Posts Tagged ‘Budget’

Debt Limit Deal: Maybe Not Completely Awful?

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

There has been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth over the debt deal President Donald Trump made with congressional Democratic leaders that pushes U.S. debt over the $20 trillion mark.

Is it a bad deal? From my perspective, almost certainly. Debt is an existential threat to the Republic, and I believe that we should reduce spending by eliminating vast swathes of federal government programs (Federal housing sibsidies? End them. Department of Education? Eliminate it. Agribusiness subsides? End them all. Etc.) until the budget is balanced. Then you wouldn’t have to worry about hitting the debt limit at all.

Sadly, my position seems to be a decidedly minority one in D.C. Since politics is the art of the possible, it’s better to ask: How bad is President Trump’s deal among the constellation of actual debt limit deal possibilities?

The answer seems to be: Still not great, but maybe not as bad as first impressions.

It’s possible that President Trump went for the deal because he had no choice, as Republican congressional leadership was woefully unprepared on the issue:

With much of the Washington Republican establishment still grumbling about President Donald Trump’s decision earlier this week to strike a deal with Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, one prominent member of the House Freedom Caucus took to the Sunday Talk Shows to deliver what sounded like the faction’s official response to the week’s events.

In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan struck a delicate balance: criticizing the consequences of the president’s decision without impugning the man himself.

Jordan explained that while the Trump-Schumer-Pelosi deal wouldn’t be “good for the American taxpayer” the president can be excused for agreeing to it because Republicans in Congress failed to provide him with a suitable alternative.

And just like that, a member of the House’s most intransigent, conservative faction – the group that almost singlehandedly crushed the Trump administration’s health-care ambitions – turning the blame for Trump’s debt-ceiling can-kicking, and the powerful leverage that Democrats gained because of it, back on the president’s favorite opponents: Congressional Republicans.

Here’s Jordan:

I don’t think this was a good deal for the American taxpayer. We didn’t go anything to address the underlying $20 trillion debt but frankly what options did the president have in front of him? The first time the Republican conference talked about the debt ceiling was Sunday morning. And the Freedom Caucus had called for, nine and a half weeks ago, we said ‘don’t leave town until you have a plan on the debt ceiling’ and instead we went home for the longest August recess in a decade, longer even than in elections years.

Indeed, the deal House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wanted was actually worse for conservatives:

Trump on Wednesday agreed to the proposal of House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) to increase the national-debt limit for three months, and attach that to emergency aid for victims of Hurricane Harvey. But just days earlier, conservatives had been wringing their hands in fear that Schumer would turn the debt ceiling into the Democrats’ newest set of brass knuckles.

If not for the high-profile urgency of, in essence, stapling the debt limit to Harvey assistance, the pressing need to re-charge Uncle Sam’s credit card would have given Schumer a fresh way to beat up Republicans. Absent Harvey, Schumer and his band of toughs would have kidnapped the debt limit in exchange for something else, perhaps “DACA or death!” Instead, the debt-limit increase slid through, behind Harvey’s shield, with no last-minute hostage drama.

Trump rejected the offer of House speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) to extend the debt limit for 18 months, past the 2018 mid-term elections. This would have removed federal borrowing from the list of issues on which the GOP could have run next year. Obama hiked the national debt from $10.6 trillion to $19.9 trillion — a staggering 87.8 percent. That mess, and how to escape it, would have been a worthy GOP issue. Ryan and McConnell largely would have obviated that opportunity.

Ryan and McConnell’s 18-month proposal also would have deprived Republicans of a priceless “must pass” vehicle to which they could append items that Senate Democrats dislike. The GOP similarly handed Obama multiple long-term debt-limit extensions that prevented Republicans from sending him short-term debt-limit measures that he would have had to sign, notwithstanding amendments that rankled him. Republicans should not deploy the debt limit every month, in order to corner Schumer and Senate Democrats. But mothballing this weapon until spring 2019 smacks of unilateral disarmament.

From all reports, Ryan and McConnell were ready to drop-kick the debt-limit 18 months down the road, in return for . . . nothing. Even worse, as conservatives correctly complain, they did not tie the debt-limit boost to any structural reforms, such as a cap on federal spending as a share of GDP, adoption of the brilliant Penny Plan (which would balance the budget by cutting total spending by 1 percent every year for eight years), a private-sector audit of every federal department and sub-cabinet agency, or even converting Washington’s books from cash-basis to accrual accounting. Ryan and McConnell promised 18 months of borrowing and spending on autopilot. Trump properly rejected such fiscal brain death.

Now, in three months, fiscal conservatives can and should append reformist language to the next debt-limit increase. Ryan/McConnell would have denied them that opportunity until nearly two Easters hence.

If Schumer wanted to demand “DACA or death!” I would have seen how he likes death: no debt limit vote, cut spending until the budget is balanced, and let Schumer explain why it was necessary for welfare recipients to lose their checks so Democrats could amnesty more illegal aliens.

Like I said, mine seems to be a minority viewpoint.

There are also reports that the deal is written in such a way that McConell might get the last laugh:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wrote in some “extraordinary” provisions to the debt ceiling bill that could mean there won’t be another debt ceiling fight in 2017 after all, he revealed on “The New Washington” podcast Monday.

McConnell insisted, in the face of Democrats’ objections, that the bill be written to preserve the Treasury’s ability to extend federal borrowing power by moving money around within government accounts. In layman’s terms, that means the Republicans can work around the December debt limit deadline and push that issue into 2018.

All this is just rearranging deck chairs on the Debtanic as long as the driving motivation for current congressional leadership is avoiding bad poll numbers rather than actual conservative governance. But short of a debt deal that includes spine replacement surgery for congressional leadership, there seems precious little chance of congress fulfilling any of the myriad conservative promises they made when Obama occupied the White House.

LinkSwarm for September 8, 2017

Friday, September 8th, 2017

It would be swell if I could stop leading the LinkSwarm off with hurricane-related news, but Irma is now a class five hurricane headed straight at Florida. If you’re in any evacuation zones, heed authorities, as this does not look like a storm you want to ride out in place unless you have to. Hsoi’s preparedness checklist is also a good thing to go over earlier rather than later.

  • One reason President Donald Trump had to act on DACA: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and nine other states were threatening to sue to end Obama unconstitutional backdoor amnesty program.
  • “¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Obama lawyer who worked on DACA admits it’s probably unconstitutional.” And yes, the ASCII Shrugging Emoji is actually in the headline, so it just wouldn’t have felt honest to leave it out…
  • “Trump’s Crackdown on Illegal Aliens is Driving Wage-Growth in US Construction Industry by up to 30%.” In other news: Basic economics have not been repealed by liberal talking points. (Hat tip: Borepatch.)
  • Congress passes hurricane relief bill and debt ceiling hike. Both John Cornyn and Ted Cruz voted in favor of the bill. I haven’t read the bill, but I’m hoping it’s less stuffed with pork than the Sandy bill.
  • J.J. Watt’s Hurricane Harvey flood relief fundraiser hits $29 million.
  • What it takes to keep HEB stores up and running after a hurricane.

    One of my stores, we had 300 employees; 140 of them were displaced by the flooding. So how do you put your store back together quickly? We asked for volunteers in the rest of the company. We brought over 2,000 partners from Austin, San Antonio, the Rio Grande Valley. They hopped into cars and they just drove to Houston. They said, we’re here to help. It’s shitty work. For 18 hours a day, they’re going to help us restock and then they’ll go sleep on the couch at somebody’s house.

  • The bribery trial for New jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez gets under way.
  • “It Appears That Out-of-State Voters Changed the Outcome of the New Hampshire U.S. Senate Race.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Why Israel had to bomb Syria’s chemical weapons complex. For one thing, it looks like Iran, Assad and Hezbollah will all emerge strengthened from the Syrian civil war…
  • Speaking of Iran, they’re amassing new weaponry. “While all eyes are on North Korea, Iran is advancing its weapons technology. The country recently tested and announced the success of their new Bavar 373 long range, mobile, anti-missile defense system. Everything in the system is manufactured in Iran; it requires no support from outside sources.” However, since Iran has (to my knowledge) no wafer fabrication plants to produce integrated circuits, this statement is almost certainly false, at least as far as electronics goes. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • “Bulgaria is projected to have the fastest-shrinking population in the world.” I suspect this is a combination of communism (and its aftermath) sucking, of it wrecking disproportionately more damage on backward, mostly rural countries, and of the general trend in Europe toward a modern, unchurched, welfare state society, with its attendant population decline.
  • Betty DeVos vows to dismantle the Obama-era campus kangaroo rape courts. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Twitter Bans Activist Mommy for Tweeting Her Dislike of Teen Vogue’s Anal Sex Guide.” (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • This is disappointing.
  • Texans handled Harvey better than Louisianans handled Katrina because both their governments and societies are more functional.
  • Another day, another fake hate crime. (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • The American Railway union was founded on segregation. “George Pullman famously hired African Americans to work for him. Eugene Debs infamously did not allow African Americans to join his union striking against Pullman’s company.”
  • Al Gore’s new book being outsold by scientist’s book debunking Al Gore.
  • I laughed.
  • Gov. Abbott Calls Special Session

    Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

    On Tuesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott called a special session of the Texas Legislature starting July 18:

    Abbott gave legislators an ambitious 19-item agenda to work on — including a so-called “bathroom bill” — after they approve must-pass legislation that they failed to advance during the regular session. An overtime round, Abbott said, was “entirely avoidable.”

    “Because of their inability or refusal to pass a simple law that would prevent the medical profession from shutting down, I’m announcing a special session to complete that unfinished business,” Abbott told reporters. “But if I’m going to ask taxpayers to foot the bill for a special session, I intend to make it count.”

    (Ignore the usual Texas Tribune hand-wringing about the “controversial” nature of the bathroom law; it’s just a restoration of the status quo, reversing what the Obama Administration imposed on the nation via executive fiat.)

    Here are Governor Abbott’s 19 items:

  • Teacher pay increase of $1,000
  • Administrative flexibility in teacher hiring and retention practices
  • School finance reform commission
  • School choice for special needs students
  • Property tax reform
  • Caps on state and local spending
  • Preventing cities from regulating what property owners do with trees on private land
  • Preventing local governments from changing rules midway through construction projects
  • Speeding up local government permitting process
  • Municipal annexation reform
  • Texting while driving preemption
  • Privacy
  • Prohibition of taxpayer dollars to collect union dues
  • Prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortion providers
  • Pro-life insurance reform
  • Strengthening abortion reporting requirements when health complications arise
  • Strengthening patient protections relating to do-not-resuscitate orders
  • Cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud
  • Extending maternal mortality task force
  • That’s an ambitious agenda…if Texas Speaker Joe Straus, who did so much to thwart so many of those items, let’s any of them pass.

    In an effort to force the special session, [Lieutenant Governor] Patrick had held hostage legislation, known as a “sunset bill,” that would keep some state agencies from closing. That “will be the only legislation on the special session [agenda] until they pass out of the Senate in full,” Abbott said.

    That’s quite defensible from a governance perspective, but it is going to eliminate Lt. Gov. Patrick’s biggest piece of leverage against Straus.

    With fewer items on the agenda, maybe House Republicans will have a chance to concentrate and actually act like Republicans rather than let Straus’ liberal coalition run roughshod over them.

    LinkSwarm for May 5, 2017

    Friday, May 5th, 2017

    Happy Cinco de Mayo, the holiday that celebrates the French army getting their asses kicked by Mexicans!

    A bunch of big news that everyone and their dog has been covering at the top of the LinkSwarm:

  • Big News 1: Despite having the House, Senate and White House, House Republicans spinelessly cave on budget negotiations. “It is noteworthy for what it does not include: namely, most of Donald Trump’s and Republicans’ recent campaign promises. The bill does not defund Planned Parenthood. It does not include any of the president’s deep cuts to domestic agencies. Public broadcasting is funded at current levels. The National Endowment for the Arts’ budget is increased. There’s even funding for California’s high-speed rail.”
  • Big News 2: House Republicans also passed an ObamaCare replacement bill.
  • Consensus is that it sucks less than both ObamaCare and the March versions of the bill, but still sucks plenty. The Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Chip Roy had this to say in a press release:

    “Today, conservative leaders in the House brought the American people a glimmer of hope that states might save American healthcare from the clutches of a federally controlled and regulated system under Obamacare,” said Roy. “This improved version of the American Health Care Act grants governors the ability to seek waivers from the onerous Obamacare regulations that unfortunately remain in place as the default rule even under this bill. This means governors would have both the opportunity and the burden of leading to free their states from these default regulations.”

    “Further reform remains necessary, however, as the bill retains far too much of Obamacare’s flawed Medicaid expansion, replaces one form of subsidy with an even more expansive one in the form of a refundable tax credit, creates a $138 billion slush fund for insurers, and leaves almost all of Obamacare’s cost-driving regulations and mandates as the federal standard,” Roy continued. “As the bill heads to the Senate, we hope it will be improved, at least by allowing states to opt in to Obamacare rather than forcing states to temporarily, partially opt out.”

  • By one account, the ObamaCare replacement amounts to a $1 trillion tax cut. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • French runoff Presidential elections happen Sunday. The overwhelming favorite Emmanuel Macron is being pummeled by leaked documents (sound familiar?) that suggest he’s been avoiding taxes using offshore accounts. Naturally French prosecutors are ready to pounce…on those spreading the allegations.
  • Texas legislation to repeal sanctuary cities heads to Governor Abbott’s desk.
  • And Travis County sheriff Sally Hernandez even says she’ll obey the law. Imagine that!
  • The Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office want police to know that illegal aliens have more rights than American citizens and shouldn’t be prosecuted.
  • President Trump’s insistence on actually enforcing immigration laws is already paying dividends.

    The concrete, realpolitik reason that amnesty is dead is that the appropriate law enforcement policies have been set in motion and they are gaining momentum fast!

    I have long argued that the illegal alien community in the United States is highly fragile. President Trump’s executive order directing Immigration and Customs Authorities and Border Patrol officers to broadly interpret their jurisdiction for capturing and removing illegal aliens has had the immediate effect of decreasing attempts to cross the border as well as inspiring panic in illegal immigrant communities. Police officers and county sheriffs have told me that, even at the height of the Obama era of nonenforcement, illegal aliens shunned the police. Now, in the era of Trump, the possibility of going to work and ending your week in Mexico is a real and potent threat. (This is particularly true if you live, as I do, in Massachusetts). It is a commonplace that law enforcement professionals go to sleep muttering “5% enforcement equals 95% compliance.”

    At the same time, businesses cannot prosper in an environment of uncertainty. The initial impulse of business owners in agriculture and other illegal-alien-heavy industries is to demand, yet again, some succor from the government in terms of work permits for their illegal workers. Just such measures are championed by incoming Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. However, assuming this relief is not forthcoming in the near future (and I’ll get to that in a minute) the only rational policy is for business owners to begin exploring their other options — which might include automation or wage increases.

    When every small business owner in America finally takes paper and pencil and sits down at the kitchen table with their spouse and says “honey, we are going to have to figure out how to make our business work when we can’t hire illegal aliens anymore,” then and only then will the light appear at the end of the tunnel.

    But the key to the problem and the reason for optimism is this: with the law now being enforced, however incrementally, even without funds for more agents, even without funds for the Wall, even without E-Verify, the pressure to re-evaluate in the illegal alien and the business communities will only grow. The success of the policy in reducing the inflow and initiating “self-deportation” will feed back on itself. For years the only salient argument of the open borders advocates on both the right and the left was that enforcing the current laws on the books was impossible. As it becomes obvious how easy, in fact, enforcement is, those advocates will be forced to rely on their more avaricious motives for keeping illegal aliens here.

  • One in four federal inmates is foreign born. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Why Hillary lost, Part 6974: Voters who went for Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016.
  • Welcome back my friends to the 2016 election that never ends, we’re so glad you could attend, come inside, come inside. There behind the glass is a pile of Hillary’s foreign cash, be careful as you pass, move along, move along. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Even Dianne Feinstein says there’s no evidence of Russian meddling in the election. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • President Trump is more trusted than the national media.
  • Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro decides not to run against Ted Cruz. Smart move.
  • Did a Pakistani ISI assassin defect to India? Sources say: Maybe not.
  • Netflix deletes Bill Nye segment from 1996 that talks about how chromosomes determine sex. When science clashes with the current smelly orthodoxies of liberal dogma, it seems that science gets the axe.
  • Following Victims of Communism Day, here are ten films on the victims of Communism. These appear to be all documentaries.
  • VA official who kept secret wait lists veterans died on fired. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Puerto Rico declares bankruptcy.
  • Is Russia arming the Taliban?
  • “A New Instance of Android Malware is Discovered Every 10 Seconds.”
  • Leftists try to take over the Humble school board.
  • And don’t forget the Rond Rock Bond issue vote this Saturday.
  • Lunatic scumbag street-preacher/tax evader/child molester Tony Alamo dies in prison. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Auction for a treasure trove of early material on the Nation of Islam. Including two manuscripts handwritten by founder Wallace Fard Muhammad, who disappeared in 1934. Alas, the opening bid is a tad steep for my blood…
  • LinkSwarm for April 14, 2017

    Friday, April 14th, 2017

    Good news, everyone! Your tax returns aren’t due until April 18th this year. So you can panic slightly later than usual…

  • How Trump won: by “consolidating the Republican base and then earning massive levels of support from whites without a college degree.” With lots of wonky demographic data goodness. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • More on that district-by-distract voting map in last week’s LinkSwarm.
  • The Beltway has a spending problem.
  • Republicans retain Kansas’ fourth congressional district.
  • Brian Krebs would like you to know thatches week’s Russian spammer arrest in Spain had nothing to do with election hacking.
  • Scumbag who killed Brian Terry with a Fast and Furious gun arrested in Mexico. (Insert innocent until proven guilty yada here.)
  • Hey Lois Lerner: If you want to seal your testimony because you think it might bring death threats, maybe you shouldn’t have used the IRS as a weapon against your domestic political enemies… (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • BATF spending taxpayer dollars on NASCAR race suites.
  • Did Hezbollah take out their own second-in-command?
  • Texas Governor Greg Abbott: build the border wall with funds withheld from sanctuary cities. (Hat tip: Dierctor Blue.)
  • Gavin McInnes at Taki’s Magazine thinks the Syria strike was five different 4D chessboard wins. Excerpts: “This shows women that America is in charge and we will keep the world’s children safe. Deep down, all they really want is a patriarchy.” And: “Obama’s legacy was the only death on April 6, 2017.”
  • U.S. forces drop a GBU-43/B Massive Ordinance Air Blast bomb on Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan.
  • “Obama’s covert drone war in numbers: ten times more strikes than Bush.” Details: “A total of 563 strikes, largely by drones, targeted Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen during Obama’s two terms, compared to 57 strikes under Bush. Between 384 and 807 civilians were killed in those countries.”
  • Inside baseball account of the Gorsuch confirmation battle. Also:

    It turned out the open seat was an “electoral asset” for Trump. Voters didn’t like him or Hillary Clinton. But once filling the seat became the “principal issue,” Trump had the advantage. Everyone knew she would dump Garland, a moderate, for someone further to the left.

    “We didn’t know if the president would be a conservative or not,” McConnell said. However, he had promised to pick a nominee from a list of 20 conservative jurists. (McConnell had advocated such a list.) “This reassured conservatives.” The result: he got 90 percent of the Republican vote and won.”

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • Daily Mail pays Melania Trump $2.9 million for calling her a whore.
  • Prisoners secretly build computers from recycled parts, hide them in the ceiling, hook them up to the prison network, and use them to commit fraud. “They were able to travel through the institution more than 1,100 feet without being checked by security through several check points, and not a single correction’s staff member stopped them from transporting these computers into the administrative portion of the building. It’s almost if it’s an episode of Hogan’s Heroes.” That’s some mighty fine correctional supervision there, Marion Correctional Institution…
  • Is the Trump dip over in gun sales? (Hat tip: Shall Not Be Questioned.)
  • Archeologist Jacques Cinq-Mars was attacked and shunned for offering up evidence that challenged the scientific consensus of the day. Good thing there’s no way that could possibly happen in climate research…
  • Why not a reverse auction for airline overbooking? (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Ft. Hood brings the Funk.
  • Austin-area massage parlor turns out to be a front for prostitution. Try to contain your shock.
  • Enjoy your Easter weekend!

    LinkSwarm for March 24, 2017

    Friday, March 24th, 2017

    This week I started a new job and started working on my taxes, so expect scattered patches of Light Blogging for the next few weeks…

  • Everyone in Washington hates Donald Trump’s new budget. So it must have something going for it. This is a budget plan that will surgically remove trillions of dollars of wasteful spending from the obese $3.9 trillion federal budget. Many agencies will have to live with cuts of 5, 10 and 30 percent, while other outdated, duplicative or unproductive programs will go to the graveyard.”
  • Neil Gorsuch appears to be headed toward confirmation to the Supreme Court.
  • The Obama Administrations was carrying out surveillance of the Trump transition team:

    “First, I recently confirmed that on numerous occasions, the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition. Second, details about U.S. persons associated with the incoming administration, details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value, were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting. Third, I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked. Fourth and finally, I want to be clear, none of this surveillance was related to Russia or the investigation of Russian activities or of the Trump team.”

    One wonders if his data collection was as “incidentally” as the IRS auditing conservatives…

  • Borepatch has a handy summary of the global warming controversy, with just enough technical details to provide a nice overview.
  • London: “You are entering a Sharia controlled zone. Islamic rules enforced.” Also this: “According to the Association of Chief Police Officers, every year 17,000 Muslim women in Britain become victims of forced marriages, are raped by their husbands or subjected to female genital mutilation.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Italians used to look to Europe as a kind of savior: the Italian state was corrupt and inept, but Brussels would set a higher standard, and by loyal support for the EU, Italy could rise above its own problems. These days, the EU looks more like an anchor than a lifejacket.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Philadelphia’s Democratic District Attorney Seth Williams indicted on corruption and bribery charges. Oh, he also allegedly stole more than $20,000 from his own mother’s Social Security and pension funds. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Barack Obama violated the Constitution when he appointed a general counsel to the NLRB after the Senate refused to confirm him.” Notable: 6-2 Supreme Court decision. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “I would argue that Pakistan’s history teaches at least three lessons. The first: Elections alone do not produce democracy. The second: Majority rule without minority rights leads to egregious illiberalism. Third: A state committed to the pursuit of religious ‘purity’ will always find some of its subjects in need of ‘cleansing.’ Down that path despotism lies.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Denmark doesn’t want to become Sweden.
  • The shape of battles to come.
  • Kurt Schlichter imagines how a second Korean War would unfold. Not so hot for the norks…
  • He came to America illegally with a dream…of raping a two year old. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • I’m still not tired of all the winning.
  • “Molecule kills elderly cells, reduces signs of aging in mice.” Faster please.
  • Texas to eliminate legal bribery in Brown County.
  • Karl Rehn on beyond the 1%. “93% of the 3.2 million adult gun owners in Texas likely do not train. 4% of them take the mandatory new permit course, at best 3% of them take some kind of NRA course, and only 1%, less than 30K, take any kind of post-CHL level course or shoot any kind of match, including all kinds of pistol, NRA high power, and all the shotgun sports.”
  • Dwight blogged about a case where a convenience store robber was found not guilty of aggravated assault because he was using an Airsoft pellet gun in the robbery. Evidently the reason for the verdict was the DA’s decision not to seek a lesser charge. It seems that the possibility of convicting on lesser charges is subject to instructions from the judge. The question that occurs to me: Is a criminal jury empowered to find a defendant guilty of one or more lesser charges if they were given no instructions regarding lesser charges from the judge?
  • London jihad-attack tweet:

  • Scott Adams describes how Bloomberg assembled a hit piece on him by taking things out of context, all because he was predicting a Trump victory in 2016. Remember: Every MSM hit piece on a conservative you see is constructed and slanted in similar ways.
  • Exit fat Barbie.
  • Statistical analysis of writer’s work. Elmore Leonard hates exclamation points, but James Joyce loves them…
  • LinkSwarm for March 3, 2017

    Friday, March 3rd, 2017

    Welcome to another Friday LinkSwarm! (On a personal note, if you know of any technical writing positions here in the Austin area, please let me know.)

  • U.S. troops in Iraq finally get to enjoy sane rules of engagement. (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • George Soros-funded group is providing scripts for those “spontaneous” town hall protests. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • For many Democrats, President Trump’s joint address was the first time they actual heard and saw him unfiltered. “He just crushed the Drive-By [Media] last night. He just crushed them. He just blew up every narrative they’ve established on the guy. And they don’t even realize it.”
  • “As one might imagine given the Democrats’ breathtaking electoral collapse, there is basically nothing but bad news for Democrats across the board. The data showed that the voting patterns of key demographic groups shifted dramatically downward from 2008 through 2016.” More: “Contrary to the emerging Democratic majority thesis, there does not seem to be any demographic category with which Democrats are progressively improving.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Maine: Want to work for a living? Welfare recipient: Nah! Maine: Well then, I guess you won’t be needing these food stamps.
  • Man arrested for making threats to Jewish groups is a Bernie Bro and former reporter for The Intercept. Bonus 1: His Twitter page calls capitalists “bloodsuckers.” Gee, that rhetoric seems familiar somehow… Bonus 2: This is hot on the heels of another Intercept writer poo-pooing the idea that Democrats might be targeting Jews.
  • “The Congressional Review Act of 1996 is a ‘sleeper statute’ (aka, a secret weapon) in that its practical application took 20 years to enter the realm of viable possibility. The CRA allows Congress to overturn executive regulations by a simple majority—and this is the moment it’s been waiting for.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • TBS guy at CPAC asks DA Tech Guy to help him make fake news.(Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • No. Just no. And how come SMONE ELSE isn’t running away with the race?
  • “Trump Was Right: Large Amounts of Actionable Intelligence Found in Yemen Raid.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Leading French Presidential candidate Francois Fillon investigated for paying his own family “€1m ($1.05m) of public money for allegedly fake jobs.”
  • Geert Wilders’ party is poised to win the most votes in Dutch elections March 15. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Members of an elite Baltimore Police Department squad charged with getting guns off the streets gets hit with federal racketeering charges and held for trial without bail. More: “In one case, four of the officers are alleged to have stolen $200,000 from a safe and bags and a watch valued at $4,000. In July 2016, three officers conspired to impersonate a federal officer in order to steal $20,000 in cash.” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Apple Board Member Al Gore makes $29 million in profit selling Apple stock.
  • Authenticity is bunk. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Help me Watergate, you’re my only hope!

    The NYT and the Washington Post have a motivation to ally with the Democratic Party in its last-ditch effort to Watergatize Trump after Trump’s endless criticisms of them. And this anti-Trump approach may get them a spike in readership, even as it repels some readers like me.

    I’m missing the sense that I’m getting the normal news. It seems unfair and shoddy not to cover the President the way you’d cover any President. What looks like an effort to stigmatize Trump as not normal has — to my eyes — made the media abnormal.

    Snip.

    The more seemingly normal Trump becomes — as with his speech to Congress the other day — the more the anti-Trump approach of the news media feels like a hackish alliance with the Democratic Party in its sad, negative, backward-looking effort to disrupt the President the people elected.

  • Have any of my friends lost a gun transiting Austin Bergstrom Airport? If so, a baggage handler may have stole your gun to trade for pot.

    Austin police have charged Matthew Bartlett, 21, and Catronn Hewitt, 36, with felony possession of marijuana, police said in a news release.

    Ja’Quan Johnson, 25, was charged with federal charges in connection with the thefts. Johnson is a contract baggage handler at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and is believed to have been behind the thefts, according to police and the Justice Department.

    Buying pot? Likely misdemeanor charge. But stealing guns from airport luggage is likely an interstate federal gun trafficking felony. Also: Our airport security is in the best of hands!

  • Houston Chronicle to move its call center from the Philippines to Dallas. 1. Who thought it was a good idea to move it to the Philippines in the first place? 2. “The move will result in 130 new jobs for Texas.” Why does the Chronicle need 130 people in its call center? 3. Dallas? Really? Because it’s evidently impossible to locate a call center in the 4th largest city in America…
  • SEC charges against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton dismissed. A state felony trail is pending, but given that the state charges are based on the same issue as the SEC case just dismissed, chances of a conviction would appear to be very slim. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Trump Derangement Syndrome in La La Land.
  • How was I to know/She was with the Russians too?

  • Speaking of which:

  • Indeed, “Russia!” is now the go-to move for the media the same way a bad video game player will just use the same button combination over and over again:

  • Happiest stinkiest place in the world. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio flew eyebrow artist 7,500 miles to do his brows for the Oscars. (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Insecure Mongo DB run by toy company hit with ransomware.
  • Ever wanted Mickey Spillane’ typewriter or his World War II uniform? Now’s your chance. I already put in a bid on Spillane’s concealed gun permit…
  • Trump Budget to Eliminate PBS, NEA, NEH, LCS, Americorps?

    Monday, February 20th, 2017

    Let’s take a look at this New York Times piece titled “Popular Domestic Programs Face Ax Under First Trump Budget.”

    WASHINGTON — The White House budget office has drafted a hit list of programs that President Trump could eliminate to trim domestic spending, including longstanding conservative targets like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Legal Services Corporation, AmeriCorps and the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities.

    At this point I have to break out this Archer meme:

    You know what all these programs have in common: None are constitutionally enumerated concerns of the federal government.

    And note the headline: “Popular Domestic Programs.” Popular to who? Why, Democrats, of course. I would imagine that 90+% of the money spent on those programs goes directly into the pockets of Democrats, and mostly well-heeled and well-connected ones at that.

    More:

    Work on the first Trump administration budget has been delayed as the budget office awaited Senate confirmation of former Representative Mick Mulvaney, a spending hard-liner, as budget director. Now that he is in place, his office is ready to move ahead with a list of nine programs to eliminate, an opening salvo in the Trump administration’s effort to reorder the government and increase spending on defense and infrastructure.

    Most of the programs cost under $500 million annually, a pittance for a government that is projected to spend about $4 trillion this year. And a few are surprising, even though most if not all have been perennial targets for conservatives.

    Mr. Trump has spoken volubly about the nation’s drug problems, yet the list includes the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, which dispenses grants to reduce drug use and drug trafficking. And despite Mr. Trump’s vocal promotion of American exports, the list includes the Export-Import Bank, which has guaranteed loans to foreign customers of American companies since the 1930s.

    While the total amount of annual savings of roughly $2.5 billion would be comparatively small, administration officials want to highlight the agencies in their coming budget proposal as examples of misuse of taxpayer dollars. An internal memo circulated within the Office of Management and Budget on Tuesday, and obtained by The New York Times, notes that the list could change. Proposals for more extensive cuts in cabinet-level agencies are expected to follow.

    All this, of course, could be a trial balloon, and the actual budget cuts could be far more timid. But overall, it’s exceptionally promising, especially since Trump did not evidence much (if any) enthusiasm for budget cutting on the campaign trail. But a willingness to kill entire agencies (especially those that make of some of the Democratic Party’s favorite slush funds) is incredibly heartening.

    If America is going to deal with the existential threat that is the national debt, there needs to be a lot more budget cutting ahead.

    LinkSwarm for January 13, 2016

    Friday, January 13th, 2017

    Time to extract more pure wheat from chaff!

  • Glenn Greenwald says Democrats will go to any lengths to avoid blaming themselves for their debacle:

    I really haven’t experienced anything even remotely like the smear campaign that has been launched by Democrats in this really coordinated way ever since I began just expressing skepticism about the prevailing narrative over Russia and its role that it allegedly played in the election and, in particular, in helping to defeat Hillary Clinton. I mean, not even the reporting I did based on the Edward Snowden archive, which was extremely controversial in multiple countries around the world, not even that compared to the attacks now.

    And the reason is very, very obvious, which is that it has become exceptionally important to Democratic partisans to believe that the reason they lost this election is not because they chose a candidate who was corrupt and who was extremely disliked and who symbolized all of the worst failings of the Democratic Party. It’s extremely important to them not to face what is really a systemic collapse on the part of the Democratic Party as a political force in the United States, in the House, in the Senate, in state houses and governorships all over the country. And so, in order not to face any of that and have to confront their own failings, they instead want to focus everything on Vladimir Putin and Russia and insist that the reason they lost was because this big, bad dictator interfered in the election. And anyone who challenges or anyone who questions that instantly becomes not just their enemy, but now, according to their framework, someone who’s actually unpatriotic, that if you question the evidence, the sufficiency of the evidence to support this theory, that somehow your loyalties are suspect, that you’re not just a critic of the Democratic Party, you’re actually a stooge of or an agent of the Kremlin.

  • In fact, Greenwald is all over this week’s LinkSwarm, saying that the U.S. “deep state” is at war with Trump:

    For months, the CIA, with unprecedented clarity, overtly threw its weight behind Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and sought to defeat Donald Trump. In August, former acting CIA Director Michael Morell announced his endorsement of Clinton in the New York Times and claimed that “Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.” The CIA and NSA director under George W. Bush, Gen. Michael Hayden, also endorsed Clinton and went to the Washington Post to warn, in the week before the election, that “Donald Trump really does sound a lot like Vladimir Putin,” adding that Trump is “the useful fool, some naif, manipulated by Moscow, secretly held in contempt, but whose blind support is happily accepted and exploited.”

    It is not hard to understand why the CIA preferred Clinton over Trump. Clinton was critical of Obama for restraining the CIA’s proxy war in Syria and was eager to expand that war, while Trump denounced it. Clinton clearly wanted a harder line than Obama took against the CIA’s long-standing foes in Moscow, while Trump wanted improved relations and greater cooperation. In general, Clinton defended and intended to extend the decadeslong international military order on which the CIA and Pentagon’s preeminence depends, while Trump — through a still-uncertain mix of instability and extremist conviction — posed a threat to it.

    Whatever one’s views are on those debates, it is the democratic framework — the presidential election, the confirmation process, congressional leaders, judicial proceedings, citizen activism and protest, civil disobedience — that should determine how they are resolved. All of those policy disputes were debated out in the open; the public heard them; and Trump won. Nobody should crave the rule of Deep State overlords.

    Yet craving Deep State rule is exactly what prominent Democratic operatives and media figures are doing.

    One need not buy all of Greenwald’s analysis of geopolitics or Trump to conclude that his analysis of the current alliance between Democrats, the media and the intelligence community is essentially correct. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)

  • Borepatch, who is a real life computer security expert, is not impressed with the Russian hacking claims:

    My take is that several state actors certainly hacked Hillary’s email server for years and years, and silently read all her communications. Probably more than one state actor penetrated the DNC email system for several years.

    It’s plausible than an insider leaked the DNC emails – some BertieBro IT Admin type who saw how the sausage was being made and who was smart enough to cover his tracks while pointing clues towards Russia.

    Bottom line, this is a tale told by an idiot; full of sound and fury and signifying nothing. We know that something happened, but we don’t know who did it, and what they say in the report doesn’t change that.

  • Borepatch, in turn, points to this detailed analysis of the security on both Hillary’s email server and the DNC:

    At this point, we can largely dispose of Hillary’s Hack. It was an open book to all comers and at least one was Romanian (and sharing with friends) and not Russia. However, I’d say it was almost certain that at some time a Russian intrusion happened. The name of the server was obvious. The location insecure. The operating system and protective layers a joke. Frankly, I’d expect them to be “in” the same day they first looked at it. Which means something like 8 years ago. So why didn’t things leak then?

    Because the Russians Are Not Stupid. A fundamental of spycraft is you don’t expose sources and methods, you use them to collect intel for your use, not publication. I suspect they enjoyed a near real time email feed from the Secretary Of State for years, in silence. This argues for email dump to be someone other than them. My personal muse would be an NSA guy, aghast at what was in evidence. Like a Snowden, but not willing to give up the $1/4 Million salary… He (or she…) would have all the requisite skilz to pull it off and leave no finger prints, access to PRISM, and lots of neat toys to work with. Though more likely would be the underpaid I.T. guy Hillary had set it up who was making a backup one day and dropped a load… But I digress.

    The bottom line on Hillary is we know she kept a full copy (found on Huma’s Laptop with the Wiener…) and that it was around until she had her lawyers erase it. We know it surfaced in full at the time the laptop went to the FBI, and in parts before that. We know at least one of her hackers was found (though he had likely not leaked it) and that he said he had a doomsday copy for safety. He wasn’t a very good hacker, so that shows lots of good ones walked right in and snagged copies. Assigning source of any Hillary leaks is going to be an exercise is “ME ME MEE!!! PICK MEEE!” with a dozen hands up in the room.

  • More from Guccifer 2.0 himself: “I have totally no relation to the Russian government. I’d like to tell you once again I was acting in accordance with my personal political views and beliefs. The technical evidence contained in the reports doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. This is a crude fake.” (Hat tip: Zero Hedge.)
  • “The opposition research firm that hired a former British spy to dig up dirt on Donald Trump is the same shady outfit that was hired by Planned Parenthood to put a positive spin on videos showing the sale of baby parts.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Our new Secretary of Defense sounds serious about defeating the Islamic State. “We should try to shut down its recruiting, shut down its finances, and then work to fight battles of annihilation — not attrition, but annihilation — against them; so that the first time they meet the forces that we put against them, there should basically be no survivors.”
  • Speaking of which: “Islamic State publishes video of toddler executing prisoner on playground.”
  • House Republicans are already laying the groundwork to repeal ObamaCare.
  • News media buries story of Jeff Sessions bankrupting the Klu Klux Klan in Alabama because it doesn’t fit their narrative. (Hat tip: Dierctor Blue.)
  • Mexican illegal aliens are already self-deporting in advance of Trump’s inauguration. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • The problem with rule by experts:

    The problem that we are faced with, and what the American people seem to be rebelling against, are the “experts” who seek to influence government policy in ways voters are either opposed to or at the very least find ineffective and expensive.

    To put it bluntly: those experts have screwed a lot of shit up. Obamacare, American foreign policy, the war on drugs, domestic environmental policy, the economy…the list of issues is seemingly endless. The American people were told for at least the last eight years that the smart set was in charge, and things would be just dandy if only we allowed the “experts” free rein. The problem is that there are a lot of things that may seem smart on paper but which just won’t work when forcibly applied to the citizens of 50 separate states, with 50 separate economies, and 50 distinct voting bases, and this assessment assumes that those implementing policy actually have America’s best interests as a free republic at heart.

    This leads us to the real heart of the matter: liberty. The Washington political and bureaucratic classes have no Constitutional right to force the “solutions” to any of these problems on their fellow citizens. The health insurance “problem” is not a national problem insofar as there is no Constitutional right to health insurance (or even healthcare), and the answer to what problems there are in healthcare in Texas are very probably not the same as the answer for New Hampshire or Oregon. The federal government institutes regulations constantly affecting the economy that have no Constitutional basis. There is no Constitutional basis whatsoever for banning or regulating any drug at the Federal level, and yet we’re told we have a national “opioid epidemic” that demands a federal solution. Foreign policy experts are undoubtedly necessary, but our foreign policy, when any logic or reason can be discerned in it at all, certainly doesn’t seem to be guided by any experts in the field. There is even a very good possibility that actually fixing any “problem” at the federal level is viewed as bad for business, because without the problem to solve there would be a lot of unemployable experts.

    In short, the American people don’t have a problem with experts or intellectuals. What they have a problem with is incompetence, and it is just a fact of life that the larger and more remote the government and bureaucracy become, the more incompetent and unaccountable they will be.

  • Thanks Obama. “93 percent of police officers are concerned about their safety on the job; 72 percent are less willing to stop suspicious characters; and 75 percent report increased tension between cops and the black community.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • U.S. troops sent on permenant deployment to Poland. Given that Poland joined NATO in 1999, it’s a surprise it took this long. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • About half the EU has been cheating on the 3% deficit ceiling fiscal discipline rule half the time. Only Finland, Estonia, Luxembourg and Sweden have never broken the rule. And Poland, France and the brexiting UK have actually violated the rule more than Italy and Ireland. Once again: Austerity hasn’t been tried and found wanting in the EU, it’s been declared difficult and left untried.
  • Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames “terrorist exchange rates” for attacking his country. Fun how that happens when you ruin your own country… (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Social Justice Warriors already deterring people from the “Women’s March on Washington.” See, they were all set to flaunt the peacock feathers of their leftwing virtue, only to be told “they had a lot of learning to do.” Because there’s nothing more fun than being lectured about how you’re a racist when you’re not. Welcome to Red State America, liberal white women! (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • “DNC Chair Candidate Forum to Be Held at Anti-Israel Restaurant” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Germany court rules that an attempt to burn down a synagogue is a “justified expression of criticism of Israel’s policies.” You know, I think I’ve seen this movie before…
  • Heh: “Intolerance at Berkeley as Faculty Demand Gay Immigrant Stay Off Campus.”
  • More: Berkley Social Justice Warriors dox the hosts of Milo’s speech. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • 1. “CEO Raises Salaries to $70K for EVERY Employee” 2. ???? 3. Wrecked company. (Hat tip: Borepatch.)
  • Teach women not to lie about rape.
  • Social Justice Warrior drama at the Free Software Foundation. “‘Developer’ Leah Rowe has been making unhinged, outrageous claims of harassment and bullying on behalf of her anonymous friend who was let go by the FSF. She then stole the Libreroot project from the community, locked it down away from the other devs, and made a unhinged claims of wrongdoing by the FSF and two employees. She has provided no evidence of any of these claims and as she is a post-modernist, we’re supposed to substitute her feelings for any facts as being equivalent.” The amazing thing is that, for once, FSF head honcho Richard Stallman (who is somewhere on the continuum between “true software visionary” and “fanatic lunatic no one wants to deal with”) isn’t the person at fault for the drama…
  • “An Arizona Department of Public Safety officer has survived an attempt on his life after a passing motorist shot dead a highway sniper who took aim at the trooper after stopping to assist an individual in a rolled vehicle.”
  • Also from Arizona: Naked woman steals police car, goes joyriding.

  • Clockboy’s lawsuit dismissed.
  • William Peter Blatty, RIP.
  • What the hell? YouTube takes down Legal Insurrection’s channel at the behest of anti-Israeli activists.
  • Slate won’t even delete their big mistakes:

  • 85th Texas Legislative Session Begins Today

    Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

    Lock up your women and liquor, the legislature is back in town!

    The 85th Texas Legislative Session started today, and one of the biggest concerns is a smaller budget, as detailed by the comptroller:

    For 2018-19, the state can expect to have $104.9 billion in funds available for general-purpose spending, a 2.7 percent decrease from the corresponding amount of funds available for the 2016-17 biennium. If not for the new constitutional provision dedicating up to $5 billion in biennial sales tax revenue to the State Highway Fund (SHF) starting in fiscal 2018-19, projected funds available for general-purpose spending for 2018-19 would be $109.6 billion, 1.7 percent greater than in 2016-17.

    The $104.9 billion available for general-purpose spending represents 2018-19 total revenue collections of $106.5 billion in General Revenue-related (GR-R) funds, plus $1.5 billion in balances from 2016-17, less $3.1 billion reserved from oil and natural gas taxes for 2018-19 transfers to the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) and the SHF.

    Tax revenues account for approximately 87 percent of the estimated $106.5 billion in total GR-R revenue in 2018-19. Sixty-two percent of GR-R tax revenue will come from net collections of sales taxes, after more than $4.7 billion is allocated to the SHF. Other significant sources of General Revenue include motor vehicle sales and rental taxes; oil and natural gas production taxes; franchise tax; insurance taxes; collections from licenses, fees, fines and penalties; interest and investment income; and net lottery proceeds.

    In addition to the GR-R funds, the state is expected to collect $74.9 billion in federal income as well as other revenues dedicated for specific purposes and therefore unavailable for general-purpose spending. Revenue collections from all sources and for all purposes should total $224.8 billion.

    Absent any appropriations by the Legislature, the ESF balance is expected to be $11.9 billion at the end of the 2018-19 biennium, below the ESF constitutional limit of an estimated $16.9 billion.

    Following a strong 5.9 percent increase in real gross state product in fiscal 2015, the Texas economy is estimated to have grown by only 0.2 percent in 2016, well below the average growth rate of 3.8 percent per year over the past 20 years. Contraction in activity related to oil and natural gas production has been a drag on state economic growth. Still, the diversity of the Texas economy has allowed for continued growth in employment over the past two years and we expect sustained growth over the coming biennium. Texas stands in contrast to other states with large energy industries, many of which have suffered through declines in employment and economic output.

    Here’s an eyechart visual summary. Click for a bigger version.

    The budget is the meat-and potatoes of the legislature, but we’ll get to some hot-button issues (like sanctuary cities and tranny bathrooms) at a later date.