#MTsen: Who does John Walsh think he is? Joe Biden?

July 23, 2014
Cheater?

Cheater?

Well, this is embarrassing. The Democratic nominee for the seat once held by Max Baucus (D – Train Wreck), who is now Ambassador to China, has been called out by no less than that arch-conservative rag The New York Times for plagiarizing his Army War College master’s thesis:

Democrats were thrilled when John Walsh of Montana was appointed to the United States Senate in February. A decorated veteran of the Iraq war and former adjutant general of his state’s National Guard, Mr. Walsh offered the Democratic Party something it frequently lacks: a seasoned military man.

On the campaign trail this year, Mr. Walsh, 53, has made his military service a main selling point. Still wearing his hair close-cropped, he notes he was targeted for killing by Iraqi militants and says his time in uniform informs his views on a range of issues.

But one of the highest-profile credentials of Mr. Walsh’s 33-year military career appears to have been improperly attained. An examination of the final paper required for Mr. Walsh’s master’s degree from the United States Army War College indicates the senator appropriated at least a quarter of his thesis on American Middle East policy from other authors’ works, with no attribution.

Mr. Walsh completed the paper, what the War College calls a “strategy research project,” to earn his degree in 2007, when he was 46. The sources of the material he presents as his own include academic papers, policy journal essays and books that are almost all available online.

Read the rest; it’s pretty damning stuff, as in wholesale cutting-and-pasting from publicly available think-tank reports. For example:

Mr. Walsh writes: “Democracy promoters need to engage as much as possible in a dialogue with a wide cross section of influential elites: mainstream academics, journalists, moderate Islamists, and members of the professional associations who play a political role in some Arab countries, rather than only the narrow world of westernized democracy and human rights advocates.”

The same exact sentence appears on the sixth page of a 2002 Carnegie paper written by four scholars at the research institute. In all, Mr. Walsh’s recommendations section runs to more than 800 words, nearly all of it taken verbatim from the Carnegie paper, without any footnote or reference to it.

As we used to say in school, “bus-TED!”

Naturally, the Democrats will immediately call on Senator Walsh to withdraw from the race, if not resign, so… Wait. I’m sorry, I’m mixing that up with what the Democrats would do if a Republican were the miscreant. In Walsh’s case, he fits right in with the party’s leaders.

Walsh is fighting to keep this seat for the Democrats against Republican challenger Rep. Steve Daines. Daines has been doing well in the polls, and this scandal isn’t likely to help Senator Walsh, but this is no time to get comfortable. You’ll find Steve Daines’ web site here. If you can, send him some money.

Because every seat counts.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Surprising no one, California loses another business to Texas

July 20, 2014

Moving

This time, Perry’s Poachers have snagged Omnitracs LLC of San Diego, a fleet management firm that will be moving to Dallas and taking 450 jobs with it:

Fleet management software company Omnitracs LLC will relocate it headquarters to Dallas from San Diego, creating 450 jobs and $10 million in capital investment, Gov. Rick Perry’s office announced Friday.

The company will move into KPMG Centre downtown.

Omnitracs is the latest in a wave of California relocations to North Texas announced this spring and summer.
The Texas Enterprise Fund is providing a $3.9 million incentive to attract Omnitracs. The new headquarters will house jobs in a variety of high-paying fields, including engineering, research and development and finance.

Omnitracs provides fleet management solutions for the trucking industry. Its services include software applications, GPS fleet tracking, platforms and information services.

Omnitracs is just the latest in a long line of businesses that have fled or are about to flee the once-Golden State. The article lists others, including Toyota, and mentions Vista Equity Partners, a California firm that specializes in buying firms and moving them to Texas.

Yes, the one business that California can keep is one that helps others get the heck out.

Well, we bloody well deserve it, with a business climate that’s designed to drive people away, not bring them here. I’m old enough to remember when California was a place to people rushed to, in order to build a future.

Now, thanks to 40 years of progressive misrule, they rush to get out, in order to save what future they have left.

via Stephen Frank

RELATED: Victor Davis Hanson, a fellow Californian, on our frivolous legislature. Must reading.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) apparently has trouble with the Constitution

July 13, 2014

dunce_cap

So, I’m enjoying a quiet morning and reading an article on the reactions of the various candidates for the US Senate from Alaska to the Hobby Lobby decision, when I come across this howler from the incumbent, Mark Begich:

“I believe people, not corporations, have a right to practice their constitutional right to freedom of religion, but not at the expense of others,” said Begich.

Sigh.

It’s tough to decide whether Senator Begich, whose seat is not secure, is just ignorant of what the Supreme Court decided, the Constitution, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or if he’s a desperate hack just reciting DNC talking points. Of course, both could be true. But the key to that quote above is the senator’s odd belief that, upon forming a corporation, individuals somehow give up their natural rights.

Senator Begich, meet the First Amendment. First Amendment, meet Senator Begich:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The right to peaceably assemble has been held to include the right to freely associate. See, for example, NAACP v. Alabama (1958), which held, in effect, that individuals do not give up their rights when they form an association (1). And a corporation is an association of individuals with rights and inherits those rights:

Corporations have rights because natural persons have rights. It is sometimes said that corporations are “creations of the state,” but that’s not really true. Corporations are created by people — they are merely recognized by the state. 

To deny the rights of a “legal person,” such as a corporation, is no different than denying those rights to the individuals who own that corporation. Perhaps the newspaper editors of Senator Begich’s home state would like to ask him if their papers, in his view, lack the rights of free speech and freedom of the press, also recognized by the First Amendment, simply because they’re incorporated businesses. The answer should be interesting.

PS: Democrats sure have a problem with that whole freedom and democracy thing, don’t they? Why, yes. Yes they do.

Footnote:
(1) In short, the state of Alabama demanded the NAACP surrender its membership lists. The NAACP argued –correctly, given the times– that this loss of their members’ privacy would have a chilling affect on their members rights of free speech and free association.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#RaiseTheWage: Seattle businesses push back against minimum wage increase

July 6, 2014
"But at least we won the election! Obama!!"

“But at least we raised the minimum wage!”

Rick Moran at PJMedia has an article up about an effort on the part of Seattle business owners to get a measure on the ballot that would roll back the city’s recently passed $15 per hour minimum wage to a more “reasonable” $12.50. You can go there to get the details (there are accusations of fraud in the petitions to get the measure on the ballot), but here is a portion in which a Seattle business owner describes the very real impact raising the minimum wage has on his and other businesses:

That favorite coffee shop that you go to? That great neighborhood restaurant? That store where you buy your books, pet food, art supplies, or clothes? Each of those businesses survives on around a 5 percent net profit margin. That means that at the end of the year, after all the expenses—the payroll, the supplies, the inventory, insurance, rent, etc.—we all will end up with only about 5 percent income in our pockets if we’re doing a half-decent job. Maybe a bit more, maybe a bit less—but you get the idea. This does not leave a small local business with much room to absorb even a small increase in costs, much less the 60 percent increase demanded by the well-meaning but ill-researched and biased reporters and neighbors involved in this discussion.

Here are some more boring facts:

Payroll is approximately 30 percent of my entire costs at Liberty, the bar I own (the average in this business seems to be 30 to 35 percent). If the minimum wage goes up to $12.50 an hour (a reasonable middle ground some have proposed), that would be an increase of 34 percent, which means just to stay even I’d have to raise prices 10 percent across the board—the labor’s percentage increase in total cost to operate Liberty.

If the minimum wage goes to $15 an hour, I’d have to raise my contribution to payroll by 18 percent. So my costs would have to rise by no less than 18 percent, just for payroll—and that’s before my vendors’ increases in costs have to be considered, which I believe will be around another 5 percent, and that’s before Liberty adds any profit.

So it’s not impossible to imagine that costs for business like mine in Seattle will go up by no less than 20 percent.

Those increases are way more than my income. Again, my profit is around 5 percent. And it’s not just me, that’s across the board—for restaurants, for bars, for clothing stores, for pet stores, for art supply stores—many of whom have set costs and are competing with online retail. This makes it very difficult for them to adjust their purchasing.

So, what are this business owner’s options? That’s his problem, not the Seattle city council’s.

Thomas Sowell has often observed that politicians almost never feel the economic consequences of the decisions they force on the rest of us. While they’re buying their way to reelection by handing out goodies and making themselves feel good by supposedly “fighting for the people,” someone else has to pay the cost — in this case, the businessman who takes less profit, the worker who gets fewer hours, or the consumer who pays higher prices.

I left a comment to Moran’s post and I want to share part of it here. It’s anecdotal, but I think it illustrates the very real effects of politicians thinking they can ignore the laws of economics:

A friend supervises minimum wage, hourly employees in an educational setting. Our minimum wage [in California] has just gone up to $9 per hour. She has told me that she knows for a fact her budget for hiring will not increase, so she has to cut employee hours and, perhaps, eliminate a couple of jobs. Now, someone explain to me again how this increase actually helped these workers? But it sure made the pols in Sacramento feel good about themselves.

Those employees are student workers, often from minority groups, who work to help pay their way through school. And they are very real victims of progressives’ “good intentions.”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Quote of the Day, post-July 4th zinger edition

July 5, 2014

Bullseye!

From a Ukrainian journalist meditating on his country and ours:

Why don’t we use the American Constitution? It was written by really smart guys, it has worked for over 200 years, and they’re not using it anymore.

Ouch! It stings because it’s so close to the truth.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Happy Fourth of July!

July 4, 2014

independence day patriots

It’s Independence Day here in the US, in which we celebrate our break with the British Empire. We’re 238 years old and, despite what some sanctimonious Lefty scolds might think, I think we’ve done pretty darned good. We’re not without our problems or faults, some of them serious, but I continue to believe America is exceptional among the nations of the world and that we are indeed a force for good. If you’re looking for some good Independence Day reading, there’s always the Declaration of Independence itself. Think of it as a short ideological summation of who and why we are.

Then there’s the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which function as a citizen’s “owner’s manual.” And yes, to those of you in other countries raising an eyebrow about now, we do tend to place those documents on a pedestal. You have to admit, however, they’ve worked well for over two centuries. How many republics and constitutions has France had in that time?

Gosh, it’s become quiet…. Winking

By the way, at The Federalist, John Daniel Davidson asks us to consider how the Declaration’s list of King George’s offenses against the (then English) constitutional order and the rights of the American people might well also apply to President Obama.

A lot’s been written around the Web about today on the meaning of Independence day, so I’ll spare you my musings. Instead, I want to leave you with the thoughts of historian Victor Davis Hanson (1) who, writing in National Review in 2008 (2) at a time of growing national discord, wanted to remind us that things often had been much worse and that, on that 4th of July six years ago, we could use a little perspective:

On this troubled Fourth we still should remember this is not 1776 when
New York was in British hands and Americans in retreat across the
state. It is not 1814 when the British burned Washington and the entire
system of national credit collapsed — or July 4, 1863 when Americans
awoke to news that 8,000 Americans had just been killed at Gettysburg.


We are not in 1932 when unemployment was still over 20 percent of the
work force, and industrial production was less than half of what it had
been just three years earlier, or July, 1942, when tens of thousands of
American were dying in convoys and B-17s, and on islands of the Pacific
in an existential war against Germany, Japan, and Italy.

Thank
God it is not mid-summer 1950, when Seoul was overrun and arriving
American troops were overwhelmed by Communist forces as they rushed in
to save a crumbling South Korea. We are not in 1968 when the country
was torn apart by the Tet Offensive, the assassinations of Martin
Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, and the riots at the Democratic
convention in Chicago. And we are not even in the waning days of 1979,
a year in which the American embassy was seized in Tehran and hostages
taken, the Soviets were invading Afghanistan, thousands were still
being murdered in Cambodia, Communism was on the march in Central
America, and our president was blaming our near 6-percent unemployment,
8-percent inflation, 15-percent interest rates, and weakening
international profile on our own collective “malaise.”

We
live in the most prosperous and most free years of a wonderful
republic, and can easily rectify our present crises that are largely of
our own making and a result of the stupefying effects of our
unprecedented wealth and leisure. Instead of endless recriminations and
self-pity — of anger that our past was merely good rather than perfect
as we now demand — we need to give thanks this Fourth of July to our
ancestors who created our Constitution and Bill of Rights, and suffered
miseries beyond our comprehension as they bequeathed to us most of the
present wealth, leisure, and freedom we take for granted.

Still holds true, I think.

Happy 4th of July, folks. Enjoy the hot dogs and fireworks.  smiley us flag

RELATED: Also from 2008, a love-letter to America. I mentioned yesterday a point of view that sees the American Revolution as a second English Civil War. It’s an opinion with some merit, I think, given that the Patriots saw themselves as defenders of rights granted under the Bill of Rights of 1689. Continuing that theme at National Review, Daniel Hannan, a British MEP who’s more of a Patriot than many Americans I know these days, writes about the meaning of the forgotten flag of the American Revolution. Also at NR, British emigrant to America Charles Cooke considers the civil war of 1776. Cooke’s articles should be on your must-reading list. On American exceptionalism, Jonah Goldberg looks at how progressives really resent it. Finally, Salena Zito takes us to where independence began.

Footnotes:
(1) aka, my spiritual leader
(2) Sorry, the old link is broken, and National Review can’t be bothered to provide a searchable archive. Bad show, NR, bad show. Update: Found a re-posting. Do read it all.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Bookshelf update — Tories: Fighting for the King in America’s First Civil War

July 3, 2014

Renaissance scholar astrologer

I’ve updated the “What I’m reading” widget to the right to reflect the latest item on the Public Secrets lectern, Thomas Allen’s “Tories: Fighting for the King in America’s First Civil War.”

 

book cover Tories

 

 

I’m only a few chapters into it, so far, but “Tories” is an entertaining and thought-provoking history of what happened to the losers in the American Revolution: those Colonials who remained loyal to King George III and Parliament. It’s a salutary reminder that this was also a civil war, one that tore apart friends, families, and whole societies. Just as Patriots saw themselves as fighting for American freedom, the Loyalists believed they had justice on their side as they lost all defending the Rule of Law and rights of property, things we still value. I dislike moral relativism, but this may be one case in which it’s good to remember that both sides had their heroes and both their villains. Anyway, “Tories” is available in both Kindle (1) and paperback formats.

PS: Why, yes. This is a shameless bit of shilling on my part. I like getting the occasional gift certificate that comes from people buying stuff via my link. But I still think it’s a good book.

Footnote:
(1) Sadly I’ve found about one error per page in the Kindle version, in which two words will be smashed together with no space between. These are all too common in Kindle e-books.


Did Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) threaten a presidential coup d’etat?

June 27, 2014
Lackey

Lackey

The topic was immigration, both the current crisis at the border and the Democrats’ desperate desire to have the House pass the comprehensive amnesty bill already approved in the Senate. You can read the whole thing at PJM, but I think the senior senator at Illinois might want to walk this part back:

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) piled on. Noting that a year has passed since the Senate passed a sweeping immigration reform bill with broad bipartisan support, he urged House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to bring a similar bill to the floor.

“I don’t know how much more time he thinks he needs, but I hope that Speaker Boehner will speak up today,” Durbin said. “And if he does not, the president will borrow the power that is needed to solve the problems of immigration.”

“Borrow the power,” Dick? Pray, under what authority would the president, to whom the Constitution assigns no lawmaking power (that’s your job, Dickie-boy), “borrow” the power to “solve the problem,” that is, to make law? What you mean is that he would unilaterally seize the power and abuse his administrative authority and prosecutorial discretion (even more than he already has) to create a new immigration reality (and millions of new Democratic voters, you hope) by fiat. By ukase. By his will, alone.

You call it “borrowing power,” Dick.

A rational person, on the other hand, and not some fawning courtier of a liberal fascist, calls it what it is: dictatorship.

Resign, Dick. You’re a disgrace to your oath of office.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#Obamacare: Employees at failed Cover Oregon exchange receiving $650K in bonuses

June 27, 2014
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

And yet Oregon might well reelect Governor Kitzhaber, whose responsibility this fiasco is?

How do I get a job where I’m paid a bonus for maintaining something that doesn’t work? Given that the DOA Cover Oregon web site cost the taxpayers around $200,000,000 and that it’s estimated another $40,000,000 will be needed to transition to the federal exchange, one would think pitchforks and torches would be more in order.

via David Freddoso

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Efficient as ever, Hillary Clinton attacks 1st and 2nd amendments in one sentence

June 18, 2014

liberal tolerance

Hey, why only gut one amendment in the Bill of Rights when you can trash two at the same time? It’s a progressive win-win!

During a televised town hall, Hillary Clinton was asked about guns, and said that the viewpoint held by gun-rights advocates “terrorizes” the majority of Americans.

The town hall, broadcast live on CNN on Tuesday, closely resembled a commercial for Clinton’s new memoir, “Hard Choices.”

(…)

“We cannot let a minority of people – and that’s what it is, it is a minority of people – hold a viewpoint that terrorizes the majority of people,” said Clinton.

Get that? Not only are you allowed to own firearms only at the sufferance of the State, but you are not even allowed to hold a point of view that differs from the majority opinion, presumably as long as that majority happens to agree with the progressive statist position.

And “terrorizes?” Really, Hillary? I’m not allowed to hold the opinion that the natural right to self-defense allows me and all other Americans to arm ourselves and that the Bill of Rights recognizes that unalienable right against government power, because said opinion might make your neighbors in Chappaqua get the vapors? How weird. In all my reading about the American Founding and our constitutional settlement, I never ran across the part that talked about how we have free speech as long as it isn’t scary. I don’t recall Voltaire saying “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it, as long as it does not offend the majority.”

Hey, Hillary? What about other minorities? Blacks in the 1950s and 1960s were of the opinion that they held the same natural and civil rights as other Americans and loudly demonstrated to demand those rights be honored. That surely scared the majority Whites at the time, so should Blacks have not been allowed to hold those opinions? I’m curious for your thoughts on the matter.

File this away for 2016, folks, should Lady Macbeth decide to run: it is the opinion of a leading candidate for President of the United States, who swears an oath to uphold, protect, and defend the Constitution –including the Bill of Rights– that you are only allowed to express your own opinions as long as most people are comfortable with them.

Comforting, isn’t it?

h/t Bryan Preston

PS: Hillary is no outlier for her party: just the other day, President Obama was praising Australia’s draconian gun confiscation law. The simple truth is that the Left approves of the Constitution only when it is convenient to them.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


It begins: SeaTac businesses add “living wage surcharge” to cover minimum wage

June 6, 2014

When discussing Seattle’s new, progressive –FAIR!!– $15 per hour minimum wage, I wrote that business owners had just a few choices in response:

Critics, on the other hand (and including your humble correspondent), argue that the laws of economics cannot be repealed by legislative fiat: raise the cost of labor, and businesses will be faced with a choice from among four options — pass the costs on to the consumer; reduce labor costs by cutting hours or whole jobs; eat the costs and accept lower profits; or cease doing business in that jurisdiction, either by moving or closing shop. 

Having seen some businesses hold off on hiring, while others moved out of Seattle, we now have an example of another option: pass the cost along to the consumer:

And just look at that sales tax, too: 10.9%. Add the “living wage charge” and…

Yep. This is going to be a very interesting experiment.

via Twitchy

UPDATE: Just had it pointed out to me that SeaTac is not Seattle. My mistake; I’m not that familiar with Washington. Still, it can’t be all that long before Seattle itself sees these “living wage surcharges.” Also fixed the headline.

via:

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Seattle approves $15 minimum wage, higher unemployment

June 3, 2014
x

Seattle minimum wage proponent

I wrote about this last week, when it was still just a proposal, noting how some businesses were already slowing hiring and moving out of the city, and how even progressives were coming to have second thoughts.

Well, they did it:

Seattle’s city council on Monday unanimously approved an increase in the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, making it the nation’s highest by far.

The increase was formally proposed by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, and his spokesman said he intends to sign the ordinance on Tuesday.

Washington already has the nation’s highest state-level minimum wage, at $9.32. That rate also applies to the city.

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25, and Democrats in Congress have been pushing for a gradual increase to $10.10, but so far to little effect.

The increase to $15 in Seattle will take place over several years based on a scale that considers the size of and benefits offered by an employer. It will apply first to many large businesses in 2017 and then to all businesses by 2021.

The first increase, on April 1, 2015, brings the minimum wage to $10 for some businesses and $11 for others.

While the law phases in increases starting only with “large businesses,” that designation includes franchises. In other words, if you’re a franchisee with only a couple of Taco Bells, you’re still considered a large employer because you’re part of a large chain; even though your revenue only comes from two locations, you’re still on the hook for $15 per hour starting in 2017. You’re welcome.

This is going to be a good experiment (and, dare I say it? A “teachable moment?”) for several reasons. Advocates of raising the wage say it’s only fair, that minimum wage earners aren’t paid enough to live on, and that the costs to society will be minimal as businesses adjust. And there is some little evidence for the latter, as we have indeed learned to live with the costs previous minimum wage increases. (Whether those wage increases have been worth the costs, however, is another argument for another time.) Advocates in Seattle argue that raising the wage will help around 100,000 people.

Critics, on the other hand (and including your humble correspondent), argue that the laws of economics cannot be repealed by legislative fiat: raise the cost of labor, and businesses will be faced with a choice from among four options — pass the costs on to the consumer; reduce labor costs by cutting hours or whole jobs; eat the costs and accept lower profits; or cease doing business in that jurisdiction, either by moving or closing shop. We’ve already seen in the Seattle case that some businesses are moving to nearby towns that have not raised their wage. And, here in California, where the wage was recently raised to $9 per our and there is a proposal to raise it statewide to $13, some businesses are closing, choosing to put their capital to work where they can get a better return on investment. In each case, these are jobs lost.

Critics also maintain that raising the cost of labor gradually prices out the unskilled, such as teens looking for their first jobs, where they can acquire valuable skills and habits for later, better-paying work. A very interesting piece at AEI (h/t Andrew Garland in the Sister Toldjah comments section) argues for this very point by examining the effects on teen hiring as the minimum wage rose 41% between 2007 and 2009:

And that’s exactly what happened when the minimum wage rose by 41% between 2007 and 2009 – it had a disastrous effect on teenagers. The jobless rate for 16-19 year olds increased by ten percentage points, from about 16% in 2007 to more than 26% in 2009.  Of course, the overall US jobless rate was increasing at the same time, from about 5% to 10%. Therefore, the graph attempts to better isolate the effects of the minimum wage increases between 2007 and 2009 on teenagers by plotting the difference between the teenage jobless rate and the overall jobless rate, i.e. “excess teen unemployment,” and the minimum wage.

During the 2002-2007 period when the minimum wage was $5.15 per hour, teenage unemployment exceeded the national jobless rate by about 11% on average. Each of the three minimum wage increases was accompanied by a 2 percentage point increase in the amount that the teenage jobless rate exceeded the overall rate, from 11 to 13% after the 2007 increase from $5.15 to $5.85 per hour, from 13% to 15% following the second hike to $6.55 per hour, and from 15% to 17% following the last increase to $7.25. The 17.5% “excess teen unemployment” in October 2009 was the highest on record, going back to at least 1972, and was almost 5 percent higher than the peak teen jobless rate gap following the last recession (12.7% in June 2003).

Bottom Line: Artificially raising wages for unskilled workers reduces the demand for those workers at the same time that it increases the number of unskilled workers looking for work, which results in an excess supply of unskilled workers. Period. And another term for an “excess supply of unskilled workers” is an “increase in the teenage jobless rate.”

It will be interesting and edifying how Seattle’s experiment in progressive labor law plays out. I suspect it won’t have nearly the benefit that advocates like Seattle Mayor Murray or California State Senator Leno predict.

And it’s a shame others have to suffer for their hubris.

RELATED: This Center for Freedom and Prosperity video provides a good overview of why minimum wage laws are job killers.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Bookshelf update — Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment

June 3, 2014

Renaissance scholar astrologer

I’ve updated the “What I’m reading” widget to the right to reflect the latest item on the Public Secrets lectern, former US Attorney Andrew McCarthy’s “Faithless Execution: building the case for Obama’s impeachment.”

book cover mccarthy faithless execution

 

Just started it this morning, but I can already tell that it promises to be trenchant, clearly written, and thorough, like all McCarthy’s books. It’s available in both Kindle (1) and hardcover formats.

PS: Why, yes. This is a shameless bit of shilling on my part. I like getting the occasional gift certificate that comes from people buying stuff via my link. But I still think it’s a good book.

Footnote:
(1) I’m happy to say I’ve found no typos or formatting errors, so far. These are all too common in Kindle e-books.


California Senate passes $13 minimum wage, jobs flee in terror

June 1, 2014
"But at least we won the election! Obama!!"

“But at least they raised the minimum wage!”

Perhaps they didn’t want to be left behind by their progressive friends in Seattle, but the California State Senate last Wednesday passed a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $13 per hour by 2017. From the legislative analyst’s summary:

SB 935, as amended, Leno. Minimum wage: annual adjustment.

Existing law requires that, on and after July 1, 2014, the minimum wage for all industries be not less than $9 per hour. Existing law further increases the minimum wage, on and after January 1, 2016, to not less than $10 per hour.

This bill would increase the minimum wage, on and after January 1, 2015, to not less than $11 per hour, on and after January 1, 2016, to not less than $12 per hour, and on and after January 1, 2017, to not less than $13 per hour. The bill would require the automatic adjustment of the minimum wage annually thereafter, to maintain employee purchasing power diminished by the rate of inflation during the previous year. The adjustment would be calculated using the California Consumer Price Index, as specified. The bill would prohibit the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) from reducing the minimum wage and from adjusting the minimum wage if the average percentage of inflation for the previous year was negative. The bill would require the IWC to publicize the automatically adjusted minimum wage.

The bill would provide that its provisions not be construed to preclude the IWC from increasing the minimum wage to an amount greater than the calculation would provide or to preclude or supersede an increase of the minimum wage that is greater than the state minimum wage by any local government or tribal government.
The bill would apply to all industries, including public and private employment.

(h/t California Political Review)

“Leno” is Senator Mark Leno, whose district includes, naturally, San Francisco. You can kind of guess his politics. (He also backed a bill allowing children to have more than two parents. Yes, you read that right.) He’s also a prime example of Thomas Sowell’s observation about politicians who don’t have to suffer the consequences of decisions they impose on others. In this case, causing the cost of labor to skyrocket forces business owners to decide whether to pass on the cost to consumers, cut workers’ hours or whole jobs, or go out of business. As the head of CKE Restaurants told CNBC, people are doing all three:

CKE Restaurants’ roots began in California roughly seven decades ago, but you won’t see the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s expanding there much anymore.

What’s causing what company CEO Andy Puzder describes as “very little growth” in the state?

In part it’s because “the minimum wage is so high so it’s harder to come up with profitable business models,” Puzder said in an interview. The state’s minimum wage is set to rise to $9 in July, making it among the nation’s highest, and $10 by January 2016.

In cities in other states where the minimum wage has gone up considerably, Puzder said “franchisees are closing locations” after riding out lease expirations.

If the federal minimum hourly pay shoots up to $10.10 from the current $7.25—as many lawmakers and President Barack Obama are advocating—Puzder predicts fewer entry-level jobs will be created. If this happens, CKE would also create fewer positions, he forecast.

A recent nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office study also predicted mass job losses, estimating that a hike to $10.10 could result in a loss of about half a million jobs by late 2016, even as it lifted many above the poverty line.

(h/t California Political Review)

For some reason, I don’t think those who lose their jobs because of the wage increase will see themselves as “lifted out of poverty.”

Minimum-wage jobs are not meant to be lifelong careers. For people just entering the labor market, they’re ways to acquire skills needed to move on to better-paying jobs. For others, they’re a means to bring in additional, supplementary income into the household. The pro-increase arguments distort facts and wrap them in myth, all to disguise what is really a wealth redistribution program.

CKE’s Puzder goes on to relate how, when minimum wage increases are combined with the added expenses imposed by Obamacare, franchisees have chosen not to open new restaurants or have even closed locations, meaning these are jobs lost. But they do it because they can get a better return on their investment money elsewhere, such as by putting it in bonds.

It’s called economic common sense, something Senator Leno and his colleagues are woefully lacking in.

PS: SB 935 has now gone to the Assembly, and I will be shocked if it doesn’t pass. It’s frightening to think we have to rely on Governor Brown to be the sane one in the room and veto this bill when it shows up on his desk.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Ice. In Michigan. In June.

June 1, 2014
"We're still here!"

“Think I’ll go visit the Great Lakes.”

Is there nothing global warming can’t do?


Gun Control and Mass Shootings

May 29, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Because gun-control laws have been such a failure in the past, the natural response is to…. demand more gun-control laws. :/

Originally posted on International Liberty:

Well, another loser killed a bunch of people, this time in Santa Barbara, California.

Which gives gun control zealots an opportunity to seize upon the tragedy to recycle their calls to restrict private firearms ownership and otherwise erode the Second Amendment.

But I’m not too worried that they’ll succeed. The evidence is simply too strong that gun ownership reduces crime. The research shows that criminals are less aggressive when they fear potential victims may be armed.

Moreover, they don’t even have practical proposals. Here’s some of what Jacob Sullum wrote for Reason.

None of the items on the anti-gun lobby’s wish list makes sense as a response to the crimes of Elliot Rodger, the 22-year-old college student who murdered Martinez’s son and five other people on Friday night. …the Isla Vista massacre, which took place in a state with firearm laws that are among the strictest in the nation…

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Seattle: $15 minimum wage already costing jobs

May 28, 2014
"But at least we won the election! Obama!!"

“But at least we raised the minimum wage!”

And it’s not even in effect, yet.

But, it’s not surprising. Business managers have to plan for the future, and a looming huge increase in their labor cost will force many to rethink how they do business in Seattle, if they continue to do business there at all. Writing for the free-market Washington Policy Center, Erin Shannon reports on how small businesses are planning to cut back on hiring, delaying expansion, or moving out of the city to deal with the new wage law. Most striking, though, is the account of one business owner who supported the law, but now thinks she may have made a mistake:

One of those business owners is a well-known and active supporter of “progressive” labor policies, including a higher minimum wage. Jody Hall, owner of Cupcake Royale, initially supported a $15 minimum wage. But now Hall admits the proposed policy is, “keeping me up at night like nothing ever has.”

While Hall has serious concerns with Mayor Ed Murray’s plan to phase in a $15 minimum wage over seven years with a temporary tip credit, her biggest fear is if voters approve the radical charter amendment sponsored by the group 15Now. The charter amendment would force all large employers to begin paying $15 in 2015, and would give small business owners just three years to acclimate to the high wage. And the 15Now proposal would not allow for any tip credit.

If the charter amendment passes, Hall says she would be forced to close half of her seven locations and lay off 50 of her 100 workers.

But beyond the differences between Mayor Murray’s proposal or the more aggressive 15Now proposal, Hall says she now has “serious second thoughts” about a $15 minimum wage in general, especially since Seattle would be “going it alone” with a wage that is significantly higher than any other minimum wage in the nation.

Hall’s second thoughts about a $15 minimum wage have led to second thoughts about expanding her business. She was set to open a new business in Seattle this year, but has tabled the plan until after voters have their say on the charter amendment in the November election. Hall says if she considers any new locations before then, they will be outside the city limits.

In other words, when progressivism meets economic reality, guess which wins? You would think a successful businesswoman like Hall would have seen this coming. Maybe she thought she’d get a waiver from Obama.

And pay special attention to her comment about “going it alone.” As minimum wage increases are applied and then have the same effect in various places, there will be more and more calls from the fairness crowd to apply these laws statewide and even nationwide, to make sure business owners can’t just move to a friendlier jurisdiction, which would be “unfair.” The minimum wage thus becomes a wedge issue in an attack on local control, federalism, and jurisdictional competition, things progressive just hate, because their favored policies usually fail.

Meanwhile, I want to thank Seattle for volunteering to be a case study on the foolishness of government control of wages.

via Adrian Moore

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The Democrats’ anti-constitutional constitutional amendment. Updated

May 19, 2014
"Senate Grinch"

Hates free speech

Upset by court rulings that, in effect, declare that “free speech” really means free speech, Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) introduced a constitutional amendment granting Congress sweeping powers to regulate campaign expenditures, both monetary and “in kind.” This amendment has the full support of Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV):

“The shadowy Koch brothers are attempting… a hostile takeover of American democracy,” Reid charged Thursday. “No one should be able to pump unlimited funds into a political campaign.”

Reid urged his fellow lawmakers to support a proposed constitutional amendment, written by Democratic Sen. Tom Udall and co-sponsored by 40 of the Senate’s 55 Democrats, that would give Congress the right to regulate all political contributions and all spending of any kind in all federal elections. (It would also give states the power to do the same in state elections.) The Supreme Court has held such far-reaching restrictions to be unconstitutional, which is why Reid wants to take the extreme step of changing the nation’s founding document.

“Amending our Constitution is not something we take lightly,” Reid said. “But the flood of special interest money into our American democracy is one of the greatest threats our system of government has ever faced.”

You know, I fully expect Reid to soon start ranting about strawberries. But, back to the Left’s latest assault on free speech, here’s the key excerpt from the proposed amendment:

Congress shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in-kind equivalents with respect to federal elections, including setting limits on (1) the amount of contributions to candidates for nomination for election to, or for election to, federal office, and (2) the amount of funds that may be spent by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates.

Byron York is right, of course: this amendment has no chance of passing the Senate and House, where two-thirds votes are needed, nor has it any chance of being approved by three-fourths of the state legislatures. It’s another attempt to find an issue that will get their base voters excited for the coming election and distract from the rolling Obamacare disaster by invoking two great liberal demons — the Koch brothers (1) and the Citizens United decision.

What is disturbing, however, is Reid and the Democrats’ willingness to put themselves on record as willing to curb our fundamental freedoms, free speech being a natural, unalienable right, in pursuit of short-term electoral goals. It’s emblematic of progressivism, which sees the Constitution as obsolete, and of the Democrats’ predilection for putting their narrow electoral interests ahead of the nation’s well-being — for instance, undercutting American forces even before they enter battle in order to oppose a Republican president. It’s not new, however; we’ve seen plenty of examples in recent years of anti-democratic Democrats, such as former Governor Perdue of North Carolina suggesting that congressional elections be delayed, something not even done during the Civil War, largely because her party was set to do poorly.

It’s not that this amendment would be unconstitutional –by the nature of the process, ratification would make it part of the Constitution and therefore “constitutional”– but its very nature is profoundly and disturbingly anti-constitutional, striking at the concepts of natural rights that are foundational to the Republic. Political speech must be free to have any meaning at all, and that includes expressing your political opinions by donating money and time or other property to further a cause or support a candidate. That the Democrats would think of attacking this fundamental freedom in order to excite their base speaks of a deep rot within their party (2), something that should concern us all.

PS: Take a look at this list of the biggest donors since 1989, and note a couple of things: first, 11 of the top 16 at least lean Democratic. You don’t find one that leans Republican until number 17. And the evil Koch brothers, whom Harry Reid denounces daily like Cato demanding the destruction of Carthage, only place 59th on the list. That alone reveals the vile cynicism of his bleatings: the Majority Leader of the United States Senate by name demagoguing against two American citizens, regardless of the truth. Second, the proposed amendment would require statutes passed by Congress to be implemented. Take a good look again at that donor list: unions and other groups have donated tens of millions to the Democrats, with unions also providing invaluable in-kind donations in the form of campaign volunteers. Does anyone think the Democrats, given half a chance, wouldn’t write implementing legislation that somehow allowed these groups to keep right on helping Democrats? If so, raise your hand; I have a bridge to sell you.

Footnotes:
(1) A pair of libertarian billionaires who are apparently plotting to take over the government with the horrifying goal of leaving us alone. Where do I sign up?
(2) Not that I wholly excuse Republicans. John McCain’s sponsorship of the hateful McCain-Feingold bill revealed him as a constitutional lightweight.

UPDATE: National Review’s Charles Cooke wrote about this a few days and had the following to say:

The move is the final act of a contrived and hamfisted morality play, whose purpose is to cast the Democratic party and its allies as champions of the people and the Kochs as a proxy for all that ails America. Lofty as its broader goal may seek to be, the whole endeavor nevertheless carries with it the ugly smack of the Bill of Attainder — of a change to the nation’s constitutional settlement that serves largely to punish two people that the man with the gavel disdains. Rambling in the general direction of a BuzzFeed reporter earlier this week, Reid inadvertently revealed something about his motivations. His reelection to the Senate in 1998, he griped, “was awful”: “I won it, but just barely. I felt it was corrupting, all this corporate money.” Translation: I almost lost my seat once, so I need the supreme law to protect me. Corruption, schmorruption. This is about power.

Do read the whole thing.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Governor ‘Moonbeam’ beclowns himself over sea level rise at LAX airport

May 13, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Sigh. And yet he’s sure to win reelection. I weep.

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

Proof positive politicians can’t do simple math.

From the LA Times today:Brown_LAX_SLR

Brown’s remarks came a day after the release of two studies finding that a slow-motion and irreversible collapse of a massive cluster of glaciers in Antarctica has begun and could cause sea levels to rise worldwide by four feet within 200 years.

“If that happens, the Los Angeles airport’s going to be underwater,” Brown told reporters at a presentation of his revised state budget proposal in Los Angeles. “So is the San Francisco airport.”

Source: http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-pc-brown-sea-level-airports-20140513-story.html

Ok let’s do the math, first a look at the sea level rate from the Los Angeles tide gauge operated by NOAA:

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Why California is doomed in 12 figures

May 9, 2014
The new flag of California

The new flag of California

Per this KFI article, the state’s total debt –that is, our debt– is $340,000,000,000. $340 billion. Three-hundred and forty billion dollars:

California faces $340 billion in debts, or more than $8,500 for each of its 38 million residents, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office said Wednesday in recommending that the state set priorities for paying down its key long-term liabilities.

The state should first address the $73.7 billion shortfall in the teachers’ retirement system, a debt that could cost the state, teachers and school districts a combined $5 billion a year to resolve over 30 years. Without changes, the system serving 868,000 members is projected to run out of money by 2046.

Paying down the $64.6 billion shortfall in health benefits for 277,000 retired state employees and their dependents should come next. That could cost the state $1.8 billion a year over 30 years, the analyst said, but getting started sooner would dramatically reduce costs over the long run.

The report comes a month before the state’s budget is due and feeds legislative debates over whether the state should spend or save its budget surplus and how to create a rainy day fund that would go before voters in November for their approval. It was released a week before Gov. Jerry Brown unveils his revised budget recommendations.

“I think it underscores what the governor has said for quite some time, which is that we have significant liabilities that we need to address,” said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the state Department of Finance.

There’s the understatement of the year. And I’ll bet dollars to donuts that doesn’t include local government debt.

This is insanity. If California were a normal family or business, we’d have been forced into bankruptcy court for liquidation, and the marshal would be holding a sale.

The article goes on to talk vaguely about Governor Brown’s plans for paying down this debt and for reestablishing a “rainy day fund,” but I would take that talk more seriously, if it weren’t coming from a man still wedded to his high-speed rail boondoggle and his plan to dig giant tunnels to move water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta. No one can talk fiscal responsibility and back those rolling fiascoes.

And the state’s budget surplus? Please. As the article correctly notes, this is from transient factors. Capital gains taxes are a one-time revenue source, and the Prop 30 tax increase will bring in more revenue only until the gouged high-income earners move to Florida or Texas. That surplus is as ephemeral as the state’s good credit.

Three-hundred and forty billion dollars. The mind just boggles that our so-called betters in Sacramento could have been so irresponsible. How’d we get here? I can think of a few reasons:

  • Creating a full-time legislature with professional legislators who will pander to the right donor groups to keep their cushy jobs, instead of acting in the interests of the broad public. Allowing both houses to be elected by population, thus assuring domination by the urban megalopolises at the expense of other regions.
  • Allowing public employee unions. Even FDR knew those were against the public interest. Eventually, and inevitably, they fell into a corrupt kickback arrangement with the professional legislators, an arrangement that has helped lead us to our massive debt.
  • Allowing ourselves to slip into a one-party state in which the governing spectrum ranges from liberal left to loony left. There’s no real opposition to put more than an occasional check on the worst tendencies of the Democratic majority, or its corruption.
  • And finally, We The People, ourselves. Far too few of us pay any attention to what goes on in Sacramento or on the many boards that operate (supposedly) in our name, far too many of us take at their word what the pols and their backers say without exercising the responsibilities of citizenship and examining them critically — and firing them when needed.

Until the day comes when we find ourselves stuck with a $340 billion bill.

To paraphrase Andrew Breitbart, how do you screw up paradise?

It will take decades to clean this mess up and, even if we can find the right people to do it, can we convince the voters to take the needed bitter medicine?

I just don’t know.


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