Archives for: November 2016

Crime Sheet

2 rather important murder trials are now under way, both involve race, and with both, the outcomes are fairly certain. Dylan Roof gunning down 9 church goers, and Michael Slager, a Charleston police officer who shot a fleeing man in the back 8 times, both shooters are white and all victims are black.

The easy one first. Dylan seems like a troubled youth with a bucket load of mental problems, but the judge not only found him competent to stand trial but allowed Dylan to represent himself during the trial. What bothers me is that Dylan offered to plead guilty to murder and accept life without the possibility of parole in exchange for taking the death penalty off the table. A reasonable offer and one that the prosecution should have embraced. But here’s the rub, with white shooter/black victims, the racial component must take center stage, so countless millions (the cost from trial, through appeals, up to the actual injection, if it ever happens)will be wasted for what will be little more than a show trial. Getting back to my disgust for the very concept of hate crimes, where one person’s hide is more valuable and must exact a higher price than anothers, a sentence consistent with justice must now jump over another hurdle, artificially placed based on nothing more than the color of skin. If roles were reversed any prosecutor worth dick would take the life deal in a second, then go out for pizza.

Now on to Slager. There is both dash cam footage and private party cell phone video of the actual shooting. First off, why do rookie cops (5 years on the job, he should have known better) feel compelled to give foot chase on something as low level as a fix ticket infraction? We aren’t talking about a mass murder fleeing the scene who will most likely continue his killing ways, or even a bank robber fleeing with a sack full money, Slager knew who this guy was, he had his ID, knew he was unarmed, knew he had done nothing except drive with a busted taillight, knew he would pose no danger to any passerby’s, yet, he still felt it necessary to give chase on foot, lamebrain. A better course of action, impound the car (while inventorying the contents for any illegal contraband), then send him his ticket in the mail and go get them donuts while they are hot.

As far as the charge, yes, Slager needs to do prison time. There is no excuse, none, zilch, nada for shooting anybody in the back. Slager testified that he was afraid of Scott, how so? Scott was running away from him, had nothing in his hands, no history of violence against cops, no justification whatsoever existed for the application of lethal force. There probably was a scuffle (another reason you don’t foot pursue unless you absolutely have to) but the scuffle was over, Slager was in no danger and what we see is Scott retreating. I’m OK with manslaughter as long as he gets a serious sentence. Oh, and 8 shots? no marksmanship badge for you.

Quadrupling Down On The Stupid

What’s that old Napoleon adage ,”Never interrupt your enemy while he is making a mistake”? I guess we can add the Einstein definition of insanity;

House Democrats re-elected Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday to lead them through the next two years of the incoming Trump administration, as the San Francisco Democrat fended off a challenge from Ohio’s Tim Ryan.

Ms “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it” has led the democrats to 4 straight defeats in elections to control The House, this last one a blood bath so massive as to make Quentin Tarantino upchuck his breakfast. The logical response would be reflection, re calibration, a change of direction in course, nope, they are going to do the same thing over (times 4) and expect a different result.

But it’s worse than that. Mustering up some token resistance, they manage to find a Pelosi lite, some guy nobody heard of from the Midwest, a guy that has almost an identical voting record as Pelosi (Obamacare, check, stimulus, check, cap and trade, check, voting down the Keystone XL pipeline, check check). Missing the point as usual with these guys, geographical diversity is the goal, not ideological. So, they want the SF liberal back, fine by me. Improving the economy or the lives of average Americans will always take a back seat to Which Lives Matter Right Now.

It looks like democrats like their “swampy” environs just fine. Re-centralize the power, as if it wasn’t centralized already. The old way, reward loyalty with campaign cash and committee chairs, and punish those that do not fall in line, Tammany Hall politics at it’s finest.

Big Brother In the UK

This is probably our future too:

On Tuesday, the UK is due to pass its controversial new surveillance law, the Investigatory Powers Act, according to the Home Office.

The Act, which has received overwhelming support in both the House of Commons and Lords, formally legalizes a number of mass surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013. It also introduces a new power which will force internet service providers to store browsing data on all customers for 12 months.

Civil liberties campaigners have described the Act as one of the most extreme surveillance laws in any democracy, while law enforcement agencies believe that the collection of browsing data is vital in an age of ubiquitous internet communications.

The UK is also introducing a new mass surveillance power, with the creation of so-called internet connection records (ICRs): records of the internet service a specific device has connected to, which will be created and stored by internet service providers. These records will include visited websites, messaging platforms like WhatsApp, or potentially even the connection your computer makes to a remote server when updating its software.

Many law enforcement agencies will be able to access this data, but so will lots of other, less obvious public bodies, including the Food Standards Agency, and some National Health Service Trusts.

The UK also, a couple of years ago, banned porn depicting anything the pearl-clutching nannies running their country regard as “deviant”. I’m sure more censorship is coming.

Don’t think this can’t happen here. Trump is putting in place people who support mass surveillance and oppose privacy protections. Congress has shown repeatedly that will instantly cave unless we the people rise up in protest. If we don’t want to follow the example of the UK, we have to object now, no matter who is in power.

Perspective

As usual, if you followed the media narrative this morning when the sad story broke out about another stupid attack at Ohio State, their speculation went one way, and obviously the wrong way. Before enough facts where out, and as this always plays out with the narrative crowd, the idiots writing articles and commenting at the usual lefty dives such as the HuffPro insane asylum called it all wrong. For this crowd, i had to be Trump supporting, gun toting assholes that are stealing America from the good-thinkers, like them, that obviously did it! More gun laws are going to be needed, and since anyone that is a Trump supporter has to be motivated by hate, racism, homophobia, and whatever other cool term the prog kids throw around to identify those ungood-thinkers, it had – it just had to be – one of them behind this sad affair.

Of course, us ungood-thinkers immediately knew that odds where we were dealing with another follower of the religion of peace, guns had not been involved – Obama was not ridding this to sell his sensible gun banning policies immediately, which was a dead giveaway there obviously was no gun play – as the initial reports mentioned a car and knifes, things followers of the religion of peace have been advocating should be used by their Jihadi recruits in the not so distant past. We also suspected that interest in this story would die out as soon as the facts came out, due to lack of interest in reporting on something that contradicted the narrative the left so desperately needs (don’t worry I am sure some DNC paid paid operative will commit some crime sooner than later that they all will try to blame on others as has been going on for the past year or more).

At least justice was dealt out and the bad guys where captured or killed. But with the narrative not flowing, I suspect this story will go away. Unless the left decides to ask for sensible car and knife laws. How much do we ant to bet that when someone points out the perp was taken down by someone with a gun, their response will be we need more gun control (read disarming law abiding citizens).

I’m With Kellyanne

I must admit, seeing Romney interviewed for a position in the Trump Administration, let alone the very superlative position of Sec. of State, I was flummoxed. Mending fences, all good, a cabinet of adversaries ala Lincoln, OK, I can get behind that, but Romney, seriously? Considering all the bad things Romney said while Trump was running, this was really an exercise in mollifying the inner party opposition. And because of the “out of left field” nature of the pick, it took me a while to wrap my head around it. OK, wrap concluded, I don’t like it.

Not only is it abrasive to the base;

But internally, given the support our resident lefty’s have given Romney (clearly a direct violation of my “the level of their howling is directly proportional to my level of support” premise), more reflection was needed.

Yes, I was pretty hard on Trump as well, and he deserved every bit of derision he got by doing and saying dopey things. But even my harsh critiques did not reach the level of animus that was displayed by Romney. Another distinction, I am a private citizen targeting a very narrow audience.

Personally, consistent with everything I know about Trump (or at least what he has displayed publicly) Romney was never ever going to be seriously considered. If there is one thing (of which there are many) both Obama and Trump have in common, it is the petulant, petty, and vindictive nature for pay back.

My preference for Sec. of State is David Petraus, and he is getting his chance to lobby for the position today.

Not only does Petrause have the resume, but his ideology is more in line with the PEOTUS.

Another consideration, more subliminal, is the “Fuck You” factor. Along the same line of revoking every single Obama executive order and executive memoranda on day one, hiring military men who butted heads with Obama has it’s own level of satisfaction. Petraeus, Flynn, Mattis, get them on board immediately.

As Jane’s Law Turns

For the last eight years, you may have heard, the Right Wing has been crazy. At least, that’s what the media assured us. And to be fair, there was some craziness out there: conspiracy theories about Obama, the tendency to infer nefarious motives to Democrats, etc. But I saw this less as a manifestation of Right Wing insanity and more of a manifestation of Jane’s Law:

The devotees of the party in power are smug and arrogant. The devotees of the party out of power are insane.

You see, I’ve been blogging a long time, since Bush’s first term. And I remember how crazy the Left was when Bush was in power. I remember a plurality of Democrats thinking Bush had prior knowledge of 9/11. I remember them saying we invaded Iraq to enrich Hailburton. I remember the Bushitler signs. I remember the claims that Bush was “gutting” spending he was massively increasing. And I especially remember that the only e-mail threat I’ve ever gotten was from a liberal angry at something I’d written on Moorewatch.

Right now, the media is all up in arms about “fake news”, the supposed apotheosis of Right Wing insanity. I find this concern utterly hilarious from a movement that made fakes news shows like The Daily Show their standard bearers. I find it hypocritical from the people who made serial confabulator Michael Moore the most successful documentary filmmaker in history. I find it bizarre coming from the likes of Vox, which frequently writes factually challenged articles that play to their liberal biases. There was an NPR article that said that fake news sites don’t do as well with liberals (hello? The Onion?). But even if that’s true, it’s mainly because liberals have been in power for eight years, at least at the Presidential level.

So I’ve been wondering since the election: how long would it take for the Left to go nuts, now that they’re out of power? How long before Jane’s Law is applied in the other direction? The answer is: not long.

My canary in the coal mine is Snopes, whose debunkings have slowly been shifting toward debunking nonsense and fake news about Donald Trump (e.g., Ivanka said she’d mace him if he wasn’t her father). But the real manifestation is in the current push for electoral recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. We’ve gone through several stages here of increasing insanity and hypocrisy:

  • Before the election, Trump complained that the system was rigged. Many left-wing sites did sterling work debunking this. They also mocked Trump as a sore loser and castigating him for questioning the integrity of the election and endangering democracy.
  • Then, last weak, based on poor analysis of election returns, a computer scientist started claiming that the election may have been hacked by Russia. He’s since backed off a bit since people who actually know stuff about elections pointed out that the “discrepancies” in the election returns were actually differences in demographics.
  • At first, this was ignored. Clinton didn’t touch it. Some said it probably wasn’t hacked but maybe we should recount just to be sure. But over the Thanksgiving break, the roof caved in. Jill Stein called for a recount in Wisconsin and raised $7 million from Democrats to … well, it’s not really clear what that charlatan is using the money for. But Democrats sure gave her a hell of a lot of it. Now the Clinton camp is joining in, kinda, and many Democrats are openly saying the election might have been hacked.
  • Of course, this is not portrayed in the same way Trump’s ramblings were. Suddenly, calling an election rigged isn’t threatening our democracy; it’s strengthening it! Calling for a recount in a state decided by 60,000 votes or more isn’t being a sore loser; it’s testing the system!
  • The hypocrisy reached full circle today. Trump responded to the recount requests by tweeting out quotes from Clinton criticizing his complaints about a rigged election. He then tweeted that he would have won the popular vote had not three million illegal aliens voted for Clinton. There is zero evidence to supports his allegation. It appears to have originated in a few random tweets. But suddenly, the same commentators who were solemnly calling for a recount started blasting Trump for having the temerity to question the election. How dare he!

Here’s but one example of the response picked almost at random:

Krugman, BTW, went on a multi-tweet rant the other night about how important it was that we do a recount to insure the integrity of the election.

The lack of self-awareness here is simply stunning.

Look, I don’t like Trump either. And I’ll admit that, on election night, I entertained the idea that a Russian hack was responsible for the surprising result. But by the next morning, I realized that I’d spent the last few weeks reading up on just how hard it would be to do that. Not impossible, but very hard. But even if you think a Russian hack were possible, how you can you go, in the span of a couple of days, from promulgating conspiracy theories to denouncing them? It’s madness.

Look, maybe the Russians did hack the election. And maybe millions of illegal aliens voted. But without evidence — not speculation, not random blips on maps, not random tweets — real, solid evidence, I’m not going to proclaim the election results to be a fraud. Prove either assertion beyond a reasonable doubt and I’ll happily eat some crow and then join the pitchfork parade.

But please don’t sit there and tell me how reasonable and rational you are when you embrace one conspiracy theory while swatting down another. And please don’t tell me how reasonable and rational you are when you give $7 million to a grifter like Jill Stein on the desperate hope that your conspiracy theory is real. Maybe there’s something to it. But you’re not carefully and calmly considering the evidence. You’re going down a rabbit hole into madness.

Turkeys And Drumsticks 2016

For nine years running, I have taken advantage of the Thanksgiving Holiday to give out my awards for Turkey of the Year and Golden Drumsticks. The latter are for those who exemplify the best traits in our public sphere. The former are for those who exemplify silliness and stupidity. I rarely give them out to someone who is evil; they are reserved for those who regularly make me shake my head and wonder what they’re thinking. It’s a sort of “thank you” for making blogging easier.

This may be the last of these. We’ll see. But this is the post I most look forward to every year.

Read more… »

Thanks, Adam Smith

The 2 prevailing themes of my Thanksgiving Day posts have to do with the capitalistic/private property hankerings of out fore fathers, and the bounty that God has bestowed upon this great nations of ours. Giving thanks for what we have, a direct product of the entrepreneurial spirit formulated in our early years, and sharing this bounty with our neighbors, an American tradition going back to George Washington;

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

I found this Prager U. video last week that encapsulates perfectly that palm/forehead marriage as experienced by the pilgrims;

And, as they say, the rest is history.

Happy Thanksgiving to all, may your day be blessed with good food and the comfort of a loving family. And if the need strikes, float some bucks to those worthy charities that feed the less fortunate.

Deuteronomy 15:10-11 Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do. There will always be some in the land who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share freely with the poor and with other Israelites in need.

The Overtime Follies

Good:

In a stunning blow to the Obama administration’s economic legacy, a federal judge in Texas granted a preliminary injunction Tuesday delaying implementation of a regulation that would extend overtime eligibility to an estimated 4.2 million workers.

The ruling puts in serious jeopardy the most significant wage intervention by President Barack Obama, who has been unable to persuade Congress to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour. The Labor Department regulation, previously set to take effect Dec. 1, effectively restored overtime pay to the middle class after decades of erosion had reduced it to a benefit available only to low-wage workers.

Putting aside Politico’s liberal spin, the overtime rule is looking like a bad idea and a massive executive overreach.

But let’s back up a second and review the argument in favor of the changes in overtime rules. The Department of Labor raised the threshold for exemption from overtime pay from $23,660 to $47,120. At the same time, they made changes to what workers are exempt even if their income is below that threshold. This means that approximately four million workers who were previously on salary will not be getting paid hourly and thus eligible for overtime pay if they exceed 40 hours a week.

Ostensibly, the reason for this change is to curb abuses by businesses that give employees a slight bump over the $23,660 threshold and then require them to work 50-60 hours a week. When the President put the rule into place, he said that $30,000 a year did not constitute “management” and therefore should be eligible for overtime instead of being paid as straight salary.

The problem with this logic is that while $30,000 doesn’t sound like a lot to big time lawyers, government civil servants or Vice Presidents for Community and External Affairs, it is a reasonable income for many people who live outside of Washington, D.C. Warren Meyer, over at Coyote Blog, has been doing yeoman’s work cataloging why the increase in overtime exempt income is a bad thing:

The Obama Administration and its supporters (and apparently Politico, by how they wrote the headline) are smoking something if they think employers are going to react by raising salaries of current exempt employees being paid 23,660 or 30,000 or 40,000 to $52,000. Absolutely no way. There may be a few just under the $52,000 threshold that get a bump, but that will be a minor effect.

Everyone else is going to suddenly find themselves converted from a junior manager back to a wage earner. Companies are not going to allow these newly minted wage earners to earn overtime, and so I suppose one good outcome is that we may see a new boost in productivity as companies find ways to automate or eliminate junior management tasks to get all these folks down to 40 hours a week.

There are important differences between hourly and salaried work in the relationship with employers. Some are psychological — for better or worse, management [thinks] of salaried workers differently than hourly workers. And some are real — salaried workers can try to demonstrate that they are worthy of promotion by working extra hours and taking on extra tasks, things that hourly workers really can’t do.

Furthermore, he notes, thew new overtime rules are unlikely to deliver real benefits to employees. It may, in fact, hurt them:

Further, when someone gets switched from salary to hourly, they lose a minimum pay guarantee. When I get a $3,500 a month offer, I know that no matter how slow things are, until I am fired I get $3500 a month. There is a floor on my earnings. As an hourly worker, my hours can be adjusted up or down constantly. There is no floor at all

He also points out that the Department of Labor’s own study concluded that this would not increase the pay of workers. It would just lead to cuts in hours.

The thing is, none of this is theoretical to me. It’s all very real because it’s impacting my family.

After my son was born, my wife left her good-paying but long-commuting job to take a part time job in town at our school’s main campus. Her income was above the exempt threshold. But now it is below it. Under the old rules, she would still have been exempt because she was a skilled professional — a PhD biochemist and molecular biologist managing a lab and doing scientific research. But the new overtime rules, for some strange reason, removed that exemption. So skilled professionals with decades of training are now considered no different than clock-punching temps.

(Ironically, the exemption is being kept in place for two of the most downtrodden classes of workers in higher education — graduate students and adjuncts.)

This change in no way benefits my wife or any of the thousand of scientists around the country affected by this. She’s now, after twenty years of work, back to being a clock puncher, which is humiliating. As an hourly wage earner, she loses certain benefits, like maternity leave and vacation. Like many scientists, my wife is supported by grants which can not support paying massive amounts of overtime. So she’s been told not to work more than 20 hours a week. At other universities and research institutions, scientific staff are being told to only work nine to five and not answer e-mails out of hours lest they incur overtime. A few people are getting small bumps in salary to put them over the threshold. Most are being told to work a strict 40 hours (or, I suspect, lie about how much they work).

This is madness. This is what happens when people with no experience outside government start passing sweeping rules affecting millions of workers. This is what happens when you have people in charge who think businesses (and government institutions like universities) can just conjure money out of the ether.

The states and many businesses are suing, claiming that this is an unfunded mandate from the federal government (which it is). Congress is open to repealing this rule and Trump has indicated he would sign a bill repealing it. I’m not averse to raising the exempt threshold a little bit or a narrowly tailored change to prevent the abuses that supporters of the law assert exist. But this is way too far, way too fast and way too ill-considered.

Note: The judge in this case is an Obama appointee. One of the defining elements of the Obama presidency has been Democratic and liberal judges overturning his executive overreaches. I support their doing so and will continue to support it throughout the Trump Presidency and any future Administration.

This is what checks and balances looks like, folks. If you want judges and Congress to keep Trump in check, you should be applauding this decision. Today, it’s the overtime rules. Tomorrow, it might be registration of Muslims. Checks and balances are good.