Google Analytics

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

4 Triiiiiiiiiiiiillion dollars.

A phrase I would like to never see in any bill before Congress

The amounts made available under this subsection shall not exceed $4,000,000,000,000.

4 TRILLION dollars!? Seriously? Yes. Have a look at page 438 of HR 4173.

Oh yeah, its basically a big bail out fund for future use at the discretion of Secretary of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve – but only if they *really* think they it will work. Riiiight.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Just a minute? Just one? Please?

Joe Leiberman runs out of time on the Senate floor and Al Franken objects to allowing one more minute for him to conclude. Then John McCain takes exception to the unsual ruling.
Tomorrow: Cage fights!

Get it! Wait don’t!

What’s the most ironic item on my Christmas list this year?

Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn't Buy Presents for the Holidays

Love me some Texas!

While I do have issues with Governor Perry, he makes some interesting points in an editorial over at Big Government.

I did not realize that

Over the past decade, Texas has added more wind power than all but four other countries

and despite a rapidly growing economy and population

a side effect of all of our efforts has been that our carbon dioxide emissions have fallen by more than nearly every other state and even every country in the world except Germany.

So the land of Black Gold is doing alright with respect to clean energies - and we’ve done all of this without the draconian measures mandated in some other states and also haven’t bankrupted the state just yet.

(I’m still not sure how all my buddy’s power actually comes from wind and mine from natural gas while using the same wires but OK. I imagine herding electrons is a bit like herding cats.)

Jeffersonian propoganda?

Somehow I think Thomas Jefferson would be surprised to see with his quote being used to promote a progressive socialist agenda. This is the winning entry of an art contest at Public Option Please

beating heart of America

Mark Krikorian nails this over at the Corner

Notice that Washington is pictured as the heart of nation, where tired, oxygen-depleted blood is replenished and returned to the hinterland. It's a perfect illustration of the worldview of the Left. The NRCC should turn this into a poster warning Americans about the consequences of another two years of Democratic dominance in Congress.

I’d love to see someone do the same thing but with a federalist slant - 50 hearts, one in each state and maybe little hands holding together. How can the left say no to holding hands? (or better yet, held together with little dollar bills!)

Update: Now thinking more, maybe it should be 300 million little hearts running around making personal choices to engage in direct commerce with each other… But that might be hard to draw.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Turn it down!

The latest in the category of “Things that are a good idea shouldn’t necessarily be a law”

The house just passed H. R. 1084

To require the Federal Communications Commission to prescribe a standard to preclude commercials from being broadcast at louder volumes than the program material they accompany.

Really? Do I need a law to make the commercials quieter?

I know the reason. I’ve been up late and had a commercial come on that was startlingly louder than the scene of the TV show that preceded it. But this is the kind of feel good junk law which sounds like a reasonable idea until you start to think if it should really be a law. I do not want any legislative body worrying about the volume of my TV. Its a waste of time and money and an intrusion. What if I am selling fog horns? I kinda want the commercial to be loud, right?

Hyper-Paranoid Resulting Scenario: new laws mandating volume control of my television remotely accessible by “proper authorities” – sound unlikely? So did remote controlling my thermostat a few years ago.

Mr Bernanke, what are you going to do now? Disneyland?

Time named their Person of the Year this morning. On the way into the office today I heard this quote which struck me as one of the biggest reasons for the title and the biggest problems with his position (my emphasis)

Bernanke is the 56-year-old chairman of the Federal Reserve, the central bank of the U.S., the most important and least understood force shaping the American — and global — economy.

It is the “least understood” part that is the most serious problem. Without proper oversight, there is no way to tell how good or bad a job the Federal Reserve is doing. And in recent times the Fed has told both the Executive and Legislative branches to just take a hike when asked to review the books. Its a rogue entity which does what it wants.  That is the reason it is the most important force in the global economy. But without understanding there is no control. “Just trust me” is NOT an acceptable governmental policy.

The next time you hear someone complain about those evil bankers making off with tax dollars, ask them how the banks actually work. Then wait for the dramatic slack jawed pause as they comprehend their own ignorance.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tax me so you can give it back to me

Its charts like this that leave me dumbfounded. Do we really need the federal government to take our money in order to just give it back to the local governments? How much is lost in overhead in this process? How much is just plain lost? How much would be saved if the local governments collected it directly (assuming that these are not things that could just be cut)

You know the only good thing about this graph? That little dip from 1980-1985 when spending actually went down.

(chart from Downsizing Government using data from the latest Analytical Perspectives by Office of Management and Budget)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Banks not always the way to go

Even as the FDIC looks for ways to get more people to use banks instead of short term loan services like pawn brokers or payday loan operators, the FDIC’s own report is evidence that banks don’t want to be in this business and they aren’t good at it.

In 2007, the FDIC set up a program for 30 banks to offer short-term loans of up to $1,000, at a maximum APR of 36% but it had some hitches in its giddy up. breaks it down thusly

While payday loans are approved in a mere 15 minutes, most of these FDIC-sponsored loans took more than 24 hours to approve — failing consumers who needed their funds immediately; some required direct deposit, credit checks and possibly a financial literacy class or collateral (none of which are required for a PDL); some required a portion of the loan be put on deposit (not part of the PDL process); only a few thousand loans were made because of said inconveniences (compared to 100 million loans annually for PDLs due to their convenience); and none of the institutions actually made a profit while some lost money, even when including an origination fee of up to $50 (whereas PDL’s profitability allows them to be widespread and easily accessible).

This is a class of customers who want one thing. They want cash and they want it fast. They do not want to buy and add-on. They do not want to listen to your upsell pitch on how they can invest the rest of the money that they don’t have. They want to walk in, stand in line, sign the papers and go pay their electric bill.

I did find one flaw in big governments comments though (from looking at the FDIC report), some banks did make a profit on these services. But those banks were already providing them to the public. So there was no reason to offer incentives to the banks to do them. Even then it wasn’t a significant source of revenue to the bank, so they were primarily an opportunity to upsell to other bank services.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Forget healthcare, we gotta fix the BCS!

Really, this is what their time is spent on? Come on Joe, I know we take football pretty seriously here in Texas but this is (a) ridiculous and (b) none of your business.

From the Joe Barton’s bill in which the house subcommittee has just approved legislation which would require a college playoff in order to declare a “national champion”.

It shall be unlawful for any person to promote, market, or advertise a post-season National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) football game as a championship or national championship game, unless the game is the final game of a single elimination post-season playoff system for which all NCAA Division I FBS conferences and unaffiliated Division I FBS teams are eligible.

I’m sorry that Congress finds that

the colleges and universities whose teams participate in the post-season football bowls experience significant financial windfall … over universities whose teams are ineligible or statistically at a disadvantage from the BCS bowl competitions because of their conference affiliation.

but football isn’t about fairness. And in the end Congress shouldn’t care one bit about how the college organizations decide to pick a winner – even if it is complicated and contrived. Anybody who writes their congressman to get this “fixed” should be flogged.

[full disclosure: Go Horns!]

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Burn him! Burrrrrrrrn him!

And I thought the German’s were a bit overboard with their precautionary anti-Nazi imagery laws. According to

The remains of Hitler, his companion Eva Braun and the family of Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels were destroyed in April 1970 on the secret orders of then-KGB chief Yuri Andropov, the Russian news agency said today.

The Soviets were concerned that graves of Third Reich leaders might one day attract Nazi sympathizers, Interfax said. The remains were burned and dumped into the Biederitz River

Although if I were to pick someone worried about a resurgence of totalitarian ideology of idolatry of the state from its former symbolism, I’d pick the current totalitarian ideology of idolatry of the state.

(HT: Jonah Goldberg)

Set your DVRs now

Hmmm, Daily Beast is reporting John Stossel is back on TV as he launches his new show Thursday 8pm on Fox Business Network, but I can’t find the listing.

pins and needles!


My guide finally updated and it is on FBN tomorrow night at 8pm/7pm Central (we get no love in central) but now it conflicts with Community – can’t miss it – and Flash Forward – which may become a “can miss” if they don’t get their act together. *sigh*

Monday, December 7, 2009

Are you “underbanked”?

Crap. Here we go again.

Banks face pressure to reach out to underserved as FDIC survey documents gap

The survey, conducted through the Census Bureau, found that 25.6 percent of the nation’s households – representing some 60 million adults – are “unbanked” or “underbanked” and rely on expensive non-bank services such as payday loans, check-cashing services, money orders or pawn shops to conduct their financial transactions.

This reeks of the maternal state telling you how you should manage your money. “If you are not using a bank, then you are doing it wrong!”

The FDIC, operating under the mandate from a 2005 law to bring more people into the financial mainstream, is pushing for banks to offer products such as low-cost transaction accounts and small-amount short-term loans, officials told reporters in releasing the report this week

Maybe if I don’t use a bank, I don’t actually have enough money to require a bank’s services?

“Access to an account at a federally insured institution provides households with an important first step toward achieving financial security – the opportunity to conduct basic financial transactions, save for emergency and long-term security needs, and access credit on affordable terms,” FDIC chairman Sheila Bair said in a statement.

Since when did actually having cash on hand to perform basic financial transactions become a problem? OK, if I don’t have a bank account I may not qualify for credit… and? Maybe that is indicative of a problem with the credit market rather than with the people who physically manage their own money. Yes credit scores are easy to look at but they are severely distorted. I’ve never heard anyone claim that saving and paying cash was worse than buying on credit. Also, note that the push for using FDIC backed accounts to “achieve financial security” is coming from the FDIC chairman.

When was the last time we heard language like this? Oh, yeah about 10-15 years ago when there were so many “underserved” in the mortgage market. What does a bank account bubble look like?

Miranda me? Miranda you!

Today at the Supreme Court is a case on Miranda warnings. The court will decide a matter which has split the lower courts – whether the police officer sufficiently provided a warning to the suspect before the suspect signed that he understood his rights and then during the subsequent interrogation admitted that he owned the gun in question.

The standardized form used by the police read (my emphasis)

You have the right to remain silent.  If you give up this right to remain silent, anything you say can be used against you in court.  You have the right to talk to a lawyer before answering any of our questions.  If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, one will be appointed for you without cost and before any questioning.  You have the right to use any of these rights at any time you want during this interview.

I’m not really sure how this can not be read that the warning does not “reasonably convey” the substance of the suspect’s rights.

1) You have a right to ask a lawyer about the questions.
2) You can use any right any time.

It’s about as clear as it gets without Jerry Orbach acting it out - unless maybe the micro machines guy was the one reading them.

In this day and age I’m still surprised (especially with all the Law & Order spinoffs and reruns) that people don’t know that when you first have the tiniest suspicion that the police might potentially be thinking that you may have had least bit to do with anything possibly illegal – shut your yap!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It’ll cost what it’ll cost!

Quote of the Day:

The US Postal Service’s planned new program for combining all their barcode systems for efficient delivery is nearly a year late and may not have enough money to actually finish the project. When the GAO recommended they 

Define the core set of requirements for the entire program and use them as a basis for developing a reliable cost estimate.

the USPS responded

“Any attempt to define the ‘entire program’ and the cost associated is a waste of funding and resources.”

I wish I was allowed to say that when estimating a project.

(HT: Downsizing the Government)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

You do what you know

According to a J.P. Morgan research report shows over 90 percent of the prior experience of the Presidential Cabinet appointments is in the public sector


In the spirit of “Judge me by the people with whom I surround myself.” its little wonder that everything Obama’s administration does is to create and expand government bureaucracy. Its the only thing they know.

Only 9 storms? We can do better.

A party is in order. We survived another hurricane season!

Nov. 30 (Bloomberg) -- The Atlantic hurricane season ended today after producing the fewest named storms in 12 years. It was the first time in three years that no hurricane struck the U.S. mainland.

Which got me thinking, why didn’t we get any good storms this year? I figure it must be Obama’s doing because I know if we still had old George in office we would have gotten at least one Cat 5 storm on land by now. I think that must be what the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded for – preventing civil unrest in New Orleans via hurricane disruption.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Don’t use the truth, just use our message.

I know this is not exactly what she meant but in a memo to the Health Care for America Now (HCAN) members on how to prepare to deal with the Tea Party protesters at the town halls earlier this year, Margarida Jorge wrote

Rather than try to reply with the truth (which won’t move them anyway) we should respond with our message

So truth is not really their friend here? Only the message.

Translation “Don’t debate. Just repeat the bullet points we’ve provided”

Which is probably good advice because I imagine they would lose the debate as soon as it got into details on how they planned to provide cheap healthcare for all for free without restriction.

I’m being flippant here, but be sure to read Big’s analysis which pulls out the real meaty stuff.

My lifestyle is unsustainable!

Nice, climate expert Rajendra Pachauri says

Hotel guests should have their electricity monitored; hefty aviation taxes should be introduced to deter people from flying; and iced water in restaurants should be curtailed, the world's leading climate scientist has told the Observer.

but neglects to mention he personally flew 443,243 miles in the last 19 months. Not to mention the weekend trip from New York to Delhi to attend a practice cricket match.

Of course the real effect of this would make the rich mobile and the poor will eventually be stuck in a 20 mile bicycle radius without ice for their Big Gulps. Wait, what am I thinking? They’ll get carbon offset refundable tax credits of course!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fighting the Fed

In Ron Paul news the Paul-Grayson Amendment Passes Committee

Congressman Ron Paul (TX-14) is pleased to announce that his and Congressman Grayson’s amendment based on HR 1207 has passed in the Financial Services Committee by a vote of 43-26 and will be included in major banking reform legislation.

The Paul/Grayson amendment:

· Removes the blanket restrictions on GAO audits of the Fed

· Allows audit of every item on the Fed's balance sheet, all credit facilities, all securities purchase programs, etc.

· Retains limited audit exemption on unreleased transcripts and minutes

· Sets 180-day time lag before details of Fed's market actions may be released

· States that nothing in the amendment shall be construed as interference in or dictation of monetary policy by Congress or the GAO

“While HR 3996, if passed, will grant sweeping new powers to the Federal Reserve, at least with this amendment attached, it won’t be acting in secret anymore. This is a major victory for Federal Reserve transparency and government accountability. I am very grateful to Congressman Bachus and all the other Members who were so supportive and helpful in this effort," stated Congressman Paul.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Honey, remember those vows?

Shhhh, don’t tell my wife!

Texas' gay marriage ban may have banned all marriages

(HT: The Agitator)

Its the KSM in NY show!

I was going to write up my thoughts on the whole trying KSM in NY thing but apparently the Czar had his mind reading apparatus pointed towards my little hovel yesterday and did it for me.

Among the thoughts lifted from my brain…

These guys are not American citizens, nor were they arrested on American soil by law enforcement. The right to a trial by jury is a bit of a stretch for “foreigners living abroad,” especially when some of them—such as KSM himself—did not actually commit a physical crime on American soil nor Americans living abroad, but conspiracy to do so.

The President, through his AG, basically thinks that if the case is strong enough against someone in his own judgment, the Constitutional presumption of innocence need not apply.

Of course the whole line of reason to give him a trial based on “we can do it because we know he’s guilty and will be convicted” is just downright offensive. You either give him the traditional trial or not and you do not base that decision on how likely you think a conviction will be.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Honest ACORNs!

They found one! Congratulations Felix Harris! You are the only person an ACORN office who refused to help the two investigative reporters posing as a pimp and prostitute looking for housing to help run an underage prostitution ring.

Although Mr. Felix D. Harris of Los Angeles ACORN told us he didn’t care about our prostitution business in regards to a housing loan, he drew the line when we spoke about the underage girls.  Although he did not kick us out, he was the only employee in our nationwide ACORN child prostitution investigation who would not assist us.

of course with accompanying video

(From Big Government)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Oh, I’m just a bill (nitpick)

I recently heard the old favorite I’m Just a Bill from Schoolhouse Rock and maybe its just the riled up libertarian in me, but this struck me as odd. The part where they describe how the whole process starts says

Bill: Well I got this far. When I started, I wasn't even a bill, I was just an idea. Some folks back home decided they wanted a law passed, so they called their local Congressman and he said, "You're right, there oughta be a law." Then he sat down and wrote me out and introduced me to Congress

The accompanying image is


The problem is that this is clearly not the purview of Congress. Local school bus traffic laws don’t really fall anywhere under any section of the Constitution.

But maybe what everyone should go watch (many for the first time) is a little known song from the same series called Tyrannosaurus Debt (lyrics only here)

Tyrannosaurus Debt

In Sheep’s Clothing

Exactly ‘Puter! That's what I’ve been saying too.

Once the government starts paying for your health care, any of your activities that have any tangential impact on your health, or that of your children, can be regulated. And that, even moreso than the exorbitant price tag, is the lurking disaster in ObamaCare.

Let’s forget that much of it is patently unconstitutional and that, long term, it will destroy the country through massive deficits. This is the single biggest danger to the whole thing.

Is Islam inherently violent?

It doesn’t matter! As of of The Corner’s readers so astutely points out

It is entirely irrelevant if Violent Islam is the true Islam, a fake one, or a fringe element. What is important is that it's followers be killed or disabled, one way or the other. There is no converting these people, trust me.

btw – be sure to go read the whole letter

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How Bush and Obama’s foreign policies are the same?

I forgot to mention this a few days ago, but I thought this was a particularly interesting analysis of general US foreign interest strategy.

Obama and the U.S. Strategy of Buying Time

He makes an interesting argument that the policies are not really all that different and are specifically American, they are just at different phases of the same set of steps/choices that we always go through – although Obama may be trying to backtrack to a previous step in some instances.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Capitalism as The Wall fell

Since today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, I am reminded of the story a German friend of mine related to me. He was living in West Berlin at the time with his parents. Once they saw on television that the wall was literally coming down and people were taking pieces of it as souvenirs, his mother decided it would be a good idea to have one. So she sent my friend and his father begrudgingly down to the wall in order to hack off a piece for posterity.

The two of them realized this was not necessarily going to be an easy task and involved more physical labor than either cared to provide at the moment. (Remember this is a serious wall designed to keep people at bay for years) Fortunately, once they got down there an enterprising young man had already done the work and had set up a table in front of the wall selling pieces of the wall. They decided to just pay the man and took a piece home and never told his mother where they got it.

When given the opportunity, people will find a way to provide services that benefit everyone involved in the transaction.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Make them buy it and complain when I can’t keep it?

“If I lose my job, I lose my insurance”

This is a well understood problem which hearkens back to the days when many people got a job and then retired from that same job some years later. Since your job didn’t change then your insurance didn’t change. The job market doesn’t work that way today. People change jobs all the time – even in a good economy.

Now why, if the problem is tying insurance to a job, does the latest House insurance proposal (as well as most others) *require* businesses to buy their employees health care? If we want to make sure I don’t lose my health insurance when I lose my job, then why do we make my job pay for it?

And do not fall into the nit-picky “well only bigger businesses have to pay for it” argument. No business should be paying for this. If its my insurance, I should be buying it. That’s how you make me actually act responsible about purchasing, which makes the insurance companies act responsibly about selling.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Here’s Your Home-Buyer Tax Credit, and This is Your Audit

According to the WSJ, the First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit introduced last April was so easy and to scam that

The Treasury's inspector general for tax administration, J. Russell George, recently told Congress that at least 19,000 filers hadn't purchased a home when they claimed the credit. For another 74,000 filers, claiming a total of $500 million in credits, evidence suggests that they weren't first-time buyers.

And in fact its so bad that

the IRS is reportedly trying to audit almost everyone who claims it this year.

Hmmm, I wonder how many of these might have been suggestions from an ACORN office?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Who needs an ad agency when you have fans?

Wow. Most all very creative, engaging, thought provoking, and pretty much 100% wrong. This scares the crap out of me.

Organizing for America has have posted the 20 finalist videos for their Health Reform Video Challenge. The winner of which will receive

One (1) winner will receive the following prize: All or part of the winner's Video (defined below) may be used in a television advertisement associated with Sponsor's health reform campaign (approximate retail value: $0).

This is the reason Obama won the election over everyone else (not just McCain). He knew how to harness the close connection to his supporters the internet provides. Need a well produced ad? Have no money? No problem. Just ask for it and the infinite monkeys with infinite typewriters theory takes care of the rest.

And in watching these videos, the one thing I can’t figure out is why they keep harping on the “If I lose my job, I lose my insurance” point without actually addressing why it is that way. As I’ve written before, I think the tax break on insurance purchases that businesses receive and individuals don’t is maybe the single largest culprit in this whole mess.

(Oh, and $0 value for the winner? really?)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rube Goldberg health insurance

 Big Government has a link to a new “This is how the public option is a single payer trojan horse” audio clip from Paul Krugman.

Two things I like about Krugman’s comments:

#1 He fully acknowledges it would cost the same or more likely more

Now in reality it's the same amount of money or probably
more. But it takes less tax revenue. What would otherwise be called taxes is called premiums.

#2 He gives us the perfect metaphor for the health care bills floating around. They are Rube Goldberg devices. He is trying to say its complicated in order to hide the real single payer goal underneath, but I believe its complicated because in the true sense of Rube Goldberg its just over engineered and wasteful. Both reasons are likely correct, and both are definitely bad ideas.

More ACORN, yum!

You’ve got to wonder how much more ACORN will keep talking when every time they open their mouth and make a defensive statement, it gets smacked down with hard video evidence.

Brietbart has yet another video which directly contradicts ACORN's statements to Media Matters and the police report filed regarding their Philadelphia visit.

Of course this also brings up the possibility of filing a false police report on top of everything else.

Yeah its illegal, but I won’t tell if you don’t

The DOJ’s memo on enforcing drug laws states that

As a general matter, pursuit of these priorities should not focus federal resources in your States on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.

But also it says

Of course, no State can authorize violations of federal law

This sounds like “Well, your state law is illegal but we will pretend its not.” Cherry picking of law enforcement essentially legalizes individual use of medical marijuana if the state decides it is ok. But remember that the Supreme Court decided otherwise.

Also, what does this mean for the Montana Firearms Freedom Act? Will the administration be so forgiving when its guns and not marijuana we are talking about?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On Zombie Preparedness

(Just playing catchup and skimming The Corner for the last week.) I do love a good discussion on how to properly deal with a zombie infestation. A series of posts from Jonah Goldberg and his readers…

  1. Zombie Preparedness
  2. Zombie Preparedness Cont'd
  3. Zombie Prep Cont'd
  4. The Zombie Mob
  5. Yes…
  6. All You Zombies
  7. RE: All You Zombies

Of course the real problem is whether they are undead or virus type zombies. That critical point changes everything. Although I was hoping Mark Stein might weigh in here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

But following the Constitution is hard!

When was the last time you saw a bill recognize its own unconstitutionality in the actual text of the bill?

Bobby Rush’s (D-IL) bill HR 45 on firearm restrictions states (in Section 2: Findings and Purposes)

Congress finds that … because the intrastate and interstate trafficking of firearms are so commingled, full regulation of interstate commerce requires the incidental regulation of intrastate commerce

So what this says to me is that because its kind of hard to regulate interstate commerce without regulating intrastate, we are going to just ignore that part of the Constitution and do it anyway.

Actually, if he was paying attention when he wrote the bill, he would have noticed that Montana and several other states actually have laws passed or in the legislatures to help with this.

Friday, October 9, 2009

When you have a 6 month seizure

I’m keeping an eye on the SCOTUS case Alvarez vs Smith. The various states’ drug crime property seizure laws are ridiculous and ripe for abuse.

The Illinois Drug Asset Forfeiture Procedure Act (DAFPA) permits the warrantless seizure of personal property involved in certain drug crimes as long as there is probable cause to believe it was involved in a drug crime and, therefore, subject to forfeiture.  Although forfeiture proceedings are required under DAFPA, as many as 187 days can elapse between the seizure and the filing of judicial forfeiture proceedings.

Basically the question comes down to, after a seizure of your property, how long can they keep you in suspense before they really decide whether it was a valid seizure. The problem is that if they seize your car for 6 months, it may put a serious dent into your ability to earn a living.

Boneheaded security guard statement of the day

To a photographer attempting to take pictures of a Miami Dade Transit site (as part of putting together a construction bid for the site)
The County Ordinances supersede the Constitution.

and this one gets 2nd place

The Constitution does not apply on Miami-Dade Transit grounds

Nobel Shenanigans

President Barack Obama has won the Nobel Peace prize. Can someone please explain this to me?

The prize is awarded to whoever “shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses

Hmm, that's a lot to do in just the 2 weeks he was in office before the nomination deadline passed!

I’m still not sure how Al Gore won the Peace Prize but at least he was busy doing something tangible you could point to.

The committee said

His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population.

Except, um, he wasn’t elected by the world.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

lies, damn lies, and CBO math

If Karl Rove is right

The CBO report claims the bill won't add to the budget deficit until 2015—but the bill only manages that feat by delaying benefits and imposing taxes and Medicare and Medicaid cuts up front.

and Ghettoputer’s subsequent back-of-the-napkin calculations are in the ballpark

projected revenues will generate $910 billion over 10 years. Outflows will be $829 billion over 7.5 years. … that's an average yearly inflow of $91 billion and an average yearly outflow of $110.5 billion, or a average annual deficit of $19.5 billion each year the benefits are actually paid.

Then the whole CBO discussion on the Baucus bill is way off the mark. The question then becomes, what happens in year 11?

Health care speechwriter hits reality

Wendy Button who wrote health care speeches for John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Barack Obama, et. al., recently moved from DC to Massachusetts and has an interesting article observing what universal health care means in practice.

Some choice excerpts

here's how I lost my insurance: I moved. That's right, I moved from Washington, D.C., back to Massachusetts, a state with universal health care.

In D.C., I had a policy with a national company, an HMO, and surprisingly I was very happy with it. … my premium was $225 a month, … In Massachusetts, the cost for a similar plan is around $550, give or take a few dollars.

they had reforms, automatic enrollment, and universal coverage in Massachusetts, all the things I'd written about for politicians. Health care would be affordable. It didn't dawn on me that it would just be affordable for other people.

If I had a dollar for every time I typed, "universal coverage will lower premiums," I could pay for my own health care at Massachusetts's rates.

Its definitely worth the whole read though.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Yes, Czar, while it is an appealing concept to just kick the UN off US soil, there is one good reason to keep it here.

A while back I read (I believe it was in Body of Secrets) that one of the reasons we lobbied so hard to have the UN in the US was because of requests from the NSA. You see, if the place is completely inside New York, then all communication lines have to go through New York, and tapping extremely high value communication lines within your own country is much easier than doing it somewhere else.

The question is are we getting our 25% worth out of it anymore?

Friday, October 2, 2009

“Fox lies!” says the White House

The White House silently snubbed Fox News when Obama went on every major news network (and some not-major-news networks) in one weekend and did not go on Fox. This was an implicit insult which did not go unnoticed, but I was reading a White House Blog posting this week in which they seem to have thrown down the gauntlet quite openly.

The post lays out their response to Glen Beck’s comments regarding Obama’s Chicago friends and the failed Olympic bid he made a special trip to support. Then at the end it says

For even more Fox lies, check out …

This is not saying “We disagree with Fox” or “Fox has it wrong” this is saying “Fox news is knowingly wrong. They lie.”

This is the Official White House Blog calling out “You lie!” to the only press organization on the planet actually questioning the administration.

When the powers that be try to logically defend their position and then still have to resort to language like this which attempts to smear and subvert everything that Fox may report, it belies the fear of the truth that their argument doesn't hold.

The shopping list

Here’s your money, Jack. Here’s a list to make sure you don’t go spending it on magic beans!

The earmarks in the Defense Department Appropriations the Senate is currently working on include some ridiculous things but it looks like calling it out may have caused CNN to go ask some pertinent questions of congressmen on the capitol steps. Wow, real probing questions! What’s fun is their answers.

When asked why they earmarked large sums of the overall budget to specific (local district) companies for questionable items the general response was “oh well they need these things”

Of course, if they hadn’t designated that the Pentagon spend the money on their “needed” things, the Pentagon could actually decide what they needed to do with the money.

Monday, September 28, 2009

WARNING: Breasts in ads may be smaller than they appear

OK first the French and now the Brits are looking at the need to put warning labels on photos used for advertising or even editorial purposes.

The most useful piece of information from this NY Times article doesn’t pop up until the very end

With deception lurking in so many places, Mr. Hudson, the photographer, said he did not think curbs on alterations would have the desired effect.

“Unfortunately, we are living in a retouched world,” he said.

Think about this for a second. Is it even possible to define what “alterations” means? In the age of digital photography every single photograph is modified on its way from the lens to the paper.

Most camera’s do some sort of processing on the images before you even get them to a computer. What exactly is the wrong kind of processing? Can I adjust the overall color balance of a photo? Is it ok for me to us softer lights and a lens that hides blemishes or is it just bad to do it with Photoshop? All photography is an art and a process of producing an image and everything from the initial staging/lighting of the set to the digital processing to the printing “alters” the image in some form.

Also, find me one person on the planet who believes that pictures in magazines are representative of real life. If you find them, I guess you better just lock them up for their own good. Or better yet don’t, I could use the sales!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Judge Rules Against Gmail User After Bank Screws Up

In an extremely disturbing ruling in California, a bank accidentally sent confidential customer information to the wrong Gmail account, then after Google properly refused to violate the confidentiality of their customer (as laid out in their privacy policy) the bank petitioned for and received a court order to shut down the user’s email account.

So this poor guy has the unfortunate position of being on the receiving end of a bank screw up and they shut down his service.

A couple of things wrong with this

  1. obviously this is the bank’s screw up and should not involve Google or the recipient in a court
  2. Why in the world is the court allowing effective punishment of an innocent party?
  3. What in the hell is the bank doing sending this information via email? ANYONE in between the bank and Google on the internet can read that data, Its not just in the email account. Email is not encrypted or secure.
  4. What is the bank doing sending email to Gmail accounts anyway? I would hope my bank doesn’t allow employees to use personal, uncontrolled email accounts for business purposes. Its possible this was a business account with a custom domain but since it was accidentally sent to someone else I’m pretty sure this was an address. If it had been to then whoever worked at could have been reached and tracked down the other account owner.

Given this gross privacy violation I’d be hard pressed to keep my money in a bank with apparently sloppy tech security policies.

(HT: The Agitator)

“Capitalism is not about need... it's about opportunity”

I don’t listen to Limbaugh but when I heard he was on Leno this week I had to find it and see how that whole interview went down. I’m glad I did. He sat down and respectfully picked apart a number of straw men and assumptions that were put forth by Leno.

The title of this post is my favorite bit from that. Leno asks if how you make your money is important. Rush responds

If you believe in the capitalist system, then you have to erase from your whole worldview what does somebody need.  It's not about need.  Capitalism is not about need.  It's about providing; it's about growing; it's about opportunity; it is about doing whatever you want to do.

And in the guilty pleasure category: watching Rush take the electric car test drive challenge and deliberately forego a decent lap time in order to back up and run over a cardboard cutout of Al Gore twice was laugh out loud hilarious!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Until his new show starts

I knew that John Stossel was moving from ABC to Fox but I didn’t realize he also is now a weekly columnist for WND.

His first column syndicated there “A libertarian at Fox” is a transitional piece but at least we now know where to find his writings since his blog at ABC has pretty much dried up. And it looks like his stuff is also carried over at

Looking forward to it!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hey, wait! The story is not over there!

Wait a minute you can’t have it both ways. The Center for American Progress says that the ACORN story isn’t newsworthy but his reasoning is contradictory

To be fair, outside of nakedly ideological outfits, most of the reporters in the mainstream media behaved responsibly when the tapes emerged on right-wing radio shows and blogs. The tapes didn’t become legitimately newsworthy until the Census Bureau dropped ACORN from its efforts to collect 2010 census data. Initial reports even left out mention of the videotapes. But the videos are what attract media, particularly television, to this story, not government action against ACORN. Census and congressional moves to dissociate government from ACORN have become excuses to show these tapes again and again. News outlets have used these tapes even though they meet no reasonable journalistic standards.

So the fact that “the Census Bureau dropped ACORN from its efforts” is newsworthy but the reason for dropping ACORN is not?

Its not an excuse to show the tapes. Its the reason the government agencies took action. If its a reasonable story that the government dropped ACORN, then you have to report why they were dropped.

How far will the continue to have this mixed spin on the story. “Its not important.” “We’ve fired them.” “We are suing the videographers.” “It’s all a right wing hit job.” Apparently EVERYONE here is at fault except ACORN.

(HT: Big

Judge, I need a search warrant for an unspecified crime.

The Huffington Post noted that in the recent report on Sneak & Peek warrants aka Delayed-Notice Search Warrants authorized by the Patriot Act, for Fiscal Year 2008 only 3 of 763 the warrants granted were for terrorism. The majority (474) were for drugs. Now this does call into question the legitimate use of an anti-terrorist statue to enforce domestic drug laws (not to mention the others listed above the 3 for terrorism – fraud, tax, theft, murder, food and drug).

What really concerned me was these two categories – Other (8) and Unspecified (23). So we handed out 31 warrants for “something” and 23 of those had the crime investigated listed as “unspecified”?

Save the dolphins! (but not the sharks)

I have always heard of “dolphin safe tuna” but always assumed that meant they all switched from nets to hooks or something and so avoided picking up the dolphins. An article over at Southern Fried Science lays out the details in order to set up an ethical debate.

Apparently, the primary problem was the method of finding the tuna. They used to just follow dolphins which led them to a big fat pile-o-tuna with some dolphins mixed in and scooped them all up. Now they don’t follow dolphins and sometimes  instead put a big float out which attracts everything including the dolphins and then scoop them all up.

So the transfer of one method to the other in order to save one species has created another problem in accidentally grabbing up a bunch of other species. In fact 

If you work out the math on this (and you don’t have to, because the environmental justice foundation did) , you find that 1 dolphin saved costs 382 mahi-mahi, 188 wahoo, 82 yellowtail and other large fish, 27 sharks, and almost 1,200 small fish.

Ethical dilemma of the day: which way is better, saving the 4k dolphins or the 140k sharks, 120k wahoo, 30k rainbow runners; 12k other small fish, 6k billfish, 3k yellowtail, 1k sea turtles and a handful of triggerfish? (not to mention 130 million small tuna that aren’t big enough yet)

This is also complicated by the fact that we don’t really know the numbers and population replenishment for some of these other species.

No one knows for sure which method is better ecologically but I know one thing - Sharks aren’t as cute but they are way cooler! Besides, I don’t eat tuna so I’m already saving the dolphins.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Compromise is easy, just agree with me.

As Biden describes how his party needs to hang on to the seats in the House next year he reveals the same twisted view of “bipartisanship” that his boss has – just shut up and vote with them.

Biden said these House seats are Republicans “one shot” at breaking the Obama administration’s agenda. But if Democrats can hold on to those seats, “the dam is going to break,” he said, and a new era of bipartisanship will begin.

“All the hidden Republicans that don’t have the courage to vote the way they want to vote because of pressure from the party … it will break the dam and you will see bipartisanship,” Biden said.

Extending a hand across the aisle involves conversing across that aisle, not yanking the other person into your pew.

(thanks to the Czar for pointing out the article. I was beginning to think Biden was out of the picture for good)

Then they came for the Fresca

Slate has an article on the growing ambitions of the food police wherein they realize that anybody in power begins to overreach. On how the left is now intruding in our lives:

We're what we were five or 10 years ago: skeptics and fact-mongers with a bias for personal freedom. It's the left that's turning conservative. Well, not conservative, but pushy. Weisberg put his finger on the underlying trend: "Because Democrats hold power at the moment, they face the greater peril of paternalistic overreaching." Today's morality cops are less interested in your bedroom than your refrigerator. They're more likely to berate you for outdoor smoking than for outdoor necking.

Welcome to the conversation guys!

He goes on to discuss the current topic of soda taxation. Aside from being the best example of why you don’t want a government run health option (that being he who pays for your body makes the rules for your body) and highlights a very scary slippery slope comment in a New England Journal of Medicine paper

No adverse health effects of noncaloric sweeteners have been consistently demonstrated, but there are concerns that diet beverages may increase calorie consumption by justifying consumption of other caloric foods or by promoting a preference for sweet tastes. At present, we do not propose taxing beverages with noncaloric sweeteners, but we recommend close tracking of studies to determine whether taxing might be justified in the future.

Excuse me? “Promoting a preference for sweet tastes”? This argument is basically that diet Coke is a gateway sweet which will lead to the hard stuff – caramels.

Normally I’d mock this and chalk it up to some wacky writer, but this was published in a well respected medical journal. That makes it evidence for the eventual hearing in front of the House UnFitness Committee.

(HT: The Agitator)

Step away from the TARP!

I’ve often said during the politics-over-lunch conversations with my friends that I would love to see Congress just roll back the TARP program. Well it looks like there is some momentum to end the TARP funding.


In a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the [40] senators said the program's unobligated funds should be used to reduce the national debt. The bailout initiative, called the Troubled Asset Relief Program, is scheduled to end Dec. 31, but Geithner could extend it to Oct. 3, 2010.

"While we understand that our economy is still recovering, we believe it can function without added TARP funding," the senators wrote.

So will Geithner give up his recently granted power? Does anyone ever without a fight? or will he extend it and continue to attempt to prop up an overinflated housing market?

Friday, September 18, 2009

There is a reason he is a criminal

As a father I love stupid criminal stories. According to The Journal

The popular online social networking site Facebook helped lead to an alleged burglar's arrest after he stopped check his account on the victim's computer, but forgot to log out before leaving the home with two diamond rings.

Stuff like this (a) gives me a giggle and (b) provides real examples of the mantra my kids have had imprinted on their brains “… because criminals are stupid.”

(HT: The Gormogons)

I’ll see your DVD and raise you a box of Wheaties

Can you image 231,000,000% inflation?  I had heard it was bad in Zimbabwe but hadn’t read any of the details. Holy #@$!!

Here’s to hoping they stay stable and we avoid the same problem. I don’t know how well the contents of my house will hold up in the barter system.

(hope! hope! hope!)

p.s. That means you Mr. Bernake!

A Tackle Box Full of Race Bait

(With plagiaristic apologies to Jonah Goldberg, but hey, with a title like that, how can I not steal it?) Anyway, while his column does intelligently decipher the current calls of racism as just confused liberal tantrums, I think he zeroes in on the real problem with Maureen Dowd’s column that I haven’t seen called out in many places. She said

Fair or not, what I heard was an unspoken word in the air: You lie, boy!”

to which Goldberg replies

It’s the “fair or not” that gives Dowd away. She admits to hearing racism whether or not it’s warranted. That’s called prejudice. And unlike Wilson’s foolish outburst, Dowd’s was carefully considered. Dowd, Carter and Sharpton can’t grasp that conservatives are less hung up on race than they are and that we can get past Obama’s skin color. “Some people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it,” writes Dowd. She’s right. She’s one of them.

But it’s not that she can’t accept it, it’s that she can’t accept that a black man became president without the liberal machine pulling a fast one over on the country. If she really thinks they can’t accept it then how does she think he got there in the first place? Does she think ACORN subjugated the masses into blindly voting against their wishes?

It’s the same old leftist ideology that they know what’s good for us and if they weren’t there to tell us what to do we would dissolve into anarchy. She doesn’t believe that America could actually vote in a black man (evidence to the contrary) so she can still fall back on that to show her superiority in both helping to get him there and in championing whatever ill conceived policies he puts forth. “You racists didn’t even want him here so you’re opinion still isn’t valid.”

I believe in the paycheck

I was recently sitting in a massive rented room with a large contingent of my fellow employees when fearless leader of the week walked up on stage. We had all been taken out of our daily grind to meet, mix, learn and prepare for the year ahead. As way of energizing us for the upcoming week he talks about the aspirations of the company both for ourselves as well as our contribution to mankind as a whole and then asks the question “What do you believe in?” He means it and wants us to email him our responses. I know mine but I don’t email it to him. I’m pretty sure it’s not what he wants.

I believe in the paycheck.

I believe in my ability to leave my house in the morning and provide my skills in trade for compensation with which I care for my family.

While the people up the corporate food chain may not like to hear it, while the company may actually do good things, while I may enjoy my work with them, my goal while working there is to feed my family. I am not there for them. I am not there for you. I am there for me. If they didn't pay me I would simply find someone who would. And I know that if they can replace me with truly equivalent someone who is cheaper, they will. It’s the reason the whole system works.

I have no illusions about the arrangement. I also have no qualms with it. It seems perfectly fair to me. The problem comes along when someone else decides to take my money by force and give it to someone else without my consent or input. I will and do help out my fellow man, but I do it at my discretion – not according to some nameless bureaucrat whose salary I also have to pay.

Let me earn my money, then let me spend it as I see fit.

Later, when sitting in the same massive room, the same fearless leader steps up on stage (its still the same week) he displays the responses on a screen for all to see. Mine isn’t among them – nor is any of them even close.

NOTE: in all fairness the question posed was not just self aggrandizing as my employer has and does make substantial impacts on the daily life of our fellow man. We do what we do. We make stuff that people buy. It makes their life easier and our pockets heavier. Capitalism works!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Said California is the place you oughta be…

So the hits keep on coming in the ACORN scandal. Baltimore, DC, New York cover the east coast. Now in ironic Alinksy fashion they “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” by taking the same bit to San Bernardino, CA. This time instead of just getting regular folks to help them, they get a woman who admits to being a murderer and a Madame to help them.

And to prove how clueless or purposefully ignorant the mainstream media is on this growing evidence regarding sex, money and politics (normally right up their alley) Charlie Gibson was interviewed this morning and had absolutely no idea about this story.

So much for the “anchor of ABC's flagship broadcast "ABC's World News," as well as the network's principal anchor for breaking news

Oh, and my favorite bit of the new video? Where she talks about the

right wing bleeding heart liberals out there … I mean, bleeding hearts, not necessarily liberal.

Bleeding heart right wingers? Really? I thought they were all heartless racists.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Once, twice, three times an ACORN

Big Government keep on turning. So first Baltimore and DC, but that's it right? Not quite, apparently the NYC office of ACORN is also in the “teach you how to scam the government and run an illegal business” business too. As Big Government put it

Does ACORN train its people on how to screw the American people on income taxes while getting federal funds, or just look to hire the most heartless people in the world to help pimps hide child prostitution rings?

And in related news, as the NY Times writes of the US Census officially dropping ACORN from its helper list, there is absolutely no mention of these videos. Surprising? A little, but I still naively give them the benefit of the doubt.

Friday, September 11, 2009

But some other offices were fine!

Even if other offices in ACORN did the right thing, the fact that 2 offices (in only a handful attempted) in different cities had identical responses to the customers indicates that some serious investigation needs to be done.

A bigger question is how many bogus loans and illegal activity have just these two offices helped along the way over the years!

I’m just glad these people have finally been booted out of the US Census process.


ŒV,you've got to get someone interested in investigating before it becomes RICO. Waddya say Eric, wanna step in here? (might want to go ask the boss first)

A letter from the Prez

To my email I registered at his grass roots site. It’s a quick Rah!Rah! note asking for help lobbying Congress to follow his plan, but one thing stuck out to me

I just finished laying out my plan for health reform at a joint session of Congress. Now, I'm writing directly to you because what happens next is critical -- and I need your help.

Change this big will not happen because I ask for it. It can only come when the nation demands it. Congress knows where I stand. Now they need to hear from you.

The heart of my plan is simple: bring stability and security to Americans who already have health insurance, guarantee affordable coverage for those who don't, and rein in the cost of health care.
Tonight, I offered a specific plan for how to make it happen. I incorporated the best ideas from Democrats and Republicans to create a plan that's bold, practical, and represents the broad consensus of the American people.

I’m very curious to see what specific Republican ideas he incorporated into his plan. I have yet to hear him talk at all about

  1. reducing interstate barriers to purchasing health care
  2. offering tax breaks to individuals that businesses get to make health care portable
  3. tort reform

This just seems more of the same old “Can’t we all stop bickering and agree that I’m right?” that he seems so fond of.

Update: Oops, I missed the lip service to tort reform.

Stossel's move to Fox

I’ve long been a fan of John Stossel over at ABC. He announced yesterday that he is leaving ABC and will be moving to Fox where he will have his own show on FBN and will be a Fox contributor.

I have mixed emotions about this. On the one hand “Good for you John!” He’ll be in a more friendly environment to do his type of reporting and will have great exposure. On the other hand, we are losing a great voice on one of the broadcast network news shows which will just increase the homogeneous nature of the news programming there. I also predict the standard “Well that opinion came from Fox News” dismissal by the left of all his future stories which wasn’t quite as easily done when he was doing them on ABC in primetime.

It is sad to see that various right or libertarian voices continue to migrate to Fox which just reinforces the political polarization of the news networks. Or maybe it just makes starkly obvious that which has always been there.

Oh well, time to go update the DVR – goodbye 20/20, hello <whatever-the-new-show-will-be-called>

Thursday, September 10, 2009

“Don’t call it prostitution, call it performance art.”

So you want to bring in a dozen underage prostitutes to the US but the banks and the cops are getting in the way of your brothel’s home loan? No problem, just go to ACORN and they will help you finagle the paperwork to look legit.

Oh wait sorry, apparently the employees who actually did give someone tax and business advice on this while helping them figure out how to buy a house in which to run the brothel.

"did not meet ACORN's standards of professionalism."

according to ACORN after they fired these two after the video surfaced. Really? Thats the best statement you can provide here? OK, I guess you can keep taking federal money to help people out getting home loans then.

This reminds me of the guy who (prank) called Planned Parenthood asking if his donation could go to killing black babies because, he said, there were too many of them anyway – and they said “no problem.”

UPDATE: I found out why it reminded me of the guy who duped Planned Parenthood. Same guy.

In the category of “Uh, yeah it does”

Yesterday my son (in 7th grade) asked whether we are in a depression. The conversation evolved into a high level discussion of mortgage failure and reserve banking requirements. As soon as I said

so the federal reserve printed a bunch of new money to give to the banks to help them out

he immediately commented

But doesn't that make the money worth less?

God love the boy! That pretty much ended the explanation.

Of course my favorite quote of his so far has to do with unintended consequences of stupid laws which is

Why doesn’t anybody ever think things through?

Sorry Charlie

According to Charlie Sheen wants to meet with Obama to discuss the “truth” about 9/11. Seriously Charlie? Ummm, how ‘bout no.

But if you really believe it was an inside job then maybe we can set up a meeting with former “president” Martin Sheen and he can call a special pretend session of Congress and you can get this off your chest.

Thanks to the Mandarin. I needed a good laugh today.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

We need to be more like China!

Wow. I guess they really are like the 20th century progressives. Thomas Friedman writes in the Times today

One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century.

I can’t believe he actually published that. I know some of them think this way but to say it out loud and admit it means that they don’t think its all that extreme a point of view.

Mmmmm… pickled Democratic brains!

Can you imagine what would happen if we sat down and all had a serious discussion about liberty with real logical analysis of argument that did not devolve into rote regurgitation of hackneyed approved terms?

As noted by Vox and the Œcumenical Volgi maybe those on the left are starting to see the ridiculousness of their arguments (or lack thereof)

How has "liberty" become the inspirational code word of conservatives rather than liberals? … I always thought that the Democratic Party is the freedom party -- but I must be living in the nostalgic past.

But affluent middle-class Democrats now seem to be complacently servile toward authority and automatically believe everything party leaders tell them. Why? Is it because the new professional class is a glossy product of generically institutionalized learning? Independent thought and logical analysis of argument are no longer taught. 

The top schools, from the Ivy League on down, promote "critical thinking," which sounds good but is in fact just a style of rote regurgitation of hackneyed approved terms ("racism, sexism, homophobia") when confronted with any social issue. The Democratic brain has been marinating so long in those clichés that it's positively pickled.

Read the whole thing at Too late for Obama to turn it around? | Salon

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

On the need for zombification insurance

In the spirit of what really happens when the zombie infestation starts breaking out Dr Anarchy discusses the moral implications of decision making regarding zombies’ personal and property rights.

a small tidbit :)

The answer depends on the type of zombies we’re talking about. If the zombification is reversible, then we may have to consider them as moral actors under temporary undue influence. This would not mean you can’t chop their heads off if they’re threatening to eat you, in full consistency with any rational concept of self-defense, but it does introduce a dimension of complexity to the moral calculus

In lieu of “defenestration”

filed away for future use – The official symbol for “Thrown under the bus”

Friday, September 4, 2009

Just about speechless… (but not quite)

Unless there is something more to this story, a woman is having her child forcibly enrolled into public school. The reason? not because she was inadequately homeschooling the child. The judge said the home schooling was

more than kept up with the academic requirements of the [local] school system,

It was her mothers strong belief in her own religion that was the problem. And surprise of all surprises, she teaches that belief to her kid. Instead, the ruling said, the child would

be best served by exposure to different points of view at a time in her life when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief and behavior

I don’t see how this won’t be overturned if appealed. This is essentially the government saying “Yeah you’re religion isn't quite up to snuff to prepare your kid for the ‘real world’ so you need to insert some doubt that you don’t have yourself because we said so.”

This reminds me also of the case where the woman’s baby was taken away from her because she couldn’t speak english. Its because “they” know best even when they don’t.

Once they decide what’s good for you it never stops. I like the freedom to make mistakes. Its a fair trade off for having freedom to make my own choices.

(HT: Gormogons)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I photo’ed the law and the law won

There is an ongoing “misunderstanding” between photographers and security of federal buildings. In general it *IS NOT* illegal to photograph any building including federal ones but photographers continue to get harassed for doing so. Carlos Miller has the US Department of Transportation’s official response which to the ACLU which makes this clear.

The bulletin makes it clear that there are no restrictions of taking pictures of federal buildings from the outside, especially if you are not standing on federal property.

I found this statement interesting though

The bulletin also states that it is permissible to photograph “building entrances, lobbies, foyers, corridors or auditoriums for news purposes.”

Apparently, if they have a problem with you, you get an extra out – news worthy-ness. Of course, as soon as they start to hassle you I think it becomes news worthy.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Candyman, er.. the Government can

I think I may have to rip this for my kids to listen to on their mp3 players :)

(HT: Classically Liberal: The Government Can)

Monday, August 31, 2009

No Shower for You!

Apparently Consumer Reports Turns Tattletale when they discovered one of their reviewed shower heads had more than the EPA mandated water flow (2.5 gallons per minute).

Since the EPA is planning to reduce flow even more I took a quick look through their report and found a couple of interesting things.

While they can’t really figure out a way to measure drop temperature per meter, there is a reasonable argument that more efficient shower heads make people use more hot water. That is, manufactures inject air into the stream to keep the pressure up. The air then cools of the water faster. Solution? Turn up the hot water and just let your heater and shower head fight it out. That sounds efficient.

Also, more concretely, more efficient shower heads increase the danger of scalding because the less water you use, the more dramatic the temperature difference when your roommate flushes the toilet!

If this happens, I’ll seriously consider just not using a shower head and let the faucet flow free.

Monday, August 24, 2009

From bad to worse

Wow, the lead in to this MSNBC story has all kinds of wrong.

A Nebraska man who stole a painting of the Virgin Mary to finance an abortion for a teen he was accused of raping has been convicted of first-degree sexual assault and felony theft.

(HT: Radley Balko)

Friday, August 21, 2009

On really racist android ninjas

Jonah Goldberg hits the nail on the head in his column today A Deck Stacked with Race Cards which describes the failing attempts to marginalize dissent regarding the health care debate by dismissing anyone  who disagrees and

Which is pretty much summed up as

Suddenly, if conservatives want to transcend race, we have to agree to massive increases in the size of government and socialized medicine.

And Jonah you know the answer to this one

Seriously, if Hillary Clinton were president, would conservatives really be rolling over for the same health-care plan because she’s white?

No. It would still be objectionable, but it would be because she’s a woman!

But the best line is

Two weeks ago, town hallers were supposed to be members of the Brooks Brothers brigade, Astroturf division. Now they’re well-armed anti-government militias. At this rate, they’ll soon be android ninjas with laser vision. Wait, strike that. They’ll be really racist android ninjas with laser vision.

Now if he had only worked in a zombie reference…

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Its a racist white guy with a gun! (Except its not.)

This is absolutely unbelievable. I really cannot believe they actually put this on the air.

Go view the video for yourself over at the Sundries Shack or at Moe’s but the sum of it is that MSNBC shows a close up cropped view of a well dressed man with an AR-15 strapped to his back at a rally. The voice over says

And the reason we’re talking about this, a lot of talk here, Dylan, because people feel like, yes, there are Second Amendment rights for sure but also there are questions about whether this has racial overtones. I mean, here you have a man of color in the presidency and white people showing up with guns strapped to their waists or to their legs.

The big problem is that the guy in the video is black as seen in CNN footage of the same event. The MSNBC video is cropped super close and doesn't show his hands or face.

I usually give the benefit of the doubt that a lot of the media’s bias stems mainly from their own world view – i.e. “I’m in the middle, I’m not on the left!” but this is such shoddy reporting that it has to be deliberate and is ultimately very irresponsible for injecting a level of concern and fear into a debate that need not be there.

(HT: Radley Balko)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mathematicians, economists and zombies. Oh My!

Nothing is cooler than having mathematicians crunching numbers and then when they publish their result it says stuff like this 

a zombie outbreak is likely to lead to the collapse of civilization, unless it is dealt with quickly.

the most effective way to contain the rise of the undead is to hit hard and hit often

Except maybe when you unleash the economists to refute the original assumptions underlying zombie infestation calculations! (check out the comments on the Freakonomics blog)

Yeah, yeah tax it! Thats the ticket!

While the CZar and ‘Puter over at the Gormogons have been debating legalization of drugs, I’m reminded one thing I never see discussed.

During the discussion of whether taxing it will bring in additional revenue, nobody EVER discusses whether legalizing something for tax reasons is reasonable. If something is illegal for moral or societal reasons then it needs to be illegal. If there is a reasonable logical argument that something should not be illegal, then it needs to be legal. But we should never pass laws that determine whether or not I am allowed to own something just because you can tax me on it. Laws should be based on the need of the society, not on the need of the government’s pocketbook.

Taxes are a necessary evil. They are not an end unto themselves. The argument “because we can raise more tax money” should never taken into serious consideration in a legal debate.

While I personally waffle on the drug issue, I find anyone who suddenly switches their views to legalization purely for economic reasons a coward who has no moral fiber nor confidence in their own decisions.

Janie’s got a gun (and so do Bill and Ted and Bob and …)

Yes Jonah, openly carrying weapons is a right but ultimately doesn't enhance the debate.

I believe in gun rights, but I also think sporting guns at what are supposed to be peaceful, democratic protests, sends the wrong message. But from what I've seen so far, I can't get super worked up over it either

But what is really funny is that there are probably a lot more guns at these protests than we realize because its illegal in most states to openly carry a hand gun but there are plenty of concealed hand guns carried legally.

And as Jonah points out from a CNN report – the secret service isn’t too worried either.

Asked whether the individuals carrying weapons jeopardized the safety of the president, [U.S. Secret Service spokesman] Donovan said, "Of course not."

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dammit Jim!

I’ve always been a fan of James Carville even though I disagree with his politics the majority of the time. But this time the strategist is either off his rocker or using the time honored tactic of denial. Politico reports his comments on CNNs “State of the Union” regarding how letting the Republicans kill the health care bill will actually help the Dems.

“Put a bill out there, make them filibuster it, make them be what they are, the party of no,” Carville said. “Let them kill it. Let them kill it with the interest group money, then run against them. That's what we ought to do.”

Now I don’t doubt his intelligence (and often defend it) but come on! There are alternatives out there. One very good one, which isn’t actually new, sent the Whole Foods customers into a tizzy last week!

But then again, its much easier to just ignore alternative ideas and complain when people don’t like yours.

Snitch Line Quietly Shut Down

After a fanfare announcement and a large backlash, the White House’s snitch line has been shut down silently in the night.

Cuffy has details that the email address now bounces with a message to send feedback to instead.

So while the opportunity to rat your neighbors out to the White House via email has disappeared, you can still snitch via a web form.

But that also misses the mark a bit since the linked site does specifically mention that people should

Please refrain from submitting any individual's personal information, including their email address, without their permission.

I’m still not sure that this is this is the right place to collect this type of information but at least they are making a show of not collecting personal information. Unfortunately, as discussed before, we can’t know what information is submitted here at all.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Its not about your speech, its about you not saying your speech!

Sometimes you read something and you are glad you live where you live. Apparently some Holocaust denier in Australia is now serving a jail term for contempt of court.

In their verdict, the judges of the Federal Court said the case was not about the Holocaust but about whether Toben had complied with orders of the court.

That soooo would not fly here in the US (I hope) even though what he says is completely wrong, insulting and inflammatory. They are claiming Its not about what he said. Its about him saying it after they told him not to say it. Riiiiiight. Well why did they tell him to not say it in the first place? Because of what he was saying!

He just better hope they don't try to extradite him to Germany.

Do you really remember Woodstock?

As the 40th anniversary of the historic concert passes by and we see much fanfare and nostalgia, I can’t help but wonder if we might have more stories like this one if everyone there had a cell phone to capture their experience in pictures and video to reintroduce a bit of reality to the fond memories.

I Was At Woodstock. And I Hated It. |

It probably would have also brought YouTube to its knees. :)

Whole Foods Saves Health Care

I’m glad to see John Mackey (CEO of Whole Foods) getting some traction on his op-ed in the WSJ regarding a real way to reform the country’s health care system without dismantling it or transforming it into something that will destroy what works today or bankrupting the country.

He ultimately makes the same argument that I have been pushing for – untie health care from employment, give people real choices, and make the costs transparent.

I’ve seen references to this op-ed in a number of places now and having attention drawn to a real alternative to the existing House plan really works better than just shouting “No, not Obamacare!” without any other good suggestions to go with it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Flip-Flops will kill you!

And while we are banning things we need to BAN THE FLIP FLOPS!!!!

According to the NY Daily News

The flip-flop is the preferred summer shoe for many New Yorkers. But on city streets, the flimsy footwear can be deadly

As much as I hate some of the extreme casualness of wearing a thick piece of paper with a string and calling it a shoe (and don’t wear your pajamas to Wal-Mart either!) I have to agree with John Stossel’s Take on this

If flip-flops were so deadly, people would be lying dead all over the sidewalk.

With apologies to John…. “Gimme a break!”

Ban the taser?

Are “less than lethal” tasers too easy to use? The more items I see like this one from Carlos Miller or these from Radley Balko (aka The Agitator) I move more and more towards wanting to remove the taser’s from the police arsenal.

Provided as an alternative to drawing a firearm and promoted as less than lethal, I wonder if it is too easy to justify using a taser in the mind of the police. “Its not really going to cause permanent damage right?” Maybe, but the officer has no way of knowing that. The victim may or may not have a health issue that makes the taser just as dangerous as a bullet. Since it is promoted as “safe” it gets drawn much too often.

I’m starting to think going back to “using your hands or using your gun” draws a brighter line for the officer involved. That removes a large gray area of when its appropriate to even draw the taser. Some police departments don’t even provide guidelines for when its appropriate to brandish a taser, which says to me that they don’t take it seriously as a weapon. They do know if they misuse their firearm somebody may die.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The White House needs you (to rat on your neighbor)

From the the White House’s official blog – they want to you to report any political speech that they don’t agree with?

If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to

And it gets a little more interesting since this is a privacy grey area. According to Senate Judiciary Committee lawyers any info gathered in this way is

  • not covered by the Privacy Act, which prohibits government agencies from keeping any records
  • not covered by the Freedom of Information Act, which means it would not have to release any information on the plan to members of the public who make a request.
  • likely will be covered by the Presidential Records Act, which requires the White House to preserve and maintain its records for permanent storage in a government database.

So if that is true this becomes a secret database of people who disagree with the presidents policies (which they can of course act on) which does not have to be disclosed for at least a decade.