Sunday, February 27, 2011

U.S. Gov‘t Software Creates ’Fake People’ to Spread Message via Social Networking
The US government is offering private intelligence companies contracts to create software to manage "fake people" on social media sites and create the illusion of consensus on controversial issues....

Cables show China used debt holdings to press US
Leaked diplomatic cables vividly show China's willingness to translate its massive holdings of US debt into political influence on issues ranging from Taiwan's sovereignty to Washington's financial policy.

China's clout -- gleaned from its nearly $900 billion stack of US debt -- has been widely commented on in the United States, but sensitive cables show just how much influence Beijing has and how keen Washington is to address its rival's concerns.

An October 2008 cable, released by WikiLeaks, showed a senior Chinese official linking questions about much-needed Chinese investment to sensitive military sales to Taiwan.

Amid the panic of Lehman Brothers' collapse and the ensuing liquidity crunch, Liu Jiahua, an official who then helped manage China's foreign reserves, was "non-committal on the possible resumption of lending."

Instead, "Liu -- citing an Internet discussion forum -- said that as in the United States, the Chinese leadership must pay close attention to public opinion in forming policies," according to the memo.

"In that regard, the recent announcement that the United States intends to sell another arms package to Taiwan increases the difficulty the Chinese government faces in explaining any supporting policies to the Chinese public."

His comments came days after the Pentagon notified Congress it was poised to sell $6.5 billion worth of arms to China's arch rival Taiwan.

The much-delayed package was eventually sold, but did not include requested F-16 jets. ...

Federal, state and local debt hits post-WWII levels
The daunting tower of national, state and local debt in the United States will reach a level this year unmatched just after World War II and already exceeds the size of the entire economy, according to government estimates.

But any similarity between 1946 and now ends there. The U.S. debt levels tumbled in the years after World War II, but today they are still climbing and even deep cuts in spending won't completely change that for several years. ...

'Get a Little Bloody'
A Democratic congressman urges government employees to take violent action.

The rhetoric around Wisconsin's government labor dispute is getting more violent. reports that Rep. Michael Capuano, a Massachusetts Democrat, said this yesterday at a Boston "solidarity" rally: "I'm proud to be here with people who understand that it's more than just sending an email to get you going. Every once and awhile you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary."

The Boston Globe reports that the union crowd responded to Capuano's exhortation with "cheers, whistles and applause" and that Capuano, issued a written semiapology: "I strongly believe in standing up for worker rights and my passion for preserving those rights may have gotten the best of me yesterday in an unscripted speech. I wish I had used different language to express my passion and I regret my choice of words."

It will not surprise you to learn that Capuano is another "civility" hypocrite. On Jan. 9, the day after a madman in Tucson, Ariz., got a little bloody, the Globe quoted him: "What the hell is going on? There's always some degree of tension in politics; everybody knows the last couple of years there's been an intentional increase in the degree of heat in political discourse. . . . If nothing else good comes out of this, I'm hoping it causes people to reconsider how they deal with things."...

... Unions, most of whose members are public employees, gave Democrats some $400 million in the 2008 election cycle. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the biggest public employee union, gave Democrats $90 million in the 2010 cycle.

Follow the money, Washington reporters like to say. The money in this case comes from taxpayers, present and future, who are the source of every penny of dues paid to public employee unions, who in turn spend much of that money on politics, almost all of it for Democrats....

... The Ontario parents of a dying baby boy say they will not give their consent to have him removed from life-support, despite a court's order, as they try to hold out so he can be transferred to a hospital closer to home.

Baby Joseph Maraachli had been scheduled to be taken off life-support Monday morning.

The 13-month-old child, who is in a vegetative state, has been at the London Health Sciences Centre in Ontario since last fall. His parents have said they want to bring him home to die surrounded by family, not in a hospital.

Father Moe Maraachli said Monday that, on the advice of the family's new lawyer, he and his wife, Sana Nader, are not consenting to have Joseph's breathing tube removed, despite the ruling of a Superior Court judge last week and a January decision of the Consent and Capacity Board of Ontario....

Bailed-Out GM Workers Getting $4,300 Bonuses
...As a result of GM’s 2010 financial performance, the company will pay profit sharing to approximately 45,000 eligible GM U.S. hourly employees, and approximately 3,000 eligible GM Components Holdings (GMCH) employees. The average payout per employee will be approximately $4,300 for GM employees and $3,200 for GMCH employees....

Matthews Gives "Free Advertising" To Union Leader: It's "Great" He's An Old SDS Guy
There's so much here. First of all, "free advertising!" Meditate on that--no need for comment. Second of all, "an old SDS guy," which is "great." Is he talking about the Students for a Democratic Society led by Bill Ayers? Indeed he is. Again, no comment. The Left is revealing more and more of their cards, the question is, are Americans paying attention? ...

Video: Union protester grabs FreedomWorks staffer’s camera, hits her with sign

Union thug assaults Tabitha Hale
...Tabitha’s account. “This just can’t be tolerated anymore. It’s one thing to be called a violent teabagger. It’s another to be called a violent teabagger while you’re being assaulted. They’ve been comparing themselves to the Egyptians ousting Mubarak. Looks like they’re not too far off, given that they share the tendency to assault women with cameras.”...

NEA to Double Member Dues Contribution to Political War Chest
Amid substantial membership losses and a $14 million shortfall in its general operating budget, the National Education Association plans to double each active member’s annual contribution to the national union’s political and media funds....

...NEA is already the top political campaign spender in the nation. This increase will give the national union an additional $40 million per election cycle. The increase alone is larger than all but two other groups spent during the entire 2007-08 cycle.

The Koch Brothers' Right-Wing Conspiracy to Undermine the PATRIOT Act
...In the same post, Chait runs off a series of sums the Kochs have spent over the years on various right-wing causes. Curiously missing, however, is the $20 million donation the Kochs made to the ACLU to fight the Bush administration over the PATRIOT Act. Browsing various accounts of the Kochs political spending over the years, that $20 million appears to be substantially more than the Kochs have contributed to all political candidates combined for at least the last 15 years. (Their gifts to the arts and other non-political charities exceeds what they've spent on politics many times over.)...

Dads in despair
SUN columnist Jane Moore has been indundated with letters and emails from heartbroken fathers fighting to see their children.

The floodgates opened when she wrote about a male friend denied access to his kids after a bitter split from their mother.

In her column last month, Jane also highlighted the case of Idi Atiba, 31, who killed himself following a custody battle.

She suggested the system was biased against dads when it came to agreeing contact with their children.

Here, three fathers tell their stories and we also print extracts from some of the desperate letters Jane received. ...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Public employee unions: Entitled to their own views, but not their own facts
...Regardless, what's clear is that when correcting for these omissions and inappropriate assumptions in EcPI's regression, you find that public employees are not underpaid relative to their private sector counterparts. In fact, according to their own analysis, public employees at both the state and local levels enjoy a compensation premium of close to five percent compared to an employee of similar education and experience in the private sector.

That five percent pay premium should be considered a floor, not a ceiling. Public sector workers enjoy substantially greater job security than their private sector counterparts; their layoff and discharge rate as a percent of total employment is over three times lower than the private sector as a whole....

...State pension plans are underfunded by $3.2 trillion when misguided accounting practices are corrected according to research by Joshua D. Rauh, an associate professor of finance at the Kellogg School of Management, and Robert Novy-Marx at the University of Chicago, published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives. Furthermore, because pension funds are highly exposed to market risks, there is only a 5 percent chance that they will perform well enough to meet the needs of retirees in fifteen years. ...

Public unions force taxpayers to fund Democrats
...Unions, most of whose members are public employees, gave Democrats some $400 million in the 2008 election cycle. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the biggest public employee union, gave Democrats $90 million in the 2010 cycle.

Follow the money, Washington reporters like to say. The money in this case comes from taxpayers, present and future, who are the source of every penny of dues paid to public employee unions, who in turn spend much of that money on politics, almost all of it for Democrats. In effect, public employee unions are a mechanism by which every taxpayer is forced to fund the Democratic Party.

So, just as the president complained in his 2010 State of the Union address about a Supreme Court decision that he feared would increase the flow of money to Republicans, he also found time to complain about a proposed state law that could reduce the flow of money to Democrats....

Dem Congressman tells unions that they “need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody”
Gee, I seem to recall when violent rhetoric was the bane of political rhetoric, at least when the Left was shrieking about the latent, seething violence of Tea Party activists and Sarah Palin’s campaign maps. The media did a dog-pile on the Right when a lunatic in Tucson shot Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, spending the better part of a week scrutinizing Palin’s utterances and campaign artwork when the shooter’s schizophrenia was known well enough within hours of the massacre that killed six and wounded 14. Now one of Giffords’ Democratic caucus colleagues tells a union crowd that they need to go out and “get bloody,” while pointing out Tea Party counterprotesters across the street...

Pennsylvania Railroad
In the Keystone State's juvenile justice scandal, money changed everything.

Mark Ciavarella, the Pennsylvania judge known as "Mr. Zero Tolerance," had a reputation for running his courtroom like an assembly line, spending just a minute or two on each of the juvenile offenders who appeared before him. If they were not represented by lawyers, which was usually the case, they would more often than not be shipped off in shackles to some form of detention, even for trivial crimes.

Aside from defendants and their parents, few people seemed concerned about Ciavarella's mindlessly tough attitude—until it turned out he was receiving kickbacks from the private detention centers where he sent juvenile offenders. But for those suspicious payments, Ciavarella, who was convicted last week of racketeering and related charges, might still be practicing his special brand of injustice, which he and his supporters said helped kids by hurting them.

Federal prosecutors say Ciavarella and Michael Conahan, at the time Luzerne County's president judge, conspired to replace the county's dilapidated juvenile detention center with new ones built and operated by their cronies. Conahan, who pleaded guilty to racketeering last year, arranged for the centers to get the county's business, while Ciavarella kept them full. In exchange, they received $2.9 million....

Kids for Cash judge Ciavarella called scumbag by grieving mom
...The former judge, who has been released on a $1 million unsecured bond, left the courtroom smiling but met with an awkward situation when Sandy Fonzo, the mother of one of the teenage offenders he had sentenced, burst out and blamed him for ruining her son's life.

"My kid's not here anymore!" Fonzo screamed at Ciavarella in the presence of dozens of people. "He's dead! Because of him! He ruined my **** life! I'd like him to go to hell and rot there forever! Do you remember me? Do you remember me? Do you remember my son, an all-star wrestler? He's gone. He shot himself in the heart. You scumbag!"

Fonzo's son, Edward, was 17 and an all-star wrestler with a chance at a college scholarship at the time he landed in Ciavarella's courtroom on a minor drug charge. Though Edward had no prior criminal record, Ciavarella sentenced him to juvenile detention center for several months. As a result, Edward missed his senior year of high school and grew depressed and bitter. Last June, he committed suicide, at the age of 23.

"He (Edward) was just never the same. He couldn't recover," Fonzo later told the reporters. "He wanted to go on with his life, but he was just hurt. He was affected so deeply, more than anyone knew."

However, Ciavarella kept a poker face and ignored Fonzo. He also told the reporters who surrounded him that he didn't know what Fonzo was speaking about. "I don't know that lady," he told the reporters. "I don't know what the facts and circumstances are concerning her son."...

Federal Reserve Responsible For Middle East Unrest
... In accounts of the political unrest sweeping through the Middle East, one factor, inflation, deserves more attention. Nothing can be more demoralizing to people at the low end of the income scale—where great masses in that region reside—than increases in the cost of basic necessities like food and fuel. It brings them out into the streets to protest government policies, especially in places where mass protests are the only means available to shake the existing power structure.

The consumer-price index in Egypt rose to more than 18% annually in 2009 from 5% in 2006, a more normal year. In Iran, the rate went to 25% in 2009 from 13% in 2006. In both cases the rate subsided in 2010 but remained in double digits.

Egyptians were able to overthrow the dictatorial Hosni Mubarak. Their efforts to fashion a more responsive regime may or may not succeed. Iranians are taking far greater risks in tackling the vicious Revolutionary Guards to try to unseat the ruling ayatollahs.

Probably few of the protesters in the streets connect their economic travail to Washington. But central bankers do. They complain, most recently at last week's G-20 meeting in Paris, that the U.S. is exporting inflation.

China and India blame the U.S. Federal Reserve for their difficulties in maintaining stable prices. The International Monetary Fund and the United Nations, always responsive to the complaints of developing nations, are suggesting alternatives to the dollar as the pre-eminent international currency. The IMF managing director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has proposed replacement of the dollar with IMF special drawing rights, or SDRs, a unit of account fashioned from a basket of currencies that is made available to the foreign currency reserves of central banks. ...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Union operative attempts to destroy Tea Party rally’s speaker system [VIDEO]
MADISON, Wisc. — Police officers in Madison detained and subsequently released a labor union operative who attempted, somewhat successfully, to destroy the speaker system at the Tea Party counter rally Saturday.

Police would not release the name of the man, or any more details, but eyewitnesses told The Daily Caller he ripped the wiring out of several different speaker systems. Part of the sound system went out for about five minutes.

When a Tea Partier, Luke Bacher, confronted the man ripping the speaker wiring out, Bacher said the man physically assaulted him. That caused police to get involved and detain the union operative...

Case on Mortgage Official Is Said to Be Dropped
...The closure of the case after two years of inquiry follows last October’s settlement by Mr. Mozilo of insider trading allegations made by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Regulators had contended that Mr. Mozilo sold $140 million in Countrywide stock between 2006 and 2007 even as he recognized that his company was faltering. Countrywide and Bank of America paid $45 million of Mr. Mozilo’s $67.5 million settlement, and he was responsible for the rest.

Without admitting or denying wrongdoing, Mr. Mozilo agreed to be banned from serving as an officer or a director of a public company. ...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The case against public sector unionism
...The very nature of many public services — such as policing the streets and putting out fires — gives government a monopoly or near monopoly; striking public employees could therefore hold the public hostage. As long-time New York Times labor reporter A. H. Raskin wrote in 1968: "The community cannot tolerate the notion that it is defenseless at the hands of organized workers to whom it has entrusted responsibility for essential services."

A core problem with public sector unionism is that it creates a uniquely powerful interest group. In theory, bureaucrats are supposed to work for and be accountable to the elected representatives of the people. But suppose those bureaucrats organize into large, well-funded, powerful unions that can tip election results. With very few and very unique exceptions, no workplace in which the employees elect the supervisors functions well for long. Yet, research by Terry Moe (22 J.L. Econ. & Org. 1) into the electoral power of teachers' unions finds just such an outcome...

...In effect, public sector unionism thus means that representatives of the union will often be on both sides of the collective bargaining table. On the one side, the de jure union leaders. On the other side, the bought and paid for politicians. No wonder public sector union wages and benefits are breaking the back of state budgets. They are bargaining with themselves rather than with an arms'-length opponent....

Bainbridge on Public Sector Unions
...Just for the record, I am probably a bit less sympathetic to unions than Professor B. My mother was a management negotiator when I was growing up, and what I experienced was not pretty. There were menacing and harassing phone calls (“We know where your son goes to school”), industrial sabotage, and direct acts of intimidation (another negotiator’s house was paint-bombed). We had to have security parked outside our house every night for months on end and there were days I had to be driven to school by an off-duty cop. This all just makes me a bit less willing to give unions the benefit of the doubt....

Great News! Obama to Impose New Fees on Energy Companies Who Can’t Drill Anyway
...So the federal government is not issuing any new permits to speak of. But if you have an oil lease that you’re not producing on – because you don’t have a permit – we’re going to impose new fees to pay for the EPA to investigate whether or not you should get a permit. This is an olive branch to our energy companies? Perhaps if you fashioned the branch into a club.

“Say… nice oil rig ya got there. Be a real shame if anything happened to it.”

And what precisely does it mean by saying these “reforms will also facilitate the timely review” of permit applications? It’s not very well written, but one might take from this the idea that you can either pay more or your application may remain “lost” in the stacks. At the very least some serious clarification of this is required.

This, of course, comes on top of the new $43.6 billion in taxes that the president seeks to impose on oil companies to pay for, “more money to research on solar, wind and energy-efficiency programs.”...

Can Health-Care Waivers Be Justified?
...An initial concern is favoritism. One may assume that when the executive waives compliance with a law, it will grant waivers only to the most deserving applicants. Inevitably, however, it will find deserving applicants among those who have close contact with the administration, including many who are politically aligned with it.

Making matters worse, the executive tends to use waivers to co-opt political support for insupportable laws. When Americans are subject to severe legislation, they can unite to seek its repeal. All persons subject to a harsh law ordinarily must comply with it, and therefore will cooperate to fight it. Waivers, however, allow the executive to preserve such legislation by offering relief to the most powerful of those who might demand repeal, thereby purchasing their non-resistance at the cost of other Americans. Waivers thus shift the cost of objectionable laws from the powerful to others, with the overall effect of entrenching bad laws.

Waivers further undermine the political process by permitting lawmakers to escape the political consequences of drafting onerous laws. Lawmakers ordinarily have reason to worry about imposing severe rules. Waivers, however, remove the incentives for responsibly moderate legislation. Indeed, waivers transform irresponsible legislative burdens into occasions for executive beneficence.

Even more seriously, waivers are a threat to government by and under law. When the government grants a waiver or dispensation, it does not act through law, and yet it purports to liberate the recipient from the obligation of law. In other words, when the government grants a waiver, it acts above the law to permit others to act above the law, thus making waivers doubly lawless....

Matt Taibbi Has A Brand New Feature On Imprisoning Wall Streeters
...To understand the significance of this, one has to think carefully about the efficacy of fines as a punishment for a defendant pool that includes the richest people on earth — people who simply get their companies to pay their fines for them. Conversely, one has to consider the powerful deterrent to further wrongdoing that the state is missing by not introducing this particular class of people to the experience of incarceration. "You put Lloyd Blankfein in pound-me-in-the-ass prison for one six-month term, and all this bullshit would stop, all over Wall Street," says a former congressional aide. "That's all it would take. Just once."...

Photos: WI protesters call Gov. Walker a dictator, put crosshairs on his face
...If pressed, the protesters will undoubtedly claim that the first sign is just a parody of Palin’s map. But what about the second one? Or the one in the video that compares Gov. Walker to Mussolini, a dictator who met with a violent end?

Utah Death Threats Against Officials
... Two state lawmakers running immigration reform bills were e-mailed perceived death threats over the weekend and Utah Highway Patrol authorities confirmed Monday they are investigating the matter and taking it “very seriously.”

Reps. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, and Chris Herrod, R-Provo, were the only two state lawmakers to receive the one-and-a-half page letter, confirmed top state law enforcement officials, who said they were too early in the investigation to determine the severity of the threat....

The Thugs Come Out in Wisconsin
Many of the letters from Wisconsin today have to do with violence: threats against Governor Walker and members of his administration, the increases in their security details, their worries about their spouses and children, and so on. I have heard from people closely connected to the threatened individuals. Their letters are hard to take.

The last few days have made quite clear that, if you cross the public-employee unions, you run risks: and not merely political risks (which are nothing)....

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

'Curveball': I lied about WMD to hasten Iraq war
An Iraqi defector who went by the codename 'Curveball' has publicly admitted for the first time that he made up stories about mobile bioweapons trucks and secret factories to try to bring down Saddam Hussein’s regime.

"I had a problem with the Saddam regime," Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, who fled Iraq in 1995, told The Guardian newspaper. "I wanted to get rid of him and now I had this chance."

Al-Janabi’s information was used in part by the U.S. as justification for the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. More than 100,000 people, most of them Iraqi civilians, have died in the war. The U.S. began to withdraw its troops from Iraq last summer....

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Don’t put wire on your windows – it might hurt burglars! Villagers outraged after police order them not to protect garden sheds
Residents in Surrey and Kent villages have been ordered by police to remove wire mesh from their windows as burglars could be injured.

Home owners in the villages of Tandridge and Tatsfield in Surrey and in Westerham, Brasted and Sundridge in Kent have said they are furious that they are being branded 'criminals' for protecting their property.

Locals had reinforced their windows with wire mesh after a series of shed thefts but were told by community police officers that the wire was 'dangerous' and could lead to criminals claiming compensation if they 'hurt themselves'....

NJ pro se plaintiffs: HCR waivers are unconstitutional
...Professor Philip Hamburger of the Columbia University School of Law wrote in National Review Online two days ago that the waivers are an unconstitutional extension of executive power. The Department of Health and Human Services has at last count granted 733 such waivers to various large corporations, labor unions, and not-for-profit organizations, exempting them from the rises in the annual limits of coverage that HR 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, mandates beginning September 23, 2010. In addition, HHS has waived these limit rises for all insurers in four States (Kentucky, New Jersey, Ohio, and Tennessee) that have laws on the books, passed before September 23, that set lower annual limits in order to keep healthcare insurance affordable.

Hamburger argues that the waivers are akin to royal dispensations, which kings of England began to grant to some of their subjects in imitation of the papal dispensations of the Middle Ages. After the "Glorious" Revolution of 1688 (William and Mary), Parliament revoked the power to dispense or suspend any law except where Parliament itself authorized the king so to act. In the American Revolution, States similarly restricted the power to suspend a law (which suspension would apply to everyone) and forbade the dispensing authority, which would amount to a special favor. And the United States Constitution nowhere allows the Congress even to delegate to the President the authority to suspend any law, and never once recognizes any authority, by any branch of government, to dispense with a law a priori as it would apply to the acts of any one person or group. The President may grant a reprieve or pardon, but may do that only after the fact, not before the fact....

Big Green groups tell Obama to tell Canada to Drop Dead
... “Canada is our nation’s number one trading partner. Tens of thousands of jobs in the U.S. have been created by development of our ally and neighbor Canada's oil sands.

"As our greatest supplier of petroleum products, we rely every day on the affordable, reliable energy that flows from the north to fuel our cars, heat our homes, and keep our economy running.

"While the Obama Administration refuses to issue permits here in the United States to develop our vast energy resources, relying on Canada for oil imports prevents our further dependence on more hostile foreign nations where civil unrest and dictatorships are more likely to disrupt production.

“Unfortunately, anti-energy groups here in the U.S. are treating Canada as if they are one of those hostile foreign nations. In their letter to President Obama, they urged him to prevent the Keystone XL Pipeline project from being built.

"Disregarding the mutually beneficial nature of the project, the well-paying jobs it would create, and the badly-needed economic boon it would provide for our suffering economy, these anti-energy activists condemn the pipeline as ‘dangerous’ and ‘unnecessary’.

"Instead, they claim that expanded mass transit and forcing Americans to buy electric cars is a more sensible solution.

“The opposition of environmentalists to the Keystone XL pipeline underscores their desire to increase the price of energy and increase our use of energy from unstable regimes.

"The Department of Energy recently reported that with the Keystone XL delivering oil to America, we could dramatically reduce our oil imports from the Middle East, which is exactly why environmentalists want to stop the Pipeline.

"We need affordable, reliable energy. The Keystone XL pipeline would provide that. We applaud Prime Minister Harper for standing up for Americans and trying to bolster our energy supplies.

"Now the only thing that stands in the way of providing affordable, reliable energy to Americans is the Obama administration and their continuing war on affordable, reliable energy.”...

Agent: I was ordered to let U.S. guns into Mexico
Federal agent John Dodson says what he was asked to do was beyond belief.

He was intentionally letting guns go to Mexico?

"Yes ma'am," Dodson told CBS News. "The agency was."

An Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms senior agent assigned to the Phoenix office in 2010, Dodson's job is to stop gun trafficking across the border. Instead, he says he was ordered to sit by and watch it happen.

Investigators call the tactic letting guns "walk." In this case, walking into the hands of criminals who would use them in Mexico and the United States. ...

...Agent Dodson and other sources say the gun walking strategy was approved all the way up to the Justice Department. The idea was to see where the guns ended up, build a big case and take down a cartel. And it was all kept secret from Mexico.

ATF named the case "Fast and Furious."

Surveillance video obtained by CBS News shows suspected drug cartel suppliers carrying boxes of weapons to their cars at a Phoenix gun shop. The long boxes shown in the video being loaded in were AK-47-type assault rifles.

So it turns out ATF not only allowed it - they videotaped it.

Documents show the inevitable result: The guns that ATF let go began showing up at crime scenes in Mexico. And as ATF stood by watching thousands of weapons hit the streets... the Fast and Furious group supervisor noted the escalating Mexican violence.

One e-mail noted, "958 killed in March 2010 ... most violent month since 2005." The same e-mail notes: "Our subjects purchased 359 firearms during March alone," including "numerous Barrett .50 caliber rifles."...

Guns tracked by firearms bureau found at firefight scene
...As the allegations have come to light, gun dealers across the southwest border have said the ATF has for years been quietly gathering information about questionable multiple purchases and even asking gun dealers to gather information, including descriptions and license plate numbers of suspicious buyers.

Dick DeGuerin, who represents Houston gun dealer Bill Carter, owner of Carter Country, said the company is now being threatened with a federal indictment as a result of multiple sales to purported straw purchasers — sales he said were not only reported to the ATF, but which federal agents encouraged Carter Country employees to complete.

"What's going on now is some of these agents are scared of their own careers, and are afraid to own up to the fact that they encouraged Carter Country to go through with these sales," DeGuerin said. "The breakdown came with, what did the ATF do with the information that Carter Country was delivering to them? Apparently, they didn't do much."...

Why 33 rounds makes sense in a defensive weapon
...What's often lost amid activists' carping is that the effect of the notorious extended magazine does little to improve the pistol's lethality except in extraordinary circumstances, such as Tucson. Neither Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech mass murderer, nor the alleged Fort Hood killer used extended magazines in their rampages. America's first gun mass murder, when Howard Unruh killed 13 people in 1949, was committed with a Luger.

In fact, the extended magazine actually vitiates the pistol's usefulness as a weapon for most needs, legitimate or illegitimate. The magazine destroys the pistol's essence; it is no longer concealable. Loughner allegedly wrapped the clumsy package in a coat for a short distance, but he could not have worn it in a belt or concealed it for an extended period. It had really ceased to be a pistol.

That's why extended magazines are rarely featured in crime - and that awkwardness spells out the magazine's primary legitimate usage. It may have some utility for competitive shooting by cutting down on reloading time, or for tactical police officers on raids, but for those who are not hard-core gun folks it's an ideal solution for home defense, which is probably why hundreds of thousands of Glocks have been sold in this country.

Particularly in rural Arizona, given the upsurge in border violence, it's likely that residents feel the need to defend themselves against drug predators, coyote gunmen or others. Yes, they can use semiautomatic rifles and shotguns, protected by the Second Amendment and unlikely to be banned by local law, but women generally don't care to put in the training needed to master them. Nor can the elderly handle them adeptly.

For them, the Glock with a 33-round magazine is the weapon of maximum utility. You can load it on Sunday and shoot it all month. (Nobody wants to reload a gun while being shot at.) It's light and easy to control. You don't have to carry it or conceal it; it's under the bed or in the drawer until needed. When the question arises of who needs an extended magazine, the answer is: the most defenseless of the defenseless. ...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Famous Quotes by Ayn Rand
For centuries, the battle of morality was fought between those who claimed that your life belongs to God and those who claimed that it belongs to your neighbors - between those who preached that the good is self-sacrifice for the sake of ghosts in heaven and those who preached that the good is self-sacrifice for the sake of incompetents on earth. And no one came to say that your life belongs to you and that the good is to live it.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

California Hospital Alleges SEIU Extortion
In a meticulously detailed press release issued on February 2nd, Prime Healthcare Services (PHS), the largest for-profit hospital system in California, announced they are victim of an extortion campaign by the Service Employees International Union – United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU) over the past year. What PHS is going through is a classic example of tactics the SEIU often employs with companies who won’t accede to their demands.

One of the contributing editors to Union Watch, Dave Bego, has written a book “Devil at My Doorstep” that chronicles his battles with the SEIU when they attempted to unionize the workers in his company. Throughout his book he emphasizes that what his company has gone through is consistent with a strategy of intimidation and extortion used by the SEIU whenever they encounter resistance....

Are Health-Care Waivers Unconstitutional?
...Waivers are mostly, if not entirely, for politically significant businesses and unions that get the special attention of HHS or the White House. The rest of us must obey the laws.

As it happens, waivers have a history. In the Middle Ages, the pope granted waivers, known as dispensations, and English kings soon followed suit. Technically, these grants relied on what were called “non obstante clauses” — clauses in which the king specified that, notwithstanding a particular law, the recipient of the grant could do as he pleased. Supplementing this dispensing power was the suspending power. Whereas a dispensation waived compliance with a statute for a particular individual or corporation, a suspension waived compliance for everyone.

The underlying justification was that the king had absolute power — a power above the law — and this caused consternation. ...

Yes, They’re Overpaid
...The standard approach to comparing the salaries of different groups is to employ the “human capital model,” which assumes that workers are paid according to their skills and personal characteristics. If any group differences in wages remain after controlling for age, education, experience, race, gender, marital status, immigration status, state of residence, and so on, then one group is said to enjoy a wage premium over the others. Economists using this approach find that federal workers generally earn wages 10 percent to 20 percent higher than comparable private sector workers. When we ran a similar analysis with 2009 wage data from the Current Population Survey (CPS), the result was a 12 percent premium. James Sherk of the Heritage Foundation found that the federal premium today could be as much as 22 percent, depending on the specific control variables employed. In general, the federal pay premium is very large for lower and middle-skilled employees and shrinks for the best-qualified federal workers....

...In the late 1990s, the Postal Service surveyed all new hires, asking them how much they were paid in their previous job. Overall, new postal hires received salaries over 28 percent higher than what they had been paid in the private sector, which University of Pennsylvania law professor Michael Wachter and his co-authors called “enormous wage increases over their previous wages in full-time private sector jobs.” ...

...Federal workers quit their jobs at less than one-third the rate of private workers, which suggests federal employees don’t feel they can get a better combination of salary, benefits, and job perks in the private sector. Just as fixed effects naturally accounts for many hard-to-measure skill differences, quit rate analysis automatically encompasses the full range of compensation in each sector.

For years, defenders of federal pay have attributed low quit rates to the fact that federal employees receive traditional defined benefit pensions, which reward long job tenure and discourage midcareer employees from leaving. Richard Ippolito, the author of a 1987 study that made this claim, suggested what he called a “litmus test” for his theory: Switch federal employees from traditional defined benefit to 401(k)-type defined contribution plans, then see if quit rates change. “If federal workers are paid too much relative to their quality level,” Ippolito wrote, “the quit rate will not change much; if their pay is too low, the quit rate will increase markedly.”

As it happens, history has provided this test: While federal employees hired before 1984 have only defined benefit pensions, those hired after 1984 have a smaller defined benefit pension coupled with a defined contribution plan. If the pension job lock theory were correct, quit rates today should be much higher than in 1984. In fact, precisely the opposite is the case: Quit rates among federal workers hired after 1984 are actually around 30 percent lower than for similar workers in 1984. ...

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Friday, February 04, 2011

SEIU: Riding the Waiver Wave
We conservatives give the MSM a lot of heat for its bias, but Alexander Bolton at The Hill had a story Wednesday for which we should commend him. He noted that the SEIU, which had led the charge against the GOP effort to repeal Obamacare, is one of the unions that has obtained wavers from the White House to exempt thousands of its employees from the onerous Obamacare requirements....
'String Him Up'
Racist and eliminationist rhetoric at a Common Cause rally.

...Hartsock: After we impeach Clarence Thomas, what do we do with him? Let's keep it real.

Middle-aged white man with mustache: Put him in--put him in--put him back in the, um--put him back in the fields. I mean, he's a scumbag.

Hartsock: Yeah!

Mustache: He's a dumb sh-- scumbag. Put him back in the fields!

Hartsock: But what about Alito?

Mustache: Alito should--Alito should go back to Sicily.

Hartsock: Yeah. But what about Fox News?

Mustache: Fox News? That's a mis--misappropriation of the English language. There is no news on Fox.

Hartsock: So what do we do with them?

Mustache: Break Rupert Murdoch. Never--never give him a dime. I never turn on Fox, I never give a cent to Rupert Murdoch, and every day I vote with my dollars.

Hartsock: What do we do with Roger Ailes? What do we do with Roger Ailes?

Mustache: Roger Ailes should be strung up and--but, ah, I don't know. Kill the bastard.

[Change of scene]

Hartsock: Justice for Anita Hill. What do we do?

Young woman with sunglasses and nose ring 1: We cut off his toes one by one and feed them to him. . . .

[Change of scene]

Hartsock: What do you say we do with Clarence Thomas after we impeach him?

Young woman with sunglasses and nose ring 2: Bad things.

Hartsock: Like what?

Nose ring 2: I dunno, 'cause I'm all about peace, but I would say torture.

[Change of scene]

Hartsock: [After] we impeach Clarence Thomas, what do we do with him?

Middle-aged woman with squeaky voice: What do we do with him? String him up. And his wife, too. Let's get rid of Ginny.

Hartsock: And then what?

Squeaky: Start all over. Scalia, uh, who are the other a--h---s? I'm sorry.

Hartsock: No, it's OK.

Squeaky: Yeah.

Hartsock: String 'em up, eh?

Squeaky: String 'em up.

Unidentified off-camera male voice: No Koch, no way!

Squeaky: Thomas--Thomas, his wife, Scalia, Roberts--oh my God!

[Change of scene]

Hartsock: After we impeach Clarence Thomas, what should we do with him?

Unidentified off-screen male voice: [unintelligible]

Young man with sunglasses: I don't want to--

Young woman with unpierced nose: I can't say that. I don't want to be on camera saying that.

Hartsock: Saying what? You can say--you can say anything, we're all friends.

Sunglasses: Hang him....

Federal judge holds Obama administration in contempt over drilling “permitorium”
When Judge Martin Feldman ordered the federal government to end its moratorium on deep-sea drilling, he actually meant it. In a ruling earlier today, the federal judge in New Orleans has held the Obama administration in contempt for its “defiance” in reimposing the moratorium through other means...

...The government has not issued a permit to drill in nine months, evidence that the White House has attempted to evade Feldman’s orders. ...
The Obama waivers start to spread
We already have more than 700 waivers to the requirements of ObamaCare in place, with 40% of those affected being in unions. Now we see waivers beginning in another area of the Obama administration’s key policy areas — greenhouse gas emissions. In January, the administration began enforcing new EPA rules on new or expanding power plants, and within just a few weeks, announced the first waiver of those rules...
"Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the
distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we
object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we
object to its being done at all."
-- Frederic Bastiat

The Coming Middle-Class Anarchy
...TV has given us the illusion that anarchy is people rioting in the streets, smashing car windows and looting every store in sight. But there’s also the polite, quiet, far deadlier anarchy of the core citizenry—the upright citizenry—throwing in the towel and deciding it’s just not worth it anymore.

If a big enough proportion of the populace—not even a majority, just a largish chunk—decides that it’s just not worth following the rules anymore, then that society’s days are numbered: Not even a police-state with an armed Marine at every corner with Shoot-to-Kill orders can stop such middle-class anarchy.

Brian and Ilsa are such anarchists—grey-haired, well-dressed, golf-loving, well-to-do, exceedingly polite anarchists: But anarchists nevertheless. They are not important, or powerful, or influential: They are average—that’s why they’re so deadly: Their numbers are millions. And they are slowly, painfully coming to the conclusion that it’s just not worth it anymore. ...

The collapse of the government paradigm
...However, because government has no delegated power to intervene in such matters, we certainly should get rid of federal regulations that allow an outfit such as the UAW to effectively bankrupt an outfit such as General Motors -- and especially wacky, unconstitutional "bailout" interventions like the one that kept GM from shedding its unsustainable union contracts in bankruptcy. Barring such federal tilting of the playing field, trade unions can rarely coerce disastrous financial concessions unless the workers have a true monopoly on rare skills -- like professional athletes.

Why aren't National Football League players protected by OSHA, by the way? There must be some kind of an exemption, or the OSHA inspectors would surely look at knee-injury and concussion statistics and require the game be changed to two-hand touch, forthwith.

At the same time businesses can be fined for failing to label piles of sand as "hazardous materials" (not making that up), who else is exempt, and why? How precisely does OSHA help those who work in our most deadly professions, including deep sea fishing, cab driving and hard-rock mining? Has OSHA been successful in requiring employers to allow cabdrivers to carry handguns for self-defense? Why not? Federal regulations overrule local ordinances, don't they? Check your 14th Amendment, enacted specifically to stop the states from disarming the poor....

The last thing I have to say about Tiger Mothers I hope
...And here the point has been made easier to make by the curious fact that Tiger Mom is a Yale Law School professor and as Professor Bainbridge has pointed out, it seems almost an epidemic among faculty parents in New Haven. My fear is that little tiger kittens are not being groomed to make things that you and I can buy if we feel like it. I'm afraid, call me paranoid if you like, that those little achievers will want to grow up to, well, rule. ...

A Pacifist Finds Her Call to Arms
The ongoing war of words between Glenn Beck and Frances Fox Piven over the prospect of workers rioting in the streets isn’t just a two-way dance. Stanley Kurtz has provided insight into Piven’s work over the years in his book, Radical-in-Chief, and a prominent figure of the left, Barbara Ehrenreich, has fired back. In an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, Ehrenreich said that the reaction to Piven’s writings shows that America is “no longer a democracy but a tyranny of the heavily armed.”

Ehrenreich’s position contains a kernel of truth, but the real armed tyranny is the one Piven seeks to impose....

...More disturbing is Ehrenreich’s blindness to -- or obfuscation of -- the fact that government is organized violence, and a push for government to do more is not a pacifistic stance. The rule of law is the threshold at which the government will spill blood and confiscate treasure. Changing the rule of law to guarantee equality of outcomes, not simply equality of opportunity, is a proposal for violence.

Government enforcement of a redistributive policy -- taxes to support more handouts have to come from somewhere -- is done with at least the implicit threat of violence sanctioned by the state. Try and resist and at some point men with guns -- the police, IRS, or Marshals -- get involved. SEIU President Andy Stern put this option on the table, explaining that his organization was using the “power of persuasion” before getting government to use the “persuasion of power.”

Ehrenreich talks a good game about seeking peace, but in the end she’s simply cheerleading from the other side of the battlefield. ...

Man arrested in threat made against Stuart's Rep. William Snyder shortly after Arizona shootings
A self-described Massachusetts "political activist" was arrested Monday night and charged with sending a threatening e-mail to Florida Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart, an hour after the Arizona shooting that killed six and critically injured U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

The unsigned e-mail, sent to Snyder's state House of Representatives address on Jan. 8, told the legislator to "stop that ridiculous law if you value your and your familie's lives."

Snyder has proposed a bill cracking down on illegal immigration for Florida in a manner similar to what Arizona has done....

Flashback Video: Robert Byrd, Other Dems Blame Global Warming For LACK Of Snow
Last year, Washington DC has experienced the biggest single snowfall since George Washington and Thomas Jefferson penned an unofficial 3-foot dumping back in the winter of 1772. Liberals have used the snowfall to claim it is due to global warming since hot air can carry more water vapor (neglecting the fact that it would also produce more cloud cover and thus block more sunlight ultimately cooling, not warming, the planet). Yet these same liberals claim global warming when there is a lack of snow. ...

Obama SOTU 2010 redux: "If we truly care about our deficit, we simply cannot afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans." Top 1% alrwady pay more than bottom 95%
...For the commenters that are looking at percentage income, do keep in mind that those numbers are before taxes, so in essence, meaningless. Also, those closer to the bottom are being subsidized quite heavily and are getting benefits from a system they aren't paying into at all. From Zero Hedge: In Entitlement America, The Head Of A Household Of Four Making Minimum Wage Has More Disposable Income Than A Family Making $60,000 A Year...

Oak Ridge doctor defends cavity search in trial of man whom he paralyzed for exam
When it came to the extraordinary move to paralyze an Anderson County man to search his body for drugs, this doctor didn't hesitate.

"That exam was going to occur with or without his consent," Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge Dr. Michael LaPaglia testified Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

Now, Felix Booker's defense attorney is hoping a jury hearing about the most controversial warrantless body cavity search in local law enforcement history will do what a federal judge would not - toss out a charge the 21-year-old Booker intended to sell the 5.7 grams of crack hidden in his rectum....

Superior Court rules Ontario Human Rights Tribunal hearing was unfair
A Mississauga businesswoman whose home was ordered seized to pay an Ontario Human Rights Tribunal award to a former employee can keep her house — for now.

The Superior Court struck down the “fatally flawed” decision as so unfair to defendant Maxcine Telfer — who represented herself in the hearing — that it was “simply not possible to logically follow the pathway taken by the adjudicator.”

That October 2009 decision ordered Telfer to pay $36,000 to a woman who had been her employee for six weeks. Lawyers wanted the sheriff to seize and sell Telfer’s home to collect the money.

The woman who lodged the complaint, Seema Saadi, told the tribunal she felt pressured to wear skirts and heels instead of her hijab. Saadi also said Telfer complained about the smell of food that she warmed in the microwave. ...
Anti-Koch progressives call for violent acts against Justice Clarence Thomas at rally
...A young woman at the rally said that though she was “all about peace,” she would like for Thomas to undergo "torture.”

Two other protesters appear to call for Thomas’s death. When asked what should happen to Thomas, one person says "hang him” while another protester says "string him up.”...
Gasland: how to turn good news into bad
...What’s missing from Gasland is the equally pertinent observation that environmentalists are desperately trying to find a reason to scare people away from a cheap new source of energy that isn’t renewable or zero-carbon. If shale gas takes off, as it seems to be doing, the pressure from scares about ‘peak oil’ and the dangers of deepwater drilling for energy won’t have the same purchase in the public’s mind.

As one analyst wrote in the Wall Street Journal last year: ‘I have been studying the energy markets for 30 years, and I am convinced that shale gas will revolutionise the industry—and change the world—in the coming decades. It will prevent the rise of any new cartels. It will alter geopolitics. And it will slow the transition to renewable energy.’...

Scepticism is not an ‘attack on science’
...Thus, the debate is multi-dimensional, and controversy exists throughout. But for Nurse, identifying the areas of disagreement and offering up an analysis isn’t the point. Instead, he takes for granted that ‘the science is in’, and wonders why trust in scientific authority seems to have been eroded. One reason for this loss of trust just might be that controversies and other inconveniences are swept aside by the polarisation of the debate, leaving a perception that authoritarian impulses are hiding behind scientific consensus. ...