Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Modified Easter Story

The cause for the apparent timing problems in the gospels — conflicts between different calendars. This is reported as a new discovery. But it's not. I've been aware of this, because of news reports, for more than forty years. (That also implies it's been known for significantly longer than that.) The only thing new is this individual's suggestion that Easter should be on a fixed date on our current calendar version.

Sorry, but that strikes me as dumb. The date of Easter ties absolutely to the date of Passover — new calendar or old. And that means it should still be on the lunar calendar, and not fixed on our current solar calendar.

One can quibble, but the existing definition of Easter makes sense as the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Superman Renouncing U.S. Citizenship

That's what I read. My reaction: He had U.S. citizenship? I always thought he was an illegal alien!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

If Obama Had Nothing to Hide

. . . why did he spend so much time, effort, and money hiding it?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Jordanian Show Trial on Fraudulent Charges

Cartoonist Kurt Westergaard and 19 other Danish journalists and editors went on trial in Jordan on Monday on charges of blasphemy over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting Islam's Prophet Mohammed six years ago.

None of the defendants appeared in the Amman court. The judge, Nathir Shehadah, decided to conduct the trial in absentia after he considered that the publication of arrest warrants and indictments in the local press served as legal notifications, judicial sources said.

...

The list of charges, which has already been approved by the Jordanian public prosecutor, includes 'blasphemy against Prophet Mohammed and humiliation of Islam and Muslims.' (emphasis sdded)

      — Amman (DPA)

The trouble is, the published cartoons (see below) did not attack the Muslim's god, Allah. They did, however, ridicule Muslims. And they may have ridiculed Mohammed a little, if any of these is what Mohammed looked like. (Is implying it's [our thought of] Mohammed or his followers enough to provoke them? That would really be nuts! Or stupid.)

Islamists and Muslims claim they don't worship Mohammed as their god, claiming to worship Allah instead. But if Mohammed isn't their god, then ridiculing and insulting Mohammed — and/or Muslims — cannot be blasphemy.

The only things that make sense of these non sequiturs are ignorance and dishonesty and insanity, any or all associated with conning the rubes (us).

Friday, April 22, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tax Day, 2011


This is posted today because Tax Day has been delayed/moved to today — for this year only — because the folks in Washington, DC got a holiday last Friday (April 15th) the rest of us didn't get. And we wouldn't want to disturb their vacation fun, would we?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Orwell Would Be Proud!

President Barack Obama and his supporters are now saying "reducing tax expenditures" instead of "raising taxes", and saying "tax expenditure reductions" instead of "tax hikes".

George Orwell would be proud!

UPDATE: This one, too: "Spending reductions in the tax code" Obama managed to talk about a tax hike as a spending reduction! As Jon Stewart asked, "Can we afford that and the royalty checks you're going to have to send to George Orwell?"

James Taranto put it this way: " 'Calls to cut taxes further . . . brings [sic] me back to 1984,' Mondale writes. But Obama's doublespeak is more reminiscent of '1984'."

I'd say obamaspeak goes beyond Orwell's conception.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Jordan to Try Cartoonist for Blasphemy

A Jordanian court will begin this month the trial of Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard over a controversial caricature of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed .... A copy of the subpoena obtained by AFP says Westergaard "is accused of the crime of blasphemy." — AFP

Islamists and Muslims claim they don't worship Mohammed as their god, claiming to worship Allah instead. But if Mohammed isn't their god, then ridiculing and insulting Mohammed cannot be blasphemy.

The only things that make sense of this non sequitur are ignorance and dishonesty and insanity, any or all associated with conning the rubes.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Testing A Man's Character

The following are statements that relate to the budget speech given by President Barack Obama on April 13:

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.
        — Abraham Lincoln

What we heard today was not fiscal leadership from our commander in chief; what we heard today was a political broadside from our campaigner in chief.
        — Representative Paul Ryan

I thought it was a disgrace. I rarely heard a speech by a president so shallow, so hyper-partisan and so intellectually dishonest
        — Charles Krauthammer

Monday, April 11, 2011

Congressional Chicken

When I heard about Friday night's budget agreement, I was pretty frustrated. It seemed to me the Republicans had caved, that Barack Obama and Harry Reid had held firm and given up nothing.

In terms of the last couple of weeks, I was right. But expanding the time horizon gave me a little different picture. Let's review the bidding:

  • 2010: President Obama proposed a budget for FY2011 calling for increased spending (by at least $40 billion) and increased deficits.
  • 2010: House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid decide not to do their jobs. They decide that gaining partisan political advantage is more important. As a result, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi decline to bring a budget for FY2011 to their respective house floors. In addition, none of the necessary appropriations bills were produced. Instead, they produced and passed — both during the regular Congressional session and during the post-election lame-duck session — Continuing Resolutions to continue government operations temporarily until appropriations bills (or an omnibus catch-all bill) could be passed.
    • Harry Pelosi and Nancy Reid knew, I think, a budget they would be willing to pass would be wildly unpopular and would result in large electoral losses. They gambled that keeping their plans secret would minimize their losses and enable them to maintain control of the Senate, at least.
    • If Pelosi and Reid had done their jobs, instead of taking their pay under false pretenses, note of the later sturm und drang would have occurred and there would have been no threats of a government shutdown. (There would also be no reductions in FY2011 spending.)
  • 2011: President Obama releases his budget proposal for FY2012, incorporating more increases in spending and no deficit reductions.
  • 2011: The new House Republican majority produced an omnibus budget bill (HR 1) including $61 billion in FY2011 spending cuts. The House passed it and sent it to the Senate, where it was killed. No serious budget proposal has been produced by the Democrats.
  • 2011: House Republicans also produced a less ambitious budget proposal which, as initially presented by House Speaker John Boehner, contained $32 billion in current year budget cuts — a spending reduction of less than 1%. Herry Reid blasted the cuts as "draconian" and "unworkable".
    • Reid finally responded with a proposal to cut $4.7 billion (which he claimed was really $6.5 billion). Critics derided Reid's proposal as being just budgetary gimmicks and "smoke & mirrors" rather than real cuts.
  • 2011 — last week: President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Reid, and House Speaker Boehner announced a budget agreement incorporating $38.5 billion in FY2011 spending cuts. Harry Reid celebrates this agreement as "historic", and Barack Obama celebrates it as “the largest annual spending cut in our history.”
The Democrat leadership has claimed the differences between them and the Republican leadership — the differences that held up the budget agreement — were in the riders the Republicans put on their proposal, not in the spending reductions. They particularly claimed the Republicans were trying to deny women their Planned Parenthood mammograms (cancer screenings), which Planned Parenthood apprently doesn't do. They had previously said the problem was a rider to deny the EPA funds to regulate greenhouse gases. The Republican leadership has said the differences were in the spending reductions, and that the other issues had already been resolved.

The statements from the Democrat leadership, and from the mainstream media, would lead one to believe all the riders were removed before the agreement was reached. But that is not so. A number of riders remained in the agreement itself. Specifically,

  • Defunding of Planned Parenthood is not incorporated in the agreement, but Reid for the first time agreed to allow a Senate vote on defunding Planned Parenthood
  • Funding for abortions in the District of Columbia, from federal or city funds, is banned
  • Reid agreed for the first time to allow a Senate vote on repealing Obamacare
  • A series of studies are mandated to identify the actual impacts of the Obamacare bill, as opposed to what we were all told a year ago those impacts were
  • No funds can be used to hire the additional IRS agents required for Obamacare funding
  • Paired annual private sector and GAO audits are required of the Dodd-Frank bill's consumer financial protection agency to identify what its actual impacts are on the U.S. financial system
  • Funding school vouchers (school choice) in Washington, DC
There may be other riders that were not specifically identified in the news reports. These might include
  • Banning funding for White House czars
  • Rescinding unobligated funds from Obama's 2009 stimulus bill
  • Fully auditing all Obamacare waivers
  • Blocking foreign aid for Sauti Arabia
  • Ending subsidies to mohair farmers
The most interesting thing to me here, overall, is the incorporation into a formal legislative compromise of agreements by Senate Majority Leader Reid to allow votes on issues he's never previously allowed to come to the Senate floor. These may actually have been the final sticking points in the negotiations.

So here's a "bottom line" I've largely come to agree with, in two parts:

  • (Part One) “Is $39 billion a significant cut? No. But it’s more than ever done before. In the context of saving America, we need to be talking about trillions, not billions.” Indeed, cutting $38.5 billion out of the more than $1 trillion in annual spending added by Obama & Reid & Pelosi, during the time the Democrats held full power in the Congress, can only be considered a near-trivial pittance. Nevertheless,
  • (Part Two) “We’ve changed the conversation,” said freshman Rep. Tim Griffin (R., Ark.). “This year we’re talking about how much we’re going to reduce — cut — and that’s a major cultural shift in a matter of months.” Even Barack Obama and Harry Reid are now talking about spending cuts rather than spending increases. (And Nancy Pelosi is away from Congress, at speaking engagements somewhere else.)
Yes, the $38.5 billion reduction in federal spending is, as Obama said, “the largest annual spending cut in our history” — but it's small potatoes when considered alongside the largest annual spending increases in our history (over $1 trillion per year) that Obama and his friends have pushed through since they took over. These cuts are only a small percentage of the increases, which were added onto an already bloated federal budget.

A great victory? No. But it's a start.

Some additional sources for information in this posting: ABC News, The Hill, Politico, Washington Examiner

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lying About the Debt Limit

Yesterday, I heard it being said again. The official said a failure by Congress to raise the federal debt limit would mean the United States would have defaulted on its debt. Again and again we hear it: Not raising the debt limit is defaulting on the debt.

Sorry, folks, but this is a direct and deliberate LIE.

Let's get specific. If Congress does not raise the debt limit, then the U.S. cannot borrow more money. That can have some serious effects for governmental operations and for the economy, but it does not affect the willingness or ability of the United States to repay debt already held.

That leaves two questions about those making these statements. Do they really think we are that ignorant and stupid? And why are telling this deliberate lie?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Why Are We Funding Non-Essentials?


It's an important question: Given the deep hole we're in, why are we funding non-essential things?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Not An Appropriate Price

A short time ago, I got an e-mail titled something like “Comments from 1955” that included a picture from a Maine gas station from that year.


That brought back memories from the late 1960s. I had a 1956 Plymouth for the last part of my time in high school. In high school, and at graduation in 1965, I was paying 19.9¢ per gallon for regular gas. I was pretty pissed off that fall when I got to Los Angeles and had to pay the exhorbitant price of 25.9¢ per gallon! Oddly enough, it didn't anger me nearly as much four years later (1969) when I got to Chicago and had to pay 35.9¢ per gallon.

Now, skip ahead with me in time. Four years ago, I said,“$3 Is Not An Appropriate Price for 85¢ Worth of Gas!” Well, since then, the price of gas bot a lot better, dropping by half by the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009 when I paid $1.409 (one dollar, forty point nine cents) per gallon. Since then, prices have gone up to well above the price that pissed me off back then.


And these prices piss me off again!