Monday, 18 July 2011

In Passing

Not the same thing

Republican FAIL, cont’d.  Dept
So the House Republicans failed to pass HR.2417 (the lightbulb bill) last Tuesday, but then they redeemed themselves on Friday, so all’s right with the world, right?

Not so fast, Kemosabe: HR.2417 (which would have passed easily had it not been for the leadership‘s suspend-the-rules cuteness) would have repealed the 2012 lightbulb ban. Period. Gone.

Friday’s vote merely blocks the ban’s enforcement (by denying funding), but leaves Fred Upton’s 2007 efficiency standards in place.

Meaning that to keep the ban from going into effect, we will have to write (or amend) a similar restriction into every subsequent budget. Every year.

(And of course there’s always the possibility of some "public interest” group getting a court decision mandating enforcement, regardless.)

Which leaves the situation even more uncertain than the impossible conditions test that Michele Bachmann’s (HR.849) attempt would have imposed.

With the horizon stretching only as far as the next congress, you can bet that there will be no domestic investment in manufacturing old-standard bulbs. Of course, the uncertainty presents no obstacle to importing them from China.  More jobs shifted overseas!

Unfortunately, some of the smart people out there haven’t understood this wrinkle yet.

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Sunday, 17 July 2011

In Passing

Thanks for reminding me why I don’t have a cable subscription

Hey, let’s celebrate sociopathy!  Dept
Ron Radosh:
AMC’s Breaking Bad — Simply the Best Program on Television
...starring Bryan Cranston as Walter White, a high-school chemistry teacher turned top of the line drug kingpin...which he thought he could sell to addicts with the aid of a former student drop-out, who... was also an addict himself...
As Walt gets in deeper, embracing his criminality and signing on to run Gus’ pharmaceutical-grade-meth superlab, Breaking Bad becomes something incredibly compelling

Oh, BTW, Ron...?
With a family to support, and desperately in need of funds to support them, he decided to use his knowledge of chemistry to develop a method of cooking pure crystal meth...

 ...Who wants White’s family to fall into economic collapse because he was given the bad deal of incurable lung cancer?
Celebrating sociopathy while advancing the agitprop that for the "unfortunate,” 21st century America is indistinguishable from 19th century France. Horsefeathers. (And Walter White ain’t no Jean Valjean, either.)

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Wednesday, 13 July 2011

In Passing

Groucho could have said it...

Somebody should be writing for Jay Leno  Dept
The BATFE announced a plan to cut down on gun smuggling to Mexico. (Personally, I wish they'd stop gun smuggling to Mexico, but I understand that going cold turkey is tough, so maybe they can cut back as a first step.)

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In Passing

Told ya so...

Republican FAIL, cont’d.  Dept
The Hill:
The House rejected a bill Tuesday aimed at repealing a slew of light bulb efficiency standards that conservatives have targeted as an egregious example of federal overreach.

The Better Use of Light Bulbs (BULB) Act, sponsored by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), failed on a 233-193 vote, with a two-thirds majority needed for passage.
A suspend-the-rules vote guaranteed to fail...?
The vote fell mostly along party lines, but five Democrats voted in favor of the bill and 10 Republicans voted against the bill.  One Republican voted "present.”
The list:
Charles Bass* [R-NH]
Brian Bilbray* [R-CA]
Scott Garrett [R-NJ]
Morgan Griffith [R-VA]
Richard Hanna* [R-NY]
Tim Huelskamp [R-KS]
Tom Reed [R-NY]
David Reichert* [R-WA]
Scott Rigell [R-VA]
Glenn Thompson* [R-PA]

Rob Bishop [R-UT] "present”

* proud members of The 92
Seriously, if the GOP can't get this stuff right, the hopes of getting something as gigantic as the debt ceiling even remotely right is depressingly low.
That’s assuming the Republicans actually wanted to pass it, which IMO would be a pretty big assumption nowadays.

Glenn Reynolds:
[Slating the bill for a vote] doesn’t get Fred Upton off the hook.  You passed [and sponsored] this, you own it until it’s repealed.   And I agree that Fred Upton should be stripped of his seniority by House Republicans as punishment.

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Friday, 08 July 2011

In Passing

Rounding Second, headed for Third (World, that is!)

New York Post:

[New York City] is so hard up for cash that it’s rationing toilet paper in women’s public restrooms -- to the point where bathroom attendants are doling out a few measly squares per patron -- along the world-famous Coney Island boardwalk.

The Post witnessed stone-faced Parks Department employees leave toilet-paper dispensers empty last week and instead force astonished female beachgoers to form "ration lines” in the bathrooms.
Chris Wysocki recalls P.J. O’Rourke’s famous line:
These were people who believed everything about the Soviet Union was perfect, but they were bringing their own toilet paper.
They’re called Progressives, and this is the world they want for all of us.

Related (links HT: Chris):

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In Passing

Just pull the damn plug

Stupid meme of the day  Dept
You start with this:
If Treasury were to decide to delay payments, it would need to re-program government computers that generate automatic payments as they fall due -- a massive and difficult undertaking.
...sensationalize it (a bit):
...It’s far from clear that it’s even possible to stop making the 3 million payments that Treasury makes automatically every day.  Doing so involves a massive computer-reprogramming effort which I’m sure could not be implemented overnight...
...and you get:
if Felix Salmon is to be believed, Treasury will send out checks anyway because it can’t stop.
The sad thing is, while I’m sure Glenn has his tongue firmly in cheek, because it’s "computers,”[1] somebody is sure to believe it.

Watch for its appearance on the weekend gabfests!

Elsewhere: Smitty reacts:
Nonsense: ... This is more of a junkie/needle problem than a technical one.


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Wednesday, 06 July 2011

In Passing

The only way it could have been better is if this had been my Fourth of July post


Town meeting #1.  State of emergency, among those present are the state governor, fire chief and assorted senior regional wildfire officers.  Tensions and stakes are high.  First question from the floor, from a worried community:

"How can I donate to the Red Cross?”
Only in America, and goddam am I proud of it!

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In Passing

Government on both sides of “Fast and Furious”

"You mean we’re *all* FBI agents?”  Dept
Gunwalking into Knebel & Bailey territory?
...Congressional sources have learned that not only was U.S. taxpayer money being used to buy guns that were later sent to Mexico, but the main target of the investigation was actually a FBI informant and former drug dealer who had been deported years ago. - Fox News
UPDATE (110708 16:30):
Fast and Furious, aka Gunwalker, Funded By Stimulus Bill
Hidden in plain sight, in a bill that no one read, was $10,000,000 for an ATF project called "Gunrunner.”...

Attorney General Eric Holder said he wouldn’t authorize it, but someone in Congress knew enough about it to earmark ten million bones for it.  And Obama signed the bill and gave it to them.

How much money did Operation Gunrunner get?  (added 110708 16:45)
CBS News:  ATF head talks gunwalking to investigators
Pajamas Media:  ATF’s Kenneth Melson Blows Whistle on Justice Department
W.F. Godbold:
I look forward to the day when we learn that all organized crime is actually perpetrated by various undercover agents infiltrating each others’ organizations to get to the bottom of organized crime.


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Saturday, 02 July 2011

In Passing

Ripping off the teachers, too?

Washington Examiner:

In the past, Kaukauna’s [Kaukauna School District, Wisconsin] agreement with the teachers union required the school district to purchase health insurance coverage from something called WEA Trust -- a company created by the Wisconsin teachers union.  "It was in the collective bargaining agreement that we could only negotiate with them,” says [school board President Todd] Arnoldussen.  "Well, you know what happens when you can only negotiate with one vendor.”  This year, WEA Trust told Kaukauna that it would face a significant increase in premiums.

Now, the collective bargaining agreement is gone, and the school district is free to shop around for coverage.  And all of a sudden, WEA Trust has changed its position.  "With these changes, the schools could go out for bids, and lo and behold, WEA Trust said, ‘We can match the lowest bid,’” says Republican state Rep. Jim Steineke, who represents the area and supports the Walker changes.  At least for the moment, Kaukauna is staying with WEA Trust, but saving substantial amounts of money.
Most commenters, both on the Examiner story and over at Althouse, are concentrating on the ripping-off-the-taxpayers aspect of this story.  But the taxpayers weren’t the only ones getting a haircut: I’m confident that the WEA Trust’s higher-than-market prices didn’t trickle down as improved health benefits for the union’s teacher-members, and I’d lay better than even money that a lot of the Trust’s excess costs wound up as "compensation” paid to union officers and their cronies.  While Ace wonders about a hidden agenda:
Why, this is such a bizarre state of affairs, you’d almost think... the teachers’ unions’ mission was not to improve education, but rather to keep it in crisis forever so they could make ever-escalating demands upon the taxpayers.
...I believe I’ll opt for old-fashioned graft-n-corruption as a  first explanation.

Union-operated benefit funds have a long history of thievery, the poster children being the gangster-plundered funds run by (mostly) east and west coast trades’ locals and, closer to home, the Teamsters Union’s Central States Pension Fund.[1]  Even absent outside criminal influence, union operations historically have not been paragons of efficiency.  At Kaukauna, the "excess” money the district was forced to spend on "health benefits” wasn’t there to spend on other things... like teacher pay.  And in view of these revelations, were I a member of the union, I’d be very interested in discovering who wrote the single-vendor provision into the contract, and finding out where the excess money went.

Ace, again:
There is corruption going on here that we didn't even imagine.   Corrupt people can think up too many corrupt schemes for the honest man to keep up with.

[1]  Although for Teamsters’ members, it turns out that replacing the mafia with "professional financial managers” from Wall Street may not have improved matters a great deal.

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Friday, 01 July 2011

In Passing

Of course, they’re probably remembering Britain as it was 50 years ago...

Toronto Star:

Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence from the United Kingdom, but a new island-wide poll suggests most residents of the tiny Caribbean nation believe they would be better off had the country remained a British colony.

Via:  Insty

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