Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove, The Other McCain and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links!

Colorado’s roads are in notoriously bad shape.  Now one might blame that on a lack of revenues, which is horseshit; one might blame it on climate change which is laughable; one might also blame it on incompetent leadership put in place due to corruption, in which case you’d be right in the ten ring.  Excerpt:

In December 2018, Governor Jared Polis appointed 35-year-old Shoshana Lew as his new Executive Director, a history major at Harvard University with an M.A. in American History from Northwestern. She replaced Governor Hickenlooper’s appointment of 56-year-old Michael Lewis, an engineer with extensive public construction management experience. Lew’s appointment was a shock to CDOT employees.

Lew’s primary qualification, according to insiders, was her close relationship to Michelle Obama who called the newly elected governor for a favor — find a job for Shoshana Lew. Lew is the daughter of President Obama’s Chief of Staff and later Secretary of the Treasury, Jack Lew. Ms. Lew is considered by some as an example of how the rich and well connected can use their positions to secure favored treatment in and outside of government.

While originally intending to get a doctorate in history and become a history professor, she instead joined the Washington based liberal Brookings Institute as a policy analyst. Almost magically, although in her 20s with no experience, she entered the Obama administration and soon became a senior adviser at the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and policy adviser at the White House Domestic Policy Council. With no financial background whatsoever, she next was appointed Chief Financial Officer of U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) as well as garnering other impressive titles.

As the Obama administration began winding down, she parlayed her position as CFO of USDOT to become the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) in the spring of 2017. After a controversial reign as COO for RIDOT of just over one year she was appointed Executive Director of CDOT in December 2018 by Governor Polis — a job, according to CDOT employees, she was wholly ill prepared for. CDOT employs over 3,300 people and has an annual budget in excess of $4.5 billion.

So, in other words, Governor Polis has appointed an inexperienced, unqualified political crony of Michelle Obama to oversee Colorado’s collapsing road network.

No wonder potholes are going unrepaired.

For some years now, Colorado – a place where I have lived for thirty years, a state I love for many reasons – has been following in California’s footsteps.  This bit of abject cronyism, Governor Polis appointing a wholly unqualified, incompetent political crony of a national figure who has never held elected or appointed office herself, is just a recent, egregious example.

So what recourse do sensible Colorado voters have?  That’s unclear.  There’s a “Recall Polis” petition going around, but honestly, it probably won’t amount to anything.  Sensible voters in the outer suburbs, the Eastern Plains, the Western Slope and other places will not now be able to overcome the Californicated Denver-Boulder Axis that now runs that state.

It’s sad, but Colorado is no longer a free state.  And we should note that the appointment of incompetent political cronies is a symptom, not a cause.

Rule Five Income Inequality Friday

Denver’s own Mike Rosen weighs in on income inequality, and as usual, he nails it.  Excerpt:

In a political auction for seductive but unachievable outcomes at someone else’s expense, socialist and progressive politicians unconstrained by economic reality can always outbid conservatives. Bernie Sanders’ utopian ravings and Elizabeth Warren’s cornucopia of extravagant “plans” magically funded by a new tax on “wealth” (on top of sharp increases in taxes on income) is this election season’s theme.

Their rallying cry is the evil of “income inequality.” But income inequality is not evil, it’s unavoidable and an essential element of a market economy and a free society. As historian Will Durant observed: “The concentration of wealth is a natural and inevitable result of the concentration of abilities in a minority of men and regularly recurs in history.” In microcosm, an obvious example is the disparity in income between a relative handful of elite professional athletes, rock stars, actors and captains of industry compared to those of average ability in their respective fields.

Durant added, “Despotism may for a time retard the concentration; democracy, allowing the most liberty, accelerates it.” Throughout history, he noted, societies have dealt with income inequality through, “legislation redistributing wealth or by revolution distributing poverty.” Alexis de Tocqueville, writing in Democracy in America in the 1830s, cautioned that democracy could be taken too far, “that there exists in the human heart a depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to attempt to lower the powerful to their own level, and reduces men to prefer equality in slavery to inequality in freedom.”

Take a good close look at that last line.

It’s been said that capitalism is the equal distribution of opportunity, while socialism is the equal distribution of misery.  Places like the former Soviet Union and present-day Venezuela illustrate that very plainly, although too many Americans aren’t paying attention.

But here’s the thing:  No two things in the world are equal – not a leaf, nor a tree.  Nothing and nobody.  There will always be differences in people, in talents, in abilities, in intelligence, in motivation, in circumstances.  That’s inevitable.

Whenever you hear someone decry income inequality or wealth inequality, remember this one fundamental fact:  They are proposing to satisfy someone’s envy by confiscating someone else’s property by force.  Were any private citizen or private company to do that, it would be robbery.  When the Imperial government (or any level of government) does it, it’s “taxation.”

And worst of all, the entire argument is based on a series of fallacies.  As Mike Rosen points out:

Incidentally, the influx of millions of legal and illegal immigrants from Latin America who took low paying jobs over these years had the effect of bringing down the national income average somewhat. Ironically, those same immigrants greatly improved their own standard of living from what it was in their native countries.

Income inequality is also skewed by official statistics that typically omit non-wage compensation like employer-provided health insurance and deferred compensation in the form of generous defined benefit pension plans for government employees. On top of that, the income of the rich is exaggerated by using their pre-tax earnings. This ignores the fact that the top one percent pays almost 40% of the total federal individual income tax burden all by themselves, while the bottom 50% pays only 3% of it.

Compounding the distortion, cash transfers and the value of government services and subsidies obtained by recipients amounting to trillions of dollars at the federal and state levels are simply ignored. It’s as if those taxes paid by the rich and the means-tested benefits given to those with lower incomes don’t exist.

Here’s the thing:  Income and wealth inequality just don’t matter – not today, not in the United States.   The poorest people in America today are inconceivably wealthy compared to the overwhelming majority of people that have ever lived on the planet; the poorest people in America today are in the top 10% of people on the planet.  There is no abject poverty in the U.S., only relative poverty, and the entire RHEEEEEE about inequality has only one goal for pols that engage in it – buying votes by peddling envy and promising Free Shit.

Mr. Rosen concludes:

As a matter of democratic political necessity, and in the name of “social justice” or public charity, government greatly mitigates income inequality in this country. Of equal importance is the reality that excessive taxation and redistribution of income and wealth can destroy a society economically. This is beyond Bernie’s and Lizzie’s comprehension ─ or concern.

I can add nothing to that.

Animal’s Daily Hate Speech News

Spooky!

This seems appropriate for Halloween:  Why American Needs a Hate Speech Law.  Let me preface this by saying to the author, “Fuck off,” in advance.  Excerpts, with my comments:

When I was a journalist, I loved Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.’s assertion that the Constitution and the First Amendment are not just about protecting “free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.”

But as a government official traveling around the world championing the virtues of free speech, I came to see how our First Amendment standard is an outlier. Even the most sophisticated Arab diplomats that I dealt with did not understand why the First Amendment allows someone to burn a Koran. Why, they asked me, would you ever want to protect that?

Because, you ignorant savage, that’s what liberty means.  It means you have to let the Ku Klux Klan have parades.  It means you have to let Louis Farrakhan spout off about Jews.  It means you have to let people place crucifixes in jars of urine, and yes, it means you have to let people burn Korans.  Free speech applies to all speech (not actions) or it applies to no speech.

My reply to this “sophisticated Arab diplomat” would be to ask how he deals with gay people or Christians in his country.  “How many gays were tossed off rooftops in your country in the last year?”  Seriously, why would you take anyone from that part of the world seriously when discussing fundamental freedoms?

All speech is not equal. And where truth cannot drive out lies, we must add new guardrails. I’m all for protecting “thought that we hate,” but not speech that incites hate. It undermines the very values of a fair marketplace of ideas that the First Amendment is designed to protect.

I see – we have to destroy the village in order to save it.

Well, to that I can only say “Fuck off, slaver.”

Forget the term “hate speech.”  It’s a canard.  What this asshole and others like him are seeking to prohibit isn’t speech; it’s thought.  Wrongthink is the crime proposed, and the crime itself will involve no more than offending someone’s sensibilities; this will leave you at the mercy of the most hypersensitive, most prickly, most easily offended group extant.

Yes, I’m looking at you, “sophisticated Arab diplomat.”  Fuck you and the horse you rode in on; I’ll speak as I please, and if I want to burn a Koran – or a Bible, or a flag, or the Book of Mormon, or the New York Times – then I damn well will.

Animal’s Hump Day News

It’s on to the links!

Salon writer Cody Cain is an idiot.

More than a third of millennials are idiots.

Max Boot is an idiot.  I know, that last one is low-hanging fruit, but still…

Strike a pose to look more attractive to the opposite sex.  Or, you know, whatever sex strikes your fancy, I guess.

Have a problem with rats?  Get some monkeys.

The Celts thought everyone should have wine.  I prefer beer, myself, but I can go along with the sentiment.

Duck!

Duck!

Goose!

California proposes to crack down on freelancers.  A stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid idea.  Add it to a long list of stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid ideas coming up in California these days.

The President has an idea for reducing criminal misuse of guns.  It makes some sense, so of course it won’t go anywhere in Congress.

In California, you can have unburned property, or you can have electricity.  Pick one.

In Colorado, we have mail-in ballots, which are starting to be returned.  So far Republicans and older voters are returning ballots at higher levels than Democrats and younger voters – all of which doesn’t mean much in our increasingly-blue state.  Still, it is an off year…

Turns out that Congress has several options for financing Medicare for all.  Here they are:

  • A 32 percent payroll tax
  • A 25 percent income surtax
  • A 42 percent value-added tax (VAT)
  • A mandatory public premium averaging $7,500 per capita – the equivalent of $12,000 per individual not otherwise on public insurance
  • More than doubling all individual and corporate income tax rates
  • An 80 percent reduction in non-health federal spending
  • A 108 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increase in the national debt
  • Impossibly high taxes on high earners, corporations, and the financial sector
  • A combination of approaches

To all of those I can only say three things:

  • Hell no
  • Fuck off, slavers
  • Taxation is theft!

On that note, we return you to your Wednesday, already in progress.

Animal’s Daily Chicago Free Fall News

Before we start, go over to Glibertarians and read my article on the Gold Standard of double-action revolvers – the Smith & Wesson Triple Lock!

Moving on:  Chicago is fast running out of other people’s money.  Excerpt:

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is dealing with a 12-day-old teachers strike that features a contest between the most radical union in the U.S. and one of the nation’s most radical mayors.

It’s not going to end well for her.

When the strike began she told the teachers “there is no more money.” All that did was whet the appetite for battle by the teachers who are now almost certainly going to get almost all of what they want.

Lightfoot is being hit over the head by reality.

Chicago Sun-Times:

“We spent the last 14 hours bargaining today, and we are not close to where we need to be on the big issues,” said Sybil Madison, deputy mayor for education. “We’re going to return tomorrow and work diligently to close the divide.”

Soon after, Chicago Teachers Union president Jesse Sharkey and vice president Stacy Davis Gates said that the union’s most recent proposal asks for an additional $38 million in funds over the city’s last offer.

“That’s the distance that remains between the two parties,” Sharkey said. “We feel like we need to be able to get there.

Prediction:  They won’t get there.

Chicago, like many of our major cities, has been swirling around the fiscal drain for a while now, and it’s looking like things are coming to a head.  The productive have been voting with their feet for decades now, leaving the folks with their hands out for Free Shit in place.

Now, consider that demographic fact for a moment.  What our major cities have in place is a self-reinforcing feedback loop.  They raise taxes and increase Free Shit, which causes the productive to leave and revenues to fall; the pols then raise taxes seeking more revenue and promise the increasingly-impoverished voters more Free Shit, more productive leave, and so on ad infinitum.

The very wealthy, of course, have ways to shield their wealth, or are simply wealthy enough that they don’t give a shit.  And in these cities, like in Chicago, many of  them like to fancy themselves “compassionate” by supporting Free Shit, so the cycle is reinforced.

Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco – these are how the cycle ends – with a Third-World mix of the very wealthy and very poor, and very little middle class to pay for everything.

Maybe Chicago should find a way to tax random violence.  That should solve their fiscal troubles.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove, The Other McCain and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links!  Also, check out last week’s post on Glibertarians, this one another installment of my Profiles in Toxic Masculinity.

Moving along:  According to that notorious right-wing rag, the New York Times, the “Russia collusion” investigation may be about to get very, very interesting.  Excerpts, with my comments:

Justice Department officials have shifted an administrative review of the Russia investigation closely overseen by Attorney General William P. Barr to a criminal inquiry, according to two people familiar with the matter. The move gives the prosecutor running it, John H. Durham, the power to subpoena for witness testimony and documents, to convene a grand jury and to file criminal charges.

This is a very interesting step, and takes this entire investigation into new ground.  In fact, this transition fairly screams “we found something.”

The opening of a criminal investigation is likely to raise alarms that Mr. Trump is using the Justice Department to go after his perceived enemies. Mr. Trump fired James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director under whose watch agents opened the Russia inquiry, and has long assailed other top former law enforcement and intelligence officials as partisans who sought to block his election.

And yet the Noo Yawk Times said next to nothing when President Obama weaponized the IRS against his political opponents.

No, this isn’t President Trump “using the Justice Department to go after his perceived enemies.”  This is the Justice Department, for once, doing their damn jobs.

Mr. Trump has made clear that he sees the typically independent Justice Department as a tool to be wielded against his political enemies. That view factors into the impeachment investigation against him, as does his long obsession with the origins of the Russia inquiry. House Democrats are examining in part whether his pressure on Ukraine to open investigations into theories about the 2016 election constituted an abuse of power.

Utter horseshit.

The list of shenanigans pulled by the Justice Department are manifest, beginning with FISA warrant abuse and continuing through a laundry list of biased agents seeking a “contingency plan” in the event of a 2016 Trump victory.  Were the party affiliations reversed, the NYT would be RRHHHEEEEEing for an investigation; but then, it’s been quite a while since the NYT even pretended to be objective.

The move also creates an unusual situation in which the Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation into itself.

“Physician, heal thyself.”

The Times might have the beginnings of a point here.  Eventually one supposes an independent prosecutor should be appointed.  But this needs to be fleshed out, and any guilty of shenanigans held accountable; the American people have very little faith in the FBI or the Justice Department at present, and some of that faith may well be restored if any wrongdoing is, for once, dealt with.

Last Friday on Fox News notorious right-winger Geraldo Rivera weighed in:

“I predict in the next week or two, you’re gonna see a run on criminal defense attornies in Washington, D.C. by people further up the food chain in the previous administration,” said Rivera on “Fox & Friends,” questioning what former President Barack Obama and his inner circle knew about the probe into Trump’s campaign.

“Did Barack Obama know that the intelligence agencies were seeking to delegitimize his successor? At what point did he know? What did he authorize? What role did he play? he asked.

And:

Rivera took issue with the New York Times’ reporting about Durham’s probe on its front page Friday. He said that below the headline, the Times “minimizes” the story by writing that there is “fear that Trump is using the Justice Department to chase perceived enemies.”

“Immediately they undercut the motive for the investigation. They don’t care about the fact that the power of the intelligence agencies was used to undermine the President of the United States. They care that they’re going to get caught for the exaggerations and the lies,” he said, stressing that the Mueller probe did not find that Americans colluded with Russians to interfere in the 2016 election.

But here’s the kicker:

The investigation’s new status means Durham can subpoena witnesses, file charges, and impanel fact-finding grand juries.

Some former DoJ and Obama Administration officials should be shittin’ and gittin’ around now.

But then, as I’ve noted repeatedly in these virtual pages, equal treatment under the law is effectively a dead letter in the United States nowadays.

Deep thoughts, news of the day, totty and the Manly Arts.