty good deal.

The savings do not consist of one or two undefined “huge savings,”  they are outlined in the plan and are entirely realistic; money spent by the insurance industry marketing and managing its plans and generating profits, for instance, and the cost to doctors and hospitals for billing. The plan would also seek deep discounts from the drug industry, which Obamacare doesn’t even attempt.

The main thrust of the Sanders plan is universal coverage, to which Krugman devotes no attention. His entire piece is devoted to debunking exaggerated claims as to cost savings; claims which Sanders has never made. He says that to “get costs down to, say, Canadian levels, we’d need to do what they do: say no to patients, telling them that they can’t always have the treatment they want.”

First, Sanders never claimed we could “get costs down to Canadian levels,”  and what’s more, in order to do so we would no more have to deny health care than Canada does. We would simply have to begin paying reasonable salaries to doctors who perform complex surgeries, say $200,000 per year instead of $20 million. We would have to pay $8 per pill for cancer treatment instead of $750 per pill. Etcetera.

The title of his piece today spells out where this nation has gone. We have gone from Jack Kennedy taking us to the moon with, “We do these things not because they are easy but because they are hard,”  to Krugman surrendering to the death of universal health care with “health reform is hard.”

Sanders says that we can provide health care to everyone in this nation and spells out how we can afford to do it. Sanders is right. Krugman, Clinton, Obama and the rest of the moneyed establishment point out that providing universal health care should not be attempted because it would be hard to do and “too disruptive.”
They are wrong.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

USA Network: Colony

I love science fiction and post-apolyptic stuff, so the long buildup for this show hooked me big time. Watched it last night and am fairly unimpressed by the slow start. Previews at the end give me some hope, but only a little.
I still have Mad Max:Fury Road and The Martian on tap, so...

Friday, January 15, 2016

Fine Lines

From a comment made in an online discussion:

"17 cargo ships pollute as much as all the vehicles in the world. Necessary trade is … well … necessary, but trade for the purpose of wage arbitrage is evil, not only for moral harm of slavery, but for the enormous environmental harm it does."

A simple truth all too seldom told.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Kudos

The Iranians detained some Americans who strayed into their waters. It was entirely appropriate for them to do so, provided that they treated those sailors with respect and proper care. It appears they did so, and the sailors were promptly returned to American jurisdiction through diplomatic means. This is what happens when a powerful nation acts like an adult and actually talks directly with another nation which it considers to be an "enemy."

This relationship with Iran and the opening of Cuba are, in my opinion, the only two things which Obama can properly claim as true successes of his time in office. John Kerry deserves high praise, more so than Obama actually, for the Iranian agreement.

One can only hope that the next administration will continue and build on these initiatives, but the rhetoric from both sides gives little hope that such will be the case.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

I Know I'm Being Petty, But...

Salon.Com, with its pretense to importance in the political journalism field, has an article headlined, "The search for the perfect dildo: Size really does matter."

I no longer do anything more than browse the headlines of that website, and now I'm wondering why I continue to do even that.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

ROLL TIDE

Molly spends a lot of time on my lap, but not last night. I think she was hiding in the closet. All I know is that early in the second quarter she made a high speed exit from the living room. My wife stayed in the back bedroom but not, so far as I know, in the closet.

Alabama’s defense was not nearly as bad as I was accusing them of being; at high volume apparently, and using some of my Navy language. Deshaun Watson is really good, but when you are rushing a dropback passer who can run like that you need to shut off the fucking running lanes. How do you repeatedly have two pass rushers put their hands on him 13-15 yards behind the line of scrimmage and then have him run for a first down?

Nick Saban apparently agreed with me, at times anyway. First time I’ve ever seen him throw his headphones. Sort of an exercise in futility, it turned out, since they were tethered to him, but he made his point. When the defense came off the field they headed to the sideline as far away from him as they could get.

I was pretty hot at Saban when he left LSU, but the man is a quintessential gentleman and one of the best leaders in the coaching business. Nick Saban is, actually, what leadership is all about.

When invited by the idiotic reporter to say that special teams had won the game he declined. “Special teams had an impact,”  he replied, ”but we made some impact plays on offense and the defense made some important stops. This was a total team effort.”

When invited to compare this national title to the ones which preceded it, he declined that too. “Tonight is about this team and this championship. I could not be more proud of these guys.”  One gets an idea why his players put forth the effort for him that they do.

And then the man even smiled. I wasn’t sure he could.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Ditch The Myth

The myth persists that the financial wizards of Wall Street were unaware of the danger of the financial instruments they were buying and selling, were too stupid to see the bubble of 2007 and were unable to predict the crash of 2008. This is a fallacy. They knew exactly what they were doing. They knew precisely the damage it would cause to the working class. They didn't care.

They also knew precisely how the government would react, if for no other reason that that they control the government. They knew that, while millions would suffer severe loss of wealth, they themselves would walk away from the wreckage with their wealth not only intact but enhanced. That was their plan, and they pulled it off.

They are doing it again, with a stock market overvalued by a factor of at least six times, much of the overvalue caused by stock buybacks.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

On Payton Manning

Only people over sixty will get this, but I happened to see a couple of guys on ESPN discussing Payton Manning and his fourth-quarter entrance into the final game of the season. "He's like Charlton Heston in El Cid,"  one of them said, "where they prop him on a horse with a spear to hold him upright and drape a cloak over him and nobody knows he's dead, and they win the battle just from seeing him."

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Silly Cheerleading

A Reuters news item describes the US economy as being “on solid ground” due to an employment “surge”
in December employment, not thinking that much of that surge might have been part time and/or temporary holiday jobs, and specifically discarding “a troubling international backdrop.”  Other news items have used the same report to describe the economy as “on the right track” and “encouraging.”

First of all, the report did not actually portray the “robust employment data” that Reuters claims it did. The 292,000 job increase was from the “Establishment Survey,”  which reports jobs filled. Since many of those may be (are) part time jobs and the people filling them are people who were already working at other part time jobs, the impression of newly employed people is inflated. Additionally, if an employer creates a temporary job lasting one week, that is simply reported as a “new job created.”  If the employer does that two or three times, it is reported as two or three jobs created.

The “Household Survey” reports only 192,000 newly employed persons, and it does that only by means of a “seasonal adjustment”  to the numbers. Without that adjustment, that is by using the numbers as actually counted, the employment market actually lost 93,000
jobs in December.

Which numbers are accurate? Well, I don’t know, and that really is my point.

And to conclude from this reporting that employment is going in the right direction and start waving pompoms is particularly absurd. There were 3.5 million jobs added in 2014 and only 2.95 added in 2015 which, being a decrease of 15%, is most certainly not the right direction in a job market that is still well below full employment. Even worse is that manufacturing, which added 500,000 jobs in 2014, added only 30,000 in 2015. That’s a decrease of 94% - absolutely not “on the right track.”

They even mention that salaries are flat, not really even keeping up with inflation, and simply toss that aside with the impression of, “Oh well, we’ll deal with that later.”

And the “international backdrop,” which they so blithely ignore, is a good bit more than “troubling.” Notice what’s happening in China right now? The Chinese economy is essentially crashing, the Japanese economy is doing that slow motion thing like two planets colliding in a sci-fi film, and most of Europe is clearly heading into recession if it isn’t already in one.

Reuters is apparently in the economic camp that believes that America has “decoupled” from the world economy and will be unaffected by economic conditions outside our borders. I’m sure the ostrich felt that way, too, until a lion came up and bit it in the ass.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Genius

Lovie Smith, after leading Tampa Bay to a 6-10 season in his second year rebuilding the Buccaneers as head coach, 3-3 in the division, got fired this week.

The Chargers on the other hand, after suffering a 4-12 season, 0-6 in the division, and its third year of missing the playoffs under head coach Mike McCoy, not only will allow him to complete his contract through 2016, but gave him an extension which will keep him on board through the 2017 season. Awesome.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Weather Today

lego maniaWho says San Diego doesn't have weather? We have weather; we just don't have it very often.

And sometimes we overdo it a bit. There are no fewer than six hazard notices at the moment, including flash flood warning, high surf warning, flash flood watch, wind advisory, severe thunderstorm warning and beach hazard advisories. The latter has to do with unusually high tides driving surf across costal roads and highways.

My wife, cat and I live on high ground, so...

Update, 3:10pm: And they just added a tornado warning for the area where my wife is currently at work, extending south to less than a mile from where the cat and I are at home. Less and less I like this El Nino.

Executive Action

I am not all “up in arms” about Obama stealing my guns for several reasons, chief among them being that his executive orders amount to the classic “sounding brass; filled with sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Actually, it is a “tale told by an idiot” which is full of sound and fury, and sounding brass is properly compared to tinkling cymbals, but I like the mixed metaphor better. Otherwise I would either have to call Obama an idiot or compare gun control to tinkling cymbals, and neither one really works for me.

He has not “closed the loophole” allowing purchase of guns at trade shows and online without background checks, because no such loophole exists. Dealers at trade shows are required to do background checks, and online dealers are required to ship firearms to a licensed dealer to have a background check performed before delivery to the purchaser. Perhaps better enforcement is needed, but the laws are in place, so Obama’s executive order is essentially window dressing.

He does attempt to put a halt to those at trade shows who claim to be “hobbyists” and therefor exempt from regulation, but only to the extent of pointing out that doing so is already illegal. Enforcement is not going to be any easier in the future than it is now, so I’m not sure what this part of his proclamation actually accomplishes.

In any case, not one mass shooting to date has been performed with a gun bought online or at a gun show without a background check, so Obama is not even locking the barn door after the horse has been stolen, he is locking the door of a barn which has never contained any horses.

He is not adding 200 new agents to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, he is asking Congress to fund that addition. Congress isn’t going to do that, so write that off as mere rhetoric.

The rest of it is a lot of fluff about background checks but, again, not one shooting has been a issue with a firearm purchased as a result of a background check failing to discover information. Where persons who could not legally buy a gun had them in their possession, the gun was either stolen or was purchased for them by another person who was legally able to buy the firearm. How are background checks going to stop that?

I’m not opposed to background checks, not in the least bit. But I don’t think that they, or any amount of puffery and window dressing from the White House, is going to solve the problem.

What I do have a problem with is the whole Obama meme of, “If Congress won’t do it, I will.”  There is simply nothing in the constitution which authorizes that. The statement itself is an abuse of power, as are any executive orders which arise from it.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Krugman Opens My Year

Paul Krugman ends the old year by engaging in his usual habit of misinterpreting data, saying in a blog post that, “it’s now a fact as opposed to a mere projection that Obama significantly raised taxes at the top.”  Actually the president can’t set tax rates, and so to whatever extent tax rates were raised, they were raised by Congress.

Further, the chart presented by Dr. Krugman shows that they were raised by a Republican-controlled Congress, a feat which the Democratic-controlled Congress never even attempted when they had a Democratic president. The chart shows that taxes on the rich rose slightly in Obama’s first term when Congress was led by Democrats, and then moved right back down until they were at the same low level in 2012 that they were at in 2007, before Obama was in office.

That’s because Obama could negotiate nothing more than a two-year self-limiting tax increase with a Democratic Congress, and it was not until Republicans controlled the House that a significant, permanent tax increase made it through. That’s hardly the picture painted by Dr. Krugman’s piece.

One could also quibble with Krugman’s claim that an increase from 19% to 25% is “significant.”  It strikes me as rather trivial, given that the top rate in 1960 was 90%.

I know, I know, “the Republican minority blocked legislation” and all that, but when a majority cannot execute its agenda, it does not deserve to continue governing as a majority.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Parsing and Overcomplicating

A few articles are hinting that Payton Manning "did not really deny" using HGH in his statements, hinting that he sort of talked around the issue and refused to talk about what prescriptions his wife may or may not have been using. What does he need to say beyond, "I did not ever use HGH or any other banned substance," which is what he said?

The discussion of why the Patriots elected to kick off at the beginning of overtime is including that one of the options is to "defer." Defer to what? One overtime period completes the game. At the beginning of the game a team can defer its choice to the second half; a choice which I think is idiotic. Why give your opponent the opportunity to score first? In a championship game, with multiple overtimes possible, a team can defer until the third overtime, but that would be even more stupid than deferring at the beginning of the game; a second half is assured, while a third overtime is not only not assured, it is highly unlikely.

Some also say that the Patriots meant to make a choice as to which end to defend, but let's not be obtuse here. The other team would then choose to receive, so that would be tantamount to electing to kick off. In any case, there was no wind so choosing an end zone was irrelevant. Belichek decided to kick the ball, and only understanding how his mind works will make it possible to know why he did that, which means it will remain forever unknowable.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Brass Balls

Scripps Hospital has recently billed me some $72,000 for a ten-day stay in their hospital, which was paid in its entirety by insurance, but still... (Reaching the "maximum out-of-pocket"  limit is a mixed blessing.) Now they send me a solicitation, referencing the wonderfulness of my care at the hospital, and asking for a charitable donation. Um, I think not.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Interesting Game

They call it the "Holy War,"  Utah vs. BYU, and Utah won it by a score of 35 to 28. Drilling down into the details, however paints a somewhat bizarre picture.

Utah scored all of its 35 points in the first 9:39 of the game, racking up 65 yards of offense to BYU's 39 yards, largely due to no fewer than five turnovers committed by BYU. If you notice that five turnovers at seven points each might produce a score of 35-0, you are very perceptive.

In the final 50:21 of the game Utah racked up 39 yards of total offense and scored zero points, while BYU accumulated 347 yards of offense and scored 28 points.

All in all, it was perhaps the silliest exhibition by two teams that I have ever seen on a football field. Scoring 35 points with 65 yards of offense is nonsensical, as is racking up 39 yards in more than 50 minutes.

Who was this young man?

When the gunfire began Thursday night Zaevion Dobson stepped in front of three girls, instinct apparently guiding him to protect them with his own life. There is something very powerful about that story; something that has caused it to stick pleasantly in my mind.

Whenever we have one of these mass shootings the media goes nuts to “personify” the shooter. His picture, his name, and minute details about his background are in the news for days as the media tries to explain what led him to do it.

On the third day after his death we know almost nothing about Zaevion Dobson, and today’s media does not mention him. We know that he was a football player and one person says he was “a mentor to his peers,”  but that is about all. We know nothing about his family or spiritual environment.

Something rather powerful fostered such a sense of selflessness and good in this outstanding young man, and I would like to hear about what it may have been. Why do we dwell so much on evil and are so quick to move past goodness?