Thursday, December 30, 2010

And they call Sara Palin stupid

Hat tip Instapundit

Union bosses may be sued for conspiracy to screw NYC during the snow emergency

When you take off the marxist agitprop this is what you get.  Thugs.  No wonder so many unions are infiltrated by the mob.  Actually scratch that, this is why so many mobs are infiltrated by union bosses.  Of course they are a key part of the Democrat coalition, giving more that $400 million of their member's dues to lefties during the 2008 cycle.

Union Bosses Could Be Sued or Jailed Over NYC Snow Snafu
Workers Reportedly Admit to Conspiracy to Paralyze City
Sanitation workers have reportedly admitted that they deliberately flubbed snow plowing in New York City as part of a union protest, a move which, if true, could make their sanitation supervisors and the union civilly liable in law suits for huge monetary damages, and might even result in criminal charges for homicide for the deaths they apparently caused, argues public interest law professor John Banzhaf.

People who conspire together to cause harm to others, even if the individual acts themselves are not unlawful, can all be held liable under a tort known as civil conspiracy, says Prof. Banzhaf, who teaches torts and is widely know for various public interest activities. These law suits, under a variety of legal theories, might even be brought as class actions, he says. . . . It is also possible, argues Banzhaf, that some individuals – as well as the union – could be held criminally liable for homicide for the deaths which were proximately caused by the deliberate lack of plowing of city streets.

The private snow removal services did just fine (for far less money)

Hat tip Instapundit

NEW YORK POST: Sanitation Department’s slow snow cleanup was a budget protest. “These garbage men really stink. Selfish Sanitation Department bosses from the snow-slammed outer boroughs ordered their drivers to snarl the blizzard cleanup to protest budget cuts — a disastrous move that turned streets into a minefield for emergency-services vehicles, The Post has learned. Miles of roads stretching from as north as Whitestone, Queens, to the south shore of Staten Island still remained treacherously unplowed last night because of the shameless job action, several sources and a city lawmaker said, which was over a raft of demotions, attrition and budget cuts.” Sounds like the time might be ripe for more demotions. Or even . . . gasp . . . actual firings.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Somebody Else's Problem

I was strolling down Lindell on a crisp, bright winter's day, enjoying the sunshine gleaming off of the new fallen snow.  A huge round young black man yelled out from across the busy street:  "hey mister, hey wait!" he jay-ran across, heedless of the traffic and pulled up puffing in front of me, his St. Louis street vendor certificate blowing around his neck - "it's a mooch", I thought.

"Hey mister, I represent (he mumbled some alphabet soup agency) and would you like to buy...."  I put my hand up - I was prepared for such simple come-ons:  "I'm sorry, I never purchase from or give to organizations that come up to me on the street, it's just my policy, I'm sorry."  I turned away and walked off, congratulating myself for handling the situation in a philosophically consistent way.  He muttered "I was just tryin' to make a living".

But I didn't really hear what he had to say because he had already ceased to exist.  With my statement I had defined him outside of the circle of people and things that I had to worry about - I had made him "somebody else's problem".

In his brilliant (well at least to me) Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy Douglas Adams described the theory of a "Somebody Else's Problem" field - an "SEP" for short.  In Adam's cracked cosmology SEPs were used to make things invisible - by defining something as "somebody else's problem" one could get people to walk by spaceships, buildings, even massive mountains without noticing they were there.  And that's what I had done to my rotund interloper.  After all, I had learned as a boy on the streets of Kebayoran Baru that one couldn't possibly help all of the people who needed it.  There were too many of them and their needs were too great - to survive emotionally you needed to harden yourself and look past the pain and suffering around you.  Indonesia had taught me to build my walls high and tight.  And it worked - I now am a master at making things somebody else's problem.

Yet Jesus came to make everyone His problem.  I sometimes wonder what it must have been like to be Him:  fully human and yet knowing, indeed, feeling the seemingly infinite roar of sin and pain and needfulness around him.  I can hardly handle my own troubles, yet He confronted an entire world's.  No wonder He sometimes fled the crowds - there were too many, it was too much.

What the young man was really saying to me - what we all say every time we come into each other's presence - was:  "I am here, I am real, and I matter".  For if Jesus came and died for each of these then how can they not matter to us?  How can they simply be "somebody else's problem".  All of these thoughts and a few more besides flashed through my mind as I fled down the street.  They rose to a crescendo and stopped me in my tracks.  "Aw crap!" I said and began to backtrack - of course I could help him - I had a few minutes and I knew exactly what he was doing wrong - didn't the clowns at the agency teach him anything?  "First of all you don't go running up to people yelling in inner city Saint Louis - do you want to get your ass shot?  Let me tell you how to engage people respectfully in a conversation, solicit their help, get them on your side so they want to buy your...what is it you're peddling again?"  I double timed back up Lindell, rehearsing Sales 101 in my head - where was he?  Gone.  How in the hell could a guy that big disappear so quickly?  Gone.

"Lord forgive me.  Please help him, show him the answers to his questions, show him that he is loved, heal him from any harm that my indifference did him" - it didn't seem like much.  After all, I was going to fix him.  But I sensed a feeling of completion - it was enough - it was OK.

I turned around and headed for the office.  For a while after that I stopped averting my gaze from the people on the street, I looked in their eyes, I said 'hi'.  In some small way I widened my circle a bit and let a few others in.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."  Whoever.  And none of them are somebody else's problem.

Is mother nature a conservative?

In illustrating the inability of nation states to cope with basics even as they promise bounty upon bounty if only we would give them the keys to everything.  Hat tip Charlotte Hays

The blizzard is definitely a force for conservatism, and not only because it has had the global-warming crowd scrambling for explanations. The blizzard reveals something basic:  Liberals in government want to tell us what to eat, counsel us about how and when to die, and in general attempt to engineer our lives. But when reality knocks, they can’t do the basic stuff such as clearing the streets so that newborns don’t die in bloody apartment-building lobbies. Mayor Bloomberg may be receiving an unfair amount of criticism for his lackluster performance in coping with Mother Nature, given the almost unprecedented nature of the storm, but the unplowed city streets provide a metaphor for the nanny state: It can order us to do anything, but it can’t take care of the basic obligations of government.

The small 'c' constitutional reason why Obamacare is such a travesty

There are two Constitutions - one is the formal document and the rulings thereon, the second one is the informal constitution, the understanding among those who trade power that nothing 'major' can be changed in our constitutional or social order without broad, bipartisan support.  With Obamacare President Obama and the Democrat Congress blatantly broke the second constitution - a fact illustrated by the following chart.

This rather definitively contradicts the left's narrative of "Republican" obstructionism doesn't it?  For all previous major changes had huge bipartisan majorities in favor of them.  By contrast Obamacare had a near bipartisan majority against it.  Such one sided passage of major legislation did not, indeed cannot abide by our unwritten constitutional requirement of national consensus.  The Democrats should have known this and crafted a law that could have been supported by a strong bipartisan majority.  It reminds me of an old saying:  "To be loved, it helps to be lovely" - which goes for legislation too.

A fact that over 60 Democrat ex-Congressmen now understand.

PS:  I haven't looked, but I would bet that almost all of Obama's other 'victories' - the stimulus, financial 'reform' and so on have the same extremely partisan profile which tells me that they are very unlikely to stand (well except for the stimulus which, sadly, is more flushed than standing).  One more sign that "The One" is singular only in his inability to master the art of statecraft.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Euro is as Euro does.

European style long term unemployment comes to America.  Right on schedule with European style social democracy.  Well the left's dream is coming true.  Pity it's a nightmare for the rest of us.

Rapid global population and economic growth have led to....falling commodity prices.

One more way that leftist 'elites' have lied to us is to tell us we live in a world of 'limits'.  Of course for the left fascists a world of 'limits' is a world where 'resources' must be 'rationed' and who better to ration this 'scarcity' than selfless leftist lawyers.  Funny how their reality and policy prescriptions always start with:  "First, give us more power".  Here's the real story:

In the Liberal Fascist state, the Powerful get Richer

The Fed's strategy for financial success:  rob our children to make foreign bankers rich.  But you see, all of these people are so compassionate.  The Fed's behavior in the last few years has clearly been 'extra-constitutional', even if the Supreme Court won't rule it 'unconstitutional'.

If there are no constraints on how much the governing class can spend, then we are its slaves.

FINANCIAL TIMES: Non-US banks gain from Fed crisis fund: Half of emergency credit facility cash went to foreign institutions. Healthy ones in many cases — because the Fed didn’t want weak ones to be stigmatized.

Hat tip Instapundit

Jaques Attali - Public debt: just another form of tyranny, like slavery or pillage

From The West and the Tyranny of Public Debt

The history of public debt is the very history of national power: how it has been won and how it has been lost. Dreams and impatience have always driven men in power to draw on the resources of others—be it slaves, the inhabitants of occupied lands, or their own children yet to be born—in order to carry out their schemes, to consolidate power, to grow their own fortunes. But never, outside periods of total war, has the debt of the world’s most powerful states grown so immense. Never has it so heavily threatened their political systems and standards of living. Public debt cannot keep growing without unleashing terrible catastrophes.
Anyone saying this today is accused of pessimism. The first signs of economic recovery, harbingers of a supposedly falling debt, are held up to contradict him. Yet we wouldn’t be the first to think ourselves uniquely able to escape the fate of other states felled by their debt, such as the Republic of Venice, Renaissance Genoa, or the Empire of Spain.
I agree that it is just another form of tyranny but with a difference: never before have a people enslaved their own children's futures to feed their lusts. This, along with widespread abortion are the true horrors of our age.  It truly is a bad time to be conceived.

It's all so liberal isn't it?

Well why not? He bought the city fair and square: Bloomberg used NYC staffers to push Ground Zero Mosque

And Bloomie has pretensions of a Presidency.  Don't think he has enough money.  And most Americans aren't as childlike and gullible as NYC voters.  Read the whole thing.

In one email from May, Shelly Friedman, the organizers’ lawyer, wrote that Manhattan Community Board 1′s vote in support of the project would be helpful as organizers urged landmark commission Chairman Robert Tierney and other panel members to reject landmark status for the building currently on the site. “I do know that chairman Tierney was looking forward to having the ‘political cover’ their support would bring him,” Ms. Friedman wrote.
Brett Joshpe, counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, one of the groups that sought the documents and is suing the city, said Ms. Friedman’s email is telling.
“Our allegation all along has been that politics tainted this process and that the Landmarks decision was not actually based on a faithful review of the architectural or historical value of the building but based upon political influences,” Mr. Joshpe said.
The exchange of emails also reveals how heavily involved the administration was in the project’s development. One email shows that Nazli Parvizi, the city’s community affairs commissioner, drafted a letter that Daisy Khan, the wife of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, wrote to the community board. City officials also intervened to help the organizers get permits to conduct prayers at the site. In one email, organizers agreed to help fund a 2009 Ramadan celebration at Gracie Mansion.
Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said the emails are proof that the mayor’s staff was coordinating with the Islamic center’s leaders.
“They were getting press advice from the mayor’s office, they were editing letters for them,” he said. “They were advising them on the all important landmark issue.”
“They were told what to do in order to get approval and there was never any question of getting approval,” he said. “It was obviously political.”

Peak Oil Indeed 2

John Tierney of the NYT wins a Julian Simon style bet on oil prices.  This is wonderful news for humanity so of course there is wailing and gnashing of teeth among the Enviros.  Such humanitarians.

"Giant new oil fields have been discovered off the coasts of Africa and Brazil. The new oil sands projects in Canada now supply more oil to the United States than Saudi Arabia does. Oil production in the United States increased last year, and the Department of Energy projects further increases over the next two decades. The really good news is the discovery of vast quantities of natural gas. It’s now selling for less than half of what it was five years ago. There’s so much available that the Energy Department is predicting low prices for gas and electricity for the next quarter-century.

Another unconstitutional overreach by the Feds

This time in implementing Obamacare:  a provision considered and explicitly rejected by the Congress is implemented by HHS in its enabling regulations.  If the bureaucracy can implement that which Congress rejects then we no longer govern ourselves.  Hat tip Wesley J. Smith of NRO.

When I learned today that the federal bureaucracy had promulgated a rule compensating physicians for the time they spend counseling patients on end-of-life health-care decisions, I wasn’t surprised. A similar provision was dropped from the Obamacare bill, but anyone who understands the profoundly bureaucratic nature of contemporary government knew that that was not necessarily the end of it. The 2,700-page law is destined — if it is not rolled way back or repealed — to generate over 100,000 pages of enabling regulations. In such a milieu, that which can’t be obtained legislatively, can often be gotten through the bureaucratic back door. In fact, as I’ve noted elsewhere, one commission created by the law, the Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board, can even enact laws over the president’s veto.

Monday, December 27, 2010

GWB's book Decision Points is wildly outselling Bill Clinton's and the Press reaction: Crickets

Our media lacks the basic capacity to recognize reality.  They hate GWB so GWB cannot succeed - even when the people choose his story over Bill Clinton's by wild, wide margins.  As usual, the inability of the media to deal with reality harms their leftist pets the most:  not receiving truth from the supposed 'truth tellers' they inhabit a fantasy world until reality rudely crashes in.  Works great for us conservatives, though because it's easy to beat the delusional.

The American media, for reasons one can’t imagine, seem reluctant to report on the remarkable success of Decision Points, George W. Bush’s new book about his presidency.  Indeed, other than the predictable grumbling reviews, the book hasn’t been discussed much at all by the usual suspects.  Perhaps that is because they were rooting for Bush to fail.  Thus, when DP opened at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, the Book Review’s feature “Inside the List” wrongly predicted that it would not have as much “staying power” as Laura Bush’sSpoken From the Heart, and besides, was already being “eclipsed by rumors that Bill Clinton will make a cameo appearance in [an upcoming movie] “The Hangover 2.”
Not quite. Nearly two months later, Bush’s book is still leaping out of book stores.  It remains #1 on the NYT Best Seller List and tops the book sales at Amazon.  Moreover, according to the UK’s Daily MailDecision Points has lapped Bill Clinton’s My Life , selling 2 million copies in just over a month—a remarkable accomplishment that took My Life 6 years to achieve.  Much to the chagrin of the American Left, George W. Bush’s rehabilitation is clearly well underway.  Perhaps that is why his unquestionable triumph with Decision Points is receiving such low key reportage from the mainstream American media.  It just isn’t the story they hoped to tell.  

NPR finally figures out that bio fuels are ripping us all off

Perhaps they'll realize that these types of rip offs can only occur when the state, specifically our Federal government has expansive powers to manipulate markets.......naaaawwww - who'm I kidding.

The U.S. corn crop is enormous. But about a third of it doesn’t go to cereal or cows — instead, it helps run your car. To boost our use of renewable fuels, the federal government subsidizes corn-based ethanol.
This has the meat and dairy industries up in arms over the high cost of their main feed. The rise of ethanol has pitted livestock producers against the oil industry.
In part 2 of our ethanol series, Harvest Public Media’s Kathleen Masterson reports on what supporting ethanol means for the food we eat.

An example of how power corrupts - Can't get Congress to pass a law, well just order the outcome by fiat

The EPA mandating limits on greenhouse gas output by factories and power plants, despite the fact that the most leftist Congress in history expressly refused to legislate this outcome.  This is clearly an abuse of power by the President in pursuit of his political goals.  If we are a nation with a limited, Constitutional government this must not stand.  For if all the EPA needs to do is find 'environmental harm' to regulate something then our entire lives are regulated:  for it is the very fact that we are alive and active that has now been found 'harmful' to the environment.

And people accuse me of overreacting when I call this fascist.

But Obama is 'bouncing back' so well - Support for Obamacare repeal at a record 60%

If this is success, then please, Lord:  make me a failure.

College Debt: The new drug, man

And the pusher is your local 'institution' of 'higher' 'education'.   The only difference?  The street pushers don't make nearly as much money and don't have a tax exemption.  Hat tip Instapundit.

KATHERINE MANGU-WARD ON THE HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE: Easy Money For College Can Mess You Up, Man. “Oceans of federal money gush into higher education every day, and every administration promises more to come. That gush obscures the real demand for educated workers. The result is lots of cashiers and waitresses with B.A.s, and lots of people with student loan debt that’s tough for them to repay. For most students, the federal subsides geared toward nudging them to consume more education actually result in the acquisition of more education debt.”

A low watt state? CA bans 100W incandescent bulbs

Of course what will happen is that tens of millions of 100W bulbs will be smuggled in and Californians will be punished by another set of laws making money for lawyers.  Liberty will be restricted, the economy will suffer, people will be jailed, trust will be further eroded and the Golden State will become even more tarnished.

Liberal Fascism:  the 'nicest' way to decline.  Course it makes states like Missouri more attractive in comparison go, girl.

20 things that became obsolete this decade

VCRs, regular TVs, CDs, newspaper classifieds, etc.  The pace of change continues to accelerate.  There is an interesting article in Wired on AI - it seems that it is all around us - making decisions about and for us in ways that our human minds can't grasp.  More on that later.  In the meantime, see all 20 obsolete items here.

Hattip  Carpe Diem

President Obama says Gitmo is evil and bad for us but keeps it open

What gives Mr. President?  You campaigned on its closure and continue to describe just how bad for us it is.  Why not close it?  You trashed GWB for not closing it.  Come on, Mr. Big, you're the guy with all the power, why not keep a promise?

The Obama administration now acknowledges what the rest of us already knew. You can’t close a facility housing stateless unlawful enemy combatants with a presidential signature. “The White House admitted Sunday it would be unable to shut Guantanamo Bay in the near future, even as it acknowledged the U.S. naval prison camp is a rallying cry for Islamic extremists,” the AFP reports.
For a White House skilled in the art of dangerous mixed messages, this is a magnum opus. The damage is inflicted both at home and abroad. First, at home: the president has said he considers Gitmo a betrayal of American values, stating, “Rather than keeping us safer, the prison at Guantanamo has weakened American national security. It is a rallying cry for our enemies.” He once went so far as to claim that “the existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.” Now, with the admission that Gitmo must remain open, Americans are left to ponder the persistence of a self-described terrorist-creating policy. Is the machinery of our governance so decrepit that we have no choice but to move ahead with policies that are antithetical to American principles? Is there no way to fight a war on terrorism that is both honorable and effective?

There is something rather tawdry about a man who has the power to close something that he loudly denounces in the most extreme terms yet does not do it.  What ever happened to Obama's famed 'moral urgency of change'.

This guy is all hat and no cattle.  Moo.

Hat tip Contentions

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Extortion Broadway Style

Industrial unions are nothing more than legally privileged extortions schemes.  This central truth is usually obscured by Marxist rhetoric and lousy reporting but it is cleanly illustrated by the destruction that the theatrical union has inflicted on Broadway.
At Avery Fisher Hall and Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, the average stagehand salary and benefits package is $290,000 a year.
To repeat, that is the average compensation of all the workers who move musicians' chairs into place and hang lights, not the pay of the top five.
Across the plaza at the Metropolitan Opera, a spokesman said stagehands rarely broke into the top-five category. But a couple of years ago, one did. The props master, James Blumenfeld, got $334,000 at that time, including some vacation back pay.
How to account for all this munificence? The power of a union, Local 1 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. "Power," as in the capacity and willingness to close most Broadway theaters for 19 days two years ago when agreement on a new contract could not be reached.
The truly pathetic thing is that virtually all of the actors and many of the theater goers on Broadway routinely 'support' unions and the party hacks who enable them, thereby acting against their interest and crippling the art that they profess to 'love'.  Read the whole thing.

Sin and the self righteousness are always with us, all that change are the definitions

RICHARD FERNANDEZ: “Just what is inappropriate in modern society is a matter of intense debate. Morals legislation appears to be as pervasive as ever. Nothing in the current environment suggests there exist opinions on which you may not be lectured. The extent of what is out of bounds is growing all the time. What has changed is the contents of that proscribed area.”
Hattip, Instapundit

Could the days of the Dark Satanic Mills of industrial era schooling be nearing their end?

But there's great news as people use new tools and approaches to break up the 'schooling' hegemony of what is simply the latest generation of self self important, self dealing clerics peddling their dead ideology.

We are somewhat poorly served by applying the term “education” to what is now much more properly referenced as “schooling.” Those two used to overlap almost completely, and some the the greatest damage wrought by easy funding with other people’s money is that from pre-K to Ph.D. schools these days offer bloody little real education apart from the sciences and engineering. Things are likely to change.
Eight hundred years ago education was controlled by the church. Groups of independent scholars, using Latin as a common language, began to congregate apart from the church to pursue a true education. By mid-12th century this grew into the university movement — Hic et ubique terrarum (here and anyplace on earth) as they said in Paris in 1163. It took a century or so, but by AD 1400 the church no longer controlled education.
In our time education is controlled by the universities and their lower level minions. Once again groups of independent scholars, using English as a common language have begun to congregate apart from the universities — internet, home-schoolers, independent researchers, and many others — to pursue a true education. The pattern is repeating, for the very same reasons. Hic et ubique terrarum indeed.

Faster, please.

Yay! for draconian education cuts

We've tripled the amount we spend per student on education with absolutely no improvement in outcomes.  Why not give all that useless spending back to the people who earned it?  Oh wait, that would mean a decrease in state power.  Can't have that, the lawyers wouldn't like it.  Read the whole thing.

For far too long, almost anything related to education has seen pretty regular, sizeable funding increases due largely to the simplistic — and easily demagogued – notion that spending more money on education must be good. Anyone opposing such increases has generally been attacked as a fool or heartless idealogue. But here’s the thing: All this spending has produced little if any discernable good! In higher ed, it has mainly encouraged more and more people to pursue degrees that they either don’t need, can’t handle, or that don’t signify much learning, all while enabling colleges to raise their prices to capture the aid increases! In other words, all the magical thinking about education spending notwithstanding, the evidence strongly suggests that more spending ultimately does little educational good while bleeding taxpayers dry and expanding our utterly unsustainable debt.
So let’s get those “draconian” cuts going, and maybe even have an honest discussion of what really happens when government spends on “education.”

State Run Healthcare Impunity

Because the state protects its own.  New York State is just the most extreme example of American Liberal Fascism.  Our nation is lousy with this behavior.  Bust it up, bust it all up.

A friend who visited him at the Rochester Psychiatric Center in February 1995 remembered that Mr. Langevin had pain in his jaw, eye and face that was not getting much attention from the staff. A week later, he was discovered unconscious, with a near-fatal infection spreading to his brain and other organs.
Mr. Langevin sued New York State, which operates the hospital, and probably would have won a sizable award. But the state countered by demanding that Mr. Langevin reimburse it $1.7 million for 10 years of inpatient care he had received. A judge sided with the state, and Mr. Langevin wound up with nothing.
Slip and fall in a New York prison, or suffer abuse by its guards, and inmates can keep whatever they win in court. But for patients in state-run mental hospitals — people too ill to live on their own and too poor to pay for their care — the state can drain court-awarded damages, effectively deducting the cost of their stays in the very hospitals that failed or abused them.
“It’s a Catch-22, isn’t it?” said Leo G. Finucane, the lawyer who represented Mr. Langevin. “I need to go to this facility because I’m sick. But if they hurt me worse, they’re immune.”

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Some badly needed perspective on how good (some) things have gotten

Carpe Diem points out that for a single console color TV's price in 1964 we could buy every appliance available to a modern home today.

Bottom Line:  For a consumer or household spending $750 in 1964, all they would have been able to afford was a console color TV from the Sears Christmas catalog.  A consumer or household spending that same amount of inflation-adjusted dollars today ($5,300) would be able buy able to furnish their entire kitchen with 8 brand-new appliances (refrigerator, freezer, dishwasher, range, washer, dryer, microwave and blender) and buy 9 state-of-the-art electronic items (laptop, GPS, camera, home theater, plasma HDTV, iPod Touch, Blu-ray player, 300-CD changer and a Tivo recorder).  And of course, even a billionaire in 1964 wouldn't have been able to purchase many of the items that even a teenager can afford today, e.g. laptop, GPS, digital camera.  

Of course the sectors where prices have radically fallen are exclusively those with competitive and largely unregulated markets.  By contrast, all of the heavily regulated and subsidized markets:  education, healthcare, legal services, financial services and of course, government itself have all seen their real prices soar far, far in excess of inflation.

Hmm, I wonder why?

Palin to the left of the Obami on pot?

Why would this surprise anyone?  Palin is part of the "leave us alone" coalition which holds that what you do to yourself in your own home is your business.  The Obami run the "we own your ass" coalition which holds that all powers not expressly given to the Federal government are its to hand out as it sees fit to the states or the people.  A sort of Bizzaroworld constitution if you will.

JOE BIDEN: Pat Robertson is a squishy pothead-lover. “The more glaring concern for Biden and Obama is that come 2012, there could be several Republicans running for president who are more progressive on pot. Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, and Gary Johnson have all expressed support for drastically reforming marijuana laws. (Johnson and Paul are in favor of legalization, Palin said she supports a person’s right to use it in their home.) You also have establishment Republicans and Tea Party groups citing the 10th Amendment argument for repealing health care–the same argument most libertarians cite when calling for the repeal of the Controlled Substances Act and allowing states to legislate their own drug laws.”
Plus this: “In the unlikely event that someone primaries Obama from the left, I’ll bet money that person agrees more with Pat Robertson than with Joe Biden.”

Power elites hate liberty the way wicked witches hate water:  it dissolves them (or at least their power)

Hat Tip Instapundit

Quit asking questions, dammit!

Throughout the 'Global Warming' debate basic, foundational questions have been ignored (or shamelessly lied about) such as: 1. How do we know that this is an anomalous trend? 2. What proof do you have that your predictive models predict? 3. Will India and China really forgo a decent standard of living for billions so that Eurotrash can have a longer ski season and hang at the beach?  Stefan Karlsson asks the most basic: "So why is a warmer world a 'bad thing'"?  It is usually at this time that the AGW faithful put forth their most devastating rebuttal:  shut up.

What has always troubled me the most with the view that we needs to stop "climate change" in the form of "global warming" is the idea that it would be bad if the Earth became warmer.
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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan is an economist currently working in Sweden.

Recent posts

Sure, that could be negative in some areas for some reasons, but it would also be beneficial in other areas for other reasons. Suppose for example that Antarctica, or at least parts of it, would become habitable due to a warmer climate, wouldn't that be a good thing that could possibly outweigh possible problems elsewhere?
So what is there to say that the pre-industrial era climate is really the optimal climate? That the benefits of a possible warmer climates wouldn't outweigh the disadvantages? I have asked that many times to Al Gore supporters and either gotten no answer at all, or some list of alleged (and exaggerated) disadvantages that completely overlooked the benefits.
If one needs an example of why cold weather is bad, the current problems in the European traffic system is a good example.
Note that some "climate change" theories argue that "global warming" could lead to colder weather in for example northern Europe. But even assuming that this is really true, it begs the question of why colder weather is bad there but good everywhere else. And this cold weather will largelly undo the initial warming effect, leaving us with little to worry about, assuming "global warming" is bad.

From the mouth of (my) babes: Football, Dads and Truth

Seen on FB.  I am charged with being a loud (somewhat obscene) football fan.  Guilty as charged.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Adjusted for immigration, US schools outperform Western Europe and equal Asia

Also, in terms of ensuring that 'no child is left behind' US does very well:  the US has one of the smallest gaps between immigrant and native children's performance.  The analysis is based upon the PISA international standardized test comparisons adjusted for first and second generation immigrant children.  See the whole thing here.

1. This supports my argument that the US system is not worse, simply different, indeed it exceeds that argument.
2. This undermines my argument that we spend far to much on education:  our higher spend yields higher results, yet we go the same results in the 70s with one third the real resources per student.
3. It certainly reduces the case for radical change either in the direction of privatization or centralization.  The arguments can now focus on achieving the same results more efficiently.
4. The natural contempt for and prejudice against American kids as being stupid and lazy must now be put away.  It will be interesting to see which Americans do so.

All in all a very Merry Christmas present.....from our kids.  Sam, Amelia:  this does NOT mean you can goof off now....

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I have

I mean, drawn boobs with a magic marker.  I should be punished.

13-YEAR-OLD BOY BUSTED FOR POSSESSING MAGIC MARKER. “A good thing he apparently didn’t draw boobs, or they probably would’ve booked him as a sex offender, too.”
Hat tip Instapundit

Fascist is as fascist does TSA style

It's called "security theater" for a reason, gang.  Look into the TSA people's eyes:  that dead look gives it all away - they know that their life's work is a pointless farce.  I'll bet the suicide rates are through the roof.  But if we stop believing in one part of the state apparat we might not believe in the other parts.  So truth tellers must be punished.  Bust it up, bust it all up.

TSA STRIKES BACK AT CRITIC: “An airline pilot is being disciplined by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for posting video on YouTube pointing out what he believes are serious flaws in airport security. . . . The YouTube videos, posted Nov. 28, show what the pilot calls the irony of flight crews being forced to go through TSA screening while ground crew who service the aircraft are able to access secure areas simply by swiping a card. . . . Video shot in the cockpit shows a medieval-looking rescue ax available on the flight deck after the pilots have gone through the metal detectors. ‘I would say a two-foot crash ax looks a lot more formidable than a box cutter,’ the pilot remarked.”

Given history, I'm less worried that they're illegal than if they were leftists

Historically nuclear espionage in this country has been conducted not by illegals but by citizens:  graduates of our most prestigious institutions of higher learning, no less.  My observation is that immigrants - illegal or otherwise love this country far more that the denizens of the Ivy League.

INSPECTOR GENERAL: Risk of Illegal Aliens Working With Nuclear Weapons. “The risk of such access is more than notional as demonstrated by the Office of Inspector General report ‘Security Access Controls at the Y-12 National Security Complex’ (June 2005) . . . which found that, in the past, illegal aliens had gained access to Y-12 on multiple occasions.”

hattip instapundit

I stand corrected

It's just that Ms. Totenberg is so politically correct in everything else she does that here PC "Holiday" statement was totally believable.  That being said, Mea Culpa along with everyone else.

Turns out her critics got it completely wrong: She was, she says, defending Christmas. The DOJ celebration was officially dubbed a “holiday” party, and she was gently mocking that generic designation. “I think that’s kind of silly because it’s obviously a Christmas party,” she told us. “I was tweaking the Department of Justice. It was a touch of irony at the expense of the Justice department, not at the expense of Christmas.”
As for the bloggers who were so quick to judge — without bothering to ask her what she meant: “Jeesh, these folks need a life — and perhaps a touch of the Christmas spirit, as well.”

For goodness sake, Mr. President: Stop focusing on the economy!

Drudge Post:

Pat Robertson: "Time to Legalize Marijuana"

Finally someone in the Christian world is publicly recognizing the devastation that drug criminalization has done to families.  With about one quarter of all men caught up in the criminal 'justice' system - most due to nonviolent drug 'crimes' our nation is consuming its fathers.

My prayer would be that other faith leaders demonstrate a similar level of courage (or perhaps foolhardiness).

Jonah Goldberg - Time Traveler

Jonah is the Dom DeLuise of the conservative movement.  Either that or the Shecky Green.  I don't know comedians.  Well anyway, whichever he is, he makes the most important points in interesting ways.  Here's a classic:

When Is Your Quantum Moment?
Imagine you can go back in time. How much useful knowledge could you really bring with you? By that I mean, how much actual constructive knowledge could you deliver to the folks in, say, 1800 or 1500?

Imagine I was immediately transported back to the year 1750. Let's assume that I could even get a hearing from people who mattered (a big assumption). What could I bring to temporal show-and-tell that would move things along rapidly? Ninety-eight percent of my knowledge would be useless ("You're not exactly like a cognitive MacGyver, now" -- the Couch). I couldn't tell them how to make life-saving drugs, or how to make an electric transistor, or how the internal-combustion engine works. I'm sure I could give some helpful tips about the importance of hygiene and some general tidbits about nutrition. I could take a stab at explaining CPR -- but that'd be a real crapshoot if my credibility was on the line.

Now, of course, ideally if I were to go back to, say, the year 1200, I'd bring a lot of guns, the complete Time-Life series of how-to books, and a whole bunch of chemistry and medical textbooks, before commencing my plan to become the Kemal Ataturk of humanity.

And I know there are some readers out there who churn their own butter and solder their own personal electronics ("Wanna see my MyPhone?"). But many of us pretty thoroughly rely on the accumulated wisdom of others. As I've written before, nobody in the world even knows how to make a pencil -- and even that idea came from someone else!

The vast bulk of knowledge we have is dependent on stuff we know little or nothing about. I can drive a car and make a computer work, but I am barely better equipped to build a car or put together a computer than a Viking.

Why do I bring this up? Well, partly because I'm always daydreaming about time travel (and someday, when I write my novel, graphic or otherwise, that daydreaming will really pay off!). But also because I think it illustrates a fundamental -- the fundamental -- conservative point. Civilization has a memory cache we dare not erase. Because it is our collective wisdom, or intangible capital, that makes us rich, that makes us anything at all.

OK, cue Babs Streisand:  "People who need people are the luckiest peopllllllee in the worlllllllllllld" - did you know that she's a closet paleo?

I'll stop now.

There is no Obama "Comeback"

Jennifer Rubin on the "Obama Comeback":

I'm getting whiplash trying to follow the Democrats' talking points. First, it was a disaster when Obama agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts. Obama was a wimp. Then it was a horrid error to allow the omnibus spending bill to die (and with it all that funding for ObamaCare). The White House, liberals complained, also blew it on the DREAM act. And now, presto: Obama has mounted a phenomenal comeback!
The reality is that the left is so invested in it's racialist 'President of Color' meme it will define whatever BHO does as 'righteous'.  This is what happens when you put politics and power at the center of your world.   Last week the New Republic was bemoaning the Dems lack of 'religious' outreach:  I disagree, they have lots of 'religious outreach' - it's just that for most of their activists that religion is power.  They're reaching out for that 24/7.

The key to principled, effective governance is to place the Author of Life at the center and then build upon Him.  Without God's truth, politics and governance are just a mad power grab.

Obama: Running away while yelling "Charge!"

Victor Davis Hanson talks about how stealthily the Obami have reversed virtually every plank that the Democrats ran on from 2001 to 2009.  But the funny thing is that the Obami continue to shriek progressivism even as they actively pursue "neocon, Fox News, Reaganite" policies.  All least Bill Clinton had the self awareness and perhaps integrity to acknowledge what he was doing.

By contrast, these guys define 'right' as 'whatever I need to do to get and hold power'.  Contemptible.

An unrepresentative but quite influential intellectual elite — in the media, the universities, the arts, and government — is vested in Barack Obama, in his unpopular doctrinaire agenda, but even more so in the symbolism of his person. The result is paradoxical. For his political survival, Obama now accepts that his faith-based ideas about the environment, radical Islam, taxes, stimulus, the economy, national security, and foreign policy are not supported by any evidence in the real world. Yet he knows as well that the more he must become empirical, the more he must assure his flock of believers outside the farmhouse window that he still walks on four rather than two legs.
The wonder is not that politicians change as politics dictate, but that the most vehement leftism now accepts nonchalantly what it not long ago so ardently demonized. The oddity is not that Obama must back up after driving his country into a brick wall at the end of a dead-end street, but that as he backs up, turns around, and heads in the other direction, he can still be praised as if he had dematerialized and gone ahead right on through the wall.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The thing about rich people is that they're not stupid

From the Wall Street Journal:

Oregon raised its income tax on the richest 2% of its residents last year to fix its budget hole, but now the state treasury admits it collected nearly one-third less revenue than the bean counters projected. ...
In 2009 the state legislature raised the tax rate to 10.8% on joint-filer income of between $250,000 and $500,000, and to 11% on income above $500,000. Only New York City's rate is higher. Oregon's liberal voters ratified the tax increase on individuals and another on businesses in January of this year, no doubt feeling good about their "shared sacrifice."
Congratulations. Instead of $180 million collected last year from the new tax, the state received $130 million. ...
One reason revenues are so low is that about one-quarter of the rich tax filers seem to have gone missing. The state expected 38,000 Oregonians to pay the higher tax, but only 28,000 did. Funny how that always happens. These numbers are in line with a Cascade Policy Institute study, based on interstate migration patterns, predicting that the tax surcharge would lead to 80,000 fewer wealthy tax filers in Oregon over the next decade. ...
Envy really is a form of madness.

No Congress has passed more laws since the Great Society

And each law is a rent seeking opportunity.  Each law is an intrusion on activities that were previously freer.  Each law passes more power to the Federal state and away from the states and people.  Each law gives more power and authority to lawyers whether they be law enforcement, regulatory or private.  This is liberal fascism.  It is leading to our ruin.  Just recall:  as surely as the 60s Great Society led to 70s stagflation, the Obamania of the 2000s will lead to chaos.

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Internet free? Can't have that.

Everything in the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state (Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato) is the classic Italian Fascist slogan. It reflects perfectly the mindset of our dear leaders who finding the one sector of our economy that is flourishing outside of state manipulation are determined to capture the power and rents that it generates for themselves. They're ticks. Squish 'em.

The last paragraph of this article asks, “Why does the FCC plan to intervene in a rushed manner, days before the year’s end, in the one sector of the economy that is working so well to create consumer choice, jobs and entrepreneurial opportunity?”
A very simple and obvious answer comes to mind. Power.
The internet has done more to shape political and cultural opinion in the last ten years than any other vehicle. (As I’m sure you’re well aware) It has also exposed the warts on the ruling elites and their shills in the main-stream media. It has been the lynch pin of the tea party movement and the ever growing opposition to centralized, top down, always increasing state control. It was crucial in the shaping of the public perception which led to this fall’s electoral debacle for the democrats and that’s why they seem so determined to forge ahead. Julius Seizure is just the front man.

Our Congress so deeply corrupt that it can't see up

Ethanol is an economic fraud, an environmental catastrophe and causing food shortages around the world.  Now the Congresscreeps in order to keep the ethanol gravy train going, have mandated fuels that will damage our cars.  I have no words to describe these vile political lawyers.  Evil implies a certain level of intelligence.  These people are evil the way a tapeworm or a tick is evil.

MORE ETHANOL FOLLIES: Engine Makers Sue To Block E15 Ethanol. “Most car fuel sold around the country is a mixture of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline, known as E10, but ethanol supplies, and Congressional mandates for using ethanol, are rising much faster than the market is absorbing the fuel. So in October, acting on the petition of an ethanol industry group, the agency approved a 15 percent blend known as E15, for cars from the 2007 model year and later. . . . The retailers are not enthusiastic about E15 for a variety of reasons. One is that most stations run off a single set of underground tanks, and if these are converted to E15 and only some cars can use that fuel, the stations would have nothing to offer other customers.” So we’ve got a surplus as a result of government subsidies. Now, of course, we have to have a mandate to try to overcome the subsidy-generated surplus. Then we’ll have mandate-generated distortions resulting from efforts to overcome the subsidy-generated surplus. Which will probably produce a subsidy to gas stations to help them deal with the mandate-generated distortions that were put in place to overcome the subsidy-generated surplus, after which . . . .

A classic social epidemic

Malcolm Gladwell described social epidemics to a tee in his book 'The Tipping Point'.  Twitter is clearly one.  What a bunch of .....twits.

These hep cats really don't know how to play this game, do they?

Nina Totenberg ashamed to admit that she went to a "Christmas Party".  I find it fascinating that the power elites are so separated from the culture that they believe it is in their best interest to distance them from core cultural norms.  Has a group of leaders ever, ever been so isolated from those they lead?  I mean other than in colonial regimes?  Hattip Instapundit.

At Newsbusters, Brent Baker catches NPR's Nina Totenberg offering an odd qualifier during an anecdote on one of her television appearances: "'I was at -- forgive the expression -- a Christmas party,'NPR reporter Nina Totenberg interjected on Inside Washington in the weekend's oddest cautionary separation from a common description for a common event, seemingly embarrassed to invoke any religious terminology for Christmas. She didn't say what she'd prefer for parties this time of the year to be named. 'Winter solstice party'? Just plain old 'holiday party'? Or a 'seasonal gathering'?"

It doesn't take a weatherman to know which way the wind is takes an astrophysicist

Oddly enough, Europe is going through its third "worst ever" winter in a row.  This man predicted it by studying....the sun.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The New York Times reports on Mao's Great Famine

Here.  Perhaps making up a little for Duranty's Pulitzer Prize winning cover up of Stalin's Great Famine in the 1930s?  Naw, it's just fashionable to bash the Chi-coms now.  And while the NYT is often, even flagrantly wrong and dishonest, it is never, ever unfashionable.

Just ask anyone (else who lives in Manhattan).

Faster and faster

The pace of change is going to continue to accelerate exponentially with wildly unpredictable results.  Concepts like inflation have never dealt with the type of value creation that we are experiencing.  Economists are having increasing difficulty figuring out how to measure the change.  It's an immense positive to the world, particularly to the poor and oppressed.  But it does make for a wild ride.

CHANGE: “Sometime in the next few months, the number of mobile phones in use will exceed 3.3 billion, or half the world’s population. No technology has ever spread faster around the globe: the mobile phone took less than two decades to reach this degree of penetration.”

W. Bush on the Katrina Response

Pretty much what I expected.  Pretty much what happened.  The people who were responsible failed and abdicated and immediately began pointing fingers at the Feds.  The press ran with it....because they're partisan frauds.  From Decision Points.

"Who's in charge of security in New Orleans?" I asked.

My question silenced the raucous discussion in the Air Force One conference room on Friday, September 2, 2005. "The governor is in charge," Mayor Ray Nagin said, pointing across the dark wood table at Governor Kathleen Blanco.

Every head pivoted in her direction. The Louisiana governor froze. She looked agitated and exhausted. "I think it's the mayor," she said non-committally.


The tone started out tense and got worse. The governor and mayor bickered. Everyone blasted the Federal Emergency Management Agency for failing to meet their needs. Congressman Bobby Jindal pointed out that FEMA had asked people to email their requests, despite the lack of electricity in the city. I shook my head. "We'll fix it," I said, looking at FEMA director Mike Brown. Senator Mary Landrieu interrupted with unproductive emotional outbursts. "Would you please be quiet?" I had to say to her at one point.

I asked to speak to Governor Blanco privately. We walked out of the conference room, through a narrow passageway, and into the small cabin at the front tip of Air Force One. I told her it was clear the state and local response forces had been overwhelmed. "Governor," I pressed, "you need to authorize the federal government to take charge of the response."

She told me she needed twenty-four hours to think it over.

"We don't have twenty-four hours," I snapped. "We've waited too long already."

The governor refused to give an answer.

Next I asked to meet privately with Mayor Nagin. He had spent four days since Katrina holed up in a downtown hotel. He hadn't bathed or eaten a hot meal until he used my shower and ate breakfast on Air Force One. In a radio interview the previous evening, he had vented his frustration with the federal government. "Get off your asses and do something," he said, "and let's fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country." Then he broke down in tears. When I met him on that plane, Ray whispered an apology for his outburst and explained that he was exhausted.

I asked the mayor what he thought about federalizing the responses. He supported it. "Nobody's in charge," he said. "We need a clear chain of command." But only the governor could request that the federal government assume control of the emergency.

I am shocked, shocked that market economics are going on in this nation.

Hattip Instapundit.

PHARMA SHRUGS: Mandated price reductions produce drug scarcity. Who could have seen that one coming?

When seconds count, the police are only minutes away

Hat tip Instapundit

“Intent on killing his ex-girlfriend, Sharp picked up a knife, told his older brother, Ralph, “I’m going to get her,” and stepped out of the house. …
“… police said Sharp had attacked [Mellony] Pursel and was strangling her when her niece ordered him to stop.
“When the attack continued, the girl grabbed a gun. She fatally shot Sharp as he lunged for her, said Roy Police Chief Greg Whinham. … “
When seconds count, the police are only minutes away. That’s not their fault — it’s just physics