Saturday, November 30, 2019

Politics

from spaceFor those of you whose paper doesn't carry this strip.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Where Do You Put The Horse?

Have you noticed that, while united on the desire to impeach, Democrats have changed the grounds for that impeachment several times? Shouldn't that ring an alarm bell that they don't really care about "high crimes and misdemeanors" and are putting the cart before the horse?

First it was about "colluding" with the Russians to meddle in the election. Problem was that nobody knew precisely what constituted “collusion,” which didn’t stop them from spending 2+ years and $320 million trying to prove that he did it, whatever it was, and even with an such an undefined crime they failed to get an indictment.

Then it was about "obstruction of justice," except that no one could be convinced that what he was doing amounted to “obstruction.” Further, with no underlying crime it turned out that what he wasn’t obstructing wasn’t actually justice, so that amounted to another failure.

Next they moved from Russia to Ukraine and changed the charge to a "quid pro quo" until it turned out that voters couldn't speak Latin. In any case the Ukrainian president said there wasn’t a “quid pro quo,” whatever that is, so Democrats were foiled again.

Now they have switched the charge to "bribery," not because Trump did it, or because they have any evidence of such a deed, but because (unlike “collusion, obstruction of justice” or “quid pro quo”) that crime is specifically stated in the constitution as grounds for impeachment. Clever.

In the normal course of events this process would go something like, "Hey the president bribed somebody so we need to impeach him." Instead the drivers of the process are saying that, "We want to impeach the president, so we need to find a crime to use." Awesome.

Democrats are really enamored of their impeachment cart, they just don’t know where to put the horse, assuming that they would recognize a horse if it walked up and bit them on the collective ass.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

A Rising Tide Doesn't Float All Boats

It seems the rest of the voters are catching up to me, as I knew Elizabeth Warren was full of crap a long time ago. If nothing else, she’s an economist, an ilk which tells us that if you pour water from one bucket into another then all buckets will be full.

(Dean Baker; “There is no such thing as a labor shortage. All you have to do is pay higher wages and hire them away from your competitor.”)

Lizzie had risen to one of the top two in the Democratic candidate field, but is now down in the middle ranks, with her rating falling from 27% down to 14% in the polls. It’s not surprising given her astonishing performance on “healthcare for all.” (Among other things. “I sent my kids to public schools.” Oops.)

For months Warren competed with Bernie Sanders on this point, with Sanders admitting that he would tax the middle class to pay for it but that the tax would be less than they are now paying in insurance premiums, while Warren said the middle class would pay nothing at all. She said that “I have a plan” to pay for it, one which did not include “working men and women,” but steadfastly refused to reveal the plan.

She finally succumbed to pressure and revealed the plan but would have been better off, as is usually the case with this nitwit, to have kept it to herself.

The first part of the plan was, of course, the “wealth tax” and, amazingly, no one interrupted her to point out that she had already committed the “wealth tax” to paying for a free college education for everybody including, apparently, those who didn’t graduate from high school.

Long story short, the payment plan floated like a brick in a millpond, so Warren changed to a long term transition wherein people would “buy in” to Medicare and private insurance would not be cancelled but would sort of wither away to a natural death as the popularity of Medicare…

Right, that boat is not floating either. Thus the drop in the polls.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Ready, Fire, Aim

Elizabeth Warren opines that, “Traffic violence kills thousands and injures even more American every year. On World Day Remembrance for Traffic Crash Victims, I’m sending my love to the families and friends of those who have lost loved ones. It’s time to #EndTrafficViolence.”

How precious is that? It probably would be more to the point to send love directly to people who have actually lost loved ones, rather than to their families and friends, but Elizabeth Warren is probably a little too erudite to realize that. It seems this lady is one of those people who has been educated beyond her intelligence.

Keeping the Faith

The Secretary of the Navy resigned yesterday because, “I no longer share the same understanding (of military law) with the Commander in Chief who appointed me. I cannot in good conscience obey an order that I believe violates the sacred oath that I took in the presence of my family, my flag and my faith to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Yes indeed, because the constitution specifically states that a Chief Petty Officer who poses with corpse of a dead enemy shall be ejected from the Navy Seals. I cannot find the article and paragraph at the moment, but there is no doubt that allowing Chief Gallagher to remain in the Navy Seals would be a direct and devastating violation of our constitution, and that such a violation would greatly endanger the national security of our nation.

Friday, November 22, 2019

The Purpose of Tariffs

A few days ago Dean Baker wrote a piece declaiming the evils of tariffs. He is an economist, and should have been taught the value of tariffs as an economic protectionist tactic, and that our government has used them many times in the past 200 years, but apparently he skipped that part of class. I left the following comment on his piece.

Yes, tariffs raise prices on imported goods. That is their purpose. They do not raise prices on goods made in this country. That means that tariffs make domestic manufacturers competitive with cheap imports produced by low cost foreign labor, thereby benefiting workers who make those products in this country.

I am one of those workers. Back in the 1960s the American steel industry was being hurt by low quality steel imported from Europe, mostly from Poland, and sold at low prices. The government finally imposed tariffs on that imported steel, making high quality American steel competitive, and my job was saved.

Yes, the American consumer pays higher prices. They are doing so to support well paid, meaningful manufacturing jobs for their fellow citizens. You get what you pay for.


Dean Baker removed the comment from his blog.

(Yes, President Trump's comment was ignorant, in that it wrongly states the benefit of tariffs. That does not make Baker's response logical or reasonable.)

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Why Colleges are Failing Us

I was directed to a Facebook post by Heather Cox Richardson, who is an American historian and Professor of History at Boston College, on the subject of Gordon Sondland’s session before the Senate committee. Her dissertation on Sondland's testimony sort of illustrates why today’s institutes of higher education are going so horribly wrong.

She does say that, “Sondland has changed his testimony three times now, and is clearly motivated by a keen desire to stay out of jail,” and that “…he was also clearly being very careful with his wording over some issues, and there is no reason to take his testimony as gospel truth.”

After that quite rational observation she adds another reason to discard entirely anything the Sondland might have to say. “Certainly his claim that Ukraine fell within his portfolio is wrong and self-serving. Ukraine is not part of the European Union, and at the time he began his shenanigans, Ukraine had an ambassador,” who wasn’t him.

Having made a couple of statements that reflect a reasonable degree of sanity, she then departs entirely from the sphere of reality. “Still,” she says, “my long-standing prediction that this administration ends in a resignation is looking stronger than it did a day ago.”

Seriously? You completely discredit this clown, and then assert that his dishonest uninformed bullshit is going to take the president down? And you are a college professor?

She then goes on to assert that, “the Ukraine scandal was about undermining Trump’s leading Democratic challenger by starting rumors that he was under investigation for a crime.” Well, that might be true if you believed Sondland’s lies that the scandal was about what Trump supposedly did, but reality is that the scandal was about Democratic lies attempting to undermine a constitutionally elected president.

She adds that, “Trump’s plot weakened Ukraine and strengthened Russia,” when it wasn’t Trump’s plot, it was a Democratic plot which didn’t significantly affect Ukraine at all, in part because Russia was laughing their asses off at American idiocy.

She finishes with, “It is an attack on American democracy itself, taking away our right to choose our own leaders.” Well, yes, because the losing side is trying to impeach the one we elected, merely because he won.

Lighter News

A post on The Duffell Blog, a military version of The Onion, was headlined “Marine crayon eating contest goes horribly wrong.”

The problem leading to the contest's disaster was, the article tells us, that “no one told Pfc. Smith he needed to chew the crayons.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Marine Corps, have a very high respect for them and have enjoyed a sterling relationship with them through the years.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

FFL/NFL Thoughts

Last week I was in sole possession of 11th place in a 12-team league. I won this past weekend and am now in a four-way tie for 8th place, which is not as much of an improvement as it might seem, since there is still only one team with a worse record than mine. I am keeping company with the Chargers.

Did I really watch that last night? Four interceptions, and two more interceptions dropped? Five trips into the red zone in the first half, netting nothing more than three field goals? That was just weird.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Impeachment Follies

Please don't mistake me for a supporter of Donald Trump, but...

The “whistleblower” came forward because he was concerned that President Trump was “going against established US foreign policy.”   Since the constitution clearly and unequivocally establishes that is the President who sets US foreign policy, how is it even possible that the President could “go against established US foreign policy.”

The current “talking point” for impeachment is no longer “quid pro quo,” but is now the same actions relabeled as “bribery." This is because “quid pro quo” is not named in the constitution as grounds for impeachment, while “bribery” is.

Bribery is rather clearly defined in the dictionary, and there a few problems with the application of the term to this set of actions and statements. Trump did not give Ukraine this money, Congress did. Trump did not personally benefit from the putative “quid pro quo,” his presidential campaign supposedly did.

Even if legal maneuvering could manage to define Trump as the donor of the money to Ukraine because he held it back and then released it, which would be legal magic to an extraordinary degree, this instance would have severe consequences. If paying money to enhance one’s political campaign amounts to bribery, then every member of Congress is in very big trouble.

From Homeschoolmomof11, a commenter on Powerline, regarding Ambassador Yovanovitch, “I keep trying to hold to the ideal that women can be just as strong as men and just as deserving of leadership positions, but the Democrats keep pushing women like this into the spotlight and ruining it for me.” Yes, this woman and the ditz who tried to bring down Justice Kavanaugh.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Levity In My Life

My wife is makes many positive contributions to my life, among them an ongoing sense of levity. She is currently having an anxiety attack because I am changing a light switch in the bathroom. She is utterly convinced that this is an activity which will almost certainly lead to my instant and horribly painful death. There is a secondary concern that it might set the house on fire. I like her priorities, but...

She is well aware that I was an Electrician's Mate in the Navy. Everything else that I do is self taught, but electrical work is the one thing for which I have any formal training. It matters not. Electricity is a substance only slightly less dangerous than Republicans.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Interest On The Debt

Dean Baker published a piece a couple weeks ago in which he opined that government payments of interest on the national debt are too trivial to deserve any attention, and are in any case smaller now than they were in 1991. You have to make allowances for Dean, he’s an economist, and his brain was destroyed in college.

What he said, specifically, was that “interest payments were around 1.7 percent of GDP last year,” which “compares to a peak of 3.2 percent of GDP in 1991.”

Interest payments are not subtracted from GDP, of course, they are subtracted from federal revenue, and I’ll get to that in a bit, but like most economists, Dean Baker is really lousy at math. In fiscal 2019 the government paid $574.6 Billion in interest and the GDP was $21.3 Trillion, so the percentage was 2.7%, not the 1.7% he claims. In 1991 the numbers were $286 Billion and $6.16 Trillion, so that year it was 4.6% rather than the 3.2% that his slide rule came up with.

He doesn’t say where he gets his numbers, possibly from a portion of his body that the sun never shines on. I get mine from the US Treasury Department website. 2.7% is a bit more than half of 4.6%, so the “less than half” part of his headline is bogus, but even so his theory would paint a pretty nice picture if it was the whole story. But, of course, it is not the whole story by a long shot.

For one thing, he takes the position of a man falling from a ten story building, who says as he passes the fifth floor, “Well, I’m okay so far,” because he disregards the factor of interest rates. And that is by no means a trivial issue.

In 1991 the debt was $3.66 Trillion, so that $286 Billion represented a 7.8% interest rate. Today the debt is $22.8 Trillion and the $574 Billion amounts to a 2.5% interest rate. What that means is that if the interest rate rises we have a problem. At the 7.8% rate of 1991, interest today would be $1.78 Trillion.

How big a problem is that? Well, at 8.5% of GDP, even Dean Baker might consider that a bit of a problem. I would not, because its relation to GDP is utterly irrelevant. Interest payments are not paid out of the GDP, they are paid out of federal revenue, and payments of $1.78 Trillion out of federal revenue is a disaster. That interest payment would consume 51.4% of federal revenue.

Even at the current 2.5% rate, interest payments of $575 Billion consume 16.5% of federal revenue, which currently is $3.46 Trillion. No spending item other than “defense” spends more. And since we continue to spend $1 Trillion more than we take in every year, the cost of the debt grows larger and more dangerous every year.

And yet not only is this issue entirely absent from the political discourse, every Democratic candidate continues to promise more and more “free stuff” as the foundation of their campaign, assuring the “middle class” that they will have to pay for none of it.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Elizabeth Warren's Funny Money

As much as it was beginning to annoy the media, Elizabeth Warren would have been better served to continue refusing to answer questions about how she was going to pay for her “Medicare For All” plan.

One has only to examine the first item in her plan to see that what she is proposing makes “smoke and mirrors” look more substantial than a fleet of nuclear bombers.

Bear in mind that the plan will cost $3.2 trillion per year, and total government spending in 2019 was $4.45 trillion. Given that we are currently spending $1.3 trillion on health care, the $3.2 trillion cost of her “Medicare For All” plan will be more than the $3.15 trillion of non-health care spending by the government, so funding is not a trivial issue.

“First,” she says, “we’re going to use the $1.6 trillion of current spending on Medicare and Medicaid.” She actually says $16 trillion, because she adopts the popular fantasy of using numbers for a decade, but since the government only budgets for one year at a time I’m going to call her on using bogus numbers and stick to using real ones.

The first problem with her claim here, is that in 2019 we are spending only $1.3 trillion, so there is already a $300 billion hole in her funding plan, and we are still on the first line item of her plan.

The next problem is that she is evaluating apples by counting oranges with that claim, in that she is discussing funding and citing spending, which are two different things. The government is spending more than it takes in, and one item that is definitely operating at a deficit is Medicare. Medicare taxes, in fact, only cover about half of what is spent on Medicare payouts, and other health care spending is operating on the same 35% deficit that the government does.

So, and you can do your own math on this, the actual funding that she will get for her plan by claiming existing funding, rather than existing spending, is $800 billion. That is barely half of the $1.6 trillion she claims will contribute toward funding of her plan, so just by examining the first line item of her laundry list we see that she is already $800 billion short on her claim.

The rest of the items are no better, and most of them are worse, so this funding plan is really no better than her claims of Native American heritage.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

California style

Santa Ana weather is not limited to wind. Winds north of us are still high, but the past couple of days we have actually had very little wind. What we have had is very low humidity which causes a large day/night heat difference, and that effect is magnified by being at the sea coast. Our differences are running almost 50 degrees between daytime high and night time low. We actually run the air conditioner in the afternoon and the furnace at night. Weird, but...

What's funny is watching the early morning dog walkers on the street in front of our house. Parkas are quite common, along with mittens. Oddly, the parkas and mittens are often combined with shorts and flip flops. Well, this is California.