Free Markets, Free People

Freedom and Liberty

All around the cobbler’s bench …

The monkey and weasel are disgusted.


Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is denying it, but a senior law enforcement source has told Fox Newsthat she gave an order for police to stand down as riots broke out Monday night.

“The source, who is involved in the enforcement efforts, confirmed to Fox News there was a direct order from the mayor to her police chief Monday night, effectively tying the hands of officers as they were pelted with rocks and bottles.

Asked directly if the mayor was the one who gave that order, the source said: “You are G*d damn right it was.””

This claim follows Rawlings-Blake’s comments on Sunday, when she said they were giving space to those who “wished to destroy.” On Monday, she tried (unsuccessfully) to walk that comment back.

Happy, happy … just let ’em do a little looting and trashing and all will be well.  Oh, and let’s redefine a few things shall we?

The mayor, in an interview with Fox News’ Bill Hemmer on Tuesday, denied any order was issued to hold back on Monday.

“You have to understand, it is not holding back. It is responding appropriately,” she said, saying there was no stand-down directive.

Responding appropriately?  I wonder how “appropriately” she’d have responded had it been, say, her house or business they were looting and trashing.  Absolutely no respect for private property.  None.  And nonsense excuse making to boot.

The big question:

Yes, the dirty little secret that no one wants to admit is that Baltimore, and so many other urban areas and inner city communities in America are a reflection of the abject failure of liberal progressive socialist policies as advanced by the Democrat party.

The preeminent question is whether or not those in Baltimore and other places will recognize who is truly responsible for their plight. Or will they continue to be manipulated and propagandized by the liberal progressive media and the poverty pimps like the one supposedly heading down from New York City.

Most of us can answer that question – “they continue to be manipulated and propagandized by the liberal progressive media and the poverty pimps like the one supposedly heading down from New York City.”  Oh, and the Republicans.  Just watch 2016.  The “plantation” has a huge hold.

Next question.

Apparently Ben Affleck is mortified by his ancestors:

This brings the total number of Affleck’s known slaveholding ancestors to 14, and the number of slaves either owned or “held” as a trustee or on behalf of an estate by these ancestors to 242.

It seems that this was discovered while doing a PBS program and Affleck asked they be, uh, unmentioned.  You see, he is ashamed of them.

Okay, I can understand that … however, why hide it?  Why not say, hey they were wrong, what they did was wrong and I certainly don’t support what they did.  Seems to me that would be much more powerful than trying to hide the past.  And, to quote Hillary Clinton – “what difference does it make”?!

Oh, liberal credentials of course.  And white guilt.  Dude has to hand in the credentials and burn with white guilt.  Pity.

Anyone wonder what Ben would have done if he’d been born during that era to one of his slaveholding ancestors?  Yeah, I think Ben wonders that as well.  Heh.

If you need another example of “crony capitalism” (and I put that in quotes because this is no more capitalism than lead is gold), it is playing out with the FDA and a couple of Senators … oh, and their corporate cronies:

People who are trying to do good for their families and the planet by living a simple life based on traditional skills are facing yet another assault. Artisanal soap makers say new regulations, proposed by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), will put them out of business. Many soap makers are rural “kitchen table” operations that rely on the income to fund their simple living lifestyle.  Some use milk from goats they raise and ingredients they harvest from the land.

The form includes a statement on behalf of handmade body care product makers that says, in part: “My products comply with FDA labeling requirements and the ingredients are commonly known (i.e, olive oil, oatmeal, sugar, coconut oil, etc).  My best customers are in my community. I cannot afford the user fees proposed in S. 1014. Further, my business has no capacity to do the reporting requirements for each product batch (10-50 units) as it could be several hundred FDA filings per month.” Those who sell online will also be affected.*

The view of Sen. Feinstein and her corporate backers (listed below) is that the Personal Care Products Safety Act (Senate Bill S.1014) will make the world a safer place by scrutinizing “everything from shampoo and hair dye to deodorant and lotion.” She introduced the amendment to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, because of troubling negative health effects from chemicals used in personal care products.  She says the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act should be more progressive like laws in Europe rather than antiquated US regulations in effect since the 1930s.

Yes, friends, having solved all the important problems of the world, our Senatorial nannies are going to back their corporate sponsors and attempt to regulate out of business this incredible threat to the American public.  And who are their Corporate sponsors?

Companies and brands that support the bill:
Johnson & Johnson, brands include Neutrogena, Aveeno, Clean & Clear, Lubriderm, Johnson’s baby products.
Procter & Gamble, including Pantene, Head & Shoulders, Clairol, Herbal Essences, Secret, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Ivory, CoverGirl, Olay, Sebastian Professional, Vidal Sassoon.
Revlon, brands include Revlon, Almay, Mitchum
Esteee Lauder, brands include Esteee Lauder, Clinique, Origins, Tommy Hilfiger, MAC, La Mer, Bobbi Brown, Donna Karan, Aveda, Michael Kors.
Unilever, brands include Dove, Tresemme, Lever, St. Ives, Noxzema, Nexxus, Pond’s, Suave, Sunsilk, Vaseline, Degree.
L’Oreeal, brands include L’Oreeal Paris, Lancome, Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, Kiehl’s, Essie, Garnier, Maybelline-New York, Vichy, La Roche-Posay, The Body Shop, Redken.
It almost makes you laugh, it is so transparantly obvious what is going on here.  But here’s the official justification:
Feinstein says her proposal is a “streamlined national system of oversight” and it won’t cost the taxpayer anything because it’s funded by industry user fees (until they pass the extra cost to the consumer, that is). Big multinational soap makers may be able to manage the increased fees and paperwork called for by Senate Bill S.1014 but the the Handmade Cosmetic Alliance says they will cripple their cottage industries. They tried to explain this to Feinstein without success.
Same old crap, different day.  Run the little guy out of business and, with additional fees, raise the price to the consumer.  Also note that while there is a period of “public input” the die seems to be cast.  No one is listening … it’s all pro-forma.
‘Merica … where it is important we be more like Europe, because they’ve done such a bang up job over there.

Approaching the cliff or already over it?

Reading over at PJ Media I ran across this by Robert Wargas:

As Baltimore burned, the rest of us tweeted.

The riots followed a weekend in which GoFundMe shut down a fundraising page for a Christian-owned bakery that was hit with a huge fine for refusing to serve a gay wedding. GoFundMe has said its policy precludes raising money “in defense of formal charges of heinous crimes, including violent, hateful, or sexual acts.” The key word here is “hateful”: if you can expand or contract that word at will—which many people in this country can and do—you can accomplish anything.

Every week this country is consumed in a new distended orgy of polarized, mutual hatred, set against the backdrop of outrage mobs, race riots, shuttered businesses, scandals, Twitter-induced career ruination, gleeful smear parties, and partisan hackery.

Admit it: You’ve asked yourself where America is going, and how long it can survive the trip. Admit it.

I admit it.  In fact, we’ve been talking about it for years here.  The fact that it is accelerating comes as no real surprise here.  Nor does it come as a surprise that we have the “leadership”, or lack thereof, in Washington DC from which we currently suffer.

In fact, Wargas points out something that Ace at Ace of Spades was wondering the other day:

[T]he New Normal has prompted Ace of Spades to ask: “Is it time to formally separate America into two or more sovereign nations?”

“No one actually seems happy in this national marriage,” writes Ace. That is sadly true.

Indeed it is.  And it seems, at least to the side that loves liberty, that the anti-liberty faction in winning.

Of course, our own Dale Franks has been suggesting this may happen for years.  It sort of puts you in the same shoes as generations of Christians who’ve looked at what was happening all around them and asked “are we in the “end times” as foretold in the Bible?”

Are we at the edge of seeing this 200 plus year experiment go careening off a cliff?

Who knows?  In my experience, something like this has to get a lot worse than it is for that to happen.  And we have to remember that we’re bombarded daily with, well, what bleeds leads.

Certainly though, bombardment or not, it is clear that we’re not “doing better” as a country in just about any category you can point too.

The question is, as in our last civil war, are there irreconcilable differences?  There certainly were then and it appears there are now.  How does one paper over such differences when neither side seems willing to give?

I’m not so sure “getting better” is possible anymore, or at least not possible before some major rupture once again makes it possible. I hope I’m wrong. I hope I look back at this post in 2020 and laugh at myself. But who honestly thinks they’ll be laughing in 2020?

I’m not so sure either.  However, here’s a little bit of a test to see if there’s even a chance.  From Elizabeth Price Foley over at Insty’s:

LORETTA LYNCH’S FIRST TEST:   She’s sending two DOJ officials to Baltimore to meet with community leaders.  That’s good.  But the real question is:  What will they do and say, once they arrive?  Will they mimic Erick Holder’s DOJ, and prioritize lectures about white privilege and racism?  Or will they provide a voice of calm and reason, and unequivocally condemn the random violence?

Lynch has a chance to break with the embarrassingly biased Holder past and start rebuilding trust in DOJ as a department interested in actual justice (for all).  Will she take it?

Bets anyone?


More stray voltage

Has anyone been following this “raisin taking” case before SCOTUS? It has to do with the government literally taking a portion of a producers crop because they want to keep prices artificially high:

The forced transfer is part of a 1937 program that requires farmers to turn over a large portion of their raisin crop to the government so as to artificially reduce the amount of raisins on the market, and thereby increase the price. Essentially, the scheme is a government-enforced cartel under which producers restrict production so as to inflate prices.

And, of course, you know who loses – consumers. And producers. But note the program’s birthdate – yup, a New Deal bit of nonsense that should have long been trashed. Given how the oral arguments went yesterday before the SCOTUS, it may soon see the dumpster. The government first tried to argue that it really wasn’t a “taking”. That didn’t go well. So:

[Deputy Solicitor General Edwin] Kneedler put most of his emphasis on the argument that there is no taking because the Hornes and other raisin farmers actually benefit from the program that confiscates their raisins. In the words of Justice Antonin Scalia, the government’s argument here is that the Hornes are actually “ingrates” who should be grateful for the government’s largesse. As several justices emphasized, even if the Hornes really do benefit from the confiscation of their property, that does not change the reality that a taking has occurred. The fact that property owners benefit in some way from the taking of their property may affect the level of compensation they are owed. But it does not change the reality that a taking has occurred in the first place. Justice Samuel Alito noted that the government’s logic leads to the conclusion that there is no taking in any situation where the government seizes personal property for purposes that might potentially benefit the owners in some way.

The most important argument, and the one usually overlooked or ignored, is as follows:

If private firms tried to establish a similar program on their own, the government would bust them for a blatant violation of antitrust law.

So why is our government doing it?

The Advice Goddess (Amy Alkon) takes on “trigger warnings” and does a very credible job explaining why they and those who would impose them should be ignored:

I’ve thought this for a while. They are yet another way for people who have done nothing noteworthy to get attention and have unearned power over others.

In fact, she entitles her piece “Trigger Warnings: A Form of Covert Narcissism.”  She also quotes a Kent State professor who “gets it”:

Kent University’s professor of sociology Frank Furedi claims that calls for trigger warnings are a form of “narcissism,” with a student’s desire to assert their own importance acting as more of a factor than the content they are exposed to.

In other words, it’s a form of avoidance they can lay on the person who “triggers” them.

This brings me to my favorite line in the Alkon trigger warning piece:

And as I’ve noted before: If you are so emotionally traumatized by the normal college curriculum, you do belong in an institution, but not one of “higher learning.”


The Climate Change Nazis are just not happy with “liberal democracy” because, you know, it depends on the will of the people instead of the will of the all knowing elite. Some selected passages from a piece by  Mark Triffitt (Lecturer, Public Policy at University of Melbourne), and Travers McLeod, Honorary Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences at University of Melbourne:

… Specifically, the failure to tackle climate change speaks to an overall failure of our liberal democratic system…

… Successfully tackling climate change and other big policy challenges depends on making tangible the intangible crisis of liberal democracy.

It means understanding that liberal democracy’s governance machinery – and the static, siloed policy responses generated by such democracies – is no longer fit for purpose.

So, solution? (I bet you can guess):

[D]emocratic powers should be transferred to unelected bureaucrats, who would still somehow be “accountable” to parliament, despite having “staying power” beyond individual political cycles.

Or in their own words:

Granting more decision-making power to institutions independent of the government of the day, but still accountable to parliaments (such as the Parliamentary Budget Office or Infrastructure Australia). This would increase the capacity of policy planning and decision processes to have staying power beyond individual political cycles.

Yes, because when the party in power is the same party that wants whatever the bureaucracy wants, oversight is so exceptional and wonderful and our freedoms are protected to the nth degree – not!   There are closet despots everywhere, and especially among the climate alarmist crowd.

And finally there is the Hill/Billy update, this one concerning a uranium deal with the Russians:

The latest installment in the ongoing saga of shady Clinton Foundation finances is a story involving a deal in which Russians took take greater control of a major U.S. uranium company, Uranium One.

The details are somewhat involved, but the gist is that because the takeover deal involved uranium, a strategic asset, it required approval from then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Around the same time the deal was going through, the Clinton Foundation took millions of dollars in donations from a foundation run by the founder of Uranium One and did not disclose the transaction, in defiance of an arrangement made with the Obama administration to identify Clinton Foundation donors. In addition, Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 by a Russian financial firm linked to the Kremlin for a speech in Moscow as the deal was happening. The New York Times has an extensive report, building on work from Peter Schweizer’s book about the Clinton Foundation’s foreign funding, Clinton Cashhere.

The questions raised by the story are obvious: Did the millions in donations to the Clinton Foundation, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to Bill Clinton for his speech, have any influence on Clinton’s decision as Secretary of State to approve the project?

Seriously?  You have to ask that question?

The reaction to the story from team Clinton, meanwhile, does not exactly inspire confidence that the Clintons have been entirely transparent about what transpired.

For example, Fox News reporters, also drawing from Schweizer’s book, dug into various aspects of the story, and found evidence that officials from Kazakhstan’s state-owned energy company Kazatomprom visited with Bill Clinton at his home in New York to inquire about a possible deal with Westinghouse, which is also involved in the nuclear energy business. When contacted about the meeting by Fox News, a Clinton Foundation spokesperson denied that the meeting had ever happened. But when Fox News produced photos of the meeting, the Clinton spokesperson changed the story and said that it had happened.

In short, Clinton’s spokesperson flatly lied about a meeting Bill Clinton had with foreign officials, and admitted the truth only when presented with evidence to the contrary.

“Flatly lied”.  Or as most would put it, “business as usual”.


The face of creeping totalitarianism

Someone named Tanya Cohen penned a paragraph that, if you understand the difference between a right and a privilege, will make you cringe in horror:

One of the most admirable things about Europe is that most (if not all) of the right-wing rhetoric that you hear in the US is explicitly against the law there.  For example, attempting to link Islam with terrorism, saying that gay marriage isn’t really marriage, or saying that trans women aren’t really women would get you charged with discrimination and/or incitement to hatred.  Numerous European public figures have been charged with hate crimes for implying that large-scale immigration is connected to higher crime.  In fact, a politician in Sweden was prosecuted for hate crimes for posting statistics about immigrant crime on Facebook.  Assaults on the human dignity of Muslims are simply not tolerated in Europe, and Europe cracks down hard on any attempts to incite hatred against Muslims.  In a notable example, a woman in Austria was convicted of a hate crime for suggesting that the Islamic Prophet Muhammed was a pedophile.  Recently, a man in Sweden was charged with incitement to ethnic hatred for wearing a T-shirt saying “Islam is the devil.”  Nobody in Europe believes that these laws interfere with their sacred, guaranteed right to freedom of speech.  Rather, these laws protect freedom of speech by ensuring that it is used responsibly and for the purposes of good.

There are so many awful things about this paragraph it is hard to know where to start.  First, however, a right is something you have to ask no one’s permission to exercise.  It would be fairly synonymous with “freedom”.  So when you say “freedom of speech” it is something you exercise without permission.

A privilege, however, is something which is granted by some authority which defines what is or isn’t acceptable.  It is something which can be withdrawn, basically by whim. What she lauds Europe for is “privilege of speech”, and she just happens to agree the speech they’re punishing is “hateful”.  You have to wonder if she’d feel the same way if her opinions were labeled as hate speech (and frankly, to any freedom loving person, it is hate speech).

That’s the other thing about what she notes here – every one of her cites involves someone’s opinion.  What she celebrates isn’t freedom but conformity of opinion decided by some authority. Her.  And she’s fine with using the coercive power of the state to punish opinion which she and those in authority decide constitutes “hate”.  Remember Hayek’s definition of freedom?  “Freedom is the absence of coercion.”

“Freedom of speech” as a right means that while we may “abhor what someone says”, we will “defend unto death their right to say it”.   Her interpretation of “freedom of speech” is we may “abhor what someone says” and we reserve the right to “punish them for it” if it conflicts with “proper thought” on the subject.  How screwed up is that?

I can’t imagine a more dangerous idea than what this woman is presenting.  It is the germ seed of totalitarianism.  It is what has infested our institutions of higher learning thanks to leftist infiltration.  These aren’t “progressive” ideas she’s presenting.  They are as old as slavery. They are as old as dictatorship.  Cohen then goes on to attempt the redefinition of “repressive”:

Consider the case of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson.  In a civilized country with basic human rights, Phil Robertson would have been taken before a government Human Rights Tribunal or Human Rights Commission and given a fine or prison sentence for the hateful and bigoted comments that he made about LGBT people.  In the US, however, he was given no legal punishment, even though his comments easily had the potential to incite acts of violence against LGBT people, who already face widespread violence in the deeply homophobic American society – and his comments probably DID incite acts of violence against LGBT people.

Most countries have freedom of speech, but only in the US is “freedom of speech” so restrictive and repressive.  Not only is the US the only country without any laws against hateful or offensive speech, but it’s also the only country where the government cannot ban any movies, books, or video games, no matter how dangerous, demeaning to human dignity, or harmful to society they may be.

So, says Cohen, “civilized” countries have restrictive speech codes that define what is or isn’t acceptable speech and jail those who violate them.  A country in which you have the right to state your opinion without censure or fear of punishment is “restrictive and repressive”.  Black is white, up is down.

Apparently what she doesn’t understand about our “freedom of speech” is it is specifically identified as a ban against government doing precisely what she wants.  It bans government from abridging free speech.  It protects everyone from government interference and oppression.  She calls specifically for government to be the instrument of punishment of speech she doesn’t like.  Given her freedom hating rhetoric, we can then assume that “civilized” can be interpreted to mean “totalitarian.”

She then makes an absolutely incorrect assertion:

In Europe and Australia and the rest of the civilized world, the ultra-libertarian, free speech absolutist position is that not all offensive speech should be illegal, but that incitement to hatred should always be illegal.

No, Ms. Cohen, that is absolutely incorrect.  Wrong.  No.

Libertarians agree that incitement to violence isn’t a part of your right to free speech.  Because, you see, libertarians believe you are free to exercise your rights as long as they don’t violate the rights of others. It is that difference that separates the free from you. Incitement to violence against another is indeed a violation of the right to free speech.  Other than that, a person gets to say what they want – it is the price of freedom, a price you are unwilling to pay.  Your path is the road to serfdom.  Stating your own beliefs without the fear of censure or punishment, as long as you don’t try to incite violence by doing so, even though others vehemently disagree with you, is freedom of speech.  There are plenty of ways for society to punish what it considers to be hate speech – just ask Westboro Baptist Church.  That’s how a free country takes out its trash.


Before moving to the US to work with human rights organizations here, I grew up in Australia, which is a much more civilized and progressive country than the comparatively backwards United States, with a much deeper respect for basic human rights.

Condescending and wrong.

Qantas is ready when your are, Ms. Cohen.



The usual nonsense from the usual suspects

Executive and regulatory over reach, aka trashing the Constitution?  Even Lawrence Tribe has problems with the Obama agenda:

As President Obama forges ahead in his fight against climate change, a leading Harvard Law School scholar says a central piece of the president’s strategy is akin to “burning the Constitution” merely to advance an environmental agenda.

In testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday, Harvard constitutional law professor Laurence H. Tribe said the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants is built on a shaky legal foundation. The proposal, Mr. Tribe argues, far exceeds EPA’s authority under federal law and strikes a blow to the 10th Amendment by essentially making states subservient to Washington on energy and environmental matters.

Mr. Tribe’s testimony — with which other legal scholars strongly disagreed during Tuesday’s hearing — comes about a month before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in a case that challenges EPA’s so-called “Clean Power Plan,” which would limit pollution from both new and existing power plants and is designed to reduce coal use across the country.

“EPA’s proposal raises grave constitutional questions, exceeds EPA’s statutory authority and violates the Clean Air Act,” said Mr. Tribe, who has argued before the Supreme Court dozens of times and represented Al Gore in the case that ultimately decided the 2000 presidential election.

“EPA is attempting an unconstitutional trifecta — usurping the prerogatives of the states, the Congress and the federal courts all at once,” he continued. “Burning the Constitution of the United States … cannot be a part of our national energy policy.”

But this president and his bureaucracy have no problem with this sort of over reach because, as I’ve mentioned before, gutless Republicans, who could withhold funding for this sort of misbehavior, haven’t the gonads for it.  They’re worthless.

Meanwhile our petulant and juvenile President can’t find it in himself to act Presidential when an ally wins an election:

On CNN this morning, White House aide David Simas avoided congratulating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the Israeli elections. Instead, he would only congratulate the Israeli people on having an election.

“We want to congratulate the Israeli people for the democratic process for the election that they just engaged in with all the parties that engaged in that election. As you know now, the hard work of coalition building begins. Sometimes that takes a couple of weeks. And we’re going to give space to the formation of that coalition government and we’re not going to weigh in one way or another except to say that the United States and Israel have a historic and close relationship and that will continue going forward,” Simas said.

Blah, blah, blah.  Of course, when it came to Erdogan, Sisi, Putin, and even Iran’s Rouhani … all over it, man.  Our one real and true ally in the region?  Yeah, not so much.

And finally:
Hillary Clinton continues to be a dominant force heading into the 2016 presidential election, according to a new CNN/ORC poll. The former secretary of state maintains a broad lead over the field of potential Democratic challengers she could face in a nomination contest and sizable advantages over the leading contenders from the Republican side in general election match-ups.
Because … well, apparently much of the left agrees that laws are for the little people, and enough of the middle goes along to make her corruption and blatant disregard for the law a minor event soon to be forgotten (and forgiven, I guess).  They prefer the bad reality show the next Clinton presidency would bring I suppose, and seem to be fine with the continued decline of a once great country.
Her job? Just keep the free stuff coming.

Oil glut continues, CO2 didn’t rise last year and Gore wants all “deniers” treated as criminals

Hopefully, given Hillary’s latest scandal, Al Gore will be the only thing left standing on the Democratic side when the election rolls around. Because, well, because the Democrats deserve him.  And Ezra Klein is all for him filling in for the “inevitable one.”

But that’s not my main subject today.  Two notes of interest that are likely to get the short shrift in the press with all the usual nonsense flying around.


Global emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide did not rise last year for the first time in 40 years without the presence of an economic crisis. “This is a real surprise. We have never seen this before,” said IEA chief economist, Fatih Birol, named recently as the agency’s next executive director.

So here is what is likely to happen.  With this bit of news, you can expect to see a huge push by the Chicken Little contingent to claim credit and victory.  Why see what they’ve done!  Never mind the fact that the temperature hasn’t risen in over 10 years and forget about that brutal winter you’ve just survived.  We’re winning against “global warming”.

Trust me … you’ll see it soon.  Of course there will be no science to support their claims, but then that’s nothing new, is it?

Meanwhile, in the face of all that, Japan is increasing its use of coal as it continues to replace nuclear energy and we’re in the midst of an oil glut that doesn’t appear ready to tail off anytime soon.


“Yet US supply so far shows precious little sign of slowing down. Quite to the contrary, it continues to defy expectations,” said the IEA in its monthly Oil Market Report, which sharply revised up its output estimates for the end of last year and forecasts for the begging of 2015.

With US crude stocks striking all-time records, it noted storage capacity limits may soon be tested.

So cheap gas?  Oh, yes, much cheaper than the Obama Administration and the Greenies would like.

The question then is with an abundance of cheap gas and other petro products, no warming in over 10 years and evidence that we’re not increasing the CO2 emissions, how inclined to you think the average joe is going to be to change his habits?

Yeah, not very.  In fact, my guess is he’ll be quite resistant to the idea as he tools around in his SUV.

So, please, bring on the Goracle.

We need the entertainment.


Again, what’s $15 times zero?

A “told you so” follow up on that $15 minimum wage hike in Seattle (and coming to San Francisco soon):

Seattle’s $15 minimum wage law goes into effect on April 1, 2015. As that date approaches, restaurant across the city are making the financial decision to close shop. The Washington Policy Center writes that “closings have occurred across the city, from Grub in the upscale Queen Anne Hill neighborhood, to Little Uncle in gritty Pioneer Square, to the Boat Street Cafe on Western Avenue near the waterfront.”

Of course, restaurants close for a variety of reasons. But, according to Seattle Magazine, the “impending minimum wage hike to $15 per hour” is playing a “major factor.” That’s not surprising, considering “about 36% of restaurant earnings go to paying labor costs.” Seattle Magazine,

“Washington Restaurant Association’s Anthony Anton puts it this way: “It’s not a political problem; it’s a math problem.”

“He estimates that a common budget breakdown among sustaining Seattle restaurants so far has been the following: 36 percent of funds are devoted to labor, 30 percent to food costs and 30 percent go to everything else (all other operational costs).  The remaining 4 percent has been the profit margin, and as a result, in a $700,000 restaurant, he estimates that the average restauranteur in Seattle has been making $28,000 a year.

“With the minimum wage spike, however, he says that if restaurant owners made no changes, the labor cost in quick service restaurants would rise to 42 percent and in full service restaurants to 47 percent.”

Key quote: “It’s not a political problem; it’s a math problem.”  Of course it is a “political problem” because it is clueless politics that pushed this.  However, for the owners, it is indeed a “math problem”. And the math for staying open doesn’t add up.

Are there alternatives to closing.  Sure.  But they’re the same ones we’ve talked about for years:

Restaurant owners, expecting to operate on thinner margins, have tried to adapt in several ways including “higher menu prices, cheaper, lower-quality ingredients, reduced opening times, and cutting work hours and firing workers,” according to The Seattle Times and Seattle Eater magazine. As the Washington Policy Center points out, when these strategies are not enough, businesses close, “workers lose their jobs and the neighborhood loses a prized amenity.”

Welcome to the land of $17 dollar cheeseburger.  And, as you can figure out fairly quickly, everything else will be more expensive too … which, of course, erodes the purchasing power of that $15 wage.  More importantly, if you work for one of those establishments that is closing, your wage is $15 times zero hours, isn’t it?



Government is problem #1

Or so the most recent Gallup poll says:

pm7sqx2akuocbruzcjlhwaHere’s a quiz for you – name the one “problem” that this administration has given top priority that doesn’t even make the list?

Yes, that’s right – climate change.

Notice the top “problem”, and apparently increasingly seen as such by more and more Americans.

Notice also that every other problem listed is one in which government has at least a finger in if not stuck in it up to the elbow.

Our public education system is not good – it’s run by the government.  Our federal budget is a disaster – government ill-discipline.  Foreign policy doesn’t exist – government malfeasance.  Terrorism is increasing – government ineptitude.  National security at risk – government incompetence.  Race relations – government partisan bias.  Poverty – government enabling.  And healthcare – don’t even get me started. Etc. etc.

Every “problem” under the top problem have become more of a problem because of government meddling, incompetence, over-reach, bumbling, malfeasance or partisan bias.

And yet one of Obama’s stated goals as president was to again make big government “cool”.

Well, heck of a job there, Barack.


Where’s the “treason?”

You know, anymore you have to wait a couple of days for the hysteria to settle before you can figure out what may or may not have happened.   And unfortunately, our “National Enquirer” media is usually the leaders of the hysteria.

This supposed “treasonous” letter, for instance.  Finally, Jennifer Rubin lends a little sanity to what have been the equivalent of click bait headlines these past few days.


[T]he letter was “open” — that is, akin to an op-ed, not dropped in the mail with a Tehran address. This is not a private negotiation or even a message primarily to the Iranians; it was a statement concerning the president’s powers, in contravention of prior promises, to make an critically important deal without Congress. It was unfortunate that it was not instead a letter to the editor or the president; the content would have been the same and Democrats would have been deprived of a silly but unifying talking point. But let’s get to the reason it had to be sent in the first place. As Jeb Bush noted in a statement, “The Senators are reacting to reports of a bad deal that will likely enable Iran to become a nuclear state over time. They would not have been put in this position had the Administration consulted regularly with them rather than ignoring their input.”

Can’t begin to see how that measures up to “treason”.  I can see how the subversion of the Constitution could lead in that direction though.

Second it is a warning to Iran to deal straight with the President:

Republicans are saying to the mullahs they’d better not sucker the president into a sweetheart deal because ultimately that deal will have to pass muster with Congress. Any savvy negotiator would use that to say to the mullahs they need to deliver more, not less, because of the ornery lawmakers. But Obama is so determined to give the mullahs whatever they demand he cannot recognize bargaining leverage when it is staring him in the face. It is only when you are trying to give away the store that you consider a letter warning the mullahs the bar will be high for a deal to be “sabotage.”

So instead, it’s backing this idiot’s sucker’s President’s play.  They’ve actually managed to give Obama some leverage and Obama is rejecting it for heaven sake.


The letter was meant to highlight a point about which critics have not quarreled: The president can have a binding treaty with Senate approval, or he can have an executive agreement that may be null and void when he leaves office. (If he has told the Iranians otherwise, either he is confused or he is selling snake oil.)

Got that?  Deal straight and make the sort of deal we will approve in the Senate.

But, as Rubin points out, there’s a bigger question:

What does the president think he is negotiating if he intends to keep Congress in the dark and present a fait accompli?

Does he understand that if he thinks its a “treaty” and it doesn’t go before (and get passed by) the Senate, it isn’t worth a war bucket of spit?  I mean, he may have a pen and a phone, but he can’t agree to a treaty without Congress’s okay no matter how hard he tries to pretend he can.

Which may necessitate some more “depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is” reasoning from Democrats.

There’s the story.

So, in terms of the letter, another partisan tempest in a teapot.

Meanwhile, the big Constitutional question mostly gets ignored.

Thanks media.



Screw the science, we need the money!

The title is essentially what is going on in California as the Democratic controlled state imposes a tax for the “prevention” of global warming.

Californians will now have to pay yet another tax as part of the state’s effort to fight global warming. Residents will now pay a global warming tax for buying gasoline on top of the already existing state gas tax.

But being “smart” politicians, they don’t call it a tax:

The global warming tax on gas retailers is part of the state’s cap-and-trade program. But state officials are not calling the global warming charge a tax, instead they are saying it’s a fee paid by gas retailers when distributors load tanker trucks — even though the cost is passed onto consumers through the cost of fuel.

“They are not calling it a tax, and these guys (wholesalers) are adding it to the cost of the fuel, so you are paying a tax on a tax,” Max Castillo, who owns a convenience store and gas station, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “California is the leader of the nation in paying taxes.”

That’s right, folks, it’s a “fee”.  So Californians, who live in the state with the highest taxes, now get to pay a tax on a tax “fee”.  The result?

The global warming tax adds about 10 cents a gallon to wholesale gas prices and 12 cents to diesel prices, reports the Union-Tribune. But with gas prices down about one dollar from last year, few residents have noticed the global warming fee being added to their gas bills.

Californians pay a whopping 77 cents per gallon extra on gasoline due to fees and taxes. The Union-Tribune reports that “[e]xcise taxes… cost consumers 36 cents per gallon for the state and 18.3 cents for the federal government.” This is in addition to the 2 cent underground storage tank fee and the “global warming fee, which is variable and could soar in the future, added about a dime this week.”

The global warming fee adds 2.25 percent to the full retail price of gasoline — which includes existing taxes and fees — meaning that once gas prices start to rise, Californians may take notice when their gas bills go way up.

Science doesn’t support this.  It simply isn’t there.  And California’s politicians deciding to do it on their own is simply an exercise in political arrogance and vanity.  A decision to get the “little people” to again pay for a political boondoggle (see current “light rail” boondoggle).  Nothing will come of this in real terms.  California fossil fuel usage for transportation needs is 96%. That hasn’t changed much and isn’t likely to change anytime in the near future.

However, that apparently doesn’t prevent politicians from imposing their utopian pipe dreams on the citizens of that state – and frankly, they richly deserve this given their past voting record.

The imposition of a global warming tax on fuel retailers comes as Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown announces plans to push the state to get 50 percent of its energy from green sources and move away from oil.

“If we have any chance at all of achieving that, California, as it does in many areas, must show the way. We must demonstrate that reducing carbon is compatible with an abundant economy and human well-being,” Brown said in a recent speech.

Brown wants to put the state on track to get 50 percent of its energy from green sources, like wind and solar, by 2030 and cut the state’s use of petroleum in half in the next 15 years. Brown also promised more rules to make buildings more energy-efficient.

“All of this is a very tall order. It means that we continue to transform our electrical grid, our transportation system and even our communities,” Brown said.

It’s BS built on a questionable scientific theory based in models which have been found to be horribly wanting and consistently wrong.  This isn’t about the environment (other than it will help keep that lobby a bit quieter and in the politician’s pocket), it’s about money – revenue.  And power.

But then, when isn’t it anymore?