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Friday, July 31, 2009

Another Recession Casualty

It isn’t entirely finalized (the story is too specific for me to address it all here in public), but it looks like declining revenue is about to kill off one more job.

Mine, that is.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Please, Please, Please…

Please tell me that this was just a joke.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Birther Moment

I keep hoping that the Birther moment will pass and that otherwise serious people could get back to fighting battles that matter. I wanted to ignore the issue until it went away.

Doesn’t seem to be happening.

So here are some links:

Founding Bloggers
Vodkapundit (where you can read my thoughts in the comments section)
National Review
American Spectator

And that’s about all I need to say on that particular subject.

Long, Slow, Deep, Soft, Wet Jolt…

Must see PJTV.

I’m enjoying watching Steve Green’s growing skills in front of the camera. And, thanks, Steve, for helping keep politics fun for all of us (and for the lovely gift--you and Melissa are far too generous).

Well, if it’s Been Disastrous for Them, Think How it Must Feel for the Rest of Us

The Hill’s headline, “Analysis: July has been disaster for Obama, Hill Dems” almost made me laugh.

Almost.

See, if July has been disastrous for Obama and the Democrats, then it’s been absolutely brutal for the people who have lost jobs, seen their housing values continue to decline, watched the dollar sinking, and wondered when the promised recovery would begin. Disaster for politicians mean bad poll numbers, potential ouster, and a multi-million dollar book deal supplemented by paid speaking engagements. For the rest of us, the disaster is a little more meaningful.

Not that the story is wrong. There is a sense that less than a year into his first term, the political ground is starting to shift away from Obama’s hope and rapid-fire progressive change, although what precise political rewards the GOP might gain from his administrations stumbling are still more than a year away. That’s a long time in politics. There is no doubt that some of the early “wins” are sapping the President’s political capital--the cap and trade bill was rammed through but the public is skeptical both of the bill and the tactics used to get it done, the stimulus seems more and more of a failure with every passing month that leads us to higher unemployment and economic uncertainty, and the prodigious Pile o’ Debt is doing a better job of scaring voters than it is in scaring up new jobs.

I think a charitable reading would be that the administration overplayed a few hands and are still paying the cost, but it will take a bit to understand the repercussions both for the administration and for those of us who have to live with their decisions.

None of which changes the fact that Republicans should be cautious. Not only are voters still distrustful of their governance, but when some of the plans fail the blame will be placed at the feet of the Republicans (regardless of the fact that if Obama could rally his troops effectively, there isn’t a thing the Republicans can do to stop legislation from powering through). So, if health care reform fails, the headlines during the midterms will be about the health care crisis and the obstructionist Republicans.

Which isn’t a reason to sell principles for votes--that is, there is no reason for principled conservatives to sign on to a reform package that doesn’t fit conservative principles. It is, however, a warning to both better explain why we’re opposed to these reforms and to find better solutions that do fit our principles. If we can’t explain why we oppose something and offer a better alternative, then we aren’t going to win any hearts and minds in the voting booths.

Strangely, there could be danger for Republicans in some of Obama’s failings.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

That Would Be…

...Much ado about nothing.

Actually, I kind of like that interview. There’s nothing wrong with the President of the United States getting in touch with his inner sports fan.

Not everything has to be politics. Not everything has to be confrontation. Not everything has to be “gotcha.”

Colorado, Crisis, and a Larger Reflection (Updated)

Somehow this, from the Denver Business Journal:

A forthcoming report by a research center at the University of Denver says Colorado’s state government faces a looming financial crisis, DU said Monday.

The report from the Center for Colorado’s Economic Future at DU is titled “Colorado’s State Budget Tsunami.” It is to be formally released Tuesday.

“There is simply not enough money to pay for the government we have created,” the report says. “Barring a quick and dramatic turnaround of the economy, it appears that the current fiscal system cannot be sustained.”

In announcing the report’s findings, DU noted that “anticipated fiscal demands for K-12 education, prisons and Medicaid will swamp today’s revenue-generating tax and fee system” in Colorado.

Doesn’t square so happily with this, from this morning’s Denver Post:

Thousands of low-income Coloradans reliant on public assistance could get a free cellphone under a plan before the state Public Utilities Commission.

If approved, the plan by TracFone Wireless in Miami would make Colorado the 17th state it has settled into with free cell service for the indigent, a form of wireless welfare that proponents say taps into one of the last untapped markets for the telecom technology.

Certainly, the money comes from different buckets. Our financial crisis is one based around a general fund that doesn’t quite pay for the soup of services, handouts, freebies, and bureaucracy that voters and lawmakers have built up in Colorado. The free phones will be paid for by fees that the rest of us non-free users pay on our existing phones. Which is to say, those of us who actually pay for the service subsidize those who do not.

My problem, then, is philosophical in nature: in this country we continue to push the bar higher and higher on what constitutes a right even against all evidence that we can’t actually pay for what we promise. No service is unlimited, no pot of money is bottomless, and good economic times don’t last forever.

With our nation bleeding red (and my state’s politicians, who know that they don’t have the votes to raise taxes, finding creative ways to raise fees on everything from getting married to milking cows) why are we finding ways to spend even more money on things that can hardly be defined as core functionality for our government?

And that report about Colorado’s economy? It’s hard to imagine that you couldn’t read our nation’s future in its words, too.

The problem is that our government is built to constantly grow, but it doesn’t have a mechanism for pulling back when times get tough.

When you, as an individual, face a tough month, you probably cut back on eating out or some other indulgence. At the same time, you pay your electric bill, your mortgage, and make sure you still have some left over to buy food. You have a priority list that defines what you need instead of what you merely want. Or, at least, you should.

Government, as dumb a beast as there is in the world, doesn’t recognize the difference. Once a thing is voted on and the money starts flowing, it’s a perpetual need and it often contains some mechanism for automatic growth. The government almost never steps back and says, “Yeah, that’s a nice service, but I can’t afford it this year. Let’s just not do that for a bit.”

Colorado’s TABOR (Tax Payers Bill of Rights)--which requires votes for tax increases, sets standards for government growth, and contains a ratcheting mechanism to decrease spending in times of hardship--was meant to address that. And it does, but TABOR has been undermined by voters, too (quite likely by many of the voters who helped establish it in the first place). TABOR says that you can’t raise taxes without the consent of the citizens and that spending has to contract in bad times. Other spending bills over the years have mandated increases regardless of the economy. Which is why that study cited in the DBJ story goes on to say this:

“Education, prisons and health care consumed about 54 cents of every general fund dollar a decade ago. They now eat up nearly 76 cents of every general fund dollar, and that figure will jump to 91 cents in five years if the average growth rate continues. Eventually, at this rate, there would be no money for other programs.”

The solution, to me, would be found in fiscal responsibility or finding programs to cut. That wouldn’t be the government way, though. The government way is to find some backdoor path to the citizens’ wallets.

And it almost always starts with someone saying variation of, “We’re the richest country in the world. Why can’t we spend just a little more and buy lunches for poor students?”

Or buy cell phones for the poor. Or fund massive new health care mandates. Or “protects” us from climate change with a massive and complex system of taxes, payoffs, and giveaways that no one fully understands.

Republicans utterly failed to hold back the tide of spending when they held the House, Senate, and presidency; a failure that speaks volumes about the almost intractably expansionist nature of government and a broader failure of the GOP to actually embrace the conservative values that it has so long preached. It’s no wonder that the citizens didn’t trust Republicans to be good caretakers of the nation. That doesn’t excuse the left’s--especially the progressive left’s--bullying us down the road to ruin just that much quicker.

But it’s not all gloom. Some enterprising souls are still finding ways to grab with both hands.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado inserted a provision into the recently passed House climate change bill that would drum up business for “green” banks, such as the one he has invested in and his family and a political donor helped found in San Francisco.

The bill calls on bank regulators to promote green banking and says federal dollars should be used to support energy-efficient home improvements at government-funded housing projects.

Mr. Perlmutter, a two-term Democrat, has two investments in the 3-year-old New Resource Bank, which calls itself the nation’s first green bank. Among other environmentally conscious banking products, the bank offers home equity loans for consumers to make their homes more energy efficient, in addition to construction loans for green builders.

See? The American dream lives on.

Update: A similar question from Foundingbloggers. A wonderful site for conservatives (but you’re probably already a fan, aren’t you?).

Saturday, July 11, 2009

We’ve already established what you are, ma ‘am.

Now we’re just haggling over the price.

I was shocked when Politico broke the WaPo story, although, perhaps, I shouldn’t have been. While the ethical lapse seemed obvious and the chance that the story would break out into the wild and start killing reputations seemed high, you don’t often go wrong putting money on the most cynical bet.

The Washington Post’s ill-fated plan to sell sponsorships of off-the-record “salons” was an ethical lapse of monumental proportions.

It just seemed dumb. Their ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, explains the story well and the story is certainly interesting. But even after reading the whole thing, I just couldn’t get that old George Bernard Shaw quote out of my head.

And I couldn’t shake the idea that the Washington Post was setting the price for their integrity and reputation--the virtue of any newspaper--awfully low. I don’t think that “cheap whore” gets you far in a tough business and a tough economy these days. Then again, virtue doesn’t seem as valuable as it once was (which says more about contemporary American culture than it does anything specific about the Washington Post).

As of late this week, only two Post readers cited the controversy as a reason for canceling their subscription. Only about 50 readers had written critical letters to the editor, about half the number The Post typically receives on a controversial topic.

That’s depressing as hell to me. Where, indeed, is the outrage?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Zomby Wisdom

Over lunch today, I was talking about relationships with my co-workers. One of them, who had just gotten married about a month ago, went through relationship classes with his beloved before they were married--classes that were offered through their church and that were aimed at making sure that the couples were well-prepared for what marriage would hold for them. He was explaining something that he had learned about the reasons that men and women argue and fight in relationships. It was something about men needing respect and women needing love.

This overcomplicates things.

“I argue,” I explained, “because I’m right. She argues because she hasn’t yet realized that I’m right. Give her time.”

The consensus seems to be that I might need relationship classes.

On an entirely other note, this is the kind of wisdom you might be able to expect if I can manage to find the equipment, knowledge, time, and will-power to pull off a series of podcasts that I would like to put together. I’ll be looking to put that together after I return from vacation in a couple weeks--if you have any ideas or suggestions, let me know. I already have a few themes that I know I want to discuss, but I’m always open to new concepts.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Vote Blob of Ages

Do it now. Do it before I have to question your patriotism. 

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Tattooed Colorado Blogger Bash?

Jed pointed out an event here in Denver that will definitely be drawing me out of my home--the Denver Tattoo Convention.

Any other Denver-area bloggers (or bloggers who will be here in town for the event) that would like to combine that with a night of drinking and mayhem? Let me know (and pass it on).

Little Notes

Notes from the fringes of non-blogging:

  1. If you want to believe that America has talent, you might do well to ignore the show, America’s Got Talent. It goes far in proving the opposite (although there are, of course, a few exceptions sprinkled here and there--which doesn’t excuse the excessive praise that they heap upon some folks who should be ignored).
  2. But So You Think You Can Dance is a show with some genuinely talented folks. Often a true pleasure to watch and the judging tends to be spot on.
  3. Say it ain’t so, Joe. Colorado is going to miss Joe Sakic, especially in a rebuilding year where fans are going to have a hard time rousting up much excitement for this Avalanche team.
  4. Some days it’s hard to escape the idea that this is a horrible, horrible world that we live in.
  5. Bernie Ecclestone is a moron. He would do well to be fitted with a muzzle. Seriously.
  6. And here I had thought CompuServe was dead. Talk about surprising.
  7. Hubba hubba. I feel lust in my heart.

For what it’s worth.

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