Friday, February 27, 2009

Senator KKK Byrd: Obama in power grab

The senator from the KKK has caught on. Former Klan leader Robert Byrd says Obama has gone way too far. John Bresnahan - Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), the longest-serving Democratic senator, is criticizing President Obama’s appointment of White House “czars” to oversee federal policy, saying these executive positions amount to a power grab by the executive branch. In a letter to Obama on Wednesday, Byrd complained about Obama’s decision to create White House offices on health reform, urban affairs policy, and energy and climate change. Byrd said such positions “can threaten the Constitutional system of checks and balances.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Obama Less Popular Than Bush After First Month in Office As Obama-loving media gush and swoon while they report the new President's popularity, an inconvenient truth emerged Tuesday that seems destined to get ignored: after one month in office, George W. Bush was more popular than the current White House occupant. Impossible, you say? Well, before Obama stepped in front of Congress this evening, Gallup published the following:
For the first time since Gallup began tracking Barack Obama's presidential job approval rating on Jan. 21, fewer than 60% of Americans approve of the job he is doing as president. In Feb. 21-23 polling, 59% of Americans give Obama a positive review, while 25% say they disapprove, and 16% have no opinion.
Almost exactly eight years ago, then newly-elected President Bush's numbers were 62 percent approving his performance, 21 percent disapproving, and 17 percent having no opinion (scroll about 3/4 down this Polling Report link).

Ex-Gov. Locke is not Mr. Clean

President Obama needs a Commerce Secretary nominee who is so clean that he will sail through the vetting process. So Gary Locke... Gary Locke? I sometimes ride my bicycle past the Buddhist temple in Redmond where he raised illegal campaign contributions. Oh, is alleged to have. Michelle Malkin has a better memory than I because she was here on the Seattle Times' editorial board and dug in Locke's dirt and published columns on his shady practices. Michelle Malkin :
Now, former Democrat Gov. Gary Locke — a lawyer for international firm Davis, Wright, and Tremaine who specializes in China — is rumored to be the next nominee for the post. The MSM is pulling for him. WaPo writes: “Locke is regarded as a safe choice by senior officials in the Obama administration given his long history in public life, his strait-laced reputation and his bipartisan governing credentials.” Wishful thinking? Willful cluelessness? Probably a bit of both. I covered Gary Locke when I worked at the Seattle Times. I dealt with his campaign and gubernatorial staffs. “Strait-laced” is not the adjective I’d use for my dealings with him and his people. In response to my columns pressing Locke on his close ties to campaign finance crook John Huang, the governor’s office first stonewalled. His standard Democrat smokescreen? Play the race card and play the victim.
She quotes her columns investigating his shady practices at length. For example in the Seattle Times in 1999:
When I asked what the governor had to say about Huang’s guilty plea, Locke’s spokesman, Keith Love, responded tersely: “He has no comment and no interest.” This is a most peculiar stonewall of silence. Though Huang and his wife gave token personal donations to Locke totaling a mere $1,000, Huang is no casual acquaintance of Locke or his out-of-state fund-raising staff. As reported here previously, Huang helped organize May 1996 galas involving Locke at the Mayflower Hotel and Sheraton Carlton in Washington, D.C.; three fund-raisers at restaurants in Los Angeles, and an extravaganza at the Universal City, Calif., Hilton in October 1996 that raised upwards of $30,000.
And the Seattle Times in 1998
Gov. Gary Locke’s 1996 campaign treasure chest is like a box of chocolates left out in the sun: You never know what kind of sticky mess you’re gonna get. News broke over the weekend that the Internal Revenue Service wants to examine Locke’s donor list. That’s in addition to a fresh congressional inquiry and three separate probes by the state Public Disclosure Commission (two prompted by this column). Locke’s loyalists imply that scrutiny of his contributors is racist. The claim is as desperate as it is deceitful...
I sure wish she was still here. Her "replacement" was only a shadow. Cross-posted at Sound Politics.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Watch the Washington budget

Where is the money spent? is a new site that has various breakouts of spending. What taxes are we paying? This is much more difficult. Evergreen Freedom Foundation is working on a visibility site. They will put in on line on April 15 - Put taxes and spending togeter -- Christine Gregoire* has put us in a mess. When times were good she spent more than we had. But now she says it's not her fault. Fool. She is asking us where to cut spending. And she give us the opportunity to ask for tax increases. Christine's How Would You Balance the Budget? The Legislature's session is 105 days long. See 105 Days. * We stopped calling female governors "Governor" when Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska was nominated last August.

Who is fiscally responsible?

I was asked about the Libertarian Party claim that Republicans are as bad on "fiscal responsibility" as Democrats. All - 95% - of us rank-and-file Republicans fought the increasing spending at every point, both under President Clinton and President Bush. It was a major disappointment with President Bush, that he cared little about responsible spending; more on him later. And we couldn't believe that Republicans in Congress like Jerry Lewis and Ted Stevens thought we could keep control of Congress by buying off every congressperson's pet project. Part of this is the disease that infects every elected politician: "Now that I have the power I can help project A and city B and put more money on C and hire my friends' sons and daughters so they will hire mine." It starts with good intentions in most cases, but it tempts every elected official and infects most of them. When making this comparison should you compare who was president or who controlled Congress? All spending must originate in the House of Representatives, then goes to the Senate, then to the president. So maybe Congress should get the credit/blame. Should President Clinton get credit for what the Republicans forced on him in 1995? Clinton so overreached that after 2 years the Republicans took Congress. In 1994 the Republicans nationalized the election by running on the Contract with America. The Contract said that if you elect Republicans we will bring the following proposals for a vote within 100 days. The list included 8 items about running Congress that they enacted on the first day and the 10 "within 100 days" items. The first was "1. THE FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY ACT: A balanced budget/tax limitation amendment and a legislative line-item veto to restore fiscal responsibility to an out- of-control Congress, requiring them to live under the same budget constraints as families and businesses. (Bill Text) (Description)" Clinton, our Senator Patty Murray and all the Dems fought it. They knew it was popular, so they didn't attack it head-on. But they said "you won't like the cuts necessary" and "it can't be done." As they were losing it was fun to watch. Rush put together sound clips of Clinton "a balanced budget in 8 years" "5 years is too short" "in 7 years"... And the budget Clinton proposed at the same time - in January, 1995 - projected $200 billion deficits for its entire horizon - 10 years, I think. So Newt and the Republicans passed the act for the balanced budget and line-item veto. The line-item veto didn't hold up constitutionally (our governor has this). But the Republican Congress passed a balanced budget - I think it was two years later - and for the duration of Clinton's term. When Bush took over a recession had just started which is the right time to do some deficit spending. But he didn't ask for discipline when the economy got cooking again in 2003 or 04. Does Clinton get credit for what he fought against? Or do the Republicans who made it happen? In the measure the LIbertarians use here Clinton gets credit. The LIbertarian Party never elects anyone to an office higher than dog catcher, except one. The only Libertarian in state or national elected office got there by running as a Republican - Congressman Ron Paul. Here in Washington in 2000 they were proud that they "made the difference" in the Senate race. The Libertarian candidate got more than the gap. But libertarians agree with Republicans on much more than with the Dems and they way they vote Gorton would have stayed in. But they took out Senator Slade Gorton, the Republican, and gave us Sen. Maria Cantwell. So they "scored an own goal," they scored for their opponent. That's typical in the history of the Libertarian Party - the history they are proud of. I welcome libertarians to our political process and arena of ideas. Their research done by Cato Institute and the ideas published in Reason Magazine are worthy of the time of any conservative, including me.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Why Obama's Stimulus Plan Is Disappointing

Robert Samuelson is smart, thorough and nonpartisan. If he says Obama's stimulus fails by Obama's own measures everyone should listen. Newsweek Voices - Robert J. Samuelson | Obama's package is too focused on political goals and projects. The effect is to weaken the program's basic purpose--to jolt the economy. Judged by his own standards, President Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus program, which he signed into law last week, is deeply disappointing. For weeks, Obama has described the economy in grim terms. "This is not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill recession," he said at his Feb. 9 press conference. It's "the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression." Given these dire warnings, you'd expect the stimulus package to focus exclusively on reviving the economy. It doesn't, and for that, Obama bears much of the blame. The case for a huge stimulus, which I support, is that it's insurance against the possibility of a devastating downward economic spiral. Spending and confidence are tumbling worldwide. In the fourth quarter of 2008, the U.S. economy contracted at a nearly 4 percent annual rate. In Japan, the economy fell at a nearly 13 percent rate; in Europe, the rate was about 6 percent. These are gruesome declines. If the economic outlook is as bleak as Obama says (and it may be), there's no reason to dilute the upfront power of the stimulus. But that's what Obama's done. His political choices compromise the program's economic effectiveness. Let's start with the numbers. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that about $200 billion will be spent in 2011 or later—well beyond when it will do the most good. For starters, there's $8 billion for high-speed rail. "Everyone is saying this is [for] high-speed rail between Los Angeles and Las Vegas—I don't know," says Ray Scheppach, executive director of the National Governors Association. Whatever project or projects are chosen, the decision process, design and construction will occupy many years. It's not quick stimulus. Then there's $20.8 billion for improved health-information technology—more electronic records and the like. Probably most people regard this as desirable, but here, too, changes occur slowly. The CBO expects only 3 percent of the money ($595 million) to be spent in fiscal 2009 and 2010. The peak year of projected spending is 2014 at $14.2 billion. Or consider the $5.8 billion in outlays for water-treatment plants. The CBO reckons that only 27 percent will be spent in 2009 and 2010. Big projects take time. The reason they're included in the stimulus is that Obama and Democratic congressional leaders decided to use the legislation as a way of advancing many political priorities instead of just spurring the economy. At his press conference, Obama argued (inaccurately) that the two goals don't conflict. Consider, he lectured, the retrofitting of federal buildings to make them more energy-efficient. "We're creating jobs immediately," he said. Yes—but not many...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Rick Santelli - Chicago Tea Party

We are being punished for living within our means. Those who did not are rewarded. Rick Santelli says let's be heard. Video - CNBC's Rick Santelli and the traders on the floor of the CBOE express outrage over the notion they may have to pay their neighbor's mortgage, particularly if they bought far more house than they could actually afford, with Jason Roney, Sharmac Capital.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Peanut allergy cured in trial

Schools can get out of their strangling fear for the very few children allergic to peanuts. Get them the cure! Health News, Health & Wellbeing - The Independent: Allergy to peanuts may be curable following positive results from the world's first successful desensitisation programme for peanut allergy, scientists say today. Children who risked suffering anaphylactic shock, a potentially fatal reaction, if they encountered a single peanut have been protected so that they are able to eat without fear. The finding will bring hope to thousands of families whose lives have been blighted by the allergy, one of the fastest growing in Britain. It is estimated one in 50 young people are affected by peanut allergy and cases have more than doubled in four years. The desensitisation programme at Addenbrooke's Hospital involved 22 children aged seven to 17, who were given tiny 5mg starting doses of peanut flour. Gradually over six months the daily dose was built up to 800mgs a day, equivalent to five peanuts. Twelve children have reached the highest dose level and can tolerate twice as much, equivalent to 10 peanuts, without suffering side effects. For the first time their families know they can lead a normal life and be safe.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

India to launch cow urine as soft drink

India wants to rid itself of foreign influences. Times (UK) Online : Does your Pepsi lack pep? Is your Coke not the real thing? India's Hindu nationalist movement apparently has the answer: a new soft drink made from cow urine. The bovine brew is in the final stages of development by the Cow Protection Department of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), India's biggest and oldest Hindu nationalist group, according to the man who makes it. Om Prakash, the head of the department, said the drink – called "gau jal", or "cow water" – in Sanskrit was undergoing laboratory tests and would be launched "very soon, maybe by the end of this year". "Don't worry, it won't smell like urine and will be tasty too," he told The Times from his headquarters in Hardwar, one of four holy cities on the River Ganges. "Its USP will be that it's going to be very healthy. It won't be like carbonated drinks and would be devoid of any toxins."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mugabe's birthday present: Starvation for the people of Zimbabwe

Give the tyrant what he wants. Close the farms that are producing food. Starve the people of Zimbabwe in "honor" of Mugabe.
A SECRET plan has been hatched by President Robert Mugabe's most loyal supporters to evict the last of Zimbabwe's white farmers from their land before his 85th birthday. He is already planning to celebrate the occasion with vast quantities of champagne and caviar, even though half his country faces starvation. But just in case the Bollinger does not provide enough fizz, his acolytes are preparing an extra surprise: a fresh onslaught against Zimbabwe's last white farmers. Police, prosecutors and magistrates loyal to Mr Mugabe are understood to be co-ordinating mass summonses against the few hundred remaining white owners in an effort to bring them to court and serve eviction notices. The deadline for the action is next Saturday, the day before Mr Mugabe's birthday and a week before his planned official birthday bash, which has already provoked criticism for its extravagance. ... While no official reason has been given for the eviction campaign, insiders say it is timed to hand Mr Mugabe a potent propaganda gift for his birthday celebrations, which normally feature grandstanding anti-colonial speeches. Last Tuesday, in contravention of justice laws, groups of law enforcement officials held a secret eviction strategy meeting in Mutare, 260 kilometres east of the capital, Harare.
The vacated farms go mostly to Mugabe's buddies for weekend retreats and are otherwise idle. Some go to veterans of his war against his own people. But how many of them know how to manage a productive farm?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Reopening welfare without strings was snuck past us

We put an end to welfare - at least the largest program of it - in 1996. President Clinton signed it - after vetoing it twice. Kausfiles : The Welfare Issue is Alive, Alive!: Now that the bill has safely passed, even the liberal MSM may feel the obligation to mention them in public. Maybe even in actual print. Reporters have to cover something. More on pork? Welfare seems fresher. 5) In any case, the rump Congressional GOP and talk radio conservatives can force their hand. Why should opponents of the welfare-expanding provisions stop harping on them? Has Obama been asked about his welfare un-reform at a press conference yet? I don't think so. He will have more press conferences. It won't be an easy question to answer. (Reporters could also ask his HHS secretary ... Oh wait. Never mind.) Welfare is a liberal sore spot that, if Republicans play it right, could become a bleeding open wound for the administration. Voters probably thought they'd settled the dole-vs.-work issue back in 1996. Obama will be fulfilling the crude GOP stereotype of his party if he even waffles on reopening it.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A scary ad

They know where I live. Yes. That is our neighborhood. The arrow isn't pointing to our house, but still. I know, MapQuest, Google Maps and all have been able to produce the map for any address for 10 years now and an aerial photo for almost as long. Oh... I had better check what Google Street Level is showing.! But to see it in a photo on the outside of a mailing to me. Makes me think. Why did Blogger rotate it? Investigating.

The Boron Moron confesses

The "boron moron," Kenneth Change, confesses. Conan O'Brien of all people picked it up. He did a first-class job with large color graphics. TierneyLab Blog -
So far in 2009, 100 percent of the corrections generated by my articles have showed up on late-night television. (Okay, I’m one-for-one, but I can aim for Letterman or Colbert next.) In last week’s Science Times, I wrote about a new superhard form of boron. The researcher, Artem Oganov of Stony Brook University, told me that boron, #5 on the periodic table, is a confounding sort of element where even the slightest impurities can change its structure. Of the 16 different forms that have been reported, only three were likely to be true crystal structures of pure boron, he said. Unfortunately, he wasn’t counting his own discovery, the superhard boron, and I goofed it up.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Politicizing the Census caused Senator Gregg to quit

Republican Senator Judd Gregg was appointed Secretary of Commerce by President Obama. But the leftists complained that he would be in charge of the 2010 census. I thought the census was just getting the count correct. But there certainly is more to it, because Obama yielded and put it directly under the White House and out of Commerce's control. What would you do if you were told you weren't trusted to do your job - before you even started. So Judd did the honorable thing and quit. (I think this doesn't require a subscription. I have one and it's worth it.)
The Census Bureau, which is part of Commerce, is one of the most rigorously nonpartisan operations in government and for years has fought off pressure from left-wing minority factions to adjust its count upward on their behalf. Successions of bureau directors have resisted this pressure. The Obama White House, however, indicated that it might be willing to involve itself more directly in the Census Bureau, with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs claiming "historical precedent" for a closer association. This put Mr. Gregg in an impossible situation. It is bad enough that one of the Senate's famous straight arrows had his integrity questioned. Equally impossible, the White House's expressed willingness to bring the Census director under the informal sway of, say, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel effectively undermined the authority Mr. Gregg would have needed to run his department.
Rick Moran at PajamasMedia says Judd didn't like what he saw on the inside:
For commerce secretary nominee Judd Gregg, it was the overwhelming nature of the stimulus bill that apparently opened his eyes to the fundamental incompatibility inherent in a relationship between a moderately conservative Republican and a president who is proposing the largest increase in federal spending ever. And lurking in the background was the issue of the White House power grab of the census — a looming battle royale that will see Republicans fighting tooth and nail to prevent the Obama White House from trying to “game” the census and increase representation for Democrats on the Hill.
And there is no sign Senator Judd cheated on his income taxes like Treasury Secretary Geithner. Cross posted at Sound Politics.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday

Honoring great President Abraham Lincoln. One of President Lincoln's finest speeches was given at Cooper Institute, now Cooper Union, a university, in 1859. He took months to research the question of the intent of the writers and signers of the US Constitution with regards to slavery. In this portion at the beginning he goes through historical evidence that most of the 39 signers thought the US could prevent slavery in the Northwest territories. He is taking on Steven Douglas and the Democrats. Abraham Lincoln's Cooper Union Address: "What was the understanding those fathers had of the question mentioned?" What is the frame of government under which we live? The answer must be: "The Constitution of the United States." That Constitution consists of the original, framed in 1787, (and under which the present government first went into operation,) and twelve subsequently framed amendments, the first ten of which were framed in 1789. Who were our fathers that framed the Constitution? I suppose the "thirty-nine" who signed the original instrument may be fairly called our fathers who framed that part of the present Government. It is almost exactly true to say they framed it, and it is altogether true to say they fairly represented the opinion and sentiment of the whole nation at that time. Their names, being familiar to nearly all, and accessible to quite all, need not now be repeated. I take these "thirty-nine," for the present, as being "our fathers who framed the Government under which we live." What is the question which, according to the text, those fathers understood "just as well, and even better than we do now?" It is this: Does the proper division of local from federal authority, or anything in the Constitution, forbid our Federal Government to control as to slavery in our Federal Territories? Upon this, Senator Douglas holds the affirmative, and Republicans the negative. This affirmation and denial form an issue; and this issue - this question - is precisely what the text declares our fathers understood "better than we." Let us now inquire whether the "thirty-nine," or any of them, ever acted upon this question; and if they did, how they acted upon it - how they expressed that better understanding?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Limit CEO pay to ARod's level

Companies are receiving huge amounts of money from the US government - from us - for "bailout." In the interest of responsible use of taxpayers' money the politicians are starting the process of limited the pay of the CEOs. But for borderline socialists like Barney Frank it's not enough to limit the pay of those in companies receiving bailout money. They want to limit the pay of ALL CEOs. And, next, all employees of evil capitalists companies. The evil ones are the one that don't shower money on Barney Frank. Let's Limit the CEOs to the pay of the highest-paid baseball player. Why should the leader of a company of 120,000 people be paid less than Alex Rodriguez? He requires $20 million per year to live on (and buy steroids) and gets 4 months off every year.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Don't panic and cause damage, Senator Patty

A letter I sent via email this morning: Senator Murray, Slow down and do it right. Don't be scared into hasty action by the prophets of doom. [I meant The Prophet of Doom himself, but toned it down.] Distinguished economist Robert Barro of Harvard says Nancy Pelosi's and the Senate's bills are monumentally bad. They won't help, but they will hurt our economy.
This is probably the worst bill that has been put forward since the 1930s. I don't know what to say. I mean it's wasting a tremendous amount of money. It has some simplistic theory that I don't think will work, so I don't think the expenditure stuff is going to have the intended effect. I don't think it will expand the economy. And the tax cutting isn't really geared toward incentives. It's not really geared to lowering tax rates; it's more along the lines of throwing money at people. On both sides I think it's garbage.
Conor Clarke at The Atlantic - The interview has a lot more gems - I have to keep it short for the honorable senator. Read it. Tax cuts take effect quickly. And permanent tax cuts allow long-term planning and hiring by businesses that are afraid to hire now. They change the incentives - as Prof. Barro says is needed. Truly, Ron Hebron

Iran sets the preconditions for talks with Obama

Obama said he would talk to Iran without preconditions. Then he tried to explain it away with another term for the necessary preliminary talks. But it's two-way. I can't say his spoke foolishly, but... what can I say? American Thinker Blog: Iran to Obama: You are not groveling enough:
So far, President Obama's outreach plan to talk with the Iranians has hit all sorts of snags. The Iranians themselves have been most uncooperative since they keep changing the "conditions" on when they'll deign to talk to us. One thing is certain; If Obama is going to have anyone sit down with the Iranians, we are going to have to grovel before the mighty Persians and apologize for all the mean things we've supposedly done to them over the years:

And it is Iran's "moderate" who is nailing us. Read it.

How the Czechs are fighting the marshmallow EU tyrant

Our pet peeve - the liberal we like to talk to and listen to. He hates our faith and fights us on it. But read Hitchens and see why we listen to him when he talks sense, which is most of the time PETER HITCHENS: via Mail Online: Compare the pasts of the two men, especially in the fateful year of 1968, the beginning of the modern era. In that year, Klaus was experiencing the towering hope of the Prague Spring - a brief dash for freedom - and the miserable disappointment and fear that followed its merciless repression by genuine, iron-bound killer tyrants. Cohn-Bendit was a rather mature student, leading the playtime revolutionaries of Paris in calls for easier access to the girls' dormitories. These 'revolutionaries' never risked anything serious in their lives or had a clue about what it meant to live in a secret police state, for all their cries of 'repression'. Cohn-Bendit, once called 'Danny the Red', has remained in the forefront of radical chic. He is now as Green as he used to be Red, an intolerant zealot of the man-made climate-change lobby, a supporter of liberal wars and a keen Europhile. Flanked by an Irish Euro-MP (embarrassed by his countrymen's rejection of Lisbon), Cohn-Bendit spoke to Klaus as if the President of the Czech Republic were a disobedient subordinate. He also rudely thrust an EU flag across the President's desk. But this bumptious pipsqueak got more than he bargained for. Having first lectured the President on how he was wrong about global warming (Klaus is a courageous sceptic about this, too) he started telling him what his presidential duties were, that he would have to sign the Lisbon Treaty if the Czech Parliament approved it (which is incorrect). Then, amazingly, he told the Head of State: 'I don't care about your opinions on it [the Treaty].' Czechs are sensitive about being ordered around by politicians from other countries. They remember how Hitler screamed so wildly at poor President Emil Hacha in 1939 that the aged professor collapsed and had to be revived by injections. They remember Josef Stalin telling them they couldn't have American Marshall Aid, and Leonid Brezhnev telling them to strangle the Prague Spring. Klaus struck back hard. 'This is incredible,' he retorted. He directly compared Cohn-Bendit's dictatorial lecture to the past behaviour of the Kremlin. 'I did not think anything like this was possible. I have not experienced anything like this for the past 19 years [since the Soviets left]. I thought it was a matter of the past, that we live in a democracy.' Then he added these inflammatory words, which the EU would much rather nobody had uttered: 'But it is post-democracy, really, that rules the EU.' And post-democracy is not democracy - Czechs are especially good at spotting the difference between the real thing and counterfeits, having been told under communism that they lived in a 'democracy' when they most certainly didn't.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Chocolate bars to be made smaller in Government anti-obesity drive

Update: This is about the UK - Great Britain, not the US. I removed a reference to US politics. - RH This is not Scrappleface. You aren't strong enough so they will treat you like a child and not allow what you want to buy to be sold. Daily Mail (UK) Online:
The Government is set to order manufacturers to shrink the size of chocolate bars and fizzy drinks. Health Secretary Alan Johnson will tell firms such as Mars, Coca-Cola, Britvic and Nestlé that smaller versions of their products should be available in all garages and corner shops to help stop people piling on weight. Speaking to the Business4Life coalition of companies, Mr Johnson will ask them to create healthy new snacks that will appeal to children and cut down portion sizes. He will also say small packs of dried fruit, nuts and fresh fruit should be widely available at places where people buy on impulse and warn that sugar levels must be cut in all products.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Senate Republicans offer a real stimulus package

Despite what our local pundits say the Republicans in Congress are offering reasonable alternatives to Nancy Pelosi's Pork-zilla. U.S. Senate Republicans push alternative stimulus plans "The American people are beginning to figure out what this package is, that it's not a stimulus package -- it's a spending package," said Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican who lost to Obama in the 2008 presidential election. Senators worked throughout the day to find a bipartisan deal. McCain and four other Republicans unveiled their ideas priced at $445 billion, half the cost of Democratic version which started the day at $885 billion. It centred on cutting in half a 6.2 percent payroll tax on employees, cutting the corporate tax rate to 25 percent from 35 percent and lowering the bottom two income tax brackets to 10 percent and 5 percent, all for one year. McCain and Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Thune of South Dakota, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Mel Martinez of Florida also proposed $11 billion to help prevent home foreclosures and $65 billion in state grants to build and repair bridges and roads. Via Time.

UN backtracks on claim that Israel targeted school

It took a while - a month. Israel didn't hit the UN school. Haretz The United Nations has reversed its stance on one of the most contentious and bloody incidents of the recent Israel Defense Forces operation in Gaza, saying that an IDF mortar strike that killed 43 people on January 6 did not hit one of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency schools after all. It seems that the UN has been under pressure to put the record straight after doubts arose that the school had actually been targeted. Maxwell Gaylord, the UN humanitarian coordinator in Jerusalem, said Monday that the IDF mortar shells fell in the street near the compound, and not on the compound itself. Gaylord said that the UN "would like to clarify that the shelling and all of the fatalities took place outside and not inside the school."

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Avoiding a lost decade like Japan

We can see what to avoid as we try to stimulate our economy. Well, we want to, but Nancy Pelosi just wants to pay off her big Democratic supporters with pork and more pork. But in trying to stimulate it is too easy to get it wrong. Japan did in a big way. It was so bad that the 1990s is called Japan's "lost decade." Gerald Seib - Avoiding Japan's Stimulus Miscues -
Here's the critique in a nutshell: Japan in the early 1990s, like the U.S. today, saw a real-estate bubble burst, spawning a banking and credit crisis that drove the whole economy down, hard. The Japanese then tried stimulating the economy with giant doses of government spending, which didn't pep things up -- but did bring on deficits that required tax increases later, dragging out Japan's problems for years. ... Rep. Ryan argues that the Japanese, arriving at the crossroads the U.S. sees today, "went into heavy deficit spending on infrastructure and they continued to languish....They cranked up their debt through Keynesian spending, and it didn't work." His fear is that the U.S., by spending heavily on stimulus now, will, like the Japanese, make economically chilling tax increases inevitable down the line to balance the books. "I worry we could be inviting a lost decade in America with wrong-headed fiscal policy," he says. A new study by Republicans on the House Budget Committee, where Rep. Ryan is the top GOP member, argues that Japan's policy mistakes led to "a protracted period of stagnation."
Japan's big spending "stimulus" was too slow to stimulate and having to pay for it lengthened the torpor. The slow speed war partly the kind of projects they tried. Big construction has a long lead time, so its fiscal stimulus comes 2 to 5 years later. The parallel is not perfect. Japan raised taxes. That's not likely to happen. Although the Democrats always have a reason to raise taxes. And Japan had a tight money policy; we are doing the opposite. And we have to make sure we avoid the "bow wave" effect that we see in Washington every biennium. The Legislature has some extra money, so they start a new program in the second of the two years and it doesn't cost that much for the first year. But it is permanent and inevitably grows. So the "cheap" new program soon becomes a drag. Japan was successful on this. We need to be careful. So we have to stop the pork projects and get the speedy ones. Tax cuts are fast! Broad tax cuts will have a huge effect. Let's be careful and fast!

A (cheap) pen for us lefties

Being left handed I have fought smearing of my writing since age 5, whether pencil or pen. Indeed, I seldom use pencil because it always smears. But a pen with quick-drying, permanent ink fills the bill. First, it dries quickly enough, because the main problem is smearing what you wrote seconds ago. Second, it stays dry. My third requirement is price. I have enough frights with misplacing my cell phone and iPod. I don't want to be frantically searching for my $40 pen. So they must cost less than $3 apiece. I have been on this quest for over 20 years. During the 1980s one of the big Japanese manufacturers had a line of pigment pens that filled the bill. But they disappeared without a replacement. At least not a cheap enough one. Uni-Ball has come through. I discovered the Uni-Ball Jetstream about a year ago. Here is the Jetstream Stick Roller ball pen, which sells for $2.39 online and a similar price at RiteAid stores here. It also comes in a click version.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Taxes for you, but not for Obama's Health Czar Tom Daschle

Former Senator Tom Daschle forgot to pay income tax on $225,000 in services received in the form of a personal car and driver. Obama's chosen health-care czar is above paying taxes. Taxes for you, but not for him. In the Congress and Senate he always voted for tax increases and against tax cuts. And he was hard on tax cheats. CNS News.
“Make no mistake, tax cheaters cheat us all, and the IRS should enforce our laws to the letter,” Daschle said in 1998, according to the Congressional Record.
But for him it's different. Driving Tom Daschle -
As a legal tax matter, this isn't even a close call. Mr. Daschle says he used the car service about 80% for personal use, and 20% for business. But his spokeswoman says it only dawned on the Senator last June that this might be taxable income. Mr. Daschle's excuse? According to a Journal report Friday, "he told committee staff he had grown used to having a car and driver as majority leader and did not think to report the perk on his taxes, according to staff members." How's that for a Leona Helmsley moment: Doesn't everyone have a car and chauffeur, dear?
New Treasury Secetary Geithner didn't forget to pay. Every year he applied to his employer the IMF for pay to offset the Social Security taxes he had to pay. Each year he signed that he knew it was up to him to pay. He didn't forget. He cheated. And when audited he paid for the years audited - 2003 and 04, I think - but he didn't go back to pay 2001, etc. Because, again, he hadn't forgotten. He was cheating.

The Mac - 25 years of leadership

The Mac was introduced at the Super Bowl in 1984. I was a fan from the first day, since I am a very graphic person. I had one on my desk at work in 1986 and bought an SE-30 for home use in 1989 and have owned one or more ever since. Seattle Times Newspaper:
The Apple Macintosh, born at the hands of renegade engineers in the early 1980s, changed the relationship between human and keyboard. The Mac, which turned 25 last week, has consistently been an industry pioneer of new technology, including the graphical user interface, speech, Wi-Fi and video. "Apple redefined the computer beyond crunching ones and zeros. It made a technology lifestyle a reality," said Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg. More than two decades after Mac engineers toiled away in buildings flying pirate flags under the direction of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, the Macintosh now sits at the center of Apple's digital universe. The company's ability to match hardware with software, such as its popular iLife photo and video programs, is unparalleled in the industry.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

We show tolerance to 'gays' and get tyranny in return

The "gays" have made even very liberal Peter Hitchens turn against them. They started by asking for tolerance, then demanding it. Now they insist on acceptance. Full acceptance, no negative words. PETER HITCHENS - Daily Mail - UK If I never again had to read or write a word about homosexuals, I would be very happy. I really don't want to know what other people do in their bedrooms. But these days they really, really want us all to know. And, more important, they insist that we approve. No longer are we allowed to keep our thoughts to ourselves, while being polite and kind. We are forced to say that we think homosexuality is a good thing, that homosexual couples are equal in all ways to heterosexual married couples. Most emphatically, we are compelled to agree that homosexual couples are just as good at bringing up children as the children's own grandparents. Better, in fact. Many people who believe nothing of the kind now know that their careers in politics, the media, the Armed Services, the police or schools will be ruined if they ever let their true opinions show. I am sure that many of them regularly lie about their views, to avoid such trouble. We cringe to the new Thought Police, like the subjects of some insane, sex-obsessed Stalinist state, compelled to wave our little rainbow flags as the 'Gay Pride' parade passes by. And that's another thing. We can't even call homosexuals 'homosexuals' any more. This neutral word is not considered enthusiastic enough. We have to say 'gay'. Which is exactly why I don't, apart from in inverted commas. You think I exaggerate the power and fury of these forces? The totalitarian rage on this subject is quite astonishing. I have had several brushes with it, and been called rude names by its militants. Well, I can live with that. It's my job. But what about a powerless pair of grandparents in Edinburgh, their grandchildren's lives shipwrecked by the multiple horrors of our 'liberated' society? First, their daughter ends up as a drug abuser, like so many others in a country which permits the endless promotion of drug use by rock stars and refuses to punish the possession of narcotics, the only measure that would work. Then, when they seek to look after her children, they are first insultingly informed that they are too old, and that their minor illnesses disqualify them from the task. Heaven help any employer who dared 'discriminate' in this fashion. But the new Thought Police are oddly exempt from their own rules. Next, the grandparents are informed that the children are to be put into the care of a homosexual couple. And - this is the crucial moment - they are warned in the most terrifying terms that if they object to this arrangement they will never see their grandchildren again. Leave aside the rest of it. It is this demand, that they mouth approval of the new regime like the defendants at some show trial, which is the bit that ought to make your flesh creep. This is the action of a tyranny in operation, especially the use of children to blackmail their parents and grandparents. People who can do this can do anything. Isn't it amazing to reflect that this campaign began in the name of tolerance?