URLs du Jour

2013-01-09

  • Crazy Frog Michael Tanner has some "fiscal facts of life". It's a good big-picture look at the dire financial straits of Your Federal Government. As probably everyone reading this already knows: the Democratic mantra of "raise taxes on the rich" is a non-solution; we have to cut spending. But:

    Domestic discretionary spending amounts to 18 percent of all federal spending. Interest on the debt amounts to another 6 percent, but that is essentially untouchable. This leaves defense (19 percent) and entitlement programs, notably Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, which consume 46 percent of federal spending. (Another 11 percent goes to other entitlements, homeland security, and a few additional categories.)

    That is why it is so disappointing that Republicans are working to undo the sequester for defense spending, while President Obama is keeping entitlement reform off the table. Frankly, there is no way to balance the budget or reduce the debt if 71 percent of the budget (defense plus entitlements plus interest payments) is uncuttable.

  • As far as strategy goes, I liked this suggestion, addressed to Speaker Boehner, from Patterico, so I'm just going to post the whole darn thing.

    They want to play the “no negotiation” game? Obama, Mr. Stimulus, wants to blame CONGRESS for overspending?

    Fine. Here’s what you do.

    You draw up a budget that has what you want. No more whining about what the other side will agree to. Just figure out what you want and then pass it.

    And then approve nothing else. Whatsoever.

    You have the House. You have the spending power. Obama is blaming YOU for not exercising it wisely.

    And he’s right.

    So raise the debt limit. And then pass what YOU think is a defensible budget.

    If the Democrat-controlled Senate and the Democrat president won’t pass it, that’s on them.

    The debt ceiling is not a way to make a stand because it’s suicidal and you know it. So raise it.

    And then, pass exactly what you want. If they’re going to blame you, then you vote only for a bill you feel comfortable taking FULL responsibility for.

    Dammit. Take a stand for once in your life. Why are you doing this job if you’re not going to take a stand?

    What he said.

  • At the Oatmeal, Matthew Inman relates a story from his youth: "When your house is burning down, you should brush your teeth." Especially recommended for cat owners.

  • Justified returned for its fourth season last night, so I'm as happy as the Bird whose nest is heaven'd in the heart of purple Hills. We didn't see much of Art Mullen, Raylan's boss, however. To make up for this deficiency, here's episode 4 of Nick Searcy's Acting School (with a brief cameo from Timothy Olyphant):

    You know you've made it when you have actual bitches to do your bitch-slapping for you.

The Hard Way

[Amazon Link] And this is the tenth Jack Reacher novel for me. As always, Lee Child presents a very enjoyable page-turner. The man deserves every penny of his undoubtedly astronomical royalty checks.

Reacher starts things out by being a little too observant of the swirl of Manhattan street traffic as he sips an espresso outside a coffee shop. He sees a man get into a Mercedes and drive off—that's all. But when he revisits the same shop the next day, he's asked to tell what he remembers.

Why? Because the car contained a $1e6 ransom payoff; the wife and stepchild of Charles Lane, head of a private "security organization", have been kidnapped. No cops! But Reacher's not a cop, and he's roped into the scheme, joining in with Lane's team of cold-blooded mercenaries. Can Reacher discover the bad guys and save the innocent? As Child might write: "That was for sure. That was clear."

This entry in the series is slightly unusual in that (and stop reading if you don't even want a minor spoiler) Reacher keeps making mistakes and getting things wrong here. (Basically, if Reacher confidently asserts something on one page, expect it to be contradicted shortly.) The plot essentially turns on Reacher's misconceptions. That's a relief, I suppose, for those who have found Reacher to be impossibly omniscient in previous books.