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.

Monday, July 11, 2016

A Quick Stat Bomb For Ya

The fine folks at the Guardian's U.S. edition have a running tally of people killed by cops in America this year. The tally stands at 569 as of this morning. Just sitting here at my desk that sounds like a lot. Is it?

Well on the one hand it is. 569 people dead is a lot of people by any standard. On other hand there are a lot of people in America and a lot of cops and a lot of those people living in America are committing crimes that bring them into conflict with the police, some of which go bad. I wanted to take a look at this in more depth. Someone on Facebook did the same but I did my own research and am running these statistics by myself to make sure I am getting them correctly.

According to wikipedia, and I didn't verify the source, the U.S. has around 1.2 million police officers. That is a huge number, outpaced only by China and India, both of whom have much larger overall populations than the U.S.. A little math tells us something fairly interesting. Although it seems that most police shootings involve one officer doing the shooting (that may not be true, I am not sure if anyone keeps track of that), even if we take that 569 number of total shootings and multiply it by three to take into account multiple officer shootings, and use the number 1707 for the total number of officers involved in police shootings that resulted in a fatality, we find that means that 0.0014% of cops are involved in fatal shootings so far this year. Even if we double that to predict the number for the rest of the year, that is 0.0028% or a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of officers in this country are involved in fatal shootings.

More data. Of those 569 killed, 82 were unarmed. Now being "unarmed" does not mean "not dangerous". Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri was "unarmed" but was an 18 year old, 6'4", almost 300 pound guy that was attacking a police officer. Whether one has a gun or not, being the size of an NFL linesman means that you are potentially very dangerous with or without a separate weapon. Someone that size can very easily seriously hurt, maim or even kill another person with their bare hands. Anyway, just given the benefit of the doubt that the 82 "unarmed" people were not as dangerous as the 276 people killed while in possession of guns or the 84 people killed while carrying a knife, that gives you a percentage so small that a calculator won't render it.

Ah but you might say. The real problem is the disproportionate racial make-up of those killed by cops. OK, let's take a look. Some races, like Asian/Pacific Islander, have had zero unarmed killings by police in 2016. Of the 569, whites accounted for 279 of the killings and 42 of the unarmed killings. That means that 49% of these killings killed white people and a slightly higher percentage, 51%, of unarmed people killed by cops were white. As far as blacks who are allegedly under fire from cops, 137 people killed by cops were black and 24 were unarmed, which means that 24% of all people killed by cops were black and 29% of all "unarmed" people killed were black.

Aha! Blacks are 24% of all people killed by cops in the U.S. but are only 13% of the U.S. population. We have conclusive proof of racial bias in police shootings! That would be pretty persuasive if cops were just picking out black people at random and shooting them. Here is the kicker. By any measure blacks are hugely disproportionately represented in criminal acts compared to their total U.S. population. To restate that most un-PC of statement, blacks commit way more crimes per capita than whites do. There is a direct relationship to committing crime and being engaged by the police. These statistics are widely available although it is getting harder to get up to date data as it seems to be getting suppressed by the media and government. If you are 3,4, 5 or more times likely to be involved in a criminal act, especially a violent criminal act, it follows that you are going to run into the cops more often and increase your likelihood of getting shot in an altercation.

Let me pause. It is often wrong for cops to kill unarmed people, although not always. There are certainly fatal shootings by police that could be avoided. There is absolutely a history, albeit a distant and growing more distant, history of police being overtly racist and in cahoots with racist groups in this country. I am absolutely certain their are racist cops out there (just as their are virulent racists in the "Black Lives Matter" movement). All of that to say that it doesn't seem like there is an especially persuasive case to make that blacks are being intentionally targeted by police. It certainly seems that way when you follow the media coverage but like "mass shootings" the reality is quite different. I think ultimately the reality is that the best way to avoid a fatal encounter with cops is not being white, it is not committing a crime. That is definitely not OK to say, true or not, but it is what the numbers point out to me. I have a lot more to say on this but it will keep until things settle down a bit.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Which is worse, being an inveterate liar or grossly incompetent?

This video is all over the place but it needs to be seen by as many people as possible.

After watching that video a rational person can only come to one of two conclusions (although they are not mutually exclusive).

Option A:

Hillary Clinton is a shameless, inveterate liar who may have come to a place where lying is so second nature to her that she no longer even realizes she is lying. Most politicians exhibit some of this but for Mr. and Mrs. William Clinton it comes as naturally as breathing.

Option B:

She is so grossly incompetent that she mishandled untold numbers of classified documents in a variety of ways without realizing it (and I am confident that the number of classified documents we have been told is a major low ball number) and if someone is that incompetent with classified emails as Secretary of State, there is no way she should be trusted with something really serious like the nuclear codes.

Either way, no one can make the case that Hillary Clinton should be allowed any closer to the White House than Jared Fogle is allowed near a school. Yet there are millions of Democrats and not a few "Republicans" who will vote for her even knowing without a shadow of a doubt that she is as corrupt a politician as we have ever even considered for the highest office in the land. You can make a solid case for not voting for Donald Trump but there is no legitimate reason to vote for Hillary unless you expressly want someone without a moral compass in the White House.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Progress In 'Murica

America 1776:

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, 

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. 

America 2016:

Khloé Kardashian Devastated Over Rob's Baby Bombshell: 'I Am Empty and Internally Sad'

Both Kim and Kourtney were happy for Rob, 29, while Khloé kept her head down and sulked the remainder of the conversation.

"I don't know my emotions right now. I am empty ... I am internally sad," Khloé said to the camera.

Later, Khloé and Kourtney phoned Kris Jenner, who was in Dubai at the time, to discuss Rob's baby news and to reassure her that all is fine with them and not to worry about the family drama.

"There's nothing we can do ... what's done is done. I don't know," Khloé said to her mom – clearly still torn over her relationship with Rob.

Meanwhile, Kylie, 18, spent the entire episode consumed with anxiety over her lip kit. After opening up to her family about it, Kim and Kourtney decided to stop over to try and talk to her about coping mechanisms.

"I don't know, I just know I'm not supposed to be famous," Kylie told them both. "I can feel it deep down inside."

"That makes me so sad," Kim said, before adding, "I'm meant to be famous."

"I can't handle it," Kylie continued. "I care too much and I read too many things."

In the final scenes, Khloé finds out that not only did Kris have a sit-down to talk with Blac Chyna and Rob, but so did Kylie.

"Her and I were talking about Tyga a lot ... I think we all need to be one big happy family" Kylie told Khloé. "Then I was like 'we have to take a Snapchat.' "

Kylie later admitted in her interview, "I feel a weight has lifted off both of our shoulders and I feel like that's all we needed."


"When in the course of human events"

"I am internally sad"

"the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them"

"I'm meant to be famous."

"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes"

"I care too much and I read too many things."

"it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security"

"Then I was like 'we have to take a Snapchat.' "

George and Martha Washington

Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna.

No doubt Tocqueville would agree, the deepest truth in America is that Kylie Jenner has read too many things.

I wonder if the U.K. would take back the original thirteen colonies? We could throw in California to sweeten the deal and all we would ask for in exchange would be Nigel Farage.....