Thursday, June 30, 2011

Obama violates law by funding ACORN

American Spectator

Why is President Obama apparently defying federal law by funding ACORN?Judicial Watch discovered that the Obama administration is flouting the will of Congress by giving federal taxpayer money to ACORN.

Obama's Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) gave a $79,819 grant to the largest branch of the ACORN tree, ACORN Housing Corp. (AHC). AHC filed papers last year legally changing its name to Affordable Housing Centers of America (AHCOA). It's the same old organization with a brand new ACORN-free name.

Worse yet, the grant funds a political agitation and indoctrination program. Here's HUD's euphemistic description of the program:
Education and Outreach Initiative grants (EOI) - HUD awarded $6.8 million to organizations that educate the public and housing providers about their rights and obligations under federal, state, and local fair housing laws. Groups will also conduct fair lending workshops, community meetings, and individual counseling activities focused on homeowners at risk for discrimination.
According to HUD, the grant money came out of fiscal 2010 appropriations.

That's a big problem.

As I reported previously, in 2009 Congress passed four separate appropriations bills that contained language blocking federal funds from flowing to ACORN during federal fiscal year 2010, which ran from Oct. 1, 2009 through Sept. 30, 2010. All four of the laws prevent ACORN and its affiliated groups from receiving federal taxpayer dollars.

The funding prohibition in Public Law 111-117 (PDF) applies specifically to HUD. It spells out in pretty clear terms that ACORN shouldn't be getting any government funding.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ferguson attacks Dunn on criminal justice

In the race for Attorney General of Washington, King County Councilman Bob Ferguson is attacking Reagan Dunn (also King County Councilman). Isn't it always weaker candidate who attacks? Just trying to get some attention. And Ferguson is attacking Dunn on law enforcement - one of Dunn's strengths - saying that Dunn voted against funding sheriff deputies. I am sure Dunn welcomes a debate on his home turf.

Chris Widener at Red County explains that Dunn defended law enforcement at every turn; Ferguson did not. Here is an excerpt:

...  The principle implication made by Ferguson is that Dunn was the one responsible for the 2011 budget that cut 28 Sherriff’s deputies and 16 prosecutors. The truth is, Dunn was one of only two councilmembers to vote against the proposed budget because it cut funding for public safety. When asked about his decision to vote against the proposed budget, Dunn said, “I cannot vote for a budget that does not first protect public safety before funding non-mandatory programs.” The subsequent moves made by each of the two Attorney General candidates were different and quite telling. Ferguson’s proposal was to increase sales tax in King County by two-tenths of a percent during a time of stymied economic growth. Only if it passed, bringing county sales tax to 9.7%, would Ferguson be willing to keep those deputies and prosecutors on the streets. Of course, this proposal, as Dunn predicted, failed at the ballot box and accomplished nothing.

Dunn, on the other hand, proposed four alternative plans that did not raise taxes and would have sustained King County’s law enforcement, prosecutors, jails and courts. None of these were passed by the Council. In a last-ditch effort, Dunn offered an amendment to the budget that would have restored nearly all of the Sheriff’s deputies and prosecutors. Ferguson would have been the swing vote to pass this amendment but voted no anyway. He then voted to approve the budget and make the draconian cuts to the criminal justice system.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Gov. Moonbeam Brown and moronic people

Governor Moonbeam Jerry Brown sees himself in others.

LA Times
With California's new fiscal year starting Friday and no compromise with the GOP on a budget in sight, Gov. Jerry Brown's chief spokesman called Sacramento Republicans "basically moronic" for failing to strike an agreement.

Brown wants a fall election on taxes and to extend vehicle and sales tax hikes that will otherwise expire by Friday. Republicans are demanding pension, regulatory and spending policy concessions in exchange for such an election. They have balked at extending taxes.

"The Republicans in Sacramento are basically moronic. But we’re hopeful that they can realize we’re on an unsustainable trajectory here, one that is not fiscally responsible and one for which they are at least partially responsible,"
Why should they work with him? He is so much higher than the Republicans that he can't see them. I would let him solve the problems all by himself.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Congress throwing our money at its staff

When costs need to be cut Congress is being generous with other people's money - our money.
They are clueless. They really think they are on a higher plane than we are.
Despite all the talk of belt-tightening in Washington, CNN’s Lisa Desjardins dug through many Congressional expense reports and discovered up to $6.1 million was paid out in bonuses to Congressional staff members during the beginning of the year, at the height of talks about a potential government shutdown. 
In the expense statements, bonuses are included within the broadly defined category of “other compensation.” After confirming with various offices, Desjardins reports the amount of bonuses handed out by Republicans in the time period was $908,000 and for Democrats it was $3.1 million in bonuses, while the remaining amount was awarded by Congressional committees.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Religion of peace - kill the priest!!

The religion of peace this weekend in Egypt:

Minya, 24 June (AKI) - Hundreds of Muslim extremists surrounded a church in central Egypt and threatened to kill the local priest, the Assyrian International News Agency reported. The extremists began targeting the church in a village 7 kilometres south of the city of Minya in March after renovation work began, threatening to demolish the church. 
AINA Friday cited eyewitnesses as saying that the Muslim mob, dressed in white robes and long beards, chanted: "We will kill the priest, we will kill him and no one will prevent us." 
One of their leaders was cited as saying they would "…cut him to pieces," AINA reported.
The priest Father George Thabet, who was holding morning mass and was locked in the church with several parishioners. Security forces arrived five hours later and escorted the priest away in a police car to the Coptic Diocese in Minya. 
Coptic youths who were attending mass remained inside St George's church to defend it from Muslim attacks. 
No police or security of any kind was present during the standoff, according to reports.
The police arrived five hours later.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Food stamp fraud OK with Obama

The number of food stamp recipients is up and fraud is up. People sell their cards for cash. Merchants accept them for liquor and other not-approved items. People sign up for dozens of benefits. Wall Street Journal June 23

So Obama is blocking states' antifraud efforts. Huh?? True. Obama is requiring California and NY to stop some of their safeguards. Huh?? Obama is on the side of fraud.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Obama spends $1.2 million on billboard global junket

Sec. of Transportation Ray LaHood sent federal highway employees on a 17-day junket to take photos of billboards. To Australia, Sweden, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Great Britain.

Sec. of Transportation Ray LaHood says Obama opposes wasteful spending. But LaHood clearly supports it with his actions, if not his words. After many such trips over the years this one is cancelled. He called the trip off because he got caught.

ABC News

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Harry Reid's Republican

Senator Dinghy Harry Reid endorsed John Huntsman for Republican nominee for President. If Harry is for him who could be against him?

Washington Examiner

Monday, June 20, 2011

Airbus A380 proves it is too large

A few months ago an Air France A380 hit a smaller Delta jet at JFK airport in New York City, spinning it 90 degrees. Sunday it hit a building. At the Paris Airshow - the biggest showplace for aviation/aerospace in the world (alternating with London). With the whole world watching.
Washington Post blog
Airbus’s star jet was grounded Sunday after clipping a wing on a taxiway structure, forcing the European jetmaker to cancel demonstration flights it had planned at the Paris Air Show. The A380 superjumbo collided with a building at the Le Bourget airport, where the air show is taking place.
The A380 collision was the latest in an embarrassing string of incidents at the air show for Airbus, which was forced to pull its military transport carrier A400M out of displays because of an issue with its gearbox...

AARP supports changing Social Security?

Social Security has a problem; that we know. But is AARP admitting it? And willing to accept changes?? The leftists fear so. But there is often a twist in these things. Let's watch.


AARP, the powerful lobbying group for older Americans, is dropping its longstanding opposition to cutting Social Security benefits, a move that could rock Washington's debate over how to revamp the nation's entitlement programs.

The decision, which AARP hasn't discussed publicly, came after a wrenching debate inside the organization. In 2005, the last time Social Security was debated, AARP led the effort to kill President George W. Bush's plan for partial privatization. AARP now has concluded that change is inevitable, and it wants to be at the table to try to minimize the pain.

"The ship was sailing. I wanted to be at the wheel when that happens," said John Rother, AARP's long-time policy chief and a prime mover behind its change of heart.

The shift, which has been vetted by AARP's board and is now the group's stance, could have a dramatic effect on the debate surrounding the future of the federal safety net, from pensions to health care, given the group's immense clout.

Mother Jones says "Oh, no!"

Huffington Post catches AARP talking out of both sides of their mouth.

... AARP initially pushed back against the newspaper's story.

"Stay tuned -- our position has not changed on Social Security," an AARP spokeswoman said in an email to HuffPost.

AARP legislative policy director David Certner said on CNN Friday that "there was some miscommunication with the Wall Street Journal story."

But then Certner acknowledged that AARP believes the program needs to be changed.

"Everybody knows we need to look at a package of different changes to Social Security to make it strong for the long term," he said. "The reality is, we have more people older and who are living longer, so we need to make changes. Everybody recognizes that. And we're certainly willing to talk about a package of changes that will keep Social Security strong."

I refuse to support AARP because they support big government over the interests of their "members." I joined AMAC.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Maybe Obama is slowing the power grab of his czars & Hayek

Steven Hayward at Powerline sees evidence that Obama is slowing his many czars from their grabbing power and controlling our lives. It appears they are slowing on...

- Boiler regs that deliver little if any health benefits...
- Implementing monstrous Dodd-Frank financial regulations... now delayed

[Powerline] ... Quite aside from the political pressure being brought against the Obama Administration for the job-killing effects of overregulation, it is likely that the Obamanauts are running up against the basic problem that regulation shares the same epistemological or cognitive defects of socialist central planning. In other words, at some point the regulatory state cannot be made to work for the same reasons socialism cannot be made to work: the planners/regulators simply cannot assimilate enough information and make correct resource allocation decisions. The same problem is going to affect--is already affecting--the implementation of Obamacare; that's why so many waivers are having to be granted. 
Hayek called this the "fatal conceit" of our time, and was best explained in his classic 1945 essay in the American Economic Review, "The Use of Knowledge in Society."It's worth reading this short classic in its entirety (I assign it to students as the best short statement of why the administrative state cannot be made to work), but here is a brief excerpt that conveys the argument well:
 [Hayek] The peculiar character of the problem of a rational economic order is determined precisely by the fact that the knowledge of the circumstances of which we must make use never exists in concentrated or integrated form but solely as the dispersed bits of incomplete and frequently contradictory knowledge which all the separate individuals possess. The economic problem of society is thus not merely a problem of how to allocate "given" resources--if "given" is taken to mean given to a single mind which deliberately solves the problem set by these "data." It is rather a problem of how to secure the best use of resources known to any of the members of society, for ends whose relative importance only these individuals know. Or, to put it briefly, it is a problem of the utilization of knowledge which is not given to anyone in its totality.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jews made the land in Israel productive

The land was desert and malarial swamp in 1900. The few inhabitants were very poor. Now the people are healthy and prosperous.

George Gilder at American Spectator

The Arabs didn't do anything. They were poor until the Jews made the land productive. When the Jews bought their land and employed them their incomes multiplied.

Paul Allen's war birds fly for the public this summer

Free to watch the flying; admission to walk through the collection. At Paine Field in Everett, Washington.

Flying Heritage Collection

Saturday June 18, July 16, Aug. 6., Aug 20, Aug. 27, Sept 10 and Sept 24, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Washington among the least-free states

Washington is among the least-free states: #40 of 50. Mercatus Center at George Mason University has been compiling and weighting data for this composite for several years.

Their measures have three primary parts: fiscal, regulatory and paternalism. Fiscal is spending and taxing with special weight for debit, since it is future taxing. Regulation includes labor, health insurance mandates, occupational licensing, legal liability, eminent domain, land use and utility regulation. The paternalism category is really personal freedom: gambling, alcohol, automotive, tobacco, campaign finance, asset forfeiture, marriage/unions, drug laws, prostitution, assisted suicide, gun control and education. They stay away from abortion and death penalty.

Washington comes in #32 on fiscal, a very poor #42 on regulation and #23 on personal freedom; combined to #40.


They give recommendations for each state. For Washington:
(1) Reduce spending consistent with the state’s relatively decent tax-burden levels, starting with reducing government employment and spending on natural resources (mostly at the state government level) and sewerage (at the local government level), which is particularly far above national norms.
(2) Enact further-reaching eminent-domain reform.
(3) Reduce centralized land-use planning by repealing or amending the Growth Management Act and Shoreline Management Act.
That's just a start. Taxes on businesses just got worse. We have requirements on health insurance that drive up the costs for everyone...

Graphic: States with more Democrat and Green voters are on the right with less freedom. Click to enlarge.

China - extensive unrest against government

China is dealing with a great deal of unrest. In urban areas people are complaining about corruption and a lack of enforcement of the laws.

In rural areas it is often farmers being thrown off their land for the benefit of developers.

These protests are increasing. The Communist government has fundamental problems.

BBC June 12 Gungzhou (Canton) in southern China & Lichuan in central China.

BBC June 14 Zengcheng in south China:

Chinese security forces have moved into the southern city of Zengcheng, restoring calm after days of rioting by migrant workers.

Witnesses say security personnel are manning roadblocks and patrolling the streets, and have ordered people to stay in their homes overnight. No violent incidents were reported on Monday night.

Hundreds of workers rioted at the weekend after a pregnant woman was allegedly assaulted by security guards.

Reports said the woman was shoved to the ground when she refused to move her market stall.

The protesters set fire to cars and damaged government buildings in Zengcheng, near the wealthy southern city of Guangzhou.

Police reportedly fired tear gas and deployed armoured vehicles.


A migrant worker from Sichuan who works in the area told Reuters news agency that people were angry with the system.

"I feel the rule of law here doesn't seem to exist... the local officials can do what they want," he said.

Some residents told the Associated Press they had been told not to go out at night or post photos of the unrest online.

"Nobody wants to come out. They fear running into danger," one factory worker told AP.

Complaints about corruption and abuse of power are widespread, especially among migrant workers who are often paid meagre wages.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Burke-Gilman Trail closure and detour

Finally, after years of foot dragging by the leaders of Lake Forest Park, reconstruction of the Burke-Gilman Trail in Lake Forest Park will begin this week. This is one of the first-built sections of B-GT. It has deteriorated and is eight feet wide. It will be repaved and widened - the pavement will be wider plus gravel shoulders. And some other little things I don't recall.
BG-T will be closed from the Seattle city limits at ME 145 St. to Log Boom Park in Kenmore (about 200 yards west of it).

The big concern as construction was about to begin has been "where does all that traffic go?" What will be the detour? A detour isn't important for walkers because they don't go very far and can easily find other routes. Walkers who use it for point-to-point travel are going to the LFP Center; they can cross Bothell Way NE/Highway 522; in some places it will take some exploring, but it's doable.

But many bicycle riders traverse LFP on longer rides. It would be easy for them to ride Highway 522/Bothell Way NE, but its speed limit is 45 mph and climbs at 250 feet going south and the shoulder is for buses. Not good. Some riders use it, though their legal standing is doubtful when they ride in the bus-only lane. After much back and forth it was announced that there would be no detour. Huh?? That answer was not acceptable. So they did come up with one.

The detour signs have gone up. All the preliminary talk was about it going up NE 165 St. to 37 Ave. NE. But they decided to use Ballinger Way NE, of all routes, to connect to 37th via NE 178 St.
Maps are at City of LFP web site. The map is in three sections. The page is not user friendly at all, but the map links are at the top.

Photo: Zeus the corgi shows a detour sign at NE 165 St. and 37th Ave NE. Click to enlarge.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Car-free to Langley

An overnight trip to interesting Langley on beautiful Whidbey Island - via Sounder train, ferry and free bus; only on weekdays.

Seattle Times

There are links to more trips at this article. I don't worry much about the car-free part, but I am always looking for interesting destinations.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Underground railroad from North Korea to freedom

Thailand? People who escaped from North Korea are traveling 3,000 miles to Thailand? They want to get to South Korea, where they will be welcomed and Thailand is the closest country with ties to South Korea. 3,000 miles!

Global Post
In the beginning, they arrived in ones and twos across the Mekong River. They were dirty, skeleton-thin and scared to death.
Sugint Dechkul, a small-town lawyer in Thailand’s far-northern Chiang Rai province, had no idea what to make of them. They’d wander up the riverside country road near his home, sometimes begging for food or shelter in an alien tongue.
“We’d ask, ‘Where are you from?’ They couldn’t answer,” Sugint said.
Finally, through painstaking pantomime, one of the stragglers conveyed his origins. North Korea. Nearly 3,000 miles away. 
That was nine years ago. Today, the so-called “underground railroad” traveled by North Korean defectors increasingly terminates in Thailand.
“The first ones looked like they hadn’t showered in a month. Now they come in big groups. They know their way and they know what they’re doing.” 
In recent years, North Korean defectors’ network has discovered Thailand is the gateway to their dreams: resettlement in Seoul, South Korean citizenship and thousands in cash to start life a new life. Though this tropical nation is distant from the often chilly Korean peninsula, it is the nearest reachable ally of South Korea, which maintains a policy of financially aiding and patriating its divided kin.
It is risky to help North Koreans in China. Guess who is taking this risk.
Christianity, practiced by roughly one-third of South Koreans, is the de facto faith of the so-called “underground railroad” network, said a long-time activist with more than a decade’s experience on the circuit.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Shoes and trade?

Our two US Senators are keeping their names in the news: this week by proposing to reduce or eliminate the duty or tax on imported shoes. Seattle Times

We know they like exports - Boeing, Microsoft, Starbucks, Paccar, etc.

Since they like imports and exports then they favor trade. Clearly, right? You know, each country produces what they are best capable of and they they trade and both sides come out ahead.

Then are they working to end the roadblock of the free-trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea and Panama? These agreements have been agreed upon and just await confirmation by the Senate. But Pres. Obama is not asking the Senator to approve them until he gets changes to Trade Adjustment Assistance program.

This kind of holdup is usually a bunch of unions trying to get something.

Status: South Korea tells the US to get moving or the deal will be dead. Wall Street Journal

We benefit greatly from trade. Cato Senators, since you are goofing off by not writing the 2012 budget you have time to get the three trade agreements going: Panama, Colombia and South Korea.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

In a hole the US government is still digging

The federal budget is a crisis to you and me, but not to the beltway crowd: it is business as usual. "Depress the country and stimulate the DC area by hiring," appears to be their thinking. Here is one of 40 pages of open jobs with the government. Of 25 entries on this page ten pay over $105,000 plus better benefits than you have.

USA Jobs

Mickey Kaus describes the situation at Daily Caller:

There’s a $1.6 trillion deficit but the feds are still hiring. As of March 23 they were hiring someone to run a Facebook page for the Deparment of the Interior (at up to $115,000 a year). They were hiring equal opportunity compliance officers at the Peace Corps and Department of Interior for $150,000 to $180,000 a pop. They were hiring deputy speechwriters for officials at relatively obscure agencies.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Thought police - tattoo those who disagree over global warming

We can't make thus up. One global warming promoter wants to permantently deface those who see contrary evidence. Only one, but he has a prominent outlet - a prominent newspaper.
Richard Glover in Sydney, Australia
Surely it's time for climate-change deniers to have their opinions forcibly tattooed on their bodies.
Not necessarily on the forehead; I'm a reasonable man.
Tell us about how reasonable you are.
Just something along their arm or across their chest so their grandchildren could say, ''Really? You were one of the ones who tried to stop the world doing something? And why exactly was that, granddad?''
On second thoughts, maybe the tattooing along the arm is a bit Nazi-creepy.
Now he has started thinking. Yes, Glover, you said it: you are being "Nazi-creepy."

My blog software Ecto is not talking to Blogger the past few days.

Mayor McGinn's pledge means little

Mayor McGinn has not kept his word on the tunnel to replace the Alaska Way Viaduct.
Seattle Times June 3, 2011
... McGinn pledged that, if elected, he would uphold city-state agreements but continue to ask "hard questions." The mayor has said he is keeping his word, and city staff are continuing to work with the state on the tunnel's preliminary design.

This spring he also campaigned for a referendum on the tunnel, which will appear on the August primary ballot. McGinn has said he'll drop his opposition to the tunnel if the voters say they support the project.

But before the referendum signature drive was launched, the mayor also decided to take on the final environmental review.

Marquardt submitted 110 comments from Feb. 4 to 28. He pressed the state to more fully address the project's funding, the potential for cost overruns, the effects of tolling to pay for the tunnel and the state's failure to adequately consider the mayor's favored viaduct-replacement plan, the surface/ transit option.
So He said he would uphold city-state agreements. But he is flooding the environmental review with 110 comments, so far, and he is attacking the agreement - costs, tolling. And to make it totally clear he is still trying to get his bicycle option considered again.

So he is clearly violating his pledge. And other people have shown that he is so focused on violating this pledge that he isn't doing all of his job. Failure in process. He is working on it. The public can see it. In late March his approval ratings from the public were more than 2 to 1 negative. Crosscut
His transportation director Hahn says the review is biased toward the tunnel. Hello? The tunnel is being built. Go look at the pile drivers that are working; I saw them yesterday. So, yes, the state is looking not looking at McGinn's bicycle alternative.

Hahn says McGinn is just trying to make sure things are thought out. But, McGinn! The project is at the "doing" stage. The people working on it are the builders. The time for exploring alternatives has passed. Hello, McGinn?

Friday, June 03, 2011

More snow. Cold wet Spring. Flooding

Our cold wet spring has both added more snowfall and delayed melting of the snow pack. Reservoirs on the Columbia and other rivers are full already so warm weather will cause flooding.
And there is a man vs fish problem. Spilling water to reduce flooding adds nitrogen to the water kills fingerling fish. 
And a system problem. The Columbia and Snake River dams are a string. Releasing water from John Day dam sends it to the reservoir of The Dalles dam and so on. They all have to be managed together and they are by Bonneville Power Administration. It is very complex and the people/fish tradeoff and others. Power generation, agriculture, wildlife. 

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Politicians and economic literacy

Every cent spent by government was taken by force out of our economy. That’s not always a bad thing, of course, because certain government functions are vitally important. We’re all better off when contracts are enforced and crimes (real crimes) are punished. There is a legitimate debate about where precisely the limits on essential government functions are, but today’s political debate is of a different sort. The debate today is about whether there are any legitimate limits on the powers of government.

One important way to understand and describe the importance of limited government is through the language of economics (“rightly understood,” as Aquinas might say). Milton Friedman provided one important explanation, common sense really, about human nature and spending money (video). And there are many people, starting with Frederic Bastiat, who have knocked over the flimsy but rampant idea that you can create wealth by destroying wealth. When you think about it, those illustrative “broken windows” are a lot like taxation….

The next time you hear a legislator crowing about bringing some of your own tax money back to your community, you might ask why they didn’t just leave it there in the first place.

The Freedom Foundation that used to have its own name is offering a short, inexpensive course in basic economics at six locations around the state during June. The first class is in Tacoma early next week.

Generic Freedom Foundation

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Congress ties debt increase to spending cuts

Congress voted to tie increasing the debt limit to spending cuts Tuesday. Good for them. Vote 318 to 97.

97 Congressmen still don't realize we are in a crisis.

Obama's spokes puppet says he agrees to "deficit reduction" as a condition. But that means tax increases. That is, Tax increases that with static projection will reduce the deficit. But people are not static - they change behavior to avoid the taxes. The tax increase slows the economy and never generates the expected revenue.

We have to cut spending. Good for Congress.