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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cartman warns old lady about hippie infestation

The parallels between this South Park episode and the Occupy Wall Street protests are uncanny.

Speaking of drum circles... how sweet is it that OWS communes are already having to come to terms with reality?
The drummers claim that the finance working group even levied a percussion tax of sorts, taking up to half of the $150-300 a day that the drum circle was receiving in tips. “Now they have over $500,000 from all sorts of places,” said Engelerdt. “We’re like, what’s going on here? They’re like the banks we’re protesting."
Fight the power man...

H/T Icarus Pundit 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Quagmire blows up on Liberal blogger

Edited clip

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Obama's odds of re-election, 14 months out

Incumbents tend to have better odds than challengers, true. But there's a tipping point at which it no longer matters (a la Jimmy Carter). His favorability is right at around 50% and his approval rating is about 10 points behind that. Never mind the fact that, since World War II, no president has been re-elected with a jobless rate higher than 7.2 percent. As it stands, Mitt Romney could beat Obama in a head to head contest, and Rick Perry could tie.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Robin Hood Myth

Per wiki:
Director's Law states that the bulk of public programs are designed primarily to benefit the middle classes but are financed by taxes paid primarily by the upper and lower classes. The empirically derived law was first proposed by economist Aaron Director.

The philosophy of Director's Law is that, based on the size of its population and its aggregate wealth, the middle class will always be the dominant interest group in a modern democracy. As such, it will use its influence to maximize the state benefits it receives and minimize the portion of costs it bears

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dismissing Romney’s Federalism

At a time when Conservative pundits are lauding the shift of Washingtonian focus to a debate on the size and scope of government, those very same pundits are dismissing Federalism with a wave of the hand. Where talking heads are touting "serious solutions to serious problems," they ought to "seriously" reevaluate their dismissal of Federalism, and Romney's application of it.

How is it that Paul Ryan's budget can (rightly) be held in so high a regard by the very same people who condemn Mitt Romney's healthcare efforts in Massachusetts? To the casual, rational observer, it seems quite obvious that the Right has extolled the Ryan plan - which shifts much of healthcare implementation to the states. Yet, those same folks oppose Romney's efforts which were, in and of themselves, a road map for liberal states wishing to institute liberal healthcare without simultaneously creating an unnecessary burden on the rest of the country.

Like it or not, there are liberal states with a plurality of citizens who want a more socialized healthcare system. Does it not make sense to provide them, then, with a means for having the healthcare system they want without entangling the entire nation in their folly? Didn't Romney, therefore, show just how that might be accomplished? Would not any given governor of a liberal state need to take similar steps if the Ryan budget were to become law?

Far more puzzling is the dismissive attitude of self-professed Conservatives toward Federalism.

The notion that the Federal government has usurped too much power and too much debt goes hand in hand with the truism that the Federal government is trying to do too much. And if we can agree that the Federal government is trying to do too much, the question then becomes: who, instead, ought to be doing these things - if they are to be done at all?

Romney's answer is simple: the States.

Therefore, his stance against a liberal national healthcare policy is entirely reconcilable with his stance in support of a liberal healthcare policy in the liberal state of Massachusetts. What is Federalism if not a system that puts government decisions closer to the people so as to serve those people best?

And while there are certainly flaws in Romneycare, Massachusetts voters have yet to elect representatives who might revoke it. Under the tenants of Federalism, citizens can simply move to another state if they don't like the way the Massachusetts government operates. That's far less true when we're talking about national policy, like Obamacare - which is what makes socialist policy at a Federal level far more punitive of the poor, who have much less mobility.

How, then, was it not in keeping with Federalist sentiment to pass the healthcare legislation in Massachusetts, using Massachusetts tax dollars, when the people of Massachusetts wanted (and apparently still want) it?

I for one love that at least one potential GOP candidate has managed to put two and two together and get Federalism. I love it even more that Romney knows enough to couch his narrative with Durant-esk references to the "laboratory of democracy":
"Our approach was a state plan intended to address problems that were in many ways unique to Massachusetts. What we did was what the Constitution intended for states to do—we were one of the laboratories of democracy. Our experiment wasn’t perfect—some things worked, some didn’t, and some things I’d change. One thing I would never do is to usurp the constitutional power of states with a one-size-fits-all federal takeover."
To which Conservatives are, apparently, replying: "Which parts does he like?" This question is disingenuously posed. Romney has already answered that question, and he's been answering that question in the same way for years.

If conservatives cast aside Federalism, I'm not quite sure what ideological leg we'll have to stand on come 2012. "Individual liberty" only rings true if you're willing to shift power away from the Federal government and toward the individual. That's what Romney did as governor, and that's what he has proposed to do as president - to take concerns like healthcare and shift the burden of solving those concerns toward the individual, so that solutions are localized relative to the unique circumstances rather than generalized and socialized into the type of bureaucratic nightmare we've seen created by Obamacare.

As Bruce Walker of the American Thinker recently put it:
The disintegration of states is the gravest problem we face. The omnipresent federal government means that Americans can no longer run from tyranny by leaving one state and moving to another. The transfer of power from state government to some nebulous "people" means that we have democracy, a very unhappy form of government.
It seems as though, on the 150th anniversary of a Civil War in which  hundreds of thousands of Americans gave their lives, we would do well to remember the fundamental government structure those Americans died defending.

So, to folks looking for an apology for "Romneycare," I suspect Mitt might just refer you to his 2010 New York Times Best Seller.  Or to quote him directly:
“States have rights that the federal government doesn’t have... The last thing you want to see is the federal government usurping the power of states...  I’m not going to apologize for the rights of states to craft plans on a bipartisan basis that they think will help their people."
The Romney camp has tested several narratives to justify his healthcare efforts as governor. But, really, he need only stick with the explanation he first offered when he signed the legislation: federalism. And therein lies Romney's path to the White House.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Time for the political discourse on abortion to evolve

With the GOP looking to reverse Obama's recent efforts to provide federal funding to abortion services, the pro-choice crowd is up in arms.

It goes without saying that pro "choice" advocates are working under the assumption that a woman's "reproductive rights" supersede a child's right to life.

Science has taught us a whole lot since Roe vs. Wade about when a fetus develops and how. It's time to cast away old euphemisms and outdated understandings to have a serious congressional debate as to what needs to be done about the abortion epidemic plaguing our country - our disenfranchised poor and minorities in particular.

The Left contends that the Right wants to "force women to have the baby of a rapist," turning her body into a "reproductive machine." Disregarding the misrepresentation of Conservative motivation here, let's consider this argument on its face for a moment.

If a woman is raped and impregnated, does she really need four months to figure out whether or not she wants to have the rapist's child? It's a legitimate question worth consideration.

Regardless, as soon as the fetus becomes a scientifically definable human being, the government is obligated to protect its right to life.

Saying a woman has the right to terminate the life inside of her because its her body that's doing the nurturing is like saying the 50% of the country who pay federal income tax have a right to terminate the other 50% who don't. Just because someone is dependent on you doesn't mean they forfeit their right to life - or that the government isn't obligated to protect them anymore.

And who's to say when a woman was raped and when she wasn't? I suppose that a baby's life is forfeit just because a mother - who suddenly decides she doesn't want to have a baby any more - knows enough about the law to tell the doctor she was "raped?" I support legislators' efforts to tighten the law in this regard.

Once past (and some would contend during) the first trimester simply saying, "I was raped, now terminate this pregnancy," is not - in and of itself - a sufficient condition for ending a human's life. I'm sorry, but it's not.

The time for pretending that only women who are raped, or at medical risk, commit abortions has come to an end. 50 million abortions (or 1/6 the current U.S. population) have been performed in the U.S. since the Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion - 10% of those (or 5 million) transpired after the first trimester (past when it has been scientifically proven that the baby feels pain). About one out of every three American women (35%) will have an abortion by the age of 45. In 2008 alone, there were 1.2 million "legally terminated pregnancies." That's 1.2 million American human lives snuffed out in a single year - or about three times the total number of casualties suffered by the U.S. in WWII. Where's their memorial?

The political Left insists that the government must provide a "safety net" for people's health care, education, food, unemployment, etc. But here we have an issue where millions of human lives are being prematurely terminated and the Left opposes government intervention? I'd laugh if it weren't so tragic.

A lot of pro-life ire is directed at a specific portion of the country (in 14 states, I believe), where later term abortions - a fetus from which has been proven to be sustainable outside of the mother's body - are legal. This is a process by which the fetus is sucked up with a vacuum, its skull is crushed and/or it's partially removed from the womb to have its spinal cord severed - all with nary a check or balance on the mother or doctor's claims that she was raped or is at medical risk. There is no intellectually honest argument which can justify this.

Sadly, its the poor - minorities in particular - who suffer most from the government's inaction on abortion. Abortion kills more Black Americans than the seven leading causes of death combined - and that figure isn't all-inclusive because not every state records abortions relative to ethnicity. My home state - Georgia - has the highest number of abortions among African-Americans.

It's just painful to watch the Left insist that the federal government "must" be involved in so many things that really aren't within its constitutional reach and/or authority. Yet, here, we have a clear-cut case of protecting American life, yet the Left says "hands off." We have the sixth highest abortion per capita ratio in the world.  When is it time to be "hands on?"

The 70s were a long time ago. It's time for the political discourse on this subject to evolve.

The GOP's goal is in no way to put the mother's life at risk, or to force her to have a rapist's child. The first priority is to stop federal subsidization of an act with which most Americans disagree. Beyond that, conservatives simply seek to make sure the government fulfills its responsibility to protect the life of the child. And if that means that a woman and her doctor have to fill out some uncomfortable forms to ensure no one's falsely crying "rape" or "health risk," I think that's worth a few million lives.

David Sidorsky, Columbia University Philosophy Professor, Discusses American Conservatism

This stimulating interview with David Sidorsky, a professor at Columbia University, was tipped to me by an online associate. It's a cerebral dissection and philosophical analysis of American Conservatism, and definitely worth a listen!

David Sidorsky has taught philosophy at Columbia University since 1959, and received his PhD in Philosophy at Columbia in 1962. His primary teaching and research interests are in moral philosophy and political philosophy, with secondary interests in philosophy of literature and the history of 20th century philosophy, including the history of American philosophy.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Grading the 2011 State of the Union

Obama: C+

Putting aside 1) the plethora of double speak 2) the fact that he's made many of these same promises before yet never even tried to deliver and 3) he obviously had to move to the center to stop the bleeding at the polls - I think this was Obama's best SOTU yet.

Last year's State of the Union address was totally inappropriate. The SOTU is the President's opportunity to step above partisan bickering and unify the nation - to the point of trying to bring his political opposition around to his way of thinking. Instead of doing that, Obama simply used the 2010 SOTU as yet another public platform to attack Republicans. It was beneath the office, and I don't think I've ever seen a president stoop to that level.

Last year's elections have forced Obama to take a different tone in 2011. He knows that if he doesn't move to the center with his rhetoric, he and his party will take another beating in the 2012 election. So, he's paying lip service to the sentiments that were made apparent last fall.

But let's view the speech on its face for a moment and ignore the political context.

The first half of the speech about "investments" really didn't tout anything new.  These are the same spending initiatives he's been promoting since he announced his candidacy. But make no mistake, what he’s now calling “investments” are really just the same old pet projects of the Left. Spend, spend, spend! A rose by any other name still has thorns, Mr. President.

The second half of the speech - while I liked many of the proposals (freezing spending, no earmarks, consolidating federal bureaus, etc.) was completely irreconcilable with the first half.  When even the Associated Press feels inclined to fact check his math, you know he’s gone beyond the pale.

However, while freezing spending is certainly not the same as cutting spending, it's a move in the right direction.  Of course, he’s really proposing nothing more than shutting the stable doors after the horses have bolted.  The man runs up a larger deficit than all the presidents before him combined and NOW he seems to think that freezing spending at these astronomical levels is somehow sustainable?

I did find amusement in the fact that he proudly touted his new-found stances of freezing spending and vetoing earmarks.  John McCain circa 2008 would be so proud… the irony is delicious.

In any event, Obama must be planning some serious budgetary shenanigans (akin to the ones they used to get the CBO to score their debt inducing Obamacare bill as "deficit neutral") to pursue all the "investment" projects he mentioned in the first half of the speech, but meet the budgetary goals he outlined in the second half. He might as well call his 2011 budget proposal "Error 404" because this mess does not compute.

I did like that he took a strong line about defeating the Taliban, but it's a shame that his first mention of the troops came 3/4 of the way into his hour-long speech, and even then he used it as a segway to talk about DADT - which, by the time activist courts get done with it, might end up costing the military billions upon billions of dollars in added same-sex partner benefits.

Back to the Taliban.  It was a thrill when he said "we will defeat" the enemy - because that's about as close to mentioning the word "victory" as he's allowed himself to get. Baby steps, I suppose... But his tone was irreconcilable with his wrong-headed withdraw strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan. We've already seen the violence in Iraq steadily increase, and the government there is really far too fragile to resist it.

Remember though, this was a guy who appealed to the right-of-center crowd throughout his campaign. One of his primary promises (later reaffirmed during his presidency) was that he was going to cut the deficit in half! Of course, he didn't mention that he was going to quadruple it first!


I did like that he issued a more unifying tone (albeit because he had to). And I do like that he at least paid lip service to reducing spending (also because he had to). All in all, though, I think this may be as good a speech as we can "hope" to hear from Obama.

Paul Ryan: B

Ryan's address disappointed me. I love Paul Ryan and his road map, and I was really expecting him to lay the quantitative wood to Obama. If I were advising Ryan, I would have had him beat Americans over the head with numbers and stray away from general, sweeping appeals to pathos. The man's a policy wonk, not a prolific speaker!

All the same, he hit the right messages for the party. He strayed away from traditional GOP pitfalls (i.e.: alienating social statements), but his tone did seem decidedly more negative than Obama's. Of course, it needed to be (just as Obama's needed to be more positive) because of the current political reality.

All in all, Ryan did just fine. His remakrs will be soon fade from memory, but they were fine.

I liked last year's GOP response much better, and I thought it (by taking place in Virginia with a crowd) was absolutely the right way to add real energy and life to a rebuttal. Plus, last year's GOP response was dripping with Federalism - which I think will be the bread and butter of the Republican Party's road to the White House in 2012.

This year's response just sort of stood as a stark reminder that there's going to be some heavy, long-lasting political fights ahead. Sort of depressing really - and not in a way that motivated me to care more for the Republican Party or less for the Democrats.

Michele Bachmann: A-

I stood shoulder to shoulder with establishment Republicans who were worried about this address.  Not because she would siphon votes away from Republicans to the Tea Party... just that she would siphon votes away from the Republican party - likely by saying something asinine (a la Carrie Prejean) that would, then, take the Right's intellectual elite days to squelch. Her remarks really had the potential to muddle the GOP's message if she made a fool of herself.  Fortunately, she did not.

That being said, I have no problem with various caucuses issuing their own, more niched statements. I simply think the media made a bigger deal out of this than it was because they were hoping she'd say something ridiculous that could, in turn, be misattributed to the Tea Party at large.  She did not.

Her's was a solid response, full of the type of quantitative smack downs I expected from Ryan. So, in retrospect, it happened to work out that the media hyped up her response... this time.

Obama White House releases official theme song for 2011 SOTU

I posted this video well over a year ago, but it's just too darn fitting not to post in this context...

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