Monday, July 22, 2013

Cruising the Web

With royal baby news all day, this would be a good time for the Obama administration to try to bury some more revealingly bad news about Obamacare.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court has chosen a judge to oversee Detroit's bankruptcy. Stephen Rhodes is an expert on bankruptcies resulting from Ponzi schemes such as Bernie Madoff's collapse. It seems that such an expertise might come in handy with a municipal bankruptcy resulting from promises made as to how future taxpayers would somehow be able to pay for retirement and debt obligations that they would clearly be unable to fund. On a personal note, my sister Judy, of whom I'm very proud, is the lawyer quoted at the end of this article.

How Illinois could follow Detroit into bankruptcy. Other cities such as Philadelphia, Oakland, and Chicago have followed the same pattern of Detroit as borrowing more money than they could afford then raising taxes to fund that debt and then continuing to spend as if there were always going to be revenues flowing into their coffers. As Kevin Williamson explains,
Detroit is the victim of a vicious circle: Failing municipal institutions mean that without the allure of a high-paying job, Detroit is an undesirable place to live, while the unions have helped to drive away a great many of those high-paying jobs. A city that already was corrupt and incompetent saw its tax base evaporate, meaning that it quickly became a city that is corrupt, incompetent, and broke. Of its $11 billion in unsecured debt, the great majority — $9 billion — is owed to pensions and health-benefit plans for the same public-sector incompetents who helped bring the city to its knees in the first place. Detroit’s ruling class is a parasite that has outgrown its host.
Mark Steyn describes the deplorable collapse of Detroit.
Given their respective starting points, one has to conclude that Detroit’s Democratic party makes a far more comprehensive wrecking crew than Emperor Bokassa ever did. No bombs, no invasions, no civil war, just “liberal” “progressive” politics day in, day out. Americans sigh and say, “Oh, well, Detroit’s an ‘outlier.’” It’s an outlier only in the sense that it happened here first. The same malign alliance between a corrupt political class, rapacious public-sector unions, and an ever more swollen army of welfare dependents has been adopted in the formally Golden State of California, and in large part by the Obama administration, whose priorities — “health” “care” “reform,” “immigration” “reform” — are determined by the same elite/union/dependency axis. As one droll tweeter put it, “If Obama had a city, it would look like Detroit.”

After the Battle of Saratoga, Adam Smith famously told a friend despondent that the revolting colonials were going to be the ruin of Britain, “There is a great deal of ruin in a nation” — and in a great city, too. If your inheritance includes the fruits of visionaries like Henry Ford, Walter Chrysler, and the Dodge brothers, you can coast for a long time, and then decline incrementally, and then less incrementally, and then catastrophically, until what’s left is, as the city’s bankruptcy petition puts it, “structurally unsound and in danger of collapse.” There is a great deal of ruin in advanced societies, but even in Detroit it took only six decades.

Jim Geraghty notes that, in a marvel of unfortunate timing, Detroit launched a new advertising campaign touting "Detroit, America's Great Comeback City." Er, not really. Detroit is more like what Ayn Rand described happening in her fictional city of Starnesville, home of a former great fictional car company. Her description back then in 1957 could be mistaken for a description of Detroit today.

Since Chicago doesn't have the money to pay its police, it has found another way to fight crime: they're sending letters to suspected criminals telling them not to commit any more violent crimes. Yeah, that'll work.

The Economist takes a look at an encouraging statistic - the steep decline in crime over the past 20 years in the developed world. And contrary to what many on the left would argue, the increase in unemployment and poverty rates in the recession did not result in a concomitant increase in crime. Imagine that.

The National Journal explains how congressmen are using leadership PACs to get around campaign finance laws. Just as opponents of campaign finance reform have always argued - politicians and those who want to influence them will always find ways around such laws.

Ross Douthat notes that, contrary to what abortion-rights advocates are saying now about the danger of laws banning abortion after 20 weeks, European countries have banned abortion even earlier than 20 weeks and there hasn't been any of the sorts of evil consequences for the right to abortion that we're being told are going to be the consequences of Texas's new abortion law.

It appears that John Kerry has oversold his announcement that he has brought about a resumption of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Jonah Goldberg reminds us why Al Sharpton should be shunned by all self-respecting members of society instead of hanging out with the President. He reminds us of how Sharpton said he couldn't pay the damages he owes to Steven Pagones after he lost the defamation suit in the Tawana Brawley hoax, he explained that he didn't own his supposed possessions such as his clothes which he claimed that his supporters owned and just allowed him to wear.
There’s a metaphor in there somewhere. In our overly therapeutic culture, we talk a lot about “enabling” pathologies, self-destructive behavior, etc. Well, Sharpton is a pathology enabled by the very system he loathes.

So this is why movies these days all seem alike - they're all following the same template for their screenplays.

OMG! The only thing worse than watching Geraldo Rivera on TV is to see the picture of his chest that he tweeted for the world's benefit.