Monday, October 15, 2018

Fine Lines

My wife came into the room just as I was chuckling over something I had read in my book. She wanted to know what I had enjoyed so much. So I read to her the line I had enjoyed.

"Girl," one character had said to another, "you know better than to eat grits before they've had a chance to cool down."

She failed to see the humor. That's because she doesn't eat grits. Only someone who has had a mouthful of hot grits can truly enjoy that line.

Baker's Partisan Economics

Dean Baker loses his mind again in trying to prove that Democratic economics are better than Republican economics. He writes today that Wisconsin’s economy, led by a Republican governor, is “unimpressive” compared to neighboring Minnesota, which is led by a Democrat. I find the difference between the two states “unimpressive,” but judge for yourself.

He tells us that Wisconsin’s Republican unemployment is 3.0 percent, while Minnesota’s Democratic unemployment is a mere 2.9 percent. I am much less impressed by one tenth of one percent than he is.

He then tells us that Republican Wisconsin’s 5.0 percent wage increase in the past year doesn’t matter because “these numbers are extremely erratic.” He doesn’t tell us what wage increase was experienced in Democratic Minnesota last year because he doesn’t pay attention to erratic numbers.

I would suggest that month-to-month numbers are indeed very erratic. Numbers for an entire year? It may be very convenient to think so.

He does tells us that over the past eight years Wisconsin’s Republican wages rose 24.7 percent, while Minnesota’s Democratic wages rose a stratospheric 24.9 percent. Again, I am much less impressed by, in this case, two tenths of one percent than he is. It amounts to a difference of eight tenths of one percent which, in my book, is nothing more than a rounding error.

All of this, in my view, matching economic performance was accomplished while Democratic Minnesota raised taxes and Republican Wisconsin reduced taxes, which he cheerfully states is a point in Democratic Minnesota’s favor.

Because raising taxes is a good thing, even when the economy performs the same as one which reduced taxes. Let’s hear it for Democratic economics.

And, by the way, it doesn't seem to occur to Mr. Baker to consider the effect on the two tenths of a percent difference of wage increase between the states made by tax increase in one state and tax decrease in the other. Republican Wisconsin wages went up slightly less, but their taxes went down. Democratic Minnesota saw a slightly higher wage increase, but their taxes went up. Who came out ahead?

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Out of the mouths of...

Sometimes I listen to or read the words of today’s liberal mind, and I wonder if that person is capable of even thinking about what he/she is saying. Or of thinking at all for that matter.

Justice Elena Kagan, one of Obama’s liberal appointees to the Supreme Court was speaking at Princeton University the other day (of course, where else would she speak?) regarding the appointment of now Justice Kavanaugh and the loss of a “swing vote” with Justice Anthony Kennedy's departure from the bench.

"In the last, really 30 years,” she said, “starting with Justice O'Connor and continuing with Justice Kennedy, there has been a person who found the center or people couldn't predict in that sort of way.” Notably, she did not include herself as being a Justice who was “of the center” or whose vote was ever non-partisan, so the role playing she did in her nomination process has been dropped altogether.

Nor did she offer herself as a possibility of becoming such a justice, which is ceratinly a telling point. "I am partisan and will remain so."

She went on to say that, “That enabled the court to look as though it was not owned by one side or another and was indeed impartial and neutral and fair." The emphasis was mine, and yes, she actually said that.

She is not concerned that the Supreme Court actually be “impartial and neutral and fair,” which would require all nine justices to be “impartial and neutral and fair,” she is only concerned that it look that way. That goal can be accomplished, in her mind, by having eight of the nine justices be partisan as all hell, four on each side, and one justice be “impartial and neutral and fair.”

It doesn’t occur to her, apparently, that the same thing could be accomplished by having just one justice on the Supreme Court, so long as he/she could be relied upon to be “impartial and neutral and fair.” Obviously, a Supreme Court with a single justice would be a ridiculous concept.

She doesn’t seem to believe that her plan of having four highly partisan liberal justices, four highly partisan conservative justices, and one “swing” justice who is “impartial and neutral and fair” is simply a non transparent form of having a Supreme Court consisting of a single justice.

Of course, she was appointed by a president who repeatedly said that we were in Afghanistan in order to “deny them space in which to plan their attacks.” All of which tends to confirm my growing belief that liberals are feeble minded.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

It's All in the Point of View

Alabama defeated Arkansas 65-31 yesterday, and coach Nick Saban is not a happy man. Winning by 34 points is no big deal to him; it merely what he expects of his team and actually counts as underperformance. Scoring 65 points is nothing more than meeting expectations. He is enormously pissed off that his defense gave up 31 points. Nick Saban football teams do not do that sort of thing.

Meanwhile, LSU lost, but at least it was to Florida, which is ranked 22, or was at the time. Auburn did them one better (worse), losing to Mississippi State, which was an unranked team. Utah, also unranked, handed Stanford its second consecutive loss, which comes close to being incomprehensible. Well, Bryce Love didn't play, but...

Texas defeated Oklahoma, and Northwestern won over Michigan State, two upsets which I had predicted as distinct possibilities, and the Aztecs won on the "smurf turf." All in all, an entertaining college football weekend.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Celebrating Hollow Victories

Democrats are dancing in the street over Bernie Sanders having forced Amazon to raise its minimum wage to $15/hour and, as is their wont, are celebrating without checking to see if their “victory” actually merits celebration. As is often the case, this one most certainly does not.

For one thing, while Amazon raised its minimum wage, it did not raise any other wages so while it used to be that a worker started at $10/hr and worked his way up to $16/hr, today’s workers will start at $15/hr and work their way up to, wait for it, $16/hr. That, folks, is not something that makes me feel like dancing in the street, and it gets worse.

At the same time that they raised the minimum wage, Amazon cancelled their “variable compensation pay” program, an incentive program that added between 8% and 16% to workers monthly pay. They also eliminated a stock contribution program, so the pay of workers making other than minimum wage has been reduced significantly.

Democrats do not care about this, because they are the party of symbolism rather than actual issues. They are once again celebrating a victory that in on the nature of “we had to destroy the village in order to save it.” It matters not that they accomplished something that is actually to the detriment of the workers involved, so long as they can point to an “increase in minimum wages” accomplished by demagoguery.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Only In California

Governor Moonbeam signed into law a bill requiring that corporations must have on their boards of directors at least one female by 2019, and at least two by 2021. This is irrespective of how many total directors are on the board.

Are they required to have any males on their board? Of course not. That would amount to discrimination against women, and we don't allow that in California. Somehow, however, in a manner that can be understood only by the female mind, requiring females is not discrimination against men.

Monday, October 01, 2018

It's All In The Name

Macedonia voted yesterday not to change its mane to “The Republic of North Macedonia,” which means it will not be allowed to join NATO. This is a devastating blow to both Macedonia and NATO.

Okay, I am through making silly statements for today. Well, perhaps not. We shall see. But that will fill my quota for hilariously absurd statements for today.

For those of you who don’t know, Greece is banning Macedonia from NATO because they have a province of the same name, and claim that the nation of Macedonia using the name constitutes a “claim on our territory.” Sort of like us claiming that since we have a state named Georgia, the nation of the same name near Russia should change its name to “The Republic of North Georgia” in order to avoid claims… Well, you get my point.

Actually, people in Columbus GA think that Atlanta is in a different state called “North Georgia,” and regard people who live in that city as quasi-Yankees. Some even further south in the state, say in Albany GA, would regard referring to Atlanta country as “North Georgia” as being overly polite.

Anyway, back to the issue at hand. Greece is unwilling to have a nation as a member of NATO which has the same name as one of their provinces, which is remarkably silly. That would be like us saying that the nation of Georgia cannot join NATO because we have a state named Georgia.

And yet here we are actively trying to get Georgia, the nation near Russia, not the state in the American South, to be allowed to join NATO, risking war with Russia to that end in fact, and we are perfectly willing for it to retain its present name.

This is the first time in more than two centuries than any nation has exceeded the United States in hubris.

We have invaded and militarily occupied other nations too many times to count. We have bombed other nations, subjected other nations to regime change and subverted the elections of other nations. We have sanctioned and blockaded other nations countless times. But we have never demanded that another nation change its name in order to join our club.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Click Bait Award

I don't know who the hell "Sputnik News" is. I seriously doubt they are a Russian news agency as someone undoubtedly wants us to believe. Anyway, they have a headline, which Google News reader has seen fit to pass on, reading "'Death Comet' Capable of Destroying Small State to Come Close To Earth."

The article does admit that no one knows for sure that it is actually a comet, only that its path indicates it may come from the area inhabited by comets, and that "close" means 2.5 million miles, which is not even hand grenade distance. Part of its breathless prose has to do with the amazing fact that this "near pass" will occur at Halloween and the thing is shaped like a skull, which obviously has deep and portentious meaning.

Yes, I clicked on the headline, but not to find out when I am going to die.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

San Diego Football

logo
The new league, the American Alliance of Football begins play next February, right after the NFL SuperBowl, and the local organization just announced the name and colors for the San Diego team. My opinion is that they are off to a pretty good start.

Monday, September 24, 2018

As I Predicted

As I predicted, as soon as it began to appear that the "sexual misconduct" accusation by Ms. Blaysey-Ford would not be sufficient to derail the Kavanaugh nomination there would be additional accusers coming forward.

Well, it is indeed beginning to appear that Ms. Blaysey-Ford is nowhere near the pit bull that the job requires and, even worse, Gloria Allred has not signed on so, sure enough, here comes a woman who claims that he "exposed himself" to her while he was a student at Yale. There were, of course, no witnesses to the event. Additionally, the lawyer for Stormy Daniels claims to have evidence that Kavanaugh was part of a date rape drugging ring on a massive scale while at Yale. We all knew this was coming.

Friday, September 21, 2018

New Rule?

Apparently the NFL has a new rule that allows a team to remove seven points from their opponent's score? Perhaps not. The local sportscaster informed us tonight that the Cleveland Browns were trailing the New York Jets yesterday at halftime 14-0, but that after Baker Mayfield came in they went on to win the game 21-7. Nice trick. Magic?

Actually, they were trailing 14-0, but not at halftime. Mayfield came into the game late in the first half and promptly led them to a field goal, leaving the Browns trailing 14-3 at halftime. And, no, they did not remove seven points from the Jets' score; they went on to win the game by a score of 21-17. Somebody might need some practice reading the teleprompter.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Mouse Killer

My optical mouse rather suddenly lost its vertical scrolling ability. Computer virus? Nope. I plucked enough cat hair out of it to indicate that my damned cat should be bald. Must be a “critical mass” thing, because it worked fine up until it rather suddenly went, “pfffht.”  Enough remained inside the mouse, unfortunately, that vertical scrolling remained erratic and annoying as hell.

Cats apparently grow fur as fast as they shed it, because Molly is far from being bald. A new mouse solved the problem, so she can begin killing this one now.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Protecting Chicago In California

Because of "rising gun violence nationwide," the Del Mar Fairgrounds decided to ban all gun shows after the end of this year. They obviously had a mountain of evidence that thugs from Chicago are coming to California to buy weapons and returning home to commit murder with them. Clearly, that is the only reason that anyone would buy a firearm in southern California.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Timing Is Everything

The claim by Serena Williams that tennis is rife with sexism would be a bit more credible if it did not come on the heels of her loss in a major championship match. It would also be more credible if the tiff with the referee somehow caused a man to win the trophy. The tirade which led to her claim being just the most recent in a long series of similar ones might also mitigate against her.

Notice, too, that the original initial claims of "sexual misconduct" against Lester Moonves were not sufficient to drive him out of his job as the head of CBS, especially since he claimed he was not guilty. Now more claims have been leveled, resulting in a headline that, "Les Moonves is out at CBS after harassment allegations."

Allegations. Not even criminal allegations, "harassment allegations." Once again, claims of innocence merely result in piling on and conviction without trial.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Bumbleball

We should have had a lot of really high scoring games because none of the defensive players are able to tackle. We did not because none of the receivers are able to catch the ball and none of the running backs are able to hold on to it. What a farce. Sixty minute contests of ineptitude. And to think, these buffoons are paid up to $150 million per year.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Oh Shit, Oh Dear Me

My Humana drug plan (pharmaceuticals, actually; I don’t do drugs) sends me regular notices on where I am with respect to the “donut hole,” at which point something happens with respect to my payment for medications. Don’t ask me what, because my IQ is obviously too low to comprehend Medicare Part D.

The implication in the media is that while in the “donut hole” one has to pay the entire cost of medication, but that is not so according to Humana. For what follows, be aware that one hits the hole based on the total cost of medications for the year-to-date, not based on what one has paid. That’s why, presumably, Humana keeps me informed of what they paid as well as what I've paid.

So Humana tells me that they have paid $x and I have paid $y, and that those two numbers combined mean that I will hit the donut hole in about a month from now. Then, they tell me, I will have to pay “about 58% of the cost” of medications until I exit the donut hole, which obviously will not happen given that it took me until October to enter the furshluginner hole.

So I do a little basic calculating with $x and $y, and I find that paying 58% of the cost of medications may not be the disaster that one might think, since I have been paying 54% of the total cost all year before I hit the donut hole. I’m not sure what to think about that.

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Embarrassing

I need to take up watching soccer. Well, maybe not. Perhaps women's roller derby or professional frisbee golf. The NFL Players Association has destroyed the NFL. No contact in practice sessions, and the first string does not play during preseason, so at game time there are 22 idiots on the field who have no clue what to do or how to do it. Add new rules which require a defensive lineman to tackle a quarterback without landing on top of him. What little scoring occurs does so only because the defense went to sleep. Forty penalties in sixty minutes of play.

I had two players in last night's game on my Fantasy Football team, one from each team, and my projected score went down in the course of the game. LSU or Alabama could have trounced either one of the "professional" teams on Lincoln Financial Field last night.

Monday, September 03, 2018

College Football Weekend

Silly question of the week award goes to Holly Rowe of ESPN at halftime of the Miami/LSU game, asking the Miami coach, "You're 0-6 on third down, coach, what do you want to change about that?" Duh, think about that for a moment, Holly, and then answer it yourself.

Perennial question of the week is why do we have "aerial coverage provided by Goodyear" (blimp) for football games which are held in fully enclosed domed stadiums? (Stadia?)

Performance of the week goes to my Tigers of LSU, who convincingly defeated 8th ranked Miami, controlling every aspect of the game from start to finish. Preseason expectations were minimal for their running game, anticipating it to be "by committee," but a headliner may have emerged in the person of a replacement Cajun for Leonard Fournette, this one named Nick Brosette, with 22 carries for 125 yards and 2 touchdowns. This against a justifiably highly ranked Miami defense.

All 7 teams in the SEC West won this weekend, and 6 of 7 in the SEC East did as well, but only Auburn and LSU played quality opponents, and Auburn won ugly. The rest beat tomato cans, so it's too early to start crowing, but...

San Diego State, my other team, was just embarrassing. As much as I like Rocky Long, this was a massive coaching error. Bryce Love gashed SD State for 185 yards and 2 touchdowns last year, but SD State still won the game. This year Rocky played defense to stop Love, and did so, holding him to 29 yards for the game. In the process, though, he gave up 332 yards and 4 touchdowns to Stanford's passing game and not only lost the game, but did so in a blowout manner. The problem was clearly visible early in the third quarter, and Rocky got bullheaded and stayed with a losing game plan.

Oh, yes, slightly off topic but this weekend. NASCAR continues its "first one out of the pits on the last pit stop wins" performance at Darlington. Kyle Larson led 284 of the 367 laps, but Brad Keselowski beat him out of the pits after the final caution, led the final 24 laps, and won the race. It was the only time he led. Sigh.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

No on Free Speech

The California Democratic Party Chairman called for a boycott of In-n-Out Burger because they donated $25,000 to the Republican Party, which makes it official that the Democratic Party does not believe in free speech, at least not unless you agree with them. "We don't need no steenkin democracy."

Mr. Bauman failed to notice the part of In-n-Out's press release which said that they also donated $50,000 to a Democratic PAC known as "Californians for Jobs and a Strong Economy" in 2018, twice the Republican donation, and $30,00 to the same PAC in each of the years 2017 and 2016. So maybe Republicans should be the ones boycotting the chain?

Friday, August 31, 2018

Busy Week Upcoming

My survival of the upcoming week might be in question. It will be busy.

There will be no fewer than four "must watch" college football games. San Diego State at Stanford, Washington at Auburn, Michigan at Notre Dame and Miami at LSU. I may also record Louisville at Alabama and West Virginia at Tennessee for later viewing. I watched Northwestern at Purdue last night.

For things with wheels, there is the Southern 500 at Darlington, perhaps my favorite race track. Indycar races on the road course at Portland, and Formula 1 has the Belgian Grand Prix.

My Fantasy Football draft is Tuesday evening, and the NFL season opens with two of my favorite teams, Atlanta at Philadelphia on Thursday night.

My wife may sprain something rolling her eyes, and the cat is nervous that it's going to be a long football season.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Ready, Aim, Fire

It’s sort of like shooting yourself in the foot and then bragging about how you proved that the gun works as designed and punches holes in things.

Duncan Hunter has held his Republican congressional seat for five years, after his father held it for 28 years. The Democrats have a chance to take it away from him, given that he has been indicted for “campaign violations,” consisting of spending some $250K in campaign funds for personal purposes.

So they nominate a person named Ammar Campa-Najjar, who is of Mexican and Arab heritage. Not altogether surprisingly, some two months after he was indicted, Duncan Hunter is leading in the polls by eight points, and Democrats are complaining that CA-50 is populated by a bunch of racist pigs.

Well, yes, it is, but the Democrats knew that before they nominated this guy. So they made their point about how “socially inclusive” they are, and they made a die-hard “red district” in rural southern California look bad, but what did it really do for the Democrats in a practical sense? They will have one fewer vote in Congress, and have diminished their chances of passing their agenda.

Much, too, like the driver who knows he has the right of way, so decides to just hit the guy who is running the red light because that guy is in the wrong. “He was right, dead right as he sped along, but he’s just as dead as if he’d been wrong.”

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Over-Reaction

Conor Daly, usually an Indycar driver but taking a turn in the Xfinity series today, had his sponsorship by Lilly (a major pharmaceutical company) withdrawn due to a “racial slur” uttered by his father in 1991, some ten years before Conor was born. Tony Kanaan, a fellow Indycar driver, was the only one to comment, calling the action “ridiculous.”

Thomas Frieden, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was arrested Friday in New York City on charges of “sexual abuse, forcible touching and harassment.” The only specifics I have been able to find is that he put his hand on a woman’s posterior, on the outside of her clothing, without her permission.

I certainly do not condone that behavior, but does it justify being arrested by the FBI, having your hands cuffed behind your back, and being perp walked out of your place of business in front of the media?

He has not denied the charge, probably because he knows a denial would only result in nine or ten more women piling on. When this movement started I was certainly sympathetic, and supportive, but it has gotten out of control. It is no longer about justice, it is vendetta.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Here We Go Again

For many years we have been being told that modest consumption of alcohol is actually good for you, improving heart health, and that everyone should drink a couple of glasses of wine daily. (Except alcoholics, of course, but they don't say that.) Now a "large new report" is screeching at us that actually "there is no safe level of alcohol" consumption.

Just as they did with coffee, back and forth. Why do we pay any attention to any of these studies?

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Modern Morality

In celebrating the conviction (by Michael Cohen's confession) and pending impeachment of President Trump for "campaign finance violation" we are turning the victim of blackmail into a criminal and not only giving the blackmailer a walk, but are booking her on national tours in furtherance of the display of her pornographic talents. This is today's form of democracy.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Identity Politics

In the past few weeks Democrats have celebrated the following victories in primary elections. They have nominated two Muslim women. They have put the first transgender woman on the ballot for mayor of a major city. They have put two female candidates for US Senate on the ballot in California, for the second such election in a row. They have put a 28-year-old bartender named Ocasio-Cortez on the ballot in a district which is 68% Puerto Rican, who professes to be a Democratic Socialist, unseating a three-term Democrat.

Do you see a trend here? They are celebrating not the policies which these candidates espouse, but their identities. They are not electing candidates who espouse policies which will benefit the nation as a whole. They elect candidates because they are identities which are championed by the Democratic Party: women, minority, LGBTQ, Muslim…

If you are male, you cannot win in a Democratic district. If you are white, you cannot win in a Democratic district. If you are straight, you cannot win in a Democratic district. If you identify as the same sex that is on your birth certificate, you cannot win in a Democratic district. If you are Catholic, do not even bother to run in a Democratic district.

Notice, in that last paragraph, I never mentioned policies.

Update: Saturday, 7:30am
"...but what," Bruce asks, "are they going to actually do?"

You miss the point entirely, my boy. They are not going to do anything.

Democratic politics is not about doing anything, it is about being.

It is about being special (gay, female, trans, etc.) and about not being Trump.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Democracy Speaks?

I read an article yesterday in which the impeachment of Donald Trump was mentioned and, for at least the third time in the past month, read that “Nancy Pelosi has taken that option off the table.” It continues to strike me as odd.

First, Democrats have to win control of the House of Representatives. They say that is going to happen in 2018, but they also said they were certain of winning the White House in 2016, and we all know how that turned out.

Then Nancy Pelosi has to be elected by her peers as Speaker of the House, and that appears to be by no means the slam dunk that she seems to think it is. Granted, the link is to Fox News, but there are others. The Democratic Party is increasingly being influenced by the Ocasio-Cortez crowd and they are, to say the least, not enamored of the likes of Nancy Pelosi.

Finally, even if Democrats do take the house and Pelosi does become Speaker, how is that her choice to make? Unless 434 other members of the House have a voice in making that decision, then one would have to say that the Democratic Party is about the least democratic organization in politics.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Oh, Good Thinking

The endless slog to expand the San Diego convention center refuses to die. Despite grocery shoppers being accosted daily for two months no matter which store they patronized or at what hour they did their shopping ("Are you a San Diego voter?"), the effort to get the convention center expansion "initiative" on the ballot for the upcoming election failed to get enough signatures and did not make the ballot. Cry me a river.

At least not as a "public initiative," which would require just a 50% affirmative vote to pass. The City Government is considering putting it on the ballot as a government proposal, which would require a two-thirds affirmative vote for passage. Consider the wisdom of that. It could not get enough signatures to get on the ballot, but the city thinks it might get two thirds of voters to vote "yes."

Of course, we already knew that we are governed at all levels by idiots.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Two Things Which Baffle Me

First is the endless screeching about who hacked the DNC servers without ever paying the slightest attention to the indisputable fact revealed by that hack, which is that the Hillary Clinton faction clearly and blatantly rigged the Democratic primary election.

We are outraged and terrified in equal proportion by the Russians meddling in our elections, but both political parties are utterly indifferent to the Democrats doing so.

Second is to wonder at the present screeching about the Russians continuing to meddle in elections, and touting the heinous degree to which they are doing so already in the 2018 midterm election. What is to be gained by all of that fear mongering?

I can see Democrats trying to discredit an election after they lost it (well, not really, but there is at least some logic to it), but why discredit in advance an election which you claim that you expect to win?

What Makes This One Special?

The national news has featured daily updates on a missing girl for the past week or so. There does not seem to be anything special about the circumstances under which she disappeared; her boyfriend was in a different state on vacation at the time, she did not disappear from a party… She just went out on an errand and never came back.

From the day that the story first began airing I have been wondering what sets this case apart from what has to be thousands of other missing person cases and sure enough, one reporter today commented that she is one of more than 88,000 current open missing persons cases.

So what makes her worthy of daily updates on the national news, with no mention of any of the other 87,999 cases? Perhaps it has to do with the families of those other cases, who are not sufficiently wealthy to offer a $100,000 reward for information as to the whereabouts of their missing family members.

Sometimes the way this nation functions is a profound embarrassment to me.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

The Law Is An Ass

I don’t recall the source of the title. Probably Shakespeare.

Congress voted on this DACA law twice, and both times failed to pass it. Obama, as part of his highly unconstitutional “if Congress won't act then I will” policy, made it law by executive order. Democrats applauded wildly, while Republicans and others who can read the constitution, which included me, decried it as executive overreach.

Trump then created an executive order canceling Obama’s executive order, thereby bringing DACA to a halt. The principle behind his thinking was that all presidents are equal, and that what one president can do by executive order, another president can undo by executive order.

Apparently not. A judge this week ordered the DACA program reinstated, saying that the Trump administration had “failed to justify eliminating it.” Apparently, the fact that it was created by an executive order written for the specific purpose of thwarting the will of Congress did not constitute justification.

Not that I think DACA is a bad program, and I was thoroughly pissed off at Congress for failing to pass it, but I’m something of a fan of this nation’s constitution, and was horrified by Obama’s blatant contempt for that document with his “if Congress won’t act then I will” policy.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Worth Notice

Well, probably not, actually, but Johnny Manziel ("Johnny Football" of Texas A&M fame) made his first start at quarterback for the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League today, and left the game in the third quarter after throwing four interceptions, with the Alouettes down by a score of 41-3.

The Rest of the Story

Leslie Moonves is being charged with all sorts of sexual improprieties, none of them very recent, and demands are being made that he step down as head of CBS or that he be suspended by the network. As is today’s normal, he is presumed guilty, not only before conviction in a court of law, but before even being charged by any legal entity which could bring him into a courtroom.

What the media is not reporting is that Moonves is in a battle with Shari Redstone, controlling stockholder of CBS and of Viacom. She wants to merge the two giant media companies, while Moonves does not. Can there be much doubt that these accusations are a campaign by Redstone to discredit Moonves in order to achieve her corporate goals, and is it surprising that the media which is financially controlled by her is assisting her in that campaign?

This is the nature of the justice system in The United States today.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Medicare Adventure

I received an email from Medicare informing me that my new card had been mailed and that if I had not yet received it I should call 1-800-MEDICARE.

The first problem is that the word "Medicare" contains eight letters, so the phone number they gave me contains one too many digits. On some phones that creates no problem because the phone simply quits accepting numbers after you enter eleven digits, but on mine you enter the number and push "Talk," at which point the phone rudely tells you the number is invalid. You then have to determine which digit Medicare intended for you to omit. It isn't rocket science to decide they intended for you to omit the last one, but...

Then you have to go through having a lengthy conversation with a recording, in which it tells you what you "may say." I hate those furshlugginer things. It didn't tell me I could say for it to perform a reproductive act on itself, so I refrained from doing so and finally got a human being.

It turned out my new card had, in fact, not been mailed and I decided not to ask why they had sent me an email saying that it had been mailed if it had actually not been. I was trying to stay focused on what I wanted to accomplish and was, in any case, quite sure that not only would he not have an answer but that the question itself would create a serious distraction.

Even without the distraction, things went nowhere but downhill. We live on a street named Caminito Pintoresco, which is Spanish for "picturesque little street." It actually fits the name fairly well, and it's a great place to live, but it would be better if it was on, maybe First Avenue or something, because nobody outside of San Diego can even pronounce our street name, let alone make any sense of the spelling. (Tucson AZ gets ridiculous with street names, by the way, coming up with things like Calle sin Vaca, which means "street without a cow.")

At the person’s request, I recited our address and he said that the address he had was on “Caminito Pintores,” with no “co” on the end and that perhaps that explained why the new card was not mailed.

I’m like, “What?” and he went on that if the address “does not match” then they will not mail the card. I asked him what the address had to match with, and the conversation deteriorated into gibberish, because he only had the one address and had no idea what it might need to match against, only that it needed to “match.”

He finally abandoned the idea of it matching anything and said that if the address was “wrong” they would not mail the card, but did not explain how they would know it was wrong, or what he meant by “wrong.” Nonexistant? No such street?

I addressed the fact that if the database field did not allow enough characters for the long address, then Caminito could be abbreviated Cmto to allow the name Pintoresco to be fully spelled out, but he assured me that was not the issue because they had many addresses which were much longer than mine.

He explained that the address they were using to mail my Medicare card was in the Social Security database and that I would have to contact Social Security in order to change it, and we left it at that.

There are, however, so many things wrong with that explanation that it’s hard to know where to start, the first being the question of why Medicare is using the Social Security database for the addresses to mail Medicare cards, when Medicare is not part of the Social Security Administration, it is part of Health and Human Services.

Next is that Social Security mails things to me all the time, using the address that SSA has for me on “Caminito Pintores” and stuff they mail to me reaches me just fine, so I have no idea why Medicare would think that is a “wrong” or unusable address.

Medicare has my address and mails statements to me on a regular basis, and the street name they use is “Caminito Pintoresco,” which might be beginning to shed some light on the “address match” issue. It may be that Medicare requires that the Social Security address match the Medicare address, although why they would do that is a bit baffling.

I went to the Social Security website and changed my address so that Medicare can send me a card, which is sort of like going to the Del Taco website to order a Big Mac, and saw that Social Security does indeed have my street name as “Caminito Pintores.” (Except that it’s in all caps which I’m not going to use here.)

So I attempted to add the “co” on the end and discovered that what they have is the maximum allowable in the field. The street address is limited to 22 characters, which is utterly ridiculous. Probably half the street addresses in the nation are longer than that.

It also proves that the rocket scientist I was talking to at Medicare was as clueless as I thought he was, and that they certainly do not have “lots of addresses longer than” mine.

I went ahead and changed the street on my Social Security address to “Cmto Pintoresco,” because it’s neater that way, but that would not seem to help in getting me a Medicare card because it still does not match the address that Medicare has for me.

I have absolutely no clue as to where to go from here.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Indirect Measurement

When I want to know how much I weigh I step on a scale, read the dial, and find that I weigh 235 pounds. Plus or minus a little from time to time, but I stay close to that. Same as I weighed in high school, by the way, although distributed a bit differently,

If the government wanted to know how much I weigh they would launch me in a rocket into orbit around the moon, then use my orbital speed around the moon and distance from the lunar surface to calculate my weight. They would then botch the process entirely by adding the phase of the moon into the calculation and come up with the answer that my “seasonally adjusted” weight is 428#.

It’s called “indirect measurement,” and it not only gets the wrong answer much of the time, it’s usually incredibly more expensive to perform than a direct measurement would be. Such as launching me into lunar orbit to determine, inaccurately, how much I weigh.

If the government wanted to know how many people are employed, they could go to the Social Security database and query, “how many unique numbers had transactions?” in a certain period, and they would have their answer in a few minutes. They would have to tap a couple other computers in similar fashion to get the count of government workers who are not subject to Social Security withholding, but the process could be made all-inclusive quite easily.

It is claimed that they cannot do that due to “privacy reasons,” but that is utter nonsense. The database query can be asked and answered without knowing anything whatever about any of the data other than how many numbers were involved; say, 84,650,133 records with different identification numbers had wages reported in the month of July.

So what the government does is have thousands of government employees make phone calls to tens of thousands of putative workers and ask them questions about their work and personal habits, questions which are presumably not invasions of privacy. They then do some fancy mathematical extrapolation with that sample of the population to extend it to the population as a whole and apply some mysterious “seasonal adjustments” to report the number of people who are working.

The government also has thousands of government employees making phone calls to tens of thousands of businesses ask them questions about their current hiring. They then do the same kind of fancy mathematical extrapolation with that sample to extend it to all businesses and apply similar mysterious “seasonal adjustments” to report the number of people who are employed.

The number of working people reported by the “Household Survey” often differs wildly from the number of employed persons reported by the “Business Survey,” but that doesn’t seem to make anyone disbelieve either number. They just use which ever number suits their purpose, and no one asks any questions about the validity of the methods by which we arrive at these numbers,

Similarly, if we want to know the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy it would seem to be a pretty simple matter to turn to the federal government’s income tax database and add up the reported incomes of the entities which are producing goods and services.

But no, we measure, instead, how much consumers are spending on goods and services. Then we add how much the government is spending on goods and services. Then we subtract the portion of that spending which is items being bought from overseas, and we add the items being produced which are being sent overseas and which, therefor, aren’t reflected in internal spending. Finally, we add “investment,” which is a term so loosely defined as to be almost meaningless. Buying a US Treasury bond, for instance, is not “investment” in terms of contributing to the GDP.

So we measure the Gross Domestic Product not by measuring production, but by measuring consumption. And, in addition to getting a number which is probably wrong, we get a number which, in terms of measuring the economic health of our nation, is utterly meaningless.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

A Losing Narrative

Bernie Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez and the rise of younger generations who prefer socialism to capitalism, who actually regard capitalism as evil, betray a failure in this nation of the ability to think critically and an inability to see the fallacy in the promise of “free health care and free higher education for all.”

This nation enjoyed enormous prosperity in the 1950s, 60s and well into the 70s; a prosperity which embraced the middle and working classes as much if not more than any other. The economic system which was in place and which drove that prosperity was almost entirely capitalism.

Socialism as the primary engine of an economy has never provided significant prosperity for any part of any nation which embraced it. Not once in the entire history of structured economic systems.

What has destroyed the prosperity of today's working class is the perversion of the economic system by the destruction of the balance of power between business and labor which was provided by a system of collective bargaining. That destruction has been driven by the corruption of legislative bodies, members of which we keep reelecting at an 85% rate, and which we continue to look to for solution of the problem which they created to begin with. We blame business for asking them to create that destruction, but is the legislators who actually did it, and they did it for the most base reason. They did it for money.

We keep asking the governing bodies to pass laws strengthening labor unions. Why would the legislatures do that? They are the ones who passed the laws gutting them in the first place. You seriously think they are going to recreate the labor unions that they so carefully destroyed in the first place?

Don't let anyone fool you with the mantra that Medicare is socialism and that it presents some kind of solution. It is not and it does not. In socialism the government controls the means of production of goods and services, and Medicare does not fit that description. Medicare is delivered by private parties, capitalists, and only payment is controlled by government. And even that control of payment is an illusion, because the parties delivering the goods and services fix the prices through anti-competitive measures and through the same bribery of legislatures which drives all legislation.

Anyone who touts Medicare as an example of the benefits of socialism does not know what socialism is, and does not know of the hundreds of millions of dollars annually that are lost to fraud and overpayment through that health care system. Those losses are not decreasing, they are increasing.

The Veteran’s Administration is an example of socialism in medical care and, while for the most part it delivers quality care these days, it is does not have adequate resources to deliver that care to the population it is supposed to serve, veterans, and is having to farm out some of that population to the private health care system.

That is precisely why socialism has never delivered prosperity when serving as the foundation of the economic system of any significant population; it runs out of resources. Simply speaking, it over promises and under delivers, and it cannot do otherwise because there is not enough of anything for everyone to have as much of it as they want, and so the system collapses.

Does that mean that private enterprise is a better provider of goods and service than government in all instances? Of course it means nothing of the sort. Anyone with half a brain would gasp in horror at the thought of returning fire protection to the hands of private fire companies. It was clear in the late 1800’s that was not really a workable system, and no major city even thinks about being without public fire protection today.

But having a handful of public services provided by government and having socialism as the basis of our entire economic system are two vastly different things, and anyone who cannot see the difference is seriously lacking in critical thinking skills.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Media "Events"

If you would like to know what actually happened at the Helsinki press conference, rather than just what the media is screaming about, you can read the transcript here.

Unlike Trump’s response to the question about Russian meddling in the 2016 election, which was muddled and not particularly on point, Putin’s was clear, concise and very much on point, beginning with, “We should not rely on the momentary political interests of some internal political forces in our countries but on facts. Tell me at least one fact that proves collusion during the election campaign in the United States. This is total nonsense.”

No double talk or evasion there. He goes on to say, “We heard accusations against the company Concord. As I understand it, this company hired American lawyers, and the accusations against it just fell apart in a US court. Just follow what happens in US courts. This is what you should base your view on, not on rumors.”

Of course the media is not quoting Putin, because he says things that make sense. And, by the way, his statement about the accusations against Concord is completely factual. Yes, we should judge people based on what happens in a court, but we no longer do. If a man is accused of “sexual misconduct,” for instance, his life is ruined by the mere accusation. Trial in court and conviction is not necessary.

The media is outraged that Putin suggested that Mueller come to Russia to cooperate with Russian authorities in questioning the twelve persons named in the latest indictment. They don’t, of course, mention the part of that suggestion in which Putin says, “There is the Treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters of 1999.”

Nor do they quote where he says,”…this has proven effective. We initiate up to 150 legal proceedings in Russia at the request of other countries.”

The media did not mention Putin’s comments that in return for that cooperation, and pursuant to that treaty, Russia might expect American assistance with investigation of an American hedge fund which, “…illegally made over $1.5 billion in Russia, did not pay taxes either in Russia or the United States, but transferred this money to the United States,” and, “contributed $400 thousand to Ms. Clinton’s election campaign.”

Obviously the media did not quote his statement about having “grounds to suspect that US intelligence officers supported these illegal transactions.”

The reporter then insisted that Trump be very specific in calling Putin a liar on the international stage right then and there which was, at best, disrespectful to both leaders. “Just now, President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every US intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did. My first question for you, sir, is who do you believe?”

Trump sort of waffled, drawing great howls of outrage from the media. Putin rather blatantly insulted the media, which of course is not quoting him. “Is the United States a democratic state? If so, then the final ruling in a dispute of this kind can only be made in court, not an intelligence service.” He made this same point earlier, and was ignored.

He then wonders why we are so worried about interference in our elections. “You have many people, including those with major billion-dollar fortunes, such as Mr Soros. He interferes everywhere he can.” Well, we’re certainly not going to pursue that issue.

Interestingly, Putin has the rather bizarre idea that we should treat Russia as a sovreign nation, and not as a domestic political football. "We can expand this cooperation, as I already mentioned, but only on a reciprocal basis. … Let's discuss these matters in substance rather than use Russia-US relations as a bargaining chip in the domestic political strife in the United States.”

The person who asked that question, of course, had no follow-up.

My favorite answer of the evening was to the “reporter” who asked if Putin had some damaging information on Trump which he could use to control him. “It is hard to imagine bigger nonsense," Putin replied. "Please get this rubbish out of your head.”

A Sense of Community

The Thai football team has kind of touched my heart since they have returned to public after being rescued from that cave. Their display of reverence for the retired Marine who lost his life in the rescue operation is remarkable. Every one of the boys have expressed gratitude for his sacrifice, a sense of the debt that they owe to him, and knowledge of the suffering that they have caused to his family. It does them and their culture much credit.

The coach said that he “will live my life very carefully” to assure that the man’s death was not in vain. Wow.

The whole group has talked about their sense of the difficulty that their plight caused for their families, their community, and for all who participated in rescuing them. It is profoundly moving to see a group of young people who have such a strong sense of being part of a greater whole.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Ineptitude Increases

Further displaying its position as the most inept “special investigation” in the history of this nation, Mueller & Company included in the charge that the twelve criminals they were charging are, “members of the GRU, a Russian Federation intelligence agency within the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian military."

That’s sort of like saying that the FBI is an investigation agency within the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

GRU are the initials of the Russian words for “Main Intelligence Directorate,” so the GRU is not within the Main Intelligence Directorate, the GRU is the Main Intelligence Directorate.

Further, in 2010 the name of the Russian agency in question was changed to Intelligence Directorate and has been known since then as the GU.

So Mueller & Company are saying that the meddling in our election was directed by Putin because the people who did it presently work for a Russian government agency that has not existed, at least not under the name that they use, for eight years.

And we are supposed to be taking these clowns seriously?

Friday, July 13, 2018

Mortification Continues

So, another 12 Russian individual citizens have been indicted by Mr. Mueller for “engaging in a ‘sustained effort’ to hack Democrats' emails and computer networks.” Because, apparently, our Justice Department believes that Russian citizens are subject to American laws. They do not make clear why they believe that to be the case.

The Deputy Attorney General informs us that, "There is no allegation that the conspiracy altered the vote count or changed any election result," so they are not only filing indictments under American laws against persons who are not subject to those laws, they are doing so because nothing happened.

And, of course, they make this announcement the eve of the President of this nation meeting with Vladimir Putin. If you think that is a coincidence, then I would like to talk to you about making a deal on a very nice bridge in Brooklyn.

I am, at this point, profoundly embarrassed to be a citizen of this nation.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Transmogrification

Molly
Molly was just hanging out, being cool and purring on my desk, when a bird landed in the tree just outside the window. She instantly was on her feet and at the window, belly low to the ground, head thrust forward, ears back and exhibiting all of the frenetic motion of a chunk of granite.

In less than one second she had gone from being this adorable little fuzzy toy to the prototype of a predator. Dogs can’t do that. Even at their most playful, dogs show evidence of what they are. Cats, however, look so cuddly and peaceful at rest, and yet they are in reality one of nature’s most efficiently designed predators, and they can go from one to the other in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Here We Go Again

Another “initiative” is apparently headed to San Diego’s fall ballot, this one painting with a rather broad brush in planning to fund a convention center expansion, benefit the city’s homeless population, and fund repairs to our deteriorating streets by raising the hotel tax by 3.35%. Note that is a 35% increase of the existing 10.5% tax on hotel rooms.

Politicians are very proud of this one, coining the phrase, “Visitors pay, and San Diegans benefit.” Lovely. Perish the thought that San Diegans should actually pay for their own road repairs and civic infrastructure.

I have an idea. Let’s raise the hotel tax to 85% and eliminate local taxes altogether, so that visitors could pay for things like trash pickup.

Raising the hotel tax is not going to reduce tourism, because Anaheim has a 15% hotel tax. Right. Anaheim also has Disneyland. We are not by any means the only town with Pacific beaches. San Diego County alone has eight.

All kidding aside, this mania of “we want to have nice things and we want someone else to pay for them” is a national mantra which, to me, amounts to a very real sickness; a sense of entitlement to unearned wealth which is weakening us as a nation.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Overt Media Bias

The CBS affiliated local news ran a very strange piece last night about a woman and her daughter who incurred injuries while riding on a rented motorized scooter on a Mission Beach boardwalk. The piece painted the two as some sort of innocent victims of some horrible misfeasance because the company which rented them the scooter allowed them to “ride along the Mission Beach boardwalk last Friday” and caused them to have an accident in which “they collided with pedestrians.”

The pedestrians with whom the motorized scooter collided were not mentioned in the piece, other than as objects which got hit by the motorized scooter, and were not interviewed for the news item. News 8 did not consider them to be victims, and was not interested either in their fate or viewpoint of the incident.

The father/husband, who was not present, admitted that the two females “were sharing a scooter and not wearing a helmet,” both violations, but defended them by saying that, “They're not from here they don't know the history of this issue. They just did what everybody else is doing.”

I can’t tell you how many times my parents asked me when I was a kid that if everybody else was jumping off a ten story building would I do the same just because they were. When I was growing up children were not raised to become lemmings, but apparently today they are.

The victims, here, are the pedestrians who were hit by the idiots riding the scooter. The riders were not victims, as portrayed by News 8, they were idiots who were engaging in thoughtless and reckless behavior. The rental company was derelict in failing to provide proper safety notices, such as the need to wear helmets, but that was not really covered in the news piece.

News 8 is doing what the media considers to be it’s mission today, pushing a legislative agenda, in this case regulating these motorized scooters and/or banning them from boardwalks. The news item begins, in fact, by placing the event merely as prelude to the demand for legislation, stating that, “A man whose child and ex-wife were seriously injured in a scooter crash over the weekend on Monday called for a boardwalk ban.”

The man, ex-wife and daughter all live in Arizona, by the way, so News 8 wants to assist people from out of state to come here and tell us how to run our city.
I don’t think so.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Is NASCAR Dying?

I think probably it is. I don't know how many people were watching Sunday's race at Sonoma on television, but the lack of people in the stands was simply stunning. In years past when I have watched that race, the stands were filled and there were crowds of people watching on the hillsides. Yesterday there was not one person on any hillside and the stands were, perhaps, 10% filled. Can't blame the weather; it was 72 degrees and not a cloud in sight.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Good Thinking

Just a few years ago a gas line owned and operated by PG&E blew up, destroying several dozen homes and killing eight people. The pipeline was not particularly old and was of steel construction, but was found to be improperly manufactured and PG&E was found criminally responsible.

This year SDG&E applied to the California Public Utilities for permission to replace 400 miles of gas pipeline which is seventy years old and is of cast iron construction. The plan calls for the new pipeline to be 30" in diameter, greatly increasing the capacity of the 16" diameter original. The CPUC denied the application, saying that the new pipeline "is not necessary."

Question. Who will be held responsible if the 70-year-old cast iron pipeline fails and causes damage, injury or death? The title of this post is, in case you didn't pick up on it, snark.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Well, That Was Brutal

Only four players under par in round one today, and only by a single stroke. That course is tough on a good day, and when the wind is up... Yikes. Lefty hit 14 of 15 fairways and still wound up +7, which totally beggars the imagination.

Another post which is not important and, probably, not particularly interesting.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Serendipity

I was at the grocery store and went to the coffee aisle, heading directly to where the Peet's was and glommed a package of Major Dickason's Blend whole beans just as I realized the person stocking the shelf was not wearing a grocery store uniform. She was wearing a Peet's Coffee uniform and she highly approved of my choice.

I realize this is not a highly important post. Just one of life's nice little moments.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Insanity Prevails

Outrage is hitting new heights on the Richter scale over immigrant children being separated from their parents at the southern US border. The implication is that this first started happening just a few months ago at the express order of the Trump administration.

The problem with this narrative is that US law requires that all people attempting to enter the US without entry documentation be stopped from doing so, and that they be detained until their request for asylum can be adjudicated by a court. That has been the law for many years. Further, since 2012, during the Obama administration, it has been illegal to detain children in adult detention facilities.

So all of this towering outrage is about something that has been going on for no less than six years. Not only that, but all of the screaming is to demand that the Trump administration stop doing what it is doing, that is to say complying with laws passed by Congress, and no one is demanding that Congress change the laws.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Premature Victory Laps

I’m trying to figure out why California Democrats are celebrating. No, they didn’t get “locked out” of any of the open Republican US House districts, but neither did they lock out Republicans in any of the open Democratic US House districts. In every race where Republicans are running for reelection, the Republican won with sufficient margins to indicate pretty certain reelection, and in Republican districts with no incumbent candidate the Republican candidate appears not to be in any trouble.

Based on California, Democrats could take over the US House, statistically, but the vote counts certainly do not indicate that they are likely to.

Nor did Democrats lock Republicans out of the gubernatorial race. In fact, the race is much closer than was predicted, and portends a pretty sizeable Republican turnout in the general election. It also leaves Gavin Newsome well short of “shoo in” status for the mansion in Sacramento.

Republicans were locked out of the US Senate race, but so what. They were locked out in the last US Senate race as well, and will be in the next one too. This is, after all, California. In my opinion Democrats suffered a bit of a setback this time in that one of the Democratic candidates for the US Senate is a male. It would be intolerable to the Democratic Party if he won, but there is little chance of that, despite the fact that Dianne Feinstein is actually a Republican in all political principles that actually matter to the nation, because none of those principles matter to the Democratic Party.

I don’t know why Democrats want Trump and/or Republican control of Congress gone, anyway. The stock market is at an all time high. Home prices are higher than they were in 2007, but this time we are told that’s a good thing. Interest rates are rising, which is great for retirement accounts and savings. Employment is at a seven year low and still dropping. Wages are starting to show signs of increasing. Higher minimum wages are passing everywhere. The trade deficit is at a seven year low. Women’s power in politics, in the marketplace, and in the justice system is not just increasing, it is rising like an Elon Musk Falcon 9 rocket. Marijuana is being legalized in more and more states. We’ve won the war in Syria, and Afghanistan apparently doesn’t exist any more. We are making peace with North Korea.

What do we gain by changing government party? If it’s about Trump's bad language, I don’t care. I served in the Navy and rough language doesn’t bother me, and using the bathroom of choice is not something that I consider of vital national security importance.

Memories

CBS News did a retrospect last night on the "last train trip" of Robert Kennedy. It was a nice piece. I enjoyed the memories it evoked of RFK and of how the people of this nation thought of him, and I enjoyed hearing the voice of Harry Reasoner. Perhaps the highlight, for me, was that the train was powered by a GG-1; an electric locomotive with a very special history all of its own.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Amusing

Economists and business writers are all screaming about the impending economic disaster and utter stupidity of Trump's imposition of import tariffs, and fail to notice that the US international trade deficit just fell to a seven month low.

In case you don't know it, that creates an increase in the GDP.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Repeated Drivel Abounds

Dean Baker has a couple of little mindless refrains that he chants repeatedly, one of which strikes me as petty, shallow and nitpicking, the other of which seems to reveal a very real lack of ability in critical thinking.

The first is his penchant for accusing journalists of “mind reading” when they report what various public figures of organizations think. He does so today, accusing the Washington Post of mind reading for its headline that, “Trump thinks he's saving trade. The rest of the world thinks he's blowing it up.”

He retorts with, “I will assert that the Post has no idea what Trump actually thinks,” which is to accuse them of living in a cave in Outer Mongolia, since Trump has stated repeatedly that he believes he is saving trade. I think Trump is nuts, but one does not have to agree with Trump to be willing to say that he believes what he says he believes, so I will counter Dean Baker by asserting that the Post is aware of what Trump is saying and has a very reasonable assumption for believing that it knows what Trump believes.

Baker could have asserted that the Post has no idea what “the rest of the world” believes, as that part of the Post's statement encompasses an overly broad, grandiose and unknowable scope of knowledge, but he did not have sufficient wit to make that reasonable accusation.

The second is, of course, his constant refrain in response to any talk of a labor shortage, which is that there are plenty of laborers out there who are, “working for your competitors,” so all you have to do is pay higher wages to hire them away from away from your competitors. He never admits that this “solution” solves nothing, merely moving the labor shortage from one employer to another.

This is the kind of drivel that economists thrive on these days.

Friday, June 01, 2018

Feline Anatomy

According to Darby Conley, author of the comic strip "Get Fuzzy," cats do not "throw up." (My wife might argue that point. What Molly does certainly looks to her like throwing up.) According to Darby, cats "practice selective digestion" and "gastro liberate" any unwanted "calorie free" food. Apparently they are related to owls in some abstruse manner.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Just Deserts

Every time I respond to complaints about government by reminding the complainer of the phrase “government of the people, by the people,” and that voters are governed by the people whom they knowingly elect, I get rejoinders to the effect of, “but, but, but…” and excuses why voters are not really at fault.

Dianne Feinstein wonderfully makes my point for me. There is every reason in the world why she should have no chance whatever for reelection in this “summer of discontent” with opinions of Congress running at 85% disapproval, hatred of “the rich” at an all time high, and overwhelming disgust with the governmental “establishment.”

Feinstein has been in the Senate for 25 years, is presently 85 years old and would therefor be 92 by the time she finished an upcoming Senate term and, being worth upwards of $100 million and married to a man who is worth billions, is very much a member of the despised “one percent.”

Her voting record is very clear, voting in favor of spying on the American public, extension of the Patriot Act, continuation of FISA and immunity for the telecom industry, and always voting against any curtailment of military spending. She has voted against all forms of strong encryption in electronic communication, opposed single payer health care, and has supported multi-billion dollar arms sales to Saudi Arabia. She has consistently voted in favor of legislation that has funneled billions of dollars into her husband’s businesses.

By every standard that the vast majority of California voters claim are important to them, Dianne Feinstein should be getting overwhelmingly defeated in the US Senate primary, but the opposite is happening. By all polls at this point, she is receiving 42% to 50% of the vote. Another Dem, Kevin de Leon, is receiving 16% to 24% (roughly half of her leavings), and no one else is receiving enough of the vote to be of any significance.

For those who don't know it, California has an open primary so all voters, Democrat, Republican and miscellaneous, vote in the one primary election.

Clearly, what the voters say they want from their legislators has nothing whatever to do with how they vote and/or they are utterly uninformed as to who they are voting for. In either case, the American voter is getting precisely the government it deserves.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

In Transition

The United States is in transition between forms of government at this point, and has been since Nixon really, from a country governed by the Congress to one governed by an Imperial President. Obama made the largest incremental step in that transition when he made the statement that, "if Congress does not act then I will," and began issuing executive orders which directly contradicted laws passed and/or rejected by Congress.

Congress is finally waking up to the fact that it gave away more power than it meant to give to an Imperial Presidency and is trying to stage a coup against the current President by using the media, for the most part, and by distracting the public with domestic social issues. So, while the branches of government wage war with each other for control of government, a war which the Judicial branch has now illogically joined, the country is essentially ungovernable.

This results externally in an inability to make agreements with other nations and an equally ineffective military posture, and internally with ever increasingly open warfare between classes, ethnicities and genders, stoked by liberals in the guise of "social policy." We may be lucky enough to emerge from this without another civil war, but not if Democrats win control of Congress and impeach the sitting President as is their current plan.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Danica Does Not Disapoint

Danica started seventh in the Indianapolis 500 today and, while running 17th on lap 168, crashed while running by herself. Bestwick said that it would, "in no way detract from her legacy as a race driver." Indeed. Advancing to the rear and crashing unassisted are what she did best.

In all fairness, these cars are a handful, and quite a few other drivers crashed without assistance, including Bourdais, Castroneves and Kanaan, all of whom have won the Indy 500 one or more times. That didn't detract from my enjoyment in watching her do it.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Vehicles Searched?

From Google news feed today.
news
The headline doesn't say whom they expect to have no regrets.

And it turns out the vehicles which may be searched are those driven by fans entering the race grounds on race day, but that is not the image that popped into my feverish little mind.  I imagined TSA putting on rubber gloves and searching the race cars in front of a grandstand filled with 300,000 impatient fans. Imagine the reaction.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

538 Ways To Blow It

An organization calling themselves “FiveThirtyEight” has been considered to be the holy grail of political thinking by liberals ever since they quite accurately predicted victory by Obama in the election of 2004. Their track record since then has been a bit sketchy, but they are still considered to be the font of all wisdom and, for reasons known only to the liberal mind, their reputation suffered not at all when their advance announcement of a Clinton landslide in the election of 2016 went so badly.

I mean, they didn’t even phrase that one as a prediction, they published it as a statement of known fact, and we all know how it turned out. They then came out with a whole host of reasons which “nobody could have known” why they had missed the call, all of which were bought by the powers that be, and which preserved their reputation.

Politics is a very weird business. You can, for instance, accept dirty campaign money so long as you give it back when you get caught. If you don’t get caught you can keep it, so there is upside but no downside to taking bribes. Similarly, you can make really bad predictions, and as long as you have good excuses for why you did so, all of your future predictions will continue to be relied upon as being accurate.

At any rate, FiveThirtyEight published a treatise last week comparing the Mueller investigation on “Russiagate” with the last three great special farces investigations of Watergate, Iran-Contra and Whitewater. They take great glee in pointing out that Mueller has “racked up five guilty pleas and 14 indictments of individuals,” more than any special prosecution other than Watergate.

For some reason, the author is not mentioning the indictments against corporations, one of which did not even exist at the time the alleged offense occurred. We’ll pass on that for the moment. To hell with it, we’ll just pass.

The author also does not mention that of all the indictments and pleas obtained, not one of them involves the combination of the Trump campaign, the 2016 election, and anyone in Russia. Most of his indictments are for things like tax fraud and lying to the FBI.

Mueller does have handful of indictments which contain two of the three elements which are the purported subject of his investigation; indictments having to do with Russians and the 2016 election but not even pretending to have anything to do with Trump’s election campaign. Even those indictments are evaporating like an ice cube on a hot sidewalk as Muller pleads for a delayed trial because his evidence is not ready.

And yet FiveThirtyEight wants us to believe that the Mueller investigation is the most valid and productive “special investigation” ever in the history of the process.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Dean Baker Has An Accident

What is the saying about what even a blind pig does once in a while? I believe Dean Baker actually said something rather profound yesterday, but it's okay because I'm pretty sure he was unaware of the meaning of what he said.

Economists are baffled by the failure of something called the Phillips Curve in today's labor market. Phillips was an economist, of course, who drew a curve which showed that as unemployment decreased wages increased, and posited cause and effect. Today, however, unemployment is plummeting and wages are essentially flat and people like Dean Baker are tearing their hair out trying to figure out where Philips went wrong why. (Philips, of course, could not have gone wrong because he was an economist. Economists never go wrong, so there must be something wrong in today's labor market.)

Baker actually touched on part of the answer in yesterday's column when he referenced the low participation rate, which reflects a high number of people who are not working but are also not looking for work and are therefor not counted as unemployed. That means the actual unemployment rate is much higher than what is being reported, which plays hell with the Phillips Curve (even if the Philips Curve did make any kind of sense, which it does not), but the participation rate does not suit a number of Baker's other pet arguments and so he is forced to disregard it here.

Then he starts in on "quit rates," which is another of his pet theories having to do with when more people are quitting jobs wages go higher. I think he has it backward; that people quit as a result of higher wages, rather than people quitting being a cause of higher wages. Fred quits working for my company, so I'm going to hire Tom and pay him and Sam a higher wage. I don't think so.

Then he says that, "Fewer people are now employed in sectors with few quits, like manufacturing, and relatively more people are employed in sectors with frequent quits like retail trade and restaurants."

I recall many years ago, when there was much talk about the nation "transitioning to a service economy," something which Dean Baker seems to acknowledge has been fully accomplished, my father made the dry comment that, "Hell, we can't all make a living selling each other hamburgers."

I think Dean Baker has pointed out that Dad had it completely right.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Eating A Little Crow

Danica Patrick qualified seventh at Indianapolis yesterday. She is, admittedly, driving a car furnished by one of the best two builders in the business, and her teammate qualified on the pole. Nonetheless, the best car on the track is not worth a bucket of warm spit if it is not well driven, and she was impressive as hell. She was very smooth and accurate both days, especially on "pole day" yesterday, when she improved her position from ninth to seventh.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Only in NASCAR

I'm not sure that any organization in the world other than NASCAR could produce the following statement. Perhaps the US government, or some branch of the military, but probably not. Probably only NASCAR.

"NASCAR implemented changes for the All-Star Race to help drivers pass each other more frequently. The cars will have restrictor plates in the engines to slow down top speed and acceleration."

I cannot comment. That just leaves me speechless.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Media Goes Nuttier on Russia

According to CBS Evening News on Tuesday, a Russian oligarch paid $500,000 to Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s lawyer, and some of that money may have been used to pay the infamous porn star to keep quiet about her affair with Trump. According to CBS, Robert Mueller is investigating this Russian payment. Of course he is.

The facts, according to the New York Times, which is no paragon of truth telling itself, so we’ll have to take this for what it’s worth, is that Cohen "received payments last year of about $500,000 from Columbus Nova, an investment firm in New York whose biggest client is a company controlled by Viktor Vekselberg, the Russian oligarch,” and that Columbus Nova “described the money as a consulting fee that had nothing to do with Mr. Vekselberg.”

So we go from “was paid by a Russian oligarch” to “was paid by an American firm who has a Russian oligarch as a customer” with no evidence that the payment was in any way related to the Russian oligarch. Not to mention the time travel aspect of Mr. Cohen using money he received in 2017 to pay off a blackmailing porn star in 2015.

CNN is freaked out over Cohen “having dealings with Russians who are under US sanctions,” but admits that Mr. Vekselberg was not under US sanctions if and when he paid unknown sums of money to Mr. Cohen Columbus Nova, nor was he under US sanctions when when Colombus Nova paid $500,000 to Mr. Cohen to represent Mr. Vekselberg some unknown client of Columbus Nova.

Furthermore, CBS News tells us that back in 2015 the same Russian government hackers that stole Hillary Clinton’s emails and gave them to Wikileaks (which is, of course, an entirely bogus claim) also sent death threats to military spouses purporting to be from ISIS. They interviewed one military wife who said that as long as she thought the threat was from ISIS she was able to shrug it off, but now that she knows it came from the Russian government, she is really upset about it.

She is not, apparently, afraid of ISIS but is afraid of the Russian government, which means the media is doing only half of its job with respect to at least one military wife.

Their “computer expert” said that the Russian government has a good reason to be “really mad at the US,” blaming us for the downfall of the Soviet Union.

Really? What part of today’s Russian government is upset about the downfall of the Soviet Union?

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

It Depends on What You Say

People in government who reveal secret matters which the government does not want the public to know about are called "leakers" and/or "traitors," and are pursued relentlessly by law enforcement so that they may be brought to court and punished to the fullest extent of the law.

People in government who reveal secret matters which the government does want the public to know about are called "officials who demanded anonymity because they are not authorized to speak on the matter," and are rigorously protected by the media and by government.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Comedy Devolves Into Farce

“Fire, aim,” in the wrong order and just omit the “ready” part altogether. The Mueller investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election has devolved from farcical into slapstick comedy.

Mueller, you may recall, filed indictments against several Russian persons and corporations several months ago, basically over alleged Facebook posting which, oddly enough, included posts favoring Clinton and Sanders as well as Trump. The Clinton and Sanders posts are alleged to have been mere camouflage, although evidence of that is not offered in the indictment.

It was widely regarded as symbolic, since Russia was certainly not going to extradite anyone. But, since corporations cannot be thrown in prison, lo and behold a Russian corporation showed up in court to answer charges, and Mueller and company does not know whether to shit or go blind.

First they claim that the corporation cannot be in court offering a defense because they cannot prove that they have been properly served. The court responds that it is a prosecution problem for having sent service to the Russian government instead of the corporation and in any case the corporation, served or not, is here answering the charge. Lack of service might be a cause for the defense to delay, but not for the prosecution to do so. Next motion please.

Then the prosecution asks for a delay in providing “discovery,” which is the provision for the defense to have the evidence against them presented to them by the prosecution. It is fairly routine for the defense to ask for this kind of delay, but it is unprecedented for the prosecution to do so and is tantamount to admitting that they have filed an indictment without having any evidence. So the judge calls bullshit on them, and does not grant the delay.

So at this point the case is in limbo, although not yet thrown out, with Mueller and company standing with egg all over its collective face.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

This is Gender Equality?

The Boy Scouts are no more. The new policy of allowing girls to join the club rendered the name obsolete, and so now they are just "Scouts of America."

So, we now have the "Scouts of America" which boys and girls can join, and the "Girl Scouts of America" which only girls can join. It's probably better that I do not express any opinion on this.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

The Trend is Down

Watching the NASCAR race last weekend at Talladega, television showed the stands as mostly filled, which turns out to have been mostly use of clever camera angles. An article in the sports section in Forbes, Sports Money, tells us that the race “was run before grandstands that were mostly filled, but empty enough that the word ‘TALLADEGA’ in unused seats at each end was visible.”

Even more deceptive was that the announcers, which included two former drivers, told us that the infield was “sold out” more than two weeks before the race and repeatedly made reference to the “packed stands.” Views from the overhead blimp, however, showed vast expanses of empty green grass in the infield, and confirmed Forbes’ suggestion of less than capacity crowds in the grandstand. “Packed stands,” forsooth.

Forbes tells us, in fact, that while NASCAR no longer publishes attendance figures at races, the race drew an 18% drop television ratings and a 20% drop in viewers than the same race last year. That would seem to contradict the announcers’ claims about how much more exciting the sport has become since the addition of “stage racing” and with annual changes to the aerodynamic configuration of the cars.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Picking The Winner

NASCAR is racing at Talledega this week. All of the "experts" are reminding us that the superspeedway race is totally unpredictable because the cars run in snarling, 200mph packs of twenty to thirty cars packed inches apart, and that wrecks involving as many as twenty cars are common and expected. They then go on to tell us who they think will win the race.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Subron 8: Inland Sea Cruise

Another in the ongoing "Subron 8 Sea Stories" series.

One time, for reasons us whitehats were never told, Diablo took what was called the “inland sea cruise.” I think we were the first submarine ever to do it, in part because armed warships are prohibited in the Great Lakes by treaty with Canada, and submarines are difficult to disarm. Unloading all those torpedoes is a major chore, and the loss of weight does ugly things to our trim. Then, sooner or later, we have to put them all back in. We did keep a dozen or so practice fish, which had dummy warheads.

The cruise is up the Saint Lawrence Seaway, through all the Great Lakes, then down the Mississippi River. The Navy was not thinking clearly when they sent us on this journey because even rigged for surface we draw almost thirty feet, and you’ve probably read stories of what the Mississippi River is like. Right. Sandbars and such, and much of it no more than six feet deep. So at Chicago we turned around and went out the way we came in.

We didn’t, in those days, make a habit of colliding with everything in sight the way Navy ships do today, but that doesn’t mean my Navy was a paragon of clear thinking. Remind me to tell you about the refueling at sea experiment.

On the way we made port at lots of cities where the citizenry were all very excited about seeing a real live submarine. They came aboard in tour groups, gaped at all the machinery and asked a lot of rather silly questions, to which they got a lot of equally silly answers which embarrassed and frustrated the officers who overheard us giving them. They would chime in with a patient, “No ma’am, that isn’t what that does. What it really does…” and deliver an ugly look at the sailor involved.

The officers were, of course, totally unable to prevent us from having quite a good time conducting tours, entertaining guests in various ways which the Navy had not planned for, and getting phone numbers for when we went on liberty. On shore we were quite a novelty since many of the cities, Detroit for instance, hadn’t seen the Navy much, and we didn’t have to pay for our own drinks very often. So all in all, we enjoyed the cruise.

There were a few pitfalls to sailing a submarine in fresh water, though.

Like, for instance, how to deal with puddles of water on the deck. The air in submarines is normally very humid, and is compressed frequently which adds to condensation being a frequent issue. So when we see a puddle of water, we taste it. If it’s fresh then we know it’s condensation and can be ignored. Or cleaned up if an officer or chief petty officer notices you tasting it. If it’s salty, then it’s seawater, and you have a leak and had better do something about it. Leaks, in a submarine, are not good.

But when you are in the Great Lakes, any water leaking from outside the ship is not salty. Now what?

Yes, Diablo had leaks. She was built in 1941 for God’s sake. We maintained that our most critical piece of equipment was the bilge pump, because if it ever crapped out the leaks would sink us in eight hours.

The periscope gland leaked and the captain got wet every time he looked through the scope. The weird thing was that it leaked even when we were on the surface and the gland was 24 feet above the waterline, so the captain always got wet when he looked through the scope. Needless to say, he was not happy about it, and that gland was one of many things that made me glad I was an Electrician and not a Machinist’s Mate.

Then there was our stop at Bay City, MI, which was a bit weird. For one thing, the town is misnamed. It should be “Cove City.”

The “bay” into which we arrive is barely bigger than the length of our boat, and there is no pier other than one about eight feet long and situated in water about two feet deep. This was early in my service and I am still on the forward line handling party, so I’m on the foredeck looking around and wondering if the Skipper has gotten us lost.

We come to a stop about halfway into this cove, and I look up onto the bridge where some arm pointing and conversation is going on. The crowd on shore seems to be expecting us, though, so I figure we’re in the right place, that everything is under control and when it’s time for us to do something they will let us know.

Then I hear the vents pop under my feet and feel the deck settling and angling a bit, and I realize we’re flooding down forward. Not a lot, maybe a few feet, but it’s odd. Then the engines ramp up and we begin moving forward, toward shore. That’s definitely odd, and we’re all looking at each other like maybe the captain has gone off his nut. The bow rises very slightly, quite gently actually, the ship stops, and I realize than I’m on a ship that has run aground.

Apparently on purpose, because everyone on the bridge seems quite happy with the situation. So we’re all standing around on the foredeck with our teeth in our pockets and our hands in our mouths, until the captain finally leans over the bridge coaming and yells down, “Get a line over.”

We look around and wonder how the fuck we are supposed to do that. Not only are there no bollards, there is not even a pier. Not to mention, no personnel on shore to receive the line when we throw it. Ridley, who’s in charge, yells up at the bridge, “Get a line over to what, sir?” The query may have contained a faint note of sarcasm. Maybe more than a faint note.

If so, the captain missed it. “I don’t know,” he calls back, “That fire hydrant over there looks pretty good. Tie up to that.”

Tie up to a fire hydrant. Right. So after some yelling and arm waving we get a couple of volunteers on shore and we manage to get a five inch line to the fire hydrant in question. As soon as it is made fast, we shift the flag but leave one engine running to provide power since there is no shore power connection available for us to hook up to.

One guy is concerned as whether the fire hydrant will hold a 1800-ton submarine when the tide changes. Ridley puts his arm around the guy and assures him that of course the hydrant will not even come close to holding the ship, but that it’s okay because there are no tides in the Great Lakes.

When we were ready to leave, we just blew the forward ballast tanks, which picked the bow up off the bottom and allowed us to back smoothly out of the bay. The fire hydrant survived entirely intact. The same could not be said for some of the taverns, but no real harm was done.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Odd Ruling

Some Democrats and many Republicans were of the opinion that Obama's policy of "If Congress won't act then I will" was not only unconstitutional, but was weakened by the fact that what one president could create by executive order, another president could rescind by executive order.

According to a DC judge, apparently that's not the case. He ruled that Omama's executive order creating the DACA program, written after Congress specifically rejected passage of the exact same law, could not be ended by a Trump executive order. It is unclear whether the judge ruled that a Democratic president has more power than a Republican one, or a black president has more power than a white one, or a president elected by Americans has more power than one elected by Russians, or...

Democratic Platform

A liberal commenter waxes poetic about the excitement of the upcoming Democratic landslide in the 2018 midterm elections.

Instantly, the House would be converted into a hive of investigatory bodies. In a Democratic House, the grand Washington battle will no longer be Trump versus Mueller. It will be Trump versus 21 subpoena-wielding House committee chairmen, played out in public on a 24-hour televised loop…

Although Facebook has categorized me as a “liberal,” based on pretty much nothing since I don’t discuss politics on Facebook, I perceive this idiot’s wet dream as an overwhelming reason to hope for the retention of a Republican majority in both houses. The idea that the Democratic Party would abandon all pretence of governance in pursuit of a single-minded witch hunt against Trump utterly appalls me.

Actually, the Democrats have made very little pretence at governance since they ran on the platform of stopping the war in Iraq in 2006 and gave us “the surge” after taking control of Congress in 2007. They have been, in fact, a party of “against” and little else.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Madame Secretary

Having recorded it on Sunday, we watched the latest episode yesterday, in which the President, Chief of Staff and Secretary of State are in the Oval Office discussing to what extent, and on behalf of which candidate, this country should interfere in the Nicaguaran presidential election. There was no even momentary thought given to us staying out of it. I rather enjoyed the irony.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Bathwater and Bad Pot?

Dean Baker lives in a state where marijuana is not legal, so he may be getting some of the illegal bad quality stuff which is doing weird things to his brain. Either that or he’s using way too much of the good stuff.

On the 19th, critical of the stand taken by the Washington Post against tax cuts, he said that, “we have already paid an enormous price for having deficits that are too small. We have needlessly kept the unemployment rate higher than necessary, with a cost to our children of a permanently smaller economy, to the tune of $1 trillion to $2 trillion annually.”

So spending at a rate which has led our debt to grow from $5.7 trillion in 2000 to $18.2 trillion in 2015, a 219% increase, is “deficits that are too small.”

He then goes on to argue for higher deficit spending and makes the claim that our debt level of more than 100% of GDP is not problematic by saying that, “Japan has a debt-to-GDP ratio of more than 200 percent, over twice the US ratio. Until recently, investors were paying the Japanese government to lend it money, as its long-term interest rate was negative in nominal terms.” Etc.

He notes that Japan has maintained low inflation while accumulating that debt, but he doesn’t address Japan’s economic growth during that time, and it is economic growth that he claims has been harmed by insufficient deficit spending in this nation. In fact, Japan's economic growth has been so paltry during those years during those years of deficit spending that the population refers to those years as “The Lost Decades.”

So deficit spending didn’t grow Japan’s economy, but apparently he thinks it would grow ours. He does not explain why.

Then on the 20th he goes on another of his rants about the evils of patents and copyrights. It’s not that he doesn’t make some valid points regarding pharmaceutical companies, but he throws the baby out with the bathwater. Since Big Pharma is abusing the copyright/patent process, the entire process is evil and a person who writes a book should not be allowed to profit from having done so.

And, as usual, the ability to engage in logical thought completely escapes him.

“Suppose the government were to spend $400 billion this year on biomedical and other research and creative work,” he says. “This means that the deficit and debt would be $400 billion larger because it paid out money to corporations and individuals for this work.”

Then the train leaves the tracks. “Now suppose it grants patents and copyrights this year that will add an average of $50 billion a year over the next decade to the price of prescription drugs, software, and other protected items. Ignoring interest and discounting, how is that different from adding $500 billion to the debt?”

Actually, it adds nothing to the debt and $500 billion to the GDP, thereby reducing the debt to GDP ratio that, while utterly meaningless, is something that economists other than Dean Baker constantly worry about. Baker used to care, until doing otherwise suited his narrative better.

Baker does not see it that way, however, he sees that “we are requiring taxpayers to pay more money to drug companies and software makers,” which he says is, “in effect a privately collected tax.” Well, since it goes to corporations and not to the government, no, it is not a tax. Look up the definition of “tax” in the dictionary.

He then strays farther and farther into Paul Krugman territory. “Perhaps people feel better about being taxed by Pfizer and Microsoft than by the government,” he says, but given complaints about drug prices, clearly such is not the case.

He then discusses having an excise tax on drugs as opposed to the higher price and says that with respect to the difference, “No one would say that changes the debt story at all.” That borders on delusional, since the excise tax would reduce the deficit and the higher price does not.

He finishes with, “Anyhow, any deficit/debt monger who doesn't talk about the cost of patent and copyright monopolies is just being a political hack. They are not making serious economic arguments.” Well, we know who isn’t making serious economic arguments.