Friday, October 01, 2010


"Mr. Vice President, the most fiscally conservative thing this government has ever done, is to invest massively in the green part of the recovery."
-Van Jones

During the 2008 election season I got myself onto Obama's mailing list which was touted as being so progressive and technologically savvy (and, I guess compared to other politicians it was, but its sheer 1990s tech). The most recent one puts things into a perspective I suspect they didn't really mean to. President Obama isn't governing, he's not leading, he's not busy doing the work of the American people. He's campaigning:
The President is back on the campaign trail this month, talking about the important accomplishments of this movement and how we can keep moving America forward in this fall's elections.
Of course he's not really talking about accomplishments; he's avoiding topics like TARP and the Government Health Insurance Takeover Act but he is spending a lot of time attacking Republicans and being upset at Democrats for not liking him enough. But really, he only knows how to do two things: campaign and spend other peoples' money in the guise of community organizing. Oh, and sometimes he can read other people's writing very effectively with a teleprompter. The email? It calls for a rally at the Salem Democratic Party headquarters. Its the office downtown without the flag or any bunting.

Believe it or not, there's a website about tiny things. Called Look At This Little Thing! It recently featured a miniature owl that looks like it would be challenged to eat a mouse. Called the Northern Saw-whet owl, it is very attractive and tiny, which makes it very photogenic. Here's a couple pics:

Apparently they do eat voles and mice, despite their tiny size.

Traffic cameras are beloved by cities and despised by motorists. Their ostensible purpose is to help reduce traffic danger and collisions, but their actual purpose is revenue for cities. At the LA Times they have an editorial up about how lousy cameras are, and they claim they don't even make money for the city:
Greuel's audit showed that the cameras not only didn't bring in a dime for the city in 2008 and 2009, but cost it a combined $2.5 million in those years. That's pretty surprising given that red-light violators busted by the cameras have to pay a $446 citation, but only a third of that goes to the city, with the rest going to the state and county. The city, meanwhile, has to pay the contractor for the red-light system, the salaries of police and transportation officials who monitor the program, and a Superior Court fee to benefit court reporters.
There's a problem with this analysis. It presumes that all those expenses would disappear if only the traffic cameras didn't exist. But all those jobs would still be in place, they aren't going to fire the police and transportation officials. The only expense that would be reduced is the cost of the cameras (a portion of the earnings goes to the companies that install and maintain them) and the court fees. The rest is a red herring.

President Obama like President Bush before him is concerned that American schools are lagging so far behind in science and mathematics. He has called for more teachers, 10,000 in fact, to be added to the schools to teach these subjects. However, as noted earlier on WATN, there's not exactly a shortage of teachers out there. Consider this graph from the CATO Institute comparing enrollment numbers with teacher hiring over the last few decades:

The reason kids aren't doing well in science and math has nothing to do with either spending or a lack of teachers. It has to do with educational philosophy more interested in producing politically correct students filled with multicultural ideals than education and a culture which teaches kids that studying is lame and that science and math suck. A cultural shift has to take place to fix this, not a governmental or hiring fix. No amount of money thrown at this will deal with the problem.

In the 1970s, "the pill" was touted as the ultimate tool of liberation, allowing women to have as much sex as they wanted without consequence. And hey, if you managed to get pregnant anyway, you could always just kill the baby after Roe v Wade. Yet nobody really spent a lot of time looking closely at what taking this drug year after year actually had on people. Now doctors suggest women take a break once in a while, regularly going off the pill so that they can rest their bodies. Craig H. Kinsley and Elizabeth A. Meyer at Scientific American has an article out about another consideration: oral contraceptives appear to affect brain chemistry and structure in women.
It is a huge experiment whose resolution will not be known for a while, but a new study in the journal Brain Research demonstrates that the effects are likely to be dramatic. It found that birth control pills have structural effects on regions of the brain that govern higher-order cognitive activities, suggesting that a woman on birth control pills may literally not be herself -- or is herself, on steroids.
...naturally cycling women showed an increase in gray matter volume in the right fusiform/parahippocampal gyrus when circulating levels of estrogen and progesterone were low versus the phase when levels of these hormones were both high.
At present these changes appear to be somewhat benign but studies are ongoing. And keep in mind Kinsey is not a name associated with quality, scientifically rigorous study.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wants there to be more people interested in the military than just red staters. He is calling for universities and colleges to have more ROTC courses instead of banning them and chasing them off campus according to a New York Times article by Elizabeth Bumiller:
Even after Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Gates said, “in the absence of a draft, for a growing number of Americans, service in the military, no matter how laudable, has become something for other people to do.”

The defense secretary said that military recruits came increasingly from the South, the mountain West and small towns, and less often from the Northeast, West Coast and big cities. The military’s own basing decisions have reinforced the trend, he said, with a significant percentage of Army posts moved in recent years to just five states: Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas and Washington.
He's missing something here though. Its not like college students are ignorant of the military or people in blue states don't know about the war on terror. Its that they don't like the military and want nothing to do with discipline, honor, and duty of military service. Red staters tend to have a different view of these topics and serving their country, and that's why they go. I don't think ROTC in schools is such a bad idea, its just not the solution to what he sees as a problem.

Powerline has a graph you might want to look at:

Federal Outlays
What this shows is a comparison between federal spending and median household income. The left-right is household income, with left being less and right being more. The up-down shows federal spending compared to that income. As you can see in the 90s it spiked up, then came down as the GOP congress forced a balanced budget on President Clinton. Then it went up again when President Bush was elected, and then in 2007 when the Democratic Party took office exploded. From 2007 until now, the line doesn't go straight up, it goes up and back as household income starts to recede and government spending launches like a shuttle into space. But hey, lets not go back to the spending policies of the naughties.

San Francisco is working on a ban on all toys that come with foods they have deemed not healthy. That means happy meal toys for McDonalds. A compromise version is being discussed now which allows the toys if a certain type of food is present:
For example, the proposal now requires that meals that come with a toy contain a half-cup of fruit and three-quarters of a cup of vegetables. The vegetable requirement may be eliminated from breakfast offerings. The amount of vegetables also may be reduced.
Gavin Newsome is kind of a fool, but he's right on this when he says "dictating what plastic toys can be put in a cardboard box is not the right way to achieve" the goal of getting kids to eat better. Its unusual when you find a leftist who admits that government rules aren't the solution to a problem.

Rahm Emmanuel is a jerk and a radical partisan, but he's been a driving force behind the Obama white house for almost two years. Now he's leaving to try to become the mayor of Chicago. Well, its their city. If they elect this man, they deserve him.

Seattle has some of the worst traffic in America. Instead of new roads, wider streets, better lanes and so on, their solution is to continually fight to try to get people to drive less, which has resulted in even worse traffic. The newest scheme is "bike boxes" which is a zone at all stops which allows bicyclists to move up in front of traffic. This has three effects: it slows drivers who have to wait for bicyclists to get moving in front of them; it prevents any right turn on red lights which is legal in Washington (and Oregon), and it will likely result in more bicycles being hit by cars. What it won't do is get more people out riding bikes, reduce congestion and pollution, or help with stress levels and road rage. People like to drive, cars represent freedom, power, and flexibility.

Bicycles are nice, but in a city with more hills than San Francisco (steeper ones, too), crappier weather, and more urban sprawl around lake Washington, bicycles just aren't practical. Strangely, Seattle has lots of bicyclists anyway. There's an organization up there which actually takes one Saturday a month and takes over streets, deliberately blocking off all traffic and stopping it with swarms of bikes. People have been run over doing this.

More northwest news: Oregon's consumer price index (CPI) has dropped; things are actually getting cheaper (in some areas, food isn't). Prices are actually as low as in 2008 at this point, on average. State law requires that the minimum wage increase based on the CPI, but even though its going down, minimum wage is going up 10 cents an hour next year, to $8.50 an hour. Washington State has a law which requires its minimum wage to be the highest in the nation, if it goes up anywhere over theirs, well then Washington raises it too.

According to Matt Cover at CNS News, the federal government is funding a study over the next year. Costing over $250,000 the National Institutues Health (NIH, no relation to NIMh) is studying habits of gay men and it requires 100 of them as young as 16 years old to fill out and keep a web diary of their sexual activities.
“The study's second aim is to assess the feasibility of using web-based sex diaries to collect sexual behavior data and to identify the appropriate diary schedule. MSM [men who have sex with men] will be randomly assigned diary schedules and we will compare the frequency of reported behaviors across diary schedules and against the retrospective questionnaire data,” the grant abstract states.
Whatever value this might have seems like it could be found with private funding, since the US Constitution in no way remotely hints at allowing the federal government to spend money in this manner.

The EPA is at it again. Not content to demolish agriculture, they're looking at business. New rules being considered by the Environmental Protection Agency would require businesses to update and replace boilers and heaters to "maximum achievable control technology" to clean up the air. Senator Inhofe points out that to do so would cost hundreds of millions of dollars and eliminate up to 800,000 jobs at a time when unemployment is already almost 10% across the nation (officially). The EPA claims this will save lives, and so would banning the automobile. If this is such an important thing to do, the smart thing to do would be to phase it in slowly so you don't destroy jobs and the economy in the process.

President Obama had a campaign rally at the University of Madison-Wisconsin recently, and lots of students showed up. Among his biggest fans, however, there's a problem according to Clay Barbour, Mary Spicuzza and Deborah Ziff at the Wisconsin State Journal:
Emily Lawless, a UW-Madison junior from Lakeville, Minn., waited in line five and a half hours for the chance to see the president live.

"You're not going to remember your accounting class when you're 40, but you'll definitely remember this," she said.

Enthusiastic, but will they vote?

But the thrill of seeing the president doesn't necessarily translate into supporting Democratic candidates during a midterm election. Even Lawless admitted she would likely not vote. "It's too much work with the absentee ballot," she said.
I remember well the "Obama Girl" campaigning for him, then forgetting even where or when she was to vote in the primaries.

Among the various activities by Iranian lunatic thug dictator Ahmadinejad when he visited New York for his annual UN speech was a visit to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Being a fellow lunatic, they doubtless had much to discuss, although Shiite Muslims (which Ahmadenijad is) consider Nation of Islam to be a heretical sect. They do tend to see eye to eye on white Americans and Jews, however.

Meanwhile, New Black Panthers leader King Shamir Shabazz claims that whites troll for Alligators using black babies as bait. Actually, its the white left in that's slaughtering black babies, since every day over 1600 abortions are of black babies in America.

Not to be outdone, NAACP leader Ben Jealous declared America to be just like the eve before Kristallnacht. Why? Because the tea party is so popular, successful and politically powerful. Because Democrats might lose big in November. And because anyone who opposes the Reid-Pelosi-Obama hard left agenda is a Nazi. As Jim Hoft points out at Gateway Pundit (with video) he said this at the pulpit of a black church. For decades now, the left's biggest weapon in black communities has been a direct pipeline of leftist cant and paranoia spewed from black pulpits rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I really tried hard not to laugh when I read this, particularly since the man involved seems to be a really decent fellow, but I couldn't help it. The owner of the Segway company drove an experimental offroad version of the two wheeled dorkmobile off a cliff and died. My condolences to his family but... irony sometimes hits your funny bone.

Attempting to counter the momentum of the Tea Party movement in America, leftist groups are holding several rallies at Washington DC which will no doubt be as heavily overcounted as the Glenn Beck rally was undercounted. To get as many people there as possible, they're offering free bus rides to the location, courtesy union dues at the AFL-CIO. How this conceivably helps their members have better working conditions and pay is beyond me, but that's how unions work these days. As Kristinn Taylor and Andrea Shea King note at Big Government, the left screams astroturf to this day at the Tea Party, then turns around and shows how its done every time they have a rally.

Democrats have 20 bills they want to ram through congress after the November elections when they are facing at least a greatly diminished majority in both houses of congress. Some of the bills seem reasonable (cuts to pay for the "doc fix" for medicare, tax cuts for college students), and some are just leftist nonsense (DREAM act, stiffer renewable electricity standards). Conspicuously missing: a budget and stopping the vast tax increase due next year. Given how slowly things go through congress only two or three of these have any real chance of getting anywhere. But the dinosaur leftist leadership of congress is determined to do as much damage as possible before they're hurled from power.

Harper Collins has started up a new conservative book imprint for their publishing house. Apparently they noticed that of the top ten best selling non fiction books of last year, four were conservative books, including the top two. Other publishers are doing the same thing such as Penguin, Random House, Sandimon & Schuster. Son of novelist Saul Bellow, Adam Bellow heads up the new Broadside books publishing imprint, and he points out something that has eluded the almost exclusively leftist publishing industry for decades:
“There’s no reason why almost any publishing genre that we have can’t be approached from a conservative angle,” he said. “I hesitate to define it too narrowly. We’re on the cusp of an explosion of intellectual activity on the right, and I don’t want to limit the kind of submissions I receive.”
Maybe I should target them with my books.

Britain opened up the world's largest wind farm off the coast of Kent to much applause and fanfare. However, as Christopher Booker points out in the Telegraph:
Over the coming years we will be giving the wind farm's Swedish owners a total of £1.2 billion in subsidies. That same sum, invested now in a single nuclear power station, could yield a staggering 13 times more electricity, with much greater reliability.
And it would be just as "green" without mincing up any sea birds. On an average day, the wind farm will produce enough power to keep just over 100,000 homes lit, from all 100 turbines. Oh, its supposed to create "green" jobs for the state, but that's not exactly working either:
A final claim for the Thanet wind farm (which Mr Huhne boasts is "only the beginning") is that it will create "green jobs" – although the developers say that only 21 of these will be permanent. These are thus costing, in "green subsidies" alone, £3 million per job per year, or £57 million for each job over the next 20 years. The Government gaily prattles about how it wants to create "400,000 green jobs", which on this basis would eventually cost us £22.8 trillion, or 17 times the entire annual output of the UK economy.
Green economics = blood red losses, every time. But they are saving the planet!!!

And that's the Word Around the Net, October 1, 2010

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