Saturday, May 30, 2009

Brief Comments on Sotomayor

It's all the rage for the moment in the news media to be reporting on everyone's comments about Obama's Supreme Court nominee. Obviously the members of the Supreme Court have a large impact on the lives of everyone in the US, as they literally decide how free the country is going to be, what rights people will be allowed to have (of those enumerated in the Constitution, and/or other ones they make up), when and how the government's abuses of power will be checked, etc. This, along with the lifetime appointment term, always makes the selection of new justices a political hot-button issue, and the nomination choices thus very important political moves.

Now, I think the appointment of Sotomayor is more or less a foregone conclusion; Obama has made a good pick. Not good in the judicial sense (although not that bad either), but astute in the sense that Republicans would lose support of minority voters by opposing her too strenuously. The pick also takes advantage of the popular simple-minded perception that anyone who disagrees with the politics of a minority politician is doing so because of bias against the person or partisan politics, not because of legitimate issues; a perception Obama himself has used notably to his advantage.

However, I do have to make one comment, which will no doubt land me in the above category in the minds of simpletons, but needs to be said anyway because of the obviously irony, and bearing on Sotomayor as a future Supreme Court Justice. To wit:

Racit: someone who thinks someone is more or less qualified for something which has nothing to do with their race, purely based on their race
Sexist: same as above, but for gender
Sotomayor: [condensed for ease of making a point] "A female Latina judge would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male..."

Oh, and one more comment (I did say comments, right?). Sotomayor ruled in her current appeals court that, unlike most of the other rights enumerated in the Bill of Right, the right conveyed by the 2nd amendment does not count as a fundamental right, and is not important enough to be included under the 14th amendment's extension of all rights to all citizens of the US (ie: the states can take that right away from you). It would be interesting to hear her justification on who made the call that the 2nd amendment right is less fundamental than, say, the 19th amendment; and if states can take away the 2nd amendment right, how about the 19th too, or maybe the 13th? Scary stuff, regardless of what you think about people having guns.

Friday, May 29, 2009

For Krugman, Politics > Integrity

Paul Krugman is not a dumb guy; he knows his stuff, and has a wealth is historical knowledge to draw upon when forming opinions. Unfortunately, he's also a supporter of the Democrats, and apparently is more than willing to let his political views compromise his logical integrity. I seem to recall an interesting story about some famous historical figure, who was generally fairly kind to everyone, becoming uncharacteristically angry at individuals who would teach children to do evil; in his mind, the worst "sin" one could commit would be to intentionally lead someone who was innocent, and didn't know any better, astray. Well, today Krugman joins the ranks of people who have committed this transgression, in effect, by using his position and credentials to extol a position motivated by politics rather than logic.

The opinion piece is here. In it, Krugman argues that the country need not worry about inflation, as it is a phantom concern, and that it's more important for the country to continue spending money to "help the economy" than worry about inflation. Now, I'm sure someone smarter than I could dissect each point more succinctly and thoroughly than I, but here are a few things which are obviously wrong with his argument, even to a casual economics observer such as myself:

- The preposition that the government's spending is "helping" the economy is obviously wrong; it's almost entirely motivated by political agenda and rewarding political allies, at the expense of the country's economic health. In fact, in some cases (eg: propping up the housing market), the government's spending is elongating and contributing to the recession.
- The supposition that prices are not rising is also wrong; prices for real-time produced/consumed items (the most accurate measure of real inflation) have been rising, in some cases by well over 10% annually. I'm not sure what measure Krugman is using to justify his assumption (it wasn't listed), if any, but it's clearly misleading at best.
- Then he claims the Fed isn't printing money, because it's buying debt and bonds, and balancing that expenditure by crediting banks with more assets. News flash: that is printing money, on both sides of the book, by driving up asset prices while creating more cash reserves for the banks. Even if the banks don't lend it out, it is used to hide or erase bad debts, which allows the money already distributed through the system to remain there, which is inflationary. It would be like giving someone a loan, then writing it off, then claiming they don't have more net money, because you didn't give them any more while writing off the loan: it's ridiculous, and Krugman is not a complete moron, so he knows it's ridiculous.
- The he compares the US to Japan, which didn't print money, but rather extended unlimited borrowing, which nobody wanted. This is similar to what the US was doing before the Fed started printing money, and not considering the Treasury's actions and the massive deficit spending by the government, which the Japanese government did not do. Again, a distortion of the facts to support a political position, and mislead the people who don't know any better.

I could go on, but the point should be fairly obvious by now. After consideration, I'm inclined to agree with the historical figure: the worst evil someone can do is lead others astray for their own ends. For this, I think it's fair to call Krugman an enemy of the country, or at least the country I would like to live in.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How to handle North Korea

If you didn't pay any attention to what actually goes on in the UN, and only read its charter, goals, public purpose statements, and rhetoric, you might be a little confused right now.

For example, nominally, the UN Security Council exists to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons by imposing strict, severe, debilitating, and multi-nationally coordinated penalties on those countries seeking to acquire said weapons. However, in the last couple of decades, several countries have openly or psuedo-openly (eg: obvious lies, like Iran's stated purpose of their program before they just gave up on spewing the BS and said they were building nukes) developed or procured nuclear weapons, with the UN doing absolutely nothing (no points for "objecting in the strongest possible terms", you self-aggrandizing douche-holes). So not doing anything there.

Same for genocide... the UN charter says countries will take action if there's a genocide going on. So the clever politicians have figured out how to say genocide without using the word "genocide", which apparently magically makes it all acceptable. If only that worked for other things just as well... Obama could just call the $1,200,000,000,000 budget deficit he's creating by spending $1,200,000,000,000 more than the country is taking in (this year alone) (and before accounting for lower tax revenues) (and before all the various Fed bailout programs are added in) (and before the Treasury bailout write-offs) (and before the auto industry union political payoffs) (and before extra spending not included in the budget) a "surplus", and then we'd have plenty of money instead of this massive, debilitating, and likely ultimately nationally fatal debt load Obama and the Democrats are currently creating. That would be much better, but unfortunately apparently it only works in magical UN land.

Anyway, on to North Korea, and hopefully how to kill two genocidal a-holes with one plan. See, Israel is itching to attack Iran, before they finish developing their nuclear weapon and using it to annihilate Israel, as they have vowed to do, and there's no credible reason to believe they will not once they have nukes. The US needs to re-establish that it's really not ok to be a genocidal maniac threatening everyone with nukes, regardless of if you happen to share a border with China.

I propose the US allow Israel to bomb the crap out of Iran, with intelligence and logistical support from the US. Then, within 48 hours or so, the US can green-glass every suspected nuclear development, testing, or deployment site in North Korea, and all the known presidential residences and secure military facilities at the same time. The Iran attack would likely cause NK to go to high readiness, which would mean that their military would likely be gathered at their facilities, their weapons out and ready for use (as opposed to hidden away), and their leader(s) at secure military facilities. The major countries will be focused on the middle east, looking for responses and condemning Israel, and watching for more fireworks there. With a coordinated overwhelming strike and some luck, we could wipe the entire North Korean leadership and military force off the face of the planet in a few hours, while crippling Iran and their terrorist supporting regime. It would be a solid win for the middle east, the US, and the world in general.

Oh, and afterward, we can object to our own actions in the strongest possible terms at the UN, just for good measure.

Friday, May 22, 2009

California Lottery commercials

I've noticed a resurgence of commercials on the radio promoting the California Lottery, and they have succeeded in inciting me to write a blog post about them. You see, even in today's age a monumental government corruption, socialists running the country (note: those first two may well be related), massive government budget deficits with no fiscal responsibility whatsoever, scandals, bailouts, payoffs, fraudulent bankruptcies, and all the other horrible self-imposed disasters our country is suffering through, the California Lottery still finds a way to stand out to me.

First, for any uninformed readers, lets catch up on how the California Lottery works. First, and this is an optional step as far as I can tell, suckers buy tickets. Usually these people are poor, sometimes on welfare, and usually receiving some sort of state subsidization (eg: paying less taxes through a "progressive" scale). According to the 2008 survey, about 54% of the people who played the lottery had a household income over $20,000... which means about 50% didn't. BTW, the lottery site has all the gory details about the financial information.

Next, we subtract out the operating expenses, which amount to roughly 12% of the total gross income (which is roughly $3 billion annually). The prizes account for another 53% ish, and the school administrators and bureaucracy absorb about 35% (as required by the law which established the lottery). By most accounts, the lottery itself is financially solvent, contributing money to education, and not a drain on the state... so why am I disgusted when I hear the commercials?

To understand that, you have to take a closer look at the overall picture. Consider that, for a family of four in California, the poverty level (ie: eligible for food stamps, welfare, etc.) is around $27,000 annual income. That means if you make less than that, you are directly being supported by the state: that is, my money is going directly to you. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing; there's some value in supporting people's basic needs, and I don't really resent a portion of the taxes I pay being used for that purpose. As long as my money is not going to gambling, or booze, or drugs, or other similar things, providing basic support is probably worthwhile.

Now enter the lottery. If the distribution of people gambling in the lottery is roughly proportional to the money spent (it's probably weighted toward people with less income, but we'll be conservative), then over 50% of the gross revenue is collected from people my tax money is already directly subsidizing. That means California is taking my money, and giving it to people to spend on gambling. Moreover, if that's not bad enough, a large portion of the money collected after winnings are paid out are going just to administration of the lottery itself (roughly 25% of net income after payouts). So not only is my money supporting gambling additions and get-rich-quick schemes, it's also being wasted to support a bloated bureaucracy.

But wait, that's not all. Apparently, we can waste even more money in this vicious cycle if we promote the lottery, and try to get more gullible people to gamble while the economy is bad. So not only are we spending money on commercials and promotions, we're trying to suck even more money away from Californians during the recession, so they will be in even more need of government subsidies, support, bailouts, and welfare! And for what? So we can take more taxpayer money, and effectively divide it between the lottery administration getting 25% (which costs roughly $400 million annually), and the education system getting 75% (which is already bloated and corrupt beyond redemption), which is already the recipient of an enormous amount of money annually, which has helped them reach almost absolute bottom in effectiveness.

The California Lottery is a grotesque bloated scam created to enrich the education unions and administration at the expense of the taxpayer, in one of the most insidious and successful socialist abortions California's malignant government has ever produced. Every commercial is a reinforcement of our abject failure, as a society, to weed out the influence of special interest corruption and waste, wrapped up in a jingle. It's nauseating and sad.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lies in California: politics as usual

In probably my last post about California's asinine special election, in which we decide if we wish to assist the California legislature in pissing away what's left of our prosperity, I'd like to focus on one particular appalling lie which is undoubtedly causing some people, as I write this, to unknowingly contribute to California's woes. The focus of the campaign to promote the headline spending propositions seems to be that they will help educate the children, and indeed according to exit interviews, some brain-dead voters have already voted in favor of them on the basis of supporting the education of their children. In reality, that's probably the largest lie spread about these propositions.

To see why, you have to understand how California's budget process works. Without getting into specifics, the more money the government takes, the more it spends, in roughly direct proportion with a multiple. That is, the government always spends more than it steals, regardless of how high the tax rates are. So the higher the taxes are, the more waste there is, and the more waste there will continue to be in the future. Raising taxes doesn't reduce deficits, at least in California, ever; if anyone claims differently, they are lying (and likely knowingly).

Next, the claim that allocating more money to the education bureaucracy helps children get a better education is blatantly false. California already has one of the largest education budgets and near the worst education system in the country. Giving the managers and the unions more money won't help students get supplies, or reduce class sizes, or affect any meaningful changes as the system desperately needs, it'll just enrich and reward the participants for the job they have done so far. The reality is that the public education system in California is horrible, and we really need to start over, not funnel even more money to the failed pile of crap we have.

I would go as far as to say that in an ideal world, we would be able to use this election as a litmus test for minimum voter competence. That is, if you voted for the propositions because you thought you were helping the children, you should not be allowed to vote ever again, because you're too stupid to figure out the implications of the things you're voting on. It's not that we think you're a bad person, or don't want to interact with you, or think you should be ostracized; but you're a danger to yourself and society if you can be deluded into voting for something which will have the exact opposite effect from how you justified supporting it, and for the good of everyone (including you), you should no longer be allowed to vote. A few elections with that criteria, and maybe we could get real productive change, instead of just more asinine tax hikes and out-of-control spending.

That's my opinion.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A strange thought about governments and people in America

I had a strange thought recently, about how the various governments work and their relationships with the people they govern. It occurred to me that at some point, in the history of the country, the intent of a government (local, state, federal, etc.) was to serve the needs of the people, and to act in their best interests. It would stand to reason that the first governments at various levels probably did act in the interests of the people who elected them, and they were probably even respected at some point as people serving the community.

It seems like a foreign concept to me, having grown up in a society where every level of government is so thoroughly corrupt, elitist, self-serving, and malignant that it's common knowledge that even if the people in power happen to be doing what you want, it's only because someone paid them enough money to do so, and/or because it's in their own interests. It seems strange to think that at some point in history, the biggest threat to the principles of the country wasn't the government, and people may have thought the government actually was there to help, instead of the well-understood dark joke that has uniformly become. It's a strange realization that the world you know may not have always been the world that was, and makes me wonder how our society failed so badly, and if America is indeed beyond redemption as it appears to be, would there be any way to try to ensure that the next one fares better... food for thought.

Friday, May 15, 2009

California's asinine ballot propositions

Note: This probably doesn't mean much to you if you're not living in California, but I am (for the time being), so I'm going to rant about it. Also, this blog post may contain obscene references, and not just the pointers to the obscene ballot initiatives; I think the California legislature should take most of the blame, though, because without their continued gross incompetence, corruption, and enormous malfeasance, we wouldn't be voting on this steaming pile of crap next week.

The understand why these proposals are so insulting, you really have to look at California's politics over the last decade (and longer). Without getting into the details, basically California spends money on unions, welfare, and crap, and lots of it, so much so that even with an income which eclipses many countries, California has been running a deficit for a long time, which is now around $40 billion (and $20 billion annually), as far as I can tell. And it that's not enough, we already also have some of the highest tax rates in the entire country. Yes, California truly is the laughing stock of fiscal responsibility in the US, second only to the Obama administration in magnitude of waste and gross fiscal incompetence.

Now, apparently, after many years of papering over growing problems, being bailed out by increased revenue from various bubble, and all the while ever increasing the wasteful spending, California has approached the point where they need to close the budget gap (a little... closing roughly 25% of the annual gap is apparently enough to meet the state Constitutional requirement of a "balanced" budget, no doubt through more accounting gymnastics). Our brainless legislators have come up with a set of proposals the boldly reduce the budget deficit, making the necessary sacrifices to save money along-side the many state residents who are struggling to make ends meet...

No, wait, they didn't do that at all... THEY F-ING RAISED TAXES! W... T... F...?!? After years and years of papering over the problem, we're finally at the point where the legislature would be forced, finally, to adopt a minuscule smidgen of fiscal responsibility, and they have the unmitigated gall to instead demand even more money for their gross incompetence and corruption! It's ridiculous, it's insulting, and it's sadly indicative of just how fundamentally corrupt and disconnected California's government is.

On a slightly less aggravating note, it looks like all the proposals except one will be defeated; the one exception being the one proposal added by the people and not by the incompetent retards in government, which limits government compensation increases when there's a budget deficit (a woefully inadequate punishment for continued obscene stupidity, but a good start). I'm sure the government will just figure out a new and more creative way to paper over the deficits without voter approval in an unconstitutional manner like they have for the last ten years, but it's nice to see the voters solidly rejecting the latest attempts to be insulted by our leaders. Maybe eventually that rejection of malfeasance will percolate up to the elections of the people largely responsible for the actual disaster that is California's finances, although I'm probably not going to bet my financial livelihood on it much longer.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Good read

This article from the WSJ does a good job summarizing the historical significance of the conceptual shredding of the Constitution the Obama administration is engaging in to pursue their own agenda, specifically with respect to Chrysler (although GM is not far behind, and there have already been several other examples of ignoring the Constitution so far, even early into the Obamanation period, with undoubtedly many more to come). To paraphrase the adage: even though you might agree with the ends, you should be outraged about it; for even if you don't believe in upholding the Constitution and the principles of America, something you do value could be the next thing the Obamanation tramples and shreds.

On a related note, didn't Obama have to swear to uphold and defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic? I suppose it's kinda an empty promise when you're the one holding the metaphorical lighter to it. Still, it would make good evidence at an impeachment proceeding (if we ever got people in office who cared about the country over their own agendas), or as a comedic interstitial in a video documenting all the ways the Obamanation has undermined the principles of the country... just a thought.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Interesting Movements

There are several anti-government (well, more anti big, bloated, socialist government) movements recently: the Tea Parties, people starting to wake up to how truly horrible and frightening Obama and the current Congress are, etc. I ran across another on this blog, talking about states passing bills to remind the federal government that despite their efforts and propaganda to the contrary, the Constitution limits the powers the federal government has compared to the individual states (not that the states are any better at governing in many cases, eg: California, but it's a start).

Anyway, this sorta dove-tails into a thought I've been having for a while. When the original American revolution happened, the rally cry was "no taxation without representation." At the time, this was in reference to the practice of taxing the goods in the American colonies, but not providing the colonies with any representation in the government imposing the taxes. It was a clear case of an "out-of-control" government (in that the colonist had no control over it) abusing people it governed, taxing them for wasteful spending and obvious wealth redistribution, and governing in the interests of a few well-connected people as opposed to the people in general.

Now it occurs to me that we basically have the same situation now, in large part. Yes, the people nominally have representation, but mechanisms like the electoral college make that nonexistent in practice (eg: since I live in California, my vote was cast for Obama, as repugnant as I personally find that). Moreover, if you look at demographics, the people paying the taxes vote predominantly Republican, sometimes in contrary to the general population (and presumably because the Republicans generally have less wealth redistribution in their policies). In essence, for many people in the country, we have no representation, the out-of-control government is abusing the majority of the country (at least financially speaking), and it is governing in the interests of a corrupt, well-connected few at the expense of the people in general.

Now I have no illusions about the ability of the common American to affect the actual corrupt political process through protest or rally; it would take a revolt to get real change, and the country is not yet in a dire enough situation for people to rise up against their oppressors. However, I would personally be somewhat happier with a simple compromise: no taxation without representation. I don't feel I should have to pay taxes to a corrupt government which I did not have any say in electing and which doesn't represent my interests, and I feel everyone else should have the same privilege. I know it's not particularly realistic (or effective, since the government would just print more money to compensate anyway), but it would go a long way toward making those of us who work for a living feel a lot less repressed by the new socialist regime.

Either that, or get rid a taxes all-together: it's not like the deficit would be that much bigger, and since the Obamanation is flushing the country anyway, we might as well have a party while we're circling the drain. No taxation without representation!

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Ongoing Sick Joke that is Obama

The WSJ has an interesting editorial breakdown of the "savings" cuts announced by the Obama administration: here. They point out, among other things, that since the money is already spent in the $3,500,000,000,000 budget, of which $1,200,000,000,000 of new debt created by more spending than even the optimistic projections of income, the "savings" aren't really savings at all, the money just gets re-allocated from favorite targets of liberals (75% of the cuts by dollar amount are from defense programs) to the favorite pet projects of liberals (more corrupt handouts to political insiders). Ha ha, joke's on you...

But wait, if that's not funny to you, we've got another one. The WSJ article also points out the $230 million in savings comes from spending an extra $890 million. See, you waste another $890 million, and that works out to $290 million in savings... ha ha, right? Joke's on you again...

Still not laughing? Well, how about some perspective: the $16.7 billion in not-really-savings is about the same amount of money Obama wasted keeping Chrysler alive before it went bankrupt, about 50% of the amount he's wasted on keeping the sweet union salaries and benefits going at the failed about-to-go-bankrupt mismanaged disaster that is GM (so far), about 10% of the money wasted on bailing out AIG so far, roughly 3% of the money handed out in the latest "stimulus" pork handout debacle, approximately half the amount that Fannie Mae lost under government direction last quarter alone, roughly 3% of the "downpayment" Obama wasted on the bloated bureaucratic nightmare that socialized medicine would be, or about 0.2% of the amount the Fed has committed in taxpayer obligations to "bail out" the failed gambling debts of the banking industry (under Obama). Slurp it up, brain-damaged retards who are buying any of this monumental BS extruded from the Great Leader of the Obamanation: the fricken joke's on you!

Friday, May 1, 2009

My "liberal" opinion

Ok, I know this is probably going to upset some of my conservative readers, but I have a lot of opinions, and I wouldn't expect anyone (outside of myself) to agree with all of them. In that vein, I have a "liberal" opinion I want to share. It's long and kinda involved, so here's a link to the current "plan" as I would do it:

In short, I think the country should have a form of Public Health Insurance. Now before you think I've gone crazy, I'd invite you to read the document, and see what it is I'm saying. I would also add that I'd rather have nothing than some socialist Obamanation program which takes an otherwise reasonable idea and transforms it into a big-government nightmare. However, that being said, I do think there is some benefit to such a program if done carefully and correctly, and preferably by someone as adamantly opposed to an out-of-control socialist monstrosity as I am.

That's my opinion; comments welcome as always.