Thursday, December 8, 2011

Last Call

I know I shouldn't give myself heartburn by ever reading an unsigned editorial from Investor's Buisness Daily on President Obama, but I went and did it anyway.  And lo and behold, their proof that they've caught the President in "five big lies" in his speech in Kansas this week reads like it was put together by an intern on cold medicine.

Let's start at the top.

Tax cuts and deregulation have "never worked" to grow the economy There's so much evidence to disprove this claim, it's hard to know where to start. But let's begin with the fact that countries with greater economic freedom — lower taxes, less government, sound money, free trade — consistently produce greater overall prosperity.

But of course, actually producing that evidence doesn't matter.

Here at home, President Reagan's program of lower taxes and deregulation led to an historic two-decade economic boom. Plus, states with lower taxes and less regulation do better than those that follow Obama's prescription.

"Do better" how? What's you're measure for that?

Obama also claimed the economic booms in the '50s and '60s somehow support his argument. This is utter nonsense. Taxes at the time averaged just 17% of the economy. And there was no Medicare, no Medicaid, no Departments of Transportation, Energy or Education, and no EPA. Had Obama been around then, he would have decried it all as un-American.

The 50's and 60's also saw far more middle class manufacturing jobs and powerful industrial unions that leveraged America's post-war manufacturing capacity into a burgeoning middle class, as well as a growing civil rights movement to share the fruits of that middle class with all Americans.  Perhaps that had some effect as well as these "awful" programs listed here that Americans just hate.
(More fisking below the fold.)

The Smartest Man In The Room And They Hate Him For It

Watched AG Eric Holder speak at this morning's House Judiciary Committee meeting on "Operation Fast and Furious", and the first question Holder gets from Republican Chairman Lamar Smith was about why Elena Kagan hasn't recused herself from the individual mandate SCOTUS deliberations.  Darrell Issa had brought props from Kinko's with Holder's face on them and could barely contain his haterade, and Jim Sensenbrenner basically said "OK so these thousands of documents you sent us don't have a smoking gun so YOU LIED! HEADS MUST ROLL!" and brought up actual, honest-to-god impeachment.

It was a long and gruesome affair as Eric Holder was having none of it and meticulously laid down what actually happened, and the Republicans kept playing with their butterfly knives the whole time while trying not to hurt themselves.  They knew they had nothing, they knew it's theater, and they knew Eric Holder is the smartest cat in the room.

And they despised him for it.  They can barely hold it in.  Instead, we're treated to trenchant observations like this from the likes of John Hinderaker at Power Line:

If the Obama administration did arrange for the shipment of arms to Mexican drug gangs, not for any legitimate public purpose but in order to advance a left-wing political agenda, and those guns were used to murder hundreds of Mexicans and at least one American border agent–which they were–then we are looking at a scandal that dwarfs any in modern American history. I think one would have to go back to James Buchanan, who ordered the shipment of federal armaments to the South so that they could be commandeered by secessionists when disunion came, to find a worse scandal. And one could argue that even that act by Buchanan, generally considered the worst President in American history, was motivated by principle and not politics, and therefore was not as craven as Obama’s gun walker scandal. But such a judgment would be premature. A great deal more investigation needs to be done before we can conclude that Fast and Furious was the worst scandal since pre-Civil War days.

Because of course, falsifying intelligence on Iraq and laying down propaganda in order to lead America into a bloody war that killed thousands of troops and hundreds of thosands of civilians over nine years doesn't hold a candle to the continuation of a Bush ATF program that ended up leading to a dead border agent.

Ann Althouse, on Hinderaker's statement:

We really do need an explanation. If Hinderaker's conclusion seems extreme, consider that it could be easily refuted by a clear statement from the Obama administration disclosing the true and legitimate purpose. The absence of such a statement propels us toward the extreme conclusion.

Such idiocy should be shunned as a national duty.  If either one had been listening, Holder today laid that out:  that this BUSH ERA PROGRAM was a terrible way to track criminals and guns used in crimes, that the program should have been discontinued, and that there's an ongoing investigation as to why it existed in the first place.  Holder stopped short of saying it was politicized Bush-era welfare for border state gun shops, but if there's any "true and legitimate purpose" to this, that was it.

Every condemnation of Holder skips over the fact that none of these fools raised a peep when these gunwalker programs were started under Bush.  And for this to be "the worst scandal since the Civil War?"  Really?  Such absolute stupidity deserves to be ridiculed.

Those Damn Kids And Their Damn Work Ethic

Professional CNN Minority Scold Ruben Navarette, Jr. says Newt Gingrich had it right:  America's kids really are a bunch of lazy smegheads and if we used them for labor instead of immigrants, SHINING CITIES ON HILLS, people.

Talk to hugely successful people, Gingrich said, and most of them will say that they got an early start learning about jobs and responsibility and earning money for their labor. Tragically, that's not happening with many young people today. Gingrich pointed out that, for instance, among African-American teenagers, the unemployment rate is a staggering 43%.

Now, you can spin a statistic like that one of two ways. You can say these unemployed black teenagers are helpless victims and the system is working against them. Or you can say that many of these teenagers are unemployable because no one ever taught them the skills necessary to hold down a job.

I'm trying to figure out how cleaning toilets gives ones the skills to be successful in anything other than cleaning toilets, but you'll excuse me for the oversight.  One would be forgiven for saying that Navarette is buying into the notion that the world simply needs ditch-diggers too, and that some of us should simply accept that fact.  Be cheerful with your lot in life...and we could lower unemployment if we just guided these poor, wretched souls to the promised land of industrial strength cleaners and mops.

Bravo for Newt. Politicians don't usually speak this way, which is why so many of them have mastered the art of talking for hours without saying anything of importance. I can't imagine Mitt Romney saying these things; he's too busy telling people what they want to hear to tell them what they need to hear. This subject is as important as they come, and Gingrich deserves credit for kicking off the discussion, especially since he was sure to be pummeled for stating the obvious.

Here's the obvious: Americans have lost their work ethic, and some never had one to lose. They grow up -- or put more precisely, they're raised -- thinking of so many jobs as beneath them that they wake up one day not knowing how to do any job.

You know, plenty of folks were raised to do these things called "chores" where one would perform manual property labor in exchange for small amounts of spending money.  What that taught them was A) manual labor is backbreaking and not something you want to grow up and make a career of most likely and B) your parents probably had a point when they said "You should stay in school so you can learn things that mean you don't have to do this for a living."

But then Ruben goes for the obvious exit from this pit.

Gingrich was right on the money. But I would go further than he did. This isn't just a problem for black Americans; it's a problem for all Americans. In fact, as someone who speaks to groups all over the country and who spends a fair amount of time visiting high schools and colleges, I worry less about students from poor families who lack resources and opportunities than I do about those from the upper-middle class who lack passion and purpose.

Poor kids often have a fire in their belly, a desire to improve their lot and help their parents. Upper-middle class kids can be harder to motivate, especially if they've never been taught to work by their parents.

You think I'm kidding. I remember once seeing a 21-year-old struggle with how to hold a broom and sweep the floor. It wasn't his fault. No one had ever taught him how to do that chore -- or any other. Whenever I write about young people and the jobs they won't do, I hear from dozens of employers with stories of their own. The common theme in all those e-mails is that we've been too soft on our kids and haven't demanded enough from them, something we hardly notice because we've allowed illegal immigrants to pick up the slack.

And here's where Navarette gives away the ball game.  His last sentence here is really what his entire rant (and Newt's rant that spawned it) was really all about.  If we made America's kids do the kind of work that undocumented immigrants do today, we wouldn't have a problem.  We could solve the minority unemployment problem.  We could take away the reason for undocumented immigrants to come here.  We'll raise up both of these destroyed, primitive cultures and we won't have to feel guilty at all.  Hooray!  A free market solution!

Except that's exactly what the President's AmeriCorps program did, and did it well enough that House Republicans zeroed out the budget for the program this year, calling it "waste and fraud".  The compromise that spared the program still ended up cutting the budget for it by 6.7%.  When House Republicans put forward their 2012 budget in October, they once again zeroed out all funding for the program.

In other words, not only does the program that Newt Gingrich and Ruben Navarette describe as needed to teach kids "work ethics" exist already, but Republicans keep trying to kill the damn thing.

Idiots.  It's like Democrats never thought of these things.  Of course, you can make the argument that Newt just wants to bring indentured servitude back too.

Lassie Doesn't Have Anything On These Pets

We love our pets, and they love us.  Sometimes, life throws us curveballs and pets have come to the rescue of their owners.  The article below debates whether it is love instinct, such as a mother throwing herself in front of her children, or a more selfish instinct that lets the animal know they need their owner's help in getting away from danger.

The stories below are 15 examples of animals saving their owners.  I read a few, sniffled a lot, and decided this is worth sharing.  The next time I want to call my cat useless, this will be running through my mind.

In early November, 3-and-a-half-year-old Duncan saved his best friend's life.

Duncan, a boxer, pawed and barked at his owner, Scott Dunn, until the man awoke to find the house full of smoke, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Dunn was able to escape to his truck, but heroic Duncan died in the fire.

We often hear stories of life-saving pets like Duncan, but what compels these faithful animals to perform such heroic acts -- love for their owners or their own survival instincts?

The answer varies depending on a factors like breed, training and socialization, according to Amy Shojai, author of 23 pet-care books and a certified animal behavior consultant. But she does think love has something to do with it.

"It's doubtful that pets consciously think about their own safety in such situations any more than a human mom thinks twice about throwing herself in the path of danger to save her child," says Shojai. However, she adds, other times self-preservation may motivate the heroic act, such as when the pet feels threatened and needs the help of its owner to get to safety.

No matter what the true motivation, a pet who saves a human is still heroic in our book. And the amazing thing is, these courageous acts happen more often than you might think. Check out these real life Lassies -- dogs, cats, rabbits and more that have saved their owners' lives in recent years.

Year's End Business: Bon's Top Sites Of 2011

As the end of the year comes closer, I've been thinking about 2011 and all it had to offer.  My favorite holiday is New Year's, because it is a clean slate, a fresh chance to set new goals and leave failures behind.

Today's list are my top five favorite websites, and why I love them so.

5. Come on, really.  T-shirts where you can pick your own theme song to play, USB microscopes and bacon-flavored gumballs?  How can so much perfection wind up on a single site?

4. Standford Online YouTube channel- From game development to introduction to physics, these full hour-long classes are actually useful.  They have little fluff and are thorough.  As a geek who likes to study for fun, I've spent many hours soaking up the knowledge.

3. I take a lot of pictures, and I get a chance to put my mother-in-law in movie trailers.  With her permission, ftw.

2. News never looked so good, and the headlines are fantastic.  Some of the jokes make me laugh out loud regardless of the news it links to.

1. GrammarGirl gets my favorite site of this year.  The email subscriptions are free of junk, and give tiny little bites of grammar advice with real examples.  We all have our bad habits, and in the last year I have caught so many little mistakes and used the site for reference.

And now you have glimpsed my geeky little world.

Climate Of Distrust

Well, make it two for two this morning in the President Odubya category, because the continued US failure to get anything done in climate change talks in Durban, South Africa this week means we're almost out of time to do anything at this point.

President Barack Obama’s position that dangerous global warming can be averted without deeper cuts in fossil fuel emissions before 2020 is stirring backlash in nations from Norway to Barbados.

“Multiple pathways” exist to prevent temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) without countries strengthening pledges to reduce greenhouse gases by 2020, U.S. climate envoy Jonathan Pershing said at United Nations climate talks last week.

“It’s a very risky assumption, too risky,” Norway’s top climate change envoy, Henrik Harboe, said in an interview. “We know we are far below the recommendations of science.”

The question of when the world acts to contain global warming is at the heart of the talks in Durban, South Africa, where delegates from more than 190 nations are working on how to take the next steps in curbing emissions after the limits outlined in the Kyoto Protocol expire next year.

The UN says pledges to cut greenhouse gases need to double by 2020 to contain warming to 2 degrees above preindustrial levels. While scientists say a rise of 1.5 degrees may lead to “dangerous” climate shifts, countries have agreed to take steps to ensure warming doesn’t exceed the 2-degree mark.

“There are no credible scientific scenarios that will allow temperatures to be held under 2 degrees if action is taken after 2020,” Selwin Hart, an envoy from Barbados, said in an interview in Durban. 

Basically the US is punting until 2020 to do anything about climate change, and the rest of the world is rightfully going "Um, seriously?" 

But the blame cannot be all placed on the Obama administration.  Let's not forget we have a Republican party that has been hostile to the idea of climate change for years and has done everything they can to block every piece of climate legislation presented by this administration.

Most of all, the blame goes on the shoulders of the energy companies that control our politicians.  Without them, we'd have a global climate policy in place already.

Back To The Drawing Board For Plan B

I support the Obama administration when they make policy decisions I agree with.  This is not one of them, and I'm calling them out on it.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the Food and Drug Administration’s decision Wednesday that emergency contraceptives be sold freely over the counter, including to teenagers 16 years old and younger.

The pill, called Plan B One-Step, has been available without a prescription to women 17 and older, but those 16 and younger have needed a prescription — and still will because of Ms. Sibelius’s decision.  In some states, pharmacists can write the prescription on the spot for teenagers. But the restrictions have meant the pills were only dispensed from behind the counter — making them more difficult for everyone to get. The pill, if taken after unprotected sex, halves the risk of a pregnancy.

Under the law, Ms. Sebelius has the authority to overrule the agency, but no health secretary has ever done so, according to an F.D.A. spokeswoman. Her decision on an emotional issue that touches on parental involvement in birth control for teenaged children is likely to have powerful political reverberations in a presidential election season

If this was a political decision (and there's zero doubt about that, frankly, because the science supported making this medication available) then it's a completely moronic one.  There's no benefit politically for doing this.  It overrules the available science.  It's frankly a stupid move you would expect from a red state governor.  The FDA said: "Hey, we see no scientific reason this should be done."  Kathleen Sebelius and President Obama disagreed.

In a statement, Ms. Sebelius said that the drug’s manufacturer had failed to study whether girls as young as 11 years old could use Plan B safely. And since about 10 percent of girls are capable of bearing children as early as 11, those girls need to be studied as well, she wrote.

“After careful consideration of the F.D.A. summary review, I have concluded that the data submitted by Teva do not conclusively establish that Plan B One-Step should be made available over the counter for all girls of reproductive age,” Ms. Sebelius wrote. 

It's an election-year punt, period.  It's insulting, it's wrong, and it's cowardly.

Bad, bad call.


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