Friday, October 31, 2014

Misinformation... BOO!

Happy Halloween everyone! I hope you are all able to go out and enjoy some spooks and scares. I debated with myself about whether to share some musings about past Halloween's and some nice anecdotes about the holiday, or if I should address something truly scary!

Misleading Information (Dum dum duhhhhmmmm...)

Partisan Politics (Dah Daaaahhhhhh....)

and, Election Surprises (Eeeeeeeekkkkk!!!!)

Just a couple days ago the good people at Politicususa.com posted an article sharing irrefutable evidence that the economy is always awesome under Democratic presidents, and that it (almost) always stinks under the rule of Republicans.

Of course anyone who has paid a sliver of attention to the economy for more then 5 years can look at their primary graphic and know that there is something fishy going on. Take a look at the Bureau of Labor statistics for private job growth and you will find out that shock! The numbers don't say that. Going from inauguration to inauguration their creation rates should be Bush (-80K/year) and Obama (+1100K/year). Far from the rates implied in the graphic.

Now don't get me wrong, these still aren't numbers that I would brag about, but it does lead you read the fine print on the graphic. They are measuring based on their budget years, not the time they are actually in office, creating a lag of several months from a presidents inaguaration (February) to the end of the budget year (October). For the Bush v. Obama example, things were not good those first several months of the Obama presidency, the debate will go on for years about how quickly and positively President Obama's policies impacted our recovery from that recession.

This specific manipulation of data isn't totally unjustified, though. It takes some time for an entering administration to get their house in order and begin to make changes, and then for those changes to have some effect.

While political economy models can get quite sophisticated and complicated and may entail a wide variety of not so obvious 'tweaks' and not so realistic assumptions to massage data to make a point (exactly what I am arguing here, btw) the idea of economic inheritance can be boiled down to adding together two major yet simple points. The first, already noted, is that there is a lag in the economy. There is an inertia or continuity in the economy that carries forward from one fiscal year to the next and that does not get disrupted so suddenly by a change in administration.

Some of you may be rolling your eyes right now, "Blame Bush!" I appear to be saying. I said there was some inertia, but I think the discussion has to be in the frame of months, not years. When the Obama administration declared 'Recovery Summer!' in 2010 and proceeded to create a few hundred thousand jobs after we had lost millions and spent trillions to get them back. That is the definition of a failed plan.

There is a clear break, however, in the argument of blaming someone for a downturn and blaming someone for how they responded to it. It is this second point that holds the key to voters perception of how Presidents handle the economy that allows for close elections when all the massaged numbers in presented show that Democrats are such clear champions of jobs and economic growth.

I'm getting a little long winded, feel free to take a break and grab a soda... You good? Okay, because here is the crux of my argument

*official onset of a recession as defined by the National. Bureau of Economic Research
The economies inherited by each of the new Republican presidents from their Democratic predecessors in this post World War 2 era had gone into recession within the year leading up to the parties’ change in stewardship. Don't believe me? Well here is my not so pretty graph to prove my point. Provided by the University of Buffalo Political Science department.

For those of you familiar with concepts like Okin's Law, recessions typically lead to job loss. If we accept the data from PoliticusUSA that there is a lag, then is it such a stretch to point out that what happens during that lag can be factored into our conclusions as well?

What is the main point you can gleam off this data? The 2 second sound bite would be "Democratic Presidencies lead to recessions". I'm going to try and be a little more polite in my assessment and say that the criteria for a Republican to get elected president is different then it is for a Democrat to be elected president. This truth extends well beyond how the economy is doing from one quarter to the next. If it were simply a numbers game then it would be a matter of who can dump the most money into an economy that would lead to jobs. 

It's a bait statistic to say Democrats create more jobs, because to say that no they don't is 1). In the most direct interpretation inaccurate, 2). because Republicans are more about creating free and fair economic opportunity. They promote low debts, low taxes, and removing the barriers that may prevent people from creating a new enterprise, and 3). a concession against the old argument that government does not create jobs. 

One can also look at the above data and say Democrats care more about how they can prop you up. Typically, when these types stimulus, jobs programs, and short term infrastructure programs end, such as the case may be during an administrative change, there is a hole left that only continued government 'tinkering' with economic factors such as investment can sustain. This line of reasoning also ties in greatly with ideas of dependency that frequently is brought up in election year debates.

Jobs for the sake of jobs is not a fair benchmark to measure such approaches, if you don't care how a job is being funded or how that job came about. Sure, Democratic administrations appear to have an edge, if you care about sustainability and not having government be a requirement for your economic prosperity, the data above helps with that argument. 

And of course, there are other factors, who controls congress, how much debt is involved, what was the unemployment rate going in. If I asked who had lower unemployment on average during their presidency, George W. Bush or John F. Kennedy, who would you guess? What about Clinton v. Nixon? (The republican in both cases, but again, these numbers are horribly misleading)

I've exhausted enough of the limited internet space and most readers attention span, The final conclusion I want you to be able to draw from this is no conundrum to begin with as to why Democrats aren't considered the champions of job creation. Republicans fare about as well as Democrats in presidential elections over a long enough span because the economic records of Republican presidents were about equal to those of Democratic presidents once short term inherited economic conditions are taken into account. It's the methodology and principles behind the numbers that drive most voters as the observable results, at least in the short term, tend to be the same.

You can omit key factors or twist facts all day long, but if the outcome of such contorted data seems to make you wonder why there isn't a clearer result come election time, there is a pretty fair chance that there is something frighteningly misleading about that data.

That's it, I'm off my soap box for the day, now gimme some candy!


Friday, October 24, 2014

Why We Don't Have a Surgeon General

What do you do when you can't even get your own party to support you? Well, if you are on the left in todays political climate, the answer is you blame the other guys.

Almost a year ago, Harry Reid called for a vote to repeal the Senate rule of needing a 60 vote majority to break a filibuster, the dreaded nuclear option. Since then, the senate has only needed 50 votes with Vice President Biden casting a tie breaker in order to get just about any nomination confirmed in the senate.

Sure, there was a small flood of nominees that began to get confirmed in the immediate wake of this historic move, but you knew it would only be a matter of time before Democrats would start needing excuses again as to why nothing is getting done.

Enter Ebola, the lethal disease that is presently trying to get a foothold on the U.S. soil. With levels of paranoia being high the attacks rooted in the lack of leadership and clarity coming out of the White House in addressing yet another global crisis have started anew. And just as predictably as Manning calling an 'Omaha' play for the Broncos, the Democrats have done everything they can to blame anyone but themselves.

This meme from Daily KOS is an example of how they reflect their failures back onto Republicans.

The meme is correct, with a potential health threat staring us down, we could use a surgeon generals office that has more then a 'vacancy' sign on the door. But, if reading this meme makes you think back to the second paragraph of this post, congratulations, you have a better memory then most politicians.

Harry Reid does not need permission from republicans or the NRA to bring this vote to the floor, all he needs is 50 of his 55 (including 2 independents caucusing with) democrat senators to vote for the President's nomination.

Take a look at the example of Debo Adegbile. A nominee to head the Justice Departments Civil Rights division. He was lambasted as an extremist by conservative groups by noting his long history with the NAACP and dredging up stories from a trial in which he represented a cop killer in Philadelphia. Harry called for a vote thinking that a behind the doors campaign directed at his own party would keep the democratic detractors low enough to get the nominee through. 

It didn't work, and Democrats felt an embarrassing blow that not has turned into an fumbling attempt to still blame republicans for something that had bi-partisan opposition. 

Harry now knows better, he knows the President, for becoming more and more obvious reasons, chose a nominee that can not get confirmed, nuclear option or not. That reason is to keep the best attack line democrats have going for them intact. That it is republicans in congress that are impeding the hope and change that was promised 6 years ago. That it's republicans that are the reason the administration is fumbling and bumbling responses with indecisiveness and a 'wait and see'  mentality to almost every event that occurs. 

To summarize, this is one of the scariest times, justifiable or not, that we have faced when it comes to public health. The position of power that should be leading a response both in action and public perception is currently filled by nobody. The reason that there is nobody there is because the one and only person who has been nominated for the position in the past year can not get enough DEMOCRAT support to get approved. The reason why the democrats have not changed nominees or called for a vote, both actions within their power, is specifically so they can continue to blame republicans.

Think about this logically and you almost laugh at how stupid it is, see more memes about blaming republicans and you realize how gullible some people can be into believing these lies.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

NFL Headlines

You can thank my wife for the triumphant return of...


Rex Ryan starts new 'stress diet'. Looses 50 pounds in one loss to New England.

Bill Belichick was visibly ecstatic after his team blocked a field goal with seconds left to hold off the Jets. When asked if he was happy and proud of his team for it's tenacity, he nodded twice.

In anticipation of a great season, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has begun plans for anew, state of the art stadium with a jumbo-tron that will dwarf his current one with the added benefit of blocking field goals.

In related stadium news, the Atlanta Falcons announced a new feature for their new stadium that promises to have pillars and other obstructions strategically placed to make the falcons appear better then then actually are.

Brett Favre takes to twitter to congratulate Payton Manning on breaking his all time touchdown record. It was later revealed that Brett would have called Payton, but was on the phone with Minnesota planning a comeback at the time.

Brett Favre also has struck a deal to become the new spokesman for MicroTouch. Insiders say the deal almost didn't get finished due to Brett's insistence that his testimonial include how he uses the device to shave his junk before sending lude pictures to former colleagues. 

Tony Sparano was asked what the odds are of the Raiders finishing the season with an 0 and 16 record. Tony immediately recanted by saying "0 and 16, we should be so lucky!"

California hopes to crack down on traffic violations. The plan is that rather then issuing speeding tickets, they will begin issuing Raider's tickets.

Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson met with the intention on forming a new football league specifically for people banned from the NFL. Team names that are being mentioned are 'The Switches', 'The Elevator Doorman', 'The Whoopings', 'The Cold Clockers' among others. Rodger Goddell has inquired about an opening in their league central office.

The Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport had ceased all inbound flights from Cleveland after hearing that there was a passenger infected with the experience of watching a Browns game. As a precaution, the Cowboys have begun testing alternate jerseys to prevent the spread of any game play that could be construed as 'Clevelandesk'.

Tim Tebow spends first 30 minutes of his debut on the SEC network replaying footage of all his game winning drives with the Denver Broncos while constantly looking to the camera talking about how good he looks in Jaguar teal and gold.

There are growing concerns over a defenses ability to play pass coverage after the NFL announced a new policy of having a trained psychologist be present at the end of every play in order to ask every wide receiver to point on a doll where the mean corner back touched him. 

And Lastly, in Fantasy news, does anyone want to trade for Reggie Wayne? Seriously, he is doing nothing for me and I really need a running back. Crazy thing when you draft Adrian Peterson and Zac Stacy in the first 2 rounds of your draft...ugh.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Invisble Hand: A Textbook Case Study

How does an industry that gets to set their price and all but force their consumers to buy their product fail to make a profit? Because people don't like to be screwed would be the layman's answer.

A consumers ability to skirt around an expense that they do not wish to expend isn't just a case of people being cheapskates, it's the entire premise behind how capitalism works. The burden of creating value is on the provider of the good, regardless of how stacked the deck is in their favor.

For those of you who perhaps never attended college, let me preface this for you. College is expensive, really expensive. And no small factor in that is in the cost of the textbooks that a classroom may require. You've already spent several thousand dollars in tuition, what's several hundred more in books going to hurt you?

And several hundred dollars more it is, the average amount spent on textbooks by your average college kid is around $700. Compare that to the amount that kids spent on textbooks 10 years ago, which was... about $700. Yet, the average cost of a textbooks, nearly doubled in that same time.

Wait, so what is going on here? How can these textbooks, which are required in most cases, be going up in price while students are spending about the same amount?

Anyone who has ever had to set a budget, personal or otherwise, knows the answer. Even in places where items can be mandated, the invisible hand will creep in and find a way. Prices go up, demand goes down. In this case, the demand for buying these books goes down, not for the content in them that is required.

When prices go up, people usually try to find ways to avoid paying those higher prices. That seems to be what is going on here. The spread of the Internet has made it easier for students to find used textbooks in faraway places. Textbook rental has become a thing. Some students can now buy e-textbooks, which tend to be cheaper than print books. Others are borrowing books or <gasp> going without and they just accept the potential negative impact that it brings.

In fact, the average number of textbooks that the average student buys throughout the year has gone down. Suddenly, the textbook industry is less and less about trying to figure out how to create a great product at a great value, and more and more about closing loopholes and tightening their grip on students wallets. They must have missed that scene in Episode IV:

"The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers." -Princess Leia

They have created a system in which those who play by the traditional rules get pummeled with ridiculous prices and those who find those loopholes and workarounds get through college with the same results but having paid much, much less. All because a mandated product is trying to get the same amount of money out of them in the end.

Think about how this concept applies to our taxes, and you start to ask some valid questions about our tax system and the 74,000 pages of tax code it possesses.

Can such a tax code ever be 'loophole free'?

What is the incentive for a company or individual to find/create a tax loophole?

As some politicians continue to push for a system that is more fair in which rates go up while closing tax loopholes. Just think to yourself as a college kid holding on to a required biology book that costs $300.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Party Positions in 2064

Inspired by a casual conversation with my Wife. We take a look into the future to see what the political stances of the two major parties will be in the year 2064.

On the use of Military Might.

Democrats will fully support the use of androids, robots, drones and terminators without congressional approval as a means of eliminating all foreign threats so long as none of the aforementioned weapons are built with boots on them.

Republicans will continue the fight to extend rights, benefits, and freedoms to our veteran androids, robots, drones, and terminators much in the same way it has fought to extend religious freedoms to corporations. The rights to life will also extend to ingots of steel and boxes of electronic components under the slogan "We are the voice for the not yet assembled"

On the Federal Debt and Spending

Democrats will continue to push for an additional $80,000,000,000,000 in stimulus for fiscal year 2065 because the federal interest rate of -8.5%  is far better then the inflation rate of 58%

Republicans will capitulate on increasing the federal spending limit on a week by week basis, attaching it to a continuing resolution to keep the federal government open so long as the following week's cafeteria menu has spaghetti down for every day.

On Healthcare

Democrats will finally be able to tout the completion of www.Healthcare.gov as a completely error free way to sign up for healthcare just in time for the advent of the latest form of communication and interaction, black holes. The government's new platform for signing up for healthcare will be located at emcc://healthcare.temporalrift.gov. However, upon launch it would accidentally suck in 1 out of 3 people that tried to sign up and empty them through a singularity onto the planet B'larb. Democrats will insist the fissure in time and space is being worked on and that you should not be discouraged from using the rift.

Republicans will press for allowing health insurance plans to be purchased on an individual by individual basis from competing companies. Of course, after 50 years of Obamacare, the industry has been so tightly restricted that any discernible difference from one company to the next will amount to little more then minors changes in the name of one company to the next. When a Republican candidate give the example of "Choosing between insurance company A and company B." People will accuse them of being on the payroll of insurance companies that are actually called 'Company A', and 'Company B'.

On The 2nd Amendment

Democrats will continue to insist that the founding fathers never intended that the 2nd Amendment was meant for the average citizen be armed with a death ray that vaporizes everything in it's path.

Republicans will continue to defend the right using the argument that the people need to be able to defend themselves should the government ever decide to turn it's even larger death ray against them.

On Workers Pay

Democrats will be in a bind when their voting block of imported sentient robots will demand merit based pay for merit based work once the robots realize that they are 600 times more productive then their flesh based counterparts.

Republicans will be fighting to abolish the national minimum wage of $673.23/hr. leaving it up to the states to set their own levels. They will argue "The 1800 dollars per hour minimum wage for Seattle may be OK for them, But here in Alabama, we are fine with 34 cents an hour."

(On a related note, color TV will be introduced to southern Alabama in 2057 when it will be declared of the devil and blasted with one of their many death ray guns.)

On Welfare

Democrats will push to extend unemployment and welfare benefits for then entire life of every American. The following year, the secret to immortality will be discovered and the amount in unpaid liabilities the U.S. owes will officially become incalculable.

Republicans will continue to push for job training over welfare handouts. They will have a hard time answering constituent questions about who will pay for the 18 years of college at $5,000,000 a semester it takes to become qualified to hold a white collar job in 2064. They instead decide to support the Democrats plan then then claim their $70,000,000,000,000,000.00 jobs bill is actually a debt reducing measure.

On Border Security

After the advent of teleportation devices, both sides agree that a ginormous wall would probably be a waste of money and resources.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Letter to Bruce Braley

A letter written to my Congressman Bruce Braley. Iowa 1st Congressional District.

Dear Congressman Braley,

I am writing with concerns over the US military action occurring in Syria.

Let me start off by stating that I do believe that the terrorist group called ISIS or ISIL is a regional threat that contains the capacity to attack us on US soil. That they have clearly stated their intentions and identified themselves as an enemy of the United States and our allies. This threat must be confronted.

However, I strongly disapprove of President Obama's liberal interpretation of the War Powers Act and prior authorizations of similar uses of military might as a means for his actions against this threat.

I am lead to believe you feel the same way.

Last September, you wrote to me and other Iowans asking our opinion for taking military action against Syria for the threat they posed as a result of their use of Chemical Weapons. The results were greatly opposed to taking action in Syria without international and congressional support and approval.

Prior to that, in August of 2013, you signed a letter with other members of congress addressed to President Obama stating, among other items; "Congress should be a part of deciding the proper use of American force"

I understand that authorization for resource assistance to vetted forces in Syria was approved last week, though I generally oppose attaching controversial items that involves the topic of war on to something essential like a continuing resolution, I believe this vote granted the President to take that action in Syria. I also believe we have an obligation to assist Iraq as an ally nation. I do, however, condemn the President for taking further military action against a country in which we have not declared war against, and am asking you to join me and many other of your constituents in Iowa in condemning the President for this over reach of his authority.

I would support congress in authorizing these actions, but I more passionately support the need for due process and a voice of the American people, through congress, to be heard before we take actions that will kill human beings in our name. I hope you feel the same way, thank you.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Who's Buying Elections?

It's as sure as the sun rising, Democrats claiming that GOP candidates are trying to buy elections with outside money from billionaire donors and PAC's, yet thanks to campaign finance disclosure requirements, we can see that Republicans aren't the only ones with deep-pocketed friends.

The latest disclosures to the Federal Election Commission indicate the 2014 race for campaign cash is a little different then what a typical voter may think.

In fact, Democrats are actually outpacing Republicans when it comes to total fundraising for the political parties and their committees. Senate Democrats have out raised Senate Republicans, $111 million to $82.5 million. House Democrats are ahead of House Republicans, $146 million to $113 million. Over $60 million dollars difference.

And in my home state of Iowa, that statement is especially prevalent, with Republican Joni Ernst being out raised by Democrat Bruce Braley $2.5 million to $7.1 million.

But it is independent expenditures by outside groups that really rile up the likes of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Reid has been railing against the libertarian-leaning billionaire Koch brothers for years. They have pledged to spend some $290 million this year to elect conservatives. But Reid's fundraising juggernaut, the Senate Majority PAC, plans to spend $46 million by itself to thwart Republican rivals.

Also, the Democracy Alliance, a coalition of 180 progressive groups and individual millionaire and billionaire liberals who gathered in Chicago this spring to make so-called investment recommendations to their members. They have pledged to spend more than $374 million to help defeat Republicans.

What's more, the AFL-CIO by itself has pledged to spend an additional $300 million to help elect Democrats.

That's not all. In the 10 Senate races where the most outside money's been spent, liberal groups have spent $97 million compared with $79 million for conservative groups.

The Center for Responsive Politics calculates that liberal outside groups have spent $126 million for Democrats and against Republicans this year -- while conservative groups have spent $114.7 million for the opposing purpose.

Add this all up, and you have coffers for Democrats and their supporting groups that well outpace anything that Republican candidates have been able to gin up, by 9 digit margins. The Koch Brothers appear to be less about giving Republican soft money some un-American advantage, and more about trying to let Republicans keep pace.

So let's scratch those evil rich republicans buying elections off the list of reasons why Democrats are going to loose the Senate this midterm. Do not fret, that still leaves the ;War on Women' and the 'Race Card'.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

NFL Good Guys

We've been bombarded with negative news about the NFL these last few weeks. The league's crisis over domestic violence, substance abuse, and the administrative incompetence in addressing it has cast a pall over the popular sport.

But amid the relentless stream of devastatingly sad news, there are a few heartwarming stories that reaffirm the good that can come from the people who are a part of this great game.

Here, in an effort to restore some of your faith in humanity and the NFL, so as to allow you to continue enjoying watching these multi-millionaires do celebratory dances after hitting people in a way that would get a typical man on the street thrown in jail, and do so without a guilt ridden conscious keeping you awake at night, are the good guys of the NFL:






These are not the Make-A-Wish or My Wish charities. Which are great organizations that approach athletes and organizations. These are players that are actively seeking out ways that they can make a positive difference with their time and resources.

Faith in NFL humanity restored.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

My 9/11 Story

I was in college, it was my sophomore year and my class schedule for that particular day didn't begin until early afternoon. Hence, I was sleeping in atop my loft in the dorms.

The phone awoke me, not a smart phone or even cellular phone, I wouldn't possess one of those until a year later. It was a simple wireless phone purchased from Target for no more then twenty dollars. My friend from down the hall was calling me.

"Dude, turn on the TV!" he said excitedly.
"Why?" I sleepily replied.
"Just turn it on, doesn't even matter what channel."
"Dude, I'm up in my bed, and I'm not getting down unless you tell..."
"The world trade center has been hit."
"Hit? What do you mean."
"Turn on the TV!"

Yes, we did, and still do to this day, use 90's nomenclature like 'dude'.

More confused now then in a typical day of college class work, I proceeded to do my grip and slide with a nice thunk onto the tile floor, as my roommates rug did not quite extend to the base of my loft. Spinning to address my 19" tube TV, I reached for the remote that was resting directly next to the front facing power and channel buttons, and turned he device on.

The very first image was of a plane striking one of the famous twin towers buildings, with it's smoking, smoldering twin behind it.

I never really knew if that was a live shot or a replay of the scene moments earlier, and I don't know if the cries and gasps that were audible through my heavy wooden door were always there, or if I was still opening up my senses for the day. All I know is that I didn't understand.

A plane striking a skyscraper, though I had no knowledge of that ever happening didn't seem like such a far fetched concept, but two planes at twin towers. Pajamas and all I entered the dorm hallway intended to seek my friend hoping to gain some new insight, I must have passed three or four of my floor mates that shared my expression along the way. Looks of shock, shrugged shoulders, and awestruck while attempting to consider the implications.

Once in my friends room, the stuttered questions and wordless explanations came fast. News mutterings of victims counts possible being over 30,000 lives. Other students stopped in trying to garner other insights as we began to form small groups. It was in these groups that terms like 'terrorist attack' were first uttered. It was the only explanation that added up. This was not an accident, this was not a coincidence. This happened because someone wanted to harm America.

Shortly after, reports of the Pentagon being hit in a similar manner and a downed plane in Pennsylvania began to confirm this theory.

I remember thinking that this doesn't happen here. Far removed from the volatility of dictators and constant state of rebellion by oceans coupled with the prosperity and general state of domestic peace some how made American soil immune from almost any kind of attack.

I wasn't afraid, I don't recall fear ever really entering my mind. Despite how close New York felt in that moment, being on the 2nd floor of a 10 story dormitory in Iowa did allow my some sense of separation still. That myself, my family, and my friends were still safe. Perhaps that was just a reaction, as any attempt I made to put myself in the shoes of those people we saw covered in ash and running away from clouds of dust was met with an overwhelming sense of helplessness and fear. I had to take the role of spectator watching from a safe distance, allowing my mind to go anywhere else was too terrifying.

In the days and weeks to come, as we began to learn more about the motivations and identified some of the suspected masterminds I remember thinking how bold we were being as a nation. It seemed like such a petty way for a war to be declared against the United States, but mistakenly, it was a war that had been declared.

I still struggle many days with what misguided ideals motivated those men who flew the planes. I have little doubt that they in some way had been affected by an action the U.S. perpetrated in the region at some point. That there was some aspect of them that felt victimized that opened the door for the line of logic that led them to believe such an unorthodox attack against so many civilians was justified. These deep reflections play a huge part in how my political thinking was shaped at the time.
Trying to grapple with how we dither in matters on the other side of the world while still being appalled when they dither in ours. Trying to justify launching missiles at them while being appalled when they crash planes into us.

No line of logic can perfectly justify either sides actions at any specific point over the past several decades. And we can look back for a long time at the list of mistakes we made that helped bring this moment along. Yet there is a singular guiding principle that is evoked in almost any conflict in human history, and that is, once war has been waged, each person must call upon their insight and perspicacity and envision a world in which they win, and one in which the opposition win.

We are not perfect, and perhaps we do meddle in the affairs of other too often. We strive for virtues such as freedom and liberty, yet often find ourselves wanting. This is ok, much like a child who will err from time to time so will we as a people make poor judgments, but as long as we hold those guiding principles true, that man kind's ultimate potential is realized when we have freedom, then I will always feel that our cause is just when faced against a cause that believes in a religious central state that justifies genocide.

There are many innocents that will die in this war, as there always seem to be. And we will question our methods and our means throughout as any rational person would do. The most important lesson that I can take away from that September morning twelve years ago is to remember try again to place myself in the shoes of those who lost their sense of safety and security. To remember those on Flight 93 and their bravery. And to take a moment and close your eyes, and think about those two different worlds. One were we win, and one were they win, and to use those images to strengthen our resolve.

Monday, August 25, 2014

You Can Work From Home

Sometimes perception is reality, and sometimes the numbers don't lie, yet once in a while, these two ago old sayings are at odds with one another.

Bush hosting Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon while on Vacation
The President is taking far too many vacations. That is to say, that not only is he away from the White house often, but to clarify with stating that he allows the affairs of state to come secondary to the his personal needs of relaxation and personal retreat.

Bush Vacationing
w/ Saudie Arabia's
Crown Prince Abdullah
I am not the first to come to this conclusion, and unsurprisingly, there are many who are quick and ready to defend the President by pointing out the numbers provided by Mark Knoller as the unofficial but widely trusted chronicler of data on Presidential travels and other day-to-day White House goings-on. The claim is, in summary, that Bush took many, many more vacations to his home ranch in Crawford Texas during his Presidency then Obama has taken during his. The numbers seem to tell us Bush, in direct comparison to Obama, is more at home wearing flip flops and squirting some SPF 50 on his schnoz.

By this logic, Gilligan and the Skipper should have been very well rested up after taking their three year vacation to an island.

Bush on Vaca with NATO General Jaab
Just because you are away from the White House does not put you on vacation. Sometimes this is obvious, say, when Nixon went to China back in 1972, it wasn't because Panda Express hadn't opened yet in the States. When Roosevelt went to Yalta, it wasn't cause he heard Russian beaches had better parties then the ones at Normandy. You can attend to the affairs of state from any location were and when the key players are present, and when people see you performing the duties of the President, their perception is that he is working, not playing golf (hypothetically of course.) I present to you several of the many available photo's of foreign heads of states being hosted by George W. Bush while in Crawford, scattered about this blog post. There are a dozen other hosting events not depicted. That does not include hostong dignitaries that are not head of state, Like NATO commander General Jaap. Or dragging along his entire cabinet for a week or two at a time.

Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi
visiting Bush while he's on Vacation
Show me the photo of the President putting with President Putin, or chipping with Chancellor Merkel and maybe you can start to excuse the fact that Obama has not surrendered one of his golf outings while American Troops and even an American General are killed in the line of duty. Or in the wake of an American being beheaded circulating the news channels. When Bush was chastised for simularly playing golf as families of veterans came home in caskets, he (almost) stopped golfing, and was chastised heavily when he got caught getting one more game in.

United Kingdom PM Tony Blair
checking out Bush's Vacation digs
Were are the pictures of Obama hosting the Ukrainian President at his ranch, or his villa, or his house, or his apartment. Unlike Bush, Obama doesn't have a singular location in which he goes to so he can be more himself. He was raised in Hawaii, Indonesia, and Chicago, yet only seems to return to most of those places as little more then a tourist. The only property he owns as an established living quarters is his Chicago home that is a mess of barricades that would be about as easy to secure from a potential threat as a high school cheerleaders virtue at a frat party.

And speaking of parties, now that we've looked a little closer at what Bush did on Vacation, let's take a closer look at what Obama does 'on the clock'...

Obama, while not on Vacation
These appearances and fundraisers are what he considers to be part of his job. It's hard to justify their frequency with any other rationale. Take that the photo of him there with David Letterman occurred while Obama was in New York just before a UN general assembly where he met with exactly zero heads of states. But, of course, had time for another fundraiser with Jay-Z and Beyonce. Also, not considered a vacation.

Go ahead and say all that Bush did was go on vacation. Personally, I would look to a leader who got something done while on vacation over a leader who thinks it's his job to travel around and meet celebrates on the tax payers dime.

Friday, August 15, 2014

(Lack of) Leadership During a Crisis

During the 'Recovery Summer' of 2010, President Obama took his 6th vacation as President in less then 2 years.

Israeli Prime Minister requests an audience with President Obama amid escalation in the Middle East. Obama declines and instead goes on David Letterman.

He then passed on an opportunity to meet with world leaders to meet instead with the ladies of the View.

When our Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Ty Woods, and Glen Doherty were killed in a terrorist attack in Benghazi, the President took the following day to head to Las Vegas for a fundraiser.

As the border crisis broke out, the President headed west. Not to the border, but to a Colorado bar to play pool and drink with the Governor.

Russia invades the Ukraine while the President declares it happy hour.

When the bombs dropped in Iraq, the President headed off in Marine-One. Not to the Pentagon, but to the golf course for 18 holes of golf.

As Ferguson, MO struggled with another night of unrest, the President's press conference on the matter was delivered, not from the Rose Garden, but from a makeshift location near his exclusive Martha's Vineyard vacation home.
Crisis that face the American people don't have access to your day planner. His lack of experience managing, administrating, and leading is only all too highlighted when people look to the person they elected to give them direction, and a proverbial 'Gone Fishing' sign is in the place where we would expect to find a mature, tempered force that would reassure us.

Please, put down the beer and get off the golf course Mr. President. Are you that blind to how awful this looks? Is your golf game that important? We don't have the luxury of leaving for the weekend when our businesses are struggling. We don't have the luxury of ignoring the feelings of those that rely on us for leadership when we are needed most. 

It’s understandable that Obama would want to get away from it all, but for a president struggling to build support for his foreign policy, vacationing during a crisis is negligent and a display of disinterest.

Step up and lead, or step aside and let someone else. America deserves better. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The 5 Reasons I Won't Vote for Bruce Braley

Released in tandem with The 5 Reasons I Will Vote For Joni Ernst.

1. I have very little of an idea what he stands for.

I do a fair amount of Braley following, since he is my local representative in the IA-1 district. He supported the Amash amendment, good. He opposed taking military action against Syria, good (all though it would have been nice if we hadn't basically said we would and then didn't). In general, it's hard to be opposed to a person 100% of the time.

We currently have a that congress appears to be doing nothing but sitting on it's hands while the world is figuratively flying off the handle bars, so it would be nice to know what we would be sending someone to Washington for. And it's a little disheartening when you go to a candidates web site and the first thing you see is this;

The very first eye full when trying to learn more about a candidate is an essential message flyer about the other guy, errr.. gal. Read along on the home page for BruceBraley.com and you'll see several links to other articles, many of which are about... Joni Ernst. 

It's one thing to flaunt some dirty laundry about your opponent, but most of these attacks keep centering around Joni not supporting the minimum wage increase called for by the President. Something she is very forward and upfront about is her belief that things like setting a minimum wage is a state issue. A stance that is a wedge issue at best because it's probably a more popularly held stance then the Braley camp is giving it credit for. 

In the end, you have to watch a lot of Braley ads and read pretty far into his own online content before you start finding anything terribly substantive about what he would actually do while in Washington. This approach to politicking is a turn off.

2. Iowa Values vs. Iowa Values

As mentions, dirty laundry is expected in a political arena, but Braley's approach here appears to be the metaphorical sock-off challenge in which both candidates are to take off their shoes and compare the stench of their foot odor, and Bruce appears to have much smellier feet. 

This has more to do with his choice of a campaign strategy than the strength of his or her convictions His counter punch effort against Joni Ernst's Iowa Values mantra is his own Iowa Values message in the form of fliers that I have to pull out of my door in the morning. In effect he is claiming the same slogan, common as it is, that Joni has been touting since the near legendary castration commercial

Had Braley raced against a true unknown this approach could have worked. Had he not made a statement that could easily be construed as an insult to the intelligence of farmers, it may have worked. Had he not sued his neighbor over a couple of chickens, this might have worked. 

His character is taking a front and center position in this race, and for some reason he decided that stealing a line from his opponent that forces these issues was the best approach.

3. If you're going to insult someone, do it in your home state

A factor if the aforementioned insult to farmers that did not get a lot of playtime was the fact that the clip came from a campaign fundraising event... in Texas. At least if he had been talking to a group of lawyers and attorneys in Iowa he could have claimed that it was a concern of some of his constituents that he was addressing. As is, he continues to paint him self as an outsider.

4. Seriously, what would you do in Washington?

According to govtracks.us, which is the attendance sheet for members of Congress, Braley has missed almost twice as many votes as an average member of congress does (95.1% attendance compared to 97.5% congressional average), contrast that to Sen. Chuck Grassley who hasn't missed a vote in about 20 years serving in the Senate. Also, consider the latest attack ad from Concerned Veterans for America that (somewhat misleadingly) states that he missed 79% of the hearings concerning the VA in 2011 and 2012. In some instances he was needed elsewhere, but it brings into question his ability to prioritize his time.

In all fairness, Joni has come under some scrutiny for her unwillingness to prioritize senate obligations over campaign obligations since deciding to run for the U.S. Senate. However, prior to 2014, she voted in 98.3% of roll call votes compared to the Iowa Senate average of 97.5%

5. Braley is part of the problem.

As I opened with, there are a few things that I've agreed with Bruce on over the years. In the end, however, the singular item that I point to as a root of a lot of the problems that arise from a wealthy, developed, ahead of the pack country is central planning. At the root of Braley's positions in the belief that we can make day to day things better through the actions of people thousands of miles away and nearly completely disconnected from my
day to day life. Be it that these people believe that all 50 states should have the same minimum wage or should teach our kids the same way, there is no one size fits all approach in this country. And the greater and larger we grow the more and more true that is going to ring. If I can extract anything from Braley's campaign, it's that he believes the exact opposite.

The 5 Reasons I Will Vote for Joni Ernst

Not only are there several reasons that I'm opposed to Bruce Braley, turns out there are a few things I actually like about Joni Ernst.

Released in tandem with The 5 Reasons I Will Not Vote For Bruce Braley.

1. All the superficial things

If you want to refer to this is simply breaking the mold of the typical politician you have my blessing. Iowa has never elected a woman in a state wide election (save for Lt. Governor as part of a gubernatorial ticket) or as a member of the U.S. congress. There are also few woman in politics with military service experience. She's an Iowa State Alumni. She's young for a politician at the age of 44, and her first campaign ad garnered national attention because, frankly, it was hilarious.

2. She doesn't use hyperbole

That is to say that she states her position almost always with a preceding "I think that..." or "I believe in...". I've listened to several of her stumps and read many of her articles. She never talks about the things being so desperate that it's a matter of life and death. Never implying that the other guy will destroy your way of life or stating that their plan would be a disaster. Agree with her or disagree with her, she's quite cordial.

3. What it means to be a career Nation Guard Officer

When looking over the resume of Joni Ernst, it's obvious she puts a lot of emphasis on her 20+ years working in the Army Reserve and the Iowa National Guard, but what does a career in the Iowa National Guard look like? Frequently, it's a call to service in the time of a disaster. When people are in truly dire need and organization and prioritization are essential to the success and failure of a mission. The Iowa National Guard has an impeccable reputation of being one of the first respondents in an emergency. Joni, being a Lt. Colonial, undeniably has seen and accomplished much in these pressure situations that would be a great resource for what the real 'boots on the ground' response team would need in the event of a crisis. Think of Katrina or Irene and the lack of capacity for a proper response from Washington. It would be nice to have a member of congress be able to say "When I was called to respond to a flood/tornado/disaster, the big thing I needed from the government was <blank>. Most members of congress are veterans long removed from service while Joni was in uniform serving just last month.

4. Keeping things positive

Well before Joni was tapped as the Republican nominee, attack ads had already started rolling against Bruce Braley. And, not so different from ads now being ran against Joni from out of state PAC's, there are still ads being ran against Braley. These are, for the time being, not originating from the Ernst campaign.

The difference starts when you see the Braley camp start their own set of ads against Ernst, Joni has not followed suit (again, yet). Joni is attempting to take a path not followed often during a close race, the stay positive and on message road. Touting her military career and life in Iowa above all else.

5. The fundamental belief of the role of Government

In much the same way that I and Bruce Braley have a fundamental difference of opinion on the role of government, I feel that Joni Ernst and I share the same core belief that the government, especially the federal government, is not a catch all tool and solution that is to be used often and applied to every situation like duct tape or WD-40, but rather a specialty tool for particular situations that gets thrown back in the drawer when you are done with it.

To take this line of thought a few more steps, people have started to take their belief in central planning to the point of redundancy. Take a popular topic in the ads being played out in commercials where Joni talks about getting rid of the Department of Education. If someone automatically assumes that someone is against education as a result of the department's closure, it reveals their way of thinking about such things as highly central planning, well...., centric.

Why are we spending billions in administrative costs to administer programs that exist at the state level. Just give the money to the state equivalents and trust them to use it wisely. For example, Iowa has a low income grant program that requires the exact same paperwork as the federal grant program to be filled out and submitted. In other words, a prospective student has to submit the same application to two different entities to get grant money for the same, singular, thing. Pell grants would not go away, it would simply reduce the multi-billion dollar bureaucracy that administers it.

I hope as this campaign develops and becomes more substantive that I can continue feeling that Joni is a good candidate rather then simple Bruce is a bad one. Perhaps this relative unknown is still just so shiny and new that I'm blinded until it is revealed that she eats babies or prefers Coke over Pepsi or some other game changer like that. Until such a time, I am a Joni Ernst supporter, and I approve this message.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The New Way A Bill Becomes A Law

Gone are the days of a Bill simply standing there on Capitol Hill. Please use the following chart as a reference on how law is made now. Thank you.

Monday, July 28, 2014

MLB 2014 Predictions

As we eclipse the 100 game mark of the 2014 season, I would be remiss if I didn't put it down in digital stone my predictions for the end of the year awards and playoff picks.

World Series Winner - Los Angelos Dodgers, I think that certain chutz'pah is finally present in the largest salary team.

AL West Division Champ - Oakland A's, Also my pick to make the World Series from the AL side
AL Central Division Champ - Detroit Tigers, Not enough talent in the AL Central for anyone to catch them.
AL East Division Champ - New York Yankees, They will find a way to bring in some starting pitching try to make something special happen for Jeter.
AL Wild Cards - Angels and Mariners, Lot of West Coast Love this season!

NL West Division Champ - Los Angelos Dodgers, Sorry San Fran...
NL Central Division Champ - St. Louis Cardinals, Pitching has kept them close, either Molina's return or a a Craig/Holiday burst of offense will sneak them into the playoffs.
NL East Division Champ - Washington Nationals, in a year of tight NL races, NL east will probably go down to the last week of the season.
NL Wild Cards - Braves and Brewers, Braves win the game by about 8 runs.

---Silver Sluggers---

1B NL - Anthony Rizzo (Cubs), Only if he clears 40 HR's, Otherwise Goldschmidt, but not having the league HR leader win a Slugger award is criminal.
1B AL - Jose Abreau (White Sox)
2B NL - Neil Walker (Pirates)
2B AL - Jose Altuve (Astros), Sorry Cano, but if a small ball player is going to win it this year, Jose has you beat hands down.
SS NL - Troy Tuliwitzki (Rockies)
SS AL - Alexia Ramirez (White Sox)
3B NL - Todd Fraizer (Reds)
3B AL - Josh Donaldson (A's), I'd feel better about this pick if his AVG rose about 20 points
C NL - Buster Posey (Giants), I think Buster has a few more hot streaks in him this season then Lucroy
C AL - Yan Gomes (Indians)
OF NL - Giancarlo Stanton (Marlins), Andrew McCuthen (Pirates), Yasiel Puig (Dodgers)
OF AL - Mike Trout (Angels), Jose Bautista (Jays), Nelson Cruz (Orioles)
P NL - Madison Bumgarner (Giants)
DH AL - Victor Martinez (Tigers)

---Gold Gloves---

1B NL - Adrian Gonzales (Dodgers)
1B AL - Chris Davis (Orioles)
2B NL - Brandon Phillips (Reds)
2B AL - Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox)
SS NL - Troy Tuliwitzki (Rockies)
SS AL - Erick Aybar (Angels)
3B NL - Pablo Sandaval (Giants)
3B AL - Kyle Seager (Mariners)
C NL - Yadier Molina (Cardinals) He waited to qualify before getting hurt, and his numbers are still phenomenal
C AL - Brian McCann (Yankees)
OF NL - Jason Heyward (Braves), Christian Yelich (Marlins), Denard Span (Nationals)
OF AL - Nick Markakis (Orioles), Jackie Bradley Jr. (Red Sox), Yoenis Cespedes (A's)
P NL - Henerson Alveraz (Marlins)
P AL - Dallas Keuchel (Astros)


American League - Felix Hernandez (Mariners), Tanaka was looking really good before his elbow whoas, but the King has been lights out all year.
National League - Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers), Wainwright lost a lot of votes after piping pitches to Jeter.

---Most Valuable Player---

National League - Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies) Hat trick for individual awards
American League - Mike Trout (Angels) There is a lot of love for this guy among sports writers, and his numbers make a vote for Mike very palpable.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Cost of An Egg

I've read plenty of articles that deal with the price of food and how it relates to items like inflation, money printing, the economy, regional disasters, and free trade. I'd never really seen it used in the manner of a recent social media ad campaign posted on the Presidents feed as it was earlier this week.

23%! I know right?!? That's a pretty startling increase in a fairly short amount of time for something that seems as abundant as eggs. I was actually expecting that the correlation between the price of eggs had more to do with gas prices and other factors that seem to be holding back the economy that just don't seem to grab the headlines the way that they did ten years ago when we began this era of economic stagnation. Being fairly confident in my assertion, I began my research in the hopes of coming up with some snarky response to the 'real' reason that eggs were climbing in cost as such an aggressive click.

I was very shocked by what I found.

After looking up some historical egg prices from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics and comparing it to some historic gas prices the only real correlation I was finding was that both prices were quite volatile. Sure, there are some gas price spikes in the 2005 to 2007 range that correlate with some spikes in egg prices, but gas prices, although high, have actually stabilized over the past few years. That's when I realized something else, the year 2009 was chosen very carefully for this ad. Just using the BLS numbers, the average price so far in 2014 compared to 2009 is right around 23% (21.4% by my math, but I usually assume the people who make these ads have access to a little more precise data or compound it at a slightly finer interval).

2009 was chosen because it came at the heals of the great recession. Gas plummeted in in price which coincided nicely with an over 16% reduction in the cost of eggs from 2008 to 2009. That is to say, if this ad chose the price increase from 2008 to 2014, the number would have been... wait for it... 1.77% increase.

Doesn't quite fire up the crowds the same way, huh?

but that's not all, I contrasted the data against another set of data provided by the Department of Labor. Obama wants us to believe there is some correlation between the cost of eggs and the wage that people are paid, and he is absolutely right!

Excusing 2009 as a major economic outlier for a moment (as it is for just about economic trend comparative), and selecting the change in price for the years of 1996, 1997, 2007, and 2008. Why these years you ask? These are the years were there was an increase in the minimum wage. over the past 20 years. What was the average increase in a carton of eggs for these years? 9.19%!! About the same as the raises minimum wage workers got during those years.

In the same 20 year span from 1994 through 2013 were we didn't have an increase in the minimum wage (again, omitting 2009), we had mostly positive economic growth years and a stable or downward trending unemployment rate. The average increase per year  for eggs during this time was a whopping 2.72%, just a little ahead of inflation for the time of 2.42%. This also includes some well above average increases in the last couple years. (Take out the Obama years, and the rate increase is closer to 2.41%, almost perfect with inflation)

Over 9% compared to less the 3%. Eggs go up in price over 3 times faster when the minimum wage goes up!

So, when it comes to eggs and raising the minimum wage, the last couple of decades tells us that the raise they get doesn't even cover the increase cost of a dozen eggs.

I'm not trying to say the increase in food prices isn't alarming, there are many issues out there causing these food increases that need to be addressed such as a bird flu outbreak in Mexico and new state regulations in California that have had an impact nation wide. Yet, once again, this administration is presenting very misleading facts to try and push an agenda on us while ignoring actual factors that are causing the problem. Call it breaking the yolk in order to fry an egg, it makes no sense. The numbers are pretty clear, an increase in the minimum wage would make the problem he is addressing worse, not better.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Top 5 Things That Happened While I was Away

For those of you who don't follow my Facebook page, or more specifically, my wife's Facebook page. Then you may have been wondering what I've been up to the last few weeks. I haven't been posting or doing much trolling about on Google+, not because of any lack of abhorrent activity coming out of Washington, but because I've basically been on vacation! From Alabama to Chicago to Augusta to Atlanta with just enough time in between to rest and not fall too far behind at the office.

Now It's back into the grind, a little bit more rejuvenated and with a new sense of optimism that I look forward to being squashed and squandered as I allow myself to be re-ingested into the org that is today's media and political landscape. As an effort to move that process along, here are the top 5 things that it would appear I missed while I was unplugged from society and a knee jerk reaction to the story without knowing any of the details.

5. Plane gets shot down in a war zone: That sucks, if only there where some way that the plane could have known that it was flying through a freaking war zone!

4. Ted Cruise Fundraiser turns into bloodbath: I actually caught some footage of this one last Sunday evening on HBO. Turns out that profane, blood sucking elitist don't like Ted Cruz, vampires don't like him either.

3. Gubernatorial Candidate Hatch got mentioned in the news: Granted, it was basically to make fun of the paltry amount of money he's raised in comparison the 5 term incumbent Governor Terry Branstad, but any press is good press, right?

2. Obama went golfing: Remember when we had a President who was sensitive enough to realize how infuriating it was to people for a President to go Golfing while Americans were at war?

1. Turns out, the Economy is doing Great!: I know, I was surprised when the Rev. Al Sharpton announced it too. Apparently a smaller work force, a drop in GDP, huge increases in food stamps enrollments and huge drops in personal wealth are all offset by a huge growth of wealth on... Wall Street. So the new Democratic economic plan is clear, just keep up the flow of cash into big corporations and everyone wins!

Sometimes I hate this obsessive need to pay attention to things...

Monday, June 30, 2014

The /Redacted/ Case for Killing Americans

Was it really congress that murdered a US Citizen abroad?

That's the administration's argument, which makes sense because the supporting evidence appears to be off limits to the public.

I've been out of town on business, but I did catch a whiff of news last Monday, the White House finally released a memo used to justify drone attacks on U.S. citizens, and even though it appears to be rooted in what many are calling sound legal precedence. To me, it confirms some of the worst suspicions I've held about this administration and this country that is getting harder and harder to recognize.

The Obama administration had sought to keep the memo secret, and now we know why: The memo revealed that there are literally no checks and balances; there are no classified courts, no appeal process, no opportunity for a defendant to meet their accuser, and several other blatant violations of a citizens rights. Indeed, the memo reveals that the President of the United States can, and has, ordered the targeting killing of U.S. citizens overseas in violation of their constitutional right to due process.

The 41-page Department of Justice memorandum outlining the administration’s attempt to justify the killing of U.S. citizens accused of plotting acts of terrorism abroad was released under order of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York. The court did so in response to a Freedom Of Information Act request submitted by both the American Civil Liberties Union and The New York Times.

The memo, entitled “Re: The Applicability of Federal Criminal Laws and the Constitution to Contemplated Lethal Operations against Shaykh Anwar al-Aulaqi,” was written by the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice and was addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder. The Office of Legal Counsel was asked to weigh in on the matter after the Obama administration decided that it might choose to pursue a lethal operation against a U.S. citizen living in Yemen who the administration accused of conspiring to commit acts of terrorism.

A good chunk of the memo is devoted to 18 U.S. Code § 1119. The statute says that if an American kills another American overseas, that's considered murder under US law. Anyone who does it can be tried in the same way as an American who murders someone inside US borders.

To justify the Awlaki killing, The administration relies heavily on the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), the law that Congress passed to permit striking al-Qaeda post-September 11th, and which was used to justify the US-led investigation of Afghanistan.

Awlaki, according to the memo, was a leader in al-Qaeda's Yemen-based branch, which is known as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The intelligence supporting this claim is redacted from the memo and the entire memo ignores the issue of introducing this evidence in a courtroom (even if it was a secret one such as the FISA courts). The memo claims that, because Congress authorized using "necessary and appropriate force" against al-Qaeda, the AUMF would thus give the US legal cover to target Awlaki.

The memo also redacts any evidence about the U.S.'s ability to capture and detain Awlaki instead of killing him.

The logic we are supposed to be seeing here is like a police man breaking the speed limit to catch a bad guy. Only in this case the speeding is likened to killing an American citizen and the bad guy posed an imminent threat to the United States. The evidence of this threat... is also redacted.

There is one final point to this memo. The AUMF was intended, as the 'M' would indicate, as a military declaration. Yet, it was the CIA that carried out the use of force. The memo addresses this also by establishing the legal basis of how the CIA can operate unter a military docutrine.

This too, was redacted.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Lessons of Walmart

It's a purely political argument that seems to flare up every 5 or 6 years. How do we help the working poor? The plan the President has put forward as a talking point during the midterm election cycle is the idea that if we raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, everyone will benefit, yet people on the right tend to disagree.

The statistics can be skewed to show pretty much any outcome that you want. Does it increase the standard of living? Does it increase unemployment? Does it increase the cost of goods and services? In the end, does it help or hurt the economy? 

Well, right now the economy sucks, we are growing at paltry rates, household income is dwindling, and unemployment is at generally unacceptable rates. It's been six years since a minimum wage hike so let's just say that the economy sucks because the economy sucks and that the only way to fix it is to start forcing businesses to pay their employees more.

Yeah, I didn't think that you would stop reading with that point. The point I do want to make is this, there is a place in America where the economy is booming, and they don;t care about the national debate on the minimum wage. You know why? Because you could raise it to $10.10 per hour and it wouldn;t change a thing. You could change it to $11, $12, $13, heck, even Seattle's new $15 per hour wouldn't change a lot in one part of the country.

I'm talking about the boonies of North Dakota. We're an energy boom has caused the modest-sized town of Williston to rise above the fray of this issue that is marched out  a Wal-Mart in Williston, North Dakota is offering starting salaries of $17.40 per hour.

The reason that this particular Wal-Mart is offering $17.40 an hour has nothing to do with unions, social justice, compassion, or any other such thing.

Instead, it’s simple supply and demand.

In particular, the article says that fracking has made it possible to access oil which had previously been unobtainable. This has driven the unemployment rate to less than 1% in the city where this Wal-Mart is located. With that much money flowing through the local economy at such a high rate

This is the anecdotal situation that allows someone to want to see people make more money without the burden being pushed on to every business in America. There is no political courage in demanding a higher minimum wage be paid to someone else by someone else. The goal should be an economy where there should be no need for a minimum wage. At a time when real wage growth has been behind the growth of CPI and inflation for several years running. Demanding a minimum wage increase now is like hiring a maid service for your house when you know there is a dead skunk under the deck, you are not addressing the main problem.

We need to address the economy. The approach set forth by Obama back in 2009 and 2010 was not a solution. It was to subsidize the shortfall of a down economy for a short while in the hope that the economy would correct itself. Well, that didn't pan out.... at all....

Now the plan being put forth isn't much better, short term projects trying to kick start long term employment. Again, he just doesn't seem to understand that with new EPA regulations, Healthcare regulations and taxes, and an administration that attempts to take away almost every and any tax for businesses under the guise of 'paying their fair share'. There is nothing about this current economic environment that says 'Hire me!' Especially when you don't even know how much that new hire is going to cost you between the debate of what the minimum wage and if there will be another delay in the Obamacare mandate.

Stop passing laws that only have one or two years of effect. Stop adjusting due dates for mandates. Stop threatening any and every tax credit under the sun year after year. At this point, I think that the best thing we could do for the economy is somehow just freeze everything for 10 or more years. It's wishful thinking at this point as I've never heard of a President trying to change so many things as far as regulation and tax code in such rapid succession.

Take a hint from North Dakota and the town of Williston. Look for ways to get out of the way of capitalism and production. Creating mandates doesn't increase production. Raising taxes doesn't make more money. And trying to solve a wage problem through wage laws makes as much sense as losing weight by demanding diet food at McDonalds.