Thursday, November 29, 2007

How the Dems scuttled reform of the service tax

A ruse all along? Dillon, Melton and Tobocman spotted getting sloshed, celebrating death of reform

Unbelievable. Just go read it.

Update: 7:15PM
(H/T RightMichigan) Granholm acknowledges her own incompetence and demonstrates it in the same decision. Picks non-profit expert as her COO. Isn't this job what SHE was elected to do?

First of all, anybody who knows Bob and Doug MacKenzie knows this isn't true

Hosers.

Study: Canadian Beer Drinkers Threaten Planet.

Scientists have found a new threat to the planet: Canadian beer drinkers.

The government-commissioned study says the old, inefficient "beer fridges" that one in three Canadian households use to store their Molson and Labatt's contribute significantly to global warming by guzzling gas- and coal-fired electricity.

"People need to understand the impact of their lifestyles," British environmental consultant Joanna Yarrow tells New Scientist magazine. "Clearly the environmental implications of having a frivolous luxury like a beer fridge are not hitting home. This research helps inform people - let's hope it has an effect."

The problem is that the beer fridges are mostly decades-old machines that began their second careers as beverage dispensers when Canadians upgraded to more energy-efficient models to store whatever Canadians eat besides doughnuts and poutine. [An undeserved cheap shot. What about Canadian bacon? Ed.]

University of Alberta researcher Denise Young, who led the study, suggests that provincial authorities hold beer-fridge buy-backs or round-ups to eliminate the threat - methods that Americans use to get guns off the streets.
I take Ms Yarrow's point to be that what we need are unfrivolous luxuries, such as environmental consultants who live in countries where they drink their beer warm, but have yet to fully appreciate the idea of central heating.

As far as Ms Young's "buy backs" go, I have a better idea. Why not just give everyone a new fridge free? Then the current one replaces the beer fridge, and the beer fridge gets shipped to a freon recycling site somewhere in Nunavut. Everyone knows you can't SELL fridges there anyway, so no one would be tempted to actually use the wheezer freezers.

The steel in just 3 of those babies could be recycled into a 1957 Buick Roadmaster, and the lead solder components could be sold to China. They seem to use a lot of it.

If buying a new fridge for every Canadian is considered a frivolous entitlement beyond the power of the government, then simply create a Canadian Fridge Registry. It worked for guns didn't it?

And in 15 or 20 years you're going to want to know who has those obsolete 2007 fridges for the next expropriation round, right? Bob and Doug would.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Under the feminist radar

Gilliam Gibbons, a British citizen teaching grade school in Sudan, asked a 7 year old student what he wanted to name a teddy bear as part of a school assignment. He said, "Muhammad," after his name.

Now, thanks to sharia, Ms Gibbons is facing 6 months in a Sudanese prison, 40 lashes or a fine. She should have insisted the teddy bear be named Jesus.

On this offer of violent disrespect to women feminism's leading light, the National Organization for Women, takes no position. Della Sentilles could not be reached for another misogynist comment.

Fortunately, we have Tammy Bruce making a point obvious to a rational being of any sex.

Sudan Charges British Teacher With Insulting Religion With 'Muhammad' Teddy Bear

...In the U.S., a spokeswoman for the National Organization for Women said the situation is definitely on the radar, and N.O.W. is not ignoring it.

But she added that the U.S.-based organization is not putting out a statement or taking a position.

Radio personality Tammy Bruce, former president of the Los Angles chapter of the National Organization for Women and past member of their board of directors, criticized the organization for not taking a stand.

“We have a duty to make a difference for women around the world,” Bruce told FOX News. “The supposed feminist establishment is refusing to take a position in this regard because they have no sensibility of what is right anymore. They're afraid of offending people. They are bound by political correctness.”

“The American feminist movement has not taken one stand to support the women of Iraq, the women of Afghanistan, the women of Iran,” she said. “It is the United States Marines who have been doing the feminist work by liberating women and children around the world.”
Hear, hear.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Support the system. Game the system. It's all OK, eh?

It’s enough to make the average Canadian cry. The decent folk up north fervently defend their health care system from attack. But, it turns out, the vast majority are willing to do most anything to jump the medical queue. If paying off their doctor would move them ahead, well, let the favors and money flow!
Read the rest. I just don't think you can claim to like your health care system unless you're willing to live with its provisions. By necessity that means not cheating. "Extra" payment to a doctor used to be allowed, but was specifically prohibited by about the late 70's. The Feds withheld money from any Province that allowed "extra billing."

On "extra billing" and my own experience, see also: Ob-Gyns with 10 Month Waiting Lists

Canadian Medical Association President-elect Dr. Ruth Collins-Nakai, ... disputed that the medical association is endorsing private health care, as critics have charged.

The primary concern of physicians of Canada is that patients have timely access to quality care based on need, not ability to pay, said Collins-Nakai, a pediatric cardiologist in Edmonton.
It's those damn queue jumpers that are the problem, who are they to judge need OR ability to pay when we've got bureaucrats to do the job?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Michigan Business Tax - disaster in the making

Did you ever think about starting your own business? Well, whether you want to or not, you may be about to take the plunge. From January 1st, if you have "modified gross receipts" of $350,000 you will be defined as a business under Michigan's new Michigan Business Tax. The definition of modified gross receipts becomes rather important, because you are about to be taxed as a business on that amount. The definition is as broad as it is simple: Modified gross receipts include the entire amount received from any activity.

This includes capital gains, and there is no deduction for capital losses recognized from the sale of investment assets. The MBT does not differentiate between active business income and income from investments. This is how the Michigan Department of the Treasury describes it:
Does the Modified Gross Receipts Tax component of the Michigan Business Tax Act tax capital gains of investors, including trusts, Family Limited Partnerships and individuals?

Answer:

Yes, the modified gross receipts tax is a tax on every taxpayer with nexus. [see below*] "Taxpayer" means a person or a unitary business group liable for a tax, interest, or penalty under this act. The term "person" means an individual, firm, bank, financial institution, insurance company, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, copartnership, partnership, joint venture, association, corporation, subchapter S corporation, limited liability company, receiver, estate, trust, or any other group or combination of groups acting as a unit. Therefore, the modified gross receipts tax is imposed on the above named persons if taxpayer nexus with Michigan exists.

The modified gross receipts tax base is a taxpayer's gross receipts less purchases from other firms before apportionment. The definition of "gross receipts" means the entire amount received by the taxpayer from any activity whether intrastate, interstate, or foreign commerce carried on for direct or indirect gain, benefit, or advantage to the taxpayer or to others with certain exceptions. MCL 208.1111(1)(o) excepts from gross receipts, proceeds from sales of capital assets as defined in section 1221(a) of the internal revenue code, less any gain from the disposition to the extent that gain is included in federal taxable income. Stated another way, the gain included in federal taxable income is included in the modified gross receipts tax base. There are no other statutory exceptions or exclusions that are applicable to capital gains recognized from the sale of investment assets. As a result, these gains are included in gross receipts.
The result of this is that people with money to invest will be encouraged to invest it outside of Michigan and will be strongly encouraged to move out of the State. This is simply insane, and if it isn't changed will do incalculable harm to an economy already on life support.

Our legislators have been too busy trying to undo the damage from the hastily conceived and arbitrary tax on services to even realize that, come January 1st, they'll have created a whole new class of taxpayer to soak. Unfortunately for Michigan, many people who fall into this new tax category are mobile, and the tax consequences are severe enough that they may well decide to take their investment capital, and their spending power, to a jurisdiction that is less punitive.

Incompetent is one word for our legislators, though many more less polite epithets will probably occur to you.

It gets worse. Sales tax you collect could be part of your modified gross receipt total. The Treasury explains here:
Is sales tax collected by a retail business considered part of its modified gross receipts under the Michigan Business Tax?

Answer:

Yes. The seller of tangible personal property is the person legally liable for payment of sales tax. A seller that is reimbursed sales tax by the purchaser of tangible personal property must include in its gross receipts the "entire amount received" from "any activity" unless the amount received is statutorily exempted under MCL 208.1111. Therefore, a taxpayer that receives sales tax from a purchaser as part of a transaction not otherwise exempt under the Michigan Business Tax must include in gross receipts the amount received from the sale of tangible personal property as well as the sales tax received.
-------------------
*Note: "Nexus"

A taxpayer, other than an insurance company, has nexus with Michigan and is subject to the tax imposed under the MBT if (a) the taxpayer has a physical presence in this state for more than one day in a tax year, or (b) the taxpayer actively solicits sales in this state and has unapportioned gross receipts of $350,000 or more sourced to this state. MCL 208.1200(1).
H/T MH

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Associated Press associates take pictures on the buddy plan

Democracy Project provides interesting commentary and good links on the award-winning AP photographer/stringer Bilal Hussein. How he might have been so consitently in position to photograph terrorist strikes is of interest to authorities in Iraq:
The Associated Press tried to ignore the black eye it garnered for its repeated use of stories from Iraq by Jamil Hussein, created from whole cloth as disingenuous propaganda to discredit the US.
I'm certain the AP will continue to try and spin this as a bltant violation of "civil rights" by the United States. It fits AP's bias. It damages US credibility, especially with the American leftwing sponges who don't automatically discount any story with an Associated press byline. It gets AP's ass out of a sling. TOC has noted some of the more egregious AP reportage.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Rockets hit Lebanon

Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Jimmy Carter's intentionally-evil twin also deserves our understanding

Monday, November 27, 2006
Fake, but inaccurate

Sunday, March 11, 2007
What AP left out

Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Is sharia a hate crime?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Self fulfilling sophistry

Friday, November 23, 2007

Pallywood Icon

If you are not aware of The al Durah blood libel you should click that link and read about it. Also read some of the links you will find.

This story illustrates some of what greases the axles of evil. In this case, European main stream media colluding with terrorists for ratings in the service of virulent anti-semitism.

Melanie Phillips writes:
I am in Paris where I have attended the Court of Appeal special session called to witness the 27 minutes of hitherto unseen footage of the ‘killing’ of Mohammed al Durah which the court had required France 2 to produce. For readers who are unfamiliar with this scandal, I wrote about it here, here and here.

Suffice it to say here that the iconic image of the child Mohammed al Durah, pictured crouching with his father behind a barrel next to a concrete wall in an apparently vain attempt to shelter from the gun-battle between Israel and the Palestinians that was raging around them before he was allegedly shot dead by the Israelis, served to incite terrorist violence and atrocities around the world after it was transmitted by France 2 at the beginning of the second intifada. Yet it is clear to anyone looking at this in detail that the whole thing was staged, not least from the devastating evidence here which shows the boy raising his arm and peeping through his fingers seconds after the France 2 correspondent Charles Enderlin said he had been shot dead.

...The ‘killing’ of Mohammed al Durah was swallowed uncritically by the western media, despite the manifold unlikeliness and contradictions which were apparent from the start, because it accorded with the murderous prejudice against Israel which is the prism through which the Middle East conflict is habitually refracted. This scandal has the most profound implications not just for the media, not just for the Middle East conflict but for the western world’s relationship to reason, which seems to grow more tenuous by the day.
This "news"reel provoked violence in which people actually did die.
...This footage become the iconic image of the intifada and the Palestinian ‘struggle’ against Israel. It served to incite terrorist violence and atrocities as well as inflaming hatred of Israel around the world. It was used in Palestinian educational materials to incite other children to turn themselves into human bombs. It was used repeatedly in al Qaeda’s videotape of the beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002. It was used to whip Iraqi Republican Guards into a frenzy before the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. And most stomach-churning of all, it was invoked by the Palestinian mob in Ramallah that lynched IDF reservists Yosef Avrahami and Vadim Novesche, who had taken a wrong turning, two weeks after the alleged al Durah killing. As Joanna Chandler wrote in FrontPageMag.com:
The consequences of their fatal error are well known: they were tortured and beaten to death in the Palestinian Authority police station, and their lifeless bodies thrown out of the station’s second story window to a throng of men howling, Allahu Akbar —God is great! They commenced to dismember and disembowel the soldiers’ corpses, and then passed the entrails on a platter to a hysterical mob numbering in the thousands who rejoiced as they literally chewed and swallowed the remains of their hated Jews. What is lesser known is that while eating the flesh and blood of their victims, in satisfaction and triumph, the good citizens of Ramallah chanted, not only, Allahu-Akbar—but the name of Mohamed al Durah!
The entrails part seems unbelievable ...almost - these are people who happily send their children as suicide bombers to kill Israeli children and believe Jews need the blood of non-Jewish children to make pastries at Purim. In any case, the blood of Yosef Avrahami and Vadim Novesche; and many more, is on the hands of France 2 and, of course, the Palestinians - be they venal media provocateurs or genocidal useful idiots.

Don't need your damn help

McCain Disavows Group Trying to Help His Campaign

It seems that a group set up as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation is advertising on behalf of the Senator's presidential campaign. A 501(c) is allowed gather unlimited sums without naming its donors*, so whenever you hear McCain use the word "disclosure" in this context, he is being a hypocrite.

John McCain created this problem via his advocacy of Campaign Finance "Reform." He's being bitten by his own flawed law, which drove money into 501(c)s, and it looks good on him. I'm tempted to send a buck or two to the Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America myself, except McCain is the last person in any party for whom I would vote.
Rick Davis, Mr. McCain's campaign manager, wrote on Monday to donors to Mr. McCain's presidential campaign, saying: "I hope you will refrain from involving yourself with the Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America. While not illegal, this group's efforts certainly violate the spirit of reform and disclosure for which John McCain has fought over the past decade."
That spirit being suppression of First Amendment rights in favor of incumbents. McCain thinks those rights require further restriction.
The letter came on the heels of a statement from Mr. McCain in which he said, "I ask all of my donors and supporters, including Mr. Reed [former McCain media strategist and founder of the 501(c) in question], to cease and desist immediately from supporting any independent expenditures that might be construed as benefiting my campaign indirectly."

He added, "I will not win this election, nor would I want to win it, by acquiescing in anyone's attempt to put my campaign before my principles."
Unfortunately, Senator, these ARE your principles. Let us hear more from George Will about McCain-Feingold's Wealth of Hypocrisy:
Congress is less divided by partisanship than it is united by devotion to the practice of protecting incumbents. Doing this with, for example, the bipartisan embrace of spending "earmarks" is routinely unseemly. But occasionally, incumbent protection is also unconstitutional.

It was in 2002, when Congress was putting the final blemishes on the McCain-Feingold law that regulates and rations political speech by controlling the financing of it. The law's ostensible purpose is to combat corruption or the appearance thereof. But by restricting the quantity and regulating the content and timing of political speech, the law serves incumbents, who are better known than most challengers, more able to raise money and uniquely able to use aspects of their offices -- franked mail, legislative initiatives, C-SPAN, news conferences -- for self-promotion.

Not satisfied with such advantages, legislators added to McCain-Feingold the Millionaires' Amendment to punish wealthy, self-financing opponents. The amendment revealed the cynicism behind campaign regulation's faux idealism about combating corruption.
Read the whole thing, you'll be amazed at how the definition of corruption is twisted 180 degress to favor incumbents.

*The Other Club advocates unrestricted political expenditure/donation accompanied by full and immediate disclosure of all donors.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanks for America

Mark Steyn explains what exceptional liberty we enjoy, and why the world should be thankful for American exceptionalism too:
...We know Eastern Europe was a totalitarian prison until the Nineties, but we forget that Mediterranean Europe (Greece, Spain, Portugal) has democratic roots going all the way back until, oh, the mid-Seventies; France and Germany's constitutions date back barely half a century, Italy's only to the 1940s, and Belgium's goes back about 20 minutes, and currently it's not clear whether even that latest rewrite remains operative. The U.S. Constitution is not only older than France's, Germany's, Italy's or Spain's constitution, it's older than all of them put together.

...Americans should be thankful they have one of the last functioning nation-states. Europeans, because they've been so inept at exercising it, no longer believe in national sovereignty, whereas it would never occur to Americans not to. This profoundly different attitude to the nation-state underpins, in turn, Euro-American attitudes to transnational institutions such as the United Nations.

But on this Thanksgiving the rest of the world ought to give thanks to American national sovereignty, too. When something terrible and destructive happens – a tsunami hits Indonesia, an earthquake devastates Pakistan – the United States can project itself anywhere on the planet within hours and start saving lives, setting up hospitals and restoring the water supply.

...Americans should, as always, be thankful this Thanksgiving, but they should also understand just how rare in human history their blessings are.
Read the whole thing, but as far as understanding how unappreciated are our blessings, consider the many Americans who flaunt their ingratitude itself as proof of their intellectual superiority and as justification for their moral condescension. Naturally, they reject the idea of American national sovereignty. These transcendent beings range from Supreme Court Justices who want to import international "rule of law", to Senate majority Leaders who declare "the War is lost" - and stick to that opinion despite evidence to the contrary even the New York Times can recognize. They are 9/11 "Truthers," who think the Twin Towers were demolished by the Bush administration, and political associations who accuse our commander on the ground in Iraq of perjury in advance of his testimony to Congress.

Among the blessings deprecated by those listed above is the Second Amendment. Contrary to their statist prejudice, it is a quintessential example of why American national sovereignty is a beacon of freedom. Jeffrey R. Snyder, in A NATION OF COWARDS, points out why the Second Amendment is a blessing, and why it is invisible to a certain type of American:
To own firearms is to affirm that freedom and liberty are not gifts from the state.
Reading the whole thing is highly recommended, that sentence captures a bare summary and does not do the article justice. (Note: the stats on "shall issue" states are out of date, rather than the 39 states currently having such laws.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Collapse of a consensus

"...the pandemic and its toll are outstripping the worst predictions."

Anthropogenic global warming? No, AIDS. That statement, however, turns out to be wrong, unless "outstripping the worst predictions" means 40% lower than you predicted, or "worst predictions" means "these are the dumbest predictions we ever made."

If there's "settled science" one might think it would be in diagnosis of diseases and their spread. Epidemiology follows established scientific protocols, except as practiced by the UN:
JOHANNESBURG, Nov. 19 -- The United Nations' top AIDS scientists plan to acknowledge this week that they have long overestimated both the size and the course of the epidemic, which they now believe has been slowing for nearly a decade, according to U.N. documents prepared for the announcement.

AIDS remains a devastating public health crisis in the most heavily affected areas of sub-Saharan Africa. But the far-reaching revisions amount to at least a partial acknowledgment of criticisms long leveled by outside researchers who disputed the U.N. portrayal of an ever-expanding global epidemic.

The latest estimates, due to be released publicly Tuesday, put the number of annual new HIV infections at 2.5 million, a cut of more than 40 percent from last year's estimate, documents show. The worldwide total of people infected with HIV -- estimated a year ago at nearly 40 million and rising -- now will be reported as 33 million.

Having millions fewer people with a lethal contagious disease is good news. Some researchers, however, contend that persistent overestimates in the widely quoted U.N. reports have long skewed funding decisions and obscured potential lessons about how to slow the spread of HIV. Critics have also said that U.N. officials overstated the extent of the epidemic to help gather political and financial support for combating AIDS.

...The downward revisions also affect estimated numbers of orphans, AIDS deaths and patients in need of costly antiretroviral drugs -- all major factors in setting funding levels for the world's response to the epidemic.
The consensus, neither scientific nor settled, was; "We need more money." The hysteric money grubbing damages the reputation not just of UN funded scientists, but of science itself. The scientific method has become hostage to politics.

The same UN is telling us the world is doomed if we don't return to turn-of-the-19th-century energy use. If they're off by 40% on something relatively easily measured, how far off are they on something more arcane? Like climate models that can't account for the effects of clouds.

It's about the funding, stupid - aided by the impulse to world statism.

Monday, November 19, 2007

4 chldrn

The Other Club has pointed out that the Democrats' insistence on expanding SCHIP is part of a plan to incrementally introduce socialized medicine via federally funded health care for middle class children and adults. The Democrats want to further encumber the private market by encouraging people who can afford insurance to switch to the federal program. This will shrink the private insurance risk pool, and further accustom us to federal intervention in the health care market. Hillary Clinton precisely outlined this approach in 1993.

Michelle Malkin brings us a contemporary admission that "for the children" is Liberal code for state controlled medicine. Former Governor Tom Vilsack (D-Iowa) admitted it in a speech at Drake University on Nov. 16:
I think there is going to be a commitment to universal coverage. I don’t think it’s necessarily going to be a sector by sector process. I think you either need to go in whole hog or not. We tried to sort of squeeze the middle here with doing children and doing seniors, and trying to squeeze it. If anything happens, it would more likely look something like this: you would extend eligibility for children from 200% of poverty to 300% of poverty, and create resources to insure the parents of those children.
"Create resources" is a task entirely beyond any government, it's code for "raise taxes."

Click the link to Malkin's post for more detail and the audio of Vilsack's admission.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Homecoming 2007

In the unlikely event that readers of this blog are not aware of Michael Yon's photo-essay about co-operation between Muslims and Christians in Baghdad, please read it here. It is one of the best good news stories to come from Iraq in some time.
A Bishop came to St John’s Church in Baghdad today, 15 November, where a crowd of locals welcomed him home. They were joined at the service by soldiers from the 2-12 infantry battalion, many of whom had fought hard to secure these neighborhood streets. Members of the hard-fighting Iraqi Army 3rd Division were also here for this special day.
That's a very tiny part of the story. Read, and view, it all at the link above.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Corporate looter

Some fat-cat Republican getting farm subsidies, ethanol grants, steel tariffs and a federal bailout from sub-prime mortgage mistakes? Not at all. All that's legal corporate welfare, and it's bi-partisan. This example is simply theft, with the added benefit of distorting a market; increasing health care costs for everyone.

Read the whole thing, but here's a teaser (link added in case you want to know what to boycott):

We know Jon Stryker funds everything from the Michigan regressisphere to the Democrats take-over of the State House to radical and militant gay-special-rights groups to Governor Granholm’s reelection campaign (who did donate all that partners for progress money, anyways?) and the Michigan Democrat Party and we all assumed that it was family money he’d inherited or made through his company, Kalamazoo based Styker Corporation.

What we didn’t know until this morning was that at least $16.6 million worth of that campaign cash was generated by stealing from American seniors with failing health. That according to a settlement between Jon Stryker and the Justice Department.
Exploiting government is the natural tendency of corporatists. They are members of both the Democrat and Republican parties. Stryker's case is notable because it is unusually blatant, extraordinarily hypocritical, and entirely consistent with his publicly expressed looter philosophy. The common thread is that legal or not, it's all done with your money.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Self fulfilling sophistry

Posting has become more difficult lately, because my recently acquired Macintosh is in the shop. So I'm missing a lot of reference material I moved to it. In any case, here's a recent point I can't pass up.

The Lansing State Journal recently printed an Associated Press story that the AP titled Income Gap Between Families Grows. CNN titled the same story U.S. incomes reveal racial divide. The LSJ's headline I can't remember, and it can't be found on their website. It had Black and/or White in it though, emphasizing racial disparity as did CNN.

Anyway, the racial divide headlines are not entirely without justification based on how the AP starts the report:

"Decades after the civil rights movement, the income gap between black and white families has grown," reports the Associated Press, citing a new Brookings Institution study.
However, on the 6th page of the Brookings study AP missed an opportunity for better reportage by failing to note some specific demographics regarding earnings changes. Since 1975, black males are down 12%. White males are down 4%. Black women are up 74%. White women are up 448%! That's not a typo. White women in 1975 had median earnings of $4,021, black women averaged $12,063. Today those numbers are $22,030 and $21,000, respectively. Black women have outperformed black men by 86%. White women trounced all comers. How can this be?

Brookings’ footnote to that chart helps explain those numbers: "All men and women ages 30-39, including those with no personal income, are included in these estimates." Understanding the base line of the report is quite important to how you interpret it, an interpreting a study in a headline requires reading it, rather than the AP summary.

from the footnote, one can conclude that proportionally many more black females were employed in 1975 than white females, and that many white females have since joined the workforce. Black females as a group should be proud, they
are obviously fulfilling their responsibility toward family income. Black males, on the other hand, should be ashamed; for reasons we’ve heard from Bill Cosby, among others.

If differences in earning power were significantly caused by skin color, how do you explain black womens' earnings?

In another Brookings report we get more information about family income. Emphasis mine:

...Women’s incomes have grown while men’s incomes have stagnated.

* Women in their 30s today have substantially higher personal income than comparably aged women in their mothers’ generation, but still make less than their male counterparts. Between 1974 and 2004, median personal income for women in their 30s increased from about $5,700 to $20,000 (in 2004 dollars).

* By comparison, men in their 30s today have not had the same experience of upward economic mobility. Inflation-adjusted median income for men ages 30- 39 actually fell by 12 percent between 1974 and 2004, from $40,000 a year to about $35,000 a year, as previously reported by the project.

* Men's employment rates, hours worked, and wages have been flat or declining over this period, while all three components of annual earnings have increased substantially for women.

* Family incomes have grown slightly because the increase in women’s earnings has more than offset stagnant male earnings. Between 1974 and 2004, median family income for men in their 30s and their families increased by 9 percent (0.3 percent per year).
This picture does not take race into account. Earning power is more related to family structure than skin color, and more related to white women entering the workforce than any other factor. Choosing to live with, and even marry, a person with whom you conceive a child actually conveys economic benefit.

On the heels of the headlined implication that race predicts your chances for increasing earnings over time, the LSJ followed up today with another AP story. This one talked about black pessimism.

Study: Blacks pessimistic about racial progress

Hope Yen
Associated Press

Growing numbers of black Americans say they're worse off than five years ago and don't expect their lives to improve, a study released Tuesday shows. Black pessimism about racial progress in America, according to the study, is the worst it's been in more than two decades.
Ya think?

Maybe it's because of all the negative, and unexamined, stories from AP to which race is attached in the headline.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Pittance of Time

Terry Kelly is a Newfoundland native, a double silver medallist at the 1979 Canadian Track Championships and a singer, songwriter and motivational speaker. On November 11, 1999 he had an experience that caused him to write a song about the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

The story behind the song will increase your appreciation of it. Listen here: A Pittance of Time.

It's well worth your time.


Lyrics can be found here.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Selene

A still shot from Japan's Kaguya/SELENE moon probe shortly it launched one of two mini-satellites. The western rim of Oceanus Procellarum is clearly visible in the image, which was taken on Oct. 5 about 497 miles (800 kilometers) from the Moon. Credit: JAXA (Thanks to Space.com)

Jaxa, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, has also released an HDTV image of the moon taken by the mini-satellite. Click the link to play it, and imagine how much more information they are still analyzing.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Swine Line

Here's something you can do to protest earmarks. Jim DeMint was one of only four Senators with a Club for Growth 100% anti-pork rating.

An Important Message from Jim DeMint

My Fellow Taxpayer,
I need you to join 100,000 Strong for Earmark Reform today by visiting www.jimdemint.com.

In 1987, Ronald Reagan vetoed a bill that had 121 earmarks, saying "I haven't seen this much lard since I handed out blue ribbons at the Iowa State Fair."

By 2005, this corrupting system exploded as we stuffed 13,997 wasteful earmarks into spending bills, including the Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska and the Teapot Museum in North Carolina. In fact, just since 2000, Congress has spent more than $170 BILLION of your tax dollars on these pork barrel projects.

Today Democrats rule Congress, Republicans have quit acting like Republicans, wasteful spending has become the norm, and our nation's capital has become a place where it seems that the words "conservativism" and "integrity" have lost their meaning. Reagan conservatives are rightly upset as politicians have continuously betrayed our trust.

If my words sound dreary, it is because I think about the hundreds of thousands of conservative activists around the country who have worked for years to send Republicans to Washington. Those activists have been let down by politicians who decry our mounting national debt during campaign season and yet return to Washington and continue to spend hand over fist at the expense of American taxpayers. Who can blame Americans for losing trust in Republicans last November?

The bipartisan culture of corruption in Washington is best seen in the use of earmarks - pork barrel spending inserted into legislation in the dead of night. Some politicians might try to use earmarks to influence voters, but American taxpayers aren't buying it. They see wasteful projects for what they are... higher taxes and a reckless use of resources in the face of a looming health care and social security crisis. Some members of Congress may have lost their way, but Republicans all across America know exactly what needs to be done.

It's time to change the culture of corruption in Washington and it begins by eliminating earmarks.

But I can't do it alone. It's time to take the fight to the ground. That's why I'm using my campaign resources to build 100,000 Strong for Earmark Reform.

Using new online technologies and a new state of the art website at www.jimdemint.com, we are recruiting 100,000 supporters across the nation to pressure Congress into passing real earmark reform. That's where you come in.

I need you to join 100,000 Strong for Earmark Reform. Just visit www.jimdemint.com and sign our petition. In the next few weeks, I will submit your petition to my fellow members of Congress. I will then contact you immediately to let you know what you can do to help.

I hope I can count on your help to reform a broken Washington and close down the Congressional favor factory.

Visit www.jimdemint.com today.

Sincerely,



Senator Jim DeMint


Another thing you could do would be to become a member of the Club for Growth, it's free. I think you should also contribute, but check it out first.

And, BTW, check out The Swine Line.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

By their earmarks, ye shall know them





Who are these people?





Before we get to "who," you should know "what." These are "airdrop earmark" apparatchiki. You are forgiven for not knowing who they are, or what an airdrop earmark is.

Captain Ed explains the "what" for us: "An airdropped earmark is one that suddenly appears in the conference report between the two chambers when it appears in neither the House nor the Senate version prior to the conference."

Now on to the "who."

There are 535 elected members of the federal legislative branch. This is far too many to keep track of from memory. Outside of an intimate circle of illegal immigrants in Los Angeles, who would actually recognize Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA) if they bumped into her at Wal-Mart? And even if you could pick Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) out of a lineup of other guys from whom you would not buy a used car, would you admit it?

In an effort to reduce the obscurity and highlight the pork, The Other Club suggests that the 535 members be made more easily identifiable. Since it's earmarks we're concerned with here, why not use the long-established earmark method? After all, when you get to have more pigs than you can recognize on sight, you need to take action. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations tells us how it works. (Don't tell PETA.) Emphasis mine:

Learning objectives

After studying this unit you should know:

1 Why do we identify animals.
2 How to notch the ear.
3 Reading the number of the pig.

Why we need to identify animals

If you have a few pigs or other animals, identifying them is no problem. You will be able to identify them by sight and may well have given them a name. [Such as Henry or Laura.] You will need some way to identify a large number of animals especially if you are going to keep records (see Annex 5). There are many ways to identify animals including numbered collars, tattoos, and plastic tags. Notching the ear is easy and is the cheapest way.

Notching the ear

A V-shaped notch can be cut out of the edge of the ear using a pair of clean scissors. Make the notch a few centimetres deep so in future you will be able to read it from a distance.

The notches on the left ear are for single numbers and on the right ear the notches are for tens.

Notching the ear

Recording the number of the pig

Look at the notches on the right and the left ears then add up the number on each ear to give the number of the animal.

Recording the number of the pig

There are some drawbacks. This method can only account for 121 out of 535 members. Worse, any appropriations bill to buy 535 of those yellow plastic ear tags normally used in such a case would undoubtedly attract all manner of airdrop earmarks. This limitation is more theoretical than actual however, 121 is enough when this method is applied only to the worst offenders, and anesthesia is not part of the process.

Another issue is that human ears vary considerably in size, shape and angle from the cranium. It seems likely, given our examples above, that notches in Congressman Waxman's ears would be more readable from a distance than in Congresswoman Richardson's case. In cases of small, flat ears a prosthesis my be required to force the ears into a more forward orientation, which would supply the additional benefit of making it easier for our most pork-addicted representatives to listen.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Soooooie! That's how you call donkeys, too.

TOC has written many times on the anti-Constitutional effects of so called "Campaign Finance Reform." We think a better way to spike political corruption would be to require immediate and full disclosure of any and all contributions. Failure to comply would carry heavy penalties.

The ostensible goal of CFR was to get money out of politics. The result was to inject more politics into money. If the problem is money, then there's a better place to focus: lobbying. Lobbying is an activity directed at sitting representatives.

Corruption is a inevitable consequence of the huge payoffs in corporate welfare that regularly result from relatively small lobbying investments. The problem manifests itself in earmarks, market distorting subsidies (a currently favored corporate leech being ethanol) and pet non-profit projects. Where, for example, is the Constitutional authority for funding a Woodstock Museum?

There is no clearer "appearance of corruption," possibly excepting the serial campaign finance debacles involving Asian dishwashers and persons named Clinton (remember Charlie Trie?), than earmarks. The problems of campaign finance and lobbying for federal over-matching funds are parallel, because they both originate as attempts to influence the power of federal legislators' to dispense monetary and regulatory favors. If these elected representatives could not dispense such largesse with impunity, they wouldn't be worth bribing. Impunity is granted by voters, and it cannot be rescinded by federal statute. Unfortunately, American voters are easily, if no longer inexpensively, bribed - and they are generally insensitive to the fact it's done with their own money.

The Constitution was written with a mind toward preventing this corruption by limiting government, but we no longer follow the restrictions it imposed. Review the Tenth Amendment. It will take 15 seconds.

Captain's Quarters provides an idea of the lobby leverage engendered by a corrupted Congressional power to spend:

L-3 Communications: #1 on this list [of Congressional district beneficiaries], will get $69.5 million in earmarks for $140,000 of lobbying. They had almost $6 billion in government contracts in 2006, only 27% of which came from competitive bids. Jim Moran (D) and Chip Pickering (R) top the list of Congressional district beneficiaries of these contracts.

DRS Technologies: They will get $31.5 million in earmarks, but paid more than $1.3 million in lobbying to get it, making it the worst return on investment in the top 10 firms -- still a whopping 2400%. They had to compete for 58% of their $1.2 billion in government contracts in 2006. James Moran's district got the biggest slice of DRS spending, too.

Raytheon: The venerable defense contractor wins $30 million off of almost a million in lobbying costs. Only 16% of their 2006 contracts came from fully competitive bidding. Marty Meehan's Congressional district got over a billion of Raytheon's largesse, which means Nikki Tsongas has a good cushion of pork coming into her freshman season in the House.

General Dynamics: They got $26 million from $580,000 in lobbying. In 2006, less than a third of their $11 billion in government contracts came through fully competitive bidding. Bernie Sanders and Washington DC are the two big winners in GD spending for 2006.

Do people get the picture? Pork-barrel politics helps secure sinecures for beneficiaries, helping to perpetuate non-competitive procurement. In return, the politicians get plenty of lobbyist attention and make it more difficult for voters to hold them accountable for their performance. That's bad enough with any appropriation bill at any time, but for politicians to play these games with defense spending in a time of war is particularly despicable.
This is a short, and disgusting, list. Imagine the power of regular, full disclosure applied to lobbying and campaign contributions. If Americans could come to understand that any money they send to Washington pols immediately becomes "spoils," maybe there'd be enough outrage to encourage electing representatives who would consider it to be as unethical as it is.

However, Americans will never understand it as long as the argument is about "the children," instead of the value of limited government. Limited government means limited opportunity for corruption. "For the children" is code for "more opportunity for corrupt demagogues."

The Alaskan "bridge to nowhere" attracted a relatively small level of MSM attention, and a larger degree of public disgust. If the MSM wanted to do something to help the Republic, they could unrelentingly publish the details of the pork, and highlight the most egregious examples with headlines.

Full disclosure of pork and campaign finance is a better way for Americans to determine the government they deserve, however tawdry it might turn out. At least they would have no one else to blame.

On the topic of who to blame, it is true that both parties are culpable, but you have to go very deep in a Club for Growth list of the voting records on 15 anti-pork amendments to find the Democrats. Only one appears in the "top" 38, and that cut-off represents an anti-pork score of a whopping 40%.

Read the whole thing, but here are some -lights, both high and low:
* Only three senators received a perfect score of 100% (and were
present for a majority of the votes): Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK), Jim
DeMint (R-SC), and Richard Burr (R-NC).

* The only senator receiving a 0% was Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD)
who voted against all 10 anti-pork amendments he was present for.

* The average Republican score was 59%; the average Democratic
score was 12%.

* The best scoring Democrat was Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) with
an impressive 80%, tying with or scoring better than thirty-nine
Republican senators.

* Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) scored a 53%; Majority
Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) scored a 7%, voting for only one amendment.

* Only two amendments were successful. The most popular amendment
was offered by Senator DeMint to bar the use of funds appropriated for
spinach growers in the Iraq Supplemental Bill (Roll Call #123,
03/29/07); it passed 97-0. The other amendment was offered by Senator
Coburn to eliminate $1 million for a museum dedicated to the Woodstock
Festival (Roll Call #377, 10/18/07); it passed 52-42.

Some of the targeted pork projects this year include:

* $100 million for the 2008 Republican and Democratic nominating
conventions. Amendment failed 45-51.

* Adding sand to San Diego*s beaches. Amendment failed 12-77.

* Millions of dollars for bicycle paths instead of using the funds
to improve bridge safety. Amendment failed 18-80. Watch Senator Coburn
talk about his amendment.

* A visitors' center in Louisiana instead of providing shelter for
victims of Hurricane Katrina. Amendment failed 11-79.

* Funds for a baseball field in Montana, the International Peace
Garden in North Dakota, and a wetlands center in Louisiana. Amendment
failed 32-63.

* $2 million for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at
City College of New York, requested by Charles B. Rangel. Amendment
failed 34-61.
It's no better in the House:
* Sixteen congressmen scored a perfect 100%, voting for all 50
anti-pork amendments. They are all Republicans.

* The average Republican score was 43%. The average Democratic
score was 2%.

* The average score for appropriators was 4%. The average score for
non-appropriators was 25%.

* Kudos to Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) who scored an admirable 98%-the
only Democrat to score above 20%.

* Rep. David Obey (D-WI) did not vote for his own amendment to
strike all earmarks in the Labor-HHS appropriations bill. Rep. Obey
scored an embarrassing 0% overall.

* 105 congressmen scored an embarrassing 0%, voting against every
single amendment. The Pork Hall of Shame includes 81 Democrats and 24
Republicans.

* The Democratic Freshmen scored an abysmal average score of 2%.
Their Republican counterparts scored an average score of 78%.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Go Blue!


Today is the 100th time Michigan and Michigan State have played football. It is almost always a good game.

As institutions, they both suffer from an especially delusional form of intelligentsia derangement syndrome. As Mr. Dooley pointed out, they think they "make the wather run."
D'ye think th' colledges has much to do with th' progress iv th' wurruld? asked Mr. Hennessy.

D'ye think, said Mr. Dooley, tis th' mill that makes th' wather run?
-Finley Peter Dunne, Mr. Dooley's Opinions, 1913

May today's game remind us of something Notre Dame's Frank Leahy said, "A school without football is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall."