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Posts tagged hinkle
5:19 pm - Sun, Jan 6, 2013
5 notes

Consider the deal to avert the fiscal cliff. Although it raises taxes on the top 1 percent of Americans, it extends the Bush tax cuts for the great mass of lower-income earners — as Obama repeatedly insisted it should do. What’s more, it contains almost zero spending cuts. Thus it largely sustains the fiscal trajectory set by Bush, who increased domestic spending at a faster pace than any president since Lyndon Johnson.

The signature domestic accomplishment of Obama’s first term was the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It represents the largest expansion of government involvement in health care since the signature domestic accomplishment of Bush’s first term, the Medicare Part D prescription-drug benefit. That in turn was the largest expansion of government involvement in health care since, again, Johnson.

Yet these parallels pale in comparison to those concerning national security — where, for instance, the president has embraced the unilateral use of military force he once disdained. Moreover, on Dec. 30 Obama signed into law the FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act of 2012 — more succinctly known as the warrantless-wiretapping law. Sponsored by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the measure gives government agents almost carte blanche to eavesdrop on the domestic communications of American citizens. It permits the NSA to scrutinize your emails (for example) so long as (a) it claims to be looking for information about a broadly defined foreign target, and (b) it can claim not to have been aware at the moment of interception that the communication was purely domestic… In addition, as the ACLU reported last year, other forms of electronic eavesdropping have skyrocketed under Obama. More people were subject to warrantless “pen register” and “trap-and-trace” surveillance in the previous two years, the group reported, “than in the entire previous decade.”

It’s not clear whether renditions have risen or fallen since Obama took office. But, reported The Washington Post a few days ago, “Renditions Continue Under Obama, Despite Due-Process Concerns.” The administration also has gone to court — successfully — to shroud the details of rendition practices behind the cloak of state secrecy. (No word yet on whether Hollywood is planning a sequel to “Rendition.”)

Obama also signed into law a defense reauthorization bill allowing for the indefinite detention of American citizens, without charge or trial, by the military… .

Candidate Obama promised to reform the Patriot Act. President Obama signed a three-year extension of its most controversial provisions, such as the one allowing federal agents to examine your library and medical records.

Still, it would be wrong to suggest this administrations is a carbon copy of the last. Obama favors sharply higher taxes on the rich, for example. He has expanded the welfare state by relaxing eligibility requirements and weakening work requirements. In the aftermath of the Newtown massacre, he also has vowed to pursue more stringent gun-control laws… .

The upshot, then, is that the Obama administration has carried forward those Bush policies most expansive of government power — and where it differs from past policy, it deviates in the direction of more government still. To political partisans, elections can look like wrenching transitions in which power whipsaws back and forth. Take a step or two back, though, and the effect begins to look like a one-way government ratchet, tightening click by click.


5:22 pm - Sun, Apr 29, 2012



3:57 pm - Wed, Jan 4, 2012
4 notes
Caption Contest #12 — What do Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, and the other gents find so dang funny? 
(Submit answers via the comments section or by email to

Caption Contest #12 — What do Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, and the other gents find so dang funny?

(Submit answers via the comments section or by email to


2:44 pm
60 notes

Income Inequality: Overblown

Via Regulation magazine:

While it is true that the cash explicitly paid to employees has become more unequal over the last generation, the implication that labor markets are not working well and that government should alter labor market outcomes does not necessarily follow. A more benign explanation for the change in cash compensation over a generation is the dramatic increase in health insurance costs. …

If one analyzes data on only working-age individuals (age 25–61), inflation-adjusted real pre-tax, post-cash-transfer money income grew 1.9 percent and 10.5 percent respectively for the first (poorest) and 10th (richest) deciles from 1995 to 2008. But if one adds the value of health insurance, the first (poorest) decile grew 12.3 percent while the top decile grew 11.7 percent.

[T]he growth in compensation by earnings decile (from the 30th to the 99th) averages 35 percent [from 1999 to 2006], with 41 percent growth at the 30th percentile (workers earning $10–$14 an hour) and only 35.8 percent growth at the 99th percentile (workers earning $59–$80 an hour).

Because expenditures on health care are increasing so rapidly and because so much of the cost of health care is paid for by employers or government, discussions about rising inequality that only consider cash income provide a misleading view of trends in inequality. When health insurance expenditures are added to household cash income, the increases in inequality from 1995 to 2008 are completely offset.


10:01 am
25 notes

When You’ve Lost Rubin and Kristol…

… You’ve lost the battle. Here’s Jennifer Rubin a news cycle ago, quoting Bill Kristol on the Virginia GOP’s loyalty oath:

A final word about the so-called loyalty oath. Bill Kristol writes: “The Virginia Republican Party is apparently planning to require voters in the March 6 Virginia GOP presidential primary to sign a form that says, “I, the undersigned, pledge that I intend to support the nominee of the Republican Party for president.” This is stupid, counterproductive, and offensive for several reasons so obvious that I won’t even bother to mention them. Bob Marshall, a conservative GOP leader in the house of delegates, has come out against the pledge. Shouldn’t our the Republican governor, Bob McDonnell, stop this idiocy? Shouldn’t Mitt Romney and Ron Paul — the two candidates who are on the Virginia ballot, neither of whom could possibly approve of such a blind loyalty pledge — ask the party to withdraw it?”

Lo and behold! — “GOP Chairman Asks Party to Reconsider Loyalty Oath.”


9:35 am

Draft Bob?

The anyone-but-Romney movement has now started a petition to draft Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell into the presidential race.


7:47 am
1 note

World’s Smartest Criminals Dept.

Daniel Wolfrey of Louisa was arrested for carjacking at police HQ in Henrico:

Police said Wolfrey was arrested after he came to the police station and asked why security camera photos of him were being shown on television.


7:52 pm - Tue, Jan 3, 2012
1 note

Well, THAT Worked Out Well…

Bumper Sticker Sparks New Clash at Indonesian Church

A bumper sticker prompted members of the hard-line Islamic Reform Movement to attack several members of the GKI Yasmin church on Sunday.

The bumper sticker, on the back of a church member’s car, said, “We need a friendly Islam, not an angry Islam.”


4:47 pm
30 notes
This has now been thoroughly debunked — not once, but twice.

This has now been thoroughly debunked — not once, but twice.


3:29 pm
2 notes

In 2006, as Santorum campaigned his way to an 18-point loss in his Senate reelection race, the New York Times reported that he…

"…distributed a brochure this week as he worked a sweltering round of town hall meetings and Fourth of July parades: “Fifty Things You May Not Know About Rick Santorum.” It is filled with what he called meat and potatoes, like his work to expand colon cancer screenings for Medicare beneficiaries (No. 3), or to secure money for “America’s first ever coal to ultra-clean fuel plant” (No. 2)….

"He said he wanted Pennsylvanians to think of him as a political heir to Alfonse M. D’Amato of New York, who was known as Senator Pothole for being acutely attuned to constituent needs."


3:19 pm
11 notes


1:31 pm
11 notes

You Know You’re an Econo-Geek When… .

… You see this headline …

… and your first thought is …

… rather than:


9:10 am
20 notes


7:48 am
12 notes

Take the EPA’s new rules on power-plant emissions. Emission controls are desirable as a general rule, since emissions are what economists call negative externalities: costs of production that are shifted to nonproducers, usually without their consent. (Not all externalities are created equal. The aroma of a neighbor’s grill is not nearly as annoying as the whine from his leafblower.)

The EPA says its new rules will cost about $10.6 billion by 2016 — but will save anywhere from $59 billion to $140 billion in health costs, forestall up to 17,000 premature deaths and prevent up to 130,000 cases of childhood asthma per year. A big net win.

But Susan Dudley, who runs the Regulatory Studies Center at George Washington University, says the new rules will cost almost $11 billion per year. Industry sources estimate the real cost could be more than 10 times that much. And the Manhattan Institute’s Diana Furchtgott-Roth notes that the EPA’s estimates about asthma benefits seem, well, rather optimistic. In recent decades, asthma has become more common even while air quality has improved. The Centers for Disease Control says “the causes of asthma remain unclear.” If the CDC is right, then the EPA is just guessing.

Naturally, liberals glom onto the EPA’s rosy figures while conservatives seize on the gloomier numbers from skeptics. People tend to reach conclusions first, then seek out supporting evidence and dismiss evidence to the contrary.

Whatever the merits of the new power-plant rules, though, it’s clear that the Current Occupant, as they used to call George W., has commenced an era of great new regulatory zeal:

The Obama administration is finalizing an average of 84 “economically significant” rules (those costing $100 million or more) per year, compared with 62 for Bush and 56 for Bill Clinton…



6:23 am
3 notes

More on NPR Bias…

… From NPR’s Ombudsman:

In a spot for NPR newscasts on June 22, when Utahans were going to the polls, Berkes used the term “ultra-conservative” …

When Richard Walker of Arlington, VA, heard the hourly news report, the term “‘ultra-conservative” jumped out at him.

"You called the two Republican candidates in Utah ‘ultra-conservatives,’" wrote Walker. "Does NPR ever call a candidate an 'ultra-liberal'? Barbara Lee? Dennis Kucinich? Bernie Sanders? Or are only conservatives ‘ultra’ in NPR’s world?”

Almost, but not quite.  NPR’s librarian Katie Daugert came up with 8 examples of groups or people being described as “ultra-liberal” in the last 5 years. In 2 cases, the term was used by NPR staffers; other uses were by guests or commentators.

By contrast, the term “ultra-conservative” appeared on air 42 times in the last 5 years.  NPR staffers used it 17 times, and others used it 24 times.

17-2. There you have it!


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