From Around the Blogroll

Phineas, writing at Sister Toldjah, thinks that Kim Jong Un might be crazier than his father and grandfather:

Kim Jong Un may have out-psycho’d his father and grandfather
Posted by: Phineas on January 3, 2014 at 1:01 pm

I mean, we’ve heard he was hammered when he ordered the trial and execution of his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, but to carry out the sentence by feeding him alive to the dogs? Dude!

According to the report, unlike previous executions of political prisoners which were carried out by firing squads with machine guns, Jang was stripped naked and thrown into a cage, along with his five closest aides. Then 120 hounds, starved for three days, were allowed to prey on them until they were completely eaten up. This is called “quan jue”, or execution by dogs.

The report said the entire process lasted for an hour, with Mr Kim Jong Un, the supreme leader in North Korea, supervising it along with 300 senior officials.

Keep in mind all the usual caveats: “if this is true,” the difficulty of getting factual information from a paranoid Stalinist dictatorship (almost as hard as getting it from Jay Carney), the possibility that Kim might just be playing us for various reasons only a North Korean dictator could fathom….

More at the link. I, naturally, am somewhat surprised that there were 120 dogs alive in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, given that the people are living on grass and acorns, but, maybe the only fat kid in North Korea has a few table scraps left for the hounds.

Cassy Fiano of the Victory Girls wrote on it as well, concluding:

And while human rights violations are nothing new in North Korea, if this report is true, then it could be indicative of an escalation of those abuses. North Koreans close to Kim Jong Un are not safe, and the message is clear: anyone who dares to challenge or threaten the Dear Leader will pay with their life. Stalin’s reign of terror through executions and gulags may end up looking tame in the long run.

The message is even clearer: if you anger President Kim, you may not just be shot. Robert Stacey Stacy McCain makes perfect sense of it all:

Try to imagine that frightening alternative universe in which a guerrilla army overthrows the federal government, or a cabal of dissident generals stages a military coup and, as a result, I became the charismatic Supreme Dictator of America. The first order of business for the McCainist junta, of course, would be the liquidation of all opposition, by the most brutal and terrifying methods.

From the standpoint of regime permanence, it would be insufficient merely to jail or exile opponents. No, the point of radical terror is to inspire fear, so that not only would no one dare oppose the regime, but also so that people will denounce any of their friends and neighbors whose loyalty to the New Totalitarian Order is believed to be less than 100 percent. Therefore, the regime must not only torture and execute leaders of the prohibited opposition, but must all unleash the intimidating force of violence against the families, friends and suspected sympathizers of the opposition leaders. Leniency can only be obtained by active and vocal support of the regime’s repressive measures.

Under totalitarian rule, no one can ever presume himself to be safe from the power of the regime, because the Supreme Leader’s power is so great that it can only be protected by ruthless men who, as they rise higher in the leadership cadre, inevitably begin to think of the possibility of seizing the top position for themselves. Occasionally, the Supreme Leader must make examples of such rivals.

Looks like Smitty and Wombat-socho had better beat feet for Canada!

Karen, the Lonely Conservative, noted the kind wishes our friends on the left expressed toward former First Lady Barbara Bush, who has been hospitalized. I’m beyond being surprised by them.

L D Jackson writes about “e-cigarettes,” and the efforts by some of the busybodies to restrict them, as well. I can understand the busybodies’ concern about second-hand tobacco smoke, but the vapor from e-cigarettes is nothing like that. One of my friends is using the e-cigarettes in an effort to quit smoking, and I think that’s great. Why the nannies who think that they can run other people’s lives would want to atack something to help people quit smoking is beyond me.

From The Pirate’s Cove:

Ever Notice That Those Calling For Tolerance Are Rather Intolerant Themselves?
By William Teach | January 3, 2014 – 10:37 am

One of the big stories making the rounds is about Chris Kluwe calling Minnesota Vikings coaches names

I Was An NFL Player Until I Was Fired By Two Cowards And A Bigot

Hello. My name is Chris Kluwe, and for eight years I was the punter for the Minnesota Vikings. In May 2013, the Vikings released me from the team. At the time, quite a few people asked me if I thought it was because of my recent activism for same-sex marriage rights, and I was very careful in how I answered the question. My answer, verbatim, was always, “I honestly don’t know, because I’m not in those meetings with the coaches and administrative people.”

This is a true answer. I honestly don’t know if my activism was the reason I got fired.

However, I’m pretty confident it was.

Or, it could be that the Vikes were able to replace him with a younger, cheaper punter. And then was beat out in Raiders camp by a better punter. Sometimes business decisions are just business decisions. Especially with punters, who are canned and replaced all the time. Oh, and he had a knee problem requiring surgery.

More at the link. Mr Kluwe punted through injuries for the Vikings, but in 2012 averaged 45.0 yards per punt, which ranked 22nd in the league . . . but he was one of the most highly paid punters in the NFL; he was due to be paid $1.45 million by the Vikings in 2013, had he remained with the team, while Jeff Locke, who replaced him, was paid the league minimum of $405,000. The Vikings saved a million bucks by getting rid of Mr Kluwe, and then Mr Kluwe was beaten out by Marquette King for the Oakland Raiders’ punting job.

Secretary of State John François Kerry is in the Middle East, and he’s going to make yet another American try to negotiate a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. William Jacobson noted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s statement:

I know that you (Mr Kerry) are committed to peace; I know that I am committed to peace; but, unfortunately, given the actions and words of Palestinian leaders, there’s growing doubt in Israel that the Palestinians are committed to peace.

The Prime Minister was being too kind. There’s no “growing doubt” whether the Palestinians are committed to peace; there’s certain knowledge that enough of them are still committed to fighting to destroy any peace agreement which might be reached.

Jeff Goldstein’s wife — who actually has a degree in Women’s Studies — described one frustrated woman as “someone who hasn’t been properly fucked.” The woman who has missed out? Someone writing on “Radical Wind” who claimed that “Intercourse/PIV1 is always rape, plain and simple.” It was so hilarious to read that my first impression was that it had to be satire, but, upon reading “Witchwind’s” comments policy page, it occurs to met that she might really be that dumb.

Foxfier noted the huge percentage of holders of concealed carry permits who commit crimes in Texas.

Jim Lynch was not sad to see 2013 end.

Donald Douglas asked What’s Next For Homosexual Rights? 

But in this one, the esteemed Dr Douglas erred:

Antarctic Warming Scientists Risked Lives of Paying Tourists on Chartered Russian Vessel That Couldn’t Break Ice
You know, because leftist are truly thoughtful and caring people.

It turns out that the Australasian Antarctic Expedition leaders chartered a Finnish-built research vessel that couldn’t break ice. They did it with full knowledge that the Antarctic is the most inhospitable destination on earth. Worse, expedition leaders sold tourist spots for the mission as if these were summer holidays, charging $8,000 per head to defray the costs of a mission they could not afford. In other words, to cut costs the AAE crew risked the lives of dozens of civilians on a research excursion of dubious scientific value. This is so morally indefensible it’s almost astonishing, but then again, these are leftists we’re talking about, so there you go.

More at the link.

No, it isn’t because “leftist are truly thoughtful and caring people,” Dr Douglas’ sarcasm notwithstanding, but because they are idiots! The thought that they might be risking getting stuck in the ice never entered their pointy heads! After all, it’s summer in the Antarctic!

This is what happens when they are so wedded to a theory that the possibility that they might be wrong is just never considered. In the meantime, the coldest air mass in decades is set to hit the United States. It’s a good thing we’ve got global warming, or it might get really cold!

William Teach has been mocking this all along, and it will be pretty funny, as long as no one winds up getting killed behind this stupidity.

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  1. Penis in vagina.

A dangerous development

From The Wall Street Journal:

Hezbollah Upgrades Missile Threat to Israel
Components Said to Have Already Been Moved to Lebanon from Syria

The Wall Street Journal, Friday, January 3, 2014

The Wall Street Journal, Friday, January 3, 2014

By Adam Entous, Charles Levinson and Julian E Barnes | Jan. 2, 2014 7:03 p.m. ET

U.S. officials believe members of Hezbollah, the militant group backed by Iran, are smuggling advanced guided-missile systems into Lebanon from Syria piece by piece to evade a secretive Israeli air campaign designed to stop them.

The moves illustrate how both Hezbollah and Israel are using Syria’s civil war as cover for what increasingly is seen as a complex and high-stakes race to prepare for another potential conflict—their own—in ways that could alter the region’s military balance.

Some components of a powerful antiship missile system have already been moved to Lebanon, according to previously undisclosed intelligence, while other systems that could target Israeli aircraft, ships and bases are being stored in expanded weapons depots under Hezbollah control in Syria, say current and former U.S. officials.

Such guided weapons would be a major step up from the “dumb” rockets and missiles Hezbollah now has stockpiled, and could sharply increase the group’s ability to deter Israel in any potential new battle, officials say.

More at the link.

Israel has already struck at some Hezbollah weapons shipments, with mixed success. For now:

Israeli officials say they are content for now to watch enemies No. 1 and No. 2 — Hezbollah and Iran on one side, al Qaeda on the other — kill each other next door.

As we all should be! But Israel is very concerned about any new weaponry going to Hezbollah, and:

Israeli leaders made clear early on in the Syrian conflict that any transfers of advanced missile systems or chemical arms to its enemies would cross Israel’s “red line.”

As long as the Syrian civil war keeps Hezbollah too busy to attack Israel, there should be peace along Israel’s northern border, but the Israelis are very good at maintaining vigilance.

In other news from Israel:

IDF appoints first female battalion commander
Maj. Oshrat Bachar will be promoted to rank of Lieut.-Col and will head Eitam battalion, tasked with monitoring terror in Sinai Peninsula.
By Yaakov Lappin | 01/02/2014 16:18

IDF battalion commander Maj. Oshrat Bachar. Photo: IDF Archives

The IDF has appointed its first female battalion commander, Maj. Oshrat Bachar, who will head a Combat Intelligence unit in the Southern Command along the border with Egypt.

Maj. Bachar will be promoted to the rank of Lieut.-Col, and will take charge of a battalion named Eitam, tasked with monitoring hostile terrorist activity in the Sinai Peninsula. She began her military career as a lookout soldier in the Combat Intelligence Corps, and went on to become a company commander in the field. From there, she became an instructor at the IDFs Combat Intelligence School, before serving as a department head in the office of the advisor on to the chief of staff on womens’ affairs.

Maj. Bachar is currently completing a course on command and special staff at Glilot, and will then go on to begin a battalion commander’s course.

A bit more at the link. Her husband, Maj. Ohad Bachar, also has the goal of becoming a battalion commander; looks like his wife beat him to it!

#Syria: We never had control

We have said it before: the best outcome for the West in the Syrian civil war would be for the war to continue for so long, and be so destructive, that it doesn’t matter which side wins: there will be so much death and destruction with which the winners will have to deal that they will not have the time, money or other resources to make problems outside of Syria. Well, whether by accident (more probable) or design (far, far less probable), the United States’ policy seems to match what The First Street Journal has advocated. From The Wall Street Journal:

Behind Assad’s Comeback, a Mismatch in Commitments
Regime’s Survival Seen as Example of America’s Inability to Steer Events From a Distance
By Adam Entous and Siobhan Gorman | Dec. 31, 2013 1:32 p.m. ET

In the early days of the Syrian rebellion, U.S. intelligence agencies made a prediction: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s days were numbered, an assessment repeated publicly by President Barack Obama and top U.S. intelligence officials.

Mr. Obama said so as recently as March 22, at a press conference in Amman with Jordan’s King Abdullah: “I’m confident that Assad will go. It’s not a question of if, it’s when.”

Behind the scenes, though, U.S. intelligence services had already begun to pick up indications that this long-held assumption was wrong.

That winter and early spring, U.S. and Israeli spy agencies received intelligence that Iran and the Assad regime were pressing the reluctant leader of the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon to commit to sending his fighters into Syria en masse, current and former U.S. officials said.

The resulting Hezbollah surge to bolster Mr. Assad represented a turning point in the Syria conflict, giving the Syrian leader enough strength to survive, though not enough to prevail.

More at the link. But that final quoted paragraph puts the situation as being about the best for which the civilized world could hope.

Naturally, the foreign policy mavens worry:

Now, at the end of 2013, Syria stands as a tale of mismatched commitments, and an example of America’s inability to steer events from a distance. In many ways, Syria as it was known before simply doesn’t exist any longer, U.S. officials say. Its place has been taken by a shattered state riven into sectarian enclaves, radicalized by war and positioned to send worrisome ripples out across the Middle East for years to come, say current and former officials.

Perhaps, but your Editor doesn’t see it that way. “Worrisome ripples” don’t occur without actual people to generate them, and the Syrian civil war is going to leave a lot of the most worrisome ripplers injured, maimed or dead. The participation of Hezbollah in the civil war means that fewer Hezbollah fighters will be alive after this mess finally ends. And as more of the fighting-aged men are removed from the population, the remainder of the population will be less eager, overall, to want to fight somewhere else. The enemies of civilization are busy killing each other in Syria; why would we ever want to stop that?

The Journal reported that recently departed CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell briefed some congressmen in private, and said that the CIA estimated that the civil war could drag on for another ten years or more, with President Assad unable to take control of the entire country, but with the Islamist/al Qaeda controlled areas landlocked between eastern Syria and Iraq, and frequent ethnic and sectarian squabbling going on in those areas.

Much of the article, however, is less about the conditions of the fighting than the diplomatic and military maneuvering by forces outside of Syria to try to aid one side or the other. The article noted that Saudi Arabia is very displeased with the low-level of the American commitment — a small supply of weapons to some of the rebel groups — and that Secretary of State John François Kerry, rather than recognize the Saudi’s real concerns, simply wanted to place the onus on Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan. Prince Bandar, on the other hand, appears to have a rather low opinion of both Mr Kerry and his boss, President Obama.

The First Street Journal shares Prince Bandar’s low opinion of Messrs Obama and Kerry, albeit for different reasons. However, this situation illuminates a lesson which the United States was starting to learn in the 1960s, with our failures in Vietnam: sometimes that United States simply cannot control what happens in other countries. As early as 1949, there were bitter recriminations in the United States about “who lost China,” when the old “China hands’ couldn’t keep Chaing Kai-Shek and the Nationalists from losing to Mao Tse-tung and the Communists in the civil war there, a notion which assumes that the United States could have changed the outcome by an effort short of direct military intervention. The war in Vietnam pointed out, rather dramatically, that even with direct military intervention, the United States might not be able to direct the outcome. The war in Iraq proved that we might be able to depose a brutal dictator, but we might not be able to control who takes power after the dictator is gone.

Your Editor was tempted to credit Secretary of State Kerry for having realized this, following his experiences in Vietnam, but declined; the Secretary’s performance when it comes to negotiations with Iran leaves me with little doubt that Mr Kerry simply does not understand the motivations of power and of non-Western leaders. If Mr Morell was correct, we can look forward to perhaps a decade of Islamist and Syrian government fighters disappearing into the meat-grinder of the civil war, and that’s a good thing, but The First Street Journal will not credit either the Secretary or President Obama for having directed it; the best that can be said, now, is that they haven’t fouled it up . . . yet.

My darling bride wanted to watch the Tournament of Roses parade . . .

. . . but I had to get up and leave the television in disgust. Not only is there supposed to be a same-sex “marriage” being performed on a parade float,1 but there is a health insurance company (which I decline to name, to avoid giving them any additional publicity, little though it might be) advertising policies on their individual exchange, with a (supposed) waitress telling us that she didn’t have insurance through her (supposedly) low-paying job, but yes, she was able to get a health insurance plan, for her family, and, thanks to financial assistance,2 her health insurance costs her less than a dollar a day.

Well, given that the average employer-based health insurance policy costs $16,351 per year,3 that means that the “waitress” is being subsidized something on the order of $16,000 a year, from my taxes!

Every one of us who works for a living and has to pay taxes is having to contribute money to this (fictitious) waitress’ health insurance plan. Can you see why I am so disgusted?
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  1. If it actually happened, I didn’t see it.
  2. The commercial does not specifically say government financial assistance, but that’s what it means.
  3. The Kaiser Family Foundation stated that, in 2013, the average cost of employer-provided health insurance was $16,351, of which the employer’s share was $11,786, and the employee’s share was $4,565.

They missed it

Donald Douglas linked an article by Glen Reynolds, the Instapundit, in USA Today:

Zero-tolerance stupidity at school
Educators can’t distinguish between childish games and real threats.
By Glenn Harlan Reynolds 2:58 p.m. EST December 30, 2013

Last week, the Wall Street Journal‘s Alison Gopnik reported on research from professors Jacqueline Wooley at the University of Texas and Paul Harris at Harvard that showed a surprising degree of sophistication among preschool kids. Apparently, though they spend a lot of time in fantasy pursuits, they’re actually quite good at distinguishing fantasy from reality:

Children understand the difference. They know that their beloved imaginary friend isn’t actually real and that the terrifying monster in their closet doesn’t actually exist (though that makes them no less beloved or scary). But children do spend more time than we do thinking about the world of imagination. They don’t actually confuse the fantasy world with the real one; they just prefer to hang out there.

On reading that, my first thought was that these kids are actually a lot better at distinguishing between fantasy and reality than the teachers and administrators in the schools that they attend.

At South Eastern Middle School in Fawn Grove, Pa., for example, 10-year-old Johnny Jones was suspended for using an imaginary bow and arrow. That’s right – - not a real bow and arrow, but an imaginary bow and arrow. A female classmate saw this infraction, tattled to a teacher, and the principal gave Jones a one-day suspension for making a “threat” in class.

To be fair, it probably takes a lot of imagination to turn what sounds like a bit of old-fashioned cowboys-and-Indians play into a “threat.” But while the principal, John Horton, gets an “A” for imagination, he deserves an “F” for distinguishing between imagination and reality. Sadly, he’s not alone.

More at the link. Dr Douglas added only a one sentence response, “Another example of far-left political correctness destroying not only basic decency, but creativity and imagination,” while encouraging his readers to read Professor Reynolds’ original.

Mr Reynolds attributed much of the problem to a singular lack of imagination amongst the education professionals:

(T)he constant stream of stories of zero-tolerance stupidity suggests that there’s something more lacking here than just academic smarts: There seems to be a severe deficit of the very sort of critical thinking that the education industry purports to be instilling in kids. One might dismiss any one of these events as an isolated incident, but when you have — as we clearly do — a never ending supply of such incidents, they’re no longer isolated: They’re a pattern.

Unfortunately, though he actually approached the problem in one sentence, noting that “boys seem to do worse in today’s nearly-all-female K-12 environment,”1 he missed it. The problem isn’t that the education professionals lack critical thinking skills or imagination, but that they certainly do have those abilities, and are using them to move toward the goal of emasculating boys.

The profession, as Mr Reynolds noted, is heavily female dominated, and it seems as though the few males in it are over-represented by the testosterone-deficient. The notion that boys-will-be-boys isn’t something that they calmly accept, but is something that they want to change.

Of course boys play with toy guns and imaginary bows-and-arrows; that’s what American boys have been doing for generations. But, for the education professionals, those things are bad, bad, bad! because they result in men growing up into being men.

And to the heavily-feminine, and feminist, educational establishment,2 that is not a good thing at all.

The result is a public school system in which being a boy is discouraged.3 The very normal ways in which boys interact with girls in primary and secondary school settings is very much discouraged, and the education professionals want to change those normal interactions. Other than their own husbands, of course, the education professionals would see the creation of a generation of Caspar Milquetoasts.

That is where the problem is. Too many males, especially black males, drop out of school, and I have to wonder if this problem isn’t actually exacerbated by the anti-male attitudes which exist in so many schools. When normal male behavior is discouraged and even punished, why should it be a surprise that boys drop out of an environment that really doesn’t want them there in the first place?

Do Teachers Really Discriminate Against Boys?
A study on gender disparities in elementary-school performance found that boys received lower grades than girls, even when their test scores were equal to or higher than the girls’
By Erika Christakis | Feb. 06, 201348

Worries about the declining academic performance of boys, a topic of increasing alarm this past decade, have intensified recently. It seems that boys are being judged both unduly harshly and leniently at school. A new study on gender disparities in elementary-school performance — the first study to examine both objective and subjective performance — found that boys were given lower grades than girls, even in cases (such as math and science) where their test scores were either equal to or higher than the girls’ test scores.

It seems like out-and-out discrimination, except there is an interesting wrinkle: teachers didn’t downgrade boys who had identical test scores to girls if they seemed to share the girls’ positive attitude toward learning. In fact, the opposite seemed to occur: the well-socialized boys received a small grade “bonus” for their good behavior relative to other boys, suggesting that teachers may be overcompensating when they encounter boys whose behavior exceeds expectations. In other words, boys who match girls on both test scores and behavior get better grades than girls do, but boys who don’t are graded more harshly. Which means that the issue of what to do with underperforming boys just got a lot more complicated.

Translation: the boys who behaved more like the girls.

We’ve known for a long time that boys, on average, struggle with school more than girls do. Learning disabilities and behavioral problems are more prevalent among boys, and high school and college graduation rates are lower. Boys also receive two-thirds of failing grades and are more likely to find school boring or frustrating.

What’s new is the finding that these gender disparities start so early and appear linked not only to gaps in relatively objective measures like test scores but also to teachers’ assessments of their own students. But since much of the misalignment between test scores and grades (or one might say between reality and perception) is accounted for by differences in social competency, what can we do about it? Some educators have responded by championing single-sex schools and other special supports for struggling boys. The decline of recess and physical education has been harmful to all kids but perhaps more so for rambunctious boys than eager-to-please girls.

More at the link,4 but the evidence has been clear for a long time: teachers treat male and female students differently, and have for as long as there has been an educational system. The trouble is that, today, that different treatment has a subtle, unspoken purpose: to “educate” the boys to be less like boys, which results in men being less like men. The feminists would probably see that as a good thing, but most people would not.
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Related Article:


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  1. By “nearly-all-female K-12 environment” he was referring to the education professionals, not the student body.
  2. I note here the heavily Democratic nature of the National Education Association.
  3. Unless, of course, the “boy” in question is actually a female who believes she is really male.
  4. Though the article cited is from Time magazine, my google search for public education discriminates against boys returned only a few citations from the professional media, but lots and lots from blogs. It’s almost as though the professional media were trying to avoid this story, but they are, after all, professionals, so that can’t be true!

Irrational numbers

From The Wall Street Journal:

Home Prices Back at Peaks in Some Areas
Recovery Remains Uneven as Cities Spared in Bust Soar, but Many Others Struggle

The Wall Street Journal, Monday, December 30, 2013

The Wall Street Journal, Monday, December 30, 2013

By Nick Timiraos | Dec. 29, 2013 8:08 p.m. ET

Home prices have zipped back into record territory in a handful of American cities, a milestone that comes seven years after the housing bust ravaged the market and the broader economy.

Values are up more than 13% from their 2007 high in Oklahoma City and by more than 6% in the Denver metro area. Prices are back to all-time highs in 10 of the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of price data from Zillow, an online real-estate information service. Prices are within 5% of their previous peak in San Jose, Calif.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Dallas.

Prices nationally remain below the highs of the past decade, and many of the cities that have seen the biggest gains largely escaped a boom and bust.

Home prices in some parts of the country that did experience a bust have benefited from low supplies of homes for sale and historically low interest rates that have boosted prices—and sparked concerns that prices could again be overvalued.

More at the link, including some interesting graphics here.

Two Fridays ago, the Department of Commerce released its latest revision of third quarter economic growth, estimating that the growth in the gross domestic product was 4.1%, on an annualized basis; second quarter GDP growth was said to be 2.5%.1

2013 gainAt the close of the trading day tomorrow, we’ll get the year end numbers from the New York Stock Exchange, but the growth in the value of equities will be extremely strong, as the chart to the left indicates, based on Friday’s close. And the change in the value of stocks, plus the recovery — in some places — of home values reported by the Journal, causes your Editor to wonder just how these prices are being supported. The economy is growing, but at nowhere near the rate of increase in the value of houses and equities.

It wasn’t so very long ago that we saw a large rise in the stock market and home values soaring, along with low interest rates and easy credit, just as we have today, with the exception of the easy credit part.2 Am I the only one who remembers what happened in the last half of 2008?

Recessions are a normal part of the economy; they “correct” things when the economy gets out of balance. They aren’t very pleasant things, for the people who lose their jobs, or even for the people who keep theirs, but are continually worried that their job will be the next one on the chopping block. But, that unpleasantness aside, they are still a normal, and necessary, part of the economy. Regrettably, even though we haven’t really recovered from the last recession, it’s looking more and more to me that we need another one fairly soon, because, once again, the economy is getting out of balance.
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  1. Via The Lonely Conservative, I saw this from zerohedge:

    Earlier today, the Bureau of Economic Analysis surprised everyone by announcing a final Q3 GDP growth of 4.1% compared to 3.6% in the first revision (and 2.8% originally), driven almost entirely by the bounce in Personal Consumption which rose 2.0% compared to estimates of 1.4%. As a result many are wondering just where this “revised” consumption came from. The answer is below: of the $15 billion revised increase in annualized spending, 60% was for healthcare, and another 27% was due to purchases of gasoline. The third largest upward revision: recreation services. On the flip side, the biggest revision detractors: transportation services and housing and utilities.

    I hardly call that a positive growth statistic.

  2. President Obama wants banks to ease up on credit restrictions.

From Around the Blogroll

The Pirate’s Cove noted the uncomfortable fact that the laughably-named Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has led to 1.82 million enrollments in private health insurance plans through the ever-shifting deadline date, it has also resulted in 3.93 million enrollments in Medicaid or SCHIP (the State Children’s Health Insurance Program:

So, 3.93 million moved into Medicaid/SCHIP, aka, government programs, versus 1.82 million into private plans, which are currently running at 26% enrollment. This is the definition of “success”, putting most signups, many who had private insurance previously, directly under the banner of government programs.

Mr Teach failed to point out — probably because we don’t have the numbers yet — that many of those people who did enroll in private plans will be eligible for government subsidies for their insurance premiums!

The link above leads to a government subsidy calculator, and I went ahead and entered our ages and family size. I’m 60, my wife is 54, and we have two children between 21 and 25 who could be put on the plan. According to the calculator, if our Adjusted Gross income was $94,200, 400% of the feral poverty line, we could purchase a “silver” premium plan for $1,498 per month, and our “estimated tax credit from the government” would be $752 per month, making our effective monthly payment $746 per month. If our AGI were $94,201, we’d be eligible for nothing at all. Obviously, people should start looking at their income, and if they are close to the threshold, Line 32 on the tax year 2013 Form 1040, is an IRA deduction. Someone with a family situation similar to mine, who was looking at an AGI of $95,000, could start an IRA on December 30th by putting $1,000 into it, and receive a tax credit of $752 per month, or $9,024 per year, if they are going to have to buy private insurance through the exchanges because they don’t have an employer-sponsored health insurance plan.1 The median income in 2012 was $51,017, meaning that the government would be either paying for, directly, through Medicare, welfare or other means, or subsidizing well over half of the population’s health care coverage, and the mean for the fourth quintile in income (the top 21 to 40% of income) is $80,000, well below the threshold to receive a tax credit. Most readers of The First Street Journal did not like my statement that we need to go to a single-payer system such as an expansion of Medicare to cover everybody, but the very uncomfortable fact is that the government is already paying, in full or in part, for the health care coverage for the vast majority of Americans,2 and going to single-payer would wind up not adding that many more people to that population, but would greatly straighten out the taxation and premiums being paid.

Sister Toldjah noted that the Arts & Entertainment networks have backed down on the “suspension” of Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson over his statements concerning his beliefs concerning homosexuality and the Bible’s statements on the subject.

If A&E cared about “tolerance” and “unity” they would have never suspended Robertson in the first place and instead would have told the hacks at GLAAD to practice the inclusiveness that they preach. The decision to walk back the suspension of Phil Robertson was not out of any new-found respect/tolerance for the Robertson family but instead was all about cold, hard cash – pure and simple.

Absolutely right! And Hube wrote on the same topic.

Donald Douglas wrote, in New York Times Report Claims ‘No Evidence’ of al-Qaeda Role in Benghazi Consulate Attack:

I read the report. It’s supposed to be so “complicated” you see. It’s impossible for the rubes to understand. But read it for yourself. Pure convenience. A story-line cooked perfectly for a political party on the ropes and about to go down hard. Meanwhile, so much remains unanswered. See the Weekly Standard, for just a start, “Questions They Won’t Answer.

It’s simple: the Times, along with other liberal media outlets, are already working on sanitizing the responsibility of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for Benghazi, so that it won’t weigh down her anticipated 2016 presidential campaign.3

Kit Lange at the Victory Girls addressed the same topic.

Patterico noted a New York Times dialect quiz. There isn’t that much in the main article, but the comments are great. When I took the test, it placed me between Richmond, Newport News, and Norfolk, Virginia, and I lived in Hampton (on the same peninsula with Newport News) from 1984 to 2000, so it seems pretty accurate to me.

L D Jackson wrote about the Reverend Jesse Jackson’s comments about Phil Robertson and “white privilege.”
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  1. Those are tax year 2013′s numbers, and things will change for 2014, the first full year under the legislation.
  2. This statement includes the fact that those Americans who receive health insurance through their employers are receiving, in effect, untaxed income in the form of the employer’s share of health insurance premiums. The Kaiser Family Foundation stated that, in 2013, the average cost of employer-provided health insurance was $16,351, of which the employer’s share was $11,786, and the employee’s share was $4,565. In effect, Americans who receive health insurance through their employers are receiving an average of $11,786 in wages which are free from taxation at all levels.
  3. I have said previously that it is my belief that Mrs Clinton will not be a candidate in 2016, not because she doesn’t want to be president or doesn’t think that she deserves to be president, but because her age — she turns 69 a couple weeks before election day of 2016 — and health just won’t allow it.

So Far, The 113th Congress Has Done Very Little. Thank You.

There should be some rejoicing about this news the way I see it. It is believe that a “Good” Congress is one that passes an enormous amout of laws. But as we have seen, each law passed favors one group at the expense of another. Look 111th Congress that passe a lot of Bills plus one misnamed the “Affordable Care Act” at roughly 2000 unread pages that spawned 8 FEET of paper printed regulations when stacked and growing. Would that rate then a “Productive Congress”? A Do-Nothing Congress in my mind is a good Congress. No new laws restricting more things in our lives. But then again, the resident at 1600 PA Ave., NW, Washington, Disease, and permanent traveler and vacationers seems to think he can do, and has usurped some Congressional Power.

Poll: Most Americans Say U.S. Congress Has Done Nothing
December 26, 2013 by UPI – United Press International, Inc.

ATLANTA (UPI) — Nearly three-quarters of Americans say the current Congress has been highly ineffective, while two-thirds say it’s the worst in their lifetime, a poll says.
Some 73 percent of those surveyed said current federal lawmakers had done nothing to fix the country’s problems, said the CNN/ORC International poll released Thursday.

One in four people disagreed with that assessment.

“That sentiment exists among all demographic and political subgroups. Men, women, rich, poor, young, old — all think this year’s Congress has been the worst they can remember,” said Keating Holland, CNN’s polling director.

The poll also found Americans were not hopeful Congress would change for the better, Holland said.

Some 52 percent said Democratic leaders were leading the country the wrong way, while 54 percent believed the same thing about Republican leadership.

Fewer than 60 bills were passed in the first year of the current session of Congress, an analysis by CNN found.

Some 1,035 adults around the United States were interviewed for the survey, which was conducted Dec. 16-19 by ORC International. The margin of error was 3 percentage points.

http://personalliberty.com/2013/12/26/poll-most-americans-say-u-s-congress-has-done-nothing/

NIMBY

From The Wall Street Journal:

Wind Farms in Maine Stir a Power Struggle
Some Locals Balk as Developers Look to Fill Energy Demand
By Jon Kamp | Dec. 23, 2013 10:45 p.m. ET

Maine’s windmills have stirred mixed emotions as some residents worry about noise and spoiled views. Here, a windmill at the Bull Hill project. (Photo by Craig Dilger for The Wall Street Journal.)

TOWNSHIP 16, Maine—This state’s tree-filled hinterlands, long known for producing forest products and potatoes, are also suited for an export that has churned up debate: wind power.The recent appetite for wind power comes largely from Massachusetts and Connecticut, where laws require rising use of renewable power. The two states combined have 70% of New England’s population but little available open space on land to build wind farms. Developers have turned to Maine, where they say land is expansive and strong winds are more abundant.

Maine already leads the region with more than 400 megawatts of wind power installed, according to the American Wind Energy Association, which said 1 megawatt of wind power can cover about 290 homes. Recently signed long-term contracts with utilities in Massachusetts and Connecticut could more than double that output in the next few years if the projects all come to fruition.

Plenty of locals welcome the development, helped by financial rewards tied to the projects, and the wind industry counted strong Maine support in a recent poll. Governors in Massachusetts and Connecticut said the recent deals will add clean energy to the grid at cost-effective rates.

But the situation has prompted some soul-searching as a number of residents worry more wind turbines will turn the woodsy state into New England’s utility closet. Vocal opponents also question wind power’s environmental merits and say turbines aren’t worth spoiled views or noise.

More at the link.

The article continues to note that it’s somewhat easier, from a legal and regulatory standpoint as well as the availability of suitable land, to build power-generation windmills in the Pine Tree State than in Massachusetts or Connecticut, from which the artificially-forced demand comes. The Bay State has about 100 MW of production capacity from windmills within its borders, but, as we have noted before, many Massachusetts liberals, including the powerful Kennedy family, have been fighting the Cape Wind project for a dozen years now, because they don’t want the project where their poor eyes would be offended by the sight of the windmills.

A 1966 Christmas card from the Foster Farm, Buckfield, Maine. The Fosters are distant cousins of mine. Click to see the original, which is ten times larger.

Your Editor’s mother was born in Portland, and her whole family were in Maine for several generations; while I lived in Maine for only about seven months, in 1961-1962, I still appreciate the beauty of my mother’s home state.

But, my appreciation for Maine aside, it is a thoroughly blue state, which is full of people who are all up in arms about antropogenic climate change, and who vote for politicians who support policies which would cost working people some of their hard-earned money for cockamamie schemes to add taxes to fossil fueled electricity production to try to fight global warming, and I have very little sympathy for those same people being opposed to the very windmills that they want to see producing electricity without CO2 emissions, just as long as those windmills are far, far away from their back yards.

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O Holy Night

From the Celtic Woman concert at Slane Castle, in Ireland.