Monday, May 31, 2010

We remember

Today, Memorial Day, we remember those who died in service to the USA.

There are lots of events today from Seattle to Monroe to Edmonds. Seattle Times

Here is one who lived. (Not in the photo.) He doesn't consider himself a hero; they are all buried overseas. But the Army was too sedate for him the summer of 1941 (before the Pearl Harbor attack), so he quit it to go to China with General Chenault's Flying Tigers, fighting against Japan. He kept the planes supplied with armaments.

Boston Herald

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Are we ready to cut the spending?

Are we are ready to cut the benefits we receive from the federal government? On more than one occasion tea partiers, when asked by reporters if their main concern is taxes or spending, replied "spending." Get control of the spending first. Then the taxes. Are they ready to reduce what they receive? Do they know what they receive? It is my order of priorities also. Get spending under control. Our Congress and President are not restrained by income or anything else. Any problem they will throw money at, even when it makes no sense. (Example of that: Social Security recipients get a cost of living adjustment every year. This year the cost of living was lower. So, be happy, things are cheaper. No. They wanted the increase they got every year. If adults had been in charge they would have said "Be satisfied. The cost of living is lower." No. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid got Congress to pass a $250 bonus. It makes no sense at all. If they were spending money they had it might be defendable. But they have to borrow in order to pay this "lower cost of living" bonus. Just recklessly throwing money at every situation.) Emmett Tryrrell of the American Spectator magazine thinks we have arrived at the point where people will start accepting the pain. On the side he has an interesting contrast between us hoi poloi and the intelligentsia. American Spectator WASHINGTON -- Owing to the promotion tour for my new book, After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery, I have been meeting with what the intelligentsia once called "the masses." They read books. They pay taxes. They attend lectures. Oh, and by the way, they are now a lot more prosperous and even more civilized than the intelligentsia, today's version of which are actually anti-intellectual and occasionally only semi-literate. The reason that "the masses" are a lot more prosperous and even civilized is that they have been participating in our free-market economy for years. It has made their lives easier, and they recognize it. As Arthur Brooks, the urbane president of the American Enterprise Institute, demonstrates in his new book, The Battle: How the Fight Between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America's Future, seventy percent of Americans favor free enterprise, with only a glum thirty percent turning their tremulous palms up to the nanny state. At any rate, after talking with thousands of ordinary Americans on talk radio and at book receptions, I have come to the conclusion that America has arrived at a historic turning point. It is not just that Tea Partiers are revolting against big government. It is something more. Usually a revolt against big government has meant that restive Americans wanted their taxes lowered, but as for cutting government back they were vague. They favored economies but certainly no cutbacks in their entitlements -- a loaded word, that, entitled to whom from what? -- or government subsidies. What makes this a historic moment is that growing numbers of Americans now accept that they too are going to have to forego at least some of their so-called entitlements. ...

Sestak - The White House admitted guilt

The White House admitted that ex-President Clinton was authorized to offer Rep. Joe Sestak a job in exchange for not running for Senate against poor Arlen Spector. (It must be a huge disappointment to be denied your birthright of lifetime office in the US Senate. He was sure it was his.) White House Counsel Bauer admitted guilt in a two-page memorandum. Read the memo. It doesn't matter that the office was unpaid. President Obama's team offered a bribe to Sestak to leave Specter alone. It's a crime. Here is The Caucus blog at New York Times version of the law - two laws:
Federal law makes it a crime for anyone “who directly or indirectly, promises any employment, position, compensation, contract, appointment, or any other benefit” to someone else “as consideration, favor, or reward for any political activity or for the support of or opposition to any candidate or any political party in connection with any general or special election to any political office.” It is also illegal for a government official to use “his official authority for the purpose of interfering with, or affecting, the nomination or the election of any candidate” for Senate.
And Bauer hides behind their obvious trick of doing it indirectly. The White House did not contact Sestak... But had Clinton do it. Doesn't matter. it was a bribe. And besides, everyone does it - breaks this law. In Bauer's words:
There have been numerous, reported instances in the past when prior Administrations -- both Democratic and Republican, and motivated by the same goals -- discussed alternative paths to service for qualified individuals also considering campaigns for public office
And it is Bauer's job - after admitting guilt - to say that the illegal is legal, so he does. OK, lapdogs, NY TImes, WA Post, all of you. Others chased out the scandal. Just report on it. Not on an obscure blog, but on the front page. Ask some questions.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Not so concerned about Europe. China

Anita Raghavan is bullish because of expected growth - not in Europe. Forbes It seems like the market is divided between two camps right now. There are the bears who think the fiscal woes of Europe are likely to threaten the emerging global recovery, dousing it even before it really blazes. And then there are the bulls who quite frankly don't give a damn about Europe. In their mind, Europe is just a speck on an otherwise expanding economic landscape. On Friday, one of the biggest bulls, Goldman Sachs economist Jim O'Neill chimed in with his thoughts before the long holiday weekend. "The China-U.S. economic outlook is simply way more important than all this European stuff," he writes in a research note. O'Neill's basic read is that a "much better tone" exists between senior U.S. policymakers and their counterparts in Beijing than earlier in the year. Among other things that have helped foster the better relationship is a recognition by the U.S. of the contribution of Chinese global consumption. He puts the problems of the euro zone into perspective, saying that Goldman expects Chinese gross domestic product to rise by $7 trillion this decade, nearly two times its current size, two times the change in the U.S. and equivalent to the change in the U.S. and the other three BRIC countries--Goldman's moniker for Brazil, Russia, India and China--put together. Goldman expects Chinese GDP to hit $11 trillion by 2019. "Not a single euro area country will be in the top ten contributors,'' he writes. Also, despite all the hand-wringing over Europe, he says the euro area in aggregate is in better fiscal shape than the U.S. "Irrelevant of the considerable challenges within many individual countries, in aggregate, the euro area is in modest, current account surplus," writes O'Neill. Among the statistics that comfort Goldman's economists is that general government net lending, commonly known as the fiscal deficit, stood as a percentage of GDP at negative 4.1% for the euro zone in 2009 and negative 4.5% for the U.S. ...

Medieval castle in Arkansas Ozarks?

Yes. Under construction using only the tools they had in 1300! Wall Street Journal Boone County Judge Mike Moore has seen plenty of dreamers promise the world to this humble corner of the Ozarks. Developers have talked of an amusement park, a Nascar racetrack, a golf course lined with condos. None of that materialized. So when a dapper Frenchman stopped by his office a few years back to sketch his vision of building a medieval castle in the forest, Judge Moore scoffed. "I was like, 'Yeah, yeah, I'll believe you when I see the moat," he recalls. "Well, now I see the moat." Actually, just a scale model of the moat. The real thing hasn't been dug yet. But construction of the castle itself is under way. The first layers of hand-hewn rock are rising from a hillside clearing. The turrets are taking shape, and the arched entry that will one day support the drawbridge. You can hear the plink of chisels, the creak of wooden carts, and the grunts of local laborers who are building the massive fortress by hand, using only tools available in the 13th century. Which raises the obvious question: Why? It all begins with the Frenchman, Michel Guyot, who has been obsessed with castles since he was a boy. For years, he renovated medieval ruins. In 1997, he set a grander course: He would build his own crenellated château in the Guédelon forest in Burgundy. To finance the project, he opened the site to tourists. It has been self-sustaining ever since. The Guédelon castle, which is about halfway built, has drawn visitors from around the world, including Jean-Marc Miret, a French expatriate living in the Ozarks. He was so taken with the concept, he urged Mr. Guyot to build an American version on his estate in Boone County, Ark. "We went on the Internet to check, where was this Arkansas?" says Noémi Brunet, Mr. Guyot's wife and business partner. Her conclusion? "It was the middle of nowhere." It was also irresistible. Mr. Guyot and Ms. Brunet visited and fell in love with the remote county, best known for its annual crawdad festival. "It's green and lovely, very authentic, very pure," Ms. Brunet says. ...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Rossi forgoes earmarks

Dino Rossi, candidate to replace Senator Patty, announced that he will not seek earmarks when he is serving in the Senate. Senator Patty is a hero of earmarks - 8th in the Senate. OpenSecrets Her representative, Alex Glass, emphasized that she feels it her duty to add spending items after a bill has been debated. That's what an earmark is: you avoid the light of the hearing process and sneak funding for a boat the military doesn't want at the end of the process when there is no time to consider the merits. Her representative says she supports adding some light with a searchable database of earmarks. She has been in the Senate for 18 years. Funny she didn't think of adding light until this week. She's has been hiding from it all that time. And the database, I am sure, will be for seeing the damage after its done, not during the process. She is not a cosponsor of S.3335. Jim Brunner at Seattle Times Politics NW Blog

Kagan ended requirement to study US constitutional law

Why study our legal foundation when you can study stuff that will impress Europeans? Elena Kagan, while dean at Harvard, ended the requirement to study US constitutional law. We need lawyers who appreciate the foundation of our legal system. Well, most of it. Common law and Constitutional law. CNS News
Elena Kagan, President Barack Obama’s choice to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court, is best known for moving Harvard Law School away from the 100-year old “case-law method” of legal study. But in the process, critics say, she moved the nation’s premier law school away from requiring the study of U.S. constitutional law towards the study of the laws of foreign nations and international law. As dean, Kagan won approval from the faculty in 2006 to make major changes to the Harvard Law's curriculum. “My understanding is that she instituted three new courses to the required curriculum and, in so doing, got rid of a requirement to take constitutional law,” Robert Alt, senior legal fellow and deputy director of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation, told “Currently, at Harvard, constitutional law is not required for first-year law students, or even for graduation,” Alt added. ...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

More government and less private investment

Your senator or congressman gets a choice committee spot, or even becomes the chair. It's good for business in your district/state. Of course? No, surprisingly, not for business. An in-depth study was done: Harvard Business School & National Bureau of Economic Research - "Do Powerful Politicians Cause Corporate Downsizing?" They found that largess from the federal government goes up, but private investment, activity and jobs decrease. When the government decides the winners everyone else tends to look for a more even playing field - somewhere else.
"The central finding of this paper is that positive shocks to the seniority of a state's congressional delegation cause large and persistent increases in government allocated funding to the states, and significant retrenchment on the part of the corporations headquartered in the state. This retrenchment appears to be a response to the large and persistent increase in federal funding that the state receives following the shock. Following the appointment of a senator to the chair of a powerful committee, we estimate that his state experiences, on average, a 40-50 percent increase in its share of congressional earmark spending, and a 9-10 percent increase in its share of total state-level government transfers. At the same time, firms residing in the state cut their capital expenditures by 8-15 percent, reduce R&D by 7-12 percent, and increase payout by 4-13 percent. Employment and sales growth are also impacted, as corporations scale back employment growth by 3-15%, and sales growth falls by up to 15%."
Via Wash Policy Council

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dino vs. Patty

Dino Rossi made it official this morning. He is running against the 99th smartest US Senator, Patty Murray.

I have been supporting Dr. Art Coday, because I know him and he very articulately expounds conservative principles. We need to get rid of Patty. I hope a vigorous top-two primary selects the best challenger.

Mexico threatens people of Arizona

The Tourism Board of Mexico took out a two-page ad the weekend of May 23 that threatens the people of Arizona. The ad shows a soldier in a camouflage hemet looking through binoculars and says:
In Sonora we are looking for people from Arizona.
Is it reasonable to conclude that they are giving the same message that their President Calderone gave to Congress last week? He said Arizona has no business enforcing US immigration laws. And Democratics stood and cheered. Salon

Mexico's Tourist Board is saying the same thing. They are dictating what Arizona can and cannot do.

I am now an Arizonan. If Mexico welcomes Arizonans with soldiers with binoculars, that is a threat. They are threatening me also.

The past two winters I have spent 9 and 14 days in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur. It's a great place. I enjoyed being there. But now I have been told I will be threatened when I come. We have reserved two weeks there in December. I had better ask them if they want me to come.

TPM Muckraker

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mexico abuses its immigrants - Amnesty International

Tell us again, Mr. President of Mexico, how evil Arizona is to enforce US immigration laws. Your laws and their enforcement at both worse!! Amnesty International says Mexico systematically abuses its immigrants. Report: Invisible Victims: Migrants on the Move in Mexico, April 28, 2010
The Mexican authorities must act to halt the continuing abuse of migrants who are preyed on by criminal gangs while public officials turn a blind eye or even play an active part in kidnappings, rapes and murders, Amnesty International said in a new report released on Tuesday. Invisible Victims: Migrants on the Move in Mexico, documents the alarming levels of abuse faced by the tens of thousands of Central American irregular migrants that every year attempt to reach the US by crossing Mexico. "Migrants in Mexico are facing a major human rights crisis leaving them with virtually no access to justice, fearing reprisals and deportation if they complain of abuses," said Rupert Knox, Mexico Researcher at Amnesty International. "Persistent failure by the authorities to tackle abuses carried out against irregular migrants has made their journey through Mexico one of the most dangerous in the world." Kidnappings of migrants, mainly for ransom, reached new heights in 2009, with the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) reporting that nearly 10,000 were abducted over six months and almost half of interviewed victims saying that public officials were involved in their kidnapping. An estimated six out of 10 migrant women and girls experience sexual violence, allegedly prompting some people smugglers to demand that women receive contraceptive injections ahead of the journey, to avoid them falling pregnant as a result of rape. On 23 January 2010, armed police stopped a freight train carrying over 100 migrants in Chiapas State, southern Mexico. Veronica (not her real name) said that Federal Police forced her and the other migrants to leave the train and lie face down on the ground, before stealing their belongings and threatening to kill them unless they continued their journey by foot along the railway.

North Korea secrecy unveiled by satellite photos

While keeping "his people" impoverished to the point of starvation, Kim Jong Il lives lavishly. We now have proof. BBC News shows photos of lavish country estates which include swimming pools with water slides. There are lots of these estates, especially on the coast. Most of the decent roads in N Korea lead to their gates. While people starve.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Is ObamaCare consitutional? Debate Thursday

Cato Institute Senior Fellow Ilya Shapiro will be debating against the constitutionality of ObamaCare Thursday at University of Washington. The UW Law School had a one-sided "debate" in March 30 because they could not find anyone who would take the "un" side. Seattle Times. Where did they look? The Hub? Seattle has a Federalist Society. Come on! Shapiro is traveling here from I don't know where for the debate plus another event:
The Debate, sponsored by UW Law School, Federalist Society and other groups 4:30 pm Thursday May 27 Room 138 of William H. Gates Hall at U of Washington Law School This is mentioned in a post on the developments this week in the court battle at Cato@Liberty Blog. The Seattle Times also.
ON A DIFFERENT TOPIC the night before:
Shapiro will speak about Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. 6:30 pm Wednesday May 26 Washington Athletic Club, sponsored by Puget Sound Federalist Society Lawyers Chapter Cost $25 - Registration required - Contact Michael Bindas (206) 341-9300 mbindas AT Posted on the Sound Politics Public Calendar

The ruling class - crime-free theft

There are two Americas: The priveleged government class and those who pay for it. We pay for them to play. Government workers stole, but most won't be punished. How about if they return or reimburse what they stole? You just don't understand. They are the rulers. Washington Times
An investigation that found thousands of dollars in unauthorized purchases of clothing, gold coins, flat-screen televisions, gym memberships and college tuition payments by employees of the Federal Protective Services using government purchase cards has resulted in no disciplinary action. Twenty-one FPS employees took advantage of an 18-month transition period during which the security agency was moved from the General Services Administration to the Department of Homeland Security "to loot GSA resources by purchasing unauthorized goods," according to the GSA's office of inspector general. Investigative documents obtained by The Washington Times through a Freedom of Information Act request said the California-based FPS employees used the government cards to buy, among other things, $17,000 in suits at Macy's and the Men's Wearhouse, $15,000 in gold and silver coins, $60,000 in tuition payments and professional memberships, and $8,000 in gym memberships in 2003 and 2004. The FPS employees, who are responsible for securing federal buildings, also used expense vouchers to get reimbursements for more than $9,000 in clothing, including an $800 tuxedo. Investigators said employees with the security force bought the questionable items but concealed them by not entering them into the government computer system known as "Pegasys," which processes and reconciles financial transactions. The purchases were the subject of an investigation by the inspector general's office that spanned five years. In September, investigators closed the case and noted that of the 21 employees involved in making the inappropriate purchases, three resigned and four retired. Five employees faced a possible reprimand and no action had been taken against nine others.
Our Senator Patty Murray is protecting these people, because they are her kind of people. Not us.

Gray whale at Everett waterfront

Our on-site reporter, my daughter Margaret, saw a whale Friday on the waterfront of Everett, Washington, north of the Naval Base, by the large marina. My informed guess was that it was a gray whale, given the time of year. The news media rushed to the site after her report and found and photographed it. Unfortunately KING-5 links to video of an arrested baby sitter, instead of the whale. Their first reports were that it was in the Snohomish River. But she saw it in salt water just below (south of) the mouth. KING-5 The outlook is not good for a gray whale swimming at the mouth of the Snohomish River in Everett on Saturday. Boater Jake Jacobson said he's been watching the whale for a few days. Local whale researchers confirm several sightings of a gray whale near the Everett Marina. A whale expert with Cascadia Research tells KING 5 the gray whale is extremely emaciated. Marine experts have no plans to try to move the whale. The researcher says in its extremely poor nutritional state, there is very little they can do. Everett's Marine Patrol watched the whale all morning. "It just surfaces real slow, rolls back down, goes down very, very slow and several times its just sat on the top of water as it doesn't have any energy and doesn't want to go anywhere," said Jim Pulley with the Everett Police Dept. Marine Patrol. The Marine Patrol is concerned that some boaters might get too close and harass or stress the whale. "The problem is that we want to ensure the safety of the whale itself, it appears to be in some sort of distress, its not acting like a healthy whale," said Sgt. Robert Goetz. Cascadia Research says so far this year, six dead gray whales have washed up on Washington's coast. All the whales appeared to be thin and undernourished, which is a common cause of death during their long migration. Experts say it is not unusual to have five to 10 whales die during the spring migration.

Homeland Security Sec. requested federal help for Arizona border

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano aka Incompetano spoke for Arozona as its governor requesting help from the federal government. Because it was not protecting the US border in Arizona. Here is her letter:
Date: March 11, 2008
"... [r]eal solutions to fix our broken borders cannot wait that long. Human and drug smuggling rings continue to thrive in Arizona, crossing our border and using our cities as major hubs to transport crosser throughout the country. While we wait for real progress on the "virtual fence," border communities in Arizona will continue to be strained by the millions of dollars in costs they must absorb due to the state of border security." .... Yours very truly, Janet Napolitano Governor
Greta at Fox News comments: In reading the above letter, would you not think DHS Napolitano would be Arizona's biggest champion in Washington? Would you not think she, of all people, would understand the frustration in Arizona? Don't you think she would be pushing her boss, President Obama, to help Arizona? and get President Obama to push Congress to help this state? Instead DHS Napolitano had to recently embarrassingly admit that she did not read the Arizona illegal immigration law. And before you get all whooped up about whether the Arizona statute is constitutional or not, that is not the issue. The statute is a cry for help and the current fight over it a distraction. The issue is the FAILURE of the federal government to help the STATE of ARIZONA. The statue, while probably unconstitutional for trying to set immigration policy in contravention of our Constitution, is a cry for help -- one that has been utterly ignore. [PS if you think that is the ONLY letter we have from then Gov Napolitano, you are dead wrong. I just finished studying a bunch of her letters pleading the case for Arizona when she was Governor. Tune in tonight to ON THE RECORD at 10pm.]

Getting good information on climate change - the Sun

Algore was so successful at shutting down debate among climate scientists that those who have data that didn't fit were afraid to speak with very few exceptions. Funding is life blood in research; they knew they would lose it. The situation has greatly improved. Probably due to a combination of Algore overdoing it, the in-your-face nonsense of him receiving the Nobel Prize, and the blow out of the emails between the East Anglia University cabal of Phil Jones and fellow travelers Michael Mann of Penn State and others. Lawrence Solomon at National Post's (Canada) Full Comment blog: Four years ago, when I first started profiling scientists who were global warming skeptics, I soon learned two things: Solar scientists were overwhelmingly skeptical that humans caused climate change and, overwhelmingly, they were reluctant to go public with their views. Often, they refused to be quoted at all, saying they feared for their funding, or they feared other recriminations from climate scientists in the doomsayer camp. When the skeptics agreed to be quoted at all, they often hedged their statements, to give themselves wiggle room if accused of being a global warming denier. Scant few were outspoken about their skepticism. No longer. Scientists, and especially solar scientists, are becoming assertive. Maybe their newfound confidence stems from the Climategate emails, which cast doomsayer-scientists as frauds and diminished their standing within academia. Maybe their confidence stems from the avalanche of errors recently found in the reports of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, destroying its reputation as a gold standard in climate science. Maybe the solar scientists are becoming assertive because the public no longer buys the doomsayer thesis, as seen in public opinion polls throughout the developed world. Whatever it was, solar scientists are increasingly conveying a clear message on the chief cause of climate change: It’s the Sun, Stupid. Jeff Kuhn, a rising star at the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy, is one of the most recent scientists to go public, revealing in press releases this month that solar scientists worldwide are on a mission to show that the Sun drives Earth’s climate. “As a scientist who knows the data, I simply can’t accept [the claim that man plays a dominant role in Earth’s climate],” he states. Kuhn’s team, which includes solar scientists from Stanford University and Brazil as well as from his own institute, last week announced a startling breakthrough — evidence that the Sun does not change much in size, as had previously been believed. This week, in announcing the award of a ¤60,000 Humboldt Prize for Kuhn’s solar excellence, his institute issued a release stating that its research into sunspots “may ultimately help us predict how and when a changing sun affects Earth’s climate.” Earlier this month, the link between solar activity and climate made headlines throughout Europe after space scientists from the U.K., Germany and South Korea linked the recent paucity of sunspots to the cold weather that Europe has been experiencing. This period of spotlessness, the scientists predicted in a study published in Environmental Research Letters, could augur a repeat of winters comparable to those of the Little Ice Age in the 1600s, during which the Sun was often free of sunspots. By comparing temperatures in Europe since 1659 to highs and lows in solar activity in the same years, the scientists discovered that low solar activity generally corresponded to cold winters. Could this centuries-long link between the Sun and Earth’s climate have been a matter of chance? “There is less than a 1% probability that the result was obtained by chance,” asserts Mike Lockwood of the University of Reading in the U.K., the study’s lead author. [Backup link] Solar scientists widely consider the link between the Sun and Earth’s climate incontrovertible. When bodies such the IPCC dismiss solar science’s contribution to understanding Earth’s climate out of hand, solar scientists no longer sit on their hands. Danish scientist Henrik Svensmark of the Danish National Space Institute stated that the IPCC was “probably totally wrong” to dismiss the significance of the sun, which in 2009 would likely have the most spotless days in a century. As for claims from the IPCC and other global warming doomsayers who argue that periods of extreme heat or cold were regional in scope, not global, Svensmark cites the Medieval Warm Period, a prosperous period of very high solar activity around the year 1000: “It was a time when frosts in May were almost unknown — a matter of great importance for a good harvest. Vikings settled in Greenland and explored the coast of North America. On the whole it was a good time. For example, China’s population doubled in this period.” The Medieval Warm Period, many solar scientists believe, was warmer than today, and the Roman Warm Period, around the time of Christ, was warmer still. Compelling new evidence to support his view came just in March from the Saskatchewan Isotope Laboratory at the University of Saskatchewan and Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado. In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, the authors for the first time document seasonal temperature variations in the North Atlantic over a 2,000-year period, from 360 BC to about 1660 AD. Their technique — involving measurements of oxygen and carbon isotopes captured in mollusk shells — confirmed that the Roman Period was the warmest in the past two millennia. Among solar scientists, there are a great many theories about how the Sun influences climate. Some will especially point to sunspots, others to the Sun’s magnetic field, others still to the Sun’s influence on cosmic rays which, in turn, affect cloud cover. There is as yet no answer to how the Sun affects Earth’s climate. All that now seems sure is that the Sun does play an outsized role and that the Big Chill on freedom of expression that scientists once faced when discussing global warming is becoming a Big Thaw. [end of quote]

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Boss Pelosi's Congress: Paygo is a scam

From the subscription only Wall Street Journal Political Diary provided by Sound Politics reader "Paddy Wagon." "The Paygo Con A day after beating incumbent Arlen Specter in a Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary contest, Rep. Joe Sestak announced that he would make "enforcement of the pay-as-you-go budget rules" a priority if he wins in November. Good luck to him. Pay-as-you-go, or paygo, rules require that new entitlement spending and new tax cuts must be paid for dollar-for-dollar with entitlement spending cuts or tax increases. As Paul Ryan, the ranking Republican member of the House Budget Committee has noted, the Democrats under Speaker Nancy Pelosi "have violated pay-as-you-go rules by nearly $1 trillion" over the past three years. And they're not done. In the coming weeks, say Congressional Republicans, we should expect some $300 billion of expenditures that Democrats will declare "emergency spending" and thus do not have to be offset by other spending cuts. The list includes $60 billion for a military supplemental spending bill; $23 billion for education; and $170 billion for jobless and other welfare benefits. All said, the deficit could climb to $1.7 trillion from the current record high $1.4 trillion. "I really can't think of the last time the Democrats paid for anything they want to spend money on," Mr. Ryan grumbles. The reality is that paygo is designed to stop tax cuts rather than check spending, which is why Democrats will soon return to singing its praises. Before the end of the year, look for Republicans to push for a continuation of the Bush tax cuts. And look for Democrats to insist they must be paid for. -- Stephen Moore"

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Everybody draw Mohammed day - May 20

Today is Everybody Draw Mohammed Day. It was the idea of Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris. After Comedy Central cut a portion of a South Park episode following a death threat from a radical Muslim group, Norris wanted to counter the fear. She wanted to spread the threat. She has declared May 20th "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day." My Northwest Molly Norris's cartoon at The Stranger. Is the threat real? From three days ago: Lars Vilks, the Swedish cartoonist who drew the cartoon that was used in the fabricated outrage in Denmark is in hiding after constant death threats. He says there was an arson attempt against his home in Nyhamnslage, Sweden. Yahoo News via Hot Air

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

ObamaCare Public option is alive and well and hidden. Updated

Update at bottom. Boss Pelosi told her Democrat pawns that Congress had to pass ObamaCare for them to find out what's in it. And - surprise - we keep finding more booby traps in it. She and Honorable Harry Reid put the Congressional Budget Office in a corner so it had to release a beneficial cost estimate which everyone knew was wrong; but they have to do the Chairman's bidding. Now we have learned, via the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, that it will not reduce, but will increase, federal spending on health care by $311 billion over its first ten years. Also, Obama promised you would be able to keep your insurance if you like it. He didn't make it clear that you can keep it for about ten minutes, then ObamaCare would suck you in. The Demos made a big show of dropping the "public option" of government-run coverage. They even had a mock fight over it. Gone, right? Gotcha! Washington Examiner
... The truth is the public option is alive and well, residing in Section 1334, pages 97-100, of the new health care law. That section gives the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — which presently manages the federal civil service — new responsibilities: establishing and running two entirely new government health insurance programs to compete directly with private insurance companies in every state with coverage for people outside of government. Quoting the new law, former OPM director Donald Devine notes that it makes the OPM boss a health care czar, with power to set “‘profit margin premiums and other such terms and conditions of coverage as are in the interest of enrollees in such plans.’ That’s open-ended. You can do anything.” Dan Blair, another former OPM director, calls the new program “nothing but a placeholder for the public option.” Indeed, the OPM head is also given the authority to “appoint as many employees” as needed to run the program, and to spend “such sums as may be necessary” to establish and administer it.
And Boss Pelosi promised to be open and transparent....
As with so much else, Obama and the Democrats did this behind closed doors. They held no public hearings on it and invited no public testimony to estimate its costs or explain its effect on OPM in its traditional role of managing the civil service.
Update 5/21: A reader at Sound Politics provided the list of all the tax increases in ObamaCare passed in March (not sourced; unconfirmed):
A 40% tax on health insurance plans exceeding determined levels. Those levels are projected for 2013 to be $8,500 for self only and $23,000 for any other level. An increase from 10% to 20% on taxes of money in a health savings account not used for qualified medical expenses. For Archer medical savings accounts, an increase from 15% to 20%. A $50,000 tax on hospital organizations, which fail to meet described quality requirements. A fee based upon the sales of pharmaceutical companies in relation to the total sale of such pharmaceutical products to the public. Medical device manufacturers must pay a fee in relation to the sales of their product in the marketplace and the total sales of devices. A fee applied to all health insurance providers based upon net premiums and any third party fees associated with the administration of those programs. High income tax payers, making on a joint return over $250,000 and a standard return over $200,000, are required to pay an additional 0.5% of wages. This applies to both self-employed, and regularly employed individuals. A 1% tax increase for individuals making between $350,000 and $500,000. A 1.5% tax increase for individuals making between $500,000 and $1 million. A 5.4% increase for individuals making more than $1 million. A tax of 5% is levied upon the am mount paid for any cosmetic surgery. This does not include the need for such surgeries created by trauma or a disfiguring disease. If the tax is not collected by that professional completing the procedure, their business is still liable for the requirement.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Arizona offers to cut off electricity to LA

If LA will have nothing to do with Arizona why do they want the power generated there? It's about 25% of LA's power. An official of the Arizona Corporation Commission is offering to help LA be pure by cutting off the electricity. Hot Air

Kerry-Lieberman is a cruel joke

Junior scientists in the Senate. "Hey. We are scared by global warming. So let's try something. It just might work. It will cost billions and cost a lot of people their jobs. And other countries will continue their emissions. But we will feel good. And no one will measure our results." That's John Kerry (did you know he fought in Viet Nam?) and Joe Lieberman ("watch me backtrack on everything I have stood for for years in the next three weeks, because AlGore chose me!") Wash Examiner
Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., have managed to write a cap-and-trade energy bill that should be greeted with guffaws from both believers and skeptics of man-made global warming. At a cost of billions of dollars and millions of jobs across America, the proposal would produce virtually no reduction in global temperatures even after being in force for decades. Using the MAGICC/SCENGEN climate model originally developed for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and assuming no other nation adopts the same measure, climate researcher Paul Knappenberger found that Kerry-Lieberman would reduce the average global temperature 0.077 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050, compared with what it would be if the bill were not adopted. That is one-fifth of one degree, which, as Knappenberger notes on the MasterResource blog, is a "scientifically meaningless reduction." One problem for Kerry-Lieberman is that China, India and the rest of the developing world show no inclination to join the United States to achieve carbon emissions reductions of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, 42 percent below by 2030, and 83 percent below by 2050. If anything, China is headed rapidly in the opposite direction, building hundreds of new coal-fired power plants in recent years and generating two-thirds of its electricity from the most emissions-intense fuel. China gives lip service to carbon reduction, to be sure, but it keeps building new power plants. China is also moving aggressively to increase its access to oil and natural gas, striking deals recently with Venezuela and Cuba, with the latter for exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico. The other problem for Kerry-Lieberman is that its minuscule temperature reduction comes at immense cost. The Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis found in an econometric model analysis that between 2012 and 2035, 1.1 million more jobs would be lost than would be the case without the measure's adoption. Just in the first decade, unemployment would increase by .5 percent, according to the Brookings Institution. Even after accounting for the creation of "green jobs," a study for the National Black Chamber of Commerce projected a loss of as many as 2.7 million jobs by 2030. In addition, gas prices at the pump and monthly utility bills for electricity would, in President Obama's own words, "necessarily skyrocket," while the cost of all manufactured and agricultural products would also rise sharply. Such costs with essentially no return is a bad joke, but neither global warming proponents nor skeptics are laughing. ...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Greece has to end ObamaCare

Greece has to make some basic changes in order to get a bailout from the IMF - International Monetary Fund. Greece has to cut back on government control of health care and put it back in the marketplace. NY Times
Racing to secure financial aid and avoid a debt default, the Greek government has agreed to austerity measures totaling 24 billion euros (about $32 billion) that will include cutting some workers’ pay and some public sector jobs as well as opening up parts of the economy, Greek officials said Friday. A letter of intent with the International Monetary Fund was mostly complete, according to one government official, who declined to be identified because of the confidential nature of the discussions. A deal could be announced by Sunday, this official said.
The letter of intent is "The Plan." Look what The Plan includes:
Another reform high on the list is removing the state from the marketplace in crucial sectors like health care, transportation and energy and allowing private investment. Economists say that the liberalization of trucking routes — where a trucking license can cost up to $90,000 — and the health care industry would help bring down prices in these areas, which are among the highest in Europe.
Yes. Cut out Greece's ObamaCare. The New York Times reports it. Must be unsupervised reporters. At the very same time Obama is pushing hard and fast to get the US to emulate Greece. More government in everything. More jobs for unions. Government control of health care aka ObamaCare. We can see where that leads. Greece is broke. Obama is taking us to the same desperate situation. Via IBD

Friday, May 14, 2010

Gregoire gambit to save Senator Patty?

Who would benefit from Christine Gregoire departing Washington for D.C? Political analysis from Evan at NW Digest
In the speculation about whether Gov. Chris Gregoire may be headed to Washington, D.C. at some point in the near future (to replace Elena Kagan as Solicitor General, so the rumor goes), it’s useful to analyze who benefits from such speculation. As the GOP’s former party chairman Chris Vance alludes, the woman who most benefits from all this is not Gregoire, it’s Patty Murray. Point 1: Citing unnamed sources inside Washington’s congressional delegation, National Journal blew up the story on Hotline. Perhaps the Democratic White House and Congressional grapevines are closer than most imagine, in which case Hotline’s source could be any Democratic aide in Congress. But, if Gregoire were in line for a high-level slot in the Administration, such as Solicitor General, that would likely need Senate-approval. Which makes it more likely that if the Congressional aide learned about Gregoire being on a “short list” not by chance but in the normal course of Congressional business, the staffer is on the Senate side. Point 2: The first “whispers” reportedly came from Olympia, at least according to Political Buzz. So it could be this is all the result of a chatty press corps, wanting to drum up headlines to sell more papers and fill blog space. This does seem to be where the rumor started smoldering before catching fire in the National Journal. From the Tacoma News Tribune: “And why not combine the spring’s most-played political parlor game with this one. Would Dino Rossi stop considering a run for the U.S. Senate and start wrestling with yet-another run for governor? Would the state have to delay the filing period to give him more time to decide?” [end quote] Point 3: Democratic Party Chair Dwight Pelz doesn’t seem to bothered by this all. Pelz’s comms shop even tweeted a helpful “timeline for picking a replacement” for Gregoire, followed by a tweet with a comment from Pelz that he was pretty sure “[Rossi]‘d rather be Governor than Senator.” For a Party Chair who is likely to be on defense in so many races as it is, to have such eagerness for Gregoire potentially leaving town, may bespeak an ulterior motive (or a masochistic personality). Maybe Pelz is indeed eager to try his hand at playing Kingmaker? ... So, who then ultimately is fueling from [sic] all this speculation — and who benefits the most? On both counts, it’s probably one very nervous U.S. Senator, who doesn’t want the Republican’s top recruit, two-time Gregoire challenger Dino Rossi, getting into the race against her. Recall, a source, most likely from the Senate side, leaked the information. The State Party Chair is either eager for a primary battle, thinks he can play Kingmaker, or is faithfully following the Senator’s song sheet.

Leadership - watch this

In very liberal New Jersey they elected a conservative Republican. Gov. Christie is not playing along with "Let's just be nice while robbing the taxpayers." American Thinker - watch the video. He says he is going to do what he promised to do - cut spending and taxes - rather than be nice.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Supreme Court nominee knowingly violated federal law

Havard Law School Dean Elena Kagan kicked military recruiters off campus. She knowingly violated federal law. As law-school dean surely she knew the applicable law, known as the Solomon amendment. Didn't she? CNS News
... But Rotunda, who is now a law professor at Chapman University Law School in Southern California, said Kagan did something more than simply disagree with the military over its policy regarding homosexuals -- she refused to follow the law, which required her make room for military recruiters. “(I)t wasn’t just a policy – it was a federal law,” Rotunda said. “And when she disagreed with federal law, she just simply decided not to follow it. ...
The case went to the Supreme Court. How did Dean Kagan fare there? First, she admitted guilt:
Kagan acknowledged in her legal brief that she was deliberately ignoring the fact that the law was in effect..
And she lost big:
And the Supreme Court unanimously found that the law was constitutional, and there was no reason to keep recruiters off of law school grounds." ... In a unanimous, 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Solomon Amendment was constitutional, and was enforceable on universities that received federal funds.
Why give a life-time appointment to someone who follows the law only when she finds it convenient?

They took it all

I received my first Social Security check Wednesday. I paid into the tax for 49 years, but they took every penny I and my employer paid. I had my first "contributions" in 1961; the last in 2009. After starting full-time work in 1968 I paid the maximum in 1969 and in 2009 and about 3/4 of the years in between. Senator Patty Murray, Senator Maria Cantwell and Representative Jim McDermott spent every penny. They don't have the common sense to say "The federal budget will have to start sending checks to this guy; we had better save at least some of it." If I had put all that money into my 401(k) I could have the same benefit for a long time without costing the taxpayers a penny this year. I need to do the calculation. I have the record of every penny I paid in. 49 years of work: They took it all and spent it and then started borrowing. Now they are going to raise taxes and borrow to pay me.

The support for Arizona enforcing immigration law is broad

Two major polls found the same thing: A strong majority of Americans favor enforcing current immigration law that Arizona is doing. It required a new law to enforce the old ones, for some reason. McClatchy-Ipsos and Pew found the same thing. Here is McClatchy's press release:
A strong majority of Americans support Arizona's controversial new immigration law and would back similar laws in their own states, a new McClatchy-Ipsos poll found. Sixty-one percent of Americans — and 64 percent of registered voters — said they favored the law in a survey of 1,016 adults conducted May 6-9. Strikingly, nearly half of Democrats like the law, under which local law enforcement officers are tasked with verifying people's immigration status if they suspect them of being in the country illegally. While the Democratic Party generally is regarded as more sympathetic to illegal immigrants' plights, 46 percent of Democrats said they favored the law for Arizona and 49 percent said they'd favor the law's passage in their own states. More than 8 in 10 Republicans and 54 percent of independents favor the law. In addition, about 69 percent of Americans said they wouldn't mind if police officers stopped them to ask for proof of their citizenship or legal rights to be in the country; about 29 percent would mind, considering it a violation of their rights; and about 3 percent were unsure. ...
Did you notice? Nearly half of Democrats support the law. And Pew Research Center for the People & the Press:
Fully 73% say they approve of requiring people to produce documents verifying their legal status if police ask for them. Two-thirds (67%) approve of allowing police to detain anyone who cannot verify their legal status, while 62% approve of allowing police to question people they think may be in the country illegally. After being asked about the law's provisions, 59% say that, considering everything, they approve of Arizona's new illegal immigration law while 32% disapprove. ...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Repeal ObamaCare - Progress

ObamaCare has been unpopular from long before it was passed. The Demos said that when it passed opinion would turn, but it has not. Opposition has been increasing as we learn that major private employers find its cost will break them - unless they cancel their employees' health insurace. Recently - AT&T has announced the cost it is incurring. MarketWatch
AT&T on Friday said it will record a $1 billion non-cash expense in the first quarter related to the newly passed health-care law, joining a growing list of large U.S. companies. The AT&T (T 25.62, -0.02, -0.08%) write-down is the largest reported so far. Caterpillar (CAT 67.78, +1.71, +2.59%) this week recorded a $100 million charge in the first quarter and Deere & Co. (DE 60.69, +1.23, +2.07%) said it will report a one-time $150 million expense. See previous story on industries that say warn health reform will cost them. Yet companies that still offer retiree drug benefits, mostly older industrial concerns or those with unionized employees, say the end of the deduction could force them to alter their benefit plans. In other words, they might curtail or even cancel them. "As a result of this legislation, including the additional tax burden, AT&T will be evaluating prospective changes to the active and retiree health care benefits offered by the company," AT&T said in a filing with the government on Friday.
Jeffrey Anderson in Weekly Standard says that strong negative public opinion makes repeal possible:
[Opposition] has risen to 19 points (56 to 37) -- and to 28 points among independents (60 to 32 percent). Independents actually favor repeal by more than Democrats oppose it (34 percent of Democrats support repeal, while 58 percent oppose it).

US opposition to US energy independence

Technology is changing the landscape. Our supply of naturals gas is skyrocketing due to new methods that unlock natural gas from shale deposits. It will be enough to make the US independent of other sources; and ourside this Russia and Iran will be the new cartel of gas supply.

So are the green people who call for energy independence jumping for joy? No. Again they fight tooth and nail against what they claim is the goal

Ed Lasky - Am Thinker

... Yet, liberals in Congress and Obama's EPA are undertaking steps to stop this revolution in its steps by conjuring up absurd and overstated concerns regarding the environmental risks of fracking: the technique pioneered and developed in America to liberate this gas from our shale.

This Wall Street Journal article touches upon one of the reasons why: the clean energy cronies of the Democratic Party don't like the competition. With the advent of the Democratic majority in Congress and Obama in the White House pals of theirs in the green energy industry have been the beneficiaries of billions in taxpayer money. George Soros - the sugar daddy of the Democrats - has announced plans to put up to a billion dollars in "renewable" fuels. Al Gore is in line to become the world's first carbon billionaire. The list goes on. Yet shale gas can put an end to their party. Amy Myers Jaffe, an energy expert , writes:
I have been studying the energy markets for 30 years, and I am convinced that shale gas will revolutionize the industry-and change the world-in the coming decades. It will prevent the rise of any new cartels. It will alter geopolitics. And it will slow the transition to renewable energy.

The shale boom also is likely to upend the economics of renewable energy. It may be a lot harder to persuade people to adopt green power that needs heavy subsidies when there's a cheap, plentiful fuel out there that's a lot cleaner than coal, even if gas isn't as politically popular as wind or solar.

One of the biggest effects of the shale boom will be to give Western and Chinese consumers fuel supplies close to home-thus scuttling a potential natural-gas cartel. Remember: Prior to the discovery of shale gas, huge declines were expected in domestic production in U.S., Canada and the North Sea. That meant an increasing reliance on foreign supplies-at a time when natural gas was becoming more important as a source of energy.

Even more troubling, most of those gas supplies were located in unstable regions. Two countries in particular had a stranglehold over supply: Russia and Iran. Before the shale discoveries, these nations were expected to account for more than half the world's known gas resources.

Russia made no secret about its desire to leverage its position and create a cartel of gas producers-a kind of latter-day OPEC. That seemed to set the stage for a repeat of the oil issues that have worried the world over the past 40 years.

But the political fallout from shale gas will do a lot more than stifle natural-gas cartels. It will throw world politics for a loop-putting some longtime troublemakers in their place and possibly bringing some rivals into the Western fold. [End of WSJ quote]

Now we know why this administration is hell bent on stopping at least one revolution: the shale gas one. The unleashing of these vast supplies would imperil the pie in the sky ventures that have been soaking up taxpayer money to enrich allies of the Democrats. After all, we should know by now, that the team in power could care less about taxpayers.

Governator is contemptible

Gov. Schwarzenegger of California is just very funny. His state is being overrun by illegals, but he found the real problem - Arizona enforcing immigration law. Atlanta J-C

Monday, May 10, 2010

Our Antarctica cruise on the map

I learned enough about the Google Maps API to map our January, 2010 trip to Antarctica via Argentina. Visit my Map Trial page to try it. Click on the balloons to see the location identifications. My ten daily journal entries are here.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Gregoire signs the irresponsible 2011 budget

That is the correct term for it - irresponsible. It is unsustainable and the people who wrote it knew it. They used a bunch of tricks - "borrowing" from dedicated funds, taking capital funds, which are for long-term projects, to use for current operations. And, most heroic of all, assuming that the very broke federal budget will pay. Yeah, get the people of Oregon and Georgia to pay for our Legislature ignoring the recession we have been in. Why the insistence to do almost no cutting in employment of public employees when every business has to cut? More evidence that the Democrats serve the public-employee unions. The Seattle Times says it is "utterly unsustainable:"
The budget pays for current programs by diverting money from long-term investments like water treatment and contributions to state employee pension funds. It relies on one-time federal money and on college tuition increases too large to be repeated indefinitely. It is a budget that keeps most programs alive and most state workers employed, while taking the least possible responsibility for the long term. Budgeting this way is a failure of leadership — of the governor and of House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle; Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane; Senate Ways & Means Chair Margarita Prentice, D-Renton, and others. In the Senate majority caucus only Rodney Tom, D-Medina and vice chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, opposed this budget. The budget is carried on the backs of the people, who are in the same recession the state is. We had our own burdens to carry. We have had to adjust, to reset our plans. The state, for the most part, has not. Officials talked about abolishing boards and commissions, and legislators zapped a few ones you've never heard of. But they didn't have the courage even to get rid of the state liquor stores. State agencies could have rid themselves of staff people — planners, office assistants and redundant managers. For the most part, they have not. The governor could have forced the reopening of state employee contracts, so that state employees would pay more than 12 percent of their health-insurance premiums — a share more like what private employees pay. There was a way to do this. The Legislature has just saddled the private sector with a tax increase of $800 million a year. ...
Christine Gregoire had the chance to provide the tough leadership to tackle the real problems. But she chose not to, or could not. She just pushed the mess onto next year, even though it is still her problem then. And she will have to work with the Republicans next year! Update: Christine Gregoire's approval rating is 35% at Survey USA.

Promising technology but can't manufacture in USA

What? An MIT professor invented an improved battery for use in plug-in hybrid cars. Very good. But the US doesn't have the capabilities required to set up manufacturing it. Very bad. He had to set up the initial plant in China to show that he could get it into production quickly enough. LA Times Yet-Ming Chiang relishes his 20-mile drive to work. His hybrid car gets more than 100 miles per gallon, recharges by plugging into a regular wall outlet and purrs so quietly that it's his favorite place for making important phone calls. But what makes Chiang's ordinary-looking beige Toyota Prius even more special is that it's powered by a breakthrough battery that he invented and is working to turn into the kind of high-tech, green, "Made in America" product that many see as the key to the nation's economic future. Safer and longer-lasting than conventional lithium-ion car batteries, the 52-year old MIT professor's invention packs 600 cells into a case the size of an airplane carry-on bag. His technology has transformed the batteries used in many cordless power tools. So why are Chiang and his company, A123 Systems, having trouble moving to full-scale commercial production and creating thousands of new American jobs with his better mousetrap? The answer is a story of the obstacles to a rebirth of U.S. manufacturing, and of the tantalizing possibilities if such a rebirth could be achieved. For Chiang's company has one foot in China and the other in the U.S., reflecting the forces that drive manufacturers overseas and the potential for a renaissance at home. The obstacles here are rooted in the sad history of manufacturing's decline in the United States: Despite the promise of Chiang's batteries, many on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley were incredulous when he and other leaders at A123 asked for capital to build factories in America — Asia, yes, but Michigan, why would you want to? Even more daunting, nearly all of the world's battery manufacturing industry is in Asia, where plants can be built faster and supplies and equipment are much easier to get than in the United States. These days, it's hard to find Americans who even know how to build a battery factory. That's why A123 had to give in and build its first plants in China, where the company could move into production quickly to show auto industry customers that it could deliver on future contracts.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Where is the Iceland volcano impacting? Updated

I found a site about presenting information in newspapers that shows several maps of the volcano's ash cloud. So you can see that Ireland is little impacted. France is not so bad. But northern Great Britain and all Scandinavia are clobbered. What's Next: Innovation in Newspapers Also at the same site: Are the civil aviation decision makers being far too cautious and closing too large a space? Link
Who’s in charge in this mess? Nobody except the Mandarins! Look below at the last map released by the British Met Office. As you can see, no ashes over the UK. So why the airplanes cannot fly?
Third, NY Times has a detailed map and the impact for each airport. This is Saturday's situation and it's much worse than Friday. New York Times Fourth, BBC has some maps.

May 7, 2010 Update

FlightGlobal has a news summary page

And current maps

* * Live WebCam of Eyjafjallajökull that is heat sensitive * * * At Schipol Airport in Amsterdam they are giving delayed passengers a very enthusiastic welcome. *

Now we know why the 787 is delayed

Now we know. The 787 is delayed by a shortage of mens' bathrooms at the Charleston, South Carolina, plant. Post and Courier
... The male workers spoke of lines that, at times, snake out of the restroom areas. "Sometimes, there's a waiting line, and the waiting line isn't insignificant," Tom McCarty [President of SPEEA, the engineers' union] said. Female employees reportedly have not faced a similar problem, likely because fewer women work at the plant, he said. McCarty said he requested a meeting with local Boeing officials, who initially agreed, but pushed back the sessions to a point where the groups never were able to get together. Boeing Charleston spokeswoman Candy Eslinger would not disclose the number of bathrooms on site, saying only that the facilities met local building code requirements. ...
I was just listening to an interview of P. J. O'Rourke on the radio... This is news, not humor.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Dereliction of Duty at Interior

While the whole world was worrying about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Assistant Interior Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Strickland was rafting down the Grand Canyon. It was a work trip. Yeh... Who cares about the fish in the Gulf? The Assistant Secretary responsible for fish? Change his pay to zero. ABC News

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Two Americas - Government workers increase their lead

Government workers used to be "civil servants." They earned less, but they kept at it because they were serving the public. Then their benefits started outpacing the private sector. Now their pay is growing much faster. Michael Mandel at his Mandel on Innovation and Growth blog compares public data on wages and benefits for state and local governments and finds that the public and private sectors were even in the first quarter of 2005. But the public sector pay and benefits grew so fast that it left the private sector in the dust. He is using inflation-adjusted data for wages and benefits. After five years the private sector had gained less than 1 per cent, the public at least 5 per cent. He says 5 per cent; when I eyeball the data I get a gain from 106.5 to 113, which is 6 per cent and from 106.5 to 107.5 for the privates. The gap is about 5 per cent after five years.
So what? State budget deficits: By Mandel's calculation if the publics were being paid the same as the privates the huge state deficits would be a small fraction their size. On $1 trillion in pay the delta (difference) of 5 per cent is $50 billion. The budget gap combining all 50 states in February was $55 billion for 2011. Subtract 50 bill from 55 bill and the problem is only 1/10th. The states hold their own destiny: They can reduce the increase in pay and benefits to the rate in private industry and improve their situations greatly. Government workers are no longer civil servants; they are being paid more and their pay and benefits combination is growing faster than for the taxpayers who are supporting them. Via WashACE. Click graphic to enlarge.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Tear up your card - AARP Not!

I have been staying away from the AARP, formerly known as as American Association of Retired People, but now it's just another meaningless acronym.... trivia aside... Why? Because AARP is for more government control in every situation. That is the pattern I have seen over the years. Their interest is not the senior citizen or retired person, but more government. Higher taxes, more regulation. AARP has an institutional conflict of interest. The organization makes big bucks by selling certain types of Medicare insurance. They lobby hard for their institutional self interest in whatever increases the AARP revenue. Senior citizens? Don't care about their needs. Indeed, now as we are learning more about the disaster of ObamaCare, AARP has moved on. They are fighting for regulation of Wall Street. Senior citizens? Who cares? So today I am joining: Association of Mature American Citizens
AMAC will be on your side when it comes to fighting high taxes, which are especially harmful to those living on a fixed income. You can count on AMAC to speak out to preserve the values that helped make America a great nation. AMAC is not afraid to say we still believe in God and Country. We are the new senior organization. And we need your help to grow. AMAC was developed for anyone age 50 or above, and to provide discounts not available anywhere else. Discounts for AMAC members include hotel and motel discounts at over 7,000 locations across the country, discounts to help you save on auto and homeowners insurance, and we’re working very hard to provide exclusive discounts in your local area. Stores, restaurants, and business in your town and neighborhood are joining the AMAC merchant network to provide you with substantial discounts of 10% or more on products and services. New merchants are joining every day (see our Frequently Asked Questions for more information on our local discounts efforts). Our local discount offerings have been a home run on Long Island and Westchester, New York, as well as central Florida. It is our goal to expand our local discounts program to every town in America.
It only costs $15 per year. And one big benefit of joining: every member they get is one person that AARP cannot claim to represent. I heard about it from Hugh Hewitt. Go to

Odd - Ten flavored Pepsis you won't see

Pepsi devises, introduces and advertises flavored versions of Pepsi - in other countries.

Pepsi Retro only in Mexico, Pepsi Ice Cream only in Russia, Pepsi Azuki only in Japan, Pepsi Samba in Australia and Spain, Pepsi Blue Hawaii only in Japan.

And for The Little Prince & Saint Exupery fans like me - Pepsi Baobab. The top looks like a tree? A baobab is a tree that grows in Africa.

Web Urbanist

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Democrats who don't like Dodd's Wall St. bailout bill

Frank Luntz is a big Demo pollster, which means he keeps an eye on trends. At Huffing Post he says the platitudes, then unloads:
But that doesn't suddenly equate to support for the legislation now being considered by the Senate. In exactly the same way that the public wanted healthcare reform, just not Obama's healthcare reform, they want something done to punish the perpetrators of the financial meltdown, but not at the expense of their own checking accounts -- or American economic freedom. The dirty secret of the Senate financial reform bill is that some of its biggest supporters work on Wall Street. Recipients of taxpayer bailout money have no concerns about the bill -- in fact, the CEOs of Citi and Goldman Sachs have publicly endorsed it, and several of the other big banks have expressed support. It keeps the "too big to fail" guarantees in place for another generation of financial services companies. But here's where it gets really interesting. The Democrats supporting the current legislation have assured an anxious electorate that whatever funds are used to create whatever regulatory scheme created will come from the banks, not the taxpayers. Let me emphasize that so that even casual readers will catch it: the Democrats promise that you won't pay for their legislation, banks will. Really? Since when have corporations ever paid taxes, fees or penalties? Employees end up paying in the form of lower salaries and benefits. Customers end up paying in the form of higher costs. And in this case, every account holder will be forced to pay higher fees on their checking account and savings account. That's you, my friendly reader.

Oregon Coast Astoria to Cannon Beach

We spent last Thursday night - a week ago - in Astoria, Oregon on our way to the Central coast of Oregon. Born, raised and living almost all my life in Washington, I had never been to Astoria before. Heard good things about it. We have been to Long Beach, WA, just a few miles away several times... just didn't get to Astoria.

Astoria is a working town with a lot of tourism, but a working town. The port is not a major source or destination of shipping, but all the Columbia River shipping comes by and very close! There are two sets of pilots - one for the River upstream and one just for the Columbia River Bar - and there are other river businesses - fishing, etc.

The Columbia River Bar is one of the worst in the world. The River is the second in the US by volume and flows in a single channel, not branching out in a delta like the Mississippi. And there is bad weather in the winter. The combination of massive fresh-water flow and weather is deadly.

There is an excellent museum - Columbia River Maritime Museum - which goes into everything about the River and its bar. History, Coast Guard, and everything! An excellent use of the a few hours and a few dollars.

From our hotel a mile east of downtown we could hear dozens of sea lions a few blocks away. They bark and shove each other constantly. All night - a bit quieter between 3 and 6 AM! Photo

We visited the Astoria Column and photographed the scenery from it, but didn't photograph the column itself. It sits at 595 feet above sea level, less than a mile from the tidal River and is 150 tall.

Driving down the northern coast we bypassed Seaside - everyone goes there - and stopped at Ecola State Park on the north edge of Cannon Beach. It has a great view point that's a short walk from the car. The "dog party" photo is on that trail. It shows what I call Canoso/Canosa tourist season. Canoso is the Spanish word for a gray-headed man/canosa female. The last week of April we saw this every where outside the weekends. Photo

Other photo - Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach in the distance from Ecola State Park.