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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Friday, January 27, 2012

WORD AROUND THE NET

“Kerry Kennedy, daughter of RFK and human rights lawyer, is coming to Ecuador... This could give us a real boost... Will cost money, but not much.”

Dem Operative
Most people probably know Rwanda as the place where one tribe tried to obliterate another tribe as the UN stood aside and even facilitated the massacre. However, in the years since that, the country has been doing much better. One of their biggest turnarounds was in industry and the economy largely due to coffee. William Easterly and Laura Freschi at Aidwatchers explain:
Rwandan specialty coffee is winning international competitions, commands some of the world’s highest prices, and is sought out by Starbucks, Green Mountain Coffee, Intelligentsia, and Counter Culture Coffee. There is preliminary evidence that the coffee industry is creating jobs, boosting small farmer expenditure and consumption, and possibly even fostering social reconciliation by reducing “ethnic distance” among the Hutus and Tutsis who work together growing and washing coffee.

How did this happen? First, the Rwandan government lowered trade barriers, and lifted restrictions on coffee farmers. Second, Rwanda developed a strategy of targeting production of high-quality coffee, a specialty product whose prices remain stable even when industrial-quality coffee prices fall. Third, international donors provided funding, technical assistance and training, creating programs like the USAID-funded Sustaining Partnerships to Enhance Rural Enterprise and Agribusiness Development (SPREAD). SPREAD’s predecessor started the first Rwandan coffee cooperative as an experiment in 2001, and the project continues its work improving each link in newly-identified high-value coffee supply chains.

In other words, they worked on an industry by freeing the market and getting away from outside money and more toward training and education. They've got a ways to go but things are really looking better for the country, thanks to coffee.

The GDP for last year on average was a grand total of 1.7%, which while technically growth and not recession is so slow and tepid as to be damaging to jobs and productivity. By contrast, 2010 was 3.0% growth, although you wouldn't have known it at the time. Which makes me wonder: what is the metric being used here, exactly? Because 3% is not great but its pretty good and the nation was suffering that year.

Although registered as a non-profit and as such is tax free, the website Media Matters For America is specifically and overtly trying to create better news coverage of Democrats. Founded by Soros and the Clintons, the website claims it is a corrective to right wing distortion and media stories, but in truth its just a Democratic Party mouthpiece. Vince Cogliansese writes at The Daily Caller:
The far-left nonprofit Media Matters for America (MMFA) has attempted to court at least one Democrat lawmaker as its “all[y]” in “gain[ing] favorable media coverage” in the ongoing Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline debate. Claiming an alliance with lawmakers appears to be the latest red flag for the organization critics allege has frequently overstepped its tax-exempt privileges.

In an email distributed to the offices of both Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and Republican Sen. James Inhofe on Wednesday — and obtained by The Daily Caller — Media Matters employee Emilee Pierce sought to “flag” a liberal study by the organization released Thursday in an effort to manipulate coverage of the Keystone pipeline.
I remember early on, Media Matters was primarily a Clinton spin machine, trying to attack anyone who questioned or criticized the Clintons, but its got a broader perspective these days. Tax free non profits have to avoid endorsing or attacking one political party or the other, according to tax law. The IRS has been strangely reluctant to act against this group, though.

Also at the Daily Caller Matt Lewis ripped Reuters News Service to bits over an error-packed story about Florida Republican Marco Rubio. Among the errors:
  • Claiming Rubio voted against Sotomayor's confirmation
  • He makes a lot of money but failed to make two payments on his house
  • He used a party credit card for purchases
Why this story was written and in this manner is a matter of some curiosity, to say the least.

Vice President Biden has repeatedly used racist tones and statements that would have gotten a Republican thrown out of office, but no one seems to care. His most recent was to affect a faux Indian accent while talking about the call service industry, which probably was kind of funny and not racist in my book, but again: double standard.

Who was the richest president the United States has ever had? Was it Kennedy? Either Bush? Roosevelt? No, it was George Washington, when adjusted for inflation. And John Kerry would have been even richer. Funny how wealth only matters when its not a Democrat these days.

Mitt Romney is a rich man running for president. He pays about 15% federal income taxes despite having such wealth, largely because his money isn't due to income like a paycheck but other sources. While I am annoyed that the very wealthy find it so easy to dodge taxes, I don't care much that he's rich. I'd like to be rich. However, Noel Sheppard looked at IRS data and found that 97% of all Americans pay less than 15% income tax. In other words, Romney pays higher taxes than 97% of America.

This graph looks a bit messy:

TempChart

But here's what all those lines mean. The IPCC FAR are the various climate reports from the UN IPCC. The estimates are the various estimates that were stated in 1990 and repeated as years went on, high and low, including variation that they predicted within those estimates (the red, blue and green straight lines). The wiggly lines are the actual temperatures as recorded in oceanic and surface temperature reports. Noted are also various global events such as when Mt Pinatubo erupted.

As you can see, every single estimate by the IPCC was wrong. All of them, even the lowest possible one. Now, at what point should a scientific endeavor change gears? When do they decide "well maybe this isn't working?" For the global climate alarmist, apparently never.

Although it had been happening for more than a century, the retreat of glaciers on Mt Kilimanjaro was one of Al Gore's exhibits of how horrible global warming was and how we're ruining the planet. According to guides who work on the mountain, however, the glaciers are growing again.

NASA's Goddard Space Institute notes that the global temperature of 2011 (as best it can be measured) was lower than in 1998. Overall the trend of temperature, as far as there is one, seems to be downward, and has been since 98. Between the two choices, cold is actually worse for humanity than warm.

Piracy isn't just something from the distant past or off the shores of western Africa. Entertainment "piracy" by copying materials and selling it illegally is very problematic for the entertainment industry. Which brings us to 3D. Customers don't actually love 3D movies that much, if they did, those 3D televisions would sell better - and they are not. Hollywood loves the format though, because its very difficult to pirate. You can't steal a movie with a video camera if the film is 3D, so that very common form of piracy is locked out. Plus, you can charge more for a 3D movie and people will pay it. So the format is not going anywhere despite being at best tolerated by most viewers and potentially causing eyestrain.

Meanwhile, cable TV and the big entertainment companies that own it are very worried. More and more people are abandoning viewing shows on cable and just watching what they want, when they want, on Netflix, Apple, and other sources. Why wait for a show to come on (often with ads) when you can just watch it at your leisure, without ads? Although DVD and movie ticket sales are down, TV licensing is the big money for big entertainment. Edward Jay Epstein at explains:
Consider Warner Bros. Its library has more than 60,000 licensable properties, including 6,500 movies and 40,000 TV episodes. Whereas its DVD sales have been on the wane, its TV licensing has skyrocketed. In 2010, according to sources at Time Warner, Warner Bros. harvested over $4 billion from worldwide licensing to TV.

Nearly 80 percent came from just four cable customers — HBO, Turner, ABC Family, and NBC Universal’s cable channels. Not only did this far exceed ithttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifs share of theatrical box-office receipts, which were $2.4 billion in 2010, but this licensing is highly profitable:

The studio pays none of the cost of advertising, prints or logistics. Almost all proceeds, minus some residuals paid to third parties, go to a studio’s bottom line. Whatever the vagaries of the box office, licensing is the largest and most reliable source of profits for the studios.
These industry experts estimate that if 5% of cable customers dump their subscriptions, it would mean financial disaster. Well, maybe if you offered more content with less annoyance, and let people buy what they want rather than bundled you wouldn't pressure customers away. Oil Companies and banks are considered evil blood thirsty corporations but nobody seems to mind what awful people entertainment corporations are.

All those waiver madness of giving specific allies exemption from the "Obamacare" Government Health Insurance Takeover Act has come to a close, finally. Here are some running totals:
A recent paper by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services found that Sebelius has granted waivers to labor unions representing more than 547,000 employees. "By contrast, private employers with a total of 69,813 employees, many of whom work for small businesses were granted waivers," the Daily Caller reports. And last year, according to Washington Examiner columnist Michelle Malkin, "Sebelius granted 38 waivers to restaurants, nightclubs, spas and hotels in former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco congressional district. Pelosi's office said she had nothing to do with it." At another point last year, unions were getting so many waivers that Malkin asked why "union members are only 12 percent of all employees but have gotten 50.3 percent of Obamacare waivers?"
Again, if its such a great idea, why are so many people asking to not be a part of it?

Attorney General Eric Holder is known for his willingness to ignore crimes by blacks and his heading up a deliberate effort to get automatic weapons in the hands of drug gangs to help build momentum for gun control, but his past is less known. However, Reuters dug up some past information on him and found this:
Reuters reported in December that under Holder and Breuer, the Justice Department hasn’t brought any criminal cases against big banks or other companies involved in mortgage servicing, even though copious evidence has surfaced of apparent criminal violations in foreclosure cases.

The evidence, including records from federal and state courts and local clerks’ offices around the country, shows widespread forgery, perjury, obstruction of justice, and illegal foreclosures on the homes of thousands of active-duty military personnel.
...
In recent weeks the Justice Department has come under renewed pressure from members of Congress, state and local officials and homeowners’ lawyers to open a wide-ranging criminal investigation of mortgage servicers, the biggest of which have been Covington clients. So far Justice officials haven’t responded publicly to any of the requests.

While Holder and Breuer were partners at Covington, the firm’s clients included the four largest U.S. banks – Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo & Co – as well as at least one other bank that is among the 10 largest mortgage servicers.
Wait, aren't banks throwing people out on the streets the bad guys, Occupy? Well, I'm sure all the foreclosures were on white guys. Its social justice.

President Obama has had a lot of staffers and people working with him in the past. One of them was Zach Edwards, his "New Media" director for the 2008 campaign. He works for a Democratic Party strategy business linked to Tom Harkin at present. And he was arrested for attempted identity theft. What was he doing? He was trying to use the identities of the Iowa Secretary of state and or his brother, planning to implicate the the SoS of illegal or unethical behavior. Iowa's Secretary of State has been a serious roadblock in the way of George Soros' Secretary of State project to replace each state's SoS with ones friendly to the left. Since this office controls and oversees vote counting and elections, you can guess why they might want to do this. "By any means necessary," I believe is the quote. Or perhaps its "the ends justify the means."

Texas like all US states redrew their congressional districts because of population changes found in the 2010 census count. Every time this happens, the party in charge tries to abuse the system to maximize their power and the party out of power screams bloody murder because they can't do the same thing. The Texas Democratic Party, famous for running away and hiding last time redistricting happened, ran to their reliable allies in the courts. Unsurprisingly they were able to find a judge who drew up a map that favored Democrats better. However the Supreme Court ruled that judges cannot draw redistricting maps, only legislatures as the US and state constitutions plainly say.

Chevrolet's Volt is by all accounts a well-made car, unlike many GM products these days. However, its far too expensive for what you get and has virtually no resale value and tons of massive hidden costs. In order to inflate sales numbers and try to encourage car dealers to move the vehicle, they required lots to buy the Volt rather than lease it in order to have one on their lot. So its no surprise that Chevy dealers have been reluctant to carry the thing. Mike Colias reports at Auto News:
For example, consider the New York City market. Last month, GM allocated 104 Volts to 14 dealerships in the area, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Dealers took just 31 of them, the lowest take rate for any Chevy model in that market last month. That group of dealers ordered more than 90 percent of the other vehicles they were eligible to take, the source said.

In Clovis, Calif., meanwhile, Brett Hedrick, dealer principal at Hedrick's Chevrolet, sold 10 Volts last year. But in December and January he turned down all six Volts allocated to him under GM's "turn-and-earn" system, which distributes vehicles based on past sales volumes and inventory levels.

GM's "thinking we need six more Volts is just crazy," Hedrick says. "We've never sold more than two in a month." Hedrick says he usually takes just about every vehicle that GM allocates to him.
Given the "burst into flame" news and recalls, its no surprise these things just aren't welcome at lots. I guess that effort to destroy Toyota last year didn't work out so well.

Ever sit through a meeting and suspect everyone is getting dumber by gathering? Well now there's some evidence that actually happens - especially with women.
Researchers conducted a series of tests on groups of men and women with similar high IQ ratings. In the first set of tasks, the subjects were given basic puzzles to solve.

Then they were each told how well the others in the group had performed before being given another series of similar tests.

Once they knew the others were good at the tasks, the performance and IQ of both sexes dropped, but women's more significantly.

Scans showed the part of the brain dealing with emotion increased in activity while that associated with problem solving decreased.

The researchers, at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute in the U.S., say the results suggest companies should develop strategies to get the most out of staff who may be 'susceptible to social pressures' in small groups.
Its possible that its distraction, or the need to shift to different parts of your brain in focus for social interaction, and it may be just that people tend not to think or analyze as much in groups because they figure someone else will do it for them.

Tax day is coming up in a few months. Have you paid your taxes this tax year? Well you're better than many federal workers. According to Emily Miller at the Washington Times, federal employees owe $1,000,000,000 in unpaid back taxes.
Figures released this week show 98,291 current civilian employees have a severe tax lien against them. When retirees and military personnel are included, the debt figure goes up to an astounding $3.4 billion. Without some kind of accountability, the number will grow larger.

The ironies abound. The Office of Government Ethics has one of the highest delinquency rates at 6.5 percent. You might think the U.S. Tax Court would pay its taxes, but its staff owes Uncle Sam $62,508. The Government Accountability Office has 65 employees not being held accountable. The Board of Governors for the Federal Reserves has 91 staffers who have reserved $1,265,152 in their own pockets.
The Postal Service has the most people not paying taxes, a total of 25,640.

Recently, President Obama celebrated the anniversary of the Roe v Wade debacle in the Supreme Court. While millions of people around America were remembering how many children have died (far more than the holocaust killed), the president was saying this:
And as we remember this historic anniversary, we must also continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.
Aside from not having sons, apparently President Obama's kids dream of infanticide.

Meanwhile, thousands of people gathered for a pro-life rally in Washington DC, but the press consistently reported it as "hundreds" and showed almost no pictures of the event. Why? Well it not only makes the president's remarks look out of touch, but it gives credence to the public shift away from abortion support in America. Ann Althouse suggests that the legacy media has become "truth-phobic" because it keeps getting in the way of their narrative.
That’s why 250 people camping out in a park gets thousands of stories, while half-a-million marching on Washington does not get reported at all, or if it does, the pictures are cropped; the attendees are caricatured, mis-named and under-represented while their opponents are over-represented.
Whatever the reason, its plain that the legacy media has one perspective and only reluctantly cares to share anything that conflicts with it.

South Carolina's dead vote. After the recent primary, the attorney general of the state requested an investigation because an estimated 900 people appear to have voted in recent elections (which would go back before the GOP primary there). Zombie rebs?

Remember Dr Ann Maest, specialist for anti-oil drilling forces? She was caught on film telling how to fake data and claim damage not being done for a court case in Ecuador. Well there's an update in the New York Post (via Whizbang) about her lawyer pall Donziger who was in on the scam:
Kennedy, 52, was secretly hired as a “public-relations consultant” by the lawyer representing the Ecuadoreans in an $18 billion lawsuit against Chevron, according to court documents.

Cashing in on her respected family name and legacy, Kennedy raked in tens of thousands of dollars and was given a 0.25 percent stake — worth as much as $40 million — if the $18 billion judgment handed down by an Ecuadorean judge is ultimately upheld. (Chevron has not yet paid pending its countersuit in Manhattan federal court.)

Kennedy was paid a flat $50,000 by lead attorney Steven Donziger on Feb. 22, 2010, bank statements made public in the case show.
“Nothing could prepare me for the horror I witnessed,” she wrote, but the money probably helped, and the horror was certainly made more plausible.

Incidentally, something you might want to think about: Newt Gingrich was fined an "unprecedented" $300,000 for alleged ethics violation by the House of Representatives. Everyone figures he was guilty because he paid and resigned. Except... when he was investigated for the actual crime he was accused of, he was found not guilty. They didn't abandon the case for lack of evidence or a weak case, they said he was absolved and had engaged in no wrongdoing. So why pay? Well to get the investigation over with and behind him, many suspect. I would guess few people know this, and its worth passing on.

The 2008 Democratic Party fight was pretty hilarious to watch: both sides looked like idiots, both were acting self destructive, both were tearing each other apart and demonstrating plainly that neither Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton should be president. Clinton pushed the "Obama wasn't born in the USA" theory, and Obama pushed the "Clinton can't be trusted" one. David "astroturf" Axelrod came up with this one. Memos released recently from the campaign have the details, from Amy Willis at the LA Times:
Rather than fight out their differences in policy, Mr Axelrod told Obama that the only way to secure a defeat was to attack Mrs Clinton's character. The goal was to paint Obama as the "authentic 'remedy' to what ails Washington and stands in the way of progress" and to discredit his main rival in the process.

"It may not be her fault, but Americans have deeply divided feelings about Hillary Clinton, threatening a Democratic victory in 2008 and insuring another four years of the bitter political battles that have plagued Washington for the last two decades and stymied progress," the memo added.
It was obvious to everyone in early 2008 that the Democrat candidates were lousy, crazy, and stupid. They were tearing each other apart instead of going after the opposing party's candidate. They looked silly to the world. Sound familiar?

President Obama is running around attacking greed and demanding rich people give more to help those in need. Inevitably that comes around to how Republicans are those evil greedy rich and how Democrats just want to help but keep being stopped by the minority party in congress. Except when you look at the numbers, a different picture emerges. Mitt Romney released his tax info recently, and its shown that he gave 15% of his income to charity. President Obama, by contrast, gave... 1%.

However, Jon Stewart at Comedy Central was shocked, shocked to learn that Mitt Romney made so rich. Stewart, who makes $15,000,000 a year in salary alone at Comedy Central (plus any residuals, advertising he does, and speaking appearances) couldn't believe Romney makes so much money. Having a candidate be so wealthy and successful in business was apparently offensive to Stewart, who fought hard to get from the game show Remote Control to another TV show on MTV's network.

Google's motto is "do no evil." However, their actions pretty much put that to lie on a regular basis. Their most recent effort is to always gather all information you type into the internet for any reason on any of their platforms (such as blogger, Google searches, Youtube, Gmail, and so on) and use it to advertise to you. You cannot opt out, but you can avoid this by using other sites, such as Startpage.com for your internet searches (it uses Google through a third party, thus keeping your information anonymous).

Recently Obama's Education Department did a study on the impact of ethnic background on student loan repayment rates for... well there had to be some reason. They made a small error in their data, however. They didn't study blacks at all. Completely left them out. And it took a court order to get the data released and the error brought out. I'm sure it was completely by accident.

Daniel Greenburg at the Sultan Knish blog has an interesting examination of politics and food, and how food is used as a class weapon.
But the politicization of food goes beyond the fair trade and locally grown fetishes of the politically correct elites, the more politics ends up on your plate, the more the elites are driven to involve everyone else in their food fights. What begins as a way of raising prices while diminishing value to assert wealth and privilege becomes imposed on everyone in the name of their political morality. Once everyone else is paying more and getting less, then the classist left demands new ways to set its superior moral eating habits apart. Instead of everyone ending up with more food, everyone ends up with less.

The cultural ascendance of the left has meant that instead of conspicuous consumption, the consumption has to be disguised with conspicuous political pieties. The food may cost twice as much, but it's locally grown on a farm run by handicapped union workers who visit Cuba to receive free health care or by the indigenous peoples of Tuba-Tuba with the proceeds going to a complete sonic library of their chants and ceremonies. The entire thing is meaningfully meaningless, but it disguises the consumption in a hairshirt, which is the entire point.
He notes that Russia, once a net wheat exporter and breadbasket was a net wheat importer with the inability to produce its own food by the time the left was done with it.

Finally, Drudge has gone on record as being anti-Newt Gingrich, and is using his hugely popular site to bash and destroy the man any way he can. Recently he ran several quotes that make it seem like Newt despised Ronald Reagan in an attempt to get conservatives to abandon support of Gingrichs, but those quotes were a bit misleading as Dan Reihl shows in video of the whole interview, not just a few quotes. And over at Legal Insurrection, a commenter notes a few facts about Gingrich. He notes several strong Reagan supporters defending Newt:
Reagan Nat’l Security Advisor Bud McFarlane: http://bit.ly/zd9eAF
Reagan Economist Art Laffer: http://bit.ly/xEDETi
Reagan WH political director Jeffrey Lord: http://bit.ly/zw2ZMb
Reagan Policy Analyst Peter Ferrara http://bit.ly/zq1QxI
Reagan media consultant Richard Quinn: http://on.msnbc.com/y2sPM2
Reagan’s Speechwriting Dir. Bently Elliott: http://thedc.com/xOkDvA
Reagan’s older son Michael Reagan: http://bit.ly/yYVy7L
Reagan’s beloved wife Nancy: http://bit.ly/zrWvAw
Newt Gingrich has his problems, but being against Reagan was not among them.

And that's the Word Around the Net for January 27, 2012

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