Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Idiots Just Never Quit

Anti-teleworkism! Another way to sue your boss: At least maybe if your boss is the federal government.
On December 9, President Obama signed into law the Telework Enhancement Act, a bill designed to increase telework among federal employees ...[T]he legislation gives federal agencies six months to establish a telework policy, ... Agency managers and employees are required to enter written telework agreements detailing their work arrangements and to receive telework training. Under the Act, teleworkers and non-teleworkers must be treated equally when it comes to performance appraisals, work requirements, promotions and other management issues. Each agency must designate a Telework Managing Officer, and must incorporate telework into its continuity of operations plan.
If the new law doesn't explicitly allow "teleworkers" to sue if they're passed over by promotion, it's not hard to see that possibility on the near horizon. Questions:

a) Do we think the Telework Enhancement Act will make the government more productive, or less? You used to at least have to show up at work. Things might then accidentally get done just because there was nothing else to do.

b) How much of the productivity savings from teleworking will be spent promulgating the agency "telework policies" required by the law, figuring out who is eligible, drawing up "telework agreements," and attending conferences on teleworking? Will you be able to telework all this new telework work?


d) If you really want to encourage telecommuting, then shouldn't you discourage the spread of a "no discrimination against teleworkers" rule to private industry? What employer will want to push telecommuting if that means he'll have to think twice before not promoting, let alone firing, an underperforming telecommuter (because it might mean a lawsuit)?
On the other hand, maybe we'd all be better off if government workers really didn't do anything.

Fire Them All

A simple solution to a simple problem.


Poetic Assessments

From an English film critic concerning various stars. A diverting read (and no, the assessments are not in the form of poems).


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Virtuoso Composers/Musicians. They're Poor Robot Mechanics. Therefore They Suck.

Is standard atheist/theistic evolutionist reasoning.

Refuted in comment here:
The whole problem with the TE argument is that it is a fallacy of analogy.

It is using the “Artificer Analogy” as the standard. Who’s the better engineer? An engineer that can design a machine that that fix itself or an engineer that has to constantly fix what he made?

But what happens if we change the analogy of God to creation to that of a musician and his instrument?

Who would be a better musician, a musician that plays the instrument perpetually so that the notes form an endless masterpiece or a musician that played a single note on the instrument and then just stared at the instrument?

Or even better: what would happen if we changed the analogy to that of a drama writer and his play? Even better: he’s not just the writer of the drama, he’s also the director and the main protagonist.

Which would be better, a writer/director/main protagonist that was constantly doing all three duties at once forming the play of history that will be memorable for eternity or a writer/director/main protagonist that writes the first line, directs himself onstage, and says one line, “Let there be…” and walks offstage never to be heard from again?

The problem with the Artificer Analogy is not that it’s wrong, it’s that it is only a partially correct analogy. The relationship of God to His creation is so much more than all of the analogies listed above.

The Conversion Story Is Missing

Excellent American Thinker piece.

Our Tax System Is Quite Unfair

But not in the way that leftist delusions would assume:
FLEECED: The upper 1% earned 19.6% of total income before tax, and paid 41% of the individual federal income tax. “No other major country is so dependent on so few taxpayers.”

I Second His Advice

Charles Hugh Smith on why the cash dollar is your best investment.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Jig Is Up

The Fed has lost its mojo and The Century-Long Scam is nearly at its end.

Good article.

Amateur Eclipse Time-Lapse

Don't miss this.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Abysmal Ignorance

I took after the journalist Richard Wolffe for criticizing Sarah Palin on MSNBC. Palin said she had found inspiration in the works of C.S. Lewis. Wolffe derided her for finding inspiration in children's literature. Wolffe was ignorant of Lewis's vast corpus, including many works of popular Christian apologetics. I reviewed Lewis's works and concluded that Wolffe didn't know Jack.

I think Palin was referring to one or more of Lewis's books of religious reflections for adults, but I am interested in knowing what book(s) she was referring to. I wish someone would raise the question with her and get an answer.

The idiotic Joy Behar appears on ABC and elsewhere, but she apparently gets the news from MSNBC. She criticized Palin last week for finding inspiration in children's literature. Watching MSNBC, Behar has become almost as smart as Richard Wolffe!


Friday, December 17, 2010

The First Rule Of Journalistic Ethics

Never let the facts get in the way of a story.

CORRECTING OUR NEWSPAPERS: “‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ is not ‘the military’s policy.’ It is a federal law, 10 U.S.C. Sec. 654. DADT was imposed on the military by Congress. This mistake is made by reporters frequently, but that does not excuse it.”

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Worst Of The Quislings In The GOP Actually Listened To Reason

Some Americans might be under the impression that they just watched a lame duck Congress engage in a lame-o budget fight. But Senate Republicans' stunning defeat [tonight] of the Democrats' omnibus spending bill was anything but boring.

What our great nation just watched was the Democratic Party preview its political strategy for the next two years. It also watched a united Senate GOP defeat that approach, though not before a handful of Republicans considered walking straight into the Democratic trap. The whole episode was an early peek at the GOP's biggest challenge going forward.

That challenge is, as it always is, spending. Republicans lost in 2006 primarily because of their profligacy, and they won this year primarily because they swore off that profligacy. It's that simple—and don't think Democrats don't know it. President Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi understand that the surest, quickest and most delicious way to undermine their opponents is to tempt them into renouncing their own promises of fiscal responsibility. The added beauty is that Democrats continue to get exactly what they want: bigger government.

This week Democrats unveiled a $1.2 trillion omnibus, legislation as pure an insult to the electorate as it gets. It was a 1,924-page monstrosity that nobody had time to read. It took 11 spending bills that Democrats couldn't be bothered to pass individually and crammed them into one oozing ball of pork and bad policy, going beyond even the obscene budget of 2010.

Yet to this legislative Frankenstein Democrats carefully attached the spenders' equivalent of crack cocaine. To wit, omnibus author and Hawaii Democrat Daniel Inouye dug up earmark requests that Senate Republicans had made in the past year (prior to their self-imposed ban) and, unasked, included them in the bill. He lavished special, generous attention—$1 billion worth of it—on some reliable GOP earmark junkies: Mississippi's Thad Cochran got $512 million; Utah's Bob Bennett, $226 million; Maine's Susan Collins, $114 million; Missouri's Kit Bond, $102 million; Ohio's George Voinovich, $98 million; and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, $80 million.

The effect of this dope—just sitting there, begging for a quick inhale—on earmarkers was immediate. Two seconds into the sweats and shaking hands, nine Republicans let Mr. Reid know they'd be open to this bill.

Democrats were euphoric. An omnibus victory, they knew, would subject Republicans to an ugly PR hit. True, the omnibus would pass primarily with Democratic votes. But the headlines would focus on the handful of Republicans who provided the final votes and undermined the GOP's spending message. GOP support for this bill would also tarnish what goodwill Republicans earned for their self-imposed earmark ban.

Better yet, Republican earmarkers would be providing President Obama and Democrats a giant policy victory, undercutting House Republicans before they even got the gavel. Everyone in Washington understands that the most powerful tool that Republicans gained in this election was control over spending bills.


That didn't happen, but only because Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell accomplished a mini Christmas miracle. The Kentuckian devoted yesterday to making the arguments—both principled and political—to the Spending Nine. He was ultimately persuasive enough, and the earmarkers wise enough, to pull back their support. A very unhappy Mr. Reid was forced to yank the omnibus last night. He will now work with Republicans on a short-term funding bill, a process that should give the incoming GOP House far more influence over upcoming spending decisions.

And the lesson for Republicans (yet again)? Unity and principle rule. Mr. McConnell held his members against ObamaCare, and won an election. He held them on taxes, and forced President Obama to help the economy. And this week, by holding together on something equally straightforward—a promise of fiscal responsibility—Republicans turned what could have been a black eye into a bitter humiliation for Mr. Reid and other supporters of an irresponsible spending blowout.

A Sound Trashing Of The One


“When The Communists Show Up To Protest The Nazis, You’re Supposed To Pray For An Asteroid, Not Pick A Favourite.”

Quite an interesting (and unusually lengthy) Instapundit post.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pertinent Questions

Next, I posed this question to Chris Hayes on Twitter, so I’ll pose to those of you who read this site who are outraged by the Hudson ruling: Putting aside what’s codified Bill of Rights, which was ratified after the main body of the Constitution, do you believe the Constitution puts any restrictions on the powers of the federal government?

If your answer is yes, what restrictions would those be? And what test would you use to determine what the federal government can and can’t do? I’ve written this before, but after Wickard, Raich, and now, if you support it, the health insurance mandate, it’s hard to see what’s left that would be off-limits. I mean, during her confirmation hearings, Elena Kagan couldn’t even bring herself to say that it would be unconstitutional for the federal government to force us to eat vegetables every day. (She did say it would be bad policy — but that’s a hell of a lot different.)

If your answer is no, that is, that the Constitution puts no real restraints on the federal government at all, why do you suppose they bothered writing and passing one in the first place? I suppose an alternate answer might be that the Constitution does place restrictions on the federal government, but those restrictions have become anachronistic given the size of the country, the complexity of modern society, and so on. To which my follow-up question would be, do you believe there should be any restrictions on the powers of the federal government? Let’s say, again, beyond those laid out in the Bill of Rights.

I guess to get at the meat of the disagreement, I should ask one more: Do you buy into the idea that the people delegate certain, limited powers to the government through the Constitution, or do you believe that the government can do whatever it wants, save for a few restrictions outlined in the Constitution? It’s not an unimportant distinction. I’m not sure it’s consistent to believe that the government gets its power from the people, but the people have gone ahead and given the government the power to do whatever it wants.

I’m not trying to be cute. I’m genuinely interested in how people on the left answer these questions. Rep. Pete Stark, a liberal Democrat, said a few months ago that he believes there are no constitutional restrictions on what the Congress can do. To hear from a sitting Congressman was refreshingly honest. And terrifying.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why, It's Just Like Auto Insurance!

Ed Morrissey:
This is such a bad argument that it staggers the imagination why the administration would still be making it. Drivers carry required insurance to cover damage done to others, not themselves, for one thing. It’s not applicable at all. Furthermore, states impose the insurance requirement, not the federal government, because states license drivers and vehicles. Driving is, after all, a voluntary activity conducted on public property (roads); there is no requirement for licensing or insurance for those who drive only on their private property. People who don’t drive on public roads aren’t required to buy a license or the insurance.

There are other problems with this analogy as well. Those who do have auto insurance only file claims when significant damage occurs. Auto insurance doesn’t pay for routine maintenance, like oil changes, lube jobs, and tire rotation. That’s why auto insurance is relatively affordable.

Also, auto insurance is priced to risk. If a driver lives in a high-crime area, then the premiums will rise to cover the risks associated with theft. If they drive badly (get moving violations and accidents), premiums will go up, or in some cases, the insurer will drop the driver. Policies are priced for risk according to age as well; the youngest and oldest drivers pay more due to their propensity for causing losses. Those who drive well and present a lower risk get rewarded with lower premiums. Right now, the federal government is preventing insurers in some instances from risk-pricing health insurance to impose government-approved fairness. That means we all pay more, removing the incentive to lower risk.

Finally, let’s use another related analogy: fire insurance. If we forced insurers to write comprehensive policies on burning homes, we would have no insurers left in the market. However, Holder and Sebelius want health insurers to do the same thing — and need the mandate to force all of us to assume that risk through the higher premiums that subsidize it. And, by the way, the government is doing exactly what Holder derogates in the essay — forcing insurers to write policies after the accident/fire/illness.

The need to reform the health-care economic model is real. Holder, Sebelius, and Barack Obama have gone in the wrong direction through the imposition of government mandates and the calcification of the third-party payer model. We need to break that model for routine health maintenance and return insurance to the role of indemnifying against substantial loss and end the tax incentives for the market distortion of the employer-based health care model.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Inconvenient Truth

Here's the problem with the American perspective (and that in Britain, for that matter): There is no means by which playing "tax the rich" can close the gap.

Here, again, is the budget picture in terms of deficits in dollars:


So let's assume we don't pass the tax cuts for the "rich." Ok, that's $70 billion a year. The gap between revenue and spending is over $1,600 billion.

In other words "soak the rich" gets you 4.4% of the problem.

And remember, this change gets rid of the dividend, capital gains, and income tax preferences for the wealthy, defined as "those who make over $250,000 as a couple, or $200,000 as an individual."

If we "**** the rich" even more, we could probably take another $200 billion off that number. That still doesn't matter, simply on the mathematics.

Beyond that level you probably run into "avoidance" - that is, perfectly legal choices to make less.

There have been plenty of years where I've written really big checks to the IRS, and not all of them were related to MCSNet. The last few years have been pretty good. But this much I can tell you - if the government was to, for example, tax everything I made at 90% beyond $200,000, I would never make more than $200,000 a year again. Ever. I will not work hard to earn that money only to turn 90% of it over to the government.

Those of you who get up and go to work every day simply don't get it or don't care to listen. You get paid time and a half for hours over 40, and double time on weekends and holidays. The former is actually Federal Law, not employer preference.

I, on the other hand, was literally on-call 24x7 for a decade building what I had with MCSNet. I didn't have an actual vacation - a time when I could choose to shut off the pager and phone for so much as 24 hours - for more than five years. For a decent part of that time I not only ran my own joint I worked for "the man" at the same time. Today, as an entrepreneur, I still can't take that vacation. I had it for a few years when I was effectively "retired" but now it's gone again, as I run The Ticker and forum. I go on "vacation" or have a "nice weekend" and my phone and laptop are always with me, as I have to be able to respond to potential problems with the infrastructure - and if I hired someone to watch the infrastructure I'd have to be able to respond to "business issues."

The motivation to do this - to take the risk of material loss of one's capital and to trade one's personal life off like this instead of being a working drone that works for "the man" from 9-5 and then comes home to watch "Dancing With The Stars" - is money. Remove that motivation by confiscating what I earn and I will stop doing it and sit in my hottub drinking Cognac or fishing every day instead - that's a promise and a fact, and your illusory "tax revenue" will fail to materialize.

Exactly where does that "avoidance" behavior begin? I don't know. But what I do know is that it begins at a lot lower level than you probably think. And the spiral that this promotes downward in tax receipts is both very real and impossible for the government to stop or prevent.

And The Horse You All Rode In On

Noonan on Obama:
He spent his first year losing the center, which elected him, and his second losing his base, which is supposed to provide his troops. There isn't much left to lose! Which may explain Tuesday's press conference.

President Obama was supposed to be announcing an important compromise, as he put it, on tax policy. Normally a president, having agreed with the opposition on something big, would go through certain expected motions. He would laud the specific virtues of the plan, show graciousness toward the negotiators on the other side—graciousness implies that you won—and refer respectfully to potential critics as people who'll surely come around once they are fully exposed to the deep merits of the plan.

Instead Mr. Obama said, essentially, that he hates the deal he just agreed to, hates the people he made the deal with, and hates even more the people who'll criticize it. His statement was startling in the breadth of its animosity. Republicans are "hostage takers" who worship a "holy grail" of "tax cuts for the wealthy." "That seems to be their central economic doctrine."

As for the left, they ignore his accomplishments and are always looking for "weakness and compromise." They are "sanctimonious," "purist," and just want to "feel good about" themselves. In a difficult world, they cling to their "ideal positions" and constant charges of "betrayals."

Those not of the left might view all this as straight talk, and much needed. But if you were of the left it would only deepen your anger and sharpen your response. Which it did. "Gettysburg," "sellout," "disaster."

The president must have thought that distancing himself from left and right would make him more attractive to the center. But you get credit for going to the center only if you say the centrist position you've just embraced is right. If you suggest, as the president did, that the seemingly moderate plan you agreed to is awful and you'll try to rescind it in two years, you won't leave the center thinking, "He's our guy!" You'll leave them thinking, "Note to self: Remove Obama in two years."

In politics, the angry person is generally understood to be the loser, which is why politicians on TV always try not to seem angry. And politics is always, at the end of the day, a game of addition, not subtraction.

Mr. Obama's problem is not only with the left of his party. Democratic professionals, people who do the work of politics day by day, don't see him as a bad man or a sellout, but they scratch their heads over him and privately grouse. They don't understand a Democratic president who, in the midst of a great recession, in our modern welfare state, doesn't know how to win support! The other night Pennsylvania's Democratic governor, Ed Rendell, was on "Hardball" sounding reasonable on the subject of Mr. Obama, but I thought his eyes, his visage, his professionally pleasant face were screaming: Those crazy birthers are wrong, he's not from another country—he's from another galaxy! He doesn't do politics like any normal person!


Wednesday, December 08, 2010

We Can't Even Print Money Correctly Any More

And that's our core skill. Perhaps we should outsource the job to China.

Jon Stewart has more.

The Scam Suits Him Just Fine

WARREN BUFFETT: Robber Baron? “Warren Buffett isn’t just noted as an owner of life insurance companies and a supporter of the estate tax. He’s also noted as a buyer of family businesses. . . . These two business strategies support each other. . . . It’s hard to think of Warren Buffett as a robber baron. He’s a jolly chap who just seems to be along for the ride. But the ugly truth is that his businesses benefit from one of the major big-government redistributive programs by which the ruling class makes government big and families small. He’s a leader of a ‘redistributive combine’ that wants to keep what it got from the government favor factory. He’s one of the chaps sitting by the side of the road taking their cut, courtesy of Uncle Sam.”

Sunday, December 05, 2010

200 Countries, 200 Years

This video has been making the rounds the last few days. Finally watched it; it's worth your time.

Glad To Hear You're On Our Side, Chuck

So let's do this thing.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Good Question

Vox Day:
Inherit the Science

Smarmy evolutionists and socially handicapped atheists almost invariably bring up the Scopes trial when confronting religious individuals or anyone skeptical about the theory of evolution by (probably) natural selection. Of course, as is reliably the case, they know next to nothing about it, it is merely a social marker upon which they've learned to place importance in the course of their cultural indoctrination. Jonah Goldberg brings to our attention a few of the more interesting aspects of the science that the defenders of the secular faith still deem so vital to teach in public schools:
"The Races of Man. – At the present time there exist upon the earth five races or varieties of man, each very different from the other in instincts, social customs, and, to an extent, in structure. These are the Ethiopian or negro type, originating in Africa; the Malay or brown race, from the islands of the Pacific; the American Indian; the Mongolian or yellow race, including the natives of China, Japan, and the Eskimos; and finally, the highest race type of all, the Caucasians, represented by the civilized white inhabitants of Europe and America....

Improvement of Man. – If the stock of domesticated animals can be improved, it is not unfair to ask if the health and vigor of the future generations of men and women on the earth might be improved by applying to them the laws of selection. This improvement of the future race has a number of factors in which as individuals may play a part. These are personal hygiene, selection of healthy mates, and the betterment of the environment.

Eugenics. – When people marry there are certain things that the individual as well as the race should demand. The most important of these is freedom from germ diseases which might be handed down to the offspring. Tuberculosis, syphilis, that dread disease which cripples and kills hundreds of thousands of innocent children, epilepsy, and feeble-mindedness are handicaps which it is not only unfair but criminal to hand down to posterity. The science of being well born is called eugenics."

The Remedy. - If such people were lower animals, we would probably kill them off to prevent them from spreading. Humanity will not allow this, but we do have the remedy of separating the sexes in asylums or other places and in various ways preventing intermarriage and the possibilities of perpetuating such a low and degenerate race. Remedies of this sort have been tried successfully in Europe and are now meeting with success in this country.
- George William Hunter, A Civic Biology: Presented in Problems (New York, 1914): pp. 193-196, 253-254, 261-263.
So, the next time someone smirks and brings up Scopes, the monkey trial, or Inherit the Wind in an attempt to assume a posture of scientific superiority, don't forget to ask them which aspect of elementary biology they deem the most important to teach to American schoolchildren, the mechanism of natural selection, the moral imperative of artificial selection, the criminalization of unfit breeding, the forcible placement of the inferior in asylums, or the supremacy of the white race.