Tuesday, March 31, 2009

This is not the all-cuts budget

The Senate budget proposal released Monday will require a 2/3 super-majority vote to pass because it contains tax and fee increases. Thanks to Tim Eyman's team and Initiative 960 they can't increase taxes with a 50% majority. Senator Lisa Brown sued us to overturn it, but lost. The Democrat majority happily increased programs during the good times. While saying good words about caution for possible tighter times ahead, they created new programs that "have to be funded." The 2005-07 biennium increased spending by 17.8%. They have been in idle session since early January; they still have the opportunity to set clear priorities and make structural changes. But it requires hard choices and confronting their big donors. As Stefan points out in his post, if they cynically cut in areas the voters support the most it puts pressure on the public to accept tax increases (that make their job easier). Spending increases - People who have read the thing say there are increases in state employee health care benefits (or reducing what they pay) and illegal aliens would continue to receive health care. They will surely find more. Are you going to call your honorable representatives and demand they increase taxes? Paul Guppy at Washington Policy Center says...
“The Senate Democrats’ budget underfunds some core public services and relies on temporary one-time funding, while failing to address how the state got into such a deep financial trouble in the first place,” said Paul Guppy, Vice President for Research at Washington Policy Center. Failure to set clear priorities created a structural spending deficit by locking in past activities, regardless of importance, while leaving more urgent needs unmet. This results from the Legislature’s habit of “reverse budgeting,” in which routine government activities are funded first while high-priority needs are left in fiscal crisis.
Senator Joe Zarelli speaking for the Republicans points out:
“The state expects to take in as much revenue in the next two years as it will in this biennium, so it really does come down to priorities. Senate Republicans have shown how the Legislature could produce a budget that is balanced without higher taxes, protects services for the most vulnerable and does not repeat the mistake of relying on gimmicks or one-time money. Unfortunately the Senate Democrat proposal falls short on all of those fronts. It does almost nothing to produce the kind of farsighted change Olympia and our taxpayers badly need. “Instead of making policy adjustments that will generate substantial ongoing savings, this proposal is about punting and doing temporary backfill that would put off the problem for another two years. It keeps spending artificially high by playing about 3 billion dollars in federal money plus some ill-advised fund transfers that include a raid on the capital budget. “It’s not whether you take the federal money, it’s how you spend it. These are dollars we can only spend once – but this budget would use them to maintain programs and services. That is exactly the approach which started our state down the road to a deficit...
The Olympian - Olympia, Washington on the tax increases:
... The GOP has argued from Day One this legislative session they believe a balanced budget can be achieved without new taxes. Budget highlights made public by Senate Ways and Means Committee chair Margarita Prentice show that 30 pending bills are needed to implement the budget that she, Tom, Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown and two colleagues rolled out this morning. Here is a list of seven that call for tax increases and 10 that reduce taxes. The tax increase list includes closures of tax exemptions such as Senate Bill 6062, which proposes to bring in $54 million by ending a break on the real-estate excise tax for banks that dispose of foreclosed properties. One other would bring in $36 million by ending a sales- and use-tax break for purchasers of hybrid-fuel vehicles. Ten proposals would give new or larger tax breaks. The most expensive is $10 million for SB 5899, which proposes to let businesses with fewer than 10 employees to reduce business taxes by $2,000 to $4,000 for each employee they add to the payroll.
Cross posted at my blog Economic Freedom.

Monday, March 30, 2009

I actually thought Geithner was competent

I actually thought Secretary of Commerce Geithner was competent... but I don't any more. This amateur knows of two major flaws. One of his biggest problems has been that he accepts the situation that his top aides are not yet in place - under secretaries and assistant secretaries. Uh... Tim, it's been over two months now. He should tell President O "time out. Let me get my team in place before you and I take on the whole world alone," because he can't do his job without them. Our allies the British's top bankers are complaining that they can't communicate with the US because there is no one to answer the phone. Of course there are secretaries to take messages and low-level staffers, but no one who can take responsibility to get things moving. Why would a smart man take on the challenge of his life with one hand tied behind his back? He just isn't that smart. Foolish Words Second, he doesn't know to keep his mouth shut when someone is shooting at him/us. He scored an "own goal" when he foolishly agreed with China's suggestion to add another reserve currency. After his remarks the US Dollar dropped against other currencies - the same day. Reserve Currency - The US's only payment for keeping the world safe is cooperation of the nations of the world (most of the importatnt ones) in using the US Dollar as the world's reserve currency - the standard for trade. Oil is priced in dollars, etc. Thomas PM Barnett explains this in his books such as Blueprint for Action: a world worth creating on page 128 and in every interview I have heard. (Hugh Hewitt is in the middle of doing several one-hour interviews on Barnett's latest book Great Powers: America and the world after Bush.) Here is what China said: FT.com / Asia-Pacific - China calls for new reserve currency:
China’s central bank on Monday proposed replacing the US dollar as the international reserve currency with a new global system controlled by the International Monetary Fund. In an essay posted on the People’s Bank of China’s website, Zhou Xiaochuan, the central bank’s governor, said the goal would be to create a reserve currency “that is disconnected from individual nations and is able to remain stable in the long run, thus removing the inherent deficiencies caused by using credit-based national currencies”. Analysts said the proposal was an indication of Beijing’s fears that actions being taken to save the domestic US economy would have a negative impact on China. “This is a clear sign that China, as the largest holder of US dollar financial assets, is concerned about the potential inflationary risk of the US Federal Reserve printing money,” said Qu Hongbin, chief China economist for HSBC. Although Mr Zhou did not mention the US dollar, the essay gave a pointed critique of the current dollar-dominated monetary system.
Geithner could have said "No comment at this time" or "I disagree" or, best, assure China that it's not necessary.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spokane residents become smugglers for clean dishes

Citizens join the smugglers, just so they can get their dishes clean. Criminals! Watch your rear-view mirror for flashing lights. Now this only affects the Spokane area. In July, 2010, the entire state. The Washington Lake Protection Association is proud that they got HB 2322 (pdf) passed in 2006 to prevent all of us from using effective dish detergents that contain phosphates. Are there effective low-phosphate detergents? Not their problem (pdf).
WALPA is asking thatFont size Spokane County residents keep trying different brands until they find one that works and more importantly to share that information with friends and neighbors.
Has anyone found one yet? WALPA hasn't despite their best efforts. See also KOMO TV. Associated Press: Spokane residents smuggle suds over green brands:
SPOKANE, Wash. – The quest for squeaky-clean dishes has turned some law-abiding people in Spokane into dishwater-detergent smugglers. They are bringing Cascade or Electrasol in from out of state because the eco-friendly varieties required under Washington state law don't work as well. Spokane County became the launch pad last July for the nation's strictest ban on dishwasher detergent made with phosphates, a measure aimed at reducing water pollution. The ban will be expanded statewide in July 2010, the same time similar laws take effect in several other states. But it's not easy to get sparkling dishes when you go green. Many people were shocked to find that products like Seventh Generation, Ecover and Trader Joe's left their dishes encrusted with food, smeared with grease and too gross to use without rewashing them by hand. The culprit was hard water, which is mineral-rich and resistant to soap. As a result, there has been a quiet rush of Spokane-area shoppers heading east on Interstate 90 into Idaho in search of old-school suds. Real estate agent Patti Marcotte of Spokane stocks up on detergent at a Costco in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and doesn't care who knows it. "Yes, I am a smuggler," she said. "I'm taking my chances because dirty dishes I cannot live with." (In truth, the ban applies to the sale of phosphate detergent — not its use or possession — so Marcotte is not in any legal trouble.) Marcotte said she tried every green brand in her dishwasher and found none would remove grease and pieces of food. Everybody she knows buys dishwasher detergent in Idaho, she said. Supporters of the ban acknowledge it is not very popular. "I'm not hearing a lot of positive feedback," conceded Shannon Brattebo of the Washington Lake Protection Association, a prime mover of the ban. "I think people are driving to Idaho."
One Spokane resident has found a way to get clean dishes: use a lot more hot water. Using more water and heating it? Doesn't that offset the benefits of getting rid of phosphates? "Oh, we didn't intend that," say the innocents who caused the damage.
For his part, Beck has taken to washing his dishes on his machine's pots-and-pans cycle, which takes longer and uses five gallons more water. Beck wonders if that isn't as tough on the environment as phosphates. "How much is this really costing us?" Beck said. "Aren't we transferring the environmental consequences to something else?"
I posted this at Sound Politics, which has over 4,000 unique visitors per day! and there are dozens of comments there.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The 'Global Warming Three' are on thick ice

They are freezing and finding MORE ice, not less. This parades as science, but is politics. They even admit that they only give their data to the climate modeler who gets the results they want. If they were doing science they would want everyone to analyze their data. Telegraph(UK): The 'Global Warming Three' are on thin ice (sic - the ice is thicker) The ony problem with a project to prove that Arctic ice is disappearing is the fact that it is actually getting thicker, says Christopher Booker. What a wonderful parable of our time has been the expedition to the North Pole led by the explorer Pen Hadow. With two companions, he is measuring the thickness of the ice to show how fast it is “declining”. His expedition is one of a series of events designed to “raise awareness of the dangers of climate change” before December’s conference in Copenhagen, where the warmists hope to get a new treaty imposing much more drastic cuts on CO2 emissions. Hadow’s Catlin Arctic Project has top-level backing from the likes of the BBC, the WWF (it could “make a lasting difference to policy-relevant science”) and Prince Charles (“for the sake of our children and grandchildren, I pray that we will heed the results of the Catlin Arctic Survey and I can only commend this remarkably important project”). With perfect timing, the setting out from Britain of the “Global Warming Three” last month was hampered by “an unusually heavy snowfall”. When they were airlifted to the start of their trek by a twin-engine Otter (one hopes a whole forest has been planted to offset its “carbon footprint”), they were startled to find how cold it was. The BBC dutifully reported how, in temperatures of minus 40 degrees, they were “battered by wind, bitten by frost and bruised by falls on the ice”. Thanks to the ice constantly shifting, it was “disheartening”, reported Hadow, to find that “when you’ve slogged for a day”, you can wake up next morning to find you have “drifted back to where you started’’. Last week, down to their last scraps of food, they were only saved in the nick of time by the faithful Otter. They were disconcerted to see one of those polar bears, threatened with extinction by global warming, wandering around, doubtless eyeing them for its dinner. But at least one of the intrepid trio was able to send a birthday message to his mum, via the BBC, and they were able to talk by telephone to “some of the world’s most influential climate change leaders”, including Development Secretary Douglas Alexander in front of 300 people at “a conference on world poverty”. The idea is that the expedition should take regular radar fixes on the ice thickness, to be fed into a computer model in California run by Professor Wieslaw Maslowski, whose team, according to the BBC, “is well known for producing results that show much faster ice-loss than other modelling teams”. The professor predicts that summer ice could be completely gone as early as next year. It took the Watts Up With That? science blog to point out that there is little point in measuring ice thickness unless you do it several years running, and that, anyway, Arctic ice is being constantly monitored by US Army buoys. The latest reading given by a typical sensor shows that since last March the ice has thickened by “at least half a metre”.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

10 Surprising and positive facts about American health care

Beware of organizations with agendas when they display statistics about the US health-care system. They bend things around to find a few negative aspects in the corners that they put in the spotlight, but in displaying the dark corners they hide what's in plain sight. We get excellent health care. We pay more, but we get more. We get the new drugs and new methods. Scott W. Atlas, M.D., a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a professor at the Stanford University Medical Center, covers it. National Center for Policy Analysis Fact No. 1: Americans have better survival rates than Europeans for common cancers. Breast cancer mortality is 52 percent higher in Germany than in the United States, and 88 percent higher in the United Kingdom. Prostate cancer mortality is 604 percent higher in the U.K. and 457 percent higher in Norway. The mortality rate for colorectal cancer among British men and women is about 40 percent higher. Fact No. 2: Americans have lower cancer mortality rates than Canadians. Breast cancer mortality is 9 percent higher, prostate cancer is 184 percent higher and colon cancer mortality among men is about 10 percent higher than in the United States. Fact No. 3: Americans have better access to treatment for chronic diseases than patients in other developed countries. Some 56 percent of Americans who could benefit are taking statins, which reduce cholesterol and protect against heart disease. By comparison, of those patients who could benefit from these drugs, only 36 percent of the Dutch, 29 percent of the Swiss, 26 percent of Germans, 23 percent of Britons and 17 percent of Italians receive them. Fact No. 4: Americans have better access to preventive cancer screening than Canadians. Take the proportion of the appropriate-age population groups who have received recommended tests for breast, cervical, prostate and colon cancer:
  • Nine of 10 middle-aged American women (89 percent) have had a mammogram, compared to less than three-fourths of Canadians (72 percent).
  • Nearly all American women (96 percent) have had a pap smear, compared to less than 90 percent of Canadians.
  • More than half of American men (54 percent) have had a PSA test, compared to less than 1 in 6 Canadians (16 percent).
  • Nearly one-third of Americans (30 percent) have had a colonoscopy, compared with less than 1 in 20 Canadians (5 percent).
Fact No. 5: Lower income Americans are in better health than comparable Canadians. Twice as many American seniors with below-median incomes self-report "excellent" health compared to Canadian seniors (11.7 percent versus 5.8 percent). Conversely, white Canadian young adults with below-median incomes are 20 percent more likely than lower income Americans to describe their health as "fair or poor." Fact No. 6: Americans spend less time waiting for care than patients in Canada and the U.K. Canadian and British patients wait about twice as long - sometimes more than a year - to see a specialist, to have elective surgery like hip replacements or to get radiation treatment for cancer.[6] All told, 827,429 people are waiting for some type of procedure in Canada.[7] In England, nearly 1.8 million people are waiting for a hospital admission or outpatient treatment.[8] Fact No. 7: People in countries with more government control of health care are highly dissatisfied and believe reform is needed. More than 70 percent of German, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and British adults say their health system needs either "fundamental change" or "complete rebuilding."[9] Fact No. 8: Americans are more satisfied with the care they receive than Canadians. When asked about their own health care instead of the "health care system," more than half of Americans (51.3 percent) are very satisfied with their health care services, compared to only 41.5 percent of Canadians; a lower proportion of Americans are dissatisfied (6.8 percent) than Canadians (8.5 percent).[10] Fact No. 9: Americans have much better access to important new technologies like medical imaging than patients in Canada or the U.K. Maligned as a waste by economists and policymakers naïve to actual medical practice, an overwhelming majority of leading American physicians identified computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as the most important medical innovations for improving patient care during the previous decade. The United States has 34 CT scanners per million Americans, compared to 12 in Canada and eight in Britain. The United States has nearly 27 MRI machines per million compared to about 6 per million in Canada and Britain. Fact No. 10: Americans are responsible for the vast majority of all health care innovations. The top five U.S. hospitals conduct more clinical trials than all the hospitals in any other single developed country.[14] Since the mid-1970s, the Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology has gone to American residents more often than recipients from all other countries combined.[15] In only five of the past 34 years did a scientist living in America not win or share in the prize. Most important recent medical innovations were developed in the United States. Conclusion: Despite serious challenges, such as escalating costs and the uninsured, the U.S. health care system compares favorably to those in other developed countries. [The original has an table about fact number 10.] Via Prof. M.J. Perry at U Michigan Flint CARPE DIEM: 10 Surprising Facts About American Health Care.

Bush's 'folly' is ending in victory

If President Barack were smart he would figure out how to get some credit for Bush's success in Iraq and get out of Afghanistan tomorrow. But he is doubling the bet in poor Afghanistan and it's doesn't look like a winner, though I hope it will be. Smart? Jeff Jacoby The Boston Globe: MARKETS without bombs. Hummers without guns. Ice cream after dark. Busy streets without fear." So began Terry McCarthy's report from Iraq for ABC's World News Sunday on March 15, one of a series the network aired last week as the war in Iraq reached its sixth anniversary. A nationwide poll of Iraqis reveals that "60 percent expect things to get better next year - almost three times as many as a year and a half ago," McCarthy continued. "Iraqis are slowly discovering they have a future. We flew south to Basra, where 94 percent say their lives are going well. Oil is plentiful here. So is money." In another report two nights later, ABC's correspondent characterized the Iraqi capital as "a city reborn: speed, light, style - this is Baghdad today. Where car bombs have given way to car racing. Where a once-looted museum has been restored and reopened. And where young women who were forced to cover their heads can again wear the clothes that they like."

Connected again

My "ecto" blogging software and Blogger haven't been connecting for about 3 days now. (The problem might involved my host pari.com also.) I have been lazy and not gone around this disconnect to poset directly on Blogger. Here we go.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Administration Seeks Increase in Oversight of Executive Pay and much More

How about if we cause the best and brightest to avoid working in the financial industry - all firms, not just the corporate welfare recipients. That should make things worse, not better. Duh NYTimes.com:
The Obama administration will call for increased oversight of executive pay at all banks, Wall Street firms and possibly other companies as part of a sweeping plan to overhaul financial regulation, government officials said. The outlines of the plan are expected to be unveiled this week in preparation for President Obama’s first foreign summit meeting in early April. Officials said the proposal would seek a broad new role for the Federal Reserve to oversee large companies, including major hedge funds, whose problems could pose risks to the entire financial system.
Pay is the headline grabber for a sweeping power grab.
It will propose that many kinds of derivatives and other exotic financial instruments that contributed to the crisis be traded on exchanges or through clearinghouses so they are more transparent and can be more tightly regulated. And to protect consumers, it will call for federal standards for mortgage lenders beyond what the Federal Reserve adopted last year, as well as more aggressive enforcement of the mortgage rules. The administration has been considering increased oversight of executive pay for some time, but the issue was heightened in recent days as public fury over bonuses spilled into the regulatory effort. The officials said that the administration was still debating the details of its plan, including how broadly it should be applied and how far it could go beyond simple reporting requirements. Depending on the outcome of the discussions, the administration could seek to put the changes into effect through regulations rather than through legislation. One proposal could impose greater requirements on company boards to tie executive compensation more closely to corporate performance and to take other steps to ensure that compensation was aligned with the financial interest of the company. The new rules will cover all financial institutions, including those not now covered by any pay rules because they are not receiving federal bailout money.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Solar power is required but don't put it anywhere

"I will ride in my private jet and vote for policies that make it so you can't afford hot water." Sen. Diane Feinstein joins the call for "green" development while preventing it. "While preventing it?" Yes. Diane Feinstein * favors requiring renewable energy with one exception - she opposes any location you propose. Any location. After all, if prices for essentials double she won't feel it at all. She flies in her private jet. Presidential Politics | Political News - FOXNews.com
California's Mojave Desert may seem ideally suited for solar energy production, but concern over what several proposed projects might do to the aesthetics of the region and its tortoise population is setting up a potential clash between conservationists and companies seeking to develop renewable energy. Nineteen companies have submitted applications to build solar or wind facilities on a parcel of 500,000 desert acres, but Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Friday such development would violate the spirit of what conservationists had intended when they donated much of the land to the public. Feinstein said Friday she intends to push legislation that would turn the land into a national monument, which would allow for existing uses to continue while preventing future development.
She says she is trying to correct an error:
Feinstein said the lands in question were donated or purchased with the intent that they would be protected forever. But the Bureau of Land Management considers the land now open to all types of development, except mining. That policy led the state to consider large swaths of the land for future renewable energy production.
The donors and seller might have intended they be protected. But the US is a nation of laws. The use of that land is a matter of law and clearly the law allows it. Gov. Arnold says he favors placing solar in that desert. It is, after all, a desert:
In a speech last year, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger complained about environmental concerns slowing down the approval of solar plants in California. "If we cannot put solar power plants in the Mojave desert, I don't know where the hell we can put it," Schwarzenegger said at Yale University.
Arnold, you got it. There is no place the private-jet liberals will allow the solar, wind, etc., that they require. And now his representative is using her imagination to bow down to Di-Fi and pretend that the solar projects can go ahead. She has to pretend.
But Karen Douglas, chairman of the California Energy Commission, said Feinstein's proposal could be a "win-win" for energy and conservation. The governor's office said Douglas was speaking on the administration's behalf. "The opportunity we see in the Feinstein bill is to jump-start our own efforts to find the best sites for development and to come up with a broader conservation plan that mitigates the impact of the development," Douglas said. Douglas said that if the national monument lines were drawn without consideration of renewable energy then a conflict was likely, but it's early enough in the planning process that she's confident the state will be able to get more solar and wind projects up and running without hurting the environment.
And, again, they are for the idea of solar energy while being against placing at any particular place. See also - Feinstein steers contracts to her husband's firm. She violates the rules she enforces. And - she stepped down but did not admit guilt. * We no longer refer to female elected officials by their titles since the governor of Alaska was dragged through the mud last August.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Discharge Incapable Commanders

Steve Forbes knows the situation and the fundamentals better than I do. And I agree with his findings. They tried and failed. Fire them. Discharge Incapable Commanders - Forbes.com: President Obama should take a cue from his hero, Abraham Lincoln. During the Civil War Lincoln never hesitated to fire generals he thought weren't up to the task. Obama should do the same thing with his economic commanders. Clearly Treasury Chief Timothy Geithner has been about as effective in fighting the credit crisis as George McClellan or Joe Hooker were in fighting Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Geithner has been in the midst of this crisis since it erupted in the summer of 2007. You would think he'd have been ready for decisive, bold action as soon as Obama took the oath of office. Instead, he has discouraged markets with his vague generalities. Why hasn't he persuaded the President to do away with the debilitating accounting principle of mark-to-market? Roosevelt suspended it in 1938, but it came back under the auspices of the Bush Administration. With that political pedigree, getting rid of it should be a no-brainer. More substantively, mark-to-market has been demolishing financial balance sheets with book losses. Banks have more cash than ever before, but their regulatory capital (the amount of capital required by regulators for industries like banks and life insurance) is continually being eviscerated by lawsuit-fearful auditors and stupidly aggressive bank regulators. As Brian Wesbury and Robert Stein said on Forbes.com, "The accounting rules force banks to take artificial hits to capital without reference to the actual performance of loans." Another high-ranking officer who should be reprimanded is the new SEC chairman, Mary Schapiro. Why hasn't she assertively sought the reimposition of the uptick rule concerning short-selling? And why hasn't she vigorously enforced the prohibition of naked short-selling? Previously short-sellers had to wait for a stock to go up in price before trying to hammer it. Now the uptick road bump is gone, thanks to the SEC's repeal (based on faulty research) in July 2007. It's no coincidence that since the repeal market volatility has gone berserk. Why is Schapiro reluctant to crack down on naked short-selling? After all, short-sellers, including exchange-traded funds, are supposed to borrow the shares before they sell them. Lincoln fired McClellan for "the slows," the same affliction besetting Bernanke. Another figure who should suffer a Lincoln-like termination is Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. This seemingly quiet, unassuming man has made just about every mistake possible in both creating and dealing with the crisis. His latest blunder is astonishing: Contrary to impression, the Fed has been tightening, shrinking its balance sheet by nearly $400 billion since December. In the face of the most severe banking/insurance crisis since the 1930s, the squeeze absolutely defies belief. This would be like a fire department deciding to roll up some of its hoses when a big house is a flaming inferno. Bernanke says he fears future inflation, but that's like those firefighters being afraid to cause water damage to the furniture. Right now we're in a bone-crunching deflation. Bernanke's actions recall those of the Fed during the early years of the Depression, when our central bank wouldn't ease in the face of a catastrophic contraction for fear of igniting a German-style inflation.

President Obama insults the disabled - not just once

Respect life? Obama? The media carried his insult to Special Olympics people, but they conveniently forgot to carry his insult to the parents of disabled babies. Oh, he thought it was funny and if you don't you are uptight. Jim Treacher
"Sarah Palin and I don't talk much, 'cause I don't speak Tardese. 'Doy! Durr! Look at my dumb baby!' [audience member boos] Oh, lighten up."
And there are many more. Vacancy - Needed - one decent person in the White House. BTW: Since my injury last May I am disabled - for 10 months so far. I don't intend to be disabled in three more months, but I am now. Take a shot at me, Distinguished President Obama.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Back and stronger

I got my left hip replaced Monday, three nights in the hospital and returned from Valley Medical Center in Renton today. They gave me excellent care. This surgeon's reputation is so good that the nurses told us they get patients who are orthopedic surgeons. When they need hip replacement they go to Renton to Dr. William Barrett instead of going to their own partners!! Due to a complication from last spring's broken pelvis and its healing I am only 50% weight bearing on the left and using crutches for 4 to 6 weeks. Everyone else goes straight to full weight bearing. I have been on crutches before. No problem. And 50% is a lot easier than no weight (or "toe-touch") like I was before. See Broken Pelvis.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Obama 3-Step

Obama has denounced than adopted Bush policies on terrorist surveillance and the Iraq War, Gitmo and interrogation. Earmarks. Did anyone notice? Did everyone notice? Is this man acquainted with Truth? That if A is true then (not A) is false? Does not appear to be. It's time for him to double the number of pastors whose names he drops. THE OBAMA 3-STEP - New York Post:
BARACK Obama has perfected a three-step maneuver that could never even be attempted by a politician lacking his rhetorical skill or cool cynicism. First: Denounce your presidential predecessor for a given policy, energizing your party's base and capitalizing on his abiding unpopularity. Second: Pretend to have reversed that policy upon taking office with a symbolic act or high-profile statement. Third: Adopt a version of that same policy, knowing that it's the only way to govern responsibly or believing doing otherwise is too difficult. Repeat as necessary. ... Obama's stipulations in the statement closely tracked those previously made by Bush: Amid the dramatic pose of change, essential continuity. Obama is experiencing the natural transformation of any presidential candidate whose fanciful words meet the realities of power.

United Nations chief calls US a deadbeat

We pay 22% of Ban Ki-moon's budget. So does he thank us? No. He insults us. The Associated Press: UN chief seeks to smooth over deadbeat comment:
After drawing a rebuke from the White House, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon tried Thursday to smooth over his characterization of the U.S. as a "deadbeat" for its late payments to the world body. "My point was simply that the United Nations needs the fullest support of its members, and never more so than in these very demanding times," Ban told reporters at U.N. headquarters The White House objected to Ban's use of the word "deadbeat" to describe the U.S. during a private meeting Wednesday with lawmakers at the Capitol, a day after he met with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Ban's "word choice was unfortunate," given that the U.S. is the largest contributor to the United Nations.
Of course Obama's Robert Gibbs wouldn't dare tell a jerk that he was a jerk. "Unfortunate..." Image via the defunct Cox and Forkum.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I am glad I can have surgery

My hip socket didn't heal nice and round after my accident and surgery last May. See Broken Pelvis. So I am having my left hip replaced. Originally the ball part at the end of the femur had little damage. But walking on it with the non-round socket sure damaged it, so the replacement is total. Thank God this is mature technology. I meet and hear about people everywhere who have had replacements and every story is positive. I am glad the right solution is available for me. When I feel sorry for myself I think about the stories I know like the following from this week in Seattle. I am alive and supporting my family by working. Life is pretty good. (Though I am tired all the time!) UW lecturer dies after bicycle accident | Seattle Times Newspaper:
A cyclist who suffered head injuries after she was struck by a vehicle Wednesday morning in Seattle's Wallingford neighborhood died early Friday in Harborview Medical Center, a hospital spokeswoman confirmed. The victim was identified as Carol Salomon, 60, a University of Washington faculty lecturer. The woman was taken to Harborview after the accident at North 56th Street and First Avenue Northeast, just before 10:30 a.m. Police said the victim, who was traveling south, was not wearing a helmet.
A helmet might have saved her life and might not. A cyclist can land on his head and break his neck while wearing a helmet. I always wear one; I won't take the chance.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Madoff Jailed After Admitting Epic Scam - Finally

I was incensed that BM was allowed to walk the streets with his smirk while people suffered. He took over $500 million each from two men he was the closest friend to. One of them he just got an additional $250 million out of just weeks before his fall. Madoff Jailed After Admitting Epic Scam - WSJ.com:
Madoff was sent to jail Thursday after confessing to one of the largest frauds in history, telling a courtroom filled with people he cheated that he was "sorry and ashamed" for bilking so many out of their life savings. "As the years went by, I realized that my arrest and this day would inevitably come," said the 70-year-old Mr. Madoff, dressed in a crisp white shirt and charcoal-gray suit. "I am painfully aware that I have deeply hurt many, many people, including the members of my family, my closest friends, business associates and the thousands of clients who gave me their money."
I don't think he is aware how much he hurt people. The list of people who went from wealthy to near poverty is long. His own sister had to sell her house. Just more words from the master liar. And he quit investing the money over 15 years ago - pure ponzi. One highlight of the hearing today:
During the bail discussion, Mr. Madoff's lawyer, Ira Sorkin, explained to the judge that his client's wife, Ruth, paid for a security company to monitor Mr. Madoff at her "own expense." The crowd burst into derisive laughter, since many believe [translation: everyone knows] her money came from the Ponzi scheme.

Chas Freeman: Cover up by the big media

Just another controversy over an Obama appointment to a key post. The nominee withdraws under the hail of criticism. But all the big media outlets hide the story, except the Wall Street Journal and Jake Tapper at ABC. Jennifer Rubin covers it: Commentary; Blog Archive; Why the Cover Up Matters: The mainstream media, with the exception of ABC’s Jake Tapper, utterly ignored the Chas Freeman story. A large number of mainstream outlets simply wouldn’t report on it at all. In doing so they not only missed a significant event — made more significant by Freeman’s self-revelation as a ranting paranoid — but they missed a key insight into the administration’s current travails. Yet, the New York Times editor says they were just too busy with other things. (Even to cover a story about a top intelligence post in which its home senator claims to have played a key role?) One of the better stories placing the issue in context comes from the Wall Street Journal. The reporter first lays out the facts — quoting the bizarre farewell missive, describing Admiral Dennis Blair’s defense earlier in the day, and explaining the subject areas which concerned his critics. And why is this important? The reporter explains:
The abrupt turnabout recalled other missteps early in the Obama administration, which has seen several nominees for top posts withdraw under pressure. Most of the other cases involved tax problems and personal financial issues, while the Freeman case centered on ideology. The White House declined to comment on Mr. Freeman’s withdrawal.
Ah, there might be a pattern — of compounding incidents involving problematic appointees and incompetent vetting processes. Specifically, we see the emergence of ongoing rifts within the national security apparatus of the administration:
Intelligence appointments have proved politically precarious for President Barack Obama, who is looking to improve the relationship between intelligence agencies and Capitol Hill. His initial choice for Central Intelligence Agency director pulled out before he was formally named, under pressure from liberals concerned about the official’s service in the George W. Bush administration. Mr. Obama’s next choice for CIA director, Leon Panetta, ran into initial resistance on Capitol Hill, because Congress wasn’t consulted, but he was ultimately confirmed by the Senate.
You see, the mainstream media did not simply miss a story. They missed a very important one, which provided insight into the administration’s recurring problems. By not providing coverage for this story – or by obfuscating key details as Walter Pincus did — they are misleading the public and conveying a false portrait of the administration. This is simply inexcusable.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Laughing at the Contradictions of Haters of Capitalism in America

In the Soviet Union things were just plain bad... like Russia today. Second-rate people ran a 4th-rate government. They had control of the people, so they cowed them into saying everything was fine when everyone knew it was a mess. So the people turned to humor In the 1970s it was so bad that they were buying US grain to keep their people from starving. The joke that went with it: "The Soviet farmers had a very good year this year. They plant their crops in the Soviet Union and harvest in the United States." Oleg Atbashian at Pajamas Media has been writing six-line things that turn the circle of contradiction.

Six-line dialectical contradictions ala Soviet Union:

Pajamas Media » Laughing at the Contradictions of Socialism in America: Here is one sample that has a bunch of contradictions.
Without capitalism there’d be no Hollywood — yet filmmakers hate capitalism. Filmmakers hate capitalism — yet they sue for unauthorized copying of their movies. They sue for unauthorized copying — yet on screen they teach us to share. On screen they teach us to share — yet they keep their millions to themselves. They keep their millions to themselves — yet they revel in stories of American misery and depravity. They revel in stories of American misery and depravity — yet they blame the resulting anti-American sentiment on conservatism. They blame the anti-American sentiment on conservatism — yet conservatism ensures the continuation of a system that makes Hollywood possible. It reads like a poem — only instead of the rhythm of syllables and rhyming sounds, it’s the rhythm of logic and rhyming meanings. If I could replicate it, I might start a whole new genre of “contradictory six-liners.”
He has lots more.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

But I don't have a Kindle

Amazon sure narrowed its bandwidth for me. I was searching for a book by the author of 38 books. My first search at Amazon was fruitless, so I went to Google. It led me to the Kindle version of the right book. But Amazon wouldn't let me out. Jimmy Carter: the liberal left and world chaos - I couldn't link to the print version of the same book. - I couldn't add it to my wish list for later purchase. I could view the wish list, but not add to it. - I couldn't place the book in my shopping cart. It was available for 1-click buying, but not shopping cart. You see, if I put it in my shopping cart I have more chances to change my mind. Actually I don't know if 1-click allows backing out of the purchase; i assume it does, but it's called "1-click" for a reason. I could view my shopping cart, but not add the book I was viewing to it. That's three strikes. And there were Kindle links all over the page; OK the page was for the Kindle version of the book. But I got there by a search and needed the print edition and Amazon hid it from me.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Cause emergency then its the Dems excuse to hide the budget process

Yes. The Olympia Democratics overspend when the tax revenue is pouring in. When the revenue slows they have an emergency. So it "forces them" to hide the budget process. Because "this isn't like any other year." Political Buzz - Lisa Brown: Parts of budget will be revealed when House and Senate negotiators reach agreement, stay tuned | The News Tribune | Tacoma, WA: That's what Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, told reporters at noon Thursday during her weekly news conference. "By the time the budget comes out . . . major pieces of it should already be agreed to," she said. That would be a departure from years past, when an entire $70 billion two-year budget has been dumped on rank-and-file lawmakers, reporters, stateholders and lobbyist, then hurriedly voted on before most of us even understood it. "This isn't like any other year," Brown said.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Even Chris Matthews can now see Obama's broken promises

Even Chris Matthews can see Obama's broken campaign promises - lies? Obama promised to eliminate ear marks - to go through line by line. But the current budget has thousands of them. Can't Obama see them? His journalist buddies are making lame alibis for their god - "this is such small potatoes." But now even Chris Matthews woke up. Sound Politics has the video.

Big court win for property owners; loss for Ron Sims

Ron Sims and King County grabbed two-thirds of the land of every rural land owner. But he lost in the Washington Supreme Court - unanimously. Great news!! Seattle Times Rural property owners who fought a King County law severely restricting how much land they can clear have won a huge victory. The state Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to review an appeals-court decision that struck down the law as an improper tax or fee on development. Chief Justice Gerry Alexander signed an order in which he and four other justices unanimously denied the county's petition for review of the Court of Appeals ruling. The clearing restrictions, part of a package that includes the Critical Areas Ordinance, require rural property owners to keep native vegetation on 50 to 65 percent of their land, depending on its size. They were adopted as a way of protecting streams and wildlife, including the threatened chinook salmon. Steve Hammond, president of the Citizens' Alliance for Property Rights, said the order "puts the nail in the coffin" of the most controversial element in the critical-areas package. "I've been saying since 2004, when I was on the [County] Council, this is not the right thing to do," Hammond said of the clearing law. "This is the homeowner having to make a donation to the open-space program. Two-thirds of your property is a pretty significant donation. That's bad. "The only way I know how to get folks who don't live in the affected area to understand it is to say, 'What if I walked into your bathroom and said you have three fixtures: You can keep one and the other two have to go?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Historic schooner Wawona heads for demise

We lost a historic ship. We didn't get it together to preserve her, not that I was involved. Wouldn't it stimulate the eocnomy? Throw us a hundred million or two. Kudos to Kay Bullitt for trying. Seattle Times Newspaper: "I call it, 'death with dignity,' " said Kay Bullitt, 84, the venerable Seattle civic activist who had come to the dock to bid goodbye to the Wawona. In 1963, after reading an article in this paper about the Wawona — then already deteriorating — Bullitt began the effort to save the ship. Since then, 46 years have gone by, with thousands of volunteer hours and numerous fundraising efforts. The ship, in 1970, was the first vessel to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1977, the Wawona was designated an official Seattle landmark. Through all those decades, there was always plenty of enthusiasm from a small core of the Wawona's fans but never enough money. In the mid-1960s, Bullitt said, a dry dock estimate to completely repair the Wawona was $75,000, about $500,000 in today's dollars. By 2005, because of water intrusion that was followed by beetle infestation, a full restoration was estimated at $15 million. And so, said Joe Shickich, president of NW Seaport, the nonprofit that owns the Wawona, the decision was made to demolish her, with portions saved, such as the captain's cabin. The saved portions will be featured in the new Museum of History & Industry going in at South Lake Union Park. "It's a bittersweet day, a melancholic day," said Shickich, who was in another boat, following the Wawona to her end. "She's moving to the next stage." The next stage means that starting Monday, and for at least three weeks, the Wawona will be sawed up at the Lake Union Drydock Company. [...] There were some 200 vessels like the Wawona built in a California shipyard. With the Wawona gone, the only one left is a sister ship, the C.A. Thayer, moored in San Francisco at [San Francisco Maritime Historical Park.] Update: Who killed Wawona? Joe Follansbee at Crosscut says Mayor Nickels is guilty.

Get out your pliers -- UK's universal medical system

The UK's universal medical system is denying care to the point that people have to pull their own teeth! Get out the pliers. BBC NEWS | Health | Millions 'opt for DIY dentistry':
Millions of people in England have resorted to DIY dentistry, a survey by consumer magazine Which? suggests. The poll, of 2,631 adults, found 8% had tried to fix their own dental problems - and a similar number knew somebody who had tried. Of those who admitted trying the DIY approach, one in four had tried to pull out a tooth using pliers. Since a new dental contract was introduced in 2006 there has been growing concern over access to care. But the government said the findings of the survey were unreliable, and said access to NHS dentistry was improving. Ministers have announced an independent review of NHS dentistry in England, which will report back later this year. Which? will be making a submission to this review and is currently carrying out detailed research to build an accurate picture of the state of NHS dentistry. The latest survey found 12% of those who had tried DIY techniques had tried to extract a tooth by using a piece of string tied to a door handle. Some 30% of DIY dentists had tried to whiten their teeth with household cleaning products. Other DIY procedures people admitted to included: • Using household glue to stick down a filling or crown (11%) • Popping an ulcer with a pin (19%) • Trying to mend or alter dentures (8%) • Trying to stick down a loose filling with chewing gum (6%)
Via Adam Smith's blog DIY dentistry There are lots of orginal articles at Liberty Page.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Samuelson - Wrong Turn on Housing

Housing started the down turn and we need housing to revive. Robert Samuelson has a very good proposal. RealClearPolitics - Articles - Wrong Turn on Housing: ... Shouldn't lower prices spur demand? Well, yes. There are many theories as to why they haven't. Perhaps prospective buyers can't get loans. Or people are so gloomy that they're afraid to buy. But the most important explanation is probably deflationary psychology. If yesterday's $250,000 house is now $200,000, it may be $175,000 by June. Waiting is better. Unless this deflationary psychology is broken, it becomes self-fulfilling. The more buyers wait, the more prices fall; and the more prices fall, the more buyers wait. The Obama administration essentially ignores this problem, though it can be addressed. The simplest way is to bribe prospective buyers not to wait. For example: Give them a 10 percent tax credit, up to $15,000, on the purchase price of a new home. Anyone who bought a $150,000 home would get a $15,000 tax break. The credit would expire in a year. Waiting would be costly. Buyers would delay only if they thought home prices would drop as much or more. Precisely this proposal comes from the National Association of Home Builders. Normally, it would be an atrocious idea, because it would reward people who would buy anyway and would be skewed toward wealthier buyers. But now it's worth trying. Somehow, we need to cut bloated inventories (13 months of supply for unsold new homes), curb falling prices and stimulate new construction. The hope is that once buying improves, it would feed on itself. People would join from the sidelines. The NAHB says its plan would create 250,000 jobs and cost $40 billion -- big money but tiny compared with the hundreds of billions lavished on recovery programs. The Senate included the plan in its stimulus, but it was later dropped.

Allah is not God

There might be Christians confused that Allah is the the same as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but the Muslims are not confused. He is different. A friend who earned a masters in Arabic told me how different Allah is from God. To the Muslims Allah is better at everything than you are. Everything, including lying. Allah is the master deceiver. And why did the Muslims want to kill Salmon Rushdie for his book Satanic Verses? I read it. It brings out the fact that Allah was one of over 300 gods of the Arabic Peninsula, just one of many. Mohamed chose to elevate Allah. But Allah came out of polytheism - many gods. So they tried to kill the messenger. FOXNews.com - Malaysia Restores 'Allah' Ban for Christians
The Malaysian government will issue a new decree restoring a ban on Christian publications using the word "Allah" to refer to God, officials said Sunday. Home Affairs Minister Syed Hamid Albar said a previous Feb. 16 decree that allowed Christian publications to use the word as long as they specified the material was not for Muslims was a mistake, the national Bernama news agency reported. The about-turn came after Islamic groups slammed the government and warned that even conditional use of the word by Christians would anger Muslims, who make up the country's majority.
Again, don't you dare anger the people of "a religion of peace."

Panic among the fewer news workers

The news reporters who were assigned to report that 4.8% unemployment under President Bush was as bad as the Great Depression are massively endangered. No one is paying for their product. Who is sorry for them? They were lazy during the 2008 campaign, just regurgitating Obama's press releases. They didn't earn their keep. They have continue to lie about the economy. President Jimmy Carter - who can respect a president who calls himself Jimmy? - brought 7.0% unemployment and the prime interest rate reached 21%. Carter's misery index was 20.5 = 13.5% inflation and 7.0% unemployment. Do you want a 12% mortgage? How about 13%? President Reagan inherited an economy in worse shape than what Obama receives. - Richard Rahn at Cato Institute www.dcexaminer.com >> Politics:
A recession is like the Spanish flu — the weakest members of the population are always the first to go. And among American industries, there were few weaker at the onset of the current panic than the news business. It’s no wonder then that the reporters still clinging to jobs have been quick to declare catastrophe and credulous about proposals for a titanic reordering of the American economic model. When one’s inbox is peppered with e-mails announcing colleagues’ layoffs and buyouts, reporting on a political or economic story is more than just hammering out some copy. It’s an effort for survival. “This was the year that pretense and pride fell by the wayside and the president reported to the nation that things have skidded wildly off course,” wrote The New York Times’ Peter Baker in a piece about President Barack Obama’s address to Congress last week. Baker, like many reporters, put Obama’s jaw-dropping proposals in the context of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Great Depression, not the malaise of the 1970s or any of the 17 other economic downturns since American independence. Over at The Associated Press, which officially jumped the shark in June with a story headlined “Everything is seemingly spinning out of control,” Ron Fournier followed suit. “[Obama] sounded like Roosevelt, who, after closing banks briefly in the first days of his presidency, stoked the embers of American optimism. ... Like Roosevelt, Obama asked Americans to unite against pessimism.” While many journalists are optimistic about Obama’s strategy, those reporting on the economy and government seem pessimistic to the point of panic.
If their words had value they wouldn't make one paragraph per sentence.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Senate Republicans say “Yes we can!” balance budget without tax hikes

"Yes, we can" balance Washington's budget without tax increases. Senate Republicans say “Yes we can!” balance budget without tax hikes - The Politics Blog - The Olympian - Olympia, Washington: Looks like Republicans really are worried that majority Democrats might try to raise taxes to help cover the budget shortfall of some $8 billion. But they’re still smiling about it. They just had large campaign-style buttons made up with an Obama-esque color scheme — mainly blue with white letters and a swash of red. "Yes we can!" the buttons say, with an asterisk followed by the words, "balance the budget without raising taxes." Senate GOP caucus spokeswoman Rebecca Japhet was handing out the buttons early this afternoon, and members should start popping up with them on lapels. Click here to see the button and a 17-page explanation from Republican Sen. Joe Zarelli of Ridgefield and his colleagues about how the budget-balancing feat can be accomplished. The GOP contends state general-fund revenues are still going to be up in the next biennium by about $600 million, despite last week’s revenue forecast that carved $1.6 billion in expected tax receipts for that two-year period alone. It doesn't mention that Gov. Chris Gregoire's budget assumed a $3 billion increase in caseloads for Medicaid, K-12 schools, prisons and other programs. The GOP explainer says gaps can be made up by taking several steps — including adding in savings from a recent belt-tightening measure, known as House Bill 1694 (some estimates are that it reduces state outlays by some $700 million over the next 2 ½ years). The GOP also says to add roughly $3 billion in federal stimulus funds and $700 million from the state’s rainy day fund, making the overall shortfall figure more manageable. And it suggests a pull-back on government expansion of recent years such as moving toward all-day state-funded kindergarten and covering all kids with health insurance; the Republicans also suggest reforms, or cuts, to subsidized health insurance for the working poor, cash grants and health coverage for unemployable adults; bilingual education; anti-smoking programs, learning improvement days and K-12 health-benefit purchasing. All told the GOP says a $1.1 billion cut in spending by June and another $1.5 billion cut for the following two-year cycle will do the trick. ... The Republicans' plans is here (pdf). Via Richard Davis at WashingtonACE.