Sunday, October 19, 2014

LIVs are why PA can't have nice things

LIVs, or low-information-voters, are a colossal problem with our polity.  This trend seems set to continue in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race this fall.

The Times Herald (Norristown):
Many Pennsylvania voters who plan to vote for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Tom Wolf know little about him but are lining up behind the first-time candidate because of their disenchantment with Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, according to Associated Press interviews with voters across the state.
Most said they simply disliked Corbett, criticizing him as an enemy of public schools who lacks compassion. And some objected to his refusal to tax natural gas drilling and the suspicion that it is not being done in an environmentally friendly way. 

This is incredibly frustrating. State education funding under Corbett is at an all time high, and there is effectively a tax on gas drillers, the local impact fee. Wolf is actually running on a tax-and-spend platform, and is anti-gun. Wolf's income tax plan would probably require a constitutional amendment, and his gas severance tax will funnel money away from local communities and towards the black hole of education, but without any apparent plan to address the looming public employee pension crisis.

The gas tax-education funding nexus is especially problematic in that people will be voting to tax somebody other than themselves to the benefit of people who are to a large extent also not themselves. This is a recipe for public policy disaster as there is no obvious pain to the voter for excessive taxation and no obvious pain to the voter when those resources are squandered.

What does this say about supposedly “purple” Pennsylvania when we vote for Obama twice and are set to elect an Obama clone to statewide office even as Democrats stumble nationally?

How dumb are we?


Sunday, April 06, 2014

Taper Unemployment Benefits

Despite being technically out of recession for about five years, there's been increasing noise about extending emergency unemployment benefits. If we go down this route, either now, or as the next recession hits, I'd like to propose an experiment cobbled together from several social science observations.

We know that people on unemployment tend to find work soon after their benefits run out. Not always, but a statistically significant amount of the time. During the period of joblessness, the individual's skills atrophy. We also know that people respond to consistently applied negative feedback, even when that feedback is relatively minor.

 So when we eventually vote to extend emergency unemployment benefits, now or in a future cycle, I suggest a tapering of benefits rather than a sudden cessation. Reduce the payments a little bit each time. Make it budget neutral, so that the same amount of funds get paid out over a longer period of time.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Opportunity for pro-science pro-patent Republicans

Republicans ought to be able to make some hay out of the FDA's recent slap down of personal genetic testing pioneer 23andMe.  Some enterprising conservative House members ought to introduce legislation to rein in the FDA, doing so on the grounds of both individual liberty and scientific progress.
It's got all the right ingredients. A senseless governmental overreach... right in our wheelhouse. Target audience? Upper middle class suburbanites... a demographic we've struggled with of late.
A fix would be Pro-science! An issue certain people anti-associate with the GOP.  A fix would be pro-liberty, pro-individual determination.
Why shouldn’t people have the right to learn about their own DNA without the interference of an increasingly political health-care industrial complex?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

VA, NJ quick thoughts


I'm not going to get into the blame game on Cuccinelli's loss, but when you have a viable candidate, you fight hard. You fight hard until the end because you never know what might happened. 

Exit question to those who say Cuccinelli "ran hard" on social issues: Did Cuccinelli do that, or did McAuliffe do that?

New Jersey

Chris Christie will not be the GOP Presidential nominee in 2016.

It's not so much the in-your-face attitude that gets me, its the in-MY-face attitude.  Christie snarled at fiscal conservatives who didn't want the Sandy relief bill to be too porked up.

So that's a strike on fiscal issues, which you can add to his Second Amendment problems.

Screw you too, buddy.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Word Watch: Substandard

The latest White House weasel word in defense of Obama "misspeaking" about folks keeping their insurance plans is "substandard".  As in, "You shouldn't want to keep your substandard plan anyway."

This is a rather slick tautology.  The plans are "sub-standard" in that they are below the legal standard -- the Obamacare standard.  So when people complain that they were kicked off their plan because it didn't meet the Obamacare criteria, it is a semantically null defense to say that the plan was "substandard".

Of course it is substandard.  Obamacare defined the standard, and that is the very thing about which people are complaining.

"Substandard" is particularly weaselly because in addition to having the precise meaning of being below the standard, it has a looser connotation of being of poor quality.  Not all substandard plans are of poor quality, but they'd like you to think so while repeating a technically accurate word.

And regarding idea that the POTUS "misspoke" (several dozen times), I think it's time the GOP bring back a word that was used effectively against Bush: "misled".

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The alternative to leeches

It's one of the oldest jokes there is.
Doctor, it hurts when I do this.
-Then don't do that!
Republicans will continue to be asked what their alternative to Obamacare is. And while I would encourage folks to continue to work on answering that question, it's terribly unfair if you think about it.
It's a little like asking about the Republican alternative to leeches and bloodletting. The answer is to not do those things. Yes, there are alternatives out there, but the important thing is to stop doing the stupid and counterproductive things first.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The “War Fatigue” Meme

I heard “war fatigue” probably ten times or so on the evening news tonight. The problem with this subtle piece of propaganda is that it blames the populace for their unwillingness to support Obama.

You see, it's not that Obama's plan to bomb Syria is a bad idea, it's just that you poor stupid bastards are too war weary to appreciate the infinite wisdom of the plan.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

War Powers and Syria

The War Powers Resolution is a tricky animal. There's a good argument that not all of it is constitutional, but it does represent a decent starting point for any discussion of the President's discretionary war powers.

A President probably has the authority to launch a one-off strike as we are currently considering with Syria, but this is really not the situation contemplated by the War Powers Resolution. This is not an emergency. There is ample time to consult with the Congress and obtain proper authority for the use of military force.

This is yet another example of Obama's disregard for the democratic process, which if allowed to proceed, would probably nix an attack.

Friday, August 23, 2013

To Defund

At some point, and soon, folks had better recognize that Obamacare is an existential threat.  An existential threat to the American way of life, and an individually existential threat to those whose care will inevitably be denied under the law.

In an episode of The Big Bang Theory, Wolowitz is asked if his family has a history of heart disease.  His retort - "My family is the history of heart disease."

Similarly, I note that my family is the history of cancer.  My paternal grandmother had breast cancer twice before succumbing to melanoma.  My maternal grandfather died of lymphoma, as did one of his brothers.  His other brother died of liver cancer.  A great grandfather died of brain cancer.  Several of my dad's aunts died of various cancers. And my Dad is currently living with leukemia.

I'm sure I forgot a few, but you get the idea.

And who gets hit hardest by Obamacare?  Cancer patients! (h/t Mark Levin)

Guess who else gets hit? Insured spouses.  And wouldn't you know it, my cancer patient dad is insured through mom's workplace policy. Potential double whammy. 

So forgive me, but I'm taking this personally.

But beyond my family's horror story, and similar ones around the country, Obamacare promises to stifle the economy and strain the federal budget, most likely to the breaking point.  At what point do we stop treating Obamacare as a political game and take the most aggressive stance we can against it?

No, the polls don't favor "shutdown".  The polls don't favor Obamacare either.  Winners don't just read the polls, they influence them. And that is not just some partisan bravado, but a fact of life.  A poll is essentially incapable of capturing the potential for self-reinforcing trends. ("Reflexive" phenomena, to use George Soros' term.)  A poll can not look more than one or maybe two iterations ahead in a trend.  A poll can not predict a social tipping point.  And I say this as a big fan of polls, and a proponent of their proper use.

The most coherent opposition to the "defund" strategy is the percieved probability that the effort will eventually fail, and we will look weak for having tried and failed. But this is a self-fulfilling prophesy.  Navel-gazing Republicans are our worst enemies. By talking down the strategy, they diminish its probability of success.  And we need it to be a success. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

QOTD: Abortion Quotas

For anybody who happens to be a big fan of Planned Parenthood...

Daily Caller:

“The abortion lobby has said they want abortion to be safe, legal and rare,” Johnson told me. “But clearly we see that they’ve dropped the safe part and the rare part because they are trying to increase abortion.”
Johnson told me that during her time with Planned Parenthood, staffers were given abortion quotas to meet. Workers could easily influence vulnerable women into choosing an abortion, not necessarily for the benefit of the woman, but to meet the monthly quotas set by management.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Unintended Consequences of Foreign Aid

I'm not so naive as to think we can just cut all foreign aid and all will be well, but the current mess in Egypt has exposed a significant unintended consequence of foreign aid.

Brit Hume made an excellent point on Fox News Sunday, which is that whether US policy makers decide to continue or to cut aid to the Egyptian military, the decision isn't whether or not to exercise US influence, but how to exercise US influence. "Two sides of the same coin", as Hume said.

Again, there is a good argument for continuing aid in this case, which is the preservation of peace between Egypt and Israel by placating the Egyptian military.  But make no mistake, we find ourselves being forced --one way or the other-- to exercise what some might describe as imperial power due to a policy of significant and seemingly perpetual foreign aid.

Perhaps we should remember this dilemma when considering our other foreign aid commitments.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Dan Pfeiffer and the Law

It’s a ready-made Drudge headline. In reference to the recent IRS scandal, Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer said, "The law is irrelevant".

The utterance launched numerous tweets and re-tweets, and, predictably, a backlash against an out-of-context quote.

Let me charitably re-phrase what Pfeiffer was probably trying to say — That, regardless of the whether the IRS actions were technically illegal, they were definitely wrong, and the Obama administration will be working to rectify the problem.

That’s about as generous as I can be.  But it’s still a problematic and revealing statement.  The administration’s broad strategy is to direct the media away from inquiries about illegality.  You know, because it almost certainly was illegal.

These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.

Monday, April 08, 2013

They lie because they can

The gun control lies are coming so, um, Fast and Furious -- so to speak -- that it's rather difficult to keep up with all of them.

The most abused falsehood is the blurring of the distinction between semi-automatic weapons and fully automatic ones.  Gabby GiffordsObama referring to NewtownBloomberg, as a general statement.

All three false, but frequently repeated and widely believed propositions.

I can sort of forgive Gabby Giffords, as she has been made into an unfortunate puppet of her husband/handler. But I can't forgive her husband, who clearly knows better, nor the President, who actually "corrected" himself, nor Mike Bloomberg, who has made it his raison d'ĂȘtre to make as many legal guns illegal has he can afford to.

Yes, there are certainly circumstances of painfully obvious ignorance, but on the whole we are seeing a deliberate obfuscation of numerous gun control issues. And they will continue to lie, and they will do so because for the most part they can get away with it.  The media has already largely acquiesced to the change in language from "gun control legislation" to "gun violence legislation".  Frickin' Pravda, man.

Guns are an extremely emotional issue, and it pays for the Left to keep it that way.  As Jonathan Swift is credited as saying, It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.

The subject of "universal background checks" is probably a close second to the auto/semi-auto obfuscation.  Sure, "90%" support universal checks, but it's unlikely that most of them have any idea what that would entail, including making it a felony to go on vacation without your guns for more than seven days if your roommate is still on the premises.

And yet, Nanny Bloomberg continues to run an absurd ad by some phoney-baloney gun "owner" where he breaks every safety rule ever invented while claiming to support gun rights.

I just shake my head in despair as I consider that people take Bloomberg and the gun control crowd seriously.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Pre-K education is about day-care

Obama spoke about universal pre-K education in the SOTU.  Presumably this means something akin to Head Start.  Sadly, we know that the benefits of Head Start disappear within a few years, making it a colossal waste of resources and an empty promise to the underprivileged.

Whether Obama knows or believes this is almost irrelevant.  The important point for conservatives to understand is that the demand for pre-K is an appeal to two segments of the population:
  1. Parents in need of day-care
  2. Teacher unions

The first could conceivably be won by Republicans.  The second seems forever lost.

If Republicans are forced to offer an alternative to universal pre-K, we might consider day-care vouchers for 3-to-5 year-olds. 

It's not ideal, but it is a heck of a lot cheaper than pre-K, which would surely require certified teachers with bachelor's degrees and union memberships, not to mention the infrastructure building that would be necessary to cope with another year or two of schooling.

Day-care vouchers would avoid direct subsidies to hostile entities, save money while accomplishing the exact same goal, and introduce parents to the concept of voucher-based subsidy of goods and services, which might come in handy should anybody try to get far with K-12 education vouchers.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Reveal the Trick

Perhaps the best way to heckle a magician is to reveal his tricks. "It's up his sleeve!"  "There's a false bottom!"

And so too do I think Republicans ought to reveal some of Obama's rhetorical slights of hand, particularly closing tax loopholes.

It should go a little something like this:
"You know, [name of reporter], it's a funny trick the President is playing now by talking about tax loopholes, because Republicans have been talking about closing loopholes for months in the context of comprehensive tax reform. At the time he seemed to dismiss the idea. [chuckle] We're glad he's coming around on that issue. We'd be happy to talk with the President about closing loopholes in a revenue neutral way as a part of comprehensive tax simplification so we can stop picking winners and losers in the tax code and free up this economy so we can finally get some real growth and job creation."

Monday, February 11, 2013

About Rove's Project

Karl Rove wants to get involved in GOP primaries, citing the Buckley rule.

There's actually something to be said for that idea. The biggest problem is who would be running the show, and that's Karl Rove.  I really don't trust Rove to fully understand how people misapply the Buckley rule, and from my point of view Rove is too old-school (think median voter theory) to pull this off, even if there weren't enormous backlash against him personally.

AFP might have a better chance at getting this right.  They have base-voter credibility.

Related: Matt Lewis recommends candidate training. I endorse this idea.


I promised constructive ideas in my previous post.  You'll notice I haven't posted here since November.  That's because the most "constructive" thing I did was obtain my license to carry firearms, and that's not especially constructive.

Monday, November 12, 2012

QOTD: It worked

Charles C. W. Cooke at NR ("Why I Despair"):
But, consider this: A president of the United States just ran a reelection campaign based on the promise of government largess, exploitation of class division, the demonization of success, the glorification of identity politics, and the presumption that women are a helpless interest group; and he did so while steadfastly refusing to acknowledge the looming — potentially fatal — crisis that the country faces. And it worked.
Alas, there is nothing written in the stars that says that America will always be America. “Rome,” as Joseph Heller brutally reminded us, “was destroyed, Greece was destroyed, Persia was destroyed, Spain was destroyed. All great countries are destroyed. Why not yours? How much longer do you really think your own country will last? Forever? Keep in mind that the earth itself is destined to be destroyed by the sun in 25 million years or so.” There will be little virtue in America if it becomes a larger version of Britain, but with free speech and the right to bear arms.

 My natural inclination is towards despair. However, I must acknowledge that this is not a fruitful sentiment, even if it may be true.

More constructive thoughts to come...

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Obligatory Post-Election Remarks

I usually post predictions before elections.  I didn't this time.  On the standard view, Obama was destined to win.  We had reasons to doubt the standard view, but it's standard for a reason.  In my private emails to friends I said my probability curve was barbell shaped, and that we'd likely have an early night... I just didn't know who would come out on top.

So now we know.  And it's not good.  I'm trying to sort through exactly how "not good" it is, and attempting to avoid being alarmist.

But it's hard.  There's a debt crisis coming.  Yes, the "fiscal cliff" too, which is a big deal, but that's just a symptom of the debt.  Things would have been tough with Romney. I don't see how things work at all with Obama.

So how fast will the debt crisis bite us in the rear?  Good question.  Could be years, perhaps after Obama is out of office.  Or it could be next year.  Given tepid economic news here and discouraging economic news from Europe, I'm reasonably certain that a double-dip recession is in the cards.

When Greeks rioted over governmental austerity, the world raised a serious eyebrow. Frankly, Europe still isn't out of its troubles.  But if the US starts to look like Greece (and by certain measures we're worse than Greece already)... the entire global political, economic, and military/defense system begins to warp.

I'm still sorting out what this means, but it's not a good sign that the country re-elected a President who has done literally almost nothing right except fail to close Gitmo as he promised.  The man has absolutely no grasp of economic reality.  The ability of the electorate to self-correct when faced with an existential crisis is in very serious doubt.

As to who is at fault, or how Conservatives can rebuild, I'm still sorting that out too.  But here are a few of the more reasonable responses to those questions:

Saturday, November 03, 2012

The continuous October Surprise

This was linked in the AoS overnight thread, but it warrants repeating.

What October Surprise could possibly top everything we've already been through? (Related: "Obama fatigue" as early as March of 2009)

"Zombie" at PJM:
But in Barack Obama’s case, the situation is reversed: Everything he’s ever done is scandalous. The reason there was no October Surprise for Obama is that we’re all scandaled out. Anyone’s who been paying attention since 2008 has literally been in paralytic shock every single day. We spent October 2012 exactly as we’ve spent every month of the last four years: Our jaws on the floor, aghast, stupefied, unable to breathe. Almost every single thing Obama has done since he’s been in the national spotlight could have been and should have been a career-ending October Surprise. But the mainstream media, as we all know, has devoted itself to protecting him.

Not a day has gone by since Obama took office when I didn’t learn of some fresh outrage and say Oh. My. God. But we’ve been traumatized so often that over time the scandals have all blurred together and fused into a single red-hot thought: Please let this nightmare end.

Zombie goes on to list numerous incidents, many of which would have ended the careers of less-worshiped Presidents.  The list is quite extensive, but here are a few of my favorites:

  • Operation Fast & Furious ...
  • Militarily intervened in Libya in 2011 without the Congressional approval required by the War Powers Act — technically an impeachable offense. (** - ed.- Zombie is saying this is impeachable.  I'm not so quick to the draw on that. It was certainly scandalous.)
  • Before he entered politics, Obama worked as a lawyer suing banks in landmark cases, forcing them to give home loans to unqualified minority borrowers — a practice now understood as one of the primary initial causes of the eventual housing bubble and market collapse.
  • Proposed in 2008 to intentionally bankrupt the coal industry — and now lies to voters and workers in coal-producing regions about his true intent.
  • During the 2008 campaign, Obama repeatedly promised that if he was elected “No family making less than $250,000 will see any form of tax increase.” This promise was broken over and over again once he was elected.
  • Cash for Clunkers, which doled out taxpayer money to anyone who wanted to replace their old cars, but which mostly only ended up subsidizing the puchase of foreign-made cars by people who could have afforded them on their own anyway; meanwhile, the traded-in cars were all destroyed, creating a shortage and thereby increasing the cost of used cars, hurting the pocketbooks of poor people.
  • Was caught on a “hot mike” promising the President of Russia that he would cave in to their demands for a weaker missile shield — after he was re-elected and no longer had to keep up the pretense that he sought to defend America.
  • Blocked continued construction of the Keystone Pipeline, thereby intentionally reducing energy resources for the US and forcing Canada to sell more of its oil to China.
  • In the GM bailout, he illegally shortchanged investors who according to bankruptcy laws were first in line to be recompensed; instead, he gave their share to the unions.
  • Canceled plans to complete a missile defense shield in Poland, a move which was highly praised by Russia and Iran — the very nations whose missile threats would have been neutralized if the shield had been completed. (** - ed. - Not only did he cancel this project, but he got nothing in exchange from Russia, and he sold out Polish politicians who had previously stuck out their necks to approve the project.)
  • Twisted the arms of defense contractors to not issue layoff notices in early November, so as to avoid causing bad news for Obama right before the election — even though federal law (the “WARN Act”) requires such notices.
  • Sided with Hugo Chavez and the Castro regime regarding the Honduran Constitutional Crisis of 2009, the first time ever that the U.S. formed a political alliance with socialist governments in Latin America.
  • More than once Obama made so-called “recess appointments” when the Senate was not actually in recess, which directly violates Constitutional rules about how appointments must be made; in each case it was his way of getting his political allies into certain key positions without them being vetted or approved by the Senate, as required.
  • Despite the fact that the Falklands Islands have been part of Great Britain since 1833 and that Great Britain is supposed to be our strongest ally, Obama essentially sided with Argentina in its new claim on the Falklands, not only by adopting the Argentine position that their status is open to negotiation, but even by (attempting to) refer to the islands by their Spanish name (Malvinas).

In summation, folks who vote for Obama are out of their bleedin' minds.  When you hear conservatives shake their heads at the fact that the race is even close at all, these are some of the reasons why.

Few of these were reported by the major media, and when they were reported, they were reported lightly and with key facts omitted.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Feds leave bad taste in mouths of the next generation

Michelle Obama might have inadvertently done smaller-government conservatives a favor.

Kids are not happy with the new school lunches.  This is the kind of thing that leaves an impression on somebody.

A student "Pack Your Lunch Day" protester:
"We know the cafeteria ladies, Mr. Crosson and the school board are not making the decisions on healthy food regulations - it's a federal thing," said Patrick Parker, one of the event organizers. "It's a matter of principle that we feel the government has no right to tell us how to eat."