Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The end of the Afghan venture
Okay, the then Attorney General realised that, legally, his first opinion was wrong. The problem is that his new opinion, which was legally correct, gave support to a invasion that was neither militarily or politically correct.     It was not politically correct, because it was based on a false assumption: the presence of WMD. It was not militarily correct because it was based on another false assumption: that the US would send enough troops to do the job and had a plan to run the country well until elections could be held.
Clarke breaks free of a failed approach
Philip Davies says that "Lots of Conservative supporters, whether they be in Parliament or voters, will feel very disappointed by this announcement." and Jack Straw is still whining old sound-bites about "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime".  Well prison is tough on neither.

Mr Clarke has some public education to do, and in the face of opponents who are willing to deliberately mislead the British public for political gain.

All Home Office research for the past 30 years, including research run under Jack Straw's rule, has shown that prison doesn't work: it doesn't deter anyone, it doesn't rehabilitate anyone and it doesn't reduce crime.  All prison seems really good at is making someone more likely to commit a crime.

Okay, the economic argument is a good way to start - there is no better example of a government programme that does not deliver the public much bang for its buck.  But Clarkie needs to explain exactly why prison doesn't work and some of the alternatives that actually do work, if he is going to take the public with him on this one.

It will not be easy, government may view deterent and rehabilitation as high priorities, but the public sees revenge as the most important function of prison.  After learning that prison will make a person worse rather than better, most voters will say: "I know, but I still want him to go to jail for what he did."

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Survey puts Liberal Democrats' popularity at post-election low
Not unexpected: Labour politicians have been heaping calumny on the Liberals heads, seeing their left wing as vulnerable. The media help, by rushing to fasten on anything negative that anyone says about any political party or politician.

That this is a totally self-serving exercise by those in pursuit of power, one that operates in disregard of - even in spite of - any benefit to the country or its citizens, goes un-remarked.
The biggest deficit is democratic
"If they are too candid they will lose elections."
That is the problem.  We, the electorate, want the government to give us more services while lowering taxes and reducing the deficit.   If anyone says this cannot be done, we refuse to vote for them.  We demand that our political candidates lie to us.

The recent financial crisis had a similar root.  We, at all levels of the economy, demanded higher returns and lower risk.   Our financial institutions, looking for market share, lied to us that tis was possible. The crash was then inevitable.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Frustration With Obama Goes Beyond Left And Right
Obama does not have an excessive reverence for authority, he has a excessive reverence for people - even those who disagree with him. This is what extremists, whether Dumbocrat or Retroblican, cannot tolerate: they think anyone who doesn't hate the folks they hate is either stupid, venal or evil. Obama tolerates both sides and tries to find common ground - they can't stand that.
Prince Harry THROWN From Horse
Like his dad before him, we will see Harry (and Will) fall off a lot. 
Why? Always riding someone else's horses at a charity match.
Making an idiot of oneself to raise money and attention for charity may not be dignified, but it is part of the job - a job for which the British royals are grossly underpaid.
Palin: Obama Selling Out Israel
Her preference for Israel's daft leadership is understandable: the 2008 campaign showed that she likes getting b*tch-slapped in public. Well, at least she now knows where Israel is - I suppose that's something.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Sunday Roundup: A New equation for Afghanistan
Perhaps we should.
If so, the new equation should  plan with how we deal - post withdrawal - with those Afghans who supported democracy and equal rights for women: as refugees or as corpses.
G-20 Protests In Toronto
How shall we protest globalisation? 
I know, let's go damage a bunch of local shops.
Remind me, the difference between these balaclava-clad "protesters" and Al Qaeda is....?
Consciousness and the End of the War Between Science and Religion
The conflict between science and faith is a red herring debated by people who need something to do.
Science is belief based on proof: evidence though repeatable observation.
Faith is belief in the absence of proof: evidence through the self-determined appropriateness of lore
   Trying to use one to test the other is just silly.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Taxpayer-Owned Fannie Mae Attacks Struggling Homeowners
Simple analogy: I borrowed 10,000 to buy a car. Now it's only worth 8,000. 
Should I be able to walk away?
   Okay, knew the car's value was going to fall in advance - 
   but I also knew house prices can go down as well as up.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

How do you cut the state by a quarter?
Cut under-worked and wheel-spinning bureaucrats (10%)
Start charging for the the services most in demand (10%)
Stop providing the services least in demand (5%)
     There, that wasn't so hard, was it?
Sorry for interfering, but this building is too brutal, Prince wrote to Qatari sheikh
(Embarrassment for Charles as letter to Sheikh criticising Chelsea Barracks development is published)
Why embarrassed? 
Oh - I forgot - telling the truth is a no-no in architecture as well as politics.
The limits of Mr Osborne's fairness
"some people could lose their DLA"
       OMG - some people who are not disabled could stop getting paid for lying? Horrors!
America Cowed: Are We Too Frightened to Forge Our Future?
Well, yes, sadly, we are. Pundits of the left and right tell us to be afraid of politicians, especially those from the other side, to hate our bankers, to cut and run from our military obligations, to walk away from mortgages that are under water, that the sky is heating up, that criminals have taken over our streets and that every stranger is a potential rapist or child molester.   They have preached fear for so long that we believe them.

Which came first, courage or FDR?
Would courage have come without the necessity of war to bring it forward?
If we do not find it, and quickly, it will be China that takes the lead and we, like Europe before us, will have to learn to follow.
So, as best I can make out from these charts:
1)     Except for a brief period under Slick Willy, we have always spent more than we make
2)     Georgie Porgie took debt-per-household up by 20%, Barry-O has done the same
6)     Entitlement programs won’t eat all of government until 2050 - That surprised me, as Simpson & Bowles (chairs of the be-partisan deficit commission) said that entitlements were already eating all our revenue and we were borrowing our discretionary spending.  Maybe they were including interest on debt & the two wars – or maybe they were just full of beans and going for shock value in that interview.
9)     Anti-poverty spending went up when Georgie and the Retroblicans had control of congress, but down when the majority passed to the Dumbocrats – That surprised me too.
12)  Georgie didn’t even slow the curve on the increase in socialized medicine (Medicare) – in fact it went up faster under him than any previous Pres.
14)  Pork actually went down under Georgie when the Dumbocrats got control of congress – That surprised me three.
18)    By 2020, the country will be like most Americans: borrowing just enough to pay off its credit-card interest.
20)  Spending has traditionally gone up when revenues go down, including under Georgie, and usually gone  down when revenues go up (except under Georgie)

While I realise that the main purpose of these slides is to scare us into understanding we cannot go on like Georgie and Barry, expecting China and the Arabs to fund our borrow-and-spend lifestyle, they are none-the-less also a very good lesson in the history of the Noughties.
Is the Universe Merely a Statistical Accident?
"just a computer made of meat" (just?)
"a consequence of its anatomy and physiology, and nothing more." (and nothing less)
"You're nothing but a pack of neurons" (and how does that work?)

Kind of like telling a woman "you're nothing but a housewife"

With or without any gods, what more do you want from a miracle to keep our minds busy and amused for millenia?
Sweden's free schools model has 'limited impact'
Okay, this study from a not-altogether disinterested organization, says that free schools are only mildly positive. Well, by definition, mildly positive is better than the system we have. Add the benefits of taking one level of bureaucracy out of the money path from taxpayer to school, and it seems a no-brainer to all bar the unions and the local bureaucrats who will trap less money as it goes by.
Lib Dems recoil at Osborne's 'regressive' Budget
"would hit the poorest hardest"
"The richest will pay the most"
Figures don't lie, but liars do figure.
        When you hear someone attacking the budget cuts, ask yourself who their comments are meant to benefit - and whether they propose an alternative method to stop us spending more than we make.
ittleglimmer  in reply to had_it    The same argument applies to someone supporting the budget cuts, surely?
        Well, no. For one thing, they are already talking about a specific proposal - not just attacking the other for the sake of scoring points for their political party - which many pols see as far more important than the people of Britain.
     It would, however, apply to someone attacking a person that opposes the budget cuts simply to score political points, as compared to getting on with doing something useful.
Acid rain: An environmental crisis that disappeared
Where are Malthus and Ehrlich when we need them?

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Obama's Golfing: Does Us All Some Good
The consensus seems to be that no one in power should be allowed any recreation while any crisis is ongoing.  After all, burnt out people make much better decisions, don't they?
      Actually, the problem in the choice of recreation. 
If Hayward had gone hiking with his kid, it would have been okay, but not that elitist sailing.
Odd that a Retroblican should notice that golf is seen by Americans as worse than the gym or basketball - and that a Dumbocrat did not.
Nebraska Immigration Law Passes: Ban Hiring Or Renting Property To Illegal Immigrants
I think law this might fail on the licencing aspect, rather than on the illegal immigrant aspect.
      However, to suggest that preventing people from acting illegally is "...completely out of step with American values of fairness and equality" is a perversion of the words "American values," "fair" and "equal".
Israel Defense Minister Criticizes Jerusalem Plan To Demolish Palestine Homes
Gosh! Someone in the Middle East with common sense? Whatever next?
Osborne opts for 'tough but fair' tactic
Well, forgiving one grand of taxable income the lowest paid puts some 200 quid in their pockets,  completely shielding them from the 50 quid they will pay in increased VAT - so it is not as regressive as it sounds.
'Muslim soldier' admits Times Square bomb plot
 Yes, 'soldier' we get where you are coming from: 
You know the women and children you tried to kill had nothing whatever to do with your grievances against the United States - but attacking the Congress, the President or the Pentagon is too hard and killing babies at random is much easier. We see that you have been mis-led to believe that the mouhareb murder of innocents that you planned is somehow acceptable in Islam, even though both the Qu'ran and the Hadith say it is not, as do all Muslims worthy of the name."
Leading article: The time has come for some realism
Well, quite right : time to be realistic.
Time to start talking about how and why our troops were beaten and our nation routed. 
Time to start thinking about what will happen to the Afghans who supported us, who were for democracy, or who were for the dignity of women - and whether we should make arrangements for them as refugees or as corpses.
Steve Richards: I hope the Slovenians beat usNo, actually, you don't. As your article make clear, you hope the Slovenians beat "them".
Basically, you're all blame and no game.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

How the ancient rhododendrons of Heligan were saved by cloning
Oh No! GM flowers. Ban them all - quickly, before they escape into the wild and destroy either the planet or someone's anti-GM stance.

David Cameron: 'It is painful to work with former IRA chief Martin McGuinness'
Well, I suppose that if we prosecute soldiers for Bloody Sunday, we must also prosecute McGuinness and Adams, just to avoid the charge of bias. Then, too, there is moral responsibility to consider: the murders McGuinness and Adams connived at were deliberate, the massacre was a situation that got out of control. (No one told the soldiers in advance - "go down there and kill a bunch of catholics.")

How Lush made a meal out of fox hunting

Hey corporate retailers and anti-hunt lobbyists make good bed-fellows - both are accustomed to lying if they can get a benefit from it and both think their ends justify almost any means.

Monday, 14 June 2010

White House turns up heat on BP with flurry of new demands
Oh goody, a public show trial! We will now be able to pillory the guy we asked to hire people to drill in deep water in the Gulf on our behalf. That is much more satisfactory than looking ourselves in the mirror and realising we are the ones at fault.
Report: US finds mineral riches in Afghanistan
This is not new (it has been known since the 2007 report on which Petraeus's talk was based) but it does give some hope that Afghanistan can develop and economy that is not totally dependent on opium.
        Of course, this may upset the Taliban, who view opium not as merely a cash crop, but as a way of waging war on the children of the west.
Steve Connor: We need a global debate on population
We do need a debate, but we will not get one. Politicians won't lead it - they can even get IVF taken off the list of treatments the NHS use other people's money to pay for. The religious won't lead it, since they count on the increase to keep their congregations, and hence their pay, alive. Journalists won't lead it, because they are afraid to lead anything for fear of people examining their other biases. Educators won't lead it, being afraid of telling their PTA that those with more than 2 kids made a mistake. 
         Okay, scientists might be willing to lead it, but no one listens to them.
PS: Scare tactics will not help bring about debate: Both Malthus and Ehrlich thought "the next 40 years are going to be very different to the previous 40 years"
Prince Charles's 'role' in barracks row criticised
Sir Nicholas sGrimshaw "needs to make up his mind" about his public and private role. He can write to any royal he likes and tell them what they may and may not say. But I don't think that's the right role for him, if he's an officer of a body chartered by the Crown.
     The Royal Academy, it appears, "didn't take seriously enough" the need for aesthetics in public buildings
Call for a Constitutional Convention
Convention goals should be (in order of priority)
1) term limits: maximum of 6 Representative or two Senator terms
2) congressional salaries never to rise by a percentage greater than the average rise in US hourly wages in the previous year and said salaries never again to be voted on by congress.
3) congressional pensions and healthcare benefits to equal those at the "average" US employer
4) A spending cap on every race - "no campaign for a candidate in this race may collect and spend more than $_____."
5) Campaigns may not accept funds from outside the boundaries of the constituency.
6) Political (named-candidate) ads may not be aired more than 30-days before an election.
7) "none of the above" must be included on all ballots.

Arianna Huffington: Help, I Need a Five-Word Speech for the Webby Awards!

Monday night, HuffPost will receive a Webby Award. As is the tradition, Webby winners only get five words for their acceptance speeches - and I would love your input on what this year's five words should be.

langej Commented    "We huff and we puff.”     Not Published  

then     “No posts we don't like” Also not Published

  • Obama Warns Of 'Massive Layoffs Of Teachers, Police, And Firefighters'   WASHINGTON (AP) -- If Chuck Lacasse had gotten his pink slip four days earlier, Uncle Sam would have covered most of his family's health insurance while he looked for a new job.
    langej Commented    “It isn't really about welfare, it is about [you folks giving me some of your money so I don't have to spend mine while I take my own sweet] time looking for another job." Right, got it.

Friday, 11 June 2010

A Dead-Serious Thought on BP
Yeah, drive BP into bankruptcy! That will reduce the funds available for clean up and see for those pesky gulf-coast residents. It will also see for most pensioners in Britain (whose pension funds are heavily invested in BP). After all, the Brits have been paying twice the price we pay for gasoline, have a much more fuel-efficient national car fleet and a more carbon-efficient energy industry. It makes them holier than thou. Hurting their old-folks will take them down a peg. Oh, and it will let BP lay off with impunity and renegotiate pensions and healthcare for their 80,000 workers.
Just a win-win all 'round.
BP must remain stable, Cameron tells BP chief
I do love the British! The Americans should not call it "British" Petroleum, it hasn't been called that for years. It is a multi-national that just happens to have its HQ in Britain.
     Oh, and our British government should tell the Americans to lay off our company
AZ Law: Unconstitutional, Unsound, Ineffective and Un-American by Rep Mike Honda
State-by-state piecemeal is the only option, since you lot in congress won't do anything. 
You want to know whose fault the Arizona law is?  Look in the mirror.
Willetts plans 'degrees on the cheap' to cut costs
If all one wants for the students is a piece of paper at the end, then Willets has the right idea. If it is education one is after, this is how not to get it
Australian billionaires take to the streets for tax protest
Aussies never disappoint. They may not like the fact that some people became squillionaires, but they know most of them got there by sheer luck - and that is something few Aussies begrudge. 
       Furthermore, Aussies recognise when the government is trying on a deal that is patently unfair and won't have a bar of it. They know that if the government is allowed to get away with it with one lot, their own lot may be next.
Taxpayers Should Help Pay For BP Spill Cleanup
Why not?  The taxpayers asked BP to drill there>

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Deep-water oil drilling: banned in America, allowed here
Well, there's some evidence that we've not completely lost the plot then.
I was worried that we would kow-tow to the ignoranti with a knee-jerk ban on any off-shore drilling.
Leading article: The lessons of the Gulf of Mexico crisis
"the precautionary principle" - don't do anything that might upset the ignorant and don't do anything that carries any risk whatsoever. In other words, Mr Columbus, stay home.
Do we need a 'Cadbury Law' to protect British companies?
Only if we wish to impoverish ourselves, trying to hide our heads in the sand like an osterich. That has been the unfailing result of protectionism in the past.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

So exactly how much of a say will Mr Osborne give the public?
Proposed rule: any proposed cut in spending or rise in taxes must directly effect the person proposing. That will reduce the common "cut everything I don't use, keep everything I do use" responses.

PS: The people who say this is just a PR exercise, rather than doing the work to propose spending cuts and increased taxes, are creating a diversion from the real problem. What is their motivation, I wonder?

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Legacy for One Billionaire: Death, but No Taxes
Darn! We were hoping to confiscate half of that fortune to pay off our debts. 
Can't we just pass a simple bill of attainder:
"__________ (fill in a name), who has lots of money, has to give us some, regardless of any tax laws."
Rep For Foreign Bankers Physically Restrains HuffPost Reporter From Questioning Treasury Official
Well, that's a step in the right direction then.
Get an appointment, do an interview - the world does not wait on your convenience. 
Also, you'll get more information than by ambulance chasing or door-stopping
Still 'Jobs, Jobs, Jobs'  (by Leo Hindle Chairman, U.S. Economy/Smart Globalization Initiative at the New America Foundation)
Some pluses some minuses, Leo
1) New deal job corps. Good idea - take Robert Reich's proposal to put the unemployed on the beaches in the Gulf fighting oil, paid for by BP.
2) Buy Domestic: Bad idea - this is what turned the 30s from a recession into a world-wide depression.
3) Infrastructure: Iffy idea - we tried this with the stimulus plan. Are you saying it isn't working? If not, why do it again hoping for a different outcome?
4) New taxes: Good idea - but do not exempt IRAs and mutual funds and add repeal of the Nixon tax breaks for ALL income levels.

PS: looking at credit-card debt, it is not surprising that voters "barely understand" the deficit.
Put it in simple terms: "If, year after year, you spend more money than you make, you go broke."
When Everything Seems Out of Control, the President Must Take Charge
Hey! Bobby! It is not out of control, it is just not fixed yet.  There is a difference. 
Contrary to pundit populism, additional control will not fix the problem and will probably get in the way of fixing it. 
     Fortunately for us, our president has kept a cool head and not bowed to those screaming in panic. He knows that the government cannot fix this problem and he has chosen not to curry favor with the ignorant by pretending that it can - or to waste time on seeming to be active so his poll numbers go up
The Real Helen Thomas Scandal
"Somehow, the debate shifted from Israel behaving badly to Helen Thomas behaving badly."
Well, it's easier, isn't it? 
I mean, a 90-year-old woman is not as adept at defending herself as Nettin-yahoo. 
She doesn't carry bloody video of stabbed, beaten or shot soldiers or civilians around in her pocket, like the spokespeople for the Israeli government and the blockade-runners do.
In fact, her silly comments aren't as defensible as either side of the blockade (nor as consequential, but who cares about that). She's low hanging fruit: journalists:sic 'em.
Obama's Oil Spill Emotions
Why doesn't he panic like other air-headed politicians and, for that matter, the pundits themselves?
Couldn't he cry and foam at the mouth a bit?
Couldn't he at least throw a couple of toys out of the pram?
Why is he so calm, cool-headed and just trying to get on with solving problems? 
Isn't that un-American?

Monday, 7 June 2010

Put the Young and Unemployed to Work Cleaning BP's Mess, Then Send BP the Bill
Not a bad idea, Robert. Two birds with one stone.
    I pooh-poohed your silly suggestion of a government takeover of BP as produce exactly the opposite of the results you said you wanted. So, in fairness, I should tell you when I think you come up with a good one.
Place BP Under Temporary Receivership
Nice "Me Too" piece, Jesse. Unfortunately, Robert Reich's 5 points miss the mark:
1) says "don't know" is the same as lying
2) assumes, without evidence, that devoting more resources, would be of any help whatever
3) "accountable" means we can now blame the government and not the company responsible
4) assumes, without evidence, that there s another strategy that would help
5) is simply wrong: responsibility (BP's) is now totally clear and would become confused if the government took over.
        In short, your arguments are the equivalent of saying we should take over Nestle because it is the government's responsibility to protect the nation from obesity or take over British American Tobacco because it is the government's responsibility to protect the nation from cancer.
Lets Break the Vegan Stigma
You are the kind of Vegan I like: one who says "I am a a vegan because want to be - you go ahead and be whatever it is that you want to be.  Just be nice about it."
        PS: "the laws of nature" say that omnivores eat everything. It is okay to restrict yourself to an unnatural diet, "but be aware of what you are doing and don't kid yourself." It's your karma.
Balls attacks Brown for ignoring immigration
Well, that's helpful, then.  I mean, who is it that benefits when a politician attacks someone else's view of a problem instead of trying to fix it.
Tory doctor calls for 'brave' move to raise alcohol prices
As obesity kills many times the number that succumb to alcohol, this idea will not save anywhere near as many as putting a minimum price per calorie on food.      Truly brave would put 1p minimum per calorie on meat, fats, sugars & carbs, 0.2p minimum per calorie on fish, fruit & veg.
School RE classes are failing to teach children about Christianity
Well, that's a step in the right direction then, assuming that they also omit the religious significance of the other-culture mythologies they discuss. Still, I bet the Jedi, our country's 4th largest religion, doesn't even get a look in.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Should illegal immigrants get a better deal than legal immigrants?

Legal immigrants apply to come to America under a quota system or because they have, prima facie,  a legitimate reason to be here (study, family reunion, needed skill in short supply, business migrant, etc).  They pay their fees, wait in the legal queue  then take up jobs, pay taxes and social security, usually buy health insurance, driving licences and car insurance, and contribute greatly to our economy and to our social well-being.

Illegal immigrants avoid all that, yet still consume some taxpayer-funded services and some medical services funded by the insurance premiums of citizens and legal immigrants, not to mention services from charities that collect money from citizens and legal immigrants for the purpose .

While illegals also contribute to our economy and society, they may do so without paying their fair share of taxes or social security, some go without driving licences, auto insurance or health insurance, and they may depress unskilled wages.  They may also support (however inadvertently) shoddy businesses that deliberately skirt our employment laws, not to mention our health and safety regulations.

Those in favour of a retroactive guest-worker licence program, whereby illegals can register, pay fees, join the normal economy and either return to their home country at the end of their licence or be invited to stay because of their value-add to our country, have a very sensible solution.

After implementing such a program, those who register will be marked as honest workers looking to help both themselves and our country.    Those who do not register - and those who subsequently enter our country without applying for such licence - will be marked as deliberate scoff-laws who are out for their own benefit to the detriment of their host: our nation.  

Those in favour of amnesty for illegal immigrants are left with just one thing to say to legal immigrants: "sucka!"