Friday, January 24, 2014

Obama's Keystone Kop Routine

Classic Charles Krauthammer on the Keystone pipeline - Simple, concise and thoroughly convincing.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Putin vs. Obama, and Jerry Coleman

Tough guy vs. Girlyman. Funny.

Also good for a laugh are these collections of Colemanisms (linked below) - unintentionally comical comments from former baseball player and announcer, Jerry Coleman, who died January 5th at age 89. Someone recently wrote that Coleman was the worst announcer he had ever heard. Having listened to him when he did play by play for the Yankees back in the 60s, I can confirm the accuracy of that statement. Despite his flaws as an announcer, Coleman is enshrined in the broadcaster's wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Longevity counts.

"(Dave) Winfield goes back to the wall, he hits his head on the wall and it rolls off! It's rolling all the way back to second base. This is a terrible thing for the Padres."

Several years later, Coleman felt the need to clarify, saying that he meant the ball was rolling, not Winfield's head. No s***.

In his biography of Joe DiMaggio, Richard Ben Cramer wrote of the culture of perfection that DiMaggio helped instill in the New York Yankee clubhouse during his playing days. This intense pressure weighed heavily on younger players like Coleman.

"Any other team," Coleman remembers, "guys would sit at their locker before the game and think: 'I'm gonna do something great today. I'm gonna hit a home run. I'm gonna win the game!'
"But the Yankees were different. Every day you'd think: 'I'm not gonna be the one to make a mistake. I'm not gonna be the guy to screw up and lose this game.'
"By the end of two years, I was eating mush for breakfast. That was the only thing I could keep down before a game."

What's amazing about this is that Coleman is the only major league player to have seen combat in both World War 2 and the Korean War. (Ted Williams served in both wars but did not see combat in WW2). As a Marine pilot, Coleman heroically flew 120 combat missions and faced death on numerous occasions. He was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 13 Air Medals and three Navy Citations. Yet, he was still unnerved by having to perform as a Yankee baseball player.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Bad Gets Worse

...for U.S. health care spending.

The graph below illustrates how the pernicious triad of government meddling in the health care system - Medicare, Medicaid, and (worst of all) the tax exemption for employer provided health insurance - has pushed the cost of U.S. health care to unaffordable levels.
And this data is for 2010, before Obamacare kicks in and worsens the picture. As Avik Roy points out, "the experts working for Medicare’s actuary have reported that in its first 10 years, Obamacare will boost health spending by 'roughly 621 billion' above the amounts Americans would have spent without this misguided law."

A few months ago in a National Review article, Kevin Williamson explained how two models of health care delivery, those of Singapore and Switzerland, with two of the lowest per capita levels of government health care spending (see above), offer its citizens universal coverage at a small fraction of what the U.S. spends, while providing better health care.

Both Singapore and Switzerland have systems in which overall health-care spending is lower than it is in the United States but out-of-pocket health-care spending is higher. The shocking thing is this: So does practically every other country. A recent World Bank study finds that in the United States, only 20 percent of health-care spending comes in the form of out-of-pocket expenses paid by consumers. In Singapore, it is 88 percent and in Switzerland 72 percent. But even the single-payer systems of Canada and the United Kingdom feature more out-of-pocket spending by consumers, 49 percent and 53 percent respectively. How is it that in countries with “free” universal health care consumers pay more out of pocket than they do in the United States? The short answer is that treatment in single-payer systems tends to be kind of terrible, which is why a tenth of British subjects use private plans rather than the NHS. And a significant share of Britons who use the NHS must be turning to private care fairly often, since it is estimated that the typical medical specialist in the U.K. supplements his income by 50 percent moonlighting in private practice. In Canada, about 75 percent of people carry supplementary private insurance, and about 28 percent of all health-care expenditures happen in the private sector.
What that means is that health care in Singapore and Switzerland is less expensive because it is more expensive. And both countries enjoy superb quality of care. is worth remembering that under Obamacare there will still be millions of Americans with no health-insurance coverage, while many (and possibly most) of those added to the coverage rolls will simply be given Medicaid cards, which practically come with their own spinal infections*. All together, that means that we have managed to combine the worst elements of the state-run systems with the worst elements of the private systems. We have designed a structurally defective system and entrusted its execution to a gang of politically connected incompetents with less technological sophistication than your AOL-using grandmother.

*Williamson is referring to a study that found that following spinal surgery, Medicaid patients had a 68 percent higher rate of complications than patients with private insurance.

Also - To be filed in the "Didn't I Say That?" category. Apparently I inspired Peggy Noonan's latest weekend column (WSJ, 1/17) in which she decries the selfishness of our public "servants". She enlists two examples - Chris Christie and (of course) Barack Obama. For Christie, she points out how his speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention was more about him than the Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. Then she goes on to cite Christie's exploitation of the Hurricane Sandy disaster.

...(the speech) fit in with his effusive embrace of Mr. Obama in the days before the 2012 election. Any governor would show strategic warmth for a president in charge of ladling out federal money after disaster. But Jersey was about to re-elect president Obama by nearly 18 points, and Mr. Christie wanted to win over Democrats when he ran the next year.
He was already going to win big. But he had to win bigger, had to have more.

On January 11, I wrote -

...(Christie's) love fest with Obama during the big Hurricane Sandy photo-op was a ploy to make him look like a moderate centrist to the blue state New Jersey electorate. He was telling the truth when he said that he didn't "give a damn about the election", meaning the 2012 election. What he was doing was giving a big damn about the 2013 (NJ) and 2016 elections. Meanwhile, the Romney campaign was badly hurt by Christie's self-serving behavior.

Coincidence? I think not.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Destructive Environmentalism

Charles C. W. Cooke has a particularly infuriating essay in the latest issue of National Review (1/27/2014). He describes environmentalists' successful efforts to restrict the use of irrigation in central California in order to protect a worthless and plentiful fish, the Delta Smelt. The result of their success has been to prevent the cultivation of vast areas of some of the world's most fertile land and to economically devastate millions of Californians, many of whom are poor immigrants.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Virtuous Rich

With another invaluable article, Kevin Williamson commemorates fifty years of LBJ's "Great Society". (Motto - Helping the nation's poor stay more firmly entrenched and feel more comfortable in their poverty while bankrupting our descendants in the process). Gracing the pages of the current issue of National Review (1/27/2014) and titled The Hard Working Rich, the article explains exactly why the rich in America are so much better off than the poor - they work more. Much more. Some of the remarkable statistics that Williamson cites are:

The richest of the poorest quarter of Americans have zero net worth. That is, this group has a large negative net worth.
Self-proclaimed socialist Senator Bernie Sanders says that rich capitalists like the Walton family have more wealth than the poorest 40% of Americans combined. So what? If you have a penny, you're richer than the bottom quarter.

Inherited wealth accounts for about 15 percent of the total assets of the hated 1 percenters.
Inherited wealth accounts for about 43 percent of the total assets of the lowest income group and about 31 percent for the second lowest.
In other words, contrary to leftist dogma, the rich have earned a higher proportion of their wealth than the poor have and confiscating all of the country's inherited wealth would make the poorest Americans poorer relative to the rich. (Williamson provides statistics showing similar numbers for earned income for the rich and poor).

The bottom income group contains, on average, 0.42 earners per household with 68.2 percent not working at all.
The highest income group contains, on average, 1.97 earners per household with 13.3 percent not working at all.
That is, the highest income group has almost five times the number of earners per household as the bottom income group.
So much for the myth of the idle rich. And for the left's romantic vision of the poor as overworked laborers receiving wages far below their actual worth. (Williamson notes that such people do exist but they are the exception, not the norm).

Williamson includes this tidbit - The most popular make of automobile among the wealthy is not a Ferrari or a BMW but the Ford F-150 pickup truck.

This being a Williamson piece, there's much more to it than statistics. He concludes with this disquieting and depressing thought.

...something is missing (from attempts to alleviate poverty), that priceless thing that makes an immigrant into a valedictorian or a successful publican, that inspires people to make the most out of the opportunities afforded by a society that is, for all of its present difficulties, stuffed with them. Mitt Romney might have some ideas about that, but Americans got a good hard look at him in 2012 and said no.

If you don't have an NR subscription it's worth dishing out 25 cents to read the entire thing.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Questions For Inequality Fetishists

This from an op-ed by economist Donald Boudreaux appearing in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (12/25) and reprinted in today's WSJ.

Suppose that Jones chooses a career as a poet. Jones treasures the time he spends walking in the woods and strolling city streets in leisurely reflection; his reflections lead him to write poetry critical of capitalist materialism. Working as a poet, Jones earns $20,000 annually. Smith chooses a career as an emergency-room physician. She works an average of 60 hours weekly and seldom takes a vacation. Her annual salary is $400,000. Is this “distribution” of income unfair? Is Smith responsible for Jones' relatively low salary? Does Smith owe Jones money? If so, how much? And what is the formula you use to determine Smith's debt to Jones?
While Dr. Smith earns more money than does poet Jones, poet Jones earns more leisure than does Dr. Smith. Do you believe leisure has value to those who possess it? If so, are you disturbed by the inequality of leisure that separates leisure-rich Jones from leisure-poor Smith? Do you advocate policies to “redistribute” leisure from Jones to Smith — say, by forcing Jones to wash Smith's dinner dishes or to chauffeur Smith to and from work? If not, why not?
Boudreaux asks some other pointed questions in his column, linked below.

Also, the best commentary concerning the insanely unbalanced media treatment of the Christie scandal vs. the myriad and far more serious Obama scandals comes from Jonah Goldberg at NRO. (below).

I'm no big fan of Christie - his love fest with Obama during the big Hurricane Sandy photo-op was a ploy to make him look like a moderate centrist to the blue state New Jersey electorate. He was telling the truth when he said that he didn't "give a damn about the election", meaning the 2012 election. What he was doing was giving a big damn about the 2013 (NJ) and 2016 elections. Meanwhile, the Romney campaign was badly hurt by Christie's self-serving behavior.
Having said that, the media frenzy over the Christie scandal, though completely expected, is just nuts.

Now I am not condoning or even trying to minimize the significance of “Bridgegate” — an idiotic term by the way. What these bozos did was bozoriffic. But come on. Do you think Rahm Emanuel hasn’t played games with which streets get plowed first after a snow storm? Do you think that the Cuomos have issued every business permit and license on a first-come, first-serve basis? Wait you do? Oh man, that is adorable. Bless your heart.

You have to wonder how some of the folks in the media can look at themselves in the mirror. The three network news shows have devoted orders of magnitude more coverage to a story about closed lanes on the George Washington Bridge than they have to the IRS scandal. I know this is not a new insight, but WHAT THE HELL!?
The sheer passion the New York Times-MSNBC mob is bringing to a partial road closure is a wonder to behold. What about the children? The chiiiiillllldrennnn!!!!!

The Christie scandal isn't even the most prominent one this week. That distinction belongs to former Defense Secretary Robert Gates' revelation that both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama opposed, for political reasons, President Bush's courageous and ultimately successful surge in Iraq.

From an op-ed by Jordan Chandler Hirsch in today's WSJ:

Mrs. Clinton "told the president that her opposition to the (2007) surge in Iraq had been political because she was facing him in the Iowa primary." President Obama then "conceded vaguely" that he opposed the surge for similar reasons.

Which political impropriety warrants more intense media (and public) outrage? - A calculation to risk the lives of American soldiers in a war and disregard American interests in that war in order to appeal to primary voters or shutting down a few traffic lanes in an attempt to exact revenge against a mayor of the opposition party?