25 June, 2011

June 25, 2006

Gilad Shalit, a corporal in the Israeli Defense Force Armor Corps is captured by the terrorist organization, Hamas. He is still being held by this group, and is one more reason why Benjamin Netanyahu will not negotiate with them. His capture and imprisonment has caused one of the rare incidences of near worldwide agreement in siding with Israel against Hamas.

June 25, 1950

The Korean War begins. This is one of the few areas of recent American history that I haven’t studied all that extensively. In fact, most of my knowledge comes from the TV show, M*A*S*H, which paints an extremely unflattering image of the U.S. Army, so I rarely watch it anymore. I really should work on learning more about this. My sense is that it’s impact on American history has been understated.

June 25, 1948

Bugs Bunny was born. The first cartoon was entitled Long-Haired Hair, one I’ve seen several times, including just a couple weeks ago. Never knew it was the first.

Happy birthday, Bugs!

June 25, 1947

The Diary of Anne Frank is published under the title The Diary of a Young Girl. Picked one up for my Kindle myself today.

She started writing it in June of 1942.

24 June, 2011

Political Chicken: The Game Republicans Must Win

This is a guest post from @AG_Conservative who normally posts at RedState. I’ll update this post with a link to his RedState post when it appears.

UPDATE: Link to RedState post.

Everyone knows about the classic game of chicken, usually in the form of two cars driving towards each other until one side turns and loses. That situation is a perfect analogy to the current debt limit negotiations in congress. Usually a game of chicken is for fun or reputation, but in this case the future of the country may be at stake. Our country is facing a financial catastrophe due in large part to the enormous debt we have accumulated. Just a few days ago the Congressional Budget Office released a report predicting a debt explosion whereby the national debt will exceed our whole economy by 2021. This debt will lead to more joblessness, devaluation of the dollar and higher poverty. That is the realistic path we are on and the path from which Democrats refuse to change course. Instead during negotiations to raise the debt ceiling, Democrats are suggesting more spending and more debt. In most other professions, someone that disconnected from reality would likely be sent to see a psychiatrist, but in politics this is just another day at the office. These politicians refuse to accept basic economic facts and obviously did not learn from the first failed stimulus that they forced on America.

Yesterday, news came out that the main Republican negotiators withdrew from talks because they refuse to compromise on the idea of raising taxes during a recession. This was clearly the right move. Even the head of the non-partisan CBO admitted that raising tax rates would slow economic growth, at a time of already lagging growth and high unemployment. The Democrat plan is increased debt, slower growth and more taxes. It is a plan that America and Americans cannot afford right now. For that reason, the Republicans are doing the right thing by not negotiating with false choices. The Democrats are hoping Republicans will get scared of being blamed for the issues that will arise with the debt ceiling not being raised and thus cave to their demands. Republicans must realize that turning of the road first might be the safer short term political play (though in the current climate that may not even be true), but it will ensure disaster for the country and constituents they serve. We can compromise about the size of cuts or exactly how to reform certain programs, but we cannot compromise on the fact that we need cuts and limited taxes. Furthermore, as the election of 2010 showed, the American people are on the Republican side of this issue as long as they are able to explain their position. In this game of chicken, Republicans are essentially driving a hummer and the Democrats are coming at them with a tiny hybrid (likely one of the ones we are forcing GM to make and no one wants to actually buy). There is no reason to fear them, instead Republicans should stay the course and get something done on behalf of the people they represent. Make Obama (who has been too pre-occupied with improving his handicap to directly participate in negotiations) and the Democrats decide whether they are going to turn or risk crashing into our hummer. The Democrats and President Obama have made it obvious that they have no intention of doing the right thing by themselves in the debt crisis, so the Republicans must force them into it. If Republicans hold firm and stay the course, they will not only win this game of chicken, but they will also save America in the process.

June 24, 1948

The Soviet Union initiated the Berlin Blockade, cutting off all of Berlin from the west. This blockade lasted almost a year, and the end result was the creation of two separate German states (they had just been “zones” before), and the official splitting of Berlin into East and West.

The west was able to counter the Berlin Blockade with the Berlin Airlift, which was used to carry food and supplies to the people in Berlin. The airlift’s success surprised the Soviets and strengthened the alliance of the western countries, which also lead to the forming of NATO.

Regarding Delta Airlines & Jews

I have some thoughts about this story that, at least for now, put me in direct opposition to many of my friends. First, a little background to make sure everyone’s on the same page.

Yesterday my twitter feed was buzzing with a story printed in both World Net Daily and USAToday regarding Delta Airlines partnering with Saudi Arabian Airlines. The USAToday story has since been removed, but the WND story can be found here. Basically, it says that Jews will not be allowed into flights into Saudi Arabia.

Delta, realizing they had a PR nightmare on their hands issued the following statement, included in its entirety.

We’ve gotten questions today from you, our concerned customers, following an article about Saudi Arabian Airlines joining SkyTeam (the global airline alliance that includes Delta as a member). After listening to many of your thoughts today, we’d like to take this opportunity to share some information and help to clarify some of the questions we know you have.

First and foremost, I think one of the most important things to mention here is that Delta does not discriminate nor do we condone discrimination against anyone in regards to age, race, nationality, religion, or gender.

That said, some have raised questions about whether Saudi Arabian Airlines’ membership in SkyTeam means Delta is adopting any type of policies that could present barriers to travel for some passengers, including Jewish customers. For this particular concern, it’s important to realize that visa requirements to enter any country are dictated by that nation’s government, not the airlines, and they apply to anyone entering the country regardless of whether it’s by plane, bus or train.

We, like all international airlines, are required to comply with all applicable laws governing entry into every country we serve. You as passengers are responsible for obtaining the necessary travel documents, such as visas and certification of required vaccinations, and we’re responsible for making sure that you have the proper documentation before you board.

On a personal note, I want to share with you all that I’m proud to work at a global airline that serves a diverse customer base with an extremely diverse workforce, and I hope this blog has helped answer your questions on this important topic.

Trebor Banstetter

Delta Media Team

I read that, and tweeted that, in my mind, this exonerates them to some degree. They claim that they’re merely complying with Saudi Arabia’s travel restrictions and that you’d face the same travel restrictions no matter how you entered Saudi Arabia.

To borrow from our esteemed President. Let me be clear. If Delta’s statement is true (and I have no reason to believe that it isn’t), and that the Saudis do not allow Jews to travel in their country, then that is reprehensible. Before the statement from Delta, many people in my timeline were saying that Delta’s decision was reprehensible as well. Afterwards, the outcry diminished a little, but not much, pointing out that Delta doesn’t have to fly there, so their behavior is still reprehensible. That’s probably true.

Often stories go viral on the internet and stir up quite a bit of anger and frustration. This is certainly one of those times. Nearly as often though, there’s little accompanying research with the story. This also appears to be one of those times. My concern isn’t that Delta is being accused of deplorable behavior, but that they are being singled out.

I did a tiny bit of research. Not much. More needs to be done. What I did was to go to travelocity.com and look for flights from my local airport (IND) to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (RUH). I searched for a round trip from July 20-July 27. I found flights from the following airlines into Riyadh: Lufthansa, Etihad, and Qatar. In addition, the following airlines link with Saudi Arabian Airlines, Emeriates, or EgyptAir for flights into Riyadh: Delta, American Airlines, Air France, and US Airways.

From this I conclude one of four things is true:

  1. There are no travel restrictions for Jews into Saudi Arabia, and this whole this is nothing but hot air.
  2. There are travel restrictions and Delta is lying about who is to blame.
  3. There are travel restrictions and other airlines are ignoring them.
  4. There are travel restrictions and other airlines are complying as well and Delta is being unfairly singled out.

The last one seems by far the most likely to me. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to attack Delta over this. If you feel that this is wrong, attack them. Just make sure that you’re not caught up in the heat of the moment and are armed with facts, and are not singling out Delta for behavior that may not be unique.

However, if my interpretation is incorrect, and Delta does deserve to be singled out, then I will gladly post an update and jump on the bandwagon with you. Until then, I prefer to wait and see how this all plays out.

23 June, 2011

The Same Failed Policies Of The Past

How many times have you heard a Democrat say that with respect to Republican economic plans? Well a search for “same failed policies of the past” (in quotes) on Bing yields 76,600,000 results. The number one hit is a page entitled “Vote Democrat”. So, I’m guessing they’ve mentioned it once or twice.

What are these same failed policies? Well, they tend to bring up that comment whenever a Republican says something about “tax cuts” and “growing the economy”. Liberals seem to think that tax cuts do not grow the economy. In fact, using Bing once again, this time searching for “tax cuts do not” yields another 44,200,000 results. A quick scan shows that phrase typically followed by “pay for themselves”, “create jobs”, and “increase revenue”. So, I think I’m on the right track.

They point to the relatively weak growth from 2003 to 2007 as the basis for their argument, completely ignoring the economic growth after taxes were cut in the 90s and the economic growth after taxes were cut in the 80s. It is important to note that while the growth during the mid 2000s was weak, that it was sustained. We had 52 consecutive months of job growth. And yes, that is a record. In fact, while tax cuts have not always lit the economy on fire (more on why that might be in a later post), it’s difficult to find a time when the economy did not improve after tax cuts. This has been proven at both the state level and the federal level.

But there are some policies that have been tried multiple times and are nearly unique in their complete record of abject failure. These are raising taxes, increasing debt past 90% of GDP, and government funded “stimulus”. I’ve covered the last of these three in a previous post, so I’ll just talk about the other two today.

The first should be obvious, but I’ll elaborate a tiny bit (this will also be covered in more detail in that same later post). Taxes increase the cost of doing business. Anything that increases the cost of doing business reduces the amount of funds available for business growth. Simple logic dictates that limiting funds available for growth would then limit growth itself. No, I’m not going to provide any links or studies that prove this. I’m not even sure there are any. If you’re incapable of grasping this simple point, then you are incapable of even the most basic understanding of capitalism.

That leaves us with the second one, high debt to GDP ratio. Look at the pic below:

The picture paints a couple trillion words, and is from this McClatchy write up of a National Bureau of Economic Research report entitled “Growth in a Time of Debt”. The report looks at 200 years of economic data from 44 different countries. The whole thing is worth a read, but I’ll include a couple key excerpts.

Above 90 percent, median growth rates fall by one percent, and average growth falls considerably more. We find that the threshold for public debt is similar in advanced and emerging economies. Second, emerging markets face lower thresholds for external debt (public and private)—which is usually denominated in a foreign currency. When external debt reaches 60 percent of GDP, annual growth declines by about two percent; for higher levels, growth rates are roughly cut in half. Third, there is no apparent contemporaneous link between inflation and public debt levels for the advanced countries as a group (some countries, such as the United States, have experienced higher inflation when debt/GDP is high.) The story is entirely different for emerging markets, where inflation rises sharply as debt increases.


The simplest connection between public debt and growth is suggested by Robert Barro (1979). Assuming taxes ultimately need to be raised to achieve debt sustainability, the distortionary impact imply is likely to lower potential output. As for inflation, an obvious connection stems from the fact that unanticipated high inflation can reduce the real cost of servicing the debt. Of course, the efficacy of the inflation channel is quite sensitive to the maturity structure of the debt. Whereas long-term nominal government debt is extremely vulnerable to inflation, short term debt is far less so. Any government that attempts to inflate away the real value of short term debt will soon find itself paying much higher interest rates when it comes time to refinance.


Over the past two centuries, debt in excess of 90 percent has typically been associated with mean growth of 1.7 percent versus 3.7 percent when debt is low (under 30 percent of GDP), and compared with growth rates of over 3 percent for the two middle categories (debt between 30 and 90 percent of GDP).

So, what is the current U.S. debt to GDP ratio? According to USDebtClock.org, it’s about 97.9% as I type this.


All of this information is easily obtainable. One can assume that most member of Congress or at least their staff have this sort of thing and more at their fingertips.

97.9% puts us squarely in the danger zone. A logical person is probably thinking at this point that we need to work at getting out of the danger zone in order to grow the economy. But politicians are not known for being logical…

So, what do the Dems propose? The same things that were tried in the 1930s that didn’t work. The same things they’ve been trying for the last two years. The same things that have been tried and failed all over Europe.

  1. Government stimulus
  2. Higher taxes
  3. Higher debt

Or, as I prefer to call it, the same failed policies of the past.

June 23, 2005

The Kelo v. City of New London case was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. In a stunning 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that eminent domain could be used by private interests to further economic development.

Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. 469 (2005)[1] was a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States involving the use of eminent domain to transfer land from one private owner to another to further economic development. The case arose from the condemnation by New London, Connecticut, of privately owned real property so that it could be used as part of a comprehensive redevelopment plan which promised 3,169 new jobs and $1.2 million a year in tax revenues. The Court held in a 5–4 decision that the general benefits a community enjoyed from economic growth qualified such redevelopment plans as a permissible "public use" under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote the dissenting opinion which was joined by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas:

The dissenting opinion suggested that the use of this taking power in a reverse Robin Hood fashion— take from the poor, give to the rich— would become the norm, not the exception:

Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.

She argued that the decision eliminates "any distinction between private and public use of property — and thereby effectively delete[s] the words 'for public use' from the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment." 125 S.Ct. 2655, 2671

Clarence Thomas also penned a separate originalist dissent, in which he argued that the precedents the court's decision relied upon were flawed and that "something has gone seriously awry with this Court's interpretation of the Constitution." He accuses the majority of replacing the Fifth Amendment's "Public Use" clause with a very different "public purpose" test:

This deferential shift in phraseology enables the Court to hold, against all common sense, that a costly urban-renewal project whose stated purpose is a vague promise of new jobs and increased tax revenue, but which is also suspiciously agreeable to the Pfizer Corporation, is for a 'public use.'

Thomas also made use of the argument presented in the NAACP/AARP/SCLC/SJLS amicus brief on behalf of three low-income residents' groups fighting redevelopment in New Jersey, noting:

Allowing the government to take property solely for public purposes is bad enough, but extending the concept of public purpose to encompass any economically beneficial goal guarantees that these losses will fall disproportionately on poor communities. Those communities are not only systematically less likely to put their lands to the highest and best social use, but are also the least politically powerful.[11]

21 June, 2011

The Obligatory ‘Huntsman Is In’ Post

So, former Governor Jon Huntsman (R-UT) officially announced his candidacy for the Presidency of the United States today. The MSM likes to pump him up, but I suspect that the reaction of most voters in Iowa and New Hampshire will be the same as mine was when I first heard he was considering a run.


Yeah. Anyway, here’s the vid.

Ok, MSM, I Give Up

You’re right. We can’t allow someone this stupid in the White House.

Mr. Pinko presents: The Ultimate SARAH PALIN is a MORON video.



(yes, I know…you’ve already seen it elsewhere…still, this deserves to be here).

Hey, Who Needs A Budget?

I have a friend whose tagline on his IM account is “Liberalism is a mental disease”. I believe he’s right. Certainly you’d have to have your wires crossed somewhere to honestly believe this.


I’m speechless. I don’t even know how to respond. Ok, Bill, here’s just ONE of the hundreds of responses that are flying through my head right now. Investors hate uncertainty. Businesses hate uncertainty. It keeps investors on the fence, and keeps businesses from hiring. If you’re actually worried about the economy, one simple thing Democrats could do right away would be to propose an actual budget!!!!!!

20 June, 2011

I’m Not Worried About The Debt Ceiling Anymore

Ok, that might be an exaggeration. But it’s definitely dropped farther down my worry list. Much farther.

Why? Because it’s too late to worry about it. Speaker Boehner could agree to a debt ceiling increase to $30 trillion tomorrow (the current limit is about $14.3 trillion) and it wouldn’t matter all that much. The debt crisis isn’t coming. It’s here.

As I’m sure you know, recently several credit organizations have threatened to lower the United States’ credit rating from AAA, including Moody’s and Standard & Poor. S&P even went a little farther than just threatening and lowered the outlook from ‘stable’ to ‘negative’.  The Moody’s statement does say a bit about the debt ceiling, but it’s what else they say that’s important (emphasis mine).

Moody's Investors Service said today that if there is no progress on increasing the statutory debt limit in coming weeks, it expects to place the US government's rating under review for possible downgrade, due to the very small but rising risk of a short-lived default. If the debt limit is raised and default avoided, the Aaa rating will be maintained. However, the rating outlook will depend on the outcome of negotiations on deficit reduction. A credible agreement on substantial deficit reduction would support a continued stable outlook; lack of such an agreement could prompt Moody's to change its outlook to negative on the Aaa rating.

The bold area mirrors what S&P said exactly. The credit agencies aren’t just worried about the current debt limit, but about the future ability of the United States to pay it’s debt. And they’re right to be so. Unless we both a) grow the economy, and b) make serious progress in reigning in government spending, we won’t be able to pay our debt. A point I’ve made before.

UPDATE: @drewwill points out that I should say that the credit agencies are also and possibly primarily worried about the risk of the no political deal occurring, thus forcing the U.S. to default. I was a little sloppy here and left that out, as I really don’t think that is going to happen. There are still things Bernanke can do to buy us more time, and in the end, Congress will raise the debt limit. Boehner may try to get as much out of it as he can, but he knows that in the end, the limit will be raised. Still, this is a risk that Moody’s and S&P examine, and it’s in the quote above “very small but rising risk of a short-lived default”.

So, what happens when credit agencies get skittish about the ability of a debtor to pay off it’s debts? The investors get skittish as well. Which finally brings me to my point. As I predicted back at the beginning of May:

It won’t matter how high we raise our debt ceiling, if we can’t get anyone to buy our debt.

As Ed Morrissey says:

We are rapidly approaching a moment of truth.  While we debate the finer points of raising debt limits and calculating just how many hundreds of billions of dollars in annual deficits we’ll tolerate, the truth is that the money to fund any deficit spending may soon run out.  Fiscal sanity may wind up being imposed on us if we don’t choose that path willingly.

We’re there. Right now. Today. China isn’t buying anymore of our debt, and is trying to dump what it already has. Japan isn’t buying any. And now Russia plans to lower its U.S. debt holdings according to the Wall Street Journal.

Everyone thinks the problem will be when the credit agencies lower our credit rating. They keep talking about what will happen then, interest rate increases, economic woes, etc. I’m sorry to be the one to say this, but that’s the optimistic outlook. We don’t hit the crisis when our credit rating is lowered, but when investors pull out over that fear. In other words, now. We are at the tipping point. The debt ceiling is no longer the crisis. Our ability to pay off our debt is.

In just a few days, QE2 will end. More and more people are expecting a QE3.  Unless we get the economy moving, and take steps to reduce our future debt, the investors aren’t coming back.  Frankly, I put the likelihood of either of these occurring before January, 2013 at very close to 0. And, until the investors come back, then we are facing either forced austerity or a succession of QE’s, each less successful than the last. Or possibly some combination. None of these scenarios will be at all pleasant to live through. You may to start hearing the words “Great Depression” and/or “Weimar Republic” often. Or possibly, “Greece”.

Europe is a doom-monger's paradise at the moment. Riots in Greece; summary Cabinet reshuffles; meetings between Merkel and Sarkozy to save the single currency — and there's still the potential for things to get worse, much worse. If the Greek government defaults on its debts, then there's no knowing where the contagion will spread, only that it it will spread wide: from Spain and Portugal to markets across the world. Share indices have already been trembling at the prospect, although many of them rallied slightly today.

One consolation, however scant, is that all this crystallises just what can happen to governments who operate beyond their means. Indeed, this seems to be the point that Jean-Claude Trichet, the President of the European Central Bank, makes in an interview with the Times (£) today. As he puts it, "We were not at ease with the idea that, in the heat of the crisis, all countries were called to spend as much as possible, embark on deficits as much as possible." And he concludes the argument with a sober warning: "I believe that the tensions we are observing in Europe today are part of a much more global phenomenon."

And we can look to the riots in Greece as an example of what will happen here when forced austerity happens. People tend not to like it all that much when their free handouts disappear. Greece and several countries in the EU, as well as the United States have arrived at Margaret Thatcher’s predicted socialistic crisis.

Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money. It's quite a characteristic of them.

I suppose we can take some solace in the fact that as we go down, we’ll take down most of the rest of the world with us. The whole world depends on American dollars. Misery loves company, after all. The unspoken corollary to that statement, however, is “company does not reciprocate”.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that I’m just being overly pessimistic today. President Barack Obama (D-USA) and the Democrats in Congress (and even a lot of the Republicans) seem to think so, and surely they’re smarter than me, right?


June 20, 1975

You’re gonna need a bigger boat.

The motion picture “Jaws” was released in the United States on this day.

Jaws created the “summer blockbuster” and forever changed how movies were marketed and released.

Jaws was the first film to successfully use "wide release" as a distribution pattern. As such, it is an important film in the history of film distribution and marketing.[38] Until the release of Jaws, films typically opened slowly, usually in a few theaters in major cities, which allowed for a series of "premieres." As the success of a film increased, and word of mouth grew, distributors would forward the prints to additional cities across the country. Some films eventually achieved a wide release, such as The Godfather, but even that blockbuster had originally debuted in just five theaters.[39]

Jaws was the first film to successfully open nationwide on hundreds of screens simultaneously, coupled with a national marketing campaign—a then-unheard of practice. (A month earlier, Columbia had done the same with a Charles Bronson thriller, Breakout, but the box office was middling at best.) The film became the first to use extensive television advertising.[40] The media blitz "included approximately twenty-five thirty-second advertisements per night on prime-time network TV" between 18–20 June 1975.[38] Universal executive Sidney Sheinberg's rationale was that nationwide marketing costs would be amortized at a more favorable rate per print than if a slow, scaled release were carried out. Sheinberg's gamble paid off, with Jaws becoming a box office smash hit and the father of the summer blockbuster.[41][42

19 June, 2011

June 19, 1862 & 1964

The U.S. Congress passed the Law Enacting Emancipation in the Federal Territories, forever making slavery illegal in the United States and its territories.

CHAP. CXI.–An Act to secure Freedom to all Persons within the Territories of the United States.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That from and after the passage of this act there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the Territories of the United States now existing, or which may at any time hereafter be formed or acquired by the United States, otherwise than in punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.

APPROVED, June 19, 1862.

Exactly 102 years later, to the day, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed in the Senate, overcoming an 83 day filibuster led by Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV). It will be signed by President Lyndon Johnson (D-USA) on July 2.

June 19, 1910

Father’s Day is celebrated in the United States for the first time in Spokane, Washington.

Modern Father's Day was invented by Sonora Smart Dodd, born in Arkansas, who was also the driving force behind its establishment. Her father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who reared his six children in Spokane, Washington.[5] She was inspired by Anna Jarvis's efforts to establish Mother's Day. Although she initially suggested June 5, her father's birthday, she did not provide the organizers with enough time to make arrangements, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dad’s out there, mine most of all. Hope your day is great, Dad. Sorry I can’t be there today. But will call.