13 May, 2011

P.T.–Still Laughing At You

Time to write another post about that crap sandwich disguised as health reform, commonly called ObamaCare.

Remember, in our last post, we discovered that the Dems lied to us about the cost of the bill. They were forced to admit that they double counted their Medicare savings. Ooops.

And now, the American Medical Group Association weighs in:

Just over a month ago, the administration released long-awaited draft regulations for "accountable care organizations," networks of doctors and hospitals that would collaborate to keep Medicare patients healthier and share in the savings with taxpayers. Obama's health care overhaul law envisioned quickly setting up hundreds of such networks around the county to lead a bottom-up reform of America's bloated health care system.

But in an unusual rebuke, an umbrella group representing premier organizations such as the Mayo Clinic wrote the administration Wednesday saying that more than 90 percent of its members would not participate, because the rules as written are so onerous it would be nearly impossible for them to succeed.

And this:

The regulations are "overly prescriptive, operationally burdensome, and the incentives are too difficult to achieve to make this voluntary program attractive," the medical group association said in its letter. One of the major problems seems to be that medical groups have little experience in managing insurance risk, and the administration blueprint rapidly exposes them to potential financial losses.

But, my favorite line from the article is here:

Fisher, the medical association head, said he does not think the administration will easily back off its approach, because on paper it saves the government money.

So, in other words, the administration’s not going to back down, even though no one is going to participate, because “on paper it saves the government money”. That’s so laughable you could hurt yourself. As we’ve shown plenty of times already, there’s NO MONEY SAVINGS. Not for the government, not for anyone.

But, who are the suckers this time?

Many in the health care industry were silent partners backing Obama's overhaul law, but disappointment over the accountable care rules has put a chill into the relationship. During the congressional debate, Obama extolled Mayo and Geisinger, holding them up as a model of what he wanted to achieve for the nation. Industry criticism of his administration's proposal has been building up for weeks in online forums.

Bingo. Well, it’s not like you weren’t warned. Remember this?

Did you really think that was going to come without higher cost and burdensome regulations?

You got suckered, and now we’re all paying for it. Thank you very much.

Barack Obama’s (D-USA) entire Presidency has been a big game of Three Card Monte. He lets you think you can win, making you think you know what’s going on and that the game is going to work out for you, and then he hides the queen. And you lose. And you lose. And you lose.

The problem is that it’s not just some jerk on a street corner losing their money to another jerk on a street corner. It’s the entire nation losing all their money to a jerk in the White House.

Well, at least P.T. is still happy. He’s found some more suckers. Don’t worry. If you still believe in this law, P.T. will find you eventually. There may be one born every minute, but the number of ongoing ObamaCare suckers is shrinking fast.

The Fourth Amendment Gets Torn a Bit More–Here In Indiana!

The Indiana Supreme Court today decided that the Fourth Amendment doesn’t matter anymore.

INDIANAPOLIS | Overturning a common law dating back to the English Magna Carta of 1215, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Hoosiers have no right to resist unlawful police entry into their homes.

In a 3-2 decision, Justice Steven David writing for the court said if a police officer wants to enter a home for any reason or no reason at all, a homeowner cannot do anything to block the officer's entry.

"We believe ... a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence," David said. "We also find that allowing resistance unnecessarily escalates the level of violence and therefore the risk of injuries to all parties involved without preventing the arrest."

Despite voting for President Barack Obama (D-USA), we’re pretty conservative here in Indiana. If our court can make a ruling like this, just wait until a similar case comes up in California.

Elections matter. Supreme court nominations matter. This is an abomination.

(wow, I’ve been using that word quite a bit lately)

Seven Minutes These Kids Will Never Forget

I tweeted about this a couple times this week, but wanted to save it on my blog for posterity.

Go read this at TIME, now: The Interrupted Reading: The Kids with George W. Bush on 9/11.

I’m not even going to quote anything. You need to read the whole article.

Eat that, Michael Moore.

What’s Up With The Huck?

Governor Mike Huckabee is going to announce something tomorrow.

Mike Huckabee told listeners during his radio show today to “be sure to catch my Fox News television show,” saying that a “very important announcement” would occur Saturday, according to ABC News.

Huckabee didn’t offer any further details, so it’s not clear if the announcement will relate to his plans about 2012, or will focus on an educational company that he just launched yesterday that will initially sell a history-oriented video series about kids time traveling.

Personally, I have a hard time believing that Fox would let him announce his candidacy on his show. The speculation right now is that he’s going to announce that he’s not running, something that Eric Erickson over at RedState has been certain of for some time.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee looks like he’ll give the 2012 White House campaign a pass, says Mr. Huckabee’s top political operative.

Mr. Huckabee has told followers to tune in to his Saturday evening show on Fox News for what he calls a major announcement. But Ed Rollins, who directed his 2008 campaign and has been organizing his 2012 campaign-in-waiting, said he has not been consulted.

“I’ve heard nothing, which indicates to me he’s not running,” Mr. Rollins said in an interview.

Possible, but more and more I think Katrina nailed it first. He’s going to talk about his new company.

The Obligatory ‘Ron Paul Is In’ Post

Ron Paul announced his candidacy today on ABC’s Good Morning America, thus ensuring that only about a dozen people got to see it live.

This will be the third time out for Paul. He first ran as a Libertarian in 1988, then 20 years later as a Republican. Now he’s the second Republican this week to formally announce, following on the heels of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Paul, 75, who tweeted yesterday that he would make a “major announcement” this morning, said he wants to run because “the time is right.”

“Time has come around to the point where the people are agreeing with much of what I’ve been saying for 30 years,” he told me.

Uh, yeah. Sort of. He’s always been for fiscal sanity and always against the Fed. But, Paul’s still an isolationist, and while I’m no believer in global gov’t, and often wonder if we should get out of the UN, we can’t have an isolationist President in the 21st century.

Why I Don’t (Yet) Support Mitch Daniels

No, it doesn’t have anything to do with his comment about a “truce on social issues”. Couldn’t care less. He was making the very valid point that right now we need to concentrate on the economy and getting our fiscal house in order. His social conservative credentials are up there with just about anyone’s.

Now, a little history.

In 2004, on election day, I stood outside my local polling place in the rain all day long, wearing my green “MY MAN MITCH” t-shirt. I was one of those meet and greet people, “Do you have any questions? Are you sure you’re at the right place? Anything I can help you with?” etc. I’ve voted for Governor Mitch Daniels (R-IN) twice for Governor, and if he could run again, I’d vote for him again. I’m not thrilled with the whole Daylight Savings Time thing, but I understand it, and he did campaign on the issue, so I have no legitimate gripe. He kept his campaign promise.

So, it’s not as if I’m anti-Mitch. I think he’s done a spectacular job as Governor. And I think he’d likely be a good, possibly great, President. I’d happily vote for him for President, if he’s the nominee. And he’s one of only 2 or 3 people I can say that about. I’m just not convinced of his ability to be a good candidate.

I’m gonna pick on Kevin Eder here, who works for the Media Research Center, but he expresses views I’ve heard elsewhere. Here’s a tweet I got from Kevin last night.

@ChrisOfRights I have no issues with his record, but he gets me as excited as a...zzzzzzzzz.

And that’s the truth, and it’s the way a lot of people are going to see Mitch. He’s not dynamic. He’s not charismatic. He’s not even combative. He simply comes out, says what he intends to do, and then does it.

Now I’m gonna pick on Bruce Newman, who follows me on Twitter, and opined on this as well.

@ChrisOfRights @keder I'm wondering if this is the cycle where someone who isn't so glamorous and charismatic can win.The anti-Bama

This is the general rebuttal you get from Mitch’s supporters when presented with statements like Kevin’s. And it does make sense on some levels. President Barack Obama (D-USA) was definitely treated like a rock star by the MSM, and maybe we do need someone who’s more down to earth.

However, there’s a problem. Let’s look at the last 9 Presidential elections. All but one were won by someone with that charisma and flair. Maybe not at Obama levels, but certainly higher than Daniels. We had:

1976: Jimmy Carter
1980: Ronald Reagan
1984: Ronald Reagan
1988: George H.W. Bush
1992: Bill Clinton
1996: Bill Clinton
2000: George W. Bush
2004: George W. Bush
2008: Barack Obama

With the exception of 1988, all of these were pretty charismatic people. Now, you might argue that President George W. Bush (R-USA) didn’t exactly light up a room, but there’s no doubt that he was personable and friendly and genuinely warm. People enjoyed seeing him and being with him. One of the MSM memes at the time was that the pool reporters following his campaign started liking him too much to write bad stuff about him. He’s a likeable guy.

Now, let’s look at the nominees who never were elected President in that same period:

1976: Gerald Ford
1984: Walter Mondale
1988: Michael Dukakis
1996: Bob Dole
2000: Al Gore
2004: John Kerry
2008: John McCain

Pretty much all of these people are dull, dull, dull. Note too, that while President George H.W. Bush (R-USA) won 1988 without much charisma, he was facing someone at just about his same level in Governor Dukakis (D-MA). And he also was running on being the successor to the incredibly charismatic President Ronald Reagan (R-USA). And he lost in 1992, when facing someone with actual charisma, then Governor Bill Clinton (D-AR).

Which group does Mitch fit better with? I think he clearly fits in better with the second group than the first. So, to win, Mitch would not have to be just the anti-Obama, but also defeat a 35+ year trend in Presidential elections.

It’s quite simple, really. In America, we like charismatic Presidents. Yes, that’s stupid, but it’s also undeniably true. I think it’s very likely that to defeat Obama, we’re going to need someone with a similar level of charisma. Do I like that thought? No, but I’m being honest and facing reality.

Now, maybe Mitch will run and start showing some fire and energy. That will certainly help. I hope he can and does. If he does, I will definitely start writing more supportive posts. I’m keeping an open mind on him, but so far I just don’t see it.

(Yes, I know 4 posts are missing from my blog. See here. I can recreate them if I have to and will do so, but am going to wait a bit longer to see if Blogger can restore them for me)

The Obligatory ‘Newt Is In’ Post

I like Newt. If I could have him as a next-door-neighbor, I’d be thrilled. I’d love to sit and shoot the breeze with him. He has an incomparable knowledge of history, and there are very few politicians with his intelligence. He’s an idea guy and most of his ideas are brilliant. He’s also very quick on his feet and understands the issues that face America, both foreign and domestic. I have sympathy for anyone who faces him in a debate. On just about any subject.

Now, having said all that, he’s not who I would support for the GOP nomination, and I hope he doesn’t win because I would have serious concerns about his ability to defeat President Barack Obama, and serious concerns about his ability to preside over America as well.

His marriage issues show that he has some character flaws. Now, I’m definitely not without sin myself, and I don’t expect any sinless person to show up this campaign season. But these are character flaws that I find disconcerting an unacceptable. You may disagree. That’s your prerogative.

Then there’s this:


To have bought into the whole AGW nonsense is bad enough, but to sit next to that woman on that couch…ugh.

And there’s the matter of the worst kept secret in Washington, D.C. during his heyday as House Speaker. The story goes that starting in about 1996, the Republican House leadership refused to let him meet privately with President Bill Clinton (D-USA) anymore. Because while Newt talked a good game on the outside, he always fell to Clinton’s charms one on one and caved. Now, that may or may not be true, but I’ve heard it too many times to just discount it automatically.

But, finally, there’s this. And I’m going to say this about several people running for President this year. He’s a twentieth century politician. I honestly do not think he understands the Tea Party, or the need to “just say no” to the Democrats. I think he still believes that much can be achieved through compromise with them. And I think it’s clear that through at least the last 30 years or so, that whenever the GOP has compromised with Dems, we’ve lost much more than we’ve gained. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you can not compromise with people who want to unmake America and take it completely the wrong direction. All a compromise does in such a scenario is move us towards their goals, but slower. We have to move to our goals, that of preserving America and American values.

And I just don’t think he’s the man to do that. Twenty-first century politics demands standing up and saying not just “no”, but “hell no!” I believe I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of politicians who are willing to do that, and so far he doesn’t make the cut.

For a more complimentary view of Newt, from a man who rarely has anything good to say about any politician, read Neal Boortz’ take here.


Newt makes it official at 4:23 EDT with this tweet:

Today I am announcing my candidacy for President of the United States. You can watch my announcement here. http://bit.ly/kEbh7d

And here’s the vid:

12 May, 2011

My Letter to Mitch McConnell

This is my week for letters. This wasn’t an open one though. I sent it directly to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) through his form on his Senate website. I encourage you to do the same.

Dear Senate Minority Leader McConnell,

Please explain to me why the vacant seat on the finance committee went to Senator Burr, who stated publicly that he didn't want it, rather than Senator DeMint, who stated publicly that he did?

I can only see this as a blatant attack on DeMint and the Tea Party.

Do you remember last November? Last November was all about fiscal sanity. Senator DeMint is exactly the type of voice we need on that committee, not someone who doesn't understand the concept of small and limited government.

Amnesty for Illegals? TARP? S-CHIP? Burr.

This is an outrage.

Make no mistake about it. The RSCC will not be receiving any money from me this election cycle. You just blew it.

[Your Name Here]
A concerned citizen

11 May, 2011

I’ve Become An Apple Fanboy

I managed to go 44 years of my life without buying a single piece of Apple hardware for myself (I’ve gotten two iPods for my wife). And in the last month, I’ve gotten an iPad 2, and the Apple TV.

How do I like them? They’re both wonderful. The iPad has become my default device for Twitter and RSS, and even for reading my e-mail (I still compose e-mail on the PC). I’m in love with Facetime, and wish I could get it for my EVO, because it’s a much better video calling experience than Qik or Fring. Actually, I’d love it if I could get Facetime for Windows too, so then my mother could make video calls to her two granddaughters. Yes, I know there are other ways to do video calling, but Facetime is just so incredibly easy to use.

As for the Apple TV, I think I like it better than my iPad. I can stream anything on my iTunes to it, including music, TV shows, and movies. I can set it up to have a screensaver made up of pics of my kids. And yes, I can do all of these types of things other ways too, but the Apple TV makes it painless. It has NetFlix integration (haven’t tried it out yet, can’t comment) and pay-per-view movies. Also has streamed MLB and NBA games, however I don’t plan on using that service. And the device itself is tiny. About the size of two decks of cards.

I could actually even see myself with an iPhone, if it was on Sprint, and had 4G, and better cameras, and a better UI, and Flash, and…ok, nevermind. I can’t see myself with such a wimpy phone.

Actually, the lack of Flash support irks me on the iPad too. Some days it really irks me. Yes, I know about Skyfire, but what about apps like Twitter clients that launch an internal browser? I assume it’s using some sort of hooks into the system browser, right? So, even if I had Skyfire, I wouldn’t get Flash from tweet links.

Maybe I’m wrong there. I haven’t tried it.

Oh yeah, that reminds me. There’s one other thing that sucks on the iPad. The App Store. When I buy an app from the Android Market, if I uninstall it in half an hour or less, I get my money back. Not so from the App Store. And unlike the Android Market, there aren’t many free apps. I must’ve installed half a dozen at least of Twitter clients and RSS readers, before I settled on ones I liked. And I paid for every one of them. And most of them I couldn’t uninstall fast enough.

Ok, I’m not an Apple fanboy after all.

Senator Reid, How Dumb Do You Think We Are?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) took to the Senate floor today in defense of the NLRB trying to tell Boeing where it can and can not do business.

Here’s the video for your viewing pleasure. Keep a bucket handy.

Can’t watch? I’ll give you the money quote:

“The Founders created a system of checks and balances — three branches of government, for example, and two chambers of the Congress — precisely because they anticipated these passions,” Reid said on the Senate floor.

“Long after that system was created, a new independent federal agency was created in the same spirit of checks and balances,” said Reid. “That agency is the National Labor Relations Board, and it acts as a check on employers and employees alike.”

This statement might be even dumber than former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA-08) “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it” statement.

I really did not think anyone would surpass that any time soon. What’s more, is he’s lying and he knows it. I don’t like Reid, but he’s not a complete idiot. And you would have to be a complete idiot to believe that statement. So, my only conclusion is that he thinks the people listening to him (i.e. you and I) are the idiots.

The Founders would like the NLRB telling a business where it can build a plant? You have got to be kidding me.

This is a huge issue. This blatant power grab by the executive is just as bad as anything in ObamaCare. This is exactly the kind of thing you see in Atlas Shrugged. And there’s a reason this was discussed in last week’s GOP debate, and the reason isn’t just because the debate was being held in South Carolina. No matter how this turns out, it’s going to be a campaign issue next year.

Boeing has done nothing wrong. No amount of spin can change that. They wanted to build a new plant to makes 787’s. They looked at lots of places, and narrowed the selection down to two, Washington and South Carolina (they already have plants in both). They eventually decided Washington was their first choice and went to the union there to discuss it. They could not come to an agreement with the union, so they went to their second choice. The union demands were pretty much off the charts. Boeing wanted to build the planes there. The union wouldn’t let them.

Don’t believe me? It’s all here in a wonderful article in the Washington Post by Jennifer Rubin entitled, “The NLRB hands the Republicans a  potent issue”.

Another Great Post at Catallaxy

This is becoming one of my favorite blogs. I don’t even remember how I found it. I was probably looking up something on Keynesian economics.

Anyway, Steve Kates reviews the recent paper (PDF) by the Republican Party Joint Economic Committee. His summary is fairly blunt (emphasis mine), which is why I like this blog.

This is a measured very sober empirically-based study that reverses the entire direction of Keynesian-based policy. Whether this is the future of economic theory, it is the present of economic policy. We are looking at a world in which policy has run well ahead of the textbook theories economists now teach. If you have grown up on the C+I+G version of macroeconomics, then what you have learned has with near certainly passed its use-by date.

It’s important to hear (or read) someone saying this so emphatically. CIG is stated as an absolute fact by Keynesian and is their ultimate fallback defense.

For those that don’t know, the formula in question is:

GDP = C + I + G


GDP = Gross Domestic Product

C = Private consumption

I = Gross Investment

G = Government Spending

The problem is that this formula, while the basis of post-1936 macroeconomics, is fundamentally flawed. From it you can assume that all you ever need to do to grow the GDP, and thus the economy, is have the government spend more. And that’s the fundamental belief behind Keynesian economics. However, it ignores the fundamental truth behind government spending, and that’s government cost.

When I go to work and do my job, my employer pays me for my work, and I spend that money, giving some other company income so that they can pay their employees who can go out and spend money on still more companies who can pay still more employees.

The reason you can include my consumption and ignore my cost in the GDP is that my income is earned. I provided a service, which allows the company I work for to sell their product and have their buyers increase the public consumption part of the formula.

In other words, I am not only a consumer, but also a producer.

The government is not a producer. The money it acquires is un-earned (yes, I know civil defense, education, etc., but those are a small part of the federal budget these days, and there are other problems with including these anyway). So, the government must take the money it acquires. This means there are fewer dollars available for public consumption, so fewer dollars left to pay producers to produce consumable products and services. In other words, G starves C (and I, but that’s more than I want to get into right now).

But C is the most important part of the equation. Without C, eventually there is no I, and no G, since those two variables depend on C.

And there is the fatal flaw in Keynesian economics.

Keynesians will tell you that I’ve missed something important. They aren’t planning on starving C, because they’re using short term deficit spending. Except history shows us that it’s never short term. And even if it were, it still must be paid for eventually. Even if you let this debt go on forever, you have to at least pay the interest. And in the end, the only way to pay for it is by starving C.

Also, G spending picks winners and losers generally in a way that is the antithesis of the free market, therefore rewarding producers that might not (and probably would not) have ben rewarded otherwise, at the expense of producers who would have. High G spending destroys the free market, which destroys a country’s future ability to produce products and services worthy of consumption. In other words, not only does G spending today starve C now, but it starves C in the future as well.

I’ve been saying this for a while, but it’s worth repeating. Given the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, and the near worldwide Keynesian response, we have empirical evidence and an enormous number of data points that all show one thing. Keynesian economics fails. And it fails spectacularly.

At this point, anyone who still believes in Keynesian economics should be locked up, as they are clearly a threat to their own safety as well as the safety of those around them.

Saluting Deep Blue

Today in 1997, IBM’s chess computer, Deep Blue defeated human grand master Garry Kasparov.

Kasparov demanded a rematch, but IBM declined. Kasparov also claimed that IBM cheated, but such claims have never been given much credence.

As Dr. Glenn Reynolds often says, “I, for one, welcome our new robotic overlords.”

10 May, 2011

Obama Lies. Again.

I know you’re surprised. Me too.

What did President Barack Obama (D-USA) lie about this time? Oh wow, I think there are too many to enumerate, but I’ll choose the heavy hitters. Obama was out talking about “immigration reform” today. He’s talking about it because he thinks he can use this issue to fire up the base, next November. That’s the only reason. Remember that as you read on.

So, what did he have to say?

"They wanted a fence," he said, to boos from the crowd, speaking in shirtsleeves on a hot, sunny day at a park within sight of the border. "Well, that fence is now basically complete."

Really? I must have missed the news on that, because last I heard, it was pretty much stalled. Let’s go check.

Today, according to staff at the Department of Homeland Security, just 5 percent of the double-layer fencing is complete, only 36.3 miles.

36.3 out of over 700. Yes, I’d call that basically complete. And my two story house is basically as tall as the Sears Tower. Hey, if that’s good enough, why did we need universal health care? Basically everyone is covered already. In fact, we’re a lot closer on universal coverage than the fence. A lot closer.

Next lie:

"We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement," Obama said. "But even though we've answered these concerns, I gotta say I suspect there are still going to be some who are trying to move the goal posts on us one more time."

I’ve looked. I can’t find any Republican that ever said on the record that they supported broader reform as long as he got serious about enforcement. But, even if they had, he hasn’t gotten serious about enforcement. The only one that’s trying to move the goal posts is him. He wants to score when he gets to the 20. His own 20, not the opponent one.

In fact, David Limbaugh says that it was the other way around.

It's the other way around. The tyrannical egomaniac told Sen Kyle he wouldn't guard the border because GOP then wouldn't work on imm reform

And as Reuters said:

But he offered no concrete policy initiatives or timelines for introducing broad legislation, underscoring the fact that he is unlikely to advance any major overhaul before the 2012 presidential election.

Of course he didn’t. It’s not a priority for him. Making it look like it’s a priority is a priority. Because it energizes the base and gets them to the voting booth. Anytime he can demonize the GOP on something, he thinks it helps him with the voters.

But there’s a problem. If this was a priority, or if it really was the GOP’s fault there’s no movement on this issue, then he should have done it in 2009 or 2010, when the GOP couldn’t stop him. He didn’t, because a) it isn’t a priority, and b) it’s not the GOP that’s causing him grief on this issue, it’s his own party. Too many Blue Dogs are uninterested in sticking their necks out for it.

But he doesn’t care. He’s campaigning, and that’s all this was. A campaign speech. Expect to see a lot more of this over the next 18 months.

Maybe Speaker Boehner Read My Open Letter

He’s certainly acting like it. Well, not on the budget negotiations, but on the coming debt limit increase vote.

Most significantly, the speaker will demand that any increase to the debt limit be offset by spending cuts of a greater amount. “Without significant spending cuts and reforms to reduce our debt, there will be no debt limit increase,” Boehner plans to say, according to excerpts obtained by National Review Online. “And the cuts should be greater than the accompanying increase in debt authority the president is given. We should be talking about cuts of trillions, not just billions.”

In other words, if President Obama wants to be able to borrow trillions more (and he does), he will have to consider meaningful reforms to entitlement programs — the primary drivers of the country’s debt problem — in exchange for Republican votes.

And he’s made it clear that raising taxes is a non-starter.

As stated above, the only way we’re getting to trillions of dollars of savings is through entitlement reform. Actually, that’s not completely true, as was shown in my most recent post regarding Senator Pat Toomey’s (R-PA) budget plan. You can also get there with bigtime economic growth. But the likely way to get there is through entitlement reform.

Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) said that the figure they’re looking at is $6 trillion in cuts.

Well, all I can say is they’re saying all the right things and walking tall now, and I applaud them for that.

But to say that I’ve been disappointed on these fronts by Republicans before would be the understatement of the century. So, color me skeptical. I can’t see our big government President being willing to give up trillions of spending on all his pet projects. And, unfortunately for them, Speaker Boehner (R-OH-08) and Kyl have boxed themselves in a corner now. Whatever they end up with is likely going to be a huge disappointment to the base, myself included.

I applaud them shooting for the moon. And I hope they get close. But I’m definitely adopting a wait and see attitude on this one.

The Toomey Plan

Go here and take a peek at the budget plan from Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA).

NRO has some specifics.

Pro-growth tax policies are at the heart of Toomey’s plan. His budget reaches balance by 2020 by lowering federal spending to 18.5 percent of gross domestic product, reforming the tax code, lowering marginal tax rates, and closing tax loopholes. It also reduces the corporate-tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent and indexes the alternative minimum tax for inflation.

On defense, Toomey “assumes a full withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan by 2018, contingent on security needs,” and slows the growth of defense spending by using the Pentagon savings identified by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

On health care, Toomey’s budget repeals Obamacare taxes and spending. It also implements a block-grant program for Medicaid, much like Ryan does in his budget. Medicaid spending is gradually reduced to $14 billion above Fiscal Year 2008 levels by 2019.

And he doesn’t touch Medicare.



That’s it. Just…no.

Ok, you want more? Fine.

It balances the budget in 10 years, but since it does nothing on the subject of entitlement reform, it won’t be balanced after that. And, since the entitlement situation will be worse then, it will be even harder to fix.

This is what I described in my earlier post as kicking the can down the road 10 years to gain back 7 or 8. So, it’s as flawed as the President’s plan and The People’s Budget, but at least it doesn’t incorporate impossible taxes and assume impossible tax revenue.

Toomey basically admits the flaws, too.

Toomey acknowledged this up front. “It is my view that a permanent solution to the fiscal challenges that we face will require broader reforms than what we have in this budget,” he said. “But this budget represents what we think of as a necessary first step; it reaches a balance.”

Toomey, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, said that he would vote for Ryan’s budget if it was brought to the floor. His budget, he emphasized, was not a competing document. “I see this as a different focus,” he said. “[Ryan’s] goal is long-term, it’s permanent solvency, and he walks through the structural reforms that would achieve that.”

Ok, I’ll admit that we’re not going to get President Barack Obama (D-USA) to sign off on the Ryan plan, or even anything like it. We’ll probably end up with something like the Toomey plan, if we’re lucky.

But again, we’re giving in before the fight has started. Toomey’s plan should be an end point, not a starting point. We can’t keep giving up ground and not getting anything at all in return.

This plan is extremely disappointing.

Senator Lugar, It’s Time For You To Go

I voted for you in 2006, 2000, and 1994. But this e-mail clearly shows that you’ve lost touch with your constituents. I’ve included the entire text of the e-mail from your campaign (emphasis mine).

After giving his second of three commencement addresses this weekend, Dick Lugar continued to question President Obama on the cost of military operations in Afghanistan and its effect on national debt. At the same time, Richard Mourdock’s campaign invited Democrat Joe Donnelly into the race for the U.S. Senate.

“Right now, Richard Mourdock is Obama’s favorite Republican because if he wins that primary and Joe Donnelly is the nominee that’s their (Democrats) shot at the Senate seat held by Dick Lugar,” said Indiana’s own Peter Rusthoven, former Reagan White House Counsel and conservative political commentator on Indiana Insiders Sunday, April 17, 2011.

Common wisdom says that Dick Lugar would easily win a general election in 2012 with a recent poll showing that he is the most popular public official in the state of Indiana.

Unfortunately, a large number of Republican County Chairmen have been duped into participating in the same failed scheme that resulted in Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle and cost us two crucial Senate Seats in 2010. (If the Republican parties in Delaware, Nevada, and Colorado had taken the Reagan “big tent” approach, we would have already repealed Obamacare.) Mr. Mourdock has hired the same consultants that brought us these unelectable candidates, and with Mr. Donnelly joining the race the pattern is complete.

Dick Lugar’s record as a fiscal conservative and leader on following Constitutional values (including the correct interpretation of the Constitution on war powers and judicial appointments) is impeccable. I encourage all Republican leaders to rally around the Dick Lugar flag now; you have been led down a wrong path and it’s time to come home.

Republican candidates in DE, NV, and CO did not take this threat seriously. We do. And, we will be happy to rally Republican voters to this view a year from now. We would rather do it with your support than without you. But do it we shall.

Dick Lugar looks forward to a vigorous re-election campaign, and has been mobilizing his supporters the past several months for both the primary and general elections. He will continue to focus on the best opportunities to create an economic climate that produces more jobs for Hoosiers and Americans, and growing new markets for our products at home and abroad.


David W. Willkie
Political Director
Friends of Dick Lugar

Ok, first highlighted section. He calls out Mourdock as “Obama’s favorite Republican”. I guess he has to do that. Use your favorite search engine and look up that phrase. The #1 hit likely includes the name “Dick Lugar”. So, he’s trying to make a positive out of a negative, but all it does is remind us that Lugar really is Obama’s favorite Republican.

Second highlighted section, “Common wisdom says…” that there’s no way the Dems could lose the house in 2010. Or at least it did in May of 2009. ‘Nuff said.

Third highlighted section. Leon H. Wolf nails it at RedState, so I’ll just borrow his words:

A few things. First, while a candidate might think voters are morons for not wanting to vote for him, it is generally a bad idea to say it out loud, on the off chance that some of those voters might be persuaded to come home.

Second, while I agree that O’Donnell and Angle were bad candidates (and strongly disagree on Buck), it’s ridiculous to claim that the GOP would have done better if it had nominated the candidates who were routed by the aforementioned bad candidates in the primary. This is the same line of thinking that posits that we lost to Obama because McCain was such a crappy candidate, and we should have instead nominated… one of the people who lost to McCain. Does not compute.

Third, math is apparently not a strong suit of Dick Lugar. The GOP currently controls 47 seats in the Senate. Adding three more seats (CO, NV, DE) would put us at 50. Thus, even supposing Castle would vote to repeal Obamacare, the best we could accomplish on an Obamacare repeal vote would be a tie, which would be broken by Joe Biden. Which is completely academic anyway, since a) the Democrats would filibuster the vote and b) failing all of that, Obama would just veto it. But, yeah, if those TEA Party people weren’t such morons, we’d totally have repealed Obamacare by now.

But if that’s not egregious enough, the fourth highlighted section should get your blood boiling. It’s very plainly a thinly veiled threat to go the independent route should things not work out for Lugar in the GOP primary.

Senator Lugar, the people of Indiana deserve better. We don’t need people with that kind of attitude in our lives. My advice for you is the same as the Club for Growth. Retire. Retire now with some dignity and class.

I’ve not been the most ardent supporter of Richard Mourdock. It would not be wrong to say it’s been tepid, at best. But no more. I don’t want someone representing me with this kind of entitlement attitude. I deserve better. Indiana deserves better.

Under What Conditions Are Keynesian Approaches Relevant And Good Policy?

That’s the title of a wonderful article from economist Steve Kates at Catallaxy Files today.

He lowers the boom (emphasis mine):

The problem with the question asked – “Under what conditions are Keynesian approaches relevant and good policy?” – is that the answer is becoming more evident every day. There are no conditions when Keynesian approaches are relevant and good for policy. A Keynesian policy is a deficit-financed increase in public spending during recessionary periods to hasten a return to strong growth and full employment. It has never worked. Not during the New Deal, not during the Stagflation of the 1970s, not in Japan in the 1990s nor has it worked right up to this minute as embodied in the “stimulus” packages that followed the Global Financial Crisis. Economic theory is in crisis mode although no one goes around pointing it out. But whatever we economists might teach in the classroom, no one actually framing policy will ever again base what they do on the need to restore aggregate demand through higher levels of public spending. We may continue to teach it but no one will do it. Keynesian theory, so far as public policy is concerned, is dead in the water.


We have a President that continues to believe it does. See the problem?

09 May, 2011

The Mighty Thor

I went to see Thor this weekend in IMAX 3D. Unlike my usual reviews, I’m going to start with the bad first, rather than the good. That’s because there’s far more good than bad, but the bad have been particularly nagging at my mind.

In case you don’t know, Thor is the latest Marvel Comics creation to hit the big screen. It’s also one of my two favorite comics from growing up. The other was The Flash. Thor is the mighty God of Thunder from Norse mythology, son of Odin and Frigga, and wielder of the mighty hammer Mjölnir (funny, I always thought that word had two l’s, but I digress).

Anyway, on to the bad.

First, and worst, Rene Russo is completely miscast as Frigga. I understand they wanted a strong female to be counterpart to Anthony Hopkins as Odin, but if so, they needed to expand the part. An actress of her stature and talents is completely wasted in such a limited (and frankly weak) role.

Second, while it’s always wonderful to see a movie on the IMAX screen, I could’ve passed on the 3D. The only noticeable 3D effects were during the opening and closing credits, and the preview for Pirates of the Caribbean 4.

Yes, there was some silliness and some ridiculous looking costumes, but what do you expect from a movie based on a comic book? If that’s going to bother you, you shouldn’t be there.

That’s it for the bad.

Overall, it’s an enjoyable ride. It’s a “coming of age” god story for lack of a better description. Although the residents of Asgard don’t consider themselves gods, they’re just from another world and another realm. Chris Hemsworth is a combination of Heath Ledger and a young Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is banished from Asgard by his father, Odin, after nearly starting a war with the frost giants of Jötunheimr. Upon his banishment, he is sent to Midgard (Earth) to prove himself worthy once more.

Natalie Portman does well as the human love interest for the immortal Thor, the brilliant astrophysicist, trying to understand the creation of Einstein-Rosen Bridges (wormholes) in space. The residents of Asgard create these bridges to travel between the different realms.

I’m not sure that Tom Hiddlestone was a perfect choice for the trickster, Loki. He’s not quite unlikeable enough. You need someone like a young Alan Rickman for this role, and he doesn’t quite pull it off. Decent, but not great.

I’ve been disappointed by a number of the comic adaptations recently. They seem to have run their course, and it’s just a lot of “guy in silly costume beats up guy in sillier costume to save the damsel in distress”. I think Thor managed to bring a little new life back into this genre by staying mostly away from this stereotype. The plot is a little simplistic, but as I said, it’s more of a coming of age film in most respects than a western with super powers. The most important character trait of both Thor and Loki is their humanity, not their abilities.

There’s plenty of room for sequels as there are a number of unanswered questions at the end, but I suspect most of them will remain unanswered.

As a humorous aside, Thor has one of the funniest YouTube ads that I’ve seen in recent years.

Joe Donnelly Wants Lugar’s Seat

Robert Costa at The Corner noted this weekend:

Rep. Joe Donnelly [(D-IN-02)], a South Bend Democrat, will run for U.S. Senate:

Following redistricting, Donnelly’s South Bend district stands to be become more Republican — a factor that was a notable part of his decision-making process as he considered his political future. What’s more, Republican Jackie Walorski, who Donnelly narrowly defeated in 2010, will once again run for the 2nd District seat in 2012.

As I noted in my comment there, this is good news for both Jackie Walorski and Richard Mourdock.

Jackie narrowly lost to Donnelly in 2010, and has already announced she’s running again. I think she was likely to win, regardless, as she made a few mistakes during the campaign season, and redistricting makes the district a bit more solidly red.

But it also helps Richard Mourdock, who is hoping to win the Republican primary against sitting Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN). Mourdock is running as a Tea Party candidate, and considerably to the right of Lugar who has drifted farther and farther to the left over time. Obviously, Indiana Democrats are hoping Mourdock wins (they didn’t even field a candidate against Lugar in 2006). But Donnelly is a weak candidate. Walorski should have beaten him and I really don’t think Mourdock will have any trouble. In fact, I think Mourdock’s biggest challenge will be defeating Lugar. Mourdock has been winning several straw polls and while some news organizations are reporting that “Lugar has to be regarded as the underdog”, he has the benefit of name recognition and a sizable war chest. And he’s well respected by the “centrists” in Indiana. In fact, were Lugar to go the Joe Liebermann (ID-CT) route, I really don’t think he’d have much trouble winning.

An Open Letter to Speaker Boehner & My Congressman

TO: House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH-08)
CC: Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN-05)
Mr. Speaker,

I realize that the election of 2010, while historic, granted the Republican party very limited power in Washington, D.C. We still have to deal with President Barack Obama (D-USA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). However, I wonder if you are making proper use of even what limited power you have. Like Velma Hart, I am exhausted of defending you. I stood by you after the budget deal over the CR for the rest of fiscal year 2011. I understand the difference between appropriations and allocations, and I realize that you probably got all you were going to be able to get out of that deal. I think you got played on the “czars” part of the deal, but I have faith you won’t let that happen again, and will punish Obama for bargaining in bad faith.

However, your recent comments regarding Congressman Paul Ryan's (R-WI-01) Path to Prosperity leave me gravely concerned. You seem to agree with Congressman Dave Camp’s (R-MI-04) statement regarding the plan:

"I'm not really interested in laying down more markers," said Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.). "I'd rather have the committee working with the Senate and with the president to focus on savings and reforms that can be signed into law."
In fact, your own words on the subject are these:
"My interpretation of what Mr. Camp said is a recognition of the political realities that we face. While Republicans control the House, the Democrats control the Senate and they control the White House," Boehner said at a Thursday press conference.

Again, I understand the political realities we face. I realize that in the end, to pass both chambers and to get the President’s signature, any measure will have to have bipartisan support. I also understand the desire to avoid a vote that will be interpreted by many as purely symbolic. Mr. Camp is correct that the Ryan plan does not have any chance of success in the Senate.

However, I think this path is fraught with peril.

The people that brought you this majority in 2010, did so because we are gravely concerned about the future of this country. Not just for our children, not just for our retirement savings, but we have serious doubts about the next 10 years. We see the headlines about Greece and other countries in the EU, and we wonder if we’re very far behind. Just this weekend it was revealed that the Greece bailout may be failing and that while there is a high risk of default, further bailouts are being considered.

“We have not been discussing the exit of Greece from the euro area. This is a stupid idea. It is in no way - it is an avenue we would never take,” [Head of Eurogroup] Juncker told reporters.
“We don't want to have the euro area exploding without reason. We were excluding the restructuring option, which is discussed heavily in certain quarters of the financial markets.
“We think that Greece does need a further adjustment program,” Juncker said. “This has to be discussed in detail.”
In fact, some economists are not just saying that we’re following Greece, but we’re already there.
[Boston University Economics Professor Laurence] Kotlikoff believes a better benchmark of fiscal fitness is the fiscal gap, or the present value difference between all future expenditures and receipts. His calculations reveal Greece future expenditure at 11.5% of the value of future GDP, after incorporating the new austerity measures.
The US figure, based on the CBO projections--12.2%--is worse than that of Greece, but not by too much.
However, Kotlikoff says the U.S. is in much worse shape than the 12.2% figure suggests, because the CBO’s projections assume “a 7.2% of GDP belt-tightening by 2020,” with "highly speculative” assumptions, such as a substantial rise in tax receipts and wage growth.
A separate analysis by the New York Times also put the U.S. debt--measured by medium term deficit as a percentage of GDP--higher than that of Greece. (See chart)  Furthermore, in a roundabout way, Kotlikoff and Da Gong, the largest credit rating agency in China, seem to be in agreement as to the fiscal position of the United States; although many have dismissed Da Gong’s objectivity when it downgraded the U.S. from AAA to AA.

Mr. Speaker, the time has come to draw a line in the sand. This far. No further. The people that gave you this majority are not interested in bipartisanship. They are interested in saving this country. That will take some hard bargaining on your part, and some strong efforts by Mr. Camp and others, as well as your counterparts in the Senate. We realize that Medicare reform as designed by Chairman Ryan may not pass, but we can not afford to take it off the table without getting something just as significant in return. The Ryan plan should be the starting point in negotiations. We can not move the starting point even further to the left.

We expect you, no, we need you, to stand firm against the destructive plans of Leader Reid and President Obama. We will do our best to give you more tools to work with in 2012, but you have to prove that you’re willing to use the tools that we’ve given you so far.

It’s not entirely your fault, but the citizenry of this country has acquired a high level of distrust for our elected officials. We came out in historic numbers in 2010, not because we suddenly believe in the Republican party, but because of our concerns for the future. We had hope and belief that you understood your mandate and what we expected of you. Then we read things that make it seem as if nothing has changed in Washington, and that you still don’t get it. That doesn’t help your case in attempting to regain our trust. If you want more of our trust and more tools, you’re going to earn it. That means fighting for us, every day, every hour, with every breath you have. We demand, expect, and will accept nothing less. Because we will be doing the same.

If you’re not willing to do that, let us know now. We’re tired of being fooled and we’re tired of waiting for real leadership.