Saturday, January 31, 2009

Voter ID Laws Get Democrats to Vote!

Not that Jim Doyle, champion of vote-fraud, will change his mind or anything...

Black and Democratic turnout increased more in Georgia, which has what’s commonly slandered as the “harshest” voter ID rules in the country, than in a demographically and Democratically comparable state, Mississippi.

Indiana, which also has a fairly no-nonsense requirement that voters actually prove they are who they say they are experienced the largest increase in Democrat turnout of any state in the country, much higher than in neighboring Illinois

Huh.

HT: McIlheran

Mutual Sacrifice, Indeed

More and more it's clear that George Orwell saw the Pelosi/Reid Congress.

At the same time that President Obama is wagging his finger at Wall Street for their year end bonuses and auto executives are being harassed for flying on private jets, the Democratic-led congress just gave each lawmaker an extra $93,000 in petty cash to spend.

More equal than others.

HT: Gateway

Obama: Dump Those R&D People

Yah.

There's too much of that private-industry research & development goin' on out there.

The Obama administration has asked the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff to cut the Pentagon’s budget request for the fiscal year 2010 by more than 10 percent — about $55 billion — a senior U.S. defense official tells FOX News.

Last year’s defense budget was $512 billion. Service chiefs and planners will be spending the weekend “burning the midnight oil” looking at ways to cut the budget — looking especially at weapons programs, the defense official said.

As Morrissey observes, STD "prevention" and re-sodding the Mall is now preferable to national defense.

The Heavy, Heavy, Hand of Gummint, Part 254

California is known as 'the land of fruits and nuts' for a reason--mostly because the nuts inhabit the Statehouse and courts.

Mr. Dominguez is a law abiding fellow who had the misfortune to live in California (everything he was doing would be completely legal in AZ). On the way to a shooting range, he stopped at the LA airport to pick up a friend who would go to the range with him. He had his firearms and ammo in locked cases in a locked cover to his pickup's bed. Airport security pulled him over for an inspection. All his guns were legal, including an assault rifle which he had registered in accord with the law.

But he was charged with a felony, anyway, because the CA law on assault rifles says they may be transported only between specific locations. Home to shooting range is OK, BUT the prosecution contends that since he stopped at the airport on the way to the range, his is guilty of felony transportation. They also seized and may forfeit his truck.

Another good reason for "jury nullification."

Or for simply packing up and leaving California to its bankruptcy.

HT: Of Arms

Some Tax Cuts Are More Equal...

You will believe it, of course.

The House version of the stimulus already includes a bonus depreciation that lets businesses immediately write off 50% of their 2009 capital expenditures. But the Senate bill expands the definition of "qualifying property" -- specifically to include "certain motion picture film or videotape..."the provision is backed by firms like the Walt Disney Co., and the industry trade group the Motion Picture Association of America."

I forget which LeftOWacky commented on my blog that "no one is worth $100 million"--and of course, he was referring to Rush Limbaugh, an eeeeeeeeeeeeevil cretin (right?).

Let's talk about gross incomes a bit:

According to Variety, which covers show business, ticket sales for 2008 "clocked in at $9.63 billion, ahead of the $9.62 billion earned in 2007. Admissions were down roughly 4%, far less than declines in other sectors of the economy."

This is not "stimulus." This is payback, plain and simple.

HT: Eggs

Daschle's Tax "Forgots": There's More

The wags have said that 'It's easy for Democrats to raise taxes, since they don't pay them,' and we find even more of the same with Tom Daschle.

On January 2 of this year, Daschle filed amended tax returns to pay the $140,167 in unpaid taxes.

That was last night.

This morning, we read:

The Finance Committee staff still is reviewing whether travel and entertainment services provided Tom and Linda Daschle by EduCap, Inc., Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation, Academy Achievement, and Loan to Learn should be reported as income. Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that Daschle made use of the jet belonging to EduCap, a non-profit student loan organization. . . .

Malkin finds even MORE THAN THAT:

Mr. Daschle also didn’t report $83,333 in consulting income in 2007.

The Senate Finance Committee Report also notes that during the vetting process, President Obama’s Transition Team “identified certain donations that did not qualify as charitable deductions because they were not paid to qualifying organizations

That "unreported consulting income" is very interesting, because it implies that either: 1) IRS did not match the 1099 against Daschle's tax return OR: 2) that the organizations did not ISSUE a 1099 for the payment.

UPDATE: PowerLine gives us background on Daschle's pal Hindery:

InterMedia Advisors was founded by Leo Hindery, who, as we noted here, was once the CEO of Global Crossing, a company that enriched a number of prominent Democrats, including Terry McAuliffe, but also turned into one of the biggest bankruptcies in the history of American business, in which creditors and innocent investors lost many millions of dollars

That "Rangel Rule" tax proposal must look pretty sweet to TommyBoy these days, eh?

HT: Lott

The Lefties Have NO CASE for the Stimulus

Over the last week or so, I've noticed that the Reliable Lefty commenters are unable to make any sort of case whatsoever for "the Stimulus."

See the comboxes at this post, for example, which questions the plan to provide tax dollars to pay for COBRA insurance premium requirements. I argue that there is really no "need" to do so; a Lefty seems to think that without taxpayer support of COBRA payments, people will simply get sick and die.

Or here, where the same inchoate interlocutor attempts to tell us that "all Gummint spending is identical," failing to recognize the difference between spending on Oshkosh Truck (e.g.) and a Bureaucracy in DC.

In this one, where the LeftyWackos argue that 'there IS no [effective] Corporate income tax, so let's NOT cut it,' and in addition, argue that US employers providing war services and materiel spend all their money on CEO's--not on "skilled workers."

They're probably very nice folks to meet. Just don't ask for linear thought.

Why Doyle Likes Gas-Tax Indexing, Again


Our Governor, the Back-and-Forthright Guy* was against gas-tax-indexing before he was for it.
He's for it now, and the reason is pictured above. And you can bet an index-point or three that the December report will continue the cliff-dive-line, thus, the Governor will become more strident as the budget is presented.
*Walt Kelly invented that linguistic arabesque...
CAUTION: Do NOT go to the below-linked page unless you have a very strong stomach.

Olsen Family Business--Ethanol--in Trouble

Look at this Wiggy post from not-so-far back.

Let's add Senator Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) to the ethanol drinking list

...Luther Olsen is a part-owner of a number of large agricultural businesses in Wisconsin including Berlin Feed, Inc., Olsen Leasing, LLC, and Olsen's Mill, Inc., according to his Statement of Economic Interests filed with the State of Wisconsin Ethics Board in 2005 for the year 2004.

Well, maybe that wasn't such a good idea.

Renew Energy LLC, operator of a year-old ethanol plant in Jefferson, sought protection from creditors in U.S. Bankruptcy Court Friday.

The company listed debts of $100 million to $500 million and assets in the same range.
The largest unsecured creditor listed is Olsen's Mill Inc., which is owed $20 million, according to the filing.


Olsen's has ties to Renew Energy. Paul Olsen, whom Renew identified as its chairman when it broke ground on the ethanol plant in October 2006, is an officer with Olsen's Mill, which sells farm supplies and markets and stores grain from 11 Wisconsin locations.


...Meanwhile, in a separate action, a bank is trying to force Olsen's Mill Inc. into receivership, a state court proceeding similar to bankruptcy.

That case was filed Wednesday by BNP Paribas in Green Lake County


Back a hundred years or so, Olsen's Power Equipment had a major retail facility in Waukesha, on old Hy. 164. They were damn good at doing their jobs, too.

Let's hope they pull through this--but let's also hope that force-feeding ethanol to motorists is not part of the solution.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The "Catholic" Anti-Life Party

Senators who claim to be Catholic and who voted AGAINST restoration of the Mexico City Policy:

Gillibrand (NY); Reed (RI); Leahy (VT); Cantwell (WA); Menendez (NJ); Murray (WV); Begich (AL); Dodd (CT); Landrieu (LA); Harkin (IA); Kerry (MA); McCaskill (MO); Mikulski (MD); Durbin (IL) and Kaufman (DE)

'Nuff said.

QueenNancy Pelosi's Logic--Extended

Neumayr is always worth the read.

Euthanasia is another shovel-ready job for Pelosi to assign to the states. Reducing health care costs under Obama's plan, after all, counts as economic stimulus too. Controlling life, controlling death, controlling costs.

"Shovel", indeed...

...Pelosi has helpfully if dimly blurted out what's often implicit in many of the left's schemes for human improvement: that, after all the rhetorical bells and whistles have fallen silent, the final solution concealed within the schemes is to eliminate people.

Nancy and Harry could at least honor their 'intellectual godfather' the way that Neumayr did in that last phrase.

And if you think that "STD" provision in the bill is markedly different in effect or intent from the "birth-control" provision the Queen deleted, think again, folks.

HillaryCare Arrives

Let's put it this way.

You are the frog. The water is warmer--and warmer---and warmer.

You know the end of the story.

Democrats have studied "Frog-Cooking 101" and are instituting HillaryCare with just a little more warm water.

The "stimulus" also hijacks Cobra, a program that lets the unemployed retain access to their former company health benefits -- usually for about 18 months. The new stimulus permits any former employee over the age of 55 to keep using Cobra right up until they qualify for Medicare at age 65. And here's the kicker: Whereas employees were previously responsible for paying their health premiums while on Cobra, now the feds will pay 65%. CBO estimates? Seven million Americans will have the feds mostly pay their insurance bills in 2009.

While I would not object to 'allowing COBRA until Medicare qualification' under the usual terms and conditions, the red-highlighted part is objectionable--principally because NO ONE is denied health-care in this country under Hill-Burton. So what is the need?

None.

It is estimated that this provision will have 7 million recipients inside of 2 years.

HT: PowerLine

Feingold Nominated Lautenschlager!

The US Attorney slot is vacant here (and lots of other places.)

Each of our Senators gets to nominate four people for the position.

GOP3 reports that Sen. Feingold nominated....


.....ta da!.....

Peg Lautenschager!!!

No wonder the Feds are buying lots of new cars with the stimulus money....

(The rest of the nominee list is predictable, by the way.)

Chicago Gun Appeal May Lose

Cramer reports.

The various challenges to handgun bans and obstructive gun registration laws in Illinois have been consolidated into a single case before the U.S. Court of Appeals. See the brief filed by Alan Gura here. A little background is visible here.

There is a very strong possibility that the Court of Appeals will rule against us, not on the merits of the case (which is very strong), but because finding that the Second Amendment is incorporated through the Fourteenth Amendment against the states is a decision above their pay grade

"Incorporation" is THE issue; this may well be in front of SCOTUS in a year or so.

Stimulus: No Longer Stimulating Support

The numbers are caving.

...the 52 percent public support for the stimulus bill reflected in the Gallup poll was a bit tepid, but a new Rasmussen poll finds support dropping to 42 percent with a near equal number of opposition at 39 percent. Some of the numbers behind the numbers are interesting, too. For instance, while support for the bill among Republicans and Democrats has remained relatively stable, "support among unaffiliated voters has fallen. A week ago, unaffiliateds were evenly divided on the plan, with 37% in favor and 36% opposed. Now, 50% of unaffiliated voters oppose the plan while only 27% favor it." In addition, 46 percent of those polled are worried that the government will end up doing too much, compared with 42 percent who worry it will do too little.

Umnnnhhhh....the average citizen is capable of separating the buckwheat from the BS, and is also acutely aware of the effects of debt-financing.

HT: AmSpecBlog

GAB Spent $50K of Taxpayer Money for Indefensible Suit

The GAB, which:

1) Refused to comply with the law; and
2) Caused the State Attorney General to sue them to force compliance; and
3) Agreed that the State Attorney General was correct (after the election, of course)

...spent $50K of taxpayer money to defend their indefensible position.

Seems like a lot of money, doesn't it?

More Garbage in Senate "Stimulus" Truck

You thought that $335 million for STD's was bad?

How about $400 million?? The Senate perceives more STD problems than the House.

That's hardly all.

$20 million "for the removal of small- to medium-sized fish passage barriers."

$25 million to rehabilitate off-roading (ATV) trails

$34 million to remodel the Department of Commerce HQ

$70 million to "Support Supercomputing Activities" for climate research

$150 million for honey bee insurance

Something tells me that the Gardasil lobbyist has been very busy.

HT: RedStates

Gitmo Judge: "Delay Is Not Reasonable"

Woopsie!

Seems that Obama's request isn't consonant with the public interest. And the reaction poses a very significant question.

President Barack Obama's plan to suspend proceedings against Guantanamo detainees hit a snag when a military judge said it would be unreasonable to delay a hearing for the alleged mastermind of the USS Cole bombing.

Thursday's ruling by the judge, Army Col. James Pohl, creates an unexpected challenge for the new administration as it reviews how America puts suspected terrorists on trial.

Pohl said his decision was difficult but necessary to protect "the public interest in a speedy trial."

Col. Pohl is not winning the hearts and minds of the Pentagon brass.

Geoff Morrell, another Pentagon spokesman, told reporters that there were "no ifs, ands or buts" about adhering to the president's executive order and that there would "be no proceedings continuing down at Gitmo with military commissions."

Mr. Morrell implies that "justice" is subordinate to the wishes of the President. Very interesting.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Barrett Signals Opposition to "Sick Leave"

Read between the lines.

The City of Milwaukee said yesterday it will not oppose the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce's request for a temporary injunction to halt the paid sick leave ordinance scheduled to take effect next month.

That doesn't make some people happy.

"Whatever the mayor's personal views, he had always assured us that he would carry out his duty to the taxpayers to implement and enforce the paid sick leave ordinance," said Amy Stear, state director of 9 to 5 in a statement. "By caving in to the business lobbyists at MMAC, the mayor shirks his sworn duty to uphold and carry out the laws of our city."

Barrett's a realist. 9 to 5--not so much.

The Economy: What's Next?

Inflation.

Some perspective from Martin Wolf of the (London) Financial Times:

“Let us start with some facts. The ratio of US public and private debt to gross domestic product reached 358% in the 3rd quarter of 2008. This was much the highest in US history. The previous peak of 300% was reached in 1933, during the Great Depression

“Nearly all of this debt is private. That reached an all-time high of 294% of GCP in 2007, a rise of 105 percentage points over the previous decade

“Particularly remarkable is the composition of the increased debt. In the early 1930s, most US private debt was owed by non-financial companies, so balance sheet deflation occurred in companies, as was also the case in Japan in the 1990s. This time, however, the big increase in debt was in the financial and household sectors.

“Over the past three decades the debt of the US financial sector grew six times faster than nominal GDP. The consequent increases in its scale and leverage explain why, at the peak, the financial sector allegedly generated 40% of US corporate profits....

“Household debt – most of based on rising housing values – rose from 66% of US GDP in ’97 to 100% in ’07”

Note the implication: balance sheet deterioration will occur in financial and household sectors, unlike during the Depression, which largely affected (non-financial) companies.

Need proof?

Why do you think TARP exists? To shore up the deteriorated balance sheets of banks!

And after The Inflation?

“If central banks and governments are aggressive enough, they can generate inflation which will lower the debt burden,” Wolf writes. “But they will imperil – if not terminate the experiment with un-backed fiat (or man-made) money that started in 1971.”

Now it's a tossup.

Buy Ammo? Buy Gold? This is a tough choice.

Despite that, Wolf prefers inflation.

“Inflation will allow debt to reduce day by day. Price rises will make companies going concerns, earning their way back to profit. Pay rises will enable households and consumers to pay down what they owe while saving more and spending some. And inflation allows interest rates to rise but still remain negative in real terms. It is healthier that people receive an annual pay rise than take out an extra annual loan – as they have been doing since 2000. This package will allow markets to breathe again.”

Which is precisely the direction the Gummint has taken.

Liquidation, of course, is the best alternative, and will NEVER be undertaken by the goons in Washington, unless it's 'liquidation' in the sense of the way the Kulaks understood it.

State Dems: "Hell, NO!" on Accountability

Not that anyone is surprised, or anything.

There is significant and very real concern mounting in the State Capitol that the much-anticipated multi-billion dollar bailout of our state government by the feds will result in massive amounts of funds being doled out with little, if any, meaningful oversight or accountability...

Or those funds just might find Wisconsin ACORN checking accounts, eh?

...the Democrat majority in the State Assembly failed to take action on Assembly Joint Resolution 3. If adopted, AJR 3 would set up a bi-partisan committee of lawmakers - the Joint Committee on Economic Stimulus Accountability (JCESA) to specifically shine light on the use of federal bailout funds provided to the State of Wisconsin. Because Democrats control both Houses in the Legislature, they would have a majority on JCESA.

So the funds could STILL be directed to ACORN, except the Republicans would be able to document it....

...Democrats in the Assembly contended that the oversight provided by JCESA would "slow down" the expenditure of federal funds and thus hamper Wisconsin's recovery. This argument fails to hold water, however, since JCESA would be specifically required to hold a public hearing on any proposals within seven (7) days of the referral of the bill to the committee and issue its report no later than seven (7) days after the public hearing...

IOW, the Dimowit response was non-responsive.

How original.

Source: Gundrum Newsletter

"Fairness" = "Localism"--Catholic Radio on the ChopBlock

Sykes (thank God) has a contract extension.

But one wonders if the FCC regs will allow continuance.

As reported recently in the National Catholic Register, a new version of the so-called Fairness Doctrine is threatening Catholic radio. Under the new Obama administration, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will begin applying "localism" regulations to radio station licenses. Steve Gajdosik, president of the Catholic Radio Association, calls these regulations "the death knell for Catholic radio."

...the impact of localism could be the same as the Fairness Doctrine, since the FCC can take away a station's license if it's found not to serve the "interests" of the local community

...The head of the FCC transition team for Podesta and Obama is another supporter of localism standards: Henry Rivera, former chairman of the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council. The council spells out what is intended by localism:

"Broadcasters must . . . look for leaders in the civic, religious, and non-profit sectors that regularly serve the needs of the community, particularly the needs of minority groups that are typically poorly served by the broadcasting industry as a whole."

One could certainly argue that Catholic radio serves "minority interests" because there are lots of Catholics who are 'minorities.' On the other hand, the regs have onerous requirements on staffing, physical location, etc., which most Catholic stations simply cannot afford.

It will be interesting to see how the standards are applied.

HT: InsideCatholic

Peasants, Turn Down the Heat!

But not Presidents. Ed Morrissey mentions "Mr. Workout's" disregard for the environment.

Last week, Barack Obama caused quite a stir when he allowed himself to be photographed in the Oval Office without wearing a suit jacket, ending the Bush tradition of coat-and-tie for the West Wing. The New York Times reports on how Obama made that possible during a colder-than-usual Washington winter. All Obama did was turn up the thermostat to Hawaii hothouse levels

Morrissey also provides a quote from Candidate Obama:

“We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times … and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK,” Obama said.

“That’s not leadership. That’s not going to happen,” he added

Unless it's the White House, of course.

Arugula, steaks, and warmth with the martinis, waiter!!

HT: ProEcclesia

500,000 New Papists?

This will be a very interesting development.

It appears Rome is on the brink of welcoming close to half a million members of the Traditional Anglican Communion into membership of the Roman Catholic Church, writes Anthony Barich. Such a move would be the most historic development in Anglican-Catholic relations in the last 500 years. But it may also be a prelude to a much greater influx of Anglicans waiting on the sidelines, pushed too far by the controversy surrounding the consecration of practising homosexual bishops, women clergy and a host of other issues

An announcement could be made soon after Easter this year. It is understood that Pope Benedict XVI, who has taken a personal interest in the matter, has linked the issue to the year of St Paul, the greatest missionary in the history of the Church.

The Basilica of St Paul outside the Walls could feature prominently in such an announcement for its traditional and historical links to Anglicanism. Prior to the English Reformation it was the official Church of the Knights of the Garter. The TAC’s Primate, Adelaide-based Archbishop John Hepworth, told The Record he has also informed the Holy See he wants to bring all the TAC’s bishops to Rome for the beatification of Cardinal Henry Newman, also an Anglican convert to the Catholic Church, as a celebration of Anglican-Catholic unity.

Trust me. There will be a lot of Roman merchants selling garters if this occurs.

HT: Ignatius

Sam Adams, Prophet

In the days of George III, it came to pass that the Sugar Act was imposed, taxing some elements of trade with the Colonies.

A Boston fellow was asked to respond to the King on behalf of the traders of his town.

He wrote, in part, this:

“What still heightens our apprehensions is that these unexpected proceedings may be preparatory to new taxation upon us: For if our trade may be taxed why not our lands? Why not the produce of our lands and everything we possess and make use of?”

Why not, indeed?

Who knew that George III was such a frugal piker in comparison to Wilson, FDR, and the several States?

HT: FirstThings

On Education

This should lend some fire to the debate in which McIlheran and Esenberg participate.

It is quaint that people talk of separating dogma from education. Dogma is actually the only thing that cannot be separated from education. It is education. A teacher who is not dogmatic is simply a teacher who is not teaching.”

--GK Chesterton

HT Chesterton and Friends

"We Knew About the Mortgage Fraud"--FBI

Umnnnhhh...

"The FBI was aware for years of "pervasive and growing" fraud in the mortgage industry that eventually contributed to America's financial meltdown, but did not take definitive action to stop it.

"It is clear that we had good intelligence on the mortgage-fraud schemes, the corrupt attorneys, the corrupt appraisers, the insider schemes," said a recently retired, high FBI official. Another retired top FBI official confirmed that such intelligence went back to 2002.

The problem, according to the two FBI retirees and several other current and former bureau colleagues, is that the bureau was stretched so thin that no one noticed when those lenders began packaging bad mortgages into bad securities.

FBI had assigned 2400 folks to the anti-terror effort...

Even MORE interesting:

And Falvey said that financial executives who deliberately chose not to learn the facts about dicey mortgage-lending practices in their companies -- who chose to be "willfully blind" to such practices and the subsequent securitization of those mortgages -- could be vulnerable to prosecution for securities fraud.

Both retired FBI officials asserted that the Bush administration was thoroughly briefed on the mortgage fraud crisis and its potential to cascade out of control with devastating financial consequences, but made the decision not to give back to the FBI the agents it needed to address the problem

Well, that statement is a bit self-serving--that is, I think there's more to the story on "needed agent-power."

But the timeline is interesting. Think of who was running WaMu, or Golden West, during that timeframe...

HT: MarketTicker

Obama "Ethics" Statement: FooFooDust

Take it from someone who knows.

President Obama’s executive order of Jan. 21, “Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel,” is well intentioned but na├»ve and essentially unenforceable. The lobbying ban on “particular matters” perpetuates the same loophole that has made the federal “revolving door” criminal statute a dead letter since Congress first passed it decades ago.

For these ethics restrictions to work, there must be an open, publicly accessible reporting system where every executive branch appointee records meetings with registered lobbyists during and after working hours, both inside and outside the office.

Nope. That wasn't written by a Dittohead, sorry.

And if you want to take bets on "..open, publicly accessible reporting system..." the line forms at this window. My position? Ain't gonna happen. Ever. No how. No Way.

HT: Sunlight

Remember the $500 Walk-Behind Mower?

Talk about asinine ideas.

Regulators, led by the California Air Resources Board, pressed for less pollution from the small-engine industry as emissions from cars and trucks improved.

They argued that Briggs and other engine-makers could install catalytic converters on small engines to reduce pollution. Briggs, the world's largest producer of small gasoline engines, said the equipment would pose safety hazards and would be too costly for products such as walk-behind lawn mowers

"Cats" are extremely hot during and after use, and very, very expensive. The 'cat' on your car costs about $400.00. Even if one scales down the cost to the size of the engine, you're still talking $100.00 just for the platinum.

Better idea: stop cutting the damn grass in California.

HT: FoxPolitics

Testify Against BATFE? Expect Revenge

One of the more curious stories you'll ever see.

The BATFE has arrested a weapon-conversion-kit.

You read that correctly. Not a person.

A kit.

Background: Savage designs NFA-related items. This one enables the owner of a lawful NFA firearm to convert it to a different caliber. BATFE originally ruled that the item was not a firearm, let alone an NFA one; it was a conversion kit. After Len gave some expert testimony in several cases against the agency, it reversed its ruling and held that the kit was an NFA firearm. Now it's pursuing forfeiture of it.

The linked story at OfArms fills you in a bit. Even the US Attorney can't restrain herself on this one.

No Arugula?

News report:

After pushing his $1.1 trillion Generational Theft Act of 2009 through the House last night, the White House apparently decided to throw itself a swank cocktail party. According to ABC’s Jake Tapper, the menu included alcoholic beverages (vodka martinis are an Obama favorite, reportedly) and wagyu steak.

Yeah, “wagyu steak.” $100 per serving delicacy.

$100./serving.

No wonder they don't have that at Pick-N-Save.

The Depression's Recession

There is talk that FDR didn't spend enough money, which resulted in another recession during the Depression.

Not really. Lott presents this:

"In early 1937 the Federal Reserve doubled the required reserve ratios of the banking system with the purpose of immobilizing reserves and preventing future inflation. After some months, this action was followed by declines in the stock of money and real output. Money fell -0.37 percent between 1937 and 1938 while prices fell -0.50 percent, and real output fell -8.23 percent. High-powered money, responding to other forces, rose by 7.95 percent during the same year. Friedman and Schwartz conclude that the correlation between the decline in the stock of money and the decline in economic activity must have resulted from chance or from causation running from money to economic activity."

"Doubling the required reserve" had the same effect that we are seeing today in the banking system: loans are damn hard to get, no matter WHAT you offer in collateral.

It had nothing whatever to do with Federal spending.

One could also argue that the '37/'39 recession was a normal cyclical event; there had been three years of recovery before 1937.

Want Mortgage Insurance?

Genworth has added the entire State of Wisconsin to its "distressed areas" list; so if you want to obtain mortgage insurance, it might be tough.

Minimum Credit Score = 700

Maximum Debt-to-Income = 41% regardless of AUS or submission channel

No word on MGIC's guidelines.

HT: Calculated Risk

Recovery Ideas: Cut Prices of Goods and Services!

Limbaugh mentions some interesting facts and has a couple of ideas.

...most Americans, according to a new Rasmussen poll, are skeptical. Rasmussen finds that 59% fear that Congress and the president will increase government spending too much. Only 17% worry they will cut taxes too much

No question that Gummint spending will increase too much. That's already through the House.

...cut the U.S. corporate tax rate -- at 35%, among the highest of all industrialized nations -- in half. Suspend the capital gains tax for a year to incentivize new investment, after which it would be reimposed at 10%.

Never mind Limbaugh's wording. No "corporation" actually pays income taxes. People (you and me) who buy that corporation's products pay that tax. What Limbaugh is advocating here is actually price-reductions of virtually all goods and services sold in the US.

And, of course, there will be more cash-on-hand with which to maintain profits, retain employees, continue R&D, purchase machinery and equipment...

You know: actual "recovery."

"Controlled, Reasonable, Checkpoints"??

From Doylie's State of the State recap:

The Governor added Wisconsin should also work to allow law enforcement officers to set up controlled, reasonable sobriety checkpoints.

Shutting down I-94, Hy. 100, Capitol Drive, Hy. 29, I-43...to sniff breath.

I don't buy it. Either there is articulable cause or not. And we already know that random mass traffic disruptions do NOT produce results:

...according to longtime traffic-safety researcher James C. Fell, a senior program director at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, an organization funded largely by government grants.

"There's a reluctance by police to use them for two reasons," Fell said. "One, there's a perception that they take a lot of resources. . . . The other thing is police for the most part think they're not effective because they don't arrest that many drivers."

Most likely Doylie was posing for holy pictures. The facts certainly don't make his case.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rodney Dangerfield As If He Were Catholic

The Jester had a very, very good night.

I once went to a retreat house of a progressive order of nuns. They sent me to a prayer labyrinth. Took me 5 days to get out of there. No respect. Later they gave me directions to protest the missiles at the local military base, turns out it was during a live firing

...I finally got a spiritual director. He told me that I must follow his direction exactly and not question his advice. He asked me if I could do that. I said yes and he said "Good, then leave and never come back." I tell you it is really hard being me.

...I have a devotion to St. Therese the Little Flower. I was praying to her to intercede for me and I asked for a sign. Sure enough next day somebody gave me some Rose stems.

There are plenty more at the link.

"Stimulating" Exactly What?

Snippets of stupidity ripped from the seamless garment of inanity:

...the "stimulus" package includes $50 million for the National Endowment of the Arts to help "the arts community throughout the United States." Wouldn't want our economy to get behind in the international arts competition. The government is going to borrow $50 million out of the private economy to spend on this, which will result in a net loss of economic output rather than a net gain.

Another $2.1 billion is for Head Start, another program not previously known for stimulating the economy. A further $2 billion is to be spent on Child Care Development Block Grants, which provide day care. We are going to revive economic growth through the federal government spending billions on babysitting, rather than tax cuts for capital investment. A similar initiative involves $120 million to finance part-time work for seniors in community service agencies.Then there is $500 million to speed the processing of applications for Social Security disability claims. This has already created one net new job in the employment of a person within the Obama Administration assigned to figure out what this has to do with stimulating the economy.

All sorts of productive economic activity there, people...

Pete Ferrara via The Winning McCain

Common Sense Is Peanuts

Hmmmmmm. Rather than some school-wide ban on all peanut products, what about Common Sense?

The conversation would surprise most school administrators and parents, who’ve grown accustomed to no-nuts policies at schools, daycares and other places where children gather. Calon didn’t want Trinity’s school to ban peanut butter or anything else containing nuts. She simply wanted the teachers to know who her daughter was, where her epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen) was located and how to use it if Trinity was in trouble.

“The best thing I can do is prepare her for later in life, to make her accountable for her allergy,” Calon says. “I’m not always there with her. I want her to be responsible and question everything.”

It’s a view that’s becoming more common as some parents, physicians and even the national association for anaphylaxis awareness question whether food bans actually work.

Geez. What a concept!

HT: Schneier

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act SUCKS

Last night, Channel 6 (Fox News/Milwaukee) ran a short item about the CPSIA. It didn't even scratch the surface of the impact this bill will have, but they did find a used-toys retailer who fretted a bit.

Why didn't it even "scratch the surface"? Let us count the ways.

Barbed with penalties that include felony prison time and fines of $100,000, the law goes into effect in stages; one key deadline is Feb. 10, when it becomes unlawful to ship goods for sale that have not been tested. Eventually, new kids' goods will all have to be subjected to more stringent "third-party" testing, and it will be unlawful to give away untested inventory even for free

we're not just talking about toys here. With few exceptions, the law covers all products intended primarily for children under 12. That includes clothing, fabric and textile goods of all kinds: hats, shoes, diapers, hair bands, sports pennants, Scouting patches, local school-logo gear and so on.

And paper goods: books, flash cards, board games, baseball cards, kits for home schoolers, party supplies and the like. And sporting equipment, outdoor gear, bikes, backpacks and telescopes. And furnishings for kids' rooms.


And videogame cartridges and audio books. And specialized assistive and therapeutic gear used by disabled and autistic kids

Think that it just covers new toys, clothing, diapers, board games, and furniture?

Wrong-o, naivete-breath.

...Contrary to some reports, thrift and secondhand stores are not exempt from the law. Although (unlike creators of new goods) they aren't obliged to test the items they stock, they are exposed to liability and fines if any goods on their shelves (or a component button, bolt, binding, etc.) are found to test above the (very low) thresholds being phased in.

Nor does it get them off the hook to say an older product's noncompliance with the new standards wasn't something they knew or should have known about


Pretty much puts Goodwill, Salvation Army, and St Vincent dePaul out of business.

Oh, by the way: your library's costs are about to skyrocket.

And even worse: Since the law does not exempt books, children's' sections at libraries and bookstores will, at minimum, face price hikes on newly acquired titles and, at worse, may have to rethink older holdings

Cancel the Ethnic-Fests at Milwaukee's lakefront:

A traditional attraction on the heritage festival circuit is the kids' dance or performance troupe in ethnic, pioneer or frontier garb, often handcrafted with the sort of ornate detail (beads, pendants, lace inserts, etc.) that will not be practical to test.

The same goes for Native American kids' cherished
moccasins, buckskins and powwow gear.

There ARE beneficiaries: the Big Boys of the toys and clothing industries such as Hasbro, Mattel, (etc.)

There are 300 million who will pay for it.

More and More and More Debt


If all families were asked to equally shoulder the burden of the $825 billion “stimulus” package, it would be like asking them to take on an amount of debt equivalent to what they spend on food, clothing, and health care — or most of what they spend on shelter — for an entire year.
No wonder Malkin refers to this as the "intergenerational theft plan."
Bad enough that Social Security/Medicare are a $450Trillion deadweight (yet to be funded.) Now Dave Obey and his merry band of spend-a-holics add another trillion.
But that's hardly all. More than 30% of the "plan" is Additional Gummint Programs, which as we all know, never go away. Never.
Proud of what you're handing on to your children, and their children?

Poll: Less Gummint! (Less Cancer)

Clay Cramer found a nugget.

This poll taken earlier this month, published in the January 17, 2009 Washington Post shows that 53% of Americans would prefer less government with less services, while 43% wanted more government, and more services

And he understands the Obama victory properly.

...some of it is that the Obama vs. McCain choice was really two different liberals, arguing about what parts of the government they were going to expand. If Republicans would take a consistent position in favor of a smaller government, they would have a powerful tool for winning. But that would require Republicans interested in winning.

Not quite.

Cramer is insufficiently cynical. What we have here is the Party-Of-Governnment (PIG) problem with folks like Specter, McConnell, McCain, Snowe (et al). They actually 'think' that more Gummint is GOOD Gummint.

And, frankly, they also think that they and their friends are doing us all a favor by Ruling More.

Well, cancer does its victim a favor too: after torturing the victim, it kills him.

See? A favor!!

The ACORN Relief and Lobbying Assistance Bill

Here's a description of the scheme.

Title XII of the spending legislation backed by the Democratic congressional leadership and the Obama administration would dole out $1 billion in old-fashioned slush funds for the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) program...

...the biggest chunk of the $5.2 billion comes in the form of $4.19 billion for foreclosure relief through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

Although ACORN operatives usually get their hands on such funds only after they have first passed through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or state and local governments, the new spending bill largely eliminates these dawdling middle men, making it easier to get Uncle Sam's largess directly into the hands of the same people who run ACORN's various vote fraud and extortion rackets. And the legislative package provides these funds without the usual prohibition on using government money for lobbying or political activities.

I'm certain that eliminating that provision was merely an oversight.

Ask Dave Obey.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bullet Control?

Some silly ideas.

Eugene Kane and Joe Zilber discuss gun control ideas:

Zilber chuckled when I mentioned comedian Chris Rock, who once said the key to gun control was making all guns free but charging an exorbitant amount - as high as $5,000 - for a single bullet.

That might make people think twice about firing a gun.


"That's pretty good," said Zilber. He didn't dismiss it out of hand. "You could buy an ammunition company and do it that way."

Actually, as Zilber undoubtedly knows, he'd have to buy ALL the ammo companies (and then find a way to prevent imports) to make that happen.

Of course, the DA weighed in, too.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said Zilber's plan was an attempt to deal with some of the most frustrating aspects of gun control laws in Wisconsin. Although the state has some of the nation's strictest laws in regards to carrying concealed weapons, Chisholm said, Wisconsin's laws concerning the buying and selling of guns are relatively weak.

"We're very schizophrenic in our approach to gun control laws," he told me. In fact, Chisholm talked of a recent case in which police tracked a gun that had changed hands up to nine times

What law would the DA propose to stop gun trafficking amidst the criminal element in Milwaukee? When a gun comes to Chisholm's attention, it's 99.99999% likely that the weapon was used by (or in possession of) a criminal.

So it's a foregone conclusion that the guy-with-the-gun doesn't really care TOO much about such things as "laws."

Traditional Politics, Doyle Version

No big surprise here.

Gov. Jim Doyle's administration has hired a former legislative aide convicted of two misdemeanors in the caucus scandal to a six-figure job leading the state's federal lobbying effort.

Tanya Bjork, 38, was convicted of two misdemeanors in 2005 for her role in the largest political scandal in state history. Bjork served as a chief of staff to former Sen. Brian Burke (D-Milwaukee), who was convicted of a felony and misdemeanor in 2005 as part of a widespread investigation that uncovered political campaigning using taxpayer resources. Before she worked for Burke, she worked for the Assembly Democratic Caucus

What makes Ms. Bjork so extra-special?

Heck said the job represented a "continuation of the political spoils system" because Bjork ran the presidential campaign of Barack Obama in Wisconsin.

Even with a fiscal crisis, Doyle managed to find a bunch of money.

Bjork, who started the new job Monday, will earn $102,000 a year - 17% more than her predecessor. The job had been open for about 14 months

Fourteen months, or just about the timeframe during which Ms. Bjork was otherwise occupied (with Obama.)

"Hush Rush" By Any Other Name

The LeftoBloggers keep telling us that the "Fairness Doctrine" is dead, dead, dead.

And it is.

But there are a lot of ways to skin a cat, folks.

Obama elaborates on the site that his aim is to "encourage diversity in the ownership of broadcast media, promote the development of new media outlets for expression of diverse viewpoints, and clarify the public interest obligations of broadcasters who occupy the nation's spectrum."

"Clarify the public interest obligations" is another way to say that there will be FCC regs which find a way to define "public interest" so as to dump Rush, Sykes, Belling (et al), one way or the other. It doesn't have to be shutting them down.

Wis. Unemployment Tax Hike Coming

There's no other way to read this report.

Here's the State Auditor's letter (pertinent grafs):


...the Fund’s balance has continued to decline from its high of $1.9 billion as of
June 30, 2000. As of June 30, 2008, the Unemployment Reserve Fund balance was $608.8 million.


It has continued to decline after that date, and as of November 30, 2008, $312.0 million was
available to pay benefits. The Department expects that the Fund’s cash balances will be depleted
in February 2009, at which time borrowed federal funds will be needed in order to continue
unemployment benefit payments
.


2007 Wis. Act 59 included several provisions to strengthen the Unemployment Reserve Fund,
including increasing the amount of wages subject to unemployment taxes starting in calendar
year 2009, with additional increases in 2011 and 2013. However,
given current economic conditions, it is unclear whether anticipated increases in revenues from the taxes paid by employers will be sufficient to restore the Fund’s balances, and further changes may be needed to increase employer taxes or reduce unemployment benefit payments.

Gee. That's really great.

Monday, January 26, 2009

England Almost Sank

Interesting little tidbit:

Britain was just three hours away from going bust last year after a secret run on the banks, one of Gordon Brown's Ministers has revealed.

City Minister Paul Myners disclosed that on Friday, October 10, the country was 'very close' to a complete banking collapse after 'major depositors' attempted to withdraw their money en masse.
The Mail on Sunday has been told that the Treasury was preparing for the banks to shut their doors to all customers, terminate electronic transfers and even block hole-in-the-wall cash withdrawals.


Only frantic behind-the-scenes efforts averted financial meltdown.


If the moves had failed, Mr Brown would have been forced to announce that the Government was nationalising the entire financial system and guaranteeing all deposits.


Well, THAT would have been a diversion, eh, old chap?

HT: MarketTicker

Mitch McConnell Tries "Bob Dole"

McConnell, who is the US Senate minority leader, has a few deficiencies.

...Lately, the GOP has been intent on starting from outside the base and working its way in.

Mitch McConnell is indicative of this problem and seems intent on spreading his party killing cancer. He needs to turn back from the path down which he intends to lead the Republican Party.

Erikson then quotes Roll Call:

Although McConnell’s speech could prove unpopular with the activists who generally attend the winter meeting, it could also provide a rallying cry for old-line Republicans to reassert their authority within the party, one GOP source familiar with the meeting said

"Old-line" is a euphemism for Country Club Pubbies. The actual, live fat-cat crowd which, secure in their seats (and benefits, perks, and pensions) ekes out niche-tax-breaks for certain very-special-inDEED clientele. Otherwise, they kinda don't really give a damn, just like in the movie.

Does McConnell deserve the scorn? Erikson thinks so. Here's a partial list:

Mitch McConnell...has consistently sided with porkers over reformers, and never has enacted what he promised to do - reform/transparency re: earmarks and the appropriations process ...failed to make sure Chambliss, and his gang of idiots, didn’t screw up the energy negotiations. Our “signature issue” was left dangling over August heading into the political season with a bunch of pissed off people...allowed moderates like Coleman, Smith and Collins to dictate the overall Republican Conference message, like leaving ANWR out of our energy bill(s). Nice record on those guys in the election, huh?

Plenty more at the link.

For want of a leader, the Party is lost, folks.

The Government Bank

The Government Bank (decorated with pretty pictures of Obama and Pelosi) may be coming to your town soon.

What a deal!

[M]ost members of the Obama economic team concede that the rapid deterioration of the country’s biggest banks, notably Bank of America and Citigroup, is bound to require far larger investments of taxpayer money, atop the more than $300 billion of taxpayer money already poured into those two financial institutions and hundreds of others.

But if hundreds of billions of dollars of new investment is needed ... what do taxpayers get in return? --NYTimes

Pelosi is on record as playing with the idea of nationalization; at the rate the Feds are purchasing stock in Citi and BofA, (and guaranteeing against loan-losses) it's a fait accompli.

So far, President Obama’s top aides have steered clear of the word entirely, and they are still actively discussing other alternatives, including creating a “bad bank” that would nationalize the worst nonperforming loans by taking them off the hands of financial institutions without actually taking ownership of the banks. Others talk of de facto nationalization, in which the government owns a sizeable chunk of the banks but not a majority

Just another way to hand out pork and favors, I suppose.

HT Calculated Risk

$53 Trillion Entitlement Deficit vs. QueenNancy

Mitch McConnell, (R-Ky) reminds us that the US has a $53Trillion entitlements deficit. The Government has promised $53Trillion more than it will collect to pay benefits to the elderly over the next 50 years or so.

McConnell's warning is not exactly news; Paul Ryan (R-WI) has been talking about it for a couple of years; and the former Comptroller of the Currency has been all over the country talking about it.

Only two things could happen to resolve this: 1) entitlements are reduced, or 2) tax revenues increase.

Enter QueenNancy Pelosi, who likes entitlements (especially and intitlement like large, comfortable Air Force jets at her disposal.)

QueenNancy defends the "stimulus plan"'s $umpty-hundreds of million being spent on birth-control pills.

Aside from the facial inanity of that earmark, a benefit only to certain drug manufacturers and Planned Barrenhood, the Queen might like to ponder the longer-term results of the expenditure: less US taxpayers.

On the one hand, a long-term increase in tax revenues is absolutely critical to maintaining Social Security and Medicare.

On the other hand, The Queen proposes to reduce the number of people PAYING such taxes.

Clearly, foresight is not one of QueenNancy's abilities.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Koschnik Forgot a Couple of Shirley-Paloozas

While Judge Koschnik points to three of Justice Abrahamson's decisions as "activist," he forgets about the most "activist" ones.

He mentions a 'bloody shirt' evidentiary dispute, the "who's the Legislature, anyway?" arrogance, and the "Sue 'em all!!" lead-paint issue.

But Shirley is also known for her "Mommy, May I??" decisions on self-defense, wherein she attempts to ignore the Wisconsin Constitution in favor of State laws. (Hint: the Constitution is supposed to prevail, not the law.)

And I'm certain that Mark Green has his own favorite "Shirley-Palooza" Bonzo-Justice stories...

Who Needs a Cabinet, Anyway??

Politico agrees with my thoughts.

President Barack Obama is taking far-reaching steps to centralize decision-making inside the White House, surrounding himself with influential counselors, overseas envoys and policy "czars" that shift power from traditional Cabinet posts.

The AB will recognize that statement--it's the long version of what I posted in a response-box.

For all the talk of his “Team of Rivals” pick in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Obama last week handed the two hottest hotspots in American foreign policy to presidential envoys – one to former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, and the other to a man who knows his way around Foggy Bottom better than Clinton does, Richard Holbrooke."Czar" Carol Browner will head up Obama's fight on global warming, where once his energy and environmental chiefs might have stepped in. Tom Daschle scored a ground floor office in the West Wing not by running Health and Human Services – but because of his role as Obama's health-reform czar.

Obama is still trolling for a Commerce Secretary--but who needs one? He has David Axelrod.

Look at it this way: his nominee for IRS Overlord is a tax evader. His nominee for Ass't SecDef is a lobbyist, and he was forced to make a "one-time exception" from his "rules." His SecState has more conflicts of interest than a junior high has pimples.

He doesn't give a rotten fig about the Cabinet. It's a joke.

And that, my friends, is something to ponder.

JS Child Care Investigation Hits Grand Slam

The JSOnline reports that State of Wisconsin taxpayers are getting ripped off. AND the Federal taxpayers are in the same boat.

Nice work!

On paper Angela Hale is a child-care provider.

She reported taking care of the same five kids seven days a week while their mom supposedly worked at a lawn-care service, even in the winter months.

The government paid Hale more than $30,000 last year for her child-care business.
It appears the government got duped. Hale didn't care for the kids at times she said she did, nor did the mom legitimately work, the Journal Sentinel found
.

There's a long story. As usual, the good stuff is near the end.

While state and county regulators have authority to revoke licenses and certifications, they seldom do. From 2003 to 2007, state regulators revoked fewer than 10 licenses for suspected fraud. Counties, meanwhile, shut down two providers based on fraudulent billing to Wisconsin Shares.

...Some officials familiar with Wisconsin Shares say there's not much incentive to police the program. Much of the funding comes from federal block grants.

The federal government spends more than $5 billion on child-care development grants every year. That doesn't include other assistance that goes toward child-care subsidies.


An annual audit is mandated by the federal government but requires only a listing of how money was spent. It does not examine program integrity.


The state hasn't completed a full-program audit since 2001. And as for Milwaukee County's oversight: "We typically wouldn't go in and audit what's essentially a state program," said Doug Jenkins of the county Department of Audit.


In 2007, state representative Robin Vos (R-Racine) co-sponsored legislation giving counties incentives to crack down on fraud. Neither the state nor officials with Milwaukee County could say how the incentive program has worked.

"I think they're being incredibly generous when they say someone filled out a time sheet for 20 kids and they were never there," Vos said. "Is that error or is that fraud?"

We can all concede that people make mistakes. But I have a hard time accepting $200++K in "mistakes," as the JS reports for a few instances.

Of course, there is the "negative incentive," too: if the program shrinks, there's less need for County and State workers, right?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A National Treasure

Too bad GWB didn't give this guy a Medal of Freedom before he left the White Temple.

The Epic, altered, and utterly unrewarding to the scan-a-holic, but still holding up.

..."for I am Obamacles,Lord of Illinus, who single handedly conquered the LSATsand disarmed the Chicagomon. What task would you possibly fear me with?"

"You are to led the Demos back to the White Temple, by vanquishing Hildusa."

At the sound of Hildusa's name even brave Obamacles was driven to wet his toga,
For Hildusa, cuckolder of Bubba, was the mightiest of all the gorgons.
From her head grew a writhing nest of asps, and the mere sight of her cankles
Would turn a man to stone. Some said she came from Lesbos
But others said her only pleasure was torment and sucking the marrow from her victim's bones.
Around her at all times was a phalanx guard of mincing eunuchs,
led by Ickis, Wolfsonis, Blumenthalis and Pennis. At her side, an angry force
of menopausal PUMAs ready to strike on her command -- for the children

Believe it or not, the whole thing is just that good or better.

Another, sir?

Certainly:

...Hildusa was enraged for she thought them allies, and shot them the stink-eye.
"Destroy Obamacles!" she bellowed at her Eunuchs,
But they were retards and got busted for DUI on the chariot ride over.
Then Obamacles shot the arrow of Iowa across abyss of Dukakis,
striking Hildusa true in her cankles, no more to freeze men to stone,
And all of Demos roared approval.

"Citizens of Demos," screamed the hobbled gorgon, "fair Obamacles is not what he appears! Look, behind him! A phalanx of Chicagomon, the demons from the pits of Illinus!"
When the Demos people saw the Chicagomon they shrugged,

but Obamacles was taking no chances for the general battle;
He had no more further use for the Chicagomon and thus he summoned
Underbus, the destroyer of memes. One by one he disposed them,The Jeremiad and Phlegeron and Ayres, all sacrificed to Underbus.
When Hildusa saw this her eyes boiled with rage,
and she summoned her Amazon Pumas
But they were too fat and old and employed
to battle the snarky college assholes in official Obamacles tunics.

HT: Esenberg, who should tell Fr. JDLaurance to translate this to Greek. Then maybe the damn thing will scan into hexameter.

The Heavy, Heavy Hand of the Feds

Hillyer has a two-part essay about a fellow who is working on creating renewable energy.

Excerpt from Part One:

In Salmon, Evertson spent $100,000 of his family’s money seeking to create a fuel cell that would use pure sodium, mixed with borax (yes, the detergent ingredient), to create clean energy without polluting the environment.

Pure sodium is a metal that, when in direct contact with a certain amount of water, can explode. But it can be easily bought online when it is packaged correctly, that is, surrounded by an oil solution that protects against water.

...Evertson said he planned to return once he raised enough money to re-start his experiments. He moved to his mother’s house in Wasilla, Alaska, taking a few dozen pounds of sodium with him, and began selling the sodium on E-bay to raise funds to finance a new gold-mining expedition.

Then on May 27, 2004, federal agents in black SUVs and waving assault rifles, appeared out of nowhere, forced Evertson’s truck off the road, and arrested him. He was charged for shipping sodium he had sold on E-Bay by air, which is understandably forbidden as a result of its potential explosiveness.

What he didn’t know was that in the UPS system, ground transportation from Alaska actually is carried by air. That meant Evertson should have put a special sticker on the package of sodium routing it for special “ground” treatment.

Federal authorities could have treated the incident as a simple civil violation, but instead chose to charge Evertson with a serious criminal offense.

You'll have to go to the link to find out what happened in court.

Oh, don't worry: it gets worse.

When federal agents first interviewed Krister Evertson about his shipping sodium he had sold on E-Bay via UPS, he described his fuel cell experiments back home in Idaho in great detail.

Federal authorities in Alaska sent word to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Idaho, which promptly dispatched its agents to the industrial supply facility in Salmon where Evertson had stored his fuel cell materials.


The EPA agents treated the materials like a Superfund site. They cut open his steel drums, cleared away a perimeter – and, by their own account, spent some $430,000 disposing of every bit of Evertson’s painstakingly assembled experiments.

“They never told me; they just went and did it,” Evertson told The Washington Examiner ...

Never mind that Evertson had clearly saved the material for future use rather than abandoning it. Never mind that it would be potentially dangerous only if taken out of the storage materials Evertson had so carefully constructed.

And never mind, finally, that, in the words of Evertson’s appellate brief, none of the materials were “discharged into the air, land or sea,” and the government failed to produce any evidence “that the defendant intended this to happen.”

Indeed, the brief notes, “the EPA witness, Marc Callaghan, testified that the materials became hazardous waste [only] when the EPA disposed of them.”

Again, you have to go to the link. But no matter if you're a "Greenie" or not, you'll be disturbed.

Unless, of course, you're a Justice Department "greenie" lawyer.

The reason for the article?

Simple. The utterly distorted (you could say "lying") claims that GWB's folks applied a 'litmus test' to Justice candidates--which is another linked item at the source, Southern Appeal.

Perception and Reality



It is reported that the former Chairman of Lehman Brothers has transferred title of his $13.5MM Jupiter Island shack to his wife's name.

It is reported that John Thain of Merrill, Lynch, authorized $4Bn in bonus payments (of which he took HIS part, too) before the taxpayer-financed bailout of MLPF&S by Bank of America.

Those are the reports which have surfaced...

HT: Ritholtz

Obama's Fear? Rush Limbaugh

Another rookie mistake from the President.

The Drudge Report blared the New York Post report by Charles Hurt that President Obama told the Republicans in Congress that they should go along and get along, and stop listening to Rush Limbaugh: "You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done."

Like referring to PRC's manipulation of its currency as "manipulation." It may be correct, but it's not how senior statesmen use the language on the record.

Here, Obama identified his principal (and principled, we add) opponent, knowing full well that Limbaugh speaks for the 58 million folks who voted for someone else last November.

HT: Newsbusters

The Missing Numbers

MSM reports on the annual March for Life were devoid of a crowd-count.

Strange, eh?

There are valid estimates:

March for Life chief organizer Nellie Gray told LifeSiteNews the crowd definitely appeared larger than normal this year. She said there were "definitely over 200,000" participants and noted that one television station reported that there were 300,000 participants in the march. Gray also said the march normally takes about one and a half hours to pass one point, but this year it took over two and a half hours, indicating a large increase in numbers

Of course, these are people who 'don't count' in the current Washington calculus.

WisTax "Partisan"?

Pot/Kettle.

OWN reported WisTax board members have donated $288,000 to conservative-leaning candidates compared to $24,500 to liberals and questioned if the group should be considered non-partisan.

WisTax President Todd Berry took issue with the report, saying it was misleading because it went back 19 years and included donations from some who were no longer on the group’s board; Berry said half of the current board members donated to Dem Gov. Jim Doyle in the last election.

One Wisconsin Now is run by someone named Scot Ross. He should know from "partisan;" here's his condensed resume:

Ross has held a series of positions in Wisconsin Democratic politics over the past decade, working for the old state Senate caucus, working on Kathleen Falk’s 2002 gubernatorial campaign, serving as Peg Lautenschlager’s spokesman at the state Department of Justice and even making an unsuccessful primary bid for secretary of state against longtime incumbent Doug La Follette in 2006.

Unmentioned are Ross' legal problems while 'working for the old state Senate caucus' (does the name Chvala ring a bell?), but let that pass.

The work that I have read from WisTax is not "partisan." It is analytical, and provides the truth about issues surrounding the tax climate in Wisconsin.

It is no surprise that Ross and OWN consider the truth to be "partisan." To committed Leftists, there is no truth except that which furthers their own interests.

And just for the record, we'll list the Board Members of OWN:

Bob Burke, Jim Rowen, Kerry Schumann, Michelle McGrorty, Stephanie Bloomingdale, David Tork, Kim Warkentin, Sheila Cochran and Scot Ross.

Check those names here, and see what you get.

End of "Choice" in Wisconsin?

This report is not clearly worded, but it is portentous.

Heritage Foundation's analysis of the "stimulus" package includes a reference to "choice" schools.

The House bill also creates a $79 billion State Fiscal Stabilization Fund to help states pay for public services, 61 percent of which must be spent on education. “[This money] comes with new federal restrictions designed to please leftist constituency groups,” say the authors. “For example, the legislation [...] require[s] that ‘no recipient of funds under this title shall use funds to provide financial assistance to students to attend private elementary or secondary schools.’”

In the longer run it makes no practical difference whether the bill prohibits Stimulus dollars to be used for 'financial assistance.....' or whether it prohibits non-Stimulus disbursements for the same purpose.

That's because, in the longer run, the purpose of the "Stimulus bill" is to facilitate Washington command-and-control of damn near everything.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Blago: Jim Doyle Is My Character Reference

Well, that would be the implication.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich said this afternoon that he hoped to get a chance to tell his side of the story during next week's Illinois Senate impeachment trial.

But Blagojevich, a Democrat, suggested that Gov. Jim Doyle, among others, would be a good witness in his defense.

Blagojevich made the statement this afternoon during a news conference in advance of the impeachment trial scheduled for Monday in the Illinois Senate in Springfield.

The Illinois governor specifically mentioned Doyle and Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. Blagojevich said that he and the two governors worked together to ease the importation of prescription drugs from Canada to the Midwest.

Doyle is not for sale (cough...):

Lee Sensenbrenner, a Doyle spokesman, said: "Obviously, the governor has no connection to what's happening in Illinois. We don't have a reaction to his remarks."

No connection? Seems to me that Jim Doyle whiled away some time at the Bears/Packers game in Soldier Field last year. Who were those seat-mates again??

Fun AND Games in Milwaukee

Today's JSOnline:

The North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance is planning a huge softball tournament for Milwaukee late this summer.

City officials and VISIT Milwaukee, the main tourism promotion organization in town, say as many as 200 teams and 4,000 athletes will be in Milwaukee from Aug. 29 through Sept. 7 this year to play in the tournament.

Games will be played on softball diamonds all over southeast Wisconsin. Milwaukee hosted the inaugural tournament in 1979 and again hosted the event in 1985.

VISIT Milwaukee officials say the group will have a $1 million economic impact on the city and will fill local hotels. The group is expected to book 1,755 hotel nights in Milwaukee.

There must be at least 200 puns available here....

Pogrom II?

Via Dreher:

At my dinner table on Friday night, a holocaust survivor admits that she is trying to persuade her son to take his family out of Europe to America, Canada, Australia, Canada, Australia, Israel...'They say they can't leave me, but I tell them: "Go, get out. My parents left my grandparents behind in Berlin and brought me to safety in England. Now I want you to leave so that my grandchildren will be safe."' There is an unbearable desperation in her plea. But she has a point.

(Quoting an essay in The Spectator)

The Muslim takeover of parts of Europe and England is having its effect...

Just Because

This particular quote strikes a personal chord with me.

We are not baptized into the hierarchy; [we] do not receive the Cardinals sacramentally, [we] will not spend an eternity in the beatific vision of the pope. Christ is the point.

I, myself, admire the present pope, but even if I criticized him as harshly as some do, even if his successor proved to be as bad as some of those who have gone before, even if I find the Church, as I have to live with it, a pain in the neck, I should still say that nothing a pope (or a priest) could do or say would make me wish to leave the Church although I might well wish that they would leave. --Frank Sheed

He's right, of course.

HT: Happy

Pretty Good Record of Gillibrand (D-NY)

The representative-who-will-be-Senator has impressed the Sunlight bunch.

Entering Congress in 2007, Gillibrand was at the vanguard of transparency innovation in Congress. She was the first congressional candidate to sign Sunlight’s Punch Clock pledge, a promise to post her daily schedule once she had taken office, and to post her schedule (which has been archived at Congresspedia). She was also one of the first to post her earmarks, earmark requests, and personal financial disclosures to her official web site without a requirement to do so. Gillibrand was also a chief proponent of requiring Inspector General reports to be posted online. We truly hope that she carries this spirit of transparency with her to the Senate.

Sunlight complains that her recent schedule-entries have been sparse; they don't include all meetings with all parties--but it's a good start, anyway!

Five Billion Gallons Saved

Yup.

Driving less saves gas.

Travel on all roads and streets changed by -5.3% (-12.9 billion vehicle miles) for November 2008 as compared with November 2007. Travel for the month is estimated to be 230.4 billion vehicle miles.

Cumulative Travel for 2008 changed by -3.7% (-102.1 billion vehicle miles).

Figuring a nice, round, 20 MPG average, that's a reduction of 5 billion gallons of gasoline consumed last year.

HT: Calculated Risk

No Gitmo Here!

The President doesn't exactly know what will become of the prisoners at Gitmo. But the Republicans know what should NOT become of them.

With President Obama ordering the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility within the year, House Republicans today introduced legislation to prohibit federal courts from ordering the release or transfer of detainees from the facility onto U.S. soil.

“Closing Guantanamo Bay presents a clear and present danger to all Americans," said House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lamar Smith. "These suspected terrorists must now be relocated and if they are transferred to military prisons in the U.S., they automatically will be granted rights far beyond those given to enemy combatants by any other country."

...In addition to preventing courts from bring enemy combatants into the U.S., the bill requires that an alien captured and detained abroad during wartime cannot be admitted and released into the country

Let's see how this plays out, eh?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Trouble in SEIU City

A California local discovers that once you're in the SEIU, you can't escape.

Sorta like Hell.

Link here to the AmSpec story (and a video of a noisy little invasion.)

Andy Stern's not worried. He has bodyguards.

Truth, Goodness, Beauty

The Aristotelian troika...

Deal Hudson proposes an interesting thesis.

In my earlier column, I spoke about the lack of "connectedness" that many non-practicing Catholics report when they are asked why they have stopped attending Mass. I limited my interpretation of this to their sense of rapport with other worshippers -- that is, I think, what elicited the criticism. It gave the impression that Catholics should primarily nurture an emotional connection among the members of the parish community to evangelize. Personal recognition is a good thing, but it is not the primary thing, at least among Catholics...

So what makes Catholics distinctive among other Christian groups? Certainly papal primacy, the authority of bishops and priests, the universality of the Church, and the meaning of sacraments are among the most important. Of the sacraments, our belief in the "real presence" of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist not only distinguishes us doctrinally but liturgically as well...

Here he quotes B-16:

[T]he most convincing demonstration of [faith's] truth against every denial, are the saints, and the beauty that the faith has generated. Today, for faith to grow, we must lead ourselves and the persons we meet to encounter the saints and to enter into contact with the Beautiful

He mentions rubrics AND the music, to which we would add the language and the decor. And no, I don't mean "Latin" by "language"--beautiful English would do.

And he wants to develop that theme.

I will argue that the beauty of liturgy, emanating from the Eucharistic sacrifice, has been marred by misguided liturgical improvisation. Dumbed-down liturgies have only increased the distance many Catholics feel from their Church, whatever their good intentions

We'll look forward to seeing that essay.