Wednesday, September 28, 2016

President Narcissus Strikes Again

America's most self-centered, ego-maniacal President in modern history threw a hissy fit today because, *GASP!*, the United States Congress exercised it's Constitutional authority to override his veto of a bill allowing the families of 9/11 victims to go to court and sue Saudi Arabia. Note please that it does not guarantee any compensation, it merely gives these citizens the right to address an alleged wrong in a court of law, a basic right under, you guessed it, our Constitutional system of government. It wasn't really close. The Senate voted 97-1, with only irrelevant crony Harry Reid to cast a sycophantic and empty gesture vote against. The House voted 348-77 to override his veto. Again, this ability is a central part of the checks and balances system that President Obama so loathes.

The backlash by the Hectorer-In-Chief was swift and predictable. White House Mouth of Sauron spokesman Josh Earnest called it an embarrassment:

“I would venture to say that this is the single most embarrassing thing that the United States Senate has done, possibly, since 1983,” Obama spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One.

If he thinks that is the most embarrassing thing the Senate has done in the last 33 years, he is not really paying attention. You could pretty much pick any action taken by the Senate on a random day and find something more embarrassing. Again,  the real outrage here is not the veto per se but the idea that the peasants in the United States Congress should show such contempt for their Glorious Leader and His Divine Will. I mean really, how dare the ignorant, unwashed Congressmen question the decree of President Obama? Don't they know that He rules from on high by Divine Mandate, or in other words by His Own Will?

The Dear Leader Himself weighed in, calling the veto a "mistake". Of course anything anyone does at any time that is not blessed by Himself is of course a mistake. He complained that it was, again *GASP!*, a POLITICAL VOTE! A political vote?! In a political body?! Cast by....politicians?! Thwarting another politicians, er, Imperial Majesty?! The horror of it all!

He went on (of course, my emphasis):

Obama did, however, say “all of us still carry the scars and trauma of 9/11,” acknowledging that the victims of the attacks deserve support and compensation for their losses. The White House administration established a victim’s compensation fund. Regardless, the president said he feels the law could have a damaging impact on the U.S. 

Obama told Tapper that the U.S. has set up a “status of forces agreements,” which guarantees that any deployed U.S. troops are protected from similar private lawsuits — a deal that is acknowledged by several countries because the U.S. honors it with them as well.

Ah, I see. Someone else commits a terrorist attack on American soil, murdering almost 3000 American citizens, supported and funded in all likelihood by a foreign government and of course their families should be compensated!

By their fellow Americans. 

Read that again. American citizens should have to pay to compensate other American citizens for a terrorist attack by foreigners with the support of foreign governments. That is kind of like making he family of a murder victim reimburse the murderer for the cost of the bullets.

America is responsible for compensating Americans murdered by foreigners. Only in the fever swamp of Obama's imagination does that not cause outrage.

If we are concerned about other countries suing our troops who are deployed there, then I have a swell idea. Don't deploy our troops there. They don't get sued and we save a ton of money. Win, win!

Maybe it was a political stunt but I would rather that our citizens get their day in court than have the Administration sweep Saudi involvement under the rug. I mean sure, the Saudi's are our buddies (except for women visiting their kingdom) and buy lots of guns from us that they use to starve and slaughter people in Yemen but that all pales compared to the embarrassment felt by our Luminous Star.

Never in my memory has their ever been a man who is so unsuited to the job of President than Barack Obama. He is simply too small of a man to hold the highest office in this land or any other.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Cops And Context: A Plea For Common Sense

Before I start. two opening points.

First, being a cop on patrol and responding to calls is a highly dangerous, immensely stressful job. A person in a call center can take the next call without worrying about getting killed. A cop has that thought, they might be killed, just about every single time they do their job. I would not do their job even if I was able to do so within the boundaries of my faith. I think that for the vast majority of cops the last thing they want to do while on duty is pull their gun and want even less to have to use it.

Second, there are obviously people who are bad people on police forces around the country, just as their are bad doctors and bad garbage men. Racism exists among some cops. An attraction to having power over others and a license to commit violence also exists. Police are the primary enforcement mechanism of the coercive state. As such I am naturally a little suspicious of the police.

As of this morning, the violence in Charlotte is undiminished. More cops hurt by rioters. More stores looted, property damaged. A man is in critical condition right now after being shot, allegedly by someone other than the police. The national guard is being mobilized.

It is a scene we have observed again and again. For people like me who live way out in the country, it is fairly remote and distant but it certainly reinforces the idea of cities as dangerous places you don't want to go. For people who live in urban areas it is a growing reality, a new "normal" of discontent and violence.

I am not looking to comment in general about the logic of protesting violence with more violence, including damaging your own neighborhoods. I am just asking for some common sense.

The response in Charlotte at first blush seems to me, not to put too fine a point on it, insane. People are rioting and causing damage and injury because a cop shot a man holding a gun who refused a lawful order to drop it. I believe in an absolute, unalienable right of free citizens of the United States to keep and bear arms. I also recognize that the police, while in the act of carrying out their duties, have a perfectly reasonable expectation that a person with a gun who is asked to drop said gun or otherwise remove the immediate threat it poses because of a volatile situation. Too many cops get shot in this country to expect cops to wait until someone actually starts shooting at them before returning fire. If I were legally hunting and came across a game warden, I would set my gun down or at least break open the action so it wasn't an immediate threat. That is just common sense and common courtesy. People with any background in handling guns safely and properly understand why a gun in your hands can be seen as a threat.

My point here today is simple. Those who are in leadership positions within the black community have a responsibility to show some common sense for the sake and protection of their own people and it is absolutely necessary if they are going to make a difference. Here is what I mean. If you respond to what seems to be a completely justifiable shooting like the one in Charlotte and previously of Michael Brown in Ferguson in the same way you do what looks like a sketchy shooting in Tulsa, you completely lose your credibility. I believe the average citizen of this country, white or black or whatever, understands why the cop in Charlotte shot Keith Lamont Scott. So when you have religious leaders who describe it in terms like "modern day lynching" and threatening more violence if "justice" is not served and you have people attacking cops and looting Wal-Mart in response, it looks like people are just taking advantage of a situation to carry out depraved behavior.

When you respond to every shooting, justified or not, with the same message, it looks to the rest of the country like you are anti-cop and anti-law and are simply looking for an excuse to cause mayhem. It is sort of a "boy who cried wolf" situation. If you say "this is unjust!" when someone is shot without provocation but you also say "this is unjust!" when someone is shot for a valid reason, it all starts to sound the same and your message is diluted. If your concern is a perceived propensity for cops to use lethal force against black men that is unwarranted by the situation, then stop sticking your face in front of any microphone you can find when someone is justifiably shot. If you don't, people will stop listening to you and nothing will ever change. If you think that cops should never shoot anyone then you are dumb and should just shut up in general.

By all means, speak out when there is injustice being done but first take some time to think through what qualifies as unjust and what doesn't. A man in the dark with a gun in his hand who refuses clear, verbal instructions from cops to drop it is an immediate, lethal threat that cops have to respond to. The shooting of an armed black man by a black police officer is sad and unfortunate but completely justified if the facts bear out the description from the police.

So please just take a moment. I know we are in an era of immediate feedback to every event but take some time to think about what is just and unjust before calling for justice. If the black community leaders in Charlotte said something like "This was an unfortunate loss of life but it appears to be justified. Let's let the investigation take it's course and in the meantime let's focus on situations where the shooting seems unjustified", it would quell many of the violent "protests" and place the focus on where it needs to be.

When you cry wolf and paint with the broadest of brushes regardless of the facts, you dilute your message and are rightly discounted by most Americans. That isn't helping anyone but the people who have a vested interest in stirring up racial division wherever possible.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Political Hypocrisy At It's Finest, Fauxcahontas Style

So, far left Senator Elizabeth Warren took the time yesterday to grill the CEO of Wells Fargo, one John Stumpf about the recent banking scandals where many bankers were engaged in shady behavior that was rewarded. Now Wells Fargo has got some 'splaining to do and I am writing some notes of my own using my experience as a bank manager but I couldn't help but notice the faux outrage from Senator Warren who seems to think that the CEO of Wells Fargo should resign and be criminally investigated. Of course this is the same stalwart defender of honesty and ethical behavior who endorsed Hillary Clinton for President.

Unethical behavior at a business? Off with his head!

Unethical behavior while a public official? Let's elect her to be our next President!

Hypocrisy, thy name is Elizabeth Warren

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Wow. Megalomaniac Much President Narcissus?

President Obama has apparently decided that after almost 8 wasted years of his Presidency the time has come to use the time he has left in office to campaign for Hillary Clinton on the tax-payer's dime. Perhaps he is having a tough time getting a tee time at his favorite golf courses. Anyhoo, last night Obama said something very telling last night to the Congressional (Liberal) Black Caucus, emphasis mine :

President Barack Obama said Saturday night he will take it as a "personal insult" if the African-American community fails to turn out for the presidential election and encouraged black voters to support Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Obama delivered his final keynote address to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, symbolically passing the torch to the person he hopes will succeed him next year. Clinton, his former secretary of state, was honored for becoming the first female presidential nominee of a major party.

Obama said his name may not be on the ballot, but issues of importance to the black community were, including justice, good schools and ending mass incarceration.

"I will consider it a personal insult, an insult to my legacy if this community lets down its guard and fails to activate itself in this election," Obama said with a stern look and booming passion. "You want to give me a good send-off, go vote."

Wow. You know what is really insulting? One man declaring that if blacks don't vote (and of course mindlessly vote for only Democrats), it will be a "personal insult" and "an insult to my legacy". Read his words again:

I will consider it a personal insult, an insult to my legacy if this community let's down it's guard

It is true that many Presidents are concerned about their legacy and how history will view them, especially near the end of their time in office. No one that I know of has scolded an entire group of people because if they don't do what he says, based solely on the color of their skin, it might taint his legacy. Who else is so pompous that they arrogantly command people to get out and vote for someone else because not doing so might make Obama look bad?

Of course his sycophantic would be successor who is banking on the black vote:

"We need ideas not insults, real plans to help struggling Americans in communities that have been left out and left behind, not prejudice and paranoia. We can't let Barack Obama's legacy fall into the hands of someone who doesn't understand that, whose dangerous and divisive vision for our country will drag us backwards," she said.

I guess when you are despised by the people of America and known as a dishonest snake oil salesman, you have to appeal to blacks to vote for you so that they don't taint the all-important legacy of President Obama. Hillary's entire campaign revolves around a) staying out of sight as much as possible and b) pointing out that she in not Donald Trump. There is no real reason to vote for her unless you just care about the first female President or not having Trump as President. It is the weakest argument of any Presidential candidate I can remember, 

Sssh! Don't interrupt me peon! I'm
pondering my legacy!
I have noticed through the disaster known as the Obama Presidency that he references himself more than any President in my lifetime. His speeches are full of "I" and "me" no matter what the topic. To him the Presidency is nothing more than a global platform to remind everyone of just how great he is. This angry rant about black voters not tainting his legacy is outrageous. When I say he shows signs of megalomania, I am not engaged in hyperbole. You really kind of need to be arrogant in some respects to be successful at certain jobs. I think of surgeons, of jet fighter pilots, sports. A quarterback who is uncertain of himself is going to get sacked a lot. A surgeon who is afraid to make a decision knowing it is the right thing is going to kill a lot of patients. So much more is true to become President. You have to go out day after day and tell the American people that out of some 300,000,000+ Americans, you and you along are the right person to run this nation. It takes some pride. But Barack Obama has taken that to a whole new level. No one else has been so open and unapologetic about using the power and prestige of the Presidency to showcase himself, his purported brilliance and charm. When he uses the bully pulpit to harangue and scold Americans like a bunch of children, wagging his finger at us and telling us how much we have disappointed him yet again, he exposes his contempt for the American people and America itself. 

Next January can't come soon enough. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Criminal Activity Isn't The Crime, Feeling That You Need To Commit Criminal Acts Is The Crime

If the title of this post makes no sense to you, be relieved because it means you still are at least somewhat sane. If the title of this post makes any sense to you whatsoever you need to seek professional help.

So in the "Irony" category comes a story of a "Black Lives Matter (*When Killed By Cops)" activist who was robbed at gunpoint near the University of Houston where he is a grad student. The reason that this is ironic is two-fold.

First, here is a young black man being robbed by another young-ish black man. Black on black crime is a vastly more serious problem that the cases of excessive and/or unjustified lethal force by cops toward young black men but that gets very little press.

Second, what did the "Black Lives Matter" activist, Jerry Ford Jr. (no relation to former President Gerald Ford), do when he was robbed? Well is seems he contacted....the police. Weird how that works, given the rhetoric out of the BLM movement you would think he would be more scared to call the cops than be robbed at gunpoint.

What really makes this article so insane is this comment from Mr. Ford:

"It's becoming a pattern. I hope they would take a bigger stance and put more security over here because you have a lot of people walking back and forth to class," Ford said. 

As scary as this was, Ford actually feels bad for the guy. 

"I would've gave him money," he said. "I would've talked to him because the real crime is why is he in that position that he feels the need to come and hang out at a college campus and rob people of stuff they worked for."

A couple of thoughts. First Mr. Ford is calling for more security or a "bigger stance", not sure what that means because I am not a graduate student, (and this is off-campus) which presumably means....more cops. I thought cops were scary and all a bunch of trigger-happy racists? Wouldn't having more cops around make things worse?

Second, setting aside the statement "I would've gave him money" coming from a grad student, Mr. Ford immediately assumes that this gunman is actually the victim, forced into a life of crime because of white privilege or latent racism or whatever excuse he could come up with. This guy didn't really want to chat. He wanted Mr. Ford's money and was quite willing to threaten Mr. Ford's life with a gun pointed at him to get Mr. Ford's money. We call those sorts of people "criminals", regardless of their skin color or circumstances. Lots and lots of people grow up poor and with various barriers that make success more difficult. Very few of them point guns at people and steal their money. Poverty doesn't automatically make you a criminal and it never, ever, ever excuses stealing from someone and threatening their life.

Third, I like the last part decrying the act of: "rob people of stuff they worked for". That is precisely what the government does every day. A person works for a paycheck and the government takes part of it away from them and the threat accompanying that act is every bit as real as a gun pointed at you outside your apartment. Weird because a lot of BLM activists seem to think that they are right to demand what others have worked for but not when it is "stuff they worked for".

I wonder if they cover the idea of irony with grad students at the University of Houston?

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Right, That Must Be It

Last night Hillary Clinton, perhaps caught up in the fervor of speaking to America's new favorite protected class, homosexuals, in much the same way she gets caught up speaking at black churches by adopting a risible "black accent", made a keen observation about Trump voters backed up by mounds of facts. She stated that half of all Trump supporters were motivated by hate:

"To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables," Clinton said. "Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it."

She added, "And unfortunately, there are people like that and he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people, now have 11 million. He tweets and retweets offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric."

Clinton went on to say that some of these people were "irredeemable" and "not America."

As if Clinton has any idea of what is or is not "America".

So according to Hillary Clinton there are at a minimum some 5-6 million American citizens who are supporting Trump because they are racist, sexist, blah, blah, blah. Her evidence for this incredible observation is that she says it is so. Millions and millions of Americans are haters and that is why they support Trump and not her, because after all there can't be any other reason to not support Mrs. Clinton. Right? Well in the same CNN piece I linked above we see a graph of a recent poll that suggests that people are voting for Trump not so much because they are sexist/ homophobic /racist / whatever but because Mrs. Clinton is the one who should be seen as being in the "basket of deporables".

Oops. It looks like Hillary is just a lightning rod, someone who is virulently unlikable and has such a sordid past that millions of people rightly don't trust her as far as they could throw her. No doubt that all of those people who are against Clinton are sexist. There is no reason any rational person would not support Hillary apart from irredeemable sexism. Or maybe there is...

Hillary Clinton has been in the public eye since her "husband" became President. She has consistently left a trail of corruption and the occasional "suicide" in her wake. She is an unpleasant person even in public unlike most politicians who can at least pretend to be a decent person in front of the camera and her statements above, far from being "startlingly blunt", are actually par for the course with her. Being vindictive and nasty is her main mode of operation. Recall the "vast right wing conspiracy"? Far from being "startling blunt", Clinton has always made sweeping, ad hominem accusations against anyone who dared to question her or her husband. Before she announced she was running again this campaign she already had incredibly bad polling numbers. As a people we have had a taste of Clinton in power and we don't want anymore, thank you very much.

Imagine the outrage from the Clinton campaign and her media lapdogs if Trump said that half of her supporters were unemployed, lazy, drug using, welfare recipients (for the record, he might very well have said exactly that at some point.). You would be hearing outrage about racism, dog whistles, etc. until the cows came home. You don't have to guess anyway, just recall the outrage over Mitt Romney's private comments about the 47%. It is a sign of how bad things are for her that she is starting to trail in some polls and even CNN is reporting her comments, even though they had on a professional Clinton defender who invoked the laughable "alt-right" conspiracy to explain Clinton's statements. As an aside, "alt-right" is just the modern iteration of "vast right wing conspiracy". It is essentially meaningless but it makes for a convenient way to discredit any opposing argument, as if anyone who marks a ballot for someone other than Hillary Clinton is a Grand Wizard of the KKK.

What I take from Clinton's comment is something that is pretty simple and that has been obvious for her entire campaign, and really her entire career, and that is a revulsion toward working people who are not on board with the social revolution. When I was younger the Democrats at least pretended to be on the side of the "working man", pursuing policies that they said would help blue collar workers. Now those workers, many of whom are unionized, have no place at the table for the new and improved Democrat party. The Obama/Clinton Democrat party is focused on the elites in coastal cities, including and especially Wall Street millionaires at banks and hedge funds (and if you think they have been paying her millions in speaking fees because they think she is going to "crack down" on banks, you have no idea how the world works), minorities, especially Hispanics, and above all else the sexual revolution. Promises of stuff like "free" college are just ways to get low information voters to show up and vote for that "free" stuff. The real target audience for Clinton are people who advance the cultural revolutionary movement to remake America into something very different from what it has been in the past. It is a movement that champions the self, self-expression and especially self-gratification, above any other issue and is run by the bureaucratic elites in Washington, the education establishment and cultural icons who help fund the movement and give it credibility. Anyone who works for a living doing regular stuff and is worried about the direction of this country, which any sane person should be, must be racist or homophobic just like anyone who wonders why black lives only seem to matter when a cop kills them is racist or someone who is concerned about "transgender" men showering with their daughters must be homophobic.

As much as they want to let this latest outrage slide, I am hoping the media will continue to call her out on it. You can't try to take the moral high ground by slandering millions of Americans. Of course the moral high ground in this campaign looks more like a cesspool but that is what he have to deal with.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Political Correctness Is Killing People

A brief note.

I check out the Chicago Tribune periodically to see what happened over the weekend in what is turning out to be an incredibly violent year that seems to mostly impact minorities. Not just gang members or drug dealers but little kids. According to a separate story, 27 children have been shot so far this year in Chicago. This number only includes those 13 and under so it doesn't include 17 year old minors involved in gun violence. So the latest from last weekend showed that the carnage is proceeding unchecked: 52 shot: Pace of gun violence in Chicago remains high over another weekend. The article points out that this is a trend:

Between Friday evening and early Monday morning, at least 52 were shot and nine of them were killed, according to police. The weekend before, 49 people were shot, nine of them fatally. And the weekend before that, 52 people were shot, seven of them fatally.

Three weekends. 153 people shot, 25 of them fatally. That is just the weekends. When I read a little further I saw this (emphasis mine):

As he has many times, (Chicago police superintendent) Johnson called for stricter prison sentences for repeat illegal gun offenders. Efforts over the years in Springfield to impose mandatory minimum sentences for people caught with an illegal gun have been stalled by lawmakers who felt such guidelines would disproportionately affect African-Americans and other minorities

Without revealing specifics, Johnson said a new bill in the works in Springfield would enable judges to impose more sentences on the higher end of the range for felons convicted more than once of carrying a gun illegally.

What?! Guess how else minorities are "disproportionately affected" guessed it, they are the majority of victims of violent crime carried out often by other minorities, most of whom I presume have illegal guns given the ridiculous gun laws in Chicago that yield us 153 people shot in three weekends.

Activists are more concerned about a minority getting caught with an illegal gun (which is against the law, hence the "illegal" part) than they are about other minorities, many of whom are not carrying an illegal gun and often seem to not be engaged in illegal activity, getting shot. In other words, these PC champions would rather a six year girl get shot, as happened last weekend, than an adult criminal who is actively breaking the law get arrested for...breaking the law. It is without question in my mind that some or many people who might not have been shot have ended up in the hospital or the morgue because of this political correctness run amok. People, again largely minority, riot and burn down their own neighborhoods when a black man pointing a gun at a black police officer gets himself shot but they have nothing to say to the Al Sharpton's/Jesse Jackson's/ Black Lives Matter people who have frightened law makers into this level of suicidal foolishness. I don't imagine many mothers stand over the graves of their slain son or daughter and think "Well at least minorities are not being disproportionately affected by stricter laws against possessing an illegal gun".

Wake up people. These clowns who are always yammering on TV and shaking people down for money don't care a whit about black kids getting killed. All they care about is fattening their own wallet and seeing their mug on TV.

Even in this day and age there aren't many news stories that are as infuriating as this one.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Tragic Irony

Today is day two of the Democratic National Convention and after a day of chaos the Dems are looking for a quieter day today. The news reported that the theme for the day at the DNC, besides "Please Look At Anything Else Other Than The DNC Colluding With Hillary To Deny The Nomination To Senator Sanders", is "A Lifetime Of Fighting For Children And Families". According to the blurb at NPR that means:

Tuesday will feature the roll call vote and how Hillary Clinton has spent her entire career working to make a difference for children, families and our country. The Mothers of the Movement participating include Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner; Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin; Maria Hamilton, mother of Dontré Hamilton; Lucia McBath, mother of Jordan Davis; Lezley McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown; Cleopatra Pendleton-Cowley, mother of Hadiya Pendleton; Geneva Reed-Veal, mother of Sandra Bland.

Well I will agree that Mrs. Clinton has "made a difference" by generally making things worse for children, families and our country. Just like her old boss who promised "change", we got "change" all right, just all for the worse.

A couple of quick notes before my main point. It strikes me as fitting that the theme for the day separates "children" and "families" into two distinct topics since that has been the apparent goal of the Left for decades, getting children away from their families as early as possible and keep them away as late as possible via the "education" system. In a world that is functioning correctly, most children are part of families and most families are made up of a father, a mother and children. Of course even in the most idyllic settings that is not the case in every example but the closer a people come to that ideal, the healthier it is. That of course is not what people like Hillary Clinton want. For people like her it seems that the least qualified and trustworthy people to raise children are the parents of those children.

Also ironic is that the "Mothers of the Movement" includes the mother of Trayvon Martin, killed while viciously assaulting George Zimmerman, who is a jerk but that doesn't excuse banging his head on concrete, and the mother of "Gentle Giant" Michael Brown who was justifiably shot while attacking a police officer. Their inclusion should tip you off that this is nothing but convention window dressing, "Look, we care about black people", while they pursue destructive policies that have poisoned almost the entire black community and re-enslaved so many through dependence on government.

The real tragedy of the theme for today is that Hillary Clinton and her cronies can declare that she has spent "her entire career", a "lifetime" fighting for children while at the same time making a critical component of her career and her campaign the legalization and availability of abortion services which murder those children she has been "fighting for" her entire life. Only in America, in the Democratic Party, can someone be a strident advocate for infanticide while simultaneously claiming to be a champion fighting for children.

Don't talk to me about being a champion for children when you have the unwavering support of the butchers at Planned Parenthood. Don't act like you have a monopoly on caring for kids when picking a VP running mate with a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood but who timidly acknowledges that his religion opposes abortion gets people on the Left in a tizzy.

Also don't talk to me about children when you were the foreign policy lackey of an administration that has left a bloody wake behind it in the form of dead civilians, including children, who were victims of the drone strikes that Obama loves to order.

I know that most politicians and both political parties in America make a practice of lying and deceiving but in recent history none has done so with more audacity and arrogance than Hillary Clinton and her counterpart Donald Trump. A less likable, a less trustworthy pair of candidates to choose from has never existed in my lifetime. I do know this for a fact, a Clinton presidency seals the fate of millions of children and no amount of risible convention themes can cover that up.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Keep Your Eyes On The Clowns

In political terms this weekend is kind of like the All-Star weekend in baseball, sitting in the middle of the two major party conventions. Sadly there will not be a home run derby. Not much is happening, other than Mrs. Clinton picking Tim Kaine as her running mate, a guy about as vanilla and interesting as my now former governor Mike Pence. According to Politico Kaine is one of those "devout Catholics" who is "...personally opposed to the death penalty and abortion, but he has a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood". Whatever that means. If you oppose abortion because it takes the life of an unborn child rather than because you are obligated to say so by your religion, it makes no sense to be "pro-life" for an hour on Sunday and pro-abortion the rest of the week. Anyway, a recap of the convention season at the mid-point.

Last week brought us a celebration of the cult of personality. Conventions are always about the nominee and spotlighting them but this week was like no other. The party seemed completely irrelevant, the governing principles that are supposed to unite conservatives into the GOP were set aside for a celebration of Donald Trump. We were treated to a minor uproar over a small section of Mrs. Trump's speech that was lifted from Mrs. Obama's prior convention speech. Other than that it was all Donald, all the time. I was very surprised that there was very little violence outside of the convention itself. I really expected some serious violence so either the lefties realized that mobs attacking people doesn't make people want to vote for Hillary or the fact that open carry of firearms is permitted in Ohio. Either way there was little to distract from Donald talking about Donald.

Next week will have the pleasure of listening to four days of speaker after speaker proposing untold new government programs and spending to fix our ills. There will be no topic which will not be accompanied by a speech telling us why we need more government involvement, that if we just add one more regulation or tax increase or additional spending we can end poverty/racism/sexism/climate change/insert liberal dogma here. If we were to add up all of the new spending that will be proposed next week we might conceivably double the Federal "budget". You can be sure there will be ample pandering to "Black Lives Matter", including the mothers of a number of black men killed in encounters with the cops, a group called "Mothers Against Police Violence", not to be confused with "Mothers For Police Violence". Included in this group is the mother of Michael Brown, a giant of a man who was killed by an officer in self-defense while attacking that police officer (and right after strong arming a shopkeeper and stealing from his store). Of course this is a political convention and facts don't matter, only the narrative. Too bad there won't be anyone speaking from "Mothers Against Black On Black Violence" or "Mothers Against Our Sons Breaking The Law". Ironically the convention will be protected from violence by police officers. I guess being surrounded by cops with guns is OK when they are protecting a political convention.

Meanwhile while the world is worrying about Melania Trump and Pokemon GO, the U.S. Treasury released the latest national debt number. It is a big number: Federal Debt Hits $19,400,000,000,000. If you peruse the campaign pages of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump you will see nothing about dealing with the debt, they are too concerned with spending more money "Free college!", "Build a border wall!", etc. Only Gary Johnson recognizes the debt as a threat to the national security of America:

By the time Barack Obama leaves office, the national debt will be $20 TRILLION. That is not just obscene, it is unsustainable — and arguably the single greatest threat to our national security.

Even Johnson is concerned mostly with balancing the budget rather than paying down the existing debt but that is a lot better than the other two who promise to increase the debt. His webpage even claims that"Governor Johnson has pledged that his first major act as President will be to submit to Congress a truly balanced budget. No gimmicks, no imaginary cuts in the distant future. ".

It is a national crisis and humiliation that only one candidate for President even mentions balancing the budge and addressing the debt and most people think voting for him is a "wasted vote".

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

We Can't Spend Our Way To Smarterer Kids

Every political season brings us a bevy of empty slogans and no topic gathers more vague and meaningless blathering than "education". A politician can be against abortion or against guns or against strict immigration laws or against higher taxes but no one who wants to hold public officer can be against "education". I intentionally put the word "education" in quotes because, like "national defense" spending, very little of the money spent on "education" is used to educate kids. I made a few comments on my main blog about this, that we use words in clumsy and often intentionally deceptive ways to confuse a conversation and no one more so than in government.

In our political discourse, "caring about kids" and "improving education" is always, 100% of the time, code for "more spending, especially Federal spending, on the educational bureaucracy". For example, Hillary Clinton has a number of entries on the topic of "education" on her campaign website, from obvious ones like "Early Childhood Education" where she pledges to pour more cash down a proven waste of money like Head Start, increasing the number of kids in "high-quality preschool" and providing "child care" and scholarships for "student parents". Of course "high-quality preschool" equals more kids in government run programs rather than more kids home with their mother or father because there is no place more dangerous or inappropriate for a child before they are shipped off to government schools quite like their own home. Then there is her K-12 education stance promising to provide "A world-class education for every child in every community". In case you weren't sure, that means lots and lots of new and expanded Federal "education" spending. In a concession to Bernie Sanders, who showed with his lukewarm endorsement of Clinton that he is nothing like the messianic crusader he and his legion of star struck followers believed, Hillary proposes "The New College Compact" which magically makes college free for 80% of all families:

Every student should have the option to graduate from a public college or university in their state without taking on any student debt. Under Hillary’s plan, by 2021, families with income up to $125,000 will pay no tuition at in-state four-year public colleges and universities—covering more than 80 percent of all families. And from the start of the plan, every student from a family making $85,000 a year or less will be able to go to an in-state four-year public college or university without paying tuition. Students at community college will also pay no tuition.

Absolutely! If there is anything that we have learned about human nature it is this, when you make something completely "free" and remove any personal investment in something, it becomes super valuable to the people who have it handed to them. I am sure that making college "free" will not encourage young people who have little interest in a college education nevertheless hanging out for four years on the tax payer dime before they take their X-box and bong and move back into mom's basement. As an added bous:

Hillary will also restore year-round Pell Grant funding, so low- and middle-income students have the support they need to take the classes that will put them on the path to graduation throughout the year.

None of those pesky summer jobs for our children! The last thing we want are kids graduating from college with some sort of real work experience that would interfere with their social justice training. Free college has to include year round free college. But lest you think colleges get off for free (emphasis mine)....

Colleges and universities will be accountable for improving outcomes and controlling costs to ensure that tuition is affordable and that students who invest in college leave with a degree.

I am sure that if your access as a college or university to unlimited Federal "education" money is dependent on students getting a degree, then every student is going to get a degree. If you are a sucker like me and actually put in some effort and personal investment into getting a degree you can thank Hillary because if she becomes President having a college degree will be worth about what getting a high school diploma means now, basically nothing.

Of course what would a super expensive proposal be without a promised hit to the "rich": Fully paid for: This plan will be fully paid for by limiting certain tax expenditures for high-income taxpayers. Weird that somehow every single new proposal she throws out there is going to be paid for by hitting "the rich" or "corporations". At some point you might think that we can only take so much away from people and businesses without having a negative impact on the people they employ or having them run out of money. Also what seems weird is that she pledges to be "a small business president", that is kinda weird because a lot of the owners of successful small businesses end up being the same "high-income taxpayers" that Hilary is going to soak to pay for her college affordability plan. It almost sort of sounds like her "small business" plan is just another way of funneling money to preferred groups whether they are really involved in a sensible business plan at all. Part of the underwriting process banks use before giving business loans is looking at the projections for the business to see if it will actually make money so that business can pay back the loan because banks, large and small and contrary to what the rhetoric from the Left would suggest, really want people to pay back their loans. If you guarantee the loan from the government though, all of a sudden it doesn't matter if the business makes sense and like the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac disaster we find banks with an incentive to make loans regardless of credit worthiness because they have little risk. I am sure that will be a splendid plan.

But Hillary says it will work and really we have never had a more honest and trustworthy politician in this country.

What is my point behind all of that? Just a little inconvenient fact check. Cato put out a post What Do We Know About Education? and what we know about education without a shadow of a doubt is captured in this chart:

The "so what?" of this chart is pretty simple. Since 1970 our spending on "education" has skyrocketed. In terms of inflation adjusted dollars we went from spending $57,602 to get a kid from K through 12 versus now when we spend $166,773 to do the same thing. In return for almost tripling our spending we have gotten essentially the same results. Educational output has not got better as demonstrated by the chart and confirmed anecdotally from anyone paying attention. Think about that number for a second. $166,773 for one child, kindergarten through 12th grade, or thirteen years of schooling. That works out to $12,828 per year. That is a lot of moolah. For contrast, our largest evangelical Christian private school in Fort Wayne, Blackhawk, charges tuition of $6,680 or about half the cost of a public school "education" per year. Our large Catholic school, Bishop Dwenger, is about $7000 for parishioners, or $8500 for non-parishioners. These schools are highly sought after for academic excellence and yet they somehow manage to get a child through school for half the cost of a public school. 

The guy who did the above chart, Andrew Coulson, has a documentary coming out that will be (shockingly) on PBS. The CATO piece quotes an essay from George Will, which is unfortunate, even though Will has some important points:

The consensus then was that the best predictor of a school’s performance was the amount of money spent on it: Increase financial inputs, and cognitive outputs would increase proportionately. As the postwar baby boom moved through public schools like a pig through a python, almost everything improved — school buildings, teachers’ salaries, class sizes, per-pupil expenditures — except outcomes measured by standardized tests. 

Enter Coleman, and the colleagues he directed, to puncture complacency with the dagger of evidence — data from more than 3,000 schools and 600,000 primary and secondary school students. His report vindicated the axiom that social science cannot tell us what to do, it can tell us the results of what we are doing. He found that the best predictor of a school’s outcomes was the quality of the children’s families. And students’ achievements are influenced by the social capital (habits, mores, educational ambitions) their classmates bring to school: 

“One implication stands out above all: That schools bring little influence to bear on a child’s achievement that is independent of his background and general social context; and that this very lack of an independent effect means that the inequalities imposed on children by their home, neighborhood, and peer environment are carried along to become the inequalities with which they confront adult life at the end of school.”

This is at the heart of the entire education problem in America. Our problem is not a lack of funding. It is a lack of family. We can never spend enough money on "education", much of which goes to pay for staff and bureaucrats instead of teachers, to replace the hard reality that kids are going to school in ever increasing numbers without a solid family at home. Will goes on (emphasis mine):

Coleman’s report came exactly one year after — and as an explosive coda to — what is known as the Moynihan Report, which was leaked in July 1965. Moynihan, then a 37-year-old social scientist in Johnson’s Labor Department, presented in “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action” what then counted as shocking news: 23.6 percent of African American births were to unmarried women.

Today 71 percent are. Almost 47 percent of all first births are to unmarried women, and a majority of all mothers under 30 are not living with the fathers of their children.

What does our political system offer to respond to this? What will this look like in 10 years? 20 years? Will 75% of kids live in homes without their fathers? 80%? 90%?

How much can Hillary offer to single moms who are overwhelmed because they have been told by Uncle Sam that they don't need no man when in facts it turns out that they in fact do and even more so, so do their children who are being sent to failing, overpriced schools with two strikes already against them and a 102 mile per hour fastball coming right down the plate? We have given them more and more, money, health care, food, phones and still year after year an ever larger percentage of our population is falling behind. No amount of money, no new litany of Federal programs, no well-meaning empty rhetoric can replace a stable family with a mother and father. I know there are stable families with one or the other or both gone and lots of unstable families with the mother and father present but the undisputed best predictor of future success and stability for a kid is an intact family.

As long as we treat education as a problem that can be solved simply by throwing more money at it, we will end up with these same results. Kids from intact families with engaged parents will continue to outperform at a significant rate. Kids without that stable family setting will continue to struggle and those struggling kids turn into struggling adults, essentially turning our public schools into an assembly line producing future inmates.