Saturday, May 29, 2010

Singling Out Israel

Two paragraphs that tell the tale.

From: Israel rejects call to join anti-nuclear treaty

Early in the article:

All 189 parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, including the United States, called on Friday in a declaration that singled out Israel for a conference in 2012 to discuss banning weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

Later in the article, the following is admitted:

Iran was not mentioned in the NPT declaration.


Would a Republican Adminstration have participated in this farce? Something to think about when you vote.

Piracy On Falcon Lake - And Soon Off Of Our Gulf and Pacific Coasts

Pirates and American Victims (Someplace much closer than South East Asia or East Africa.)

See: Pirates threaten boats on US-Mexico border lake

ZAPATA, Texas (AP) - The waters of Falcon Lake normally beckon boaters with waterskiing and world-record bass fishing. But this holiday weekend, fishermen on the waters that straddle the U.S.-Mexico border are on the lookout for something more sinister: pirates.

Twice in recent weeks, fishermen have been robbed at gunpoint by marauders that the local sheriff says are "spillover" from fighting between rival Mexican drug gangs.

Boaters are concerned about their safety, and the president of the local Chamber of Commerce is trying to assure people that everything's fine on the U.S. side of the lake.

At the fishing camp his family has owned for 50 years, Jack Cox now sleeps with a loaded shotgun at his feet and a handgun within reach.

How long before this stuff hits our Pacific and Gulf Coast waters?

What would stop them?

Why should they expect any kind of action other than the inaction that they have already come to expect from us at our borders?

Mexico is in bad shape.

It's leaders snivel about US gun laws while Mexican Narco-Cartels have effectively taken control of large swaths of their county. They have let the drug-lords run free for so long that they now threaten to topple the Mexican government.

It is Columbia all over again. And it is just next door.

Illegal immigrants continue to flow across our porous border. Our cowardly government talks about sending troops to the border and then loudly proclaims that the troops are not going to do anything about the human waves of illegals crossing in from Mexico.

What a fucking farce.

Now we have a pirate problem to add to this mess.

Just a few fishing boats for now. But they will see that NOTHING will be done about it. It will look to the criminal element south of the border like a “Money for Nothing” scheme. They will say to themselves “The gringos won't do anything. They haven't the cajones.” Have they seen anything from us that would make them think differently?

Piracy on our near oceans will come of this if our nation continues to play weak.

The borders must be made secure. (Build the fucking wall already!)

The pirates must be killed.

Pirates must be hunted down, captured and killed. The killing of the pirates part is important. For pirates, this is something that must be done, especially on the salt waters, whether here off our southern coasts or across the world off of East Africa or South East Asia.

You have to kill pirates.

You have to protect your nation's borders.

Nations that don't do these things risk becoming someone else's country.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Public Employees Unions & Bankrupt Governments

We may soon see a wave of city and county governments file for bankruptcy in the near future. Bankruptcy gives the local municipal governments the means to deal with a significant source of their problems with their budgets.

See: Bankruptcy talk spreads among Calif. muni officials

Despite its stigma, bankruptcy has paid an important dividend for Vallejo: It has forced public employee unions to the negotiating table, providing city leaders an opportunity to rein in compensation, which city officials said accounts for more than three-quarters of Vallejo's general fund spending. City Councilwoman Stephanie Gomes said the effort has led to concessions from three of four city unions.

Like Vallejo, Los Angeles is suffering from weak revenue at the same time the cost of its pensions and other retirement benefits are rising. Former Mayor Richard Riordan said those factors put the government of the second largest U.S. city on track to declare bankruptcy between now and 2014.

Riordan sees bankruptcy as a necessary tactic for squeezing concessions from the city's public employee unions. It could also pave the way for 401(k) retirement accounts for new city workers instead of defined pension benefit plans with escalating costs, he said.

"The threat of bankruptcy is really the only way you're going to get them to make major changes," Riordan recently told Reuters.

The public employee's unions are the most powerful lobbies in existence. They own most (particularly the blue) local governments, lock, stock and barrel. They are an organized block of votes and campaign contributions that dominate local elections. They get their people out to vote. They control huge heaping gobs of money that get donated to (almost exclusively Democrat) campaigns. They are the deciding factor in blue districts. They own them.

The end result? The municipalities that have been generous with the compensation packages that they have given to their public employees unions are now broke. There is little or nothing left in the private sector to loot. Their economies are in the toilet, the rich are fleeing the state, and the low end private work force that remains earns next to nothing and pays next to nothing in taxes.

In such circumstances, filing bankruptcy can look like a good idea.

Too bad it won't work.

Dealing the unions a setback only leaves them in place to again manipulate elections so that they can again vote themselves ever larger portions of the public purse. So long as Public Employee Unions are able to influence local politicians, they will own those politicians. Nothing will really ever change.


See Also: Soak the Rich, Lose the Rich

We believe there are three unintended consequences from states raising tax rates on the rich. First, some rich residents sell their homes and leave the state; second, those who stay in the state report less taxable income on their tax returns; and third, some rich people choose not to locate in a high-tax state. Since many rich people also tend to be successful business owners, jobs leave with them or they never arrive in the first place. This is why high income-tax states have such a tough time creating net new jobs for low-income residents and college graduates.

See Also: Best and Worst States for Business 2010

How is it that the nation’s most populous state at 37 million, one that is the world’s eighth-largest economy and the country’s richest and most diverse agricultural producer, a state that had the fastest growth rate in the 1950s and 1960s during the tenures of Democratic Governor Pat Brown and Republican Governors Earl Warren and Ronald Reagan, should become the Venezuela of North America?

Californians pay among the highest income and sales taxes in the nation, the former exceeding 10 percent in the top brackets. Unemployment statewide is over 12.2 percent, higher than the national average. State politics seems consumed with how to divide a shrinking pie rather than how to expand it. Against national trend, union density is climbing from 16.1 percent of workers in 1998 to 17.8 percent in 2002. Organized labor has more political influence in California than in most other states. In addition, unfunded pension and health care liabilities for state workers top $500 billion and the annual pension contribution has climbed from $320 million to $7.3 billion in less than a decade. When state employees reach critical mass, they tend to become a permanent lobby for continual growth in government.

Are we having fun yet?

Hillery Clinton Talks About Brazil As A Taxation Model

See: Clinton: 'The rich are not paying their fair share'

"Brazil has the highest tax-to-GDP rate in the Western Hemisphere and guess what — they're growing like crazy," Clinton said. "And the rich are getting richer, but they're pulling people out of poverty."

Both Clinton and Obama campaigned for president on promises to allow the Bush tax cuts for wealthy Americans expire this year, a plan that is now part of Obama's budget. The move will effectively raise taxes sharply on people earning more than $250,000.

Hillery is clearly suggesting that Brazil's high tax rate is the reason that its economy is growing.

Brazil may have a high tax rate, but it also largely avoided the banking disaster that has put many other western nations on the brink of bankruptcy.

See: Lessons from Brazil: Why Is It Bouncing Back While Other Markets Stumble?

But all of Brazil's banks can be thankful that, to a large extent, they haven't had to deal with the toxic assets that crippled banks in developed countries. Unlike their counterparts elsewhere, Brazilian banks were not as exposed to the property sector and credit derivatives, and financial soundness indicators were robust coming into the crisis, according to Fabio Barbosa, head of Banco Santander Brasil and the Brazilian Federation of Banking Associations (Febraban). He cites the high capitalization requirement as a key reason for the sector's resilience -- the minimum capital adequacy requirement in Brazil is 11%, compared with 8% under the Basel regulations that other banks around the world follow. In December 2008, the average ratio for the sector in Brazil was 20%, and for the country's five largest banks (accounting for 67% of total assets) the ratio was 18.5%. He adds that Brazil also didn't have a shadow financial system, like in the U.S., thanks to tight regulatory and supervisory oversight. All financial institutions (including investment banks) are under the watch of the Central Bank.

One of Brazil's biggest advantages is that it did not have a Barney Frank or a Chris Dodd plundering it's banking system to redistribute wealth.

Comparatively, with the rest of the western world seeing their future play out for them in the street riots of Greece, Brazil is doing pretty good. It could do even better.

High tax rates reduce the private sectors ability to raise money for new projects, new ideas, new services, and new businesses. If Brazil were to reduce its tax rake to a lower level, productivity in their private sector would likely increase, which ironically enough, would also increase the amount of tax revenue that the government would be able to take in. Increasing the opportunity for the private sector to make money also increases the potential amount of taxable revenue that can be collected.

Conversely, if Brazil were to increase its tax rake even more than it is at present, it could expect to see an eventual decline in private sector productivity. Lower profits would reduce the amount of taxable revenue that the government could then skim out the publics pockets.

There is a point at which the tax rates can be raised high enough that the result would be reduced tax revenue to the Government. Right now, Brazil is in a boom period. They are making money. The high tax rate is not the reason that they are making money. It is just a factor that businesses in Brazil have to deal with, a hindrance that they have to overcome, a red-line that they have to pay for in their books.

In time, as their economy matures, that high tax rate of theirs will become more of a problem. Their politicians will either have the wit and the will to lower their tax rates which will increase profits and tax collections, or they will squeeze the public even harder with even higher taxes, which will reduce profits and reduce tax collections.

But to think that Brazil has somehow managed to tax itself into prosperity . . . is nuts.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

"We Erect Courthouses For A Reason"

See: Wash. court: Jail trial unfair to murder defendant

James Frank Jaime was convicted of killing a man during a drug deal in 2005. The judge agreed with prosecutors who for security reasons wanted to hold his trial in a courtroom at the jail, rather than in the courthouse across the street.

In an opinion by Justice Debra Stephens, the high court ruled 6-3 Thursday that the setting was prejudicial, akin to letting jurors see the defendant in shackles, and that the judge did not analyze whether the security concerns were justified.

"We erect courthouses for a reason," Stephens wrote. "They are a stage for public discourse, a neutral forum for the resolution of civil and criminal matters. ... The use of a space other than a courthouse for a criminal trial, particularly when that space is a jailhouse, takes a step away from those dignities."

And a few paragraphs later:

That prompted a separate writing from Alexander, who noted that in many counties, the jails have been located on the top floor of the courthouse. Anyone entering the building gets the sense of being in a courthouse, not a jail, he said. That's not the case in the Yakima jail.

"There is a significant difference between a jail in a courthouse and a courtroom in a jailhouse," Alexander wrote.

[Emphasis is mine.]

I realize that many people would look at the defendent in the above mentioned instance and say "Just hang the bastard!" He may well deserve to hang. Had the trial and conviction taken place accross the street, we would likely never have heard of him or even give much of a damn about him and his trial. Setting his trial in the jail house was a mistake.

Jail implies guilt.

Inteligent people, some would argue, can look past the setting of the trial in and prevent themselves from allowing the location of the trial to bias their view of the defendant. This is a bad argument on several counts, two of them notable.

Firstly, intelligence does not prevent someone from being influenced by the settings and surroundings that they find themselves in. We are all human beings, influenced emotionally as well as intellectually by the events and circumstances that we find ourselves in. We are not Vulcans, emotionally detached or dead. Settings will affect how we "feel" about something, no matter how much we "think" about it.

Secondly, juries are comprised of our "peers." That is not "peers" as in people of the same intellectual caliber or social strata, but "peers" as in people picked almost completely at random from the community that they court serves. The odds of them all being "intelligent" enough to be able to ignore the setting that the trial is staged in is . . . well, its ridiculous. Only the delusional or those that have never actually met or dealt with the public could think that a Jury would always or even often be comprised of only "intelligent" jurors.

The stage and the setting that a trial takes place in needs to command the respect of the defendants, the juries and the public at large. It must also be neutral. The defendant deserves to have a fair trial. The public needs the trials to be fair so that it can be certain that the convictions and the acquittals that result are sound and proper, even if they may not be the emotionally desired outcome.

In this case, holding the trial for this defendant in the jail was a mistake.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Federal Courthouses Should Command Respect.

Our Federal government has spent itself into a huge gaping hole.

There will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth as scape-goats are sought to be slaughtered as offerings on the alter of public opinion.

We can see an example of this happening now with a new report that has come out that complains about the costs of building Federal Courthouses.

See: Building oversize federal courts wastes millions

Federal courthouses built larger than necessary have cost taxpayers $835 million in wasted construction funds since 2000 while the extra space requires $51 million annually to maintain, the Government Accountability Office told a congressional committee on Tuesday.

The GAO found that the 33 courthouses or courthouse annexes completed in the past decade contain 3.56 million square feet of unnecessary space, said Mark L. Goldstein, the GAO's director of physical infrastructure issues.

Larger than necessary? That is the value judgment of someone that does not understand the role of the courthouse in making the law worthy of respect.

Should a Federal Courthouse be a grand and impressive structure? Or should it be a cheap and unremarkable building?

This is not a trivial mater.

Some may argue that over-sized and overbuilt courthouses are a waste of money. They make a serious if not a fatal mistake when the think this.

The over-sized courthouse, with its high ceilings, stone walls and polished marble floors set the stage for the ritual, the ceremony, the drama and the consequence of the law. People's lives and property are at stake in these buildings. In such halls, people's fortunes are saved or destroyed. Even their very lives can be at stake, balanced on the fulcrum of evidence and the rod of the law, with their freedom or death to be decided by judge and jury.

There is a certain stage-craft to the law. It must command respect. Its edifices and facilities should and really must convey to those that are made to stand before it in judgment and appeal, the full majesty of the law as well as the might and authority of the state.

There is ritual and ceremony in the adjudication of the law. There is also the stage that the ceremony and the ritual is set. The ceremony, the ritual and the stage make the legal process stand apart and separate from the everyday events of working, shopping or playing that we all engage in our daily lives. The seriousness of the ritual, the ceremony and the stage that the law is dispensed in can help make it respectable, or help make it a farce.

Think about what a different perception we would have of the law if it was dispensed from triple-wide mobile-home type structures. Can you picture it? Imagine the nine justices of the Supreme Court trying to be taken seriously in a low ceilinged room with plastic coated fake wood paneling.

The law must be respected. Having it dispensed from buildings that scream “cheap” and “disposable” does not make the government that it represents worthy of respect.

Our government is not going broke because it is building grand courthouses. It is going broke because it has turned away from being a protector of rights to a dispenser of welfare benefits. The welfare state is bleeding us dry, not over-sized courthouses.

This may seem like a small thing to some people, but it is not a small thing.

Again, think about how much respect you would have for a court system that was run from disposable buildings. How can you take the legal system of a government seriously that thought its laws should be adjudicated in courthouses that were no more impressive or respectable than trailers in a mobile-home park?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Raise Taxes Or Cut Spending – Two World-views

Democrats in California have put together a plan to tax California out of their spending problems. They can't afford what they have promised, so they will take more from the productive to finance their shortfall.

See: California Democrats unveil tax-increase package

The plan by state Senate Democrats would raise $4.9 billion by raising California's vehicle registration fee, suspending corporate tax breaks scheduled to begin next year and boosting the state's tax on alcoholic beverages.

Democrats control both chambers of the state's legislature and have said they would seek new revenue to help plug the shortfall.

Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, by contrast, has ruled out tax increases and is relying largely on deep spending cuts in his plan for balancing the state's books. He has called for $12.4 billion of cuts and would scrap the state's welfare system, a plan Democrats have rejected.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's approach would be to cut spending as the best means to solve the state's spending problem. Arnold may not be the best representative of Republican philosophy, but in this example, he does so well.

For Democrats, raising taxes to solve an over-spending problem is the right thing to do because of the good intentions that drive their want to spend. They really do believe that raising taxes on the productive is a good way to support the poor and the disadvantaged that they want to help.

For Republicans, raising taxes to solve a spending problem is a little bit to much like shooting up with heroin in order to solve a drug problem. Its nuts. It only makes things worse. Reducing the incentive for the productive to produce will not only reduce how many people that the productive can employee, but it will also reduce the amount of profit that they will have that can be taxed. Everybody loses.

The road to hell is paved with . . .

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bitter Resentments And The Death Of The Euro.

All the happy talk in the world from bloviating socialist economist can not stem the tide that is turning against the Euro.

In Germany, the Euro is becoming the butt of bad jokes that are funny only because of the truth that they tell.

See: Berliners dream of return to deutschmark

Cabaret artists have been making jokes about wheelbarrows of notes, or telling the one about the German and the Greek who go out to eat, the German choosing the cheapest item on the menu, the Greek gorging on a range of dishes, before the waiter brings the German the bill at the end. The audience doubles over. But the reality is stomach-churning.

"We are building up an almighty bubble of debt which is going to burst in one great bang," says Hans-Werner Sinn, chief of Ifo, one of the country's leading economic thinktanks.

That means a bitter round of budget cuts, deeper than any seen since 1945. Every area of German life is expected to take a hit, from education to welfare benefits, swimming pools to autobahns. Far-fetched as talk of the return of the mark seems, the more it is talked about, the more it is likely to become popular, despite Merkel's insistence that if the euro fails, so will Europe.

Without Germany, the Euro is nothing. The Germans know it. All of Europe knows it. The resentment in Germany is real. Resentment like this will kill the Euro.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Europe – Retiring On Empty?

See: Crisis Imperils Liberal Benefits Long Expected by Europeans

In Rome, Aldo Cimaglia is 52 and teaches photography, and he is deeply pessimistic about his pension. “It’s going to go belly-up because no one will be around to fill the pension coffers,” he said. “It’s not just me; this country has no future.”

Changes have now become urgent. Europe’s population is aging quickly as birthrates decline. Unemployment has risen as traditional industries have shifted to Asia. And the region lacks competitiveness in world markets.

According to the European Commission, by 2050 the percentage of Europeans older than 65 will nearly double. In the 1950s there were seven workers for every retiree in advanced economies. By 2050, the ratio in the European Union will drop to 1.3 to 1.

1.3 workers to every 1 retiree. That is not workable. The poor workers paying into the system will have to be taxed at over half their gross just to keep the system going. They won't do it. They will quit. Quiting will easily look like the best option. “Better,” the workers will rationalize, “to go on the dole then have to be the sucker that pays for it.

European politicians knew that this day was coming. They knew that their welfare state was based on Ponzi scheme economics. It was the reason that they opened their borders to immigrants from Muslim nations. They had hoped that these new immigrants would help them maintain a high worker to retiree ratio. They had also hoped that the new immigrants would feel invested in the success of Europe and in the welfare of those that they would be supporting in retirement. (Can we say - Epic Fail!)

What then for Europe?

Can they find a way out of this catastrophe?

It may be too late for them.

But what about for us?

Is our social welfare system really that much better off than the European's? Or are we seeing in Europe, a harbinger of our own doom?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Next Big Bailouts - State Pension Plans

Hold on to your wallets.

See: Will State Pension Funds Need a $1 Trillion Bailout?

The federal government could face another economic disaster and massive bailouts within a decade if it doesn't force state pension funds to revamp their operations soon, an economist says.

Even if they meet "aggressive" 8 percent growth targets, several states will see the reserves in their pension funds dry up by the end of 2020, with many more running out of cash within another decade, says Joshua Rauh, an economist at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. Broke states are likely to go begging to the federal government, which would probably have to bail them out to the tune of more than $1 trillion, he argues in a new paper.

It is important to keep in mind how big of a deal this is. The beneficiaries of these state pension funds are very powerful politically. These are government employees. They own the government. It is their play-toy. (Government employees are the most powerful lobby in any government.)

You will be told to just shut up and pay.

More debt. More taxes. Are we having fun yet?

See also: State Pensions Face $1 Trillion Shortfall

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Is The Medicare System Beginning To Implode? How Will Politicians Respond?

How will politicians respond if the Doctors refuse to participate in the Government medical care schemes?

See: Texas doctors opting out of Medicare at alarming rate

Texas doctors are opting out of Medicare at alarming rates, frustrated by reimbursement cuts they say make participation in government-funded care of seniors unaffordable.

Two years after a survey found nearly half of Texas doctors weren't taking some new Medicare patients, new data shows 100 to 200 a year are now ending all involvement with the program. Before 2007, the number of doctors opting out averaged less than a handful a year.

“This new data shows the Medicare system is beginning to implode,” said Dr. Susan Bailey, president of the Texas Medical Association. “If Congress doesn't fix Medicare soon, there'll be more and more doctors dropping out and Congress' promise to provide medical care to seniors will be broken.”

How long before some Congress Critter proposes forcing Doctors to accept Medicare (think Obama-care) patients at whatever compensation rate the government sets?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Review: A Voyage For Madmen

A Voyage For Madmen

I just finished reading it.

I am sure this kind of thing is not everybody's cup of tea. Books about sailing are rarely exciting. This one is.

Nine men set out on the race. One man finished it. He returned a hero, surviving not only the voyage, but its aftermath as well. While some dropped out of the race for sensible and sound reasons, others continued and were ultimately destroyed by it.

I liked it. Though I must confess that I found it a little troubling. The sailors involved ran the gamut of the "distressingly normal" to the mad and the doomed. It was too easy to see a bit of myself in all of them.

It is always pleasant enough to be able to find spiritual kinship with the heroic and transcendental. We all want to believe that we have the nerve and the will to do what is right and just even if only God is there with us as our witness. It can be a little unnerving to find in the faults and failings of others more of yourself then you would wish.

I recommend A Voyage For Madmen, but with caution.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

23,000 Nautical Miles

Jessica Watson is home after seven months at sea. Seven months without stopping anywhere along the way.

See: Australian teen completes round-the-world sail

The route took Watson through some of the world's most treacherous waters, and the teen battled through monstrous storms, suffering seven knockdowns.

Watson said she had moments of doubt during those times, but generally kept her spirits up.

"Amazingly, I just enjoyed it much, much more than I ever thought I would and handled the challenges better than I thought," she told journalists. "You don't actually have a choice - you're in the middle of a storm, you're being knocked down - you can't fall apart."

Joshua Slocum was the first person to sail solo around the world. His was a much more leisurely passage. He was not in a hurry. His trip took over 3 years.

Many others have followed in Slocum's wake. Some have done it to be the first, the youngest, the fastest or for any other of a number of reasons.

Few seize the opportunity to complete an audacious achievement. Fewer still succeed. We can celebrate the courage and the daring to do a great thing. We can celebrate those that succeed.

Jessica Watson has succeeded.

Her effort and her success are worth celebrating.

Good work Jessica.

Friday, May 14, 2010

What Happens When They Run Out Of Other Peoples Money To Spend?

Spending other peoples money can be a lot of fun . . . until the money runs out.

See: Illinois deep in debt, doesn’t pay bills

Paralyzed by the worst deficit in its history, the state has fallen months behind in paying what it owes to businesses and organizations, pushing some of them to the edge of bankruptcy.

Illinois isn't bothering with the formality of issuing IOUs, as California did last year. It simply doesn't pay.

Think about that.

That is not a small thing.

All of those vendors that are not being paid have employees that may soon be out of a job because their employers can not get paid.

How many other State and City governments are going to have this problem? How many people will lose their jobs, their careers and their life savings when their employer's government customers fail to pay their bills?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Greece - Economic Liberalization And Removing The State From The Market Place

See: The Bitter Pills in the Plan to Rescue Greece

Another reform high on the list is removing the state from the marketplace in crucial sectors like health care, transportation and energy and allowing private investment. Economists say that the liberalization of trucking routes — where a trucking license can cost up to $90,000 — and the health care industry would help bring down prices in these areas, which are among the highest in Europe.

Note how in this paragraph, "liberalization" refers to "removing the state from the marketplace."

Greece is in such bad shape, they are considering taking two steps back in order to take one step forward.

Not to worry though. One of the proposals is to have Greece increase its Value Added Tax (VAT) up to 25%. That is a high enough rake off of the private sector to insure that no real economic recovery will come of anything inadvertently positive that could be imposed.

There is no easy solution for Greece or for any other nation that is suffering from the all to predictable results of running out of other peoples money to spend. You can't spend what you don't have. Resorting to debt will only make the problem bigger. Resorting to raising taxes will only cripple that part of the economy that creates wealth. Freeing the economy from government regulation and taxation could work but it can not rescue welfare-state socialism from its all to predictable and inevitibly destructive results.

Bottem line, Socialism Sucks.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Roller Coaster Market Ride - Are We Having Fun Yet?

See: Bank Risk Soars to Record, Default Swaps Overtake Lehman Crisis

May 7 (Bloomberg) -- The cost of insuring against losses on European bank bonds soared to a record, surpassing levels triggered by the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., as the sovereign debt crisis deepened.

Like on an old wooden roller coaster, our economic cars have been pulled slowly to the top again after the first plunge, tickity tickity tickity all the way up.

Now, here we are at the the top of the second rise, at the long breathless moment where the cars just kind of sit there, slipping slowly forward as we get our first look at the deep drop before us. No more tickity tickity. The brakes are now off.

In moments, there will be little that we can do but throw our hands up in the air and scream in the downward plunge.

Are we having fun yet?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Do You Need A "Smoking Gun?"

See: Evidence Mounts for Taliban Role in Car Bomb Plot

One senior Obama administration official cautioned that “there are no smoking guns yet” that the Pakistani Taliban had directed the Times Square bombing. But others said that there were strong indications that Mr. Shahzad knew some members of the group and that they probably had a role in training him.

In a video on Sunday, the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attempted bombing.

Before 911, there was a problem with connecting the dots.

After 911, there was an outcry of rage over the fact that the dots were not connected.

Smoking guns and connecting the dots.

In the world of 910, we thought like lawyers, needing rock solid irrefutable evidence in order to "Connect the Dots."

Is it 910 all over again?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Partisan Dividing Line On Illegal Immigration

The question that will play out over the coming months will be: “Are the Democrats now the Party of Illegal Immigration?”

One Democrat candidate for Senate in California has charged that the “Democrat Elite” are manipulating today's May Day/Pro-Amnesty Protesters to push an unpopular reform package that includes Amnesty for Illegal aliens.

See his Press Release: Democrats Are Manipulating the Marchers
"There is not going to be an amnesty this year, or next year. The majority of the American people don't want it, for good reason. They want to secure the borders first," he said. "Amnesty before we secure the borders would only encourage yet another wave of illegals and hurt the wages of unskilled Americans (and legal immigrants)."

"But every time Democratic politicians in D.C. need to rev up the Latino vote, they dangle the false promise of an amnesty bill. At some point. Latino voters are going to realize they're being used."

Kaus is the only Democratic Senate candidate on the ballot to oppose amnesty proposals, even when they are packaged with enforcement measures and billed as "comprehensive reform." The incumbent, Barbara Boxer, supports "comprehensive reform" that includes a "path to citizenship" for illegals--i.e., amnesty.

"It's time Democrat politicians stopped holding enforcement measures hostage to their goal of amnesty--of giving citizenship to millions who are here illegally."

"We need to secure the borders first. Build the actual, physical fence that was supposed to be built. Extend E-verify or another effective means of checking immigration status at the time of employment. Create a system for monitoring visa overstays. Let the ACLU sue. Let the Chamber of Commerce sue. Let MALDEF sue. Then if the system survives those assaults, and works--actually stops illegal immigration and sends a signal to the world that the game has changed--then in a few years we can start to talk about amnesty."

"Until then it's a false promise, a fraud."

What Democrat Candidate for Senate, running in California of all places, would have the courage to say such things? Mickey Kaus. Yes, Mickey Kaus of Mickey Kaus has also recently received the endorsement of Victor Davis Hanson.

An Ezra Klein piece in the Washington Post discusses this issue and the poll numbers.

See: Like it or not, the 2010 election is now (substantially) about immigration

The Democrats' immigration plan is based on a simple compromise: Restrictionists get increased border security, reformers get a path to legalization. And the compromise is in that order, too: The legalization path doesn't kick in until eight separate security benchmarks are met (head here for an excellent summary).

The question is whether anyone wants this compromise, at least right now. Consider this: The Arizona plan is popular. According to Gallup, 51 percent of Americans who have heard of the law support it. Only 39 percent oppose the legislation.

This is an issue the divides the public in lines that are very difficult to cross.

Have the Democrats become the Party of Illegal Imigration? With a few rare indivdual exceptions like Kaus and Hanson, the answer seems to be an obvious and overwhelming "Yes."

The elections will get very interesting. If you think that Amnesty is an issue that can wait until real and meaningful measures are in place to secure the borders and enforce our immigration laws, be prepared to be called a Racist by the welfare pimps and whores on the left. The Race-Card is the only card they have on this issue. They will play it for all that its worth.