Sunday, July 31, 2011

A tea partyer in favor of the Boehner plan

There. We said it.

Though we may be in the minority in this respect, we believe it proves that the tea party is far from the monolithic entity the mainstream narrative would have you believe. After the "social issues" dust-up from a few months ago and which remains far from being resolved, one would think the media would catch-on but a diverse and vibrant movement full of competing interests and ideas doesn't square with the meme.

We haven't blogged a whole lot about the debt-ceiling deal because, frankly, we believe it mostly to be bu#@sh$t as we've managed to blow through 2 or 3 deadlines already so now we must be on double-secret probation as determined by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Unfortunately his boss let the cat out of the bag by admitting he simply wanted the debt-ceiling raised for a time period that wouldn't inconvenience his election efforts. Good to know. So, with a somewhat manufactured meltdown on our hands, here is why we are supporting the Boehner deal

First, here's Charles Krauthammer from a couple of days ago urging Republicans and the tea party to take the long view:

Lincoln is reputed to have said: I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky. I don’t know whether conservatives have God on their side (I keep getting sent to His voice mail), but I do know that they don’t have Kentucky — they don’t have the Senate, they don’t have the White House. And under our constitutional system, you cannot govern from one house alone. Today’s resurgent conservatism, with its fidelity to constitutionalism, should be particularly attuned to this constraint, imposed as it is by a system of deliberately separated — and mutually limiting — powers.

It's all about numbers and we simply don't have them yet. The degree of change we would all love to see with respect to spending and entitlement reform is not going to happen immediately and it sure as hell isn't going to happen when Republicans do not control one half of the legislative branch and do not control the White House. It's that simple.

The liberal-Left has spent decades marching through our institutions slowly exerting their influence and slowly entrenching their power to a near-intractable state. Undoing this isn't going to happen overnight. To wit: look at what happened in Wisconsin. A new Republican governor and a newly-minted Republican legislature attempted to enact a budget that had entirely reasonable reforms with respect to changing public employee bargaining conditions and individual benefit contributions and... a complete nationally-televised freak-out ensued where 14 Democratic legislators abandoned their post, fleeing across state lines and where Madison became ground zero to countless protests by AWOL teachers, union members and smelly hippy wanna-bes. This is what we're up against, gang. Simply returning to some degree of fiscal sanity is going to be met with the harshest and most unhinged and toxic opposition.

The Ruling Class and their water-carriers in the legacy media have been lining-up for weeks ready to blame the tea party if a debt-ceiling deal does not get done. Whether or not that blame is fairly leveled is entirely beside the point. We would hate to see the gains that have been made the past couple of years get smashed against the rocks of public opinion because of misapplied ideological purity. Don't get us wrong - we're all for judiciously-applied ideological purity, though, this would not happen to be one of those times.

Got to take the long view on this one. It's dirty business this politics but getting Obama into the unemployment line come January of 2013 is job #1 and backing the Boehner plan is a positive step towards making this happen.

Out of respect, love and admiration, we present fellow SLOBs Temple of Mut, W.C. Varones, Shane Atwell's Blog and Dueling Barstools whose views differ from ours on the debt ceiling.

And The Liberator Today whose take on it more or less lines up with ours.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Video clip of the day

"We have to extend the debt ceiling through the next election."

Sigh. Folks, can we call it like it is?: the guy really isn't that sharp. We know he hasn't been getting much sleep but the back-bencher-in-chief all but admitted to the fact that the debt-ceiling needed to be raised, not to not to avoid default or credit armageddon, but rather to get his sorry ass re-elected.

Not what we would call a shrewd bargaining maneuver but, hey, he's never had to do anything remotely resembling this before so maybe we should cut him some slack and just give him some down-time starting January 2013.

Great moments in the history of California statism

We've got one of the nation's highest unemployment rates, the ruling class in Sacramento is banking on $11 billion that is magically going to appear out of nowhere to help close the state's budget gap and this same ruling class intends on driving more jobs out of California with job-killing AB 32-sanctioned environmental regulations yet a regulatory agency sees fit to harrass and exact financial pain upon a private concern because it believes another regulatory agency is getting into its rice bowl.

The California Coastal Commission has threatened to fine the Flower Hill mall up to $15,000 per day unless it immediately stops construction on its recently approved expansion.

But the mall’s attorney said work will continue on the Flower Hill Promenade’s remodel, which includes a Whole Foods Market, offices and retail space.

The mall, just east of Interstate 5 on Via de la Valle, is technically in San Diego, but borders Solana Beach and is advertised as being in Del Mar. The San Diego City Council unanimously approved the expansion in April after six years of proposals and community comment.

The Coastal Commission has argued in letters to the city dating to 2006 that it’s the proper agency to issue the development permits.
(italics, ours)

Wait, what?

The California Coastal Commission?

Folks, this mall is nearly a mile and a half from water's edge (map here).
That the California Coastal Commission is that far from the, you know, coast, let alone east of I-5 and attempting to throw its weight around tells you all you really need to know about the completely dysfunctional state of California at this time.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Radio KBwD is on the air

We first heard this heavily-covered tune back in the mid-80s when George Thorogood did it but this version remains our favorite.

Ladies and Gentlemen, from Brooklyn, New York via Louisiana, it's John Henry Ramistella, aka Johnny Rivers, performing "Memphis".

Happy Birthday!

... a belated happy 99th to a true champion of freedom and liberty, the late great Milton Friedman whose 99th birthday was yesterday.

The ultimate unit is the human being.

... and not the state, the collective, society or "for the common good" or any other non-sense you may here.

Oh, and here's more from that segment where poor ol' Phil Donahue looks so absolutely baffled and which remains one of our favorite Friedman clips.

It never gets old.

Exit question: does having that much hair from which to pull and tug assist in making you look that much more baffled?

Perhaps not so affordable after all

We pretty much knew it all along but it was just us right-wing pitch fork wielders that were openly questioning the President's claim that ObamaCare, his signature piece of legislation, would bend the health care cost curve downward. Now, Obama's own actuarians in the CMS are saying that health care costs will be slightly more under ObamaCare than if the law were not enacted.

The Affordable Care Act will drive health care spending up slightly, to nearly a fifth of the country’s gross domestic product by 2020, while extending insurance coverage to 30 million more Americans, a new report from CMS projects.

But health care’s hefty share of the country’s economic output is reached through an average annual growth in medical spending of 5.8 percent over the next decade — just 0.1 percent more than would have been spent without the health reform law, the report claims.

CMS published its findings this morning in Health Affairs. The report also projects that once all the data are in, health spending in 2010 will have grown a historically low 3.9 percent — slightly lower than the previous record low growth of 4 percent in 2009.

That’s an aftershock of the recession, which cost millions of people their jobs and, consequently, their health insurance, slowing medical spending.

At a Health Affairs forum Wednesday, CMS chief actuary Rick Foster, who has a record of questioning long-range spending projections based on overly optimistic assumptions, nonetheless said that “we like to think that the reality in 2014 will be much closer to the projections” than similar projections from the past.

If implemented as written, the health care law will “create a whole new world of health care spending,” Foster said.

Still, there are plenty of caveats. For one, the report assumes that physician payments next year will be cut by almost 30 percent in accordance with the Sustainable Growth Rate formula, even though Congress has blocked the cuts for the past 10 years.

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Foster said that the report also includes productivity improvements that would slow the growth of spending by 1.1 percent each year, a pace that, “in the long run, it may be difficult to sustain.” He added that revenue projections for an excise tax on exceptionally generous employer-offered health plans, slated to take effect in 2018, may be lower than expected.
(italics, ours)

Not painting such a rosy picture now, is it?

The CMS report can be found here.

And that's it. After all that. After all the arm-twisting and back room deal-making. After all the kickbacks, sweetheart deals and horse-trading. After an exhaustive and contentious sausage-making ordeal that was the very antithesis of the Hope and Change he promised to bring to Washington D.C. and which cost him considerable political capitol of his own, the damn thing, by his people's own admission won't bring down the cost of health care as he promised.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

MAXED OUT: Reality Czech

Max dives back into his Top 10. Max, it's all yours, kid.

Alright my team of tasters, I know I said that I was going to talk
about my final day in San Francisco today but upon further
consideration, I’ve decided to spare you all with another braggadocios,
self-aggrandizing post on how good of a time I had in my favorite
little city, and instead I’m heading back into my top 10! It’s been
a while since I’ve hit the list so that’s what we’re gonna do here
today. Sound good? Great! Then let’s do this!

I briefly touched on this beer in my review of Toronado San Francisco
but, seeing as though its summer, decided now is the time to delve
into this tasty brew in greater detail. Reality Czech from Moonlight Brewing out of Fulton, CA is the perfect example of a Czech style Pilsner. Not, in my opinion, just factually. Ok, maybe in my opinion, but really it is a perfect Pilsner.

Let’s back it up a little and talk about Moonlight Brewing, first.
Moonlight is located in a sleepy little wine town located along
Highway 101, half way between Santa Rosa and Healdsburg in the heart
of Sonoma wine country. In its original state, Moonlight was brewed
out of a converted farm by its founder, Brian Hunt (pictured), in 1992, who also did all of the distribution, delivery, sales, kegging, bottling,
cleaning, and sanitizing as well as dealing with most of the finances.
Yes, he is a bad ass.

In 2003, they opened up a small warehouse where
they now have a 1000 barrel system (which is pretty damn small) even
further out in the boonies. And yes, other than the random hick that decides he wants to “help out” for some free booze, Brian Hunt STILL
runs the show by himself. WHAT A BAD ASS!!!! This does mean that
from time to time you’ll come across a keg that just isn’t right, but
when it is, boy, is it worth it. They have three flagship beers
including Death and Taxes, a 5% Euro Dark Lager, a sessionable
Scotch Ale in myopinion,Bombay By Boat which is a 5.9% mild IPA (not as hoppy as I would have liked,) and a beautiful, fruity/floral Pilsner coming in at 4.8% called REALITY CZECH!!!!

Have you ever been outside at a BBQ on a scorching day and longed for
the one beer to quench your thirst, only to have the lame host of the
party offer you a Coors Light instead? Well forget that party and
come to my ‘Q’ where I’ll be serving up the best light beer in the
entire freakin’ planet. Ok, in my dreams but you’re pickin’ up what
I’m puttin’ down, ya? Take nectar straight from the gods, mix in some
flowers from Dionysus and some fruit from Eve and we’re on the right
track. The best thing: This beer is only 4.8%! Which means that you
can drink just as many as you could a BL, CL, MGD, Bud, or whatever
else in God’s green Earth you people are drinking. Sign me the freak
up, baby!

Seriously though, this beer has a very pale golden hue to it, similar
to the aforementioned crap beers out there, only this tasty cerveza
has something they don’t… TASTE! FLAVOR! A certain “je ne se qua”
that literally means you just can’t explain what it is about it that these others don’t. Its floral notes hit you on the nose with subtle flutters of
rose and the body has a slight fruit flavor that makes your tongue
sing. The finish has that perfect bitter finish that a Czech style
Pilsner is supposed to have only it lasts longer and retains some of both
the floral and fruity qualities from the nose and body. In other

So if you’re in the bay area, East Bay, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, or
even San Diego and are blessed with a beautiful, warm day on a patio
with Reality Czech on draft don’t make other plans. This beer is what
you want and the day will slip into a slightly hazy delight that won’t
soon be forgot. Damn, I want one right now! How do I make this

So, the lesson for the day: Czech out any of the beers that Moonlight
has to offer if you are afforded the chance, and if you can find any
of their bottles please send one or 50 to me! I will return the favor
in spades. You know how to reach me in the mean time, via email,
Facebook, Google Plus is now available, as well as the comment
section below.

Until next time my beer loving brethren, have a beer for me (and make
it a Reality Czech!)

Admittedly, we have never had Reality Czech but would we distrust Max? Never. We know its wine country but wouldn't a beer-tasting trip up there be pretty epic? Bear Republic (Santa Rosa), Lagunitas (Petaluma), Russian River (Santa Rosa) and Moonlight (Fulton) are all a stone's throw from another. A SR 116 brewery tour! Hmmmmm....

Having trouble with all the potential ballot initiatives..?

... don't worry, we've got you covered.

Over at The Liberator Today, B-Daddy has a great round-up of San Diego ballot initiatives, including the one that has been grabbing all the headlines of late here locally: city worker pension reform. Here's B-Daddy in response to criticisms of the proposed defined contribution 401(k)-style retirement plan:

People just have to get more informed about managing their own money, starting with the view that their 401(k) contribution should be maximized, and their lifestyle reduced to live on the rest of their income. If that doesn't leave enough spending money, then find more lucrative work, get a promotion, cut back on spending, or something, but don't expect taxpayers to foot the bill and the future risk. This is a huge culture change in America, but twenty years from now, people will look back and wonder what all the fuss was about.

The fact that we are having a discussion vote on whether or not a group of people that are living on the tax-payer dime should be required to live within their own means and keep their fiscal house in order is somewhat mind-blowing but such are the times we live in.

The day of reckoning is here, folks because math wins. Math always wins.

Please check out the rest of B-Daddy's ballot recommendations, here.

Project Gunrunner/Operation Fast and Furious update

CBS News, which was the first major legacy media outlet to cover this story and then appeared to fall silent is apparently back on the case.

To the White House we go...

At a lengthy hearing on ATF's controversial gunwalking operation today, a key ATF manager told Congress he discussed the case with a White House National Security staffer as early as September 2010. The communications were between ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix office, Bill Newell, and White House National Security Director for North America Kevin O'Reilly. Newell said the two are longtime friends. The content of what Newell shared with O'Reilly is unclear and wasn't fully explored at the hearing.

It's the first time anyone has publicly stated that a White House official had any familiarity with ATF's operation Fast and Furious...

It's unknown as to whether O'Reilly shared information with anybody else at the White House.

Congressional investigators obtained an email from Newell to O'Reilly in September of last year in which Newell began with the words: "you didn't get this from me."

"What does that mean," one member of Congress asked Newell, " 'you didn't get this from me?' "

"Obviously he was a friend of mine," Newell replied, "and I shouldn't have been sending that to him."

Newell told Congress that O'Reilly had asked him for information.

"Why do you think he asked for that information," Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) asked Newell.

"He was asking about the impact of Project Gunrunner to brief people in preparation for a trip to Mexico... what we were doing to combat firearms trafficking and other issues."

Today, a White House spokesman said the email was not about Fast and Furious, but about other gun trafficking efforts. The spokesman also said he didn't know what Newell was referring to when he said he'd spoken to O'Reilly about Fast and Furious.
(italics, ours)

Other gun trafficking efforts? What the hell?

It would seem that O'Reilly had got wind of the true nature of Fast and Furious. After all, if a gun trafficking operation is shooting up Mexican government agents and civilians, the White House might want to have its story straight when it tells Mexico what its gun trafficking efforts are doing to thwart, you know, gun trafficking efforts.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the jury is far from being out but at this point our choices appear to be between: rotten-to-the-core corruptness or monumental and fantastic incompetence and ineptitude or, very likely, a combination of both.

Yep, we're in the best of hands.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Your mid-week martini-worthy photo image of the week

From the famed Brill Building song-writing hit factory, clockwise: Ellie Greenwich, Carole King, Barry Mann.

And one of King's songs as performed by The Drifters, "Up on the Roof"

Of black helicopters and Jane Fonda

Here's former U.S. Representative Cynthia McKinney pretty much covering all the bases in an interview in Iran.

That she served six terms in the House is further proof that in a democracy, we do indeed get what we want and usually what we deserve.

As McKinney herself says, "It's all documented."

Project Gunrunner/Operation Fast and Furious update

Uh-oh. Reuters is on the beat. That can't be good news for Team O.

Since ATF agents were told not to track them, why should this be a big surprise?

At least 122 firearms from a botched U.S. undercover operation have been found at crime scenes in Mexico or intercepted en route to drug cartels there, a Republican congressional report issued on Tuesday said.

Mexican authorities found AK-47 assault rifles, powerful .50 caliber rifles and other weapons as early as November 2009 that were later linked to the U.S. sting operation to trace weapons crossing the border to Mexico, the report said.

Guns from the program, dubbed "Operation Fast and Furious," were also found at the scene of the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent in the border state of Arizona last December. It is unclear if they were the weapons responsible for his death.
(italics, ours)

Again, with the "botched" and whether or not those guns were the actual ones that killed Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry is a distinction without a difference.

Of the 2,000 weapons sold to the suspected gun traffickers, just over half remain unaccounted for, the report added. The ATF was unaware of most of the gun sales when they occurred, according to the Justice Department, which oversees it.

"Given the vast amount of 'Operation Fast and Furious' weapons possibly still in the hands of cartel members, law enforcement officials should expect more seizures and recoveries at crime scenes," the congressional report said.

Terrific. So, we've got 1,000 weapons out in god-knows-where in the hands of god-knows-who and we expect to recover more at crime scenes where hopefully there are not dead bodies present as well.

In further grilling today on Capitol Hill:

ATF officials acknowledged making mistakes but the head of the Phoenix office at the time, William Newell, insisted the sting did not let weapons freely go to Mexico and the goal was to take down the network supplying the drug cartels.

"It is my opinion that we did not let guns walk," he said.

"You're entitled to your opinion, not to your facts," Issa quickly retorted.

Issa's right. There is sworn testimony from ATF agents that they were ordered to stand down when it came to actually tracking the weapons purchased here back into Mexico.

Speaking of Issa, here he is at a presser, we're assuming after the hearings yesterday.

(via: The Washington Times)

From the time we started following this, we've pondered the same thing Issa muses upon: either the miserable hack that runs the Justice Department did know about this and at least gave it his tacit approval and then lied to Congress about his knowledge of it or because he is so incompetent, he knew nothing of the true nature of an operation of this magnitude and we're not really sure which is worse?

Either way, we're in the very best of hands.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Your high-speed choo-choo update

Paging Thomas Friedman, paging Thomas Friedman.

So, if an epic near-miss at a nuclear reactor in Japan appears to doom the future of nuclear power, should a terrible high-speed train accident doom the future of high-speed trains? No. But it doesn't mean that high speed trains are not a fantastically bad idea, either.

With all the other horrible events of the weekend, China's high speed rail crash sort of faded into the background. But the toll is horrific: 43 dead, and hundreds more injured after one high speed train ran into another. Critics, such as Michael Sainsbury of The Australian, are now arguing that this is the result of cut corners in the construction process:

China's decision to build a $400 billion, 16,000 km high speed rail network in the space of a few years was initially greeted with awe at their commitment to winning the future, and laments from the usual suspects that America could never do something this fantabulous. Then the network was forced to slow the average speed of its bullet trains down due to safety concerns; lower-than-projected ridership caused big deficits; and the head of the rail ministry was removed in a tawdry corruption scandal.

That's good ol' one-party technocratic autocracy for ya? And that's China and their system that New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is so enamored of.

In a sense, we should be glad that we can't do something that fantabulous here in this country as it's going to take that same sort of can-do, one-party technocratic autocracy to get anything built here in the States given enviromental regulations and required impact reports as well as the gazillions of eminent domain issues that will need to be resolved.

Unfortunately Fortunately, that's not the way the system is wired here in our representative republic where the electorate may display a tendency from time to time to throw out the bums who would skirt the law and trample rights in the name of shiny, rest-of-the-world-approved technology.

Maybe it's time to realize, with our system of governance, our infrastructure (a pretty damn good interstate system that we use extensively and plentiful commuter and cross-country flights) and the population dispersal of our country (what may work in the D.C.-Boston corridor is not going to work on the West Coast) that high-speed choo-choos just are not a good fit for us.

It's cool. Let's work on something else, like teleporters.

P.S. We continue to luxuriate in the irony of the regulatory and environmental regime erected by the statists which may be the largest hurdle for them to achieve their favorite form of transportation.

Project Gunrunner/Operation Fast and Furious update

So, now the FBI is complicit in Fast and Furious?

In the latest chapter of the gunrunning scandal known as Operation Fast and Furious, federal officials won't say how two suspects obtained more than 360 weapons despite criminal records that should have prevented them from buying even one gun.

Under current federal law, people with felony convictions are not permitted to buy weapons, and those with felony arrests are typically flagged while the FBI conducts a thorough background check.

However, according to court records reviewed by Fox News, two of the 20 defendants indicted in the Fast and Furious investigation have felony convictions and criminal backgrounds that experts say, at the very least, should have delayed them buying a single firearm. Instead, the duo bought dozens of guns on multiple occasions while federal officials watched on closed-circuit cameras.

Congressional and law-enforcement sources say the situation suggests the FBI, which operates the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, knowingly allowed the purchases to go forward after consulting with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which initiated Operation Fast and Furious.

Under the failed anti-gun trafficking program, straw buyers -- those who legally purchase guns and illegally sell them to a third party -- were allowed to buy guns, many of which were sold to Mexican drug cartel members and subsequently lost. Related to the case, the U.S. government in May charged Manuel Osorio-Arellanes with killing Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry last year using a gun purchased through the program.

Now guess who isn't talking? That's right - add the FBI to Justice Department and ATF leadership (with the exception of acting ATF head, Kenneth Melson) in the stonewall gang.

We have the very agency, the FBI, that is responsible for denying the sale of firearms to criminals now green-lighting those purchases to make sure they get into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

Linked article refers to Fast and Furious as "botched". Again, with the botched. What was botched about it? It performed brilliantly in bolstering a wild, wild West narrative that guns by the truckload were flooding into Mexico to throw gasoling on a raging drug war.

So a couple of federal agents and countless Mexican officials and civilians got killed in the process? When you are talking the amount of weaponry (we've heard anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 guns) that was allowed to walk back across the border, some people getting killed with those very same guns was probably just considered collateral damage.

It bears repeating: We have yet to see, hear or read anything that would lead us to believe that Fast and Furious was anything other than just a deadly cynical operation that was carried out for purely political reasons for the ultimate goal of getting tougher gun laws passed.

Mission: Accomplished!

P.S. The third round of hearings by the House Oversight Committee will go down today where Chairman Issa will question ATF officials who had originally defended Fast and Furious as well as former and current ATF attaches to Mexico who claimed their agency never informed them of the operation.

The sadly obligatory occasional debt ceiling post

The President on Monday called for compromise in the debt ceiling debate.

President Barack Obama called on the American public to pressure elected officials to work out a compromise to raise the federal debt ceiling and avoid a potentially devastating default.

A deal would allow the government to continue borrowing money to pay its debts after August 2.

The challenge came during the president's seventh prime-time televised address Monday night.

The president singled out House Republicans for intransigence and said the political showdown is "no way to run the greatest country on Earth."
(italics, ours)

Wait, what?

Wasn't there a bipartisan plan brokered on Friday between Senate majority leader, Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner? Why, yes. Yes, there was.

With markets waking, Washington’s debt standoff worsened significantly Sunday amid recriminations and distrust just eight days before the real threat on an unprecedented default.

Having broken off talks last Friday with the White House, Speaker John Boehner is still trying to achieve much of the same $3 trillion package in a two-stage process tied to raising the debt ceiling in increments of $900 billion first and then about $1.6 trillion next year.

But on the eve of a Monday Republican conference, Boehner’s would-be Senate partner, Majority Leader Harry Reid, was called to the White House on Sunday and then came out swinging, accusing the speaker of taking a “my-way-or-the-highway approach” that could never be acceptable to the Senate nor to President Barack Obama.

“Tonight, talks broke down,” Reid (D-Nev.) said. “Speaker Boehner’s plan, no matter how he tries to dress it up, is simply a short-term plan, and is, therefore, a non-starter in the Senate and with the president.”

Reid said he had begun drafting his own $2.7 trillion deficit reduction plan and urged Boehner to join him. But Republicans reacted angrily, saying Reid had been working with them Sunday afternoon up to the White House meeting and the sudden change-of-heart was dictated by Obama, jilted by Boehner but a major force in the whole struggle.

(italics, ours)

But as far as what this is really all about, here's Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, calling Obama's bluff and putting a nice neat bow on this whole sorry charade.

Quoting Obama:

The only bottom line I have is that we have to extend the debt ceiling through the next election.

As pathetically inept a negotiating and PR ploy as that may be, we commend the President for his honesty as his candor, intentional or not, revealed his true intentions.


Monday, July 25, 2011

The long national nightmare is over

OK, OK, so no regular season games were missed (just the Hall of Fame game will be axed though unfornately none of the other meaningless and unwatchable pre-season games will meet a similar fate) but at 4-1/2 months in the making, the NFL lockout was, no matter how confident one was that a deal would get done, cause for some angst, right?

Now it can be said with certainty: Get ready for some football!

NFL players voted to OK a final deal Monday, days after the owners approved a tentative agreement, and the sides finally managed to put an end to the 4½-month lockout, the longest work stoppage in league history.

"This is a long time coming, and football's back," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, "and that's the great news for everybody."

At a joint appearance outside the NFL Players Association headquarters, Goodell and NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith shook hands, surrounded by some of the owners and players who were involved in the talks. They spoke shortly after the NFLPA executive board and 32 team reps voted unanimously to approve the terms of a 10-year deal.

"We didn't get everything that either side wanted ... but we did arrive at a deal that we think is fair and balanced," Smith said.

The details of the deal? Like you care? Like we care? We got ourselves some professional tackle football, man.

There was one touching moment, however, that took place at the news conference announcing the deal.

If there was one unexpected moment during Monday's news conference it was certainly Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday's eloquent tribute to New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft, who was lauded as instrumental in helping forge the deal. Kraft's wife, Myra, died Wednesday after a battle with cancer.

"A special thanks to Myra Kraft, who even in her weakest moment allowed Mr. Kraft to come and fight this out," Saturday said. "Without him, this deal does not get done. ... He's a man who helped us save football."

With that, Saturday wrapped Kraft in a hug -- a gesture that symbolized how the lockout ended more than anyone's words.


P.S. We've been fortunate enough to pick up ESPN Radio out of L.A. (AM 710) as we've about had it with the local hacks down here in San Diego and because the folks up there speak the language we were raised with (Lakers, Dodgers, Angels, USC football and UCLA basketball? Sounds good to us. )

Anyway this was the exchange yesterday afternoon between a caller and host Mark Willard:

Caller: May be having no football this season would be a good thing. Maybe we all would find out that there is more to life than football.

Willard: That's not a life I'm interested in.

Amen to that, brother. Amen to that.

Quote of the day

B-Daddy on the debt-ceiling and the shift in emphasis in pension reform.

I think that we should take a moment to bask in the media blame of the tea party for this crisis. Two years ago, their seemed to be a consensus of Keynesian business as usual, just pile on more debt and spending to get out of the recession. In just two years our movement has completely changed the nature of the dialog about government. The size of spending cuts, not the amount of government growth are now the topic of debate. Reforming government pensions is on the table from sea to shining sea.

He's right, of course. Without the tea party, more listless, slow simmering instead of the jolt of reality that shook up the status quo as well as the establishment. Read more at The Liberator Today.

If it can be done in New Jersey...

With respect to entitlement and pension reform, timidity and kicking the can down the road at the federal level has given way to a lot of action at the state level. And in contrast to what we saw in Wisconsin, where the battle lines were drawn along party lines, deep blue states like New York and New Jersey were able to get state employee pension reforms accomplished in a bipartisan manner.

James Freeman of the Wall Street Journal sits down stands up with Steve Sweeney, Democrat, and President of the New Jersey Senate. (video approx. 10 minutes long)

I'm a labor guy: I saw a serious problem with the pensions and health care system we had in the state and it wasn't sustainable.

We did the right thing for everyone involved. They might be mad today... but I know what I did was right.

We took private sector pension management structure and put it into the public sector pension structure.

And yet here in California, public employee pension reform is nowhere close to being on the radar.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Entitlement programs by the numbers...

... but first this from Michael A. Walsh:

Forget all the numbers being tossed around in Washington -- the millions and billions and trillions of dollars being taxed, borrowed, printed and spent as the country approaches the Aug. 2 debt-ceiling deadline.

Forget the political jockeying for position between a president desperately seeking re-election in 16 months and a Congress equally desperately seeking not to be blamed for spending even more money that we don't have.

Forget the fact that such "entitlements" as Social Security and Medicare -- social-insurance programs that the public long thought to be actuarially sound -- have been exposed as little more than legal Ponzi schemes, paying today's benefits out of tomorrow's borrowed receipts.

Instead, just ask yourself this simple question: When did it become the primary function of the federal government to send millions of Americans checks?

For this, in essence, is what the debt-ceiling fight is all about -- the inexorable and ultimately fatal growth of the welfare state. If you don't believe it, just look at President Obama's veiled threat to withhold Grandma's Social Security benefits if Congress doesn't let him borrow another $2 trillion or so to get himself safely past the 2012 election.
(italics, ours)

Now some numbers:

43 : the cents borrowed by the Feds for every dollar they spend.

1/2 : the amount of the federal budget ($3.8 trillion) consumed by Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and debt interest.

12 billion : What they said, back in 1966, Medicare would cost in 1990 adjusted for inflation.

107 billion: What it actually cost.

5 : The number of workers for every Social Security recipient in 1960.

3 : The number of workers for every Social Security recipient today.

No wonder the trustees of the system themselves -- including three Obama Cabinet officials -- warned in their most recent report on the health of the entitlement system: "Projected long-run program costs for both Medicare and Social Security are not sustainable under currently scheduled financing, and will require legislative corrections if disruptive consequences for beneficiaries and taxpayers are to be avoided."

No sober or rational person can deny that significant structural changes will need to be made to our entitlement programs if we as a country wish to remain solvent yet no one, and most importantly, including the American public, seems willing to eat our peas, to borrow a phrase, with respect to accepting the inevitable.

Walsh finishes with this:

The preamble to the Constitution talks about promoting the general welfare, not the welfare state. For the welfare state is incompatible with the rest of the preamble, which concludes: "and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity." By definition, dependents are not free.

He's right. How can we be called "free" if we have allowed ourselves to be taken hostage by debts and deficits brought on by government programs of our own doing?

Video clip of the day

Would you give up the internet for the rest of your life for one million dollars?

If not, for what amount would you give it up?

Oh, and let's hear it for the rich who purchase technology way before the rest of us and thus subsidize that technology's maturation and advancement so that the rest of us can purchase that more reliable and user-friendly technology later on when the cost has come down. Think: that $4,000 brick Michael Douglas was chugging around in Wall Street.

Capitalism has a built-in wealth transfer system of its own. We don't buy much until the filthy rich try it our first.

Things get better because in order for me to succeed I have to pay attention to your needs and wants, I have to create a product that you will voluntarily buy, so I cannot make myself better off apart from making you better off as well.

Capitalism (paradoxically) maximizes social welfare.

Exit question: Who's the babe?

We welcome all musings and answers to the questions posed above in the comments seciton.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Crime, smog, traffic and graffiti and all they have to show for it is their crappy newspaper

One in a series that takes a look at bad journalism going down at the L.A. Times.

An L.A. Times column here by Hector Tobar recounts the on-going battle between car drivers and bicyclists over the roads of Los Angeles. It is dated July 15 and we first read it yesterday at the L.A. Times website.

However, when we went back to it this morning as we wanted to share what we thought was the money paragraph, said paragraph had appeared to be scrubbed from the article.

Here's the missing paragraph:

The new law allows cyclists to sue in civil court and collect up to three times their damages, plus attorney's fees. Ross Hirsch, a lawyer who helped craft the law, said the potential for high compensation will make attorneys more likely to take on cyclists as clients.
(italics, ours)

What do you all think? Did the L.A. Times think that Mr. Tobar was letting on a bit too much? Did they think that perhaps Mr. Tobar exposed the unseemly truth that it is indeed the foxes that are watching the hen house up there in L.A?

The L.A. Times evidently thinks it's better to keep the masses in the dark regarding the sad and sorry truth.

Project Gunrunner/Operation Fast and Furious update

Emails obtained by the House Oversight Committee show a federal agency attempting to evade and obfuscate the investigation into its Fast and Furious operation.

From the L.A. Times:

After the death of Terry and Grassley's inquiries, the agency sought to close ranks. In an email on Feb. 3, Justice Department officials told ATF supervisors that "you are in no way obligated to respond to congressional contacts or requests for information.... You are not authorized to disclose non-public information about law enforcement matters outside of ATF or the Department of Justice to anyone, including congressional staff."

In addition, in a series of emails to William J. Hoover, the ATF's acting deputy director, bureau officials discussed what steps to take to throw Grassley and congressional investigators off the trail.

Grassley and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, are investigating who in Washington approved the program and why it was not shut down months before ATF ultimately halted it.

And potential retaliation against whistle-blowers:

After Grassley's inquiries, Hoover received an internal email alerting him that the bureau was "receiving reports that Grassley's staff is contacting current and former ATF field agents to inquire about the open investigation into the Brian Terry murder" and Fast and Furious. According to one email, ATF officials believed that Grassley was growing more suspicious because "ATF is not answering" his concerns.

They seemed further alarmed when they learned that a mid-level ATF supervisor "called to the carpet" an employee who had spoken with Grassley's staff. The employee "was ordered to write a memorandum disclosing everything" he told the senator's staff. The email said Grassley's office had expressed concern that the ATF supervisor may have violated federal laws intended to protect whistle-blowers.
(italics, ours)

We're pressed for time but do read the entire article by Richard Serrano at the link where a scheme is concocted at the highest levels of ATF to issue a "watered-down" response to the Committee's inquiries, downplaying the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and where much back-slapping among ATF higher-ups ensues.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Radio KBwD is on the air

Some heretofore undiscovered clips of this band have us pretty stoked to share this one with you all.

The very first tape casette we purchased as teenagers was Stevie Ray Vaughn's Couldn't Stand the Weather but our first CD a few years later was this band's epic live album Waiting for Columbus. We chose wisely on both accounts.

Ladies and Gentlemen, from Los Angeles, California yet bringing their own brand of New Orleans funk, it's Little Feat performing "All That You Dream."

Two worlds... two sets of rules

A thought or two regarding local, state and federal book-keeping:

The Congress that passed Sarbanes-Oxley concluded that the only way to ensure transparency in corporate numbers was to require corporate officers to certify that their numbers were correct. The penalties for falsely certifying are substantial -- fines of as much as $5 million, and up to 20 years in prison -- on the theory that the fear of personal liability will reduce the incentive to exaggerate future revenue or conceal future liabilities.

By contrast, congressional appropriators and federal agency heads, are under no similar constraints. True, the government does have its own accounting principles. But nobody faces liability if the numbers are off. Nobody has skin in the game.

Consequently, if we need Sarbanes-Oxley (as its supporters still insist) to give us reassurance that we can believe corporate America’s numbers, ought we not to have something similar (as Peterson among others has argued) to reassure us that we can believe the numbers coming out of Washington?

Well, there's skin in the game, alright, but only in the sense of not being allowed back into the Puzzle Palaces of D.C., Sacramento, San Diego, etc. where you get to make up the rules as opposed to not having to worry about serving hard time as a result of any misbehaving in the private sector.

To wit: How is it that GSEs (Government Sponsored Entities) "Fannie Mae" and/or "Freddie Mac" have not replaced "Enron" in our cultural lexicon for criminal financial malfeasance?

Guess Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac won't fit on a bumper sticker.

Video clip of the day

How much awesomeness can be packed into 63 seconds? You're about to see in this FD (Fiscal Dysfunction) ad that is an ode to TARP, HAMP, Porkulus and Bailout Nation in general while giving props to generational theft at the very end.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

MAXED OUT: Day 3 In San Francisco

The San Francisco Maxalogue continues. Sir Maximus...?

Ok, you crazy kids, so far I have reviewed a few beer bars that I visited on this last San Francisco trip, as well as airport bars in
general. Today I’m gonna review a few more, and in the next couple
days a few more, as well as put a big fat bow on the whole trip.
Honestly though, if you want to know what to do or where to go in San
Francisco I am a self-proclaimed master tour guide in the city by the
bay, so hit me up if you do find yourself heading there.

So, on the fifth of July, I rounded up 20 fine folks to attend the
Giants/Padres game in the most beautiful stadium that these little
eyes have ever seen. But first we had to do an epic beer bar tour,
right? I mean come on, it just makes sense. First stop: Toronado
San Francisco. Sos the game starts at 7pm and obviously that means
that it’s a good idea to start drinking at noon, right? Toronado San
Francisco is a world reknowned beer bar located in the Lower Haight
district on the corner of Haight and Fillmore, to be exact. The
bartenders are typically, ummm, not friendly, which was pleasantly not the case on this occasion. Johnny was our barkeep and was most
helpful. I’m almost positive that everyone that I was with got to
enjoy Moonlight Brewery’s Reality Czech, a perfect example of a Czech-style pilsner from a tiny, itty-biddy little brewery just south of San
Francisco. Oh, and Toronado itself is just this average, tavern-looking bar with stickers all over the walls and the smell of rank
beer and sausage in the air. But the draft list alone is worth it.
Some 50 beers on draft, every one of them better than the last. And
the reason for the sausage smell? Rosamunde’s Sausage Grill is two
doors down and you can bring their AMAZING food back to Toronado. A
MUST! And a little local secret is that they have burger Tuesdays,
which is the only day that they make some of the best burgers you’ll
ever have. When did we go? Ya, that would be on a Tuesday.
Service: (Typically) D. Ambiance: D. Beers: A+. Overall: A-…. Yes
it’s just a must see/experience.

After filling our bellies with sausages, hamburgers and beer we
decided to skip a little Nano-Brewery called Magnolia and start
heading toward the stadium. Next stop Zeitgeist, baby! Originally, a
bike messenger bar, Zeitgeist has turned into a local favorite on warm
summer days. When you walk in it just looks like a dinky little punk
bar but when you walk onto their outside patio you realize what all
the fuss is about. Their patio is about the size of a football field,
lined with picnic style benches and umbrellas. And we lucked out with
the weather, as it was 75 with a slight breeze. Can you say
PERFECT!?!??! They only have about 12 beers to choose from, but their line-up has a few decent beers to choose from available both in the
pitcher and by the pint. A round of pitchers it is then! Oh, and
they too have a grill with some of the least nutritious burgers on the
planet. Right up my alley. If you find yourself at the edge of the
Mission district on one of the few warm days in San Francisco, I
implore you all to check this not so little gem.
Food: B+. Beer: B-. Service: B. Ambiance: A+. Overall: A-

But we had to make our way to the stadium, so after a few beers at
Zeitgeist we moseyed on over to 21st Amendment, a Micro/Nano-Brewery
just a few blocks from the stadium. They once collaborated with Stone
and Firestone on a beer called El Camino (Un)Real Black Ale, a 9.5% American Strong Ale, which gives them some cred in the beer biz. The restaurant itself is a little too polished for my liking, and on game
days (which is, of course, when we went) can be far too crowded (which
it was.) Their beer is preeeeety good, not great. I had their house
IPA which is a fair representation of a West Coast IPA and hung out
on their side patio. I was feeling pretty saucy at this point, so I
don’t have much else to report on this joint but would still recommend
your checking it out if you happen to be on a beer tour of San
Beer: B+. Ambiance: B-. Service: C+. Overall: B, but worth checking out.

Alright kiddos, stay tuned for my review of Hemlock Tavern, Lucky 13,
and Blackbird, which will be the first non-beer related establishment
that I will have reviewed. Why? Because it is that freakin’ amazing.

Until next time my beer loving brethren, have a beer for me.

Bending the curve downward

Recall how one of the arguments made in favor of passing ObamaCare was that it would bend the cost curve of health care downward. Well, we're finding out now that there is another curve that ObamaCare may very well be responsible for bending downward.

Here's Nancy Pelosi back in February of 2010 during the big push to get ObamaCare passed.

4 million jobs (created) and 400,000 almost immediately...

So, how has that all been working out?

A new study just released from the Heritage Foundation thinks Ms. Pelosi may want to reconsider her words.

Private-sector job creation initially recovered from the recession at a normal rate, leading to predictions last year of a “Recovery Summer.” Since April 2010, however (ed. note: ObamaCare passed at the end of March), net private-sector job creation has stalled. Within two months of the passage of Obamacare, the job market stopped improving. This suggests that businesses are not exaggerating when they tell pollsters that the new health care law is holding back hiring. The law significantly raises business costs and creates considerable uncertainty about the future. To encourage hiring, Congress should repeal Obamacare.

Now, correlation does not necessarily prove causation but it is a mighty damn big coincidence and the study points out the following with respect to the big chill ObamaCare has put on businesses:

Businesses with fewer than 50 workers have a strong incentive to maintain this size, which allows them to avoid the mandate to provide government-approved health coverage or face a penalty;

Businesses with more than 50 workers will see their costs for health coverage rise—they must purchase more expensive government-approved insurance or pay a penalty;

and Employers face considerable uncertainty about what constitutes qualifying health coverage and what it will cost. They also do not know what the health care market or their health care costs will look like in four years. This makes planning for the future difficult.

That last one is a biggie. Though passed just under a year and a half ago, the actual ObamaCare regulations are only now being written up. And the legislation has given unprecedented powers to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, and very much arbitrary power at that to interpret the language of the legislation as she sees fit.

How can this level of uncertainty not be bad for business, the employment figures and the economy at large?


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Photo images of the day

Celebrating the 42nd anniversary of Apollo 11's lunar landing.

And this:

Apollo astronauts practiced every second of their mission, even planting the flag (above), many times, indoors, outdoors, in space suits, underwater, in planes, in centrifuges, in pools, in the ocean and anywhere else NASA saw fit. They were prepared for every contingency and trained for water planned landings as well as desert and jungle survival in case their capsule missed the ocean and hit land. They learned geology, how to withstand g-forces, maneuver in low- and zero-gravity conditions, and how to drive electric rovers and land the lunar module.

Check the rest of the Apollo 11's training photo gallery, here.

Exit observation: Do you know what else stinks about massive federal debt? We can't afford a kick-ass space program anymore.

Smack of the day

Courtesy Dr. Krauthammer:

“This [Lew’s] claim is a breathtaking fraud. The pretense is that a flush trust fund will pay retirees for the next 26 years. Lovely, except for one thing: The Social Security trust fund is a fiction. … In other words, the Social Security trust fund contains—nothing.”

That was in response to Obama's budget director, Jack Lew, claiming that Social Security was self-financed, that it was a trust fund... you know, the ol' "lock box". Of course, just last week, the President let the cat out of the bag when he said he would have to withhold Social Security checks if a debt ceiling deal wasn't reached.

All this, after Social Security's own trustees told us there was $2.6 trillion in this alleged self-financing trust fund.

So, who's telling the truth? Is Social Security indepedently solvent or did the President just own up to the fact the "lock box" is full of a bunch of worthless IOUs?

Defenders of the status quo will tell us that Social Security is managed fairly well as far as government programs go and we full-heartedly agree as Ponzi schemes don't normally last the 75+ years that Social Security has.

And as far as the perception that Social Security is some sort of private/personal account... how did that work for President Bush when he proposed privatizing merely 10% of one's Social Security account? Not well, you may recall because far from being a personal account, the public views Social Security as a government entitlement program and unfortunately it is a dependent and unsustainable government program as the President so clumsily confessed to last week.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Project Gunrunner/Operation Fast and Furious update

Breathless hyperventilating over a non-crisis when a Justice Department operation that has killed American agents and innocent Mexicans goes virtually unreported. That's just how our legacy media rolls.

It was very frustrating to all of us, and it appears thoroughly to us that the Department is really trying to figure out a way to push the information away from their political appointees at the Department.

That from Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson testifying to the House Oversight Committee over the July 4th weekend.

And then there is this from the latest letter from the Committee again requesting non-forthcoming info from the Justice Department.

The December 2009 meeting is critical because it occurred immediately after an unusual spike of activity by the straw buyers in which just a few of them purchased 212 guns in six days, primarily from one cooperating gun dealer. According to witnesses, that meeting was for the purpose of convincing the gun dealer to continue selling to the suspects and continue providing information to the ATF despite misgivings caused by the high volume purchases. The Department withheld records about that meeting. Yet, we learned from Mr. Melson that a key record purporting to memorialize that meeting was dated sometime after the controversy broke. Creating such a record more than a year after the meeting could suggest an attempt to paper the file with an after-the-fact rationalization rather than an honest attempt to record an accurate and contemporaneous account of the meeting.

(emphasis, ours)

Back at Seminary, this was called CYA... (Covering Your Ass).

Hell's bells... even the gun dealers thought this was a bad idea.

And then there's this from Of Arms and the Law:

The most impressive revelations are of data that Acting Director Melson gave them. ATF was ready to cooperate until it was gagged by the Deputy Attorney General. They informed the Deputy AG that they had documents that contradicted the "official story" Justice was giving out. A memo describing an important meeting -- held to convince a cooperating gun dealer who was getting worried about allowing all these suspicious gun buys -- was actually written over a year later, after the controversy broke. Melson says there is a memo that is a "smoking gun," which Justice is still refusing to reveal to the Committee.

This is the hottest political story since Watergate ... and of course (with a few exceptions) the MSM is ignoring it. The government itself sets up operations that run thousands of guns to drug cartels, gets two Federal agents and hundreds of Mexican nationals killed, then the coverup goes right up to the Deputy AG (which means it goes at least to the AG: his deputy wouldn't want to be accused of going behind his back), an agency head goes defector. And the MSM is in "move on folks, nothing to see here" mode.

To be fair, the L.A. Times has been covering this but in subtle below-the-fold fashion.

It bears updating: we have yet to see a single shred of evidence that would lead us to believe this was anything other than a callous and cynical plan to bolster a narrative of the free flow of guns from U.S. gun shops and into the hands of Mexican drug cartels for the purpose of passing new gun laws which is exactly what happened.

The green jobs boondoggle

How are all those green jobs working out?

Even after fudging numbers and ignoring the huge subsidies, a liberal think tank reports that growth in the alternative-energy sector lags the rest of the economy.

Green jobs were supposed to be our salvation, both for the earth and for the economy, according to the Obama administration. White House policy based on this flawed premise led to offshore and onshore drilling bans and the locking-up of energy-rich lands while huge alternative energy subsidies (aka "investments") found their way into the stimulus and other legislation.

As happens when government tries to pick winners and losers, the government lost — no, we all lost. As has happened in countries such as Spain, this misallocation of resources has succeeded only in stalling our economy as unemployment and debt grow.

In Spain's case, it was found that for every "green" job created, 2.2 jobs were lost in the rest of the economy.

Along comes the Brookings Institution with a report touting the fact that nearly 2.7 million people brought home paychecks in 2010 working in the "clean economy." That's a 3.4% increase in "green jobs" since 2003, and it sounds terrific until you realize the economy as a whole grew at a 4.2% rate over the same period.

As the folks at duly note, Brookings got to its conclusions by including, for example, all mass transit workers regardless of the actual energy source. They also lump in people such as organic farmers and nuclear energy workers, though the greenies have never touted nuclear energy as "clean" or nuclear jobs as "green."

And let's not forget to factor into these job numbers the massive amounts of subsidies (i.e., your tax dollars) that are pumped into the green economy to further prop up these job numbers.

The article cites an Energy Department report which stated that the average subsidy per megawatt-hour for all energy was $1.65. However, for wind and solar that number jumps to $24.

And knowing what we have known and are continuing to find out about ethanol, solar and wind, do those even qualify as green jobs, anymore?

Video clip of the day

Nick Gillespie of and sans leather jacket gives about as good a summation of the debt ceiling debate as we have seen/read and helps partially explain why we haven't spent much time on it here at Beers with Demo.

1. August 2nd is a phony deadline. We are currently on double-secret probation.

2. Reaching a debt limit is not the same as defaulting.

3. Legislating in panic is no way to run a country. See also: Obamacare.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Wait, what?

One in a series where we take a look at the unusual, the absurd and certainly the unexpected.

Perhaps you've heard by now that actress Mila Kunis has accepted an invitation to the Marine Corps ball in November. The video invite sent by Sgt. Scott Moore can be seen here. Pretty cool, huh? And her reaction to the reaction of her accepting the invite (first link) was pretty darn cool as well.

OK, let's call it a wrap shall we and let this golden and heart-warming Hollywood moment live on in our memories unsullied for eternity.

What's that? You say you're intrigued by this lovely young lass and would like to know more about her? C'mon, do you really want to take that chance? Can we just leave well enough alone?

Alright, then...

GQ: Your new movie is called Friends with Benefits. Ever been in one of those relationships?

Mila Kunis: Oy. I haven’t, but I can give you my stance on it: It’s like communism—good in theory, in execution it fails. Friends of mine have done it, and it never ends well. Why do people put themselves through that torture?

Wait, what?

Now regardless of whether you actually agree with her judgement of either FWBs or communism, ponder the fact that this 28 yr. old actress took multiple unrelated concepts and strung them together in a single coherent thought, completely unrehearsed.

Kunis as a young girl and her parents emigrated here from the Soviet Union back in 1991 escaping what they saw as persecution against Jews. Knowing that, it's easier to see how she just might have a different perspective on things than the average American-born twenty-something.

Having said that, please count BwD as official fan-boys of Ms. Kunis.

Project Gunrunner/Operation Fast and Furious update

Do you remember when they told us that if we voted for McCain it would mean at least 4 more years of non-transparency in our federal government? Well, they were right.

From the L.A. Times:

Five months after U.S. immigration agent Jaime Zapata was shot to death by a Mexican drug cartel, his family is demanding to know whether the weapons were purchased in the United States and smuggled into Mexico under the now-defunct Fast and Furious operation.

The family complains that U.S. authorities in Washington and Texas have refused to answer crucial questions about the Feb. 15 ambush on a four-lane highway in northern Mexico.

"What happened with Jaime needs to come out," the family's lawyer, Raymond L. Thomas of McAllen, Texas, said in a telephone interview Sunday. "And the likelihood that these were Fast and Furious guns is certainly plausible."

Mexican authorities have announced nine arrests in the high-profile case. Among them was Jesus Rejon Aguilar, a Zetas cartel leader who was captured near Mexico City this month.

In Washington, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is seeking information on the Zapata slaying.

Nelson Peacock, assistant secretary for legislative affairs for the Department of Homeland Security, which includes the immigration and customs agency, told Issa in a letter Friday that investigating Zapata's killing was a priority.

"Like you, the department wants to ensure that his murderers are brought to justice," Peacock wrote.

We've seen various reports, particularly in the electronic media, calling Fast and Furious a "botched" operation. From what we've seen, heard and read thus far, nothing could be further from the truth - this was all a text book operation and instead of staying mum and stonewalling the House oversight committee investigation, the Justice Department ought to be trumpeting and celebrating its success.

Someone very high up in the food chain within the Justice Department signed off on a plan to let guns purchased here in the U.S. to walk back across the border and into the hands of Mexican drug cartel king pins, some of whom may have already been on the Justice Department payroll, to bolster a narrative of an unchecked southward flow of guns to Mexico so that new gun regulations to stem this flow could be enacted and that is precisely what happened.

A brilliant sleight of hand by the Obama administration if we do say so ourselves.

Free Captain Elliott's Party Boats (cont.)

Though slowing down, rumors of waiver-mania's demise have been greatly exaggerated. We are approaching that nice, big round number of 1,500 and as we get more and more into the thick of the presidential election grind, it may be time to shut down this albatross of a political pain-in-the-rear.

The Obama administration granted 39 waivers from part of the President’s health care law last month, bringing the total to 1,471, an announcement which is prompting one Republican Senator to introduce legislation that would allow all Americans to apply for a waiver.

Wyoming Republican John Barrasso said today that he plans to introduce a bill next week that “will deliver choice to Americans who want to get the care they need, from the doctor they want, at a price they can afford” by allowing all Americans to apply for a waiver from the president’s health care law.

On the transparency front, the Department of Health and Human Services has even bothered to update the waiver list since early this year as said list reflects merely half the total of actual waiver recipients.

We are being told that companies and unions! now have until Sept. 22 to apply for a coverage limit waiver but we'll believe that when we see it as the waiver train was originally supposed to shut down in December of last year.

We'll keep you posted with any late breaking developments on this front.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


A look at some articles, news items, columns and blog posts that caught our eye this past week.

Kaus on Krugman and Porkulus...

Out: You know, Porkulus just wasn't big enough.

In: You know, it just wasn't the right kind of Porkulus

More Keynesian fail: $22 Billion Housing Tax Credit Program Utterly Failed as Economic Policy

This paper finds that (1) the home buyer tax credits had an insignifi cant effect on the number of homes sold, (2) sellers in markets with low and stable prices captured most of the credit, and (3) The effects of the credits sharply reversed after expiration. ... Rather than igniting 'animal spirits' or pulling housing demand forward from the distant future, the tax incentives were a simple redistribution of wealth.

Gawd, what a bunch of whiners...

A long-running tiff between the White House press corps and the West Wing over presidential access flared anew today when press secretary Jay Carney faced off with reporters over the right to shout questions at the president during debt talks.

Obama chafes at the time-honored practice of answering questions shouted at him during pooled, non-press conference events — and his staff has often opted for “stills sprays,” excluding print reporters or TV cameras who might capture Obama in the less than flattering non-act of snubbing a query.

When asked today why TV crews and print reporters were barred from the pool covering the White House meeting with congressional leaders on the deficit, Carney responded by pointing out that the administration has held two press conferences in the past two weeks and allowed TV cameras into the spray earlier this week.

"People shouted questions at him," Carney said. He then added, "The purpose of the meeting is not to create a circus, but to negotiate, so today we're doing stills only."
Is there anything more annoying than an administration that has received the benefit of continual tongue-bathing by the press now complaining about that very same press and the long-standing nature of press conferences? Pathetic.

Confirmed: Economists clueless about the economy and jobs numbers.

If you’re confused over high unemployment, you’re not alone. The people who are best supposed to understand this issue don’t have much of a clue either.

That became readily apparent following the government’s release Friday of the June jobs report, a dismal data set with virtually no redeeming factors.

More than that, though, the report blindsided Wall Street and Washington economists, who expected about 100,000 jobs created last month, not the 18,000 that showed up in the Bureau of Labor Statistics compilation.

That’s an enormous miss.

Well, this admission was rather, uh, unexpected.

Hey, here's some of that "new civility" we've been hearing so much about:

Fresh off of his claim that voting for Republicans is akin to voting “not guilty” in the Casey Anthony trial, Bill Maher appeared on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight” on Monday, where he slammed and denigrated both Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann.

The comedian used derogatory and sexist language, stating that he hopes Palin jumps into the presidential race so that she and Bachmann can “…split the MILF vote.”

We guess the upside here is that with Bachmann in the mix, both Palin and Bachmann can split the misogynist vote of the deranged liberal-Left.

Folks, let's call it like it is: Bill Maher is a sad, little one-trick pony. No one really pays any attention to the Ralph Nader-voting, self-described libertarian (yeah, credibility right out the window with that impossible political contortion) unless he's venting his bile.

Side note and returning to a previous thought: What sort of world do we live in where people get away with talking about women in this manner? What sort of world do we live in where the husbands of Palin and Bachmann haven't kicked someone's ass yet?

Here's even more of that "new civility" we've been hearing about:

A new exhibit at a Michigan city art gallery features a provocative piece that depicts four Republican governors beneath the Nazi party symbol. Despite complaints, the work will remain on display.

Titled “The Faces of American Fascism,” the poster has pictures of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Wis. Gov. Scott Walker, Mich. Gov. Rick Snyder and Fla. Gov. Rick Scott under the national insignia of Nazi Germany. The symbol of the Republican Party is encircled in the wreath under the eagle instead of a swastika.

Nazis? That's the best these clowns could come up with? Nazis? Nazis are so 2004. If there is a more tired and played-out pejorative brand than Hitler/Nazis, then we've yet to see it.

And looking on the bright side, to paraphrase P.J. O'Rourke, Conservatives/Republicans shouldn't get too upset by this as no one has ever had sexual fantasies involving liberals.

And speaking of... the obligatory Hitler rants on Carmageddon and the weekend shut down of the 405 up in L.A.

Adolf Hitler: not a big fan of public transportation.

Side note: we've always been puzzled as to why the 405 is called the San Diego Freeway when it's southern terminus is a good 70-80 miles north of the city of San Diego. How about the Southbay Freeway? Makes much more sense, don't you think?

The legacy media desparately doing whatever it can to provide cover for Team O in the Gunrunner/Fast and Furious debacle.

And finally, B-Daddy on the President, his temperament and the debt ceiling debate:

So despite the President's rhetoric that he will sacrifice his presidency over this, one can only hope, the real issue is that he doesn't want this as a campaign issue in 2012, so he won't go for any deal that doesn't push the next debt ceiling debate beyond November, 2012, with cushion to spare. It has been widely reported that Obama said that "Ronald Reagan wouldn't sit here and take this." How true; in the 1980s, Reagan reached out to Dan Rostenkowski to cut deals on tax code simplification and rate reductions that led to real growth in the economy. He didn't sit back and wait to the eleventh hour to jump into the fray with politically charged rhetoric designed to deflect criticism. William Daley, an old Chicago pol, who probably knew Rosty, should get Obama to refrain from comparing himself to Reagan, its too easy a target.

Obama was elected in no small part because of his supposed bipartisan tone suggested a willingness to independents that he would work in good faith with Republicans on pressing issues in trying times. He has certainly lost whatever good will he may have had by his consistently nasty tone, whether towards the opposition or the "fat cats with corporate jets."

If class warfare is all this guy has ever known, why are people surprised when he lashes out in such a petulant non-post-partisan manner. And comparing himself to Reagan? Please...

OK, gang, that's a wrap. We'll see everybody bright and early on Monday.