Monthly Archives: October 2013

Echos Of The Civil War

For two reason I don’t like this:

Washington (CNN) – Rep. Charles Rangel on Tuesday compared what he considers the most intransigent members of the House Republican caucus with the Confederates of the American Civil War.

The last-minute holdups on a deal over funding the government and raising the debt ceiling, the longtime Democrat from New York City told CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield, are not coming from conflict between Republicans and Democrats.

Rather, “this is all about a handful of people who got elected as Republicans that want to bring down our government. You can see it in the streets. You can see where they’re coming from,” Rangel said.

“The same way they fought as Confederates, they want to bring down the government and reform it.”

Rangel was asked to confirm that he was referring to the Confederates of the Civil War. He told Banfield, “If you take a look at the states that they control, take a look at the Dixiecrats, see how they went over the Republican Party…”

The reasons?

  1. The reaction to Obamacare has nothing to do with race.
  2. Nothing good comes out of incendiary remarks like this.


The Attack Of The Hyphen

I always thought that E-bay was founded by some guy’s wife trying to unload her Beanie Baby collection.

So, when I saw this I was intrigued:

SAN FRANCISCO – EBay founder Pierre Omidyar has become the latest self-made tech baron to plunge into the struggling news industry – hot on the heels of Inc founder Jeff Bezos, who just paid $250 million for the Washington Post.

I clicked through and read this:

But unlike Bezos, the French-born Iranian American says he aims to build a new “mass media organization” from the ground up, and his first recruits are the journalists who exposed the U.S. government’s surveillance programs, using documents leaked by former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden.


French-born Iranian American.

Am I an American-born German American?  Why would Omidyar not simply be a French American?  Or an Iranian American?

Or, God forbid, an American?


The State Of Our Infrastructure – Bridges

Falling Bridge

Taking a break from the circus that is Washington for a second.

A seemingly continual drumbeat is the failed state of our infrastructure – our bridges and our roads.  And, of course, the need to spend more money so that we’re no longer failing in that regard but working to improve ’em.

There’s been an aspect to that argument that has always eaten’ at me.

What do we do with the infrastructure money we currently have?

The federal HTF was invented in 1956, promising motorists and truckers that all proceeds from a new federal gas tax would be spent on building the interstate system. They aren’t. Congress has expanded federal highway spending beyond interstates to include all types of roadways. And since 1982, a portion of “highway user taxes” have been diverted to urban transit (non highway use). Today, the federal role in transportation includes maintaining sidewalks, funding bike paths, and creating scenic trails.

I would think that before we spend money on bike trails and scenic trails, we ought to fix our bridges.

But speaking of bridges, how bad are they?


From Cato via Coyote.

There is no trend that demonstrates our bridges are falling down.

Government Shutdown – Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell offers his take on the shutdown:

Even when it comes to something as basic, and apparently as simple and straightforward, as the question of who shut down the federal government, there are diametrically opposite answers, depending on whether you talk to Democrats or to Republicans.

There is really nothing complicated about the facts. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted all the money required to keep all government activities going — except for ObamaCare.

This is not a matter of opinion. You can check the Congressional Record.

As for the House of Representatives’ right to grant or withhold money, that is not a matter of opinion either. You can check the Constitution of the United States. All spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives, which means that Congressmen there have a right to decide whether or not they want to spend money on a particular government activity.

Whether ObamaCare is good, bad or indifferent is a matter of opinion. But it is a matter of fact that members of the House of Representatives have a right to make spending decisions based on their opinion.

ObamaCare is indeed “the law of the land,” as its supporters keep saying, and the Supreme Court has upheld its Constitutionality.

But the whole point of having a division of powers within the federal government is that each branch can decide independently what it wants to do or not do, regardless of what the other branches do, when exercising the powers specifically granted to that branch by the Constitution.

The hundreds of thousands of government workers who have been laid off are not idle because the House of Representatives did not vote enough money to pay their salaries or the other expenses of their agencies — unless they are in an agency that would administer ObamaCare.

Since we cannot read minds, we cannot say who — if anybody — “wants to shut down the government.” But we do know who had the option to keep the government running and chose not to. The money voted by the House of Representatives covered everything that the government does, except for ObamaCare.

The Senate chose not to vote to authorize that money to be spent, because it did not include money for ObamaCare. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says that he wants a “clean” bill from the House of Representatives, and some in the media keep repeating the word “clean” like a mantra. But what is unclean about not giving Harry Reid everything he wants?

If Senator Reid and President Obama refuse to accept the money required to run the government, because it leaves out the money they want to run ObamaCare, that is their right. But that is also their responsibility.

You cannot blame other people for not giving you everything you want. And it is a fraud to blame them when you refuse to use the money they did vote, even when it is ample to pay for everything else in the government.

When Barack Obama keeps claiming that it is some new outrage for those who control the money to try to change government policy by granting or withholding money, that is simply a bald-faced lie. You can check the history of other examples of “legislation by appropriation” as it used to be called.

Whether legislation by appropriation is a good idea or a bad idea is a matter of opinion. But whether it is both legal and not unprecedented is a matter of fact.

Perhaps the biggest of the big lies is that the government will not be able to pay what it owes on the national debt, creating a danger of default. Tax money keeps coming into the Treasury during the shutdown, and it vastly exceeds the interest that has to be paid on the national debt.

Even if the debt ceiling is not lifted, that only means that government is not allowed to run up new debt. But that does not mean that it is unable to pay the interest on existing debt.

None of this is rocket science. But unless the Republicans get their side of the story out — and articulation has never been their strong suit — the lies will win. More important, the whole country will lose.


It is fact that spending bills originate in the House of Representatives.  I would rather have the House vote to allocate enough money to the budget short of the amount required for Obamacare and then let the actors figure out what they wanna cut, but that’s details.

I Love Sport

Packer Peterson

I love the sense of family between even rivals.

Today even Green Bay wears Purple.

The Impact Of The Tea Party

Tea Party Spending

The debate is raging in Washington.  Can the government spending excess be reigned in.  On the one had we have an Obama administration that wants to spend and spend and spend.  There can be no doubt as to their desired policy – more government spending is better government spending.

And then you have the Tea Party.  Facing opposition not only from the democrats but also from the republican establishment.

And what have they accomplished in their short existence?  Look at the graph above.

They stopped the spending in its tracks.

Rage on little T, rage on!

The Impact Of The 1990’s Shutdown

Clinton Shutdown

The last time that the federal government was shutdown as in the 90’s.  President Clinton and Speaker Gingrich didn’t see eye to eye.  The shutdown came in two parts with the longest such disruption lasting 3 weeks.

Who paid the price?

It’s widely understood that the republican’s lost.  Scott Erb even has a post as such:

The first shut down was from November 14-19, 1995,  followed by a second from December 16, 1995 to January 6, 1996.  The Republicans suffered politically from that shutdown…

Indeed.  Republicans suffered politically.  However, what would that mean?  To me, a political loss would manifest itself in any number of ways:

  1. Loss of Presidential Election
  2. Loss of seats in the House
  3. Loss of seats in the Senate
  4. Loss of policy debate

A very strong case can be made that the democrats won on point #1.  Clinton went on  win his second term.  However, the debate is much less clear after that.

Take the House for example.  The make-up in the years before and after the shutdown:

1993-1995  258 Democrats with 176 Republicans

1995-1997  204 Democrats with 230 Republicans

1997-1999  207 Democrats with 227 Republicans

The Senate?

1993-1995  57 Democrats with 43 Republicans

1995-1997  48 Democrats with 52 Republicans

1997-1999  45 Democrats with 55 Republicans


And finally the policy.

The republicans balanced the budget and won welfare reform.

I’d say that the win goes to the republicans.

Where America Stands On The Negotiations

From a Fox News Poll:

A Fox News national poll asks voters to imagine being a lawmaker and having to cast an up-or-down vote on raising the debt ceiling:  37 percent would vote in favor of it, while 58 percent would vote against it.

Most Republicans (78 percent) and a majority of independents (57 percent) would vote against raising the limit. So would almost all Tea Partiers (88 percent).

More than half of Democrats would vote in favor of increasing the debt ceiling (57 percent), while 38 percent would vote against doing so.

At the same time, 62 percent of voters want Congress to raise the limit only after agreeing on “major cuts in government spending.”  Far fewer — 27 percent — believe the limit must be increased and that is it “reckless” to even debate not doing so.

Even Democrats, by a 48-42 percent margin, are more likely to say spending cuts must accompany an increase in the debt limit.

By wide margins Republicans (77-11 percent) and independents (65-26 percent) would require cuts in government spending before agreeing to raise the debt ceiling.

Meanwhile, by a nine percentage-point margin, voters are likely to think the automatic government spending cuts that went into effect March 1 are more a good thing than a bad thing (48-39 percent).  That’s mostly unchanged from how voters felt about the sequester cuts earlier this year.

I’m not sure that republicans are winning the minds of Americans but small government folks sure are.

The End Game Of Liberalism


To e sure, it’s a slow drip.

The intentions are noble.  The individuals who claim to be liberal, I firmly believe they are engaged in what they think is the good work.

But it doesn’t change the fact that the Liberal feels that they are better able to decide what is good for you than you yourself are.  Further, they conflate the problem using numbers that are sound scary:

I want to write about risk.  Drum and Carroll are taking the high ground here, claiming they are truly the ones who understand risk and all use poor benighted folks do not.  But Drum and Carroll repeat the mistake in this post which is the main reason no one can parse risk.

A key reason people don’t understand risk is that the media talks about large percent changes to a small risk, without ever telling us the underlying unadjusted base risk.   A 100% increase in a risk may be trivial, or it might be bad.  A 100% increase in risk of death in a car accident would be very bad.  A 100% increase in the risk of getting hit by lightning would be trivial.

In this case, it’s probably somewhere in between.  The overall lifetime risk of melanoma is about 2%.  This presumably includes those with bad behavior so the non-tanning number is likely lower, but we will use 2% as our base risk understanding that it is likely high.  The 5-year survival rate from these cancers (which by the way tend to show up after the age 60) is 90+% if you are white — if you are black it is much lower (I don’t know if that is a socio-economic problem or some aspect of the biology of darker skin).

So a teenager has a lifetime chance of dying early from melanoma of about 0.2%.  A 50% increase to this would raise this to 0.3%.  An extra one in one thousand chance of dying early from something likely to show up in old age — is that “so, so, so, so, so, so, so bad”?  For some yes, for some no.  That is what individual choice is all about.

But note the different impacts on perception.

  • Statement 1:  “Teen tanning increases dangerous melanoma skin cancer risk by 50”.
  • Statement 2:  “Teen tanning adds an additional 1 in 1000 chance of dying of skin cancer in old age.”

Both are true.  Both should likely be in any article on the topic.  Only the first ever is included, though.

The whole sell of the Liberal State is that some Angel knows more about your well being than you do.  And to make it worse, they aren’t representing the numbers correctly.


Role Of Government

Libertarianism 101