Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Accountability From the Gov't Accountability Board?

Dan's asking for a lot.

Months delayed and well beyond a reasonable cost, it’s about time the Government Accountability Board either have the vendor they paid several million dollars fix the site, or cancel the contract and find a company that will be held accountable - preferably from Wisconsin - who can.

Dan makes the point that for $2 million, the damn system SHOULD accept data and post it--and that inability to do either is not "a bug"--it's a system-design or main kernel code failure.

Kevin Kennedy is clueless, and so are the stuffed shirts who sit on the Board.

Seems to me that Three Card Monte should place a phone call.

Barney Frank: Your New Compensation Manager

Wonder how the folks at USBank, M&I, Chase, Associated Bank, and WellsFargo feel about this:

[I]n a little-noticed move, the House Financial Services Committee, led by chairman Barney Frank, has approved a measure that would, in some key ways, go beyond the most draconian features of the original AIG bill. The new legislation, the “Pay for Performance Act of 2009,” would impose government controls on the pay of all employees — not just top executives — of companies that have received a capital investment from the U.S. government. It would, like the tax measure, be retroactive, changing the terms of compensation agreements already in place.

...It applies to all employees of all companies involved, for as long as the government is invested. And it would not only apply going forward, but also retroactively to existing contracts and pay arrangements of institutions that have already received funds.In addition, the bill gives Geithner the authority to decide what pay is “unreasonable” or “excessive.”

That should make for some surly tellers, eh?

The bill already passed through Barney's House Committee.

HT: Malkin

Red Green--One of the Best

You haven't lived until you've seen a bit of Red Green.

HT: Heather

"Right Track" Poll: Read ALL of It

The lede blares: The number of Americans who believe that the nation is headed in the right direction has roughly tripled since Barack Obama's election


The percentage of Americans in the new poll who said the country is on the right track still stands at just 42 percent...

Further down, Ace finds even more interesting numbers.

Still, the overall numbers look pretty good for Obama, right?

Well, yes. Until you consider the partisan split of the poll, found in the data.

Democrat: 36%
Republican: 25%
Independent: 33%

Even with an 11-point advantage among Democrats, Obama cannot convince a majority that the country is on the right track or that his approach to spending and the deficit is correct.

No matter. The story was prepackaged.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Lehman Bros. Genius Investor..../Sarcasm

Oh, yah.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC) is a Gummint agency responsible for paying pensions to people whose pension is supposed to come from a Company--but the Company went out of business and cannot pay the pension.

Think, for example, of Allis-Chalmers retirees. When A-C went down, the pension obligations were transferred to PBGC. Although the payments are smaller, they come from a Gummint Agency--so that's kinda good, no?


Just months before the start of last year's stock market collapse, the federal agency that insures the retirement funds of 44 million Americans departed from its conservative investment strategy and decided to put much of its $64 billion insurance fund into stocks.

And which friggin' genius bought into the market at the TOP of the market?

...Charles E.F. Millard, the former agency director who implemented the strategy until the Bush administration departed on Jan. 20, dismissed such concerns. Millard, a former managing director of Lehman Brothers, said flatly that "the new investment policy is not riskier than the old one."

Only the Best and Brightest work for Investment banks on Wall Street.

The NEXT-best and brightest work for Gummint. Just ask any of them.

And remember, they want to handle your Health Care needs, too!!!

HT: Ticker

More on HR 875, the "Kill Small Farmers" Bill

Earlier, we made a glancing reference to HR 875 (at the bottom of the post.)

Here's a bit more.

Basically, HR 875 sets up a MASSIVE new government bureaucracy called the Food Safety Administration, and compels anything known as a "food establishment" to register with the federal government (paying registration fees of course) and to submit to inspections that are at different intervals depending on the type of "food establishment" you are.

The (formerly) ubiquitous summer roadside vegetable stand appears to be both Category 3 and 5 "food establishments" since they sells "fresh produce in ready-to-eat raw form" and "stores, holds, or transports food products prior to delivery for retail sale".

The explicit exclusions in Section 3 (13)(B) do not exclude roadside vegetable stands.
Section 3 (14) explicitly declares "any farm" (no matter what the size) to be a "FOOD PRODUCTION FACILITY".

Section 406 is a real doozy which places the burden of proof on the small farmer or roadside stand operator to demonstrate that none of their goods were participants in interstate commerce (the basis for this whole thing appears to be the Commerce Clause)

...but if you CANNOT prove that your green beans are NOT going to be eaten in another State...

[you]would risk the potential $1,000,000 fine. (Sec 405(a)(1)(A)

The Government is our Friend.

War is Peace.

The irony is that the organic-farmer crowd is going to be hit with this sledgehammer--and THEY are the tofu-eaters who voted for the (D) criminal-class who is sponsoring the bill.

Eat THOSE lotuses, wackos!

HT: Ace of Spades

Defining Podesta and His Crew of ComBox Wackos

In prose which I could not make up...

Paco calls them "left-wing blog guerrillas," but they're actually the microbial virus that festers within the pathological parasites which infest the pus that oozes from the chancroid sore on the Democratic Party rectal sphincter that is the Obama machine.

DAMN, that's good stuff.

They Got the Hint!!

Seems like Bill Ayers' speaking fees are diminishing.

First, Boston College.

Boston College yesterday abruptly withdrew two student groups’ invitation to former radical William Ayers to speak on campus Monday.

A BC spokesman said he was unaware of the plan for the controversial figure to speak on campus until contacted by the Herald yesterday afternoon. But students last night were scrambling to hold the speech off-campus.

“After meetings between administrators and students, the decision was made to rescind the invitation,” spokesman Jack Dunn said. Dunn declined to say why, adding only, “We feel the appropriate decision has been reached.”

Now, the Naperville School District.

School Superintendent Alan Leis released the following statement:

The appearance by Dr. Bill Ayers at Naperville North High School next week has been canceled.
On Friday, it was announced through a Talk203 email that we were reviewing the decision to invite him and that we were also exploring the possibility of moving the appearance to another venue.

...Over the weekend, however, it became clear that this issue was not really about where Dr. Ayers was speaking, but that he was speaking at all. Each day, the level of emotion and outrage has seemed to increase, along with the number of emails and phone calls received

...Dr. Ayers' appearance has clearly become a "lightning rod," both inside and outside the District 203 community, because of his past actions. It is clear that any value to our students would be lost in such a highly-charged atmosphere, and that any debate of issues or viewpoints would be overshadowed by media coverage and anger over the event itself.

Gee, that's too bad.

What bonehead faculty moron invited a TERRORIST to speak at a high school?? Why is "Dr." Leis is all so pissypussed about the rebellion by the taxpayers in his district?

They are actually stupider than we think they are, folks.

HT: NewsBusters

Obama's "Religious Master"--a Heretic

Not too surprising to find that Obama/Savior thinks highly of some monk named Joachim, and pretends religiosity by naming the guy.

Yah, but...

The Vatican names Joachim as "a heretic."

See, Joachim's "theology" leads to Marxism.

According to Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the Pontifical Household, the US President referred in campaign speeches to Gioacchino da Fiore, or Joachim of Fiore, as a ''master of contemporary civilisation'' who had sought to create a better world. Drawing on the Book of Revelation, Gioacchino envisaged a "new age of the Holy Spirit" in which the Church hierarchy would cease to exist and Christians would unite with infidels in an "Order of the Just".

...Father Cantalamessa said: ''Few of those who expound on Gioacchino da Fiore on the internet know, or go to the trouble of finding out, what this character really said." In the latest of a series of Lenten lectures for Pope Benedict XVI and the papal household, he said that, according to ''vogueish'' interpretations, the monk had proposed a "liberal and spiritual Church" able to move beyond dogmas and hierarchies. However, Gioacchino's views were ''false and heretical'', Father Cantalamessa said, since Christian believers were guided not only by the spirit but also by the laws of the Church. "It can be fatal to do without one or the other of these guides."

Now I'm thinking again of Windswept House...

HT: Cosmos

Wars and Markets

Big Picture has a perceptive point.

...this points out why the decision to buy any size in RMBS, CDOs and even CDS was so problematic. The commercial and investment banks and funds that chose to invest in these “financial products” – difficult to value, thinly traded, non-uniform — was the root of the problem. That they happened to be so poorly constructed is almost besides the point. Its the non-existent market place for these hold-to-maturity securities. If you are looking for the underlying cause of why some arcane accounting rule is an issue, this is it.

This is why smart funds don’t buy beanie babies or Star Wars collectibles. Its hard to to justify the risk of owning hard to value, thinly traded, very difficult to sell items.

The banks made a poor decision: “Let’s bypass the broad, deeply traded traditional markets and instead create new markets for new products.” Not only that, but they dove headfirst into these markets in huge size. No one should be surprised that the net result was a flawed system of garbage paper, with too little room at the exits in case of emergency.

Not all that different from war-planning--you MUST have an exit strategy or you're likely to become toast when the rubber meets the road. Muscle alone doesn't do the trick--as the British learned here.

Ritholtz has a larger point, of course. That is, that there are all kinds of "markets."

Condemnation of all "markets" founded on the strategically-inept moves of banks in the last 5 years is not well-founded criticism.

Obama and Geithner to Run GM Warranty Program?

This should be good.


Today, the President of the United States is expected to make significant announcements about GM’s warranty policy. No, that’s not a typo, and yes, it’s remarkable. I didn’t say the President of General Motors, I said of the United States

Oh, man.

Abp Dolan: If FOCA, Close Down RC Hospitals!

Sykes asked the right question.

'If FOCA passes and is signed, forcing all health practitioners to perform abortions, will the Catholic hospitals close?'

Abp. Dolan, hitting a grand slam:

'If that happens, the Bishops will say "Close 'em down."'

You can bet that some NYC newspaper will be picking up this story.

The Archbishop also mentioned that RC hospitals do about 20% of the hospital business done in this country.

AP: No More Bailouts for GM and Chrysler

This story was filed around midnight.

The White House says neither General Motors nor Chrysler submitted acceptable plans to receive more bailout money, setting the stage for a crisis in Detroit that would dramatically reshape the nation's auto industry.

President Barack Obama and his top advisers have determined that neither company is viable and that taxpayers will not spend untold billions more to keep the pair of automakers open forever. In a last-ditch effort, the administration gave each company a brief deadline to try one last time to convince Washington it is worth saving, said senior administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to more bluntly discuss the decision

Let's see what happens this morning at the official announcement. As you can see, there is 'wiggle room' in the last sentence of the above quote.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Still "Kinda Thinking" About 4/15's Tea Party?

Stop your self-fumbling and GO!

Amongst the Beltway GOP insiders, the current buzzword is about the need to "rebrand" the Republican Party. We know full well that if they had their way, the Establishment elite -- the Crapweasel Coalition of whiny neurasthenic RINOs -- would "rebrand" conservatism as a moderate, respectable, "center-right" Me-Tooism.

Fuck the elite, and fuck their ideas. We're the right-wing "Animal House," and this is homecoming at Faber.

Ordinary Americans need to think about the nationwide April 15 Tax Day Tea Party protests as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the grassroots to do their own "rebranding." Thanks to Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, conservatives have been handed a chance to demonstrate our solidarity on one of the few issues on which we all agree: Economic liberty, as opposed to the neo-Keynesian, central-planning agenda of Obamanomics. (It Won't Work.)

I especially like the idea of "rebranding" using actual branding-irons. Maybe right on the shiny dome of our Governor Capitol Building.

HT: McCain

The Teeny-Bopper Party President

Karen Hall, cited by the Papist.

One of the major reasons for the current insanity is that our president is mind-numbingly immature.

That's why my college-aged children love him so much. He's exactly the same age they are. He cares about the same things -- saving the world based on feelings with no regard to reality and no concern about either history or the future. A vision of utopia that most people have realized, by age thirty or so, cannot co-exist with human nature. And mostly, the thrill of the PAR-TAY!

...He wants to hang with celebrities -- which is even scarier when you realize that Simon Cowell is his idea of a celebrity. The country is falling down around us, and he's trying to schedule a dinner with Simon Cowell?

There's more at the link.

Belloc Saw It in 1913

We are reminded that some (ignored) thinkers actually got it right.

...Hilaire Belloc looked forward and anticipated our moment. He argued that what we today call corporate capitalism was fundamentally unstable and would eventually cease to exist.

The instability would be caused by the slow but inexorable concentration of property into fewer and fewer hands. As property became concentrated, power also would become concentrated, and concentrated power is a threat to the state unless, of course, it is co-opted by the state. [Therein lies the genesis of the phrase "too big to fail;" and the application was TARP, the Big3 bailouts, TARP 2, and the proposed 'other entities siezure' laws.] Furthermore, as property became concentrated, the security of individuals would be threatened. People would find themselves in the precarious situation of living paycheck-to-paycheck. Because they possess no capital, they would not be able to provide for themselves in the way that a small farmer or craftsman could. They would be completely dependent upon their wages, and when economic crisis struck and wages were threatened, the insecurity of their situation would become acute. In such a time, it is not hard to image the people clamoring for a solution, rejoicing over a new kind of leader who promises change, if only he is empowered....

And don't think for one second that the Obama/Obey/Pelosi/Reid solution is a good thing:

According to Belloc, the most obvious solution to this economic instability, the path of least resistance, is the acquisition by the state of the major economic interests, e.g. collectivization. This is sometimes called socialism, and, according to Belloc, it is the most natural course. But socialism is not benign or even honest, for the collectivization of property under the authority of the state results not in a more just society but one characterized by glaring inequalities and the loss of freedom for most. As Belloc puts it, “in the very act of collectivism, what results is not collectivism at all, but the servitude of the many, and the confirmation in their present privilege of the few; that is, the servile state.”

Serious times, indeed.

And just in case you think that you can become a small farmer to avoid the inevitable--fuggeddaboutit.


The text of the bill actually allows for the following interpretations:

--Legally binds state agriculture depts to enforcing federal guidelines effectively taking away the states power to do anything other than being food police for the federal dept.

--Effectively criminalizes organic farming but doesn't actually use the word organic.

--Affects anyone growing food even if they are not selling it but consuming it.

--Affects anyone producing meat of any kind including the processing wild game for personal consumption.

--Legislation is so broad based that every aspect of growing or producing food can be made illegal. There are no specifics which is bizarre considering how long the legislation is.

That would be the Cargill/Monsanto/ADM oligopoly-protection act...

Nationalize Health Care? Nope. Localize It and Save.

Torinus makes a very good case for 'localizing' health care.

Zastrow heads QuadMed, a subsidiary of Quad/Graphics Inc., a global printer of magazines. Harry Quadracci, its founder, and Len Quadracci, his brother, concluded 20 years ago that they needed to take control of the front end of the medical delivery system. With 6,000 employees in the Milwaukee area, they had the critical mass to set up their own primary care clinic.

QuadMed now operates eight clinics, five for its employees, two for Briggs & Stratton Corp. and one for MillerCoors LLC.

(At one time, Briggs had its own corporate MD.)

Talk about cost advantage!

On an adjusted basis for demographics and plan design, the consulting firm Mercer put Quad at 18% below its Midwestern peers in 1998. By 2006, Quad's costs were a cumulative 32% below peers.

Serigraph's per life cost in 2008 was $3,640, achieved with aggressive management and a consumer-driven plan. For the same year, Quad, without the benefit of a consumer-driven plan, did better at $3,135 per life.

Compare that with $6,000 per life in the lowest cost plan for state employees. The state's BadgerCare Plus program comes in at $1,957 per recipient, but would be about $6,000 if price controls weren't used to shift costs to the private sector. It uses Medicaid price controls to pay hospitals about 25% of charges, compared with 73% by privately insured plans.

This is the medical version of the Law of Subsidiarity, which suggests that the best solutions are those which are 'closest to the ground.' While it's typically used as a governance model (except by the Democrats), it clearly works in other venues.

The Quad model isn't just about convenient, primary care. It is about what works. Here are some of its important building blocks:

• Quad doctors are paid mostly by base salary, with some small incentives for quality and productivity. That stands in stark contrast to most systems that pay doctors by procedures.

• Each patient/employee using QuadMed has an electronic medical record, but it isn't just about going paperless. The electronic system helps Quad doctors deliver better care and manage chronic diseases such as diabetes.

• Education and incentives to stay out of hospitals figure prominently in the Quad approach. Diabetics, for instance, receive free supplies and medicines to help them stay in control of their blood chemistries.

• Quad employees pay only $6 for an office visit. Catching conditions early and heading them off is a key piece of strategy.

• At the heart of the Quad delivery model is integrated care. Its personnel and systems create what has become known as a medical home, where all records on an employee are kept in a confidential electronic file and where doctors and nurses coordinate tests, imaging, regimens and treatments

This sort of plan, with a little imagination, could be used by any number of larger Government entities--the City of Milwaukee comes to mind--or for that matter, by a County in cooperation with its subsidiary cities.

And with a little more imagination, it could work as a model for co-op plans between a number of small businesses

MMAC, are you listening?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

On "Mo' Regulation"

While Geithner's "mo' regulation" mantra may have some positives, Ticker indirectly raises the question 'What's it Good for?'

Is it any wonder that Congress feels free to allow con men in the "banking industry", both foreign and domestic, to literally steal nearly $100 billion dollars of our money through a "bailout" of AIG, passed through the firm as a conduit to banks around the world?

For a moment, forget about UBS and the other foreign banks paid by the "loan" to AIG.

Remember that a number of DOMESTIC Banks also got these payouts. They were payouts covering the bad bets made by AIG's Financial Products unit.

So when the Fed Bank Examiners (and the FDIC examiners) were looking at the books of the domestic banks in question, why did those examiners NOT question the collateral and reserves posted by AIG to back up those bad bets?

In other words, Greenspan & Co.'s 'regulators' did not 'regulate' in the first damn place.

More 'regulation' is the cure?

Shirley's Assault on the Rule of Law

Scrreechin'Shirley Abrahamson--who comes across as a very nice great-granny on her TV ads-- is perfectly comfy with shredding the rule of law in her decisions. (See, e.g., Diane Sykes, Rick Esenberg, or Christian Schneider)

And then she BRAGS about it--as does her sycophant 'Greater Wisconsin Committee' crowd of Hard-Leftist supporters.

Mention of G.W.C. leads us to this perceptive observation on common lefty smear tactics from the Winning McCain.*

One of the tricks of effective propaganda is to connect a new accusation to what "everybody knows" -- that is, to present new information in a way that reinforces the pre-existing beliefs of Conventional Wisdom. Liberals have labored mightily for decades to convince Americans that Republicans are evil racist sexist bigoted homophobes, and so when a conservative says something that can be construed as reinforcing that perception, the smear-mongers say, "A-ha! See? We told you so!" The issue then becomes not so much the specific facts of the latest accusation, but rather the larger question of bad faith (mala fides).

G.W.C.'s smear-ad is an excellent example of the above. It simply follows the Conventional Wisdom that "Liberals=Good, Conservatives=Bad," hoping that voters don't get the big picture--that the Constitution is written to facilitate the rule of law. In the ad, Koschnick is pictured as an agent of Wall Street (bad), Big Business (bad), ....you get the picture. Screechin'Shirley, however, is your great-great-grandmama Fairy Godmother. (Really old, but good, right!!)

But SCOWI is not in the business of 'keeping you from foreclosure.' It IS in the business of 'determining whether the foreclosure meets Constitutional standards in Wisconsin.'

Ironically, derogation of the rule of law derogates from the status and importance of judges--not to mention any other civil authorities.

Is that what Abrahamson really wants?

*There's plenty more at the McCain post, including a Clint Eastwood short.

Doyle Spins, Obey Shrugs

The spin job here is fantastic.

A day after the November elections, Gov. Jim Doyle laid out a grim scenario for U.S. Rep. Dave Obey: Without federal aid, he would be forced to impose across-the-board sales and income tax increases.

That's because Doyle doesn't have the imagination or desire to actually cut or re-direct State spending. And THAT is because Three Card Monte Doyle, like Obey and Obama, are Statists (or, if you like, Corporate Fascists) at heart.

This spending spree has everything to do with Leviathan on Steroids, and nothing to do with fiscal responsibility.

Side note: Doyle obviously tried to position himself as the Leader of the Pack in the story, and wanted Obey to commend him--particularly about the ChooChooDream.

Too bad the JS reporter actually called Obey--who said that Doyle did not have any particularly useful input on any part of Porkulus.

I Fear Steyn Is Right

Mark Steyn comments on an Economist essay.

The nuancey boys were wrong on Obama, and the knuckledragging morons were right. There is no post-partisan centrist "grappling" with the economy, only a transformative radical willing to make Americans poorer in the cause of massive government expansion. At some point, The Economist, Messrs Brooks, Buckley & Co are going to have to acknowledge this.

Exercising hope that Obama is anything other than what he was raised to be (remember, his mentors included a hard-core Marxist, a violent revolutionary, and a race-baiting preacher), is an excercise in futility.

And, yes, even if you don't agree with Steyn's analysis, that pun is worth it.

One more thing: buy more ammo!

Dees' SPLC Behind Mo. "Scare" Documents

Well, whaddya know?

The warning earlier prompted Americans for Legal Immigration to issue a "national advisory" against relying on any such reports.

The Missouri
document, it said, "attempted to politicize police and cast suspicion on millions of Americans. The 'Missouri Documents,' as they came to be called, listed over 32 characteristics police should watch for as signs or links to domestic terrorists, which could threaten police officers, court officials, and infrastructure targets.

"Police were instructed to look for Americans who were concerned about unemployment,
taxes, illegal immigration, gangs, border security, abortion, high costs of living, gun restrictions, FEMA, the IRS, The Federal Reserve, and the North American Union/SPP/North American Community. The 'Missouri Documents' also said potential domestic terrorists might like gun shows, short wave radios, combat movies, movies with white male heroes, Tom Clancey Novels, and Presidential Candidates Ron Paul, Bob Barr, and Chuck Baldwin!" ALIPAC wrote.

It said the report cited the
Southern Poverty Law Center as a resource.

Senior (read: 'mature and sensible') Missouri law enforcement officials have rescinded the 'warning' document and revised procedures for issuance of similar warnings.

Morry Dees' Southern Poverty Law Center is at the center of a number of controversies, but has made Morry Dees very wealthy.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Smuggling: Coming to a State Near You...

This is hilarious--and only the beginning.

The quest for squeaky-clean dishes has turned some law-abiding people in Spokane into dishwater-detergent smugglers. They are bringing Cascade or Electrasol in from out of state because the eco-friendly varieties required under Washington state law don't work as well...Spokane County became the launch pad last July for the nation's strictest ban on dishwasher detergent made with phosphates

...Many people were shocked to find that products like Seventh Generation, Ecover and Trader Joe's left their dishes encrusted with food, smeared with grease and too gross to use without rewashing them by hand. The culprit was hard water, which is mineral-rich and resistant to soap.

Phosphates are on the top of the shitlist for Wisconsin GreenWeenies, folks.

Had a brief discussion about a related topic---cigarette smuggling---with a pal the other day. There's no comparison between that business and dishwasher soap, to say the least.

50 cases of butts purchased overseas will net around $40K, including all delivery costs. The margin's even better if the cigarettes are stolen off a truck in the USA--about $100K net.

That's just for 50 cases--2500 cartons.

Seems the Russki Mob likes the business...and why not? Doyle engraved an invitation to them this year's budget.

"Green" Energy Jobs? Nope.

...or more accurately, there will be 'green' energy jobs.

But they will kill off more OTHER jobs than are created.

...Based upon the Spanish experience that President Oprompter expressly cited as a model, if he succeeded in his (oddly floating) promise to further intervene in the economy to create 3 million (or is it 5 million?) "green jobs," the U.S. should expect to directly kill by the same programs at least 6.6 million (or as many as 11 million) jobs elsewhere in the economy.

- That is because green jobs schemes in Spain killed 2.2 jobs per job created, or about 9 existing jobs - I'll call them "real" jobs - lost for every 4 that are created. The latter, the study shows, then become wards of the state, dependent on the continuation of the mandates and subsidies, subject to the ritual boom and bust of artifically concocted jobs (read: ethanol).

- This does not include jobs lost due to redirection of resources, but are only the jobs directly killed by the scheme

Another way in which OprompTer lies. There's never a mention of "net GAINED jobs" in the line of BS--only mention of "created" or "saved" jobs.

Create 5, lose 10--all you'll see is a longer unemployment line and BS press releases.

HT: AmSpec

Catholicism: Causing the "Dark Ages"?

Snippet from a First Things review of David Hart’s new book, Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (Yale Press).

(By the way, you should substitute "Catholic" for "Christian" in the below excerpt.)

One of the casual truisms we often hear goes back to the Renaissance and achieved canonical form in Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. As Hart puts the prejudice: “that Christianity rejected classical civilization, even sought to destroy it root and branch, and thus inaugurated the Dark Ages.”

In a brilliant chapter on the history of science, Hart paints a very different picture, one that argues (quite convincingly) that pagan religious and metaphysical assumptions (which are invariably intertwined) made it impossible for the ancient world to develop the mode of inquiry we associate with modern science. The utter lack of motion and change were, for religious and metaphysical reasons, thought to be the highest (and thus natural) state of reality. As a result, it was not possible to formulate the law of the conservation of energy.

As Hart shows with wonderful detail and concision, the radical transformation of metaphysics required by Christian convictions about God and creation led to the possibility for the Copernican revolution in astronomy, a revolution thrown into powerful theoretical form by Isaac Newton.

Thus, if we return to the usual Western Civ lecture hall cliché—ancient science was somehow stymied by dogmatic Christians, only to be recovered and given new life by Renaissance free thinkers—then we can see that it is a hopelessly inaccurate cartoon. As Hart points out, “The birth of modern physics and cosmology was achieved by Galileo, Kepler, and Newton breaking free not from the close confining prison of faith (all three were believing Christians, of one sort or another) but from the enormous burden of the millennial authority of Aristotelian science. The scientific revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was not a revival of Hellenistic science but its final defeat.”

Yah, well, "what is history to the Left," as Roeser would put it.

The Fallacy of "Taxism" v. Paul Ryan

The Republican Establishment, in the last 20+ years, has fallen into two major traps.

The first is "economism," whereby all is measured according to its monetary worth--resulting in the commodifying of labor and glamorization of Conspicuous Consumption.

The second, a subset, is "taxification," whereby 'good' and 'evil' Gummint policy is measured by whether taxes go up or down.

The Republican Establishment is a bunch of fools.

The first trap is separating Republicans from Flyover Country's 'Reagan Republicans' at an alarming rate.* "Economism" results in illegal aliens (convenient and cheap labor), the exporting of middle-class jobs, and the resulting breakdown of the social contract between business and its employees, not to mention between citizens and the Government owned by K Street/Big Business lobbyists.

The second is a subset of the first and has the same effect (to a lesser degree,) but also has the problem of opening the Party to calls of "hypocrisy." George Bush and Congressional Pubbies spent money like crazy and reduced taxes. This resulted in deficits (!!) But aren't Republicans supposed to be 'fiscally responsible'?

Friggin' geniuses. /sarcasm

Rather than having discussions like this one (e.g.), the Republican Party should be having discussions like the ones Paul Ryan would like to have:


*If you don't believe that, look at the popular vote tabs since Ron Reagan. See the trend-line?

BATFE Expose Coming?

Arms and the Law:

I am informed that the issue of Soldier of Fortune magazine will cover a Dept of Justice Inspector General's report on [B]ATFE deployment in Iraq. Gist of reports is that millions have been claimed in fraudulent overtime (as in everyone consistently reporting 16 hour workdays, 7 days a week, or everyone reporting 15.5 hour workdays).

Who coulda thunk it? Federal employees CHEATING? LYING? DEFRAUDING?

There's never been a question that BATFE has a lot of rogues on the payroll.

This should be fun...

Will Rogers on Debt

Grim brings us the Oklahoma Philosopher (re-enacted VERY well...) in a piece which is worth seeing and hearing.

Would that Three Card Monte Doyle and the Obamunists were as perceptive as this cowboy wit!

Regular Joe Goes "Snap" and Shoots? Nope.


One of the enduring myths that underlies much of the gun control movement is the idea that a lot of murders are committed by ordinary people like you and I who lose their temper one day, grab a gun (because it's readily available), and murder someone...

The FBI studied this theory in the 1970s and found that it was not substantiable.

Same thing today. Cramer quotes Volokh:

...what we learn from the intentional homicide line in Justice Department's Felony Defendants in Large Urban Counties, 2004 (a sample that is representative of the large urban counties that account for roughly half of the nation's violent crimes):

83% had a prior adult arrest (compared to likely 25% or so of the adult U.S. population).

76% had two or more prior adult arrests.

55% had five or more prior adult arrests.

65% had a prior adult conviction.

44% had a prior adult felony conviction (compared to about 7.5% of the adult U.S. population, see Christopher Uggen et al., Citizenship, Democracy, and the Civic Reintegration of Criminal Offenders, 605 Annals Am. Acad. Pol. & Soc. Sci. 281, 288 (2006)).

IOW, there is a pattern of practice with murderers.

And it doesn't start with parking or speeding tickets.

BOHICA ALERT! Bradley Center Problems

Apparently the Bradley Center needs $23 million or so...so Jim Doyle arranged for Wisconsin taxpayers to cough up $500K/year for the next 10 years to fix it up.

But $5 million of your dollars will hardly be enough. The Bradley Center is looking for another $18 million--which is most likely coming from Milwaukee-area taxpayers, folks.

The building, after all, is 21 years old. Twenty one!! Ancient!!

There are lots of needs, according to the Center's document...

1. Seriously outdated mechanical and HVAC systems requiring major upgrades.
2. An aging roof and exterior façade that requires ongoing maintenance.
3. A severely outdated scoreboard that will need to be replaced to ensure the Bradley Center cancontinue to produce sports and special events while sustaining vital sponsorship revenue.
4. Significant and increasing elevator and escalator maintenance.
5. An obsolete hockey rink system that must be replaced.
6. Parking structure repairs and structural maintenance.
7. Substantial exterior grounds repair and maintenance.
8. Outdated event production technology required to produce live sports and special events.
9. Aging and energy inefficient lighting, and worn out electrical and electronics components.
10. Infrastructure of various types including an aging plumbing system.
11. Replacement or refurbishing a substantial portion of 18,000 Bradley Center seats.
12. Security and life safety systems

Yah, hey.

Anyone at Bradley Center ever hear of "accruals"? You know, the concept that you get enough rent income so that you can stash a little cash to pay for maintenance and upgrades when needed?

And what's this "stuff" they need? "Event production" technology? A new scoreboard? Tulips and daisies in the lawn?

How do 'electrical components' wear out? Hell, the lightswitches in most homes last around 50 years or more...

Put Them in Hyde Park, IL

New folks for Mr. Obama's Neighborhood. I'm sure Bill Ayers will be happy to put them up for a few years.

During his news conference, Blair also said the Obama administration is still wrestling with what to do with the remaining 240 detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, which the president has ordered closed.

Some of the detainees, deemed non-threatening, may be released into the United States as free men, Blair confirmed.

That would happen when they can't be returned to their home countries, because the governments either won't take them or the U.S. fears they will be abused or tortured. That is the case with 17 Uighers (WEE'-gurz)...

Blair said the former prisoners would have get some sort of assistance to start their new lives in the United States.

"We can't put them out on the street," he said.

When they arrive in Hyde Park, they will be registered as voters, too.

House Dem Leader: Force Cap-and-Tax! Save the Universe!

This guy understands the consequences, and doesn't give a rip.

Government policy should be crafted to raise the price of carbon-emitting energy sources so consumers are compelled to choose alternative energy, House Democratic Conference Chairman John Larson (D-Conn.) told CNSNews.com on Thursday.

Larson agreed that such a policy would likely result in higher electricity prices for consumers but said this is needed to protect the environment from the possible “catastrophic results” of not implementing a pro-green energy policy

And to top it off, he has a messianic complex:

“I think the government should serve as an impetus to do so, because as I said at the outset, not doing anything -- the catastrophic results that can come from that – are what drives this issue,” ...“We ought to do it in a way that both enhances our economy and our economic opportunity and also preserves the universe and the earth,” said Larson

"Preserves the UNIVERSE"????

Evidently 'punch-drunk' is spreading.........

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Obamunism: Silencing the Vatican

Not controlled by ObamaNetwork...

A reliable source tells me that someone representing the Obama administration is about to put pressure on the papal nuncio to the United States to get Archbishop Raymond Burke to be quiet. The Obama complaint is that Archbishop Burke, who is now head of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome, has supported another bishop in his chastisement of Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius for her support of abortion. --Austin Ruse, quoted by AmPap

Ruse is a VERY well-connected guy running an NGO, frequenting the UN (and a certifiable good guy pro-lifer,) so this isn't some mad conspiracy thing.

Although it's always safe to conduct a religious war against Catholics, it is not smart.

Milwaukee Child Welfare--How Bad IS It?

I'll quote a committed Lefty who knows.

What is not being reported is that the system was struggling due to severe underfunding from the State. Take it from someone who was there during that mess, when it would not be unusual for one worker to be responsible for over a hundred cases. Even now, they are receiving tens of millions of dollars more, and despite their claims, things have actually gotten worse. And that is still not enough...

It is also interesting to note that some of the "improvement" that the BMCW is claiming is things that the County had done when they were in charge, but were deemed to be too expensive by the state, like nurses going out to check on medically fragile children and newborns...

Despite these lapses in the reporting, the bulk of the story matches what has been happening for the past ten years. The state is fudging the numbers around to protect their own butts with a complete disregard to the children they are supposed to be serving...

As I have repeatedly stated, the system is broken. No matter how much money they throw at it, it will not be fixed until they change the entire paradigm and approach that they are taking regarding child welfare. There is a reason why case workers are leaving at alarmingly high rates. There is a reason why a majority of foster parents have quit. There is a reason that, despite the larger amount of workers and money being pumped into the system, children are still being hurt.

Read the whole thing.

Suicide Bomber Survival

Yup. Somebody studied up on this stuff.

If you want to die, do this:

[Be in] [l]ine-of-sight with the attacker, rush toward the exit and stampede

Those were found to be the victims' most lethal choices both during and after the attack.

HT: Schneier

Legislative Inanities in Wisconsin: Microstamping

It's not just Three Card Monte Doyle, whose objectives include bankrupting Wisconsin and pushing out industry and commerce along the way.

Our Leggies continue to provide stupidities, too!!

Rep. Leon Young, and Sen. Spencer Coggs, Milwaukee Democrats, want “microstamping” or the process of engraving a firearm’s make, model, and serial number on the tip of the firing pin, so that the info is transferred to the cartridge when the gun is fired.

The concept is to aid law enforcement in reducing crime by tracking spent rounds left at the crime scene.

(HT: PoliticalCapital)

Sorta like Dear Leader's Budget (and Porkulus), the only appropriate response is "It will NOT work!!"

Forget about the cost, estimated at $200.00/handgun. Just use elementary thinking skills (a sure way to confound Leggies.)

1) In order for "microstamping" to work, the firing pin must retain all the 'microstamping' characteristics for the life of the weapon. While that MAY be possible, it is also relatively easy to either: a) swap out for a new firing pin, or b) carefully apply a nail-file to the existing pin.

2) In order for the cops to find casings, the casings have to be left at the scene. That may happen with your common gangbanger slobs--but not with halfway professional crooks, who will police the scene--or even better, use a REVOLVER, which retains the casings internally.

3) There are a whole LOT of weapons already in circulation without 'microstamps.' Generally, a well-maintained handgun or rifle will last a long, long, time (100++ years in a lot of instances.) S'pose that your basic crook can't find any OLD weapons (made before 2010?)


Means/Ends: It's Nationalize the Banks

Morris kinda thinks that 'Obamunism' IS a word.

...According to [Dick] Morris [ex-Clintonista], those who are criticizing Obama for his spending, including Daniel Hannan, who represents South East England for the Conservative Party, made famous by a YouTube video eviscerating Keynesian politics, are missing the point. Obama wants to worsen the economic conditions to expand the powers of government according to Morris.

"We are confusing in analyzing the bank bailout and in what Hannan, the other guest you had on - the British Parliamentarian, had on, was also confusing - means with ends," Morris said. "He said, for example that more spending won't solve the recession. Obama doesn't want it to. He wants the recession to permit him to do more spending, and in terms of this bank package, he knows that the public-private partnership isn't going to work. He's doing his best to kill it by all these comments."

...To put it simply, Morris told "Your World," Obama wants to socialize the economy, and bank nationalization will make that possible

Your friendly local (Statist) banker. What a concept!

HT: NewsBusters

Seconded by Vox here...

There's no chance it will work. I'm not even sure it's intended to, as it could merely be intended to pave the way for eventual nationalization

There will be different 'loan application' forms, for sure....

The Solar "Solution"

Oh, yah. This shit works...

How efficient are the solar panels that were inspected by President Obama? The Denver Museum of Science isn’t telling. But you are helping to foot the bill for the solar array that won’t pay for itself until the year 2118

...A 2008 article in the Denver Business Journal sheds further light on the subject. The article notes the total price of the solar array was $720,000. And Dave Noel, VP of operations and chief technology officer for the Museum, was quoted as saying, “We looked at first installing [the solar array] ourselves, and without any of the incentive programs, it was a 110-year payout.” Noel went on to say that the Museum did not purchase the solar array because it did not “make sense financially.”

Additionally, most solar panels have an expected life-span of 20 to 25 years

In the case of Denver, the "incentive programs" include a tax paid by ALL electric customers of Xcel Energy.

So the 110-year-payout becomes a 20-year-payout.

Sounds like an 85% "subsidy"--more or less.


HT: Malkin

Three Card Monte's Gift to HabushHabushHabush et al

Why do I pick on HabushHabushHabush....? Their cheesy synthesized "music" in their commercials.

But there's another reason. Habush and his ilk are the beneficiaries of a Three Card Monte Doyle gift in the budget. It should come as no surprise that this gift is also a perversion of justice AND will make Wisconsin a much-less-desirable State in which to do business.

In brief, expenses will rise, and only the PI lawyers will benefit--plus a few leaky clients of those PI's.

Probably the most significant danger this provision poses to businesses is how it allows for a wide net to be cast when suing businesses. So long as the plaintiff is arguably 50% or less at fault, companies can be sued if their fault is negligible, even if substantially less than the plaintiff‟s. It is another version of the joint and several extortion game: "Sue 'em first, discuss settlement later."

Not only is Doylie's proposal a sure-fire way to make running a business more expensive and risky--it rescinds 13-year-old legislation which was eminently reasonable.

The joint and several liability change in the budget repeals the reforms passed in 1995, which matched liability more closely to fault and fairness. We moved from a "one percent–pay all" system to one requiring at least 51 % at fault before being liable for 100% of the damages. Notably, the 1995 legislation (SB 11/Act 17) had public hearings and the full deliberation of elected officials. These reforms passed by wide margins, with bi-partisan support (24-8 in the Senate and 69-27 in the Assembly).

The Governor’s budget not only abolishes Wisconsin’s bipartisan reforms, it sets forth a system even more radical than existed prior to 1995. Never before have we required someone to pay damages to another who is more at fault. Never before have we required the jury be told how their fault allocations affect awards. And never again should we require someone with as little as one percent fault to pay for 100 percent of damages

...1% at fault, pay 100% of the greedy trial lawyers' wants...

New CyberTrick: A Ransom Demand

Reported by ComputerWorld.

Cybercrooks have hit on a new twist to their aggressive marketing of fake security software, and are duping users into downloading a file utility that holds users' data for ransom, security researchers warned today.

The new scam takes a different tack: It uses a Trojan horse that's seeded by tricking users into running a file that poses as something legitimate like a software update. Once on the victim's PC, the Trojan swings into action, encrypting a wide variety of document types -- ranging from Microsoft Word .doc files to Adobe Reader .pdf documents -- anytime one's opened. It also scrambles the files in Windows' "My Documents" folder.

When a user tries to open one of the encrypted files, an alert pops up saying that a utility called FileFix Pro 2009 will unscramble the data. The message poses as an semi-official notice from the operating system: "Windows detected that some of your MS Office and media files are corrupted. Click here to download and install recommended file repair application," the message reads.

Clicking on the alert downloads and installs FileFix Pro, but the utility is anything but legit. It will decrypt only one of the corrupted files for free, then demands the user purchase the software. Price? $50.

All of you 3 readers know this, right? NEVER, EVER, download an "update" that is not digitally signed by the vendor--whether Adobe, or MS, or Norton, or whoever.

By 2014, You Will Owe $39,217.00

"You Have Run Out of Our Money!!"

Paul Ryan's page (here) has a report on the Obamunist budget (here) which totes up the public debt of the Federal Government under the Obamunist proposal.

Assuming the President's budget numbers (slightly different from the House budget numbers and the CBO numbers), and assuming that the population of the US will be 322 million in 2014, each and every person in the country at that time will be obligated to pay....

Thirty-nine thousand, two hundred seventeen dollars in Federal debt.

Compared to what?

The 2009 Public Debt/person (306 million) is:

Twenty six thousand, one hundred dollars each.

That's a fifty percent increase in debt for every single man, woman, and child living in the USA in only 5 years.

"You Have Run Out of Our Money!!"

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Really Bad News Hit Geithner Today

And it is bad news, indeed--albeit only one incident, so far. But it's not bad news just for Geithner. It's bad for US citizens, their children, and for BennyBoyBernanke.

Stocks lost ground after a weak auction of U.S. government debt stirred worries about how easily Washington will be able to raise money to fund its economic rescue program.

Investors gave an unexpectedly cool response to a $24 billion auction of 5-year Treasury notes Wednesday, which also sent prices for Treasurys lower. --AP

(When T-prices go down, interest rates go up.)

But that's not all of it, folks.

You wouldn't think that would happen on the day that Ben came into the market to buy Treasuries, but it did

Bernanke's Fed was buying T-Bonds today--and despite that, the T-market's prices went DOWN!

We're not done yet:

...the BOE (England) actually had a failed Gilt auction, with insufficient bids for the amount pushed out

The Bank of England (that country's "treasury department") COULD NOT SELL ITS BONDS.

Frankly, I don't expect that Dave Obey and Nancy Pelosi understand the implications of this. Obama may; but only if Geithner tells him at least three times.

Denninger has the Cliff's Notes version:

Cut that crap about "borrow and spend", along with playing "circle jerk" and "I'm gonna threaten to print money!" out right here and now, or run the risk of the Treasury market imploding in your face, taking what is left of the American economy and our capital markets with it.

That rally in Madison? Maybe torches, pitchforks, AND tar & feathers.

Or maybe just a lot of hangman's nooses.

The Hard, Cold, Truth

An unpleasant 10 minutes.

But if you like, only watch the first minute or so to get into full schadenfreude mode.

HT: The McCain Who Wins

The Democrats' "Bi-Partisanship"

BOHICA, baby.

Budget tales from the House:

7:30 PM Democrats Want to Ram Through Budget with “Reconciliation” Measure
Democrats defeated an amendment, by a vote of 14 to 22, offered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, which would “strike the reconciliation instructions” from the budget. Budget Reconciliation was originally designed as a deficit reduction tool. Democrats, however, seem intent on using it to ram through controversial legislation such as government run health care and a “cap and trade” energy tax. And it essentially strips the power of the minority party to offer any constructive amendments to the budget.

Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) warned that budget reconciliation would “be the Chicago approach to governing: Strong-arm it through. You’re talking about the exact opposite of bipartisan. You’re talking about running over the minority, putting them in cement and throwing them in the Chicago River.”

Bring torches AND the pitchforks to Madistan. We can't afford either Obamunism OR ThreeCardMonte Doylism, much less both.

We can always take care of the Congresscritters later...

Just Turn Over Your Children...

While we fret over the Impossible Dream budget proposed by the Dear Leader...

The House passed a bill yesterday which includes disturbing language indicating young people will be forced to undertake mandatory national service programs as fears about President Barack Obama’s promised “civilian national security force” intensify.

The Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act, known as the GIVE Act, was passed yesterday by a 321-105 margin and now goes to the Senate.

Under section 6104 of the bill, entitled “Duties,” in subsection B6, the legislation states that a commission will be set up to investigate, “Whether a workable, fair, and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed, and how such a requirement could be implemented in a manner that would strengthen the social fabric of the Nation and overcome civic challenges by bringing together people from diverse economic, ethnic, and educational backgrounds.”

Section 120 of the bill also discusses the “Youth Engagement Zone Program” and states that “service learning” will be “a mandatory part of the curriculum in all of the secondary schools served by the local educational agency”.

“The legislation, slated to cost $6 billion over five years, would create 175,000 “new service opportunities” under AmeriCorps, bringing the number of participants in the national volunteer program to 250,000. It would also create additional “corps” to expand the reach of volunteerism into new sectors, including a Clean Energy Corps, Education Corps, Healthy Futures Corps and Veterans Service Corps, and it expands the National Civilian Community Corps to focus on additional areas like disaster relief and energy conservation,” reports Fox News.

Yes, the Act mentions uniforms, (nothing about the color 'brown'--yet) and also has a section which will not likely pass 1st Amendment scrutiny.

Socrates' Progeny: Krauthammer

A footnote from the estimable humanist, Fr. James Schall, SJ.

Krauthammer speculates on the reason why he was invited. ...If someone of that journalist’s stature were there (Krauthammer also holds a medical degree from Harvard), it would cast an aura of legitimacy over this most dubious presidential decree.

And as we all know, Krauthammer decided not to go to the ceremony.

Krauthammer’s dissection of the White House’s calculation is something that particularly drew my interest. As I thought about it, the scene reminded me of something. Of course, it was the famous case in the “Apology of Socrates.”

...The local rulers commanded Socrates to cross to the island of Salamis to pick up a certain Leon, an admiral. He was to be returned and executed for failing his duty in a naval battle.
Athenian law required that bodies of the dead (they were not interested in stem cells in those days) were to be returned for proper burial. The episode has a kind of prophetic import. By commanding Socrates and four other gentlemen to go over to pick up Leon, the authorities sought to implicate them in the executions. Socrates’ participation would implicitly make the act seem moral.

Socrates thought the trial that had condemned Leon was illegal. Athenian citizens had to be tried individually, not in a group, as had happened in this case. When the other four came to collect him to go over to grab Leon, Socrates told them to go on. In a famous phrase, he tells us that instead “he went home.”

That is, Socrates would not participate in such an illegal act. ...

A bit of knowledge which is trivia, but NOT 'trivial.'

NEA Gifts

Want to know where the National Teachers' Union spends its money?

Denver 2008 (Democratic) Convention Planning Committee, $1,000,000


Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network, $157,500

One Wisconsin Now, $25,000

Not that any of that is surprising...it's damn near a complete catalog of Nietzsche's "transvaluation of all values" warning.

HT: FoxPoliticsBlog

Time for RadioMouth Apologies on AIG "Bonus"?

Certain controversialists have made a lot of hay over the AIG "bonus" payments. As I have pointed out (and as has No Runny), this 'outrage' is bogus. Some facts:

1) The vast majority of 'bonus' recipients had NOTHING TO DO WITH CREATING the problem, and have EVERYTHING TO DO WITH FIXING it.

2) The 'bonus' payments are actually "lights-out" or "retention" awards, paid to those who agree to stick around and fix stuff in an orderly fashion. In other words, they are the maintenance crew.

3) In a lot of cases, these are people who could have taken very nice positions with other companies--but chose to both do the 'right thing' AND to be compensated for it.

One individual decided that he's had enough...

...As most of us have done nothing wrong, guilt is not a motivation to surrender our earnings. We have worked 12 long months under these contracts and now deserve to be paid as promised. None of us should be cheated of our payments any more than a plumber should be cheated after he has fixed the pipes but a careless electrician causes a fire that burns down the house.

Many of the employees have, in the past six months, turned down job offers from more stable employers, based on A.I.G.’s assurances that the contracts would be honored. They are now angry about having been misled by A.I.G.’s promises and are not inclined to return the money as a favor to you.

...I know that because of hard work I have benefited more than most during the economic boom and have saved enough that my family is unlikely to suffer devastating losses during the current bust. Some might argue that members of my profession have been overpaid, and I wouldn’t disagree

By the way--this guy accepted a salary of $1.00/year to do this job, and he intends to donate all the (after-tax) proceeds of his 'bonus' to charities.

Upcoming Movies

TOTUS Lies....

The TelePrompter Of The United States lies.

Last night, The One said (again) that 'the Republicans have offered no alternatives' to his spend-spend-spend-spend-spend budget.

That would be the budget which also makes the Upper Midwest (in toto) as barren as Detroit for lack of viable electricity and heating sources (coal and gas); and the budget which begins the annihilation of the health-care system.


"...Eric Cantor and I personally delivered to the President our stimulus proposal at the White House in January. Our plan would create twice as many jobs at half the cost as the President’s plan, and that’s even according to an economic analysis by his chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. And what was the response? The White House pretended they never even saw it"

Paul Ryan's group will release the (R) counter-proposal to the TelePrompter's budget later this week.

Let's see if that, too, is put into the memory-hole--airbrushed out, just like Kruschev and Uncle Joe--from history.

HT: Malkin

Hope'n'Change? More Like Hopeless for 30-Somethings

The TelePrompter says that 'this is the era of savings and investment.'
The chart says otherwise--particularly if you will be paying Federal taxes for the next 20 years and more.
And the disparity between the TelePrompter's numbers and those of the CBO is a mark of "audacity", alright...
HT: Sykes

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

JS Headline Writer Can't Count

OK, so here's the headline in the business section:

DCD: wage standards wouldn't affect most projects
Hmmmm. Given what I heard yesterday, that's a surprise.
So here's the copy of the story:
A proposal requiring developers that receive city financial assistance to pay "prevailing wage" on their projects would have affected up to 11 of 23 recent projects had it been on the books.
From when I took math (you remember--using little stones to add and subract, and charcoal to mark the totals on the big flat rock), 11 of 23 is 47.826%--DAMN NEAR HALF.
Granted that by dictionary standards, that headline is correct--LESS than half of the projects would not be affected.
But in the real world, outside of 4th/State, "most" denotes a clear majority: 2/3rds, 3/4ths, (or more.) Not 53 out of 100...
Of course, the union-member headline-writer has propaganda to scribble.

A Very Good Question

Found in the middle of a lengthy essay:

What is history to a liberal?
--Tom Roeser

Jobs NOW Task Force--Miscellaneous Stuff

A few notes not previously mentioned from the Jobs NOW Task Force meeting.

Doyle's "prevailing wage" requirement are predicted to increase project costs by anywhere from 8% to 14%. --a commercial real-estate guy.

(That would make Ald. Murphy's opposition to the requirement in the City of Milwaukee extremely sensible.)

Sheboygan is trying very hard to retain Thomas Industries--but Louisiana is offering to build them a brand new plant. --a Sheboygan area manufacturing manager

(By coincidence, Belling was discussing this situation. Seems like the Int'l Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is not cooperating at all with the Sheboygan efforts.)

Milwakee area home sales are down by 35% from last year; inventory now down to only 9.5 months. --a prominent local Realtor.

The 'wage-lien' law will make it very difficult for small businesses to obtain financing; it places Bank liens second to unpaid wages up to $10,700/worker --a Bank president.

(I did not see that "$10,700." number during the discussion of the law. Yes, there is a justice issue--but $10+K is at least 10 weeks' pay for the average skilled worker. Does the Legislature really think that the average skilled worker will hang around for NO PAY for 10 weeks?)

The "joint/several" liability change was mentioned at least 4 times--negatively.

More efficient delivery of healthcare can significantly reduce healthcare costs--a prominent commercial insurance broker.

(That is a very interesting remark. He cited ThedaCare in the Fox Valley as an example. We'd like to hear more about that.)

The State of Wisconsin should provide grants to research firms, but only to solve actual problems. --a problem-solving research & development guy.

(His model is a FedGov program. Think DARPA, except the research is contracted out.)

AIG Bonus Payments, DEFINED Properly

Because it's important, that's why!!

Fuggeddabout all the BS you hear from professional Radio Agitators (either way) on the AIG bonus payments.

Read the linked article.

You can also read the original post.




Hello! Hello! You! The Newspaper!!

Another non-event.

ONE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED PEOPLE showed up in downtown Lexington, Ky. to participate in the Kentucky Tea Party protest against the continuing fiscal madness in Washington, DC.

And how many front page stories were there in the newspapers in Lexington and Louisville, or in our own home town paper, the State Journal, about this event?


Given that the JS covered yesterday's Jobs NOW forum, it's likely that they will cover the Madison Tea Party.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Isn't Manufacturing Supposed to be Offshored?

The three final speakers at today's Jobs NOW meeting presented, perhaps, the most compelling story line of the whole event. It's about the slow death of manufacturing through benign neglect and through active campaigns for "High Tech" solutions. There are compelling reasons to encourage manufacturing, however, and these speakers made the case well, if only by coincidence.

The first of the three is an entrepreneur who owns a small Milwaukee-area manufacturing-services company. His background is eclectic--he worked with Fr. Groppi at the old St. Boniface parish, then for a couple of "Big Eight" accounting firms, then as the (very successful) co-founder of a dental-care network. He later participated in some Silicon Valley action, and finally returned to Milwaukee, purchasing the business he now operates.

He made an interesting observation: the revenues of manufacturers in the State of Wisconsin exceed the total worldwide revenues of ALL 'biotechnology' firms. And he approvingly quoted an earlier speaker who said that "if you don't mine it, make it, or grow it," you are not creating sustainable wealth.

This speaker was followed by a gentleman who operates a very large machining house, (employing 800 or so), who spoke of the disappearance of manufacturing from the Wisconsin landscape; he was concerned about changes in Wisconsin's 'joint/several' liability laws as well as the 'pooling exclusions' for health insurance; but more than that, he was concerned about the continuing erosion of Wisconsin's manufacturing base. There are 800 families' incomes at stake in his shop alone.

Both these men see manufacturing as a very important contributor to the economic well-being of the State--and the final speaker made that case again, directly and indirectly.

The last speaker was a black man working in the trades. He thought there should be some changes in health-care to make it more affordable, but did not endorse HillaryCare, nor Obama's plan. He was forceful, clear, and to the point.

But that was not the most significant part of his presentation.

During his narrative, he mentioned that his mother worked at Briggs and his dad worked at another large local manufacturer. Neither of those parents were engineers, nor managers. They (most likely) had a high-school education and probably a fair amount of training afforded them by their employers. With only those credentials, his parents were able to assemble a comfortable (but not opulent) life for themselves and for their child(ren.)

THAT is what manufacturing provides. A decent life for 'regular people' who do not have college degrees. An income which allows for raising children comfortably. The final speaker implored the Leggies to find ways to retain manufacturers. He had already made the point that his parents benefitted from that economic powerhouse. He also mentioned that during his career, he had worked 'on-site' as a contractor for GM/Janesville, P&H, and Case/Racine--in other words, manufacturing provided a decent life for him, too.

It never ceases to amaze me that some people would simply allow Wisconsin's manufacturing base (and the mining base, too) to wither on the vine in hopes of 'putting Wisconsin on the High Tech Highway', effectively telling a large group of Wisconsin citizens that they do not have a future in this State. I remind you that if someone is convinced they do not have a future, they will not be seeking one...

Seems to me that the alternative to welfare IS work; but not all work requires Masters' or Ph.D. degrees. Some work only needs willing hands and the ability to learn. It is the kind of work which provides both a comfortable living and a future.

Why ignore it?

Jobs NOW Task Force--Milwaukee Meeting

We were invited to attend the Jobs NOW Task Force meeting held in Milwaukee this afternoon. Co-chairs of the task force are Rep. Rich Zipperer and Senator Randy Hopper. Other legislators were in attendance--Lazich, LaMahieu, Jim Ott, Pridemore, Fitzgerald, Newcomer, Nygren, Grothmann, Honandel, Darling, and a few others whose names I missed. The event was covered by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's business section and an NPR guy showed up for a while.

(Since I don't use my name, I won't use the names of the individuals who spoke. There will be some vague description of their business, however.)

Sen. Hopper mentioned that earlier in the day he attended a hearing during which another Leggie stated that they "would be happy to tax Wal-Mart out of the State."

That's encouraging (/sarcasm)--but it did not really set the tone for the day.

About 30 business-types spoke; some were larger-Company presidents, some were self-employed but small-business types, and a couple were also representatives of small business associations such as COSBE. That "30" number is significant--a week ago, only 4 people had signed up to attend and comment.

That tells you that momentum is building.

To this observer, there were three noticeable themes.

The first was that very few of the people who spoke addressed Gov. Doyle's spending spree. They certainly did address the cutbacks they had to make in their own businesses due to the recession--one individual is closing out his 401(k) to keep his employees, and another spoke of a client who will be doing the same thing AND who has not taken a paycheck from his own enterprise for 90 days. But the unconstrained spending of the Governor did not get the hammering I expected. There was talk of the effects of the Governor's tax increases--none of it complimentary, but none was vehement. An 'angel investor' specifically mentioned that wealth seemed to be in flight from Wisconsin, at least partially due to the tax climate; another entrepreneur mentioned a couple of Department of Revenue auditors who couldn't seem to be human.

The second theme concerned health insurance cost and availability. Many of the speakers mentioned tweaking the laws to allow more people to purchase insurance at group rates (without going to a 'Healthy Wisconsin' model.)

The third theme was loosely organized around "education." A very forceful and persuasive woman suggested that business owners and managers should embark on a campaign to educate people about who they really are; she rejected the all-to-common shorthand characterization that all business owners are like the NYC bonus-babies.

The OTHER 'education' component had to do with the failure of Milwaukee's public schools (or many of Milwaukee's parents) to adequately educate their children/students for business positions. Many were frustrated by being unable to hire people with simple telephone and word-processing skills; they were not looking for high-level math or writing--just the basics. And they cannot find them.

Generally speaking, the ideas presented were concerned with the future--better incentives for businesses to remain here, or to relocate here; a better health-care climate; and a better-educated next generation which was not antipathetic to business AND capable of taking on common office- or factory-chores.

See the above post for 'the rest of the story.'

P-Mac V. Steininger


P-Mac doesn't like Steininger's essay.

It's almost impossible to cover the territory adequately in either of those essay length-restrictions--so Steininger has this:

The American workforce recognizes that any company is successful in large part because all the employees of that organization contribute to its success. To single out one class of individuals on the executive team and give credit primarily to them is instinctively recognized as wrong. Several years ago, The Wall Street Journal did an interview with the president of a Japanese automobile company who couldn't understand why a reporter wanted to interview him rather than the workers on the assembly line. Is it any wonder that those companies have surpassed American automobile companies in total sales and quality?

---which doesn't explain the current woes of GM or Chrysler very well at all...(hint: union rules and legacy benefits)

And P-Mac has this:

Wall Street doesn’t make things of value. Who does? Interestingly, he mentions George Dalton, who, via Fiserv, made a fortune catering exactly to the financial services sector. For that matter, Steininger made his living running an insurance company. Just saying.

A head-fake. FiServ developed (manufactured) systems which DO 'add value,' providing both instantly available micro-data AND macro-data for financial institutions. Has nothing whatsoever to do with Wall Street--except that some of them are customers.

What Steininger and P-Mac should agree upon is the simple principle that 'Work was made for man, not man for work,' voiced by John Paul II, and the very simple correct predicate of all value-exchange for labor. IOW, all humans have an intrinsic value which should be respected and should be fairly compensated.

The hard part, of course, is figuring out what that 'fair' compensation should really be.

In most cases, those CEO's give up a helluva lot for their success--ask their families. It's more than most of us will give up. Orders of magnitude more.

OK. Now ask those folks whether the yacht, twin Maybachs, and 6Br/5Ba in Great Neck was what they really, really, wanted from life.

And what will happen to all that stuff when they pass from this mortal coil...which is the real payoff question.