Friday, February 25, 2011

WORD AROUND THE NET

"Those of us in the private sector don't have to worry about our jobs annually like teachers do. We have to worry about them daily."

Pooh Movie
New Zealand was rocked by a 6.3 earthquake, centered on the port town of Lyttleton. The quake was close to the surface and has caused widespread devestation, particularly as it was so close to Christchurch, the capitol and largest city in New Zealand. Power outages, collapsed buildings, massive waves, and more have resulted in thousands without homes at least 65 deaths. World relief efforts are already underway. In the midst of our political struggles, every once in a while God reminds us that there are more important things to consider.

The same legislator who wants to ban children in trailers behind bicycles in Oregon has other ideas as well. For example, he offers up House Bill 2233 which would outlaw cigarettes and cigars unless a doctor prescribes them (and levies a $6,000 fine and a year in jail for possessing an illegal cigar). House Bill 2644 would put a sin tax on soda pop to help pay for health care costs that drinking them allegedly incur. Representative Greenlick, the author of these bills, is a Democrat from Portland, Oregon, something the article linked fails to note.

Seattle's public school system set up a fund to encourage minorities and women compete for government contracts (how that has anything to do with education is anybody's guess). The program was run by Silas Potter, who has resigned because of an investigation into the fund. It turns out that this fellow was directing funds to friends who didn't even provide the services they contracted for, costing the city $1.8 million dollars.

Treasury Secretary Geithner admitted to the Senate Budgetary Committee recently that the budget President Obama submitted to congress was "unsustainable." Here's the exchange with Senator Sessions (R-AL):
Let's talk about our interest situation under your budget. The interest increases every year. It was $187 billion in 2009. Under your proposal, the interest increases to $844 billion. And would you not agree that that's a stunning figure, perhaps the fastest growing item in the budget? And all of that is a direct result of the debt we're running up, and only a modest expectation of interest rate increases."

GEITHNER: Senator, absolutely. It is an excessively high interest burden. It's unsustainable.
Sessions characterized the budget as "a plan not for 'winning the future,' but losing the future."

Disney is working on another Winnie The Pooh animated feature, but this one is back to Christopher Robin the boy rather than Darby the girl, who apparently has been ret-conned out of the entire continuity as an apparent mistake. This will be the first full motion picture release of a Winnie The Pooh story in 33 years rather than a straight-to-video computer animation special, and it features background art very reminiscent of the original E.E. Milne illustrations (although the character art is all strictly Disney). A bit of trivia: "Winnie Ther Pooh" is actually a nickname, his actual name is Edward Bear (and, according to the book, he's supposed to have a gruff voice, being a bear and all).

One of the favorite leftist talking points when taxes come up is to cry "Clinton raised taxes and we got a surplus!" Putting aside how the budget which resulted in these surpluses was forced upon Clinton by the Republican-controlled congress after multiple attempts, Dan Mitchell has a fact- and chart- filled post at Big Government explaining how it was not the tax increases which resulted in better government revenues at all. It was, he shows, the tech bubble, the balanced budget, and significantly less spending compared to tax revenues that did it. I'd suggest that before anyone calls for Clinton-era taxes, we dial back the federal government to Clinton-era spending, at the very least.

While the legacy media is gleefully emphasizing and replaying the prank phone call by scumbag journalist Ian Murphy, they seem to have almost totally ignored a congressman calling for bloody conflict by union workers, as Scott Whitlock points out at Newsbusters. I'm sure it was a harmless oversight.

President Obama has directed his Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court cases. Effectively this means the United States government has decided to stop enforcing a federal law, because as Attorney General Holder puts it:
As described more fully below, the President and I have concluded that classifications based on sexual orientation warrant heightened scrutiny and that, as applied to same-sex couples legally married under state law, Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional.
Personally I think the DOMA is questionable constitutionally, and if the executive department has a valid, good faith conviction that a law is unconstitutional, then they have a duty to not enforce it as part of the concept of checks and balances. Others disagree with my idea of Republicanism here, though and I think they make good arguments.

Providence, Rhode Island has fired every single teacher in the school district. The theory is that their contract was unsustainable, that there are too many poor teachers, and that this allows rehiring with pay and benefits that are more reasonable while winnowing out teachers who don't do the job well, which the union previously had made very challenging, to say the least. Like most states, Rhode Island is heavily in debt, and the school district is $40 million in the red.

*UPDATE: From Right Wing News we get this sadly predictable story. Three months ago, the "Eco-Ark Classroom" was opened in northern London. It was specially designed to capture solar energy and run on renewable resources, it was cutting edge "green" technology which was to show the way to the future, built of renwable, recycled, and "sustainable" materials. And it was just shut down. Why? The solar panels can only run a few lights, and the room is freezing cold. If only Al Gore had been right and it was going to get warmer, maybe this would have worked. Charlotte Linacre, Campaign Manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, quipped "All this will teach kids is how poorly planned and costly local authorities projects can be." That and how lacking and incompetent the "green industry" concept is.

And that's the Word Around the Net for February 25, 2011.

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