Archive for Politics - page 5

California politicos: Need Water? Build a Train.

California politicos:  Need Water?  Build a Train.

If anyone’s interested, California is experiencing a drought.  It’s not the first one and it won’t be the last.  If you live here, or know anything about California geography you know that for the most part the state is a desert.  There are notable exceptions – the northwest corner of the state is a rainforest, and parts of the Sierra Nevada Mountains  and the coast get significant precipitation, but the rest is arid.  Dry.  It’s not a recent development.  It’s been that way since the first people got here.

Proviso: I claim absolute moral authority to opine on this subject due to my status as “technical California native” and my propensity for curmudgeonly armchair political sniping.  

Back to our story.  Whenever we in California experience an extended drought, there is much handwringing and pleas to “conserve” ring throughout the media.  In fact the California Water Resources Board just authorized local Water Utilities to fine “water wasters” up to $500 to *ahem* encourage water conservation.  While I believe “conserve” is a good idea all the time, not just during a drought, I respectfully submit that the idea of conserving our way out of this shortage is a fantasy.  Conservation will not solve California’s chronic water shortage.  In California you can never have enough water. Never.

There are a number of large water storage and delivery infrastructures in California designed to collect and distribute water to the thirsty state.  The last of those infrastructures were completed by 1970, when California’s population stood at just under 20 million.  California’s population today stands at approximately 38 million.  So in the past 40 years the population has nearly doubled, and nothing has been done to improve our water collection, storage and delivery system which was already inadequate for a population of 20 million.  But if you overwater your begonias you’re the problem.  Right.

The largest recipient of water is California’s Ag Industry which is a $43.5 Billion industry (2011) – the largest of any state in the nation.  So not just important to California, but to the national and indeed the global economy.  This is why you should care about this even if you do not live or farm here.  If you like to eat, this is your problem too.

So what do you do if you are in a political leadership role in California government and there is a serious chronic infrastructure shortfall and a globally important industry is in peril?  Why, you put together a huge bureacracy to pour money into a different non-existent problem.  Case in point:  The Bullet Train to Nowhere, which will likely cost at least $100 Billion if not much more.  And the best part is once it’s built, no one will use it and taxpayers will have to subsidize if to the tune of billions per year!  Forever!  Water your crops with that.  But…but…trains!  Like in Europe!  Yeah, the 18th Century called and they want their technology back.

There is a building in downtown Sacramento across 10th street from the west steps of the Capitol.  It is officially “State Office Building No. 1”, the office of the State Treasurer, and on that building there is an inscription:

bring me men to match my mountains


It is a line from the poem “The Coming American” by Sam Walter Foss.  It was obviously written at a time when the nation was young, when strong and ambitious visionaries were needed to shape a growing nation.  Well, the nation may not be young anymore, but we still need ambitious visionaries to tackle our challenges.  There are hard choices that must be made – California’s agriculture industry is too important to the world to let it die on the vine.  And if we are not ready to put up a fence at the State line and prohibit more people from coming here, something I DO NOT think could or should be done, then we need to make the state livable for a population not only of our current size, but of our projected size.  If we build for the present, we have already lost.  Some environmental concerns may have to be rethought or perhaps abandoned altogether, since you cannot put 40 millions or more of people in a place and not have it impact the environment.  Like I said, hard choices.  If our leaders response to a challenge is to tell us “settle for less”, then they are not men or women to match our mountains.  What they are telling us is that they are not up to the challenge and it is time for new leadership.  But we can afford neither the option we have practiced for forty years: Do Nothing, nor the option we are practicing now: Do The Wrong Thing.

In Case You’re New Here

In Case You’re New Here

In case you’re new here, welcome!  And here are a few ins and outs of how my blog operates.  First off, I’m Mike, the sole proprietor.  Pleased to meet you.  This blog is my peronal communication platform, and posts here reflect only my personal opinions.  I claim no expertise in anything.  In other words, if I write about Law, do not use that as legal advice.  If I write about medicine, do not take that as medical advice.  Get the picture?  OK, good.  Since there is no “official” theme to this blog, you will find posts about many different subjects here which may (or may not) fall loosely into one of several “categories” which you will find listed in the right hand sidebar just under the “recent posts”.  If you want the unfiltered blog, that is to see all posts regardless of category, simply start at the top and keep scrolling down.  Newest posts are at the top, and as you scroll down you go back in time.  If you wish to view only posts in a certain category, then find the category you want in the sidebar and click on it.  Voila!  Only posts in that category will be displayed.  Also in the sidebar are listed “popular posts” and “recent posts”.  Popular posts are those most viewed – not neccessarily the best, but most viewed.  For whatever reason.  And recent posts are just that…the most recent posts.  At any time you can click on the “home” button at the top right to bring you back to the top of the front page.

Within each post I will embed links for additional information – whenever you see red text like this you can click on it, and it will open the link in a new tab.  Try it.  Back? OK, good.  Many of the graphics such as pictures, graphs or cartoons may be enlarged simply by clicking on them.  Some of these graphics are mine, others are not. Embedded youTube videos can bel viewed by clicking on the “play” arrow at the bottom left or in the center of the YouTube frame.  Easy.

driving dog

Finally – comments.  To the left of the post title, under the red date box you will see a grey box that says “comments” with a number in it (usually a zero, unfortunately).  If you wish to leave a comment on a post, click on that box and a dialogue box will appear – type your comment and click “submit”.  If you don’t want to enter your e-mail adress just use a fake one.  I do not work for the NSA.  Comments can be simple – “I like this” or “you are an idiot”.  My favorite one so far is “ha ha ha this”.  I guess he thought the post was funny.  I think that’s about it.  If you have any other questions, leave them in the comments.  Enjoy.

Confirmation: most reporters don’t know what the hell they’re talking about

Confirmation: most reporters don’t know what the hell they’re talking about

Today I found more confirmation of my belief that most reporters don’t know what the hell they’re talking about when they are reporting.  I posted about it here, and tangentially here.  At The Federalist Mollie Hemingway has an excellent article outlining chapter and verse how many young journalists, including some of today’s “rising stars” lack even the most basic factual knowledge of the subjects they report or opine on.  You owe it to yourself to click that link and read the whole thing – the takedown is epic.  



This dovetails nicely with my proposition that when everything you know is wrong, most likely everything you believe or say is wrong.  I suspect that these  young pundits are journalism school or liberal arts graduates who “want to make the world a better place”, but lack the basic factual knowledge of what the world actually is and how it came to be what it is.  For that reason, their ideas about how to “make it better” not only sound like pure nonsense, but are often actual pure nonsense.

There’s No Inflation…

There’s No Inflation…

There’s no inflation…unless you count food prices.  And why would you?  Who buys food ?  Ben Domenech writes at The Federalist that “Food Prices Are Soaring and Washington Doesn’t Care”.  Here’s a taste:

“a rational person might conclude that measuring food inflation without counting meat, fruit, and vegetables is like measuring the unemployment rate without counting men.  Here are the increases in a number of food costs, as well as the average hourly earnings, since the end of the recession (June 2009) through May 2014…the increases since June 2009 are: Beef and veal: +35.2%, Pork: +27%, Fish and seafood: +20.1%, Eggs: +33.1%, Dairy: +16.1%, Fresh Fruits: +13.8%. At the same time, Average Hourly Earnings have increased by 10.1%.”

Substantive analysis at the link.  Also…graphs.  So everyone knows that when the Fed increases the money supply (prints money), it results in inflation.  And when the Fed tells you there’s no inflation, it’s…well…

bovine excrement meter



Just Great: The EPA Now Claims the Authority to Garnish Our Wages

Just Great: The EPA Now Claims the Authority to Garnish Our Wages

This is just great: the EPA now claims the authority to garnish our wages.  That’s the Environmental Protection Agency.  Claiming authority to unilaterally – bypassing the courts – garnish our wages if we are deemed in violation of their rules.  And I guarantee you that they can find a rule you are in violation of if they wish.

According to this article in the Washington Times the Agency has adopted a rule stating it’s intention to use the authority, a neccessary step before legally asserting the authority.  The garnishment threat would be a powerful tool to get people to agree to expensive settlements with the EPA rather than fighting them.


This dovetails with a post I was going to write about Administrative Law and/or The Administrative State and how it is at odds with our Representative Republic system of government.  In a nutshell, the Administrative State is a power grab by the executive branch.  “Administrations” or “Agencies” such as the EPA, the IRS, FEMA etc etc fall under the executive branch of the Fedral Government.  These agencies are allowed to make “rules” which carry the force of law, but often carry none of the due process protections associated with actual legislation.  Hence, the IRS can seize your property without a court order and now the EPA wants this power, too.  The argument against Adminstrative Law is that if these “rules” carry the force of legislation, then they are in fact legislation.  And legislating is not one of the enumerated powers granted to the executive branch under the Constitution – Congress is the only branch that has that power.  I can’t do the argument justice, so I direct you to some excellent posts at PowerLine.

Why do you care or why should you care?  Admittedly the chances of any suburbanite running afoul of EPA regs are slim.  I said slim…not non-existent.  But if you are a farmer, rancher, or own any property on a lake or river or in a watershed of any kind, you’re chances are better.  And you probably won’t know until it’s too late.  Here is just one horror story.

Any expansion of powers granted to Executive Branch Agencies are, in my opinion, a direct threat to your freedom and mine, and also to our republic.  They should be opposed.

Cross Posted at Men Out of Work Blog


Old and Busted: Obamacare Death Panels “Kooky Paranoia”; New Hotness: Obamacare Death Panels “a Good Idea”

Old and Busted: Obamacare Death Panels “Kooky Paranoia”; New Hotness: Obamacare Death Panels “a Good Idea”

Remember the good old days when the Affordable Care Act was being debated and President Obama was talking about how Grandma might not get that pacemaker or that expensive surgery because she’s too old?  Maybe we’ll just give her a pill instead?  And when opponents of the bill claimed that it would lead to “death panels” that would decide if  it was financially expedient to give a patient expensive treatments if they were near the end of their life?  And how those people were mocked as kooky paranoids?  Me too…good times, good times.  Anyhoo…in order to muster the votes to pass the bill (it passed by the barest margin with no republican votes – remember that the next time someone tells you there’s no difference between R’s and D’s) the “end of life counseling” provisions were removed.  But the dream lives on!  In the Politico article “Let’s Talk about ‘Death Panels’ – It’s Time To Revisit a Good Idea That Was Distorted By Demagoguery” Harold Pollack argues with what I’m sure are the noblest of intentions (eyeroll) that Sarah Palin and some other stupid heads ruined this “good” idea with all their kooky paranoid talk about how it would evolve into healthcare rationing and some people, i.e. the disabled or elderly wouldn’t be allowed treatments just to save money.  Like they do in Great Britain at the NHS.

Pollack blames Palin and other right wing ideologues for making this an issue, but it was none other than President Obama himself during what seemed like countless townhall meetings to sell the plan to the public, while making all kinds of promises would not promise that elderly Americans could receive all the treatments they want because “it might be cheaper to give them a pill”.  He also promised that if you liked your doctor or your health plan you could keep your doctor or your health plan.  We know how that worked out…the 2013 Lie Of The Year.  So you’ll excuse me if I’m skeptical that you won’t pull the plug on me or my loved one to save some money.

obamacare cartoon


Of course, the bigger scandal is that we’re having this discussion at all because the federal government is now involved in healthcare decsions that should be between you and your doctor.  But I digress…

Part of the issue is federal compensation to doctors for “end of life counseling”, which isn’t allowed under The Act.  However, I’m pretty sure everyone gets end of life couseling as a routine part of their treatment without a specific “end of life counseling appointment”. I have been involved in the end of life care for  family members and this has been the case every time.  The Act doesn’t prohibit communication with your doctor or limit what can be discussed.

After reading through all the romanticized anecdotes in Pollack’s article about dying with dignity and hospice, and how Americans with the most reason to worry about death panels are among the most vocal supporters of “Health Care Reform”, the conclusion is this – saving money isn’t the goal, it’s just a happy coincidence.  And as far as the end of life counseling goes, in my opinion the goal is to open the door to assisted suicide.  We’ll make you your own death panel – the Government didn’t pull your plug!  You did!  That’s even cheaper!  Your Welcome!

Hat Tip:  Mickey Kaus at the Daily Caller

Everything you know is Wrong…what now?

Everything you know is Wrong…what now?

Garbage in, garbage out or GIGO was what they used to teach computer programmers back in the days of COBOL and FORTRAN.  COBOL and FORTRAN are the equivalents of Latin in computer programming language.  GIGO means what it says – if you put the wrong data in at the front, you’ll get wrong data out at the back.  And when this happens to you, Everything You Know is Wrong.

It is often said that a person is entitled to their own opinions; however, they are not entitled to their own facts.  Facts are facts.  Concrete and provable, they exist in their own right regardless of a person’s opinion of them.  “Disagreeing” with a fact doesn’t change it.  In today’s era of mass media countless people opine on various subjects, asserting strong opinions and making conclusory statements based on those opinions, yet their acquaintance with the facts may be more problematic.  If you mistake the opinions of people you agree with for facts, you are bound to go off the rails.  If your analysis of a situation begins with a fallacy, then all that follows will be more fallacy. Though I suspect there is a small chance that if an error is made in an analysis  of a fallacy, the right conclusion could be accidentally reached.  But I digress…



There is another phrase with the acronym GIGO – it is “Garbage In, Gospel Out” and refers to people who have complete faith in computer generated data, and could also refer to a class of people who not only believe they are entitled to their own facts, they believe that no one has a right to disagree with them and their ill-drawn conclusions.  They have immense emotional investment in their opinions -there is a level of quasi-religious zealotry not often seen even among religious cultists, much less among rank and file churchgoers.  They have an unflappable faith in “the facts as they interpret them”, unable or more likely unwilling to waver from their dogma.  And…because their analyses eschew facts and embrace emotion, everything they know is wrong.

For example....

For example….


Pulling all this together into the context of The Big Picture: daily living is an exercise in observing facts, processing them, formulating reactions to them and then taking those actions.  If your data is bad, or your formula is bad then face it – everything you know is wrong.  Question is – what now?

“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.” 
-Bertrand Russell

There’s a chance that’s not true, but I doubt it.



The Unassailable Logic of the Los Angeles Unified School District

The Unassailable Logic of the Los Angeles Unified School District

Los Angeles Unified School Disrtict Board: We spent $1 billion to give every student an I-Pad and the program was a disaster.  Dang!  What do we do now?  I know!  Let’s give every student a laptop!  Now we’re talkin!

This falls under the headings of “never expect a bureaucrat to understand the real world” and “no idea is stupid if it’s for the children”.  Yes, the LAUSD spent a billion dollars to hand out I-Pads as a “homework aid” for the children.  What could go wrong?  Firewalls were installed to keep those krazy kidz off of the social networking and porn sites.  The kids would be using these strictly for doing their calculus, physics and chemistry homework.  I mean what’s the difference between some schmendrick on the street and a rocket scientist?  Well, the rocket scientist gots a computer.  So let’s give all the kids computers and they’ll be rocket scientists.  This education thing isn’t so hard after all!  Well, what could go wrong did go wrong.  When most of the I-Pads were broken, lost or stolen the district policy was sufficiently vague as to relieve the students or their parents of responsibility.  As far as the firewalls, it was a simple matter for the middle and high schoolers to recruit some third graders to disable those.


Now chastened, the LAUSD is assessing what went wrong and how to move forward, and they have decided that what went wrong was a “one device fits all” approach.

“Why would we treat all our students — whether they are a first-grader or a high school freshman — as if they all had the same technology needs? They don’t…. To have a one-device-fits-all approach does not make sense.”, said LAUSD Board Member Monica Ratliff.  

Obviously that was the problem.  The fact that a single device was used district wide made it simple to lose, destroy or steal them.  Allowing schools to choose from 6 different models of laptops will take care of that.  Problem solved.  Heckuva job, Monica!  You can’t expect all the kids to be able to use the same device, can you?  That’s just kooky.  They need choices.  Like in the real world when you go to work in an office and the first thing they do is let you choose what kind of computer you want…Oh wait.

Initial funding for the I-Pad program came from a bond measure which all Californians recognize as “free money” and therefore impossible to waste.  The source of additional funding is unclear, but why not just pass another bond measure?  Or pick it from trees?  Better yet…I hear North Korea is printing some fine facsimile US currency these days.

May I make a suggestion?  What went wrong was not a “one device fits all” approach, it was an “any device at all fits” approach.  The idea that a first grader, or any elementary school student needs a laptop or I-Pad to learn their lessons is ludicrous on it’s face and a colossal waste of allegedly scarce education funds.  I think you could make an argument that high schoolers need have access to computers at school so they have the opportunity to learn to use the computer as a tool.  It’s not the I-Pad or laptop that makes one smart.  It is a tool, like a pencil is a tool, and  a piece of paper is a tool.  The kids need to learn to work the computer that drives that pencil and paper – that’s the one between their ears.  If they can’t work that one, all the computers in the world aren’t going to help.


Our “American Way of Life” Rests on the Edge of a Knife

Our “American Way of Life” Rests on the Edge of a Knife

Today the United States Supreme Court ruled on two cases.  I won’t go into details here – I may at a later date, but I don’t think readers of this blog want to wade that deep into the law.  If you do feel like wading, here are a couple good places to do so:   SCOTUSblog     and     The Volokh Conspiracy. My intention here is to make a broader observation, especially in light of the fact that Independence Day is just a few days away. Begin Observation:  The U.S. Supreme Court consists of nine Justices and is the people’s last line of defense against an overreaching Congress or President or in this case, both.  Often, as today, cases are decided with a one justice majority, i.e. 5-4.  In my informed opinion, four of the Justices are reliably pro-government and believe in essentially unlimited government power, regardless of Constitutional text.  Since I cannot see into their hearts to divine their true intentions, I give them benefit of the doubt and assume their motives are benevolent, and their goal is to build a utopian society where all forms of entitelments are “rights”, certain favored classes have more rights than others and the government is the source and sole provider of those rights.  Should a fifth Justice join them to form a pro-government majority, we can kiss our free country goodbye since individual liberty would be impossible in such a society.  I find the prospect of their benevolence frightening, especially in light of the fact that any means they choose to achieve their ends would be done with the blessing of their conscience.

click on the picture to enlarge

click on the picture to enlarge

No matter your ideaology, remember that a government big enough to give you everything you want can also take from you everything you have.  And take it will…because Government has nothing to give anyone that it hasn’t first taken from someone else.

How to Balance California’s Budget

How to Balance California’s Budget

I have an idea to balance California’s budget.  What’s that you say?  California already has a balanced budget?  I see…I see.  Look at that last line there…on the bottom.  In small print.  Why would there be $20,000.000.00 appropriated for “Smoke and Mirrors”?  Hmmm?  You see my point.

I have a real world solution.  We simply replace the entire legislature with a broken clock.

This one should do the trick

This one should do the trick


It’s a fact that a broken clock is right twice a day, which is two times a day more than the legislature is.  Case In Point: Plastic Bag Bans Will Cost You.

The fact that my idea is stupid is no reason not to do it.  That never stops the Legislature from pushing their silliness on all of us.  Besides…it’s for the children.  And it’s not stupid if it’s for the children.

You’re Welcome!

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