People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Know Your Subject Matter, Dude

Take it from me, a columnist's worse nightmare is to come off looking like a fool when he or she writes something for all the world to see that is completely wrong.  (I remember penning a piece for the Roanoke Times and had it published, only to be notified by the editorial page editor after the fact that one sentence therein was factually incorrect; all these years later it plagues me late at night ...)

So let's talk about Michael Kinsley.  Liberal.  Columnist.

In his offering to the Politico this morning (see "Are we poorer than we used to be?"), he suggests that we are all doing just swell under Barack Obama, despite all evidence to the contrary.  Kinsley:
Did you feel poor in the third quarter of 2007?

I ask because after the most severe recession since the Great Depression, and with a slow recovery, the U.S. economy, nevertheless, is back to producing about as many goods and services as it did in the third quarter of 2007.
Okay. That was the first tip-off that this was going off the rails. What, I asked, does Americans "feeling poor" (think income) have to do with "producing goods and services"? They reside in two totally different - if related - realms of economics.

Then he does the Full Monty:
Adjusting for inflation and using 2005 dollars, our seasonally adjusted gross domestic product was $13.268 trillion in the third quarter of 2007. Three years later, it was $13.277 trillion. If you want to account for population growth, push the time machine back to the fourth quarter of 2006, when Jack Abramoff copped a plea and the real seasonally adjusted GDP was $13.060 trillion.

Life did not seem so terrible for most people back in 2006 or 2007, did it? So why are so many people glum now? Why are so many actually suffering, losing their houses or their jobs? Why are there so many stories like the one on the front page of The Washington Post on Nov. 19 about a woman who used to be a nursing-home executive with a six-figure income and this year will clear $11,000 selling chicken dinners? Changes in GDP are not a perfect reflection of changes in the average citizen’s prosperity at any given time. But it’s not a bad one.
No. GDP isn't a bad reflection of changes in the average citizen's prosperity. But it's pretty darn close to being a bad one. For the very reasons that Kinsley cites. GDP is up (a little). As are unemployment (a bunch) and home foreclosures (ditto). Time for an exclamation mark - ! -.

How can this be?

Well, because Michael Kinsley doesn't know the difference between Gross Domestic Product and what's known as Gross Domestic Income. There is a difference. A big difference.  Though related, one is not necessarily a reflection of the other. Nor is one the result of the other. (see below for boring definitions).

Want to learn more about this very important distinction?

What all this means is this: The economy can be doing (falteringly) well while per capita income in the U.S. can be falling.  As it is.

Kinsley should have known this before he killed electrons trying to convince us that everything here in the USA under The Chosen One is harmony and roses.

* GDP is calculated as the sum of what consumers, businesses, and government spend on final goods and services, plus investment and net foreign trade.  (sourceGross Domestic Income (GDI) is comprised of national income plus "capital consumption."  (source)

** For more explanation go to this from the Federal Reserve Board: "Estimating Probabilities of Recession in Real Time Using GDP and GDI," by Jeremy J. Nalewaik.

** And this: "GDI vs. GDP - Which One's a Better Recession Indicator?"

Looks Like I'm Not Alone

As you may recall, I decided back in October to not renew my membership in the NRA.  I'm still not overly comfortable with it, knowing that there is no organization on the planet that does more to protect our 2nd Amendment rights in Washington than does the NRA.  But its endorsement(s) of Democrat Congressmen Rick Boucher here in the 9th District of Virginia (who did have a solid record of voting in our favor but was a flaming liberal otherwise) and Tom Perriello in the 5th (who had virtually no voting record at all on gun issues but whose opponent - a stalwart defender of our freedoms - did) in this last election cycle ended our relationship forever.

And it now appears that I'm not alone in my outrage:
Should I Renew My NRA Membership?
BY Herschel Smith

It’s membership renewal time, and I cannot forget that Wayne LaPierre endorsed Harry Reid, saying “He is a true champion of the Second Amendment back in Washington, DC.” There was ultimately no NRA endorsement, with Chris Cox saying “Reid’s push to confirm Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan” prevented the NRA from endorsing Reid.

Actually, it was the strong reaction by NRA membership that prevented it from happening. Reid secured a significant amount of money for a shooting range in Clark County, Nevada (61 million dollars of tax money, to be precise), and there has been significant politicking on this issue within the NRA, with a gag order being issued to members of the NRA board on the Kagan nomination.

And here I thought that the NRA was above buy-offs, influence peddling, and general corruption. Even now it isn’t clear to me why Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox cannot simply be kicked to the curb and new leadership installed? Thuggish behavior should not be tolerated, and the NRA deserves better leadership that these two men. It is enough that they should beclown themselves and instigate internecine warfare on the board; we shouldn’t allow it to happen to the NRA too. [link]
The NRA could have prevented this implosion.  It could have taken up my suggestion and simply not endorsed anyone in congressional elections where there was no discernible difference between the candidates (as was the case here in the 9th), rather than default to the incumbent if he or she says the right things about guns (Perriello, 5th) or if there can be no distinction drawn, which is, to this day, its policy

The NRA does such good work.  And has such shrewd leadership.  Why is it allowing this to happen?

For The Troops

John Ondrasik:
To our troops and their families:

We owe you a debt that can never be repaid. For you may these songs be a piece of home, an inspiration, an escape from the daily grind. From us, let each tune represent a Thank You and an example of the free expression you provide.

The CD will be available for free download to active duty servicemembers, veterans and their families worldwide with a valid military ID at www.shopmyexchange.com. An additional 200,000 hard copies of the CD will be sent to military bases, USO centers and other locations across the nation and overseas, courtesy of TriWest Healthcare Alliance and Operation Homefront.

I’m excited to launch CD “For the Troops IV” with a new roster of fantastic artists and great songs. This year’s CD has a bit more pop and a few surprises, but at its core is a thank you to those whose sacrifices secure our freedom and that of our children.
Great stuff. Thanks, John, for all the hard work that went into this endeavor. Again.

We've Got More Housecleaning To Do

In recent decades I've been forced to conclude that Indiana Senator Richard Lugar is no better than the rest of those snakes in the grass who call themselves Republicans but act otherwise. So should he be looking over his shoulder when reelection time rolls around?


Where's Dorothy Rabinowitz?

Or her more-than-up-to-the-task go-to investigative journalist Kimberley Strassel?

This story cries out for investigation and exposure to the world:

When the justice system in this country turns political (especially if the venue is San Francisco and the politics swirls around homosexuality), justice immediately goes out the window.

This is so wrong. Heads need to roll.

- - -

I call upon Dorothy Rabinowitz to get involved because of her superb work at the Wall Street Journal that culminated in "No Crueler Tyrannies."  There's no one alive today who can do a better job of exposing corruption, mendacity, conniving, cruelty, and cowardice in high places.  Justice cries out for her involvement in this matter.

On The WikiLeaks Fiasco

Calls arise for the resignation (to put it kindly) of Secretary of State (State of Chaos and Confusion, that is) Hillary Clinton.  And for good reason:
CableGate: Obama's Katrina Times Ten
By Vasko Kohlmayer, American Thinker

Hillary Clinton should resign immediately. The State Department is a mess and an embarrassment. She has been in charge of it, and she needs to go.

The ruling elites will try to play on our patriotic feelings in order to save their skins. Contrary to what you will hear from this administration and its acolytes, WikiLeaks' disclosures are not a threat to America. But they are an immense threat to the current regime, because they represent a colossal indictment of its incompetence and doltishness.

Hillary Clinton is the Michael Brown in this affair. The buck has to stop with the big guy. George Bush accepted the responsibility for Katrina even though it really was not his responsibility (hint: think Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco). Let's see whether Barack Obama is half the man George Bush was. After all, the State Department is under his direct purview, since he deals with it on a constant basis. He should have a handle on what goes on in there. The American people need to hold his feet to the fire. [link]
Hillary should resign for the simple reason that secret documents - by the hundreds of thousands - that resided in databases under her guardianship were allowed to be stolen and exposed to the world.  Where were the safeguards?

Couple that with the fact that she has presided over an "incompetent and doltish" - and increasingly embarrassing - foreign policy regime in the two years she's bounced around the Department of State and one reaches the inescapable conclusion that there is clear need for her to go.  Now.

- - -

William A. Jacobson:
Dear Wikileaks,

Please give us our stuff back because it was really mean of you to take it and give it to all your friends.


Harold Koh [the Legal Adviser of the Department of State.]
Funny. And yet ...

Great Speech. Let's Eat.

Do you suppose there are really people in Washington who believe this kind of thing actually manifests itself in any kind of significant (shall I say it ...?) change?
Michelle Obama: 'Let's move'
By Amie Parnes, Politico

First lady Michelle Obama asked faith and community leaders Monday to “shake up their congregations” and help her play a “critical role” in helping to eliminate childhood obesity.

In a conference call, Obama asked the leaders — including ministers, rabbis and Girl Scout officials — to become involved in “Let’s Move Faith and Communities,” an offshoot of her national campaign to promote exercise and proper nutrition. [link]
Had she gone to Justin Bieber, maybe a few of the fat chicks out there might have put down the fries and coke for a minute or two.  Short of that, Obama's message falls on deaf ears.

Well, except for those ears belonging to sycophantic Politico reporters who are fed this kind of unimportant information by the White House for publication, of course.

A Good Start

You think this would have been on Obama's agenda had the Tea Party not swept the elections earlier this month?

Yeah, it's a small step. But a step in the right direction.

Now, Barry, time to get serious. Show us that you've truly learned something from your crushing defeat. Shut down the U.S. Department of Education.

It Was A Waste Of Time

And a boneheaded idea from the git-go:

Except for its entertainment value, the Select House Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming served absolutely no purpose, what with global warming having now proven to be nothing more than an elaborate hoax and the Democrats' idea of "energy independence" being exposed as involving nothing more than having the American people independent of all forms of energy and living out in the cold.  With its membership seen by many as being made up of frightened children who were afraid of their own shadows.

The new Republican majority is expected to kill it.

Sooner rather than later will do just fine.  Thanks.  And good riddance.

Uh, No. No Inconsistency There.

James Taranto provides us with a glimpse into the warped minds at the New York Times:
Two Papers in One!
  • "The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won't be posted here."--New York Times, on the Climategate emails, Nov. 20, 2009
  • "The articles published today and in coming days are based on thousands of United States embassy cables, the daily reports from the field intended for the eyes of senior policy makers in Washington. . . . The Times believes that the documents serve an important public interest, illuminating the goals, successes, compromises and frustrations of American diplomacy in a way that other accounts cannot match."--New York Times, on the WikiLeaks documents, Nov. 29, 2010
Suppose the morons who run the New York Times ever get embarrassed by the daily ridicule they bring on themselves?

What Will Obama Be Most Remembered For?

I'm thinking it'll be his unique cross-crotch salute when the National Anthem is played:

For that, he'll be remembered all right.

For all time.