By request: Obama destroys US – Collectivists compare Boosh to Hitler

While Obama and the band of thieves collectively referred to as the democratic party are destroying the country at a harrowing pace – and have no doubt that Obama is doing the same things the left went bat shit about when Boosh was doing them, only Obama is doing this on steroids, but getting a pass – it should not surprise anyone that shit like this is being pushed by the usual suspects:

A D.C. public school gave a sixth grade class a homework assignment that required students to draw comparisons between former President George W. Bush and Adolf Hitler.

The assignment was given out this week at McKinley Tech Middle School in Northeast and has angered at least one parent who complained about the homework.

A copy of the assignment, made by the parent, instructs students to draw examples from two texts they were assigned and to fill in a Venn diagram with similarities and differences between the two men.

“Now that we have read about two men of power who abused their power in various ways, we will compare and contrast them and their actions. Please refer to your texts, ‘Fighting Hitler — A Holocaust Story’ and ‘Bush: Iraq War Justified Despite No WMD’ to compare and contrast former President George W. Bush and Hitler. We will use this in class tomorrow for an activity!” reads the text at the top of the assignment.

If you were inclined to believe the bullshit that this was an exercise to just compare abuse of power, they should have picked Obama. The downright depraved and criminal behavior by this administration has engaged in makes Boosh’s presidency look real good in comparison. Of course, the agenda is to fill the mush heads minds with the belief things are otherwise. The left is desperate to rewrite history, and now doubly so, to provide cover for what is the most corrupt administration to have held power in my lifetime, and just like with everything else, the agenda is to blame Boosh.

A more apt comparison to Hitler would be Obama, and that’s for sure. Both have the same socialist bend in spades, believing that a big all-powerful government run by a strongman, leading the charge and favoring the connected few, is the answer to all the country’s problems. The only thing they have that comes to me immediately as a difference, is that Hitler thought his people and country where the best, and Obama pretends that’s what he believes while acting always to prove that he stands for the contrary.

US Tax payer’s money at use. Shit like this compare Boosh to Hitler nonsense, especially in the age of Obama, whom is a far better fit when you want to discuss criminal behavior and abuse of power, makes dumb shit like this, look like a wise investment.

A Whole New War

So last night, Barack Obama finally unveiled his strategy for dealing with ISIS (you may remember them; he was joking about them earlier this year). For all the Republican carping about his “I don’t have a strategy yet” gaffe, I didn’t mind it. ISIS is a difficult issue to tackle. Do we go to war? If so, for what purpose? Can we actually destroy ISIS? Is containment possible? These are not easy issues to grapple with.

His strategy is detailed here, although calling it a strategy is a bit generous. It’s mainly a continuation of our existing policies (with one notable change that I’ll get to) He wants to expand the bombing campaign, train the Iraqi and Kurdish armies, attack ISIS in Syria, arm “moderate” Syrian rebels, try get Saudi Arabia and others to help out and keep American troops off the ground. I also suspect there is a part seven: quietly get Iran to help out. But you can’t say that openly without opening yet another sectarian rift.

I’ve been a bit concerned lately that this country might go down yet another bloody rabbit-hole to fight ISIS. And after last night, that concern remains. The President’s tone and words sounded awfully familiar. It could have been any number of the speeches that ultimately resulted in us going to Iraq back in 2003. And this incremental ratcheting up of our involvement leads me to believe that more is planned. He says we won’t be putting any troops in. But what do you call nearly 500 “advisors”? I call it the camel’s nose in the tent.

The major change is that he will order airstrikes into Syria and help Syrian rebels, hoping that we’ll somehow manage to fight Assad and ISIS simultaneously without empowering either of them. And we’ll also train Syria rebels, hoping they won’t join ISIS after their training. Absurdly, however, Obama is claiming that he doesn’t have to get permission of Congress because of … the 2001 AUMF that authorized going into Afghanistan. Seriously:

Obama’s using the law that authorized attacks against al Qaeda to justify his new fight in Syria and Iraq. One small problem: ISIS and al Qaeda are at each others’ throats. Legal experts were shocked to learn Wednesday that the Obama administration wants to rely on that 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force against al Qaeda for the new ISIS war.

“On its face this is an implausible argument because the 2001 AUMF requires a nexus to al Qaeda or associated forces of al Qaeda fighting the United States,” said Robert Chesney, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law. “Since ISIS broke up with al Qaeda it’s hard to make that argument.”

You may remember that the Bush people floated the idea of going into Iraq without Congressional approval based on the 2001 AUMF. They ultimately changed their minds because it was absurd (and ultimately unnecessary, as Congress punted the war power as soon as they could). It’s even more absurd now. The 2001 AUMF was put in place to get at the people who carried out 9/11. It’s not a blanket approval to attack anyone we can call a terrorist. Obama might as well be citing the 1801 law to attack the Barbary Pirates.

Frankly, if there is any doubt, the President should go to Congress. Congress’s war power it not something to be bypassed or ignored by legal mumbo-jumbo. It is a critical check on Presidential power (on those rare occasions when our spineless Congress uses it).

Needless to say, the war-mongers are coming out of the woodwork to proclaim that they were right all along and that Obama needs to do a lot more. Dick Cheney is one of the leaders in saying that Obama fumbled Iraq after the Bush Administration had “won” it. Weigel:

The timer starts four years after the start of the Iraq war, and two years after Cheney insisted, pre-surge, that Iraqi insurgent groups were in their “last throes”?

Yes, that’s the new rule. We are to analyze the situation of 2014 by crediting the Bush administration not for the Iraq war, but for post-surge Iraq. This has been the argument since 2011, when the Obama administration failed to extend the three-year status of forces agreement that (to the satisfaction of hawks) Bush had handed to him. The theme at the time, as Charles Krauthammer put it, was that Obama was “handed a war that was won,” and he blew it. (There were 54 deaths in the risidual coalition forces in Iraq in 2011, so being assigned there wasn’t exactly like being assigned to peaceful South Korea.

It’s not clear at all that having more American forces there would have done anything other than get some of our boys in the crossfire. What Cheney and Krauthammer and McCain are saying is that we should have had a permanent surge. But it’s not even clear that such a massive presence would have stopped ISIS. Rand Paul has argued that it was the initial invasion that set the stage for ISIS, not our withdrawal. Frankly, I don’t think we need lessons on how to stabilize Iraq from the people who screwed the pooch in the first place.

John McCain is also out there proclaiming vindication to anyone who will listen because he wanted to bomb Syria last year. Of course, McCain wanted us to push Assad out of power and was opposed because people feared the power vacuum would be filled by … groups like ISIS. But I’ll give McCain partial credit. If you spend your political career advocating that we should bomb everyone, eventually you will mention someone we should have bombed. McCain is like a stopped clock that is right once a day and then explodes.

Look, I think we can help keep the thoroughly evil ISIS in check, mostly by empowering the Iraqis who oppose it. But it’s not worth one drop of American blood and I’m not sure it’s worth any drop of treasure. Despite hysterical claims to the contrary, ISIS is not currently a threat to us. They are evil and vicious and if we can do something to stop them we should. But, in the end, the only people who can stop ISIS are the people who live in its shadow.

Obama’s speech, however, indicates he wants to move closer and closer to a war footing.

Planned Parenthood’s War on Women

Over the last few weeks, a number of prominent Republicans have come out in favor of making the birth control pill available over the counter. This action has the support of the American Society of Obstetric and Gynecology. It would almost certainly bring prices down and obviate the need for women to make an expensive visit to the OB/Gyn to get birth control. It wouldn’t end the Culture War, but it would turn down the heat a bit.

There are reasons to be concerned: the “standard” pill isn’t appropriate for everyone and the wrong prescription can create serious health problems (a friend of mine developed a pulmonary embolism because of a bad scrip). But opposition is also coming from an unexpected source: Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood opposes over-the-counter contraception, pushing back against a popular Republican argument being used in many Senate races this year.

The nonprofit’s lobbying arm, which advocates for women’s reproductive health issues, argued that calls for allowing birth control pills to be sold without a prescription are “empty gestures.”

The policy change would “force women to go back to the days when they paid out of pocket for birth control — which can cost upwards of $600 a year,” Planned Parenthood Action Fund wrote on its website.

As has been pointed out, there are stores that sell birth control bills for as little as $10-20 a month. Furthermore, there is no power on Earth that can stop an insurer from covering birth control even if it is over-the-counter. In fact, there’s no reason the birth control mandate can not include reimbursement for OTC birth control (said mandate having been upheld for all but religious organizations and closely-held corporations). Going even further, the contraception mandate was justified by its supporters because some women need very specialized birth control or IUD devices. These would not be available over-the-counter as Planned Parenthood notes in their own statement. Nothing in this would destroy the Obamacare mandate. Nothing in this would stop women from getting birth control. All it would do is change how they get it.

Then there’s this gem:

The statement also noted that no prescription drug manufacturer has applied for their pills to be made available over the counter.

As one of my Twitter followers noted, spot the paradox! We can’t make it available over the counter because no one is asking for permission to sell over the counter this thing they legally can’t sell over the counter.

Of course, I’m sure this has nothing to do with Planned Parenthood themselves being a vendor of reproductive services and prescription birth control. Nothing whatsoever. And I’m sure it has nothing to do with the money they get from the federal government and state governments to provide birth control to poor women. And I’m sure it has nothing to do with their political arm wanting to maintain a “war on women” to raise money and campaign against Republicans. God forbid we should defuse that particular line of crap.

It’s funny. Planned Parenthood is an organization I agree with on a number of issues. But the way they approach the issues fills me with revulsion. They are stewed in Culture War rhetoric and a deep hatred of everything Republican. In this case, it has massively warped their vision. Making birth control available over the counter would do a lot to increase women’s access (especially for those who are uninsured). Planned Parenthood’s position is that they oppose it because REPUBLICANS.

If there’s a War on Women, Planned Parenthood is shooting at their own side.

The 13-year-old Desperado

Avery Gagliano is in trouble. Having more than ten unexcused absences from school in the Washington DC public school system, she’s been declared truant. What was she doing? Was she hanging out at the mall? Was she smoking with a bunch of loser? Doing drugs? Voting Republican?

Um, she was being a world-class piano prodigy:

The prodigy, who just turned 13, was one of 12 musicians selected from across the globe to play at a prestigious event in Munich last year and has won competitions and headlined with orchestras nationwide.

But to the D.C. public school system, the eighth-grader from Mount Pleasant is also a truant. Yes, you read that right. Avery’s amazing talent and straight-A grades at Alice Deal Middle School earned her no slack from school officials, despite her parents’ begging and pleading for an exception.

Avery’s parents say they did everything they could to persuade the school system. They created a portfolio of her musical achievements and academic record and drafted an independent study plan for the days she’d miss while touring the world as one of the star pianists selected by a prestigious Lang Lang Music Foundation, run by Chinese pianist Lang Lang, who handpicked Avery to be an international music ambassador.

But the school officials wouldn’t budge, even though the truancy law gives them the option to decide what an unexcused absence is. The law states that an excused absence can be “an emergency or other circumstances approved by an educational institution.”

Avery’s parents can’t afford private school. But I’m hoping some private school will read this article and fall over themselves to give them a discount. I would if I ran a school. It’s also possible that the school will cave now that their idiocy has been splashed all over a newspaper.

The key to understanding the problems in our public education system is the realization that the system does not see kids as individuals who should be enabled to rise to the peak level of their abilities. Nor does it see teachers as the people that can open and develop a child’s mind. It sees the schools as a factory, the teachers as grunt labor and docile little future workers as the product. It sees conformity as the ideal. It exists, in the exact words of “educators” like Arne Duncan, to produce workers for American businesses. Thus the tremendous enthusiasm for universal standards and testing: specification and quality control of the product. Thus the willingness to micromanage teachers and throw the latest greatest education fad at them: what you expect those commoners to know how to teach? Thus the enthusiasm for year-round schooling: more product is better product. Thus the hatred for school choice: it could liberate children from the government system (or even worse, force the system to reform).

Little Avery is a piano genius and a straight-A student and that’s great. But the system doesn’t exist to create piano geniuses or straight-A students. She’s not being an obedient little drone, hobbling her way to the quality-controlled, overmanaged, top-down lesson some Washington bureaucrat has decreed for her. And for that, she must be punished.

Update: The DC schools are claiming it was all a big misunderstanding. The reporter disagrees.

Obamacare not free, and kills jobs – rehash

Those of us that pointed out Obamacare was going to hit everyone, but especially small businesses, hard in the pocketbook, but then also kill jobs, should feel a measure of vindication now that the LSM has been forced to admit that the truth is Obamacare has killed a lot of small business jobs and sucked big money out of the economy, but there is no joy in this information making the light of day after the LSM shills helped the America haters pass this economy killer.

Obamacare is taking a toll on small businesses, according to a new analysis of the effects of the health-care reform law, which found billions of dollars in reduced pay and hundreds of thousands fewer jobs.

Take-home pay at small businesses was trimmed by some $22.6 billion annually because of the Affordable Care Act and related insurance premium hikes, researchers at the American Action Forum, a center-right think tank headed by former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, found in a report released Tuesday.

Individual year-round employees at businesses with 50 to 99 workers lost $935 annually, while those at firms with 20 to 49 workers are out an average of $827.50 per person in take-home pay, the report found.

That report also says that there has been the loss of more than 350,000 jobs due to Obamacare-era premium hikes at small businesses.

You think? Free shit that ain’t free and the usual idiots figured they would demand the evil producers pay for ends up not only costing employees their home pay AND has resulted in reductions in job opportunities? I wonder if they only report on existing jobs that were killed, or if this number accounts for actual jobs that now will never materialize, as people that don’t like the idea that progressives can just rob them blind to buy votes under false pretenses, decide to not play along. My guess is this only accounts for real job losses. The LSM would hate to really have to report on how bad this boondoggle law is. I did find a silver lining though:

In five states, the losses have exceeded more than 20,000 jobs apiece, including Florida, New York, Ohio and Texas. California lost an estimated 42,788 jobs due to Obamacare, the report estimated.

It looks like with the exception of Florida, the states hit hardest, are all progressive bastions. There might be some justice in the universe still, I guess. But the pain has only just begun. While they are not addressing the issue of future small business job losses caused by Obamacare, they are talking about what’s happening, likely in an attempt to paint the small business owners in as negative as possible a light, by claiming that they are preemptively responding to this terrible law.

And those wage and job-level effects have come before the implementation of Obamacare’s employer mandate, which beginning in 2016 will compel firms with 50 to 99 full-time workers to offer them health coverage or pay a fine.

“We find evidence that the labor force is absorbing these detrimental costs even before the government has started enforcing the most stringent ACA regulations,” the report said. “These costs are likely a result of businesses preparing for the employer mandate, providing health insurance to workers and losing access to low-cost coverage.”

Bastages! How dare they do whatever it takes for Obamacare not to put them out of business? Don’t they know that their jobs is just to be the money bags for the progressives and their cockamamie schemes and scams? Profiteers! Healthcare is a right. More government meddling to force them to play along and swallow the poison pill! And all that other nonsense not being spoken, but implied. The evil scum are responding to their civic duty by working within the framework of this insane and costly law to ensure their ability to survive.

Batkins said the research detected a marked response at small businesses to insurance premium prices after the implementation of the ACA in 2010, in contrast to how those employers responded to price hikes before the law was adopted. Specifically, there was a correlation between small businesses’ cutting jobs and workers’ take-home pay being reduced when premiums went up after the ACA took effect, as opposed to before.

“While there was no significant relationship between health-care premiums and employment before the ACA, since 2010 small businesses have slowly started shedding jobs and reducing wages,” the report said.

That nonsense is code for they are also not creating any new jobs as well. Welcome to what everyone predicted about the impact of this behemoth on small businesses, which happen to form the backbone of the American economic engine. Of course, with progressives loving big and married to government, this is a feature to these types. Unfortunately for them though, the mega corps are not going to do much better. Business, those with over the 99 employee threshold, but especially the big conglomerates, usually unionized, that tend to contribute big to democrats in return for special favors, unless they were able to buy an exclusion, are also getting into the game. Many of these entities are looking at the soon to come employer mandates and will be quite happy to drop all insurance for their workforce.

“Obviously, these are huge numbers,” lead author Sam Batkins said about the findings.

And because of the employer mandate coming down the road, “we expect the trends to worsen,” Batkins added.

You think? Wait until employers dump people, en mass, and we all find out, yet again, that the progtards lied about being able to keep your plans, doctors, and decent and affordable coverage. VA quality care for everyone, with longer waits, and at higher prices! But they meant well! Maybe that’s why they are flooding the country with illegals while denying people that are legally applying entry in the country too. They mean well. Let’s look at some numbers:

In all, the $22.6 billion in reduced take-home pay equals 6 percent of all wages in the small-business category.

The 350,000 estimated jobs the report said have been lost in small businesses because of Obamacare came entirely from employers with just 20 to 49 workers.

Again. That’s a big chunk of change, and the numbers that lost employment, while scary and not trivial, pales compared to the fact that new jobs are impacted even worse by this crap law. In the meantime, government employees that are exempt from Obamacare are seeing big raises. There is a reason that Obama decided to push the employer mandate (not to be confused with 2 guys going on a date) past the coming election cycle. These scumbags know it will be devastating, but don’t much care other than it can impact their reelection chances so they can keep their hold on power. Awesome stuff.

Asked if the overall costs to small business employment and wages are warranted by Obamacare’s goal of providing affordable health insurance to millions of uninsured people, and of improving the quality of insurance offered to enrollees, Batkins said, “I think the jury is still out.”

“This report has shown that the costs are fairly high,” Batkins said. “And the enrollment is going to have to be fairly high, as well, to cover the costs.”

Yeah sure, the jury is only out if you can’t admit that this was a horrible and economically crippling idea, because you are riding the “I want to buy your vote with the false promise of free shit” bandwagon. There is no fixing this monstrosity. It needs to be repealed. Killed dead. Then we can go about actually pushing for the things that fix the system and reduce costs instead of helping democrats destroy it so they can push for a single payer system that will finally allow them to use healthcare as yet another cudgel to beat those that will not bow to the all mighty nanny-state into compliance.

NFL Claims Ignorance of Video. Also Gravity and Spacetime

Earlier this year, video emerged of Ravens running back Ray Rice dragging his unconscious fiance — correction, the fiance he had beaten unconscious — out of an elevator. The NFL, in their wisdom, decided to suspend him for a whole … two games. The Ravens kept him on the team. After all, once you’d won two superbowls with a guy involved in a double murder, what’s a little wife-beating among friends?

Today, the other shoe dropped. TMZ released a video from inside the elevator, showing Rice beating his fiance. The NFL suspended Rice indefinitely and the Ravens cut him. I guess they finally have a “context” for a player dragging his fiance out of an elevator after beating her unconscious. Both are saying the never saw the new video before.

I’m not convinced.

I’m not sure if they knew about the video or not (TMZ is hinting that they did). But even with the video, they don’t know anything today they didn’t know yesterday. The only thing that has really changed is the optics. We’ve gone from knowing Rice beat his fiance to actually seeing it happen. Ta-Nehisi:

The NFL claims that it had never seen the video before today. But the video that was already out there, along with the reporting, was bad enough. The idea that it took today’s release to understand the gravity of things is insupportable. You don’t become a sports and entertainment juggernaut through absent-mindedness.

The NFL claims they want to crack down on their violent image. But they never seem to really follow through. They claim they want to stop brutal hits on defenseless players. But dozens of hits go unpunished every week. They just occasionally pop up to fine one that got on ESPN. A couple of years ago, they came down very hard on the Saints for paying bounties to defensive players who injured other players. Last year, another scandal erupted when it turned out that several members of the Dolphins offensive line, notably Richie Incognito, were engaging in brutal bullying of their fellow players. In both cases, there were whispers that this sort of thing was widespread. And while the NFL came down hard on the guilty parties, they didn’t really dig too deep into the NFL’s culture.

Ray Rice is not the only player engaging in a little recreational wife-beating. The league should have made an example of him. But they didn’t; not until it got to this point. This makes me think that their attempts to clean up the league are just window dressing — a way to silence the game’s critics without making any real changes.

What progressivism – Social Justice, in a nut shell – always ends up being.

Venezuela is the latest example of what progressivism works out to be in a nutshell. Chavez, another idiot that gained power passing himself off as a man of the people, and buying votes by promising to rob his country’s producers in the name of some fabricated and idiotic social construct, has ruined what once was a growing and thriving economy. Sure Venezuela had problems and poverty before Chavez, but things are far, far worse, today. Case in point, the death of the goose that laid Venezuela’s golden eggs:

As weird as it seems, President Nicolás Maduro’s government plans to start importing crude oil for the first time in order to blend it with Venezuela’s own crude and keep the country’s overall production from falling further, the Reuters news agency reported last week, citing an internal document from Venezuela’s state-owned PDVSA oil company.

It turns out that Venezuela’s own production of light crudes has plummeted since the late President Hugo Chávez took office in 1999, and the country desperately needs light crudes to blend with its Orinoco Basin extra heavy crude oils. Without such a blend, the Orinoco Basin’s extra heavy crude is too dense to be transported through pipelines to Venezuelan ports and exported abroad.

Venezuela’s oil production, which accounts for 95 percent of the country’s export earnings, should be used in world classrooms as a textbook case of what happens when a populist government starts distributing a country’s wealth in cash subsidies, without investing in maintenance and innovation. Much like happened with Cuba’s once flourishing sugar industry, Venezuela’s Chávez-inspired populism has destroyed the goose that laid the golden eggs.

In 1999, when Chávez took office, PDVSA had 51,000 employees and produced 63 barrels of crude a day per employee. Fifteen years later, PDVSA had 140,000 employees, and produced 20 barrels of crude a day per employee, according to an Aug. 14 report by the France Press news agency.

Venezuela’s net oil exports have plummeted from 3.1 million barrels a day in 1997 to 1.7 million barrels a day in 2013, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates.

Curious to find out how a country with the world’s largest oil reserves can end up importing oil, I called Evanán Romero, a former Venezuelan vice minister of energy and former PDVSA director, who now works as an oil industry consultant.

Romero told me that the Venezuelan government desperately needs to speed up oil exports to get cash, because the government is bankrupt. Inflation has surpassed an annual rate of 60 percent, and Venezuela will be Latin America’s country with the lowest economic growth this year, according to World Bank estimates.

But to speed up oil exports, Venezuela needs to blend its heavy crudes from the Orinoco Basin with lighter imported crudes, because Venezuela is no longer producing enough light crudes of its own. Production of light crudes has fallen because of lack of investments, abandonment of exploration of light crude areas, and the nationalization of companies that used to help produce light crudes.

Venezuela has asked foreign companies that operate in the Orinoco Basin to invest in “upgrading” facilities that help make heavy-crude exportable, but the companies did not want to take that risk because they fear expropriations, or because they don’t think it’s a good investment as long as they are only allowed a minority ownership under government rules.

Collectivists always expect everyone else to sacrifice, and yet, they claim and believe they have the right to take the fruit of other people’s labor, no matter what the consequences of that theft, because they mean well. When others decide not to bend over and grab their ankles every time the progressives come a knocking, they get pissed and accuse them of being greedy. But the truth is nobody causes more harm, destruction, misery, and human indignity than your pretend do-gooder progressive as they steal from those that produce under the pretense of redressing some evil or injustice.

Humanity is heading for another dark age as the labors of the collectivists destroy centuries of progress by their betters. Everywhere that progressives have taken hold, things have gone, are going, or will go bad. The more open the thievery, the quicker the downfall. The Soviet Union and its satellite states imploded in a short 7 decades because they went to one extreme to push their corrupted version of paradise on earth. The last bastions of this idiotic belief are Cuba and North Korea, the Chinese long ago abandoning anything other than the tyranny of progressivist rulership – something that amounts to nothing more than another aristocracy lording it over the serfs, sometimes under the heel of a single madman that bathes in the blood of those he plunges into his contrived misery – in order to maintain power. They are all doomed, including the Chinese, because that system simply destroys man and man’s dignity.

New upstarts like Venezuela show us that those that do it without the usual bloody revolution and the millions of deaths, still lead the unfortunate idiots they have fooled down the same road. Progressivism’s promise of social justice always, without fail, produces misery and indignity. It matters little that they can, in the beginning and for some time, pretend or show that their actions have made things look better: in the end though, their actions produce the same outcome, be it in a short span of time, or over long decades. They destroy everything they touch, and the vital system that produces wealth collapses, leaving everyone living in misery and under the heels of a tyrannical master or oligarchy that thinks more of the same is what is needed to fix the very problem of their making.

Have no doubt that the shit done by the Western democracies is heading the same way. Obama’s reign in the US and his expedited efforts at the destruction of a once great nation, as well as and what’s going on in Europe, should leave no one any doubt that there is any way to salvage the situation if the progressives and their ways are allowed to continue. You can not steal from others – especially when you accuse them of having because they steal – to make things right. Greed and envy are not good emotions to base a philosophy that claims to want to right wrongs on, but that’s progressivism in a nut shell. In the end it only serves to replace whatever group one claims is engaged in some injustice with one person or another group that is doing fare worse evil.

It is time to tell these people to take a long hike off a short pier.

Who’ll Start the Rain?

California is in the grips of a very bad drought? How bad? This bad:

The current drought in California is not only the worst in modern history, but is among the worst in half a millennium. We know this by studying the growth rings of long-lived trees like the Giant Sequoias in the Sierra Nevada, and the Bristlecone pines in the White Mountains of eastern California. In fact, the state has weathered six very dry years since 2007, this year being by far the lowest.

It’s actually worse than the press is letting on. In response to the drought, many areas are drilling down to aquifers and draining them. These are not an easily replenished resource; in fact, the changes that occur after an aquifer is drained may prevent it from ever being filled again. The problem has been exacerbated by California over-allocating water rights by a factor of five and forcing water to be sold at below-market rates.

(And for God’s sake, what’s the heck, California?! It’s the year 2014. Do people still not realize what happens when you force things to be priced below market value?)

Much of the debate going on is about global warming. That’s a useless conversation to have right now. First of all, while there are some indications that global warming may make droughts more likely, it’s impossible to tie any particular event to global warming. This area had an even more severe drought five hundred years ago without any SUVs. Second, blaming global warming does not solve the immediate problem. And third, even if we embarked on a massive campaign to stop global warming today, it would take decades for the effects to be felt. Whatever the cause, this is happening and it needs to be dealt with. And moreover, if we are going to have a drier world, we need to come up with strategies that can be used for future droughts.

Fortunately, there is precedent:

Australia has already pioneered many policies could help. Supplying free and below-cost water encourages users to drain rivers, leaving fish and riparian species high and dry. So the first step is to decide how much water based on the best available science should be allocated to environmental flows. Obviously this process will be politically fraught, but after water rights are allocated they can be purchased to further enhance environmental flows. In Australia, the government has spent $2 billion to purchase private water rights to increase river flows. Currently in California, about 50 percent of freshwater flows are reserved for the environment, although that varies greatly by river basin.

In Australia, water rights were historically tied to specific pieces of land. The reform severed these ties and divided rights into water access entitlements and water allocations. For example, if there is a moderate drought, state agencies might set water allocations to 80 percent of each water entitlement. A person owning 10 acre-feet of water would be able to use eight acre-feet of water that year. Owners can sell their entitlement or their annual allocations. If an irrigator who is allocated 8 acre-feet adopts methods that cut his water use to 6 acre-feet, he can then sell the extra 2 acre-feet for whatever price the market will bear.

This policy guided southeastern Australia through the recent millennium drought. It did so while keeping the vineyards and orchards that needed lots of water intact. At the peak of the drought, water right were very expensive. But now that the drought has ended, they are back to being cheap.

What he’s talking about is essentially cap-and-trade. Cap-and-trade is a little tricky. It’s an idea that arose in conservative think tanks in the 80’s and worked spectacularly to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions and acid rain. But sulphur dioxide was a small market and it was comparatively easy to find way to reduce the emissions of something that wasn’t essential. Cap-and-trade with more abundant substance — carbon dioxide or water — is much more fraught with problems. I have opposed cap and trade for greenhouse gases, for example, because it became obvious that putting cap-and-trade on something so universal would create a huge cesspool of political influence and corruption (and probably not work anyway).

But trading water rights worked very well in Australia. It worked because water is something people consume rather than emit. And so simply providing a market encourages people to cut their consumption the best way they can.

California is slowly moving in that direction. They are also trying other idiotic policies involving micromanagement and dumb politics. But allowing markets in water should be a no brainer. This is Econ 101. Prices are not something that appear by magic or are set by the Illuminati. Prices are information. When the price of something is high that tells you it is scarce and you need to conserve it. Let water prices reflect the realities of California’s situation and you’ll find that people find ways to consume less of it.

This will require some changes at the local level. Many areas in California and other western states have codes that require green lawns despite being in naturally dry areas. But the pressure to change those policies will be much higher when water costs what it costs rather than what state agencies think it should cost.

To be fair, markets won’t solve everything. The dangerous draining of aquifers does require government intervention. Aquifers are a public resource and you can’t create an environment where drilling and draining aquifers is a sound business plan. I suspect the best plan may be something like what we’ve seen used to replenish dangerously depleted fish stocks: the sale of aquifer “shares” that cap the amount that can be drained and encourage better management.

Whatever the solution, California’s water shortage and water crisis have been made by decades of idiot policies. Refining those policies or adding even more idiocy to them is not the solution. Turning to markets might be part of one.

McCollum and Brown Freed

Chalk another exoneration up to DNA evidence:

Thirty years after their convictions in the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl in rural North Carolina, based on confessions that they quickly repudiated and said were coerced, two mentally disabled half brothers were declared innocent and ordered released Tuesday by a judge here.

The case against the men, always weak, fell apart after DNA evidence implicated another man whose possible involvement had been somehow overlooked by the authorities even though he lived only a block from where the victim’s body was found, and he had admitted to committing a similar rape and murder around the same time.

The startling shift in fortunes for the men, Henry Lee McCollum, 50, who has spent three decades on death row, and Leon Brown, 46, who was serving a life sentence, provided one of the most dramatic examples yet of the potential harm from false, coerced confessions and of the power of DNA tests to exonerate the innocent.

It’s cases like this that have moved me to a neutral position on the death penalty and now have me leaning against it. Had we gotten the speedy execution that many wanted, not only would we have executed two innocent men, the real murderer might never have been identified.

In the end, the case against the death penalty is not a liberal one. I’m not terribly moved by appeals to mercy for those who have none. Nor do I think executing men who rape and murder little girls makes us “no better than them”; there is a colossal moral difference between raping and murdering a child and executing that murderer. No, the case against the death penalty is a conservative one: that the government has demonstrated, a couple of hundred times now*, that it can not be trusted with the power to execute people.

For death penalty supporters, the horrifying facts of the girl’s rape and murder only emphasized the justice of applying the ultimate penalty. As recently as 2010, the North Carolina Republican Party put Mr. McCollum’s booking photograph on campaign fliers that accused a Democratic candidate of being soft on crime, according to The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C.

In 1994, when the United States Supreme Court turned down a request to review the case, Justice Antonin Scalia described Mr. McCollum’s crime as so heinous that it would be hard to argue against lethal injection.

This crime was particularly heinous. If there was anyone you’d want executed, it would be two mean who raped and murdered an 11-year-old girl. But does the horror of the crime justify potentially executing the wrong men? Is that horror not compounded by the man who committed this horrible crime getting away with it for thirty years? We were lucky he was arrested before he could do it again. In the Michael Morton case, where an innocent man was sent to prison for life because of prosecutorial misconduct, we were not so lucky. The real killer likely murdered another woman two years later. Would we know that if Morton had been unjustly executed instead of being sent to prison for 25 years?

Ultimately, I keep circling back to the victim in this case, a girl who was the same age as me when she was so brutally killed. If she had not been slain by Roscoe Artis, she would now be 42, possibly with a family of her own. When a child is murdered, an entire universe of possibility is destroyed. For all the mocking Scalia is getting on the liberal blogs, he was right: it is hard to argue against lethal injection for someone who would do such a thing. Frankly, it’s hard to argue against beating them to death right there in the courtroom. But an execution wouldn’t have brought Sabrina Buie back. And I don’t see there is any value in adding two more tragedies to that one. And for someone depraved and evil enough to do such a thing, I don’t think the threat of the death penalty is what’s holding them back.

Two innocent men have been freed and a guilty man identified. That’s something and we should be happy about it. But we came very close to killing two innocent men for a horrifying crime they didn’t commit. And it’s not the first time. That should give us all pause.

(*Hard numbers on the number of death row inmates exonerated are surprisingly difficult to come by. Anti-death penalty advocates say it’s a couple of hundred. Pro death-penalty advocates say it’s less than that, but admit to at least a few dozen.)

Let Them Drive Electric

I’m not overly fond of the Tesla automobile. It’s publicly-supported rich man’s toy that hasn’t made huge technological strides but likes to pretend it has. And I’m dubious that it will ever be anything other than a curiosity. The last decade has seen big leaps in fuel efficiency in our automobile fleet. Part of this is because people are demanding and buying more efficient cars. A little bit of it is hybrids. And much more of it just good engineering:

When many people think of fuel economy, they think hybrids or electric cars. But that’s only part of the story. The chart above shows various efficiency technologies that have become more prevalent since 2008.

As it turns out, improvements to the existing combustion engine has been a huge source of innovation over the last five years. There’s gasoline direct injection, which is a more efficient technique for delivering fuel to the engine. Or there’s cylinder deactivation to save fuel. These get less attention than electric cars, but they’re key advances.

I was recently in Montana and my in-laws had an SUV that got as good mileage as my old Ford sedan. Direct injection, a continuously variable transmission, variable valve timing — all of these combined to make it a reasonable vehicle.

But despite my distaste for the Tesla, this is ridiculous. Tesla is being banned in many states from selling cars directly to the consumer.

This week, the Georgia Automobile Dealers Association filed a petition with the state’s Department of Revenue in an attempt to bar further sales of Tesla sedans. Such battles have erupted in numerous states, from Missouri to New Jersey. In the latest issue of Regulation, University of Michigan Law professor Daniel Crane argues that dealer distribution restrictions are based on faulty ideas of consumer protection. Traditional dealers claim that competition among a brand’s dealers prevents the manufacturer from “gouging” consumers and extracting monopoly profits. Crane argues that standard economic theory demonstrates that these claims are nonsense. Firms with market power will be able to claim monopoly profits, regardless of whether middlemen, such as dealerships, are involved.

Moreover, by restricting competition among business models for auto sales, laws such as those in Georgia stifle competition among automakers. When companies such as Tesla seek to lower costs through innovative business designs, they face costly regulatory hurdles and legal challenges such as the sales ban in Georgia. These laws protect existing dealers and hurt consumers.

This is about more than Tesla, which is filling a niche market at best. Indeed, that’s a big reason they want to sell direct instead of through dealers. What this is about is other companies, companies that have not been born yet but could potentially compete with the big automakers. Imagine if, instead of having a handful of huge automakers, you had a hundred Teslas out there, all upending the market in their own way. Won’t someone please think of the unions?

Similar laws protected wine distributors in various states until the Supreme Court struck it down for violating the interstate commerce powers of the federal government. Of course, several states — including my own — have refused to comply with the ruling in the nine years since that decision hoping they can rope in enough Congressmen to re-institute the shipping restrictions. In light of SCOTUS’s precedent, I can’t see that the auto dealer cartels can possibly be legal. But I don’t expect anything to be done.