Friday, July 01, 2011

WORD AROUND THE NET

"Well, you know what happens when you can only negotiate with one vendor."

Adios California
Disgraced International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn may have a girl's name, but he's being accused of sexually abusing at least one maid (several others have stepped out and said the same thing happened to them) at a hotel. Other women from his past said he'd abused them as well. But this latest case supposedly has some problems. The alleged victim is said to have lied to prosecutors, changed her story, and has ties to money laundering criminals. Now, that doesn't mean what she's saying is false; it could just mean that Strauss-Kahn has powerful friends and lots of money, but the fact that she has ties to guys that the IMF fights does bring some problems to the table.

The Operation Gunwalker program has been getting a lot of attention lately. Basically the Justice Department thought it would be keen to sell a bunch of high powered weapons and submachine guns to Mexican drug gangs and track where they went. Strangely enough these thugs started using the guns to murder people. Now that a full congressional investigation is taking place it looks like some heads might roll. But the Democrats have a different take on the issue. While some suspect this was done at least in part to make a bigger case for gun control in America, Representative Cummings (D-MD) has released a preliminary report which... calls for more gun control.

Several people reported about this a few months back (including me) but here's hard evidence of how the system worked in Wisconsin. After collective bargaining was stripped from several areas of the state employee unions, schools have found that they are saving a lot of money. Byron York writes at the Washington Examiner:
The Kaukauna School District, in the Fox River Valley of Wisconsin near Appleton, has about 4,200 students and about 400 employees. It has struggled in recent times and this year faced a deficit of $400,000. But after the law went into effect, at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, school officials put in place new policies they estimate will turn that $400,000 deficit into a $1.5 million surplus.
Why? Well, because the previous system allowed the schools to only negotiate with the teacher's union special insurance company called WEA Trust. And that insurance company was raking them over the coals, because they had no choice but to work with WEA Trust and them alone.

See, this is the real reason the unions were going berserk: its going to cost them a lot of income when schools are able to move away from their monopoly on insurance. This was never about teachers or students or quality of education, never about fairness or tyranny. It was about money and the power to manipulate policy.

Also at the Examiner is a hilarious story of Steven Colbert trying to prove that corporations have unlimited power to manipulate elections by forming a SuperPAC and finding out how much trouble it is and how hard it is to actually get a PAC going. "Why does it get so complicated to do this? I mean, this is page after page of legalese, all I'm trying to do is affect the 2012 election. It's not like I'm trying to install iTunes," Colbert complained on his TV show.

Andrew Klaven has a hilarious video up about blacks that keep voting for Democrats. His theory: its revenge for past racism that blacks vote for these guys who demolish the cities they run, then the blacks vote to Republican-run areas for jobs and homes.

Apparently the Obama Administration is making it US policy to seek regime change in Syria. That's ok though; the Clinton administration did the same thing with Saddam Hussein. Wanting something to happen is fine, its only when you actually do something to make change that the left gets upset.

Scorpions on the plane? A man was stung by a striped bark scorpion from Texas on his way from Seattle to Anchorage. How it got on the plane isn't exactly clear, but they are pretty small. Most scorpions are just painful when they sting, like spider bites, which was true in this case. Still, they are creepy as hell and scary looking so it probably wasn't fun for him.

You'd expect a populist lefty like President Obama to be popular with the poor and not with the rich, but according to a recent poll, the opposite is true. Why would this possibly happen? Well maybe its true, maybe it isn't but if it is, probably this has something to do with it, from the Wall Street Journal:
People who pay $4 for gasoline, or $30 more for groceries, have less money to spend on other goods. They also tend to feel poorer, which can influence their overall confidence in the economy.

One big difference is who feels these effects. The wealth effects have helped everyone but especially the affluent. The income effects have been felt most acutely by the poor and middle classes for whom food and energy are a much higher proportion of income. QE2 and near-zero interest rates have been a boon for bankers and hedge funds. They haven’t been so great for suburban families who commute to work and haul their kids to football and music practice. The monetary policy so favored by liberal economists and the White House has actively favored the wealthy over the middle class.
See, QE2 actually hurt the economy by devaluing the dollar, but it helped rich people get richer by making money easier for them to get and pay back. If you are a millionaire, 5-10% inflation is a minor annoyance. If you're one of the record number of people out of work for 2 years... that's a different story.

Something I knew and everyone else should have: Osama Bin Laden wasn't running al`Qaeda any longer. He sent them ideas and orders, but according to reports, nobody took him seriously in the organization, and why would they? Assuming he was even still alive, he was cowering in his bunker after a glorious moment (for terrorists) that was followed by a decade of destruction and terror for them. Kind of like kicking a killer bee hive, maybe fun for a moment, but then you're running for your life.

This is all over but I have to repeat it here. California decided to start charging a sales tax for their online transactions.... and Amazon responded by shutting down their California affiliates. Its not like you have to have a site in a state to be seen on the internet in that state. Look, this isn't complex. If you charge somebody to do something, they're going to do less of it. Walter Moore has a rundown of all the businesses that have bailed on California as of 2010. After the election that year I'd run like hell, too. The voters proved that state has no interest in anything but spiraling down the drain.

Why is it nobody has put an alarm bell on a toaster yet? If you don't get that bread out immediately and get butter on it, the bread turns to brick. If anything needs an alarm, its a toaster so you can hear when it pops up. That "chunk" sound of the bread coming out isn't audible from more than five feet away if you're doing anything else at all, like making the rest of your breakfast.

After telling congress they are lazy and need to get busy like him, President Obama... flew off for yet another fundraiser. The very next day. Oh, now he's on vacation at Camp David. Maybe he's helping his daughters do their homework.

David Halperin called President Obama a naughty word and got fired. OK that's disrespectful and wrong, but why weren't the guys who called President Bush all those awful things fired from the same station?

Congress passed a bill that banned funding to the corrupt hard left corrupt ACORN, but President Obama recently sent the group a grant. Sure, he's been associated with and worked with them for a long time, but isn't it illegal to send them federal dollars now?

Banner ads. As near as I can tell, everyone hates them, even people who buy and design them. I have taken great pains to strip all ads and popups off my Firefox (with great success), and I know a lot of others have done the same thing. Now a study has confirmed what I've long suspected: almost nobody clicks on these things. According to Business Insider, the odds of you surviving a plane crash are greater than you clicking on a banner ad:
You are 31.25 times more likely to win a prize in the Mega Millions than you are to click on a banner ad." Not only that, "you are 87.8 times more likely to apply to Harvard and get in...112.50 times more likely to sign up for and complete NAVY SEAL training...279.64 times more likely to climb Mount Everest...and 475.28 times more likely to survive a plane crash than you are to click on a banner ad.
The bulk of the article is behind their pay wall but that sounds about right. Still, these ads are so cheap, they don't have to get many hits to make it worthwhile.

Hillary Clinton at the State Department, at the behest of President Obama, has directed diplomats to reach out to Muslim Brotherhood leaders. Sure, they support terrorism, sure they are part of a radical, extremist sect of Islam, and sure they want Israel wiped off the map. But they are the other, the abused minority. Maybe they can recognize Hezbollah too!

Meanwhile, the Obama State Department has designated Israel as a nation that "has shown a tendency to promote, produce, or protect terrorist organizations or their members."

Egypt's attempt at democracy continues to collapse, as the people who actually want liberty are a minority and effectively leaderless, and the Muslim Brotherhood has broad support and plenty of leadership. If only some people had seen this coming...

One of the first things President Obama did upon taking office was to order an investigation of the CIA for torture and misuse of prisoners. Now, the Justice Department is quietly closing the investigation, having accomplished nothing other than spending money and harassing workers. Either the fix is in (the left's idea) or there was nothing to investigate to begin with.

According to the Los Angeles Unified School District, having homework is racist and classist. Their argument is based on the idea that white, rich people have stable homes with good parents who'll make sure kids get their homework done, while non whites and poor people won't. So they have ordered teachers to cap homework at 10% of grade, effectively signalling to students that homework is meaningless. No one will fail because they do no homework (although not doing the homework will likely make them incapable of understanding the rest of the class in many cases). They won't even get a bad grade based only on that.

This is a common aspect of modern society: instead of trying to teach and lift up people who aren't making it, we adjust society downward so they fit in better.

China is having a communist revival. Some claim the country has abandoned communism, but that's simply not true, they've just managed to adjust it to include some private commerce while running the nation the same way as always. In Southwest China, they're rolling back the clock, according to Keith Richburg at the Washington Post:
The local satellite television station recently stopped broadcasting sitcoms and now shows only ‘revolutionary’ programs and news. Government workers and students have been told to spend time working in the countryside. The local propaganda department launched a ‘red Twitter’ micro-blogging site, blasting out short patriotic slogans.

And in what seems like a throwback to the days of the Cultural Revolution, residents have been encouraged — or told — to read revolutionary books and poetry and to gather regularly in parks to sing old songs extolling the Communist revolution. A recent Sunday gathering, including a colorful, choreographed stage pageant, attracted an estimated 10,000 flag-waving people, many in uniforms and red caps and mostly organized by the party chiefs in their schools and factories.
The Communist Party still runs China, and they haven't abandoned the ideology.

Prince, the artist formerly known as stupid symbol, has announced his support of oppressive Islam that would put him up against a wall and collapse it on him:
Prince, the Grammy Award-winning artist behind “Purple Rain,” told the Guardian in an interview that women forced to wear burqas in Islamic countries are happy to wear them.

“It’s fun being in Islamic countries, to know there’s only one religion,” Prince told the British newspaper. “There’s order. You wear a burqa. There’s no choice. People are happy with that.”
He then went on to whine that piracy means nobody is making money, and told people to come to his apparently money-losing concert to hear music from albums that he thinks aren't making any money. Terrestrial Musings compares his remarks to life under Jim Crow and wonders if he'd think that was so fun.

Have you heard of Thomas Ball? He's a man who got so frustrated with how men are treated in the legal system after a divorce he lit himself on fire on the steps of the court building in New Hampshire, after sending a letter to the local newspaper. Usually this kind of spectacular thing gets a lot of media notice, but not this one. Because it was a white guy protesting how men are treated by a female-adoring court system. Helen Smith (aka Instawife) writes about the contrast between the treatment of this case and any female complaints at Pajamas Media.

Richard Stengel wrote a piece for Time all about how the constitution is completely abrogated by a few lines in the Commerce Clause and conservatives have it all wrong. In the process he made at least 13 idiotic and patently obvious factual errors and overall showed a stunning lack of comprehension of constitutional law and history. But the left is up against a wall on this: they want to seem like they're patriots and support the constitution, but hate all it stands for and tries to accomplish. The more people know about the document and pay attention to it, the worse their positions become.

President Obama campaigned on changing the way things were done in Washington, on transparency, on kicking out the lobbyists and special interests and so on. Almost immediately upon taking office he threw all that aside, blocked transparency, invited lobbyists in, and began pandering to special interests. He did deliver change all right: he's worse than President Bush ever was and he picked a different group of special interests to work with. Jake Tapper notes that President Obama is engaging in the same sort of "unseemly" fundraising that his predecessors such as Clinton engaged in, but he condemned while running for office.

The New York Times had an amazing editorial recently. This wasn't a column by someone, it was an official NYT editorial, representing the official opinion of the newspaper. Their argument? That disagreeing with the president on Libyan policy is schismatic and we can't leave now because it would damage US credibility world wide.

And they're right but... this is the same newspaper that called for us to abandon Afghanistan not a few days before that particular editorial, and spent years calling for the US to abandon Iraq. And they didn't even comment on that, it was as if it was in an alternate universe.

While we're on the subject of inconsistency, in Palm Beach, the Tea Party Movement held a rally just like MoveOn did a few weeks before it. Like all right-leaning events, the place was picked up and clean afterward, and like all left leaning events the MoveOn one left trash behind. The Tea Party rally was charged $6,000 for barricades and police presence. The MoveOn one was charged nothing. Their Tax Day rally was charged $12,000 earlier.

Victor Davis Hanson ran down the contradictions and hypocrisy of the left recently in a great column about how there really aren't any socialists, only people who want socialism for everyone else.
Obama enjoyed big majorities in both houses of Congress; and on the campaign trail he had promised a de facto amnesty under the euphemism of “comprehensive immigration reform.” So why did he not grant such exemptions, and absorb 11, 15, or 20 million new “citizens” from Oaxaca? Is not that the point of amnesty, to welcome in new constituencies who will remember a benefactor at the polls?

We have heard that taxes, more taxes, and more taxes are the cure for the massive deficits, run up by out of control spending. OK, fine. But why then does multimillionaire John Kerry go to great lengths to avoid taxes on his yacht (why a luxury yacht when so many have so little?); why are redistributive overseers like Timothy Geithner, Eric Holder, Tom Daschle, Charles Rangel, and Hilda Solis either late or delinquent in paying the federal, state, or local governments what they owe? Were not high taxes on the upper incomes like themselves the point of it all? Should not they pay all they can to ensure that their brethren receive needed entitlements? I thought Bono would lead an international effort of multimillionaire rock stars to relocate to socialist states like Ireland or Greece, so that they might gladly pay 75% of their incomes (which at “some point” they had enough of) to help others closer to home. Why instead is he fleeing to low-tax nations? Did not such socialists have enough money by now without undermining the socialist state?
Its true: they want you to have to deal with this stuff, but not themselves.

Finally, Mark Steyn wrote a great bit for National Review Online about the injustice of the recent financial crash. This has been one of the most destructive and horrific fiscal frauds and crimes ever committed in the history of the planet, but who will pay the price?
As to white-collar crime, what about the one type of white-collar crime that goes entirely unpunished? For an accounting fraud of $567 million, Enron’s executives went to jail, and its head guy died there. For an accounting fraud ten times that size, the two Democrat hacks who headed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Franklin Raines and Jamie Gorelick, walked away with a combined taxpayer-funded payout of $116.4 million.

Fannie and Freddie are two of the largest businesses in America, but they’re exempt from SEC disclosure rules and Sarbanes-Oxley “corporate governance” burdens, and so in 2008, unlike Enron, WorldCom or any of the other reviled private-sector bogeymen, they came close to taking down the entire global economy. Yes, yes, I know two wrongs don’t make a right (unless you’re Jamie Gorelick), but what then is the point of the SEC?
The lesson we're being taught here is that some are more equal than others, and that if you can build a powerful enough crony relationship with those in power, you can get away with anything.

And that's the Word Around the Net for July 1, 2011.

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