Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

QandO is Alive

Welcome to the new QandO. The old site has passed away, and , with it, many maintenance headaches. For you, the user, the site should operate much faster, thanks to being transferred to a modern server, using modern technology.

Enjoy.

Also…first post!

Delusional

How else to describe this president when he makes remarks like this:

President Barack Obama claimed Monday night during a Democratic Party fundraising dinner that the United States is ‘stronger’ than it was when he assumed office in January 2009.

His statement, though, appears to be at odds with key economic indicators, America’s sliding reputation abroad, and the American public’s estimation of the direction the country has taken under the Obama administration.

‘In all sorts of ways,’ Obama told Democratic partisans who paid between $15,000 to $32,400 to hear him speak, ‘we are not just stronger than when we – where we were when I first came into office.’

‘It’s fair to say that America has the best cards when you look at other countries around the world.  There’s no other country you’d rather be than the United States.’

‘Nobody can compete with us when we’re making the right decisions,’ he said.

The unspoken implication here is since we’re “stronger”, he’s made all the “right decisions”.  Of  course that absurd implication can be confronted factually at all sorts of levels.

Take the economy:

Grove City College economics professor Tracy Miller wrote Monday in an op-ed for The Daily Caller that ‘[o]ver the first five years of Obama’s presidency, the U.S. economy grew more slowly than during any five-year period since just after the end of World War II, averaging less than 1.3 percent per year.’

Unemployment:

The percentage of working-age Americans who are part of the U.S. workforce has reached the lowest level since 1978, with one out of every three staying on the sidelines and not working.

Debt:

And the federal government’s debts have ballooned by $7 trillion since Obama took office, a sum larger than the accumulated U.S. debts between 1776 and the end of the Clinton administration.

Consumer confidence is at -17.  That’s right, minus seventeen according to Gallup’s recent Economic Confidence Index.

Great success.

You don’t even have to cite the debacle his lack of foreign policy has wrought (or his lack of leadership on the illegal immigration flood) to make the point that he’s either lying through his teeth or he’s delusional.  He seems be reading a script from spin doctors and seems to be nothing but a propaganda mouthpiece now. An empty suit.  The “face.”  He doesn’t seem to even care.  Most of the recent optics (vacation after vacation while the world is in crisis) are simply not what anyone who cared would do if in a leadership position.   But he seems to think he’s entitled and we peasants should just suck it up and cope.  “Imperial presidency” doesn’t even begin to describe this crew.

Credibility?  Not much:

By a 20-point margin, they believe the nation is weaker under Obama’s leadership, according to a Fox News poll released in June. Just 35 per cent told pollsters they agreed with what Obama said Monday night.

The “Monday night” refers to the bucket of slop above that he served up to those true believers paying 32K for dinner.

And that has led to this from a CNN poll:

The poll also indicates that the public’s trust in government is at an all-time low.

Frankly, you won’t find me lamenting this particularly, but it is an illustration as to how poorly this administration had done its job (Remember, one of Obama’s stated goals was to increase trust in government).  Gallup piles on with this:

Many more Americans now mention a non-economic issue — such as dissatisfaction with government, immigration, or ethical and moral decline — than an economic one as the top problem.

This presidency has been a disaster.  And it continues, without seeming end, to make all the wrong decisions almost without exception.  The fact that the public seems to finally be waking up to it tells me a lot about how this presidency and administration have benefitted from a press reluctant to lay it all out as it happened.  The problem the press faces now is it has become so bad that their credibility (such that it is) is at risk if they continue to ignore and/or attempt to explain away what has become obvious to almost everyone.  That and the “Bush is to blame” blanket excuse has expired for all but the sycophants (although Obama again tried to deploy it this week when denying responsibility for the problems in Iraq).

This has been an awful era for this country.  Almost everything this president promised has been found to be either nonsense, demonstrably false or a lie.  Instead of the “most transparent” administration in history, it has become the most opaque.  We see indications of criminal conduct by apparatchiks every day (really, 20 people under suspicion all had their emails destroyed?  Really?).  We see a “Justice” department that ignores the law and/or selectively enforces it depending on whether the group in question is a favored one or not (New Black Panthers and video of voter intimidation?  Nah.  Vote ID laws?  You bet.). We see executive department bureaucrats assuming powers and making rules that are beyond their scope (just about everything the EPA has done).  And, in fact, we see an administration that has mostly ignored the Constitution and the limits on power it imposes on the executive.

Now we’re engaged in redefining what “stronger” means.  Apparently, in Obama Newspeak, stronger is really “weaker and poorer”.  If that’s what he was striving to accomplish, then he can claim to have been remarkably successful in making us “stronger”.

~McQ

Style Evolves

So, since we’re making changes, I thought I’d start with the blog theme. This new theme uses flat design, which all the kids are raving about now. It also implements responsive design, so, if you’re on a mobile device, you’ll no longer see the Apple Touch mobile theme. Now you’ll see the current blog template, which will happily reformat itself for your phone or tablet viewport.

You’re welcome.


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Economic Statistics for 12 Aug 14

The NFIB small business optimism index rose 0.7 points in July to 95.7.

The government’s budget deficit, as of the end of July, is running 24% below last year, at $460.5 billion vs. $607.4 billion.

ICSC-Goldman reports weekly retail sales down -1.4%, and were up only 3.2% on a year-over-year basis. Conversely, Redbook reports a strong 4.8% increase in retail sales over last year.


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As David Bowie would say, “Ch-ch-ch-changes”

After a conference call this evening, we have decided to move QandO to a new Cloud Hosting plan.  This will remove the bandwidth restrictions we’ve been struggling with for the past month. It will also remove all of the legacy QandO content from 2004-2009. I have a an Excel file with all that old content, but I’m not sure what happens with it at this point. It might end up as one huge 12mb web page. I dunno. We’ll deal with that later. At any rate, I will restore all of the old podcasts, as well, since we’ll have substantially less restriction on storage space, and none at all on bandwidth. These changes will all be taking place over the next few days.

You, as a user, will see little change, except that the site should load substantially more quickly in the new environment.


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Why aren’t tampons free?

Seriously, that’s the question some whackadoo feminist columnist in the UK is asking (it makes you wonder if the paper that published it is a serious news source).

Her “reasoning?”

But this is less an issue of costliness than it is of principle: menstrual care is health care, and should be treated as such.

She wouldn’t know true principle if it throat punched her. However, what is clear is when you allow yahoos to redefine “health care” and get government to take control of it, well then everything should be ‘free’.
Her authority?  Not to worry, feminists have declared a few things to be “true”, and that make this a no-argument, slam-dunk:

Sanitary products are vital for the health, well-being and full participation of women and girls across the globe. The United Nations and Human Rights Watch, for example, have both linked menstrual hygiene to human rights.

Well there you go. I’m not sure where the human right not to be coerced by government into subsidizing another’s wants went, but apparently that’s a real right that is to be forever ignored.

If it is “health care” then it is a “right”.  And if it is a “right” then it should be “free”.  And if it is “free”, someone else should pay for it  - or so the “reasoning” goes. /sarc

Of course the fact that any such product has to be produced at a cost, transported at a cost and distributed at a cost that someone has to pay is just lost on these sorts of folks.  It doesn’t register.

As far as they’re concerned tampons come from magic tampon trees and when they need them, well, they’re just there.  And because they’re just there, they should be free!  Don’t you get that, you neanderthal?

Frankly I like this answer from a commenter to the article

Why aren’t tampons free?

Why isn’t soap free or wet wipes or shampoo?

If your argument is that sanitation should be provided for all cheaply then fine [Ed. sorry, but it already is].

But it isn’t. Your argument is that its all a plot to make women pay for stuff they need. At the end of the day its not free because in the real world you have to pay for stuff. Your right to a hygienic lady area is no more compelling than mine to a clean backside or clean hands. You are once more guilty of making women victim’s of their vaginas.

The commenter is right – the unspoken part of this attempt to fleece others is supposed victimhood. Read the article – it reeks with it.

In reality this is just the inevitable  extension of the Sandra Fluke argument that all women are entitled to free contraception because it is a “right” or something.

Where I come from “rights” aren’t something others pay for with either time, labor, material or money.

But hey, if you can redefine “health care” you can certainly redefine “rights”, no?

~McQ

QandO at the Crossroads

We’ve been having a big problem at QandO.  The podcast, apparently, has gotten popular.  Under our old hosting plan, we had 400GB of bandwidth.  Last month, our bandwidth began to skyrocket, almost entirely due to podcast downloads.  That has continued this month, too. The excess bandwidth charges for exceeding the monthly bandwidth allowance are $4 per GB.

bandwidth

Essentially, we’ve gone from an average of about 8GB in bandwidth per day to 50GB per day.

This is complicated by the fact that the old version of QandO was created way back in 2004 using ASP.NET 1.1. It works great. Sadly, it’s no longer supported by Microsoft. Last month, when it became clear we were going to blow through our bandwidth allowance, I did two things:

First, I removed the Stitcher podcast player from all the Podcasting posts, to avoid drive-by downloads from the post page. Second, I worked with the web host and was able to upgrade to the last existing ASP.Net 1.1 Premier plan, with a 600GB bandwidth limit, to avoid the bandwidth charges. That costs me $37/mo. As it turned out, bandwidth for the last week of July fell back to normal, so we only went through 415GB, which would’ve been a $60 excess bandwidth charge for the month.

So, increasing the bandwidth limit to 600GB should be a fix, right? Well, this month, we have already burned through 275.15GB in 10 days. At this rate, we will blow through the monthly bandwidth limit around Aug 22.

So, if you are looking for a podcast that’s more than a week old, you won’t find it. I’ve deleted all the older ones. Obviously, that isn’t an optimal solution.

The real solution is to move QandO over to a modern Cloud Hosting environment, which has unlimited bandwidth, 10GB of file storage, and only costs $18 per month. But, the newer hosting plans do not support ASP.NET 1.1. Essentially, that means that everything we’ve written prior to 2009 would, for a while, at least, disappear.  I have the old legacy content in a big, honkin’ file, but it would take some time to restore the old content to a static HTML page. Ultimately, transferring that would be a lot of work.

In any event, while I’m happy the podcast is becoming more popular, it’s causing some problems with trying to reconcile a large chunk of legacy content with modern hosting solutions.

This is complicated by the fact that Jon Henke still owns the domain, so any changes to the server would require him to make the change at GoDaddy. Depending on how long that would take, moving to a new host could mean that QandO will go down for some period of time.

So,all of this is information for you to understand why the Podcast has no archives, and warning that QandO may have to go dark for a day or so if we change to a new hosting plan.


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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 08 Aug 14

This week, Michael performs psychoanalysis, and Dale quotes his grandmother.

The podcast can be found on Stitcher here. Please remember the feed may take a couple of hours to update after this is first posted.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Stitcher. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here.

What ever happened to critical thinking

Dr. Thomas Sowell thinks he knows:

In an age when scientists are creating artificial intelligence, too many of our educational institutions seem to be creating artificial stupidity.

Critical thinking seems, in many cases, to be a thing of the past.  Ideology seems to be replacing it.

For instance:

Many people in Europe and the Western Hemisphere are staging angry protests against Israel’s military action in Gaza. One of the talking points against Israel is that far more Palestinian civilians have been killed by Israeli military attacks than the number of Israeli civilians killed by the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel that started this latest military conflict.

Are these protesters aware that vastly more German civilians were killed by American bombers attacking Nazi Germany during World War II than American civilians killed in the United States by Hitler’s forces?

Not only that, are they aware that the intent of the Hamas terrorists is to kill as many Israeli civilians as they can?  They’re just not very good at it.  And, Israel has taken steps to safeguard its civilians while Hamas repeatedly and purposely puts their civilians at risk by launching rockets from populated areas near schools etc.

This isn’t something that’s hard to figure out … unless you’ve turned thinking off and ideology (which only allows one to accept “facts” that fit the narrative”) on.

Another example involving Jerry Rivers:

Geraldo Rivera has denounced the Drudge Report for carrying news stories that show some of the negative consequences and dangers from allowing vast numbers of youngsters to enter the country illegally and be spread across the country by the Obama administration.

Some of these youngsters are already known to be carrying lice and suffering from disease. Since there have been no thorough medical examinations of most of them, we have no way of knowing whether they, or how many, are carrying deadly diseases that will spread to American children when these unexamined young immigrants enter schools across the country.

The attack against Matt Drudge has been in the classic tradition of demagogues. It turns questions of fact into questions of motive. Geraldo accuses Drudge of trying to start a “civil war.”

However, history reminds us:

Back when masses of immigrants from Europe were entering this country, those with dangerous diseases were turned back from Ellis Island. Nobody thought they had a legal or a moral “right” to be in America or that it was mean or racist not to want our children to catch their diseases.

Perfectly acceptable precautions.  Perfectly sound reasoning.  Something we understood well even back then.  But that doesn’t fit the ideological narrative today. The fact that the illegals are “children”  is what the ideologues want to emphasize in order to shut others up and have them enter freely and be placed within our system.  They appeal to emotion, not reason.  Reason tells you that you take prudent precautions instead of openly exposing your children to the communicable diseases, etc. that are being brought in by illegals, children or not.  Who do we have a greater responsibility toward and why should we risk their lives and health in order to satisfy an ideology?  A thinking person would conclude we have a greater responsibility to our own children.

Finally:

Although liberals are usually gung ho for increasing the minimum wage, there was a sympathetic front-page story in the July 29 San Francisco Chronicle about the plight of a local non-profit organization that will not be able to serve as many low-income minority youths if it has to pay a higher minimum wage. They are seeking some kind of exemption.

Does it not occur to these people that the very same thing happens when a minimum-wage increase applies to profit-based employers? They, too, tend to hire fewer inexperienced young people when there is a minimum-wage law.

No it doesn’t “occur” to them because they don’t think it through.  They simply parrot the emotional buzz-words and phrases their ideology teaches them.  The consequences are far less important than getting their way and feeling good about it.  But critical thought never enters the picture.

If it did, we’d not be hearing the nonsense these examples present, would we?

~McQ

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