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Posts from — January 2010

Happy Australia Day

flag of Australia

The anniversary of the landing of the First Fleet under Captain Arthur Phillip at Port Jackson in New South Wales on January 26th, 1788.

Here’s the official site, and more information at Wikipedia.

January 26, 2010   2 Comments

Burns Night

flag of Scotland

This is the anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns in Ayr, Scotland. The Burns Night celebrations conducted by Scots all over the world with haggis, whisky¹, and poetry.

Wikipedia has a description of the standard celebration, but easy on the malt or you may end up with a William McGonagall morning.

In honor of the occasion a bit of Robby Burns for the Democratic “leadership”:

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain
For promis’d joy!

To a Mouse

1. This is the correct spelling when referring to Scotland’s “water of life”.

January 25, 2010   7 Comments

Wrong, Just Wrong!!

I don’t know how this got started but I couldn’t believe the BBC reporter in Haiti included in the piece: Haiti’s Cite Soleil still deprived of post-quake help

After all, the US Air Force is dropping pallets of food and water from C-17 transport planes to those isolated by the quake, but this community is just a few miles away from the tonnes of food and supplies that have come into the airport and still have not been distributed.

I talked about the C-17 drops in my post, Things Are Not What They Seem, and they are taking place in a designated drop zone that was set up by the 82nd Airborne at a country club.

There is an excellent reason why they are not dropping pallets to people – you generate very bad press when you crush people with relief supplies.

This stuff does not “float to earth”, to maintain accuracy it comes down fast to minimize the effects of any winds. The pallets are designed to absorb the shock to the load, but if you get caught underneath one, you are a grease spot on the ground. You don’t get up and walk away, like Wiley Coyote.

Unless you have troops on the ground to keep them away from the drop zone, people will rush to where the supplies are landing. The US knows this, because it has happened more than once, and not just to civilians.

The supplies were dropped into the landing zone, then broken down and distributed by helicopter. Perhaps people saw the low level drops in Port au Prince and assumed the US was doing it in other places.

January 24, 2010   4 Comments

A Simple Solution

Kent Greenfield, professor of constitutional law and corporate law at Boston College Law School, has a straight forward solution for the corporate person mess and politics:

Corporations are chartered “for any lawful purpose.” To address the mistake of Citizens United, the only change required would be for charters to include: “except that any entity created by this charter shall not have the power to expend money to influence the outcome of any local, state, or federal election.”

Instead of messing around with the Constitution, just change the corporate law.  This change would not alter lobbying, only elections.

Corporations receive special privileges from their limited liability, so Congress has the power to put restrictions on them. The problem was using the wrong law to impose the restrictions: election law, instead of corporate law.

I think the rollcall on such a change would be a keeper.

Update: I will have a “via” later, as I have forgotten where I first saw it referenced. It was Anthony McCarthy at Echidne’s.

January 24, 2010   Comments Off on A Simple Solution

Welfare States – Part DOH

Julia O’Malley has an opinion piece in The Anchorage Daily News that encapsulates the basic hypocrisy of the majority of Republican pols screaming about the Federal government and deficit spending, as well as people living off of other people’s taxes titled: Hey feds. Alaska doesn’t like your ‘interference’ but please send money.

As I pointed out in my original Welfare States post, the states that do the most complaining are first in line for any available Federal funds.

Based on his stated view of those who receive government hand-outs, the current Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina must think his entire state looks like a scruffy, torn-eared tom cat, instead of just the Governor…bless his heart. [Forgot my Southern for a second there].

January 24, 2010   2 Comments

So, How Did The Republicans Do It?

How quickly people forget.

After Bill Frist threatened the “nukular option” [this was the Hedgemony, after all], that champion of bi-partisanship, and hero to the current President, Joe LIEberman [who was still officially a Democrat at the time], teamed up with his best friend, John McCain, to create the Gang of 14. Of course, Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson, Olympia Snowe, and Susan Collins had to be part of it. The Gang pretty much eliminated filibusters.

It was a great system that provided the American people with such wonderful public servants as Samuel Alito, the fifth member of “The Synod”, the five Catholic judicial activists on the Supreme Court who just used their powers of immaculate conceptualization to make corporations people and money speech, when they were asked to decide if a movie was entertainment or a campaign ad. [Stare decisis? We don’t need no stinkin’ stare decisis!]

[If you were in doubt – yes, this is definitely sarcasm.]

January 23, 2010   24 Comments

Thoughts

I’m sending drying thoughts to friends and family in SoCal. I just saw a clip of a guy kayaking down Mission Boulevard in Pacific Beach. Now Mission Valley would flood with heavy dew, but I’ve never seen water like that on Mission Boulevard.

I had clients in that area, and their offices would definitely be flooded based on that video.

The Jet Stream has been pushed South into Mexico, so the storms that would normally head in to the Pacific Northwest can now drop down, including the “Pineapple Express” type of storms that plagued the Iditarod two years ago. This is all part of the El Niño effect that is baking Australia.

For the first time I saw one of Obama’s dog and pony shows at my Mother’s. Standard political garbage, i.e. talk in generalities, don’t really address the question, “leave your data with aides”…

I assume he’s better when giving a speech, based on all the paeans to him. He was better than the Shrubbery, but not nearly as good as Barney Frank, or Bill Clinton in this environment.

While Bernanke seems to be in trouble, Geithner is the immediate problem. If you are in the Cabinet and you don’t like the President’s position, your options are to continue to express your concerns in private while implementing the policy, or resign. You don’t make your opposition obvious and keep your job. Unless you are the CEO, it works that way in business, as well as government.

January 22, 2010   8 Comments

Friday Cat Blogging

Sunset Driveway

Friday Cat Blogging

I’m ready for my close-up.

[Editor: I was looking for Adolf when Lucrezia decided to pose. Alas the flash went off as the light was marginal due to the overcast. It was sunset and she is in the driveway…

Friday Ark

January 22, 2010   7 Comments

Local News

I rarely link to Duncan, but today he hit on one of my pet peeves with the entire media: local news.

He agrees with me, and most reasonable people that the convention wisdom in the media business that “you can’t make money with local news”, is totally backwards. Local news is the one thing you can’t get on a thousand outlets on line, like the AP stories that fill too many papers.

When I came back to this area about two decades ago, you could get local news from the Puppy Trainer, a couple of local radio stations, and even some coverage of the bigger stories in the Pensacola News Journal, and Channel 3 in Pensacola. These days, you would be surprised to discover we have local governments, unless someone gets arrested.

If you hear a dozen sirens go by, don’t expect to read about it in the local paper, which is often smaller than most volunteer newsletters. What is the point of subscribing if they aren’t going to cover the local news.

We have all of these new sources of information, but there is almost no local reporting anymore to feed into them. People are dependent on press releases from politicians, rather than factual reporting by local reporters. Could the Sheriff’s Office have gotten so far off the track if a local reporter was watching them?

If the local paper isn’t going to report the local news, what is its reason for existing?

January 21, 2010   7 Comments

Aside The Point

Possibly the most vexing comment in history, after Henry II supposedly said “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” [Which made Thomas Becket a saint… well a martyr first] has to be the head note in the US Supreme Court case, Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company, which has been used to justify “corporate personhood”.

It is important to note that there is absolutely no actual reference to the concept in the Court’s opinion in that case, just a reference by a court reporter in his preface. Nonetheless, that has been used to support a host of ills in the American system, most recently today’s decision on the campaign finance law.

In the CBS coverage, Supreme Court Ruling Will Cause Major Upheaval in Campaigns, there is something odd:

I just left the courtroom, where justices spent 30 minutes on the bench discussing this landmark case. Justice Anthony Kennedy, reading from his majority opinion, emphasized that Congress may not censor or regulate political speech, whether it’s a person doing the talking or a corporation or union.

That’s at the core of the First Amendment, Kennedy said, and laws banning speech infringe those basic constitutional protections. Kennedy also pointed out that under those laws, Congress also could diminish the voice of the media business if it chose. Government, he said, may not suppress political speech on the basis of a speaker’s identity.

The odd bit is Mr. Justice Kennedy saying that “…Congress also could diminish the voice of the media business if it chose.” Excuse me, Mr. Justice, but did someone omit the bit about “freedom of the press” from your copy of the Bill of Rights? It’s in there, trust me on that. Maybe you should read it a little more closely.

I wonder if these guys realize that in addition to people like Alan Grayson being replaced by a Disney employee in the Mousetown district, al Qaeda et al. can no longer be banned from running ads on cable if they incorporate.

Call me a traditionalist, but I really think you should be qualified to vote in the country before you get to affect our elections. Voting, after all, is the ultimate form of political speech.

January 21, 2010   4 Comments

And The Survey Says:

The progressives of Massachusetts channeled Howard Beale with their own version of “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” – they didn’t vote.

Paul Lukasiak looked at the numbers at Corrente, comparing the Obama/McCain results to the Coakley/Brown numbers and the reason for the results is obvious: Brown actually received 105% of McCain’s votes, but Coakley only pulled 56% of Obama’s numbers. The key was Democratic turn out, which wasn’t there.

Numerian at the Agonist looked at the numbers from Coakly’s pollster, and they show that normally Democratic-voting independents, favored Brown as the agent of “change”, seeing Obama as maintaining the status quo and in thrall to the banks.

After a year without any visible change, and many people in worse shape, no one believes the White House propaganda. The Democrats control the White House and Congress, but the only people making out are the big banks. The so-called “health care reform” will be a major benefit to insurance companies and Pharma, not people. If they don’t get off their butts after removing their heads, the Democrats are going to lose to a lot Republicans using old Obama “hope and change” posters.

January 20, 2010   Comments Off on And The Survey Says:

More Aftershocks

After about two days of good behavior, the fault near Port au Prince reminded everyone that it still isn’t settled with a 5.9 tremor at about 5AM CST this morning, which caused panic and resulted in more deaths and destruction among the already damaged structures in the city.

This is very much like a war when it comes to search and rescue, with the possibility of aftershocks similar to unexploded ordnance buried in the rubble ready to bring everything down on your head.

The supply operations has been ramping up smoothly, and quickly, unless you are waiting for food and water. Even in the US, the local emergency officials say that you need supplies for a week, before you can expect help after a hurricane. Frankly, hurricanes are better than earthquakes in a couple of important ways: you get warning so you can stock up or leave; and when it’s over, it’s over, as very few come back. You get no warning with earthquakes, and the aftershocks can continue for weeks.

January 20, 2010   Comments Off on More Aftershocks

Coakley?

CNN, and the rest of the pack, are saying Brown wins, but it would be more accurate in Massachusetts to say the National Democratic Party machine has once again snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Martha Coakley was looking great following the Democratic primary with a solid win, good enthusiasm, and an election in a liberal state. Then it all fell apart when the decision was made that instead of running for Senator from Massachusetts, she would run as the 60th vote for the Obama health insurance mess.

She got her major boost in the primary when she flatly opposed the Stupak amendment to the House version of the bill, and then, in the last days of the campaign, her big “thing” is promising to vote for the bill, regardless of what it contains in the end.

It is hard enough to crawl out from under the bus to vote, but then to be told that the person you thought was different, was going to be a real liberal, was just going to be another party apparatchik – not going to happen.

When this election became a referendum on the “health care reform” bill, Coakley lost.

January 19, 2010   10 Comments

This Isn’t Good

The Local Puppy Trainer is reporting that Pensacola Bay Bridge needs replacement, ‘structurally deficient’.

Known locally as the Three-mile Bridge, it is the link between Pensacola and Gulf Breeze, and an important point on US 98. It has survived multiple hurricanes that have regularly wiped out the much shorter I-10 bridge to the north.

This is going to be a mess because a new bridge will require two cities and two counties to agree on the route, and then the state and Federal governments to agree on the funding. Any project this big is going to attract all of the unsavory types in the area and waste years.

They could just use the route of the bridge that the current bridge replaced, and turn the current bridge into a couple of fishing piers, but that would be too easy.

January 19, 2010   2 Comments