Right Thinking From The Left Coast
I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them - Isaac Asimov

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tonight’s speech by Obama on Iraq…

Tonight President Obama is scheduled to deliver a speech about the whole Iraq situation. Frankly I am intrigued at how the morons in the WH will try to play this. It seems all bad things they inherited from Bush, but this victory that clearly came from the efforts of our troops that these same grandstanding demcorats put in harms way with their actions and words, and the conviction of President Bush to fight it despite the fact that the opposition was trying to hand our troops another Vietnam-like loss - if you believe the talking heads that are predicting this - that the WH is going to claim is theirs. I doubt Obama will give credit to Bush for this, because that’s not his way. If he does, he will somewhere in there take it back and blame Bush. Maybe by indirectly brining up the liberal meme that Bush faked the intel, red meat for the morons that buy this crap, or some such other nonsense. I certainly hope he credits the troops. And of course he will play to his left wing moonbats and claim he is keeping his promise. The problem is that it will be all show, and we won despite of him and his party, while there is still a risk that we might be pulling out too soon.

The fact is that Obama was part & parcel of the donkey lineup that made the claim back when Bush’s team announced they would pursue the surge option, that it was going to fail. I do give him credit for not declaring it a failure before it happened like Reed did, or for slandering our troops or taking other actions to help the enemy’s cause like Murtha and other demcorats did, but Obama was one of the people that tried - real hard - to derail any and all efforts intended to support our troops and give them what they needed to win in Iraq. Obama made it a point during his campaigning – I mean before the election, not the continued campaigning they are doing almost 2 years after taking the WH and that is making everyone stop wondering if these morons know anything else – to say Iraq was still a failure, and that unless he was elected to fix it by pulling out the troops, things would get even worse. In short, this guy, while not going as far as many in his party have, was if not outright rooting for us to lose in Iraq, at least vested in making our efforts in Iraq look & go bad, for political and personal gain. And the troops at least seem to know that. Of course, I doubt the Lame Stream Media will bring any of that up.

Even more interesting, as I already pointed out, is the fact that most believe that Obama is about to likely claim he kept his campaign promise and that this withdrawal is due his work, when there is no doubt for anyone willing to do the leg work that the pullout going on right now was following Bush’s team’s withdrawal time table, set a long time ago, and the only contribution from the Obama team was that they didn’t fuck it all up in Iraq and pull defeat right out of the jaws of victory before now, as many of us suspected they would. My guess is that the LSM would go right along and hand him that credit. After all, he is their guy, and he desperately needs to be propped up, because the mood of the American people after seeing Obama & the progressive left in action these past 2 years is dour indeed, and November promises a massacre at the polls for the left.

Then you have the fact that Obama now is ramping up the fighting in Afghanistan, which promises to be a difficult and costly slugfest. I wonder if he and his team realize now why Bush’s team moved the fight to Iraq back in 2003. And this whole endeavor seems to be mired in doubt, what with all the talk of a fixed withdrawal table and all, despite the fact he has put General Petraeus whom immediately opted to go on the offensive and actually do some killin’ – hear much about that in the LSM these days? No stories of US troops murdering babies either, huh? - in charge of that operation as well. And then there is of course Iran, which I still feel Bush made a mistake not to deal with at the same time as they took on Iraq.

Say what you want, but tonight’s speech should be interesting. At least it should provide people with a lot to waste time on. Me, I bet it will be a lot of nothing, Obama grandstanding and campaigning, taking credit for other people’s work, blaming Bush as usual for his mistakes, and then the fawning LSM telling us how lucky we are to have this guy in charge. I sure hope I am wrong.

Posted by AlexinCT on 08/31/10 at 06:27 AM in Elections   Election 2010   Left Wing Idiocy   The Press Machine   War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Practice Bombs Are OK

What the hell, man?

Two men taken off a Chicago-to-Amsterdam United Airlines flight in the Netherlands have been charged by Dutch police with “preparation of a terrorist attack,” U.S. law enforcement officials tell ABC News.


The two were allowed to board the flight at O’Hare airport last night despite security concerns surrounding one of them, the officials said.

The men were identified as Ahmed Mohamed Nasser al Soofi, of Detroit, MI, and Hezem al Murisi, the officials said. A neighbor of al Soofi told ABC News he is from Yemen.

Airport security screeners in Birmingham, Alabama first stopped al Soofi and referred him to additional screening because of what officials said was his “bulky clothing.”

In addition, officials said, al Soofi was found to be carrying $7,000 in cash and a check of his luggage found a cell phone taped to a Pepto-Bismol bottle, three cell phones taped together, several watches taped together, a box cutter and three large knives. Officials said there was no indication of explosives and he and his luggage were cleared for the flight from Birmingham to Chicago O’Hare.

Once in Chicago, officials say they learned al Soofi checked his luggage on a flight to Washington’s Dulles airport for connections on flights to Dubai and then Yemen, even though he did not board the flight himself.

Instead, officials say, al Soofi was joined by the second man, Al Murisi, and boarded the United flight from Chicago to Amsterdam.

When Customs and Border officials learned al Soofi was not on the flight from Dulles to Dubai, the plane was ordered to return to the gate so his luggage could be removed. Officials said additional screening found no evidence of explosives.

I just flew to Australia and back.  During that time, I was patted down, forced to take my laptop out of its supposedly X-ray friendly bag, asked questions about my wife’s medicine and put in an X-ray backscatter machine that irradiated me and snapped pictures of my junk.  Read this story about TSA digging through a woman’s purse and accusing her of embezzlement because she had checks on her (note: TSA is not supposed to be screen for criminal activity).

And these bozos were allowed to board not one but two flights with a mock bomb in their luggage?  And they were then allowed to check their luggage on one flight while they boarded another and escaped to Europe?  The excuse I expect to be made is that they were flagged by TSA and their luggage searched and found to be harmless.  But you don’t let mock bombs go through.  That only sets the stage for them to try with real bombs and non-bulky clothing. I mean, what is a cell phone strapped a bottle of Pepto suposed to be if not a mock bomb?  Was he planning to call the bottle when he landed to make sure it was OK?

Stories like this make me really think our elaborate security screenings are so much anti-terrorism kabuki.  The illusion of safety is more important than the reality of it.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 08/31/10 at 04:41 AM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Monday, August 30, 2010

Back to the Past

One of the problems I’m having with so-called green technologies (which are often not so green) is that we seem to be going backward in terms of progress. Many of them are simply not up to the technologies they are replacing in terms of performance.  A perfect example would be the time I spent in Australia stumbling around half-lit rooms because the government has mandated the use of CFC bulbs.  They’ve come a long way but they still do not light up completely for some time.  And maybe it’s just me, but I think having well-lit rooms is a hallmark of civilization.

The same is true of other technologies.  My wife has a new Apple laptop and it’s far less stable and reliable than our old one.  Does this have something to do with the “greening” of the apple brand and the banishment of nasty evil chemicals like lead (see here for one of the drawbacks of the lead ban)?

Now we find out that one of the hallmarks of civilization—pest-free bedding, may be being sacrificed on the alter of environmentalism:

While worst in the Northeast and especially New York City, blood-sucking bed bugs are making a remarkably rapid resurgence worldwide.


But why are bed bugs back? Though they’ve been sucking humans’ blood since at least ancient Greece, bed bugs became virtually extinct in America following the invention of pesticide DDT.

There were almost no bed bugs in the United States between World War II and the mid-1990s.

Around when bed bugs started their resurgence, Congress passed a major pesticides law in 1996 and the Clinton EPA banned several classes of chemicals that had been effective bed bug killers.

I know you’re thinking about the DDT ban, but the DDT ban is a little overblown since many insects have developed a tolerance for it. However, malathion and propoxur do work. The EPA-approved chemicals don’t kill bedbugs; they simply stun the little bastards.  Environmental groups complain that the effective pesticides have known health concerns.  But there’s a tradeoff here.  Most people will accept a little health risk if it means they don’t spend their nights being attacked by vermin.

And therein lies the problem.  To the radical environmentalists, there are no tradeoffs.  Anything dangerous or icky has to be banned, whether we have a replacement for it or not.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 08/30/10 at 07:16 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

If Bush did this what would the media be saying about it all?


Have fun.

Posted by AlexinCT on 08/30/10 at 08:39 AM in Fun and Humor   The Press Machine  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Gun Porn

Just for the hell of it,
Great shooting and Great tunes.


Posted by HARLEY on 08/26/10 at 08:42 PM in 2nd Amendment  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Get the Lead out

I Love to shoot, when i get the time, it is in many ways a great form of release from the stresses of daily life. Sadly the cost of it is ever growing, the cost of ammo is on a continual rise, due to the prices of the metals used in production of ammo. Copper, Zinc, Brass, Tin and Antimony, are on the rise oh and now it seem that Lead, will be to.  It seem that our Imperial Federal government, via the EPA has decided that the lead, specifically used in ammo, is a danger to the environment.

With the fall hunting season fast approaching, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under Lisa Jackson, who was responsible for banning bear hunting in New Jersey, is now considering a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) – a leading anti-hunting organization – to ban all traditional ammunition under the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976, a law in which Congress expressly exempted ammunition.  If the EPA approves the petition, the result will be a total ban on all ammunition containing lead-core components, including hunting and target-shooting rounds. The EPA must decide to accept or reject this petition by November 1, 2010, the day before the midterm elections.

The CBD is pretty much your typical feel good environmentalist organization, with the admirable goal of saving wildlife from the ravages of man, at pretty much any cost. This group is so concerned about overpopulation, destroying the enviroment, that they are handing out Endangered Species Condoms.
Now this is just a petition from one organization, how much weight they carry with Lisa Jackson, is something I do not know, but you can bet your sweet ass that other anti-hunting and firearms groups will pile on this.

So what is the issue here?
According to the CBD:

An estimated 10 million to 20 million birds and other animals die each year from lead poisoning in the United States. This occurs when animals scavenge on carcasses shot and contaminated with lead bullet fragments, or pick up and eat spent lead-shot pellets or lost fishing weights, mistaking them for food or grit. Some animals die a painful death from lead poisoning while others suffer for years from its debilitating effects.
“The science on this issue is massive in breadth and unimpeachable in its integrity,” said George Fenwick, president of American Bird Conservancy. “Hundreds of peer-reviewed studies show continued lead poisoning of large numbers of birds and other animals, and this petition is a prudent step to safeguard wildlife and reduce unacceptable human health risks.”
American Bird Conservancy, Center for Biological Diversity, Association of Avian Veterinarians, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, and the hunters’ group Project Gutpile are asking for the ban under the Toxic Substances Control Act, which regulates dangerous chemicals in the United States.

With a error range like that one has to wonder how they conducted the estimation. I would assume that they took a few known deaths and multiplied it by a number of their choosing.
While it is true that animals some times consume lead shot, it is also true that many pass it and are unharmed, others once they get the taste of the metallic lead spit it right back out, it is not a pleasant taste. None the less, the source of the Lead that poisons the Condors can not be verified.
Lead, when consumed is dangerous I have not doubt that the hundreds of peer reviewed studies show that. As far as the Human race, we have gone on a crusade to ride the nation of Lead paint, and pipes. One often repeated myth is that Children got lead posing from eating chips of paint, when in fact, it was the inhalation of lead dust during renovations, that was the major factor.

From Wikipedia:
Ingestion of metallic lead, such as small lead fishing lures, increases blood lead levels and can be fatal. ingestion of lead-contaminated food is also a threat. Ceramic glaze often contains lead, and dishes that have been improperly fired can leach the metal into food, potentially causing severe poisoning. In some places, the solder in cans used for food contains lead. People who eat animals hunted with lead bullets may be at risk for lead exposure. Bullets lodged in the body rarely cause significant levels of lead poisoning, but bullets lodged in the joints are the exception, as they deteriorate and release lead into the body over time.

And yes that is peer reviewed too. Oh notice words like, can be, potentially, and may be.

As a hunter in California, compliance with the recent state nonlead ammunition regulation has been simple,” said Anthony Prieto, a hunter and co-founder of Project Gutpile, a hunter’s group that provides educational resources for lead-free hunters and anglers. “I still get to hunt, there is no toxic impact on wildlife or my health, and copper bullets shoot better.”

Shoot better? How so? Copper has a lower mass, which to any person that knows their firearms an ammo, know this means less range, less energy delivered and worst of all less accuracy.
Oh by the way Copper can be toxic too.

So how much of this horrible Lead is injected into the environment each year?

In the United States, 3,000 tons of lead are shot into the environment by hunting every year, another 80,000 tons are released at shooting ranges, and 4,000 tons are lost in ponds and streams as fishing lures and sinkers.

I wonder if they realize that a vast majority of the bullets fired at ranges is recovered and recycled? Lead is a commodity and is has value, no range owner in their right mind would pass up recovering that precious metal. 3000 Tons might seem like a lot but it is spread over the vastness of this nation,

Lead ammunition also poses health risks to people. Lead bullets explode and fragment into minute particles in shot game and can spread throughout meat that humans eat. Studies using radiographs show that numerous, imperceptible, dust-sized particles of lead can infect meat up to a foot and a half away from the bullet wound, causing a greater health risk to humans who consume lead-shot game than previously thought. A recent study found that up to 87 percent of cooked game killed by lead ammunition can contain unsafe levels of lead. State health agencies have had to recall venison donated to feed the hungry because of lead contamination from lead bullet fragments. Nearly 10 million hunters, their families and low-income beneficiaries of venison donations may be at risk.

notice the use of “can “ again.

This guy lived for years with a bullet in him. There are numerous stories similar to this and none of then that I can recall ever mention lead poisoning. 

Some studies have shown that hunters do not have elevated lead levels. Think about it. What dinner plate would have the most “harmful additives”? The plate of a rural hunter, or that of a suburban dweller?

The CBD helpfully cites alternatives to lead based bullets, such as

Non-toxic steel, copper, and alloy bullets and non-lead fishing tackle are readily available in all 50 states.

See here is the thing, all metals are toxic , it just depends on the amounts you are exposed to. Also You get a performance hit with the lighter metal bullets, and metals that are less malleable, such as steel, are banned or controlled due to their penetration abilities. You know Armor …..
Oh and another thing, those non-toxic bullets?
and again.
“Green" ammo
And more Green ammo. Which is vastly more expensive than the traditional ammo.
Copper bullets, which also is very much more expensive than traditional lead based bullets, are on the market, but due to the price, and performance hit, they have not flown off the shelves.

the EPA with out any congressional over-site, can unilaterally ban a entire class of commodity from the market., while claiming as they did with CO2 that it is a pollutant and needs to be regulated, you know for our own good.
IF this rule goes though it will cause a major uproar in the gun owners community. One part of this that particularly bothers me is Enforcement, will one just get a ticked and a fine,in the 100’s or 1000’s of dollars? Or will they get a 2 AM visit from the EPA swat team?
A major component of the firearms community is handloaders, men and women that reload their own ammo and cast their own bullets. What will become of them? Will this require them to turn in thier lead, stop manufacturing new cast lead bullets? What would the penalties be,and how will this effect the re-manufacturing market?

I would have to guess the people at the CBD dont give a shit.
The folks over at the CBD, are pushing a agenda that has no real basis in reality, it is simply another backdoor means to restricting firearm ownership.

Oh by the way the decision is due to me made on November 1, 2010…

Thoughts, comments?


The EPA has decided that, they do not have the authority to ban lead in bullets, but it can regulate the CO2 you produce from your daily activities.
So for now we win, but we must remain vigilant.

Posted by HARLEY on 08/26/10 at 08:40 PM in 2nd Amendment  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Take Me Out To The Cleaners

I am a huge baseball fan.  I have been since my dad took me to my first Braves game back in 1977 or 1978.  There’s little better than watching a game in one of the new beautiful stadiums. I can’t wait until SAL 11000 Beta is old enough to go.

That doesn’t mean I’m down with this bullshit:

The swindlers who run the Florida Marlins got exposed Monday. They are as bad as anyone on Wall Street, scheming, misleading and ultimately sticking taxpayers with a multibillion-dollar tab. Corporate fraud is alive and well in Major League Baseball.

A look at the leak of the Marlins’ financial information to Deadspin confirmed the long-held belief that the team takes a healthy chunk of MLB-distributed money for profit. Owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson for years have contended the Marlins break even financially, the centerpiece fiscal argument that resulted in local governments gifting them a new stadium that will cost generations of taxpayers an estimated $2.4 billion. They said they had no money to do it alone and intimated they would have to move the team without public assistance.

In fact, documents show, the Marlins could have paid for a significant amount of the new stadium’s construction themselves and still turned an annual operating profit. Instead, they cried poor to con feckless politicians that sold out their constituents.

I didn’t post this just because of my outrage against the duplicitous vile league division rivals of my Braves (whose stadium was mostly paid for by private contributions from Olympic interests*).  I link to this because it is an example of how our money-starved decrepit cities are victims of their own stupidity.  Check this out:

It is enough to stink. In the annals of bad stadium deals, it’s among the most odious, right alongside the Washington Nationals’ extraction of $611 million from the D.C. city council to get Nationals Park built. The team spent $20 million on a parking garage and pays $5.5 million a year in rent. So desperate was Washington to become the landing spot for the Montreal Expos, it ignored reality – there were no other legitimate options for MLB – and vastly overpaid.

Such sentiments are echoed when looking at the Marlins’ deal. One of the county’s loans is particularly egregious. According to the Miami Herald, J.P. Morgan gave a $91 million note – $80 million of which will go toward construction – that from 2041-47 will cost $118 million per year. In all, the county will spend $1.2 billion to pay off $91 million.

You know, I’m no financial whiz.  But it seems to me that spending $1.2 billion to borrow $91 million is a bit much.

There’s pork within pork here, including multi-million dollar “art” displays within the stadium.  Meanwhile, the arguments that stadiums stimulate the economy—Hey! We’re back on stimulus again!—have turned out to be bogus.  Right now, the Devil Rays are trying out this scam, claiming poverty to justify a public stadium.  In their case, it’s not quite as egregious since they have been spending some money since they became competitive.

This isn’t confined to sports stadiums, of course.  While their cities crumble around them, most city councils are interested in landing big projects with rich developers—be they stadiums, office parks, malls or rich condos.  The hum-drum business of keeping a city going just isn’t terribly exciting to politicians.  Bankrupting your people to finance rich guys’ playthings while abusing eminent domain is.  The problem really isn’t the sports team owners, who are just human.  It’s hard to pass up a $2 billion gift.  It’s the city councils and, by extension, the voters, who allow themselves to get bamboozled this way.

And frankly, I have a hard time believing that the authorities in Miami were completely ignorant of the financial state of the Marlins.  I mean, when we took out a home loan, my wife and I had to provide the bank with every piece of information about us except her bra size.  How on Earth does a $1 billion deal go down without the city knowing about the Marlins’ lack of cash problems?

My guess—it doesn’t.  The city just didn’t care.  It wanted its big project and was fine if the Marlins lied their asses of to the media and, more importantly, the voters, to make it happen.

One of the few exceptions to the starry-eyed “big project” mentality was my former hometown of San Antonio.  Thanks to strict term limits, the San Antonio city government was mostly interested in maintaining the city infrastructure, not engaging in big stupid expensive “projects”.  The special interests campaigned relentlessly against term limits—sometimes with the fairly naked rhetoric that SA needed to invest in big projects.  In 2008, the succeeded and I expect SA to promptly go downhill, probably after the drop a few hundred million on a new stadium for the Jacksonville Jaguars or something.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 08/26/10 at 03:51 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Heavy handed attempt to put lipstick on the ugliest pig ever…

The usual Lame Stream Media propagandists must be desperate to try and defend the close to $1 trillion dollar stimulus patronage bill known as the “The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” as this desperate and transparently vain attempt by Time tries to make this pig pretty proves.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 — President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus — has been marketed as a jobs bill, and that’s how it’s been judged. The White House says it has saved or created about 3 million jobs, helping avoid a depression and end a recession. Republicans mock it as a Big Government boondoggle that has failed to prevent rampant unemployment despite a massive expansion of the deficit. Liberals complain that it wasn’t massive enough.

Posted by AlexinCT on 08/26/10 at 11:45 AM in Decline of Western Civilization   Elections   Election 2010   Health Care   Left Wing Idiocy   Life & Culture   Politics   Law, & Economics   Science and Technology   The Press Machine  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Taking On Death, Inc.

The Institute for Justice is one of the evil libertarian organizations partially funded by the evil evil Koch brothers (see below).  You may remember them from two prominent lawsuits—on eminent domain (Kelo) and interstate wine sales (Granholm).  They lost the former, but have spurred numerous legislatures to pass laws restricting the process (although they need to get involved in the disgusting blight scandal in Montgomery).  The won the latter, which allowed interstate wine shipping.  However, Congress is trying to restore the wine cartels through the back door.

They’ve now found a new enemy—Death, Inc.:

Five years ago, Hurricane Katrina gave the Benedictine monks at St. Joseph Abbey a new calling.

After the storm pummeled much of a pine forest they had long relied on for timber and income, the monks hatched a fresh plan: They would hand-craft and sell caskets.

But now, local funeral directors are trying to put a lid on the monks’ activities. The state funeral regulatory board, dominated by industry members, is enforcing a Louisiana law that makes it a crime for anyone but a licensed parlor to sell “funeral merchandise.” The morticians are serious. Violators such as the monks can land in jail for up to 180 days.

“I don’t relish that thought,” said Abbot Justin Brown, head of the 107-year-old abbey, as he sipped coffee in the monastery on a recent misty morning.

St. Joseph’s 36 monks, whose pastimes include baking raisin bread for the homeless, are putting up a fight. On Aug. 12, they filed a lawsuit in federal court in New Orleans to try to overturn the state edict. In the filing, the monks argue that the state law violates their right to pursue a gainful occupation. “We’re not just going to sit back and let these guys bulldoze us,” says Deacon Mark Coudrain.

Penn and Teller have a great episode on the funeral industry and how they treat consumers.  So I’m not surprised by the reaction.  I think the IJ has a great chance here.  To enforce licensed markets, the industry has to show a need for licensing—think of amateurs doing surgery in the absence of medical licensing.  Unfortunately for them, the funeral industry’s attempts to justify their licensing is becoming laughable:

The regulatory board, naturally, “has nine members, eight of whom are funeral industry professionals”.  And the explanations of why the monks should not be able to sell caskets are embarassingly bad; the best the Journal could come up with, apparently, is this:

Boyd Mothe Jr., a member of the fifth generation of his family to run Mothe Funeral Homes outside New Orleans, says Louisiana’s law should remain on the books because licensed directors have the training to sell caskets--transactions he calls “complicated.” For instance, he says, “a quarter of America is oversized. I don’t even know if the monks know how to make an oversized casket.”

Because, you know, changing the dimensions on a box is really complicated.  Presumably it took the funeral directors years and years to learn the advanced technical skills--multiplication--involved.

Caskets are a high-margin items, turning over gigantic profits for their purveyors.  But you can’t got to court and say that.

The IJ is fighting the good fight, again.  Too bad their an evil shady organization funded by the evil shady Koch brothers.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 08/25/10 at 03:32 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

But Our Rich Guys Are Decent

I have some admiration for Jane Mayer. Her book The Dark Side is eye-opening on the torture regime implemented by the last Administration.  But she recently wrote an article detailing the evil Koch Brothers and their war against Obama.

The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests.


But Charles Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said, “The Kochs are on a whole different level. There’s no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I’ve never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times.”

The rest of it is of a similar vein.  It took me about ten seconds to see what was wrong with this, as Ira Stoll notes:

Charles Lewis is a left-winger and the Center for Public Integrity gets its funding from left-wing foundations including George Soros’s Open Society Institute and Barbra Streisand’s Streisand Foundation.

Bing!  Mayer addresses Soros briefly:

Of course, Democrats give money, too. Their most prominent donor, the financier George Soros, runs a foundation, the Open Society Institute, that has spent as much as a hundred million dollars a year in America. Soros has also made generous private contributions to various Democratic campaigns, including Obama’s. But Michael Vachon, his spokesman, argued that Soros’s giving is transparent, and that “none of his contributions are in the service of his own economic interests.”

This is absurd.  Mayer quotes the Kochs’ critics extensively, often anonymously.  But when it comes time to talk about Soros, she only repeats a quote from his spokesman.

And it’s a wrong quote.  George Soros waged a perpetual personal political war against George W. Bush and has funded tons of political organizations that masquerade as non-partisan but are, in fact, partisan as hell and often disguise their assocation.  Media Matters is a perfect example.  They are relentlessly partisan: you may remember in the ACORN scandal that they uncritically parroted the ACORN line.  They have claimed they are not funded by Soros but later admitted to back door funding from MoveOn and CAP.  Put the Kochs’ name on it and make Media Matters a libertarian watchdog and it would be a conspiracy.

Moreover, Soros has used his power and influence to make himself wealthy, as documented in Do As I Say, Not As I Do.  But since he supports left-wing causes, we shouldn’t look too closely.  A similar hypocrisy applies to the think tanks.  Ones funded by the Kochs are suspicious partisan organizations; ones funded by lefties are non-partisan public interest groups.

Stoll again:

Ms. Mayer describes what she calls “the Kochs’ subsidization of a pro-corporate movement.” But a lot of Koch-backed institutions would be more accurately characterized as pro-individual or pro-small-government than as “pro-corporate.” These think thanks and professors and groups were criticizing ObamaCare when the drug companies were backing it, criticizing TARP when the investment banks were backing it, criticizing the auto bailout when GM and Chrysler were begging for it, criticizing “clean energy” subsidies when GE and Ford were begging for them.

More relevant to Ms. Mayer’s work?  The libertarians think tanks were, for the most part, massively opposed to the wars and diametrically opposed to the torture regime she so ably detailed in her book.

The core of her article is the Kochs funding of libertarian opposition to climate change legislation, an effort that supports their own energy interests.  She has a point here, but massively exaggerates it.  For example, she says the libertarians promoted Climategate:

Cato scholars have been particularly energetic in promoting the Climategate scandal. Last year, private e-mails of climate scientists at the University of East Anglia, in England, were mysteriously leaked, and their exchanges appeared to suggest a willingness to falsify data in order to buttress the idea that global warming is real. In the two weeks after the e-mails went public, one Cato scholar gave more than twenty media interviews trumpeting the alleged scandal.

This is an amazing distortion.  Cato has been mostly quiet on Climategate with the exception of the “one Cato scholar”.  And that “one Cato scholar” who gave 20 interviews is, in fact, Patrick Michaels, who was specifically mentioned and derided in the leaked e-mails.  Michaels has not asked for anonymity.  The only reason to leave that piece of information out is to make it seem more dark and mysterious than it is.  And Michaels, incidentally, disputes the severity of global warming, not its existence.  Additionally, the chief climate commenter at another evil Koch-supported libertarian think tank—Reason—also accepts the reality of global warming.  However, both think tanks dispute statist solutions to global warming and do not accept the disaster scenarios peddled by Algore.  So that makes them Evil Climate Deniers.

The final onion in the ointment of Mayer’s thesis?  Has all this vile corporate money worked to stop the growth of government?  We have had a decade of unrestrained government growth in every direction, under both Republican and Democratic leadership, that has brought us to the brink of financial ruin.  If the Kochs’ support of libertarian causes is undermining our Republic, it’s doing an awfully subtle job of it.

Anyway, read both her article and Stoll’s response.  Mayer’s book on torture was well-documented and included first-hand non-anonymous interviews with most of the principals.  It was very convincing.  This?  It’s a thinking man’s Shock Doctrine.  I’m not overly enamored of the Kochs, who have run afoul of environmental regulations, among other things, and used their influence to reduce their responsibility.  I’m under no illusion that their motives for funding libertarians ideas are pure as driven snow.  But that could be said of anyone who funds political interests.  if you’re going to disagree with the thinks tanks, dispute their ideas.  Don’t try some nebulous one-sided guilt by association bullshit.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 08/25/10 at 03:01 AM in Left Wing Idiocy  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

A Traffic Apocalypse

A couple of weeks ago, there was much hemming and hawing because China’s GDP passed Japan’s.  However, I don’t think it’s quite time to panic about the chinese menace quite yet:

A massive traffic jam in north China that stretches for dozens of miles and hit its 10-day mark on Tuesday stems from road construction in Beijing that won’t be finished until the middle of next month, an official said.

Bumper-to-bumper gridlock spanning for 60 miles with vehicles moving little more than a half-mile a day at one point has improved since this weekend, said Zhang Minghai, director of Zhangjiakou city’s Traffic Management Bureau general office.

Some drivers have been stuck in the jam for five days, China Central Television reported Tuesday. But Zhang said he wasn’t sure when the situation along the Beijing-Zhangjiakou highway would return to normal.

Wasn’t this a Doctor Who episode?  Yes, I think it was.

Of course, we can’t claim to be that superior, since we have several cities—Washington DC most notably—that are pretty much perpetual traffic jams.  But I wonder when the people who go all faint and blushing over China’s environmental policies will freak out about this.  I mean, think of all the greenhouse gases!

Posted by Hal_10000 on 08/25/10 at 02:08 AM in Fun and Humor  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Darkness Warshed Over the Markets; There Was No Bottom


Existing-home sales were sharply lower in July following expiration of the home buyer tax credit but home prices continued to gain, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Existing-home sales1, which are completed transactions that include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, dropped 27.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.83 million units in July from a downwardly revised 5.26 million in June, and are 25.5 percent below the 5.14 million-unit level in July 2009.

Sales are at the lowest level since the total existing-home sales series launched in 1999, and single family sales – accounting for the bulk of transactions – are at the lowest level since May of 1995.

OK, not so eeek.  What has happened here is that the latest government housing stimulus program—the home buyer tax credit—expired.  So we went from the insane market in the tax credit regime back to a sane market.  It’s exactly like Cash for Clunkers—the program moved sales around rather than generating new ones.  Net economic benefit?  Minimal at best.

Yesterday, I got into a conservation with an Australian on the Gold Coast, who asked me if the American recession was really as bad as they say.  Australia’s recession has been comparatively minor.  Other countries, like Germany, are already booming sans stimulus.  So why is America lagging?

If you’ll put with my armchair economics, I think there are numerous reasons why the “Summer of Recovery” has been a dud.  A “stimulus” that poured money into political projects rather than broad economic gains.  The successive shocks of healthcare reform and financial reform—shocks that are still being felt as we find out what’s in those laws and various regulatory agencies have their say. I also think that much of the problem is structural—badly run industries like the automotive have been propped up for a long time, creating an ossified part of the economy.  For educated people, the unemployment rate is actually quite low.  It’s the less-educated Americans who are hurting the most because they are heavily employed in the government-pestered industries like steel and cars.  And our massive debt is making investment money pour into government bonds rather than industry stocks.

However, the biggest reason our economy is being slow to recover, in my opinion, is that we were at the epicenter with our housing market implosion. Much of the wealth the last decade supposedly generated was in housing.  It takes time to retrench the economy—think of us as experiencing a really giant hangover.  The problem is that the bullshit like mortgage adjustments and homebuyer tax credits have simply dragged out the pain.  They’ve been the hair of the dog in this economic hangover.  Thankfully, some of this is going away (although the Republicans, especially Isakson, are supporters of the homebuyer tax credit).

In the comments on Alex’s post below, I noted that while one might argue that the Iraq War didn’t cause the debt (although it certainly helped), you can’t consider it in a vacuum.  It’s the combination of various fiscal policies that were ruinous.  So it is true, even more so, of Obama and the economy.  A number of Obama’s decisions could be defended in a vacuum (although they were still wrong).  For example, Obama defended the auto bailout by saying we couldn’t let such a big industry collapse during a recession.  I didn’t agree, but at least it’s an argument.  And on it’s own, the auto bailout wouldn’t have hurt our economy that badly.  But it’s the combination of all these things that has kept the economy moribund.

Now that the housing sector shows signs of finally being allowed to unravel, now that the stimulus is winding down, now that further shocks to healthcare and finance may be behind us, it’s possible the economy could pick up.  This is especially true if the GOP retakes Congress and our businesses can relax knowing that sweet sweet gridlock has returned.

A few months ago, the Administration begin their “Summer of Recovery” campaign.  They thought the economy was going to bounce back and were prepared to claim full credit for it.  Now that it hasn’t happened, they are reverting back to to the “it’s Bush’s fault” line.  But Obama owns this economy now.  Every major decision affecting it has been his.  I suppose they’ll now fall back on the “it would be worse” line.  But I don’t see the American people biting.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 08/24/10 at 02:28 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Monday, August 23, 2010

The numbers don’t add up…

I just got back from a week of vacation where I played US government - I spent way too much money on feel good stuff that yield no actual benefits - and am now because of the time off, busier than a one legged man at an arse kicking contest now at work. But I felt I had to address something that came up during a conversation I had, with a bunch of obvious liberal morons defending the disastrous collectivist policies of the last decade that have reached new limits under demcorat and Obama control, when they blamed Bush and the Iraqi war for anything from $3-$5 trillion in deficits spending. The numbers widely varied apparently even for them, but I was stumped as to why they would be pulling these ridiculous numbers up until I realized the left still wants to make believe that the deficit spending is because of the Iraq wars and defense spending, and not because of the massive growth in wasteful collectivist spending by government. 

Posted by AlexinCT on 08/23/10 at 12:44 PM in Deep Thoughts   Elections   Election 2006   Election 2008   Election 2010   Left Wing Idiocy   Politics   Law, & Economics   The Press Machine   War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Sunday, August 22, 2010

We’re #!1!

Newsweek has an entertaining infographic ranking the top 100 countries in the world by education, health, quality of life, economic dynamism and political environment.  The US comes in at #11, Finland is #1.

What hurts the US ranking is health—which is ordered entirely by life span—and education.  But both ranking are a little bit silly.  The education ranking is based on literacy rate and average years of schooling.  We get hit because our literacy rate is 99% rather than 100%.  I actually think that ranking is, if anything, generous, given the poor performance of American students on international testing.  However, I would note that, if you have/use the opportunities available in this country, you can get an amazing education.  The American university system is far larger and more open than any in the world.

As for health being ranked on lifespan ... well, I’ve blogged on that before.  The infamous WHO rankings have us #1 in healthcare responsiveness.  Our lower lifespan compared to countries like Japan (ranked #1) has less to do with an evil healthcare system and more to do with an obesity rate that is ten times higher.

As for the countries ranked higher than us, they show a bit of the peculiarity in the rankings.  Finland is #1, but mostly because there’s no metric for “living in an ice cold place next door to a famously psychotic superpower”.  I can understand Switzerland’s #2 ranking; it’d be my top choice if I could live anywhere in the world besides the US.  Australia ranks #4—higher than us on education and health, lower on economic dynamism (the high political environment ranking was before they had a hung parliament).  And that’s without any bonus for the barramundi and chips.  That jibes with my limited time spent in Australia (now about four months over the last ten years).  This quality of life is high here but the overall wealth is a bit lower than what we experience in the US (and less concentrated).  My mother-in-law probably described Australia’s economy best—it’s about seven years behind the US.  So Australia 2010 is like the US 2003.  The trade-off is the greater security of a welfare state, a tradef-off the Aussies seems to be fine with.

Ranking at the ass end of economic dynamism and 71 overall is Sean Penn’s tropical paradise of Venezuela.  That doesn’t count for the quadrupling of the homicide rate in the last decade—a trend Chavez is trying to censor.  Michael Moore’s beloved Cuba ranks #50.  But in both cases, Newsweek is accepting, at face value, figures on education and health coming out of communist countries.  As we have shown extensively at Moorewatch, those numbers should be taken with enough salt to preserve a beached whale.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 08/22/10 at 02:44 PM in Polls and Surveys  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Most Transparent Government Ever

That’s what it says right on the label.  Just ignore the man behind the curtain:

For at least a year, the Homeland Security Department detoured hundreds of requests for federal records to senior political advisers for highly unusual scrutiny, probing for information about the requesters and delaying disclosures deemed too politically sensitive, according to nearly 1,000 pages of internal e-mails obtained by The Associated Press.

The department abandoned the practice after AP investigated. Inspectors from the department’s Office of Inspector General quietly conducted interviews last week to determine whether political advisers acted improperly.

The Freedom of Information Act, the main tool forcing the government to be more open, is designed to be insulated from political considerations. Anyone who seeks information through the law is supposed to get it unless disclosure would hurt national security, violate personal privacy or expose confidential decision-making in certain areas.

But in July 2009, Homeland Security introduced a directive requiring a wide range of information to be vetted by political appointees for “awareness purposes,” no matter who requested it. The government on Wednesday estimated fewer than 500 requests underwent such political scrutiny; the Homeland Security Department received about 103,000 total requests for information last fiscal year.

Two things that came in for routine scrutiny were requests about the stimulus and request about Cabinet members’ schedules.  The latter was after a FOIA request showed that Geithner was talking to Wall Street execs a couple of times a day.  This, of course, comes after the financial reform bill exempted the SEC to make sure that we, the unwashed masses, don’t find out if the SEC ignores warnings about the next Bernie Madoff.

I’m predicting this scandal, assuming there is one, follows the template used when the Clinton Administration illegally obtained hundreds of confidential FBI files on their political foes.  There will be some hearings, especially if the GOP takes back Congress.  There may be a fall guy.  And in the end, no one will know how this happened.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 08/21/10 at 08:35 AM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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