Right Thinking From The Left Coast
Never trust a computer you can't throw out a window - Steve Wozniak

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Night Science Link

Mt. Eyjafjallajökull (pronounced, “What?") erupted this week, spewing ash for thousands of miles and grounding airline flights all over Europe.  The Boston Globe has a stunning set of pictures of the eruption.  It’s amazing what Mother Nature can do when she’s in a bad mood.  If Yellowstone ever goes up, we’re doomed.

(Yellowstone Eruption Survival Tip:  Since the internet travels faster than seismic activity, your first hint of trouble will be all your friends in Wyoming posting, “Burning to death!  AIEEE!” on Facebook.  The more you know...)

I don’t think this eruption will affect climate measures, as PInatubo did.  Pinatubo was the most massive explosion in a millennium and dropped global temperatures by half a degree.  We actually had to correct ground-based astronomy measures because of the crud that mountain put in the atmosphere.  But this eruption is impressive enough.

Joke of the day from some British friends:  “Dear Iceland, we told you to send us cash.”

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/16/10 at 06:58 PM in Science and Technology  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The Emperor laughs at the stupid peasants

Do you want to see some serious balls? Obama is “amused” those of us that are pissed of at how badly the government is punishing success and stealing from us to buy votes from those that have figured out they can vote instead of work for a living. WTF? The peasant’s are pissed that they are being robbed blind? Obama likely thinks, like Marie Antoinette, that we should all be let to eat cake! And why is he so amused?

Obama told a fundraiser in Miami that he’s cut taxes, contrary to the claims of protesters. “You would think they’d be saying thank you,” he said.

Not only is he a shameless liar, he is a narcissist too. We should be thankful that our government is not only taking us for granted, but destroying our future and that of our children while pretending to do good? Again: WTF? So how are the demcorats responding to the fact that everything they do pisses off the people?

Obama called on Republicans and Democrats to come together to pass strong financial regulation legislation. He said every member of Congress would have to decide “between special interests and the American people.”

Considering this bunch running congress right now is at the beck and call of the largest special interest groups around – the DNC, the unions, any big business that wants to buy favors, the radical left – he has some gall talking like this. November can not get here fast enough…

Posted by AlexinCT on 04/16/10 at 09:51 AM in Left Wing Idiocy   Politics   Law, & Economics   The Press Machine  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Waxman bluffed, and now he is calling…

When Obamacare passed and companies royally screwed by the government takeover of healthcare restated their earnings to show the drastic impact of this disastrous bill, the democrats ent after blood. How dared these companies point out that Obamacare was going to take millions, if not billions away from their bottom line, drastically curtail new hiring, if not require them to lay off more people to mitigate the disastrous costs, and think the demcorat masters were going to let them show them up? Who cared that it was their own rules and regulations that forced these companies to do so? I guess the law of unintended consequences caught up with them. Anyway, the leftist twits decided to play hardball, and called all these businesses on the carpet. Threats of hearings and retaliation were bandied, and the demcorats decided some show trials could help them and dissuade others. Of course, as soon as it became obvious that there was no way for them to hide the fact that Obamacare was a disaster and that the hearings they wanted to brow beat the private sector with would likely end up making them look bad, Henry Waxman angrily accused companies like this happened:

A House Energy and Commerce Committee spokeswoman tells me that Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., has indeed cancelled the April 21 subcommittee hearing in which CEOs were to testify about Obamacare. So far, the only indication of this change appears on the committee’s website is on the Republican minority ranking member’s site. In fact, the hearing still appears on Waxman’s committee calendar for that day. Waxman had called the hearing in reaction to public statements by several companies—including Verizon, AT&T, and John Deere, among others—that Obamacare would cost them hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars because it laid a new tax on their retiree health benefit payments.

....

Hearings on this matter would likely have proved an embarrassment to the Democrats and helped drag out discussion of Obamacare’s unexpected ill effects.

Don’t worry. These demcorats will find a way to get even with these corporations for pointing out the truth. The show trials may be off, but they will get their pound of flesh. In the mean time most people continue to understand that Obamacare is a disaster, and most now clearly see - even if they won’t admit it out loud - that demcorats are bad for the economy. The unemployed better get used to living from the slim pickings Uncle Sam will throw their way, because there won’t be any action from the government that will do anything but make things worse.

The beatings will continue until morale improves. November can’t get here quick enough….

Posted by AlexinCT on 04/15/10 at 01:26 PM in Health Care   Left Wing Idiocy   Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Evil Boosh government.. Oh, wait!

You damned well know that if this happened when Bush was president that it would be front page 24/7 news about how the evil rightwing fascists were reconstituting Nazi Germany here in the US. I bet my life most people don’t even have a clue that the Obama Administration is now out “fascisting” the Bush one by raising the ante:

Google and an alliance of privacy groups have come to Yahoo’s aid by helping the Web portal fend off a broad request from the U.S. Department of Justice for e-mail messages, CNET has learned. In a brief filed Tuesday afternoon, the coalition says a search warrant signed by a judge is necessary before the FBI or other police agencies can read the contents of Yahoo Mail messages--a position that puts those companies directly at odds with the Obama administration.

Where is all the anger and indignation from the Boosh hating left over this? Why isn’t the MSM hammering this home? I am not arguing over whether the government should have the right to view e-mails or not, but that the MSM and the left seem to have no problem when their guys say that the whole warrant thing is only a big deal when the people that are being accused of wanting to circumvent them have a (R) by their name. Even worse, it isn’t obvious what these e-mails are wanted for anything reasonable. Are we talking about the government deciding that warrants are not needed when terrorists are using e-mail to plan an attack and time is off the essence, or is this about those evil anti-government rednecks Janet Napolitano likes to talk about so much? Some kids that send dirty e-mails?

Who cares, I say. What is telling is that Obama is doing it and we hear nothing from the ACLU or the other morons that freaked out about anything Bush did.

Posted by AlexinCT on 04/15/10 at 10:41 AM in Left Wing Idiocy   The Press Machine  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Tightening the Copyright Noose

I’ve been sitting on this post for a while, hoping someone would tell me that we’ve got it all wrong.  But, so far, I have not heard much dissent.

The issue is ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement that is supposed to tighten up enforcement of intellectual property rights.  But as the Volokh Conspiracy notes, this secretive agreement is about to screw us over.  It’s the DMCA squared.  The best analysis I’ve seen is from Margo Kaminski.  Here’s Volokh (with some pruning from me, since it’s a long quote):

1) Paragraphs 2 and 3 mandate a statutory damages provision in civil copyright law, as under US law — so that copyright holders, even without the need to demonstrate any measurable harm whatsoever, can recover awards thousands of times greater than any possible damage they may have suffered.

2) ACTA Art. 2.5 mandates an especially swift response from courts in copyright infringement cases — nice for Hollywood, not so nice for everyone else.

3) IP Enforcement at the Border. The current draft contains a number of provisions that will allow — and in some cases mandate — more vigorous searching (of laptops, iPods, etc.) and seizing of devices containing copyright infringing material ... the Agreement also permits Ex Officio action at border crossing (i.e., seizure of goods by customs officials without any complaint being filed); mandating the release of “personally identifying information” of suspected infringers to copyright holders, even without any finding of actual infringement.

4) Expanding the definition of Criminal Copyright Infringement. ACTA expands the international definition of criminal copyright infringement to explicitly include Internet “piracy” done for personal benefit alone ... Insofar as it is VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO DO ANYTHING ON THE INTERNET WITHOUT INFRINGING SOMEONE’S COPYRIGHT, this will play serious havoc with the international legal system. Oh yes — and it mandates that “penalties that include actual sentences of imprisonment as well as monetary fines.”

5) ACTA member countries will be required to provide for third-party (Internet Intermediary) liability.

More can be found at Citizen Media Law.

We are essentially moving toward the copyright system that Big Entertainment has wanted all along, which is that you have to pay every time you so much as think about their product.  With an international agreement, it’s very easy to get around those pesky “search and seizure” requirement and bully third parties into policing the internet for them.

And it’s as if it’s the Wild West out there.  The copyright law regime that has gotten so restrictive to almost outlaw fair use.  It’s a regime so good for monied interests that home builders want to cash in on it.

And it’s not like the Courts are going to help.  As Cato points out, Justice Stevens was one of the few defenders of high tech freedom.  And his likely replacement Elena Kagan, has a record of deferring to executive and legislative power.  She is unlikely to be the “activist judge” type that would, you know, enforce the Constitution and support freedom.

This once again puts the lie, if it still needs putting, to the idea that Democrats are in favor of the little guy.  A Democratic president, coming off a decisively liberal Senate record, is negotiating an agreement that would, at the behest of big media companies, search laptops and ipods at the border, level massive fines and possible prisons sentences against even the most modest violators and possibly hold third parties liable.

And this once again demonstrates why the blogosphere is so important.  Have you heard about this on CBS news?  Are you likely to, given that they or their parent company will benefit enormously from this?

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/15/10 at 08:37 AM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The Middle Class Tax Hike, Part 17

Raise your hand if you are at all surprised:

Taxpayers earning less than $200,000 a year will pay roughly $3.9 billion more in taxes — in 2019 alone — due to healthcare reform, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s official scorekeeper.

The new law raises $15.2 billion over 10 years by limiting the medical expense deduction, a provision widely used by taxpayers who either have a serious illness or are older.

Taxpayers can currently deduct medical expenses in excess of 7.5 percent of their adjusted gross income. Starting in 2013, most taxpayers will only be able to deduct expenses greater than 10 percent of AGI. Older taxpayers are hit by this threshold increase in 2017.

Once the law is fully implemented in 2019, the JCT estimates the deduction limitation will affect 14.8 million taxpayers — 14.7 million of them will earn less than $200,000 a year. These taxpayers are single and joint filers, as well as heads of households.

This is almost certainly something Congress will “fix” with either deficit spending or a tax hike on “the rich”.  But it’s yet another example—see below for how Congress accidentally eliminated their own insurance—of how poorly examined this bill was.

I just can’t wait to see what happens when these assholes tackle immigration.  If healthcare is any example, my green-card holding scientist Aussie wife will probably get deported to Namibia.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/15/10 at 08:32 AM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Christie’s Courage

Chris Christie is trying desperately to save the state of New Jersey.  Governor Corzine left him with a financial shit sandwich that makes what Bush left Obama look like ice cream.  The state was $11 billion in debt, proportionally in a worse situation than California.  Christie, however is proving to be worthy of the challenge.

Christie, U.S. attorney for New Jersey from 2002-08, is the closest thing the book has to a hero — “a man determined to change the way Jersey pols do business.” By 2007, he had “nabbed more than a hundred people in public corruption cases,” and more than a quarter of the state Senate announced they wouldn’t seek re-election that year.

Shortly after his inauguration, Christie used the office’s broad powers to slash $560 million in education spending. In a February speech to New Jersey mayors, he scorned that “old, tired song” about fixing things with imaginary cuts in “waste and abuse.” Referencing the classic scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Christie asked them to hold hands with him and “jump off the cliff.”

I can think of more-diplomatic metaphors. But Christie’s right that the state’s in deep trouble, with unsustainable pension growth and a property tax burden that averages more than $7,000 a family.

That’s why he’s now calling for laying off 1,300 state workers and cutting an additional $820 million in aid to public schools.

The establishment is screaming, especially the unions.  The teachers union reps recently passed around a memo that contained a prayer for the governor’s death.  But he’s sticking to his guns.  More than that, he’s choking his opponents on their own bullshit.

Here are a few examples, culled from his budget address, public meetings and radio appearances:

The children will be the ones to suffer from your education cuts. “The real question is, who’s for the kids, and who’s for their raises? This isn’t about the kids. Let’s dispense with that portion of the argument. Don’t let them tell you that ever again while they are reaching into your pockets.”

Why not renew the ‘millionaire’s tax’? “The top 1% of taxpayers in New Jersey pay 40% of the income tax. In addition, we’ve got a situation where that tax applies to small businesses. I’m simply not going to put my foot on the back of the neck of small business while I want them to try to grow jobs by giving more revenue to New Jersey.”

Budget cuts are unfair. “The special interests have already begun to scream their favorite word—which, coincidentally, is my 9-year-old son’s favorite word when we are making him do something he knows is right but does not want to do—’unfair.’ . . . One state retiree, 49 years old, paid, over the course of his entire career, a total of $124,000 towards his retirement pension and health benefits. What will we pay him? $3.3 million in pension payments over his life, and nearly $500,000 for health care benefits—a total of $3.8 million on a $120,000 investment. Is that fair?”

Isn’t your talk of ‘stopping the tax madness’ just another ‘Read My Lips’ promise? “[Mine is] much better than ‘Read my lips.’ I’m sorry, it’s just much better. Much stronger. . . . It’s gonna be how my governorship will rise or fall. I’m not signing a tax increase.”

Christie isn’t just saying things, he’s doing things—slashing the budget as hard as he can despite a firestorm of protest.  This is a sharp contrast to our national “leaders” who can’t be bothered to pass a budget on time and are cheering our $1.3 trillion debt because it’s slightly less than they thought it would be.

I have no idea if Christie will succeed.  He’s got balls bigger than his waistline but he’s fighting an immovable object—the gigantic government that years of ridiculous spending have created.  But if he can fix Jersey, it’s a ray of hope for all of us.  Because it means our national budget woes are no insurmountable.

Update: Another place doing what needs to be done, budget-wise: Colorado Springs.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/14/10 at 11:19 AM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

We Love To Grandstand And It Shows

Recently, Spirit Airlines announced that they would charge people for putting carry-on bags in the overhead bins. You know what happens next:

Fliers aren’t the only ones expressing outrage at Spirit Airlines’ just-announced fee for stowing carry-on bags in its overhead bins. The carrier may now be facing backlash from federal officials, including from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer.

In an ominous sign for Spirit’s attempt to charge for carry-on luggage – with fees as high as $45 per person – DOT chief LaHood took aim at the carrier in a Q&A on travel website elliot.org.

LaHood didn’t hold back, telling elliot.org: “I think it’s a bit outrageous that an airline is going to charge someone to carry on a bag and put it in the overhead. And I’ve told our people to try and figure out a way to mitigate that. I think it’s ridiculous.” LaHood adds “we’re gonna hold the airline’s feet to the fire on this. Because we have an obligation to do it and we have the ability to do it.”

Since when, Mr. Secretary?  From where do you derive this “obligation” and “ability” to tell airlines what fees they can and can not charge?  Your job is to make sure they obey the rules and keep their planes in the sky.  If an airlines treats their customers like vending machines, it is not your business.

I am, needless to say, completely unsurprised that Chuckie Schumer has managed to squeeze himself into this issue.  Any time business assholery is on the news, you can guarantee that Chuck Schumer will leave a stampeded trail of broken bodies between his office and the nearest camera in his rush to denounce it.  He wants to rescind some tax break that the airlines get for certain fees.  It’s a perfect illustration of what’s wrong with our broken, byzantine, economy-killing tax system.  It’s primary purpose is not to raise money to run the government; its primary purpose is to micromanage industries.

To hell with both these guys.  The way to deal with Spirit Airlines is to take your business elsewhere.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/13/10 at 04:56 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Hoist By Their Own Petard

You remember how Nancy Pelosi said we had to pass the bill to find out what was in it?  She wasn’t joking.

It is often said that the new health care law will affect almost every American in some way. And, perhaps fittingly if unintentionally, no one may be more affected than members of Congress themselves.

In a new report, the Congressional Research Service says the law may have significant unintended consequences for the “personal health insurance coverage” of senators, representatives and their staff members.

For example, it says, the law may “remove members of Congress and Congressional staff” from their current coverage, in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, before any alternatives are available.

The law assumes that Congress critters will join us ordinary schlubs in going through the insurance exchanges.  But those exchanges don’t exist until 2014.  So they could, potentially, be up a certain creek without a certain implement.

It will be amazing to see how fast this gets fixed.  The insurance program Congress enjoys is the best in the nation—at least for those getting the benefits.  They will not let that go away.  So we will see, very soon, the first “fix” to Obamacare.  And like most of the fixes, it will increase costs.

Really, I think Congress should go on Medicaid.  Two years in America’s next best thing to socialized medicine will cure them of any inclination to inflict it on the rest of the nation.

Update: The Times has a great point on this: “The confusion raises the inevitable question: If they did not know exactly what they were doing to themselves, did lawmakers who wrote and passed the bill fully grasp the details of how it would influence the lives of other Americans?”

Answer: they don’t.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/13/10 at 03:05 PM in Health Care  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Monday, April 12, 2010

It looks like the left’s answer to..

Their scam to discredit Teapartiers is to not wait for any real violence or racism by the Teapartiers, or to wait and hope their MSM buddies can smear them with falsehoods claiming racism and violence, but to do it themselves, and then point fingers. If this stuff isn’t a hoax, and I have no reason right now to think otherwise, this is scandalous, but exactly what I expect form the left. Since they can’t silence the angry American people with false accusations of racism or discredit the Teapartiers as rubes, they will just do what they accuse them of themselves, then blame them for it.

Posted by AlexinCT on 04/12/10 at 02:58 PM in Left Wing Idiocy  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The Knowledge Problem

It’s rare that I link to Glenn Reynolds.  But last week, he published a post that gets to the heart of why I’m a conservative.

Economist Friedrich Hayek explained in 1945 why centrally controlled “command economies” were doomed to waste, inefficiency, and collapse: Insufficient knowledge. He won a Nobel Prize. But it turns out he was righter than he knew.

In his “The Use of Knowledge In Society,” Hayek explained that information about supply and demand, scarcity and abundance, wants and needs exists in no single place in any economy. The economy is simply too large and complicated for such information to be gathered together.

Any economic planner who attempts to do so will wind up hopelessly uninformed and behind the times, reacting to economic changes in a clumsy, too-late fashion and then being forced to react again to fix the problems that the previous mistakes created, leading to new problems, and so on.

The financial problems that have rocked our economy over the last two decades are a perfect example.  Each, in part, has been fed by changes to the law and tax code designed to prevent the last financial scandal.

This became apparent when various large businesses responded to the enactment of Obamacare by taking accounting steps to reflect tax changes brought about by the new health care legislation. The additional costs created by Obamacare, conveniently enough, weren’t going to strike until later, after the November elections.

But both Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and Securities and Exchange Commission regulations require companies to account for these changes as soon as they learn about them.

The Democrats reacted with outrage, assuming this was companies slamming the plan the Democrats had so carefully worked through Congress.  But it turned out that the companies had to disclose this information.  A million experts working on healthcare and no one—conservative or liberal—saw this coming.

What else have we missed?  We’ll find out in a few years.

There are countless other example, of course.  My favorite is the law that paid paper companies $8 billion to increase their pollution.

The United States Code—containing federal statutory law—is more than 50,000 pages long and comprises 40 volumes. The Code of Federal Regulations, which indexes administrative rules, is 161,117pages long and composes 226 volumes.

No one on Earth understands them all, and the potential interaction among all the different rules would choke a supercomputer. This means, of course, that when Congress changes the law, it not only can’t be aware of all the real-world complications it’s producing, it can’t even understand the legal and regulatory implications of what it’s doing.

Government is not a precision instrument.  It’s a blundering Rube Goldberg engine.  It is good for some things.  Usually these things involve moving large piles of money around with little micromanagement.  But the more nuance and delicacy the task requires, the more likely we are to get that favorite libertarian thing—Unintended Consequences.  And it’s not because people are stupid or evil.  It’s because it is literally impossible to see the entire picture.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/12/10 at 06:25 AM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Eat The Rich … And Choke

A few months ago, the WSJ ran the numbers on the idea of eliminating our deficit by taxing the rich.  The long and short of it?  No dice.

Start with some rough arithmetic. The three million or so fortunate taxpayers whom Mr. Obama counts as rich are projected to earn about $27.5 trillion from 2010 through 2019, according to the Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank, and about $23.9 trillion after deductions. They are projected to pay $7.4 trillion in taxes. That’s 31.1% of every dollar of taxable income, on average.

To squeeze an additional $9 trillion out of these taxpayers would require boosting that to 68.9%. And that assumes these taxpayers wouldn’t find tax shelters to hide their income or work less. There isn’t enough money in the over-$250,000 crowd to stick them with the $9 trillion tab.

That was in September.  This week, Ezra Klein—yes, liberal Ezra Klein—concurred:

And this actually makes taxing the rich look better than it is. The deficit that people worry about isn’t the $9 trillion short-term budget deficit. It’s the mega-trillion long-term deficit. To put this in context, the 2009 deficit was 53 percent of GDP. The 2050 deficit is projected to be 350 percent of GDP.

What’s driving this, as you’ve heard at length, is health-care costs and demographic changes. The CBPP has a nice primer if you want to dig into it. But health-care costs and demographic changes are happening way faster than wage increases. There’s no tax regime in the world that can keep up indefinitely.

Defense spending and debt interest are a big factor, as well.

Ezra, of course, thinks that Obamacare will, eventually, start reigning in healthcare costs.  Without either rationing or consumer empowerment, that won’t happen.  The libs favor rationing, as argued forcefully in a recent NYT article.  Conservatives favor consumer empowerment.  God knows what the GOP favors right now.  Their interest in issues seems to go about as far as taking cheap shots at the President.

Returning to the main point, it is slowly dawning on the Left that they can’t tax their way out of this.  Here’s another article in the WaPo that says the same thing as the WSJ, only more so:

A study we conducted at the Tax Policy Center found that Washington would have to raise taxes by almost 40 percent to reduce—not eliminate, just reduce—the deficit to 3 percent of our GDP, the 2015 goal the Obama administration set in its 2011 budget. That tax boost would mean the lowest income tax rate would jump from 10 to nearly 14 percent, and the top rate from 35 to 48 percent.

Now to be fair, significant economic growth would reduce the necessary tax increases.  Federal revenues, by becoming so heavily progressive (see earlier post) are very sensitive to the state of our economy.  Indeed, a significant part of our deficit would vanish if the economy turned around.  But the fact remains that we can’t get our debt under control without spending cuts (and probably not without tax hikes as well, given our inability to cut Medicare or defense spending).

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/10/10 at 03:27 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Friday, April 09, 2010

Stevens Steps Down

Get out the popcorn and crack open a beer.  It’s appointin’ time again:

U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, the court’s oldest member and leader of its liberal bloc, said Friday he is retiring, which means President Barack Obama now has his second high court opening to fill.

Stevens says he will step down when the court finishes its work for the summer in late June or early July.

Stevens says he hopes his successor will be confirmed “well in advance” of the court’s next term.

With Ginsberg likely to step down soon, this means Barack Obama has the potential to have the largest impact on the Court since Ronald Reagan.  Of course, as I noted before the election, he’s going to be replacing liberal justices with liberal justices, unless the Left gets their wish and Clarence Thomas has a heart attack.  But the liberal wing of the Court, probably for the next twenty years, is going to bear his imprint.

Stevens is one of the more respectable members of the liberal wing.  I disagree with him most of the time, but some of his decisions (Lawrence v. Texas, for example) have been reasonable.  The Lawrence decision almost drifted into supporting the Tenth Amendment..

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/09/10 at 10:36 AM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Drop The Condom

Seriously, man. Whiskey.  Tango.  Foxtrot.  A Wisconsin DA is threatening to arrest teachers who obey the law and teach sex ed.

The state law, called the Healthy Youth Act, took effect in March. Starting this fall, it requires schools with sex-education courses to teach students medically accurate, age-appropriate information, including how to use birth control and prevent sexually transmitted diseases. It also requires the classes to include information about how to recognize signs of abuse and how alcohol can affect decision making.

Parents will be permitted to remove their children from sex-education classes, as they could under previous state law. Schools also will be allowed the choice of whether to offer sex education, but must notify parents if they decide not to.

In his letter, Southworth told school district leaders the new law promotes sexual assault of children, and warns that teachers who follow the law could be charged with misdemeanor or felony delinquency of a minor, with maximum punishments ranging from nine months in jail to six years in prison.

Look, we can argue about sex education in schools.  We’ve had that discussion many times and long-term readers know where I fall on the subject.

But this is taking it a step beyond politics.  What this guy is threatening to do is imprison teachers who obey a law he doesn’t like.  More than that.  If I read this correctly, he could potentially register them as a sex offender, destroying their education careers and pretty much their lives.  More than that, the implication here is that you could extend this even to parents who buy their kids birth control pills or teach them about condoms.  Read this passage from his letter, which is loaded with political statements that are unrelated to the job of enforcing the law.

Anyone who intentionally encourages or contributes to the delinguent (criminal) act of a child can be charged under this statute.  For example, if a teacher instructs any student aged 16 or younger on how to utilize contraceptives under circumstances where the teacher knows the child is engaging in sexual activity with another child—or even where the “natural and probably consequences” of the teacher’s instruction is to cause that child to engage in sexual intercourse with a child—that teacher can be charged under this statute.  The teacher need not be deliberately encourage [sic] the ilegal behavior: he or she only need be aware that his or her instruction is “practically certain” to cause the child to engage in the illegal act.  Moreover, the teacher could be charged with this crime even if the child does not actually engage in the criminal behavior.

In other words, if you know your kids are fucking and give them condoms to keep them from getting pregnant, you’re complicit.  I guess the best choice is to call the police.

In his defense, the age of consent in Wisconsin is, in fact, 16.  And my brief skimming of the relevant law is that, if two 15-year-olds have sex, that’s a crime and anyone who allows them to do so is aiding and abetting (someone with a legal background correct me if I’m wrong).  If that’s the case, he’s technically right.  So a big black mark on the Wisconsin legislature for not fixing this when they passed this education law in the first place.  They can take the wind right of this guy’s sails by simply amending their age of consent laws.

But to get back to bashing, DA’s have a degree of discretion in what they prosecute.  It is common for DAs prosecuting unpopular or stupid cases to proclaim that the law forces them to do so, but this is categorical bullshit.  The reason we have DAs and not computers deciding cases is so that they can show some judgement and not prosecute stupid, unjust or trivial cases.

Read the letter and tell me that there is not a menacing overtone to it.  This is a DA using the power of his office to bully and harass people into refusing to comply with a law he doesn’t like.  That’s not what the office is DA is intended for.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/09/10 at 07:48 AM in Right Wing Assholes  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Worst Video Ever

Liberal or DieFunny or Die has come out with a video that Matt Welch at the Best Magazine on the Planet describes as “possibly one of the five worst things ever filmed”.  I have to agree.  It’s like Battlefield Earth with Megan Fox in it.  With her clothes on the whole time.  And trying to “act”.  I mean ... beyond her usual “I’m not wearing a bra” acting method.

The mindlessness of this—indeed of all the protests against budget cuts going on around the nation—is amazing.  California is not cutting its bloated education budget because they are mean-spirited or want to give the money to oil companies or something.  They literally don’t have the money.  The state has been teetering on the brink of bankruptcy for a couple of years now.

If the walking dildos at FOD want somewhere to direct their wrath, try—hate to beat a dead horse—the employee unions and their pension program:

The state of California’s real unfunded pension debt clocks in at more than $500 billion, nearly eight times greater than officially reported.

That’s the finding from a study released Monday by Stanford University’s public policy program, confirming a recent report with similar, stunning findings from Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.

This year alone, California had to divert $5.5 billion out of their budget to shore up the pension plan.

How did we get here? The answer is simple: For decades—and without voter consent—state leaders have been issuing billions of dollars of debt in the form of unfunded pension and healthcare promises, then gaming accounting rules in order to understate the size of those promises.

Pension costs have grown 2000% over the last decade—no, that’s not a typo.  In California, you can work thirty years, draw your full salary as pension, then take another state job and, while still drawing your first pension, work on building a second.

Crane, the author of the LA times piece, says there’s no way out of current obligations and noted that Governor Arnold is trying to stop the bleeding by curtailing promises to current employees, as Illinois recently did.  This is true, as far as it goes.  But if the state goes bankrupt, those obligations may fall by the wayside as well.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 04/09/10 at 06:51 AM in Left Wing Idiocy  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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