Friday, March 25, 2011


"Only government can take perfectly good paper, cover it with perfectly good ink and make the combination worthless."
-Milton Friedman

*UPDATE: Canada's government has folded. That's not nearly as catastrophic as it sounds, this is not uncommon for parliamentary systems. What it means is that the parliament has voted no confidence in the sitting government and a new election has to be held. Chip Cummins and Nirmala Menon report in the Wall Street Journal:
Canada's opposition parties toppled the ruling Conservative minority government on Friday in a historic parliamentary finding of contempt, which doubled as a vote of no confidence and set the stage for the country's fourth national election in seven years.
The no-confidence vote, 156 to 145 along party lines, packed the galleries of the House of Commons. It is the first defeat of a Canadian government since 2005 and only the sixth in the nation's history. It is also the first time in Canadian history that a government has been voted in contempt of Parliament.
It appears that the left-leaning parliament is upset with the right-leaning prime minister's government because they claim ethical lapses and withholding information in a vote from parliament. It sounds pretty mild from here, but I can't find much information other than the WSJ article at present.

Unemployment in Oregon is still over 10%, and new unemployment claims rose the last quarter, even as the overall number in America dropped. The Associated Press reports:
Oregon had one of the highest increases in initial claims, up by nearly 600, in the week ended March 12, the department said. That was third highest behind North Carolina and Florida.
This is why it doesn't feel much like a recovery to most people; some areas may be doing well - primarily government jobs - but the rest of us are having real economic difficulty.

Many have pointed out that in this latest recession, men lost far more jobs and were far harder hit than women, prompting the name "mancession." Well, jobs are coming back in some places, and men are doing a little better in the job market, but they're still in terrible shape. At Carpe Diem, Mark Perry points out:
1. Male employment is down by 4,932,000 jobs since the January 2008 peak, compared to female employment being 2.549 million jobs below the peak. Therefore, we can say that for every 100 jobs lost by women since the start of the recession, men have lost 193.5 jobs.

2. On a percentage basis, men have suffered about 66% of the recession-related job losses, and women only 34%.
Feminists and academic leftists call this "justice."

Florida is the number three worst state in the union for unemployment, even worse than Michigan (Nevada and California are ahead of it). Making matters worse for the state is that according to the US Census Bureau, 18% of the houses in the state are vacant.

Traumatized, a woman in Seattle called 9-11. Her story was one fraught with horror and confusion, reported by Casey McNerthney at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
The incident occurred about 4:40 p.m. in the 100 block of Northeast 125th Street. The woman told police said she came across three men in their 20s throwing the Frisbee in a triangle, and that they were throwing the disc across a street.

She stopped and made eye contact with one of the men. That man -- described as having a "round face and wearing a white bandanna" -- then threw the disc directly at the woman, she claimed.

The men all laughed. The woman who called 911 said "the hit caused pain and a bruise to her right thigh," according to a police incident report.

The woman said she was going to let the issue go, but it appears it became more serious. The men in a black Subaru reportedly drove by the woman's residence when she was in the front yard and one acted as through he was going to throw a Frisbee again.
Youths gone wild! Those ruffians probably listen to Elvis.

Following President Obama's "America must never show any leadership in the world" policy, Canada is in charge of the NATO troops in Libya. Lets hope this general can come up with some kind of plan, or at least is very patient with political leaders who have none.

President Obama is not particularly popular with Muslims these days, almost as if they don't like the US for reasons other than us being mean to them in the past or having a "cowboy" president. I'm pretty sure that's why President Obama recently issued this outrageously egotistical-sounding statement:
And as time passes, you start taking it for granted that a guy named Barack Hussein Obama is president of the United States,but we should never take it for granted.
He only mentions his middle name in the middle east or talking to Arabs and Muslims. Otherwise its kept locked away as secret as his college transcripts and full birth certificate.

Palestinians set off a bomb in a public area, killing a woman and wounding 30 others waiting for a bus. This was a political act designed to strike fear in the hearts of other civilians, hoping to change policy and public behavior. The Reuters report declared:
Police said it was a "terrorist attack" -- Israel's term for a Palestinian strike.
Now, its one thing to try to maintain a neutral tone and not presume anything in an article, but this goes overboard the other direction. They're deliberately taking the side of the palestinians and rejecting a plain and obvious example of terrorism and claiming only a dirty Jooo would call it such. You don't often see such an egregious example of bias.

Unsatisfied with that whopper, Reuters recently laid down another egg, about President Bush and the invasion of Iraq:
Obama is committed to partnering with other countries rather than going it alone as did his predecessor George W. Bush, which both broadens and complicates the decision-making process.
This is not just mistaken but a total fabrication, as President Bush had more than twice as many allies and just as much UN support in his invasion of Iraq as President Obama has in his attack on Libyan forces. What, exactly, they're trying to pull here isn't clear, unless its a desperate attempt to make President Obama look less like President Bush with a tan.

Washington county commissioner Sandra Romero (Democrat) has a new idea to help with the local agri-tourism business (u-pick farms, christmas trees, etc): limit the number of customers a store can have.
This ordinance will place a cap on the number of customers allowed per day. Depending on the kind of business, your customer range will be limited to 20-39 customers per day.
This ordinance is a copy of one in place in Mariposa county California. How, precisely, this is supposed to actually help these businesses is a bit puzzling to me; maybe they think that if there are fewer per day, the seasonal surges will be extended? But if 100 people buy all at once or over 5 days, its still just 100 customers.

The Oxford English Dictionary is the unofficial but effective authority on the English language. Each year they examine words being used, removing (or marking as archaic) old words no longer in common use, and adding new ones in. This year they added the acronyms LOL and OMG. This either is a sign that the OED is slouching in quality or our language as a whole is. Perhaps both. Also added was the symbol ♥ which became popularized decades ago with the I ♥ New York ad campaign.

Following the pattern of Iran, as feared by many on the right, Egypt appears to be moving toward an Islamic dictatorship under the Muslim Brotherhood. As the only really organized opposition party to Mubarak, now that he's gone, they are moving up in power. The Egyptian army which now is controlling the government is largely Muslim, which only helps the Muslim Brotherhood's goals.

Uncovered by the press during the popular revolt against Mubarak was the plight of women. Some of the women who stood up and called for liberty and justice were arrested by the Egyptian police, according to Amnesty International. The Daily Mail reports:
Salwa Hosseini, 20, said she had been arrested and taken to a military prison in Heikstep where she was forced to strip and then searched by a female guard.

She told the charity a number of male soldiers were watching through two open doors and a window and it was at that point they took photographs.

Miss Hosseini then went on to describe 'virginity tests' being carried out by a man in a white coat.
Meanwhile Rasha Azeb, a female journalist who arrested in Tahrir Square at the same time, claims that she was handcuffed and beaten by security forces.

She described being taken to a building within the Cairo Musuem complex where she could witnessed other women being tortured with electric shocks to the chest and legs.
The spokesman also said that one woman who told the military she was a virgin and then failed the 'test' was beaten and given electric shocks.
Don't expect NOW and the usual feminist suspects to rally around these women any time soon.

This is a bit unfair, as I know virtually nothing about this woman other than she deliberately put off ruling on something so she could go on vacation, but it cracks me up:

Judge SumiDolores Umbridge
Judge Maryann SumiDolores Umbridge

That's courtesy Piece of Work in Progress.

Electric cars are like cigarettes, governments keep telling people to stop smoking, but tax cigarettes outrageously and depend on the revenue. Governments tax gasoline allegedly to pay for road maintainance, but push for people to buy electric cars. In both cases, the official policy is in direct contradiction to the revenue flow, but states are working out a way around that problem with electric cars. Eric Loveday reports at Autoblog:
Instead of taxing fuel to finance road infrastructure, a VMT tax system charges motorists based on their "road consumption," as measured by total miles traveled. VMT could be implemented via the use of GPS units, which records distance traveled and charges motorist accordingly.
How does this deal with the problem? Because if you pay for mileage rather than gas, it doesn't matter what you use to get around with, be it electrical, gasoline, or nuclear. Washington, Oregon, and surprisingly Texas are looking at this tax scheme. Just don't expect that "instead" to actually mean "removing gas taxes."

Following Ronald Reagan's trickle down theory is England's George Osborn who is proposing a reduction in gas taxes (called petrol duty). Why? Rosa Prince in the Telegraph reports:
George Osborne has announced a surprise cut in fuel duty in a Budget statement designed to help families and deliver growth and jobs.

The Chancellor told the House of Commons that he had “put fuel into the tank of the British economy” as he announced that petrol duty would be reduced by 1p a litre from 6pm this evening.

In a move designed to help drivers suffering from record petrol prices, he cancelled a 1p rise in duty scheduled by the last Labour government for next week, and announced a "Fair Fuel Stabiliser" to keep costs down.
However, there's a catch: they're raising fees on the fuel producers, which will pass the price down to the customers... you get the picture. They don't quite have this trickle down thing worked out yet, but its a start.

General Electric paid no federal taxes last year. Zero. They did it with a variety of tax dodges, investments, rebates, subsidies, and schemes, many of which they lobbied and pressured legislators and regulators to adapt. In fact, GE got a tax refund of over 3 billion dollars because of all these tricks. Flat tax, anyone? The simpler the scheme, the less likely people can get out of it, but then... the less people can use taxes to engineer behavior and economic activity.

Speaking of taxes, the Tax Prof Blog points out that of the top industrialized and richest nations on earth, the US relies on its rich the most for tax revenue. Its not that the tax rate is necessarily highest, its that the nation is so rich that the rich pay the greatest bulk of taxes. As I've noted before, the top 1% richest people in America pay more in total taxes than the bottom 90% combined, almost 40% of the total tax burden.

You may have seen this elsewhere but it still makes me chuckle. Newspapers typically will write up obituaries of famous and elderly or very ill people in advance of their death, speeding their insertion into any edition needed when they finally shuffle off this mortal coil. The New York Times held their Elizabeth Taylor obituary so long that the guy who wrote it died before she did.

Pawn Stars is a sort of guilty pleasure for me on television. I feel bad for how much they tend to rip off people coming in to pawn things, particularly as almost all of them are getting gambling money or trying to pay gambling debts. Most of them would probably get more off E-Bay or Craig's List, but they seem to be in a hurry. The main guys on the show are likable enough, particularly the main character Rick Harrison, but apparently Corey "Big Hoss" Harrison isn't always nice off camera. He was arrested for brawling in a California resort barroom:
San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Arden Wiltshire says the 27-year-old Las Vegas man shoved a deputy and security guard late Sunday at Murray's Saloon and Eatery in Big Bear Lake, which is about 80 miles northeast of Los Angeles.
From what I've seen of the show, they don't seem to get a lot of time off, maybe he was stressed.

Centralville, Massachusetts is in mourning. It seems that a cruel and heartless government is threatening a program from the Housing and Urban Development called Community Development Block Grants. This paid for facelifts and beautification projects for businesses, and the cruel government is looking to cut the program. How much did it pay for these projects? All of them. In truth President Obama's budget cuts include reductions in this program, the horror. Obama's budget cuts are a hair on the back of a Mastodon, but even that is being attacked as too deep by some.

Journalist Lee Strahan is ripping up his cocktail party invites by reporting news accurately. He's several times now shown how the left is either incompetent or deliberate in misrepresenting the political right in America. Apparently he first realized this when he was shown by Andrew Breitbart how totally the charges of Tea Partiers yelling "nigger" at Congressional Black Caucus members was a fiction. Since then he's nailed the left several times, from Crooks & Liars to Talking Points Memo. Strahan is a leftist, but he's been mugged pretty hard by reality.

Despite hysterical insistence of the left, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg really were guilty of espionage and really did leak nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union in one of the worst cases of treason the US has ever suffered. To put a nail in the coffin of the left's hopes, co-conspirator Morton Sobell recently admitted that the case against them was all true. No doubt there's a "deeper truth" that somehow negates these facts, to the academic left.

Green jobs have not just proven to be a failure, but according to a recent study are actually destructive to jobs and the economy overall:
A study just released by Cascade Policy Institute & Beacon Hill predicts that the effect of renewable energy policies in Oregon is a net loss of tens of thousands of jobs. With increasing fossil fuel prices, Oregon has turned to green energy to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and our carbon footprint. That effort comes with a price. “Just a few years ago, 1 in 20 Oregonians couldn’t pay their electric bills and had their electricity shut off. We will continue to see this rate increase as more renewable energy is forced onto the grid,” says Todd Wynn of Cascade Policy Institute.
Millions of dollars have been pumped into this "industry" without any sign of growth or economic benefit. "Green economy" is the underpants gnome version of real economics.

Every time the Congressional Budget Office looks closer at President Obama's budget and schemes, they find more ... misstatements, shall we say. Powerline reports that the CBO has found almost 3 trillion dollars more deficit in President Obama's budget than he claims. That's $3,000,000,000,000 that fell through the cracks. Keith Hennessy believes he's found where President Obama intended to make up the difference: a raise in gas taxes by 25 cents a gallon, for starters.

Donald Trump is an ethically challenged opportunist, but he does have one thing right, I believe. I think president Obama was born in the US, but I can't help but agree with Trump when he says "there’s something on that birth certificate that he doesn’t like." Whoopi Goldberg insisted that its because he's black that people want to see Obama's birth certificate, but then John McCain had to show his during the election and he looks pretty white to me.

And finally, when it comes to higher education, only 3% of the public thinks that Ivy League colleges and universities produce better workers according to a recent poll. Fine, you might say, they only take the top 1% for admissions anyway, supposedly (not actually true due to affirmative action quotas), so not many will understand their greatness, right? Except more than 3% of the population do the hiring, and the reputation of being great drives peoples' perception of Ivy League graduates. If hardly anyone thinks you come out being much of a worker, that's not going to help these universities at a time when higher education is having problems enough already.

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

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