Sunday, May 31, 2009

Betcha didn't know...

… that the census counts illegal immigrants as well as legal.

The decennial census, which counts all people regardless of immigration status, is used to allocate federal funds for education, housing, healthcare, transportation and other local needs. By some estimates, every person counted results in $1,000 in federal funds.

It’s this reality that is at the heart of a battle between two pro-illegal immigrant factions.

The Washington, D.C.-based National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders, which says it represents 20,000 Latino churches in 34 states, recently announced that a quarter of its 4 million members were prepared to join the boycott as a way to intensify pressure for legalization and to protect themselves from government scrutiny.

Of course, this has angered many other pro-illegal immigrant groups who rightly recognize the census as the key to the Federal goody bag and the further subsidization of the criminal act that is illegal immigration.

So what’s the logic behind the D.C. group’s call to boycott the census? They are fearful that because illegal immigrants are counted in the census it would result in more federal funding coming to California which would be “used against them to increase arrests and harrassment by local law enforcement”, or as is known in saner circles, “enforcing the law”.

At any rate, it will be fun to see which strategery prevails. In the coming months, we also will be looking into the ethics of participation/non-participation in a questionnaire that wants to know our ethnicity, how much we make and, of course, whether or not our crib has a flush toilet... and yeah, census ludditism.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Radio KBwD is on the air

We got a call from ‘Dawg who is out on the road today from deli in Oceanside. The jukebox in the deli was playing a band from San Diego with which ‘Dawg was rather impressed. ‘Dawg asked us if we had heard of them. We had not, so we did some surfing and came up with some info which, of course, included their very own Wiki page.

Ladies and Gentlemen, straining to be heard above the roar of inbound commercial jets at San Diego’s Lindbergh Field, it’s Grand Ole Party performing "Belle Isle" at the Casbah.

Here we go again (UPDATED... Again!)

(UPDATE #2): Well, it looks like cooler heads, common sense and of course, the threat of having the county’s pants sued-off have actually been allowed to prevail as the county of San Diego will not force David Jones and his wife to obtain a permit in order to hold worship services in their home in rural Bonita.

There are still some troubling aspects to this as the county claimed that this was merely a parking/traffic issue, although, the lawyer representing Jones claimed that neither parking nor traffic was ever mentioned by the code compliance office in his visit to the Jones home and parking/traffic is not mentioned in the official warning. And indeed, the questioning of Jones by this officer documented below certainly suggests this was a shakedown, pure and simple.

And we loved this paragraph from today’s San Diego Union-Tribune:

The Joneses assert that the county's action violates their rights under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion. Their story was picked up by conservative Web sites for days, then made it to CNN yesterday.

Translation: Because this incident has been all over the blogosphere for days and was even picked up by the BBC, we as the newspaper of record here in the San Diego area decided we better get off our asses and play some catch-up.

(here endeth the update)

A local pastor and his wife claim they were interrogated by a San Diego County official, who then threatened them with escalating fines if they continued to hold Bible studies in their home, 10News reported.

Attorney Dean Broyles of The Western Center For Law & Policy was shocked with what happened to the pastor and his wife.

Broyles said, "The county asked, 'Do you have a regular meeting in your home?' She said, 'Yes.' 'Do you say amen?' 'Yes.' 'Do you pray?' 'Yes.' 'Do you say praise the Lord?' ‘Yes’”.

There’s got to be something in the water here in San Diego. Maybe what makes for the great micro-brews also causes dementia in its zoning and code compliance officials. First, there was the case of harassment out in Guatay last year(we need to do some follow-up on that one) and then a similar situation in neighboring Lemon Grove and now county busy-bodies are harassing home worshippers in Bonita.

Funny thing about code compliance, with which we have some limited experience, it doesn’t happen overnight, meaning one doesn’t call up code compliance bitching about lack of parking and code-compliance guy shows up that day, or the next… or even the next day after that. It doesn’t work that way, at least, in our experience.

The amount of documentation we were asked to compile regarding our crack-head neighbors across the street was certainly a disincentive to getting the city to force them to clean-up their front yard, remove the dumpster from their driveway and remove any derelict vehicles that found their way onto the premises from time to time.

With the city and county in the fiscal messes they are in, to say that this is a slight misplacing of priorities is a bit of an understatement. And the ham-fisted manner (“Do you day ‘Amen?’”) in which this appears to be executed is becoming an all too familiar theme.

So either someone has got an awful lot of time on their hands or someone has a rather large-sized arthropod up his posterior or possibly both. Either way, the county of San Diego looks like its got another 1st amendment-defying P.R. disaster on its hands. Nice work, fellas.

(UPDATE #1): Video below provides some more detail on the matter and it looks like there's more here than a mere phantom parking concern. It would appear that it's also a good ol'fashioned shake-down as these folks are worshipping without (gasp) the proper permits.

Let's "Bee"-it up, y'all

Yet another wunderkind whose name we cannot pronounce (let alone, spell) walks off with the hardware and 40 grand at the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thurday night.

Kavya Shivashankar (or in American Indian “she who generates squiggly red lines in Microsoft Office") of Kansas was the winner. And the winning word? Laodicean – which, of course, means an indifference to politics or religion… a sentiment with which we are entirely familiar around here.

And here’s Dad:

"This is the moment we've been waiting for; it's a dream come true," Mirle Shivashankar said. "We haven't skipped meals, we haven't lost sleep, but we've skipped a lot of social time."

Congratulations, Kavya – now go outside and play with your friend(s) for a few years or something.

But who are we kidding. This post was just an excuse to run one of the funniest moments in Bee history. This, from last year’s competition.

Friday, May 29, 2009

You just can't please everybody

She’s the pick of a highly popular president whose Party is in firm control of the Senate and though she is viewed with skepticism by many on the right, do you know what has some people really freaked out about Sonia Sotomayor? That she may not be sufficiently radical enough when it comes to abortion rights.

Read more here.

P.S. We want to impart some comforting words to the abortion rights crowd. Sotomayor was picked by a man who represents the platinum standard for absolutely unfettered abortion rights. We don't think there's a whole lot to be worried about.

A (very) novel concept

A group of University of Chicago students think it's time the campus focused more on its men.

A third-year student from Lake Bluff has formed Men in Power, a student organization that promises to help men get ahead professionally. But the group's emergence has been controversial, with some critics charging that its premise is misogynistic.

Others say it's about time men are championed, noting that recent job losses hit men harder and that women earn far more bachelor's and master's degrees than do men.

"It's an enormous disparity now," said Warren Farrell, author of "The Myth of Male Power" and former board member of the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women. He noted, among other things, an imbalance in government and private initiatives that advance the interests of women and girls.

This sounds like a fantastic idea to us. Steve Saltarelli, founder of this group which includes women, said Men in Power would host pre-professional groups in law, medicine and business, sponsor speakers as well as mentor local middle school students. And in particular with regard to mentoring, it is our belief that because of their collective life-experiences these, presumably middle-class males would provide better and wiser counseling to their young charges than would females regardless of their demographic background.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

"We've got to stop where?"

Fund raising can be kind of a drag, especially when you are more or less forced to go to Nevada... and you don't even make it to Vegas.

But sandwiched between political appearances, Obama squeezed in some quick public remarks on energy, ironically before burning fuel to Los Angeles, at Nevada's Nellis Air Force Base. It was a key stop, because it gives the entire trip an air of official legitimacy and allows the White House to write off part of the trip under rules governing travel, said Pete Sepp, vice president for policy and communications at the National Taxpayers Union.

We're wondering though, if the case above is kinda like those loopholes the Prez wants to close on all those rich people so they can better, you know, pay their fair share? Just askin'...

Smack of the Day

Ladies and gentlemen, you can't stop Joe Biden. In fact, you cannot even hope to contain him.

Going ad lib at the Air Force Academy commencement exercises last week, you get the sense dude is a little tired of being the butt of gaffe-master jokes (is it out of the realm of possibility to imagine that jokester himself, David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel cracking wise about him in Biden's presence) and that there may be a little tension between himself and his boss.


Some unfinished and unaddressed business we wanted to get around to...

We got a good chuckle at this headline from the NYT regarding the President’s graduation engagement at the United States Naval Academy last week.

Obama Is Embraced at Annapolis

Noting the dust-ups surrounding his visits to Arizona St. and Notre Dame, the Times falls all over itself with respect to the warm reception he received at Annapolis. We suppose we can’t really blame the Times, though. The extent to which they offer insight to the military entails leaking classified information on anti-terrorism efforts. As such, this condition might obscure the fact the Times would confuse military protocol and respect for the position and title of Commander-in-Chief for adoration.

And speaking of Notre Dame… the Domers are in talks with the Yankees regarding playing Army at the new Yankee Stadium as early as 2013. The old Yankee Stadium was the site of some epic matchups between the two in the first half of last century. Army had no comment regarding eventually dumping Notre Dame in order to upgrade their schedule.

The conventional wisdom holds that the history of President Bush’s policies regarding the War on Terror will need some time (years?) before it can be written. The conventional wisdom is wrong. It’s only taken 4 months as it is the current President who is writing and vindicating it as we speak. Read more here, from Charles Krauthammer.

And finally... wondering what to pick up in the way of "flair" for the Fridays waiter or waitress in your life? Check out these groovy gift ideas, here.

The Rolling Stones would take issue

With all apologies to Instaglen...

Hey, do you remember when they told us that if we voted for McCain it would mean a continuation of the Bush era environmental policies that weren’t grounded in reality and eschewed good hard science? Well, they were right.

KT has got the low-down here on a very cutting edge and innovative idea that has taken hold at the Department of Energy.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Of course, your opinion may differ

We had jury duty today and though we were de-selected once we made it to the box, we always find the instructions offered by the presiding judge and the line of questioning employed by both the prosecution and defense in order to select the jury to be informative.

Without getting into too much of the details, the case that was to be tried was the allegation that a woman with a history of mental problems (assumed) had committed fraud in illegally obtaining Social Security money.

We have appeared for jury duty probably half a dozen times and though we haven’t yet served in the jury box, the judges opening instructions, though pro forma, are entirely necessary. And this time the judge was no different as he asked us to be impartial jurors and to not let the gender, race, religion or sexual orientation of the defendant, the witnesses or that of the prosecution or defense bias our thinking either in favor or against.

“Is there anyone here, that will not be able to do this? I see no hands raised.”

The attorneys also asked individual jurors (those who had previous experiences with trying to obtain disability or social security, for example) if they could indeed remain impartial throughout the trial if they themselves had a negative experience in attempting to obtain the same.

The judge then introduced a term we had not heard before. It was jury nullification. It goes hand in hand with the requested impartiality but we suppose because of this case where (again, we are assuming) the defendant suffers from some mental health issues, the judge wanted to make sure that our emotions did not get the better of us. The judge illustrated the concept of jury nullification as being where a juror or jurors, regardless of the facts presented before them would move to acquit a defendant in protest of the applicable law(s) or the set of circumstances inherent to the case.

We’re proud we have the justice system as we do. We’re glad the judge takes what seems like an eternity to lay out the simple ground rules for executing a fair trial and that any biases and prejudices are weeded out as best as possible for as fair a trial as possible. And we are glad the lawyers for both the prosecution and defense assist in this effort.

It appears to by a system that is steeped in trying to obtain the highest of standards by demanding the best in mankind’s nature. These high standards which are un-swayed by emotion or prejudice but rather informed by the rule of law. And we think we can all agree that this is the best way to do this.

“You do what you think is right and let the law catch up”.
- Thurgood Marshall

Soak the rich, lose the rich

One of the reasons why states are having troubles balancing their budgets is because most pols believe that raising taxes will generate revenue by a geometrically corresponding degree. Simply raising the sales or income tax by say, 3% will not necessarily garner you a 3% gain in revenue. And this goes double for raising taxes at the margins on rich people.

Maryland couldn't balance its budget last year, so the state tried to close the shortfall by fleecing the wealthy. Politicians in Annapolis created a millionaire tax bracket, raising the top marginal income-tax rate to 6.25%. And because cities such as Baltimore and Bethesda also impose income taxes, the state-local tax rate can go as high as 9.45%. Governor Martin O'Malley, a dedicated class warrior, declared that these richest 0.3% of filers were "willing and able to pay their fair share." The Baltimore Sun predicted the rich would "grin and bear it."

One year later, nobody's grinning. One-third of the millionaires have disappeared from Maryland tax rolls. In 2008 roughly 3,000 million-dollar income tax returns were filed by the end of April. This year there were 2,000, which the state comptroller's office concedes is a "substantial decline." On those missing returns, the government collects 6.25% of nothing. Instead of the state coffers gaining the extra $106 million the politicians predicted, millionaires paid $100 million less in taxes than they did last year -- even at higher rates.

Unlike you and we, the rich are much more mobile and have houses in tax-friendly states such as Florida and South Carolina to which they can relocate.

Such is the folly though of having the rich, you know, pay their fair share.

Because the poor don’t pay much in the way of income tax anyway and the rich can get up and get out of town that leaves but our humble little platoons in the middle bearing the costs of a recession and an expansionist government.

H/T: Carpe Diem

Mystery: Solved

Article here documents the dramatic rise in threats against the nation’s judges and prosecutors which has caused some of the same to receive 24-hour protection from the U.S. Marshals.

So pronounced is the problem that the Marshals have opened up a high-tech center in Arlington, Virginia to monitor a 24-hour number for reporting threats and which uses sophisticated mapping software to track those being threatened. This threat HQ is linked-in as well with CIA and FBI databases.

Who’s responsible for these threats? Well, it’s a whole variety of people. The article documents rape suspects, drug offense defendants, homicide suspects and wacky moving violation guy. But there were some other folks in there for which the article did not did not provide any evidence of actual threats. And who were these people? We think you might know where we are going with this but we'll let the article explain:

Worried federal officials blame disgruntled defendants whose anger is fueled by the Internet; terrorism and gang cases that bring more violent offenders into federal court; frustration at the economic crisis; and the rise of the sovereign citizen movement – a loose collection of tax protesters, white supremacists and others who don't respect federal authority.

Whaaaaaa….? What the hell is this sovereign citizen movement? It sounds kind of cool but we’ve never heard of it. And “tax protesters”? How about an operational definition of the same? Is it someone who’s cheesed-off about how much he pays in taxes or is it someone who is being investigated or tried in court for being a tax cheat? Huge difference. And we’re sure the vagueness combined with the current relevancy of that term only to be lumped in with “white supremacists” was an implication not executed in a haphazard manner by the author of this article. Janeane Garofalo would wholeheartedly approve.

Well, at least we can put to bed the mystery of who penned that amateurish right-wing extremist threat assessment memo that came out of Homeland last month. Jerry Markon of the WaPo, congratulations on beclowning yourself. Nice work.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A long-awaited return engagement

So the President and Kim Jong Il walk into this bar...

B-Daddy of The Liberator Today has been out of circulation for a while but he's back. In his return post, B-Daddy offers some rare insight into what is really going on behind the scenes at the U.N. with respect to North Korea's nuke program testing. Please click here. We think you will enjoy it.

Meet Empathy

"[A]s judges we are neither Jew, nor Gentile, neither Catholic nor agnostic. We owe equal attachment to the Constitution and are equally bound by our judicial obligations whether we derive our citizenship from the earliest or the latest immigrants to these shores. As a member of this Court I am not justified in writing my private notions of policy into the Constitution, no matter how deeply I may cherish them or how mischievous I may deem their disregard."

—Justice Felix Frankfurter, dissenting in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 646 (1943).

I, XXX XXX, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as XXX under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.

- Federal judicial oath

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,”

- Supreme Court justice nominee, Sonia Sotomayor

Picture of the Day

This defacement of road signage popped up on a two-block stretch of road in Denver after the Nuggets dropped Game 1 of the Western Conference finals last Tuesday.

Our take-away from this incident is that one takes his graffiti very seriously when he uses template forms to illustrate.

H/T: Deadspin

The anti-terrorism policy that dare not speak its own name

The United States is now relying heavily on foreign intelligence services to capture, interrogate and detain all but the highest-level terrorist suspects seized outside the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, according to current and former U.S. government officials.

The change represents a significant loosening of the reins for the United States, which has worked closely with allies to combat violent extremism since the Sept. 11 attacks but is now pushing that cooperation to new limits.

In the past 10 months, for example, about a half-dozen midlevel financiers and logistics experts working with al-Qaeda have been captured and are being held by intelligence services in four Middle Eastern countries after the United States provided information that led to their arrests by local security services, a former U.S. counterterrorism official said.

Under a previous Presidential administration, the situation described above was known as “rendition”. Heretofore and in keeping with generally-recognized protocol, at least during this current administration, these practices will be known as “relying more on aid of allies”

Monday, May 25, 2009

Follow the money... if you can

Shortly after the economic stimulus bill was signed, Vice President Biden was talking up the administration's Web site to track the spending,, when he accidentally directed people to

As slip-ups go, this one had an upside: Unlike the government site, the privately run is actually providing detailed information about how the $787 billion in stimulus money is being spent.

We covered the bang-up job referenced private firm, Onvia, is doing in tracking the stimulus money, completely free of charge at their website, here.

And what do you think the person in charge of the federal government’s website thinks of all this? Here’s Earl Devaney, the Interior Department inspector general who is in charge of stimulus oversight and who claims there is only so much spending underway that can be tracked on

"I'm not being particularly apologetic about where this site is today," he said. "I would be if someone could show me anything that has happened that isn't on this site."

Much like Onvia, we here at BwD provide a public service completely free of charge regarding divining the intent and meaning of government bureaucrat-speak and with respect to Mister Devaney’s quote above…. Translation: "Kiss my ass"

P.S. Just think of how much more spending wouldn't/couldn't be tracked if they had actually dispersed more than 37% of the available funds to date.

Memorial Day 2009


Watch CBS Videos Online

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Photo of the Day

...because you can't take it with you.

(please click to enlarge.)

Marines disposing of a little excess inventory before departing Iraq to return home to Camp Pendleton.

Video clip of the day

A local Cleveland T.V. newscast goes a bit off script at the moment LeBron James sank the game-winning three with no time remaining in Friday night's game against the Orlando Magic in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Get to know a "speculator" (UPDATED)

(UPDATE #1):

The Obama administration is preparing to send General Motors into bankruptcy as early as the end of next week under a plan that would give the automaker tens of billions of dollars more in public financing as the company seeks to shrink and reemerge as a global competitor, sources familiar with the discussions said.

Oh goody. We wonder which group of creditors is going to get the shaft this time around. And then there is this from a separate article on the same subject:

GM would aim to win bankruptcy court approval by July 1 for a plan to separate its good brands and assets into a viable company, which could then emerge from bankruptcy on a rolling basis. Officials have been cheered by the speed of Chrysler’s bankruptcy process, but hopes that GM can follow a rapid path through court are being dimmed by a building backlash from lawmakers. Some are claiming that creditors’ rights are being given short shrift while others complain about job cuts and the closure of dealerships.

Short shrift..? Who cares? That Officials are cheered should be the only thing that matters.

(here endeth the update)

Sorry, we’re not letting this one go. It’s going to continue to stick in our craw for a while.

Recall how the Chrysler bankruptcy cram down dissident bondholders were openly ridiculed by the President as being merely “speculators” who were standing in the way of progress by not stepping aside for the unions. So, just who were these speculators? Greedy Wall St. types? Nope. It turns out that many of these first-in-line secured investors that were forced to take 29 cents on the dollar were teachers and other public servants.

Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock revealed this week that his state's police and teacher pension funds have lost millions of dollars in the Chrysler "restructuring." Indiana's State Police Fund and Major Moves Construction Fund, which finances roads and bridges, together lost more than $1 million. And the Teacher's Retirement Fund "suffered, at a minimum, a loss of $4.6 million due to the action of the Federal government," reports Mr. Mourdock

There was a time when being a secured investor meant you got taken care of ahead of everyone else. Ancient history, we suppose.

Radio KBwD is on the Air (...and comment of the day)

"I'd love to help ya son, but you're too young to vote."

Courtesy Hot Air’s Patrick S. on the non-story of a busload of kindergartners getting stuck in D.C. traffic (no way! way.) and then getting “snubbed” by the President in favor of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Ladies and Gentlemen, from Albert Lea, Minnesota, it's Eddie Cochran performing "Summertime Blues"

Happy unofficial beginning of summmer, everybody!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Tuesday afternoon matinee (UPDATED... Again!)

(UPDATE #2):Last weekend we wrote about the yawning gulf between our elected representatives and the voting public being central to the angst of the public currently and, in particular, to that of the Tea Party movement.

From a stimulus bill that no one read to the energy/cap-and-trade bill that we can confidently assert was apeed-read by at least a single young House hall monitor, the Star Wars cantina scene extra that patched this thing together provides yet more evidence of this gulf.

I really have no idea what's in this bill. It's just a bunch of sciency stuff that the scientists told me to put in it.

Actually, we're not being fair to Waxman. There is at least one provision in the bill that we assume he's aware of: unemployment benefits. Buried deep within the near-1,000 page bill is a defacto admission that either the cap and trade scheme is a job killer or that this bill won't produce the amount of green jobs it promises... or, possibly both.
(H/T: Hot Air)

(here endeth this update)

(UPDATE #1):This is your government. This is your government on speed.

Democrats in the House Energy and Commerce Committee have taken a novel precaution to head off Republican efforts to slow action this week on a sweeping climate bill.

They are hiring a speed reader.

Republicans on the committee have said they may force the reading of the entire 946-page bill -- as well as major amendments that measure several hundred pages -- all aloud. This is a procedure lawmakers have a right to invoke. Republicans are largely against the bill, which aims to cut emissions of so-called greenhouse gases by more than 80% over the next half-century but would be costly.

Republicans haven't tried the tactic, but Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D., Calif.) is prepared.

A committee spokeswoman said the speed reader -- a young man who was on door duty at the hearing as he awaited a call to the microphone -- was hired to help staffers. After years of practice, the panel's clerks can read at a good clip. But the speed reader is a lot faster, she said.

Looking on the bright side of things, we guess it’s a good thing that it’s the hall monitor that actually reads the crap this body legislates. And here’s the part where we try to muster some surprise or indignation about Congressional proceedings but we currently do not have the energy to do so. We try to keep that old adage in mind but while real sausage may contain no real net nutritional value, at least it tastes good.

(here endeth the update)

Recall the the boatload of public grief that both Hillary Clinton and Dick Cheney received for the secrecy held in attempting to form health care and energy policy, respectively during the first terms of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

So, how come the Star Wars cantina scene extra is not receiving the same scrutiny for fashioning the energy policy that will include cap and trade?

On Friday, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) released the closely-held details of his bill rationing energy use in the name of global warming, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES).

The details had been kept secret for two reasons. First, Waxman had been working desperately to buy off key Democrats on his own committee -- such as Virginia’s Rick Boucher and Michigan’s John Dingell -- whose states would suffer hugely under the “cap and tax” scheme, plus others with energy-intensive employers in their districts. He succeeded by, in short, giving energy use ration coupons to select employers for resale to some poor saps without Washington lobbyists.

As originally envisioned, these coupons or permits were to be bought and sold on a trading market - the proceeds of which were, in turn, going to fund a middle-classs tax cut. (Never mind the fact that the cost of purchasing these permits by private industry would’ve been passed right down the chain resulting higher gas, coal and natural gas prices). Turns out, however, a full 85% will be “given away”.

Picking winners and losers, baby!

Read more, here, and you get the sneaking suspicion that you may have seen this movie before. ACES may as well be "The Return of Porkulus" because just as Porkulus really had nothing to do with stimulating the economy, it appears that ACES, in actuality, doesn’t really have much to do with reducing carbon emissions.

Does this mean the Florida Gators will soon be playing off shore?

We suppose it was inevitable but in the never-ending search for revenue, the federal government has leveled it’s sights on collegiate athletics and, in particular, the nation’s largest Division 1-A sports programs.

A Congressional Budget Office report contends that 1-A athletic departments get 60% - 80% of their revenue from activities that can be described as commercial.

The study recommends changing the tax code by limiting the deductions for contributions and the use of tax exempt bonds as well as limiting the exemption from income taxation.

The Wizard of Odds has more, here.

P.S. We thought activities like this were the purview of the Treasury Department. Oh, that's right. They've been having some man power issues over there.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Anti-terrorism by the numbers

The President made his big national security speech at the National Archives today and in keeping with his forward-looking vision, blamed everything on the Bush administration… while, of course, opting to keep many of Bush’s anti-terrorism policies intact.

He called the prison at Guantanamo “a rallying cry for our enemies”. Really? You know what’s a rallying cry for our enemies? According to James Cromitie a.k.a. “Abdul Rahman” who is one of the four men who were caught in New York in an F.B.I. sting this week plotting to blowup synagogues and shoot down planes from the sky, it’s those damn Jews.

When the conversation turned to attacking a synagogue, Cromitie allegedly said, "I hate those Jewish "expletie." I would like to get a synagogue.

Cromitie also said that he wanted to return to Afghanistan to die as a “martyr”. But, but… Afghanistan is the “good” war.

Here’s what the President had to say about the 3 people we actually waterboarded

"As commander-in-chief, I see the intelligence, I bear responsibility for keeping this country safe, and I reject the assertion that these are the most effective means of interrogation. What’s more, they undermine the rule of law. They alienate us in the world. They serve as a recruitment tool for terrorists, and increase the will of our enemies to fight us, while decreasing the will of others to work with America. They risk the lives of our troops by making it less likely that others will surrender to them in battle, and more likely that Americans will be mistreated if they are captured. In short, they did not advance our war and counter-terrorism efforts – they undermined them, and that is why I ended them once and for all."

(italics, ours)

It’s the height of naivete to believe that these savages we’re fighting in the war on terror would treat any captives more humanely if only we weren’t water boarding our prisoners. For the Commander-in-Chief to hold this view is highly discouraging.

And reasonable people can differ on water boarding with respect to the rule of law but to claim that the decisions that were made over the last 8 years were “neither effective nor sustainable” is incredulous.

There’s a little saying, or more precisely, a single word that invokes a bottom line result when one wants to cut through the rhetoric and platitudes. It’s called “Scoreboard”. It’s a favorite of ours. Please join us, won’t you?

(Terrorism viewed as a criminal act and which no one seemed to take very seriously)

1993: World Trade Center bombing
1996: Khobar Tower bombing
1998: African embassy bombings
2000: USS COLE bombing
2001: 9-11 terrorist attacks

(Country wakes up, gets serious about terrorism, opens Club Gitmo and unleashes an orgy of enhanced interrogation techniques upon the bad guys)

Sept. 12, 2001 – present: 0

That, ladies and gentleman, is Scoreboard.


… a break from Bush.

Between the spending of money we don’t have, renditions, military tribunals, wire-taps, etc., many people were wondering what policies of Bush, Obama would actually overturn or change course on.

Hey, how about slashing the funding to fight Aids in Africa?

And now for something a little more serious in nature

We realize that technically speaking, it's still spring but this weekend will mark the unofficial beginning of summer and with that the roll-out of college football preview issue magazines.

We must say, we’re quite looking forward to this season for no other reason than 3 of the top quarterbacks in the land from last season have chosen to return for their senior years. Tim Tebow (Florida, and Heisman winner one year removed), Sam Bradford (Oklahoma, and defending Heisman winner) and Colt McCoy (Texas).

One thing we will try to refrain from this year that has become somewhat of a cottage industry (even within this blog) is BCS-bashing. We hate it. You hate it and you all know we hate it. It’s a dead horse that has a large stick setting next to it that we will try our darndest to leave be.

One thing we will not stop bashing however is Big 12 defenses. And, yes, this would stem in no small part to being subjected to the same criticisms of our homer Pac-10 conference. I do not recall, however, at any time over the years where half the Pac-10 QBs rolled up passing completion percentages that if converted into grades would’ve garnered them a C+/B- in school.

And you know who else we’re not going to stop bashing? Notre Dame, that’s who. Especially when they and their pompous coach, Charlie Weis, make it so easy to do. This year’s edition of the Notre Dame media guide has omitted the losing season from his year-by-year biography because the athletic department wants to treat him as if he were an assistant coach… or something. Read more, here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Time to look in the mirror?

So, now that we’ve successfully shot down the budget propositions, now what?

And since we’re asking, just how much of the blame for the state’s budget mess is of our own, meaning “we the voters”, doing? It’s certainly a fair question and not from the standpoint of “we keep voting the same types of knuckle heads into office” – not that that is not a valid point. We’re sure it happens from time to time but we can’t recall the last time a bond measure that involved education or transportation got shot down by the voters.

The absolute fact of the matter is, we love bond measures! A few billion here to build a high-speed rail from L.A. to San Fran? Sure. Another few hundred million to repair schools? You betcha. And $6 billion for stem cell research? No problemo.

To be fair, each individual bond measure stands on its own, merit-wise. We’re not here to trash any individual bond or the bond initiative process but to call attention to the failure of the royal “we” to realize that each bond measure passed will require an obligation on the state’s general fund in way of interest payments. We lied. We don’t have $20-30 billion to build this rail road and we don’t have the money for stem cell research. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

At some point, Californians are going to have to come to grips with the fact that there is an actual price tag associated with these bond measures that requires some sober assessment instead of the reflexive impulse to hit/fill-in/punch-out the “Yes” button/bubble/chad that suggests the level of cognitive internal debate for a random bond measure was, “You had me at ‘It’s for the children’”.

And, we suppose, an equally fair retort to this is: Where on god’s green earth does all that bond revenue go? We keep being asked to pass (and we do) education bond after education bond which set atop already the rather large K-12 slice of the state’s budget pie and then we are told K-12 is grossly under-funded, our students are under-performing and we’re facing a shortage of teachers. What in the hell is going on here and how can this be?

This provides a nice segue to return to our normally-scheduled bashing of Sacramento politicians.

Looking on the bright side of Federal meddling

President Barack Obama will announce tough new nationwide rules for automobile mileage and emissions today, embracing standards that California has sought to enact for years over the objections of the auto industry and the Bush administration.

The rules, which will begin to take effect in 2012 and are based on 2002 California legislation, will impose the first-ever limits on climate-altering gases from cars and trucks.

The effect will be a single national standard that will create a car and light-truck fleet in the United States that is almost 40 percent cleaner and more fuel-efficient by 2016 than it is today, with an average of 35.5 miles per gallon.

35.5 miles per…? That’s nearly twice what we get right now. OK, so we will be paying an extra $1,300 more for a new car and the lighter cars manufactured in order to meet those standards may cost a few lives but having to pay only half as much to fill our tank means more time out on the road along with everyone else and never again having to feel guilty about not car-pooling. Yaaaaaaay!

An entire cottage industry would like you to ignore this advice.

When work environments consistently fail to provide the direction, resources and respect employees require, their innate desire to achieve is suppressed or redirected. They experience frustration and a kind of learned helplessness. They become motivated to retain their jobs rather than to perform them in a way that delivers optimal value to the organization. This is a common and predictable problem. Once employees escape such a discouraging work environment, their motivation to deliver optimal value for their organization reemerges-- sometimes as they go over to a competitor.

Fortunately, and for the most part, we've been spared the organization motivational speaker-guy. We make up for it, though, with sexual harassment training.... a right or a privilege?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Euphemisms 101

So, just how was the Chrysler bankruptcy cram-down affected in such a “smooth and fast” manner? Well, according to this cheery New York Times Op/Ed piece titled “So Far So Good”, it was “because the government held its hand all the way” but also that

“Even then it took a sympathetic bankruptcy judge to convince a group of recalcitrant lenders that it was in their best interest to drop their opposition.”

The article is a tad murky as towards whom the judge was being sympathetic, because it sure as hell wasn’t the non-TARP bondholder dissidents.

And it certainly wasn’t the judge who did any “convincing”. He denied the non-TARP hold outs their constitutional right to due process and just compensation in the name of political expediency, forcing them to take far less on the dollar than other debt-holders in back of them in line which paved the way for the Administration to give a sweetheart deal to the unions.

No - the “convincing” part was done by the Administration who publicly shamed the dissident bondholders who also received death threats and claimed they were threatened privately with character assassination by the Administration’s head of the Auto Task Force, Steve Rattner.

The lack of coverage and lack of incredulity in the coverage of the Chrysler cram-down would be shocking if it all did not seem so typical.

But when this gross and unseemly abuse of government power gets reported on at all, rather than describing it in more accurate terms as the Feds performing acts of intimacy upon the bondholders that are still illegal in most southern states, it is otherwise depicted by Big Media as merely, “makin’ sweet, sweet love”.


Check this out.

Now, go here and ask yourself if any of it makes any sense whatsoever.

Hey... they asked. (UPDATED)

(UPDATE #1): the lengths we will go to help the Governor with the deficit and provide helpful suggestions on truly alternative energy sources...

With California facing a huge budget deficit, officials at the state Department of Finance saw an opportunity to resurrect a contentious proposal for oil drilling off the coast of Santa Barbara as a way to boost revenue and potentially bring $1.8 billion into state coffers over time.

(here endeth the update)

The U.S. Department of Energy has a new agency called the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy. They are soliciting ideas for the research and development of transformational energy-related technologies. By their definition, transformational technologies are those that "disrupt the status quo".

Hmm… Do you know what energy-related technology certainly fits the definition of disrupting the status quo? Off-shore drilling, that’s what. Now, give us our damn grant money.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Tolerance for ye but not for thee?

But Obama called for "open hearts, open minds, fair-minded words" in the midst of such persistent debates.

"I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away. Because no matter how much we may want to fudge it -- indeed, while we know that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory -- the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable," Obama said.

That was from the President's address at the Notre Dame commencement ceremonies on Sunday. For a man that has a AAA rating from NARAL and a voting record that exhibits absolutely zero wiggle room on the subject of abortion, we're curious as to how he would define "debate".

And here's Trinity Washington University president, Patricia McGuire speaking at Trinity's own commencement exercises on the protesters at Notre Dame:
"The real scandal at Notre Dame today is not that the president of the United States is speaking at commencement," McGuire said. "The real scandal is the misappropriation of sacred teachings for political ends. The real scandal is the spectacle of ostensibly Catholic mobs camping out at Notre Dame for the specific purpose of disrupting the commencement address of the nation's first African American president. This ugly spectacle is an embarrassment to all Catholics. The face that Catholicism shows to our new president should be one marked with the sign of peace, not distorted in the snarl of hatred."

Because nothing says "fair-minded words" like slamming young people for exercising their 1st amendment rights and thinly-veiled charges of racism and accusations of hatred for daring to express views contrary to hers.

H/T: Hot Air

Old (conservative) Guys Rule

Americans grow happier as they age, surveys find. And a new Pew Research Center survey shows the tendency is holding up as the economy tanks.

Happiness is a complex thing. Past studies have found that happiness is partly inherited, that Republicans are happier than Democrats and that old men tend to be happier than old women.

So, what’s the deal? We don’t have anything to add regarding the gender and age factor but we do believe the political orientation bias is due to one’s world-view and general outlook on life.

Our conservatism has always been based on what mankind can accomplish and of unlocking that great potential from within. What mankind can do vs. what it is that he can’t do. From that basis, conservatism is essentially a positive mindset. Our view of liberalism, however, is that it seems to focus much more on the shortcomings and inherent weaknesses of mankind. What mankind is incapable of doing vs. what it is that he is capable of doing. Liberalism is therefore, more of a negative mindset.

These two different belief systems are manifested by the degrees by which both groups believe the government must intervene on behalf of the citizenry for protection, establishing a fair playing field in society and providing services.

It seems to us that a much more content and happy soul is achieved with a mindset of what man can do vs. what man cannot do.

And all this to say, we don't believe you are automatically consigned to be a bitter old man if you happen to be a lib.

Again, nothing scientific to back-up this assertion, just what we’ve observed over the years.

Sunday Recap

A little humor to start off the week. SNL spoofed the best studio show in television over the weekend. Here’s Tracy Morgan as Charles Barkley and some other dude as Ernie Johnson.

After the Lakers looked like they had things in hand at half-time, we ran out to the City Beat beer festival in North Park. The usual (but entirely welcome) suspects, including Stone, Green Flash, Ballast Point, etc. We couldn’t help but think, though, that there may have been something else added to the beer.

Go-go dancers and a four-piece punk quartet in wolf-man outfits. Can't recall if they were any good... visual distractions and all.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Apologies ahead of time...

.... for some random thoughts that transformed into one long-ass post for a Sunday afternoon.

KT has some thoughts on the relevancy of the Republican Party, here. After attending both the anti-Prop. 1A rallies both here in San Diego and in Corona at Tom’s Farms we had a chance to reflect on that and the dozens of articles we have read of late laying the demise of the G.O.P. at the hands of its conservative base and/or a rightward shift in ideology while refraining from giving any concrete examples of the same.

Unless, of course, one would consider the reckless and run-away spending of the Bush Administration to be pandering to the base of the party (and considering the spending we’ve seen of late, we will have to revisit our definitions of “reckless” and “run-away” with respect to President Bush).

How about Amnesty? Before a grass-roots effort rose up and administered some blunt-force trauma via an electoral 2x4 upside the head, the G.O.P. establishment was cozying-up to the thought of granting citizenship to 12 million or so illegal aliens. That rightward shift?

Abortion? That’s the ticket. The bug-a-boo of the country clubbers for years. If only the party would just drop this as an issue, they could drop those church-going mouth-breathers as well and the party could be seen as, you know, moderating. But look who’s shifting to the right, now.

Well, what about the war? Recall that the Democrats were so confident they could exploit anti-war sentiment in this country that in the ’06 midterms they… ran a bunch of Blue Dogs against vulnerable Republican seats. It was a shrewd if electorally cynical move. Blue Dogs like James Webb and Heath Shuler who sounded like Republicans, or at least what Republicans used to sound like with respect to fiscal and social issues. It's these very Blue Dogs who will be the focal point of the coming fight over the President's budget and pending health care legislation.

And McCain? Don’t get us started. It was a long and winding road to where we first accepted and then endorsed the Senator for President. We chose to look at the long-view and practicality over ideology and what did we get for it? After the RNC convention, the McCain-Palin ticket experienced the obligatory poll bounce – a poll bounce that nevertheless sustained all the way into mid-September and which represented a consistent 4-5 point lead over Obama/Biden.

Then in mid-September, McCain mimicked Obama by saying he would work with Congress and the President in fashioning what would ostensibly be the framework for Bailout Nation. From that precise moment forward, McCain’s numbers began a steady slide to where Obama eventually overtook him. Game. Set. Match. An America that was looking for real leadership in this crisis – leadership that was going to say “no” to the give-aways was left empty-handed on all fronts. The poll numbers and the chronology of the same suggests more than any rightward shift in the Republican Party, the American public simply threw up their hands and said: “They’re all the same, anyway – might as well give the new kid a shot.”

The Tea Parties and the associated rallies against the ballot propositions and now the Total Recall 2009 have been organized largely by people who voted for and supported Governor Schwarzenegger in ’03 and ‘06. These are people who now have become disillusioned with the G.O.P. establishment within the state because of their obstructionism and/or indifference and then… the naked opportunism displayed when it appeared this whole Tea Party thing might have some legs.

To KT’s point about the (ir)relevancy of the Republican Party. Though we do not necessarily disagree with him, we think there is a larger issue and that being the disconnect between both parties (combined with their elected representatives) and the voting public. Between districting, campaign finance laws, the abuse of franking privileges and the power that the government now wields, there is a deepening and widening gap between the two entities. This is part and parcel to the angst that is now being expressed.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Dude, where's my health care savings?

David Brooks in his column for the NYT contends that the President is operating with the theory that he can pay for the Great Society II by squeezing savings out of the health care industry. This is a breezy assumption on a breezy theory.

We simply don’t see how a “pledge” by the health care industry of cutting the rise in health care costs 1.5% in each of the next 10 years will support the President’s hyper-aggressive agenda.

And what’s that? Not a 1.5% cut but a 1.5 rise…? Someone wasn’t taking very good notes at that meeting.

He does zero-in on something that is central to impending health care legislation

If you read the C.B.O. testimony and talk to enough experts, you come away with a stark conclusion: There are deep structural forces, both in Medicare and the private insurance market, that have driven the explosion in health costs. It is nearly impossible to put together a majority coalition for a bill that challenges those essential structures. Therefore, the leading proposals on Capitol Hill do not directly address the structural problems. They are a collection of worthy but speculative ideas designed to possibly mitigate their effects.

Without serious health cost cuts, this burst of activism will hasten fiscal suicide.

It is these “deep structural forces” that are the reason why an overwhelming majority of Americans want health care “reform” but do not necessarily agree on what form, fit and function that “reform” be enacted. Our idea of “reform” may not necessarily mirror what yours does.

For the record: At the core of our “reform” would be the ability to customize one’s health care plan, i.e., having the power to determine what one does and does not want to have covered and thus what one is willing to pay for out-of-pocket. Going hand-in-hand with this would be the ability to negotiate the price of treatment one-on-one with health care provider rather than having it, as is currently done with managed plans, by third parties which makes the price of health care divorced from the realities of the market. Unfortunately, we do not see this anywhere close to being legislative reality.

As it stands then, and being as charitable as we can regarding the sausage factory workers in Congress, we do not expect to see any real meaningful reform and certainly nothing that will actually lower the cost and therefore the price of health care.

Tales from Bailout Nation Pt. XII

We’re pretty much committed Toyota people here but its news like this that pretty much puts the nail in the coffin of the notion that we will ever by a GM or Chrysler product in our lifetime.

As thousands of General Motors workers await word on more U.S. plant closures, reports that the company plans to import Chinese-made vehicles to the U.S. have created a political problem for the automaker and the White House.

The reports, which GM will neither confirm nor deny, could mean trouble because GM is supported by $15.4 billion in U.S. government loans, largely due to the Obama administration's desire to preserve the company's 90,000 U.S. jobs.

The United Auto Workers charged last week that the Detroit automaker intends to almost double over the next five years the number of vehicles it imports to the U.S. from Mexico, South Korea, China and Japan.

If the Chi-comm's quality control for its automobiles is as good as it is for its childrens' toys and milk, this should all go very smoothly.

Cherchez la femme

Kentucky Oaks winner Rachel Alexandra (pictured) is saving the Preakness, which will be going off later this afternoon from near-total irrelevance. Jockey, Calvin Borel has forsook Kentucky Derby winner, Mine That Bird to ride the filly which has been installed as the morning line favorite against the other 12 colts. The decision to enter Rachel Alexandra has not been without controversy though as the decision to race her was made only last week and which was driven in large part by a change in ownership. This, against the backdrop of last year when filly Eight Belles finished second in the Kentucky Derby only to break both her ankles while galloping out and being euthanized there on the track.

Handicapping tips can be found here courtesy East Coast Bias. We will refrain from handing out any of our own this time around after the disaster that was the Kentucky Derby. True, when a 50-1 shot comes in first, very few people are making any money but we’ll get back into the swing of things at the Belmont.

Oh… big changes at Pimlico Race Course this year. Fans will no longer be allowed to carry personal effects onto the infield (read: coolers full of booze). As this video taken the Preakness two years ago will demonstrate….. why?

We may check in later (with or without scheduled post(s)) but a good part of the day will be spent at the Tea Party at Spanish Landing in protest of the ballot props that we will have the pleasure of shooting down this Tuesday.

Hey, Arnie: feel free to unload San Quentin but keep your hands off the Del Mar racetrack.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Birth of Bailout Nation

This is something we have strongly suspected since last October. And while hundreds of billions in tax dollars were shuttled to banking institutions and to the lending industry before this, the mid-October '08 meeting between Paulson, Beranke and the Big Nine established the psychology and M.O. for Bailout Nation.

It has been widely reported that Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Fed chief Ben Bernanke summoned the CEOs of America's nine largest financial institutions to a meeting on October 13, 2008, at which they were told that their banks would be required to accept TARP money and give the federal government an ownership interest in their institutions, whether they wanted to do so or not. We have it on good authority that some of the bankers, at least, were told that they would not be allowed to leave the room until they signed documents that were presented to them at that meeting.

Powerline has the "offer they couldn't refuse" and a very interesting email, here.

H/T: Instapundit

Word of the day

Tincture: (from Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th edition) 1. to tint or stain with a color. 2. to infuse or instill with a property or entity

As in: “It also is careless regarding constitutional values and is acquiring a tincture of lawlessness.”

Read more here.

We’ll have more later on just what it is that’s been bothering us, lately

Ready, Fire, Aim Pt. VI (UPDATED)

(UPDATE #1):Vice President, Joe Biden, yes that Joe Biden was set-up, err, selected to give the first assessment of the stimulus package’s progress this week and whaddya know? Everything is going along swimmingly.

Article, here does a good job, though, of separating the wheat from the chaff and the chaff is in plentiful supply.

The next time you hear a claim or read a news release about how much the stimulus packcage is aiding the economy or how, as was just trumpeted this week by Biden, that 150,000 had been created or saved, remember that the very people touting these successes don’t even know where the stimulus money is going.

(here endeth the update)

It’s still early but enough numbers are starting to roll in to where a picture of the effectiveness of the stimulus package is starting to take shape. And, unfortunately, its starting to take shape precisely how you would expect a $787 billion dollar piece of legislation cobbled together in haste by just a handful of people and read by no one and whose intent was really not to stimulate the economy but jumpstart the Great Society Pt. II.

Below are some unemployment figures (H/T: Innocent Bystanders) superimposed over a chart used by the camp of both candidate Obama and President-elect Obama and who made some predictions of their own with respect to unemployment numbers with and without the stimulus package. At this point, with the stimulus package, unemployment was supposed to be tapering off. So, we get this rise in unemployment with the added benefit of massive and rapidly increasing deficits we detailed 3 posts ago.

Why is this happening? In addition to the inherent misallocation of resources in people and money that results from a command and control style of economy, one of the unfortunate and unanticipated phenomenas of porkulus that is, in part, contributing to this unexpected rise in unemployment is that it’s not going to those counties that have been hit hardest by unemployment.

Counties suffering the most from job losses stand to receive the least help from President Barack Obama's plan to spend billions of stimulus dollars on roads and bridges, an Associated Press analysis has found.
Although the intent of the money is to put people back to work, AP's review of more than 5,500 planned transportation projects nationwide reveals that states are planning to spend the stimulus in communities where jobless rates are already lower.

It turns out the boast of “shovel-ready” products contained within the stimulus package is having a negative impact on those economically-depressed counties and areas that did not have the funding and resources as it was to put together "shovel-ready" plans. Drawings, staging sites, environmental impact reports, etc. - all the things one would need to hit the ground running are non-existent in these poorer counties, as such, work in this make-work program is going to places that may not need it or don't nearly need it as badly.

Again, it's all about allocation of resources and in this case, the misallocation, thereof.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Smack (-down) of the Day

“For Mr. Douglas to continually inject himself into this process by a letter and never come (to a hearing) is an enormous act of arrogance and bureaucratic sloth,”

That from David King on the last-minute objection raised by the executive director of the busybody California Coastal Commission to Poseidon Resources’ plans to build a 50 million gallon a day desalination plant in Carlsbad.

The San Diego Regional Water Quality Board’s approval of the plan requires Poseidon to create 55.4 acres of wetlands in Southern California that will serve as nurseries for fish that are killed during the process of making drinking water from seawater.

Opponents of the desal plant are keeping hope alive, though:

Marco Gonzalez, an attorney for the Surfrider Foundation and San Diego Coastkeeper, environmental groups that oppose the plant, disagreed that the plant represents the best possible environmental design.

“It doesn't come as a surprise to us,” Gonzalez said of the approval. “The ability of a large corporate entity to get a large project approved is not new in California.”

Gonzalez said he would appeal the regional board's decision to the State Water Quality Control Board, which oversees the regional boards. He also has two lawsuits pending against the project.

(italics, ours)

Perhaps Gonzalez hasn’t been using enough sunblock while out in the surf because he isn’t talking about any “California” that we are aware of.

We will also note that opposition to the plant brought together two of the strangest bedfellows that we can recall: Environmentalists that wanted to save fish and commercial fisherman that also wanted to, you know, “save” the fish.

You'd have better luck checking between the seat cushions of your sofa

So, where do you go when you want to find out where the federal stimulus money is going? Well, you sure as hell don’t go to, the official website of the stimulus plan which just offers broad brush strokes and splashy graphics but zero in the way of information on specific projects like the John Murtha-Johnstown Cambria County Airport (pop. 20 passengers a day).

Since there is no parent-child relationship between the federal, state and local governments and no hard and fast reporting requirements for who, where and how much with respect to the spending of stimulus dollars, the promised goal transparency is being met with the predictable results.

And since won’t have any details on the whereabouts of your stimulus tax dollars until October, who ya gonna turn to? Enter: the private sector.

An outfit called Onvia has a website of the their own named (cheekily?) that, to date, has logged 10,000 specific contracts worth $40 billion and it’s provided completely free of charge.

Check out the video below with Onvia CEO, Mike Pickett talking about his website and accountability and transparency.

If embed no worky, please click here.

Downright peculiar behavior

As you are probably aware, it’s not just the American auto manufacturers that are being hit hard by this global recession. Toyota announced a net loss of $7.7 billion in the first three months of 2009 which is even more than GM lost in all of last year.

As a consequence, employees are being asked to find ways to save money and, in particular, at the Woodstock plant in Ontario, Canada, where the RAV4 crossover is manufactured, the employees are being charged with finding $100 million in annual savings from the operation of that plant.

Among the ideas: instead of spending $16,000 to hire a contractor to build a conveyor belt for delivering bins of parts to a section of the assembly line, workers designed and installed their own, for $700.

(italics, ours)

Exit question: "Small potatos", you may say, but would you see this sort of initiative and action at a union-dominated Big 3 plant?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A BwD Public Service Spot

President Obama on Wednesday declared that “the stars are aligned” to pass his health care agenda this year, with the legislation set to begin in the House of Representatives in July.

“We’ve got to get it done this year,” Mr. Obama said, standing on the South Lawn of the White House, surrounded by House Democratic leaders. “We’ve got to get it done this year, both in the House and Senate. We don’t have any excuses.”

For our community service for the week, we'll break out the decoder ring and translate the above statement from the President:
“We need to pass health care reform before too many people latch on to this whole deficit thing and the imminent collapse of Social Security and Medicare and start asking how the hell it is we are going to pay for this.”

And we loved this paragraph:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi pledged to bring the legislation to the House floor by July, an ambitious goal considering the vastness and complexity of the nation’s health care system and the wide array of views on how the overhaul should work. She said the debate would begin before the Congressional recess in August.

Because nothing says debate, deliberation, judiciousness and wending one’s way through the admitted “vastness and complexity” of health care like throwing something together in 10 weeks time.

Pelosi gets yet another crack at putting together a multi-hundred billion (trillion?) piece of legislation. What could possibly go wrong?

There ought to be a law

Check out the rise in the price of gasoline vs. the rise in the price of a stamp, which just went up again this week, over the same period of time

The good Professor, Mark Perry at Carpe Diem suggests legislation for Big Postal similar to “The Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act” that in the wake of $4+/gallon gas was introduced in Congress last year that would’ve made it a crime to “sell crude oil or gasoline at a price that is unconscionably excessive.”

We would’ve suggested “The Federal Inability to Grasp the Fundamentals of Global Economics Act” that would’ve made it a crime for Congressmen to introduce legislation as that above.

Of course, your definition may vary

The rate of homeownership in the United States is holding up better among immigrants than it is for native-born Americans, according to a study released this morning.

The study by the Pew Hispanic Center in Washington analyzes housing, economic and demographic data from various government agencies and private sources. It found that although immigrants are far less likely than their native-born counterparts to own a home, the rate of homeownership for immigrants during the years of the housing bust has declined at a much slower pace than it has for those born in this country.

"Contrary, perhaps, to common perception, immigrants have not really fared as badly as one might have expected," said Rakesh Kochhar, an economist with Pew and author of the study. "The forces of assimilation seem alive and well and have guided them through the troubles in the housing market."

We have a different take on this: it would appear that perhaps assimilation is not working too well and that these immigrants have resisted the now all-too-pervasive trend in native-born Americans towards entitlement and susceptibility to the instant gratification sub-prime hook with regard to the American Dream and home ownership.

Sign of the times

We've been sounding the warning bell about this for a while now.

... and yet, more fear-mongering out of Sacramento.

But, hey... screw it. Let's just print more money!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The art of doing nothing

For as obsessed as the liberal/Left and the Democratic Party leadership is with Rush Limbaugh, Rush has not seemed to reciprocate this sentiment, at least, in this instance. Amid all the panting anticipation, Rush did not respond on his show on Monday to the remarks made by comedienne Wanda Sykes at the White House Correspondence Association dinner over the weekend where she made the "terrorist" crack at Rush and wished that his kideys would fail.

Folks, whether you like him or not, there is a reason why he is one of the highest paid and most listened to radio personalities in the land. People who tuned-in to hear Rush go off on Wanda Sykes sat through 3 hours of radio programming... 3 hours of Rush that they may not have otherwise.

We recall a scene from the Howard Stern bio-pic "Private Parts" where the station execs were poring over listener polling data and discovering that people who couldn't stand Howard Stern were listening to his radio program for longer periods of time than even those who happened to like Stern and his show.

The theater of the mind that is radio is about creating a narrative, setting the table with ideas and concepts and then building anticipation from within the listeners based upon that narrative. You've got a notion about how your favorite radio host is going to respond to a certain situation or circumstance but you absolutely have to hear him say it or express it in some manner.

And it is in this respect that Rush delivered it beautifully on Monday by saying absolutely nothing.

Of God, burgers and animal style...

As the author of this article from the Times submits, there’s In-N-Out Burgers and then everyone else.

No franchising, no release of financial figures, quirky ordering lingo and an obsessive commitment to fresh high-quality ingredients have all added to the mystique of the Southwestern U.S. fast food icon.

Whenever we go into an In-N-Out location, we feel like we are being served by the local high school's Honors Society – this nation’s best and brightest in it's young people. We leave with our hopes buoyed with the possibility that it's these people who will be running things in this country some day. Then it’s back to reality where we realize that it’s neither the first 50 pages of Boston’s phone directory nor the Massachusetts Ave. In-N-Out staff that is calling the shots.

Anyway, article is a good read and which provides a review of the appropriately-named “In-N-Out Burger” by Business Week writer Stacy Perlman and which gives an overview of the lawsuit over control of the company between the granddaughter of the In-N-Out’s founders and a former long-time executive.

Monday, May 11, 2009

We may need 11 x 17 paper before too long (UPDATED)

(UPDATE #1): The CBO released its budget figures today and to say it's ugly would be a mild understatement.

Budget office figures released Monday would add $89 billion to the 2009 red ink -- increasing it to more than four times last year's all-time high as the government hands out billions more than expected for people who have lost jobs and takes in less tax revenue from people and companies making less money.

The unprecedented deficit figures flow from the deep recession, the Wall Street bailout and the cost of President Barack Obama's economic stimulus bill -- as well as a seemingly embedded structural imbalance between what the government spends and what it takes in.

(emphasis, ours)

embedded structural imbalance....

That about sums it up, now doesn't it?

And dig this:

Just a few days ago, Obama touted an administration plan to cut $17 billion in wasteful or duplicative programs from the budget next year. The erosion in the deficit announced Monday is five times the size of those savings.

The author of this article is just piling-on, now.

But it's not this Administration's fault and proving that bloggers don't know what the hell they are talking about...

"The deficits ... are driven in large part by the economic crisis inherited by this administration," budget director Peter Orszag wrote in a blog entry on Monday.

Good grief. Granted, Team O inherited a crappy economy but they did not inherit having to pay for porkulus and they did not inherit a $3.6 trillion budget for FY 2010. We'd also like to point out that the President certainly did his part while in the Senate voting in favor of the Bush-initiated spending.

This Administration's penchant for blaming the previous administration for this sort of stuff is both childish and misleading.

And maybe now people will start to get an idea of what these Tea Parties are all about.

(here endeth the update)

A few posts back, we linked to an article here that talked about private investors sitting out the recovery effort because of the completely schizophrenic and thuggish behavior of the Treasury Dept. and the Administration. And now because of weak demand for Treasury bonds, the government is having to offer higher interest rates on bonds in order to sell them.

Recall that both the Administration’s and the Congressional Budget Office’s deficit projections are based on the sale of bonds at set interest rates and a growing economy via the stimulus bill that hasn’t happened yet (because we all know that porkulus had nothing to do with actual stimulus… how does hiring more people to wipe the rear ends of old people in nursing homes actually stimulate the economy?).

So, with having to pay out on higher interest rates, we will have to spend even more which, of course, means it's entirely reasonable to assume that those downward projecting red and pink lines will be getting even longer.

This is bad. Very, very bad. And we think this story deserves more attention than its getting.

With investors going away, and other revenue-generating schemes getting shut down because of coordinated lobbying efforts, there remains really only one other alternative to raising the money needed to pay down the debt and fund the Great Society II. But, again, we will refrain from any dubious speculation as talking about what the President may be "planning" to do is irresponsible.