Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Just because I've been busy working (and, actually, playing) hard does not mean that I cannot accumulate tabs. Indeed, the load of jumping, bubbling tabs is overflowing the sides of its container, so before they are lost forever I am going to dump them for you to sort through. Herewith, while I listen to Handel on Rhapsody.com (which, by the way, I highly recommend).
According to The Economist, the United States ranks only in the middle for "quality of death." By comparison, the British, who are not known for excellent health care, go quietly into the night:
For all the health-care system’s faults, British doctors tend to be honest about prognoses. The mortally ill get plentiful pain killers. A well-established hospice movement cares for people near death, although only 4% of deaths occur in them. For similar reasons, Australia and New Zealand rank highly too.
Hey, a "well-established hospice movement" is the opiate of the masses.
For those of you interested in such things, the Latham & Watkins law firm has prepared a nice summary(pdf) of the new financial regulation law. Of course, the quickie summaries rarely pick up the really interesting sneaky stuff, like the oppressive and expensive provision in the health care reform bill (of all places) that requires businesses to issue 1099s to virtually everybody from whom they purchase goods and services. To wit: The Finreg law has raised the requirement for an investor to be "accredited" under the securities laws, and therefore able to invest in "private placements." Not only will this shrink the pool of "angel" capital just when we ought to enlarge it, but one will have to be relatively richer to invest in riskier (and therefore potentially higher return) opportunities. In other words, the rich will get richer, and the Democrats will no doubt wonder why.
Too optimistic: Equity analysts have overestimated annual corporate earnings growth for a quarter century. Well, there's a shocker.
Platoons: Fritz Crysler, World War II, and the making of modern college football. A nice read.
The 60 year-old credit bubble.
Here's liberal thinking for you:
Politically Correct Crybaby Andrew Breitbart Gets Another Black Person Fired
If only Andrew Breitbart had the power to fire third echelon political appointees in the Obama administration. Dude, the only person who can "get" somebody fired is the president. Dat said, from what I can tell Jonah gets it right.
A Timmins man has been sentence to four months in jail for theft after dumping poutine on a woman's head and running off with her purse.
How long would the sentence have been if he had snatched the purse without dumping poutine on her head?
In the actual treatment of women (as opposed to politically-correct adherence to feminist political objectives), will the Clinton-Gore ticket go down as the most degraded in American history? It is hard to see how it could be otherwise. (CWCID: Glenn)
Once again, the Obama administration proposes to increase the risks to businesses that might, some day, want to hire somebody. Because no pay is better than theoretically unequal pay. Perhaps related: A slide deck of economic ugliness.
"According to The Economist, the United States ranks only in the middle for "quality of death.""
Well, heaven forbid we have any low quality deaths around here. As a US Citizen, I demand the highest quality death on the planet! Something involving a sports car, a supermodel, ice cream, and an age of over a hundred please...
In the actual treatment of women (as opposed to politically-correct adherence to feminist political objectives), will the Clinton-Gore ticket go down as the most degraded in American history? It is hard to see how it could be otherwise.
Maybe so, but the Kennedy-Johnson ticket from 1960 would definitely be in the running. Jan Jarboe Russell, the author of Lady Bird: A Biography, talked about Lady Bird Johnson in a CNN interview.
And so when -- she did not like to discuss this, but when pressed on this matter about her husband's infidelity, she just said, look, half the population in the world are women and Lyndon loved everyone. And then there was a pensive pause and she said, "But I know he loved me best."
Given the respect I have for Lady Bird, for a variety of reasons, this saddens me.
I'm not American, and as such struggle to understand the 'two platoon' concept - why can't players all play the game for the duration of the game? It's not like they run around a great deal during the game... I'm not flaming, just looking for somebody to explain it to me (my Google Gland is a little lazy today).
Another teachable moment?
I saw a little of Larry O'Donnell last night as he filled in for Keith Olbermann -- uber-liberal O'Donnell snickered over the White House officially denying that it had no role in asking Vilsack to sack USDA Lady Shirley Sherrod so quickly. O'Donnell wasn't buying it.
Personally, I would have given the White House a pass, as it's just as plausible that Vilsack acted on his own initiative.
But this morning, in an exclusive for ABC's Good Morning America, Obama said that Vilsack "jumped the gun."
So I now think O'Donnell was right, as "the lady doth protest too much."
Silly as this all is, it's worth noting that it started with Michelle Obama going to the NAACP convention where (co-incidentally) the Tea Party was castigated as racist. Breitbart retaliated -- he was aiming at the NAACP ... Bill O'Reilly made it about Sherrod ... the next morning Vilsack forced her to resign.
The deeper story is that Obama has been playing the race card, hoping to rally his base and to guilt moderate white voters going into November. Instead, Obama stepped on his dick.
So, in similar fashion, the White House today announced that it will push for the Paycheck Fairness Act ... because women make less than men. I suspect Obama wants to force the Republicans to filibuster it, so he can say that they're anti-woman.
I think these initiatives are going to backfire on Obama, particularly with Independent voters. We're tired of being played, in a time of anxiety and crisis.
The economy won't get better between now and November.
If Independent voters turn out and vote 60% or better against incumbent Democrats, with weak Democratic turnout, we'll have a very interesting November. Many blue state districts are very difficult for a Republican challenger to win -- but on these assumptions we could see over 70 Democratic Congress-critters voted out.
AFAIK: The Sec. of Ag does not have the authority to sack political appointees. That comes straight from the President, through the Secretary. I think in their urgency to throw Shirley under the bus, they goofed. Now they're going to throw Vilsack under the bus to cover their first goof.
Brings to mind the story of the old lady who swallowed a fly....
Re: the implications of Obama's playing the race card, there's an interesting piece in today's Wall Street Journal: Diversity and the Myth of White Privilege. Interesting not so much for what's said as for who's saying it:
"... government programs to help all 'people of color' are unfair. They should end."
"Nondiscrimination laws should be applied equally among all citizens, including those who happen to be white."
"Memo to my fellow politicians: Drop the Procrustean policies and allow harmony to invade the public mindset. Fairness will happen, and bitterness will fade away."
The author is Senator Jim Webb, Democrat for Virginia. He was on Obama's short list for Vice President. Once upon a time, Webb had street cred among Democrats as the ex-Marine, ex-Secretary of the Navy who came close to punching out George W Bush over Iraq.
Webb doesn't run again until 2012, so this isn't just personal posturing for the Virginia cracker vote. It's a tell.
I predict that in a month, with Obama pushing the Paycheck Fairness Act, Webb will add "The Myth of Male Privilege."
Obama & Co profess that "we're all in this together." But it never quite works out that way in practice, does it?
Memo to Axelrod: You're not all running for Chicago City Council.
Another one for the "you couldn't make this up if you tried" file:
Obama: "Because of [Financial Reform] the American people will never again be asked to foot the bill for Wall Street’s mistakes."
Actually for Obama, Financial Reform was a Trojan Horse to get his Consumer Finance Protection Agency (CFPA). Whoever Obama appoints to run it will get a five-year term, guaranteed funding through the Fed's budget without any Congressional oversight, and a broad mandate to write rules on most kinds of consumer credit.
It's good to be Consumer Credit Czar! Next to Chairman of the Fed, heading the CFPA could become the most significant unaccountable position in DC.
Expect the CFPA's rules to lead to de facto race and gender-based credit quotas.
Auto lending isn't covered by the CFPA. The day after Obama signed the bill, GM (UAW) announced that it will buy subprime auto lender Americredit for $3.5 billion cash. Coincidence?
"In the actual treatment of women (as opposed to politically-correct adherence to feminist political objectives), will the Clinton-Gore ticket go down as the most degraded in American history? It is hard to see how it could be otherwise. (CWCID: Glenn)"
We only know about Clinton's problems because those damn women forgot their place in the Progressive Utopia.
Scenes from coming attractions:
Scene 1 -- The Budget Deficit ... Or ... How We're All Fucked
Obama has tried to spin a narrative that while the numbers are bad, thanks to him, there's at least a positive trend.
But the White House Budget office -- run by Baby Daddy Peter Orzag -- now says that the 2010 deficit will be a record $1.47 billion. With proper accounting, it'd actually be higher because 2010 gets credited for TARP paybacks which were expensed in 2009. Because of this lousy accounting, Obama had hoped to claim that his 2010 deficit was below Bush's 2009 deficit. Not to be. So the USA is borrowing 41 cents of every dollar it spends. Reread that last sentence slowly.
Orzag also raised his 2011 deficit projection to $1.42 trillion because of still-slumping tax revenues. He also predicts unemployment over 8.0% continuing into 2012.
Baby Daddy Orzag just said: "the numbers represent a "fiscal situation that requires attention."" No shit.
Orzag has previously announced his resignation, effective any day now.
Pretend this was a public company. A new charismatic but inexperienced CEO joins a company in turnaround. He keeps saying that losses will start to come down, but then spends most of his time revising the HR policy manual and playing golf. He adds new employee benefit plans, claiming that they'll pay for themselves ultimately. Then one day, the CFO up and quits.
A trillion is a big number.
The average small business costs far less than $500,000 to start. So one way to look at the trillion dollar annual structural deficits we're running is that we could instead be funding the start-up of over two million new small businesses every single year. Rinse and repeat.
Scene 2 -- Christmas in July?
One of the more amazing things to this nerd this past year, was how Obama sold Healthcare as cutting the deficit. "CBO certified" Obama said, even though Congressman Ryan told Obama to his face in a public hearing that "he'd make Bernie Madoff proud."
MSM danced to Obama's tune on this. Ezra Klein -- founder of JournoList -- was one of Obama's pipers.
But Healthcare won't cut the deficit. For openers Obama has already reversed himself on the Doc Fix, as expected. The elephant in the room is that Healthcare puts big new taxes on high earners -- these have nothing to do with Healthcare other than being included in the same bill -- they could be used for any purpose including to reduce the deficits we already have. Instead, Healthcare will likely increase spending by a trillion -- or two -- or three -- over the next decade.
Baby Daddy Orzag used to run the CBO. He was the point on gaming Healthcare's numbers to get them CBO-certified. Orzag was a member of JournoList.
We may or may not get the big JournoList data dump. Breitbart's offered $100,000 for it, no questions asked. Daily Caller has got some of it already, but it's not clear how they got it.
The following is speculation, but not crazy:
It'd have been natural for the folks on JournoList to have been discussing HealthCare around the time it got adopted.
So what happens if we learn that the folks on JournoList knew that saying "Healthcare will cut the deficit" was false but still danced to Obama's tune anyway.
That'd be a Holy Shit Headline, wouldn't it?
Scene 3: What is to Be Done?
Quote yesterday from a celebrity Democrat: “The federal government has let us down … it’s killing the economy here … the federal government is about to kill us.”
Guess who said it? Answer below.
I looked at the Obama-Orzag 2011 budget ("O/O") which just came out -- our Ten-Year Plan. It's here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/
It's worth looking at anything at whitehouse.gov just for the Orwellian giggles: e.g. "A New Era of Responsibility: The 2011 Budget"
O/O is a horrorshow. It shows $1.5 trillion deficits in its early years and then projects a "new normal" of greater than $700 billion deficits in its later years, on optimistic assumptions.
O/O assumes "receipts" grow at 9.1% each year from 2011 to 2015. This is mostly driven by assuming a 4.25% GDP growth rate. The CBO instead assumes 2.2%. I think we'll be lucky to hit the CBO's 2.2% on current course.
2010 receipts are 14.8% of GDP, which is below the long-term average of around 17.5% to 18.0%. This happens in a recession, especially because there's "leverage" in progressive tax rates. Obama can say that he inherited this shortfall, and in 2009 he'd be right ... but not in 2010. O/O assumes we'll be back to a more normal 18.1% in 2012, and then grow to 19.5% for the rest of the Ten-Year Plan-- again this is driven by a high assumed GDP growth.
If you compare "O/O 2010" with "O/O 2009 actual" there's interesting changes in the assumptions. Most notably, they're off by about 2.0% on unemployment. Labor expert Larry Summers thought we'd be below 8.0% right now. That difference can be (and should be) attributed to the chilling effect Obama has had on the private sector. "That difference" is over three million people -- higher if you include those no longer looking. "That difference" -- not "jobs saved" -- is the true measure of What Obama Wrought.
But the biggest thing going on in O/O is its assumption that "outlays" -- which used to average 18.0 to 19.0% of GDP -- will stay over 25%. O/O has 2011 at 25.1%, then dropping to around 23% for the rest of the Ten-Year Plan -- but the drop to 23% is driven by high assumed GDP growth. We can easily come in higher than 25% if Healthcare doesn't work as planned.
So we take in 15%, and spend 25% -- how long can we do that?
No wonder Budget Director Orzag is quitting.
O/O charges the Fiscal Commission to balance the budget by 2015 excluding interest, report due in December 2011. Obama committed to something like this at the recent G20 meeting.
I don't know why they need to wait until December. I can do it right now. Here's the Chinese Menu version ... pick any one of what follows, or "share":
(A) Double the personal income tax. You can call it a "progressive VAT" if you want.
(B) Eliminate Medicare/Medicaid entirely, but keep collecting the associated payroll taxes.
(C) Eliminate Social Security entirely, but keep collecting the associated payroll taxes.
(D) Eliminate the Department of Defense / Department of Homeland Security entirely, with a few extra cuts elsewhere.
Obama-Axelrod have planned for this all along. They want "A": A social revoultion won without a shot, effected through the Internal Revenue Code. But if you do the math, it won't work unless you push the increases down on lower brackets too -- high earners just don't make enough. This is before any John Galt effect, which we're already seeing.
Congressman Ryan wants a half order of "B."
Some asshole called Link wrote about exactly this here two years ago. You can work it out on a napkin. Like he's was saying, the fight will be between "those who get government checks" and "those who pay for them." Also, the Bush-Cheney wing of the Republican party won't be part of the solution ... they only helped contribute to the problem.
"Bienvenidos a argentina !"
The "federal government is about to kill us” quote is from James Carville. Carville is crying over the Gulf spill, but I suspect he sees the bigger picture too. He's not a dumb man, and he has a smart wife.