All posts by Animal

Animal’s Daily Taxifornia News

The cabal of nitwits that passes for Californey’s government is at it again, this time proposing to tax text messages.  Yes, really.  Excerpt:

Why do people call California “Taxifornia”? Here’s one reason: California regulators wanted to tax cellphone text messages. They were even considering making the tax retroactive. It just shows there’s nothing in California that can’t be taxed.

As always, the state government had what it believed is a good reason for imposing the tax: It would subsidize phone service for low-income Californians. And it suggested that the tax is so small — “just” $44.5 million a year — that cellphone users wouldn’t even notice it.

California has turned the richest state in the union, and once a middle-class haven, into a state with the most poor people and fully a third of all the nation’s welfare recipients. Now middle-class Californians are fleeing. Pretty soon no one will be left to pay for “low-income Californians.”

The California Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) dropped its plan to vote on the measure in January, but only after the Federal Communications Commission ruled that text messages can’t be taxed as a telecom service. Nevertheless, the PUC will soon need money. Why? Its spending on the so-called Public Purpose Program budget has soared from $670 million in 2011 to $998 million in 2017, a 49% increase.

California is certainly following the Reagan comment about government:  “If it moves, tax it.  If it keeps moving, regulate it.  If it stops moving, subsidize it.”  But the real idiocy of this is that, as the article notes, folks will just switch to other methods.  Facebook apparently has a messenger app, and if this were to pass you’d see a wealth of messaging apps pop up like clover blossoms after a spring rain.

And, clear as day, when this happens I can see the taxers wanting to either ban those apps or tax them as well.  There’s just no end to the stupidity.

Sometimes I think that the entire California legislature has not one brain among them.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove and The Other McCain for the Rule Five links – and do go read the latest in my series on the history of sixguns over at the Glibertarians site.

In other news, it seems Obamacare is no more.  Only not really.  Excerpt:

A federal judge has struck down the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). A group of Republican state attorneys general argued in their lawsuit that the repeal of the tax penalty gutted the argument for ACA legality. Bloomberg has more, with the publication adding that the DOJ tried to argue that the individual mandate, including provisions to keep the premium rates the same among healthy individuals and those with pre-existing conditions, should be struck down, but keep the rest of the law intact. That included Medicaid expansion, the employer mandates, the exchanges, and premium subsides for hospitals. 

The judge ruled that the mandate and the rest of the law couldn’t be separated. Don’t fall in love with this ruling, as I’m seeing that it a) probably won’t survive an appeal, which is going to happen; and b) it’s not an injunction. In short, law Twitter is saying that the judge’s ruling merely treats the “motion for a preliminary injunction as a request for summary judgment.”

In other words, nothing is going to happen.

None of this should have been necessary in the first place.  In January of 2017, with President Trump newly ensconced in office and Paul Ryan wielding the Speaker’s gavel; with all those promises to “repeal and replace” (why not just repeal?) ringing in our ears, the GOP missed their opportunity; in fact, they blew it, badly.

They knew their opportunity was coming.  They should have had bills prepared.  All Speaker Ryan should have had to do was to bang the gavel and yell “Go!”

But they didn’t.  Now the House is in Democrat hands, while the Senate is even more firmly Republican; nothing much will happen in the next two years.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing; our freedoms and bank accounts are all safer when the Imperial apparatchiks are caught up in gridlock.

But this is much ado about nothing.  The ruling isn’t an injunction.  The ACA is still in place, with its few benefits and manifest flaws.  The Democrats will increasingly call for completely socialized health insurance, and the GOP will continue to bumble about like The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.

The more things change…

Rule Five Chicago Machine Friday

A college kid in Illinois has learned a hard lesson about Chicago machine politics – you know, the ones that produced our last President.  Excerpt:

The history of the little guy being squashed by massive Chicago political clout at election time is just too long to print without weeping.

But the story for today is so amazing that some Chicago election officials have never seen the like.

“No one can remember anything approaching this,” said an election official.

Really?

It’s overkill of epic proportions, like using a sledgehammer to kill a gnat, or firing off a nuclear weapon to kill a sparrow. A Southwest Side David vs. Goliath story.

The David is David Krupa, 19, a freshman at DePaul University who drives a forklift part time. He’s not a political powerhouse. He’s just a conservative Southwest Side teenager studying political science and economics who got it in his head to run for alderman in a race that pits him against the most powerful ward organization in Chicago.

The Goliath is the 13th Ward Democratic Organization run by House Speaker Michael J. Madigan, aka Boss Madigan, the most powerful politician in the state. Boss Madigan has long hand-picked his aldermen. He likes them loyal and quiet. The current silent alderman of the 13th Ward is Marty Quinn.

Boss Madigan wields a big stick:

To get on the ballot, Krupa was required to file 473 valid signatures of ward residents with the Chicago Board of Elections. Krupa filed 1,703 signatures.

But before he filed his signatures with the elections board, an amazing thing happened along the Chicago Way.

An organized crew of political workers — or maybe just civic-minded individuals who care about reform — went door to door with official legal papers. They asked residents to sign an affadavit revoking their signature on Krupa’s petition.

Here’s the onion:

The number of revocations far exceeds the number of signatures Krupa collected. That means false affidavits were filed with the elections board.

Why would thousands of people lie on a legal document of revocation, and say they’d signed Krupa’s petitions, when they didn’t sign Krupa’s petitions? Were they just being nice?

Because fraud, of course.  Blatant, unrepentant, unapologetic, machine-politics fraud – the kind some folks like to claim never happens.

Now, there are felonies here – hundreds if not thousands – organized, aided and abetted Boss Madigan’s crew.  (Note his party affiliation, which is hardly a surprise, this being Chicago.)  So should we hold our breath waiting for prosecutions?  No, because, in corrupt machine politics, some people are above the law.

This is another example of something I’ve been saying for some time; equal treatment under the law is effectively a dead letter in this nation now, and has been for some time.

Animal’s Daily Underground Living News

Science!

No, I’m not talking about people living in hobbit-houses.  I’m talking about far more primitive life much, much farther underground.  Excerpt:

There’s life on Earth, and there’s life in Earth. And the latter, overlooked for so long, is coming into focus as a wild menagerie of strange, diverse organisms.

We’ve known for some time that life can thrive even under the surface of the planet, within the very crust beneath the ocean floor.

Today a group of international scientists from the Deep Carbon Observatory reports at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting on nearly 10 years of discovering such organisms. The life they found beneath the planet’s surface expands our notions of its limits and opens up new terrain in the search off the Earth, for extraterrestrial life.

What Kind of Life We Talking About Here?

The deep biosphere — sometimes termed a “subterranean Galapagos” — is dominated by microbial life, organisms that derive their energy from rocks. Even though two types of microbes, bacteria and archaea, are the main discoveries, other types of life, including multicellular animals, have been found as well. Genetically, life below the surface is as or even more diverse than what’s above.

Where Are These Things?

All over the globe researchers are finding life by boring holes into the crust, examining deep mines or studying cracks in the Earth.

“Nature brings the samples to us through volcanic fluids leaking out of the sea floor,” says Julie Huber, a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution microbiologist specializing in the study of life around underwater volcanoes. “Almost a mile beneath the surface of the ocean we were able to witness deep-sea lava eruptions — molten lava bombs going off. Yet right nearby the erupting pit, there were lush microbial mats and they were shrimp eating.”

The damn near omnipresence of life on Earth, in habitats we would have thought impossible only a few years ago – hell, we would have thought many of them impossible when I was studying biology in college – makes me wonder if life isn’t more prevalent elsewhere than we think.  Maybe life arises plenty of places; maybe conditions being even halfway favorable are enough.

Intelligent life, though?  That’s another story.  I’d be surprised to find intelligent life to be very common at all, especially given the activities of people in our Imperial City.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Ever wonder how various European countries stack up against the United States, economy-wise?  The Mises Institute looked into it, and it turns out that the nations of Europe don’t even stack up too well against individual states.

Like, say, Mississippi.  Excerpt:

Last year, a debate erupted over how Britain would compare to individual US states. In the UK Spectator, Fraser Nelson explained “Why Britain is poorer than any US state, other than Mississippi.” A week later, TIME shot back with an article titled “No, Britain Is Not Poorer than Alabama.” The author of the TIME article, Dan Stewart, explained that, yes, Britain is poorer than many US states, but certainly not all of them. (See below to confirm that the UK is, in fact, poorer than every state.)

The main fault of the Spectator article, its critics alleged, was that it relied primarily on GDP and GDP per capita to make the comparisons. The critics at TIME (and other publications) correctly pointed out that if one is going to draw broad conclusions about poverty among various countries, GDP numbers are arguably not the best metric. For one, GDP per capita can be skewed upward by a small number of ultra-rich persons. After all, it is just GDP divided by the total population. That gives us no idea of how the median household is doing is those areas. Also, it’s best to avoid averages and stick with median values if we’re looking to avoid numbers that can be pulled up by some wealthy outliers.

And:

But, I’m really being too conservative with the US numbers here. I’m comparing OECD countries to US states based on a single nation-wide purchasing power number for the US. We’ve already accounted for cost of living at the national level (using PPP data), but the US is so much larger than all  other countries compared here, we really need to consider the regional cost of living in the United States. Were we to calculate real incomes based on the cost of living in each state, we’d find that real purchasing power is even higher in many of the lower-income states than we see above. 

Image from article.

We now see that there’s less variation in the median income levels among the US states. That makes sense because many states with low median incomes also have a very low cost of living. At the same time, many states with high median incomes have a very high cost of living.

Now that we’ve accounted for the low cost of living in Mississippi, we find that Mississippi ($26,517) is no longer the state with the lowest median income in real terms. New York ($26,152) is now the state with the lowest median income due to its very high cost of living.

This has had the effect of giving us a more realistic view of the purchasing power of the median household in US states. It is also more helpful in comparing individual states to OECD members, many of which have much higher costs of living than places like the American south and midwest. Now that we recognize how inexpensive it is to live in places like Tennessee, Florida, and Kentucky, we find that residents in those states now have higher median incomes than Sweden (a place that’s 30% more expensive than the US) and most other OECD countries measured.

Please do go read the whole article, as Mises’ explains things much better than I could.  But there’s a lesson for the folks who hold, say, Sweden up as a progressive Utopia; and it’s also important to note that the only thing keeping Europe alive today is Germany, Britain and some of the Western European nations who are still actually making products for sale, unlike the PIGS nations with their moribund economies and slacking populace; but while Sweden, Germany and even Britain are clinging to the remnants of former industrial might, that won’t last, as they seem to show little concern at their eventual collapse into a pan-European Caliphate.

That, True Believers, is an irony that must have old Charles Martel spinning in his grave.

Animal’s Daily Gun Registration Fails News

A while back the People’s Republik of Boulder passed an ordinance demanding owners of nebulously-defined “assault weapons” register, surrender or move their arms out of the city.  So far the city has registered 85 weapons, which would seem to indicate most Boulder gun owners responded with “fuck off, slavers!”  Excerpt:

With only 21 days left to go before the certification period closes, a total of 86 certificates have been issued (there are just over 100,000 residents in the college town). Two of those certifications were for the same firearm shared by a husband and wife (for some reason), that means only 85 guns have been certified so far.

City Attorney Tom Carr, who drafted the law to try to fit “the council’s vision,” openly admits that it’ll be difficult to enforce.

“I can’t imagine a way to do proactive enforcement,” Carr said. “Obviously, there’s no circumstance where we go door-to-door and ask people if they’ve violated the law. So, I think it would mostly be responsive.”

Carr also “thinks” a lot of other things about the law he’s written:

“The code gives officers discretion,” Carr said. “For example, if the weapon was discovered during an investigation of a crime of violence, I would think that it is more likely to be seized. If the investigation was for something more administrative in nature, I would expect most officers would advise the person of the law and how to comply.”

Boulder resident John Ramey, who worked together with Councilwoman Mirabai Nagle to propose an alternative to the ban, made the following statement via email when the law was being proposed:

“By definition, effective governing must be practical and enforceable. When something isn’t enforceable, like the war on drugs, that’s a huge sign that the underlying legal model doesn’t match the actual problems and realities.”

Take a good look at that last sentence.  Boulder has done precisely this; created a law that is impossible to enforce.  In fact it’s worse, it is a law that potentially – indeed, almost certainly – makes criminals out of formerly law-abiding citizens.  Feature or bug?  Ayn Rand may have foreseen it:

“Did you really think we want those laws observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them to be broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against… We’re after power and we mean it… There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Reardon, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”

Boulder has done some stupid shit; this is really just the latest in a long string.  And, sadly, the rest of the once and former Colorado may not be far behind in the Stupid Sweepstakes where gun control is concerned, despite growing evidence that the would-be gun-grabbers proposals simply don’t work.

Forewarned is forearmed.

It’s not just Colorado.  New Yorkers’ compliance with their misnamed “SAFE Act” is so low as to be barely noticeable.

So where does this end?  On the one hand, when new laws have no effect, or a negative effect, on lowering crime, pols clamor for more laws, with which the formerly law-abiding increasingly show disregard; thus spawning calls for more restrictions, which piss off more gun owners who reply by refusing to comply…

Odds are this won’t end well.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to The Other McCain and Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!  Also, be sure to check out my latest article over at Glibertarians, this one the first part of a multi-part series on the history of the sixgun.  I think you’ll enjoy it.

Mrs. A and I spent Friday and Saturday last week in San Diego, which was… interesting.  It’s a pretty place though, and the harbor tour was fun; some photos follow.  Enjoy!

Continue reading Goodbye, Blue Monday

Rule Five Electoral Reform Friday

This Friday finds Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. in San Diego, where we have some local business to transact, after which we’ll enjoy a warm and sunny Friday afternoon and Saturday far from the chilly environs of New Joisey, to whence we return on Sunday.  It may be daffy old Californey, but at least it’s a change of scene.

In the meantime:  After thinking a little about this week’s post on electoral shenanigans, I have an idea.  Let’s propose an amendment to the Constitution!

Yes, I know.  It’s a wild shot in the dark.  The Constitution is hard to amend on purpose, and this amendment would have the blue states lined up against it from the start.  Plenty of folks in the red states wouldn’t like it, either.  But anyway, here it is, my proposed 28th Amendment, the Electoral Integrity Amendment:

  1. All voters shall be required to identify themselves via government-issued photo ID or biometric to a certified election official prior to casting any vote.
  2. All votes must be cast and entered by the actual voter.  Voting by proxy and delivery of ballots by third party is prohibited.
  3. All votes will be cast on one day, that day being the first Tuesday in November, excepting special elections, recall elections and runoff elections.  Absentee voting is allowed for military members and persons working outside the country.
  4. Citizens and residents who have been on any form of taxpayer funded public assistance within the twelve months prior to the election day are denied the franchise.

That last one in particular would cause a RHEEEEE that you could hear from orbit.  But let’s look at each part:

  1. This is voter ID, but modernized.  A while back I proposed a few ways to modernize our voting system that this amendment specifically allows for, namely a biometric ID as part of a validated, secured online system.  I can’t believe that the high foreheads at the NSA can’t come up with something at least as secure as our present system, which ain’t saying much.  And I can think of only one reason anyone would object to making voters identify themselves prior to voting.
  2. No more “ballot harvesting” horseshit.  Each state can work out systems for invalids and so on, but everyone must cast their own vote.  Note that an online biometric system would make it much easier for, say, senior citizens and the severely disabled to cast their votes.  And biometrics joined to a validated, secure database would eliminate multiple voting shenanigans.
  3. Election day is election day.  If you don’t care enough to show up at the polling place – or open a damned app on your phone or computer, if we go that route – then you shouldn’t be voting.
  4. I’ve proposed this before, in my Manifesto among other places, but as a matter of principle, if you ain’t get skin in the game, you cain’t have a say in how things are run.  I’d want to work out the details to exempt retirees, disabled veterans and so on, but that can be handled.

So, True Believers – thoughts?  Additions?  Subtractions?