Wallis Simpson, the woman for whom King Edward VIII renounced the British throne, supposedly said, “A woman can’t be too rich or too thin.” But in reality, you can get too much or too little of a good thing. Whether we should be glad or worried about increasing levels of CO2 depends on quantitative numbers, not just qualitative considerations.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Disgusting. MSNBC host Ed Schultz used a deceptive edit to distort the content of Gov. Rick Perry’s speech in Iowa yesterday. Schultz claimed that Gov. Perry was calling President Obama a “black cloud hanging over America.” However, the truth was that Perry was talking about the national debt… not Obama.
Breitbart TV reported:
NewsBusters added this on Ed Schultz, “The host edited Rick Perry – in mid-sentence, mind you! – to falsely accuse the Texas governor of making a racist remark.”
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Yesterday, I wrote a post about the Ten Commandments. Today, Dennis Prager published a long, deeply analytical, intelligent article about the Ten Commandments. He’s right. I’m right. They are the Big Rules for a functioning society, and that is true whether you believe in God or not. (That’s true even for the first rule, about believing in a God, because as a facebook commenter wrote, the big rule prevents us from our “God” being the face we see in the mirror, which is always a dangerous mindset.)
It seems that whenever I fault the news media for going overboard about Sarah Palin, any Palin-hater within earshot will rebuke me for demanding that people refrain from criticizing the accomplished Alaska reformer. They contend I wish to silence Palin critics. Heck, I don’t even seek to silence the rabid Palin-obsessives, just lament that those who criticize the charismatic conservative celebrity (more often than not) exaggerate her flaws, if not make up (or truncate) comments she has made or views she holds, all while refusing to acknowledge Sarah Palin’s strengths as an individual and her record as an office-holder.
Why can’t some people just express their disagreement with Mrs. Palin in a civil tone — and take the time to familiarize himself with her actual arguments? Those who question her competence to hold office should at least consider her actual record in office. But, some in the news media would rather ask gotcha questions than inquire into that record.
Despite the ignorance of many Palin critics of what that Republican woman actually did in Alaska, she was an accomplished reformer who had worked with Republicans and Democrats alike while governor of the Last Frontier. Before questioning Palin’s qualifications to lead, Ann Althouse did just that when commenting on a movie based on the Alaskan’s accomplishments:
The material — which impresses some people, even to the point of getting confused into thinking that the movie is good — shows Sarah Palin’s rise to power in Alaska and her excellent achievements and immense popularity as governor. The problem is that all of this happened in the context of boldly and bravely challenging the corrupt Republican establishment. This made her very popular with Democrats in Alaska. She worked in a bipartisan way, mainly to extract money from oil and gas resources in Alaska, and that was popular with everyone, pushing her ratings above 80% in Alaska. She was raking in money for Alaskans and challenging the big corporations (and their inside dealings).
Althouse stresses that “Governor Palin’s greatness came through working with Democrats”, but wonders how a President Palin would “work with congressional Republicans? It can’t happen now. What made her great in Alaska is now lost. It was lost in Alaska, after the ’08 election, which is why — the movie shows this — she had to resign as governor.”
The woman who, in Alaska, bridged the partisan divide has, on the national stage, become a partisan cheerleader.
That, in a nutshell, is Althouse’s point. But, let’s also look at how that blogress makes it. First, she acknowledges Palin’s accomplishments in Juneau, then explains why she believes Palin can no longer make similar accomplishments in Washington. She doesn’t attack Mrs. Palin nor even label her. She just looks honestly and her record in office and her current status in American politics.
Would it that more Palin critics could do the same."
Saturday, August 13, 2011
How Media Bias Is Revealed and What to Do About It:
Newsweek magazine has brought the subject of media bias to the forefront with this week’s cover photo and headline. It features a photo of Republican congresswoman and presidential candidate Michele Bachmann with a crazed look behind the intentionally nasty headline, “Queen of Rage.” Even the most naïve reader could not believe the article would be anything close to an evenhanded look at who Ms. Bachmann is and what she stands for.
This might surprise some journalists, but readers/viewers are much smarter than most of them think they are. They can spot media bias a mile off even when members of the media think they are getting away with it. Here are seven transparent ways media bias is detected by readers/viewers and what journalists can do about it.
Context: A journalist might edit down a 25-word comment into five-words to make someone they don’t like look foolish. What to do about it: Be honest and keep quotes and themes in context.
Facts: Recently MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow played a quote by radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh which she said was “made earlier this week.” It wasn’t. It was made over a year earlier, and it is highly likely the host knew it when she played it. What to do about it: Report the facts even if they are not as you want them to be.
Freaks and fringers: Media bias is spotted immediately when a journalist seeks out the most ridiculous representation of a subject or group they are covering. It happened many times with the media coverage of the tea party rallies as well as the Wisconsin state legislature’s battle over union issues earlier this year. What to do about it: Get your information from serious representatives and not freaks and fringers.
Lead or bury: Your bias will be established by what you lead with and what you bury or fail to report. It’s not always about what you say but what you don’t say that reveals your bias. What to do about it: Tell the whole story, not just the part you want told.
Bogus spokesman: Just because someone says they are conservative or liberal does not make them so. The con usually comes from people who claim to be conservative when they are not. Meghan McCain and David Frum come to mind. What to do about it: Don’t be naïve and check credentials before assigning labels.
Headlines: Newsweek’s “Queen of Rage” headline is a glaring example of media bias but there are many, many more. The front page of The Washington Post on August 3, 2010 reads, “Va. Driver had Record of DUIs Before Fatal Crash.” The story was about a drunken illegal alien who killed a nun but the headline writer did not like the sound of that headline. What to do about it: Write honest headlines.
Photos: You can tell the bias of an editor by looking at the kinds of photos he/she selects. Newsweek’s choice of the stern Bachman photo displayed their bias. A pro-Obama editor will use a charming picture of him while an anti-Obama editor will use an unattractive photo. Once again, they may think the readers/viewers don’t know what’s happening but they do. What to do about it: Use photos that tell the true story.
Don’t think you can sneak your bias into a story unnoticed. Your readers/viewers are smarter than you think and may even be smarter than you. Treat them with honest news coverage and recognize their intelligence. They will reward you with their loyalty and read your stuff with confidence.
If you can’t do that, admit your bias up front. Your candor will be refreshing to your readers.
Friday, August 12, 2011
via Big Government by Lawrence Meyers on 8/8/11
I get tired constantly repeating myself to my fine friends who are on the Left side of the political spectrum when it comes to economic, fiscal, and business realities. It's not their fault. I used to be the same way. However, following up on a good article about economics for dummies, I thought I'd add some basic concepts that everyone should understand — regardless of political beliefs.
This stuff isn't that hard to understand. My old high school math teacher would just drill me over and over on something until I got it.
Risk, Reward, and Investment
A rich person makes all his income, more than $250,000 each year, from investment income only.
Investment involves taking a risk. In exchange for that risk, an investor is rewarded. The greater the risk, the greater the reward.
Imagine two cups. Under one is a dollar. You bet one dollar and choose one cup. The odds of picking the right cup are 1-1. If you are right, you win one dollar.
Imagine ten cups. Under one cup is ten dollars. You bet one dollar but choose only one cup. The risk of choosing the right cup has gone up to 9-1 against you. Don't you think you deserve a higher reward for choosing that one right cup?
If you don't think so, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.
Investment works the same way.
The IRS charges a capital gains tax on investment income. If Mr. Rich Person makes an investment, and sells it in less than one year, he gets taxed at the highest rate (35%). If he holds it longer than a year, he is taxed 15%. Why? Because 1) holding an investment for a longer period of time is riskier than for a short period of time, and 2) the government wants to encourage people to invest for long periods of time in things that build the economy, instead of speculating on short-term profits.
If that lower tax rate were raised or eliminated for long-term investments, what do you think Mr. Rich would do? Think about it for a moment. What would you do?
Would you make the investment anyway? Maybe, but the stock market would see even more volatility, since more people might speculate rather than invest, moving money in and out, buying and selling. Volatility creates uncertainty. Uncertainty encourages people to keep their money on the sidelines, where it does not contribute to the economy's growth.
Some investors would be less likely to sell their profitable investments and trigger the higher capital gain tax. That keeps money in investments that grow the economy. But then the government collects no taxes, so tax revenue would fall, creating a wider federal budget deficit. Furthermore, never selling increases risk, and you may not be inclined to invest in the first place, keeping your money again on the sidelines.
Instead of investing, would you spend it instead? No. Why? Remember, you make all your income from investments, and now you're not investing, so you have no income. So instead, your money sits on the sidelines.
How Does Investment Help The Economy?
Suppose you have a great new company with a revolutionary portion-control product that will help people lose weight. Somebody invests in you. Now you can expand, so you will need to hire workers. That creates jobs. Who invests in the company? Rich people. Why? To make money. How much investor dollars could there possibly be in start-up, or what's known as "middle market", companies"? The most recent statistic: $2 TRILLION. I should know. I broker some of these deals. Think how many jobs could be created with that money.
Suppose capital gains taxes increase. A lot of that investment money vanishes. Why? See above.
The same idea applies to stocks. The more money invested in stocks sends stock prices higher. A higher stock price means a company is worth more. A more valuable company can borrow money against its value to expand and create jobs.
How to Spook Investors
The higher unemployment is, the fewer jobs people have. Fewer jobs means people have less money to spend. If people have less money to spend, they are going to stick to necessities. Demand for treats like vacations, Tiffany's, and cars will fall. When demand falls, companies make less money, profits fall, and stock prices decline. Companies cut back, and workers are the first to go. That starts a vicious cycle. Now those people have less money to spend…and so on.
It gets worse. Investors don't want to invest money in companies when profits are falling! Would you invest money in a bowling alley if fewer people came to bowl? Investors hoard their cash. Now there's less investment, so new small companies can't find money to expand and hire. Some investors may even sell their investments to avoid these hard times, sending stock prices lower, and making it even harder to borrow money to hire people.
Why Government Spending Usually Fails
If rich folks won't invest, why can't government fill the gap?
Here's an idea! The government gives big tax credits to solar manufacturing and installation companies for every worker that is hired for a period of 3 full years. These people are trained to manufacture solar panels, and to install them on residences in areas of the U.S. that receive the highest number of sunny days each year. The panels are offered at an affordable rate to homeowners, and even subsidized by the government. Not only are thousands of jobs created, but the solar company makes a fortune, pays less taxes on them thanks to the credits, homeowners see energy savings, and we've reduced our dependence on foreign oil.
That would really be something.
And it could never happen. Because government spending doesn't create many jobs, and the ones it does create cost more than just paying someone off the street a regular salary. Why? Government spending wastes taxpayer money because politicians are self-serving.
By every single metric, stimulus money was wasted. Visit www.stimuluswatch.org. The "most expensive" items went to states for "government services" and "education funds". What does that mean? Who got that money? Where are the jobs? Why was this money just thrown to the states without any oversight whatsoever?
Were any jobs created? From late 2009 through mid-2010, private sector employment increased 1%. Government jobs increased 2.5%. Those gains have since been lost.
How much money has been wasted? The national debt went from $5.3 trillion on the day Bush took office to $10.6 trillion the day Obama came in — an increase of $5.3T. As of July 31, the debt was $14.3 trillion — Obama has increased it 70% of the amount Bush did in 30% of the time.
How can anyone believe the idea that government spending creates jobs, given how much has been spent, and where unemployment and the economy are today?
Who Cares About The Debt?
A credit rating agency just downgraded the quality of US debt for the first time in history. Why? Because there is concern that the US must spend so much money just to pay interest on its debt, that there is just that much more concern about certain debts not getting paid. The cost of borrowing (interest) for the US goes up because it is riskier to loan to us.
That's bad for you and me. Why? Investors will be that much more afraid about buying or holding U.S. bonds. So they will sell those bonds. When the price of a bond goes down, the interest rate goes up, because you must incentivize new investors to take on greater risk and earn those greater rewards.
When U.S. bond interest rates go up, all interest rates go up — mortgages, credit cards, car loans. etc. Now it's harder for businesses to borrow money to hire people and expand. It's harder for people to borrow money to buy a house (as if the banks weren't tight enough).
Why Not Raise Income Taxes on The Rich?
Okay, so I've lambasted all the spending. Why not raise more revenue?
The answer lies in the discussion on investment above. The more money you take away from the rich (or anyone else), the less money there is for investment. Now if this money went directly into government spending that would unquestionably create jobs, you might even find some rich people agreeing to a tax hike! But I've just shown that the government has been a very poor steward of our money. Not to mention that some of that money has to be used to pay the interest on the debt!
What else happens if you raise taxes on the rich? One study suggests they decrease their charitable contributions (unless you are a Democrat, in which case you give less than Republicans anyway. And if you're Joe Biden, you barely give anything at all).
What about the argument that "the rich don't pay their fair share"? Define "fair share". What is it? How is it calculated? Is it an absolute dollar amount or a percentage? How much more is "fair", exactly? Enough to make things "fair"? What does that mean?
You've heard this before: The top 1% pay 38% of federal income taxes, while the bottom 47% pay no income tax at all. So who isn't paying their fair share? Seems to me that 47% of America is getting a free ride. Why aren't they paying more?
Do rich people use "loopholes" to avoid paying personal income taxes?
With few exceptions, I have prepared my own taxes each of the past twenty years. I know the tax code better than some accountants. In my high-income years, I always seek out a highly-regarded accountant who can help shelter income from taxes. Every year I get the same answer: except for contributions to retirement plans, there isn't any way to do it.
I can put up to 20% of my income into a 401K ($49,000 maximum) and not pay taxes on that amount. However, when I retire and withdraw that money, I will be taxed on it. The government gets their take no matter what.
There are no "loopholes". If you know of any legal ones, PLEASE tell me. I want to exploit them.
The economic disconnect between Liberals and Conservatives stem from two basic concepts.
First, America was never designed to be fair. It was designed to be just.
Justice is resolving disparities based on what happened. Fairness is resolving disparities based on why something happened. Our justice system was created around the blind weighing of facts, not feelings. Liberals insist on feelings and fairness. Conservatives insist on facts and justice.
Second, you can have anything you want, you just can't have everything you want.
The shocking truth is that most Americans are bleeding-hearts. We do care what happens to our fellow man. However, not every single problem can be attacked, much less solved. Government can attack some problems — ideally ones that bring help to many people. Medicare, for example, is a good idea. The elderly have contributed much to build our nation. We should take care of them within reason. Charity can help fill gaps on other problems. However, we simply do not have the money to solve every single problem.
What the Constitution did was to create a republic where the government was supposed to be limited, given that America was breaking free from a tyrannical King. The beauty of America is that if there is a problem that someone wants to solve really badly, nothing stops them from devoting their time, effort, and money to tackle it. They themselves can have anything they want, if they want it badly enough. They just can't have it all.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
I tried my best to explain all of this to Gail; I pleaded with her to reconsider her automatic pilot vote for Obama. I pulled out all of the stops: I explained in painstaking detail what life was like in Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco under the radicals. I told her about walking a gauntlet of paranoid, drug-addled derelicts on Telegraph Avenue, about the frequent attacks on tourists in San Francisco. I reminded her of my own mugging, and informed her that everyone out here has a similar story -- or knows someone who does.
And, I told her, the worst part of it is that no one seems to care -- that citizens have become so programmed in the dogma of white privilege that they offer themselves and their children up as sacrificial lambs. Like the hostages of Stockholm, Berkeley-ites defend their abusers, protecting them rather than guarding themselves.
And finally I explained that Obama was cut from the same radical cloth -- that he surrounds himself with the type of militants who hold Berkeley captive. And, I warned her, should Obama be elected, the antisocial behavior that is tolerated in Berkeley will become the new normal all across the country.
Gail listened politely, though ultimately she voted for Obama. While she listened, she didn't really understand. Of course, she didn't -- how would she?
This wasn't her world. When you live in a safe, sheltered reality, you have no idea what it's like for people in Berkeley or Oakland or Detroit. You can't grasp what it's like to hear story after story of horrendous crime; of what it's like to attend a meeting at work one day and hear gunfire outside, as I did; or how it feels to walk to a restaurant on a cloudless blue-sky day and find yourself lying prostrate minutes later, with nose broken and two black eyes.
Gail told me this week that her only child, Justin, was playing basketball in the well-manicured park down the street with his college-aged friends and his girlfriend. Suddenly they were surrounded by a group of black guys from somewhere else who began taunting them, invoking racist language.
Her son and his friends yelled at them to go away, but one young male lunged at Justin, punching him in the face. Justin fell and was knocked unconscious. The hoodlums then ran away; luckily, one of the kids got their license plate. I hope and pray that small-town USA takes unprovoked street violence more seriously than places like Berkeley.
Justin became conscious again after a few minutes, but he sustained a deep gash that required several stitches. Any head injury is potentially serious. But perhaps even more worrisome than his physical wounds are the emotional ones sustained by Justin and his friends.
These are good kids, well-raised, polite, and tolerant. They have held no malice towards anyone based on the color of skin.
But will racial hate now be planted in their hearts? Will it corrupt their trusting souls? Of course, everything that is happening right now, whether in New Jersey or Wisconsin, is purposeful.
The radicals want to promote anarchy. But it's more than this: they want the hate that blackens their souls to warp others as well.
My dear friend, Gail, was in tears, shell-shocked, incredulous. She kept repeating over and over again, "How could this happen? How could this happen?" She struggled to find the words for such barbarism; she had not a clue of how it could invade her insular world.
I spoke to Gail tenderly, as though I were calming down a frightened child stirring from a deep sleep.
"I'm so sorry, sweetie. This is horrible. Justin didn't deserve to be treated this way, and his friends didn't need to see such brutality.
"But, Gail, it's not just happening in your small town, but it's happening all over the country, and it's getting worse every day. There have been random mob violence against white people in Iowa, Chicago, Atlanta, in Wisconsin, where dozens of white people were beaten up, even pulled out of their own cars."
"But why?" Gail asked me plaintively. "Why is this happening now?"
"It's Obama," I explained. "It's what I told you a few years ago. This is what happens when you put someone in power like Obama. Something spreads, like a virus. It's subtle; it's almost invisible. But it poisons one person, and then another and another, until soon the whole country is corrupted.
"It's a sickness called hatred, Gail. Most black people are good, law-abiding, moral people. Obama comes from a far-left fringe group of militants who hate America and want to drag us down. Those same people have degraded and exploited poor black kids for years. These radicals use them as their foot soldiers. Obama would never get his own hands dirty.
"I know these militants, Gail; I live among them. They hate America; they want to devolve us back into some primitive brute state. This is why things are getting worse and worse in this country: the economy, the Middle East, and hate crimes against whites."
After I finished, Gail was quiet for several seconds. Then she said, sounding heartbroken, "But he made so many promises. He seemed so nice."
"Yes, that's true, sweetie," I answered. "But people aren't always as they seem."
Three years ago, I sounded the clarion call to my friend Gail to wake up and discern the person behind Obama's carefully crafted mask. I tried to make her see what would happen to this country if the radical left seized power.
Back then, she didn't understand what I was saying; she simply couldn't.
She is starting to understand now.
Wednesday, August 03, 2011
Before I post on the accusations leveled against the “Christian counseling business” of Michelle Bachmann’s husband Marcus, an outfit that (allegedly) uses “a controversial therapy that encourages homosexual patients to change their sexual orientation,” let me reiterate my views on such outfits.
First, Christian groups have every right to set up such companies, provided they do not coerce anyone to enter treatment.
Second, critics of such outfits continue to have the freedom to question the methods of said companies and should continue to exercise that freedom.
While many programs do claim some success in “converting” their charges, they are dealing with a self-selected group; those who have “succeeded” in changing their orientation may have already been disposed to such change, that is, their sexuality is more fluid that it is for most of us. Whereas in their youth, they found themselves drawn to their own sex, as they age, they find themselves drawn to the other sex.
Could it be that they didn’t so much convert them as they helped them accept the change that has already taken place?
The only objective studies I have read of such programs show they have a “success” rate (as defined by them) no greater than 33% (and even that number is likely inflated). And that, let me stress, is not 33% of all gay people, but 33% of those who seek counseling in such facilities. Some who seek out such treatment may feel uncomfortable describing themselves as “gay” because the label which once worked for them no longer does so, that is, their feelings have changed.
All that said, that doesn’t diminish my skepticism of the “ex-gay” movement. Those who parade about telling about how they were “saved” from their homosexuality seem to be trying not so much to convince the world about the merits of their ministry, but to convince themselves of the effectiveness of its therapy.
If it had been so effective, why would they need to talk about it so much?
RELATED: Alexander’s Erotic Impulses & Human Sexuality"
“Reparative Therapy” & the Fluidity of (Some People’s) Sexuality: "
In a thoughtful critique/commentary of my post on On Marcus Bachmann and “conversion therapy”*, Jim Burroway explores those programs’ supposed one-third success rate. Let me stress that in my post, I provided multiple caveats because I believe it to be inflated.
While I don’t agree with everything Burroway says in that post, I do recommend it as he raises a number of important issues.
In his first paragraph, he writes that I “didn’t exactly defend ex-gay therapy per se”.** I trust he recognizes that my expression about the right of Christian groups to set up such programs stems from my basic libertarian principles, the rights of individuals to establish their own organizations and associate with whom they please.
That said, as per my previous post, I remain dubious about the effectiveness of these programs. I believe it is an open question whether their “therapy” is even effective in the handful of successful “conversions.” Were they successful in changing these individuals sexuality or would that change have occurred organically, that is, without their intervention?
Given the complexity of human sexuality, I lean toward the latter view, that some people have a more “fluid” sexuality than others. And these individuals seek out such programs because they feel that while the word “gay” once described their emotional/sexual longings, it no longer works to describe their changing emotions.
*I should perhaps have used the term “reparative therapy” in quotes.
**In a subsequent post, I will address his point about coercion.
FROM THE COMMENTS: rusty offers an observation well worth considering:
Frankly, I find that a gay person’s degree of self-loathing and personal insecurity is directly related to their vehemence against reparative therapy. It’s almost as if they have to demonize it as an excuse for their own inability to accept their own choice and responsibility for their behaviors.If we’re comfortable in our own sexuality, why would we feel threatened by “reparative therapy”?
Today in 1993, President Clinton signed one of the most landmark anti-gay rights laws ever passed in the United States of America — the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.
Gay leftist revisionist history types like to blame Republicans in Congress for *making* Clinton sign a law.
FACT: Democrats controlled the US House under Bill Clinton until 1995
FACT: THE leading elected official advocating for outright ban of gays in military and then DADT was US Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA)
FACT: Bill Clinton ran radio ads in his 1996 re-election campaign heralding his support of DADT and the Defense of Marriage Act
Facts are stubborn things.
Basically, separate marriage from its "baggage" of fidelity, monogamy, and anything else that makes it special.
In the end, same-sex partners will have "marriage", but "marriage" won't mean anything more than "civil unions" does now.