The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, February 28, 2014


On a broad philosophical level, where words and abstractions rather than tangible actions and accomplishments are a measure of value, the left is often correct in it perceptions. After all, who is against providing a safety net for those who need one, encouraging diversity, helping the old and the infirm, and emphasizing tolerance? But these noble philosophical goals are not achieved by growing government without bound, by creating a broad dependent class that is subsided by a shrinking taxpayer base, or by demonizing those who disagree with the mechanics of achieving the broad philosophical goals that just about everybody agrees with.

Under the Obama presidency, the left's philosophical goals have taken center stage. If achieving them took only words, Barack Obama would be a great president. But achieving goals requires mechanics (the details that allow the goals to be achieved), and that's where things have fallen apart.

Peggy Noonan writes:
We are suffering in great part from the politicization of everything and the spread of government not in a useful way but a destructive one. Everyone wants to help the poor, the old and the sick; the safety net exists because we want it. But voters and taxpayers feel bullied, burdened and jerked around, which again is not new but feels more intense every day. Common sense and native wit tell them America is losing the most vital part of itself in the continuing shift of power from private to public. Rules, regulations, many of them stupid, from all the agencies—local, state, federal—on the building of a house, or the starting of a business. You can only employ so many before the new insurance rules kick in so don't employ too many, don't take a chance! Which means: Don't grow. It takes the utmost commitment to start a school or improve an existing one because you'll come up against the unions, which own the politicians.

It's all part of the malaise, the sclerosis. So is the eroding end of the idea that religious scruples and beliefs have a high place that must culturally and politically be respected. The political-media complex is bravely coming down on florists with unfashionable views. On twitter Thursday the freedom-fighter who tweets as @FriedrichHayek asked: "Can the government compel a Jewish baker to deliver a wedding cake on a Saturday? If not why not." Why not indeed. Because the truly tolerant give each other a little space? On an optimistic note, the Little Sisters of the Poor haven't been put out of business and patiently await their day in court.

I think a lot of people right now, certainly Republicans and conservatives, feel like a guy in a batting cage taking ball after ball from an automatic pitching machine. He's hitting the ball and keeping up and suddenly the machine starts going berserk. It's firing five balls a second, then 10. At first he tries to hit a few. Then he's just trying to duck, trying not to get hurt.

That's how people feel about the demands and dictates. The balls keep coming at them politically, locally, culturally. Republicans and conservatives comprise at least half the country. That's a lot of people.
Actually, it's even worse. For those who pay attention and derive their information from sources other than the mainstream media (who have become shills for this leftist president), there's a growing feeling that the government is intrusive, dishonest, vindictive, and untrustworthy. Washington has become the fictional House of Cards and the nation's leadership have become clones of the Netflix series antagonist, Frank Underwood.

The NSA scandal indicates that the government no longer views individual privacy as an important matter. The Benghazi scandal (although downplayed in the media) is illustrative of a government that will lie without shame in order to maintain political advantage. And when the lies are uncovered, will lie about the lies. The IRS scandal (although downplayed in the media) is illustrative of a vindictive government that will weaponize its own agencies to intimidate its opposition. Finally, the Obamacare debacle is representative of a government that will lie to get legislation passed and then cannot be trusted to implement it in a competent manner.

The fastballs keep coming and will do so for at least another three years. With every swing (or duck) confidence erodes. It's only a matter of time before an erosion of confidence will morph into despair.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

King Henry

It looks like next week will be eventful in the long chronology of the IRS scandal. Lois Learner (you know, the IRS senior exec who took the fifth when questioned about the targeting of opponents of the president) has been recalled to testify once again before a House committee. It should be interesting.

This week, the House passed a bill (supported by the ACLU, among other progressive groups) that would limit the IRS's ability to target opposition groups. As if on cue, House Democrat after House Democrat railed against the political motivations of the bill (the absolute height of hypocrisy, since nothing in Washington happens with "political motivations"). In a fury, other Democrats labeled the scandal once again as "phony." The president's trained hamsters in the media simply avoided the House bill and the story, participating in an information stonewalling activity that is working quite well. At least for now.

In an excellent discussion of the chronology of events that led to a Watergate-level abuse of power, Bradley A. Smith, presents an historical snippet:
In 1170, King Henry II is said to have cried out, on hearing of the latest actions of the Archbishop of Canterbury, "Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?" Four knights then murdered the archbishop.
Would a modern court of law indict King Henry for the murder of the archbishop? Unlikely. Was he complicit? Absolutely!

The story of King Henry is a metaphor for Barack Obama's complicity in the IRS scandal. No, he probably never wrote an email asking Lois Lerner to specifically target those who opposed him. But Bradley reports the following:
• Jan. 27, 2010: President Obama criticizes Citizens United in his State of the Union address and asks Congress to "correct" the decision.

• Feb. 11, 2010: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) says he will introduce legislation known as the Disclose Act to place new restrictions on some political activity by corporations and force more public disclosure of contributions to 501(c)(4) organizations. Mr. Schumer says the bill is intended to "embarrass companies" out of exercising the rights recognized in Citizens United. "The deterrent effect should not be underestimated," he said.

• Soon after, in March 2010, Mr. Obama publicly criticizes conservative 501(c)(4) organizations engaging in politics. In his Aug. 21 radio address, he warns Americans about "shadowy groups with harmless sounding names" and a "corporate takeover of our democracy."
Most presidents—Democrat or Republican—choose their words very carefully, avoiding any statement that might be misinterpreted by loyal members of their bureaucracy and executed in an illegal or unethical manner.

But not Barack Obama. In reading the entire Bradley piece, it's as if he said: "Will no one rid me of these 501(c)4 groups?" The Knights of the IRS gave it their best shot and the court jesters in the media are trying hard to protect them.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


The Democrats are fond of defining domestic "wars." The "War on Women" or the "War on the Poor" are classic examples. They define the GOP an an "enemy" that ruthlessly attacks the target (e.g., women or the poor) and must be fought by electing Democrats. It works quite well—at least if the 2012 election is an indicator.

I would submit that with the release of Barack Obama's budget for 2015, the Democrats are waging a "War on Arithmetic." The president tells us that we must "end the age of austerity," and he's serious when he makes that ridiculous statement. Austerity? Really? This, from a man whose fiscal restraint will lead to a half a trillion deficit this year (rising to $0.85 trillion in 2019. This from a man who has added over $6 trillion to our national debt. This from a man who refuses to even engage in entitlement reform or tax reform. Hah!

Richard Fernandez discusses the War on Arithmetic and uses Detroit as an example:
... the belief that politics can overturn sums runs strong and was expressed two days ago when Detroit pensioners protested the fact that their pensions could not be paid by a city with no money.
Leaders said a plan of adjustment announced last week that would slash some city pensions by 34% was unacceptable and racist. They submitted to the bankruptcy judge their own “People’s Plan for Restructuring Toward a Sustainable Detroit,” a 10-page document showing how Detroit’s crisis could be resolved without hurting city retirees and residents, they said.

Short answer: Big banks and bondholders should accept losses, said Cecily McClellan, 61, a Detroiter and city health department retiree. Applauding and shouting approval as McClellan spoke were about three dozen people gathered at Historic King Solomon Baptist Church.
While one can sympathize with pension holders who are facing destitution and who may not be directly responsible for their predicament, the question remains: how can politics overrule reality? What happens when the bondholders go bankrupt too? Who’s going the bail the bondholders and the bank? Well the government, right? That’s who’s going to bail them out. You see, Genco Abbandando [a bit character in the movie, The Godfather] wasn’t so dumb after all. He only believed the Godfather could cheat death. Detroit thinks you can cheat Arithmetic.

Detroit has not had a Republican administration nearly within living memory. If the city has been brought to its knees it was by some other force than the ... the GOP. The Republicans were too weak, too inept to throw a wrench into the workings of Motor City. Perhaps the primary cause of their downfall was Detroit itself; having disabled its own internal restraints ... it ran amuck and cannibalized everything until something went snap.
I've stated before that Detroit is a harbinger of things to come for the United States. Obama and his supporters continue their War on Arithmetic, using double speak (profligate spending is now characterized as "austerity") as one weapon and the growing numbers of people who depend on federal entitlements as their shock troops.

There will come a time when the War on Arithmetic will be lost, when lies won't have the firepower to stop numbers, when dollars will run out. And when that happens ... snap.

Useful Idiots

What do Sean Penn, Danny Glover and Oliver Stone all have in common? Sure, they are Hollywood A-listers whose talent has allowed them to exist comfortably in the reviled (by the left) 1 percent. ironically, they're all committed Leftists. And to a man, they had expressed outright support and love for Venezuelan dictator, Hugo Chavez. I suspect that each of these men would be outraged if they were told that their role had been that of a "useful idiot" (Google it!), but that, of course, is what they are.

Sean Penn is representative. In December of 2012, the Huffington Post quoted Penn as saying:
“He’s [Chavez] one of the most important forces we’ve had on this planet, and I’ll wish him nothing but that great strength he has shown over and over again. I do it in love, and I do it in gratitude," responded Penn. “I just want to say, from my very American point of view, of my friend President Chavez: It is only possible to be so inspiring as he is, as a two-way street. And he would say that his inspiration is the people.”

Penn has long supported Chavez, a leader revered by some and reviled by others since first being elected in 1999. In 2010, the 52-year-old actor condemned the U.S. media for tarnishing Chavez's good name.

"Every day, this elected leader is called a dictator here, and we just accept it, and accept it," Penn told Bill Maher for an episode of his HBO show, according to the Guardian. "And this is mainstream media. There should be a bar by which one goes to prison for these kinds of lies." Adding, "We are hypnotised by the media. Who do you know here who's gone through 14 of the most transparent elections on the globe, and has been elected democratically, as Hugo Chávez?"
The interesting question is whether Penn, Glover and Stone, among many in Hollywood, look at the wreckage of Venezuelan economy and the repression of the Venezuelan people and regret their comments. My guess is that they do not. Useful idiots process only the information they want to see and hear. When reality intrudes, they look the other way.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Taking Notes

Stonewalling is an extremely effective strategy, particularly if you're an administration that has the media in its pocket and at the same time, controls enough Senate votes to kill any attempt at getting to the truth. It's currently Day 292 of the IRS scandal. You remember, the one in which the IRS, directed by shadowy figures in Washington, DC, was used to intimidate and harass opponents of Barack Obama during a presidential election year. The scandal began with a senior IRS officer, Lois Lerner, refusing to testify by taking the 5th in front of congress while at the same time arguing that all of this happened as a result of "rogue agents" in Cincinnati. The president first professed "outrage" at the events, but that quickly morphed into his assessment the scandal was "phony." His trained hamsters in the media refused to ask hard questions and generally prefer to say "lah, lah, lah" whenever new information (and there has been much new information) surfaces.

In earlier posts, I suggested that the IRS scandal is at least as serious as Watergate—an abuse of power that led to the resignation of a president. In part, the misuse of the IRS was what drove the Congress to draft articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon, a venal, corrupt politician who viewed anyone who disagreed with him as the enemy. Scott Johnson comments:
The charge that Richard Nixon attempted to misuse the IRS for political purposes made its way into the second of the three articles of impeachment against him. Nixon “endeavoured” to misuse the IRS, in the fancy British spelling of the word used in article 2. Nixon’s efforts to misuse the IRS were futile. They went nowhere. Nixon and his henchmen desired the IRS to “screw” their political opponents, but their efforts were a pathetic failure.

Nixon henchman Jack Caulfield astutely complained that the IRS was a “monstrous bureaucracy…dominated and controlled by Democrats.” As we have come to see, Caulfield was on to something. By contrast with Nixon’s failures to misuse the IRS, the IRS have very effectively “screwed” Obama’s political opponents, and we have yet to learn what the president knew and when he knew it.
The interesting thing is that Nixon "endeavoured" to use the IRS, failed to do so, and was correctly pilloried by the media, by responsible politicians in both parties, and by the public. Barack Obama did more than "endeavour"—he weaponized the IRS in a presidential election year, crippling some of his opponents. Instead of outrage, we get crickets.

Democrats circle the wagons, buying in to Obama's outrageous statement that there isn't "a smidgegen of evidence" that corruption occurred. It was all just "boneheaded" moves in Cincinnati. Maybe that's because the "investigation," has been non-existent. Almost 9 months after the story broke, the Eric Holder's DoJ and the FBI haven't interviewed witnesses, haven't talked with those that were targeted, and have dragged their feet, hoping that it will all just go away. Obama already knows the result—not a smidgen.

Because of media complicity in this broad cover-up, it's very likely that the Obama administration will never be held to account for this serious abuse of power. As a consequence, Barack Obama has established an effective strategy for perpetrating serious government abuse (that is, as long as you're a left-leaning democrat who is a media darling).

When he ran for office the first time, Barack Obama promised a new kind of politics. I guess this is it. Rest assured that politicians in both parties are taking notes.


The House Ways and Means Committee has oversight responsibility for the IRS. Bridget Johnson reports that over the past 9 months, both Democrats and Republicans on the committee have co-signed letters to the IRS requesting a variety of information that would shed light on who ordered the illegal targeting, who coordinated it, and who, if anyone, in the administration should be culpable. In a classic example of stonewalling—an art that has been perfected by the Obama administration—five of the six letters have gone unanswered.
Yesterday,[ House Ways and means Committee Chairman, Dave] Camp sent IRS Commissioner John Koskinen a letter requesting again all documents related to the IRS targeting of conservative groups.

“At a recent Subcommittee on Oversight hearing on January 28, 2014, you promised to work with the Committee to fulfill this months-long request,” the chairman wrote. “However, we have yet to receive any additional Lerner documents. If the IRS does not take immediate steps to provide the Committee with documents responsive to this request, I will consider using compulsory process to compel them.”
It's about time that subpoenas be drafted and presented. In fact, it's way past the time when that should have happened.

Monday, February 24, 2014


South Florida is a very diverse region with millions of immigrants from the Carribbean, South/Central America, the Middle East, and Asia and additional millions of visitors from Europe and Canada. It came as no surprise, therefore, that a few thousand Venezuelan immigrants held a protest in my town this weekend condemning the actions of Venezuela's socialist/communist government against it own citizens. I suspect that many people who drove by the local protest had very little idea what was being protested. Why is that?

The reason is that the main stream media is conflicted. They have quietly reported Venezuelan unrest, but because of their left-leaning bias, have never explored the underlying cause—corrupt socialist policies that have effectively ruined the country.

Megan McCardle comments:
Venezuela's cities are convulsed with riots. A local beauty queen was shot in the head during protests over . . . well, everything: chronic shortages of basic goods, increasing repression of free speech by a government that clearly feels it cannot tolerate any dissent. She is not the only person to have been killed in recent days. The government is cracking down -- hard -- on any and all opposition.
So much for the new socialist utopia that was the dream of Hugo Chavez.

When Chavez took over in Venezuela, he was quietly celebrated by the American Left. Another opportunity, they argued, to stick it to the profiteers, show how ineffective capitalism really was, correct the horror of income inequality, and transfer power to the people. Their naivete was laughably predictable and predictably wrong.

Under Chavez and his communist successor, Nicolas Maduro, the Venezuelan economy has gone from bad to worse, corruption has skyrocketed and the "little people" have suffered. Shortages are rampant as price controls have skewed the marketplace.

It seems that every socialist utopia begins with a demagogue who uses class warfare to suggest "power to the people" and ends with it's own political elites repressing people when they want to exercise that power. It begins with attempts to modify the economy and markets in an effort to control how wealth is formed, jobs are created, and how the private sector performs. When all of that fails, it continues with massive regulation and heavy-handed repression of those who oppose the socialist leaders.

Does any of this sound vaguely familiar?

In Venezuela, the people are pushing back, violence is erupting, and things have become very unstable. The country is in deep trouble and the road back is uncertain. Sad.


Things are devolving rapidly, and now, even the left-leaning media can't avoid reporting. This, shockingly, from the hard-left Guardian (UK):
Hugo Chavez used to call it la revolución bonita (the pretty revolution), but the world looked at Venezuela last week and saw only ugliness. Protesters gunned down in the streets, barricades in flames, chaos. One of the dead was a 22-year-old beauty queen shot in the head.

With the government censoring and cowing TV reports, many of the images came from smartphones, grainy and jerky snippets filled with smoke and shouts. One fact loomed through them all: Chavismo, a hybrid system of democracy and autocracy built on populism, petro-dollars and quasi-socialism, was reaping the consequences of misrule.

Demonstrations in Caracas, Valencia, Mérida and other cities turned lethal, with student-led rallies provoking a fierce backlash from National Guard units and paramilitaries. They roared on motorcycles into "enemy" neighbourhoods, guns blazing. Families piled mattresses against windows to shield against bullets.

Human Rights Watch accused security forces of excessive and unlawful force by beating detainees and shooting at unarmed crowds. Worse may come. Jailings, beatings and killings have galvanised rather than deterred the mostly middle-class protesters. They vowed to continue until la salida, the exit of a government that has held power under Chávez, and now President Nicolás Maduro, for 15 years. "Change depends on every one of us. Don't give up!" Lilian Tintori, the wife of a jailed opposition leader, Leopoldo López, said via Twitter. Banners fluttered from buildings and barricades. "I declare myself in civil disobedience," read one.
The Guardian studiously avoids the underlying ideology the drove Chavez to create la revolución bonita, and makes no comments about how such "pretty socialist revolutions" always seem to end badly, hurting the very people they were supposed to help, but no matter, the reporting is reasonably accurate—a surprise.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


This president can and should be criticized for many things—incompetence, mendaciousness, arrogance, even lack of interest in the management aspects of the office he worked so hard to get. He has been aided and abetted by members of the Democratic party who have defended even his most "boneheaded" scandals (the IRS attacks on his opposition were "phony", and deserve no further investigation). And of course, the roll-out of his signature health care legislation is a case study in failure—at virtually every level and by virtually every measure. Unless, of course, you believe the White House spin machine (just today, the W.H. is "lowering expectations" by telling us that signups will not reach its own 7 million target).

But there's another thing that is very troubling. This president has demonstrated (2012 comes to mind) that divisiveness is a winning strategy. Democrat vs. Republican, rich vs. poor, one ethnic group against another, the public sector vs. the private sector—the list is long. At the foundation of Barack Obama's divisiveness strategy is class warfare—an attempt to pit Americans in one economic class against the evil one percent. It's predicated on a breathtakingly dishonest zero-sum game view of the economy, of wealth in America, and of capitalism. But no matter, it has worked, and the troubling thing is that it's quite likely that future Democratic presidential candidates will adopt it going forward.

Most recently, the president has been pushing the minimum wage as a wedge issue. The Washington Times comments:
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Tuesday released a new report that said such a dramatic increase could cause employers to lay off workers or hire fewer, which would reduce employment by 500,000 jobs — or maybe twice that.

“Today’s CBO report shows that raising the minimum wage could destroy as many as one million jobs, a devastating blow to the very people that need help most,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement. And the estimate comes on top of another report that found Obamacare could reduce the workforce by some 2.5 million workers.

Once again, though, the White House — which cites CBO numbers when they fit the Democratic agenda — took issue with the latest findings. Obama spokesman Jay Carney said “respected economists” say the opposite of the CBO, “that there is not evidence that it has a significant impact on jobs, and that, to the contrary, it’s beneficial to the economy and to efficiency and productivity.”

“And the theory behind the opposition to raising the minimum wage — that it costs jobs — if you tease it out all the way, then there shouldn’t be a minimum wage at all,” he said. Ah, the White House, always ready to “tease it all the way out.” And the media? They couldn’t care less — there was just one question on the minimum-wage increase asked at Tuesday’s briefing.

The president and congressional Democrats are once again looking for a wedge issue to divide and conquer during the 2014 midterm elections. In 2008, it was “The 1 Percent”; in 2014, it’ll be the 2.2 percent of Americans who earn the minimum wage. “We’ve got to build an economy that works for everybody, not just a fortunate few,” the president said last week.
The amusing thing about the White House spin machine is that the spinners aren't very bright. Let me demonstrate. According to Obama's spokesman, Jay Carney, "...if you tease it out all the way, then there shouldn’t be a minimum wage at all.”

Fair enough. But since we're "teasing things out all the way," let's conduct a thought experiment by teasing in the other direction. Why not increase the minimum wage to $25.00 or $$30.00 per hour? That would certainly allow teenagers in their first job at a fast food establishment to live large, wouldn't it? Heck, why not $100.00/hour? If the minimum wage has no impact on jobs (as the administration contends, but the CBO correctly refutes), why not $100.00? Now that's teasing..

Would anyone argue that the "teased" minimum of $100.00 per hour would cause a massive reduction in entry level jobs? Would any rational person argue that as the cost of labor goes up, the profitability of automation (to replace entry level workers) becomes more and more attractive.

A minimum wage of $10.10 is NOT exorbitant, but it's the height of fantasy thinking to believe it will NOT have a negative impact on jobs. When coupled with concomitant increases in employer-paid payroll taxes and resultant pressure on pay rates just above the minimum, it's a recipe for more part-time workers, increased emphasis on automation, and fewer entry level jobs. But it will make the class warriors feel really good about themselves, even as some entry-level workers get axed. Like all things, increases in the minimum wage represent trade-offs, but it's the height of dishonesty to suggest, as the White House does, that there is no economic downside.

One of the things I notice about Obama and his supporters is that they will not consider facts that don't fit their world view. They live in fantasy where actions don't have consequences, where regulation only helps and never impedes, where small business owners are voracious capitalists, rather than the bedrock of a growing economy, where profit is always suspect, and nonsensical attempts at "economic justice" are always beneficial.

But no worries, I'm just teasing.


Charles Krauthammer summarizes nicely:
“We know that Democrats like to redistribute income. And they pretend it is always from the rich to the poor. What the [Congressional Budget Office] has shown absolutely clearly is that when you raise the minimum wage, you redistribute the income from one set of low income people to another set of low income people. There are some who will get a raise and who will be better off. But there are others who are going to lose their job, lose everything…going … from $7 an hour to nothing. Going to lose their opportunity. And the irony is that the winners get a marginal advantage. But for the losers it is devastation. And you don’t really think about this administration as sort of robbing the people it says it really wants to help. And that is why they have to run away from these [CBO] numbers.”
It's perfectly okay to suggest an increase in the minimum wage. An increase might even be necessary. But it is blatantly dishonest to suggest that there will be no trade-offs in the process. And that's what this administration is doing.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Climate Change

Barack Obama, following in the footsteps of another great progressive scientist, Al Gore, made the following anti-scientific statement a few days ago:
“We have to be clear, a changing climate means that weather-related disasters like droughts, wildfires, storms, floods are potentially going to be costlier and they’re going to be harsher."
Of course, this president regularly plays fast and loose with the truth, so I'm certain that he and his trained hamsters in the median never considered that virtually every shred of factual evidence indicates that (1) global warming has abated and no significant warming has occurred for the past 17 years, (2) that the vaunted ice sheets in both the arctic and the antarctic regions are growing and thickening, counter to claims made by eminent progressive scientists like Gore, (3) that the science is far from settled, but that opinions and facts that run counter to the prevailing leftist wisdom are quashed rather than fully explored, (4) that the term "climate change" is clearly a dishonest catch-all that allows global warming proponents to survive and prosper in spite of points 1 - 3, (5) that climate change has become a pseudo-religion in which belief trumps facts and politics trumps common sense.

Oh, by the way, Obama was in California to lament the on-going drought in that region (and to play golf on courses that demand 1 million gallons of water each day). At least in part the lack of water in the region is due to government actions, not "climate change." The EPA and CA have stopped the transfer of water to regions that need it to save an endangered fish. Okaaaay. That makes sense in the through-the-looking-glass world of the left.

But back to "climate change."

Joseph Curl writes:
[In the 1970s] it was so cold across the world, and had been for so long, the mainstream media began writing stories about a Doomsday scenario — “global cooling.” “U.S. Scientist Sees New Ice Age Coming,” said a Washington Post headline in 1971. “The world could be as little as 50 or 60 years away from a disastrous new ice age, a leading atmospheric scientist predicts.” The New York Times went one further, saying: “Climate Changes Called Ominous.” But it wasn’t just theory. “There is a finite probability that a serious worldwide cooling could befall the Earth within the next hundred years.” All that changed in the 1990s, when — gasp! — it got warmer. Winters were milder, summers were hotter. And the mainstream media flip-flopped. Now, “global warming” was a matter of life and death and, worse, Mankind made it happen! They lined up scientists and climatologists to say it over and over: Armageddon!

“U.S. Scientist Sees New Ice Age Coming,” said a Washington Post headline in 1971. “The world could be as little as 50 or 60 years away from a disastrous new ice age, a leading atmospheric scientist predicts.” The New York Times went one further, saying: “Climate Changes Called Ominous.” But it wasn’t just theory. “There is a finite probability that a serious worldwide cooling could befall the Earth within the next hundred years.”

All that changed in the 1990s, when — gasp! — it got warmer. Winters were milder, summers were hotter. And the mainstream media flip-flopped. Now, “global warming” was a matter of life and death and, worse, Mankind made it happen! They lined up scientists and climatologists to say it over and over: Armageddon!
Climate does change—regularly. There is little repeatable scientific evidence to prove that on-going changes in climate have anything to do with the causative factors that climate alarmists preach. In fact, most evidence indicates that sun cycles, along with normal variation in ocean temperatures are dominant causes.

But no worries, this is religion, so ya gotta believe.


Roger Simon comments:
The great thing about “climate change” armageddon talk is that no one can prove you wrong, unless you’re like Al Gore and start to make short run predictions. But no one’s likely to make that mistake again.

No, “climate change” makes, or should make, a perfect distraction. And right now liberalism needs a distraction, preferably one that gets people and nations to cough up money.

Unfortunately (or really fortunately), the money-collecting part won’t be so easy. Even a few liberal audiences, religious fanatics though they may be, are beginning to smell a rat, not that you will hear too many say it out loud. That would be an admission that could start some serious and dangerous unraveling.
I don't think this will unravel in the near term. The horrors of climate change and humankind's nefarious role in it are taught as hard science in every 6th grade "science" class. It's a dominant funding source for climatology research—in fact, if you posit that climate change may not be anything but a natural phenomenon, you simply don't get research dollars from the feds (that's science at it's best, isn't it?). It's a counter-factual, junk science religion, and religion dies hard.

Update II:

On the outrageous ad hominem charge that those who question "climate change" are "deniers," members of "the flat earth society" (that from another eminent progressive scientitist, John Kerry) or otherwise immoral, this from Glen Reynolds:
Regardless, while one should trust science as a method — honestly done, science remains the best way at getting to the truth on a wide range of factual matters — there’s no particular reason why one should trust scientists and especially no particular reason why one should trust the people running scientific institutions, who often aren’t scientists themselves.

In fact, the very core of the scientific method is supposed to be skepticism. We accept arguments not because they come from people in authority but because they can be proven correct — in independent experiments by independent experimenters. If you make a claim that can’t be proven false in an independent experiment, you’re not really making a scientific claim at all.

And saying, “trust us,” while denouncing skeptics as — horror of horrors — “skeptics” doesn’t count as science, either, even if it comes from someone with a doctorate and a lab coat.
And it counts even less if it comes from a venal politician who wouldn't know a predictive computer model form a unpredictable runway model.

Update III

The inimitable conservative commentator, George Will, when asked to respond to Barack Obama's contention (paraphrased by Chris Wallace) that "climate change accounts for everything from drought to floods. George? Do you buy it?" commented:
No. And neither does science. But I'm one of those who are called "deniers." And the imputation is that I deny climate change. It would be impossible to state with greater precision the opposite of my view, which is that, of course the climate is changing. It's always changing. That's what gave us the Medieval Warm Period. That's what gave us subsequent to that for centuries the Little Ice Age. Of course it's changing.

When a politician on a subject implicating science, hard science, economic science, social science says "the debate is over," you may be sure of two things. The debate is raging and he's losing it. So I think frankly as a policy question, Chris, Holman Jenkins, Kim's colleague at the Wall Street Journal put it perfectly. The only questions is, how much money are we going to spend? How much wealth are we going to forego creating in order to have zero or discernible effect on the environment?

Friday, February 14, 2014


Over the past year, I've been involved in a manufacturing start-up—a small company that builds and sells aftermarket products for a specific electric vehicle. Prior to that, I spent about 12 months in design, planning and pre-launch activities (literally, starting in my garage) for the company. It's been a hard work, but rewarding.

Prior to beginning work on the new company, I was in "semi-retirement," writing college textbooks and the occasional novel. Today, in my spare time (hah!) I continue my authoring work (in fact, the 8th edition of one of my textbooks was published in February 1st).

I mention all of this because one of my recreational activities is golf. During semi-retirement I played 2 or 3 times a week and had a 7 - 8 handicap. But as the demands of my new company began to grow, golf had to take a back seat to my management and technical responsibilities. When a planned Wednesday afternoon golf date collided with a business issue, the golf got cancelled—every time. And that's happened many, many times over the past 2 years.

I hate to be petty, but I find it fascinating that Barack Obama plays as much golf as he does. The New York Times reports:
“[President Obama’s Friday] meeting with King Abdullah [of Jordan], at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, Calif., raised questions at the White House on Wednesday, because the two leaders are practically running into each other here and Mr. Obama appears to have no other official business in Southern California. There is, however, a tantalizing bit of unofficial business for a president whose wife and daughters will be away on their own travels, leaving him alone on Presidents’ Day weekend in a secluded oasis where the forecast is calling for mostly sunny skies and a temperature of 89 degrees. After seeing off the king, administration officials said, Mr. Obama plans to stay on for two days at Sunnylands to play a few rounds of golf at the estate’s recently refurbished nine-hole course, which has been played by presidents from Dwight D. Eisenhower to the elder George Bush.”
So ... this coming weekend, Obama is stealing two days to play golf in the sunshine at the taxpayers expense (for Airforce 1, security, lodging, etc). That's okay, I suppose, except that you'd think that with the monumental problems he faces in both the domestic policy (the Obamacare trainwreck, the IRS scandal, massive new federal debt, continuing stalemate in congress, immigration reform, etc., etc.) and foreign policy (so many failures it's cruel to list them all), you'd think he'd maybe cancel golf and focus just a bit more on his core responsibilities.

The president's staunch defenders suggest that he needs to relax because of the immense stress of his job, otherwise he can't operate effectively. I get that, except that Barack Obama seems to be incapable of managing the federal government's activities effectively, golf or no golf.

Executive responsibilities demand focus and time, at least if you want to do things right. And although my little company has a budget that is less than 0.00000003 that of the federal government, I just can't justify playing a lot of golf when I have business issues to address. Today, I play golf less than once a week (on Saturdays, when I can) and my handicap is up to an 11 (yuck!). The wages of being a responsible manager, I suppose.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


There's a fundamental rule that software engineering professionals apply to system architectures—if the functional elements are properly conceived and designed and the information structures are strong, the system can be adapted and extended without serious incident. That doesn't mean the adaptation and/or extensions will be easy, but they will be doable.

If, on the other hand, the fundamental system architecture is weak, if the functional elements are poorly conceived and designed and the information structures are flimsy, and adaptation or extension will be fraught with error and disappointment. The system will invariably fail.

After watching this president repeatedly and unilaterally (unlawfully?) delay/modify/circumvent elements of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), it's apparent that even he recognizes that the fundamental system architecture of the legislation is deeply flawed. Worse, any attempt to adapt or extend it is doomed to failure.

The Obamacare mess is the poster child for those who argue that big government should not get deeply involved in something as important as healthcare for the masses. Sure, the federal government runs Medicare—an entitlement that is rife with fraud, abuse, waste, and mismanagement, not to mention a program that is stressing the national budget and careening toward bankruptcy in the next decade. Instead of learning from the failings of Medicare, it looks like the "designers" of the ACA tried to emulate it—warts and all.

Sure, Obama's supporters argue that it's the GOP's "obstructionist" policies that have magically caused legislation to fail. Unfortunately for them, this is just another example of magical thinking. The ACA was conceived, designed, and implemented solely by the President's own party. They had every chance to do it right, to design a solid architecture without compromise with or intervention by the GOP. With unbeatable majorities in both the House and the Senate, they got exactly what they wanted—exactly. Even worse, they had four years—four years!!—to get it right before the law went into effect on January 1st.

John Podhertz comments:
ObamaCare apologists are at the ready with excuses and explanations: Republican obstructionism slowed things down. The constitutional challenges slowed things down. Resistance from GOP governors slowed things down.

Come now. The administration had untold numbers of federal employees and more than 1,300 days to do what it had to do inside its own shop to prepare. The law didn’t go into effect for 500 days after the Supreme Court refused to put it out of its misery in June 2012.

The simple fact of the matter is, it couldn’t get things to work because ObamaCare is unworkable. It’s a jury-rigged mess that needs about 300 moving gears to mesh perfectly for it to function at all. It’s pretty clear that it never will. (And, yes, I feel sorry for the millions of people the law has already harmed, and the tens of millions more that it’s set to harm.)

The question is whether we’re going to spend decades layering new systems on top of the kludge or whether we’re going to be sensible about this and throw the whole thing out. And start anew.
Obamacare is unworkable because its architecture is deeply flawed. The only rational solution is to tear it down and start anew—this time with bipartisan ideas and a simpler, decentralized and less intrusive law that actually benefits the people who must live under its dictates.


Historian Victor Davis Hansen looks back at recent history:
Does anyone remember that the Affordable Care Act was sold on the premise that it would guarantee retention of existing health plans and doctors, create 4 million new jobs and save families $2,500 a year in premiums, all while extending expanded coverage to more people at a lower cost?

Only in Orwell's world of doublespeak could raising taxes, while the costs of millions of health plans soars, be called "affordable." Is losing your existing plan and doctor a way of retaining them?
It's sad that Obama's trained hamsters in the media don't ask these questions, over and over again, until this administration answers them adequately.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


It seems that almost every month, the current administration actively violates the law in two ways: (1) it unilaterally makes modifications to existing law (without Congressional approval), and (2) it co-opts theoretically independent federal agencies (e.g., the IRS, the U.S Treasury) into actions and rulings that are intended to improve political atmospherics or, even worse, provide distinct partisan political advantage.

The first instance has become so common that it's expected. Barack Obama has again delayed the ACA employer mandate—conveniently until after the 2014 election and by all intents and purposes, until after the 2016 election. There is every reason to believe that these actions are either unconstitutional or so close that no ethical administration would pursue them, but this is a different breed of administration, so ho-hum. It is a tacit admission that the Obamacare law Obama championed and that Democrats crafted in a rabidly partisan manner is deeply flawed, but ho-hum. From the media—general reporting, but no substantive questions and little meaningful commentary.

The second instance is exemplified by the IRS scandal—the weaponization of a federal agency against Obama's opponents. It just won't go away, and I suspect, there will be more revelations as the year goes on. Of course, Obama's trained hamsters in the media are actively disinterested. Obviously, there isn't a "smidgen' of concern on their part.

But the IRS scandal—as corrupt and intrusive as it is—is but one example of the second instance. Today, Michael F. Cannon of published a detailed expose of still another instance in which the Obama administration co-opts federal agencies to circumvent the law. He writes:
Last week, two congressional committees issued a little-noticed report detailing how Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service, and Health and Human Services officials conspired to create a massive new entitlement not authorized anywhere in federal law.
The details are VERY wonky and will therefore preclude serious media attention, but here's a summary:
In early 2011, Treasury and IRS officials realized they had a problem. They unanimously believed Congress had intended to authorize certain taxes and subsidies in all states, whether or not a state opted to establish a health insurance “exchange” under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. At the same time, agency officials recognized: (1) the PPACA plainly does not allow those taxes and subsidies in non-establishing states; (2) the law’s legislative history offers no support for their theory that Congress intended to allow them in non-establishing states; and (3) Congress had not given the agencies authority to treat non-establishing states the same as establishing states.

Nevertheless, agency officials agreed, again with apparent unanimity, to impose those taxes and dispense those subsidies in states with federal Exchanges, the undisputed plain meaning of the PPACA notwithstanding. Treasury, IRS, and HHS officials simply rewrote the law to create a new, unauthorized entitlement program whose cost “may exceed $500 billion dollars over 10 years.” (My own estimate puts the 10-year cost closer to $700 billion.)

Finally, what little research the agencies performed on Congress’ intent was neither ”serious” nor “thorough,” and appears to have occurred after after agency officials had already made up their minds. For example, Treasury and IRS officials were unaware of numerous elements of the statute and legislative history that conflicted with their theory of Congress’s intent and supported the plain meaning of the statute.
In layman's terms, the aforementioned agencies circumvented clear legal prohibition against an agency rewriting federal law and did so with the encouragement and approval of the Obama administration. Ho-hum.

The details are striking and for additional exposition, read the full Report. Here's a summary:
According to investigators, shortly after McMahon Acting Assistant Secretary, US Dept of Treasury] learned that the existing legislative language “established by the State under section 1311” appears in the statute, it disappeared from the IRS’s draft regulations. It was replaced with language permitting tax credits to be issued through federal Exchanges.

That seemingly minor change is significant for several reasons.

First, the IRS doesn’t have the authority to issue tax credits on its own, and Congress clearly authorized these credits only in specific circumstances.

Second, these “tax credits” are actually cash payments that the IRS sends straight to private health insurance companies.

Third, the tax credits trigger a host of other measures, including additional subsidies as well as penalties against both individuals and employers who fail to purchase adequate coverage. If a state doesn’t establish an Exchange, no tax credits are allowed, and those employers and individuals are explicitly exempt from such penalties. But when the IRS issues unauthorized tax credits in those states, it subjects individuals and employers to illegal penalties.

Again, this is happening right now, in 34 states accounting for two-thirds of the U.S. population. By my estimate, over 10 years this seemingly innocuous change will result in the IRS taxing, borrowing, and spending a staggering $700 billion more than the PPACA allows, which is almost as much as the PPACA’s initial price tag. All for no more reason than a few unelected bureaucrats felt like it. I wish that were an exaggeration.
This kind of inside legislative baseball makes the normal citizen's eyes glaze over, but understand that it results in the shrinking pools of taxpayers subsidizing insurance companies without legislative mandate.

It's the sort of thing that happens regularly in a banana republic, but not the United States. Until now. Ho-hum.

Saturday, February 08, 2014


As Barack Obama's poll numbers drop below 40 percent approval, he appears to withdraw further and further into fantasy. To wit:

When questioned about the IRS scandal in which the IRS was weaponized to harass groups who oppose the president, Obama said there was not a "smidgen of corruption" and by implication, that the scandal was ginned up by FoxNews. Of course, an on-going FBI investigation has not been concluded, the IRS official most closely connected to the scandal has taken the 5th in front of congress, and congressional hearings indicate that there is considerably more than a "smidgen" of truth to wide spread concern about the IRS's activities, all coordinated from Washington, DC.

In the State of the Union address, Obama argued that “American diplomacy, backed by the threat of force, is why Syria’s chemical weapons are being eliminated.” This is, of course after the "red line" and "Assad must go" debacle. George Will writes:
Reuters recently reported that Assad had surrendered “4.1 percent of the roughly 1,300 tonnes of toxic agents” he supposedly has. The “.1” is an especially magical number, given the modifier “roughly” attached to 1,300 tons.
A 4 percent reduction is a very weak start, but in reality, chemical weapons in Syria are far from "eliminated."

But why stop with these two instances?

Obamacare is "working" even though millions more will loose their insurance when the employer mandate kicks in; the CBO reports a net reductions in the labor force by 2016 and more important, increases in overall costs, and the same number of poeple will remain uninsured, even after Obamacare is solidly in place. But those are just piffles, Obamacare is "working."

The "economy is on the rebound," even though our national debt continues to grow at about $1 trillion a year (on average over the Obama years), workplace participation rate is at a 30 year low, and far too many recent college grads live in their parents' basement. No worries, the president's words trump reality every time, don't they?

George Will comments:
Barack Obama, the first president shaped by the celebratory culture in which every child who plays soccer gets a trophy and the first whose campaign speeches were his qualification for the office, perhaps should not be blamed for thinking that saying things is tantamount to accomplishing things, and that good intentions are good deeds. So, his presidency is useful after all, because it illustrates the perils of government run by believers in magic words and numbers.

Fantasy = magic words + numbers.