Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Senator Patty is supporting me

I have no control over the ads that Google AdSense place on my blog. Today Senator Patty Murray is supporting me. Don't click on her ad. Instead go to Dino Rossi's site and see what he has to offer Washington voters.

Venture Capitalists say I-1098 would slow growth

The VC have organized opposition to Bill Gates, Sr.'s income tax. Techflash, quoting the VC group:
If enacted, 1098 would devastate long-term economic growth and competitiveness in Washington state by punishing owners and employees of small businesses. Further, the legislature cannot be trusted with an income tax structured like 1098. In just two years, legislators could apply this tax to all Washingtonians. Residents of our state understand fiscal responsibility and government priorities are important, but 1098 is the wrong approach. It must be stopped
Their website - Defeat 1098 The Washington Roundtable President Steve Mullin says I-1098 would hit entrepreneurs especially hard because many of them file taxes as S corporations. ... also Washington Wire

Senator Patty brags

She brags about being a career politician. I heard a clip on the radio to the effect: Someone else in this race wavered; he had to think about his family... he wavered, but I never wavered!" Sure she never wavered. Family? It's between her and them, but she says she never wavered. A politician for life will stay in the Senate until age 92, as we saw this week. She brags about ObamaCare: TNT
She said Democrats, by passing a health care overhaul and making other changes, have started the work of bringing change...
Her beloved ObamaCare has already proven to raise costs and lower the level of care. A majority of Americans favor repealing it. But it's top priority that they get control of your health care. She brags that she is a champion porker.
“So you know what I did? I went back and I got one of these earmarks,” she told the crowd.
Review: We call earmarks "pork" because they bypass the normal process of hearings and fund lower priority projects over the higher. After the hearings process sets the priorities and decides what will be funded powerful Senator Patty comes in and forces her pet project into the funding. How does she get her way? By making a deal of course. When she forces friend A's low priority project in, she cuts more deserving project B out. Or, more likely her preference, busts the budget. So when future Senator Dino Rossi says he won't seek earmarks he is not saying he won't fight to get Washington every dollar we have coming out of the federal budget. He is saying he will get funding by following the standard process of hearings, not last-second budget trades. And She is not in the top ten of porkers; she is eleventh - Seattle Times - Hat tip to Angie at Red County

Monday, June 28, 2010

Watch the oil spill

Lucianne has the live video and pseudo counter and just one link - Lucianne Oil Spill HQ Three Alabama newspapers together have an excellent site Oil Spill Gulf of Mexico 2010 .

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Demos refuse to do primary responsibility

It's a primary responsibility of Congress to write and pass the budget each year. But the Demo leadership in the House, where budgets must originate, say they will not do it this year. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced his bold lack of action this week. He said that Congress would pass a resolution calling for lower spending than Obama instead. That he can't do anything until Obama's fiscal commission reports in December. Uh, Mr. Hoyer, It's the budget for only one year. How does it help to wait six months until three months after the fiscal year has started? Politico There is no good reason and they know it. Last year's budget was $1.3 trillion in the red. What's next? They don't want to show how bad the budget situation is before the election. Tyler Durden at ZeroHedge.com observes that Obama's Director of OMB "Propeller head" Peter Orszag quit the day before the budget was to be released. He thinks it's for the same reason - the numbers are ugly. (Plus Orszag is desperately in favor of smashing the already broken promise of no tax increases for incomes less than $250k.) So ask Rep. Rick Larson and Rep. Jay Inslee and Rep. Adam Smith what they are doing instead of their responsibility to build the budget. And why.

Why I won't watch futbol

Soccor is going to be the next big spactator sport in the USA. Going to be... Real soon now... for the last 30 years. But it's not going to be. We Americans like real football; the English call it "gridiron." Where men slam into each other then get up and walk away like nothing happened. In futbol a prime skill is the fake injury. Someone brushes against you and you are trained in theatrics to writhe in pain as if you had been impaled. There are videos of fake injury after fake. Why is the US coach complaining about fake injuries? He must not be European enough. It's not for me and I don't think this FIFA World Cup will result in more futbol fans in the US.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Good for Colombia - Loss for Chavez

Hugo Chavez bullying backfires. Colombia elected a good president, who will work for the benefit of his people. That's bad for Dictator (almost) Hugo. Weekly Standard Chalk up another defeat for Hugo Chávez. Last weekend, Colombian voters delivered a landslide victory to conservative presidential candidate Juan Manuel Santos, who clobbered former Bogotá mayor Antanas Mockus by nearly 42 percentage points. Always eager to meddle in foreign elections, Chávez had strongly criticized Santos during the campaign, calling him a “threat to the region” and warning that “he could cause a war in this part of the world, upon instructions from the Yankees.” On April 25, the Venezuelan dictator said that, while Santos was “trying to dress as Little Red Riding Hood,” he was actually “a wolf sent to bomb and invade Ecuador,” referring to a 2008 Colombian military operation undertaken while Santos was serving as defense minister. (That operation crossed into Ecuadorean territory, but it resulted in the death of Raúl Reyes, a leading narco-terrorist who had long menaced Colombia by orchestrating kidnappings, bombings, and assassinations.) Chávez had hoped to dissuade Colombians from electing a conservative security hawk. Yet his remarks backfired completely. Prior to his clumsy intervention in the campaign, Santos and Mockus were running neck and neck in the polls. Some analysts even believed the Green Party candidate might secure a majority in the first round of voting on May 30, and thereby win election. But Chávez proved to be a “game-changer.” His attacks on Santos reminded Colombians of the radical autocracy that sits next door—a government that has sponsored drug-trafficking terrorists in Colombia, has massed troops along the border, and has repeatedly raised the possibility of war. Mockus also committed a disastrous unforced error on April 26, when he told a Colombian radio interviewer, “I admire Chávez,” noting that the Venezuelan leader was democratically elected. ...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Gregoire doesn't acknowledge WS Ferries problems

KING TV did a series on waste in the WSF system, but Christine Gregoire only heard about it; she didn't have time to watch it. Gregoire doesn't take time to watch the local news. Believe that!

Waste: Employees are paid triple time.

- Employees are paid to travel to and from work.

- Providing double housing for employees who work in the San Juans. And more...

Political decision making - Removing one of management's best negotiators because the unions asked without a substantial reason. Sound Politics

Does Gregoire, not watching any of the series, acknowledge these and other problems? No! Not when asked by KING-5 reporter Susannah Frame.

(Gregoire repeated that Ferries Director David Moseley and DOT Director Paula Hammond have saved the state $33 million in the past few years. Yes, I like that.)

Gregoire responded about if they found anything illegal... (Clever, Gregoire, move the goal posts.) To which Frame responded that the threshold for the public is waste.

Sources: MSNBC & Bryan Suits on KVI radioThe photo via MSNBC.

Cross posted at Economic Freedom.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

BP was Chu's and Obama's hero

BP was one of the players - on the Global Warming Alarmist team. But Chu and Obama turned against their ally. Big Government
While the White House really, really wants you believe that they have their boot on the neck of BP, it turns out that a key Administration official had his head inserted somewhere else just three short years ago. Do you think NOBEL LAUREATE (and Secretary of Energy) Steven Chu still thinks BP is going to help save the world? [video] This is one of the ironies of the disaster in the Gulf. From all available evidence, BP is as committed as anyone to the “comprehensive energy reform” agenda of the White House. No doubt this reflects both political realism and market opportunism on their part, but BP’s 2009 “Road Map for America’s Energy Future” could have been written by John Kerry. Higher energy prices, cap and trade? Bring it on, says BP. And this isn’t a recent shift on BP’s part. Here’s embattled BP Chairman Tony Hayward back in June 2007: From BP’s perspective, the evidence that climate change is happening, and that it is manmade, is mounting all the time. As the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has found, the evidence is almost overwhelming. We could wait until the science is 100% certain, but BP believes that, as an energy company, it has a duty to act pre-emptively. When you balance the likely impacts of not taking action against the real opportunities that exist to take action, it is difficult to believe that humanity will not move towards a solution to climate change… We need to ensure that the costs of emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are included in the price we pay for everything – whether it be a television, a train journey, or switching on a light – all should reflect the cost of emissions in their price. This can be achieved through a Cap and Trade system, taxation, or regulation.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A hike and a bear

In Whistler for the week we did a hike today to Cheakamus Lake. Pretty gradual ups and downs and not that long, less than five miles round trip - just right for us right now. The water volume at the outflow of the lake was amazing; at the end of the lake the flat water was moving at walking speed or faster. It's a huge volume of water flowing. (The write up at the link has a much longer distance, but the difference is walking the length of the lake!)

Cheakamus Lake and River are the valley immediately south of Whistler Mountain and Musical Ridge, I think it's called, with Piccolo Peak, Flute Peak and Oboe Peak, then Singing Pass.

Back in the car, driving down the road, two men were on the edge of the road with their cameras aimed at a tree near the road. I stopped and asked what they saw. They responded "Right there in the tree." I got out and looked: "huh?"

"A bear." When he moved lots of branches moved; couldn't see him yet. The foliage was very thick. Then he broke a large branch off. Then I saw him. In the shadows on the gray day he looked pure black. I got a good look, but by the time I got my IPhone out he was out of sight. Not that the IPhone could have gotten a good photo. I have never before seen a bear in a tree.

The photo is from Nova Scotia, found on the Internet.

Israel and Economic Freedom

George Gilder is one of my heros. He has a long track record of first-class analysis and excellent communication.

Gilder looked at what is going on the Israel today and found that they are getting a lot right for opportunity in economic growth. He has a new book out:

This is a trial with a link as an Amazon.com affiliate.

Pelosi pulls DISCLOSE act

Good news. The Demos can't handle making the playing field for companies, nonprofits and unions - the Citizens United case in the Supreme Court a few months ago ruled that Congress violated the Constitution in keeping them out. Heritage Foundation. So the Demos wrote the DISCLOSE Act. It severely limits companies from political involvement and many independent groups. Conveniently it protects the unions. They were going to vote on it Friday but they hit a wall. Boss Pelosi was twisting arms and making promises to get the majority she needs. But she let the NRA off - National Rifle Association! Then the fireworks! Hot Air Congress’ attempt to repair their attack on the First Amendment, overturned in the Citizens United decision earlier this year, has run off the rails thanks to the machination of its Democratic backers. Nancy Pelosi pulled the DISCLOSE Act from the House floor last night after the news of sleazy deals to exempt powerful organizations from the law started leaking to the media. Ironically, it was a rare partnership between the NRA and the Democrats that sealed the bill’s fate: Following a rebellion by two important factions of rank-and-file House Democrats, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has pulled a campaign-finance bill opposed by a broad coalition of special interest groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Pelosi and other Democratic leaders had scheduled a Friday vote on the DISCLOSE Act, a bill requiring special-interest groups to disclose their top donors if they choose to run TV ads or send out mass mailings in the final months of an election. The legislation is designed to roll back the controversial Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case, which overturned restrictions on corporate campaign activities. But after complaints from the conservative Blue Dogs and the Congressional Black Caucus, Pelosi was forced to pull the bill on Thursday night. Even the opponents of this bill operate more or less in opposition to each other. The CBC took offense to the exception carved out for the NRA, which had objected to the bill’s ability to block their advertising capability. The NRA threatened to launch a full-scale fight against the bill until Pelosi and her lieutenant Chris Van Hollen inserted language that would exempt the NRA from compliance.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

WS Ferries and political decision by Hammond

King 5 TV has done an excellent investigation into our poorly managed state ferry system. The latest in the series finds a strange political decision: State DOT director Hammond cares a little about taxpayers' dollars, but the unions come first. Look at this: WSF bureaucrats say good things:
As KING 5 rolled out one story after another, transportation leaders promised reform and a commitment to cutting costs wherever possible. "What we will look for is every opportunity (to save) because we’ve got to make the system more financially sustainable," said the Director of Ferries, David Moseley last month.
But exactly during this time, a strange thing happened to Capt. Pete Williams, the outspoken advocate of saving the ferry system money. Last month Secretary Hammond quietly took away one of Williams’ key responsibilities: representing the state at the bargaining table during union negotiations for the past six years. The union for the captains and mates – the MMP - complained Williams was rude and disrespectful. After that, Williams was out. The decision was made by Transportation Secretary Hammond. "I'm trying to get a respectful table put together so that we don't have people griping at each other, and when they walk in, hostility erupts. I'm not saying that that's what he did, but that's how it was being reported that there's this attitude against each other,” said Hammond. A key negotiator for the state - Ferry Operations Director Steve Rodgers - was blindsided and furious. KING-TV obtained internal e-mails he wrote to Director Moseley. "I stand in complete disagreement with the decision to remove (Pete). It was based on hearsay given to you by an adversarial party with ulterior motives." Rodgers didn’t stop there. In an e-mail sent to Williams, he said, "I have never witnessed anything but professional conduct from you, so I have no idea where or why this surfaces now." In fact, Governor Gregoire herself commended Williams on his expert work in negotiations in the past. She sent Williams a letter in 2006 thanking him for his "professionalism, perseverance, and creativity" in negotiating a union contract back then. Secretary Hammond couldn't come up with any specifics on exactly how Williams has been disrespectful. She admitted to KING 5 that she got input from the union, but didn’t consult with anyone on her own negotiating team.
Is this (A) fuzzy thinking by Hammond, (B) unimaginable management or (C) just playing to the unions? Answer: A, B and C. Plus business as usual for the Washington State Ferry bureaucracy. WSF has been found at fault in audit (P-I) after audit, well, the financial audits got better after 21 straight years. But mismanagement continues in not getting more boats built and on the water.

Do as Obama says not as he does

White House criticizes BP's Tony Hayward for attending a yacht race back home in the UK: Reuters But where was Obama? Playing golf, as he frequently does. Yahoo News
... Meanwhile, some critics were also upset that President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden played a round of golf Saturday near Washington, something they've done on other weekends since the spill.
Double standard? Of course. First you decide who is good and who is evil. Then everything Obama does is good. And everything his opponent does is evil. (The same source has some interesting news bits on the oil spill.)


We arrived in Whistler, BC, Canada yesterday for our annual visit. This is our twelfth year spending at least a week here - almost all in the summer. We love the summers here. There is lots to do. All services, including frequent, convenient bus service to other parts of the Whistler Village area.

We stay at Creekside on 2/3 of our visits, which is the site of the original gondola and the side of Whistler Mountain where most or all of the alpine skiing events in the 2010 Olympics took place. The finish line of the downhill races and others is literally across the street from Lake Placid Lodge where we stay. Creekside is around the mountain to the south side of Whistler Village. Creekside has a mini-village with stores, restaurants and a Starbucks with a view. But it's small. Much more goes on in the Village about 3 miles away.

We ride bikes on the paved Village Trails - a very extensive network that goes everywhere. We take the gondola to the top of Whistler or three chairlifts to the top of Blackcomb Mountain and hike. And hike below. Sometimes we do water sports, though last summer there was no rental of sailboats available; there is canoing and kayaking. There are enough people around that there are festivals and some free live music.

The photo: aerial shot of the bottom of the Dave Murray downhill course at Whistler Creekside. Click the image for a larger version.

There can no longer be an independent IG

Inspector General Gerald Walpin was getting too close to one of The One's protected law violators, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johson. So Obama summarily fired him, despite the law requiring 30 days notice to Congress. A US judge found a way to allow Obama to violate the law. How convenient. But it doesn't make sense. Washington Examiner:
A federal judge in Washington has dismissed the wrongful-termination lawsuit filed by Gerald Walpin, the AmeriCorps inspector general who was fired last year by President Obama. And not just dismissed; if the decision by U.S. District Judge Richard Roberts stands, in the future the White House will be able fire other inspectors general as it fired Walpin without fear of legal consequences. The law requires the president to give Congress 30 days’ notice, plus an explanation, before firing an inspector general, but Walpin was summarily dismissed by the White House without notice to Congress or explanation on June 10, 2009. At the time, Walpin was aggressively investigating misuse of AmeriCorps money by Sacramento, California mayor Kevin Johnson, a friend and political ally of President Obama. Walpin sued to get his old job back, arguing that he was unlawfully dismissed. Judge Roberts rejected Walpin’s claim by deciding that Walpin was not summarily fired, after all. Even though Walpin was placed on immediate administrative leave on June 10, his authority removed, denied access to his office, email, etc., Roberts says Walpin was not technically fired until later, after the White House had notified Congress. Therefore, the president did not violate the law in ousting Walpin.
So Obama can lock out an "independent" IG and prevent him from continuing his work. But he wasn't fired, the judge says, because he was put on paid leave. This grossly violates the purpose of having independent IGs. An independent IG will sometimes find things the "big boss" doesn't like. If he is independent you allow him to do that - to do his job. Obama would not allow Walpin to continue working when he found inconvenient facts. Obama violated the intent of the law and Judge Richard Roberts allowed him to. Big government just got more power. This will hurt all of us as we see our tax dollars going to powerful people who violate the conditions under which they get the grants.

Friday, June 18, 2010

FCC to regulate Internet despite law against

You have too much liberty. Obama wants his FCC to tighten your sharing of information on the Internet. They lost in court a couple of months ago. So they continue. CNS News
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted on Thursday to begin the formal process of bringing the Internet under greater federal control – a move sought by both President Barack Obama and FCC Chairnman Julius Genachowski--even though federal law calls for an Internet "unfettered by Federal or State regulation." This step comes after the federal D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in April rebuked the FCC in its attempt to enforce a controversial regulatory doctrine called Net Neutrality, which would allow the government to prevent private Internet providers from deciding which applications to allow on their networks. The court said that the FCC did not have the authority to prevent Comcast, specifically, from blocking certain peer-to-peer Web sites. The FCC is now trying to reclassify the Internet to broaden its authority over the Web. Currently, the FCC only has “ancillary” authority, meaning it can regulate Internet access only in the process of regulating another service that it has direct authority over, such as television or cable. The 3-2 party-line vote on Thursday at the FCC began the formal process of reclassifying the Internet as a telecommunications service instead of an information service – its current classification. This is necessary because, as an information service, the government has little power to regulate Internet networks. As a telecommunications service, such as a telephone network, the Internet would fall under a much broader regulatory scope – giving the government the power to enforce universal service requirements, making them pay into a federal universal service fund used to provide communications services to poor areas.
Of course the FCC covers their power grab with words about protecting consumers. And they promise forbearance - that they won't do anything heavy-handed - except for what they are doing now, in violation of the law. The minority help make it clear:
Robert McDowell, the commission’s longest-serving Republican member, said the commission should preserve the free Internet of today, adding that more Internet freedom would be in the public interest. “An open and freedom-enhancing Internet is what we have today,” McDowell said. McDowell also said that reclassifying the Internet was “unnecessary” and that the FCC should wait for Congress to grant it explicit authority over the Web, saying, “We are not Congress.” In fact, the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which gave the government no explicit authority to regulate Internet service, states: “It is the policy of the United States … to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet and other interactive computer services, unfettered by Federal or State regulation.”

Boeing giving big to Demo incumbents

Everyone wants the incumbents out - the Democrat incumbents - except Boeing and other large companies Business Week
While Americans may be eager to vote congressional lawmakers out of office, U.S. companies are pouring money into incumbents’ campaigns. And Democrats are the biggest beneficiaries. Democrats fighting to maintain control of the U.S. House are drawing funds from companies such as AT&T Inc., Boeing Co. and Honeywell International Inc. Their corporate political action committees are among the top donors to 31 Democratic incumbents seen by analysts as the most endangered this year, a review of Federal Election Commission records shows. ... Dallas-based AT&T gave $170,500 and Chicago-based Boeing contributed $95,500, according to FEC records through the first quarter of 2010. Overall, corporate PACs gave $5.2 million to the most vulnerable Democrats, compared with $366,000 to their Republican challengers. ... A Gallup Poll conducted May 24-25 found 60 percent of registered U.S. voters would rather support a House candidate who has never served in Congress, compared with 32 percent who favored a nominee with some congressional experience. That should translate to gains for Republicans, who hold 177 seats in the House and need 218 to take control.
Boeing is so used to playing the "pay to play" game that they give to Dinghy Harry Reid and Boss Pelosi without further thought. They might give directly to them, but every dollar to a Democrat helps them.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bill Gates, Sr. vs. Bill Gates, III on taxes

Bill Gates, the younger, says to donate your wealth which minimizes the taxes you pay. Bill Gates, the elder, says to pay more taxes. Pay less taxes vs. pay more taxes. Bill Gates, Sr. * has an initiative to reduce property taxes, I mean, to create a state income tax for you. But note that it has changed its number from I-1077 to I-1098. Sign it if you want to pay higher taxes. It won't hit you this year, but it will creep down and down until it does. After all, Christine Gregoire just can't cut spending one more dime. Gates, Sr., says the income tax won't hit people with income of less than $400,000 per couple or $200,000 per single without a vote of the people. But he knows that is not true, even if his initiative requires it. After two years the Legislature can change an initiative. But he says they wouldn't do a thing like that. Was he was conveniently asleep when they gutted I-960 this year? Meanwhile, Bill the younger encourages tax avoidance. It's funny he, Melinda and Buffett only talk about philanthropy, not taxes. Seattle Times
Investor Warren Buffett, who is ranked as the third richest person in the world, is donating most of his wealth to the Gates Foundation. Buffett, who pledged to give away more than 99 percent of his $47 billion fortune, was the main driver of the initiative, which has the support of a couple dozen billionaires, Stonesifer said. Buffett was inspired not by the rich but by the generosity of ordinary people who sacrifice more to contribute hard earned dollars to churches, schools and other organizations. The idea came out of a series of private dinners the Gateses and Buffett held in New York and the San Francisco Bay Area over the past year. They will invite people who take the pledge to meet at an annual event to share ideas. The potential for philanthropy is huge -- the United States alone has at least 400 billionaires with a net worth Forbes estimates at $1.2 trillion. If those billionaires gave the minimum pledge of half of their fortunes to charity, that would triple the current amount of charitable giving in the U.S. ... In his pledge letter today, Buffett describes how having too much wealth is a burden. "Too often, a vast collection of possessions ends up possessing its owner," he wrote. "Were we to use more than 1% of my claim checks on ourselves, neither our happiness nor our well-being would be enhanced." ... Washington state is home to six billionaires: Bill Gates, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Amazon.com Chief Executive Jeffrey Bezos, wireless entrepreneur Craig McCaw and Oakley sun glasses creator James Jannard, who lists his residence in the San Juan Islands. ...
* The father is reported as Sr., the son as III. It seems there is a missing generation. Or is the father really Jr.?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Share my map

I am investigating combining online maps with data. I am getting into using the basic tools, but that's programming and takes a lot of learning and experimenting. So for a small step I am using a nice tool, Share My Map.

Here is my own map of beach walks in the Seattle area. Seattle Beach Access at ShareMyMaps

Take a look. Then leave a comment either at the map or here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

We Con the World - video banned by YouTube

This is a takeoff on USA for Africa: We Are the World, an all-star recording in 1985. This is sung by the "peace activists" who armed themselves with daggers and steel pipes then attacked the IDF soldiers arriving on the Turkish shop two weeks ago. There is some video footage of the attack on the Turkish ship. It's at PJTV. If you like it consider a donation.

Bush gets better ratings than Obama

Yes, Bush is higher rated by the people of Louisiana than The One. This is devastating. Especially since it comes from left-leaning pollster PPP.
Our new Louisiana poll has a lot of data points to show how unhappy voters in the state are with Barack Obama’s handling of the oil spill but one perhaps sums it up better than anything else- a majority of voters there think George W. Bush did a better job with Katrina than Obama’s done dealing with the spill. 50% of voters in the state, even including 31% of Democrats, give Bush higher marks on that question compared to 35% who pick Obama. Overall only 32% of Louisianans approve of how Obama has handled the spill to 62% who disapprove. 34% of those polled say they approved of how Bush dealt with Katrina to 58% who disapproved. While the poll results indicate a lot of unhappiness with the President, ultimately BP is getting the largest amount of blame ... One thing the oil spill has not done is created a spike of opposition to offshore drilling in Louisiana. 77% of voters still support it with only 12% against. Only 31% say the spill has made them less inclined to be in favor of drilling while 42% say it hasn't made a difference to them and 28% say they're now stronger in their support. If there's any 'winner' in this unfortunate event it's Governor Bobby Jindal. 63% of voters approve of the job he's doing, the best PPP has found for any Senator or Governor so far in 2010. There's an even higher level of support, at 65%, for how he's handled the aftermath of the spill.
Via HotAir.com

Do as I say not as I do - AlGore

Albert Gore, Jr., demands full access to the oil spill to reporters - his blog. But he bars reporters from his speeches - 2008 & 2009. You just don't understand why his needs are different. Hat tip to Drudge.

Aerial battle over South Puget Sound

I witnessed a five-minute aerial battle Monday, June 14, over Case Inlet, a branch of Puget Sound west of Tacoma, Washington. I was lounging in the bright sunlight (suffering from an allergy attack) looking west across Case Inlet at our cabin on Key Peninsula - Lat/Lon = 47 14' 13" N, 122 49' 33" W. I heard the distinctive call of an osprey, a high, descending, long chirp, then the sound of air rushing over wings! Close in and less than 50 feet high the osprey was flying fast and turning, turning, turning, with a mature bald eagle in hot pursuit. The eagle would rush the osprey, the osprey would turn to avoid him. At first there were also two crows chasing the eagle. The osprey carried a fish in its talons, which is what the eagle wanted; the fish, not the osprey, is the eagle's prey. A mid-air robbery. They moved higher and farther away, as I wondered how this would end. I remembered to watch for the osprey's captured fish to drop and be grabbed by the eagle or hit the water. I didn't see that happen. It was a long battle; I am sure I saw four or five minutes of it. The eagle could accelerate to much faster than the osprey was flying, but the speed worked against him, because when the osprey turned the eagle would overshoot and be far off. After that long five-minute chase the eagle broke off and flew past me below 100 feet and descending. I saw the same battle between a bald eagle and osprey last summer, but it was much shorter. There are resident bald eagles in our area and the ospreys are summer residents. Photos from Everett Herald newspaper.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

ACORN is just a victim - Revising history

Watch the news on ACORN - Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. Don't forget that ACORN was caught red-handed on video condoning and offering to assist in the sex trafficking of underage girls multiple times at different field offices. In the remnants of ACORN they are planning to try to overcome history with a white washed version: ACORN as pure, innocent victim. Reports Matthew Vadim at BigJornalism
ACORN’s radical allies are now attempting to rewrite history to cast the organized crime syndicate as victim instead of as the prolific victimizer that it has been ever since it was created in 1970. ACORN online campaign director Nathan Henderson-James served notice in February that a propaganda effort was about to begin. “[T]here will be a fight over the narrative of ACORN’s demise,” he wrote to members of Townhouse, a discussion forum run by Matt Stoller, senior policy adviser to Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.). The other side wants “a narrative about the corruption of popular organizations and how they are simply vehicles for the personal enrichment and power fantasies of their top staff members while pushing public policies that destroy middle America.” Such a narrative must be fought, Henderson-James argued, because it “gives people pushing a pro-corporate agenda a way to tar progressives and even non-progressive Democrats running for office with the ACORN brush.” The effort was already underway when Henderson-James reached out to the leftist community. After ACORN’s national board expelled ACORN founder Wade Rathke for engineering an eight-year cover-up of a million dollar embezzlement, Rathke wrote a combination political memoir/manifesto called Citizen Wealth. More recently, Seeds of Change, an institutional hagiography of ACORN by true believer John Atlas was published. And now comes the “Cry Wolf” Project, a push to encourage academics to help spread more lies about the corrupt group. Heading the push is Peter Dreier, a politics professor and director of the urban and environmental policy program at Occidental College, alma mater of America’s Community Organizer-in-Chief.
For some real, detailed history - History Commons.

SUV kills two teens

The SUV is guilty according to the headline. How about the driver? Vodka bottle found in SUV that hit, killed 2 teens - Seattle Times

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Don't do it. The US is broke. Don't you know?

Don't they know the US is broke? Congress is busy spending other people's money. Borrowing to pay current expenses for government employees. It's wrong. Worse... It's foolish. Worse... it's downright stupid. STOP! Obama pleads for $50 billion in state, local aid - Washington Post
President Obama urged reluctant lawmakers Saturday to quickly approve nearly $50 billion in emergency aid to state and local governments, saying the money is needed to avoid "massive layoffs of teachers, police and firefighters" and to support the still-fragile economic recovery. In a letter to congressional leaders, Obama defended last year's huge economic stimulus package, saying it helped break the economy's free fall, but argued that more spending is urgent and unavoidable. "We must take these emergency measures," he wrote in an appeal aimed primarily at members of his own party. The letter comes as rising concern about the national debt is undermining congressional support for additional spending to bolster the economy. Many economists say more spending could help bring down persistently high unemployment, but with Republicans making an issue of the record deficits run up during the recession, many Democratic lawmakers are eager to turn off the stimulus tap. "I think there is spending fatigue," House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said recently. "It's tough in both houses to get votes."

No, we don't read bills in Congress

Don't feel bad about not reading the 1500 page bill, Congressmen and senators don't have time to read them. Bill Thomas, a former congressman now leading a deficit-reduction special commission, told Warren Buffett June 2.

Congress's ratings by the public are at all-time lows.

Weekly Standard

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Obama wants to help newspapers

Obama's desire to love newspapers has hit a wall of public opinion - public opposition. Obama wants to "help" newspapers stay in business. With his help they might stay in business, but they could not stay independent. Of course Obama's FCC says "we don't want to interfere" with the independence of the press. But it is inevitable when the government helps. And a Rasmussen poll of the public found just that. Overwhelmingly people thought government help would mean influencing the press. And the public placed independence of the press above the survival of news printed on cheap paper. Mark Tapscott at Washington Examiner:
More devastating news today from Rasmussen Reports for the FTC's "Reinventing Journalism" project, as fully 85 percent of the respondents to a national telephone survey say protecting freedom of the press is more important than saving existing newspapers. Perhaps even more worrisome for the FTC is the fact that only 19 percent of the respondents think it's appropriate for the government to be involved in efforts to prop up existing newspapers, according to Rasmussen. The FTC's "Reinventing Journalism" project is only at the staff discussion level for now, but there is clearly an effort supported by President Obama to mount some kind of bailout for the newspaper industry similar to those previously conducted by the administration in taking over GM and Chrysler, as well as multiple Wall Street firms, most of the mortgage industry and key elements of the insurance industry. See also my column from last week warning my colleagues in the journalism world that there is no way the federal government can be involved in funding or otherwise "saving" newspapers that won't eventually result in major media outlets becoming tools of government propaganda. Claims by FTC officials and their supporters in the media and academic communities that government aid won't lead to government control of news reporting face an uphill battle with the public, according to Rasmussen, too: "Sixty-four percent (64%) of adults say it is at least somewhat likely that if the government provides funding for newspapers to hire journalists, the government will then place limits on what those journalists can cover. That includes 41% who believe it is Very Likely."
6/11/10: I added the link to Tapscott's story.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Are you smarter than a fifth grader?

Guess who gets the better grade on basic literacy in economics - liberals or conservatives? WSJ Who is better informed about the policy choices facing the country—liberals, conservatives or libertarians? According to a Zogby International survey that I write about in the May issue of Econ Journal Watch, the answer is unequivocal: The left flunks Econ 101. Zogby researcher Zeljka Buturovic and I considered the 4,835 respondents' (all American adults) answers to eight survey questions about basic economics. We also asked the respondents about their political leanings: progressive/very liberal; liberal; moderate; conservative; very conservative; and libertarian. Rather than focusing on whether respondents answered a question correctly, we instead looked at whether they answered incorrectly. A response was counted as incorrect only if it was flatly unenlightened. Consider one of the economic propositions in the December 2008 poll: "Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable." People were asked if they: 1) strongly agree; 2) somewhat agree; 3) somewhat disagree; 4) strongly disagree; 5) are not sure. Basic economics acknowledges that whatever redeeming features a restriction may have, it increases the cost of production and exchange, making goods and services less affordable. There may be exceptions to the general case, but they would be atypical. Therefore, we counted as incorrect responses of "somewhat disagree" and "strongly disagree." This treatment gives leeway for those who think the question is ambiguous or half right and half wrong. They would likely answer "not sure," which we do not count as incorrect. In this case, percentage of conservatives answering incorrectly was 22.3%, very conservatives 17.6% and libertarians 15.7%. But the percentage of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly was 67.6% and liberals 60.1%. The pattern was not an anomaly. The other questions were: 1) Mandatory licensing of professional services increases the prices of those services (unenlightened answer: disagree). 2) Overall, the standard of living is higher today than it was 30 years ago (unenlightened answer: disagree). 3) Rent control leads to housing shortages (unenlightened answer: disagree). 4) A company with the largest market share is a monopoly (unenlightened answer: agree). 5) Third World workers working for American companies overseas are being exploited (unenlightened answer: agree). 6) Free trade leads to unemployment (unenlightened answer: agree). 7) Minimum wage laws raise unemployment (unenlightened answer: disagree). How did the six ideological groups do overall? Here they are, best to worst, with an average number of incorrect responses from 0 to 8: Very conservative, 1.30; Libertarian, 1.38; Conservative, 1.67; Moderate, 3.67; Liberal, 4.69; Progressive/very liberal, 5.26. Americans in the first three categories do reasonably well. But the left has trouble squaring economic thinking with their political psychology, morals and aesthetics. To be sure, none of the eight questions specifically challenge the political sensibilities of conservatives and libertarians. Still, not all of the eight questions are tied directly to left-wing concerns about inequality and redistribution. In particular, the questions about mandatory licensing, the standard of living, the definition of monopoly, and free trade do not specifically challenge leftist sensibilities. Yet on every question the left did much worse. On the monopoly question, the portion of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly (31%) was more than twice that of conservatives (13%) and more than four times that of libertarians (7%). On the question about living standards, the portion of progressive/very liberals answering incorrectly (61%) was more than four times that of conservatives (13%) and almost three times that of libertarians (21%). ... Mr. Klein is a professor of economics at George Mason University. This op-ed is based on an article published in the May 2010 issue of the journal he edits, Econ Journal Watch, a project sponsored by the American Institute for Economic Research. Thanks to Rick for type reading.

Dino leads Senator Patty

Dino has the lead. In The Washington Poll for the week of May 24, the week he entered, Dino Rossi lead Patty by 42% to 39%. He was in the news every day that week. That helps. But he just entered the race and is ahead. The Washington Poll Power Point (Pdf) Via Seattle Times Politics NW

Sunday, June 06, 2010

DIY U - revolution in higher education

Can't reform higher ed. It's too rich and entrenched. So let it sit fat and happy (for a while) and watch the sharp students go around it. But... but... but... that will hurt higher ed. They had it coming; they invited the end run by avoiding reality.

Glenn Reynolds

It's a story of an industry that may sound familiar.

The buyers think what they're buying will appreciate in value, making them rich in the future. The product grows more and more elaborate, and more and more expensive, but the expense is offset by cheap credit provided by sellers eager to encourage buyers to buy.

Buyers see that everyone else is taking on mounds of debt, and so are more comfortable when they do so themselves; besides, for a generation, the value of what they're buying has gone up steadily. What could go wrong? Everything continues smoothly until, at some point, it doesn't.

Yes, this sounds like the housing bubble, but I'm afraid it's also sounding a lot like a still-inflating higher education bubble. And despite (or because of) the fact that my day job involves higher education, I think it's better for us to face up to what's going on before the bubble bursts messily.

College has gotten a lot more expensive. A recent Money magazine report notes: "After adjusting for financial aid, the amount families pay for college has skyrocketed 439 percent since 1982. ... Normal supply and demand can't begin to explain cost increases of this magnitude."
He works in higher ed, but recognizes it is impossibly difficult to reform it. So he points to a chronicler of the alternatives, DIY U, a book.


DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education is my new book about the future of higher education. It’s a story about the communities of visionaries who are tackling the enormous challenges of cost, access, and quality in higher ed, using new technologies to bring us a revolution in higher learning that is affordable, accessible, and learner-centered.

“This book is not only a smart and forward-thinking look at new and exciting trends in self-directed higher learning, it’s also a smart resource guide for students and their families anxious to take their education into their own hands” says Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind

Boxer opponent will accept job bribe

Head of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement to push for an actual physical fence on the Mexico border to stop illegal immigrants and to end the "anointed incumbent...Boxer's obsessive talk of amnesty, sorry, 'a path to citizenship'" that actually acts as a powerful lure for even more illegal immigrants. --Second, Kaus kindly offers, Obama could put him on the National Labor Relations Board so he could thwart "Big Labor's attempt to add to their dwindling memberships by avoiding secret ballots in union organizing drives." --Finally, Kaus offered to accept an administration job offer to the Department of Education to write "a scathing report" on California teachers' unions and their deleterious impact on the state.
Those are the jobs US Senate candidate Mickey Kaus will accept to drop his primary bid agains the 100th smartest senator, Barbara Boxer. LA Times

D Day - the Liberation of Europe 66 years ago

President Reagan, June 6, 1984 at Pointe du Hoc, Normandy in Real Clear Politics:
We're here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue. Here, in Normandy, the rescue began. Here, the Allies stood and fought against tyranny, in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history. We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but forty years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June, 1944, 225 Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs. Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here, and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance. The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers at the edge of the cliffs, shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting, only ninety could still bear arms. Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them here. These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.
Read the rest.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Patriot's history of the US & UW Tacoma

UW-Tacoma Prof Michael Allen and Larry Schweikart wrote an obscure US history textbook. A Patriot's History of the US: from Columbus's Gret Discovery to the War on Terror - Amazon It was obscure until a prominent talk-radio host interviewed coauthor Schweikart who mentioned their book. It shot up the NY Times bestseller list to #1. Thanks, Glenn Beck! Allen is a professor of history at the University of Washington's Tacoma campus. BTW: If you have never been to UW-Tacoma, you should see the neighborhood. The campus is primarily recycled old brick buildings from early 20th century (or earlier) industry. The Washington History Museum is across the street and the Museum of Glass (Dale Chihuly) is across the freeway from there via a bridge that shows enough glass art that you can skip the museum. The (free) Tacoma Light Rail runs through from free parking at Freight House Square. Source: Weekly Volcano (South Sound) newspaper 4/29/10

Christianity worldwide might help USA

The spectacular growth of Christianity worldwide might help the USA. Walter Russell Meade at The American Interest
Sometimes the stone that the builders rejected ends up as the cornerstone of the whole building. That may not quite describe the role of Christianity in American foreign policy, but in some important and little understood ways the massive surge of Christian faith in the developing world is tilting the global playing field in America’s favor. At home, the appeal and the vigor of African-American Christianity, especially of the Pentecostal variety, may be America’s best defense against a sharp increase in home-grown terror.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Brown bailout

I thought UPS was a first-class company that is successfully competing in the tough package delivery business. But UPS isn't satisified with the opportunity to compete. UPS and the Teamsters Union are asking Congress for help. Brown Bailout The problem is government regulation. For the full story: Journal Star Newspaper
... Rather than take its lumps and compete, UPS' answer now is to team up with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters to hobble its competitors with the same costly baggage that UPS itself unsuccessfully sought to shed.
And the bailout would hurt the Northwest also:
This is not an academic problem. FedEx has informed Boeing that it will cancel its order for 15 Boeing 777 aircraft if H.R. 915 is passed with this provision.
Offline - I spent two plus days at our cabin. But the neighbor didn't have their WiFi on, so I had no internet access. Well, I just had the At&T Edge network on my iPhone. But I don't have a setup to post using that combination.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Egypt blocks Gaza also

If the Muslim world loves the Palistinians so much, there is an obvious way around Israel's blocking access to Gaza. Egypt can open its border to Gaza and allow free going in and going out. But Egypt has first-hand experience with the semi-governed Gaza. Read about Egypt's problem with Gaza below then draw your own conclusions. Egypt's conclusion is that Gaza is run by a criminal enterprise, Hamas, and has to be restrained. Egypt has long had a wall along the Gaza border with Egypt and allows very restricted border crossings. Now Egypt is sending the wall down; building an underground wall 30 meters deep. That's almost 100 feet into the earth. Why? The peaceful people of Gaza and their criminal friends dig tunnels so they can smuggle guns, rockets and every other thing into Gaza and people can come out to Egypt. CBS News
Egypt is building a massive iron wall, approximately 30 yards into the Earth. The controversial move — intended to shut down smuggling tunnels which are the Strip's only remaining lifeline — would further tighten a 3-year-long Israeli blockade, which has turned the poverty-stricken enclave into what critics call "the biggest prison on Earth." The tunnels are used for smuggling everything from food, medicine and household goods, to vehicles, even livestock. But Israel says they're also used for bringing weapons into the Palestinian-controlled territory. The installation of the 10-kilometer-long, 30-meter-deep barrier started physically last November, and it may be months before it is finished. Sealing the underground links would further throttle the Gazan economy and finally cut off Gaza's main link to the outside world. Egyptian officials initially would not discuss the $500 million project, and still decline to provide details. ... Several Egyptian newspapers devoted editorials to the danger facing Egypt from the arms smuggling and the tunnels, and stressed Egypt's right to defend its sovereignty and security. Egypt is wary of Hamas (the Palestinian resistance group that controls Gaza and which is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the U.S. and the European Union) because it is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, the long-established trans-national movement that supports the creation of an Islamic state in Egypt and which has long been a thorn in the flesh of President Mubarak. Two years ago, Hamas militants cut down a metal border wall that had been erected by Israel, enabling tens of thousands of Gazans to pour into Egypt until the border was resealed. Though described as a policy of "collective punishment" by many aid organizations, Egypt's decision to build the steel wall has been defended as its sovereign right by the leader of the Palestinian Fatah movement, President Mahmoud Abbas — who, ironically, also condemned Israel's "apartheid wall" in the West Bank, urging the international community to tear it down. ...
Why does CBS blame Israel for the blockade when it is describing Egypt building a wall plus underground barrier? Does the Muslim world love the Palestinians? If so, why don't they allow access to Gaza through Egypt? Hat tip to Brian Suits on radio KVI.