Archive for August, 2007

More Fair Tax Nonsense

Friday, August 31st, 2007

See if you can spot the flaw in Boortz’ argument that it will be easier to buy a house under the Fair Tax.

Memo to Neal: house are not purchased based on one year’s earnings. If my marginal tax rate is under 30%, then by the “logic” you’ve used, I’ll be worse off.

Of course, neither makes a difference. The problem with the Fair Tax is not that prices will go up. It’s the transition shock of some prices going up (because the employers can’t cut employee gross salaries down to the current net) and others not going up (because they can). The problem is the hideous black market that is almost guaranteed to appear — which is why Bartlett favors a VAT. The problem is that we won’t “get rid of the IRS” but simply infest it in every business and every home in America. The problem is that we’re going to have to create a massive agency to figure out the welfare prebate amounts for every person in the country (since only a batshit insane person would advocate equal “prebates” for people in New York City and New Braunfels).

So much easier to bash Bartlett’s Scientology straw man and fulminate over the pointless inclusive-exclusive argument than to address substantive complaints.

A Day Late and a Dollar Short

Friday, August 31st, 2007

Not exactly news for Friday, but CNN has apprently discovered the Soviet Union’s long sordid history with nukes. Too bad the MSM wasn’t terribly interested in talking about the horrors of communism when it might have made a difference.

(And before you make a moral equivalence to our bombing of Japan, let me remind you that we were at war.)

All socialist systems make these sort of calculations. How much would it cost to evacuate these people against the benefits of seeing what radiation does to babies? We’ll be seeing a lot more of these drive-by incidents as our own system gets more socialized and people become assets of the state rather than individuals.

Blue Dog Night

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Remember how the blue dog Democrats were supposed to be centrist? Eh, not so much.

Voting records from recent years confirm that the blue dogs are less than consistent spending hawks. The National Taxpayers Union did some checking and found that the blue dogs had an average fiscal score of 24 out of 100, earning them a grade of D as a group. It also found that last year the blue dogs sponsored $145 of new spending for every dollar of budget reductions, for a net spending increase per member of more than $140 billion.

There is one important caveat here — Bush is President. A lot of this might be pandering or going along with the party knowing it will be vetoed.

Still, it takes a certain reprehensible kind of spinelessness to go along with that nonsense. It’s like when Republicans pass laws they know the Supreme Court will bounce (McCain-Feingold for example). I understand the reasoning but it’s still playing Russain Roulette with the law. And sometimes, as in the case of McCain-Feingold, the gun goes off and we’re all screwed.

Hallelujah!

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Justice is done. Or at least, not completely undone.

More Backward Looking

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

ESPN has their NFL preview up, complete with fan ranking of teams and players. Both rankings, and most of the predictions, would be wonderful and insightful — if they were for last year.

Here are ESPN’s power rankings. The only movement was at the bottom. Washington moved from #28 to #19, Miami moved from #26 to #20 for no apparent reason. The Lions moved up five spots in the hopes that the WR stockpiling will finally pay off. The only team that ESPN expects to do appreciably worse this year is the Falcons. Well, DUH! Actually, come to think of it, they might do better without the Vick distraction. Oh, wait, the Chief drop down since everyone is expecting Johnson’s knees to explode.

So what teams do I expect to move? I’d drag the Chargers, Ravens and Bears down a few points since I don’t expect them to be as lucky. Plus the Chargers have Norv Turner now. I’d move the Eagles up since McNabb is back, making them my #3 team. I’d move the Cowboys down since Romo will return to Earth and the Rams up because I don’t think Steven Jackson will. I’d rate the Jaguars way up, the Giants way down, leave the Dolphins in the cellar, move the Packers up. And I agree with them on the movements of the Chiefs, Falcons and Redskins.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Jacksonville will suck and maybe Turner will bring the Lombardi trophy to San Diego. But at least I’d be trying to be bold.

Predicting the Past

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

To pre-empt TMQ:

It happens every year. The feckless pre-season predictions come out. Over at CNNSI, Don Banks boldly predicts that teams will pretty much finish in the same order they did last year and ten of the twelve playoff teams will repeat. ESPN hasn’t had their predictionfest yet, but I’m sure we’ll see the same. It’s absurd of course. Only five 2005 playoffs teams made the playoffs in 2006. Only five 2004 playoff teams from 2004 made the dance in 2005. Only six from 2003 made it in 2004.

The combination of short season, high injury rates, salary cap and 3/8 of the teams making the playoffs means that there is a lot of turnover at the top. Only the real dynasties can be counted on year-to-year.

Well, I’ll go ahead and make my predictions right off the top of my head. No knowledge, no training camp video, I haven’t even watched a pre-season game. My preparation consists entirely of reading Pro Football Prospectus.

NFC East – Philly, Washington, Dallas, Giants
NFC North – Green Bay, Chicago, Minnesota, Detroit
NFC South – New Orleans, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Atlanta
NFC West – St. Louis, Seattle, San Fran, Arizona

Playoffs Teams – Philly, Washington, Green Bay, Chicago, NO, St. Louis

AFC East – New England, New York, Miami, Buffalo
AFC North – Cincinnati, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland
AFC South – Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Tennessee, Houston
AFC West – Denver, San Diego, KC, Oakland

Playoff Teams – New England, Cincy, Jacksonville, Indy, Denver, San Diego

Superbowl – Philly over Jacksonville

That’s only six teams I expect to repeat. Three of these — Philly, Indy and New England are dynastic. The other three – San Diego, Chicago and New Orleans – were so good last year, I can’t imagine they’d fall completely out of it this year. But they can always suprise. NO’s offense could fall on its face. Donovan McNabb could get hurt again. Lovie Smith’s magic may not work a third year in a row. I haven’t predicted a single division to finish in the same order it did last year.

To be honest, I don’t have faith in any of my picks. It’s the NFL, for Chrissake. Anything can happen. Do I look like an SMT? But let’s see if I’m any more full of crap than the people being paid to make predictions.

TMQ BS

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

Last week I praised TMQ for defending Mike Vick. This week, though, he’s gone off the deep end.

First, he makes the moral equivalence argument. Why is it so bad that Mike Vick beat, shot and electrocuted dogs when we do this to livestock? I’m with Easterbrook on the animal cruelty in our food system. But the two things are not even comparable. There is a huge difference between killing an animal looked upon as food and killing an animal looked upon as a pet — a virtual family member. (And don’t come here with the “other nations treat dogs as food” argument unless you are prepared to legalize honor killings of raped women.) I will admit, however, that the comparison he makes to dog-racing is very troubling an should be addressed.

But where he gets stupid is this:

One or two years in federal prison, and perhaps state prison time if state charges are filed as well; plus $25 million in lost endorsement income and, oh, $50 million in lost or returned NFL income. That’s overkill! Often the indirect financial consequences of legal proceedings are worse than the official ones, in the same way that a speeding ticket might cost you $75 but add $1,000 to your annual insurance bill.[MHS - try speeding in Virginia!]

In effect, the federal indictment of Vick is resulting in him being fined around $75 million, which is far too much retribution.

This, from the usually brilliant Easterbrook, is pure unadulterated dog-poop. Depriving someone of future income is not the same thing as fining someone. By that logic, if my employer fires me for insubordination, I have been “fined” a couple of million bucks for the lifetime earnings I would have had. If a bankruptcy court forbids me to play the lottery and my numbers come up, they’ve “fined” me $200 million. If a trader under SEC investigation is forbidden from trading a stock that subsequently tanks, he’s been “fined” millions. If a corrupt CEO is put in prison, he’s “fined” millions from not being able to work.

This is ridiculous. Michael Vick is not being fined. He’s being deprived of potential future income. It’s no different than what happened to Ricky Williams (by Gregg’s logic, “fined” millions for smoking pot) or Kobe Bryant (“fined” millions in endorsements for cheating on his wife). The NFL and endorsement agencies are Mike Vick’s employers. They agreed to pay him money on certain conditions, notably not behaving like a complete idiot and lobbing plenty of passes into the waiting arms of defensive backs. He has violated that agreement. And like all people who violate contracts, he is losing the benefits that contract.

Would it be right for him to get millions of dollars for not playing football and not hawking expensive sports shoes to low-income kids? This is not something being done to Michael Vick. This is something he did on his very own.

Easterbrook’s assertion that Vick is being “fined” is especially offensive in a nation where thousands of Americans routinely have their money or their property taken from them because it might be from illegal activity. The DEA and the IRS confiscate money and property — often from the poorer Americans — without any hint of due process. It is up to the robbed to prove their innocence. And the Supreme Court has decreed that this is fine by them.

For God’s sake, Easterbrook, get some perspective.

About Last Night

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

I was up. And Sue was up because it was her milking time. So we did get to see the lunar eclipse last night. It was perfectly clear as the last slivers of moon vanished into a red-black haze. Then it clouded up at once.

One of the good things about my job being in jeopardy is that I’m appreciating it more.

Tuesday Morning Linkorama

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007
  • Juan Cole calls the nation a damned pussy. He’s right. We’re hysterical about terrorism. Especially the Right. When you countenance torture, embrace wiretapping and support the President no matter what, you’re hysterical. You’ve let the terrorists win.
  • Miss South Carolina explains herself. To be honest, I’m willing to give her the benefit of a doubt. She seems like she’s got a brain. God knows a lot of otherwise coherent people sound like fools on television (*cough* President Bush *cough*). Still, I wasn’t thinking about her brain as I watched her.
  • Robert Rector on poverty pointing out that while some people are truly destitute, other are living like . . . well, like I do. We still need more welfare reform. All we did the last time was shift a lot of the payouts to different agencies.
  • An interesting story on Virginia’s campaign against men. On the one hand, they have a point — women are statistically safer than men. If my daughter ever got lost, I’d want her to seek out a woman with kids. On the other hand, I’ve seen lost kids crying in supermarkets and watched the men carefully avoid them because they don’t want to be looked at. I’d be nervous about coaching little league since a single unfounded accusation can destroy your life (a friend of my mom’s is dead because of such an accusation).
  • Euro-Stupid

    Monday, August 27th, 2007

    You think Europeans are smarter than Americans? I’ll take that bet.

    Christ. It’s so depressing.

    HD=BS

    Monday, August 27th, 2007

    James Beradinelli on the lastest format war. I agree with every word.

    Monday Linkorama

    Monday, August 27th, 2007
  • Explain to me the difference between this and plain old robbery.
  • The administration now thinks the President’s approval ratings are a national security issue. Who knew? They also don’t think FOIA applies to them. If these guys were Democrats, the Right Wing would be screaming.
  • Want to know why our education system is broken? How about $5.4 million to teachers who aren’t working. I have a big post on education coming up. I can’t wait until these idiots are running our healthcare.
  • Is pre-K education a panacea? Nope. I’ve always thought that kids don’t really start learning until they’re about five years old or so. But this isn’t about education; it’s about getting the government into their lives as early as possible.
  • Our budget only grew 3% this year. I love gridlock!
  • The teachers’ union are spending $3 million to stop vouchers. Why are they so afraid of school choice?
  • Fisking Boortz

    Monday, August 27th, 2007

    Because it’s too damn easy.

  • Boortz has his boxers in a bunch this morning after Bruce Bartlett had the nerve to criticize the Fair Tax. While the main thrust of Boortz’ complaint — that Bartlett incorrectly linked the Fair Tax to Scientology (as if that matters) — seems valid, he doesn’t address the main complaint.

    And Boortz is in a glass house here. He is still running around saying that the government will get the same amount of tax revenue, that prices will not go up but you will take home your entire paycheck — which is mathematically impossible. Something’s got to give. And I think Bartlett’s right that it will be prices.

  • Boortz also links to a piece criticizing Craig Hanson for saying the oceans will rise 25 meters in the next century. I really hate being on the side of the enviros, I really do. Hansen is full of shit. He’s no better than the anti-global warmers claiming that the .01-.08 degree adjustment of US temperatures disproves global warming (it doesn’t — the scientist who found the error said it doesn’t). The IPCC has concluded that oceans will rise — at most — eight inches by 2100. So Hansen is exaggerating the situation by a factor of 100. God damn it, you enviros. Do you realize the damage you are doing by exaggerating every claim, jumping on every disaster and dismissing any criticism. Will you just please shut up and let the science do the talking?!
  • Interesting quote: “If al-Maliki doesn’t get his act together … if some sort of spirit of cooperation doesn’t begin to emerge … more and more Americans are going to wonder why we continue to make sacrifices; and they’ll have a point.” I think Bush’s supporters — his few remaining supporters — are setting the stage for withdrawal. It’s all the Iraqis fault. (Well, also the Dems and the liberal media.)
  • It’s depressing that 57% of Boortz’s reader think Alberto Gonzalez resigned because he was being hounded by the Democrats and not because he’s a corrupt, lying, totalitarian Little Legal Creep. More on that later.
  • Boortz does have the best comment on the idiotic Miss South Carolina. Or rather Royal does. He calls it the “white man’s boo-got-shot”.
  • Dr. May

    Sunday, August 26th, 2007

    I’m reading Timothy Ferris’s Seeing in the Dark since I may myself be an amateur, rather than professional, astronomer soon. He has a phone interview with Brian May — the lead guitarist of Queen — where he talks about being an astronomy graduate student and how he left it for music but still loves the sky.

    I said, “Nah! He’s making that up!” So I looked it up. And in one those of those weird coincidences, just two days before I read Ferris’ account, May got his fricking PhD.

    Great. Someone else to compete with.