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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Friday, May 20, 2011

WORD AROUND THE NET

"In our society, we have this weird idea that just by making a law or a certification that it makes something so."

"Gutsy," that's one of the terms the left and the legacy media threw around a lot when Osama Bin Laden's death was announced. It was a gutsy call to send Seal Team 6 in, they said. The Obama team agreed; they created the website Gutsycall.com which is a reelection campaign site for President Obama. Most folks shrug at that, because even if it was particularly gutsy rather than the obvious call, its pretty much the only gutsy thing the president has done in his life, and the job requires making tough calls.

As it turns out, polling is pretty evenly divided on whether it was all that gutsy, with Republicans and Democrats cancelling each other out. Independents tend to side with the GOP polling, saying it wasn't very gutsy at a clip of 52-43. President Obama didn't win very big over Senator McCain in 2008, and he was running against a man even his own party didn't like, in an election season where Republicans were despised, riding a tide of celebrity acclaim and supported by an absurdly sycophantic press. This time around, he might have the press, but the rest is gone. He needs those independents.

Fair Trade tends to be fairly popular here in the Northwest, with shops dedicated to the idea, selling the same stuff you can get anywhere else for significantly less. The theory behind "fair trade" is that you pay extra to help developing countries and their businesses while an organization called the Fair Labor Organizations International allegedly certifies the goods as having been produced with fairer social and environmental standards. Basically people pay extra for goods so they can feel that they've contributed to leftist causes.

Mugowitz at Kids Prefer Cheese has a post up about why this doesn't work. The problem with this scheme is that most of the countries being benefited by this system are heavy on graft, light on law enforcement, and usually run by tyrants. Most, according to a recent German study don't bother with certification, and just label their goods anyway. The farmers rarely get more than their fellow workers who produce just ordinary coffee, with the rest skimmed off by handlers and government. Economists have a word for this, its called "rent seeking" where you attempt to artificially create a higher market value for your product.

Brittanie Wagner was out driving in Florida one day, when she hit a man. Fleeing the scene to avoid police and complications, she was pulled over and arrested. Here's where it gets really wierd, according to the Smoking Gun:
Wagner told investigators that she initially thought she hit “an animal or a garbage can” while driving along a Bradenton street around 1 AM. But when her passenger said that a person was actually struck, Wagner arrived at an unfortunate realization.

“Oh my God I hit my Dad,” Wagner exclaimed to her friend.

Wagner, pictured in the mug shot at right, told cops that she came to that conclusion “not because she recognized him but because she knows he always walks on that particular roadway.”
Her problem: she wasn't wearing her glasses, probably because she was going out clubbing with friends and didn't want to look nerdy. Thankfully, according to the police report, her dad's injuries were not life-threatening.

Waivers. This is how you can get out of doing something you have to do by law or contract, a waiver is like a "get out of jail free" card. The Obama administration is handing them out like candy to different groups and people, mostly unions so far, although entire states have got them -- Nevada and Maine, so far. Apparently Harry Reid's repeated argument that the Government Health Insurance Takeover Act was absolutely necessary doesn't apply to his state.

So far, almost 1400 waivers have been granted to various organizations, and people are starting to wonder who does and does not get approval and why. How many congressmen have intervened to get waivers for various donors and friends? The Department of Health and Human Services who is in charge of this isn't releasing any data. As Michelle Malkin points out, nursing homes are lobbying hard to get out of the system too, which doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the government's scheme.

But that's not all. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has managed to get more than thirty different businesses in her district waivers as well. The former speaker of the house insisted that the health insurance bill be passed unread and fought hard for everyone to be put under this bill, then fought to get her district protected. 20% of the waivers granted in April were for Nancy Pelosi's district.

Medicare is going bankrupt, largely because the boomers are aging and retiring and they are demanding to be covered just like dear old dad. Yual Levin at National Review Online points out that the whole thing is due to collapse five years sooner than the trustees beleived last year, and that Democrats ramming through the Government Health Insurance Takeover Act sent out reports of financial impact that were based on ridiculous presumptions:
While the Part B projections in this report are reasonable in their portrayal of future costs under current law, they are not reasonable as an indication of actual future costs. Current law would require a physician fee reduction of an estimated 29.4 percent on January 1, 2012—an implausible expectation.
Then the report goes on to point out that the health insurance legislation will effectively destroy Medicare without replacing it with enough to cover people:
By the end of the long-range projection period, Medicare prices for hospital, skilled nursing facility, home health, hospice, ambulatory surgical center, diagnostic laboratory, and many other services would be less than half of their level under the prior law
...
For these reasons, the financial projections shown in this report for Medicare do not represent a reasonable expectation for actual program operations in either the short range (as a result of the unsustainable reductions in physician payment rates) or the long range (because of the strong likelihood that the statutory reductions in price updates for most categories of Medicare provider services will not be viable).
Add to that all the waivers being granted to let entire states at a time ignore the Health Insurance Takeover Act, and you've got a recipe for disaster. But it had to be passed immediately, without being read.

Oh, by the way, that health insurance bill raises taxes in 21 ways. One of them has been overturned in congress already, a set of absurdly burdening regulations requring paperwork filed for every single purchase any business made over $600. What that has to do with health care is anybody's guess. 20 taxes or cost increases remain, and Americans for Tax Reform has the rundown.

Australia started up a broadband internet service meant to be the government-run ISP for Australia, like the Australian Broadcast Network is the official television station, etc. NBN Co has a board of 784 on its staff, which at this time outnumbers the customers, which are just over 600. Its almost as if Australians who want internet have their ISP and it works fine. NBN has so far cost $36,000,000,000 Australian.

Thomas Mifflin Elementary School in Philadelphia is in a predominantly Black neighborhood and as a result most of the kids attending are dusky in hue. Its principal Charles Ray III left after just one year, and the school board won't say why, but a recent lawsuit might have something to do with it. The Daily Mail reports:
Patricia Heenan, lawyer for the four teachers, said: 'These four teachers were systematically harassed over the entire academic year and intimidated and openly told they couldn't teach African American students.'

'What they really want is to make sure that nothing like this happens again.'

The key complaint in the lawsuit is that Ray forced the four teachers, as part of required professional development, to read an article that said 'white teachers do not have the ability to teach African American students'.

Ray is also accused of treating the white teachers differently to the black teachers in an 'atmosphere of distrust and favoritism', where he undermined white teachers by 'openly reprimanding them in front of staff, students and parents.'

The quartet also allege that Ray allowed one of the school's leading black teachers, Shirl A. Ishmael, access to the personal files of white teachers, which included their home addresses.

Furthermore, the lawsuit claims Ray hired someone to 'intimidate' and 'harass,' the white teaching staff in an attempt to force them to move to other schools. Heenan said 'people were engaged in spying on them.'
If these allegations are true, the man was a bigot, and it probably wasn't helping the school any. Usually Black-on-White bigotry is given a pass, so this guy must have been really bad.

Also at the Daily Mail is a study by Japanese psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa which alleges that scientifically, black women are less attractive than whites or asians. The study was a survey of various men from different ethnic groups told to rate pictures of various women. Asian women scored the highest in perception of beauty. This study was met with no small amount of controversy, and since the doctor has not revealed his methodology or data, its questionable. However one line stood out in the report by Kate Loveys and Colin Fernandez that I had to comment on:
Nor does he explore the fact that the research on which he bases his conclusion was conducted in America where European ideals of beauty dominate.
Yet somehow Asians won. Was that Satoshi's bias, or are Asian women just really hot? If the reasons for the low scores on blacks was American bigotry and preference for European women, why did Asians score higher than Whites?

Washington DC is investigating security breaches. The No Child Left Behind act which Ted Kennedy helped write, then immediately started attacking, requires regular testing of students to see how well they're learning at various schools. As a result, some schools cheat, and it appears that this happened in DC. Lisa Gartner writes at the Washington Examiner:
Amid heightened scrutiny of the chronically troubled school system's large testing gains, the Office of the State Superintendent ordered an investigation into 18 classrooms with a suspicious number of incorrect answers erased and corrected in the 2010 testing.

While eight schools were charters, 10 belonged to D.C. Public Schools -- as did all three of the tossed-out testing rooms.

"Two classrooms had possible testing irregularities and one classroom had a confirmed case of testing impropriety," said Safiya Simmons, a spokeswoman for acting Chancellor Kaya Henderson.
Apparently they don't suspect anything by the students, who have nothing to gain from cheating on these exams. Teachers and school administrators, however, do.

Airplanes are very careful about weight, as every ounce increase the fuel consumption and planes can only lift so much weight off the ground. And airplane seats back in coach are not just uncomfortable, but small; I barely fit in one at 6'3 and 200 lbs. Really heavy people simply don't fit in one seat, which makes it pretty uncomfortable for people sitting next to them. Apparently Southwest Airlines told a woman and her mom that they had to buy 2 seats each to fly. Unfortunately for Southwest, this woman is a political strategist, which means she's not just cantankerous, but has media access. The woman claims to have lost weight down to 268 lbs, but her height is not listed in the news report.

Southwest's policy is "if a passenger cannot fit in a seat with the armrests down, a second seat must be purchased. If the flight is not full, that added charge will be refunded.” that seems reasonable, but its a bit of a judgement call. Given how cramped the seating is, it doesn't take much for someone to not fit in coach, but its not going to always be obvious from just a glance. Commenter sat the CBS site, by the way, were not sympathetic to this woman.

Wisconsin's Attorney General has released a list of documented threats against lawmakers since the whole "unions have to pay their way to save the state" fight began. There are over 100 pages of threats, from death threats slipped under doors to prayers for anvils to fall out of the sky. Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit has the details. Most are being passed by in terms of legal action but there are a dozen cases underway. Public Employee Unions and Democrats view this as a fight for their life. Everyone else views it as a fight for the life of the state and the pocketbooks of the rest of the workers in Wisconsin.

Yeah, Arnie was caught fooling around with other women and had a kid with one. Like that's a shock, it seems like few politicians, actors, and people in power can control themselves. Schwarzenegger managed to find the one woman in the Kennedy clan who cared if her husband was an adulterous, philandering douchebag. Still, the reporting has been funny in some aspects. Take CNN, where Tuesday they ran a report on Schwarzenegger's antics every single hour except one. That hour coincidentally was the one anchored by philandering douchebag whore-buying Elliot Spitzer. Spitzer sure brings a sense of gravitas and integrity to the channel, doesn't he?

Although this doesn't really surprise any student of history, the Nomura Equity Research group reports that President Obama is making all the same mistakes in regard to the economy as FDR did during the depression. Nearly every economist on earth now agrees that FDR's efforts to help the economy actually extended the depression by years. In particular, as Doug Ross points out, Quantative Easing 2 was especially destructive.

Apparently the Centers for Disease Control released information on their website about how to survive a Zombie Apocalypse, and what steps the CDC would take to address the problem. No word yet if you can send for a pamphlet from Pueblo, Colorado. The website that caught this thinks that's neat. I think its a ridiculous waste of money and time on a frivolous joke by the government.

Portland Mayor Sam Adams is a gay man who preys on underage boys, as his past record shows. He lied about it quite a bit but one of his victims who was 17 at the time came out admitting what happened. This being Portland, nothing really came of it, as he's in a protected class and is sufficiently leftist. Adams has apparently been watching Seattle and wants to bring their bicycle problems down south. According to the Oregonian, Adams shifted discretionary funding away from streets and automobile projects to bicycle projects.

In fact, in the last two years, funding for automotive roadwork has plummeted, while bicycle and pedestrian spending has skyrocketed. Portland area residents are not amused, according to the Oregon Live website poll.

And its not like the roads in Portland are pothole-free. Seattle already has problems with swarms of bicyclists blocking off roads, hitting cars, and demanding to control the streets, while police are told to stand back and cycles preferred.

Meanwhile, according to a survey of 550 CEOs by Chief Executive magazine, Oregon is the 18th worst state for business (Texas being #1). The worst? California.

Ezra Klein, Journolista and 26 year old leftist, thinks that old people vote too much. He has a proposal to fix that problem, because younger people can be relied on to vote Democrat and old people can't.
Here’s your out-of-the-box policy idea for the day:
America should implement weighted voting to make voting more objective and fair, and give the young more power, because the consequences of political decisions will affect them the longest. Weighted voting would restore power to twenty and thirty year olds, where it resided before the advent of medical science. With the aid of computers, it would be easy to give everyone a Voting Score, just like we all have a credit score.
His justification is that, essentially, red states have more elderly who vote, while blue states have more younger people who don't so the red states are disproportionately represented, and that's -- you guessed it -- unfair. Hey, how about a "vote score" based on the taxes you pay? The real problem for Klein is that young people voted by a huge margin for Obama while elderly people did not.

President Bush was repeatedly accused of waging an illegal war after repeatedly getting congressional authorization for his military actions. He was tried as a war criminal by various meaningless groups. President Obama actually is waging an illegal war. The War Powers Act requires the president to seek congressional approval within 60 days of launching a military action. Today marks the 60th day since he sent troops to attack Libya, and he's done nothing of the sort. I don't expect the Berkeley City Council and other meaningless leftists to hold trials or threaten to arrest President Obama any time soon.

I held off on this because the president was scheduled to talk on the Middle East yesterday, and thought maybe he'd announce the end of Libyan hostilities or at least say he's asking for approval. Instead it was mostly a kick in Israel's teeth.

Leroy Flick won $2 million in the Michigan Lottery in 2009. He's still collecting Food Stamps. My first question would be why he even bothers, but the second is what everyone else is asking: how can he get welfare? Its possible that he's not, that someone else is using his card, but Flick insists nobody is going to make him "feel bad" about doing it. And yes, Flick is an elderly man.

A few years ago, I noted that almost half of Detroit is functionally illiterate - cannot read. That's hit the news again recently, but the best take on that I've seen so far is Cafe Hayek where Don Boudreaux points out:
Consider, for example, that 47 percent of adults in Detroit are functionally illiterate while approximately 0 percent are starving or wanting for the likes of toothpaste, paper towels, and laundry detergent.
Seems like private stores are working fine, but the government schools are horrible. Detroit is exhibit A of what happens when a perfect storm of Nepotism, Leftist ideology, corruption, and an inability to adapt to changing conditions meet in one city and stay there for decades.

Rachael Maddow is an MSNBC personality, which is why you may have never heard of her. One of her big fans watched an episode in which Maddow repeatedly played a clip from Joyce Kaufman, a Florida talk radio host. This fan named Ellisa Martinez, like a lot of leftists who call conservative talk radio, pretended to support her ideas, then said there was going to be a shooting soon in a Florida school. John Sexton writes at Big Journalism:
Martinez then upped the ante by calling Kaufman’s radio show and telling listeners that her husband was on the rampage with several loaded weapons and would turn up at a local school that day unless she could talk him out of it.
...
There was a massive lockdown of 300 schools in Broward county Florida and several government buildings which lasted most of a day. Parents throughout the county were frightened, not knowing which school the armed madman might visit.
The left blamed Kaufman, but the FBI tracked down Martinez and arrested her. She's been found guilty of making false threats and faces about a year in jail. Don't expect leftists to connect Maddow's show to violence and threats any time soon.

Cash for Clunkers" was classic Keynesian economics: the federal government takes money from people then redistributes it in an attempt to jump start a sector of the economy. It gave car dealers a big jump for about 2 months, then the jump died out and now the problems keep piling up. As predicted, the destruction of used cars for this program (costing the government millions in addition to the rebates handed out) has resulted in a shortage of used cars. Thus, the price of used cars has soared, with some cars selling for more used than they did new. This hurts the poorest people most, but then President Obama would tell them to ride the bus.

Finally, something a few weeks old that I just saw this week. I'll let Carol Platt Liebau explain:
According to the Department of Labor, when it comes to hourly wages, the average in the private sector is $19.68 per hour; for workers in state and local government, it’s $26.25. While 74% of private-industry workers receive paid sick leave and 8 paid holidays per year, 98% of state and local government workers have paid sick leave, along with 11 paid holidays yearly. And 99% of government workers have retirement benefits (with the same percentage enjoying medical benefits), compared to 74% and 86% respectively of private sector employees. Finally, in the private sector, an average of 20% of medical premiums are paid by employees, while state and local government workers pay only 11% on average.
That doesn't mean every state worker is better off in every job than every private sector worker in every state, but it does mean that overall, they are. The average state worker is much better off than private industry workers overall. How they compare in equivalent jobs is unclear and probably a much different picture, but that's not the point I want to make here.

I just wanted to reiterate how utterly illogical and unnecessary state worker unions are. Unions are to help workers fight for a fairer share of the profits they earn for a business. State workers earn no profits and are treated very fairly and well. They do not now and never have needed a union.

And that's the Word Around the Net for May 20, 2011

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