Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ex-convicts in District flock to apply for census jobs -

Ex-convicts in District flock to apply for census jobs - "Although the Census Bureau has in the past hired people with criminal histories, critics say that could jeopardize the accuracy of the census. People who didn't mail in their forms might refuse to invite census takers into their homes and answer their questions. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has introduced a bill that would ban felons from being census takers."
Knock knock.
Who's there?
Census taker.
Census taker who?
Census taker who is here to take your stuff.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Duncan: Katrina Was The "Best Thing" for New Orleans School System - Political Punch

Duncan: Katrina Was The "Best Thing" for New Orleans School System - Political Punch: "ABC News' Mary Bruce Reports: Education Secretary Arne Duncan said today that Hurricane Katrina was “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans” because it gave the city a chance to rebuild and improve its failing public schools."
Now just imagine for one second that any Republican in the entire nation had said that.

Justice Alito’s Reaction - Linda Greenhouse, New York Times

Justice Alito’s Reaction - Opinionator Blog - "This time, Justice Alito shook his head as if to rebut the president’s characterization of the Citizens United decision, and seemed to mouth the words “not true.” Indeed, Mr. Obama’s description of the holding of the case was imprecise. He said the court had “reversed a century of law.”

The law that Congress enacted in the populist days of the early 20th century prohibited direct corporate contributions to political campaigns. That law was not at issue in the Citizens United case, and is still on the books. Rather, the court struck down a more complicated statute that barred corporations and unions from spending money directly from their treasuries — as opposed to their political action committees — on television advertising to urge a vote for or against a federal candidate in the period immediately before the election. It is true, though, that the majority wrote so broadly about corporate free speech rights as to call into question other limitations as well — although not necessarily the existing ban on direct contributions."

It's one thing for ordinary citizens to misunderstand Citizens United v. FCC, given the distorted commentary about it. But for the President to deliberately misstate it in the SOTU, just for a cheap shot at the Court, is sad. And when Linda Greenhouse says he was "imprecise," that is doing him a big favor. He used to teach Constitutional Law.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Scientists in stolen e-mail scandal hid climate data - Times Online

Scientists in stolen e-mail scandal hid climate data - Times Online: "The university at the centre of the climate change row over stolen e-mails broke the law by refusing to hand over its raw data for public scrutiny."
Given the certainty with which these folks pronounce their dire conclusions and grim demands for radical change, you would think they'd be more comfortable with free and full and objective disclosure of the data...wouldn't you?

I don't see how people can be true believers on this issue, on either side, at this point. I don't subscribe to the notion that global warming is a hoax hatched by a socialist conspiracy, but neither can I see any need to panic and run around bleating about "saving the planet." I don't think the human contribution to climate change can be calculated with the accuracy that is often claimed, which is why their computer models are wrong and failed to predict the cooling trend that started in the late 1990s. By all means, let's get off fossil fuels and conserve energy (although China and India ignore these demands, so they don't seem to be convinced by the global warming contingent--what's up with that? They aren't Republicans or fundamentalist Christians. Are they "global warming deniers" too?) Even more importantly, reduce the human impact on the oceans, which I think is a far more urgent threat to human existence than greenhouse gases. But ease off the global warming panic button--before some of these grant-grabbing scientists start going to jail.

Public Policy Polling: Fox leads for trust

Public Policy Polling: Fox leads for trust: "Americans do not trust the major tv news operations in the country- except for Fox News.

Our newest survey looking at perceptions of ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, and NBC News finds Fox as the only one that more people say they trust than distrust. 49% say they trust it to 37% who do not."

And this is the network that Obama decided to ignore...until his approval rating dove below 50%. The left always works by ostracizing people. The first thing they do if you don't toe the party line is cut you off one way or another. That's what they have tried--and failed--to do with Fox News.

Second judge at odds with district attorney -

Second judge at odds with district attorney - "A veteran North County judge who last month openly criticized the District Attorney’s Office for not following rules for turning over evidence to defense lawyers is now being called biased by prosecutors who want him off the case.

A court hearing on the simmering conflict between longtime Superior Court Judge Harry M. Elias and prosecutors is scheduled for this morning in Vista, days after the District Attorney’s Office ended a months-long boycott against a judge in downtown San Diego."

I worked in the Vista branch office of the San Diego County DAs office for about two years, and I knew Harry Elias then because he was a deputy DA, and one of the hardest-charging prosecutors and most ethical prosecutors I ever saw. It is just bizarre to see the DAs office butting heads with him. The issue of not turning over exculpatory evidence is pretty serious. I don't know the details beyond what's in the article, but it is baffling to see a conflict like this develop.

Monday, January 25, 2010

RIGHT BEFORE IT WAS WRONG | Daily Telegraph Tim Blair Blog

RIGHT BEFORE IT WAS WRONG | Daily Telegraph Tim Blair Blog: "Professor Christopher Field, director of the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution in California, who is the new co-chairman of the IPCC working group overseeing the climate impacts report, said the 2007 report had been broadly accurate at the time it was written.

He said: “The 2007 study should be seen as “a snapshot of what was known then. Science is progressive. If something turns out to be wrong we can fix it next time around.”"

So everything is right, until it is wrong. Then the new thing is right until it is wrong. And don't you dare argue about what is right, because it's right. Until it's wrong.

Some Foundations, Too, Are Quitting California | California Progress Report

Some Foundations, Too, Are Quitting California | California Progress Report: "Gates and Hewlett, two leading foundations that have been generous supporters of major California programs and organizations in education and many other fields are said to be so frustrated by the state’s lack of leadership, its legislative gridlock and the power of public sector unions in blocking reforms that they’re sharply reducing their funding in California.

Although no one will speak on the record, it’s no secret among state education officials and leaders of at least some of the organizations that have been beneficiaries of those foundations that they will probably lose major chunks of their funding. Both foundations, said a Sacramento-based education consultant, “Have in many ways given up on California.”"

At this rate the Mayan Calendar Doom of 2012 will hit California after there's nobody left to doom. Thanks to Fred Pilot for this depressing story.

Figures on government spending and debt - Yahoo! Finance

Figures on government spending and debt - Yahoo! Finance: "Figures on government spending and debt (last six digits are eliminated). The government's fiscal year runs Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. Total public debt subject to limit Jan. 22 12,245,872 Statutory debt limit 12,394,000 Total public debt outstanding Jan. 22 12,302,465"
Great googly moogly, but that is a lot of money.

Bill Gates Says Recovery Will Take Years - Software - IT Channel News by CRN

Bill Gates Says Recovery Will Take Years - Software - IT Channel News by CRN: "Gates said even when the economy does improve the government will have to institute systemic changes in order for any real rebound to take root. 'The budget's very, very out of balance and even as the economy comes back, without changes in tax and entitlement policies, it won't get back into balance. And at some point, financial markets will look at that and it will cause problems,' Gates told Good Morning America.

Gates' struck a similar chord last week in his annual letter from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 'Although the acute financial crisis is over, the economy is still weak, and the world will spend a lot of years undoing the damage, which includes lingering unemployment and huge government deficits and debts at record levels,' Gates wrote in the letter."

That's more or less what I keep saying. How can the economy "recover" with every level of government mired in unprecedented levels of debt? I get so tired of hearing all this nonsense about cyles and leading and lagging indicators, and how this so-called "recovery" is inevitable because, well, you just is. No, it isn't. There is nothing automatic about this. It seems to me that there will have to be a major rethinking of what governments are going to pay for and how they are going to pay for it. And a whole lot of things that are taken for granted now will have to go on the chopping block. For example, how about the notion that you can just jack up prison terms for tens of thousands of convicted felons, year after year, subjecting them to automatic long, or even natural life terms, without regard to the costs of incarceration? That is what happened in California from about 1980 to the present. How about the costs of federally-mandated special education and bilingual education programs? And the costs of treating uninsured patients in county hospital emergency rooms?

It isn't that there is something unworthy about such expenditures. The problem is that you can make a case for each of them individually and dozens more as well. But how do you make a case for cutting any of them from the budget when taken together there is no way to pay for all of them?

December home sales down nearly 17 percent - Yahoo! Finance

December home sales down nearly 17 percent - Yahoo! Finance: "WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sales of previously occupied homes took the largest monthly drop in more than 40 years last month, sinking more dramatically than expected after lawmakers gave buyers additional time to use a tax credit."
One analyst says "It's 'exit stage left' for first-time homebuyers." And thanks to the anonymous commenter who sent a link to this cartoon.

What if America’s Urban Economies Were National Ones?

Streetsblog Capitol Hill » What if America’s Urban Economies Were National Ones?: "The U.S. Conference of Mayors released a report this week with some dire conclusions for the nation's cities: Even the payroll growth that many prognosticators anticipate this year won't make a dent in double-digit urban unemployment. Half of the 363 biggest metro areas won't return to their pre-recession jobs levels until 2013 or beyond.

All this despite the fact that those 363 cities accounted for 90 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) last year and 86 percent of all jobs."

Why do people think 2013 will be so much better than 2010? Did those people predict that 2008 and 2009 would be catastrophic? I don't think so.

Public's Priorities for 2010: Economy, Jobs, Terrorism: Summary of Findings - Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

Public's Priorities for 2010: Economy, Jobs, Terrorism: Summary of Findings - Pew Research Center for the People & the Press
Guess what problem comes in dead last in priority with the public, out of 21 issues? Here's a hint: its initials are G W.

Obama Administration Steers Lucrative No-Bid Contract for Afghan Work to Dem Donor - Obama Administration Steers Lucrative No-Bid Contract for Afghan Work to Dem Donor: "Despite President Obama's long history of criticizing the Bush administration for 'sweetheart deals' with favored contractors, the Obama administration this month awarded a $25 million federal contract for work in Afghanistan to a company owned by a Democratic campaign contributor without entertaining competitive bids, Fox News has learned.

The contract, awarded on Jan. 4 to Checchi & Company Consulting, Inc., a Washington-based firm owned by economist and Democratic donor Vincent V. Checchi, will pay the firm $24,673,427 to provide 'rule of law stabilization services' in war-torn Afghanistan."

I can hear the reasoned reply from the left now: "Yeah, but...but...HALLIBURTON!!! FOX NEWS!!! DICK CHENEY!!!"

The search for aliens should start on Earth not outer space, says scientist - Telegraph

The search for aliens should start on Earth not outer space, says scientist - Telegraph: "Prof Davies said: We need to give up the notion that ET is sending us some sort of customised message and take a new approach.'

He suggested that the search could focus on deserts, volcanic vents, salt-saturated lakes and the dry valleys of Antarctica - places where ordinary life struggles to survive - to find 'weird' microbes that belong to a 'shadow biosphere'."
Not only are we surrounded by aliens--what about the Neanderthals among us?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Daredevil Space Diver To Leap Toward World's First Supersonic Free-Fall From 120,000 Feet | Popular Science

Daredevil Space Diver To Leap Toward World's First Supersonic Free-Fall From 120,000 Feet | Popular Science: "Dubbed the Red Bull Stratos and sponsored by the energy drink company, the jump will send Baumgartner to the stratosphere in a small space capsule, lifted by a helium-filled balloon. Once he reaches 120,000 feet after three hours of ascension, ground control will give him the “all clear” sign and he’ll pop open the door and jump, as video cameras on the capsule and his suit record his descent. Within 35 seconds or so, Baumgartner will hit supersonic speeds and break the sound barrier. No one really knows what will happen at that point, but the scientists seem confident that he’ll maintain consciousness. He will free fall for roughly six more minutes, pulling his chute at about 5,000 feet and coasting for 15 minutes back to solid ground."
As the article notes, "don't die" is part of the plan as well.

Gallup Daily: Obama Job Approval

Gallup Daily: Obama Job Approval
Hello, Mr. Approval Line. I'd like to introduce you to Mr. Disapproval Line.

Glacier scientists says he knew data had not been verified | Mail Online

Glacier scientists says he knew data had not been verified | Mail Online: "The scientist behind the bogus claim in a Nobel Prize-winning UN report that Himalayan glaciers will have melted by 2035 last night admitted it was included purely to put political pressure on world leaders.

Dr Murari Lal also said he was well aware the statement, in the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), did not rest on peer-reviewed scientific research.

In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, Dr Lal, the co-ordinating lead author of the report’s chapter on Asia, said: ‘It related to several countries in this region and their water sources. We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action."

It has been a bad year for the global warming crowd, and the winter isn't over yet. February 2 is Groundhog Day, and I'll bet Punxsutawny Phil will deliver more bad news to them.

Steve Chapman: Free Speech for Corporations

RealClearPolitics - Free Speech for Corporations: "During the 2008 campaign, a group called Citizens United put together a documentary, 'Hillary: The Movie.' Remember seeing it on cable TV? No, you don't, because the organization decided it couldn't show the film without the risk of felony prosecution. It had every reason to be afraid.

The problem was that the movie was not only about Clinton but made the case that she should not be president. Worse, it was supposed to be shown during -- get this -- an election campaign. That, under the federal law, made it verboten."

Good commentary on Citizens United v. FCC, the recent USSC decision that says corporations have political free speech rights. Much of the lefty reaction to this decision raises the specter of multinational business corporations flooding the airwaves with pro-capitalist propaganda. I have not waded entirely through the gigantic pile of opinions the court generated in this case, including a 90 page dissent, but I am not sure these fears are realistic. It should be kept in mind that Citizens United is a not-for-profit corporation that was formed to do political advocacy from a conservative perspective. They didn't show their political documentary during an election campaign because it would have been a felony. As Chapman points out, there is something pretty disturbing about that.