Saturday, July 26, 2014

Brown is the new green

Drought in California.  OK.  Happens regularly.  You have a lot of people in an area with not much water, you have a seasonal drought cycle between El Ninas, you have government policies that exacerbate the problem by failing to plan for the cycle, you have environmentalists fighting to protect a fish that doesn't really need protection; pick your explanation or maybe it's just a combination of all of the above. This time around it is quite bad.

(Aside: there as an article recently, can't remember by who, and he suggested that since we have pipelines all over the country transporting petroleum products, how hard would it be to build a pipeline from the upper midwest to California to transport water?  Seemed like something worth exploring, anyway.)

Here's where it gets crazy, however.

1) Conserve water.  Good idea.  Water your lawn on a tighter and more limited schedule, take shorter showers, wash things more efficiently, etc.  All great ideas in an area with a water shortage.  To encourage recalcitrant water wasters, there can be a $500 fine for wasting water.

2) Keep your lawn green and nice looking.  OK.  Not a necessity of life, but a requirement imposed by the city of Glendora, who sends out letters warning of a $500 fine if you don't keep your lawn looking green.

Now what?  Given the choice between the two $500 fines, what do you do?  Personally, I'd consider spending $500 tearing out the lawn and replacing it with stuff that doesn't need much water.  The best of both worlds. 

So how would a libertarian society deal with this (you knew I was going to go there, didn't you)?  How about adjusting water prices based on usage and availability.  How about opening up provision of water to private companies?  Seriously, when was the last time you went to the store and they were out of Coke or Pepsi?  Never, right?  That's because Coke and Pepsi have a vested interest in making sure you can always get their products.  What vested interest does some bureaucrat have in making sure you have enough water?  The correct answer is "None". 

What would this system look like and how would it work?  How would you make sure that everyone got the water that they needed just to live?  Beats me.  I don't know what it would look like.  I'm not a supply expert.  I'm not a water expert.  I do know that government has little to no incentive to actually do a good job.  They are, for the most part, unelected bureaucrats.  They can't lose their jobs, they aren't accountable to their customers, they are average people, some who care, some who don't, some nice, some jerks, who happen to have a job running the water system.  Water doesn't flow, at the end of the day they collect a paycheck and head home to barbeque with their family.  Contrast that to a private company.  Water doesn't flow, customers go elsewhere and they are out of business and out of a job.

Darwin awards

At a funeral for a dead terrorist, they forget to remove the unused suicide belt, with predictable results.

Very graphic video so you may just wish to watch the first few seconds.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Bloomberg gets it oh so right (and then doesn't)

I was going to post the other day on my <gasp> agreement with Michael Bloomberg.  And then...

Wait long enough and Michael Bloomberg will get it wrong, just like on firearms, salt, "large sugary drinks", etc.  I have virtually no known areas of agreement with him, although to be fair I only know what he chooses to publicly attack.  He is not, to the best of my knowledge, particularly libertarian.  One could argue pretty convincingly that he is the definition of a statist, that the state knows better than you in virtually every aspect of your life and will make any significant decision for you.

So imagine my surprise when I found out that he did something that I was super impressed with.  He traveled to Israel in defiance of the FAA's stupid travel ban.  (Aside: What the what gives our federal government the authority to ban people or companies from flying anywhere? I've read the Constitution numerous times and I'm pretty sure that isn't a power of the federal OR the state governments.)

Great.  Wow. Well done, Michael.  If I had the money I'd have done the same thing.

And then he has to blow it.  Wolf Blitzer asked him if the ban was politically motivated.  Blitzer is considered a pretty reasonable sort.  He is well regarded throughout the journalism field as far as I know.  Bloomberg went nuts.  He ranted at Blitzer just for asking the question, he ranted that he had no way to know, he screeched that it was an insult to the United States to even ask the question.  He also observed that the government might, occasionally, on very rare occasions, do something like that, thereby negating his whole rant.

That was then, this is now

From the people who brought you "Benghazi is just a made up scandal by Fox News", and "the IRS is just doing their job when they investigate conservative groups", and "If you like your doctor/health care plan, you can keep your doctor/health care plan":  In other words, liberals.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in DC ruled that when Congress wrote the words "enrolled in through an Exchange established by the State under 1311" when explaining who could get subsidies, what they really meant was that people enrolled in an Exchange established by the Sate could get subsidies.  In other words, the language is perfectly clear.  No grey area.  The left wants you to think that this is a ridiculous interpretation and that "obviously" Congress could not possibly have intended that.

Enter Jonathan Gruber, the "architect" of Obamacare.   Gruber is a professor at MIT who has written several books on health care and public policy.  Here are two tidbits that may shed some light on what is going on.


Gruber: In the law, it says if the states don't provide them, the federal backstop will. The federal government has been sort of slow in putting out its backstop, I think partly because they want to sort of squeeze the states to do it.  I think what's important to remember politically about this, is if you're a state and you don't set up an exchange, that means your citizens don't get their tax credits. But your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you're essentially saying to your citizens, you're going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that's a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these exchanges, and that they'll do it. But you know, once again, the politics can get ugly around this.

Gruber: "Chris (Matthews), it is unambiguous this is a typo. Literally every single person involved in the crafting of this law has said that it`s a typo, that they had no intention of excluding the federal states. And why would they?"

Update: Gruber now claims that the original statement was just some off-the-cuff remarks. Only problem is that they were actually prepared remarks and the original paper that he made the remarks from still exists.  Whoops.  The cover-up continues.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Bechtloff gets it oh so very wrong

Just started listening to a new podcast by The Bechtloff and I love it. Very entertaining. He's a new Christian and he has talked about his struggles with the churches he has attended; he is a tech geek and talks about video games; he is a libertarian and talks about politics.  Well worth a listen if you have a hole in your schedule and want an entertaining listen.

Today, however, he completely missed the point.  He was talking about the Hobby Lobby case and the SCOTUS decision and took the opportunity to rip into conservatives for missing the point.  He claims that social conservatives are opposed to birth control and doesn't understand why they don't focus on the whole fiasco that is Obamacare instead of one little aspect.  So what did he get totally wrong?

One, Obamacare will never be repealed while President Obama is in office.  It would take a filibuster proof majority in both houses and that isn't going to happen.  Even bills that would modify Obamacare to make it less onerous have no chance of passage.  The House has passed several bills, including one that would have authorized the President to do what he had already done in postponing the employer mandate.  The Senate never took it up and the President threatened to a veto if it got to his desk.  Veto a bill that approves what he has already done. 

Two, conservatives who supported the Little Sisters of the Poor and Hobby Lobby cases are NOT opposed to birth control.  Many of them may be opposed to abortion (a more relevant argument in the case of Hobby Lobby since this case only dealt with abortifacients), but mainly conservative support for these cases has to do with individual liberty.  Yes, liberty.  The First Amendment to the Constitution.  The one that says that we have freedom of religion.  The Affordable Care Act violated that freedom by mandating that American citizens pay for medical procedures that violated their religious beliefs.  The SCOTUS overturned that law (I know, not on 1st A grounds but overturned it nonetheless).  I don't know where B gets this idea that social conservatives oppose birth control.  The only people I know who oppose BC are Catholics and they are just as likely to be liberals as conservatives (Just ask the pope how he feels about Marxism).

In this case I think that B is conflating the ideas of individual liberty (can't be forced by the government) to opposition to what the government is forcing you to do.  So let me be clear.  Conservative folks want to be left alone.  Conservative folks don't want the federal government mandating every aspect of their lives.  We will support anyone who fights that type of government overreach, whether we agree with the issue or not.  I disagree with pot smokers.  I think it is bad for you.  I also voted for the legalization and I will vote for the decriminalization of other drugs if the issue comes up.  Government has no business making decision for us.  The purposes of government are and should be strictly limited and controlling personal choice in virtually any arena does not, in my mind, fall under those limited purposes.

That being said, listen to The Bechtloff's podcast.  It is worth it.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Movie review Monday

OK, so I just made that up.  It's Monday, just finished watching the second movie on my "25 Movies" DVD and figured I'd do some reviews.

Nothing to Good for a Cowboy.  I'm going to give it a C+.  Time not wasted.  Good story, two friends decide to start a cattle ranch in the interior of BC just before WWII breaks out.  Their hands all leave and enlist.  One of them meets, falls in love with, and marries a girl who insists on following him up to the interior to help with the ranch and be with her new husband.  Starring Chad Willett (who hasn't been in anything I've ever seen other than a few TV show episodes as supporting cast), Ted Atherton, (also never been in anything I've ever heard of), and Sarah Chalke (Rosanne and Scrubs).  Acting was pretty decent, lots of story lines left hanging, it actually could have been longer but maybe they left it open to make room for the TV series that came along the next year.  It almost had the feel of a pilot but is listed as a TV movie on IMDB.  I can honestly say that I don't feel like I wasted my time watching it.

Oh, and it was a book first AND a true story. Written by Richmond Hobson Jr, the main character. I'll be checking that out. Books are almost always better AND he wrote two more after this one. I love it.

Hooded Angels.  I was going with an D or maybe a charity D+, but it got a little better at the end so I'll go with a C-.  Twelve good looking women whose town is destroyed during the civil war and all of whom were raped by the guerrillas who raided the town turn into avenging, man-hating outlaws.  They pretty much kill everyone they come across for no particular reason and rob lots of banks along the way (presumably because that's where the money is).  Most of them also pair up  (remember the man-hating part?  Hey, not judging, they all got raped).  The movie is sort of pointless, mostly serving to show scantily clad, good looking women who ride around shooting people and riding horses (not while scantily clad, of course).  The only reason I gave it a higher grade is because it gets a little better in the second half when one of the posse chasing them develops a relationship with one of the women.  So as not to spoil the plot I won't tell you any more, but there's some soul searching about the type of future for avenging, man-hating outlaws.  At the end, OK Corral time.  Gary Busey plays the sheriff in the town the posse is from.  Not sure why, in 2002, he would take a role like this but maybe he doesn't care that much.  As one would expect, he does a decent job and the acting is generally OK.  Was it a waste of time?  Well, if you like westerns and you don't have anything better to do, why not. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Cowboy advice

"If your legs hurt, your stirrups are too short.  If your rump hurts, your stirrups are too long."

"What if they both hurt?"

"Then your stirrups are just right."