Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Some Protesters Are More Equal Than Others

Is the Tea Party being unfairly audited?
While Occupy protesters say they're being punished by cities for engaging in legal civil disobedience, tea party activists have noted instances of public solidarity with the Occupy protests that suggest different free-speech standards based on political affiliation. Such solidarity has been expressed by mayors like Villaraigosa in Los Angeles and Dwight Jones in Richmond.

Tea party activists say they've paid their way and followed the law. But US taxpayers have had to underwrite a grand total of $13 million in Occupy Wall Street-related expenses since the movement began on Sept. 17, the Associated Press reported recently. By some estimates, Richmond taxpayers paid $7,000 to supply the Occupy protesters with portable toilets and other services during the two weeks they camped at Kanawha Plaza.

City spokeswoman Tammy Hawley told Fox News that allegations of political retaliation "are just completely unfounded." The tea party group, she said, was one of 700 groups and businesses that came up during a review as having paid no excise taxes for admissions, lodging, and meals in 2010.

Richmond tea party activists say they had made it clear to the city that they collected no such revenues during their rallies. “The Richmond Tea Party stands for constitutional adherence, and clearly this has been unequal treatment under the law,” tea party member Colleen Owens wrote on the Right Side News website. What's more, she wrote, "We challenged the mayor’s unequal treatment between groups and he responds with even more unequal treatment.”
It does raise the question of what would happen if the Tea Party staged an event in, say, Oakland...

Drilled In America

The Wall Street Jorunal reports on the rise of America as an energy exporter (subscription only):
If the trend toward net exports persists, it could also influence the national political debate over U.S. energy policy, which has been driven primarily by concerns about upheaval in the Middle East over the past decade. The independence of the U.S. from foreign oil sources has long been a lightning-rod issue in Washington, one further inflamed by last year’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Supporters of off-shore drilling have used the desire for independence to push their cause, setting up a battle with environmental groups and others who prefer a shift away from carbon-based fuels.

The growth in exports is part of a “transformation of the energy system,” says Ed Morse, global head of commodity research at Citigroup Inc. “It’s the beginning signs of a process that will continue for the next decade and will point toward energy independence.”

The reversal raises the prospect of the U.S. becoming a major provider of various types of energy to the rest of the world, a status that was once virtually unthinkable. The U.S. already exports vast amounts of coal, and companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. are pursuing or exploring plans to liquefy newly abundant natural gas and send it overseas.
That's assuming the EPA doesn't step in and try to stop them, of course...

Blue Blues

Why a mostly white liberal agenda is destroying the African-American middle class:
The civil rights movement and the emergence of a Black middle class has been one of America’s greatest successes of the 20th century, now Black families are seeing decades of progress unravel in the span of two years.

The blue model and reliance on unaffordable public sector jobs can no longer lift millions of people into the middle class. The private sector and especially small business including small community based business rooted in poor neighborhoods will have to take over. The transition to that new system will take time, and it requires a host of policies that are anathema to the supporters of the current system.
One of the things that scares white liberals the most are minorities who can succeed without their "help." Just ask Herman Cain...

I Hate You, You Love Me

Dana Milbank on Barney Frank's real legacy:
People who worked with Frank tell me that the former chairman of the House Financial Services Committee is “smart but not thoughtful.” He loved to fight and was a master of political combat, but he had little to show for it. He advanced gay rights, but trends have been moving in that direction anyway. He enacted the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul, but the fiddling-around-the-edges legislation has pleased few on the left while antagonizing business.

This isn’t to take away from his role as a modern Mark Twain. “Conservatives,” he quipped, “believe that, from the standpoint of the federal government, life begins at conception and ends at birth.” And: “The problem with the war in Iraq is not so much the intelligence as the stupidity.” And: “I’m used to being in the minority. I’m a left-handed, gay Jew.” But in the end, Frank’s legacy is more that of an entertainer’s than a legislator’s.
They do say that politics is show business for ugly people, some of whom are uglier than others.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

How Cults Die

Why the Church of Climate Change is a dying religion:
As with religion, it is presided over by a caste of spectacularly unattractive people pretending to an obscure form of knowledge that promises to make the seas retreat and the winds abate. As with religion, it comes with an elaborate list of virtues, vices and indulgences. As with religion, its claims are often non-falsifiable, hence the convenience of the term "climate change" when thermometers don't oblige the expected trend lines. As with religion, it is harsh toward skeptics, heretics and other "deniers." And as with religion, it is susceptible to the earthly temptations of money, power, politics, arrogance and deceit.

Religions are sustained in the long run by the consolations of their teachings and the charisma of their leaders. With global warming, we have a religion whose leaders are prone to spasms of anger and whose followers are beginning to twitch with boredom. Perhaps that's another way religions die.
Ones that offer nothing beyond dogma, at least.

The Happy Meal Mandate

The Happy Meal lives:
It turns out San Francisco has not entirely vanquished the Happy Meal as we know it. Come Dec. 1, you can still buy the Happy Meal. But it doesn't come with a toy. For that, you'll have to pay an extra 10 cents.

Huh. That hardly seems to have solved the problem (though adults and children purchasing unhealthy food can at least take solace that the 10 cents is going to Ronald McDonald House charities). But it actually gets worse from here. Thanks to Supervisor Eric Mar's much-ballyhooed new law, parents browbeaten into supplementing their preteens' Happy Meal toy collections are now mandated to buy the Happy Meals.

Today and tomorrow mark the last days that put-upon parents can satiate their youngsters by simply throwing down $2.18 for a Happy Meal toy. But, thanks to the new law taking effect on Dec. 1, this is no longer permitted. Now, in order to have the privilege of making a 10-cent charitable donation in exchange for the toy, you must buy the Happy Meal. Hilariously, it appears Mar et al., in their desire to keep McDonald's from selling grease and fat to kids with the lure of a toy have now actually incentivized the purchase of that grease and fat -- when, beforehand, a put-upon parent could get out cheaper and healthier with just the damn toy.
So, now the local government is actually forcing parents to buy what they call unhealthy food? Ah, the wonders of nannystating...

No Frills The Hard Way

American Airlines is broke:
American Airlines' parent company is seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as it seeks to unload massive debt built up by years of accelerating jet fuel prices and labor struggles.

The nation's third largest airline also said its CEO Gerard Arpey will step down. He's being replaced by Thomas Horton, currently the company's president.

Fort Worth, Texas-based AMR Corp., along with its regional affiliate AMR Eagle Holding Corp. said Tuesday that they filed voluntary petitions to reorganize.

American says labor-contract rules force it to spend at least $600 million more than other airlines.
And now they're in the poorhouse. Which seems to happen a lot with Big Labor...

Storming The Gates

I think we've seen this movie before:
(Reuters) - Iranian protesters stormed the British Embassy compound in Tehran on Tuesday, smashing windows and burning the British flag during a rally to protest against sanctions imposed by Britain, live Iranian television showed.

Protesters threw petrol bombs and one waved a framed picture of Queen Elizabeth apparently found inside the compound, the state TV showed.

The semi-official Mehr news agency said protesters pulled down the British flag, burned it, and put up the Iranian flag.

The incident followed Britain's imposition of new sanctions on the Islamic state last week over its nuclear program.
So, would this make David Cameron Britain's Carter? We already seem to have our own...

The Incredible Shrinking Democratic Base

It just got a lot smaller:
All pretense of trying to win a majority of the white working class has been effectively jettisoned in favor of cementing a center-left coalition made up, on the one hand, of voters who have gotten ahead on the basis of educational attainment — professors, artists, designers, editors, human resources managers, lawyers, librarians, social workers, teachers and therapists — and a second, substantial constituency of lower-income voters who are disproportionately African-American and Hispanic.

It is instructive to trace the evolution of a political strategy based on securing this coalition in the writings and comments, over time, of such Democratic analysts as Stanley Greenberg and Ruy Teixeira. Both men were initially determined to win back the white working-class majority, but both currently advocate a revised Democratic alliance in which whites without college degrees are effectively replaced by well-educated socially liberal whites in alliance with the growing ranks of less affluent minority voters, especially Hispanics.

The 2012 approach treats white voters without college degrees as an unattainable cohort. The Democratic goal with these voters is to keep Republican winning margins to manageable levels, in the 12 to 15 percent range, as opposed to the 30-point margin of 2010 — a level at which even solid wins among minorities and other constituencies are not enough to produce Democratic victories.
Rush Limbaugh responds:
I am not surprised that this is their coalition. I'm just stunned that they're so publicly admitting it. I think it's a big deal. It's not a big deal in the sense that it's always been the case. Well, not always, but I mean in recent years this has been the Democrat coalition. But to come out here and have it admitted to in the New York Times is almost a matter of pride and brilliant strategy. What this means is the white working class is the Tea Party. The white working class has abandoned the Democrat Party, is what this means. This is the old Reagan Democrat coalition in part. White working class people had decided that they're voting Republican. That's who voted in the 2010 midterms.
Class warfare. Where would the Democratic Party be without it?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Barney Frank Calls It Quits

So, the good news is that he's stepping down:
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) announced Monday that he will not seek reelection in 2012, ending a three-decade career in the House.

Frank, 71, is the top Democrat on the Financial Services Committee and the architect, with former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), of the sweeping Wall Street regulatory reform law enacted in 2010.

He announced his decision at an afternoon press conference in his hometown of Newton, Mass., where he said redistricting played a major role in his retirement.

"I was planning to run again, and then congressional redistricting came," Frank said.

Frank's retirement will deprive the House of one of its most colorful characters, a liberal stalwart known for his quick and often caustic wit.
The bad news: Guess who's replacing him?
Wall Street executives are bracing for the possibility that Rep. Maxine Waters will take over as the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee after Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) retires.

Waters, an outspoken California liberal who is considered to the left of Frank on financial and housing issues, suggested in a statement Monday that she is laying the groundwork to become the senior Democrat on the panel.

“As the next most senior member of the committee, the current ranking member on the Capital Markets subcommittee and the former chair of the Housing and Community Opportunity subcommittee, I hope to use my experience to continue and expand his work in the committee,” Waters said.
Let the games begin again...

Fruits And Nuts

I blame the pro-government carrot lobby:
The head of the Moscow metro ordered election ads for the opposition party Yabloko to be removed from stations and then threatened to cancel a long-term contract with the advertising company involved, the political group claimed.

In a statement posted on its web site Friday, Yabloko — Russian for apple — said stickers reading: "Tired of vegetables? Vote for YABLOKO" that were posted Nov. 2 to 3 at the entrances to 85 stations were removed just days later.

The removal followed a letter from metro chief Ivan Besedin to the advertising company Avto Sell, saying the notices "grossly violated" conditions on political advertising, which require prior approval by metro officials and City Hall's media department.

When Yabloko resubmitted a new series of stickers to City Hall with new slogans, including "Russia demands changes, we will bring back your hope," media department head, Vladimir Chernikov, said it was not his division's responsibility, Kommersant reported.
In Putin's Russia, vegetables eat you...

Worldwide Policeman

Remember, it's for our own good:
The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president—and every future president — the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world. Even Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) raised his concerns about the NDAA detention provisions during last night’s Republican debate. The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself. The worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial provision is in S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill, which will be on the Senate floor on Monday. The bill was drafted in secret by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) and passed in a closed-door committee meeting, without even a single hearing.
I'm sure something like this would never be abused...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Debt Inferno

While we're not as bad off as the EU, Mark Steyn isn't optimistic over our long-term chances of avoiding the same mess:
When it comes to spending and the size of government, only the Democrats are officially panting orgasmically, "More, More, More; How do you like it?" while the Republicans are formally committed to "Less less less." This makes for many dramatic showdowns on the evening news. In the summer, it was the "looming" "deadline" to raise the debt ceiling. In the fall, it was the "looming" "deadline" for the alleged supercommittee to agree $1.2 trillion of cuts. The supercommittee was set up as a last-minute deal for raising the debt ceiling. Now that the supercommittee's flopped out, "automatic" mandatory cuts to defense and discretionary spending are supposed to kick in – by 2013. But no doubt as that looming deadline looms the can of worms will be effortlessly kicked down the room another looming deadline or two.

A second downgrade is now inevitable. Aw, so what? We had the first back in the summer, and the ceiling didn't fall in, did it? And everyone knows those ratings agencies are a racket, right? And say what you like about our rotten finances, but Greece's are worse. And Italy's. And, er, Zimbabwe's. Probably.

The advantage the United States enjoys is that, unlike Greece, it can print the currency in which its debt is denominated. But, even so, it still needs someone to buy it. The failure of Germany's bond auction on Wednesday suggests that the world is running out of buyers for western sovereign debt at historically low interest rates. And, were interest rates to return to their 1990-2010 average (5.7 percent), debt service alone would consume about 40 percent of federal revenues by mid-decade. That's not paying down the debt, but just staying current on the interest payments.

And yet, when it comes to spending and stimulus and entitlements and agencies and regulations and bureaucrats, "more, more, more/how do you like it?" remains the way to bet. Will a Republican president make a difference to this grim trajectory? I would doubt it. Unless the public conversation shifts significantly, neither President Romney nor President Insert-Name-Of-This-Week's-UnRomney-Here will have a mandate for the measures necessary to save the republic.
There's an old saying: Don't put of tomorrow what you can do today. Unfortunately, when it comes to impending economic meltdowns, our politicians don't seem to be the "can do" types.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bloggin' In The Years: 1980

Thomas Sowell (along with Milton Friedman) takes on Frances Fox Piven:

The Oil Age

While green jobs go bust, others keep growing:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported recently that the U.S. jobless rate remains a dreadful 9%. But look more closely at the data and you can see which industries are bucking the jobless trend. One is oil and gas production, which now employs some 440,000 workers, an 80% increase, or 200,000 more jobs, since 2003. Oil and gas jobs account for more than one in five of all net new private jobs in that period.

The ironies here are richer than the shale deposits in North Dakota's Bakken formation. While Washington has tried to force-feed renewable energy with tens of billions in special subsidies, oil and gas production has boomed thanks to private investment. And while renewable technology breakthroughs never seem to arrive, horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have revolutionized oil and gas extraction—with no Energy Department loan guarantees needed.

The oil and gas rush has led to a jobs boom. North Dakota has the nation's lowest jobless rate, at 3.5%, and the state now has some 200 rigs pumping 440,000 barrels of oil a day, four times the amount in 2006. The state reports more than 16,000 current job openings, and places like Williston have become meccas for workers seeking jobs that often pay more than $100,000 a year.
They certainly are going in droves.

Frienemy Fire

Something has gone wrong in Pakistan:
Pakistani officials said on Saturday that NATO aircraft had killed at least 25 soldiers in strikes against two military posts at the northwestern border with Afghanistan, and the country’s supreme army commander called them unprovoked acts of aggression in a new flash point between the United States and Pakistan.

The Pakistani government responded by ordering the Central Intelligence Agency to vacate the drone operations it runs from Shamsi Air Base, in western Pakistan, within 15 days. It also closed the two main NATO supply routes into Afghanistan, including the one at Torkham. NATO forces receive roughly 40 percent of their supplies through that crossing, which runs through the Khyber Pass, and Pakistan gave no estimate for how long the routes might be shut down.

In Washington, American officials were scrambling to assess what had happened amid preliminary reports that allied forces in Afghanistan engaged in a firefight along the border with insurgents and called in airstrikes. Senior Obama administration officials were also weighing the implications on a relationship that took a sharp turn for the worse after a Navy Seal commando raid killed Osama bin Laden near Islamabad in May, and that has deteriorated since then.

“Senior U.S. civilian and military officials have been in touch with their Pakistani counterparts from Islamabad, Kabul and Washington to express our condolences, our desire to work together to determine what took place and our commitment to the U.S.-Pakistan partnership, which advances our shared interests, including fighting terrorism in the region,” said Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council.
The Pakistanis have retaliated. Needless to say, it underscores the difficult relationship we have with Pakistan. But hey, at least Obama is on top of things.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Dipping Into The Till

While politicians and pundits argue over whether or not Obamacare is enforceable, Congress has discovered that it can be a source for ready cash in the meantime:
In cash-strapped Washington, President Obama’s $1 trillion health care law is presenting a tempting target for lawmakers seeking funds for other projects, as Congress last week raided the health care piggy bank for the third time in less than a year.

Congress last week axed a part of Democrats’ signature domestic achievement to find $11 billion to cover the cost of repealing a withholding tax that otherwise would have hit government contractors in 2013. Mr. Obama signed that bill into law on Monday.

The withholding bill follows two other efforts — one in December and another in April — that reworked the health care law to squeeze savings for other priorities. The December bill funded higher payments for doctors who treat Medicare patients, and the April legislation repealed a paperwork provision in the original health care law that businesses said would be onerous.

All told, Congress and the president have tapped some $50 billion earmarked to pay for benefits and programs in the health care overhaul in future years to fund more-immediate spending needs.
Forget about repeal-Obamacare might not even have any money left.

Donor Distancing

Suddenly, presidential favoritism doesn't seem to be so popular with Obama's fellow Democrats:
Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, has asked The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to review the Obama administration’s award of a $443 million sole-source contract to a company owned by a major Democratic donor.

The Los Angeles Times reported earlier this month that the Obama administration has taken unusual steps to procure an experimental smallpox vaccine from a company owned by a major Democratic donor despite concerns from some experts that such a drug was unnecessary and would not be effective.

Citing “serious questions” about the contract, the Los Angeles Times reported that McCaskill has asked the inspector general of HHS to investigate. McCaskill is the chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Contracting and Oversight.

The New York-based Siga Technologies was awarded a contract in May to deliver 1.7 million doses of an antiviral pill called ST-246. It was the only company asked to submit a proposal, and the price tag of $255 a dose is well above what government specialists said was reasonable. When a contracting specialists at HHS was resistant to pay so much, the company complained and the lead negotiator was replaced.
For the record, this is what Ms. McCaskill is looking into. One man's crony capitalism is another's campaign fund...

Out With The Old, In With The Old

Meet the new boss:
Egypt's military rulers picked a prime minister from ousted leader Hosni Mubarak's era to head the next government in a move quickly rejected by tens of thousands of protesters, while the United States ratcheted up pressure on the generals to quickly transfer power to a civilian leadership.

Kamal el-Ganzouri, 78, served as prime minister between 1996 and 1999 and was deputy prime minister and planning minister before that. He also was a provincial governor under the late President Anwar Sadat.

In a televised statement, he said the military has given him greater powers than his predecessor and he wouldn't have accepted the job if he believed military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi had any intention of staying in power.

"The powers given to me exceed any similar mandates," he said, looking uncomfortable, grasping for words and repeatedly pausing as he spoke. "I will take full authority so I'm able to serve my country."
We'll see how that whole "transition to democracy" thing works out now...

Trading For Me, Not For Thee

Now that they've been busted, politicians suddenly care about gambling going on in their establishment:
Politically vulnerable lawmakers are lining up as co-sponsors of legislation that would ban congressional insider trading.

A “60 minutes” report earlier this month indicated that members of Congress have been trading stocks based on knowledge gained from their positions, a practice that does not violate the law.

The House bill, titled the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, was first introduced in 2006 by then-Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) and Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.). The measure was reintroduced it in each Congress since then, but the bill never got out of committee and never received more than 14 co-sponsors until the “60 minutes” piece aired.

Now, both the House Financial Services and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees have scheduled hearings on the legislation next week.

Politically vulnerable House members who have cosponsored the measure this month include Reps. Allen West (R-Fla.), Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), Larry Kissell (D-N.C.), Charles Bass (R-N.H.), Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) and Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa.).

Baird is not cynical about the sudden support for his bill after it languished for so long.

"I'm just happy that it's getting attention now," Baird told The Hill. "I don't want to pass judgment on the past. Let's move forward and get it passed."
They've got to protect their phony baloney jobs!

Occupy Anti-Capitalism

You could call it the anti-Occupation:
Anti-Occupy Wall Street" groups are taking on the protesters of "Occupy Black Friday" with "BUYcott Black Friday."

Liberate Philadelphia/Liberate America, a Tea Party coalition of groups countering the "Occupy Wall Street" movement, are challenging the latest move by Occupy Wall Street protesters to occupy or boycott publicly traded retailers on Black Friday by instead encouraging consumers to shop on Black Friday to help the economy recover.

"At a time when our economy is most fragile and ratings agencies are talking about another downgrade of the U.S. credit rating, it's completely irresponsible for Occupy Wall Street to attempt to bring the U.S. economy to a halt on the busiest shopping day of the year," Liberate organizer and a spokesman for the Tea Party, John Sullivan, stated in a press release.
A movement that actually cares about working people? That's crazy talk!

Life After Springtime

They said they wanted a revolution, but what happens next?
The abiding lesson of 2011 has been just how limited U.S. leverage and influence has become across Middle East. The proposals, entreaties and threats by the Obama Administration are now routinely ignored by friend and foe alike — Saudi Arabia orchestrated a brutal crackdown on Bahrain's democracy movement when the U.S. was urging dialogue; Iraq said thanks but no thanks to U.S. troops staying on beyond December; Israel kept on building settlements, while the Palestinians ignored Obama's frantic efforts to stop them taking their case to the U.N.; Iran ignored U.S.-led pressure over its nuclear program; Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has ignored Washington's demand that he step down; Turkey has been unmoved by Obama's efforts to cajole it into reconciliation with Israel; and so on.

Washington may not like the military's handling of the transition, but it may not like the outcome of a democratic election in which the Muslim Brotherhood is likely to emerge the most powerful force in government either. On the streets, despite its efforts to engage and ingratiate itself with opposition groups, it is still widely viewed with suspicion, regarded as an enabler of the junta. Decades of support for Egypt's dictators has left little enthusiasm across its political spectrum for U.S. involvement in shaping the country's future.
The Obama adnministration wanted it to be like 1989 Germany in the Muslim world; what they may have gotten is circa 1932/33 instead...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Stocking Up

It's the end of the world as they see it:
A chain of three stores that sells survival food and gear reports a jump in sales to people who are getting prepared for the “possible collapse” of society.

“We had to order fifty cases of the meals ready to eat to keep up with the demand in the past three months,” said manager Steve Dorsey at Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters Inc. in Webster Groves. “That’s not normal. Usually we sell 20 to 30 cases in a whole year.”

Dorsey says business has been brisk since the spring uprisings in the middle east, as customers share concerns about political uprisings, the world economy and the future of the United States.

“I’ve had people in here that are very wealthy and they’ve spent thousands of dollars just on backpacks that they fill with survival gear, one for each person of their family,” Dorsey said, “And something where they can just grab a bag and get out of Dodge.”
A kneejerk reaction? Or reaction to what's happening in a country run by jerks?

"As God Is My Witness..."

Via Hulu, it's time once again for a holiday classic.

Happy Turkey Day!

Lyin' Ass Talk Shows

It's too bad it happened, because I do like Jimmy Fallon's show. At any rate, Michelle Bachmann has gotten an apology:
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — GOP Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann received an apology from an NBC executive after an off-color song was played during her appearance on Jimmy Fallon's "Late Night," her spokeswoman said late Wednesday.

The Minnesota congresswoman received a personal letter from NBC's vice president for late night programming, Doug Vaughan, a day after she appeared on the show. As Bachmann walked onstage, the show's band had played a snippet of a 1985 Fishbone song entitled "Lyin' Ass B----."

Vaughan wrote that the incident was "not only unfortunate but also unacceptable," Bachmann spokeswoman Alice Stewart told The Associated Press. She said Vaughn offered his sincerest apologies and said the band had been "severely reprimanded."

Fallon also apologized to Bachmann when they spoke earlier Wednesday, she said. He'd tweeted earlier, saying he was "so sorry about the intro mess."

"He was extremely nice and friendly and offered his apology, and she accepted it," Stewart said, adding that the comedian said he was unaware the band planned to play the song. "It's just unfortunate that someone had to do something so disrespectful."
But, unfortunately, probably how most people in Fallon's entertainment circle actually feel about her...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Help Not Wanted

A company's owner says his ungwillingness to hire is a sign of the times:
"Can't afford it," explained the employer, Bill Looman, Tuesday evening. "I've got people that I want to hire now, but I just can't afford it. And I don't foresee that I'll be able to afford it unless some things change in D.C."

Looman made it clear, talking with 11Alive's Jon Shirek, that he is not refusing to hire to make some political point; it's that he doesn't believe he can hire anyone, because of the economy. And he blames the Obama administration.

"The way the economy's running, and the way my business has been hampered by the economy, and the policies of the people in power, I felt that it was necessary to voice my opinion, and predict that I wouldn't be able to do any hiring," he said.
He's probably not the only one who feels this way...

The Chinese Bubble

Is it about to burst?
Chinese factories battled with their weakest activity in 32 months in November, a preliminary purchasing managers' survey showed, reviving worries that China may be skidding toward an economic hard landing and compounding global recession fears.

The HSBC flash manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI), the earliest indicator of China's industrial activity, slumped in November to 48, a low not seen since March 2009.

The data showed the world's growth engine is not immune to economic troubles abroad, and could further unnerve financial markets already roiled by Europe's deteriorating debt crisis.

Weighed by tight domestic monetary conditions and waning demand in its two biggest export markets, Europe and the United States, China's economy lost steam in the third quarter and all signs suggest it would slow further.
If this is the future of the "Pacific Century," it doesn't look very promising...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

You've Got Leaks

It looks like a new round of climate change emails has been unleashed:
A fresh tranche of private emails exchanged between leading climate scientists throughout the last decade was released online on Tuesday. The unauthorised publication is an apparent attempt to repeat the impact of a similar release of emails on the eve of the Copenhagen climate summit in late 2009.

The initial email dump was apparently timed to disrupt the Copenhagen climate talks. It prompted three official inquiries in the UK and two in the US into the working practices of climate scientists. Although these were critical of the scientists' handling of Freedom of Information Act requests and lack of openness they did not find fault with the climate change science they had produced.

Norfolk police have said the new set of emails is "of interest" to their investigation to find the perpetrator of the initial email release who has not yet been identified.

The emails appear to be genuine, but the University of East Anglia said the "sheer volume of material" meant it was not yet able to confirm that they were. One of the emailers, the climate scientist Prof Michael Mann, has confirmed that he believes they are his messages. The lack of any emails post-dating the 2009 release suggests that they were obtained at the same time, but held back. Their release now suggests they are intended to cause maximum impact before the upcoming climate summit in Durban which starts on Monday.
They do say that timing is everything...

The Obama Law Review

Obama's judges don't seem to be up to the job:
The American Bar Association has secretly declared a significant number of President Obama’s potential judicial nominees “not qualified,” slowing White House efforts to fill vacant judgeships — and nearly all of the prospects given poor ratings were women or members of a minority group, according to interviews.

The White House has chosen not to nominate any person the bar association deemed unqualified, so their identities and negative ratings have not been made public. But the association’s judicial vetting committee has opposed 14 of the roughly 185 potential nominees the administration asked it to evaluate, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The number of Obama prospects deemed “not qualified” already exceeds the total number opposed by the group during the eight-year administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush; the rejection rate is more than three and a half times as high as it was under either of the previous two presidencies, documents and interviews show.

To protect the confidentiality of people interviewed about the candidate, the committee often identifies only general categories of concern. According to a person familiar with the ratings, in discussions with the administration, the panel cited concerns about experience for six of the 14 candidates found “not qualified.” It also cited concerns over temperament for five, competence for three and ethics for three. (Three potential nominees were said to have been criticized as falling short in more than one of those areas.)
When it comes to political correctness over performance, Obama does seem to prefer the former...

"Give Us The Mission"

Chris Matthews is desperate for orders from his commander:

Bitter Harvest

The Arab Winter is coming:
Security forces fought Monday with several thousand protesters in Tahrir Square in the third straight day of violence over demands that the military set a date for turning power over to civilians.

Egypt's army-appointed government handed in its resignation Monday in what the protesters took as a gesture toward addressing their complaints. "God is great!" they shouted upon hearing the news.

Protesters vowed to remain in the streets despite violence that has killed 24 people before parliamentary elections that will begin Nov. 28 and continue for months.

"My feeling is that we will see a lot of bloodshed before the military council realizes they are leading the country on the wrong track," says Abdel Gameed El Mehelmy of the National Association for Change, a group of Egyptians from across the political spectrum.

Demonstrators demanded that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has been running the country since the ouster of longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak, step aside and that a civilian body govern in its place until presidential elections - scheduled for 2013 or later.
But who-or what-would take their place?

Money Train

Where'd the cash go?
The court-appointed trustee overseeing the liquidation of MF Global’s brokerage now estimates that the shortfall in the firm’s customer funds could be more than $1.2 billion, double previous estimates.

Regulators currently suspect that MF Global improperly used customer money for its own purposes in the days before filing for Chapter 11 protection, according to people briefed on the matter.

The decision to release the updated figure on Monday came after authorities concluded that much of the customer money had left the firm, these people said.

By MF Global’s estimates to regulators, roughly $600 million in customer money was missing. But as forensic accountants pored over MF Global’s books in recent weeks, they began to question those estimates.

By Sunday, the accountants from Deloitte and Ernst & Young had discovered an even larger gap in customer funds.
A lot of people would like some answers.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Farage Against the Machine

Nigel Farage versus the European Union:

Home Is Where The Stimulus Was

When it came to getting money for homeowners, some states appear to be more equal than others:
Almost half the homeowners aided by the Emergency Homeowners' Loan Program are in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Connecticut, based on preliminary figures from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Fewer than 12,000 applicants were approved before the program expired, short of the 30,000 target.

Funds were allotted for 32 states and Puerto Rico based on population and unemployment.

Not only was much money unspent, but what was spent exceeded targets in some states and was well below them in others.

•Pennsylvania, Maryland and Connecticut were initially allotted $179 million, but received $46 million more because they used up their initial funds, HUD spokesman Brian Sullivan says.

HUD allowed those states, along with Delaware and Idaho, to run their own programs because they already had similar ones. HUD ran the program for the other states and contracted with housing counseling agencies to process applicants.
Obama knew which states to thank for their support...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Who Killed The Supercommittee?

The Supercommittee is dead; it just doesn't know it yet. James Pethokoukis explains why:
It’s like the 1990s never happened and the 1970s never stopped happening for the Washington Obamacrats. The U.S. economy faces two screamingly obvious problems: historically slow growth and historically high government spending leading to massive budget deficits. In this way, American is already frighteningly like Greece and Italy.

Yet Democrats used the SuperCommittee to push a trillion-dollar tax hike and block fundamental entitlement reform. As one GOP aide told Politico, “If they were willing to go a little further on entitlements, we’d see what we can do on revenues. That was the way it would have to work. What we found was, they needed a trillion-plus in revenues, and weren’t willing to do anywhere near that on entitlements.”
Were they really expecting anything different?

Bloggin' In The Years: 2004

Are bloggers ankle-biters at the gates? James Lileks points out:
...there are thousands of news junkies out there doing research and analysis for free. In their spare time. For fun. It would kill us to listen? After all, if the Rathergate tale taught us anything, it’s that ordinary people could blow ten-foot holes in the Good Ship CBS simply by comparing their knowledge to the manifest ignorance of the news division’s producers. Because I’ll tell you this about “ordinary” people: they know stuff.
Journalism. It's not just for elites, anymore.

Pacific Thrust

Walter Russell Mead is impressed by Obama's handling of China:
Rarely has a great power been so provoked and affronted. Rarely have so many red lines been crossed. Rarely has so much face been lost, so fast. It was a surprise diplomatic attack, aimed at reversing a decade of chit chat about American decline and disinterest in Asia, aimed also at nipping the myth of “China’s inexorable rise” in the bud.

The timing turned out to be brilliant. China is in the midst of a leadership transition, when it is harder for important decisions to be taken quickly. The economy is looking shaky, with house prices falling across much of the country. The diplomatic blitzkrieg moved so fast and on so many fronts, with the strokes falling so hard and in such rapid succession, that China was unable to develop an organized and coherent response. And because Wen Jiabao’s appearance at the East Asia Summit, planned long before China had any inkling of the firestorm about to be unleashed, could not be canceled or changed, premier Wen Jiabao was trapped: he had to respond in public to all this while China was off balance and before the consultation, reflection and discussion that might have created an effective response.
Actual smart diplomacy? Maybe, but then there's this:
Regionally, China may try to detach one or more countries from the American system by some combination of economic influence and political ties. It will take advantage of the fact that the other Asian powers do not want the United States to be too dominant; they may fear China more than they fear us, but their aim is to maximize their own independence, not to strengthen US power.

Longer term, the conviction in the military and among hard liners in the civilian establishment that the US is China’s enemy and seeks to block China’s natural rise will not only become more entrenched and more powerful; it will have consequences. Very experienced and well informed foreign diplomats and observers already warn that the military is in many respects becoming independent of political authorities and some believe that like the Japanese military in the 1930s, China’s military or factions within it could begin to take steps on critical issues that the political authorities could not reverse. Islands could be occupied, flags raised and shots fired.

Certainly any Chinese arguments against massive military build ups will be difficult to win. The evident weakness of China’s position will make it impossible to resist calls for more military spending and an acceleration of the development of China’s maritime capacity.
The new Great Game is underway...

Track Record

Michelle Obama gets booed in Nascar country:

The New Poor

Poor people exist in greater numbers in Obama's America:
When the Census Bureau this month released a new measure of poverty, meant to better count disposable income, it began altering the portrait of national need. Perhaps the most startling differences between the old measure and the new involves data the government has not yet published, showing 51 million people with incomes less than 50 percent above the poverty line. That number of Americans is 76 percent higher than the official account, published in September. All told, that places 100 million people — one in three Americans — either in poverty or in the fretful zone just above it.

After a lost decade of flat wages and the worst downturn since the Great Depression, the findings can be thought of as putting numbers to the bleak national mood — quantifying the expressions of unease erupting in protests and political swings. They convey levels of economic stress sharply felt but until now hard to measure.

The Census Bureau, which published the poverty data two weeks ago, produced the analysis of those with somewhat higher income at the request of The New York Times. The size of the near-poor population took even the bureau’s number crunchers by surprise.

“These numbers are higher than we anticipated,” said Trudi J. Renwick, the bureau’s chief poverty statistician. “There are more people struggling than the official numbers show.”
Unexpectedly! It's the Hope and Change, again...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

All Wet

The European Union strikes again:
Brussels bureaucrats were ridiculed yesterday after banning drink manufacturers from claiming that water can prevent dehydration.

EU officials concluded that, following a three-year investigation, there was no evidence to prove the previously undisputed fact.

Producers of bottled water are now forbidden by law from making the claim and will face a two-year jail sentence if they defy the edict, which comes into force in the UK next month.

A meeting of 21 scientists in Parma, Italy, concluded that reduced water content in the body was a symptom of dehydration and not something that drinking water could subsequently control.

Now the EFSA verdict has been turned into an EU directive which was issued on Wednesday.

Ukip MEP Paul Nuttall said the ruling made the “bendy banana law” look “positively sane”.

He said: “I had to read this four or five times before I believed it. It is a perfect example of what Brussels does best. Spend three years, with 20 separate pieces of correspondence before summoning 21 professors to Parma where they decide with great solemnity that drinking water cannot be sold as a way to combat dehydration.

“Then they make this judgment law and make it clear that if anybody dares sell water claiming that it is effective against dehydration they could get into serious legal bother.
Being a Eurocrat means never having to explain your decisions...

Wanting An Occupation

Leave it to Washington to welcome smelly hippies:
Earlier this week, D.C. council members told reporters the protesters could stay. Councilman Phil Mendelson said the city shouldn't "overreact." Councilman David Catania told The Washington Post the occupiers have been "unobtrusive."

Despite the anti-capitalist message of the Occupy movement, protests can actually be good for business in the District. In places like Oakland, tourists don't generally travel there to make their peace. But in D.C., a protest is a destination event. People from all over the country arrive to protest for or against abortion rights, for or against immigration reform, for or against tax hikes.

And that means new customers.

"It gives an increase in sales," said Margaret Singleton, executive director of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce.
Anti-capitalism is good for business? I guess somebody forgot to tell the local business owners in New York and elsewhere...

By The Numbers

No one should really be surprised by this:
The Obama administration pressured analysts to change an environmental review to reflect fewer job losses from a proposed regulation, the contractors who worked on the review testified Friday.

The dispute revolves around proposed changes to a rule regulating coal mining near streams and other waterways. The experts contracted to analyze the impact of the rule initially found that it would cost 7,000 coal jobs.

But the contractors claim they were subsequently pressured to not only keep the findings under wraps but "revisit" the study in order to show less of an impact on jobs.

Steve Gardner, president of Kentucky consulting firm ECSI, claimed that after the project team refused to "soften" the numbers, the firms working on the study were told the contract would not be renewed. ECSI was a subcontractor on the project.

The government "'suggested' that the ... members revisit the production impacts and associated job loss numbers, with different assumptions that obviously would then lead to a lesser impact," Gardner testified before a House Natural Resources subcommittee. "The ... team unanimously refused to use a 'fabricated' baseline scenario to soften the production loss numbers."
If you can't create the Change, fake it...

They're On It

A Congresscritter can't believe there's gambling going on in his establishment:

Time For Tebow?

Should Barack Obama be more like the Broncos' quarterback? Somebody named Rocky Twyman thinks so:
“The entire sports world has been amazed at Tim Tebow’s success in winning games in the last five minutes,” writes Twyman in a release the day after Tebow’s game-winning drive in the final minute against the New York Jets on Thursday. “He does not have the long arm of most NFL quarterbacks, but is a terrific runner. The answer is simple: Tebow GIVES GOD GLORY FOR HIS SUCCESS AND GOD IN TURN BLESSES HIM. Those of us who study the Bible recall the text that says God is a jealous God.”

This is where Obama comes in.

“I and many of my prayer warriors firmly believe that the Obama administration would be able to solve the serious unemployment and economic problems facing this nation if he gave praise and glory to God publicly for the blessings that he has received as president,” Twyman said.

“We have never heard him PUBLICLY thank God for allowing him to become the first black United States president or for awarding him the Nobel Peace Prize after being in office for only 10 days. I dare President Obama to start publicly praising God at his upcoming campaign stops and State of the Union speech. Such acts will result in prosperity for a nation that is on the verge of a financial and spiritual collapse.”
I'm sorry, but not praising God every chance he gets isn't necessarily Obama's biggest problem...

Did She Fall...

...Or was she pushed?
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Natalie Wood's sister says she doesn't believe the actress fell from a boat into the sea off Southern California's Santa Catalina Island where she drowned nearly 30 years ago.

Lana Wood tells CNN's Piers Morgan in an interview Friday that she has spoken several times with the boat's captain Dennis Davern and he has told her that Natalie Wood's husband Robert Wagner was involved in her plunge into the sea on Nov. 29, 1981. But Lana Wood said she does not believe that whatever happened was deliberate.

Lana Wood made her comments hours after a Los Angeles County sheriff's detective stressed at a news conference that Wagner is not a suspect in the death of his wife, even though the investigation has been re-opened.

Actor Robert Wagner is not a suspect in the 30-year-old drowning of his actress wife, Natalie Wood, and there is nothing to indicate a crime, even though the investigation has been re-opened, a sheriff's detective said Friday.

"Her death was an accident, an accidental drowning," said Sheriff's Lt. John Corina.

Officials would not say why they were taking another look at the case, although the captain of the boat where the couple had stayed blamed Wagner for Wood's death.
The mystery remains...

Kagen's Law

Will Obama's favorite SCOTUS pick have to step aside when her fellow justices take up Obamacare?
Top Republican senators said late Friday the Justice Department has been stonewalling their request for more information on Supreme CourtJustice Elena Kagan, and said her previous work as solicitor general “may satisfy both requirements for recusal” from the upcoming health-care case.

The senators, led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, are demanding Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. comply with requests for more documents about Justice Kagan’s role in planning the administration’s defense, and said unless he provides the information it could undermine confidence in the court’s eventual ruling on the case.

“President Obama chose to nominate a member of his administration to the Supreme Court knowing it was likely that, if confirmed, she would be in a position to rule on his signature domestic policy achievement,” said the four senators, who also included Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona; Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee; and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah.
Sometimes having friends in high places doesn't always help...

Arab Winter

How's the revolution going?
Tens of thousands of Islamists jammed Tahrir Square on Friday, demanding the swift exit of Egypt’s interim military rulers in the most significant challenge to their authority since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak nine months ago.

Protesters chanted calls for the overthrow of the ruling military council or the exit of Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who heads the council. “Tantawi, we will step over you with a shoe!” some chanted.

“Down with the rule of the military,” others declared. “We are the people; we are the red line.”

All said they came to protest because of the provisions about the role of the military in its constitutional ground rules. One provision would give the military a special political role as guardian of “constitutional legitimacy,” which many consider a license to intervene at will in any matter. Other provisions would protect its budget from civilian supervision and grant the military broad authority over foreign policy as well.

“We are the people, we made the revolution and we don’t need a guardian to tell us how to write our constitution,” said Mohamed Abdel Azeem, 40, a railroad worker from a town an hour outside Cairo. “The army is the people’s institution, and the people have the right to supervise it.”

Some said they would welcome the civil liberties provisions in the declaration, if only they had come from the public instead of the military. But others suggested that they wanted the next government to have the freedom to impose more restrictive interpretations of Islamic law, or Shariah. “It will come, but gradually,” said Mohamed Hassan, 24, a teacher from Ismailia, east of Cairo.

“We can’t say tomorrow we will govern by Islamic Shariah. It will take time, because for hundreds of years we have lived by Western democracy,” he said, referring to the undemocratic Egyptian government’s relative tolerance in matters like women’s dress, alcohol sales or the news media.
Meet the new boss, worse than the old one...

Third Time's The Charm?

Change comes to Spain:
Spain's veteran conservative leader, who appears to be on course to be elected as prime minister at his third attempt on Sunday, has expressed hope that financial markets will relax their pressure on Madrid.

Mariano Rajoy, leader of the People's party (PP), spoke out as the interest on Spanish debt remained above 6% for a fifth day running, ahead of an election being carefully followed across Europe.

"We hope this [pressure] stops and that people realise there's an election here and that the party that wins has the right to a minimum margin," the PP leader told Onda Cero radio in remarks reported by the Associated Press.

The election in Spain is likely to mark a third change of prime minister in one of the four embattled southern EU countries – Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain – in the space of a few weeks. But Rajoy would be elected by the people, unlike Lucas Papademos and Mario Monti, the new technocratic prime ministers of Greece and Italy.
Funny how that can sometimes work out...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mama Nancy

Nancy Pelosi wants everyone to remember that nannystating is for the children:
Under fire for health-care legislation that conservatives consider a big-government power grab, she’s happy to promise more of the same.

Of the need for child-care legislation, she says, “I could never get a babysitter — have five kids in six years and no one wants to come to your house. . . . And everywhere I go, women say the same thing” about how hard it is to find the kind of reliable care that would make their family lives calmer and work lives more productive. When it comes to “unleashing women” in a way that would boost the economy, she says, “this is a missing link.”

Congress did pass such a bill, in 1971, but President Richard M. Nixon vetoed it because he thought it would undermine families and force them to put children in government-run centers.

“One of the great pieces of unfinished business is high-quality child care; I wonder why we just can’t do that,’’ Pelosi said. Her spokesman Drew Hammill said later that she doesn’t have a specific child-care proposal at the ready; that’s what the legislative process is for. But the Nixon-era legislation of which she spoke approvingly subsidized child care for low-income parents and was available to anyone who wanted to pay for it.
But could they? Aside from that, would it really work for the kids?

Fractured Decision

Obama must be getting increasingly desperate to please his base:
President Obama's United States Department of Agriculture has delayed shale gas drilling in Ohio for up to six months by cancelling a mineral lease auction for Wayne National Forest (WNF). The move was taken in deference to environmentalists, on the pretext of studying the effects of hydraulic fracturing.

The Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP) recently estimated that drilling in the Utica shale, which is affected by the suspension of the mineral lease auctions, would produce up 204,500 jobs by 2015. [Update: the USDA estimates that the creation of only a few dozen to 200 jobs will be delayed by this study.]

"The President’s plan is to simply say ‘no’ to new energy production," House Natural Resources Committee chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash, said to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar during a hearing pertaining to hydraulic fracturing. "It’s a plan that is sending American jobs overseas, forfeiting new revenue, and denying access to American energy that would lessen our dependence on hostile Middle Eastern oil."

Salazar denied that suggestion, noting the sales of mineral leases over the last two years, but he also affirmed environmentalist concerns. "The increasing use of hydraulic fracturing has raised a number of concerns about the potential impacts on water quality and availability, particularly with respect to the chemical composition of fracturing fluids and the methods used."
Well, it has been studied. But, given this administration's reaction to the Keystone pipeline, this isn't too surprising.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Court Foul

Ugh. Not another one:
Syracuse University placed the associate head basketball coach Bernie Fine on administrative leave Thursday night after a former ball boy for the team told ESPN that he was molested by Fine.

Bobby Davis, 39, said that Fine molested him “hundreds of times” beginning in 1983, when he was entering seventh grade, and lasting more than 10 years.

Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim, in a telephone interview late Thursday, adamantly defended Fine, his assistant coach for 35 years. He pointed to a four-month investigation by the university in 2005, which was conducted by the university’s legal counsel, that yielded no findings.

“The university investigated this, the university talked to the people he said to talk to; none of them corroborated it,” Boeheim said.

The Syracuse police are investigating Davis’s allegations.
Meanwhile, with regards to the ongoing scandal, they're dealing with the important matters.

Diplomatic Defense

It must be more of that "smart diplomacy":
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta appeared to call China and India "threats" on Thursday, in comments that the Pentagon quickly sought to correct.

Panetta, addressing workers at a submarine plant in Connecticut, was talking about emerging challenges facing the United States as it looks beyond the Iraq and Afghan wars.

After detailing the threat of cyber warfare, Panetta turned to concerns over "rising powers."

"We face the threats from rising powers, China, India, others that we have to always be aware of," Panetta said.

Pentagon spokesman Captain John Kirby moved to correct the record, saying Panetta believed that relationships with both China and India were absolutely vital.

"Any suggestion that he was implying either country was a military threat is just false," Kirby said.
You just can't trust those call centers...

Cigarette Quitting Man

Obama wants YOU to stop smoking:

Because remember: Smoking isn't cool!

Rand's Rise

Ayn Rand, campus icon?
Should Rand, her work and her philosophy of “Objectivism” be a subject of serious study—and a part of college curricula?

In recent years, the idea of Rand scholarship has certainly gained traction, as a cadre of Rand admirers—small but significant enough to have an impact—became academics. The biannual Journal of Ayn Rand Studies was founded in 1999 by New York University visiting scholar Chris Matthew Sciabarra, whose 1995 book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, is one of several academic volumes on Rand to appear in recent years.

The question of Ayn Rand in academe has been made particularly relevant by the recent spike in her popularity. After the financial collapse of 2008, the Wall Street bailout, and the start of the Obama presidency—amidst widespread talk of the failure of markets and the inevitable rise of European-style social welfarism—there has been a marked resurgence of interest in Rand, an unabashed champion of capitalism and foe of big government. Sales of Atlas Shrugged, Rand’s 1955 mega-bestseller depicting a future America in the grip of economic collapse and socialist paralysis, soared in early 2009. Many conservatives and libertarians praised the novel as a prophetic fable for our times; Rand became something of an icon for the Tea Party movement.
Well, not everyone in college wants to be an Occupier...

It's Fried, Jim

Just in time for Thanksgiving, a literal palete cleanser:

Protecting The Internet From The Protectors

Once again, the powers that be are intent on protecting themselves at the expense of the Internet:

More here. You can send a message to your representative here.

Catching The Crazy

Speaking of lunatics:
Federal authorities charged a 21-year-old Idaho man on Thursday with trying to assassinate President Obama. They said he had told friends that he believed the president was “the Antichrist” and that he “needed to kill him,” according to a complaint filed in federal court.

The man, Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez, of Idaho Falls, who is accused of firing a semiautomatic assault rifle at the residential floors of the White House last week, was also “convinced the federal government is conspiring against him” and had become “increasingly more agitated” before he disappeared from Idaho last month, the complaint said.

The court papers were filed in conjunction with a brief appearance by Mr. Ortega-Hernandez in a federal courthouse in Pittsburgh on Thursday afternoon. Mr. Ortega-Hernandez was arrested Wednesday at a hotel near the town of Indiana, Pa., and officials intend to bring him back to the District of Columbia to face the assassination charge, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Now the government really will be after him...

School's Out For Occupation

This is what bullying looks like:
In the middle of thousands of protestors yelling and chanting — some kicking and screaming – CBS 2’s Emily Smith found little school kids trying to get to class. Nervous parents led them through the barriers on Wall Street. The NYPD helped funnel the children, anything to ease their fears while some protestors chanted “follow those kids!”

“These guys are terrorists, yelling at little kids,” one father said.
“For them it’s horrible. They’re afraid of all the crowds. We’re not even able to get through. They’re just, he’s … very afraid now,” a mother added.

One protester followed a father and his little daughter all the way down the block. As the school day ended just after 3 p.m. children trickled out of Leman Manhattan Prep on Broad Street. Smith heard a 4-year-old boy telling his mom he was scared. He told Smith it looked like a parade.
A parade of stupidity, that is...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

When Blue Dogs Bite

Republicans win one...or do they?
The conservative-Democrat Blue Dog Coalition officially endorsed the House Republican balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, breaking with Democratic Party leaders and the White House.

The support from the 25-member bloc keeps GOP hopes alive that the measure, scheduled for a final vote Friday, could gain the two-thirds support necessary to pass.

“We were advancing a balanced-budget amendment when balanced-budget amendments weren’t cool,” a co-chairman of the coalition, Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), told reporters on a conference call.

Another Blue Dog leader, Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah), said he expected “a significant majority” of members to support the amendment, and sent a blunt warning to Blue Dogs who might oppose it.

“If any Blue Dog does not vote for it, I’d have to question how much they’re a Blue Dog,” Matheson said.
But, it's not the same bill. So, did the Republicans just get hoodwinked?

This Land Is Their Land

Seriously, is this the kind of fight Obama wants to pick in an election year?
Gun owners who have historically been able to use public lands for target practice would be barred from potentially millions of acres under new rules drafted by the Interior Department, the first major move by the Obama administration to impose limits on firearms.

Officials say the administration is concerned about the potential clash between gun owners and encroaching urban populations who like to use same land for hiking and dog walking.

"It's not so much a safety issue. It's a social conflict issue," said Frank Jenks, a natural resource specialist with Interior's Bureau of Land Management, which oversees 245 million acres. He adds that urbanites "freak out" when they hear shooting on public lands.
Those gun owners are just so different, after all...

Help Wanted

Who says government can't create jobs?
NASA is now accepting applications for its next class of astronauts, the space agency announced Tuesday, an effort to bolster its reserves of brave spacemen following a National Research Council report earlier this year that warned the corps was getting too small.

"For 50 years, American astronauts have led the exploration of our solar system," NASA administrator Charles Bolden said. "Today we are getting a glimpse of why that will remain true for the next half-century. Make no mistake about it, human space flight is alive and well at NASA."

The incoming class of candidates will begin training in 2013 and will ultimately pioneer a new generation of commercial launch vehicles, as well as a "heavy-lift" vehicle that NASA intends for deep space destinations. Next stop, Mars?

If you dream of flying through space, fly first across the world wide web to the government-run website, where you can fill out an application and possibly soar to the stars.
It's just too bad we don't actually have anything for them to actually fly right now...

Where In The World

He's a little confused about his geography:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Fumigation Will Be Next

Occupy Wall Street looks to be no more:
Hundreds of police officers in riot gear raided Zuccotti Park early Tuesday, evicting dozens of Occupy Wall Street protesters from what has become the epicenter of the worldwide movement protesting corporate greed.

About 70 people were arrested, including some who chained themselves together, while officers cleared the park so that sanitation crews could clean it.

Protesters at the two-month-old encampment were told they come back after the cleaning, but under new tougher rules, including no tents, sleeping bags or tarps, which would effectively put an end to the encampment if enforced.

Concerns about health and safety issues at Occupy Wall Street camps around the country have intensified, and protesters have been ordered to take down their shelters, adhere to curfews and relocate so that parks can be cleaned.

At about 1 a.m. Tuesday, New York City police handed out notices from Brookfield Office Properties, owner of Zuccotti Park, and the city saying that the park had to be cleared because it had become unsanitary and hazardous. Protesters were told they could return in several hours, but without sleeping bags, tarps or tents.

Hundreds of former Zuccotti Park residents and their supporters were marching along Lower Manhattan before dawn Tuesday and threatened to block Broadway during the morning rush hour.

Others gathered near Foley Square, just blocks from Zuccotti Park, where they can't get arrested.
So it looks like the party's finally over-at least until the next trendy movement comes along...

Pointing Fingers

Why the fault lies not in the people, Mr. President, but in yourself:
It’s certainly true that many things have gotten worse since he took office. Unemployment is up, earnings are down. The poverty rate has climbed, the dollar has fallen. Gas prices are way up but housing prices are way down. And the economic recovery, which started a mere five months after Obama was sworn in, has been the most anemic since the Great Depression.

But despite Obama’s endless efforts to shift blame, the fault for these trends lies not with the American people or the actions of his predecessors. It lies with Obama’s own wrongheaded efforts that have vastly expanded the size and intrusiveness of government, weighed the country down with massive debt and threatened ever higher taxes.

Americans don’t need lectures from their president about how soft, selfish or shiftless they’ve become. We need only to relieve the country of his policies.
In other words, it's not the supposed laziness.

Bloggin' In The Years: 2008

Granted, a lot of people have high hopes if Obama wins the election. But this is a bit much:

And then, there are these kids:

So, is it Change...or a Cult?

The Love Slave

It's more left-wing tolerance in action:
A cast member of the gay reality TV show “A-List Dallas” tells The Daily Caller that he was punched to the ground and bloodied Friday night by someone vandalizing his car because he’s a gay conservative associated with commentator Ann Coulter.

Taylor Garrett, a Republican consultant in Texas who stars in the reality series on the channel LOGO TV, said in an interview that he was attacked outside a birthday party in Dallas after finding a vandal scratching “F–k Coulter” on the side of his car.

Garrett said the incident reflects a troubling mindset.

“The Democrats want me to live on their plantation as their slave, because I’m a gay person,” he said. “And I refuse to do that.”
Many conservative minorities agree...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Farm Boys

It's good to be the one percent:
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified several individuals receiving farm payments “whose professions had nothing to do with farming or agricultur[e],” says the report. These individuals include real-estate developer Maurice Wilder, a “part-owner of a professional sports franchise [who] received total of more than $200,000 in farm program payments in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006.”

The report also says millionaires Jon Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen and Ted Turner have collected farm subsidies.

“These individuals include Scottie Pippen and Ted Turner, respectively. Millionaires also receive state tax breaks on farm land. For example, Jon Bon Jovi paid property taxes of only $100 last year on his extensive real estate holdings in New Jersey that he uses to raise bees. At the same time, Bruce Springsteen received farm subsidies because he leases his property to an organic farmer,” the report explains.

“From tax write-offs for gambling losses, vacation homes, and luxury yachts to subsidies for their ranches and estates, the government is subsidizing the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Multi-millionaires are even receiving government checks for not working,” said Sen. Coburn in a statement Monday.

“We should never demonize those who are successful,” Coburn added. “Nor should we pamper them with unnecessary welfare to create an appearance everyone is benefiting from federal programs.”
So where are the Occupiers? On the other hand, considering their views, maybe these are the people they aspire to become...

The Leaderless Era

Is Occupy Wall Street representative of the leaderless generation?
Why this insistence on finding the supposed leaders of Occupy Wall Street? The reason goes beyond a desire to understand the movement's goals, I think, into something more existential. For many traditional political observers like Brisbane and his colleagues, the notion that a political movement might arise without charismatic leaders is inconceivable. Every previous movement, after all, has had its figureheads. Think of Gandhi, King, Mandela. Or, at the less exalted level of recent times, think of Ralph Nader, Al Sharpton, or Michael Moore on the progressive left, or Sarah Palin, Mark Meckler and Jenny Beth Martin on the Tea Party right. The same question was raised, if you recall, around the Arab Spring uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, which were often described as "leaderless." A movement can't be leaderless, right? Who would we feature on the front-page? Who would we put on the Sunday talk shows? Who would we negotiate with? Who is the saviour that will rise from these streets?
Considering that it's been imploding as of late, I'd say that would be no one...

Boomer Bust

Walter russell Meade on the legacy of the Baby Boomers:
At the level of public policy and moral leadership, as a generation we have largely failed. The Boomer Progressive Establishment in particular has been a huge disappointment to itself and to the country. The political class slumbered as the entitlement and pension crisis grew to ominous dimensions. Boomer financial leadership was selfish and shortsighted, by and large. Boomer CEOs accelerated the trend toward unlimited greed among corporate elites, and Boomer members of corporate boards sit by and let it happen. Boomer academics created a profoundly dysfunctional system that systemically shovels resources upward from students and adjuncts to overpaid administrators and professors who by and large have not, to say the least, done an outstanding job of transmitting the cultural heritage of the past to future generations. Boomer Hollywood execs created an amoral morass of sludge — and maybe I’m missing something, but nobody spends a lot of time talking about the towering cultural accomplishments of the world historical art geniuses of the Boomer years.
Maybe this is a bit oversimplified (Steve Jobs and Steven Spielberg aren't geniuses?) but it does appear that the Boomers (the liberal ones, at least) don't have a lot to leave for future generations to admire.

Riddle In The Sands

Just what is going on in the Chinese desert, anyway? Some have their theories:
My money’s on it being a target practice range for the People’s Liberation Army.

Why? One of the other formations gives the game away: looking tantalisingly like Stonehenge from a great height, zooming in reveals three aircraft sitting at it’s heart. Clearly, it is some kind of military target for airstrike or gunnery practice. Another 4 x 4 piece grid some 200 metes across has some pieces clearly blown to smithereens, again supporting the target practice theory, and a dummy runway in garish bluish-white is probably not for style-conscious aliens but air-to-ground strafing practice.
I suppose the bigger question, then, is who they are preparing to fight. Or it could be something else.

Judgment Day

The Supremes get Obamacare:
The Supreme Court said Monday it will hear arguments next March over President Barack Obama's health care overhaul — a case that could shake the political landscape as voters are deciding if Obama deserves another term.

This decision to hear arguments in the spring sets up an election-year showdown over the White House's main domestic policy achievement. And it allows plenty of time for a decision in late June, just over four months before Election Day.

The justices announced they will hear an extraordinary five-and-a-half hours of arguments from lawyers on the constitutionality of a provision at the heart of the law and three other related questions about the act. The central provision in question is the requirement that individuals buy health insurance starting in 2014 or pay a penalty.
It will be very interesting to see how this plays out in an election year. It's notable that they will allow consideration for arguments that other courts didn't.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Public Service Scam

If you want a reason as to why Scott Walker, John Kasich, and other Republican governors have been so opposed to public service unions, try this:
Robert and Patricia Haynes live in Michigan with their two adult children, who have cerebral palsy. The state government provides the family with insurance through Medicaid, but also treats them as caregivers. For the SEIU, this makes them public employees and thus members of the union, which receives $30 out of the family's monthly Medicaid subsidy. The Michigan Quality Community Care Council (MQC3) deducts union dues on behalf of SEIU.

Michigan Department of Community Health Director Olga Dazzo explained the process in to her members of her staff. "MQC3 basically runs the program for SEIU and passes the union dues from the state to the union," she wrote in an email obtained by the Mackinac Center. Initiated in 2006 under then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm, D-Mich., the plan reportedly provides the SEIU with $6 million annually in union dues deducted from those Medicaid subsidies.

“We're not even home health care workers. We're just parents taking care of our kids,” Robert Haynes, a retired Detroit police officer, told the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “Our daughter is 34 and our son is 30. They have cerebral palsy. They are basically like 6-month-olds in adult bodies. They need to be fed and they wear diapers. We could sure use that $30 a month that's being sent to the union.”

According to the Mackinac Center, the theoretical public employer for whom the Haynes' work is the Michigan Quality Community Care Council (MQC3), an entity within the DCH that continues to operate, even though the state legislature has defunded it. Even the MQC3 calls the families hiring in-home health care providers "employers of providers," but these health care providers are also treated as employers of MQC3 when it comes time each month to take dues out of their Medicaid payment and send it to the SEIU.

Mr. and Mrs. Haynes, of course, are both the parents (the employer) and the health care providers for their children, but they still lose money to the SEIU every month, despite having no interest in joining the union. They have been arbitrarily classified as state employees so that the union can take money from them.
Just because you're not in a union, doesn't mean they can't still steal from you...

This Is What Anarchy Looks Like

The "nonviolent protesters" appear to be gearing up for trouble:
Portland police believe that some protesters inside the Occupy Portland encampments are building shields and makeshift weapons -- including nails hammered into wood -- in preparation for when authorities attempt to clear the parks this weekend, police said Friday.

Occupy Portland organizers have repeatedly said the movement is nonviolent and have appealed to demonstrators to resist peacefully when the camps close at midnight on Saturday. They planned public marches and a potluck dinner before the deadline and hoped the public would take part.

But police said as many as 150 anarchists may come to Portland to take part in a possible clash with officers.

"If there are anarchists, if there are weapons, if there is an intention to engage in violence and confrontation, that obviously raises our concerns," Portland police Lt. Robert King said. "But I know we'll be able work through that and manage that, because we want to protect everyone there, especially the peaceful protester."
It looks like they might have already started...

Over There, Over Here?

Why Europe's downward spiral matters to us:
The first reason is that, with American consumers still in the doldrums of deleveraging, the United States badly needs buoyant exports if its economy is to grow at anything other than a miserably low rate. And despite all the hype about trade with the Chinese, U.S. exports to the European Union are nearly three times larger than to China. . . . But there’s more. Europe’s problem is not just that governments are overborrowed. There are an unknown number of European banks that are effectively insolvent if their holdings of government bonds are “marked to market”—in other words, valued at their current rock-bottom market prices. In our interconnected financial world, it would be very odd indeed if no U.S. institutions were affected by this.
And things don't look like they'll get better soon...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Laws For Thee, Not For Me

Just remember, it was going to be the most Ethical Congress Evah:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is the subject of a report on the stock investments of members of Congress that is to air Sunday on CBS' "60 Minutes."

The San Francisco Democrat and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, were questioned separately at their weekly news conferences Nov. 3 by reporter Steve Kroft. Neither had granted Kroft's previous requests for interviews.

Kroft asked both leaders about stock transactions they made while Congress was considering legislation that could affect the financial and insurance industries. Pelosi and Boehner vigorously denied any connection.

Laws against insider trading - making stock bets based on information the public doesn't have - do not apply to Congress. Studies have shown that stock portfolios on Capitol Hill outperform the market. Legislation that would ban insider trading by members and staffers has languished.
They don't want to bite the hand that feeds them...

Clean Energy Cleans Up

How going green became a profit motive:
When the Obama administration and Congress expanded the clean-energy incentives in 2009, a gold-rush mentality took over.

As NRG’s chief executive, David W. Crane, put it to Wall Street analysts early this year, the government’s largess was a once-in-a-generation opportunity, and “we intend to do as much of this business as we can get our hands on.” NRG, along with partners, ultimately secured $5.2 billion in federal loan guarantees plus hundreds of millions in other subsidies for four large solar projects.

“I have never seen anything that I have had to do in my 20 years in the power industry that involved less risk than these projects,” he said in a recent interview. “It is just filling the desert with panels.”

From 2007 to 2010, federal subsidies jumped to $14.7 billion from $5.1 billion, according to a recent study.

Most of the surge came from the economic stimulus bill, which was passed in 2009 and financed an Energy Department loan guarantee program and a separate Treasury Department grant program that were promoted as important in creating green jobs.

States like California sweetened the pot by offering their own tax breaks and by approving long-term power-purchase contracts that, while promoting clean energy, will also require ratepayers to pay billions of dollars more for electricity for as long as two decades. The federal loan guarantee program expired on Sept. 30. The Treasury grant program is scheduled to expire at the end of December, although the energy industry is lobbying Congress to extend it. But other subsidies will remain.

The windfall for the industry over the last three years raises questions of whether the Obama administration and state governments went too far in their support of solar and wind power projects, some of which would have been built anyway, according to the companies involved.
Getting paid for something of questionable value is good work if you can get it...

Backroom Drug Deal

Team Obama knows how to take care of its friends:
Over the last year, the Obama administration has aggressively pushed a $433-million plan to buy an experimental smallpox drug, despite uncertainty over whether it is needed or will work.

Senior officials have taken unusual steps to secure the contract for New York-based Siga Technologies Inc., whose controlling shareholder is billionaire Ronald O. Perelman, one of the world's richest men and a longtime Democratic Party donor.

When Siga complained that contracting specialists at the Department of Health and Human Services were resisting the company's financial demands, senior officials replaced the government's lead negotiator for the deal, interviews and documents show.

When Siga was in danger of losing its grip on the contract a year ago, the officials blocked other firms from competing.

Siga was awarded the final contract in May through a "sole-source" procurement in which it was the only company asked to submit a proposal. The contract calls for Siga to deliver 1.7 million doses of the drug for the nation's biodefense stockpile. The price of approximately $255 per dose is well above what the government's specialists had earlier said was reasonable, according to internal documents and interviews.
Crony capitalism, anyone?

Atomic Ocean

What could go wrong? Constructed by the state nuclear power firm Rosatom, the 144 by 30 metre (472 by 98 foot) ship holds two reactors with ...