Date ►►► December 31, 2011
My Biggest Blogging Mistake of 2011,
viz the Trend Pioneered at Patterico's Pantaloons
Over at my erstwhile blog -- I mean the blog at which I used to guest blog, erstwhilishly -- the mononymous Karl has invented a wonderful new means of self-criticism: He urges all bloggers and mainscream journalists to "audit their own work":
I think it is a healthy development that more bloggers are taking the slow news period at year’s end to audit their own work. It is a practice that ought to be adopted more by those in the establishment media who are actually paid for the opinions and predictions. Thus, it seemed only fair that I promote the trend by auditing my own 2011 blogging.
After laying the ground rules, Karl's post rises in crimson crescendo to the climax, where Karl finally reveals "My biggest blogging error in 2011." ("My" in this case means his, Karl's; Karl makes no attempt to elucidate my, Dafydd's, biggest blogging error.) He concludes:
In sum, my biggest blogging error in 2011 was failing to recognize how easy it is to make the basic mistakes of punditry -- straight-line projections and letting one's personal preference color one's analysis -- even when consciously trying to avoid them. These are lessons establishment pundits could take to heart without auditing their work each year -- but it helps.
I think this a wonderful trend or fashion, and I will do my gol-durndest to support it. Thus, taking a deep breath, here it is -- my pledge to you, gentle readers.
I hereby vow, without misdirection, non-sequitur, or weasely equivocation, that I shall follow the progress of Karl, as he audits his own posts in search of the worst, with great and abiding interest.
There! Never let it be said that an ab Hugh was incapable of introspection -- anent other people's gaffes. (Or would that be extrospection?)
Date ►►► December 28, 2011
Okay, Folks, Time to Get Real
On November 6th, we will hold an election. This is an election, not a debate, not a head-cutting contest, not a demonstration of ideological purity über alles: Two men will be nominated, and one of them will take the oath of office on January 20th, 2013.
Anybody here actually want to see the current Occupier get another term?
I like Newt Gingrich. I like Rick Perry. I like Cain, Bachmann, and I even like Ron Paul (as a dinner guest). But it's time to put away childish things; we must put on our manly gowns, gird our loins, and pull up our socks.
Among those actually running, there is one and only one presidential candidate for the Republican Party who is actually presidential; his name is Mitt Romney.
Romney is not my fantasy candidate; that would be Marco Rubio or George Prescott Bush (neither of whom would I actually vote for next year; too young and callow, they are). But Romney is the same candidate I pushed for, unsuccessfully, in 2008 -- I think he would have beaten Barack H. Obama, as it turns out; and I'm pushing him again.
The only other vaguely viable candidate at the moment is Newt... and I'm quite convinced that if Newt Gingrich is our nominee, President B.O. will waft across the country for another four years. Gingrich has so many soft spots that virtually any random attack on the Newtster will draw blood. They could accuse him of being a bank robber, a penguin, and a militant agnostic ("I don't know whether God exists, and neither do you!")... and they'd likely find three or four skeletons in his closet that buttress those charges.
So I'm joining Power Line's John Hinderacker and many other AntiLiberals in urging all conservatives, Capitalists, constitutionalists, Republicans, libertarians, neocons, and other lovers of liberty and individualism to put the toys back in the toychest and throw our support to Mitt Romney.
He wins. Every other GOP candidate likely loses. It's not worth the price to roll the dice for the sake of "purity of essence."
Vote for Romney; let's break up the circular firing sqad and instead unite against the corrupt, despotic, and ideologically insane Obama.
All right, I'm done. Anybody got an actual beef with my central point?
Date ►►► December 25, 2011
Did You Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas?
What was the question again?
Date ►►► December 20, 2011
On the Road 1 - Make 'Em Gaffe, Make 'Em Gaffe
Everybody's talking about a huge political gaffe, a typically goofy malstatement by (surprise!) Vice President "Slow" Joe Biden:
"The Taliban, per se, is not our enemy," Biden told Newsweek, for an article published today. "There is not a single statement that the president has ever made in any of our policy assertions that the Taliban is our enemy because it threatens U.S. interests."
But that's just more Biden inanity, and we've already factored that tendency into the equation. I'm far more infuriated by an entirely different gaffe that's quoted in the same article, one that I managed to miss last May, when President Barack H. "Bubble Boy" Obama himself included it in his speech crowing about having killed Osama bin Laden.
The Newsmax article truncates Obama's quotation; so to be perfectly fair, here is the complete context from the CNN transcript (May 2nd) of Obama's "gaffe," using the Michael Kinsley definition of "inadvertently blurting out the truth":
Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we've made great strides in that effort. We've disrupted terrorist attacks and strengthened our homeland defense. In Afghanistan, we removed the Taliban government, which had given bin Laden and al Qaeda safe haven and support. And around the globe, we worked with our friends and allies to capture or kill scores of al Qaeda terrorists, including several who were a part of the 9/11 plot.
In this particular paragraph, Obama leaves himself just enough wiggle room with the phrase "over the last 10 years" to dodge the charge of narcissism bordering on delusion. He might (plausibly) deny that he meant that he, President B.O., was personally responsible for "remov[ing] the Taliban government" from Afghanistan, a feat accomplished in 2001 by the United States of America during the presidency of George W. Bush.
But evidence later in that same speech indicates that in the mind of the current Occupier of la Casa Blanca, it's always all about Obama. Here is some more fun and games from that same speech:
Yet Osama bin Laden avoided capture and escaped across the Afghan border into Pakistan. Meanwhile, al Qaeda continued to operate from along that border and operate through its affiliates across the world.
And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network. [Note well that he uses both "I" and "we" in a single sentence to refer to the same subject: Barack H. Obama.]
Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.
Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.
Reality check (which beats "mic check" hands down): In the real world, President Bush ordered the killing of bin Laden ten years ago; he made it a "top priority," while he also "continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network." "Painstaking work by our intelligence community" came up with many, many "possible leads." Bush "met repeatedly" with our national-security team (not Bush's personal team; and neither does the One have a personal version of our national-security team). And on numerous occasions, Bush "determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice." It was Bush, after all, who coined the phrase that we would either "bring bin Laden to justice -- or bring justice to bin Laden."
Yet over and over, Obama assumes the mantle of Nimrod the mighty hunter, single-handedly killing bin Laden with his bare hands. (And over and over, the president pro tempore conflates himself -- "I" -- with the entire country, "we." Or perhaps it's merely the royal "we.")
The speech begins by ostensibly talking about America, not Himself. But he segues so seamlessly and quickly into "talking 'bout me" that one cannot take seriously the "modesty" of the opening few sentences. The ego-stroking starts up right quick and never quits until Obama runs out of teleprompter.
Ergo, I am quite convinced that from the very first words, in Obama's own mind, he's actually braying the personal triumphalism and self-glorification that has marked his public utterances since the year dot:
- When he announced that his election would lead to the oceans receding and the Earth cooling.
- When he declared that we are the ones we have been waiting for.
- When he gloried in winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, before he had a single significant accomplishment for "peace" -- other than announcing
surrenderunilateral withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, regardless of the status of the wars or the imminence of achieving our victory conditions; and his breathless announcement -- loudly cheered but since then discarded like a used Kleenex -- that he would close Guantanamo Bay within a year of his inauguration.
Therefore, given the totality of the evidence, I conclude that Obama truly believes that he, himself, kicked the Taliban out of Afghanistan... just as he is the One who set the machinery in motion to kill bin Laden, while that lox, George W. Bush, cowered in a corner and did nothing.
(Sidebar: On 9/11 itself, the very day, the co-worker of an acquaintance of mine -- a very liberal woman -- announced, "I blame Bush; he's a do-nothing president." Then she shrugged and went back to work. That's so leftin'!)
As so many have said so many times, November 2012 can't come soon enough. I just hope that the American people don't back away from what they seem to understand today: that Barack Obama is an unmitigated disaster on the American economy, feckless on national-security (notwithstanding being the guy on watch when the U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden), and an utter catastrophe on health care, labor policy, the environment, energy, diplomacy, judicial appointments, and indeed every domestic and foreign policy to which he has turned his lidless eye.
I still fear that at the last moment, Americans might get so frightened by the looming crises -- so many! -- that they turn to the nearest "strongman," the chest-beating Obama, the man who created or exacerbated our problems in the first place... and beg him to take command, like Hugo Chavez, to save them from their own liberty.
Date ►►► December 15, 2011
Salt or Cyanide?
Believe it or not, sodium chloride -- table salt -- is not a deadly poison. I have it on the highest authority. In fact, it's a vital substance for human existence.
But lately, America seems to believe the opposite: that sodium chloride is indistinguishable from sodium cyanide, and just a few grains of it will kill you. At least, so I infer from the fact that, in virtually every restaurant I frequent, I must salt (and pepper) my own food; evidently, seasoning has become a crime.
I suspect the syllogism goes something like this:
- There are some people who have high blood pressure or other medical conditions that make it dangerous for them to consume more than the bare minimum of salt required to live.
- Such people might, if they're not particularly bright, accidentally eat too much salt in restaurant food. They might be too dim to ask about salt content or ask if there are low-salt items on the menu; or they might deliberately ignore all the best advice of the best, bestest experts and maliciously consume salt anyway.
- If they did so, then their hypertension might get worse. They could even die! (Prematurely, I mean; most of us expect to die eventually.)
- If that happens, either the victim or his next of kin could sue the restaurant for not preventing him from eating too much salt. Even if there's no lawsuit, surely it must be the restaurant's moral fault for not saving him from his own folly.
- Ergo, government must (a) regulate the recipes of all restaurants, or (b) at the very least make it much easier to collect damages for their own bad decisions, thus putting more and more restaurants out of business for serving deadly sodium chloride to unsuspecting customer-victims... pour encourager les autres, don't'cha know.
This lemma flies in the face of traditional Americanism, of course. Under what used to be the shared ideology of the United States, and still is the dominant one, we must assume that most individuals know enough about their own needs and circumstances to weigh, intelligently, the risks they take against the gains they buy -- pleasure, satisfaction, and fulfillment. Much more intelligently than can any small (compared to overall population) panel of experts hundreds or thousands of miles distant... and lightyears apart in worldview.
We don't need to be regulated out of salt, or Happy Meals, or lightbulbs, or exhalation (deadly carbon dioxide!); we need to be protected from the corrupt middlemen, the bean-counting regulators themselves. Or as we might say, Who regulates the regulators?
Liberals (or Progressivists, choose your poison) are natural regulators; it's in the blood! They want to regulate everything and everybody because, at core, they believe everybody else is simply too stupid to live.
But why should they think they're so much brainer? I hypothesize that they're convinced of their own superiority because, within the bubble in which they live, it's literally true... because they only hang around with fellow liberals.
It seems that even the Left is appalled by the unintelligence, irresponsibility, and dishonesty of their useful idiots! This social disability applies to every Democratic leader and liberal opinionmonger in America, certainly including President Barack H. "Bubble Boy" Obama himself: The Left hangs only with other lefties, so they believe that humanity is dirt stupid.
This simple truth also explains the Left's obsession with the "cult of youth," I believe. The cult of youth comprises not just those who are literally young but also those Lost Boys (and Lost Girls) who never grew up, despite their years; and it is coterminous with the culture of liberalism and Progressivism: a passel of impulsive, defiant, unthinking, entitled, narcissistic, dependent, nitpicky, and conveniently amnesiac "Philadelphia lawyers," always seeking the magic words that will exempt them from having to follow the same rules as everyone else and from the natural consequences of their idiocy.
In simple terms, liberalism is "teen logic" metastasized into an ideology. And that ideology has seized control of one of the two major political parties and is currently laying siege to the other. We should learn next year whether we shall force the Lost Guys and Gals to grow up, or put the inmates in charge of the asylum.
Salt or cyanide, the decision is in our hands.
Date ►►► December 7, 2011
Lefties Love the Static Quo!
California Gov. Edmund Gerald "Jerry" Brown, jr. (son of former California Gov. Edmund Gerald "Pat" Brown, sr.) is pushing hard for a big, punitive state income-tax hike on "the rich," meaning the top 1% -- who pay nearly 50% of California income tax.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (son of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo) just cut a deal to raise taxes an extra two percent (from 6.85% to 8.82%) on those earning $2 million per year or more.
And numerous other blue states are seeking to do the same... as is, of course, President Barack H. "Lucky Lefty" Obama (son of no one).
One thing all these economically challenged chief executives have in common is their inability -- or unwillingness -- to grok the idea of dynamic economic analysis, and their subsequent slavish devotion to static analysis. That is, they assume that a new tax policy will not itself alter people's tax-avoidance behavior. Or else they pretend to assume it, as it helps their duplicitous schemes; I lean towards the latter explanation.
Their real or feigned "reasoning" goes thus:
- We have a state income tax of 7% that brings in $10 billion.
- We have a budget shortfall of $2 billion.
- Therefore, all we need do is raise taxes to 8.4%; if 7% brings in $10 billion, then jacking it up by 20% of that 7% -- by 1.4% extra -- will surely bring in $12 billion.
- Problem solved! Q.E.D.
Leave aside for a moment the first obvious point: No such plan has ever or will ever allocate all the extra money to deficit reduction; even if it seems to do so and is actually written into the law, money is fungible... and the state legislature (or Congress) will simply increase other spending... thereby increasing the deficit by even more than it was reduced by revenue from the new tax. But we're not here to talk politics; let's just stick with the tax itself for a moment.
The syllogism above is a perfect gem of static analysis: The politicos argue (honestly or mendaciously) that if 7% raises $10 billion, then 8.4% will raise $12 billion. If we continue the argument, then a state income tax of 14% will raise $20 billion, 50% will raise $71 billion -- and if the state would only have the guts to raise its income tax to 100%, that would firehose a whopping $143 billion into the state coffers!!1!
Which points out (a) the absurdity of the naïve static hypothesis, and (b) the proper use of reductio ad absurdum.
It's clear to anyone with more than a couple neurons to rub together that any increase in tax rates will trigger people to engage in more tax-avoidance tactics. It's a no-brainer. And what socioeconomic group do you reckon is best equipped to legally avoid taxes? Yep, that's what I reckon, too: the rich.
For state income taxes, the absolute best tax-avoidance tactic is (drum roll) to move out of the high-tax state into a low- or no-tax state... of which there are plenty; they're called "red states." Until and unless Democrats begin requiring internal passports for travel -- any month now, I expect -- they can't stop the Evile Rich from fleeing California to repatriate in Nevada or Texas.
But beyond moving, the very, very successful also have the unique ability to restructure their revenue stream, shifting it, say, from ordinary income to capital gains, or from American sources to foreign sources, or to delay receipts until a more favorable tax situation presents itself. If need be, they can forgo salaries and such for years without feeling any pain, living off savings or just mooching off friends (who will expect reciprocity in their own time).
The ne plus ultras can engage in tax-reduction activities, taking advantage of "loopholes" that are, in reality, congressional subsidies to lure rich investors into otherwise unexciting ventures. The rich can get their friends to receive their income for a while, then pay it back later. And of course, the rich can afford legal beagles who are paid a hundred times as much as, and therefore are correspondingly cleverer than, the IRS's own pathetic, also-ran tax lawyers.
The ultra-rich are the very people that municipalities, counties, states, and even the feds are least able to reel back in state, should the designated victims decide they're being overtaxed. The Capitalists always win; in the long run, the invisible hand of the market beats the invisible foot of the government every time.
And if worse comes to worst, the little Monopoly guy can just buy a few more congressmen.
Ergo, since such surcharges on the rich are notoriously uncollectable, static economic analysis is as futile a gesture as passing a law declaring pi to be equal to 3.0 (which the state legislature of Indiana, I believe, nearly did); as futile as passing a law declaring that the United States will return to the carbon footprint it had in 1980. Trying to repeal the laws of economics is like trying to repeal entropy: You can make a good show of it for a geological microsecond; but in the end, you're left with nothing but a big bag of fully expanded hot air.
By contrast, those of us willing to use dynamic analysis -- where we assume that human beings will actually respond intelligently to stimuli -- then we already know what happens when states lower, rather than raise, their taxes, whether personal, business, or capital gains, as well as when states reduce regulations and defund the unions (including public-empoyee unions): Money, talent, genius, and especially people pour into the newly financially attractive state, the new free-trade zone; this in turn causes an economic sonic boom.
But don't expect any of that from elected liberals. I've long been convinced that they're neither stupid nor ignorant of economic laws; they just reject market reality and substitute their own, imposed by executive fiat.
That, in a nuthouse, is what Michael Barone means by calling Obamunism "gangster government."
Date ►►► December 5, 2011
Tax Takes a Holiday - Chicago Style
President Barack H. Obama believes that continuing the payroll tax cut is vital for the American economy:
"My message to the Congress is this: keep your word to the American people and don’t raise taxes on them right now," Obama said. "Now is not the time to step on the brakes. Now is the time to step on the gas. Now is the time to keep growing the economy, to keep creating jobs, to keep giving working Americans the boost that they need...."
Obama said that renewing the payroll tax cut is “important for the economy as a whole” because it will spur spending and hiring and help families pay their bills. But he noted that virtually every Senate Republican voted against his proposal to expand the payroll tax cuts, which he said would have given a typical working family a cut of about $1,500 next year.
...But only if it's "paid for" by enacting a gargantuan tax increase to punish successful people:
"Americans overwhelmingly support our proposal to ask millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share to help this country thrive," said Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), announcing that the new measure would be introduced by its sponsor, Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.). "Republicans in Congress dismiss it at their peril."
Got it: Now is not the time to raise taxes on Americans; now is the time to raise taxes on millionaires, who either aren't "American" -- or aren't "people." (We also learn that in Obamunism, "fair share" means paying exactly the same as what other people are paying, except a whole lot more.)
Just a thought, but if the payroll tax holiday is truly that urgent, has anybody considered paying for it by, you know, cutting spending? Oops, never mind; I'm embarassed I even asked. Forget I said anything.
Back to the Folies Obamère:
"Now, I know many Republicans have sworn an oath never to raise taxes as long as they live," he said. "How can it be the only time there’s a catch is when it comes to raising taxes on middle-class families? How can you fight tooth and nail to protect high-end tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and yet barely lift a finger to prevent taxes going up for 160 million Americans who really need the help? It doesn’t make sense."
But the inclusion of the tax on millionaires probably kills any chance for the new bill’s passage and is instead a sign that both parties are still working to score political points on the issue....
Still, Senate Democrats believe they have significant leverage on the issue.
They think the tax cut for workers is widely popular, as is their idea to pay for it with a surtax on millionaires. Already, one Republican, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, voted with 50 Democrats last week to extend the tax cut. Democrats think more might come along rather than risk repeatedly voting against a tax cut.
Gangster government at its most ruthless; it's "the Chicago Way." Or as Chicago's Gale Cincotta -- founder of National People's Action and chief radical architect of Jimmy Carter's Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 -- put it, prefiguring and perfectly encapsulating the essence of Obamunism: "We want it. They've got it. Let's go get it!"
Date ►►► December 4, 2011
A Very Public Caining
Right. So Herman Cain is O-U-T out, and we still don't know whether all the charges lodged against him, from sexual harassment to sexual battery, with a stop-over on the cheatin' side of town, are true; or whether some or perhaps the entirety are a fusillade of fabrications, phantasms, confabulations, and falsehoods.
But we will know -- and very soon, too. I have in mind an infallible test, one that the Godfather might not even realize he's taking.
There is little that a candidate for public office can do to punish a political operation that is savaging the principal. There just aren't enough hours in the day to (a) push a positive public-policy agenda for the voters, (b) respond to political attacks by competitors and launch his own counterattacks, and (c) chastise third-party liars and libelers clandestinely dispatched by ideological enemies.
He just has to shrug off (c) and hope that nobody believes the slanders anyway; he simply doesn't have the option of nuking the craven dastards properly -- that is, while he's still in the game scrambling for nomination or election.
But it's all topsy-turvey once a candidate drops out of the running. At that point, he has given up all hope of election this cycle... so he has nothing left to lose by crushing his tawdry traducers. In fact, if he is to run again in the future with any hope of success, he is obliged to clear his good name; else his next opponent will cheerfully resurrect the old and unanswered charges, jump-starting the scandal serenade once again. The once and never again candidate would be forever barred from running for president, governor, congressman, or Chairman of the Elves, Leprechauns, Gnomes, and Little Men's Chowder & Marching Society.
Thus we come to Mr. Cain, who abruptly announced yesterday that he is no longer in play to be President of the United States... who thus is also finally free to fully answer his accusers -- most specifically Miss Ginger White, a longtime "friend" who now claims to have engaged in a 13-year sex romp with the erstwhile CEO of Godfather Pizza.
And so at last we come to the test: Now that Cain has dropped out of the race, if he is an innocent victim of calumny, he must go after Miss White in court.
If Cain sues White for libel and slander, her only defense would be truth. She certainly cannot claim never to have said that they had a long-term affair; she said it on national TV. Nor can she claim that she caused him no damages; arguably, it cost him his shot at the presidency! Neither can she rely upon his status as a public figure (which of course he is), because she certainly knows for a fact whether they had an affair; therefore, if they did not, yet she said they did, then that would certainly satisfy the requirement of "actual malice."
No, no, and no; her only defense is to claim truth. But in such a case, my non-lawyer understanding is that truth is an "affirmative defense"... meaning the burden of proof shifts to the defendant, Miss White, to prove that they did indeed have an affair. Cain would not have to prove they didn't; White would have to prove that they did. If she could not, she would lose her case; White would be slapped with potentially ruinous damages, and more to the point, Herman Cain would be utterly vindicated.
In fact, although there is no logical connection, if a court were to find Miss White liable for libel, or if she 'fessed up and apologized, that verdict would cast grave doubt in most people's minds about all the other accusations against Cain as well; that's just how people think. If the worst charge against him is demolished as a mean-spirited, vicious falsehood, who's going to believe the lesser charges? Only those who never would have voted for him anyway.
Contrariwise, if the dame really can produce the complete cell-phone records she claims to have -- including the content of text messages and e-mails that show it really was an affair, not merely friendship -- then Cain himself would surely know it. In that case, he might make loud noises and wave his hands in the air, but he would never run the risk of actually filing a lawsuit he was destined to lose. Fighting such a high-profile case and losing it would crush his reputation far flatter than raging to the skies but avoiding a court of law like an atheist shies away from a cross.
So that is the acid test of Herman Cain's veracity and fidelity: Simpy put, if he files a charge of libel and slander in court and dares White to claim "truth" as a defense, then he is very likely innocent of the charges.
But if he fumfahs around, rattling the bars of his cage but never actually making a federal case out of it, then I will fairly conclude that he's guilty on all counts.
As I said, I reckon we'll know pretty soon; Cain's lawyer, Lin Wood, has already demanded those records from White; but he hasn't pulled the trigger yet. Now that Cain is a civilian once more, he's going to have to either fish or get off the pot.
And then we'll all know whether he was a man with a mission -- or a man with a secret.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
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