Thursday, June 30, 2011

Not only is college often useless, it can be bad for you

George Leef reports on a study of the impact of going to college on anti-social behavior.

A reader who commented on my recent assertion that college doesn’t necessarily teach students good traits like responsibility and perseverance brought to my attention a study released in 2008 finding that “college-bound youth report lower levels of criminal activity and substance abuse during adolescence compared to non-college-bound youth. However, levels of drinking, property theft, and unstructured socializing with friends increase among the college-bound after enrollment at a four-year university, and they surpass the rates of less-educated peers.”
The upshot seems to be that while many students learn little or nothing of value during their college experience, a fair number of them acquire some bad traits. Put a lot of academically disengaged, fun-seeking kids together, and that outcome seems more than believable; almost inevitable, I’d say.

How can this be? Unions give more than all industry combined to political candidates.

Over the past 20 years Unions own the political giving league tables.  Note that the teacher's unions are called out separately and have donated close to three times as much to politicians as the entire Energy industry.  Almost all to Dems, natch.  The natural argument to make is 'well, when you add up all of the corps their totals probably almost equal the union totals' - except that all of the corps are representing far more human beings (their employees and investors), while the Unions represent only 1 in 8 US workers.  On a per constituent basis union political giving has to be 10 or 20 times corporate giving.  And corporate giving includes the lawyers!

Money power is alive and well in American politics.  It's just that it's disproportionately union power.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Krugman Mentality

It is surprising that such an establishment figure can be so unhinged.  And a bit frightening because this guy is really close to the halls of liberal power.  Our Republic relies upon civility and respect for our opponents.  Something we all (me included) need to remember.

Like most liberal moralists, Mr. Krugman demonizes his opponents as not merely wicked and/or stupid/and or venal, but also “furious” because he is so right and they are so wrong. On election night 2008, he and his even more uncompromisingly liberal wife, Robin Wells, who is also a Princeton economist, had a party at which effigies of their enemies were burned. Salem, anyone?

Thieves to the left of me, thieves to the right: RINOs cashing in on Obamacare grants

Big time.  The lust for money and power is bipartisan and insatiable.  The only solution is to strip the Federal Government of much of its domestic power and return to a system where the 50 states compete for business and residents.  There needs to be a competitive market for good governance.

So Obamacare is turning into a cash cow for more than just the drug industry that helped write it.
The cash cow gaining attention today is the costly proces -- which is very well funded by taxpayers -- of setting up the state-level exchanges Obamacare mandates. Politico has the big piece on this today. Here's the heart of the piece:
The health reform law and the millions of dollars it invests in health exchanges, the new marketplaces that states must launch by 2014 or risk the federal government coming in and taking over the task.
More than $300 million in exchange grants has already flowed into the states since the Affordable Care Act passed. That number will grow exponentially in the coming months, as states move from the initial steps of passing exchange legislation to the more lucrative task of setting them up.
For health consultants and information technology vendors, it’s already shaping up to be a gold mine.
Michael Cannon at Cato picks out one of the characters in this exchange racket: George W. Bush's HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt, whose consulting firm is running around to gobble up this taxpayer lucre. Meanwhile, another Bush HHS Secretary and health-care consultant, Tommy Thompson joins the club of revolving-door K Streeters getting space at HuffPo for their industry talk.
What I find most interesting is the Left's reaction to this Obamacare profiteering. You see, I've been nearly alone in pointing out that Pro-Obamacare Republicans stand to profit from the law. The rest of the MSM and the Left have ignored this inconvenient truth, which crashes against their narrative that the legislative fight was "reformers" vs. industry shills.
Here's what Igor Volsky of the Center for American Progress wrote in 2009:
President Bush’s Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt appeared to distance himself from the Republican alternative to universal health reform — consumer driven health care. While it’s unclear if Leavitt was endorsing an Obama-like proposal, Leavitt’s suggestion that the government — and not just the free market — has a role to play in providing affordable coverage seems to rebuke conservative campaign talking points
And here's Volsky praising Thompson for opposing Obamacare repeal.
But here's what Volsky says today about Leavitt and Thompson:
A funny thing is happening between the two Republicans who ran the Department of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush and did so little to expand access to health insurance: they’re now both supporting President Obama’s health care exchanges — the new market places that will allow Americans to easily compare and purchase health insurance in 2014.

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Break it up, break it all up.

Stunning perspective on the world's wealth

Now this would help. A lot.

SHOULD AMERICANS get more time off from work? No, but Congress should. They should meet only 60 days per year, and if they fail to pass a budget they should receive no pay, or expenses, and should be ineligible to stand for re-election.

8888: the sign of the fascist beast?

THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED FOR JOHN MCCAIN, INTERNET PRIVACY WOULD BE DEAD. AND THEY WERE RIGHT! U.S. sent Google 8,888 requests for user-data in 2010. “Google fielded 8,888 requests from the United States government last year asking for information on people using its services, the company wrote in a report on Monday. The total number is likely higher because the Google statistics only cover criminal investigations. The U.S. is by far the most active, and successful, solicitor of private info from Google, accounting for about one-third of all federal requests last year, according to the data. Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission formally launched an antitrust investigation into Google’s business on Thursday.”

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Wisconsin: A harbinger of things to come?

Wisconsin has a reputation for being a rather liberal but reasonable place.  Not prone to strong emotions.  Yet I suspect reasonableness among Wisconsin elites is more driven by whether or not they believe that their core interests are being threatened.  Now that the social democratic state is in terminal decline and its key elements under attack, it appears that 'reasonable' behavior is being replaced by as Senator Feingold recently said:  "It's not over until we win" behavior.

If Wisconsin is representative, then, it's going to be a hot time all over the nation.  Hattip National Review

The Associated Press is reporting a criminal inquiry has been opened into the accusation that conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser “choked” liberal colleague Ann Walsh Bradley. On the surface, this is a black eye for both Prosser and Wisconsin Republicans who worked hard to ensure his re-election in a tough race that revolved around efforts to overturn the state legislature’s votes to limit the collective bargaining rights of state employee unions in order to balance the budget. But it turns out the charge against Prosser may be as bogus as the liberal claims that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP-controlled legislature were turning the Badger state into Nazi Germany.
Christian Schneider, a fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, writes inNational Review today to tell the inside story about this judicial brawl. According to Schneider’s sources, the set-to between the two judges turns out to have been instigated by Bradley, who charged Prosser, who had put his hands up to ward off his colleague’s assault. The two were immediately separated, after which Bradley claimed she had been “choked,” even though the majority of those present said it never happened. Schneider says those involved believe Bradley chose not to make a complaint herself because she knew it wouldn’t stand up in court. The story was leaked to the George Soros-funded Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, which promoted the accusation against Prosser and backed it up with anonymous sources.
This is just another sign of how brutal the battle between liberals and conservatives in Wisconsin has become. Having failed to stop the governor’s legislative agenda via boycotts by Democratic legislators and then a failed court challenge, is appears the next phase of this no-hold-barred dustup are attempts to personally destroy those associated with support of Walker’s ideas. While not much may come of the investigation against Prosser, it is a sign of how nasty things have gotten there. While one would hope that judges, of all people, would use this incident as a sign its time to turn down the temperature in Wisconsin, it may be the start of a new round of political mudslinging.

Facebook vs. Google - Network effects

Look at this chart.  Facebook is gaining user eyeball time while Google has stagnated. Is this because of network effects?  Clearly social media becomes more valuable as the number of people you know or want to know on the network increases.  The question is how valuable is this effect?  And to what extent can these types of social network effects be exploited by marketers in building more effective and productive sales channels/eco-systems?

At Comunicato we are working with a number of Fortune companies to explore how various tools including social media can expand and improve the quality of interaction between prospects, customers, sales people and channel partners.  Or in our parlance, how can we configure these tools and techniques in a manner that get more and most importantly, more productive conversations started?

Climate Change and Al Gore - Never Mind

Walter Russell Meade on the Goreacle:

Gore’s failures are not just about leadership.  The strategic vision he crafted for the global green movement has comprehensively failed.  That is no accident; the entire green policy vision was so poorly conceived, so carelessly constructed, so unbalanced and so rife with contradictions that it could only thrive among activists and enthusiasts.  Once the political power of the climate movement, aided by an indulgent and largely unquestioning press, had pushed the climate agenda into the realm of serious politics, failure was inevitable.  The only question was whether the comprehensive green meltdown would occur before or after the movement achieved its core political goal of a comprehensive and binding global agreement on greenhouse gasses.
That question has now been answered; the movement failed before it got its treaty, and while the media and the establishment have still generally failed to analyze these developments and draw the consequences, the global climate movement has become the kind of embarrassment intellectuals like to ignore.  Like the Club of Rome, Y2K, the Iraq Study Group and President Obama’s management of the Middle East peace process it is something polite people try not to think about. This is why Al Gore is less visible than he used to be, and his views are less eagerly sought: the polite world and its ready handmaid the press know Gore has failed but does not want to think or write about why.
I met the Goreacle at a New Orleans cocktail party after he had hung chad but before he globally warmed.  He was standing alone being ignored by everyone so we went up and said 'hi'.  He had dandruff.

It is my fervent hope that Mr. Gore will someday return to this, his best and highest use:  alone in a crowded room, flaking.

Nuff Said

It's official: rationing comes to Medicare

Anyone wondering why HHS might engage in a spy operation to determine if doctors are denying appointments to Medicare and Medicaid recipients should read this fascinating article in the Summer National Affairs by Avik Roy called “Saving Medicare from Itself.” Roy includes a table showing physicians who accept no new patients, by form of insurance. According to the chart, doctors are less likely to take new Medicare patients than privately insured patients, and even less likely to take new Medicaid patients than Medicare ones. He also shows that things are likely to get worse for Medicare patients, as “thanks to last year’s health-care law, Medicare payment rates are set to fall below those of Medicaid in the latter part of this decade, according to Medicare’s chief actuary, Richard Foster.”

Illinois governors more likely to be in the criminal justice system than leading it...Study

Of course our current executive leadership class is from....Illinois.  Natch.  Of course no Chicago city or county grandee has suffered such a fate.  The omerta is so much stronger by the lake.

The conviction of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich coincided with the release of a new study that finds that, since the 1970s,  a current or former Illinois governor is more likely to be in the criminal justice system than out. This is a shocking state of affairs that deserves more public attention and more dedication from the governor community. If only someone had reached out to these Illinois governors earlier. If only they had more positive role models. Perhaps if video games and TV weren’t full of images of politicians ripping off their states. Who knows what causes this epidemic? What we do know is that something must be done to stop this crisis in the heartland, to halt this inter-generational pattern of gubernatorial criminal pathology.

Goodbye California II

For goodness sakes, can't you just leave the poor kids alone?  It's a mad, mad, mad world.

Redwood Heights Elementary School in Oakland, CA has joined the chorus of those wishing to mainstream “gender-bending” by enacting a program this week that, according to a press release, tells kindergarteners “there are more than two genders.”
The kindergarten through fifth grade school hosted a 2-day program for students titled, “Gender Spectrum Diversity Training,” in which single-sex Hawaiian geckos and transgender clownfish were brought in to teach children that “there are different ways to be boys. There are different ways to be girls,” according to Redwood Heights principal Sara Stone. Students received gender diversity training as they learned about “boy snakes that act ‘girly’.”
This is only the latest example of what seems to be a New-Age, gender-bending agenda pushed into the mainstream media by those who refuse to accept the traditional sex differences between men and women. A couple in Toronto, Canada has sparked outrage because they refuse to assign a specific gender to their infant “Storm,” preferring instead to believe “a child’s sex should not determine his or her place in the world.”
The Culture and Media Institute exposed clothing company J. Crew’s gender-bending advertisement in which creative director Jenna Lyons was seen exploiting son Beckett’s favorite color by painting his toenails pink.

Earlier this year, NBC’s “Today Show” show host Meredith Vieira fawned over 5-year-old Dyson Kilodavis who twirled around in a tu-tu on set as his mother pimped out her book titled “My Princess Boy.” Perhaps not surprisingly, reading “My Princess Boy” was on the agenda for kindergarten and first grade students at Redwood Heights this week.

Barack, "What me worry?" Obama

Medicare is a rolling catastrophe and Obama....fiddles.  This is what affirmative action leadership looks like, gang.

Federal law requires the Medicare Trustees to issue a funding warning in their annual report whenever they project that Medicare’s dedicated revenues will fall significantly short of its outlays within seven years. They have issued such a warning, known as a “Medicare Trigger,” every year since 2006.
The president, in turn, is required by law to take action whenever the trustees issue a Medicare Trigger two years in a row. The White House must submit to Congress proposed legislation to address the projected funding crisis. President Bush followed the law by submitting a plan in 2008, though Congress never voted on it.

President Obama has taken a different approach: He has ignored the law altogether. The Medicare Trustees continue to warn us every year, and yet for the past three years we have received no proposal from the Obama administration.

His voice and those of his fellow elected Democrats are missing from this debate. We have heard from bipartisan groups like Domenici-Rivlin and the president’s own debt commission. We have heard from Rep. Paul Ryan and the vast majority of Republicans who have voted for his plan.
But Republicans can’t reform Medicare alone, and we won’t negotiate against ourselves. We need the president to lead. And we need the president to follow the law.

Say Goodbye to California?

As someone wise once said:  democracy, unrestrained immigration, multi-culturalism, choose any two.  Pat Buchanan is not my cup of tea but it is rather obvious that California is rapidly becoming more Mexican than American.  And the Americans there?  They are accommodating or leaving.
"I have never heard more consistent loud cheering for one team here," wrote Plaschke, "from the air horns to the 'Ole' chant with each Mexico pass, all set to the soundtrack of low throbbing that began in the parking lot six hours before the game and continued long into the night."
After the 4-2 win by Mexico, for the first time, the trophy award ceremony was held in the Rose Bowl. When the losing U.S. team was introduced, the stadium rocked again with boos.
"We're not booing the country. We're booing the team," one rooter for Mexico told Plaschke. "There's a big difference."
But why would scores of thousands boo a defeated team after a game?
Why would spectators raise a ruckus during a national anthem, except to manifest contempt for the country whose anthem it was?
U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard credited several Mexican players with the win, but he was disgusted at how the officials conducted the ceremony awarding the Gold Cup title to Mexico.
They "should be ashamed of themselves," said Howard. "It was a disgrace that the entire post-match ceremony was in Spanish. You can bet your (expletive) that if we were in Mexico City, it wouldn't be all in English."
Indeed, were U.S. fans in a Mexican town to boo, jeer and chant obscenities at a Mexican team before, during and after a match, and blow horns during the Mexican national anthem, they would be lucky to get out of the stadium alive.
What does this event, in which Plaschke estimates 80,000 fans in the Rose Bowl could not control their contempt for the U.S. team and for the U.S. national anthem, tell us?
Of course at its current rate of economic decline, why would we want to keep it?

Viva Aztlan!

Mike Barone: President Obama is Chauncy Gardener

Brilliant column by Barone - there really is a Chauncy Gardeneresqe aspect to the One.  It would be comic if it weren't so serious.

But there is another comparison I think more appropriate for a president who, according to one of his foreign-policy staffers, prefers to "lead from behind." The man I have in mind is Chauncey Gardiner, the character played by Peter Sellers in the 1979 movie "Being There."
As you may remember, Gardiner is a clueless gardener who is mistaken for a Washington eminence and becomes a presidential adviser. Asked if you can stimulate growth through temporary incentives, Gardiner says, "As long as the roots are not severed, all is well and all will be well in the garden."
"First comes the spring and summer," he explains, "but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again." The president is awed as Gardiner sums up, "There will be growth in the spring."
Kind of reminds you of Barack Obama's approach to the federal budget, doesn't it?
In preparing his February budget, Obama totally ignored the recommendations of his own fiscal commission headed by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson. Others noticed: The Senate rejected the initial budget by a vote of 97-0.
Then, speaking in April at George Washington University, Obama said he was presenting a new budget with $4 trillion in long-term spending cuts. But there were no specifics.
Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf was asked last week if the CBO had prepared estimates of this budget. "We don't estimate speeches," Elmendorf, a Democrat, explained. "We need much more specificity than was provided in that speech for us to do our analysis."
Evidently "first we have the spring and summer" was not enough.

Why aren't our kids pissed?

HT Jim Geraghty

Over at Ricochet, Rob Long wonders why young people aren't more outraged by the entitlements Ponzi scheme:

No protests in the streets. No marches. No student sit-ins. No youth agitation at all, really, except for a couple of College Republicans in blue blazers. What? Are they stupid? After all of that college tuition? Are young people in their 20's just dumb?

At a certain point, as the Bernie Madoff saga unfolded, a lot of us wondered if there wasn't some blame to be shared with the folks who believed his nonsense, who credulously cashed the checks in good years and bad, who never asked how he managed such stellar and consistent returns.

As a man in his 40's who is currently participating in the great swindle, I've got to say to the kids in their 20's: thanks for making it so easy.

America: the biggest, bestest brother of all

US asks Google for user data far more than any other nation in the world.  It's because we're such a free country.  Vell Mr. Goldberg iff you vere not doink anythink wrong zen vot do you haff to hide?

Racist for disliking Mormons?

Glenn Reynolds (perhaps tongue in cheek) makes a good point:

But I think there is an important distinction to be made.  Hostility towards Mormons (or evangelicals, or muslims, or Texans for that matter) is less like racism - which of course is hostility to an immutable trait than 'homophobia' which is hostility to a set of behaviors.  Some people don't like the gay lifestyle and behavior patterns so it is said that they are 'homophibic' (stupid misuse of the English language, yes, but that's what they say).  Some people don't like the Muslim or Mormon lifestyle so likewise.  But it is essential that we be able to (here's that word) discriminate between different behaviors without being held morally or legally liable.  This is why charges of 'Islamophobia' or 'homophobia' don't have the same moral and should not have the same legal standing as anti-black or Asian hostility.

Christians have a phrase for this:  "Hate the sin, not the sinner".

Monday, June 27, 2011

More ideologically open news means more trusted news?

Interesting finding on trust in media.  It seems that trust in media increases when media biases are exposed.  As someone once said:  'sunlight is the best disinfectant'.

It might sound counterintuitive, but the latest Gallup poll found the public’s confidence in television news has grown as the media has become more ideologically “polarized”:
The views of Americans aged 18 to 29 exhibited the most mixed year-to-year change, with this group showing a 10-point increase in confidence in television news but a 10-point decrease in confidence in newspapers. While members of this group remain among the most confident in each, their views are now on par with those of Democrats and liberals. Republicans also showed inconsistent movement in their opinions, registering a nine-point increase in their confidence in television news and essentially no change in their views of newspapers. Interestingly, considering the highly polarized nature of cable news, all ideological groups increased their trust in television news to about the same degree.
In other words, the Rupert Murdoch model is working – and there’s a good reason why. Before the Fox News Channel, conservative trust in TV news was almost nonexistent because of the pervasive (and undisclosed) liberal bias of the network news stations. FNC not only countered this by hiring journalists who gave the other side of the story, it also laid its cards on the table by hiring openly conservative commentators and pundits for its primetime lineup.
Unlike the network news stations, FNC has never tried to hide its ideological programming. The same goes for the left-leaning MSNBC. Disclosing biases arms viewers with more information, helping them decide which programs they want to watch and how much credence they want to give to each news show.

US has spent $20 Billion on air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan

I am increasingly attracted by Derbyshire's 'Rubble don't cause no Trouble' strategy.  It's so economical in American lives and treasure.  And I'm not sure it won't be more effective in achieving the goals of peace and civil society.  You can't 'save' people.  We should know that by now.

NPR: The amount the U.S. military spends annually on air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan: $20.2 billion.
That’s more than NASA’s budget. It’s more than BP has paid so far for damage during the Gulf oil spill. It’s what the G-8 has pledged to help foster new democracies in Egypt and Tunisia.

Houston, Dallas to Lap Metro Chicago over the next 20 years.

As an indication of just how the mighty have fallen, the once Second City Chicago will be no better than the 5th city by 2030 according to demographers.  Texas as already become the number one location for large corporate headquarters in the world and now Houston is in the process of supplanting a large share of Los Angeles' Port/Industrial business.  Despite having huge levels of poor hispanic and asian immigration, it is also one of the richest states per capita in the nation and gaining.

In 1970 Illinois and Texas both had 11 million people.  Today Illinois is at 12 and holding and Texas 26.

And what policy mix are our Federales implementing?  Illinois.

Go figure.

The ethics of sunscreen?

Seth Godin recently wrote a provocative post on consumer regulation (using deceptive sunscreen marketing as an example).  His basic thesis was this:

How can consumers look at this example and not believe that the regulation of marketing claims is the only way to insulate consumers from short-term selfish marketers in search of market share, marketers who will shade the truth, even if it kills some customers?
Why aren't ethical marketers (of any product) eager to have clear and well-defined regulations, creating a set of honest definitions so that they can actually do what they set out to do--make a difference and make a living at the same time? If you're busy competing against people willing to cut corners, I'd think you'd want the rules to be really aggressive, clear and obvious.

Several observations:  first (and  you should read the whole post) where are the consumers?    In Godin's world there seem to only be the corporations (who are either unethical or driven to unethical behavior) and the presumably ethical state (sigh).   Yet any parent can tell you that they don't evaluate sunscreens primarily by marketing claims but by whether they work - we go to sites we trust, we ask friends, we learn from experience.  If you assume that 315 million Americans are children who are simple and easily deceived, why allow marketing at all?

And if we can't let people choose their sunscreens without serious regulation then how can we let them choose their politicians?  After all what politicians do is potentially far more deadly and expensive than the most avaricious marketer.  And their claims are utterly unregulated.

And if politicians are chosen in such a low, dishonest, fraudulent environment by people incapable of even selecting the right sunscreen without expert help, then why do we believe that the resultant regulations reflect anything but the low, dishonest, fraudulence of the political process? In other words, why should we trust the public marketers to put our interests first any more than the private ones?

Let me offer another example.  My local farmer's market in St. Louis has many organic food providers from both Illinois and Missouri.  The Illinois dairies cannot produce or sell unpasteurized milk.  The Missouri ones can.  Illinois has regulated its market in a way that pleases the supermarkets which cannot manage the distribution of unpasteurized milk.  Missouri, being much more lassiez faire lets people who choose this type of product decide for themselves.  The result:  Walmart sells marginally less milk while small shops and markets sell more and consumers get what they want at their own risk.

Give me competitive markets where truth is fought out over public air waves.  The rise of healthy or organic foods was achieved in the face of lots of marketing puffery without extensive regulation (or regulations on behalf of entrenched competitors that prevented them from competing).  The companies like Whole Foods who have done well in it have succeeded because they earned the reputation as credible external witnesses whose business depends on making sure that the products they sell deliver their promises.  Safeway and Walgreens did the same thing before them.

Jim Buchanan at George Mason won a Nobel for explaining that public and private actors are both self seeking and that favoring one over the other doesn't make problems go away, just makes different problems.  The key in both sectors is competition and free speech so that the true experts - hundreds of millions of consumers and voters - can make their collective judgement using all the available market information.  One tube of sunscreen at a time.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


My sentiments exactly.

The main significant effect found in this study was that people who’d lived at least three months outside the US rated the English accent significantly lower than people who’d only lived in the US. In fact, Americans who had not lived abroad considered the English-accented person to be much more intelligent than themselves, but the people who had lived abroad rated the standard American accent more intelligent than the standard English one.  My preferred way of interpreting this (a bit tongue-in-cheek) is that Americans are happy to rate the English as more intelligent than themselves up until they actually start meeting and talking to the English.

Our vile, disgusting, embarrassing criminal 'justice' system

Mark Steyn on the reincarceration of Conrad Black.  Our 'justice' system is exhibit number one for why the United States has descended into fascist night.  I used to get in fights in Abu Dhabi as a kid, defending my country.  But now I must say it:  I am embarrassed to be an American

We suck.

Break it up.  Break it all up.

I am overseas at the moment and have just caught up on the coverage of Judge Amy St Eve’s decision yesterday to send my old boss (and now NRO colleague) Conrad Black back to jail. Following the Supreme Court’s overturning of the “honest services” basis of his conviction, Conrad was released from prison in Florida, after serving two years, to await re-sentencing. Given that he was, in effect, improperly convicted on the majority of charges, a civilized and humane justice system would have concluded that it was both absurd and vindictive to return him to his cell for the one shred of the United States Government’s case that has not been tossed out along the way in Conrad’s seven year battle.
But the Department of Justice is not civilized and humane. As I wrote here:
The federal justice system is a bit like one of those unmanned drones President Obama is so fond of using on the unfortunate villagers of Waziristan. Once it’s locked on to you and your coordinates are in the system, it’s hard to get it called off. Three years ago, during his trial in Chicago, I suggested to the defendant he’d be better off saving his gazillions in legal fees and instead climbing under the tarp in the bed of my truck and letting me drive him over the minimally enforced Pittsburg-La Patrie border crossing to Quebec and thence by fishing boat to a remote landing strip on Miquelon where a waiting plane could spirit him somewhere beyond the reach of the U.S. Attorney. Estimated cost: about a thousandth of what he’d spent on lawyers to date. P’shaw, scoffed Conrad, or ejaculations to that effect. He was not a fugitive but an innocent man, and eventually he would be vindicated by the justice system of this great republic.
But that’s not possible – because, with a system that relies on  multiple charges and an ability to pressure everybody else in the case to switch sides, you can win (as Conrad did) nineteen-twentieths of the battles and still lose the war. He’s a wealthy businessman, and nobody has any sympathy for those. But it’s even worse if you’re a nobody. A New Hampshire neighbor of mine had the misfortune to attract the attention of federal prosecutors for one of those white-collar “crimes” no one can explain in English. The jury acquitted him in a couple of hours. Great news! The system worked! Not really. By then, the feds had spent a half-decade demolishing his life, exhausting his savings, wrecking his marriage, and driving him to attempt suicide. He’s not a big scary businessman like Conrad, just a small-town nobody. And he’ll never get his life back. Because, regardless of the verdict, the process is the punishment – which is the hallmark of unjust justice systems around the world.
As to white-collar crime, what about the one type of white-collar crime that goes entirely unpunished? For an accounting fraud of $567 million, Enron’s executives went to jail, and its head guy died there. For an accounting fraud ten times that size, the two Democrat hacks who headed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Franklin Raines and Jamie Gorelick, walked away with a combined taxpayer-funded payout of $116.4 million.  Fannie and Freddie are two of the largest businesses in America, but they’re exempt from SEC disclosure rules and Sarbanes-Oxley “corporate governance” burdens, and so in 2008, unlike Enron, WorldCom or any of the other reviled private-sector bogeymen, they came close to taking down the entire global economy. Yes, yes, I know two wrongs don’t make a right (unless you’re Jamie Gorelick), but what then is the point of the SEC?
Judge St Eve’s decision is appalling. In my weekend column, I write about “nation-building” at home and abroad. Federal justice shares with those subjects what is the defining characteristic of US Government in the early 21st century – grotesque excess and an utter lack of proportion. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

That was then and this is now - our 'progressive' overlords and their situational ethics

Hillary Clinton - just off of her stint as principled feminist procuress in chief for her husband's sexploitations is now showing just how smoothly she can transition from 'war' to 'peace' and back to 'war' rhetoric again.

. . . the bottom line is, whose side are you on? Are you on Qadhafi’s side or are you on the side of the aspirations of the Libyan people and the international coalition that has been created to support them?
Yet said in May 2003 in the context of Iraq:
I am sick and tired of people who say that if you debate and you disagree with this administration somehow you’re not patriotic. We should stand up and say we are Americans and we have a right to debate and disagree with any administration.
Of course back in 2003 no one of any substance ever said that Hilary wasn't patriotic - cynical?  hypocritical?  two faced?  opportunist?   yes.  But not unpatriotic.  Because she loves this country - only in America can such a two faced legal fraud get so much power and wealth (and even steal the White House Silver). 

Is 3d Printing a new transformational technology?

Richard Karlgaard thinks so:

The transformative technology of the 2015-2025 period could be 3D printing. This has the potential to remake the economics of manufacturing from a large-scale industry back to an artisan model of small design shops with access to 3D printers. In other words, making stuff, real stuff, could move from being a capital intensive industry into something that looks more like art and software. This should favor the American skill set of creativity.
The cost of 3D printers has dropped tenfold in five years. That’s the real kicker here — 3D printing is riding the Moore’s Law curve, just as 2D printing started doing in the 1980s.
Disruptive technologies have certain attributes:  they evolve rapidly relative to traditional technologies so no player can stay on top for long, they radically change not just the cost but the cost structure of production.  And they allow much greater scope for fulfilling wants and needs that heretofore could not be fulfilled.  Fun.

Nevada passes laws for driverless cars

I for one welcome our new robot overlords.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

King County (Seattle) mandates lifejackets if you are in a river or lake

The ultimate 'progressive' locale is the ultimate progressive fascist joke.  They are beyond parody.

"People who hope to beat the summer heat by swimming, floating or boating on rivers in King County (Washington state) must wear a life vest or face an $86  fine. A divided County Council on Monday passed a personal flotation device ordinance by a five to four vote. Opponents said it was an intrusive move by "big government."

"This council sometimes thinks it's everybody's mom," said Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, who voted "no."  Supporters said the new rule will save lives."

Adding insult to injury

Not only do we imprison more people than any other nation in the world, we also facilitate over 200,000 rapes of said inmates every year.  And most of the raping is done - you guessed it - by our 'public servants'.  Remember, they are not on our side, they're on their side.  Our nation's government is so brutal.

The U.S. Department of Justice recently released its first-ever estimate of the number of inmates who are sexually abused in America each year. According to the department’s data, which are based on nationwide surveys of prison and jail inmates as well as young people in juvenile detention centers, at least 216,600 inmates were victimized in 2008 alone. Contrary to popular belief, most of the perpetrators were not other prisoners but staff members—corrections officials whose job it is to keep inmates safe. On average, each victim was abused between three and five times over the course of the year. The vast majority were too fearful of reprisals to seek help or file a formal complaint.

Environmental 'Remediation' becomes environmental disaster

“Government looks very good taking corporate USA to task,” Ruggi adds. “It makes great headlines. The sad part is the health of the Hudson loses out. We grow up thinking the government works for us. To come to the realization that it can work against us is shocking.”

Remember:  public 'servants' aren't on your side, they're on their side.  The whole sordid story here.

Are government nutritional guidelines killing you? City Journal Article

It is not surprising that the state of science and nutrition has evolved.  But for sheer stupidity the message "low fat high carb is healthy" has to be one of the greatest screw-ups in our benighted Federal Government's history.  City Journal has the tale:

Looking at such evidence, several top medical scientists have concluded that the government’s carb-heavy guidelines may actually have harmed public health. In 2008, three researchers from the Albert Einstein School of Medicine—including the associate dean of clinical research, Paul Marantz, and a former president of the International Hypertension Society, Michael Alderman—observed in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine that since 1977, Americans have largely followed the government’s advice, doubtless as conveyed by the doctors they consulted. Men, for instance, cut their fat intake from 37 percent of their daily calories to 32 percent and increased their carbohydrate intake from 42 percent to 49 percent. Yet over the same three decades, the fraction of American men who were overweight or obese increased from 53 percent of the population to about 69 percent. The doctors wondered whether this correlation was an unintended consequence of telling the entire population to change its eating patterns. “In general,” the doctors wrote, “weak evidentiary support has been accepted as adequate justification for [the U.S. dietary] guidelines. This low standard of evidence is based on several misconceptions, most importantly the belief that such guidelines could not cause harm.” But, they concluded, “it now seems that the U.S. dietary guidelines recommending fat restriction might have worsened rather than helped the obesity epidemic and, by so doing, possibly laid the groundwork for a future increase in CVD,” cardiovascular disease.

But the real story is not the details or the advice but the 'progressive' assumption that the state has any business telling people what to eat any more than it has business telling people what to buy or who to vote for.  It is this attitude that the state is responsible for enforcing 'healthy behaviors' that led to the chaos of alcohol prohibition followed by the current chaos of drug prohibition.  My consuming a marijuana cigarette (or a Martini) in my back yard hurts no one except (perhaps) myself.  Having no victim, it is (as the Soviets would put it) a 'crime against the state'.  And the 'progressive' state, arrogating the right to dictate what is "healthy and righteous" and punish that which is "unhealthy and unrighteous" has proceeded to imprison and convict a higher proportion of human beings for these 'crimes against the state' than any other nation in the history of the world.

Such are the wages of 'progressivism' - or as I call it, fascism.

Update 1:  OK, OK, Hitler and Stalin probably imprisoned more people.  But if that's you're argument, God help you.

Update 2:  I am reminded of another 'progressive' initiative that is assiduously being shoved down the memory hole.

TREVOR BURRUS: One Generation of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. is Enough. Holmes, Jr. is overrated. Holmes, Sr. is underrated.
But here’s the key: “In all, more than 60,000 people—including 7,600 in North Carolina—were forcibly sterilized in the United States in the name of ‘progress.’ Progressives of the time lauded the decision in Buck. Individual rights, they firmly believed, should not be allowed to stand in the way of collective progress.” Related item here.
And here’s what Holmes Sr. said after quitting law school for medical school: “I know not what the temple of law may be to those who have entered it, but to me it seems very cold and cheerless about the threshold.”