Sunday, April 29, 2007

The IPCC and reality - at odds?

An interesting post on global climate at A Dog Named Kyoto. Read it.
The following analysis was sent to me by an astute reader, who is also a geophysicist, who says that he prepared this:
"only using data that the IPCC agrees with; in particular the long term global temperature and CO2 concentrations back to 1856 which have been published by them in support of their AGW premise. (The IPCC has never disagreed with the lower troposphere temperatures from satellites they only have commented on the differences between the satellite data and the land based data.)

"The kicker is that when their own data is held up to physical reality it shows their entire premise to be wrong."
The emphasis and tables have been added by me. Here are the results of number crunching of the IPCC accepted data:

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Bureaucratic fiat

Canada's John Galt on a hidden Michigan tax-grab. At least it was hidden.

This comes as no surprise to those who recognize traffic laws are viewed by government primarily as a source of revenue.

...The state of Michigan has been aggressively, and often over zealously targeting businesses for "SUTA dumping". That is, by definition, the transfer of employees from one entity with a high experience rating for SUTA taxes to one with a lower rate. The Michigan Treasury has been targeting businesses, rightly and wrongly, with huge assessments under this premise, because they hope to get quintuple penalties if they can make the charges stick.

Willfully ignorant micro-management


You were probably too busy doing your job this week to attend General David Petraeus' Congressional briefing on the battle of Iraq. So was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi Won't Attend Petraeus Briefing

By JAKE TAPPER - AP

WASHINGTON, Apr. 24, 2007— As the House and Senate prepare to vote this week on the final conference report on the $124 billion troop funding bill — which would also mandate that U.S. combat troops begin withdrawing from Iraq on Oct. 1 at the latest — Gen. David Petraeus is scheduled to come to the Hill tomorrow to brief lawmakers on the progress of the recent troop escalation.

ABC News has learned, however, that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will not attend the briefing.

"She can't make the briefing tomorrow," a Democratic aide told ABC News Tuesday evening. "But she spoke with the general via phone today at some length."

A Pelosi aide said the speaker on Tuesday requested a one-on-one meeting with Petraeus but that could not be worked out. He said their phone conversation lasted 30 minutes.

Last week, House Democratic leaders were criticized by their Republican counterparts when they initially declined an invitation from Petraeus to brief House members on the status of the war due to "scheduling conflicts," as first reported by Roll Call.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, called the decision "irresponsible" and said it constituted a "dereliction of duty." But by the end of the day, Pelosi's office changed course and scheduled a briefing for members of the House for Wednesday, April 25.

The office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the senator would attend the classified briefing with senators on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
In your defense, it's probable you were not invited to this briefing, and that gives you an excuse unavailable to Ms Pelosi. She was, apparently, too busy lining up votes to undermine General Petraeus' mission, and considering travel arrangements for a return engagement with thuggish dictator Bashar Assad in Syria. Her recent visit garnered the approval of many foreign news outlets, for example The People's Daily Online in Communist China.

I'm sure Ms Pelosi also had to spend some time contemplating the meaning of "supporting the troops" with Harry "the War is Lost" Reid. Reid has a nuanced definition requiring some parsing.

Majority Leader Reid recently said that General Petraeus has already failed in Iraq. To his credit, Reid did attend the General's briefing, though he announced in advance that he would pay no attention to anything that contradicted his assessment of American defeat. Reid recently voted to put Petraeus in charge of the primary battleground in the War against Islamic terrorists, apparently because Petraeus also believes the war is lost. He explains this to CNN correspondent Dana Bash:

BASH: The phrase "the war is lost" really touched a nerve.

Do you stand by that -- that -- that comment?

REID: General Petraeus has said that only 20 percent of the war can be won militarily. He's the man on the ground there now. He said 80 percent of the war has to be won diplomatically, economically and politically. I agree with General Petraeus.

Now, that is clear and I certainly believe that.

BASH: But, sir, General Petraeus has not said the war is lost.

I just want to ask you again...

REID: General -- General Petraeus has said the war cannot be won militarily. He said that. And President Bush is doing nothing economically. He is doing nothing diplomatically. He is not doing even the minimal requested by the Iraq Study Group.

So I -- I stick with General Petraeus. I have no doubt that the war cannot be won militarily, and that's what I said last Thursday and I stick with that.

BASH: Arlen Specter, a Republican, but somebody who, in many ways, is like you, a critic of the president's Iraq policy. He said this. He said: "For men and women who are over in Iraq to have somebody of Senator Reid's stature say that the war is lost, it is just very, very demoralizing and not necessary."

Is there something to that, an 18- and 19-year-old person in the service in Iraq who is serving, risking their lives, in some cases losing their life, hearing somebody like you back in Washington saying that they're fighting for a lost cause?

REID: General Petraeus has told them that.

BASH: How has he said that?

REID: He said the war can't be won militarily. He said that. I mean he said it. He's the commander on the ground there.

BASH: But, sir, there's a difference...

REID: Are they critical of him?

BASH: ... between that and saying the war is lost, don't you think?

REID: Well, I -- as I said, maybe it's a choice of words. I mean General Petraeus has said the war cannot be won militarily.

Doesn't every soldier going there know that he's said that?

...BASH: You talked several times about General Petraeus. You know that he is here in town. He was at the White House today, sitting with the president in the Oval Office and the president said that he wants to make it clear that Washington should not be telling him, General Petraeus, a commander on the ground in Iraq, what to do, particularly, the president was talking about Democrats in Congress.

He also said that General Petraeus is going to come to the Hill and make it clear to you that there is progress going on in Iraq, that the so-called surge is working. Will you believe him when he says that?

REID: No, I don't believe him, because it's not happening. All you have to do is look at the facts.


"Maybe it's a choice of words," indeed. Choosing, that is, which ones to spin 180 degrees and which ones to ignore. Summarizing Reid's position: "General Petraeus agrees with me that the war is lost, so I do not need to listen to him any further."

"All you have to do is look at the facts." Reid has a made a choice here, too. There are facts he wants to look at - those involving possible electoral advantage. The Majority Leader and his faithful endian companion Sen. Charles Schumer have been observed in premature-self-congratulation about the seats they'll pick up in the Senate. It is telling that their partisan glee overrides minimal common sense. It may well be true that the war will cost Republican seats, but why reveal this cynical calculation? It may well be true that Democrat strategy depends on losing the war, but why make it obvious?

If you would like to be one up on both Pelosi and Reid, watch this "Pentagon Briefing 26 April 2007:"

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A picture is worth...
A million words isn't even a good start

"I want all of you to be safe. And please don't feel bad for us. We are warriors. And as warriors have done before us, we joined this organization and are following orders because we believe that what we are doing is right. Many of us have volunteered to do this a second time due to our deep desire to finish the job we started. We fight and sometimes die so that our families don't have to. Stand beside us. Because we would do it for you. Becasue [sic] it is our unity that has enabled us to prosper as a nation." - Staff Sergeant Marcus Golczynski, written a week before he was killed in action in Iraq.



DNJ photo by Aaron Thompson
LEWISBURG — A family, community and brothers in arms came together Wednesday to grieve for U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Marcus Andrew "Marc" Golczynski, 30, who was killed in Iraq last week.

Hundreds attended the Marine's funeral at the Church Street Church of Christ, sharing tears, laughter, song and prayer.

As 8-year-old Christian Golczynski accepted the flag from his father's casket, tears flowed freely from the mourners, and even Marine Lt. Col. Ric Thompson, who presented the flag to the boy, showed a trace of emotion.

"My Marc made the sacrifice for my freedom," said Heather Southward Golczynski, widow of the fallen Marine. "That is a debt I won't ever be able to repay."

Marc Golczynski, who had been a Marine reservist for 12 years, was shot by enemy fire March 27 while on patrol in the Al Anbar province, where he was stationed on his second tour of duty in Iraq. He was assigned to the Marine Forces Reserve's Third Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, Fourth Marine Division, Nashville.
Read the whole thing. Family, friends remember fallen Marine

Additionally, James Drescher has a few thoughts in a letter to the Tennessean:

Dear Tennessean:

The Tennessean's April 5 photograph of young Christian Golczynski accepting the American flag from Marine Lt. Col. Ric Thompson is one of the most moving and emotion provoking images I have ever seen.

My wife and I attended funeral services for Christian's father, Staff Sergeant Marcus Golczynski, on April 4, along with our six year-old son, dozens of Marines, and several hundred others who came to pay tribute to this fallen hero.

As one would expect, many of your readers were touched by this incredible picture. Staff Sergeant Golczynski had previously served one full tour in Iraq. Shortly before his death on March 27 he wrote to his family that he had volunteered to do this a second time due to our deep desire to finish the job we started. In his letter he said, "We fight and sometimes die so that our families don't have to." Tragically, Staff Sergeant Golczynski had only two weeks remaining on his second tour. We look at the photograph of Christian every day. It is displayed prominently in our home.

Our hearts ache for Christian and for all those who have lost loved ones in this controversial conflict.

Our nation is at a historical crossroads. Do we call an end to the struggle in Iraq or press on? Staff Sergeant Golczynski eloquently told his son how he felt about not giving up. Perhaps there is a lesson for all of us in this man's life and the choices he made. He was undeniably a man of tremendous courage and conviction. America must now choose whether to complete the job.

When looking at the face of Christian Golczynski I am reminded that doing what is right is not always easy and doing what is easy is not always right. Christian's dad knew that too.

James Drescher

Franklin, TN
More here and here.

It is possible to view this picture and take from it the idea that "supporting the troops" means getting them out of harm's way - immediately and unconditionally. If we had done so last month, Christian Golczynski would not be without a father, and Heather Golczynski would not be a widow.

What does not seem possible is demanding such a withdrawal before we can "finish the job we started." This soldier has spoken: "Stand beside us. Because we would do it for you." Yes, that would be supporting the troops; not to mention Christian and Heather.

H/T SAH

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Going Poddy

Welcome Right Michigan readers.

One of TOC's April 15th posts, Faux Pod, is currently appearing on "iPod Andy's Top 10 iPod blogs" compendium. <==Click that link to read the other entries.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I don't have to pretend that saying "The war is lost" is a way of "Supporting the Troops"

If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid believes what he said, then he must insist on immediately defunding the war to get the troops home. If he does not believe it, then he is giving aid and comfort to our enemies. The latter used to be called treason, now it's merely trial balloon propaganda and/or Reid is truly stupid. Pick any two.

Writing at City Journal, Andrew Klavan makes a related point that I connect with a recent Slate article by Christopher Hitchens.

Klavan's introductory paragraph from The Big White Lie:
The thing I like best about being a conservative is that I don’t have to lie. I don’t have to pretend that men and women are the same. I don’t have to declare that failed or oppressive cultures are as good as mine. I don’t have to say that everyone’s special or that the rich cause poverty or that all religions are a path to God. I don’t have to claim that a bad writer like Alice Walker is a good one or that a good writer like Toni Morrison is a great one. I don’t have to pretend that Islam means peace.
This is related to Hitchens' A Hell of a Country in a somewhat roundabout way. First, an excerpt from that article:
...Iraq was headed straight for implosion and failure, both as a state and a society, well before 2003. Not only this, but its Sunni ruling elite was flirting increasingly with a Salafist ideology. In such circumstances—as many Iraqi dissidents argued even at the time—the United States had to face the alarming fact that a ruined Iraq was in its future whether it intervened or not.

...Without needing or wishing to soften any critique of post-invasion planning, I would propose that this analysis [Ali Allawi's memoir The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace] has a highly unsettling implication. Hell was coming to Iraq no matter what.
A former Trotskyite, Hitchens is no neocon; and, signature iconoclasm aside, his continued admiration for Trotsky makes it difficult to grant him libertarian status. However, as a consistent supporter of fighting back against Islamofascism, Hitchens is one of the few with a far-left background apparently still capable of defining the word fascism. The rest of them think it rhymes with "Bush," and have no idea who Franco was.

The relationship between these writings? Hitchens is the only person with significant leftist bona fides who isn't lying about the war. He could have written Klavan's opening paragraph with the exception of a single word.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

"Let's Roll!" An existential challenge.

Would it be reasonable to expect students at Virginia Tech to have rushed the psychotic murderer Cho Seung-Hui?

This question has generated numerous reactions typified by, "You're dishonoring the memory of those who were killed by deigning to ask it." Some have said that, "not having military training is not their fault." This is true. Whether it is actually relevant is another question. I don't think it's the training they didn't have. I think it's the training they did have.

It is clear that far fewer people would have died in Virginia Tech classrooms had the reaction of some students been similar to Todd Beamer's and others on Flight 93.
Not dying quietly has become the predisposition of every American airline passenger. The question about VT students' reaction to similar shock is therefore worth asking. Is asking it an insult to the dead at Virginia Tech? I don't think so.

There are reports that some students actually took effective defensive measures; they locked their classroom doors. The majority, however, seem to have been unprepared for the idea that evil might intersect their campus experience. To point this out is not to dishonor them, it is not their fault.

Unlike Virginia Tech professor Liviu Librescu, who died defending his students, the students themselves had mostly never seriously contemplated the problem of evil. They had been encouraged to suspend their own judgment (being non-judgmental is an absolute virtue), and to consider all cultural mores to be equivalent (multi-culturalism is an ultimate goal). They had probably never considered that this mantra excuses ritual incest and cannibalism, or that it equates video taping beheadings committed by religious "zealots" with civil objections to partial birth abortion. America goes to some trouble to ensure its public school graduates cannot think intelligently about ethics.

A survivor of both the holocaust and communism, Professor Librescu was less troubled by these faux-uncertainties. He knew that evil is omnipresent, and that failure to confront it has poor outcomes: Israeli professor killed in US attack. Librescu lived with a different world view than did most of the students who were murdered. This is a sad comment on how the rest of us have failed those students.

It wasn't the students' fault they did not respond appropriately to an existential threat. Most were applying what they've been taught. These teachings are exemplified by the pride Virginia Tech's administrators took having a "gun free" campus, and by the indoctrinal moral relativism to which any public high school graduate is necessarily exposed. The ability to concretize "rushing this gunman and pummeling him comatose," was frustrated by a
subconscious question something like this: "The United States of America is responsible for a long series of atrocities - unprecedented in world history. The sane of the world hate us for it. Therefore, how can we be sure Cho Seung-Hui is not right to shoot us?"

This is the message of MoveOn, the Daily Kos, Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, Harry Reid and the majority of teachers to whom these students' education had been entrusted. It was, not coincidentally, the posthumous message of
Cho Seung-Hui.

Most VT students weren't ready to defend their own lives because they could not believe their lives were at risk. This evil could not be happening, and if it was, many of them couldn't avoid the subconscious possibility that they deserved it.

Please read Mark Steyn on this same topic: Let's be realistic about reality. An excerpt;

I've had some mail in recent days from people who claimed I'd insulted the dead of Virginia Tech. Obviously, I regret I didn't show the exquisite taste and sensitivity of Sen. Obama and compare getting shot in the head to an Imus one-liner. Does he mean it? I doubt whether even he knows. When something savage and unexpected happens, it's easiest to retreat to our tropes and bugbears or, in the senator's case, a speech on the previous week's "big news." Perhaps I'm guilty of the same. But then Yale University, one of the most prestigious institutes of learning on the planet, announces that it's no longer safe to expose twentysomething men and women to ''Henry V'' unless you cry God for Harry, England and St. George while brandishing a bright pink and purple plastic sword from the local kindergarten. Except, of course, that the local kindergarten long since banned plastic swords under its own "zero tolerance" policy.

I think we have a problem in our culture not with "realistic weapons" but with being realistic about reality. After all, we already "fear guns," at least in the hands of NRA members. Otherwise, why would we ban them from so many areas of life? Virginia Tech, remember, was a "gun-free zone," formally and proudly designated as such by the college administration. Yet the killer kept his guns and ammo on the campus. It was a "gun-free zone" except for those belonging to the guy who wanted to kill everybody. Had the Second Amendment not been in effect repealed by VT, someone might have been able to do as two students did five years ago at the Appalachian Law School: When a would-be mass murderer showed up, they rushed for their vehicles, grabbed their guns and pinned him down until the cops arrived.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Michigan's budget deficit

Over at Right Michigan, natebailey examines how other States are handling their budget deficits. Maybe we can learn something helpful, right?
With Michigan's massive budget deficit becoming an ever-growing problem, and the number of "solutions" growing as quickly as the deficit itself, it seems as if this state is in need of some guidance. Where better to look than to how other states are solving their budget shortfalls.
Read the whole thing: Much Ado About Deficits. You will learn something.

The National Conference of State Legislatures provided the fodder for Nate's post. Note the sub-head.

State Budgets Post Gains in FY 2007
Revenues eclipse estimates in most states, but sales tax growth slows

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Saddam and Al-Qaeda - Connected at the hip

This isn't exactly news, unless your primary information source is the MSM. If that is the case, you've never heard it.
What Happened To 'Follow The Money'?

MSM and Libs lied -- Iraq and A-Q were tied!

In any event, the Saddam/Al-Qaeda connection is not the fever dream of a bunch of Bush administration neo-cons, it is the unfullfilled dream of Saddam and Osama.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Bunkum

Don Imus' secret agenda revealed.
The sacking of Don Imus: The rise (and fall) of the shock jock
The right-wing US broadcasters who fill the air with invective operate way beyond the conventions of good taste. But now one of them has gone too far

By Andrew Buncombe
Published: 14 April 2007
Apparently I had Don Imus' political orientation all wrong and so did Imus.

The reaction to Imus' recent repetition of
a commonly heard black cultural riff, though typical of his entire sorry career, has been instructive. Some say the market made the decision that Imus should be fired. I wonder though, if the tiny Imus audience would have abandoned him. My suspicion is that they would not have, so the advertiser dollars would have reached the same number of people pre and post the incidence of boot-in-mouth disease.

I suspect the market was getting ready to speak, but it never actually had the opportunity. This would take a month or three. The indignation from indignitaries like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson was joined by Barack Obama. When Presidential candidates start calling for a talk show host's firing it makes me wonder what they think the First Amendment is about.

Ironically, Imus is a leftist being excoriated by the left for exercising free speech. I recall the Left's protests that the Dixie Chicks were being "censored" when they were, in fact, just being boycotted. No one shook down the record company executives, they just ran over Dixie Chicks CDs with their pickup trucks.

It shouldn't depend on who it is that's speaking, but it seems to. People who own pickup trucks are idiots if they react to the free speech of the Dixie Chicks, old white males are pariahs if they repeat the common phrases of black millionaires in the "music" industry.

The ACLU is protecting the right of NAZIs to march in black neighborhoods, but they are silent on Imus being attacked by black fascists. Can the ACLU can only respect the speech rights of fascists? Imus should be an ACLU poster child. He's left-wing, and he simply echoed popular culture. He mouthed something that certainly hasn't bothered Al Sharpton, or the ACLU, in a decade. Sharpton, a poster child of another sort, has easily acquiesed to the idea that black rappers should not be held to standards he demands of others.

What Sharpton is proposing is that whites, by virtue of their pigmentation, do not possess the moral authority to even mention black on black racism. Sharpton says we need to regulate what is going on on the airwaves. Bill Cosby says, "I'm looking at you Detroit. It's not what they're doing to us, it's what you're not doing." The difference is that Sharpton makes his money from perpetuating the portrayal of blacks as victims.

Strong, successful, self-confident - and arguably privileged persons - of any color or sex should not be seen weeping about having their lives ruined by some marginal idiot's speech. It makes them look like victims instead of champions; wimps instead of winners. The Rutgers women could have just said, "Up yours, Imus. You're a blathering fool not worthy of attention, as your audience demonstrates." They'd rather be victims, it seems. Sharpton says, "Assume the position." and they do.

This is unfortunate timing, though. If collegiate athletes' lives have been ruined lately by racist posturing, I'd say the Duke lacrosse team could make a better case. The reason I mention it is because Al Sharpton is a central figure there, too, and he hasn't apologized to anybody. He can't. It might reduce funding. His market is of a different sort than Imus'.

I'm indifferent to whether Don Imus has a radio show or not. What he said was despicable, and I'd have fired him. I'd fire Rosie O'Donnel, too. But, unlike Al, I'm not in charge.

The point is that if 350K people still wanted to listen to Imus, the First Amendment says they can. I think that point got lost, and the collective market indignation that might have been brought to bear on, say, the ACLU/NAZI alliance in Cinncinnati seems to have dissipated. Too bad the ACLU does not have an identifiable radio show.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Michigan Feminist History

Not a lot to it, apparently.

Faux Pod

The Lansing State Journal reports that Michigan Democrat House Leader Andy Dillon wants the "iPod for every school-child" initiative to wait until the budget is settled. See TOC's Circumspice for more on this and other aspects of Michigan's economy.

Let us state it simply: Dillon wants to discuss adding $38 million in spending ONLY AFTER the billion dollar budget deficit is solved. Then it would only be a piddling $38 million dollar deficit? Clearly, he can't remember how Michigan got into a budget crisis in the first place.

Published April 13, 2007
[ From Lansing State Journal ]
Dems back off iPod for every student plan
House leader says initiative will wait until budget settled

Tim Martin
Associated Press

House Democrats tried to derail a distracting controversy Thursday, saying a statement made last week about providing iPods for Michigan students had been misconstrued and was diverting focus from the state's budget crisis.

Democrats, at least for now, say they aren't considering providing an iPod or MP3 player for Michigan students. House Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford, said in a statement this week the initiative can't be pursued until the state has settled its budget problems.

Democrats also said Dillon and the two other Democratic state lawmakers who earlier this year visited Apple Inc., the iPod's maker, now will pay for the trips themselves.

The iPod idea first surfaced last week during a budget-related press conference held by House Democrats. Rep. Matt Gillard, D-Alpena and chairman of the House subcommittee overseeing K-12 school budgets, discussed a $38 million "21st Century Learning Environments" plan.

He also pulled out an iPod and said "we want this in the hands of every student in the state of Michigan."

Rep. Tim Melton, D-Auburn Hills, denied Thursday that there was ever a plan to provide iPods for Michigan students.

Melton also said Democrats, including Dillon, were disappointed the iPod issue came to dominate media coverage.

Dillon was not at Thursday's news conference.

Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis said in a statement that Thursday's comments by Melton "failed to put to rest the most serious concerns Michigan citizens have about this proposal."

Apple at least partly paid for Dillon, Melton and Gillard to visit its California headquarters earlier this year.

On Thursday, Melton said the lawmakers will pay the price of that trip - $1,702 each - out of their own pockets.
Emphasis mine. To recapitulate: One guy pulls an iPod out of his pocket to illustrate "the plan." He's the chairman of the House subcommittee overseeing K-12 budgets. Another guy denies there was ever any plan for government funded iPods. The Speaker is nowhere to be found at the spin conference, but he later says we need to get the budget settled before we discuss adding $38 million to it for the iPod program. A bunch of these guys tell us the iPod idea is diverting focus from the budget problem. Apple paid at least part of the cost for several of these guys to visit Apple HQ earlier this year. These guys are all Democrats.

Which Democrat can you believe? Maybe it's t
he leadership of the MEA. A political party could not be so tone deaf as to mention such a stupid expenditure unless it were viewing the world through the eyes of the major lobby to which it is beholden.

I own a small amount of AAPL stock, and I could benefit, albeit with a clear conscience, maybe as much as the Democrats who visited Cupertino were Michigan to buy $38 million worth of iPods. However, I am also a taxpayer and a Libertarian. As such, I agree with the rhetorical question asked by the Detroit News: An iPod for every kid? Are they !#$!ing idiots? You'll find a link to that here.

Right Michigan has two additional insights on this story. One is funny, the other shows that the Dems know how badly they screwed up, and how much they want to distance themselves from what they said. Nonetheless, they keep talking. What is needed is an MEA spokesperson to explain why Ipods are necessary to public education in Michigan. Don't hold your breath, now they can ask for $19 million for pension funding and it'll look like a bargain.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

We need hate crime legislation

Updated and bumped.

...because, all these otherwise legal acts would go unpunished, unnoted and unremarked.

See, I don't even understand how something can be a "hate crime" if it isn't, first, a crime. It might be a hate social-gaffe or a hate fit-of-pique, but placing bacon in a Koran does not, by definition, rise even to the level of misdemeanor in a country where flags and Bibles can be intentionally burned under the protection of the First Amendment.

If book baconing is being investigated as a hate crime in Tennessee, one wonders how playing a sport involving an oblate spheroid fashioned from pigskin can be allowed. After all, the molecules of porcine epidermis dislodged during the game may easily drift into contact with a Koran - or even an Islamist.

I think the problem might actually be hatred of pigs. And PETA should be looking into it.

H/T Gates of Vienna


Update: 6:14PM 12-April-07

A) It has been pointed out that footballs are not covered in pigskin. After admittedly cursory research I am prepared to accept that they are called "pigskins" because early on they were actually pig's bladders. However, this is the only reference my brief search turns up, so I'm not going to bet on it.

In any case, let us substitute the manufacture, transport, sale and consumption of pork rinds. This emits many more piggy particles into the wind in any case.

B) I've been asked whether it should be considered a "hate" crime if someone wrapped a Torah in pork chops and left it on the steps of an Orthodox synagogue.

We do call the painting of swaztikas on synagogues a "hate" crime, for example. Let it be noted I find that definition of "hate" crime equally objectionable.

The crimes in the case of swaztika painting would seem to be trespass and property damage. That is, you could fry Torahs in bacon fat all you want in your own kitchen, and you could decorate your living room in swaztikas - just don't deface other people's property. Spray paint a Star of David instead.

The analogous question to bacon bookmarks in a Koran would be Torah Rumaki. Would this be a crime if it were placed on a synagogue's property? Is that trespass? Whatever the answer, the same rules should apply to a mosque. Or your yard.

If it is trespass, should it be elevated to "hate" crime status - i.e., penalties increased by several orders of magnitude - because of the special sensitivities of the property owners? I don't think so. For example, I suspect the reaction of the orthodox Jews in the example above would be less hysterical than these Islamists. It would probably be even more laid back than Christians' reactions to Piss Christ being displayed in a public venue.

Finally, if violating the separation of Koran and bacon is a "hate" crime because it offends Muslim sensibilities, I'd like someone to seriously consider whether the "flying" Imams of Minneapolis fame committed "hate" crimes when they deliberately set out to frighten the other passengers in a public place.

It does seem like Minnesota is the center of efforts to bring Sharia to the United States. Here's the latest.

Under Sharia, defacing the Koran would certainly merit the death penalty.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

No 2nd Amendment? No Giuliani.

TOC has expressed skepticism regarding Rudy Giuliani's support for the Second Amendment here and here. Particularly, we have accused him of being the progenitor of Mayor Bloomberg's illegal entrapment operations outside the bounds of New York City.

Reason magazine demonstrates that Bloomberg's activities are indeed Giuliani's legacy. Read the whole thing, but here are some excerpts.

Despite his promise to appoint "strict constructionists" to the Supreme Court if he is elected president, Rudy Giuliani recently said he has no interest in overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that discovered a previously unnoticed constitutional right to abortion. Offending social conservatives (and strict constructionists) even further, he told CNN this constitutional right may require government financing of abortions for women who otherwise cannot afford them.

Since Giuliani also claims to support "the right to bear arms" (a right that is actually mentioned in the Constitution), he should, by similar logic, advocate the use of taxpayer money to buy guns for poor people. But the idea would never occur to him, because his sudden interest in the Second Amendment, like his sudden interest in strict constructionism, is merely an affectation intended to allay the concerns of Republican primary voters.

...Giuliani sought to impose restrictions throughout the country indirectly by filing a lawsuit that blames firearm manufacturers and distributors for criminal use of their products. The suit demands changes in the way guns are made and sold that would affect their cost and availability nationwide.

Giuliani explained the rationale for the lawsuit during a June 2000 radio show: "We are dealing with a problem that is foisted on the city by the rest of the country....95 percent of the guns in New York City can be traced to someplace outside the city...A lot of the problems in New York City are caused by very, very lax regulations...outside the city." So much for letting each city or state go its own way on gun control.
Sorry, Rudy. You won't get my vote.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Soon enough, soon enough


Al's chickens coming home to roost

Circumspice


The Detroit News comments on the Michigan Democrats' plan to give an iPod™ to every school child in Michigan. I guess this is the scaled down version of their 2005 plan to give every child a laptop. We are, after all, facing a budget crisis.

Maybe if we can persuade our legislators to wait another 2 years before they execute, we can get the proposal scaled down to an iTunes™ gift card and assistance from Michigan Works finding employment in another state upon graduation.

An iPod for every kid? Are they !#$!ing idiots?

We have come to the conclusion that the crisis Michigan faces is not a shortage of revenue, but an excess of idiocy. Facing a budget deficit that has passed the $1 billion mark, House Democrats Thursday offered a spending plan that would buy a MP3 player or iPod for every school child in Michigan.

...Their plan goes beyond cluelessness. Democrats are either entirely indifferent to the idea that extreme hard times demand extreme belt tightening, or they are bone stupid. We lean toward the latter.

We say that because the House plan also keeps alive, again without specifics, the promise of tax hikes.
A government issued iPod for every school child is a profoundly stupid idea, but the damage from such folly is mainly that it serves to reinforce the MEA's hegemony. There are much worse things being done in a bi-partisan spirit.

The Wall Street Journal, in the person of David L. Littman, formerly chief economist of Comerica Bank, comments more generally on Michigan's economic woes and the constant maneuvering of the education lobby.

Restarting Michigan's Economy (subscription)

… for much of the 20th century, Michigan was a model of prosperity, a magnet for human capital -- attracting and retaining a critical mass of world-renowned engineers and entrepreneurs -- and seemed destined to be an economic engine for the nation. But then came the 1970s and the state has been sputtering ever since. Today, a deep fog has settled over a once bright business climate.

… Underpinning this downturn are a few economic myths that must be dispelled. Perhaps the most pernicious myth is that Michigan is caught in a cyclical recession.

… Michigan is not in a cyclical decline. Quite the contrary. Vehicle sales in the U.S. have averaged 17 million units over the past five years. Our decline has been a trend, a steady downward slide.

… Another myth: that Michigan's business climate ranks in the middle of the pack among the 50 states. This ignores the fact that Michigan's private sector is contracting compared to the expanding tax bases of every other state.

The economic fog will lift when policies are enacted that make Michigan a good place to do business for newcomers as well as for existing firms. This won't happen if the legislators in Lansing, the state capital -- who advocate heavier tax burdens on the remaining taxpayers to subsidize or attract firms handpicked by government officials -- get their way. These targeted subsidies simply redistribute scarce income. Nor is the governor, Jennifer Granholm, moving in the right direction. Her recent call to impose a 2% tax on most services is a nonstarter. But she's also calling for a new tax on the estates of wealthy residents, giving those with the means an even more urgent reason to leave. Michigan's slide will continue.

Two fundamental reforms are essential if the state is to make a comeback. Michigan was a formidable competitor prior to 1967, when the state had no personal income tax. Why not return to these days by abolishing the state's 3.9% personal income tax and replace it with nothing? … If Florida and Texas -- two of the fastest growing states in the union -- can survive without income taxes, Michigan can too.

Second, it's time for Lansing to pass right-to-work legislation, which would allow workers to take a job without also being forced to join a union. There are 22 other states with such laws on the books and those states are often the most competitive for new Toyota, Honda and other auto-manufacturing plants that are creating thousands of new jobs.

… When will this change? State economic prospects are difficult to predict because organized labor -- the public education lobby in particular -- now controls most tax-and-spend policy levers. Michigan's education lobby pressures the governor to pass higher sales taxes to be funneled into public schools: Pre-schooling, K-12 and 15 public universities. But the notion that tax hikes will give us a more educated work force, and therefore offer a competitive salvation, is probably the easiest myth to dispel. Michigan education budgets have experienced meteoric increases over the past two decades, but quality has not risen; nor has the plethora of funding stopped the outflow of Michigan's most capable graduates.
Littman mentions the corporate welfare industry - typified by tax giveaways, subsidies, free land and other concessions to business - which are actually just an admission that it's too expensive to do business in your state. Sadly, these incentives aren't even effective in creating jobs.

The Mackinac Center notes a Michigan auditor general's report on Michigan Economic Development Commission claims in regard to seven companies that received a total of $120 million in grants from the MEDC in exchange for the promise to create 775 jobs.

The AG found that between 1998 and 2002, when the job creation project was complete, that the enterprises had actually lost 222 local jobs.

Federal Mogul is a more recent illustration of the economic folly of special tax breaks and incentives. The link makes it clear that it isn't just Democrats participating.

...April 18 marks the 11th anniversary of the MEGA program, the state’s premier targeted tax incentive tool. One year ago this week, the Mackinac Center released the results of its rigorous econometric analysis of the MEGA program. The study found that since MEGA’s creation, the program had no impact on employment, the employment rate or per-capita personal income. Michigan counties with MEGA firms fared no better than those without. For every $123,000 in MEGA tax incentives offered, only one construction job was created — and those jobs lasted less than two years.

While legislators and the governor chase particular firms with targeted tax breaks, thousands of potential new business start-ups are stillborn as a result of a punishing tax, regulatory and labor climate. These losses are the "unseen" cost of government trying to pick winners and losers, rather than doing the harder but more fruitful work of making Michigan a state that is attractive to all employers — not just those with clout in Lansing.

Here’s the real lesson from Federal Mogul, Delphi, Tower Automotive, Kmart, Dana Corp., Hayes Lemmerz and all the other "winners" selected by Michigan’s economic development apparatus: Since 2003, the U.S. economy has added more than 4.7 million non-farm payroll jobs, mostly in small businesses providing products and services that no government official infected by the "fatal conceit" of central planning could possibly have predicted. These firms don’t benefit from targeted tax breaks — they pay for them.

Imagine how different things might look today if, instead of handing out narrow "incentives" to high-profile firms or politically "sexy" industries, the state’s bipartisan political establishment had eliminated the deadly tax, regulatory and labor law obstacles that inhibit job growth here, especially in small business start-ups.
Maybe we should have given iPods to Federal Mogul executives. It would have been cheaper and at least as effective.

Regarding Littman's call for right to work legislation, I direct you to Paladin's post - If Jobs Really Matter …… - of February 17th.

Also, check out the top reasons MEGA grant applicants cite for why they might move out of Michigan or expand elsewhere.

"Shortage of iPods" must be buried in the 2% "Other" category.


Update: 5:18PM - Through the Looking Glass; Darkly

Quoted in the Detroit Free Press, here's Michigan's Speaker of the House Andy Dillon on his plans for increasing revenue.

...One bill introduced Thursday exempts commercial and industrial property from the personal property tax, a $1.3-billion hole in the state budget for the 2007-08 fiscal year. That's on top of the $1.9-billion loss of revenue when the Single Business Tax expires Dec. 31.

Dillon, a Redford Township Democrat, said his plan would transfer the burden of business taxes from companies that have a presence in Michigan to companies that do business in Michigan but don't have facilities in the state.

"We would eliminate the personal property tax and focus on a net worth type of tax that shifts the burden to companies that export jobs to other states," he said.
Apparently, Speaker Dillon is unaware that businesses don't pay taxes, that the benefits of free trade are settled science, and that command and control economics have always failed. In his defense, he is a Democrat, being ignorant of economic reality is part of his job description. OTOH, the Republicans who will probably support this statist proposal cannot claim ignorance without admitting they actually are ignorant.

The Speaker seems to think Michigan can afford to punish the nasty out-of-state traders with impunity. So, who does he think trades with them now? And why do they trade? What will happen when the trade diminishes drastically? Practically speaking, Mr. Speaker, where do coffee and bananas come from? How about
cherries and maple syrup? And cars?

Targeted tax decreases can be made to stick so long as the recipients can't get a better deal. Targeted tax increases require a totalitarian control that is thankfully beyond Mr. Dillon's grasp.

As a practical matter, I'm interested in what constitutes a "facility" for Dillon's purposes. Can I rent out my house and acreage to a company that "exports jobs to other states" to provide them with a "facility" here? If Dillon's plans go through it's going to be a lot harder to keep out-of-state customers, and I'll probably need the income. The alternative would be to apply for a job with the state in the Department of Defining Facilities Department. A growth industry for sure.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Product recommendation

TOC has never before recommended a product. It may never happen again, but this is worth knowing about if you shave with a blade(s).

Background: I recently was required to familiarize myself with current Transportation Security Administration regulations regarding air travel. I do not fly if I can avoid it, so I was very out of date on the "carrying liquids" strictures. I knew you could place liquid containing items of a limited size in a baggie of a certain size in your carry-on luggage, and, after walking shoeless and beltless through a magnetic scanner, and explaining the can of tuna fish in your computer case was because you were not going to have access to food for 6 hours ... after that, you would be allowed to occupy a seat designed to eliminate circulation to your lower body, in an aluminum tube surrounded by kerosene.

Only after I picked up a quart bag (my mental reference frame was a gallon), did I realize I had some volumetric problems with the arguably modest array of the liquids and gels required for my well-being and, in some cases, the well-being of others. In short, I was going to have to down-size the implements of my toilette.

One obvious area was shaving cream. It can be eliminated entirely. You can just use whatever soap the hotel supplies. However, this results in stinging and irritation. I can't even use the standard shaving cream that comes in pressurized cans, so I have a hypo-allergenic "face wash" that has proven adequate. However, a sufficiently capacious container of this substance would not fit.

After buying the tuna fish, I was pondering this problem in the shaving supplies section of my local WalMart. I noticed a very small container (think eye-drops) of something called Shave Secret. It certainly was to me. The package claimed it to be superior in every way to traditional lathers. Skeptical, I nonetheless decided size did matter.

Imagine my surprise when the package claims proved true. Three or four drops of Shave Secret provides a shave more comfortable, closer and with less residual irritation than any other product I have used. I should also note that due to an oversight in packing, I was forced to use a blade well past its best-before date, so the cost per shave for blades looks certain to be lower. Your Mandibles May Vary, but I think this is a fine product.

I cannot recall what I paid at WalMart, and I couldn't calculate per use cost yet anyway. After 8 uses the bottle is still 99% full. The manufacturer wants $6 a vial at their website, or 12 vials for $48. I think the cost per shave will prove comparable to the alternatives (and could be much lower if blade life is indeed extended in a longer trial). It would be worth a premium.

Updated at 3:52PM

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Mis-over-and-under estimating

George Will writes an interesting column: The real reason for ‘soaring’ gas prices

It causes me to ask these questions -
  • Why do Liberals tell us that 10.4 billion barrels of oil gained by drilling in ANWR (around a million barrels a day) are insignificant compared to a 20.6 million barrel a day habit, while claiming a minuscule, short-lived temperature rate-of-increase reduction 25 years from now, is a moral, not a scientific issue?
  • Why is the former, to be funded by private industry, inferior to spending a trillion tax dollars on the latter, pushing the World economy back hundreds of years?
Bonus points for explaining the continuing Liberal opposition to nuclear power - which would tend to make both drilling in ANWR and living in an 18th century economy much less necessary.

H/T JR