Sunday, June 29, 2008

I don't get it

For a couple of years, people have been telling me I NEED TO SEE Talladega Nights.

So I watched it.

I think I laughed twice. Not exactly the comedy of a lifetime. Mostly, I thought it was stupid.

Is it me?

Friday, June 27, 2008

From the Things That Should Scare You Department

And the Fairness Doctrine Department, I bring you the Quote of the Week.

"I'm not here to say that the government is always right, but when the government tells you to do something, I'm sure you would all agree that I think you all recognize that is something you need to do," - Senator Christopher Bond, MO (R)

Yep. A Republican U.S. Senator said that.

What was that you were saying about Democrats being Socialists?

Hat tip: Cattallarchy

Democrat Translator

Now this is just funny

I'll work on one for Republicans.

Our Mayor, she has teh smart

Sheila Dixon, the incredibly not well spoken mayor of Baltimore, is under investigation for corruption. This is not a suprise, she was under investigation when the good folks in Baltimore elected her (get what you deserve, I suppose).

She recently responded, showing anger that the press is getting information, but she's not allowed to talk about the case.
Dixon told the media gathered at City Hall "this is a process" and "she is cooperating with authorities." She says it's aggravating that members of the media can talk about this, but she can't.

"I can't talk about it in the media because it is under investigation, but certain media people are getting information from the prosecutor's office and that really bothers me because there is a process," Dixon said.

She says she knows how to maintain a budget and is focusing on the future of the city. Dixon encouraged members of the media to look at documents relating to her actions at Board of Estimates meetings. She says she abstains when there is a conflict of interest.

Dixon had no comment about allegations that she used gift cards designed for needy people. Dixon says she is not going to discuss the allegations in depth and referred questions to her attorneys. She also thanked her supporters.

Dixon told the media she would survive this.

"I take this business of what I do one day at a time. I will continue to stay focused in this position I am in, as I long as I am in this position," said Dixon.

In a statement to the Eyewitness News Tuesday, Mayor Dixon admitted, "In late 2003 and early 2004, I had a personal relationship with Ron Lipscomb. We were both separated from our respective spouses at the time, we traveled together and exchanged gifts on special occasions. Our brief relationship was personal, and it did not influence my decisions related to matters of city government."

On Wednesday, Dixon said more about the relationship.

"Despite my relationship, Ron Lipscomb is a great person. It was a personal relationship. I wasn't the mayor then...there's a process that the Baltimore Development Corporation and Housing goes through. That was under the O'Malley Administration who handled those," said Dixon.

Documents reveal investigators were after computer records of the relationship when they raided Doracon Contracting last year. Lipscomb is Doracon's president.

In one case, the document states Dixon voted on a $13 million tax break for Doracon--for the Spinnaker Bay building in Harbor East-- the same day she and Lipscomb went on a lavish trip to New York.

The document also reveals trips the two took to Colorado, Boston and Chicago, and that Lipscomb was at Dixon's birthday celebration in the Bahamas. It raises questions about whether Doracon and Lipscomb paid for travel and lodging expenses.

The document also revealed Dixon's expenditures during the trip she and Lipscomb took to Chicago, including $570 for Jimmy Choo sandals, more than $600 spent at Coach, $4,400 for clothes at Armani and more than $2,200 at a Michigan Avenue boutique.

Ms. Mayor, there is a big difference between not being allowed to talk about something, and having your lawyer tell you to not talk about something. You are free, at any time, to say whatever you want about this case. You can't, because your lawyer (rightly so) has advised you to keep quiet.

Don't get angry about that.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sounds familiar

Someone named Saddam said similar things to Iran's contention that Isreal attacking nuclear plants "impossible".

Now I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure Isreal can, if they want.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Diversity and Unity of Idiocy

Unless, of course, you wear a scarf on your head. That might look bad.

Hypocrite, he is. Her too, as she still supports him.

So she's the idiot of the day.

Monday, June 16, 2008

See into the future

This is what government run healthcare is going to look like.
Summoned by the city of Amagasaki one recent morning, Minoru Nogiri, 45, a flower shop owner, found himself lining up to have his waistline measured. With no visible paunch, he seemed to run little risk of being classified as overweight, or metabo, the preferred word in Japan these days.

But because the new state-prescribed limit for male waistlines is a strict 33.5 inches, he had anxiously measured himself at home a couple of days earlier. “I’m on the border,” he said.

Under a national law that came into effect two months ago, companies and local governments must now measure the waistlines of Japanese people between the ages of 40 and 74 as part of their annual checkups. That represents more than 56 million waistlines, or about 44 percent of the entire population.

Those exceeding government limits — 33.5 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women, which are identical to thresholds established in 2005 for Japan by the International Diabetes Federation as an easy guideline for identifying health risks — and having a weight-related ailment will be given dieting guidance if after three months they do not lose weight. If necessary, those people will be steered toward further re-education after six more months.

To reach its goals of shrinking the overweight population by 10 percent over the next four years and 25 percent over the next seven years, the government will impose financial penalties on companies and local governments that fail to meet specific targets. The country’s Ministry of Health argues that the campaign will keep the spread of diseases like diabetes and strokes in check.

The ministry also says that curbing widening waistlines will rein in a rapidly aging society’s ballooning health care costs, one of the most serious and politically delicate problems facing Japan today. Most Japanese are covered under public health care or through their work. Anger over a plan that would make those 75 and older pay more for health care brought a parliamentary censure motion Wednesday against Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, the first against a prime minister in the country’s postwar history.


Friday, June 13, 2008


We had an entry system installed today; press the button and the phone rings. If we like you, we can hit * and unlock the door.

Unfortumately, the installers somehow screwed up our DSL, and couldn't figure it out. So, I will be without internet until Tuesday, as that is the soonest Cavalier can get out. (I see Verizon in my future).

So we will see if I survive.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The fun is just beginning

Obama says poor people are too stupid to have credit cards, and it's the banks' fault.
Illinois Sen. Obama, on a two-week tour focusing on problems in the U.S. economy, held a round-table discussion with three people who have seen their credit card debt skyrocket due to a relentless cycle of interest rate increases and fees.

"For too long, credit card companies have been using unfair and deceptive practices to trick Americans into signing agreements they can't afford," Obama said.

Americans have an obsession with credit cards, often using plastic in place of cash, and are encouraged by the credit card companies to use to them to buy not just big-ticket items but on everyday items like gasoline and groceries.

As a consequence, many people owe thousands of dollars in credit card debt and are only able to make the monthly minimum payment, leaving the balance in place for a long time.

Where I come from, that's called spending money you don't have. But these poor people are clearly too stupid, so we will punish those mean old banks.

End result? Less available credit for poor people.

Is there an issue in this country with people living above their means? Yes - but it's an issue of education, not access to credit.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Understanding the basics

Shouldn't someone who writes for an investing advice website understand the basics of Macroeconomics? I think so.

Micheal Shedlock, a "Registered Investment Advisor", claims a recession is obvious based on recent unemployment numbers.
The establishment data was the 5 consecutive decline.


34,000 construction jobs were lost
26,000 manufacturing jobs were lost
27,000 retail trade jobs were lost
29,000 professional and business services jobs were lost
8,000 service providing jobs were added
A total of 57,000 goods producing jobs were lost (higher paying jobs), and for the first time in quite some time, few service providing (generally lower paying jobs) were added. Government, the last pace one wants to see jobs, added 17,000 jobs or the service sector would have actually contracted.

Weakness is now nearly across the board. The last remaining holdouts is education and health services which added 54,000 jobs. But looking ahead there is going to be trouble in this area as states, especially California, cut back services.

These are clearly recession totals yet still we have pundits debating whether or not we are in recession.

So where is he wrong? Recession has a specific definition, and it isn't based on the number of jobs added or removed from the 'Economy'. As a matter of fact, some increase in unemployment could be linked to an upswing in productivity.

Now, this doesn't mean things are as good as they could be, but it's an inflationary issue, not a recession issue.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Another example of government intervention screwing you

And another example of what "free government run healthcare" will be like.

Baltimore taxi drivers, being a reasonably ingenious sort, have figured out that sitting waiting for someone to call for a cab and going where the dispatcher tells them is more economical from a fuel usage standpoint than driving around looking for people waving their hands.

The most important passage from the article:
A fare increase might help, but taxi drivers such as Okiyi probably will have to struggle through the summer without any changes. Cab fares start at $1.80 and rise in 20-cent increments based on mileage and waiting time. A 55-cent fuel surcharge is added on top of those rates.

Baltimore's 1,000 cabs are regulated by the Maryland Public Service Commission, which evaluates twice a year whether industry costs have risen to a point where the charges can be passed on to consumers. LaWanda Edwards, a PSC spokeswoman, said the fuel surcharge has not changed since 2006, when the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.12.

Before that, the fuel surcharge was 15 cents. Any increase in the meter rate or fuel surcharge would not take effect until September, Edwards said.

No emergency surcharge in response to the present fuel price spike has been discussed, Edwards said. But the PSC evaluates the cab industry's rates every January and July, she said. Cab companies have not complained officially about their rising gasoline costs because they expect that they will have an opportunity for an adjustment after the PSC reviews the industry conditions next month, Edwards said.

In recent weeks, taxi companies in many towns and cities across the United States have asked for - and, in many cases, received - permission to increase their prices, either in the form of a fuel surcharge or an increase in meter rates.

Cab companies in Oklahoma City, St. Louis and small cities in Massachusetts and Indiana have obtained increases, according to news reports. And Chicago recently passed its first fuel surcharge for taxis, tacking on up to $1 per ride, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Meanwhile, taxi industries in Boston, Buffalo, N.Y., and Manchester, N.H., are pushing for fare increases or fuel surcharges to help get them through the fuel pinch.

"Nationwide, the industry is asking for rate relief, which means a fare increase," said Alfred LaGasse, president of the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association, a national trade group that represents about 1,000 transportation companies. "It's pretty universal. It's not limited to large cities or small cities."

On Friday, Montgomery County allowed its four cab companies, which operate about 650 cabs, to institute a 90-day emergency fuel surcharge of $1.50 per trip.

Notice the word "allowed". Since taxi drivers' and companies' prices are set by the government, they must take other actions in order to sustain their business. Which means worse service for you. Instead of being able to decide to hail that cab when it starts to rain on your walk home, you'll have to call for one, and wait 20 minutes (assuming they'll send a cab to someone who called from a cell phone without an address.)

This, of course, is the best example to the layperson, but price fixing by government has a number of drawbacks, as it always limits the choice of the consumer. Want a nicer cab, and willing to pay for it? Tough. Want to get the cab faster, and pay a little extra? Tough. Want a bargain cab that's a little less comfortable? Tough again.

I'm sure I'm right this time

All during this election season, the things I was sure about all came to be wrong. I was sure the Democrats would come to their senses and nominate someone a little more impressive, given the horrible candidate John Kerry was; I was sure we would see Bill Richardson (someone this Libertarian would consider over a random Republican), or even John Edwards.

Alas, the two media darlings, and two of the three worst candidates (although Kucinich at least stands on principle), ended up destroying any shot the Democrats have of winning the Presidency.

On the Republican side, I was sure, SURE, that Fred Thompson would be the nominee, and that he would certainly be the next President. McCain wasn't even on my radar screen, heck, even the Republicans admitted he's not really one of them.

And, being an optimist, I thought a Richardson/Thompson or Edwards/Thompson might give us a shot at debating some real differences, and maybe getting a President a little more, well, Presidential than we've had in the last 20 or so years.

But this time, I'm sure.

Hilliary says she would be "open" to being Obama's running mate. Fat chance. The single best litmus test of Barack Obama is who he picks as his running mate. If it's Ms. Clinton, you'll know he's not fit to be President.

How could she even think it's possible? Really?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Great entertainment

Goodness, this election season has been entertaining. Now the latest episode, Obama "resigns" from his church after 20 years, apparently having just noticed what the pastors were saying.
Obama submitted a letter of resignation to Trinity United Church of Christ on Friday, saying he was leaving his spiritual home for nearly all of his adult life "with sadness." He told reporters last night that he didn't want to have to answer questions every time someone at the church said something controversial.

"This was one I didn't see coming," Obama said of attacks on his links to Wright and the church. "I did not anticipate my fairly conventional Christian faith being subject to such scrutiny."

Obama said he prayed about the decision with his wife, Michelle, and another Trinity pastor, the Rev. Otis Moss III, and didn't want the church subject to added scrutiny because of his candidacy. "I am not denouncing the church. It's not a church worthy of denouncing," said Obama, who also said he hadn't been there in months.

The move comes as Obama is poised to claim title to the Democratic nomination as early as next week - although Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York also remains in the race - and appears designed to try to put the racially charged controversies behind him as he turns to the fall campaign against John McCain.

Obama clearly hoped he had already done that by cutting all ties with Wright, his fiery former pastor who once preached that the United States was to blame for the 9/11 attacks and that God should "damn America" - much-replayed comments that seemed to undercut Obama's appeals for political unity.

Republicans have signaled that they plan to raise Obama's 20-year association with Wright to question Obama's judgment and values in the fall campaign. Obama was married at Trinity and both of his daughters were baptized there.

This is only going to get better - the Republicans haven't even started yet.

As insane as they all are, I'm starting to think Bob Barr might end up looking like the most rational candidate. Progress.

Slow news day, or way too sensitive?

Sharon Stone apparently has apologised for suggesting the earthquakes in China were "karma".

Seriously? Dior is pulling ads? This is in the news? She made an offhand half-stupid comment about a government that regularly opresses its subjects. Isn't the oppression more newsworthy than what some actress says?