Friday, February 13, 2009

"The American people really don't care, about those "little, tiny, yes, porky amendments."

From NYPost:

SEN.Charles Schumer took to the floor on Tuesday to sneer at public outrage over the trillion-dollar porkulus. "The American people really don't care," he said, about those "little, tiny, yes, porky amendments."

He punctuated his derision by pinching his pointer finger and thumb together. Only the "chattering classes" worry about such trivial matters, the New York Democrat scoffed.

Well, we are all "chattering classes" now. Congressional phones and fax lines have been ringing off the hooks all week with complaints from angry constituents across the country.
And just two days after Schumer declared that no one cares, the taxpayer group Americans for Prosperity delivered 400,000 petitions to the Senate protesting the behemoth bill. Those petitions were signed before the latest details of the House-Senate conference-report negotiations had been disclosed - and before any final legislative text had been made available to the general public.

If the stimulus plan were a Thanksgiving dinner entree, it would be a Turbaconducken - the heart attack-inducing dish of roasted chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey, all wrapped in endless slabs of bacon.

But, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's fantasyland "fact sheet" released yesterday afternoon, "there are no earmarks or pet projects" in the final package.

Thanks to Michigan's Democratic Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin,
General Motors will receive a special tax break worth an estimated $7 billion to cover liabilities incurred when it accepted its $13.4 billion bailout from the Bush administration.

The failing automaker has lined up for an addition $4 billion in bailout funds - at which time it will no doubt ask for another mega-tax-liability waiver. The moochers' cycle never ends.

Then there's Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's Railway to Sin City. Appointing yourself a Senate conferee has its perks. Roughly $8 billion in perks.
Reid, you see, needs to stimulate his re-election bid in Nevada, so he haggled with Obama to tuck in a teeny, tiny, yes, porky amendment for high-speed rail lines.
Reid has his eyes - and paws - on a proposed Los Angeles-to-Las Vegas magnetic-levitation train. He has already sunk $45 million in previous earmarks into his, yes, pet project. Wasn't it earlier this week that Obama was lecturing companies not to travel to Las Vegas on the taxpayers' dime?

But I digress. Along with these not-earmarks, not-pet projects, there's $2 billion for impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's pet FutureGen, near-zero-emissions power-plant project, $300 million for souped-up "green" golf carts for government workers, $30 million for "smart appliances" and $65 million for digital-TV coupons.
According to Hill Republicans, money for basic highways and bridges was cut by $1 billion from the House-passed level, but:

* $9 billion for school construction was added back in (originally cut by the Nelson-Collins "compromise").

* $5 billion was added to the state fiscal-stabilization fund (originally cut by Nelson-Collins), making it a grand total of $53.6 billion.

* $1 billion was added back for Prevention & Wellness Programs, including STD education.

* $2 billion was added for neighborhood-stabilization programs
. (more)

The Press Strikes Again: Woman Swims Atlantic- NOT

(Ok- I know I'm a little behind but I had this appendectomy see...)

No doubt you read the headlines on the AP wires: Woman, 56, claims record Atlantic swim and 56-year-old becomes first woman to swim Atlantic.

But no, not quite:

The AP originally reported that Figge swam from the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa to Trinidad (2,100 miles) in 25 days while escorted by a boat. She was said to have rested every night and hopped back in the water in the morning.
Figge woke most days around 7 a.m., eating pasta and baked potatoes while she and the crew assessed the weather. Her longest stint in the water was about eight hours, and her shortest was 21 minutes.

There were problems with the story from the start. A few of the less-important ones included the fact that Cape Verde is at least 2,400 miles, not 2,100, from Trinidad. And the African islands are about 500 miles off the western coast of the continent, meaning Figge had a huge head start on her trip across the Atlantic. (It'd be like somebody saying they ran across America after starting in Cincinnati.)

Those are trivial though. The real issue stemmed from the fact that swimming 2,100 miles in 25 days is impossible. (Some newspapers picked up on this.) It's infinitely more impossible when somebody only spends 21 minutes swimming during one of those 25 days. Michael Phelps swimming his fastest would take about 20 days to cover that distance. And that's his fastest pace, sustained for three weeks, without ever stopping. Impossible.

Yet, somehow, the AP ran the story even though a few seconds of thought and a pocket calculator was enough to disprove it. They ran a correction yesterday that read, in part:
Figge swam only a fraction of the 2,100-mile journey. The rest of the time, she rested on her crew's westward-sailing catamaran. Her spokesman [said] that her total swimming distance has not been calculated yet, but that due to ocean hazards including inclement weather, he estimates she swam about 250 miles.

Swimming 250 miles is nothing to scoff at; but it's not 2,100. To go back to the running-across-America analogy, this would be like driving cross country with a friend, and getting out of the car every ten miles to run one mile for the entire trip. That'd be an impressive feat, but nobody would ever confuse it with running across the United States. ...(more)

Our press is no longer the watchdogs they used to be or that we need...

Unstoppable Global Warming

As I've said before, when the computer models can predict next weeks weather then I might start listening to the models. Right now of course they can't model a "blocking high" or "el nino" so tell me again why we need to sink billions to thwart something thats very existence much less cause is so very far from clear? From FrontPage:

...That's right! Al Gore wants Congress to impose a tax that could be considered a tax on climate. He describes his new tax as "putting a price on carbon."

And, by the way, the new name for global warming is "climate change," acknowledging the fact that thermometers register downward trends as well as upward trends.

The warmest year in the past century was 1934, followed by 1998, 1921, 2006, 1931, 1999 and 1993. Four of the top 10 are from the 1930s, before auto emissions were a factor, while only three are from the last 10 years. As S. Fred Singer and Dennis T. Avery point out in their latest book, Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years (2007), "That there has been no warming trend in the United States since the 1930s seriously undermines claims that the effects of global warming are already being felt in the United States." S. Fred Singer is Distinguished Research Professor at George Washington University and is author or editor of more than a dozen books and monographs. Dennis T. Avery is a senior fellow at Hudson Institute and author of several books.

Most of those individuals known as "global warmers" have consistently relied upon the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as their reference point. The IPCC Report (1995) claims they've found a "human fingerprint" in the current global warming trend. Singer and Avery claim this term "human fingerprint" was inserted for "political not scientific reasons."

The IPCC Report was challenged as lacking a scientific basis on January 28 by a former chief of the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA), Dr. John S. Theon. He "slammed the computer models used to determine future climate, claiming they are not scientific in part because modelers 'resisted making their work transparent so that it can be replicated independently by other scientists.'" Dr. Theon was joined by Dr. J. Scott Armstrong, founder of the International Journal of Forecasting, in stating, "The computer models underpinning the work of many scientific institutions concerned with global warming are fundamentally flawed."

Citing procedures described in the IPCC Report they noted that there was no scientific forecast of the changes in the earth's climate. The only forecasts were based on the opinions of some scientists. An audit of the procedures described "clearly violated 72 scientific principles of forecasting," Theon and Armstrong said. In all the succeeding forecasts made by IPCC "scientists," the same 72 violations of scientific principles were repeated....(more)

About Islam: What the West Needs/Wants to Know

A couple of interesting posts highlighting both sides of the question above, over at MereComments. The first, "What the West Needs to Know" highlights an interesting film Islam: What the West Needs to Know. It has, I believe been out for some time though I myself have not seen it. I think it might be worth the purchase.

It was a rational and non-hysterical inquiry into the history and teachings of Islam. Major interviewees from inside Islam: Bat Ye'or, Walid Shoebat, Abdullah Al-Araby, plus Serge Trifkovic and Robert Spencer. It made a pretty compelling case for viewing Islam as much more than a religion but really a political/religious ideology for world domination. Any truces are temporary, never long-term peace arrangements. There are peaceful aspects to parts of Islam, it seems, that can be appreciated by those not interested in world jihad, but such "moderates" ignore what the rest of the Koran as a whole is said to teach. The more violet sections are from chronologically later periods in the life of Mohammedan, and the god of the Koran seems to say that if he makes a statement later on that contradicts an earlier statement, ignore the earlier one. Mohammed's decapitation of several hundred Jews sets the tone for much of the rest, a tone that still lives on in the fierce and hateful rhetoric towards Israel. I suppose that statements about peaceful Islam on the part of government officials here can only be seen as either ill-informed statements, weak-kneed appeasement sop, or (at best) as attempts to set down admittedly minority of Islam that we hope will be practiced b growing number of "moderates," even if it turns its back on the example of Mohammed, which one of the interviewees noted was supposed to the example of the perfect man. Individual Muslims can be very peaceful, indeed, but the ideology of the Koran is anything but.
The second posting highlights an LA Times article asking some questions of Islam:
...Here are five of them:

(1) Why are you so quiet?
Since the first Israelis were targeted for death by Muslim terrorists blowing themselves up in the name of your religion and Palestinian nationalism, I have been praying to see Muslim demonstrations against these atrocities. Last week’s protests in Jordan against the bombings, while welcome, were a rarity. What I have seen more often is mainstream Muslim spokesmen implicitly defending this terror on the grounds that Israel occupies Palestinian lands. We see torture and murder in the name of Allah, but we see no anti-torture and anti-murder demonstrations in the name of Allah.

There are a billion Muslims in the world. How is it possible that essentially none have demonstrated against evils perpetrated by Muslims in the name of Islam? This is true even of the millions of Muslims living in free Western societies. What are non-Muslims of goodwill supposed to conclude? When the Israeli government did not stop a Lebanese massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982, great crowds of Israeli Jews gathered to protest their country’s moral failing. Why has there been no comparable public demonstration by Palestinians or other Muslims to morally condemn Palestinian or other Muslim-committed terror?

(2) Why are none of the Palestinian terrorists Christian?
If Israeli occupation is the reason for Muslim terror in Israel, why do no Christian Palestinians engage in terror? They are just as nationalistic and just as occupied as Muslim Palestinians.

(3) Why is only one of the 47 Muslim-majority countries a free country?
According to Freedom House, a Washington-based group that promotes democracy, of the world’s 47 Muslim countries, only Mali is free. Sixty percent are not free, and 38% are partly free. Muslim-majority states account for a majority of the world’s “not free” states. And of the 10 “worst of the worst,” seven are Islamic states. Why is this?

(4) Why are so many atrocities committed and threatened by Muslims in the name of Islam?
Young girls in Indonesia were recently beheaded by Muslim murderers. Last year, Muslims – in the name of Islam – murdered hundreds of schoolchildren in Russia. While reciting Muslim prayers, Islamic terrorists take foreigners working to make Iraq free and slaughter them. Muslim daughters are murdered by their own families in the thousands in “honor killings.” And the Muslim government in Iran has publicly called for the extermination of Israel.

(5) Why do countries governed by religious Muslims persecute other religions?
No church or synagogue is allowed in Saudi Arabia. The Taliban destroyed some of the greatest sculptures of the ancient world because they were Buddhist. Sudan’s Islamic regime has murdered great numbers of Christians.
Instead of confronting these problems, too many of you deny them. Muslims call my radio show to tell me that even speaking of Muslim or Islamic terrorists is wrong. After all, they argue, Timothy McVeigh is never labeled a “Christian terrorist.” As if McVeigh committed his terror as a churchgoing Christian and in the name of Christ, and as if there were Christian-based terror groups around the world....(more)
Careful, I think there is a real journalist alive at the Times. Who knows what good might come of this...

Runaway 6ft rhea bird called Charlie terrorises village for 7 hours

From the Mirror:
I'm sorry- its funny. I mean between the naughty place names and attacking squirrels, its just plain funny. I really miss England.

But not to be outdone my next favorite country Austria comes along with this:
Farmer crams two cows in the back of VW Golf
but it turns out this is a fight between animal rights activists which brings about it's own "brand" of humor:

After this picture appeared in Austrian papers, the farmer who owns them spoke out about allegations of violence against animals. The Tyrolean from Kufstein district said he "acted out of love for his animals."

The man said he had converted his car especially for the purpose of transporting calves from his farm to the pasture or the local vet. The man even claimed police gave him the green light to do so when they checked his old Golf last year.

To calm down furious animal-rights campaigners, the farmer added he would only transport young animals in the car that did not weigh more than 80 kilos.

Asked why he didn’t use a trailer for such purposes, the man argued that the draft would be dangerous to the young animals’ health – and that they would be warmer and more comfortable in the car.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Pornography and the Courts

By way of Mere Comments an article on "global porning" and while, like one of the comments at MereComments I would disagree with the idea that the biggest problem the Muslim world has with us is our smutty culture, this article makes some good points, chief among them, the ludicrous position that, "The idea that pornography is “speech,” within the meaning of the first amendment, and thereby protected by the Constitution..." It also highlights the destructiveness of this material on society.
From Public Discourse

President Obama’s choice of David Ogden for Deputy Attorney General is not of concern to Americans only. The world-wide explosion of pornographic material, and its exploitation through the internet, is to a great extent the result of legal activism in the United States. Legal activism is a threat at the best of times—a way in which elites and special interests can circumvent the democratic process and impose themselves on the majority. In the case of pornography it also opens the way to a temptation against which ordinary people are inadequately protected.

Porn exploits the existing screen-addiction, induced by TV and the internet, in order to catalyze a far worse addiction, which is the addiction to vicarious sex. Psychologists, philosophers and social critics concur in the judgment that this addiction is immensely damaging, not merely in undermining family relations and exposing children and other vulnerable people to sexual predation, but in destroying the capacity for loving sexual relations. It is one of the great social diseases, and it is looked on with dismay by the majority—including a majority of those who are addicted to it.

Yet it is legal activism in America that has paved the way for the world-wide flood of pornographic material, and for the world-wide revulsion against a society and a culture that seems to find nothing wrong with it. The issue of pornography is therefore not just a major domestic problem: it is, or ought to be, at the top of the foreign policy agenda. For President Obama to be making overtures of conciliation towards the Muslim world—something that is certainly needed—while appointing to high legal office one of the most virulent advocates of a culture that poses the greatest threat to Muslim society is, it seems to me, indicative of a deep confusion—a confusion inherent in the essential negativity of liberal politics.

The idea that pornography is “speech,” within the meaning of the first amendment, and thereby protected by the Constitution, is so absurd that it is hard for an outsider to see how American judges have been persuaded to accept it again and again. Of course porn is big business, and can afford to keep beating at the doors of the courts. But the real reason for the legalization of pornography in America lies in the culture of the liberal elite and in the strategy of legal activism whereby that elite continues its relentless assault on majority values. Porn has been incorporated into the “culture war” precisely because ordinary Americans see it as a threat to family and religious values....(more)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

So much for a change in Washington

Stumbling out the gate: Barack Obama flubs his first big test.
From the NY Daily News:

It's not easy to waste a mandate and a honeymoon at the same time, but President Obama seems determined to try. You know he's off to a lousy start when his most favorable reviews came after he said, "I screwed up."

Did he ever, and not just once. If he keeps going this way, America will be saying, "We screwed up."

He's our President, it's a horribly dangerous time at home and abroad and we desperately need him to succeed. But he can't be successful unless he builds a broad swath of public trust in his leadership. So far, he's going backward.

It's very early, but it's worrisome that Obama has stumbled almost since he took the oath. His inauguration speech was uninspired and next to nothing has gone right for him. Already he looks like he needs a vacation.

The historic young President with the political wind at his back has quickly turned testy toward those who disagree with him. Despite promises to the contrary, he's been so rigid that the defeated Republicans are relevant again.

Obama's fumbled rollout is surprising, given a smooth and skillful transition. He appointed key players early, talked repeatedly of being ready "to hit the ground running" and was eager to get off to a fast start.

Maybe too fast. His vetting of top aides was shockingly sloppy, and he has been concerned primarily with the speed of the stimulus bill, not its contents. The failed vetting produced a string of embarrassments over tax dodgers and influence peddlers, and his embrace of the flawed stimulus has put him on the wrong side of the American public, with only about 1 in 3 voters with him.

Even more surprising, his famously cool temperament is AWOL. He has been visibly frustrated at what he calls needless delay, despite a rapid timetable given the whopping price tag of the stimulus legislation and the uncertainty of its impact.

He should genuinely welcome those who want to make the bill better. After all, there's never been much doubt he would get a huge package passed, so he doesn't need to make enemies over it. The only real question is whether it will succeed.

But unable to get his way quickly, he pulled rank with a snippy, "I won." When the Senate insisted on debate, he turned to harsh attacks and campaign-style rhetoric. Some insiders already are grumbling about disarray and arrogance.

So much for a change in Washington. ...(more)

Stimulus: $1 billion per page- It (Still) Won't Work

From AmSpec:

Everybody's saying it now, but just in case someone missed it the first time around:
Announcing the compromise Friday evening, Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania said:

"I think no one could argue with the fact that the situation would be much worse without this bill."

Really, Senator? "No one could argue"? Many certainly will argue with you, especially with your apparent assumption that "this bill" is the only possible response to the current economic crisis, and that we must either pass "this bill" or suffer the catastrophe about which the president has so direly warned.

The real problem with the stimulus bill is not that it is too big (although it is too big) nor its various objectionable ingredients (although many are objectionable), but rather that it is based on a false economic theory." The American people...did not vote for the false theories of the past," Obama assured his listeners Thursday. Yet the "economic recovery plan" pushed by Pelosi and other Democrats is nothing but Keynesian theory in postmodern drag, elegantly costumed by the Orator-in-Chief with a lot of glittering generalities about "modernizing our health care system...21st century classrooms...and end[ing] the tyranny of oil in our time."This plan is not a Change We Can Believe In and, as I wrote two months ago, before Obama was inaugurated, it won't work.

Peter Schiff says the stimulus will make us "a nation of paupers": ...(more)

What Is Congress Stimulating?

From WSJ, an excellent summary of all that I find distrubing in the so-called stimulas package- namely its the government that's getting stimulated...that and our local frisbie golf course...(no, I'm not making that last part up..)

...For starters, notwithstanding the new president's high approval rating, his stimulus bill (ghost-written by Nancy Pelosi) has been losing altitude with public opinion by the day. People are nervous.

Then after Tim Geithner scampered through the tax minefield and into a Cabinet seat, the Daschle tax bomb went off, laying open for public view the world of Washington's pay-for-favors that makes the average Wall Street banker look like Little Bo-Peep.

Conventional wisdom holds that the Republican refuseniks shot themselves in the foot by staying off the House stimulus package. Real wisdom holds that congressional Republicans should consider putting distance between themselves and anything Democratic just now. The party's crypts are opening.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, with an apparently recession-proof cash hoard, is running radio ads against 28 House Republicans. The theme of the ads is "Putting Families First."

Families first? The only family standing at the front of the stimulus pay line is the federal family. Read the bill.

Check your PC's virus program, then pull down the nearly 700 pages of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Dive into its dank waters and what is most striking is how much "stimulus" money is being spent on the government's own infrastructure. This bill isn't economic stimulus. It's self-stimulus.

(All sums here include the disorienting zeros, as in the bill.)

Title VI, Financial Services and General Government, says that "not less than $6,000,000,000 shall be used for construction, repair, and alteration of Federal buildings." There's enough money there to name a building after every Member of Congress.

The Bureau of Land Management gets $325,000,000 to spend fixing federal land, including "trail repair" and "remediation of abandoned mines or well sites," no doubt left over from the 19th-century land rush.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are getting $462,000,000 for "equipment, construction, and renovation of facilities, including necessary repairs and improvements to leased laboratories."

The National Institute of Standards gets $357,000,000 for the "construction of research facilities." The Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration gets $427,000,000 for that.

The country is in an economic meltdown and the federal government is redecorating.

The FBI gets $75,000,000 for "salaries and expenses." Inside the $6,200,000,000 Weatherization Assistance Program one finds "expenses" of $500,000,000. How many bureaucrats does it take to "expense" a half-billion dollars?

The current, Senate-amended version now lists "an additional amount to be deposited in the Federal Buildings Fund, $9,048,000,000." Of this, "not less than $6,000,000,000 shall be available for measures necessary to convert GSA facilities to High-Performance Green Buildings."

High performance?

Sen. Tom Coburn is threatening to read the bill on the floor of the Senate. I have a better idea: Read it on "Saturday Night Live."

Such as the amendment to Section 2(3)(F) of the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, which will permit payments to guys employed to repair "recreational vessels." Under Incentives for New Jobs, we find a credit to employ what the bill calls "disconnected youths," defined as "not readily employable by reason of lacking a sufficient number of basic skills."

President Obama is saying the bill will "create or save" three million new jobs. The bad news is your new boss is Uncle Sam. ...

...This is a chance for the GOP to climb down from its big-government dunce chair. Until that reversal is achieved, there is no hope for this party....