Not a budget, but a campaign document

The process we use for electing Presidents in this country is very heavily skewed toward picking the best campaigners, not the men who would make the best Presidents. For example, we place a tremendous emphasis on the performances in the debates, settings in which the candidates stand up, with no notes and no help, and answer questions immediately, while actual presidential decisions are taken over the course of days or weeks or months, with aides providing the chief executive with all of the information he wants, and advisers presenting all of the options to him.

Thus we have the spectacle of Barack Hussein Obama, an absolutely tremendous campaigner — as a less than one term senator, he beat the “inevitable” Hillary Clinton for the nomination as well as the Republican nominee — who has turned in the worst performance as President in my lifetime,1 yet still got re-elected.

And now we have President Obama playing to his strength, campaigning, rather than his weakness, his actual job, in presenting his FY2015 federal budget proposal. From The Wall Street Journal:

Obama Budget Plan Reflects Partisan Lines
GOP-Friendly Inflation Proposal Not in Spending Blueprint; Focus on Democratic Priorities
By Carol E. Lee and Damian Paletta | Updated Feb. 20, 2014 10:05 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama’s 2015 budget will abandon overtures to Republicans and call for a large expansion in spending on education and job training, in a push certain to ratchet up tensions in the already-fractured capital ahead of November’s elections.

The proposal—which will serve more as a political treatise than a fiscal blueprint—won’t include a call to slow the growth of Social Security spending by changing how the program accounts for inflation, White House officials said Thursday. Such a change is favored by the GOP and had been included in Mr. Obama’s budget plan last year.

Instead, Mr. Obama’s budget, which will be released in full early next month, will propose $56 billion in new government spending on programs such as education, manufacturing and job training, which would be offset by spending cuts and tax increases on high-income earners.

Mr. Obama’s budget for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 is the latest in a number of steps he has taken to reassert presidential authority, largely through executive actions, and push his ideal policy positions as opposed to compromises. Senior White House officials said the shift is a result of Republicans’ refusals to compromise in Congress with Mr. Obama despite his repeated attempts to win them over with social events and GOP-favored policy positions.

More in the original.

Naturally, the Republicans said that it would be, in effect, dead on arrival, noting that all the President offers is more tax increases on the most productive Americans. Unlike the last tax increase, the President and the Democrats don’t have the advantage of an automatic tax hike on everyone to use as a hammer, but would have to get the Republicans who control the House of Representatives to agree on raising taxes, and that just isn’t going to happen.

This is nothing but a campaign plan, going in and trying to get the Democrats an advantage by allowing them to campaign on raising taxes on the wealthy, because it is certainly not going to be anything like a reasonable budget proposal which could actually pass in Congress. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said, “President Obama’s budget will be a powerful statement of Democratic principles.” Yup, that’s right: even the Democrats are admitting that it’s nothing but a campaign platform, and it should be thrown in the trash can as soon as it is sent to the Congress.

  1. And my lifetime includes Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter.

Cats!

From Hot Air:

Confirmed: Liberals like cats more than conservatives do
POSTED AT 6:01 PM ON FEBRUARY 18, 2014 BY ALLAHPUNDIT
Alternate headline: “Time magazine confirms definitively that blogger is a RINO.”

You’ve all let me down. Again.

Lefties prefer dogs too, as you can see, just not as much as righties do. Why is that? The stereotype is that men like dogs while women like cats; men tend to trend Republican while women trend Democratic, so there you go. When PPP polled this last year, though, it found that women preferred dogs 49/22 while men preferred dogs 55/16 — a difference, but not a stark one. Maybe Time’s data is chiefly a byproduct of location, not gender. You’ve got more liberals living in cities, where there’s less space. Apartments are tricky for all but the smallest dogs but they’re fine for even the biggest cats. Taste may be shaped by simple logistics here.

Follow the link for 11 more questions exploring the left/right divide on subjects ranging from messy desks to fusion cuisine. (See if you can guess which side prefers documentaries and which prefers action/adventure. The answer may surprise you won’t surprise you at all.) The most interesting wrinkle is seeing where self-identified libertarians fall on the spectrum. I’m surprised to see them so far above water on whether kids need to learn respect for authority and whether the government should treat its own citizens’ lives as “much more valuable” than foreigners’. A movement that’s reliably pro-Snowden and anti-intervention wouldn’t be as far north of 50 percent on those issues as they are here, I’d have guessed, but maybe that says less about libertarians than about my stereotypes of them.

Pluto, our savage beast cat, watching a bunny in the next yard.    Pluto is a mighty huntress and more than one rabbit has become her lunch.  (Click to enlarge)

Pluto, our savage beast cat, watching a bunny in the next yard. Pluto is a mighty huntress and more than one rabbit has become her lunch. (Click to enlarge)

OK, this one bugs me. Think about the differences between cats and dogs. Dogs are needy and dependent, and if you take off for a day, leaving the dog at home, you are going to come back to a whiny animal who has pooped all over the floor. With cats, you can put in a large litter box and a huge bowl of food and water, leave for four days, and the cat will be fine and your floors unpooped-upon. The cat might want attention from you, but if he doesn’t get it, no big deal. Cats are exactly what we think people should be: self-reliant and independent!

If a domestic cat gets lost or somehow loses its home, as long as he isn’t too old or hasn’t been declawed, he will probably survive on his own just fine; cats are natural hunters, and can adapt to homelessness very quickly and efficiently. If a domestic dog loses his home, he is far more likely to be unable to survive on his own, other than by rooting through garbage cans, and some breeds have had virtually all hunting instinct bred out of them. Simply put, we have domesticated dogs to be liberals, while cats remain conservative.

The unions are revolting

From Robert Stacey Stacy McCain:

German Union Threatens U.S. Jobs
Posted on | February 19, 2014 | 16 Comments

After workers at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga voted to reject a United Auto Workers contract, most friends of free labor breathed a sigh of relief, but a deal that gives German workers a seat on the VW board may threaten the Tennessee workers’ jobs:

A Volkswagen board member is threatening to withhold future investments in its Tennessee facility if the workers do not unionize, according to Reuters.

“I can imagine fairly well that another VW factory in theUnited States, provided that one more should still be set up there, does not necessarily have to be assigned to the south again,” said Bernd Osterloh, head of VW’s works council.

“If co-determination isn’t guaranteed in the first place, we as workers will hardly be able to vote in favor” of potentially building another plant in the U.S. south, Osterloh, who is also on VW’s supervisory board, said.

A bit more at the link.

Sister Toldjah has more, noting Ed Kilgore’s statement:

This news falls with the predictable weight of another shoe dropping, but it’s interesting that it’s happening so fast, even as conservatives everywhere are still celebrating the successful intimidation of VW workers in Tennessee by local Republican politicians.

There is plenty of speculation as to why the workers rejected union representation, which could be anything from they saw just how wonderful things are in that union town of Detroit to the possibility that the UAW organizers were just not very good and urinated off a bunch of workers. But the left seem incapable of considering the possibility that a majority of the workers simply did not see United Auto Workers representation as being beneficial to them.

Or maybe it was something like this story from yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer:

10 leaders of Ironworkers Local 401 charged in racketeering indictment
By Jeremy Roebuck, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer | Last updated: Wednesday, February 19, 2014, 1:08 AM | Posted: Tuesday, February 18, 2014, 11:48 AM

They called themselves “the Helpful Union Guys” – “THUGS” for short – and woe awaited any contractor who dared cross them by hiring non-organized workers.

For, federal authorities alleged Tuesday, this “goon squad” of members of Ironworkers Local 401 set fires, started riots, and took crowbars to the competition in an effort to protect union jobs.

FBI agents arrested 10 of the union’s leaders Tuesday morning, including longtime head Joseph Dougherty, in a racketeering conspiracy case that appeared to affirm long-standing business complaints over the tactics employed by Philadelphia unions.

Prosecutors alleged that Dougherty and others have cost contractors hundreds of thousands of dollars over at least three years, and were indiscriminate in choosing their targets – equally willing to break skulls with baseball bats at a Toys R Us work site in King of Prussia or torch a Quaker meetinghouse under construction in Chestnut Hill.

More at the link.

Now, it’s not exactly news that there has been union violence to try to protect jobs for union members only; it’s only news that someone might actually go to jail for it. But maybe, just maybe, the civilized workers in Tennessee — Tennessee is reliably Republican, which makes them, by definition, civilized — don’t want to be associated with that kind of stuff.

Or, perhaps, just perhaps, the workers realize what The First Street Journal has been saying all along, that unions in private sector companies have to be partners with their employers, trying to get what they can for their workers while still keeping the company profitable, and were just not confident that the United Auto Workers have had such a good record of doing that, considering the bailouts that General Motors and Chrysler required, and which Ford just barely avoided.

The First Street Journal absolutely supports the right of workers to form unions, but also believes that workers have an absolute right to decline to form a union, and that no worker should be compelled to join a union just to keep his job. The First Street Journal also believes that everyone bears the responsibility for his decisions, and workers who choose to unionize bear the responsibility for the actions of their union, even if that union winds up driving the company out of business. Given the record of private-sector unions in general recently, it’s not too difficult to see why the Volkswagen workers might not see union representation as a wise idea.

Economics 101: The CBO estimates that raising the minimum wage will cost jobs

Our now-banned commenter was always trumpeting, “CBO! CBO! CBO!” telling us that the Congressional Budget Office had estimated that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would save us money in the long run . . . right up until they revised their estimates, and have now said that the PP&ACA will cost the economy “job equivalents” in fewer hours worked.

And now, the CBO is puncturing another liberal goal. From The Wall Street Journal:

Raising Minimum Wage Reduces Jobs, Poverty, Study Says
Losses in Employment Partly Offset by Increased Purchasing Power

By Eric Morath | Updated Feb. 18, 2014 3:06 p.m. ET

Raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would cost the U.S. economy about 500,000 jobs by late 2016, but the increase would lift 900,000 Americans out of poverty, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday.

The nonpartisan CBO studied a gradual increase to $10.10 per hour by July 2016 from the current $7.25 rate, mirroring a proposal several Democrats put forth in Congress and President Barack Obama endorsed.

The most likely outcome of such an increase would be the loss of a half-million mostly low-wage jobs, the CBO said. The increased cost of labor would encourage employers to upgrade technology or hire fewer, higher-skilled workers, the report said.

That effect would be partially offset by higher earnings among low-wage workers who retained their jobs. The report estimated 16.5 million workers would see their average weekly pay increase if the minimum wage was increased to $10.10 per hour by July 2016.

Overall, low-wage workers’ incomes would increase by $31 billion, but not all earners would be are members of low-income households. Just 19% of the income increase would flow to households living below the poverty line.

More at the link.

Now, if we take the CBO study at face value, an increase in the minimum wage would be a trade-off: fewer people would have jobs, but more people who did have jobs would have family incomes which put them above the poverty line.

Of course, the White House disputed the CBO findings:

White House Disputes CBO, Says Minimum Wage Hike Won’t Cost Any Jobs
By Sahil Kapur – February 18, 2014, 4:53 PM EST4644

The White House’s top economist moved to dispute a Congressional Budget Office finding on Tuesday that raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour could cost up to 500,000 jobs once implemented in the second half of 2016.

“[The CBO finding] does not reflect the consensus view of economists who have said the minimum wage would have little to no impact on employment,” Jason Furman, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), told reporters on a conference call. “It goes outside the consensus view of economists when it comes to the impact of the minimum wage on employment.”

Furman voiced “respectful disagreement” with CBO, pointing to other studies, which he listed in a blog post on the White House’s web site, that say a minimum wage increase wouldn’t cost jobs. They include a poll of economists conducted by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a study by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

“Our view is that ‘zero’ is a perfectly reasonable estimate of the impact of the minimum wage on employment, based on research that began with David Card and Alan Krueger comparing minimum wage effects on employment,” he said, calling that a “completely reasonable” estimate based on the “highest-quality studies” on the issue.

More at the link. It’s hardly a surprise that the White House would disagree, but your Editor simply looks back on previous economic projections by this Administration, and fails to see where anyone but the most sycophantic supporter of President Obama could take White House estimates seriously.

Doug Elmendorf, the CBO Director, defended his groups analysis against the White House attacks. What’s interesting about that story is the final paragraph:

While taking issue with the jobs statistic, the White House touted other findings in the CBO report which said raising the wage would give 16.5 million low-wage workers a pay raise and lift about 900,000 out of poverty.

In other words, only the part of the CBO study the Administration didn’t like was junk; the part they did like, why they were gold, gold!

If we had listened to every economic prognostication and policy coming out of this Administration, why we should have full employment and not a single soul in poverty. And, very unfortunately, we did listen to them, passing the 2009 stimulus plan — remember, the one which was supposed to hold unemployment to a maximum of 8% — and the 2010 health care reform act, which was supposed to bend the cost curve down and save us money:

Health Law’s Impact Has Only Begun
Insurers Seek Healthy Enrollees, Doctors Educate New Patients, Employers Wrestle With Added Costs
By Anna Wilde Mathews | Updated Feb. 18, 2014 9:49 p.m. ET

On Jan. 1, the key provisions of the Affordable Care Act took effect. Americans gained access to new health plans subsidized by federal dollars. Insurers no longer can turn away people with existing conditions. Millions are now eligible for new Medicaid benefits.

But the federal law also upended existing health-insurance arrangements for millions of people. Companies worry about the expense of providing new policies, some hospitals aren’t seeing the influx of new patients they expected to balance new costs and entrepreneurs say they may hire more part-time workers to avoid offering more coverage.

The law’s true impact will play out over years. It will depend in part on whether backers overcome serious early setbacks, including crippling glitches in the new online insurance marketplaces and many states’ rejection of the Medicaid expansion. But another obstacle the law faces is pushback from some consumers and industry over the higher costs, complex rules and mandatory requirements it imposes.

More at the link.

They say that even a stopped clock is right twice a day. If so, a stopped clock is right a lot more often than the Obama White House!

Well, the voters had their say in 2012, and we’re stuck with the poltroon in the White House for the next two years, eleven months and one day. The only hope that we have is to elect more Republicans to Congress to try to limit the damage that our 44th President can cause over that time.

The delusions of the progressives

Thanks to Donald Douglas, I found this article on what “progressive” has actually meant in the past:

‘Progressivism’: the greatest source of death and terror in the twentieth century
By George Neumayr | Sun Feb 16, 2014 20:00 EST

February 14, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The English author George Orwell wrote that “political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” In the history of manipulative political language, the term “progressive” surely occupies a high place.

The term is used incessantly to describe policies, political figures, and churchmen, among others, whom a liberal elite deem enlightened. Through repetitive use of “progressive,” modern liberals have hoped to gull the public into equating progressive with progress. But no such equation is justified. The gulf between the rhetoric of “progress” and the reality of progress is glaring.

The darkness of the twentieth century is sufficient to dissuade anyone from confusing “progressive” with progress. Its vilest ideologies were all presented as “progressive.” In the name of bettering humanity, self-described progressives felt emboldened to “progress” beyond the most basic precepts of reason and the natural law.

While some causes labeled “progressive” in the twentieth century qualify as either innocuous or at least debatable, many were unmistakably evil. The century’s eugenic schemes, for example, came not from so-called reactionaries but from proud self-described progressives. The West’s leading judges and university presidents championed eugenics openly before World War II.

In the 1920s, Oliver Wendell Holmes, considered a pillar of progressivism, thought nothing of calling for widespread sterilization of whomever the elite considered inferior. After all, he wrote, “It is better for all the world if, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for the crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind…. Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”

More at the link.

While Mr Neumayr goes through the sad and sorry history of what the “progressives” thought to be progress, I’m interested in this quote he note from Hilary Clinton, during her thankfully-failed 2008 presidential campaign:

I prefer the word ‘progressive,’ which has a real American meaning, going back to the Progressive Era at the beginning of the 20th century. I consider myself a modern progressive – someone who believes strongly in individual rights and freedoms, who believes that we are better as a society when we’re working together and when we find ways to help those who may not have all the advantages in life, get the tools they need to lead a more productive life for themselves and their family. So I consider myself a proud modern American progressive, and I think that’s the kind of philosophy and practice that we need to bring back to American politics.

It would be difficult to find a more self-contradictory statement. You cannot both “(believe) strongly in individual rights and freedoms” and “(believe) that we are better as a society when we’re working together,” unless that second belief is one which is subordinate to the first, and hold that the rights of the individual to not go along with what others may want are paramount. The health care plan is a perfect example: Mrs Clinton believes that everyone should work together, to make us better as a society, if all buy health insurance . . . and supported a plan in which the individual’s right to choose not to buy health insurance was simply overridden.

But that is the essential nature of the “progressive:” if the “progressive” decides that something is in everyone’s better interests, then that something should be and must be imposed on everyone by the government, and the rights of those who disagree are simply inconsequential. Liberalism, progressivism, are necessarily incompatible with freedom, because they are based on the notion that state power can legitimately be used to enforce their ideas and policies.

€urosclerosis: Guess what? Austerity works!

It has been a while since we have addressed the crisis in Greece, the last article, €urosclerosis: Things are going to get better for Greece, coming last August, and now we see this from The Wall Street Journal:

Greek Budget Surplus Beats Target
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras Says 2013 Surplus Will Be Nearly Double Its Target
By Stelios Bouras | Feb. 16, 2014 8:02 a.m. ET

ATHENS—Greece’s primary budget surplus for 2013 will be nearly double its target, the country’s prime minister said Sunday.

Antonis Samaras said the primary budget surplus, which doesn’t take into account interest payments, will exceed €1.5 billion ($2.05 billion), compared with an upwardly revised target of €812 million.

The apparent improvement comes a year ahead of schedule and after years of tax rises and spending cuts demanded by international creditors in exchange for two bailouts worth a combined €240 billion. Athens wasn’t expected to achieve a primary surplus until the end of 2014, according to goals set by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

“I tell you now that it exceeds €1.5 billion,” Mr. Samaras is quoted as saying by weekly newspaper To Vima in comments confirmed by his office. “This means that a very large part of it will be returned this year to the community.”

More at the link. Equally interesting are the articles listed in the Journal’s Euro Debt Crisis Stream:1

  • Euro-Zone Recovery Picks Up Slightly
  • Italian Economy Emerges from Slump
  • Europe’s Recovery Gains Momentum
  • Greek Economy Contracts Less Than Expected

The economic picture in Europe is far from rosy, and the eurozone recovery is still below that required to make a significant reduction in unemployment, but the austerity programs put in place have been followed by an economic situation that is growing, slightly, and at least not getting any worse, while the naysayers – including the esteemed Paul Krugman had predicted that austerity programs would lead to a depression.

Let me put it very bluntly: they were wrong! The people who spent much newsprint, broadcast time and internet bandwidth telling us that we must spend, spend, spend to push a recovery, and that the austerity programs would make things worse, much worse, were wrong! Meanwhile, those of us who said that austerity might be unpleasant but it was the only path for responsible government leaders, were right.

Of course, it’s easy for Dr Krugman and his like-thinkers to tell us that we must borrow and spend ever more money, to get the nation and Europe out of recession, because they are actually responsible for nothing. If Dr Krugman’s predictions wind up wrong, as they have, there’s no harm done at all, at least not if his policy prescriptions were not employed by governments who believed him.   The men and women who actually are responsible for their country’s well-being have to be right, and the evidence is that the ones who chose austerity, the ones who (finally) opted for a conservative economic policy were right.

  1. All articles have the same hyperlink in the stream

Monuments Men

We saw The Monuments Men today. It was an interesting movie since it was a condensed version because hundreds of troops were involved in this WW2 adventure in real life, and maybe eight were shown as the main characters. It was interesting to see Bill Murray back in uniform after his last time it was in the comedy farce STRIPES. Irony abounded in the movie based on the actors. The lead Character was George Clooney. Clooney has been in a few war movies, but the absolute premise of the movie is 180 degrees opposed to Clooney’s Politics. But the main Premise espoused in the movie was Hilter was stealing other country’s National Treasures, which was the root of a country’s heritage and carting it off to Germany. What the Irony was from Clooney was that you can kill a country’s people, destroy its cities, but to take a Nation’s Heritage away, is to kill the nation.

I heard that, and what popped into my head is the destruction of the foundation of our reason for being the Nation We Were is being steadily and rapidly eroded by BO and his band of Progressives. I don’t know if Clooney saw the Irony, but it hit me like a lead brick.

From Around the Blogroll

William Teach noted that the real reason Mayor Bil DeBlasio kept New York City’s public schools open during Thursday’s heavy snowstorm wasn’t for education, but to provide babysiting services for city parents.

Phineas, writing on Sister Toldjah, noted that, in a pretty much unprecedented move, career foreign service officers are chiding the Obama Administration for the heavy emphasis on political, rather than professional, ambassadorial appointments, in the wake of some really rotten appointments. Jennifer Davis of the Victory Girls also wrote on the topic of pathetic ambassadorial appointments.

L D Jackson wrote about some idiocy in Oklahoma.

Hube was (sort of) amused that neither The New York Times nor a sitting federal judge appear to know what’s actually in the Constitution.

Donald Douglas noted the vote by the workers at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee rejecting the organizing attempts by the United Auto Workers union. Those of us who grew up in Kentucky never had much use for the state below us, but this action by real workingmen in the Volunteer State deserves a song in tribute:

Darleen Click of Protein Wisdom spotted yet another executive order by President Obama:

Not to worry: if someone did try to add Barack Obama to Mount Rushmore, the other four Presidents would get up and walk away.

Jeff Goldstein noted that 29% of American adults under 35 still live with their parents. Ain’t that Obama economy great!

Patterico wrote about an initiative by the Federal Communications Commission to “to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run.”

Robert Stacey Stacy McCain noted an article by Todd Zywicki criticizing E J Dionne’s article criticizing a book that he had obviously never read. Your Editor has never had much intellectual respect for Mr Dionne, who claims to be a Catholic and who writes for the lay Catholic journal Commonweal, which is about as Catholic as Nancy Pelosi and Andrew Cuomo and John Kerry, which is to say, not in the slightest. Mr Dionne is just terribly distraught that the “Austrian” school is blocking the use of Keynesian economics to fix our terrible economic problems, without understanding that Keynesian economics does not work! We tried a Keynesian approach to the recession, and it failed miserably.

William Jacobson of Le*gal In*sur*rec*tion is concerned that Dartmouth has promoted Amanda Childress, the Sexual Assault Awareness Program coordinator, who has said that the college could expel a student based upon an allegation of sexual assault, without an requirement for due process or any actual proof.

DNW wrote, on Truth Before Dishonor, about yet another federal government funded solar energy project.

When I was looking for the Rocky Top video above, YouTube had other suggestions, so I’ll wrap it up with Lester Flat and Earl Scruggs playing Foggy Mountain Breakdown at the Grand Ole Opry:

Rule 5 Blogging: I’m tired of snow edition!

It’s the weekend and time, once again, for THE FIRST STREET JOURNAL’S version of Rule 5 Blogging. Robert Stacey Stacy McCain described Rule 5 as posting photos of pretty women somewhat déshabillé, but, on this site, our Rule 5 Blogging doesn’t put up pictures of Elin Nordegren in her summer clothes, but women, in full military gear, serving their countries in the armed forces. The terribly sexist authors on this site celebrate strong women, women who can take care of themselves and take care of others, women who have been willing to put their lives on the line in some not-so-friendly places, women who truly do have the “We can do it!” attitude.

Since we’ve had all of this global warming recently — we got 2½ inches today, on top of the 6½ inches on Thursday, on top of the 12 inches over thre separate storms the previous week — I figured that I’d go to a snow country for this week’s photos, with military women from Sweden!

military_woman_sweden_army_000008

Continue reading ‘Rule 5 Blogging: I’m tired of snow edition!’ »